Category Archives: German Shepherd

Diagnosis: hip dysplasia. Now what?

I promise even though I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write, I have felt the inspiration and have been roughing a few out in my head.

First off I am such a bad puppy parent to not fully celebrate Klaus’ second birthday which was Jan 3. But let’s be honest, the little shit got a great gift this year- a new hip and a new lease on life. So that’s that. Here are some baby Klaus pics that are still some of my favorite!

 

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It got me thinking about the lengths some owners will go through in hopes of prolonging or bettering their pets lives. That’s not to discredit those who aren’t able to- whether financially or emotionally. But lets face it, whether or not good ol Uncle Sam recognizes them as true tax write offable offspring, they are our children and just as time consuming and money draining as “real” kids are.

So when an owner squares off with the diagnosis “your dog has hd” (or any other terrible condition), its devastating to say the least and is just as difficult to deal with if you were hearing the same thing about any of your loved ones.

In response to an awful lot of sad news I’ve seen via Klaus’ instagram followers- I want to really focus on our diagnosis, journey and experience in hopes of shedding some light, and well, hope really.

Our end result is so very close. We are two weeks shy of Klaus having total freedom again. January 20 is our “all systems go” day.

It has been tough, and not one Im looking forward to doing again. His left hip’s arthritis has progressed noticabley since his last radiographs. It is my hope that he will continue to use his bionic hip more and therefore lessen the stress on the left. But I suppose we will get there when (and if) we get there.

Afterall, our decision to do a total hip replacement was in fact a salvage surgery for the left in repairing of the right. It was one of the main reasons why we went with the “cadillac” of hip surgeries.

1.In the beginning………. In the beginning we had our concerns. Concerns we swayed with online diagnosis underlined with naivete and hope. Large breed dogs are known to go through rather painful growth spurts and subsequently growing pains aka panosteitis and we had ourselves convinced that the lameness and bunny hopping and super sleepy days were the result of pano. Around this time we were doing agility and everyone I spoke with, the trainers and other dog owners who experienced the same, all said “he’ll be ok. he’ll grow out of it. you’ll see”. Except what we saw was a detirioration in his gait- lots of swishing and swaying and total reluctance to sit. His stance was anything but square, rather crooked and he’d push his bad hip out when he sat. He’d slip and yelp out in pain and lay there for a moment.

2. Diagnosis………. I don’t understand gut feelings but I think it’s important to really listen to your intuition, you know “better safe than sorry”. Despite all the reassurrances we knew something wasn’t right. We couldn’t wait and see any longer. We had to know. Our vet took raidiographs and our suspicions were confirmed but could not be 100% verified until we met with the orthopedic surgeon.

3. Hindsight and the blame game………. Hindsight is great to have after the fact (and is only available after the fact). Had we tried to not convince ourselves otherwise, we might have been able to get him into an earlier procedure, a Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO). But it’s important not to dawdle or dwell but rather trudge forward with the task at hand. When we got the diagnosis, and after I completely broke down into a fit of swearing and tears I began to play the blame game. Why did we wait to get him diagnosed? Did we switch his food up too fast and therefore encouraged growth too fast? Did we let him play and run too much as a pup? Did we not look hard enough into his lines? In the end shit sometimes happens. I won’t say I didn’t continue to struggle with blame and guilt along the way, because I did. But I know our decision to not turn our back on our family member was a justifiable one- and one I still continue to have to justify to this day. * You won’t believe the nastiness I still combat with because Klaus is from a breeder!

4. Research………. Anytime someone is faced with a super hard surgical decision, it seems obvious that knowledge is power. In our case it was utterly and exhaustingly overwhelming- though very much necessary. I took this project head on and on a daily basis. It felt like a part time job. I began looking into any and all options, including some not so conventional ones. I sent away for brochures and literature. I signed up for message boards. I desperately sought out any and all tidbits of information that would help me make this decision. And ultimately only you can make this decision- something many times I wished someone else would for me. I asked the vets if Klaus was their dog what they would do- with mixed opinions.

5. Second opinions………. Get at least one other opinion. Though our second opinion was spot on with the first, we discovered a much better fit financially with Cornell, a teaching school and subsequently a much better fit bed-side manner wise. Our first surgeon quoted us at $7-9k and was rather gruff about everything. Cornell quoted us $4-6k with our final cost around $5k. I recommend really seeking out a teaching college. But regardless of where you go you must feel comfortable.

6. Brainstorm………. I don’t know about you but my husband and I live paycheck to paycheck. He owns his own business and I was faced with having to make a tough transition of full time employment with benefits to self employment and freelance- a transition that even on the best day is fleeting and not consistent in pay! Being a crafty person by nature and a designer at heart I set to work creating items I would sell in hopes of raising the funds. At the pressing of friends and family and even perfect strangers, we were encouraged to create a donation page. Consider creating a blog- not only as a way for people to get to know you and your pet, but I know in the end it was integral to my sanity.  Have a garage sale- or two- or three. I did a lot of research on grants for vet bills. It is a permanent page on my blog that can be found here: aid for vet bills. Although sadly a lot of these organizations are tapped out financially it doesn’t hurt to try and apply. You won’t know if you qualify until you do.

7. CareCredit………. If you haven’t already at this time applied for CareCredit, you should definitely do so. Most places won’t even consider your application or plea for help until you do so. It can be used for many other health care related issues, not just for pets but for humans as well! Makes me think I should probably consider a trip to the dentist with it 🙂

8. In the meantime………. In preparation for Klaus’ surgery we were tasked with the almost impossible need to keep him restrained to prevent his hip from popping out. How can someone restrict a puppy?! Remember Klaus was diagnosed around 8 months old. It broke our heart to prevent him from being a puppy but we had to. He was leashed at all times. Puppy play dates were essentially canceled- at least the free roaming ones. We began physical therapy, increased his supplements, massage and stretching. Depending on your diagnosis, you may be lucky enough to find that putting them on supplements and adding a swimming regiment is just enough. We kept Klaus trim and lean and switched out his treats for ones with added MSM and Glucosamine.We prepared our home for Klaus’ 8 weeks of confinement. We moved our bed downstairs. We created a penned area for him with extra padding. Consolidated his beds into one fluffy pile.

9. Be flexible………. Despite all the preparation we did it was important for us to be able to adapt and be flexible. Things we originally thought would help us- a larger penned area, one in the living room and one in the office- did not work a week after his surgery. He was anxious all the time and attempted to get out. The crate, though it broke our heart, was our best friend. What also worked better than I thought was leaving him crated in the living room while I did work in the office- out of sight.

10. Set aside alone time……….Whether that means straight up “me” time or making it a point for you and your significant other to get out of the house and not think about your troubles at home. There were plenty of times I just needed to go driving. My husband would come home and find me sitting on the kitchen floor, hands over my ears to drown out the barking, streams of tears running down my face. Though we didn’t have a lot of extra cash, my husband and I attempted date nights still. It was important and necessary as a way to destress. I imagine it works the same in any sort of stressful scenario- sometimes normalcy, even if it’s just pretending, is just what you need to feel grounded again. I know it helped to snap me out of the shit storm.

In the end would we do it again? YES! Given our particular scenario we would. And every owner and their pet is different. Klaus has what we hope is a long life ahead of him. We weighed the risks and outcomes of the surgeries and took a gamble financially that seemingly has paid off in the end. We have a dog who is ready and waiting for the go ahead to run and play again. *Though ask us this question again should we be faced with a THR on the left (I am leaning towards an FHO should the need arise).

The only advice I can give other pet owners is arm yourself with as much information as possible and really talk it out. Make a list of pros and cons. If you pray, pray. This decision as difficult as it is, is yours alone to make. All you can do is keep the love for your pet in mind, and everything else should fall into place. I hope other pet owners find solace in that.

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OH MY GOSH!

My apologies a million times over! Where the eff have the weeks gone!? Would you believe we surpassed the 8 week post op mark and I didn’t even commemorate it with a blog post?!

I am terribly behind on everything it seems. The thing is, time got away from me. It was Thanksgiving and then I was flung into the holidays- my most favoritest (yes I said favoritest) time of the year- so the focus turned to the tree.

Which last year I didn’t bother putting up. I was so tired from Klaus’ antics I don’t know if I could bear to keep a constant vigil on the tree while he was still teething and up to no good. But! This year considering he has had to be crated I said ‘to hell with you Klaus’- I am putting this tree up.

You know what? I did and he barked the whole freaking time but he will learn to love and leave the tree alone. I don’t have many moments of joy in my life, what with his incessant barking (yes he is still on lock down but we will get to that shortly), so being able to look over and see the tree all aglow, has had a considerable calming effect on my psyche. Check this glorious sight out!

I put this beast up all by myself. I dragged the bag up from the basement and put it together and decorated it therefore my “stupid jester hat” tree topper will continue to remain the supreme leader in tree topping decorations, or until my husband wants to lend a hand and have a go with his boring star topper! Ps- did I mention he is stupidly allergic to pine so I have had to resort to a fake one? No matter, it means I can leave it up longer without worrying about watering it.

Onward!

Following the raising of the tree I discovered Klaus had what I could only assume was ring worm. I tried to best capture it in photo form but it was in his ear and he was such a a baby about me touching it.

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It’s hard to see, very faint in this picture but you can see the bottom half of the “ring” right where his ear tattoo is. At first I thought I had rubbed his ear a bit too hard after cleaning it one day, the ring looked like an irritated vein. However the next day it was obvious- or so I thought, that what I was looking at was ringworm. All I could think was how in the sam hell did this happen?! He had been crated for weeks. But then I thought well maybe he picked it up on the walk? In my self diagnosis research I learned picking it up from outside is rather rare.

Because Klaus has an implant that can never be attacked by any sort of infection we nabbed a saturday appointment with the vet and she was just as perplexed. It looked like a duck but it didn’t quack like a duck- meaning it didn’t fluoresce under black light like ringworm usually does. They took a swab and sent us home with some meds and I cursed Klaus for continuing to surprise and perplex everyone- at the expense to our dwindling bank account. In the end it wasn’t ringworm thank god because I went into total grossed out panic mode. Washing everything. Wiping everything down. Hand washing the floors with a diluted bleach solution. Which is good in preventing it from spreading, but my intention was to prevent myself from picking it up! In hind sight if it was the worm (which is misleading as it really isn’t a worm but rather a bacteria, but still gross!) we all would have gotten it!

After that debacle was a weekend of two craft shows I was tabling at. One was a total success actually my best one yet. The second one, not so much. Here is a picture of my table from the first day.

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Just a taste of the handicrafts my busy little hands have been working on. I am trying to broaden my scope and reach with more markets as I want this to no longer just be a way so supplement my freelance work- but rather a viable and fantastic way to make some money!

I still feel a little light headed from the last two weeks and I am trying to remember if there was anything else that had my head in a whirl spin! Oh yes, one of my larger design clients had soooo many things for me to do to get ready for the new year. Everytime I checked something off the list I looked to see 3 more were added. Things are slowing down now, at least for the next two weeks but soon after that we are launching a new look which means all the packaging- think 30 years plus of products, need to be updated and photographed. Honestly though I am looking forward to this!

Anyways, KLAUS. Yes let’s talk about Klaus for a moment since this in fact his blog. He will be 9 weeks post op this Thursday. Friday he will have his radiograph recheck and I am almost positive he will be in the all clear. Things mellowed out for a little while when we started allowing him to chill with us on the floor. We stopped one of the anti-anxiety meds because they were having the complete opposite effect on him.

His poor crate! I will take some pics I promise. We tried to reinforce it with clasps that he has stretched out. He has the bars bent in a few places. Last night he freaked out so badly he broke open again! I come home to find the crate has moved 3 feet from the wall! I can not wait to get the all clear so we can start working him again.

He is sitting more square than I have EVER seen him, even leaning on his operated hip to lift his leg. I don’t see him in any pain really though I tend to give him a pain pill if we had a walk during a cold day as the temp seems to affect him. The only true concern I have is his muscle atrophy. I know it will be some time to build it back up, but if only you could truly see and feel how lumpy his leg is- between the bone and implant, it’s just gross feeling.

We didn’t get him into rehab. We just didn’t have the extra money sadly, so I worked on what I remembered- stretching, massage, exercises etc. The walks I think are helping immensely.

Here are some pics of the brat….20121208_001808

He’s been super cuddly lately which I love! I have never had a dog be so independent- he feels like a cat sometimes- “no pet me only right this second”.

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And just because I can and because this is what I see more than I would like to, I thought I’d share this gem. Klaus will be neutered as soon as we can financially do it and most definitely when he gets the all clear from the surgeons on his hip. Fingers crossed he chills out, though I have heard mixed things about their temperament after a castration.

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RIP Drake

Not to rain (or snow) on anyone’s terrific weekend but this is such a terrible tragic story that deserves your attention.

http://cbs12.com/news/top-stories/stories/update-retired-k9-drake-has-died-3301.shtml?wap=0

Drake, a retired K9 officer, was shot 4 times during a burglary at his owner, Highway Patrol trooper Bobby Boody’s home. Get this, by a 16 year old who was staking the place for more weapons?! He was beginning to look like he was going to make a positive turn but the vet feared the wounds in his neck were too severe. His suspicions were confirmed when he flew him to have a cat scan done. Sadly, he had to be put to sleep.

If you are as saddened and outraged by this story as I was consider writing to the Office of the State Attorney – Peter Antonacci -State Attorney 15th Judicial Circuit, State of Florida.
401 North Dixie Highway.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401.
561-355-7100 (Phone)
561-366-1800 (Fax)
1-800-353-3859 (Toll Free).
Email: StateAttorney@sa15.state.fl.us

Below is a form letter written by a member of the German Shepherd Dog Community on Facebook:

I am writing you today in reference to the burglary of Trooper Boody’s home and the subsequent shooting death of his retired police K9, Drake. I believe that the audacious act of violence on the “juvenile shooter’s” part indicates an extreme lack of conscience. This burglary was planned well in advance in spite of the fact that he was already on probation and being monitored with GPS device for a similar offense. The suspect shot a defenseless animal who was trying to defend his home through a glass door. He then shot him again multiple times with absolutely no remorse. Due to the fact that his goal was to gain more guns and they targeted Trooper Boody’s house for that sole purpose, we believe that he needs to be tried as an adult and punished as same. He and his cohorts need to be put away for a long time not only as punishment for what they have done, but before one of them kills a human innocent. The violence, damage, and heartbreak around the world that they have already caused calls for nothing less. Drake’s soul cries out for justice. Please do not let his death be in vain.

Sincerely,

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Give thanks

On this day (after)  of giving thanks, I can’t help but think of the obvious things I am thankful for…..family, friends, a roof over my head, a kitchen full of food- albeit frozen and mostly in need of preparing, etc.

You know, what everyone is thankful for. Usually.

I must interrupt this bout of obvious with a splash of sass.

I am coming off of a three day bender of Klaus’ tantrums- one lasting 8 hours- this occurring after I ran all over hell’s creation running last minute errands. All I wanted was a moments peace to sit and drink a blasted cup of tea! Alas there is no such thing as a moment’s peace in a house with a 5 weeks THR post op dog.

Couple that with his tantrums starting at 8 in the morning these last two days I’ve reached my stress level mental breakdown limit, to say the least. At this point in time, I am thankful to still be able to hold onto any shred of sanity. Here is a 25 second clip of one of his tantrums. I apologize for the darkness but it’s only the audio you should concern yourself with. This is also early on from his surgery so imagine this for 8 hours straight but louder and more intense. I will snap a photo of his crate that he has bent as well so you can hopefully appreciate the intensity of his freak outs some more!

Another thing I am thankful for? My hearing. I seem to be unable to shove my earplugs far enough into the canal to even take the edge off. The fact I can still hear, is a testament to the lack of damage I have done (and Klaus has done) thus far.

I am thankful I haven’t given in to the drink, because lord help me I have considered all the things that would take the edge off. And that my dears is just too reminiscent of my father’s alcoholic days – and in the end just really pitiful.

I am thankful we can begin short walks with him this week because I foresee them helping to tire him out. He has had two already and he has done great- though he wasn’t as tired as I had hoped after.

I am thankful my husband is now truly enlightened to Klaus’ over the top tantrums and is more understanding to why I am in such a terrible mood 12 plus hours out of the day.

One day at a time right? I am trying to stay realistic about the situation, it is really stupid all around- especially for Klaus- he is after all the one locked up on the crate. It’s just very hard when one- you can’t hear yourself think to talk yourself out of a total cloud of rage and two- there is no moment of peace or joy during my day except when my head hits that pillow at night. I would think 5 weeks in, his tantrums and fits would be more manageable and tolerable, and dare I say less frequent? How is it things have only increased in intensity and terrible-ness?

In the end I really do hope everyone had a moment’s peace to relax and enjoy their family and friend’s company. I am also very thankful for the opportunity to have left the house yesterday and shared such a beautiful meal with my in-laws!

 

 

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The half way mark and mid morning muggings!

Can I just exclaim to the whole wide world the immense beam of joy that I am feeling, meeting the half way mark of Klaus’ post op!?

Because despite the ulcer that I have more than likely developed, stressed induced by Prince Anxiety himself, WE ARE HALFWAY THERE!

Of course we ARE assuming he is healing as he should be. But still. Only 4 franken more weeks of this crate nonsense.

Next order of business. Mid morning mugging. I was not mugged but still am super upset that a neighbor two houses down was! During the day! 11 am to be precise!

I take this and any and all stupid bullshit that affects my neighbors and street in a negative way, very seriously.

We are blocks away from a not so nice street and just about in the student housing area of the university neighborhoods. We’ve had stupid stuff happen- car break ins, vandalism, etc but never something serious like this.

We have a neighborhood watch group as well as a streetwide Facebook page that keeps everyone connected. We are a strong knit group who get together for parties and picnics. We are the epitome of the 1950’s “can I borrow a cup of sugar” type neighborhood.

The good news? Our postman came to the rescue and stopped it
http://mobile.syracuse.com/advsyra/pm_29245/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=67R8xqnP

Even though I don’t know his name, I thank him and appreciate what he did! So thank you Mr. Vigilante Kick Ass Postal Carrier! Seriously.

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Three weeks!

That’s right folks, it’s been three weeks since the surgery and you can color me surprised by how fast Klaus has been healing.

Yes he was walking the day of surgery but aside from the shaved fur you’d never know he had surgery! He’s so full of energy. Here’s a pic of his fur pants growing in. The incision looks great.

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It’s all so exciting but terrifying all at once! He is back to barking and freaking out at the neighbors. He is pulling super hard on the leash. His tantrums haven’t subsided.

The other night Klaus broke out of his crate! Thank goodness we were home. But I hope that paints a better picture of the type of energy we are dealing with and trying to contain.

We have reinforced his crate and thank goodness Cornell sent us new meds to try. We are unable to increase the dose on the trazadone so we have another rx in our arsenal.

Next week we can start rehab. Though we can’t afford it right now we are going in for one appointment so we can get a refresher course on the types of exercises we should be doing. Also we can begin three short walks a day.

Which I have to say I’m super excited about. The other day all I wanted was to take Klaus for a walk. I wonder if any of my neighbors would let me walk their dogs?

He’s sitting straighter in the hip and even stood on his right leg to pee! Pretty mundane to most but a big deal for us. I look forward to next spring when we can get back to puppy play dates and back on track with his training!

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Death to the “idiot collar”

We removed his cone of shame, and not a moment too soon! I don’t think it would have lasted another day.

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That was two days ago. Here is what’s left…..

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He is definitely a much happier pup. Way more comfortable that’s for sure. I even caught him sleeping on his back, paws curled close and pointing to the air like the good ole days!

I was able to grab one last “tug at your heart strings” shot last night before we removed it…..

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When he stuck his big little paw through the crate for me to scratch, I actually forgot what a little shit he’s been. I know, I know. What do I expect? He’s bored and cranky and wants out.

Perspective.

Two weeks. Now that’s perspective! Things get easier each day that passes. The idiot collar removal has helped his mood and from there it has been a domino effect. Less stress all around!

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