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!


Acd Pack said...

Hi Tonka! We've been wondering what you have been up to and today, there were all your recent posts. Strange that they weren't there before, we check for you regularly. We think your new umbrella is great!

AP, I feel so bad for you and your stress over Tonka. I understand your concerns about "what if", I feel that way too with one deaf and three blind and two others.

The pads that you use for Tonka, are they disposable? I know it's not even close to the same, but we use pads for Brook's crate since she can't "hold it" very long. The pads we use are actually adult incontinence pads that I found at a thrift store for $1.25 each! They stay dry on top and have been washed repeatedly and are fantastic! Just a thought.

Please give Tonka from all of us!

Tonka said...

Thanks for the suggestion Acd Pack I will have AP look into the pads.
<3 Tonka

liparifam said...

Bless your heart - I understand your concerns. There ARE people out there who would and could take care of Tonka, but this is all moot, because nothing is going to happen to make that necessary :)