Peak Pets

We do what we can for our pets because they are family, right? Hydrotherapy, or “aqua puppering,” is part of Bentley’s physical therapy for a torn CCL, the equivalent of a human ACL.

I know I’m not alone in believing my pets aren’t just like family; they are family.

So when my 7-year-old boxer/Australian shepherd (“American mutt”) Bentley tore his cranial cruciate ligament — the canine equivalent of an ACL — I was a wreck.

I took a brief hiatus from journalism in 2010 to pursue a master’s degree in animal shelter management. During that time I worked as a vet tech for Countryside Animal Hospital, a small clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, so I know a bit about veterainary medicine.

Countryside hosted specialists from time to time for the same procedure Bentley needed: a tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy, better known as a TPLO. Unlike in humans, when dogs tear their doggie ACL, the tendon isn’t repaired. Rather, the bone is cut and readjusted so the stifle (dog knee) is stabilized. A plate is inserted in the process.

Sound freaky? I didn’t really think so until I had to picture my dog going through it.

I dropped Bentley off May 3 at Jackson Animal Hospital for surgery, and I admit I cried when I left the clinic. As noted in a story on page 14, animals can be an important part of our lives. Bentley is definitely an important part of mine.

As I waited for a call from his surgeon, I thought a lot about why I didn’t buy pet insurance when Bentley was a pup. As you can imagine, orthopedic procedures are not cheap. I guess I’m like most people: No one thinks they need pet insurance until they do (see page 10), but it turns out these injuries are common in our active environment, both in humans and dogs.

To cut to the chase, Bentley did great in surgery and he’s been recovering amazingly well. Though physical therapy doesn’t take nearly as long as for humans, the process comes with different challenges. You try keeping an active, 60-pound dog from jumping. It’s not easy.

Just recently we started hydrotherapy — or what I call “aqua puppering.” Unlike some dogs, Bentley picked it up immediately. He has always loved to swim, and since he’s been leash-restricted since his injury, I think he knows this is the closest he’s going to get to adventure in the immediate future. (Anthropomorphizing, you say? I don’t care.)

As you can tell, animals are important to me, so it makes sense this is one of my favorite special sections among those the News&Guide produces — and not just because I get to brag about my dog. The staff’s creativity tends to pop on the page when they’re writing about animals.

Those who don’t normally write headlines were inspired to make some suggestions (see pages 3 and 9). A story about a teenager and a parrot includes so many funny quotes that you won’t stop laughing (see page 20). And I can’t overstate how excited I am about the “shell-elbrity” on page 18, or the story on service dogs on page 12, which won’t get you laughing but, rather, thinking.

Need more? Close your eyes and pick a page — all of the stories, which cover behavior and training, pet health and features on life with pets and exotics — speak to why I love this section. Peak Pets allows all of us to appreciate the creatures around us, those that wake us up in the mornings, those that accompany us on the trails and in the snow, those that comfort us when we need a friend.

Whether a bird, cat or an American mutt like Bentley, pets make their way into our homes and our hearts, just like family. No, as family.

Contact Melissa Cassutt at 732-7076 or

Deputy Editor

Melissa Cassutt’s job should come with a badge. Regrettably, it does not. She oversees Valley, Scene and special projects. She also writes features, mostly about people but often dogs. Send story tips and pet pictures.

(1) comment

brad smith

Hope Bentley healed from that horrible tplo surgery. My vet tried to sell that to me for my dog with a completely torn cruciate ligament acl or ccl and could only walk on three legs. We saw featured at the Veterinary World Expo was the acl ccl custom Posh Dog Knee Brace. The posh brace supported my dog's knee from day one, and my dog healed without any painful surgery in a few months. Just like people, dogs can heal wearing a dog knee brace. I am so happy we learned about poshdogkneebrace because my friend's dog went thru that unnecessary tplo surgery, and has been limping and some pain for over a year after the surgery. Their vet said that was normal for dogs that go thru tplo surgery. I would not want that kind of normal for my dog. The posh brace was way more effective and safe to help a dog recover from a torn acl or ccl. Well if Bently ever tears the other knee, now you know to avoid surgery and get a posh brace.

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