Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TTA surgery 12 weeks

Phew! What a busy week it's been. We had an awesome visit with our regular vet. She worked on Holly's back and sacrum, and she was in great shape...her Sacrum showed practically no pain! She loved her acupuncture, falling asleep again.

Holly hanging with office kitty Patches wwaiting for her appointment

Evil me...I woke her up when I took this picture.

And then there was more driving...fortunately the views are always amazing.

 And then there was more waiting for appointments...

We had a great appointment with the surgeon and he gave me the news I was hoping for...her x-rays showed that the knee is finally healed. Whoop! We also took more x-rays of her spine to look for more spondylosis, and of course we found it in 2 more places. So we go into management mode for that and continue to work on increasing her core strength...that is what will keep her comfortable for the longest amount of time. Fortunately for Holly, she's quite the athlete, so exercise is what she relishes.

Had yet another great visit with the PT next. She went over Holly's entire body and the only places she found Holly was sore was in her shoulders and in her left gluteal muscles. But it appears she's just tight and overworked in those places from all the weeks she's spent compensating and shifting her weight there. I'll continue with massage and work harder in those areas for the next month.

In all, Holly's healed. At this point forward I continue to work at increasing her strength, balance and fitness...but still slowly, since she can always hurt herself in another way since she's so out of shape.

I also enjoyed an awesome visit from my best friend, whom I haven't seen in over 2 years! She pulled off an amazing feat of travel and was able to visit for 4 days. We had a great time hanging out and catching up. She had never met Holly or Kettle before, and we cried together that she did not get to visit with Casey one more time. She knew Casey from day one...she was my roommate in college when Casey showed up on my doorstep one day.

We also celebrated her upcoming birthday...and oh my, these were good!

And then I have one more piece of house is about to get fuller by one more. But we'll save that post for later ;)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rituals and Tradition

At least once a month Casey and I would visit the drive thru at McDonalds, a ritual that became tradition for just the two of us.

I'd purchase her a plain hamburger, myself a plain cheeseburger and small fries for both of us. Then we'd head to Casey's favorite town park and enjoy our snack. Truth be told, I think she ate as much of my burger as she did her own, and probably most of the fries too.

Late last August when Casey was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, I knew her time with me was suddenly going to be short. She quickly lost her luster for eating, so I abandoned all pretenses of 'regular' food with her, and bought or created anything that she might enjoy...meatloaf, steak, fish...she got anything and everything...including many, many, many more trips to McDonalds.

And every night we'd make a trip into town to McDonalds for dinner. Most nights she'd eat at least one burger, sometimes two. Sadly her cancer progressed very quickly. Just 2 weeks after diagnosis, she refused any and all food, including her beloved burgers and fries on our last trips to McDonalds together.

So, in memory of 4-legged heart and soul...Holly and I continue the McDonalds tradition. Once a month, usually on the anniversary of Casey's passing, we visit the McDonalds drive thru, then head to Casey's favorite park.

Happier than a slinky on an escalator

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Why?" you ask?

Okay, so maybe you didn't ask. But since we're on the subject...photographs and documenting the lives of my 4-legged friends...that's why I decided to do this blog.

I'm such a techno dinosaur...I don't have a TV, I listen to talk radio, I don't have a smart phone, I don't text, I don't do Facebook...and I like it that way. I only have one regret about being techno oldie...I didn't have a camera. And my biggest regret about that is not having more visual memories of Casey's last year with me.
One of the few photos I have of Casey in 2012 while she was healthy.

But this year, I have a camera (hooray!). So I don't want to miss this opportunity to create visual memories of Holly, Kya and Kettle because I forgot to actually take pictures.

This blog site was originally created for the agility club I belong to...the Huckleberry Hounds Agility Club, hence the name. But, then we got this nice new website, and after that the blog remained blank.

Since the club no longer needed the blog, I decided to start using it for myself. I wanted a way that would make myself be accountable for remembering to take pictures of my furry friends. So far I feel pretty successful...and I'm having fun with the new camera.

Classic "Rin Tin Tin" pose

I am definitely not a great writer, and I've never really had a knack for taking good pictures either. But, the more I do this, the more I'll learn, and the better I'll get. Besides, actually taking the pictures is what I'm trying to do...and if I get some good ones along the way, then that's just bonus.


And of course once Holly's limbs are all healthy again, I'll start posting some of our treibball, agility and trick training fun. I know SHE can't wait for all  that to begin again. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not Really Wordless Wednesday

When you choose to sleep like this...

's no wonder your back hurts so often.

What a weird dog...she's using my desk as a pillow, and she's sound asleep.
Someone get this dog a "real" pillow

Thanks Tonya for getting these great pictures of my goofball dog!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Morning Walks

Holly and I have been on a winter walking adventure. I live outside of town, or rather, above it. Usually I prefer to hike around our mountains foothills close to the house...I am fortunate to have very few neighbors and to live next to National Forest land. But since Holly's surgery, I've had to find new, flat and snow/ice-free places to walk Holly. So into town we went. I've found several really beautiful walking trails, that are paved and ice-free, around our main river. This mornings walk was particularly nice...completely void of other people, clear blue skies and a warm morning sun.

Our small town is situated in a narrow mountain valley. In the winter we experience many, many, many days of fog and inversions, which hide the sun for all but maybe 1 hour per day. It feels somewhat dismal at times. So getting a beautiful blue sky day like today makes you want to spend all day outside...til the freezing temperatures reminds you that it's still winter. It's a day like today that Holly and I would normally be out snow shoeing in the mountains all day...but we'll have to reserve that for next winter. For now, we're enjoying some new adventures in pavement walking.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The End of an Era

Can you guess what's missing?

If you guessed the 16 yr old Chevy Blazer that I've been trying to sell for the last 3 months in order to pay for Holly's knee surgery, then you'd be right.


I was both very happy and a wee bit sad today. Our family purchased that Blazer 16 yrs ago for our horses...for our 2 beautiful TB's, Nick and Billy, who died in 2003 and 2004.

My sisters boy, Nick at 20+ something years old

My beautiful Billy, also at 20+ something years old

I also thought of the Blazer as Casey's car...she rode around in it in her crate when she was a pup during a time when I tried to make her be my mom's dog (Casey was certain that wasn't true...I was hers!). Casey died last year.

A happy Casey

It was also Foley's very different cat Foley.  He went nearly everywhere with Casey, and he did it in style...riding on top of Casey's crate in the Blazer. Foley died before I moved to where we live now.

My little buddy Foley...he had a face only a mother could love.

Selling the Blazer today was the end of an Era. It was one last "thing" that connected all of my former 4-legged friends together in one place. I kinda feel like I'm embarking on a new journey with new (or newer) 4-legged friends, and with certainly a newer vehicle.

Nostalgia aside, to help celebrate my new ability to pay off Holly's veterinary bill, I went for a walk with my friend and her 2 awesome dogs, Raj and Jubilee.

Raj...aka Casanova

Sweet, sweet Jubilee

My friend has been working very hard training both dogs...Raj gets over-stimulated when he sees other dogs, or when doesn't get to visit people (especially when he thinks he absolutely should). And Jubilee has some fear issues with strange people. So we went out on the parks walking trails hoping to get some good training moments for them. We did. And all 3 of them are doing awesome :)

Then it was Holly's turn for a walk. Because she is only going on short walks and I'm trying to keep her arousal level down, she couldn't walk with Raj and Jubilee earlier...which is sad, because she loves Raj. Actually, all the ladies love Raj, but Holly's pretty certain that he hung the moon just for her.

For now, she walks alone. But hopefully she'll be able to join her friends soon.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Happier Days

Office Holly is enjoying office life.

Life has been more comfortable for Holly since yesterday. We were so very lucky to get an appointment with our other vet for chiropractic and acupuncture care on very short notice. We were there for over an hour and Holly got the works. She's never had acupuncture before, but she clearly enjoyed it and fell asleep a few minutes into her first experience with needles. I brought my camera to take pictures...but I forgot and left it in the car. Next time.

I did some shopping and took Holly for a short walk before making the drive home (the vet is 1.5 hrs away...our nearest next town). It was amazing...she was already walking without a limp and striding out with her right hind leg much more comfortably. So awesome.

It's wonderful that she's so at ease at the vet office...which is important since their lobby area is super tiny and really hard for a "dog-in-need-of-space" from other dogs. Generally, she's fine with other dogs, but she has a very clear bubble that I protect so she doesn't have to. All the hours we spend on training really show when we are there...playing the "there's a dog in your face" game, the "look at that" game, being able to lie down on her side happily when asked, rolling over when asked, moving her body while lying down without her feeling tense, or heading off into another room with any of the veterinary staff without me...all while remaining trusting and relaxed. More awesomeness.

Yesterday and today she looked great. She has a nice quiet week ahead of her, but she clearly feels much, much better. A healthier, happier Holly...that makes me smile :)

I had fun today with my camera at the has some fun features but I liked the Vibrant Colors and Miniature modes the best...

My office might be small (think closet space), but it's cozy and Holly just fits inside. We'll be enjoying the whole week together in our tiny space, entering last years data. It's a tedious and boring task, but Office Holly makes office life enjoyable.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Good and the Bad

On Friday I took Holly back to the surgeon for her 8-week post-surgery x-rays. If you remember, she had TTA knee surgery on December 4th to repair a partially torn ACL and to, hopefully, put an end her chronic iliospoas injuries. Recovery has gone really well and she remained sound after surgery until January 24th when she came up severely lame for several days. Fortunately it happened a week before our 8-week recheck, so I put her on anti-inflammatories and 100% rest until we could see the vet.

The Good...
Holly's knee looks great. Both the vet and the PT worked on her surgical knee and neither found anything to be amiss. Her passive range of motion is almost exactly the same as her non-surgical knee, and she did not show any pain or discomfort during palpation and manipulation of both the joint and of the implants. Excellent. However, x-rays showed that at 8.5 weeks the bone is still not completely healed yet…which not terribly unusual, but we had expected it would be totally filled in by now. We’ll do another set of x-rays in 3 weeks.

So, what the hell hurt her enough to be THAT lame a week ago?

The Bad…
The PT found that she had a lot of pain in her right middle gluteal muscle and on the right side of her sacroiliac joint (SI or Sacrum). It was also extremely painful when the vet “tipped” her pelvis…essentially moving the SI joint. 

We did x-rays of her pelvis and spine and it showed bridging spondylosis between her L6 and L7, and that the sacrum was “tipped” in an upward position and slightly askew.

Because the x-rays show that the bridging of the L6 and L7 was nearly complete, this is something that’s been going on for awhile, and was already present before we did the knee surgery. Like other arthritis, not all dogs show pain or discomfort with Spondylosis, and its progression is different in every dog.

She’s been walking and moving differently since she tore the ACL, and especially so since her surgery. Last Thursday we think she hit critical mass…she twisted just right, pushed just right, or did ‘something’ just right to break the bridge of calcium that’s been forming between L6 and L7. Spondylosis is permanent and progressive, and we actually WANT the L6 and L7 to bridge, or fuse, together so they can no longer ‘shift’ out of place and cause pain.

Relaxing after being poked and prodded for 2.5 hrs.

So what now?

Well…for the short term, we have both the knee and the sacrum to worry about. I have a whole list of things she can do and things she should not do. We’ll continue to work on building up the strength of her knee, and at the same time start to work on getting her core muscles back in shape.

We’ll also slowly work on getting the sacrum back in place and keeping it in place. The PT suggested NOT putting the SI joint it back in alignment through chiro…the tissue around it is already inflamed and sore and she felt it was unlikely to stay in place afterwards anyways. So, I have specific massage points to work on for 3 weeks to slowly ‘bump’ it back into place while decreasing the inflammation and getting the muscles to relax at the same time. She’ll stay on Rimadyl for now and we added a muscle relaxant too. She’s already on good Omega-3’s and we will talk about adding something like Adequan or Pentaussie for long term maintenance.

She had laser therapy on the gluteal muscle and the right side of the SI, and I’ll have her regular vet do acupuncture in those areas

Getting Laser Therapy on her Gluteal Muscles


Had I known about the spondylosis before the surgery, I would have never chosen to repair the ACL surgically. But you know…hindsight and all that crap.

The spondylosis is a long-term problem, and one that may prevent her from ever going back to agility or mountain hiking. I don’t want to think about all that just now. Instead, I’m just going to focus on how much she can progress in next 3 weeks.

Heal Holly…heal.