Crusoe’s 2020 Surgery

This is Ryan writing here to explain about why Crusoe ended up going for surgery, as I know many of you are curious if not eager to find out.

I do apologize for the wait, it’s been a tiring week including traveling as you’ll see below. I believe we may have inadvertently made some of you worried about Crusoe’s long term health during all this, so I just want to start by saying Crusoe is and was never “sick”, and we don’t expect any future implications or illness as relating to this.

Before we tell you the backstory as to WHY this all happened, just want to give you a quick update. Crusoe is doing well. Since the surgery was done at the OVC Animal Hospital at the University of Guelph, we were actually staying at Oakley’s house for a few days pre and post-op since it’s so much closer for us. So Crusoe had the moral support of Oakley and Daphne, not to mention the tens of thousands of his incredible fans like you.

crusoe oakley daphne

So, truly, a heartfelt thank you to all our fans for their thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes. It’s truly amazing how Crusoe can feel apart of so many families aside just our own.

dr singh surgeon ovc animal hospital guelphWe want to give an absolutely incredible thank you to our surgeon, Dr. Singh. We’ve never felt more reassured, confident, and taken care of as we have under his care, pre-and-post operatively. Dr. Singh is also making incredible strides to advance minimally invasive surgical techniques into mainstream veterinary care. These techniques are already standard in human care, but not yet in animal care. So as a thank you to Dr. Singh and the college, we’ve set up a Crusoe Fund to help contribute to more clinical trials and research in advancing this for the benefit of all animals. We’ve already made a donation ourselves, and also invite you as Crusoe fans to lend your support as both a thank you for his care of Crusoe and to aid the advancement of this great initiative.

Anything you can offer is appreciated.

Why Crusoe Needed His Gallbladder Removed:

We first discovered there was something wrong with Crusoe’s gallbladder in late 2019 incidentally on an x-ray. It looked as if it were almost full of sand.

Our vet was immediately concerned and suggested we do a follow-up ultrasound to take a closer look, so we did. The ultrasound confirmed his gallbladder was largely full of mineralized sludge and some mucus. A healthy gallbladder (which is sort of a reserve sack of bile), should only contain bile of liquid consistency, and would normally appear as a mostly black circle on x-ray or ultrasound.

You can see the round gallbladder below. That whole circle should be just black.

crusoe dachshund gallbladder ultrasound

We also did blood analysis to check his liver ezymes, which were all totally normal, fortunately. In fact, he was totally asymptomatic; absolutely nothing abnormal in his behavior or bloodwork. So we never would have suspected anything if it wasn’t for that incidental discovery…

However, what to do about it became a big question for us. With Crusoe absolutely meaning the world to us, and with so many people across the world who care dearly about him as well, we took it upon ourselves to consult the top experts we could find to consider all possible treatment routes and make the best decision possible.

crusoe dachshund going for surgery cholecystectomy

So we did. We visited Dr. Sharon Center at Cornell University, who is a world renowned expert on canine liver disease. She made time in her enormously busy schedule to see Crusoe personally. Dr. Center’s colleague Dr. Mick was also invaluable in providing ongoing guidance and insights prior to and through surgery. We also consulted with Dr. Jody Gookin at NC State who has advanced a ton of research around gallbladder disease, and was kind enough to take provide her analysis of Crusoe’s case virtually. We also did continued tests with our local vet clinic and their internal medicine department (notable thank you’s to Dr. Cyrus, Dr. Bruce, and Dr. Gumley).

Now, gallbladder issues are complicated, and still largely to a degree, not fully understood, and there’s a lot to say about it. So, I will be publishing a full information resource page on our website that will be an accumulation of everything we learned throughout this process, just like the info page we made on IVDD after going through that with Crusoe and learning an incredible amount in the process. That IVDD page is still our most-visited page on this website, and we usually get several messages a day from people going through a similar situation and found our information helpful. So, I think a page on gallbladder issues will be very useful for other pet owners, who like us, were very confused and not sure what to do.


But I’ll keep it brief for the purpose of this post. It was pretty much the consensus of everyone we spoke to that his gallbladder would at some point become an issue, and at some point, likely have to be removed surgically. The only real question was “when”. It could stay stable for several years potentially. Or it could become suddenly very problematic in 6 months, or 1 month. There was no real answer.

So, deciding whether to do surgery now or “wait and see” was a tricky and very hard decision, but there were some important considerations that tipped the scale for us.

Why We Chose Surgery:

  • Gallbladder issues, when they become symptomatic, put pressure on the liver which increases liver enzymes in the blood. The more stressed the liver is, the higher the risk of surgical complications (especially related to anesthesia), and thus a higher mortality rate.
  • As gallbladders start to fill with sludge and mucus, they get clogged with the stagnant bile and can over-extend to the point of actually rupturing. If they rupture and bile spills into the surrounding area, it causes peritonitis which is extremely dangerous and fatal if surgery is not conducted immediately to clean it up – and even then, there is a very high mortality rate. Granted, a dog would probably not go from being asymptomatic to rupture overnight, but it can all still develop rather suddenly.
  • A lot of studies have indicated mortality rates for gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) are MUCH lower while the dog is still asymptomatic.
  • Dogs, like humans, can live fine without a gallbladder. It has no essential function is maybe the most fortunate part about all this.

So, our options were:

  1. Wait-and-see while trying to medically manage with a bile thinner medication like ursodiol for as long as possible. This may prolong/stall the development of his galbladder issue, but there is virtually no statistical data right now that show this can be reversed medically.
  2. Opt for surgery within next 6 months, which is also what the collective recommendation was from the experts we consulted with.

It’s incredibly hard to decide to do surgery on your dog when they’re asymptomatic and feeling fine, especially when you love them as much as we do. But if it’s a question of now or later, where later could mean riskier or emergency surgery, I think sometimes you have to take the more proactive decision.

Even if we delayed or waited until the first signs of symptoms to do surgery – where it would still be relatively safe – that could be 2 or 3 years from now, and Crusoe who is already almost 11, could be 13 or 14 by that point. As Crusoe also has a mild heart murmur at this point, we also don’t want to chance needing such a large surgery when he’s much older.

So ultimately, we decided the best thing for his long term health was to do surgery now while he’s asymptomatic and younger.

Going For Surgery

We actually had a date set for surgery back in mid-February. But then, COVID-19 hit and all the animal hospitals shut down except for true “emergencies”. Needless to say, the past few months of waiting to do surgery, have been stressful and draining…

Crusoe going for surgery

So we were both anxious and relieved when the time for surgery finally came. Of course, there’s always a voice in your head that’s questioning if you’re doing the right thing, and I would probably never forgive myself if anything happened to him, but at the end of the day, it was the best and safest thing for him.

crusoe ovc hospital guelph dachshund gallbladder

As I mentioned, though, Dr. Singh and the OVC Companion Animal Hospital really helped us feel at ease. Dr. Singh came highly recommended to us from many of the sources we had found, so we were very confident in his abilities. But he also addressed every concern and question I had thoroughly and clearly (I had a lot of questions).

crusoe ovc companion animal hospital guelph

Fortunately the surgery went very well, and so far Crusoe is on a great recovery course, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that.

After all, 2020 hasn’t exactly been an encouraging year so far.

crusoe and dad

Crusoe means a lot to so many people out there, which is something incredibly special in itself. But for us, he is our whole world. He is both our beloved child, and my boss. Everything I do, everyday, revolves around him. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t tell him that I love him.


We’ve since arrived back home from Oakley’s house, but I did get a few pics of the three of them together. I think they were all happy to see each other again.

It was a 5 hour drive back home from Oakley’s house. Luckily, Crusoe is a great traveler so had no issue.

Crusoe driving home

Although, don’t think he’s thrilled that he’s the one with the blue donut, now…

crusoe surgery donut neck

A Takeaway

If there’s one takeaway we have for you, is next time you have a vet appointment scheduled, ask for an ultrasound just to check on things. It’s super easy; requires no sedation of anesthesia, doesn’t hurt at all, is not expensive – and is a great proactive way of just double checking that things are okay. It might even mean you catch something early that allows you to act on it before it becomes a more serious problem.

Thank you…

Thank you for being interested enough for reading all this. And thank you just for caring about our little guy. We truly appreciate it, and will continue to provide updates over the next couple weeks of his recovery.

And again, please consider helping out the Crusoe Fund for Dr. Singh and the OVC Animal Hospital at the University of Guelph to help advance minimally invasive surgery research so more animals can take advantage of its benefits. You can also/or make a donation to Cornell University for their own research as a thank you for providing valuable insights to Crusoe’s case.

As Crusoe would say,

Keep ballin’,




66 Responses to Crusoe’s 2020 Surgery

  1. Thank you so much for the update. I can’t believe how much i have thought and worried about Crusoe these last few days – almost as if he were one of my 3 weiners. Crusoe is so lucky to have you two!

    • I’m so happy that you went ahead with the surgery for Crusoe. I have 5 doxies and a cheweenie of my own. They are my furry babies. Sending prayers and hugs for your family❤

  2. Thank you for sharing. We would have done the same with any of our 6 dachshunds. We love love you Crusoe, get well soon from Spokane, WA ❤️

  3. Thanks for sharing what went into your decision. I’m facing health issues with a 14 years old dachshund and his age and the cost are major factors. It helps to hear from others.

  4. Very informative, thank you.
    You are such loving parents. Having Oakley and Daphne there after surgery was the best medicine. Speedy recovery Cruseo. Much love,
    Barney, Sophee, Max.
    from Chico, Ca

  5. Crusoe I was so sad and scared to learn you were having surgery. I am thankful you are recovering so nicely. My boy had some back and neck issues this spring buy he us doing well. So rest up and make sure mum and dad pamper you and give you extra treats

  6. Just like all of Crusoe’s other fans, I just love him so much. Thank you so much for sharing what happened with him and what was involved in your decision. It had to be so so stressful with the covid causing a delay. Mum and Dad are pretty darn terrific too.

  7. Thanks for the update! My sweet Jack is our life as well and as with all dachshunds-the boss! I felt your concerns and said a prayer for sweet Crusoe! So thankful he’s on the mend!

  8. My (human) brother just had gallbladder surgery and I’m certain he would have preferred surgery before he was symptomatic. I have an 11-year-old dachshund and am all about preserving her health, and I love hearing stories of animals receiving lots of love and good veterinary care. Missoula, MT sends positive thoughts for a speedy recovery, Crusoe!

  9. Thank you so much for the information. I would be very concerned always wondering what and why. I feel you certainly made the right decision.

    Love all your pups!!!!

    Linda, Arnold and our Maverick.

    • Thank you for the update. I was very concerned that he was ok but feel so much better reading this. We are the same as you with our little girl. We worry about her even though she is fine. I would have reached the same decision you did for the surgery. It would only get more difficult if he was older. Happy you all are home and he is doing well. Thanks also for the information on where he had his surgery. . Looking forward to the further adventures of Crusoe, Daphne, and Oakley. Love. Jeanne and Jenny

  10. Thank you so much for the informative update on Crusoe and your journey. So happy to hear he is in the mend. You definitely made the right decision as difficult as it was. Our family also benefited from the knowledgeable, caring professionals at NC State Veterinary School when our beloved Reilly, also a dachshund, developed serious cardiac problems. The research carried on in veterinary medicine is making important advances in the care of our beloved companions. I will be forever grateful for the care he received. I will also echo if you are able to make a donation to Guelph or Cornell, please do so, the research is making a difference. 💕

  11. Thank you for sharing your journey with Crusoe’s health. So relieved all went well and that he is recovering at home. I love following your life with Crusoe & Daphne!

  12. I’m so happy that he is doing well! Thank you for sharing his story about his surgery. You are awesome parents!!!! Hugs ❤

  13. I am so glad the surgery is behind you; I would have made the same decision. Prayers for quick healing! We love you Crusoe!

  14. Thank you for giving Crusoe’s fans an update on his progress. When I say he has been on my mind since I saw he was having surgery, is an understatement. I feel confident this is a statement most of his fans would agree on. Ryan and Lauren, you are wonderful parents and Crusoe and Daphne are lucky to have you. Sending wishes for a speedy recovery.

  15. You are the best parents and love your fur babies and will go to the ends of the earth for them. I feel the same way about our girls. Crusoe,Daphne and Oakley are a part of all our families.
    One of ours has liver issues and is on Ursodyl. We will really watch about gall bladder issues.
    Thank you for keeping us posted.We will keep sending prayers all. Love from Litchfield Park Az.
    Abby, Zoey and moms Marty and Sharon.

  16. Thank you for sharing. These little fellows can be our whole world. My Doxie also has back problems. Never thought about gallbladder. Such good info. you have shared. Feel better soon Crusoe, and rest as a family. Stressful times but such good news. Hugs and tail wags.

  17. Oh Crusoe! I’ve been thinking about you everyday! I am glad you are healing so well. Ryan , thank you for this! If I am half as good as you are at being a pet parent, I’m doing ok! Love from a mom of 3 doxies in Va!!

  18. What a great read ! I follow Crusoe and have for some time , so so so happy he’s on the mend ! Bless y’all’s heart what a difficult decision! Thank the dear lord above he’s doing great ! Prayers for speedy complete recovery 🙏😍🐾♥️From Kentucky!

    • So glad to hear Crusoe is doing better! I kept checking your page for an update. Brought my Corgi mix, Jessie for an ear infection recheck today, all better! Took her and our Doxie mix, Gracie for a cheeseburger as a very special but not common celebration! Give him a kiss from us! The Clarke-Smith Family in Rhode Island

  19. Thanks for the update! My little guy, Joshua Wolfgang, sends his love to Crusoe and the gang! We have you all in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for Crusoe! Your medical information is interesting to read and may be very helpful to others facing similar health issues. Please keep us updated on Crusoe’s recovery. We love you guys!
    The Hiegert Family

  20. I am an 85yr old senior citizen and may I say that I absolutely love Crusoe and of course Oakley and Daphne also. There are very few things that make me smile but Crusoe and his adventures are one of the few things that bring joy to my life. You have no idea how happy I am that all is going well for him. Give him a hug and an extra treat for the joy that he so willingly spreads.

  21. I love Cruose and very very happy to hear he is doing well..Thank you so much for the information..Give my hug & warm kisses to our Cruose baby..🥰🥰🥰

  22. I do love all of your dogs. Each one is so very special. I am so happy to hear that Crusoe is doing fine after his surgery. Thank you so much for the update on Crusoe’s surgery and recovery.

  23. Wonderful update. Ryan, you always provide great information to everyone. Glad Crusoe is doing well and that you were able to spend time with Oakley’s family. I’m sure that provide support for you and Lauren and fun for Daphne and Oakley! Rest up and get ready for the summer!❤️🐾❤️🐾❤️🐾❤️🐾

  24. Rose UK Thank you so much for the update i was starting to worry ! I am relatively new to the Crusoe world and love watching all of his antics. He is a star. Stay Safe x

  25. I have enjoyed your blog, videos, posts and books for a number of years. Thank you for the update and information on gall bladder disease.

    I have a Miniature Dachshund, Wilbur, who is 15.5 years old now. Wilbur’s little brother is a 2 year old small terrier mix, Frederick. Both are rescue dogs. COVID-19 has restricted access to veterinary care in my area, except in cases of emergency. I fully support non invasive testing, such as ultrasound for monitoring on going problems. I would also like to see minimally invasive surgery become widely available for pets.

    My dogs are also my family. I hope that Crusoe feels better soon. Thank you for the photos of Oakley and Daphne. I hope your families stay safe and healthy during this challenging time.

  26. Thank goodness Crusoe is doing well, I am sure you are all relieved, as are we, his fans. I totally understand why you did what you did to keep your first fur baby healthy, it made total sense. Now is the time to relax and enjoy family time whilst Crusoe recuperates. Love you all and thank you for sharing your lives and furry adventures with all of us. Stay safe!! Paws and licks and waggy tails, Sandra & David.

  27. Thank you for the information. I had never heard of a pup having their gallbladder removed so I was very worried something else was going on. Many blessings to you all!💖

  28. thanks for the update…my Chili, a longhair weinerdawg, made her transition about 6 years ago..we communicate every day, with love still flowing between us. you and Mum’s love of your furbabbies r so plain to see and feel. I have adored watching Cru and Daph and Oak’s antics- co-creation at its Best! Well Being abounds! love to all, brenda

  29. Suki and Willow are so happy Cru is recovering well. I absolutely think you did the best thing for him! (And who would want a bunch of bile clogged up inside. 🤢 I did not realize an Ultrasound could help detect problems, and thank you for the information. I have never heard of this possible issue with the gallbladder. And the minimally invasive surgery research is a must! Great job Mom and Dad. ❤️❤️❤️Give Crusoe an extra kiss for us!!

  30. I love Crusoe and follow his story.He is very near to my hart and I am so glad that he is okay. Give him many hugs. Love you Crus and the croud.

  31. Why was Crusoe having an x-ray in the first place? I don’t want anything to happen to the guy! Thanks for the update.

  32. For the most part 2020 has been a horrible year. However your little Cru truly has had one of the best stories of the year. Sending our love and prayers from Los Angeles.

  33. So glad he is ok. I met you in Orlando and have followed you since. Our next health visit we will get the ultrasound!! Sounds like great advice. Prayers for you and the entire family from Sarasota Fl.

  34. So very glad to hear that Crusoe came through surgery with flying colors! Hope he heals quickly, and is comfortable again soon. 🙂

  35. So glad to hear all went well and he is on the mend!!! Love Cru, Daphne and Oakley!! I think my Cooper is Daphne’s soulmate, they are so similar in actions and size. He is a shaded red, long hair, mini. Hugs to both of you, Crusoe, Daphne and Oakley!!!

  36. Wow. What a fabulous explanation. Thank you for taking the time to explain everything and for loving Cru so much. I deal in rescue and have seen horrific things. You are so blessed to have him and he is blessed to have you. Again thanks for the education.

  37. So Happy Crusoe is doing good. I’ve lived with 5 Dachshunds in my life and they become very important to you. My girl Callie had back surgery at Purdue University Animal Hospital 3 months ago after some set-backs she is now doing good. Get well soon Crusoe we need you.

  38. You got this, Crusoe! You’ve played a pirate and a super hero, so if you can tackle the bad guys and dig for a treasure chest full of squeaky toys, you’ll feel better after recovering from your gall bladder surgery. In the meantime, just relax and enjoy some treats. Plus you have Daphne to keep you company while you’re resting.

  39. Im so happy that you’ve recovered we we’re all so worried for you I hope in the future you have a good life

  40. Checking in to see how Crusoe is doing. Assuming he has healed up from his surgery now, and is up and moving around okay. Please give us an update, okay? Many thanks for sharing him with us.

  41. We too have 4 doxies that are our children and our entire lives center around them. We always want the best for our cousin Crusoe (and sister and brother). All the best to all of your family.

  42. Thank you for the information. It’s always helpful to learn new things for our “furkids”. I have 1 Mini and she is my love. Crusoe, you’re in the best hands ever. I am so glad to hear you are doing so well. Many hugs and kisses to you.

  43. Hope that Crusoe has been doing well in 2021. The last year is really hard for most of us to adapt to. Me and my family had to send my dog to our grandparents’ house for some reasons, but everything is back to normal now.

  44. Hi, This article is very informative, and it includes so much important information for dog lovers, thank you very much for sharing this useful article with us.

    • I’ve been researching strollers for my dog who has IVDD and needs a stroller for longer walks. I would like to know the name of Crusoe’s stroller as seen in his videos. I’ve searched the website and can’t seem to find it. I would appreciate the name of Crusoe’s stroller as it is perfect for my dachshund.

      Thank you!


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Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund

Crusoe is the wiener dog extraordinaire who has won the hearts of many through his wacky home-made outfits, viral videos, NYTimes Bestselling book, and larger-than-life personality.


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