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Suddenly, surgery

Oh gosh, I’ve done it again, not blogged for ages, and there’s LOADS to tell you. Some good, some bad. Plus I’ve learned two new words – pancarpal arthrodesis – not something I ever wanted to know about if I’m honest.

Expect a flurry of blogs from me over the next few days as I update you. And I’ll start with the first – the most gut-wrenching of all.

Somehow, we have got into a really serious situation with our sweet pup, Foxy.

Seriously, I can’t believe it’s not long since I wrote that blog about her being amazing, and now here we are. How bizarre how fast life can change.

Today we collected her from the vets after really serious, life-changing surgery. And I have no idea how we have got to this.

Fox has been ever so slightly limpy for ages, mostly after a good run. Our trainer noticed it and eventually I took her to the vet. They did x-rays in March which came back clear, but they referred us to specialists as she was obviously sore. We went in May, and the vet diagnosed arthritis in both front legs, which was a bit gutting, but didn’t seem too serious. At that time she wasn’t as bad as she had been a few weeks previously, so we agreed I would get back in touch when it flared up again.

So, on our second visit in July, things were a bit more serious. By then I had noticed that her legs seemed to be slightly over-bending, and the lower part of her left leg was pointing to the left slightly. When he explained that due to the arthritis, the ligaments at the back of the carpal, or wrist, joints were lengthening and would eventually leave her with the joints almost touching the floor, things started to get a bit darker.

And since then, they’ve continued to get worse. Like, really really bad, really really quickly.

So bad that the conversation that briefly mentioned surgery at some point in the future became a conversation about when. And then it became a conversation about doing it really quickly, because her walks have been so restricted these past few weeks, with her clearly suffering pain at each step, that we had to question her very quality of life.

And so yesterday Fox had ‘salvage surgery’. A procedure called a pancarpal arthrodesis. Her left front leg has been fused permanently straight by a metal plate fixed to her leg by nine metal screws. It will leave her able to walk but she won’t be able to bend it.

It is drastic, terrifying, life-changing surgery, potentially altering forever her ability to run and enjoy her life as she has done these past three years.

But the source of the pain – the joint – has now been removed, so hopefully all the pain that came with it has gone.

As with any time an animal undergoes surgery, it’s all a bit horrific. Choosing to put your animal under a painful procedure is really hard, this would be so much easier if it was emergency surgery in response to an accident or injury.

This dog means everything to me. I have cried buckets of tears in the past few days.

I am so hoping we have done the right thing. I guess only the next few days and weeks will tell us.

Foxy in the car this afternoon on our way home from the vets after her carpal arthrodesis surgery


My perfect pup

I don’t want to make you jealous, but I have the perfect dog. And she came into my life three years ago today!

This is Fox. I know, howwwwww gorgeous????!!

She’s not only cute, she helped me recover from one of the toughest things I’ve ever experienced. But she nearly didn’t come along at all.

When I met D he already had Sam, a gorgeous German Shepherd. He was such a sweet dog, and within about three weeks of me and D being together he was my dog (ie, he went from looking past me at D to looking past D at me).

As Sam got older we wondered whether to take on a younger dog, and spent a long time looking through different pet pages and sites. Then, in July 2015 I was really struggling on a busy, badly-run TV production. I was completely stressed, so stressed I could only breathe properly if I pushed down on the top of my ribs.

Driving home one night feeling completely exhausted, I felt really ill and looking in the car mirror was awful – the left hand side of my face had slumped. I somehow made it home, staggered in and D called an ambulance. I waited, gripping the sofa with my right hand, feeling that I was going to fall off at any moment. The ambulance took me straight into hospital.

At some point over the next few hours my face righted itself, so the episode was put down to a severe anxiety attack, possibly Bells Palsy. I felt weak, drained and frightened, and took the next day, Friday, to recover. On Saturday I allowed myself to think about work and the panic came over me again, that was when I realised I couldn’t go back to work and had to try to work out what to do with my life.

On the Sunday, I saw her. I was sitting on the sofa trawling the internet, and for some reason I kept on going further back, scrolling down the Facebook page far further than I normally would. And then I saw her, an 18-week-old lurcher pup, ginger and white. I didn’t really know what a lurcher was, but I said to D ‘she’s lovely’. And messaged the owner, eventually agreeing to go get her the next day. And then I realised, she would be at the top of the posting and someone else would see her.

We were back home with her a few hours later, and everything started to get better. Recovery took a long time, it was months before I felt completely back to normal, but Fox combined with our move across the country helped. Having a puppy means you meet people, often apologising to them, but Fox was so friendly and loved to play so much with other dogs that everyone else loved her too.

And somehow, that was all three years ago! Back then I could not have dreamed of some of what we have achieved. But Fox has been the inspiration all the way through it. So many times I turn to her and tell her “It’s all for you”. And it is.

Lurchers are such funny, characterful dogs. They love to zoom – literally, running and spinning for no reason other than the love of being alive and moving. They have a strong chase instinct, heading for anything that moves, but Fox is pretty good, basically just wanting to please, so she rarely runs off any distance. And then she sleeps, so much, roaching out across the bed, long legs high in the sky and boy contorted in the strangest positions.

The famous lurcher roach

Yet there is so much more. You have to have a why, a reason to keep you focused and moving forward. I am so lucky that Fox came along to be my why.

I heard of a concept called a Gateway Dog. This is a dog that introduces you to a new reality and opens your mind. For me Fox has been my Gateway Dog. Through her I have done so much and met so many amazing people.

I truly have the perfect pup and I’m so grateful, and as of today she has been mine for three whopping, amazing, fantastic, love-filled years. Thank you so much for this perfect pup!

On top of the fells… Fox Eye View <3