Refusing The Cone of Shame

Can you believe it? I just got over one hospitalization from illness and Doc took me to the veterinarians office yesterday to have a scheduled outpatient surgery. I need a break and I am considering running away from home, but who would take me in if they make me wear a stupid cone around my head to keep me from bothering my stiches? It looks like some apparatus that an alien would use to communicate with the mother ship. But that is beside the point, so I will do my best to relay what I remember until they gave me anesthesia and I was knocked out and report on how I am just short of 24 hours after surgery.

Yesterday I had what is called a lipoma ( a benign fatty tumor) that was quite large removed from my chest, and two smaller ones removed from under my front leg . The one on my chest had grown larger than a tennis ball and was starting to stretch my skin and the doctor decided it was best to remove it to keep me comfortable into my old age. The other one was removed as a precaution as if it got larger it would impede me from walking. Doc told me these are things you just take care of and deal with as you age but I really don’t think of myself as old. They did throw in a teeth cleaning and a pedicure while I was there, all done while I was under anesthesia.

I was the last surgery of the day so I didn’t get out of recovery until about 6:30pm. When I finally woke up, I was still so groggy I didn’t really know where I was, so I fell back to sleep. At 7:30pm they told me Doc was here to pick me up. I was still not very steady on my feet so two nice Vet techs. helped me to the waiting room. I went right over to Doc and stayed by her side while they gave Doc the post surgery instructions. That is when they started taking about “the cone” that would go around my head. I thought I would die. What would my canine buddies in the neighborhood think? Talk about a way to loose street cred. I already looked like I had lost a fight with my chest all shaved and stitched up along with having a bandage wrapped around my leg. Luckily after some discussion it was decided that wearing a tee shirt to keep the incision covered would do, but I had to promise not to bother the stiches. I agreed happily. After going over the medication and activity restrictions, I was lifted into the back of the car and we went home.

After the neighbor helped Doc lift me out of the back of the car I was still having problems getting my sea legs because the drugs were still in my system. I felt like a young puppy tying to lean to walk again. Since I am not allowed to jump up on anything for about 14 days, including the bed, Doc slept on the couch in the family room with me so I wouldn’t feel so alone. Sometimes you just want your human mother close by and this was one of those times.

This morning I am starting to do a little better and I am keeping my eye on Doc as she works from home today. I know after this heals I will be glad those lipomas were removed. It’s easy to put off taking care of medical issues because of the discomfort or fear involved, but Doc says it’s better to address things than put them off until they become an emergency or so bad that nothing can be done. It also helps to have someone that supports you like Doc.

So after some thought today I have decided I don’t need to run away from home as I am getting very good care. Lets just hope all the medical issues are done for awhile because this dog needs a break.

Bothering Baby Bunnies

Now that I am healthy again, I am feeling good enough to engage in my normal activities. In fact, what I see as ‘normal” dog behavior got me in big trouble over the weekend and I am still on time out for what I did. Let me just start by saying that the story I am about to tell you, did not have a tragic ending.

Sunday was such a beautiful, sunny day that Doc decided we should spend most of it outside. Our next door neighbor was outside with his three children weeding the flower bed and Doc decided to lay on her lounge chair to do a little reading and get some sun. It started out to be a very pleasant day. As lunch time approached, we were both getting hungry, so Doc decided to go inside and heat up some soup and make a sandwich. I stayed outside until she called me in for lunch to play with the dogs and children next door for awhile., when suddenly some movement in the grass on the other side of yard caught this dogs attention. As any dog would do, I went over to investigate. Below the moving grass was a hole in the ground and I could see some little brown furry figures moving around. I must have startled them because just as I was about to stick my nose into the hole, the little creatures hopped out. Three baby bunnies were now hopping around in our yard.

Doc must have noticed that there was a commotion going on, because she came out on the back porch to investigate. When she saw those baby bunnies she started looking concerned and started flailing her arms around while she hollered at me to get in the house. I didn’t listen because I just knew she would take my new little friends away from me. I did what any dog would do, I picked up the one baby bunny nearest to me in my mouth and ran to the other end of the yard with it. The other bunnies had already hopped under the fence to freedom. Doc now looking panicked and yelled ” Drop that bunny Grover!” in such a loud, stern voice that the next door neighbor came over to see what was going on. Then they both started yelling at me to “drop it.” When Doc uses that strict voice with me I know I will be in trouble if I do not comply so I dropped the little thing on the grass. It just laid there for a minute probably stunned by all the activity when slowly it got up and started hopping away. Doc grabbed me by the collar, took me in the house and after putting on her garden gloves, she carefully picked up the baby bunny, checked it over and put it back in the nest and covered the hole with grass hoping the mother and its brothers and sisters would return after things had calmed down. All Doc could say to me when she came in the house was ” Grover, what is wrong with you, that thing is just a baby and too big for you to play with.” Not too long after the incident, Doc left and went to dinner with friends while I was left at home alone with my own thoughts.

At a little after 8pm, Doc returned, walked right past me without any acknowledgement and went in the back yard to check on the baby bunny. To her surprise it was gone along with its two siblings. As for me, I was not permitted in the back yard and was taken out in the front yard on a leash. Then we went to bed.

The next morning at about 7am, Doc went out back again to check on the rabbit nest. ” All the bunnies are gone Grover, you can go in the back yard now.” So the first thing I did was go over to the rabbit nest to see for myself. It made me sad that they left before I got to play with all of them. Later in the morning we saw the mother rabbit in the yard and knew the babies must be near by on the other side of the fence. ” Luckily they were old enough to leave the nest Grover.” ” I don’t understand what I did wrong? ” I said to Doc. ” Grover we have to respect nature and that means to leave it alone. I know you did not mean to hurt that baby but it was way to little for you to be carrying around and playing with, that’s why I got so upset, you could have really hurt that baby. So the next time mama bunny trusts us enough to build a nest in our yard we will leave the babies alone, understood?.” I nodded my head in agreement.

This morning before work, I went outside to check on that rabbit nest again hoping that by some chance they came back to visit. But it was still empty. It’s the circle of life Doc talks to me about and this time I learned my place in it, the hard way.

Doggy Rehab, No more Treats

My medical status has improved since being released from the Ohio State University Veterinary hospital last week and now I am rehabilitating at home and at work. They took good care of me, but I never want to go back to the hospital again. Once is enough in this dogs lifetime. Doc is a good caretaker and watches every thing I eat from the time It enters my mouth to the time it exits out the other end, she is alert to any abnormality in my system. Doc would have made a good CIA agent as she doesn’t miss a beat.

While in the hospital, they determined that I probably had a food allergy for the second time in my life and so we have changed my diet again. I guess I am more delicate than I realized and need to be pampered in every way, including my diet. So off to the pet store we went on Sunday to find a low fat dry food that did not have any lamb, chicken or byproducts. I am now eating a food with cod and vegetables with added probiotics. I also get a 1/2 teaspoon of Metamucil in my food for extra fiber like a little old dog. I know it sounds awful, but I actually like it. The bad thing is that Doc has sent out an all points bulletin to the staff where we work with strict orders not to feed me dog biscuits or food of any kind. Can you believe she did that? She also encouraged any staff to tell on me if they see me begging for treats from anyone. I tried to sneak in to one of the counselors office this morning to nab a donut while Doc was busy but he “ratted” me out. How do you like that? She’s getting my own co-workers to tattle on me.

Oh well. I have to say I am doing much better, so whatever she and the doctors decided it’s working and I’m back on the mend. Sometimes in life you need to make changes to support your health. I don’t know anyone that likes giving up the stuff they enjoy, but over time the rewards are better health and that’s always worth the effort.

Hospital Blues

Greetings from the critical care unit of The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital. Yup, I have been in the hospital since Sunday night and Danielle, the fourth year veterinary student that has been assigned to my case , was nice enough to let me borrow her lap top so I could start writing my blog while I am waiting for Doc to bust me out of this place. Its been quite the ordeal over the last few days and I wanted to let you know what happened.

It all started last Friday when I woke up and my tummy didn’t feel too good. I ate half of my breakfast and Doc took the rest to work with us for me to eat later, which I did. About mid morning, I got that sickening feeling in my stomach and knew breakfast was about to leave my tummy, so Doc quickly took me outside. I felt better for while, but by dinner time I could not even stand the smell of food and refused to eat. You all know that’s not like me at all and I am not ashamed to eat dirt, trash or even bunny poop which is probably the cause of these medical issues.

In the morning I was still on a hunger strike and my symptoms were getting worse, so we made a trip to my veterinarian. They gave me IV fluids, a shot to stop nausea and some other pills and sent me home. Doc watched me like a hawk all day and to tell you the truth I was glad, I was one sick puppy. Sunday morning, I was not doing any better, so off we went to OSU Urgent care where they gave me IV fluids again and more shots. I got concerned when I heard the vet talking to Doc about admitting me to the main hospital for supportive care. Doc opted to take me home, but over the course of a few hours I continued to decline and she took me to the hospital on Sunday night. Doc sure looked worried when we went inside to be admitted and that concerned me too but I knew she had me there because I needed more medical help than she could give me at home. After the doctors assessed me and said they would admit me, Doc kissed me on the forehead and they took me back to the critical care unit. I was scared.

The only thing that diverted my attention was that there were so many different kind of animals at this hospital that I almost forgot about my own discomfort. There were lots of dogs, cats, a sick bunny, an iguana and in the other section of the hospital I heard the veterinarians talking about a baby kangaroo that was being admitted from the Columbus Zoo. I am glad that I didn’t have to be roommates with that baby kangaroo, they kick too hard.

While I was there they drew lots of blood, gave me IV medication, took x rays and tried to figure out what was causing my problems. Doctors came around twice per day with their students to do rounds and talk about my case. I was glad to help future vets learn from my illness. By Monday night I was showing some improvement and eating again, so they called Doc and told her if I continued to improve that they would release me on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday Morning, I heard Dr. Chen, the head vet call Doc and tell her I had improved enough to go home in the afternoon. She was telling Doc all these medical terms that described my condition and how to take care of me. i didn’t care I just wanted to leave. If I hadn’t been so worn out I would have done a happy dance.

At about 2:30pm, they told me Doc was here and Dr. Chen took me in an exam room and there was Doc looking tired and concerned, but glad to see me. I was quiet while they talked, thinking about how wonderful it would be to sleep in my own bed again.

When we finally got home, all I did was sleep right beside Doc. I didn’t want to leave her side and she looked so relieved she didn’t leave my side either, we stuck together like glue. That’s what happens when you go through a medical crisis with someone you care about, its scary. Luckily this one had a happy ending.

Now it’s early Wednesday morning and I am finishing my blog at work. Can you believe Doc made me come to work after just getting out of the hospital? She told me I needed to work to earn money to pay for the hospital bills. Can you believe that? Anyway its nice for things to start feeling normal again and I am on the mend.

Doc and I both want to thank The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital and all the nice staff that nursed me back to health , all of the staff and clients at CompDrug, friends, family and those that read my blog that supported us through this. It just goes to show you how love and support can get you through the scariest times in your life.

When Problems Become Opportunities

The Memorial Day weekend was busy, but we didn’t forget to take the opportunity to be thankful for all the veterans. Doc placed a picture of her dad in his army uniform where everyone in the family could see it when they came over for a cook out. This gave everyone a chance to share some memories to pass on to the little ones in the family that never knew their great-grandfather. Family stories are important.

No family is perfect and at times there are difficulties that face one member or the whole family, even Doc’s. That also becomes part of the families story. Doc says that difficulties can be opportunities to build strength and growth. During difficult times you hope that families can get closer and depend on each other, but sadly that doesn’t always happen for everyone and they need to look outside the family for support. Sometimes a new support system can be an opportunity for growth as well.

Then there are those humans that don’t want the opportunity to get stronger because that means that the situation needs to change and you have choices to make. You can either get stuck in fear or tap into your strength and muster up your courage to change. Albert Einstein once said that ” opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Any kind of change is work, believe me I know because Doc is always trying to get me to modify my behaviors and I don’t like that at all but I trust that she has my best interests at heart.

I guess its all the way you look at your life’s path and what decisions you are willing to make to either move forward or stay stuck when a problem arises. Blaming your problems on others never helps, you have to take responsibility for your own choices. So what problem are you facing right now that you can turn into an opportunity?

The Challenge of Aging Gracefully

On Monday, Doc took me to see Dr. Balazs for my yearly wellness check to see if I am in good enough shape to continue working as a therapy dog. Turns out I am. Since I will be turning 10 in July and considered a senior dog, she really gave me the once over. I was there for well over an hour before all the tests, procedures and the consultation was done and to tell you the truth it wore me out. It was also kind of annoying when the doctor kept talking to Doc about helping me stay healthy now that I am a getting older and that it would; entail some changes I don’t like.

It started with the physical exam, you know the normal stuff, like listening to my heart, lungs, looking at my teeth, how shiny my coat is and she even looked in my eyes. They then drew blood to test for heart worm and gave me two shots that I did not like, but I tolerated it. After all, they gave me treats for being such a good boy. Then Dr. Balazs came back in to talk about the importance of keeping my weight healthy. She told Doc without even asking me, to substitute some healthier snacks for the Milkbones. Although I do like strawberries and blueberries, lets face it, nothing is much better than a Milkbone, so I didn’t like hearing that. She said keeping my weight down will help to keep my hips from hurting as I age. The she and Doc talked about the large mass on my chest.

You see, certain dog breeds get fatty masses called lipoma’s. I have a few here and there but one on my chest just keeps growing and now it is about as large as a tennis ball. It doesn’t hurt, it’s not cancerous, but because it continues to grow, the doctor thinks its time to have it surgically removed. Doc agreed and then asked so many questions about the surgery and recovery time I could hardly keep track. It’s always good to have someone you love advocating for you and I am lucky to have her by my side. The doctor also said they will do a dental cleaning during the procedure to keep my teeth white just like all the celebrities you see on TV. So they scheduled my surgery and then we got in the car to go home.

To say I was exhausted after all of that poking, prodding and talking was an understatement. Doc must have felt sorry for me because on the way home she turned into my favorite drive through at Dairy Queen and got me pup cup. I didn’t dare remind her that the doctor had just talked to us about keeping my weight down. Sometimes you need a treat after a tough day.

Moving forward, I will continue working up until my surgery date at the end of June and really try to change the things that the doctor talked to Doc about. After all, it really is about quality of life, even for this pup.

Planting Seeds, One at a Time

In the spring, Doc loves to get out in the yard and work in the flower beds planting, cleaning and mulching. Doc has an understanding of what plants will help to nourish the birds, the bees and all the little critters in the environment. With that in mind, the other day when I was sitting on the back porch taking in the glorious scent of our lilac bush, I noticed the bees pollinating the flowers and it dawned on me the importance of planting seeds. When we plant seeds we not only end up nourishing what is in our own yard, but it ends up spreading to the gardens around us as well because we are all connected. I think this applies to the seeds we plant in our own lives as well.

As a therapy dog I have observed that humans either choose a path of planting good seeds by living and doing things that are a blessing to others, or they plant seeds trying only to reap the harvest for themselves. If you reap everything for yourself, it may lead to a temporary feeling of happiness, but in the end you have a bounty and no one to share it with and you are left feeling empty. Then you get caught in the rut of trying to fill that void with more and more stuff, but it never works. What a sad life.

You know it’s funny, most of the good humans I know aren’t even aware of all the seeds that they plant and the ripple affect that they have on others. They just go through life with the daily intention of being kind and helpful and remain humble about the many seeds they plant through out their lives. They never win any awards, they aren’t rich, you don’t read about them in social media or in the press but they make an impact in others lives and they are rich beyond belief because being kind and giving always leaves you feeling full. Doc often tells people struggling with emptiness, ” If you want to be happy in life, be of service to others.”

So go forth today and plant your seeds. Don’t let others try to discourage you or tell you that one person can’t make that big of a difference in the world. You never know until you try. Remember, out of one small oak seedling a forest grew.

” They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” Dinos Christianopoulos

It’s Ok To Ask for Help

In case you weren’t aware, May is Mental Health awareness month. This is the month put aside to raise awareness about mental illness, fight the stigma and advocate for more services. Since the pandemic, there has been a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. The pandemic was tough on all of us, even this pooch, because everything that had been normal in our daily lives suddenly changed and we are still adapting to change.

When the numbers for COVID rose in 2020, we were called into a meeting at work to talk about sending us home to work remotely. There would be no more in person counseling and all sessions would be done through tele health. At the time, no one could have predicted how long the virus would last. As the days drug on to weeks and then months, we soon found ourselves on lock down and only essential businesses were open. At first it was fun being home with Doc all the time but soon the fun turned to boredom and then I just fell into a funk. I didn’t know what to do with myself all day. After all, I had been training and working as a therapy dog since I was 5 months old. I missed my co-workers, the patients and as winter set in, it didn’t feel safe to spend time with family and friends indoors. We all became more and more isolated.

Doc was the first one to notice that I wasn’t acting like my regular cheerful self, and to be honest, Doc was having problems adjusting as well. Both of us trying to serve the patients the best we could by being supportive from our home was a challenge but we all did the best that we could. One day Doc sat down beside me on the couch and asked me, ” Are you ok Grover? I notice you have been sleeping more and that you haven’t even wanted any treats. Are you feeling depressed?” As I moved over and placed my head in her lap for comfort, she gently stroked my head and I admitted to her that I was feeling down. ” It’s ok Grover, she said, I know that it has been tough for you, but I am here for you.” Just feeling Doc’ s support and being able to talk about it was such a relief. I had not wanted to burden her with my sadness, but she told me it is so important to talk to someone you trust when you feel down.

After that day we decided we needed to figure out a better way to move forward, so we decided that we would take a walk everyday down to the park. And you know what, being out in nature and getting some fresh air helped and I started feeling a little better. It still wasn’t the same, but my mood improved and then when the stores opened back up in our suburb, the owners asked Doc to bring me in to visit and that gave me back my sense of purpose.

Today we are back at work seeing patients three days per week and able to visit family and friends, so things are better and I am my happy tail wagging self again. But lets face it, these are some tough times we are still working through, but I learned that sometimes even the helpers need help and that its ok to ask. I understand that people can feel embarrassed to ask for help because of the stigma attached, but mental illness, just like any other medical issue should be treated, not shamed.

If you or anyone you know needs help with a mental health issue, please contact the National Alliance of Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-6264 or SAMHSA at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov for a referral in your area.

Looking Beyond the Weeds

The other night when I was in the field in back of our house, I was taken in by how pretty all the yellow dandelions and purple violets looked against the back drop of the green grass while the setting sun cast its golden glow. It reminded me of a story Doc had told me a few years back about when she was a child and how children see things so much more clearly than adults.

Doc grew up in the country on three acres and their house was surrounded on three sides by a beef cattle and horse farm. Back in those days no one put chemicals on their laws or fields, so the farm land where the animals grazed were filled with wildflowers native to Ohio. In the summer, Doc would pick the wildflowers that she found and bring them to her mother as a present. She said she especially liked the bright yellow color of the dandelions, thinking they were the most beautiful flower of them all. Her mother always acted pleased when she got the flower arrangements and then put them in a vase, placing them in the middle of the dining table like they were an expensive bouquet from the florist.

It wasn’t until years later that Doc found out the flowers she considered so beautiful were considered weeds and today are the blight of proud suburban lawn owners who spray to keep their lawns free of them. When Doc and I take our daily walks, all we see are laws of perfectly manicured green, not one wildflower in sight. The funny thing is that even though people now consider dandelions as weeds, they really are not. Dandelions are part of the daisy family, are edible, have health benefits and are a rich source of nectar for bees. It just goes to show you how negative rumors can be started and believed, not only about people, but plants as well.

This is a perfect example of why Doc always reminds me to look below the surface and get the facts before making a judgement about anything. It’s important not to believe rumors or opinions just because someone told you what they think is true, or we could miss out on the truth and the beauty below the surface. As a child, Doc only saw the beauty of the dandelions that she picked for her mother so long ago. Maybe we all need to embrace the innocence of childhood once again before we had any preconceived ideas about life.

” Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye-it is very beautiful.” Kailash Satyarthi

I Hate Spring Cleaning

Every spring as soon as the weather gets warm, Doc starts on a cleaning frenzy. First she makes a list of everything needing done, then goes to the garden store for mulch and spring flowers, starts cleaning off the porch and the outdoor furniture, edges and cleans the flower beds and cleans the winter scum off the windows. I get tired just watching her. I should have know when the weatherman said that the weekend would be in the 80’s that I would be the next thing on the list to be cleaned, but somehow I am always surprised, and not in a good way.

It’s rather humiliating to be hosed down in the front driveway for all the neighbors and my doggy friends to see. Even Mason , the boy next door looked like he felt sorry for me as he watched the whole ordeal while he played basketball in the driveway. Don’t worry, I sought revenge. When the bath was over, what did I do but find the wettest and muddiest spot in the yard to park my behind. ” That will show her. ” I said out loud to myself. But that only led to Doc looking at me with exasperation and hosing me down again. I growled and grumbled under my breath, ” Curses, foiled again!” ” I heard that!” Doc said to me. ” Why do you always act like I’m trying to kill you? It’s Just a bath. No one likes a stinky dog accept other stinky dogs. In this house, when we stink, we bath so we can stay acceptable in decent society.” A very dramatic diatribe in response to my complaints I thought to myself.

After I got over my hissy fit from the bath we moved on to other things that needed done. While I was helping Doc by putting my doggy toys away in the basket, I thought about how sometimes life is a balance of doing things you need to do like chores, things you hate to do, like baths and then rewarding yourself with something fun, whatever that may be. Balance is important for a happy and healthy life. So at the end of our day of chores and baths, we unplugged and it was warm enough to spend a glorious evening on the back porch watching the sun set and remembering to count our blessings. A perfect ending that took my mind off of a not so perfect day.