Monday, July 29, 2013

Day #40 Post FHO

We're nearly 6 weeks out from surgery.

6 weeks!!!!!

There are moments where I'm impatient and wondering why we can't be 6mos out... and then there are moments like right now, where I'm wondering where the time has gone.

Seppel has made a lot of progress between last week and this week. We've been alternating swimming with the treadmill and I've also been having him jump up on a picnic table & the picnic table benches. Especially for the benches, he has used his bad leg several times to pull himself up. I've also noticed him using the leg more to scratch his head/face - something he hasn't done in a long time. He has also been jumping on people which he hasn't been able to do in a long time. The surgery leg is still weak, but I do think he is beginning to build muscle and is continuing to get stronger.

Last night we went for a mile walk, I decided to ask him to trot, and he can do it! He hasn't been able to gait between a walk and a run since the surgery. He is also using his leg to run, which 3-4 weeks ago he was still bunny hopping!

Here is video from today of him trotting and then him walking from the camera. He absolutely cracks me up watching him walk with my dad - his tail won't stop moving:

How can you not love a Pit Bull? He is SO happy! He is ALWAYS happy! It's impossible for me to not love this dog. He just cracks me up and makes me so happy because he is so happy all of the time.

I did run out of gabapentin this weekend, I'm going to see how he does without it because I'm not totally sure that it offered him that much pain control. It's a fairly cheap drug and I will definitely refill it if he starts acting like he's painful. I'm sure those of you reading my posts are like "Quit messing with his pain meds!!" I just want to be sure that what I am giving is necessary and is actually helping him, because if it isn't doing anything I don't want to be giving it. If he starts acting painful - like he did without the tramadol, I will definitely start giving it again. I think this is also an very important part of the process and I couldn't find much information online on pain control for the FHO. As of right now he is on vetprofen 2x a day, and tramadol 2x a day.

Overall I am happy with his progress. I am itching to get back to IPO training and I'm thinking if things continue to go well, maybe he could go back in 2-3 weeks. I think it could be good physical therapy and might encourage him to use his leg - unless he decides to cheat and not use it at all. I'm not going to get too excited about it because I don't want to take him back prematurely, but I think if he continues to do this well, training could be in our future soon.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

5 Weeks Post FHO Surgery

Well, today is 5 weeks since Seppel had surgery. In some ways time has really flown by, but in other ways I feel like we've only just begun.

Seppel is doing pretty well, I feel, for the time frame. I'll try to get some new video of him walking soon. I like to think he is putting his foot down more and is walking on it more properly than he has been. However, there are other times I'm watching him and I feel like nothing has changed.

There are a few things he's been doing lately that make me feel like he's getting stronger. For one thing - he's jumping on people more. Yeah - he's naughty :p Fortunately the people he jumps on usually allow him to do so - so it's no big deal. He has also been scuffing outside when going potty - he has always been one to scuff, since the surgery he usually just flicks his bad leg out once, in a very sad attempt. The last two days he has actually scuffed, with both feet which is a huge improvement.

Aside from the treadmill and swimming, I also make him jump into the pool:

Another thing that makes me hopeful is he jumped for the ball in the beginning - jumping and flips are something he used to enjoy and was good at, which makes me hopeful that he is feeling stronger on his bad leg.

Just for kicks - here he is trying to get the pool skimmer:

The improvements are small, but I'll take them. I am also going to see about taking him off of the tramadol. He had the last one this morning, my thoughts are to continue the gabapentin and vetprofen and see if we can stop the tramadol. Then maybe in a few weeks we can stop the gabapentin, and then eventually the vetprofen. He's been doing fine on the pain meds twice a day - I don't feel like he is painful. Of course if he shows any signs of being uncomfortable I will definitely put the tramadol back in the pain med rotation.

EDIT 7/25: I am keeping Seppel on the tramadol. Last night he cried under his breath for most of the night. I guess he is more painful than he lets on, or the pain meds are really doing their job in keeping him comfortable.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

4.5 weeks Post FHO Surgery

Sepp will be about 4.5 weeks out from his FHO surgery tomorrow.

I've discovered another way to rehab him!

He hasn't been on the treadmill since before surgery. I have been wanting to put him on it for some time now, but would always forget. Not to mention we've been excited having the pool. Yesterday afternoon though I got a wild hair and put him on the treadmill. He's mostly using the leg! I've decided to alternate between the treadmill and swimming. Yesterday he did the treadmill, so today I let him swim. I'm very excited and hoping he will start to regain the use and muscle mass of his leg.

Overall he's been doing about the same, but I do think he is possibly placing a bit more weight on the leg and I do feel like he is using it more. Today I chased him with the pool skimmer, a game, and he used the leg to run around. I'll have to get some video, he looks seriously vicious!

It's nice to be able to exercise him other than just going for walks. When I swam him today I let him jump in and out of the pool after the ball - it's great to be able to get his mind and body engaged and be doing a bit more than we were before.

I'm very happy and excited with our progress. I think we're doing pretty good for nearly 5 weeks out.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The pool fairy came!

Like the subject says...

Sepp says "Just give me the damn ball woman..."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The park & 3.5 Weeks Post FHO

Hard to believe it has been 3.5 weeks since Seppel had his surgery. Progress is kind of back to being slow. Looking at videos on youtube it is hard to tell where he's really at - I think he's doing well for the time frame, but being a chronic worrier I worry we could be behind. He uses the leg but just doesn't put a lot of weight on it. It's frustrating, but then I try to remember we are ONLY 3.5 weeks out and that we still have a long road ahead of us.

Anyway today I took him swimming. I have tried to swim him everyday, on days we don't make it to the park I will walk him instead. Hopefully I will have a pool up soon so we won't have to rely on the park.

ugh. The Park.

If your dog is a total out of control asshole I firmly believe you shouldn't bring your dog to the park or a public place with other dogs. What I mean by out of control asshole is that you CANNOT control the dog, and that other dogs and people are at risk because you have no control over your dog. If your dog is dog aggressive, but well under your control, I have absolutely no problems sharing the park with you. I have been fairly lucky in that most of the time the area I am swimming Seppel has been dog and people free. Most of our dog interaction ends up on the way to the water, or when people come up to the water.

I have no issues advocating for my dog, but it is SO uncomfortable when the first words out of a person's mouth is "My dog is fine!" or "My dog is nice!" and I have to say "Well mine isn't, he doesn't like other dogs." I mean, I shouldn't even have to say that my dog isn't friendly. People shouldn't be allowing their dogs to come up to mine. This whole thing shouldn't even be a problem. My dog is on leash, we are minding our own business, and oh, by the way, I come to the park to swim him - not have a doggy play date.

It's just so frustrating to me. Today for example a guy had his GSD mix thing running loose. He goes "She's friendly! She doesn't know how to be mean!" and I'm already like UGH so I say "Oh my dog is recovering from surgery, he's on drugs and can't socialize." Then of course the guy is asking me questions and his dog is trying to sniff Seppel. I mean Sepp was great, and I think the odds of him actually attacking a dog are very SLIM - but I don't take chances. There's no reason for my dog to make new friends in an uncontrolled situation where I know absolutely nothing about the other dog.

As we were leaving the creek I was just thinking today, WHY do people do this? I come to the park to walk my dog and to take him for a swim. I'm not bringing him to make friends with other dogs. It's wonderful that so many people have "friendly dogs" but I don't understand why they can't keep their dogs to themselves.

I just feel that I end up making myself and my dog look bad because we don't want to socialize. That the other person is thinking that if my dog isn't friendly it shouldn't be at the park. Well he's not dog friendly, but he's completely under my control, we're minding our own business, I feel like we have every right to be there.


I know this will be something we will always be dealing with. It really doesn't matter how we look, because I need to advocate for my dog and it's OKAY to tell people to leave us alone. I have every right to be there walking my dog and there is nothing wrong with telling people that they need to keep their dogs away. *deep breath*

Here is a video of Seppel walking from today:

His poor little atrophied leg!

I almost forgot, I have cut his pain medication back to twice a day. He is getting tramadol/gababpentin/vetprofen in the AM and in the PM. I've been doing this for a few days now and he seems to be handling less medication just fine. If he seems painful we will bump is back up to 3x a day, but I think 4x w/ the tramadol is a bit much and not really necessary now. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

One step at a time.

Okay, Sepp is actually making some progress. I guess I spoke too soon about slow progress ;)

Monday, the 8th I took Sepp for a longer walk than normal. My friend and I had gone on a walk and I took Seppel out and we walked her part of the way home. I estimate we walked about a mile which is longer than our .6mile walk. When we got home I was picking up dog poop when Seppel started running around and I noticed that he was actually using his bad leg. Now, he wasn't putting a ton of weight on it, but he was moving it in 'running motion' instead of just holding the leg up - which is what he usually does to move fast.

I was able to catch some video because he plays this weird game with the pooper scooper... such a dork. But anyway he was using the leg!

Then, to add to the awesomeness - swimming yesterday, he actually used the leg a little bit to propel himself! I saw it with my own eyes.

We're about to head out now for a swim. The progress is still slow going, and his leg looks so shriveled and sad... but he seems to be moving in the right direction.

When we do the ROM exercise, he still acts like it is sore on extension [like extending back behind him]. However I haven't been icing him nearly as much as I was before because he doesn't really seem to be painful. It's hard to explain, but overall the leg does not seem to be painful anymore, it is just weak and he doesn't trust using it.

So we are officially 21 days out today, so the end of three weeks. He isn't putting full weight on the leg, but he is using it to walk and to swim. He doesn't seem to be really painful other than when we do the ROM - or if he jumps on that leg and it folds - he will cry. [We don't do a ton of that but it has happened!]. He is still getting vetprofen 2x a day, gabapentin 2x a day, and tramadol 4x a day. I may cut back next week when we are at 4 weeks, but for now I think it is good to have the pain meds on board.

I'm just really glad we are still moving forward and in a good direction!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

FHO Day #18

When I decided we were going to go through with an FHO I knew that the recovery was going to be long and that it wasn't going to be easy. However, I can tell you that I truly wasn't prepared for how difficult it could be. I'm not whining, just trying to share a reality. When you read through other dog's stories, you know it's going to be hard, but I don't think it is possible to really prepare yourself for how hard it can really be. If you've never been through it you really don't know.

In some ways I think that a bi-lateral FHO [both hips] would almost be an easier recovery because the dog would not be able to "cheat" and use their good leg, because both legs would be equally matched and the dog would have to use them because they have no other choice. I think doing just one leg, which is all Seppel needed, makes things harder because it is very easy for him to cheat and use his good leg vs. his bad leg.

Like I've mentioned, progress has been about the same. I've read online of various methods that people have used to try to get their dogs to use the bad leg. Someone said they taped a bottle cap to the dog's good foot, someone else said they put a booty on the good foot and put a rock in, someone else said their vet said if the dog didn't use the bad leg they would wrap the good leg so the dog had to use the bad leg. Yesterday we had some free time at work [teehee] and tried the cap method and wrapping the foot in various ways. For Seppel none of these things really improved the use of the bad leg, and if they did, it was only initially while he was trying to figure out what the heck we had just put on his foot.

I've been swimming him now everyday. It's clear to me that he can go for longer than 5 minutes[and has gone for longer!], especially because he is a dog that really only propels himself with his front legs and doesn't do much kicking with the back. I am going to call Paws Aquatics this week and see about getting an appointment - the gal there said there were some exercises they could try, maybe I can pick their brains and we can see if there is a way to get him using the leg more. Hopefully I will be getting a pool soon for home and we can also experiment. I held him by his life vest the other day and that is when I noticed he doesn't kick with either back feet really at all... I do see some movement when he is headed for the ball, but it isn't nearly what you'd expect. AND I think he also will primarily only use the good leg if he is going to kick at all.

We went for a walk last night and I tracked it in runkeeper. It's about .7miles. He seems to manage this distance fine - tonight I think we will try for a full mile. Towards the end I do think he gets tired and MAYBE places more weight on the bad leg? It's hard to say.

I also have been letting him play with the hose the last too nights. I'm very careful about it and in some instances he will use the bad leg for support. When I put my finger on the end to make it shoot out further he will jump for the tip of the hose and will put some weight on the leg. I try to be careful as I don't want the leg to crumple and he will hurt himself, but we did little quick jumps where he puts some weight on the leg. I think this is exercise that needs to be done... only because it does get him using the leg a little bit more.

Needless to say, we're coming up on week 4 and this has been a long journey so far. I know that in a year we'll look back and this won't be such a big deal, but seeing it now, as the days go by it's hard not to worry about him.

So for anyone reading this and considering an FHO - it isn't easy. Sometimes the internet makes it seem like things go pretty smoothly, and they DO, but I am saying that this surgery is definitely full of ups and downs and it can be heart breaking when your dog is doing well, but not progressing.

So far Sepp continues to do well - but there hasn't been a big change in leg use at this time.

Lol, I love him!

Friday, July 5, 2013

16 Days post Surgery!

Seppel is 16 days out from surgery. I took him swimming for the very first time today. At first he cheated and didn't use his FHO leg, but towards the end I had him swimming circles and then going for the ball and I could see him starting to use the leg. I got a little video on my phone, I bought him a life jacket because a.) it was a good deal, and b.) I thought having a flotation device would put less strain on the FHO leg.

My hope is to maybe go to this park in the morning so we can miss the people that might be there. My friend is supposed to hook me up with a pool soon also :)

He swam for about 15-20mins and didn't have too much trouble other than being a little cold.

I know I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to take him for his first post surgery swim at Paws Aquatics, but from what I have read he physically might only be able to swim for a few minutes. I just don't want to drive all that way and also have to pay for a half hour if he can only swim for a few minutes.

I will probably try to make an appointment with Paws Aquatics within the next week or two.

Anyway here is a video of him swimming and a video of him walking from today!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

FHO Day #14 & Acupuncture

Wow, who would have thought we would be at two weeks post surgery already?! Time sure flies by.

There isn't much to report, I haven't taken another video because his progress is about the same.

A few days ago I started increasing the length of our walks to about 20mins which he manages just fine. It's been so hot we usually do a walk in the AM and then the PM because midday it is too hot for him on the concrete. Don't want him burning his feeties!

We removed his stitches yesterday. Today he FINALLY got to have a bath. I'm going to give his incision a couple more days to heal, hoping I can get him swimming by this weekend!

Like I said above, his progress is about the same, and actually he seems to be a bit more sore than he was before, especially when we do the range of motion exercise. I talked to the vet who did the surgery and we are also going to try giving him gabapentin 2x a day just to see if that helps with the pain. I want him to be as close to pain free as possible when we try swimming.

I was also able to get a couple pictures today of him receiving acupuncture! He is definitely less painful than he was last week and the vet who does it was able to use the electrotherapy, with the needles around the surgical area - he was really good, didn't make much of a fuss and handled everything really well. He truly can be such a good boy.

He actually started to really relax and fall asleep towards the end of the acupuncture. Every time he has had acupuncture he goes back into his kennel and will rest for a couple of hours. You can definitely see the difference in his demeanor afterward. I do feel that it does buy him some relief.

I wish I had more to talk about, but like I said, his progress is about the same. He's still using the leg to walk around, but isn't putting full weight on it, and he's very sneaky about not using it. He has a lot of muscle loss on that leg, but I'm hoping once he starts swimming that he will be able to be more confident in using the leg and be able to build that muscle mass back up.