The baby is asleep in her swing, the dog is asleep in his kennel, and the husband is at the gym. I should be taking this opportunity to nap myself, but I'm just so thrilled about all the blessed silence in this house that can't bear the thought of falling asleep and missing it!
So at least one of our suspicions regarding Chickens was correct - that big surgery collar was making him miserable. After the vet removed 12 industrial-sized staples from his back incision yesterday, we were finally able to take the damned thing off. And when we got home, Chickens promptly curled up and slept for three hours. Without drugs. We couldn't stop staring incredulously at that quiet little heap under the blankets. It seemed miraculous that the dog who kept us awake for a week with his crying could sleep like such an angel.
No other updates on his paralysis - his back end is floppy and limp. But the good news is that his spirits are getting higher by the day. Yesterday when the vet set him down, Chickens bolted across the floor like a little seal, "walking" with his front legs and dragging his back behind him. He went straight to his dad for a kiss and a cuddle. A few minutes ago when I opened the door of his cage, he skittered toward me and out onto the floor. When I gave him a treat, he started whining with it in his mouth (he does that when it's a REALLY good treat) and then he dragged himself back into the cage to bury the treasure inside his blankets. And about 15 minutes ago, he even growled at his mortal enemy, the mailman! So his back end aside, he is more and more our old Chickens every day.
Now we wait. It could be weeks or even months before we know whether he'll ever walk again, but there's still plenty of room to hope for the best. We just have to be vigilant about his care. Several times per day, we have a session of P.T. in which we extend and retract each of his back legs 30 times. We also have to help him go to the bathroom. Poops come out on their own, but pee only comes with some help, so four times a day we have to manually express his bladder onto one of those doggie pee pads. You guys, I am an EXPERT manual-canine-bladder-expresser. It was really difficult at first, because I was so nervous - you have to push kind of hard, with your hands all over his back end where the surgery happened. Plus, well, it's just not easy to locate a dog's bladder with your hands and squeeze it in just the right way that makes pee comes out. The nurse who taught us how to do it was like, "Oh, don't worry - it's just like milking a cow!" Ah, yes. Very helpful. I'll just fall back on all of those cow-milking talents I picked up in college.
Later today we're going to take him to the back yard and let him sniff around. See if we can help get his brain and his bladder talking again. We're also very excited about giving him his first bath, now that the staples are gone. I mean, during those first dozen or so potty breaks, let's just say the farmer had a tough time aiming the teat at the bucket. The vet also said we could let him out of his cage for short, supervised periods. Let him scoot around and feel like he's part of the world again.
Life with a dog who requires this much attention, plus an adorable 5-week-old baby who is even more demanding, is hard. But when I start to feel like I'm losing it, I try to think back to where we were even five days ago, and I realize we have already come a very long way through this storm. And I'm hoping that five days from now, and five days from then, life will settle back into something that - even if it isn't - will feel kind of normal.