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


And life goes on…

Some day my dog will love me again.  She will sleep in her big awesome new bed next to our bed and snore and chase bunnies in her sleep, all four feet going like crazy.  For now, she is still holed up in the garage – there is a benefit of this cooler weather we are having.  She did “let me” get pictures later in the day, only because I got the Holy Mama zoom lens out so she didn’t actually know.  We have no staples to be removed!  I just learned that today when I saw the incision for the first time.  However, as you can see in the last picture, she is pretty swollen and thus a wee bit uncomfortable.

20110612_104910_0108  20110612_105054_0114  20110612_104945_0112

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the natives have been busy.


Curly has taken couponing as her summer project.  She loves to file things away and make lists, so I am going to teach her how to find good deals.  She biked over to the gas station and bought her very first Sunday paper and then sat and read the comics.


Crazy Man has been busy crafting hockey man out of wire and aluminum foil.  This is in his free time, you know, when he is not out skating or biking all over town.  He and Bill have been Crazy Biking Boys.  He actually asked me tonight if he could drink a Mt. Dew.  Didn’t just drink it, he asked!!  WHOOHOO.  And I replied, “What are you, nuts?”


Yesterday, I picked JP up from NYLT camp.  He spent a week out in the middle of exactly where you picture buffalo to live – Nowhere, ND.  He learned how to stink and not shower.  And also how to chop wood ticks in half with a big knife.  He ate raw potatoes for dinner.  Mostly, it sounds like a week of torture.


Princess had her most favorite meal of all times.  Amish Chicken Noodle Soup.  It is basically chicken broth with little chunks of chicken and a whole bunch of noodles we bought at the Amish auction.  The girl loves that stuff.  Even though I put too much pepper in it.  Making their soup, cancelling cable -we are getting closer to being Amish ourselves.  We call ourselves Piepish.  It is a perfect mix of the two.

I am having a really hard time making food.  It isn’t that I cant, or that I don’t have groceries, it is that I don’t care.  So, I guess the kids are getting sick of PB&J and no longer ask, “Is this a just-fend-for-yourself kind of lunch again today” and they just get themselves something.  Survival of the fittest.   Starting tomorrow, I have suppers planned, but maybe not lunches.  That is just too much for me at this point.

Another Hurdle Accomplished

Lucy’s baby stepping through recovery has cleared another hurdle.  Dog lovers will understand.  People who have gone through major surgery will understand.  The pooping after surgery has been done.  YES!  Who knew we would be so thrilled.

Getting her to go potty is no minor undertaking.  She has the big cone of shame on and that has to be removed before she can get out of her kennel.  She is very patient through that process. 


Because, even after receiving her mechanical knee,  she pulls like Rudolf, we also have taken to putting her prong collar on to slow her down as much as we can.  I can just read her Labradorable brain:  “Whoa, so much to sniff out here, let’s see if we can make this last a little longer.  Over here, human, come over here.  And now over here.  Oh wait, over here.”   We also have to get that sling under her belly in case she slips while walking.  It also is a great tool in the fight to keep her from rolling around in the grass, which is something she really wants to do. 


Problem is, she is so well trained to poop WAY away from the house, generally in the back yard against a fence, that she just doesn’t want to do the deed in the front yard where everyone will see her.  Who can blame her?  So much for a quick 5 foot walk to grass.  She also will not go potty with the sling on, so it is just to help her get there and back.


She also has the great pooling of blood around her “ankle”.  It is to be expected and if she would let her ice it, we could maybe help her out a little, but she is not so much into that.  She often lays on the surgery side for some reason so it is out of reach.  Smile  Smarty pants.  For some reason, she doesn’t trust us to get all that close to that leg.  No, we can’t even get a good picture of it. 

The next hurdle is using that leg a little bit.  She has started toe touching once in a while, sorta.  If I research that part of recovery, it seems like some dogs are using it within a day or two and some take longer.  Of course Lucy would be in the camp that takes longer.  But her tear was complete and her angle was severe so maybe those things are factors.  Who knows – I wish I could ask her why she isn’t trying out her new expensive hardware.  WOOF!

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