Photo gallery: The dog-tor becomes the patient

November 17, 2022  //  FOUND IN: News

Anna has been a steady presence at Michigan Medicine for over six years, bringing love, comfort and just enough mischief to so many people. 

Anna has been teaching her human partners a lot over the years, too! Most recently, they’ve been learning about her knees!

A dog’s knee — called the stifle joint — has two cruciate (“crossed”) ligaments in the middle that hold the joint together and help it bend and bounce, especially when the dog is running and jumping. As some particularly active dogs (like Anna!) get to middle-age (she turned 7 this year), those ligaments can start to tear and put stress on the joint, which causes instability, pain, muscle loss and leads to permanent osteo-arthritis.

Anna has had a very busy job here at Michigan Medicine, transforming the experiences of patients, loved ones, caregivers, staff and students. She loves coming in to work every day and getting to support so many people. 

Her team has noticed, though, that the way she moved was gradually looking more tense and she was getting a little more cautious about jumping. Her veterinarians also noticed loss of muscle in her legs. 

They did some x-rays and other tests and found that her CCL (canine cruciate ligament) was tearing.

Fortunately, veterinary surgeons can fix the damage caused by this “wear and tear” by doing a procedure called a TPLO that changes the slope of the bottom bone in the knee joint (the tibia) and stabilizes the joint. This helps prevent any further damage, decreases muscle atrophy, reduces the risk of inflammation that would lead to arthritis, and keeps Anna out of pain. 

Even with this CCL injury, Anna still had so much energy for meeting and caring for people, playing with her friends and relaxing with her family. But team members wanted to make sure her body can keep up with everything she wants to do for many more years to come. So Anna’s veterinarians referred us to an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed the diagnosis and recommended doing this TPLO now for the best outcome.

Anna had this TPLO surgery in late October and is now taking a couple of months off from work to heal from the surgery, get physical therapy and get well enough to go back to rounding with her human teams, doing “paws up,” climbing into bed with humans who need a big dose of Anna hugs and doing zoomies in the courtyard for everyone to see.

She’s gotten off to a great start! She’s already taking little walks, asking her humans if she can jump and run (no, not for a few more weeks), enjoying extra naps, long hugs and special snacks. She is going to be coming into work with her human partners, but she’ll be spending most of the time napping in her bed. Occasionally, you might see her going for a short walk, getting carried around by her human partner or maybe even riding in a wagon! Feel free to say “hi” and ask to pet her as usual!

Anna’s absence will be felt on a lot of our floors and units, especially in the Adult Hospital because she is often the “float” dog to meet as many requests as possible, in addition to her regular work with palliative care and spiritual care. 

This means that while Anna is away, there will not be a dog-team available to take referrals on units that do not already have a dog (volunteer or staff member) assigned. We will share when Anna is back full-time and able to begin taking referrals. 

With the help of our colleagues in Child & Family Life, Anna will post pictures and videos about her experiences on Instagram @Paws4Patients. Anna would also love to hear from you while she’s healing! 

Feel free to post well wishes and share your favorite pictures on Instagram @Paws4Patients. If anyone wants to support Anna and all our Paws4Patients dogs in getting the best possible care whenever they need it, here is our P4P giving link.

Anna and her humans also want to thank all her care teams who have helped her through her diagnosis and surgery.

Click through the photos above to check out a gallery of Anna in the pre-op area prior to her surgery!