'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

22 March 2013

Canine Broken Leg Care - Daddy I'm BORED!

When your dog is hobbled with a cast and orders to limit activity boredom will set in. Especially if he's young. Double that if he's a Lab. Triple that if he's a young Lab. Yes, Angus is a young Lab.

Angus was limited to no more than 3 gentle walks of 5 minutes maximum duration. That only leaves 1425 minutes in the day to fill. The first week that wasn't a huge problem. He was still in some pain and on lots of medications that tended to make him sleepy and a bit lethargic. After that first week he started feeling better, adjusted to the cast and gradually started getting some of his old energy back. Don't get me wrong here, it was gratifying and a relief to see but it did add a degree of difficulty to his care. Notably, how to entertain a 1 1/2 year old Lab with a broken leg and no good way to burn off his natural psychotic energy levels. There are a few things we did that helped.

Toys are a must and Angus has a conveniently placed toy box jammed to the brim. Care must be taken though, lest play times get out of hand. Lu and I ended up spending a lot of time on the floor engaged in gentle toy related play. That way we could keep him close and exercise maximum control of the situation.

Soft plushy toys are an Angus Achilles heel. He can't resist them. So the Gorilla was sacrificed to the cause because he'd lay down and tear at it trying to get all the stuffy goodness out. Weird dog but never look a gift horse in the mouth. Or a stuffed gorilla. How cute is that face?

One of his duck trainers was also sacrificed. He spent a lot of time chewing on it. To the point that it is now sans feet, butt and the head has been chewed into a rough plastic mess. We monitored to make sure he didn't swallow anything but frankly his system is so robust he could have eaten the thing in it's entirety and passed it back out without missing a beat. Still, something to watch. Hey, at this point it was anything to keep him occupied.

There are of course better chewing materials if you can interest him. Angus is a good chewer but for some inexplicable reason (I suspect Murphy's fine hand was at work here) he pretty much stopped chewing his rawhides during is convalescence. We made sure to keep at least one available at all times and he did chew occasionally.

Treats and rewarding desired behavior worked well for us. Care had to be taken lest his weight got out of hand but we doled them out as judiciously as we could. Oh, and Angus says thanks again to Alemaster for the Bonz. He loves them!

We had a good talk with our Vet. he recommended Benadryl. Apparently it has much the same effect on dogs as it does on us. Notably it takes the edge off and allows for more sleeping. We normally eschew purposely drugging a dog simply to keep them more calm but healing such a serious injury and the attendant surgery requires rest and sleep in abundance so we held our noses and kept the end goal in mind. .

Leash walks of no more than 5 minutes was the requirement but there's a lot of variety possible within those strictures. We changed the walk locations often and let him dither and check all the p-mail spots along the way. We took him to his favorite trails and walkie places. We encouraged human contact so he could make new friends. A funny thing happened along the way. Angus has become the neighborhood celebrity. People saw us walking him in his cast and couldn't resist asking about him. They'd drive by and honk and wave. They'd walk by or see us walking and stop to greet him and ask about his progress. It's been fun and helped Angus to while away his time and keep his walks interesting enough to be satisfying. Hey, he's cute, upbeat, friendly and walking happily on a bum leg with a cast. How irresistibly attractive can a dog be?

I'm of two minds about his future at this point. The Doc says full recovery with all that entails but I'm still a bit queasy about where to take his training after recovery. I may continue his hunt and field trial training where we left off but I may also decide to bag it and just go with basic obedience and chase the ball type stuff. Frankly, the main hang up may well be mine. I'm uncertain I am capable of sending him out into the field where holes, rocks, ditches and pitfalls will abound. At least not without gut wrenching fear. We're just going to have to see.

After 8 weeks we're finally out of the cast phase and on to rehab. I'll be posting about how we're handling that and a few thoughts on mind sets later but to hold you over here's an Angus picture and a large hint.

Thanks again for all the help, knowledge and support. Angus is getting better each and every day. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and from here it looks glorious.



Keads said...

Good news! Me, well I have run across events that have left me less than complete. I did not let that hamper me from doing them again!

Think catching bullet fragments with your face. Do what you love and do not deny Angus. Just my humble opinion.

Six said...

Thanks for the advice Kelly. I really do appreciate your thoughts. I want to restart his training but I'm going to have to get past my own fears. I think I'll get there but if so it'll be because I know Angus has to be what he is and it's my responsibility to take him there.

Murphy's Law said...

Start out easy. It'll come naturally to both of you to ramp things back up. I understand the apprehension because it's natural, but so is the drive of a Lab and the pride of a happy lab owner watching his dog excel. Just let Angus be Angus and you'll both be fine.

Paladin said...

I Second (third?) Keads and ML. You'll know what to do when the time comes. One thing at a time.

Interesting thing about Benadryl... Dogs can handle a MUCH higher dose of benedryl than humans can. Gunny gets allergy serum from the Vet every two weeks, but he also gets daily benedryl. 400 mg a day.

Yeah... that's not a typo. He gets 200 mg in the morning and another 200 in the evening. Normal human-sized benedryl pills that you buy at the store comes are 25 mg. You would think this much would make him a zombie, but it doesn't faze him one little bit.

He's every bit as energetic and alert as "normal". If we didn't use the benedryl and the allergy serum together, though, he would literally scratch himself to pieces.

Rev. Paul said...

Yes, what they've all said. Angus will be fine, and you'll get past the anxiety. Eventually. :)

Six said...

Thanks ML. I know you're right I just need to convince my brain. I think Angus is going to have the final say and I suspect that will be "Let's Go!!"

Thanks you Paladin. I had initial uncertainties about it but I have to admit it did work just well enough to take the edge off. Though we were limited to 50mg twice a day. Gunny is a big boy!

Thanks Rev. The onus is definitely on me now.

All you guys. I appreciate the support. It's exactly what I need to hear at this point.

RabidAlien said...

awesome! WElcome back, Angus!

Yeah, what Paladin said about the Benadryl. We have one beagle that will take a pill, and it'll knock him off his gourd for the rest of the day. The other beagle eats them like candy and it doesn't even faze her. Weird dogs.

Six said...

Thanks RabidAlien and thanks for the confirmation. We'll be keeping a bottle handy. Just in case :)

Andie said...

Late to the party, but such great news--congrats on the continued recovery! Always a tough place knowing what you do, but I have faith that you'll figure it out together... and I'll be thinking all good thoughts! :)

Monkeywrangler said...

So glad Angus is out of the cast and doing well! And so good of you to buy him a pool! Hehehe...Well, maybe in the hot summer, Angus will let you borrow the pool, if you promise not to shed in it! Honestly I am grateful that Ridgebacks are NOT water dogs! I think our above ground pool would not survive the dogs if they were.