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JUST BREW IT: Caring for Daisy after surgery has been no bed of roses

Friday, Apr. 11 | By Peter Brewington
Peter Brewington's happy greyhound Daisy will turn 12 this fall. She's recovering from surgery right now.
Has anyone out there ever had to care for their senior dog after surgery?

It's a real nursing assignment.

Our greyhound Daisy had a cancerous tumor removed from just above her front left leg recently, and while the operation and recovery have generally gone well, there's been an ample amount of drama.

Limping, yelping, oozing blood from the 30-plus sutures, trying to get three kinds of pills (painkiller, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic) down her, you name it.

And those were just the early issues.

In fact, her first day home was so bad we wondered if we'd made a mistake doing the surgery. She would not put any weight on her left leg, dragging it like pendulum, and barely moving.

We slept on the first floor with her because she could not handle stairs, and was so forlorn-looking from the traumatic procedure.

She got better after three days and seemed less worrisome after about five. Then we had another setback when her urine turned the color of watered down coffee.

Fearing liver or kidney problems, we rushed her back to the vet, who dismissed it as a byproduct of having the anesthesia and being immobilized.

That problem resolved on its own a few days later, thankfully.

Since then her wounds have been bleeding along the long seven-inch incision line. Another trip back to the vet!

We were told the oozing and continued bleeding is necessary because of all the swelling that built up in her shoulder. The pressure needs to be released, and the sutures are popping because of the tension. However, there are two other layers of stitches below the surface, so those should hold her insides, well, inside.

So where are we now, 12 days after surgery? I believe the healing is continuing and that the wounds are following their natural course of recovery. While the lump may grow back, perhaps in a year or maybe two if we’re lucky, I feel we made the right decision to have the surgery.

When you've enjoyed your dog as long as we have – it's been almost nine years with Daisy – you want to try to eke out a few more years at the end of road.

Besides her sweet personality and lovable face (how can anyone not love a greyhound's face?), having an athletic speed merchant of a dog has been exciting.

We've let her loose on a contained softball field to show off. She could race around those bases three times faster than Nationals center fielder Denard Span.

Always a sociable girl, and still filled with plenty of energy, Daisy was so happy right up to the point of the surgery. That's what made the decision to remove the tumor so tough.

We didn't really want to do it (preferring to adopt a strategy called benign neglect), but we could see the spindle cell sarcoma growing from a small bubble of fluid into a harder mass the size of a fist. It doubled in size in less than two months.

We got a second opinion and went for surgery.

Losing a family dog can be one of the most sad occurrences I can imagine. Growing up, we had a small wire-haired fox terrier that was sort of cute in the beginning, but began to terrorize the neighborhood, and sometimes bite people when she got out.

Losing Lightning in the end was not as sad as you might imagine.

With Daisy it will be tough.

She's been an adorable, playful, happy companion.

We're hoping for two more years.

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