Doug’s surgery.

Doug has surgery tomorrow to repair/replace/fix (all of those I guess) his kneecap issue.  All I know is that the kneecap is unable to get back over and they have to carve out some notches in his bones to allow it to get back into place and they will also move around some tissue to accommodate that and hold the kneecap in place.  I’m the 101 of medical speak. The surgery worries me less than the recovery. Well the anesthesia worries me the most, followed by recovery, then surgery.

Doug has to be chill/still for four-weeks.  I’m not even sure it’s four, it might be six, the surgeon said a number and my mind went to the absolute longest time I thought I could possibly survive with a pent-up Doug. That is four weeks. Give or take 3 weeks.

He will spend at least the first night in the hospital. Despite having almost every medical issue known to (wo)man and dog, Melvin never spent a night in a hospital and Jake only spent one, when his eye tried to explode. I know that once he is home, the first few days and nights will be the worst, but in terms of caring for him, I have been training for this since I had Max.

We will figure it all out.

I have a dog pen, I have various sized crates. I have tie down plans so he can be outside but not moving around. I have cones, bed covers and plans to feed him mini meals throughout the day via Kong to keep him busy.  I have bones, and bully sticks and new toys. I have a plan to try to keep his weight in check.

I also have tranquilizers. For him, but if they fail, I may take them.

This is what Doug looks like when he’s on tranquilizers. He is awake. Wide awake. But somewhat still, for like ten minutes. IMG_3980

I’m excited to get this issue fixed although I am a bit worried about one other thing. What if this leg issue has been holding the real Doug back. What if he is even more energetic, more zoomerific, more cray? Since he has been on pain medication, I have noticed that crazy Doug has reemerged.  He is still only using 3 legs but the pain medication is definitely making him feel more, him.  I’m scared people. I mean really, what if…

Yippppeeeeee, I can’t wait to fly through the air again like I was born to do! IMG_3999

I will keep you posted via Facebook and Instagram. If you have any advice for post surgical care or keeping exuberant dogs calm, PLEASE share that with me! Please!

Have a great week!

Well that’s new.

Let me give a quick recap of the health issues I have faced with the dogs. An asterisk indicates multiple dogs and/or flare ups:

  • Giardia ******
  • Mange
  • Severe allergies **************
  • Moderate allergies *****
  • Maybe allergies ***
  • Infected anal glands ***
  • Skin infections **********************
  • MRSP
  • Diaper rash **********
  • Severe diaper rash **********
  • Split nail
  • Cracked tooth
  • Missing teeth
  • Colitis ****
  • Happy tail
  • Infected happy tail ****
  • Tail amputation
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Eye growth that needed removal
  • Eye ulcers ***
  • Hole in eye from eye ulcer
  • Emergency surgery to fix hole in eye
  • Blood clot that formed after eye fix (in eyeball)
  • Severe spinal malformations ********
  • Spinal fluid blockage ***
  • Unidentified tick disease ***
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Wonky gait *****
  • Hind limb paralysis *********
  • Sores from dragging paralyzed legs *********
  • Bleeding of any kind ********************
  • Ear infections *******************
  • Liver disease
  • Nares surgery
  • ER visits to remove feathers from throat **
  • ER visits (non feather related) *********************
  • X-rays *********
  • CT scans **********
  • MRI and Spinal taps (3 and counting)
  • Bladder and bowels that needed manual emptying (my life is so damn glamorous)
  • Severe constipation
  • Extreme diarrhea
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • De-worming
  • Dog attack injuries (Jake from attacking every dog I brought home and other dogs attacking Doug)
  • Aspiration to lung and almost lung lobectomy
  • Liver cysts
  • Liver tumors
  • Lung tumors
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Grief honk crying requiring behaviorist and prozac
  • Nerve sheath tumor
  • Spinal Cancer
  • Radiation

I’m sure I’m leaving out issues that have long ago left my memory. But you get the point.

The surgeon took one look at Doug’s X-rays and said, I know the issue. He then did an extensive inspection of Doug’s leg (Doug did not love this part and I could tell by the movements the doctor was doing that he had for sure narrowed in on the area of pain for Doug). We did a CT to confirm.

I would like to add my recap to the (male) doctor was as follows: every day, it seems more and more that Doug’s leg was put on wrong.  I’m going to guess you didn’t play with Barbie as a child (I wish you could have seen his face at this point), but if you had, you would know that there is a right and wrong way to put Barbie’s leg back on when it falls off. Doug’s Barbie leg is on wrong. 

He nodded (and somehow managed not to laugh since I was coming across as very serious) and told me that in his entire career as a veterinary surgeon, no one had ever used a Barbie analogy.

But then he said, (in a way) I was right.

Doug has a grade 4 luxated patella. While 90% of turned kneecaps go to the inside, Doug’s is of the rarer variety and goes to the outside. Grade 4 is the worst, it means that the kneecap can no longer move back into place without surgical intervention.  It seems as Doug’s leg grew, his bones pushed his kneecap out of the way and continued to grow without it. So the doctors have to go in and shave his bones to make room for the stray kneecap.  (I almost passed out when he said that).  They are building a 3D of Doug’s leg to figure out the best way to repair it.

Doug’s onset of symptoms were right on track. For a few months he would hop at the end of long walks or bursts of intense zoomies. He was limping more over the past few months. Then last week, he went lame on that hind leg.

Doug was supposed to be the dog that showed me what this illusive ‘annual vet visit’ is all about. Doug had other plans and clearly wants to be more like his brothers. So we will rebuild that wonky leg (hence the extra asterisks above) and we will figure out how to keep him still now and after the surgery (I bought more vodka to help strategize on that one). The one thing that Doug has going for him (in addition to me), is extreme body strength.  Doug currently runs on three legs, just as fast as he does on all four.

I saved Jake’s giant stroller and everyone kept asking why are you saving that? Their thinking was that I would likely never have the need for it again.

HAVE THEY NEVER MET MY DOGS????

Here is Doug.  High and drunk from the anesthesia and sedatives and pain meds.  We will keep you posted as the surgery gets scheduled.

So high he does not notice treats. IMG_3847

He 100% thinks I bought these for him. IMG_3882

 

Two years.

Melvin died two years ago this week. I’m not sure how that is even possible since I was so sure I wouldn’t make it through losing him, let alone exist without him.

5 14 14

Melvin changed me, profoundly. He changed the structure of my existence, he guided me to my purpose.

I have said this before. Melvin was a part of me in life and now in death. He is the goodness in me, the joy, the laughter and the reason love lives on. Losing him broke me, but then, he healed me. I carry him in my heart. I feel closer to him now than I ever have. I am grateful for that every day .

As we approach the anniversary of losing him, it makes me miss Jake even more.

You read that right.

When I lost Melvin and went through the grief and then found out Jake was dying, I sorta just thought, here we go again.  In a, grief will repeat itself sort of way.

Grief is not a protocol. It’s a living, breathing, organic, emotional, extension of us. I persevered Melvin grief, I remember what it felt like to start to emerge from it. With Jake grief, I usually don’t feel like dealing with it much at all. I want to overcome it and I don’t ignore its impact but it’s more of a one day it will be over sort of way. Truth be told, I’m a bit apathetic about this grief journey.

I think some of that has to do with who I spent each journey with. Jake and I lost Melvin together. Jake sat a lot so we sat a lot together and we worked through our sad moments as a team. Doug didn’t lose Jake, so he goes on his merry way and I go along with him and sometimes I try to bypass grief on my very, very, oh so very long walks with Doug. Grief doesn’t work that way; there is no going around it. Grief will chase you and tackle you and say hey, I’m the boss of you, get back here.

Grief is an asshole.

Jake died nine months ago this week.

Jake is most certainly a part of me too. Jake taught me to see the beautiful in the broken, he taught me that struggle is not the end, in many ways, it’s just the beginning. But spiritually, Jake is not necessarily the parts of me that I derive strength from. He’s more like my weakness. In a beautiful way, not in a way that I would change.

Jake is my baby.

6 12 14d

I have come to accept that my hands will always reach for him. The need to nurture him, lives on as much as the love does. It is a constant, and perhaps, eternal ache.  It just is what it is. I think some thoughts of Jake will always trigger that lump in my throat. I’m not sure why. It’s ok though, each and every time, my soulful connection to Melvin helps ease the Jake sadness.

They are still a team, even in death.

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Don’t fret, memories of Jake bring me joy.  I laugh out loud watching videos of him, even videos of him towards the end. For every struggle, we found a solution. In Melvin and Jake’s life, we won, way before cancer showed up. I think at the end of my life, that is what I will be most proud of.

As we come up on the two year anniversary of losing Melvin, I’m grateful for the unbreakable connection I have with him. And, I’m so happy that if I can’t have Jake here, that Melvin holds him close for me.

This post, is a post I go back to regularly.  I wrote it a week after Melvin died and it is, everything to me. It’s a reminder of how strong my connection to Melvin has always been. And this post was written one year ago. A testament to love living on.

I miss my boys, but the honor of loving them is worth every ounce of grief.

We won.

 

 

Letters from Heaven. Dear Doug.

Hey Doug, over here, it’s me, Jake. What do you mean, who? No you didn’t just ask that. I’m your little-big brother. The one who left their scent up all over in that house.  Yeah, you got it, that’s me bro. I left those scents for the next dog, since I mean you’ve met her, we all knew there would be more dogs. She’s gotta put that love somewhere, ya know.

Anyway…I’m keeping an eye on you. In a are-you-worthy sorta way but also in a what-the-heck-is-he-thinking-gotta-guide-this-dude way too. I’m pretty much the only one that can keep an eye on you since you move so fast, it requires eyes that can go in two different directions.

IMG_0544

 

Some observations, if I may (oh I may cause I’m the new damn boss of you)…

  • Why are you such a spaz? I mean Melvin and Max and I laugh sometimes cause you cray bro, but then other times we are like MOM, WATCH OUT, DOUG IS GONNA LAND ON YOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUU. And then, you land on her. She bruises easily, treat her gently. Trust me, there will come a time when she has to carry you and she will do it with so much love that you will melt into her. I miss those moments with her. So this is my way of saying, if I can’t be there, you need to be really good to her.
  • I saw that dog attack you Sunday. First off, let me say, that girl had some killer moves! I was really impressed with how she flew through the air towards you. I mean in a lot of ways, that dog is me! But then you didn’t like it as much Melvin used to love when I chewed his face and then the brothers up here reminded me that we are on your side (ugh, sides are so boring) so then I felt bad that you were bleeding,  I’m supposed to tell you, don’t be like me. Don’t go changing and start to dislike other dogs (I’m reading from a script cause I don’t actually believe all this but…), you are more like Melvin and Max. You’re nice (hey who wrote this? I’m nice. Ok, ok, I’m not the nicest of the four of us. Fine).  Just stay you. She will want other dogs and well…just let her have her way. Ok?
  • About your sleeping style, what the BLEEP are you thinking? Why are you sleeping above her head like that? I mean in the middle of the night you stretch and your feet land on her face.  You are not a hat. You are a dog. Sleep normal. Melvin says you gotta move down and snuggle in.  Trust us dude, we know what we are talking about. MOVE DOWN (and hold off on meatball production when you are in the bed, when possible).
  • Dog bed destruction. Stop. Just stop. She bought me 19 beds and there are like 2 left and we get it, you don’t do sentimental but she wants those beds to be passed down.  Let her pass down the damn beds.  She does not ask for much.  I mean it, I will come back and haunt you… OK. OK. I’m being told to calm down. Sorry (not sorry) about my tone.
  • Last piece of advice (for now), chase all the squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, frogs and birds that you can bro! Life is short, hunt!

I’m sorry we can’t be there with you.  Trust us, there is no where on earth we would rather be than there, with her (and you). But we see potential in you bro. I for one love the noises you make and your snoring game is strong! I also really appreciate the ‘accidents’ you have had in the house, she has so many pee products, am I right bro?! We took bets on whose Kongs would fit best in your mouth, I thought it would be mine but Melvin won that bet.  You are a lot like Melvin, I bet you smell delicious. Melvin guides you the most, but I like to chime in too. You are a lot like me in some ways, in the ways that probably drive her a little bonkers.  I get you bro. I’ve been where you are, new, spunky, making sweet love to the rug running zoomies like a wild banshee. We don’t want you to change, we just want to make sure you get some guidance. She’s like the best thing that ever happened to us and well, we watch over her day and night and so we are here for you too. We’ll do our best to help you make good decisions. Don’t you love it when she says that to ‘make good decisions’. She is so funny.

I miss her so much.

Lastly… when her eyes leak and she says my name, MOVE OVER CHUMP cause I’m right next to her trying to make her feel me there and you usually sit right on top of me.  Yeah that’s right, I’m that cramp in your leg! Watch it!

Love, Googly eyes always watchin you. I’m like Santa.

PS. This is a new thing we will do from time to time.  Letters from Heaven. xoxo

Hello ER, I did not miss you.

Seven-months and one day, that is how long it took for Doug to have his first ER vet visit. Much, much longer than it took his brothers, something I had not missed at all. In fact, the last time I’d been at the same ER, in the same exact room, was when Jakey ruptured his eye ulcer.

I have been taking Doug to a local sanctuary shelter on the weekend. It gives us a chance to meet dogs over and over and see how they progress (and it makes Doug tired!). I’ve learned a lot about how dogs react to Doug and at the same time I’ve become more confused about how some dogs react to Doug. When it goes well, it’s easy to say yay. The confusion is among dogs who get to know him for a few minutes and then decided, no thank you. In sort of a big NO THANK YOU way. When it goes bad, I have found for the most part, it is the other dog that doesn’t react well to something about Doug and then Doug may or may not react to that reaction. The confusion is, what is it that Doug does that causes the other dog to have a problem.  Of the five dogs where there has been a problem, there was only one dog where Doug did not like the other dog (a male) and Doug was the instigator.  The other four (all female), liked him and then suddenly did not like him. These were all meet and greets so it’s not like they had spent too much time together. And for the record, play Doug does not come out right away.  He saves that for later. None of the ladies had met play Doug yet, but maybe they could sense it was coming.

On Sunday we had a second play session with a dog. He and Doug did great.  We then decided to meet one of the new dogs that had just come off of quarantine.   She was a tiny thing at about 35 lbs (probably a few months older than Doug). She had not been spayed yet so we were not sure how Doug would respond to her. He pretty much ignored her. She was more interested in sniffing him and then they both just did their own thing.  Good, right?  It was so good, that we started talking about how good it was.

That is when she dove into Doug’s face.

I honestly don’t remember much about those 5-10 seconds. She lunged, Doug’s head tried to move back, there was a ball of confusion and then the volunteer lifted the dog off of the ground, and thus, off of Doug. That is when I saw all the blood.

I ripped my cast off and used the wrap part to apply pressure to his nose. I got a water bottle to clean it and to try to tell if there were multiple blood sources.  I kept my voice normal ‘you’ll be fine bud – it’s ok bud – let’s get you to the vet bud’.

I got him into the car and started driving. I saw him move to the back of the SUV and cower. I thought to myself, no. NO. I had to mend this moment. I pulled over, got treats out, got into the back with him and turned the situation around. There is no need to cower, just wiggle babe, moms got you. You are fine and that situation is over and hey, here are more treats.

He wiggled towards the front as I got us back on the road.

I was told quickly that the mouth and nose bleed a lot, and that made me feel instantly better. They cleaned him up and it looked way less dramatic. He was unable to walk on one leg but there was nothing structurally wrong with it, likely just a muscle pull. His nose would heal. His mouth would heal. We got an antibiotic and pain meds and headed out.

He was a little off the rest of the night but I’m not sure I’d expect otherwise. I got him tucked into a well padded bed that I knew he would bleed all over (he did) and he fell right to sleep.

I went in to wash his blood off of me. Then I cried.

I hope this doesn’t change him.

I hope he still wiggles with delight when we see other dogs.

I hope he continues to loosely walk on leash.

I hope his joy continues to multiply every day he exists.

Those were the concerns my tears spoke to me.

I don’t know if this was ‘bad enough’ to disrupt any of who Doug is. I know he felt pain, I know he was scared, but from a human perspective, I think he felt calmness and cared for so most of me thinks he will bounce back. We’ll test him out with some of his friends to be sure.

I the meantime, I will over think why girl dogs do not seem to love Doug. I’m sure he does something that they dislike, it’s just not an obvious something that I can help him work on. The other dog did not have a scratch on her, I’m so happy about that. Part of me feels like the dog search is on hold, part of me says this was more than nothing but it doesn’t have to be something.

All of the parts of me are swirling right now. We’ll get it worked out.

Until then, Doug is fine. He will heal.

Here he is all cleaned up.  He won’t let me lift up his jowls so no photos of those wounds. IMG_3696IMG_3706