Submitted by Mississippi Valley Surgery Center
Leaping over bars and sprinting through tunnels, Border Collie Tula navigates a challenging obstacle course with ease. Keeping pace with the agile canine is 64-year-old Dawn Dawson-Ecker.
The dynamic duo has set their sights on qualifying for the American Kennel Club National Agility Championship in March of next year.
That’s a mighty goal considering Dawn’s knees used to cause her so much pain she struggled to complete a leisurely dog walk.
Dawn’s pain began a few years ago when she retired.
After 39 years at John Deere, she was excited to focus on her passion of training her dog for time and accuracy competitions.
“After spending most of my days sitting during my career, I was now achieving nearly 20,000 steps a day with Tula,” said Dawn. “My dog is smokin’ fast, and my knees were just not handling it well.”
As the pain intensified, Dawn was forced to have other people run her dog through the agility course. Long car rides and long periods of sitting were also extremely painful.
Dawn didn’t give up. She knew that to be the best, she would need to work with the best. That’s why she consulted Dr. John Hoffman, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with Orthopaedic Specialists in Davenport.
Dr. Hoffman, who performs minimally invasive joint surgery at the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, explained to Dawn that it was only a matter of time until she would need both knees replaced.
A minimally invasive knee surgery to regain mobility
In April 2017, Dawn had her first outpatient knee replacement at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, the Quad Cities’ largest multi-specialty outpatient surgery center. Then, in November 2017, she had her other knee replaced at the Surgery Center.
Total knee replacement (also called knee arthroplasty) is a common orthopedic procedure that replaces the damaged or worn surfaces of the knee cartilage and bones with an implant that relieves pain and increases mobility. Unlike the traditional approach with a long, vertical incision at the knee’s center, a minimally invasive total knee replacement uses a shorter incision with the goal of reducing postoperative pain and speeding recovery.
According to Dawn, the team at the Surgery Center made sure the entire surgical experience was one she felt good about.
“The staff was wonderful,” Dawn said. “They were very informative and very helpful. They made sure I knew everything that was going on.
It was nice to have the nurses nearby, which gave me peace of mind to know they were there if I needed them. I would highly recommend the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center. From the gal at the front desk who made me smile to the guy who gets you all settled in and really everyone in between — you could tell they were very professional and kind people.”
A fast recovery
Dawn was walking within 24 hours of each outpatient surgery, and she was able to recover in the comfort of her own home. Surgery Center nurses called her days after to check on her recovery, which put Dawn at ease.
Determined to have a swift recovery, Dawn chose Plaza Physical Therapy in Davenport to go through a specific rehabilitation program designed to get back to running with Tula as quickly as possible.
Less than 11 weeks after her surgery, Dawn was competing once more — and she’s happy to be back in the course. Tula’s training wouldn’t be the same without Dawn running through the course with her — something Dawn couldn’t do before her knee replacements at the Surgery Center.
In January, she opened her own small business teaching workshops and providing private lessons in dog agility.
“People at the trials are like, ‘I can’t believe you have artificial knees,’” Dawn said. “A lot of it is your will. I got things to do!”
To learn more about the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, go to www.mvhealth.net or visit the center’s Facebook page at