Bacio wearing a Santa hat

What’s FHO? A holiday gift!

Merry Christmas!

If you celebrate it, Merry Christmas, if not, Happy Tuesday!  I hope everyone’s day finds them well.  Besides my childhood years, I have never really been the biggest fan of the Christmas holiday.  I love my family and friends, but I don’t feel like I need a holiday to tell me when I can buy them things, and I don’t like having a holiday make me feel obligated to buy them things.  That being said, I received the best holiday gift ever today, in the form of conversation.

An Impulse Purchase Leads to Concerns

Let me start at the beginning.

A little over 2 years ago, I finished reading the book The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein.  Honestly, I’d seen the cover of the book at an airport, and the dog made me want to buy it.  It’s a great book, even better than the cover suggests, as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  The dog in the book, Enzo, is the narrator, and at one point in time, in his elder years, talked about hip pain and suffering from dysplasia.


Around this time, Bacio had been my baby boy for almost a year.  He was always a happy and wiggly dog.  He wiggled, back and forth, a lot. That was just his thing. As I read the description Enzo provided of his hip dysplasia symptoms, I became concerned with my pup’s condition. Sure enough, after getting x-rays, it was confirmed that my little labrynees had stage 4 hip dysplasia. He was only a year old.  I was told the only option was Total Hip Replacement (THR) surgery, and that it would cost me $4400 per hip, plus rehabilitation therapy.  Of course, Bacio needed both hips replaced.

Find Vets Who Treat You and Your Dog Well

That vet didn’t give me the time of day.  He just assumed that I wasn’t going to pay for that type of surgery and tried to set my one-year-old puppy on a pain medication regimen.  I was nervous about how the meds would affect my dog’s kidneys and how long his life would last if he was started on meds when he was just a year old.

I decided to hold off on both the surgery and pain meds until I got a second opinion.  The vet giving us the second opinion had said not to rush into anything, to be aware of the dog’s condition, and prepare for a necessary surgery in the future.  So, for the past 2 years I’ve kept Bacio on Synflex liquid glucosamine, and high-quality dog food.  He is a very happy dog.  He plays with Yuki, he gets around, he chases squirrels.

Hip Dysplasia Symptoms Become More Pronounced

Unfortunately, the past few months I’ve been noticing more and more weakness in his hindquarters.  Some days are better than others, but there are days when he falls, leading to a lack of movement the rest of the day.  The final straw for waiting to take action came after a visit to the emergency vet.  I thought Bacio may be sick.  He wouldn’t lay down all night, wouldn’t stay still in the morning.  My vet (a different one from the previously mentioned vet) told me he was probably in some pain and gave me some pain killers.  The pain pill Bacio settled down and he was able to sleep.

The past few months I’ve been trying to do all that I can to save money for Bacio’s surgery.  I currently work 3 jobs and offer freelance studio photography via Rawkstah Creations at low rates, all the money going to a “Bacio fund”.  Some people think I’m crazy, but I don’t care.  I love my dog, and I will do everything I can for him.

The Unexpected Gift

Ok, ok.  So back to the topic.  My dad and I took his 13 yr old husky in for annual shots.  The vet noticed the weakness in her legs, and we got to talking about dysplasia.  I mentioned the issue with Bacio given only being a few years old, and what I’d been told before about his condition.  She informed me that there is another procedure called a Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) that Bacio may be a candidate for, and that its half the cost of the Total Hip Replacement.  Some dogs can have both hips repaired at one time, in one surgery.  I was in shock and the vet could tell I was emotionally overwhelmed.  She gave me the name of an orthopedic vet and to let them know she sent me there.

My Dad’s 13 year old Huksy!

She worked for the doctor I was being referred to while she was first starting out. She had nothing but praise for his surgical talents.  I was assured that he’d be the cheapest vet in the area, while still performing quality work.  If Bacio isn’t a candidate for this other procedure, she told me that they’d be honest, and help with the best price in the area for the Total Hip Replacement procedure.

This is some of the best news I’ve heard this year.  It will still be a lot of money, but the fact that I could maybe have the ability to fix both his hips!  That was only a dream before today. Sam the Grinch is very merry after all.  The only thing better this, would be if I woke up and Bacio’s hips were magically better, or I won the lottery didn’t need to worry about coming up with the money to pay for his surgery.  I am content, and very hopeful.  Happy Holidays everyone, may your day be as merry as mine!

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