Sunday, June 21, 2009


Who's this lampshade gamboling around the house?

It's Gamby!

She had surgery ten days ago. Two days before that, she started showing signs of pain again. Gamby had noticeable difficulty getting up and settling down, whining in pain at the effort. We also noticed that she painfully lifted her right hind leg up when walking, using only three legs to get around.

We've wanted to bring her to this new vet, recommended by the last vet we took her to for her vaccination jab. The recommended vet has done surgeries for similar conditions before. We've been wanting to take Gamby for a consultation to see what options there are to help her, but couldn't get an appointment earlier as he was on holiday.

Luckily we managed to get an appointment on Saturday, just as Gamby's condition started deteriorating. The vet examined Gamby and said her hips are bad and her back legs are deformed, possibly due to her hip. He needed an x-ray of her hips, so he knocked her out with a couple of jabs and sent her in for an x-ray. We then sat outside in the waiting room for the diagnosis - with a stoned Gamby, tongue lolling to avoid choking, at our feet sleeping at our feet. We got a LOT of pitiful looks from the other patrons because with her tongue out, Gamby did look kind of - erm - deceased.

The vet called us in and explained Gamby's x-ray. Her hips are very bad, her right hip more so. The thigh bone is not sitting in the hip socket correctly, instead its rubbing against the edge of the socket where there are a lot of nerves, hence the pain. He explained the surgery needed, using x-rays of another dog that had it done previously. The hip bone is cut in 3 places, and tied to a support that will help the bone grow into its correct position. This surgery is a 3-hour, major surgery and must be done when the puppy is between 5 - 10 months. Also, it costs quite a bit.

The vet also explained an alternative, to get her out of the pain. Another lesser surgery can be done, where the ball of the thigh bone is removed completely. The ball won't be rubbing against the hip socket anymore, and that's an instant pain reliever. The vet explained that Gamby will learn to use her leg muscles (in place of that bit of bone) to support herself and walk. This surgery is not suitable for heavier dogs though, they might not walk again because of the weight on the leg, but a husky is light and this type of surgery can be done. This surgery does not have a limited time-frame to must-do and the procedure takes about an hour. Also it costs one third of the other surgery.

The vet says we can go for the second option, especially as Gamby is in so much pain. He says that sometimes an x-ray can show hip dysplasia, but the dog does not show signs of pain, so that's ok as long as the dog is not suffering. But Gamby is obviously in much pain. He was holding Gamby's hips and legs while explaining this, and Gamby started to come around. Gamby whined and cried in pain, even through that haze of drug. The vet recommended we do surgery for the right hip first, as this was causing her the pain. After she has adjusted to her lack of ball bone and has built up muscle strength on her right side, we can come back in about 6 months time to do the other hip.

We were very impressed with the vet. We could see that he obviously loves dogs, and so does his staff. We were very happy at how they handled Gamby, soothing her like their own when she was injected for the knockout. We liked that the vet explained everything in detail, and did not push for the more expensive option. Instead he genuinely had the best interest of the dog in the treatment recommended. Also, he greeted all the other patrons like old friends. We decided to send Gamby for surgery, the second option.

The vet was done with surgery for the day (it was 4pm at that time), but he said he would do it that day, since its a short surgery, and Gamby was in pain. He'll also spay her since she'll already be under anesthetic. and at 6 months old its time for her to be spayed. We kissed Gamby good-bye and left her at the surgery.

We came back the next day and picked up this lampshade. We expected her to be fast asleep (Tagar was out for two whole days after she was spayed - that's an untold story yet), but we were pleasantly surprised with a smiling, tail-wagging Gamby. The vet took her out of the kennel and made her walk, which she did with no whine of pain at all. We were truly amazed. Gamby is not using her right hind leg still, but she's not yelping in pain, and that is a huge improvement. We could even touch her lower spine and back legs - something she never allowed us to before.

Oh. And the vet gave us the bone parts they took out of her. Gross.

For the next week the lampshade was gamboling around the house, knocking into doorways and furniture. Gamby was pretty annoyed at not being able to crawl under the bed, her favourite place in the room. At first she slept a lot, but as she gradually got her groove back she became more active, walking around with her lampshade. She was still using only 3 legs, but the vet said that will take time.

Gamby got a lot of attention, much to Tagar's annoyance. I hand feed her since her collar makes it hard to eat, and everytime I do jealous Tagar comes nosing, poking her head through seeking attention. We also pet Gamby a lot for being so strong, and Tagar comes running everytime, demanding her share of pets. Haha. Togo is not too bothered. He was like that when we first got Tagar, so I guess he's grown out of it.

This is the stitches. After about three days it started bleeding. We panicked of course, having so many bandages soaked with blood. We took her to the vet where they rebandaged her properly (you really need a good adhesive to stick to dense fur growing back). The vet says its normal, since the stitches are on a joint. Also its not all blood, its partly fluid from the new cavity.

I can't fit under the bed! Hummph.

Its been the required 10 days since the surgery, and we took Gamby back to have her stitches taken out. Its a testament of how wonderful the vet is - while he's taking out her stitches, Gamby was actually wagging her tail. Wow. Togo and Tagar start shaking in fear as soon as we reach their regular vet. What a difference! Gamby did not stop wagging her tail until we got back to the car.

Gamby is fine now. She's mighty pleased the collar has come off. She beginning to use her leg, to balance and also when she is walking slowly. When she gets excited she forgets and runs about on 3 legs (yes, she runs now). We're very happy that she is happy =)

Friday, June 12, 2009


Just wanted to share this photo of Togo being cute.
He does it without fail, when there's adoring visitors around.

Photo courtesy of Kian Yang.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


How do you play with a puppy with bad hind-legs?

Here Tagar demonstrates how to play with 'I'll scream bloody murder if your press my back legs' Gamby.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Puppy's Story

Thank you guys for the tons and tons of well wishes sent to our little puppy.

Sorry for the lack of update. The few weeks after the last post was very painful, and I just couldn't bring myself to blog about it.

This is what happened :

First we took puppy to our regular vet. He gave us a very grim prognosis, and referred us to a vet in Jalan Ampang to get an x-ray done as he did not have an x-ray machine at his practice. The ride home from this vet visit was very dour.

Next we took puppy to the Jalan Ampang vet for the x-ray. We had to leave her overnight, as she had to be anesthetized for the x-ray and that must be done on an empty stomach, to avoid the puppy throwing up while unconscious and choking on the puke. We were pleased at how both the vet and his assistant handled the pup, carrying her correctly and very very gently - we knew we were leaving her in good hands.

The next day we had our answer - the x-ray confirmed that puppy has hip dysplasia, and quite severe for her age. She also has a loose kneecap on her right hind leg, adding to her walking difficulty. Hip dysplasia is not curable, but it can be helped along. The pain is from her hip condition, and it will be something that will come along on and off. As she grows bigger, the extra weight on her hips might only make the condition worse.

So what do we do? This was the vet's advice - 'I don't advice you to keep her, but I don't advice you to put her down either. It's up to you and the quality of life you can provide for her.'

He told us there is a surgery we can do (if we can afford to) to help her hip, which must be done before puppy is a year old. The surgery might help for a year, or it might help for 9 years, or it might not help at all - no guarantee.

Puppy was not moving much, and eating and drinking badly. She still wails in pain at the slightest move. Togo and Tagar could not understand why puppy will not play like before, and their curios nosing and attempts to play only distressed her more.

We had a choice to make. What do we do about puppy? We did not plan on having more than 2 fur-kids. Especially not at a time when we could afford neither the time nor money (a baby very soon, plus a 20% cut in our household income from the current economic times) to take another puppy, much less a special puppy with special needs throughout her life.

Let's rephrase the question : If we had a special needs baby born, would we snuff his life just because he's an inconvenience? OF COURSE NOT.

Puppy was still very poorly at that time. We gave ourselves two weeks to decide again - if she does not improve and is suffering too much, the kindest thing to do was maybe to let go. I set two personal indications to judge - if puppy's tail wags come back, and if she starts walking about with her tail curled up (they do that when they're happy).

The next two weeks the household adjusted. We stopped puppy's daily painkillers dose. We set her on a routine to get her to walk and use her legs, on the rough surface outside which is better for her condition that the smooth floors inside. I started toilet training her (we never did because she was meant to leave, and then she got too sick to). Puppy started eating and drinking better with a routine. We carried her up and down stairs, as stairs were bad for her. Slowly we got rewarded with more and more tail wags.

Puppy was still yelping in pain, though. She's constantly running away to hide from everyone. After a week or so, we realised she might be yelping more from the fear of pain than actual pain, when we or the big ones touch her. We tried out our theory and it's true - she yelps when she's knows she's going to be touched, a reaction to fear. Getting her to overcome this fear was a slow process that taught us a lot of patience. We had to re-gain her trust that we are not going to hurt her, and slowly she got more confidence to come out of hiding and amble around at her own pace.

We kept and eye on Togo and Tagar, to avoid them harassing her so much. We're amazed at how well they adjusted to puppy's limitations. They stopped calling her to play rough games with them. After learning that puppy will yelp only if they touched her back legs, they learnt to sit down and play-bite with puppy, head and front legs only. They take turns playing with her like this, keeping puppy entertained for hours (and giving us more tail wags). When Togo and Tagar play zoomies, puppy learnt to stay out of the way, and in turn the two big ones learnt not to run into her. These little adjustments are so heart-warming to see.

And this is puppy now, chewing up our floor

We've named her Gamby, for gamboling around so much. She's much better now, and has gained a lot of strength in her back legs. She will walk funny all her life, but she's a happy puppy, and that's all that matters to us.

And yes, we get a lot of tail wags daily, and Gamby does walk around with her tail up now =)
Tales of the furry, scrunchie-eating, lovable tyrant.