Charlie Update

Charlie has had a very difficult two months.  He was improving after his back surgery in December, but right after Christmas he had a setback.  He spent most of a week at the vet’s office, and on New Year’s Day we were on the road with him to Texas A&M University Veterinary school for an MRI.  The MRI revealed a cyst of some kind on his spinal cord (actually in the membrane around the cord).

After a few weeks of continued physical therapy and consultations with doctors, we determined that he wouldn’t get better without surgery to remove the cyst.  So we took him back to A&M on the 20th, and he had surgery on the 21st.  The surgery lasted about six hours.  Surprisingly, Charlie was awake and alert the next morning, hungry and in good spirits.  Debra went to see him over the weekend, and Charlie started physical therapy on Monday of this week.

Jennie, the 4th year veterinary student who is his primary caregiver took this video of Charlie walking on the underwater treadmill on Tuesday—just six days after his surgery.

They had to put the treadmill on incline because the day before, Charlie was holding his legs up letting his back end float while he padded along on his front feet.  With the treadmill on incline, he can’t cheat.

We went over to pick Charlie up this afternoon and bring him home for the weekend.  He’s apparently been somewhat homesick or something–not wanting to be there.  We’ll keep him here for the weekend and then I’ll take him back on Monday morning for another week of therapy.  After that, if he continues to improve, we’ll likely bring him home and continue the therapy locally.

Ever the charmer, Charlie has endeared himself to everybody at the hospital.  Especially Jennie, shown here with her favorite patient.


Charlie has lost a lot of muscle mass in the back, what with being immobile for most of 8 weeks.  He’s shaped like a lightbulb.  He can’t yet stand on his own, but his legs are already much stronger now than they were when we took him in for surgery.  It’s going to take a while and he might not regain full function, but I expect he’ll at least be able to walk again.

I can’t say enough good things about the staff at Texas A&M’s Veterinary school.  They’ve been incredibly helpful and, most important, up front and honest about the risks of surgery and about Charlie’s chances for recovery.  They’ve also given Charlie very good care and seem to be very personally involved with his treatment.  If I ever have another pet who has a condition that my normal veterinarian can’t handle, I’ll go directly to A&M or to the nearest major university vet school if I move away from here.

Holiday Carvings

I was a busy little carver in December.  I had foolishly committed to making gifts for my family.  I ended up making four more pinecones for my mom and each of my sisters, a “Frosty” refrigerator magnet for my brother, and four other snowman magnets for my nieces and nephews.  I also created a Santa tree ornament for a friend of ours.


The pinecone and the two magnets are approximately three inches tall.  The Santa ornament is six inches tall, and about an inch in diameter.

I’m pretty happy with my progress with the carving, but my painting needs some work.  It turns out that there’s more to painting than just slopping some color onto the wood.  Fortunately, the paint doesn’t look quite so bad in normal light.  The flash is particularly unfriendly.

My painting improved quite a bit when I mounted Debra’s lighted magnifier (that she uses for intricate cross stitch work) at my workstation.  It’s amazing how much better I can see things with adequate lighting and a little magnification.



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