This week, my husband, Sophie the Newfoundland and I are going to Columbus, Ohio so my dog can have a hip replacement surgery. This is a trip that will last from Tuesday through Friday, so my friend has taken to calling it a “surgication” – Sophie has surgery while we try to have a vacation.
Whether to replace her hip was a hard decision but because of her age (14 months) we eventually decided that she would have the opportunity to live a normal life and one, hopefully, without great pain. As a dog trainer, I am really interested to see how this surgery changes her. I didn’t used to think much about whether my dogs might be in pain but Sophie’s diagnosis has made me more conscious of this possibility. A dog that is in pain can exhibit lots of behaviors. They often don ‘t like to be touched a lot and they can exhibit new signs of aggressiveness. They may also avoid other dogs and people and have a reluctance to play. Sophie is almost always grouchy at night, and I suspect it is because she is sore after a long day.
The difference with Sophie and most dogs is that Sophie has probably been in pain since she was very young. Dogs generally have pain because of age or an injury. In those cases, you can tell when there’s a behavioral change. However when a dog has grown up with pain, I think there is a good chance that following surgery, I might get dog who exhibits a whole new set of behaviors (all hopefully good). It will be a while until we know, but stay tuned.