Martini’s Novice Trick Dog (NTD) Title

We adopted Martini (Tini) from Pointer Rescue, Org. She arrived on July 10th, 2021. Unfortunately, Tini’s past left her with some deep rooted fear. She was so terrified that she could not function through daily life activities. She would release her bladder, bowels and anal glands almost simultaneously at the sight or sound of someone. If I attempted to do training, she would shut down at the sight of equipment, a leash, my hand signals… even treats.

It was beyond difficult to exhaust every option in my power to try and convince Tini that she was safe with us…just to fail over and over again… to see my 4-legged family member shudder in fear in her own home was heart wrenching.  In March 2022, Brian and I finally realized that lessening Martin’s fear was beyond our capabilities…We needed help…. and LOTS of it. 

We sought the advice and expertise of a Behaviorist. On March 7, 2022 Martini was evaluated by Dr. Shana Gilbert-Gregory at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital. Dr. Shana diagnosed Martini with an extreme case of Global Fear. Global Fear dogs suffer from distress and anxiety caused by animate, inanimate, and situational fears, or a combination of all. It is often impossible to determine all circumstances to which a globally fearful animal may react. Dr. Shana has been so patient and kind, and her expertise in behavioral medicine is outstanding. In the last year, Tini has trialed over 10 medications and numerous combinations and doses of each. Although we observed progress along the way, it was painfully slow and included roadblocks, plateaus, and setbacks (Dr. Shana prepared us for this). Martini attended “Happy Visits” at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, and had a re-eval on November 21, 2022. At that re-eval, I was defeated. I inquired about taking Martini off of her medications – wondering if we would ever find something that would allow her to have the quality of life she deserved….maybe we just had to resort to the idea that Tini was going to be like this forever? Dr. Shana advised against stopping any medications, and suggested that we trial another drug. Just days later, and before we had made any changes in her medication, I began to observe some breakthroughs. Could it be? I emailed Dr. Shana and she told us to sit-tight and see how things develop over the next few weeks. In the weeks following, I continued to see progress! Then… another plateau. Dr. Shana adjusted the dose of her current drugs again, and more headway was made!

Just recently, Martini has made even MORE wonderful progress. Lately I saw her becoming more and more comfortable in an upstairs room in our home, and she specifically used the bed in this room as a safe place. (The bed has recently been taken off of its frame for our dog, Whiskey, who is recovering from surgery). When I saw the confidence within Tini while in this room, I figured I’d give training another go. I decided to use the bed as her “place” in lieu of a Klimb. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes I would have never believed it – but she didn’t shut down – in fact she had fun, and she learned each task QUICKLY… 593 days / 1.6 years later, SHE DID IT!!

Tini completed the necessary 15 points as she mastered eleven Novice Level tricks & two Intermediate Level trick (each worth 1 point) and one Advanced Level trick (worth 2 points).

Tricks Submitted for the Novice Title:

The video is not perfect by any means – but it is surely one of THE happiest, proudest moments I have ever had!  Congratulations to Pinelands’ Perfect Half-Pour: Martini! HUGE thanks to Dr. Shana… Martini is on her way to living the life she deserves and showing the world her fun personality – she would not be at this point without Dr. Shana and her staff!

Why Trick Training?

Trick training can mentally and physically stimulate your dog. It can help build the dog’s muscle tone and stamina. The tasks can also increased flexibility, balance and concentration. This type of training also tends to boost a dog’s confidence and strengthen the bond between human and dog. …and best of all…IT’S FUN! If you are interested in trick training, I am a member of an amazing trick dog group on Facebook run by one of the most kind, patient and knowledgeable people I know. I’d be glad to help you get started…you won’t regret it!

If You KNEEd Me, I’ll Be in Rehab (2 Weeks Post Surgery)

Care Package

Whiskey received a wonderful get-well package on February 10th with the cutest purple toy and super yummy treats! She was SO very happy! This could not have arrived sooner, as Whiskey is starting to get a bit tired of confinement- this made her day – and ours!

Weak in the Knees For You: Valentine’s Day

I do annual holiday photos with our pack, but all the dogs know that when the photo backdrop gets set up, yummy treats are to follow…and that causes much excitement. I decided it was best if Whiskey did not participate in the Valentine’s Day photoshoot. Instead, I decorated her Fish Fortress (recovery pen) using a couple of photo backdrops.

It’s Going Tibia a Good Day: Two Week Post-Surgery Check Up with Dr. Morris

February 16, 2023

  • Assessment:
    • Dr. Morris said that Whiskey looked great! Whiskey’s incision has healed appropriately, she is using her leg consistently, and she was not reactive to palpation of her plate.
  • Medications:
    • Carprofen
      • dosage schedule is complete
    • Codeine
      • dosage schedule is complete
    • Gabapentin
      • will be continued for 1 more week while her activity is increased, then will be discontinued.
    • Trazodone
      • on an as needed basis to enforce exercise restriction.
    • Supplements to continue long-term
      • Dasuquin Advanced
      • VRS Omega Benefits
  • Restrictions
    • Whiskey may NOT do any of the following:
      • running
      • jumping
      • playing with other dogs
      • off leash activity
      • stairs (unless on a leash and speed is controlled)
  • Goal and Instructions for the Next 6 weeks
    • Goal
      • Maintain stifle stability, improve muscle mass and range of motion
    • Home Care Instructions
      • Whiskey’s incision has healed. She no longer needs to wear her E-collar. However, she may need to wear it again if she begins licking excessively at her incision site.
      • Although we can stop using the sling for assisted walking, Whiskey will need to continue to be restricted to leashed walking only; no running, no jumping for the next 10 weeks. We will also need to watch closely for lameness in either of her hind legs.
      • No off-leash activity outside.
      • Begin leash walking program with gradual increase in duration (NOTE: If at any time increased fatigue, soreness or discomfort is noticed with increased walks revert to previous level of activity).
        • Now through Feb 19 / Week 2 post-surgery: 5 minute intervals, 3 times a day
        • February 20-26 / Week 3 post-surgery: 10 minute intervals, 3 times a day
        • February 27-March5 / Week 4 post-surgery: 15 minute intervals, 3 times a day

New Knee, No Cone…Who Dis?!

Whiskey was given the all-clear to be cone-free AND sling-free! Her first cone-less / sling-less post-op walk was around the grounds of Mount Laurel Animal Hospital to visit some of the farm animals.

Whiskey’s first post-op walk on the street

  • Follow up
    • Whiskey is tentatively scheduled for surgery on her left knee on Monday, March 6.

A Joint Effort: Rehab Exercises

In addition walking program, Whiskey also is also starting an exercise program. Exercises can be used in conjunction with walks as a warm up or a cool down. Together and with Whiskey on a leash, we will be practicing the rehab activities:

  • Elevated Stance
    • Have dog stand on a step or foam pad (I used a Klimb). Make sure both back legs are even.
      • Hold for 30-60 seconds
      • perform one time a day weeks 2 to 6 post-op
  • Sit to Stand
    • Sit dog with affected leg close to a wall (I used the back of our couch). Note if your dog uses both legs evenly. Drop treat in front of your dog to encourage them to stand up.
      • Repeat 3 times
      • perform three times a day
  • Backwards Walking
    • Using a treat near your dog’s nose, motion towards the dog’s tail. Reward when the dog offers one step back, gradually building up to several steps. Lower your hand if your dog sits instead of backing up.
      • back up for 6 to 10 feet and repeat 2 times
      • perform once a day
  • Figure 8’s
    • Use 2 objects (e.g. cones, milk jugs, buckets… I used folding step-stools) to encourage your dog to make a figure 8 in both directions. Make each figure 8 two times the length of your dog.
      • Repeat 3 times
      • perform before each walk

Luckily I had all of the items on-hand from doing conditioning and training with our pack, and Whiskey was already familiar with the commands and activities she had to perform.

You Can’t Spell Party Without PT: Whiskey’s Rehab Activities All-in-One Video

Git ‘Er Done

I made a checklist to print out to help keep me on track with Whiskey’s schedule.

We are hopeful that if we follow Whiskey’s rehab plan as directed, she will be ready for her second surgery on March 6!

Valentine’s Day 2023

Happy Doggone Valentine’s Day from The Crazy Eights! Which pup would you CHEWS to be your Valentine? Each pup left captions on their photo to try and FETCH you up as their Valentine!

You looking for an Alpha dog? If so, I’d CHEWS you for my Valentine.
I’d never keep you on a short leash.
I’ve only got eyes for you!
And squirrels… And sticks… And dog butts… And dog poop…
I’ll be your Tramp if you’ll be my Lady.
Your doghouse or mine?
~Whiskey (recovering from TPLO surgery #1)
I’ll sniff your butt if you sniff mine.
Did you achieve “Best in Show”? Because you sure are a winner to me.
Are you tired? Because you’ve been running through my mind all day.
~Lillet Blanc

Primary Veterinarian Check-Up and Internal Medicine Specialty Exam

January 12, 2023

Despite an increase in his Thyro-Tab (Levothyroxine) daily dose, Porter’s coat had been increasingly thinning and a thyroid panel showed low T4 (1.1) , low FT4 and low TSH. Our primary veterinarian suggested that at this point it would be a good idea to see an Internal Medicine Specialist.

February 13, 2023: Internal Medicine Exam

Porter saw Dr. Alan Klag, Chief of Internal Medicine at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Levittown, PA.

Porter hangs out under the desk of the Internal Medicine Department’s nurse (pic taken by the nurse)

The Exam:

Dr. Klag noted that it is difficult to interpret Porter’s prior lab results, as the TSH level would typically be high with hypothyroidism. Dr. Klag explained that he cannot eliminate the possibility of the multiple drugs Porter is on for seizures having an effect on his coat and thyroid hormone measurements. At this time, Dr. Klag is not certain that Porter has true hypothyroidism and is also not convinced that the thyroid is the cause of his alopecia.

Dr. Klag’s plan is to increase Porter’s Thyro-Tab (Levothyroxine) dose in an attempt to get Porter’s T4 into the target region (3-4 ug/dl) to see if this has any effect. If in two weeks after the medication increase Porter’s T4 is not in the target range, then Dr. Klag would discount hypothyroidism as a cause of Porter’s hair loss and consider tapering him off the thyroid supplement.

February 14, 2023: Lab Results

The Good News:

Porter’s overall lab results looked good and his Albumin level is normal (it had been at abnormal levels in the past).

The Not-So-Good News

Although Porter’s T4 had risen to 2, Dr. Klag would want to see Porter’s T4 level at a 3 or 4. Dr. Klag had us increase Porter’s ThyroTab daily dose once again. In two weeks, Porter will have another T4 blood test. At that time, Dr. Klag will make a decision on what path we take.

Porter during his Internal Medicine exam at BluePearl, Levittown.

Next Step

Porter will begin his Levothyroxine increase this evening (2/14/23). He will have his T4 level tested again in two weeks on 2/28/23.

Barclay Farmstead Trail; Cherry Hill, NJ

The Barclay Farmstead is comprised of 32 acres and was built in 1816 by a Quaker farmer named Joseph Thorn. It is now owned and operated by Cherry Hill Township.

Porter completed this 0.66 mile hike with our friend Heather and her pup, Kayla.

The Farmhouse

The Outbuildings

The Hike

One Week into the JourKNEE

One week ago today, (2/1/23) Whiskey had her first TPLO surgery on her right knee. I am happy to report that she is still doing very well! Her incision and surgery sites both had normal progression and she is tolerating wearing her cone as well as her confinement.

In this post I included a photo of the incision as well as a rear-view photo from each day over the last week, as well as some videos of Whiskey progressing with using a few stairs and walking (with a lift sling in place in case she stumbles). A lift sling is especially important for Whiskey since she has a tear in her left knee as well.

Day 1: Thursday 2/2/23

She slept well her first night and only woke up once at about 4am to go out to potty. Swelling and bruising had started around the incision.

Day 2: Friday 2/3/23


Evening: Bruising was at its worst tonight.

Day 3: Saturday 2/4/23

Today the Nocita was due to wear off. Nocita is given for postoperative pain relief. It is a long-acting local anesthetic that provides up to 72 hours pain relief and helps prevent increasing pain during the transition period from the epidural given before surgery to the oral pain relievers we administer at home. We saw absolutely no change in Whiskey – she was in good spirits and did not display any signs of pain. The bruising looks much better already this morning.

Day 4: Sunday 2/5/23

One of her mini walks around the yard today:

Today I took the bed frame and headboard away so that the mattress was on the floor. The mattress is 14 inches high so I put a child safety guardrail on the far side of the bed as well as the foot of the bed so that Whiskey can’t fall off. Runners were placed at the exit side to help with traction when Whiskey is able to get on/off the bed independently.

Whiskey is learning to navigate the stairs. She is allowed to try up to 5 stairs as long as she has her lift sling to assist her.

Day 5: Monday 2/6/23

Today a seroma settled down by her ankle.

Tonight was Whiskey’s first night back in bed…she was so happy to be there!

Day 6: Tuesday 2/7/23

Tonight Hooch was allowed to get back in bed with Whiskey. He did not bother with her incision and they both were happy to be sleeping together again.

Day 7: Wednesday 2/8/23

Whiskey is doing a great job on steps!



One of the four <5 minute walks she took today:

Surgery Follow-Up

Whiskey will have her post-surgery follow-up on Thursday, February 16th.

Takin’ It Nice And KNEE-sy

February 2, 2023 …The First 24 Hours: We Made It! (Phew!)

I have to admit, even with having a great friend on the surgery team to prepare me and guide me through the surgery procedure, I was still SO nervous about… well… EVERYTHING! However, the first 24 hours have gone much better than I expected! Whiskey slept well the first night until about 4am this morning when she needed to go out to potty. She has been calm, tolerating confinement, eating well, willingly taking her medications, having normal bowl movements and urinating regularly.

Pimp My Crib Fish Fortress

Once Whiskey was in her recovery pen, I noticed that she was having trouble repositioning herself on the bed I had placed inside the area. It seemed that the bed was a bit too small for her to safely maneuver herself. I also observed her shivering. After I had taken her out to potty again at 7:30am and gave her breakfast, I knew changes had to be made.

Whiskey enjoyed “breakfast in bed” before the “renovations” began.

Immediately following breakfast, The Pimp My Crib Fortress Crew did an on-the-spot makeover (it’s me… Hi.. I’m the crew, it’s me…) I changed out the dog bed for a bigger one, and added a heavy blanket “wall” to block cold drafts from our ancient cabin’s exterior wall. I also added a “bed comforter” … a Pointer themed blanket that is on the human bed Whiskey normally sleeps on and also included one of the bed pillows because she loves to sleep with her head on the pillow. I felt these items would have a familiar smell and comfort her.

Lastly, I performed some surgeries of my own and “de-squeaked” a few larger stuffy survivors from Christmas to help block out cold drafts as well as to provide padding against the wire walls of the pen. (Squeakers removed so that the stuffies didn’t squeak while Whiskey leaned on them or played with them … in an attempt to avoid a whole-house riot when the others hear the squeak and realize THEY don’t have a toy!

Whiskey in Good Spirits

Whiskey has been alert, wagging her tail and even felt well enough to nom on some of the stuffies!

Whiskey seemed to approve of her upgrades and was much more settled after the “renovations.”

Invest in Rest

Lights out! Sleep gives the body time to repair itself so we kept Whiskey’s area as quiet as we could. 

Visiting Hours

Some of the pack visited Whiskey throughout the day. All of the dogs except for Jägermeister have been respectful of visiting hours. Jagermeister has decided he’s just going to bark at Whiskey so he has been banned from visiting for the time being … I think he is a bit put-off that he doesn’t have nice digs like Whiskey! Haha!

Incision Check

A quick check-in with our friend Amanda…We sent her a photo of Whiskey’s incision and she told us that it looks normal for 24 hours post surgery.

🎶All The Pretty Girls Walk like This, This, This, This, This🎶

Whiskey is supposed to take a 5 minute or less leash walk around the yard a few times a day to keep her right leg moving. A lift-sling is used just as a precaution for support – but only if needed so that Whiskey can naturally rehab her leg and learn to walk on it. The video below is Whiskey on her most recent walk before I wrote this post. There is no support being given to her -and she is doing wonderfully!

Medications…Get it Write

In order to keep track and make sure I don’t miss any medication doses, rehab walks in the yard, or cold pack sessions, I made a very simple chart to keep myself organized. I’m sure it would look much prettier if it were completed on the computer, but I tend to make less mistakes when creating these by hand.

Keep Your Cool (Packs)

The hospital sent us home with a cold pack which I have been using, but our friend, Amanda, gave us this great tip as well. Take a wash cloth or dish towel, run it under water, then ring it out. Place the cloth in a zip lock bag and put it in the refrigerator. The temperature won’t be too cold for the dog, and it remains flexible instead of a hard/stiff frozen pack so that you can wrap it around the leg. Whiskey has been so good and has let me apply the cold pack throughout the day with no issues.

I am so relieved and thrilled with the first 24 hours and I will remain hopeful that Whiskey will continue to have a smooth recovery. Brian and I thank everyone for their continued support, positive thoughts, and prayers!

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) Surgery

February 1, 2023

Today Whiskey had her TPLO Surgery at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital. She was in the best hands with our our good friend, Amanda, who is the Nursing Supervisor for Specialty Surgery.


Porter’s Poo Palace that we use for camping has been sanitized (twice) and brought indoors to be transformed into The Fish Fortress for Wish the Fish’s recovery from TPLO surgery. A secluded, confined area for Whiskey is imperative for her safety and proper recovery from her surgery. This area included a low, flat bed, a feeder, non-skid whelping mat that covered the entire floor, and lighting courtesy of a rechargeable camp light. Luckily we had all of this on-hand!

Checking out her recovery digs:

Lounging with Mom after we administered the pre-surgery medications to help her relax:


We arrived a bit early to Mount Laurel Animal Hospital…but Whiskey didn’t mind because she was watching all of the farm animals from the car, then took a short potty break before entering the hospital.


Amanda checked Whiskey in and fully explained the procedure and what to expect.

Whiskey and Amanda


Radiographs were taken and confirmed that Whiskey has a complete tear in her cranial cruciate ligament. Effusion is present in the left knee where the suspected partial tear is located.

Getting ready for X-rays

Dr. Morris called me once the radiographs were taken to let me know Whiskey is doing well and was about to get her epidural in preparation for surgery.


Whiskey was sedated and anesthesia was administered.

Once the incision was made, Dr. Morris could see that luckily Whiskey’s joint is normal and her meniscus is intact. Whiskey’s X-rays are displayed on the screen so that there are live views of her measurements as Dr. Morris reconfigures the angle and makes a curved cut in the top of Whiskey’s tibia bone

Whiskey’s heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, CO2 levels, breathing rate and body temperature were all monitored throughout the surgery.

The TPLO was performed without complication. Whiskey received an injection of a long-lasting numbing medication along her incision during closure to aid in post-operative comfort.

Post-Surgery X-Rays

Whiskey’s incision was closed and post surgery X-rays were taken before moving her to the recovery room.

Possible Complications

Although we are optimistic that Whiskey will not have any complications, we need to be aware that it is a possibility. The risk of these potential (and hopefully unlikely) complications far outweighs the benefits of repairing Whiskey’s knees so that she can return to her normal Pointer shenanigans and be provided with the opportunity for the best achievable quality of life. Potential complications associated with this procedure include infection, dehiscence, need for implant removal, implant failure, implant migration, persistent lameness, patellar luxation, progression or arthritis, pivot shift, fracture, future meniscal injury, and need for additional intervention.


Whiskey recovered smoothly from anesthesia. The breathing tube was taken out and a warming blanket was placed over Whiskey while she recovers with her IV fluids. Dr. Morris called to review the surgery. After a few hours of recovery, Dr. Morris called us again and let us know that she was comfortable at this point to release Whiskey to come home since she was doing so well.

Whiskey hung out with the best nurse any patient could ever ask for…our friend, Amanda! Whiskey took a trip to the kitchen and ate a snack, which she was able to keep down!

Whiskey on her way to the kitchen for a snack after her TPLO surgery.


Amanda met with me and reviewed all of the post-surgery instructions. Success of the surgery depends heavily upon the adherence to the post-operative instructions for the next 8-12 weeks. Too much activity too soon, or failure to closely follow the given instructions could disrupt and potentially fail the repair, which would require a re-operation. Whiskey is expected to increasingly put weight on the operated leg over the next 2 weeks so that she is at least touching the toe to the ground by the time of suture removal. By 6 weeks post-op, Whiskey is expected to be comfortably weight bearing on the leg. Full recovery can take up to three months.

  • Incision Care:
    • Monitor the incision daily for excess draining, redness, swelling or discharge: Bruising can be expected at the incision site and it should progress thru the healing phase as if changes colors. Any bruising that spreads in surface area should be documented with photographs if able and the hospital should be contacted.
    • Cold pack the incision area 2-3 times daily for 5 minutes for the first 3 days following surgery.
    • Incision does not need to be covered. It should simply be kept clean and dry.
    • No swimming or be bath for the first 2 weeks following surgery to allow the incision to heal.
    • Seroma formation is common with knee surgery. A seroma can present as swelling around the ankle, the joint below the incision. This is where edema from the surgical site will settle over the first 10 days post-op. It will feel like a fluidy sac. A warm compress can be applied to the area for 5 minutes 2 to 3 times a day and gently massage the area. If the site is painful or red, the hospital should be contacted.
  • E-Collar:
    • An E-Collar is imperative at all times when not directly supervised. If the incision is accessed, there will be increased risk of complications such as infection or dehiscence.
    • Many patients are able to reach around inflatable donut collars or soft cones. As a result, use of a hard plastic cone is recommended
  • Exercise Restrictions:
    • Restrict activity to short (< 5 minutes) leash walks only to go out to the bathroom for the next 14 days.
      Whiskey must always be on a leash when outside.
    • No running, jumping, stair climbing or playing with other dogs. If you need to use stairs and your pet is too
      large to carry up and down – make sure Whiskey is on a leash and walk up and down the stairs very slowly.
    • Whiskey should be crated or kenneled in a small room without furniture when not directly supervised. Using a crate
      is a security for Whiskey to heal appropriately. If Whiskey is hyperexcitable when you are home, use the crate to
      create safe periods of rest.
    • Use yoga mats, bath rugs or carpet runners to cover slick floors in the kitchen or hallways to prevent slipping. Major
      areas of concern are around doors where Whiskey will be coming in and out as well as around food and water
      dishes. If needed, use a towel or sling to support your dog during walking around these areas of your home.
  • Medications:
    • Carprofen (Rimadyl)
      • This medication is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication used for pain control. Adverse effects include
        anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and dark tarry stool. Please stop this medication and call if you note these. Do not administer this medication with other NSAIDs (Aspirin, Meloxicam, Previcox, Deramaxx, etc.) or steroids
        (Prednisone, Temaril-P. or injectable/topical steroids).
    • Gabapentin
      • This medication is used to target neuropathic pain. Adverse effects include sedation, anorexia, constipation and occasional anxiety/tremors/neurologic sions.
    • Trazodone
      • This medication is used as needed to keep Whiskey calm. Adverse effects include excessive sedation, anorexia, constipation, and occasional anxiety/tremors/neurologic signs
    • Codeine
      • This medication is a opioid derived medication used for pain control. Adverse effects include sedation, anorexia
  • Bag of Goodies
    • medications
    • a pill cutter to help us with the dose amounts
    • cold pack
    • food that is easy on the belly in case her stomach is upset
    • folder with post-surgery instructions

Shortly after the post-surgery discussion, Whiskey walked out of the hospital with Amanda!

Arrival Home

Besides setting up a safe confined recovery pen, we also had these two items to assist us to lift and/or support Whiskey if needed:

Click HERE to purchase on Amazon
Click HERE to purchase on the Four Flags Over Aspen website

Once we were home, Whiskey quickly settled in to her Fish Fortress.

Whiskey’s same-day release was possible because of the outstanding skill and medical expertise of the Mount Laurel Surgical Team. We are so grateful for the compassionate attention and professional care displayed from each and every person involved in Whiskey’s surgery.

Follow-Up Care

A recheck examination will be scheduled at the 2-3 week post-surgery mark. At this visit, Whiskey’s incisional healing will be assessed.