It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Anna is a carbon copy of our very first foster Laynie (other than the fact that she’s brown and white and Laynie is black). I just can’t get over it. From the minute I picked her up and she was bouncing off the walls, all I could think about were the similarities. First, she is built just like Laynie- short and stout. She loves to give kisses. She has absolutely no leash manners and basically pulls me around the block, but she is much better when walking without Nola. She snorts and wags her tail a mile a minute when she is happy to see you. She was pregnant, and has the nipples to prove it. She is a snuggle bug and just wants to be near you. She has no house manners at all. She gets in Nola’s face an annoys the crap out of her. She’s much more calm when she is the only dog in the house. She loves bully sticks. She loves sleeping on our bed. Best of all, she is so sweet and our love for her is just a big as our love for Laynie.

P.S. Doesn’t she look just like the Dude from Love and a Six Foot Leash?

Expect the Unexpected: Our New Foster Anna

Going into this weekend I knew there would be a foster dog at our house. After this weekend, turns out that was pretty much the only that turned out to be true.

Saturday night I met Almost Home Rescue at a rest stop in Southern Maine to pick up Anna. (Maine has some strict rules about bringing in dogs from rescue transports, so it used to be that as long as they were in New Hampshire adopters could pick up their pups right off the transport truck. New Hampshire has since changed their importation rules, so now all dogs coming up from the south require a quarantine period, or a foster hold. That’s what Munchkin was, and that’s what we were doing for Anna because she had a family waiting for her.) As Anna came off the truck she had some serious energy. I expected to see a 35 pound petite pittie, with medium energy, and what I got was a 50 pound solid girl bouncing off the walls. I could barely hold on to her as she literally did a three foot vertical jump, twisting and pulling on the leash. She was so happy to be with a person; giving me kisses like it was her job. I could tell that she was a very sweet girl and the three days in the truck was a bit much for her energy level.

During the 20 minute drive home, I was thinking how much Nola is not going to like Anna’s crazy high energy, pushy personality. We really only agreed to take another female pit because it was for two days. We could keep them separate for two days, and not worry about stressing either of them out for such a short time. We did take them for a walk together when I got home, being careful not to really let them meet, just be aware the other one exists. Then, it was downstairs to the finished basement for Anna and I. We played, trying to get out some of that energy, until she conked out asleep. I slept with her on the couch, snuggling  and snoring like a true pittie.

Almost Home Rescue was having a reunion at a local park the next day, so I took Nola and the Mr. stayed home with Anna. Well, this is where the unexpected happened. Because all the AHR volunteers would be there, I knew I could talk to the President of the group and Anna’s adoption coordinator about some health concerns I had with Anna. Her spay incision looked a little infected and she had what looked like tapeworms. In our conversation, it came to light that the people who were adopting Anna were not 100% committed and that her adoption was contingent on a meet and great. Say what?! And then as I asked more about the people, I found out they have three young kids under six and that they were still under the impression that Anna was a 30 pound medium energy dog. Apparently there was a serious miscommunication going on here and it looked like out two day hold had the potential to turn into a long term foster. It was at this point that I lost it.

Through the tears I told the rescue coordinator and president all my concerns, the first being we did not expect to have a permanent foster and were not really prepared to keep her long term because of Nola’s low tolerance for females. The second being that this 50 pound ball of muscle has no house manners and is probably not a great fit for someone with three small children. And the third, and most upsetting, was my concern for poor Anna. What if I had shown up to meet these people thinking I was giving them their dog? I would have been mortified and I’m sure Anna would have been confused. Where would she go if we couldn’t keep her? They apologized for the misunderstanding and assured me that if it doesn’t work fostering her then they could find her somewhere else to go.

I called the Mr. and cried to him about the situation. We both decided that we were in this for the long haul. We had both already fallen in love with Anna’s sweet, loving personality. We have some work to do with introducing her and Nola, but we couldn’t bear the thought of uprooting this girl again and bringing her to another foster home.

So, the potential adopters are coming to meet her tonight. I’m not sure how it is going to go, but either way she is staying with us for a few more days. The people are going to meet her and let us know what they think. It turns out they were as unprepared to take her as we were. Obviously, I want her to go somewhere where she is the right fit and if that if it’s not with them, the Mr. and I are committed to helping this love bug find someplace that is.

Mainstream Care vs. Alternative Therapy: What is Right for Your Dog?

As Nola told you about on Monday, we started doing some rehab with her for her ACL injury. Our reasoning for this was twofold. One, we wanted to make sure her injury completely healed. Because it was only a partial tear, we were worried that if we let her go back to her normal activities too fast she might completely tear it. The second reason was that we wanted to prevent it from happening on the other leg. Our ultimate goal was to get her back as close to her ‘normal’ activity level as we could. The Mr. and I are active, we like to take Nola to the beach, hiking, swimming, biking, and running. She also really likes to play. We didn’t want to go through life cringing every time she ran faster than a trot, crossing our fingers she doesn’t injure her leg again.

I came across Gayle at Pawsitive Results K9 Rehabilitation through this blog. I shared my friend Shelley’s story about her dog Payson, and so did Jessica from Notes from a Dog Walker. Gayle and Jessica worked together at a local shelter, so when she saw the post, Gayle requested Shelley’s info so she could talk to her about other options. Then, Shelley told me about what Gayle had to offer which was a mix of laser therapy, hydrotherapy, manual therapy and strengthening exercises. Gayle also told her that she thought Payson didn’t need surgery at all. All I could think of was how does she know that without even seeing him? The vet said he needed surgery, so isn’t that the best option to repair his injury?

When Nola first got hurt and we were unsure if she would need surgery, our agility trainer sent me an article from the Whole Dog Journal about choices of care for an ACL injury. One option was called conservative management. What I got from the article was that for bigger dogs with complete ruptures, conservative management was not always a viable option and surgery is usually the better option. Turns out since Nola’s was only a partial tear, and surgery was not necessary at the time, we decided we were going to try conservative management. Our vet, who we love and who saved Nola’s life after her accident, told us we should do absolutely no activity for two weeks and then slowly let her start doing things again. He kept comparing it to a sprained ankle on a human. But with Nola, when you give her a little bit of freedom with exercise, she wants it all. And, if her injury was like an ankle sprain with humans, we don’t just go from complete rest to walking again. Some physical therapy and rehab is usually part of our recovery. So why did he not suggest something like that for Nola?

The most confusing part was the completely opposite points of view and treatment plans from the two different professionals. The vet says surgery or rest, and the animal rehabilitation therapist says laser and exercises. How does the average person differentiate between the two methods and chose what is best for their dog when neither professional even mentioned the other options? Each kind of treatment plan offers differing costs, healing periods and amount of time and energy. When the vet you love and trust tells you one thing, but then someone else offers you another more revolutionary option, how do you decide what is right for your dog?

Because of Nola’s situation, we could do a combination of the two. We did rest her for the first 4-6 weeks, but then we went to Gayle for a consult to see what she thought the best option was for us, keeping our ultimate goal in mind. I was still unsure about the laser therapy, but I figured we would give it a shot.  According to Gayle, low level laser therapy is used to increase quality and speed of tissue repair, decrease inflammation and aid pain relief. Gayle described it as helping the cells regenerate at a faster rate so that the injury could heal better. We started off with five sessions in a row. Each session was a combination of some manual therapy, 15-20 minutes of laser therapy and then 10-15 minutes of hydrotherapy. Gayle’s pool is salt water and heated, which helped Nola exercise without the added strain of running. And, it has a ramp to get in and out of so there was no climbing out. She said that 1 minute of swimming is equal to 5 minutes of running, so it was great for Nola to help build her endurance again.
It’s been two weeks and a total of 8 sessions. Gayle is happy with Nola’s progress and thinks we are well on our way to our goal of getting Nola back to her ‘normal’ activity level. She said that agility was probably not good for her, but we could try other lower impact classes like Rally-O if we wanted to do something like that. Although we are sad that the jumping part of agility will keep Nola on the sidelines, the idea that we will soon be able to hike, let Nola run off leash, and let her play with her friends again is so comforting. We have exercises to do at home with her to strengthen both legs, and we will check in with Gayle again in two weeks.

So, my point to this post is that you have to do your research and trust your gut. In my opinion it is a mix of mainstream veterinary practices and some alternative therapies that ultimately is the best solution. I think we should not be close-minded to one option or the other. Although something that a vet recommends might in fact be the best option for your dog, it is important to ask the questions and seek out alternatives that could help speed up recovery time, or in our case, help make sure the injury doesn’t get worse. And, as it turns out, Nola really loves all the chicken jerky she gets at Gayle’s, so we’re all happy!

Nola Muffin Monday: They tried to make me go to rehab…

And I said…yes! yes! yes!

Over the past several weeks I’ve been going rehab for my ACL injury. I don’t really know how it is supposed to help, but what I do know is the lady there has delicious home made chicken jerky. It’s a pretty sweet deal- I go there and lay down while the chicken jerky lady rubs my legs and mommy feeds me jerky. I just have to let the lady use her beepy laser thing on my leg. It doesn’t hurt, and it really doesn’t bother me one bit. I just like the jerky!

Mommy, quit taking pictures and feed me jerky!

And as if it couldn’t get any better, I get to swim after! There is a nice warm salt water pool in the backyard. Mommy or the chicken lady come in and throw my toy and I swim after it. There is even a ramp to get out so I don’t have to climb out!
If this is what rehab is, I can see why so many famous people go there! I never want to leave.