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3-Legged Agility

Dee-fer for determined

Saluki X Lurcher Deefer (10) has been training with her owner Amy Lawson at Chippenham Agility Club for nearly nine years now. For the most part, she really enjoys it except when she'd prefer to sunbathe. During that time, she's had quite a few clear rounds in Jumping and the occasional clear in Agility. There'd have been more Agility clears if Deefer hadn't insisted on jumping the Up contact. But that was before the accident. Now she gets nearly all of her contacts! This is her remarkable story...

In November 2005 my owner Amy took me and my sisters out for a walk as usual. Everything was fine. I was running around with my older sister Zada when I put my hind leg down a small hole. Unfortunately it got stuck for a split second, just long enough for me to pull away leaving me squeaking and running back to Amy on three legs.

I tried putting my leg down several times that night but couldnít. The next morning Amy took me to the vets where I saw a lady who pushed and prodded it! She told me she didnít think it was broken. If it was, it would have hurt when she was touching it. I then went for x rays where they prodded me some more. That's when they told me I had snapped both tendons in my hind leg and also damaged my hock.

A big decision
The vets told my owner that they could save my leg and pin it etc. They explained that meant I wasnít allowed out for a walk off the lead for months and that  I would have very bad arthritis in that leg and worse, I would never do agility again. The alternative was that I could have my leg amputated. I could go back out off the lead as soon as my stitches were out and I there was a chance that I would do agility again.

My owners made the decision to have it amputated but, before doing so, it was advised that I had a splint and bandage on it as there was a chance that it could mend itself. After nine weeks, however, I started getting the odd little sore on my leg and there was no improvement so in January 2006 so the leg was amputated.

It definitely wasnít an easy few days.
I was picked up from the vets the same day but then later that evening I went into shock. That's a picture of poorly me (right)
at home two hours after op, just before going into shock.

I was carried back into the car and rushed to the vets where they put me on a drip and gave me a lot of morphine. The vet then phoned my owner to say that I was getting worse and they needed her permission to give me even more morphine. The vets were wonderful and looked after me very well. I stayed in over night and, when I woke up in the morning, I was feeling a lot better so they let me go home in the afternoon. I was so pleased to be back that I jumped around all over the place!

Allsorts of classes
I made such a wonderful recovery that Amy took me back to club in March to see if I could do small height jumps. She told me 'strictly no contacts.' Well, contacts are my favourite bit so occasionally I sneaked past and went up the dog walk! My first show on three legs was Dashin' Dogs at Easter where all Amy kept telling me was steady, steady, steady. Steady, heck. I didnít want to steady. I was back!

For the whole of 2006, I competed at any size and picked up a few places along the way. I even had one lady who asked why such a fast dog was in Any Size until someone pointed out I only had three legs!

Back to competition
In January 2007 I went back training every week. Again I was told no contacts and no full height jumps. When it was my turn, Amy put me in a wait so she could help put the jumps down, but being a naughty lurcher that I am, I broke my wait and when over four full height jumps and straight up the ramp just to show her I could do it!!

After that I was trained at full height. People pointed out I am safer jumping at full as I couldn't get my front legs out the way fast enough at lower heights! I am now back out at shows competing in Grade 3. I've even got seven or eight placings already this year! And quite a few specials!

Thank you for reading about me and I wish you and your 4-legged friends all the best for 2007.

About the author...
At 21, Amy Lawson has been doing agility for half her life (11 years) now. She has  four dogs - Zada (13) retired, Deefer (10) competing at Grade 3, Echo (4) competing at Grade 5 and Fudge (8 months) whom she is trying to keep under some sort of control!

She runs Deefer, Echo, and her borrowed dogs Zippy (10) competing at Grade 4 and Shona (10) competing at Grade 7 which keeps her very busy!  When she's not training her own dogs, she is training others full time at her new club Amy's Agility Training in Dorset.

First published 24 July 2007