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  #1  
Old 05-05-2012, 07:31 PM
Imago Imago is offline
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So I'm slated to babysit a wounded dog. What do I need to know?

He's an 11-year-old black lab with a severed anterior cruciate ligament. Due to a heart condition, they can't repair it with surgery. The owner is looking at a splint but right now everything's unsure. There'll be four weeks of recovery before he can walk at all, and running is absolutely out.

Technically he belongs to his owner's son, a former classmate of mine from high school, but the old pup is her baby without a doubt. She went so far as to ask me for a reference when I volunteered to sit him and to draw up a schedule. I know her mostly from online communication right now (she's a fan of my writing); one of those Buddhist businesswomen types, outdoorsy, pragmatic, assertive. Which is to say that though we get along quite well now, if anything were to happen to Doggy on my watch I'd expect my head to roll.

Dog and owner live a four hour drive away and she will be gone from June 2nd to the 10th. I'm somewhat experienced with dogsitting but I haven't done it in a while (mostly just during the years when everyone else babysat for pay). She's been pretty open about the fact that this will chain both dog and sitter to the house and front yard, and says he can be left alone for an hour or less at a time. It's quiet up there and a very short walk to a peaceful riverbank; I don't mind being penned in.

Right now the dog is noticeably depressed by the new movement restrictions, but in my experience dogs adapt well to this kind of thing given a bit of time. The stress of being restricted has screwed his digestive system up atm, and he can't have his pain meds until that settles down. He already has arthritis in his hips- the leg injury is going to speed that up a lot, the vet says. In her words, "Calm and relaxing energy is what this babyboy needs".

I volunteered rather quickly on a hunch that 1) it would be hard for her to find any other sitter with equally good intentions, enough spare time and any experience and 2) I'd probably benefit from a week of uncomplicated responsibility and canine company myself. So while I don't quite think I'm in over my head, I definitely want to take every precaution!
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2012, 08:05 PM
Imago Imago is offline
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Oh! I should add that the owner bought her plane tickets without cancellation insurance.
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:25 PM
MaddyStrut MaddyStrut is offline
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I don't know much about wounded dogs other than doing what the vet tells me when one of mine has an injury. However, I think I can give you some advice on managing the owner! My suspicion is that you will do just fine with the dog (since you're willing to follow instructions), but the owner may be a bit, err. over concerned.

My suggestion would be to ask the owner if she would like status updates on the dog and, if so, how she'd like to receive them. If she's worried about the dog, it will help ease her mind to get a daily text letting her know he's fine, an email photo, etc.

I know from watching after injured horses that nervous owners do better with frequent updates. It lets them know that you are also concerned with their animal, and keeps them from worrying if they get regular updates that all is well.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:41 PM
FrillyNettles FrillyNettles is offline
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You need to know how to contact his vet, and you need to be sure she has left written, signed permission for you to seek veterinary treatment, should it be necessary.

And there are PLENTY of pain medication options that won't mess with his stomach, so you need to ask your friend to be sure he has adequate pain medication before she leaves. This is a painful condition, and I cannot even imagine how he is doing without pain meds. No wonder he is depressed.
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:12 PM
StGermain StGermain is offline
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I've had two dogs with CCL tears. Both had it surgically repaired. Post-surgical recovery sounds a lot like what you're going to be into. Crated at all times you can't be with him. If he's calm while you're there, you can allow him out of the crate, but with limited activity. No running. Leash walk outside. If she doesn't have a ramp for him already, it wouldn't hurt for her to get one or have one built. Something like this should do. If he doesn't naturally have a calm temperament, she should ask the vet for sedation as well as pain meds.

You'll do fine. Just take it quiet and easy.

StG
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  #6  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:45 PM
Imago Imago is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaddyStrut View Post
My suggestion would be to ask the owner if she would like status updates on the dog and, if so, how she'd like to receive them. If she's worried about the dog, it will help ease her mind to get a daily text letting her know he's fine, an email photo, etc.
That's a really good idea, actually. Thanks a bunch!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrillyNettles View Post
You need to know how to contact his vet, and you need to be sure she has left written, signed permission for you to seek veterinary treatment, should it be necessary.

And there are PLENTY of pain medication options that won't mess with his stomach, so you need to ask your friend to be sure he has adequate pain medication before she leaves. This is a painful condition, and I cannot even imagine how he is doing without pain meds. No wonder he is depressed.
That's pretty important- I'll be sure to mention that when she calls me to arrange transportation this week.

The issue with his stomach is that because it's due to the stress, not the meds themselves, no matter what he takes it goes through him before it can do much.
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2012, 06:12 AM
MaddyStrut MaddyStrut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imago View Post
The issue with his stomach is that because it's due to the stress, not the meds themselves, no matter what he takes it goes through him before it can do much.
Check if he has chew toys. Chewing can be a big stress reliever for dogs. I like the Kong toys because you can stuff them with something yummy if the dog isn't initially inclined to chew. Since he has digestive issues, you probably don't want to fill it with peanut butter or anything. But you can put a light coating (barely even a film--he'll smell it) to encourage him to start licking it.

With anything new, I would ask the owner first. Ideally, I'd have her introduce chewing toys or anything new herself prior to your arrival.
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  #8  
Old 05-06-2012, 09:56 AM
Merneith Merneith is offline
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My advice is to tell her that something's come up and you can't look after the dog after all, so she should board him at her vet or somewhere where he can get injections of painkillers. He'll still be sad, being in a kennel all day and missing his owner, but at least he won't be suffering in pain.

Yeah, it will cost her, but too damn bad.
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2012, 10:12 AM
codgerone codgerone is offline
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There are a few pain relief options. Ask the owner to speak to her vet about using Tramadol. It's an opiate based painkiller which we are successfully using on our old Labrador who has quite severe arthritis.

Beside being a powerful pain reliever, opiate based products tend to have a soporific effect as well which in the circumstances may be useful as the dog will be too stoned to want to walk, run or chase things.
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  #10  
Old 05-06-2012, 12:33 PM
Imago Imago is offline
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She emailed me this morning to tell me his stomach's calmed down. That means pain meds are a go; I'll ask whether he has chew toys just in case, and I'll ask what they're giving him for pain.
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  #11  
Old 05-07-2012, 12:41 AM
Hockey Monkey Hockey Monkey is offline
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Set up a free email address for the dog (something like fidosmith@yahoo.com) and send her updates from his perspective. If she's into that kind of thing. I would love it.
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  #12  
Old 05-07-2012, 07:26 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Expect a lot of sleeping, and possibly whining while he's awake. Just be there, and be comforting. If he's a cuddler, let him cuddle up. Sleeping in the sun helped our dog a lot while he was recovering from an extremely painful heartworm treatment after we adopted him with the condition. The heat was soothing, and he seemed to calm down a lot from being outside in the peaceful sunshine.
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  #13  
Old 05-08-2012, 05:34 PM
Imago Imago is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Monkey View Post
Set up a free email address for the dog (something like fidosmith@yahoo.com) and send her updates from his perspective. If she's into that kind of thing. I would love it.
Hmm. Don't quite think she'd be into that. But then, I'm possibly meeting her on the 26th so I'll have more to decide on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
Expect a lot of sleeping, and possibly whining while he's awake. Just be there, and be comforting. If he's a cuddler, let him cuddle up. Sleeping in the sun helped our dog a lot while he was recovering from an extremely painful heartworm treatment after we adopted him with the condition. The heat was soothing, and he seemed to calm down a lot from being outside in the peaceful sunshine.
Good thing it's summer then!
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