Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Molly's humans' View of Pain and Suffering

(Molly is temporarily unavailable for comment, so we, her humans, have stepped in to tell you what's been happening.)

We have a dog. A marvellous, magnificent, one of a kind dog. Her name is Molly. But you know that. 

What you may not know is that she has been in pain since we got her 2 years ago. We didn't know. Until about 6 months ago, we were unaware of the constant suffering she was in. As her behaviour started to change from one of bouncy joy to periodically mellow recalcitrance, a trip to the vet (or Molly's personal physician) confirmed that she had problems with her spine and hip - although which and what were not specified. A protracted period of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and other painkillers, including a course of natural joint remedies eased the pain, but not the symptoms. 

On Tuesday last week we took her for a consultation to a specialist surgical veterinary practice, Dick White's Referrals, in Newmarket* where she had x-rays and an MRI which confirmed she had a slipped disc where the hips and spine join. This was putting pressure on her spine and hip joints as well as trapping nerves, causing her tremendous pain. It also appears that she may have a congenitally deformed spine - there are all sorts of reasons - which had been steadily worsening over time. 

The only real option was surgical. So, on Thursday, she went under the knife to have the problem remedied as far as was possible. 

The results are fantastic! She has gone through the sickness and diarrhoea phases, has been eating properly again and is responding brilliantly to physiotherapy. So much so, that now that her scars have healed and there is no infection, she can come home. 

On Thursday, the 25th June 2015, the Moo-sized hole in our living room will be replaced by a recuperating Molly. We are ecstatic.

Thank you to everyone who has been so fabulously supportive. It is very clear that Molly is a firm favourite with many people - this now includes everyone who has dealt with her at Dick White's Referrals, too - and that her story has been followed with concern and applause. We are supremely grateful and Molly would be extremely upset if I didn't pass on her waggy tailed appreciation. 

We will allow Moo to detail her own recovery, in her own way, over the coming months. It's going to be hard, we know, but we also know that she'll be back to herself and then some soon. 

Love and waggy licking to you all. 

*- a place where there many people, most of them like humans only much, much smaller.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Niggle That Wasn't

Molly's eye view

A long time ago, where I was before was a bit "not nice." I was very thin and had some "issues." I don't really remember it, but it was a bit painful and I had to go somewhere else. That's when I was with lots of other dogs in a big house that Paul O'Grady goes to sometimes. They were very nice but it was all a bit noisy and full.

2 years ago, my humans came to see me and brought me home and let me sleep and gave me cuddles. They got me toys and let me sleep on a soft floor that wasn't a floor; "Bed" they call it. Sometimes I go to it for sleeping and sometimes I go to it because they're going to go away for a little while and sometimes I go to it because they tell me to - that's when I've made the cat cry or put my nose on the table in the kitchen. It doesn't happen much.

I like to run. That's good because my humans like me to. They throw the ball and I steal other dogs' toys and run with them while they chase me and I chase them and we laugh and shout at each other. But I can't do it for very long. Actually, at first it wasn't too bad. It was great fun to be out in the fields and in the trees running and bouncing. There are so many overs to run. Many overs.

And then I got to play with the big humans in their bright orange jackets. They gave me a uniform and when I wear my jacket and my Mars Human says "Go find!" I look for another human who you can't see. And when I find them I get PATE! or CHICKEN! It's awesome. I am, too. I like searching.

But sometimes I need to stop. Just sit down. Because it hurts. It started a long time ago, maybe before I met my humans. But since the party time with all the presents and carols and turkey and the trips in the car to see the Norfolk and Northern humans and their dogs, going on long walks has been a bit hard. Some days I felt great and could run and run and run. But there were days when I just didn't feel right. I didn't feel hungry and it hurt to run much. I stopped playing with my friends on Hilly Fields and at Honor Oak Rec. I couldn't really run up One Tree Hill or chase the squirrels.

That's when my humans took me to the clean and smelly place. I only go there once a year so the nice man in the Hawaiian Shirt can look at me and say things that make my humans go all smiley and cuddly. Only this time I was a bit sore. And when the nice man pushed my hips and my shoulders I told him that was wrong and I didn't like it. I'd never seen a human run away from me that fast!!!!! But he came back and did it again, only this time my Mars Human was there and he held my head and told me nice noises. And I told Hawaiian Shirt to get off, but it was better this time because I wasn't on my own. And I got CHICKEN! I really, really, like CHICKEN!

Then my humans were all cuddly again, but they weren't smiley. And my Claud Human and my Mars Human looked at each other like they do when the brown letters come in the post when they gave the lady behind the desk a piece of plastic and made a machine go beep beep beep beep. And then they had boxes that rattled; lots of them.

And then I got treats! Lots and lots of treats. They tasted a bit funny at first but they were much better after a little while. And every time I had food, my humans opened all the boxes and made treats with what was in them. I would feel sleepy then. But the pain wasn't as bad so I could lie down and not be sore.

When I went back to see Hawaiian Shirt, he made it all go dark. I don't know how long for, but I was very floppy for a while. My humans kept laughing and I tried to laugh, too, but I was too floppy and they laughed even more. So sometimes I would go floppy to make them laugh. I like it when my humans are laughing.

But then my humans came back with even more boxes and I got even more treats!!!!! And the pain wasn't there, so I ran and jumped and played. But I still couldn't do it very much. Because sometimes the pain would come back. So I would stop if it was too much. And my humans would scratch my ears and cuddle me and we would walk slowly back to home field and I would have food and treats and a little playtime and then sleep.

I don't like stopping. I like playing and running and chasing and catching. But I can't do it very well because I get sore. And sometimes I can't lie down and find soft places that make me not hurt.

We went to see Hawaiian Shirt again today. I was a bit grumbly because, even with all the treats, there is still quite a lot of pain in my hip and my back. I don't want the pain any more. It's what I've had every day for a long time, but I don't want it any more.

I wonder how I can make that happen.

Mars' View

It appears that our beautiful, spectacular, calm, gentle Molly has been in a lot of pain, pretty much since we got her from Battersea 2 years ago; which makes her unbelievably calm, trusting and gentle demeanour all the more incredible. The pain is centred on her back and left hip and x-rays have now shown that she has "moderate" hip displaysia and was suffering a swelling on her spine. After a very successful course of pain management, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories we're going to see a specialist, recommended by our vet, to discuss whether or not it would be right for Molly to receive a hip replacement. In our desperately passionate, utterly unbiased, loving, "considered" opinion we just want her to be pain free and active, just as a young (4 year old) rottweiler should be. A hip replacement should give her exactly that.

We'll see the specialist as soon as possible and should be able to update in the very near future.

The thing is, where Molly or Slim are concerned, Claudia and I are JCBs. We will genuinely move mountains.

As will all our family and friends. Thank you for your support. I'll keep you updated.

More power to the Moo!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Letting the train take the strain
(Or how NOT to terrify people with a Rottweiler on public transport)
by Marston York and Molly

Monday’s are funny days, really. You’ve had a weekend to relax and recover from the previous week. Ideally you’ll have slept, fed, succumbed to a pleasant degree of inertia with sporadic forays into “activity” depending on family and canine requirements and gone to bed in the certain knowledge that tomorrow’s just another day, only with work in it! It’s almost a utopian view, that. But I’ll use it in the same way financial institutions, businesses and governments stipulate 2.4 kids per family, or something.

So, Monday morning, I set off for a stroll with Molly, our 3 year old Rottweiler. There was nothing extraordinary about it. A little bit of road work, seeing and weeing (or “replying all” to pee-mail as it’s known locally) and then up to the park for wandering, running, sniffing, seeking and generally having a good morning run. Molly likes doing that, too.

Returning home, I discovered that the jangle in my pocket when I patted it as I left the house, was not my keys, but 2 low denomination coins. Ah, I thought. It’s alright, we have a number of spares about the place, I’ll get on the phone. I quickly discovered that the closest set was currently secreted in my sister in law’s handbag in an office near Waterloo Station, in London.

And with everyone I knew either at work or on holiday and too far away to look after our gorgeous dog, there was only one thing for it. Molly would have to take the train!

Far from being a panicked moment of hysteria or horror, this suddenly seemed perfect. The weather was lovely, we’d missed the commuter traffic and my wife and I had been talking about taking Molly on public transport for a while. The difficulty, as we saw it, was not that we would be going on trains and buses with a dog, but rather our fear of the reactions of other passengers when presented with a Rottweiler as a travelling companion.

Molly is VERY friendly. She’s a smiling, happy, tongue-lolling gem. To us. To some others she is a huge, terrifying, snarling, slavering hell-hound dog like the ones they read about in the papers that eat families whole and destroy small cities!  (I’m not belittling the horrific injuries that have been inflicted on people by some dogs in certain circumstances and environments in any way, it’s just that I believe there is too much hysteria about certain breeds).  So taking her on the train into central London was going to be an adventure.
When people meet Molly they are often very nervous. She is a big dog and Rottweilers do have a reputation. The most dangerous thing about Molly is her tail. It’s the perfect coffee table clearing implement and has been known to lay low the unaware from toddlers to small trees! However, a couple of minutes in her company is normally all anyone requires to allay their fears. And so it was on the way to London Bridge. She was excited and interested but perfectly behaved, remaining close to me and staying very settled despite the numbers of people, the noises, the smells, the sights and, most importantly, the enormous trains! Ears pricked, tail up she was very alert and very inquisitive. No bad thing. But other than one errant lick of a stranger’s hand - HE apologised, which I thought was not only very polite but very English, too – she startled no one.

It was the same when we crossed the bridge at London Bridge to get to the Waterloo East platform. She stayed alert but didn’t try to rush off, bark or growl at anyone or anything. It was only while waiting for the train to Charing Cross that that I suddenly thought, “what if she pees? Oh god, what if that’s not all she does?” Well, that’s what poo-bags and apologies are for. We’d even just invested in wet wipes, so all was well. As it was I needn’t have worried.

The adventure was just getting better, both for Molly and for me. There were even more people on the train to Charing Cross and she sat, nearly relaxed, on my feet while I stood at the door. More licking; more appreciative looks; more nervousness wiped clear by a wagging tail and a happily lolling tongue. I could not have been prouder – or so I thought.

Waterloo was full of people and there were even more distractions from announcements, food stalls, coffee stands, rushing commuters. Having made that trip so many times for work, I was seeing it in a totally different light. This was excitement and intrigue, new smells, new friends to make; so much to take in. And through it all she stayed right next to me, nearly to heel but barely tugging on the leash. Both of us, I suppose, offering comfort and control to each other.

Once outside we had a quick walk to the South Bank to collect my sister in law’s keys (absolute life saver, she is!) and that was when it was decided that not only was this going to be a train adventure, it was also going to be a sightseeing one. And we took in every sight possible from the National Theatre to London Bridge station along the river side.

Everywhere we went there were hordes of tourists and workers taking breaks or rushing to meetings. Molly was entranced by the river – she’d seen the sea and some very large ponds and a lake, but never a river as big as the Thames – and she was very excited about seagulls and pigeons. That was really the only time she ever pulled on the lead. Even then, most people just laughed at the silly man trying to stop his dog from chasing birds. And every one smiled at her. We got so many appreciative nods and smiling “hellos” from random strangers. One person even asked “is that a real Rottweiler, it’s so calm and happy?” As an example of her breed, she’s, well, she’s just one of her breed. But we think she’s lovely!

Just as an aside, following another headline about a dog attack in the papers, I asked a few of the people I regularly meet when walking Molly, if they knew of anyone who had a badly behaved Rottweiler. No one did. Now, I know there are some. But there are probably fewer bad ones than any other breed of dog, specifically because there are those who are so frightened of them, their owners intend for them to be the best behaved dogs in the park.

Tourist Molly appeared to be having a whale of a time, from posing outside the Globe Theatre to standing guard outside Nandos near Borough Market.   But the unstoppable Moo was getting tired. She even lay down at my feet when I bought my ticket, despite the squeaky trolleys and clanking from trains on the various platforms at London bridge.

Molly’s return was as uneventful as you could possibly imagine. A practically empty train and a 5-seat all to ourselves. Well, she is a Rottweiler!

When we arrived at our stop, I discovered yet another advantage to taking a Rottweiler on public transport. You know that moment when you try to get off a train but some self-centred numpty decides to get on first? Yeah, that doesn’t happen when you’ve a Rotty by your side! All Molly did was sit and wait until I told her to move. I could have kissed her.

And as a result, I wrote this. For all my fears about other peoples’ perceptions of my dog, the hard work, consistency of training, love and affection that my wife and I have given Molly has not only paid off, but been returned ten-fold. I could not be prouder of my Rottweiler. And for a rescue dog with a bad start, this is a fantastic result.

And what an adventure! Next stop? Well, who knows… Search And Rescue could well be on the cards.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Stormy Weather - It's a no brainer

This is Molly's blog. Molly is a rottweiler who joined us from Battersea Dog's Home in March 2013. Having had a tough start in life, she's blossomed into one of the 7 great dogs (ref: Dean Spanley - a must see film for doggy people.) She's gorgeous. I wondered what it might be like to see life through her eyes and write about her experiences from a human perspective. It may or may not work. There's only one way to find out. 


When the Gods go bowling, a walk is not a good thing. (It's the only time!)

Sometimes, lying on my back, my legs stretched out, the peace and calm of the world lying on my belly with the soft sweep of my humans' hands, my thoughts drift to another place. I don't know where it is, but it smells good. It sounds good, too, mingled with the warm, gentle sounds coming from my humans. That's a good place.

A lot better than outside in the thunder and the rain and the lightning that drove even the cats into hiding and foxes underground and the birds into the trees and the squirrels into their secret holes. Yeah, thanks a lot to the big human who got me all excited about going for a walk, grabbed my bag, filled it with treats and pooh-bags, got me to sit for a collar and a lead - and hey, those are excited farts, not toxic ones! - and then led me out into a darkening morning. We hadn't even completed one over before the rain came. And it came hard. He was alright, huddled into his waterproof skin.  And that's something, where's mine? It's all very well getting me out and about for excitement and exercise and smells and playing and running and jumping and meeting new dogs and old dogs and friends and strangers and wheels and boxes and bags and leaves and earth and grass and the like, but where's my removable waterproof skin?

Just at the top of the hill, about as far as we were going to go, the sky got really big and wet. And then it burst. I mean it. The sky literally burst. I thought I was wet on the way up the hill but what happened on that hill was just wrong! The ground wasn't hard any more it was moving. Racing away down the hill. My human was laughing in that weird kind of this is fun when it isn't sort of way. And that weird air hand was pulling at my ears and my mouth and my tail, pushing me this way and that. The leaves in the trees looked like they were one piece of tree, catching in the air, moving like a sheet on the washing line. And then the noise. Now I'm not really frightened of anything, although wheels on wheely-bags are the work of the devil, but that noise from the sky was like a thousand heavy balls hitting a wooden floor all at once, cracking the clouds with their laughter. I could feel my fur tingling as it was plucked at by the air.

Yeah, we'd had enough. I pulled him, he pulled me. We were home. On a towel! Under a towel! Biting the towel! Throwing the towel in the air! Catching it, biting it, swinging it, growling at it, barking at it. And it still got me dry, sucking all the water off my back and legs and leaving me tingly and bouncy and soft and shiny.

And then food. I like food.

And then sleep. I like sleep. Especially lying on my back with my legs stretched out and my mouth open and my tongue hanging out and my humans' hands sweeping softly on my belly. I am at peace.

Hey, maybe this walking in the storm thing isn't so bad after all.

Life. It's much easier than humans let you believe. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

And So It Begins

This is Molly's blog. Molly is a rottweiler who joined us from Battersea Dog's Home in March 2013. Having had a tough start in life, she's blossomed into one of the 7 great dogs (ref: Dean Spanley - a must see film for doggy people.) She's gorgeous. I wondered what it might be like to see life through her eyes and write about her experiences from a human perspective. It may or may not work. There's only one way to find out. 


It's funny when you first wake up, stretch, sniff, scratch, stretch again, offer yourself for a cuddle and a scrabble. It just seems to get the juices flowing. Sometimes literally, that's when it's good that the back door's open. It's also easy access to squirrels, pigeons and foxes. 

That unseen hand that ruffles the tops of trees, now that's something I'd like to get my teeth into. But I'm always just that little bit late; always just slipping through at the last minute. Almost like it's not quite there. Makes a heck of a lot of noise, though!

This morning's gallop to the back of the garden resulted in a cloud of pigeon feathers and the frantic scrabbling of at least 2 rodents with bushy tails as they hurtled their way up the big tree at the end. If they weren't squirrels they'd be chicken! Arf!

Main topic of chat round the breakfast table was alcohol. Usually that's just my humans grumbling about how it made them not feel right. But that's HOURS after they finished wobbling around the living room, singing, or slouching on the table in the kitchen. There's also that fumbled scrabble of my ears and the too-loud murmurings of affection. Still, it's better than being shut away like that grumbling old cat. Although he seems happy enough. I'll never understand cats. Spiky little furballs! I nearly got him when my boyfriend, Harvey, popped over while taking his human for a walk. Dog, can that cat scratch and jump. Like some mental ninja! My big human, Mars, got me just before I could properly introduce myself - like I've been trying to for 18 months! Then he grumbled about some carpet burn on his knee. I heard my other human, Claudia, say "Big Girl's Blouse". That made me laugh. But I don't know what it means. 

Anyway, alcohol was what everyone was talking about on the news. Grumbling about telling people about sugar content and units and how it's really just a new ploy to get women to stop drinking because it makes them fat. Nothing about the blokes and their run-stopping bellies. And nothing about how it makes you stupid and heavy-handed and unbalanced and loud and smelly and shouty, confusing charm for volume and being way too brave. Normally when that happens I just go and lie in another room and let them get on with it. Much more fun. Especially after long walks. 

Walks are good. I like walks. I like reliving them. That's almost as much fun as being on them. Remembering the smell of the earth and taste of the grass and feel of the water on my paws and the mud in my claws and the air with its unseen hand flapping my ears and tugging at my face when I run; all the sounds, the birds singing, the people talking, other dogs talking and shouting and laughing and grumbling and passing on the news. 

I've got a motto: If you can't eat it or play with it, piss on it and walk away. 

Life. It's much easier than humans let you believe.