Saturday, January 9, 2016

You Have A Three-Legged Dog...How Cool!

Since adopting Lobo, when people discover he only has 3 legs, one of three things happen. The first, they say nothing about his disability nor do they question it. The second, in a genuinely compassionate tone, they'll say something along the lines of, "Oh, poor sweetie. What happened?" The third is a response that gets under my skin. In a much-too-excited voice, "How cool! You have a three-legged dog!"
This bothers me. A lot. 

Having a "three-legged dog" isn't cool. We didn't adopt Lobo to boost our level of cool. We're not the Cool Dog Moms On The Block because we have the only "three-legged dog" in the neighborhood of many dogs. We didn't get a free toaster oven or year's supply of anything for adopting a "three-legged dog."

We adopted Lobo, after fostering him for about 2 weeks, for several reasons. He immediately bonded with Coco and Sophie on a level we have yet to understand. He chose us.The universe did a little shimmy shake and we just knew it was meant to be. There was no discussion, prior to adopting him, about how much our life would change. Our frame of mind, through the tears, was, "We'll do what we have to do."

Life did change. A lot.

Lobo is a small dog. About 8 pounds. In addition to only having one hind leg, his other hind leg is weak. There's a scar that circles entirely around that ankle. We suspect he sustained an injury, at some point prior to being rescued, and it went untreated. These disabilities minimizes his mobility. While he can dart across the yard with impressive speed, it's never for too long. His hind leg tires out quickly. He's yet to make it around the block. And, stairs...nope. We tried for months.

He's also not able to jump on the sofa or chair or bed. Too high for him. The last week of November we built Lobo a ramp. He can get up the ramp and down, but it's not independently. Most of the time, his hind leg gives out. He doesn't have the strength to make the incline. He knows this. There's hesitation when heading up the ramp and down. Now, the majority of the time, we're back to square one.

Square one consists of Lobo sitting at our feet and making one of his dozen of noises to let us know, "Mom, I'd like to get on the sofa, please." Sometimes, he'll jump down to fetch his favorite plush toy after realizing he forgot it. A minute or so later, he's at our feet, his toy beside of him, making that noise. He wants to be on the sofa...with his "baby."

Our kitchen floor, being the only non-carpeted floor aside from the bathroom, is decorated with non-slip rug runners and scatter rugs. It looks more like a patchwork quilt than a kitchen floor. This prevents Lobo from wiping out. He did that quite a bit. The moment his little paws hit the linoleum, he'd wipe out like a baseball player barely making it to home plate in time.

Just recently, we had to remove the bed frame from our bed. Last month, Lobo fell off the bed. He's never attempted to jump off. He knows he can't. He simply got too close to the edge of the bed and was excited about something. Thankfully, his landing was somewhat graceful. No injuries. We didn't want to risk it happening again and falling into the category of not-so-lucky-this-time-around. The bed frame was removed. It's low enough to where he can jump down although still too high to jump up.

Shortly after we adopted Lobo, he tested positive for Lyme Disease. He was getting updated on shots. While there, we had him tested. He was on strong antibiotics for a month. The most common symptom of Lyme Disease in dogs is joint inflammation which can cause lameness. It can last for a few days, go away and reoccur. With one hind leg gone and the other weak, this will hinder his mobility even more. Lyme disease can also cause kidney problems.

What's also "not cool" is Lobo lived 2 years with 4 functioning legs. His disability doesn't stem from a birth defect. Lobo's hind leg required amputation because of neglect. His hind leg was infested with Gangrene. He was on death's door when rescued. In fact, there was a couple of "close calls" while on the operating table.

In addition to Gangrene, Lobo was infested with fleas, emaciated, had lost most of his fur from the neck down, was covered in scabs and had an underlying previous injury to his other hind leg. 

It was a miracle he made it through surgery. I often wonder what it was like for him to wake up from surgery realizing there was a leg missing. The confusion of not being able to do a lot of things he once had. The frustration. How uncomfortable it was.

We witnessed his frustration, and still do from time to time, when he tried to jump on the sofa, but couldn't. There are many times, and this is ongoing, when he has an itch that needs scratching, but he can't. His stump moves as if he's scratching, but he can't quite figure out why there's no relief. That's the point where he runs to one of us, makes one of his many noises, and we just know. He has an itch.

Another issue, and one we add a little humor to, is his penis. The humor came to life the day he had his sutures removed. We had to inquire as to why his "teetee" is almost always protruding out. The doctor made sure he didn't have Paraphimosis (the inability to retract his penis back into the sheath). It was determined that he didn't. Lobo was an intact male when rescued. He was neutered during the surgery to remove his hind leg. Living two years intact was probably the reason why his "teetee" was out more than it should.

The problem with this is his "teetee" protruding more than it should is it gets dry. Kind of like dry-winter-skin-hands. What could we do to alleviate the dryness? The doctor recommended a couple of water-based, water-soluble personal lubricants and showed us how to apply it. These lubricants are found at the drugstore. Nestled in the "intimates"section.

There we are. At our local drugstore. Buying K-Y Jelly. For our "three-legged dog." This is when the humor surfaces. 

To date, he's gotten a lot better about retracting his "teetee" however, it can prove challenging during photo shoots. And, of course, when we introduce him to other humans...

All of the above mentioned is just the tip of the ice-berg of how our life has changed and the almost-daily obstacles faced after adopting a "three-legged dog." None of it is cool. The possibility that Lobo may need a stroller or "wheels" down the road isn't cool. His anxiety isn't cool. His fears, deriving from the situation he was rescued from, isn't cool. His fears include being left alone for any amount of time, closed doors and loud noises.

Deciphering his fears, where they stem from and providing a solution is challenging with rescue pups. We do the best we can. With a lot of love, patience, effort and observation, things do improve. 

A few days after Lobo was transported to our home as a foster pup, we knew there would be strict criteria for those interested in adopting him. Lobo needed to be adopted into a family where someone would be home most of the time or, at the very least, be able to take him where they went. Lobo has a genuine fear of hearing things he's not able to physically see. I suspect this comes from being kept in a crate for hours on end or locked in a small room or closet.

He in pain. Sick. Injured. Out of sight. Out of mind. Neglected. Probably hungry. He learned to fear the unknown. Sounds. People he couldn't approach due to confinement. 

Lobo isn't a novelty. Our life has changed drastically. Little stuff. Big stuff. It will continue to alter over time. None of that matters because something greater trumps any of that. Unconditional love. The universe shifting. How he bonded with Coco and Sophie. And us. He chose us. The stars aligned. We just knew.

Daily life isn't always cotton candy and rainbows. There are days when he sits on the table with me, while I type a column, because there's something going on outside that he's afraid of. Lobo isn't nearly as independent as Coco and Sophie. We joke and say, "He's our needy boy."

In the spring, we'll have to purchase a stroller for him. We're still brainstorming on solutions for him to get up and down from the bed (even after being lowered) and sofa independently. The list goes on.

It's not cool.

At the end of the day, we're a family. We get through the trials and tribulations of daily life as a family. Even if I have to meet a deadline at 3 in the morning. We do it. Whatever it takes. We trudge through the challenges. The well-intended schedules and efforts towards time management. Lots of wiggle room. Nothing ever goes as planned.

But, that's okay.

Lobo is remarkable. Amazing. All of our kids are. Our life, in a lot of aspects, is unique. Slightly unconventional...especially when date-night (which consists of grocery shopping and a trip to Walmart or Target) ends with a quick stop at our local drugstore. To purchase K-Y Jelly. For Lobo's "teetee."

At the end of the day, we both exhale. In all of our un-coolness, we wouldn't change a thing.

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