Our Bionic Puppy Olive

November 1, 2020

Kirstie Tweed/Orange Girl

This month marks 1 year since we adopted our puppy Olive from Cochrane Humane. It has been a joy filled & heartbreaking year with this sweet girl. I am so grateful to have this gentle, kind, funny & resilient puppy in our lives.

From an early age we were given the heartbreaking news that Olive was born with severe hip dysplasia. Her x-rays showed that her hips never formed correctly and we were told she would require total hip replacement surgery in order to survive and get to live a normal pain free life. 

Then covid hit and vet clinics were closed to all operations except emergencies. We had to wait until Olive was 10 months old in order for her skeleton to reach maturity so she could have the operation. This meant we had to cancel Olive's playdates with puppies and limit her activity for fear that she would dislocate her hip that was barely holding on as it was. Then we lost our summer & fall weddings due to covid.

Eventually vet clinics opened up to allow for non-emergency surgeries and Olive underwent her first surgery where they discovered she also had a fractured femur. We were extremely grateful to our Trupanion Pet Insurance who covered Olive's insanely expensive surgeries (around $20,000 for both surgeries) and made the whole process as simple as possible. Without Trupanion we would not of been able to get Olive the help she needed to survive.

If there was anything positive to be extracted from losing our work it's that we now had the time to give Olive the 24/7 care she needed to recover successfully before her next hip replacement surgery. Kevin carried her up and down our 3 flights of stairs many times a day. We took all the legs off our furniture, covered our floors in non-slip mats and slept on a mattress on the floor by her side. Friends checked in often & sent encouraging words and offers of help. Back at it Massage & Rundle Physio got us meals from An Edible Life. Olive's surgeon & vet were amazing and gave us all the help, insight and cheering on we needed during her recovery. Their positivity and compassion for Olive really helped us.

Olive's recovery gave me something positive to focus on during a time of great uncertainty & loss. Her sweet nature and resilience was inspiring to witness. And now here we are celebrating the fact that Olive can walk and no longer pants in pain every night. 

Olive has 2 steel hips! We jokingly call her our bionic puppy. It's remarkable to see how well she has adjusted. We still have weeks to go yet before Olive will get to play off leash and really try out those steel hips but her progress is truly remarkable. 

Olive is a joyful, expressive, funny, gentle and loving dog. We feel so very lucky to have her.

Olive's gentle & respectful nature brought out a playful side in our 10 year old dog Mabel that didn't exist before. They share a beautiful connection and I can not wait for them to get to play together again.

Below is the first x-ray we saw where we learned that Olive had severe hip dysplasia. I can remember how shocking it felt to see it. As you can see her hip joints never formed correctly. Both the ball-and-socket were underformed.Her hip sockets were flat and not deep enough to house the ball of her femoral head securely so her femur just kind of rested outside her hip. Olive was ready to dislocate her hip at any moment. In the photo above you can see how Olive kept her ankles close to each other (hindsight being 20/20). Olive would bunny hop up the stairs and she laid down often when we attempted to walk her and we couldn't figure out why. Olive panted at night and I would take her out often thinking she needed to pee or she was hot but now I realize she was panting because she was in pain :( It didn't occur to me that something could be wrong with our young puppy. It wasn't until Olive went lame and couldn't get up during a walk that we had x-rays done and were told she had severe hip dysplasia. I am thankful to our extraordinary vet who suggested x-rays and then found us an incredible surgeon after her diagnosis.

Olive's steel hips are now complete. She needs time for bone to grow to secure the socket.

Our hope is that by Christmas Olive will get to play again. We can't wait to see her run!


Hello my name is Kirstie and I am a wedding photographer who specializes in photographing intimate weddings & elopements in Calgary, Banff, Canmore & Emerald Lake. I’ve been photographing mountain weddings since we moved to Banff in 2004. I lived in the mountains for 17 years before moving to Calgary in 2021. On days off you'll find me spending time with my husband Kevin and our 3 rescue dogs Mabel, Olive & Bandit.