Doggie Rehab

Bo is our English Mastiff, weighing in at something like a hundred and forty pounds and standing nearly three feet at the shoulder. He's really more like a cross between a small pony and a newborn moose than a dog, and our house isn't quite big enough for him: he regularly lifts up tables simply by crossing underneath them, struggles to back out of corners he's too big to turn around in, and dominates the kitchen floor by stretching across the length of it when we are there preparing meals. Still, he's a sweet fella, with his gentle, slightly worried expression and baseball-mitt paws, and while he could easily crush most anything that might come into his path, he isn't likely to use his size in any way other than to (quite accidentally) intimidate those who come his way.

So our sweet Bo -- and may I just interject here that my husband did not want to spell the name B-e-a-u, the French (and clearly more beautiful) way, causing me to suffer the indignity of saying the initials for Body Odor every time I call for an appointment with the vet --- so our sweet B.O. is currently undergoing rehabilitation after a torn knee ligament required TPLO surgery, which is a serious kind of procedure involving metal plates and bone reconstruction. This is the first of TWO such procedures, as he is the victim of "poor knee genes", according to our vet and verified by some disconcerting x-rays; this means he will have to undergo the same surgery on the other knee six months from now. by which time I hope to have sufficiently recovered, myself, because as anyone who has nursed a dog through a medical procedure of this nature knows, it ain't easy. There is the nearly incessant tending: monitoring, medicating, lifting, protecting, and all the other -ings that make the healing happen on schedule.

For his part, Bo has been a remarkably stoic and (mostly) cooperative patient, allowing Linus, his low-slung Corgi sibling, and the neighbor dog Bucky to run circles around him out in the yard as he stays tethered in place, dolefully following their antics with his droopy Mastiff eyes. He was compliant about taking his meds -- meted out in quantities that border on the absurd, at an equally absurd price -- and wore the canine Elizabethan Collar/ Cone of Shame with good-natured resignation for a full two weeks in service of healing the stitches on his poor, genetically inferior knee.

This might be a good time to bring up the fact that our family has had some bad dog luck over the past few years, which makes me believe that we must now be due for a reversal in these fortunes, which in turn makes me perhaps unrealistically optimistic about all things Bo. After all, my reasoning goes, it wouldn't be possible for the same family to have owned a year-old dog who developed a fatal spinal disease followed by a five month old puppy who took a flying leap off of a rooftop garden followed by an innocent young bulldog stricken with cancer to have yet another dog-related heartbreak. Statistically, it seems highly unlikely, so surely Bo and -- double sets of fingers crossed here -- Linus are  destined to break this terrible streak of sadness. 

But for now we are only heading into the home stretch of the house arrest phase of his recovery,. Soon he will be able to go for (slow) walks around the block and eventually work his way up to gamboling along the river that runs alongside the nearby golf course, off-leash. My husband will be happy, as he misses the long walks more than Bo does, having been in the habit of daily dog walking for the past few decades. He's like the postman: "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night can keep him from his appointed rounds" and he's been rather lost without that routine. I think I've overheard him  letting out long, wistful sighs as he stands by the door, fingering the leash and gazing toward the sidewalk..."Soon..," I hear him muttering to himself, "Soon..."

The only upside to the emotional, physical and financial demands of this whole doggie rehab thing is that the required extra care and tenderness directed toward our Bobo has made him even more precious to us, and has reminded us that he is worth every bit of it whatever it is we have to do for his giant, gentle self. Let's just hope I can hold on to that thought next spring, when the time for surgery number two rolls around. Meantime, he is still one of our top models at The Loyal Dog, where all dogs great and small, healthy and still healing, are camera-worthy.