They say every path in life has a bridge and the journey is crossing it. Personally, I prefer to take the long route and avoid bridges altogether. Crossing bridges really takes a “toll” on me, as I have a huge fear of overpasses… like heart-racing-sweaty-palms-death-grip-on-the-steering-wheel-kind-of-fear…. and forget about looking over the railing while crossing. I despise driving over large bridges and dislike walking over them even more. However, despite the panic that I feel about driving and walking over these structures, I do think they are all beautiful and they do truly intrigue me – especially the covered ones!
Cry Me a River, Build Me A Bridge… And GET OVER IT!
Although covered bridges were once popular in the Garden State, NJ currently only has two remaining. Having lived in New Jersey my whole life, I was surprised to have learned that our home state had two of these magnificent structures that I had never seen…so last week, Limoncello accompanied me on a road trip to see (and drive over/through) both of them!
New Jersey’s Covered Bridges
March 28, 2023: Scarborough Bridge
Located in Cherry Hill, NJ, this bridge was built in 1959. It has two lanes as well as 2 sidewalks for pedestrians.
We drove through the bridge (once in each direction). There was ample safe parking nearby, so I pulled over and Limoncello walked with me to the bridge to take some photos. It was awesome to see up close!
March 30, 2023: Green Sergeant’s Covered Bridge
Built in 1872 and located in Stockton, NJ, this structure is New Jersey’s oldest (and longest) covered bridge and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is only one lane, so an adjacent bridge was built to accommodate traffic on both directions. I did turn around so that we could drive in the opposite direction over the adjacent bridge but there wasn’t any safe areas to pull over to take pictures with Cello.
Both Bridges were beautiful to see in person… and best of all, I got to spend some one-on-one time on the road with Limoncello!
Dr. Morris said that Whiskey looked great today and that her incision has nearly fully healed. Whiskey is using her leg without hesitation and Dr. Morris is very pleased with her progress.
Goals next 6 weeks
Maintain stifle stability, improve muscle mass and range of motion
Home Care Instructions
Whiskey’s incision has healed so she no longer needs to wear her E-collar. However, Whiskey has been trying to lick this incision (last surgery she did not attempt this) so we may need to replace the E-collar if we note that Whiskey is licking excessively at the incision site since scar tissue is weaker than normal skin and may be more prone to trauma.
Whiskey will need to continue to be restricted to leashed walking only; no running, no jumping for the next 10 weeks.
No off leash activity outside.
Continue leash walking program with gradual increase in duration:
Week 2-3 after surgery: 5 minute intervals 3 times per day
Week 3-4 after surgery: 10 minute intervals 3 times per day
Week 4-6 after surgery: 15 minute intervals 3 times per day
Week 5-8 after surgery: 20 minute intervals 3 times per day
Begin post-op rehab exercises
If increased fatigue, soreness or discomfort is noticed with increased walks, we are to revert to previous level of activity and begin again from there.
Whiskey cannot exceed 20-30 minute intervals until x-rays confirm appropriate bone healing.
Gabapentin will be continued for at least 1 more week as activity is increased, and then discontinued or used as needed.
Trazodone will be continued on an as needed basis to enforce exercise restriction.
Whiskey’s next recheck appointment is scheduled for May 4, 2023. At that time, x-rays will be obtained in order to ensure adequate bone healing prior to allowing her return to normal activity.
Fixing Pains, Taking Names, Making Gains
I’m relieved that we are back in the swing of Whiskey’s PT program. Whiskey had been getting antsy and was definitely ready to get moving again! The next 6 weeks we will be knee-deep in PT working hard and hoping our efforts will result in a positive report during her next evaluation on May 4th!
People laugh when we tell them we drive hours away from our home “just to have our dogs jump in a pool.” DockDogs has been so much more than a competitive sport to us and our pack. This organization has blessed us with an extended family consisting of THE most amazing people and pups that you will EVER meet. Although there are countless reasons we are grateful to be a part of this community, The B.A.A.R.K Foundation is among the top.
We were able to save Lager’s life and obtain some financial relief because of the The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization run by volunteers of the DockDogs community. The Foundation promotes community spirit, compassion and support of the DockDogs family by playing a leading role in making grants that enable and strengthen the DockDogs community when members have fallen on hard times. This foundation was truly a life-saver for us and for one of our 4-legged family members. Below is an account of our family’s story that we agreed to share with The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation for them to post publicly on their website.
“Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. It’s one of the bravest things you can do. And it can save your life.” (Or in our case, our dog’s life)
― Lily Collins, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me
Lager is a retired Contracted Working Dog under the State Department (War Zone name: Nayt), having served 18 months in Iraq as an Explosives Detection Canine at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. We adopted Lager at the age of three in 2015 when he returned to the United States.
At the time of the situation, Lager had been competing in DockDogs for about 7 years. We were driving in our camper on the way home from a World Championship qualifier Labor Day weekend 2022. It was then that I noticed a rather large mass in Lager’s mouth, located behind his lower left canine tooth. Upon our return home, Lager had surgery to remove the mass and obtain a biopsy. Pathology reports showed not only was the mass malignant, but the type of cancer that was detected tends to be extremely locally invasive.
Lager saw an oncologist and went through a day of testing including an abdominal ultrasound, x-rays, needle biopsies, and bloodwork to be sure that the cancer had not spread to other areas his body. Luckily, there had been no sign of metastasis. He then saw an oral surgeon who informed us that Lager would need a rostral mandibulectomy (a large portion of his lower jaw had to be removed to obtain clean margins from this locally invasive mass).
Although Lager was 10 years old at the time of his diagnosis, he surely does not act like a senior-aged dog. We joke that he is the real-life Tigger as he bounces around and is happy and excited about every little thing. He had so much life left to live and is one of the most motivated dogs we have known. Although the thought of a mandibulectomy was terrifying, we knew in our hearts that he would not let anything hold him back from enjoying life, so getting him healthy again was a must.
Even though our 5 competitors had received multiple World Championship Invitations that we had already accepted and paid for, we canceled our trip to the World Championship knowing we would need the extra time and finances to appropriately care for Lager. We canceled any upcoming camping trips we had planned and opted out of Holiday gift exchanges with friends and family…but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to get us through.
We have been members of the DockDogs community for about 9 years. We have donated to the B.A.A.R.K. Foundation and were very familiar with the assistance the foundation has provided to fellow competitors. However, considering we have always carried insurance for our dogs and consistently had positive experiences with reimbursements, we never imagined having the need to reach out to B.A.A.R.K. for help. 2022 turned out to be a very tough year for us financially. When Lager’s medical bills totaled over $12,000 we were shocked, but at the same time confident, thinking we could rely on our insurance to provide an 80-90% reimbursement as we have received in the past. However, Lager’s insurance only covered a miniscule amount of the total. We were not financially prepared to be responsible for such a large bill and were completely distraught.
We began researching other insurance companies and reluctantly reached out to Tina from the B.A.A.R.K Foundation and explained our situation. I say reluctantly because we had never been in this type of situation before, and even knowing it was our last resort, we felt embarrassed to ask for help. In the past we had been fortunate to have been the ones donating and providing help to others in charity organizations. I am so thankful that we decided to contact B.A.A.R.K. Brian and I were brought to tears by how kind, compassionate, and understanding Tina was during our conversation, as the call was not an easy thing for us to do.
Brian and I are forever grateful to The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation and the DockDogs community for their support during such a difficult time in our lives. We plan to pay it forward through spreading the word about the foundation, offering donations in the future when we are able and encouraging all members of the DockDogs community to give to B.A.A.R.K. in whatever capacity you can. If you cannot donate to the foundation, please consider volunteering in other ways or helping to collect donations at competitions. You just never know when you or a fellow community member will need assistance with medical expenses.
Thank you B.A.A.R.K. and our DockDogs family – this is truly THE best community. We are proud to be members and grateful that our dogs have connected us to the most amazing group of people anyone could ever wish to have in their lives.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
~The Liver Killers: Jenny and Brian Beadling and our 8-pack of Pointers
Click HERE to see our story posted on the B.A.A.R.K Foundation’s website.
A Note About Pet Insurance
When asked to share my advice in getting insurance for your dog, my answer is always “absolutely insure your dog if you can afford to do so.” However, even BETTER advice is to make sure to do your research and talk to others with experience in insured fur-kids when considering companies.
We had insurance policies with a particular company who changed hands and in turn, changed their coverage and their quality. They dropped coverage of teeth cleaning and their plan put a (smaller than I expected) cap on each individual diagnosis. When Lager was diagnosed with oral cancer, it became glaringly apparent that we should have changed insurance companies long ago when found ourselves left with a huge bill we were not prepared to pay. I blame myself for not being on top of things enough to realize that our insurance coverage was inadequate before it was too late. We have since been working on switching insurance policies for the dogs who don’t have a laundry-list of pre-existing conditions.
This post is not meant as a sounding board to bash insurance companies. It is meant to highlight and commend The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation as well as a plea for others to protect themselves and their fur-kids as best as possible by researching, speaking with others, fully understanding insurance policies before committing, and knowing when it’s ok to ask for help.
Therapy dogs accompany their owners to volunteer in settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, mental health institutions, schools, hospitals, cancer centers, hospice facilities, and college campuses …just to name a few! No matter what the setting, therapy dogs and their handlers work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.
It is important to note that therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks that a person cannot perform on their own. An example of a service dog is a dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a dog who assists someone who has a physical disability. Service dogs have special privileges in public places such as on planes, in stores, and in restaurants, etc. Therapy dogs do not have the same special access as service dogs.
How Did Some of My Dogs Become a Therapy Dog?
Not every dog has the right temperament for therapy dog work. Once I determined that the dog has good manners, and would react positively to being touched by strangers, I began the process of becoming a member of a therapy dog organization and started the testing process.
The T/O tested me on the ATD rules and regulations.
The T/O did a temperament test on my dog to make sure that they have good manners and react positively to being touched by strangers.
The T/O monitored me and my dog during three visits to facilities where my dog and I had to successfully interact with strangers in therapy-like settings. During these supervised visits, the T/O instructed me and gave me advice and guidance while observing me and my dog in action.
Once my dog and I passed all parts of the test, I submitted the membership fee and necessary paperwork to ATD
Which Dogs Make Good Therapy Dogs?
ANY breed can be a therapy dog! To become a therapy dog, a dog must:
be at least one-year-old
have a calm and gentle disposition
be good around other dogs
be calm when strangers pet them all over, and must not jump on others
walk on a leash without pulling
remain confident and calm around strange noises, smells, and medical equipment
be able to follow basic commands and listen to their handler
General Benefits of a Therapy Dog
Brings joy to others
Takes a person’s mind off of problems, pains and worries
Prompts people to open up and share their emotions
Encourages people to communicate with others
Lowers stress levels and blood pressure
Rekindles memories of past pets
Benefits of Therapy Dogs in Schools
Therapy dogs have countless benefits to offer to students of all ages! The following information is from the ATD website:
One of the most significant impacts that therapy dogs can make in the classroom is students’ socio-emotional development. Besides their training, therapy dogs bring their lovable and loving characteristics. These friendly companions are good listeners and offer great companionship and an audience to children without making any judgments.
Students can bond readily with therapy dogs, feeling more connected and confident. Studies show that this helps reduce negative behavior in children. Spending time with dogs also helps improve children’s mental well-being. There is intense pressure on children in school environments. Therapy dogs help children learn social skills, preventing social isolation.
Interaction with therapy dogs has also been found to cause a social catalyst effect, and this further helps improve the stimulation of social behavior. The relationships between the dogs and students help develop trust in children, and such children are also more likely to develop a broader capacity for empathy.
Besides positively impacting children’s emotional well-being, therapy dogs also contribute to cognitive development. Some of the key benefits of interacting with therapy dogs are as follows:
Improved reading skills
Enhanced executive-functioning skills
Stimulating memory and problem-solving skills
Studies show that the very presence in an educational environment tends to improve the areas of attention, concentration, relaxation, and motivation. This helps in reducing stress levels that would otherwise affect proper learning.
Relevant Research Studies
According to a 2019 National Institute of Health study, the presence of a dog in a classroom can help promote a positive mood. The study also recorded the notable anti-stress effects on the body of students.
Another University of California study involving canine reading programs made another exciting discovery. Students participating in a program experienced their reading fluency increasing by 12% to 30%.
I’d be glad to help if I can! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns you may have.
On March 12, 2023 Lager did a very special hike in honor of K9 Veterans Day with his best gal pal, Ellie.
Veteran’s Park is a 333 acre park built in 1977 in honor of Hamilton, NJ’s veterans. The park offers many walking paths, picnic grounds, and athletic fields. We completed a 4.1 mile hike on mostly paved paths as we explored the various memorials throughout the park.
M-60-A3 U.S. Army Combat Tank
U.S. Army Ah-1F Cobra Attack Helicopter
Military Working Dog Memorial
U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom II Jet
Memorial for the Men and Women From Hamilton Township, NJ Who Served in the Armed Forces
Anchor and Two Missiles from World War II Battleships
Well…more like plates and screws…Today Whiskey had TPLO surgery on her left knee. I’m not sure why, but I was even more nervous this time around!
The surgery was performed at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital by Dr. Morris. Whiskey’s drop off time was 7am so we arrived a few minutes early so that she could visit her farm friends before being admitted for her procedure.
7:00 am: Check-In
Here we go!
Whiskey was a good girl (for the most part!) while in the waiting area after we checked in.
Once I got back home, I did a deep cleaning of the Fish Fortress so that her recovery area was super clean and ready for her arrival home.
8:55 am: Surgery
Whiskey was induced under general anesthesia and X-rays were obtained. She was taken to surgery, where she was confirmed to have a partial tear in her cranial cruciate ligament. Her meniscus was normal. A tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (PLO) was then performed without complication. Whiskey received an injection of a long-lasting numbing medication along her incision during closure to aid in post-operative comfort.
12:00 pm: Recovery
Whiskey recovered smoothly from anesthesia.
3:00 pm: Will Work For Food
…Specifically chicken! Whiskey schmoozed chicken from her Aunt Amanda after surgery.
3:20 pm: Potty Time
Whiskey post-surgery soaking up some sun on this beautiful sunny day.
3:30 pm: Post-Surgery Selfie
Hanging out with her Aunt Amanda after a post-surgery snack and walk. Our friend, Amanda, is the Nursing Supervisor at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital.
4:30 pm: Pick-Up
After the first surgery on her right knee, Whiskey walked out of the hospital on her own. This time, she was reluctant to walk at all or to put any weight on her left knee. She had to be carried out to the car. This is understandable and expected because Whiskey’s right knee is still in the process of healing. Whiskey will be a bit more unsteady this time around, so we will have to be extra cautious and take things especially slow.
Home Care Instructions
Whiskey’s incision will need to be monitored daily for excess draining, redness, swelling or discharge. Bruising is expected at the incision site and it should progress thru the healing phase as it changes colors. Any bruising that spreads in surface area will need to be documented with photographs and reported to the hospital staff.
A cold pack will be applied to the incision area 2-3 times daily for 5 minutes for the first 3 days following surgery.
The incision will not be covered and will be kept clean and dry
Whiskey is not allowed to swim or be bathed 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. Applying a warm compress to the area for 5 minutes 2 to 3 times a day and gently massaging the area will help.
Whiskey will be wearing an E-Collar at all times when not directly supervised.
Many patients are able to reach around inflatable donut collars or soft cones. As a result, it is recommend to use a hard plastic cone unless Whiskey is being directly supervised because if Whiskey is able to access her incision, she may be at increased risk of complications such as infection or dehiscence.
For the next 14 days, Whiskey will be confined to her Fortress and activity is restricted to short (less than 5 minutes) leash walks in the yard only to go out to the bathroom…then it’s back to her Fortress.
Whiskey must always be on a leash when outside.
Whiskey is not allowed to run, jump, stair climb or play with other dogs.
A sling will be used to support Whiskey while walking.
This medication is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication used for pain control.
This medication is used to target neuropathic pain.
This medication is used as needed to keep Whiskey calm.
This medication is a opioid derived medication used for pain control.
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 she goes to her two-week check-up appointment. By 6 weeks post-op, Whiskey is expected to be comfortably weight bearing on her left leg. Full recovery can take up to 3 to 6 months once Whiskey is allowed to resume her usual activities.
Last week Whiskey was tapered off of all meds for pain and sedation. She tolerated it well! I kept her PT exercises the same since the pain meds were being stopped, but her walking routine increased by five minutes each session to three walks a day at 10 minutes a piece.
This week marks 4-weeks post-surgery and we once again kicked her PT sessions up a notch. Along with the exercises Whiskey began at her 2-week post-surgery mark, I added in some tug in addition to backwards walking instead of using it as an alternative, and also introduced cavalettis. Whiskey’s three walks a day also increased to 15 minutes per session. She is tolerating all of this just fine, which is great because surgery number two on her left side is less than a week away – March 6th!
Whiskey’s schedule at Week 4:
Controlled “tug” is a great way to encourage use of hind quarters during recovery.
Cavalettis during rehab strengthens muscles involved in knee flexion (bending), increases range of motion in the knee joint and helps to ensure stiffness in the joint does not occur.
If you are setting up cavalettis for your dog, here is a general guideline on where to set the poles:
Measure your dog at the withers. Then set the poles at the same distance apart as your dog’s height at the withers. For example, if your dog is 22 inches tall at the withers, space the poles 22 inches apart.
Set the poles at a height that is equal to half your dog’s hock height. For example, if your dog’s hock measures 6 inches from the ground, set the poles no higher than 3″ high. For the purpose of rehabbing Whiskey’s knee, I set the poles on the ground at first to get her acclimated to them, and then set them at 2 inches.
*Adjusted from original guidelines at cleanrun.com
Look Ma, No Sling!
Whiskey has been walking, doing her exercises, and using stairs without any assistance.
A very special someone sent Whiskey a “Get Well Soon” package! Yummy treats and the most PERFECT Benebone ever…a fish! Whiskey worked extra hard during her PT for the treats and was occupied all night with the Benebone fish! Such perfect gifts – and so thoughtful and generous! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!