Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Born to Be Wild

Well I promised one more update on the hip surgery and here it is.... just to close the book on this story. 
Tulla had x-rays at 8 weeks post surgery to verify that all was healing well, and it was (is).  We got approval to let her do anything she wanted, but I was still too nervous to completely let her off leash, because I knew that there was a bundle of explosive energy locked inside.  So the first several days we did long lead and swimming.  Finally the day came and the leash came off- setting her free for the first time in two long months.  As I expected, it took me a while to catch her!  But the only problems we have had were a few days of tender feet from running too hard on the concrete.
So for all the worry, the fear, the prayers, and the indecision, this turned out to be a pretty uneventful surgery (well except for the bill.)  The surgeon sees no reason why she cannot lead as full a life as a dog born with good hips.  So if she decides to become an agility dog, then that is what we will do.
Meanwhile, run Tulla, run.  You deserve

a few extra laps around the yard.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Crate Rest Hump Day and Staple Removal

I began writing about Tulla’s DPO to give other people who are facing the same experience information about what to expect.  In the weeks leading up to the surgery, I scoured the internet for anyone who could provide a clue of what to expect.  And now that we made it through week two, I understand why no one wrote about it.  There really is nothing to tell.

From the first days she could walk and squat to potty.  I took her off pain meds in 3 days just to try to keep her from jumping around.  So far, it seems like the biggest irritant has been the hair growing back and getting itchy….

We still have two more weeks of crate rest, but now that we have survived the first two, and have passed “hump day,” we are getting the hang of it.   She is a little stir crazy and wanting to get out, so we are playing more games, and trying to take more slow and easy walks around the yard.  But sort of like letting a dieter have one lick of an ice cream cone, it just makes her want more.  She stands and looks at the pool, wanting to jump in, and she carries one of the smaller jolly balls around, hoping that someone will throw it for her. 

Our check up and staple removal went well, and in one month we return for x-rays to tell us how much the bone has healed and of course, admire how nicely that hip joint fits together.  Once we get that report, we will begin making decisions on any necessary rehab and begin returning to normal.

On the “keeping Tulla busy” front, she now has about 5 new tricks, and we are looking for ideas for more.  Despite all the hours she has spent there, she is still willingly going into her crate and waiting patiently to come out (thanks to the two Sues- Susan Garrett and my friend Sue who bought us “Crate Games” in the first place).  That alone has been invaluable. 

I will probably make one more post, following her x-rays in August, but beside that, this is the story that isn’t.  I continue to be shocked at how she has taken this whole thing in stride.  And I’m very thankful for the hands of a skilled surgeon that made this possible in the first place. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ten Days Post bilateral DPO

I certainly appreciate how well Tulla is doing. We leave the cone off when we are around her, and she has not tried to do anything to her incisions.  She is completely off pain meds, and has a great attitude all the time- even in her crate. She moves smoothly through sits, downs, and stands showing no signs of lameness. 
Despite using every mealtime to teach new tricks through, it continues to get more and more difficult to keep her quiet.  It seems that she is significantly more over reactive to things that she would normally not react to.  For instance, if there is a bird or a squirrel in the yard, we have to lift her from the floor or she will attempt cartwheels at the door.  Today, Greg left the mower in the yard and she had to point this out, loudly and with all vigor- charging the mower.  It's like she has all this energy pent up inside and it just spills over once in a while.  Nevertheless, in the big scheme of things, this is a very small problem.

I did manage to get a few photos today and it is easy to see how ready she is to be off leash by how hard she is pulling against her collar.  We let her carry the Jolly Ball around for a while, but had to take it away when she decided to shake it.  I'm thinking that doesn't fit in the "crate rest" plan.
Four days until our first checkup and removal of staples.  It seems like the forward-most parts of her incision pull a lot when she squats to pee, so I'm a little anxious about what happens when the staples are removed.   But I guess that by two weeks it should be healed enough. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Week One.

I remember people saying “the hardest part of this surgery is keeping your dog quiet and I totally underestimated this.  We were told “crate rest” for 4 weeks, with only a short walk to potty and this has proven to be extremely difficult.  The moment she hits the backyard it is GAME ON!  I have begun to take her out once in a while on a prong collar to prevent her from “digging in” with her hind legs to pull.   And as soon as she goes potty and we start to move back to the door, she is distracted by EVERYTHING.   She picks up every leaf, stick, rock, and bug she can find and will toss them in the air to catch.  And as each day goes by, it is getting more and more difficult to keep her quiet.  In fact, if we let her go, she would gladly get the zoomies, running and jumping like crazy.

But here are some lessons that we have already learned that may help someone else prepare for this:
·         Crate training long before the surgery is an absolute must.  Thanks to a puppy gift from a friend, months ago we did the Susan Garrett “Crate Games” and thankfully Tulla will go willingly into her crate and wait patiently to come out.  Without these 2 skills, we would be in deep, deep trouble.

·         As a puppy, Tulla jumped up on people to great them, and while we were breaking that habit, I wish that I had completely eliminated it before the surgery.   We cannot walk near anyone else or she will try to get over to them and jump up. 

·         We have 2 “puzzle” games (one from a friend and one from my daughter).  Between this and trick training (next), Tulla has not eaten out of a bowl since we got home.  It isn’t a lot of exercise, but it does give her something “to do”

·         After a whining Facebook comment about how I am struggling with the crate rest, a friend sent me a youtube link of a bunch of tricks that you could train to a crate bound/mobility impaired dog.  This has been working very well!  But because of her reduced exercise, I can’t load her up on treats, so she “works” for her dinner.  She has already learned two tricks using her dinner and a clicker.

·         I’ve learned that she is more difficult to keep quiet when she is on pain meds.  Therefore, we have reduced them away and she is now on only antibiotics and NSAIDs.  No more pain meds. This surprises me-I thought the Tramadol would have a sedating effect.  It did not.    

·         The most important thing I’ve learned is that a network is THE most valuable aid that you have.  Between puzzle games and hints on tricks, I have had people to whine to when I’m at the end of my rope, people to encourage us both, and people to ask “what do you think about this?”

On last Sunday night, my husband said “well at least we are through the first week” and I said “no, this was only 4 days!” and he said “well it seems like a week already!”   This sort of sums up how it is going at our house.  Tulla seems to be recovering nicely while we continue to struggle and worry.  

Pictures this weekend, I promise!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Surgery Day

In the weeks leading up to this day, I alternated between wishing it was further away and wanting to just get it over with.  Almost daily I searched for information about what to expect, and found very little.  I didn’t know how debilitated she would be or how much I would have to care for her and her wounds.  I wrote a long email to our surgeon with some very tough questions, and, bless his heart, he answered every single one in great detail.  This gave me much more confidence and relieved a great deal of my apprehension.  Still, I didn’t know what I could do to prepare.  I put a crate in the living room and washed all of our dog bedding, adding a little bleach to the wash cycle to ensure that there was no bacteria.  I made a cute little sling out of fleece to help carry the weight of her hindquarters.  The night before surgery, I gave Tulla a bath, paying close attention to her feet as I was worried about the possibility of tracking bacteria into her bed and into her wound later on.  I also trimmed her nails extra short and tried to think of anything I had forgotten.  And we snuggled.
On surgery day, I took her in the surgical center early in the morning.  Just like her normal self, she bounded in the door and off down the hall with anyone that wanted to hold a leash.  Like a little kid that was ready for her first day of kindergarten, I didn’t even get a glance over the shoulder as she walked off.  And because the surgery was being performed out of town, I had nowhere to go.  So I wandered around for hours, shopping and remembering none of it.  I called a couple of times and apologized for bothering them, and then I got the call that all had gone well and the surgery was over.  I waited an hour or so (about as long as I could) and I went by to see for myself.  Still very groggy, she lifted her head when she heard my voice.  And even though I was probably in the way, I sat on the floor next to her crate for what seemed like hours. 
During this process we actually had 2 doctors, one surgeon and another that took care of everything else.  This second doctor was amazing nice and she helped me figure out how to lift her and she told me that she really thought Tulla was well enough to go home, but I said that I would feel better with her spending the night since we had a 2 hour drive home.  She also told me that our biggest problem would be getting her to be quiet for our upcoming 4 weeks of crate rest. 

The next morning, I was stunned to see a wide awake, tail wagging Tulla who was now missing all her surgical dressings (being helpful, she removed them herself!)  But most shocking was that she was standing on her own four legs.  Maybe a little shaky, but still, she was standing.  Both hips have 4-5 inch (or so) incisions that are stapled shut.  One had quite a bit of bruising, and the other had none.  Most obvious of all is her new haircut, with most of her hind end completely shaved, but with a big fluffy tail remaining.  I was thrilled to see her happy little face and I could not help but think of the “warning” I had gotten the previous day about trying to keep her quiet for 4 weeks when it was obvious that she was ready to “go.”  After a quick check of her incisions, an extra dose of pain meds before the IV came out, a big bag of pills, and a new cone of shame, we began the trip home. 

I’m sorry that I have no photos of the first days at home.  I have a few blurry shots from my phone, but that is about it.  I will try to do better! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bi-lateral double pelvic osteotomy (DPO)

This is medical terminology that I didn’t ever plan to ever know much about.  I guess I knew enough to figure out what it meant from the root words, but not enough to know what it MEANS when you hear the words come from your vet’s own mouth.  And that is sort of the purpose of my blog for the next few weeks (months?).  When we came home with a diagnosis, I tried to find out everything that I could.  And while I could find x-rays and details about the surgery, I couldn’t find out enough about what the initial days of living, post-surgical, would be like.  And the worry kept me up at night. 
So, for any of you that are curious and especially for those of you that have heard the words coming from your dog’s doctor, this is Tulla’s story.  I don’t guarantee that I will keep up with it daily, and I’ll try to include photos whenever possible, but it is pretty difficult to take photos and hold on to her at the same time.  And remember that this is just ONE dog’s story, your experience may be different.

The sign.

I got Tulla from a farm just before Christmas 2014.  I knew that without a solid pedigree of clean
hips, eyes, ears, etc, that I was taking a chance and so I have tried to be ultra-conscious of any signs of problem.  Some people thought too much so.  Of course we immediately played games to be sure that her hearing was okay.  Check. Whew.  We played on the tippy board and got a nice tight sit at all angles, and she loved to stand on it while it balanced.  Her favorite game was running across the pool cover, which sort of behaved like a trampoline.  She was building up nice strong muscles. In March when I headed to Reno with my other dog for AKC Nationals, I was happy to leave Tu with a friend who has a wide network of veterinary friends, and a substantial knowledge of dogs and puppies herself.  During this time, Tulla got to visit with a veterinary ophthalmologist who proclaimed that her eyes were fine!  Check.  Whew!!  But over the next few weeks I noticed a little something odd in her gait.  Some people also saw it, some said I was over reactive. 
Let me say right here though, that even those my Spidey sense was kicking in, my orthopedic sense was not.  I sort of thought something was wrong in her front.  We went to see a well-renowned veterinary orthopedic doctor and I explained my concerns.  After a thorough exam, he proclaimed her fit and suggested that perhaps as she was growing, it made her gait odd on occasion.  He didn’t see or feel anything.  I relaxed for a couple of weeks, but I could not let it go.
One warm spring day the dogs were playing around the pool deck… splashing with the hose and chasing one another.  And that is when I saw The Sign.  When I saw Tulla’s wet footprints on the cement, I noticed that her right rear leg did not travel as far in each stride as the left.  Even though she didn’t limp on it, I knew that this short stride was what was making her gait look a little off to me.  It wasn’t her front at all… it was her rear.
At this appointment I knew that x-rays would be necessary, and I kicked myself that I didn’t ask for them the first time-though frankly, I don’t know if it would have made a difference- maybe not.   Before we even did x-rays though, the physical exam showed that her right hip was loose in the socket and would click as it snapped in (I now know that this is called Ortolani's Sign).   Our vet was very straightforward saying that we would shoot the x-rays, but almost certainly she had hip dysplasia and following the x-rays we would talk about the treatment.  We talked about all the options, from DPO to doing nothing and treating it later when arthritis had set in.  And the possibility that she could live (as a pet, not a performance dog) a long life with no treatment.  But certainly, it would cause her pain, even then.  This surgery would give her the opportunity to be “normal.”  Apparently there is a small window of time to do the DPO surgery- before there has been damage, and the x-rays tell them if she is a candidate.  The x-rays looked good (for surgery) and we were in the “perfect” time window, and so it was scheduled.  I went home and googled “DPO” and “DPO” recovery.  I found some on TPO (triple pelvic osteotomy- which is similar, but an older surgical method- It sounded gruesome).  And a lot on TPLO (a knee surgery, it turns out, and not at all helpful in my search).  And without much of an idea of what was to come, we went home to wait until our day. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jeep stories

Recently, my brother wrote some short stories about our childhood and our memories about Jeeps.  And he challenged us to do the same.  So here is my offering... Jeep story one.

I read Jim’s Jeep story, and he is right.  Everyone has their own memories and they begin and end in different places.  This is my 1st jeep story, through the eyes and memories of a little girl… 8 years old.

Though his hair was completely white and he sported a grizzled white stubble by the end of the day, I never thought of this WWI veteran as old.  This grandfather of mine was the family patriarch in the truest sense of the word.  His decisions were final, his word absolute, and he would have risked his life to protect someonen in the family.  Even if he didn’t like you.   I always thought of him as capable, wise, funny, and very strong (even though he only stood 5’ 2”).  And I never wanted anything more in life than his acceptance.
A true “man’s man,” you would think that he would have no use for girls, but for some reason Grandpa and I formed a bond.  For starters, he would give me money to tell jokes to his friends.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized why these jokes were so funny… and inappropriate for a child.  But I didn’t know, and if I had, I wouldn’t have cared… Grandpa was always generous with the money in front of his friends.
But even beyond that, we “got along.”   And I was thrilled when he would pick me up to ride alongside him in the Jeep.  My little stubby legs would bounce (feet didn’t touch the floor), but he never reached out to make sure I didn’t fall out when we hit a bump.  “If ya fall out… it’s yer own damn fault.”  (Even if you are 7 or 8.)  Unlike Jim, he didn’t call me Sissy for reaching for the Sissy bar… I couldn’t even reach it most of the time.  Besides, he called me Sissy ALL the time.  I suppose he knew my name, but it never rolled off his lips. 
We had a great deal in common.  He liked dogs and I liked dogs.  He taught me how to talk on the CB Radio “AKO 1010… mobile to base.  Come in base”  We would tell Grandma where we were so she knew when to have lunch ready.  He taught me how to smoke Swisher Sweets and to this day I see his face when I smell cigar smoke.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll light one in his honor someday.  He let me have a slurp or two of his beer if I was thirsty, and, just like the boys, he expected me to help with whatever project he was working on.  Now I’m not going to say I was a lot of help, but he certainly kept me busy.  And no matter how tired I got or how heavy the work, I would never, EVER have whined.  Not to Grandpa anyway.  Whining would have been unforgivable.
Of the “chores” I helped him with, one of my favorites was minnow trapping.  There was never an end to the number of people fishing at the lake and an endless need for “shiners” to use as bait.   The minnow traps would be in the back of the jeep and I’d jump in.  Down the very steep hill to the narrow wooden bridge over mill creek to set the traps with some saltine crackers.  Jim talks about the Jeep smelling like cigars and beer,  but I will always remember a little bit of fish aroma on top of it all.  From the minnow traps, fishing poles, pieces of rope, there was always a tinge of fishy smell.  After the traps were set, we’d run an errand or two before we went back to get them.  I remember riding through “roads” so rough that I would completely bounce into the air, but always landed back in my seat.  I do remember him saying, more than once, “lean this way so we don’t roll” if we were going perpendicular to a steep hill.  That was probably his way of making sure I didn’t fall out… but he sure as hell wasn’t going to treat me like a baby.
When we got back to “run” the traps, we always needed a bucket of creek water to put the minnows in (the trap had holes, so all of the water would drain out on the way up).  So Grandpa would lay down on the bridge and hold on to my legs, while I hung upside down and dipped a bucket of water.  Then I would dangle some more and retrieve the minnow traps.  Despite the fact that I would have fallen headfirst into shallow water and rock, I never, not for even ONE SECOND became afraid that he would drop me.  Looking back I suppose we could have trapped minnows someplace easier, but I never thought to ask.  Then we’d ride back to the house…slower and not so bumpy this time so we didn’t lose any minnows.  Now that I think about it, he was much more careful with the minnow than he ever was with us!
Jim’s Jeep story ended on the June day that Grandpa died in that jeep,  and it did change a lot.  But for me, the fond Jeep memories continued on in all new ways.  In fact, some of my fondest memories are in the green jeep… taking trash to the dump.  But those are stories that will have to wait for another day.