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Charles Avocado VanGogh, the three-legged corgi

Charles' story is long, but inspiring!

One-year ampuversay pupdate and celebration!!

Today marks one year since Charles had the emergency surgery to save his life by removing his right front leg. This is a HUGE milestone. Since Charles is in liver failure, the surgery itself was risky. But also, the duration in which Charles would continue to be with me post-surgery was largely unknown. I had no idea if the surgery would prolong Charles’s life by 6 months or even one year, but I knew it was his best chance at life so we did it. And here we are… one year later. Wow. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing this past year has been with my little dude.

Charles and I on Central Campus at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa just two weeks after his surgery!

Of course there was all of the hullabaloo over the Barkchshler (an online competition hosted by Keith Habersberger of the Try Guys) which gained Charles a worldwide fan base and at one point close to 75,000 Instagram followers (currently at 73,600 follower). With this newfound platform to share Charles’s inspirational story, we continues to spread a message of love and acceptance through many facets of life. The fact that one of Charles’s posts can make even one person smile besides myself is awesome and I really see the potential to continue sharing the notions centered around positivity and inclusivity.

The past six months have been really trying for Charles and I though, mostly for reasons that affect me, a human, most personally. In May, I lost my paternal grandfather. This was the first loss of a grandparent that I have experienced, and I had grown very close to Grandpa in the last few years. Grandpa loved Charles, too. I was happy to share the joy and love of Charles with Grandpa whenever I went home to visit. I think their favorite thing to do was to play soccer together (Charles’s favorite form of fetch). Then in July, I defended my dissertation, which caused heaps and heaps of stress and anxiety in the months prior to the date. Then there was the stress of job hunting and moving. Charles was a champion through it all. I would truly be lost without this little pumpkin fluffer booty boy.

 

Charles and I in my convocation regalia

Some other things that we did in the past few include going to Northern Wisconsin for a couple of days with my family. This was awesome because Charles got to try his hand at riding in a UTV. We did NOT do any trail riding with him though. I feared that would be too stressful and possibly cause too much strain on his three little legs. But I think he enjoyed the little tiny bit of road riding that he did.

Charles riding in the UTV in Wisconsin

One of the most exciting additions to Charles’s life in the past six months was the arrival of his K9 Sport Sack! I really wanted to get one of these so I could start to bring Charles along on hikes. This was something I wanted to do for a long time but hadn’t been able to while he was having the chronic issues with his right front paw. And I knew on three legs that he wouldn’t be able to do entire hikes. So my thinking was that we could get a K9 Sport Sack and use it as a way to give him a break from hiking when he needs it! It has been AWESOME! Here are some photos from our adventures this summer:

 

Hiking in Apple Canyon State Park in Illinois. Our first go at using the K9 Sport Sack!

Hiking near Dunnings Spring in Decorah, Iowa

Just a couple of best friends on a hike at Ledges State Park in Iowa.

I also saw an opportunity to let Charles try swimming again. Swimming was something that he really enjoyed but then was unable to swim for over two years due to various health issues including the chronic issue with his right front leg. So, I got the dude a life jacket and we went for a swim. Charles had SO MUCH FUN. Like, imagine the most amount of fun you could have and TRIPLE IT.

Look at that smile!

 

 

Charles was also in the running to become the next Pibboraffi plushie! This got him some local news attention, which was a fun adventure. However, he did not win the competition. 🙁 But we still had a lot of fun and I am still contemplating commissioning a set of Charles plusies anyways!

 

Filming for one of Charles’s local news stories!

And here are a few other random things that happened in the past six months or so:

Charles found a new love for frisbees and chasing discs when I take him disc golfing!

 

Charles likes to find sticks to chew on while we are on walks and I got this really cute photo of him doing so. 🙂

 

Charles made it to Dunnings Springs in Decorah, Iowa for the great photo op!

 

Charles went for a bike ride with me!

I got Charles a new bed that he ABSOLUTELY loves.

 

Charles is loving that he has a big window with a couch from which to protect the house. Our first time living in a house on our own, he definitely enjoys having the run of the house all day while I am gone at work.

And now we celebrate one year post-amputation! This boy is doing so well!

 

Charles Avocado’s crazy autumn

Happenings since October

Charles has had a pretty exciting autumn season. Following his front right leg amputation in September, I was able to finally get him to the vet to try and get to the bottom of his itchiness. But first we needed to solve the issues he was having with bad poops. The veterinarians guessed that with all of the other medications he had been on for the mystery issue that was ailing his right front leg, it is possible that they were inadvertently treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). And since he is no longer on those medications, it was reasonable to try a different diet to help with this suspected IBD. Thus, he was put on a new Rx diet, Hills I/D (for sensitive tummies). I was also directed to get him some probiotics (Proviable). With the combination, he hasn’t had any tummy problems and has had consistently great poops! What a relief.

Now, with the gastrointestinal situation seemingly under control, we could begin to address his itchy issues. You see, here again the doctors suspect that they were inadvertently treating his skin issues with the medications he had been on for his right front leg. The dermatologist told me about an injection that they have called Cytopoint, which contains monoclonal antibodies that bind to a protein in the itch response biosynthetic pathway. This sounded like it was worth a try and let me tell you, it is like MAGIC. We still needed to treat the superficial bacteria and yeasts that were on his paws/skin, but meanwhile he was SO MUCH LESS ITCHY. And after getting a handle on his skin infection, this boy has been cone-free for some time now. This is a HUGE turnaround for us.

Additionally, I got Charles a stroller which has enabled us to go on some longer walks. I don’t know who enjoys the walks more between him or I. And with being able to exercise more and not taking prednisone anymore, he has even lost a couple of pounds! This is great news for the long-term health of this lil short-legged tripawd boy.

In November, Charles celebrated his 7th birthday. This is a HUGE milestone given all of the health issues that he has had in the last three years. From a liver failure diagnosis and “grim” prognosis in February of 2016, followed by leg amputation in September of 2018, to see his seventh birthday was a great blessing. And since Charles is feeling so well, I took him to PetCo for the first time ever to pick out some birthday gifts. I got him seven things for seven years. He was a very happy pup. 🙂

Furthermore, Charles has now gained some real fame by being selected as a top 4 finalist in the Barkchshler, an online series by one of the Try Guys. Charles now has over 50K followers on instagram. I am trying to use his account to be an inspiration to his followers as well as to show people how well tripawd dogs can get along!

As if that wasn’t enough, as you can see, Charles’s third eyelid was more prominent and red than I knew it should be at the start of last week (and it had been for several weeks at this point). I made the decision to have him seen by an opthamologist, and what they observed was that he had some cloudiness in his vitreous humor (the fluid that fills they eye), indicating that there were inflammatory cells in his eye. He was prescribed some steroid eyedrops for a few weeks to see if the issue resolves itself. After just over a week, the third eyelid has gone back to normal and we need not worry about him having cherry eye and needing an additional surgery! I will wait for official word on this when we go to the vet again in January to get his liver values checked and also let the doctors re-evaluate his eye.

In the meantime, it is about time to start traveling for the holidays. I want to say thank you so much to the tripawd community. You have been so supportive and I don’t know where I would be without the strength and encouragement that I receive from this little family. I wish you and all of your tripawds the happiest of holidays. Travel safely and we will see you next year!

Another trip to the veterinarian…

It seems to never end…

We went for yet another vet visit today. However, this was unrelated to the lost limb. Charles has been weened off of several medications he was previously on for his paw, and now his allergies seemed to be out of control. My poor buddy is so itchy. He has had to remain in his e-collar because when he is not in it, he is gnawing on his paws. Charles has even been waking me up consistently around 4:00 a.m. in the morning because he is so itchy. The first couple of times he did this, he would go outside and stop to gnaw on his feet ever few steps. It was heart-wrenching to watch this behviour.

So we made it back to dermatology today and they offered a new solution: an injection of monoclonal antibodies that bind to one of the proteins in the biosynthetic pathway responsible for the itch response. Let me tell you, this stuff is amazing. We are already able to hang out sans e-collar and it’s only been a few hours.

Additionally, the doctors found some bacteria and yeast on his skin and feet, so we are doing a bath every other day with special shampoo and using other topical treatments on the other days. It is going to be an interesting month until we go back for Charles’ re-check!

In the meantime, you can enjoy this video I made of Charles! He recently gained a mild amount of fame by being featured in a Try Guys (formerly of Buzzfeed) video. This is the result from this series. 🙂

 

 

Bandage off, bandana on!

Freeeeeedom!

Charles Avocado VanGogh got his bandage off on Monday! He definitely looks more comfortable without it on, but also maybe a little too ambitious at times. He tried to do the *rolly around on the floor on my back* thing and cried and had to stop because his stitches are probably pulling yet. We may or may not have played a little bit of soccer (just a couple of short throws) because he is demanding to play. It has been raining here though, so I’ve had to be creative in finding a way to let him out to potty while also keeping his incision dry. He’s a trooper throughout it all.

I have ordered a stroller to use when he needs breaks on walks. It arrives today and if it isn’t raining later today I might see if he would like to just be pushed around in it since it is too soon to actually go on walks. 🙂

Sutures come out in 10ish days. Then we can start wearing the Ruffwear harness and going on walks. Getting excited over here!

My bubby is home!

Charles came home with me on Thursday late afternoon. I had so many questions to ask them. Admittedly, I felt kind of silly asking some of the questions. But you know what they say, “The only stupid question is the question that goes unasked”.

The doctors confirmed for me that the leg was sent to pathology for biopsy and culture. They are hoping that the biopsy will be able to tell them whether or not it was indeed vasculitis, so we have yet to receive any answers as far as that is concerned.

With all of the medications that Charles came home with and the different timings, I spent a few minutes making a schedule so we could make sure that he gets all of the meds that he needs when he needs them.

I noticed when Charles got home that his face was pretty swollen, so I frantically called ISU vet med right away. They told me simply to monitor his breathing and make sure he could still swallow food/water. So me, the anxious doggo mom that I am, watched him meticulously. He was panting a little bit, so I texted my friend who is currently a 3rd year in the vet med program to figure out the difference between panting and wheezing. I decided he was just normal panting due to being warm from the bandage. I loosened his e-collar so it would fit over his swollen head easier and became suspicious that maybe it was too tight. Sure enough, the next morning his face was no longer swollen.

Charles’ swollen face. 🙁 He looked like he had eaten a bumblebee.

I slept with a dim light on all evening with him at the foot of my mattress on the floor (which has always been my bed arrangement with him so he can easily get up and down from my bed). With my head a the foot of my bed, I couldn’t tell you how many times I awoke through the night to make sure he was still there and still breathing. I wasn’t joking about being an anxious doggo mama. In the morning, I got out of bed and knelt beside him. Charles was still zonked. I started to softly speak to him and he awoke startled and crying and ran over to me. We had to spend some time snuggling on the floor so he felt better before I continued to get ready for the morning.

Another issues we have been having since Charles came home is that he doesn’t seem to be in complete control of his anus. He overall is holding most of the poop in (he has had some nice, big poops outside); however, there are little drops of poop that continually come out of his butt and fall on the floor that I have to pick up. Thankfully his poops have hardened up a bit since he first came home and things are not as messy, but it is still frustrating. Obviously I’m not frustrated at him. He goes in for a bandage change on Monday, so if it is still happening by that point I will talk to the doctor about it.

Chillin’ on the floor waiting for his grandma to arrive this morning!

My mom came to visit Charles and I for the weekend. We are so loved by our family. I also received get-well-cards in the mail from my grandparents and my dad. They were really precious and I nearly cried. We are so lucky to have such a loving and supportive family.

I think Charles is really getting the hang of being a tripawd very quickly. He even has been so motivated as to try and play with his soccer ball or think about jumping up on the couch. He even has his new Ruffwear harness with the handles so I can help him as needed. We are ready to take on the world, three paws at a time!

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