Dec. 21st rolled around…the day of Marley’s surgery. It was with heavy hearts that we took Marley to Lander Valley Animal Hospital. After his puppy behaviors of the night before, I found myself thinking a lot about how his personality would be changed by the surgery. At the Animal Hospital, they made a big fuss over Marley. They knew him from having had him for his original “rescue” examination – he became an instant favorite. He was afraid but came with me to where they put him in a kennel prior to surgery. We said good-bye and kept ourselves busy picking up the carpet remnants for on the concrete floors and installing them, making sure everything would be ready for Marley when he was released to us. We’d thought that he’d come home that night but Lander Valley Hospital decided to keep him overnight for observation and pain management. I was happy about that because I was a bit nervous about how to manage him at home if he should be in immense pain.

We went to pick him up the next morning. It was terrible to see only three legs and the huge incisions where the leg used to be, stapled together. I think I was more upset than Marley, to tell you the truth. At first, we put on the “cone of shame” the animal hospital sent us home with and put him in his crate to keep him quiet and still but he looked so uncomfortable, we took pity on him and let him out. He found his own places where he could be relatively comfortable.

I re-fashioned an old t shirt to fit him. It stopped him from licking his wounds (he’d also been neutered and chipped and had his nails clipped while he was out.)

He was beside himself to see us and even more so once we got home. He went berserk. He behaved as though nothing had happened….for the first three days. He jumped up as he had before and very quickly adapted to the use of only three legs. Towards the end of the third day though, he jumped up on Mike and fell on his stapled side. He literally screamed and ran yelping to the safest place he knew, beside the bed where he’d been sleeping beside Mike. We were horrified and ran to comfort him. I think from that point on, he realized something was wrong and the crying began, to the extent we became worried that he was in severe pain. We took him back to the vet who checked him out carefully and took a long time with us, discussing dog psychology/behavior. The doc thought Marley could have been responding/reacting to our distress over his surgery and subsequent fall, that if we thought he was in pain, then he knew for sure he was in pain. So, every time he cried, I went to him and laid my hands on the incision and comforted him. What was I teaching him? I was rewarding him for crying, I think now. He has me totally wrapped around his little tail. Still, in my defense, he cried so pitifully, and didn’t look at me when crying but off into space as though he was suffering immensely. At least, that’s my perception.

Mike spent hours sitting with him on the floor, ready to consolewhen needed.

It would prove to be a Christmas season to be remembered as one of helping Marley return to full health and mobility. A week post surgery, a very subdued, lethargic Marley and cabin-fevered Mike and I, went to Sinks Canyon. It was a beautiful sunny day and the roads in the campground had been ploughed so we thought it the perfect place for a short walk or even, a sit in a snow bank. Marley livened up considerably and led the way in quite an animated manner. Slowly, slowly, we continued the walks, making them longer and longer as he was able to manage. We even graduated to snowshoeing…very briefly at first but soon, he was jumping through the deep snow. He quickly learned to follow behind one of us when he got tired….but he loves the snow….buries his head snuffling for treasures.

Before the surgery, I wondered about rescheduling it for the spring, when he wouldn’t have to cope with the snow and ice on three unsteady legs but as it turned out, it was the best time to have done it. Numerous times he fell on his face without the support of that left leg but the deep snow cushioned his fall. He quickly adapted to slippery conditions.

Now, a month later, I realize he WAS in pain. He now has totally stopped crying and is back to his fun-loving puppy self, pain free, care free, and happy. We go for daily walks and now he is able to do close to 4 kilometers.

2 thoughts

  1. Hi there Marley, you are a beautiful dog! Thank you for bringing so much joy into Tilly and Mikal’s lives! You are very brave to have gone through everything you have so far in your life. Isn’t it wonderful to have such great people loving and caring for you? You have touched my heart and I wish you the best life ever!!
    I missed what breed or mix you are??

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