Oct 232009

When your dog is injured, do you know what to expect in terms of your dog’s recovery and rehabilitation? When should you expect your dog to start walking – and how far and how fast? What’s the best way to get your dog’s muscles back in shape, and his stamina back?  Good communication with your dog’s veterinarian can give you some guidelines. The doctors should give you the instructions in writing.  But as always, observe your dog carefully and notice and pay attention to everything, and use that as a guide.


Here is my time line for my rehab and recovery.  In general, my parents and my doctors made these decisions, not I.   I wouldn’t have agreed to any of them.

eyes_3_crDay 1: I was hit by the car and brought to the emergency room of the animal medical center.  When I went home six days later, I had a full-splint on my leg.

During this time, I may only go outside to pee and poop and then must go back home. I must be on the lead at all times when outside. I must have the plastic bag on my injured leg every time I go outside.  In our home, I may only stay in one room and my parents have me confined to the living room. There is a dog gate so I cannot get out of that room, except for when they open the little door on the dog gate to allow me to go outside so that I can take my walks.

Week 5, Day 3: I have surgery on my broken ankle, though I’m asleep and don’t know what’s going on.   When I go home, I have a half-splint on my leg.



During this time, I may only go outside to pee and poop. I must be on the lead at all times when outside. I must have the plastic bag on my injured leg every time I go outside.  I may only stay in one room and my parents have me confined to the living room. There is a dog gate so I cannot get out, except for when they open the little door to allow me to go outside so that I can take my walk.

Week 12, Day 3: I go back to the animal medical center for a bandage change. It has been 7 weeks since my surgery. Although he was going to only take x-rays at this time, my doctor removes my splint!

During this time, I may now leave the living room, and I may go upstairs. When I go upstairs and downstairs, I must be on my lead.  When I go outside I must be on the lead, even when I’m just hanging out with Jane in the backyard. I still must have the plastic bag on my injured leg every time I go outside, except that now it’s a bootie. There is a dog gate blocking the stairs so that when I am downstairs, I cannot go upstairs except for when I’m with Jane or Phil and on my lead. And when I am upstairs, I cannot go downstairs except for when I’m with Jane or Phil and on my lead. When I am home alone, my parents keep me in the living room and close the little door gate. They don’t want me jumping up on anything.  My parents have made me a new bed in their room; at night, I sleep upstairs with them in my bed.

Going up and down the stairs, my muscles are starting to strengthen again, especially my leg that broke when I was hit by the car.

Week 13:  Day 3: I go back to the animal medical center for x-rays on my broken ankle. It has been 8 weeks since my surgery. My doctor removes my bandages!

During this time, I am learning to walk again. The dog gate to the living room is pushed away.  The dog gates to the stairs are gone.  I do not have to be on the lead in my back yard.  I do not have to have the plastic bag or the bootie on when I go outside!  I can feel freedom!  When I go outside for a walk, I must be on the lead (but that’s the way it’s always been.).

My muscles are starting to strengthen again, especially my leg that broke when I was hit by the car.  I’m still walking with a limp.  When I start to hop on three legs, my parents slow me down so that I use all four legs.

My walks start out short. Then they get longer. Then they get longer and longer. Then they get longer and longer and faster and faster.  My mom is walking longer and longer and faster and faster, too. This is good for me.

Soon I’ll tell you about my swimming and my running!


Aug 022009

Many dogs go to physical therapy after they are injured.  Water therapy, called hydro-therapy, is becoming popular.  This is good because it builds up the dog’s muscles without putting any pressure on injured areas. It also helps prevent arthritis, which can set in after a serious trauma. And most dogs love swimming. Most. Not all dogs like the water. Some like to look at it but not go in it. Some like to play along the edge. But there are ways to make your dog comfortable with water.

IMG_0011Today started out like any other Sunday: Dad woke up at sunrise, I woke up with Dad. And then I went back to sleep.

He woke me up later and I went out with him on a short walk.  Of course in the old days, it would have been a long run. But these are not the old days: These are the new days. These are “nowadays”.

It was a nice walk and then I came upstairs and went back to sleep in my bed next to my mom’s bed, until she woke up.

Then we were all one awake family.

My parents disappeared for a while in the middle of the day. I was pretty sullen to be alone and to not be included in whatever they were doing. But that all changed.

I saw my mom go and get a few of my poop bags and put them in her pack.  Then she came downstairs with a bunch of towels, one of which is the towel she always uses to dry me off.  I was getting ideas and the sudden and quick motion of my tail reflected that.

Then Dad came upstairs and he was jiggling his keys. I got more ideas.

Then Mom went and got the lead. My ears were on high alert.  Then Mom attached the lead to my collar, opened the front door, said “Joey, come” and I knew this was good!  Off we went to Dad’s car and me to my usual place in the back seat.

In a little while we were at my beloved lake. I love the lake and I love the dogs and excitement that surround the lake.  We took a nice walk and ended up at a cove at one end, where there is a gentle sandy beach.  My mom took the lead, and headed straight for the water and I headed straight for the water as well.  It was glorious.

My mom said something to somebody about “physical therapy” and my being hit by a car.  I wasn’t interested in her talk, however. I had a conflict of interest: I was interested in the water and in another dog that was swimming. It was difficult to make a choice but Mom solved that conflict: She pulled on the lead and said, “Joey, come.  Let’s swim!” and I followed, and we started walking in the water along the shoreline.

physical therapy for me

physical therapy for me

We walked as far as we could go in one direction and there I saw Dad on land!  Then we walked back to the original place, and there I saw Dad again!  We kept walking back and forth along the soft sands of the shoreline and Dad followed us so he could be near us.

I want to go in deeper

I want to go in deeper

Soon I wanted to go in deeper. My parents said “Do you think he’s ready to go in deeper?” but I seemed to be telling them that I was ready for this so Mom let the lead out to its longest and let me swim out.  Eventually I turned around to come back in.

We played this game for a while. Mom and I would head out into deep water and once there, I would decide to turn around and swim toward shore, where Dad was. I would go up on shore toward Dad, turn around, see my mom out there in the water, and decide to go back in the water toward her, as she said, “Joey come! and wiggled her fingers to urge me forward.

Once in a while I was distracted by the other dogs in the water but since I was on lead, there was no chance of going over there and though I tried, I understood my limitations.

conflict of interest

conflict of interest

After a while, both my parents said “I think that’s enough for the first day” and I was perfectly happy to stay on land and dry off.

Tonight I had a huge appetite and I am both eager to go out again and very tired.

Physical therapy is really a lot of fun, if you’re a dog!


Jul 262009

After ankle surgery, how can we know when it’s safe to take your dog running again?

My parents have been watching me like hawks to see when it’s okay for my dad and me to go running again.

My mom has started a series of long neighborhood walks with me, walking at a quick pace.  She wants to strengthen my injured leg. She also wants to build endurance in me.

She looks to see if I am limping or using three legs and holding my injured leg up when I go quickly.  She looks to see if I am walking on the grass or on the asphalt or sidewalk. She is looking to see if the pads of my paws are tender or are getting calloused and tough.

My parents are looking at the muscles on my left side, the injured side, and comparing them to the muscles on my right side.

When Dad and I are walking and he sees me hopping, he says “Use four legs” and I slow down.  Mom has a different technique:  “Walk slowly,” she says.

Today we were outside in the back yard and my dad has started throwing the ball for me to catch. He wanted me to see what speed I run at naturally and he noticed if I was hopping or using all four legs.

maybe i'm a little too wild for this stage of my recuperation

maybe i'm a little too wild for this stage of my recuperation but catching my ball is so much fun!

He noticed that I ran to catch the ball and that I used all four legs.

He noticed that after about ten minutes, I got tired and needed to stop and rest, so we stopped playing that game.

Yesterday my mom and I had a good long walk for 50 minutes. She was happy to see that I kept up the pace. She was happy to see that, though in the beginning I was hopping a little and she had to slow me down, after a while I used all four legs even when we were going at a fast walk.

My mom noticed that I walk comfortably on the street or sidewalk.

My parents are going to keep their eyes on me and watch me closely and patiently. They are also going to keep taking me on long walks with a quick pace. And they are going to throw me the ball in our back yard and watch me run after it and see how I do sprinting.

I’m happy to get all this training; it’s lots of fun but it’s no substitute for the real thing.  My urge to run again is still alive and well.

Jul 242009

Here are some more friends from the animal medical center: Dakota, the German Shepherd, and Steve, his handler. These are a really proud and nice team!

dakota_steve_3Dakota guides Steve, who cannot see his way.  Dakota was in the hospital because one morning when Steve was going to work and the two of them were going up an escalator, Dakota’s paw got stuck. He too was in a lot of pain, just like I had been.  His toes were also broken, like mine had been. He too has to wear a collar, just like I did.

When they are walking together, Dakota helps Steve to walk in a straight line and around obstacles. Outside, Dakota also tells Steve where the curb is so Steve knows where to stop.

However, only Steve determines when it is time to go.

When they are stopped at a curb where there is a traffic light or a stop sign, Steve uses his sense of hearing to determine when it’s safe to cross.

Dakota and Steve are best friends but each one has his role and they work together as a team to ensure Steve’s safety and happiness.

I speak for Dakota when I say that dogs, even guide dogs, cannot understand or obey traffic signals and stop signs, and cannot make decisions about when it is safe to cross the street.

Jul 152009

This post is Part 2 of 2. Click here to read Part 1 of 2.

The bath really turned into a whole wonderful afternoon.

There we were in the hot sunshine.  Soon my mom had her Furminator out.  I know this Furminator from when my little feline-brother was alive and living with us. Mickey used to have his fur brushed all the time. The Furminator was the only tool that Mickey didn’t mind my mom using on him. I used to watch him when Jane brushed him; he hated it and brushing Mickey with a standard cat brush was risky business.  She would talk sweetly to him, “Good Mickey” everything.  He would be okay for a while until suddenly he’d lunge one of his paws, nails first, right at her. She would wrap him in a towel so he couldn’t hurt her.  It was always risky for Jane.  Until Dad came home one day with a Furminator. Then Mickey didn’t mind it. I saw that he would sit or stand and allow her to brush his coat.  My parents would say “He looks like a kitten again!”

Now she used the Furminator on me.

Joey gets brushed with the Furminator

I get brushed with the Furminator

Outside on this beautiful day, mom spent a lot of time making sure I was as clean and shiny as a new copper penny.  I had to stand there while she brushed. She brushed under my neck, on the sides of my head, on my back, along both flanks of my long body, my thighs, my shoulders and under my chest, again and again. Each time I thought she was finished and I was free to find something in the garden to sniff, she started all over again.  One place she stayed away from was my wounded leg. She also stayed away from the places where I had been shaved and where my coat was still thin and where my skin was still sensitive.

In the end, I was so clean and my fur so shiny that the golden sunlight bounced right off my coat!

People who see me are still looking at my leg and they  say “A little surgery, eh?” However, now they are also looking at my coat and saying “So shiny!” and “So soft!”

And of course, there’s Mary, my favorite postal carrier, whom I saw today , who is thinking ahead and saying “Joey, be careful.”

Jul 122009

Life is moving quickly.

You probably don’t think it’s a big thing but I had my first bath in almost four months!

First I go into the shower and stay.

First I go into the shower and I stay.

My parents followed the doctor’s instructions exactly: Dr. T had told my parents not to get me wet for one week after my bandages were removed so that my wounds could dry out.

One week to the day my mom looked at the wound, saw it was dry, and said, “Joey, come” and I followed her upstairs.  I didn’t know what her plans were. We got into the bedroom and she headed to the bathroom and said “Joey, come” and I followed her. Then she pointed to the shower and said “Go” and I just walked right in.  It was this unusual room for me, sunny at the top because there are glass windows at the top, but narrow.  I had to get accustomed to this little room.  Then my mom said “Sit” and I sat down. Then she took my collar off.

She sprayed the water gently on my back and sides with something she was holding in her hand, and the water felt warm. It was okay. Then she started with the shampoo.  Next, she started rubbing me and saying “Good boy” and using a little rubber brush occasionally. Then she said “Up Up Up” and that’s the signal for me to stand. So I stand.

The hardest part was the “Turn around” part. I don’t know what she means by “Turn around”. Usually when she says “Turn around” I stand there and look at her and then she grabs my whole body and swings it around.  Then she sprays more water on me and more shampoo on me and rubs me gently and then with the brush. She does my head last. Then she says again “Joey, turn around”. I really don’t know what she’s asking me to do but when she grabs me and moves me I think I get the idea. Maybe.

My rubber duckie takes a shower with me

My rubber duckie takes a shower with me

After a while, she just pours me with a lot of warm water.  This time she said “Stay” and used her hand signal too and looked me in the eye to make sure I got it.  Then she left me there while she got towels.  I like that part because I like the part where I get dry.  At this point I get a lot of “good dogs”. I know she likes to dry me with the towel but I like to rub my head against the floor and carpets and anything soft I can find. Then I like to rub my body along the floor and the carpets and anything soft I can find.

drying myself off naturally after a shower

drying myself off naturally after a shower

After that, she brought me downstairs for Dad to see. He was very proud of me and I was proud of myself and happy too.

Then Jane took the hairdryer and dried me off.

Then the best part: She put the lead on me and we went outside and sat in the nice warm hot sun for a long long time. Then it got even better: She took the lead off of me and I got to walk around in the garden and just find a nice hot spot in the sun.

I’m not so crazy about taking showers but the reward is great!

Now please go to Part 2 of 2.

Jul 092009

Today was a really special day.

I have one birthday every year at which time my parents usually give me a special treat such as potatoes or potato chips or something that I love. They also sing me this song; tonight they sang me a song with a really joyous melody that made me really happy. At the end of the song they said “Joey” then “Yay!” and that made me really happy.  Then they sang it again and then once more.  I love my parents. They teach me new words so I feel smart and smarter.  They try to understand me even when we have trouble communicating.  I have friends who let me jump up and kiss them, even when my parents say “Joey, off”.  I have doctors and technicians who are kind who let me kiss them and who really care about me and about dogs.  I have everything!

here's a picture of me on my 10th birthday

here's a picture of me on my 10th birthday. if you look carefully, you can see the full moon and the crescent moon in my eye.


I pose for my birthday photo in a moment of peace the garden


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