I believe that Lucy’s initial injury occurred when she was about a year old when she stepped in a deep hole at a dog park while tearing around. She is pretty tough and did not seem disabled at first, but gradually showed symptoms of a CCL tear. The last 6-8 months, she barely used her left leg.
This decision—how to deal with this injury—is very difficult. The expense, lack of many alternatives, suffering of the dog, finding a vet you trust, and anticipation of the effort and possible failure. I prayed about it a lot…I applaud and encourage all of you who are going through this, trying to do the best for your dog.
A common thread I discovered when reading the many online accounts was this: more often than not people who report great results refer to their dog’s surgeon by name and mention his/her experience, as opposed to just saying “my vet…” I think its very important to find the most competent and experienced surgeon you can.
I wanted Dr. Charles Pullen in Scottsdale to do Lucy’s surgery and thought a tightrope would be the best I could afford. After a discussion with my regular vet, I then thought that a traditional lateral suture repair would be fine. But I wound up back at Animal Surgical Center in Scottsdale. I figured that if I was going to spend the money and effort to repair her knee, I would trust her to a surgeon who has done many hundreds of them.
If cost is a big issue, I’d encourage anyone contemplating a procedure to discuss this very candidly with the vet. Many of them understand this dilemma and may be able to discount or work with you to help you out.
Lucy had a TTA on May 30. Dr. Pullen felt this was the best for her…60 pounds of high-drive dog. Dr. Pullen, his staff and facility are beyond top-notch—extraordinary attention to detail The surgery went very well and 2 weeks post surgery, Lucy is making wonderful progress. He removed torn cartilage and adjusted the angle of her tibia with regard to the patellar tendon. Amazing stuff. He rated her weight bearing of the repaired leg at 80% one week post op.
The biggest obstacles: those first days post-op. Waiting to get the bandage off. Getting her to poop (yeah, we needed an enema, but it wasn’t a big deal). Keeping her off those stitches. Oh, and finding ways to get a dog to take medicine.
Follow the doctor’s orders. I’m fortunate, as a teacher, to have time at home this summer to babysit her. I can’t imagine not having had someone with her most all the time for at least the first 10 days.
You MUST keep the dog on a leash at all times outdoors. I opened the door so she, in a narcotized state, could go out to pee. She spotted a cat on our wall—the narcotics wore off in 1/2 second! If I hadn’t had her tight on a leash, it could have been really bad. I shudder…and thank God I had that leash on her!
I am fortunate…Lucy is very driven to please and has been extremely cooperative. In that vein, I’d STRONGLY encourage anyone contemplating surgery to reinforce obedience and crate training. The more responsive your dog is to you, the better.