- He is literally kneeling.
- You get a good sense of how solid he is and how he can in fact weigh 33 lbs!
Jake likes to burrow and burrito himself. I try to help him, I buy him nester beds and I cover him with blankets. He likes to do it himself. He (obviously) doesn’t have hands and his hind legs give out during the process so sometimes it takes him several minutes to get it just right. But he does it, and it’s pretty inspiring.
Each of these were preceded by a lot of noise, grunting and maneuvering. Notice how Melvin doesn’t flinch, he’s totally used to it.
Melvin had a crappy weekend/week. He couldn’t get his body up, he couldn’t get his body down. Steps were a challenge. Sunday night he moaned and whimpered. I somehow managed to get him in bed with me. While i think it was a painful move for him, he fell right to sleep once with me. Come Monday morning, we were off to the vet.
X-rays showed spinal arthritis and hip dysplasia — both moderate. X-ray also showed an enlarged spleen. Back into the car (getting him in and out of the car was torture on him and he cried due to pain) to go get an ultrasound. Since he was in such discomfort, they gave him a shot of pain medication before doing the ultrasound.
When they called me back to give me the results, they put us in the room with the candles and the rug — uh, no thank you! I would rather be given the results in the parking lot.
Kidneys, bladder, gallbladder and stomach looked ok. They couldn’t get a view of the liver (which would have been preferred but oh well). His spleen is big, way too big. You can see it sticking out on outside of his belly. There goes Melvin, and his side-car spleen. Although there were no signs of tumor (this made me feel better about being put in ‘the room’) there was lack of any definition between the spleen and his stomach. They are looking into what that could be about.
While his spinal arthritis and hips could have caused some discomfort, it is unlikely it would come on so sudden and be as severe. So, we decided to rule in tick born disease (not hoping for – just ruling it in over something even more serious). This is not the first time tick disease has been suspected in Melvin but it is the first time since the US has started experiencing a shortage of Doxycycline. That means I had to make a lot of phone calls and had to trade-in my car to pay for it!
The pain shot they gave him made him high as a flippen kite. No, wait, higher, it made him Jupiter. He didn’t like it one bit. He would just stand there confused and then his hind legs would start dropping and he’d panic and start walking and bump into stuff. He was dizzy. He wouldn’t even take a treat, I’m not sure he could even see the treat. Jake was mesmerized by this version of Melvin and apparently, high Melvin smells even more delicious. Video below.
It seems like Melvin is improving on the Doxy so we are going to continue it. I will update on Monday once we know for sure! Happy weekend!!!!
We have had a rough ride (nothing to do with the stroller!) this week. Melvin man has seemly gone from 9 to 89 in one week. We’ve been at the vet every day and are trying a round of Doxy to see if it is a flare-up of his mysterious tick born disease that struck-him-down similarly about two years ago.
So this week, as we try to get Melvin back to his actual age, I’m re-posting two popular entries that I get asked about a lot. Both have to do with Melvin man!
First, the post about my Grandfather’s dog, Prissy, and what it taught me about dog love. This post happens to be our most clicked on post. HERE.
And then, the post about Melvin’s aging and how I try to always embrace each day of it. HERE.
Go ahead, click and throw-back with us!
This weekend, Jake went on the best walk he’s had in six-months! He hopped right into his
Maserati stroller buggy and rode around like a boss. Melvin didn’t even flinch, it was like he’d been walking next to wheels his whole life. Best part…every walk since has been even better (most of that having to do with the driver getting better about pushing one dog and walking the other!)!
True to who I am, I left a full-page of written notes for anyone who clips Jake into the buggy. He get’s attached to his harness within/to the buggy then he gets clipped to the leash on his harness AND his collar. Safety first people, safety first! The buggy does not change the fact that we are still walking Jake the hunter.
Every night I put Jake in his condo and I drop his blanket in. I try to cover him with it but he usually throws the blanket off because apparently, I don’t do it right. So during the night, and I have no idea how, he cocoons himself.
I tried to get video of how he emerges from condo, with his
bridal train blanket trailing him, but Melvin almost trampled him so I had to play crossing guard. Video of him seeing the light of day…
This week, a few fosters we know that had gone to forever homes found out that it was not forever just yet and came back to their foster families. It got me thinking about my first moments with Melvin.
When I adopted Melvin, I vowed to champion his health issues. I pumped myself up and knew that we would overcome. I, for lack of a better way of putting it, would fix him. The first hour he was in my home and we were alone, I thought ‘crap, what have I done’. There was zero doubt that Max was going to leave me soon and extreme guilt set in that I had brought his (as it seemed) replacement home as if to say ‘we’re good, you can go now’. I looked in the mirror and saw a terrible person. I was certain Max would die that very first night, of sadness.
Also, all his health issues aside, Melvin was the canine version of Sid Vicious. I’m not joking, he was beyond energetic, for all I knew he could have been on crack. I thought he was deaf since he refused to listen to me, he didn’t know a single command. He chewed everything in sight, he rammed the glass doors trying to charge squirrels. He refused to sleep and if put in the crate would bark and howl and if let to be out of the crate at night, would leap on and off the bed, non stop. He apparently did none of these things in foster care. Walking him gave me panic attacks, when it was time to take him out, I would hide in the bathroom and cry. I said the words ‘I can’t do this’, 1,000 times. While I may never have gotten to the point of saying ‘he has to go’, I came very close. I was overwhelmed, I was in over my head, I was only human. Knowing that I had to lose Max, I didn’t feel very empowered to tame a wild beast.
There were many failures, many, so many, countless. Max died and weeks went by where I can’t say Melvin and I made very much progress. But in the same sense we were not making huge advancements, I had to admit, we’d at least persevered. He may not have sat when told or been easy to leash or walk but he’d learned to count on me. He knew I’d come home, he knew I’d feed him. I was there when he (finally) fell asleep and I was there when he woke up. That was more than he’d likely ever had. And I had gotten to know him too. Part of the reason he didn’t sit still was because he was so itchy. Walking on leash, well 1. he’d never been on a leash before and it was likely scary for him and 2. I was at the other end of that leash, giving off a nervous energy. It’s no wonder he lashed out every time. Also, I was in grief stage-one, the ugly, snotty, inconsolable phase. Melvin didn’t get the best of me at first. Max was gone, but Melvin was there. And slowly, as it was supposed to be, that became ok.
I was not the same person back then. In fact, Melvin is the dog that made me understand what commitment looks like. Max was easy. Melvin, he and I have ‘grown-up’ together.
I could have called the rescue and said take him back. I didn’t do it, but I could have. Some dogs and owners, from the very first moment, it’s magic (or it’s at least pretty ok) and that’s great! Thank God for those matches. Some first moments are heavy and scary –for dog and human and it takes a while to realize it’s good, right, meant to be. Some people need to hand off and take a deep breath and take a step back. Some of them find composure and come back. Some don’t. The ones that don’t, well I have to believe that is for the better. If they can’t be there in the beginning, they are likely not going to be there at the end.
We can’t control it all but we can applaud foster families and rescue groups and shelters whose doors are always open. Thank you to all of you who provide that interim forever. Thank you from the dog mom of a one-time-wildebeest-rescue-turned-soulful-bundle-of-love-and-joy.
And to those just embarking on the wonderful ride of dog ownership — we send you off with the words ‘forever home’ and it is forever and that is how you should approach it. But you should also realize that we have all been there and every forever begins with the first minute and then the second minute. Next thing you know you’ve gotten through a day. Then tonight will be better than the last few nights. Next thing you know, a few weeks have gone by, then a few holidays. Forever was not built in a day. But forever is awesome, so we are all hoping you get you there.
Jake’s legs are not doing great. The biggest challenge isn’t even the downtime, it’s how to keep him moving (specifically on walks) but still protect his feet. When he walks (outdoors), even on good days, he drags and knuckles and that results in scrapes and bleeding. You don’t realize how much he drags on one walk until you put socks or Pawz on him and when you come home, there are holes. I have bought 4 different varieties of socks, they all failed. I even tried doubling them up. Two different sizes of Pawz (small = too tight and impossible to get on and Med = too big and he has a hard time walking in them). I bought boots AND shoes, both a no go because they are just too heavy for legs that are already struggling to stay upright. Our most awesome dog walker has even taken to sewing him custom-made booties (taking into account all the things that don’t work above and trying to create something worthy of the little monkey)! Seriously, how amazing is she!
I want him to go on all the walks, I don’t want a life where we leave the house for some walks and he can’t go with us. But going on walks that get cut short due to sock failure is not working out great either. Melvin needs a few good walks a day.
I thought about getting him his wheelchair now, for use only on walks. The neurologist is pretty adamant that we don’t rely too much on the wheelchair YET, that we keep him working on getting around on his own. We’d still have him on legs at home and in the yard (he does great in grass). The challenge with getting him up and running (pun intended) on the wheelchair now is that Jake can barely stand still outside in the summer without overheating, in fact, during warm months, heat exhaustion for him begins at the thought of going outside. Strapping him to a wheelchair during the summer would be like setting him on fire in a field of straw and yelling ‘good luck little buddy’.
So I am now considering two things that I honestly never saw myself needing to contemplate: getting him a carrier (like I would wear him) or getting a pet stroller. Neither of those options feels right to me but they seem pretty right for Jake. I know plenty of people who stroll their dogs around, I just never thought it would be necessary for us. So this is probably a moment where I need to be realistic about Jake’s future. Leaving him home, sad-faced and feeling like we only take fulling-functioning-legged-creatures on walks is not an option. We are an equal opportunity household. So now, there are currently 10 different pet strollers, two wagons and a few carriers in my Amazon cart.
I’ll keep you posted. I wouldn’t count on the carrier option happening… Jake is 32 pounds and I’m not sure how I could ‘carry’ him and still be able to pick up after Melvin. That seems dangerous, for everyone. And, he’d probably pee on me.
Jake spent the entire weekend
stalking trying to bond with his brother. He smelled Melvin 50+ times (so much that I started to worry he smelled sickness or something) and he constantly tried to inch closer to him, even at times just in order to hover over him. If Melvin got uneasy and moved, Jake had a very dejected look on his face.
Video of his 47th sniffing session…
The windows in the house are fairly low to the ground but Jake is even more low to the ground so he can’t see out of them. Usually, him not seeing out of the windows is a good thing since he is almost always hunting prey (dogs, cats, people, wind). In the past, if he wanted to see out of a window, he’d put his front paws up on the window sill and stare out. Now, with his wonky legs, that is not always an option. When his front paws go up, his heiny hits the ground.
So, I got him a bean bag. A modern bean bag that looks good but that still functions as a perch for him. The bean bag part is so he can easily climb up and down but still be high enough for him to see out the window. Yes, clearly I gave the solution a lot of thought.
During the last six-months of Max’s life, he needed to wear diapers. He didn’t have great control of his bladder towards the end so he wore a belly-band and that was that. After we said good-by to him, I can’t say I missed that part. I would have continued doing it with no complaint, but I don’t think many people whose dogs need diapers will tell you that it’s the highlight of their day.
On bad-legs-days, Jake’s bum has trouble ‘holding it’. All of ‘it’. Especially at night. Unfortunately, he does not give me (or himself) any indication that he needs to go out so I wake up to him panicking or crying and by then it’s too late. While I’m happy to clean his crate EVERY NIGHT at 3am, I feel like that hour is better suited for sleeping so this weekend I got him some diapers. Of course he has to get the girl kind due to the fact that he can’t hold any of ‘it’ and since he doesn’t have a tail, I have to sew the tail hole shut. I got the denim variety so at least he could feel somewhat manly. Nothing says macho like little denim hot shorts. I’m sure he appreciates this.
I hope if I ever need diapers, no one blogs about it!
A lot of you started reading the blog after Melvin lost his tail. Back then, we didn’t have a ton of readers so whenever I post photos of when Melvin used to have a tail, it surprises people. I mean I know you don’t sit and think about Melvin 24/7 (although what a delightful day that would be!) but I’m guessing that most of you just figure that he came to me without the tail. Not the case. His previous owners surrendered him with a full tail.
If you don’t feel like working today or if you need a screen to stare at to pretend to work you can read the pre-amputation posts HERE (start at the bottom and read up) and the post-amputation updates HERE (start at bottom) and a few follow-ups HERE (you got it, start at the bottom).
For those of you who enjoy the cliff notes version (in the form of one giant run-on sentence)… Melvin got happy tail during our move because there were so many boxes and he wagged that tail hard and furious and one day his tail turned into a blood sprinkler and then there were weeks and weeks of trying to wrap it and there was more and more blood and it was so worrisome and frustrating and then infection set in and the tearful decision to amputate (I cried, not him) then the amputation was postponed then ultimately amputation for real this time followed by MONTHS of healing (because hey, it’s Melvin and we take the leisurely route) and you will end up with the nubbin version of Melvin.
I get asked (by strangers), probably weekly, why I… ‘docked a labs tail’, ‘cut off his tail’, ‘was so selfish to chop his tail off’ (this one I THINK is because they guess that I like wine and his tail was knocking it over too much??). Anyway…there are a lot of judgers out there. I usually say ‘he had to have an amputation due to injury’ and walk off. But sometimes, when I can sense the tone of big-ole-jerk, I just say ‘because I did’.
If I’m with someone who knows the story they will say ‘you should tell them how tormented you were, how much sleep you lost over the decision, how you tried everything to save it’. My feeling about that is, it’s over. That was a long time ago. Melvin doesn’t have a tail and he is fine. In fact when I was agonizing over the decision the vet said: the biggest impact will be on you, because you will know he doesn’t have a tail. He won’t care. In fact, he’ll be happy to not have it wrapped, or infected, or painful.
Not only is today our 500th post but it is also our three-year blogiversary! No fooling, I would never do that to ya! I’m not sure how it all worked out but yay us! And I’m pretty sure I didn’t realize it was April fools day when I did that first post way back when.
You know that I love the boys but I also really love writing this blog. If no one read (my mom always will) I would still do it. But you do read it, and that makes the whole experience even more rewarding. Because not only do you genuinely care, many of you have allowed us into your lives via your own blogs, or visits, or emails, or phone calls. So while I enjoy doing the blog, it’s come to mean so much more to us.
You are our extended family. And family sticks together and cheers for one another and provides encouragement and yippppeees and sometimes, empathy and sympathy when we face setbacks and grief. This blog community is where we go to work through breed discrimination, reactive dogs, and figuring out how to respond to those who claim ‘it’s just a dog’. It’s where we can share our success AND updates on dogs who shoot meatballs out of their butts. This extended family has changed us.
When I started the blog I had Melvin and we lived someplace else and he was six. I’d had him for three years at that point. Melvin even had a tail back then. Jake, although alive somewhere else, was a ‘maybe one day’ in our hearts (although he probably already had one googly eye focused on us). He was three. His legs probably worked better during that phase of his life. A lot has changed, but most of it has not. Love still guides us and drives us. We hope that’s always the case.
Thank you for lifting this little blog up. We LOVE you! We do, we do!!!