Denny and Charlie (and the rest)
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Wednesday, 22 August 2012 00:17 by robbi

It’s been a typically hot summer here in Houston. Probably not as bad as we’ve seen – last year we had a stretch of weeks with temperatures soaring into the 100’s. This year has been a bit more typical with average temps in the high 90s with the normal high humidity. Not nice, but normal for this area. And of course with the high temperatures we’ve seen the disturbing reports of idiots leaving kids and pets in their cars. Far too many deaths due to stupidity.

Closer to home, our local rescue was notified that one of our dogs adopted out here in Houston had suffered a heat stroke by being left outside all day. She was a young, healthy pug.

It scares us. It doesn’t take long for anyone to get overheated in these conditions. Add to that a fur coat and a tiny little smushy face, and you’ve got a recipe for a tragedy. Throw in the fact that Denny isn’t as mobile as he used to be and cannot climb through the doggie door anymore and also the fact that Maggie is too stubborn/ignorant to realize she’s getting overheated and you can see why we worry about our guys. We usually leave the back door open so that the furkids can get in & out through the doggie door as they need to. But this year we’ve repeatedly closed the door to prevent them from going out unsupervised. If we’re home but upstairs we’ll close the door. It’s just that little extra precaution that makes me feel a bit better.

I love these guys, but they are dogs after all – not humans. They are not able to think as logically as a human and therefore don’t always make the best judgment calls. Anyone who says “instinct” will guide them to keep safe has obviously never heard about the sheep that plunge over a cliff just because they were following the sheep in front of them. These guys need us to use our good sense to make sure they are safe. It’s no different than a baby needing an adult to decide what’s best for them.

Charlie on his raft

Plus of course there’s the fact that if given half a chance Charlie will go unsupervised into the pool and then drip pool water all over our new wood floors….

August Updates

Monday, 20 August 2012 19:11 by robbi

My sincerest apologies, I had written this post a couple of weeks ago but was not able to upload it due to some Word/LiveWriter incompatibility issues.

Miss Maggie wasn’t feeling too well so we took her to the Vet for a check-up. Seems she was suffering from a nasty UTI, so she was started on antibiotics. She has since finished them and seems to be back to her usual feisty self.

Munch has also been battling an ear infection, so there’s been the joy of attempting to get ear drops in a very clever senior kitty’s ear. My best chance is to distract her with a saucer of milk – but I have to be quick because she’s figured this out and if she sees the bottle of ear drops she’s out the door before I can grab her. I will be very glad when her ears are clear!

Denny. Ah, Denny. Well he’s pretty much the same. He has good days and bad days. Weather permitting, we still take him out for walks but they are short ones. He tires easily and when he’s tired he stumbles. The back brace wasn’t quite the miracle we were hoping for. To be fair, we haven’t used it as directed. Firstly, the inventor came up with it as a corrective device for animals with traumatic injuries. The idea behind it was that it be worn nearly continuously after an injury until the dog healed. As Denny’s condition is chronic, things are a bit different.

The brace itself is extremely restrictive. It’s difficult for Denny to lie comfortably in it and he cannot use the bathroom in it. It’s fine if he’s standing, but Denny doesn’t stand around much. So we put it on him and he lays like a blob in his bed until we take him outside. Then the brace has to come off for Denny to do his business. Then he comes back in and he’s too hot to have it put on right away. So we wait until he cools down and then put it on him for a while. As it goes tightly around his belly, it has to come off when he eats. And so it goes.

When he does wear it for any amount of time, he seems to be in pain. While the nurse in me knows that is not necessarily a bad thing, the mom in me hates to see him like that. So far, the mom in me has been winning this battle and we haven’t been keeping it on him very much.

But just yesterday, Richard had him in it for a few hours during the day. He took it off of him shortly before I came home to take him outside for a bit. He said it looked like he was hurting, so we left if off the rest of the night. Denny was stiff and looked unhappy most of the night. Then this morning, he walked over to the edge of the bed for me to pick him up with his tail wagging – something he hasn’t done in the past few weeks. Then I took him downstairs and sat him down by the back door while I turned the kitchen light on and opened the screen door. I looked down only to see him scamper outside unassisted.

And so I guess we’re back to putting him in it for at least a few hours every day. I promise that we’re going to be more methodical about using the brace and tracking his condition. I know there are a lot of people out there waiting to see if this thing works – the least we can do is give it a proper try.

Vet Visits

Monday, 4 June 2012 17:43 by robbi

Well it’s been a couple of weeks of highs and lows! When last I posted, Denny had been measured for his new brace. We were told by the vet’s office that they would call us the next day to let us know it had been ordered, but I didn’t hear back. I called them the following day and was told that the brace was out of stock already! A couple of days of frantic phone calls back and forth, we were told that the brace was not out of stock and our brace had been ordered.

Last Wednesday we received a call saying our brace was in and Denny could come that day to have it fitted. We raced to get him there before they closed (the office is the other side of Houston.) We got him there, the brace fitted, and then put Denny on the floor to see him walk. He fell over! It turns out the brace was just a little bit too long and the back band was pushing against his hips making it impossible for him to move his back legs. A quick measurement confirmed that the two side pieces are about an inch too long. So, the vet told us he would contact the company the next day to see if an exchange could be arranged. We were so disappointed!

Thankfully, the office called us on Friday to let us know that the company agreed to an exchange and our new brace was being shipped out! We expect to hear from them within the next day or so to tell us the new brace is in.

Meanwhile, Denny had his check-up with his Rehab Vet on Monday. She did a chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture on our little guy, which he enjoyed. After reviewing his charts and his progress, she said we can stop the treadmill sessions since Denny is capable of doing regular walks now. His last two treadmill sessions he was able to go for a full 8 minutes, so his stamina has improved greatly. I’m happy that we don’t have to put him through the stress of the treadmill and don’t have to make the weekly trips to their office, but I am sorry that we didn’t see as much improvement in his gait as we had hoped. I guess we’re now pinning our hopes on this back brace. We will definitely be posting his progress.

PhebesOnBearMay2012

In other news, Maggie & Phoebe had their annual check-ups with our regular vet. We’re a bit sad, as the vet we really liked at that office has retired. He was just wonderful with our guys and even had Denny (who really hates being examined) wagging his tail and being cooperative. The new vet seems fine, but it’s not the same. It is so hard to find a vet that we really are in synch with; we’re really picky about their care and have often strayed into the “alternative” treatments for ailments over the years which makes some vets uncomfortable. It’s too soon to say if this new vet is a keeper or not, especially as the girls received a clean bill of health and need nothing further at this time. I sure hope it stays that way!

Denny’s Bracing News

Sunday, 27 May 2012 09:10 by robbi

For the first time in months, Denny did not have a treadmill session this week. On his last check-up with the Rehab Vet, she said as long as he was getting his walks at home he could start spacing out his treadmill sessions a bit more. So now he is on bi-weekly visits.

While that’s great – it’s nice to have a bit of a break from them – it kind of makes us sad. It seems Denny has reached his plateau with how much mobility and balance he is going to regain with the therapy. Her theory has been that with exercise Denny can strengthen his muscles to help support his back and maintain his mobility. He’s definitely better than he was when we started, but he’s not as improved as we were hoping.

So we’re starting to look around for other things we can do to help him. We actually ordered one of the back braces we had been looking at several months ago. It came the other day, so we’ve only had a small experience with it. It’s the Lil Back Bracer. It’s made of neoprene and has stays inserted into it (like boning in a corset) to help keep Denny’s spine straight. He tolerated us putting it on him very well and didn’t complain whilst wearing it. It does restrict his movement a bit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The only down side is that he got pretty hot when he was wearing it, so we took it off after a while.

The purpose of this brace is to support his back, not “fix” it. It was invented for dogs with Inter-Vertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) to give them some relief during flare-ups.

DennysLilBackBracer

I can’t say for certain if it’s helping, but Richard swears he saw an improvement in Denny’s gait immediately following his afternoon in it. I need to watch more carefully before & after next time to see. Maybe I’ll video him so I can compare.

We’re still doing his walks as weather permits, but it’s starting to get really warm and Denny doesn’t do too well with the oppressive heat. So we’re trying to make sure he goes out in early morning or evening and he doesn’t over-do it.

Meanwhile, we got some exciting news this week! The back brace we had looked at several months ago is finally in full production! I had previously posted a link to the MB Spinal Brace website, but it was still in the prototype phase. Now that it’s being manufactured, we have taken Denny to see the Vet who told us about it so that he could be measured for a custom brace! We really liked this Vet – he was very knowledgeable about new procedures being tried and was very excited to have us want to be involved with this new brace. Denny will be the first dog he has had try this, so he’s anxious to see if he gets any relief.

Denny had his chest, belly and spine measured so that he could get the right fit for him. The Vet is going to order the brace and we’ll take Denny back to have him apply it. It consists of a band of material with curved metal inserts that goes around his chest, another around his belly and adjustable metal rods that go down his sides connecting the two parts. It is supposed to hold his body in alignment so that his spine can be straightened. Right now he has a very rounded spine with his back end sloping downward. This device sounds very much like the adjustable back braces that are used for humans with scoliosis, so the theory makes sense.

As this is so new, there really isn’t too much proof behind it but the inventor has several videos on his website of dogs he has been treating with his prototypes. The results are very encouraging. If Denny’s problems are the result of his spine compressing on his spinal cord, then this should alleviate his symptoms. If we see no improvement, then his problem is probably the spinal cord itself deteriorating. Either way, this should give us some answers.

That’s definitely been the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal – nobody has been able to definitively tell us what is wrong with our little guy. So, we’re going to keep trying everything we can so that we can hopefully find something that will make him more mobile.

We will post photos of the brace once it has arrived!