We went on an impromptu trip to the Western Cape two weeks ago. While we were away our old Ridgeback, Rory, injured his back so the first part of our trip was marked by us worrying about Rory.

I am happy to report that Rory responded well to treatment in the veterinary hospital, and while we were still away he was able to come home to the care of our pet sitter. Initially it was suspected that he might have a herniated disc in his spine, but as he responded so well to the initial treatment we will take the course of monitoring how he does going forward with pain management and rest. We are so grateful to our pet sitter and a friend who took him to the vet and to the vets for caring for Rory in our absence.  

While we were on the road, complicating long-distance communication, we lost all cell phone and Internet connectivity when we took a detour on some back roads.

The reason for the detour was a community protest that blocked our route. We waited about an hour and a half at an impromptu roadblock made up of rocks and burning tires. A group of residents at Willowmore were protesting the lack of jobs in their economically depressed small town in the Eastern Cape.  Once we realised that there was no imminent resolution in sight, we decided to backtrack and then turned off onto the back roads, a route that would eventually emerge – albeit briefly – into a zone with full connectivity at the top of the pass in the Swartberg mountain range known as Meiringspoort. We stopped while we had signal to help arrange for Rory to go to the vet for emergency attention. Once we were descending the pass we lost signal again.

We feared the worst for Rory and so we were relieved when after a few days we heard that he had improved so much that he could come home and that we would be able to see him again. On our return journey we felt much happier than we did in the first part of the journey when Rory was in a serious situation scarcely able to walk.

We were even able to enjoy the sight of fields of canola in flower near Swellendam.

But it certainly was a long drive home!

Rory still has a way to go on his road to recovery, but since I started compiling this post he has improved even more and he is a much happier dog and walking and even trotting well. In celebration of Rory’s recovery I decided to compile this tribute – to Rory a big dog with a loving and generous heart.

Above is a photo of Rory in 2012 as a puppy only eight weeks old and newly arrived. We got him from friends of ours. He was one of a litter of 16 puppies born to a mother who lived on a farm.

Rory at ten weeks old photographed snuggling with his best friend Amy who is about ten months older than Rory.

When he was six months old Rory was diagnosed with OCD (osteochondrosis dessicans) in both shoulders. OCD is a developmental disease that manifests typically when a dog is around the age of six months. It often affects large breed dogs and males more often than females. It most commonly occurs in the shoulder joint but can it can also affect other joints such as the elbow, often bilaterally as happened to Rory. Diseased cartilage starts separating from the underlying bone that can become necrotic.

Luckily Rory’s condition was detected early after he developed a slight limp. Surgery was necessary on both shoulders and the orthopaedic vet who did the operation said that Rory’s prognosis was good provided that we gave him the necessary post-operative care. Fortunately, I was working from home and so could provide the care, company and supervision he needed.

For such a young dog, Rory coped remarkably patiently with being kept confined with only 10-minute walks on a leash every two hours during the daytime.  We had to follow this regimen for six weeks after the operation. This protocol was extended by another three weeks, and then he was allowed to be free in the house but when outdoors he still needed to be supervised although he could now be off leash until his recovery was complete.

However, even good-as-gold Rory did let rip one day. I left him in his bedroom when I nipped out for a short time. He was dressed in his cut-down T-shirt so he would not lick the healing surgery incisions on his shoulders. He got bored during my absence and proceeded to demolish a large part of his covered foam mattress converting it into foam chips. The above picture I took with my cell phone when Rory gave me this ‘who me?’ kind of look on my return.

While he was recuperating Rory and Amy were thrilled to be reunited and would mouth each other while playing without Rory needing to stand or sit up. He was still wearing his protective T-shirt. Amy and the cats became part or the therapeutic team helping Rory during his recovery.

The operation was very successful and although we discouraged him from jumping, Rory was able to live a normally active life after his recovery.

The above photo was taken when Rory was two years old. He was practicing a down-stay with Amy and some visiting friends.

Rory, with adoring fans, learning the cost of charisma!

Rory aged two, in the garden showing his lean athletic hound-dog physique.

Rory in a reflective mood.

Rory aged two and Amy posing for my camera rather self-consciously.

Hallo handsome!

Rory, then aged three, photographed posing with Amy on a sunny morning in the garden.

Rory aged six soaking up winter sunshine in his hammock-bed outdoors.

Rory aged seven enjoying a game with Amy. Despite the difference in size they have found a way to play on fairly equal terms.

Rory aged eight-and-a-half in the above photo, recovering well from a laminectomy in the sacrum area of his spine.  The shaved patch in the lumber region is still visible as the hair grows back.

A few weeks later and Rory was looking good after recovering well from his laminectomy.

Rory, aged nine in the above pic, was sharing his mattress with his feline friend Ella and with Amy in the foreground. Ella adores Rory and greets him with a special meow reserved only for him whenever he comes into the house.

Approaching ten years of age in April this year, Rory was showing signs of greying around the muzzle but was (and is) still as handsome as ever.

Above is a recent photo of Rory and Amy that was taken last week. Rory is recovering well from the incident with his back. Amy, now eleven, is also going grey. Don’t we all?

Ella, who is 12 years old, remains a big fan of Rory. She was as pleased as Amy to see him return after his recent stint in hospital.

Rory last week – he is as loveable and as affectionate as ever.

The good companions: Amy and Rory.

P.S. Apologies that I have been so absent from the blogosphere. There has been no drama, just me in a series of disarrays sometimes even a kind of malaise. But – I will be mending my ways while hoping that this was just a phase. Who of us can count the daze?

Posted by Carol