09 November 2010

Indulge your inner monkey while you can

We have a number of pet names for T2, which I think is not uncommon among those of us who are dog obsessed. I will not share here most of those little terms of endearment in the event that you actually know us. The next time we meet for dinner, I don't want you to have to think of the ridiculous things we call our dogs in the privacy of our home. (You're welcome.)

One pet name that is not the least bit embarrassing, though, is Little Monkey. Though occasionally we use the term with Toni, it really doesn't suit her in the least. She's just not really the monkey sort. For one thing, she's far too large to be monkey-ish. (The Giant Bull might be closer to it.) Her lack of playfulness is also ill-suited to the name. To be honest, she's really more the straight man to Téa's monkey. This is just fine with Toni, whose sense of humor tends to be quite dry, at any rate. 

Téa is also not shy

Téa, on the other hand, is ridiculously monkey-ish. Téa will treat a de-stuffed squeaky toy as if it is still struggling for its life—tossing, shaking and chasing it across the hardwood as if it may yet escape. When there are no toys available (because Toni is not always a very good sharer), Téa will grab a blanket from her bed and barrel hell-bent from end to end of our condo, blanket stuck between her legs like an antelope carcass, tripping her up every third step. When Toni has had enough of the nonsense, Toni simply steps on the blanket as it goes by, leaving Téa tearing her way across the condo by herself...not that losing the blanket slows her down or even registers with her. Téa is the one who invented couch. She is the one who will fling herself on every smelly spot along the boulevard we walk to roll in its ecstasy-inducing stench. She is the one whose eyes roll back in her head from sheer happiness when given a chance to stretch her legs in a full-out run.

So it was both surprising and kind of heart-breaking when we went to the vet recently to investigate a little limp and soreness that Téa had developed. I figured we would be there for 15 minutes, pick up a prescription to help a strained muscle and promise to stick to a low energy schedule for the week. But when she actually cowered as the doctor tried to stretch out the troublesome leg, we decided to take it a little further. "Just to be sure," we decided to do an x-ray...probably nothing. When they sent Toni and me home so they could sedate Téa, whose leg was too sore to properly stretch out for an x-ray, I had a hard time telling who was more upset that we went home without her: Toni or me. 

About five hours later I was looking at an x-ray of her little hips. They're bad. Given her age (three-ish), her size (around 50 pounds) and the fact that I almost thought I was imagining the limp that got us to the vet in the first place, I was shocked at how nasty the dysplasia looks already. I'm no expert (yet), but when I compared the handout they gave me (and later the 9,000 images I found online) to Téa's actual hips...well, they're bad. I'd rather the have hips in the handout than the ones in the x-ray. 

We know this is not uncommon. We know we didn't do anything that allowed this to happen. We even know that the irritatingly irresponsible person who had Téa before dumping her at Animal Control didn't actually contribute to this particular issue. We know our options and know that we'll have good advice when it's time to consider them. All in all, we're in pretty good shape considering the unfortunate news we were given about the little monkey.

Still. We're a little less rough and tumble with her now. We take things in the yard and on the stairs more slowly. When T2 play couch, we make sure that Toni is always "it," though that's her preferred role anyway. But it makes me sad that we do—I don't want to take the monkey out of her in the hopes of keeping her hips in shape. Téa with no monkey in her...well, it would practically not be Téa at all.

I guess that's where I need to learn to take my cue from Téa: enjoy whatever it is 100 percent—a blanket, a run across the yard, a bit of smelly grass. Indulge your inner monkey while you can.


  1. So sorry to hear this. Is it dramatically effecting her life now, or is it more of a future thing? We had this terrible problem a couple of years ago and after a ton of testing they found out Miss M has kidney's that are really made for a 30 lb dog--she's a whooping 75 pounds. Despite all the terrible things we thought, Miss M has been totally fine and happy. It is good to be careful, but sometimes I think knowing too much is the curse in itself.

  2. Thanks so much. So many of our other issues have been really manageable: Toni's agoraphobia, Téa's thyroid issues. I think the hips are going to be rough, though. Now that we have the (fantastic and fun) yard and stairs (as opposed to elevators), they're getting more wear and tear, and we're seeing more soreness or limping. So glad to hear Miss M's dainty kidney hasn't been a hamper to her!!

  3. D has had knee surgery, so her hopping around with the kong ball days are over :( now we do lesiurely walkies and bowling ball kong throws. Still having fun! Her hips are not great either, but her knee was awful, even after 14 weeks of "rest" ie NO walkies, she still had a significal limp. Thus the surgery.

  4. I just discovered your blog over at Two Pitties in the City. I'm so sorry to read about your pooch's bad hips. That's heartbreaking! But you write with a lot of wisdom: enjoy your inner monkey while you can.