About Riley

Riley is a 4 year-old purebred female Australian Cattle Dog (also known as “Blue Heeler”).  She was born on March 18th, 2009 and she came home to live with me when she was 7 weeks old on May 6th, 2009.

Riley (7 weeks old) her first night home!

Riley (7 weeks old) her first night home!

She was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia when she was 10 months old and has torn her cranial cruciate ligament in both knees.  She had her first TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery on October 18th, 2011, on her right knee when she was 2 years old.  She had her second TPLO surgery on October 30th, 2012, on her left knee when she was 3 years old.  Each surgery required 8 weeks of crate rest!

Riley's first hip X-Ray when she was 10 months old.

Riley’s first hip X-Ray when she was 10 months old.

Riley's right knee after her first TPLO knee surgery, after her staples were removed.

Riley’s right knee after her first TPLO knee surgery, after her staples were removed.

Riley's left knee after her second TPLO surgery and staple removal

Riley’s left knee after her second TPLO surgery and staple removal.

After notifying Riley’s breeder of her hip dysplasia, her breeder could not offer me a refund (since it was outside of the 90 day refund guarantee), but since it was still within the 1 year health guarantee, she did offer me a free “replacement” puppy at any time I choose.  (Although “replacement” isn’t really the right word for it…the breeder said she knew I couldn’t give up Riley as I had become bonded to her, so she wouldn’t expect me to give her back.  Although I could if I wanted to and she would find her a loving new home).  I can’t imagine having TWO ACDs (Australian Cattle Dogs) though, so that puppy will have to wait!  Riley’s parents were both pre-screened for hip dysplasia and PRCD (Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration/Progressive Retinal Atrophy) and were BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested for hearing.  Both had OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) “Good” rated hips.  I later learned from Riley’s surgeon, that she had even seen cases of hip dysplasia in puppies whose parents had OFA “Excellent” rated hips.  After Riley’s breeder found out she had hip dysplasia, she retired Riley’s parents from her breeding stock.

Riley’s story is not all pain and heartbreak…  Riley started attending obedience school when she was 3 months old.  She was the youngest puppy in her class, but ended up being the most well-behaved one in her class.  Her “Basic Obedience” class (or puppy class) was 8 weeks long, so she graduated when she was 5 months old.  We then moved on to “Canine University,” which was just the obedience facility’s fancy name for advanced obedience.  She was DEFINITELY the youngest dog in that class.  The focus of the Canine University class was to help dogs prepare to pass their AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test and their Therapy Dogs International (TDI) test.  The class was a one time $80 fee and you could come and go whenever you wanted for as long as you wanted to attend (we attended that class for about a year).

I had originally wanted an ACD after seeing some ACDs performing in an agility trial.  I wanted to compete in agility with Riley!  Unfortunately, once she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, that dream disappeared.  I never planned on doing therapy dog work with Riley.

Most of the other dogs in her Canine University class were older and had already passed their TDI test.  Their owners continued to attend classes with them to keep them “up on their skills.”  Every 6 weeks, there would be a CGC and TDI “Practice Test,” then the 7th week, the facility offered the actual test with a CGC and TDI evaluator coming in.  I felt confident that Riley could pass her CGC test, so she took it (and passed) when she was 7 months old!  At this point, I was still planning on doing agility with Riley (she hadn’t been diagnosed with hip dysplasia yet).  In order to take the TDI test, dogs must be one year of age.

Riley and I after receiving her AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate!

Riley and I after receiving her AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate!

After she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, I decided to keep Riley in obedience classes so we could train for her TDI test (ACDs definitely need a “job” to do to keep from becoming destructive or bored).  She turned a year old on March 18th, 2010, and the first therapy dog test that was offered after her birthday was on April 15th, 2010.  She passed on her first try!

Riley with her TDI gear on!

Riley with her TDI gear on!

Riley enjoys being a therapy dog.  She made regular bi-weekly visits to some local nursing homes for 2 years until her second knee surgery.  She has also visited the school my mom works at.  We haven’t been on a visit since her second knee surgery last year, but hope to get back into it soon!

Thanks for reading Riley’s story!!

Riley loves hearing from her friends!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s