After spending the first couple days home mostly asleep, the past three days Kira has been more awake, pretty much like she would be normally. She’s slowly starting to put weight on the surgery leg, first just toe touches, then walking on it for spurts of ten seconds or so. When she goes “fast”, she hops on her back leg and keeps the other one up. But mostly she lies around.
Of course she wants to do more. She doesn’t understand why we won’t let her on the couch, her favorite spot, or the armchair. She doesn’t understand why, when she gets up from the dog bed in the living room, I walk her into the kitchen to lie down under the dining table. I can tell she is getting bored. But she’s a good-natured girl and very smart. I think in some way she comprehends it’s for her own good. Still though it will get worse as she gets better.
We also left her alone on Friday and Saturday. For a little over an hour and half an hour tops the first day; about three hours yesterday. She seemed to do fine. I’m tempted to set up my laptop on the kitchen counter pointed at the bed she’s on and film her the next time I have to run an errand. I’d love to know if she cries or barks and if she tries to move to a different part of the house. If she seems to just chill, we may be able to not have to crate her at all. It will be helpful to know for when I want to leave her to go for a run.
So far, so good! Also she has managed to avoid the Cone of Shame. I let her lick her leg, just not the part where the wound is. She seems to be mostly fine with this arrangement, though I’ve been warned that after a week or so, the wound starts to itch. We will cross that bridge eventually.
We got Kira almost three years ago, right before my cancer diagnosis.
She was kind of an impulse adoption. We always knew we’d get a second dog; we’re not meant to be a one-dog household. Camp loved other dogs (loooooved), and we thought he’d benefit from a sibling. We also always knew we’d adopt. Stuart had been combing the local rescues’ webpages for a while, but I was dragging my feet for whatever reason. If memory serves, every dog we liked the looks of and were good with other dogs weren’t good with cats. We had four cats at the time, so that was definitely an issue. Most likely I was just content with my nice simple life and wasn’t ready to upend it by adding a new dog to the mix.
Scout came home for a visit in April, and she was obsessed with us adopting a dog while she was here. I got caught up in the peer pressure, so I started looking at adoptable dogs too. There was a pittie-looking guy at the St. Matthews Feeders Supply via Kentucky Humane Society. Scout and Camp and I went that Friday afternoon to look at him, but he had an issue. I think he had a hold on him because of an illness or injury.
In the spot next to him was a year-old black lab-shepherd mix named Kira. She seemed friendly enough, rather sweet even, definitely more lab than shepherd. However we really were more interested in a pit or another pit mix. Can’t stress enough—a lab mix was not on my to-do list.
Camp had other ideas. The KY Humane rep brought Kira out to say Hello and she and Camp hit it off immediately. I called Stuart to tell him there was a nice doggie here and Camp seemed to like her. Not a shock, as Camp has never met a dog he didn’t love. I was expecting Stuart to say Hell Nah to a lab, but he wasn’t busy at work and he had dog fever longer than I had. He said he was on his way. Kira, we were told, was surrendered because her original owners didn’t have enough time for her and she spent 12 hours a day in a crate. She was given to friends who also didn’t have time for her, even though both owners said she was a good girl. I am, if anything, a sucker for broken toys. The idea of this sweet brown-eyed girl not getting the forever home she deserved killed me. Long story, short, we brought Kira home that day.
We immediately took her and Camp on a walk and out to dinner on the patio of an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. Scout, now that she had accomplished her mission, was back out with her friends. My first impression of Kira was that she had a strong bladder—girl could hold her pee forever. Also she was a puller. Such a puller that she was making herself cough. Well she kept coughing through the night and into the next day.
I took her to the veterinary practice that KY Humane runs and we learned she had a bad case of kennel cough. Poor girl. So she spent her first week with us sicker than sick. Fever, listless. Of course just after she recovered Camp started coughing. And right after that I found out I had breast cancer.
So much for my nice simple life.
Well, we all got better and our home was again a two-dog household. As it should be. It was that summer we learned Kira did not like other dogs. Like, at all. She was fine with Camp, but I wonder if the reason she didn’t show any reactivity toward him when they first met was because she was in the early stage of a serious illness. Or maybe she knew she would be spending a lot of time in that cage if she acted out. I wouldn’t be surprised—she’s whip smart. She’s also an attentive, anxious, sensitive honey and we love her.
So fast forward to now. Dr N called after surgery yesterday and said it went well. She had a chronic partial rupture in her right cranial cruciate ligament. They did a medial meniscus release and a tibia plateau leveling osteotomy. Basically they cut the knee apart and reposition it so the joint is stabilized. She regurgitated a bit of fluid, but the vet said it happens and she still had a trach tube in, so it shouldn’t be a problem. A small risk of pneumonia or esophageal irritation, but he wasn’t worried. He’d be calling between 10 and 11 the next morning to tell me how she did through the night and when she could come home.
This morning Dr N called at 8:47. He said Kira did not seem to be showing any ill effects from the regurgitation. He also said she was super stressed, shattered a baby gate in an overnight rampage, and we could come get her—the sooner the better. Stuart had already planned on taking a long lunch to help me pick her up. He came right away.
$4K* later, we had our girl back. We also picked up Camp’s ashes.
*Y’all, if you want to pay for baby’s new shoes, go into the manufacture and sale of surgical plates and screws.
The drive home was fine. Stuart sat in the back seat with her to keep her from freaking out. Typically on any given car ride, she dances around the backseat like she’s a lip sync assassin. I was worried that she would hurt herself, but she was calm. Mostly busy bothering the bandage on her front leg where the IV had been placed.
We got her home and settled in her new spot. I had moved the dining table around and set Scout’s unused mattress underneath. It’s a comfy, confined area (her leash is tied to a table leg) and hopefully she will be relatively content to stay there. It will be her main living space for two months. She for the most part rested comfortably most of the day. I can tell she’s not happy, but she’s hardly the drama llama that Camp was. She had to be bribed with ground beef and cheese to eat her dog food, but her carprofen can cause stomach upset and so the food boycotting that she’s been doing since Camp died would not fly.
I took some photos of her wound, so that we can monitor how it’s healing. The wound is like Frankenstein Crazy Horror Movie and her leg is quite swollen, but oddly it doesn’t make me upset to look at it. I guess I was expecting worse. Maybe after all the trauma of epilepsy, something that doesn’t cause electrical storms in the brain seems like no big deal. The sutures are internal so there’s nothing to chew, and I’m hoping we can avoid the Cone of Shame. She’s on three different medications, two pain pills and a sedative. She goes back for a recheck in two weeks, then imaging six weeks later to see how the bone is healing. I’ve been assisting her walking by using a towel as a sling for her back end, just to take some pressure off her good leg. It is really common for the non-surgical leg to get fucked up because it bears all the weight during the healing process. So the less time she spends on her feet the better.
Currently she isn’t putting any weight on her bad leg, but of course, as expected, she thinks she can freely move around the house. She’s mostly being cooperative so far as I limit her to potty in the yard and chilling under the table. But you all this dog has no chill. This will not last. I’m just wondering how long it will take for the boredom to remove the luxury of her cooperation.
Day One in the books. I am going to spend the night with her on the mattress under the table. Not expecting much to be different tomorrow; hopefully nothing worse. Some pix:
So again, it’s been forever since I did a damn thing here.
Quick update: last year for me, like so many, was not a good year.
Right after Christmas 2019, Camp Randall, our pit mix, had a seizure, his first. In January 2020 he had more and started medication. Then more seizures, higher dosages, more seizures, new meds, more seizures, hospitalizations, more seizures, rinse, repeat.
It was horrifically awful. We said goodbye to him a week ago. The neurologist who was treating him said that sometimes it is helpful to think of difficult-to-treat epilepsy as having a brain tumor. It did help, but it did not make the end not the saddest thing we’ve ever had to do.
So like so much of the rest of the world wrestling with depression and anxiety about COVID and lockdowns and corrupt, worthless politicians and anti-mask assholes, I was also consumed with worry about my poor dog. I had stretches of too much drinking, too much eating, barely sleeping. There were bright spots too and, after a week of mourning, I feel like I’m coming up for air.
So I’m coming back to this blog because Kira, our lab mix, is getting knee surgery tomorrow and I want to use this as a way to record her recovery. From the reading I’ve done, this will not be fun for anyone.
The surgery has been a long time coming. She first started limping spring/summer of 2019. Probably from launching off the deck after a squirrel or goofing off with Camp. We rested her for weeks and months, basically going for walks around the block and that’s it. She didn’t get worse, but she didn’t get much better. She had a orthopedic consult that late summer/early fall. We were told she would probably be a candidate for surgery eventually, but it was not necessary at that point.
So I started taking her for walks again, short at first and getting longer. Then we started running with her. To say she is a fan, would be an understatement. Spouse would take her summer early mornings, trying to beat the heat, and I would take her on the weekends when I went out with a few of my running friends. She did a 5K on Halloween with me, both of us dressed like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we did a 5 mile Thanksgiving run together. She was my perfect running buddy, even though I never went fast enough for her.
Sometime in early January the dogs were chasing each other in the backyard and she came up limping again, barely setting her leg down. It didn’t get better with rest. We finally had another orthopedic consult last week, and she was put on the schedule for surgery. The recovery period is 6-8 weeks of as little activity as possible, then gradually increasing. She can go pee and poop and that’s about it. This will be torture for my very busy dog. But if it means she can go running with me again at the end, it will have been worth it.