First, let me say that Dakota seemed to turn around remarkably yesterday afternoon. He decided when he’d had enough of being outside and got himself back into the house unassisted. This was amazing because it involves hopping up about a foot from the ground into the house. He has been up and around much more and seems happier and more settled. His appetite is still off, but I’m ok with that because I’d like him to lose a few pounds.
That being said, I think the veterinarian community should take a look at the information they are giving the families of new amputees and perhaps make some slight adjustments. I believe that a vet’s viewing lens into the new life of a tripawd dog is significantly different than the viewing lens of the dog’s family. I also believe that a vet does not want to discourage a family from giving an otherwise healthy dog a new chance through amputation and so perhaps colors the info they give out. In other words (what I’m trying to sidestep around here), I think veterinarians make it seem easier than it is.
I realize many people may either take offense to that statement or disagree or tell me they never experienced that at all. But I did. We were going to do this for Dakota, so we were not on the fence and needing to be nudged toward amputation. I said from the beginning that this was the only chance Dakota had at living a full life. He just turned 9; he’s not a youngster, but neither is he a doddering senior. I have every reason to want to provide him with the chance to live long enough to become doddering. But I feel like I was sandbagged a little on this.
After the surgery, when Dakota was struggling so much and seemed to have no will to do anything, I was really frightened. I was worried, terribly worried. It would have made things so much easier if the folks handling his surgery had just been up-front with me and said “the first few days will suck and he may act like he doesn’t want to go on living, but that will pass.” Instead, I was told over and over again how well he would do, how little time it would take him to be up and attempting to move around, etc. But it wasn’t like that for Dakota. It was hard, it was a struggle and it sucked.
When I contacted the surgeon afterward and told her how much trouble Dakota was having, she then told me how hard it could be. Only afterward did she become candid. She had couched some of her warnings in language that sounded more hopeful, more helpful. I know it’s because they see miracles every day and a dog able to hop around a bit a few days after this major surgery probably seems like no big deal. But it is a big deal. I guess I’m just putting out a request for a little more truth in advertising.
It’s hard. It can be incredibly variable. Just because my dog had a hard time doesn’t mean your dog will, and vice versa. It may bring tears to your eyes, and that’s normal. If he doesn’t sit up and eat a full meal the day after surgery and act like he can’t wait to get back to business as usual, that’s normal. If he has pain, that’s normal. If he follows you around the house with his eyes and seems to be pleading with you for help, that’s normal. If he whines softly when you give him love and cuddles, that’s normal. If it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through with your dog, well…it is.