The Limp, the Surgery, the Dilemma that is Henry.

Henry starts limping in May 2008.

At first we can't tell if he is limping or not. He isn't consistent with his limping and it's just hard to tell. Henry has had a weird, flat-footed walk since we got him because of the interdigital erythema. Finally, we decide it's a limp and off he goes to the vet where he is sedated and x-rayed.

The vet doesn't see anything abnormal in the x-rays but decides to consult with a specialist to make sure. The specialist agrees. The vet does see bone shards in Henry's stomach and warns me to stop giving him bones. He also prescribes pain medication for Henry. I leave feeling frustrated because I didn't learn why Henry was limping...although, I did learn that x-rays and specialists are expensive.

In September, we have our new vet look at his knee. He feels the positioning of the leg in the initial x-rays was improper. He takes new x-rays and combined with the physical exam identifies the culprit as a subluxing patella. His recommendation is to perform surgery to deepen the patellar groove to prevent the patella from subluxing. This is important he tells me to prevent a future ACL injury. Jensen and I decide to go through with the surgery because we believe it will save us money in the long run.

Henry gets the surgery on September 10, 2008. The staff at the vet decorate his bandage with a red heart. This is the first time I am instructed to have Henry on "severe activity restriction." I quickly learn that this is impossible with Henry. We keep him kenneled most of the time but he jumps, pulls, and generally goes crazy when we take him out to "go potty."

At this time, I was just starting my second year graduate school to get my Doctorate of Physical Therapy. If I had received the recommendation to deepen his patellar groove 6 months or so later I would have questioned the doctor. A shallow patellar groove could definitely be a factor, however there are likely more factors (ligamentous laxity, muscular imbalance, malalignment, gait abnormality, soft-tissue contracture). This is important because these factors will continue to effect the knee even if the groove is deepened and therefore may not help the problem at all. And I would have been right!

After the surgery Henry demonstrates morning stiffness and so a few months later, when Henry stops weight bearing on the same leg for a couple of days, we hope it is also because of stiffness. This seems likely as he starts walking normally and being his regular, hyperactive, crazy self.

A few months later we are back at the vet to get Henry's right front limb examined. While he doesn't seem to be limping, we notice that he sits with his right front leg out to the side (abducted and internally rotated). The vet recommends we consult with a specialist about Henry's elbow. He checks Henry's knee as well after we tell him about the limping episode. The physical exam doesn't turn up anything abnormal and the vet thinks it is likely that stiffness caused the limping.

The specialist examines and x-rays Henry's right front leg. The x-rays are inconclusive but he thinks there may be a bone chip in the elbow joint. He gives us the choice of surgery or CT scan. We decide to do the surgery for monetary reasons. A CT scan costs about half of what the exploratory surgery was estimated to cost. If during the surgery they found a bone chip they could remove it and that would be it. If they found a chip with the CT scan then we would have to get the surgery anyway. The day before the surgery, Henry stops weight bearing on his left rear leg. The surgeon decides to do some imaging of the knee and finds Henry has an ACL tear. So we are given a choice: go along with the planned exploratory surgery and try and rehab his front leg with a injured rear leg OR get surgery to repair the ACL and get a CT scan of the front leg. We go with the latter. Henry receives a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy. This surgery affects the mechanics of the knee joint and so the PT in me is satisfied. The CT scans reveal that Henry has a fragmented medial coronoid process in his right elbow with a possible ununited medial epicondyle of the humerus.

Recovery is tough. Henry doesn't believe in "severe activity restriction." We have to confine him to a small room (an inclosed porch) otherwise he runs and jumps around like the crazy, little man that he is. We have to carry him up and down stairs to take him outside. It isn't difficult to carry his little 70 pound frame but catching him and lifting him can be difficulty. I disobey every directive about lifting I've ever given a patient and try and lift Henry while twisting and using only my back. This leads to the humiliating experience of having to call in to my final internship 2 days in a row. At least, I got to be a living example to patients as to why lifting improperly is bad. In addition, activity restriction for this surgery is long.

In July, he is still supposed to be on a leash at all times. I take Henry out to the backyard regularly to enjoy the summer. I start getting lazy and occasionally let him off leash. He is very good and doesn't run around--just stays next to me in the grass. Except one time...a bicyclist passing by the house inspires Henry to run like a bat out of hell across the yard. Once again Henry stops weight bearing on rear left leg.

After a night of feeling like the worst person on earth for giving H freedom we are back at the vet. This round of x-rays doesn't seem as bad. After all, CT scans are way more expensive. The x-rays are sent to the surgeon and after a couple agonizing days we learn the repair still looks good and Henry probably just strained a muscle.

The elbow surgery? Well, that has to wait until Henry's chest is clear of a skin infection for 3 weeks to reduce the risk of infection in the incision. Keeping him on antibiotics isn't helping. Steroid treatments are working but a round of steroids lasts about 20 days and his skin starts getting infected as soon as we start reducing the dose to 1/2 pill every other day. Half glass full: we have more time to save up for the elbow surgery. Half glass empty: treating his skin & allergies is preventing us from saving any money....


Canine or swine?

“Is your dog pink?”

This is a question I get on a regular basis and no wonder: Henry often looks pink (thus the occasional nickname of piglet). When his skin is irritated he turns a beautiful shade of pink all over his little body – and his skin is always irritated.

He was on antibiotics for a skin condition when we adopted him and he has been on and off of antibiotics and steroids ever since. And the scratching! Oh man, the scratching is enough to drive us all insane. I think that scratching might be higher on the “things that annoy me and prevent me from sleeping list” than snoring!

His most frequent itchy spot is his left armpit. This provides a lot of amusement as he sticks his tongue out with each forward sweep of his back foot but also gives him bright red armpits. 

He also scratches his forehead until it bleeds and chews and bites and licks his paws until they are bright red. 

Oh, and when he is tired he gets bright red around his lips and nose. Which means I have a pink dog with red spots.

I don't think this picture does it justice but to give you an idea:

For a long time there was this never-ending cycle of taking Henry to the vet, getting meds & sometimes a steroid shot, and having a less itchy dog for a couple of weeks and then returning to the vet in a month (at the most). Not only was this a drain on the pocketbook but I was worried about exposing H to so many meds so much. And we just felt bad for Henry and his quality of life or lack thereof.

One vet recommended that we draw blood and get it tested for allergies, leading to regular allergy shots for our little man. Surprisingly, he doesn’t mind getting the shots…or maybe not surprisingly as he gets treats after each shot. The blood test was positive for several food allergies as well and so Henry went on a hypoallergenic diet. He wasn’t much better with the shots but better enough that we were able to visit the vet a little less frequently.

We changed vets and were instructed to give Henry more frequent baths and were given the name of a specialist to take him too. Baths are surprisingly easy and leave us with the softest Henry of a dog.

The specialist? That would be a veterinary dermatologist. Right. I’ve been struggling with adult acne for years and it’s my dog that gets a dermatologist. The doctor told us that blood tests aren’t very reliable and so that the only way to determine food allergies was through an elimination diet. My favorite thing about the doctor was that he kept my pocketbook in mind and recommended we wait to do the gold standard skin test until we see the results of the current allergy serum we had with a modified shot schedule. The dermatologist also prescribed an antihistamine to be given twice daily (a steal at more than 50$ a month).

This gave us a little more time in between vet visits…until both Jensen & I thought the other had given H his shots. A mere two weeks without allergy shots and Henry’s skin was out of control. Back to the vet for more antibiotics. The vet also told us we could give Henry up to three Benadryl per dose when he was having such a bad reaction.

The dermatologist couldn’t see Henry for over a month (apparently there are lots of allergic pets in the greater Seattle area) and in the meantime I bought enough Benadryl to put an entire city to sleep. You would think that a diet augmented with six Benadryl would chill Henry out right? That six Benadryl would calm our hyperactive, crazy little canine right? Wrong. The pills may as well have been made of sugar, very expensive sugar.

Finally, the day of Henry’s skin test arrived. Even Henry was reluctant to go to the vet when we had to leave at the crack of dawn to make the 45-minute drive (without traffic) to get to our 7 a.m. appointment. The dermatologist and his assistant take Henry away for his test as I go off in search of coffee. I enter the office less then fifteen minutes later to the sound of laughter. The doctor emerges from the back still giggling: “I just reversed the sedative and Henry still has his sea legs!”

Surprise of surprises Henry is allergic to almost everything except saline: Human dander, cat dander, dust mites, storage mites, wool, a mix of insect venom (is that what you call it?), weeds, if it is/was alive, grows, blooms, etc., he is allergic to it. Oh, and the storage mites? Storage mites are in dried food when you buy it, which means that we now have to freeze Henry’s dried food before we give it to him…oh joy.

The new shots have to be given to Henry every other day. He has been on them for a couple of months. He is still itchy but he isn’t eating a horses share of Benadryl on a daily basis. But time will tell….

Oh, Henry.


What is Henry?

The Seattle Animal Shelter said he was a purebred American Pit Bull Terrier. Which never seemed quite right because of his height, his gargantuan ears, his face & chest (which are just not quite as broad as other pit bulls). I have been told he looks just like an American Bulldog, a Dogo Argentino, and many others.

What is he?

I wanted to know. Do I wear an "I love my American Pit Bull Terrier" or "I love my Dogo Argentino" shirt?

So I finally break down and get a DNA test. I mean really, I spend enough money on this dang dog that I should at least be able to know what the heck he is.

And the results:
At least 50%: American Staffordshire Terrier &....
At least 12.5%: Miniature Bull Terrier




hmmm, well maybe the miniature bull terrier explains the ears?

The Shocker.


I couldn’t write my term paper at my desk because Henry kept trying to climb into my lap. So I decided to sit on the sofa so that I could cuddle my pup and crank out the last paper before spring break at the same time. I had been working on the paper for the previous few days and not sleeping very much (I procrastinate a lot) and so took a nap the second the paper was e-mailed to my professor. To be awakened by a scream.

Wait, a scream?

I found Henry on his side shaking, foaming out of his mouth and having lost control of both bowel and bladder but still conscious. An awful smell seemed to emanate from him—unrelated to the mess on the floor. I got a paper towel and began to wipe the foam away from his gums and found two, whitish lines on his lip that look like a cauterization. That’s when I noticed the extension cord…chewed open to reveal two metal pieces that were perfect matches with the lines on his lip.

(This is a good point to mention that if I had just ignored Henry and stayed at my desk, like I should have, this never would have happened.)

The call to the vet consisted of: “my dog just electrocuted himself!!!” and “Bring him in! Bring him in!”

For the first 15 minutes of the car ride Henry was still, too still, in the passenger seat of the truck. I monitored his pulse and respiration rate for any detectable abnormalities (can you tell I was taking my Cardiopulmonary class at this time)? About two miles from the vet he sits up and starts trying to climb into my lap – all 50+ pounds of him. I push him back into his seat but he keeps frantically trying. He settles back down until I pull into the parking lot of the vet. He pops his head up and realizes where we are.

Have I mentioned that Henry loves, L-O-V-E-S the vet? He jumps up in his seat and can hardly wait for me to open the car door. He pulls me into the vet pulling so hard on the leash that he is constricting his breathing. A vet tech looks up and exclaims “Henry! You dork! Are you the dog that electrocuted himself?” Techs, front office staff, and the veterinarian gather around him and he is wagging his tail and jumping around like nothing ever happened. The vet looks up, “this is not the dog that electrocuted himself?”

The vet concludes that he must have just burned himself because there is no way he could be jumping around and so happy if he had electrocuted himself. She gives me instructions to monitor him for 36 hours for any pulmonary edema (bloody froth from the mouth) but that’s it.

He behaves normally after this but he continues to have just an “off” smell.

The smell gets worse. The whole house just…reeks. And it is definitely coming from H. Back to the vet we go….

The veterinarian examines his lip, which it turns out is basically rotting. Then he has me open Henry’s mouth so he can look around.

“Have you seen his tongue?” the vet asks. Jensen and I both peered inside H’s mouth to observe a pink tongue with a perfect half-circle, at least an inch, missing from the right side. “This is one lucky dog. The electricity entered his lip & exited his tongue, if it had gone to his heart he would have been killed instantly.”

We leave with antibiotics and a mouthwash to prevent food from getting into the wound on his lip. The smell gets marginally better. I notice that part of his gum is hanging off. I chase him around with a paper towel and manage to grab him long enough to grab the hanging skin, which comes away easily. The smell now seems to come from my hand and I run the – I don’t even want to think about what it was – outside to the trash can, gagging the entire way.

The stench in our house goes away and we are left with Henry minus a chunk of gum and a chunk of tongue. The missing gum means that Henry now drools out of the right side of his mouth, drools on the couch, drools on the coffee table, drools on Jensen and I, our guests, strangers – you name it!

On an interesting (but related) side note:

Henry is a little bit crazy. He gets overstimulated and freaks out. He only wags his tail when he is barking at Jensen or myself, he is a perfect angle on walks for months & then decides to jump and try and grab a strangers shirt, jacket, on one occasion a neighbors hair, or tries to eat a door:

 Vets and dog trainers all confidently aver that he is not aggressive at all. I have heard things such as he is: just misunderstood (said with humor), dorky, silly, etc. Two seperate people have commented that he acts just like crack babies do.

We come up with different hypotheses: he is simply crazy, he was exposed to some bad chemicals with his first owners (meth?), etc. But recently I came up with a new one. I take Henry to the doggy dermatologist who notices the drool/missing gum. After hearing the whole electrocution story he tells me his own electrocution story about an acquaintance’s 3 year old son that chewed an extension cord and despite being in his 30’s never progressed past 1st grade developmentally.

First reaction: Oh, crap! I have to worry about this with a kid?

Second reaction: ! Maybe that is Henry’s problem.

Oh, Henry.

Things Henry Has Eaten or Attempted to Eat

A * indicates attempt was successful

  • A Blue latex glove*
  • A Jelly fish*
  • An extension cord (*sort of -- the extension cord won)
  • Dead Bird x 4...* x 1.5
  • A Dime bag full of marijuana
  • Cat Feces *****************
  • Pen(sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss)
  • Pencil(ssssssssssssssss)
  • Book(ssssssssssssssss)
  • Shoe(ssssss)
  • Dead Rat x 2
  • Eye glasses x 3
  • Dead snails*, lots & lots of dead snails*************
  • Raspberries*, I'm kinda proud of this one, he picks them himself. When they are ripe it is very hard to get him to come inside, he is inside the raspberry bushes, just picking away.
  • Packing peanuts*****. It appears to only be ones that are made out of cornstarch. Which can be funny because if he doesn't eat it fast enough it turns into a gluey glob that adheres itself to the roof of his mouth--not that he is allowed to eat these. We don't want him to but he is a sneaky little bugger and can sent them out...even in closed boxes.
  • Horse poop*---This seems to be the favorites of all the poops
  • Cat poop**
  • Dog poop**

Nicknames & other names Henry has been called.

  • H
  • H Dale
  • Hank
  • Hankenstein
  • Big Baby Lemonade
  • Double H
  • Henry Hamilton, Henry the Hamilton
  • HP Lemoncraft: short for Henry Peefoot (because he did pee on his foot), Lemon because...well that's probably pretty self explanatory. 
  • Bubba
  • Bubbaganoush
  • Piglet
  • Monster
  • Henry Herbert Hoover: this one is usually used when he is in trouble or when I want to get his attention...weird thing is that it works every time!
  • Sweet Boy
  • The White Monster
  • Handsome
  • The Great White Crazy
  • Bubba Ho Tep
  • Bubba Ho
  • Bubba Lou
  • Bubbaluffagus
  • Sugarplum


Your dog? No.

I take Henry in for his initial exam with the same veterinarian that the shelter took him to after taking him away from his previous owner. The first thing I noticed was that Henry loved the vet and I mean l-o-v-e-d the vet. The minute he realized where we were he began jumping around and pulling on his leash to the point of almost suffocating himself. (My initial hypothesis was that this particular vet was the first place that Henry was shown love and positive attention – later I would discover he just plain loves going to any vet).

The doctor seemed genuinely endeared by Henry and pointed out to me the spot on the initial evaluation where he had written “Nice Dog.” He told me that Henry’s skin condition was so bad when he first saw him that he couldn’t close the exam room doors because Henry smelled so bad.

In our two weeks with Henry we couldn’t help but notice that he was hyperactive. Every day I took Henry on longer and longer walks and the only result was that I was exhausted and Henry was recharged, rip roaring and ready to go. And so I was impatient to ask the doctor, “I hear that puppies usually calm down by two years old?” The doctor replied, “yeah, but with your dog you’ll be lucky if it’s three.”

Henry’s first valentines day came and we celebrated by getting him neutered. I dropped him off in the morning and was instructed to call when I got out of school to see if he is ready for pick up. After school, I did as I was instructed and the receptionist states, “Hmm, let me see…” (I can only assume that she placed the handset through the door into the room where the kennels are kept because I suddenly could hear Henry barking) “We’ve already had to sedate him again, oh yes, I’d say he is ready!”

So when I picked him up I couldn’t wait to ask hopefully, “is it true that sometimes dogs calm down after they are neutered?” The receptionist snorted and said: “Some dogs: yes. Your dog? No.”

Oh, Henry….

The name dilemma

We agreed that Kilo was not the name for this dog.

The vet that saw him after he was rescued wanted to name him Troy (which neither of us liked).

The shelter named him Spud because they saw a resemblance to Spuds Mackenzie (it’s the single eye brow). Here is Spuds:
Here is the photo the shelter posted on Petfinder:

From Oh, Henry.

Every time I heard the name Spud it made me think of Rudy on the Cosby Show saying, “Buuuud.”

I had always wanted to name a dog Larry, but Jensen didn’t think he looked like a Larry.

“What do you think he looks like then?”

“He looks like a Henry.”

Oh, Henry.

In less than 24 hours...

In less than 24 hours I had found the dog.
He was listed as "Spud" an adult, purebred American Pit Bull Terrier, and lordy was he cute! I raced to the shelter frightened that someone else would get my dog. I met him, fell instantly in love, and despite him weighing in at approximately 50 lbs…realized there was no way he was an adult.

There were other clues that, perhaps, should have indicated I was in over my head.
  • Spud was brought to the Seattle animal shelter after they received a report that he was being abused. He had recently been listed for adoption after insufficient evidence had been found to charge his previous owners with neglect and possible abuse.
  • Spud’s original name was Kilo. Could have been someone being funny OR could have been someone involved in illegal activity.
  • Spud was on antibiotics for a skin infection, the skin in between his toes was so swollen he walked flat-footed, and he was recovering from a right distal radial fracture.

I was questioned about prior experience with the American Pit Bull Terrier, why I wanted a dog of this breed, and my dedication to being a dog owner (in general and to this breed). I was asked under what conditions did I see myself surrendering as his owner. I was informed that the next step was to go home and do some research and was provided with some web sites, such as I proudly informed the officer that I had been to all of these sites but still had to wait until I could bring Jensen in to meet Spud.

The minute Spud’s kennel was opened he leaned against Jensen’s legs and looked up over his shoulder at him. Ah, he got him!


The deal was...

The deal was that certain criteria had to be met before we could get a dog:

  1. Jensen had to have a separate room for his records
  2. We had to have a house with a yard big enough for a dog to run around in 
  3. I had to agree that the dog would under no condition, ever, be allowed in aforementioned record room or our bed
This meant that for three years Jensen experienced feelings of guilt as I frequently e-mailed him links to posts of dogs in the Seattle metropolitan area (or our hometown of Reno, Nevada).
            Six months after we purchased our home, I realized the criteria had been met. I had recently started the most stressful experience of my life (also known as grad school) so decide that the responsible thing to do would be to only look at adult dogs. I get the o.k. from Jensen and the search begins.