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?”



  1. Oh, my stars! Poor Tess and poor you and your husband! You are such dedicated fur parents, you deserve more than a plaque!

    I hope Tess will be back to her romping self soon. The only surgery my pup had was to remove a tumor and that just meant no walks for two weeks until the incision healed (it was on her neck, right where the collar would rub). Zora didn’t seem to mind all that much.

    How old is Tess and how did she rupture her knee muscle? She’s a gorgeous dog and you can see the intelligence in her eyes.


    • Thanks Tameri!!! It’s been a long few weeks, that’s for sure but I think seeing the end in sight is helping. How’s Zora now? No further complications I hope?

      Tess is 10 so although she’s older, she’s also so young. Her spirit is still very puppy-like. She ruptured it just running across the back yard. She wasn’t turning or anything – just running straight for me and she stopped up short and started screaming.

      Yes, she’s a beauty and sooo freaking smart, it’s unnerving! Having no children of my own, she’s always been like my baby – my pride and joy so there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for her. Although hubby tries to keep me in check. 🙂

  2. Ayayayayay, I think you win the prize for “distance gone for furry friend.” Well done you, I hope Tess continues to improve. My dog travelled with me from Australia to the US when I moved, because I never intended to return. Then once he was Australia-bound again, it was a MASSIVE undertaking because Australian quarantine is so strict. There was a nine-month process in New York to prepare him for the return, plus a month in quarantine when he got here (that’s the shortened time – normally it’s three months). In addition, I couldn’t bear the thought of him being in the travel crate waiting on the tarmac at JFK, then six hours to LA, then waiting for the exchange, then 14-16 hours to Sydney. Instead, a friend and I drove the dog from NYC to LA, so he would only have to do one leg of the flight.

    (Admittedly, it was a pretty amazing road trip).

    • HOLY COW! Naomi, that’s insane. I can’t believe it was a nine-month process with a month in quarantine…that’s crazy! And can you imagine had it been for the three months – yikes!! You definitely deserve a puppy parent of the year award as well!!! I so would have done the road trip as well – good for puppy and good for Mommy as well!! 🙂 They are our babies and there isn’t much we wouldn’t do for them, eh?!?

  3. Dang, I’ll give you the Puppy Parents of the Year plaque. That is dedicated. I don’t even take that good care of myself! But she’s such a pretty dog and totally worth it. I can relate to the shock of the vet bill. When I first adopted my kitty a couple years ago, I knew she was sick, but the agency said it was just a cold. Well, after a couple weeks of her not getting better, we took her to the vet and it turned out she had a really bad chest infection and probably would have died had she stayed at the pet shop where they didn’t know better. But she’s all better now and hasn’t been sick a day since. She’s worth it too. 🙂

    • Awww…thank you! Yeah, we are trying really hard to do right by her and the surgery. I want her to go into her old age years with a good chance of being happy, healthy, and strong for as long as possible and for that, she needs all four legs in top condition. Here’s hoping all this work pays off. And honestly, it’s good for us to get out walking so much!! 🙂

      You know though, I was telling hubby that one of the most incredible gifts we are getting out of it is an increased bond with her. I mean, we adore her and were bonded already but now that we are investing hours each day in rubbing, walking and tending to her; there just seems to be this increased sense of a bond between us…it’s quite beautiful and warms my heart – and definitely makes it all worth while!

      My gosh, your kitty is amazingly lucky that you got to her in time. Must have been faith and it sounds like she’s worth every effort as well. The unconditional love and adoration of a pet is something pretty spectacular.

  4. Tess is very lucky to have you. It’s always wonderful to see someone truly loving and taking care of their dog. I will keep her in my prayers and hope she is back to normal soon.

  5. Reminds me of my sweet Hoshi. You saw my Hoshi post, right? She was the best doggie. We did underwater treadmill with her, plus lots of the aforementioned things. When Tess gets arthritis, between me and Amy, we’ve got you covered.

    • I did – I loved it! It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of all the incredible reasons I adore Tess. Underwater treadmill – how incredible!! It is good to know that I have such a fabulous support system and I’ll definitely be leaning on you and Amy when the time comes. She’s still doing great but…she’s also limping more lately and is obviously pretty stiff. I am not sure if the change in seasons to cooler weather?!?! Her energy level has really tanked as well. She can’t handle much more than a 15-20 min walk…sniff…I think it could be time for some daily medication so I am going to take her for a little vet visit this week and see what they think…poor little girl…it’s tough to watch our babies age!!! Thank you for your encouragement!!! MUAH!


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