Freia and the Knitwhit

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

Under the Knife – Freia’s TPLO Week 7 & 8 January 9, 2009

Oh Brother.. so much for willpower. Well Christmas was the beginning of my downfall.

I think for about another day or so I kept Freia in her Xpen, but probably daily have given her more and more freedoms. It started with letting her watch me prepare dinner with her lying down on the rug nearby. Then she got a case of the zoomies one day and tore around the house like a 4 month old puppy. She survived that just fine, though I thought I would keel over. I kept watching her for a limp, but nothing. So then one night I let her have the whole bedroom, instead of only access to her sleeping area. Another time I let her hang out outside the pen in the livingroom, but kept the stairs blocked off.. you see where this is going, right?

The one thing that I did notice, and this was a big giveaway that she was feeling good, is that her behaviour went completely down the tubes this week. She was very snappy to other dogs, becoming extra territorial and bitchy. Watch out, Freia’s back in town.. Well. Not if I have any say in it. I realised that I’d completely slipped in the training/reminding of good behaviour since her injury in May. I let it slide. Not so good. So this was also a crackdown week in the training dept. Lots of kibble rewards for ignoring other dogs on our walks. By day 3 she got it, now she’s back to signalling me when she sees another dog, not by growling at them, but by turning to me for a treat.. Good girl! This isn’t going to make her an angel overnight, but will act as a reminder of what is and is not acceptable behaviour.

What I love about this is that now, a week into it, she’s no longer the dog freaking out, she’s the good dog ignoring the other dog (who’s barking it’s head off) As far as she’s concerned, she has more important things to do than worry about other dogs on our walks. Dogs to her mean something good might come from me to her, if, and only if, she’s good and ignores that dog. You gotta love the trainer that came up with this, it’s so simple and works like a charm. I almost want to tell the other people with the crazy barking dogs, but I’m still getting too much satisfaction out of having the ‘good’ dog! ūüôā

New Year’s Eve. Some doggy parents came over for a glass of champagne. Freia had not seen one of the parents, the owner of her best friend, Rufus, (the dog who sadly was killed in a car hit & run earlier last summer) since her injury back in May. She was sooo excited to see him – she brought him her bones, gave him lots of smoochy kisses and tail waggles and finally just curled up as close to his lap as an 80lb dog can get and contentedly gnawed another bone. Well, since that night I just decided to continue letting her run free in the house. A little bit of guilt and concern for getting into trouble with the surgeon at my appointment this week, but then I would look at her thick, bony, grown-in rock-hard knee and it just seemed OK. She occasionally had a bit of limping which would quickly pass and I chalked it up more to a muscle ache than anything else.

So, today was the big day. Day 56. It’s been 8 weeks since the surgery. The first two were hell. Trapped downstairs with spiders crawling over us at night, uncomfortable, sleepless nights for the both of us. Lots of medication for her, multiple times a day. By Day 5 we’d cut back one of the three meds, by Day 10 we were done with the antibiotics, after 30 days, the antinflammatories were tapered to one pill every other day, till finally two weeks ago, no more pills. It started to feel like we were getting somewhere. I’m so glad to have found the ortho that I did. He encouraged exercise within limits which helped keep us all sane. Somehow in the beginning 5 minutes was all she wanted, and at week 3, 10 minutes was just right. Having an adaptive dog has certainly been very helpful for me. She’s been a most excellent patient.

She’s definately a little frightened of the ortho, though she doesn’t hold it against any individual there, she looked at me when I led her in as if to say “what?? again? how many times do we have to do this? Is this gonna hurt????” poor thing. I dropped her off at 8am, and came to pick her up and meet with Dr. Sams at 11:30. He said that “she looked like a million bucks” and proceeded to run through her freedoms and restrictions. Basically it ain’t bad, she can do almost anything on leash, her main restriction is no full out crazy play at the dog park. She can hike, swim, walk, play gently – all within the limits of her not-as-fit-as-she-was body.¬† As she rebuilds muscle, my concerns to watch for are her achilles tendon and patellar tendonitis. Since¬†it’s been¬†such a gradual, yet consistent, increase in her activity, she has so far not shown any signs of soft tissue injury. He did also caution me that someday she will probably tweak her knee and may need rest and NSAIDS for a couple of days – along the lines of how my own knees are after 30+ years of skiing. If the tweaking lasts more than a couple of days then to call him for a check up. But that’s all she wrote!

Day 1 - Day 56

Day 1 - Day 56

Day 1- Day 56 - side view

Day 1- Day 56 - side view

In another 4 weeks he wants me to come in for one more Xray, she still has some bone growth to come in yet, but overall she’s done great. He expects her to be toe-touching for another 6 weeks or so, but that also six weeks from now, she can.. wait for it… wait for it.. be OFF LEASH at the dog park again!! woo hoo! That will be one happy day for this not-so-little dog!


Starting over.. again October 14, 2008

Filed under: Chesapeake Bay Retriever,Dog Training,Walking the Dog — knitwhits @ 7:28 pm

So we’re back to square one, or maybe square three, with Conservative Management for Freia’s torn ACL (CCL). She’d been doing well so I started upping her walks, but as I’ve done before, I pushed her too far, too soon. I let her play just ever so briefly with a neighbor’s dog and it was enough to aggravate her injury once more.

It’s so damn hard to know how much is too much as due to the nature of her injury she rarely shows any signs at all of pain or discomfort until it is really bad. I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself of when I can start to extend her walks again, slowly this time.. I figure starting from this past Monday for another 8 weeks of complete restriction puts me into the first week of December. I’ve really cut her back this time, and since she’s been so deprived anyway for the last few months, she’s not complaining too much. Today would then be Day 3 of 56 days.. ugh. Clearly I’m less disciplined than I thought.

To help us both, on the one brief walk that we do, I’m spending some time getting her to pull less and heel more, practising figure eights, getting her to pay attention to me as we walk. This way, if she does end up needing surgery, her walks will be more manageable, and besides, at her age, it’s about time she was a little more “mannered” when we are out and about.

I’m fairly sure there is some improvement as she is no longer grumpy with other dogs that she knows and the last day or so when she has sat down for a treat her right leg has, once again, been tucked in very straight. It doesn’t take much to show improvement, but it takes a lot to maintain that improved condition.

In the meantime I’m also researching surgical alternatives for her. My preference is for the least invasive option which in this case, for her size, would be the new Tightrope procedure. The trick is to find a local surgeon who has learned the technique, I’ve emailed the company that trains the surgeons but I’ve yet to hear back from them.

Hopefully by next spring she will be able to smother Bella with kisses at the park once more.


A world out of balance August 7, 2008

Freia lost her best friend today, and I lost a good friend too, and his owners’ hearts are breaking tonight.
Rufus was in the back seat of a car that was hit by a rotten juvenile in a stolen car. Rufus was thrown from the car in the accident and ran 3 blocks away to the back bathroom of a warehouse where he died of internal injuries, probably scared and sadly alone.
This is so wrong.

Rufus was certainly one of the best dogs I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Gentle, curious, shy, affectionate, big and bumbling.

He met Freia when they were both wobbly puppies, with Freia his surrogate big sister, teaching him good habits and bad (mainly bad). He didn’t have a mean bone in his body and adored his owner so much that your heart melted to see them together. Rufus was smaller than Freia when they first met, but within a few months grew into a very tall dog, unsure of where his legs were a lot of the time.

He was king of the sucker punch, catching his playmates unaware from behind, who would then chase after him – just his plan all along. Rufus made me want to get a Ridgeback companion for Freia full time, but I also knew that no dog would be quite like him. The combination of good genes and nothing but tender loving care from his owner made him into a truly special dog. He settled into my heart and I will carry him with me forever.


A Day without Limping July 19, 2008



It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, having deferred blogging to Dana.

Things are humming along, the new sweater patterns have been a big hit, i’m kicking myself that I didn’t move into doing sweaters earlier, but there is a time and place for everything.. I wear my Raffaela Sweater a lot, and get tons of compliments on it – always nice!

I’ve finished Marisa, actually I finished it on the plane ride back from TNNA, or something close to that, don’t remember exactly. Now that is being test-knitted by some wonderful Ravelers.. and so far so good, I wear that one a fair amount too, even though the colors are a far cry from what I would normally wear, I actually¬†really like this one!



Now I’m working on a fourth Noro design, and have a fifth down on paper, with the yarn in a bag ready to go.. I have even a 6th one in mind after that too.. phew! When am I going to get these all done! I’m mentally onto the next while I’m still working two sweaters behind.. but I guess that’s a good thing.. It’s actually really nice having time to knit (sort of) and something on the needles..

In dog land, it’s my patience that is running out about not being able to walk the dog the time and distance we’ve done until¬† 6 weeks ago..¬† We are down to 2 or 3 short walks a day, basically out to do her business and around the next block and back one time, and then all of around my building the other 2 times. Not much for an active dog and her human. I’ve successfully cut back on her food intake so she’s not really gained much weight, however modifying my own intake is a little harder and my jeans remind me of it.. solution? Buy larger jeans.. got new super cute jeans at Costco yesterday to accomodate my lack of walking.. there is some kind of backward logic to it.. hey, at least the jeans are still cute, if a size larger than I’m used to buying!

Of course, since it was Costco I also felt the need to¬†get a lifetime supply of Basmati Rice, my new favorite, cooked up with Turmeric, chicken stock and a splash of curry, wow, the best rice I’ve ever made.. or at the very¬†least a tie with my parmesan risotto.. At Costco they are also selling Paneer, Indian Cottage Cheese and just about one of my favorites.. who can resist fried cheese? They also have a coconut curry, so I make my own rather odd version of Mutter Paneer, with the cheese, coconut curry, and veggies with my super-duper basmati rice.. guess what’s on the stove right now? ūüėČ



Freia has been going into the vet once a week for the last month for a shot of Legend and Adequan, one is an anti-inflammatory, the other acts as a supplement. I’ve also been giving her Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin and I don’t know what else. The supplement dosages are probably on the lower side, but since the Adequan is similar from what I understand to the glucosamine/chondroitin combo, I don’t know.. I don’t want to overdo it.. but I will say, she’s ever so very slowly seeming to improve. If we cross paths with Kona, our neighbor’s dog, she will of course try to play and previously this would send her into a bout of severe limping, but now it has no residual effect on her, though I do still restrict her from getting too excited around Kona – I have to let them at least nuzzle a bit as it’s really the only other doggie contact she’s getting right now. When she walks, the limp is 98% invisible, and I only notice it as my eye is trained to it, to anyone watching her, they’d never guess she had any trouble. The only time I do see it is when she is standing still, then her back leg is not fully weighted, she is ever so slightly favoring it. I’ve read that’s the last thing to come back.

We are at shots every other week for the next six weeks. She no longer looks like a case for surgery, at least visibly, though I’m very much aware that she is still far from healed. I’m fairly sure she won’t be off-leash outside of the house until the new year, it’s just too big of a risk to take to set her back to the start, or worse, have it blow entirely to require the surgery. My vet was fine with going with conservative managment for her, with the caveat that the knee may still require surgery one day.. luckily I do understand him, though it’s a major drag for all of us if that ends up being the case, especially since so many dogs will blow out the second knee within months of operating on the first.. I’m hoping for some dramatic advancements in the surgery, maybe even some sort of stem cell therapy for her in the future as opposed to the current “saw the bone in half, rotate it and screw a metal plate in it”.. too harsh… Anyway, the good news is today is the first day where she has shown absolutely no signs of injury, no limping, even weight bearing, it’s been a banner day.. I know tomorrow probably won’t be as good, but if the good times start, and return, hopefully more frequently then we are on the right path..

Next week Dana and I are off to Seattle for a couple of days for the Northwest NeedleMarket show. It’s always a pleasant laid back show, or has been so far! I don’t really need her help, but I figure it will be a good experience for her, and this way I actually get to leave the hotel room rather than be stuck there the whole time. I’ve actually yet to see Seattle itself, since I have to pay a small fortune for doggie daycare while I’m out of town, I rarely take a moment longer than required when I’m away. Maybe this time we’ll leave the hotel for dinner or something.. One thing I’ve definately fallen in love with there is this – the Seattle Airport – isn’t this stunning? I think it’s way cool..

seattle airport terminal

seattle airport terminal

My new favorite show? “The greatest American Dog” Reality TV for Dogs.. OMG, I stumbled on this show last week, I had Freia do the tricks they had to do to be top dog, she would have kicked their butts.. except on the “heel” not her strong point.. and she probably would have growled at the humans too.. but she has potential! Great show, if you are a dog owner, I recommend it – for god-awful reality tv it was actually entertaining, and it’s all the same crazy people that you see at the dog park.. same “my dog is a great dog and would never pick a fight” attitude..¬† ..they’re everywhere…. Freia can be a real pain, but at least I don’t deny it – well, not all the time!


Week 2 of CERT training January 31, 2008

Filed under: CERT,Dog Training,House and Home — knitwhits @ 10:44 pm

Last week I started C.E.R.T. training – aka Community Emergency Response Team Program.¬† It’s an 8 week course put on by my local Fire Dept to get people trained in emergency basics.

Since they say it better on their website¬†than I can, here’s a quick quote:

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

Living in an earthquake zone it seems like a useful thing to know. I’ve always tried to be independent, but being independent is one thing, I figured it’s much more important to be useful (as my grandmother always said) – it’s all well and good to not be a burden, but since I can, and I’m able, I’d rather put myself to some use should something come up. To look at it another way, in our town we have 7-9 firefighters on duty at any one time. In an earthquake if even 10% of our population of 10,000 are injured, trapped or need help after an earthquake, it will be a long time before those 7 firefighters make it around to those 1000 people. Currently my city has about 100 people trained in the CERT program. That adds a lot of extra hands in case of a real emergency.

Last week was the initial intro and overview – this week we got to put out fires! It was actually pretty easy – somehow I thought it would be more dramatic, but a fire extinguisher really does a good job, quickly and very effectively (for small fires, of course). We have a great fire dept with a lot of nice guys who make the course interesting. It is run in a fairly laid back way, keeping it interesting. We get to hear back stories on various fires and calamities that have happened.. some stuff that is fairly astonishingly stupid that people have done, but then other things that give you pause..

They¬†said that¬†the most common fire is electrical – think about it in your house – how many extension cords do you have going? Are they running under a carpet? If so, not good.. the rubbing of the carpet can wear down the cord in as little as six months.. get a longer cord if you must and run it around the room against the walls, not where they are likely to get worn and cause a hazard. Also, don’t pile on one multiple outlet to another.. check the rating (usually on the back side of the outlet) and keep it under the recommended maximum – just because there are six (or three or whatever number) of outlets, does not mean it’s safe to use them all, look at the power required for each item you’re using and don’t overload your plugs!

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? No? Get one. They work!

Do you know where you gas/electrical shut-offs are? Do you know how to shut them off? Find out if you don’t know. If your gas has been shut off after an emergency, do remember not to turn it back on again – leave that to the pros.

Next week we start in on two weeks of medical training, going over Triage and basic first aid (treating for shock, broken limbs, minor burns, bleeding, etc, etc). We will also be covering light Search and Rescue (something I’ve always wanted to do with Freia – though in reality the training time for it is enormous and most dogs don’t pass..), Disaster Psychology, Financial Planning and the CERT Organization system (or something like that), and Terrorism.

I must be some kind of disaster geek or something, cos I love this stuff..


89 Reasons to love a Chesapeake Bay Retreiver (and counting..) August 12, 2007

Freia on the FutonHere is what Freia understands and can differentiate so far:

Freia, Sit, Down, Treat, You want some dinner?, Eat your breakfast, Eat your dinner, OK, Ready, Cross (the road), Wait, Stop, Come (Come Here), Come Front, Left Paw, Right Paw, Up, Jump Up, Down, Jump Down, Jump (over), Find it, Yes, No, Get it, Off (she usually chooses to ignore that one…), Go lie down, Upstairs, Downstairs, Look, Take it (carry it), Walk, Outside, Inside, Where’s your tail?, Shake (off water when wet), Gentle, No Bark (another one she chooses to ignore…), Let go, Drop it, Heel (not so good at this one), Stay with me, Back, Go potty, Go get some water, Look at me, Go play and Knock it off

(Real) Animal Friends she knows by name:
Rufus, Sparky, Bella, Kona, Kuma, Pancho, Sam (aka Sammy), Sable (aka Stinky or Boo), Ruby, Mitzie, Cody, Ollie,  Spike, Biggie, Fergus, Millhouse, Amie, Oscar and Turbo

Toys she knows by name:
Bone, Monkey, Ducky, Ball, Fuzzy, Goose, Stick, Bottle, squirrel, mouse, Tigger, Bag and Box

Prey she knows by name:
Squirrel, bird and goose

People she knows by name:
Lisa, Rod, anyone called “Buddy” and Susie

This says two things. First, I think she’s a pretty darn smart dog, second.. I probably need to¬† get a life and spend a little less time talking to her…

In other news.. she still has the foxtail in her foot, 3 vet visits and still no luck, she’s become more tolerant of me and the vets poking and prodding at her paws which maybe is a good thing in the end. Fortunately the foxtail seems to be staying in one place (her paw) so I’m not worried about it travelling into her lungs or brain or some other horror story that has been known to happen. She’s no longer limping much¬†from it so it’s less of an immediate concern, we’re just going to wait it out at this point. I would have posted a happier picture of her but this is all I could find for now.. she really is quite a cheerful gal.


A Walk in the Headlands April 8, 2007

Filed under: Chesapeake Bay Retriever,Dog Training,Walking the Dog — knitwhits @ 1:18 pm

Rodeo BeachThis is one of my new favorite dog walks. Since Freia lost her off-leash priviledges a month or so ago, I’ve been looking for good walks that are primarily on-leash for us to do. Years ago, I used to ride my mountain bike around the Marin Headlands and thought I’d check it out on foot. This is an area with a lot of deer, and therefore ticks. Though I treat Freia with Frontline Plus, I still don’t want her picking up any nasties on the way, so I’ve found that a couple of squirts of tick repellent spray on her paws and belly seem to work the best at reducing the tick issue. This last visit, I don’t think she picked up a single one, making the walk that much more pleasant!

Starting out at the visitor center, or Fort Cronkite, you head up the Coastal Trail, a steep climb up. Wolf RidgeThe trail has both paved and unpaved options, so you can choose switchbacks or take it easy along a paved fire road. This trail follows the coastline to Muir Beach, but turn inland when you feel like you are at the top, the trail will take you to the right and keep you heading up.PurpleYou will then join up with the Wolf Ridge Trail, which is limited to hikers (no bikes or horses). This part of the trail narrows, but is gently rolling just on inside of the slope. At this time of year, with the rain we’ve been having, it’s just a beautiful stretch of lush green and pretty wildflowers. They do have trail running races here so you will probably be passed by the odd studly hardcore runner, which isn’t such a bad thing! I have Freia on a 16ft Flexi so she can run up and down the sloping hillside to her heart’s content, lots of good sniffing to be had. AcanthusThis is the most (read- only) sheltered part of the trail and it can get very hot here in summer, so be prepared and bring lots of water for you and your dog!

This big leafy plant is Acanthus, one of my favorites, it is this leafy plant that was used as the inspiration for the Roman Corinthian columns. Here Freia is appreciating the shade provided by these enormous leaves. The Wolf Ridge Trail will eventually dead end at a T-junction. Acanthus 2If you have a dog, your only option is to head down the hill to the right, as dogs are not allowed the other direction. You will now be on the Miwok Trail. This is a wide fire road that will take you back to the Rodeo Lagoon and eventually to the main road to Ft. Cronkite and the Beach. It’s not unusual to see coyotes here, though they will leave you alone, they have been known to hang out right at the edge of the trail. There are also bobcats, but these too will run away from you, probably long before you ever see it. The beach at the end of the road is off-leash for voice controllable dogs, but on a weekend there may be a lot of small kids so beware! This is however also one of the cleanest beaches I’ve yet come across, with a lovely thick pebbly sand in a rich brown/rust color, it’s just gorgeous. A dip in the ocean does double duty, cooling off the hound and washing off the bug repellent, as well as being a wonderful breath of cool fresh ocean air after a nice hike. The hike is about 4.5 miles and at a leasurely pace with a sniffing curious dog takes about 3 hours (including beach time!)