Friday, January 30, 2009

You can fix anything with Duct Tape

There have been two more visits to the vet since last post. One scheduled and one unscheduled. The first one, alluded to in the last post, was basically to redress the bandage as it keeps coming off during Louise's walks outdoors. The second one was a planned checkup with the doctor. That happened today, and the doctor was pleased with what he saw.

Incidentally, he also reads this blog. When I brought Louise in with her paw wrapped in duct tape he noted that someone had commented here about doing that very thing.

Today is also the first day Louise has not been given any pain medicine, and by all indications she no longer needs it. Louise is able to walk with almost no limp now. In fact, the biggest barrier we had was with the bandages and just keeping them on. Since our last visit we no longer require a bandage but we do need to keep her paw clean - so I have crafted a duct tape 'bootie' that she will wear when we take her out for walks. It has less bulk than the bandage which means it doesn't slide off as easily. Also, it can be removed when she is indoors as Louise hasn't really been trying to lick the paw.

This is because we warned her that she would have to wear one of those plastic cones if she did.

I do have one photo of Louise's stitches for those who care to take a look at such things. I've linked it only in case there are those who would really rather not see it. If you fall into category B, I recommend that you do not click here.

So the current plan is to bring Louise back in on Monday to have the stitches removed. From there we should be back to normal, although to look at her in the office today, she seems to already be there.

Oh, and thanks for the suggestions about the rubber booties and duct tape. I had already decided on the tape before seeing the comments and was griping because I felt there had to be a market for booties for dogs. I laughed when I saw the comments. Guess we are all on the same page.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We felt the good vibes

We went through a very dark stretch but finally have some good news to report. Two nights ago had Louise waking up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. More pain than what was to be expected for that stage of her recovery. We had to give her pain medicine about six hours early just to get her through the night.

As you can imagine, we were not about to go through that again last night. We brought her back in for an emergency visit to our vet. He removed the bandage to examine the paw and concluded that the toe was actually healing as expected - however it now appeared that the toe next to it was swollen and inflamed, or at least seriously irritated.

We still had not heard from the lab and started to fear for the worst. Dr. Sandhu gave Louise a special dose of pain medicine to help her through the night and rebandaged her paw, but we still left concerned over the unknowns.

Last night went by without incident. Louise seemed to be in a lot less pain, but I could not help but wonder about the irritation in her paw. Why wasn't it healing like we hoped?

I heard from Dr. Sandhu this afternoon, after he was in contact with the lab. The results were favorable: there was a cyst that was removed, it was not malignant (meaning it was not cancer) and even better, the lab was able to conclude that the doctor got it all so we would not have to go back in to get the rest. Apparently it was some type of under-the-skin wart.

The doctor then went on to say that he suspected the irritation we saw in the other digit might have been caused by the tightness of the bandage (which was done to prevent it from slipping off, a frequent occurrence with this dog) and also the fact that her paw would not have been able to bend naturally when bandaged, forcing her to walk on her toes. Indeed, the bandage he put on last night was much looser and Louise does seem to be a lot more comfortable. It could be argued that she was comfortable last night because of the stronger pain medicine. But that has worn off by now and she is still doing fine.

How fine you ask? I'll let this last photo speak to that. Note our creative handiwork with the emergency bandage. Yes, the looser one fell off this evening, but luckily it was indoors so we were able to keep her paw clean. Dr. Sandhu if you are reading this, you can expect to hear from me in the morning about getting someone's paw redressed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year

Despite all that is going on, we did celebrate Chinese New Year with a feast, and Louise was feeling well enough to participate. Especially when that meant getting her own plate of cooked lamb.

When she is on medication, she is actually doing fairly well. But we can almost set our watches to when the medication will wear off and once it does, the pain is very serious. We went through a similar operation about half a year ago and the recovery was a lot less troublesome.

Our vet wanted a followup visit regardless so I'm sure we will be back either later today or possibly tomorrow and at that time we will have to take a look at how the healing is progressing. Hopefully we can find an alternative pain medication as well since Louise isn't able to make it though the night anymore. The pain seems to be worst when she has been resting.

Despite all that, Louise certainly enjoyed the lamb and we did have a good walk last night. The problem is that she has so much energy now that I have to contain her somewhat, especially around other dogs. She wants to run faster than she ought to. Anyway, I hope that last night's walk didn't also overdo it, even though we were out less than half an hour.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not so fast

Louise's bandage has been replaced once and this time seems to be holding together a bit better. I joked with the vet that he might have to start practicing 'sports medicine' with Louise since she has been running fast ever since she realized that her paw doesn't hurt the same way any longer.

All of that changed today. Things were much more painful and she was taking it a lot slower. This photo was taken as she pulled a 'sit down protest' to let me know that she was in fact done with walking and was not going to be catching up to me anytime soon.

Later in the afternoon my wife and I took her out for a 'ride' in the stroller and eventually she decided she wanted to walk some more. So she is still getting her exercise. Right now, she's konked out on the sofa snoring hard. Maybe it's best to sleep through as much of this as possible.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Running fast in a purple cast

Louise is back with a vengeance. I mean that in a good way. But first, some of yesterday's ordeal:

I picked Louise up from the vet late in the afternoon and brought her back to the office because I already had the stroller there waiting for her. The plan was to finish up my day at work and then come home. She was fussing a bit in the car but it seemed that she was complaining more about the drugs than her paw. The first picture was taken in the car as we were leaving the vet. She was still pretty drugged up at this point.

About half an hour after arriving in the office she started to perk up a little bit. Louise was wanting to roam around a bit to see our co-workers. Personally I think this had more to do with the office celebration that was going on, as it was catered. Still, it was a little too early to be giving her food. She also got to meet one of the other office dogs, Koda. He's a young golden retriever and he was very gentle around Louise.

Eventually it was time to leave the office, and I must say it was one of the most enjoyable trips home I have had with the dog. She didn't bark once. We got her settled into the stroller and she lounged with her head half cocked so she could see outside and was generally content. Because of the cast on her foot, people were less inclined to call her spoiled. Once we got home, Louise was pretty much ready for bed.

The next morning we got up and headed off to Bosley's Pet store. We brought the stroller even though it's really only about a 5 block walk. The vet gave us a plastic bag to put over the bandage while she is outside, and it flops and clops around as Louise walks. There's a video clip at the end where you can see and hear what I mean. When we arrived at the pet store Louise was already quivering with excitement. Turns out, she was intent on getting as many pieces of pupperoni as possible. She ran with purpose straight to the till (around back, where the sales people stand) and started barking out her demands. Luckily they thought she was cute and Louise was careful to play up the sympathy so she got more than her fair share. It became obvious to me what was going on: Louise was starving. She hadn't had much of anything the entire day yesterday. We picked up a can of soft food to help feed her the liquid pain medication we have for her, and then headed back. She was full of spunk and energy and it was becoming apparent to me that she was limping less because of pain and more because of the extra bulk on her paw from the bandage and bag. This was very encouraging to me.

Having said that, we are probably going to have to visit the vet again tomorrow though. Louise tends to be hard on the bandage when she's out walking - after she does her business she sometimes likes to 'scratch' over it. Well she quickly learned that the plastic from the bandage cover made a great scoop, so she was scratching like crazy. Tomorrow's visit will merely be to get things redressed as the bandage is slowly slipping off the leg. It sort of looks like an old sock that is only half on right now. Since she's napping on my lap now, it's not really a big deal but will probably slow her down on our next walk.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh Noes! The Toes!

As I write this, Louise is once again having an operation on her paw to remove another growth of unknown origin. The purpose of this operation is to get another sample to send to the lab so it can be tested and identified. The primary concern of course is to check to see if this growth is cancerous or not, which is obviously a whole lot more trouble than a simple cyst or wart would be. The last time we went through this, the results came back saying that it was not cancer. Hopefully we will be twice lucky and the tests will come back the same.

As you can see by the photo, it's clear what area is swollen and inflamed but it is not as well defined as the last time. That is, one cannot easily tell where the normal tissue is and where the extra tissue begins. There is no easy way to say 'take off this bit only.'

Last night we had Louise in for an examination and I held her while the doctor poked and prodded the area. We all hoped to be able to conclude that it was a boil or abscess, which could be determined by a quick pinprick - if fluid came out, it was one of those two things. We were not to be so lucky. It was quite painful for Louise and she struggled a fair bit, with a yelp for the needle. Even with all of that, when we weren't messing with her paw she was right back to her happy self, eager to interact with any of us and just excited to be with people.

Surgery was scheduled for this morning but due to a busy schedule has been pushed back to early this afternoon. If all goes according to the adjusted plan, I should be able to pick up Louise near the end of my shift today and at that time I will at least find out from the vet how things went. We won't have results from the lab right away, of course.

I have included a few other photos taken in recent days because I don't want this to become an 'injury blog'. We are NOT looking for donations for Louise's medical treatments. This site will continue to focus on the fun parts of her day, with fun pictures and video. Any notes of encouragement will be very much appreciated and I will be quick with further updates as we get our little girl back to walking (chasing cars) without pain. Getting rid of any limp is optional so long as she is comfortable.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fun in the Fog

Apparently the weather around here is finally getting back to normal, at least according to one old guy we stopped to talk to on our walk today. Just so you know, Vancouver has been enshrouded in a thick fog pretty much all week. I haven't seen fog this thick since leaving the Maritimes.

Just to be clear, I love it. But that's because fog is nostalgic for me. I made sure to include photos of Louise in today's post, but you will also notice some interesting scenery shots to demonstrate just how much fog we are getting. Well, they are interesting to me - trust me, there are supposed to be things hidden in all that nondescript gray. One negative side effect of all of this is that our temperatures have not risen up as high as forecasted.

Louise is still limping. The routine now is to give her some pain medication when she wakes and then wait about half an hour for it to kick in (pardon the pun). That does seem to lessen the limping although it certainly doesn't take care of it entirely. Not that Louise complains much. I guess the fun of being outside is greater than any remaining discomfort. At least so far.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fifty-Two Years Young

I happened to have the day off work today, so we took advantage of the opportunity and brought Louise into the vet to have her limp checked out. Dr. Sandhu was very thorough as he examined all of her related bones and joints in order to best understand what was causing Louise pain when she walked.

The current prognosis is that Louise, who is now about nine years old, seems to have arthritis in her joints. Her limp is noticeably worse when she first starts moving after resting but after moving around for a while, it improves. At times, it's hard to tell if she is feeling any pain at all given her enthusiasm. She still wants to go on long walks, has no fear in jumping up on my lap (if the mood strikes - at other times she just expects me to pick her up) and is generally mobile whenever food is involved. So yeah, she's still a typical pug. The doctor joked at one point that she basically got a free massage from him as he was checking her shoulders and spine. While she was initially nervous letting him examine her paw, by that time she was quite alright with him handling her.

We have some mild pain medication we can use as needed for those difficult mornings - a smaller dose than what would be reccomended but probably still an adequate dose to help get her started. As an added bonus, it comes in a tasty treat instead of a yucky pill so giving Louise a dose of goodness will be hassle free.

Of course, yesterday was Louise's day at the office and on our mid-day walk we decided to wander over and check out the much maligned Olympic Village here in Vancouver. Somehow, I'm sure that just including that phrase will increase the page hits on this blog as it is perhaps the most popular local news topic in these parts right now. Despite the bad press, construction is still underway and it does look like the area will be very picturesque. Certainly a great spot to host the world as they come to compete next year.

I took lots of pictures on that walk and hopefully I will get them online soon-ish. It's kind of nice to be working so close to the village as it is a great place for dog walks.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Limping again

Louise is limping again and this time we are still unsure as to why. She doesn't have another wart on her paw (we have checked) and to the best of our knowledge, she hasn't injured herself. Our best guess is that she might still be encountering salt on the sidewalks, or it could be an arthritic style pain due to the weather changes. As I said, we just aren't sure yet.

Still, she is only mildly bothered by this - she still goes out for walks and the paw tends to 'warm up' after about 4 or 5 minutes. It's either that or she just forgets about the pain once the first car drives by, I'm not sure which. At any rate, once she gets going she seems to be fine, at least for the duration of the walk. We notice it most once she wakes up, she is often limping very badly for the first few steps at least.

I will say this though: Louise seems to be happy for the weather to return to normal. She was getting tired of the snow. It was fun for her for the first little while, but once all the salt was thrown down, she started losing interest. Even now, I notice her making a decision as we are leaving - it's like she is deciding if it is worth it or not. The rain had stopped yesterday and the temperatures were mild. Louise approved. We had two long walks that she seemed to enjoy.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Wet, but not as cold

Another day in the office, this time with lots of rain instead of lots of snow. Yay the snow is melting, but now the city is afraid of mass flooding that may occur. Yesterday I saw some homeless guys employed downtown shoveling snow away from the drains in the street, one of the largest contributing factors to floods.

We had a lot of snow last winter and when the thaw came in the spring, I remember the reservoir was basically filled up with muddy water from erosion. It bumped up the turbidity levels in the water to the point where the whole metro area had to boil their water. Things are warming up now and I'm curious to see how it affects our water supply this time, given the anticipated high volume runoff.

For Louise's part, she takes it all in stride. It means that the puddles are deeper, and they still have slush in the water so she does get cold if we are out too long. And now she is wising up to us - if she doesn't want to go out, she will flat out refuse. Two nights ago we started to go outside but once she saw the snow, she had a change of heart. We technically made it outside, but she refused to step beyond the entrance and into the snow.

On nights that are cold and wet, having a dog that can say 'no thanks!' is having the best dog in the world.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Here we are again with another Louise Video to ring in the new year. This past week has been very busy for Louise, who will be in the office THREE days. It would have been four out of five, but Thursday is a holiday and Nikita was in on Monday. It's probably just as well, three days is already a heavy workload for this dog.

She hasn't minded it much though, to be honest. So long as she can come to the office and get spoiled by my coworkers, she's down with the cold weather. Now if only we could do something about all this damn salt.

The video attached was taken on one of our days off, and is of Louise hopping through snow that is about chest deep to her. I posted a few other videos on my youtube page if you are interested in seeing Louise chase after snowballs.