Charlie and I took a field trip last week. We went to see a veterinarian whose specialty is orthopedic surgery.
Charlie has had a noticeable limp since he arrived here. He avoids putting weight on his right leg, his knees turn out in an odd way, and he can only get up on the furniture if we help him. I waited to take him in to get it looked at for a couple of reasons. First, he was a snarky, stressed-out little snot and I wanted to wait until he’d progressed to a point where the visit would be only moderately stressful for him and the vet; and second because I had a nagging suspicion that the help Charlie needed would be more than either NESR or I could afford right now.
Last week I knew we were both ready to make the trip — and now I have good news, bad news and more good news to report.
Good news: Charlie stayed remarkably calm for more than an hour while he was in a strange place surrounded by strange people who did strange things to him. It was a bit of a hike to the clinic — the kind of drive that would have provoked a frantic, scrabbling, whining, puking reaction in him a couple of months ago — but today Charlie and Audie rode together without incident. The clinic staff didn’t coo or gush over Charlie (he hates that), and he and I both appreciated the professional, matter-of-fact way this clinic operated. I stayed with Charlie and held him during the exam. While I’m sure it was painful, he took it like a trooper and we didn’t need to muzzle him.
Bad news: Charlie has a grade four luxating patella on the right and a grade two on the left. The right knee isn’t just painful, if it isn’t repaired soon the misalignment will damage his knee and hip. The left knee, while not as severely affected as the right, also needs to be repaired. Net cost – about $3,500.
Good news: Not only has the surgeon offered to give us a discount — but in a stroke of wild, wonderful, good fortune — an anonymous benefactor (or benefactors) has volunteered to pay for Charlie’s surgery.
This wonderful, beautiful, unselfish, anonymous gift was given in the true spirit of Christmas. And we will always be grateful.
I’ll call to schedule surgery on Charlie’s right knee this week. The goal is to stagger his surgery and mine by a couple of weeks to reduce the level of inconvenience involved. One armed handler and three-legged dog, Charlie and I will rest, heal and work on physical therapy together this winter. Audie will go back to being my service dog, and Zip will sulk because we’re not focusing on her needs (throw!)
By summer both of Charlie’s knees should be healed. According to the orthopedic vet, when both of a dog’s knees are damaged as badly as Charlie’s are, repairing them has an almost immediate positive effect on behavior problems like shyness, reactivity and aggression. So this surgery should help heal his soul along with his body.
Thanks to Charlie’s Angels a truly wonderful little dog who was once tossed out like a piece of trash gets a chance to move on to the kind of life and home he deserves.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts —