“It has to be the right thing to do” Noel Fitzpatrick

Age: Three years old

Breed: Rhodesian Ridgeback

Her Story: Ian and Hayley are no strangers to Fitzpatrick Referrals. The couple’s previous Ridgebacks, brothers Alfie and Bertie both underwent surgery at Fitzpatrick’s. But when Alfie failed to make a full recovery, Ian and Hayley were forced to make a heartbreaking decision. Aged just six, Alfie had to be put to sleep, leaving Bertie alone. So they decided to get Bertie a companion and so, little Kanzi was introduced to the family. Kanzi is Swahili for ‘Hidden Treasure’, and the family found that a fitting descriptor for their new family member.

Later, when Bertie passed away, the pair were heartbroken and now Ian and Hayley are worried that Kanzi will also need surgery to address her lameness.

The Problem: The cause of Kanzi’s lameness was a mystery, but because the couple had been through it before with Alfie and Bertie they wanted to see Professor Noel Fitzpatrick to find out if she was in pain and if any surgery would be required.

Most of the time, Hayley and Ian described Kanzi as a happy and lively dog, who seemed to be in no pain, but occasionally they noticed that she seemed uncomfortable.

When Noel took a look at Kanzi, he was convinced that her elbows and shoulders were not the issue, and that the problem might be with her neck, which the couple weren’t expecting. The MRI and CT scans showed that her spine was being compressed by a deformed vertebrae in her neck. Noel suggested an advanced surgical solution, consisting of a custom-made implant that would push the two vertebrae apart to create more space for the spinal cord.  The couple had to consider long and hard about what they wanted to do, with Kanzi’s best interests at the heart of their decision. They decided that they would go ahead with the surgery, and so Noel organised for the implants to be designed and made, and the family went away to await their surgery date.

Treatment: When the day arrived for Kanzi’s surgery and the custom implants had been made, Ian and Hayley arrived at Fitzpatrick Referrals with second thoughts. Observing their dog over the weeks, they felt that she was joyful and happy, and not in huge amounts of pain. For them, it felt like it was not the right time to do the surgery, when the risks were so great and the recovery time long. Discussing this with Noel, he agreed that her quality of life was good and that whilst the condition was not hindering that, the surgery could wait. He stressed that at the end of the day, what is best for the patient is the right thing to do, and that he supported them completely in their decision, and he was always there for them should they need him.

Outcome: Kanzi is continuing to enjoy life with her new Ridgeback friend, Tang. Noel has got the custom implants ready for whenever the day might come where Kanzi might need them but for now, the happy dog is bounding, free and happy, which is all that matters.