Hip + Hip = Hooray!
After the postponement of her first hip replacement appointment just before Christmas, Sable went in for a new left hip at 8 am on Friday, February 4, 2022. She was first on the surgery list that day, spent a quiet night Friday night, and left the animal hospital with us just after noon on Saturday, February 5.  The surgery went well, the new hip looked great on X-rays (as you can see HERE if you are interested -- then hit "back" to return to this page), and now we had to help her heal.  First order of the day was pain meds for a couple of weeks, as needed -- then a post-op exam by her surgeon, Dr. Lozier.  When she got home she still seemed a little woozy -- you may see that in her first photo upon arriving home, below -- but she exhibited an appetite, and went into the nearby kitchen by herself for a drink of water before her first hour was past.  She had a little beef stew for dinner, and licked the bowl clean.

Sable upon returning home from replacement of her left hip on February 5, 2022
The pain of surgery will be abating slowly for Sable, but just as with her right hip two and a half years before, she probably already notices that the eternal grating pain from moving her left hip is gone. For the first time in her life she has no bone spurs on either hip! She has some fur growing to do, though -- the back end will not look like the front end of Sable until early summer at least. Meantime, she rests on her memory foam bed in the living room, with some of her toys at the far edge of the bed to keep her company -- and us, of course. She will not be alone at any time, night or day, for at least the following couple of weeks.
Sable recovering nicely on Feb. 19, 2022, in the kitchen with a box of McDonald's chicken nuggest
Sable's recovery seems perhaps even faster than with her right hip replacement a couple of years ago -- neither hip hurts anymore and she's raring to go: A long walk, a trot upstairs -- but she can't have those until at least eight weeks, and preferably twelve weeks, after the left hip replacement operation -- it takes that long for the bone to grow into, and secure firmly, the new artificial hip. She may be bummed about that, but we make it up to her in various ways -- including a little box of her own McDonalds' Chicken McNuggets!
A month later -- water therapy returns!

On March 7, Sable was cleared by her surgeon to begin very gentle water exercise at Paws Aquatic.  Sable wanted to have more vigorous fun, but matched the activity level of her therapist, Halle, and the family friend who swims with her each week, Mike Sullivan.  Mike was present when we adopted her, so he's really part of the family.

Once in the water, and supported by a flotation coat (something she usually does not use), Sable started swimming with both her hind legs extending and pulling properly -- and, from her expression, we all could tell she was having a wonderful time!
She'll swim each Tuesday morning from now on but, as for the long walks she wants -- they can't start until April and climbing flights of stairs will wait until May.  Her new hips have ended her lifelong hip pain, and she's ready to get going!!  But the bone has to grow into the hip joint appliance before she can get too strenuous.

Here are a few photos from her first post-surgery swim on March 7, 2022...

And, here's a 20 MB video Jane took at the same swimming session as shown above in the slide show.  Here, Sable swims with Halle, her therapist, and demonstrates to us all just how well her new hip is performing -- in fact, both hips, since both have been replaced now.  With the bone spurs gone from both hips, she's feeling better than ever, even though she's only a month out of her latest hip replacement.  This video, taken at Paws Aquatic, lasts close to a minute.  Click the icon at right:  SABLE SWIMS AGAIN!

Sable was cleared for long walks on April 2nd. Free-will stair cllimbing coming in early May!
Sable has no trouble dislodging the baby gate that is intended to keep her away from the stairway.
Sable has no trouble dislodging the baby gate that is intended to keep her away from the stairway.

"No gate will hold me"

Sable believes she is way overdue being allowed to climb the stairs in our house by herself.  So, she has taken to fits of dislodging the baby gate that is intended to block her getting to our stairway.  We have a door on our stairway -- it's a 1900-built house, and the door was used to regulate heat flow from downstairs to upstairs -- and so far she has not been able to open the door.  But she feels she is READY to climb stairs and deserves to do so. 

This little tableau was shot on April 16, 2022, with a bit under a month to go before she'd been cleared for stairs by her surgeon.  We can't wait until she can climb them, and clearly she can't either!  Till then, she is on strike!

Sable's 14-week restriction, by her surgeon, against climbing stairways (fearing a slip or fall could undo the new hip), ended on Friday, May 13th. A lucky date for Sable...and we promised her the door at the base of the stairs would open, and she could freely go up and down, the following day.  First thing Saturday the 14th she ran to see if the door was open...it wasn't yet, and she retired to her bed, somewhat dejected. We wanted to wait to open it until Jane's "breakfast in bed" was served at 10 am. At that hour, and with Sable still out of sight of the door, Eric took the breakfast up to Jane, and then came down, got his camera, opened the door, and called Sable. She came in, saw the door open -- and, to her credit, looked at Eric to make certain she now could be allowed upstairs. He gave her a little push, and that's all she needed. In the accompanying photo, she was already way up the stairs, tail all aswish, before he could get the photo.  She stayed up there six hours, came down and went up again, and -- now convinced all her privileges had been restored -- spent some time downstairs after that also. Hurray for Stairs Day!

Sable hotfooting it up the stairs for the first time since early February
Sable hotfooting it up the stairs for the first time since early February
A first romp in the yard with two new hips -- on the Fourth of July!
Sable in yard with new hips
The wet Portland spring kept Sable in the house after she was given the go-ahead for normal activities, so it was not until early summer -- on the Fourth of July -- that the yard was dry enough to open up our patio and let Sable out into the yard. She loved it!
Sable bounds around the yard
In fact, she felt so great that she was bounding around the yard all afternoon. We caught her in mid-bound!
Sable looking through the fence
When she wasn't bounding around, she was enjoying the views through the fence. She'll be having more fun in the yard as the summer progresses!
But then...an unexpected setback
After she began swimming again, at Sable's final checkup and clearance months after her second hip replacement, she scraped the top of her right rear foot -- we treated the scrape with antibiotic ointment, but it did not seem to be improving, so we took her back to be examined by her surgeon.  He prescribed antibiotics, but the infection seemed to get worse.  At a subsequent examination he decided to do minor surgery on the foot to find what was wrong -- and that revealed that she had somehow picked up a "foxtail" in the wound. 

The doctor removed it, wrapped her foot, and it quickly improved.  But in the meantime, Sable's groomer had found a bump on her tail!  So we took her back in to be seen for that, and it turned out to be a sabaceous cyst halfway down the tail.  The doctor drained the cyst, let it heal for a couple of weeks, and then Sable went back in for one more minor surgery -- the removal of the cyst. 

That was around the first of September.  Then followed three more weeks with no swimming for Sable...but finally, on October 25, she was allowed back in the water, fully recovered from her three surgeries this year!

However, she looked a little motheaten -- it would be a few months before her coat would be fully regrown.  The left hip had largely regrown its fur since February, but the two minor operations left her with a shaved right rear leg and foot, a spot halfway down her tail with no fur, and two shaved front wrists! 

However, she felt better than ever, and was very joyful to be feeling better and more pain-free than she ever had in her life -- running and walking, swimming in the pool, and bounding around the back yard!  Here's a photo taken on the afternoon of October 23, in our yard, to illustrate . . .

Sable joyfully bounding in our back yard!
"I've never groomed a dog before that seemed to keep getting younger . . ."

That's what our groomer, Hailey, told us as December, 2022, began. Clearly two new hips have made a huge difference for our 7-1/2 year old German Shepherd!  Sable never let the pain show, but the bone spurs on both her hips led her to be a quieter dog than she would otherwise have been -- and actually, that's probably what led West Side German Shepherd Rescue, an experienced and caring rescue which has saved and adopted out many thousands of GSDs and really knows them, to mistakenly believe that she was a "smaller sized German Shepherd of at least two years of age" -- as they did, before we adopted her at what our veteran vet told us was "no more than one, if that."  (She was 51 pounds then, 2/3 of what her final weight rapidly became, and she was no longer "smaller sized" by then, either!)

Anyway, Jane says, if Sable had acted as bouncy and joyful when we adopted her as she does now, she might have been a real handful!  She really is more like a puppy now than she ever was then -- and that's not a bad thing for a dog of her age!

Sable seems to have found an art form she can enjoy
Sable caught folding a rug
We walked into the bathroom one evening and found Sable busy plying her new art in the semi-darkness and quickly took a picture. We've lightened it enough so you can see what we saw!
Sable, like many dogs who have discovered the comfort of a pillow, early-on learned how to fold up towels, rugs, and discarded clothing to make a pillow to lay her head on.  But just in the fall of 2022 we noticed that she was now doing something else, and more creative.  She was folding throw rugs into simple geometric shapes and just leaving them on the floor! And if we didn't unfold them and put them back, she'd leave them where they were without further modification -- but if and when we'd put them back where they belonged she'd be busy folding something new with them.  As you see, at left, we finally walked in on her doing this while we had a camera in our pocket, and got this tableau.  It has become quite clear that it is the simple shapes, and straight lines and angles, that appeal to her, rather than just heaping up a rug randomly.

The Oregon Zoo here in Portland, Oregon, has elephants that create abstract paintings with paintbrushes held in their trunks (which are sometimes sold to the public in the Zoo store) -- and now, it appears, German Shepherds can create and appreciate art too! 

Below are more interesting shapes Sable created from that same bathroom throw rug. She even once reproduced one particular fold design -- in the same design -- right after we unfolded it and put it back by the tub! And all of them seem to be created in just two or three deft movements; they are not rumpled, they are FOLDED.

The one on the top left below, which folds an arrangement of two rugs, is the one she painstakingly reproduced almost exactly the same way just after we put the two rugs back where they belonged the first time. We think that if you study both of these -- the lines, angles -- you would have to agree something pleasingly artistic was repeatedly being done here.  By a German Shepherd.

Two-rug folding arrangement
folded rug
A three dimensional design
The design at the left looks totally different from a different angle
Blurry, since it was shot in darkness, but the design is clear -- and dramatic!
Sable wants to be your Valentine!
Here's some more O-RUG-AMI, done by Sable in the first half of January, 2023

After a major burst of creativity at the end of 2022, Sable switched to periodic bursts of O-RUG-AMI, but she's still at it.  She has repeated one or two of her designs, perhaps seeking to improve on it, but most are different from each other.  Her technique is the same -- she creates the work with three or five deft motions, and then walks away leaving her finished artwork.  We are still taking pictures of them, and you may see a second gallery of them one of these days!

The next page starts with the celebration of Sable's having completed eigfht years of weekly swims at the Paws Aquatic indoor pool, mostly with her therapist Halle, and starting her ninth year -- on the Fourth of July, 2023!