pupdate: good news for squirrels

My poor little Bo! Earlier this week, Tala wasn't able to put any weight on her right hind leg. I suspected a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament, i.e., main knee ligament). It's a not-uncommon injury in larger dogs, something we went through with our first dog, Gypsy. We gave it a day or two to see if it would clear up on its own, then off to the vet for an exam and x-rays. The exam was super painful for her, it required healthy doses of painkillers and sedation. The vet also suspected an ACL injury, or possibly a broken bone.

The prognosis is a mixed bag. There's no fracture and the ACL doesn't appear to be completely blown. That should be good news but in a way is not. If the ligament is torn in one acute injury, it hurts like hell at first, then the pain subsides. The dog can't use the leg at all, it just kind of hangs there, and surgery is required. With a small or partial tear, the dog continues to use the leg, so the tear is constantly irritated. The tear worsens, and it hurts like hell. Tala seems to have a partial tear, based on what they can tell so far.

The vet says that with total exercise restriction, sometimes enough scar tissue can form to stabilize the joint and avoid major surgery. I am highly skeptical. I suspect we will soon need an orthopedist, and she'll end up having surgery. But I know that's not something to be rushed into, so we're following the vet's first suggestion: painkillers plus total exercise restriction.

Total exercise restriction?! Ouch. Tala is only allowed out on the leash for very short walks: no backyard play, no dog park, no squirrel-chasing. It won't be easy.

But right now, the pain is not under control. Tala and I were up most of the night together. For me, there is nothing worse than seeing one of my animals suffer. It is practically unbearable... which is why part of me is ready to rush into surgery, to try to fix the situation as soon as possible. But Allan and I keep talking about it, which helps me stay on a more rational track. It's not like surgery is an instant cure, anyway. There's a good six months of post-op healing time.

As I said on Facebook, the universe is playing its usual game with me. I have a second job, some money coming in... therefore we must have huge vet bills. It's the law: All Extra Money Must Go To A Veterinarian. There's no question that she's worth it. We don't "decide" on treatment, it's our responsibility. But for goddess' sake, could we possibly catch up with our bills or get ahead? (No!)

Last night, we didn't want Tala to feel left out as we had dinner outside, but she couldn't be loose in the yard. You can see the solution, above. At first, Diego ran around and around the crate, barking, pawing at the crate and going into "play bows". When he realized Tala wasn't coming out, he lay down next to her. Diego says, Solidarity! An injury to one is an injury to all.

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