TPLO–four simple little letters


This spring when the snow pack was finally softening and the temps climbed out of the sub zero, our beautiful 5-year-old lab was enjoying her back yard.  She was used to running over the drifts of snow that covered the gardens, fire pit, and sandbox; but with the warmer temps, those drifts had become mushy causing her to fall through sometimes.  This happens every spring.  It is as entertaining to us as her unwillingness to potty on grass until all the snow has melted and she has no option left but to squat on the lawn. 

One day, early this spring, we noticed she was favoring her right back leg.  We checked for something in her paw or something noticeable with the leg.  We didn’t find anything.  It seemed like she favored it even more over the following couple days and she began having difficulties lowering herself to lay on the living room floor at Bill’s feet and was very stiff when she got back up.

She was due for a well-visit so we scheduled one and had the vet look at her leg then too.  They tranquilized her (she is a very ‘driven’ dog, note the collar in the above picture that we need just to walk her) and took an X-ray.  No joint issues that they could find, but they did note fluid in her knee.  She was given a 10-day round of anti-inflammatories and we were told to keep her mellow for  7-10 days.  The meds seemed to do a number on her stomach.  By the end of the 10 days, she was throwing up often.

She seemed to recover pretty well, acting pretty normal when she was home resting.  However, we did noticed that upon returning from a weekend at the farm, she would hobble again, so we knew it was not completely healed.  A quick search of the internet and two self-diagnosing Piepers knew at this point, we were probably dealing with an ACL (CCL in dogs) tear of some degree. 

In late May, we spent another weekend at the farm.  Lucy was let out to run Sunday morning and came back a tri-pod.  She would not bear any weight on that leg and cried when we touched it.  Bill had to lift her into our Denali to get her home and we knew at this point, we needed to make another call to the vet.  We were able to get another round of the anti-inflammatories, but even with rest and a couple days of those, her behaviors hadn’t changed.  Other than the returned puking due to the meds, we couldn’t tell she had taken them.  We scheduled a visit to the vet (the first one I have ever gone to, by the way) where she was diagnosed with a complete tear of her ACL. 

The options we have are to do nothing and face a future with joint swelling, arthritis, and lameness; a less-expensive surgery that has a lower success rate; and the mac daddy TPLO surgery, which provides another one of those situations when we learn we should never say never.  We were the people who would never pay that kind of money for a dog.  

It didn’t take long for us to decide TPLO was the way to go.  However, we were told she had a 75% chance of experiencing the same tear in her other knee, and we got down to her level, looked her in the eyes, and told her we would not fix this twice.  This is a one-shot deal.  I hope she understands a little human speak and gets this info into her thick skull.  She can’t run around chasing cats anymore like she did when she was 3.  She needs to mellow.  Perhaps during surgery, the vet can implant some sort of ability to think ahead a little?  This is her old and wise look.


She has surgery tomorrow.  I can tell you right now that I am totally a wimp when it comes to this kind of thing.  Taking care of her will be primarily my job because I am home for the summer, but I am not sure I will be up to it.  I don’t like seeing any living thing in pain.  She will have staples – lots of them, and I might feel like puking, or crying, or passing out.  I am really worried about it.

I wonder if she will understand that what we are about to put her through will work out best in the end.  I wonder what kind of pain dogs feel.  I wonder if making her recover from this surgery is kinder than putting her down.  My mind wonders a lot of things and last night, I even had some tears.  She just laid on her new dog bed and dreamt about chasing things while I fretted about the days and weeks to come. 

This has to go well.  She is our welcome committee.  Our feet warmer.  Our one-dog dining room floor mopping team.  Our candy-sniffing-out team.  Our pillow.  Our neighbor alert system.  Basically, she is a part of our family and we love her!

She is resting up tonight and getting loved on.  Her journey begins tomorrow very early.




8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Missi
    Jun 08, 2011 @ 21:41:57

    That’s a bummer… will be praying it goes well and that you will have the strength to take care of her! I am sure she will not be as entertaining as someone else I know after major surgery, though! 🙂


  2. Sadie Twite
    Jun 08, 2011 @ 21:47:37

    Aaaah this is such a sweet blog! I am such a dog lover and do realize how much they become part of the family. As silly as this sounds, I suggest praying over your dog for fast healing and also for any future problems that she might be a risk for. And I pray that you will survive the healing stage of her surgery! 🙂


  3. Michele
    Jun 08, 2011 @ 22:44:11

    Oh, how sweet you are deb!! We will pray. When Luna was loose for 6 1/2 hours I worried pretty badly! Dogs are a wonderful part of the family!! Where is her surgery and when will she get to come home?


    • debpieper
      Jun 09, 2011 @ 09:23:29

      Bill dropped her off this morning and she should come home tomorrow. She is at Casselton. I just keep thinking that she is at the spa.


  4. Rachelle
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 07:14:35

    Best wishes & prayers for her full recovery. You’re doing her a great service by having her get this surgery. She will be in less pain & will be better in no time. I can just imagine how hard it would be to keep a 5-year old lab “low key”. That has to be a challenge.


  5. Trackback: Update on Lucy, the superdog…super something anyway « Our Piep Show
  6. Trackback: Our week in photos « Our Piep Show

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