Maple’s TPLO Recovery – Day One

The Injury

In addition to my own two dogs, I periodically foster for the west coast Malinois rescue, Woof Project Rescue. Last Saturday, I was to pick up my newest rescue, Maple, from the transport company that had brought her north from California. 

Maple had been living in a county animal shelter for three months, following the unexpected death of her owner. When her time was up there, they reached out to Woof Project, who then pulled her and made arrangements to get her to a foster home – me. 

I’ve written about what follows in a previous post, but I’ll recap briefly.

I got Maple home at about 9:30 Saturday morning. The first thing I did was let her out into my backyard, because it had been a long trip for her and I figured she probably needed to potty. 

She sniffed around briefly, and then started zooming around enthusiastically, apparently excited about her newfound freedom. 

A second later, she yelped and skidded to a stop, holding her right hind leg up off the ground, her tail tucked between her legs. 

I’ve never said the word “fuck” so many times in a row in my life. 

I was 99% sure she had just ruptured a CCL. 

I hoped I was wrong, of course.

I got her inside (still on three legs) and into a crate, and sent a message to the foster coordinator for the rescue while I let my two dogs out. 

We agreed to give her a couple of hours to chill in the crate, then check. If she was still limping or non-weight-bearing, I would get her in to the vet. 

Sure enough, two hours later, still completely non-weight-bearing. 


So off to the vet we went, where it took not two minutes to confirm my suspicions – complete rupture of the right CCL. She would require a TPLO.


I got her booked for a surgical consult at the new specialty/emergency vet clinic in town on Wednesday. I believe this place has only been open for about six months or so, and it is absolutely gorgeous. They have beer and kombucha on tap in the lobby for the clients – very PNW of them. 

IPA on tap in the clinic lobby

It only took the surgeon a couple of minutes to re-confirm that Maple would be needing a TPLO. And though he would need x-rays, given Maple’s fear of people, he opted to leave the x-rays until she was put under for surgery to spare her the additional stress. He worked up an itemized quote, went over it with me thoroughly, and then we discussed scheduling. 

I was obviously wanting to get her in ASAP, but the surgery was going to be costly, and I didn’t know what kind of timeline the rescue was going to have to look at. I sent the coordinator a message and she told me to book it for the next day – a huge sigh of relief from me. 

The Surgery

So, the next morning, I took Maple back to the clinic for surgery. 

I dropped her off at 7:30am. At 10:30am, the tech on her case called to let me know that surgery had started. Two hours later, I received a call from the surgeon, letting me know that the surgery had gone smoothly and that Maple as beginning to wake up. Assuming everything went okay overnight, I would be able to pick her up the next morning. 

I did call the clinic again at about 8:00pm that night, just to see how she was doing, and was told she was doing well. Thank goodness.

I felt like I had been holding my breath all day. 

Maple’s post-op x-rays.

The next morning, the tech on Maple’s case called to let me know that they were ready to schedule a go-home appointment. We agreed I’d be there at 10:00am, and I hustled to get things set up for Maple’s return to the house.

At about 9:50am, I arrived at the clinic, where I went over all of the charges for the surgery. I’m not going to go into exact numbers here, but the original quote for the surgery had been ~$3500, and the total had come in several hundred over the high-end of that estimate. This happens, of course, but yikes!

After that was all settled, I was taken into an exam room where the tech went over several pages of care instructions for Maple, as well as all of the medications that she would be on.

She also warned me that Maple hated her cone and had already managed to remove it twice. Something to keep an eye on. 

Then the surgeon came in and went over the surgery and x-rays with me. And then we got to go home!

Picking Maple up after surgery

Road to Recovery

We got home, and Maple made it clear she wanted nothing more than to head straight to her crate in the living room. The techs had told me that she had been pretty stressed out by the clinic overnight, and that she would likely sleep pretty hard once we got home. They weren’t wrong – she crashed as soon as we got home and didn’t move a muscle for several hours.

Happy to be back in her crate at home

Maple has to be walked on-leash and with a sling to help support her hind end when she goes potty. Fortunately, she’s been very amenable to all of this, though she still hates her cone. Not that any of that makes walks any less terrifying for me – I’m anxious every second she’s out of her crate, absolutely terrified that a mis-step will result in some horrible outcome. It’s going to be a long twelve weeks…

Not a fan of her cone

Maple slept for most of the day, but come evening, she was having a hard time getting comfortable. Come about 8:00pm, she was trying to turn around in her crate and the cone kept getting stuck on the bars. We obviously can’t have that, so it was off to Petco for a bigger crate and some new crate pads. Thank goodness they stay open until 9.

A brief note about the crate pads…these were a source of great deliberation for me. I’m probably overthinking this, but I needed them to be cushy enough to be comfortable, while at the same time, not being so soft that they made it difficult for Maple to stabilize herself on one leg. I ended up opting for two thinnish memory foam pads stacked on top of each other. It took me about a half hour to decide this though, so I might be a crazy person?

In any case, $300 later, and Maple looks much happier in her Great Dane sized crate. She can now turn around without being impeded by the cone of shame – mission accomplished.

I also noticed that Maple was a little reluctant to drink water. Whether that was because she had received fluids at the clinic and so wasn’t thirsty, or because she’s so high on pain meds she doesn’t remember what water is, I decided to switch her to wet food for while to make sure she’s consuming at least some fluids…

If you think I’ve reached the peak of my overthinking, I assure you, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Last night, I took photos of the incision site, just so that I can compare them to what the incision looks like today, in case the bruising might be worsening. 

I should probably apologize in advance to the surgeon for all of the paranoid e-mails he’s likely to receive in the next few weeks…

In any case, day one of Maple’s recovery went as smoothly as can possibly be expected. And if you’re at all interested in helping out with the substantial costs of Maple’s care, please consider donating to Woof Project Rescue. They’re a truly fabulous organization and have been unfailing in their support of myself and Ms. Maple throughout this process. 

And, of course, follow along with Maple’s recovery here. I know that I spent hours madly googling information about CCL tears and TPLO procedures, so I hope that by sharing my own experience, I can provide a resource for others that might find themselves in our position.

With any luck, though, it will be a very boring blog about a sleeping dog that heals super fast. 😉

One thought on “Maple’s TPLO Recovery – Day One

  1. So sorry to hear about this freak accident! Our German Shepherd had a ligament injury with a small fracture in his elbow after a car accident, also requiring a few screws. So stressful keeping them calm and crated once the pain settles! It’s now 5 months later and I finally feel we are getting somewhere with his recovery. Don’t underestimate how long it takes, but also don’t loose hope as it will get better. Costs are ongoing though with weekly physio and possible underwater treadmill sessions. Best of luck, please keep us updated on the recovery process!

    Liked by 1 person

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