A Seemingly Insignificant Move But…

A Seemingly Insignificant Move But…

This is going be a short post but my news, which is small and routine in a dog’s life, has nonetheless excited me.

When I wrote about Sasha’s first days than weeks immediately following her Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) in 2011, I explained why it was necessary that she be confined to one area of the great room for safety reasons. And how one day while in the kitchen I returned to find she had  gotten into the recliner which became “her chair” from that moment on. Occasionally she would get into a different recliner (I had to buy  hubby a replacement of course) but the Lazy Boy remained her favorite. Since loosing her vision in April 2016 she hasn’t attempted to climb into her chair. Her loose hairs long vacuumed out, I now sit in it with my laptop when we are alone in the evening. For some reason last night I was sitting in a different chair, completely immersed in an ongoing dog dilemma happening in a neighboring state. I heard a slight noise and when I looked up, there was Sasha climbing into her recliner! I rushed over to give her a bit of support in her weaker left rear leg but she didn’t really need it. I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I had to sit down. True to form, Sasha wanted to sit with her head on the one arm of the chair she’s always preferred and while attempting to get turned around she got out completely. My first inclination was to assist her back up but then decided not to. She made her initial albeit spontaneous attempt and while only in the chair for about 5 minutes, to me it was a major accomplishment that brought me such joy.

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It’s funny how things often change when one has a dog ~ or two or three. Things that were once so important become secondary. I used to be almost OCD when it came to housekeeping; decorator pillows placed just right on a love seat, glossy  book displayed on the coffee table along with a vase filled with fresh flowers,  colorful glass marbles or even pinecones I’d picked up during a walk. All that fell by the wayside and I could care less. I still vacuum or dust mop daily and pick up anything that is out-of-place but The Germs essentially rule the roost. I took the coffee table out after Sasha’s FCE lest she hit herself on it and never put it back. I replaced the lower displayed vases with two digital photo frames; one sits atop the secretary and the other atop the china closet. When I purchased new furniture I kept the old love seat because it had become the dogs favorite place to lay and watch the squirrels. I  bought a cover for it which somehow they’ve managed to reduce to tatters but I don’t care. They are family and this is their home too.

I’m not a savvy blogger  so unsure of menus and widgets. Please click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day. If you like it, please subscribe.

❄️Next up ~ December Snow Bunny❄️

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Sasha Says “Hello December”…

Sasha Says “Hello December”…

I must confess, haven’t taken many pictures or videos of Sasha in November as most of them turn out blurred. My family has been taking her to see Dr. Stuer at Bethel Animal Hospital  for her weekly acupuncture treatments and laser therapy sessions because ever since I took that giant fall in the parking lot in October I don’t like leaving the house. On the bright side, that will all change on December 6 with the eye correction surgery.

The tummy troubles that were an issue for Sasha in November seem to have resolved so we’re hoping it really is just an ulcer. I noticed a correlation however; the times she vomited were all approximately 5 pm ~ just before her evening meal. During the day gastric juices form in their stomach and can often be acidic which is why once a day feeding is not recommended. Sasha has always been a finicky eater in the morning and when she is, getting her to eat just a little is an accomplishment. I wonder if the three times she was sick were on days she had smaller breakfasts? It would make perfect sense plus because of the steroid therapy she would be prone to stomach acid. What can I say? Sasha has never been a morning girl.

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I spoke to Dr. Noble, Sasha’s BFF at Portland Veterinary Hospital and we are all in agreement that we’ll watch to see how she does over this next few weeks.

Which brings me to a decision I’ve made. IF Sasha does wind up needing to have a gastric endoscopy she would require anesthesia. I’m going to have her infused with some of the  stem cells  banked at the time of her first stem cell therapy in April as well as have her knees injected with Platelet Rich Plasma (RPR) again. I’ve been thinking about it for a few months now and pretty well made up my mind that I want to use some of her banked cells . I’d prefer to wait till the late spring because where we live there is minimal snow remaining on the ground late April thus she could get out and exercise more. However, if she’s going to be anesthetized for another procedure, I think it would be less taxing on her body to do the infusing and knee injections at the same time than sedating her again at a later date. The initial stem cell infusion and knee injections seemed to help her arthritis quite a bit. I think a second round would be just as beneficial if not more now that she has a custom boot to prevent her from knuckling.

So for now I’m just “thinking” until I see what the future brings. As for her vision, she doesn’t seem to have recovered any more but she’s still on the protocol plus she wasn’t bumped up to the next level in dosage due to the stomach issues. I’ll wait a few more weeks and if all stays calm, I’ll discuss it with her doctors.

November 30, 2016

Have to share something funny Sasha did on November 30. I was trying to keep the cat from going outside and in the mayhem Sasha just strolled past me without her boot on. I actually think with snow on the ground she’s less prone to abrading her foot if she knuckles but it was just funny the way it happened.

November 30, 2016
Walked right past me!
November 30, 2015
She even looks guilty!

 

Can’t wait to see what December brings! Hopefully it won’t take me several hours to do a relatively short post anymore.

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I’m not a savvy blogger  so unsure of menus and widgets. Please click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day. If you like it, please subscribe.

💜Next up ~ I have no clue💜

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sasha’s Tummy…

Sasha’s Tummy…

In the beginning of November Sasha threw up around 5 pm just before her evening meal. It shook e up because it contained some bright red blood. When a dog vomits blood it’s called hematemesis. Assuming the role of “Dog Mom” I immediately panicked.  Then I reminded myself I was also a nurse and took a more logical approach. I immediately took photos (don’t worry I’m not including them). Before clean up began I examined the “evidence”. Sasha is a bit of a trash can in that she eats grass and occasionally chews a piece of a kong off and eats it. Sure enough the evidence contained grass, plant stems and a piece of a rubber ball about 1′ x 1.5″. I still contacted her veterinarian and we agreed to keep an eye on her.

Hematemesis is  vomiting either new or recent blood, which is bright red. It could  also involve vomiting old, partially digested blood, which has the appearance of brown coffee grounds. Sasha had bright red blood and not a lot.  I was hoping it was because she’s a four-legged trash can. She ate well that evening and as days passed no further issues. Dr. Stuer did a thorough examination later that week during her session and her abdomen etc. all seemed well.  Sasha has had horrific gas lately. In fact, she can clear a room or drop a rhinoceros.

In addition to her room clearing gas I’ve heard her tummy grumbling from gas so I knew she was a gas monkey playing around in there. Remember, we sleep in the great room together and she usually lies near the sofa.

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Then it happened again earlier this week only this time no debris or grass….just liquid tinged with blood. I should mention that it was within the same time range as the first episode ~ a bit after 5pm. Once again panic initially set in then I got a grip and quickly took photos. I put my hand down next to one of the three little puddles so that Dr. Stuer could guesstimate the amount. Later that evening it hit me ~ she “might” have an ulcer. She’s on several different mediation but the real culprit is the Medrol (methylprednisolone ) which is a corticosteroid. Stomach ulcers can be caused by medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, steroids and aspirin. Corticosteroids definitely fall within that category.  Dr. Stuer agreed and put Sasha on Prilosec which is an over the counter human medication. He also called in a prescription for carafate, another drug used by both humans and dogs. Carafate is a joy to give. It’s a large white pill and the best way of giving it is to make a “carafate sludge”. You put about 15 mL of water into a medicine cup, add the pill and in a few minutes stir it then have the patient swig it down. It sort of has the consistency of Mylanta. I knew Sasha was NOT going to drink it from a cup and since it must be taken on an empty stomach trying to hide the “sludge” in her food wasn’t an option. So I bought several size syringes and proceeded my test runs. The best one was the 20 mL syringe. I put 15 mL of water into a medicine cup, droped the carafate pill in, stirred it a minute later then dumped the contents into the syringe. I gave the syringe a few shakes, push all the air out which brings the liquid up to the end then squirt it into her mouth. It’s only been since Tuesday but so far so good. She got sick again tonight, also around 5pm but it didn’t appear to have any fresh blood. I had just given her one of her larger pills and think that might have caused it. I’m rearranging her medication schedule (probably need a spreadsheet) to see if that might help.

I sent the photos of this weeks episode to her internist, Dr. Sarah Noble (Sasha’s BFF) and she agreed that it coud be an ulcer. We are going to continue with Dr. Stuer’s treatment protocol and see how she is over the net few weeks. If necessary she could have a gastroduodenal endoscopy (scoping) which is the most definitive means of diagnosing gastrointestinal ulceration. The problem with endoscopy  is that Sasha would have to be anesthetized for it. One can always try just plain x-rays first to see if they show an ulcer which is the route I would choose because 1. it’s less invasive and 2. doesn’t require anesthesia.

So stay tuned as Sasha’s medical journey branches off into yet another direction…

I’m not a savvy blogger  so unsure of menus and widgets. Please click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day. If you like it, please subscribe.

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💜Next up ~ Sasha makes a pit stop💜

Goodbye Summer…

Goodbye Summer…

Sasha had her weekly acupuncture today with Dr. Steur followed by laser therapy with Kathy-Jo. It was a very interesting visit to say the least.

August 26, 2016
Sasha Looking Rather Slinky..

Prior to beginning the acupuncture, Dr. Steur always does a hands on examination of Sasha’s body from nose to tail. He always checks her rear leg strength and muscle mass in several ways. Today he looked at me a tad surprised and asked if I’d noticed her rear right leg (the non-affected leg) was stronger. I told him I had not but only because I hadn’t been outside the most with her this week; my husband had. Dr. Steur seemed genuinely pleased and attributed the increased strength to Sasha wearing her new custom boots which Lucas Argrew from Beyond Shoe Repair recently completed. He said because wearing the boot allowed her to walk in a somewhat normal gait (no knuckling), she was relearning to use muscles that hadn’t been stimulated in awhile. It goes back to what I wrote on another video, I can do passive  range of motion exercises to keep her limber but Sasha has to do the active range of motion exercises, especially ones that will increase strength in her quadriceps and hamstrings. And it’s working!

August 26, 2016
Dr. Stuer checking out Sasha’s new custom boot

I’m not a savvy blogger  so unsure of menus and widgets. Please click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day. If you like it, please subscribe.

💜Next up ~ to wrap the hock or not💜

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How Do You Thank Someone Who Brought Such Change To Your Life?

How Do You Thank Someone Who Brought Such Change To Your Life?

How do you thank someone who has made such a difference in the life of your beloved dog? Who through perseverance far exceeded a normal paid project and instead, crafted something that dramatically improved your dogs quality of life?

Lucas Argrew, owner of Beyond Shoe Repair in Auburn, Maine went above and beyond a “routine project” when he made Sasha’s boots ~ both the water boots using a pair of commercial dog boots I’d purchased and  her custom boots which he designed from the ground up ~ literally. Little did I know when I first reached out to him what an innovative, creative and gifted artisan he was. I’ve written several times about Lucas taking one of Sasha’s boots back to make a modification; each modification was a tweak because something had popped into his head while trying her boots on. Simply amazing.

When I first contacted Lucas, I wanted something like Rufi’s Boot made for Sasha. When the neurosurgeon thought Sasha had Degenerative Myelopathy  (DM) in March 2016, I joined  a DM group on Facebook in an attempt to get as much information about the disease as possible. Fortunately Sasha’s  DNA Marker Test for DM came back negative but I was allowed, even encouraged, to stay in the group because knuckling is also a problem with DM dogs. DM dogs first need boots to protect their paws when knuckling and as the disease progresses, they also need a doggy wheelchair. I was having difficulty getting a proper fit with any boots I purchased so in desperation one night I asked the group for boo suggestions. They all said Rufi’s Boot. I came to learn that Rufus (Rufi) had a very creative mom, Erica. She bought a pair of commercial dog boots and had a shoemaker reinforce them. I gave pictures of Rufi’s boots to Lucas thinking that would be it. Little did I know  that his creative mind would kick in and surpass my request.

Lucas had made a minor adjustment to one of boots and brought it with him when he came over to our house for the photo shoot with Sun Journal photographer, Daryn Slover.

Sasha was being stubborn ( one of her more common traits)  and wouldn’t walk around the front yard for Lucas or Daryn. She took a short stroll but then sat down. She was done ~ for the time being at least.

Shortly after they left however, Sasha went into the back yard wearing her rockin’, stompin’ boot. Soon she started having the time of her life in her new boot.⬅︎ 🎤

Sasha Speedy # 1 was a bust due to a potty break.

Sasha Intro To Speedy Take #2

Sasha Intro To Speedy Take #3

Sasha ~ Amazing Lucas 

August 24, 2016

Sasha actually seemed a bit disappointed when I removed her boot.

There is no doubt in my mind that were it not for Lucas Argrew, Sasha’s life would not be as good as it is today. No she’ll never do many of the things she did in the past, but she can do so much more than she could earlier this year and that’s whats most important.

Even though Lucas’s creation isn’t the Rufi Boot (I think he should name it), if it wasn’t for the advice and encouragement from the members of the DM group, I never would have known about Rufus or his mom Erica and without that information  never would have sought out Lucas. Sasha and I are so grateful to Lucas and the DM group for giving Sasha her life back.

I’ll close with a video of the first time I removed Sasha’s new custom boot.

I’m not a savvy blogger  so unsure of menus and widgets. Please click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day. If you like it, please subscribe.

💜Next up ~ working the boots💜

Sasha Makes The Newspaper…

Sasha Makes The Newspaper…

On August 28, 2016 one of our regional newspapers, the Sun Journal in Lewiston Maine, did a feature on Sasha. The article was written by Lindsay Tice, Staff Writer. The photographer that came to my house was Daryn Slover and the one who photographed  Lucas at his shop,  Beyond Shoe Repair, was Andree Kehn.

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Animal Tales: Shoes for Sasha

Lindsay Tice, Staff Writer

Lewiston-Auburn Sunday, August 28, 2016|

When Sasha took her first steps in her new shoes at the Farmington Farmers Market a few weeks ago, Dottora Quick was moved to tears.

Quick’s 8-year-old German Shepherd had been turning under the toes of her back left paw for a while, the lingering result of a spinal embolism. It took nothing for Sasha to trip and fall when she walked, to cut her knuckles on rocks and scrape her paws on pavement.

But in the Farmer’s Market parking lot, minutes after Lucas Argrew from Beyond Shoe Repair fitted her with a prototype pair of boots he’d specially tailored for her, Sasha got up and walked without trouble. After years of medical problems, it was the first time in a long time that anything had been easy for her.

“Sasha’s just always been my lovably sweet, goofy girl,” Quick said. “Forget her pedigree, Shutzhund training and all of that, she’s just a sweetie. And then all of these “things” happened to her. Every time I turned around it was like, ‘Oh, my God; what’s next?’ Yet she’s met everything head on and  landed on her feet. So seeing her walk perhaps 10 feet in that asphalt parking lot — I was just overwhelmed and began crying.”

They were steps made possible thanks to Argrew — a cobbler who has a lot of experience with corrective shoes for humans but didn’t hesitate when asked to help a dog.

He’s a pet parent himself.

“I really love my animals. They’re a huge part of my family,” he said. “My wife and I don’t have kids; we have pets.”

Sasha’s health problems started in 2011 with a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism, which left her nearly paralyzed. Treatment and physical therapy helped her regain most of her movement. Earlier this year she battled, and is recovering from, sudden blindness.

But “knuckling” was a persistent problem, and in recent months it got worse. Quick bought pair after pair of dog boots — in stores, online and from Canada for up to $50 each — hoping one pair out of 10 would both protect Sasha’s paws and brace her foot enough to lessen the drag. None did.

Quick dubbed the growing unused shoe collection “Sasha’s Boot Emporium.”

Sasha’s favorite trips to the Sandy River near her home became more difficult. She loved to swim and it served as physical therapy for her, but her back paw scraped painfully on the river rocks.

“With the kind of knuckling she had, I wouldn’t be able to take her in the river,” Quick said.

Then Quick read in her local newspaper that Argrew from Beyond Shoe Repair would be at the Farmington Farmers Market. Maybe, she thought, he could help.

At the market, Quick told Argrew about Sasha and asked if he might be willing to tweak a pair of her store-bought boots to fit better. Argrew, who has a rescue dog of his own, said he could do more than that.

“We thought we could kind of up the ante,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time Argrew had been asked to make or fix something unusual. Since opening his shop in Auburn two years ago, he’s worked on equestrian gear, furniture, orthotics, straps for prosthetics and dog leashes.

“We’re ‘Beyond Shoe Repair’ because we do a lot of things beyond just shoe repair,” Argrew said.

But dog shoes? Those were new.  

Argrew spent about five hours turning a pair of Sasha’s boots into prototype custom-fit water shoes, with light-weight canvas uppers, a grippy sole and a padded support strap around her ankle — perfect for navigating the rocky river.

They were the shoes Sasha wore when she took her first successful steps in Farmington.

“When I was standing there that Saturday, crying and dumbfounded, all these people were talking (and) I heard somebody say, ‘Look at that dog’s face; she looks so happy,'” Quick said. “I looked at her face when I heard that and thought, ‘She does look happy!'”

Quick asked Argrew if he could design a second pair, this time for everyday wear. Argrew agreed. These shoes he would make from scratch, contoured to fit a dog’s paw, with calf-skin inner soles, the same rubber soles used on human shoes and a tongue so the shoes could be loosened as needed.

“He is really a creative artisan,” Quick said. “The more I think about it, the more amazed I am.”

At $60 for the improved boots and $130 for the custom-made pair, Sasha’s new shoes were more expensive than the others in Sasha’s Boot Emporium, but they were in line with high-tech dog boots sold by commercial brands.

The first boots Argrew created for Sasha had to be tweaked — her paw sometimes swells, so the left shoe has to be made bigger to accommodate it but Quick has been so delighted by the first model that she’s showed it off to Sasha’s vets, in a video online and plans to post about them in Sasha’s blog.

Argrew said he was happy to have helped Sasha walk easier.

“We just know how important it is to be able to help customers who can’t help themselves,” he said. “(Animals) can’t really tell you what’s wrong, but you can obviously see and try to correct the problems they can’t correct on their own.”

Quick is already thinking ahead for Sasha: snow boots by Argrew.

“If there’s one silver lining in everything that’s happened with Sasha, it’s been finding him,” Quick said, “because I think it’s just going to make such an impact on her quality of life.”

Have an idea for Animal Tales? Call Lindsay Tice at 689-2854 or email her at ltice@sunjournal.com.

August 24, 2016
DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Dottora Quick plays with her German Shepherd, Sasha, at her home in Strong. Sasha wears a custom-fitted corrective boot on her rear leg.

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ANDREE KEHN/SUN JOURNAL

Lucas Argrew, owner of Beyond Shoe Repair in Auburn, works on a pair of custom corrective dog boots for Sasha the German Shepherd.

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ANDREE KEHN/SUN JOURNAL

Parts of a prototype for a pair of corrective dog boots designed and crafted by Lucas Argrew, owner of Beyond Shoe Repair in Auburn.

August 24, 2016
DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Lucas Argrew of Beyond Shoe Repair made a custom corrective dog boot for Sasha.

 

Taa Daaa ~ Custom Boots!

Taa Daaa ~ Custom Boots!

On August 20, we met Lucas Argrew at the Farmer’s Market for Sasha’s custom boots. Needless to say I was super excited! When I first saw them I was dumbfounded because they were everything I could have hoped for and more; he’d thought of every detail. Once Lucas made sure they fit properly, I had him explain everything because I was afraid I’d forget.⬅︎

While he was explaining the details, Sasha got to meet his dog Fred who was a rescue dog adopted by Lucas and his wife. Fred was a tad bashful at first but he quickly overcame it as you can see. Nary a growl from either dog! Too bad he’s a “younger man” as Sasha IS single you know.

Sasha’s boots once again generated a lot of attention from the market shoppers as many of them stopped to watch and ask questions. As before the people in the booth next to his were able to answer some of the questions since they’d been there from Sasha’s first visit. To be honest I was a bit dazed and once I finished recording Lucas’s explanation/instructions for the boots, I chatted (more like babbled) to Lucas’s wife who is just as nice as he is. Delightful couple and devout animal lovers.

Lucas took one boot back with him for a final adjustment but the other one came home with us. The soles are made of Vibram to ensure a good grip. The inside is lined with a soft material which will eliminate the need for a sock. To accommodate the swelling that occasionally occurs in her rear left foot (the problem child) he made the openings expandable so the boot won’t be snug. He also put several velcro closure straps to ensure they stay on. Lucas put rings on the toe area which are actually integrated into the sole of the boot. This way when the knuckling strap lifts the front of her foot up, it’s not just lifting the end of her toes but rather the whole foot which is more ergonomic. The top wrap/cuff that goes above her hock is lined with sheepskin so it won’t irritate her leg when walking. The knuckling strap attaches to the cuff then to the rings on the boots. The straps are  completely adjustable so if one needs more tension I can add it.

Finally, Sasha’s first walk in the dining area!

Needless to say I am extremely happy! I’ve already asked Lucas to start working on a pair for winter as Sasha loves the snow.

Now that Sasha has boots, all she wants to do is dance!⬅︎ 📢

I’m not a savvy blogger so unsure of menus and widgets. Please click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day.  If you like it, please subscribe.

💜Next up ~ boots of course💜