As many of you may remember, in the Fall of 2017, Fiona hurt her knee and surgery was recommended. The catch was that she was only 7 months old and the surgery would have to wait for her growth plates to close. So we spent four months in rehab, doing exercises to maintain her muscle mass and waiting. And poor Fiona was not allowed to run or play. Miraculously, by the time the growth plates had closed Fiona’s knee had healed! Surgery was not necessary, though there was some concern that her knee might not have healed in the right position and she might be susceptible to future injury.
Fiona had ten glorious months of running and playing and being her enthusiastic self. But the day after Christmas, after running as fast as she could in an icy field, she started limping. Initially we hoped it was something minor so we rested her and only allowed short leash walks for a few weeks. But despite the fact that she stopped limping and didn’t seem to be in any pain, when my Vet examined her knee, she found it to still be very unstable. She suspected an ACL tear. We visited two surgeons and they both agreed. A partial tear, leaving the knee unstable. As long as we kept her on a leash the knee would seem ok, but the bones were sliding around and with regular activity she would reinjure it and eventually she would tear it completely. And in the meantime she could damage her good knee.. The best thing would be to have surgery to repair the knee. Not the news we were hoping to hear.
The type of surgery recommended is a TPLO and involves cutting and repositioning the bones in the knee. They put in a plate to hold them in place and the ACL ligament is no longer stressed. Cutting bone to fix a ligament seems like a lot to me but having done a lot of research on this surgery and seeing many videos of dogs running and playing after, I am convinced that for a young and very active dog like Fiona, this would be the best option. Also there seems to be less arthritis after this surgery than the more traditional surgery. And again, given how young she is, that would be good. In addition, my Vet, who also does rehab and has worked with many dogs after this surgery says that they can weight bear and use the leg sooner and so lose less muscle and the rehab is actually quicker.
So surgery is scheduled for March 11. She will need to be in a crate as much as possible for the first six weeks, until the bones heal. And she will not be allowed on any furniture. She will miss her couch! So we have been trying to create an environment that will be easy for her. First, we put back the gate we had last winter to keep her from going down the step to the porch/sunroom.
She loves to sit on the back of the couch out there and look out the windows.
Not a good idea post surgery.
And since she won’t be allowed on furniture, including beds, we decided to make that easy as well. We have a platform bed with two futons. We put the bed in the cellar and put one of the futons on the floor in the bedroom.
That way, she could be on the bed…at least some of the time. It would be a break from the crate and with the door closed, she would be contained in the room.
The other futon went on the floor in the room with her crate.
She will be able to go from her crate to the bed easily. Her knee will need icing, massage and range of motion exercises at first and the bed might be a better place for that than the crate.
She will need to wear a cone for two weeks after the surgery until the stitches come out. And the cone in the crate seems a bit much, so we got her an inflatable “donut” to see if that would prevent her from licking her leg.
It is not her favorite thing but if you look closely at the picture you will see a brown smear on her leg. That is peanut butter and she couldn’t lick it off. So perhaps this will work.
We also got her a sling to help her get up and down the two steps into our house.
It is hanging on the back of the door in the room with her crate..with the donut.
In addition, our neighbors had an extra crate that their dog has outgrown and it is the right size for Fiona. They are letting us borrow it so we can have another crate for her near the kitchen.
Fiona will be able to be nearby to help with any meal preparation. She loves to help me cook! This crate is also closer to the door to the outside and that might be helpful in the first few days..
So I think we are ready. It will be a challenging few months but hopefully at the end of it, Fiona will be able to run and play again and all will be well.
Merlin, at least, isn’t worried.