SAN ANTONIO – Kvido, a young German shepherd just 3 1/2 years old, was no longer being his agile self. Severe pain in his lower back nearly ended his career as a U.S. Border Patrol canine, sniffing out drugs and chasing drug smugglers in the Rio Grande Valley.
“He’s 16 hours of my day. He’s the first thing I do when I get up and the last thing I do when I go to sleep,” said his handler, who didn’t want to be identified because of the nature of their job.
But Kvido was officially cleared to go back to duty Monday, thanks to Dr. James Giles III, a surgeon with South Texas Veterinary Specialists in San Antonio, and Dr. Ben Arcand, one of the co-founders of ArteMedics, a new Minnesota-based company that develops and supplies veterinary tools and devices.
“We came out of the human device world. That’s where we met and found out that we all shared a love of dogs,” Arcand said.
Seeing Kvido after his surgery and two months of therapy, Arcand said, “It’s amazing. We’re so happy to be a part of this.”
The canine was in good hands.
Giles joined South Texas Veterinary Specialists after retiring last year as a lieutenant colonel and chief of surgery for the Military Working Dog Veterinary Service.
He also has extensive experience with degenerative lumbosacral stenosis, the condition he found in Kvido, that’s common in working dogs and even people.
“He walked over the touched the dog’s back and it made the dog whimper instantly,” Kvido’s handler said.
Giles said an MRI confirmed the diagnosis.
Within days of the titanium device developed by Arcand and his colleagues being implanted in Kvido’s spine, “We saw dramatic short term results,” Giles said.
He said Kvido was the first canine to have the device.
Then came two months of rehab at the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Giles said it is hoped the device will allow the space that formed in Kvido’s spine will eventually fuse allowing for long-term stability.
David Morales, who oversees the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector’s canine program, said a dog worth thousands of dollars probably would have been retired after only two years without the surgery.
As for Kvido’s handler, he said, “I’m real happy to have him back for sure.”