This month’s article is by Maja Wichtowski of Tsavo’s Canine Rehabilitation & Fitness Center, Inc.  A graduate of Cornell University, Maja has 18 years of extensive experience in Western Veterinary Medicine. Her diverse background includes oncology, orthopedics, internal medicine, dentistry, emergency/critical care, general practice and canine rehabilitation.

We inquired about the most common canine injury, the CCL-Cranial Cruciate Ligament. Regardless if your dog is a sport athlete in Flyball, agility, herding, frisbee, playing at the dog park or a weekend exercise hound it is important to seek medical care with any injury. Maja provides an overview of treatment options for the dog owner when injury unexpectedly occurs.

Maja may be contacted at: Tsavo’s Canine Rehabilitation & Fitness Center, Inc.
Phone 619 846 9531

CCL- Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury

by Maja Wichtowski

So your dog tore their CCL, now what?

For most, our 4-legged kid’s favorite game is playing ball. All is good until suddenly you hear a scream and your dog returns 3-legged.  Is surgery always necessary? What if my dog cannot undergo anesthesia? Is rehabilitation always necessary? We hope to clarify your options.


Typical x-ray of a cruciate tear

Go to Your Vet

If you dog does suddenly become lame, it is imperative that you get them to your veterinarian immediately. Your vet can determine the cause for the lameness. If it is a CCL(cranial cruciate ligament) injury, and it is left untreated, joint degeneration progresses quickly and full recovery becomes less likely. The longer your dog overcompensates with the opposite leg, the more likely that the CCL in that leg will also rupture. Then you have a dog that can’t walk at all!


Basic structures of the knee

Treatment Options


If your dog has completely ruptured their CCL, surgery is probably your best bet for a quick recovery and long-term stability. The orthopedic surgeon will determine which surgery is ideal based on your dog’s age, breed, weight, and activity level. The two most popular surgeries are the TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) and the TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement). They both stabilize the joint by changing the joint’s anatomy, and involve the use of titanium implants. There is also Extracapsular Stabilization, which is the least invasive, but usually only used in dogs under 50lbs.





Immediately following surgery, a combination of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory), joint supplements, and physical rehabilitation are essential to ensure your pet recovers quickly.   Full recovery commonly takes 6-20 weeks, and is dependent on the type of surgery performed, the age and weight of your dog, and how vigilant you are with post-op care.

Non-Surgical Alternatives

If your dog is lucky to have only suffered a partial CCL rupture, or if they are compromised in some way (health or age) that prohibits anesthesia, here are a few options that are available. A custom knee brace is an essential component to recovery if your dog is not undergoing surgery. It will provide stability and allow them to utilize the limb without further damaging the joint. Once you have a brace, stem-cell regenerative therapy or prolotherapy, and physical rehabilitation are the way to go.

Stem Cell Regenerative Therapy requires a minor surgery to harvest the stem cells from your dog’s fat, as well as a repeat anesthesia to inject the harvested and processed cells into the knee the following visit. This therapy uses the same mechanism the body uses to repair itself; with the cells transforming into any kind of cell that is needed.  Restricted activity, physical rehabilitation, and brace support, are key post-injection for the best results.

Prolotherapy also uses your dog’s healing mechanism to treat the injury.  In this procedure, a solution is injected into the knee directly, causing an inflammatory response which in turn starts the healing process.  Your dog will need to be sedated for this procedure, which is usually repeated monthly for 4-6 injections.  Post-injection protocol is the same as with stem cell therapy.

The Bottom Line

I hope that we were able to give you a good core understanding of your choices of treatment should your dog ever suffer from this kind of injury.  Regardless which route of treatment you and your veterinarian decide on, the benefits of post-op physical rehabilitation shouldn’t be understated.  The sooner you start, the sooner your dog can be back on their feet enjoying life pain free.  Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any further questions.

Maja Wichtowski, RVT, CCRT

Tsavo’s Canine Rehabilitation & Fitness Center, Inc.


When it comes to dog sports there’s nothing like Flyball. For one thing, no other dog sport involves teamwork like this sport. Yes, it is noisy and there is constant activity at practice and at the tournaments. The noise however, is the enjoyment that the dogs are having as they play this relay game.

Flyball is a cross between drag racing and relay racing. The start dog and handler use a drag strip style light set up as a release mechanism. Dogs from the same team pass each other with split second precision. This doesn’t happen by accident, it is with countless hours of practice and expertise that this all takes place.

One the best things about Flyball are that in a matter of months a handler and dog can be racing. This is not to say they are earning titles their first time out, but they are actively engaged in the sport and participating on a team early on. It does happen quite often however, when a first time participant will do well and earn a title. Not all dogs learn in a matter of months though. Some take a year or even longer but the fruits of their labor pay off big time.

When you and your team are at the start line and the light turns green for the start dog to cross the line, everybody is cheering, yelling, and the adrenaline is really flowing. All the dogs are hyped up and so are the handlers.  It’s an unbelievable feeling which you just have to experience since a description of the situation doesn’t give it justice. Fortunately, there are other times in flyball racing where there is very little or no tension.


One very nice aspect of Flyball is the camping portion of the sport. I know what you’re thinking. What does camping have to do with Flyball? At each tournament we have to set up a camp for our team. This is no small chore, especially since we spend two days at the site racing which is the entire weekend. As team captains, we have to stake out our claim usually a day in advance. Even when we race out of town we stake out our campsite the night before racing. Our camp consists of 7 to 10 canopies, a dozen chairs, a dozen dog crates and x-pens,  a couple of tables, twelve to twenty people, and 15 to 20 dogs. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about our most important item, the barbecue! So on tournament weekends when we race, we also barbecue, camp and have so much fun with our dogs and team members it’s hard to imagine.
6080 Ramona 05-23-09

Believe it or not, the Flyball Team becomes part of your extended family. You spend a weekend every other month at a tournament and a least one day per week practicing with them.

In addition to this, we do demonstrations several times per year for public events and have an occasional get together such as our annual Christmas Party. The important part of this sport is that you and your dog spend quality time together, make new friends, and have a wonderful life doing something you and your pooch really like to do.
Meika's First Tournament

by Kelly V.

This is a foldable wagon we bought from Costco.  It comes out of the box already assembled and is very easy to fold up again.  There is a looped handle in the middle of the wagon bed that you just pull up on to get it to fold.  Our twelve year old vizsla, Tucker, fits in perfectly. Due to some health issues, he tires very easily, and this cart looks like it will make the perfect “sag wagon” during walks.  We’ve been looking for a cart which would fold down smaller and be more portable than the stroller we purchased several months ago.  I gave him rides around the backyard with it, and am teaching him to “speak” when he wants to be lifted out.  Tuck has learned quite quickly that speaking means he gets lifted out of the wagon, and in the demo video, he prefers to just sit in the wagon in anticipation of more treats appearing.  The wagon is currently in the backyard, airing out that “new vinyl” smell.  I think it will be fine by the end of the day.

I am very satisfied with the purchase.  It will be very useful for hauling flyball stuff at tournaments, and will be Tucker’s personal chariot when not in flyball use.

Our entire team recently had the pleasure of eating Mimi’s delicious chili. It was so good that everyone raved about it until the whole team had tasted it. Mimi says her secret recipe actually comes from her Grandmother. Nevertheless, Mimi has been very generous to share her secret recipe with us so we can all now enjoy it. If you’re in the mood for some terrific chili, try “Grandma’s Great Chili” or just call Mimi and maybe she will make us some for the next flyball tournament.

Dir T Dick’s Homemade Chili Ingredients

2 pounds steak, cubed ½ onion, quartered.

1 tablespoon beef stock

½ teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons chili powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 rounded tablespoon beef stock

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 – 18.6 oz bottles Newcastle Dark Ale (or equivalent dark ale)

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 – 16 ounce cans pinto beans

2 – 16 ounce cans kidney beans

2 – 16 ounce cans white beans (or 3 cans pinto beans and 3 cans kidney beans).

1 – 14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes.

½ onion diced

diced 3 jalapeno peppers,

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil


1. Slow cook or pressure cook the cubed steak in beef broth until tender and falls apart. I pressure cook my beef using ½ onion, quartered and separated and 1 ½ cups beef broth for 25 minutes after the rocker starts rocking semi-rapidly. Drain and separate the beef from the onion. Save only the beef.

2. In a stockpot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil until heated. Add diced onion and jalapeno peppers and cook until onion is clear, stirring occasionally. Do not allow onion to brown. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked beef.

3. Mix together, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, flour, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the beef, onion mixture. Stir until well coated. Add one bottle Newcastle beer and return to heat.

4. Heat 1 cup of beer in microwave, then stir in 1 tablespoon beef stock until well blended. Add to chili, along with the remaining beer. Bring chili to a boil, then stir in the oregano. Stir in 1 can diced tomatoes. Drain the six cans of beans and add to chili mixture. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer.

5. Cover and simmer chili for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.


1. If you want your chili soupy, use 2 cans pinto beans, 1 can kidney beans and 1 can white beans instead of the original recipe.

2. While the chili will be ready in 1 hour of simmering, I have found the extra hour blends the flavor of the seasonings more.

3. I use the petite diced tomatoes with jalapenos.

4. I don’t cook with a slow cooker. I don’t have the patience to wait that long for the beef. I can only assume you will need to slow cook the meat for more than 2 hours to get it to the desired tenderness. Spend the money on a Presto brand or other brand pressure cooker.

Ramona Kelly, Brandi,Bill,Ashley,Jane,Kevin, 363

Mimi and Cody

By Joanne Matsumoto


One of the best activities in keeping your dog fit is swimming. This low impact exercise benefits dogs through out their life; pup, adolescent, senior and geriatric.

The benefits of this non weight bearing exercise is idea in improving flexibility, muscle tone, range of motion, weight control, post surgery workout and endurance conditioning for sporting dogs (flyball, agility and herding) and “pet” dogs.


by Brian and Joanne Matsumoto

Ballistic Racers Flyball Team had a banner weekend at Irvine this year. January 15th and 16th were much warmer than usual and turned out to be a stellar weekend for our team. We took a first place in our division with our team “Bullet Dogs” on Sunday. It was so exciting to take home first place knowing that all our hard work has been paying off. Our dogs Zippy, Molly, Blast, Cody, Meika, and Herbie had some of the best turns that our team has ever displayed. Zippy and Robin both had their best times ever at this tournament! Zippy broke into the 3’s with a 3.9 second run and Robin had a 4.7 second run on Saturday for his best time ever. Congratulations to Bullet Dogs on their First Place Win!

Even though first place is great, the most exciting racing of the day was with our team “Cyclones”. It was Domino and Slash’s first time racing. Domino’s best time of the day was a 5.3 second run and Slash also had an excellent time with a 5.6 second run. The highlight of the weekend racing was Cyclone’s win by 5 hundredths of a second. Amber and Geneva figured out that if they switched spots we could shorten the passes and win more races. Their hunch paid off  superbly, and  we tied for third place. In the tiebreaker we lost, but we know we did extremely well for having two new dogs on the team. Congratulations to Dennis, Pooky, Kirin, Slash, Indie, and Domino on their great performance.

Ever since the Winter Games we have been reminiscing about our racing that weekend. We also made a great discovery at the tournament and found a “light tree” for sale. We recently purchased a set and now have our own start lights to use at practice. As usual we had great food, great fun with our dogs, and got really tired! Now we are rested up and ready for another round of racing at Ramona in March, so we can…





Click Here For Slideshow

by Alice

My mother ducked out of her arranged breeding with another Pug and pursued a relationship with a younger male, a 9-month Boston Terrier. I am by far the most active and extroverted of my three brothers and sisters, though I don’t know what they’ve become or where they now live. We were born in the Tee – Santee, that is.I now enjoy a posh existence in the suburbs of Carmel Valley, where I spend most of my time frustrated that my humans won’t play with me every waking moment. I understand that they’re lazy and out of shape, but that doesn’t mean I have to be too. Like most men, I tend to focus on one thing at a time, frequently on balls. Tennis balls, baseballs, basketballs… if it moves, I’ll chase it. Being a mixed breed isn’t easy. I’m not recognized by the American Kennel Club, and I can’t compete at those stodgy dog shows. But I will soon become a ninja master flyballer, much like my Chinese predecessors of yore.



Good looks, and I can run too!!


…and remember not to party too hard!!

Here’s another great photo from our Flyball Team Christmas Party a few weeks ago at Miyabi’s in Encinitas.

by Brian and Joanne Matsumoto

Thanks to a lot of hard work, preparation, and Miyabi Japanese Steak House, the Ballistic Racers Christmas Party was once again a big success. Over thirty people attended and a Grand prize of a two night stay in Catalina was given away.

The chefs put on a great show while everyone dined on succulent steak, chicken, or seafood. We celebrated five birthdays of Alice, Phyllis, Shay, Su, and Karen. The evening slipped away as we all traded gifts, received gifts, and was topped off with a spectacular slide show from Kelly.

As we enjoyed the birthday cake we congratulated the grand prize winners, Shay and Kevin, who won the two night stay in Avalon. Since they are moving across country, have a new baby, and have not ever been to Catalina, this was the perfect gift.

It’s great to reminisce about how our team started just three years ago with five people and how it now numbers over twenty. We did not imagine that in three years we would have such a large team, so many dogs, and such a huge Christmas Dinner. Flyball is a big part of our lives, and we intend to make it as enjoyable as possible. All of our team members live for our dogs, enjoy the comradary, and try to do our best as we have fun in Flyball Racing.

Have a Merry Christmas, and a
Happy New Year,

Brian, Joanne, Minnie, Vegas, and Zippy