Update on Princess Joella

Got a call from our vet today. The ortho vet said that maybe perhaps there might kinda sorta be an itty bitty fracture on her foot. But compared to the inflammation and that small bone out of place, it would not make the treatment any different. Because this is Jo’s good leg, we are going to be keeping it in a splint for SIX weeks. She is not going to be happy.

Because of the snow and the mud and her falling into both every day, we’ll be taking her in later this week to have the splint changed. It is rather dirty and if it is getting overly wet, that moisture is on the inside, irritating her skin. We briefly discussed an actual cast but decided the weight would be too much.

It is a really simple splint covered with gauze and vet-wrap.

This was her other bandage after her surgery a year or so ago. Much larger.

Joella

Joella, my retired Service Dog, had surgery on one of her back legs a while back. Nearly a year ago I think. Anyway, she’s been doing fine from that but this weird winter weather we’re having is making both of us feel the pain. Then last week she started walking funny with her back legs and started falling down. So since Lorna was taking today (Friday) off, I made an appt. for Jo at the vet’s.

They changed the appt. back an hour but with everything else we had to do, the extra hour gave us a chance to rest. Just as we were getting ready to go, it started snowing. Nothing new and different around here (and most of the nation it seems!) but when it started to actually lay, we opted to take Lorna’s Subaru instead of My Truck. Besides, it was lower to the ground and easier to get Jo up into it. We had no trouble going there, some white spots but not bad. Poor Lorna’s been driving so much in it lately! But by the time we were done and leaving, it was pretty nasty out.

But I’m ahead of myself. We love our vet. Dr. Knepshield at Charlotte Street Animal Hospital and all the gang there are, like, the best. Dr. K got down on the floor with Jo and started messing with her legs and…we wound up muzzling Jo. It hurt that much. That and she wasn’t happy, didn’t want to be there, and she hates to have her feet messed with. Hates it. So on went the muzzle. What Dr. K found was that Jo had a toe that was up really high and the entire foot was odd. Because of the first round of x-rays that showed something but we weren’t sure what (Rotties are prone to bone cancer), they knocked Jo out and x-rayed her again.

There’s these tiny little bones in dogs’ feet called sesamoids. We humans have them too and, actually, the kneecap is one. Anyway, one of these tiny bones was out of place. She sent the x-rays off to the ortho vet (the same one who did Jo’s surgery) for consult but we won’t hear back until Tuesday. These bones can come out of place because of a fracture (which she didn’t see) or from an injury that inflamed the foot and the bone becomes displaced because of the swelling. If this had happened to Jo’s bad leg, we would have noticed it immediately because she would not put weight on it. But because she cannot stand on just the bad back leg, she was forced to walk on both back legs. And because they both hurt and she was constantly dancing to not walk on either one, that’s why she was falling down a lot. I can sooooo relate.

The good news is that Jo’s hips look fine for a dog her age! No change at all from the previous x-rays. Her bad leg (the ankle) looks the same, no better no worse, so that’s good. And other than the foot, her other leg looks the same too. So this is excellent news.

The bad news is that Jo has a cast on her foot. They put on a special cast that allows her to put full weight on it and it is rounded to help her walk. But a stoned Jo with a cast does not a walking dog make. They gave her the anesthesia to knock her out plus a heavy duty pain killer to deal with the pain she’d have from them manipulating that foot so much and from the extreme tenderness she’s having with the bad leg. She was so stoned, they had to carry her out to the car on a stretcher!

Now back to the weather. The roads were bad. Mostly slush but some icy places and, of course, all the people getting out of work and trying to go home. What normally takes 20-30 minutes tops took an hour and 45 minutes! The traffic was unbelievable. We finally got out of the traffic near our last turn (at Leicester’s only red light) when the minivan in front of us also turns. We give him plenty of room to make the hill (it’s a horrid hill in this kind of weather) and…he doesn’t make it. We sit and watch him sit and spin. Finally, with me hungry, Jo whining, Lorna’s patience at a minimal, we go around. That little Subaru just went right by him, not a single spin or slip. We hated to leave them like that but, well…. Anyway, we made it home, got Jo and me in the house, and all is well.

I’ll have pics of the girl tomorrow. She wasn’t at her best tonight (she was so freakin’ stoned).

Joella’s Home!

We got to go pick up Joella this morning. While we were being given the long discharge instructions, we periodically heard a dog whine and moan and nearly howl. Finally I said “Somebody back there’s not happy.”

The lady looked up at me and said “That’s your Joella. She’s been talking all morning.”

She wasn’t in pain, she was just protesting I suppose. I didn’t recognize her voice because Jo doesn’t often make those noises. I had listened hard when we first heard the noises but I didn’t think it was MY dog. Ha.

Anyway, we brought my baby girl home. She’s walking fine on all four legs and they said that was fine. They don’t want her walking fast, though, nor is she to get up on furniture, play with other dogs, or jump. The list of don’ts is quite long. Right now Jo is up on the bed. She wanted in there. We put her on her new dog bed in the living room, in front of the heat, and with a blanket over her back and legs. She lay there for a while then got up and went to the bedroom. I tried to coax her into coming back out and she refused. So I helped her up on the bed (she’d’ve hurt herself less if I’d let her do it herself) and she is now sleeping like a rock.


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She has a bandage on her leg from the tips of her toes to just below the knee. The bandage has to stay on for a week. It is more for compression (they use fluid instead of gas during arthroscopic surgery) than for bandaging the little puncture wounds. In a week, we take her in to get that removed and to have the wounds checked. We’ll also get a chance to talk with the vet about her future and stuff. A week later, we’ll go back to have the stitches removed and to have the range of motion checked. If she is progressing well, we can start with short walks as her rehab.


(click for larger version)

They gave us a cool photo of four images they took during the surgery. My printer is not working at the moment or I’d scan it in and share it. I know, you’re heartbroken, right? The photos show the fluffy remains of the cartilage before, during and after their work. Kinda pretty in a gross sort of way.

Oh, I guess I never said what they’d found during the surgery! What they were looking for was a “pebble in her shoe” in the form of a bit of cartilage that had come loose and was either floating around or had re-adhered in the wrong place. What they found was nothing. There’s no cartilage left except for the fluffy remains. The top of the ankle bone and the bottom of the tibia have nothing left between them. So they cleaned the remains out (it looks fluffy soft but is instead like fluffy sandpaper, slowing wearing down and scraping the bone). So Jo has osteoarthritis in her ankle. She’ll be on anti-inflammatory meds the rest of her life and will have pain. A “pebble in her shoe” would have been a fixable problem with excellent prognosis. There’s no fixing this. At least I know how to care for her since osteoarthritis is one of my main issues. I’ll know that when I am having a high pain day, she probably is, too. How ironically convenient.

Joella’s Bones

For about two months or so, we’ve known Joella has a problem with one or both of her back legs. Joella is very very stoic. We can never really tell if she is in pain or not feeling well unless she somehow communicates that in her special, subtle ways. Over the years, we’ve gotten (kinda) good at reading her. One of the few signs that something was wrong was she would be standing and one of her back legs would shake like mad. The other, and the one that made us realize it was something big, was she started to not want to sit down. Everyone sits prior to getting their meal and Jo was giving us weird signals, telling us she couldn’t do it.

I took her in for her yearly checkup and the vet took a good look at her back legs (and other things as well, of course). Our greatest fear was she had “blown” the cruciate ligament in her knee. She was scheduled for some dental work the next week so while Jo was asleep, they took a bunch of x-rays. Those showed that one knee was quite arthritic looking, but stable. The other one looked better but was really loose, possibly from that ligament. We got an appt. to see a veterinarian orthopedist and that appt. was today.

We really liked Dr. Crouch and felt comfortable with his opinions. He feels it is NOT her knee(s) but one of her ankles. One of the knees has a bone spur like thing that might be causing some limitation, but is not the cause of the pain or the shaking. He feels that there is something wrong like a bit of cartilage is damaged or broken off or something like that. Joella had panosteitis as a teen. It is possible, according to this vet, that this growth problem caused some of the cartilage to not fit correctly.

We then had a long lesson in canine skeletal anatomy. When I was shown what the knee was and what the ankle was, I wasn’t surprised it was the ankle that was bothering her the most. Dogs walk on their toes. Those paw pads? That’s not the bottom of their foot, that’s the padding at the base of their toes. I readily admit to not truly understanding how the human versions relate to the canine ones. It never occurred to me that they walk on their toes. Once I realized that, then the rest fell into place. I had watched how Joella walked and how she was favoring what I now know is her ankle. I also noticed that it was larger than the other.

So next Tuesday, Joella will have arthroscopic surgery on her ankle. They’ll go in there and remove whatever is causing the problem. It could be as simple as a bit broke off and has settled in the wrong place or it could be that part of the ankle will need to be removed. We’ll be able to bring her home the next day. Recovery is simple compared to the one we thought she’d have to have (TPLO). She’ll be really limited for two weeks then can begin to go on short, short walks. We’re looking at about 6-8 weeks total before she is fully recovered. (for the TPLO surgery, this is how long she would have been confined to a crate and not even started rehab!) We will spend the week cleaning up the house some and making room for a dog bed in the living room. We have one that we got for PopCorn but a second one means the other dogs won’t hog it from her. I’m not sure yet what we’ll be doing for night time. Jo sleeps on the bed at my feet. Not sure if this will be allowed or not. Once she is over the surgery, we’ll be evaluating the rest of her leg (and the other one) to see what else is wrong. The vet thinks (and we agree) that repairing the ankle is the most important. With it fixed, any problem not related to it will remain. He believes that she will be fine and we’ll be able to control her pain via arthritis medication.

Below are some anatomy images of a dog’s skeletal system. I got the first image from Wikimedia Commons and the others are just snipped from it. It only shows the skeleton and not the ligaments that go into holding it all together. The vet had some cool models to show us and they included the ligaments. Wow. They were cool. And scary. They (dogs) look so big and strong until broken down into such a defined section. So much could go wrong. One bit not working can screw up the entire area.

Where Have I Been?

I dunno. I thought you were keeping track of stuff like that.

Actually, it’s been a matter of the season. We’ve had cold, wet weather here the past several weeks. That means I’ve been in pain. It also means I’ve been in a funk. The time change, the increased pain, the weather – all added up to one miserable Paula. Trust me, it isn’t pretty.

I couldn’t type very long but I could use the mouse. I have a voice recognition software, a darn good one, but I hadn’t the patience to deal with it. Instead, I got addicted on The Sims 2. I know, bad Paula. Blame my brother. It’s all his fault. I’m just an innocent bystander, er, bysitter, er, whatever.

I’ve also still been puppy hunting. Since donations toward a full-breed $1500 puppy did not appear (ahem), I backtracked out of that field and turned to the rescue groups. After talking to Joella (more on that in a moment), I also started looking for a male, slightly older than a baby puppy, and in a rescue situation. Tomorrow we go see one that meets that criteria. His current name is Happy and he is in King, NC. The rescue group and I have been emailing back and forth for nearly three weeks now and we finally meet Saturday. I’m nervous. What if he and I hate each other? What if he fails the various tests I need to do? What if….okay, stop that, Paula. Put down the clipboard and back up three feet. There ya go.

Back to talking with Joella. We firmly believe in animal communicators. Yes, there are bogus quacks who are tricking the owners and taking their money. And then there are legitimate ones. We know one of the legitimate ones. We met Patty Summers a long time ago (at Asheville Pet Supply, a way cool place)back when we had a bully cat (Pav) and his favorite target, Skiz. We took them to see Patty. It was our last effort to keep Pav. Either this stopped his bullying or he was going to find another home. Patty told him to get over his bastard self and to not be a bully. She nailed his personality down fairly well! And she got Skiz’, too. When we came home, Pav raced out of the crate and hid under the bed. He didn’t come out for dinner nor breakfast. For several days, each time he saw Skiz, he ran in the opposite direction. He was a bully just a few times more until he and Skiz settled into this glaring match that lasted the rest of Skiz’ life.

Later, when we got Jo, we took her to meet Patty, too. I wanted to make sure Joella understood she was a working dog, did she want to be a working dog, was she happy, etc etc etc. Animal communicators don’t actually speak words to the critter. It is more like images and feelings; they don’t have words like we do. When she “talks” to Jo, she usually has her eyes closed. So here we were, sitting quietly while she talked with Jo. Every once in a while, she would tell me what she and Jo were talking about. “She likes her fluffy toys,” Patty said. Jo had a stuffed elephant she loved. Suddenly, Patty bursts out laughing “No, Joella, no!” After a moment, and still laughing, Patty explained. “One of the fluffy toys moved. It’s your cats! Jo sees them as the household pets, as toys!” She told Jo that the cats were part of the household pack, just like she was. When we come home, Jo goes straight to her best bud, Mad Max. She lays her head on the ottoman next to him and whines. He reaches out with his paws, extends the claws, and grasps her muzzle. He then proceeds to clean her from nose to ear. Each time she tries to back away, he’d just drive those claws in a little more. She never chases the cats, never bothers them. They all have loved her and rub against her often. We took Jo a second time a few years later. Lorna had taken Jake (the dog that thought Lorna was a chew toy) and they got done early (no surprise there). Patty loves Jo so we went in and used the rest of the time. Like I said, usually the communicator is silent, eyes closed, and the dog just wanders the room. Suddenly Jo stops and whips her head around to stare at Patty who then promptly almost falls out of her chair laughing. Patty had asked her if she ever plays with Jake and Jo said “Are you nuts?” Jo is apparently quite the talker. She didn’t like the stinky shampoo we were currently using. She liked the smaller food better (meaning the cats’ food). And she puts things into a cool perspective. She made Patty laugh several times that first visit. One was when Joella seriously said, in response to “do you need anything”: “Sometimes, I just need a really good bone.”

So, I email Patty and tell her I’m looking for another dog to train but I need to first make sure Jo understands what is going on. That SHE isn’t being replaced, never will be. But I need someone for the job. A few days later, Patty and I talk on the phone with Jo in the room with me. Yes, she is fine with letting someone else do the job. But she still wants to go places. And she prefers a male because males are easier to boss around. Various other things were talked about (Jo wants more eggs) and Patty and I discussed what kind of dog I would look for. Rottweilers are a wonderful breed. They are intelligent, strong in both mind and body, and they are goofy clowns. They are a working breed that love to have jobs whether that is chasing down a bad guy or picking my keys up off the floor. Male rotties get along great with each other. Female rotties, however, tend to not like each other. A lot of the time, a female rottie won’t like any female dogs. So it is not surprising that Joella would prefer I get a male dog. I’ve spoken to various people since then and they all agreed.

And off we go Saturday to meet a 4.5 mos old male rottweiler. A far cry from the baby female I started looking for several months ago. But that’s how life goes.

Puppies, Puppies, and More Puppies!

As most of you know, I have a (nearly) constant companion named Joella. Jo is a big, vicious, mean, droolin’ Rottweiler.

Okay, so she’s not vicious. Nor mean. And she doesn’t drool. But she is big and she is a Rottweiler.

And she’s also my Service Dog. I trained her to retrieve certain things (Jo, where’s my shoes?) and to pick up items I drop (Jo, hand me my keys. Again.) and to go get Lorna (never really got Lorna trained to listen, though). Jo just turned 8 and it is time I got another dog to train as her SD replacement. Not that Jo is going to be happy about it.

It is weird for me to even be considering getting, on purpose, a full breed dog. I’m a mutt kind of gal. I’m not too happy with AKC and their “standards” which are based on looks and not much else. But I love the Rottweiler breed. They are sweet dogs with wonderful personalities. Most people agree that they are such clowns! And they are. I love that humor in Jo.

Anyway, full breed dogs cost money. Lots of money. One breeder from TN I spoke to charges $1500 each. I about crapped with that one. I understand it, though. Her close watch on genetics means that certain traits (including hip dysplasia) are almost eliminated. It also continues good temperament. While a happy dog won’t automatically produce happy puppies who grow up to be happy adults, the potential is high.

Perhaps what stops me with the price, other than the price itself, is that I’d be paying for a dog that is not guaranteed to be trainable as a Service Dog. Yeah, I’m taking that risk with any dog I get, even an adult. I’m not sure I want to spend $1500 for a pet. Know what I mean?

And I want a puppy. The youngest we’ve ever had was Zeus at about 3 mos. Joella was 6 months. I was there when Zeke was born but he died before he was 3 months old. There wasn’t time to really bond or to form much of a personality.

It’s also hard to spend almost as much on a DOG as I would a DELL.

So, donations are being accepted for either one!