If this is the your first visit to Gunny's page you might want to scroll to the bottom and read his story from the beginning!
Just got a confirmation email last night that Gunny won the World's Most Amazing Dog contest! No details, just the email which stated that they would contact us soon. I'll let you know when I know more. Thanks again to everyone for all of your help and support in getting Gunny the votes he needed to win!
Gunny went on his first long road trip for Thanksgiving. His car rides have never been over 45 minutes. This was a 2 day trip to include as much visiting as possible, and it took until hour 3 of the first leg for Gunny to finally sit down. There was lots of panting and leaning, and several rest stops to try and calm him down a little. Thankfully, he caught on----maybe he used Oscar's fantastic traveling skills as a model to emulate---and he progressed to sitting and leaning. By the second leg of our "to" trip, he experimented with laying down. By our trip back to NC, he was doing a lot of laying down....unfortunately, much of it was on top of Oscar. God Bless that dog, he tolerated it without a peep.
One of our stops allowed us to catch up with some friends, who brought their dogs to the mix, which meant 5 male dogs in the house. The Boys were wonderful guests, and got along with everyone...even the grumpy dogs. Both of The Boys were very happy to be spending the night with a 16 month old human, and there was lots of licking going on. A few family members of friends who admitted to being 'terrified of pitbulls" were easily won over to the Good Side by The Boy----seriously, how could they NOT be, right?
Gunny's contest continues until midnight on November 30th. Just for fun, google Vote For Gunny or Gunny Facebook Pages to see how far reaching his internet presence is.
Tuesday, November 17th:
Below is a link to a short clip from the news program on the TV station the school district owns/runs...it will give you a very SMALL glimpse into just how excited the kids were/how impeccably Gunny behaved.
Friday, November 6th:
spent 2.5 hours at elementary school this AM. I think I now know what
Oh My Goodness! It was insane in a great way! 90% of the adults that were
dropping kids off or signing in to watch the awards assembly either asked me
"oh, is that Gunny?" or said "hey there's Gunny....my kid hasn't stopped talking
about him since this program got started." At one point, the A.P. finally
mumbled under his breath to me "No, that's not Gunny, that's Frank, our other
Pitbull that we keep here at the school!" It was pretty funny.
There were 2 assemblies, K-2 and later 3-5. We decided there was no way the kids
would be able to sit through the awards and wait for the Gunny part, so he went
first. One of the teachers had set up a laptop/projector and played a slideshow
of a bunch of (happy) Gunny pix during the whole assembly. I did a very brief
intro, and then we did Q & A from the teachers (kids had written questions ahead
of time). At the end, a student was selected from each grade to come on stage
with their teacher and toss Gunny a cookie for a game of catch.
In the K-2 assembly, we were already on stage as the kids filed in. They are the
quieter, more rule-following group, so they stayed quiet, would wave at Gunny as
they passed, maybe whisper "hey Gunny" like they'd known him all their lives.
They brought a few posters. When the microphone first started, Gunny was
fascinated with the speaker that was beside us, then it was old hat. When our
part was done and we walked out, the principal told the kids to wave good-bye,
which they silently did, then out of habit she said "Ok, say 'bye to Gunny" and
350 kids screamed at the top of their lungs "BYE GUNNY!"...Gunny stopped, cocked
his head, thought it over, and wagged his tail. No big deal.
While waiting for the next assembly, I was told that on the early AM
announcements, three 4th graders went on closed circuit TV and did a cheer for
Gunny. They had been working on it all week, practicing at lunch/recess, got to
school really early this AM to practice before announcements. They did it all on
their own, the words, the dance, everything. Right before I left, their teacher
brought them to the office to show Gunny and me, and oh wow, I wish I had it on
video. It was really elaborate, had an intro, talked about Gunny, talked about
voting, had some good moves...it was priceless.
In the 3-5 assembly, the principal had me wait behind the curtain as the kids
filed in. Some kids could see us through the crack in the curtain and I could
see them pointing and bouncing around. I came out unannounced to try to give
Gunny a minute to get used to the hub-bub before we got started (the bigger kids
were LOUD). I guess the kids were paying attention, because as soon as I pulled
back the curtain, they went NUTS. Like Miley Cyrus concert nuts. Again, 350
kids, SCREAMING and whistling and clapping. There were some video cameras there,
so hopefully somebody caught it, it was priceless. Gunny froze for about 1/2 of
a second, and then just smiled and wagged. The principal asked the kids to hold
up their posters and signs, and there were so many, it blocked my view of the
kids---it was like a baseball game where all the fans hold up a piece of a
puzzle and it makes a big picture...there were photos of gunny (and Hope)
everywhere, all sizes, all shapes, some made of dog bones shapes all glued
together. Of course another roar went up as they showed off their signs, kids
were on their feet, jumping up and down. One of the classes brought Gunny a box
of treats, one brought a bag of dog food for the rescue. As they were brought up
on stage, I heard a teacher trying to get my attention, and turned to see a
little boy raising his hand and holding a ziploc bag with 3 big milk bones that
he had brought from home for Gunny.
The bigger kids asked good questions, one was about Hope and how Gunny helped
her. I got to talk on a tiny scale about dog fighting, the kids all seemed to
know what it was, and one boy yelled out emphatically "IT IS ILLEGAL!!!!!" which
made me smile and give him kudos. I'm sure I said things that some of the kids
would never have heard anywhere else, about rescue, adoption, how fighting dogs
are not bad dogs, but what the people do to them to make them fight is bad.
No media showed up, but our district (which is HUGE) has its own TV channel, and
they did send a camera guy out. He interviewed the principal and me together
about the voting program, the
of responsibility and how
Gunny/voting fits in, and about Gunny's contest. He had a student come and hold
up the big poster he had made for Gunny, got lots of camera time of Gunny. Was
very appreciative of how good Gunny is on camera, and I told him he's had lots
of practice! He also seemed impressed with the answers we gave him. He did come
to the asembly to film the older kids, and got footage of the kids tossing the
treats for Gunny to catch as well as the Q & A and the signs. He took the link
to vote for Gunny and said he will make some sort of graphic to run in the news
piece so that more people can vote. Apparently it will be on their station
starting Monday or so, but they will also get it up on the website...said that
may take a couple weeks.
I think one of the cutest things was how at home Gunny was in the school's
office...kids would come through, teachers would come through, they'd just nod
and say "hey Gunny" like he was the newest staff member.
Some visiting adults took the cards with Gunny's link and planned to pass it on.
People were using their phones to take pictures of Gunny and email them to
friends/family. And it was noted how good he is for pictures...again, I told
them, he has experience! One teacher approached me about adopting Pitbulls in
our area (hers was just PTS last week) and plans to have us help her when she's
ready for another one. Another teacher approached me about volunteering with the
rescue. 2 maintenance men from downtown were there to do repairs, and they took
pictures with their phones, took cards, and one sent the link and the photo to
his HS sophomore daughter to get the voting started at her school.
It was beyond fun, and beyond sweet. I thought I'd be nervous, but I wasn't at
all. I think it was a great mini practice to see what Gunny would think of a
parade crowd...you know, hypothetically speaking, like say The Rose Parade.
Hopefully I'll have pictures or video to share soon!
Friday, October 30th:
The contest continues to roll on with some amazing momentum. I found out yesterday that there is a little girl in
's voting link to all of her classmates. Add that to Gunny's "cousins" (my niece and nephew) in Indiana who have been doing the same thing at their schools since the beginning. We've gotten feedback from the UK, Ireland, Germany and
from supporters and voters there. And of course, all over the US. Lots of nice emails of support have been rolling in, with many people telling us of the huge numbers of friends and contacts they are sending Gunny's link onto. His
Group membership was at 60 the last time I checked (and we had nothing to do with setting that up, that came from a sweet college girl in Oklahoma---who we've never met--- who volunteered to set it up for us).
So, thanks you for all of the votes, and please continue to spread the word. We'll keep you posted on the process, and on all the other fun things that we encounter as we continue to enjoy this journey.
Thursday, October 22nd:
HAVE YOU VOTED FOR GUNNY TODAY????
(Please use the link on our home page)
So, I'm guessing by now you may have heard the hub-bub about Gunny's latest endeavor. He's taken on the World's Greatest Dog Contest in an attempt to secure a year's worth of free food for his foster sister Hope, and NMAR. If he wins, he will also be heading to
to ride in the Rose Parade, which I think would be a PRICELESS opportunity to spread the word about
, dog fighting and bait dogs.
We're on a bit of a roller coaster, as Gunny achieved First Place sometime last night, and as of now, he's still got it. Unfortunately, a little dog has come out of nowhere in the last 12 hours, and is close behind. I cannot believe how many people are, once again, helping Gunny out. Today I heard that Gunny has a group of supporters in
! There is also a group of California
, whom I have never met, who are already plotting their trips to the Rose Parade to meet Gunny if he wins!
So, thank you to all of you for voting, and for spreading the word. Many of you have told us that you've posted the link to your
pages, and have emailed everyone you know. That is huge, and we appreciate it very much! Please continue to remind people to vote. Personally, I am working with some teacher I know about the possibility of using Gunny's journey as a part of their studies...
work of voting, math work of calculating and comparing results, etc etc etc. Maybe you can do something similar if you are a teacher? I also plan to create a signature on my personal email with Gunny's link, asking "Have You Voted For Gunny Today?"....if you are so inclined, please feel free to do the same!
Fingers crossed everyone...we have a long way to go until November 30th when the contest closes!!
Tuesday, June 23:
As you may have read in Hope's Journal, today Gunny was a part of a big trip to the
of Piedmont Natural Gas here in Charlotte. As a component of the Lunch and Learn that Beth and I spoke at, I put together a new slideshow of Gunny's story, complete with some VERY cute new pictures.
Of course Gunny was a hit, as always. That's sort of a given, right? : )
So, I get home from work the other day, and as I breeze through the kitchen, I do a quick visual check of the dogs in their crates. Three crates, three faces peering out....or at least that's what I am *supposed* to see. I stop dead halfway across the kitchen and let my brain catch up with my feet. Two faces are calmly looking out at me from
's crate. Gunny and
Linc the Cat
were sitting side by side, just as calm as can be, looking at me. It took me a second to figure out how this came to pass...with Linc, there is no telling---seriously, if a cat could open a
and lock himself inside, it would be him that pulled it off.
What must have happened is that Linc was napping in Gunny's crate when I told Gunny to go night-night that morning. Linc didn't bother to move as Gunny bull-dozed his way in, and the crate is huge, so I never noticed Linc curled up in the dark, back corner when I shut gates. When I told my friend this story she laughed and said "I can just see Linc now, waking up from his nap to find the gate shut and him locked in the crate for the day...I bet he muttered 'oh, well, crap' before going back to sleep spooned in with Gunny."
Thank goodness I didn't accidentally lock him in with Hope! She would have tortured him all day! Needless to say, I am double checking her crate every time I lock her in. My cats all seem to enjoy the "caves" I have left for them in the kitchen, so no telling who may be lurking where
May 4, 2009:
Wow, it feels like forever since I have done a Gunny update. Just wanted to say thanks for all the support at yesterday's Sunday Fun Day. Gunny's hug booth earned NMAR $131.60----fantastic, huh? Needless to say, the Celebrity was pretty tired Sunday night!
It was great talking with all of his established, and new, fans. We got to tell his story, dispel myths about his breed, and share some favorite Pitbull memories. Lots of hugs and kisses for the little kiddos, who he absolutely ADORES!
I think the most bittersweet moment was when a family came over to visit, and a very cute, curly-haired, wise-beyond-her-years preschooler pet Gunny and asked me what happened to his leg. To try to spare little ones at least some of the nightmares, I tell them that some mean people didn't take good care of Gunny and let other dogs hurt him. That his leg was hurt very badly and the doctors couldn't make it better. Then I hope that they move on to happier questions or stories. This little girl listened very intently, bent down and started petting the hip of Gunny's missing leg. She looked up at me with a very serious face and didn't say a word. When she started to speak, I expected another question or some typical, disjointed, 4 year old response like "I am going to be an astronaut when I grow up." Instead, in a thoughtful, adult tone, she said "I am very sorry that people were mean to your dog." Wow, that about killed me. Not sure how I didn't start crying.
From Hell To A Hero - - - Gunny's Article
11-29-08: Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! Gunny and Oscar, Linc The Cat, Millie and Tobbles had some extra family time with out of town guests, and loved every minute of it!
Look for an article in The Charlotte Observer tomorrow (Sunday 11-30-08) about the End Dog-Fighting Program...Karen Sullivan, the lady who wrote the first article about Gunny, is running this story about the program. She plans to mention Gunny's role as the Ambassador/Spokesdog. Gunny will be making his first appearance at a meeting on December 13th, in order to show the horrible after-effects of this disgusting, and illegal, "activity". We'll keep you posted on how it goes.
If you have a minute, after you read the article, drop a letter to the editor, and thank them for allowing Karen to write these important stories. From what I have seen/heard, most papers want nothing to do with positive Pitbull press, so Karen and The Observer should be thanked by all of us.
11-11-08: Gunny has some very big news to share! This weekend, he was invited to be the Official Ambassador/Mascot/Spokesdog/PR Pup for a new program that is just getting started here in Charlotte. After I saw a news clip about the program, and got in touch with its Director about volunteering, it came to light that I was the Mom of an, apparently, very famous pup. The program's Director put two and two together, realized I was Gunny's Mom, and was doubly excited by my interest to volunteer. Some of you may have met her, her husband, and their Bull Mastiff, Sully, out at our event on Saturday. She has run her idea past those in charge in Chicago, and Gunny has gotten the green light to assume his new role.
The program was recently approved for our area a few months ago, and is called End Dog Fighting In Charlotte. It is a Humane Society of The United States sponsored program with roots in Chicago. Charlotte is the second city where this new program is being attempted, and since our approval, things are also starting to get underway in Atlanta. Pretty exciting that Charlotte is going to help pioneer this program.
The focus is education and early intervention. Shockingly, dog fighting has developed startling popularity with school-aged kids, who are fighting their family Pitbulls in the streets in front of their homes after school. This program reaches out to the kids before they start down that path, and pulls in role models from their neighborhoods, including clergy, as well as other kids who refuse to fight their own dogs in spite of harassment by dog fighters. It's all about reaching these kids where they live, with the support of people they can relate to and respect. In addition to education about why dog fighting is wrong, there is also education about how to properly care for a dog, access to shot clinics provided by Char-Meck Animal Control, and 10 week training sessions for the kids and their dogs. The entire program is outlined and monitored by the founders in Chicago, who fly out regularly to help us get started here in Charlotte.
Apparently, I was the first official volunteer, not counting Gunny. If you think you might like to help us out, now is a fantastic time to jump in. All the specifics are still getting ironed out, but it would be great to compile a list of potential volunteers to contact when events start happening, education sessions with the kids get going, and presentations get started, etc etc etc.
The lady in charge of the game here in Charlotte is Vickie Hughes and her contact information is
Let her know you're a member of the Gunny Fan Club! It will be really exciting to see how all the folks heard about the program.
November 10, 2008: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GUNNY! He is three years old today! In honor of his name, and the history thereof, my Dad (who actually name him, if you'll recall), asked to set his birthday for November the 10th...the birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
Thanks to all of you who came out to our event on Saturday and made a point to meet our big celebrity. He had a blast, and was WORN OUT that night. Gunny came home, ate dinner (which he does in his crate) and never left his crate after that...just fell straight to sleep. I woke him up to potty about 9pm, and then he was out like a light once more. Usually, he hears me wake up in the mornings, and comes to see me, but on Sunday morning, there was no Gunny. Oscar and I went out to the kitchen and found Gunny piled in pillows on the couch, dead to the world. Oscar had to actually lick Gunny's face for about 30 seconds to wake him up! It is hard work being a celebrity!
10-23-08: My sincerest apologies for not giving more post-surgery updates on Gunny The Great. There has been a lot on the household's plate lately, and obviously, that affected my ability to keep Gunny's Gang in the know.
He is doing fantastic---absolutely fit as a fiddle. His stitches were removed 14 days after surgery, and he marched back into the exam room without a care in the world. Amazing, considering how much he did NOT like being there for his overnights. Gunny couldn't seem to snuggle with the surgeon enough, though he tried his hardest, and ended up in the man's lap for lots of love and scratches---multiple times! Talk about not holding a grudge!
Gunny has a very faint scar that blends in with the spot where the white and red hair meets on his neck...it's actually well camouflaged. All of the swollen areas appear to be gone for good...he is finally free of that mess under his tongue and that grapefruit in his neck. It's so nice to peek in his mouth and see, well, a normal mouth! And to get the collar over his neck without any worries or trouble!
I have every intention of bringing Gunny to NMAR's big upcoming event at the Harley dealership on November 8, 2008. I think he'll be quite pleased to play the role of celebrity and visit with all of his fans. Please come and see him/meet him...you'll make his day, as he never seems to feel like he has had enough snuggles or attention on any given day. Hope to see you there!
9-20-08: Gunny came home yesterday afternoon. Everything went very well, and the only "not quite perfect thing" was that he wouldn't eat and was very, very depressed while he was at the hospital. They told me that they offered him all kinds of exciting stuff....canned chicken---cold and heated!--, peanut butter, cheese, baby food with chicken in it, plus the typical good and smelly canned dog food, but no luck. They were able to get just enough food into him to keep him on his medicine schedule, and that only happened when they started pills versus shots about 2 hours before he was due to come home! The lady who discharged us showed me the documentation they keep on all the animals in the ICU, how they check the pet every 60 minutes and make notations on whether they are awake or asleep. Gunny woke up from his surgery about 4pm on Thursday and didn't go back to sleep until 7AM on Friday. Then he only slept for a few hours. Poor guy. She said he was laying down, but not sleeping. When she met me at my car with him, he was, according to her, a 100 times more animated than he was for them...but he was still a very, very, very, mellow version of Gunny to me. So he must have been a regular Eeyore for them!
I haven't had any issues getting him to eat since he has been home. The staff pretty much expected that he would be a different dog once he got home. He's been sleeping well, and seems to have forgotten that he had surgery---I have to keep a close eye on him or he is instigating a wrestling match with Oscar, playing tag with Linc The Cat, or trying to "kill" some of his toys. All are big no-no's, as I am supposed to keep him quiet as well as keep him from looking side to side too much, as this can make his swelling much worse. He has a very long incision up the center of his neck, and the right side of his face/under his neck is really, really swollen. He looks like a Mastiff with some big ol' jowls! He is wearing his lampshade at night and when I am not watching him...don't want him scratching out those stitches---that thought makes me shudder! He was a bit more clingy yesterday when I tried to take Oscar out, but I am hoping that was just him being out of sorts from all the "stuff" involved in the previous 2 days. Hopefully the good night sleep he got last night and all his meals have reset his clock and he'll be OK with me running some errands today.
We go back for suture removal in 12 days. Until then, he is just on Rimadyl for inflammation and pain, and gets warm compresses to the area 3x/day until the swelling goes down. No antibiotics, as they gave him 2 shots of really strong stuff while he was at the hospital, and they said that it lasts a long time. So far, so good.
9-19-08: Gunny's surgeon called me early yesterday afternoon to say that Gunny handled his surgery and anesthesia well. Before the time of surgery, he did not cry or scream or get anxious at all. The surgeon was able to do all of his work through Gunny's neck, he did not need to do anything additional under his tongue as he anticipated he would have to do. All of that swelling was not actually (just) the glands being swollen...in addition, spit has "leaked" out and made huge pockets in random areas of tissue. When he removed all the damaged areas and glands from Gunny neck, he checked under Gunny's tongue and found that a big enough hole remained (I am assuming the one from Gunny's first surgery) that the pockets under the tongue drained themselves, and he did not need to make any additional drainage holes. There is not a danger of these areas "re-filling" as all the near-by glands are now gone, and there is nothing to make the spit that could fill those areas. The surgeon was great, explained all of this in detail, like he had all the time in the world for Gunny's worried (and relieved!) Mom. Gunny was under anesthesia for a little over an hour.
Of course I called and checked on Gunny before I went to bed last night, and I spoke with someone in the ICU. Gunny was doing well but was showing a tendency towards that anxiety I had worried about. I was very impressed to hear that Gunny's surgeon had left them instructions and medication options to handle many different scenarios, not just the standard pain needs. I'm not sure if he is always that holistic in his care, or if he just really listened to The Mom about Her Kid, but either way, he gets a LOT Of extra points for that. He left orders for a mild sedative as needed in case Gunny got anxious. The girl I spoke with told me that Gunny is on Morphine for pain, and also on Acepromazine ("Ace") as a sedative if he needs it. They were not keeping him knocked out with the Ace, but just taking the edge of "so that he will be in a happier place" (to quote her) : ) It sounds like they are following a very comprehensive plan to, because when I asked her "So, is he having a lot of anxiety?" she told me "No, because we aren't LETTING him get to that point." She said that they would respond to any vocalizations from him immediately, taking it as a sign that he needed something. She said he was very good at letting them know if something was wrong. They would try a bunch of avenues...walking him to use the bathroom, taking him out of the cage and loving on him, sitting with him beside the cage, addressing pain meds if it was time, and finally addressing sedative meds if it was time.
This place really does impress me. Unfortunately, it was where I had to put Tim to sleep at midnight when his lymphoma was just too much, but they impressed me A LOT then. Now, a whole different group of people is impressing me now. So, needless to say, I would HIGHLY recommend them (Carolina Veterinary Specialists) for specialty issues, as well as an after-hours emergency. They are in Huntersville on Statesville Rd.
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers....they sure did work! I am expecting a call from the surgeon this AM to hear if he thinks Gunny can come home this afternoon or not. Needless to say, it's another day of cell-on-vibrate-glued-to-my side as I work! ; )
9-16-08: A big thank you to United Animal Nations, an organization that extends grant money for animals in need. I applied for one of their programs just a few days ago. Yesterday, I received word that UAN is sending a $200 check directly to the Huntersville location of Carolina Veterinary Specialists to be put towards the total cost of Gunny's surgery! The maximum potential amount for this grant was $300, so it is very exciting to hear that Gunny was given such a large portion of that money.
Only about 36 more hours until I drop off my boy for this (hopefully) final surgical procedure. Please keep those thoughts and prayers coming for a straight-forward procedure and a speedy, comfortable recovery for Mr. G.
9-11-08: Well, the countdown is on. Gunny's surgery is one week from today. They say this surgery will take care of all of the problems he has been having with this throat once and for all. I am a nervous wreck and have made a bunch of calls to the surgeon to ask last minute questions. My poor boy will come home with a 6" incision along his neck, a specially padded "lampshade" to wear, but only after spending at least one night at the 24 hour vet hospital. All of the damaged glands and tissue will be completely removed this time, and the surgeon will be working in the neighborhood of some very important stuff...arteries, veins and nerves. The surgeon looks at this as a "relatively simple surgery" but the average vet (who also does lots of types of surgeries) says that this is a very delicate deal. That's why God created Specialists I guess, huh?
The surgeon has been wonderful. He is letting me bring Gunny in as late as possible to prep for surgery, in order to accommodate Gunny's anxiety about being alone in strange places. Gunny screamed like a banshee when we went in for our consult and he had to be in a cage in the back for just a few minutes. This fear of his does not help his Mama to feel any better about leaving her boy, that is for sure!
I also recently found out about a parasite that is most prevalent in Pitbulls and Greyhounds called Babesia. It is incurable, though can often be asymptomatic. When it "kicks in" it causes life-threatening anemia. It's a big deal. Apparently it is very common in fighting dogs, as one way it is spread is by bites, and when I spoke with the surgeon about it, he agreed that there is a good chance that Gunny may have it. So, the poor guy may have yet another leftover burden to carry from those horrible days he endured before he was saved. Thankfully this parasite will not affect his ability to have surgery, unless the vet finds him to be anemic on Thursday.
The rescue is really struggling with some very big challenges now, and their decision to pay for Gunny's surgery is huge. If any of you Gunny fans is able to send them a dollar or two, it would be very much appreciated. The estimate the surgeon provided was $2,000-$2,400. If you work for Duke Energy, BOA or Wachovia, your employers do matching donations to NMAR, so please be sure to let the rescue know who you work for. Please make sure you write "for Gunny's surgery" on the memo line of your check so the founders know in which "pot" your money should go. If you know animal-lovers who work for those employers, maybe you could tell them about Gunny's story and direct them to his page? Maybe they would like to help as well?
Thank you for all of you support of this amazing dog. Let's all hope that this surgery will finally let him get on with his life, once and for all!
8-4-06: Another trip to the vet. Drained ALL of that yucky spit this time to see what will happen next. We fully expected those glands to fill back up after our last visit, when the vet just pulled out a bit to make sure it was spit, then referred us to the specialist. Since it did not fill back up, we decided to drain it ALL today and see what Gunny's body decides to do. We want to look at all options, even the ones that don't make sense/aren't following the textbooks! The vet pulled EIGHTY cc's out of the gland that was causing that big swollen area under Gunny's jaw. That is an ENORMOUS amount. Right now, that area is back to being flat, as is the gland under his tongue. The gland under his tongue didn't get perfectly flat even after his surgery, so I bet this feels great to Gunny. Keep up the thoughts, prayers and crossed-fingers!!
8-2-08: Gunny had a very busy week. Family was in town visiting, and both Gunny and Oscar proved the legend of the Pitbull as "family dogs" to be 100% accurate. Oscar couldn't get enough of playing catch with my nephew, and Gunny couldn't get enough snuggle time with any/all of my family members, but especially the kids! He helped with "return to school prep" and gave his thoughts on pre-algebra. He split his time between all the beds of all the guests, but spent every, entire, night in my niece's bed. He finished out the mornings in my nephew's bed after my niece was up and on the go. Any naps that were taken by adults included Gunny worming his way into the bed.
My brother-in-law has never spent such an extended amount of time with my dogs, and just one day into the visit, was talking about stealing both dogs bringing them home. He also got pretty worked up about the Pitbull stigmas and the dog-fighting issues, now that it was so up close and personal for him. Even though I warned him about reactions that can occur when out in public with Pitbulls (due to the ignorance of the general population and the misinformation spread by much of the media), he was really offended when people shied away from Gunny or gave him dirty looks when they were out and about. Apparently on the drive home, he was chatting with friends and telling them about his trip, and managed to work some Pitbull education and myth-debunking into the calls! He's a convert now...used to be a bit cautious and skeptical about the breed, and now is a huge fan. Before they left, he said good-bye to the boys and told them that they had "completely changed (his) mind about Pitbulls". Oscar and Gunny do a lot of that!!
Ozark even got to spend some time with the family on a trip to the National Whitewater Center. He was absolutely 100% reliable around both the kids, and seemed so happy to have them for his own for such a large block of time. Yet another example of how wrong the public has it about these guys. No wonder my brother-in-law is a fan now...can't really argue with Oscar, Gunny and Ozark...those guys are what it's all about.
The Boys were very sad to see the kids leave, not to mention TIRED! They played non-stop with the kids, and about 5 minutes after the family left, they were OUT COLD for 4 solid hours!
You may have heard that Pitbulls used to be referred to as "Nanny Dogs" due to their great ways with kids, and were fantastic family dogs in general. Here are some pictures from this weekend that illustrate just that. None of them were staged by the way, just captured by my sister or me with her ever-present camera! I hope you like them.
7-24-08: No big news had been transpiring, thus, no updates. Gunny continues to attend his obedience classes, and impresses people weekly. He is really being a very good ambassador for his breed. There is no doubt that he is doing his part to dispel the myths that the public hears so often about Pitbulls, from the news, and from uninformed individuals.
Today there was a bit of a new development. Gunny had to go back to the vet who did the surgery on his salivary gland. Unfortunately, it seems that Gunny's procedure fell in the percentage that does not cure the problem permanently. The gland under his tongue has started to overfill again, and the swollen area under his chin (another gland) is now bigger than it was when he first came to NMAR. It had become so big that when Gunny laid on his back and opened his mouth, I could see the gland from his neck area poke up into the back of his mouth! Obviously, I worried about any risk of breathing problems, but at today's appointment, out vet said that is not very likely at all.
So, Gunny's vet has put in a referral to some specialists so that we can get a surgical consult. Unfortunately, the surgeons will not be working in our area until next month, and the schedulers are unable to book appointments too far in advance. So, I am supposed to call next week to set up an appointment for a consultation. At this point, it is looking like there will be more surgery in Gunny's future, just not sure what kind, at what hospital, or with which surgeon! I'm concerned about how involved and/or how risky this will be for Gunny, so I am really looking forward to talking to the specialist. Unfortunately, I am also worried that the word "specialist" implies a more-involved procedure, and thus a much higher bill. NMAR has been very generous and has said that they want to pay for Gunny to get this problem straightened out once and for all. They are hoping that they will be able to pay for Gunny's (hopefully LAST!) surgery with some of the money that was raised for his care, but everyone is a bit worried that there just may not be enough left over from his first two surgeries. I won't hear for a few weeks about the next step in Gunny's journey, but when I do, I will let everyone know.
Thank you again for all of your support of Gunny. It is really overwhelming to go out in public and have people know who he is!
6-30-08: Well, if you've seen Gunny's video, and if you weren't too bleary-eyed from tears by the end of it, you might have caught my Big Revelation. There ain't no way I'm going to be able to give up this dog, so I've left my denial behind and openly admitted that Gunny will not be needing adoption applications afterall. He is my first attempt at fostering, and my first "foster failure", all in one. Apparently foster people getting sucked in by their charges happens often enough in the world of rescue that there is an official term for it...Foster Failure! : ) But in situations like this, failure IS a very GOOD option!
Not only has Gunny wiggled his way into my heart and the hearts of the other residents of my home (and non-resident fixtures in my life!), he has also make it quite clear that he considers all of us HIS family and he has no desire to go live anywhere else. After all he has been through, I just can't stand the idea of sending him off to even the most wonderful of homes, knowing that he will be confused about why I didn't keep him myself.
6-28-08: Gunny started his obedience classes yesterday. We are working with one of my all-time favorite dog trainers, Teresa, up at the Mooresville Petsmart. Petsmart was very generous and donated Gunny's classes. Teresa is phenomenal and has so much experience in so many areas related to dogs. She was invaluable when she worked with me and Oscar, and she has even given me feedback on Ozark when I brought him up there for a visit.
Gunny did a wonderful job, even with 6 other dogs, and 13 humans in the small training area. I think his attention will get much better now that he is strong enough to go out in public for fieldtrips, but that is something that needs work. It was sad to see some obvious "baggage" that popped up from his old life. We had almost beaten his tendency to flinch significantly when touched on the back of the neck, but that popped up again yesterday in class. I think he was nervous in that new environment, and old scars reared their ugly heads. But God bless him, that dog has NEVER shown any defensive behaviors at all, even when startled or scared already. I also noticed something when we were trying one exercise that involved the dog making and holding eye contact with its handler. You do this to hold their focus on you while they wait for the next command. Gunny was very reluctant to hold eye contact at all...lots of blinking and looking down or off to the side, ducking his head like he was afraid. In the dog world, holding eye contact with another dog is a challenge and can escalate an already-bad situation. Gunny must have learned to try every trick in the book to get those dogs to understand that he didn't want to fight with them. Poor baby, it made me so sad to see that glimpse of his old life. At home he does look me in the eye, but we have never really worked on "holding" that eye contact while he waits for an instruction or direction. My thought is that being in an unfamiliar, stimulating environment like Petsmart ups the ante as well as the anxiety, even if the dog APPEARS to be relaxed or "doing OK". I have a feeling that Gunny will quickly get the concepts at home and that will give him the confidence to trust that he can still do it out in public. He is a very different personality than Oscar, and I think I will be learning a lot of new strategies for him. It'll be a great learning opportunity for both of us.
Some of the people in class had actually seen his story on the news or in the paper...they thought it was pretty cool to have a celebrity in class!
6-25-08: A big thanks to everyone who was able to make it out to The Wine Vault for Gunny's Meet and Greet last night! There was a great turnout, and I heard from Beth that NMAR raised a bunch more money for Gunny's vet bills. Fantastic! It was really nice to meet some of you who have been following Gunny's story. People came from all over, some just because they had seen the article in The Charlotte Observer.
Gunny loved all of the attention, and did a fantastic job around all of the humans and dogs. He was actually over-tired when we got home around 11pm. A bit like a kid who is long past due for a nap, but who continues to run around like a whirling dervish. When he finally slowed down for a second, he realized he was pooped, and went to bed around midnight. Oscar woke me up at 7AM to head outside----when he and I walked into the living room, Gunny halfway slid off of the couch to follow us---he was so tired his eyes were just barely open the teeniest bit. I told him "It's OK, if you don't have to go out, just go back to bed" and dang if he didn't climb right back on the couch and pass out! I came back out about an hour later to take him on a walk, and when we got back home, he ate his breakfast and went right to sleep in his crate!
There was a brief clip on Channel 6 news at 11pm, and apparently they repeated it a few times this morning. The man who filmed for them told me he was going to try to "pitch" the story to some people at the station and see if they wanted to do a bigger piece on Gunny. Said he'd call if they went for the idea. Maybe you guys should email Channel 6 and tell them you want a bigger story on Gunny---maybe then they'd do it? I tried to find the story on their website but had no luck.
There's also another video on the Observer's website. Knowing Terry and her advanced computer skills, I bet she'll have links up for you guys soon, if she doesn't already!
6-23-08: The reporter from The Charlotte Observer called today. Everyone look for Gunny's story in tomorrow's paper! They are still deciding which section...if it is in the "Local" section, it will be in everyone's paper. If it is in the "Neighborhood" section, some of you might miss it. However, she did say that it will be online tomorrow as well. Sounds like they hope to have different pictures and a video clip to accompany the online story. So, even if you see it in your morning paper, still go to The Observer's website and check it out there too!
6-22-08: Big night out for Gunny! A friend was needing some "get out of this house" time and we headed out to, of all places, The Wine Vault. Since going to there without a dog is just foreign to me, I decided it would be a good dry-run for ol' Gunny, so I packed him into the car. Of course we were in the middle of a HORRIBLE storm all the way there, and when it came time to get across the parking lot, Gunny was REALLY freaked out about all the rain. He did OK walking around the outside seating area, but when it came time to head in, he was very unsure. But then he saw a yellow Lab sticking his head out the door and he was willing to give it a shot. He and the Lab had a nice little visit, and as has been the case thus far, Gunny was all wags and licks for the other dog. The place was pretty full, and a bit loud, and this was only Gunny's second "community outing". He was pretty antsy and only wanted to be squashed up against me, or tucked in between furniture, at least for the first 5 minutes. He slowly started to warm up, was happy about the attention from the other people sitting in our area, and then found a nice spot to lay on the floor beside my chair. It gave him a good vantage point, kept him safe, but also made him very visible to passing traffic, and just about everyone stopped to say hello. That was when he really figured out that going "out on the town" was really a very fun idea. The manager of the Vault recognized us as soon as we walked in the door, and made trips over to visit him, multiple times, cookies in tow. He socialized with the rest of the staff as well, and by the end of the evening, any time we walked by, I'd hear "GUNNY!!!!" collectively from the staff...remember Norm on Cheers???
Gunny came completely out of his shell in a very short time, and discovered that when there are multiple people sitting around an area on large couches and individuals chairs, the best way to see them all is to stand on the centered coffee table and just make the rounds! That was very funny to watch, but I did have to correct that behavior regardless...didn't figure it was a good one to encourage! He eventually became comfortable enough to just circle the table, making his rounds, climbing on selected laps. All of the patrons got very good at guarding their glasses or bottles from that Pitbull tail as he circulated. I am proud to say, there were NO spills....at least not because Gunny! When the weather cleared, he made his rounds through the outside areas, and even tolerated leaving me to go along with his Aunt Andrea. That was very good for him, as he is VERY attached, and quite vocal when I leave. But last night, there was no "screaming" and very little whimpering. His time with his Aunt gave me a lot of opportunities to chat with people about Gunny's story and his upcoming Meet and Greet. It was a great chance to dispel a lot of the Pitbull Myths, as well as educate people on the horrors of dog fighting. Gunny was the perfect representative and the Living Proof that a lot of these people needed to see. I was happy to see that Oscar was not offended about being left home. He had been feeling a little under the weather the last day or so, and I thought an outing would be too much for him. Plus, it sort of forced Gunny to stand on his own a little bit in a new situation.
6-20-08: Gunny has been doing very well. It's now time for him to have more freedom as far as exercise goes, and I remain optimistic that his remaining hind leg will function as needed and not let him down! He's been having some pretty good wrestling sessions with Oscar, as well as some pretty serious games of Keep Away From Oscar when he picks up a much-coveted toy!
Today was a full day for both boys. First stop, Gunny had to go back for yet ANOTHER vet visit. What the vet originally suspected was Staph infection had not gotten any better and had, in fact, started to spread. Turns out our very sensitive boy appears to have allergic dermatitis, with all this extra Yard Time really aggravating it. So, we left the vet hospital with a topical steroid spray, some medicated shampoo, and instructions to finish out the antibiotics and to "up" the amount of Benadryl he has already been taking. Poor guy, I can't wait for him to get off of all this junk he has had to take!
Everyone at the vet was thrilled to see him and made a huge fuss, much to Oscar's chagrin. Oscar is quite familiar with being the Center of Attention, and although he did get a fair amount of attention, Gunny was clearly in the spotlight. But Oscar is a good sport and held no grudges.
After the vet, we headed up to see Oscar's former trainer and Gunny's soon-to-be trainer at Petsmart in Mooresville. Since Oscar won't be able to attend Gunny's classes, I wanted to show off how well the boys are getting on together. I was looking forward to walking into the store in Dog Whisperer Mode with "my" 2 Pitbulls heeling at my side like they do so often at home. Yea, right! Gunny was SO excited about his first outing, there was no "heeling"....there was "hey, wow, look, COME ON, wow, look, COME ON, look, WHAT IS TAKING YOU TWO SO LONG????" which made Oscar say "Um, if the new kid doesn't have to listen, are you really SURE that *I* need to???". Needless to say, I more slid or skied in behind my 125 pounds of Pitbull as I steered them towards the training area, as opposed to impressing anyone with my skills! But hey, we ended up in the right department, didn't take anyone out, and I never let go, so that was good in my book. Always find the positives. Both boys were very well behaved for all the love and attention from the trainers and staff, and happily sat around or napped while I chatted with our trainer for awhile. They walked (relatively) calmly out of the training area when it was time to leave, and Gunny did a very good job while touring the store. Everyone's hearts did stop for about 2 seconds as I left and this older gentleman's 4-ish pound, shaved yet poofed up, decorated with bows, dog (??) bounded away from him (gotta be hard to control that much dog, right?? heehee) and bounced right up to Oscar and Gunny. Neither Gunny nor Oscar seemed to have any idea what this creature was, and the look on their faces was PRICELESS, but they did get a bit guarded. However, when I told them "boys, friend" they relaxed. Told them "leave it" as the dog (???) was jumping up in their faces trying to lick them. When the man finally reeled in his rogue little attack dog, I gave both "my" boys a good pat and told them how brilliant they were. Our trainer had observed the whole thing and was calling encouragement from across the store "Good boys Oscar and Gunny, good boys!!"
Our last stop was lunch with a friend. Oscar is her buddy, even though she admits to knowing nothing about dogs. She has been holding him for me in the past, when people approached to meet Oscar. It makes me laugh to know that her general response is "This is Oscar. Yes, he is Pitbull. He is a fantastic dog...he even listens to ME and I don't have any clue what I am doing!" Then she often goes on to recite his resume, including his works as a Therapy Dog. She's a very good PR manager! Today she met Gunny for the first time. She came to my car to help me with the boys, and her buddy Oscar walked calmly to the table with her and laid down in the shade beside her chair. He pretty much stayed there for a good 2 hours while we played "catch up". Gunny tried very hard to follow Oscar's lead, and he laid beside me for at least 75% of the time...he couldn't quite pull it off when the waitress came and went though...he REALLY wanted to convince her that she should like dogs! About 50% of the time, the boys would position themselves side by side and I was so praying for some random photographer to come by an get a picture...shoppers would come and go from place to place, look over and just beam with big smiles...these 2 big dogs were just so relaxed, so happy to be near each other, just enjoying a nice day while the humans did whatever it is that humans do. Several people came up and asked to pet them, commenting on how well behaved they were and how friendly. Gunny got several laughs when I would get up to go inside for some reason, he'd yowl and scream like someone was killing him...you could EASILY hear him inside the restaurant. I was mortified and the staff was laughing as I entered the building. They told me he sounded just like a baby. Great! Got to put some work in before he can pull off the "separation" component on the Therapy Dog evaluations, should he ever go for that!
6-14-08: Gunny had two very special visitors yesterday. A reporter and a photographer from The Charlotte Observer came by the house in order to put together a story about our guy's journey! I'll let you know when it is supposed to run in the paper once they give me those details. Both the reporter and the photographer were really impressed with The Little Man and what a great guy he is...of course he was a big ham, as were Oscar and Linc The Cat. Mille and Tobbles kept a low profile, and they may be sorry, as the reporter asked for spelling confirmation of Linc and Oscar's names. Who knows, maybe they'll get some print too!
I finally made a serious effort to contact the paper after we had a date for the Meet and Greet. I figured that having the community turn out to see Gunny might just convince the paper to come. But once they heard his story up to this point, they were already on board and arranging to come out sooner. I thought they'd just show up at The Wine Vault and run the story later, but I was wrong. Turns out that they want to run the story BEFORE the Meet and Greet so that they can spread the word about Gunny and get more fans to come out! They mentioned hoping to raise more money for Gunny and the other NMAR dogs. I think that is really great of them to do. Again, people are really impressing me as I go through this experience with our boy.
I've never dealt with a newspaper before, and had no clue about this interview experience, but I tell you, it was really thorough. The whole experience took about an hour and forty-five minutes! The reporter wanted to hear more and more about Gunny, and his life here at the house, and the rescue's program, and my background. Like I said, very thorough! The reporter took a ton of pictures in a ton of settings, and even videotaped Gunny at play, Gunny with me, and a mini-interview with the reporter. No idea how they will use that. The reporter is trying to get quotes from everyone from the vets to the guests at Oscar's Bday Party! I kid you not! So, to those of you who kept saying "somebody needs to call the paper!", you were right and it's all taken care of! I had no luck thus far with the TV news programs. Not any reply of any kind. Kind of disappointing. Maybe if the story runs early enough in The Observer, we can email it to the news stations??? And if several people do it, they might take note, huh? Worth a shot.
6-12-08: Better day for Gunny. Less pain medicine and no signs of discomfort. I guess I can say less drooling, although there is a good bit. But no more blood and the "yucky colored spit" is about 90% gone. The rehab walks continue, consistently without needing breaks.
I am continuing to be humbled and amazed by the community support Gunny is receiving. We have gotten gift cards--with zero hesitation--from 2 out of 3 local grocery stores that I have approached. That will cover the cost of a cake for Gunny's Meet and Greet. In addition, I just got off the phone with the assistant manager of the Mooresville Petsmart, where one of my very favorite dog trainers now works. She was invaluable with Oscar as he completed all of his obedience and clicker training and prepared for his Therapy Dogs evaluations. This manager agreed to donate a block of training classes with this trainer for Gunny! So, Gunny will be able to get started in 2 weeks! I can't wait for her to meet him...she is already working through her experiences with other dogs who have been missing a limb and preparing to teach me accommodations for Gunny with basic positioning in standard obedience. As it has been with everyone, Gunny's story has so impressed her, and she can't wait to help him in any way she can.
Wow, people can do great and kind things, can't they?
6-11-08: Poor guy had a rough time last evening. The drooling got MUCH worse with much more "yuck" in it, and continued throughout the day today. There are towels strategically placed all over this house in all the potential "settling down spots", because as soon as he rests his chin, there goes the mess. He also seemed really uncomfortable yesterday evening, so I gave him extra pain medicine which made a world of difference. I continued that for today as well, and he had a very good day. A drool-y day, but a good day. He was able to eat his standard amounts, albeit a little slowly. He did take longer than I would have liked to get around to drinking, but he seems to have mastered that now as well. Until he was willing to drink, I tried the ice cube route, and he has become a big fan of those now.
6-10-08: Gunny had his second surgery today. I dropped him off early this morning and he was back in my car by late afternoon. He's a little bit groggy, and a little bit drool-y, but doing well. His surgeon said that they made a big hole for drainage in his affected salivary gland, and stitched the opening back so that it would hopefully STAY open now. The worry is that the body could scar over the opening and we would be back where we started. So, lots of good thought and prayers for success on this one please. It is a very rare occurrence/rare surgery and the outcome of this procedure is 2 out 3 seem to stay open. In the case where this procedure fails, there is another procedure, but it is much more invasive and risky and doesn't sound like something I'd want to put Gunny through. So, let's all just agree that we won't have to consider it at all, ever!!!
Thankfully, as soon as they opened him up, the drainage started and everything was on its way back to normal size. It was as they expected, big pockets of "old spit" in there, not a pretty color, but not full of infection or any foreign materials. So that was good news. Now the poor guy is like a person who's been to the oral surgeon....he'll cough and sputter a little and I have to come running with paper towels to wipe his mouth. There is still a little blood coming out, but that is to be expected, per the vet. Amazingly, he is allowed to have a little of his regular dry dog food tonight, and go back to a full serving tomorrow morning if all stays down. The vet said that eating will stimulate salivation, which will actually flush all of the "yuck" out even faster. So, eating is to be encouraged! Gunny will be on pain medicine again, but just for a few days. He will also be taking antibiotics, which would have been for just a few days as well, EXCEPT....they believe that a reddened area on his chest is Staph infection. So, he'll need to take the antibiotics for 2 weeks. Poor guy is having a hard time catching a break with all of this medical stuff!
There are no follow-up visits needed, unless I feel like "stopping by" to visit...apparently there is a new vet in the practice who has only been out of school for a year and she is having the chance to learn SO much just from Gunny's case. Everyone at the practice is so invested in seeing how he comes along, and would be happy to have him stop by every so often to be "monitored". For today's surgery, there was even an intern from Mississippi visiting and he was able to "scrub in" and watch this rare procedure/occurrence. And the vet with a year's experience was able to be the "2nd set of hands" for both the amputation and today's surgery, so she got a bird's eye view as the surgeon took great care of little Gunny. I told them today that Gunny is his own little Teaching Hospital packaged in a little Pitbull body!!! : )
Every time he has to go in, at least one staff member will comment "wow, this guy is just amazing". Boy, that doesn't even come close. This little guy is beyond words.
6-7-08: Gunny continues to go on his "rehab walks" and is now making it the entire 10 minute roundtrip without sitting in anyone's daylilies! Now THAT is progress! The heat makes it so much more of an effort for him and by the time he gets back to the house, he is wiped out. He's also coughing and gagging a little bit when he is panting hard and then trying to drink some water. I am blaming this all on the mass in his mouth and throat that he is trying to cope with. Hopefully, after his surgery on Tuesday, he will not have so much to cope with.
We've gotten to the point where Gunny and Oscar are able to go on the rehab walks together. Oscar knows to slow down, and Gunny doesn't try to race ahead. They are a little excited as we start out, but by the halfway point, they are both heeling nicely, one Pitbull on each side of me. For parts of the walk, I am even able to have them both heel on my left side, walking calmly with only an inch or two between them. I have to admit, I feel very Dog Whisperer-esque at those moments! The only problem with those times is that Gunny has trouble not staggering a bit to keep his balance every so often, and will check Oscar into the boards now and again. God bless Oscar, he just goes with the flow and opens up that 2" distance into 2 feet, just to give Gunny some stagger room. When things are going well and they are 2 inches apart, Oscar will look over and touch Gunny with his nose every so often, very gently. I am NOT the Dog Whisperer, so psychologically-speaking I don't KNOW what that means in the dog world, but I can tell you that based on Oscar's body language when he does it, as well as Gunny's response when it happens, it "feels" like Oscar is saying "good job kid, stick with me" and Gunny is saying "aw, gee, thanks man, I really am trying". What good boys they both are!
BTW, Gunny is looking FANTASTIC in his new collar from !!
It was so kind of Alisha to donate this for Gunny...her work is gorgeous and as an artist, she picked out the perfect color and design that compliments him 200%. I love how artists can do that...they "see" things that everyday people would never even THINK would work, and they nail it every time! THANKS ALISHA!
6-6-08: BAD NEWS!! Gunny needs more surgery. He will be going in on Tuesday morning to have work done on his out of control salivary gland. It is absolutely ENORMOUS and is affecting how he swallows, manages his food and water in his mouth, and controls his saliva. Basically he has something the size of 1.5 tennis balls trying to fit under his tongue, which isn't possible, so gravity also drops it down into his neck or throat...not 100% sure where it goes except that it is a noticeable bulge not only under his tongue but also in his neck area when you look at him. You'll remember that this is a traumatic injury resulting from being grabbed around the throat by all the other dogs as he was repeatedly attacked. Their jaws crushed his neck and throat enough that the ducts leading to his salivary glands were damaged, and thus the saliva can't move through the glands and ducts the way it should.
The kicker is that we had planned to have this addressed when Gunny was under anesthesia for his amputation, but for some reason, the swelling went away before the day of that surgery. No one really know why, and gave credit to the pre-surgery antibiotics he was on. Unfortunately, the swelling returned after the antibiotics were completed, and even though he was started back on them, we have had no positive results. So, now surgery is the only option.
The vet says that he is not in pain per say, but is probably so amazingly irritated and uncomfortable in trying to cope with something so large "wedged" where it shouldn't be. What continues to make this dog so amazing is that he shows no outward signs of being bothered. He just takes it all in stride, giving no one any indication that this is making his life difficult. His ability to maintain a happy, positive attitude is humbling. Heck, he didn't even act sad or mad or depressed when he was dragging around a rotting, dead hind leg! I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that *I* sure have a lot to learn about positive attitudes from this dog!!!
So, lots of thoughts and prayers for Gunny on Tuesday please. And as always, help with the vet bills is greatly appreciated. Gunny has had a bunch of added "extras" come up on top of the vet's original surgery estimate. The rescue has really been feeling the cost of vet care lately with all of the involved, intensive cases that have come through. Thank you for all of your support, in any way you choose to show it! ALL of it is very much appreciated!
I hope that a lot of you will be able to make it to Gunny's Meet and Greet on Tuesday, June 24th. There should be details up shortly about all the specifics.
6-4-08: Today was the first day Gunny was allowed to go on a walk. This morning, we kept it to 5 minutes, even though we were allowed to try for 15 minutes. That went well, so this afternoon I went a little bit longer, planning on 10 minutes. Poor guy...at about 7 minutes, he pulled me over into the shade of a tree, into somebody's garden and just SAT in the middle of a big clump of daylilies! I'm sure the heat didn't help, but I think his leg was tired.
He still has to be on a leash for yard time, so that he doesn't blow out his remaining knee. The vet says at least 2 weeks of walks before he can be loose in the yard. Gunny wants to play with Oscar REALLY badly, and will lay down in front of him and just bark and bark, this Big Boy bark. I'm allowed to let them wrestle if Gunny is on a leash and if he isn't doing a lot of slamming or twisting. Mainly, Gunny is a grab and chew kind of guy. I am watching him carefully, as his grabs and chews are pretty animated and Oscar isn't quite sure what to do about it, but I think Gunny is just trying to figure it all out. There is noting but happy wags and a good look in his eye. He didn't know much about toys when he got here and it was really funny to watch him work through it....like a young puppy discovering it all. I am getting the same feeling about how he plays with Oscar. Like he just wants somebody to wrestle with him but isn't sure how to go about asking....thus the LOUD barking. Then when Oscar tries to pretend grab and chewy, Gunny goes beyond that. I am hoping that Gunny will learn from Oscar to lighten up a little. The latest wrestling match lasted just a few minutes until I got their toys instead. Even after all that barking and animation, both boys are laying here beside me, about 12" between them, toys scattered around them. Last night, Gunny was doing the Big Boy Bark at Millie The Face-Washing Cat, who just stared at him, and then earlier this evening, he did the same thing to Linc The Cat. This barking was complete with Gunny in a "play stance", butt up in the air/chin on the floor, both times. See, like I said, he just doesn't get it and is trying to figure it out. I get the feeling there wasn't a lot of "playing" in his world, so he's learning on the fly. Thus, the reason he's trying to get cats to wrestle with him!
We are still having trouble with those salivary glands getting bigger as a result to the damage that was done when Gunny's throat was crushed. The bad news is that it is looking more likely that Gunny will need to have MORE surgery to try to fix this. The jury is still not in on that yet...none of us want him to endure any surgery unless it is absolutely necessary and unless it has a really high potential for success!
6-1-08: Happy 3rd Birthday to Oscar! As is the case every year, Oscar had a birthday party for His Pack, their humans, and a few more affiliated human friends. This year the planning was all but nonexistent, as I had to wait and see if I thought it was doable with Gunny in the mix. I didn't want to upset him, and wasn't sure he was up for such a big event just yet. But, so as not to disappoint good ol' Oscar, I decided that with good management skills, I could work this out. That was one of the main reasons for getting Gunny together with some of The Pack members yesterday...so that he wouldn't be so overwhelmed today.
So, with my plan in place, I was ready to go. But as with all plans, unexpected things arise. After the first two groups of humans and first set of dogs arrived...Gunny inside with the humans, dogs outside in the fence to play with Oscar...we got a surprise. The missing Pack Member arrived, even though she usually doesn't attend dog parties due to issues with another female in the group. Her human's plan was for her to hang out inside with the humans and the cats, but she had forgotten about Gunny. So, Gunny is loose in the house, snuggling up to his newest Aunt and Uncle, when he hears the front door open and someone call out "hello!!!!". Off he goes to greet them and meets a new, loose, dog, who is as surprised to see him as he is to see her. Remember, these guys share houses the ways humans share clothes, so Oscar's house is an extension of "her territory". It goes well, regardless...cautious but well. Next scene, a big ol' jogging baby stroller comes pushing through the front door, with a one year old child inside and an unfamiliar human driving. This didn't slow Gunny down for a second. He wanted to see what it, and the very small human, were all about. Even when the baby's dog started to get a little territorial, Gunny was fine, just stepped back and gave them room. As humans and dogs continued to arrive, Gunny and Sandi (the Missing pack Member) hung out in the house with the humans, and Gunny really seemed to enjoy the time with the very teeny person who kept pointing at him and saying "Dog!!". Once or twice, Sandi, who is the oldest member of our pack and who had to put Oscar in his place as a puppy, let out a grumble/bark or two to let Gunny know that whatever he was doing was not appreciated. He took the reprimands in stride, and went off to find a human to love on him.
When all the humans migrated to the outside to play with the dogs. Gunny went to his crate and Sandi to Oscar's crate. After awhile, Gunny's lonely cries made The Group decide that we could try Gunny, on a leash, at the actual dog party. So, cautiously, we did just that. He was a star, very willing to be friends with the other dogs but also willing to be submissive and back off when told to do so. He continues to take his cues from me and has started to seek out one of the other humans of The Pack as a source of comfort as well. Unfortunately this is the owner of the High Energy Boy that I mentioned yesterday, which wasn't received too well. At times, this guy was a bit of a grump, trying to be assertive, and we had to back him off several times, but even with that, Gunny showed no thoughts of wanting to challenge anyone. In fact, if any of the other dogs got vocal, Gunny tried very hard to blend into the woodwork and call zero attention to himself. It was the only time I saw him show any bit of trepidation. That was actually very hard to see, because it made it very easy to imagine what his life must have been like before, and the things he tried to do, in vain, to stay safe around other dogs. I guess the Up Side to this is that now, the humans that surround him keep him safe and reassure him if things get frightening. Not only do we not allow him to be hurt, but we aren't the ones setting him up to be hurt, the way humans from his past obviously did. It must take a little getting used to for him.
So, it was a big day for Gunny. He wore a birthday hat and ate the (dog safe) cupcakes and icing that I made for The Pack. He saw balloons and signs and listened to music. He watched the other dogs get in and out of the Kiddie Pool, though he was not willing to try himself. And actually, I'm glad he wasn't interested because I wouldn't have let him in....too slippery. He hung out with a bunch of new humans and one brand new dog. He impressed the heck out of everyone. There continues to be talk of how "somebody" should get him on Oprah. People speculated on all the ways to get his story out there for the world to hear. Others commented on how inconceivable it was that he was so friendly and trusting after all he had been through. Many ran their hands over his scars and touched his incision and looked under his tongue, and were sad. But Gunny wasn't sad, don't worry, those days are behind him, God willing. Gunny really bonded with one of his newest Uncles, and spent a ton of time with him, laying right at his feet. Every so often I'd hear a comment about how amazing Gunny was or how much this guy liked Gunny. But then I heard something very cool....something I had hoped I would hear from many people as Gunny's story gets told. I heard this friend say, to no one in particular, just to the World At Large, "This dog inspires me...I'm serious, I am so inspired...he has made me think and now things just look different in my life." Wow. Pretty cool, huh?
Be patient for pictures. There were several cameras in attendance, so there will be some gathering and compiling I am sure. But hopefully soon there will be some party pictures to share.
Happy Birthday Oscar!!! I couldn't do it without you buddy!!
5-31-08: Today, I decided that Gunny was ready to have some additional interaction with dogs. He is doing so well and looking so good, I wanted to continue to introduce him to new dogs now, as opposed to waiting until he is off of "restrictions". I didn't want so much time to go by where the only dog he would be around would be Oscar. The more socializing, the better in my book....as long as it is done CORRECTLY! So, the obvious answer would *appear* to be to start with Oscar's Neighborhood Pack. There are several of us who have all become very good friends after moving into the neighborhood, and who dogsit for each other, have frequent playdates, etc. All of these dogs share houses and humans without any problem. We refer to all of our dogs collectively as The Pack, or as Your Cousins when speaking directly to our dog. : )
The downside to this is that these dogs have known each other a LONG time, with Oscar coming into the pack as a submissive 3 month old pup, and the other dogs, as all dogs do, having personality quirks of their own. With as bonded as all these guys already are as a group, accepting a new adult dog is not a guaranteed success. So, we set it up as best we could, with Oscar loose in the fenced yard as a buffer/distraction, and Gunny on his leash as always, and the "new" dog on a leash as well. First, the owner of Oscar's Best Wrestling Pal brought him over. This dog is a high energy, dominant male, but things went well. Gunny obviously picked up on those traits in this fellow, because he was very low key. He actually hung back a little, and when he felt unsure, he would come lean on me or stand behind me or Oscar. Even when the other guy growled a few times, sort of asserting his dominance and possibly his displeasure with not being the center of attention, Gunny just backed off. Gunny didn't show any inkling of reacting aggressively...he was trying very hard to come off as submissive. Next, we sent High Energy Boy home and two more dogs came by, both females this time. One, a little more timid by nature, and the other very sociable but also a dominant personality. Gunny met each girl separately, and started out a little reserved but interested. The girls were fine with getting to know him, and within about a minute, Gunny was trying SO hard to get them to play with him! It was adorable...no fear no aggression, just "woohoo, will you be my FRIEND??!?!" Truth be told, I think he has a crush on the Lab mix, though she was playing hard to get. She even showed him her teeth at one point when he was getting on her nerves, and he wasn't offended. After a few minutes, the heat seemed to get to them, and Gunny and the girls laid down on the patio in the shade, all within a foot of each other. They were as relaxed and stretched out as they could get. One neighbor commented "Yup, I think they are feeling OK with Gunny joining The Pack...everybody seems good with this." We have one more female Pack Member to introduce when we have time, but I honestly expect that one to be a breeze.
You know, I have heard and read so much about using another dog to get through to a new dog that has baggage or an involved history...using one dog's particular outlook or energy to influence the new dog. There is no question that Gunny already had a fantastic mind and heart, but I really believe that in these times where things had the potential to be stressful to Gunny---feeding times, favorite toys, new dogs---having Oscar around to model the desired behavior has done more than any human ever could. Oscar is confident yet calm, and very obedient to what a human is asking. Oscar looks to me for direction, and trusts that I have it under control. Gunny has quickly learned that he can do that do. But Oscar was the bridge that made it happen so quickly. Way to go Oscar!
5-29-08: I borrowed the camera from Aunt Beth and got some more "after" pictures of Gunny as he continues to look better and better. Maybe Aunt Kayla can add them to the Smilebox she made for him, or use them when she is able to put together his "official" video. We want to put together something that will include the good, the bad, and the ugly and tell his whole story. Currently, the more "advanced" computer at the rescue is ka-putt, so the video-making is on hold. (please note the request on the home page for anyone's old but useable computer in return for a tax break!) But look for today's photos somewhere, hopefully soon. Millie The Dog-Washing Cat even posed on the kitchen table above one of Gunny's blankets, so you can meet more of The Foster Family and see more Family Portraits.
Kona came over today for another playdate with Oscar. Gunny did more visiting through the fence, and there was tail-wagging right from the start this time. I halfway considered introducing them, but then realized that Gunny just can't stand up---literally---to Kona's boisterous antics. Gunny really makes a person forget that he is still recovering. He is such a little Marine who just pushes on and stays strong. He just can't be around rowdy friends right now and risk hurting the surgery site or even blowing out his remaining hind leg, and it is my job not to get sucked in by how well he acts for me.
For any of you Gunny fans out there, we could still use your support. As Gunny's care continues, I am working hard to keep him from being bored and from fixating on his leg. A lot of that involves borrowing toys from his very patient and kind Foster Brother Oscar, but there are only so many to go around. It also involves food bribes for medicine and crate time. So, if you'd like to send Gunny a care package of toys and treats, please email us and we will get you a mailing address for your package or you can arrange to stop by the facility and drop it off for Gunny. Gunny is an equal-opportunity toy tester...he loves Kongs and Nylabones just as much as squeaky toys and Jolly Balls. Treats to dogs are like chocolate to women...there is no wrong kind! Except for rawhides, they can be dangerous to dogs, so we don't feed those.
Thank you so much for all of the support you have provided to Gunny and the rescue...although I have said it before, it can't be said too much...you guys have been amazing. Unfortunately, the rescue got kicked in the teeth today with a MASSIVE vet bill for an INSANE amount of medical hardships lately, Gunny included. If you know of anyone who might want to pitch in a dollar or two in honor of Gunny, it would allow the rescue to do more "amazing saves" like they did with this special soul and the other dogs who needed all that vet care. I'm sure it's mentioned other places on the site, but if you happen to be an/happen to know an animal-loving Bank of America employee, NMAR is an approved charity, and any amount you donate will be matched 100% by BOA. How fantastic is it that The Bank does that? That just blows me away....good for them!
Thanks everyone...I didn't mean for today's update to sound like a begging platform! It just happened to be what's going on around here today, so I wanted to share the Whole Story.
5-28-08: Gunny is having a little trouble with the new pain medicine schedule. He is starting to show some signs of nerve-related pain that the higher levels of medicine were apparently addressing. We had an option to try a different medicine, that is actually a human medicine which targets nerve issues, but the vet ultimately decided to go back to a larger amount of his current pain medicine. We will go with the new dosage, which is still much less than what he had immediately after surgery, for another week. Then the following week we will cut it back to the schedule and dosage we were trying when the nerve pain became apparent. If at any time this doesn't address his needs, he will go in for another vet visit, with a related prescription call in to a human pharmacy. Hopefully that won't be necessary, so good thought for Gunny please!
Otherwise, he is doing well. He is getting very tired of being on restricted activity, and he and Oscar continue to attempt to play in the "don't let Mom hear" approach! I feel very badly breaking up their fun, but with too much motion, Gunny can still basically rip apart all of the muscles that are meshing together INSIDE of the remaining portion of his leg. Avoiding that is WAY worth disappointing him a little bit re: playtime!
5-26-08: Gunny had a busy Memorial Day Weekend. More visits from various neighbors, plus his Aunt Laurel came to see how much he has changed. Laurel was the catalyst in Operation Save Poor Gunny...she was the one who received the original email from the pound and who contacted me to see if NMAR could help in any way. She was also the first one to meet Gunny, which led to her going out on a limb and saying, "I am telling you, this dog deserves a shot and we can pull this off." As I told her yesterday when she was leaving, "good call Laurel!!". She was so excited to see all of the progress he has made and to watch him with Oscar and His Band of Goofy Felines. They are a funny bunch.
Today Kona came over for a playdate with Oscar. Please take a minute and read about Kona on the Adoption page, under Adopt-A-Bull. He is a very special, absolutely FANTASTIC dog who has lost out on a family of his own multiple times, through no fault of his own. Anyway, he came over for one of his weekly visits, and while he was out in the fence with Oscar, I brought Gunny around on the outside of the fence to see what he thought. The only dog he has seen, aside from those in the vet's lobby, is Oscar. Kona has a very different approach to life than Oscar. Kona is wide-open. He is sort of like a runaway elephant or a freight train...a very joyful freight train. When he saw me at the fence with Gunny, he came BARRELING over, just so very excited to meet a new friend, all wiggles and wags. Gunny was nervous, there was no wagging...I think he was very glad that the fence was there to save him from being steam-rolled! But after Gunny figured out that Kona's intentions were good, and that Oscar and I approved of this overgrown puppy, he got on board with the whole event. Just like when he met Oscar...lots of sniffing and snorting through the fence slats, and serious tail wagging.
Oscar and Gunny like to lay beside me while I work on the computer. Last night, they were about 6 inches apart, and Gunny gave a really good stretch and ended up with his nose leaning on Oscar's back. It was one of those times I wished I had a camera within arm's reach! Kind of like tonight when Gunny sat beside my chair while Oscar rolled around on his back right under Gunny's watchful eye. Oscar really wanted to play and took both of his front paws and put them on Gunny face, very gently, and sort of batted him around a little bit, egging him on with little play noises. Gunny fell right into it, "talking" back to Oscar, wagging his tail, and bumping Oscar's paws with his snout. Even if things look like they might get a little too active for what Gunny is allowed, all I do is quietly remind Oscar "take it easy buddy, you can't be rough with him" and Oscar just KNOWS. It really is incredible the way he will do the smallest thing, and Gunny seems to understand that he needs to calm down. It's been really amazing to watch these guys.
5-24-08: Gunny is still doing great. Aunt Beth and Aunt Kayla came over today to take some pictures of his progress, as well as to get some Group Photos with the now-famous Oscar, and Linc The Cat. Hope you like them.
Nothing too major happening, which is great. He had a booster shot today, and of course didn't even acknowledge that there was a needle involved. He is taking slightly less pain medicine and is handling it well. He may be off of it completely in just a matter of days, depending on how he does. The lump under his neck is almost gone, again, and the one under his tongue is smaller but still noticeable. Family life continues to go smoothly with lots of interaction between all of the critters involved. Millie is getting much closer to starting the face licking with Gunny, but it has been a random lick here and there, not a full-out bath yet. Linc The Cat has started to introduce Gunny to the many varieties of the "Hey, I've got your tail" game that he plays with Oscar...a tail wags and Linc The Cat launches himself onto the tail and holds it in his front paws while he gnaws on it. Or, he pounces repeatedly on the tail of the sleeping dog as it twitches throughout a dream. He has also been known to dive off furniture, grab Oscar's tail while Oscar is standing nearby, and proceed to slide down the tail like a fireman on a fire pole. Oscar is, of course, fine with all of this but I'm monitoring Gunny and letting him get used to the antics slowly. Linc The Cat has gotten overly excited before and chomped down pretty hard on Oscar's tail, which I think would be an unfair challenge to ol' Gunny....for now anyway.
5-22-08: Funny story. I have been very cautious and taking nothing for
granted with all the animal interactions in the house, especially with
food. I started out by feeding Gunny in his crate while Oscar ate in
the kitchen. That progressed to Gunny being tied to the table while
Oscar ate at the far end of the room. The wild card has always been
The Cat, who, in fitting with his dog persona, enjoys eating dog food.
Oscar tolerates him sitting about 2 centimeters from the dog bowl,
staring intently, while Oscar eats. Linc will often grab a quick
of food when Oscar raises his head to breathe or swallow. Though
and Linc have an understanding about all of this, and Oscar could not
be less bothered about sharing with Linc, I wasn't so sure Gunny
would sign on for the deal. Thus, while Gunny eats, I monitor Linc
Cat, who has been VERY intriqued by a different brand of dog food than
This AM, I had Gunny tied to the coffee table as I watched the news and
ate my breakfast before work. Oscar had already eaten his breakfast
in the kitchen. Gunny stopped eating after finishing half of his
and laid down and relaxed. His bowl was about 12" from his face.
Oscar came in and laid down, facing Gunny. Both dogs had their heads
resting on their paws, their faces about 3 feet from each other, no
issues. Oscar was obviously hoping to sample the novel dog food, but
polite to help himself. Gunny didn't take offense that Oscar was so
close...and well within the range of his leash length, by the way. I
took a moment to feel very proud of both boys and went back to
the news. Next thing I know, I hear "crunch crunch crunch" and my
heart stopped. I whipped my head around and saw Linc The Cat, sitting
at the edge of Gunny's bowl, snacking away. Remember, the proximity
of the bowl would put Linc within 12" of Gunny's mouth, at the
MOST. God Bless Gunny....I reached over and scooped up Linc, but in
actuality, if Gunny had had any problems with the situation, it would
have been too late for Linc. Even as I tossed Linc aside, Gunny never
even picked up his head from his paws...he just sort of raised an
eyebrow, as if he was wondering what had gotten into ME for me to jump
fast so early in the morning.
5-21-08: Gunny had another check-up at the vet today. They lasered the incision from his amputation, again, and were able to remove the staples already...wow! Unfortunately the big lumps under his tongue and under his chin have returned. So, he is back on antibiotics, again, for four weeks this time. Not sure if I have mentioned it before, but these lumps were a result of being grabbed by the throat by a dog. The
ducts connected with his salivary glands were crushed when that dog (dogs???) crushed Gunny's throat in its powerful jaws. This leaves the saliva no place to go. On top of that disruption, these areas have also become infected. Once the infection is gone, he may or may not still struggle with recurrences when the saliva backs up. If this keeps
happening, the only options are microsurgery or just waiting for the glands to die off. When that happens, the problem will go away. Thankfully there are many salivary glands, so some will pick up the slack from the lost ones.
It was amazing to me to see him head into the vet's clinic...you'd think he was going into a Gourmet Bakery For Dogs, not the place where they cut off one of his limbs! He was so excited to see EVERYONE and ANYONE and all I could hear from the treatment areas where variations of "GUNNY!!!!!! You look so HANDSOME!!! We are so glad to see you!" all delivered in baby-talk.
He has also gained 4 pounds since his surgery! He looks better and
better every day! The vet said we were able to switch him from puppy
to adult food. The puppy food was to give him more nutrition as we
brought him back from starvation. He looks so good now, adult food is
the way to go.
Even though the staples are out, he is still restricted to very limited
activity for another 2 weeks or so. He stays in the crate or is on a
leash to encourage him to lay down in the house. His walks are only
for going to the potty in the yard, nothing more than a lap around the
fenced in yard. After 2 more weeks, the activity can increase a bit
the vet was able to give me some guidelines for the progression of his
rehab. We are trying to protect the ligaments of the knee in his
remaining hind leg, as it is now taking so much more of a burden.
So, all went well. Many thanks for all of the support!
Some sweet person sent us this poem today from Gunny!
~~~~~~If Not For You~~~~~
I would've died that day if not for you.
I would've given up on life if not for your kind eyes.
I would've used my teeth in fear if not for your gentle hands.
I would have left this life believing that all humans don't care
Believing there is no such thing as fur that isn't matted,
skin that isn't flea bitten, good food and enough of it, beds to sleep
someone to love me, to show me I deserve love just because I exist.
Your kind eyes, your loving smile, your gentle hands
Your big heart saved me...
You saved me from the terror of the pound,
Soothing away the memories of my old life.
You have taught me what it means to be loved.
I have seen you do the same for other dogs like me.
I have heard you ask yourself in times of despair
Why you do it
When there is no more money, no more room, no more homes
You open your heart a little bigger, stretch the money a little tighter
Make just a little more room...to save one more like me.
I tell you with the gratitude and love that shines in my eyes
In the best way I know how
Reminding you why you go on trying.
I am the reason
The dogs before me are the reason
As are the ones who come after.
Our lives would've been wasted, our love never given
We would die if not for you.
5-18-08: Well, as you know, Gunny discovered laps around day three "post-jail". Today, he discovered uninhabited furniture. I'm going to try and discourage this little habit, but it sure is nice to see the little guy enjoying The Creature Comforts. Oscar may not think so, as Gunny has taken a shine to Oscar's Chair, but I'll cross that bridge later. So far, one of the greatest things about this experience with Gunny has been watching him become more and more trusting and comfortable in my home. On the surface, he was amazingly calm and friendly right from the first moments any of us met him. But it was also apparent that he took a lot with a grain of salt. He trusted us just enough, he relaxed just enough, he socialized just enough. Here lately, you can see that he is totally at peace...no more crying in the crate, no more crying if humans are out of sight, no more getting right to his feet and just standing and straining at the end of his leash if the humans leave the room for a minute, leaving him secured to the kitchen table. He is quite content to sleep curled up in a ball on his quilt whether he can see us or not. Granted, he would MUCH rather be with the humans, but he gets it now, he is safe here. It is OK if he is not stuck to me like glue.Gunny had three different neighbors stop by this weekend to meet him and wish him well post-surgery. He greeted each one like a long-lost friend. His attitude amazes everyone he meets. And as a side note, and knocking wood a bit as I type this, he has been 100% reliable so far in catching on to this house-breaking thing. Talk about a nice reward for me, huh?Another follow up vet appointment this week. Even after the staples come out of the incision, he will still need to be kept quiet for several weeks. I think that is going to get increasingly more challenging for me, as he tries to play more and more each day. It is funny to watch...like a puppy trying to figure out all the body language and responses and what toys are for...I am not sure that Gunny has had opportunities to play before. I am certainly thrilled to be the one to give him that chance.
5-17-08: Big day for Gunny. He made a guest appearance at today's
visit by Candy and Potter's Volunteer Army. Please see Ozark's News
Page for details of the visit. It was great to have a chance to tell
his story to so many kind people and to have him show off just what a
fantastic dog he really is.
He's been doing very well and getting really acclimated to being a
House Dog. Very calm and seems to understand that he needs to take it
easy. I am still being very cautious, but he and Oscar and the cats get
to be better friends all the time. Amazingly, this close-to-starvation
dog is not possessive of his food...certainly not with humans and it
appears not to another animal. Like I said, I am not taking risks, but
he appears to be very tolerant about pretty much everything.
5-16-08: Gunny went to the vet today to have the pain patch removed and
to have a laser treatment on the incision from the amputation. He did
great, as always. Everyone was so happy to see him again, he is such
a favorite. He goes back next week, Tuesday if I can pull it off
schedule-wise. They will laser him again, and if things look good, the
staples may come out of his incision ALREADY! That laser must REALLY speed
up healing A LOT! The vet was thrilled with how his leg looked. A
little swollen but not concerned. He liked the routine I have been
following with him re: amount of activity level and time out of the crate.
We have to be careful that he doesn't overload his remaining hind leg
and blow out an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament...big injury for
athletes, especially football players). Since he has no meat on his bones
that means no muscle...no muscle means nothing to take the load off the
knee joint in his remaining leg. So, right now, he needs to take it
easy, even after the staples come out. A few more weeks of "light
activity". I was given the OK to up his pain meds a little bit and
although he seemed to be doing well before, it really made a difference. He
has much more spunk this afternoon. Was stealing towels and trying to
play tug of war!
5-15-08: Poor Gunny is pretty worn out today. His pain patch officially "expired" (must be a 3 day patch?), so he is only on the 2 types of oral pain medications that he has been taking since the surgery. think he is missing the added "umpfff" of the patch. He has been out of his crate more today at various times, the idea being that he would lay down near wherever I happened to be. Unfortunately, he was a bit too anxious to be still and wanted to stand and follow every move I made. His leg is a good bit more swollen, so I am thinking gravity is really kicking in. You have to figure that from Monday up until today, he was essentially horizontal. He was really getting tired of that lampshade on his head and being in his crate...when he is under close supervision he can be "lampshade-free" so I do that as much as I can. He is actually dozing right beside me as I type this. All that standing seems to be taking it's toll, and he's staying down a lot more this evening. He is also had a lot more interactive today. Linc The Cat has taken to laying close by a lot of the time---like a foot and half away close by! The more cautious cats, Millie and Tobbles, decided to step it up today as well. Both are coming close quite often with nose to nose sniffing. It is only a matter of time before Millie starts giving him a bath...poor Oscar gets cat baths from her on a daily basis. The other huge news is that Gunny and Oscar have been hanging out together in the house. I have family in town for a weekend visit, and when they got here, I was very careful that Oscar didn't feel neglected. After separate dog socializing time, I devised a careful plan and decided to go for it with Oscar off leash and Gunny secured by a leash and laying on a big pile of blankets. Oscar is very well socialized and actually does a lot of volunteering of his own with the dogs from the rescue, hosting play dates and socializing with dogs in need. It doesn't hurt that he is incredibly obedient and I am very comfortable that I have control of his behavior. Gunny was the wild card though, and based on his history with dogs, you gotta be cautious. But he was a champ, even being in pain. I ended up eating dinner with Gunny dozing on blankets to my right, and Oscar camping out by his "Grandma" on my left. I will continue to be vigilant, but all the key players seem to be coexisting well. We go to the vet tomorrow to have the pain patch removed (it is stapled into his skin) and have a laser treatment to the incision to promote healing. I'll be asking about that swelling! And what is "typical" as far as behavior/indicators of pain.
5-14-08: Gunny came "home" today!!!!!! I picked him up at the vet
late this afternoon, and after a long Q & A session with the staff, I
loaded him up in his crate and set sail. He is really not going for
the whole "lampshade on my head" thing (he looks PITIFUL, not to
mention highly offended), nor was he very fond of being alone in his crate
in the kitchen. We revisited the concept of wailing and screaming
while crated, but he quit that in about 5 minutes. Phew, thankfully! Linc
The Cat greeted him at the door when we arrived, and got a good bit of
tail-wagging in return. Even the other two cats ventured out...I
guess they figured "just how much trouble could I be in for from
something with THAT contraption on his head??". I wasn't sure what Oscar
would think of the lampshade and the surgery smells, but he seemed to
take it all in stride. He sniffed Gunny through the crate for about 5
seconds before he went in search of a toy. Gunny is allowed to be
lampshade-free when under close supervision, and Beth, Gunny and myself sat
around on the kitchen floor for a welcome home snack (and an "oh thank
goodness we have made it this far" beer). We had piles of quilts
for him to lay on, but not surprisingly, he went straight for my lap. He
was sprawled and snoring in about 2 minutes. His leg is red and
swollen, the staples look frightening to those unfamiliar, and his shaved
hind end is pretty sad. You can see even more scars with that fur gone.
Gunny is a bit subdued and seemingly uncomfortable, but he is on a
variety of pain medicine as well as antibiotics. Having said all that,
he is getting around just as well as he did pre-surgery, albeit a bit
more slowly. For now. He goes back to the vet on Friday to have a pain
patch removed (it too is stapled into his skin) and to have his
incision area treated with a laser to stimulate faster healing (cool, huh?!).
He should have the staples taken out of his incision in about 2
weeks. Until then, the lampshade remains firmly in place. One interesting
new development since being at the vet...we have discovered that Gunny
is "a Talker". He grumbles and grunts and moans and sigh...don't
worry, this is not a pain thing. Some dogs are just Talkers. If you
have ever known one, you'll know exactly what I mean. I have no
doubt that we will know EXACTLY the type of mood Gunny is in from now
on...Talkers really are hilarious and so much fun. With all of Gunny's
personality, I should have predicted this. The other cool thing is that
this means that he is relaxing and letting his guard down even
more...letting his true self shine through. Welcome Home Gunny!
5-13-08: I stopped by to visit Gunny at the vet today. He looks as
good as you would expect after having such a major surgery. I can't
tell you how many of the staff came up to me while I was at his
cage..."are you Gunny's foster mom?...he is such a sweet boy!"...was
repeated many times. Mr. G was pretty groggy but able to stand and wag his
tail and sniff my face. He couldn't quite manage any kisses
though...must be too much motor planning while intoxicated! But, when I opened
his cage to give him a real big scratch, he gave it his best shot to
push his way past me and get OUT for some better attention. I tell ya,
that is one strong boy....30 pounds underweight, missing a leg, really
drunk on pain meds, and I had a hard time blocking his escape! Way to
go Gunny! If all goes well, he will head home tomorrow. As a side
note, thanks to all of the emotional and financial support the rescue has
received since we told the world about Gunny. It has been so humbling
and heart-warming. Gunny has a huge fan club, and I promise he
appreciates every last one of your thoughts and prayers.
5-12-08: Another sleepy, snoring Pitbull this morning. Got him packed up and on the road to the vet bright and early when Beth came over to collect him. Dang this job of mine, I couldn't take him in myself! Scheduled for an amputation of his leg, neutering and some lancing (draining with a large needle) of some huge infected areas in his neck and under his tongue. These were a result of crushed salivary ducts when dogs were ripping at his throat.
The surgeries went GREAT! No unexpected issues or complications. And he had responded so well to the antibiotics that the tennis ball-sized lump in his neck and the plum-sized ball under his tongue did NOT need to be lanced...the infection had gone down enough that the antibiotics will be enough to get rid of them completely. He will spend the night in a heavily sedated state. Depending on how he seems when he wakes up determines how many days he will be at the vet. After an amputation, the body sometimes tried to heal the part that is no longer there...it sends extra blood and fluid to that missing area. So, we have to wait and see if his body has that reaction. The staff at the vet continues to adore Gunny and says he is an amazing and fantastic dog. He is even making Pitbull fans out of people who were previously not overly thrilled.
5-11-08: Man, he looked good today! So happy! Started the day by having to rouse Sleeping Beauty from a deep slumber...snoring and all! For a guy who used to sleep with one eye open at all times, he sure is settling in. He even learned to stay quietly in his crate during daylight hours today...it was too rainy for him to spend the day outside in the fence like he normally does. So, big milestone for Gunny...Mr. Whiny Pants who needs to be nudged into his crate actually pawed open his crate and put himself inside. Guess he was tired of being on a leash in the kitchen while I cleaned. The crate was soft and cozy, the kitchen floor wasn't. More visits with Linc, as well as a quick one with Tobbles, cat #2, all very peaceful. Also had a face to face with Gunny and Oscar in the kitchen. Gunny was tied and Oscar was on a leash with me. Again, lots of happy tails, but we made it short and sweet and ended on a good note after several introductions and removals. I am all about slow and careful with new dogs coming together...especially two confident adult males. Good boys, Gunny and Oscar! Gunny and I played ball in the yard after the rain stopped. He runs very well on his three good legs. That will really work in his favor after the amputation...he is already so comfortable getting around on three legs.
5-10-08: We have a name!!!! My Dad actually named him. In the Marine Corps, there is a man called a Gunnery Sergeant, who is in charge of hundreds of fighting Marines, yet who is right there with them in the heat of it all. He is strong and courageous and loyal and takes amazing care of "his" men. Because of this, he earns complete respect and devotion from those Marines. Out of affection, this man is referred to as "Gunny". My Dad recognized this same heart and spirit when I told him about this guy, and he suggested we call him Gunny. It was the only name that even sounded remotely right. Gunny had a bath today. It was a two-person job, but he was a trooper. Again, even being nervous, he was a complete gentleman, let us do whatever we needed to do. Unfortunately we couldn't get all the grime from his coat, but he's nice and soft now! And afterwards, when the humans sat down on the patio chairs to visit, Gunny crawled right up in my lap and curled up in a ball, with his head tucked under my arm! This may get tricky when he gains all of his weight and get close to 80 pounds! Hopefully Terry can post the pictures we took of the Lap Dog. Gunny also met Linc, one of my cats, face to face and that went well. Linc thinks he is a dog anyway, so that may have helped. Gunny and Oscar (my sweet and gentle Pitbull mix) sniffed noses through the fence today. Lots of happy tails!
EVERYONE slept through the night this time...boy, I really enjoyed THAT!
5-9-08: Our boy wasn't so sure about the car, but true to form, he let me lift him in and never even thought about being anything other than a sweetheart. He dozed all the way to my house, but kept one eye open, figuratively-speaking, very on edge. This guy has learned that letting your guard down is a BAD idea, and he is not going to let anyone catch him unprepared. Turns out this fellow is not liking the idea of being alone and screamed a lot when I was not in his sight. It sounded like someone was being murdered when I left him in the yard and walked my dog down the block! Ditto for crate time. Thankfully, I got a better feel for what he needed/wanted/was afraid of after several attempts at crating, and he slept through the night in his crate. I was awake every 20 minutes listening for him, but he was fine.
I met One Of Those Dogs today. I'd tell you his name, but he doesn't have one. I can, however, tell you that he has one of the most amazing spirits I have ever had the good fortune to encounter. I can also tell you that his capacity for love and forgiveness warms my heart....and shatters it into a million pieces.
This guy came to my attention yesterday, when a good friend made me aware of his existence. She is a volunteer for Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue, and gets lots of emails about dogs in need. This little fellow showed up on the "who we are going to put to sleep this week" list from a county pound in a neighboring state. She was appalled to see that even though he had an obviously severe injury that was both extremely painful and horribly infected, he would have to wait at least 5 days to be euthanized. They were certain that no one would adopt him, they knew they could not let any "owner" from his past regain custody. Yet due to their laws, they had to let him suffer---without any pain relief or basic medical treatment---for days on end. Unfortunately, this is not rare, this is how county pounds function. My friend was hoping that the all-breed rescue where I volunteer might be able to help. She offered to put in about 3 hours' worth of travel time to go pick him up, get him to the rescue's regular vet, and return to her home. This does not even factor in the time she spent at the vet's office with the dog. Nor the fact that she got up so early to do this that she still made it to her morning meetings.
The rescue at which I volunteer is, as always, jam-packed-full...due to, as always, people's irresponsibility. They are also barely making ends meet financially, as a result of a string of intense medical situations that have arisen with new dogs. The plan we came up with was: get him out of that pound, and even if he is too ill to treat, at least we can pay to have him put to sleep in a gentle and humane way. There was no way finances would allow any pricey treatments, like an amputation of the injured leg or treatment for a positive heartworm diagnosis.
The next thing I know, I get a call from my friend. She is at the vet. She tells me the dog is the sweetest, most loveable thing on four, well actually three, legs. She asks if she can get more information on the costs of surgery....the only way this guy will make it is if his leg is amputated. She offers to scrape together a little money to add to The Cause. I tell her to be reasonable (she always is). I tell her to find out if he is heartworm positive (amazingly, he isn't). I tell her I will talk to the founders of the rescue about what is going on. She tells me how much the staff at the vet loves him. She tells me how well he is getting around in spite of his injuries. She tells me that he is taking all of the day's events in stride (and we all know how insane and "invasive" a visit to the vet can be). I speak with the staff myself, and get the go-ahead that my vet is willing and able to do this surgery, instead of having to go to the specialty clinic where bills will be a great deal higher. So we are "only" looking at about $1,200.00. They tell me that this dog needs a few days rest to prepare his body for surgery and that he can come back first thing Monday morning for an amputation. Wait a minute...how did we get to this place? This was not our plan going in. This was a mission of mercy to end the suffering of a pound puppy who didn't stand a chance. What is going on here?? Next thing I know, I hear someone say that she will foster this dog before and after surgery to provide care so that the rescue will not be more overburdened than they already are. I also hear that person say that she will pitch in some money. I also hear my friend talk about ways that the two of them can raise money for the rescue to cover this guy's expenses. This is when I have a bit of a light bulb moment. Turns out that it was *MY* voice that I heard volunteering *MY* time, effort and finances for a dog I never met. As I drove to the vet this afternoon to pick him up, I was praying that my friend's judgment was as sound today as it has always been in the past. What the heck was I doing?? How was I going to pull this off? Were we making the right decisions for this dog?
I had seen photos of this poor guy on the county pound's "who we will be putting to sleep this week" page. He looked thin, the leg looked bad, but that was all the experience I had with him. When I arrived at the vet clinic, I checked in, spoke with the vet who was doing the surgery for us, and figured I'd grab the meds he needed, grab the dog, and hit the road. When they brought the little guy out to me, I thought "Oh wow, they put a nice purple wrap on his wound with that thick white cotton lining...oh wait, it looks like a full-thickness cast...that's odd, why would they cast his leg until Monday?" But as he hopped closer (with a great deal of agility and a huge "smile" on his face I might add), I saw that there was no cast. That was his LEG. It was three to four times the size it was meant to be, the skin was so damaged and swollen that this chocolate-colored dog had a purple leg. His coat was atrocious, patchy and flaky, with odd colors and textures mixed throughout. I was sure he had some sort of skin disease and wanted to make sure he wasn't contagious to my dog at home. By the time he reached me, he leaned against me and licked my hands and my legs. He rubbed along my shins like he was a cat. He wagged his tail so hard it went in circles. It was then that it dawned on me how emaciated this guy was. I have seen photos in magazines and on websites, but I have never in my life seen such a thin, sick dog in person. And the tears came. Tears for what this dog had endured and was enduring, but also for the spirit and the love that he still, so obviously, had. While I waited to speak with the vet who had cared for him that morning, I got to look at him more closely. I got to see the love and hope in is eyes. I got to see the cuts and rips and scars mixed in with his awful-looking coat. I saw that his head was enormous, yet his body was miniscule. I saw every outline of every bone in his skeleton. I saw the puddles of drainage that had dripped from the 3 inch wide and 1 inch deep pit of a wound in his leg. I saw the fleas climbing in and out of his fur. And the tears came.
A little bit later, the vet came to go over the day's events and all that I needed to know. She realized that I was just there to pick up this fellow, and had never met him before. When she came through the door, she looked down at him and absolutely beamed with the most loving smile. She looked me in the eye and said, "Isn't he just beautiful?" And the tears came. "Don't worry," she said, "he has made all of us cry today." Then she handed me a tissue and continued, "I am certain that this dog is here to be an ambassador. Just look at him. He has scars that will never go away. He managed to escape true Hell, but not without losing a leg in the process. Yet, he smiles and he wags, and he loves us strangers without a second thought. All day he was poked and prodded and x-rayed and positioned. He was handled by the entire staff, just to see what baggage you folks would need to know about. No matter what we did to him, all he did to us was give us his belly, wag his tail, and lick any face that came close enough. This dog is an ambassador. He loves life, and is willing to fight for it." And the tears came.
It took me a minute to truly grasp what I was looking at. I asked the vet a lot of questions. I asked her if his skin condition was contagious to my dog, and she said no. I asked her what it was, and she said it was pure, unadulterated, filth and grime and crud, mixed in with the absence of nutrition. It took me a few minutes to take it all in. Like I said, I have never been in the presence of anything like this before...not in real life. I looked at his skin. I looked at his ears. I looked at that grotesquely disfigured leg. "Was he a bait dog?" I asked quietly. She nodded her head and said "I would bet everything I own on that...yes, he was a bait dog." In case you are unfamiliar, this guy's life consisted of being used to "train" fighting dogs...he was most likely chained while other tortured and abused dogs were "taught" to rip him to shreds. Bait dogs usually come from the "failures" of fighting dogs...the dogs that are just too nice to fight themselves. I asked if his leg was the result of a kick or a car, and the vet told me that it was also the result of a dog bite. That the bite became so infected that the bones of his legs were being eaten away and were crumbling. That his joints had dislocated. And that his leg had been that way for months and months. He had puncture wounds (more bite marks) that were much more recent than the leg injury. She told me that, in other words, he continued to serve as bait, chained in place with only 3 good legs, while other dogs ripped him apart. And the tears came.
You'd think he'd be mean. You'd think he'd hate humans. You'd know he'd hate dogs. But you'd be more wrong than you can imagine. This dog had the staff in tears because of the love he showed to them. He watched the office cats walk by his kennel and he never even blinked. He saw other dogs, and the most notice he took was to wag his tail and smile at them.
I met One Of Those Dogs Today. And he still has no name. I can't think of one that even comes close to being good enough for him. And the tears are still coming.