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  #1  
Old 07-28-2008, 02:33 PM
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Location: Arlington, Texas
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Heartbreaking decision time - dog related....

Harry, my 10 year old cocker spaniel is in need of knee surgery on both hind legs. He blew both ACL's, so to speak. We don't know which leg it happened first, we just noticed a slow down in his ability to go up stairs or even jump on the bed. He most likely tore one then the stress on the other leg caused it to tear also. I've had him since he was 5 months old and is strong and healthy otherwise. It's a new to me vet since I just moved to Texas a short time ago. He did a "senior dog" work up. Blood, EKG and everything other than typical cocker eyes not producing enough tears, requiring daily medication, is normal. He was surprised that Harry is so healthy. He said normally they'd find something at his age. Until this, he was running and playing more like a 10 month old than a 10 year old dog.

I left him at the vet for my vacation last week and they sedated him to ex-ray his hips as they were at a loss. While positioning him for the ex-ray - hips & joints all fine, they found his knees moving unnaturally, so to speak. He's on Ritadel (?) - an anti-inflammatory. Since the swelling has gone down in the joints, you can actually hear his knees clicking. Two methods to repair: One is they use a wire to replace the tendon which is supposedly ok for small dogs. The other is they notch the bone and use a plate & screws - a better, stronger and permanent repair. They want to do that procedure primarily since it's both knees, the repair needs to be strong as he's gonna rely on the support of one until the second knee is done. I'm sitting her on pins & needles waiting for the vet to call me with a $2000-$4000 estimate. I'm putting the cart before the horse but a co-worker just told me that a friend of hers just had it done on one knee of her dog and it was about $2500.

Without delving into my finances, I just came off 16+ years of caring for my mom and my finances and credit rating took a massive hit. Moving here was basically a start-over for me. So do I beg,borrow and steal to care for my boy ? I hate to be one of those people that takes the "cheap" way out and puts down an otherwise healthy animal due to the cost. Someone just said to me: "it's just a dog. Don't add to your financial mess." That's a hard answer for me to swallow. Harry has been more than a dog. He's been friend and councilor for the last several years without even knowing it. My first day back to work and I can't focus because of this......

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Last edited by AdvisorGuy; 07-28-2008 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 07-28-2008, 02:54 PM
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I went through the exact same thing with my mutt a while back. She was a jumper and liked to go after frisbees. This blew out both knees. Decided to go with what they call a TPLO which is what I think you're referring to with the "notch and plate" arrangement.

If you go this route, get ready for at least 4k in bills, lots of care, lots of time in re-hab, etc... I also sent her to a company called "vet-hab" where they put her on an underwater treadmill a couple times a week for therapy. Swimming is also good and also you might have to construct an obsticle course out of cones and PVC pipes to build strength and agility.

She got through all this fine but unfortunately, died a few years later due to unrelated cancerous tumors.

I have never regretted the expense of the surgery because she gave back so much more in love than the money is worth. If you have any more questions I will be glad to assist.

On a dog I think the ACL is a CCL (cranial crucial ligament) since he's horizontal...
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Old 07-28-2008, 03:23 PM
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I feel for you. I think we're on borrowed time with the old man of the family. Felix is a schnauzer I adopted from a rescue organization several years ago, and at the time they guessed his age was 8-10. He could be 15+ by now; we just don't know. His eyesight is all but shot, and his hearing is demonstrably worse these past few weeks. He's on several meds for seizures and his eyes, and for liver deterioration due to the seizure meds. I don't mind these costs as he's been the most loyal friend and companion I have ever had, but I worry about the day that an unaffordable surgery is required. I am not sure how I'll handle that. On one hand, he has had a loving, spoiled life with me since his adoption, and assuming the age estimates are accurate he has lived longer than most schnauzers do. On the other, I can't bear the thought of not providing for him if/when the need arises. All I can say is that when the time comes for him to be put down, if he does not die naturally, I will be there with him, holding him and talking to him. With any luck, I'll be able to provide for him and take care of any further needs that arise.

Sorry for the aside; I am not sure how to answer your question. I wish I could provide more guidance, but this is a tough one. If you're a spiritual person, pray on it. In any case, I am sure Harry knows he's loved. Rest assured that there are many of us wondering the same things!
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Old 07-28-2008, 03:44 PM
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Playing devil's advocate:

If your 300SD needed $4K in repairs, would you spend it? To add to that, would you regret the expense if you got the car in top notch shape only to have it involved in a severe collision months later?

Note, the MB does not dole out love, just smiles.
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  #5  
Old 07-28-2008, 03:52 PM
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That's a tough decision, and only you can make it.

I had to make a similar decision with my wife's cat a few years back. I hate cats, but my wife wanted one, so....

We come home form the movies one day, and the cat is hanging from the cord for the blinds. She is a good 2' from the floor, there is blood and fur everywhere, and she's not moving. I thought she was dead, but when we cut her down she ran underneath the bed.

Just a quick note on my finances at the time. I had just moved to Chicago from the south and was pretty much living from paycheck to paycheck. And I hated cats.

So we took the cat to the vet on a Sunday afternoon. I am worrying about how much all this is going to cost me, because I knew I couldn't afford it. The vet takes her to the back and I start pacing; my wife probably thinks it is because I am worried about the cat, but I was worried about the money.

An hour later, the vte cames out. "Good news" he says, "we took some x-rays and there are no broken bones". A cat x-ray, I am thinking, is probably pretty expensive. "She is breathing normally now because she is on oxygen", as I mentally try to guess how much oxygen for a cat costs. "Worst case scenario - she has nerve damage and we will have to remove her leg". Wow!

So I am standing there, trying to come up with a polite way to tell the vet that she was a freebie, I don't really like cats, all the cat does is hide underneath the bed, I don't have enough money to pay for the work you just did nevermind a cat amputation, and isn't there a more cost-effective way to handle this (hmm hmm) rather than surgery?

Then I look over at my wife, with these big tears rolling down her face, knowing she feels guilty for leaving the cord where the cat can sit on the windowsill and play with it, and tell the doctor to do the best he can.

A week and $1,000 later I pick up her three-legged cat. The vet comes out and congratulates us on doing "the right thing", and explains that if we hadn't they would have had to eat the cost and send a 3-legged cat to the animal shelter. I wanted to ask why he didn't tell us that was an option BEFORE I spent $1,000, but kept my mouth shut.

The $1000 cat that always hid under the bed now waits by the window for me to come home every day and keeps my feet warm at night. I still hate cats, but she makes a good case.
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Old 07-28-2008, 03:54 PM
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I'd sell the car if I had to lol. I'd post his pic but I don't subscribe to any web hosting...
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:21 PM
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Our Black Lab went through this a few years ago. TPLO on both knees, and 5k worth of bills I didn't want to take. Not to mention the crating, taking her to the bathroom, pills etc. It was an easier choice for us not because we could afford it, but because she was so young. She was only two. Here we are three years later, and she's jumping like a puppy after the tennis ball again, lost a bunch of weight and seems like a very happy dog. Tough decision, for sure. If she were older, we probably would not have had it done. I wish you the best of luck in your decision.
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:31 PM
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Unhappy

When my red tabby Maine Coon, Arizona, developed liver problems in '97, I got him through that and fed him through a stomach tube all one summer. He then developed diabetes, and he had to be in the vet hospital during the day and the night care place overnight -- two different places. I took him back and forth. When he came home, I gave him his insulin shots twice a day for almost two years.

Cancer got him at the last. They advised me there were experimental therapies that carried no guarantee he'd be cured, and would probably leave him blind in one eye -- and he'd have had to spend most of the week in a hospital 30 miles away. And at that he'd still have a low survival chance. I nodded and kept him happy for his last week or so, and was there, holding him, when the vet gave him that final shot.

As I said at the time, the balance on my Visa looked like the national debt of a small South American country . . . but there's an extra-warm spot in hell for people who abandon their animals for mere convenience, and I'm sensitive to heat.

It's hard to say if he loved me back, but he was certainly attached to me, and I'd do it again. He depended on me. Your Harry is depending on you.
.
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2008, 04:59 PM
I'm thinkin, I'm thinkin.
 
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The surgical vet that this vet recommended is telling me $1500-$1700 per knee for the standard repair and $2700-$3000 for the TPLO... I'm not a tough guy but I could lose it right now. A co-worker recommended her vet. Says they're very,very good and very inexpensive. Set an appointment for Saturday morning to see what they say. Off the cuff, she said $375 per knee.... Sounds too good to be true but my co-worker says he's the type of vet that's in it for the love of animals, not the $$$$$.

Last year, Harry had a "fatty tumor" that was nearly the size of my fist on his stomach. We first noticed it in 2004 and it was tiny. It had grown over 3 years. His vet since I got him dismissed it as: "Just a fatty tumor. Nothing to worry about." I didn't like that answer so I took him to another vet. He said fatty or not, it has to come out. The following week, he removed the "fatty tumor", neutered, cleaned his teeth and ears - $1200.00 He found a "smaller tumor that concerns me" under the fatty one. I wanted to punch the original vet in the mouth. Sent it for biopsy - all was clear. Hopefully, the vet that my co-worker is recommending is a "real" vet as well.....
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:01 PM
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I had a colleague who faced a similar decision. $15k and about 2 yrs later the dog died.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:08 PM
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What is the love and devotion the dog gives you worth?
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aklim View Post
What is the love and devotion the dog gives you worth?
He's my 3rd cocker spaniel since I was 8. If you're a pet owner, you'll know what the answer is...
I'd spend every penny I've got if it means a normal life after recovery...
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdvisorGuy View Post
He's my 3rd cocker spaniel since I was 8. If you're a pet owner, you'll know what the answer is...
I'd spend every penny I've got if it means a normal life after recovery...
I had to make a similar decision a few years back with my beloved Akita. If you are looking for support to NOT have the surgery done, then you have MY SUPPORT.

These are hard times and when money is short sometimes you have to m,ake tough decisions.

Let me offer you another perspective that will help you with your deicison (maybe).

If we were living 100 years ago and your beloved dog was a farm dog, you would take him out back and personally put him out of his misery. The only thing that has changed is that now vets can perform certain procedures - at a cost.

Before you decide one way or the otehr, have you looked around for vets that perform this work free of charge or for a reduced cost? You may waant to check at the local shelter for a referral.

Ultimately, however, if the only way to perform the procedure is to go deeper into debt then perhaps now is the time to say good bye to your dog.

good luck. I know this is not easy.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdvisorGuy View Post
I'd spend every penny I've got if it means a normal life after recovery...
Then what you need to do is clear. As we said before, a dog is love an loyalty that money CAN buy.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:54 PM
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This whole thread brings tears to my eyes, and that rarely ever happens. My Molly is only 3.5 years and I hope for many more years with her.

My only advice is talk to the vet. Tell him your situation, bring the tears to your eyes, cry out loud if you have too. Do whatever it takes. If he's a compassionate kind of guy, he'll work something out for you. If not, don't give up, try someone else.

Heartbreaking decision time - dog related....-benzmolly-005.jpg

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