Friday, November 4, 2011

Something is Missing!

Can you spot what is missing?!
Sorry for the no-posts: everyone here is transitioning.

These pics are of Taj at rehab!

quit measuring me!

quit bending me!

quit stroking me!

What's this kid stuff?  I used to be able to jump onto counter tops standing still!

how did you know I just *love* water

mommy you will pay for this

...plotting... scheming...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week 13.5: The Good, the Bad, and the just plain Icky

We have 2.5 fixator weeks to go - and it can't come soon enough. We'll start with the good. The good is that Taj is putting much more weight on the leg again. We walk quite a bit longer - relatively speaking - still only 10 minute breaks but now it's mostly walking instead of standing and sniffing and looking around. His spirits are up, and he tries more 'dynamic' moves with it (e.g. leaps, spins-arounds, trotting - all of which I have to reign in). He's feeling much better.

The bad. His system isn't doing the best on the antibiotic (if you know what I mean), but that ends today (last two pills!).

And now, the icky. The past couple of days he has had significant hair loss on the one side of his leg. I will attach a few pictures (for education purposes) below, but if you are a hyper queezy person - you will want to jump to the next post (and not click these pictures to zoom in). I am pretty much immune to most grossness factors now. My guess is that this is due to a number of factors: 1) I cannot bathe the leg thus dead skin cells have been building up, 2) the salt solution I use to clean it is slightly abrasive 3) he has gotten to the leg to lick it a bit at night (beat the comfy cone - back to plastic cone). It look much yuckier in these photos I think than it is in reality. Regardless, I decided to call the VOSM techs for advice.

Icky hair loss

Close up icky-ness
The technician said that the reasons above are likely and that also with fixator cases towards the end of the fixator period - the leg can start to slightly reject the fixator - meaning (good news) it is due to come off soon! This means that the leg will become much itchier for Taj and the skin may feel slightly harder or courser to the touch. I am supposed to monitor the leg for inflammation (and/or being hotter to the touch), swelling, any pussy discharge, and any increases in lameness. Lucky for us (aside from the ick factor), Taj doesn't have any of those symptoms.
Not so much on the front of the leg...
...but a LOT on the outside.
She also warned to keep him from licking it 100% of the time -if possible- the next week. Sad for Taj but this means back to full-time muzzle wearing. No fun, but it's the home stretch! He still sleeps most of the day anyway. Dr. Christopher is gonna take a quick look at the photos I sent down to confirm everything is ok, and if so, we're just waiting for our 16-week (and last fixator) re-check on 8/18!

Poor Mr T., back to 24/7 Muzzle
Rumi keeping us entertained

Week 12: A Rumi Interlude

I've been trying to make a point to have some special time with Rumi since everything has become Taj, Taj, Taj. We've been to a few conformation handling classes, and I've taken him for some dog park trips and on a special hike.

I had the chance last weekend to shoot up to the Nita Nee (State College) Kennel Club shows for some show practice. This was our second show, and at our first show (in April) in Harrisburg, there weren't any class dogs/bitches.

Rumi relaxed and me intensely concentrating; 
his rear feet are back a bit too far but I'm learning!
Over the weekend, there were about 13 saluki entries on Sat and about 14 on Sun. I had the chance to meet a lot of saluki folks! I really appreciate all the advice and encouragement that people gave me. I am a total newbie to showing and Rumi's breeder (Deric @ Z'bee's) is in Michigan so it's been challenging. You can learn some things by email - but a lot is "live" experience.

My special boy - lining up for judging
We got a third on Saturday and on Sunday we got first and reserve winners dog (to a Major). Rumi was very well-behaved, I was very proud of him! I am working on getting him better conditioned (he has a little bit of weight to lose - it's challenging with Taj being out of commission). I am trying to learn the hang of handling - much harder than you would think!
Poetry in motion
I loved watching all the different types of dogs (lots of diversity in this breed) and really am grateful for the tips people kindly offered. Rumi is such a good boy and seems to tolerate the show ring well (even with his 2-second attention span), but I think his real passion though is in connecting with people.
Me learning that I need to let out the lead more...
 I have done some therapy work with him (he's a registered therapy dog with Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services - I nicknamed him "Thera-ROO") and after Taj gets better, I plan to resume doing lots of therapy visits.

Paying Homage to Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi - The Dreamer
I love to watch Rumi move - he is very graceful. Rumi was named after the Persian Sufi poet - Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. I chose his show name as "Z'bee's Homage to the Dreamer" with Rumi being the greatest dreamer and writer of beautiful poetry that pays homage to living life in the moment. His name is also a play on his personality. Rumi is a talker. He loves to chat and his favorite sound is a repertoire of various "Roo, Roo, Rooooos." One of his tricks for therapy work is that I will look at him and say, "Now, what's your name?" and he will let out a loud, protracted, straight from the lungs, "ROOOOOOOO." :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 11.5: Back to the Future @ VOSM

I have been emailing with the technicians at VOSM regarding the Exogen treatments, and they encouraged me to travel down to VOSM in Annapolis for our 12-week recheck appointment. We were about 1/2 week early for this recheck, but I was a bit concerned with how Taj has been using the leg the past couple weeks and wanted to have it looked at asap. We all piled in the SUV and headed down to VOSM - both Taj and Roo in tow. I took Rumi as a "therapy dog" and mental support for Taj. Rumi loves vets; for Taj, they are less than be to be desired.

Taj & Roo checking out the waiting room at VOSM
We arrived at VOSM early and waited for our recheck appointment with Dr. Christopher. VOSM has very nice bench cubicles that helps isolate dogs better while you wait for your appointment. Taj and Roo marveled at the large saltwater aquarium. Then, Taj then kept the neurotic look-out while Roo took a nap.

Roo mesmerized by the saltwater fish; Taj on look out!
Taj still on look-out...
Little salukis; big waiting room!

Our appointment time arrived and the technician took us back. We settled into the nice posh waiting room and the technician took Taj back to the "canine gym" so that his movement and leg usage could be assessed by Dr. Canapp. They also took some new radiographs. Finally, she bought a much-relieved Taj back to the waiting room.
Rumi explores while Taj is in the canine gym being assessed!

Dr. Christopher came in and gave us some good news! The healing is right on track for this time in the healing process. The 8-week radiographs showed moderate callus formation, but it looks like the callus is now MUCH bigger at ~12-weeks (Go Exogen Treatments Go!). Dr. Christopher was quite happy with the progress and said the fixator should be able to be removed in another 4-5 weeks! You can see the 12-week radiographs here! Our next appointment will be in 4-weeks (at 16-weeks) for the final fixator radiographs and an assessment to set the removal date. There are a few more places the doctors are hoping to see greater callus formation, but it looks like the Exogen is helping quite a bit. We will be continuing Exogen treatments for the next month +.

Taj disgruntled but happy the appointment is nearly over!

Dr. Christopher said that Taj may be using his leg slightly less for a number of reasons. There may be a very minor infection in a pin tract (although he could not see any visible signs of infection) so he gave us an antibiotic to use for 2-weeks (clindamycin - 300mg). The healing process itself may be causing slight discomfort - so if necessary - we can give Tramadol if needed. He also warned that if Taj jarred his leg against the Xpen etc that this might cause a bit of discomfort at the pin sites. We are to keep Taj as quiet as possible for another month!

Rumi being Taj's "therapy" dog.
Overall we got a big "thumbs-up"! We are STILL only allowed bathroom walks (10 minutes) a few times a day. We won't be able to build up any distance until the fixator comes off and the leg heals more. Taj is a trooper.

Taj has been feeling better - he has a bit more vigor in his walk and he wants to walk for further distances. He has also play bowed several times the past week to Rumi, and I am now letting him slowly walk up small half-flights of steps (not down yet though)! Despite being in an exercise pen now for THREE+ months (and one more to go!) he physique still looks decent considering.

We are finally seeing the end in sight! Slow and steady for the next month to the "finish line"!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 10: Exogen 4000 - Ultrasound Therapy

The vets at VOSM got back to Dr. Rider regarding the 8-week radiographs and suggested that because the bone healing is so painstakingly slow, that we try ultrasound therapy. Dr. Canapp suggested that we buy an Exogen 4000 Ultrasound Bone Healing System made by Smith & Nephew. This system is actually intended for human use and has been proven with clinical FDA studies to accelerate bone healing. I had a lot of trouble finding information online so this will be a fairly thorough post as I would like to "nerd out" and share my hours of research to help other dog owners.

Taj modeling with his new Exogen system
First off - Exogen was intended for human use. This means that you will NOT be able to buy a new Exogen system - you can only purchase them used. This means that you will have to go scouting on Ebay, Craigslist, or other creative avenues to track one down. New Exogen systems cost around $4,500 for humans. Typically insurance companies will cover most of that cost so new human patients likely pay anywhere from $200 - $900 for an Exogen system. On the "used" market, you will see the systems run anywhere from $100 - $500.

I will get into the science later in the post, but the system emits ultrasound waves (you cannot hear, feel, or see ultra-sound waves) within a range of about 2.5-3 cubic centimeters from where you place the transducer. This means, you MUST get the transducer right over the area that needs healing although with skinny dog legs - you have some leeway. One treatment on the system lasts for 20 minutes and you usually need to do one treatment a day. Exogen units are guaranteed for 150 treatments; however, I called the sales reps and they said typically the systems are usually good for 220 uses. After that their lithium battery can die and they will not adequately power up any more. The lithium battery is typically guaranteed up for 1-year; therefore, the newer the unit the better. The batteries can only be replaced by Smith & Nephew and they will only replace the battery if you are the prescribed owner of the unit. That means if the unit is for your dog - you are out of luck if the battery dies!
For example, this unit has 29 uses logged.
There are several things that you must be aware of when seeking to purchase an Exogen system.

1. Make sure the unit powers up before purchasing. Ask the seller to send you a photo that shows the full and partial uses left on the system. When you turn the system on it will flash how many full uses (i.e. full 20 minute uses) it has on it (a number flashes on the screen plus the ! symbol in a triangle - see above). Then it will flash a second screen that shows the number of partial uses (i.e. uses for less than 20 minutes). Finally it will flash a screen that starts the 20-minute treatment count down. If the unit does not perceive connectivity (i.e. placed on the skin with conductive gel), it will beep for 30 seconds then automatically shut off. If it does perceive connection for conductivity, it will commence the 20-minute treatment session. During treatment, the screen will count down (in seconds from 20:00) for the duration of the treatment while displaying a (((( symbol that means it is conducting properly. 

2. Ask the seller to send you a photo of the back of the unit which displays the serial number. This is very important! The first four digits of the serial number tell you the month/date the unit was manufactured. You want a unit that is less than a year old if possible to ensure that the battery will work for the duration of your dog's treatment. If the unit is older than 1-year, there is no guarantee that it will work (especially if it is 06, 07, 08, or even 09 model). 

3. The serial number is also important because the FDA recalled many Exogen 4000 units from 2008 and 2009. There were problems with the transduce that reduced ultrasound output. Make sure that the unit you are purchasing is not on this FDA Recall List.  

3. Realize the risk of your purchase. There is no guarantee that despite all these things the unit works. The Exogen does not buzz, vibrate, make noise, etc. If the screen displays what it should - it is very likely the unit is working. But if the previous owner mishandled it (like pulled the transducer wire system) it could possibly not work. I did a LOT of searching on Ebay and Craigslist (about a week) before buying my unit. I was comfortable with Ebay buyer I got it from and all the info he sent to me. Taj needs 60 treatments so I was comfortable with the unit having 20-something uses on it and it was manufactured in 2010. I ended up paying almost $300 for my unit (ouch!!! but that was the price to pay for a newer unit that I am confident will last all 60 treatments). Although the transducer does not vibrate I notice that I can almost feel an energetic microscopic "buzz" from it when holding it for 20 minutes to give Taj a treatment.

4. I would recommend buying from Ebay rather than Craigslist. I believe both Ebay and Paypal offer some guarantee when making purchases. A good seller will also offer at least a 1-week money-back guarantee that the unit powers up when you receive it and indeed has the number of uses displayed as advertised.

Also check out this guide - it's super helpful!
This is the Exogen ultrasound coupling gel needed to conduct the ultrasound waves from the device into the leg. If you run out of gel, mineral oil can be substituted.
The Exogen system contains the Exogen unit (white), the connective cord (gray),
the transducer (black circle), two bottles of conductive gel, wrist band attachment,
instructions, and a carrying case.
Conducting a treatment is easy! You just put some gel on the transducer and then hold it over the area of the break. I like to hold it on with my hand - as I find that easier than trying to rig up the strap (made for humans) around the leg. I keep a gentle firm pressure on it - but do not push hard. If at any time you lose connectivity the unit will beep and you have a 30s "grace period" to get the conductivity back of the unit will shut down. Taj usually sleeps through his treatments. Fine hair on the leg is ok - the vet said the machine should be able to conduct through it - more dense hair - you might have to trim or clip (but NOT shave)! The gel is actually very easy to clean off, and after the session you can just use a paper towel to wipe down the transducer and the leg.

2.38 minutes left of treatment! Look closely to see the ((( sign that indicates the unit is working!
Taj typically naps during treatment. I think he just assumes now
his mom is slightly insane for all the things I do with him!
Applying the transducer directly over the worst part of the radial break. You can strap it
on with the wrist band, but I find holding it snug (but not hard) over the break site is easier. 
So does it work? This page explains how the exogen system works. My science background sometimes makes me a skeptic, but yes I honestly believe this works - quite well - both from the research studies I've looked at as well as anecdotal experience. After just 10 treatments, the leg seems "harder" under the break (e.g. I can now feel the callus). There is now even callus extending far out to that farthest radial bone that was significantly protruding. Taj is using the leg more, trying to bounce around more, and putting a bit more weight on the leg - he's even play bowing to Rumi!

So how does it work scientifically? Prepare for a total dork-out moment.

Well if you read the Nephew and Smith website - they are all about "up-regulation." Now what the heck does that mean? ;) Luckily, I can finally put my undergrad degree in genetics to some good use. "Up-regulation" is a really generic term that honestly doesn't tell you too much! It basically means that the cells in your body are increasing the quantity of different cellular components - like proteins - that help you build RNA (which is related to DNA) that eventually help build cartilage and bone cells. You are increasing gene expression and protein synthesis - e.g. you are making more of the building blocks that will eventually create bone.

The Exogen unit creates ultrasound waves (mechanical pressure waves). These waves are created by synthetic crystals that vibrate at a particular frequency because of their geometries. Now I don't mean vibrate in a "new age" way, I mean they vibrate because you are pulsing electric current through them. The vibration creates sound waves - ultrasound waves - that can penetrate skin and tissue - neat huh?

These ultrasound waves travel through the gel through the skin and into the soft tissue in the leg at the fracture site. These waves then alert the cell receptors called "integrins" that "Hey there is a problem here!" and that "you need to speed up the up-regulation!" So this process attracts more integrins to be "on alert" and they start to cluster in groups together. When integrins start to cluster together, this signals to the cell that "we need more resources/support" so the molecules that are responsible for gene expression head into the nucleus (this is like the "brain factory" of the cell) and they start making more proteins (i.e. building blocks for the cell). The increase in building blocks and resources accelerates bone healing. The ultrasound waves also encourage the cells to get rid of their waste products faster which also speeds up healing and they encourage increased blood flow to the fracture site (which helps reduce swelling).

As an ex-biologist,  I also do like that there have been FDA clinical studies (and several other studies in fact) that have shown benefits of ultrasound therapy (Azuma et al., 2001, J. Bone Miner Res; Cook et al., 1997, Clin. Orthop. Rel. Res; Dijkman et al., 2009, Indian J. Orthop; Heckman et al, 1994, J Bone Joint Surg Am; Martinez de Albornoz et al., 2011, British Medical Bulletin; Nolte et al, 2001, J Trauma). You can also see these Bone Abstracts from articles for proof! In addition, several ex-athletes as well as some nurses I have talked to stated that they did notice improvements when using ultrasound therapy. Nephew and Smith (the manufacturers) claim that in humans the Exogen 4000: heals 86% of non-union fractures, that it heals fresh fractures 38% faster, and that it heals fractures with risk factors 50% faster.

Hopefully Taj's next radiographs will confirm these findings!

So if you ever need an Exogen - feel free to email me for advice. I will be happy to share with you the name of my Ebay seller and I will likely have a working unit with at least 60+ good uses on it after our treatment!

We are heading down to VOSM for our 12-week check-up soon - so stay posted!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week: 9 The Mega Slump

Well we were going strong and flying high through Week 8, but Week 9 seems to have become the mega slump - for both Taj and I. Taj is markably more bored, apathetic, and somewhat depressed... despite my efforts to keep him entertained. He has been living relatively confined now for over 2 months. It makes me sad to have to have to mandate such a drastic change in his lifestyle and I think we are now re-enforcing each other's "bummed out" states.

I tweaked my back again from lifting him up and down off furniture, stairs, wagons, etc. I also got a bug which had me in bed a couple days. Luckily Rich stepped in and has been helping me out a ton!

Taj doing his best to look totally bummed out
while taking a supervised bed break
Taj has been favoring the leg a lot more lately, which really has me worried. If I don't see any marked improvements in the next week, I am going to call the vet. He did really well - incrementally - up through Week 8, but with Week 9, I feel we are back-tracking. He will still put weight on the leg when walking, but when standing he will not put as much weight on it and it seems more "wobbly" to me. The leg is not sensitive to the touch, but he's been favoring his paw quite a bit. I don't know if maybe this is part of the natural healing process and a bi-product of hard callus formation? Also the protrusion from the fragment of radial bone that is the furthest out has been looking more pronounced to me, I am wondering if this is causing him any discomfort.

Slight discoloration of fixator leg paw pads -
I've been putting Musher's Secret on the pads to help protect them
Radial bone fragment protrusion slightly more noticeable (see bump)
Taj got to take a mini-trip out to the pet store and to a new wagon trail. This seemed to only mildly cheer him up a bit. He also got to see Rich, which again he enjoyed, but he's just not himself. I am hoping that this is just another phase in the normative healing process, but my "mommy" instincts have me worried.

Trying to cheer up Mr. Taj
More annoyed than cheery?
Baby Roo ice-cream steal!
New wooded wagon trail with Rich!
Rich puts on the Ferrari-style speed trying to get
any emotive response from Mr. Taj

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Week-8: Let there be Callus (and Rainbows)!

We have made it to the big landmark of 8-WEEKS post-surgery! Woohoo! We are now (hopefully) half-way through the fixator process - I think I've earned an honorary veterinary technician degree! ;)  

Taj is definitely feeling more active. I have to be much more careful with him now out on a lead. He will attempt to get up on furniture if I am not watching him like a hawk. Furniture is not allowed (unless I pick him up and put him on it, sit with him, and then lift him off). He cannot do anything that would incur the leg to impact the ground (aka like jumping off a couch or bed). He has also started to dig in place now (usually digging into his blankets). The vet said that this digging is not allowed outside in the dirt - although a little blanket digging won't hurt.

Waiting for the Vet, Taj is doing recon for escape routes!
Other than that a few of the pins were slightly more pink/red this week. This was due to a comfy-cone fail! Taj has figured out how to beat the comfy cone completely (with licking), so now I have to put on 3 collars in addition to the comfy cone at night (otherwise he'll slide it down his neck and work around it). It looks ridiculous - like he's some ornate giraffe, but we do what we have to do. This new collar methodology has worked and the pins are back to normal.

Dr. Rider said that the leg is looking absolutely great and that everything is going very smoothly! (I believe that's the equivalent to an A+ gold star for his home care). He said to just do the same exact thing we're doing - one more month. The olive wires and rings are all still very secure and the pins have very little drainage. It looks like it is healing well! 

Dr. Rider took new radiographs (you can see them here: radiographs). The gist is that the ulna is repairing nicely and that the radius, while slower to heal, is showing significantly more callus formation than at 4-weeks. This confirms my behavioral observations of Taj using the leg more (walking on it longer outside, attempting to jump up on things, new digging behavior, etc). You can see the new leg comparison photo here.

Looking at the new callus formation on the radiographs!
The radius is looking better, but still has a lot of healing to do!

We are still only allowed bathroom walks (10-15 minutes of ambling around down to one end of the block and back). Therefore, the daily wagon rides will continue through the next month until the 12-week appointment. I figure that I've now pulled Taj over 80 miles in his wagon (and am starting to gain the biceps to show it)!

This afternoon after our re-check visit, we had a brief thunderstorm and I ran outside with my camera to capture htis photo of a rainbow over our house. Hopefully this is a good omen for Mr. Taj! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Week 8 Radiographs and Update

Good news!

In case you missed it, go to the Monthly Radiograph Progress page to check out the X-rays and see what the vet has to say.

Decepticon Salukis!

Shooter & Hottie on set with Dawn Carlson and Patrick Dempsey
The third installment of the Transformers movie franchise Transformers 3: Dark Side of the Moon is out.  Surprisingly, there are two beautiful salukis from Aeolus Hounds of Southeastern Wisconsin featured in the movie as Patrick Dempsey's dogs!  My brother Jo and I chuckled in disbelief when they twice appeared on screen, rather beautifully I might add.  Salukis are the last breed I'd expect to see in a movie, let alone Transformers.
Very cool!
(posted by Richie)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taj's Insectophobia ... Taj = 1 : (Dead) Bug = 0

So another of Taj's "quirks" is that he is nonchalantly petrified of various and sundry insects. Yes, he has canine entomophobia. This condition, of course, has only been heightened and intensified by the relative lack of stimulation as of recent days. If he detects any slight insect movement in the house -within his super sighthound visual vicinity- he will let me know that I need to take care of the developing "s-i-t-u-a-t-i-o-n" pronto.

I have tried to explain this to many people, and finally was able to capture a glimpse of this on camera today. Taj was on afternoon insect surveillance when I heard the warning whine of utter appallment. I grabbed my camera to find that an unidentified insect had DARED to land on his clear plastic roof tarp and then promptly proceeded to keel over in a final act of insulting provocation: The outrage! The torment! The disdain! I am sure with his super sighthound acuity, Taj could see the bug superciliously glaring at him through his dead bug compound eyes!

Of course, I find amusement in some of Taj's "trials and tribulations." So as Taj was aghast as this tiny insolent alien invador was in his territory, I filmed away:

I know I should not encourage him...! I am, of course, at fault for this phobia. Several years ago, a really nasty looking bug was on the wall and instead of being the mature adult that I should be - I shrieked and pointed at it, acting terrified, and it imprinted on Taj. He took it to heart and from that day forth has become the ultimate bug watch dog.

I love how Taj has to wipe away the disgustingness of the dead bug encounter, rubbing his head on the floor, also a concurrent attempt to de-muzzle himself so that he can SNAP at it. Luckily, right after this incident, Taj settled right back down and promptly went to sleep! :)

Week 7: His Royal Highness's Daily Routines

Week 7 has come and is almost gone! Taj is definitely starting to be able to start to put regular weight on his leg (maybe bearing 85-90% now). When we do our morning 'walks' (all of about 700-800 feet round trip), he walks the WHOLE time (he used to hop half his way back) and this is with the tail-end of his pain-killer medication in his system.

To my delight, he has also started to do his myriad quirky Taj-like things (these started back around 6-weeks which is likely the point he started to feel much better and more like himself). In the morning he does his doga: starting with "downward dog" (a looooong play bow stretch back -hold for several seconds) ... followed by (the disdainfully named) "cat" pose (arching the back up high and leaning slightly forward and stretching out those hind legs!). 

The all-too familiar sight-hound position that
Taj managed to roll himself into this morning
When I scratch his back above the base of his tail he'll do his "dance" now where he high steps back and forth with his hind legs. He now is "talking" incessantly again and letting me know exactly how he feels. He also sits and looks out the window in his Sphinx-pose for large portions of the day. He now is doing his "scratches" again after he marks his territory ("I am Taj... There take that... You want some of this? I own this place!".... and he insists that we walk to the absolute furthest part of the yard possible - of course. Overall, it feels good to have the old Mr. Taj increasingly back!

Taj commends himself:
Looking quite pleased at this feat
I captured a bit of his absaluki ridiculousness this morning. His majesty (interesting "Taj" means "Crown Prince" in Sanskrit) rolled into a very comfortable sleeping pose. Any saluki or hound owner will instantly recognize it: on his back, legs splayed in every direction - the upside-down position of saluki sleeping glory. Taj hasn't been able to do this in a long time as it's tricky to balance the fixator leg, and he was beyond quite pleased with himself.

If there is an expression of saluki glee this is it!
I had to get to work so wanted to give him breakfast before I left (how dare I attempt to disturb him - I know I am heartless)...otherwise he wouldn't eat until evening. I can't leave the food in his cage. Taj likes to 'bury' things and that means the crunchies would be 'buried" (aka sloshed all over the place) when I got back. I tried to get him up, which he absaluki refused. He looked at me as if to say, "I will only eat my breakfast upside down today, mommy. Can't you see how glorious this is?" I obliged, " you wish, your Majesty."

As if this wasn't enough - he actually had the nerve to give me "stink eye" when the bowl was not "easy access" enough. "Tilt the bowl more my way, you human slave! I said a 45.5 degree angle! Now pat the bowl so the crunchies fall towards the bottom!" Half-amused, I took this as a sign that he is indeed starting to feel much better. 

Upside-down watering too: "Tilt the bowl, human slave, tilt the bowl!"

Yes I know, it's not best to feed your dog off the ground - let alone - UPSIDE-DOWN. But Taj was convincing (and he's fine now). I do use elevated feeders for the boys. My dad, a master craftsman, helped me engineer two feeding stations - which we built in his shop over a weekend. And yes, I actually measured the dogs to get the ideal height AND I decorated them. Fleur-di-lis for Taj of course and pretty blue flowers for Rumi!

Rumi and Taj's Feeding Stands

Close of up Taj's with Fleur-di-lys detailing, of course!

Otherwise, waiting, healing, waiting, healing... Our daily routine has become fairly set in stone now:

AM: Rise and shine, I let Taj walk to the stairs, then I carry him down. He walks outside and we do our ~800 foot "big" morning walk which consists of walking up the street one way (to the best vantage point) and then walking down the street the otherway (again to a good vantage point) and back inside (only allowed 10-15 minutes). Then it's breakfast in bed! After that is XPen time until early afternoon.
PM: Early afternoon, another bathroom walk. Back to the XPen. When it's cooler around 7-8PM we go on a 45-minute wagon ride around the neighborhood with Rumi - stopping to say hi to neighbors, neighborhood dogs, to smell bushes, look for bunnies, squirrels, and evil kitties. Another quick bathroom break and back to the XPen. Dinner Time!
Night: Then I usually take him out to sit with me in the evenings. Right before bed we do our half-hour pin cleaning session, another bathroom break, and then I carry him upstairs to his "bedtime palace" (i.e. upstairs XPen).

Occasionally we do fun variations when I have time that involve things like sitting outside on a blanket with a leash while I read books. We usually do 1-2 weekly field trips now where I'll either pull him down to Duffy's Outdoor Tavern or take a car trip with the wagon and then pull him around somewhere new.

I can't wait until we can start walking regularly again - hopefully we will see a nice big cartilage callous in our 8-week XRays next Tuesday!