One Sunday, a few weeks ago, we noticed Breck was limping. The first thing we thought was that he had gotten stung in the foot by a drunk wasp that had been dining on the fallen apples near my back door. Nope, no sting locations. We felt if he had any broken bones, nope. No dog squeaks after pulling it out and bending. We figured we’d get him into the veterinarian that next Monday.
Our appointment was at 10 AM, and in less than 3 minutes, he was diagnosed with a cruciate ligament tear in his right, rear knee. A CCL is the same as an ACL in humans. In a nutshell, its the tendon that holds the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (calf bone) and prevents the femur from sliding forward off the tibia. Clearly, dogs are made a bit different. All the vet needed to do was to push his femur back from his tibia and note the amount of ‘shift’ it made. Too much shift for it to still be attached.
Breck in the doughnut-of-shame
She offered up three options, do nothing, or two types of surgery. The first type was called the ‘Fishing Line’ or ‘Old School’ technique. The vet would basically recreate the tendon with fishing line between the two bones. Vets have been doing this surgery for years and it has worked well for dogs Brecks size for decades. The other surgery sounded a bit more intense, as the tibia would be cut and reattached backwards, to create a ledge. (Read the link for more details on the surgeries).
After the vet briefly described the surgeries, she then asked me to sit for the prices… The fishing line surgery was about $3,500 and the tibia cut surgery, would be about $4,500. Good thing she had smelling salts handy 😉 I clearly had to go home and discuss this with my hubby.
There was no doubt we were going to have to go with one of the surgeries. Unless we wanted him in a brace for the rest of his life… Nope!! He’s only 10 years old. We started getting educated about the surgery and reached out to my Mother-in-Law, as her dog just had CCL surgery done at 15 years old and recovered fabulously. Her vet only charged her $1,400! Say what?!? That is more than half the dough my vet wanted! Gimmie his number!
I wasn’t that happy with my current vet anyway.. I wondered if she even liked animals. She wouldn’t get on the floor and pet them, or give them treats before the business time of the appointment. Just the facts, ma’am.
Breck at work with me.
We got an appointment two hours after I called M-I-L’s vet. The first thing he did was to pay attention to Breck and make both of us feel comfortable. He examined his leg (on the floor) and quickly agreed with the other vet. His CCL was torn. Dr. H told me that Breck looked healthy, not overweight and the fishing line surgery would be a great surgery for him. He showed me models of dog knees and how the surgery/recovery process would go. We scheduled surgery for the next Monday.
Breck in his onsie… Hey, don’t knock it until you try it 😉
His surgery went well and according to his x-rays, it was a freak accident. He had no predisposition for this injury, nor did he have any arthritis anywhere. In my opinion, his injury was from his little, evil brother, Oreo. He likes to ‘check’ other dogs and hoomans. ‘Checking’ is a hockey term for running into another player really hard. Surely, this is what happened.
Since I knew the 8 week recovery time was going to be hell on everyone in this house, I started perusing Amazon for any products I could find to make Breck as comfortable as possible, keep him safe and help keep the hoomans sane.
Yes, we do have a real cage, however, this is not the route we wanted to take. With a cone or ‘doughnut’ on, he would not be able to turn very well in the cage. We bought a large cage enclosure to keep him in while we’re home. I am also able to take him to work with me, so he’ll basically be under surveillance 24/7. Well, except for when we slept.
We soon learned cones-of-shame were Breck’s most hated thing in the world. After cone attachment, he’d pant, shake, squirm, cry and paw at it, trying to achieve removal. We tried to be patient, however he was not having it. We next tried the doughnut. He is accepting of it while I am around him, however the minute I turn my back, its off. We tied it as tight as we thought reasonable. His neck to head ratio is nonexistent, along with his silky fur, allows for easy removal of anything around his neck. The hoomans needed to be smarter… Bandages wouldn’t help. We even tried to put a pair of daddy’s boxer underwear on him… Placing his tail through the hole. (heehee…) I won’t humiliate either of them with a photo. 😉
I finally happened upon these doggy-after-surgery onsies. I ordered a large, however I feel it was too small and now ordered an XL. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!! Now I’ve only had it on him for a day (and it’s a bit small), but so far, I am sold! He doesn’t mind having it on and he can still lick some places, just not where his stitches are. I will have to report if this works, as he has already got one stitch out. (Overnight and into the second day, the stitches have been un-licked!)
So, now that we’ve been able to keep him from bothering his stitches, keeping his brain entertained was the next step. If you believe Cesar Millan, dogs don’t have emotions, thus do not get depressed. Really? I used to respect that man….Sigh.. Anyway. Since I believe dogs do have basic emotions, including depression, I felt I needed to figure out some activities for him to pass the time. Here’s what I came up with:
- Long-lasting chew toys. I found these Himalayan Cheese blocks! I did not follow the directions on the package, but gave one to him right out of the package. He loves them and they take about a day or two to get through.
- He likes to be brushed, so he’s gotten brushed daily. He also loves his face and nose rubbed with something fuzzy. He really likes massages, also.
- Gentle tug of war. Very gentle!
- Which cup is the treat under game. He’s too good, we’ve had to go to 4 cups.
- Breck loves being talked to. I’m not sure how much he understands, however he is absorbed in every word I speak.
- I normally don’t let him ‘defuzz’ a tennis ball, however he really likes doing it and it takes an hour or two to do the job.
- He loves just sitting outside. Since we’ve been having some beautiful days lately, I’ve been enjoying the weather with him, sitting in the cool grass and relaxing.
- He loves coconut oil. I put it on his front feet to lick off.
- We had gotten him a few ‘Brain Games’. Basically, hide the treat type games. He’s too darn smart for these, though. Once he’s figured it out, it takes less than a minute to do it again.
- I’ve read about others buying dog buggies to take their pooches on
walks rides in. Well, I’m not going to blow a bunch of bucks on a specialized one, however I remembered the gardening cart I used when I had my own biz. He loves it!! I wheeled him through the neighborhood and he just sniffed the air. I take him out occasionally to write P-Mails on posts and mailboxes 🙂
Wanna go for a roll??
There is very little I’ll not do for my fur kids.
© Ilex ~Midwestern Plant Girl