Tightrope Surgery Recovery – Charlie the GSP

Charlie, our 83lb German Shorthaired Pointer, age 7, had tightrope surgery on his back right leg on Wednesday, January 25. 2011.

Initially he started shaking on his right back leg when standing, our Vet shook his head and said he could not say what was wrong. 6 months later the leg had progressed from shaking to being held off the ground at all times, and 3 Vets later we finally got a diagnosis of a cruciate ligament break requiring surgery. The surgery was performed 2 days later. The Surgeon recommended the Tightrope method as it was less invasive, has a good recovery time and Charlie is a large dog.

After an overnight stay at the clinic, we brought him home noon the next day, with a bright green stocking right up to his poor shaved bum! We were given antibiotics to be given twice a day, and a painkiller, once a day.

He cried all night and my husband slept with him on the cot mattress we had laid out for him in living room floor. Next morning he had no trouble peeing and pooing and had no problem eating. Very restless all day, wanted to walk and run when out on the leash to do his business.

Friday and Saturday more restless nights and days – how do you keep a good dog down….he was walking around going to the door to get out and walking over to the water bowl. He is not putting any weight on his operated leg, and I am trying to get him to lay down as much as possible to protect both legs. We have the largest size Vari Kennel but even that does not give him much room and he positively refuses to enter it. He wants to walk about and go to the window. etc. He does not appear to be putting any weight on his operated leg, but does touch it to the ground, and I am worried about his good back leg.

We are surprised how good our other dog, Penny, has been. She is a 4 year old GSP and very active. When Charlie first came home she gave him a lick on the cheek and a muzzle nuzzle, and has left him alone ever since.

How are we going to keep him quiet for the next 9 weeks??

He visits the Vet next Wednesday for a check of the wound and re-bandage.

Will let you know how we are all surviving!!!

2 Week Post Op Tightrope Update\

Charlie had his stitches removed on day 14 (yesterday). Unfortunately, the bandage cause his foot to swell hugely, and so we had it re-bandaged on day 7. He had it re-bandaged again on day 10, but the swelling continued.. I eventually cut the bandage at the foot to allow a bit of relief.

He is very active it is difficult to keep him quiet. especially when someone comes to the door, or a dog or cat wanders past. The first week after surgery he was moving with his operated foot touching, just touching, the floor, now he does not let it touch the floor at all, he is back to hopping on 3 legs. We will wait and see how he progresses. In the meantime he is restricted to the house and is leash walked outside for his business, and back. I am pleased to say he is a much happier dog. All he wants to do is get out and run, run, run!

3.5 Week Post Op Tightrope Update

Charlie is now 3 and 1/2 weeks after tightrope surgery. He puts his foot down very seldom, and when he does it shakes and shakes – same as when I first noticed he had a problem. Vet gave him an Cartophen injection to help build cartilage, he has to have another Cartophen injection in 4 weeks, some more happy pills, and assured us it just takes time. We are gently stretching his leg (12 x 2) 3 times a day and have been given permission to take him for short walks 3 times a day on a short leash, no running or jumping . But he is ready to run, run run, but he is hop, hop, hopping, I am so worried what that is doing to his other leg…. he pulls on his leash and when we take him outside for business, he really wants the freedom to run with Penny, our other GSP, and sniff all his boundaries once again!

To all who are facing the same recovery, it is so wonderful to hear from you and to realize everyone is anxious for their dog and hoping all will turn out well. Keep in touch please, it is very encouraging and useful to hear from you all. One day we will be romping in the park, all of us!!

13 thoughts on “Tightrope Surgery Recovery – Charlie the GSP

  1. Hi, My pup just had the tightrope yesterday and I pick him up today. I am really worried I will miss something important during his recovery. If you are interested in sharing more of your experiance please email me direct. Thanks very much and hope your guys is doing well.

  2. Thanks for your posting. Our 5 year old GSP had Tightrope surgery last Monday 3/21. He was just starting to touch his leg down on Thursday when his stupid Elizabethan Collar tripped him up and he fell on his bad leg. Poor dog was in a lot of pain! Since that time he refuses to let the leg down. Will be checking with the doctor tomorrow.

    Hope Charlie is doing well and if you are interested in contacting me I would love to hear an update.

    1. Hi I was wondering how your dog is doing now? I have a lab who the TTA surgery was recomended but i think i have decided to go with the less invasive tightrope after i try 4 weeks of conservative management with the A Track knee brace. If i don’t see an improvement we will move forward with the surgery. just trying to gain as much info as possible.

      1. The knee is looking great and the doc says it is healing well. Good ROM and no pain, but he pulled his Iliopsoas when he fell. He is not using the leg yet due to the muscle injury. We will be going to see a physical therapist soon.

        looks like we are set back a few weeks.

  3. Hi Coco my Shepherd/Rotti cross had her surgery nearly 6 weeks ago. it has been so stressful, as she is not a quiet dog and has had to be kept in a cage the whole time to stop her charging around. She is now walking quite well, but if we overdo the walks, she starts limping again. She can stand on her bad leg, but chooses not to most of the time, even lying down to eat her dinner. From reading pretty much everything I can get my hands on concerning this, I think it is all pretty normal and she is doing OK. She goes back for a check up and X rays next week, and hopefully we will know that it has all worked well. Good luck everyone.

  4. Hi,
    Hope Charlie is recovering well. I have a 10 yr old GSP named Hahns, he was diagnosed yesterday. The recommendation by the vet was the traditional surgery of using “fishing line” to mimic the missing tendon. I was wondering why you picked tightrope surgery?
    Any comments or advise would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi everyone,
      I just wanted to share some great news about the tightrope procedure. My 9 year old black lab mix Franny had the surgery back in February 2010. I just wanted to share how fabulous she is doing. She runs around like crazy and is almost as good as new. We chose the surgery because it was less invasive and geared for active dogs. We are very pleased with the results. We had no complications and the surgeon, Jack Henry, in Northridge, CA was fabulous. I just wanted to share because I remember how nervous we were when we were looking into the procedure.

  5. Hi everyone,

    I have a German Shepherd Dog that had tightrope surgery in January ’09 and recovered quickly. She had to have a follow-up procedure to repair her meniscal tendon but is doing great. She just turned eight years old and can still run five to six miles with me. Only limitation I can see is her jumping ability. Just not as explosive but still no problem getting into the back of my SUV. It was very difficult keeping her quiet during her recovery but please listen to the doctors and limit your dog, especially during the first four weeks.

  6. Our 7 year-old GSP had tighrope surgery about 18 months ago. Although recovery was long and slow, she is now able to run and hunt beautifully. We could not be more pleased. There were a few times that she came back from hunting with a limp which was a concern, but after a few days rest she has regained her active life. I would highly recommend this surgery.

    1. Thank you so much for posting positive experiences. I’m concluding that I think most people with the bad experiences are the ones that post on the internet. Quite disheartening! My dog- a five year old, 75 pound labrador, just had the tightrope surgery 2 and a half weeks ago! She is doing alright…but it is a little trying for each of us.

      Thank you.

  7. Angela,

    Hang in there! I remember when my dog, Franny, had the surgery, we lowered our bed to the floor as she was used to sleeping on our bed. We kept her on a leash when she needed to go outside to the bathroom. Other than that, she was stuck inside with little movement. She was very out of it due to the meds and it was very trying. Two more weeks and you will see a huge change for the better!! Franny is still running like crazy after having the surgery 3 years ago. She just turned 11. It is well worth it, you will see!!

    Patti 🙂

  8. My 4 year old female lab had the tightrope surgery March 27th 2014. She is walking good, limps sometimes but she doesn’t put her foot all the way down when she stands. She is still confined to a small area when we are gone and only goes out on a leash. I was just wondering how long it took for your dog to put its foot all the way down and put weight on it.

  9. My Beagle has had two tight rope procedures on his right rear leg and one on his left rear leg.. All within the last two years. His legs always quivers when he stands and still limps… I can’t say if its the Vet’s fault or its just not a good procedure…….It breaks my heart to put him through this. I elected the tight rope because it was less invasive…. If he was to loose one of his legs I would have to let him go because he is over weight and would never survive on three legs….. I can honestly say I am not happy with the procedures and worry that one of his joints will give out beyond repair. He is a thyroid dog and on medication and watching his diet he has always been active with lots of walks in the woods and never seems to loose significant weight.. He is almost 8 years old now and am going to keep him leased from now on… I wish I had an answer for you….

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