“Choices are the hinges of destiny.”
“The greatest accomplishment began as a decision once made and often a difficult one.”
As many of you know, we are proud dog owners. We don’t have children, so our dog is the proxy for progeny, meaning that we’re the crazy obsessive-compulsive dog people that I’m sure everyone makes fun of behind our backs.
So be it.
Recently, we were at the dog park with him watching him racing a German short-haired pointer who lives in our neighborhood. We were talking with his owner enjoying an unseasonably warm February Saturday morning when we looked up and saw our dog holding his hind leg up. He’s occasionally come up gimpy when playing at the dog park, so we figured we’d give him a few minutes to walk it off.
A few minutes later, was still refusing to put weight on the leg. At that point, I suspected it was something more, so we hauled him off to the car and drove him straight to the vet. The vet had us walk our dog up and down the hall and then started doing some pulling and pushing on our dog’s leg.
“What I thought,” he informed us. “He has a torn ACL.”
I’ve torn my ACL, and I immediately conjured up images of a 6 month recovery period, which, for a 7 year old dog, is a significant portion of his remaining good years. I was crushed.
Actually, it turns out, the recovery period is 12 weeks, and while we’ll probably never be able to take our dog to the dog park again, he can still go on long walks and hikes with us. Just no more fetch or unsupervised off-leash time.
Saddening, but not a mortal blow to his lifestyle.
The vet explained the two types of procedures available to repair ACLs in dogs. The cheaper version, costing $800, involved basically restitching the parts together and hoping they set. It was good for dogs up to about 40 pounds and not recommended beyond that. The second one, called a TPLO, involved reshaping a bone and setting the leg into it, strengthening the whole system. It was recommended for larger dogs and costs $2,100.
Our dog is 50 pounds.
It was no question.
We opted for the TPLO surgery.
During the recovery process, rest and recuperation is paramount. No running, no jumping, no excitement, no overexertion. We talked to the vet tech about the post-surgical recovery, and, since we had already planned a ski trip to Colorado during the time that the surgeon was available to make our dog into the Bionic Dog™, we decided to board him for the week after surgery.
Thus, when we picked him up from the vet, our bill was close to $2,700.
He was happy to be home.
Then he realized he wasn’t getting out of his cone of shame.
This was the second major leg surgery our dog has had. When he was 6 months old, he would lay down in the middle of walks. We took him to his vet, who determined that he had elbow dysplasia. $3,500 later, he had no more bone shards in his elbows, and a month-long recovery before he could do more than walk to use the bathroom.