Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Daisy has taken a big turn for the worse; please pray for her

We’re asking our blogging friends for a lot of POTP right now. Daisy is in surgery for a severely misaligned and swollen disc. She’s only 5 years old.

For the past week she’s had back pain again and was on meds, but they didn’t do much good. Yesterday she could barely raise her hind quarters without great effort, and she preferred to lie in one spot for hours. Going down one tiny step to the outdoors made her screech.

We knew this wasn’t good. She was moving backward instead of forward, even on meds. We made an emergency appointment with our dear vet, who did some tests and discovered this was a neurological problem. It could be one of three things: a disc issue (bad but not impossible), a tumor (very bad), or a blood clot (the worst). He called an excellent neurologist and sent us straight over to her.

Her first assessment was that with high-powered meds and 8 weeks of crate rest, things could get better, but she could also become paralyzed suddenly. She would also run this risk for the rest of her life. Or we could opt for surgery, with a 95 percent chance of recovery. If Daisy were to become paralyzed, the odds went down to 50/50.

We authorized an MRI so we could make an educated decision; it showed a severely misaligned disc with a lot of swelling. At that point she pretty much took the choice away from us – without surgery, paralysis was a very real possibility and Daisy would definitely live her life in pain. Constant pain.

We wanted to avoid surgery at all costs, but we couldn’t. She’s in surgery now and if she does well, we bring her home Sunday for 8 weeks of crate rest (and some frightening things the surgeon said we’ll see, but we’ll talk about them as they happen).

Meanwhile we are praying harder than we ever have in our lives. We’re asking our wonderful blogging friends to send positive thoughts and prayers to Daisy for a successful surgery and full recovery. We need our sweet little girl to get through this and be her silly little self again. Nothing would be the same without her.

Daisy

47 Comments »

Daisy’s follow-up vet visit

First off, I can’t tell you how moved we all are at the outpouring of prayers, positive thoughts, and support we received from everyone. You all mean so much to us and it really helped to feel that support. The pet blogging community is the best in the world. 🙂

I don’t know which of our lovely blog buddies told POTP about Daisy’s injury, but some wonderful person did and they put her up on their site. Whoever you are, we send you lots of love and thanks for being so thoughtful. We met some beautiful new friends through POTP, and we visit the site every day to give back the strength and love we received. If you haven’t been to POTP (Power Of The Paw), you can click the link to get there and help other pets and pet parents through difficult times.

Well, we have good news, okay news, and not-so-great (but not terrible!) news from the follow-up visit with our vet.

The good news: Daisy is out of the woods with the paralysis risk. However, if this happens again, she’ll face the same risk. The vet said he looks for any signs of forward movement and no signs of worsening, and he was pleased that she looked slightly improved and definitely not worse, but not enough to make him smile (that’s his tell!) except when he was sweet-talking her. Also, her attitude is much improved and she doesn’t look scared all the time – only when she feels pain. She’s taking an interest again and actually chewed her Nylabone today! She was also able to eat by herself from her food bowl instead of having to be hand-fed. 🙂

I couldn't take a picture of Daisy when she was at her worst because I don't want to remember her that way. But here she is yesterday - still not her little sprightly Daisy face, but better than before.

I couldn’t take a picture of Daisy when she was at her worst because I don’t want to remember her that way. But here she is yesterday – still not her little sprightly Daisy face, but better than before. This is one of her long lie-down breaks she takes when she goes for a quick “taking care of business” trip outside.

The okay news: She has a slipped disc that’s causing most of the back pain. She’s walking better but still taking very tentative steps and can’t roll onto her back – sometimes she can lie on her side, other times she can’t. When DD or DH come into the house and she gets excited, I have to hold her back but she still starts yiping. I think her muscles must tense with excitement and that causes her pain.

"I remember the days when I could romp over grass tufts..."

“I remember the good ol’ days when I could romp over grass tufts…”

The not-so-great (but not terrible!) news: She will have this problem for the rest of her life, and it is considered a degenerative condition. She’s not allowed to do any more jumping – since her leg injury, we’ve only let her jump up onto things and not down specifically because we wanted to prevent back injury from the impact of jumping down. Guess that strategy didn’t work! So DH is building another ramp for her (he already built one for the car) to get up and down off the couch, and we’ll be watching her closely. We’ve had our couches barricaded since her ACL/meniscus tear anyway, so eventually we’ll just open up one small spot and put the ramp there when we allow her up with us. But that won’t be for quite a while.

We will be checking into acupuncture to see if that will help. I’m just hoping that after this has passed, she’s not left with any pain and can run like a nut again. 🙂

Our next follow-up vet appointment is in two weeks, and we’re hoping for a big smile from him then. Thank you all again for your prayers, kind messages and good wishes, we’re sure they helped Daisy improve, and they definitely helped us!

46 Comments »

Daisy, the Havachon Nurse

S-l-o-w-l-y but steadily, I can see small improvements in my back and the quality of my days. Little things like being able to move each leg an inch more forward when walking, taking more of a step rather than a shuffle, and slowly (and weirdly) getting myself down onto and up off the floor rather than DH having to lower and lift me up are all good signs of improvement. Where I saw a dark permanent dead end three weeks ago, I’m now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

Daisy is the one member of our little family who is happy that my recovery will take so long. For one thing, she has company all day, every day.

Even better, she has a floor buddy several times a day. Lots of cuddling and snuggling as well as a 109-pound cushion to lie on.

Yep, that roll underneath the blanket is me!

Yep, that roll underneath the blanket is me!

As soon as I get into floor position, she hops on top of me to make sure I’m okay. And this is what I see….

Helloooo, Mommy! Just checking to make sure you're okay!

Helloooo, Mommy! Just checking to make sure you’re okay!

Here, she demonstrates how to keep a floor bed warm for her mommy.

Can we keep this here even after you're all healed?

Can we keep this here even after you’re all healed?

And here’s where she discovered that the doubled-over “pillow” area of the sleeping bag is even cushier than the rest of it. The softer the better for our little girl!

Ooooo, cushy-soft!

Ooooo, cushy-soft! You don’t need this right now, do you?

Thank you all for your good wishes! Your positive thoughts have helped and your messages have kept me company as I live these weeks “off the grid”, so to speak!

22 Comments »

A Snowy Easter Surprise

Tuesday morning, just a few days before Easter, we woke up to another snowfall!

During one of my slow strolls outdoors over the previous weekend, this was what our daffodil patch looked like:

Happy spring daffodils in our front yard.

Happy spring daffodils in our front yard.

And here it is Tuesday morning:

Unhappy frozen daffodils.

Unhappy frozen daffodils.

Kind of hard to believe those pics are only a few days apart!

It seems so incongruous to see spring buds on a frozen tree:

spring snow 4.14 2

Now, I know most people here in the northeast are talking about how tired they are of all the snow we’ve had this winter, but I’m not one of them. As all my blog buddies know, I LOVE snow and would live in a year-round autumn-winter climate if there was one – with, of course, an annual 3-month break for spring to plant my gardens and give the trees enough leaves so they could change color and fall again! I could do without summer altogether. (Don’t throw rotten tomatoes at me!)

I discovered that I can’t take walks around my yard anymore because the other day, my heel hit a slight depression in the grass, which normally I wouldn’t even have noticed. But with my back still so sensitive, it felt like a bolt of lightning went through my lower spine. That set me back a bit pain-wise; then that evening I sneezed twice, which caused the pain to skyrocket. Apparently more muscles in the body contract during a sneeze than I realized!

So I’m back indoors now (which is fine, Friday was a whole 39 degrees!) and will attempt another venture outdoors this week – but this time, I’ll only walk on even sidewalk surfaces! And of course, my little sweetie will come with me…if I can pry her off my floor bed!

Daisy, cozy in my floor blankets, with the Guilty Gate behind her.

Daisy, cozy in my floor blankets, with the Guilty Gate behind her.

39 Comments »

Life Can Change In One Second…..

After our lengthy, unwanted hiatus due to moving my 90-year-old aunt into an assisted living home (more about that “adventure” another time), selling her dilapidated home (a miracle in itself), and getting all her stuff organized including bills and decades of accumulation, DD and I had a wonderful four-day weekend away last weekend so I could de-stress after the most stressful month-plus I’ve ever experienced.

But I can’t tell you about that now, because today everything changed in the flash of a second.

Little Daisy is in the hospital.

This afternoon, DD and I were working on some stuff in the family room while DH was fixing something outside. He hammered, which drove Daisy into her typical Havachon frenzy, which she truly enjoys.

She ran from window to window jumping up and down on chairs to find the source of the noise, barking up a storm in her usual “I’ll get ’em! I’ll get ’em!” adorableness, when suddenly, from the other end of the house, we heard the most horrible shriek-yipe followed by horrible nonstop cries of pain.

It was Daisy. We ran down the hallway and found her trying to hobble toward us with her hind right leg lifted in the air. DD picked her up and carried her to the sofa, where she laid her down so we could take a better look.

DD is excellent in an emergency – focused, serious, get-to-the source intense.

I fall to pieces. The cry of an injured innocent little thing sends me into a tailspin.

Daisy’s back leg looked generally okay, but she couldn’t put any weight on it. Then I noticed that the bottom half past the knee looked out of whack.

Daisy actually looked sad. Sad, scared, and confused. This is not a look we’ve ever seen on our happy little girl.

I called the emergency vet while DD comforted her (of course these things always happen on holidays or Sundays). As I’m trying to fight off something that’s giving me a sore throat, DH and DD took Daisy to the vet without me, DH driving while DD cuddled Daisy in her arms.

Twenty minutes later I got the call – Daisy tore her ACL. Those ligaments hold the bones in alignment, so that’s why her leg looked so funky.

Of course I turned to the internet to do some emergency research. Turns out that small dogs are particularly prone to this (though it happens to large dogs too), and when a dog gets one ACL tear, chances are it’ll happen to another leg too, because apparently it shows that that particular dog’s body has a tendency toward it. Great. Just great.

We had to leave Daisy there and she won’t be home until Tuesday. It’s even more uncomfortable because she’s not with our usual vet.

I can’t tell you what a hole we feel in our little family. I keep thinking I hear those happy little paws tick-tick-ticking across the floor toward me.

Tomorrow (Monday, 11/11), two board certified surgeons will be doing surgery on Daisy’s leg. They have to drill holes in her bone in order to anchor the fishing line-like thing that they use to realign everything and get those ligaments sewn back together. Then she has to stay overnight again because she’ll be heavily sedated and they want to keep an eye on her.

Daisy’s young age is to her benefit and will help her heal, but it’ll take many, many weeks. We have to somehow keep her calm and quiet during that time, and she won’t be allowed to jump on sofas either. That alone will take all our effort once she starts feeling “springy” again.

Even though this is considered “routine” and common surgery, it’s our baby and we’re upset. And we miss her terribly. We can’t stand to think of her all alone in that hospital – is she wondering why we left her while she was in pain? Does she feel hurt or confused that we’re not there?

There’s a huge void in our home tonight, and I’ll certainly miss my little buddy when everyone goes off to work tomorrow. I’ll miss looking down and seeing her trotting next to me wherever I go. I’ll miss our special morning cuddle and all-day lovies. And the constant cuteness. Oh, the cuteness!

We’ll be saying some prayers for our little one, that the surgery goes smoothly, that she doesn’t suffer, and that there are no complications or infections afterward. We just want our silly, adorable, loving, happy little baby back.

31 Comments »

Daisy’s Weekend Injury

It scared me nearly out of my skin. Daisy’s first injury.

Well that certainly didn't feel too good....

I know, I know, I sound like a new mom who freaks out over every little boo-boo her baby gets. Well, maybe I am. But this was scary.

Daisy is a very happy, exuberant puppy. And she likes to release all that exuberance by jumping up in the air, with all four paws off the ground, sometimes spinning in mid-air. We’re trying to break her of that; no one likes to visit a house where a dog is jumping all over you. Especially if you’re wearing a skirt and stockings.

Even worse, we could see the physical risk her jump-and-spin routine poses to her body. She could break bones, dislocate something, or pull or tear tendons or muscles if she landed wrong.

Up in the air she jumps, all four paws far off the floor and then a quick spin in midair, landing (mostly) on her paws again.

But not this time.

....but I'll probably be silly enough to do it again....

Something happened when our backs were turned. She was all excited when DH came home, jumping all over the place like a silly little lunatic. DH isn’t the best with discipline, he tends to be slipshod at best and even when he does give a command, many times it’s the wrong word or phrase. Not a big help in that department.

Anyway, up she jumped as if her legs were made of springs, around she flipped —– and down she came at an angle, with her back legs buckled under in some weird, twisted way.

I only saw this from the corner of my eye, but when I turned to her, I saw that she had gotten up feebly and was hopping pathetically on three legs. She had her back left leg pulled up off the ground, her ears were down just like when she was in pain after she was spayed, and she was trying to hobble closer to DH for comfort.

....because learning from my mistakes is just no fun!

I freaked. Big time.

I thought she’d broken her leg. On a Sunday. No vet. We’d have to take our chances with an unknown animal hospital.

In the two seconds it took me to scream (and I mean scream) “Daisy’s hurt!“, my mind had already realigned our day, processed who we had to call to cancel our planned activities, and imagined which veterinary hospital we’d be sent to and how long it could take us to get there. No place seems close in a crisis.

DD came flying in from the next room and raced to her puppy’s side, embracing her and giving her the comfort she sought. DH just stood there and said, “What?” (typical guy).

The weird thing that struck me was that Daisy didn’t cry out at all. No whimper, no yipe. That gave me hope. But that pitiful look on her face, those drooping ears, that little body trying to move on three legs absolutely crushed my heart.

Over the next few minutes – which felt like hours – Daisy slowly lowered her leg to the ground and put some weight on it. DD and DH both touched it gently in different areas, making sure nothing was broken or pulled.

Thankfully, she was fine after a short while. But it put a good scare into us all. Now we’re adamant about issuing the “no jump” command, and when DH forgets, we say it for him.

Daisy, on the other hand, clearly has no intention of learning from her mistakes.

::sigh:: I think I’ll need some Miss Clairol much sooner than expected…..

7 Comments »

Small Dog Pain Reactions

At least I don’t hurt when I’m asleep….

Dogs instinctively hide their pain because it’s considered a sign of weakness in the wild. And if you’re weak, you’re prey. Period.

But it’s different when it comes to these small, fragile dogs that have become so domesticated that they’re like little children who look to us for comfort and reassurance when they’re in pain. My last dog was a Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix who never showed pain, regardless of how severe it was. But this new little pup of ours freaks out when she’s in pain, which I’ve only learned now that she’s going through her post-spay recovery period.

I expected her to sit and walk strangely, but I didn’t expect the trembling, constant whining, hanging head, and freaky jumping and racing around with her backside and hind legs all contorted as if they’d been broken and never set. Couple that with how scraggly her hair is because of the ointment the vet slathered liberally all over her tummy, legs, and ears, and this puppy looks like a spent street urchin.

It was odd that she was doing so well on Sunday, two days after her surgery, and then on Monday, all these awful things I mentioned started happening. She was a different puppy. It was like someone flipped a switch overnight that turned off her sunshine and made her whole world dark and gloomy.

As painful as her recovery is, it’s just as painful having to watch her go through it.

I theorized in yesterday’s blog post that different dogs probably have different pain tolerance levels and possibly even metabolize the pain meds given by the vet at different rates. Now I’m sure this is the case; those pain meds probably lasted through Sunday for Daisy, but completely wore off sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Thanks to fellow blogger Judy who writes Tiffy’s World, I now know my theory is right; her little Yorkie also has a low pain threshold and it’s something that not all vets discuss with their patients…ours sure didn’t. If our vet had told us that some dogs react more violently to pain, I wouldn’t have had such a high level of anxiety all day yesterday about these odd pain-generated behaviors Daisy was exhibiting. I thought something major was wrong, like a fever from an unseen infection or something worse that went wrong internally.

So for any small dog owners out there who are or will be having their dogs spayed or having any other surgery, here are some of the reactions our 9 pound Havachon displayed, your dog may not have all of them. I hope it will help put your mind at ease if you know what’s considered to be within “normal” parameters; however, just like people, every dog is different, and while ours needs cuddling and stroking during her recovery, other dogs just want to be left alone. The Golden Rule is: Know Your Dog.

1. Trembling. If it’s within the first 24 hours after surgery, trembling can be a result of the anesthesia. After that time period, it’s usually a sign of fear caused by recovery pain. I found that cuddling Daisy on my lap helped calm her to the point where the trembling stopped completely while I held her. Her first day of pain was the most important for this.

2. Hanging head. Remember that old phrase, “hang-dog expression”? Well, this is where it comes from.

3. Complete disinterest in toys, her favorite blanket, looking out the window, and normal activities in general.

4. Back hunching.

5. Sitting or lying in odd positions to relieve or lessen pain.

6. Whining. And more whining. Mostly on the first day of pain. No barking at all.

7. Racing and/or jumping in short bursts with the body contorted strangely. If you bring your dog onto a chair or sofa with you, watch him/her carefully, because the sudden onset of pain can cause them to lunge irrationally, and they can fall off the furniture. And be aware of how you’re picking the dog up, so you’re not putting pressure on the wound.

8. Agitated behavior. We all can get cranky if we’re in pain too long!

9. Snuggling close to their owners for comfort and reassurance. They need extra TLC right now, you can always retrain them after the crisis is over. Now’s not the time to enforce the “no sofa” command.

10. Slinking off to corners or underneath furniture if they prefer not to be touched or pet. Never force this issue. “Let sleeping dogs lie”, as the saying goes.

11. Sleep. LOTS of sleeping.

Little by little, every day you should see small improvements. Today Daisy isn’t whining and there’s a little less trembling, plus she’s wagging her tail now and then, which she wasn’t doing at all yesterday. She’s able to sleep for longer periods of time, which will help her heal, just like with humans.

If your dog’s pain is excessive, your vet can probably give her something to ease the pain. Some NSAIDs are supposed to be safe for dogs, but if it’s not necessary and you can devote the time to just “being there” for your dog, that may be all she needs.

Not Normal: Keep an eye on the incision; if you see redness, swelling, bleeding, or discharge, call your vet right away. Some dogs scratch or bite at the stitches when the itching gets intense – in that case, they need a collar cone or bandages. Our vet prefers not to put these on unless Daisy starts chewing or scratching.

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management has a wonderful site with lots more information about pain symptoms, treatments, causes, and more. It’s worth a look if you’ve got any questions.

92 Comments »

A Bum-Numbing Afternoon

I just may have a permanently numb bum.

 

You can see the difference in her from her happy pre-spay pictures. This is one pathetic puppy.

 

After making an appointment with the vet to find out why Daisy is trembling and clearly in pain after a day of near-normal post-spay behavior, I found out that dogs sometimes tremble from pain and the fear it generates. I think this is the problem because when I put her on my lap and cuddled her, as was recommended by another vet online, she immediately stopped trembling and fell asleep.

She slept comfortably on my lap with no trembling for almost 2 hours…ergo, my numb bum.

Then she suddenly jumped up and frantically circled around, clearly feeling pain or at least some pretty high level of discomfort, with that weird posture and movement that comes from pain. I think she’s feeling some intense itching as well, because her one hind leg keeps making scratching motions in mid-air.

But she looks at me with those soulful, “help me” eyes and it just kills me that I can’t ease her pain.

I’m thinking that maybe every dog’s sensitivity to pain is different, much like all people’s sensitivity to pain is different. We all have different levels of pain tolerance, so why shouldn’t animals? And maybe Daisy was acting more normally yesterday because the pain med he gave her took a little longer to wear off, just like it does with some people. It’s a possibility, anyway.

Now she’s curled up in the corner of the sofa, something we don’t usually allow. We will for now; whatever it takes to give her some relief. But the interesting thing is that there’s still no trembling – clearly, that online vet was right about it being fear-driven, and that fear is relieved when she’s being comforted by the people she trusts.

I think I’ll cancel the vet appointment and see how she does from here on. If the pain doesn’t start lessening by Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll call again and make an appointment to find out if this level of pain is normal by that time. But I’m relieved that at least the trembling isn’t involuntary. I wonder if I’ll have to spend the night with her here on the sofa….

It’s amazing what lengths we’re willing to go to for a furry little creature who we only met and took into our home a few months ago! I guess it’s love…. 🙂

4 Comments »

Back Home From Spay Surgery – Not a Happy Havachon

Well Daisy’s back in her own comfy home after her spaying on Friday. Thank you to everyone who expressed their concern and support!

You don’t know what I’ve been through!

I don’t remember my last dog having so much discomfort after her spay surgery, but then again, it was a long time ago and she was bandaged. Vets don’t like to bandage dogs anymore unless the incision starts bleeding, the dog starts chewing/biting at it, or it becomes infected.

We dropped Daisy off at 11 AM on Friday, and both DD and I were surprised at how teary we both got when we had to leave her behind. We followed our game plan of staying occupied – we went to one of our favorite local cozy lunch spots, then went to the mall and Starbucks (three cheers for Raspberry Mocha Lattes!!). That helped, though we did find ourselves checking our watches, waiting for 4:00, when we could call the vet and see how Daisy did.

The report we got was good, they said she did well and was coming out of the anesthesia. She was on a heating pad and covered in a blanket to keep her warm, which they said helps dogs come around faster and easier. Her favorite veterinary assistant was spending the night with her and a couple other dogs who’d been spayed that day, so we knew she was in good hands.

When we picked her up at noon Saturday, she looked pathetic. Her rash, which we still have no diagnosis for (the vet feels it’s either food related or fall related, but we won’t know until after her surgery has healed; I’m wondering if it’s the carpet cleaner from the last time we had the carpets done), got much worse because they had to shave the entire tummy area, which really irritated it. The spots are flaming red now. She also had a slight ear infection, caused by the rash (it’s common for dermatitis to affect the ears). So they took care of that, plucked more hair from inside her ears, and slathered her with an ointment that has her ear/neck area and tummy/leg areas disgustingly greasy.

And we can’t bathe her for 2 weeks. Ugh.

They also did a full blood work-up and removed 2 baby teeth that refused to come out on their own. She doesn’t seem to be feeling any after-effects from the tooth removals, yesterday she was chewing happily on a hard Nylabone.

She wasn’t as out of it as they thought she’d be on Saturday; in fact she was practically frantic when she got home and we could only get her to rest by sitting on the floor with her, which DH did most of the afternoon. Yesterday, Sunday, she was better and starting to move more freely.

But today she’s having a lot of discomfort and whining pathetically. She can’t walk normally – it looks like she’s trying to scratch with one hind leg while she walks. She also can’t lie down comfortably unless she’s curled on her side in her soft, cushioned bed, but I can’t get her to stay there. It seems to me that there must be some discomfort from the stitches and maybe itching from the skin and muscle starting to heal…? I’m watching for any signs of infection.

It’s pathetic though – she’s running weirdly in short bursts and whining, then trying to sit but can’t get comfortable, so it all repeats over and over again. She seems really agitated. She’s tired but ends up standing most of the time.

I hope this is normal for the second full day after surgery – any advice from fellow dog owners?

It’s so frustrating to see your puppy looking and feeling so awful and not be able to do anything to help!!

4 Comments »

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