Frankenlegs.

It feels like Doug has been on lockdown for eternity.  I’m sure it feels even longer for him.  I was looking for a photo yesterday and realized that he had his first surgery back in April. It’s almost September. The earth has not shaken from Doug zoomies in almost five months.

Set me free woman. IMG_5892

This go around is going pretty good.  I think there is just a general depression and acceptance by both of us that it will suck until it doesn’t. The meds combo seems to be helping Doug stay calm.  When I say he stays calm, what I mean is, when in his jail cell he has not yet tried to run zoomies or stand on his two frankenlegs only.  He will stare directly into my soul and bark for a long time, but he does it while sitting so that’s good. But when I go to let him out, trust me, home boy tries to run. In the yard he will let me get a few steps ahead of him (he’s on leash) and then he will run for five steps just because he can.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The death stares are fewer and have turned into more of a plea to his captor to stop taking him in for surgeries.

A softer side of the death stare. Using only side-eye. IMG_5840

Brothers, why is she addicted to surgery? IMG_5855

No seriously, stop taking me places where I go to sleep and wake up with another frankenleg.IMG_5872

We joined an AMAZING support group on Facebook for dogs with frankenlegs like Doug and it’s been really helpful for perspective and encouragement.  There are a bunch of people and dogs just preparing for or coming home from surgery and there are a bunch who are at the end and have videos of their dogs running free for the first time. A reminder that the end of this will come.

Have a great weekend!  Seek and spread some joy!

 

 

 

Two weeks of deja vu.

It has been two weeks since Doug’s most recent surgery.  It has been 14 weeks since his first surgery. Here are some updates:

  • We resume rehab next week. We are coming up on the original date that rehab should have been done, but now it’s almost like we are starting over.  Well, it’s not almost like we are, it’s more like we actually are. Thankfully, Doug LOVES rehab.  We call it Peanut Butter City.
  • Doug’s sutures came out today. That means NO MORE CONE! The funny part is that this go around, Doug actually loves the cone.  He has mastered sleeping on his back and having his head propped up on the donut cone.
  • Something is going on with his old new leg (the one he had surgery on first, from here on out we will call that leg Franken-leg-one) When he walks, his hock/ankle hyperextends (to an alarming degree).  The surgeon looked at it today and said it was either nothing (just the way he is compensating for Franken-leg-two) or something (I cannot tell you what he said about this part because I passed out from fear it requires surgery).
  • Doug’s current meds are keeping him pretty chill.  I’m not a person who believes in jinxing but I am still cautious to say that too much.  This go around, I have kept him strictly in the crate (not the pen) so I also think that has had something to do with him remaining calmer.  He is going to graduate back to the pen this week so we shall see.
  • Due to the previous bullet point, my vodka consumption has been that of a normal person.
  • Doug has also been super snuggly this go around. Just before he tore his other ACL, and he had been jailed for 12 weeks, he was starting to be stressed.  I get it, he had no idea why he was being held hostage. During that time, he had started barking at me non-stop (which was so fun and rewarding), and growling at the situation  (which I mean, what is better after a long day at work than someone snarling at you?). I am trying to do everything I can to make jail time more positive.
  • In relation to the previous bullet point, I fit in Doug’s crate with him.
  • Doug almost got a sister a few weeks back.  I felt like it would have been a great time since he would have only had a few more weeks of inactivity and by the time he was cleared to play, we’d be through the shutdown period of them being separated.  Then his other ACL snapped…

Here are some recent pictures of my little inmate:

IMG_5613IMG_5628IMG_5680IMG_5686

And here is a photo of how Franken-leg-one hyperextends: IMG_5645

 

Prison life is boring.

I have never been in prison but I imagine its pretty lame. There is probably a lot of boredom mixed in with a bunch of chores, and a lot of anxiety about being shiv’d or raped.  Those last two are tidbits I learned from watching too much Law & Order SVU.

Doug’s prison time is just the boredom part.  He’s bored. I’m bored for him. And we have three to four more months to go.  Even though WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN F’ING DONE BY NOW BUT NO, HE HAD TO BLOW OUT HIS OTHER LEG TOO.

But I digress.

The update is, boredom.  His leg is healing nicely (from what I can tell). The gag factor from looking at it has gone from a 10 to about a 4. We had to put rehab on hold so that sucks. He’s still on pain meds so he is pretty chill. He was chill during this part last time too.  It’s when he comes off of the meds that he is intolerable hyper and hard to implement restricted activity.  That should be at some point next week when his staples come out.

Until then, it’s just a lot of staring at each other and him thinking I’m addicted to dog surgeries.

The day of surgery when he’s like ‘what the? She made me have another surgery? Thanks a lot Mommy Dearest. IMG_5588

Our cone game is strong. Since Doug eats them. IMG_5590

Gag. Gag. Gag. IMG_5601

A PSA from Doug: if you are going to do drugs, wear a donut.

IMG_5610IMG_5617

That day I was at work and watching him on camera and thought the cone strangled Doug because he had not moved in four hours so I yelled BOO into the camera’s mic. IMG_5652

And in this NSFW photo you can see how nicely the other leg (the one closer to the floor) healed up and we are confident this one will too.  He should only be franken legs for a few more weeks!IMG_5669

Here we go again.

Doug is 12 weeks post a complicated luxated patella and TPLO surgery.  Two weeks ago we waved goodbye to our surgeon. As of last week, we probably had about six weeks more to go until he was free to zoom. We had just come off of pen confinement and needing to be leashed in the house.  Our rehab had finally picked up in intensity to really start building his muscle back up. He was sleeping upstairs again.

In other words, we saw the light.

This weekend, Doug tore his other ACL. I’d personally like to live in denial of this.  But Doug can barely walk now and his second surgery is today, so it’s apparently time to take a bite of this reality sandwich.

I sorta wish we had not seen the light or given him more freedom. To have it given, then abruptly taken away, has left him angry. He now sits in the pen and barks at me non stop. Not ideal, for either of us. 

I don’t really have the words to describe how hard it has been to keep Doug’s activity restricted.  I know a lot of people probably say that about their dogs, but the people around us can confirm that Doug is not, most dogs.  He is constantly in motion. When he’s being held back, he goes into destructive mode.  And as much as that drives me nuts, it is way more taxing on him to have to live the life as an inmate. These leg issues keep Doug from being Doug. He should be going in and out of the house into the yard whenever he wants. He should be running zoomies. Instead, he’s been in jail and on tie down and the moment he starts to taste freedom again, the jail bars drop back down.

He holds me responsible for it all, and it definitely impacts our relationship building. 

I am not sure how we will get through round two, but I know we will find a way.  I mean, we have no choice. Hopefully since this one should only be the TPLO surgery and not the luxated patella fix also (please God), it may be a bit easier on him.  Not sure about that but I am holding onto that hope.

If either Melvin or Jake needed this surgery, or even if they both needed it at the same  time, we’d all probably be high-fiving.  Staying still and resting was their goal in life. They probably would have cut their own ACLs if they knew it came with months of inactivity.  This down time for Doug, goes against his DNA.

I have had Doug for almost 11 months. It is estimated he ran stray for about 5 months. I’m hopeful he thinks jail-city is still better than being stray, but I can’t be sure. I’m trying to focus on the positive: we can afford these surgeries, he has good insurance, he’s young so healing is faster. But the truth is, my little family needs a win. 

Last night when I was laying in bed saying no, no, nope, no to this happening, over and over like a crazy person, I had a vision of Doug running stray.  What if he had not been found? What if both of his ACLs blew out and he was dragging his bloody stumps around? What if, God forbid, someone found him and decided he was not worth saving?

He came to me for a reason. One of those reasons is to be mended. We all know he will get that. Another reason could be to test the boundaries of my sanity. This surgery may breach that barrier, but who knows, it might help us get through round two!

Is he going to test my patience?  Yes, absolutely.  Will he pick back up on planning my death? Probably.

Will we make it through? Of course we will.  We are joy warriors.

 

 

The worst.

I had a migraine last week. It was terrible. Doug, was even worse than the migraine.

To recap:

  • Max would lovingly lay over my legs when I had a migraine and was sick.
  • Melvin would climb into the big bed, and want for nothing until I was able to get back up.
  • Jake would lay at Melvin’s butt forever, he had no clue I was even there (although a few times he would come into the bathroom, I’m presuming to be sure the person who could reach the food was still alive).
  • Doug’s pre-game, game-game and end-game is torturing me.

He was a maniac the day of the migraine. On a scale of 1-10 energy wise, he was infinity.  He also reverted back to trying to be my backpack, something he has not done in months (and I had not missed). He also, tried to chew my hair.

But the worst part was, and I was extra stomach sick on this migraine, every time I was crouched over the toilet, he would bark, at the toilet, ferociously. Like foam from his mouth would fly into my ear because he was so close to the toilet and in some weird toilet-attack-mode.

So, I shut the door. But he could still hear me getting sick, so he would just flip out until I opened the door again. When I would get up and walk out, he’d run in and bark at the toilet some more.

During migraines, I often write things down, either things that happen during the migraine that I want to tell my neurologist about, or things I need to remember, as I likely won’t have recollection of them after.

I woke up the next day to find this note:

IMG_5566

Obviously I won’t. But don’t tell him that.

For those of you anticipating the ‘other leg’ update. We see the surgeon tomorrow at 10am.  Until then, I’m in denial.

 

Dear Jake.

I love you. You are one of the greatest gifts of my life.

It has been one year since I held you in my arms. I really don’t want to be marking this day on the calendar. I just want you here. Our time was cut way too short, Jakey.  I’m not sure I will ever makes sense of that. But, thoughts of you rarely make me sad. In fact, just the vision of you, brings on a flood of glorious joy.

You are my sunshine.

You were meant to be mine. There is no doubt. Your first family was to give up on you so that I could see you through your ‘special opportunities’. They were not joy warriors. They would not have been able to make sense of you like Melvin and I did.

You needed to know my love. In the process, I found more love than I ever knew existed.

You are the closest I will have ever come to having a child.  Not just because I changed your diapers and carried you, but because out of all the dogs I have had, you are the only one that relied on me completely. I doubt I will ever nurture anyone as much as I did you.

I was honored to be chosen to show you the way. But guess what little monkey, I think you guided me far more than I guided you.

Those months of intense grief that we shared after Melvin died, are forever, only ours. I would not have made it through if it were not for you. We grieved in exactly the same way and we needed space at the same time. Melvin was the Yin to your Yang but I was happy to fill in when it was just you and me. While I would have preferred you stayed here with me, I know that if given the choice between here and there, you would choose Melvin every time. Trust me. I get it. I love you even more for understanding so perfectly what Melvin love is all about.

Jakey, I love you completely, and beautifully and eternally. It’s a love that is woven through my bones.  It’s a crazy love, that even has me missing your damn meatballs sometimes.

You were not an easy puzzle to solve.  I hardly ever knew what to make of you.  I felt pretty confident, daily, that I had no idea of what you wanted or needed. You were my little cinder block. Impossible to read, unpredictable as F, and the funniest living creature that I will ever have the joy of laughing at/with/near.

I miss you. Some days, it’s still too much to put into perspective.

I’m not mad that life dealt you the hand it did.  I mean, I’d obviously prefer you lived a struggle free life, filled with joy and zoomies and peanut butter (and your odd carpet love making).  But that life may not have lead you to me. Sometimes, the road to true joy and unconditional love is paved by lessons in perseverance. That is our beautiful story, Jakey.

We earned our joy. We earned our love. I would only change that you stayed with me longer. It felt like there was not enough time with you. I will always feel that you deserved way more than eight years on this earth.  And this earth, deserved more you. There was just never enough Jakey to go around!  You brought the noise and the funk, and you were this tiny puzzle piece that when snapped into your forever spot, made our world come alive.

You made everything make sense.

Your eyes. I would give anything to stare into them (one at a time of course) again. But that is what all those photos and videos are for bud.  I can’t be a crazy dog person without admitting I have over 40,000 photos in my library. That library of memories of you and Melvin, is my most cherished possession.

There is something very soul changing about caring for a special needs dog. I remember how scared you were when your legs first gave out but Melvin rushed to you and I watched as you inhaled his love. I reached for you as your legs were swimming and you began to panic. You exhaled and melted into my arms and I knew and you knew and Melvin knew that no matter what was to come, we would always be there for you. Caring for you the last year of your life, with your eye, all the skin infections and the cancer, I learned so much from you. For all the shit that this universe dumped on you that last year, you responded with joy.

You and me, we won.

You and Melvin and me were meant to be. We are, and always will be, that little family who grew love and watched joy bloom.

Also, I know it’s  you who watches over Doug.  I know this with absolute certainty.  You are the perfect big brother for him. You guiding him makes my heart happy. I only wish you were here to torment him in person.  You would be the ultimate boss of him, bud! And, if you are taking request, calm him down any day now!

Jakey, my love for you lives on in so many beautiful ways. You changed me. I scroll my Facebook feed and I see a dog with no eyes or a dog dragging their legs and the old me would have said poor thing but Jake’s mom knows that there is nothing but opportunity in those photos. Because of you, I see the beautiful in the broken, I see opportunity for joy when faced with struggle. When the journey gets hard, I see you, and I’m reminded that all the obstacles, and all the twists and turns that occur, are part of my beautiful life unfolding. I know that you and Melvin and Max will always show me the way.

You know who doesn’t miss you?  All the neighborhood wildlife.  But they are stupid so who cares what they think.

I’m so grateful that I was chosen to love you. You are my beautiful purpose. My wonky, little-monkey. My googly-eyed, chicken nugget.

I love you. Your love lives on, in me. Forever.

xoxo

me.

 

 

Letters from Heaven. For mom.

Hi mom. It’s me, Jake.

Tomorrow marks one year since you and I were together.

I miss you.

I watch you cry. The same way I watched you cry after Melvin left us. I don’t know how to help you, I didn’t know back then either. But you knew. You always knew what to do.

From the first few months I was there and I would sit far away from you and Melvin because I was not used to interacting with anyone, you would say take your time bud, we are here forever. And when I slowly inched toward you, you didn’t smother me. You knew I needed space.  That seems like so long ago.

All I remember now, is the love.

You did that. You were the first person to truly love me. I didn’t make it easy sometimes. I made sweet love to all the rugs. I tormented Melvin. I thought for sure you would give me away like my first family did. But you never even suggested it. You just giggled, or said oh Jakey (and few absolutely nots, but I forgive you for those).

I never knew what unconditional love was until that day my legs stopped working. I was so scared. Remember how big my eyes got? Melvin was scared too but he ran right up to me. I mean he could have run away but instead he used his nose to try and lift me up. That was the moment with him, that I knew I had a soulmate. I know you were scared too and your eyes were leaky but you never left my side. You picked me up and I felt all the love in the universe through your embrace. Even when you said the vets said I had a wonky spine and would one day be paralyzed, you said this is why we found each other. We were meant to be, Jakey. 

And then you made it ok.

You got up with me every night when my bed got wet. You wiped me off so gently, I thought you’d be mad but you just sang to me. Even when the meatball factory started having odd hours, you still said it was ok. I used to think you were really strange, but now I know, you’re what love looks like.

You refused to go on walks without me. You said these are family walks and the whole family must go. Enter in my buggy!  I have never felt so boss as I did in that buggy.  Me and my Melvin man, ruling the hood!

You made me believe I could fly.

You and Melvin are my whole world. You are all I know. When Melvin left us, and it was just you and me, well I don’t know how I would have gotten through that time without you.  I know your eyes were leaky for him but you never missed any of my moments.

Every time I woke up, you were always there. When I couldn’t do something, you made it so I could. When my legs stopped working more, you carried me. I can still feel your arms hold me. I can still hear you say I got you bud as you kissed my head. The only thing more special about you holding me is how gently you would put me down and encourage me to try again.

I love you.

I love Melvin, it’s true. But please don’t ever think I loved him more than you. I wanted to come see him, I just sorta thought I could then come back to you.  Now we both sit and watch over you. Max too. I know you and Melvin have your own language, and me and you never really had that, but I also know you don’t need two dogs with the same super power. I have my own connection with you; I will always be your baby.

You are my only human. Not just the only one who was ever there for me, but the only one I would ever want. You are my beginning and my end and all the love in-between.

I want to thank you for knowing. That day when I got outside and I sat in the mulch, staring at a yard I could no longer run in. Staring at a space where Melvin and I used to be. You watched me. You even took a picture. And after you put the phone down, and you were leaning in the doorway, I looked at you, and you knew. You told me you would never let cancer win. Your eyes were so sad but I saw so much love in your face and I knew you understood. After everything I asked of you, the love you showed me at the end, well…those moments are ours. And they made my life complete.

Thank you for seeing me through what you did. I will never stop returning the favor of watching over you. I will never close both googly eyes until you are here with me (NO RUSH THOUGH!!).

For now, I will be with Melvin (and Max), but just like on earth, we are always your little family. Our love lives on. In you.

Love, your Jakey.

P.S. I love you so much.