On Wednesday, my dog Kate had the first of two hip replacement surgeries. (She has terrible hip dysplasia, thanks to the eugenics of the AKC and the irresponsibility of whoever bred her parents. We adopted her from a shelter when she was about 4 years old, so we bear all the cost, but none of the responsibility.) She was one of the first dogs to get a new kind of cementless hip replacement, thanks to an inventor in Switzerland and the amazing surgical skill of Dr. Robert Taylor of the world-famous Alameda East Veterinary Hospital. (Alameda East is featured on Animal Planet’s show Emergency Vets.) The surgery went fine, and Kate stayed two extra days while I was in Leadville speaking to the Colorado Libertarian Party Convention.
So yesterday, after driving home two hours from Leadville, Paul and I relaxed for a bit before taking the 50 minute drive to pick up Kate from Alameda East. She was very glad to be going home, and the few extra days at the vet had really helped out, as she was much more sturdy and stable than she had been when I visited her on Thursday.
So we got her home, petted her a great deal, let her visit with the overjoyed Abby, put her in her newly-purchased, larger-than-a-crate octagonal pen, and went upstairs to relax a bit with some of our TiVO-recorded television. (Kate has to stay on carpet and avoid stairs for the next month, which means living exclusively downstairs.)
When I came downstairs an hour later (7:30 pm), I immediately saw that Kate had ripped out all the staples holding her 10-inch surgery scar together. I was so shocked and horrified that I couldn’t even tell Paul what was wrong. I just was yelling incoherently until he came downstairs and saw for himself. We were home just two hours and the damn dog ripped herself open! Augh!
So I made a frantic call to Alameda East while Paul covered her wound with some gauze so that it wouldn’t get dirty in the car. (We had to use duct tape to secure it, as the medical tape was small and flimsy. But even the duct tape didn’t work so well, but well enough.) And so Kate and I took the 50 minute drive back to Alameda East. Unfortunately, between the time when I called and when I arrived, a number of traumas rolled in, so Kate’s repair took about an hour for one of the vets to get to. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have either my laptop or the keyboard for my Clie, so I couldn’t even really get any work done.)
As it turns out, Kate didn’t just pull out her staples, she also ripped some of the internal stitches. So the wound had to be recut, resown internally, and then resown externally. (They used sutures rather than staples this time for greater stability.) The only not-so-bad part of the evening was that Kate was able to tolerate all this repair work just local anesthetic. She is a very calm and stoical dog.
So Kate and I arrived back home four hours later, this time with a head collar. Jennifer, Dr. Taylor’s assistant, called me this morning to find out how Kate was doing after all the excitement last night. Strangely enough, she said that she didn’t give me a head collar when Kate went home because Kate didn’t fuss with her wound one bit while she was an in-patient. I suspect that depression over being at the vet was the crucial difference. (“Oh, I’m so happy that I’m home. Now I have the energy to rip out those damn staples. Oh shit, we’re going back to the vet!”)
The problem with the collar, of course, is that it makes walking and navigating much more difficult for an already unstable dog. And during this recovery, a fall could be very dangerous for Kate. So I asked Jennifer if I could fashion a pair of bike shorts to prevent Kate from fussing with her wound, which she said would be fine. So I’ll be cutting and sewing Kate a pair of pants this morning. That’s not quite what I had planned for my morning, but c’est la vie!
Will I ever get any rest? At the rate I’m going, probably not for a while.