It was a long December…

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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.


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

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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.

As told by Lincoln – Today…

 is the first day of the rest of my life. But my story doesn’t start today. It doesn’t even start yesterday, or last week, or last year.

It really starts a long time ago, when I was young. Back then, I lived with people in Oregon. They got me from a breeder and named me Hilo. I had such high hopes and puppy exuberance…I wanted to run and play and chew on anything and everything. I had a lot of energy. The people kept me in a crate a lot of the time. When they let me out, they didn’t take me for walks or give me any training, and they got really mad when ever I chewed something.

As I started growing, it didn’t get much better. My pen got bigger, because I was “huge”, as they said. They also said I was a “very bad dog”. They were probably right, but they never, never took me outside for a walk or anything. They never let me chase a ball, or play, or swim, or have any fun. I stayed in a pen all the time. For a while, they would let me out when they got home, but I was so bored and had so much energy, I would chew things up, and they would get very, very, angry.

They got so mad they hit me, sometimes with things, sometimes with their hands. I didn’t want to chew, but I was just so bored. It was awful staying in that pen all the time. After a while they only let me out to go potty. I’d go outside, and try to take a long time, but they would yell at me to “get inside”, and then I would have to go right back inside my pen.  Just so you know, I am a very tall dog and by the time I was two, I weighed 135 lbs. They fed me a lot, but never let me do anything. I was so bored, I got into a lot of trouble every time I got out. I admit that I destroyed things, but I just had so much energy and no where to get rid of it.

Once, I even chewed through the water line and she got really, really, mad. That’s how I learned that the broom was for a lot more than sweeping.  They told me I was the worst dog ever, and that I should just be “put to sleep”. Not too much later, they loaded me up in the car (FINALLY…A RIDE!!) and drove me to this place where there was a lot of barking and whining and tons of dogs and cats. At first I thought it was play time, but then I heard her say, “He is a destructive chewer, and he can’t be fixed – he needs to be euthanized”.

I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew she was mad, because that was her mean voice, the one she uses when she hits me. Pretty soon, she just turned around and left, and somebody I’d never seen before put me in a kennel. This one was much bigger than the one at home, but it was loud and scary, and I didn’t know anyone.

After what seemed like forever, but was really only 3 days, they took me out of my kennel, and instead of going outside, I went to a different room. There was this lady in there, and she was sitting on the floor. At first I was afraid of her, but she smelled good…like dogs and cats and the outside. She just sat there and talked to me. She told me I was a good dog, and very handsome, even if I was a little chubby. Pretty soon I decided she wouldn’t hurt me, and I went up to her and let her smell me too. I guess she thought I smelled okay, because she took me outside, and we got in the car and I went to live to a brand new place.

That was where my life really started! How could I have known there were so many fun and wonderful things in this world? I didn’t have to live in a pen any more. I had free run of the house, even when I was unsupervised. I got to go for walks EVERY DAY. I learned to swim, and holy cow, did I love it. My Mom says I am a “total water dog”. I went to off-leash parks, and met other dogs (one time these two dogs called pugs chased me, and it was a little scary, but I ran faster than them, thank goodness). This was back when I was still chubby, but I was losing weight really fast. You know what else? With all that exercise I didn’t have the energy to chew anymore.

Now all I got called was handsome and good dog, and I guess my new name is Lincoln, which I really like. They used to call me “Big Linc” too, but one day I rolled in goose poop, and they started calling me “The Big Stink”, and now I answer to that just as quickly as I answer to Lincoln. It wasn’t long before somebody would say “Hilo”, and it wouldn’t even register. My new life was so good, it sort of canceled out the old one.

Everything was pretty great for the first four years. My mom is a runner, so she took me with her. I was so good I didn’t even have to be on a leash. I didn’t like letting her be on the outside, next to the street, because I wanted to protect her from the cars, but she made me run on the other side. I guess she thought I needed to be protected from the cars too.  I learned that during the summer, if I ran ahead, I could eat the blackberries right off of the vine. We have a lake house, so on the weekends, I could swim as much as I wanted. Some days, I would wake up early and go down to the lake, and just take a dip all by myself.  What a life, is all I could think.

Then I started getting a headache. Pretty soon I was having it all the time. Even when I was swimming. That was pretty odd, because as my Mom said, being in the lake was my “happy place”. Then I started having seizures. I don’t really remember them, I just know I felt pretty scared and I wasn’t sure where I was or who I was with when they were over. Usually the first thing I would realize was that my Mom or Dad was holding me telling me “it’s okay, it’s okay”, I was glad they were talking to me, because I couldn’t see for a while once they were over. One thing for sure was that my headache was getting worse and worse. Not only that, but I was having a really hard time walking, and I was doing odd things. I didn’t like the car anymore, and all of a sudden, it was hard to go up the steps. Plus, that headache was a doozy…I didn’t even want to open my eyes sometimes. By this time, it was 2008, and I had been living with my people for over four years.

My people had been taking me to the vet (who, by the way, I really like) a lot. One day we were there and my Mom started crying. The vet kept saying I had a tumor, and that I was dying. He said there was no real chance that I would live without surgery.  He also said the bad thing was that I would probably only live for 6 months after surgery. My Mom and Dad were real worried that it wouldn’t be fair to me to put me through that for only 6 months of life.  The vet told us that I would have “immediate relief” after the surgery. We went home, and there was a lot of talking, and my Mom spent a lot of time on the computer. She told me she wasn’t ready to just let me die. I don’t know what that meant, but she sure cried a lot, and then pretty soon I was back at the vet, and she left me there. I kept hearing the words “tumor” and “meningioma”, and then pretty soon I went to sleep and when I woke up, my headache was GONE.

Then the only words I remember were “cured” and “miracle” and “encapsulated”. None of those meant anything to me, but they sure seemed to make my Mom and Dad happy. She didn’t cry at all once she got there. I was supposed to stay for a week, but after the first day, I got up and started walking around, even though I still had all these needles and tubes in me. I’m so big, they couldn’t keep me in a cage (thank goodness), so I broke out of the gated area and went for a walkabout around the ER. There were lots and lots of dogs there, and I just wanted to see what was going on. After that, they decided I could come home a lot sooner, and I only had to stay for four days.

I guess I looked sort of funny, because they took lots of pictures. They also talked a lot about me having some “soft spot” because the vet took my skull out. At first they wanted me to wear a helmet (which just seemed silly to me since I felt so good), but the vet told them they had to remember to let me be a dog. Also, my Mom and Dad got some pretty good laughs at what my head would do when I was breathing.  You really have to watch the video to understand.

lincoln breathing

Well, I have a lot more to say, because this is just the beginning of my story, but I’ve already taken up a lot of space, and I don’t even know if anyone will care about what happens. All I can say, is that there has been a lot of things happening, and man, has it been interesting…(To be continued)…