Monday, January 28, 2013

Tonka Rocks the Pet Expo

AP here:
This weekend was the Maryland Pet Expo at the Timonium fairgrounds. It was held in the building called the Cow Palace

There were all kinds of vendors there as well as the Chesapeake Dock Dogs. They put a large pool in the middle of the Cow Palace for the dogs to jump into. This link is to last years video to give you an idea of the setup. There were a few that ran all the way to the end and then put on the brakes instead of leaping and diving in. Tonka thought those dogs were very smart because why would you willingly jump into water?

We ran into all kinds of people that we knew including Baltimore's own  Joy Freedman. Joy is a dog behaviorist/obedience trainer and AKC certified CGC evaluator. Joy was performing Canine Good Citizen evaluations and gave some seminars throughout the weekend on behavior and the ever important topic of Canine First Aid. Tonka was very happy to "see" her and got lots of love. He also ran into several staff members from his various Doctors and even some of our neighbors.

Tonka very happy to "see" Joy

CM had a lady draw a really cool caricature of the Tonka Man. He was very patient and stood and waited for her to finish even though the man at the booth next to us kept saying the word treats.

The awesome folks from Liberty Delight Farm were also there. They have Great Pyrenees on the farm and some are from Tonka's rescue AGPR. They gave him a big tendon to have as a special treat which he devoured as soon as we got home. Liberty Delight is an all natural farm and we love all their stuff.

We had many people stop and ask about his wheels and we directed them to the Eddies Wheels website for more info. I also had a few non educated types that kept saying "poor dog" over and over even though I assured them that there is nothing "poor" about Tonka. He is a happy healthy boy that just can't coordinate his back feet. The question of elimination came up a few times and that seems to be the breaking point for some people. The minute I explained that I had to express him the conversation went downhill. People immediately went back to "poor dog, you should let him go".
I even got a quality of life comment.
Seriously? - quality of life - he sleeps 16 hours a day- is waited on hand and foot -everyone spoils him - he gets two walks a day and most dogs get none - plays with his friends at the park -he travels all over and meets new people and animals - fed the best food -and receives the best medical care - yup that is a horrible quality of life. I think he should realize how bad he has it and immediately stop being so happy.....
I tried very hard not to blow up at those comments but in the end my tone did get nasty and we moved on.
Other than those encounters it was a whole lot of fun.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Watch Me......

AP has been out of sorts. She has a lot on her mind lately so yesterday I thought I'd do a couple things to cheer her up.

1st I did my best "look how handsome I am" pose in my wheels in the snow.

Then when she got home from work I did my "watch me" stand and walk for her.....

Then I let her sleep for 5 hours straight before getting her up.
Yup just doing my part to make her happy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

For the Love of A Dog

AP here:
Tonka and I are early morning types. Usually between three and five I am up which in turn wakes him up and the first thing he wants to do is go outside to the screened in porch. In typical Pyr fashion he loves the colder weather and all he wants to do anymore is lay out on his bed. Being disabled I have to worry about him getting too cold since he cannot get up and move around to generate heat so I usually cover him with a fleece blanket. For extra cold mornings I also have a space heater near his bed.

This morning was a 4:30am day and so I put him out and covered him up and went back inside. The fireplace still had some life from last night so I put on another log and got it roaring again. I sat down and had my coffee while watching him on the nanny cam. He looked so peaceful out there and so cute all snuggled under his blanket. I started to wonder what goes on in that brain of his. I know he thinks, I have watched him as a blind pup encounter and obstacle and think about how to overcome it. When he is introduced to new things or commands you can literally watch him figure everything out so he definitely thinks. I wonder what he thinks about me? Does he understand that I have tried my best to keep him safe and happy? Does he know that I have done what I could to try and fix his medical problems? Does he think I have failed him with this last one? I know there are days when I think I have.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Lost Boot (When Thoughts Start to Spiral)

Every week night I fight the traffic to get home to Tonka.

The first thing I do is grab a pee pad and express his bladder. I then lift him up and into his wheels so he can go get a drink while I get changed to take him for his walk. Now most people just clip on a leash and out the door they go. Its a little more involved with Tonka. Since he can still stand and has feeling in his feet and legs we leave his legs down and out of the stirrups when we walk and so I have to protect his feet.He has stirrups to hang them up but when I do that his feet touch the bar on the back off the wheels and his nerves go nuts. His feet start stomping on the bar and he goes backwards and turns in circles instead of walking forward.

To protect his feet I use the same RuffWear Skyliner boots that we used when he was still walking. To keep them from wearing out from the drag I layer the tops and toes of the boot with duct tape.  I have a whole little duct tape and boot factory going on outside in the screened in porch where we get ready to walk. We have quite an assortment or tape in many different themes thanks to his Aunt Nancy.

Once the boots are on then I have to attach his flag to the back of his wheels I don't keep it on all the time because it gets in the way when getting him in and out and I have almost poked my eye out with it more than a few times. The flag makes us visible but it also keeps his tail from riding on the wheel and getting dirty. A Pyrenees tail is usually held high and makes a circle this is called making the wheel. Tonka's neurological problem has affected  his tail as well and it does not stay up anymore. It mostly hangs to one side and very rarely wags. It is late when I get home and therefore dark so next I turn on all the lights on his wheels so we can be seen. I put on his collar, snap on his leash and then we are ready to go.

We usually walk with some of his friends but a lot of nights I run late at work and its just him and me. Tonight was a mix, I was late but his friends were nice enough to come back on their walk so we could go part of the way with them. So Tonka, Duke and Jake had a happy walk down to the end of our neighborhood. That is where we parted ways as Tonka and I had to cross over the busy street that separates our part of the community from his friend Nala's. Her mom had to work late and we went to let her out for a little while.

Duke and Jake in October
We stopped at Nala's and took her for a little walk in her neighborhood and then dropped her home and said goodnight. We headed back to the big busy road and made our way across dodging traffic.

When we got on the other side I noticed that the sound coming from behind the wheels had changed. I stopped him and looked back and realized he had lost a boot. I fired up the flashlight app on my phone and checked his foot to make sure we hadn't created a sore or lost a toenail. So far no blood just a toenail filed to a very sharp point. With no spare boot (which I kicked myself for) I had no choice but to put his foot up in the stirrup for the rest of the walk home.

Most dog owners would be able to just turn their dog around and go look for the boot but with Tonka to cross the busy street again and backtrack would take a large amount of time and it was already late. Now that his one foot was up he was slowing down even more with it stomping on the bar. I finally had to keep my hand on his neck to coax him going forward and get him home.

Once home I could not just go off and leave him and look for the boot. He was awesome at navigating the house when he could walk but he is not so great in the wheels. It's not the wheels that trip him up. The wheels are great and fit through all the doors but the fact that he is blind makes everything a bit tricky.  I couldn't just take him out of the wheels and lay him somewhere since walks are always close to breakfast or dinner and those are his potty times. Being that it was close to dinnertime I had to make sure he pooped. If I had just put him down on his blanket or bed I would have surely come home to a mess to clean up which is not fair to him and means more work for me (laundry).

I undid the strap for the flag and put it away, took off his lone boot, took off my muddy shoes and went inside to fill his water bowl and get his dinner. I let him eat while I inspected his foot and toenails in the better lighting for any damage. After he was done eating we wheeled back out of the porch and I made sure he went to the bathroom. It is easier to express his bladder out of the wheels but easier to make him poop while he is in them. If I have to express his bladder in the wheels 9 times out of 10 it ends up with a stream going sideways and hitting my leg and shoe. When we were done with the potty task I turned him around and back into the porch and cleaned the mud off his wheels to let him in the house.

He knows his routine and headed for the TV room to get settled on his blanket for the next few hours.  When he gets through the door to the room I have him stop and unhook him to lift him out of the wheels. Lately this is a fight as he wants to try and help push himself up and out. He ends up moving everything froward and pulling to the right which jerks me and the wheels off balance. This not so smooth exit has on occasion dragged me to the ground. I have learned now when he starts that  pull to balance back against it. His upper body has become incredibly strong and at 125lbs he can take you for a drag.

I got him up and out of the wheels and laying on his blanket and grabbed a pee pad (I keep them laying everywhere) and expressed his bladder. It is much easier to express him lying down as it does not put as much stress on my shoulders and elbows as when he is standing. If you have ever had to express a big dog and keep him balanced in a stand you will understand what I mean. If you have not ever expressed a big dog you will just have to trust me on this it is not as easy as it looks. Now that he was empty and situated for a while I could finally go back and look for the boot.

I jumped in the truck and drove back down to Nala's since that was the last place I remember seeing both boots on his feet. Its not a long drive but it was long enough to get some bad thoughts going in my head.

What if I hadn't noticed the difference in the sound and we had dragged that foot all the way back home? Open sores or the loss of a nail could open him up to a whole host of problems like infection  and having to remove a nail. How come I am not checking for the boots every couple of feet? How can I just assume they will stay on? Its my job to keep him safe.  The recurring thought of "what would happen to him if I were not here anymore" jumped into my head. He depends on me for everything and I am his caregiver for 95% of his daily life 24/7, 365 days a year. Would he be able to adapt and be happy with someone else?  Is there anyone else that would understand his needs and keep his routines? Would they keep up with his therapy?  If I were to die Tonka would go back to rescue, that is the contract I signed and their commitment to their dogs. I know they would try to place him with someone who would be good for him but in my head and heart I can't imagine him with anyone else.
It's amazing how fast your thoughts can spiral out on you. I got out of the truck and started walking our route and found the boot not far from Nala's so his foot was unprotected for less than a quarter of a mile. Long enough to wear his nail to a point and make a small dent on the side of one toenail.
Long enough to make me a bit crazy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

I Hate the Rain

I hate the rain. I don't like sprinklers or swimming pools. AP knows this and got me something new to try for when she makes me walk in  the rain. It was made to clip on the side of those red wagons that the kids in the neighborhood have and it clips onto the side of my wheels.

It keeps the rain from falling on my head so I like it......

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tonka January Friends

Chatting with Ms. May

Nala, Jake and Jazzie

Walking with Keith, Muffy and Pearl
Sweetpea, Shania and Muffy
Shania and Sweetpea pulling the Tonka Man

Love My Kids

Love Ms. Lisa

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Walking Underwater

AP here:
Today Tonka had the best session on the underwater treadmill ever. He was clearly walking, picking up his feet and placing them deliberately and staying mostly on center. It was a beautiful thing to see. Diana is holding onto his fur on the outside of his legs and will lift and move his legs forward when needed but in this session he is doing all the work. Now if only he could do that outside of the treadmill.....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013

AP here:
I for one am not sad to see the end of 2012. It was an emotional roller coaster of a year for me with Tonka's steady decline in mobility. The different Doctors and their theories, the horrible medications they had us try, his depression at not being able to get out to "see" his people and friends, its nice to bid adieu to all these things.

We ended 2012 with a therapy day which was a very positive way to go. He got to wheel around and see some of the amazing staff in the building.  Everyone treats him with such love and compassion, stopping to hug him (and slip him treats) so he is always excited to be there. He cruises up to the front desk, sticks his head up for some love and a cookie and Ms. Kim and Ms. Gloria are always ready for him. This time he got to see Brittany who had not seen him since September.  That was a horrible month and he was having to be carried in and out of the building. She was excited to see how well he was getting around in his wheels and how he was back to his happy go lucky self.

There was a positive in 2012 and that was the people we met at all the different specialty practices. Tonka has some amazing people in his corner like Chris Fritsch and Diana Huey at CVSS. They have worked with him every week through 2012 and always give us hope and support. I am not sure where we would be at this point physically or mentally without them.

The staff at VNOC Gina, Donna, Brittany and Shannon are always full of positive energy and give him lots of love and affection.He truly is a spoiled rotten boy by all that know him.

The newest addition to the "spoil Tonka rotten club" is Caitlin who works as a vet tech at Great Annapolis Vet Hospital and does pet sitting. I needed someone to come by and express his bladder and get him up and moved around so that I did not have to keep driving the 30 miles home mid day to take care of him. Caitlin was recommended to me by Carmel at GAVH who is the one that taught me how to express Tonka's bladder. She has always been so good to all of my animals and I trust her judgement completely. Caitlin has been a life saver and he is always so happy to "see" her because she is amazing with him and spoils him rotten.

Here is hoping 2013 is a better year health wise for my boy!