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!

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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!).

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter City.

Doug started therapy in May. That was for his old-new leg. We were rocking all his exercises and moving our way towards graduation.  Then we hit a roadblock known as new-new leg. While we did surgery and recovery on leg #2, therapy had to be put on hold. That meant that leg #1 lost some ground. Double ugh!

A month after his second surgery, Doug was cleared for therapy for both legs. Woooohooooooooo, take us back to Peanut Butter City where the grass is green and girls are pretty!

Doug LOVES Peanut Butter City. That is what we call therapy because they feed him peanut butter to get him to do what they want him to do.

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It’s not just the peanut butter, he LOVES the ladies there too. I mean hard-core, loves them. One of them, Becky, he loves more than he loves peanut butter. Perhaps even more than he loves me. If Becky greets him at the elevator, he explodes with joy. If he’s doing an exercise and Becky walks by, he loses all ability to focus.  If she disappears, he is inconsolable and flips and flops in a furry of a tantrum. Doug has no game.

He. Loves. Her.

This is who he stalks Becky. He’s totally holding in his gut to impress her. IMG_4270

I mean, I’m glad he loves someone. Despite living with him, feeding him, snuggling with him, buying him several jail cells, paying all his bills and DRIVING HIM TO PEANUT BUTTER CITY, all I get are death stares.

You’re not Becky. IMG_6244

I will chew this tie down and set myself free and find Peanut Butter City on my own. IMG_6341IMG_6347

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!

 

 

 

Two weeks of deja vu.

It has been two weeks since Doug’s most recent surgery.  It has been 14 weeks since his first surgery. Here are some updates:

  • We resume rehab next week. We are coming up on the original date that rehab should have been done, but now it’s almost like we are starting over.  Well, it’s not almost like we are, it’s more like we actually are. Thankfully, Doug LOVES rehab.  We call it Peanut Butter City.
  • Doug’s sutures came out today. That means NO MORE CONE! The funny part is that this go around, Doug actually loves the cone.  He has mastered sleeping on his back and having his head propped up on the donut cone.
  • Something is going on with his old new leg (the one he had surgery on first, from here on out we will call that leg Franken-leg-one) When he walks, his hock/ankle hyperextends (to an alarming degree).  The surgeon looked at it today and said it was either nothing (just the way he is compensating for Franken-leg-two) or something (I cannot tell you what he said about this part because I passed out from fear it requires surgery).
  • Doug’s current meds are keeping him pretty chill.  I’m not a person who believes in jinxing but I am still cautious to say that too much.  This go around, I have kept him strictly in the crate (not the pen) so I also think that has had something to do with him remaining calmer.  He is going to graduate back to the pen this week so we shall see.
  • Due to the previous bullet point, my vodka consumption has been that of a normal person.
  • Doug has also been super snuggly this go around. Just before he tore his other ACL, and he had been jailed for 12 weeks, he was starting to be stressed.  I get it, he had no idea why he was being held hostage. During that time, he had started barking at me non-stop (which was so fun and rewarding), and growling at the situation  (which I mean, what is better after a long day at work than someone snarling at you?). I am trying to do everything I can to make jail time more positive.
  • In relation to the previous bullet point, I fit in Doug’s crate with him.
  • Doug almost got a sister a few weeks back.  I felt like it would have been a great time since he would have only had a few more weeks of inactivity and by the time he was cleared to play, we’d be through the shutdown period of them being separated.  Then his other ACL snapped…

Here are some recent pictures of my little inmate:

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And here is a photo of how Franken-leg-one hyperextends: IMG_5645

 

Prison life is boring.

I have never been in prison but I imagine its pretty lame. There is probably a lot of boredom mixed in with a bunch of chores, and a lot of anxiety about being shiv’d or raped.  Those last two are tidbits I learned from watching too much Law & Order SVU.

Doug’s prison time is just the boredom part.  He’s bored. I’m bored for him. And we have three to four more months to go.  Even though WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN F’ING DONE BY NOW BUT NO, HE HAD TO BLOW OUT HIS OTHER LEG TOO.

But I digress.

The update is, boredom.  His leg is healing nicely (from what I can tell). The gag factor from looking at it has gone from a 10 to about a 4. We had to put rehab on hold so that sucks. He’s still on pain meds so he is pretty chill. He was chill during this part last time too.  It’s when he comes off of the meds that he is intolerable hyper and hard to implement restricted activity.  That should be at some point next week when his staples come out.

Until then, it’s just a lot of staring at each other and him thinking I’m addicted to dog surgeries.

The day of surgery when he’s like ‘what the? She made me have another surgery? Thanks a lot Mommy Dearest. IMG_5588

Our cone game is strong. Since Doug eats them. IMG_5590

Gag. Gag. Gag. IMG_5601

A PSA from Doug: if you are going to do drugs, wear a donut.

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That day I was at work and watching him on camera and thought the cone strangled Doug because he had not moved in four hours so I yelled BOO into the camera’s mic. IMG_5652

And in this NSFW photo you can see how nicely the other leg (the one closer to the floor) healed up and we are confident this one will too.  He should only be franken legs for a few more weeks!IMG_5669

Here we go again.

Doug is 12 weeks post a complicated luxated patella and TPLO surgery.  Two weeks ago we waved goodbye to our surgeon. As of last week, we probably had about six weeks more to go until he was free to zoom. We had just come off of pen confinement and needing to be leashed in the house.  Our rehab had finally picked up in intensity to really start building his muscle back up. He was sleeping upstairs again.

In other words, we saw the light.

This weekend, Doug tore his other ACL. I’d personally like to live in denial of this.  But Doug can barely walk now and his second surgery is today, so it’s apparently time to take a bite of this reality sandwich.

I sorta wish we had not seen the light or given him more freedom. To have it given, then abruptly taken away, has left him angry. He now sits in the pen and barks at me non stop. Not ideal, for either of us. 

I don’t really have the words to describe how hard it has been to keep Doug’s activity restricted.  I know a lot of people probably say that about their dogs, but the people around us can confirm that Doug is not, most dogs.  He is constantly in motion. When he’s being held back, he goes into destructive mode.  And as much as that drives me nuts, it is way more taxing on him to have to live the life as an inmate. These leg issues keep Doug from being Doug. He should be going in and out of the house into the yard whenever he wants. He should be running zoomies. Instead, he’s been in jail and on tie down and the moment he starts to taste freedom again, the jail bars drop back down.

He holds me responsible for it all, and it definitely impacts our relationship building. 

I am not sure how we will get through round two, but I know we will find a way.  I mean, we have no choice. Hopefully since this one should only be the TPLO surgery and not the luxated patella fix also (please God), it may be a bit easier on him.  Not sure about that but I am holding onto that hope.

If either Melvin or Jake needed this surgery, or even if they both needed it at the same  time, we’d all probably be high-fiving.  Staying still and resting was their goal in life. They probably would have cut their own ACLs if they knew it came with months of inactivity.  This down time for Doug, goes against his DNA.

I have had Doug for almost 11 months. It is estimated he ran stray for about 5 months. I’m hopeful he thinks jail-city is still better than being stray, but I can’t be sure. I’m trying to focus on the positive: we can afford these surgeries, he has good insurance, he’s young so healing is faster. But the truth is, my little family needs a win. 

Last night when I was laying in bed saying no, no, nope, no to this happening, over and over like a crazy person, I had a vision of Doug running stray.  What if he had not been found? What if both of his ACLs blew out and he was dragging his bloody stumps around? What if, God forbid, someone found him and decided he was not worth saving?

He came to me for a reason. One of those reasons is to be mended. We all know he will get that. Another reason could be to test the boundaries of my sanity. This surgery may breach that barrier, but who knows, it might help us get through round two!

Is he going to test my patience?  Yes, absolutely.  Will he pick back up on planning my death? Probably.

Will we make it through? Of course we will.  We are joy warriors.

 

 

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