Keep safe!

Keep safe!
You are responsible for your own safety and that of your dog. The walks listed in this blog are not detailed guides. Plan your route! Click the landrover image for safety advice from Bowland Pennine MRT.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

8 weeks after cruciate surgery and coping better with a blind dog

We passed the 8 week milestone a few days ago.  His leg is still looking good. There is no limping and completely weight bearing.  Walks are no problem at all and most days over the past week or so we have had at least one half hour trip to the park, albeit on the lead.  As with last year he has a little more supervised access out of the pen but that's an entirely different issue in terms of his eyesight.  Similarly, stairs are hard work. I am still using the sling for extra support but also to help stop him from a fall should he miss a step.  Stair gates are a must!

Of course his vision hasn't miraculously come back so our main challenge, and his, has been learning to cope with that.  I made some cable tie whiskers to attach to his collar which have been really helpful round the house.  It just gives him a split second warning he is going to bump in to something! Outside on the lead is better, especially in a big field with nothing to bump in to!  He happily carries a rubber bone round the park and we play 'find it' using smell and touch rather than sight.  It is impressive how quickly he is adapting but still not the same as being able to run free and cope with uneven surfaces and steps. 

On Monday we go for a consultation at a specialist Opthalmic Vets in Penrith. Looking forward to seeing if we have any surgical options.

Monday, May 01, 2017

6 weeks after cruciate surgery and learning to cope with a blind dog

And it was all going so well.  Recovery from TTA surgery has been fantastic.  Our walks are now up to 25 minutes three times a day.  His leg looks really good, so good you'd be hard pressed to know he was operated on less than two months ago.  He has returned to his upstairs bed, although he is supported with a sling up and down stairs, and the descent is hard work and needs lots of support and care.  We have had three trips to the park this weekend, which is great.

On the down side he has clearly found it increasingly hard to see since his first surgery.  I had thought it general clumsiness from time to time but in the past two weeks his eyesight has declined rapidly, to the extent that he cannot see things right in from of him, not even the rubber stick he carries round or his food bowl.  It has been a shock to say the least. His eyesight hasn't been perfect in a while but the speed at which he has lost it completely took us by surprise.  We noticed he banged in to things a little a few weeks ago, and he bobbed his head around when in his pen as if trying to work out where we were.  By mid week last week he couldn't even find his bowl when I put it down in the kitchen, rather than in his pen.

It's possible of course that his eyesight has been far worse than we thought for a while.  From what I've read dogs adapt well, and it is not uncommon for owners to think it happened suddenly. Perhaps with being penned for around 8 weeks now he has lost his mental footprint of the downstairs of the house. Having said that, at the end of January he was happily playing with his ball on the beach and in February very much alert to his surroundings before he tore his cruciate.  He seems in reasonable spirits though, and very much enjoys his walks.

Will be considering whether cataract surgery is an option over the next few weeks.  Having just gained another new leg it seems so cruel that he has lost his sight.  Hopefully we will be able to get him seeing again, and if not then we will just all have to adjust.  Heartbreaking though.

Friday, April 14, 2017

4 weeks after cruciate surgery

Another milestone passed.  We made the trip back to Rutland Referrals yesterday for the 4 week post op x-Ray's.  The dog was happy enough to be back there, always a good sign, and dragged me enthusiastically to the waiting room before I handed him over for the day.

As I'd hoped everything looked good, with metalwork still where it should be and early signs of bone growth.  Hopefully that marks the end of our current round of visits to the vets.  Despite our insurance cover, given the cost sharing element with his age, it's still landed us with £1500 of vets fees this year. Not that I begrudge that, better than the £4000 or so it would have cost without cover and best of all our dog will hopefully get a few more good years of walks!

Our simple recovery plan means we can now do 3 walks a day of 15 minutes this week, then 5 minutes more each week after that.  He can also go up the stairs with help and supervision, which means our sleeping arrangements are going to be better again. No crying dog overnight I hope!

Still a long way to go of course, and the mats and pen will be down for another few months yet, but it does feel like he is well on the way to recovery and we can start thinking about some time away in summer, making up for our aborted trip in February.

Thinking of holidays, the lovely people at Cornish Gems are sending a hamper full of Cornish goodies as we won the March feedback prize draw.  Something to look forward to!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2 weeks after cruciate surgery

Two weeks gone and all is going well.  We went to our local vets today for the stitches to be removed.  The wound is healing well, just a little fluid near the top of the stitching so it's a bit puffy. No need for any antibiotics though and touch wood that will be our last visit to the vets before the 4 week checkup back at Rutland Referrals.

Recovery appears to be going well. He walks with hardly any limp and is completely weight bearing on his leg. It also looks far stronger now and I worry slightly less when we are out on our short lead walks.

The comfy cone is still on when unsupervised. We learned last time round that taking it off as soon as the stitches were out wasn't a good idea. We will be more cautious this time.

The only issue we have is a very spoiled dog who is so used to company after being with one of us forgetting much 24/7 for the past month.  Today we were both back at work, so he was alone for 3 hours or so. The pet cam showed at least an hour of barking and whining before he settled down.  Hopefully he will soon get used to being on his own a bit!

Hopefully there will be little more to post before our next milestone at 4 weeks post op. So far it seems much easier than last time. Hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One week after cruciate surgery

Well, that's a happily uneventful week, so different to last year. So good that there is not much to to be honest. He remains in his pen unless we go in to garden or for one of his short 10 minute walks. He is pretty needy and has learned quickly to whine and bark for attention, of which he gets lots!  He easts nornally, even taking his antibiotics without a struggle. His poo (dog owners understand the need to say this) has been regular and normal after the first 3 days. He sleeps well, even with his comfy cone on, and yesterday I gave him his usual bed back. It has soft sides so a little more tricky to climb on to.

Stitches look ok. No weeping from the wound. I just need to watch it though after the slight problem last year. He walks well, a slight limp sometimes, and bears weight on it almost all the time he is standing.

My stint of supervising comes to an end tomorrow and back to work on Friday. Happily my better half takes over for a few days so he will have had 2 weeks of full time company. We'll probably leave him for an hour or so over the weekend just to start getting him used to being on his own a little again. All being well, vets on Monday night to have the stitches out.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dog Cruciate Surgery - Day 3

We are now 3 days after Finney's cruciate surgery.  All good so far.  I dropped him off at Rutlamd Referrals in St Helens on Wednesday morning and he was operated on the same day.  Once again, with the TTA procedure which proved so good on his other leg last year.  Leaving him was, as with last year, all a bit of a blur, but he was happy to go off with the veterinary nurse, and we were equally happy to get the call late afternoon that he had been stable throughout, was waking up and would soon be back on the ward.

The next day I arranged to collect him late afternoon.  He hadn't been quite as good early morning in their view, very quiet, but that isn't unusual for him. It was obviously great to see him, although I think he was so high on Methadone he probably didn't really know what was going on, and we drove carefully back to Preston with him crying (as with last year) all the way.

What was so different to last year was the first night at home.  If you read the blog you'll know neither he or I got any real sleep that first night or the second.  He slept through until about 5am this time which was fantastic.  I think the difference was the Comfy Cone we bought last year.  It has made a massive difference.  He wears it happily night and day, unlike the standard plastic lampshades which must be so uncomfortable to wear.  I would recommend that any dog owner gets a Comfy Cone, before you need it!

He was pretty much bearing weight on his leg the day after surgery, although clearly uncomfortable.  Yesterday was a little better, and we managed 3 very short walks (about 5 minutes). Today, 3 days after surgery, he is better still and we did 10 minutes, which is what we will do 3 times a day for the next 4 weeks.

So, a much better experience for all of us so far, although it's early days yet!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Another torn cruciate

Those that have already experienced their dog tearing a cruciate will no doubt, like us, he acutely aware that there is a high probability the other leg will go within 18 months.  That said, as time goes on and you reach some kind of near normality with off lead walks, hills and beaches you do tend to think that it might not happen!

And so it was, near the start of a week long holiday in Cornwall, that we were strolling along the beach at Marazion when the dog jumped up at me and his leg gave way. Second time round you know in your heart what has happened, although you might give it a little time in the wildly optimistic hope it is just a sprain. At first he did appear to put a little weight on it, but by the next day his leg was clearly not working and the classic toe touching of a cruciate injury was obvious.

Our holiday home was a dream, with an amazing view over Porthtowan beach.  On the down side, there were 30 or so steps up to the car park; no place for an injured Sprimger!  We paid a visit to St Clement Vets in St Agnes, who were lovely and gave him some pain relief for the long trip home, before packing our bags and suffering the 7 hour trip back up North.

Our vets, Riverbank in Preston will no doubt be a second home in the coming weeks. Surgery is booked for Wednesday, back at Rutland House in St Helens.  The pen and mats are back down.  The prospect (certainty) of some sleepless nights is ahead.  All being well though we will be back out on enjoyable walks in the summer!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A wet stroll around Heaton Park

Not quite sure I made the right choice this afternoon, opting for a walk with the dog while my better half sampled the Golden Apple at Adam Reid's The French in Manchester. Normally we head west to Dunham Massey or Tatton Park whilst she has a day out in a Manchester but today, with heavy rain forecast, I decided to head north and pay a visit to Heaton Park.

The reviews of Heaton Park were good.  Trip Advisor is full of stories about ice cream, drinking tea by the lake and visiting the animal farm.  We will have to return to experience those things.  Our visit was pretty much as wet as it could be, with mainly hardy dog walkers, and (admirably) a cheerful saxophonist busker under his umbrella who told me he was avoiding doing the decorating. I didn't tell him I was avoiding a Michelin starred restaurant!

Although the weather was grim it wasn't hard to see why so many love Heaton Park.  We arrived at the North Car Park (parking was unexpectedly free) and wandered past a super looking kids play area to Heaton Hall. The Hall is a lovely grand building, with a wonderful view over the park and towards the Pennines.  It has of course seen better days but a restoration project is ongoing which I hope restores it to former glory.  Beyond the Hall lies huge open spaces where we had a game of fetch, before following the wide and well maintained footpaths down to the boating lake.  Not a boat in sight today but plenty of ducks and swans. I could imagine on a summers day it would be very different.

We passed an empty lakeside cafe and pretty much deserted funfair before heading back up the hill to the Hall and pleasure gardens and strolling rather aimlessly just soaking up the rain but also the views over the park.

I did actually enjoy our visit here and it's definitely somewhere I would return to. Given its urban setting it has a very rural feel. What surprised me most was that it was spotlessly clean (mud excepted).  Through our entire walk I saw no discarded poo bags, no dog dirt, no smashed glass and no rusting cans.  It's an absolute credit to Manchester City Council and I assume a small army of volunteers that it is kept this way.

Oh, and the Golden Apple was apparently wonderful, as was the rest of the meal. There's always a next time!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A perfect Lake District Daytrip

When mountains are off limits and a circuit of Wastwater is likely to leave your dog wasted it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good Lakeland day out. With me recovering from a severe dose of Man Flu and the dog now living a slightly more sedate lifestyle we still managed to get a lovely day out. 

My plan was to have his three walks as part of a 'big day out', picking out some of the best bits of what have in previous years been longer walks, and taking in a previously unvisited spot to end the day. 

We began at one of our favourite spots, Skelwith Bridge, in Langdale. Walking up the well made path towards Elterwater the views to the Pikes are stunning. Clouds covered the tops intermittently giving a tantalising glimpse of some of the high level paths we have trodden in years gone by. Elterwater itself glistened with the cold wind sending ripples across the surface, destroying any chance of reflection. We sat a while on the stony beach, always a special place, and the dog paddled happily, probably wishing I'd chuck his ball far in to the icy water for him to retrieve it. After half an hour or so of admiring one of the finest views in the lakes we retraced our steps to Chesters and set off for the relatively short trip to our second destination of the day. 

Our second stop, Tarn Hows, is a firm favourite with many. Once again the views are stunning, although by this time occasional drizzle passed overhead. Spirits were certainly not dampened as we strode out through the wooded waterside, passing fabulously shaggy cattle and admiring views across the Tarn and onwards to fellside crags. The circuit of Tarn Hows was complete in an hour or so, leaving time for a pasty, drink and of course some doggy treats whilst we watched the many families, and their dogs, head off on their own adventures. 

I contemplated a visit to Windermere but figured the dog was due his afternoon nap, so took a leisurely drive through Coniston and Ambleside before heading out of the lakes and back to the M6.  Our third walk was a new one for us. The new Heysham Link road means that Morecambe and surrounding area are more accessible than ever, and within 15 minutes of leaving the motorway we entered the hidden gem that is Heysham Village.  Don't be put off by the unattractive village car park. A short walk up the Main Street will lead you past 15th Century cottages, the small but beautiful National Trust Headland, Anglo Saxon Chapel and the always rewarding views across the Bay. We didn't have much time but loved it. Certainly a place to return to on a warm day, maybe when the village pub has completely what looks to be one of the most extensive refurbishments ever!

So, a lovely trip. 3 walks. No stiles. Lots of places to sit and watch the world go by and the odd place to let your dog run free thrown in. Who says senior years can't be exciting?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

A quick up and down on Pendle Hill

For the past few weekends I've admired Pendle Hill from afar, wondering if we would make it up there again. Our usual route from the nic of Pendle is at least 6 miles, albeit relatively gentle. I think that's pushing it for our dog these days so took a look at the map and decided to opt for the quick up and down from the road above Barley.

There was plenty of roadside parking and we followed the road past farms to the obvious diagonal track leading up to Big End. The path couldn't be better, stone paved all the way but steep! We gained height quickly, although not as quick as two chaps who said it took them 11 minutes from bottom to top! A short stroll with fantastic views led us to the summit. We descended the same way and the round trip for us was maybe 1.5 hours with plenty of stops. I imagine the walk is doable in an hour or so walking if you're quick. It's only a couple of miles, but steep!

It was wonderful to be back on the top of Pendle Hill after all this time but I think such a steep climb is now best left to the younger generation of dogs. For us, it's now time to start seeking out some flatter but inspiring walks. We will no doubt still manage the walk from the Nic on a leisurely day, but perhaps I need some nice gentle flatter walks on my list.

I'm thinking we must return to Dunsop Bridge and the road up the valley one day. Perhaps Stocks Reservoir is still an option on a fine leisurely day. I will probably also start to explore more of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. All ideas for more gentle but inspiring walks welcome.