Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pain, pain go away

As has become our norm, Bugsy and I got our day started at 5-something A.M.
Today however started with a twist, he was doing his morning roll and suddenly I heard the *ghack*
Dang, he had thrown up a blob of food. We are super fortunate that he so rarely pukes it IS an event when he does.
And my poor sweet boy looks so upset and worried he's done something horrible.
No worries my baby boy, I love you even when you puke. Now let me finish dry heaving.

He hurried outside and did whatever he needed to do and then he wanted to cuddle. Aw he must not feel well as he doesn't ask for cuddling. I presumed he had a bit too much to eat yesterday.

I gyped him on his breakfast and he slept near my side as I worked most of the morning. Then he decided we should walk - and I sure did need it.
He trotted along and then about a mile out, he turned and looked at me and I saw that he wasn't bearing much weight on the bad left front leg when we stopped. I asked him if he wanted to go home and he turned toward home and was back to trotting.
If you didn't know that he had a bad leg (well a leg that is worse than his other bad legs), you wouldn't know it as he trots along. It is quite amazing really.
But every time he slowed or stopped I could see he was really avoiding using that leg.
Talk about a pit in my stomach.
My guess is his early morning upchuck was due to pain.
He'd had a fun day yesterday, running and romping through fields, doing his disappearing act long enough to scare me to death, only to emerge happier than one can imagine.

Later in the day he was beyond excitement when I went for a walk so I allowed him to come. He wasn't limping too badly so I thought how can it harm him.

We only got to to the top of the road when we saw a neighbor's pack out playing, Bugsy never seems to want to play with their two but they have a guest dog at the moment and it was clear from their first look that she and Bugsy were fast friends.
He played and played with her and then he just wanted to hang out there after it was clear his leg was giving up on him.
All four humans felt so sad to see him, so happy and yet so frustrated.
So strong and magnificent looking yet lame.

So today he had rimadyl and rest. I was happy to have a buddy at my side most of the day and we had a silly play session this afternoon. I must have lifted his good front leg 10x and the look in his eyes was, "please mom don't make me use this one"

He's resting now in his crate while I feel broken-hearted. I was so sure we were making progress, real progress. I have accepted that his limp and handicap is forever. But damn I hate seeing this level of pain.
I wonder if he's reinjured something or it was just too much.
Or since we can't swim maybe we are doing much walking.
Tonight I watched him run and his left (unrepaired) knee seemed gimpy.
Has that knee gone and causing him to overuse the front bad leg?
And yes I let him out to do his business and he decided to run zoomies.

To those of you who don't know him you must think, wow that dog is seriously screwed up. But he isn't, he is one of the happiest beings on earth.
Me however, I feel dark and sad and lost.
It seems so unfair that his body has failed him so.
I would give damn near anything to see him run again like he used to, he was so fast and so agile and pain-free.
What I wouldn't give to see him pain-free again.
Today I realize it will never be.
I will rest him for a few days, give rimadyl, and manage the insanity that will emerge because he is being 'rested'.
I don't really know what else I can do.
I'll watch him like a hawk and take him in for xrays if things don't improve.

I have a super busy month at work ahead. Today as we laughed and played with a silly toy I thought of how much I miss him and will miss him as I toil away.
Say a few prayers for my best buddy that he isn't heading into another ortho surgery. Not sure if I can handle it

Friday, December 6, 2013

Geese, geese, geese. He's got a one track mind.

What happened this morning at the lake is totally payback for my saying earlier this week that Bugsy's goose chasing was in control.
I fully accept my roll in the following.

It is an unseasonably warm day here today - 79* at 1:30pm.
And I have the fortune of working from home so I decided to take Bugsy to the lake for a short swim.
I was on a tight time schedule because I had a must-attend meeting this morning. So I hurried outside and prepped my car for carrying the boat, loaded up all our things, loaded him, the boat and off we went.
As soon as I pulled up to where I drop off the boat I noticed three of his 'favorite' geese on an adjacent boat slip. Well truth be told, I noticed them because he was completely freaking out in the car. It had been a while since he had been to the lake so initially I thought it was due to that, but then I saw them.
Oh my.
He was yipping, screaming and high pitched barking as I unloaded the boat and our things.
I moved the car over to a parking spot and considered what to do.
I had been able to shoo them away but he was completely freaking out so I was worried about keeping him under control once I let him out of the car.
Sigh. I really don't have a lot of time this morning............
I let him out and gave him stern commands to stay.
He didn't want to listen but he did.

With one hand on the remote for his e-collar and one hand on the handle of his lifevest I guided him to the boat.
His nose was in the air and sniffing ferociously.
If you think you can't sniff ferociously let me tell you, HE can!
His eyes were scouring the area for his favorite feathered friends.
I was fairly sure they had left the area, but lo and behold they hadn't.
They were tucked under the rental boats and about 6 ft from us.
*pardon me*  
The Beast actually listened to me for a good 30-45 seconds and stayed perfectly still.
OK yea fine he wasn't listening to me he was locked on to them.

Anyway y'all know what happened next.
I couldn't figure out how we could get into the water without him chasing them but good golly I didn't think he'd chase them like this!

He flew after them and darn near caught one of them. The more they fluttered and panicked, the more intent he got.
He was yipping, barking, tail straight up as he swam faster than Michael Phelps after them.
Oh boy, this isn't looking good.

I paddled as fast as I could to catch up to him.
I blew the whistle that means STOP,
Not even a glance.

I gave the warning signal for his collar,
Not a thing.

I gave a zap for the collar.

Oh dear. He is now about halfway across the lake and swimming hard.
Watching him, I can see he is confused a bit as there are swarms of sea gulls flying randomly and they are clearly distracting him from the pursuit of his evil geese but not enough for him to stop swimming as if he was in a race.
The water is VERY cold. I start to worry about that and I also take a glance at the time and UGH I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!

So I do what I deem to be my last ditch attempt at rerouting him. I paddle up next to him and block his ability to keep going in the direction of the geese.
Now I have to laugh a bit because he is doing all he can to swim through the kayak and definitely giving me a look to kill.
Sorry Bugs but you will not keep swimming to the other side of the lake!

He is thumping the boat, I am trying to steer him via the handle on his life vest but I have to keep paddling to keep my position.

So here we are in the middle of the lake, super windy, birds flying all over - each one potential prey - and my dog & I, well my kayak, having a brawl.
Oh Bugs.
I have to say that his next move was pretty darn impressive. I was actually making progress in pushing him back towards land when all of a sudden he dipped his head and went under the boat to the other side.


If only all of us had his intensity and single minded pursuit of success. LOL

Happily in the end I was able to push him off to the side where he came out of the water for bit to warm up and to hunt.
I mean what else would one do at the lake???

There were a few concerning moments on our way back to our launching spot and I did take a detour and abort our normal route when I saw his 'buddies' sitting on the boat slip they had been on earlier.

Oh and I made it home 10 minutes before my meeting was to start.

One of these days - he'll get ya!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Good times, and then work.

Bugsy & I just enjoyed a fabulous 4 days. The weather was cold & sunny, our favorite, and we took full advantage of the luxury of time.
I am beyond happy to report that he did the two longest walks he's done since July 2012. Yes 2012.
One of which included a play with a good buddy off leash and the other he had a wonderful hunt, killing three moles and treeing a critter.
In neither case did he wind up very compromised. He was gimpy for a while after the second walk but was ok in a few hours.
I was amazed.
I didn't believe he'd make it this far back.
He looked slightly gimpy this morning but it was subtle.
I am relieved & thrilled.
Sadly I headed back to work this morning,with a suitcase, and the poor boy was gutted. 
He literally was whimpering as I got ready to leave.
Back as soon as I can buddy, be good.
Trust me, we have good times ahead

Monday, November 25, 2013

Really, I have no interest in owning a nervous, possessive, reactive dog.

A while back I wrote a post in response to a series of blog posts that disparaged 'friendly' dogs (targeting labs) and exclaimed how wonderful herding breeds were with their reactive, guardy, and unsocial manners.
I didn't publish it until just now.
This morning Bugsy & I were on a happy, frigid jaunt. We came upon one of the neighborhood's more clueless owners and her ginormous GSD. This dog is an intact, older male and right from the first time he saw Bugsy he wanted to dominate him. He at one point decided to attempt to wrap his jaws around B's neck. I was able to interrupt him and spoke to the owner. She told me that is how he says hello. Um sure.
Fast forward to today. As soon as this dog sees B, he starts a nervous stare and tongue flicks. B sends out plenty of appeasement signals but the GSD gets more an more intense. By the time we were 10 ft away, B's hackles were up from stress I presume as he was still bouncing along trying to say " hey, lovely morning" 
The owner said, "stop and say hi" um no thanks as the GSD looked that at any moment he'd snap.
B was extremely pleased to walk right by them and was immediately back to bouncing along enjoying the lovely morning (as I shivered).
Another 3/4 of a mile away we are just doing our thing, walking, him scenting and his body language displaying his happiness with each step.
Suddenly an overweight border collie comes tearing at us, teeth bared, viciously barking & snapping. It was in it's yard (new owners) and we were at the street side so about 15 ft away. I jumped out of my skin. B just started whining as if he wanted to say hi and properly meet this new member of the 'hood's pack. It always makes me sad as I swear it is as if he can't comprehend a dog who isn't social & happy.
Once again I kept him moving by and he swiftly went back to his jaunty hunt.

So yea. Keep your herding breeds. I will never want an unsocial, possessive, reactive dog who in behaving as such is being true to their breed.
I understand not all herding breed individual dogs are this way but by and large it seems hard to meet one who doesn't fit this image. And yes labs can be this way but it isn't common.
Bugsy is not perfect, FAR from it. 
But he's happy. Non-territorial, non-guardy, and playful. He thinks other dogs are great and if they turn out to not be great he's happy to move on.
Works out great for me. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Training failure #1

Ok he's over 8 years old.
He has had three joint repair surgeries.
Has bad allergies.
Has had other surgeries, serious wounds, and injuries.

We tried food, halters, harnesses, various collars, clickers, and umpteen training techniques. 

We have never gotten to a point in which he obediently and contentedly walks at a casual pace.

I give.
He wins.
We go fast.

Pick your battles. I am ok losing this one.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What a great dog

Ah I know you are all tired of these posts, but I can't help it.
We are at the beach, Bugsy & I went straight to the sand after arriving and he was immediately charged by two male intact labs. They were off leash, he was on. What did he do? 
He stood there.
Basically his body language was 'so what'
I released him from the leash and he gave them a sniff and took off running in joy.

This morning a boxer that was on the adjacent balcony went after him very aggressively (wood bars between them) he just stood there, with a "dude you have issues" look. The boxer was carted away by its owner, Bugsy however went right back to the bars, tail wagging.

He made friends with an Aussie/chow mix that was fearful of large dogs.
And a teeny little guy that was all teeth when they met.
Then there the two JRT's he found irresistible, despite one of them being obsessed with humping his leg.

He thought the cleaning lady was the most fun human on earth and brought her various items.

And the baby wire-haired dachshund was clearly in need of a large leader/protector.

The Beast isn't easy on my shoulders but otherwise is a pleasure to travel with, the only noise he makes is crying to see other dogs or people.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

good news, bad news - an evaluation at the rehab vet

I finally was able to do something I wanted to do for ages, I took Bugsy in to a rehab vet for a FULL evaluation.
I can't lie, I didn't want to leave him there, we haven't always had good experiences but I promised myself and him that I would do ALL that I can to help him enjoy life the way HE enjoys life.
So after a day of worry and curiosity, I got the news.

Lets just say the consult started like this; "after all he's been through he is in amazing shape"
Its not that I didn't know, it just still breaks my heart. My poor boy has had more than his fair share of pain and problems. He doesn't know any different and likely has been in pain for most of his life.
Kind of hit me in the solar plexus. He does such a great job of being happy, ridiculously happy, it's hard to remember that his body has never held up to his spirit.
So anyway.
He was fabulous to work with apparently - one of the easiest and most fun to work with, to be exact.
If there is one constant with my boy it's 'fun'.
My favorite story she (Dr Jordan) told me was that she was doing strength testing with him and she had done three limbs, he then offered the fourth to her. Yup that's my boy, "oh I like this game, here you go"
She said she has been a vet for 25 yrs and a rehab vet for over 12 and has never had a dog offer the one limb that hadn't been checked. She said, "he's a special guy" Um I know, that's why I am here.

So in the end what is the bottom line? Well he won't be climbing mountains again.
Pretty much we are doing all we can - the swimming is great, keep walking him. We'll add a few exercises and likely if I can swing it, we'll do Adequan.
His hind legs have limited range of motion, due to years of living with crappy knees (although she was amazed that his TPLO knee was no worse than his healthy knee (which she said was still healthy)
In case you are wondering, it's all about the angles!
His right (non-repaired) elbow likely has significant osteoarthritis.
His spine is fabulous
His gait, pretty darn good (on a scale of 0-2 it was less than 1)
His lameness score was less than 1.5 on a scale of 3
His personality off the scale :)

So his body, has had a hard life and he is doing WAY better than he should be doing. It was nice to hear that all the effort I have put in is doing him good. So I guess I'll keep feeding the world's most expensive dog food and waking up at 4:45 to get his walks in.
I will confess that my heart broke when she said he cannot do serious trail hikes again. I felt sad when after knee repair they said no more bike runs. It seems unfair for such a happy, high energy dog.
However, my sadness is put into perspective because a very good friend's 6 yr old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last night.

I suppose each of us get the hand of cards we get. Dog, child or adult.
As a human, I suppose we don't get to know why we/they get the cards we do.
However, tonight, I am sad.
Sad for the 6 yr old and my friend and sad for Bugsy.
You know, I know that both of them are AOK with the hand they have been dealt.
And likely thankful for the life and family they have.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How time changes things

I used to hear some very good friends talk about how they loved their 'old' dogs. I would acknowledge their heart and then say I loved crazy young'uns. And I do. 
However, I have  to tell you that the mature Bugsy is an AMAZING dog. He is still oodles of fun but he is so much more manageable. 
For instance, now at the lake he chases some birds but he gives up as opposed to the old days when he would damn near kill himself in the process of trying to catch them. I can let him chase knowing he won't drown or disappear. This is a good thing.
He is so settled AND reliant on his routine. He knows the way things happen and he works it, lol.
Perhaps the biggest thing, and specific to Bugsy, is that he allows you to love him. It's taken 8 yrs but I  can pet him on his bed without him getting up and leaving. 
There is a warmth and contendedness that was not present.
Our struggles are minimal, our pleasure is high. The bond is rewarding.
So if you have a young dog that is trying your patience, keep at it. In time you will reap the highest of rewards. I truly can't express how deep the connection is now with Bugsy, I can only share with you that what I experience now is worth everything I have had to put in.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Remarkable joy

Its been a rough 6 weeks around here. I picked up a contract and am working @ 60 hrs a week, traveling some, and awake at 5 most days.
Bugsy isn't too happy about this development but we've been making the best of it.

It is beyond remarkable how happy he is to awake at 5 and be out walking down the road in the pitch black soon after.
He's bouncing and excited and RARING to go. We fly down the road, me struggling to stay upright while he trots and hunts as happy as can be.
Our walks are brief but he doesn't care - he's happy.
He does become morose when I switch the shower on, but he somehow makes it through the day without me LOL
Then the larger than life greeting when I get home. He's bouncing again and tossing toys around and trying to steal something from my work bag to instigate a chase.
He asks outside and ZOOMS around trees and bushes, dodging and darting.
Then he settles in the area near the patio, where we got into the habit of providing him with an huge ice cube that has some cheese or meat in it. He will sit there patiently, no noise, no movement just waiting with a look of hope. "I know they will bring it to me soon!"
Having finished his ice cube treat he was back in again.  This time I told him to go chew his new bone, and off he shuffled to find this horn thing I bought over the weekend. Once found, the chewing began and the next time I looked over he was on his back, holding the chew with his front paws, tail thumping the ground.
Completely and utterly joyous.
After eating my dinner I needed to walk down the road to deliver something to a neighbor.
I asked him if he wanted to go for a walk, he pretty much reacts with more excitement than I would if I won Powerball.

I am just - especially considering my flagging energy - completely stunned at his energy and JOY!
Once again he's bouncing down the road, jaunty with that silly gait caused from his surgeries; he sees some dog buddies and off he goes me in tow!
Isn't the world marvelous?

Joy. The unbridled, carefree, tint-free, cartoon-esque, innocent happiness that only children know and sometimes I think these days we've intruded on their experience of this perfect joy.
I am thankful to have such a wonderfully happy boy in my life and also happy that I can stop everything else in my life - even if only for a few moments - to enjoy his joy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

zen moments with a hyper dog

Yesterday Steve & I headed to a 'beer' place that is fun to hangout at. It isn't a food establishment so dogs are allowed inside and we usually see at least one in there.
I have visions of Bugsy in a tiny shop with narrow aisles stacked with glass bottles.
OK no I don't - I have visions of smashed bottles and him licking up beer.

Yesterday and older gentleman with a smallish old dog came wandering out of the shop. The dog was unleashed but never more than a few feet from the owner, who kindly waited while holding the door for the old dog to wander out of the shop
The dog slowly followed the gentleman and then laid down next to him when he sat at a table outside near where we were sat.
I sighed and thought how I wish that Bugsy could enjoy downtown excursions in such a calm, peaceful manner.
I know he won't but I can dream.

Fast forward to this morning.
I took him for his weekly swim and I realized that when we are out on the lake, we are the dog and human others admire. Bugsy has gotten so well-behaved down there and now swims so far, we regularly have people in an assortment of boats that comment and wave and want to say hi to the dog.
This morning it was young people from a local university sailing team that were thrilled to see the happy dog swimming along.
I get such a kick out of him swimming, its usually (all but bird chases) very peaceful and calm. He's holding his beloved toy, looking around and he has this rhythmic and smooth stroke now.
I often just smile watching his legs going in constant motion, chugging along, never seemingly out of breath. And calm.
Bugsy and calm don't often coincide.

Don't get me wrong, he isn't that calm slow-moving elderly dog, never a few feet from his owner - at least once a swim session I have to grab his drag line and pull him in the direction of my choosing. And he is so comfortable now he feels no need to be at my side. But he is by-and-large 'off-leash' and exploring the world as he wishes.
He can't swim faster than I can paddle so he can't disappear, therefore he has freedoms he will never have on land.

Anyway, I get joy from thinking that people look out at us and admire our bond. And I love when people want to boat over and say hi. Fortunately Bugsy isn't spookable on water - today he nearly got run over by a novice on a small sailboat. All he did was look at them like Whoa! and then wiggled and waggled as they started talking to him.

All a good reminder that as I looked at that dog yesterday and wished I had a dog that could be so calm and docile that others may look at my dog and think it would be cool to have a dog swimming next to their kayak.
Like us, they each have their own unique personalities and its our job to love them for who they are

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday Bugsy

About 7 years ago I decided that we needed to choose a specific date to celebrate Bugsy's birthday, like shelter dogs everywhere, no one knows when he was born, or to who.  So I thought about it and decided to choose September 1st. September 1st was the birthdate of a colleague of mine's mother. She lived to 101 and was one of the most vibrant, tolerant, energetic, and positive thinking folks I have ever known. It was in the right time frame, so September 1st it is.
Sifting through my emails reminding me to get my senior pet checked, I shake my head and my heart says no!
My happy, crazy, overgrown idiot surely can't be a senior!
Science, however, disagrees. Recently I read a way to calculate his age based on his size and likely breed mix and he's 80+ in human years. I don't actually think Bugsy is going to emotionally age past 25 or so, meaning his older years are bound to be interesting.
He's had knee, elbow and shoulder repair. Cancer scares, horrific allergies and myriad other issues, none of which have changed his joie de vivre. 
This morning he looked right at me, grabbed a clump of dried grass that had fallen off the mower and taunted me, hoping I would chase him.
I just said "drop it" and boom! He was zooming, dodging and charging me, flying over shrubs, figure 8's around trees and playing hide and seek behind the cars.
I recall the days in which I was soooo frustrated when he would do this, now I laugh and smile and am ever so thankful that he can still run like this after what he's been through.
Back when he was barely out of puppyhood I started talking about The Daily Zoomie, here we are age 8 and he's still zooming.
From those early days of hardship in managing him; his energy and drive and intellect, to now when we expect it and appreciate it, and know I wouldn't want a dog without those qualities. 
Countless adventures, I bear physical scars from some, and joyous experiences, he is such a part of OUR lives I try not to think of when he won't be.
So happy birthday Bugsy, thank you for every laugh and every heart attack. 
Thanks for being so damn funny, and so kind (to people and dogs).
Thanks for loving me as much as I love you.
Thanks for teaching me to enjoy every walk, swim, car ride, yard wander, OK everything.
Thanks for showing me true focus and reminding me to live in the moment.
Thanks for being such a willing learner and being tolerant of my mistakes as a trainer.
Mostly, I hope we have plenty of GOOD years left, I selected this day as an omen for a long fun life for you.
You deserve only good times ahead! 
Love you bud!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My dog IS friendly

And I think that is a good thing.
Lately there have been several blog posts circulating, written by herding breed owners/enthusiasts, stating that sociable dogs are the scourge of the dog world. Of course what they really describe are obnoxious dogs - interestingly labs are singled out in all the posts as being the worst offenders. 
I think the part that really irritates me is that the stand-offish, resource guarding,reactive herding breeds supposedly demonstrate the ideal behavior. 
When describing the behavior of the 'ignorant' and 'foolish' Labradors they say it's like the person that's too in your face.  Hmm bring on the goofy sporting breeds please. 
Using the analogy with humans, I guess that makes the herding breeds the uppity, stand-offish bitch that looks down on everyone and flies into a rage when approached by the presumed lower classes.
Knew her in high school, and no thanks, not interesting in a dog like that.
I am ever so happy with my friendly dog. 
He doesn't hump other dogs or jump on them, he doesn't bark in their face, or bare teeth to try to claim the stick, ball, human or other item.
He will politely greet small, medium & large dogs. He loves puppies and knows to be careful with older dogs too.
He'll ignore the nasty behaviors and ask me to move on by turning away from the nasty herding breeds, or the small dogs with the Napoleon complex. He will ignore the idiot trying to hump him.
He will be non-plussed when your wonderful herding breed attempts to take a chunk out of his neck after the owner asks if he wants to play frisbee and he dares to join in.
Please give me a sea of wagging tails/nubs any day! 
Keep your paranoid, edgy, unsocial dog.
I love that my dog truly is friendly. 
And I don't mean obnoxious.
He's sociable and happy.
No matter how poorly behaved your dog is, he's not going to retaliate. 
I have no idea why the new rules for canines are that they shouldn't be approached by other canines and its reasonable to be reactive and guardy.
I suppose it's a reflection of a wave of paranoia and distrust in society. Where no one should politely say hi as you pass. 
For the record, some dogs will always be 'nervy' and unsocial and others obnoxiously boisterous - for those dogs a behaviorist or professional  is recommended.  
But let's keep some perspective here, a friendly, well-socialized dog is a very good thing.
Stand-offish, reactive and resource guarding are negative traits and behaviors, certainly not what should be held up as correct.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

His world has been turned inside out, topsy-turvey or whatever term you like

Yesterday I started a new position. It is a long way from home and the days are long.
The days are about to get longer and there won't be days where I am fully 'off' for quite some time.

I am not sure what vibes I sent out but somehow Bugsy was aware that things were about to change and radically so.

I tried to tell myself I was imagining it.

Then my husband told me that all of yesterday (my first day), Bugsy stayed under the dining room table and ran to grab a toy (never greet your human without a gift) if he *thought* he heard something.
Then when I came home, oh my.
He was out with Steve in the yard and when he saw me turn towards the drive he came galloping across the lawn.
It was like a sappy Hallmark movie where the star crossed lovers finally meet.

He was soooooooooooooo happy. Ridiculously happy. As if I had left him for months happy.

I was overwhelmed with emotion. I figured he would be happy to see me, but not THIS happy.

Whew. I had taken him for a pre-work walk and I also took him for a post-walk work. That seemed to settle him.

Day two

I woke up a bit before 5 and he rolled over on his bed asking for a belly rub. I obliged.
Then I put on walking clothing and headed downstairs to put some coffee on. I looked and saw he was at the back door with his tail wagging, "ready Ma!"
That's my morning dog for you - one day and he says the new routine rocks!

Then in a blur of motion I left. Steve was teaching today too so he left the same time.

Steve said when he got home. Bugsy didn't even get up. Nary a tail wag. And wasn't going out for nothing.
Eventually he got up and Steve fed him.

Then once again my boys were in the yard when I pulled up.
Oh Bugsy, everyone should just once feel so loved as you display for me.

After being wrangled and held by Steve, he charged towards me. Immediately bursting into zoomies which led to keep away with some cardboard.
We eventually made it inside and his little heart was bursting with joy.
Again I felt happy to see how happy he was to see ME but also felt badly.
Poor guy.
One can't explain to them, so I am doing what I can to keep our bond but change our outings and adventures as I can to fit them in.
He was ever so hopeful I'd take him on another walk tonight. I didn't.
I did try to do some of our wobble board work and let's just say that he took overexcited to a new level so we had to end that immediately while we both had all our limbs and digits intact.

I know he'll adjust and be calmer about my arrivals.
Part of me loves the outpouring but a larger and more responsible part of me hates to see him be so worked up.
My days are about to get longer and I wonder how long I'll be able to be out walking him at 5am and still working at 9pm.
I will guarantee you, that I have promised him I will do it for as long as I can and every day possible.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, its a bond that is forged through effort and commitment.

I promise you Bugsy, for as long as you live or I live, I will do all that I can. Promise.
And I am not known for breaking promises.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Maestro of Mischief

Why he wears the moniker Maestro of mischief.
He was out in the yard this morning, looking for creatures.
I watched him through the window for a while, then decided to get a fresh cup of coffee.
When I looked back out, no Bugsy.
I wandered around looking through different windows, no Bugsy.
Hmm. Ah well, he'll turn up.
He did, with an empty pasta box in his mouth, that he got from the garage where I had the doors opened about a foot to let some air in.
So my 29" at the shoulders dog slinked under the garage door that was open a foot, found the recycling pile, selected just the right box, crawled back under the garage door, came charging onto the deck and through the dog door with the box in his mouth, staring into our sunroom with trouble in his eyes and tail wagging furiously.
"let me in"
"No, drop the box"
wiggle wiggle waggle
paws the door
So dumb me opens the door and tries to take the box from his mouth.
Whoosh! he's past me.
"Bugsy give me the box"
wiggle wiggle waggle with a look that said "chase me, Mom!!"
"I am not going to chase you, let's trade"
His furry brow furrowed.
"Nope not giving you the box until the treat goes in the ball."
"Really dog???"
So off I went to collect his orbee ball and find a treat to put in it.
Once the ball was loaded to his satisfaction, he traded the box for the ball.
All was good for at least 2 minutes.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

how deep is the bond?

Bugsy is not an affectionate dog.
Well he loves you and will show you that he loves you but he isn't the dog that is going to snuggle up with you or allow you to pet him.
I accept this about him and am happy when he chooses to lie down within 5 feet of me.

However, I have seen our bond deepen, day by day, event by event and outing by outing.
Oh, and injury by injury.
Sadly, we have spent a lot of time rehabbing. Bugsy doesn't seem to mind but its been hard on me.
I have been able to see though that my involvement in rehabbing - which has been solely my involvement - has deepened our bond.
Training classes, field work, and all 'silly' training have deepened that bond too.
By silly training, I mean the little bits of clicker training we do just to use his brain for a bit or the little games we play also to use some energy.
Our lake trips and downtown trips and car trips all include some type of communication that is training based. And each one adds to our bond.
I marvel sometimes now at our communication. I smiled earlier as he was standing on the deck looking into the kitchen and all I had to do was give him a look and he came in.
That is a bond.
Too often I find that people have expectations that dogs fully understand human communication and ways, some do, but only when effort by the human has led to the depth of bond for the dog to know what is desired.
Each of us, as a dog owner is responsible for creating a communication system with our dog(s). They excel at interpreting our communication but only when we are consistent and work WITH them.

Some times I am sad that Bugsy is going to be 8, at his size he's been a senior since he was 5, but in other ways I understand why the love for an older dog is deeper than when they are young.
I miss the youthful nuttiness, don't get me wrong, but there is something powerful about looking into your dogs eyes and seeing the bond, that is born of time.
I suppose that some people experience this when their dogs are young, I didn't. So I equate this incredibly deep bond with his age and the time and energy spent in teaching him what I want and helping him to recover from orthopedic surgeries.
I pray that you don't need to rehab your dog, but if you do, I assure you that the time and emotional energy you put into their rehab isn't lost on them.
They know.
And they are thankful

Thursday, July 4, 2013

You can never question his enthusiasm

Bugsy is prone to getting excited.
This is a huge understatement.

He absolutely loves 'learning', grab a clicker and watch him spin.

I have recently built a wobble board for him. This is basically an unstable board that he needs to balance his weight on. I am using it as part of his rehab from shoulder & elbow surgery.

He, as always, boldly goes on it and waits for his click/treat after which he launches off it at all sorts of crazy angles, risking life and limb to get off it.
A bit of an overreaction but hey that's how he rolls.

Last night I decided it was time to increase the challenge and affixed a small bowl under the board.
I used glue to do it, to help it set,  I put a large book and a 5 lb dumbbell on top of the book.

So this morning he followed me up to where it was and proceeded to stand on the board, pick up the dumbbell and toss it to the side, paw at the book to knock it off and look at me for a click/treat.
This occurred in, I don't know, 10 seconds or less?

I struggled to get him OFF the upside down board but eventually  I succeeded.
While I was turning the 4 foot by 4 foot board, he was attempting to stand on it.
Up until then, I kind of thought he had two brain cells that connected. LOL

OK finally I got the board in position and he jumped on it, the surprised look on his face as it wobbled was awesome. But he steadied and waited for his treat before making another high risk exit.

Why oh why can he not go SLOW?

Anyway try as I might to not laugh, it was hysterical.
I bet we worked with it for less than two minutes then I had to stop due to his high risk board exits getting faster and riskier.
He looked like I was running video on fast forward.

I honestly have no capacity to slow him down - he walks fast, goes up and down stairs fast, eats fast, tries to 'work' fast, and goes to sleep fast.
He just has the one gear and OFF.

When I picked the board up, the bowl was no longer attached and had broken.
Ah well, we'll try again another day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Today was the day I was hoping would happen :)

Hey its been a long time since Bugsy was well Bugsy.
I've been noticing the glint in his eye was getting sparklier and sparklier, and today was the day.

Those who know him know his prey drive - for large birds in particular - is rather high, *cough, cough*.  We have had many adventurous trips to the local lake due to this special drive of his.
However, starting all the way back in September when we first started rehabbing his shoulder (prior to surgery), he's been remarkably easy to handle at the lake. He was pretty much like a normal dog LOL

Today though was the day.
I knew he was full of the devil and that his battery was fully charged early this morning.
I could tell when we arrived at the lake that his whining and spinning in the car was exceptional, I was going to have to be on the ball.

We followed our routine with me setting up the boat, parking, taking him out and suiting him up (Ruffwear PFD, floating drag line with climbing strength carabiner, and e-collar) and sending him to the boat with me in tow.
He bolted to the water today and was bouncing and bouncing waiting for me to throw his toy. I heaved it as far as I could and zoom off he went.
For the first time, he had reached the toy before I even was fully launched into the water.
He swam a LONG way and then I steered him towards our little dock we use as a pitstop.
On the end of our little dock was a cormorant drying its wings.

He caught wind of it and made a beeline for it! It flew off a little too close for comfort.
If you've seen a cormorant 'take off' you know they are lousy flyers and their wings slap the water over and over before they are fully airborne.
Feathered wings slapping water are very exciting if you are a dog who loves large water fowl.

Happily after a short consideration he decided to come to me instead of chasing the bird.

In what is totally new, he belly flopped off the dock a few times. He would likely say he dock dived and for him it is huge. I am hoping he continues to improve his form LOL
I think you'll agree that belly flop is a more accurate term

So after a few of those it was time to go for another long swim back to our landing area.

This is where the fun begins, thanks for sticking with me here.
He set out as per normal and then he clearly got scent of the cormorant again.
This time it had perched to dry its wings on one of the "no wake zone" markers.
These are a good way out in the lake.
So now he's swimming at a good clip, retriever dummy in his mouth, nose high and working.
"where is that damn bird!"
I assure you that is what he was thinking

I allowed him to wander, at times he lost the scent and circled but he'd pick it up again.
Meanwhile I followed behind and tried to shoo the cormorant, who at the least was smart enough to draw in its wings and be very still.

Bugsy closed in on it and when he got pretty darn close it finally took off.
So did Bugsy.
He picked up speed, was high yipping and whining as the bird slapped the water and flew off.
OK now he's really out in the lake, this is a BIG lake.
He's blowing me off  (still carrying his toy though) and going in the direction of the bird. Sigh.


I finally sidled up next to him - despite him trying to pull away from me - at one point I was holding him with the oar LOL (So glad he isn't very spookable) - and was able to grab hold of his line and attempt to turn him around.

Note to self. Bugsy is now a strong swimmer, wearing a good PFD, I am in a unanchored boat that only moves when I paddle. This was a fail.

Ah well - in the end I was able to convince him the bird was on the shoreline and he swam back to where we needed to go.
Here's a little bit of video I captured before having to make catching him my main concern

Its been a long time since Bugsy was Bugsy. I know I shouldn't be wearing a smile as I recount this episode but I am.
I realize that subsequent lake trips have just become more work for me, but I'm wonderfully happy about that (now anyway).

So welcome back Bugsy! I've missed you <3 p="">
PS that swim from 'our' dock to the shore line was 25 minutes or so of intense cormorant chasing, direction fighting with me, kayak bashing swimming.
Add in the first swim and he was hard swimming for about 40-45 minutes. I'm exhausted thinking about it!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Just what is going on?? Please read and share if you agree

I awoke this morning to the news that our county shelter had put a note on the door saying they were full, animals brought in were likely to be euthanized swiftly.
This isn't truly surprising. Wholly avoidable but not surprising. Someone posted they received 550 animals in the last 12 days. 
Of course not too many years ago the SPCA of Wake County took in animals from some areas of the county while the county shelter took in the rest. But politics won and all animals had to be sent to the county shelter, which SWORE they had the capability to handle all animals coming in. 
Of course since that point the shelter has been in the news several times for mistakes, problems, change of directors, accidental euthanasia (really), you name it.
So here we are, 'over-capacity' and thankful for other shelters taking in some animals.
Anyone with a brain saw this coming.
I know they are trying to do their best, however, understanding one's ability and capacity is essential. I wonder what the guy who 'promised' this would never happen is thinking today? I would love to ask him that question face to face.
Of course the main issue is the idiot owners. Don't give me any crap about why you can't or won't spay/ neuter. You are an ass, an incompetent ass. You have enough difficulty providing a half decent life for your current animal, why allow them to procreate?  You know vet care and food are essentials right? You know that companion animals need human interaction right? Positive interaction, just to be sure we are on the same page.
Don't talk to me about how your cat(s) need to roam and how the puppy you promised to love has to live outside because it got too big or you can't have hair inside.
A neighbor's young dog is outside, with access to the garage, alone for hours today and tonight. We had violent storms a while ago after which I saw this poor dog pacing in its driveway, awaiting his humans.
What the hell is wrong with people?
These are good people, how can they be so careless?

I'm seeing breed rescues so overwhelmed they are putting dogs into iffy or worse homes.
I love dogs. I really do. The more I interact with them, the more I love them.
I am angry at how stupid people are with regard to the responsibility of ownership.  I am angry that the idiot that refuses to spay/ neuter their dog is also the idiot that hands their dogs in to the shelter because its too much bother, costs too much, barks, needs food and water, etc.

Grow up people. You are the problem.
I am not targeting responsible breeders, so don't go off about how I am anti-breeder.  If you are breeding to improve a breed, doing appropriate health testing, ensuring good homes and willing to take back an animal you sell I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU.

I am talking about the hunter who says his dog is a great hunter and pointers are popular so they create puppies.
I am talking to the person who thinks its wrong to sterilize their pet.
I am talking to the person who thinks their pet is good looking and others say so, so you breed it.
I am talking to the irresponsible owner who just allows nature to take its course creating more unwanted animals.
I am angry 

If you have loved a pet, truly loved a pet, you know each animal has a soul. 
Take a wander through a shelter, look into these poor animals eyes. Feel their fear.
Have a chat with the shelter workers. 
If you walk out unchanged, you may be hopeless, in my eyes anyway. 
That is a level of cold I can't and won't comprehend.

Shelters exist for truly homeless animals and real hardship cases. 
This post won't reach the people it needs to reach, and I can't say I feel better after writing it, but I did need to write it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

give an inch and he takes 10 miles

Or turn your back and he's gone........

Oh Bugsy, my #1 agent of mischief, nearly 8, repaired knee, elbow, and shoulder yet some things never change.
Relax for a moment and all hell breaks loose.

We have the first sunshine in a couple of weeks this morning so we are all happy.
Bugsy and I went to the lake for his second swim this week.
The lake was a bit like Grand Central Station, loads of people out fishing on boats, boats launching off all pads and two fire engines blowing water.
And us.
He did well and was once again happy to swim. I kept him going until I saw him working really hard with the repaired leg.
Packed it all up and came home.
Knowing he was tired I unloaded him prior to sorting out the boat and stuff and I let him wander the  BACK yard off leash.
I was watching him as I unloaded until Steve began talking to me from a second floor open window. I turned away from Steve and Bugsy was gone.
He'd had about 30 seconds unattended, realized it and disappeared.
I calmly but with plenty of concern went around to the front yard.
Lo and behold, what did I see?

You know the answer.
Yup he was running the wildest, silliest, happiest zoomies imaginable.
Shaking my head.
So there I stood watching, calmly yet sternly saying No! Slow down!
No effect whatsoever.
I stood perfectly still and tried to come up with a solution.
"Come here and you can have a kong!"
A moment of stillness from the Beast.

Bwahahahahahaha I IZ RUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He blew past me legs flying in several directions and on into the garage. I got him inside and gave him a kong.

At least it was a gorgeous morning

Ah well we're off to our first acupuncture appointment now anyway.
Not sure how much he liked it but at least he was still enough for the needles to stay in

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oh he's walking, yes indeed, he's walkin'

It was five weeks ago today I set off at 5 am to bring Bugsy to Charlottesville for his surgery.
In some ways time has moved fast and in other ways it feels slow but regardless of how it feels, day by day we are healing and moving towards a leash-free existence.

He's been adding distance consistently to his walks but honestly the last 1/2 mile or so has been consistently slow.
I can see the change in his gait over that last 1/2 mile which includes two long uphills. That front leg gets weak and tired.

Until today.
Today he did 2.3 miles in just over 32 minutes - which includes loads of sniffing and several poop stops.
The average pace was just under 12 minutes/mile and a fastest pace of 9.5 minutes/mile.
And the very best part?
He never slowed - we were trotting along all the way to the water bowl!

He didn't even seem overly tired once home. I thought he'd flop but no he was following me all over, up and down the stairs, I left for errands and was greeted by a lively, happy boy.

I'm kind of feeling we've turned a corner here folks.
I understand that I now need to up zoomie control as he isn't OK to be as crazy as he's going to try to be but I'm OK with that.
The Beast is healing. I keep saying this, but its true, he amazes me!

Before you know it he'll be back to this:

Monday, April 29, 2013

the question was always when, not if

Well we got through darn near 5 weeks of recovery before the inevitable happened.
Bugsy went cwazee and ran zoomies.

This afternoon he had a modest attempt at them after meeting the neighbor's new foster pup, saying hey to another neighbor's young golden and getting to greet his dad who'd been out walking. He managed to get free from me and attempted to go insane but we were able to stop him.
He did get to blow off a bit of steam.

Then about an hour later, while I was on a client call I heard this thundering gallop heading my way.
Sure enough he came leaping up the steps, flying into my office space with legs going in every direction.
The tail was tucked and the eyes filled with cwazee!

I have two PVC hurdles set up to do exercises called cavaletti's which help retrain his gait. The hurdles are set at about 4 inches high. He was leaping over both of them clearly imagining they were four FEET high.
He grabbed a horizontal pole and ran around with that, then flung it aside to continue jumping over and around the hurdles.
I was pretty stuck just watching as I was on a call.
He continued being ridiculous for about 5 full minutes then came over to me and flopped and was asleep.

And so it was.
Nearly five full zoomie-less weeks came to a crashing end.

Happily no harm was done.
To the hurdles.
To the wall.
To me.
And most importantly,
to the dog.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

If only two brain cells would connect

You all know I love Bugsy. And by and large he is bright canine but there are somethings he just can't seem to get or accept.
One of the things he really struggles with is not being a complete lunatic when going up or down stairs.
So although we would love to not have to gate off the stairs we have no choice.
We've resorted to walking down/up in front of him holding the gate between us and him to prevent him from attempting to charge up the steps launching over two at a time or diving down them only to leap off the 3rd or 4th step, crash landing at the front door.

I mean seriously he cannot seem to do a step at a time unless we dictate it without exception.

Its also quite perplexing why the rickety broken baby gate that he could step over, prevents him from going up or down stairs and keeps him contained in a room. The only thing he fears more than this baby gate is a black snake skin and at least with the snake skin he overcomes his fear and attacks and eats it. (Really, likely the grossest thing outside of cat poop he eats).

Ah well the baby gate works and bless his heart he still has no idea how to walk on stairs or down the block at a normal pace.
One would think after knee, elbow and shoulder surgery he'd think, "perhaps I should take life a bit easier"
Clearly not going to happen, even as he heads into his 8th birthday which unfortunately as an XL 100+lb dog is way, way senior, I struggle to keep up with him as 'I' take him for a walk.

Bugsy, the truth is, I love your style. I still say "slow" and "careful" and you attempt to heed my directions , however, we both know that just ain't the way you live your life.

The day I put the dreaded gate away declaring you able to live life the way you do will be a happy day for both of us. Its only week 3 though Bud.
Five to go :(

Hang in there with me. I am doing all I can to let you do your normal things but I can't let you do the normal nutty things. Trust me. Together we'll get you back to your standard of insanity.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

$35 and we've made it!!

In December of 2005 we stopped at the SPCA of Wake County and came home with a baby Beast we called Bugsy.
In May of 2006, at about 8 months old, Bugsy experienced the best day of his life.
It was the annual Dog Walk to benefit the SPCA of Wake County.
He is an extremely sociable Beast and he found the tables of free treats, hundreds of dogs and thousands of humans exhilarating. He was so incredibly happy.
Every year since he has taken part in the annual Dog Walk and every year he just loves it.
He sticks his nose in every dog's butt he can, licks as many humans as possible and ignores any snarky behavior from any dogs.
He eats loads of treats and then he lines up at the very beginning of the enormous pack and he races to the finish.
There is a female GSP who has the same mentality about being at the front and staying there and I bet we've 'raced' them for 4 or 5 years now.
That would be Daisy the GSP :)
Its quite funny that amongst thousands of owners and likely over a thousand dogs - these two can always be found in the front. 

Here's a pic of another year showing a bit of the 'other' walkers

Sadly after dealing with a bad shoulder since August, a failed surgery and an unhelpful steroid shot in the shoulder, he only had surgery 2.5 weeks ago.
He is doing really well with his rehab, which is mostly moving forward but he has some bad days and even on his best days he has only been able to walk about 3/4 of a mile at a time.

Therefore, this year's walk, which is on Saturday April 20th, I have decided that we will attend the event but we'll only complete the senior walk which is 1/2 mile.
I know that Bugsy will love it just the same, and he'll line up at the front and take off so he can 'win'.

We set a goal of $300 this year. All the money we raise goes directly to the animals. The SPCA of Wake County is a top rated charity; I have the luxury of knowing several key staff and can say this is the way all animal shelters should be run. They do it right.

So for Bugsy, for the homeless animals of Wake County, for the low cost spay/neuter clinic, for the funds to keep shutting down puppy mills, will you help us reach our goal?

All we need as of today 4/13/13 is $35, can you spare $5?
Or if you are available will you walk with us?
Here's the link if you can help
Bugsy's Page

Thank you in advance!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Leash burned hands

Sigh, if you want to know how strong the Beast is I can only provide this tidbit; I have leash-burned hands. Really.
My shoulders and back are sore from his constant tugging and tonight in his excitement he pulled on the leash so hard it sped through my hands as I tried to hold on, causing that rope burn sensation and effect. Marvelous.
He is so full of tight muscles and knots one can only imagine how sore his body is but he doesn't care, he just drags you to where he wants to go.
We don't want to be tugging and pulling on him so we kind of use a half nelson around his head and chest to stop his forward motion and attempt to talk sense into his pea brain.
He will stand there for a moment but as soon as you return to upright he's taking you along to where he wants to go.
I have no solutions for this. He's nearly 8. Been through two orthopedic surgeries and recovery.
He doesn't give a shit that you want him to go slow. The more contained he is the more he fights against it.
If only he could realize how much further we could walk AND with less pain if he just did as I asked.
He won't get it though and he won't stop doing what he wants to do. His version of stubborn isn't to be believed without seeing it.
Love you lots Bugsy but damn give my body a break, if you did you might realize you'd feel a lot better too!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring has sprung as has Bugsy

Last night Bugsy was very unhappy about being left downstairs for the night, so I assessed how he was moving and decided he was OK to do the flight of stairs and we would find a way to get him down in the morning.
He was SOOOO happy.
And I can't lie - I was too.
Best part is I suited him up with his harness this morning and he was fine going down. So from here on out he can sleep upstairs. Great.

I can't be sure but I am now wondering if he decided that if he could sleep upstairs this must mean that he is healed.
He has been a challenge all.  freaking.  day.

I knew it was going to be a long day when we went out for the paper - you know to the end of the drive - and somehow this took nearly 30 minutes.
Then he took Steve out and bolted to a spot on the lawn and uncovered an underground mouse nest. It was a mighty battle to get him back in.
See even with three legs he can make like a donkey and you can't move him.

Steve wound up taking him for a walk with the hopes that he'd settle as he did yesterday.
Despite being setup in the sunroom with the window open and being able to watch me work in the yard, he whined and paced and sang.
I tried to tether him to the porch, no way he just pulled on the line, straining to be free.
I won't go into the details but it went on all day.
I thought I'd give him a frozen lamb shank to munch on for his dinner as it would take some time. As a guess it took about 5 minutes. More than kibble but not what I hoped.
He did enjoy it though

He saw people outside and flung himself against the back door. Oh and then he saw someone else and did it again.

He dashed around the area he was in over and over and over.
I took him for another walk.
He was tired and hot and working hard but he didn't want to go up the driveway.

Finally a bit ago - Steve went to watch a movie, I came upstairs to watch the basketball and he was left alone.
I honestly don't know if he's still pacing and whining but I do hope he's sleeping comfortably

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting frustrating

Bugsy seemed another bit better today - he is completely obsessed with digging for moles - my guess he's dug up 10-12 holes today all while onleash and with either myself or Steve doing our best to keep him from digging!
If we get him away from the mole hunting he quickly shifts to diving into the rabbit den area.
I literally had back spasms after our morning wander.

This is how he looked on our second trip around the yard

He also was able to enjoy sitting outside for a bit with Steve
So why am I frustrated??
Well for some reason the range of motion exercises hurt him badly and he will do anything to not do them. Its awful and I can't understand why. I watch him use the leg in ways that put his leg into the same position and he does that without pain yet if either of us try to do the range of motion stuff he acts like we are killing him.
I figure I am going to have to go see someone to do them and get it off my back.
I really don't want him to lose range in his elbow and shoulder because we couldn't get these done

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Celebrate we made it through week #1

Although he is still very wonky as he walks around, it is clear that he is feeling better and getting a bit rambunctious.
This morning our walk down the drive for the paper turned into a walk down the drive, around the cul-de-sac, up a neighbor's drive and a complete tour of his majesty's lands.
If there is one thing about Bugsy that I presume won't ever change it is that you nor I will ever 'make' him do anything. So you may hold the leash but beyond that he's in control.
What are your options?  Drag him by the collar? Yank on the leash? Stand still and be dragged or have your shredded rotator cuffs further damaged? I mean he is still a powerful dog so if he isn't going in, he isn't.

Anyway about an hour later he wanted to do the same, sigh.

Which brings me to our continuing struggle to do the passive range of motion (PROM) work. He is not complying. I've tried treats, massage, warm compresses, containment, surprise, doing it while he is standing, sitting, & lying down. I am pretty much out of ideas now. I keep trying and can get 2 in here or there but that isn't anything like the 20 three times a day, now is it??

He was still desperate to walk today so I took him up the road. I suppose it was a third of a mile in total or a bit less. But it was plenty. On its own he would have been OK but after the two long jaunts this morning (each was probably at least .25-.3 of a mile too) he was darn tired by the time he got back.
In a weak moment I was able to get the frozen peas on his elbow and he laid his head on my lap while I held it there.
I had five minutes of knowing what someone with a normal (affectionate) dog feels like. It felt great to hold him and to feel like I was comforting him. Then he popped up and dashed off as if he snapped to and was like YIKES I can't be seen doing this!!
Ah Bugsy I know it felt good. Hopefully you'll let me do it again sometime.

So that's week one.
I keep praying that the next day he's going to let me do the PROM and that he puts more and more weight on that side.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Keeping the journal

I like to keep track of Bugsy's progress on things and his recovery is no different so I'll keep it here.

Yesterday (Day 5) he seemed to have much better energy and less discomfort. He had a dream-filled sleep in the afternoon which is the first time I've heard him dreaming since before the op.
I chose to not even try to do the ROM exercises with the intent that we would start again today and it should be slightly less uncomfortable.
He is happy to walk around, or I should say limp around.
He gave me a stress test when he was crazy excited after I came home from a walk. There really isn't much like watching your dog - who has one surgically repaired knee, and now a surgically repaired elbow and shoulder- slide, slip, wiggle, hop, jump, repeat as he runs around the area he is contained in.  Add in that its a lot of weight he has flying around and he wound up getting yelled at LOL.

I feel terrible 'yelling' at him but he doesn't listen otherwise, heck he only just considers slowing down once yelled at :)

So that was yesterday.

He seems OK walking up stairs but going down is something else and we only navigate 3 steps on our way outdoors. This doesn't deter him from desperately wanting to come upstairs to be with us in the evening. Watching him descend the 3 steps from the porch its clear he can't do an entire flight so he won't get his wish but I find it the toughest part so far. He looks confused and upset that he can't go upstairs so I spent time with him  downstairs until he was ready to sleep for the night.

One thing he is fairly pleased about is having loads of beds to relax on - I keep trying to keep him on something soft so I put a bed in one of his favorite spots

Saturday, March 30, 2013

OK I admit it, I hate orthopedic surgery/recovery

Poor Bugsy. He is clearly feeling very rough, he just wants to do his 'normal stuff' which we of course have to prevent him from doing.
After the TPLO it was easy to understand how limited he was and needed to be. But with this you don't see the wound. I've read the notes. It seems like in many ways he should feel better than pre-op, but he doesn't.

Yesterday he pooped for the first time since Monday night - in fact he pooped 4x. Today? None.

We keep trying to do the passive range of motion exercises but he gives you an obvious 'this freaking hurts' message. He will do everything he can to avoid it including keeping a distance from me or Steve just in case we consider doing it to him.
So he's in a ton of pain, on loads of meds and has this foggy look about him.
I so desperately want to help him but there isn't anything I can do.
I keep hoping that tomorrow is better than today but so far each day is just horrible.

Keep him in your prayers, he needs it. I fear we have a long road ahead

Friday, March 29, 2013

surgery take 2 - a success

Well we finally had the surgery that we wanted to have back in early February. Actually we were asking about it in September, not that anyone was listening.
We decided to use the Virginia Veterinary Specialists who have offices in Charlottesville, VA and Lynchburg, VA and whole-heartedly recommend them.

Anyway I digress, once they got in there they found the biceps tendon nearly fully torn, soft and mushy aka it had been torn and tearing for quite some time.
They also found a partial tear in another ligament medial glenohumeral ligament) that should resolve with the rest and leash restrained activity.
And the biggest part of the surgery involved his elbow. Something we were totally unprepared for, he had a fragmented coronoid process. Unlike the majority of these problems his was a traumatic injury not one due to excessive growth.
So here we are 3 days post op and its so hard watch him struggle again. This time we don't have this huge wound to look at to remind us that this was a heck of a lot of orthopedic work.
He was very doped on Wednesday, his breath was like sniffing high-intensity cough syrup.
Then Thursday he was so very, very sore. But glad to be home and trying to walk around like usual.This led to him being a very sore and sad boy. Which led to me being very, very sad doggie mom.

But as he always seems to do, he woke up this morning ready to take the day on. On his terms. He did his morning flop like-a-seal and roll around in joy thing. He went out with me to get the paper and tried as hard as he could to do his whole "I have the newspaper and its a very important job" prance. It gave me a huge smile and some relief to see him more himself.
But just as he did yesterday, he wore himself out. So by late afternoon he was pretty darn sore and still wouldn't rest.

He won't let me do the range of motion exercises after a few. We are supposed to be doing 20 at a time, 3x a day and so far we can't get past 10 in a day. :(
I don't worry too much about him walking to exhaustion but I am concerned about his reluctance to do the range of motion stuff. I am going to try warming the joint up before trying it and then using some frozen peas afterward and see if we can move forward with it. It is essential that we get these in and keep the full range of motion but boy oh boy I can only gather it hurts an awful lot.

On a less serious note he was shaved again. His previous shaved area had just started to have some peach fuzz. Poor guy although in typical Bugsy style he doesn't seem to notice.
And that's all I've got tonight. I look forward to the soreness and pain subsiding to the point of having to hold him back. He's already provided a few ridiculous moments, I look to enjoy many more!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

why I think he's part GSP

We'll never know his heritage and we don't really care, he's our boy and we love him just the way he is. But every owner of a mutt must look for traits other than physical ones to help identify what their mutt's genetics have to do with their behavior/traits.
I have a zillion reasons I think GSP or pointer in him, too many to list.
The other day I was reading an article in Field & Stream magazine written by Rick Bass, "Callie's Home"
He wrote this about GSP's:
"As a young man, I owned males, was delighted by their tirelessness- their perverse indefatigability, the way they dived through barbwire fences and tried to keep hunting even when large squares of skin flapped on them like roof tin in a wind; and the way they ignored skunk spray, porcupine quills, snakebite, anything, to keep hunting; the way they literally chewed their way out of kennels and trucks if left behind for even a single run; the way they kept running, charging, hunting hard, even when pierced by a branch, the stob of wood still protruding from the chest."

I laughed thinking about some things Bugsy has withstood in order to keep after what he wanted to keep after. Rick Bass's paragraph rang true in my ears.
I've seen Bugsy run through rusty old barbwire, fortunately with the power to blow through it (size has its advantages) and I've had to pull zillions of thorns & twigs from his legs and feet and chest. He never indicated anything was wrong.
I think of the broken collars, leashes, my hands, and the intensity of the e-collar. The screaming and yipping of frustration.

Bass also wrote this:
"They were instinctive geniuses more so than self-made - and strong and powerful and sweet, sweet, sweet."

Yes my boy is sweet. Very sweet. But I don't think that's a breed trait :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bugsy, Bugsy, Bugsy

Well the saga continues.
Saturday - the day after our last post - he woke up in terrible shape. In fact he was stuck in his crate and unable to get up and out.
At first he had this look of "I had an accident" or something but I found no accident. Eventually I saw that the IV leg was bigger than ever.
In a heated exchange with Steve we did manage to get him down the stairs without anyone incurring a broken limb or bloody nose :)
We were off to the vet soon after and we added more rimadyl and an antibiotic to the mix.
Bugsy attempted to give a vigorous hello to a 140lb malamute while there, but the malamute wasn't as pleased with being at the vet as Bugsy. So he tried to eat Bugsy,  Bugsy just sort of rolled his eyes and gave the "gosh no need to be nasty" wiggle.
This provided the vet techs with quite a chuckle.
I was just amazed that he remained in such good spirits.
Anyway the swelling has decreased - although far from normal - and I suppose the rimadyl is helping with the pain.
We still don't have real answers. Is it because something went wrong when they took the IV out? Is he allergic to something? Is there something in there?
I fear we may never know.

What I do know is his special resolve and personality are shining on throughout all of this.
Yesterday he got to see his first love and was sooooo happy and goofy and so Bugsy. The family of the other dog just shook their heads, just Bugsy they said.

He saw a couple of neighbors today and was wiggly, playful and soooo happy. They too shook their heads in disbelief and admiration.

My Bugsy. I don't know how he does it.
I went for a walk and when I got home he was super wiggly, requisite toys in his mouth, so we went into the yard and he pranced as best he could and did all his silly things. I can't help but smile and in weak moments I want to cry.
Once inside he decided to do his signature rolling/flopping and when I went to rub his belly he took off and did inside zoomies as I watched in horror. And delight.
Can you imagine being so happy you need to run around like a fool with 2.5 out of your 4 legs?
When he finally stopped zooming he was pouncing on toys, flinging his kong and completely ridiculous.

Shortly after, Steve came home and he went racing out to greet him, realized he had no toy in his mouth, came flying back in, leaping past the brick steps from the garage to the kitchen, sliding across the slick kitchen floor, pounced on the kong, which made it fly through the air, he caught it while airborne, ran back out leaping over the steps again, sliding across the slick garage floor and attempting to bait Steve into doing zoomies with him.
I was shouting Bugsy NO! Steve was afraid to move too quickly as to not encourage him.
Then we both just smiled.

Steve said, "indefatigable" I thought "indomitable"

Whichever you choose he defines it.

PS I know that there are other dogs that are the same way, it is unique to dogs in my opinion and a huge reason I love all of them so much. I am very fortunate to be owned by a very large dog with an even larger personality and spirit.

Now if I could just get him healthy..........................

Friday, March 8, 2013

The indomitable Bugsy Lee

Some of his followers know that poor Bugsy has been dealing with a front leg lameness since early August. We know now that it is the shoulder that is the problem and that he has something called "biceps tenosynovitis"; that we found out in September. We've tried a few of the conservative treatments with zero success, not limited success, ZERO success. Then in early February he was out in the yard with me, 'helping' me feed the birds and decided to do a zoomie.
I mean there should be no surprise that he was going to do a zoomie, so I stood back and was very still, waiting it out. Any movement from me will encourage more zooming. Well he did one figure 8 too many and just stopped and looked at me while holding this poor front leg up off the ground.
My heart sank and I knew we no longer could wait and see. Throughout the whole torn CCL, TPLO and rehab he never held his leg up.
From August all the way until that moment he never held that leg up.
This was bad.
And yet he stood there, on three legs, with a confused look on his face but with his tail wagging.

Within 24 hours he was back out running a zoomie on three legs. Really. I mean he let this leg touch the ground but it wasn't being used. But by golly he was going to zoom.
The boy needs to zoom.

Since then we've had one screw up after another in our attempts to get some relief and healing.
My vet wanted me to let him do a cortisone shot in the joint and take decent xrays. The shot should have reduced his pain.
It didn't, if anything he was in more pain. This worse pain wore off after about a week and he had a few days that were slightly better.
We had scheduled an arthroscopic procedure but had to delay it becuase the immune system was depressed by the kenalog shot.
So finally about a month after becoming 3 legged I drove him down to the vet to have the arthroscopic procedure.
It was hard to hand him off to an unknown vet, away from home. But I did. I was sure this was the only way he'd become pain free.
About an hour after I dropped him off the vet rang me. They had prepped him for surgery and put him under, they booted up their machine and the monitor blew. Surgery was cancelled.
After recovering, I killed a bit more time and went to pick him up.
Zowie he was out of it and shaved and freaked out. What a nightmare.
I drove him back to Raleigh and listened to him 'talking' from the drugs.
I also noted that his IV leg was kind of swollen.
The next morning he was feeling much better but the IV leg was huge.
Sigh. This poor dog. He was reacting to something about the IV.
By late afternoon we were back at the vet.
He was being poked and prodded, blood collected and looking at me like WTF??
So now what?
The swelling in his leg is slowly reducing but its taking its time.
I can't reschedule surgery until it is back to normal and it would sure be nice to know what he reacted to.
I would love to not have to do the surgery, but I don't seen another option.

So my sweet and nutty boy is now half shaved, still can't use his front left leg and has a very swollen right front leg.
He's been through hell over the last two months and must think every car ride finishes at the vet where they hurt you.
But what is he like?
Well he's happy, sweet, kissed the vets yesterday as they were assessing him and taking his blood.
He's up to his usual antics and trying to do crazy runs and his post poop posturing.
He's just Bugsy.
He's eating and drinking, pooping and peeing. Begging for treats, tearing up toys and loving anyone who will let him.
The indomitable Bugsy Lee.
I know he's in my life for a reason. And surely its not so I can learn more about veterinary science than any lay person should know.

He has the key to life in his soul. He is going to do his thing regardless of his physical condition.
He is going to love you and be joyful and playful.
And by golly he is going to run zoomies.
God bless you Bugsy.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but I do thank you for picking me to be your human.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Seasons of his life

The other day I went outside to warm myself in the late afternoon sun. Of course the world's nosiest dog came flying out the door pushing me put of his way as he did so.
I wore a wry smile thinking about how some things never change. We have worked so hard to increase his patience and impulse control but he's never not sprinted to push past us to get out the door first. I warn guests he'll always pass you on your right.
I don't fear it is his 'dominance' over us, there is no other indication he sees himself as dominant. He just really wants to not be left behind in case something wonderful is happening.
We don't fight it any more, haven't for years.
However, other things have changed.
It feels quite sudden but when I looked at my handsome boy, standing on the front steps surveying the cul de sac, I saw physical changes that were bound to happen but I hadn't really seen yet.
His taught body isn't as taught. His neck has slack that wasn't there.
Tiny gray hairs are populating his muzzle.
Just at that moment his coat reflecting the intense sun, I realized he really was a senior. The vet has been telling me that at his size he's been a senior since age 5.
But he didn't look it to me, no longer young? Sure. A senior? Nah.
This shoulder injury and associated pain has taken its toll.
I pray that once we are back to swimming in the lake regularly we'll see improvement in his physique and his mindset. And that will lessen the senior-like appearance.
Of course the fact will remain that he of permanent exuberance is slowing down and his body will never return to the Mr Atlas he was a youngster.
He will sleep a bit more, exercise a bit less, and thankfully eat a bit less.
We will love him with all our heart, as we have always done.
I felt quite sad about this realization of his seniorhood.
Their lives are so darn short, I abruptly realized MY fountain of youth was leaving me.
His youthfulness had tricked me into believing he was the young dog that performed such crazy feats.
The task for me now is to transition my expectations for him and make the most of this new part of our relationship.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fields and trails and healing

Poor Bugsy remains in significant pain from his shoulder and his left hind leg. We tried massage over the weekend which was basically a fail. Bugsy remains the same as he was a puppy - which was 'HANDS OFF'!
He's such a loving dog its hard to explain to people that haven't experienced it but you don't pet Bugsy. He just doesn't seem to like it.
Anyway that didn't work out very well.
So back to pain meds and limited exercise.

Today I took him to our fields and as soon as I opened the hatch of the car, he ran down the ramp and was off and running in the field. Nose down, tail up, intense...........and happy. No way anyone would notice he has been struggling with injuries.

After I brought him back home, I decided to head out to a local wildlife management area for a trail walk. It was a cold, bright and still morning. I was alone with just the sleeping ducks. 
Really they were sleeping on the water.
Anyway this trail is convenient but I've always thought it was fairly boring. There are no great vistas, no interesting plants, and not much wildlife. I am preparing myself for longer hikes and hopefully a backpacking trip so I need to hit the trails, this one is just too convenient to not use it.
A funny thing happened while I was walking, alone, on this peaceful morning.
I began noticing how things had changed since last weekend when I last walked this trail. The water levels are much higher, there were many tracks in the mud, sparkly frost remained where the sun hadn't melted it yet and a huge tree now lay across the path.
I saw a squirrel foraging, loads of warblers (I never know which warbler is which, sorry), a sly red fox carefully watching me as he sipped water from the stream.
Standing amongst the 40ft long leaf pines I saw several 4 inch high long leaf pines.
Although our North Carolina Piedmont Winter is mild in comparison to many areas, the forest is still very much in Winter mode; grasses are yellow and trees are bare.

I thought about how many people I know who don't enjoy trails and as I slopped through mud I understood why. I, however, have always loved trails. Slopping through that mud reminded me of some funny and fun times as a kid and as an adult.
I love the sense of heaviness in your legs that occurs as you continue on your way and that feeling when you reach a destination - be it a lake or a river or vista or your car at the trailhead.
Mostly I just love being surrounded by the natural world that is constantly changing as it grows, dies, regenerates and morphs. I love being just part of the land along with the wildlife.
I find it peaceful and invigorating. It always takes me to a very different place than the 'normal' world I inhabit.

I realized along the way today that just as the fields, lakes and trails energize Bugsy and help him to forget his pain, they do the same for me. Its a different energy and different pain but the result is the same.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to catch a mole (vole or shrew) by Bugsy Lee

I have a bit of a knack for catching moles (some people call them shrews or voles. It doesn't matter to me what you call them).
We have a lot of these little critters around here and I have permission from MANY neighbors to go ahead and dig them up if I like.
Apparently some dogs aren't really too good at digging them up so I thought I would help by showing you how its done.
Today my mom took me to the woods. She calls it our secret place because after going through the field we get to the woods and then you get to the LAKE!!
So much fun. So many critters. So much poop!
Sorry I digress.

OK so first you might just be trotting
photo taken at 9:00:19

Then suddenly you hear something so you stop in your tracks, tilt your head and listen.
Last step put your nose to the ground, sniff but not too loud!!
photo taken at 9:00:44

Yup its in there.
Then very quickly rip up the ground with a front paw while burrowing your nose
Photo taken at 9:00:44 (yes really same second, I told you BE fast!)

Lastly pull the mole from the ground and kill it. In this photo I haven't finished him or her off yet but don't worry. I did. Mom said no one really needed to see it afterwards. Personally I bet you do want to see it. It was very clean. Ok it was covered in dog slobber but I AM a dog!
Photo taken at 9:00:52

Thursday, January 3, 2013

She just doesn't learn! I am a BIRD dog!

Earlier today I took Bugsy down to the local lake. I need to get him swimming again and bizarrely every time he's had a layoff from swimming he *forgets* how to swim. Sigh.
So there we are, me throwing his dokken duck and him going chest deep into the water, crying and whining because he can't reach the duck.
He always gets there eventually but goodness me he should be embarrassed to be such a studly dog whining and crying for his duck instead of just getting it.
Anyway that's how the adventure started.

After a few chilly and whiny retrieves I decided to walk the edge of the still low (but filling fast) lake.
There isn't much land left uncovered now but there is enough of an edge to walk so we did.
Him exploring, me calling him back regularly.
Then he found something.
Like a good pointing dog he stopped in his tracks and pointed.
I looked at him - he gave me a pleading look - and I called him.
Nope not coming, mom, pointing!
No movement.
I keep walking - he is still a statue. I call more firmly, nope he is not budging.
He looks at me - irritated.
He begins to paw at the ground.
Whatever it is (I am thinking mole as I walk closer) it is under an eight inch ledge that is at the normal water line, so the top is scruffy grass and the wall of the ledge is mud.
He paws at it and looks at me like THERE IS SOMETHING HERE!
Yes he shouted with that look.
Finally I wander over, grab his collar and peak under the ledge.
Crap its a bird! An American Coot. All I can see is about an index card of gray feathers.
Presuming its dead I pull him away and off we go.
I mean why would a Coot be burrowed into mud??

Of course on the way back past there he was heading in.
Guess what?
The coot wasn't dead. Next thing I know the coot tries to fly off, Bugsy catches it and is strutting around with his catch.
I manage to get him to release it (so very thankful when it comes to birds he has a SOFT mouth) and it tries to fly off into the lake.
With a very large, very excited, "I remembered how to swim" (live bait gets him every time) mutt making a beeline for the poor coot.
Coots are terrible flyers so the thing was slapping the water as it tried to reach safety.
Fortunately it made it to safety and I prevented the silly Beast from going for a long swim that no doubt would have ended with hypothermia.

So lessons for this human.
Bugsy finds birds and points them.
He finds and kills furry things.
He doesn't bother with dead things. Dead things are smelly and don't run or fly. That isn't fun.
He will always forget he can swim but he remembers when there is something to chase. Then he can swim long distances.
So when my dog points something I shall try to remember that it will be alive and covered in feathers.
Here he is refusing to go back to the car - HIS coot is somewhere off in the distance

Oh and thanks Bugsy for NOT eating the half decayed carp. That was gross