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Old dog, new tricks

Dakota gets his 3rd chance at age 9

It’s my 2-week ampuversary!

February25

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I don’t have a freakin’ clue what an ampuversary is, but my Woman told me that if I was going to write this blog (another word that sounds like something I hawked up), I should say it’s my 2-week ampuversary. I think she means it’s been 2 weeks since these nice ladies talked to me while I went to sleep and then forgot to guard me and let someone come in and chop off my leg. What’s so special about that? I think it’s a lot like D-Day, another day that will live in infamy. And I don’t trust my Woman now because that’s twice that she took me someplace and let people cut off important bits.

Anyway, I did something that amazed my Woman. You see, my Man and my Woman and my Boy got up early and then left the house really fast. Last night they were putting a bunch of stuff into bags and boxes and I know what that means. It means someone is going away and leaving me with this monkeydog Evelyn. But I never know who’s leaving, and sometimes that stresses me out a bit. I stress easily. I’m rather delicate that way. So I got nervous that I was being left. I decided to see if anyone else was here. I went upstairs to the big bedroom. I haven’t tried going upstairs since they whacked off my leg, but it wasn’t too hard, I guess. Honestly, I don’t remember how hard it was. I have a bad memory, too.

I lay down in the big bedroom and waited to see what would happen and if anyone was going to come home. And I knew that the closed door had someone behind it, someone still asleep. My Man and Woman’s other Boy is living here with his Woman. They are staying for a little while. Something about moving here and finding a house. Anyhoo, I knew that Woman was in there and she would see me when she woke up. And she did! And she was so surprised and she made funny noises and gave me lots of love. And then she had to figure out how the hell to get me down the stairs because I didn’t think that far ahead. But we worked it out.

So that’s my ampuversary story. My Woman came home without my Man. I guess he is gone for awhile. That’s ok, because my Woman is the one who knows the food trick so she’s the important one. I heard her say I should be sweet to him because he paid for the amputation, whatever that means. They’re such funny guys.

Love, D.

Me, my bed and my Boy


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posted under recovery | 6 Comments »

Dakota takes a turn

February24

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Ok, the Woman is not a dog but she is my mom. I thought she liked me. I like her. But she humiliated me. She wrote a silly thing about making me wear that awful pink thing and then she put pictures here so you could all see how goofy and feminine I look in a pink thing. That is humiliating. So I took over. At least for now. I read how to change the name on the account and put my name on it. It is now Dakota Dawg’s blog. I am Dakota Dawg, and I do not wear pink!

I would like to address Mom’s concerns. First of all–yes, the damn thing itches like crazy. It drives me bananas. If I could take a stick and rub it all over the sore place, I would. It hurts when I lick it, but it feels good, too. I don’t know which to pay attention to, the hurting when I lick it or the itching when I don’t. Mom doesn’t have any idea how awful it feels. She says it will stop itching soon. I don’t know if I can trust her anymore.

And no, I wasn’t being naughty. I was being a dog. Or a dawg, even. I am a wild animal, a creature of nature, and I shouldn’t have to answer to anyone but myself. I know who I am and what I deserve. I deserve to feel better, I deserve to run around wherever I want and pee on anything I feel like. I deserve to bark at whatever time I want to bark. I deserve to have that big pillow on the left side of my bed, and I deserve to have my supper at 4 p.m. sharp. Mom’s getting better about that last part.

This morning I sat on the driveway while Mom did the heavy lifting. I watched her bring in firewood. I was wearing the silly pink shirt thing. I can’t figure out how to get it off. But she did the hard work and I thought about licking my butt. I learned how to prop up against a wall to make it look even lazier. I tried to make it look good. The neighbor’s dogs were mouthing off again and I growled. I haven’t felt like growling for a couple of weeks, but today I did. I thought about running off into the woods and kicking their butts, but I remembered I was doing a study in laziness so I stayed propped against the wall. And growled. And honestly, I also remembered that I was wearing a pink thing and knew I could never let them see me like that.

I found the pictures Mom took of me in the pink thing. The worst part was being betrayed by Evelyn. She just sat there with me and didn’t care that I had to wear her clothes–girl clothes. She laughed at me after Mom put us to bed. She is the worst roommate in the whole world. See? She didn’t help me at all. My eyes are pleading for help and she didn’t care.

Evelyn was useless when Mom put the pink thing on me. I was very disappointed.

I’m not sure if I will lock Mom out of this blog permanently. I have to think about it. She really ticked me off. She has let strangers cut off several parts of my body that were pretty important to me and then wounded my dignity. I’m gonna take a nap and sleep on it. I’ll get back to you.

posted under recovery | 4 Comments »

Dakota is naughty

February24

Dakota’s incision must be itching something fierce because last night he started licking it through the shirt he’s been wearing, saturating the shirt. He managed to pull the shirt-tail up and lick the lower part of the incision. He even opened up a little gap, and it started bleeding slightly. The surrounding skin was red and splotchy. Overall, it did not look so great and he would not leave it alone. Because I’d changed his shirts every time he got them wet, I ran out of things to put on him. And I needed something that would be impossible for him to pull up. (I’d even safety-pinned the shirt-tails snugly around him.) The only thing left to put on him was Evelyn’s stylish pink fleece. It even has a hood.

Dakota seemed unhappy about this change of wardrobe, but I thought he was kind of cute. Pink isn’t really his color, but maybe he’ll stop licking that incision and opening it up!

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Makin’ it look easy!

February23

Dakota is not quite at the 2-week mark and he continues to act like nothing happened. He makes it look easy sometimes. Not always…but when he does, it makes us all smile.

Yesterday I decided to see if Dakota would willingly use his dog door. He’d gone out of it once since his surgery but hadn’t come back in that way. He really did not want to exit through the dog door and I had to force the issue. To please me, he did it and then turned around and watched me through the window. I called to him and he bounced right back in, so it’s obvious that using the door itself is not a problem for him. Unfortunately, there isn’t much flat land out there and he has little room before he needs to go uphill. I think this is disturbing to him. We’re talking about how to make things easier in this regard. Since that hillside is covered in deep, crusty snow, it may not be a comfortable place for him any longer.

This morning Dakota, Evelyn and I walked out front and down the driveway a little way. Dakota peed (much easier for him now that he’s given up trying to lift a leg) and sniffed around, rolled in the snow some, and then was ready to come back inside. His gait was markedly different this morning. He was not using his head to bounce along nearly as much as he had been, and walking directly behind him it was hard to tell that he was missing a leg. He made that part look so easy!

Dakota’s been off pain meds, except for his maintenance Deramaxx for arthritis, for a few days. He’s doing fine. He still sleeps a lot and lays down almost all the time. I don’t know if tripawds eventually sit more or less, stand more or less, or how they really spend their days. This is something we will discover as time goes by. I also wonder when I’ll stop thinking “holy crap! What happened to your leg!” when I look at Dakota. Since it hasn’t even been 2 weeks yet, I know it’s normal to still be startled. But watching him roaming around this morning, he looked just like any other dog.

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Stitches out, fighting with the roommate; it’s a normal day!

February21

Seroma, day 10 (not too big)

Today is day 10 for Dakota and we celebrated by getting his stitches removed. I wanted to wait a couple of days more, but Dakota had been going to town trying to scratch the awful itch they created, and I wanted to have that abdominal bruising looked at. Turns out day 10 is perfectly fine for suture removal and everything had closed up nicely.

Dakota does have a smallish seroma, which I suspected, but it isn’t large enough to require any treatment. After the stitches were out, there was some fluid oozing in one reddened area so I think it may find its own drain. Sounds nasty, doesn’t it? A couple of days ago Dakota did begin licking the incision and irritated a spot, and this is where the oozing is coming form.

The bruising is ok, although of course no one will commit to saying it’s actually from the surgery. There have been all kinds of caveats issued: It could be a platelet disorder that only last week manifested; it could be internal bleeding from who knows what that just popped up…I don’t think so.

After we got back home, Dakota’s bulldog Evelyn (the worst roommate in the world, remember) tried to snag a bone from his mouth. Evelyn had been left home with at least 5 bones while we were gone, but once we got home the only one she couldn’t live without was the one Dakota picked up. They really went at it for a moment, and I had to intervene. All I could envision was Dakota’s shoulder tearing open and everything falling apart. It was really rather frightening. In retrospect, Dakota now cares if Evelyn wants to steal from him. Several days ago he would probably not have lifted his head to protest.

So the mending continues and I’m hopeful that Dakota will regain more strength every day. He is doing much better outside, avoiding obstacles and not falling down. The worst navigation challenges come from his persistent running into people, especially me. He often doesn’t seem to know what to do with his body and just rams right into my legs. I think he wants me to move out of his way, but I just can’t always do that. He also needs to learn to moderate his speed. I understand why faster is easier for him, but boy is it fast! I’m very sure he can slow down a bit and still keep up good momentum.

Now the challenge will be to keep Dakota quiet for another week so the seroma can resolve. Oh yeah, and he absolutely can’t keep licking at the incision, either. I guess he’s still going to be modeling some tasteful duds for the next week or so.

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What came before

Dakota is our Golden Retriever mix, and he was likely born in February 2002. His full name is South Dakota Watson, and we found him on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in August 2002. The area we discovered him had no homes, no structures, no bodies of water, no shelter. He had his permanent teeth but was still a puppy, so we assumed 6 months was a reasonable age guesstimate. He weighed 12 pounds, which was grossly underweight. Two weeks later, he weighed 23 pounds. He was too weak to eat much so we fed him 6 times a day. Sometimes he would just collapse at his food dish and fall down, and I would have to feed him by hand.

I wish Dakota could write this page because he is the only one who knows the beginning. From his birth until the day we found him, we have no idea what he endured. Well, that’s not entirely true. We know some of it, and other bits we can infer from his behavior. For instance, we know for a fact that Dakota was suffering from malnutrition, sarcoptic mange, assorted internal parasites, flea anemia, dehydration and dental enamel hypoplasia (pitting and staining of the teeth commonly resulting from distemper as a puppy before the teeth emerge). We can infer that Dakota had distemper from the hypoplasia. We can infer that he was deliberately dumped. And we can infer that a man in a baseball cap wearing sunglasses hit him with some kind of stick and chased him off with a hose. Dakota has problems with all of those things.

Dakota has every reason in the world to hate people, but he doesn’t. He’s very mistrustful of strangers, but he is beyond loyal to his family. Once he meets someone and gets the ok from us, he opens his heart to them, too. He is very attached to me, probably because he was isolated (due to the mange) for the first 11 weeks we had him. He had nice digs set up for him in our house, but he could only look at our other 2 dogs and not touch them. I was the one providing all his care during that time, as we found out the hard way that mange can be transfered to humans. To protect our young son, no one but me played with Dakota during those 11 weeks.

Because we feel pretty sure that Dakota survived distemper, and he survived being abandoned, surviving cancer should be no biggie for him.

We know Dakota’s cancer is not an osteosarcoma, and his chest films were clear, one month apart. We are very optimistic about his long-term prognosis in light of those facts. Hopefully we have several more years with him and he will grow old with us, just as he should.

Right after we got home with Dakota, all 12 pounds of him.

Eyes swollen shut, ragged ears, and just as calm as could be.