Updates - Maddie & Ledger

We have decided to put this page on due to the countless number of people contacting us about what has been happening with a couple of our dogs.  I f you know us well you would know about Ledger losing 1/3 of his ear.  Terrible accident that took a micro second and rendered him un-showable.  As a young dog starting his showing career, this is a disaster. 
My first thought was that Diesel had bitten the ear off and this was a horrible thought.  Diesel is a gentle soul who has shown all his life to be careful and non aggressive around young sheep, cattle, turkeys, chooks, puppies and one large white pig we had owned.  It was a double shock at the time.  However, it seems his ear managed to have been caught between one piece of corrugated iron and our big bluey Diesel’s kennel fence. When Diesel (weighing approximately 25 kilos) started scratching his back on the kennel fence, it seemed to have caused the corrugated iron and the wall to squash together with Ledger's ear caught in between them  and his ear was no more. 
Ledger was awesome.  A very good friend of mine, Judy and her daughter Rachelle called me and realised I had basically dropped my bundle and came and drove me, Ledger, and his ear in an esky on ice to a specialist centre.  They were unable to sew it back on due to the cartilage being severed.  However, they successfully sewed what was left back together.
Like the champion (he may never be) he never once cried or moaned but stood through the entire examination just watching me.   He was admitted for surgery and we picked him up the next day with a bandage over his left side of his head. 
We are all very proud of Ledger.
Oh and a few days later I remembered that Diesel didn't have enough teeth to gnash through an ear, whew.  That was a relief in itself.
Incidentally the specialist Centre we took him to had Maddie (AKA Mad Dog) – one of our blue females on drips and with a catheter attached to the bladder as she had a busted back.  Not a good fortnight.   And these two events became somewhat overwhelming at the time. 
Time has marched on and we come to the update of Maddie. 
History of what happened to Maddie 
Phase One
Got a phone call one night at work from Mark saying there had been an accident and Maddie was paralysed.  I assumed he was exaggerating and said I would talk later.  The phone kept ringing and I told Mark I could not talk and turned the phone off.  Oops - first mistake!
On getting home the family was beside themselves over Maddie who was indeed paralysed from the shoulders down.  Seems she was running with her mate Reggie full speed and bumping each other as they ran (as ACDs do) and Reggie shouldered her into a steel pole which was set into cement.  Maddie hit it head on at top speed and as there was no give in the pole subsequently busted two vertebrae. 
After x-rays she was taken to the Specialist Centre and put onto a drip and catheterised.  She had a CAT scan which showed she was a level four paralysis case.  There are only five levels.  The specialist pulled no punches and said if she survived she may never have control over her bladder or bowel.  Maddie shoved herself into a sit position and scooted over to me by her front legs, pulling the rest of her body behind, put her head on my knee.  The decision to go ahead had been made.
Phase Two
For approximately a month I visited her on the way home from work and on weekends.  She lost weight due to pining which was not such a bad thing considering her back was a mess and less weight was better.  The physiotherapist worked on her and reported no response, which confused me as on the night I took her into the emergency if you scratched her belly her foot had moved.  The specialist explained it was an involuntary movement; she had no voluntary movement at all.
I was sure I could see her left foot moving when I was there, but then again it could have been just being hopeful.  Every time I went to see her she fell asleep with her head on my lap.  It amazed me that a little dog in such a mess could be so contented.
Note: Incidentally with paralysed dogs, they ‘tail walk’ them which means they hold them by the tail and the legs dangle behind them and they are led on a lead. I asked that they not do it as it looked dreadful but they said it was normal practice as the dogs have no feeling. The dogs do not seem to mind as they get a chance to be mobile and indeed they cannot feel it.
I went away for a weekend to Alstonville and received a call from my family saying they had been down to see Maddie and the specialist said it was time to discuss putting her down as there was no improvement.  I was shocked and asked them all to wait until I got home before they did anything.
When I got home I went to the specialist who was kind but firm explaining as there had been no improvement there was basically no chance for Maddie as she would require the catheter forever as she had no bladder control and this eliminated putting wheels on her so she could move around. Evidently dogs with wheels had bladder control.  I said I did not want wheels for her but I believed she would be okay insisting that I had seen her left foot move on occasions.  The specialist said it was a huge ask for anyone to keep a dog that was as paralysed as Maddie as infection often set in with catheters and her immune system was not good.
The specialist agreed to continue treating her until the end of the week and if there was no improvement it may be her time.  I was gutted.  Maddie was with us at the time and I hugged her goodbye and grabbed my shoes to go.  What happened next is something I will never forget; it is one of the most moving moments of my life with animals.
Phase Three
Maddie struggled to get to me, seeing I was upset and before all our us gingerly got to her feet!  The physiotherapist was misty eyed, the specialist had his mouth open and I promptly burst into tears as my beautiful cattle dog took her first (very weak, sloppy and staggering) steps but steps nevertheless.  Even writing this now I am moved and choked up as I remember the determination on her face and the feelings that I experienced at that very moment. 
The specialist said to call her to me and he assisted her by taking the weight off her legs and she slowly tried to get to me.  He said to go to the other side of the room and call her again and again she tried, still standing which in itself was close to a miracle as she could not stand before, her legs had hung lifelessly as they held her up, supported under the belly.
We sat her down as she must have been exhausted from the effort and all looked at each other amazed.  The physiotherapist was talking quickly very excited saying “Maddie had not shown any signs in all the work I have done with her and if only she could have given me a small amount of that effort to work with. “ The specialist was apologising and seemed very thrilled and was truly amazed.  I was shaky and speechless and to all that know me that is saying something!!!!
 I had noticed that her right foot was sore to the touch and asked for an x-ray.  The next day they x-rayed her lungs as she was coughing a bit (a habit she had when she was very, very, very excited). 
Bad news - two of her vertebrae was eaten away.  Bummer.  Back to earth.  They suggested two pins and a plate in the spine.  The specialist said that if the operation went ahead we would be looking at another possible $12,000.  He said at the end of all the treatment we could spend up to about $18,000 and still have a dog that could not control her bladder or bowel.  Another hurdle.....
I made the decision that no operation could be performed as she was way too weak.  I doubted she would survive an operation.  She was on high levels of antibiotics to stop infections getting into the bone and we decided to see if nature would assist us.  Given time it was hoped the discs may fuse naturally. 
An MRI was performed to ascertain the extent of the damage. It confirmed the bad news.
On entering the surgery I was asked to speak to the specialist.  He had made a body cast from a light material like plastic and it was covered with padding and material so Maddie would not be chaffed.  It went from under her front legs to above her tail and under her belly.  Nice look Maddie.  And so began phase four of Maddie's treatment.
  Maddie in August 2010 with her body cast.  The lead is taking the weight off her and holding up her paralysed legs.
Phase Four
·        Drips are removed.
·        The Specialist Centre needs me to hand feed Maddie as she will not eat.
·         It is decided that although she is still has a catheter she should go home for a weekend to get her spirits up
·         I baulk at the idea, I am no vet, I could hurt her and I was worried. They assure me she is better off with me for a couple of days.
·         I carry her out to car and drive to a nearby dog show and pop her into our dog trailer which is large airy, with thick beds so she is safe. She has her headgear on still to stop her chewing at the lines.
After coffee and lunch and everyone fusing over Maddie, I pick up Maddie to go home and Mark asked what the tubing was in the trailer. Horrified I realise that she has pulled out the catheter by trying to stand up and drive her back to the specialist centre.
Decision is not to put the catheter back in as they require her to go under general anaesthetic. It seems Miss Maddie had pulled out the inner ball that keeps it in place not just the tubing (sigh).
This is not turning out good, now I have a dog without bladder control going home where we have, no doubt, germs. At least Jan and Roseanne who are friends of mine had found an English dry bed for Maddie to lay on so if she has an accident, the urine goes straight through and onto the paper lining the crate she will be in. They found it at ‘Mary’s Van’ – an icon at Durack in Brisbane. Mary’s Van has been around like forever and stocks everything a breeder or a show person could possible want. Sadly they closed their doors on Sunday 25th August 2010 for the last time. 
    The cast was on for months.....
   All thoughts of her going into one of our kennels is gone now due to the possibility of catching a bladder infection. I drove her home and put her on the ground outside my car. I am going to put a lead under her stomach to take all the weight off her legs as she is just starting to walk. Wrong ... Maddie spotted her mate Reggie and takes a hopping bolt away from me. Mark grabbed her on the way through, I picked her up amazed at her head strong behaviour and carried her out to our front paddock where I will be walking her and low and behold she squatted to go to the toilet. Will this dog never stop amazing me?


Phase Five

Forget not walking, she is on the go.  She looks like she is moonwalking.  Slow stretches of the right side.  By the way Maddie never has got back to the Specialist Centre as an inpatient. 

I think she has had one or two accidents in the crate.  Not bad.  She was required to go back for physio which she has.  I felt bad for the staff who put so much effort into treating her and patting her and trying to make her happy.  When we walked in the first time the ladies came from behind the counter to say hello and Maddie treated them as only an uppity, aloof little blue cattle dog with her owner can.  I could have thumped her.  She could have at least acknowledged them.  I think she was scared I was going to make her stay there.  She is such a brat.

Maddie is now walking with little aide.  She has a funny walk but that is okay, it is just amazing to see her up and about. 

She is showing the younger dogs she is back and 'the boss'.  Somehow she is pulling it off, body cast and all!


Phase Six

She has had her first xray and it shows the discs have started to fuse together.  We have to be super careful now as the body cast is OFF - YAY!!!!


Maddie is so happy, she is trying to run (lopsided) and jump and do all doggie things.  yew and roll in stuff.  I found her laying on her back in the crate I guess her back is feeling okay. 


Maddie is stopping painkillers gradually.  She was having a sook and limping last week so she is on low grade pain killers.


In six weeks from the removal of the body cast she will have her next xray.  Fingers crossed the process will keep mending the discs.  Time will tell.


We will update again when the xrays are done.




Maddie is now chasing birds again and running around (slightly lopsided) and playing with the other dogs.  She is amazing.  I never stop being in awe of her, she has shown more determination and strength of character than any human I have met.  She has taken it all in her stride with total trust in whatever treatment she has had to have as long as we assure her it is okay.

The specialist has recorded Maddie's case for training purposes.  Last time we spoke he lectured up north regarding her amazing recovery.  I imagine they too have learnt from Maddie.  She still treats them with aloofness (I think in case they try to keep her there). 

She is no longer worried about her tail and feet being touched.  She comes running into the house (polished floors) and thinks it great sport to slide on her shoulder into Mark when he is watching TV. 

She comes up to the dog shows at times for the day out and people cannot believe it is Maddie.   Maddie is spoilt rotten and an utter delight.  Oh and last month she found the side entrance to the kennels and is now visiting the 'dogs' who live in there.   She has found she can terrorise the younger dogs but then jumps down with her butt in the air so they will play with her.  At first I was very concerned about her back but she is fine.  She trots happily around the acreage with us investigating every nick and corner.  She is no longer allowed to run with the adult dogs over the acreage in case of another accident.  She is okay with this as she is allowed to trot around with Diesel as he has a much slower pace than the others.



We have since lost our beautiful Diesel so Maddie needs different company.    She is now running with the adult dogs,  usually the younger ones as they are not as rough.  She is moving a lot better and is still a brat.  She thinks she is the top dog and she probably is where the ACD bitches are concerned.  But not L.E. the kelpie or Rex.

Oh and Maddie has taken a shine to Rex..........   Perhaps this will be another chapter in her amazing life.



Our amazing Maddie Sunday 9th October 2011                                                                             Maddie in the dam with Wylie on the bank



  Maddie in full flight,  wet and muddie                                                                                                                         Always the happy girl


                                                                                                                                                            Maddie - Ready for Anything





























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DEWREGAL AUST CATTLE DOGS  Rex  Pups for Sale  How We Began

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Updates - Maddie & Ledger  ACD GENERAL INFORMATION

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Mark & Glenys Armstrong
Greenbank, QLD, Australia
Email : [email protected]

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