1 year anniversary

dogswalk

It’s now been 1 year (and some change– but who’s counting?) since Jersey’s neck/spinal surgery. In looking back, his surgery feels so long ago because so much has happened since then. It’s weird to think it’s only been 1 year.

I am happy to report that at this anniversary, Jersey is doing beautifully. You would have never guessed that a year ago he was having surgery to repair FOUR bulging discs in his neck that were causing him extreme pain. The four bulging discs sound impressive, but to be honest with you, the worst part of Jersey’s experience was not the surgery, and not the days leading up to surgery… but in his long, complicated recovery.

As many of you know, Jersey remained painful for nearly 6 whole months following his procedure to repair those discs. Most dogs are able to get off all pain medications within weeks, but at months in Jersey was still dependent on muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and pain meds to keep him comfortable. It was so, so, so difficult to navigate that with him. He is such a sweet, loving boy who didn’t deserve any of that horribleness.

Fortunately though, today he is like a brand new dog. It took a lot of time, another visit to the CanWest, another CTscan, and another round of heavy steroids.. But since May he has been medication AND pain free and it back to his normal, happy, cuddly self.

I try not to live in fear that this might happen again to him (or to Oslo!) but worrying never helped anyone or stopped anything bad from happening.. So we just take basic precautions, try to keep his delicate spine protected, and try to keep a positive attitude. Oh, and we love them. We love these boys just so, so, so hard every single day.

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One year ago….

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hello winter

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It’s amazing, isn’t it? How summer suddenly gives way to Fall, and Fall– seemingly without warning– gives way to Winter? And so it goes.

We went to bed on Thursday night to green grass, and woke up Friday morning to a foot of snow on the ground. The days have warmed up and melted some of that snow, but with more snow in the forecast it seems that winter is upon us and there is no turning back.

Oslo is bundled up in his knitted sweater and looking cuter than cute. But no sweater for Jersey because he can’t stand the feeling of stuff on his body.

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Where have we been?!

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Holy cow.

I cannot even believe how long its been since I updated. Life with a Baby certainly has been hectic, and time/thought consuming.

Our baby is now 7 months old and life is settling down into a more normal routine. I feel in many ways that my head has come out of a fog and I am finally able to wrap my brain around things other than just daily baby care. I am so thankful that Oslo and Jersey have been healthy these past 7 months because I truly don’t know how I would have coped with a new baby and the demands of a sick piggy at the same time.

Anyway, enough about our baby! This is a blog about Oslo & Jersey!

First and foremost, this past spring we were able to get Jersey back in to see the specialist at Canada West to chat about his on-going pain his his spinal (neck) surgery last November. They did another CT scan and determined that despite his corrective surgery last November, he still has some slight bulging of one of the discs in his neck. He also has some bulging in a disc lower down his spine as well, which (at the moment, and thankfully) is asymptomatic.

With that, we were presented with a couple options: We could have operated again attempt to remedy those discs, or we could take a more conservative “wait and see” approach. Because of how invasive and traumatic surgery is, we opted to ‘wait and see’. I really don’t want to put my dogs through those surgeries unless they are truly 100% necessary & unavoidable.

The good news is that despite the problematic discs, we were still able to get Jersey home and get him off all medications. After 6 months of being on pain meds, it felt pretty incredible to fiiiiinally wean him off without any flare up of pain.

That all went down in May, and since then Jersey has done wonderfully. We are keeping a watchful eye on his spine, and trying our best to keep him calm and relaxed. It’s always in the back of my mind that a few of this discs are in bad shape and could become worse at any time. No crazy rough housing, no stairs, and no running about. He’s still able to go on slow, steady daily walks, play a little bit with Oslo, and get lots and lots of cuddles though, so he’s very happy despite it all.

Oslo’s Seasonal Flank Allopecia has also cleared up entirely. Both dogs spent countless hours this summer sunning themselves on our front porch, and neither are lacking for melatonin at this point! However, as we enter the colder & darker winter months I may need to start Oslo on a daily melatonin supplement to keep his levels up– so that he isn’t going bald again come Spring ūüėČ

It’s been almost 1 full year since Jersey had neck-surgery, and the 6 months following that were extremely hard on everyone. Fortunately, we did manage to get through, and things are back on track now. ¬†We have our fingers and paws crossed that things continue to go well as we enter 2018.

I apologize again for my absence these last few months. I will try to get back into a routine of regular updating ‚̧

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Seasonal Flank Alopecia

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In Oslo news,

My 8 year old fella was diagnosed with “Seasonal Flank Alopecia” this winter. When I initially noticed a bit of hair loss on the sides of Oslo’s body, it was so subtle that I convinced myself that I was making it up. However, as a few weeks passed, it really seemed to be getting more and more evident.

He wasn’t itchy. The skin underneath wasn’t inflamed. He doesn’t have fleas. And he didn’t have any bumps, lesions, or sores. Over all, the was nearly asymptomatic.. aside from the fact that he was increasingly going bald on both sides of his body. So, to the vet he went.

They did a skin scrape and a full blood panel, and it all came back clear and excellent. He doesn’t have parasites, no fungal infections, ¬†this thyroid is fine, and everything else is fabulous. So! He was diagnosed with “Seasonal Flank Alopecia”.

Seasonal Flank Alopecia is common in¬†English Bulldogs, Scottish Terriers, Shar Peis, Giant Schnauzers, Airedale Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Dobermans, and (as I have come to learn) Frenchies. Dogs living in colder, darker regions seem to experience it the most often. Typically hair loss will start in November, and not begin to regrow¬†until March. Essentially, they lose the hair during their normal winter-‘shed’… all the other hair on their body regrows, but the hair on their sides does not. Not until the next seasonal re-growth in spring.

Some dogs experience hyper pigmentation of the affected area– meaning the skin turns very dark in colour. Some experience a complete loss of hair, and go completely smooth-bald. Some experience just a thinning. Some dogs only experience it once in their life… Others never have the hair regrow, or will lose the hair every single winter, and some just experience it every few years. Since this is the first time it’s happened to Oslo, we don’t know where he will fall in all that, but the good news is that while the hair loss is a bit unsightly, it is also basically harmless.

Treatment can involve giving supplemental melatonin. Light-therapy using a ‘light box‘– similar to a S.A.D that people use. And just generally trying to get the dog out into the sunlight for a bit of time every day through the winter months (this is hard to do when it’s -20 degrees every damn day, all winter long!)¬†Fortunately, Oslo’s hair already seems to be growing back, and he is totally unbothered by his current look. It may happen to him again next winter, but I will hopefully be able to stave it off by supplementing with melatonin before the hair loss occurs.

ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges

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On February 23rd, our house hold grew by +1.

It’s been 5 weeks since Baby B made his debut, and I am just finally feeling like the earth is spinning at a semi-normal pace. It was a bit of a whirlwind for awhile there.
Oslo, Jersey, and Xyla have adjusted well to their new (mostly) hairless pack member.

Oslo, being the most high-strung & crazy dog in the house, was a bit wound up initially. Every time the baby cried (which was often) or any time I’d breast feed (which was even more often) he would pant, pace around the house, and generally display signs of anxiety. Thankfully he’s calmed down with that silliness now. He still is desperate to lick B’s hands and face, which we let him do once or twice a day for good measure, but over all he isn’t nearly as much of a basket case.

Jersey, being the most laid back dog on the planet, doesn’t seem to care at all about the baby. When we hold the baby down for him to sniff and lick, he ignores the baby completely, and instead tries to force his head under our hands for pets (hard to do when our hards are busy holding an infant).

Over all, they have both responded exactly as I suspect they would, so no big surprises. Oslo is crazy. Jersey is chill. Typical.

Thankfully, Jersey’s ¬†health has held out these last 5 weeks, and I haven’t had to deal with him being painful as well as managing new baby. We have him on medication 2x a day now, and he seems to be doing well on that.¬†We are planning a trip to Vancouver in early May, and will be bringing Jersey in to the Neurologist to be re-examined. He’s been stable for the last couple of months, but I don’t trust his spine one bit. For now though, I’m thankful that he’s doing well, he’s able to participate in regular activities, and generally is happy and comfortable.

Spring is FINALLY here after a very long, hard winter. Between Jersey’s spinal issues which started in November… and the unusually cold and snowy weather we have had, this winter has been a doozy & I couldn’t be happier to see it gone. With the snow finally melted, and the temperatures finally consistently above zero, I’ve been able to walk the dogs more, allow them time on the front porch, and even open the windows some afternoons to let in some fresh spring air. Simple as they may be, it all feels like a real treat.

Doofuses

Jersey is back to doing well. He had a small spasm last Friday (a week ago) following an especially exciting visit to the vet for his regular nail trim and anal-gland appointment. Which isn’t surprising, all things considered. ¬†If we keep him calm, on routine, and on his medications though, he’s his normal self again.

I am also due to have a baby any time in the next 3 weeks, and I worry about how the dogs will adjust to *that*. I desperately hope that the change in the house (and what a huge change it will be) won’t throw Jersey back about 25 steps in his progress.

It IS exhausting trying to keep the house as quiet and peaceful as possible. I feel like I am constantly walking on egg shells and always on high alert with him.

On the plus side– the sooner the baby comes, and the snow melts, the sooner we can make the trip back to Vancouver to have him seen again by his Neurologist. Hopefully then we can get to the bottom of why he’s still requiring medication to function, and why he’s still so damn delicate.¬†This has been going on since November, and to say I am “over” it would be pretty huge understatement. I’m sure HE is over it as well.

In the meantime, I’m glad he’s comfortable and happy again.