Yesterday morning was another good morning. No shaking which is great. We are trying to get him back into a routine which means a quick morning outing for some bladder relief and then a walk right before I leave for work. No walks right now because he’s a little tired but thats ok. So for now, he just tools around the front yard to do his business. He insists on going to the backyard, no matter what time of day, a lot lately. Which again, tells me he is completely comfortable outside but not yet inside. Maybe some more rugs will help that. He’s a little spooked by even a 3 inch gap between runners and will leap to get to the next rug. I have an old rug that we plan on cutting up this week for more runners so hopefully that will help.
His appointment was at 5:40 for staple removal. It takes about 15 minutes to get there depending on traffic. We loaded his dog bed in the back of the van and got ready to take him over around 5. We figured it would take some convincing to get him into the van and we thought it would take awhile to get in to their large facility. Much to our surprise, with a lot of help, he leaped right into the car!
Once we got there we unloaded him and headed down the long corridor to their elevators for the second floor and headed in to the waiting room. He walked all the way and even waited for his appointment standing up, with no rests, like a total BOSS. The Dr thought his incision looked great and he was ready for staple removal! YIPPEE! We talked about continued pain relief and much to Buddy’s relief we headed out the door for home. He’ll stand and face the door until its time to go. I can imagine what goes through his head. (The last time we were here I came home WITH OUT my arm. Where is it? I know its here somewhere.) Anyhow, we headed to the elevators. It took us a while to convince him that the elevator was NOT another waiting room and that we REALLY were going home. We headed down to the first floor a little worried about the long walk down the hallway after the elevator ride. Its about 70 feet or so and he still hadn’t had any breaks from walking and standing. We got off the elevator and he ran. HE RAN. HE RAN ALL THE WAY DOWN THE HALLWAY TO THE DOORS LEADING OUTSIDE. HE RAN! OMG! HE RAN! Remember the movie Braveheart? Buddy was Mel Gibson. (with out the face paint, sword and Scottish accent). FREEEEEEDOM!! Incredible. I am still sitting here laughing and shaking my head!
This morning was filled with some more newness. I found him resting in one his old spots under the table. And, I actually got him to walk a little bit down the street for a very short walk before I left for work. He had to stop and rest before we headed in the house but he did it! All on his own. Its been 16 days since his surgery. We are so proud of him. He is incredible. Look at that face!
Buddy is pretty comfortable in his kingdom out back these days. He can get up and down by himself and take of business when ever he wants. Buddyville (aka the backyard) is his happy place. Inside is another story. We have hard wood floors everywhere. Which obviously, is pretty hazardous when you are walking on 3 legs. Not to mention that bare floors have become the enemy to him since June when some wicked storms came rolling through. I don’t get the connection with storms and bare floors but he’s a dog. They have weird hang ups. Humans have hang ups too. I don’t like the color black, snakes or onions. He was on doggie prozac for about 6 weeks to calm him, which made him into a zombie. (And yep, we tried the thunder coat, lavender and soothing music. Nothing worked.) Anyway, we have a few runners here and there but not nearly enough. So yesterday was rug shopping day and off to the mall we went. We brought home 3 runners and a rug to go under his dog dish thing. We laid them all out and realized we were going to need at least 2 more. So off to Target my sweet husband went. The house looks pretty funny right now with rugs all over the place. Kind of reminds me of the directional symbols we have at preschool. Follow the tan rug and the flowered rug to get to the hiding place under the dining room table. Follow the blue rug , flowered run and then the tan rug to get to the front door. It’s working because he found his way (with no encouragement on our part) to his hiding place under the dining room table! Then he went back again to his bed and sometime before dinner he got up and walked over to the door to let us know he needed to pee! He was even willing to go eat at least half his dinner in his scary dog dish holder thing. Its supposed to rain for the next few days so hopefully he will find it in himself to be brave and go exploring again on his own.
He still shakes from time to time. Maybe it’s a little bit of pain or maybe it’s a bit of anxiety. I’m really not sure but it is a little bit less.
Today, he finally figured out that he has to scoot himself off of his dog bed in order to stand on his own. He’s a smart one. Something new everyday.
Tomorrow is a big day. It’s ugly, staple removal day! YIPPEE!
Yesterday was Friday September 25th. 12 days since Buddy’s surgery. We got up, fed him his breakfast and took him out to pee. He still needs a little bit of help getting up with the sling in the am but hey, we all need a little help in the morning sometimes! I got ready for work and came downstairs to find him panting. NO shaking which is great. So, I scratched my head and thought, well, maybe he might like to go for anther potty break before I leave. His usual routine was to go out first thing in the morning and then for a short walk before I head to work. I haven’t done that since surgery. I got him up and out the door with his sling but dropped it once he was feeling stable. Bless my soul, he wandered off a few steps, peed, hopped around the front yard a bit and did his doggy business! OMG! He turned around, hopped up the lawn, into the doorway , into the house, hopped over to his bed and flopped down. And looked up at me with a very proud face. (or maybe it was relief) OMG.
I came home from work around noon and decided to let him out back even though it was a bit gloomy out. He usually hates gloomy days and prefers to stay inside but when you’ve been staring at couches all day, I imagine a gloomy day can suddenly be glorious. Once agin, I went out back to see how he was doing and couldn’t find him. I looked over our back deck to find him happily hopping around, checking out the yard and heading underneath the back deck for a rest. 45 minutes later it started to sprinkle. I tried telling him it was time to go inside, by the look he gave me, he was clearly telling me NO it wasn’t. It took a while but I coaxed him out from underneath the deck and got him to head into the house through the garage. My youngest came home from high school to find me trying to get him up and over the step into the house. Buddy was tired. Half of him was in the house and the other half was in the garage. So we hoisted him up with his sling and got him over to his bed to rest. It was a good afternoon regardless.
That night we decided to order takeout. I went upstairs to check my emails on the computer for a bit while Steve went out to get our food. 5 minutes later I heard clunking around. Puzzled, I came downstairs to find that Buddy had gotten up from his bed and was trying to hop around in the front hallway! This was the first time that he had gotten up independently to go check out the house. He’ll flop around his bed a bit but he never gets up from that room. His exploration only lasted a few minutes, but WOW. Steve came home and we decided to see if we could get him to go stand at his new elevated food bowls to eat. He’s a little spooked by it. It’s new and the shiny silver bowls weird him out. I put his old bowls in the new bowls to make him feel more comfortable. (We had tried getting him used to it before surgery and he didn’t like it then either.) I think a larger rug underneath might help. He was hungry (seriously, I think you can get a hungry dog to do anything when chicken is involved) and hesitantly decided to try it. He got about 1/2 his food down and hopped away back to his bed. We cheered him on for trying. He was tired and this was new. I brought his bowl over to him so that he could polish off the rest of his food.
It was another great day filled with newness. It helps to write about it to remind myself of the great steps he’s taking because I worry. He pant’s randomly sometimes. Does he need more pain medicine? Is he getting to much? Does he have that phantom limb thing going on that I hear about? Did the cancer go to his lungs? The chest xray said all clear. He’s not likely to develop cancer in his lungs in 2 weeks. Why does he pant like that? His back legs still get a little shaky. His tummy seems rumbly after drinking water. Is he getting enough food? I don’t want to over feed him because he has to loose weight. The vet approved of his diet. Maybe I need to talk to her about that. All of this stuff goes through my head before I go to sleep. I must remember to celebrate all the great improvements instead of obsessing over what could go wrong. And I need to remember to place it in God’s hands. He’s helped us through this thus far. God is good. Life is good. Buddy improves everyday. Not bad for a 13 year old puppy.
We got the all clear from the vet office to come get Buddy, Tuesday night, September 15th. We loaded the car up with his big bed and headed to their office. We were excited and terrified all at the same time. The vet tech came out to discuss medications and answer any questions we had. She left with another tech to go get Buddy loaded up on a gurney while we waited in the parking lot for his arrival. My first thought when they brought Buddy through the doors was, it looks like Buddy! I was expecting some Frankenstein sort of appearance but it was our Buddy minus a limb. He really looked pretty good! The tech made mention that his weight was now 71 lbs. Puzzled, we said, ” He came in at 81.” Then the lightbulb went on and we both said, ” Oh.” They loaded him into the back of our van like a huge load of potatoes with 2 towels but he certainly didn’t seem to mind. I sat in the back just to make sure he was safe. And off we went for home. I will not lie. I sat in the back and cried thinking OMG what have we done? We drove into the garage and got him out of the car by carrying his bed into the living room. He’s probably got to pee. How in the heck are we going to do this? We carried all 71 lbs of him in his bed out to the walkway. We stuck one towel under his front end and another under his back end. He face planted and it was a struggle but some how we managed and he peed. Success. We carried him back into the house and face timed our daughter in college. Buddy looked around the room and I swear he was smiling. He was so happy to be home. (Or maybe he was hallucinating that he was in room full of giant dog bones.) We offered him water to which he refused. So I added some chicken broth to make it more enticing. Success! He loved it!
Wednesday morning was another struggle in trying to figure out how to get him out to do his business. All the blogs I had read at that point had made it seem like it was so easy. I kept seeing how other dogs were up and moving around after 24 hours. Stupidly I thought, why does he need so much help? Exhausted from 5 nights of no sleep, I wrote to one of the forums at tripawds and asked how long until he is up and mobile? I wrote a short clip about him and our struggle and almost immediately I got a response. And then there were 2 more responses. I sat and cried. The support we were receiving was overwhelming. Our new friends helped us to see that he was an older dog who needed his rest and that front limb amputations take a bit longer to adjust. Get rid of the stupid towels and get a canvas grocery bag to create a sling for him. And that rest assured, he was going to be just fine and to hang in there. I wanted to jump through my screen and hug every one of them. It meant so much to us that people cared that much and wanted to reach out to us. I finally settled down that night and slept.
Thursday morning I was on a mission to make him that sling. No more crappy towels. My youngest came home from school to help me test drive it. We carried him out to the lawn on his dog bed. Shoved the sling under him and up he went. It took a little tweaking but it worked! Yippee! My mom and stepfather were in town for my nieces wedding and stopped by. Well my goodness. Buddy was so excited! He was trying to get up on his own to greet them! He wasn’t successful but he was trying! His tail wagged and he smiled! He was one happy dog! He even ate a little more dinner than usual. We carried his bed out to the lawn and got him up with his new sling again, he face planted but he had another successful release from his bladder. Still no poop but thats ok. Poop happens. It always does.
Friday morning Buddy had more visitors. My dad and stepmother were staying with us for the wedding on Saturday. More smiles and more tail wagging. Dad and I headed to the dog food store that morning to get some advice on how to help Buddy loose weight. A sleek dog is a healthy dog when you are working with 3 legs. As usual they were very helpful. 1/2 cup of his grain free dog food and 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal for breakfast and dinner. (This was tweaked later in the week by our vet to 1/2 c grain free dog food and 1/2 cooked oatmeal for breakfast. 1/2 c grain free dog food, 1/2 c boiled chicken and 1 cup of green beans for dinner) Friday night was more visits from my brother and his wife who were also in town for the wedding. Buddy was thrilled! More visitors for me?! My daughters best friend since 3rd grade came by with our neighbors to learn how to help take care of Buddy while we were gone on Saturday for the wedding. These people are a blessing. Carrying a 71 lb dog outside and then helping him up with a sling is no easy task. They assured us all would be well. That night we took him out for his nightly pee but still no poop. Thats ok. Poop happens. It always does.
Saturday morning was filled with lots of attention again as we all readied ourselves for the wedding. I finally removed the pain patch from his back paw. I know he didn’t like it there because he kept sticking his leg out while he was resting as if to say, what is this and get it off please. Sheer guilt took over in leaving him so soon after surgery but I knew he was in good hands. The wedding was beautiful and a welcome distraction from my constant worry over our beloved dog. Our neighbors and our daughters friend had no problems except for the fact that he wouldn’t drink much for them. That was much better than I had expected. Usually he lays around depressed all day when we are gone for long periods. We came home that night and carried his bed out to the front lawn. We lifted him up in his sling and off he hobbled to the garden. He turned, positioned his butt and mission control, we have poop! I think I yelled it! POOP! He’s pooping!! I’ve never been so excited to see poop!! Poop happened. It always does.
Sunday was a pretty good day. We carried Buddy on his bed out to the front lawn to sun himself for the first time. He was one happy dog. We said goodbye to most of our family as they headed back home. That afternoon Buddy started to shake and pant. He’s had anxiety before over storms. Rain was in the forecast for Monday but really, we weren’t sure what was up. My mom was at home with us and sat and sang to him. We stroked his paw, cuddled him and took his t-shirt off. Nothing helped. He wasn’t acting like he was in pain. That evening we took him out to do his business and off he hopped in his sling around the whole front of the garden and headed towards the street! He wanted to go for a walk! OMG! We turned him around and off he wobbly hopped back in the house and flopped on to his bed in the hallway. WOW! But the shaking still persisted.
Monday morning was filled with more uncontrollable shaking and panting. Maybe all the company we had was just to much for him. Unfortunately it was raining out so he couldn’t go sun himself. It was just awful seeing him like that. My oldest son came by to help me take him out to pee (as he had everyday at noon). We carried his bed to the garage, pulled him up on his sling and off he hobbled to the garden to pee. Just as he was finishing he face planted. But this time he lifted himself up all by himself. “Oh my gosh mom! Did you see that?!”,exclaimed my son. He did it! He had gotten up all on his own. But the shaking and panting persisted.
Tuesday morning I texted the vet. She called and we both scratched our heads as to what was wrong. Is he in pain? Was he getting to much pain medicine? Did the rain the day before bother him? To much company? We both decided that maybe it was time to introduce some doggy Xanax to help calm him down. He wasn’t shaking when I came home from work at noon. Go figure! So I held off. My son and I decided to try something different that day. Lets try taking him outside with out his bed. We laid down rugs everywhere so he wouldn’t slip on the floor. Then we hoisted him up in his sling and off he hobbled to the door. He hobbled around the garden and out came our neighbors from across the street. Oh my gosh! What happened to Buddy?!! We hadn’t told them yet. While we were explaining what had happened the sling got loose and we dropped it. And off Buddy hopped with out it!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!! Did that just happen?!! He hopped along with out his sling, for the first time, around the garden and up to the house all on his own! He plopped himself down on his bed as if to say… And that my friends, is hows its done. 3 paws forward then one paw back. The shaking began. I gave him a Xanax and laid down with him to keep him calm. For the time being it helped. We brought him out front to sun himself where our little Chelsea kitty anxiously joined him.
Wednesday morning I came downstairs to find that some how he had gotten off of his bed and had peed on the floor. He had only one accident since his surgery so this was strange. We cleaned him up and took him outside with out his bed. Brought him back in and gave him another Xanax because I could see the shaking was about to begin. I came home from work to find my son cleaning up more pee. The Xanax must have made him to relaxed. We lifted him with his sling and took him to his kingdom for the first time since surgery. The backyard is his domain. Whoa the person, animal or thing that should walk by his kingdom. He hopped along with out his sling over to his thrown(a beat up old pink blanket) and plopped himself down all by himself. OMG. Rolled himself on his back to get a sunbath and looked like my old Bud Bud again. I went out to check on him 30 minutes later and couldn’t find him! WHAT??!! I ran out back to find him under a bush pooping. He face planted. Got up, wobbly hopped to another location, pooped again. Wobbly hopped back to his thrown and plopped himself down. ALL BY HIMSELF. AMAZING. We gave him dinner. Took him out with next to no help with his sling for his nightly pee. He wobbly hopped around the yard. Stopped, stood by himself and shoved his head between my knee’s for a head rub. BEST DAY EVER.
Today, I decided no Xanax. There was no shaking this morning. And no pee on the floor. I took him out back at noon with very minimal help with his sling. (all by myself!) 30 minutes later I couldn’t find him again! Little stinker decided that the sun was to hot and got under our back deck. And he has done that several times today all on his own. His back legs are still very shaky but I imagine with time that that to will get better. Amazing. Just amazing.
Buddy’s surgery was scheduled for Monday September 14th. I don’t think I slept the entire weekend. All kinds of thoughts were going on in my head. What if this is the wrong thing to do? He’s walking just fine right now. His pain is under control because they wrapped his wound after his xrays. He was taking Tramadol 3 times a day. Maybe we should wait? His back right leg was kicking out as he walked 2 weeks before surgery. It did not happen very often and it wasn’t worsening. In fact it was kind of a fluke but…What if he has that debilitating disease that dogs get where he can’t use his back legs anymore? I was obsessed with that. I researched the heck out of it. Sometime’s the internet is NOT your friend my friends. It will make you insane. What if, what if, what if…. The day before surgery we took him for a nice long walk. He was happily trotting along with a bit of a limp but happy none the less until we came to “The Fence”. There’s an old, wheezing, dog down the street, behind a fence, that Buddy has arguments with. Fence dog started cursing Buddy out for being near his property (or at least thats how I play it out in my head). Buddy thinks its not Fence dogs property and lets him know it. As he starts to lean in to tell him what he thinks of him, he falls. His bad leg faltered and he was most definitely in pain. He was able to finish his walk but after that incident, I knew the surgery had to happen. He never falls. Steve and my kids reminded me that it wasn’t that we were taking his limb. It was, that we were saving his life. That morning I got on my knees and prayed. I asked God to bless the Dr and the staff. And pleaded to please take this all from me. My heart hurt so much. I asked for forgiveness because I hadn’t been leaning on Him more and asked Him to help me to trust Him. God is good and sometimes I forget that. We loaded Buddy in the car at 6:10 am. I felt sick. We walked him into the vet office and started to check him in. The lady at the desk didn’t see his folder any where and asked if we had made an appointment. (Insert 20 thousand really mad icons here.) ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!! We calmly showed her our paperwork with the estimate. She fumbled around a bit and found that the Dr had a few surgical appointments available that morning and would schedule him in. Lovely. Works for us. Surgical nurse comes out and notices Buddy’s uncontrollable shaking and makes a crack about sticking a quarter in him. She very kindly goes over paperwork and asks if we would like to escort him to the back where he will be waiting for surgery. Confused, we said sure. We walked him to the back, said our goodbyes and helped get him into the kennel to which he immediately started to paw at the door. If you are ever faced with this situation, don’t do it. It was gut wrenching to walk away from him like that. I cried all the way home. Steve and I both left for work after arriving at home. I got a text an hour later from our regular vet. (She was not doing surgeries that day so another vet would be doing Buddy’s surgery. We had known that though.) She was so very apologetic for Buddy not being on the docket. She assured us that surgery was moving forward and that she had talked to her fellow coworker in great length about Buddy in the days before leading up to his surgery. She was so comforting. I cried again and got back to work. I am an administrator for a preschool and let me tell you… preschoolers are the best distraction. I got a text from our vet at 11:30 that said Buddy was in surgery. He was doing great and the vet was half way done. My vet is awesome. How many vets are willing to text you stuff like this? She gave me more words of comfort and I cried again. An hour later Steve got the call that surgery was over and Buddy did great. He was resting comfortably and if all went well, we could pick him up Tuesday night. WOW. It’s done. That night Steve and I went for a walk, like we have done for 13 years, but with out our Bud Bud. We talked and cried a little and agreed that today, Buddy wins. No more cancer.