Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week 3 Recheck Appointment

Taj on his way to the vet in style!
So far so good! Dr. Rider said the leg looks as it should from visual inspection. The pin sites look great. There is still slight discharge now from 3 of the 16 pin sites (these are the pins on the top 2 rings that go through more muscle mass). Taj licks this pin site especially; we need to re-engineer the comfy cone a bit since Taj has mastered the art of licking around it.

For some physical therapy, we can start to rock Taj back and forth (front and back, side to side) on the leg a little bit to help him to start to put a bit of weight on it. He has been putting some weight on the leg especially on softer surfaces (e.g. carpets, blankets, grass), but he tends to not want to put much weight on the leg on concrete or asphalt surfaces. We can cut back the Tramadol to only as needed for pain management (usually 1 pin every 8-12 hours now). Taj can also go for longer wagon rides now pending he doesn't move too much, walk, or try to jump out - woohoo!

Pathetic saluki gaze waiting for our appointment
Mom writing down her list of questions... she is pretty "thorough"

Dr. Rider inspecting the 16 pin sites for discharge

Dr. Rider inspecting the pins for tightness

Dr. Rider inspecting my joints and flexibility
Dr. Rider showing mom how to rock me back and forth for PT

A clean bill of health - yay!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Taj's First Neighborhood "Walk" Post-Surgery

Go Mr. T!
Curiously intrigued...
Today we went on a big two-block wagon ride around the neighborhood. Taj was a very good boy and didn't try to get out of the wagon at all despite my "Lemuel Gulliver "safety tie-down method (I really wanted to ensure this is a safe experience for my recovering dog - and trust me sight hounds are always on the watch for prey). The ties are give and take, relatively loose, but tight enough that if he attempts to stand, he won't be able to bolt out.

We saw dogs in yards, hundreds of squirrels, and even one c-a-t, but he stayed laying down... until we saw a bunny - thank goodness for the tie-downs. This is his 'mental health' break for the day and he genuinely looks forward to it. He gets tons of stimulation: sights, scents, and sounds. Hopefully we can build up to longer wagon walks with time, but we're playing it safe for now.

Hopefully as he heals and the bone hardens, the wagon rides will be needed less. Eventually he will start to be able to build up some walking capacity on the leg, but not until after the first post-op x-rays (at 4-weeks). 

And they're off!

After the first block Taj kept looking at me and throwing his head up and around a bit. I bent over to check-in with him and he gave me a big kiss on the cheek. Very touching because when we normally go for walks (before the leg break happened), Taj always gives me a "leaping kiss" at the start of the walk as a 'thank you for walking me' gesture. He'll look at me intensely, then randomly jump up in the air - off all fours - and tap me on the cheek with his nose. I think all the head-tossing in the wagon and looking at me was his way of getting my attention so he could give me his modified-version of a leaping saluki kiss.

Very happy dogs

Taj checking out his hood
This would be perfect if only I could pee on the trees!
Success and a tired saluki!

Taj Crate Modifications and the B-Spec Wagon

 Modified crate with quilted bumpers

So I wanted to post a bit about how I modified Taj's old crate (which I first had to go find and pull out of storage). I created "bumpers" around the crate with quilted padding fabric. These are simply held up with string via holes cut in the fabric and tied onto the crate at regular intervals. I attached the bumpers so that his fixator braces can not catch and get caught between the crate bars. Taj also likes to sleep on his back, and again with a leg in the air, the quilting acts as a buffer system. Taj primarily uses the upstairs exercise pen at night, and I typically have the crate in the kitchen so that Taj can watch me while I cook.

I also worked on some minor modifications to the wagon - removing the front panel so that Taj can let his legs out freely. I'm trying to figure out the best way to secure him in the wagon so that if I am walking him myself I won't have any fear that he will jump out. I put Taj in the wagon today and just pulled him up and down the driveway to get him used to the idea of going for a new kind of ride.

Taj being very patient for his seat adjustments
Our installation lap

Woah, way too much mental stimulation for today...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lounging with 'Lukis

My 'kind' friends decided to take these pictures of me passed out exhausted in various places in the house. I think it takes more energy to manage an immobile saluki than a mobile one. Between work, life duties, and caring for Taj ... all has caught up with me. Carrying Taj about has taken a bit of a toll on my lower back too, but luckily for me with all the TLC he is doing much better and can just about hobble everywhere now himself (except for steps)!

Passed out before doing our nightly leg cleaning...

Stealing a nap with my Roo on the couch

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I am coming for you...
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light..."

- Dylan Thomas

... in my saluki pseudo-rage

"This being {saluki} is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- The Guest House, Jelaluddin Rumi, (translated by Coleman Barks)

Morning sunbathing in...
"Fall in love in such a way 
that it frees you from any connecting. 

Love is the sou'ls light, the taste of morning, 
no me, no we, no claim of being. 

There words are the smoke the fire gives off 
as it absolves it defects, 
as eyes in silence, tears, face. 
Love cannot be said."

- The Taste of Morning, Jelaluddin Rumi, (translated by Coleman Barks)
...the taste of morning

Another kind of Waggin'

Taj has been in his pen for about 2.5 weeks now and every time I take him out he always looks longingly past the gate towards the road. For the first couple weeks I didn't want to move him at all while the bone was healing. However, because I am a softie, I started to brainstorm how I could take him outside for a "walk."

I finally had an epiphany and headed out to Tractor Supply todday to buy a guardian utility cart. Originally, I was thinking a bright red radio flyer wagon, but I wanted something with higher sides and Taj is too long when he sits to fit in a regular child wagon. 

I checked with the vet, and he said as long as he was not walking and there was no risk of him jumping out, the wagon was a go! We would start with small walks and work our way up. We'd stay on smooth roads because I didn't want to jar the leg about.... Best of all, now I can ask Taj: "Do you want to go for a roll"?

Rumi graciously volunteers to be our guinea-dog

I join in to test out the wagon's 'heartiness' factor...

We concoct a makeshift doggie harness / safety belt..
and we're off for a for a test drive
Roo's pilot ride is a success!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jail Break Attempt #1

Taj contemplating his escape...
(possibly to get away from his horrible 80's style floral comforter!)
Taj has been feeling a LOT better lately and is much more mobile in his exercise pen. He seems to have a burst of energy from 7-9PM at night. I was cooking dinner later and the smell must have been too much for Taj because after gnawing at the locks on his pen, he decided that we was miraculously healed and that it was time to plan his escape. Taj decided the best way to do this was to rear up on his hind legs and half dance - half jump his way to freedom.

Luckily, my friend Mat was on "Saluki Watch" duty and was there to do a dramatic leap to catch him and successfully intervene so that Mr. Taj did not impact the ground. Ugh! This of course made me very weary, so Taj spent the night in his crate.

Escape foiled by new clear tarp roof!
The next morning I ran out to the fabric tore and grabbed some supplies. My experience at an engineering school (go WPI) was coming in handy! I strung up a quick exercise pen roof. Total cost was: clear tarp ($6), string ties ($6), hole punch ($3). The exercise pen is 48" high, but I strung the tarp at 36." This is high enough to let Taj sit and stand, but not high enough for him to attempt another escape. The clear quality of the tarp lets the light and sunshine in too! Thank you to Mat and Roberta for their help!

Taj checking out his new diggs!

Low Tech Solution: Clear Tarp, Hole Punch, String!
The face of innocence.

Taj still gets sunshine and his window view!
Taj's favorite pastime: Window watching

Taj plotting... no Saluki is ever truly defeated...
Plenty of head room...
This is a quick shot of Taj's "upstairs palace." This exercise pen is only 36" high. I bought a GoGo Exercise Pen UV Top / Cover in hunter green for $15. It is quite sturdy and has straps that attach it to the pen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Comfy Cone Gift Pack Arrives!

Because we were having some trouble with the clunky, dreaded plastic Elizabethan collar, Taj's best buddy in Massachusetts, Rich, sent him a HUGE gift package with lots of fun things to play with while he recovers. The package included a "Comfy Cone" which is a cloth e-collar alternative.

Taj gets a Snoopy card... how nicely wrapped!
There are yummy things in there....

Baby Roo can't resist the smells and excitement...
Rich went all the way to Boston to go to the Polka Dog Bakery to buy some delicious treats! Taj is a big fan!

Boston Treats from Polka Dog Bakery!
Salukis Bliss! Are these all for me?!
Taj's bounty includes: odor-free bully sticks, freeze-dried beef treats, a pig ear, a cow snout, a lamb ear, a buffalo chew, a comfy cone, a squeaky bird, a squeaky face, and three Kyjen squeaky eggs - these are such simple little toys, but Taj's favorite! Woo woo!

We are very grateful to Rich for sending this Treasure Box of gifts and for all his well wishes for Taj's recovery.

Rich also helped to start this blog to document Taj's healing so we are grateful for that as well!
Taj can now "Tweet" on Twitter!

C'mon, mom!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Week 2 - Vet ReCheck Pictures

Week 2 Recheck at Metzger Animal Hospital

We had our 2-week post surgery recheck appointment today at Metzger Animal Hospital. Dr. .Rider inspected the pin sites and stability and everything looked great! We just need to keep our routine up for 2-more weeks and then we have our first post-surgery radiographs!

Taj was a trooper. He disdains veterinary hospitals. He has had to be put under anesthesia four times in the past 8 months (Ugh)! He had a hind leg skin abrasion that requires stitches in September, a dental in November, and then the splinting and the fixator surgery. Hopefully after the fixator is removed we can stay calm, safe, happy and injury free for the years to come!

I do want to give a "shout out" of appreciation for the vets, technicians, and receptionists at Metzgers (as well as VOSM). They always try to usher us into a room as soon as we arrive so that I can have Taj lay down and keep him quiet and undisturbed. They are really kind and positive and genuinely care for the well-being of your dog.
Did I mention that I am not happy to be here? Even though 
the technicians are very nice and give me lots of treats!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Week 1 Photos

Living Large in the Exercise Pen
Taj's new lifestyle consists of living in exercise pens for most of the day 24/7. He can come out for restroom breaks only (~5-10 minutes) for about 4x day. Taj has an exercise pen downstairs in the Rec Room (day pen) and upstairs in my bedroom (night pen). He also has a padded crate that I can move around the house (in the kitchen while I cook). I have to carry him up and down the stairs every night until he can use the leg better. The first week I have been carrying him outside and then letting him roam around and carrying him back inside (we have a small door step which I don't want him navigating quite yet). The leg seems quite tender at this phase.

Taj Sleeps most of the Day
I placed Taj's day pen beside the lowest window in the house so that when Taj feels better he can look outside and watch the neighborhood wildlife (birds, squirrels, etc) and look up at the blue sky and clouds. It also allows him to sunbathe and have fresh air, smells, noises. Taj has adapted fairly quickly to his new immobile lifestyle and is taking it 'in stride.'

 Research in humans has actually shown that if patients are given a room with a view of nature (a positive distraction) that they actually heal faster and require less pain medication (Science - Ulrich, 1984; Journal of Health Care Interior Designs - Ulrich, 1991). Viewing photos or painting of nature or being in a virtual nature environment can make a patient feel less anxious and distressed (Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation - Miller et al., 2002; Oncology Nursing Forum - Schneider et al., 2004; Journal of Clinical Nursing - Tse et al., 2002). For more information see Ester Sternberg's book.

However, for now, Taj sleeps most of the day. He sleeps mostly on his "good side" but I've noticed at the end of Week 1 he has also started sleeping on his "bad side" as in the photo. The vet said that this is alright and that in some animals this is instinctual to protect the injured leg. Occasionally, the first week especially, I would have to get up and help Taj reorient during the night because he would get himself in awkward positions. During the first week, I would take time to help him orient into a "sphinx" sitting pose to give his "bad side" a rest and massage it. I can't imagine laying on the same side for 24 hours a day would be comfortable.

Taj humors me by sitting up for his Week 1 photo.
In this photo you can see the bright green padding on the top of the fixator. I used foam and vet wrap to cover the top-most screw/bolt so that it would not rub up against and be abrasive to Taj's skin. You can also see how the leg is healing during Week 1 - still a bunch of swelling, but compared to Day 1, it is starting to go down!

Taj was not too hard to entertain this week. The combination of the trauma, drugs, and pain management kept him pretty quiet.

In a rare moment of awakening, Taj masters one-legged chewing