Freia and the Knitwhit

A Blog about a Dog with some Knitting thrown in here and there

Under the Knife – Freia’s TPLO week 3 November 29, 2008

Filed under: Chesapeake Bay Retriever,TPLO,Walking the Dog — knitwhits @ 10:59 am

Wednesday 11/26
Freia had her staples out today. Her visit to the dr’s office was a speedy one, I don’t know how they get those things out but they do it in a flash. Freia’s a little frightened of them there, she must have some memory of the operation, but she also knows that they dole out treats, so she’s a bit conflicted! They said she was progressing well. As long as I can (try) to keep her four paws on the floor – ie, no jumping (ha!) that she should be fine. She’s officially up to 2-3 10 minute walks a day now, which we’ve really been doing since the beginning of the 2nd week, and they said it was OK if I did 15. As long as she continues forward then we’re doing fine. She is pretty much pain free. Her held is still held down a bit when she walks, so I can tell there is some discomfort, but the slower we go the more even her stride. She’s taken a few little trots (not approved by me) and has not three-legged it at all.

It’s a bit deceiving as when she’s walking she looks fine, and at home I keep her restricted to the Xpen or the futon, so I don’t really see much toe touching, but I think, … I think… she’s actually toe touching a bit less than she was before the operation. Now, she does still have a pronounced limp as she moves about within the pen, clearly she’s not healed and there is some discomfort. However, she will sleep with her knee fully bent next to her, or under her, so she seems to have full range of mobility. Her foot is not at any sort of funny angle, but is at the same angle as her other foot, so there’s no apparent misalignment there. She stands on the TPLO leg to pee, she uses it to scratch her ears, so clearly she’s feeling pretty good!


Deer antler for the dog

Someone suggested Deer Antlers as chews for the dog, and before you get your knickers in a twist, the antlers are harvested annually without causing any pain to the deer. Freia loves these and I have to say, so do I. They are odor free, mess free, they don’t seem to crack or chip like a bone, but keep her entertained for quite a while, and seem to last forever!! I got them from here: they are very reasonably priced especially as they will seemingly last a very long time. I got a couple of 4″ and 7″ and they seem just right for her.

Thursday 11/27 (Thanksgiving)
Debating whether or not to knock her out today when I leave to go to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s soooo quiet at my house though that I think it should be safe. I’ll not be gone for long. We went on a 15 minute (maybe even 20?) walk today, not that far, maybe a total of 3 blocks around, we take it slow. Today’s her first day that she goes to alternate days for the anti-inflammatory, and I won’t be home later to make sure she doesn’t swell up, stupid of me to take her today, but it’s been a few hours now and she looks fine. Funny thing is she’s super tired after it, she’s not used to taking longer jaunts now after these last two weeks of little end-of-block walks.

Well, she slept most of the day so I decided to let her continue to sleep drug free. Of course as soon as I left the house I saw these ragamuffin kids running around my neighborhood. Left me with visions of them seeing the “Do NOT Knock” sign on my door and being troublemakers and knocking like crazy to piss off the dog. I need not have worried. I got home and she was fine, though crazy excited to see me, probably did more harm in those 30 seconds than any longer walk.. sigh..

Friday 11/28
Still very quiet outside cos of the holiday. Nice. Peaceful. Nothing for Freia to get amped about. We stayed mainly upstairs today with me sitting with her on the futon while I was working on a sweater. No post Turkey Day shopping for me, who really needs anything?? I mean Really?? Will post pics of her staple-free leg shortly. I have to say, her healing is rapid and rather unremarkable, which is of course a good thing, and makes for a pro-TPLO blog (which I am now, for sure), but it’s not very eventful, just lots of resting.. I did shoot a little video of what I do to keep her distracted for hours on end when she’s not sleeping. Once it’s edited I’ll put it up. Now that would be useful as that becomes the biggest challenge at this point.

Keeping her busy, antlers, UFO and Everlasting ball

Keeping her busy, antlers, UFO and Everlasting ball

Saturday 11/29
I’m finding my biggest challenge with her now is me. I keep forgetting that she’s not ready yet for longer walks, that she’s only just over 2 weeks into this. She’s doing so well. It’s deceiving. There is such a tempation for me to let her out of her “prison” but I really have to remember that I have a house of slippery wooden floors, now is not the time.

I got my blueberry corn waffle!

I got my blueberry corn waffle!

There’s all sorts of horror stories about dogs breaking their other leg bone during the healing phase, overdoing it and blowing out the other knee, developing patellar tendonitis (again maybe from overdoing it?). Plus she’s been extra whiny this morning, so I’m here on the futon again. It’s a hard futon, not exactly comfortable, but it stops the whining.. now she’s conked out next to me. I’m going to move and make myself some waffles for breakfast.. how long do you give me before the whining starts?

Tuesday 12/2
We had our appt today with the rehab specialist, she was very happy with how Freia walked and said she was quite a bit ahead of most dogs in her recovery. She first had me walk Freia a few steps so she could see how her gait was. Freia was clearly nervous at being there so was sort of slinking along the floor, which I explained to Sarah, the rehab gal, and she still could see that Freia was in great form. To quote her: “Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that she’s doing very very well, she is using her leg, she’s walking well. The bad news is that you (meaning me) have to remember that her leg is just held together with screws.” I have to say, none of this came as much of a surprise and over the last few days I do keep reminding myself that she’s not ready to wander around the house or play or trot or anything really. But it’s SO deceiving! She feels great, she wants to bolt up the stairs, run on the grass, tumble with other dogs, but not to be.

We then went over a couple of things to strengthen her leg muscle, she gave me a little ankle weight to tie around her leg. This feels funny to her so she high-steps her back leg, bending the knee more and working that big leg muscle. It looks terribly cute when she does it! It weighs hardly anything, but it does the trick. The other exercise that I’m to do is to cup her good foot and tickle it a bit to force her weight more onto the TPLO leg. This is a bit tricky as she quickly figured out that she could lean into that foot even though I was holding it up as I would support her. So you can only do it for a couple of seconds before they shift their weight onto you, instead of the “bad” leg.

Scar at 18 days

Scar at 18 days

This is all very interesting to me as it seems a lot of orthos have the dogs on 8 weeks of complete restriction and  to begin walking only at the 8 week mark. I’ve been cautious with Freia but still keeping her doing the minimum amount of exercise as prescribed, but I was worried about things like bending her knee and so on, and here Sarah was telling me to seek out curbs, to do figure eights, esses and circles with her, this is real rehab! She did say that Freia was already ahead of needing to do PROM exercises which is great as I don’t think she would have been too tolerant of that, but the ankle weight doesn’t bother her and neither does the toe tickling.

It was really nice to get confirmation of what I was thinking about Freia’s good condition. I think keeping her active, but doing the surgery before the tear was complete was the right way to go, her strength and general good health have served her (and me) well. Tomorrow is officially the beginning of week 4. Week 3 has gone by very quickly, still another 5 weeks to go before xrays, and even then it’s still only continued leash walking for another 4 months, but time is beginning to speed up in this – as people said it would – it really does get easier.


Under the Knife: Freia’s TPLO – Week 2 November 19, 2008

Freia in her BiteNot Collar

Freia in her BiteNot Collar

Wednesday 11/19:
I’m definately seeing a happier dog the last two days. She’s been pretty zonked out during the day which is great, but today hit a new energy spurt. .. I hope it subsides!

I took her to the ortho this afternoon to have them remove her bandage. I could have probably done it but she’s so squirrely that she would have squirmed her way around me while I had the scissors in my hand. And to bring someone in to help would have made her too hyper. This way, by going back to the ortho they can also check the incision to make sure it all looks good, with the trained eye that I don’t have.

Since the bandage is off, those staples are going to be awfully tempting to her for the next week so I ordered a BiteNot collar. It may have been $35 poorly spent though cos she hates the darn thing. She doesn’t seem to mind the E-collar (cone) so maybe I’ll stick to that. I’m going to give it a few more tries before I give up on it competely.

The vet tech said her longer than 5 minute walks were fine, and if she does get too hyper to either cut back on the Previcox or give her some ACE. Pain, in theory, should act as a deterrent. I think that may be true for some dogs, I don’t know that Chessies ever read that rule book. They also said that because she’s in such great shape that she should continue to heal well and quickly. They also said ice her if needed, but again, a bit of pain should calm her down, and icing wasn’t necessary given that she has no swelling or bruising.

So far no seroma, and as long as I can keep her from licking her leg, that should continue to be the case. I asked, and received copies of her Xrays, check ’em out

Xray 1

Xray 1

Xray 2

Xray 2

Pretty harsh, huh? 26 staples. 6 screws that go through her bone (and out the other side??? yikes). And if you look at the 2nd image you can see how far they rotated the bone to create the new angle. Amazingly that should all fill in with new bone growth in 8 weeks, can’t wait to see those Xrays!

Here are some pictures of the incision, I’ll put them in smallish for the squeamish. They aren’t really that bad. I’ll leave out the really stark one! She hasn’t messed with the staples too much yet, but I imagine it’s right about now that they start getting really itchy.


I think you can see the plate in this one

I think you can see the plate in this one

a bit red, but otherwise not bad

After our walk in a short while I think I will take her upstairs tonight. Last night was the 2nd night in a row that a giant spider crawled over me in my bed next to her and since I’m a major arachnophobe, I think that I’m done with sleeping on the ground floor. The vet told me (again) that it would be fine to walk her up there, but to just take it slow. In preparation for the “big move” I’ve set up a middle floor spot for her on my old futon.

Friday 11/21
No news is certainly good news. I’m continuing to see slow but steady improvement. She’s much more comfortable now being able to bend her knee without the bandage. I thought she might be a little less steady walking without it but that is not the case. She has almost no trace of any limp when walking, but when she’s moving around in her pen, she is still clearly favoring her leg. She will occasionally stand putting some weight on her right leg, but not full weight yet, as expected.

Our first night upstairs was kind of a pain. She’d had a new bone that day and maybe that was a mistake. She kept thinking she needed to go out and was not enamored with wearing the cone to sleep – she slept coneless in the pen with me since I would wake up easily if I heard her licking her leg. But with me in my bed and her on the floor, that would be something I could certainly sleep through. Trying to get the harness on her in the dark, half asleep was amusing to say the least.

Anyway, we were up and down the stairs far too many times for my liking, and we’d go out but nothing, so I eventually just put my foot down and told her “enough, go lie down”. She huffed and puffed a few times but eventually gave up and went to sleep. And I got to sleep in my bed! Heaven!

Last night was less eventful, she’s still not thrilled with the cone and neither am I. I can’t wait for her staples to come out on Wednesday and then we can both have a bit more freedom.

Making a safehouse on each level has taken a bit of planning. As I’m in a loft I don’t have doors to close or regular rooms per se.

Her day-to-day home

Her day-to-day home

She mainly hangs out with me in my office. Since I’m down here about 14+ hours a day she can be with me and I can keep an eye on her. This was also where I was sleeping with her for the first week till the bandage came off.. and till the spiders started getting brave.  I have a grid on the left side and I’ve attached the walls of the Xpen to it to make it larger than the Xpen was by itself. She has room to play and loll about, but not enough to go very far.

Her other new hang out spot in the evening time is now in an unused corner of the living room. This is my old Queen size futon.

Option #2 - the old futon

Option #2 - the old futon

I’m using the frame as the walls to keep her in. They kept falling over so now I have the “entry” rigged with a belt and the side of the frame near the wall is now attached to the handrail of the staircase to prevent it from tipping inwards. Not very elegant, but it works, and I can hang out with her or I can sit on my couch and she can still see me, though she would rather sit with me and she cries.. sigh.. She has used the futon as her upstairs bed for a while (not unfolded like this) so it is familiar to her, she just doesn’t get why she has to be fenced in. Oh well.

3rd Level - bedroom

3rd Level - bedroom

Lastly, at night, she’s in her “usual” spot, only now I have it cordoned off with a large baby gate. Since my bed weighs half a ton, the baby gate, once shut, is going nowhere. Again, she’s been fussy here, but hopefully once the cone comes off she’ll be better.

There is no concensus about which part of the recovery from TPLO is the hardest. Some say it’s the first two weeks, others say it’s the last 2 weeks when you spend all your time trying to keep them from running, jumping, playing. So far, I’m hoping this is as hard as it gets. Last week I was just plain worried about her and how stable she was, how much I could walk her, risk of infection, swelling, seroma, her reaction to the painkillers, and so on. This week, she’s off the pain killers, but the bandage is off so I either have to keep the cone on her head (the BiteNot was a wasted $35 for her) or watch her so she doesn’t bite/lick her stitches. Plus, she’s feeling good, last night she decided she was going to bolt up the stairs in her usual way. Fortunately, and much to her surprise, I caught her harness mid-jump, but it was definately a warning to me – and this is only day 9! Today also she saw my neighbor and got in a jump on her too.. so, week 2 is challenging, but not so much worrying, though I did have a moment today that I was thinking her upper leg looked a bit swollen, but as I continue to study it, it seems normal when she stretches, so I don’t know.


Staples Day 9

Her stitches/staples look pretty good, though strangely enough they’ve mysteriously gotten a lot cleaner from when the bandage came off.. Little sneak. But nothing looks alarming, and she’s not obsessively going for them thankfully. Interestingly enough as I just re-read this post I can clearly see an improvement in her leg, there is much less swelling both in the leg itself and in the stitches. To reassure yourself, if you, dear reader, are in the predicament of going through a TPLO with your dog, grab your camera as this was definitely reassuring  for me just now to have real “proof” of improvement.


A bet gone wrong..

Her hair is beginning to grow back and she has a soft fuzz now covering her bald leg and the square patch on her butt that looks like some sort of strange shaving accident, or a bad bet.

Monday 11/24
A few milestones: Freia stood on her TPLO leg to pee! Yes, she’s an odd one, sometimes she pees like a boy, she was a bit wobbly, but she stood on the bad leg – woo hoo! She also sat squarely on her behind the other day instead of having her operated leg sticking out to the side. Some dogs have their leg out to the side before the operation as that way they don’t have to bend the knee as much, but Freia, with a partial tear, was still pretty much tucking her leg in. Post-op of course that all went out the window, but it seems as though she’s steadily returning back to normal. I decided to let her sleep without the e-collar on as she’s pretty much ignoring her staples, so we’ve both now had 3 decent nights of sleep. I have become super sensitive to her though and if I hear her licking in the middle of the night I’m able to stop her pretty quick. The staples still look great, better and better every day, in fact to look at them now outside of the staples themselves it now looks like a fine white scar line, not much sign of a cut anywhere. Another milestone typical of this surgery is the 2 week mark the dogs become riddled with separation anxiety. Well, this one’s always been a little ahead of the curve and sure enough, right about day 9 or 10 she’s whining and crying if I leave her alone for more than a minute. It’s enough to make you crazy. She did make another try at bounding up the stairs last night, but I stopped her in time again. 6 1/2 more weeks.. so close and yet so far..

She has finally shown interest in her everlasting treat ball, which she worked on for over 4 hours last night and allowed me to escape downstairs to wind some yarn for a new project. She started in on it again this morning but it was temporary, the FedEx truck was more interesting…

Staples come out on wednesday – can’t wait – then I will be able to leave her alone (which I’m doing already)  and not worry about her chewing her leg off while I’m out.

Tuesday 11/25
I woke up this morning with a whole new respect for parents of special needs children. This is what my life has become, granted it’s (hopefully) only for 8 weeks. I can’t imagine this being my life for the rest of my life.. I feel pretty pathetic complaining when it’s put in that perspective.
That being said, after Freia tried to jump on the bed this morning and then when we were accosted by some dimwit with his dog off leash I thought.. maybe it’s time for the Ace.

Ace is short for Acemoprazine or is it Acepromazine.. I dunno, anyway, it’s a sedative, not for me, for the dog.. though it’s tempting.. I hemmed and hawed as I made her breakfast and opened the bottle of pills, took one out, put it back, took it out again. Cut the tablet into 1/4’s and smooshed one quarter in with some food. With some trepidation and guilt I popped it in her mouth. Unsuspecting pup swallowed it down.  Well, it’s now almost 4 pm and I’ve gotten more work done today and more peace, more room to think and not worry than I’ve had in weeks. I almost feel human. I’ve even spoken to friends on the phone, had pleasant email exchanges with other friends, shipped out a few orders, updated my website, added a new design, created my newsletter, all with my little gal soundly and contentedly snoozing away next to me.

Yep, Ace really is my friend. I may even get to enjoy thanksgiving after all.


Under the Knife: Freia’s TPLO – Week 1 November 16, 2008

Filed under: cats and dogs,Chesapeake Bay Retriever,TPLO,Walking the Dog — knitwhits @ 11:11 am

Well, it’s done. I can no longer stress myself out about whether to have the operation or not. It’s a done deal. This is what she had done:

Wednesday 11/12 AM:
Dropped Freia off for her TPLO this morning at 7am. Left in tears (with worry but also some relief to finally just be moving forward again) and proceeded to try to distract myself for the next few hours –
not expecting a call till the end of the day.

At the bank at 10 am my cell phone rings, I see it’s the surgeon’s office and immediately drop all my papers, receipts, pen and wallet on the floor with nerves! (and laugh at myself too)

They told me she was out of surgery and waking up and that all went well. I don’t have specific details of her surgery yet, but the vet will call me later.

Wednesday 11/12 PM:
Just spoke with the surgeon, Dr. Sams.

He said Freia came though just fine and is alert. The operation was problem-free – She had a 25-30% tear and since most of the ligament was remaining and her meniscus looked good he didn’t release it. He said the ligament can help with rotation of the knee even with the angle change of the TPLO so what was remaining is left intact, and also helps with preventing damage to the meniscus.

She will have round the clock care now while she stays there (and lots of pets and lovin’ too by the sounds of things). I asked if I needed to worry about anything else and he said no, now that she’s
out of anesthesia it’s all good, occasionally dogs may do things like chew the bandage but that they are closely monitored. Since she’s not a chewer I’m not worried about that in her case. I asked
about her general overall strength and recovery from the stress of surgery and we both laughed since she’s a Chessie and is actually very strong! She’s not the withering little flower that I can be!

Such a relief to be done, and onto the next step in this road to recovery.


Bald and Bandaged Leg

Thursday 11/13 PM:
Freia’s home, and boy does that feel good!

I have her set up in an Xpen that is about 6×4 feet. She just wolfed down her dinner, and her meds and is about to go to sleep.

She’s on Tramadol, Previcox, Clavamox and the vet gave me Ace just in case, but I’m not to use it in conjunction with the Tramadol. I told them I might take the Ace (just kidding!) – I think everyone says that to them!

She’s actually in much better shape than I was expecting. She had a BM this AM which surprised even the vet, and another one just now, so it looks like no pumpkin is needed here. She’s always been quite a regular gal. She’s allowed 2-3 5 minute walks in addition to potty breaks, but no longer than 5 minutes for the first 2 weeks. I showed them a picture of my stairs and they said it would be fine, but given that she’s not very stable and walked gingerly up the ramp into the car (even though she’s quite familiar with it) I will hold off for now and probably sleep with her in my studio. The gave me a ruffwear harness which makes both my life and hers easier.

Freia in her harness

Freia in her harness

They told me also that she’s shown no interest in her bandage but I have an e-collar at the ready, and a bite-not collar on the way. When she’s gotten excited I can hear she has a sore throat, so I’m making some chicken broth ice cubes for her.

I took her out to pee which became a walk as she was already raring to go. She made every attempt to convince me that she was ready for a long hike but I kept it to about four minutes, much to her disappointment. I can tell already this is going to be a long 8 weeks!!

I am so very glad that she is not too uncomfortable or in much pain. That being said, I wouldn’t have liked to see her yesterday, but the vet said that she’d been great the whole time and from the sounds of it was “working the crowd (ie, staff & vet techs)” for treats from the get-go!

Friday 11/14:
My info sheet from the vet said that Tramadol can cause “uncontrolled urination” (or something like that) basically sounds like not able to control bladder function, and Freia may have been spotting  in her sleep as she is fastidiously cleaning the bed when she wakes up (a couple of times). Tramadol can also cause additional whining too. “They” say the whining and panting are normal side effects. In addition to panting, I check Freia’s pupils to see if she’s in pain or just hot or if it’s just the drugs. We’ve had a little heatwave here so it’s been more heat related for her, her pupils have not been super dilated at the same time as the panting/whining..

I think all the meds are getting to her digestive system, but it’s not dire, yoghurt seems to help.

Day 2 is sure turning out fun


Do Not Knock!

Saturday 11/15:
I’ve been sleeping with her at night, her pen is actually bigger than 6×4, I have a foam mattress on the floor. I will probably continue to do so until she can do stairs. She normally doesn’t sleep with me (on my bed) but next to me on the floor and I know I will worry less if I’m with her overnight. I work at home, so I’m with her during the day too.. The first night i also had to take her out to pee a couple of times in the middle of the night. Last night it was just an early morning pee. I think by tonight she’ll be back on her normal peeing schedule too.

My laptop has been great for DVDs the last two nights and I have a stack more movies I’ve not yet watched. I should be reading or something more useful than movies, but it’s about all my brain can handle right now!

She’s using her leg very well when we walk, barely a limp. Standing still she’s a little more than toe touching. In her pen she’s more clumsy with it, and when it gets caught in bedding I carefully help her move around – that’s also partly the bandage as she can’t bend her knee.

No outside of pen time other than structured walks per the vet’s schedule (3x5mins/day max for the first 2 weeks, not including potty breaks). Once her bandage is off I’ll see if she’s OK for stairs
(vet says she is now) – I may wait even till after her staples are out – and then she will have a queen size futon (enclosed) to lie on, but again, no free roaming around the house. She has a tendency
to charge at doors if there is an outside sound and my loft actually has 3 outside entries. So I can’t risk that, and I have hardwood floors, so if we do go upstairs I will be holding onto her until she
would be penned in again on the futon. Even then it would still be only down in the AM and up in the PM, so only once each way per day, spending the majority of her time in the Xpen she’s in now on the
ground floor.

She’s only 2 1/2 so I expect she may heal a little faster than an older dog, but she’s probably at more risk for doing something stupid too. So far I’m keeping a tight grip on her leash, and harness if needed.


Eight Weeks

I filled in the eight week rehab schedule on the calendar, I may finally get use out of this thing. If all goes to plan she will have her 8 week post pop Xray around the 7th/8th of January, which is a week earlier than I thought and better timing as my next TNNA trade show is the following weekend. I’d love for her to have the first “all clear” before I put her in doggie day care again. She still won’t be allowed to play with the other pups, but I won’t have to worry about her either.. Let’s just hope she continues as well as she has been so far. I think these first couple of weeks are key. I’m concerned about seromas and infection but I can’t see if there is any seroma as long as the bandage is on her leg. Patience…

Sunday 11/16:

Well, she’s a little sneaky this one. She’s already figured out that once her business is done we head back in.

This morning’s five minute walk was, I’m sure, closer to 15. I’m going to change my strategy and take her out only to pee and wait until she starts signalling that she’s really desperate before we go
out for #2 otherwise she’ll be walking all around town and back if we do it on her time!

She also managed to get in a trot! I say this with both trepidation and a smile as up till now if she needed to move quickly for some reason (primarily to escape the patch of ground on which she just
peed to keep her paws dry) it was a hop. BTW,I do have her on a short leash (max 2-3 feet and next to me except to sniff) though it may not sound like it from what I just wrote.

She’s beginning to show interest in chew toys/rawhide. I also give her all her food in 2 Kongs to keep her occupied for more than 20 seconds.

Her staples are beginning to peek out from the top of her bandage and what I can see looks really good, creepy but good. Bandage comes off anytime between Tuesday and Thursday next week, then I get the big picture.

Lastly we both slept really well last night! Yay!

Sunday Morning Snooze

Sunday Morning Snooze

Monday 11/17
Freia slept all day Sunday. She did surface on Sunday night though and was playful all evening. I was getting a bit worried, but felt better once she got interested in her toys at night. And then it continued all night.. for hours!

Today she’s done much the same, now it’s 5pm and she’s come to life.  If this is the routine for the remaining 7 1/2 weeks then it won’t be so bad.. for either of us.

It seems the general concensus is the hardest part is to keep them calm. I just now had to turn her Xpen into a fortress as my half-blind, half-deaf, totally senile 20 year old cat wants to join Freia in her pen.. Bad Idea. They’re friendly, but not THAT friendly…

Freia's Fortress

Fortress Freia

I filmed a little video of her today on her 5 minute walk. I did this so that people who’d not yet done the surgery could be somewhat reassured that they’re dog will be OK pretty quick. Not “feeling ok, letting off leash” kind of good, but able to enjoy a sniff of the outside air.