Only Days after the Dog’s Surgery…

I have realized something in the last couple of days. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to have TPO surgery done for Lucy’s hip dysplasia. I started to come to this realization while reading through the after-care and physical therapy information on Saturday. I couldn’t keep it all straight, so I made calendars. Lucy’s physical therapy requirements take us well into August.

I thought we were doing okay over the weekend. Mark and I were both home all weekend (a rare occurrence.) We had plenty of time and little more to do than pamper Lucy and cater to her needs. But things started to get dicey when Monday rolled around and everyone had to go back to work.

Lucy’s activity restrictions include keeping her confined to a small area and using caution on bare floors for two weeks. That’s not all. For the next three months she’s not allowed to go up or down stairs, wander the yard freely, play, run or jump. She must be carried up and down stairs. When she needs to do her business, someone has to take her out in the yard on her leash and wait for it to happen.

Hangin’ out on her blankie

Normally, when I get up in the morning, I let Lucy outside and she hangs out in the backyard for up to an hour, watching birds, sniffing the yard, chewing on pine cones and what-not. She does her business when she feels like doing it. Now I get to hang out in the back yard until she feels like doing her business. And you just never know when that will happen. I’m juggling getting ready for work with multiple trips down the deck steps with a fifty pound dog in my arms for fear of her having an accident in the house.

Lucy showing Jake some love

This is a lot to ask of a young, energetic dog, and we’re doing our best to make this less difficult for her. But we’ve quickly come to see that what we’ve gotten ourselves into is no small undertaking. When we went to work yesterday, we closed Lucy into the lower level so she could lay in the family room. She likes it there. We closed all the doors to other rooms and blocked the stairs. We put laundry baskets on all the furniture so she couldn’t jump on or off it. We put her doggy bed and some blankets on the floor for her. We thought this worked pretty well and she did fine while we were away.

Mark stopped in at the vet’s office yesterday afternoon. I’m not sure why because I didn’t bother to ask once I’d heard all he had to tell me. He said he told our vet how things had gone the first few days and what we were doing. When she heard how we had confined Lucy while we went to work, she scolded Mark. She said Lucy should not be allowed that much room (one carpeted room and a small carpeted hallway) to roam while we are away and that she should be locked in her kennel. She should be locked in her kennel all day.And at night, she should also be locked in her kennel. That’s a lot of kennel time for a one year-old dog. And the 40-foot cable we hooked up to Lucy’s collar so she could be in the front yard with us? Also a no-no. No cables. She can only be outside if kept on a short leash. For three whole months.

I know this is all in the best interest of my dog, so that she can heal properly and get better. But I’m frustrated and upset. We talked to two vets before agreeing to this surgery. I specifically asked questions about the level of care required after surgery. I specifically stated that I had concerns about leaving her alone at home while we were at work all day and that we didn’t have the luxury of taking time off. I specifically asked what would be required of us afterwards. And do you know how our vet responded to those concerns? She said there would be some physical therapy requirements and that we could just do the exercises with Lucy when we got home from work. That was the extent of the conversation.

After Lucy had her surgery, we were given the extensive list of dos and don’ts. It is definitely not as simple as doing a few exercises after we get home from work. At times, there are as many as three different exercises a day and many of the exercises must be continued for weeks at a time. Again, I love my dog, and there’s no question that we’ll work her medical needs into our daily routines. I just don’t understand why I wasn’t provided this list in answer to my questions in the first place. Yes, I know I should have done more research on my own. I should have taken it upon myself to make sure I was more informed. But our vet played it off as no big deal. She’s been the vet to our pets forever and I trusted her. Now I feel as if our concerns were addressed in such a way as to steer us toward making the decision the vet wanted us to make. And I’m frustrated about that.

Actually, I wasn’t just frustrated. I was mad. Mark and I got into it over this. He said I was overreacting and I know I sort of am. I love my dog and I want her to be better. I just wish I had been more informed before we made our decision. Right now all I can see is my poor dog who is slightly depressed because I’m sure she thinks she’s being punished. No running. No chasing. No playing in her new pool. No more sleeping on whichever bed she chooses with whichever family member she feels like cuddling with. And just when she can start running and playing again? Just when I can start taking her out for walks again? We’re supposed to get the other hip done and start all over again. It will be December before we’re done with all of this.

I know, I know. In the big picture, what’s six months if it means my dog will be healthier and happier?

I was spouting off my mouth yesterday in frustration. I told Mark I was really unhappy with our vet and really didn’t want to go to the follow-up appointments, so he better plan on doing that. He told me not to be like that. He told me it would all be okay. I said no it wouldn’t. I know I was being unreasonable. When I get like this I need time to stew about it before I can face reality and move forward like a rational person.  But I didn’t feel like being rational last night. Lucy and I slept on a pile of blankets on the family room floor last night. (Yes, with all furniture and stairs and other rooms blocked off.) She never moved from my side, so I don’t feel too bad about breaking the kennel-at-night rule. I woke up feeling pretty stiff. I love ya, Lucy, but don’t be expecting anymore doggy slumber parties with me!

“No more slumber parties?”

I wanted Mark to understand my frustration. I didn’t want to be reminded that I was being dramatic, which I clearly was when I opened the patio door to hand him something for the grill and he tried to comfort me again, saying,  “It’ll all be okay,” and I said again, “NO it WON’T,” and slammed the door shut before he could say anything more. (God knows why that man puts up with me sometimes.)

Lucy and I slept on it. We feel a little better today. At least one of us knows that as much as I want to make sure she’s happy, right now it’s more important to focus on her health, even if she doesn’t understand why we’ve taken all her fun away.

And will I let her have the second surgery? Probably. I’m still not real happy with our vet though. But I’ll get over it.

23 thoughts on “Only Days after the Dog’s Surgery…

  1. I don’t know why the medical field and the veterinary field in specific has such a hard time being straight with people. I don’t think you’re overreacting at all. This is a huge time commitment. My daughter (the one in Manila) had a similar bad experience with a vet and their German Shepard (then) puppy who broke a leg. They told her everything was fine until guess what it wasn’t and they ended up having to amputate one of the rear legs! My son-in-law was ready to go postal with the original vet.

    You would think people could just be honest and tell you what to really expect.


    • That must have been a terrible experience for your daughter and her family!

      My vet has always been wonderful and up front with us. I think that’s why I’m so frustrated with this experience. For whatever reason, it felt like she wasn’t thorough with us like she usually is.


  2. I would be frustrated too.. With any surgery, no matter how minor or major, you want to know everything that’s going to happen. Especially when you specifically asked your vet about aftercare, your vet should have given you more details on Lucy’s limitations for more than 6 months. I’m with you that I wouldn’t want my young pet to be confined 2/3 of the day.


  3. There’s no more hopeless feeling that knowing we’re the reason they hurt and then finding out it’s not just a temporary thing but a lifestyle re-alignment. Maybe you get through this and take a breather before the next round … I don’t think it’s unreasonable to voice your frustrations on the lack of information to your Vet and his staff. My brother is a Vet and he’d tell you that if they can’t/don’t want to hear it, to get a new Vet.

    Lucy will be OK because you’ll make sure of it; if I lived nearby I’d happily help out!

    Hugs to you and fuzzy kid


    • You’re right, MJ. So much of my turmoil lies in the fact that we did this to her. But I’ve had a day or so to stew about it and I’m feeling more ready to face things.

      Taking a breather isn’t an option though. We were told there was a small window of time to get this all done, so the second surgery has to be done pretty quickly.

      If it were possible, I’m sure Lucy would love to have your help during her recovery. You’re sweet! :-)


  4. I understand your frustration! That IS a lot of limitation for such a young, energetic dog, and getting clear on it after the fact is just wrong. It’s practically a full-time job, and you’re right. Lucy is likely to be confused, thinking she’s being punished.

    I wish I could give you some help!


    • Well it’s good to be able to vent. Blogs are great for that, aren’t they?

      Lesson learned, and we’re knee deep in it now, so we’ll figure out how to make it all work. And knowing what I do now, I’m not sure I’d do things differently given the chance to do it again.

      Thanks for wishing you could help. Lucy sends you a big, slobbery thank-you doggie kiss! :-)


  5. I understand your frustrations, your vet should’ve told you EVERYTHING. You aren’t giving Lucy enough credit. She knows something is different but she doesn’t think she is being punished. She knows there is something different with her body and her life right now. All she wants from you is love, approval and of course treats. As long as you give her that, you and she will be fine


  6. I’m like you. If I know what to expect, I can deal with it. But if something gets thrown at me after the fact, or sometimes right before the fact, I get upset too! And to think she may have purposely withheld all the info…. very aggravating indeed.
    Keep in mind that you have a mother’s instinct, and if you think Lucy is doing okay in her little padded space that she has while you’re gone, I would continue to do that. ‘Course I’m the patient who doesn’t change her contacts every 4 weeks like I’m supposed to either – even though I get scolded each time I go to the eye doc. So maybe it’s best NOT to listen to me…. I do think docs are a little more strict than they need to be to cover their own butts, though. It’s still going to be a rough 6 months, but go with your gut on some of this stuff.
    Got my fingers crossed for you that everything works out for the best!


  7. If I were you, I’d be pissed, Terri. I’m not suggesting this is necessarily the case with your vet, but I wonder how often some vets encourage treatment that isn’t entirely necessary as a way to make money. It happens all the time with surgery on people. Why would it not happen with dogs? I wondered when you mentioned Lucy needing surgery in the first place, as our dog Ralph has laid the way Lucy did for years, and our vet–who has been FABULOUS for well over a decade–has never recommended surgery. I trust my vets integrity as I had a cat who was very ill for several years, and this vet often refused to charge me, as he said it was all getting too expensive.

    Please let me be clear. I don’t mean to suggest your vet lacks integrity, but I wonder about the medical community in general and if vets sometimes do the same thing. I find it suspect that you asked so many questions and were not given straight answers. This is troubling. And I don’t think you are over-reacting.

    Honestly, your vet may be amazing. He or she may have accidentally misinformed you. But even if that is the case, you still have cause to be pissed.

    Sorry to be so long-winded. Lucy will be fine. She’s young. You should do what you can and trust the canine gods she will heal well–as I believe she will.



  8. I was quite shocked to see that Lucy had been operated on.

    Custard has really bad dyspacia, but he is now 6 and a half and is doing well with no operation. Our vet talked us through it all and there was no mention of operations while he was young – they were things that might happen in the future. Custard has 2 steady 40-60 minute walks a day to keep his muscle tone good – no chasing balls or games that might injure his hips. This is not difficult with Custard as he is a steady plodder anyway – Lucy Pie might not take to that sort of life.

    To be honest, I think you are right be be mad at the vet – he clearly did not give you all of the options and then did not prepare you properly for what was to come!


  9. Wow. That really sucks for both you and poor Lucy. We’ve done two dogs through heartworm treatment (2 monts) but nothing to the extremes like you have. I think you should be pissed off at your vet. Not for the level of care, but for not giving you all of the details. Still, you have every right to be irritated but I know you are more worried for Lucy and want her to get well. I still think it is amazeballs (to quote Mel) for how well you’ve taken care of her. 3 months seems like eternity, but like the Minnesota winter, it will be here soon enough. In the meanwhile, give Lucy a hug for me.


  10. Okay, I didn’t read the other comments so pardon me if I repeat anything anyone said. I just feel a huge pull to comment on this one. First of all, you must know, Terri, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your reaction. Men just don’t react the same as women. Not better, not worse, just different. My husband would’ve done the same exact thing as Mark, and I would’ve done the same exact thing you are doing. Don’t beat yourself up for having emotions. They are human, and dare I say, female. Men just want to make it better by saying “it’ll be ok.” Yeah, months from now, but it’s going to be a tough six months. It’s okay to brood for a bit. It’s not easy what you are all going through. Like you said, you’ll get over it. For now, you have a right to be angry, it’ll pass.

    We’ve been in a similar situation. My heart dog, who died (anniversary this Saturday) in ’09, broke his leg when he was a puppy. He needed emergency surgery to place a pin in it for repair. He too, needed very little movement. Try stopping a 5 month old Australian Shepherd from moving. It wasn’t always possible, and his leg healed up fine, even after a few moments where he got too rambunctious. Do what you can and leave the rest to faith.

    Sending a hug for both you and Lucy.


  11. Well, I guess at the end of the day, you didn’t really have any choice but to have the surgery, and you don’t have any choice but to have the other hip done too, but it sure woulda been nice if the Vet had fully and properly informed you of what to expect, in advance…

    I don’t think there’d be anything in the world wrong with telling her of your displeasure, either. Obviously, it won’t change anything, but it might make you feel better to let her know (nicely, of course) and it might remind her to be more forthcoming for other people in the future.

    You’re right though, Lucy’s health is the important thing, and a year or so from now you’ll look back on this and be glad you did it.


  12. It’s nice to hear the surgery went well and there is no doubt that the dog is in good hands. Best wishes for a long, healthy life enjoying your precious pet.


  13. Aw, Terri, my heart goes out to ALL of you on this one! The rational side of you knows all this is for Lucy’s good, her health, her comfort. But the emotional side is still saying, “Why Lucy? Why us?” Maybe it will be easier to understand if you accept that God in His Wisdom knows what’s best for all around, and there’s nothing you and He can’t accomplish…together. That said, your vet really should have laid out this procedure and its aftermath more fully. I’d be angry about that, too! Hang in there and remember Lucy needs you!


  14. Awww, poor Lucy! And poor you! I feel the same way that you do; she’s fine and should be able to be in a room without any trouble. Kenneling her all day and night seems unreasonable to me. And then go through it again in 3 months? Dogs don’t know better. She’s going to be miserable. Ugh.


  15. I’m with you Terri. Perhaps you can find a tactful way to mention it to the vet? She may not realize what happened; maybe to her it is relatively nothing compared to other types of post-operative followup.


  16. Of course it would have been nice to know the extent of the post surgery confinement, but would that have given you reason to decline surgery for Lucy? You love Lucy and she fits into your family so well. Lucy probably isn’t depressed as you think she is. She is healing. She is probably sensing your anxiety. Be happy you could afford to pay for the surgery and be super duper glad you have Lucy in your life. Oh, and Mark too!


  17. Holy crap. I think you should get a 2nd opinion on keeping Lucy locked up in a tiny kennel all day and night.

    I love that you slept with her on the living room floor. I would have done the same thing. Sorry you woke up so sore, though.


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