Tripawd Week 2 – some ups and downs but mostly ups

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After starting on Gabapentin, Mr Pig seems to have “bounced” a bit. He still had a couple of down days, but has definitely rejoined the family. On day 10 we took him on his first “adventure” and that really seemed to bring the sparkle back to his spirit. He’s a very intelligent dog who gets bored easily, so part of his frustration likely is due to being confined to the same short walks on our street.

Day 10 also coincided with the delivery of his webmaster harness, which made getting in and out of the vehicle a much easier task. He had a blast. But he also had his first fall this day – just lost his balance shortly after getting out of the car and kind of toppled down onto his amputation side. He cried a bit, but picked himself up and carried on after about 30 seconds. 

The next day (New Years Eve) he seemed in much better spirits and getting closer to being back to his “old self”. He gave us a bit of a scare when he took off at a full gallop, reacting to his brother reacting to another dog walking on the street (the joys of one reactive dog (Monkey) and one dominant dog who believes it’s his job to be in charge of everything (Mr Pig). He went from resting quietly with us on the deck to Mach 3 in a nanosecond and didn’t stop until he got to the fence line. If ever there was an indication he was keen to get back to his old self, this was surely it – there was no stopping him. Once he did stop he started to cry. But as with his fall, he came back around within a minute. Physical palpation was non-responsive for pain, and there was no appreciable increase in heat or visible swelling, so we’re reasonably confident that none of his internal suture lines had dehisced.

New Years Day we got back to the beach. We have a tradition of New Years morning sunrise runs, which we kept up this year with some modification. Mr Pig did the beach part while his brother and the Big Dawg ran 10k.

It certainly was a more low-key day at the beach than Mr Pig is used to, and he needed some support in the deeper sand, but he was very happy to be back at his happy place.

We still worry a bit about pain because he has yet to put any real weight on his amputation side. He’s attempted a few times to lie down on that side but as soon as he puts any real weight onto that hip, he gets back up. He’s also not drinking. For almost a week now, the only way I can entice him to stay hydrated is by mixing in a bit of milk with his water or by including things like diluted chicken broth with his meals. He’s normally a good drinker (likes to put half his head in the bowl and make tidal waves with his forceful slurping), so this has been a bit strange. But at least as long as he has his appetite, I know I can get his fluids in too.

Stitches come out tomorrow. Onwards and upwards!

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Mr Pig’s first week

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In the span of two days we went from rehabbing a persistent digital flexor tendon injury to amputation at the coxofemoral joint. Turns out what we thought was a tendon injury (and initially behaved like a tendon injury) was in fact a sarcoma. The biopsy that led to the diagnosis was only meant to be a “just in case there’s something there” when he was under anaesthesia for a PRP injection into the tendon. Nobody, not even his specialist vet surgeons, expected the diagnosis. We were devastated. Mr Pig is a Rhodesian Ridgeback who lives to run. Before the “injury” he was training with his humans for half marathons, regularly running 10-15km 5 days a week, with energy left over to rumble ninja-style with his brother.

Having the resources of the Tripawds community has certainly helped get us through some of the initial questions and difficulties. So thanks everyone for sharing your journeys as well.

We gave Mr Pig one last quadropawd run on the beach (his favourite place in the world) the day before his surgery.

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In anticipation of his homecoming after surgery, we did our best to put down anti-slip carpets over all our hardwood floors. This has really helped but he has actually been remarkably sure-footed. Even so, we can see that he deliberately tries to keep his single back leg on the carpet if he can, so we’re really glad we went to the effort (and thankfully just happened to have saved all the offcuts from when we had our carpets redone years ago, so only had to buy some anti-slip backing.). You can watch his homecoming video here:


View on Youtube

And his Christmas video here:

View on Youtube

After Christmas, however, he had a couple of off days. These coincided with removal of his Fentanyl patch Christmas morning, so we think he’s had a bit of pain coming through. We are now exactly one week post-op, and its hard to see him with less sparkle than his first few days home.  So we’ve just started a course of Gabapentin (which is for neuropathic pain). Paws crossed it helps. If not, he’ll have to go back in to have another Fentanyl patch applied (for obvious, though inconvenient, reasons the patch has to be applied by the prescribing surgeon – we can’t self apply).

He still hasn’t put any weight on the amputation site – always lying down on his right side. He seems to get around fine once he’s up, but getting comfortable while lying is a challenge. He’s also not used to being so sedentary and confined in his choice of lounging positions, so he seems to get frustrated at times.

His little brother has been really great (and by little, I mean younger and perpetual 5 month old puppy, they are both the same size). Normally a total fire cracker and shit disturber, his brother (Ace, aka Monkey), has been very deferential and reserved. We set up the crate so that we could keep him contained. Despite never having been crate trained, Monkey now preferentially prefers to be in the crate. We’ve called it the BatCave (since he is Ace the Bathound) and even gotten a BatCave sign for it. It may seem a bit over the top, but I’ve found it helps us humans to do these funny little things in our environment to make what is a difficult time more fun. (we posted a pic of the BatCave on the boys’ instagram – @mrpigandthemonkey – if you want to see).

Thankfully, Mr Pig has been really good at not wanting to lick his stitches. Although we put his jingle bell collar on for Christmas (and he actually kept then through his hospital admission too) they’ve actually proven quite helpful in knowing if he’s on the move or trying to lick when he’s out of our line of sight. At night, we have been using a thick towel wrapped around his neck and secured with tape to form a kind of soft neck brace that doesn’t allow him to reach around to the amputation site. So far this has proven effective and much more comfortable for him that the cone since he really prefers to have a wall or corner to lean up against to balance as he’s getting himself into a lying down position.

Finally, we went out and bought some high density foam kids mattresses for him to use. Buying dog-specific beds seems to be so much more expensive, even when they’re made out of the same thing and 1/2 the size. And for his “cave” (aka his Fortress of Solitude), the foam was too thick to allow him to get under the desk (which is where he wants to be) but a couple of thick, inexpensive yoga mats on top of the carpeted floors worked a treat.

So, paws crossed the new pain meds work to take the edge off his pain and he can get back to his more sparkly self soon. We’ll keep you posted.

Ps – in case you’re wondering about his name: Is original name is Tyson (named after the astrophysicist, not the boxer – he’s an intellectual, not a fighter). But when he was a baby puppy, he looked rather like a potbellied pig and when you rubbed his belly he would grunt like a piglet. So we started calling him piggy. But then he grew up and we felt he needed to be a little bit more dignified (especially since he was also coming in to Uni as a quasi support dog – more on that later), so he became Mr Pig, which is also an homage to his African roots in the form of the Lion King’s Pumba (“they call me MISTER PIG!”) So, he answers to both Pig (and Mr Pig) and Tyson. At Uni, he is now our full time wellness dog with regular office hours in the law library once a week, with extended hours during exams. So he’s now also Professor Pig, and he comes to my lectures sometimes.


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