Monday, March 28, 2011

Be Still My Beating Heart

I went for a long ride today with AP and her Dad. We went all the way to Leesburg VA to the LifeCenter and Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates to see Dr. Peckens.

His assistant Heather met with AP to take my history and she was nice enough to keep me from hitting my head on the exam table. Dr. Peckens came in and listened to my heart, and listened to my heart, and listened to my heart and when he was done he asked AP if I had ever been diagnosed with a heart murmur. AP told him that the very first Doctor I ever had diagnosed that but everyone since had said no so it was thought that I had outgrown it (we dogs do that). He said he definitely heard one and told her he thought I had a PDA but we would know for sure with an echo cardiogram. He asked if I would be OK up on a table and AP told him that I am not a fan of heights and about the time I got up on the couch by accident and was scared to come down. They all agreed to try me up on the table but if I got stressed we could do the test with me standing.

We went into the other room and Heather and Dr. Peckens lifted me up and put me on a table that had a panel in the middle. The panel comes out leaving a hole for the Doctor to put a device called a transducer through to move around on my chest. They put electrodes on me and then used ultrasound and the transducer to put images of the inside of my heart on the screen of the echo cardiogram machine. I was a really good boy and stayed real still - except for the few times I tried to push some buttons on the machine.

Dr. Peckens and Heather

What does this button do?

Let me roll the ball.
He showed AP and Dad the images in color to display the problem with my heart. It is called a PDA or Patent Ductus Arterious and is congenital which means I was born with it. Most PDA's are caught early in puppies and taken care of. If it not caught 50% of puppies with it never make it past 1year -so I have beaten the odds so far. Basically I have a hole that was supposed to close when I was born and it didn't so now I have an over circulation that has made my heart get large. The other day my heart went wonky and into Atrial Fibrillation and my heart was beating really, really fast which is dangerous. Thanks to the medicine I am taking my heart rate is back to normal and has gone back into a normal rhythm so I am at low risk of heart failure until they can fix me. The Doctors at CVCA all meet at a big thing called rounds and discuss all the cases they have seen and put their heads together for the best fix. Tomorrow at the round thing they will talk about me and the best option to help me. I am hoping that option is the amplatz ductal occluder because that surgery will allow me to be up and around quickly and they won’t have to open up my chest. It's a plug that they can use to stop up the hole and my heart can get back t normal size. There is a handout on CVCA's website that explains the problem and the solution if you want to read it

Right now I am a very happy boy because I can now go for a walk as long as I don't get carried away. AP is happy because my heart is not all wonky right now and we know what the problem is.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

From Bad to Worse and Totally Unfair

AP here:
On Thursday Tonka went to see a very nice Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Cannap at Veterinary Orthopedic Sports Medicine Group about his intermittent lameness in his right front leg. The result of which was 2 problems that needed to be addressed one being his shoulder and what would be analogous to our rotator cuff and the other being his elbow.
I was very impressed with everyone and the facility and the technician Amy that took care of Tonka and measured him for the brace he would have to wear for 2-4 months after the surgery. I had them draw blood so we could make sure he was sound for surgery and scheduled it for April 6th. Tonka was fine for the visit and did not seem to be in any distress. We went home and the rest of the day was a normal day with all his normal routines. We walked with Nala that night and again everything was 100% routine for him. I on the other hand could not sleep and was stressing over the upcoming surgery
Friday morning everything was still normal and he was at the top of the stairs ready to go for our walk by the time I got dressed. We walked to the park and back and it was totally uneventful.Once home he laid down at the top of the stairs like usual and took  little nap while I got ready to go to work - all still normal. I put on 2 eggs to boil and went downstairs and fixed his bowl with his breakfast. This is his routine every morning.

He goes downstairs eats his breakfast - goes out the doggie door - goes to the bathroom - might dig a little/might not - comes up the ramp on the side of the house to the kitchen - might lay out on the deck for about 5 minutes/might not - stands at the door and barks once to come in - comes in and has either a tiny bit of egg or some sweet potato.

This is the routine and when enough time had passed and he did not come to the door and was not on the deck I went to find him. The first thing I notice was an untouched bowl of kibble which is not normal but not alarming. I went out the door and around the corner to where he has been trying to create a new monster digging pit behind the grill. I was really expecting to find him there with dirt up to his elbows caught in the act and I really wish that is where I had found him. I took four more steps past he grill and he was laying at a very strange angle with massive amounts of drool from his chin to the ground. I spoke his name and he snapped his head up in my direction but he was jerky and seemed panicky. I opened his mouth to see if he had anything half ingested but all i saw was more of the same thick drool. I ran into the house and grabbed a towel and the phone and yelled for CM. She came out while I was dialing the vet. She went back in and went thought the house and unlocked he gate while I got the ramp down in the truck. I got him up and to the ramp and again he was very jerky but I got him in the truck and took off for the vet. On the road he put his head down and went to sleep and I got my wits about me enough to start thinking seizure vs. anything poison related. There is nothing buried behind the grill and I know that because we dug all that up and put down a drainage pipe there so it is nothing but dirt. it seemed to fit a seizure as well - that thick nasty drool - the post ictal phase where they are really out of it. So by the time we got to the vet that was my diagnosis and I calmed down a bit (remember I only had 3 hours of sleep worrying about his upcoming surgery and rehab so I was allowed to be a little off my norm). We walked in and right away they were looking at his gums and checking him out before we even got in a room. They are the best there and Tonka loves them all and so do I. We were seen right away by Dr. Gerity and during the exam we were pretty much going with the seizure thing until she got to his heart rate. She came up from listening to his heart and looking at her watch to tell me his heart rate was 200 and for a big dog 100 is the magic number and that it was not beating normal. Even with 3 hours of sleep my mind started trying to make sense of this - he was just at a vet yesterday and they had listened to his heart and it was fine - that doesn't compute. She then told me he needed an EKG and chest x-ray and took him out of the room to the back while I struggled to make it all fit into something logical.
The news was no better when she came back in- his heart is in atrial fibrillation and the x-rays show an enlarged heart (not horribly enlarged but too big just the same). The biggest thing was to get his heart rate down so they put him on medication to do that. He spent the day with them so they could monitor his heart.
I called a few times to check on him and his heart rate was down to 120 and then to 96 so I picked him up and took him home. He is still in arrythmia so his heart is beating abnormally but as long as the heart rate is down and he remains quiet we should be OK till he sees the cardiologist.
I called a cardiologist and we have an appointment on Thursday for an echo cardiagram and his ortho. surgery has been postponed. One of my friends Buttercups mom is an amazing woman and adopted Buttercup who has a heart condition. She and I spoke at length and she reassured me that the cardiologist we are going to will get him back on track.
So here we are- my big loving boy who wants nothing more out of life than to run and play and meet and greet everyone and everything has to be kept very quiet. No walks, no running, no playing, no excitement of any kind. If you follow the blog you will remember that anytime he has been in this situation it only takes one day to plunge him into a depression. At least with the other times I could take him in the truck and his friends would come out and meet him- with this he can do nothing.
This has totally blindsided me- of all things that could go wrong I would have never thought heart but better to find out now rather than on the operating table in two weeks.
Perhaps this is why Tonka loves everyone so much - he has an oversized heart!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hail Storm

So tonight I found something worse than rain. AP and I were finishing our walk with Nala and Henry and it started raining and thundering which was bad enough but then frozen water rocks started falling from the sky. AP called it hail and it really hurt and we had to stop at Mr. Bob's and stand under the awning until it stopped. Water - not a fan in any form (except at the beach).
AP took a picture of it but she said it came out a little fuzzy.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time to Get in Your House

AP here:
99.99% of the time Tonka is the best boy you could ever want to live with. He listens very well as demonstrated by this video.

There are times though when he is an onery little brat. I called him to get in his house this past weekend and he absoultely refused. He was stretched out on the landing and just did not want to move. I tried talking to him, I tried bribing him and finally had to resort to picking him up by the scruff of his neck to get him to his feet. He tried to twist and turn to go up the steps and dug in his paws. Now you can't drag a blind dog down the steps, it's just not a nice thing to do so the only option was to go out the front door around the house and through the back door. We marched out the front door and around the house (had to stop to unlock he gate first) and when we made the turn by the ramp to the porch off of the kitchen he tried to bolt up the ramp. I got a better grip on him - thinking I should have slipped on his collar at the start of this little journey -and away we went down the hill and into the back door where I dumped him into his house. Now before I get negative comments about dogs and crates let me tell you that Tonka feels very secure in his house (crate). If he thinks he is home alone and has been left out of his house he gets very agitated and upset. He is smart enough to know that he is safe there and he loves his house and he is never in it with the door closed for more than 4 hours. He was just testing his boundries and being a brat - ah the teenage years....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Trish Gives Us The 411 on Sylvia and Post Op. Therapy

An update from Sylvia's foster mom Trish Rimo.
I'm really impressed with the canine physical therapists (and yes, my friends, there is such a specialty – and a good one, too!) at VCA Veterinary Referral Associates. They're so kind, compassionate and good at what they do for Sylvia following her hip surgery. They're trying to make sure she doesn't overly tax some other muscle/ligament while this leg is so very weak; she's lost 5 cm. of muscle mass in it already. When they try to rotate her leg, her muscle goes into spasms, so they give her soothing laser therapy. It’s been three weeks and she really doesn’t want to move that leg much at all. No at-home exercises until she gets stronger, and we’re just fine with that!

This is going to be a long, slow rehabilitation process for Sylvia, and I'm really glad we have professionals to help. The surgery (FHO) is particularly difficult for big dogs to recover from, as there’s so much weight borne by that new false “joint.” Without PT, I fear Sylvia would end up with a limp, not to mention joint problems elsewhere, which is the real issue. I’m so glad we advocated for the best level of care for her within reason – and that the generous people who donated to Sylvia’s fund enabled her to get this care!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In This Corner - AP's MVP

I am so excited AP said I got honorable mention in week 9 of the Bissell MVP contest.
Check out number 5 at this link - Handsome devil isn't he :)

Now at the end of the contest in April I will be among the winners in the Judging Phase.

Judging Phase: During the Judging Phase, a panel of qualified judges determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion will select the five (5) entrants with the highest-scoring Submissions from among the sixty (60) Finalists based on the following criteria (“Judging Criteria”):

Condition of Pet's Coat (33%); Expression of Pet (33%); and Overall Appearance (34%)
The top 5 all win money for the pet charity of their choice. So I am trying to win for my rescue Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue
Cross your fingers for us.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

After the Rainy Walk

AP here:
People think I am a bit nuts since Tonka and I walk no matter what the weather and this morning in the rain was no exception. Tonka is confined to short walks right now but even with a short walk it did not take long to get soaked.
So what do you do with a Tonka Dog that is soaking wet?
First you towel him off real well making sure to get his paws and belly and then you let him in the house. Next you break out the hair dryer and try to keep him still while you dry him a little more thoroughly.
Here is a video of Tonka and the drying process - notice how hard it is to keep him still.

He is such a lazy lump-

Now if I could just get him to flip over!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Here we limp again!

AP here:
A week ago Tonka got up from a nap and he was limping on his right front paw. It went away by the time we got to the vet (of course) and they had a hard time making him react to range of motion -or anything for that matter -with his foot, elbow or shoulder. He pretty much started to fall asleep while Dr. Anderson was examining him (such a laid back boy).

So with no official diagnosis we started him on an anti-inflammatory and a prescription of no-playing or running. Since this is his fourth bout with this lameness issue in the past year Dr. Woodburn suggested we go see an Orthopedic Dr. that specializes in sports injuries in animals. So we are going to see Dr. Canapp at VOSM . Those of you that follow the blog regularly know that Tonka lives for his walks and so if he has something wrong in his shoulder we need to get it fixed ASAP.

A Tonka dog without his walks and his blippity blopping with his friends is a very depressed boy! If you are not familiar with the Blippity Blop be sure to watch any of his videos where he is running. Tonka steps really high when he is running - he sort of blippity blops along. He is allowed to go for short walks but no blippity blopping or wrestling and so far he is not depressed just mad... This boy has the entire neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods in a 4 mile radius completely mapped out in his head. He knows when you shorten his walk or deviate from his normal route. He is such a good boy that when he wants to keep going or turn the other way he does not pull to get his way. He simply stops, and sits. He has done this little routine since he was a puppy and back then I would just pick him up and carry him a few feet and put him down and continue you on. He has long since outgrown the ability for me to pull that off, at 125lbs I can only lift him down and out of a truck I cannot lift him up. The trick to get him to move is not pulling him or jerking the leash but to have a talk with him. I am sure the neighbors think I am very odd. I walk a blind dog 2x a day rain or shine he wears sunglasses on windy days and I have on occasion held an umbrella over him. Then then the crazy lady is squatted in front of him whispering in his ear.

It works though, I get down on his level and whisper that we can't go that way today and I tell him why he needs to come with me and he will just get up and willingly come along as if he understands. I am sure a behaviorist will tell you it is just the break in the situation that changes the pattern he was in or something like that but I like to think it is because he is just a good boy that needs to know why.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sylvia One Week Update

AP here: I saw Sylvia this weekend, she looks great and Trish was kind enough to give us a one week update.

It’s been a little more than a week since Sylvia’s surgery and she’s recovering well. Her fur is already growing back, the incision is healing, and she’s gradually putting more weight on the surgical leg. Still, she has to stay confined (a little boring for her) until at least Friday. That’s when we go back to the surgeon to get her opinion of the progress and to see when Sylvia can start physical therapy, which is even more important for a large dog such as a Pyr. She’s still on pain meds — as much to keep her calm as to help with the pain!

FHO leg 1 week Post Op.
Kaiser has been gallant enough to give up his bed to Sylvia!

Tonka is very happy that Sylvia is on the mend and will get to see her for PyrFest in May.