The things we’ll do for our furry children


As most of you have, my dog Tess had knee surgery five weeks ago today after she ruptured the main ligament in her knee (in human terms, she blew her ACL) in early June. The surgery cost was a hard pill to swallow at $1800 but what’s been more of a whooper is the time and energy we’ve had to invest in her physiotherapy. I mean, the vet warned us that the 12 weeks of physio would be pretty time intensive and boy…she wasn’t kidding.

 “If you are going to invest this kind of money into the surgery, you need to be willing to invest the time and energy into the physio otherwise it’s not really going to be worth it,” she told us.

OK…damn it…she’s right! So physio mania has taken over my house for the last five weeks.

Before I give you the jaw-dropping deets, I gotta stop right here and give myself and hubby props! We’ve done far better than I thought we would. We’ve thrown ourselves into Tess’ therapy with a level of commitment very unlike us. When push came to shove, we’ve really come through and have given Tess exceptional care and attention. I’ve been so impressed; hubby hasn’t even complained or moaned once. We tag team the therapy which helps dramatically and together, we’ve made Team Tess a huge success.

And in telling others our story, I’ve been blown away and comforted by the amazing stories of what people will do for their furry children. It’s a beautiful thing. I’d love to hear your story so feel free to comment.

So here’s the physio deets…hold on to your panties, it’s a bit long….

Week 1 to 2:

  • Cool compress on knee – 10 minutes
  • Massage leg and knee muscles – 3 minute
  • Range of motion exercises (12-15 reps bending the toe, ankle, knee and hip) – 3 minutes
  • Slow, controlled walk – building up from to 10 minutes (hubby’s job)
  • Cool compress on knee – 10 minutes

Total: 36 minutes – 3 TIMES a day.

I know what you are thinking: “wowzers, that’s a lot three times a day – are you insane?” But honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Watch a little TV and the time passes quickly. Voila, tous fini. I actually caught myself thinking “hmmm…no idea what the vet was talking about, this isn’t that bad…” I thought we were in the clear. Boy was I wrong!

The result (2-week check-up):hubby and I we were duly rewarded, patted on back, and cheered with a GLOWING report card. The vet was super impressed with the reduction in swelling and with the increase in muscle mass. She thought Tess was walking on it beautifully and putting a good amount of weight on it. Yeahhhh for hubby and I. Quick, someone get us a plaque with the Puppy Parents of the Year Award!

Our gift for our great work…we got to take Tess off the opiate drugs (dog morphine) and do more physio!

Week 2 to 4:

  • Warm compress – 15 minutes
  • Massage leg and knee muscles – 3 minute
  • Range of motion exercises (20 reps bending the toe, ankle, knee and hip) – 4 minutes
  • Controlled walk – building up to 20 minutes (hubby’s job)
  • Cool compress on knee – 15 minutes

Total: 57 minutes – 3 TIMES a day.

Funny, when Tess isn’t high on her opiate drugs, she doesn’t seem nearly as “willing” to have me yanking on her leg. So weird. This has made physio a little tougher.

The increase in time proved to be a wee bit more difficult to make happen, especially in mornings before going to work. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. to do dog physio was not in the plan so…we compromised. Through the work week, we did physio “light” in the mornings (around 12 minutes of heat, walk, cool) and a full physio treatment in the evenings. On the weekends, we would fit in three full physio treatments.

The result (4-week check-up): again, a GLOWING report card! The vet was super pleased with Tess’ progress and said that we were doing a stupendous job (ok, she may not have used that word exactly but I am sure it’s what she meant)! And again, we were rewarded…Tess came off her anti-inflammatory drugs and we got….wait for it….yes…MORE physio…yeahhhh…..

Week 4 to 8:

  • Warm compress – 15 minutes
  • Massage leg and knee muscles – 3 minute
  • Range of Motion exercises (20 reps bending the toe, ankle, knee and hip) – 4 minutes
  • Slow, controlled walk – building up to 30 minutes (hubby’s job)
  • Figure eight exercises – 5 minutes
  • Sit and stand exercises – 5 minutes
  • Cool compress on knee – 15 minutes

Total: 77 minutes – 3 TIMES a day.

OK, now we are just getting crazy! I am going to have to hire a stay-at-home physiotherapist for my dog. Either that or I’ll have to take a month off work. Wow.

We keep reminding ourselves that the motto is to do the best that we can do. Unfortunately, there’s no way we can do this full physio three times a day and hold down full-time jobs Monday to Friday (and have something of a life) so we are being realistic. We will continue with the morning “light” version and  do one full session each evening. On the weekends, we’ll do at least two full physio sessions a day, if not a third.

You should also know that throughout these last eight weeks, Tess hasn’t been allowed off a leash. For a dog that used to run and roam free (supervised) nearly 100% of the time, this has been a major shock to the system. Controlled walks where she can’t sniff, pee, and poo eighty-five times are like torture to her. But she’s adjusting…thankfully!

And to make matters worse for hubby, Tess has not been able to go up or down any stairs. Have I mentioned that we live in a two-storey home and the main living area is up about 14 stairs. Ugh! Hubby said he wanted to increase his exercise and the universe must have heard him. He’s had to carry 50-pound Tess up and down the stairs three to four times a day this entire time. Thankfully, at this past check-up we got the news that we could start her on stairs albeit we have to go slow and easy.

Thankfully, at the eight-week mark, as long as we get another glowing vet report, things should et considerably easier with increased walking but less of the heat, massage, cooling etc and stairs should start to become a breeze. Here’s hoping!

Isn’t it CRAZY what we’ll do for our furry children? How far have you gone for your fur friend?”

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