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

 

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

Homecoming.

I’m back! Aside from having to leave Doug unexpectedly in November when I had an emergency hospital stay, or here and there for a quick overnight (both of which he barely noticed I was gone), this was the first time I have left Doug for an extended time.

He did great! I’m honestly not sure he missed me all that much and that is exactly how it should be. I had a glorious week in the Bahamas and he had an awesome week with his Denise.

Some photos from paradise…IMG_3427IMG_3419IMG_3300

I will say, when I came in the door from being gone, Doug’s whole body was wiggling with joy. Everyone should get to experience someone wiggling with delight for them like that!

I also go to experience Doug’s first snow with him!  He loves the snow until he doesn’t love the snow, that usually takes about 4 minutes.  Dude takes after his brothers, none of them likes to be wet!

His first snow paw print…IMG_3458

And his exhaustion post snow romping…IMG_3463IMG_3477

I’m off the rest of this week in preparation for my new work schedule.  I’ll be going into the office more, which is going to be a big change for me and for Doug. I have him set up to have two walks on the days I go in, so all in all I think he’ll be ok.

Today we are getting some house guests and those visitors include a dog!  I’m excited to see how Doug does with another dog in the house.  I got extra bowls out and he didn’t even notice. When I got one of his old crates out, he promptly hopped in it and took a nap.

I love that he is so easy-going. I hope life never disrupts that.

So, I’m back! Doug did great! We are excited to spend some time with house guests (two and four-legged) and next week, we will embark on the next chapter work-wise.

Hope you all are enjoying your week!

xoxo, Tracey & Doug

 

Paradise.

My family takes an annual trip to the Bahamas during March. It’s one of those vacations where relaxation is required by law. Drinks are delivered, to pool, beach, cabana, wherever you are and it is the only place on earth where I am known to nap.

The last two years of this trip, I was dealing with Melvin, and then Jake, dying. I almost didn’t go on the trip with Melvin because his prognosis was so grave. I ended up going because 1. I was leaving him in the best care (seriously, I had about 40 people/vets checking on him hourly, he was too busy to die) 2. The oncologist said the odds of him dying in those few days were extremely unlikely and 3. I cut my part of the trip to 3 days. I went because, if Melvin could be dying suddenly, it was a reminder how short our time on earth can be. I went because the people I take this trip with are equally important to me and you never know when it could be the last trip we all take together.

Wow, that paragraph was depressing.

Leaving Jake last year was difficult, but his prognosis was WAY different. I knew we had time.

Suffice it to say, the last two years in the Bahamas, there was a lot of crying on my part. This year, I will be leaving a healthy Doug.  That has not stopped me from saying to him several times leading up to this trip, If you die, I’ll kill you.

The notes I left when it was just Melvin were long, partly because I’m crazy, but also because I had to outline a ton of ‘what ifs’. What to do if he ate something he shouldn’t have and had a reaction. What to do if his colitis flared up.  What to do if his tick disease flared up.  Etc. Etc. Etc. The notes for Jake were long, partly because crazy doesn’t just go away, and mostly because he had A LOT OF INSTRUCTIONS! Peeing, meatballs, diapers, mobility, ramps, wheelchair, stroller, rashes, MRSP, googly eye drops. The list goes on.

In sitting down to write Doug’s first note, it was fairly short. I looked at it and thought, I must be missing something. The majority of the note is how to get Doug to settle and snuggle, not really instructions for his care. For the first time, I have a dog that wakes up, is a fairly basic dog during the day, goes to bed, repeat. Since the note wasn’t long enough, I padded it with a little extra crazy, just for good measure.

Our dog walker, Denise, is staying here with Doug. She gets Doug. She is so patient with him that sometimes I have to tell her to be a bit more stern with him, like when he is hanging from her scarf with his mouth. I have complete faith that all will be great here, and in the Bahamas, and I’m looking forward to a tear-free getaway.

This year, Melvin and Jake will be with me. They are the beauty I see all around me. They are in every sunset and every sunrise.

Have a great week!

One of my favorite pre-Bahamas-trip memories – when Jakey was mobile and climbed into my suitcase. 6 30a6 30d6 30c

March 1st.

March 1, 2015. That is the day I would give if someone granted me the ability to go back. It’s one day before Melvin’s 10th birthday and two days before we found out he was dying. Its today…two years ago.

That March 1st is the last normal day I had with my perfect little family. It’s the last day that felt right, complete. That I even have a day to go back to where I feel life was such perfection, makes me blessed beyond measure.

IMG_3608

In addition to Melvin being there, Jake would be there too. My odd couple, in all their glory. I could live March 1, 2015 on loop, indefinitely.

That said, I have started realizing that March 1, 2015 will not always be the day. In fact, with each new day I remember, joy is where you look for it. I am still in a bitt of a messy grief stage since Jake has not been gone that long. A phase where escaping loss and missing Melvin and Jake, sometimes trumps the joy that is currently unfolding. But each new day, I become less torn, more here-and-now.

I have loved Doug since the moment I saw him on Facebook. I didn’t have my full self to give to him because Jake had only been gone a few weeks. As the grief of Jake lessens, I realize how much my heart is opening up to Doug. There is a love that connects him to his brothers, and that love is powerful and lovely. There are moments I look at Doug and know that we are building towards a love that will own me, (and one day, crush me). You can’t have one without the other. I can confirm that journey is worth it.

I love Doug. I love him every bit as much as I love Melvin and Jake and he has started healing me in ways that I didn’t expect. He has started to soften March 1st. He has made me believe in right now and has made me excited about tomorrow. He holds coveted space in my heart next to Max, Melvin and Jake and he is every bit as amazing (albeit much more crazy) than my angels are.

It’s hard to learn a new love in a shadow. I don’t think Doug realizes any of that though. From day one with me, he has been loved a thousand times more than he ever was in his previous life. As that bond between us becomes magical, I see the realization in his eyes. I see him look at me and he knows I’m his. He knows he’s home. He has opened himself up to love and joy and relaxation.

So have I.

On the eve of Melvin’s 12th birthday, when all of me feels the ache of not knowing a 12-year old Melvin (I mean the only thing more perfect than a 12-year old Melvin would be a 9-year old Jake by his side), I sit with Doug, and I tell him stories of his brothers and I realize that this March 1st, is a good one too.

Doug’s love anchor is winning. And that is how it’s supposed to go. Tomorrow we will celebrate Melvin’s heavenly birthday.  We will do things that Melvin enjoyed and we celebrate a love that lives on, a love that Doug owns now. I know Melvin sent Doug and I know he is fine with me letting the old March 1st go.

Doug in Melvin’s chair, in Jake’s sit style. #lovelivesonimg_3108

 

 

 

My socialite.

We have been meeting lots of dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. In the past with Melvin, I was always nervous meeting other dogs. He was basically not interested in dogs but sometimes he flat out did not like them and would suddenly just lunge at them. He defined leash aggression. I loved him and all of his moments. With Jake, well he hated all dogs except for Melvin. Like hated with the intensity of a thousand hot suns. I have never seen a paralyzed dog so able-bodied and ready to rumble as Jake was. Good God I miss that dog.

Call me Rambo. IMG_5653

With Doug, I sometimes forget that I can leave worry at the door.  I mean, you guys probably know me well enough to know I’m cautious. A planner. I’m not just gonna throw Doug into any situation that I have not given some thought to.  But in general, Doug has never met a stranger.

We have met several dogs on walks that their owners have claimed were well-behaved. They were in fact not well-behaved. Doug handles it every time. If a dog starts going crazy, Doug usually just lays downs and ignores them.

We have met dogs that want to hump Doug. Male dogs. Female dogs. It’s all good. Doug takes it (he literally takes it) and after they have a go at him, he rolls onto his belly to be sure they know he is fine with being violated.  My dog is so weird. I sorta like it.

I like being a pony. Ride me!img_2347

Doug is super social. I’m an introvert so this confuses me a bit. But I loved Melvin for all the things he was and wasn’t and I loved Jake for all that he could do and all that he couldn’t and well…I am really enjoying this social dog thing. In addition to meeting dogs, I take Doug to a lot of places with me. He’s great in the car, he’s somewhat well-behaved in dog friendly stores (he’s still mouthy so I have to be careful in those situations), and he seems to really enjoy our adventures.

While we continue to look for the right next dog (my work situation is changing a little and I have a vacation coming up soon so we are on hold for a little bit), I’m starting to think about taking Doug to a local doggy daycare.  Just typing that is outside of my comfort zone because I’m not a fan of situations in which I am not in total control. (admitting you have a problem is the first step in letting people know that you don’t care if they know you have this problem). Doug needs to be with other dogs. I can see it in his behavior when he hasn’t been around dogs in a few days versus when he has. So we are going to tippy toe and try out one that I have vetted so much that I could own the damn place. I have 25 point googled everything about this place and the employees, like full on stalking at this point.

I filled out all the paperwork and was sure to answer in ways that would let the facility know that I am likely the type to send in a CIA operative in to confirm the well-being of my dog. I want them to know, I’m watching them, always.

Doug’s mom is crazy.