I have always loved how excited the boys get when we come home. They race up the sides of trees, chase each other around the yard, do that happy mid-air chest bump... But one day in early September 2005, their excitement got a little more enthusiastic than normal, and when they calmed down, boscoe pulled up lame.
he was still limping the next day, so we made an appointment with our kind Kent Hrbek vet, Dr. Jennrich. we love dr. jennrich because he gets down on the floor with the dogs and clearly loves them, and because he was so good to toby when toby was dying. (and between jennrich and the U of M hospital, bought toby one more summer.) (i'm not yet ready to tell that story.)
it didn't take jennrich long to figure out that boscoe had torn his ACL. this is a fairly common injury in dogs, jennrich told us, and we had a couple of options. we could do nothing. boscoe would continue to limp, and he would likely develop arthritis pretty quickly.
we could do the standard treatment, which was basically rubber bands surgically inserted into his knee to replace the severed ligaments.
or we could do a newer procedure that, in his estimation, worked a little better and allowed the dog to heal more quickly.
the newer surgery, called TPLO, involved shaving down the bone and inserting a metal plate that they screw directly into the bone. ouch. i didn't entirely understand how it worked, but jennrich seemed enamored of it. the big thing was recovery time -- about 4 weeks, which was half the time of the rubber-band procedure.
the price was pretty steep--almost three times more expensive than rubber bands--but we didn't think about it too long. for one thing, doug said he'd pay. times like this it's very convenient of me to remember that, technically, boscoe is his dog (since we got him when toby was still around, and toby was very definitely my dog).
and for another thing, the recovery time was important to us. he was already 10 years old, and we wanted him to spend as little time as possible unable to get around.
"a year from now, he'll be the same dog no matter which way you go," jennrich said. "it's the in-between time where it's different."
so we made an appointment at the huge modern vet clinic in Inver Grove Heights, and when the day came we both brought boscoe in. the clinic building was low-slung, new, very modern. there were expensive sports cars parked in the staff slots; we assume those belonged to the surgeons, and not to the vet techs.
the waiting room did not have anything as frivolous as the faux dog-paw-prints that march across the ceiling of our neighborhood clinic; this place was all business. they had a lot of patients, and they handled them very efficiently.
a vet examined boscoe, but we never met the surgeon. the surgeons were pretty busy performing one surgery after another, all day long. it was like an assembly line, but a very well-oiled assembly line. we did catch sight of one surgeon, wearing one of those colorful surgical caps like they wear on "E.R.," but whether or not that was boscoe's surgeon it was impossible to say.
during the exam, boscoe was his usual chipper self, smiling at everyone and obeying with great cheerfulness. the vet who examined him told us his body was a 3 out of 5--1 being too skinny, 5 being too fat, 3 being just right--and we beamed with pride.
leaving him behind, though, was hard. i choked up. he looked stricken as we handed over his leash and walked out the door.
the next day, when we picked him up, was just as hard. he was woozy. he was staggering, just a bit. and he was in a bright purple cast that went all the way from the bottom of his foot to the top of his thigh. it was hard getting him from the clinic to the parking lot; he couldn't put any weight on the repaired leg, and he was afraid to walk. but he hates being picked up--hates it.
i can't remember now precisely how we managed, but somehow we got him out to the truck, where he stood, wavering slightly. he stared at the inside of the open jeep but didn't move.
it took us a moment to realize that there was no way he was going to be able to jump inside.
TO BE CONTINUED
Jenny Barden in the Plotting Shed
4 hours ago