Kaz's Walk, 4 Weeks Post Surgery

We are 4 weeks into Kaz's TPLO recovery and her limp/walk is looking great.  She is almost moving as well as she was before the surgery (just a slight limp).  We haven't been able to walk her any great distances, so I'm not sure what her walk will look like over an extended length of time, but I think it's looking pretty promising right now.  

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The Making of a Robo-Dog

These x-rays are from Kaz's TPLO surgery.  You can see the stifle (knee) area where the femur and tibia meet.  For this surgery, they cut through the tibia bone and rotated it, then secured the break with a metal plate and screws.  If you look closely, you can actually see the line where they cut the top of the tibia off and you can see how it's positioned (with a little overhanging) over the straight part of the tibia.

TPLO Post-Op Day 6

A week ago today, Kaz was under anesthesia and getting her tibia voluntarily broken by the surgeons at Northwest Vet Specialists.  We've had some rough days but her leg is significantly improving each day and I feel more and more confident about the decision to have this invasive surgery. Kaz seems to be in great spirits, all things considered.  She loves hanging out in the living room with us and she divides her time between chewing her bones, watching out the window, and sleeping.  Of course, she is always up for a belly rub.  She does seem to tire more quickly when chewing on her bone or sitting up to watch outside the window.  I'm so grateful she's always been a mellow dog because the next 5 weeks will be much easier to keep her cooped up inside.

Her favorite part about recovery is all the visitors she's been having.  BJ's brother, Jan, came into town for a couple of days and Kaz absolutely adored all the extra attention from him.

Kaz has also been spending some time with her favorite buddies, Clarence the BlowFish and Darryl the Hedgehog.

TPLO Post-Op Days 4-5

Wow.  Kaz's leg looks so much better.  Days 4 and 5 Post TPLO made us feel much more optimistic.  Even though we were reducing her heavy duty narcotics (Tramadol), she seemed to be in less pain.  The swelling and bruising had gone down drastically.  Her overall attitude seemed more normal.  She started chewing her Nylabone again (one of her favorite activities) and acted more social and interested in what BJ and I were doing.  She's had a better appetite and initiating her own potty breaks 2-3 times a day.  It is such a relief to visually see her improving.   Since the reduction of her pain pills, she seems to baby her bad leg a little more, but the vet reassures me that's a good thing, because she will be forced to be more cautious with that leg while it heals.

Still a lot of bruising and swelling on Day 4, but a noticeable difference from Day 3.

Look at the difference from Day 4 to Day 5.  Drastic reduction in bruising and swelling.  It almost looks like a completely new leg!  She's still favoring it, but using it and putting weight on it when eating and going outside.

I had to go back to work on Monday, so BJ was in charge of taking care of her for the weekdays.  He built her a couple walls for a pen.  Since Kaz is afraid of pretty much everything, they need to serve more as a boundary marker than an actual barrier.  She will most likely be too afraid to ever get too close to these walls.

Hopefully the healing keeps going as well as it has.  It's been 5 days since surgery and we only have 5 more weeks of recovery...

TPLO Post-Op Day 3

Day 3 was much easier.  We slept in and I finally got her feeding and pill intake on the right schedule to agree with her stomach.  She seemed a little more sore and slower moving around, but I think that was due to a little too much activity the previous day.  The swelling was the same, but her bruising looked much better.  Due to gravity and the extra activity, a large fluid sac has formed around her lower leg joint.  Dr. Lozier has assured me that this is normal since they inject a lot of fluids into the body when performing surgery.  He said that it's not painful at all and should decrease in size in a few days.

We spent the majority of the day watching a Heroes Season 2 Marathon with the occasional potty break.  She is a little resistant to go outside.  I think it's because we have to use the sling to help her get down the step and out the front door.  Once she's out there she stares desperately towards the sidewalk, the direction we take to go for our daily walks.  It will be another six weeks before we can go for a walk.  With a little persuasion she eventually sniffs around the yard and does her business with relative ease.

Concerns: I've been noticing a slight creaking noise when she gets up. It's the same noise my knees and hips make when I get up after sitting on the floor for a long time.  I'm not sure if it's her bad leg or her other leg, but it seems like this would be a normal noise for someone who's been laying down all day.

Her limp is a little worse today.  She just looks sore when walking today.  Yesterday she seemed to put a lot more weight on her bad leg and today there seemed to be more toe touching.

Reassurances: The swelling looks the same as yesterday. Since it's not more swollen than yesterday, I'm taking that as a good sign.

Dr. Lozier told me to be nervous if her bruising turned brighter red.  Today the bruising has gone from red to more purple.

There was no vomiting today with a better appetite.  Kaz ate half of her dry food breakfast and almost all of her dinner (I did have to entice her by adding my leftover avocado on top).  She peed in the morning and at noon.  With a pee and poop at night (slightly "loose" stool).  Ah, how we dog owners love talking about our pets bathroom functions...

BJ came home tonight and Kaz was so happy to see him.  It will be nice to have someone here to help share my stress and worry about her.

TPLO Post-Op Day 2

Sleep Over! We had an early start to the morning.  Neither one of us were sleeping all that well, I think Kaz was recognizing my stress as I was waking up every hour through the night to check on her.  Around 7am I brought her out for her first potty break of the day.  She immediately headed towards the sidewalk, ready to take our usual morning walk route.  It keeps surprising me how active she really is on her leg.  I reigned her back and she made a couple laps around our small yard before relieving herself (again, just a pee).

Concerns:

I made the mistake of feeding her all her medication before breakfast, then hand feeding her kibble afterward.  Sure enough, an hour later I was cleaning up her vomit on the bedroom floor.

Her leg was easily twice as swollen as the day before and had lots of splotchy red bruising.  Her seeping hole had stopped bleeding during the night, but it left a trail of dried blood too close to her incision for me to clean.  The whole leg looked pretty gnarly and throughout the day the ball of fluid/swelling around her lower joint continued to grow.

Trish had told me it was okay to let Kaz move around a little, but I'm nervous that I may have let her follow me around too much.  Since she is a guard dog, it's hard for her to let me out of her sight and her willingness to walk made me think it was okay for her.  "Following me around" meant walking the 8 feet from her bed in the living room to the entryway of our kitchen.  I don't think it was a ton of movement, but I think tomorrow I'll restrict her a little more.

The majority of the day was spent sharing her dog bed and watching movies on my laptop in the bedroom.  She is still a baby and wants to cuddle with me whenever she can, so even if I tried to move a couple feet away from her, she would get up and nuzzle her way back into my lap.

Kaz seems to be a little bit more finicky with her appetite since she's come back from the surgery.  I can tell she's hungry because she scarfs down any treat I give her.  But she has yet to eat a full serving of her usual dry kibble.  I have been wrapping her pills in slices of pastrami and she goes crazy over it.  Even when I add treats to her usual bowl of dry kibble, she'll only pick out the treats and the casualty kibble that gets stuck to her jowls.

Reassurance:

After talking to many experienced mothers and eventually the vet, it turned out all my concerns were just the result of an overly stressed-out and cautious dog owner.  The swelling and bruising are to be expected and Dr. Lozier told me I should really only be concerned if it keeps swelling after 4-5 days or if the red bruising gets bright red (instead of purple) and starts to ooze.   The vomitting was probably a result of giving her meds before letting some food settle in her belly.  If it continues, I'll bring her in.

Her personality hasn't changed at all.  She may be a little sleepier than usual, but she still paws at me to demand petting and she'll even try and roll over for a belly rub.  I'm feeling positive that she'll have a successfully recovery. I just need to stop worrying about how gnarly her leg looks.  I don't know how you real moms do it...

TPLO Post-Op Day 1

After an hour of discussing the surgery and recovery procedure, Trish (the Vet Tech) finally brought Kaz into the exam room.  Kaz came walking in slowly, with the help of a sling, but her tail was wagging and she looked alert and happy.  I was surprised at how mobile and aware she was.  Trish helped me walk her out and showed me how to use the sling and leash, while Kaz took her sweet time stopping to smell anything that gave a whiff of interest. The hardest part about Kaz's homecoming was getting her in and out of my Blazer.  107 pounds with a bum leg is hard to move around.  I had folded down all the seats and layed her big bed in the back to give her a big comfortable and flat area.  Trish helped me load her in by placing her front paws up on the bed and gently lifting her whole back end in.  We thought of a strategy to get her out of the car and my friends, Natalie and Janan, met me at home to execute it.  We dragged the bed to the back of the open tail gate and basically fork-lifted her out of the car with one person supporting her front half and one person supporting her back half.  Once she was out, she was ready to walk on her own right into the house.

Controlled and restricted movement is the most crucial part to Kaz's recovery, so we helped her walk into the house by keeping her on a short leash and using the sling as an added support for her back end.

Once inside she was showered by love and attention from her adoring fans.  Janan focused on massaging Kaz's temples, while Natalie took care of the kissing.

After a little too much loving, Kaz gave me the "that's enough" look.  We left her alone to get up and drink some water and eat some food.  The medication she's on must make her super thirsty, because she almost drank her entire bowl of water.  Then after a short potty break (just a pee), she was ready to settle in for the evening.

Kaz was really tired and rightfully so.  She was snoring in no time and that freed me up to inspect her leg a little more.

Swelling and brusing are to be expected for the first 4 days of surgery.  The vet had told me that Kaz was having a little bit of a seeping discharge from a small hole that was used as an exit point for fluids during the surgery.  She said that this would subside and I should just wipe up the discharge with a wet, clean washcloth.

I got a little nervous later in the night because it seemed to be "seeping" a little more than what I was comfortable with.  I called NWVS and was actually able to speak directly with Dr. Lozier, the surgeon.  He told me to wrap a clean terry cloth towel around her leg for the evening and we'd talk more about it in the morning.  He seemed confident that the bleeding would slow and come to a stop by the morning.

Dr. Lozier was right, the hole seemed to almost completely stop seeping within the next two hours.  So that was a relief.  We settled into our sleep-over positions in the living room, Kaz on her bed and me in my sleeping bag next to her, and said our goodnights.

Dr. Lozier's Diagnosis - Complete Cranial Cruciate Tear

Northwest Veterinary Specialist, Dr. Scott Lozier, was Kaz's surgeon for the TPLO.  With the help of his awesome assistant, Trish, they successfully completed Kaz's TPLO and expect a good to excellent recovery.  Here are the vets' notes from the surgery: Diagnosis: Complete tear of the left cranial cruciate ligament.

Kaz's Angry Ligaments

Procedures Performed: 11/12/09 Arthoscopic examination of the left stifle (knee) revealed severesynovitis and synovial proliferation.  There were mild osteophytes (athritis).  A complete tear of the cranial cruciate ligament was noted.  The radio frequency unit was used to ablate portions of the fat pads to improve visualization of the cruciate ligament and menisci and to remove the remnants of the cranial cruciate ligament.

The medial meniscus was damaged with the caudal horn folded forward.  The medial meniscus was treated by removing the caudal half.  The lateral meniscus appeared mildly frayed at the central margin.  The lateral meniscus was debrided with the radiofrequency.  The articulate cartilage appeared to have suffered grade I (mild fibrillation).  This injury was in the region of the tibial condyles.  The cranial aspect of the caudal cruciate ligament was moderately frayed at the cranial proximal lateral aspect.

Ligament Rupture - This is supposed to be one smooth band.

A left tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) was performed using a 27mm TPLO blade and a 74mm, 6 hole T Fixin plate.  Mild external tibial torsion and mild to moderate valgus bend alignement corrections were performed simultaneously with the TPLO.

Dr. Lozier's Comments: The procedure went well and I expect a good to excellent prognosis for marked improvement in comfort and function.  Kaz had femoral varus right at our "cut off" angle where we recommended femoral straightening.  While femosral osteotomy was offered, the owners declined.  Therefore some visual bowing can be expected and a mild internal stifle twist (pivot shift) may occur.  Attempts were made to prevent this by mildly external twisting the tibia and mildly bending the proximal tibia into valgus.

Winter Health & Safety Tips

Winter is upon us!  Here are some great tips from Wapiti Labs Inc on how you can make the most of the cold season with your dog.

It's Cold - If it's too cold for small children to go outside, it's also too cold for your pets. Because of their thick "coat" we sometimes forget that pets are relatively small animals and are very susceptible to frostbite and freezing. After all, no pets really love being outside in the cold. They would rather be with you where it's warm.

Exercise - Just because you are trapped indoors doesn't mean that you and your pet do not need adequate exercise. If it's not too cold, venture out for a brisk walk to get some fresh air. When it's just too chilly, play a few games with your pet, get your blood moving and have a little fun!

Accurate Nutrients - Remember that when we are out in colder weather and our bodies are moving, we need different nutrients and more calories; this is the same for pets. If your pets are outside a lot and are very active, they may need more food or additional supplementation to maintain their weight and energy. Make sure you are feeding high quality food and natural high quality supplements.

Wipe Your Paws - Sand, salt and snow will not only cause a mess on your floors, it can also be very irritating and drying to your pets' paws. Use a damp cloth to wipe their paws every time they come through the door.

Beware - Antifreeze may seem like a sweet decadent treat for animals, but it's very dangerous for pets. Make sure you put antifreeze and other chemicals along with cleaners in high out of reach places, away from children and pets.

Kaz's Limp, Pre-Surgery

These videos were taken earlier this week.  I wanted to have a reference to check on her progress as she recovers from the surgery.  As you can see, her limp isn't that bad, which is why it took us so long to decide to go with the surgery.  We have been limiting her activity to short 10 - 15 minute walks around the block and she usually seems to walk and run around 70 - 80%.  Occasionally, I'll treat her to a 15 minute romp in the park and after more running and jumping around, her limp will look much worse (like 50-60%).  The vet says that after the TPLO surgery, she should be back to operating around 85 - 95% and without pain.  I sure hope so... Kaz at walking speed.

Kaz at a bit of a trot.

In Preparation for the TPLO Surgery...

The preparation for Kaz's TPLO surgery has been the hardest part.   Endless hours have been spent worrying about her injury, researching it, and discussing alternatives.  In the end, we have decided that a TPLO surgery is the best solution to repair Kaz's torn cruciate ligament.  Hopefully our time spent preparing for this surgery will be beneficial to a successful recovery.

Mental Preparation

Courtney & Kaz - Camping
Courtney & Kaz - Camping

The mental preparation has been rough.  Starting four months ago when we first noticed her limp, it has been a constant battle with my brain to determine the best solution for her.

It began with denial, "It's just a slight limp, it'll go away on it's own." When the limp didn't improve after a few weeks I thought, "She probably just pulled a muscle."  We took her to the vet and after a horribly confusing conversation where I still didn't understand the severity of her injury; "She just needs a lot of rest and the prescription anti-inflammatory to heal her partially torn ligament."  It wasn't until I researched the injury on my own and talked to a second vet that I finally accepted that Kaz had torn her cruciate ligament and was going to need surgery to ever fully recover from the injury.

Supplements and Restricted Exercise

Kaz Smash!
Kaz Smash!

Torn cruciate ligaments can't grow back together and repair themselves.  Even with the help of supplements like glucosamine or elk velvet antler, the ligament can only scar over and learn to function around the injury.  My brain still had a tough time accepting this, so we decided to give Kaz a couple months restricting her movement and enhancing her diet with supplements to see if there would be any improvements.

We have been giving her Glucosamine, Wapiti Labs Natural Mobility Elk Velvet Antler powderWapiti Labs Elk Velvet Antler Strength tincture, and Rimmadyl (Carprofen) pain killers/anti-inflammatory.  She has had good days and bad days on this regiment, but it was heartbreaking to limit her to a one block walk a day when we knew she wanted to be doing more.

Surgery Consultation

Since Kaz is only 2 1/2 years old, we couldn't bear the thought of her living the rest of her life with so many restrictions and that was the deciding factor for the surgery. We met with Dr. Lozier at North West Veterinarian Specialists for a consultation on the surgery.  He thoroughly explained the differences between a ligament replacement, a Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA SURGERY), and the favored Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO SURGERY).

Dr. Lozier seemed very confident in the TPLO and his success rate with that particular surgery.  I remember telling BJ that I would hate to have him as a friend, but would love to have him as a vet.  He told us 85% of his patients come back with positive results from the surgery.  He stopped counting a few years ago when he had performed 2,000 TPLO surgeries, but he assumes he's completed close to 5,000 of them.  His experience and passionate belief in the success of the TPLO assured us that this was going to be the best solution for Kaz.

Kaz is scheduled for her surgery next Thursday, November 12th.  We will be dropping her off Wednesday, the night before, so she can be prepped for the procedure.  After the surgery, she is carefully monitored for a day and if everything looks right, we can pick her up on Friday.

Kaz Doesn't Do Mondays
Kaz Doesn't Do Mondays

Help turn Kaz into a Robo-Dog!

Kaz usually likes to spend her days curled up on the couch, demanding belly rubs. But occasionally, she gets a little feisty and needs to do some serious wilderness romping and dog clobbering. Recently, one of those "rare occasions" caused her to tear her cranial cruciate ligament (the dog version of our ACL). This injury is going to require a $4,000 TPLO surgery where they will cut and rotate her tibial bone to repair the torn ligament.

While the screws and plates used in the surgery will make Kaz a slightly bad-ass Robo-Dog, it will be an expensive, invasive and time-consuming process. We are asking our friends and family to help us out with this huge financial burden. Even the smallest donation can go a long ways!

As a token of our sincere gratitude, we will be sending all contributors an autographed photo of Kaz and we will (most likely) buy you a beer the next time we see you... Thank-you so much for your help!

To Donate:

  • Use PayPal to transfer us a donation:
  • or send us a check (addressed to either BJ or Courtney): 4514 SE 48th AVE Portland, OR 97206

Follow the latest news on Kaz's TPLO Surgery and Recovery here.

Meet Buddy!

Logan and Buddy Some of us have anxiously been awaiting the arrival of The Brummer's new goldendoodle puppy.  Well, the wait is finally over.  Here's a note from Lisa:

  • He's finally here and the boys decided that he is a "Buddy".   He's really a good dog (so far) and starting to adjust to his new family.   Nothing like starting over with potty training!  He doesn't like his crate and it was a very noisy night/morning.   Hopefully tonight will be easier. Love Lisa

Riley and Buddy (and cast)