by Lee H.
This is Josie. In many respects, she’s the same as any other sassy cocker girl who’s got a penchant for treats and a tendency to let her people know when it’s been too long since she’s been fed. But Josie has a secret she’s keeping from the world – she’s been in pain most of the time. Like many cockers, she’s had recurring ear infections her whole life, but Josie’s ears have taken a serious turn. The recurring infections stopped responding to medication, resulting in a serious complication of her ear canals. See how her ears stick out straight to the sides? That’s often a “tell” that the ear canals have become calcified after repeated ear infections. At this point, medicine no longer works because the canals cannot open to let any treatments down into the ear. The ears are still infected and the dog is experiencing pain on a daily basis with little to no relief. (Have you ever had an ear infection? Those hurt!).
Once the ear canals have become calcified and the medications have stopped working, the only treatment left for dogs like Josie is what’s called TECA–which stands for Total Ear Canal Ablation. In a nutshell, the ear canals are surgically removed and then sewn shut. It’s a very serious (and expensive) surgery, costing thousands of dollars. Additionally, dogs who are in need of TECA surgery usually need surgery on BOTH ears. In Josie’s case, the first ear was operated on and then after several weeks of recovery, the second ear was done (just in time for Christmas!), followed by a few more weeks of recovery. Josie was luckier than many dogs who have TECA surgeries–it’s very common for there to be complications like secondary wound infections or issues with stitches–those problems can add to the cost and recovery time. So, as you can imagine, the dogs who need TECA surgeries spend a longer amount of time in our care than most. Additionally, the cost for two TECA surgeries for one dog can be overwhelming. Without question, it can be out of reach for many families, costing more than a used car. In rescue, we often have to consider our resources available: there is the question of funds of course, but also whether we have someone who can devote the time and extra medical support that a dog undergoing TECA surgeries needs.
This extra allocation of time, care, and funding was essential to Josie’s well-being and we were happy to be in a position to offer these gifts to her. The aftermath of her two surgeries and relatively easy recovery over these past several weeks is that Josie, who was already pretty sassy to begin with, has rediscovered her inner pup, and trust us, her inner pup is HUNGRY. She’s got a new pep in her step and she’s not afraid to show off her newfound energy by jumping up on the dinner table and letting us know that her bowl is empty. This life-changing surgery brought Josie the greatest Christmas gift: a life free from pain!