Morgan the Intrepid

Morgan, my Plott Hound

I’m so happy that Morgan is well on her way to recovering from her recent cruciate ligament surgery! Morgan is one of my two Plott Hounds (at least their mommies were Plott Hounds, father unknown in both cases), and I’ve got to say she has totally stolen my heart!

She’s a total goofball, and makes me laugh right out loud at some point every day. I’ve had many dogs over the course of my lifetime, but this one is special.

Puppy Morgan

Puppy Morgan

We’ve had her since she was 5 months old when she was chosen for us by Henry, the 15 year-old Beagle, who came to us as a senior rescue. Since he was so old, we didn’t want to inflict another dog on him–until we took him to Camp Kathy for a visit and saw how much he wanted to interact with the 3 resident dogs there. [Camp Kathy is my dear friends Kathy Woods and Hugh Simmons who love dogs as much as we do, and the fun place where our dogs get to stay if we both need to be away at the same time]

Henry and Morgan have a nap

Henry and Morgan have a nap

When we got back home after that visit, we began to search for a good companion for Henry, so off to the shelter we went to let Henry pick out his new playmate. Now I’m not so sure that Henry would have picked Morgan if she wasn’t still recovering from her surgery to be “fixed” LOL, but she was very calm for the first 3 days after we brought her home, but then she was a bundle of energy that wanted to wrassle, but Henry was not having any of that at all, and quickly taught her that there would be no jumping on him, no wrasslin’, no games of chase, and definitely no taking over his dog bed!

Sadly, Henry went to the great dog park in the sky a few months after Morgan came to live with us, but he did a very good job of teaching Morgan some manners.

Morgan park

Morgan came to steal my heart very shortly after I was in a car accident in which I broke my neck, and since I now had to find a way to work from home, being unable to do the hard physical work I had been doing as a landscape designer of wildlife gardens and also as a general contractor, she became my constant companion, following me wherever in the house I was at a given time.

And often she would come rest her head on the arm of the recliner where I was working and let out a long, heavy sigh to remind me that it was no fun at all if I was just going to work on the computer all day. That sigh came to signify “It’s time to play, Mommy!”

Toy Time

Toy Time

It soon became evident that Morgan needed a playmate she could wrassle with because I was afraid she was going to wipe out my knees from her trying to roll me. So back to the shelter we went so she could pick out a new companion that was better matched to her play style and energy level than I was. And enter Otis, another Plott Hound who loved to play just as hard as she did.

Morgan and Otis

Last summer Morgan was diagnosed both with Lyme Disease, and then a few months later with Anaplasmosis (another tick-born illness). She had been limping very badly, and the vet told us that the limping was due to the Lyme, which can cause some severe joint pain. Little did we know at that time that she had actually blown out the cruciate ligament in her rear right leg (we found that out later).

dogs on deck

Early this year we went to Trinidad and Tobago to celebrate our 20th anniversary with a grand birding adventure, so we made arrangements for Morgan and Otis to go back to Camp Kathy while we were away. Now I have to say, it is VERY good friends who will not only take care of two rowdy dogs for 2 weeks but will also get up at 3 am to take us to the airport, and then come back to pick us up at midnight the night we returned! Friends like that are to be especially treasured!

We told Kathy and Hugh that it was a very fine line to seeing Morgan have such joy in racing around with Otis, and making her stop if she began to limp (from what we thought was the Lyme disease). But it rained at Camp Kathy for most of the time we were away, so Morgan and Otis spent most of the time cooped up inside–until the very last day when the sun came out.

Morgan and Otis spent several hours full of doggy joy, racing around the garden, up and down the hill, rolling and wrasslin’, tossing each other to and fro and just having fun! This is also a joy for us to watch, and Kathy and Hugh stood at the doorways laughing at their antics and sharing in the doggy joy.

morgan and otis

Now one thing I know about Morgan is that she never does anything half-hearted. She is full of joy, a happy go lucky dog that never shows that she’s in pain, even when she starts limping really badly. And even then, she still wants to play!

So several hours went by, the dogs were having the time of their lives making Kathy and Hugh laugh. And then they noticed that she was only using 3 legs, and limping pretty badly. So even though Morgan thought she should get to keep playing, it was back inside the house for both of them.

That night when Kathy and Hugh picked us up we chatted for a few minutes about the exciting birds we had seen in Trinidad and Tobago, but then they said they had to tell us something before we saw her–that Morgan was limping, and on three legs after a day of hard play.

We assured them that she’d be ok in a few days after some rest, that we had seen this before and usually she’d bounce back within a few days.

Morgan helps Kathy care for baby kittens

Morgan helps Kathy care for baby kittens

They were so happy to see us! We sat down on the floor with them and they both went back and forth between both of us, showering us with doggy kisses, licking our hands, and showing off their new toys (yes, Camp Kathy means NEW toys. Yippee!!

I had 5 days from when we returned before I was leaving to go on a birding FAM trip to Guatemala, and I had so much to catch up on before leaving again. So Morgan and Otis didn’t get to spend much time at the dog park that week, and even though Morgan could barely walk, she still wanted to play.

I wanted her to rest.

The usual pattern had been that she’d be able to walk right after a few days of minimal exertion. She was still only using 3 legs, but we assumed she’d get better within a short time. So I petted their little doggy heads goodbye, and off I went to Guatemala for another 2 weeks.

Imagine my surprise when I returned to see that Morgan was still unable to walk on that leg, she was still only using 3 legs, and still limping really badly, but still the happy and joyous being that I love so much.

We were lucky to get an appointment with the vet the next day (a new vet because we were pretty sure that this wasn’t from the Lyme disease, and wanted a new opinion), so off we went. Only to find out that this was not the same leg that she had injured before. AND that what we thought was from Lyme disease was actually that she had previously blown the cruciate ligament in her right rear leg (but that had healed over with scar tissue). AND that she had now blown the cruciate ligament in her left rear leg and needed immediate surgery–probably a TPLO (which means that a piece of the bone is shaved off to make a hook to reattach the cruciate ligament. OUCH!!!

We were able to schedule an appointment with the surgeon the next week, and the vet told us that Morgan needed to be on complete bed rest–no running, no wrasslin’, no chasing the cats.

So we put up a pen in our already tiny living room to keep her confined, and to enforce the no playing with Otis or chasing the cats. All trips outside to pee must be done with her on a leash so she couldn’t jump on top of Otis as soon as we got outside.

And that SIGH! She keeps sighing. I know she’s saying “Please Mommy, it’s time to play. I really, REALLY want to come out of here and play with Otis. Please!” It’s pitiful. And heartbreaking. I don’t like being “bad cop!”

Happily, the surgeon told us she didn’t need the TPLO surgery, but instead she’d be getting what is called a “lateral suture” where they wrap the ligament in some kind of nylon mesh, which after a 12 week recovery period, and enforced bed rest, the mesh would have scar tissue grow over it, and the ligament would be healed.

When we brought her home from surgery, we were told that there may be some bruising, but I was unprepared for what actually appeared:

Morgan bruise

So, I’d sit on the floor with Morgan several times a day holding an ice pack on the bruised side of her leg (the incision was on the outside of her leg, so the ice pack got applied to the inside of her leg), and happily several days later the bruising had gone away.

Morgan incision

The first week after surgery Morgan was pretty calm due to heavy doses of doggy pain killers, but she really did not like wearing the cone of shame to keep her from licking the incision which could cause severe infection or the ripping of her stitches.

Morgan cone

It was a very happy day for her and for me when the stitches finally were removed by the surgeon 2 weeks later!

Morgan shaved

And then we started rehab. For the first week she was allowed 2 five minute walks each day. The following week we graduated to 2 ten-minute walks, adding 5 minutes to each walk every week. This week she got up to 2 25-minute walks each day, and we went for the 6 week check-up with the surgeon.

The good news?

Morgan to vet

Morgan is doing really well! She has some muscle loss, so we need to keep up with her 2 walks each day to build her back up. She’s got at least 4 more weeks of recovery, so she’s still in the pen in the living room, and she still must be on a leash when we go outside. She’s feeling much better so I still have to be “bad cop” and keep her from hurting herself again. She thinks she’s ready to run and play, though.

Since she’s up to 2 25-minute walks each day now, we had our first excursion to the park for her since before we went to Trinidad and Tobago. Oh the joy! So much sniffing to catch up on. And logs to walk along. And the happy wiggle of her very expressive tail.

First order of business: eat some buttercups!

First order of business: eat some buttercups!

And she’s still the happy dog who looks at the world with such joy. There’s no problem that can’t be fixed by a little bit of play, or a run in the park. I need to follow her example and put that into practice for myself!

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  1. I linked to this post from your Beautiful Wildlife Garden post. We have a hound (my husband calls him our “Indiana Found Hound” because my daughter and I found him and his brother as 8 week old (?) puppies in a state forest in Indiana. We took them to the local shelter and ended up adopting Sulley. He looks very much like your Otis. He has now had to have 2 cruciate ligament surgeries (the TPLO). He is doing exceptionally well now several years out. Our female Pit Bull also had to have that same surgery on one leg. We live on 10 acres in a rural area so our dogs get a lot of exercise. I don’t know if this has anything to do with needing the surgery or not. Anyway, I enjoy your blogs.


  1. […] I got the photos loaded, my dogs needed to go outside, so off we went. I was leaning over to pet their little furry heads when I got […]

  2. […] their romping and wrasslin’ and other needs. This side came in handy this year while my girl Morgan was recovering from Cruciate ligament surgery and was unable to take long walks in the woods as is our usual […]

  3. […] some winter birds do not survive the cold. Earlier this week I noticed one of my Plott Hounds trying to get to something on the other side of the garden fence. And we discovered this frozen […]

  4. […] Morgan came to us at 5 months old from a shelter in Pennsauken, NJ. I have to honestly say that I had never before heard of Plott Hounds, but she was chosen for us by Henry our 14 year old Beagle, who we adopted late in life (we were Henry’s senior assisted living facility). […]

  5. […] are always so pleased at how well-behaved our Plott Hounds are when we take them birding with us! Morgan is demonstrating an excellent “Sit, Stay” to allow me to capture the beautiful red […]

  6. […] Morgan was a happy go lucky dog with no serious issues. She was eager to please us and very easy to train at our obedience school lessons. Otis had obviously been seriously mistreated, and he came to us as a fearful dog who would submissive pee on the floor if we reached out to pet him. It took 6 months of him feeling safe enough with us before he would come to us and ask for pets on his head. […]

  7. […] years ago Morgan had to have cruciate ligament surgery because she convinced her fairy dog mother Aunt Kathy that it was ok to race around and roll Otis […]