Casey comes home

We picked Casey up at Metro on Saturday morning. He was wearing one of those awful e-collars (plastic cone) and his left-hind leg was heavily bandaged all the way up to his hip. In spite of it all, Casey seemed to be doing pretty well.

I asked the discharge nurse how he’d been for his pills (I knew the answer before I asked) and was told that they managed to get them into him but they did mark his kennel with a “warning” sign. Giving Casey his meds has NEVER been easy, so I could just imagine… I was not looking forward to the next few weeks of pills and liquid medication.

Fortunately the ride home was uneventful, I held Casey in the back seat of the car. When we got home we spent a low-key day as a family in the living room. There was snow outside — so the bandage had to be covered and I had to do my best to make sure he would not slip on any ice when I took him out.

Casey didn’t have much of an appetite, even though he had not eaten in over 36-hours. He refused to eat at Metro, which was not a surprise. In preparation for his homecoming I’d roasted a chicken (a favorite dish) and finally managed to get him to eat something. He was still recovering from the anesthesia, which I think affected his stomach and digestion. He was also in pain, so pain meds were important, even if he didn’t want to take them.

Casey had to wear the e-collar to make sure he would not get to the bandage, however it looked uncomfortable. I’d borrowed a soft blow-up version from a friend. While the new one worked Casey could still get to the bandage if he really tried, so for bedtime I decided he really needed to wear the cone.

None of us slept much that night! First of all Casey was on restrictions — no steps or stairs — so he had to be carried to bed. Every time he’d get picked up he’d growl (talk about unappreciative). I’d modified his bed, removing his wicker frame, so he could just lie on the mattress. That wasn’t good enough, Casey was used to spending a little time each night on our bed before going to sleep in his own (yes, he’s VERY spoiled). But now he wasn’t allowed on the furniture (fear of jumping) so that started his cries of unhappiness. The cries continued almost all night. It was impossible to tell whether they were cries of pain, discomfort, sadness, misery or all of the above. Casey had never cried like that before. It was heart wrenching.

Somehow we made it through the night but the lack of sleep didn’t help any of us… we carried on.

Next time, how we made it through the next 12 days.


How it happened

You might expect that you’d have some warning before your dog goes completely lame; unfortunately that’s not necessarily the case. While my Casey is 12.5 years old, he’s always been a very active dog. I routinely considered all of his activities to be “cross-training”: daily walks, weekend hikes (usually 3 – 4 miles through some wooded trail), daily training (even if for only 10 minutes) in dog sports including: agility, obedience, rally obedience, freestyle and most recently (since his injury) nose work.

Up until his accident, I hadn’t seen any indication of lameness. Yes, he has some arthritis in his shoulder, likely from a fall many years ago off a piece of agility equipment, but nothing that hampered his gait. Since we walk on leash daily I regularly watch him move/his gait and hadn’t seen anything. On the evening when the tear happened, we were coming back from our walk down the street (the whole walk’s about 1/2 mile) and Casey was feeling playful. He nose bopped my husband’s leg (his cue for let’s run) and they both took off in a quick sprint. In an instant Casey was on 3-legs. No cry of pain, just unable to bear weight on his left hind. My husband carried him home.

It was quickly apparent that he could not put any weight on the leg. I iced it, gave him a prescription pain pill (which he’d gotten for an interdigital cyst some time previously) and a baby aspirin. Of course his injury happened after 5:00 on a Friday night… I called his vet’s office but they were closed until Monday… Since he was not in obvious pain I decided to wait until Saturday before calling an emergency vet. On Saturday I spoke with several professional friends/colleagues and they all said that the only place to take Casey was Metropolitan (Veterinary Associates). Hands down Metro was touted as THE best place for an ACL injury. As a point of reference, there are 3 other emergency vet clinics within 5 miles of where I live, and Metro’s 25 miles away…I figured it would be a bad idea to take Casey to a close vet, only to know I’d refuse surgery if they suggested it. So, I called Metro to see what they would/could do for him over the weekend. They said basically all they could do would be to make him comfortable. Since Casey wasn’t in any great discomfort I made the personal decision to wait and take him to his own vet before making any additional decisions.

Casey’s vet wasn’t able to see him until Tuesday but when she did see Casey I knew we’d made the right decisions (for us). She confirmed there was likely a tear of his ACL and that Metro was the place to go. She took preliminary radiographs and pre-op blood work. Due to his age, I wanted to make sure he was healthy enough for surgery before we went ahead to see the specialist.

On Thursday 1/24 Casey met his surgeon at Metro — Dr. Jacqui Niles. She took time to examine him and explain what she was looking at/for. Casey, who generally hates being “helped” with anything, was being very cooperative and downright pleasant, until Dr. Niles did one last manipulation — that one hurt! In no uncertain terms Casey let her know that if she ever did that again he would bite her. Dr. Niles confirmed that he’d torn his Cranial Cruciate and that surgery was really the only way to get him back on 4 feet. She explained what would be involved (she does about 3 of these a day!), including the cost (quite substantial I might add) and said we could have a few minutes to discuss it privately. My husband said, no we didn’t need to discuss it; we were here to have the surgery. My husband’s a saint 🙂

Anyway, Casey had surgery the following morning. We dropped him of by 6:30 am and had a call by 9:30 that he had done well and was in recovery. We could pick him up the following morning. I went to bed that night realizing this might be the last good night’s sleep for a while. I had no idea…

More next time 🙂


Back to blogging

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, sorry, I’ve been busy with other non-dog related things 😦

I thought when I came back I’d blog about the changes to the Therapy Dogs International (TDI) testing, however, this too has been temporarily sidelined. My Casey (12.5 year old Cairn Terrier) had a complete tear of his ACL (accurately called a cranial cruciate ligament in dogs) and a 1/2 tear of a meniscus in mid-late January. He underwent surgery, completed by a specialist at Metropolitan Vet Associates in Norristown, PA. (A great place if you need emergency or specialty care.) The joint was stabilized surgically with a nylon monofilament. And while I’m pleased to say (knock on wood) that he’s doing well — it’s been a LONG month!

Fortunately, since I train with a local dog club (, I’ve had a great deal of support from friends & colleagues who’ve helped me get through some of the more stressful times.

When this first happened, and after the surgery, I looked on the Internet for information and didn’t come up with much that related to what I was going through. So, for that reason, I will dedicate my next series of blogs to this type of injury and my experiences as we’ve gone/are going through recovery.

If I can help someone else get through a similar situation, the posts will be worth it.

Until next time 🙂