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.

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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Neosporosis - Did you know the consequences of not picking up in the countryside?

A short video that gets the message across, even if not in English. If any creative types could do an English version I'm sure it would be helpful. Watch and learn. You could prevent a calf from being aborted and a dairy herd from devastation.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

10 years of blogging - back to where it started

I love it when the clocks go back. Most people probably dream of their extra hour in bed, curled up and warm as toast, thinking of dark nights ahead. For me, and I expect for millions of dog owners around the world, it's a time when it becomes most obvious that our world, revolving around GMT and BST, is somewhat artificial.  The dog never realises the clocks have gone back, so we tend to get woken at the usual time, it's just that the usual time tends to be about 5am GMT.

That extra hour is precious, a chance to get up and out early, for another Autumn walk together.  And so it was, 10 years after our first visit to Malham together, that we headed off to retrace our steps on the first walk that I ever blogged.

10 years ago I remember it was still dark when we reached the National Park Visitor Cemtre. We were a little later this time, but it was still quiet.  We had the walk to Malham Cove pretty much to ourselves before heading up the steep path to the Limestone Pavement.  This was probably the toughest climb since our dog's cruciate operation earlier in the year, but he coped fine, dragging me onwards and upwards, with a few enforced rest stops whilst I enjoyed the magnificent views.

Soon we were trecking on good paths towards Malham Tarn.  Our route avoided the busy track, heading straight up from the top of Malham Cove.  This bought us some solitude, but also several high stiles, involving lifting the dog some 5 feet in the air, squeezing past whilst both perched on the small wooden platform, and a further lift down to solid ground.  As expected, I was covered in mid by the time we reached Malham Tarn and a stop for something to eat.

As with our last visit we avoided the descent down Gordale Scar by talking the road for a mile or so back towards Malham.  This time though we found a path leading to the foot of the scar, before passing the picturesque Janet's Foss.

A gentle stroll led us back to the car park in Malham, happy that we had managed to celebrate our 10th anniversary walk in style.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dog friendly Cornwall

Cornwall is great for dogs and our holiday destination of choice. Five months after our springer's cruciate surgery and pretty much free of exercise restrictions we headed off back to our favourite county for a couple of weeks of sun, sea and sand.

 On this occasion we had a two centre holiday. Our first week was at Westaway Cottage in Charlestown. This lovely cottage is right in the heart of Charlestown, two minutes walk from the harbour, made famous as a filming location for Poldark and (for those who are older) The Eagle Has Landed. The cottage was well kitted out and also has the benefit of an enclosed garden. It was a real sun trap in the afternoon so we enjoyed a few afternoons sat out with a glass of wine whilst the dog sunbathed on the grass.

Early morning dog walks here are lovely. We didn't go too far, either up the cliff path towards Carlyon Bay or just wandered round the harbour itself, watching the sun rise. Sadly the beaches are off limits for dogs but it didn't spoil our time. There are plenty of places, such as the wonderful Porthluney Beach at Caerhayes, which welcome dogs all year round.

If you get the right weather there are several good places to eat with your dog in Charlestown. Our favourite this time was sat out in the garden at Charlie's Boathouse. Dining here is relaxed with an good menu of beautifully presented classic dishes, a wide choice of beers and wines as well as cocktails. Sadly dogs are not allowed inside, so if the weather is less kind the Rashleigh, opposite, is the better option. The food here is also very good!

Our second week was pretty amazing, in the new Dutch Barn at Pencuke Farm Holidays in North Cornwall, not far from Boscastle. This huge barn can be configured for couples or those in larger family groups. As there were only two of us an the dog we rattled around the huge open plan living area a little, but it was wonderful. Huge sliding doors open out on to a large decking area, complete with hot tub and a grass 'terrace'. The dog was very much at home here and we loved wandering around the farm as our morning walk. Best of all, there are plenty of dog friendly beaches within a short drive, so he had plenty of opportunity to run free, making the most of his new titanium addition to his leg. Our accommodation was booked through Cornwalls Cottages.

Hard to imagine how lame he was only a few months ago!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

4 months after TTA surgery

Every day gets better. Running practice now in full swing. Not overdoing it and no chasing balls or playing with other dogs as I don't want to put too much strain on any legs!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Is pet insurance worth it?

Over the life of our pet springer spaniel I estimate I've spent around £3000 on pet insurance.  This year, following his cruciate surgery, it's certainly made me reflect on the value of insurance to date and also on the value of future cover given the premiums, for a 10 year old dog, have risen to over £50 a month. 

On balance, insurance cover has been good for us. In his lifetime he has has had an operation to remove some benign lumps, various biopsies for a skin problem, antibiotics and of course his latest surgery, which for diagnosis and treatment cost the best part of £4000. 

Good insurance is pretty much a no brainier when put in that context!

There are 3 basic types of policy:

  1. Life cover– generally covers your dog for any illness throughout its life, up to a ‘maximum’ annual cost and you can claim to that amount every year. This is great for pets with ongoing conditions.
  2. Per condition –this provides cover ‘for life’ for each condition but only to a maximum total amount whenever that is reached.
  3. Annual cover– this will cover a ‘condition’ for the year in which first claimed but after that will be excluded from the policy
From our experience 'life cover' may be the most expensive but it has provided the best value. Taking his cruciate problem as an example, our life cover means that if his other leg were to go, we would still be covered, up to an annual limit. Without that cover, even though the problem was with a different leg, it would be considered part of the same condition and we would not be able to claim anything further. 

There are plenty of sites out there giving advice on the best insurance. Remember that as your dog gets older you are more likely to need to claim, so ask about policies which cover older dogs. Ours for example has a cost sharing element so in addition to our excess we pay 1/3 of the cost. If the cost of treatment runs in to thousands, you will still end up with a big bill, but it may make treatment which would otherwise be unaffordable  an option.

Owning a dog is certainly not cheap!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Getting back to good - 14 weeks after TTA surgery

It's been a good few weeks. We are finally starting to rediscover some of our old haunts. Of course we take it easy, a couple of miles is plenty, and he has only been off lead a couple of times. 

A day out in Cheshire meant we had an hour to two in Dunham Massey, always a lovely place to visit. The dogs on leads rule suits us fine!

After Dunham Massey we managed a short walk along Alderley Edge. It was great to see a view after months of short road walks. 

The highlight though has been a walk from Brinscall up the steep hill and path towards Great Hill.  Whilst we are a way off reaching the top we made one of our favourite moorland paths. Onwards and upwards!

Now 14 weeks post op he is getting back to good. The warning signs are there though. I made the mistake of letting him run free in the garden without a warmup a few days ago. After just 5 seconds he pulled up, raised his paw and lay down. Happily he was fine after a few minutes but the advice I read repeatedly that it takes 6 months or so for full recovery is probably good advice to listen to. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

12 weeks after TTA surgery

So today we hit the 12 week milestone. As we walk down the road it's hard to imagine that only a few months ago it was a struggle for him to walk for more than a few minutes, that stepping off a curb felt like a huge risk and that we were watching him like a hawk for all our waking hours. 

Plenty of people said to me back then that their dog had had cruciate surgery and made a good recovery. At the time though it feels pretty all consuming, to the extent that you wonder whether things will ever be the same again. It certainly makes you appreciate every walk you take!

Walking is now no issue. We can do a few miles no problem and he would happily walk further. He has the run of the house, although the sofa and bed are still out of bounds unsupervised. He's off lead in the garden without worry and I don't think it will be long before he's off lead on the park. Maybe he is past his ball chasing days though. At 10 years old I don't want the other cruciate going because he has overdone it too soon!

I'd say the operation has been well worth it. It's been a hard few months but we've got our boy back, and I suspect he feels that he's got his life back. 

Now it's just a case of continuing what we're doing to build strength. I'm sure we'll be back on the moors soon, albeit on easy going paths. Summer should be good!  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

11 weeks after TTA surgery - The Big Bed

Tomorrow marks 11 weeks since the dog had his cruciate operation. Looking back on my posts it's amazing how much he has come on, particularly in the past 3 weeks or so. 

The weekend saw a few trips out, along the banks of the Ribble and Docks and also what was probably our longest walk to date, a couple of miles around Mere Sands Wood. 

Trips to our local park on the flexi-lead have been good. He has started to look more cheerful being back on his old patch without such tight control and we've had a few short periods of jogging. It does feel a bit like teaching him to run after all this time but I'm happy with a slow and relatively cautious approach. In a few weeks time he might be ready to be let off lead if there are no boisterous dogs around. 

This morning saw another milestone.  As he is getting better we have become a bit more relaxed about him roaming round the house. He hasnt had free access to stairs but this morning we forgot to shut the kitchen door whilst getting ready for work. When we went in to our bedroom guess what we found!

How he managed to jump on the bed I don't know but it appears no harm was done. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Very Dog Friendly Holiday in North Yorkshire

When our dog was booked in for cruciate surgery a secondary casualty was our planned holiday in Cornwall in early June. We decided that even if recovery was going well, the six hour plus trip in the car wasn't a good idea for him and that as most of the places we like to visit involve a reasonable amount of walking we'd see how recovery was going and, all being well, book somewhere closer to home. So it was then that we took our first (and it certainly won't be the last) trip to North Yorkshire. 

It was a relatively quiet trip of course, ideal for an older or recovering dog! Here's a list of things we did which I can recommend for dog friendliness!

1. Ladycross Plantation Caravan Park and Lodges

A wonderful site on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors a few miles from Whitby. We stayed in one of the lodges, which were stunning. The site has a strict dogs on leads policy, not least to safeguard their free range chickens, but is very welcoming and a woodland footpath of a mile or so skirts the edge of the site. A great location for a holiday base. 

2. Fish and Chips and a stroll round Whitby

There were plenty of dogs in tow around Whitby. We weren't blessed with great weather but still enjoyed a few visits and sitting on the harbourside watching the world go by. Plenty of dog friendly pubs and cafes although we stuck with fish and chips - four times in the week. Trenchers were our favourite. Hadleys were good but a bit more greasy - good location for a walk up to the Abbey though. The famous Magpie was a bit of a disappointment given the hype. 

3. Robin Hoods Bay

The steep hill is worth it. At the bottom you'll find the village and best of all a dog friendly beach. Sadly the beach was off limits to our recovering dog (he was just too excited) but the hill was perfect for some strength training!

4. Staithes

A beautiful place. Less of a hike than Robin Hoods Bay. Although the tide was in when we visited there was still a small dog friendly beach to be found. A place I want to return to one day!

5. Falling Foss Waterfall and Tea Garden

A magical place. Heavenly walks in the woods and a great tea garden in a great setting. I'd say this is a must for anyone with a dog!

6. The Postgate Inn Egton Bridge

Fabulous pub. Dogs welcome in the bar. Booking advised. Amazing food!

Friday, June 24, 2016

10 weeks after TTA surgery

10 weeks after TTA surgery and all appears to be going well. After last weeks holiday it's been back to a quieter week but we have been to the park a couple of times, on the lead of course, and today walked round Mere Sands Wood. Today is probably the longest walk we have done to date, about 2 miles, although all very flat. 

We've incorporated a few short hills in to walks this week, although there aren't many steep hills on our doorstep. Jogging 20 yards or so has been largely unsuccessful as the dog can't be bothered to run unless there's something worth running for. When I try to encourage him with a stick for example he just gets too excited and jumps, which isn't what I want. I'll have to try a new tactic this weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

9 weeks after TTA surgery

What a difference a week makes! We had a few days away in North Yorkshire this week. Not too far from home so we decided the trip in the car would be fine for the dog and it would be good to get a bit of exercise. 

Each morning we did a mile or so through the woods and he was quite happy wandering around Whitby. Whilst we didn't do the Abbey Steps we did park up at the top to take a look. 

Most challenging was the walk down to Robin Hoods Bay and back. If you've not done it, it's a very very steep hill. We also wandered down to the beach at Staithes. Again, a bit of a hill but he managed both fine, we just took it slow and steady. 

Still no off lead outside the house/garden, but that will come. Next week I might introduce some gentle trotting. 

Whilst his walking is great he isn't that comfortable coming down stairs/steps. If they are steep we just avoid them. Whilst standing he bears weight on his bad leg, but still has a preference for the other. 

I'll do a post about our Yorkshire holiday in a few days. It's a very dog friendly place!

Friday, June 10, 2016

8 weeks after TTA surgery

Another milestone! We have reached 8 weeks post op by which point the bone should have healed. 

The simple instructions from our surgeon to just add 5 minutes on to our walks each week seem to have worked well. He walks very well with no limp. Yesterday we had a trip to Cuerden Valley Park and enjoyed a wander through tall grass and more uneven footpaths. No problems at all. For the past week or so he has had supervised access to stairs and has no problem getting up or down. He's a little slow, but then he his 10, and being slow means he has to bear weight on his leg. He has also been off lead a bit in the garden, but only after other exercise, so the risk of some explosive outburst is reduced.

When standing he still generally has more weight on his good leg, but much of the time he stands more normally, and is happy to cock his leg from time when we are out, with all his weight on the bad leg. 

Our surgeons instructions took us up to 8 weeks so now it's a case of being sensible. We will have plenty of on lead walks, with more hills and steps, really just continuing to build up the duration. We'll also introduce some intermittent walking and jogging. I read some seemingly good advice along the lines of master the walk, then master a quick walk,then master a trot, then master a run - only moving to the next when the dog really has each nailed perfectly.  

It seems a long time ago now that we were trying to cope with the return of a poorly dog from surgery, and particularly the sleepless nights. Our downstairs setup with the pen and mats have meant we had no incidents of slipping on the floor or jumping on the sofa whilst our back was turned. Getting your house ready for the return of a dog from surgery is probably the best advice I'd give for anyone who is taking their dog for an op. 

Fingers crossed it will all be progressively better now πŸ‘

Friday, June 03, 2016

7 weeks after TTA surgery

Another happy uneventful week. Walks went up to 30 minutes three times a day today. Although we are walking on the flat at whatever pace he wants to take, he looks like he could walk for much longer with ease. Standing though he still doesn't generally put all his weight on his leg and it doesn't seem to have changed much in the last week or so. 

In the last few days he has had a little more freedom in the house. We have taken up some of the mats in his pen so he can enjoy some coolness from the floor tiles. When supervised he has had a pad around our kitchen/sitting area but certainly not a free reign, given he'd be jumping on the sofa in a flash. 

After his walk he can now have some supervised off lead time. We'll kick that off with the flexi-lead tomorrow!

So, after 7 weeks he now walks for an hour and a half each day. I'd say that's a good outcome given a 5 minute walk was a painful struggle a couple of months ago. I'm certainly not regretting our decision to opt for TTA surgery and I don't think the dog is either!  Let's just hope the other cruciate ligaments hold out! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another walk around Longton Brickcroft

Bank holiday weekend and gorgeous sunshine. We had another trip to Longton Brickcroft early this morning. The dog, who is still recovering well, managed a circuit of the main lake. The last time we managed that was February. Seems so long ago!  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

6 weeks after TTA surgery

A good week. Walking is good. Other than the telltale short hair on his leg you wouldn't know he'd had cruciate surgery if you saw us in the street. We can walk quite quickly, but have kept it calm so I have no idea yet what a trot or run would look like. 

Standing, he still has a preference for his good leg but he can put weight on the operated leg if he chooses, normally when he is distracted through eating!

The wound, which had some problems along the way, is still a little scabby in parts but they are starting to fall away leaving clean looking healed skin underneath. 

The main event this week was stairs. We have avoided them completely until now, which has been a bit of a nightmare given he has always slept upstairs. Sleep deprivation has affected all of us!  This week I bought a couple of portable barriers from Mothercare meaning we can block him from going back down the stairs and also from the bedroom so he can sleep on the landing with no risk of him jumping on the bed. I helped him get up the stairs with a sling, although he looks as if he would cope without. Coming down was a case of carrying him as he wasn't up for trying a descent. Whether that was because it looked hard or whether he just didn't want to go downstairs I have no idea! 

From tomorrow we are up to 25 minute walks 3 times a day. Maybe in the next week we will give him a bit more of a 'supervised' free reign in the house. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A sunny evening at Longton Brickcroft

Every day gets better. This weekend each walk has been up to 20 minutes. Recovery continues to be incident free, not least as the dog is still in his cosy pen much of the time so he stays safe with our tiled kitchen floor.

We took the opportunity for a walk at Longton Brickcroft, not too far from home. The dog seemed delighted to be in different surroundings but with lots of sniffing and admiring of views going on 20 minutes wasn't going to get us round the lake. Pretty much perfect for an evening stroll though and feels like things are starting to return to normal. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

5 weeks after TTA surgery

A largely uneventful week. To be able to do 15 minute walks has been brilliant. Tomorrow we go up to 20 minutes so plan a few trips out to Longton Brickcroft where we should just make it round the lake. It will be wonderful to go somewhere different!

His walking has noticeably improved this week. He walks more quickly now and if you didn't know he'd had a recent operation you'd not realise how fragile he still is. Fortunately most of our local dog walkers know, and we won't go anywhere where dogs are likely to be off the lead, so other than one boisterous puppy we've not had any dogs trying to leap in him!

When standing you can still often tell that he has a preference for his 'good' leg, but he can put a lot of weight on the other, most noticeably when he cocks his leg. 

Our indoor setup remains the same. He has a matted pen downstairs to avoid the floor tiles. We need to find some steps this weekend and start to build some strength before tackling stairs. 

All in all a good week other than rather unpredictable bowel movements, but I put that down to getting some more exercise and coming off all of his medication. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Our TTA recovery plan

A few people have asked what we were advised for our dog's TTA recovery plan. I imagine that all advice is unique to your dog's circumstances so the best plan is the one you agree with your surgeon!

Ours has been very simple. The immediate aftercare was not an issue for us as he was in overnight and most of the next day. When we picked him up he had a weeks worth of antibiotics, some pain killers and anti-inflamitories. 

For exercise it was up to 10 minutes walk 3 times a day for 4 weeks. Toilet visits as needed. Everything on a short lead and absolutely no running, jumping or stairs. 

For week 5 to 8 we increase the duration of each walk by 5 minutes each week. So by week 8 we will be up to 30 minutes 3 times a day. 

After 8 weeks he can be off lead at the end of a walk, but not go mad. 

No physio, manipulation, heat pads, cold pads, hydrotherapy etc were advised for us. I like simple!

Friday, May 13, 2016

4 weeks after TTA surgery and the next steps

We passed a major milestone this week. After last weekend's setback with the dog exposing an internal stitch it was a relatively quiet start to the week. The cone of shame was back on, the superglue did its job, as did another dose of antibiotics, so we headed back to Rutland House at St Helens on Thursday for his 4 week checkup. 

Having dropped him off about 8.30am I got the call early afternoon to say he was back from X-rays and all was looking good. I met with one of the surgeons about 5.30 who talked me through the x-Ray photographs. The metalwork is all where it should be and he showed me where the new bone growth was taking place. No apparent problems and the wound itself now looks much healthier. 

Moving forward we yet again have a very simple recovery plan. His walks can now increase by 5 minutes per walk each week. When we hit 30 minutes, in a months time, he can have some controlled off lead time at the end of the walk. 

He hasn't tackled any stairs in the past month but, under control, he can now tackle them. We've not yet done that as we have a good downstairs routine and set-up, but will try a few steps this weekend. 

Lots of posts I've read have talked about swimming as therapy. Whilst I didn't get a 'no' to the suggestion the surgeon's view was that it can cause tendon problems, so given its not something we've done previously I won't be trying it. I am perfectly happy to build his strength through gentle walks. At the end of the day he's 10 now and I'm not looking to get him out doing agility or fly ball! 

The extra 5 minutes already makes a world of difference and means we can go a nice little circular walk from home and can probably get round Longton Brickcroft. If we don't get there tomorrow or Sunday we will certainly make it next weekend. 

The pen and non slip mats stay for a few weeks yet, but that's fine. 

It certainly feels like we are well on the way to recovery now. Whilst it has been a tough month it feels worth it. We can already walk further than we did pre-op and the dog looks so much better. Hope it continues! 

Saturday, May 07, 2016

23 days after TTA surgery - Wound not healing well

The dog is 10 years old today. To celebrate this momentous occasion he decided to bite and lick his leg, stripping off what remained of the scabs and finding some internal stitches which are being rejected to pick at. Fortunately my better half spotted it soon after waking so we were able to get an appointment at our local vets to get it cleaned up, the exposed stitch removed and the wound glued up. 

Not the best shot in the world but you can see how much his hair has grown now and a hit of the mess he'd made of the lower part of the wound. 

He is now on a further dose of antibiotics and the cone of shame is back on. I recall the vet saying a few weeks ago she wasn't particularly happy with the way the wound was healing, which she repeated when we went back earlier this week. She was right as usual!

Happy birthday 🐾🍰

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

3 weeks after TTA surgery

It's been a long three weeks!  In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago that the dog was booked in for TTA surgery. I can vaguely remember the relief of the phone call confirming everything had gone ok. Since then it has been a case of taking each day as it comes and taking great care not to do anything that risks a setback. 

After three weeks he is still walking well. His leg appears stronger now, and the occasional shakes and trembles we saw in the first few weeks have gone. He looks stead when walking and turning. Best of all, he has started to put more weight on it when standing, although it is very clear he has a preference for his good hind leg. 

For the most part he has been easy to keep calm. He is happy to slowly sniff round his 10 minute walks, which is good. We just have to be in guard for any sign of rabbits, birds or cats leaping out of the bushes!

He went back to our local vets yesterday for another checkup, a week after the stiches came out. The wound has healed but is still pretty scabby, so we have another week of antibiotics. It doesn't look swollen or infected, but still happy to err on the safe side. 

One week to go the we head back to the referral centre for X-Rays. I imagine we will get the next set of instructions regarding his recovery then. Hopefully we'll get another 5 minutes on his walks!

Happily, the sun has returned today so we got to sit outside for a while after work. His nose was doing overtime so think he enjoys the fresh air. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

16 days after TTA surgery

16 days on. Still appears to be going well. Leg is bearing weight when walking and continues to look better when standing. 

Today was the first close encounter with one of his four legged friends on our estate. He was desperate to play and I had to hold his collar tightly to stop him springing around. Guess he has hit the point now when he feels much better. From what I read we have in some ways hit the time of highest risk, when dogs feel better and owners relax. 

We left the dog without cone on Friday whilst we were out. The 'dog cam' revealed he spent several hours preening himself, including a good lick of his knee. I suspect all that licking made him queesy as his dinner came back up almost immediately last night - something that has never happened in his 10 year life before. Although the stiches had been out since Monday I decided to put the cone back on last night. Tonight is his first coneless night so we'll see how he gets on. 

Still in his pen most of the time but we've sat in the lounge, which is carpeted rather than tiled, for much of the day. The kitchen floor is tiled and very slippery for him so the foam mats we got to make his pen are a 'must'. Having said that, with his nighttime setup (see photo) he has a choice of beds which look good enough for a human to sleep on!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2 weeks after TTA surgery

It's 2 weeks today since I left our dog at the referral centre for his TTA surgery, and 2 weeks tomorrow since his operation. Time then for some reflection on the first two weeks after surgery. 

At this point in time all seems well. The stitches were taken out by our local vet yesterday. She thought there was a little swelling on the knee so a further weeks antibiotics were prescribed and we have a follow up with our vet next week. I wasn't concerned, the swelling, very slight, around the stitches, wasn't a great concern, but I agreed with her that better to err on the safe side given the implications should any infection take hold. It's a bit scabby where the skin has joined so again better to know that the healing process gets a helping hand. 

He still doesn't put all his weight on his leg, particularly when standing, but there are now times when his pad is properly on the floor, with some spread of his toes, the best sign we have its bearing weight. In a nutshell, it no longer looks 'lame', which is great. 

Walking wise, he is still on three walks a day, up to 10 minutes. They are very slow and we don't get far obviously, but he generally looks ok, far better than he did pre op. We are very very careful and avoid close contact with other dogs, holding his collar to stop any possible jumping if we can't. His walk isn't perfect, a long way to go yet, but better than I had expected. 

He remains in his pen whenever in the house, other than an occasional trip to the lounge (where it is carpeted) but still on the lead. You'll see photos of the pen on this blog. It has been great!  He has space to move but has been completely protected when someone knocks at the door, friends are round and when we are just getting on with stuff. 

Between me and my better half we have taken holidays to ensure he hasn't been on his own for the past two weeks. To be honest, I think we could have left him in the past few days. We did go out for an hour or two on Sunday to get him used to us not being there 24/7. For my birthday this year (before the problems started) I got a 'pet cam' which means we can keep an eye on him from our phones, it is proving really useful to check what he gets up to, which in the main is sleeping!

The comfy cone has been great, and is still on when he is unsupervised. Hopefully we'll see the back of that by the weekend. 

Perhaps the biggest challenge of the past two weeks has been nighttime. We have a 'soft' dog who has sleep upstairs in the bedroom for most of his 10 year life. Being left downstairs just doesn't work for him so we have a choice. Sleep downstairs, carry him up every night, or let him howl and cry all night!  For the past two weeks one of us has taken the sleep downstairs option. It's not a good long term option and at some point we or he is going to have to do something different. Yes, of course I could just leave him and apply the method I used when he was a pup, with a quick squirt of water when he whines at night to shut him up, before going back upstairs to bed. Not an option I'd choose after 10 years though. We made the choice to have him with us so now we need to take some ownership of the consequences. Imagine if you'd had your leg broken and pinned a few weeks ago and you were told you had to stay on your own in the kitchen all day and all night, and if you complained you got water squirted in your face!  Not going to happen in our household! 


Saturday, April 23, 2016

9 days after TTA Surgery:

It's a week and a half since the dog had TTA surgery for a partially ruptured cruciate ligament. 

Progress still seems good. Outwardly, the hair on his shaved leg has started to grow back so it's less obvious he has had recent surgery. His knee looks fine. No redness or swelling and stitches still fine. Hopefully they will be out the day after tomorrow. He seems happy, other than the confinement to his pen. His pen has though been one of the most important features of the last week or so. He has always had the run of the house, and slept upstairs. Stairs are a complete no no and our kitchen come living area has tiles which can be slippery. The foam mats and pet pen from Amazon and eBay have been a godsend. Without them we would not have coped with people coming to the door without serious risk of him injuring himself. 

He now sleeps well. The comfy cone is on whenever we are not watching him. The hard plastic cone is redundant but still there should he take a persistent liking to fussing his stitches. 

We have stuck well to three 10 minute walks a day. It is enough, and at times I continue to worry whether his is straining other legs. Walks feel relatively low risk though. It's when he gets in a boisterous mood in the house that he bounces around the most. As I've said, he is in a pen so we have done what we can to limit the risk, but it still makes for a tense moment when he senses food is about to be served. 

Whilst walking he bears weight on his leg but still tiptoes a lot when standing. It does look better than it did, but I will be glad to see him put his foot fully flat and put weight on it over the next few weeks. 

My better half has three more days off, after which we'll both be back at work. Happily we have our friends at Home Comfort Pets who will look in on him a couple of times and take him for a lunchtime walk later next week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

1 week after TTA surgery

It's now a week since the dog's TTA surgery for a partially ruptured cruciate ligament. 

We are still on 10 minute slow walks three times a day. He is coping well with them, with hardly any limp. When standing he is putting a very little more weight on his hind leg but he is already much more steady in his pen or turning on his bed to make himself comfortable. 

The stitches still look good. There has never been any discharge from them or excessive redness or swelling around his knee. They don't seem to bother him much but he will try to lick them occasionally if his cone isn't on, so he wears it whenever he is unsupervised and at night. 

We are booked in at our local vets to have the stitches taken out on Monday, and also booked in at the Referral Centre to have follow up X-Rays in 3 weeks time. 

The dog doesn't like the confinement of his pen much, even though it keeps him to the area where his bed has always been positioned during the day. Of course that's probably because he used to spend all day on the sofa, ignoring his bed!

Happily, some time off work has meant we can now spend a while sat in the garden, with him tied to a short lead on my leg. It's nice (for us both) to be outside though having been stuck inside for so long. 

Nighttime is now fine. He has slept all through the last two nights thankfully!

Monday, April 18, 2016

4 days after TTA surgery

There's a trend developing if you hadn't noticed - nighttime blogging!  

Another good day of post TTA operation recovery. All three walks were excellent. The hardest thing now is that he is becoming a bit more confident and wants to go further than allowed in the time we have. My aim is to get to 'the' big tuft of grass where our local cycle track meets the road, a favourite spot for the dog unsurprisingly.  His aim is now to get to the concrete settings of the crash barrier a little further down the road, also a favourite dog spot!  Needless to say, I win, but only after gentle but firm persuasion to turn him round and head back. 

He looks more steady in his pen now. He often doesn't put much weight on his leg when making himself comfortable turn on his bed, but, when his cone is off, has used it to gently scratch his neck. I take this as a good sign that movement is getting easier and not painful. I thinks it's incredible given the inside of his leg looks something like this (not his X-ray)

No poo today, but I'm sure that will happen again. 

The comfy cone was delivered, and looks the part. It seems to be sturdy enough for him not to be able to get to his stitches (he isn't really bothered in them anyway) and must be so much more comfortable than the plastic cone. Sadly though he still cries after an hour or two with it on, so after an early night he woke me up at 12.00 where I spent 20 minutes or so calming him, then briefly at 2.00am and 4am. By 4am I figured I've had a good 4 hours sleep so (relatively) not bad. Sure I'll get another few hours in later!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

3 days after TTA surgery

Today (can I say that at 4am?) was the dog's second day home, the third since his cruciate operation. I'm getting used to this view!

Our three very short walks went amazingly well, having left the confines of the garden each time and venturing a short way down the road. We haven't actually crossed a road though, so all entirely on the flat. His gait is good and if it were not for his shaved leg others would have not noticed anything wrong with him. 

The biggest issue so far is that he hasn't slept much with his cone on. He cries and ends up pretty distressed after a while. The upshot of that is that most of the time either me or my better half have sat with him, only using the cone when we are distracted, or when I've been asleep. 

Thursday night was the worst, with about 45 minutes sleep. Friday was 2.5 hours or so and having gone to sleep at midnight I was woken by loud wimpering at 3am. After an hour or so of cuddles and licks he has now just fallen asleep, minus cone, so I'll be sat here for an hour or two before I might stick it back on an try to get some sleep myself. Happily, no work for a few days so I can catch 40 winks "whenever".

A "comfy cone" is being delivered today so maybe tomorrow nights sleep will be better. It really is important though that he can't get to those stitches until they come out!

His knee still looks good. No major swelling or redness. No discharge. Couldn't imagine it could be any better. 

The 'pen' we made is serving it's purpose well. He is confined to a small area even when we are in, so no problem with him leaping up if someone's at the door, trying to get on furniture or racing across our tiled kitchen floor. At night I've moved a bed from his crate so he doesn't bang around in it with his cone. He is such a soft dog though that he still taps the bars from time to time to tell us he is fed up in it and wants human contact. We are such soft owners that we hop over the low fence for a cuddle in his pen!  Character wise he is back to normal though, very affectionate and "needy". 

Oh, I nearly forgot, you may have read that your dog might not have a bowel movement for some time after surgery. His first was this afternoon. Lots of it but reasonably firm. Dog owners will understand the significance of this momentous occasion 😊.

Let's hope this good progress continues!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

2 days after TTA surgery

The first night was harder than expected. I slept for 45 minutes or so. Every time I tried to sleep the poor dog cried so I sat and watched whilst he eventually settled. 

Although booked off work I had wondered whether I'd get some things done at home. It wasn't to be given my zombie-like state for most of the day. 

But enough of me. The dog is doing ok. He happily ate breakfast this morning and has been drinking as normal. We had a walk around the garden for 5 to 10 minutes this morning and again this afternoon. This evening we ventured a few minutes down the road. From previous posts you'll have seen that our surgeons advice is 10 minutes walk three times a day, for the first four weeks. He is putting some weight on his leg and already limps less than he did pre op. 

This afternoon he allowed me to sleep for nearly two and a half hours without crying. Very welcome! Sadly tonight he has had me awake after just an hour or so of sleep, so it's now 1.15am and I am very tired. Now I'm awake the dog is sleeping like a baby!

I think the cause of today's crying isn't the pain in his leg, it's the cone of shame. He tollerates it well when it first goes on but after an hour he clearly finds it uncomfortable, hence the crying which ends the second it's off. When he woke me tonight he was clearly distressed, panting heavily and needing affection. I wish I had bought a comfy-cone, although I have heard that not all dogs take to them either and they are not always as effective as the plastic e-collar. I would like to try though as sleep is becoming a priority and I dare not risk shutting my eyes to sleep when he has no collar on. 

The knee itself looks pretty good at the moment. The light dressing came off today, so I can now see the stitches. Of course it looks very sore but not nearly as bad as I had feared, having seen Google photos of dogs with bright red extensive bruising and swelling. His looks pretty neat and tidy. 

The yellow is iodine of course, not bruising. 

So, all in all, a good day apart from sleep deprivation!

Friday, April 15, 2016

1 day after TTA surgery - the middle of the night

So, the time is now 2.42am.  Tonight's learning (so far) s:
- it clearly hurts after a major operation. It is very likely your dog will cry, at least until 2.42am
- the cone of shame may stop your dog from getting comfy, but unless you want to risk seeing metalwork when you wake up, put it on
- don't assume you will sleep. Why should you if your dog can't 
- by 2.46am, if you've given up on sleeping and taken the cone off, your dog might be a bit more comfortable and sleep for a while
- start a blog, it will give you something to do and stop you falling asleep yourself whilst the dog has respite from the cone of shame
- don't be sad if your dog still hasn't looked you in the eye

Thursday, April 14, 2016

TTA Surgery - Discharge day

So, the TTA operation took place for his cruciate yesterday. The surgery said they would update between 5 and 7pm. Happily, at 5.02pm they called to say he was in recovery and would soon be back on the ward, so last night was a good night. 

Today they said they'd call soon after 10am for an update and to confirm discharge arrangements. At about 10.15am I was given the OK to pick him up tonight. 

After some helpful words from the surgeon and a look at the impressive metalwork on X-Ray the nurse brought him in. Poor dog was shaking and looked most unhappy. He was walking though, without any support, and already putting more weight on his leg than he has for which was great to see. No sign of a wag though, and I'm not convinced he's looked me in the eye yet!

Having cried in the car all the way home he seemed pleased to be back and after a big drink has been flat out on his bed for the past hour, with just the occasional whine. 

In terms of post operative advice it was simple can clear.
- use common sense
- confine to a small area or crate overnight or when unsupervised 
- follow advice on pain killers and antibiotics 
- use the cone of shame when unsupervised or first sign he's interested in stiches
- he has a light dressing which comes off tomorrow 
- 10 minute lead walks 3 times a day (which can start tomorrow - I was happily surprised!)
- no stairs for a month
- stiches out by our own vet in 10 to 14 days
- back to the surgeon for a review in 4 weeks
- call if there are any problems (we have the surgeon's mobile number - not just the surgery
- I don't need (or advised to use) the support harness I bought from eBay - might come in useful one day I suppose

So, at this point all seems as good as it could be. As I write he's had a little bit of food, which is reassuring. Fingers crossed for a good nights sleep (for me) on the sofa!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Preparing for TTA surgery

Funny how this blog has shifted from walks to 'life events'. I wasn't really sure whether I wanted to blog today, but it seemed right. 

This afternoon I checked the dog in to veterinary hospital for a cruciate operation. Since January he has been increasingly struggling and despite 6 weeks or so of rest, with just 5 minute walks, his limp has got progressively worse to the extent that I can see it is putting massive strain on his 'good' hind leg. It's taken a while to get a firm diagnosis as its a partial tear rather than a complete tear. Seems to be degenerative rather than as a result of a mad moment, so also a 50% chance the other will go at some point in the next 18 months or so. 

Anyway, after considering options I decided that if I were limited to 5 minute walks, having been active just 3 months ago, and things were getting worse rather than better, I'd want it fixed!

The procedure is going to be TTA, done tomorrow at some point. Hopefully we'll have him home on Thursday.  Having spent hours myself googling on the subject of cruciates I'll do what many others have helpfully done and blog my experience. 

So far, key points for me have been:
- this is a time when you're glad you have insurance
- ultimately, you have to come to your own view as to whether to go down a surgical or non surgical route
- if you have a tiled floor get a load of interlocking foam mats from Amazon or EBay
-,Remember where you put the crate you used when your dog was a puppy
- create a nice safe area in anticipation of the mad dash for the doorbell 

Here is our setup

Over next next few months, God willing, I'll blog how we got on. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Recommended dog walker in South Ribble

It can be hard to find a good, reliable dog walker. We were lucky almost 10 years ago to find a couple called Chris and Martin who run Home Comfort Pets. They provide a dog walking, pet visiting and small animal boarding service in Lostock Hall, Bamber Bridge, Penwortham, Hutton, Longton and Walton-le-Dale.  

In all that time they have been reliable, trustworthy and most importantly, looked after our dog with all the love and care that we do. He never has a day where he doesn't get a walk at lunchtime, regardless of our own work commitments. 

At the moment they have some vacancies for 1 to 1 walks throughout the day so, if you're in the South Ribble area and looking for a reliable dog walker, give them a call. You will find them on facebook or google 'home comfort pets'. I can't recommend them highly enough!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Alabama Rot in Preston, Lancashire

So, for the last few days Facebook has been suggesting a case of Alabama Rot has been diagnosed in Preston. Tonight the Lancashire Evening Post has reported that a dog has died of the disease, the 65th case in the UK since 2012. The dog is believed to be from the Fulwood Area, although in the past few days I had heard it was from Garstang. Given the report that it was walked in Highgate Woods off Garstang Road it is well worth avoiding walking your dog there for the time being. From what I have read previously your dog seems most at risk in wet, muddy, wooded areas. Certainly that was the case in the New Forest, where the first outbreaks were reported, and I think in the cases reported in Cornwall. It does appear that you can never be totally safe round here. As many will know, there were cases around Bolton and Wigan last year. If your dog does get muddy (when don't they?) the advice seems to be to wash it off. However, if like me you are completed paranoid you'll stick to the paths on open moors and beaches whenever you can. it sounds like the most horrible disease. My heart goes to the owner.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Dining with dogs (Dog friendly pubs in Cornwall)

Finding good places to eat where your dog is welcome can be a challenge in some places, but not in Cornwall. Over the 9 years that we've enjoyed holidays with our dog in this wonderful place we have seen big changes in the number of good quality eating establishments. Where once there were seemly a handful of really good places to eat, you are probably never far from one these days, wherever you choose to stay.

Of course standards go up and down, so all of the places I've listed here are ones we have visited at least once over the past 12 months. We are lucky to have had five weeks away in that time so had plenty of time to enjoy some of the best food we could imagine. I don't claim that these are the best pubs in Cornwall. That depends on what you expect from a pub. I recall visiting the Blisland Inn, a fantastic pub for real ale fans, but not a place where you'd rave about the food. The point of this post is to highlight some of the best dining experiences you can have with your dog in tow, which are not necessarily the best dog friendly pubs. All allow dogs inside, on leads of course, and you will normally be restricted to the bar area. All are well worth a visit though.

Please please though keep your dog under control. We are so lucky to have good places to eat where our dogs can join us. Sadly whilst unruly kids can often run riot, society is less tolerant of unruly dogs. That's life!

St Petrocs Bistro, Padstow

 Part of the Rick Stein empire, St Petrocs Bistro was a surprise find. Diners with dogs are welcome in the small but comfortable bar area. When we visited we were given a warm welcome and the dog given a bowl of water should he decide to awake from his sleep on the stone flagged floor. Of course the food was excellent. Booking advisable if not essential.

The Old School Bar and Kitchen, Mount Hawke

What appears to be an old school has been converted in to a contemporary bar and restaurant. A word of warning here, diners with dogs are welcome in the bar, but it can get busy and noisy. It is after all a bar first and foremost. A great place if you fancy a lively good night out. The food here was great, as are the cocktails. The menu was varied but gastro burgers seemed the way to go on our visit. I was not disappointed.

The Gurnards Head, Zennor

The Gurnards Head needs no introduction to regular visitors to the far west of Cornwall. Standing yellow and proud on the spectacular coastal road near to St Ives, it is hard to miss. The food here is wonderful, some of the best we have eaten, and beautifully presented. Dogs are very welcome in the bar area. It does get busy so booking recommended.

The Old Coastguard Hotel, Mousehole

One of our favourites! We first went to the Old Coastguard drenched and cold after watching the storms of February 2014. We, and the dog, were made very welcome despite our appearance. Food here is very good, and similar to the Gurnards Head, part of the same Eat, Drink, Sleep family of pubs. We have returned many times, including a 3 night stay in 2015. Dogs are very welcome in the wooden floored bar area.

The Coldstreamer, Gulval

The Coldstreamer was a new find in 2015. A place where you'd be equally at home just having a drink. Dogs are allowed in the faily spacious bar area. This is not a particularly formal place so take it as you find it, and as it finds you. The food was excellent, and different. Check out the menu for this place! 

As I write this post I see the Coldstreamer has new lessees. Happily, it is the Head Chef who in charge when we visited, meaning it's rise to stardom looks set to continue. It will be interesting to see what changes they make, but hope it keeps its rather rustic feel. It's so good I've not put a website link up, you'll have to find it!

The Pandora Inn, Mylor

One of the prettiest spots in Cornwall. Best sitting outside on a sunny day watching the world go by, but dogs are allowed in the pub itself. Although very good I confess we found the menu a bit limited if you want to visit several times on your holiday. Still well worth a visit though.

St Tudy Inn, St Tudy

Although still a pub, the St Tudy is more of a dining experience. Dogs are welcome in the small but comfortable bar area. When we last visited in February 2016 we were the only diners in the bar, but several locals were enjoying a few drinks. The restaurant looks very civilised! The food here is excellent. Hard to imagine that you'll find much better if you have a dog in tow.

Lewinnick Lodge, Newquay

The setting is amazing, sitting on the cliff edge looking out towards Fistral Beach. The bar are welcomes dogs and was busy on our visit. We found a table by the window and enjoyed good food and a few drinks. It was lively, with a pool table, comfy sofas and plenty of people just enjoying a drink. don't let that out you off though, there aren't many places where you can enjoy a view like this. The adjacent restaurant seemed very quiet, but imagine it gets busy at weekends and in season.