the surgery and the fear.

It's been a minute since I gave y'all a Ronni update so buckle up because this one's a doozy.

It all started a little over a month ago.

I had been dealing with some mild separation anxiety issues. Okay they were probably more boredom related but still. Whatever the cause, Ronni was not doing well being left home alone so I stuck her in doggie day care. It was going great until That Tuesday.

On That Tuesday I went to pick up Ronni like normal.

But it wasn't normal.

She was limping. Bad.

The poor thing wouldn't put any weight on one of her back legs at all. She wasn't distressed and didn't seem to be in pain. She just wouldn't let the leg touch the ground.

At first I thought arthritis. So I gave her some prednisone and decided to keep her home the next day.

However when she was still limping the next morning I called the vet and made her an appointment for after work. Lo and behold, Ronni had torn her CCL.

For those unfamiliar with dog knee anatomy--technically called a stifle--the CCL functions a lot like an ACL in a human being, stabilizing the joint so the dog can run and jump and play and lead a full happy life. We actually had a dog tear one back in the day but she never limped so we didn't know until she started literally grinding herself a new knee socket because her knee was so misaligned.

Thankfully we caught Ronni's sooner than that.

The vet carefully went over the exact nature of the injury, pulling out a little model and everything to show me. Then he went over my treatment options. There were basically two: surgery or intense PT. He explained each one in detail and then sent us on our way to think it over. He actually refused to let me make a decision until I had gone home, researched, and thought it over.

So I did.

Ultimately I decided on surgery. Ronni had a complete tear and while PT would be great for building up the tendons and muscles around the knee, it wouldn't repair or replace the ligament. Technically surgery wouldn't repair it but it would at least provide a replacement, a cure if you will, instead of just a bandaid.

So the next morning after even more research I called the vet and told him my decision. Surgery was scheduled for the next morning.

Friday morning rolled around and I woke up sick as could be. I sat in bed for a few extra minutes and just hugged Ronni. Surgery is always risky after all, no matter how routine.

Thankfully in Ronni's case surgery went as smoothly as it could. Well, other than the discovery of a torn meniscus requiring a partial meniscectomy.

The next morning I picked up my poor drugged up puppy and thus embarked on the long, painful healing process.

We spent that first weekend curled up in bed, me with one of the worst colds I've had in years and her still high as a kite on pain meds. One time she even rolled off the bed in the neighborhood of 3 am but due to the pain meds was unable to process what happened so she just laid on her back on the floor with all four legs sticking straight up in the air. Thankfully she landed on a pile of decorative pillows (being girly has its advantages sometimes) so no harm done.

I spent the next several weeks bringing Ronni to work with me. Since I was still so sick I really didn't go anywhere else.

Once the pain meds wore off a week and a half later, another problem began to emerge.

Separation Anxiety.

I crated her. I bought her a Kong. I filled it with peanut butter. I gave her her favorite treat only when I left (puperoni sticks, in case you were wondering). I played music. I covered half her crate in a sheet. I gave her my old shirt.

But still she panicked.

So when she started having accidents and trying to break out of her crate I called the vet. He recommended a pheromone collar. It definitely helped reduce her anxiety in the car.

But still she panicked.

So I called the vet again, at the end of my rope. He recommended doggie Xanax. And it took the edge off.

But still she panicked.

Granted this time it took her an extra 6 minutes to get there but still, she got there.

If we're being honest, I knew from day one what I needed to do. I needed an intense desensitization program.

But I didn't want to do that. No, I wanted a quick fix, something easy.

Tonight, after bursting into tears because I didn't know what to do, I finally gave in. I'm going to need to do the program. Every professional organization, every website recommended it as The Cure for moderate to severe separation anxiety, which is what I'm dealing with.

The program involves slowly desensitizing her to my absence. And I do mean slowly.

Tonight I started by repeatedly getting up, putting on my shoes, picking up my bag and keys, walking to the door, and then sitting back down again. It confused the hell out of my dog if we're being honest.

And once she stops reacting to that, I go one step further and step out the door.

And then immediately walk back in.

And I do that repeatedly until she stops reacting to it. Once I can do that, I start staying outside for gradually increasing intervals. Once we're all the way up to 30 minutes, I can start increasing by larger intervals.

That goes on, that repetitive nonsense, until she can be calm, alone, for 90 minutes.

And then, we both get our lives back.

If you've never dealt with separation anxiety, it's heart breaking to see. When I come back from being away from her I see nothing but fear. Pure, unadulterated fear.

And as ridiculous as this program is, it's worth it to not see that expression on her face anymore. It's worth it to have a happy dog. It's worth it to be able to actually live my life again.

Yes, it means giving up my life for several weeks. Ronni can only be left unattended during sessions or all our hard work will be undone. So goodbye hair cut, social engagements, and yoga classes. Goodbye mass on Sundays. Goodbye Target and grocery store runs that don't take place online.

But giving up everything for several short weeks is a small price to pay for well-adjusted, happy dog, for a dog that feels comfortable in her own skin and her own home.

So pray for us. Pray for patience and perseverance. Pray for compassion. Pray for healing.

Because we're going to need it.

But we're going to get through this. We're going to rehab my baby. We're going to make her well again because right now she is not well. She is scared witless.

And that's no life for a dog.

It's especially no life for the sweetest, most loving dog. I won't give up on her. She needs me.

If we're being honest, I need her too.

Small Whole30 update: I hit pause a few days ago on it. I was overwhelmed and something had to give. It couldn't be Ronni; that was just cruel. So unfortunately it was the Whole30 that gave. But I haven't given up. Lent starts Wednesday and while I won't be able to attend mass in person (see: desensitization training), I plan on doing a WholeLent.

I haven't given up. Not yet anyways. Because I can do this. We have a plan in place now for Ronni and already we're seeing results.

When I started desensitizing her earlier, Ronni got up and ran to the door every time I picked up my keys. Now, two hours later, she barely lifts her head even after long breaks between trips to the door.

So on Wednesday it's back on the Whole30. That gives the both of us a few days to develop our new training routine.

As Ronni changes her own habits, so will I. We'll grow and change together, Ronni and I.

And we'll both walk out the other side happier and better for it.

1 comment:

  1. That was so sweet! What a dear mom you are and what a sweet doggy you have! Love you!