Friday, February 24, 2017

Life Steps Almost Right

Since Barley's toe nail injury, things have been a little off around here. Barley had to stay in her bandage for two full days first and if she moved to quickly when I let her outside, she'd limp. Her pain meds made her a little loopy. She'd walk around the house like she wasn't sure where she was supposed to go, she'd curl up in her bed, and inevitably, that's when I would have to get up to go to the bathroom or pull something out of Rye's mouth or refill Soth's bowl, and she'd get up and start wandering again.

When the bandage came off, I was disgusted. Not only was there dried blood soaked through several layers of gauze and vet wrap, her nail was just a tiny sliver and there was a fleshy nubbin (I assume the quick) hanging out of it. (There is a reason I majored in English and not nursing--I do not handle fleshy nubbins well.) 

She was fine walking around the house, but if she ran in the yard, it would start to bleed and she come in limping. I wasn't able to let her and Rye out at the same time because every time they were out, she'd chase Rye around the yard and then stop and hold her paw up and look at me like it was my fault. 

It's hard to resist playing with your sister even when your foot hurts.

As soon as I took the bandage off on Monday, it was clear that she was not going to be ready for agility class later in the week. After talking to our trainer to see what her opinion was, we decided that it would be better not to take Barley to class--even just for some focus work and no jumping--and Rye came along instead. She got to do some socialization with another classmate who had just been neutered and couldn't jump. We got to do some relaxation work while she watched the other dogs run the course. It was a really good experience for her, but I was heartbroken.

Every week (minus a few holidays and a couple short vacations) for 5.5 years, Barley and I have gone to agility class together. Leaving her at home to go somewhere we always go together felt like I was betraying her. Most of my friends tried to comfort me by telling me they feel the same guilt when they have to leave one of their pets home alone--but that wasn't it. I don't mind leaving Barley to do things solo with Rye. I enjoy going to obedience with Rye every week. I don't necessarily enjoy--but know we need--our solo walks without Barley (and the only reason I don't enjoy them is because Rye is a monster on a leash). 

Agility has been such an important part of the way Barley and I have bonded. It's the one hour a week when no matter what is going on in the world or at work, it's just me and Barley. We're a team and even though I sometimes don't do the best job communicating with her (because I'm a klutz!), when she reads my signals and we have a really good run and she smiles up at me, I couldn't feel prouder of either of us. Missing out on that part of our week felt like I was missing a part of myself. 

We also missed out on an entire week of walks. My step tracker was starting to think that I'd died because I had so few steps. Barley was starting to get into things--like stealing bags of treats off the counters--because she was bored.

We were able to work in a few noseworks sessions to cure Barley's boredom--which was really fun because we hadn't broken out our scent kit since right after we'd moved into our house almost a year ago. Barley was a little rusty, but she had so much fun getting to work in some way. 


When the temperatures finally climbed into the 50s, we had to give walking a try. I wrapped Barley's foot in a layer of gauze and some vet wrap to protect the nubbin and we were able to get a little stroll in. Unfortunately, being unexperienced in wrapping dog feet, our wrap fell of about half a mile into the first walk and there was no good way to get it back on, so we had to turn around and go home. That short distance with no wrapping irritated Barley's toe enough that I spent the rest of the night convincing her not to lick it. Eventually, I mastered wrapping her foot enough that we could get in 1.5-mile walks.
Who can think of posing when there's fresh air to sniff?


By the time agility came around again, Barley was walking without a wrap and running in the yard without limping or causing her toe to bleed--and the nubbin and shriveled up and fallen off (IN MY BED!), so I decided we could go to class and see what happened. I brought vet wrap in case it looked like she was bothered by her foot and we jumped her at 16 inches instead of 20 to ease her back into activity, but she was great. A little slower than usual after almost two weeks of inactivity, but she was focused and excited. When we got into the car, I started to tear up because it had just felt so good to be back with my girl doing what we love. (Can you imagine how insufferable I'll be if Barley ever has something more serious than a hurt toe to deal with?!) 

I think we still have to be careful with her toe, especially on rougher surfaces than a padded gym floor, but it feels so good to be getting back to our routines again.

20 comments:

  1. As hard as it was to miss out on your regular agility practice with Barley, it sounds like it spurred a fresh appreciation in both of you. Sometimes those unplanned pauses help you come back to an activity even stronger.

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    1. We were both so happy to be back out in the world together! It's easy to forget what a big part of your life things like that are until you have to go without them.

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  2. Awwwww, poor foot. When Torrey had the hurt leg it was so hard to not go on long walks. I would end up walking by myself, because I need the exercise too, but I always felt empty handed and out of sorts.

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    1. I totally understand! I live in a small town, so there are coffee shops and stores that are only a mile or so away--which makes me feel like I should walk to them, but walking any distance without Barley makes me feel all weird and awkward.

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  3. "she'd chase Rye around the yard and then stop and hold her paw up and look at me like it was my fault" - awww!! I'm so sorry you've had to deal with that nail/paw issue. What a bummer. But it seems to be slowly be getting better - maybe cover her paw with a doggie boot when out on walks/doing agility?

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    1. I got her some new heavier duty boots, but by the time they got here, things have healed up enough that I don't think we really need them. We got a nice leisurely trail walk in today and she wasn't bothered at all (except when I made her stop constantly so I could check her foot and see if it looked like we should put a boot on it!).

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  4. In your bed?!?

    Glad she'a feeling better! So disconcerting to have your best pal on the injured reserve.

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    1. I know! It was so gross! Thankfully I saw it before I got into bed and could put clean bedding on!!

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  5. I should do a video about how to vet wrap a foot... There is a special trick to it, but once you get it, the wrap stays on for anything. Glad that she is starting to feel better.

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    1. A video would be awesome! We got the hang of it after I realized that I just hadn't wrapped high enough so every time she bent her foot it would slide down a little farther until it just slipped off. Hopefully we won't need to worry about wrapping it ever again, but tips would definitely be appreciated just in case :)

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  6. Oh, I know just what you mean. When Cricket was unable to play ball, I think I took it harder than she did. Playing ball was our every day activity and I was lost without it! Thank goodness she got better.
    I'm so glad Barley is finally getting better and you're getting back to your regular activities.
    Oh, guess what? Luke broke a toenail! I won't go into the whole long story (I'll probably tell it on the blog), but I'll just say it went easier than it did for you and Barley (sorry).
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Poor Luke! I'm glad it wasn't as bad an experience as Barley's was! And I know how much you missed playing ball with Cricket, so I've been so happy to see the pictures of her playing ball again!

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  7. Oh, in the bed? That is gross, haha. Poor girl!

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    1. I know!!!! I definitely questioned why we domesticated dogs that night ;)

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  8. Keeping a foot wrapped is tough. I hope Barley heals up quickly!

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    1. She seems to be back to her wild self again :) Thanks for the good wishes!

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  9. You should keep a set of PAWZ boots on hand. They are so much easier and better than bandaging. For an injured paw they provide great protection! Glad you are back to doing what you love. We are looking forward to Mom healing so we can start walking and running again! Injuries are no fun!

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    1. We have PAWZ, but the opening is small enough that once I get my fingers in there to stretch it open and then have to guide her foot in it's hard to get Bar's foot in without rubbing it on the edges and her sore toe was one of the outside ones--I was also worried that they were too thing to keep her toe from rubbing, so wrapping it let me put a few layers around her toe. We ordered some heavier duty boots that are easier to get on but they came after she'd already healed enough for agility, so now we'll just keep them in case we need them in the future :)

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  10. Toenail and pad injuries are the worse. They take forever to heal. We have had our share of them over the years. With crazy active dogs, it happens. Glad you are back at it.

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    1. I'm assuming that Rye had something to do with Barley's injury--probably making Barley run in a way she normally wouldn't--because as active as Barley is, she's very dainty. Rye plays hard and expects the same kind of enthusiasm from Barley (who sometimes runs and hides under the house with Rye gets too wild). It was much easier to take some time off from walking with Rye for her injury than it was to take time off from adventuring with Barley!

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