Marty’s photos of the day #4575: Nellie is not ready to play with the big stick yet, but yesterday was a significant day in her recovery from TPLO surgery (Doggie Tommy John) on her left rear leg. Early in the morning, Nellie and I traveled to Missoula to get the staples taken out of her leg. There were about 30 staples holding her incision together, and while the removal process didn’t seem to hurt Nellie, after the first 5 staples she was done. Removing the rest took the vet, a vet’s assistant, and me to hold her down. It’s amazing how strong Nellie is at just 60 pounds!

The veterinarian was pleased with how well the incision has healed and gave his okay to move Nellie a little further ahead than normal in her 12 week recovery period. That meant that Deb and I can now take Nellie on 15-minute leash walks.

For as long as we’ve been married, Deb and I have gone on walks every evening. When we stopped that for Nellie’s benefit, we both grew a little stir-crazy. Eventually we missed the walks too much, and started sneaking out of the house, one at a time—so Nellie wouldn’t know what we were doing—and meeting up outside. We felt like teenagers sneaking out of the house after our parents went to sleep.

So yesterday we all got to walk together through the forest again. It was awesome!

The other big development is that Nellie no longer has to wear a cone at night to prevent her from licking her surgery incision. While Nellie is obviously happy about that, no one is happier than me. That’s because Nellie would wake me up 3 or 4 times a night by standing up and shaking her cone to make it rattle. Then I’d get dressed, temporarily remove her cone, and take her for short middle-of-the-night walks through the forest, so she could go to the bathroom. I was getting such little sleep that I was practically mainlining caffeine to function during the day.

Last night—her first without the cone—we only got up once. So I feel much better today, and am functioning on a single cup of coffee. Eventually Nellie will be back to sleeping through the night, but I think the pain meds and everything else involved with the surgery has temporarily fucked up her digestive tract.

We are all still sleeping on the floor of the great room (on a pullout couch mattress), but that’s the next step. The vet said that in 3 or 4 more weeks Nellie will be able to climb stairs. That will allow us to move back up to our third floor bedroom. At that point, Nellie still won’t be able to jump into our bed, so we’ll still have to sleep on the floor, but at least it will be our king-sized bed mattress and not the pullout couch mattress.

As long as we keep moving forward, these increments of progress make it all worth it.