Not as naughty as he looks

Since Leo is 100 pounds and leash reactive, I often assume he will be perceived as scary. He proved otherwise to me during this past month.

At the end of October, he started limping. I had to leave him at the vet for a couple of hours while they X-rayed him. I worried that he’d whine or cry or bark from the kennel while he waited his turn, but I’m told he did not. Everybody seemed totally crazy about him.

The bad news was that he had torn his cruciate ligament and needed TPLO surgery. I had never heard of this surgery before, but apparently it’s very common, and there’s a 50% chance he’ll need the surgery on his other leg too!

I took him in for the surgery two days later. A brand new place, brand new doctors. They loved him. When the surgeon called me to tell me he was in recovery, she said, unprompted, “I like him,” in such a wistful way I knew she meant it. She doesn’t say that about all the German shepherds.

After his sutures came out, we had a consult for underwater treadmill therapy and the new vet asked if our other dog is as mellow as Leo. Ha! The other dog (Mia) is the mellow one! And here a little video of him on the treadmill a week later.

TPLO surgery is serious business with a long recovery period. Leo has been a total champ. He wore the cone for two weeks without complaint, and hangs out in his crate quite comfortably. He did have a few snarly incidents (fights, if I’m honest) with Mia, triggered by his barrier frustration (vision blocked by cone plus separation with a gate), disorientation from pain meds, and pain. It’s been a few weeks since the last skirmish, so I think that’s behind us.

He’s been walking on the new knee since day one, which has led me to be too cavalier about confining him. I let him get up on the couches, because he’s tall enough to climb up without jumping. But that also leaves him with access to jump on the couch when delivery people come to the door.

And at one point while Rob was decorating the backyard for Christmas, Leo raced toward the back door, sliding across the wet floor, his legs splayed out on both sides‚ÄĒexactly what they told us we didn’t want to happen.

So there have been a lot of times this past month where my heart rate has spiked and I felt like the worst nurse ever. If you ask the people in my TPLO support group on FB, I might be the naughty one for not following the strict directive to confine him and keep him away from furniture.

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Boring vet visits are the best vet visits

Mia came along to Leo’s checkup for moral support.



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Senior doggie aging with grace


Mia had a bit of fur shaved last week at the vet. She’s been so itchy, they wanted me to be able to get the medicine to the skin. It’s not a great haircut, so Mia’s been rocking some adorbs hoodies while it grows back. I bought¬†a couple of new ones too, because I think it could be a while.

She also had a funny looking bump aspirated and pathologized. Usually my vet leaves long voicemails for me with test results, and I hadn’t heard back from him. I thought maybe he was waiting to deliver the news in person this week when I brought Leo in. I started researching cancer treatments, and wondering whether my vet accepts the Care Credit card.

Last night I checked the email account I don’t use very often and found a message from the vet: “mixed inflammatory cells. No cancerous or neoplastic cells were seen.”


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Never Drink Alone

Mia and Rob and beer

Mia’s limp is getting better. Thanks for all the well-wishes last week. Rob felt bad that Leo was getting to go to the park without her, so he took her out for a beer. Maybe that explains why she’s been wobbling when she walks. Too bad Rob wasn’t wearing his Hundhaus Hefeweizen shirt.

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Queen Mia B

Queen Mia

Photo by Rob

The B stands for Bear. Mia Bear.

I’m starting to feel like a senior dog blogger, but maybe that’s how things are going to be now that she’s 12(ish). She started limping severely the other day. So wobbly she wasn’t seeming to put any weight on her rear left leg. Two people I told this to said, “That happened to my dog/cat. It was cancer.”


Anyway, had her checked out today. No sign it’s cancer or a torn anything. We’re mixing up her meds and letting her rest and I expect she’ll be feeling better very soon!

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My strong and sassy senior dog

Mia, being a trouper at the eye doctor. Her dry eye is being managed well, and now we’re waiting for the results of her thyroid panel. I blew it by giving her the tiniest amount of cheese with her thyroid pill, so they wouldn’t do the cholesterol test. I ask you, if your dog has to have her thyroid medicine within 4-6 hours of the bloodwork, but she also has to fast for 12 hours… how do you get her to take the pill?

Anyway, we’ll have to do a second fasting blood test, I guess.

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Why my senior dog is starting to hate me

Yard work is exhausting

I recently reported about the erosion of trust between me and Mia since I’ve had to give her eye medicine twice a day. She’ll still let me cuddle her in the mornings, but when I get out the tube of ointment, she runs under Rob’s desk, and other times, she’s super evasive when I ask her to come in from the backyard (although she’ll still come in for Rob).

As part of our regular maintenance for her arthritis meds, we have her blood tested every three months. Usually, they take her in back to do this, but yesterday, she slammed on the brakes and refused to go with the tech unless I came too. So I guess she still prefers me to strangers. I held and kissed her¬†head while they drew the blood. She pulled her leg away before they filled the vial, so we had to do this twice, with a couple of aborted attempts when she yelped at the needle. (Pretty soon she’s going to refuse to get out of the car at the vet’s.)

The eye specialist suggested we have her thyroid levels tested too. Oh the irony. Several years ago, our trainer was certain Isis’s reactivity was related to hypothyroidism. To be extra sure, I had our regular vet take Isis’s blood and give me the vials, which I then sent to Dr.¬†Jean Dodds’ Hemopet lab.

Isis did not have hypothyroid. Mia, it turns out, does. Like, off-the-scale low levels. Looking at the symptoms, I don’t see it. Maaaybe we can attribute Mia’s¬†few extra pounds¬†to her thyroid (or maybe she eats too many treats because she won’t come inside the house otherwise). I don’t think she sheds more than Leo. Her coat might not be as lustrous as his, but I attributed that to her age. All said, she looks great, and doesn’t exhibit any of the other physical symptoms. (But her low thyroid might have something to do with her anxiety.)

Of course¬†I’ll still treat her for it. Especially if it improves her goopy eyes. Even after a month of giving her the ointment twice a day (almost) every day, she still has the goop. I’m so not looking forward to taking her back to the eye doc, where they’ll make her sit still with a tear strip in her eyelid for one minute (per¬†eye). Not to mention our thyroid follow-up to have her blood drawn again in one month.

I took her back to the vet today when I picked up her medicine, so she could have an experience there where she got a bunch of treats from me and the receptionist, and no one stuck her with any needles. She was pretty happy about it, but I know she hasn’t forgotten what I put her through yesterday.

So, that’s why Mia’s starting to hate me. The new pills are small though, pretty easy to hide in a treat. If she’s going to be taking thyroid pills twice a day, though, I plan to mail-order the chewables.

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