The Incredible Kaze and the Story of Her Amazing Comeback
Kaze ran in her last agility trial on July 25, 2009 and it was a bitter sweet moment for Kaze and her owner/trainer Victoria MacVicar. Kaze passed away at 16 1/2 years old (7/5/96 – 2/14/13) and will be missed by so many. She had an incredible agility career and if you haven’t heard her story, her success and determination will inspire you.
In 2002, Kaze and MacVicar hit a major bump in the road. Kaze dislocated several bones in her “wrist area” and damaged several ligaments while she was outside on her seven acre property. In June 2002, after several grim opinions, Kaze and MacVicar made a 300 mile trip to see Dr. Jon Dee, D.V.M., M.S., at Hollywood Animal Hospital. Dee planned a reconstruction procedure for Kaze which lasted four hours and included three pins and a screw. He also reconstructed bone and soft tissue and repaired ligaments.
While watching over Kaze after the surgery, MacVicar began researching all avenues to speed healing and recovery. Kaze was put on a raw diet to get natural calcium into her body. She also had massages and hydrotherapy. After visiting Dr. Trish Kallenbach of Midway Animal Alternative and Complementary Clinic, MacVicar learned that Kaze’s breaks in the bones were not healing. They found inflammation around the fracture, so the nutrient supplements they were giving Kaze could not do their job. Kallenbach used standard processed products to reduce swelling and added other supplements to stimulated healing in the bones.
In October 2002, Kaze’s bandages were removed and physical therapy began. Kaze would not put any weight on her paw. Despite stretching, massage, physical therapy including hydrotherapy, supplementation, and diet, Kaze’s physical situation did not improve. Visits with Dee showed a lack of healing in the affected area. The bones were not regenerating and a pin was loosening.
Dee and MacVicar researched all options but it came down to the one thing they had tried hard to avoid, fusion. To preserve the possibility of a continued agility career for Kaze, he took special consideration in the length and type of the plate used for the fusion. Careful placement of the 8″ plate and 12 screws allowed flexibility in Kaze’s toes. The cartilage around the joint was cleaned and bone graphs were performed using bone from Kaze’s shoulder.
Immediately after the surgery, Kaze was putting weight on her now fused foot, the first time since her accident. Kaze was limited in her activity for another four months. Tired of the restrictions and bandaging, Kaze worked to remove the wrappings, sometimes the moment after they were changed. After eight months of being bandaged, Dee gave permission for Kaze to start workouts. Recovery could start for real.
Dee told MacVicar she could increase Kaze’s exercise by 10% each week. The road to recovery and to more agility began with on-lead walks in the yard. Kaze did a lot of swimming and had chiropractic adjustments. Improvements came quickly with MacVicar’s continued holistic approach. When MacVicar unsnapped Kaze’s leash after eight months, Kaze ran – on four legs.
By this time, MacVicar’s thoughts had turned to agility. Although some veterinarians doubted whether the fusion would allow Kaze to function normally in agility, MacVicar found supporters. Dee was one of them. “I was rooting for them win, lose, or draw,” he says. While Dee admits that “there is nothing as good as original equipment in working order,” he felt that Kaze had many things in her favor. “Kaze has a heart the size of an elephant,” he says. He also believed MacVicar’s perserverance and patience were important factors.
In April 2003, MacVicar entered Kaze in her first agility trial since the accident. “Our timing was off,” says MacVicar. “I was apprehensive. I just wanted her to get around the course and not go 100 miles an hour. I was saying a lot of ‘easy,’” she says. At the time of her injury, Kaze was on track to be one of the first Brittanys to attain a MACH title and MacVicar still wanted to reach that goal. “I was overhandling for months,” MacVicar says. Finally Kaze told her that enough was enough. One day Kaze decided to do her own thing. MacVicar remembers, “She got out there and went crazy, jumping everything and taking the triple backwards. I got the feeling that she was saying, ‘Focus on your handling! I am fine. Stop worrying!’”
Kaze has settled into a more consistent running style that has delivered a higher double qualifying score ratio than before the accident. Dee saw Kaze in action in the spring of 2004. He says, “That dog goes from resting quietly to Fourth of July fireworks!”
On October 24, 2004, MacVicar and Kaze earned their first AKC MACH title.
By Brenna Fender
(This article first appeared in the September 2005 issue of Clean Run, the magazine for dog agility enthusiasts. www.cleanrun.com)
- Conformation: AKC Champion, International Champion
- Obedience: UCD, CD, CDX
- Field: JH, Multiple Field Placements, and 4 Points in the Field
- UKC Agility: UAG1, UAG2, UACH, UACHX, UCD, 8 HIT (High In Agility Trial)
- AKC Agility: NA, NAP, NJW, NJP, OA, OAP, OJW, OJP, AX, AXP, AXJ, AJP, MX, MXP, MXJ, MJP, MJP2, MJP3, NF, OF, XF, MXF, MACH1, MACH2, MACH3, MACH4, MACH5, 3 HIT (High In Agility Trial)
- USDAA Agility: AD, AAD, MAD, JM, SM, GM, RM, ADCH
- NADAC Agility: NAC, NGC, NJC, OAC, OJC, OGC, EAC, EJC, EJG, 2 HIT (High In Agility Trial)
- ASCA Agility: RS-N, GS-N, JS-N, RS-O, GS-O, JS-O, RS-E, GS-E, JS-E, ATCH
- Flyball: FD
- 2004: #1 Brittany in AKC Agility
- 2005: #3 Brittany in AKC Agility
- 2006: #2 Brittany out of 5 to be invited to the AKC Agility Invitational
- 2007: #3 Brittany out of 5 to be invited to the AKC Agility Invitational
- 2008: #3 Brittany out of 5 to be invited to the AKC Agility Invitational
- Currently #3 Lifetime Agility Brittany
- 1st Place 20″ 1999 Pupperoni Regional Agility
- 6th Place 20″ 1999 Pupperoni Nationals
- 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 AKC Agility Nationals Qualifier
- 2001-2002 USDAA Grand Prix Qualifier
- 2002 USDAA Regional Qualifier
- 2003 Dog Agility Masters Qualifier (8th Place)
- 2004 USDAA Preferred Grand Prix Qualifier (2nd Place)
- 6 Puppies (All Girls – Lil’ Kazettes): 3 Champions, 1 CDX, 1 Best in Sweepstakes Winner, 3 competing in Agility, 2 JH, 3 OFA’d Good, 2 MACH daughters
- TV – Animal Planet: 6 episodes of Zig and Zag Alpha Dog Challenge
KAZE TRULY IS A WONDER DOG!!! CONGRATULATIONS TO KAZE AND VICTORIA MACVICAR FOR THE HURDLES THEY HAVE OVERCOME. THE THINGS THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED ARE MIND BOGGLING.
Kaze’s Retirement Day: July 25, 2009
We have had a great ride during your Agility career and I am very sad we cannot be an Agility team anymore. I am going to miss running with you very much.
In your wonderful Brittany ways, you taught me so much. The importance of a start line, great distance work as you would WOW the audience when I steered you around the course, and most of all, TEAM WORK. We were so smooth these last few years, you so steady and me, able to run with you. We had many, many runs on the “edge of crashing” and you always gave it 200%.
I would love to keep running you and I know you would like to continue. You have competed a lot longer than many dogs because of your love of the sport and your dedication to me. Your body is weak now and your hearing is almost gone. It’s time for you to hang out, occupy that #1 spot with me, and keep being that “special” dog.
Your Agility trainee,
I have loved being your Agility partner and teaching you how to handle Brittanys around the courses. You have grown through the years and I now have you at a place where you can continue with my “pups.” As much as I want to do Agility, I know that my body is weakening with loss of muscle and my lack of coordination causes me to bump into the weaves. I’m happy you have stopped running me in Standard.
I still want to go with you and the “pack.” I still want to do a few jumps in the yard and go over the practice jump from time to time. I love the sport but it takes a lot out of me. Don’t feel bad that we can’t compete together. I may make a fuss at times but it is because I remember the great runs we had and I dream about them in my mind.
You have part of me in your “up and coming” pups. Develop them, nurture them, and remember how we grew together to be a terrific TEAM.
Your loving dog partner,