Friday, March 28, 2008

Gladiator Paco

So you know when your dog gets really excited and kind of holds their ears in a really weird way? Okay, maybe your dog doesn't, but I know plenty of dogs who get really excited and then their ears do weird contortion things, shoot backwards, stand straight up, etc.

So night before last I let a friend crash in my room while I spent the night, um, elsewhere. I figured it was cool since I had drugged the dog at 9 and all my roommate had to do was provide one late night potty break.

So the next morning I return (friend still soundly sleeping in the bed) and Paco is so excited it was like I'd been gone a month. Limited in his expressions, I can tell the level of excitement as both of his ears are doing that weird contortion thing. Normally his ears shoot backwards at a weird angle but the cone is shooting them forward and I realize, "Hey, this is what Paco would look like with cropped ears."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is I think what they call a "Gladiator Cut".

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


So one of the great joys of the post-op dog (not) is the regular potty breaks. It's important the legs not bear much weight, even though they could. This brings us to the subjects of slings.

Here is the sling the hospital sent us home with:

As you can see it's pretty simple and hangs under the belly. It's easy to get on and off, you just have to slide it under the dog and hoist them up. The problem is that you have to be pretty quick at reading your dog and manipulating the sling or you'll get a sling full of pee (obviously more of a boy dog problem).

Yesterday we were elated to receive this cool gift from Hans at Lucy's Dog House:

As Paco is demonstrating in this shot, it's quite possible for a boy dog to urinate and wear the "Helping Hand" product at the same. And it's possible for them to do #2 easy enough. Check out the poop chute from the back:

(Yes, Paco is still peeing)

The only thing I don't like about the design is that the leg holes are snug. Not a bad thing later in the recovery process, but when the incisions are fresh I'd be concerned about irritating the wounds and causing the dog discomfort. And the fit is so precise it could be hard to get on while the dog is still fresh from surgery and really painful.

However, I think this is what we'll be using from here on out. As an added bonus, the silver finish makes Paco look part robot.

Thanks, Hans!

p.s. You might notice Paco's legs are in much better shape. . . Friday evening I started him on an oral homeopathic product called "Traumeel". The primary ingredient is arnica and there's lots of other good bone and muscle healing supplements. Within 12 hours the swelling was significantly decreased and 24 hours later the swelling and bruising were almost gone. No more cankles!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

-- luv, the world's gimpiest bunny

Friday, March 21, 2008


So Paco continues to make progress though the looks get more and more pathetic. . .

His appetite is great, he's going potty regularly, and he's getting a little more mobility in his legs. He's even got his own little habitat all set up (aka just about every inch of floor space in my room).

If he looks strange it's because he has peanut butter all over his face. The bruising and swelling in his legs is pretty bad so tonight we experiment with internal and external arnica.

In the meantime, the studio is awful empty without our little mascot around so we've replaced him. Meet Pandora (you might recognize her as Dogster's "Dog of the Year 2007"):

Her underbite reminds us of our little guy but the similarity is not so striking that it makes us feel guilty. In fact, Paco and Pandora are nothing alike. . . Pandora is much quieter, more polite, less intrusive. . . hey, maybe we should make this change permanent. . .

Thursday, March 20, 2008


So one of the more unpleasant side effects of the surgery is that Paco now has "cankles". His hocks and ankles are so swollen with fluid that there's almost no distinction where one part ends and the other begins. I kinda want to get him some control pantyhose.

Just look at the shame.

The only way to relieve the problem is to massage them by by hand frequently in an effort to redistribute the liquid. It feels a little strange to rub the squishy, hairless parts of my dog, but it also feels cool, like petting a Sphynx or Xoloixcuintle.

Massaging him this morning I remembered that, ironically, when Paco was a puppy, I used to tell people he was an Ixcuintle. It wasn't a far stretch, since he was missing a great deal of hair due to mange (mostly on his head in an awesome imitation of male pattern baldness). I started the lie one day after a five year old girl recoiled in fear after I informed her she was petting a "pit bull". I mean, how can you be scared of a 5 lb puppy, regardless of what it is? But she was.

From that day forward, for several months, we lived the lie. At the time I figured it was either my puppy's socialization or the truth, since it isn't easy for folks to give pit bulls a break (or even a chance, most of the time).

Eventually, though, I realized there was no shame in Paco being what he was. He couldn't help it more than I can help being Mexican-Irish. We turned a corner, decided to turn our handicap into our strength, and we haven't looked back (or lied) since.

Speaking of keeping it real, I wasn't going to include a picture of Paco's ham-hock-esque cankles but Paul insisted that we "keep it real." Here you go:

Seriously, doesn't it remind you of the pickled pigs feet in corner stores? Not attractive.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Homecoming

I called the vet this morning with fingers crossed Paco could come home today. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I got the news he was doing great and could go home as soon as noon. . . we made an appointment for noon.

The appointment was a review of all the drugs he now had to take as well as care instructions for the next few weeks. I don't now who was more excited, me or Paco. Though I vote Paco since he managed to pee all over his fleece sling the second we walked out the door. Fortunately, they supplied us with a new one.

He was also excited to be in the car again.

Part of it may have been the drugs. Just look at those eyes.

Thanks to the advice of seasoned post-op owners, I set up an x-pen as a recovery zone. Much easier than trying to cram a gimpy dog in a crate.

Then there was a quick trip to the store to pick up some essentials: canned pumpkin, yogurt, rice, and chicken. The post-op drugs are no joke. Check it:

(stop reading now if you have a queasy stomach or detest TMI)
The drugs can constipate a dog for days, so it's essential to have the right stuff on hand. We've been lucky enough to have some pretty awesome information and support come our way so we knew what to expect. And, I'm proud to report, Paco had a BM tonight. Woohoo!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The day after

So when I called to check on Paco this morning I got the somewhat bad news that they want to keep him overnight again for observation. He had been throwing up all morning and refusing food. Not so good.

I got there at the beginning of visiting hours today to check in on the little guy. He was happy to see me but was in obvious discomfort.

After talking to the staff for a bit, it sounded like Paco's throwing up might be more from excitement than anything else. They changed his iv, he threw up, and then he promptly got excited and threw up any time someone walked in the room. If you have the pleasure of knowing Paco, that makes sense.

He wasn't eating but the tech brought in some food to see if he'd take some from me. At first he was disinterested, but then he tried a bite. And then he cleaned his plate and begged for more.

Even though it's obvious he's in a lot of pain, he was really excited to see a familiar face. He was wagging his tail and whining until he eventually passed out, at which point he was escorted back to his kennel. The incisions look good and clean and the only thing I regret is not requesting an awesome Kid N Play-esque pattern in his ass.

Maybe when it grows in. . .

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sad Sack

Seriously, what else would you call this?

So the surgery went well and without complication. The surgeon called late this afternoon to report everything went smoothly and Paco was coming out of the anesthesia well. I almost cried I was so relieved.

I dropped by this evening to drop off his dinner (boneless, skinless raw chicken. . . yum!) and chatted with the staff about his progress. They reported he was really groggy and had a hard time settling but he was finally asleep. Since he needed to rest, I couldn't visit him but I talked the staff at Berkeley Dog and Cat into sneaking off a picture, result being the sad sack you see here.

I don't know what's stranger: the bones on the bandages or the fact that Paco looks like he's not wearing any pants.

They'll wake him at midnight to see if he'll eat. Tomorrow will determine whether or not he gets to come home or if he needs to stay another night for observation. I'm hoping for progress 'cause we want our boy home!

Paco goes under the knife

So today Paco got dropped off at the vet. On the way, I let him do his favorite thing in the world. . . ride on my lap.

I know, I know. Super unsafe, that's why he's not allowed to do it, but it's a leftover love of his from puppy-dom and I just couldn't say "no" today.

He *loves* going to the vet because he's convinced everyone behind the counter has a treat for him. Normally this is true, but not this morning since he had to fast for surgery. Still, he couldn't help trying. . .

It's like he's saying, "Hey there, big leprechaun, forget the gold, do you have a pot of chicken for me?"

He will be going into surgery soon. They'll call when he's out. It's a really nerve-wracking day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Move over, Lance. . .

Paco's in town!

So the good news is that we're halfway there. Thanks to everyone's generous donations we are well on our way to raising the money needed to get Paco's legs fixed.

The bilateral TPLO surgery is scheduled for this Monday. Neither we nor the vet saw any reason to put it off since Paco is in pain every day.

The bad news is that now we have to raise the remainder of the money in a hurry. As an added incentive, we've begun the "Save Paco" campaign. Now, any donation over $25 receives a complimentary PACO bracelet, ala Livestrong style but with the added bonus of being made of leather (which makes them *way* cooler). As before, any donation over $50 also receives a special gift and $200 or more earns you the Paco Collar of your choice.

The figure of $7,000 may seem pretty outrageous (and it makes us want to vomit a little bit) but if that's what it will cost to get Paco up and running again then it's worth it!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The verdict is in. . .

. . . Paco needs bilateral TPLO surgery. He's currently at the vet's office undergoing pre-surgical tests (x-rays, fitting the plate, etc). Fortunately, he loves going to the vet's office.

All it took was a quick walk down the hall for the doctor to make the recommendation. Fortunately, due to his size (47 lbs) he's a perfect candidate, though the surgery is fraught with more complications.

If you've ever wondered how a dog with two bum back legs moves, check out this clip (truly a cinematic masterpiece of staggering genius. . . no pun intended):

Because both of his back legs are equally bad, it almost looks like he's walking normally. However, if you watch carefully you can see that he's holding all of his weight in his front two legs. You can tell when he bobs forward and looks like he's gonna topple on his head, like those toys that keep going back for a drink of water.

We schedule surgery later today. . .

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's my dog in a box!

No, not like that. More like this:

Paco remains in good spirits although it's evident he's in a great deal of pain. Even though he has to use his back legs to balance while pottying, he cannot bear weight on either one. More and more it looks like well have to get a bilateral TPLO. The fear is that neither leg is strong enough to support a fraction of his weight during recovery. I guess we'll just do whatever the vet says on Monday.

Right now we're a little overwhelmed by everyone's generosity. The one shining light in this whole situation is seeing how many folks care about our little guy. When we see the doctor Monday we'll know exactly what we have in store, how much more we'll have to raise, and when we need it by.

It's a stressful and sad to see such an exuberant dog in such obvious discomfort, but knowing the situation is temporary makes it a little easier (although it's hard to convince him of that!).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The saga begins. . .

As much as we hate to admit it, our company muse, and reason for living, is getting older. This week Paco blew out one, and possibly both, of his ACLs.

Now, having weak knees is not a new thing for him. Two years ago he suffered a partial tear but, with rest, relaxation, and an improved diet he was able to make a 100% recovery. Unfortunately, this go-round the prognosis is worse than before and it looks like our little guy needs TPLO surgery. Currently he can't even stand on or use either of his back legs, has to spend 24 hours in the crate, and we have to carry him down to potty. We have a doctor's appointment first thing Monday morning (it's the earliest they could squeeze us in).

Now the hard part. . . coming up with the money. TPLO surgery is not cheap, running around $3500-$4500 a pop, so this is where you come in: if everyone who is touched by Paco donates what they can, then he'll be right as rain in no time.

Any little bit helps. Donations over $50 will receive a special gift and with a donation over $200 you get the Paco Collar of your choice!

We're also planning a benefit soon. . . details to follow.

Let's help get this boy fixed!