Saturday, September 16, 2006

Off to See the Orthopedic Doctor

I was able to take some time away from work for our big trip to see the Orthopod. We stopped off at the local vet to pick up Snickers x-rays for the Orthopod to review. By now, Snickers loves going for rides. In the car we go. It's raining and Snickers is a little silly about getting her feet wet. Good thing she has a giant human under her control that is willing to pick her up and put her in the car.
Snickers and I arrive at the Canine Surgical Center and register at the desk. There is big poodle there. Snickers tells him he looks good, but this is my human and you can't have her. Then she wags her tail and goes back to making friends with the veterinary techs. Snickers gets weighed and has her temperature taken. This time it is normal. We are put in a room to wait for the doctor. The x-rays are taken from us so the doctor can see them before he comes to see us.
While we are waiting, we hear another animal being brought in for treatment. It is an emergency, an accident, and Snickers feel nervous from the sounds of excitement and the cries of the hurt animal.
Some time passes and an aide comes in to apologize for the delay. No apologies necessary, I say. I think that if my animal were hurt, I would want others to understand if they were delayed. Finally we hear the doctor outside the room and the snap of the x-ray film as it is mounted on the light. I here the words, "puppy mill dog" and fear for the worst.
The doctor enters the room and mounts the film on the light in the room. He examines Snickers leg and then goes to the film. Snickers has a Grade 4 Patellar Luxation. It is as bad as it gets. This would be a very difficult repair to attempt, requiring cutting and plating the bones, rebuilding the knee joint, including filing spaces for the tendons, ligaments, and knee cap. Muscles may need to be shortened or lengthened.... But the doctor won't really know unless he cuts the dog open to see what is there. If we do this surgery, it would require at least six months of physical therapy and may not be successful. Then the dog may lose the leg, and could become mean.
Another option is to treat with pain pills until the leg is too painful and arthritic, then try surgery. Fusing the joint would not be an option, because dogs find a stiff leg more of a hindrance than a help. Amputation is an option. It would be a two week recovery, the dog would go on with her life and she still has three good legs. Or we could do nothing and Snickers would have to live with the pain. I'm sure that a final option would have been to put her down, but that wasn't an option for us.
The surgeon explained that regardless of the option we chose, this was not the dog to go on long hikes. This was not the dog that would endlessly play. This was not the dog to roughhouse with. I thought to myself, he doesn't know Snickers.
We went home with this disappointing news knowing that we had some thinking to do.


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