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In the fall of 2009, Baylea started favoring her left rear leg.  Not terribly noticeable, but it was obvious to me she had a problem.  It seemed to get better, and we continued with her normal rambunctious doodle play.  
After one rather vigorous session, she was very lame later in the day and from then on, she hopped on 3 legs or barely touched her sore leg to the ground.  

We took her to the vet only to be given an hour’s talk on a choice of 3 types of surgeries he could do for what he called a CCL tear.  

The bill would be approximately $3,400 and we better have it done right away.

Also, if she jumped just once on that leg after surgery, it could blow the whole thing, and he’d have to re-operate.  
Not only that, but it was probable that her right rear leg would have to be done sometime down the road, too.  
My husband George and I left in shock with our girl.  

He said “There is no way we are going to put her through this.”

We deliberated over what to do, and after some time went by, George happened upon a website:  http://www.tiggerpoz.com/.

This site reinforced all of our feelings and more, and we finally felt we were doing the right thing by NOT subjecting her to surgery.  

Not long after that, a friend who is involved in the veterinary world spotted an article about a brace made by Orthopets specifically to heal Baylea’s problem.  

We contacted Orthopets in Colorado ( www.orthopets.com ) and got the ball rolling.

They sent us a casting kit with specific instructions to make a cast of her leg (this can be performed by a vet if you’d prefer).

We sent the cast to them, and within 2 weeks (May of 2010), Baylea’s brace arrived.

Orthopets is very thorough and professional, guiding you through the whole process and the staff is always available for any questions.  

We live in Massachusetts, and that didn’t hinder the process at all.

The cast and brace were sent via overnight or 2nd day service so everything happened in a timely manner as if they were next door.

For under $800 (including brace, cast and freight), the cost is reasonable.

The brace has 3 velcro straps, is very easy to put on.

It is installed in the morning and taken off at night.  

Baylea was limited to a short leash and only short walks to do her business for several weeks.  

We had one setback at the end of June when she developed a sore on her hock area where the brace was irritating her.  We called Orthopets and sent the brace back for adjustment.  Martin Kaufmann, the founder and guru, spent time with us on the phone explaining that he could redo the hock area of the brace with a smooth silicone used for burn victims that would not irritate her.  He also made a couple of other adjustments and sent the brace back.
This did the trick.  

It was some time before Baylea stopped hopping, keeping her sore leg up.

Gradually she was able to put her foot down more and more.  

By slowly increasing the length of her walks, things really started progressing.  

Her scar tissue was forming and getting her ligament back to normal – without one bit of medication!  And most importantly - without surgery!

By early fall, she was back to her old self as I eased her back into running and doing anything she wanted to do.  
We have now started weaning her off the brace  - so that she can redevelop the natural stabilizing structure of the leg.  

Initially, things looked pretty dismal.

She was so lame; every time she got up she hobbled around.  

She appeared to have aged.

With the help of the brace, she proved us wrong.  

She has unbelievable puppy energy now – people can’t believe she’s 9 years young!  

Of significant note:  We started making health food for Baylea several months ago.

She’s lost about 12-15 pounds.  We never thought she was really overweight, but dropping those pounds and not eating manufactured food has also made a world of difference in her healing process and activity level.  

She’s lighter on her feet and carries herself around with much more ease.  

She’s always been a happy girl, and you can just see in her eyes and attitude now that life is about as good as it gets.

My purpose in sharing Baylea’s story with you is to let you know there is a better alternative to surgery.  
And no, Orthopets is not paying me to do this.  

Of course there may be instances when surgery is necessary.  

We have been absolutely amazed at the number of dogs that have this problem and are subjected to this type of surgery.  

After reading the tiggerpoz website referenced above, you’ll know why.  It’s the biggest moneymaker for vets.  
I know, we all want to feel that our vets are looking out only for the best interest of our family member.  Think again.  Every veterinary practice is a business.  Yes, of course, there are many caring and wonderful vets out there, but……..

If ACL/CCL surgery has been recommended for your dog, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take the time to read the 2 websites referenced above.  Read the testimonials.  It could change the way you think about the diagnosis and change your dog’s quality of life for the better.

I’d be happy to email or talk with you if you have any questions for me.

Debbie Mackertich  
Baylea’s “Mom”


Baylea couldn't have had a better summer with her healed knee!

She hasn't worn her brace for 3 months and has had complete freedom to run and play with not even a hint of a limp or problem.

We and she couldn't be happier!

Here are some pics of our active girl . . .