Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Meet Tonka's supporting cast: Ollie Lollie

Hi everyone -- this week I am guest blogging.  My name is Oliver (Ollie Lollie).  I am a 3 year old RESCUED newfoundland.  I have had the utmost pleasure and honor of personally knowing Tonka and Alice.  First, I wanted to tell you a little about me.
I was rescued two years ago.  I was just over a year old and only 90 pounds and had developed and staph infection ALL OVER MY BODY.  I was dropped off on newfie rescue's doorstep.  I was extremely lucky to find my forever home within 48 hours.  My mom and dad both work in the vet business and were able to nurse me back to health.  I am now a HEALTHY 150 pound newfie who enjoys my two lab brothers and have learned to kiss and hug.

Tonka and I have met on several occasions and  traveling together at our events -- we get a lot of compliments! So many people think we are the same breed -- just different colors. I do love him and he has taught me, my mom and so many other people that just because you are dealt a bad hand it does not need to control your life.
As Tonka and Alice begin another journey down an uncertain road, I implore you to keep positive thoughts, send hugs and please just support both of them.  My mom and I have never met  a more dedicated mom --- EVER!.  BOTH OF THEM are going through a tough battle and while most people have an opinion on what should, could or would be done, you never know until your baby is put in that position.

See just like me and my mom, Tonka is Alice's heart and soul.  She has taken an already amazing dog and nurtured, loved, supported and has redefined the role of caregiver.  But with that -- Alice is hurting beyond words and needs us to support her in her decision and course of treatment for Tonka. 
Tonka and Alice have taught me that no matter what life throws your way, you don't need to to define  your life.  Tonka is proof positive of that as well as my self.
So, take a moment, step back and ask if this was your heart and soul - -what would you do?  I am pretty sure you would do exactly what Alice has done ... everything in her power to make Tonka happy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Mayor and his Momma

Liam’s Mom here. 

I’m guest-posting today to bring you some news and to share with you how Tonka changed my life.
The news is devastating and heartbreaking and completely, utterly unfair.  Tonka has been diagnosed with cancer and AP is working to find a way through this last leg of their journey together.  Her heart is broken but she’s strong and resilient, so I have faith she’ll be back soon. 

In 2010, my husband and I lost our big lummox, Jake, to old age and bad hips.  It’s our tradition to rescue a dog in remembrance of one we’ve lost, so once we regained our balance (eg. I stopped blubbering at the sight of Jake’s dish) my husband and I began checking PetFinder for another big boy to love. 

Around the same time, the Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue listed a pup named Liam.  Like Tonka, Liam was born blind.  Can I tell you how intimidated we were by a big, blind, super-smart guardian dog?  We were beyond daunted.  Liam’s foster suggested we read Tonka’s blog to learn about life with a blind Pyr.  After a lot of reading and some long talks with AP, my husband and I decided that we should meet Liam.  We were also excited to meet Tonka.  He’s a famous blogger, you know.

We met Liam at an adoption event and it was love at first sight.  AP taught us everything we needed to know about the big, blind, super-smart guardian dog and she’s been there for us every step of the way.  Thank you, Tonka and AP, for everything you’ve done to make Liam the amazing boy he is today.  He’s a best-friend and super-snuggler who throws a hucklebutt party every evening when we get home. 


AP said recently that Tonka is the Mayor of their neighborhood.  He truly is a goodwill ambassador who has touched the lives of dogs and people alike.  He lives LARGE, that dog.  In the coming days, I hope more of Tonka’s peeps will share their stories that celebrate the life of The Mayor and bring comfort to his Momma.

Liam and Tonka 2 blind boys checking out the scenery

Monday, May 13, 2013

Surgery and Recovery

AP here:
First I apologize about not posting sooner but the past week has been a little stressful and anything but routine. Wednesday May 1st was Tonka's surgery date and we arrived at 7:15am to check in. Instead of taking him in the back and making him wait in a kennel they allowed him to stay in the lobby with me on a blanket. Of course this was perfect for him as people coming to work or coming to see the Doctor's got to stop and fuss over him.

Hanging in the Lobby

Diana came and got him to go back to see the cardiologist and made sure that everything was set for him for the day. Since Tonka has had heart surgery he had to go back and have the cardiologist listen to his heart to make sure everything sounded good and give the thumbs up for anesthesia.  She came back with him and everything was a green light for surgery later in the day.  He had go back again a little later to have his legs shaved and prepped for the IV's. In true Tonka style he decided to have a nosebleed while they were getting him ready - he can never make anything simple. They wheeled him back out to me with a towel to help stop and wipe the blood away from his nose and at that point he decided to take a nap.

Ready for Surgery
I had to wake him around noon to take him back for surgery so we wheeled to the prep room and I kissed him on the nose and told him I would see him soon. I also said out-loud to no one in particular "please don't let anything happen to him".
It was a very long surgery and was nerve wracking as the hours ticked away. Thank goodness for his Aunt Gina who kept giving me updates and the friends who stopped by to help try to keep my mind occupied on other things.

It was very late in the afternoon when I got to talk to the surgeon Dr. Roa and found out that he had discovered 3 tumors instead of the 1 they knew about. Two of them were in places that were tricky to remove and so he had to scoop them out and then hand sew which took a lot of time.

We are very fortunate to have the support of a lot of people and I cannot thank them all enough for looking out for us. Brittany and Gina made sure I had lunch and coffee while I was camped out and Chris showed up Wednesday night with a homemade dinner and dessert that was delicious.  I spent the night in the truck just in case something happened overnight as I did not want to be too far away. Becky was his vet tech for the first 2 nights and was very patient with me calling several times to check on him. All of the staffs were so helpful and always positive and Shannon was always there for me late in the day to chat and see if I needed anything.

Thursday morning my wonderful friends Eileen and Patty dropped off orange juice, muffins, bananas and chips to make sure I had breakfast and some snack food. Around 8:45 Dr. Roa came to the lobby and took me back to see my very drugged boy. He was so stoned on pain meds it took him a few minutes to catch on that I was there.
Hey Mom!

I got to sit with him for a little while and sing him his favorite songs till he fell back asleep. 

 On the way back to the lobby I asked the Dr. when I could come back and see him again and he said to try around 3:00. I spent the morning in the lobby with a very sweet Doberman (Riley) that was there for the day for a chemo appointment. At 3:00 I went up to the desk and asked if they could call to the back and see if I could see him. They buzzed back and told me to wait just a minute someone would be up. I was standing there waiting when Dr. Roa himself came up with Tonka in his wheels and said lets go for a walk. I was so surprised - it was amazing - he was happy as could be wheeling through the lobby and out the door. We walked him to the back of the building and into a grassy area so he could get some fresh air. I was just in awe - here was my boy that just underwent this extensive surgery the day before up and smiling.

The Amazing Dr. Roa
Happy, Happy Boy
His Aunt Gina came out back and gave him some hugs which made him even happier. Dr. Roa and I took him back in and to his comfy spot in the recovery area and I sat with him for a bit while they hooked him up to his IV's. It wasn't long till he was fast asleep with his head on a big pillow.

Good Night
I resumed my position in the lobby feeling very relieved that he was doing so well. I was told I could see him again at 7:00 so I settled in to wait.

At 7:00 when I went back he was sound asleep so I kissed him good night and returned to the lobby.

Friday morning I got to go back really early and cuddle up with him for awhile.

Hugging the pillow

Later he was definately more alert.

But not for long....

Friday afternoon he was more like his own self as they were weaning him off of the big pain meds so that he could come home on Saturday
Happy Man
Friday night I waited for Dr, Roa to get finished surgery so I could ask him about Tonka coming home on Saturday morning. CVRC houses 6 practices in one building and one of those is the ER it became very apparent how much like a human ER it is on a Friday night with how busy it got. I got to meet with Dr. Roa and unfortunately Tonka had vomited and that is something to be very careful with after abdominal surgery so there was a chance I would not get to take him home like I had planned. I went back to say goodnight and tell him no more getting sick. Of course being Tonka he just laughed at me.

OK Mom

Trying to stay optimistic I drove home anyway and outfitted the truck with the bike hitch so that we could use Tonka's big stroller to get him home. Instead of lifting him into the truck I thought it would be easier on everyone to put him in the stroller and lift it in and out. I got everything loaded up and slept for a few hours before heading back.

Saturday morning I was there early and they let me go back and cuddle up with him and he and I fell fast asleep. Dr. Roa actually woke us up when he came by to check on him. 

He told me that we would see how he did throughout the morning and he would let me know by 9:30 if I could take him home. I took up my seat in the lobby and did some work on my laptop and sure enough around 9:00 I was told he was going home. I signed all of his discharge papers and they went over his post op instructions with me and gave me his medications.  I went out to the truck and put the stroller together and wheeled it in to get ready for him. Dr. Roa came out a little while later with Tonka in tow. He then helped me get him from the wheels to the stroller and we lifted the stroller in the truck. Dr. Roa gave me some last minute instructions, answered some of my questions and after I gave him a huge hug Tonka and I headed home.

Loaded in the Truck
Snoozing on the way home

Once home we wheeled around back and parked the boy on one of his favorite blankets to snooze away the afternoon.

I really cannot thank everyone enough for the help and support through this. I am truly grateful!