Cyrus is an Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, a rare and intelligent breed of dog. He has a hereditary problem in his knees that create holes in the cartilage and rupture of the cruciate ligaments. Cyrus and his brother Brus have meant the world to their family Amin and Minoo, keeping Minoo company during her lonely first few months in the UK. But the situation is far worse than originally thought. Cyrus has problems with his front legs too, meaning the pair face a difficult decision…

 When Noel examined poor Cyrus, he found thickened, swollen, and unstable knees which were affected by suspected rupture of his cranial cruciate ligaments on both sides. In addition to this, X-rays taken by Cyrus’ vet at home showed a lesion consistent with osteochondrosis (abnormal development of the surface of a joint due to failure of cartilage to properly turn into bone). This condition on top of his ruptured cruciate ligaments were likely to be contributing greatly to Cyrus’ struggles, difficulty getting up and exercising. Further tests were going to be needed to know the full extent of the problems Cyrus had lying ahead of him.

Cyrus 4

CT scans and x-rays of all four of Cyrus’ legs showed that not only one, but both of his stifles were affected by cranial cruciate ligament rupture and osteochondrosis, and both elbows were affected by elbow dysplasia.

When Noel delivered the full report of the findings to Amin and Minoo, they were shocked and distressed. Torn between wanting the best for their beloved Cyrus and what could be possible with surgery, they contemplated what the right road forward was for Cyrus.

After a good think about it, the pair concluded that they could not face the possibility of not tying for Cyrus, and asked Noel to go ahead with the surgery on all four legs, reassured that Noel also felt it was the right thing to do.

Surgery began immediately on both knees to treat the torn cruciate ligaments and insert a plug of synthetic cartilage in the left knee.  Following on immediately, surgery was also performed on both of his elbows to remove bony fragments and release a tendon to improve the misfit between the elbow bones which occurs in elbow dysplasia. When Noel completed the surgery, he called Amin and Minoo and though there was a necessary road of recovery ahead, there was also huge relief all round that the surgery would likely prove successful.

Cyrus 3

Cyrus was able to go home a few days after surgery, to a delighted Amin and Minoo, and doggy companion Brus!  His recovery would have to be carefully managed, and Amin and Minoo were totally on board. They were diligent and dedicated, and several weeks later Cyrus was walking well with no limping on any of his legs. Today Cyrus is even beating his buddy Brus in a race around the park!

In Noels words

It’s sad when genetic issues affect dogs, and ultimately we would all like to aim to reduce this by responsible breeding. When disease does occur it’s even more unfortunate when it happens on more than one leg. Sometimes surgical treatment on multiple joints is the right thing to do for the animal, in my opinion, and sometimes it’s not.  It all depends on life expectancy, prognosis for pain free function and how much the dog will need to go through. It’s not the same for all dogs and each one should be considered as an individual.

In the case of Cyrus, fortunately the prognosis would be reasonably good if we could get him through surgery and his family elected to proceed. The key thing for me is that there are so many options now for treating all kinds of disease, it’s really important that we do it at the right time for the right animal in the right circumstances.

It is wonderful that surgery such as cartilage replacement is now possible and it’s great that technology is constantly moving forward to help our animal friends. However, just because it’s possible to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

Thankfully in Cyrus’s case, it was in my view absolutely the right thing to do – and it makes me smile to see him running around. Go Cyrus Go!