Rufus Unzipped!

One more vet appointment, one step closer on the Rufus Road To Recovery! I took Ru down to the animal hospital this afternoon to see what they think of his recovery from surgery 10 days ago. I thought the wounds were both healing well, but I’m no vet, so I kept my enthusiasm to myself. I was happy that even the assistants, after one look at his scars and stitches in the lobby (where they all came out to see him), beamed and said, “That looks great!”

The vet, too, was thrilled at Ru’s recovery. The wounds progressed well enough that he removed nearly all the stitches, leaving only 3 or 4 in at the two areas where the skin is still scabbed over and healing. These were near the center of both wounds, where the skin was too tight to stitch the sides together fully. He used a couple of dissolving stitches in those spots, but also left a few regular ones in place to reinforce the area near them.

We made an appointment for next Thursday to remove the rest of them, and the vet’s quite hopeful that it’ll be the last time we need to come around for a while.

He added that we can basically go back to regular activity, which is good, since Ru & I actually took his full 1.1-mile walk earlier in the day (he insisted!). If the weather’s cool on Sunday morning, maybe we’ll try bringing him up to the greyhound hike in Wawayanda.

On top of that, he doesn’t think there’s much damage Rufus can inflict on himself if I finally leave him on his own for an hour. So I may build up the nerve to do just that and let him enjoy the silence.

(Update: On second thought, the vet feels like we oughtta make sure he doesn’t lick at his wound too much, for fear of wearing away some of the scar tissue. So we’re gonna stay attached at the hip for a while more. And he’s way too conked-out after a 1-mile walk this evening for me to believe he’ll be in shape to handle Wawayanda tihs weekend. We’ll put that on hold.)


I haven’t written a Rufus-specific post since Sunday! You must be dyin’ for news!

There’s no major news. He seems to be recovering well, and is showing less and less inclination to nosh on his stitches. He still tries to get at the one unstitched area, but that’s healing over pretty well, too. He’s back to his “I’ll follow you to every room, Dad!” mode, and I’m back to putting a gate on the top of the stairs so he doesn’t follow me down when I’m getting his food or doing laundry.

I’ve started taking him out of the yard for increasingly longer walks, although I don’t want to take him on the full 1.1-mile loop of our neighborhood yet. Last night, after a bathroom break in the yard, he tried bolting back toward the house, another sign that he’s getting impatient with the slow pace I’ve been pushing on him. He’s also less likely to let me carry him up the stairs, another practice we got into to keep him from putting too much strain on his stitches.

That said, his patch-up seems to be holding together really well. We have a vet appt. on Friday afternoon, at which I’m hoping they’ll decide to take his stitches out and clear him for full activity. I miss getting out on walks, and I know he’s a-pinin’ to meet more neighbors and get more pity-scratchies.

What It Is: 6/8/09

What I’m reading: Plutarch’s life of Coriolanus, which makes me wonder how good Shakespeare’s play is. There’s a neat passage in this bio that I’ll transcribe and post a little later, about the role of the gods in human action.

What I’m listening to: Joe Jackson’s Night and Day.

What I’m watching: You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, 8 1/2 and M*A*S*H. Yes, I’m all over the place.

What I’m drinking: Plymouth & Q Tonic.

What Rufus is up to: Getting his leg stitched up last Tuesday, having a great folllowup on Friday, making weekend appearances at our local farmers market and our greyhound hike, and inspiring a Philadelphia-based work-related pal to adopt a greyhound! It’s been a busy week!

Where I’m going: Nowhere. See above.

What I’m happy about: Seeing my first Fellini flick and reveling in the gorgeous compositions and the gorgeouser women.

What I’m sad about: That Amy was away this weekend, visiting her family. I wasn’t sad that she was visiting the family, but my anxiety level over taking care of Rufus solo — especially now that he’s going bandageless and I have to pay that much more attention to make sure he doesn’t try to chew his wounds and break his stitches — left me pretty debilitated by Saturday night. And taking him along to Newark Airport to pick up Amy on Sunday wasn’t exactly a picnic, but I couldn’t really leave him alone for 2 hours, even with a muzzle, BiteNot collar, hip-wader, etc. I’d have spent the entire time worried that I’d be coming home to a dog who’d managed to tear up all the hard work the vets have done. Oy. I know this isn’t as stressful as having responsibility for a kid, but it’s still pretty exhausting.

What I’m worried about: Getting my Top Companies profiles written for the July/August ish.

What I’m pondering: Whether any man his age has hair that rivals that of Bjorn Borg.

The Ambassador

Ru & I made a surprise appearance at our Sunday greyhound hike, so he could sniff hello with the other greys and I could get out of the house for a little while. He was happy to see other dogs and to get affection and attention from all the other owners. I was happy to talk to people, as I’m going crazy here at home.

A few of them had seen the horrible photo of his leg 1 week after the attack, while some of others knew they wouldn’t be able to handle such a gory sight. They all dished the stories about how their greys managed to rip out stitches from past injuries, and were happy to see how well Ru’s wounds were healing, less than a week after surgery. One of the owners told me about how she made a flak-vest for her grey, to keep him from going after stitches on the middle of his back.

Once we got home, I opened my work e-mail and discovered that one of the PR guys I work with is going to adopt a grey this week! He and his wife had been thinking of getting a dog for a while, he told me. Between the various pictures of Rufus that I’ve run in my magazine’s From the Editor page, and the story of Ru’s injuries he heard after the BIO show, they decided to contact their local greyhound rescue group. They’re picking up their 2-year-old male this Thursday, after getting assurances that he’ll be okay around their two cats.

He lives in Philadelphia, so I told him that we’ll have to meet halfway in September, at the big greyhound picnic in Bridgewater, NJ!

Here are the pix he sent over of his soon-to-be fur-kid:



I like his dainty, cross-front-legged stance. Very coquettish.

And, just to tug on your heartstrings a little more, here’s a pic of The Ambassador from yesterday afternoon, hanging out down in my library:

A stitch in Ru

About one hour after I posted that item on how great Rufus’ bandages were holding up, they began their pilgrimage  down his leg. Still, this wrap lasted nearly 48 hours after his Tuesday surgery, which saved me a ton of aggravation.

We went down for a 1pm followup and rebandage today. Both our lead vet (Dr. A) and the vet who handled Rufus’ first operation (Dr. R) came in to check him out. Dr. A cut off the failing bandages, carefully peeled the tape from Rufus’ tender skin, and announced, “WOW! He’s healing great!”

He assumed that some of the stitches would have torn by now, either through Rufus’ attempts at getting to them or just through his regular activity. I didn’t tell them that I’ve been on 24-hour alert, zooming into action the moment I hear the jangle of the metal tags on Rufus’ collar. But I did let them know that, while I let Ru walk down the stairs because he knows to keep from using that leg, I still carry him up the stairs as well as into the car. I figure the strain of that motion, where he pushes off with both rear legs, is more likely to cause the stitches to tear, especially with the double-leap he’d have to do in order to climb our stairs. Dr. R was glad that I wasn’t making little exceptions and taking shortcuts.

Then Dr. A said, “Well, it looks like we’re done with bandages!”

“Excuse me?” I said, shocked and already making a mental inventory of the self-adhering bandages, gauze wraps, sterile pads and other accoutrements that we’ve stockpiled.

“He’s healing so well, I don’t think he needs the bandages anymore. As long as you can keep him from reaching back there and chewing on his stitches, he should be fine till we take them out in a week or so.”

Dr. R added that she couldn’t believe how much better his skin was than when she performed the first surgery, a day after the attack. “There really wasn’t much skin to work with,” she said, “but this looks great.”

Dr. A recommended we pick up a compression wrap of some kind that can slide over the leg to protect it from Ru’s compulsive grooming, but said that his sweatshirt-cum-hip-wader was a good setup to keep the area covered. They still want us to keep Ru’s activity restricted — yard-only bathroom breaks, with no full walkies — but felt that it would be fine for Ru to promenade tomorrow morning at the farmer’s market.

Rufus, meanwhile, is simply thankful that there’s no more medical tape involved.

And, once again, the exam room turned into the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera, as virtually every employee of the animal hospital came in to say hello to Rufus, give him some rubbies and scratchies, and get a look at his big, heart-melting eyes.

Did he use Krazy Glue?

No Rufus news since our last update, except to note that the bandages our vet applied after Ru’s surgery on Tuesday are still holding up! This is a great relief to me, as a big source of my consternation and anxiety during this episode has been the need to constantly reapply bandages and figure out how to keep both of Ru’s wounds covered and protected.

Last night, Nancy, one of the people from Greyhound Friends NJ who helped us adopt Rufus, stopped by to drop off a cage-type muzzle for Rufus, and also to see how he’s doing. She brought Cali, her grey-girl, along. Ru was happy to make Cali’s acquaintance, but he spent most of his time leaning against Nancy and getting rubs & scratches. And a couple of times, he simply wedged himself between Nancy and her old girl, so he could get himself a little extra love.

Today, he’s pretty much just zonked out on his bed in my home office while I do research for my July/August issue. I let him walk down the stairs on his own, because he keeps from using that rear paw when he does that, but I still carry him up the stairs like Cole Porter’s manservant.

Flipped out

I know all these Rufus recovery posts can be pretty exhausting. Here’s a little reminder of who we’re talking about, mere hours after yesterday’s surgery:

Don’t Crate Me In

Ready for another Rufus update? I thought so!

Our boy went to the animal hospital for surgery today, and all went wonderfully! The vet said that he managed to stitch up the entire rear wound, and about 80% of the front wound. If the sutures hold up (read: if we keep Ru from noshing on them or tearing them with too much activity) then he may be able to get by without a third operation!

So, sentimentality and dignity and such aside, I put his BiteNot collar — thanks, JB Pets! — on him when I got him home. Uncomfortable though it is (well, “though it looks“), I’m willing to take that over panicking every time I leave the room that he’s going to lick his wounds and tear his stitches. And, following Greyhound Jane’s advice, I’ll also put his nylon muzzle on him along with a little duct tape when I have to go out for lunch or anything. Thanks, Jane!

Meanwhile, the owners of the attacking dog just sent a letter claiming, contra the police report, that Rufus was being walked in their yard and that the Akita “proceeded to defend their property.” Which is to say, they’re trying to get out of paying the bills, although they are “willing to share some of the responsibility for the bills you incur once all necessary treatments for the incident have been completed.” Emphasis theirs.

Sigh. I should note that neither owner was home to witness this attack, and it occurred 3 weeks after their Akita came out of the yard and attacked another dog.

So, I’ll get my lawyer on that. As is, I haven’t even sent ’em the bills from CVS, RiteAid, Stop & Shop, and Wayne Pharmacy (two paws up! if only they had a website to plug) for all the bandages, gauze pads and other supplies that we’ve had to use to keep Ru’s wounds protected.

I told the vet about this claim of theirs, and he said, “He was in their yard, ON HIS LEASH?” He also reiterated his claim that he’d never seen muscle torn out of a dog’s leg like that, and still doesn’t get how my boy was able to walk on it.

Oh, and he thinks his latest bandage-job is going to last three days! Bwah-ha-ha!

I told him his last one didn’t reach the six-hour mark; he slit his eyes and said, “Well, if your dog’s leg was just built upside-down, this bandage would work fine!”

What It Is: 6/1/09

What I’m reading: The first three installments of Chris Ware’s “Rusty Brown” book, and some of Plutarch’s life of Alcibiades.

What I’m listening to: Quadrophenia.

What I’m watching: Back-to-back-to-back episodes of Reno 911!, The Wrestler, and, once again, the most entertaining movie ever: Kung Fu Hustle.

What I’m drinking: Plymouth & Q Tonic.

What Rufus is up to: Still recovering from his wounds. He’s scheduled for surgery on Tuesday morning to stitch up more of the damage. I feel a little guilty about my sense of relief that someone else will be taking care of him for a few hours. Outside of an hour or so this weekend when I went out to a surgical supplies store to look for better bandaging & protection materials for him, I’ve pretty much been joined at the hip with Rufus since I got home from Atlanta 10 days ago. As penance for this, I’ll have to deal with him having a new set of stitches and a reduced allowance of physical activity, just when he’s got a ton of energy back and has finally returned to doing his little mealtime pirouette-dance.

Where I’m going: Nowhere. See above.

What I’m happy about: That the vet was so excited about Ru’s current stage of recovery at last Friday’s followup. Also, my pals Ian & Jess came to visit this weekend. We chilled out, ate some of my wife’s fine cooking, watched the aforementioned most entertaining movie ever (two new converts: yay!), and just shot the breeze. They were quite happy not to go out and do stuff, given that they drove 8 hours to get here on Friday and had another 8-hour haul Sunday to get back to VA. I was also pretty happy to get the June issue wrapped up by deadline.

What I’m sad about: That I have to jump right into the July/August issue.

What I’m worried about: That the owners of the dog that attacked Rufus won’t pay his vet bills, forcing me to get my lawyer involved. They haven’t said this yet; they just haven’t responded to my note and the first three bills.

What I’m pondering: Why the use of athletic tape, which is really effective in keep Rufus’ bandages from slipping, also has to cause him so much pain when I change it out.