Special to the EagleHerald/Greg Nast
Sgt. Tina Nast of the Menominee County Sheriff’s Office (left) comforts her K9 partner Avery as he is examined by physical therapist Courtney Monday in Madison, Wisconsin. Avery is recovering well from surgery last month to repair a leg injury.
 
Special to the EagleHerald/Greg Nast

Sgt. Tina Nast of the Menominee County Sheriff’s Office (left) comforts her K9 partner Avery as he is examined by physical therapist Courtney Monday in Madison, Wisconsin. Avery is recovering well from surgery last month to repair a leg injury.

 

MENOMINEE — He might still be listed on injured reserve, but don’t tell that to Avery.

K9 Officer Avery of the Menominee County Sheriff’s Office successfully underwent surgery June 14 at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine to repair a large tear in the meniscus of his left hind leg before repairing the cruciate tear.

Monday, he and his handler and partner, Sgt. Tina Nast, made the long trip back to Madison to check on Avery’s physical therapy.

Nast was trained to perform the PT herself on the 8 1/2-year-old English black lab.

She and Avery were given high marks.

“He looks great,” Nast told the EagleHerald Monday evening. “He’s exactly where they expected him to be.” She said Avery has full extension of that left rear leg and she now needs to focus on loosening the ligaments and building his strength.

“He’s tight in the back of his legs,” she said of the results of the time Avery was out of commission prior to and after surgery.

Avery’s physical therapist, Courtney, used a TENS unit on Avery, which sends small electrical impulses through electrodes adhered to the skin to flood the nervous system, blocking pain signals to the brain.The unit, which is also used on humans, also stimulates the body to produce natural pain relievers, known as endorphins.

Nast said Courtney showed her tricks to get Avery to balance on the back, weaker left leg, which included treats — like peanut butter — to lure him unto position.

Nast said she has never done PT on a dog, but laughingly said she feels like she has learned enough to help someone else.

Meanwhile, Avery has been going to work with Nast, even though his activity level is being controlled.

“He’s so amped up,” Nast said. “He was so down in the dumps for the two months before surgery, and now he wants to go!” When she is not able to keep a constant eye on him, Avery is kenneled and he wears a brace when he is out and about.

“I can see he is still favoring his left side,” she said. “He’s lost muscle in that leg.”

Avery is scheduled for another followup in Madison July 27, when his therapist expects he will have built more muscle and stability. Aug. 14 is the real test: Avery and Nast will meet with Avery’s veterinary surgeon and have an X-ray to see if he can be cleared to return to work. He will not be completely ready, Nast said, but she expects he will be able to become more active and continue to train.

For the time being, the dynamic duo has to be content to exercise several times a day — even at work — and to take walks, not runs.

“We are confident that he will recover,” Nast said, “but we won’t know if he’s 100% until he sees the doctors and has that X-ray.”

Avery is funded through donations from local businesses, civic groups and the public, all of whom will get a chance to see him and Nast at Family Fun Night tonight at the Great Lakes Memorial Marina in Menominee.