The Ramp

One of the first things we needed to do in preparation for Georgia’s senior years was address the stairs she needs to take to go outside.

As you can see she has a drop down to hit the first stair.  She would have to jump over the landing and fall on the first step.  All of that changed after her IVDD incident.  For over a month now we have been carrying Georgia up and down these stairs.

We contacted several local contractors and they all considered the job too small.  We were fortunate to find a contact with a set designer for a local theatre company.  He has been out of solid work for some time and was eager to take on the task.

After some discussion we decided to build out the stairs level with the door and have a ramp constructed.  The ramp is completely removable if needed.

Today everything came together and the stairs/ramp were installed.  We bought some cheap outdoor carpet to provide traction.  The ramp supports humans so we are able to use it as well.

We knew the only way Georgia would take it, is to cover the whole stair set with the ramp.  Sure enough, with no choice, she took to the ramp like a pro.

GeorgiaRamp     

So now Georgia can come and go freely between inside and outside.  It’s amazing sometimes the things we will do for our dogs.  Our princess now has a new throne.  Thanks for reading.  I hope to have a post up soon about our recent therapy experience!!!

Putting in the work

It has officially been a month of crate rest for Georgia.  It has been a very long month and has been awful for Georgia.  She has been very vocal about her situation.  We have to keep a sharp eye on her because she will jolt if given the opportunity.  The whole month seems to have been spent saying “Georgia No!” or “Georgia Stop!”  Despite it all, we made it through.

Through the whole month we experienced 4 incidents of vocalized pain in her neck each lasting less than a minute.  Each incident was a result of Georgia sleeping in her tight donut for a long period of time and being roused suddenly by us to either eat or go potty before we went to bed.  Upon discovering this fact we no longer force her awake when she has been napping for long periods of time.  Instead, we have found that the sound of opening the treat container in the kitchen will usually pull her out of her slumber and allow her to wake up without issue.

On Wednesday February 3, we had our follow up appointment with neurology.  Her rehab appointment after that had to be rescheduled for February 12th due to a scheduling error.  We were pretty confident that despite those few incidents, that we had made progress through medical management. We were looking forward to allowing her more freedom.  We know that things won’t go back to how they were, but were ready to get into the new normal.

We purchased a ramp for getting up and down off the couch.  It is a work in progress, but she is getting the idea.

 

We also have someone coming to our house on Monday to look at adapting the stairs that she has to take to get outside. She currently has a bit of a drop going from inside to outside.  We hope to get the stairs built up to eliminate that first drop.  We have been carrying her up and down these stairs for the past month.

We were looking into pre made ramps for our existing stairs, but found that the angle coming from the house, turns the ramp into a slide.  The angle is too steep.  We are hoping we can incorporate a ramp somehow into the rebuild of the stairs.

Needless to say we are getting ourselves prepared as best as we can for Georgia’s future as a senior dog.  We are also excited to give her more freedom.

Going into Wednesday’s appointment we felt like we had a plan.  We were confident in her recovery. We even had a cake made to celebrate Georgia’s freedom from the crate.

The neurology department seemed to focus their questioning heavily on the 4 incidents reported.  As with the last appointment we were unable to be present due to Covid restrictions for the exam.  They acknowledge that Georgia has improved with medical management, but feel it appropriate to continue crate rest/exercise restrictions for 4 more weeks.  We will be continuing the Gabapentin schedule.

Georgia is also overweight.  Pill pockets, peanut butter, and no exercise caught up to her.  This was not a surprise to us as lifting her had become increasing difficult.  Going forward we have reduced her caloric intake.

So here we are.  Faced with the prospect of 4 more weeks of crate rest based on 4 incidents that were totally instigated by us.  Georgia is overweight but not allowed to exercise.  Georgia is miserable.  We are miserable as her jailers.

We went ahead with the cake, though extremely limited quantities.  She deserves something nice.  It is a lot of cake, but I’ve got lots of dog walking clients that will be getting pieces as well.

To say we’re frustrated is an understatement.  How can she lose weight successfully while laying around all day?!? Starve her?  We have been having conversations about how far we want to go with this.  We opened up her potty area so she has access to the whole yard.  We let her go outside when she wants, but we still carry her up and down the stairs.  This evening was her first day on the couch and she seemed so happy to be a part of the family.

So what is the right thing?  We are inclined to try to strike the balance between the personal and the professional.   We certainly agree she needs to lose weight, but the rest of these restrictions at this point seem extreme.  We are not professionals though.  Im not a vet.

All I know is that when I tell Georgia to go lay down, she looks so defeated and I feel like all the snuggling in the world can’t cure those blues.  Im just not sure we can do crate rest for another 4 weeks without completely breaking her spirit.

Thank you so much for taking the time.  I can be pretty long winded when it comes to my girl.

Two weeks in and two weeks to go…

Just a little update on Georgia.

About two weeks ago we hit the Tripawd forums because Georgia was experiencing some neck pain.  We are truly thankful for the support of the community during this time.

For a couple days Georgia was experiencing some severe neck discomfort.  For two nights we got little sleep, but we were able to get into Ohio State University’s veterinary neurology department quickly.  They determined the most likely cause of her pain and weakness is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).  Without an MRI we can’t be 100% certain, but the best option at this time is to manage the condition medically.

So doctors order:

Exercise Restrictions:  Georgia is on crate rest for 4 weeks.

 

She is allowed out of the crate for supervised snuggling only.

 

No going up or down stairs and definitely no jumping.  Her access to the yard has been relegated to a small patch of grass outside the back door.  She has literally enough space to go potty.

Georgia was done with crate rest on day 3.  It has been a challenge trying to keep her safe and happy at the same time.  We were given some medication to help with sedation, but we don’t want to keep her drugged up all the time.  The moans of pain are now replaced with grunts and sighs of displeasure.  It is a welcome change.  I am very optimistic that we will be able to manage this condition medically.

Medication:

Carprofen 100mg tablets for pain (we are since done with this), Gabapentin 300mg 3 x a day, Diazepam (muscle relaxer) 10mg every 8 hours as needed, Trazodone 100mg as needed for sedation.

We had 10 days of Carprofen and Georgia went off that without issue.  We are slowly reducing the Diazepam to see how she responds.  The first week we did 3 x a day, last week we did 2 x a day, and this week we are starting 1 x a day.  The Gabapentin appears to be doing wonders.  She has tolerated the medication well.

Livestyle Changes:

We have gotten rid of the neck collar and have gotten a harness for her.  In hindsight that should seem like a no brainer, but it wasn’t something we even considered.

Her days of couch and bed jumping are done.  High impact activities are off limits.  We are looking into and adjustable ramp for the couch and bed, but we have accepted that she will no longer be taking the 12 steps down to the basement on her own.

So here we are now.  Two weeks down and two weeks to go.  Georgia has her follow up appointment on February 3 with neuro and hopefully we will be cleared to start her rehab after.  Her first rehab appointment is conveniently scheduled after her neuro appointment.

Those first couple days were pretty scary, but now I am feeling confident that brighter days are ahead.

Thanks for sticking through this.  I can be pretty long winded when it comes to my princess.  I will keep you all posted after the neruo visit!

Happy Gotcha Day Georgia!!

We get to celebrate one extra holiday during this month and that is Georgia’s Gotcha Day!!  The details of her gotcha day are in my previous post.  We dug up a couple pictures from early on when her fur had no white.

    

White spots are starting to show up in the weirdest places, but each one is cuter than the last.  We think she’s going to age into a reverse Dalmatian.  She is probably 10/11 years old now.

  

This years gotcha day is special.  One of the things Georgia has needed was a new bed.  Georgia has always been a fan of the “poof” style bed.  After spending time on this site we decided it was time to spring for an orthopedic bed to provide her additional support while she’s snoozing.

         

Georgia had a hard time letting go of the poofs.  In fact, we actually had to remove the poofs for a few days to force her onto the bed. We opted for a 5″ thick pad.  Look at her now.  She’s not spoiled at all.

   

As to her rehabilitation consult, we are on the books!  January 11, 2021 with Ohio State University Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Department.  We are excited to start the year with a clear plan for Georgia’s future care.  I will certainly keep you all posted on the results of her consult and her plans for care.

So Happy Gotcha Day Georgia and Happy New Year All!

Curtis & Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

How it started…

Georgia’s story begins with the ending of another story.  The first dog I owned as an adult was a black lab named Gia.  I got her when I was probably too young and too irresponsible to own a dog.  She put up with a lot of crap while I was trying to find myself.  As I grew older and wiser I spent the rest of her life pampering and spoiling her to try to make up for those first few years.  To this day I still hold a lot of regret for that time.  She passed away in December of 2012 after a battle with cancer.  She lived to be about 13 years old.

After her passing I knew I wanted to help.  I wanted to do better.  The hunt began for my next companion.  I began looking for dogs with special needs or dogs having a hard time being adopted.  The dog would also have to be able to integrate with our other dog, Caswell.   I probably looked for a week at various pups before stumbling onto Georgia’s profile.  I have always had a soft spot for black dogs and was up for the challenge.

Our biggest concern was if she would get along with Caswell.  We contacted the shelter to get some general information about her.  We found that she had been in the shelter for over a year and she got along with the other dogs at the shelter.  We decided to make the trip.

The shelter was a rural shelter about 2 hours away.  We had had a snowstorm a few days prior so everything had a nice sheen on it.  A majority of the trip was on the freeway, but once we got off the freeway I was white knuckled all the way to the shelter.  The shelter was how you might picture a rural shelter.  They were doing the best they could with what they had.

When they brought Georgia out she greeted us very warmly.  I had never seen a Tripawd in real life before.  All the emotions I had for her in that moment were overwhelming.  I was most likely hallucinating, but I even saw a little bit of Gia in her.  We introduced her to Caswell and they met with indifference.

The shelter told us Georgia’s story as they knew it.  Georgia was dumped at the shelter as a pup.  She had endured some sort of extreme trauma that was left unattended for an unreasonable amount of time.  When she was dumped at the shelter the appendage was wrapped in a sort of bandage made out of duct tape.  The whole leg had to be amputated immediately.  She adapted and recovered very well due to her age, but would spend the next year plus at the shelter waiting to be adopted.  They estimated she was probably 2 years old when we adopted her.  They named her Georgia because she looked like George Washington.  This confused us, but we kept it because she was a peach.

We had intended to see Georgia, go home, take some time, and make a decision.  Knowing what she had been through and what she had been waiting for, we loaded her in the car.  Side note, I also wasn’t interested in another car trip in the winter through the windy roads of rural Ohio to pick her up later.  The car ride home was just as white knuckled.

This is the first picture of the day she into the house.  The other dog is Caswell.  Caswell passed away this year and Georgia has been adjusting to that loss.  Fortunately we introduced a street beagle named Shiloh to our pack in 2019.  Shiloh and Georgia formed a strong bond quickly and Shiloh keeps her moving.  I swear he is why Georgia stays at her target weight.

So that is how it started.  It has been an awesome ride so far.  It hasn’t all been roses, but that’s with anything.  Sometimes I think that Gia would be proud and approve of Georgia.

Wow this is long winded.  If you made it this far, thank you.  I am so grateful to have this resource and to have other people interested in my princess.