Monday, January 23, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi - IVDD Week 7

Ziggy had just at-home physical therapy this week.  It was a crazy week for me at work, so I wasn't able to get him any acupuncture. 

So, I thought I'd share something that has made taking Ziggy out MUCH easier.  At Iowa State, they used a sling for Ziggy's hind end, and it makes moving Z around much more comfortable (for both parties).  Prior to this, we were just using a towel to help him along.  The rehab therapist really likes the sling, as it's positioning seems to put less pressure on the dog's back, and it's easier for a dog to go to the bathroom (boy dogs especially).

Here are some pics of the sling (sans dog):

This is the side that goes toward the dog's skin.

It's made of neoprene, and even has a little cut-out for male canine comfort.

Here's the other side. 

It fastens with velco and a snap-close (like on a dog collar) fastener.  It also has a handle on each side.  They fasten together with a neoprene hold for comfort.  Since I'm taller than the average human, and I have a short dog, I would like the straps to be about 6" longer.  It would be easier on my back and shoulders.  But hey, this is MUCH better than a towel!!

The brand is Walk About.
Z is a size medium (this size would fit all 3 of my Cardis).

Here's the sling in action.

We keep Z's feet off the ground just enough that they don't drag.  We also use a collar and leash, which helps w/ steering and brakes.  The collar helps prevent having Ziggy drag us through the bushes, and helps slow him down when he decides it's time to move...

Here's another shot - with a stationary Cardi.

I try to put Z's hind legs in a standing position when he stops.  I figure this gives him a little "informal" physical therapy, and gets him used to standing when he stops once again.  It's also easier on my back if he's holding himself up.

So what progress have I seen this week?  It's still all very slow.  We are inching our way along. 
  • This week, though, he has started to put his hind legs back when he stops to pee. 
  • He is also reacting more to the pinching (gentle) on his pads.
  • He will push back a little with is right hind when I put upward pressure on it (when he's laying down, for instance).
  • He seems more "opinionated" about where his hind legs are - sometimes pulling them away from me when we're doing his range of motion exercises.
The rehab specialist guesses that it will likely take Ziggy about six months to walk again. She bases this on other dogs she's seen with similar trauma to the back (his rupture impacted 4 vertebra) and of similar size. This makes me feel a little better about his rate of progress. I often wonder if the slow progress means that he won't be ambulatory again. It's tough not knowing, but I'm trying to be "zen" about the whole thing. Maybe a good life lesson for me in here? ;)

On the not-so-great side of the equation, Ziggy had his second bladder infection this week, so he was given another course of antibiotics.  Apparently, this isn't uncommon in the situation.  At our vet's recommendation, we're now back to expressing his bladder 2-3 times a day instead of just once.  We still let him start and go pee all he wants before expressing, and we don't express every time.  The Husband is pleased to report that Z has been emptying his bladder completely - or almost all the way - for the past couple of days.

Ziggy is back at ISU for 2 days this week.  Our current plan is to try and bring him back every other week for a couple of days, and work from home the rest of the time.  We just couldn't seem to work the coordination out with the rehab center closer to our house.  They were not too keen on having Ziggy spend the day, which was a must for us in order to make it work. 

So I put the thought in the rehab specialist's head - to see if we can make it work to visit every other week and for us to be a bit more involved with rehab at home - perhaps expanding beyond the work we've already been doing. We'll discuss it in more detail when I pick Z up on Tuesday.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rip's Lucky Morning

This morning did not start out to be a promising morning for Rip.  He was FULL of energy, as he didn't get out for a walk yesterday.  Though he did get yard time, Rip needs a long walk every day if he is to remain in any way calm in the house.

This morning he was up on the couch with The Child and I, then off the couch harassing the cat, then asking to go out, then asking to come in.  Repeat this loop several times in the course of an hour and you'll have an idea of what the house was like.

Here we're snuggling on the sofa.  This is just after chasing the cat up the cat tree.

On the sofa snuggled between his brother and sister.
So sweet and innocent.

Now just leaning on Maggie.  
But note the gleam in his eye....

Then Rip wanted to go outside (for the third time).  Since he was driving me and the calm, brindle corgis crazy, I let him out.

Minutes passed.  More than ten minutes.  No Rip scratching on the door to be let in.  After a while, I began to wonder if everything was ok.

I looked outside, and here's what I saw:

Our neighbors' cattle dog frapping with Rip in the back yard!

The neighbors got this dog from the shelter as a puppy, and he was just too wild for their house.  They sent him to live on a farm (literally).  This didn't work out so he's back now.  Apparently he jumped over the 4' fence when he saw Rip outside.  Time to play, I guess!

 I can outrun this spotted dog, mom!

 Oh, maybe not.

 He got me!  Roll out of the way.

Run away!  
(note ears all the way back to cut wind resistance - just like a greyhound!)

Don't stop now!  Let's keep playing!!

For me, the frapping was great.  Rip has been sound asleep since he got in an 1.5 hours ago.  The neighbors, however, are a little worried.  Nobody wants a dog who can jump their fence that easily!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi - IVDD Week 6

On Friday it was six weeks since Ziggy's back surgery.

Since my last post on Z, he spent a week at the ISU vet school rehab center.  The main reason for his visit was hydro therapy.

Twice a day he did the underwater treadmill.  The goal is go build strength and get him connecting with moving his legs again.  The vet student or therapist who was in the treadmill with him would get him started by moving his legs for him.  Then they would let him do it on his own.  He had more reach forward on the right hind than the left.

Ziggy in on the treadmill with one of the vet med students.
The students do a 2 week rotation in the rehab center.

Here's a short video of Zig.
Apparently he didn't whine when I wasn't around, 
but Z wanted to keep me in his view at all times.

Ziggy also got to swim in the pool once a day (with a life preserver, of course).  He swam early in the morning, so I didn't get to see this.  Apparently, he paddled fine with his front end, but just let his back end hang.  Of course, Ziggy had never been swimming before the accident, so he wouldn't have any "memory" of how to move when swimming.  I'm not sure if that matters, but....

They also did range of motion and standing with him a few times a day.  The therapist did a little different range of motion than we were doing, so we've adopted the new method:

First, flex the joints - 
slowly moving the joints into position and holding for a few seconds.

Next extend the joints slowly and hold.  
She has her hand on his stifle here.

Finally, stretch to the side & hold. 
Hand under upper thigh.

They also added a "sit to stand" exercise.  This is to help him build strength and learn to push up from his hind end again.  A couple of times he even took a bit of a step forward.  

This exercise requires two people:  One behind him putting him in the sit and helping stabilize when standing.  The other person in front luring him forward with a treat.  

He starts in a tuck sit.  
Notice that his hocks are flexed and under him.
This is to make it easier for him to push up.
He never really liked to sit this way when he was healthy,
so it's sometimes a bit of a challenge to get him into position.

Then he's lured forward into a stand.
Sometimes he needs a little help getting into the stand 
with hands gently on the haunches or stabilizing using his tail.

While there Ziggy also got 3 acupuncture treatments - one on Thursday, Monday, and Wednesday.  

At ISU, Ziggy continued to do standing exercises regularly.  They had him standing 5 minutes at a time as often as they could.  We're doing this exercise after every trip outside (5-6 times a day) - for as long as Ziggy can stand - usually 3-5 mins at a time.

What progress has Ziggy made?
  • He is (mainly) peeing on his own!  The therapist decided to let him go as much as he could on his own before expressing his bladder.   We are now expressing his bladder only before bedtime to ensure that it's completely empty.  This is a BIG deal for us, as it means I can now take him out for potty time (I never really got the whole bladder expression thing figured out).
  • He is steadier in the stand - though still not able to stand on his own very often.
  • There is more going on in his hind end:  he is paddling his legs right before he goes poop (we don't know why - my guess is that he's trying to get into a crouch), he is moving his legs forward sometimes when standing, and when he dreams his paws move more than before.

Home again!
Ziggy seemed happy to be home, 
and Rip and Maggie seemed happy to have him home.  
We let him hang out a bit with Maggie on one of his favorite doormats.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ziggy's Spa Vacation

Since Ziggy is still not walking or urinating on his own, we couldn't leave him at home with the house/pet sitter while we went to Washington.  Instead, Ziggy is getting a spa vacation at the Iowa State University Veterinary School Rehabilitation center.

The vet who did Z's surgery suggested that Z might really benefit from some aqua therapy, and made the referral to ISU.

I dropped Ziggy off yesterday, had a tour of the rehab facility, and learned more about what they'll do.  The facility looks quite new and is very nice.  They have an underwater treadmill and a large pool along with the standard rehab equipment like balance balls/eggs, and treadmills.  Ziggy gets to try out the underwater treadmill tomorrow, and will likely get some time in the pool this week as well (safely wearing a doggy life vest, of course).  He'll also continue the exercises we've been doing at home, and they'll likely add some others.  I've also requested that he have 2-3 acupuncture treatments during the week he'll be there.

I'm anxious to see if Z shows any improvement over the week.  I won't have to wait long for an update, though, as they call every evening to share an update on how things are going.

When I pick Ziggy up next week, the rehab therapist promised to share with me all the exercises she has done and recommends I do with Z.  Hopefully I'll learn some new things that will help the boy recuperate.

The only down side?  Ziggy was NOT a happy camper to be left again.  When I was leaving he scooted his way over to bars of the pen and started pawing at the bars - barking, yelping and whining.  Sorry Ziggy - it's for your own good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi - IVDD Update: 1 Month

Yesterday it was one month since Ziggy's surgery for a ruptured disc.

Last week I was really not feeling optimistic about Ziggy's progress.  This week, though, things are looking up.

I found a vet about 1/2 hour away who does acupuncture, and Ziggy had treatments (is that what acupuncture sessions are called?) on Wednesday and Friday.  The vet also suggested some additional physio/rehab work for me to do - to help with proprioception and nerve regeneration. 

I've incorporated these exercises into his routine (4-5 times daily at 5-10 mins a time) so now I do:
  • Standing - we put place his hind legs in a standing position and allow him to support as much of himself as he can.
  • Range of motion exercsies with the hind legs - bending and extending hocks and stifles - 10-15 times per session
  • Pinching between the pads of his rear legs - not enough to injure him but enough to get a "pull the foot away" reaction.  This is to help w/ nerves/feeling and builds a bit of resistance when he pulls the foot away.
  • Skin massage - I grab 2-3" of skin along his back and down the ribs and gently pull up and massage with my fingers for a second or so. This is to help w/ nerves/feeling and I hope it feels good to him, too.
  • Massaging his rear toes. Nobody told me to do this, but I noticed that his rear feet are curled up a lot when he's laying or sitting, and it makes me feel better to gently straighten and massage the toes.

  • Here's The Husband helping Ziggy with his standing.
    I usually try to have his pasterns more upright, but as he gets
    tired, he sometimes sinks back like this.
    Note the look of concentration on Z's face.

What have I noticed this week that is making me optimistic?
  • He is able to stand with much less support.  Yesterday afternoon, he stood with no support from me for approx 5 seconds.  After that I had just gentle, one-finger support on one hip.
  • He is stretching out his back legs when I pick him up from the crate - just like dogs often do when rising from sleep (!)
  • I'm noticing much more reaction to my toe massaging and between-the-pads pinching.
  • The Husband has noticed Z "paddling" a bit more when he's walking in his sling in the yard (the hind feet are off the ground, but moving a bit).
  • Last night on the sofa Ziggy was having a good doggy dream and his right hind leg even moved a little.
I know that correlation does not equal causation, but I think that the acupuncture sessions really helped!  We're planning to continue these on a regular basis.  Right now the vet is recommending 2x a week.

Two early milestones we're still waiting for are  for Z to wag his tail (we're told this is a very positive sign) and  for him to urinate on his own (though I read this usually happens around the time a dog becomes ambulatory again).

Hopefully I'll have good things to post in next week's update!

Anyway, a week of good progress for Z.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wagmore Farm: The House Part 4 - The Plan for The Existing Home

(Please note:  this post will make more sense if you've already read my previous post from today regarding The Decision of what we'll do with the house)

When weighing our house options, we realized that part of the "Scrap it and start over" option involved getting rid of the existing structure.  We wanted to make sure we were comparing like costs, so we worked hard to find out what other costs (aside from the home cost) are involved with a new home build.

We contacted the county and found out that we won't have to pay local impact fees.  Since a home is already on the property those fees don't apply.  The existing electricity, water, and septic will all be connected to the new house.  The current house is sited well on the property, so we'll be building on nearly the very same location.  This means there will be only slight changes to the driveway and connections to septic, etc.

Then we met with an excavation company that was recommended to us, and has lots of relevant experience, to find out what tear down and haul away would cost. As we were talking about cost, work involved, etc, the excavation guy mentioned that we should talk to the local fire district.

Apparently, the local fire districts appreciate being able to use homes for practice.  The excavation guy thought our home would be a promising candidate, as it's away from other homes, etc.

Later that week we met with the training supervisor for the district.  He thought the house would suit them nicely, and let us know what would be involved with a burn of this sort.  Basically, the fire fighters use the house for drills/practice most of the day.  When they're done later in the afternoon, they let the house go up in flames.

My pre-enactment of what will happen.  ;)  

We've had to spend a bit of $$ on permits, applications, and a bit of asbestos remediation, but we're really excited about this method of demolition.

It enables us to help the local fire department and save a ton of money on excavation costs!  As an added bonus, the training supervisor says we can lean the rest of our brush pile up against the carport so it will go up in flames when the whole house goes.

The date for the burn is this Saturday.  We're headed out to the property in a couple of days to board up the windows and remove the hot water heater (both of which the fire dept require).  We'll also be salvaging the bathroom mirrors (to be used as training mirrors in my future dog training barn), the kitchen cabinets (to be used as garage storage), and the rough-hewn mantle piece on the fireplace (don't know what we'll do with it).  Everything else is going up in flames.

Oh, and the coolest part?  We get to go out and watch!  I'll be working hard to get some good pics/video...  

Wagmore Farm: The House Part 3 - The Decision

In my 2 previous house posts, I mentioned that The Husband and I have been trying to figure out what to do with the house on our property.  After weighing the pros and cons, and struggling to figure out the finances, we have finally decided to tear down the existing house and build a new one.

The plan we decided on is the same plan as a house we looked at an loved, but didn't buy it because it was just a little too far off the freeway - meaning a longer commute.

Here's a picture of that house.

Ours won't be exactly the same - the biggest difference being that we'll only have a front porch instead of a wrap around.  While we liked the wrap-around, it means less light into the ground floor and in SW Washington we'll take all the light we can get!

Here's the base plan.  Ours will be slightly different - the main difference being that we're adding a 5' x 13' mud room in front of the entrance from the garage into the house.  We both decided that one can't function w/out a mud room on 15 acres in rainy Washington.  And, we're having the room plumbed for a dog bath so if when The Trio roll in stink outside we can wash it off easily.

Some things that we really like about the plan are the master on the main floor (no stairs for the dogs and good for aging in place) and the nice flow from living to dining to kitchen on the ground floor.  We were a little concerned that it's way more house than 3 humans need, but since we won't have a basement anymore one of the bedrooms will be converted into an office (The Husband works from home) and another one will cease to be a bedroom (we're taking out the closet) and will serve as a home gym.

We haven't signed the paperwork on the house yet, so it's not all final.  Our plan for later this week is to have one final meeting with the builder to finalize finishes and modifications.

We're very excited to get started on the house, but first we have to get rid of the old one.  I'll do another post today with our plans for that.
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