Friday, April 29, 2005

Happy Gotcha Day Tinker!!!!!!!

One year ago today, April 29, our "Little Dude", Tinker, came into our lives. We knew we had to get a buddy for Virginia to try to help her with her separation anxiety. We needed to find a dog who was the same age as Virginia or a little younger. We wanted to get a male since the people we spoke to with multiple Beagles felt that mixed sex got along better than same sex (um, the Beagles not the people). We also wanted to find a dog who was a little higher in energy and could get Virginia to play.

We found all that waiting in Wayne, PA in the dogpersonna of one Tinker the Beagle/JRT.

We were just about out of time. C was working and I was starting a new job on Monday, May 3. It was already Thursday, April 29 when we started our trek down the back roads of PA to meet Tink at the home of a BREW volunteer. We arrived to find a bunch of crazed Beagles (wait, that's redundant). There was another foster in addition to Tinker, plus the 3 who lived there. With Virginia, that made 6 beagles running and romping in and out of the house and in and out of the doggie door. Okay, 5 1/2...Virginia mainly stood there a little overwhelmed. She did scare herself and us when she zoomied off the deck and onto the pool cover. She looked like she was walking on Jell-O with roller skates as she made her way back to the side.

Tinker was having a great time, licking the other foster's ears and romping around the yard. As we sat there watching him, we thought "this dog is the one". Oddly, BREW was concerned that Tinker might have trouble finding an adopter because he didn't look like the average beagle (he's a mix, duh!) and because of his parrot mouth (curvature of his mouth - basically the bottom part of the mouth is smaller than the top). BREW felt his personality would win people over. Well, it certainly did and on top of that, our boy is a looker :)

We brought him home that evening, and he moved quickly into our hearts.

I never thought I could love a dog as much as Virginia, but he's right there. It sounds funny to say you are proud of a dog, but we've told him that. We know it was in the cards for him to find us and us to find him, and to get each other through his injury and rehab. If only most people could be as friendly, warm, and courageous as Tinker the Wonder Dog. :)

Happy Gotcha Day, Tinker!

Mom, Dad, and Virginia

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Run, Don't Walk

Yesterday we took Tinker to see his surgeon, Dr. Hunt, for his 9-week post-surgical checkup. His assistant, Meaghan (who wrote a very sweet note in our guestbook for this blog) came out to the waiting area to get us. As soon as Meaghan called, "Tinker", our little boy revved up his cart and tore like a bat out of hell over to her. They were both so happy to see each other. Tinker loves everyone, but he definitely makes a special connection to certain people; the people he knows have been there for him. Having worked with Tinker before and after (and possibly during) the surgery, Meaghan could see firsthand just how much progress he had made. It brought a huge smile to her face. Tinker's appearance also brought a smile to several of the other vet techs who peeked through the exam room window to see Tinker- his own little fan club. One said his name and he immediately looked up at the glass and started doing "tippy head", his RCA dog imitation.

Dr. Hunt's expression upon seeing Tinker told us more than his words did. While he is quite succinct in what he says, we could see on his face just how truly happy he was that his patient was up on all fours. We have another follow-up in 2 months. Dr. Hunt said (in his Aussie accent), "I expect him to walk in here then".

We have had to temper our own expectations a little. Tinker has progressed so quickly that we tend to forget sometimes that he will not be able to use the stairs again and he shouldn't be climbing down or jumping off of things, like the couch. He also won't go for very long walks like he used to...but all of that is all right :) He won't walk completely normally again, but then his walk was a little funky when we adopted him. All we want is for him to be able to stand on all fours, unassisted, harness and leash on, out taking a stroll with us and his big sister.

And, who knows, maybe one day he'll run too. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

A new driver is on the road and his name is Tinker. Tinker's cart arrived from Eddie's Wheels last week and the little guy is zipping around like Mario Andretti. Dr. DeLucia, his rehab vet, needed to make some adjustments to the cart so we had to wait a few days. He once again commented that "this dog is going to walk". Tinker adapted to the cart in about 2 seconds. It's well constructed and very lightweight aluminum that weighs all of maybe 5 lbs. His legs go through the openings in the firm seat, which is a figure 8 covered with spongey neoprene. A "door" swings over the top of him and locks into place; kind of like the safety feature on amusement park rides. There is also a webbed strap that locks in place across his chest in front to help keep him in place and to keep the cart steady while he walks.

Some dogs will let the cart do the walking for them, but not Tinker. As he speedily walks along with his front feet, most of the time he puts both of his back feet down to walk. The only problem is that sometimes his front legs are moving so fast that he makes the back wheels go fast, and then he can barely get his back feet down. He'll have to work on the mechanics.

He's having an absolute blast. We went to a nearby park this past Sunday and took him on a newly-created path that surrounds the lake. Everyone from bikers to joggers to parents with their kids in strollers were "wowed" by our Little Dude. Most had never seen a dog cart before. Except for the occasional wheel getting stuck on something and pulling up a ton of leaves, Tinker moved along smoothly.

Having him in the cart also takes some of the burden off of us, because walking him with the sling is very tiring and a little painful to the back and elbow of the beleaguered human. Of course our boy is well worth it.

Splish Splash I Was Taking a Bath...

It's been nearly 2 weeks since our last entry, and things are going very well. It's 7 weeks to the day since his surgery and we're happy to see continuing progress. After a slow start in hydrotherapy, Tinker has taken to it like- well- a fish to water. His time has increased every week and he is now up to 16 minutes at .2 mph, 3 times a week.

Tinker is also still getting the 10 minutes of laser treatment prior to the hydrotherapy. It's really doing a great job of helping to heal his incision. You can hardly even see the scar.

At first Tinker would actually try to move his back feet, but wouldn't move his front feet. I guess he figured he could keep his balance that way. Gradually, encouraged by C or I holding a treat at the front of the tank, Tinker began walking with his front feet and slowly, but surely, picking up and putting down his back feet. It's wonderful to see. Tracy stands in the tank with him and "plays goalie"- she makes sure he stays in a straight line and doesn't stop walking.

Tinker has also been getting exercise and walking practice with the help of a sling. It goes up his back legs and connects slightly above the base of his tail. We hold his back legs up while he does the work with his front. A slip leash goes around his neck to help steer him. He walks incredibly fast, practically running at times.

At times he can be difficult to steer because we don't want to put any strain on his neck, but as any beagle owner knows, they can be extremely stubborn/strong willed. Tinker is no different. There are times we walk in small circles as we battle each other for which way to go. You can't help but laugh.

Tinker's strong front legs have really been an asset.