Dog gets his stitches out tomorrow. His wound is clean and there shouldn’t be any complications, so here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve learned over the past two weeks of caring for an amputee pet.
They tell you a lot of things, the vets. I heard more than once that dogs are born with “three legs and a spare,” and it would be a matter of days before Dog was zooming all over the place. That’s…not what’s happened. He’s doing well, but it hasn’t been all happy daisies and jazzy music.
Here’s what the vets aren’t telling you.
By God and all that’s godly, I’ve never seen so much poop in my entire life. Thanks to a combination of opioid constipation and the plain fact that Dog can be a spiteful asshole, the first week was nothing but trying to get Dog to eat and then cleaning up enormous smears of poop. I wouldn’t have minded (as much) except I had spent the time that Dog was in intensive care turning the house into a surgical recovery suite. Everything, including the carpets, were as clean as I could get them. And then Dog came home, and when he sat down, he…uh. He “repainted.”
One thing the vets said time and again is that dogs don’t process missing limbs the same way that humans do: there’s a readjustment period, but that’s mostly physical instead of psychological/emotional. This may be true, but Dog, as mentioned, can be a spiteful asshole. He went on a hunger strike and lost a whole bunch of weight. I was calling our regular vet, asking for advice, appetite stimulants, anti-nausea drugs, whatever. Our vet asked a bunch of questions, and after I told him Dog was still eating foods he couldn’t resist (rotisserie chicken) and was eager to eat after I had been out of the house for a while, he said it was most likely that Dog was simply recovering from a serious medical procedure and the pain meds were messing with him, but it was also possible that Dog was really angry with me and only forgot about that once I was out of his sight for a while, so while we shouldn’t attach human emotions to animals, I should run errands at least once a day and take my time while doing it.
Dogs might have three legs and a spare, but that doesn’t mean they lose one and then start bouncing around. It’s taken Dog nearly two weeks to recover to the point where he has enough strength to walk around for more than a few minutes at a time. We’ve had a stretch of warm days, and he’s happiest lying in the sun, watching Puppy take over the household barking chores.
Mostly. A woman was walking her pup past the house while I was taking Dog out to pee. He leapt down the stairs like a nimble deer, barking his fool head off because someone has leash aggression and even major surgery didn’t… Anyhow. I got to shout, “Hallelujah he is healed!” as the woman shot me a massive stinkeye.
Oh, and these surgical shirts? Amazing. Velcro down the spine, in and out, machine washable. No Cone of Shame needed, although this might be because I work from home and can keep an eye on him.
Although it’s been…odd…to wake up in the middle of the night to Dog moving around. You get an instinctive knowledge of what your pets sound like in the dark, and then suddenly there’s a gigantic *thump*thump*STOMP!* *thump*thump*STOMP!* right before an enormous cold nose jabs you awake at three in the morning, and you’ve got to remind yourself that we’re all adapting to a new normal as you recover from your minor heart attack.
Let me leave you with a list of Dog’s new nicknames.
- Captain Hippity-Hop
- Officer Hops
- Stompy Monster
- Sir Stomps-a-Lot
- (pirate voice) Yaaarrrr!