Never thought it would be possible....
Kysha shares Tegan's
remarkable journey back to the Agility ring
Tegan (Can CH. JEB's Northern Star C.G.C, TH.D, VADC) is a fawn flashy female boxer. Tegan entered our family at the age of 8 weeks. I had just suddenly lost my first boxer to a brain tumor at the age of 4 years (Jeni). Tegan was the only female in the litter, and all I knew is that I wanted a female, so it was an easy choice! She was and still is full of attitude and love. I quickly learned that obedience was a must for this intelligent puppy. We took MANY classes together and the though of competing was on my mind until I saw agility on TV and knew we had to try that. I have always wanted to achieve a title on a Boxer to prove that not only are they pretty, but they DO have brains!
At the age of 3 we started agility classes and she did GREAT. She learned quickly and soon became proficient at all the obstacles. Tegan has no fear of anything - the bigger, the louder, and the 'scarier' the obstacle the better. After less than a year of training she was entered into an agility fun match.. She proceeded to pee in the ring the first run, poop in the ring the second run, and run out of the ring on the third (last) run of the day to visit with 'her' spectators. Needless to say I learned my lessons the hard way and realized that we needed some more practice. By the second fun match (two months later) she was a well behaved Boxer and finished all of her runs cleanly - we were ready to compete!
In the spring of 2001 I came home from work to find only one Boxer greeting me at the door (1 year old male, Owen). Tegan is ALWAYS the first to the door. I looked around the house to find her in her bed shivering. Tegan was unable to get up, she couldn't put weight on her back legs. I proceeded to lift her up and take her outside for pee. Once we were back in the house I went upstairs to call the vet to rush her in. In noticed that one of the dogs had gotten into the garbage - and a cigarette package, and the contents of an ashtray were lying on the floor (friends were over the night before and I guess threw it out - I wasn't aware of this).
Tegan was rushed into the vets that day and they looked her over and thought that perhaps the pain and weakness could have been caused from the toxins in the cigarettes that she could have possibly eaten. We went home with medication for two days. She did improve enough to stand on her back legs, but by the third day she was shivering again. Back to the vets and they went over her thoroughly and noticed that when someone went to touch her lower back she would slump to the ground in pain. They took x-rays of her back and could see right away that her spine (lower back) was "out of line". We were given muscle relaxants and pain relievers to hopefully settle things down, and her back would go back into place. A week on the meds did wonders for her. She was able to walk and function relatively normal, but after another set of x-rays we discovered that things weren't re-aligning themselves properly, and the meds were simply masking the problem - we needed to fix the problem.
We talked with out vet for a LONG time about our options - surgery, chiropractor, meds,… We decided that we would try a chiropractor to see if things could be set back into place. We contacted two canine/equine chiropractors in the area, but neither of them could see us on a regular basis. My vet suggested using his personal chiropractor (human chiropractor), this chiropractor is a dog lover and has worked on a few dogs before. We met with the chiropractor the next day and he did more x-rays and we discovered that her spine had been "out of line" for quite some time. This could have been due to an impact she received or she was born like that - we will probably never know, but I can't remember ANY time that she would have received such a large impact. Two of her vertebrae were starting to bridge (fuse together) and in doing so they were pinching nerves that were running to her legs and that's why she was unable to use them for a while because of the pressure.
Tegan went to the chiropractor twice a week for about two months, and then once a month for about 6 months, and now we are at once every 6-8 weeks!!! We are totally off ALL meds. Another interesting item is that just before she was diagnosed with this spine problem we were dealing with incontinence. She was diagnosed with spay incontinence and took meds to control this. Once we started the chiropractic work she has never had to take the meds again!
During all of the chiropractic work we were SLOWLY increasing her exercise levels and endurance. She would still have some stiff days, but for the most part she was handling everything well. We started her on a good fatty acid supplement, and a
MSM / Gloucosamine pill every day. This helps the vertebrae and joints glide more easily, and will help ward off arthritis for as long as possible.
As of February 2003 Tegan was allowed to come back to agility! She had improved so much that we thought it was time. The goal of allowing her to come back was to keep her mentally stimulated and active more than anything - nobody including myself ever had the idea that she would compete again. She started jumping 6 inches, and a month or so later she moved up to 10 inches, and then finally by the spring she was jumping 16 inches!!! She was having a blast! I was so happy to be playing with her again.
Even though Tegan was back to agility and she was doing well with the chiropractic work I still had this feeling that I could be doing more for her, and she still was not 100%. After some research I found a
canine / equine physiotherapist. Tegan has been seeing the physiotherapist once a month since May 2003, and that has made the last bit of difference in her. Tegan has now gained her muscle mass back and increased her flexibility enormously. The physiotherapy has allowed Tegan to
build / strengthen the muscles / tendons so that she is strong enough to hold her self in line.
I attribute the chiropractic work to Tegan being able to be a normal dog and come back to play at agility. I attribute the physiotherapy work to Tegan being able to compete in agility - something that I NEVER thought possible.
On August 23rd 2003, Tegan's 7th birthday she made her debut in agility as a veteran! Her first 'real' agility run ever, she placed 1st and obtained her first Q towards her Veterans Starters title (AAC). She also won a toy for having the best combined
special / veteran run overall! She performed perfectly and was faster than most of the dogs in the regular class. I had tears in my eyes when we finished the run and I think she knew it was a special moment. I have the run on video-tape and it still makes me teary eyed to watch it.
On the weekend of September 13th & 14th 2003, Tegan competed in her second agility trial, this was a full weekend (two day) trial. Saturday morning she had three Starters standard runs. The first run was FAST, but due to wet morning grass she slipped on her take-off over the third last jump and crashed through it. She was OK and finished the run. The run was still good enough for first place and best overall
special / veteran run (she won a toy). The second standard run of the day was PERFECT she was fast and accurate, she placed 1st and achieved her second Q towards her title. Her third and last run of the day was another standard run and a titling run (if she Q's she got her title). The run was great, she was fast, got her entry to the weave but popped out on the third pole (too much speed I think), I had to restart her which cost us some time, but no faults. She flew to through the rest of the course with no faults. She placed second and obtained her VADC title! Tegan also won best Starters dog of the day!!! I cried because I was so proud of her and all that she had to over come to get here. I moved her up to Advanced for the next day.
On Sunday the weather was warmer, and we were entered into two Advanced standard runs, and Team Relay. The first run of the day was slow, and she refused her A-frame. I think that the excitement and activity of yesterday was taking it's toll. In advanced refusals count as faults, so she finished the run JUST under time, but with 5 faults. She placed 1st, but no Q. The second run was Team, I spent more time warming her up and stretching her out before the run. She ran her half perfectly, but not with the speed she had yesterday. Unfortunately my teammate had a bobble on the weaves so we didn't Q. We will placed second though and were under time. The third and final run of the day was an Advanced standard tun and she ran flawlessly, a but slower than usual, but she gave it her all. We placed 1st, and obtained our first Advanced Q! She also won best specials/veteran run. What a great way to finish off the weekend.
I think that the combination of her age and prior injury history, she will not be competing in two day trials again. I think that it may be too much for her (three runs a day). Tegan gave me her all and in return she gave me a highlight in my life that will be hard to top. I owe the world to her.
Tegan will still continue with her chiropractic and physiotherapy work to keep her in shape and competing in agility for as long as she wants to! We are entered into a few upcoming trials and hopefully will have an Advanced title to add to her name, and possible even a Masters on day!
I never thought this would be obtainable. Tegan is a wonderful dog that has inspired me and taught me what love and compassion can do. I love spending time with her and cherish every day that I have with her. I have learned to dream big and never settle. Every time I thought this was the best we were going to get, she would show me that she could do/handle more. The only thing that gives away her age is the graying muzzle, she is still as bouncy and energetic has her 3 year younger 'brother' Owen.
Who would have thought that any dog would make their agility debut at the age of 7, coming back from a crippling injury, and being a Boxer to top it all off!
For all of you who have ever thought you couldn't - TRY, you never know what could happen.
Kysha, Tegan and Owen