Sasha Weighs In

Alpha mom thought it best that I tell you what’s going on. She thinks she’ll sound too serious.  It’s something about her “voice” in telling the story. I don’t understand this; I like her voice, especially when she’s telling me what a good great dog I am.

Sasha 6
Here I am down by the pond in happier days.


As some of you know, I’ve made my living here with Alpha mom and pop by chasing away the bear, the squirrels, the deer, the chipmunks, and the grasshoppers (those I eat). I do this with equal abandon.  Alpha mom still loves to tell the story of my first bear-off.  You can read about it here.

Alpha mom was never prouder. I know this because I still hear her telling people all the time. It’s becoming a bit embarrassing.

Over the years, we saw fewer and fewer bear and now we haven’t seen any in two years.

I’m equally good with deer, chipmunks, and squirrels. Or was. We’ll be getting more of these critters over the next few years I’m afraid, since I’m no longer allowed to run loose. In fact, I’m not allowed to run at all.

Sasha in snow
Here I am after a deer chasing morning. I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.

It seems the veterinarian has told the Alphas that my Anterior Crucial Ligament (ACL) has torn in half in my right rear knee. And it looks as though my left one isn’t far behind. He says only surgery will help.

Frankly, it doesn’t hurt that much any more. But that’s only because I’m not running any longer.  If I’m outside, I’m tied to a long lead.  Alpha pop takes me for a short walk in the morning and Alpha mom takes me for a longer walk mid morning and mid afternoon.  Then a short one at 9:00 each night.  Then I get my cookie.  But other than that, if the weather is decent, I’m tied up outside, in the sun, with the breeze blowing against my fur. I quite like it actually.

The other vet we went to last week, the one who would do the operation, says it will cost my Alphas nearly $8,000 to fix both knees.  My mom thinks it’s stupid (my word, not hers) to fix only one knee; because then the chances that the left ACL will tear is even greater. So, over $4,000 to fix the right one; and over $3,000 to fix the left one.

I’m actually not crazy about having these operations.  Yes, it’s plural (Alpha pop taught me that word). I’d have to have two and the anesthesia puts a big strain on my heart. I’m nearly seven now, you know.

Then there’s the recuperation. It would last a few weeks — oh my. If you think I’m restricted now!  I couldn’t have my mid morning and mid afternoon walks.

They’ve put me on a diet, too. After I had my first X-rays, I was taking this really strong pain killer that upset my stomach if I didn’t eat first (I’m not really a big eater), so Alpha mom gave me some extra goodies in my food to make sure I ate it all up at one time. Yum. Then there was that cheese she used to take my mid-day pills.  One time she gave me Brie!

Alpha Grandma boiled a chicken and added it to my food that first week. I love chicken! Boiled, fried, roasted, or walking around the yard; I’m not fussy. Alpha G was taking care of me while Alpha mom and pop when to that music camp.  I understand that was a pretty big week for my Alpha mom. But I don’t know all the details.

I’m now off all the extra meds and I think I’m doing pretty well.  Alpha mom worries that she’s not taking good care of me by not getting me this operation, but I tell her not to worry. I really don’t mind being out here on the lead.  The chickens come right up to me now and I still get to jump them if they’re not quick enough.

And we have those great memories of bears.

I wonder if word will get out and they’ll come back.  Hmmmm.  I have a sneaky suspicion that Alpha mom would not mind that at all.


This is one of my favorite poses.
This is one of my favorite poses.


NOTE from Janet:  Sasha is comfortable now, and could well be for many more months. But the nature of this injury is such that it will get worse no matter how quiet we keep her — even if she were a city dog, walked quietly on a leash only. The orthopedic veterinarian recommends we do the operation before these tears get too bad to repair — a few months, tops.  But, for a number of reasons, I find myself quite ambivalent. There are strong pulls in both directions.

So, I’m thinking of starting a Kickstarter campaign. If we averaged $25 from 200 of my social media friends, we’d have $5,000, enough for us to schedule the operations and cover the difference.  And perhaps we’d raise the full amount. What do you think? Would it work? Would you kick in? Would you have the operations if she were your dog? 


24 Responses

  1. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    I read this aloud to Mungo, so the comments that follow are his.
    “Oh Sasha, you poor thing. Having torn ligaments can be nasty and if you don’t get anything done about them you could find even chasing chookies is impossible in a short while. And you’re so young! I’ve at least managed to get to thirteen without anything serious like that, and i’m still able to put the skids under next door’s pesky cats and the few squirrels that haven’t learned I live here.
    Still, I’ glad your humans are taking this seriously, but don’t they have insurance for you? Mine do, and with the few complaints I’ve had over the years it has more than paid for itself. Anyway, I hope they get the ops organised very soon and get you mended. It’ll be worth a few weeks idleness to get healed, then you’ll be fit for bears and all comers once again.
    Just make sure your Alpha Mom doesn’t get too fond of the long lead. If she does you may have to chew through it.
    Good luck.”

  2. Carolyn
    | Reply

    Well, Sasha,
    It’s good to know you are such a brave dog and making do with less runs than before. You’re only young still and I’m sure you would do well after such a big operation.
    I’m glad you are such a great bear chaser. My Siamese used to beat up big dogs and frightened the local foxes – I think she might have had a go at a bear too.
    Wishing you well and warming your ears in the sun.

  3. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Janet, this is a tough one. We have spent thousands of dollars on sick cats, but not as much as you’re facing. At the same time, you don’t want Sasha to get worse. Poor Sasha!

    Good luck with whatever you decide. Sending you and Sasha hugs.

  4. Mildred LaBeur
    | Reply

    Alpha-Gramma is a very special title! I really miss your frequent visits at my door. Having you stop by for a drink and cookie was a highlight in my day. Now, when you visit, Alpha-Mom is with you and that’s makes it a double treat. Sometimes we have a drink and cookie, too.
    Sasha Dog, whatever decision your Alphas make for you will be good with me. I know your comfort and well-being is top priority for them, as it is with me.

  5. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — Huge animal companion fans, we’ve always had dogs as part of our family. Through the years there have been a few medical traumas that if it weren’t for pet insurance would have flattened our checkbook.

    I wish you well as you make this difficult decision.

  6. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I like how your post and comments mix ~ that’s the magic of blogging. Ian’s especially is a hoot!

    My heart goes out to you as you move forward one way or another . . .

  7. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Thanks everyone. I appreciate your thoughts and good wishes.

  8. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Thanks for the update, Sasha. You are handling this with such grace. Janet, my heart goes out to you. I say go for the Kickstarter campaign. I would contribute.

  9. Joan Z. Rough
    | Reply

    This a tough one, Janet and I don’t envy you having to make a decision. With my own dogs I look at how invasive surgery would be and whether good results would be lasting. My Sam is fourteen and has had food allergies all of his life leading to all sorts of other problems. We now have him stabilized and on a diet that suits him to a tee. But he is not as sharp as he once was, and sleeps most of the time. We have decided not to put him through any more surgeries, or invasive treatments. When he no longer wants to go for a walk, stops wagging his tail, and is obviously not happy we’ll let him go. We’ve lost numerous dogs in the past and it is one of the most painful things in the world.

  10. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Janet – sorry you’re having to deal with this. I wish I could offer you some good advice, but I cannot. It’s such a difficult choice, and a very personal one. I would be happy to chip in on a kickstarter, though, if you choose to pursue that option. My best to you and Sasha. – T

  11. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    I’m gratified by the support for my Kickstarter idea. But first, I continue my education on options. I’m learning about the conservative management movement, holistic canine joint mobility, prolo-therapy, adequan injections, and the fact that the UPENN Vet school never does these TPLO surgeries. I may call them this coming week to hear this for myself. So, I’m building up quite a list of questions for the two vets I’m dealing with.

    One thing that stays consistent is the idea of keeping Sasha restricted: no jumping (e.g., welcoming guests, snuggling with me on the sofa, and getting into the car) and no more extended walks. There is good evidence for using massage to help increase blood flow and relax muscles, and there is both physical therapy and chiropractic professionals available for dogs. I’ve discovered a whole world out there dedicated to keeping pets happy and healthy! Something I had never given much thought to. In fact, pet care is a $60 billion (a year) industry!

    But please stay tuned. If we decide the TPLO path is the best option, the only way we would do it is with a Kickstarter or GoFundMe campaign. That in itself is a huge decision.

  12. Susan Taylor
    | Reply

    I just saw this Janet and Sasha. I know that you are researching many options and will figure out what IS best to do. As far as the fundraiser, YES, go for it and YES I will contribute.

  13. Nancy Buck
    | Reply

    It is tough figuring out the best paths to take when making medical choices for our companion animals. I would look at the $8000 as an investment in a another good ( hopefully) 7 to 8 years of bear chasing, long walks, snuggling with the Alphas and those yummy cookies. That breaks down to maybe $90/month investment going forward. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend my money. Start that fund up and I’ll bet you have all you’ll need before you know it. I will happily contribute to such a worthy and special cause. Wishing the Alphas and Sasha the best no matter what path is followed.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you Nancy. Old friend. That means a lot.

  14. Terry Bryan
    | Reply

    Suck it up and get those legs fixed. Andy had both back legs done with much success and enjoyed long walks again. We were quite happy with his results. Getting a dog is like getting married…in sickness and in health…for better or for worse…

    • Ian Mathie
      | Reply

      The obligation is more serious with a dog. You cant tell it to bugger off and look after itself like you can with a spouse. (I wouldn’t recommend that with a spouse either but it can be done). Doggy divorce is not a option, you have to look after it.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      The weight difference is substantial, I’m advised. Particularly during recuperation. Be assured, Terry, I’ve got Sasha’s long term best interests in mind.

  15. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Unfortunately, Ian, the “bugger off” route is all too common with dog owners too, as can be seen in too many college towns as spring semesters end.

    My dilemma of late is more of the “who do I listen to” brand. What is the best route to follow? I’m reminded of Merlin, our greyhound. He presented with a broken pinky toe after we’d had him only a few weeks. (A visitor stepped on it). The vet and the ortho vet were suggesting everything from a splint (which didn’t work after acres weeks trial) to amputation. We had pet insurance at the time, so the cost was not the issue it is now. I finally called the rescue group where we’d gotten him. They said, “these things happen all the time on the track. Don’t do anything; it’ll take care of itself,”. Sure enough, it did. He continued to love to run for another ten years. I can’t seem to shake the “give a man a hammer, everything becomes a nail” adage.

    And there’s the cultural piece. That our pets have become like children to us (or spouses) is cultural, indeed. It’s exactly why this is a pertinent topic for my blog. More to write about.

  16. Roberta Aber
    | Reply

    I met Sasha recently and saw her in pain. She’s a beautiful girl and a great companion to everyone in the household including the chickens. I’m sure you will make the right decision about a course of action, Janet. Should you decide for surgery, I will certainly make a contribution to her GoFundMe campaign.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you, Roberta. We’ve got a phone consult with the vet this afternoon. I’ll keep you and everyone posted.

  17. […] that TPLO surgery I had last fall?  I wrote about it in  Sasha Weighs In.  Then Alpha Mom wrote the update called, not very creatively, An Update On Sasha. I thought her […]

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