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Frank's New Story

the beautiful and scary new beginning

Frank's New Story

Home Sweet Home

May 7th, 2017 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

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My little Frankers has been home since Thursday! They kept him for two nights since he had a lot of swelling and drainage. He was super anxious the first day back home, but after some good rest I can tell he’s been feeling better. For the most part he’s been getting around really well on three legs! He does seem to hesitate more with figuring out how to sit or lay down, but he can be up in a second if he wants. And he pooped twice on Friday, which I wasn’t expecting since most people said it took almost a week for their pups to poop post-surgery so I was very excited. And he’s been pooping pretty regularly since then, so yay for a properly functioning digestive system! 😉

It’s definitely been weird for me though. Every time I see the giant suture line I feel a little bit of a shock. I can tell at times he’s been in some pain or a little freaked out, and that’s hard for me to swallow.

He sometimes really scares me with how much activity he wants to do (*child you just had major surgery calm yourself!*). The other day I noticed that he had started dripping blood, a pretty good amount, and he was anxious and running around while I was trying very hard to calm him down. I thought he might have torn it open or something so we ran up to the vet, with him bleeding and me panicking the whole way, but my vet said it’s just drainage and he didn’t rip any stitches open. She did give me some sedatives, because apparently not even a missing leg can slow him down.

And sometimes he really worries me with how little activity he wants to do. Frank is not, by nature, a very relaxed dog. Before all of this started it seemed like he was constantly in motion. It’s hard for me to watch him lay on the ground and not want to move.

On the whole though he’s been doing so incredibly well. Praying there won’t be any complications (*ahem, I’m looking at you infections*), because I don’t think my fragile heart could take it.

Sometimes I just stop and wonder how we got here. Not too long ago he was running around, an unstoppable force on four legs (and I really do mean unstoppable, this kid has got some muscles). How did this happen? Why? Sometimes I weep. I weep because I just can’t make sense of what happened to him. I try not to think about the four-legged life he might have had, but it’s still hard for me to imagine what his new three-legged life will be. People keep saying he’ll be happy and won’t even notice it’s gone, which I know is true but it’s hard at this point to visualize it as a reality for him. But we are already on this path, and all I can do is keep as much positivity as possible and be strong for my boy while he needs me.

PS. He’s supposed to get his stitches out on Friday if everything looks good!


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We’re Post!

May 2nd, 2017 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

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We are now officially post-surgery!!

His vet is keeping him overnight so he can keep getting the good stuff through an IV. She said the surgery went well, and he’s been sedated and resting since then. She said there’s some swelling but that it’s not unusual. I feel a little weird about him staying the night because if he’s there I can’t hover over him and make sure he’s doing okay every second. My head knows that’s the best place for him right now, but my heart says he should be with me. Hopefully I’ll get to bring him home tomorrow!

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Save the Date!

April 29th, 2017 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Tuesday is the day!

I thought at this point that I would be feeling anxious or worried, but honestly I’m actually excited for him to have this surgery. I’ve been seeing him hobble around on four legs for almost three months now, and at times it’s been really hard to watch. He needs this, and I know that his life will be so much better afterwards. Also it helps that I have so much confidence in his vet. She’s been with him through this whole thing, she knows every detail of his medical history, and I trust her completely. I know recovery won’t be easy and there will be difficult times for him (and me) ahead, but he is so resilient.

On Tuesday, Frank loses a leg. On Tuesday, Frank really starts his new story.

P.S. Do you have any pre-/post- surgery tips?

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An End and a Beginning

April 25th, 2017 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

 

Me + FrankFrank Duke is an (almost!) 8 month old yellow Labrador retriever who absolutely loves life. Frank is all things quintessential lab: energetic, crazy smart, playful, fun-loving, bold. He came to me in October of 2016 as a 7 week old puppy through an organization that trains service dogs at my university. He was doing so well in training, and had even earned his jacket and started attending classes with me during the spring semester, at only 4 months old! However, because of the nature of this site, you know his story was about to have a massive plot twist.

One February morning we were out playing fetch with sticks (his literal favorite thing ever), and he was perfectly fine, loving life. I had an exam so I left him in his kennel while I went to campus. When I came back and let him out he was limping. I didn’t see anything of concern when I examined his leg myself (although I am no veterinarian, I should’ve been able to see if something was visibly off). I found no wound, no swelling, no discoloration, it wasn’t even especially hot to the touch. Because he’s a service dog in training, he had been constantly monitored since he was a wee pupper. If he wasn’t under my, or an approved sitter’s, direct supervision, he was in his kennel. I couldn’t fathom when or how he could’ve injured himself without me knowing it.

I panicked and called my training supervisors to get their advice, and they said to wait and see if it got better or worse. By the end of the day he wasn’t putting any weight on that leg at all. The next morning there was no improvement, so we took him to an emergency vet clinic. The diagnosis they gave was panosteitis, which is analogous to growing pains. It usually is a sudden onset in rapidly growing larger breed puppies with no history of trauma. It is painful, but the dogs grow out of it and are usually just fine. We got him some pain meds and put him on bed rest.

A few days later, however, his leg started swelling up really quickly, which is definitely not supposed to happen with panosteitis. Again I panicked. We took him to his normal vet, who put him on antibiotics for what was very clearly a nasty infection. He was on the antibiotics for a couple days, but the swelling was just getting worse and was even spreading onto his abdomen. During this time he stopped eating and didn’t want to drink either, and we thought he wasn’t going to make it. We went back to the emergency clinic, and what they said wasn’t very encouraging. They had no idea what was going on. It wasn’t good, they needed more imaging.

After taking an ultrasound, they discovered that he had a puncture wound. It had healed on the surface so it couldn’t be found in a surface examination. He had a wicked infection and a nasty abscess the length of his entire femur. He had surgery to get the abscess removed, and was in a bandage (so his leg could drain) and on a whole slew of medications for several weeks. But I was told the outlook was good. As long as he didn’t have nerve damage (and his vet said she was fairly certain he didn’t), he would likely make a full recovery with some physical therapy. We had a bump in the road, but he was still on the path to becoming a service dog.

The day he got his bandage off I celebrated because knowing Frank I was sure it wouldn’t be long before he started using it again. But he didn’t. Weeks went by and he still wasn’t using it at all. I was doing exercises with him, stretches, massage therapy, everything we could think of to get him using it and still nothing. We started considering hydrotherapy but decided to have the vet look at him again to make sure there was nothing else going on.

A couple x-rays later, we found that he has osteomyelitis and a fracture. Osteomyelitis is inflammation of the bone because of an infection, causing unusual bone growth and significant pain. Because of the fracture, this infection could spread to other parts of his body. The options were a long, intensive, expensive medication regimen with no guarantee of success or amputation of the leg. I was told that, in his case, the best option would be amputation.

That was it. The end of his journey to be a working dog. The beginning of his journey as a tripawd pet.

So that is the long convoluted story that leads us here. Frank hasn’t used his leg in months. He is, in many respects, already a tripawd pup. He’s learned how to do a lot of things on three legs. Pretty soon here he’ll have the surgery to make it official.

If everything goes as planned, I will be keeping him as my pet. I’ve never owned an amputee dog before, so I will gladly take any advice or encouragement you’re able/willing to give. 🙂

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