Brody, the Agility Pug!
Brody is my 18 month old pug. He has a ton of personality and energy. When I first met him I knew he was
meant for agility. As he grew, his knees were checked all the time as slipping patella's are very common in
pugs. His knees are rock solid. He has wide nasal flares and no allergies, also common pug issues. From the
beginning he was balanced and adventurous, enabiling him to go up and down stairs easily, which is not
typical for pugs.
He started foundation agility classes at 6 months. At one year the vet and our trainer agreed he was ready
to jump. He loved agility and cries to get out and work/play with me.
Brody qaulified in 7 out of 9 runs in his first CPE agility trial at 15 months. The following weekend we went
to Bend, Oregon for another agility trial. He was very tired due to the hot weather and 2 days of competition.
After his second run, the judge told me my dog was limping on the right rear leg.
I was shocked and in total disbelief! The judge believed the problem was with his knees. X-rays found some
mild hip dysplasia but nothing unusual on his right leg. My vet thought there was minor muscle weakness
in his hip and advised us to see an orthopedic vet specialist. The orthopedist saw ataxia and diagnosed it
as a neurological issue, not orthopedic.
At this point I pulled out of all agility trials on our calendar afraid that his agility life was over. A few days
later we saw a neurologist who said Brody was ataxic and there was likely a middle back or brain issue.
We came back on Saturday for a MRI. He was diagnosed having as a degenerative disc disease and was
degrading faster than a Dachshund. One disc had ruptured and several others were compressed. He was
missing L7 all together. They didn't know if it was acute or chronic and therefore wouldn't recommend any
rest or medicine at this time, but to just wait until it got worse.
Luckily, this happened during an agility weekend. I have amazing friends, and they talked to several
people at the trial. One friend that had a very similar issue with her Cavalier highly recommended Patricia.
I wrote Patricia over the weekend and she got us right in the next week. Patricia examined Brody, like most people she fell in love with him and his bright fun personality. We agreed he was not ready for retirement.
As his spine had been so prodded over the weekend, he was skeptical and wouldn't let her touch near
his tail at all. She worked slowly around his wiggling to check his organs, gluten sensitivity, and side-to-side
By the end of the session, she was able to examine the spine without issue. She suggested we look into
a grain free diet with our vet as there is proven research on grains causing spinal compression. Her feeling
was that it was mostly just clearing the gluten, and we would be back to agility in 2 months with a much
stronger back. We also added acupuncture every other week and Chinese herbs.
We went to see Patricia again in October and she said the gluten biomechanical restrictions were gone,
was able to work directly on the spine. She saw a lot of improvement and suggested a week off,
then begin building him back up working with a rehab vet. I met with Dr. Carol Helfer and come up with
an exercise plan. Brody is doing lots of core exercises, and I find obedience helps with this a lot as well.
In December, at our first agility trial in 2.5 months, Brody was so fast and energetic I had to exercise him
a bit to release his energy. We are planning to qualify for the CPE nationals this year. In addition, we
have now begun AKC agility. He qualified 6 out of 6 runs, earning both his standard and novice preferred
titles. He is running fast and full of energy without any sign of an issue. This is an issue we will always
have to watch and maintain.
I plan to have his back x-rayed again in 6 months and compare the results. I look forward to our January
visit with Patricia. Both Brody and I are thrilled to be back at work!
Anne Nile, Portland, Oregon
Watch Brody at an agility trial before his injury with the "Hippity Hop" movement. I would write in my notes
that he looked tired.
February, 2012: Watch Brody now! He is carrying himself much better with more energy.