The Way We do a Hot Valentine’s Date

Very very romantic – that is how we do Valentine’s Day around our house.  From the early morning when we get up, to the minute we shut the lights off, it is all romance, all the time.  True love is like that.

We went about our regular days until about 4 PM when we noticed something strange going on with Lucy the superdog.  Apparently, she had decided to try ice fishing, because we found fishing line dangling from her mouth, and by “we” I mean Curly found it while I was lounging on my bed in fleece, hoping to grab a cat nap before my hot Valentine’s Date.  Ya know, I need more and more of that beauty sleep the older I get.  I have always been a fan of napping.  So anyways, I guess a good pet owner can’t ignore dangling fishing line, so I tried to get her to chill enough for me to tug on it.  She is a spaz.  And I have an injured wrist (more on that later) so it was a no go.  I locked her in her kennel, and did what every good wife does – called Bill.

Me, “Ah, Bill, I think maybe you have to come home.  NOW.  And take a look at your super dog.  Seems she wanted to end her week on a high note again.”

Bill, “Are you flipping kidding me?  Where did she get fishing line?”   No, wait, that is not what he said.  He did not ask that.  Because really, fishing line comes from one place in this house:  Crazy’s room.  He is the fishing line, duct tape, PVC pipe guy.  A man’s man.  I ran down there to see if I could find evidence and low and behold, I found NOTHING.  Not one piece of fishing stuff anywhere.

“Fine, after Xrays, we will be able to pin this one on Crazy,” We thought.

Curly and I busied ourselves folding 17 loads of laundry while we waited for Bill to get home.  We couldn’t think of what a swallowed fish hook might mean.  At 8 1/2 going on about 15, Lucy has run out of heroic efforts.  After the TPLO, we agreed we wouldn’t do anything like that again to her.  Lucy, on the other hand, was sawing logs, happy as can be to grab her cat nap.

Bill got home, and between the two of us, we were able to pin her down, open her mouth, and locate the issue.  Again, not true at all.  Labs are strong!!!!!!!!  So I made a call to the vet, Bill loaded her kennel in the Denali, and Lucy got herself a last minute drink, which must have helped her finish swallowing the whole fishing line, because it had disappeared.  We think she had planned this in advance, because 4:30 on a Friday????  Who does that?  She was so excited to go for a ride, stealing Bill away from our big hot date night plans.

So I went solo to our hot date – a swim meet.  And waited, literally shaking, for news.  They sedated her, they morphine her, they X-rayed her, the excreted her anal glands (can I get a “whoop!” from the stinky dog owners!) and they found…drum roll please…of course, nothing.  Well, nothing that showed up on X-ray.  So we wait to see if fishing line ruins her guts – watching for red eyes, unable to bathroom correctly (although really, dogs don’t “bathroom” so maybe backyard correctly is the better term.)  I guess the Pieper kids get to go follow her poop trail, watching for signs of badness or for fishing line.

They did find, in this X-raying that they did, that she has severe arthritis in her neck, so they asked if she had been chained up a lot or if she pulls when leashed, and we had to tell the truth – the truth is, she has hardly been leashed since the TPLO surgery because she spends most of her day propped on her bed with pillows and blankets and more of her nights on the queen bed with her main man, JP.  She also eats a lot of toast crusts, that is her job around here.   I guess that is why she had also gained a bunch of weight.  Don’t we all gain a little in the winter???

So she is eating 4 meals a day now, smaller amounts – trying to get back into bikini form.  Or, maybe it is because we have to take it easy on her digestive system, watching for the worst thing.

We are not ready to lose our dog, so this fishing line eating better just be another funny story – like the bread dough eating last month was.  Boy, for a dog who has severe arthritis and a fake knee, she still is pretty naughty.

So I sat alone at the swim meet, and Bill stayed home with a drugged dog, who pooped on the floor at the vet’s for the first time and was pretty proud of it.  Clarifying – Lucy pooped on the floor, not Bill – I know some of you will wonder.  And that is our romantic date story.  Brought to you by this dog, who seems to just be suffering from Afluenza today.

ImageIn all the craziness, I forgot to bring my camera.  I still don’t have pictures of JP’s first swim season.  Any kid who will parade around wearing pretty much nothing, trying a sport that he knows nothing about, just because of a deal he made with a buddy deserves to have pictures and maybe trophies.   I will write all about this some day soon, because I am so proud of him.  Doing what I could, I whipped out my cell phone to get a picture of him on the blocks (is that what they are called in swimming?) and instead, took this awesome Valentine’s date selfie:

ImageWhat was that???  Keeping it real, Pieper Style.  We have one more swim meet to get the perfect picture of him…I will do better next time.   Do you feel the romance around here?


Just Popping in to Say “Hi!”

I tell ya, to have the time to sit down and write about all the stuff that goes through my head.  You have no idea what you are missing.  Seriously. 

We have had some weeks that ran us ragged.  For real.  I have been SICK with no time to really do anything about it. 

JP is the cause of most of the crazy.  Not as in Crazy Man kind of crazy, just freshman in high school kind of crazy.

He achieved his Eagle Scout rank a week and a half ago.


Last week, he ran in two Cross Country meets.  Season is now over.  But he earned his first letter, we are told.  That is super cool.


He and Bill ran a half marathon today, and he kicked butt.


He is about to start behind the wheel and then take his Driver’s License test, and maybe that is why my stomach has been so bad.

We spent NDEA at the farm, which is where every under-the-weather me should be.  My mother-in-law takes care of me like she is a nurse or something and also takes care of all the kid stuff.  While she made and fed them cookie dough cheesecake, cheeseburgers, and waffles piled high with strawberries, chocolate chips and whipped cream, I ate Cream of Wheat, mashed potatoes, and plain noodles.


This was a “heck no” for me.  But I can drool.


Instead, I ate this.

I have mentioned my stomach issues before, yep, they are back in rare form.  I have consulted with a stomach guru, and will be eating only plain things, mostly in some sort of liquid form, until this stomach era comes to an end and once again, I can eat something with flavor.  I have been thinking of eating clean again, so game on.  Can you put bacon in a blender?

We had middle school parent-teacher conferences.  Seems Crazy Man likes to talk a lot.  But in a good way.  Seems Curly doesn’t.  And that is a concern.  Why?  Why does her quietness concern anyone – the fact that she is there, pulling great grades, and not freakin’ should be good enough.  Seems Princess finds school to be easy.  Good for her.  Life is great in 7th grade.  7th grade is awesomeness.  7th grade is all roses no thorns.  For this week anyway. 

Crazy Man made it into jazz band – pretty cool deal that will add Tuesday and Thursday early AM drop-off’s back into our schedule for the school year.  He does love his drumming, though, so it is a good thing and we (and by we, I mean Bill) will drop him off with a smile.

What else is new around here?  Oh, Lucy.  Yes, Lucy on steroids is a horrible monster.  She has been peeing on carpet, eating tons of human food that she steals (like entire loaves of bread) and at the farm, she decided to eat her entire container of glucosamine tablets.  About 50 of them down the hatch.   So guess what?  After a call to the vet, she also puked up about 50 of them thanks to the hydrogen peroxide treat we were told to give her.  YUMMY!! 

I think that is a quick wrap-up of life lately.  I have a couple awesome ideas for blog entries, the best of which is My Dog is a Democrat.  See if I get time to write that one, it might be a classic.  Or, it might just be an awesome exposition that only is reality in my mind.  Until then…

Update on Lucy, the superdog…super something anyway

I got this in an e-mail, I have seen it on discussion boards, I don’t know who to give credit to, it is not mine, but I love it:

Ok, I have been getting questions about how Lucy, the best dog in the world, is doing now that she is 2 1/2 months post TPLO surgery.  At times, she looks like she is about 12.  She gets up slowly, she moves slowly at first and takes extra time to stretch, and she lays back down a little gingerly.  And other times she looks about, well, like her freakishly puppy-like total spaz of a closing-in-on-six-years-old lab brain.  She doesn’t always get up to welcome people at the front door, she doesn’t always follow me to the bathroom, yet somehow, she did manage to leap onto Bill’s side of our bed once.  She jumped up there just to say, “Don’t count me out, I am getting back in this game!”  We laughed and gently picked her sorry butt up and put her back on the floor.  Silly doggie thinking she can jump.

She is enjoying her long walks around the hood – sniffing all the pee spots she missed this summer, catching up with her old friends.  She loves being back in the house, forcing us to drag her beloved cushy bed back and forth between the living room and our bedroom because she cant function without it.  A chair on its side keeps her from going up and down our stairs, so our bonus is an extra leg lift every time we do a load of laundry.  If she has to rebuild muscle mass, so do we.  She is learning to use her four legs all the time, and when she gets excited or wants to move quickly, she simply reverts back to being a tripod…I think she knows what I mean when I tell her to use all four!

She seems to have lost her ability to puke outside – we had her so well trained to get outside or at least onto hard floors until all this surgery recovery erased that training and replaced it with “puke wherever you want.”  Which also leads me to the problem of after not eating human food for so long, it seems her system can’t handle eating it anymore.  So the night I cooked a roast and gave her a very small piece…she regifted it to me.  Thanks for that.

So overall, we are starting to see the new grown up Lucy.  Somehow, she mellowed through this process.  Or maybe the 100% nutso dog will return when the leg is 100% as well.  I hope not, a dog I can walk is so much more fun than a dog who pulls me around the block.

She says, “Thanks for all the concern.”

2 weeks post TPLO

Lucy had her 2-week check-up today.  As always, the vet was fantastic.  Knowing that Lucy is 100% spastic lunatic, the vet came outside to our vehicle and watched her walk outside and did the exam right out there in the grass so Lucy didn’t have to step foot in the one place that sends her over the top – the vet’s office.  After all the mean things they have done to her there, you would think she wouldn’t want to go there EVER AGAIN.  We wondered if, when she saw the vet, she would make one of her famous get-aways.  Nope.  She wagged her tail and was all “WHOOOHOOO, someone who will pet me and love me and give me attention.  Me, the poor dog, who has been in a prison cell for 2 weeks, drugged into submission.  Me, the dog who hasn’t been able to scratch my itches and lick my, well, everything.  Me, Me Me, he is petting ME!!  He chose me!!” 

(Famous get-away story.  Lucy loves Pet Smart so much that one day, she bolted out of our vehicle before we could get a leash on her, and sprinted into the store.  They have automatic doors, you know.  Humbling to go on a dog hunt in Pet Smart.)

Today, she was thrilled to hear Dr. B tell us the joint and all it’s hardware feel perfect, as in, the one time I dropped her in the garage, everything stayed put. Ah, that was good to hear. She also was using the leg enough so he was satisfied at this point.  She has finished antibiotics and pain meds.  She was given more of the Sucralfate, which coats her stomach to protect it from ulcers. This med has been awesome because without it, the Rimadyl (which she is still taking) made her puke. The vet also gave us another 2 week supply of Acepromazine. This stuff has been the difference between a crying, panting, driving-everyone-nuts dog, and a silent, sleeping, recovering restfully dog. I asked for a year’s supply. Seriously, I did.  So one more week of the Rimadyl and then we are done with any meds unless we decide circumstances necessitate the sedative.  For example, the 4th of July.  Smile Or the next time we drive to the farm. 

Up until this point, maybe Lucy would toe touch here and there, and mostly, it seemed, when we had a perfect drug cocktail in her system and she couldn’t think things through enough to remember not to use it.  She certainly didn’t like being walked with that blue sling!  After all, a big thick bright blue thing around a girl’s belly does make her look a little chubby.  Who can blame her – she is smart and fashionable.    When she was clear to ditch the cone and sling for longer walks out to potty, she must have decided to go all out and look her best.  She walked on all four legs!!  After two weeks of doing the lab-style bunny hop, she walked herself (still on a leash in case a stud muffin lab walks by and she gets the wild idea to go sniff him down) to the potty fence!  It was like a happy family reunion. 

20110623_193805_0181  I believe here, she was saying, “AHHHHH, fresh back yard air, how I have missed you so much!!”

20110623_193845_0186  This is how her chicken skin leg is looking.  The fur is growing back!  You can barely see where her IV’s were in her front leg anymore.

20110623_193908_0187  This was the “Please don’t ever stop scratching that spot.  That stupid cone has made me so itchy for 2 weeks” pose.


My very first video upload!  I am that happy about this walking thing!!  Before we know it, she will be back on her bed in our room, sawing logs.  (Actually, that won’t be until she gets the ultimate clearance, and her first shot at that is August 8th.) 

So today was successful in many ways!  It has been a very long 2 weeks of recovery, but the worst seems to be behind us.  All this for a dog.  Our dog.

Pins, Plates, and Screws

I haven’t blogged an update about Lucy, the super lab, for a few days because I wasn’t with her so I had no update.  We were all booked for this weekend long before the center of all attention decided to blow her ligament, so with a bit of relief, Bill hauled her black butt back to the vet’s office.  Why the relief?  Someone else could take a turn dealing with her needs while we had a breather.  They had agreed to board her for a nice little fee of only $25 a night during these first few weeks of recovery.  This was perfect, because although we have friends who volunteered to watch her for us, the watching of her right now is so involved that we wouldn’t want to burden anyone other than a professional.  The vet tech who helped with her surgery took care of her all weekend, so she was in good hands, and we didn’t have to worry about losing a friend when we got home.  The $25 is great – her charge for her level 1 hospitalization was $43.50 per night. 

I want to share a few details of the surgery billing.  When I read the detailed list, it became very clear that I should have made a quick run to MAC’s hardware ahead of time to save a little money.  The fee for the actual surgery was $1500.  It is all the little things listed after that entertain my brain.  Lucy has a 3.5 mm thick large plate in her leg at a cost of $200.  She has 3 Cortical screws 3.5 X 22 mm at a cost of $39 each, (1) 3.5 X 34 mm screw at $13, and (2) 3.5 X 40 mm screws at $26 each.  Really?  I could have picked those up for just under a buck, I bet.   They also list 3 pins.  I don’t know what they are.  One of them is listed as I.M Pin T/C 1/8” X 9” for $15.90.  Hmmmmm…pins.

Her meds totaled about $150 once we add in the sedatives.  Not too bad for a whole bunch of health and happy in 5 bottles.

To X-ray her, we paid $112. 

Our most favorite charge is the $20 we paid them to express her anal glands while she was sedated.  Yep, the best $20 ever spent, can I get an AMEN???

After adding in all the items such as IV fluids, anesthesia, lidocaine, suture, syringes, etc., the total bill for the surgical part of this journey was $2525.56.  But that also included a cone, which we already owned, so take about $20 bucks off the total.  She goes in Thursday for her first official follow up to see if she is where they want her to be in the healing process and then if she is not, we talk about rehab. 

To me, that is a huge amount of money to spend on a dog, but at the same time, it is nothing compared to the quality of life she will experience when the healing is over.  If I sit and think about the amount, I sit waiting for a feeling of shock or guilt or even giddiness at the stupid thing we just did, but all I actually feel is the same thing I felt when I had JP laying on my lap after oral surgery, or Crazy Man sprawled out on the couch after his surgery.  A feeling of knowing we did the right thing.  It was something we needed to do as part of being a responsible pet owner.  I wonder how often this happens to a pet who’s owner cant come up with the money.  I wonder what the choice is in that situation.   

Acepromazine, please bring relief.

Do you count the surgery day as day 1 or do you wait till the first day after to start counting recovery?  I don’t know.  That is a very deep question.  If we count surgery day as day one, we are on day 7.  If not, day 6.  Adjust it however you would like.

Yesterday was a very trying day in the life of a Lucy owner.  She cried all morning.  I took her out 3 time for about 20 minutes total, which is way against the time rules but I doubt the vet is reading this.  (Dr. B, if you are reading this, please disregard the previous claim.) All she wanted to do is sniff around and pull me.  Lucy is not a mush dog.  I am not a dog sled.  And pulling is WAY up on there on the list of things she shouldn’t be doing.

I know she needed to do #2 and wouldn’t do it for me.  She is a one-man dog these days and I am not that man.  I called the vet.

Me:  HELP, I am going insane.

Tech:  How can I help?

Me:  First, you need to come here and take care of my dog.  I can’t do this.  What she needs is someone to sit with her all day, all night and pet her the whole time.    You may not have bathroom breaks, you may not sleep, you may not eat. 

Tech:  Let me stop you right there.  Lucy is a very strong dog.  Give her three Benadryl and call me back if that doesn’t work.

So I gave her the three pills in one of the magic Greenie Pill Pockets.  (Oh my goodness, these pill pouches are worth every bit of the $10 for 30 of them.  If you have a dog going through this, I recommend stocking up on these things.)  And I sat back and waited for her to loop out and go into some sort of mellow pot-smoking-like peaceful state of bliss.  Yeah right.  I could have fed her the whole box of Benadryl and she still would have been crying.  But then again, all her allergies would have cleared right up…


This morning, I called the vet’s office again.  I think they are getting sick of me calling.

Me:  Yeah, Benadryl is a joke.  Give me something better before I lose my flippin’ mind.  She won’t lay down and she gets herself so worked up she hyperventilates.  Or maybe that is me, I cant tell anymore.   And I love her and listening to her cry all day and all night pretty much busts my love apart.  (JPism)  And there is only so much of this I can take.

Tech (after consulting with vet):  Dr. B would like her to add Acepromazine to her medicine collection for the next two weeks.  We need her to relax.  (I am thinking, “You need her to relax?  I need her to relax!  And PS. Where is mine?”)

Me (running out the door):  YES!! YES!!  I AM ON MY WAY!!

Lucy is now drugged into a calm and happy existence.  I am thinking this could be magic.  And I think I might take a nap.

A Letter To My Dog

Dear Lucy,

Knock it off.  I know we just had your leg sawed in two and then pieced back together with a plate and six screws.  Dad has had both knees worked on and he didn’t whine this much.  He didn’t keep me up at night with his crying and whining.  He went to work the next day. Crutches and all.

I know you are on all kinds of meds, but I am actually jealous of that.  I could use a pain killer right now – you have no idea how bad my lower back aches today.  The anti-inflammatory meds would help with that too.  The stuff you take to prevent ulcers could make me able to drink more Coke, which due to my lack of sleep, thanks to you, would come in handy as well.   Enjoy the meds.  Sooner or later, you have to go all celebrity drug withdrawal on me and kick the habit.

Yes, you have to stay in your kennel in the garage away from the comfort of carpet, your new awesome bed, and at times when we forget to close our bedroom door, a nice queen size bed for you to lounge on.  Some labs spend every day of their lives in outdoor kennels braving the elements.  I have always said you are no Motel 6 dog, but come on, you have a bed in your kennel.  It isn’t so bad.

Sure, you walk around with one leg shaven.  That is better than me – I am expected to have two legs shaven and two armpits.  Get over it. 

The old cone on your head sucked, that I realize.  But I bought you a better one.  I hear it is all the rage in doggy rehab.  You can lay your head down now without banging into a wall of the kennel.  Try it.  SLEEP please.  I had to go to three stores to find it.  Take advantage of my love to shop, even for dog cones.

I am sorry you cant roll around in the grass, fetch a tennis ball, or jump up on the couch for family movie night.  These things will happen again if you just mellow today (and for the next oh,  six weeks) and let the bones fuse.  Really.  I am going to go insane if you cry all day.


The one who let you sleep on our bed on my pillow


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