Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm Walking, Yes Indeed

It's been just over one month since Tinker re-injured his right rear ACL. He was put on crate rest and given a prescription of Deramaxx (a class of NSAID), which we hesitantly gave to him. In case you aren't aware of it there is a lot of controversy surrounding both Deramaxx and Rimadyl.

After three days we took Tinker off the Deramaxx due to a enormous increase in his urine output. Where he would normally go outside after 3-4 hours, Tinker's bladder was ready to burst after an hour. The literature on the drug's official website said that dispensing the med should be stopped if there is a significant change in bladder output and that's exactly what we did. Tinker's bladder output returned to normal just 24 hours after stopping the Deramaxx. We cannot stress enough the importance of knowing all potential side effects of any medication, whether it is for your animal or yourself. Okay, we'll hop down off the soap box now. :)

Tinker usually has no problem being crated, but was more reticent this time, putting on quite the whine fest in the morning after breakfast and in the evening after dinner. It could definitely drive you to the point of distraction.

Thankfully there was plenty of good weather so Tinker enjoyed some mornings and afternoons out on our deck. Don't worry we didn't let him use the grill.

We decided right from the start that we would allow Tinker to sleep out of the crate at night since the room is gated off and he wants nothing more than to just curl up next to his sister or spread out on the big square flat bed we bought for him. After about 2 weeks we also starting giving in at night and letting him out of the crate after his post-dinner whining. (We made sure to let him out after he had stopped whining so wouldn't be rewarding the behavior.) Again, this was no problem, since he wanted nothing more than to just curl up in his bed in front of the couch. And if he did wander off, we would say, "Get back in that bed young man" and he would scurry right back to the bed and lay down. It was a very funny sight to see.

While Tinker was healing the two of us were getting sore shoulders, necks, and backs from using the back sling harness to walk him.

So we were happy to get a good progress report from Dr. Massicotte after a 3-week follow up. One more week of crate rest was recommended for Tink and then we could slowly start to walk with him with his regular harness. About half-way through the 4th week we started taking Tinker on short walks with his regular harness while still using the rear sling harness for longer walks. He had no problem building his stamina back up and now we are walking him only on his regular harness.

Needless to say, Tinker is very happy to be free and hanging out with Virginia again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Sunday night, we awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a restless Tinker. He was walking around our bedroom and seemed unsettled. We quickly noticed he was walking awkwardly. Actually, he always walks in a somewhat awkward manner, (a combination of spinal walking and normal walking), but Sunday night he wouldn't lie down for more than a few moments.

We immediately were stressed, fearful that he may have suffered another back injury. However, we also realized his right rear leg was retracted and that appeared to be the direct cause of his balance problem.

Before I go further, let me explain a little bit about pain response in a dog who has had a spinal injury. Normally, a dog who hurts his leg will retract it from pain, but the leg will relax in short order. However, a dog who has suffered a spinal injury, has, for lack of a better phrase, an over reactive pain response. Rather than having his leg go back to normal in a short amount of time, Tinker kept his leg retracted for the rest of the night and early morning.

It was a long night for all of us, (well, except for Virginia who snored away), as we ended up sleeping on the floor next to Tinker to get him to relax. We tried to crate him, but he whined- and it wouldn't help matters for him to be stressed. So he got onto the big square cushion/bed we have on the floor (in addition to their regular bed- variety is the spice of life) and we laid on each side of it to both block him off and keep him calm. (At one point I woke up with Tinker leaning against my nose.)

We called up the Animal Emergency Referral Association (AERA) on Monday morning, where Tinker had his back surgery, to make an appointment with his neurologist, Dr. Christiane Massicotte. Timing is everything and luckily Dr. Massicotte had just returned from vacation. We were also fortunate that there was an opening due to a cancellation in the afternoon.

Tinker was examined by Dr. Massicotte as well as the AERA's neurologist in residency, Dr. Jenny Scarano, and X-Rays were taken. The determination- Tinker's back was fine...Phew! However, he has a partial tear in his right rear Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). He had torn the same ligament in the Summer of 2006, but not to this extent. Thankfully though, it is a tear and not a rupture, which might have required surgery to repair.

So, his remedy is crate rest and a daily dosage of Deramaxx, an NSAID, whose use, like Rimadyl, has us very concerned. Steroids are not prescribed in this instance, so we somewhat reluctantly agreed to follow the prescribed course of action (We will be adding a Milk Thistle supplement to Tinker's daily regimen to help cleanse his liver of toxins.). Rest is the key.

In order to take make it easier for Tinker to do his "daily business", we are back to using the rear sling that we employed 3 years ago when Tinker injured his back. He took to it this morning just like old times and walked around balanced on his front two feet with ease. We on the other hand are suffering some forearm muscle aches we haven't in a while ;) . We have made one concession and that is to allow Tinker to sleep on that roomier square bed (instead of the crate) at night so he can spread out a little more.

Our first milestone is in 2 weeks, when we have a follow up visit at AERA.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Any port in a storm

Tinker loves a lot of things, but Tinker does not love thunderstorms. He's not bad until the thunder gets loud as the storm gets closer... and then he begins to quiver and pace. So out comes the Rescue Remedy. 3 squirts from the spray bottle works well, and we repeat it every 15-20 minutes if the storm lingers. That and finding a "safe spot" to den in, seems to help him to manage.

Just like people do, dogs can find ways to deal with their fears. In his case, it's under the living room end table. We bring out a comforter to snuggle in and his stuffed pal Ernie, and under he goes. Pretty soon the Rescue Remedy and relaxation kick in and he nods off to sleep.

And what is Virginia doing during the storm?

"Storm, what storm? I've got boneys to chew!"

For a dog who has separation anxiety, Virginia is amazingly unflappable about everything else. Riding in the car, thunder and lightning, loud noises, etc. - no problem. During a storm she'll continue doing whatever it was she was doing- chewing on a bone, sleeping, waiting for dinner. Occasionally, she will go and lay down with Tinker, but that usually happens much later.

See Tinker's little stuffed friend Ernie curled up next to him? :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day Tinker

This Tuesday, April 29, will be four years since our wonder boy came into our lives. Tinker the little dynamo, the little engine that does, is Mr. Happy Go Lucky. As you've read on this blog many times, he's always happy, always upbeat, even when he's going through a tough/rough stretch.

Happy 4th Gotcha day to the boy with the spotted feet and sweet tummy. We love you Tinker. :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day Virginia

In April of 2000, I surprised Caron for her birthday by taking her to SOSBeagles headquartered in Bordentown, NJ. I had been looking for a young female beagle for some time. I did searches in Yahoo and came up with some sources, but no luck (including Petfinder. That's when I stumbled across Beagles-on-the-Web (which ironically Caron now runs).

BotW had many links including rescue groups, which I really didn't know anything about at the time. Included was the link to SOS. Among the dogs listed was a picture of a sweet little tri-color female (only about 20 pounds then) who had both ears back and diamond shaped markings on her back. It said her name was Virginia. It was love at first. It seemed like her eyes were saying, "come and get me Daddy".

I immediately filled out an application and sent it off. I followed up with several phone calls over the next couple of weeks to be sure Virginia was still there. Finally, on April 20, 2000, Caron, my brother, and I drove to Bordentown on Caron's birthday.

She had no idea where we were going and still wasn't sure once we had pulled into the place. That is... until she heard the barking and arooing! She has trouble remembering anything after that.

We met two other dogs (Sadie and Pebbles, both of whom were later adopted) in addition to Virginia, but she "had me at hello". Caron said, "are we really going to do this?" And the rest is history.

Today was Virginia's 8th "gotcha day" and we couldn't have asked for more in a dog. We could do without the separation anxiety, but she's golden when it comes to everything else. She is as sweet as can be, smart as a whip, and a great big sister to Tinker.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Free at Last

Tinker's 4 weeks of crate rest are up and now he can slowly start working his way back to having his freedom. He'll be either in his ex-pen or loose (under supervision) for the next 3 weeks as he builds his muscle strength and stamina back up. If all goes as planned, he'll then be back to his usual routine (minus jumping up on the futon or jumping up and down while waiting for his food), and not be restricted other than the norm (i.e. no stairs).

Tink was a great patient while in the crate. He rarely complained and went right back in after eating or doing his outdoor business. A few nights ago we let him start sharing the bed again with Virginia at night, and we're sure we saw him smile. She's the straw that stirs the drink and he missed cuddling with her.

Thanks to everyone who sent their well wishes!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Holding Our Breath

If you saw this week's (3/9) photo you would have seen a picture of Tinker chilling in his crate. That's because our little dude is on 2-3 weeks of crate rest due to soreness in his back.

Tinker was acting a little odd last Monday and it continued into Tuesday morning. Based on what occurred 3 years ago, we wasted no time in calling up AERA to make an appointment with his neurologist, Dr. Massicotte.

After examining him thoroughly, Dr. Massicotte felt there were indications of soreness and discomfort in an area below where he had his surgery in 2005.

So back into the crate our little boy has gone. He's also getting a tapering dose of prednisone for the next 3 weeks. We go back for a follow up a week from Tuesday. We'll be thinking positive thoughts until then.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Time Certainly Flies

This past Saturday, March 1, was the 3rd anniversary of Tinker's return home following his disk surgery (Feb 23, 2005). It's hard to believe it has been 3 years since the whole nightmare occurred, but it is not hard to believe the progress Tinker has made since that day, because of his incredible spirit.

He never ceases to amaze us. He has walked unassisted since October, 2005. We actually have to discourage him from doing some things, such as jumping up and down while waiting for his food. It's incredible how high he can leap considering he had a back injury.

We have become Tinker's personal elevator service since we don't allow him to do stairs- in an attempt to lessen the risk of a future injury. He's allowed up on the futon, but not the couch or our bed, which are both considerably higher. And we monitor his rough housing with other dogs, since he basically loses his mind in play!

Most of all, we just let the boy be the boy. And make no mistake, it took some time for us to let go of our reservations and fears and let him be himself. It is very easy to be overprotective after such a devastating injury, but there's no stopping this 21 lb. bundle of Joy.

Tinker's Pals Needing Homes

Not every dog or dog owner is as lucky as Tinker and the two of us. There are other Beagles with the same or similar injuries that are looking for homes. Two of those dogs who are currently part of a Special Needs feature on Beagles on the Web, Trixie and Miss Haley, use carts to get around. Both of these dogs need loving, caring homes where they can just be themselves.

Just click on their pictures to view their Petfinder listings, and if you are interested in adopting or helping out one of these precious pups, please contact the appropriate rescue by phone or email.

Tinker says thanks! :)


Miss Haley

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Our Own Puppy Bowl

This weekend the Giants made Super Bowl magic and puppies made Puppy Bowl magic. But on Friday night and Saturday morning, we had our very own Puppy Bowl magic.

A few weeks ago, C found a Beagle/Shephard mix in a high-kill shelter in Georgia. A friend said she would adopt little Mary if no other adopters were found. Soon Mary was renamed Pandora, aka Pandy, and was on her way to Project Zero in South Carolina for a week. Then a transport took Pandy to a short term foster in southeastern Pennsylvania.

On Friday night, Pandy was transferred to me at my office and home we went. Unfortunately the weather was miserable on Friday so Pandy could not meet Tinker and Virginia outside. So inside we went and it wasn't long before Pandy became Pandemonium.

Endless puppy energy, chewing on everything she could get her teeth on and into, including our hands. Tinker was instantly in love. After dinner, he and Pandy wrestled for 2 hours straight. Finally, we put Pandy in her crate so wethey could get some rest. Virginia, meanwhile, was in no way, shape, or form happy to have a ball of energy bouncing around her.

Pandy slept through the night, without incident. The next day she wanted to wrestle Tinker again, but Tink, who will be 8 in a little over a week, just wanted to rest up. Pandy tried to entice Virginia, but after a small skirmish (the 2 girls barking in each other's faces), it was no dice. So Pandy just amused herself- rolling, biting, romping, rollicking until her new Mommy came to pick her up (needless to say it was love at first sight).

We waved bye-bye to Pandy and things went back to normal...after a very long nap.