Jake continues to have good days and bad days (from a legs perspective). I don’t count the days but it feels pretty 50/50. It’s all about giving him time to adjust, he needs to figure out how to accommodate his limitations. I have ideas I’d share, but little guy still does not speak human.
How he has evolved so far…
He can now go down steps on his own by letting his hind legs swim out behind him.
He can lift himself onto the couch using only his upper body strength and front paws, it’s amazing to watch! He can also go up steps this way.
He has started signaling to me if he wants to watch out the window. I will help him get his front paws up on the sill and he will hang there, doing a modified push-up/chin-up. I guess he might need some muscle T’s now. (Obviously I came up with a better solution for this one – it’s called just look out the door).
He knows when he can ‘run’ (in grass) and when he cannot (on concrete).
He takes a beak when his legs give out, wherever that happens to be.
It is what it is, we have to deal. I will admit that one part I still can’t bear to see is him knuckling. I don’t know why it upsets me so much. I think it’s because when he does all the other things, I know that he is aware of the adjustment he has to make. When he knuckles, I have to accept that he does not know it’s happening. It doesn’t hurt him and I’m sure to keep him on soft surfaces during those moments but he does not have the brain-to-leg connection at that moment. It pains my heart a little to watch.
This is the story of the chipmunks. It all started with one chipmunk who seemed harmless and pretty minimal on the destruction. Melvin and Jake had fun chasing her and she lived under some small brick steps leading to the garage. Whatever.
Well.. turns out girlfriend is pretty slutty and babies are popping up all over the flipping yard and every night there is some sort of frat party (to see who can be the next baby-daddy) so when we come out each morning there are shells and food trails and HOLES and TUNNELS.
I will not tell you what I googled on the subject but it was not ‘gift ideas for an expectant chipmunk’. Also, the whole thing has the dogs going nuts, and not in a good way for anyone. Melvin can’t focus on anything when he’s out back due to their scent being everywhere. Jake thinks some food fairy shows every night to leave him shells to eat. Also, since they seem to be making good use of the whole yard and patio, Jake feels the need to mark all areas, including the brick. If we see one of the squatter family members on a walk, well the walk has then ended cause Jake starts foaming and flipping and honking and I HATE CHIPMUNKS. There, I said it.
They are adorable for 13 seconds which is apparently how long the gestation period lasts. I want them gone. GONE! Please make them go away. For the love of all things good and holy, I’m just not a chipmunk person.
This weekend, Jake turns seven! He came to us when he had just turned five so he has spent almost 14 of his dog years with us! Way back when he turned five, on that very day two years ago, his family gave him up for adoption. I have to doubt they knew it was his birthday. Either way, I think it was the best gift they could ever have given him. If they didn’t have time for the Jake back then, they would not have time for the Jake of today.
Yes, some of his issues can complicate a day. Yes, he’s noisy, and stinky and such a dude in so many dude-dog ways. But he’s my beautiful, complicated handful of a stinky dude-dog! Not one hour in life goes by that he does not make me laugh. He teaches me that limitations are only what you make of them. No matter the number of birthdays we’ve spent together, my love for him stretches back and forward infinitely.
Happy Birthday to my little chicken nugget, to my mini-monkey, my wonky-legged-googly-eyed-spaz! You are spectacular at seven! You are loved to all the way to the non-planet Pluto and back and back around again and again and again!
I don’t know if I believe in chance or fate or signs. I don’t know if things happen for a reason. I mostly believe things happen and we have to deal with them and that how we deal matters. I believe that what we put out into the universe, will in some way come back to us. That doesn’t mean that if you only throw out kindness that bad times won’t come your way. Bad times, good times, neutral-boring times, they will all come. But the goodness, it will come back too, hopefully when you least expect it but need it most.
We got a call on Friday that one of our vets (we have many) was able to get us TWO bottles of Apoquel. Not one, TWO. And not little bottles, we are talking the bulk bottles that vets use to dispense out smaller quantities. That means, and let me tell you I am still squealing with so much joy, that BOTH Melvin and Jake are now on it! I can already see a difference! Jake’s redness is fading. Melvin has a calmness that comes from not having to gnaw on his paws all day. I am filled with so much gratitude and even if this good fortune came our way because of something we put out there, we will still pay it forward. Above all, when good things happen for us, we want others to feel joy too!
Apoquel means that Melvin might be able to get off the prednisone. Might, we aren’t sure yet. But if he can get off it some or all together, his life could be longer. I mean I’m setting some pretty high hopes but when you think about our goals of his life being measured in joy, not time, Apoquel is something that could give both joy and time. And that option has not been a factor with him, ever. Now, the realist in me always kicks in, I know that Apoquel might not be enough for Melvin, prednisone might still be needed. But a door is open and we are going to walk through and see. And in the meantime, double-ear-infection-and-on-an-antibiotic-for-a-skin-infection Jake will for sure feel better. He’s been on this before, we know it works for him!
Apoquel combined with the fact that the first frost WILL come… hot damn we are happy!!!!!! Can’t you tell how excited they are!!!
Jake has this new thing where he wants to prop his chin up. I think he has realized he can breathe better if his face is not smashed into the couch, bed, rug. Go figure Jake! So he will drag items to where he wants to be and use the object to hold his head up when he is lying down. He’s also making much better use of the couch. Maybe it’s his way of being optimistic and reminding people to keep their chins up.
Sleep situation update: Could not be going better! After rearranging their bed positions (not sure what made me think this could work), they both gravitate to their own beds and are staying there all night. This is great for Jake who hunkers down and has been accident free (and that part is great for me!). I think he appreciates the view of Melvin’s butt as he is drifting into dreamland. It’s pretty odd that Melvin is staying in his bed all night, I’m thinking he is so tired on the Melatonin that he can’t even garner energy to get up to join on the big bed (and also if he positions himself just right, he can avoid Jake’s deep gazes into his soul).
This week has it out for us, and to that I cry… ‘Uncle’! Jake’s skin is blood-red, his fall allergies are far worse this year than last year and he is beyond miserable. We have prescriptions antihistamines that are doing NOTHING (well that is not entirely true, they are making Jake throw up). We have two vets searching the universe for enough Apoquel to get us through to the first frost. This area is completely out of it and despite Jake being on before the shortage, we were unable to get him on the list to continue getting it. Add to the injury of his allergies is the insult of a double ear infection. He shakes his head so hard that I worry his eyes will pop out. We went to the vet this morning – he was literally unable to stop shaking his head. They infused medicine into both ears, never had this before, and apparently it is thick and will stay in and treat him from inside his ears for two weeks. Now if only his skin was not on fire.
It is almost certain that Melvin has Cushing’s. He is on prednisone (the cause) and has every single symptom. We can’t get him off the pred until after the first frost and that will take time to taper him until he can be off for two weeks to be tested. In the meantime we are trying a natural approach to treatment, Melatonin (what’s four more pills in the pill-box?!). The Melatonin has shown really great treatment results in some dogs and it’s something we can use while he is still on the prednisone. The side effect, he’s exhausted. He sleeps a lot now, even more than before!
Here is Jake post appointment. He keeps toppling over due to the heaviness in his ears. Melvin is too tired to care.
Some eat when things get stressful. Some smoke, drink, shop, cry, whatever. Jake poops. At the vet, meatballs for everyone! When I leave the house with Melvin only, hey mudroom, meatballs for you! In the buggy on walks when he see’s prey but realizes he’s strapped in, this buggy needs some meatballs!
This morning, we had a mobile pet spa come and give both boys baths. They take them out to the van one at a time. Melvin went first. Jake was so wounded to see Melvin taken away that he started howling. As he howled… meatballs started shooting out. I mean he must feel things pretty deeply for his bowels to be reached.
Something Jake loves, his new nighttime freedom. Something Jake hates, being left in a room or upstairs/downstairs alone. He will check every so often to make sure he has not been abandoned. This was never an issue when he slept in the condo, I could leave the room and he was fine, there was nothing he could really do so he’d just sleep. With the new bed set up and since he has googly eyes, he can’t always see at night if I am in the bed or not so he has to get up and walk over and make sure. Keeping his cloak blanket on is a skill he has worked really hard on perfecting.
Melvin continues to challenge the medical community. His allergies are flaring up a bit right now and to be honest, I’m not even sure why. My guess is he has developed an allergy to something he was fine with just a few months ago. Why universe, why?
Itchy McItcherson and his sidekick, wonky-legged-diaper boy.
Also, his back arthritis is taking him some getting used to. He’s on pain medication, laser therapy, and he takes joint supplements but the fact remains he can’t always pull jumps off. This is the phase in his life when he doesn’t realize his body has limitations so he attempts things and it doesn’t work out and he ends up wiping out. Not fun for him to go through, terrible to watch. I help him up and hope he remembers next time. In the same way a puppy learns what he can and can’t do, and older dog realizes that laying on the rug is sometimes easier than hoping up on the bed. And that my dear readers, is the exact moment you join them on the floor.
His liver values continue to stink. We aren’t talking a hundred or two hundred over, we are in the thousands off count (we like to overachieve!). A popular theory is that he may have Cushing’s. The problem is, it’s incredibly hard to test him for it and perhaps even more difficult to treat him. My guy has been on prednisone his whole life. Long before I got him and everyday since he came to me at age three (he is now nine). He has been at the internist or at the normal vet on days when we have withheld morning food/pills and by noon, he is gnawing his body. The prednisone was a life decsion. It was part of the master plan: we choose joy over time. If there was something that could take the place of the pred, we would make that move in a heartbeat. But as of yet, nothing works like it. And seeing him chew his body to relive the intense itching…no. No.
Sometimes, post seizure or after a bad liver update, we don’t get the answers we’d like. We often get no answers at all. Sometimes we all just agree to watch him, look into alternatives, pray for a change in direction. I don’t love that part, it used to weigh on me a lot more than it does now. Now I just head home with Melvin and give him ice cream or something else he shouldn’t have but that makes him so happy that it’s worth it.
Ice cream coma.
While I am not happy about the things that haunt him, I refuse to be sad. He doesn’t know he’s a hot mess and I find so much humor in that. He’s loving, and exuberant and constantly hungry. He continues to drool water farther than any dog I have ever seen. He’s Melvin, and this is part of what I got when I rescued him. It’s a package deal.
Jake has always slept in a crate condo at night. There are a few reasons for this. At first it was to give some distance between the bed and his insanely loud snoring him. More recently it has been because as his legs fail, his ability to ‘hold it’ is slipping away so I was trying to keep it all contained, especially since I don’t like him to have to wear a diaper at night. His junk needs air!
The problem is… he is not very good at alerting me if he goes at night. Let me rephrase that, he just moves over and goes back to sleep. The only indication I’d have that something has happened is a break in the noise. Silence is his alert. If I get up in the middle of the night, I’ll check to see if there are any issues. But that is not the best system, I can’t have the little guy laying near grossness.
So… I have decided to try to train him to sleep on the dog bed sans a crate. And I do mean stay on the beds. I have pads between the cover and mattress of both his and Melvin’s bed. If I can train Jake to stay on one of those two beds, I think we can continue to leave the diaper off (seriously people, everyone’s junk needs air!) and if he has an accident in the night, he can just move over to Melvin’s bed. Melvin starts in his bed but always moves to the floor or my bed during the night so that vacancy is almost guaranteed.
We started this weekend. I moved the condo to the loft, washed everyone’s bedding and used the command they both know ‘your bed’.
That went well except I could tell that 1. Melvin noticed the lack of barrier in a negative way (What the F is this?) and Jake noticed it in a positive way (for him at least) (sweet freedom!) as he got into bed and then stepped back out of bed leaving one foot on base to be sure to meet the command criteria of ‘your bed’.
Jake tried to get up a few times but for the most part he went to sleep and stayed there all night (accident free I might add). Melvin stayed in the new set-up all of 14 seconds. He decided to sleep far away from a non-contained Jake.
Night two has me thinking that Melvin may move out.
Jake doesn’t smile. In fact, if you went by photos alone, you’d think he was a crabby dude with a rough, unhappy life. Even when he’s hot, his mouth barely opens to pant. I have no idea how he gets food into his mouth, I think he uses a sucking/suction approach.
Take the following photos, they were all relatively happy moments in Jake’s life. Can’t you tell?
But then it happened. And luckily, it was caught on camera!