So about a week ago Ned finally went completely lame in his left rear leg thats been bothering him. He now puts near zero weight on it and hops around on three legs instead. Funny thing is he's still almost as quick and agile on three legs when he wants to be (and we aren't looking to yell at him). The vet confirmed that he now displays the "drawer sign" which is a test for a torn craniate cruciate ligament (CCL) which is the canine equivalent of the ACL in humans. He also told us that the standard surgery he does wouldn't be a good choice due to Ned's size/strength/activity level and refered us out to see a specialist for a different type of surgery.
It turns out that in the dog knee surgery world there are two main types of surgery's that work for a dog like Ned, and there is HUGE debate as to which type is better for the dogs (both cost $2.5-3K). One is called TPLO (you can search if you want the full name) and the other is TTA, both involve physically cutting the bone of the knee to realign the bio-mechanics to remove the shear force that normally goes to the CCL and place that force on something else. TPLO cuts the top of the bone (tibia I believe) and turns it to realign the force down the load bearing structure of the bone, and a huge plate is put in to hold the bone together. The TTA cuts the very front tibia just behind the patella tendon (the big one that attaches to the quads) and moves it foward slighlty with a small plate/cage to hold it in its new position but doesn't affect the load bearing portion of the leg. This removes the shear force by alligning it with the forces already on the tendon and quads.
After much research and hemming and hawing Nell and I decided to go to the only vet in driving distance that does the TTA type. We have an appointment Wensday with surgery the same day if Ned is indeed a candidate (if his knee isn't a gd candidate we'll be forced to do TPLO). We'll be taking donations for the "Don't let Ned go Insane" fund following the surgery. Doggey biscuits/stuffed kongs/chew toys or anything that will keep him (and us) sane for the follow-on 4-6+ weeks of home kenneling, confinement, & activity restriction that he'll go through will be received with glee.
Thats about all thats new out here, hopefully Ned recovers well and quickly so we can enjoy spring and summer when it hits.