Denny and Charlie (and the rest)
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Denny’s Bracing News

Sunday, 27 May 2012 09:10 by robbi

For the first time in months, Denny did not have a treadmill session this week. On his last check-up with the Rehab Vet, she said as long as he was getting his walks at home he could start spacing out his treadmill sessions a bit more. So now he is on bi-weekly visits.

While that’s great – it’s nice to have a bit of a break from them – it kind of makes us sad. It seems Denny has reached his plateau with how much mobility and balance he is going to regain with the therapy. Her theory has been that with exercise Denny can strengthen his muscles to help support his back and maintain his mobility. He’s definitely better than he was when we started, but he’s not as improved as we were hoping.

So we’re starting to look around for other things we can do to help him. We actually ordered one of the back braces we had been looking at several months ago. It came the other day, so we’ve only had a small experience with it. It’s the Lil Back Bracer. It’s made of neoprene and has stays inserted into it (like boning in a corset) to help keep Denny’s spine straight. He tolerated us putting it on him very well and didn’t complain whilst wearing it. It does restrict his movement a bit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The only down side is that he got pretty hot when he was wearing it, so we took it off after a while.

The purpose of this brace is to support his back, not “fix” it. It was invented for dogs with Inter-Vertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) to give them some relief during flare-ups.

DennysLilBackBracer

I can’t say for certain if it’s helping, but Richard swears he saw an improvement in Denny’s gait immediately following his afternoon in it. I need to watch more carefully before & after next time to see. Maybe I’ll video him so I can compare.

We’re still doing his walks as weather permits, but it’s starting to get really warm and Denny doesn’t do too well with the oppressive heat. So we’re trying to make sure he goes out in early morning or evening and he doesn’t over-do it.

Meanwhile, we got some exciting news this week! The back brace we had looked at several months ago is finally in full production! I had previously posted a link to the MB Spinal Brace website, but it was still in the prototype phase. Now that it’s being manufactured, we have taken Denny to see the Vet who told us about it so that he could be measured for a custom brace! We really liked this Vet – he was very knowledgeable about new procedures being tried and was very excited to have us want to be involved with this new brace. Denny will be the first dog he has had try this, so he’s anxious to see if he gets any relief.

Denny had his chest, belly and spine measured so that he could get the right fit for him. The Vet is going to order the brace and we’ll take Denny back to have him apply it. It consists of a band of material with curved metal inserts that goes around his chest, another around his belly and adjustable metal rods that go down his sides connecting the two parts. It is supposed to hold his body in alignment so that his spine can be straightened. Right now he has a very rounded spine with his back end sloping downward. This device sounds very much like the adjustable back braces that are used for humans with scoliosis, so the theory makes sense.

As this is so new, there really isn’t too much proof behind it but the inventor has several videos on his website of dogs he has been treating with his prototypes. The results are very encouraging. If Denny’s problems are the result of his spine compressing on his spinal cord, then this should alleviate his symptoms. If we see no improvement, then his problem is probably the spinal cord itself deteriorating. Either way, this should give us some answers.

That’s definitely been the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal – nobody has been able to definitively tell us what is wrong with our little guy. So, we’re going to keep trying everything we can so that we can hopefully find something that will make him more mobile.

We will post photos of the brace once it has arrived!

Maggie May

Thursday, 3 May 2012 00:02 by robbi

I don’t want people to think that Denny is the sole focus of our lives here at Denny Towers.  Yes, we are devoting a lot of time and energy (& money) on the little guy’s rehab, but we are fully aware that there are other animals to be looked after here.  And believe me, they are very well looked after!

I’m still making their food, which gets supplemented with a bit of kibble to ensure I don’t miss any nutrients they require.  They each get a slew of supplements that rivals the human’s routine every morning.  They are adored and pampered.  Most importantly, they are loved and they know it.

Which begs the question: why are they always trying to escape?

The other day, as I opened the back gate to take out the recycling bin, Maggie darted out the gate and down the driveway.  I immediately dropped the bin and closed the gate to prevent any other escapees whilst yelling at Maggie.  She ran in front of our parked car and promptly stopped, dropped, rolled over onto her back and went rigid. I walked up to her, scooped her stiff little body up and brought her back inside the gate.  Once I sat her down she went prancing back inside the house, tail up with a mischievous grin on her face.

EscapeAttempt050212

I have no doubt she would do it again today if given the opportunity.

Does this girl not realize just how good she has it here?  This was the frightened little neglected girl that PugHearts took in with rope marks around her neck.  She was a skinny little thing that was so fearful she would cower whenever we approached her, flattening herself to the ground. 

We fostered her for several months until the perfect home was found: it was a recently divorced woman who lived alone except for when her daughter stayed with her.  She wanted a companion.  Maggie would be able to go with her to work every day, so she would never be left alone.  We had no doubt it was the perfect home for her. 

Until about a year later when the woman called us to say that now that she had a boyfriend, Maggie couldn’t stay with her.  Boyfriend was “allergic” so Maggie was being kept crated in a bedroom now that boyfriend had moved in.  I went and picked her up that very day.  I apologized to Maggie profusely and promised her we would find the truly perfect home for her.

A couple of months later, we found her new home.  A young married couple with no kids.  They had never had a pug – or even a dog – but they had a cat who had recently passed away at a very old age that they loved very much.  The home visit was perfect.  They fell in love with her immediately.  We confirmed the match and placed Maggie, content that she was in the right place. A few weeks later we were asked by her adoptive parents if we could keep her while they went out of town for a family function.  We happily agreed and took her back in for her week-long stay.  The day that the couple were to return to Houston, we didn’t hear anything.  I waited another day and finally called them.  Didn’t they want to come collect Maggie? As it turns out, they weren’t sure.  She seemed so “needy.”  They didn’t know if they had made the right decision to adopt her.  I told them that if they were not committed to her, then it was best to leave her with us.  I did not want her someplace she wasn’t 100% wanted and I did not want to send her back with them only to have them call us in another week or 2 to come get her.

We decided that was enough.  Obviously she was meant to be with us.  It had nearly killed me to give her up both times before, but I was trying to do the selfless thing and give her a chance at a better life.  Apparently, we were too stupid to realize that we could give her the best life. 

Yes, she is needy. Good Lord, she is needy!  She paws at me for attention whenever she’s near me.   She curls up in my lap whenever I’m on the sofa.  She lays in the back of my chair when I’m at my desk, barely leaving room for me. 

ChairHog

She sleeps on my head at night.  She is extremely demanding of my attention.  And she gets it.  She is jealous whenever I pay attention to the other dogs.  She gets very short tempered with them and will put them in their place whenever she disapproves of their shenanigans. She’s turned into a very cranky old lady.  But I love her more than I can possibly say.  I am utterly devoted to her and she knows it.

MagsSo why on earth does she try to make her escape if given half a chance?????

Bribery

Monday, 23 April 2012 18:17 by Robbi

Denny, like most pugs, is very food-motivated. Very food motivated. Extremely food motivated! He will risk injury to try and get a good snack. Especially if it’s people food.

A great example is his visits to his regular vet’s office. He does not like going to the vet anyway, but if they have to touch his paws to draw blood he gets very panic-stricken. Any amount of reassuring or trying to hold him seems to exacerbate the situation. But at his vet’s office they have discovered a magical item that distracts him from what they are doing: cream cheese. They keep a tub of it behind their counter and whenever they need to distract a doggy, they simply dip a biscuit into the cream cheese and hold it at a height so the dog can lick the cream cheese but not quite get a bite. It’s like crack. Whenever the deed is done, the dog can have the biscuit. Denny usually licks off all the cream cheese and then looks at them to give him a top-up. It never fails to do the trick.

When we first started taking Denny for his underwater treadmill sessions, we were a bit unsure about how he would react. He hates being in our pool (though he is a very good swimmer) and cannot stand to even walk around on wet grass. You can see the look of disgust on his face as if to say “but Mum, my paws will get wet!” whenever I try and take him out after a rainstorm. And sure enough, the first time he was put in the treadmill and it started to fill with water, he seemed a bit panicky. A treat helped calm him down. He walked well but his ears were down and we knew he wasn’t thrilled with it. He was rewarded at the end of the walk with more treats.

He obviously remembered that.

The next time we took him he started fussing when the little life jacket was put on him. A couple of treats later and he let us proceed. Then the treadmill started. More treats were needed to keep him focused. This has continued and by last week’s session he was eating during the entire walk. He actually only walked about half the time. The tech would hold out a treat and he would walk to get it. Once he had it he would “ride” the treadmill to the back of the tank. She would hold out another treat and he would go get it, and then “ride” the treadmill again. If she held the treat but didn’t give it to him, he would show his defiance by standing still and riding the treadmill back again. No words of encouragement from us made any difference. Our wild gestures and clapping meant nothing. When his time was up I was exhausted, but he had barely started to pant. He had won the battle.

This week, we tried a different approach. We came armed with a jar of peanut butter and a long-handled wooden spoon. Once Denny had his harness on and was in the treadmill, Richard opened the peanut butter jar and coated the spoon.

We had Denny’s undivided attention.

He didn’t even seem to notice the water filling the tank, as his tail was wagging and his gaze never left the spoon. Richard lowered the spoon at the front of the tank and the tech started the treadmill. Denny licked and walked, licked and walked. I am proud to announce that Denny broke his previous time record and walked for a total of 6 minutes today!

We’re definitely bringing the spoon and peanut butter next week.

Okay…random pug pics!

Charlie says “Hi!”

Charlie

Stewie says “Honest, Grandpa said I could have his slipper!”

StewieSlipper

Um, I don’t think Grandpa wants it back now Stewpot.

AquaPaws–Underwater Treadmill for Dogs!

Friday, 6 April 2012 17:50 by robbi

When we decided we wanted to try laser therapy for Denny, I had to do some research to find one near us.  Our local vet didn’t offer it and the Rescue Vet that does is an hour away.  We were hoping to find someone local.  The Rehab Vet that we did find is only about 35 minutes from us, so multiple appointments in a week are possible without cutting too much into our work life.

The Rehab Vet we found listed a slew of services that I didn’t think we would be using.  One of those is Aquapaws.  It’s an underwater treadmill.  They have two of them – one for dogs and a larger one for horses!  Apparently this vet sees a ton of horses.  In Houston – who knew?

Anyway, I wasn’t very familiar with the underwater treadmill and I didn’t think it was anything that Denny could benefit from.  But it turns out that it has been exceedingly beneficial.  He has gained muscle strength and stamina through these sessions.  And while he doesn’t really like them (he hates getting wet) we know it’s worth it to continue them while we are seeing such good results.  We bribe him with a laser therapy session when he’s done and that seems to keep him happy.

I took Denny for his latest session this Thursday.  I tried to get some photos of the machine and his session, but I was obviously moving too much and they’re kind of blurry.  I’m going to post them anyway, so you can get an idea of what this is all about.

This is a shot of the machine.  There’s a ramp that the dog walks up (though Denny usually gets carried.)  The door is then closed and sealed shut and the water is pumped in. 

Treadmill filling with water

The vet tech stands with her feet on either side of the treadmill to watch over Denny while he’s walking.  He’s wearing a harness here – the first few sessions he wore a life jacket and hated it so badly that they’ve switched him to this.

Note the ears are down :-(

And then this is my view for the next few minutes.  I’ve watched him each session.  The first one he skipped a few times and didn’t always use all 4 paws.  He now goes the entire time without dragging back legs or missing a step.  His time has also been increased and he now does 5 1/2 minutes.  I’m so proud!

Treadmill Time

After it’s all over, he gets dried off with a towel and taken into one of the rooms for his laser treatment.  By the time she’s done with that, he’s mostly forgiven us.

Denny waiting patiently for his Aquapaws followed by his"spa treatment" of laser therapy.

Love that boy!