During a camping trip last August, I realized Sky was injured. She’d been moving a bit slowly before the trip, whimpering after a hard romp at the park, but I thought it was arthritis given her age (nearly 8 at the time). When we got back into town, I took her to the vet and found out she had torn the canine equivalent of a human’s ACL in her left rear leg.
The surgeries were expensive, roughly $4,200 per knee. I’m still heart warmed that so many people stepped forward to cover the cost of surgery. Aside from the financial cost, our household dynamics changed. I didn’t sleep in my bed for seven months, needing to sleep close to her so she would relax and give up her nightly vigils watching over me.
The first two weeks were beyond hard and the next four months were rough on all of Wildlands’ creatures. Sully was a good guardian for his dog Mama Sky; he stuck close to her and kept her company. For four months, Sky couldn’t have more than a few inches of elevation change, so I used a sling to help her go up and down stairs. She couldn’t jump or bounce – and she’s a bouncy girl. She couldn’t hop onto the sofa or the bed.
In late December, Sky received the all clear from the vet. In mid-January, she began to whimper and drag her right leg. The vet confirmed her right knee’s ACL was torn through. Okay. Round two – we got this. We know the drill.
Or so I thought.
Miss Bounce A Lot took her recovery less serious this time around. Within a month, I came home to find her sleeping on the sofa. She’d pulled a large, empty cardboard box off the sofa (meant to keep her off the sofa), and climbed right on up. After her initial vet visit, we all concluded perhaps her right knee was already tearing when she tore her left one straight through in August. Her spirits were higher and she met milestones far more quickly. The worry was gone from her face.
Two weekends ago, a friend and I took Sky to Bolinas Beach. The trip was a little stressful for me as it had so many firsts for her. The first time she’d gotten in and out of the Jeep on her own. The first time she’d been in the water since her surgeries. The first time I’d had her out in public with a lot of people and other dogs running around. Sure, we go to the neighborhood park to walk every night, but it’s more of a controlled environment with mostly folks and dogs we know.
We had a great day. We took it slow, but we had a blast body surfing. People came by to say hello to her; two surfers came over to pet her and say how much they loved seeing a dog body surf. Towards the one who wanted to pet her, she acted a bit shy, but eventually his kindness won her over.
The healing for this type of injury isn’t exactly progressive. For the first 12 weeks in particular, one hop, jump, slip, or fall can undo the surgery, pushing the plate and screws out of place. So, sitting on the beach, I shed a few tears when no one was watching. I was finally able to let out the breath I’d been holding for 10 months. She was OK.
Towards the late afternoon, we moved down the beach and into a little alcove behind an eroding sea wall. Sky was tired and shivering a little bit, so I covered her with a towel and she fell fast asleep.
This pup is my protector, clown, mischief maker, and Sully wrangler. I don’t know if she’ll live as long as Siddhartha (who is 15), but I know even at almost 9 years old, her light shines bright. Her surgeries were worth every penny and sleepless night just so I see this again.
Sky at the neighborhood park in early June. I love how she stopped rolling to go greet one of her favorite humans.
Life is good.