Author Archives: twokittiesonepittie

Day 4 at Home: A Zoe Update and A Thank You

Every single day Zoe is getting a little bit better. Since my last post, we’ve been able to get her to start eating again! Her appetite has returned, thanks in part to the addition of some hypoallergenic wet food (mmm…). Granted, she only is willing to eat her gelatinous canned meat directly from my hands (a vegetarian’s dream), I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help her rebuild her strength.

Today has been Zoe’s best day yet; she really seems more like herself. We switched from icing her incisions to hot packing them, a change she seemed to welcome. Her cankles have subsided (can you imagine, the leggy Zoe with cankles?!) and while she’s still quite sore, she’s not as painful-seeming. Now that some of the swelling has subsided and thanks to her fancy haircut, it’s really clear how much leg muscle she’s lost. For who knows how long, she’s been relying on her upper-body strength. The good news is that today marks the beginning of 12 weeks of physical therapy where we can work to rebuild her muscle mass. Every two weeks, the program changes, so here’s what the first two weeks involve: 
First, there are the “passive range of motion exercises.” Over the next two weeks, we have to do a series of exercises that involve slowly flexing her knees forward and backward (5-10 times). Because she was signaling to me that this was uncomfortable for her (a lot of nervous lip-licking/turning back and looking at me), I didn’t push it. Hopefully we’ll have better luck tomorrow. The second component of her rehab is the “weight shifting exercise.” That involves standing her squarely on firm footing, and slowly distributing her weight evenly between both her legs, hough never putting all her weight on either injured leg. This is a tough exercise for a dog who’s had surgery on both  hind legs, but her surgeon said that we should still try a modified version of it. I’m terrified of hurting her, so I also took it easy on her today. 
After getting through the parts she didn’t like, I got to reward her with the third element of physical therapy: walking! Starting today, we are required(!!!) to do slow, short leash walks 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times daily. In addition to mixing up the rehab exercises, we get to increase the length of the walks every two weeks. 
It won’t surprise anyone that Zoe was delighted to be outside. Her tail was wagging and she was even doing a modified version of her prance. Believe it or not, she was even trying to pull me. Fortunately, all that time we spent working on “watch me” really paid off because I was able to use it as a means of slowing her down. The best part was that she was just so happy. As I’ve said before, walking is such an integral part of Zoe and my life together, so the feeling was mutual. 
Beyond learning how resilient Zoe is, this experience has also made me realize how many caring people K. and I have in our life. From phone calls, get-well cards, gifts, messages, hugs, prayers, emails, and even dog-sitting, many, many people have been there for us. I truly feel like people understand that to love us is to love Zoe. We are so grateful for the support.  
Zoe’s SociaBulls buddy, Willie, even lent her his Comfy Cone
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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Zoe Update, Day 2: Home and Resting Up

Zoe is home!!!!!!!!!!

K. and I are so happy to have her back. It was too quiet here without her! (Though the cats loved it!).

Today is definitely a better day than yesterday. I was at the vet’s office yesterday for over an hour going over very specific instructions for Zoe’s recovery. First, there were all the medications to go over, though that that was the easy part. Here’s the real challenge: for the next eight weeks, she must remain in a “controlled confinement.” Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Well, it isn’t. But it’s also crucial for Zoe’s recovery. A controlled confinement means that Zoe either has to be crated or supervised VERY closely in a small room without furniture she can jump on. We have to carry her up and down the stairs of our three story walk up, and absolutely cannot let her run or jump on anyone. God help us! The reason this is so important is because the first eight weeks are the critical period where the TTA device fuses. If she doesn’t injure herself during that time, the success rate for this surgery is very high and the chance of re-injury is extremely low. We are going to have to be super vigilant about all of this — especially once she starts feeling better! Right now, it’s not such a problem.

Zoe on the car ride home.
 I angered many a Chicago driver because I refused to drive over 25 miles an hour! 

After the initial excitement wore off yesterday, Zoe started to seem like she was in a lot of pain and grew really groggy. Her legs are very bruised and swollen, and the incisions are gigantic. (K., who had ACL surgery 6 years ago, says that he and Zoe will now be twins). It was awful to see her hurting and not be able to do much beyond give her pain medication and ice her legs. Even though she was super uncomfortable, she was still Zoe. No matter how terrible she felt, she would raise her head a little and wag her tail when we pet her or came in the room.

Sad Zoe face. 
The main issue we encountered yesterday was her refusal to eat. This isn’t unusual because she’s on pain killers, an anti-inflammatory, and antibiotics — all of which could upset her stomach. So when I would try to feed her, she’d dramatically turn her head away in disgust. After a few hours at home, I did manage to get her to eat some dog treats and a few pieces of kibble out of my hands, but that was it. She’s markedly thinner now and needs to start eating again. 
Zoe’s skinny little shaved butt. So pathetic! (That’s a pain killer patch on her hip).

After much prompting, I was able to convince her to drink a tiny bit out of her SociaBulls water bottle. (Whatever works!). I was just relieved she was drinking a little. Before we went to sleep, we were able to take her outside and get her to pee (again, the small victories…). If any of our neighbors saw or heard us, they must’ve thought we were crazy! (Picture us gathered around a scrawny, squatting dog in a giant cone of shame, clapping and exclaiming praise in high-pitched voices). We didn’t care. 

Because Zoe usually sleeps with us at night, I knew she would cry if we left her in her crate in the living room alone. While it’s nice that she has a big crate, it’s so big that we can’t fit it in our bedroom easily. So, I slept on the couch next to her crate — that is until Zoe woke me up at three in the morning. She was whining and I thought perhaps she wanted to go outside, but instead when I took her out of her create, she went to her water bowl and drank a ton. I’ve never been so happy to be woken up in the middle of the night!
By the morning, she seemed better. She’s still quite stiff, but she is a little more alert and has drank water without any prompting. She’s also willing to take treats from me, but is still rejecting her regular kibble. After talking to the vet, we decided that I should go pick up some special canned food for her because it has a higher water content and might be a special treat that’ll entice her to eat. Hopefully that will work! 
My study buddy.
We don’t start physical therapy with her until Saturday, but I’m looking forward to getting her moving again. In the meantime, I’m glad to see her resting. 
That’s the Zoe update for now. Thank you again for all your love! We appreciate it! 

A Wordy Wednesday: Zoe Update

For those of you who follow us on Facebook where we post regular updates, this may not be news to you (in which case, sorry for the repetition!). But in case you haven’t been following the FB page, here’s the current update:

Zoe’s surgery was successful! As the surgeon had suspected, she did have two complete ACL tears in both her hind legs, but her menisci were intact (that is a good thing!). She was already found standing up in her room the night after her surgery, and she is in good spirits. The bandages are off, and she’s able to go on short walks (which amazes me). The vet techs all say they love her, and that she’s still a sweetheart despite her pain. 🙂 It sounds very much like my Zoe is still being Zoe.

The main concern right now is that she’s refusing to eat or drink water. She also hasn’t urinated since they took the catheter out after her surgery. (I never thought I’d be writing about catheters on my animal blog, but here we are). I’m not that surprised that she’s not eating because the medication might be making her nauseous, and she’s a notoriously picky eater (who yes, is still on the kangaroo and oats diet). Last I heard, they were going to give her fluids intravenously in the hopes that it’d prompt her to go.

One of the hardest parts is that we haven’t been able to visit her. While visiting is allowed at the hospital, K. and I decided that despite the fact that *we* want to see her, it wouldn’t be in Zoe’s best interest She is absolutely not supposed to get excited right now, and we have a feeling that our presence would rile her up. Also, we were worried that she’d get anxious if we came and then left, so we’re holding off on seeing her until she can go home.

Anyway, I’m waiting for a morning update from the vet, so fingers crossed she’s doing better and can come home today. Thanks for all of your love and support! It means a lot to us!

We’re looking forward to the days at Prairie Wolf when Zoe can look and feel like this again. 🙂

***UPDATE***

I just spoke to the vet, and she drank water and peed (finally!). She can come home today!!! 🙂 I’m on my way to go get her now!

DIY Catifying the Apartment: Accommodating our Tree Dweller

Well, I can’t say I ever thought I’d write a blog post about catification, but here I am, approaching yet another level of crazy cat lady. But you know what, I’m okay with it.

As I wrote in my last post, it was extraordinarily difficult for me to leave the animals for two whole weeks. I managed to temper my anxieties with proper planning and support, and everything ended up working out perfectly. Thanks to my brother and his girlfriend, the animals remained happy and healthy. And as it turns out, their presence had an added and unexpected benefit: the value of a new perspective on old problems. 
I know I’ve written in the past about how Freddie and Stella despise each other. After I wrote that post, I got so many helpful suggestions from all of you that did help diffuse some of the tension. (Thank you!) Freddie and Stella have come a long way (no bloodshed in a while!), but the sheer hatred they feel toward one another remains. To make things worse, I’ve been so distracted by Zoe’s problems that I and started to accept the fighting as the norm and stopped trying to figure out the root of the problem. I would merely break them up when they would fight, and try to spend separate time with each of them in the meantime. 
Stella sitting with her “I’ll cut you paw” ready to spring into action.
After having my brother and his girlfriend stay here, they (gently) approached me with a great suggestion. Influenced by the cat daddy himself, Mr. Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell tv fame, they made a seemingly obvious observation: Freddie likes to be up high. Why not make it possible for him to perch above, leaving the ground free for Zoe and Stella to roam. As Jackson (I’d like to think we’re on a first name basis) explains on his show, cats are either “tree dwellers”who like to be up high, or “bush dwellers,” who prefer the safety of the ground. By making more space available to cats up high, you can double the size of his territory. And in our small city apartment, this sounded like the perfect solution.
While I’ve always been fine with the idea of a simple cat tree, K. vehemently resists. Our apartment, he believes, is already “animal-centric” enough without yet another piece of animal furniture taking up room. Creating shelves for Freddie seemed like the ideal compromise.
On the second day we came home, K. launched into the DIY project to “catify” the apartment. Here’s how he did it: 
1. He measured Freddie to determine how long and wide he is (and what would be a comfortable sized perch for him). Freddie did not enjoy this part. 🙂
2. He went to Home Depot and found wood that matched our black bookshelves, and had them cut to the preferred size (We ended up going with four shelves, two of which are two feet long and 8 inches wide. The two smaller shelves were 1 foot square). 
He purchased a material resembling an outdoor mat that you’d wipe your feet on, and cut it to match the same size of the wood. This way, Freddie would not slip when hopping from perch to perch. 
He bought screws, finishing washers, and then screwed the carpet into the shelves. 
He purchased two braces for each shelf, which he attached to the wood. He drilled anchors into the wall, and then attached the shelves accordingly.
The supplies.
K. at work! 
3. K. and I worked together to ensure the shelves were placed at heights and distances that would work well for Freddie to be able to get on and off them. 
Et voilá!
Can you find Freddie?!
It took a little coaxing to get Freddie to feel comfortable on the shelves, but now he loves them! 
Freddie in his bed on top of the bookshelf.
Now that Freddie has all this new territory, he and Stella haven’t been fighting as much. Okay, it’s just been a day. But I do see a difference! Hopefully it will continue to stay that way! 
P.S. As I’ve mentioned, Zoe’s surgery is today. Please keep her in your thoughts!  

On Human Separation Anxiety/Our European Adventure

Happy New Year, friends! We hope that 2013 is a happy and healthy year for all of you.

Things have been quiet on the blog and our Facebook page because K. and I went on our first European vacation together. When one of my dear friends from graduate school (who happens to be the momma of this precious girl) got engaged and decided to have her wedding in Germany (where she’s from), K. and I knew we couldn’t miss it! Given that K. and I haven’t been on a real vacation together since our short honeymoon nearly three years ago, we thought it was about time to take a trip.

When a bunch of our Chicago friends also decided to go to the wedding in Bonn, we, along with the wedding party, decided to spend New Years in Berlin. Since I had studied there for a summer two years ago, I was quite excited about the prospect! We also decided that since we would be in Europe anyway, we couldn’t miss visiting my host family in Strasbourg (I was an exchange student in high school and we’ve stayed in touch). And if we’d be in France, we decided to visit Paris too. So, our “little” vacation soon developed into a two-week long European excursion.

While I was super excited about the prospect of spending much-needed time away with K., I immediately became anxious about the idea of leaving the animals. Because K. used to be a cook,his combined unpredictable schedule and measly salary made travel for him impossible. So when I would have to leave for school-related events, he would be able to stay home with the animals. And even then, the longest I’d been away from Zoe was 4 days (that was hard for me!).

I am fortunate enough to have a younger brother who is a huge animal lover and agreed to stay at our place while K. and I were away. He is a senior in college, and would be on winter break, so the timing was perfect. (He is also waiting to hear back from veterinary schools right now, so keep your fingers crossed for him!!!!). I knew that he would be responsible, and I was happy that his girlfriend would be staying with him to help (she’s a fellow animal-lover with whom he started a student group that visits the local animal shelter to socialize the cats and dogs). I also enlisted the help of three wonderful SociaBulls friends to serve as back-ups (with house keys!) in the event that my brother needed help. I also had my parents nearby, and my extended family too. In short, Freddie, Stella, and Zoe would be in the best possible hands.

And yet, I couldn’t stop worrying. After reading Josh at That Touch of Pit’s post about his own anxieties about leaving Lucy, I knew he would be a good person to consult. He gave me some very sound suggestions: 1) first and foremost, make sure your completely trust your animals’ caretaker; 2) provide as much information as you can (veterinary info, emergency contacts, poison control, etc.); 3) notify your regular vet that you will be traveling and give them the name of the animals’ caretaker. I followed his advice and wrote a novel packet for my brother with all the information I could think of — and then some. I also left him our Care Credit Card in the event he needed to visit the vet, and also provided tons of emergency contacts (i.e., SociaBulls friends) who lived nearby and had our keys. I also spoke with my friends at Two Pitties in the City, Our Waldo Bungie, and Pittieful Love because I knew they had also traveled and left their pets at home. They all gave me great advice and support!

The day we left, the state where my brother lives got hit by a huge snow storm. While it was fine in Chicago, it was not safe for him to drive here. That meant that two of my fantastic “back-ups” sprung into action and agreed to stay here with the pets until my brother could arrive. Fortunately, the roads got cleared quickly, and my brother was able to come after all. While that was nerve-wracking for me, I was glad that I had taken the time to plan ahead and have friends “on call.”

I then tried to breathe and stop worrying. I basically emerged from the womb worrying, so this was not an easy thing to do.

But then, we arrived in Paris and I saw this:

And this:

Being surrounded by so much beauty made me pause and realize that I was in PARIS! And after that, I was able to relax. I skyped with my brother (and the animals) every few days, and my brother texted us daily updates. Having those reassurances made it possible for me sit back and enjoy the trip.

Back at home, Zoe had a great time with my family over the holidays.

Okay, here’s the point where I’m going to pretty much going to stop talking about animals (gasp!) and post tons of photos of my trip. Feel free to skip or peruse as you wish!

When we arrived in the morning, we had already been awake for 24 hours and were super jet lagged. We really wanted to go to sleep, but we forced ourselves to stay awake until ten that night. It was tough, but we managed by walking around and seeing all the sights:

We also ate lots of delicious food:

Double fisting ice cream cones from Maison Berthillon

Thank goodness K. is good with maps. If I was getting us around, we would always be lost.

Paris is magical at night. It’s a cliche to say that, but it’s so true.

More food (can you tell we like to eat?!).

Being a vegetarian in Paris = eating a lot of cheese. I was okay with that.

Only in Paris would it be necessary to have this sign in front of an ice cream and chocolate shop.

This was the best dinner we had in Paris:

We visited my favorite cemetery:

My expression: “Why are you taking a photo of me?” 
Père Lachaise Cemetery
We got to visit Proust:

And Jim Morrison:

We also saw everything from the whimsical to the beautiful:

So many bookstores.

Sacré Coeur of Montmartre

Obligatory Eiffel Tower shot.
It was just so nice to get to spend time together.
After Paris, we took the train to Strasbourg, which is a beautiful city with an entirely different feel:
Strasbourg is beautiful. It rained the whole time we were there though.

A mixture of German and French!
We were with my host family for Christmas. It was four hours of French deliciousness. It was so special to get to see them and to spend the holiday in France.

And here was Bonn, which is also lovely: 
Stieff Bears!

 My friend’s parents made us an incredible Bavarian breakfast:

Beer with breakfast = we love Germany.

Being the vegetarian I am, I took photos before the meat came out! Sorry sausage lovers. Trust me, there was a lot of wurst.

Here’s more Bonn:

A child playing on top of martyr statues

Mmm…Kölsch.

In the US, something is old if it’s 200 years old. This building dates back to the 13th century!

Beethoven was born in Bonn.
This is where Beethoven was born and lived until he was 22 (1792).

In Germany, it is socially acceptable for adults to drink Apfelschorle, which is basically carbonated apple juice. It. Is. Delicious.

I was very happy.

After celebrating at the wedding and eating/drinking our way through Bonn, we took the train to Berlin:  

We stayed in Mitte (formerly East Berlin) right near the Fernsehturm.
The Rotes Rathaus.

The world clock at Alexanderplatz.
Obligatory meat photo:

Wurst.

We saw all the sights along Unter den Linden:

Berliner Dom

I have no idea what is happening here: 
Brandenburger Tor: 
The rebuilt Hotel Adlon.

Berlin is filled Stolpersteine, which can literally be translated as “stumbling stones.”

“Here lived Irma Rosenthal. Born 1910. Deported 194?. Murdered in Auschwitz.”
“Here lived Karla Rosenthal. Born 1920. Deported 1943. Murdered in Auschwitz.”
“Here lived Ellen Rosenthal. Born 1933. Deported 1943. Murdered in Auschwitz.”

We also walked all over various other parts of Berlin:

Outside the Anne Frank Zentrum.

Berlin at night:

A building in the former East. “Capitalism murders, destroys, kills.”

“Men’s Fashion: XXL-XXXXXXXXL” 

And more sightseeing during the day:

Checkpoint Charlie.

They had a really interesting museum that we visited. It’s amazing what lengths people went to to try to escape East Germany.

Berlin has a big Turkish population = amazing food. This is the best Döner in Berlin.

In Berlin, New Years Eve is CRAZY. Picture the 4th of July in the United States, but way more fireworks in the streets.

The view from our apartment on New Year’s Eve.

We thought that the rumors of people shooting fireworks at other people in the street wasn’t true. It was.

A firework shot at an S-Bahn station that got stuck in a pipe.

Here are some other random highlights from the trip:

This is what happens when four Americans with a sweet tooth stay in one apartment in Berlin. 

The fancy department store in West Berlin. 

 They have a HUGE food section filled with culinary delights from all over the world:

Mmmmm. German mustard.

Most of the American food was gross and expensive!

Well, that’s it. When we got home, everything was perfect. My brother and his girlfriend did a wonderful job. Zoe and Freddie were very happy to see us. Stella is another story, but she’ll come around… 

Back to the usual.

P.S. Zoe’s surgery is on Monday, so I’ll be updating you on that soon! Please keep her in your thoughts!

Holiday Hiatus

Hello, friends. We wanted to let you know that we will be taking a brief holiday hiatus until after the new year. In the meantime, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

All our love,
Zoe, Freddie, and Stella (and their people)

Stay warm, everyone! 

Pittie Posse Secret Santa!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since I wrote one of my very first blog posts about Zoe’s Christmas adventures gone awry (or a-right, if you ask her).

Zoe’s honing her secret agent spy skills borrowed from Miss Polly Pocket

As you may recall, the holidays are most definitely Zoe’s favorite time of year. Her people are home all the time, and she gets to play in the snow (assuming that actually happens in Chicago this year). And of course, there are all the presents from her generous grandparents and great-grandparents!

Thanks, Grandma!

As if the holidays weren’t exciting enough, we were thrilled to be asked to be part of the annual “Pittie Posse Secret Santa” event with some of our very favorite bloggers:

After hearing the good news, Zoe anxiously awaited the arrival of her gift…

Zoe: “I’m bored. Should I play with Stella?” Stella: “I will cut you.”

And waited…

Zoe: “Hmm… how about Freddie?” Freddie (borrowing a line from Stella): “I will cut you.”

until it finally arrived!

Z. inspecting the gift. Note the vigorous tail wagging that made the whole picture blurry.

“Open it already!!!” 

We were elated to discover our secret santa(s) were our friends at Two Grad Students and a Pittie! They got us the most fantastic gifts!!!

First, there was the card:

With a super sweet message inside…

And then, Zoe found her gifts! Hanukkah Cookies! (They know too well that Zoe celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas).

Zoe working on her “sit-stay-watch me” pose to get her treat.

Let’s just say she was very excited about them.

Zoe channeling a certain friend of hers here.

That’s not even all of it! We also received a really cute mug, which is perfect because I’m a HUGE coffee drinker! (As most grad students are…). 🙂

Side 1! 

Side 2!

And then, they also gave us the cutest frame for a photo of “the zoo.” K. and I were just talking about how we needed more frames, so this was perfect. We put the classic photo of all the animals together inside:

What a wonderful surprise! Thank you so much, Two Grad Students and a Pittie for your thoughtful and generous gifts! And thanks to my pittie blog friends for inviting us to participate. It was so much fun!