Toby’s on a Diet

 

That’s not Toby, of course, but the point is relevent:  our boy is not as svelte as he used to be.

In fact, the last time I took him into the vet, he weighed a whopping 44 pounds!

Granted, Toby has never been a small Shiba, and he looks positively thin at 35 pounds.  Also, he’s been on prednisdone for allergies (poor boy lost the hair on his neck and chest!), and that made him retain fluid and look a little puffy, so I supposed he was more like 42 pounds off the steroids.   Even so, there’s no way around it.  He needs to lose weight.

I’m a bit puzzled as to why he has gained so much.  Granted, he doesn’t exercise much (Toby’s idea of exercise is moving from the sofa, to the crate, to the chair).   And he’s a master scavenger.  But still, he usually only gets one chicken neck or half a chicken back a day, so it’s not like he’s eating much.  And as you know, HE’S HUNGRY!

So we’re trying something different.  He’s getting a bit of pollack (half a fillet) and some frozen green beans.  Normally, Toby doesn’t much like vegetables, but HE’S HUNGRY, so he’s eating them with gusto.  What I’ve noticed on day three of the fish and veggie diet for Toby is that he’s not acting quite as ravenous as usual, so I’m hoping this is filling him up a bit more (while still being relatively low in calories).

I hope with a new diet, and some exercise (yes, Toby, we are going to resume our walks), he’ll soon be his only mildly plump self, rather than the enormous great pumpkin Shiba he has become.

Of course, Toby is a scavenger par excellence (or forager, as he prefers to call himself), so I have to make sure there is nothing out that he can forage.  Or we’ll have something like this:

 

 

And our boy does not need to be eating cake.  I’ll keep you all posted on his progress.

And speaking of progress, Bel is NOT on a diet, but she is much improved.  She’s eating well (or as well as Bel ever eats), and her hair is slowly growing back in:

 

Bel has a snack

 

She is also able to walk–and even run!–on her leg now, and though I’m trying to keep the running to a minimum, it’s encouraging that she’s not carrying the leg anymore, or limping.  She can’t sit normally yet, but she is able to get into her “froggy” pose, with her legs out behind her, and she seems to be feeling well overall.

On a near final note, Toby  would like to remind everyone that there is still time to get a great Shiba print here, with proceeds going to ARK.   We finally ordered this one, which Toby liked because it shows a Shiba pissing on an Akita (ok, the Hachiko statue!) and Toby finds that deeply satisfying.  He still is not happy with the fact that there is an Akita in our household!

And I’d like to thank the Shibal Inu crew for the great fundraiser for a good cause,  and for drawing my attention to the Soft Bank commercials, which fit in so well with this post!

And this really is the final note:  if you’d like to hear more  Shiba adventures from another perspective,  check out this and this from Mornings with Birds.   Shibas and birds: it’s all fun and games til someone gets hurt.  Or til the humans intervene before  damage can be done.

Feeding Bel

Bel is sick.  She may be ill because of liver damage from her meds, as I suspect, or  she may simply  not  feel well from all of them–I won’t know until I get a full liver panel done next week.  But in any case, the little girl does not feel well, and has not eaten a full meal since Thursday.

Our little sick girl

I was quite worried about her on Saturday and Sunday, but since then, she seems slightly better.  Until today, she was not willing to eat anything on her own; I had to syringe liquid into her mouth.   However, she’s since taken a bit of her puree by spoon, and we just had a victory!  She ate something out of a dish on her own:  1/4 cup of vanilla ice cream!  No, that’s not a normal part of her diet, but at this point, I’m more interested in getting something in her to keep her blood sugar up.

She has managed to keep everything down, so far,  though she did vomit up some water earlier today.  She’s not out of the woods yet.  But the fact that she takes anything is a plus.

When I had to force feed Toby, I hadn’t thought of the idea of pureeing the food and then squirting it down his throat with a syringe.  I had to stuff food in his mouth, then hold his mouth shut until he swallowed.  It was a VERY slow process, and so far, Bel is unwilling to chew anything.   She utterly refused her fish and potato mush (which is very much coveted by the other dogs):

No! I don't want it!

So I made a puree.  I took the fish mush and mixed it with goat’s milk, chicken broth, and a little Ensure to add to the calorie count.   Sometimes I give it to her just like that, squirted into her mouth.

Last night, after syringing the liquid into her mouth every two hours, I noticed that she was starting to lick at the syringe, which suggested to me she might be ready to progress to the next step.  So I made her puree a bit thicker by adding some chicken and rice flavored baby food.  At first, she was unimpressed:

I'm not eating!

But I’d heated it a bit too, hoping the smell might get her interested, so eventually she had to take a sniff:

Hmm...what is that?

And then finally, she decided to take just a little taste:

 

It's not bad!

And then, a little more:

 

She likes it!

Success!

Leave it to a Shiba to refuse to eat unless it’s off a spoon!

Feeding Bel is a pretty time-consuming, though.   She won’t eat much at once, which is ok, because I’ve read that small meals are better anyway for dogs who have overtaxed livers.   The most I manage to feed her at one time is about a 1/4 cup of anything, whether it is the puree, the puree/baby food mix, or ice cream.   That’s not very much, and I’ve really only gotten up to the 1/4 cup at a time yesterday and today.  To put this in perspective, we still haven’t worked through an entire bottle of Ensure, and each bottle has 250 calories.   Since I mix it with other things, I’d guess she’s managed to get maybe 300 calories today, so far, maybe closer to 400 now that she just had her ice cream.   It’s not enough.

But it’s better than Saturday, when I could barely get her to take anything at all.  And she’s drinking on her own, so she’s not at risk of becoming dehydrated.

Toby, who has clearly entirely forgotten his own experience with liver disease and forced feeding, is a bit demoralized by all the attention Bel is getting, but because she’s sick, they’ve been able to be together in the house:

Toby dreams of fish mush

You may have noticed that in the feeding pictures she doesn’t have her “cone” on.   I take it off when I feed her, even though it does kind of function like a giant plastic bib–all the things she pushes out of her mouth end up in the cone for easy clean up!  I can’t leave it off very long, though, because she immediately starts licking at her incision site if I do.   The wound itself looks good–it’s clean and healing well,  and her fur is growing back:

Unfortunately, she keeps licking at a spot that the splint rubbed on, and she’s polished it down in to bare skin.  This is why I have to keep the cone on.  I also put a bit of calendula cream on that spot and on the incision a couple of times a day to help speed the healing along.

The dark spot is where she licks

Poor Bel!  Between being shaved and being sick and not eating, she’s looking positively thin:

Little Miss Wasp Waist

But she is doing better today, and I’ll keep feeding her every few hours and dosing her with milk thistle and B vitamins, and I expect she’ll continue to make progress.   And next week, she’ll be back to the vet for a full liver panel.

And there is some good news:  she’s walking on her leg quite normally these days, and is even able to get into her “froggy” pose, where she stretches her back legs out behind her when she’s laying down.  So the surgery, at least, seems to have been a success.

Bel’s recovery: three weeks out and a setback

Friday, Bel was three weeks from her surgery for a luxating patella and for a very damaged ACL.  As you may recall, she has been wearing a splint.  My vet wanted it to stay on another week, but after careful consideration, I took the splint off on Weds.   I decided to do this, mostly, because the padded splint had gotten wet and was smelly and was probably uncomfortable.  I also knew that many vets don’t use a splint at all for these kinds of surgery, so it seemed to me Bel had nearly three weeks of immobilization, but probably didn’t need any more.   I also thought the splint was rubbing on her groin a bit.

So off it came, and indeed, Bel immediately put weight on the leg once the splint was off:

Bel out of her splint

There was a red spot on her thigh that was from the splint, and I think part of her reluctance to walk on the leg was because of that.

As you can see, her poor little naked leg looks as if it has had some atrophying of the muscles, so now we’ll need to work on that.   On Weds (when this picture was taken) and on Thursday and Friday, I was able to take her for some very very slow walks around the yard, and she was willing to put weight on that leg, until she got excited and wanted to run–then she tried to carry the leg.

Here’s another picture of our poor little thin-legged girl and her odd haircut:

She almost has a poodle cut!

I got some great tips from a Nihon Ken forum friend who has been through physical therapy with his dog, and had planned to start working with Bel more, but I noticed that on Friday evening, she was acting odd:  very restless and pacing, and drinking (and peeing) a lot.  She wouldn’t take her pills, though, and she usually takes them very well, provided they are nestled in something she likes:

Bel's meds in liverwurst

or cream cheese or peanut butter.  But on Friday night, she refused to take her pills, and wouldn’t eat her dinner either, even though it was particularly tasty:  a (raw) sirloin steak.

This worried me, but Bel has always had a bit of an eating disorder:  sometimes she eats, and some days she doesn’t, so I wasn’t that worried about it, though it did remind me, a bit, of when Toby stopped eating after he was seriously injured by little Miss Jezebel.  Toby had liver damage, and while he healed and his liver is healthy again, it was a very slow process.

This morning, she was still not eating, and was lethargic.  She would not take her pills, or eat anything I tried to tempt her with.  This worried me.  Her pee seemed a little brighter than usual too.  She drank some water around noon, then promptly threw it up with some yellow frothy bile–also a bad sign, and very, very similar to what had happened to Toby.

So I decided to look up the drugs she is taking.   And now I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner, because of the six pills she takes twice a day, only one (the thyrosyn for her thyroid) does not affect the liver.  In fact, some of them are not supposed to be given together, or at least not without a great deal of caution, because of possible liver damage.   Bel takes phenobarbital for seizures, and this is what she has been taking for a little over three weeks for the surgery:  clindamycin (antibiotic), phenylbutazone, methocarbamol, and acepromazine.  All of those can affect liver function.

And her behavior is very much in keeping with a dog who has liver problems.  She is lethargic when she’s not pacing nervously.  She refuses food, and is vomiting.  Her urine is brighter than it should be.  She’s drinking a lot and urinating a lot.  I recognized these symptoms from when Toby had liver damage (his was mostly from the extreme injuries and infection he had, though I suspect it was exacerbated by being on similar drugs), though Toby was much, much sicker.   I did, however, check my suspicions, and found this list of symptoms on a canine epilepsy page I’ve used as a resource before:  Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels. Bel does not appear to have jaundice, thankfully, nor does she have swelling in her abdomen and it doesn’t seem to bother her when I touch her belly.  Still, I feel fairly certain that all these meds are causing damage to her liver.

Thankfully, she is not as sick as Toby was.  I don’t think I need to rush her into the Emergency vet, and she was able to drink without vomiting this afternoon, including some pedialyte that I pretty much forced down her throat, and some water, so I don’t believe she is in danger of dehydration, as Toby was.  And I do remember the basic procedure for getting Toby’s liver back in shape, so I’m starting it today.  I’m stopping all her medications except the thyroid meds and her phenobarb, because that one is addictive, and if she is to stop taking it, she’ll have to slowly be weaned off it slowly.  And I’m going to begin the liver cleanse diet with her, which I’ll describe in another post.  I’ve also got some Milk Thistle and Vitamin B for her (both of which Toby had when he was so sick).  Toby also took SAM-E, and I will get some of that tomorrow.

I’m not a vet, so this is certainly not something I’d suggest for other people, but I am someone who has gone through this kind of problem with another dog, so I feel fairly confident about my approach.

And of course, she will be going back to the vet for a full liver panel.  And I’ll be having a talk with my vet too.  As much as I’m kicking myself for not checking the drug interactions on all those meds, I’m also pretty upset that my vet didn’t think about this and warn me….After all, I’m NOT a vet, so can’t be expected to know these things, but I do think they should have been much, much more cautious in what was prescribed to her.   I’m not happy about that at all.

Right now, though, Bel is resting in the big crate.  She’s drinking on her own, though she won’t eat, and as I recall from going through this with Toby, there will likely be a lot of force feeding in the days to come (it is important that they eat, even though they don’t want to).  I’m just hoping to get her through this.

Bel in her "cone" on Weds.

Up next:  the liver cleanse diet, and more general talk on what I feed my dogs.

Bel’s Recovery: Day Two

Day two was harder than day one.

Yesterday she slept.  Today she slept too (helped along by the Ace), but today I realized this was going to be more difficult than I thought. On me.  On her.  On all of us.

First, I realized the incontinence wasn’t a one day thing.  Today she has peed on herself twice, so far.  She really has no awareness that she’s doing it, and the only way I know is that she begins to shift around, and looks restless.   Then I discover the wet spot.

I got another comforter at the thrift shop today, so she’d always have one clean and dry.  I bought the only one there:  some god-awful thing in a floral no-natural-fiber that is queen sized.  Folded into quarters, it fits very well into the giant cage.  And she is also covered up by another thrift-store find, a rather hideous Route 66 polar fleece throw:

Bel, recovery day 2

I put a plastic garbage bag under everything (because pee does and will soak into our brick floors, which then comes back to haunt us in the summer).  What I discovered is that the no-natural-fiber works very well to NOT be absorbent, so I was able to turn the comforter over after she’d peed on it twice and find a very nice dry patch for her to lay on, so I won’t have to replace this one with the clean bedding until tomorrow morning, which is somewhat useful!

Mostly, though, having her in the big crate has been much easier:  I can clean the bedding, I can leave her food and water in there (she’s getting kibble–grain free!–until after she’s recovered, simply because it’s easier for her to eat, and can sit out til she’s hungry), and I can get in there with her and examine her.

Bel in the big crate

The photo above shows Bel the night before her surgery, but gives an idea of how big Oskar’s big cage is–there’s plenty of room in there!  (It’s the largest size Midwest kennels makes).  And I should say the big cage was yet another thrift store purchase:  I paid $5 for it.

(There is a problem with her in the big crate, which is that it is Oskar’s crate, and unlike the Shibas, who don’t really feel possessive about the crates, Oskar is VERY attached to his “home” and is very unhappy to be displaced.  He’s particularly unhappy at dinner time, since he’s used to dining in his crate, and so he’s been taking his dinner out of his dish over to the crate so he can still eat near, if not in, his place.)

Beyond the need to be cleaning up after Bel, though, the harder part is just the stress and worry.  I’m worried that she’s in pain.  I’m worried that she has to pee (I’ve kind of gotten over that one).  And the bigger worry?

Her leg is quite swollen.  The vet told me I didn’t need to bring her in til Friday, unless there was swelling.  Well, late this afternoon as I was changing her bedding, I noticed that her hock was quite swollen, and I went into something of a panic, as I knew I couldn’t get a hold of the vet til tomorrow a.m.  I’ve since become somewhat calmer as a quick google search shows me that dogs do have swelling after this surgery–at least now I know I can safely wait til tomorrow morning to call the vet and don’t have to take Bel to the emergency vet.

 

Swelling

Still, her poor little leg!   It looks awful!  And I do worry, also, that her splint–which is padded on the inside–is now pee-soaked and will cause an infection (yes, she’s taking antibiotics, but I am full of worries).  I know it’s making her cold and uncomfortable.  So tomorrow I’ll get up early–regardless of how late I go to bed–and call the vet and see what we can do to keep my little Jezebel comfortable and healthy.

My entire day has been spent watching her, listening to her, going over to see if she is thirsty or hungry, going over to make sure she is still breathing.   And there have been other dog issues:  Toby’s rapidly disappearing hair on his neck/chest; the fact that Oskar ate some de-icer and then drooled a lot before vomiting (he’s fine now, thankfully).  I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with dog-related worries!

The first days are the hardest indeed.  Hard on the dog, hard on the worried guardian.  Hard on the other dogs, who get less attention.  Hard on the husband, who has been valiantly carrying Bel outside periodically so we can at least give her an opportunity to pee outside, and who must endure my anxiety.

I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow after talking to the vet.

Oh uh.  Looks like’s it time for a bedding change!

 

The First Days are the Hardest (Bel’s Recovery: Day 1)

My vet warned me the first few days would be the hardest.  I just didn’t quite understand what that meant.

We brought Bel home Saturday morning.  When we went to pick her up at the vet, she was wired….pacing, panting.  I asked if they’d given her Tramadol, and they had.  Someone had forgotten that Jezebel has odd reactions to certain drugs (Valium and Tramadol) and that they have an opposite effect on her, making her wired instead of sedating her.   So we loaded up on Acepromazine (which does work well on her) as well an antibiotic, a muscle relaxant, and an anti-inflammatory, and we took our little girl home.

Bel's meds

(At the moment, the kitchen counter is a veritable canine pharmacy, with all Bel’s meds and Toby’s pills lined up and labeled!  Thank god Oskar doesn’t need anything but the occasional eye drops!)

Doggy pills and supplements

Bel was ok when we first got home, and crawled into her crate to sleep.  I went into town to run some errands, and came home four hours later to a very agitated husband.  He’d taken Bel outside to pee, he said, and they were only out about two minutes or so. When he brought her back in, though, she crawled into her crate and started whining, then moaning, and shaking with deep body tremors.   He got her out of her crate, wrapped her in a blanket and laid her down on her sheepskin on her chair.  (I’m calling it her chair and her sheepskin, but this chair much loved by all the dogs, including Oskar who no longer fits in it.  I’m sure Toby would say it was HIS chair.  It’s very comfortable for humans too, but it is pretty much officially the dog chair now).

Bel 1 day after surgery

When I came home, that’s what  I saw:  a very sleepy Bel cocooned in her blanket.

We realized that she needed more of the Ace than we’d thought, not to keep her calm, but to keep her out of pain.

The next discovery was that whether because of the pills or because of the surgery, she was incontinent.  I didn’t realize she’d peed on herself and her chair til she started looking distressed (and Oskar began to sniff around out of curiosity).  Poor girl!  Like all Shibas, she likes to be clean, and so I unwrapped her,  and wiped her off as best I could, then put her in Oskar’s big crate on another bed, wrapped in a different blanket.  She tried to lick at herself (not the wound, but where she’d peed on herself) a bit, but once I covered her back up, she went to sleep again.

(A side note:  the sheepskin the Shibas love claims to be washable, thankfully, so I popped it into the washer along with her blankets and the chair cover last night.  Everything came out fine, except for this:  I had no idea how bad a wet sheepskin could smell!  It came out of the washer clean, but still….ugh!  What a reek!  I even dried it in the dryer for 20 minutes–though you’re not supposed to–to try and cut down on the odor, and it helped a little and made it fluffy again, but damn! I’ll take eau de wet dog over wet sheepskin!)

Later in the evening, she did wake up enough to want to come out of the big crate, and I let her out, and after drinking a lot, she went into the small crate.  Big mistake, because I realized that I couldn’t easily get her in and out of that crate, and late in the evening, she got agitated, whether from pain or confusion, I don’t know, but she started growling at Toby who was laying in her line of vision, and she wouldn’t stop.  I knew I needed to take her out to pee, but I couldn’t coax her out of the crate, and certainly dragging her was out of the question.   I finally got her out around midnight, took her out for a final pee, then got her arranged in Oskar’s big cage.  This will be her home til she’s recovered.  It’s big enough that I can leave food and water in there, as well as get in easily myself to check on her, and also, it is easy to change “the linens” in there, as it is clear the peeing on herself was not a one-time thing.

I stayed up quite late last night to make sure she got an Ace to keep her pain free through the night; she had her last one at 3 a.m.

More to her story in the next post, for day two, which was harder than day one.

Bel’s Surgery, and a Tribute to Old-school Vets

I wrote a post about my old-school vets, but didn’t have time to get it up earlier, so I’ve included it below.  It is especially fitting today, because Bel had her surgery for her luxating patella today.

First, though, how about a picture of our little invalid the night before her surgery?  Here is Bel, in her splint (and read on to find out more about the splint):

Bel, the night before her surgery

We thought Bel was going in just for the luxating patella.  (For more information about luxating patellas in dogs, and the grades, check this site and this site has some good x-rays to get an idea of what the problem is in the knee.  Finally, this site talks about ACL surgery)  We knew she had a mild LP problem a year or so ago; at that time, she was probably a grade 1 or 2.  Then in December, she suddenly went to the worst possible grade.  We did not suspect a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at that time because she didn’t seem to be in a lot of pain, nor did she have swelling.  However, twice during heavy snows she was knocked down by Oskar, and both times she cried, and then limped badly for a couple of hours.  And finally, last week, I noticed her foot and lower leg were swollen, and when I tried to touch it, she nipped at me.  I gave her a painkiller and something to take the swelling down, and by the time she went into the vet the next morning, it still appeared that we were only looking at a luxating patella.  So we outfitted her with her stylin’ new splint (so she could get used to it pre-surgery) and planned for surgery, which was this morning.

I got two calls from the vet this morning.  The first was to tell me with the splint off, she saw swelling, and suspected damage to the ACL, which would be a more complicated surgery.  Then I got the post-op call.  Bel was groggy, but fine, but the knee had been a hard repair.   The ACL was not just stretched, but was completely torn in two–shredded was the word the vet used–and she found it was quite difficult to repair.   She managed to suture it together, finally.  Also, Bel’s knee problems were extensive.  While the groove her patella sits in should be about 1/4 inch deep, Bel’s was not even 1/16 of an inch deep, and she had some bony growths (buttresses) that had developed to hold the knee in place (which further damaged her already weakened ACL).  Those were shaved off, and  the place where her patella sits was deepened.  My vet said she tested out Bel’s range of motion after the surgery, and she believes she will regain 80-90 % of it, and will still be able to run and jump, but the damage was too much for a full recovery.

Still, my little girl will have the use of her leg back (after her convalescence) and we suspect she was in much more pain that she ever indicated, so this should also take care of that.  She’s resting now, and by the time I get her tomorrow morning, she should be back in her splint, and ready to spend the next few weeks doing very, very little.

So it’s with that, that I post this, A tribute to my Old-School Vets, who have seen my dogs through a lot of trials and injuries.

Recently I posted a picture of Bel in her leg brace.  If it looks a lot like it is made mostly out duct tape, that’s because it is covered in it.  This is what my vet wants Bel to wear after her surgery for her luxating patella, and she wants Bel to be used to it before the surgery, so we know she isn’t going to try to destroy it, thus destroying all the surgery’s effects as well.

I’ve read some about the surgery for LP and some vets do not put a splint on the dogs afterwards.  I suspect my vet is, as usual, conservative in this.  My vet is rather old school…in fact, they don’t even own computers!  For awhile I worried about that, worried that I should find a new vet who was very up to date on the latest technology.  The thing is, I discovered quickly, that I couldn’t afford the vets who had the most high tech equipment, who tested for every possible thing.  My dogs have, unfortunately, had a lot of health issues, and if I took them to high tech vet in town, I’d never be able to afford their care.

And what I’ve discovered is that conservative or not, my old school vets have done right by me and my dogs.  Sure, it may not look like much:  they cover bandages with dishtowels, use duct tape liberally, and generally go for what is less expensive.   But after Toby’s nearly deadly fight with Bel, he was so badly injured that he was at the vet for six weeks!  Six weeks!  Every day, twice a day, I went in to see him, to try to get him to eat.  They taught me how to clean out his wounds and re-bandage him.  And they didn’t turn me away when I ran out of money, but let me pay off my huge bill in payments.   Sometimes, when I’ve been in a lot, they don’t charge me for the office call, but only charge for any meds I might need.  Sometimes I worry they do this too much….but I’m never quite in the position to refuse that generosity.  High tech vet wanted my credit card number before they’ll be willing to see my dog, and the emergency vet?  Pay or get turned away, even if it meant your dog might die.

I’ve had to do a lot of educating of myself (and sometimes my vet) because they are not up to date on everything.  When my GSD was becoming aggressive, I read about thyroid related aggression, and asked them to test his thyroid.  They didn’t believe that was what was wrong with him, but I insisted, and it turned out he had almost no thyroid function.  I told them about the places I’d looked for information on thyroid and aggression (including the vet school sites I looked at), and they listened.  Since then, it’s clear they’ve done the research on thyroid issues, and I’ve overheard conversations they’re having with other clients about the kinds of problems hypothyroidism can cause, including aggression.

Some people may not be comfortable going to a vet that they have to occasionally educate, but for me it’s worked out ok, because over the years, they’ve come to understand I really do my homework, and I can refer them to articles and webpages if need be.  I also understand that what I read needs to be balanced with their many years of practice.

I say all this because I did wonder about Bel’s LP surgery, when other people talked about it, about not splinting her, etc.  I began to second guess myself…..should I take her to another vet?  But there is no doubt about the luxating patella:  my vet showed me how to manipulate the knee myself, so I could feel it popping in and out of place.  And I already know, from talking to other people, that my vet is charging me almost half what other vets charge for this surgery.

I thought about getting a second opinion.  I thought about seeing what high-tech vet has to say about Bel.  But I can’t afford a more expensive option.  It’s either this, or Bel doesn’t get surgery, and given that she is unable to put her leg down, it’s clear she needs it.

(And of course, it turned out she had a torn ACL, which means a slower recovery, and more immobilization of the leg, so the splint turns out to be just what we need).

And I trust my vet.  And in the end, this has become a kind of tribute to them:  to the old school, country vets, who are still around, still trying to do right by people and their pets.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not high tech.  But it works.  And they care about their clients:  When Kai was dying of osteosarcoma last spring, and we realized the time had come, we took him in on Saturday, much, much later than their practice is generally open.  We all petted him, and held him, and both my vets cried along with me, cried because another good dog was gone, cried because there was nothing more they could do for him.

I kept going to them because their prices were good and they are near my home, but it turns out the relationship we’ve developed is priceless.  We’re lucky to have them.