Aug 302009
 

If you (if you’re a dog) or your dog you know has his leg in a splint or a cast, this is an important blog post.  If you are a veterinarian, this is a blog post that you are going to be proud of!
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dog's open-toed splint after surgery allows air to circulate

open-toed splint

I’d like to write a little about my splint. The splint has been off for a few months, but I’d like to write a little about it, and to show a picture of it up close.

First, this is a soft cast splint. It has a little more flexibility and is more comfortable to wear than a hard cast.

The splint was a very important part of my recovery, and so were the instructions about how to care for my splint.

The doctors left the toe open for several very important reasons. First, it allowed air to circulate. Second, it allowed my parents to look for signs of infection.  The doctors tell my parents that if they see my toes are inflamed, they know to get me to the doctor right away.

Another important part of the instructions is to notice if there is a bad odor. That is another sign of infection.  If my parents notice a bad odor, they know to get me to the doctor right away.

Finally, my parents are always looking at me to see if my bandages are wet. If they are wet, they have to bring me to the veterinarian right away.  Wet bandages is not a good thing. And this is another reason why I must wear the bootie or the plastic bag every time I go out, even if just for a moment.

Doctors are very concerned about my developing an infection.  I’ll just be a dog and do what I do, but my parents will be responsible for noticing all the signs of infection.

In the days and weeks immediately following my being hit by the car, my doctor wanted to change my bandages every 2 – 5 days. After that, after the sores were healed, he instructed my parents to bring me in for a bandage change every two weeks.

To find out whether I cooperated with my doctors’ good ideas, please continue reading!

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Aug 242009
 

Once your dog has recovered from his accident or illness, how will you keep him active and healthy?  What changes will – or can – you make in your lives to ensure your dog’s happiness and welfare?  The answer requires each dog owner to know his dog and to think creatively.

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Since I have mostly recovered from being hit by the car, my parents often try to take me with them. They want to keep me busy and active and happy. But taking me with them is not always easy. Or safe.

For example, since I weigh almost 80 pounds, it’s not easy to take me with them in an airplane. I don’t fit in a little box that you can put under your seat.

traveling by car with your dog

take me with you, please

It’s not always easy to take me with them when they go camping because they can’t leave me alone during the day when they go bicycle riding or boating, or whatever they do. Why not? Once or twice they left me on the leash and attached my lead to a post outside a store and when they came back outside, they saw the lead on the tree – – but the “other” end of the lead was lying on the ground: No Joey!  Upon looking at the lead, they saw I had chewed through it! “Joey.  Joey”, my dad called, and I appeared from beneath some nearby bushes.

Some of the hotels they go to will allow you to bring your dog, but you may not leave your pet alone during the day. So if they go bicycle riding or to play golf, they can’t take me with them.  Maybe one day there will be a dog-friendly golf course? I doubt it!

I’m way too big to fit into a little basket like some dogs whose owners take them with them for the ride when they go bicycle riding.

In the summer, my mom runs errands and I’m not allowed to be alone for long in a car because dogs overheat very easily; many dogs die each year from heatstroke. So that’s out.

But since I was hit by the car, my parents want to keep me as active as possible, and as happy as possible.

So when can they bring me with them?

They can bring me with them when they play tennis.

keep your dog cool and in the shade on a hot or sunny day

First, my mom has her little doggie kit which is nice because it has a little bowl.  They tie my lead to a little bench near the tennis court and near the water fountain. One week, it was a little hotter than usual.  Soon my mom noticed that I was panting and my tongue was hanging out. She went to Robert, the court supervisor, who had a big shade umbrella, and asked him, “Would you mind if I put my dog here?” Robert was very nice and were very happy to have me there, sharing the shade of the umbrella.

The water-fountain was nearby and I was in the shade, and next to people who were nice.  In fact, I was under the seat, which gave me even more shade.  In the heat, my mom stopped occasionally to fill up the doggie bowl and pour cool water over me. Then she filled it up again and said, “Joey, drink.” And she waited until I would drink some water. She kept an eye on me to make sure that I wasn’t overheating, which is important because dogs overheat very easily, especially older dogs like me.

After tennis, we go right home and my parents give me a lot of water to drink and food to eat.

Now that I’m healthy again, my parents want to make sure that I stay healthy.

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Aug 232009
 

When running with your dog after he’s been injured, be thoughtful and plan ahead. First give your dog time walking to warm up his muscles.  Build your dog up to more mileage little by little. Use a (stop) watch and time your dog.  Pay attention to the weather; heat will dehydrate him or her – and your dog will not ask for water while running. **********

I hadn’t run in a few days and I expected the same this morning when my dad woke me up and said “Joey, wake up.”

The sky was dark and beautiful and everything was quiet.  It was too late for the cicadas and too early for the birds.  But he and I were up!

pre-dawn, when I get up to go running

pre-dawn, when I get up to go running

Dad was all dressed up in his running clothes when he put the lead on me; this gave me ideas.

We walked along the carriage path for a while. Then the road went downhill.  Okay, we’re walking and not running. I’m still happy.

And then he changed directions and picked up speed.  I picked up speed. We ran around a pond where ducks swam.  We kept running. We ran over a small bridge that went over the creek that fed into the pond.  We met up with a larger road that went uphill. We ran. The sky and everything else was becoming more and more visible.  Then we encountered my carriage path again and continued to run up the hill toward home. No stopping.

Then we turned onto our road, still running, and ran up to our home, which was now bathed in light. Exhausted, I was, for sure.

Luckily, inside, there was lots of fresh water for me in my bowl.

It’s a good thing I’m running with my Dad because I wouldn’t know when to stop and rest. I wouldn’t know when I need to stop and rest my muscles. I wouldn’t know when to stop and drink water. But my Dad knows.

Later, he said to my mom, “Joey ran for ten minutes today.”  All these years I thought that my dad knew me pretty well; now I’m learning that he’s getting to know me even better!

I’m a lucky dog.

Licking and kissing my dad: I'm a lucky dog

I'm a lucky dog and I let my dad know it when we come back from running

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 Posted by at 12:36 pm
Aug 192009
 

Here’s a really fine dog, Luca, whose whose his front leg was broken in two places.  I know just how he feels. Or close to it.

Luca_cr

Luca is an American Eskimo dog and is four years old. He’s thinking, “Mom, why can’t we go back to the good old days?  Take this thing off my leg, please!!”.

I know just how he feels….Seeing his leg all bandaged and seeing the lead attached to his collar. He’s not moving very far for now, unless his parents are moving him around. It’s an awful feeling when you’re a dog who’s active, like Luca has been, as is his nature, and wants to be again.

Luca had surgery too.  He has a metal plate and screws in his leg just like I do. Shall I tell him how I’m now running and swimming again? Would that give him hope? I think Luca would still be miserable right now, even if we told him that one day he’ll be playing and moving around again. I know I was, and the word “future” wasn’t in my vocabulary.  But looking at Luca’s picture and alertness, maybe – hopefully – his bright and strong spirit – and his mom’s strong support and love – will carry him through!

I don’t know what Luca likes to do to play but I hope that he gets to do all those things.

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Aug 182009
 

It’s really important to give your dog exercise after an injury. However, the timing is very important.  You also need to build up his strength little by little and you need to know when to stop. ************

Dad and I are running together every few days.  This morning he took me out at 5:45 a.m., before the other joggers were out, before the sky revealed its morning light.  We ran in the same morning light as on our last long run, before I was hit by the car.  This time, my dad and I ran for about 5 minutes, steady running, no breaks. I felt great.  Afterward, Dad said I was a little slower than I used to be but who cared. The running was the real thing and I was with my dad; we were together and we had the world to ourselves.

Then I came home and went back to sleep in my bed, and stayed asleep until my mom arose. “Joey, up! Up! Up!” she said, her intonation rising with each “up”.

By that time it was already really warm out. She made up her doggie kit, into which she places a few poop bags and a few treat. She also got a few tennis balls and a few towels. Then she got me into my new harness. I was getting definite ideas at this point: The harness is connected with swimming. Hmmm….My ears are standing up high and I’m following her around our home, focusing intently on her.

Then she attached the lead to the harness and off we went – into the car.

into the water i went right away

into the water i went right away

Soon we were at my favorite hangout, the lake! Ah, my beloved crystal lake!

There was only one dog there and only a few people, and I think that was the idea.

Into the water I scampered, right away.

My mom threw out a tennis ball, said “Joey, go get your ball!” and I’m supposed to go after my ball, and I start to.

But then I see the distant shore and that scares me so I turn around to face the nearby shoreline, to go back where I started out. This new harness seems to have an answer to that. My mom is right there and she gently lifts me by the harness, which is easy because I’m in deep water already, and holds me in place while I make like I’m swimming. Sometimes she holds one hand under my belly which also holds me up and allows me to just get back in shape.

I am looking at the nearby sandy beach and working hard swimming but I’m not going anywhere – but I don’t realize that. Or maybe I do, but I keep swimming and paddling away.  My legs are getting a lot of exercise, my rear legs in particular. That’s what my parents want.

My mom can see through the crystal water of the crystal lake that my injured leg doesn’t quite kick as well as the other leg. She’ll be careful to get me exercise and build up my muscles and coordination but to not hurt my recuperating leg.

Every once in a while she lets go of the harness and lets me really swim – on my own, to shore, of course. I relax a bit and sniff around.  Then she throws the ball again, I go after the ball, I get into deep water and become afraid and turn around, and while I’m looking at the nearby shore she holds me in place while I swim. She says “Good boy. Joey, you’re doing great!” a lot. Then she lets go of me and I swim, on my own, to the nearest shore. We go through this a few times.

swimming in place

swimming in place

It’s getting later and other dogs are showing up. I focus on them. The tennis balls don’t interest me. If a dog owner throws out a ball and his dog goes and swims after it, I go after the dog.  Suddenly I have forgotten that I’m in deep water.

My mom is watching out for dog safety and if I get too close to the other dogs she tugs on my harness. The harness is gentle and doesn’t hurt or pull or tug on my neck. It just slightly separates me from the other dog.

Another dog, a boxer, is there in the lake, also learning to swim. He’s 8 years old, and until this year he was afraid of the water.  His mom and big sister do like my mom does to me: They carry him out to the deep water, let go of him, and he swims to shore, and then say “Good boy! Good Julie!”

After a lot of swimming and physical therapy and playing, my mom decides it’s time to leave the water and head for home.

She’s hoping that when we get home, I’ll be exhausted. But I’m not. I am, however, happy – and thirsty!

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Aug 172009
 

Here’s a really fine dog, Luca, whose whose his front leg was broken in two places.  I know just how he feels. Or close to it.

Luca_cr

Luca is an American Eskimo dog and is four years old. He’s thinking, “Mom, why can’t we go back to the good old days?  Take this thing off my leg, please!!”.

I know just how he feels….Seeing his leg all bandaged and seeing the lead attached to his collar. He’s not moving very far for now, unless his parents are moving him around. It’s an awful feeling when you’re a dog who’s active, like Luca has been, as is his nature, and wants to be again.

Luca had surgery too.  He has a metal plate and screws in his leg just like I do. Shall I tell him how I’m now running and swimming again? Would that give him hope? I think Luca would still be miserable right now, even if we told him that one day he’ll be playing and moving around again. I know I was, and the word “future” wasn’t in my vocabulary.  But looking at Luca’s picture and alertness, maybe – hopefully – his bright and strong spirit – and his mom’s strong support and love – will carry him through!

I don’t know what Luca likes to do to play but I hope that he gets to do all those things.

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 Posted by at 3:44 pm
Aug 172009
 

Dogs, too, experience stress. Knowing how old your dog is in “dog years” helps to gauge how much to expect of him in terms of healing, and how quickly you can expect him to heal and get back in shape. Your dog’s temperament is part of this formula.

a few white hairs

We’ve gone through so much these last few months. I am now ten years old, have a few more white hairs on me, though I neither care about that nor can I really see the difference between the chocolate and the white hairs.

white hairs are mostly where my whiskers are

white hairs are mostly where my whiskers are

The white hairs are mostly where my whiskers are and under my chin; since I was hit by the car, little puffs of white are on my feet and my legs. But my coat is still a fully and beautiful shiny chocolate.IMG_0015

How could I be going white when I’m only ten years old?

One website said that I’m 75 in human years. Another said that I’m 64.

My doctors said that I’m an “older dog” and that healing takes longer, but that I’m healing very well for an “older dog”.  But when I went swimming on Friday, somebody said that I acted like a puppy.  My mom calls me a puppy. She says “Hello, puppy!” and “Goodnight, puppy dog!” Even though I’m ten, every day is new and exciting. I am enthusiastic about my life and everything about it.  When there are other dogs at the lake, I want to play with all the other dogs so much that I lose interest in swimming. When somebody throws out a tennis ball for me to fetch and another dog is swimming, I forget about the tennis ball and want to play with the other dog in deep water and then my mom says “Joey, NO!” and yanks on the harness a little so that I lay off of the other dog.

My parents want me to swim and get physical therapy but are trying to come up with other ideas. They are so frustrated about this that they last night I heard them talking about trying to find me a dog park that will allow adult an unneutered male dogs. Who act like a puppy.

Some dog parks don’t allow unneutered male dogs, such as I am.  When I was a puppy, the play groups all allowed me in but then after my first birthday, they didn’t, because of this. But if my parents do find one that allows me in, maybe I’ll get a few more white hairs there.

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Aug 132009
 

How will we know that it’s okay to take our dog running again after ankle surgery?  Keep in touch with your dog’s doctor.  Observe your dog carefully when he is resting, walking and running, and going up and down stairs.

We did it!

The other day my dad got up early. He went running and I kept on sleeping. Then he came home and had some breakfast. Then he came and got me, “Joey, let’s go”, and took me out for my morning walk. We walked for a while.  Suddenly he sped up – and I sped up. And he sped up some more – and I sped up some more. And I was running!

It didn’t last long, maybe half a block, but it really happened.

That was it. All that day, he and my mom were looking at me walk to make sure I wasn’t limping.

Then my parents spoke to Dr. Cara. “How will we know that it’s okay to take Joey running?” they asked. Dr. Cara answered that it was time for me to start again: It had been 12 weeks since my surgery. She said to keep an eye on me and if my parents noticed anything unusual, to rest me for a day then try again.

The next morning, my Dad got up as usual and took his morning run – without me. I kept on sleeping. Then he came home, had his breakfast, and came and got me, “Joey, let’s go”, and got me for our walk. We walked until I was all warmed up. I get warmed up pretty quickly, though. Then suddenly he sped up, and I sped up. We ran for about one whole block. Then he slowed down and  I slowed down and we walked together for about one more block. Then he sped up and I sped up, and together we were running again! This continued for about one block.

Then he noticed it. I was hopping on three legs.

He again slowed down so that we were just walking. And we walked and walked – our way home.

Again all day my parents were looking at me. Was I using all four legs? Was I limping? Honestly my muscles were a little sore but I felt great. I slept a lot during the day.

It takes practice to do what comes naturally.

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