Friday, 31 December 2010

happy new year to all canines and humans

Penny is seeing in the new year by lying prone on the kitchen floor. And I'm obviously seeing it in by sitting at my computer. I guess having a dog enriches my life so much I don't need to go to any parties, lol.

Happy New Year and best wishes for health and happiness in 2011.

Friday, 24 December 2010

eating the knuckle bone days two and three

Penny worked on her big knuckle bone for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon.

And then, in the evening, she began hacking and coughing, pacing around from spot to spot and salivating. After a while I rang the emergency vet and they said I could come any time during the night.

I decided to stay up and watch her, because I thought perhaps she was nauseous - I did until about one in the morning and felt she was sleeping comfortably at that stage. I woke her and took her outside in case she wanted to eat grass, but she only spent a few minutes letting the possums know who's boss and went back inside.

Was the marrow in the bone too rich for her? I had a look around the net, but didn't find any answers. And I did do what Hsin-Yi suggested, on Honey's blog, which was to get the butcher to cut out the hard middle part of the bone where most of the marrow is.

Well, today she dug up the bone and worked on it again for about an hour (followed by fifteen minutes of deciding where to bury it and doing so).

So, here's hoping she's not uncomfortable tonight...

a dog eats a knuckle bone to clean her teeth

After I read Honey's post about knuckle bones being good for cleaning dogs' teeth, a mystery was solved. I'd heard about knuckle bones but didn't know what they were. But Hsin-Yi, Honey's human, explained that they are the knobbly ends of marrow bones, with the hard, potentially tooth-breaking middle cut out.

Since Penny did break a tooth when she was young, and unfortunately had to have it removed, I'm nervous of bones. But we give them to Penny because we realise the value of bones as part of a dog's diet. Usually we stick to the soft brisket bones of beef or chicken bones such as necks, but I decided to take Hsin-Yi's recommendation and try Penny out on a knuckle bone.

She worked on it for about thirty-five minutes, actually getting quite puffed with all the exercise, and then buried it in the backyard for later retrieval. I was pleased at the way she took weight on her back leg during the long eating session, and also at the way she walked down the steps to the garden. Her limp was more apparent on the way up the stairs after she'd buried the bone, but we do realise she may limp for as much as six months after her surgery on the cruciate ligament.

Here's a video with the story of the Magnificent Huge Bone.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

dogs and life's simple pleasures

Penny went down the back steps today and into the backyard to rest in the sunshine.

How wonderful such simple pleasures are! Six months ago I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but after four months of her recovery from cruciate ligament surgery, going everywhere with her on lead, it's so great so allow her to come and go as she pleases.

DCH rescue calendar

We've received a beautiful calendar in the post. It has exquisite photos of rescued animals and the profits go to DogCatHorseRescue in New South Wales.
Of course I had a peep at each month's photo - I can never wait a whole year to see December's picture on calendars - and I particularly liked the photo for November, which includes Master Teal'c, whose human took the photos.

And those photos are all beautiful!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Penny's Christmas party

At last! Penny is able to go out with other dogs. And, just after Penny reached week 14 after cruciate surgery, it was the day of Cindy's doggie Christmas get-together at Kepala.

My dilemma was that Cindy, quite correctly, told me that Penny needed to be off lead when she was with the other dogs. (And how true it was - Penny curled her lip and snarled at her old friends when I tried to take her into the pool area on lead.) Once she was off-lead she was fine.

So, how to keep Penny from exhausting herself racing in and out of the wonderful pool?

Well, a simple solution. I threw her favorite toy, the Whirl Wheel, which she hasn't set eyes on for four months. Off she swam to get it.

Hurrying, of course, to make sure none of the other dogs beat her to it.

And then, of course, she had to guard it, which mostly involved standing around on the edge of the pool - and, incidentally, resting.

After a few swims, we joined the others who had moved on to the grassy area. I thought Penny might race around with the dogs who were playing chasey, but she preferred to take it quietly with the humans.

And I'm pleased to say she seemed fine the next day.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

trying out the Nina Ottosson Dog Casino

Boredom warning!!

This is a long video of Penny trying out our new Nina Ottosson Dog Casino toy. I'm only posting it because I think people thinking of buying the puzzle might like to see this warts-and-all tryout of it, with no footage cut out.

It's six minutes long, and seems a bit like watching grass grow, lol.

(And the title is stupid, because the last word, 'Casino', is missing in the title. But it took so long to upload that I'm not willing to do it again.)

the nina ottosson dog casino

It seemed a good time to try out our new Nina Ottosson toy today, as Penny was having kibble for her breakfast - boring stuff!
So we got the box out.

It's one of the hardest puzzles, level three, so we knew we'd have to take it in stages.

First I put the puzzle on the floor, taking out the little bones on top that stop the drawers underneath from moving in and out.

I let Penny see the drawers pulled fully out.

She watched with interest as I placed a piece of food in each little drawer.

And, last of all, I pushed the drawers in part-way, so she could see and smell the food.

I have a video clip of her trying it out, but it's very long and probably boring, to be quite honest. But I'm going to upload it here as a separate blog post, because I think it's worthwhile for anyone thinking of buying this toy. It's a warts-and -all look at how a dog approaches the task for the first time.

Swimming to build stamina

Penny's lost a lot of fitness over the last few months of recovery from surgery, so we're going to try to swim regularly.

When our vet nurse at Dogs in Motion in Doveton asked whether Penny was used to swimming, I said yes.

Well, I didn't consider a few factors:
1. Penny is now much less fit than she was six months ago.
2. This is a different situation, requiring steady laps rather than just fun in the water.
3. There are also other dogs swimming laps around the edge of the pool.

Luckily, they are careful to show you what to do.

Here she is, ready to go. She wears a collar provided for us and is on a longer than usual lead. The collar is tight and high on her neck, and she has a swim jacket to give her confidence.

And she swam well.

But the humans didn't do such a good job. All the other dogs seemed to manage to swim past the steps if they were doing more than one lap. But Penny, who was supposed to do two and then rest, tried to scramble out each time she passed the steps.

We've decided that we'll have the command "get out" when it's the right time for her to do that, and our vet nurse suggested the command 'not yet' for the times when she seems to be heading for the steps at the wrong time.

I guess we'll get used to it.

The other complication is that we're slow and the other dogs overtake, so we have to lay the lead down on the concrete and stand still so the other human steps over the lead and passes us. All this with Penny splashing and scrambling because she can't understand why we're suddenly holding her back.

Hmmm... will I have a person with a camera handy when I eventually tumble into the swimming pool?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

first off-lead walk

A red letter day. We've been given the go-ahead to start to return Penny to her normal activities. However, the physio gave us some advice that I think is very useful: re-introduce only one activity at a time, so that if Penny seems to be in pain or to be limping at all, we'll know which activity caused it.

The first thing we did was allow her to go down and up the steps leading to our backyard. On lead. Slowly. Well, that was the plan. We went on-lead, not-so-slowly. But she seemed fine after that experience. Halleluia! Now we don't have to spend so much time out in the street waiting for her to toilet.

But the big excitement was a visit to the lovely Yarra Bend Park. And, to our great pleasure, we discovered that the planned dog-friendly fence has been installed, so now dogs can walk off-lead without the danger of straying onto the road.

And so we set off along the fence.

Here's the big moment, when Penny was released from her lead:

There were puddles to play in, now that the drought doesn't have a grip on the weather.

And Penny seemed to be fine the next day after her adventure!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

first bath after surgery

Last weekend, Penny had her first afternoon off-lead in the garden, a wonderful day for us all.

She enjoyed the warm sunshine and mooched around finding sticks while her humans tried to make inroads into the massive growth of weeds swallowing up our backyard since these wonderful rains began.

She enjoyed a roll in rotting wet mulch, resulting in such a ghastly smell that we had to give her the first bath since surgery.

Friday, 3 December 2010

twelve weeks after surgery!

Hooray! We've made it to the twelve-week mark after Penny's surgery. The surgeon said after this period we could 'start to return Penny to her usual activities' - whatever that means!

However, the physiotherapist says sixteen weeks is a safer length of time, so I'll go by her recommendation. When I look at this video of Penny walking in the underwater treadmill, I can see that she is still favoring her left rear leg.

So I guess it'll be a few more weeks of the treadmill and of staying on lead whevever she is out of the house. (However, I did let her walk beside me off-lead down a local lane today, because it is quiet and straight and not too interesting. It was so-o wonderful to have her walking free beside me.)

The vet nurse who supervises the treadmill says that the water takes seventy percent of the dog's weight, so the treadmill gives her a chance to walk steadily for fifteen minutes, and of course the warm water not only provides resistance and muscle-building capactiy, but it's also comforting for a sore or aching leg.