Dear blog…my dog is my baby…

Well, a week ago today, my dog was injured. Tess is a near 10-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. About five years ago, she injured her knee playing fetch. It was a pretty serious sprain that took a few weeks to heal from. Now, it seems like ever since that first injury, the knee is susceptible to re-injury; about once a year or so. And last Tuesday, Tess was flying across the back yard at full speed when she fetched up to an immediate halt and starting screeching.

I am not sure how many of you have been around a Duck Toller but they don’t just howl, they screech like a freaking banshee. It’s loud and at a heart wrenching soprano level. My heart nearly stopped and I ran to her. There she stood, whimpering, a tripod; balancing on three legs holding the back left straight up in the air.

Now, you have to understand, this isn’t the first time we’ve gone through this and I’ve come to recognize and accept that my dog is…well…a bit of a drama queen…with a touch of spleeny tossed in. The first few injuries, I’d rush her to the vet immediately and the next day she’d be up and around with no lasting side effects, fully recovered. So this time, after I felt the leg all over, pushing and squeezing, and was certain nothing was broken, I was convinced that this latest injury was likely par for the course. She’d be right as rain in a day or two.

But the next day when we got home, she was still holding up her left leg and wouldn’t put any weight on it. I got concerned, and so did Scott. She was due for her annual exam anyway so we figured a vet visit was in good order.

And it was a good thing. The vet is concerned that this time it could be more than a strain or sprain, but an actual torn ACL. Due to the swelling, she couldn’t tell 100% so Tess is on couch potato duty, pain and anti-inflammatory meds, and I am icing the knee three times a day for the next 10 days. She goes back for a recheck on June 21 for a final verdict; rehabilitation/healing or surgery (with a cost of around $1200)?!?!

Here’s the thing. Scott and I have had this ongoing and open discussion about what we would do when this time came: when Tess started needing surgeries and bigger dollar investments. With a life expectancy of only 12 to 15 years old, we both agreed that there would come a certain point where major moolah for big surgeries would be a moot point. Add to that, I don’t believe in compromising my dog’s quality of life for my own need to keep her around longer. If she is suffering and her quality of life is not going to improve, I would like to think no matter how hard the decision, I would put her down.

But neither of us feels like we are quite there yet. Even though she’s turning 10 this year, she seems to have a ton of life, energy, and spirit left in her. Other than this knee, there are relatively no other health issues. Wth a possible cost of $1200 for the surgery, we are just on the “cusp” of our financial comfort zone. Pushing right up against the boundaries but not quite pushing over.

And then comes the “what ifs”; what if we invest in this surgery only to turn around and have the other leg go within a year at another $1200? Thirty percent of dogs who have one surgery done, require the other leg to be done; likely because of all the weight/strain they put on the other leg while injured and recovering. That could potentially mean $2400 within a year or so.

I am pretty certain that if the vet recommends surgery, we’ll suck it up and do it: happily. I want her with us as long as possible and as strong as possible. She’s my baby – my little girl – my darlin’!

It does beg to question, our pets are our fur babies, but when is too much, too much? How do you know?

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