This too shall pass.

I am part of a support group on FB for folks who have dogs going through the same surgeries as Doug. A lot of times people will post that they feel bad for their dogs, day after day, every day, to have to go through any of this, and that is the moment where I have to ask myself: why I don’t feel this way? Do I not care about Doug? Am I dead inside?

The reality is, despite what Doug is going through, it is nothing even close to what Jake (or even Melvin had to go through).  And that is not to say that Doug’s life is a comparison to theirs, not at all.  It’s just…I never looked at Jake and thought, you poor thing. I felt for his struggle but our entire lives were built around overcoming and opportunity. Sure, that last year I screamed to the universe ENOUGH already! But Jake and I moved forward, even on his last day.

Doug is going to have a great life. I have a lot of faith that his legs will be better than ever (and sure, a little worry here and there that they will not be able to keep up with him at all). Whatever will be, will be. We will figure it out.

Our plans for this summer got squashed. No doubt about it. Unlike Melvin and Jake, Doug loves to be outside, even by himself. I have screens that allow him to go in and out on his own while I’m home.  The back yard is built for him to enjoy and run zoomies  There will not be a single day during spring, summer or most of fall that Doug isn’t outside on leash, with me. No opening the door to let him run, I must go out with him. No lingering on the patio furniture, he is not allowed to jump up or down. No pool time, he’d 100% break another part of his body.

As sad as that is, Doug is fine. There is no way he will remember this phase. The first chance he has at a full outside zoomie session, he will transition from inmate to superhero. He will live in every moment and continue to have everything he needs. If and when the next challenge comes along, he’ll get through that too. Doug is powered by joy. Trust me on this, I live it every day.

Here are some positives that have come out of Doug being in jail:

  • He’s had to work on impulse control, and he’s doing great.
  • If I am not in the room with him, he will chill all day in the jail cell if necessary.  This is a great tool for us to have when people come over who are not dog/Doug enthusiasts.
  • Despite the death stares, he knows I’m in this with him. He and I have bonded, even during the barking and snarling.  (I bark and snarl also).
  • Walks are less stressful now because he is so excited to be out and about that he doesn’t chew the leash or dart left and right and backwards the entire time.
  • We have MASTERED all his commands.

One of my favorite sayings/quotes is: Where you’re at is not who you are. I have applied that to just about every struggle I have ever had. Those low moments, they don’t define you. This legs phase, will pass. And I have no doubt that one day Doug will break something else in his attempt to be the most insanely crazy dog on earth!

—————————————————————————–

And with that, I give you my little graduate.  I wrote this blog post last week and this week Doug was cleared to be off leash in the house. I am 100% panicked he will break his entire body but here we go anyway!

Where are the chains that usally hold me down?IMG_6483.JPG

The jail cell comes down:

 

 

 

Doug’s first moments of freedom are spent next to me. Can anyone say Stockholm Syndrome?

 

 

 

He’s clearly not familiar with freedom yet.  All those lovely industrial rugs and mats are to prevent slipping (and surgery!).

 

 

 

 

I gotcha, Doug.

Dear Doug,

A year ago I was broken. I was overwhelmed with grief and I was paralyzed under the weight of there being no dogs here. Jakey had not been gone that long and the void in my heart and in the house was crushing me. I’d met dogs and all of them made me have breakdowns. None of them were the dog I wanted.

The dog(s) I wanted had died.

So I gave up. My exact words were: it will just have to be shitty until it isn’t.

Then I saw you. I was scrolling on Facebook and I saw you and went past you and then scrolled back up and then back down and then back up. What was it about you? I didn’t think: you’re not Jake. I didn’t say: it feels too soon. In you, I saw the love-child of my delicious duo. More so, I saw a tomorrow that you could be in. I brought you home (one year ago today) and there were no breakdowns, at least none that were grief driven.

IMG_0076

In the first weeks that followed, my feet bled.  This is not some sort of poetic rhetoric, they literally bled because you were insane and tried to eat my feet with every step I took.  Every step.  I remember running and hiding in the bathroom.  I googled steel toed shoes.  Steel toed footwear in the heat of summer = not cute. During those torturous weeks, you made me miss Jake more.  I won’t lie, I did not love you. I regularly asked myself and you out loud, what was I thinking?

In addition to my bloody stumps, you had more energy than all the dogs combined times infinity. We walked non stop and still you were wound up and running zoomies. Still trying to leave me footless. How was I going to walk you with no feet?

I cried. A lot. About you. You were not at all what I wanted.

But then it was October. Then November. And we’d worked on you chewing toys and not feet and although I was still sad about Jake, I was not as unsure about you. December came and I still cried myself to sleep missing Jake, but I woke up smiling that you were here.

You saw me through almost all the firsts I had to go through without Jake. You were fairly insensitive about my sadness, in fact most times when I would cry you would jump on my back and chew my hair.

In hindsight,  you were everything that I needed.

I didn’t need a hug. That was Melvin’s job. Melvin’s collars were too big for you. I didn’t need you to make me laugh, Jake had that covered.  Jake’s jackets were too small for you. What I needed was a disruption to the structure of grief. I needed to go a little crazy.  Who better to show me that than you? You are my boy in the middle. Sandwiched between your brothers. Sort of like that circle on the top of your head.IMG_1852

You crept slowly into my heart.

I didn’t love all the walks, but the fresh air healed me. I was not excited about how much training you needed, but it helped pass time that would have otherwise been spent wishing Jake was still laying on the couch next to me. I didn’t love that you were such a terror, but every night I went to bed, I was almost too exhausted to be sad.

You were not the dog I wanted at first. But no dog was.  Today, I know with certainty that we were meant to be. Not just because you are addicted to surgery and I love going broke, but because when you look at me, my heart squeals. You are so much like Melvin, and so much like Jake, and nothing like them at all.  Even though you never met them, I still feel like you are brothers, that you are connected to them, and I do not think I would have felt that way with any other dog but you.

Your story is the opposite of mine.  You never had a family to lose. You never had someone committed to your health or well-being. You never had a home, or beds or peanut butter. If there is one thing I know, it’s that the universe will send me the dogs that others would not be able to go the distance with. I will travel this crazy life with you and your wonky Barbie legs, always.

I know you know you’re home.

Thank you for joining me on this journey of joy.  You are a strong force in this army. You bring the joy AND the funk.

You own my heart. Sure, some days I am still worried you will chew it up like one of your beds or swing it around like one of your Jolly Balls, but as all unconditional loves go, I’m willing to take that risk.

Happy Gotcha Day, bud.  I love you.  Forever.

 

 

Frankenlegs.

It feels like Doug has been on lockdown for eternity.  I’m sure it feels even longer for him.  I was looking for a photo yesterday and realized that he had his first surgery back in April. It’s almost September. The earth has not shaken from Doug zoomies in almost five months.

Set me free woman. IMG_5892

This go around is going pretty good.  I think there is just a general depression and acceptance by both of us that it will suck until it doesn’t. The meds combo seems to be helping Doug stay calm.  When I say he stays calm, what I mean is, when in his jail cell he has not yet tried to run zoomies or stand on his two frankenlegs only.  He will stare directly into my soul and bark for a long time, but he does it while sitting so that’s good. But when I go to let him out, trust me, home boy tries to run. In the yard he will let me get a few steps ahead of him (he’s on leash) and then he will run for five steps just because he can.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The death stares are fewer and have turned into more of a plea to his captor to stop taking him in for surgeries.

A softer side of the death stare. Using only side-eye. IMG_5840

Brothers, why is she addicted to surgery? IMG_5855

No seriously, stop taking me places where I go to sleep and wake up with another frankenleg.IMG_5872

We joined an AMAZING support group on Facebook for dogs with frankenlegs like Doug and it’s been really helpful for perspective and encouragement.  There are a bunch of people and dogs just preparing for or coming home from surgery and there are a bunch who are at the end and have videos of their dogs running free for the first time. A reminder that the end of this will come.

Have a great weekend!  Seek and spread some joy!

 

 

 

Graduation (of sorts).

Doug had surgery nine weeks ago.  Nine LONG weeks ago.  We had a setback at week 4 and he has been on limited-limited activity since then.  To be honest, I’m not even sure what that means. But today, 9 weeks in, we had our 8 week check-up (calendar math is not the boss of us) with the surgeon including a 2nd round of x-rays.  The good news is: Doug’s bones are fully healed!  Wooohoooooo!  Does this mean he can resume zoomies? Uh, no. He still needs rehab to build up the muscle mass that he lost (and in some ways never had). But it does mean that we can go into full-rehab-beast-mode!

Doug starting water therapy (finally)!

You guys know the struggles I have had to keep Doug calm. He’s been on the tranquilizer Ace for some time now and either I’m going more insane or it is having an opposite effect on him.  I have been reading up on it and in fact, I think that is what is happening to Doug.  It is actually making him more hyper.  All of the stories I hear of animals on Ace where it is working are along the lines of: the dog was immobile, drooling, very lethargic. The words I would use to describe Doug on Ace are: uncontrollable, crazy, hyper. Now that we are coming off of restricted-restricted activity and will likely just be on singular restricted activity, I can probable stop giving him the Ace.  Or I can stop since IT FAILED US.

Examples of Doug on Ace – as you can see, he is as subdued as a pumpkin.

 

I am sad to report that Doug, like many who find themselves in the prison system at one time or another, has found himself incarcerated once again. He is just not a dog that does well on a tie down, mostly because necks break and he does not seem to care about that risk.  I however love his fat neck so, the jail cell is back out in the center of the room where it can haunt my decorating soul full-time again.

No seriously, his neck is deliciously giant. IMG_5307

Hello old friend. Neither of us missed you. IMG_5267

Where the heck have we been?

Here are some updates to get you all caught up.

Yard Dog:

Doug loves being outside.  I had this glorious vision of summer, I’d leave the doors open and Doug would travel from inside to outside, napping, playing, being a dog.

Since surgery, Doug has needed to be in his jail cell or on a leash, 24/7.  I mean we have setbacks from not even doing anything (but not from doing nothing). But for all of you that fear that the yard dog doesn’t get his fill, oh contraire. He does, it just happens to be on a lame tie down.

IMG_4796IMG_4794

Rehabilitation:

We just hit 2-months post surgery.  We were supposed to have a three-month recovery time. That has now stretched into infinity six months. Doug has been on limited activity (from his already limited activity) and we are now coming off of that (hopefully).  We have our two month X-ray on Tuesday. Fingers crossed that he is back on track and we can resume hard(er) core rehab.

IMG_4887

We are rocking the boot on his good leg!

IMG_4868

We were recently granted permission for him to do steps once a day so now he sleeps super soundly back upstairs (still in jail though)!  Ahhhhh, the little victories are so sweet!

IMG_4889

Vacation:

Most of you probably saw the video I posted on our Facebook page about my little inmate being excited to see his favorite warden return from vacation. I decided that upon return from vacation, I would grant him release from jail (with gradutaiton to tie down). At his parole hearing I asked that he keep all four legs and tail attached to his body and keep paws on the ground. This was him during minute one. He’s not allowed to jump, so yeah, it’s going great. Also, apparently death stares continue beyond the jail cell, so that’s fun.

IMG_5083

Bob:

She’s still kicking it in the hood. Doug clearly does not have the 360 degree eyesight that Jake did.

IMG_4995

Have a great day!!!

Super Kindergarten.

It’s the end of the school year, kids are gearing up for no more school, summer break and graduations.

Not my kid though, Doug is being held back. He’s going into Super Kindergarten/summer school.

Doug’s healing is slow going. In fact, we have had a bit of a setback. His knee has a lot of swelling and it’s pushing his kneecap back out. To be clear, back out is the wrong direction. Also, on a separate issue, one of his TPLO pins is cutting into his bone a little.

IMG_4483

Awesome, right!?

At our appointment last Friday they called me into a room.  Nothing good comes out of being called into a room. The surgeon said that we should cut back on activity for four weeks. Cut back on activity? What activity? Please explain yourself. What he was saying, as my soul was screaming NOOOOOOOO, is that Doug should not progress right now. We should not increase or change anything for four weeks. That adds four weeks to our total recovery time.

That would take us to 20-24 weeks.  Otherwise calculated as five to six months.

We are at six weeks now. My guess is, that come two months, Doug will be strategizing how to make wind chimes out of my bones.

He is a prisoner in a world that won’t let him run. Or jump. Or do stairs. Or run. Or run some more.

He’s most definitely planning my death.

We followed up our surgeon appointment with a therapy session.  We were hoping to start water therapy but with the activity setback, therapy will need to be low-key for the next four weeks.  They put some numbing gel on his knee and did some laser work.  I wish there was numbing gel for my hopes and dreams for Doug’s summer.

IMG_4488

He’s still super adorable though!  And trust me, there is a death stare under the doggles. IMG_4496

Be sure to join us over on Instagram to see the photo journal of Doug’s time in jail. We can be found @Dougholupka.for.president

Inmate update.

Doug could not hate life more right now if he tried. Death stares now include not even bothering to look at me. IMG_4217

We saw the surgeon for our first post surgical follow-up and he said Doug looked great.  They took the stitches out and told us we could wave good-bye to the cone. Yay! Then he asked me why I wasn’t using tranquilizers on Doug.

Doug was on tranquilizers at the time.

Welcome to my world.

He sat down and I knew it wasn’t going to be a moment I would cherish later.  He said that the TPLO part of the surgery was easy and smooth, however the kneecap repair was far more extensive than they planned.  Due to that, Doug was likely be looking at 16-20 weeks of recovery time.

My soul died, just a little. Mostly for Doug but some for me too.  In this situation, 16 weeks is 100% in the dog years type of counting.  It might as well be forever. Especially with a dog whose body laughs at tranquilizers.

Yesterday, we had our rehab consult.  The doctor there also asked me why he was not on tranquilizers.  Just stop, people.

Doug was assessed.  He was stretched. They pulsated his muscles with some magic wand. He did some cone work and they taught me how to do our ten or so, at home, therapies.  We were also granted three, 5-10 minute walks a day!  Wooohoooooooooo!  The inmate can finally leave the house.

I then posed the 16-20 week question to the rehab doctor.  She said ‘at least’. Then she threw in, I’m a little concerned about his good leg too.

I immediately went to vodka.com to up my order.  The good news is, therapy zonked Doug out.  We will do therapy 1-2 times a week there and will also start water therapy and that should drain some of his energy too.

It’s about time you let me leave prison. You are the worst warden-mother. IMG_4264

Checking his range of motion. IMG_4266

Pulsating his muscles.  I honestly might have gotten that wrong. IMG_4267

Forcing him to use his new leg (this is also the point where questions were raised about his good leg).  IMG_4270

Laser therapy. Doug is probably the only dog who prefers to stand for laser therapy. IMG_4280

We are three weeks down!  13-17 to go!