Springing into 2020

To say that this winter has been long does not even begin to describe just how tedious the cold and snow has been this year. Charles enjoys the snow, but it is really difficult to get him outside to do any substantial amounts of exercise in when there is salt on the pavement and sharp or slippery ice on the ground! It just isn’t safe for a little tripawd boy like Charles. In the following blog post, I would like to share with you what we have done this winter to pass our time indoors and prepare for the longer days and warmer weather!

1. The Chair

When Charles and I were planning our move back to Illinois and looking for a house to rent, I was left with the daunting task of filling said house with furniture. FURNITURE. As a thirty-year-old human, I have never had to worry about providing all of my own furniture before. Luckily, my family has always been great about hand-me-downs (especially since I was in school for so long). My Meema and Grandpa had upgraded their reclining chairs in their living room a little over one year ago, displacing their old recliners. Meema did not like the way these displaced recliners took up so much more space in her finished basement and asked if I would like them for our living room.

As you can see, I gladly accepted, and the chairs look great in the living room! “My chair” is my Grandpa’s old chair. I can tell by the grease/soil stains on the arm of the chair from years of hard work on the farm. Now, Charles loves this chair. The stinker helps himself up there (despite my best efforts for him to let me help him up). He usually lets me help him down. I think my Grandpa, who we lost last May, would be pretty happy that Charles loves his old chair so much.

2. The Snuggles

While this past winter has not been as extremely cold as the last one, Charles has still made this a cozy and snuggly winter. Not only has he spend a lot of time in and out of the human bed at night getting those snuggles in (an activity that is limited to cold weather), but he has also been more snuggly on the couch, as seen above. You can also see how he makes himself comfortable on the back of the couch to sleep.

And I had to treat Charles to a new bed for the living room. I think I got more than I bargained for with this bed. It is quite large, but that gives him plenty of room to sprawl out and still keep some toys and his blanket in the bed with him.

 

3. The Watcher of the Window

Also during the winter (and anytime he is inside), Charles can be seen as a regular fixture atop the back of the couch. This is the best place to lay to have an all-access perspective of the front yard, and thus, do a heckin’ protec. My partner gets home before I do in the evenings, and you can see here how Charles will just sit, watch, and wait for me to get home in the evenings. He is, indeed, my best friend.

 

 

4. Winter Training for that Summer Beach Bod

While getting exercise outside can be difficult for Charles in the winter, we did discover what activities work best for exercise indoors. SOCCER. More specifically, monkey-in-the-middle. Charles is not as keen to play good ole fashioned fetch anymore. He is more motivated by the constant chase. Above you can see he got two new soccer balls this winter for running indoors. And below you can see just how excited he is to be playing his favorite game.

The romping and running around the house playing soccer is so much fun. With the help of runners throughout the house, we do our best to make sure he has maximum fun while staying safe! Here is evidence as to just of effective this mode of exercise is for this short-legged tripawd boy:

 

 

 

5. Spring is in the Air

This past weekend, we got our first glimpse of the forthcoming spring season! We took Charles on his first substantial walk of the year and he was READY TO GO. The smile on this boy’s face said it all. He had SO MUCH FUN. We walked to a local park to try and play some soccer. Suffice to say that the walk to the park pooped him out and playing soccer did not really happen. We’ve got to get his paws conditioned for being outside more, too. His front paw had developed a little owie, which I will keep an eye on. But that did NOT slow him down. Dogs (especially Charles) never cease to amaze me.

 

 

We wish you and yours a happy (almost) Spring!

New Year, Same Charles

With the end of 2019 and ushering in of the new year, Charles has some great photos to share. First, we celebrated his 8th birthday on November 24th! It is difficult to believe that he is 8 and that it has been nearly 4 years since receiving a liver failure diagnosis. This little dude is a rockstar. Pictured below is Charles as a puppy and a great closeup of his eight-year-old face. If you ask me, he has only gotten more handsome over time.

Baby Charles, just nine-weeks-old, meeting me for the first time.

 

Charles is now eight-years-old!

We also contend with late fall/winter weather in the Midwest. When it is chilly, it is time for more snuggles. Here is a photo of Charles getting some of those good snuggles before the holidays!

When it is cold in the Midwest during wintertime, it is snuggle time.

Of course, no holiday season would be complete without some great photos in front of the tree. This is Charles’s first Christmas tree. He enjoyed laying on the tree skirt!

Modeling around the Holiday Tree

 

Charles wearing his winter pajamas

We spent almost two weeks at home on the farm at my Meema’s house. Charles loves staying at Meema’s because she spoils him with eggs and treats and he loves the fancy recliners at her house.

Charles relaxing at Meema’s house while we were home on the farm for the holidays

Charles had a quiet new year’s celebration, but looked great in his party hat. He is ready to take on 2020!

New Year Party Boy

Now that the holiday season is over, we are back at home and into our regular schedule. When we are home on the farm, he is a very busy and always on alert. I think that he probably enjoys getting back into our regular routine. But I miss him like h*ck when I’m gone all day at work.

2020 has begun and it is time to get back to work!

 

Peace, love, and tripawds.

Proofs of Charles Avocado enjoying life this fall

Proof 1:

Charles has been a busy pup this fall, with no end in sight. But dang if this boy isn’t determined to live his best life! It is officially fall, and Charles is pulling out all of the stops to show how basic he is, and he has no shame in it! Proof:

Loving life as a basic tripawd pup. PSL in paw and flannel bandana for fashion.

Proof 2:

A few weeks ago, we went on a little romp on a walking trail after a vet appointment. This little dude is amazing. I brought along his K9 Sportsack, thinking he would want to take some breaks. Of course, he couldn’t care less. We simply needed to stop and let him rest occasionally. When he did get into the K9 Sportsack, he was an InstaGOON. For some reason, he acts like his head is too heavy to hold up and kind of lets it hang back. Could this be a function of only having one front paw? Maybe. But he still enjoys it (I think). Proof:

Just letting his head hang limp in his K9 SportSack
It takes a lot of work to get him to actually hold his head up for a picture like this. What a goon.

Proof 3:

This happy boy really loves to frolic through grass. Sure he gets tired, but look at that smile. Also, look at that booty! He is having a great time!

One happy and tired tripawd.
Floofer buns.

Proof 4:

Charles and I have even started to get out and explore our new town on foot! Again, there is plenty of grass for him to romp through when he isn’t riding in his stroller. Once we get downtown I keep him in the stroller a bit more for fear of the concrete being to tough on his one little short front leg. But I cannot pass up the opportunity to get a cute little photo of this boy on one of our evening strolls. Proof:

What. A. Babe.

Proof 5:

Of course, Charles has been very good and patient with me as we have been traveling a lot this past month. The past four weekends we have been on the road, and he has been a trooper through it all. I have to give him trazadone to help with his anxiety in the car so he can mellow out. It really makes him a much better riding buddy. Charles handles this very well, and for that I am grateful. I have accepted that he will be traveling with me for work and staying in hotels because I cannot stomach the idea of leaving him in at a kennel while I am gone with all of his special needs. Plus, after nearly eight years of life, he has never experienced anything like that. I think it would be too stressful. So instead, I will have the best roommate whenever I stay in hotels as I travel for work. What a dream! Proof:

A great passenger in the car when he is less anxious thanks to medication.

Proof 6:

Belly rubs and nail trims. While Charles isn’t one of those dogs that rolls over begging for belly rubs, he doesn’t really turn them down when the opportunity arises. I put a medicated anit-microbial foam on his tummy and paws when he is having flare ups of itchies, and to do that I need him on this back, belly up. AND thanks to the “Nail Maintenance for Dogs” Facebook groups, I was able to desensitize Charles to nail trimming and actually use a dremmel to grind his nails, and he is SO GOOD. Both of these things put him on his back, which opens up to belly rubs. He is a happy boy and really doesn’t mind. And I like seeing his left front paw, lovingly named Franklin S. Foot (S. stands for Submarine because his little paw reminds us of a submarine scope). Proof:

Proof 7:

Charles is such a great boy to me and tolerates my being an overbearing, obsessive dog mom. He puts up with all of the photoshoots, baby talk, waving, rustling of the furs… everything. Of course i, the obsessive dog mom, needed to have a phone case with my boy on it… well… actually a second phone case with Charles on it (but they are very different cases!) and I had to get this guy to pose with it. Proof:

Charles posing with my phone case with his face on it.

 

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 followers). With this newfound platform to share Charles’s inspirational story, we continue 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 brining 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 plushies 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.

No more tummy problems and Charles is finally starting to feel better!

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.

With itchies finally under control, Charles can enjoy being outside in the fall without a care !

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.

This boy loves his stroller
Nothing but smiles for Charles in his stroller. It gives him a chance to take a break on his remaining front leg while we are on walks!

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. 🙂

Seven gifts for seven years. Happy seventh birthday to Charles!

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!

Charles posing with his Barkchshler goodies at the start of the competition.

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!