Torn

Hollie dogPart of the reason we adopted Hollie is because we knew she would need special care. She walks a little funny, sits to one side, her hips click with every step, and the vet who saw her before her we adopted her said she would need surgery; the only question was when.

When we took her to our vet (the same one who cried with us over Yuki), she had better news — Hollie’s hips aren’t as bad as we originally thought! Her right back hip has some degenerative disease, as does her left back knee, but our vet feels strongly that we’ll be able to manage it with supplements and pain meds, when necessary.

The other good news — our vet didn’t discourage us from letting her play. She’s taken in dogs with severe joint issues, and her feeling was that, if they’re feeling alright now, let them play and enjoy it. Of course, watch her and monitor her play, and don’t let her get too rough or crazy, but if we wanted to take her to the dog park or something, it probably wouldn’t be any more problematic than letting her play in the back yard.

And then, I exhaled.

You guys wouldn’t believe how happy that made me. I mean, sure, it doesn’t mean she’s okay, exactly, but it took away the nagging guilt I had about letting her play with Rudi and her other doggie friends.

And then she got hurt.

She’s okay, really, but after playing with a friend’s dog, she came home limping. She wouldn’t put any weight on her right back foot, and was crying in pain when she’d try to lay on it or get up. My heart split into a thousand sharp pieces, all of which landed in my gut. This went on for a couple of days, after which she went right back to normal. Until she played too hard the next week and did it again. (The limping only lasted one evening the second time, though.)

We know she’s a bit of a drama queen (our vet confirmed it), and I have no doubt that she knows I’ll come running whenever she cries. I’m positive some of her actions are because she’s milking it. That being said, I also have no doubt that it really does hurt — she wouldn’t whimper in the middle of the night when she doesn’t know I’m awake if it wasn’t real.

hollie dog bed

I’m so torn — when she plays, she’s just like a normal, completely healthy dog, and most of the time she’s fine after she plays. It’s just those occasional times that the playing causes her to hurt so much… Do I cut back her fun puppy play time, knowing that at some point, she might not be able to play at all, or do I let her go for it and do what I can to help her deal with the hurt when it occurs?

My gut (now, mercifully free of those sharp pieces of my heart) says to let her play. Of course that’s what it says right now, when she’s tearing around the house like someone put crack in her kibble. What would you do?

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  1. Kate’s avatar

    Augh, that’s a tough one. I think I would go ahead and let her play like you are. Especially if most of the time she’s fine. If it starts happening more often, then maybe reevaluate? She’s such a cutie, by the way.

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  2. la isla d'lisa’s avatar

    Absolutely let her play! Dogs are very much in-the-moment creatures, but they also have pretty good memories … she’ll fairly quickly figure out her personal ouchies and either avoid them or figure out how to work around them. When we adopted our elderly Lhasa Apso she wasn’t expected to live two weeks, and her hind legs were completely atrophied (it was an abuse/neglect situation). After eight months not only was she still with us, but she was running after rabbits and jumping on furniture (!!). She lived another two years and would probably still be with us today if a petsitter hadn’t failed miserably at the job and lost her while we were on vacation (she was euthanized by the pound the day before we got back, grr).

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  3. Kyle’s avatar

    How SAD. I hate sad puppy eyes!!!

    I don’t know, I’d be torn too and in the end I’d probably do the same as you, let her play.

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  4. Deana’s avatar

    That is the cutest picture and the saddest story! I think you have to let her play, too. Maybe you’ll need to limit HOW MUCH, but that’s what dogs do. Congrats on another adoption, K!

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  5. Kristin’s avatar

    Ugh, that’s a tough one. It’s hard for me too. My cat has heart issues and isn’t supposed to run around too much…but it makes him so happy. So, I just watch him and stop him if he’s getting too crazy!

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