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Sunny's Journey

Becoming a Tripawd at 13

Category: physical therapy (page 1 of 2)

No News is Good News

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Sorry for long delay between postings.  It has been a very exciting time for our family.  I’ve taken a new job and as a result I will now split my time between Atlanta and New Orleans.  My job is with the Audubon Zoo as the Assistant Curator of Primates.  This probably helps explain the “prim8keeper” user name.

Enough about me though, on to Sunny!  He has been doing fantastic.  At this point he does everything he did prior to his surgery except for going up the stairs.  He will go up if you call him and cheer him along the way, but it’s obvious it is hard.  As a result we just pick him up.  We figure we would rather carry him than have him hurt his good back leg.  He has continued to go swimming at least every two weeks, if not weekly, to work on core strength in addition to what we are doing at home.  Currently at home we are doing cookie stretches, massage and  warm compresses.  He isn’t as excited about what we do at home as we would hope, but we try our best to get him interested.

I’ll try to post some photos tomorrow of our happy boy!

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Taking the Plunge

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Since my last update Sunny has continued to do well.  Everything is pretty much back to normal as far as he is concerned.  The only thing Sunny isn’t sure about doing is going up the stairs which is understandable.  Currently if we put his ruff wear harness on he will try with our assistance, but its obvious he doesn’t feel comfortable doing it on his own.  I’m sure with time though his confidence will build.  His appetite is also still not back up to his pre-surgery levels and I’m not totally sure why.  I think it may be a protest on some level because we cut him off of the wet food.  We are getting very close to his full amount though of dry food so I’m not too concerned.

Yesterday we started his rehab at GVR where he will be swimming once a week!  This was the first time as far as we know that Sunny has been swimming unless he used to go before we adopted him.  At first he didn’t really seem to know what to make of it but he did really well overall.  Towards the end he was trying to splash the water so he could catch it in his mouth so I like to think he had fun.  It can be hard to tell with him.  He can be so timid at first anytime we meet anyone new or he is a new situation.  It took until about half way through the session until he seemed to relax.  Hopefully with further visits Sunny will become more relaxed and just enjoy it.  In total yesterday he swam for about 15 minutes.  Eventually it will be increased, but since it was his first session they wanted to keep it short so he didn’t overexert himself.  The hope though is that he will continue to build core strength.

Speaking of rehab, check out this feature about Sunny featured over at the Tripawds Foundation!

Sunny swimming for the first time at GVR.

Sunny swimming for the first time at GVR.

Wednesday will be Sunny’s one month mark since his surgery.  It’s crazy to think it has already been that long, but we couldn’t be happier.


Today we are celebrating!  Today marks the two week anniversary of Sunny’s amputation.  He also slept through the night last night, ate almost his full diet today, and took all his meds!  That alone would be worth celebrating.  I’m optimistic we are turning the corner in terms of getting over the initial post surgery hump.  I have been working with animals for my entire career they never fail to amaze me.


I also want to give a huge shout out to the Maggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab! They covered the cost of Sunny’s first visit to GA Veterinary Rehabilitiation, Fitness & Pain Management (GVR) with Dr. Bailey.  You will see his feature on the Tripawds blog next week.  The support and guidance we have received from the Tripawds community has been amazing.  I’ve always felt animal people are some of the best people out there and this just once again proves it.  Thank you!

Sunny's on his last day as a quadruped prior to surgery.

Sunny on his last day as a quadruped prior to surgery.

Tapering Down

This morning we were up bight and early for a few reasons.  First and for most Sunny needed his tramadol at 6:15 am, but I also wanted to get him into the vet first thing to beat the Saturday rush.  Since our vet opens at 8 am on Saturday it unfortunately didn’t make sense to go back to bed no matter how much I wanted too.  Overall Sunny has been taking his medications slightly better today.  We have used cheese, wet dog food, and canned pumpkin.  At this point I am rotating methods frequently to try and keep his suspicions down.  I also want to try and introduce pill pockets again since they worked so well for so long.  Overall, last night he slept pretty well although he still insist on getting up for at least a few minutes around 2 am.  Last night as I was sitting there looking at my iPad while petting him around 2:30 am and all I could think of was the last time I was up this late was probably in my 20’s during my party days.  Oh how things have changed.

When we got to the vet everyone in the office had to see how Sunny was doing.  It was our first time at our regular vet since he had his amputation.  We are lucky enough that we have been visiting the same practice and seeing the same vets for the past 7 years so everyone knows our dogs well.  As soon as we got into see Dr. Porter she said exactly what I knew she would say.  That the suture that came untied was ok and wouldn’t be a problem.  I figured this would be the case, but I also knew that since it was the weekend if I didn’t take him in it would come undone tomorrow when no one is open.  Dr. Porter also said his incision looked great.  When I told her it had been 10 days she said lets take some out.  So we took out every other stitch.  The reaming stitches will just stay in next week just to be safe since he is on the older side.  That said we saw and immediate improvement in Sunny’s attitude just by removing half of them.  So many people from Tripawds said this would make a difference and boy were they right!

We also discussed Sunny’s medication and she also felt given how well overall he seems to be doing that we could discontinue the Rimadyl.  He had his last dose this morning around 11 am.  Dr. Bailey at GVR told me the same thing Wednesday, but I can’t help but worry.  I know the only way to tell if they continue to need it is to stop.  She also suggested that we may be able to start tapering the tramadol back from three times a day to only two since he is also on the t-relief.   That would be a huge improvement since it would allow me to return to work.  Right now my plan is to wait until Monday to begin tapering that back since I want to make sure there is a sufficient time to see if he is ok without the Rimadyl.  I just don’t want to cut too much at once.

When we got home Sunny was more active than he has been.  He even went and found his ball for the first time since his surgery!  Great signs all around.  He spent most of the afternoon sleeping which wasn’t too surprising given all the morning activity.  This evening we also continued to do his physical therapy exercises at home.  Last but not least for the first time this afternoon we saw him laying down on the side of his amputation!  It was only for about 10 minutes, but still.  Either way it is clear we are really starting to make some progress.

Looking Forward

Now that we have made it through the first week after surgery we are looking forward towards the future.  Lots of stuff will begin to happen over the next week as Sunny hopefully goes off all of his pain medications and get his sutures removed.  Getting him off of he pain medications will be a big win for me since it will allow me  I’m also happy to report that he slept through last night!  I’m not sure if it was because he was tired due to our trip to GVR or because of the new homeopathic medications, but we were ecstatic either way.  I’m hoping maybe he has turned a corner and this will once again become the norm.  All that said we will likely stop giving him the hypericum.  We have not found a good way to give it to him.  He is not a fan of us just putting the tiny pills directly into his mouth (he actually spit one out) and he would not drink water that I dissolved them into.  I was able to dissolve them into a very small amount of water I can put into a syringe and put directly into his mouth, but he hates it so much I have to wonder if the benefits out weigh the negative experience of him receiving it?  At a minimum there is no way we can give it to him three times a day.  Right now I’m just thinking this will be something we try in the evening before bed and if we are successful, then great, if not we may just have to give up after a few days of trying.  It would be much easier if you could just give it with food!

Sunny ate what amounted to his full diet today for the first time since coming home even though it is still containing wet food.  All in all he seems to be doing better with each passing day.  We made more trips than we have been outside today and he showed interest in exploring the yard.  All in all a lot of positive developments.   I also started working with him on his at home exercises to help build his core strength.  I know we still have a long road ahead of us, but I can’t help but start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.



We called BluePearl today to see if they biopsy results were back since they originally told us it would only be three to five days.  They said they were still waiting on the bone to calcify.  We couldn’t help but laugh imaging them dissolving the whole leg.  In actuality though this likely means that the sarcoma had invaded the toe it was perched upon.  It just reconfirmed for me that we made the right decision to amputate.  Hopefully we will soon have the additional lab results to once again confirm this.  They are still treating him as cured so we are optimistic this wont change.

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