Monday, March 26, 2012

Family, friends and dogs

Since February 2 both Riley and I have been recovering from doctor and veterinarian visits. Me with a shoulder operation and Riley with first a hip infection and now a knee operation. If things go the way they should, we will be pretty close to 100% in 8 more weeks. The past two months have given me even more appreciation for my canine partners.

As a human I have many different things to fall upon to help me pass the down time. I have my wife and family to help me in all the things a one armed guy can't do. All those little chores like cleaning up the dog poop still have to be done. They have also helped to keep me entertained by playing word games and bringing the grand children over for entertainment. I also have my friends to humor me with dog stories and travel to sports shows with. What's more I have a dog that helps keep me entertained. With all that Riley has been through he still is always by my side. If I lay on the floor to stretch my arm he is right there either flipping my arm with his nose for a ear rub or shoving a rag in my face trying to get me to play tug of war.

To say that we have become attached at the hip in the last two months would be an understatement. With that, I have come to an understanding of how much we are needed by our dogs. Especially hunting dogs. Think about it. Almost every aspect of a hunting dog's life revolves around one person. Who feeds the dog every day? Who is usually the first person your dog sees in the morning whether he is kenneled or sleeps in the house? Who exercises the dog? Who takes the dog to the hills to hunt birds, the activity he enjoys the most? Our hunting mutts are pretty much dependant upon us.

Riley and I have always been a pretty good team on the hill and now we read each other at home also. He has learned what just about every move I make at home is for, just as I have his. After a therapy session, Riley usually puts his head on my lap as if he knows I'm hurting a little and he has different postures when he is uncomfortable that I pick up on.

I've always known how much our dogs rely upon us, but the last few months have really driven that point home. So, the next time you take a ride somewhere and your dog stares at you from the kennel or house window, consider taking him or her with you. The next time you're eating a treat, share a little with your partner. Remember, all that dog wants in life is to be doing something with you. Give them the attention they give you. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Riley's Operation.

Riley's operation has been moved back to the sixth of March from the second. I'm going to post a weekly report of how his recovery is doing so others know what to expect as far as recovery problems, problems around the house and so on. Hopefully chukar hunters will be able to plan there activities a little better knowing what to expect.

The operation is not as simple as just replacing the tendon anymore. They actually cut part of the fibula bone in order to make a more level joint. There will be a metal plate with six screws holding it in place. Normally there are only four screw but Riley is a little bigger than the normal GSP. I'll be bringing him home on the day of the surgery and he's going to be pretty groggy that day and probably the next. He'll be on pain meds and antibiotics for a while and will  have to be confined.

The first two days are very critical to not move any more than necessary. A short trip outside to relieve himself is about all he should be doing.

So, I am getting the house ready for rehab. Much the same as for when I had a knee replacement. Placing carpets or non slip material over the slick walking surfaces, making a clear path to the outdoors with no steps, fixing a bed in an area that is easily accessible without climbing and is also soak proof because there will be plenty of drainage and basically making a comfortable area for him. Next we'll be bringing him home.

Day 1 was pretty calm early but by the end of the day he was already wanting to move around more than he was supposed to.
Day six and what an education I'm getting. Especially in pain tolerance. We humans (especially this one) are real fragile (pusses) when it comes to putting up with pain. Keeping Riley calm has been a real chore. I puut my shoes on, he's ready to play, pick up a hat, he's ready to play, head for the garage, he's ready to play, heck if I open my eyes he's ready to play. The farther into this we get the more fired up he is getting.

He had his first check up Friday and the vet says he's looking great. He uses his leg more than I figured he would. I gave up on a friends advice of keeping him in the bathroom, because even in there he is constantly standing, doing circles,  reaaranging his bed, and stays pretty active. He still steps up on the couch to sleep without using his leg and the vet says to let him go. Fortunately, he is so tall that it is pretty easy.

This first week has been a real education to me as to how much Riley and I do together. When I work outside he is usually be my side, when I get a treat I get one for him also, when I exercise he always right beside me helping, when I'm scooping poop he is beside me pointing out the next pile, and you probably get the message. He is handling this whole ordeal a lot better than I figured he would.

Tuesday he will have the drain tube removed and have his first laser therapy treatment, whatever that is.

Week two went pretty good. Keeping Riley down is impossible but he hasn't done anything to injure himself. The safest thing to have done would have been to keep him confined to a small room like a bathroom, but I have a hard time keeping my buddy in solitaire. He had all the drain tubes removed and the stitches out of his hip. Antibiotics are done now and he is down to only taking Duramax which seems to be a miracle drug for pets. I have been in contact with several other dog owners that have had great results with the pain killer and antiinflamatory drug.

The laser therapy takes about five minutes and involves putting some type of laser light over the bone area to help in the healing. Riley has turned into the perfect patient. He walks right up to the scale, weighs himself (85 lbs.) and the nurse escorts him to his room. I wish my dr. was that punctual.

So far Riley has been limited to short trips out in the yard and has gotten away with his playful tactics in the house. His stitches come out Tuesday and he can start short (five minute) walks on a leash after that. Luckily my arm is out of the sling now amd I'm sure it will be stretched abundantly by Riley.

Also during this second week, Riley seems to use his leg quite well, not putting a lot of weight on it.

After two long weeks of sleeping on the living room floor with him, I am going back to the comfort of my bed soon and hopefully my lap dog will stop asking for leg massages.

Week three is in the past now. Nothing exciting to report except that the stitches came out and the hair is starting to cover up his scar. Riley still lifts his leg up when he gets going a little faster (which he's not supposed to do) but is now using his leg while walking with very little noticeable limp. Surprisingly he hasn't gained much weight over the three weeks. He's got free range of the house without constant super vision and is now back to jumping up on the bed at nights. He seems to know not to use the bad knee yet for jumping. All in all, week three was not as bad as I expected.

Week four was pretty uneventful. Riley received his last laser therapy treatment and won't see the vet again for four weeks when he'll get his xrays to confirm the healing has been successful. Riley is heavier than he has ever been (90 lbs.). We're walking off leash now and I have to slow him down. Even our thirty minute walks wear him down now. He wears out soon and I think his leg is a little sore after the walks. Riley is starting to use his leg pretty normally.

One other thing at this stage. I have to take walks in areas where there are no birds and without any other dogs. Otherwise Riley makes to many fast moves which could injury his repaired knee.

Week five was pretty much the same as week four. The hair is back and the limp is gone most of the time. I'm extending his walks some but still trying to keep him lower keyed.

Week six. Quite a bit of improvement. Riley gets a little running around time now, even though he is supposed to be still on a leash. I try to keep him from hard jumps or runs and he seems to be handling it. His hair is all grown back now. He is 90 lbs. His limping is limited now although he keeps the weight off it at times.

Week 7 was a a lot like week six. You can't even see where they shaved Riley now. We probably had a little more activity than we were supposed to but Riley handled it just fine. He shows very little limp now. Tuesday will be his xray to make sure the bone has healed up properly. If so we will start a little heavier therapy, I HOPE.

Week 8 came with much anticipation. Riley's xray's came back good with a complete heal of the bone where it was cut and reshaped. The vet gave the okay to start rehab at a slow pace. I also got the go ahead with my shoulder so we are both starting a program to get back into chukar shape. It's going to take a long time. We are both in the worst shape of our lives. I'm taking Riley out in the fields on flat ground for the first week and than we will start some short hill hikes. I don't see Riley limping anymore but he is tiring quickly and when we stop he still keeps most of the weight off his right rear leg.

Week 9 has Riley doing 3 mile hill hikes and doing real well. Just like us humans he tires quickly and is going to have to take some gradual building up miles before he's 100 %. Over all I'm tickled pink and Riley is a lot more happy running the hills. He even got a couple of points today.

Week 10 has Riley doing about 5 miles on our hikes now. He shows no sign of limping while on the hikes but seems to use his shoulders to lift up from the laying position after the walks. Like humans I'm sure he is a little sore so I give him a pain med to help him out. One good thing is, Riley seems to know when enough is enough and slows down.
Week 11 went good for the repaired knee. But, as I was warned could happen, Riley blew his other knee today. So we are about to go back to week 1 with knee two.