Read the story of Ebony's extrodinary comeback


Ebony, EAC, RS-E



Ebony Returns to Competition with a Bang !
by Chris Vaught

Ebony picked me when she was 7 weeks old. I didn't want a puppy, I didn't even particularly like dogs before her. I had been bitten by 2 dogs as a kid, both dogs I knew, and had had a friend bitten by my sister's dog, so I had a few hang ups and fears about dogs. Ebony changed all that with her sweet, gentle and trusting manner and zest for life.

She grew up competing in UKC obedience and has her U-CDX title. She wasn't introduced to agility until she was almost 5 years old and I had moved to Portland, OR in 1998. She whipped through USDAA Novice and was competing in Advanced before I even knew what the heck I was doing. In her first NADAC meet ever (February 1999) Ebony had four clean runs the first day. She ran clean in both titling runs and both gamblers and jumpers. The day was great, except that she kept running slower and slower as the day progressed. True to her heart though, she never refused a jump or obstacle, and I chalked her slowing down up to her being tired.
We had gotten in late the night before (1am), it was the first meet of the year (we hadn't competed since November), and she and I were both pretty new competitors. Well, little did I know. The next morning, Ebony could barely stand up. She could walk, but barely and any movement upward, would cause her to scream. X-rays were inconclusive, but ruled out really serious stuff like ruptured disks and spondilosis. It appeared to be more muscular and soft tissue, and the vets thought it was an old injury that caused a more chronic problem. When I thought back on it, I do have an idea of when the original injury occurred. I began taking her to a chiropractor (a people chiropractor who was certified to treat animals) and a veterinarian acupuncturist on a regular basis. They both seemed to work really well at getting her to relax her back muscles.
I also became pretty proficient at massaging her and being able to tell with a touch how sore and tight she was. I pulled her from all work with the exception of lots of walking. My strategy was to keep her out of competition until she turned 7 and didn't have to jump more than 16 inches. Once getting to Reno in March, I had her re-x-rayed, and those x-rays revealed that she did have a slight lessening of disk space in one spot compared to the year before. With that information, I was hesitant about working her at all, but after hydrotherapy treatments here at the Canine Fitness Center in Reno, and another round of acupuncture and chiropractic, Ebony seemed to be almost 100%. The vet assured me that she was fit for jumping 16 inches and I knew that she was really missing working. So, in July she turned seven, and her first full trial in over a year and 1/2 since her injury was here in August. It was her Veterans debut and her Elite debut, and she did great. She is as consistent as ever, and really seemed to enjoy being back to work with Mom.
I know I am glad to be working with her again. I missed her. She had 5 clean runs; all four titling runs were clean and she got one Elite Gamblers leg. I've learned to really read her body language and tune in to how she is feeling. I am probably more of a mother hen with her than maybe I should be, but I don't want to do anything that is going to result in any further injury to her, and the minute I feel she is not fit enough to compete, she will retire.
I would rather have her with me for years to come, than to do anything to jeopardize her well-being. Though she and I both love to compete, her health
is not worth risking. I still have some hopes for her though and if she remains sound, we will be working toward her veterans NATCH. So here's to a successful veterans career.....