Ain’t gonna sting, it ain’t no thing…

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is what my Dad says when he is trying to convince us that something is no big deal. My Mom and I are on to him, though. We have both pretty much figured out that contrary to that saying, it probably actually is going to sting some.

So, I had the second knee surgery, and my Mom and Dad kept me on a pretty tight leash, and just I suspected, there was quite a bit of pain. Those first six weeks were hell, but after that, things started feeling pretty good. Plus, right toward the end of July is when things really start heating up at the cabin. And I do mean that literally. It gets HOT.

Do any of you have even the slightest idea how hot a big dog like me can get when the outdoor temperatures are in the hundreds? Especially when you consider this lustrous fur coat that I’m wearing. Plus, it’s right about this time that we start having family weekends, and vacation weeks, and lots and lots of friends coming to stay.

I’m sure you can imagine the type of friends we have, right? It’s pretty true that dog people hang around dog people, so every weekend there was pretty much a new behind to sniff. On top of that, don’t forget that our neighbors have four dogs running around too! By the time my FAVORITE AUNT ROBYN came, I was healed up and ready to roll.

And good thing, because if I’m being honest, this is my favorite time of the year. It’s great swimming weather, and the nights are just beautiful. I’m pretty photogenic, if I do say so myself.

As good as I was feeling, we had some bad times too. I still wasn’t allowed to run with my Mom. She was going without me, and to be honest, even though I understood, I really didn’t like it much.  My brother Fletcher was getting pretty sick, and he was occupying a LOT of my Mom’s time. We had only had him for a few years, because my Mom got him from the shelter. She says “just in the nick of time”, because he was going to be euthanized. That word rings a bell to me, and not in a good way, so I tried to relate to him best I could. He didn’t even know how to swim, though. Seriously, what golden retriever can’t swim? My Mom had to get in and save him once after he jumped in the lake all cocky and sure of himself. Good thing she was there, is all I have to say. Anyway, after that they made him wear a life jacket, and let me tell you, he sure looked silly.

The thing is, we had only had him for a few years, because he was already old when he came to live with us. My Mom and Dad said he was quirky and that we had to be more understanding of his issues (whatever that means…sounds like a big fat excuse to me), because we didn’t know what kind of life he had before he came to live with us.

I’ll tell you one thing, he sure worshipped my Mom. It was a little embarassing really, I mean I love her too, but have a little common sense. There were quite a few times that he wouldn’t even eat unless she was around. And by this time they were feeding him cheeseburgers, so that was just downright silly to me.

Anyway, one morning Fletchie was having a seizure (talk about a flashback for me), and my Mom took him to the vet, and came home without him. I could smell him on her, but I could also smell the hospital, and something else that I didn’t really care for. More than anything, my Mom smelled sad, but I stayed real close to her to remind her that she still had me, and even though she wouldn’t take me running with her anymore, I forgave her, and I’d try to make her feel happy again, even though I knew she was real sad that Fletchie wasn’t coming home.

So, that’s what I did. I swam, and played and goofed around with the neighbor dogs. Frankly, I did things I wouldn’t normally do, things that are a little beneath my dignity, just to make her smile.  It worked, eventually, because she can’t resist me and my golden retriever ways. Even though I had to act a bit silly sometimes, it was worth it to see my Mom happy again. I guess you all know  by now that I would do pretty much anything for the people I love.


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well you know the rest.  I do have to say that I’m not very pleased that I have to go through this surgery again. At least now I know what to expect. And, on top of that, this time I understand what is going to happen. I’m pretty sure it was Abraham Lincoln (my namesake, on account of my size) who said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” When you get right down to it, that applies to a dog, too. Let me tell you, I just keep learning.

By now it’s early June, 2009, and my Mom and Dad’s theory is that if we do the surgery as soon as possible, I’ll be back in the water again by late July. They’ve been having a lot of discussions about this, and I’m starting to think that they don’t really understand how much I’m listening. My Mom knows I need the surgery. But I’m starting to get the feeling that for some reason she’s real worried about this one in particular. She said something the other day about “tempting fate”, but then she stopped talking, and just sat there and hugged me. Don’t get me wrong, I love our one on one time, but when she gets worried, I get worried.

I finally put two and two together (yes people, we can add!), and figured out that she is concerned about me being put through so many surgeries in such a short time period. To re-cap: Brain surgery in January of 2008 (big fat hooray on this one though, because I should be dead by now); Right leg TPLO in November 2008 (perfectly healed, according to the docs); Left leg TPLO scheduled for June 2009. This is one of those times I wish I could talk. I really wish I could tell her that I understand she is only doing what is best for me, and that I really love her for it.

Here’s the thing – My Mom always tells everyone that she loves how simple I am. Now don’t go getting all up in arms about that. She doesn’t mean simple, as in stupid. She means simple, as in uncomplicated. She always says that if humans could be more like me, our world would be a much better place. She likes it that I love what I love and that’s that. There are certain people I love. I love her. I love my Dad. I love my Aunt Robyn. There are certain things I love. First on that list, as I’m sure you know, is SWIMMING. That’s pretty much it. I know what and whom I love, and I commit to it unconditionally. Couldn’t be any simpler, really.

According to my Mom, though, human’s lives aren’t that easy. She told me it is hard for her to make the decisions for me that she has to make. She is worried that she isn’t doing the right thing. She says it is the most difficult thing in the world to make choices for the ones you love, because a lot of times you never know if it’s right or wrong until it’s too late. When she said that, though, I just shoved my head right into her hand, and made her rub my soft spot. I was trying really hard to remind her that even though most people told her the brain surgery was a bad idea, that she had made the right choice there.  Sometimes she’s a little slow, but eventually I think she got my message.

The bad side of this, is that once I convinced her she was doing the right thing, I KNEW I’d be heading back to the hospital. I have sort of a love – hate relationship with my vet. On the way in, it’s all good; on the way out, I wonder what I ever did to him. Why else would he keep doing this to me? Sheesh.

So, as I mentioned, here we go again. I’m back at the vet, and before I know it I  wake up and this time, my left knee is ON FIRE. My Mom always leaves a sweatshirt or something that smells like she or my Dad, and I really appreciate that, because I use it as a pillow, and it’s nice to have something to remind me of home. Just like last time, after a couple of days I got to go home, thank goodness, and it was straight to the lake for some R & R.

I’m not supposed to get on the furniture for a while because of all of the plates and screws, but let’s face it, where would you sleep if you had the choice, so while nobody is looking, I get up there, and then I try to get down real quick when my Mom or Dad comes in.

Since I’ve been through this once already, for some reason it doesn’t seem to hurt as bad, but it is pretty irritating to have to sit and look at that lake, knowing that I can’t get into it for a minimum of six weeks. In fact, it’s almost like my Mom and Dad don’t trust me at all, because they won’t even let me outside without a leash on. At first I was a little insulted by this, because you would think they would have a little faith in me by now, but then all I had to do was take a look at that picture of me getting off of the sofa, and I have to admit, they make a good point.

Well, it turns out my Mom’s fears were groundless. I made it through the surgery just fine, and the doctor said it went just as well as the first one. My Mom says that this is one of those times she is really happy to be wrong, and if I’m being honest, I’m pretty happy she was wrong too.

This recovery went pretty much like the last one, too. Lots of laying around and icing, and me gazing out the window at the lake dreaming of days to come. Just thinking of getting back into the water seems to make all of the pain just a bit more tolerable.

Another one of the quotes my Mom shared with me is, “What ever you are, be a good one.”  – Abraham Lincoln…(we really like him, I told you, he’s my namesake…I’m not named after the car,  like some of you probably thought, although my Mom says that would also be appropriate).  When my Mom told me that quote, right away I decided that what I was going to be, was a swimmer, and let me tell you, I was going to be a good one. I’m committed, and pretty soon, I’ll be ready to go!! Oh, and one more thing, since I got adopted I’ve been living in Washington State, and my lake is on the eastern side of the state, in a place just near Chelan. Trust me, I hope I never see Oregon again. It wasn’t so great there, and it’s pretty amazing here, don’t you agree?

It was a long December…

so the song goes…”but there’s reason to believe, that maybe this year will be better than the last.” And believe me, I don’t want to throw in too many quotes and sayings, but I’m pretty sure it was Alexander Pope who said, ‘Hope springs eternal”. I was sure hoping that all of those were true.  I learn a lot of this stuff from my Mom, who doesn’t think I pay attention when she quotes poetry and song lyrics, but she’d be surprised how much a dog like me can retain. I was listening while I was looking outside, through the window, at the frozen lake, dreaming of warmer weather.

I will tell you one thing, I really like it when she sings this to me (trust me, her voice is nothing to write home about, but when she sings to me, it’s with a lot of love, and to me, that is what really matters.) “It’s just me and my dog, Catchin’ some sun, We can’t go wrong, ’cause I don’t care ’bout your hatin’ and your doubt, And I don’t care what the politicians spout, If you need a companion, Well just go right to the pound,  And find yourself a hound, And make that doggie proud, cause that’s what it’s all about.” As far as I’m concerned, no truer words have ever been spoken. Being a pound dog myself, I can really relate. Lots of people say that my Mom saved me, but she and I both know the real truth…what really happened, is that I saved her. I try not to brag, but some things just need to be acknowledged.

Regarding my knee, for me it was more like spring brought hope, but my Mom doesn’t like it when I mix my metaphors, so let’s just stick with “spring has sprung”. And thank goodness for that.  It was a long, long, winter, and I was ready for the knee to heal, and the lake to melt, and for me to get back to, well, I think you all know where I want to be…IN THE WATER!! So, the snow melted, and the lake thawed, and I was watching everything start to get interesting again. The smells came back, the grass started to get green, and the lake, well, the lake seemed lonely without me in it. So, at least for a while, I got to get back at it.

The good news here is that my right knee healed up superbly, as the doc said. Everything looked great, and I had a clean bill of health. My head was good. The soft spot isn’t nearly as soft. The neurosurgeon said that the brain lining, and the skin and the fur will all do a perfectly adequate job of protecting my soft spot. My Mom sort of questioned this, but he reminded her that she has two temples, and so far she was still walking and talking. The doc said as long as nobody poked me with a knife or a pencil, right in the soft spot, that everything would be fine.

The other good thing about having so many “special” problems is that even though they are different health issues, I only have to go to one place. All of my docs work together. That’s sure convenient for us, let me tell you, because with all of my issues, we could be driving all month if we had to go to different places. So, my right knee is fine. My x-rays show perfect healing, and the bone is back to normal, and the plates and screws are perfectly placed. Seems like I should be doing my butt wiggling, tail wagging happy dance, right?

One would think…however, sadly, one would be wrong.

You guys are never going to believe what happened while I was healing from my first TPLO. Yup, you got it. When ever anyone says that they had a “first” anything, it pretty much guarantees that they had a second one. In case you didn’t know it, dogs only have two knees. And now, I can honestly say, that I have no more ACLs to rupture. I have already done that to both, so, as I heard my Mom say, HERE WE GO AGAIN. At first, we were thinking that we would try to get me through the summer, but it became obvious pretty quickly that that wasn’t going to work, so before the summer even officially started, I was back in the hospital.

Just so you all know, I’m a total soldier. I would swim through any amount of pain. My Mom says this is the exact reason that I have to have the surgery before the summer is over. She says I have more brawn than brains sometimes, and that I can’t be trusted down by the water. I get that she’s trying to do what’s best for me and all, but I’m not sure she realizes just what a strong swimmer I really am. Funny thing is, that I heard my Grandmom saying the EXACT SAME THING about my Mom, so I don’t think that she realizes that she is the pot calling the kettle black. Well, maybe she does, but the end result is the same…I don’t get to swim for a while, which really, really sucks, because the SUN IS OUT and the WATER IS BLUE, and frankly, it seems to be calling to me. I guess I’ll just have to ignore it, because pretty soon, I’ll be getting more plates and screws, and my knee will be ON FIRE again. Maybe then I won’t feel like swimming….but somehow I doubt it.

I’m not really sure what a TPLO is, but it doesn’t feel good.

So, I have to have my knee fixed or there will be no more swimming and no more running for me.  Evidently I have to have a TPLO, which is a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy.  I have to have this surgery because I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament and when dogs do that it’s quite a bit different than when people do that. For some reason, our ACLs can’t be repaired, so some doctor figured out a way to fix it in a different way, but it’s not easy. It involves bone cutting, and plates and screws and lots of stitches. The only good thing is that my Mom and Dad had been through this once before on our dog Peyton, so they knew what to expect.

I can tell you this – I sure didn’t. This one sucked. Big time.

It was nothing like the brain surgery, which was supposed  to be some big successful miracle surgery, but hardly even hurt, and made me so popular I could hardly believe it.  I mean after that one, I was like an instant celebrity… everyone loved me and touched me and thought I was all that. This surgery, on the other hand, or paw, if you want me to be clever, was the exactly the opposite.  I love my Mom and Dad and all, and everyone tells me how lucky I am, but to be honest, this time was nothing like the first one.

So, my Mom took me to the vet, and left me with some clothes to remind me of home, and just like before I went to sleep.  I was expecting the same thing when I woke up. And normally, I really like going to the vet. My Mom says they treat me like royalty, which makes sense since everyone tells me how majestic and regal I am. I guess they forgot how much they like me because this time when I woke up I HURT SO BAD. It felt like my knee was on fire, and believe me, right about then I was wishing I hadn’t ignored my Mom when she called me right before I hurt my knee. Turns out she probably knew best, and if I could talk, I just might tell her she was right.

I guess it makes sense that it HURT SO BAD considering what they had done to me. Plus, by this time, it was winter, and everyone kept talking about us having an “early snow”. Normally when I hear the word “snow”, I am ready to roll, but this time I didn’t even feel like moving.

 Check out the pictures of the surgery, and maybe you’ll see why. 

              I had to stay at the vet for way longer than I wanted, but let’s face it, I’d been here before, and they all are so nice to me, so it could be worse. Even though lots of dogs have this surgery, and it’s not that special, they still remember me from when I was the “miracle”. In fact, my Mom has a “miracle” charm on my collar, and they think that’s pretty neat and they all stop and give it a rub for good luck.  So after a few days, my Mom picked me up and we went straight over to the cabin. She figured that would be as good as place as any for me to recover, and I guess she was right, because during the winter that’s our lazy place, since there is usually snow, and there really isn’t much to do.

So, as you can see by the pictures, we did a lot of laying around, but it was not the same as my last surgery. Those doctors were right when they said there would not be “immediate relief”. Let me tell you something, not only was there not “immediate relief”, there was A LOT of IMMEDIATE PAIN. Now I’m no sissy, I’ve been through a lot at this point, but I can tell you this was not an adventure that I wanted to repeat. Seriously, take a look! Does this look like any fun at all? Especially considering I lost like two months of swimming because of a stupid ACL. Man, if I only would have listened to my Mom.

So obviously this recovery wasn’t that much fun. Not only did it hurt WAY worse than the brain surgery (which felt like sleeping with kittens, if I’m forced to make a comparison), I could hardly move, so I wasn’t getting as much attention from everyone. I couldn’t go to work with my Mom anymore, because of the stupid steps at her job, and I couldn’t walk around the neighborhood and get the attention and soft spot petting I was used to. When you get right down to it, this really bit the big one.

What I really needed to remind myself was that it was still way better than that life I tried to forget. Even though it hurt so much, somehow I know that my Mom and Dad did this because they love me.  So, I tried my best to get up and walk and let them massage my leg, and put that stupid ice pack on it, and hoped that next year, after all of this snow is gone, I would be able to swim again. Because, really, isn’t going to the lake for a cool dip on a hot day what every dog dreams of?

I didn’t have to wear a helmet, how great is that?

Well, after I got to come home from the hospital so early, for some silly reason I got confined to the downstairs. My Mom and Dad got this gate thing that blocked me from going upstairs. Fortunately I had lots of friends downstairs because by this time my Mom had rescued three other dogs. They were all old when we got them, so they didn’t really want to play, which was sort of a bummer to me, but everyone else seemed to think it was a good thing we all just layed around.  Fletcher seemed worried and insisted that he sleep next to me on my bed. I really wasn’t thrilled about this, because my Mom made that bed especially for me because I was so huge, but I have to remember that Fletcher did alert my Mom and Dad before my very first seizure. I cut him a pretty big break because of that.

One other thing, the day after my surgery, my sister got sick and ended up in the same emergency room. This stressed my Mom out, but it was good to have family with me in the hospital. My Mom called it the hospital family reunification program. Boy, it sure made for an easy recovery. We all just layed around once we got home. It was group healing, and we all had a great excuse to be lazy. The only bad thing is that my Mom would still put on all of the stuff she wears when she is going running, BUT SHE LEFT ME BEHIND. I thought that was pretty rude, because that was my favorite part of the day, but she would not give in no matter how much I head butted her or wagged my tail. Sheesh.

  

Evidently those doctors do really know what they are talking about, because I really did have immediate relief. I FELT GREAT!! My new name seemed to be SLOW DOWN, because they sure said that to me a lot. I was ready to go right away, but they made me take it easy for a while. Also, when ever people saw me, they had to come over and say something. Most of them made fun of my haircut, but my Mom always told me I was “the most handsome dog ever”, so I didn’t really care what the other people said. Plus, everyone wanted to touch my soft spot, and to be honest, it felt pretty good, so I liked the attention. The doctor said that cured word again, and I heard my Mom talking about how great the “margins” were on the tumor. She also said “benign” A LOT, and if that means I’m ready to go swimming again, then I’m all for it. 

                                                     

Pretty soon it was warming up and we were heading to the lake again. My Mom was still running without me, but not as much. She said it just wasn’t the same to run without a dog, so I didn’t feel so bad because she didn’t leave me behind hardly ever.  I wish I could talk, because I sure would like to let her know that she is the chubby one now!! I had clearance to swim, and swim, and swim, and boy did I. Even if nobody was down at the water, I’d just head on down there by myself and take a dip. Every now and then my Mom would come running down to the shore looking scared, but I was just out there paddling around, and she would relax. One time she told me she was worried I’d drown, but she settled down pretty quickly when she saw how strong I’d gotten.

One thing about the lake, is that it makes me feel great. I think my Mom was right when she called it my happy place. Plus, after swimming all spring and summer (my surgery was in January), I was starting to feel pretty strong again, almost like my old self. I still wasn’t running with my Mom, but the swimming was just as good (just don’t tell her that).  Our lake house is like dog heaven. I have three dog brothers and sisters, and our neighbors have four dogs, so there are dogs EVERYWHERE, as you can imagine. We get to play as much as we want, and chase the ball, and even though my mom is a vegetarian, the neighbors buy us these really cool bones to chew on and bury, and I don’t think any of us had ever been happier (except my Mom throws the “gross” bones outside when ever any of us sneak them in). We just bring them in later when Dad’s around though, so it’s no big deal.

One day, after a long day of swimming and playing and boating, and all the other fun stuff we do, I was playing ball with the neighbor dog. My Mom called me to her, but I thought I could get just one more fetch, so I took off after the ball anyway. She was saying something to the neighbor about me being fatigued, and that she didn’t want me to play anymore because she didn’t want me to blow an ACL (whatever that is).   As it turns out, I probably should have listened, because when I got to that ball ahead of the neighbor dog, I felt something really bad happen in my right leg.

After that I couldn’t walk very well, and prettty soon it was back to the vet. At least they all know me now, and they call me their miracle, so it’s obvious I’m pretty special to them. I guess on that last fetch, I ruptured my ACL, and I have to have ANOTHER surgery. I overheard the vet saying that this one would be way worse than the first one because there wouldn’t be “immediate relief”. He said it would be a very long recovery period. I didn’t understand everything they said, but something about their tone of voice made it pretty clear that there would be no more swimming that year. Now that’s a bummer.

As you can see, I’m a very big dog (and handsome, so they say), so the knee  surgery was going to be a big one.  Everyone tells me I’m lucky to have such a good Mom, but she says that’s what we do for family. When people say anything to her about spending so much money on me she gets really mad (which is uncomfortable, because she doesn’t really get mad very often). She gets that mean tone with people, and says she owes it to me because if she hadn’t taken me from the pound, maybe somebody else would have, and maybe they would have had more money. She says I am her responsibility, and that she wouldn’t have it any other way, that she loves being my person.

Well, this is pretty long again, so next time I’ll tell you all about my knee surgery (the first one), and how that went. I can tell you this…it wasn’t so great.