Let Me Sum Up

I have a bunch of short hikes to write up from recent weekends. Lilo and I have traipsed through the Belknaps and Ossipees with a shifting array of much-appreciated friends (and their dogs!).

We’ve had moody weather…

Round Pond in chiaroscuro.

…that turned into blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

A viewpoint below the summit of Mack, our last peak to complete the Belknap Range. The wind was icy, but the view was worth lingering over even so. One of our hiking buddies and I had apparently swapped dogs for this picture — that’s me on the far right, and Lilo on the left next to our pal.

We’ve enjoyed all sorts of company, anticipated and not…

We expected to meet one human friend for this Shaw/Blacksnout/Tate loop but ended up with two — and some favorite four-legged buddies, too!

…and moments of quiet solitude even in the midst of a delightfully chatty group hike.

Admiring the Whites from the summit of Shaw.

We’ve tasted winter…

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Surprising snow atop Major on Thanksgiving morning — and just enough ice to make those rocks slippery, although too little for microspikes to usefully bite.

…and been reminded that hugs and hot tea will get us through just about any chill.

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Making herself comfy in her other favorite person’s lap doing a Piper/Whiteface hike yesterday.

And all of this has been just wonderful. I really wish I’d taken the time to lovingly detail it out while it was happening instead of cramming it into one post while I’m sitting here feeling sorry for myself because young Titus had himself quite a weekend.

The highlight was when he escaped his car crate — in which he has hung out for many, many uneventful — hours while unattended and climbed all throughout the Jeep, which is definitely not a vet-approved activity for 3.5 weeks post-TPLO. But there were some lowlights, too, and as a result he’s been pretty sore yesterday and today. Not sore enough for me to think that he did something catastrophic to the surgical site! He’s walking well and not sensitive to touch, etc. And he’s better today than he was yesterday. But he’s offloading the leg when standing more than his baseline since those first days post-op and I just — am tired, you guys. I’m tired of the way that, every time things seem to be looking up for us, something like this happens. I want him to be okay and I want it now. Which I realize is unrealistic. But tonight, I do not care.

And now I’ll go back to reading beside his crate and making plans to hike something bigger next weekend to remind myself that I can.

19 Days

As I type this, Titus is 19 days post-TPLO. The time has gone faster than I expected, which is nice! Doing nothing keeps us a whole lot busier than I ever would have thought.

Way less hiking, way more helping me read.

The first week went swimmingly, with noticeable improvement in weight-bearing and gait pretty much every day. Our first real roadblock came when I tried, as per surgeon’s instructions, to wean Titus off his Rimadyl (while, I should note, leaving him on two other pain meds; we are not monsters) and he promptly began favoring his surgical leg — not dramatically, but not nothing. I put him back on pending his visit to our local vet for staple removal and then, after discussion at that appointment, pending his appointment with the rehab team on day eighteen where the answer was a resounding, “GOOD JOB KEEP GIVING HIM THAT.” I’ve joined two really useful orthopedic-dog groups on Facebook and it’s been interesting to see how medication and rehab regimens differ from dog to dog and vet to vet.

He did come off the Tramadol at day fifteen so that we could increase his Trazodone dose. I was really reluctant to use the Traz in the first place, but he’s an eighteen month old heeler/husky mix whose life, at baseline when he can run and play and seriously train, already includes pretty much everything that you’re supposed to do to keep crate-rest dogs happy. And as he started feeling better after the surgery, he also started resenting the confinement and coming up with fun ways to express that.

Like, for not-hypothetical example, jumping from one end of his crate to the other over and over again the second I stepped away to give Lilo attention or make dinner, etc.

Which is not a vet-approved rehab activity.

So now he gets the Traz twice a day at a reasonable doseage. He’s plenty alert and engaged, but it takes the edge off the anxiety of not being able to do everything that he’s used to doing and that, in turn, means his recovery seems (knock wood!) to be on track.

But if he looks a little stoned in these pictures, now you know why!

Waiting at the vet to have his staples out. I was so glad to finally get the cone off (two days after their removal so his ears could stand up again.

He continues to be a pretty good patient aside from that roadblock. I’m cautiously trying to allow him a slightly more normal life, though I’m watching like a hawk and intervening when he seems inclined to engage in normal-life ridiculousness.

But he has gotten to go on a few very controlled outings, where he mostly hangs out in his car crate but gets to hop out for a short time here and there to sniff new sniffs and see new sights.

He’s hanging out with me on a tether in the kitchen again. This is partly out of desperation; between his surgery and other recent evens, I have gotten a little behind on housekeeping and need to start cooking and cleaning occasionally instead of just sitting an reading next to his crate!

And now that I’m resigned to just keeping the dogs supplied with a constant stream of really good stuff to chew on for the next two months — and now that he’s cone-free and can fit in his soft crate again! — we’ve developed a nice little evening routine of chewing and playing video games. I’m a binge gamer, very picky about what I play but inclined to sink deeply into a game when I find one that I like, especially this time of year. I haven’t turned the console on since Titus came home, but had hoped that he’d be settled-down enough to let me play occasionally by the time Mass Effect:Andromeda comes out. This wasn’t quite how I’d planned on getting there, but hey, I’ll take what up side I can get.

No shortage of good chews in this kitchen!

And the best news is that he was cleared by the rehab vet to go on leash walks to tolerance. We’re at 6-8min 3x/day right now and will of course increase carefully to minimize our chances of overdoing and suffering a setback…and we’re sticking with the flattest ground we can get and with strictly good footing…but having no hard upper limit feels pretty huge.

Next week he gets back on the underwater treadmill.

In the meantime, though, we walk!

Upside down smiles post-PT.

The Other Whiteface

Sorry, guys. I just kind of ran out of words for a while after the election.

Dogs and hiking have been a great comfort, though, and I’m glad to have both in my life while I sort through what my other contributions to the world going forward ought to be. And this little hike actually took place the weekend before the election, which now feels like an awfully long time ago…

Titus was doing well enough by the weekend after his surgery for Lilo and I to sneak out to tag our penultimate Belknap Range peak. That was Whiteface, not to be confused with the 4,000-footer of the same name in the Sandwich Range.


The lower portion of our route was a wide, gently-graded, deeply leaf-littered trail that Lilo found inexplicably spooky even before we reached the remains of a collapsed cabin. A landowner’s dogs had been loose by the parking area and come over for a visit; Lilo handled that well, but it’s possible that her getting a bit “stuck” in the first mile was an artifact of that stressor. She was willing to be jollied along, though, and brightened up as we reached the low stone wall marking the turns left to Piper and right to our destination.


The top of Whiteface is wide-open and on this day, we had some lovely views down to nearby towns and lakes, to clouds and sunbreaks, as well as to rain over the White Mountains farther north. I’m not normally one to linger for long on the summit, but this just felt like a good place to be on this day, with the last vestiges of autumn foliage spreading out to every side.


We also ventured over the summit and a little ways down the other side in search of a rumored herd path to the cliffs that give Whiteface its name. I hadn’t taken good notes as to its location, though, and didn’t want to venture too far off the beaten path without better intel. I investigated a bit further on returning home; we’ll be better prepared when we return.

Pose-a-bull on the wide, flat meadow summit.

We’ve since finished off the range in a much-needed jaunt to Round Pond and Mack with friends the following weekend, so that story will be up soon, maybe with a few more words in it!

Return to Normal

As I write this, we’re on day five post-op and beginning to refind the rhythm of our life.

Titus’s TPLO went well with the expected findings: partial CCL tear in the left knee, meniscus intact. We did hit a few unanticipated snags in his transition home. First he threw a tantrum when I left to bring the car around and removed his cone…! Then I barely managed to get his poor dopey self out of the car. Even after I managed it, we got stuck outside for a long time because someone needed serious belly rubs.

I did put a clean town down under the surgical leg before he could roll over onto it into the dirt!

Then we discovered that he couldn’t turn around in his airline crate with the cone on. I had to take the thing apart around him and my partner kindly agreed to pick up a much bigger wire crate on his way to my place. You think you’ve planned for everything…!

But things have been smoother since then.

Will tolerate icing for frozen pumpkin and tripe.

The anesthesia and hospital meds didn’t really wear off until day 2, at which point the little guy became more lucid but also deeply concerned. By day 3, though, he seemed to have thought through his fate; that was the day the naughty normal Titus resurfaced. See also: he figured out how to make the hamster-style crate water bottle leak all over the floor. See also: on potty walks he likes to scoop up leaves and fling them using his cone.

The supervisor, on lunch break.

Lilo was much stressier than I had anticipated early on, and that was hard. I had wanted to keep the dogs well separate for fear of Titus getting riled up. But she clearly knew something was going on and didn’t like it one bit. We finally let her come to the outside of his palace and let them sniff noses through the gate; she felt better after that. Whew!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled frogging.

He began to put his foot down while walking outside and to toe-touch inside on day two. His gait has gotten noticeably better every day. As of today, the bruising and excess fluid have all but resolved. He’s not tolerating passive range of motion, alas, but is getting vastly more comfortable with having the leg touched and did let me trim nails on all four feet today.

We spent a peaceful afternoon today reading a favorite book while he rested in his crate. I do hate that he has to go through this, but he’s being a much better patient than expected (with, granted, a little chemical help) and it will, I think, be good for our relationship in the long run — and hopefully for his athletic future as well.