Ouch!

Poor Willow. We’ve just come back from the vet having been told that she has a luxating patella in her left hind leg. This is not good news, especially not for such a boisterous, affectionate dog as Willow.

We really noticed it on holiday when she started limping having been running in and out of a stream but we assumed she’d strained something and by the time we got back to the house she was walking normally again. Since then we’ve seen her limping occasionally in the house and holding her left leg out straight behind her but whenever we’ve taken her for a run she’s been absolutely fine. For a couple of weeks I was trying to see if it was getting better but if anything it was getting worse, possibly because we have smooth wooden floors and Willow’s enthusiasm is often more impressive than her body control – she can gallop wildly and manage to stay in one place on the slippery floors!

So, a little bit of internet searching brought up a luxating patella as the most likely culprit but I decided the best thing was to get it checked out. Luxating patella is a common problem in small dogs and especially in Pomeranians, basically the knee cap slides out of place and can be graded on a severity scale from 1 (mild) to 4; Willow’s is grade 3. The vet checked her kneecaps and found that the one in her left hind leg was extremely mobile, luckily her right leg is fine. She also watched the way Willow walked, which looked normal to me, and said that if you knew what you were looking for you could see the lameness in the leg.

The upshot of this is that we’ve booked Willow in for an operation on Wednesday to see if it can be put right, after which she won’t be allowed out for a walk for four weeks. Not only that, she won’t be allowed to jump up, to stand on her hind legs or to run which is going to be really tough for all of us until she’s given the all clear. I think there will have to be lots of sitting on the floor and making a fuss of her and certainly lots of chew toys for her to take her frustration out on. Note to self: move all shoes well out of Willow’s reach.

Poor little Willow.
Sad Willow

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Cornwall welcomes dogs

We’ve just returned from a lovely week in sunny Cornwall – our first ‘proper’ holiday with a dog and we couldn’t have picked a better place to go. I was absolutely blown away by how welcome dogs are: many shops have signs up saying, ‘Well behaved dogs on leads welcome’ and others without signs told us we could bring the dog in when they saw us hovering outside. Most pubs and cafes had outdoor seating but we were also allowed inside with Willow in some of them as well.

Willow in the long grassMany of the attractions are also fully or partly dog-friendly and I reserve my highest praise for the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This was a return visit for Husband and I, having first visited there in 1997 and always meaning to go back but never quite managing it. We bought a family ticket at the ticket office and received our tickets but what really impressed me was that the tickets came with a welcome dog treat for Willow. The gardens are beautiful, extensive and great fun to explore but also well equipped with dog bowls and dog bins. As far as Willow was concerned it was a four hour stroll interrupted by occasional socialising with other dogs.

Willow on the beachIn fact, we regularly managed to wear Willow out, which is no mean feat; in addition to the Lost Gardens she explored Bude, Padstow, Port Isaac, Boscastle, St Nectan’s Glen and Tintagel and had a morning and evening walk most days as well. We timed it really well: many of the Cornish beaches have restrictions on dogs which start on Easter Sunday. By being there before Easter Willow could have free fun of the beaches and we were lucky enough with the weather to be able to enjoy them properly.

We were in a rented property with no garden and I was a little bit worried about Willow possibly doing some damage. I have to say, however, she behaved beautifully the whole week and we compensated for the lack of garden by having a lovely walk on the doorstep. Most evenings we could walk Willow up by the river and skim stones for her to chase into the water, which she loved.

So we all had a lovely, fun week. Thank you, Cornwall, for being so welcoming.

I’m curious to know which other places or tourist attractions in the UK are very dog friendly – feel free to make suggestions in the comments.