Delivering Rose to the vet clinic was difficult, but I could see her through the window after leaving and she looked ok. In fact leaving her there turned out to be a relief. It was a release to be out of limbo land and set for the course after a traumatic couple of days with all options open and trying to pick the best option for Rose.
We dropped Rose off just before midday so I lunched that day with my parents before going home. I had early on stated that cost was not part of the decision making process, so we had an unspoken agreement to not discuss it further. My parents love animals but have no pets and are not ‘animal people’ like I am and have always (to my and my brother’s benefit) been careful and cautious with money. They would be horrified if they knew the cost so I have not told them. For me, perhaps controversially to some, it has been interesting and illuminating to see how money became just a concept. While I was initially taken aback upon receiving the quote, within heartbeats the thought process became, if this is best for Rose, do I have the right numbers? That was it, just numbers.
Once home I waited as patiently as possible to hear from the vet about how the surgery had gone. My partner returned from work at around 4pm and still no word. I knew they would be busy and that no news was probably good news, but by 4:30 pm I cracked and called up. She was in surgery! I imagined my beautiful dog in surgery at that moment and thought that the surgeon must have done quite a few operations and been quite tired by then. So very seriously, I tried to send energy and calmness their way, but really there is nothing you can do but trust in the wonderful vets and nurses. Later the vet called. She had survived!!! The surgery had gone well. She was recovering well. I cried and really in that moment I could have given the surgeon all of my belongings in gratitude.
As Rose was at the clinic recovering I was able to go to work for a couple of days before taking leave again. Everyone at work was very kind and concerned and I was holding it together when people asked me about it. But then I received a call from the vet. Rose had been taken out of her cage and had promptly hopped a few steps and gone to the toilet! She was able to get about on three legs!? Already!?! You little trooper! Such a relief. And, this was getting boring, I promptly broke out in tears of happiness. What a way to quickly bond with new work mates…
We picked up Rosy early, after two days, because she was not accepting food and the vet thought she was the kind of dog who just wanted to be at home. I won’t lie. It was a shock to see her and I did think, oh my goodness what have I done. I was prepared to be shocked, having read other people’s accounts, but seeing your own sweetheart bruised and swollen and of course, without a leg was confronting. She was simply just happy to see us and stoically tried to head for the door. She was hopping, but the vet floor was slippery and it was obvious that she was extremely tired, being only two days out of major surgery and 15 and a half years old at that, and so we carried her to the car and installed her carefully on a big soft dog bed in the back seat. I sat next to her and cuddled her during the drive home, trying to match her level of stoicism. As soon as we got her home our spirits lifted. I fed her roasted chicken, and the vet was right, she had no problem eating now she was home and gobbled down everything we gave her.
The photos above show Rosy three and four days after surgery
All of this happened three weeks ago. It has been really good to write it down here. Thank you so much for your comments and support on the previous post. It’s a great feeling to connect with like-minded persons and it helps me to continue to feel positive while Rosy is going through the next difficult phase, which is chemotherapy treatment and perhaps topic for a future post..
Just a quick note on some details of Rosy’s post-surgery recovery. Being an older dog, we are more than pleased at her recovery rate. She initially spent a lot of time resting, and would get herself up and turn around regularly to lay on different sides. I helped her to turn around if she needed and for the first week carried her to and from the garden where she could take herself to the toilet. She still sometimes struggles to get into a comfortable sleeping position and so I help her by supporting her as she lies and then gently re-arranging her back legs and tail to one side as taught by the physio.
For Rose I found it was helpful to take her to physio for a number of sessions. She absolutely loved the massage and stretching part of the therapy and we learnt a lot of gentle exercises to help her use the right muscles when sitting and standing from a sit, find her balance and strengthen her core. We have also covered the house entirely in rugs because she was slipping around on the the wooden floors.
She is now hopping about as she likes and is back to her quiet routine of following me about the house and waiting at the back door to be let out to go to the toilet and have a potter in the garden. I was so scared that she would not be able to hop, but they are so resilient and practical. She is slowly building her stamina and will hop a distance, stop to rest and then carrying on hopping. She’s had a few short bounces when excited by the other dogs and has even attempted to tackle my other dog Tonka. It is quite hot here in Australia at the moment (37 degrees celcius yesterday and today) which is affecting all of the dogs’ energy levels. The chemotherapy has also affected her stamina and appetite at various stages, so it’s not a steady improvement.
Well that is all from me for now! I hope this might help someone else considering this for their older dog. Rosy was doing well for her age but due to the cancer she would be dead by now without amputation, and instead she is happily back to pottering about. While I have written this she has come to check on me a few times, laid at my feet for a while and now is currently ensconsed on the couch with my partner as he watches television and she is comfortable as can be.