Some of you know that our 4 year old lab, Annie, has had some joint problems in the past. Right before we went to California for Christmas we took her to our vet for x-rays and advice. She had to stay there all day and I wasn’t totally excited about that, but when Josh and I went to pick her up that night and look at the x-rays, I really wasn’t excited about what I saw or heard. According to the vet and the x-rays, she had osteophytes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteophyte) in both stifles, one torn CCL (doggy equivalent of human ACL) (http://www.ovra.com/home/ovr/page_179/cranial_cruciate_injury_in_the_dog.html), and possibly hip dysplasia in her left hip. FANtastic. At least we had an idea right? The vet referred us to OVRA (http://www.ovra.com/home/ovr/cpage_7/home.html), a veterinary surgery clinic in Springfield. We grabbed a copy of the x-rays and made an appointment in Springfield for the first week in January.
When we went to meet Dr. Olmstead we took both girls, to show them what we have to deal with and get advice as to what to do (if anything) with Oakleigh while Annie is recovering from her one surgery. OR so we thought – ONE surgery. Dr. Olmstead looked at the x-rays, got down on the ground with Annie and moved her through a range of motions to get a feel for what was happening and then dropped it on us – BOTH knees, but her hips were fine. Have you ever had to sigh in relief while your stomach is dropping out of you? That is what it felt like. Our four-year old lab didn’t have hip dysplasia! YEAH! But, she had to have both knees worked on. Ooof! That was the beginning of it. The surgeries and recovery period were 8 weeks apiece with a 4 week final recovery period at the end of the 16 weeks for a total of 20 weeks. 5 months! She was supposed to have her movement extremely restricted (read, shouldn’t even go outside to potty without being on a leash) and she was not allowed to go up/down the stairs more than once a day. Oakleigh had to go somewhere else – she was too active and got Annie too excited and riled up. And, they had a spot open the next day and they could do her left knee then, with us picking her up the day after. This was Tuesday, surgery was Wednesday, she came home Thursday.
So, we were hit with: surgery on two stifles (doggy equivalent of human knee), an active dog extremely restricted for 5 months, one dog having to leave for 5 months, and they offered to keep her overnight that night if we didn’t want to make the drive the next day. “Ok, your kid has to have major surgery tomorrow, you just found out and you can leave her here if you’re too cheap to take her home and bring her back the next day.” Yeah, I know they were just giving us all our options and people come from all over the state and US to this clinic, but there was NO WAY I was leaving her overnight just so I didn’t have to drive her down the next day. Oh yeah, we had to deposit half the amount of the surgery when we dropped her off and pay the rest of the bill when we picked her up. At least they gave us a quote that they wouldn’t go over ahead of time.
Off home we went, making calls all the way. The first was to Liz – we needed to ask her to take Oakleigh for longer than we originally thought (6-8 weeks) and take care of her for 20 weeks starting the next night. Surprise! I think she was more surprised when Josh mentioned the two surgeries rather than the one we thought. She was good enough to welcome Oak up and even volunteered Rick for Frisbee duty (I think Rick gets just as much out of it as Oak does). The next calls were to our bosses – we needed to come in late Wednesday too so we could take her down and drop her off. Everyone was sympathetic and it all worked out so that we got a last night (for a long time) with Oak and could snuggle Annie a little before we sent her off to the vet.