Wonkalicious.

It appears that at some point in life (pre-us), Jake had some sort of spinal injury.  We don’t have any details on that but we do know now that from that, he now has spinal cord scarring.  I saw the area on his spine that has the scarring when the neurologist showed me his MRI.  At the time, the theory was that area was either injury, scarring or cancer.

Since Jake showed no improvement the last few weeks on medication, we have ruled out current injury.  Since he did not deteriorate drastically, we are ruling out cancer.  That leaves scarring.  In this scenario, injury would have been best, but scarring is way better than cancer.

So this is our new way of life.  Jake’s legs are pretty good about 75% of the time and not and not good the rest of the time (of his awake hours).  It’s likely he will stay this way and that we can anticipate an eventual, yet hopefully gradual, decline over the course of his life. We are going to try rehab.  They don’t anticipate it will help but since it won’t hurt, I’d obviously like to TRY.

It’s all good.  One of my favorite sentiments is that (and I’m sure it’s an actual quote but I’m not sure of its exact wording)… The hurdles and twists and turns in the path, are in fact, the path.  I have always tried to remind myself and others that come good times or challenging times, this is your life, don’t forget to live it!  So we have leapt into Wonkyville, made Jake the mayor and plan to make the very best of our time here!

When Jake’s legs go out now, he just lays down for a bit.  If his legs start sliding out from under him, he props himself up against a wall. From Jake we learn, ‘if you stumble-make it part of your dance’.  I love that dog.

Here is a photo of Jake being super-stylish at the neurologist and two others of the brothers…

1 27 14b

1 27 14 1 27 14a

New awesome stuff.

The boys got some new Sirius Republic collars (shocking I know!) and some super cool snoods from Sirius also! (Thank you, SR, WE LOOOOOOVEEEEE YOU!)  To be fair, Jake’s neck is growing (in his sixth year of life) so I have to replace some of the collars I already have for him.  Fear not, we are OF COURSE donating his too-small-collars to dogs in need!

1 23 14a 1 23 14

1 23 14g 1 23 14f

Also, our dog walker is a crazy talented knitter and has made Jake (Melvin’s is coming!) a new sweater!  She sent me the photo middle of the day yesterday and I had to laugh.  For a nano-second I swore I could hear Jake singing: ‘won’t you be my neighbor’.  I’m so in love with it, it’s like a blanket!

1 23 14b

1 23 14e 1 23 14d

Do something.

Today, in honor of MLK day, let’s all do something.  Promote peace. Be a voice for someone (or something) who can’t speak up for themselves.  Don’t look the other way, instead, decide to stare something down – bullying, ALL forms of discrimination, cruelty of ANY kind.

The key to a better today, a brighter tomorrow – is us. Do. Something.

The boys of course are going to nap, but it’s on a couch with a ‘peace’ pillow so there’s that.

photo[6]

The new rug.

When I moved into my previous house the hardwood floors were VERY light.  Max was a chocolate lab.  All I ever saw was his hair.  So when we replaced the hardwood floors, we went with dark.  One month later, Melvin came.  He is light-haired.  Max left us a few month later.  Lesson learned, never attempt to match your hardwood floors to your dog’s hair color.

In this house, the hardwoods I choose were middle of the road.  A color called saddle.  Melvin’s hair shows up but not terribly.  Same for Jake.  The house gets cleaned weekly, I vacuum every other day (for Melvin’s allergies). For the most part, the hair does not bother me.  Ask anyone at work, I have dog hair on every thing I wear.  Who cares.

But there is one rug that drives me nuts. It’s the rug where the couch and the TV are. The one where we spend the most time. It’s black.  I could vacuum one spot on that rug for for days and the moment I turn it off, a blond hair will float down onto it. Then four million more. That rug mocks me. Last week I was sitting on the couch and I had to question why I had a black rug in the first place.  WHY?  WHYYYYYYYY?  I can only ignore the supposed-to-be-black-rug-but-its-not-anymore rug for so long.  So I ordered a light-colored rug.  I thought, hey, one surface on the main floor of the house can look hair free!   It came and I can’t see a single dog hair on it.  Yay, right?

First night, red wine spill.  It was just a little and it came up but I realized I need to give up, let it go.  Deal!  You win dog hair, you win!

Here are the boys laying on the rug that will never show their hair, but will show EVERYTHING else!

Am I allowed on this rug?photo

Are we both allowed on it?photo[1]

I wonder how long until he throws up on it. photo[2]

Or the little one shoots a meatball out on it. photo[3]

Who cares cause look how cute they are!photo[4]

And Melvin’s throne that chair, covered in dog hair! Wouldn’t have it any other way. photo[5]

Happy weekend!

I think my butt gettin big: A story by Jake.

Yo.  It’s Jake.  Stuff’s going cray over here.  First off, wetness falls from me, pretty much all the time.  Am I a sprinkler now?  All I know is I walk, and turn back and there is liquid.  I sleep, and when I wake up, it’s like I’m in a stinky hot tub. Thankfully, She really enjoys cleaning so it’s almost like I’m giving her a gift.

Also, and this is really weird, but I think my butt is getting too big.  I mean, that must be it.  It’s getting too big and my legs can’t hold it up so they fall down.  I mean I have eyes that can see my backside, even when my face is forward and although it doesn’t look any bigger, what else could make my legs fall except for a heavy boo-tay.  I know my name is Jake, but maybe it should be J-Lo.  Baby got back.

When my legs fall down, my giant butt hits the ground.  Sometimes my legs go backwards and my stomach hits.  None of it is good folks, I look like I’m drunk.  I mean thank goodness the paparazzi has not caught it on camera, YET.  I only dressed up like Snooki for Halloween, that is not really who I am.

When I wake up, sometimes my back legs don’t feel like walking.  Maybe they are tired of holding up my big butt or maybe they are afraid that my butt got bigger while I slept.  I either swim on the hard floor or she carries me.  She must be so strong.

She took me to an all day doctor, I ain’t falling for that one again.  They did all kinds of stuff to me.  They did so much stuff that I must have fallen asleep.  Apparently, some sort of hazing occurred while I was napping because I woke up with a shaved head, leg and stomach.  I’m a punk bulldog, I don’t do fraternities.  Why on earth would they haze me or shave my precious body?  Those areas itch now, thanks jerks.

So that’s what’s up with me.  I create wetness and my butt is so big it broke my legs.  One good thing is that my brother apparently likes sprinklers with broken gams cause he is all up in my love junk trunk.  He’s so cool.  And no matter what, my ass could never be as big as his, so that makes me feel better and love him even more.

Happy Tuesday readers.  J(ake)-Lo out.

Gratuitous booty shot:1 14 14

Quicky update.

Willy Wonky legs is doing about the same.  I wouldn’t say he is better but I can confirm he is not worse so I view this as a positive!  His legs tend to give out on him at inopportune times.  Like when he first wakes up and wants to burst out of the condo and make love to the closest rug, his energy level does not match his hind leg strength/weakness.  His legs also tend to give out when he’s pooping.   His butt usually ends up falling into said poop. Hey thanks universe!  Also, his response to prednisone is unlike Melvin’s response.  They are the same in that they have to pee A LOT but Melvin senses he needs to pee and asks to go out.  Jake can miraculously be drinking water AND peeing at the same time. True story. We are on the downward taper of the prednisone now, THANK THE GOOD LORD!  We ran out of Nature’s Miracle last night, I didn’t even think that was possible because I had so much. 

Melvin knows something is up with Jake and he is both über sweet and extremely challenging.  Sweet in that when Jake is struggling and sending a panicked vibe, Melvin goes to him and nudges him or licks him or just generally stands near him.  Extremely challenging in that they are dogs, and siblings. Melvin expects to go through doors before Jake, down steps before Jake, to get to the front door to bark at the Brown Truck guy before Jake.  In these moments, I almost have to scoop Jake up so that he does not get hip-checked or trampled.  We are figuring it out!

We have a follow-up appointment next week.  Until then, happy weekend!  Hopefully you are all warming up or at least getting back to a normal vortex.

I’m sorry I pee’d in my bed, again.  I wake up and it’s just there.1 10 14

Hey Lady, he pee’d again.  I’m staying up here to remain dry.1 10 14a

Hello awesome community.

The moment Jake’s legs started giving out I immediately reached out to people who might be able to share their dog’s similar experience with me.  One of those lovelies was an Instagram friend @pugmaize. I have never met @pugmaize. I found her through a friend (Emily from Our Waldo Bungie). All I really knew was that I loved her photos and through those pictures I knew she had a Pug and that Pug had wheels (who I secretly plan to ‘borrow’ at some point for squeezing and snuggling,  Pug not the wheels). So I sent her a FB message to ask if I could inquire about Pug’s road to wheels.  I figured she’d message me back eventually (after she contemplated if I was a stalker and weighed risk factors).  Oh no, within two minutes she reach out with a ‘hell yes, how can I help’ and gave me her phone number.  HER PHONE NUMBER!  I’m a stranger!  Sure, my blog is funny and the pictures are cute but this awesome human being was taking precious evening minutes and saying, ‘here, take my time, call me, let’s talk’.  Holy crap, life can really deliver an angel when needed most.  I hung up from that call, happy.  Feeling more capable. Reminded of how freaking wonderful people can be.

So 1. @pugmaize is beyond the comprehension of coolness.  I encourage all of us to be more like her.  Take time for others, reach out to strangers even.  Chain reaction this one folks, let’s call it ‘pulling an @pugmaize’!

And 2.  This blog and social media community of animal lovers we are in, well, please let me live here forever.  Know that if any of you need what I needed the other night, I will be here, there, anywhere and I will pay this kindness forward.  Support, compassion, humor during difficulty – yes, please!

Jake (and Melvin!) say Happy Tuesday!1 7 14

Willy Wonka legs.

As mentioned in our previous post, Jake’s legs have always (in the year I’ve had him) been wonky.  Just before Christmas, I started noticing a wee bit of instability.  His hind legs would teeter a little and a few times he’d end up in a sitting position with his legs having slipped out to his side. Nothing consistent, but I decided to make an appointment with a local vet who specializes in Bulldog breeds (mostly due to the breathing issues he was having but figuring he could help with legs too!).   Due to the holidays, the appointment was for right after the New Year.

The day of the appointment, Jake was walking towards the mudroom for our morning walk and his hind legs gave out behind him.  He panicked and so did I.  His eyes bugged (even more than normal) and his hind legs appeared to be swimming on the hardwood floor behind him.  I went over and held him.  I then set him upright and he was able to walk again.  We went out and on our way back in, his legs gave out again.  I carried him in.

By the time we got to the new vet, Jake’s hind paws were knuckling.  The legs giving out were worrisome enough but I motored through those moments.  The knuckling made me feel sick.  They did x-rays.  Jake’s normal-up-to-that-day-wonky-gate was somewhat explained, he had 5 vertebrae in the center of his back that were for lack of a better technical explanation, jumbled and missing disks.  But there was not a ton of certainty that his crazy spine was the cause of his sudden hind leg weakness.  So that two hour vet appointment turned into a call to a Neurologist who got Jake an appointment for first thing the next morning. As the new vet did blood work on Jake for the tests he was sure to be having the next day, I went out to my car and cried.  Then I pulled my shit together and took my little guy home.

The next day we saw the very same Neurologist that Melvin saw a year-and-a-half ago.  Up to this appointment I personally knew one dog (Melvin) who had had a spinal tap and one person.  By the end of this day, this very same doctor would perform a spinal tap on the second of my dogs, along with an MRI.  Because of our past experience with him, my fears about anesthesia were lessened a bit.  I loved on Jake and handed him over to the awesome staff.

Here is my version of the findings.  Jake has a curved spine, at the same spot where he has the jumbled vertebrae and no real disk matter.  This is apparently an issue he was born with (and is not uncommon in Frenchies). Father down his back, there are few disks that are slightly compressing his spine but that part is fairly mild. He also has two spinal cysts in another spot, again, compressing his spine. These things independently are not wildly worrisome but together, they create a spine situation that can be easily injured, even by just jumping off the couch.  These things together,  explain his gait up to this point.

But those things didn’t cause the majority of concern with the neurologist, wonky gaits are hardly a 911. What he was concerned about, and what he suggested was causing the current issue with Jake’s hind legs, was a certain area of Jake’s spinal cord.  This area showed abnormal coloring/structure/tissue. Immediately the hope was that it was an infection, but the spinal tap ruled that out. The other things it could be are…

  • Spinal injury.  Jake is on a course of prednisone to see if there is inflammation.  If he improves, we will call it injury and he may end up staying on prednisone to help with future bouts of inflammation that could cause him trouble.
  • Spinal cord scarring.  If its scarring, Jake will not improve on the medication.  The issues he is having will not get better and over time his condition would decline. This scenario would eventually require him to be aided with mobility.
  • Spinal cancer.  We are putting this lowest on likelihood but they are unable to rule it out.  If Jake were to worsen over the next few weeks, we would have to move this up on the list.  Unfortunately, the spinal cord cannot be biopsied so we can’t get an immediate ruling on this. We didn’t go into a ton of detail on this one but I’m guessing this would not be a good outcome.  Thus, I refuse for it to be this.

So far there hasn’t really been a ton of change in Jake.   To be clear, his legs are not unusable all day.  I would say that about 20-25% of the time that he is awake they give out on him.  The rest of the time he just tends to be extra wobbly and falls over a bit easier than normal.  He is no longer allowed to jump off the couch, even gingerly.  I lift him up and down.  I let him do the steps if he can, otherwise I carry him. He is allowed to go on slow, short walks but if he is knuckling, I just let him out back so that he doesn’t  damage his precious, beautiful paws.

He continues to be adorable as ever.  He is eating fine.  Melvin still shows him who is boss.     Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out.  I will carry, stroll or wheel him to joy, always.

Thanks for all the well wishes, we love, love, love each and every one of you!  As you can see from the photos below, it’s pretty normal around here. And clearly Jake’s nose is still able to sniff Melvin’s bum.

1 6 14a 1 6 14

Meant to be.

Melvin and I have been through a lot.  So many issues, way before this blog was even a thought in my mind.  Many tough decisions were made and most of them were decided on a wing and a prayer.  I had no idea what I was doing, I had to have faith in veterinary medicine to offer us the right options and I had to have faith in myself to make decisions for Melvin’s well-being.  I have said this before and I’ll say it again, when asked if I wanted Melvin’s life to be measured in time or quality my response was, is and always will be:  I want his life to be measured in joy.

My approach with Jake is no different.

Jake has always (in the year I’ve had him anyway) had wonky legs.  They don’t bend when he moves, in fact when he runs they remain straight and go in a circular pattern.  Sometimes he throws in some hops, using only three legs.  Up to last week, that was his norm.  Then, suddenly,  his hind legs began to give out.  It’s not cool.   So we went to the vet, and then to a specialist. I have to remind myself to be brave. For example, when we went to our emergency Neurologist appointment and I saw this sign, I started crying. The appointment hadn’t even started yet!  Pull it together woman, that little nugget needs you!!

photo

Maybe when we rescue dogs we assume a little of the ‘they’ve been through enough already, I want to show them how good life can be’ and when health issues get in the way it thwarts that grand master plan.  But then I’m reminded that whatever they face, whatever happens to us in this magnificent life is in fact the plan, the path, as it is meant to be.   What rescue is really about is showing them that no matter what, you are staying put. You two are forever.  Decisions, bring them on.  You wanna show me some scans, hell yeah, let’s do this.  We shall stand solidly (or in Jake’s case slightly wobbly) next to one another.   If need be, I will carry you. 

I will update on Jake’s appointments in my next post.  We are currently trying some medications and his response to those will greatly help in figuring out exactly what is going on so hopefully I can report on that too!  For now he is snuggled up, wanting for nothing (well maybe wishing Melvin would let him be top dog just once) and feeling the love. Pretty much just a typical Sunday.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5