Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I'd just like to take a moment and wish everyone out there happy holidays!  We put up a tiny tree and a few ornaments in the living room, and it certainly adds to the festive mood.  It's small, but sometimes the little things really mean a lot.  Speaking of little things, here is Callie, basking in the glow of the Christmas tree!

Here in Montreal the weather has definitely gotten wintry - as you can see, the first "real" snowfall piled up well above Callie's head!  But she is jolly, as long as she doesn't have to stay out there too long!  Soon we will be heading down south for some much-needed time with friends and family.  Not to mention a slightly more Callie-friendly climate!

Since it is almost the holidays and we were feeling festive, I bought a fun little collar for Callie to wear.  She was a good sport about it, although I probably won't bring this one out too often!  Still, she looks happy (and/or comical) enough!

After we come back from the holidays, fundraising efforts will begin in earnest.  As I've mentioned before, I think my first attempt will be a bake sale at Concordia, and the start of the year should be a good time to ask for help from hungry students!  I have lots of offers to help bake (and maybe to help sell), so I think this will be a good place to start.  Hopefully people will still be in a giving mood even after the holidays have finished.  Stay tuned for updates as the event approaches!

Until then, thank you all for reading, and we wish you a very happy (and warm) holiday season!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Little Hopping Dog Gets a Consultation

Thanks to some generous donations, we finally saved up enough to get Callie an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.  Yesterday our good friend Ryan took time out of his busy day to drive us all the way out to the DMV Veterinary Center (and back home afterward)!  It was extremely kind of him to shuttle us around and to wait over an hour while we were with the vet, and we sincerely appreciate his help!

Callie had an appointment with Dr. Jérôme Planté, a surgeon at the DMV Veterinary Center in Montreal.  This appointment was a consultation to find out exactly how bad Callie's condition is, as well as her possible treatment options.

  About Dr. Jérôme Planté
Dr. Planté met with us for an entire hour, going over the x-rays of Callie's legs and explaining to us in detail the problems and treatments.  I don't think I have ever had any doctor (people doctor OR vet) spend so much time with me.  He explained every aspect of Callie's condition and treatment, drew us multiple diagrams, and patiently showed us exactly what was wrong with Callie's legs and how he planned to fix them.  If anyone in Montreal ever needs to see a specialist vet, I cannot recommend him highly enough.

So, what did we find out?  For better or worse, it was pretty much what we expected.  Callie has grade 3 patellar luxation, (with grade 1 being the least severe and grade 4 the worst), and her left back leg is in worse shape than her right.  That wasn't a surprise to us, since the left leg is the one she always carries when she "hops"!  The condition in her right leg is a bit strange; although the kneecap isn't where it is supposed to be, the vet said it seems to have adapted and found a way to work anyway.  Since Callie still runs and jumps, he said that for now we can wait on surgery and see what happens over time.

The left leg, however, is in bad shape and requires surgery within the next few months.  The kneecap has become permanently dislocated, so much so that it can't be forced back into place, and as a consequence the cartilage around the kneecap is constantly wearing away as it rubs against the surrounding bone.  The friction between pieces of bone will get more painful for Callie as the damage to the cartilage continues, and as she is increasingly unable to flex and straighten her leg properly.

The surgery itself sounds complicated but really consists of two main steps.  First, the groove in which the kneecap sits on the femur (the top bone) will be made deeper, so that the kneecap has a harder time sliding out and becoming dislocated.  Second, the ligament that attaches the kneecap to the tibia (the lower bone) will be repositioned more centrally, because at the moment it is a bit off to one side (which contributes to the kneecap getting pulled out of place).  Moving the ligament entails cutting off the chunk of protruding bone that it is attached to, positioning that piece of bone in the center of the tibia, and then re-attaching it with several metal "pins."  Probably Dr. Planté will also tighten the joint, to help make sure everything stays in place.

There is always a chance that the operation will need to be more extensive, depending on what he finds when he does a series of x-rays and exams right before the operation.  If things are more severe than he expected, there is also a chance that a ligament will need to be "relaxed," or that a wedge of bone will need to be cut out in order to turn a curved bone into a straight one.

THIS website gives a good explanation of grade 3 patellar luxation and a description of the surgery at the bottom.

And THIS website is a bit more technical, but the diagram of the knee structures is pretty clear, and it provides additional information if you're curious.

The surgery should take several hours, and Callie will stay two nights at the clinic for observation.  When she comes home, her leg will be in a sort of cast, but it is up to us to make sure she does nothing but WALK for two entire months.  If she runs, jumps, or even climbs a stair, it could pop the pins out of the bone and cause HUGE trouble!  She will need pain pills and antibiotics for a couple of weeks, plus something like 5 follow-up appointments and x-rays.  The cost of this all-inclusive package?  $1,500-$2,000, assuming she does NOT need the additional operations I mentioned above (in which case we could expect to easily double the cost).

Obviously, this is a staggering expense, but it is in line with what we expected.  I am still thankful for several things, including but not limited to: 1) We only need to do surgery on one leg at the moment, and not both; 2) we are really confident that the surgery will go well, and with very few risks; and 3) I have complete and utter confidence in Dr. Planté and his expertise.  I know Callie will be in good hands, even though this is such a scary prospect.

At the moment, we are considering our options.  Although Callie doesn't need to go in TOMORROW, we nevertheless need to schedule the surgery within the next few months.  The cartilage can't be repaired and won't grow back, so once it wears away from the kneecap entirely the problem will become much more severe.  We have started giving Callie glucosamine supplements, to help nourish the joint and strengthen the cartilage (in both legs).  Luckily the pills are HUGE and she thinks they are treats, so it's easy to get her to take them every day!  Also, she is still constantly getting spoiled, so she's in pretty good spirits.

In the next few weeks I am hoping to start throwing fundraising events.  We have already had several people volunteer time, goods, and even money to Callie's cause, and hopefully soon I can spread the word even further.  I imagine that we will need to book the surgery sometime in the spring, so that Callie will be all healed in time for the lovely summer weather!  Until then, I will keep everyone posted on our efforts to raise money and Callie's progress between now and the surgery.  And I will of course post more pics and video of the lovely little hopping dog!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time to Raise some Funds!

Since the blog went up a couple of weeks ago I have gotten responses from friends and family concerned about little Callie and the cost of her surgery. Several people have given me some great ideas for fundraising activities, and I am excited to share what I've come up with so far! Please take a look at these and add your comments and suggestions here or on Facebook!

My friend Meg suggested that I get in touch with my university to see if I can put up a table somewhere and sell baked goods for a couple of dollars each. She and my friend Jen have already offered to donate goodies!  This seems likely to be the fastest and easiest event to put together. Plus, I could put up adorable posters everywhere - maybe something like this?



This one's almost the same as the last, except it involves buying samosas from a local restaurant and selling them!  Anybody have ideas for restaurants I can ask about this, or other food items I could try to sell?

For this I would probably need to find a large space with lots of fun stuff inside.  A rockin' Halloween party, a Guitar Hero party, etc.  Unfortunately... my apartment is quite small, a party like this could cost ME a lot, and I don't have enough TVs and game consoles to have lots of people playing games at once!  I'm still not sure if I can swing this one, but if anyone has tried something similar I would love to hear about it!

A friend said it might be possible for his band to throw a benefit show for my little pup!  I imagine this could be a real challenge to get together, but could potentially raise some solid funds for Callie's cause!

So I'm a photographer with experience and equipment.  There must be a way to use this!

A pitcher, some lemons+sugar+water, a few cups, and the cash should roll right in!  ...Right?  Okay, so maybe I'm not so serious about this one.  But I bet there's a way to get my neighbors to help somehow!

I think that's mostly what I've got so far.  If you can take a minute to give me some input, I would love to know:
a) which ideas do you think are strong and potential money-makers?
b) has anyone done things like this, and with any success?  I need help!
c) is anybody interested in contributing time, money, poster design, or goodies for one of these events?

I can't wait to hear from you all!  It's time to really get serious about the fundraising!  So far we have raised enough to get Callie in the door with the orthopedic surgeon, but not quite enough to pay for the cab trips and any tests or other costs that might pop up.  I took her out for a walk yesterday and the hops weren't as pronounced as some days, but she is definitely having trouble with that left kneecap.  Still, she seems happy enough when perched on her (newest) favorite sofa cushion...

Friday, September 24, 2010

First Day Home

Callie was born July 27, 2006 in Lavaca, Arkansas.  Daughter of a registered poodle (father, Curley Joe) and a registered pomeranian (mother, Sandy), Callie could have been a registered hybrid pomapoo if I had only sent in the form!  I visited Callie once when she was a very small puppy, and was given some photos to remember her by until I was able to take her home.  Here is Callie at approximately three weeks old:

On 9/22/2006 I picked up Callie from Green Acres Kennel - almost exactly four years ago!  She was nervous in the car, but quickly fell asleep on my lap; I think it took about 12 seconds to fall totally in love with this tiny dog.

When we got home she bounded exuberantly through the yard, sprinting, hopping and chewing in turns.  It probably took less than a day to start calling her our "little bear"; she was a tiny ball of fluff with something bearlike in her face and little black ears and claws.  At 16 weeks she weighed 2.03 lbs. and was extremely cuddly!

I've compiled a short video to give you an idea of our first (adorable) days with Callie.  For your enjoyment, here's The Little Hopping Dog's First Day Home!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yearly Check-Up

Today Callie and I took a trip to the vet for her yearly check-up and to get a few vaccinations.  Clinique Veterinaire Journet is right around the corner - literally a block and a half away.  Even though it's only mid-September it was quite breezy outside, and with the clouds it felt much cooler than 65 degrees.  I noticed that Callie's limp seemed more pronounced than usual as we made our way to the vet; she seemed to pick up her left foot and carry it every other step or so, effectively hopping down the sidewalk.  Callie is only four years old, but I have definitely noticed her symptoms worsening in the two years since we moved to Montreal.

Dr. Journet told me that Callie weighs 5.8 lbs., has excellent teeth, and is surprisingly well behaved when receiving shots!  (Today she didn't even squeak.)  She cried a little when he inspected her back legs, but she is really a darling girl and puts up with a lot.  I wasn't surprised when he asked me if she limped, but I was distressed when he pushed for an x-ray.  Sure enough, the film came back with some scary results.

The circles in the image are around Callie's kneecaps.  Ideally they should be centered on the bones, instead of sitting so far out to the side.  Also, those lower bones should be much straighter than they are!  Basically, this x-ray shows that both of Callie's knees are severely dislocated, and the vet said he couldn't even pop the left one back into place.  No wonder our "little bear" has been limping!

Here is a link to an article that I think explains the problem pretty well.  It's on a website for bichon frises, but I think it applies to pomapoos as well!

Patella Luxation

Dr. Journet has given us a referral to an orthopedic surgeon, and our next step will be a consultation with him.  A disorder like this has a few possible treatments, but all of them sound pretty intense.  I don't know when we will be able to take Callie for the consultation, but hopefully she will stay relatively comfortable in the meantime.  She has been sluggish all afternoon, but I'm sure she'll be her playful self again by morning!