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Hospital Days 18 September 11

Posted by turtlemom3 in Disability, Dog, Exercise, Illness.
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Total Knee replacement : Lateral view (Xray).

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Well, the day finally came – my right knee required replacement. RA often does that to people. It eats up joints, makes them hurt and go “krackel-krunch” off and on. So, the time came, and I was ready to have it done. It was a little scary.

When a service dog is involved, especially one as sensitive and bonded as Emmy is, plans have to include her. Well, I couldn’t take care of her by myself in the hospital. Himself and I worked out the plan. He would bring Emmy to see me on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Since he is still not recovered from his heart attack of July 14, he could not stay all day and all night with me. I asked him to come in about 10am and leave about 3pm – to avoid traffic and to keep him from getting too tired out. Well, the traffic part worked, but he did get much too tired.

Another part of “the plan” was for Emmy to adjust to me using a walker and not balancing well. That part did work on Friday and Saturday. Thursday I was too groggy to function well.

Emmy, of course, bonded a bit more strongly with Himself. But we aren’t worried about it. She and I will bond again, just as strongly, as she works with me on my rehab.

Everyone in the hospital who saw her fell in love with her. Since it is the same hospital Himself was in for his MI in July, there were many people who recognized her. She obeyed pretty well – EXCEPT – when she first came into my room in the mornings. She would come to my bed, and just go into ecstasy sniffing and licking my hand, dancing beside the bed with a goofy “Lab grin” on her face. I have to admit, I didn’t interfere. I let her do it for about 5 minutes, then cued her to “Settle!” It took a couple of times of telling her, but she did settle down. The rest of the day was great.

Total Knee Replacement. Hurts a good bit but the pain gets better each day. Percocets work.

The PT and OT people loved her, but thought she did too much for me. {WHAAAA??} Finally I told them that this was necessary for me – and had been for over 3 years. I don’t think they ever really understood, but I do know whereof I was speaking!

So – Emmy arrived each day, greeted me rather too boisterously (but I liked it!), and then lay on a pillowcase (as a “place”) over by Himself. When I was gotten up out of bed (twice a day), Himself kept her from greeting me too much (again). Then we went for a short walk – about 100 feet, and then back to bed. Emmy was the best, most obedient and helpful little service dog that ever was! She picked up what I dropped (except pills, of course),

Well, we are home, now, and Emmy is still very confused about what’s going on, but she comes to me for everything, wants me to feed her and let her out. I thought it would take a few days, but it hasn’t! Of course, one of the grandsons have to take her out and play with her, but I can feed her. I’m watching lots of TV and DVDs, reading a lot, but I can’t think very well, so it’s the mindless stuff that I need. I need lots of mindless stuff until my brain engages again!

And Emmy, of course. I need her desperately. She helps me exercise. I have to walk for 15 minutes every 2 hours. Emmy helps me walk. Tomorrow I’ll take her out on the patio and see how we do.

Thanks be to God for PAALS – and for Emmy!

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Preparing for Your Woof – Recapitulation 29 April 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Equipment, Exercise, Feeding, Going Places, Supplies.
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I’m using my time fruitfully, I think. First, thinking through exactly how the Woof will “fit” in the household we already have – The Ol’ Curmudgeon, Magnus the Magnifi-Cat, and me. Where will he sleep? What will he do while I’m working? Where will he eat? Where in the yard will he poop?

  • Poop – How will we handle the poop? Yellow Labs poop BIG! We’ve had one before, we KNOW! Can’t let it just accumulate – soon there’d be a MOUNTAIN of it! Here’s one of the neater devices known to man – the Doggie Dooley Toilet. It’s a septic system for dog poop! It works if you have your own house and yard. Doesn’t work for apartment or condo dwellers. We are in a house with a large, fenced yard. It will work for us.
    • Doggie Dooley
    • You bury it in the yard with only the top showing. Open the top, dump in the poop. Put in the enzymes, fill it with water. The system has to be near a water source. That’s a drawback, unless your handi-dandi son who was once a plumber’s assistant 🙂 lives next door. Think he can plumb us a little line over to the dooley??
    • We have adolescent grandsons next door who love to earn money – they would be glad to scoop poop into the Doogie Dooley for a slightly less than extortionate fee which we grandparents are more than willing to pay!
    • For those who live in an area in which they cannot do this, there may be a local pooper-scooper service available (research on Google is a big help!) For those in apartments, you will have to rely on the old walking the dog routine. There are jokes about following your dog with a plastic bag, and there are even doggie diapers that can be used! Disposal of the waste will depend on local regulations. Each individual should research their local dog poop regulations!
  • Exercise – How will we handle exercise? Labrador Retrievers are what the Ol’ Curmudgeon calls “enthusiastic, bullet-proof dogs made of mostly plastic materials.” They leap upon you, tongue lolling, huge tail wagging frantically, their whole body saying, “I love you – love me back!” If someone breaks into the house, the labrador retriever says, “Hi! I’m Woof! Here’s my bowl, and here’s my favorite toy, and here’s the entertainment center, and here’s the wall safe, and here’s the computer, now let’s play!” No guard dog, these! (Of course, a good service dog is VERY well behaved, and doesn’t jump on you!!) They need JOBZ to do – constantly. If they don’t have jobz to do, they will make up jobz to do – that you don’t want them to do! And they need exercise!! Lots and lots of exercise! That can present a problem for the energy-deficient, mobility limited partner. Exercise often falls to another team member. OR exercise can fall to technology!
    • GoDogGo (mentioned in another post here) is a marvelous invention!!
    • Have a treadmill? You can teach your dog to use your own treadmill safely by starting very slowly and moving very slowly to higher speeds over time. Cesar Millan of the Dog Psychology Center of Los Angeles often uses this technique, but recommends high caution because of harm to the dog if it falls or gets caught up on the leash. Never leave the dog alone on your treadmill! OR you can get a specially-made doggie treadmill HERE! Just be sure the local police don’t think you are training a fighting dog! LOL! Again, NEVER leave your dog alone on a treadmill – not even one that is designed specifically for dogs!
    • 3 Jog a Dog Treadmills
    • Check out your area for fenced in dog parks for off-leash romping. Be sure you understand the regulations related to innoculations and poop control issues before you set your canine partner loose in a dog park!
  • Feeding your Woof. One of the things about most assistance dogs is that they are, well, among the larger breeds. Now, the Ol’ Curmudgeon and I happen to consider Labrador Retrievers to be medium-sized dogs, but most folk consider them to be kinda big! At any rate, they are among the size of canine that needs to be fed with an elevated feeding station. Why? you ask, Why? Because when they lean over to eat, it puts some kind of strain on their GI system, and they can develop a twisted gut or volvulus. This is an emergency, and an expensive emergency – which many doggies don’t survive. So you’ll need an elevated feeding station. Luckily the Ol’ Curmudgon will come to my rescue and make a really nice one for me. But many are available for purchase. Check out a Google search for dog feeding station.
    • Just a couple of the possibilities:
    • Slatted Feeder with Splash Guard Wrought-Iron Mission-Style Feeder
  • Going Places with your Woof. OK, you have your Woof, and your have the poop and exercise and feeding taken care of. Remember, you’ll need to deal with poop when you Go Places! Take lots of plastic bags. And those little diaper things that make “sausages” don’t work worth squat, believe me! You’ll need a pooper-scooper. If you are in a wheelchair, it will depend on whether you are a para or a quad and whether you have another team member with you to help as to what kind to take. But take one, you must, for doggies don’t know about, “Wait until you get home, dear.”
    • Transportable doggie dish for food and another for water.
    • Bottles of water – how many? depends on how long you will be gone and how large a dog and the weather. Labrador Retriever? About 1-2 pints for every hour.
    • Food – only if you will be gone through a feeding time. And if so, then take the usual amount that you feed your Woof.
    • Slobber Scarf – All dogs do drool. Not as badly as Newfoundlands, or Mastiffs, or St. Bernards, but they do drool and slobber. A bandana around the neck when going out is really important. Some doggie towels are, also. If you will be gone very long, you may wish to take some additional bandanas so your Woof always looks fresh. Now you know why so many service dogs are photographed with bandanas!
    • Even in hot weather, you will want a doggie shirt – or one of your tee-shirts – to put on your “Woof” to reduce shedding of dander. This is a courtesy for those who might be allergic to woofs. Especially if you are going into an office building, library, classroom building, etc.
    • So you might want to put together a little doggie suitcase with the travel necessities. There are even lightweight foldable feeding dishes for travel!

That takes care of many of the initial considerations. You may want to add more to the list as you think about them. Comments are, as usual, more than welcome! Donations to PAALS are more than welcome, too! (Please be sure to note that the donation is for me!)

Nothing much – 17 April 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Bond, Exercise, Service Dogs.
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A slow day – the kind of day when Woof and I would doze from time to time, and then go outside and I’d toss balls and frisbees for him to catch and retrieve. He would spend most of the day with no vest on. Just a lazy day at Haus von Riggs.

I did do a good bit of work on some deposition questions, and some work on an interesting case from another state. I’m pretty much caught up, and feeling quite virtuous. On a day like this, Woof and I would play a great deal. Much bonding and lots of slobbery woobies!

Happy-Happy! Joy-Joy!

What do I need?? 19 February 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Consistency, Discipline, Exercise, Feeding, Love, Vet Care.
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I’ve been thinking about some of the “stuff” I need to be collecting. So this will be in the form of form of a commented kind of a list. And it will be incomplete, so I’ll be adding more lists as time goes on.

Resting space:

  • I need places for Woof for rest comfortably when not working or playing. Bed, nap area. OK bed is easy – go to PetSmart and get a cedar doggie bed- right? Wrong! I’m allergic to cedar!! OK some other kind of doggie bed. They are not expensive.

Eating Station:

  • I’m partial to the raised eating stations for larger dogs. I like the ones where the feeding bowl and the watering bowl are in the same station.

Poop Control:

  • We live in a house and have a yard. Labrador Retrievers have lots of BIG poops. We have already decided which part of our yard will be the “poop” area. And we’ve discovered a wonderful device available from PetSmart for dealing with the poop – it’s called a Doggie Dooley, and it’s a doggies septic system. You bury it in the yard with the opening visible. (Grandson labor will come into play!) Then put the enzymes in it. When doggie poops, you pooper-scoop (gotta get one of those, too) the stuff into to the Doggie Dooley, add water and more enzymes, and, poof! So once or twice a week, I or a grandson (they are at that adolescent age when they are money-hungry and will work for only a slightly less than extortionate wage) will scoop poop into the Doggie Dooley, put in enzymes, add water and go away.

Exercise:

  • Labrador Retrievers require LOTS of exercise!! (Lack of exercise is one of the reasons they will get into trouble – too much energy, not enough ways to spend it.) So Exercise is Important! I looked around for ways to exercise the Woof. I’m very low on energy. So is the Ol’ Curmudgeon. He can’t walk much and neither can I. So, what to do? Well, I was watching Cesar Millan’s show, The Dog Whisperer, a while back, and I watched him use a person’s treadmill to exercise a big dog when the person couldn’t exercise the dog enough. Well, a light bulb went off! We have a treadmill! That could work! If we use proper safeguards to be sure the Woof doesn’t fall or choke on his lead that could work!
  • In addition, there is the grandson express next door!
  • AND, since Labrador Retrievers are, well, retrievers, I found the GoDogGo GoDogGo!! on the internet! (Can you tell I LUV the internet??) It’s just what I need! And the back yard is certainly big enough. A good retriever Woof can be trained to bring the balls back and put them in the bucket. Even on my WORST days I can sit on the back porch and turn on the remote fetch machine and happily watch my Woof gleefully chase tennis balls until he is nice and tired out. GREAT!
  • Dog Parks – Our county has 4 specific areas designated as “Dog Parks” where dogs can play with other dogs off leash. Assistance dogs are welcome in all the other parks, but only on-leash, as I understand. The Dog Park our little City had has been taken down {SIGH} because it wasn’t used much. It was only 4 blocks from us! So, looks like mostly back yard exercise for poor ol’ Woof.

Grooming:

  • This was going to be the biggest problem until I Googled on the Yellow pages and found 3 grooming services that come to your home! I also found the FURminator at a browsing trip through PetSmart online. The Furminator for Dogs I got the one for cats to use on Magnus the Magnifi-Cat – it works great on him – and he HATES being groomed, so I’m sure it will work on a Woof that will love being groomed! We can do it outdoors on the back porch or even simply vacuum as we groom to get all the hair. Can’t to that with the Magnifi-Cat, however. He runs away from the vacuum. Nail clipping isn’t a problem. We can go that easily.

Vet visits:

  • We found a good vet just a few blocks away. We’ve established a relationship with them – they take care of Magnus the Magnifi-Cat, and take care of him very well!
  • Emergency Vet Care: A bit farther along straight down the same highway, is the emergency veterinary clinic that takes over after the local veterinary clinics close.

Love:

  • Somehow I just don’t think that will be a problem! 🙂

Consistency:

  • Again, with the help of the Ol’ Curmudgeon, I somehow don’t think that will be a problem.