Step by step, her beagle got better, thanks to the miracle of modern vet medicine

·3 min read

Has veterinarian care drastically changed or have pet owners? I ask myself this question every time I take my dogs in for a teeth cleaning. It’s my husband who initiates this thought process with his statement of, “Dog dentistry? Do you once remember your family dog getting their teeth cleaned back in the day? You know besides chewing a toothbrush.”

Short answer: no. I grew up with dogs that were spoiled and beloved and yet the only things I recall in terms of vet care were rabies shots and heartworm pills. That said, it makes sense that as human medical treatment has progressed, so has animal care. A lot.

I say a lot because I now have a beagle who is bionic. Not “Six Million Dollar Man” bionic, but squarely in the category of bionic adjacent.

My beagle’s journey to bionic territory began about two years ago when I started to notice that he was having some slight mobility issues from no longer being able to jump on the couch to being more cautious when climbing stairs.

Even after veterinarian intervention, my dog, Tahoe, was ever so slowly getting worse until the day came when I was told that he needed to see an orthopedic vet.

This freaked me out a little but off I went where I received some shocking news: both of our beagle’s back legs were, in non-veterinarian terms, a hot mess. He had the equivalent of two torn ACLs. Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgery was highly recommended.

Once my brain partially recovered from hearing about the cost of the surgery, my thought process moved on to thinking that it was odd that the vet was so focused on telling me about how having a dog recovering from double surgery would be life changing for my husband and me.

I was thinking yes, if all goes well it will be life changing to have a dog with his “joint biomechanics restored.” But this wasn’t exactly what the vet was talking about. He was adamant about letting me know that for weeks after the dog’s surgery our lives were going to change — and not exactly in a good way.

Pre-surgery, my initial thoughts were that the vet was a full-fledged drama queen. After the surgery, that thought process changed to, “Why didn’t I listen more intently when I was being told that I was going to be operating a post-op ward.” I was wearing rubber gloves to change fentanyl patches, icing down limbs, and I mastered the art of shoving pills halfway down my dog’s esophagus.

It was 24-hour nursing care. Someone had to be with the dog at all times. I even aggravated my carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive petting in an attempt to get Tahoe to not have a nervous breakdown over wearing a cone.

It got so bad my son came over one afternoon, looked at our family room and asked if it was a “dog hospice.”

Very slowly Tahoe got better. Now three months and counting later, he’s like a new dog. The things he can do even surprise him. The first time he climbed the stairs again he kept on looking over his shoulder at me. It was as if he was saying, “Are you seeing this? Like this is really happening right now.”

It’s truly something to behold and a testament to the wonders of veterinary science. My only problem now is getting my husband to stop amortizing the amount the surgery cost in relation to how many stairs our dog now wants to climb.

Reach Sherry Kuehl at, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs on Instagram, and

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