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Archive for the ‘convalescence’ Category

One month

It’s hard to believe we’ve only had Charlie for one month, but yesterday was our one month mark!

Yesterday I took Charlie to the vet because he developed colitis or something very similar. He has an overgrowth of Clostridium in his intestines, so we were given a bottle of liquid Flagyl and some Benebac to give him twice a day, along with several small meals of white rice and chicken. His vet thinks the Amantadine may be causing an upset in his system, so we’re supposed to try 20mg rather than the 40mg dose. If he starts to show any pain, we’re supposed to move him back to his full dose.

His Prednisone is being cut back to every other day for the next 2 weeks, and we’re hoping he does well with that.

We’ve had lots of rain lately, and the dogs were getting too muddy in the backyard, so yesterday was bath day for all four. Charlie loves water and was very relaxed during his bath. My plan to keep the dogs (and house) clean is to walk them in the neighborhood until the backyard dries out or freezes. So yesterday Charlie had his first walk. I let him go at his own speed, and he spends most of the time sniffing the ground. We walked two houses away, then I wanted us to turn around to return home. Charlie likes walking as long as he’s in control; it’s easy to get him out but difficult to bring him back. I actually had to carry him back to our house. I’m going to take boiled chicken bits with me to see if I can start training him to be a better walking companion today.

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Good appointment!

Dr. A. is pleased with Charlie’s progress, and we all agree that Charlie is much improved over his preoperative status. His gait is much closer to normal and he can negotiate smooth flooring much better. Dr. A. says Charlie may continue to improve, or this may be as good as it gets – that will remain to be seen. But we all notice how much happier he is, and he’s much more comfortable with his body. He was actually affectionate with Dr. A. and his assistant, giving them kisses.

I’ve recently begun to notice a little bit of ‘flycatcher’ behavior, and I was told to just keep an eye on that; the Gabapentin may keep it in check. Charlie’s pain episodes are down to 0-3 per day from an average of 3-5 before surgery. His current episodes are related to defecating and also occasional tripping/falling (due to his weak front legs). Dr. A. said it’s o.k. for me to gradually change Charlie’s diet to Innova Evo, which I think may help regulate his bowels, and we are planning to strengthen his legs.

Charlie doesn’t have to return for any rechecks as long as he continues to recover well. He can begin to be introduced to normal life (freedom from crate and x-pen) over the next 2 weeks. He’s allowed to be in the backyard off-leash starting now, but our other 3 dogs cannot be loose with him yet. Charlie will continue to take Gabapentin, Amantadine and Prilosec. He is still on Prednisone, which is continuing to be decreased. He will need an MRI in 5-6 months, and we have to go to Pittsburgh PA to get a full length scan.

In two weeks Charlie can be evaluated for physical therapy. He needs to strengthen and build muscles. Dr. A. says Charlie has tetraparesis, a muscle weakness affecting all four of his legs. His hocks are slipping on his hind legs when he walks, and his front legs have nerve damage which appears to be permanent. So we’re hoping that by strengthening his leg muscles we can help Charlie stop tripping on his front legs.

Whew! I think that’s everything. We did talk a little about how quirky Charlie is, and I may decide to have him evaluated by a veterinary behaviorist in the near future. We just want Charlie to be the best he can be, physically, mentally, and behaviorally!

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Neurology appointment

Tomorrow morning Charlie has his 2 week exam with his neurologist. We’re eager to hear what Dr. A. will say about Charlie. I’ll post an update as soon as we return.

I didn’t get a photo of Charlie smiling today. He had a great big bark fest at dinner time, and now he’s sound asleep in his crate.

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Learning

We’re trying to help Charlie learn some manners, so he’ll fit in with our other three dogs after his eight weeks or so of crate and x-pen rest. Yesterday was the first day he obeyed the ‘sit’ command. I think he learned it from watching our other dogs, and it’s amazing because less than two weeks ago he couldn’t even sit like a normal dog!

This morning he sat before he was given his food bowl, and he was well behaved. Before today, he was very grabby, jumpy and barky, which is bad for his healing process and could cause scar tissue to form.

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I didn’t post yesterday because I was worried about Charlie. On Saturday afternoon Charlie had diarrhea with a little blood. I called the emergency vet at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital, where Charlie’s neurologist is. I was told to feed him boiled chicken and white rice with a small amount of cottage cheese. He ate that with gusto on Saturday night and on Sunday, but he didn’t have a bowel movement again for over 24 hours! He also had three pain episodes yesterday, and two of them were outside in the cold. I felt so sorry for him and also felt like a failure.

Sunday night was his last Tramadol dose, so I was very concerned about how he would be today. He had one pain episode outside this morning. Then just before my sister arrived to look after him today, Charlie wanted to go out and finally took care of business. We all heaved a sigh of relief!

I shouldn’t have worried about him today, because he had a very good day after all – no further pain episodes, napped well, and walked around on the lawn with his harness and lead. He has improved so much; he’s walking better than ever and seems stronger and steadier. This evening he smiled up at me from his x-pen; a real smile with his mouth partially open and his tongue out! I will try to get a photo of him smiling tomorrow, as he’s sound asleep now. Today was the happiest I’ve ever seen him!

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FedEx delivery today!

Today the FedEx man brought Charlie a special delivery – a wonderful step in harness and matching lead to wear outside! This came from Whitney and Spencer of CavTalk. We have been in desperate need of a step in harness, since the one we ordered last weekend won’t arrive until next week. Whitney overnighted one of Spencer’s lovely harnesses to Charlie – Thank you Whitney!

Charlie has asked to go out four times in two hours since it arrived, and he wanted me to put the harness back on when I took it off after his last trip outside. That’s his way of saying how much he appreciates it!

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9 days post surgery

Here’s a photo of our little man, nine days after surgery, having a quiet Saturday morning. He’s allowed to have toys as long as he doesn’t shake them or play too rough. Fortunately he prefers to use them as pillows.

Charlie woke me up several times last night to go outside, and he had a pain episode at 3:00am between trips outside. Otherwise he’s doing well.

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