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An Update on Sara’s Surgery and Rehab

A few weeks ago I wrote about our howling tradition. Click here for a refresher. I have to say that poor Sara has the worst voice. Meadow, Adriana, and Floyd can all carry a tune. Their howls start low and deep, then rise until they reach a rousing crescendo. Their howls reverberate.

Not Sara’s. Halfway through the first bay, her voice cracks, and she ends up belting out a high-pitched yapping sound. Eventually, it turns into the same kind of bark she uses on our mail lady. Sara doesn’t care though. No shame. She just keeps yipping away.

Speaking of our little patient, it’s been six weeks since Sara’s surgery, and she’s been leash-free for the last two. She’s doing great. We started her on a slow but steady rehab program. At first, we only walked her for a half-mile, then we increased it to three-quarters, then a mile, and so on.

Only two weeks after Sara’s surgery, we started taking her swimming. Sara may not be the best howler, but she is a fantastic swimmer. In fact, she’s the only one who does it. Meadow stands in the water, deep enough so that it hits her belly. Floyd does the same, only he never goes farther than his knees. Ade trots back and forth along the bank. She gets soaked but never loses her footing.

Thankfully, Sara loves it. She’s like a kid who won’t come out of the pool. Sometimes, we have to bribe her with a peanut butter treat to get her out of the water. Swimming is a great way to rehab a dog’s knee. It’s easy on the joints. Since we walk along the Sulphur Fork Creek, we’ve been taking advantage of all our favorite swimming holes.

Currently, Sara’s walking two-miles and swimming for ten minutes daily. I told her if she learns to ride a bike, then she can enter a triathlon. Because we all know she sure as hell shouldn’t be entering any howling competitions. 🙂



Two Surgeries in Two Weeks

I’m sorry for the lack of posts lately but we’ve had a hectic two weeks at the Farnival. First, I needed surgery because I cracked a tooth chewing on hard candy. I actually cracked it during quarantine but because it wasn’t infected, I had to wait for regulations to lighten before a surgeon would see me. PSA: listen when someone tells you that chewing hard candy can damage your teeth. And never, ever chew it during a pandemic.

The week after my ordeal, Sara tore her meniscus. We knew it as soon as we saw her holding her paw off the ground. This is the second time she’s had surgery on her right knee since the fall of 2018. The first one was on her ACL. She was over it then, and I can promise you she’s over it now.

She’s especially over wearing the lampshade and drags it against furniture, walls, and doorframes to make sure we know it. Emotionally, it’s hard on her too. She can’t play in the backyard with Adriana or wrestle with Floyd on the porch. And when we all leave for our afternoon walk, she has to stay home alone.

The surgery on her torn meniscus wasn’t nearly as complicated as the first on her ACL, so we’re hoping for a much quicker recovery. We did take her off the opioids a lot earlier this time, like forty-eight hours post surgery. She definitely had some discomfort, but she was much happier.

Sara hated the pain meds. We had to shove that pill halfway down her throat to get her to swallow it. She had no problem taking the Rimadyl and antibiotic, but she fought the pain meds so much that we started listening to her. She was clearly telling us that she didn’t like how they made her feel. And I get it. Opioids make me nauseous. I stuck to ibuprofen after they extracted my tooth.

Instead, we’ve been massaging her knee and icing it for ten minutes a few times a day. Plus, we’ve been giving her a higher dose of CBD oil. I can’t say enough about CBD oil. It’s one trend that actually lives up to the hype. It’s been a week since her surgery, and we couldn’t be happier with her progress. She’s been doing so good that Mason took her for a ten-minute stroll on the greenway this morning, and right now she’s snoring away in the bedroom.

My Big Sister Sara by Adriana

Hey everybody. Hope you are all staying safe and healthy. The other day I was reading a magazine that challenged readers to compose a piece of flash fiction (300 words or less) about their dog’s interior life. I thought, why not?  If you need a creative outlet right now, try writing from your mutt’s point of view. It’s silly fun. Please send me your results. I’d love to read them.

(Sara and Ade)

My Big Sister Sara

The dirt heaves near my paws. A mole tunnels underneath it. The earth stills, stays still. The mole has no idea how patient I can be. My big sister Sara taught me about a huntress’s patience. She teaches me lots of things. Right now, she’s watching and her approval means everything.

The moving earth is the only evidence I need the mole’s there, but I also smell him. Moles smell like squirrels but different. They carry more of a muddy aroma while the latter’s fragrance is mixed with evergreen. I’m sure he senses me too, but he’s hungry for grubs. Our yard’s lowest corner is a like a worm’s version of the dog park.

I’m good at hunting moles, but I’ve never caught a squirrel aka the holy grail. My sister killed two. Both times we had been running leash-free in the woods. Sara says squirrels are fast but they are indecisive. Strike during that moment of indecision.

The earth trembles again. He’s close. Every muscle in my body vibrates with anticipation. I almost lunge, but I picture Sara being motionless and active all at once. I wait another fraction of a second, until the mole’s hands break the surface. Then I pounce. The mole scrambles for deeper ground, but my timing is perfect. I seize him before he gets far. A wild joy swells inside me, and I triumphantly whip him back and forth.

Afterwards, I roll over his body, spreading his glorious aroma all over my fur. Sara rolls on him too. We don’t have long. As soon as mom sees, she’ll march outside and throw him over the fence. Then she’ll march back inside, muttering about how uncivilized we are. Sara licks my mouth, letting me know she’s proud. I snatch the mole and start racing across the grass. My big sister chases me.

Pretty Boy Floyd Falls for Dawn

floyd close up


It was the middle of the night. The bedroom fan rhythmically whirled. The window was open, and a soft breeze carrying the scent of honeysuckle blew through the screen. A warm front was moving in from the south. Wondering what had woken me up, I heard Floyd’s tail thumping against the hardwood floor. He sleeps next to the bed.

Paws pitter-pattered down the hallway and I assumed Floyd’s sister Sara was moving to her own sleeping space in the spare bedroom. Even though Floyd is currently the only male in a pack of seven dogs, he’s never cared about any other female except for his littermate and me. But as her clicking nails moved closer and Floyd’s tail whapped harder, I recognized the distinctive jingle of the tags on Dawn’s collar. Floyd was excited about seeing our foster dog Dawn.

Since that night, I’ve noticed them playing on several occasions. Once, I even walked by when Floyd was rolling on his back and jawing back and forth with her. Could our Pretty Boy Floyd finally be falling in love? It makes sense, doesn’t it? Dawn’s is beautiful, her coat as shiny as coal, plus she exudes the worldliness of street life.

Upcoming ICHBA Events

DSC_0407(Adriana La Cerva, ICHBA foster dog)

I Could Have Been Adopted (ICHBA) has two events planned that I wanted to share with everybody. Next weekend, Donna, Meadow, Sara, Floyd, The Magic 8, and I are going to Camp T.A.G. (Teaching About Grief), which is a 4-day, 3-night grief camp for children between the ages of seven and sixteen who have lost a loved one. During their time at camp, grief counselors teach children how to deal with their feelings during the grieving process. And word on the street is that dogs can play a miraculous role in this process, so we are very excited to participate.

Our second event is our annual fundraising event, which is the “5K Run/Walk for the Cause” in Springfield, TN happening on Sept. 13th starting at 8:30 AM, so if anyone out there happens to be in the area that weekend, please come and join us. Click here for the entry form and details.

Nashville’s Sexual Assault Center 2014 Walk in their Shoes 5K

On Saturday, May 3rd my friend Nancy and I took Meadow, Sara, and Floyd for a 5K walk, benefiting the Nashville Sexual Assault Center. I’m a Penn State graduate and as ashamed of my alma mater’s sports program as anyone who has read the Freeh Report would be. It’s important for me to give back however I can, and when my local PSU alumni association invited me to join them on the walk, I jumped at the opportunity.

The 5K Walk in their Shoes event was both happy and sad. There were booths sponsored by an eclectic bunch, ranging from a Harley-Davidson motorcycle club to a Hispanic radio station, plus hospitality tables offering water, apples, and bananas for everybody. A band with a lead singer tapping a tambourine played on the steps and participants wore teal and purple tutus, stockings, leg warmers, and hats.

But behind it all, hanging from one end of the Sexual Assault Center to the other, was a row of t-shirts attached to a clothesline with messages so graphic and full of rage that it seemed like the inanimate cotton clothes were actual voices screaming about the injustice of what had happened to them.

The words and drawings caused tears to spring to my eyes as soon as I realized what the messages meant, and everyone around me seemed to be having the same emotional reaction. There was a naked female figurine with underwear around the knees and red smears between the legs, a colorful but crude child’s drawing of a heart next to the words “you raped me,” a photograph of a gigantic mastiff-looking mutt with the warning “rapist-eating dog,” a lot of mentions of “Daddy” and “Mom,” and “betrayal,” and “blood,” and “lies,” all really hard stuff to digest. But,  as I made my way down the clothesline, my feelings about those t-shirts morphed from grief to amazement. Those declarations were so f-ing honest that their bravery deserves recognition. To read more about the Nashville Sexual Assault Center, click here.

Do you know what really made it all worth it? The dogs. Of course they did – those magical creatures that turn tears into laughter in less than a second. Watching people’s faces break out in smiles when they saw Nancy and I walking three well behaved and ADORABLE dogs made my heart sing. An autistic boy kept kissing their furry heads, a politician running for Davidson County District Attorney introduced himself  to the pups, and a few times Meadow and Sara (loving all the attention) showed off  and gave a posse of little girls wearing purple sunglasses high-five’s.

A whole gaggle of participants sporting PSU colors walked in the 5K, and I left the event feeling proud that so many alumni wanted to give voice to the people similar to the ones our university tried to hush. I also left believing more than ever that dogs have the power to heal hurt souls.