Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gratitude and Grief

This was Thanksgiving weekend and it's almost over now. A time to be thankful for our blessings and I have many.

There is one thing in particular that I want to express my gratitude for this year. I am thankful I was able to share 10 years of my life with Bailey, my yellow lab. She passed away suddenly on September 7th, very early the morning of Labor Day. The cause was a ruptured tumor on her spleen that we didn't even know she had. It never showed on the x-rays.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her and wish she was still with me. The void left by her death is huge and I wonder if it will ever be filled again. To say that I miss her is inadequate.

I hope that I'll be able to write more about her - our life and adventures together, as well as what happened at the end. Right now it still hurts too much.

Thank you, Bailey-girl.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bailey's Back Pain Diagnosis... Kind Of

We had high hopes that the prednisone and muscle relaxer meds would be all that Bailey needed to help her heal and recover. Thankfully, it appeared that was the case, because once they really kicked in, she was feeling good... walking with no problem, energetic, wanting to play. In other words, she was back to normal. Or so I thought.

We decided to start tapering her prednisone down, since she was doing so well. Unfortunately, within 8 hours, she regressed. Badly. When I saw her that day after work, she tried to walk to me and collapsed. I immediately grabbed the phone and called the vet and he decided we needed to bump her dose back up and schedule her for x-rays, so we could try to find out what we were dealing with.

I was devastated. I mean like crying-and-lying-on-the-floor-next-to-her devastated. To me, this meant it had to be serious. Cancer? Tumor? The thought of losing her was something I had not prepared myself for... it was always "sometime in the future".

I dropped her off at the vet office the next morning and was a nervous wreck all day, waiting for results. Finally, that evening I met with the vet. And his diagnosis? Well, we're still not sure. Here's what was found:

From her symptoms, it seemed the most likely possible cause for her pain was a slipped disk, as this was exactly what she was doing:
When a disc first ruptures, it causes intense pain. When this occurs in the middle of the back, the dog will arch his back up in pain. When the herniation takes place in the neck, the dog is unwilling to turn his head, and may not even want to lower it to eat and drink. Some dogs will shiver from the pain and walk very carefully and slowly.

Now what? Well, the vet had an idea for Bailey that I did not expect to hear at all: hyperbaric oxygen treatments. More on that in my next post...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crazy Cockatoo

We interrupt this program to bring you some humor (hey, I need it). Crazy bird.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dogs and Back Pain

Bailey, my 10-yr old Labrador Retriever, hit another roadblock about 10 days ago... major back pain.

I got home from work Friday night and walked in to find her almost unable to walk. I have no idea what happened that day while she was at home, but finding her like that scared the living daylights out of me. My gut feeling tells me she slipped and fell on the dreaded laminate flooring in the kitchen (I hate that floor and she does too), but I have no proof.

Being a Friday night, of course the vet clinic was closed. I put in an emergency call to the vet, carried Bailey to the car (all 65 lbs of her) and started heading to the clinic in a hurry, anticipating that I would meet the vet there.

My first fear after seeing her in so much pain was bloat (which is frequently life-threatening). Not that I had any idea what the symptoms were, but she was hunched up like it was abdomen pain and her whole body was trembling. When the vet examined her however, he immediately felt it was coming from her back. My relief that it wasn't bloat was temporary though, as it was obvious whatever was going on was serious.

He gave her a cortisone shot and sent us home with meds to control the inflammation and help her relax... prednisone and robaxin (muscle relaxant).

Needless to say, I was a basket case. Seeing animals in pain, especially my Bailey-girl, is heart-breaking for me. I don't handle it well. That night was a rough one for both of us.

I'll talk about this ordeal in the next few posts for some background and catch you up to where we are now (hopefully healing!). My fingers are crossed for my girl.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Don't Stop Believing

This has nothing to do with animals, but it is still very cool. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Serious Squirrel Obsession

Ok, I don't want anyone to mention this story to my dog Megan (who thinks her sole purpose is to rid the world of those tauntingly-just-out-of-reach little buggers called squirrels).

I also don't want anyone to mention this story to Frog, my adventurous Nanday conure, who has a talent for trouble-making and would probably love to join me on a tree-climbing adventure.

Follow the link to see just how high in the tree this dog decided to follow a squirrel... it's seriously unbelievable. And check out this guy's pal, sitting on his shoulder! OMG.

The curious case of the stranded terrier, the tree surgeon... and the parrot

Megan, don't EVEN think about it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Introducing Bonnie (previously known as Clyde)

It's time for me to introduce a new family member of mine.

I received an unexpected call one Sunday night about 6 weeks ago, while standing in the checkout line at Lowe's. I didn't recognize the voice, but the man on the other end knew my name and said "if you still want him, he's yours". Um, what??

After recovering from the shock of that statement and reaching back into the foggy depths of my memory, I realized this guy was calling me about his parrot that he was rehoming... that I had inquired about TWO MONTHS before and never heard back. I soon discovered the reason why. He had been diagnosed with cancer and had been in and out of the hospital. I quickly made arrangements to meet "Clyde", his Timneh African Grey parrot, on my lunch hour the next day.

Walking into this house, I knew that I was going to do whatever I could to get Clyde home with me as soon as possible. It didn't matter if we got along or not, he was coming home with me, period. Without going into details, I'll just say it was not a healthy environment for any bird, animal, or even human.

On our initial meeting, Clyde bit me numerous times. I had welts all over my hands. His owner warned me that he had never liked women, but was happy to see that his aggressiveness towards me didn't phase me. Long story short, Clyde came home with me that night.

Two days later, he was at the vet for his very first exam ever. Because I have two other birds, he was quarantined in a separate room at my house and I told the vet to pretty much run every test on him. Of course, one of the first results that came back was the DNA sexing test... Clyde was a GIRL! What a dilemma - do I keep her name as Clyde (which she knows) or do I rename her and give her a clean fresh start to her life? Thanks to my brother-in-law's great suggestion, she was rechristened "Bonnie" (of "Bonnie and Clyde" fame).

Unfortunately, one of her test results came back positive for psittacosis/chlamydiosis. Her treatment was 5 weeks of weekly injections of doxycycline - and the last one was today! WOOHOO! Now all we have to do is get her retested next week and wait for the results. Assuming (and yes, I'm thinking very positive here) all is well, she will soon be out of quarantine and be able to take up residence in the living room with my other two birds.

Our relationship has improved dramatically. She cuddles (on her terms, of course) and talks to me... and even dances with me. Our nightly routine is for her to sit on my arm while I'm reading in her room for awhile and she seems content and happy. She's learning to play (she's been beating up a bell toy recently) and is starting to show interest in healthier foods (veggies, fruit, grains).

I had no idea she was coming, but I'm so glad she's here. Here she is, enjoying her new digs.

MANY thanks to Amy Meade, from Best Friends Animal Society. She has been incredibly supportive and helpful every step of the way in this rescue and I'm so grateful to her (Bonnie thanks you also!!).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fun

It's time to share one of my favorite videos. For those of you who aren't familar with Snowball, he's a dancing sensation who makes me laugh and brings a smile to my face every time I've seen him.

He's been on The Late Show with Letterman, Animal Planet and various other shows and news programs.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Unexpected Visitor

When I opened the garage door this morning to leave for work, I noticed an unexpected guest who had made himself at home in the middle of my driveway...

Cool, huh?? Well, I thought so. Look at that coloring! Can't say I had ever seen a toad quite like him before. I also noticed his left front leg was crooked, which gave him even more of a unique look.

this guy refused to budge until I actually touched him to move him into the grass so I could go to work (and not run him over). My cat even went up to sniff him a few times and he didn't move. Stubborn little toad. :-)

He finally agreed with my insistence that the grass was a better place for him to hang out. Here he is again, just before I left work.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Saving Them, One Critter at a Time

Ok, I can't help myself. I seem to want to save them all.

I'm one of those people that will attempt to capture bugs in my house and set them free outside, rather than kill them. Even though I freak out at spiders and snakes, I'd much rather see them alive out in THEIR OWN environment (please, not mine) than try to destroy them. Well, truth be told... I'd rather not see them at all...

Here is my latest "me to the rescue" endeavor (cue the superhero music).

I get home from work today, put Bailey on her leash and take her out for a walk around the backyard (yes, we're still doing our post-surgery exercises)... all of a sudden I hear frantic chirping, but I was puzzled because it seemed like it was coming from the ground instead of the trees around me.

I start scanning around the yard and suddenly see a slight movement in the grass about 20 feet away. I walk over and realize it's a baby bird that looks like it fell out of a nest. Problem is, it wasn't really near a tree, so I had no idea where it came from. Plus, I couldn't see any parents around, screeching at me to keep away (although I was hoping they were nearby, watching every move I made).

I know you're supposed to leave them alone, but there are neighborhood cats around (mine being one of them) that would be more than happy to have him for a snack. Not only that, there was a storm rolling in and this little guy was out in the open without shelter.

I took Bailey inside, found Riley (my outdoor cat) and put him in my sunroom, and then moved the baby bird back near the woods in hopes that his mom and dad would come rescue him. I backed off and watched from a distance for awhile. Nope, no sign of mom and dad. Sigh.

He was begging for food, so I decided to hunt for some small worms to see if he would eat them. Yep, he wolfed down 4 small ones. Guess he was hungry. Ok, now what? Shelter, somewhere nearby, that would hopefully keep him safe for the night and yet still be where his parents could find him.

Here is the result:

Yes, it's a small plastic plant container with a bungie cord holding it in the tree. It has holes in the bottom for drainage and I filled it with leaves, tiny sticks and various scraps from the yard in a pseudo-nest shape. I put the little guy in there and he immediately quieted down and started dozing off (poor thing was probably exhausted). Here he is - you can see his little head peeking out:

I hope his parents find him. I did see a nest higher up in this tree that he may have come from, so my fingers are crossed. Yes, I realize his chances of survival aren't good, but at least I feel better knowing I tried to at least put him in a safer place to give him a better shot at making it.

I can't save them all, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try. :-)

Update 24 hours later... he didn't make it. I buried him in the back yard near the woods.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tennis Ball Hunter

Bailey, my Labrador Retriever, is an intense hunter. Of tennis balls, that is. And sometimes sticks or very large branches. However, when it comes to living things that run, fly or otherwise scamper around... she has absolutely zero interest.

While this is a wonderful thing when you take into account the fact that I also have cats and birds as pets, I do think it's odd. I got her from a great breeder in Colorado and what I find amusing is that her bloodlines are full of champion hunters.

Now, I did NOT get her for hunting purposes whatsoever (I'm not a fan of hunting at all). And at the time, I didn't really understand the difference between the hunting and show dogs - I just wanted a lab from a good breeder. And what I also find funny is that out of a large litter of puppies, I just happened to choose what was probably the only non-hunter of the bunch.

Lucky for me, I say. And hey, she IS a hunter. Of tennis balls. So to all tennis balls out there... beware.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let Go of the Rope

Easier said than done, I say.

My typing skills are temporarily severely diminished, as I suffered a nasty rope burn over the weekend. This will likely be a short post, because of my typing frustration.

How did it happen? Short answer: I didn't let go of the rope. Somewhat longer answer: I was working on trailer loading with my mare (she has major issues with it)... she spooked and caught me off guard. My instinct was to grab the rope instead of let go. Bad choice in this case.

Afterward, I took a look at my hand and thought "oh that's gonna hurt". And I was right. Second and third degree rope burns... the worst part was cleaning it and trying not to be a crybaby. :-)

Luckily, my sister (who is a PA) was there and got me cleaned up, treated, and wrapped my hand so it looked like it belonged to a mummy. She put Silvadene on the burned areas and let me tell you, that stuff works miracles. By the next morning, the pain was nearly gone and the healing progress was amazing.

Here is my trailer-challenged mare (and The Rope That Caused Me Great Pain):

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Good Walk

Bailey and I are making progress (although I'm afraid to say this out loud, for fear of jinxing it).

We've started taking two 5-minute walks around the yard a day, with many "Walk! No, I said WALK!" phrases interjected in them. She's putting weight on her surgery leg, although she often tries to adjust her stride to make it easier on her (she starts "pacing", where the two right legs go up together and then the two left legs)... when she does this, I attempt to slow her down so she is forced to walk correctly.

It's getting easier for her each day and I can usually tell when she's reached her limit when she starts holding her surgery leg up and hopping every few strides. I have high hopes for a normal and active summer ahead for her.

For those out there who also enjoy photography AND dogs (how can you go wrong with that combination?), here is a link to a photo journal/book someone put together while going for walks with his dog out in the country (and he did all this in 30 days!)... enjoy!

Musings On Photography: Done

A Good Walk by Paul Butzi (direct link to the PDF)

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Cat Eats Weird Things

I am completely serious - he really does. I think he must be brain-damaged in some way, as he has always been a little "off" since he was a very young kitten. Since I know he was born in a hay loft in a barn, I've always wondered if he fell out of the loft on his head or something.

While I know he is a "mutt" in the cat world, he looks like a Siamese with white paws and he's little... like a kitten. I think the last time he was weighed at the vet, he was 6 lbs. I've had him since he was about 6 weeks old and he is now a very senior cat at 18 years old.

Tigger has been with me a long time and through many life changes and cross-country moves. He was given to me by some friends during a very difficult time, right after someone I was very close to passed away. Those friends (a married couple with very young children) took me in to their home for months afterward and gave me this kitten during that time. I think it was an effort to help me heal and maybe in some ways it did. In any case, Tigger has always been a special cat because of the circumstances that brought him into my life.

Now, his weirdness is a whole 'nother story. He eats really bizarre things. Like the tip of his tail. He has chewed on the end of it since he was a kitten. No vet has ever been able to find anything wrong with his tail and they've all concluded it's just a behavioral oddity.

He also likes cotton and wool. Ask me how I know... sigh. He has eaten holes in many of my clothes, sheets, blankets, shoestrings, etc. He even once ate a strap on a purse that belonged to one of my friends (sorry Sue!).

In the last few years, I finally found some information online on this condition -- it's called "pica" and refers to the act of eating non-food items. It is commonly seen in Oriental cat breeds (Siamese, Burmese, etc) or their crosses. While there are various theories on the causes for it, no one seems to know for sure what triggers it.

Amazingly, Tigger has never had an obstruction from swallowing any of these things. And now that he's older, the occurrences are more infrequent. And while I love him dearly, I will probably avoid Oriental cat breeds in the future for this reason.

Here he is eyeing my sheets and blankets, contemplating a snack:

More info on pica can be found at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Special Connection With Animals

Some people have it. A lot of people think it's nonsense. I believe it's true and know I've witnessed some with this gift. What I'm talking about is people who have a special connection with animals.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean people who LOVE animals (although I think you do have to love them to have this gift). And I'm not talking about the kind of person that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "animal communicator" (this makes me think of those who charge people to communicate with their pets - over the phone even!). I'm referring to someone who truly has a gift to understand and connect with animals of all kinds (not just their pets). A person that animals - all animals - are inexplicably drawn to (food bribes don't count!).

This heartwarming story was passed on to me today and I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Little girl gets into the heart and mind of a distant, wary dog

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Option to Walk on a Tightrope...

There was a very informative post this week from Dolittler (one of my favorite pet-related blogs, written by a veterinarian I wish I could take my animals to!) about one of the CCL surgery repair options out there. It's called Tightrope and it's one of the newer techniques available. It is said to be a better choice than the traditional extracapsular repair for larger dogs (over 30 lbs). However, as Dr. Patty Khuly states:
Consisting of strong bone anchors and a super-strong, braided polyethylene band, the TightRope device has become so popular that it’s become synonymous with the procedure itself. Surgeons I’ve surveyed, however, urge caution in the face of popularity: It’s not a new procedure at all, they say, it’s more like a “new and improved” version of an extracapsular that may not be so “improved.”
See the full post at Dolittler for her great info and advice.

My dog Bailey had the traditional extracapsular repair (using a wire, rather than sutures), as that was the only option presented to me at the time. While I wish I had known about some of the other options when making my decision, I don't know if it would have changed my final choice. The Tightrope technique is new and still unproven long-term and some of the other techniques out there (TPLO and TTA) are quite a bit more involved and invasive (although arguably more successful in their outcomes). These other techniques are also considerably more expensive than the traditional repair and while I want what is best for my dog, I do have to take the cost into account (especially in this time of economic uncertainy).

Bailey will be 10 years old this summer. She is at an ideal weight and is in fantastic athletic condition (she frankly still looks and acts like a young dog), which her vet believes will give her the best possible chance for recovery. My biggest challenge will be to keep her calm and safe from reinjury during her long recovery period (she is VERY high-energy... sigh), as I understand this is one of the biggest risks with this surgery.

Time will only tell if I made the right choice for Bailey. At this point, I can only hope I did.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Incision Update and a Renegade Staple

Bailey's incision is looking really great - I'm actually amazed at how well it's healed (except of course, that one little spot... sigh). I also found one staple hidden at the bottom of her incision that the vet missed while removing them. Hopefully my sister (a Family Practice PA) will be able to swing by and help get that removed, since I really don't want to have to go through the ordeal of taking Bailey back to the vet (more on that later) for something that minor.

Here is the latest picture (with the staple highlighted):

Now that everything looks so good on the outside, my main concern is how things are healing inside her knee. It's so hard to know if she's progressing as expected there. I've been working on our range of motion exercises, but it's been difficult since she immediately tenses up her muscles (can't blame her). I've been looking for pointers online on how to deal with this, but haven't found anything very helpful yet.

When I took her to the vet a few days ago for her first checkup and staple removal, we did have an "oops" moment. I made the mistake of taking her right up to my car (where the door was open), thinking I'd lift her in from there. Well she had other ideas... she tried to jump in. I grabbed her collar and stopped her just in time, but it threw her off balance and she landed on her surgery leg. Much yelping and whining ensued, along with trembling - I knew that had to hurt. I was very worried she had done some damage to the vet's handiwork in her knee, but she seemed to check out ok there. I do think it set us back a little though, since she seemed to be more sore for a few days. Next time I think I will lift her AWAY from the car and carry her there, to avoid this issue in the future.

She's still restricted to a small section of my bedroom (carpeted, which is very important for good footing) and only goes out for bathroom breaks. I've been watching her closely outside for clues on her healing progress. She varies from 3-legged, to toe-touching, to actually putting some weight on that leg and walking (well, limping) on it. At this point, I can only hope she's on track and try to be patient over the next few months.

Patience, patience. Someday there might be another tennis ball in her future. Until then, they are hidden.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Passive Range of Motion Therapy Exercises

Bailey and I have made it past the next hurdle - her staples have been removed and we've been given the go-ahead to begin physical therapy. Hurray!

Small problem... here are my written instructions, word for word:

Weeks 2-4
  1. Range of Motion exercises
  • 15 repetitions three times daily
  • Move leg in a fluid motion from an extended (standing) position to flexed position

And that was it for weeks 2-4. Ok, so how do I know if I'm doing this correctly?? How far is too far and how flexed is too flexed? Do I hold the leg a certain way to do this? No, the vet didn't demonstrate for me, which was unfortunate. It was busy when we were there though, so he may have been distracted.

Well, I didn't want to just jump in and try moving her leg around without some kind of idea on how to do this, so I started searching for examples online. Luckily, I found some great YouTube videos on how to do this:

Passive range of motion #1

Passive range of motion #2

I think we're ready to get started... my fingers are crossed that she cooperates.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Benadryl and its Doggie Benefits

Bailey is now 9 days into her CCL post-op recovery and she's doing well. As part of the healing process though, her incision has started bothering her... it's getting itchy. I thought about trying some kind of hydro-cortisone cream, but was worried she'd ingest it through licking and I didn't want to interfere with the healing of the incision either. I also considered just leaving on her BiteNot collar to prevent her from trying to scratch it, but I didn't want to leave it on her 24/7. And while I prefer not to give her drugs if I don't have to, I eventually decided it would be a good idea to at least try giving her Benadryl (based on the recommendations from my trusty Yahoo Orthodogs group).

I researched this for awhile, to make sure there weren't any possible serious side effects (I couldn't find any) and to make sure I gave her the correct dosage for her size. The generally accepted dosage (found on various veterinarian sites) was 1-2 mg per pound, twice daily. Bailey is around 62 pounds, so I decided to start with 2 pills twice a day to see how she did, knowing that I could up the dosage if needed. Thankfully, it seems to be doing the trick. I'm sure she's much happier without being so itchy and I'm relieved to have found an easy solution.

As an added benefit (at least in how it pertains to keeping her quiet during her recovery), it also has a calming and sedative effect. She's sleeping through the night and her restlessness has tapered down quite a bit. If giving her the Benadryl can help us get through the next 8-10 weeks without her reinjuring herself, it will be worth it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Week Post-Op... and Another Scare

Bailey and I have made it through the first week of her CCL surgery recovery, finally. Only 11 or so more to go... sigh.

Last night we had a scare (well, I did). I had been giving her marrow bones to keep her occupied in the evenings when she was restless, and last night she refused hers. This was my first real indication something was wrong. Then she didn't want any dinner. Uh-oh. I mixed some pumpkin in her food and she decided to eat it. Ok, whew. Everything must be ok then, right? Not so.

The next few hours, she seemed to get progressively more and more restless and anxious. She'd try to lie down and rest, only to jump back up a few seconds later and pace. She kept asking to go out to the bathroom, but then couldn't go when we were outside. After watching this for some time, the sudden thought entered my head that she may have swallowed a bone fragment from one of the marrow bones and it got lodged inside her. That thought sent me into a panic, thinking I'd better get her in right away to find out. Of course, this occurred at 10:30 at night, well after clinic hours.

I tried calling the clinic where she did surgery, but they didn't have an answering service after 10pm (I tried anyway... twice). I then called a clinic I've taken her to in the past that I knew had 24-hour on-call service. One of their vets kindly called me back and managed to calm me down somewhat. She had me check Bailey's gum color and test her gum capillary response, both of which were good. Her feeling was that this was likely not an after-hours emergency that required her to be x-rayed and examined immediately, although she made it clear she did not want to talk me into or out of anything. She suggested trying Pepcid AC, so I did that and decided to wait and see how the evening went.

It seemed to help... huge relief (to Bailey also, I'm sure). She started to stop pacing so much and was able to doze off and on throughout the night (which I tried to do with her). I ended up having another night of maybe 3 hours sleep, lying next to her on the floor... dressed, with my shoes on, and the leash, my coat, and the phone right next to me (just in case). A likely overreaction on my part, but I had never seen her that way and it scared me.

This morning, she was finally able to go to the bathroom and put my mind at ease. She has spent most of today sleeping, catching up from last night no doubt. And I worked from home (thank goodness they let me when I need to) and kept a close eye on her.

And to finish on another good note, here is today's picture of her incision... it looks great, except for the part where the staples popped out. Yay!

The vet clinic who calmed me down after hours and very late at night, even when Bailey was no longer a patient there (thank you!!): Woodford Vet Clinic

Monday, February 23, 2009

Protecting The Incision

Well, I've officially humiliated my dog.

In an effort to keep Bailey from licking, biting, scratching and generally messing around with the surgery incision site, I'm putting her in a protective collar during the day when I'm away from home and can't keep an eye on her. Now, I've been trying to convince her that this collar (called Bite Not) that I got for her is actually much more attractive and comfortable than the traditional e-collar that the vet sent her home with, but I don't think she's buying it. What do you think?

This is her look of shock and horror that I'm putting her through this nonsense:

This is her look of resignation and sorrow:

And this is the look of humiliation, while she is cursing me under her breath:

The Bite Not collar is actually pretty darned awesome from my point of view and definitely a worthwhile investment for me. When she was wearing the original e-collar from the vet, she wouldn't lie down, kept bumping into things, and was generally pretty stressed out while it was on. With this collar, she has her peripheral vision, she can easily nap in it (which I've witnessed), and she tolerates it surprisingly well.

For more details on the Bite Not collar and where you can buy it:

P.S. They also have them for cats! What I can't picture is how you'd actually get your cat to hold still long enough to allow you to put it on...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Cooked For My Dog

Yes, it's true. Many people may not think this is a big deal, but for me... trust me, it is. I rarely cook for myself. Why then would I do such a thing? Good question.

After Bailey's surgery this week, I knew she may not have much of an appetite. I also knew that the anesthesia and pain meds can affect the digestive system and make it difficult for things to pass through. Plus, Bailey has always had a sensitive digestive system... one thing ingested that's out of the ordinary could send her into a few days of diarrhea easily (ask me how I know). AND, last but not least, her pain meds needed to be taken with food. My goal was to get food in her stomach that would be easily digestible and entice her to eat even if she didn't really feel like it.

Here is the result:

Sure looks appetizing, doesn't it? Well luckily for me, to Bailey it did. It was very simple (even a non-cook like me was able to accomplish it). Ingredients: cooked ground chicken (beef or turkey would work just as well), plain white boiled rice, a few scoops of canned pumpkin (not the pie mix, just pumpkin), and some chicken broth for extra flavor. Mix it all together and that's it. I just stuck it in the frig and made enough to last until I got her converted back to her regular food.

You may be wondering about the pumpkin... well, I discovered through numerous online tips (many through the awesome Orthodogs Yahoo group I belong to) that pumpkin is great for digestive issues with dogs. If things aren't moving, it will help them move along. If they're moving too well, it can help with that also. I was a little worried that Bailey might turn her nose up at the pumpkin (she's not a normal "wolf down anything edible" labrador), but she didn't. And without getting into any of the unpleasant details, let's just say it worked great.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Emergency Visit to the Vet

Well, darn it anyway. We couldn't even get through one week without having a moment of panic, resulting in rushing back to the vet's office. Sigh.

Before I go on, I'll let you know all is well. I'm still not quite sure what happened (I didn't see the exact moment), but here is my best guess.

Bailey was getting a little restless and bored (who can blame her?), so I decided it would be a good idea to reintroduce the Kong - a favorite among dog owners who need to keep their canines occupied and content. I stuck a treat in it and plopped it down in front of her (she was standing at the time). She had this look of "cool!", so I thought "great, problem solved!" and started to walk away. Two seconds later I hear a loud yelp and then she started crying and hobbling around frantically. It was definitely a my-heart-is-in-my-throat moment, as the first thing that entered my mind was that she did something to the internal repair done on her knee.

Once I got her somewhat quieted down and standing still, I tried to figure out what happened. Then I saw something shiny on the floor... a few of her staples. Oh crap. I looked at her incision and saw that it had started bleeding. Oh double crap. Lots of swearing occurred. I grabbed the phone, dialed the vet and explained the situation. They asked me to bring her in right away and me, being somewhat panicked, got her there in record time (yes, they gave me a look of surprise when I walked in).

They put us in an examining room right away and the vet was in right afterward (these guys are awesome). Dr. Keith immediately crouched down by Bailey to greet and try to calm her - and then reached over and put his hand on my arm... "you ok?". Poor guy must have known he had a panicky dog owner on his hands. He examined her and said he could not feel any damage done internally to her knee repair, which was a huge relief. He checked out her wound and thought it would be ok to leave it as is. So all is well and I can breathe normally again.

So what happened to cause this? My guess is that Bailey saw her Kong and momentarily forgot her leg was hurt and tried to lie down normally instead of being cautious. It maybe caused too much pressure on the incision and caused some of the staples to pop and the incision to break open some. She's been much slower and more careful since then, although it could be from soreness more than just being cautious.

This is her "sorry, Mom..." look:

My awesome vets: Crossroads Veterinary Clinic

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Day After Surgery

Well, it's the day after Bailey came home from her CCL repair surgery. Poor girl looks miserable (and I'm sure she is). Last night was rough. She definitely had some bad pain for awhile that even the morphine and percodan couldn't mask. I felt awful for her.

Some good news - the vet said her x-rays were great! She has awesome hips and her knees show no sign of arthritis. All bodes well for a successful recovery for her. Her ligament had been completed severed (ok, his words were that it looked like it exploded... ugh), but there was no damage at all to her meniscus. I'm relieved that she's over this first hurdle.

Today she's been quiet and dozing off and on. Since she (and I) only had a few hours sleep last night, I'm glad to see her resting now. She has a lot of difficulty maneuvering around, which is understandable. Lying down and getting back up is quite an ordeal for her. Taking her out for bathroom breaks has been challenging. I keep her on the leash both outside and in the house, to keep her from moving around too much.

Here is a closer view of the surgical site on her leg... the first photo is right after I got her home from surgery. The second photo was taken today and it already is showing some improvement with the level of swelling and redness. Those staples look painful.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dog's Worst Nightmare (what - no more fetching??)

Yes, it's true.

Bailey, my 9-yr old yellow lab (why do people always qualify this with color? "black lab", "chocolate lab"... I dunno) that I was playing fetch with, ruptured her CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) in her right hind leg the other day.

Fetching the ball is her favorite game ever. EVER. I haven't yet figured out how to break it to her that her fetching days may be over. That picture in the sidebar of this blog is her, doing what she loves most. What a bummer.