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Chocolate to undergo surgery on Monday: May 2, 2008

Chocolate in MayChocolate, a stray Chesapeake Bay retriever from the Tri-Cities will undergo surgery on Monday to correct persistent problems in his front left leg.  After a full assessment at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Chocolate’s team of caregivers have decided that a corrective osteotomy on Chocolate’s left forelimb will give him the best chance for success. “We’re trying to improve the function of his left forelimb to match the right forelimb” said Dr. Steve Martinez, veterinary orthopedic surgeon at WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “Even though he’s making great strides in improving his strength and muscle build-up, we think we can help him regain more function in his forelimbs.”
In recent weeks, Chocolate has made great strides in his rehabilitation. The team has even modified his regime to include more natural activities, such as chasing his ball, instead of walking him with the use of a sling.  “He has shown tremendous improvements this last month in using his front legs again,” said Dr. Martinez. “Unfortunately, his left front leg continues to rotate slightly outward. Surgery is now the best option for him.”
Chocolate’s rehabilitation is growing closer to completion. In recent weeks, he has become more at ease around other dogs, and continues to grow friendlier to people with each passing day. Depending on his recovery from Monday’s surgery, the WSU team is hopeful Chocolate may be released as soon as early June.

May 6: Chocolate’s surgery a success!

A second surgery on Chocolate, a stray Chesapeake Bay retriever from the Tri-Cities is being hailed as a success at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The WSU veterinary surgical team performed a corrective osteotomy on Chocolate’s left forelimb to help him be able to use the leg more correctly. “Chocolate’s mobility problem stems from his old fractures,” said WSU veterinary surgeon Dr. Steve Martinez. “The old breaks in his radius and ulna bones of his left forelimb had fused into one, and kept him from putting his paw flat on the ground.” During the 4 hour surgery, the WSU Team was able to correct that problem.

“This was a key step towards helping Chocolate to regain reasonable use of front legs for walking again,” said Dr. Martinez. 

Icing Chocolates Leg

Chocolate enjoys some sun while icing down his leg with WSU Veterinary Student Sara Manthey

The next step for Chocolate will be a few days of rest, before resuming his rehabilitation schedule.  This involves some stretching, some time outside when it’s nice, and ice to help ease any swelling, along with proper pain medication.  The WSU Team is watching the surgical site closely to ensure its healing properly. 4th year veterinary student Sara Manthey says Chocolate’s surgery went well, adding “I can’t wait to see him walking again.” 

If all goes as planned, Chocolate should be able to resume his rehabilitation next week.  “Until then, he still needs lots of love and care. Our team of committed veterinarians, veterinary technicians, staff, and students are certainly providing all of that and more here at WSU” said Dr. Martinez. Adding that he remains optimistic that Chocolate may be able to be released from care in early June.

May 20: Chocolate resumes his rehabilitation

After recovering from a second leg surgery, Chocolate, a stray Chesapeake Bay retriever from the Tri-Cities has resumed his rehabilitation regime at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  
“As we had hoped for, the last surgery appears to have improved his ability to use his left fore leg for walking,” said WSU veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steve Martinez. “He now has a much improved alignment in his left fore leg, which is a key step towards his ability to regain forelimb function to a reasonable degree.”
Chocolate has now returned to the underwater treadmill for about 5 minutes a session, for a couple of sessions a week.  In between there are his usual walks outside.  “We don’t yet have him playing chase the ball,” said WSU veterinary physical therapist Lori Lutskas. “We’re gradually having him put weight back on his left leg.”
“We’re back on schedule for Chocolate’s rehabilitation,” said Dr. Martinez, adding “if he continues to make progress like this, he could be released early next month.”  

Washington State University