One Good Apple

Guess where I went today.

Probably not that surprising.

This is one of Calgary’s many Petland locations.  And I went to confirm some rumours I’d been hearing.

And I probably don’t need to tell you that I haven’t been inside of Petland, well, since that last time.

I first sensed the light breeze of the Winds of Change when I came across this ad in advance of the weekend:

Since Petland actually does sometimes use the word “adopt” to refer to retail pet sales, I was pretty cynical when I saw it.  And I was even more cynical on Saturday when I was told Action Speak Louder (Calgary)’s favourite two-time television debate opponent, Robert Church, was on the radio, live on location, promoting the adopt-a-thon.

But then a complete stranger shared an interesting observation on Twitter yesterday, and I decided I had to go for another field trip.

I mean, I have been waiting with bated breath for a response to my letter to Petland.  I really wanted at least one reply and based on their history of having several staff members stop by the Soapbox and write openly, I was a little surprised and dejected when I didn’t get one.

And I refuse to accept that this note posted on Petland Canada’s Facebook page – posted for all 323 Facebook fans of theirs to read – is my response.  Though it did come out one day following my letter so… who’s to say?  But it’s more of the same blanket reassurances as usual, without any actual proof, transparency, or specifics.  If it’s a reply, it’s not a very good one.

So based on that, and on Mr. Church’s vehement defences of Petland’s practices in the recent televised debates, I was skeptical; a Petland going adoption only?  In Calgary?  Can it be true?

I should note, it wouldn’t be the first time for Petland.  There is a Petland in Winnipeg that has served as a satellite adoption centre for the Winnipeg Humane Society for quite some time now.  And there are a couple of Petland locations in the U.S. that have also gone the way of PJ’s Pets, and opted for adoption only for dogs, cats, or both.

So this evening I stroll into the Coventry Hills Petland location unencumbered, a little surprised my face isn’t posted on a wall in the front, America’s-Most-Wanted-style.

And the first thing I notice?

There are no puppies.  None.

Several cats, but the windows that would house available puppies are dark and empty.

And near the kittens, it says this:

So I flagged down a Pet Counsellor and start asking questions.

And it turns out the rumours are true!  Which is great!

This Petland location will no longer be selling dogs and cats.  Instead, they will be partnering with local rescue organizations to house adoptable cats and bring in adoptable dogs on weekends during adopt-a-thons.

To clarify, currently, the cats are a mix of Petland cats and adoptable ones.  Evidently no other locations were able to take on the retail kittens, so they will be selling the ones they have left and going adoption only for cats after that.

The ad for last Saturday’s adopt-a-thon was for the first one they’d hosted and the partnering rescue for that weekend was the affiliated Pets for Life Foundation.  The Pet Counsellor informed me that they have canvassed “all of the local rescues”, naming both specifically the Calgary Humane Society and ARF (Alberta Rescue Foundation), and that it will be one of a number of local rescues bringing in adoptable animals any given weekend (have yet to get confirmation of this partnership from the rescues, however).

[Update, August 31, 2011:  ARF (Alberta Rescue Foundation) confirms they have, in fact, not been approached by Petland to participate in this program, and that they would not be interested in doing so in any event until all Petland Canada locations cease selling all dogs and cats.]

The Pet Counsellor was unable to confirm whether or not adoptions would be handled through Petland or through the rescue, being a little unfamiliar with the new process.  But she did tell me that this location is serving as a pilot for the other Calgary locations, to see how the process works, if it’s successful, and to work out the kinks before other locations also make the switch (if they do).

Personally, I’m stoked.  This is probably the best response to my letter I could get – them doing exactly what I have asked and only 11 days after the request!

(Not that I truly think my sad little letter spurred this change, but a gal can dream, right?)

I am admittedly confused, though.

I’m not complaining, but I am perplexed.  I mean, why go to such great lengths to defend Petland policies and practices, strongly asserting the belief that the retail sale of pets is doing the right thing for the right reasons, only to turn around and change policies for the better as requested?  It’s like the weird defence of financing pet purchases all over again.  Or why, even amongst all the advertising of the adopt-a-thon, is there no mention that the Coventry Hills location is now adoption only?  That’s huge news! … Isn’t it?

Oh well. I doubt I’ll ever get insight behind that, but it truly doesn’t matter.

What matters is that there is a Petland location here in Calgary that has made the ethical choice to go adoption only.

So what next?

Support them!

Check out the weekend adopt-a-thons.  Tell them how much you appreciate and respect this move!  If you’re a Petland shopper, instead of going to the Petland in your neighbourhood, drive a little further to the Coventry Hills one and give them your business!

Show them with the only thing that matters to a company – your dollars – that you are supportive and enthusiastic about this improvement.  Encourage them not to change back; it’s a pilot program, remember, and a Petland in Wheaton, Illinois attempted this model in 2010, only to change back 3 months later.

Support this Petland so that other locations will start do to the same.  Yes, one location is a big deal and a good step, and shows they’re willing to consider change, but there are seven more in this city (35 more across the country) I expect to follow suit.

One franchise, one city, one store location at a time – the pet industry is changing.  For the better.

(Though, the Grammar Nerd in me would like to point out that we’re in Canada and it should be Adoption “Centre”, but one battle at a time, right?)

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Dear Petland

To my dear friends at Petland Canada,

Did you watch the Calgary Now! debate on Shaw TV (Calgary) – channel 10?  If you missed it, it will air again on August 17 at 10:30pm and August 19 at 2:00pm.  If you forget to set the PVR or don’t get your television through Shaw, they will put it online after the last airing.

But I’m guessing you saw it.  You were there.  Well, Mr. Robert Church, owner of Petland Market Mall and a Director of PIJAC Canada, was there.

Also present were Patricia Cameron of the Calgary Humane Society and RJ Bailot, a Director of Pound Rescue, a local no-kill shelter.

And the topic?

Banning the sales of pets in stores, of course.

This is a very hot topic since Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) is pushing for this issue locally with the support of several rescue organizations and local businesses, and many other cities are implementing bans (e.g., Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX; Richmond, BC), and even more are currently considering bans themselves (e.g., Toronto; San Francisco).

There were a couple of things about the debate I wanted to specifically bring up.

Patricia Cameron says that Calgary Humane sees approximately 8,000 animals through their facility each year.  Nearby Cochrane Humane sees an additional 1,200 animals, and the City of Calgary Animal Services sees 5,000 animals annually.  And that does not include the several other local rescues – Pound Rescue included – that foster and re-home several hundreds more.  If you do the math, that’s upwards of 15,000 pets annually that go through these Calgary and area rescue organizations.

That is no insignificant number.

At 8 minutes into my PVR recording of the Calgary Now! debate, your representative Mr. Church says that, in order to tackle pet overpopulation, “all of the industry players should work together” and “we all want the best for our animals”.

I have no doubt about either point.  Based on our previous exchanges here at the Soapbox, I do believe you don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with selling dogs and cats in your stores.

But just because you believe it, doesn’t make it so.

Why are you, Petland, digging your feet in, drawing a line in the sand, and refusing to budge when it comes to pet sales?  Why can’t you go beyond “good enough”, go beyond placating customers and the general public, and actually try to do the absolute best for the pet population as a whole?

I’m not talking about you “sourcing your animals”, “guaranteeing them to the nines”, and always letting them be returned to your stores.

And I’m not talking about you releasing some breeder information in an attempt to convince the public that the problem is solved and the issue is dead.  At 10 minutes into the debate, Robert Church talks about Petland breeder inspections and making those results available to the public, which they haven’t done in the past.  And you know why?  “Because nobody has ever asked us before!” he says.

Really?!  I’ve been personally asking since our first debate here on the Soapbox in October 2010, and I know you know because many members of your executive team were here commenting and replying.  Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) has been asking as an official campaign for more transparency since its launch March 2011.

Not to mention releasing breeder inspection results in a form yet to be specified after several months of requests does actually not guarantee any real information, but it sure does sound good, doesn’t it?  And I happen to know this debate was taped in June; it is now August – where’s the info?

At 9 minutes into the debate, your representative says “you will not find your animals in a shelter”.  I am wary of these kinds of generalizations.  Not?  Ever?  Really?

I follow Pound Rescue on Facebook and on July 10, 2011 they posted that they took in their second (un-altered) Petland surrender that week.  So yes, we do find pet store animals surrendered to rescues; some of your sales directly burden the rescue community.

And if you check Kijiji, there are dozens more people either giving away or re-selling their Petland pet purchases.  On August 8, I took a few minutes to see for myself, and made a slideshow of select Kijiji ads that you can view here.

RJ makes an excellent point, at 9-10 minutes in, when he says “the bottom line for a retail outlet is making profit off of a product, so when animals are merchandised as they would be a t-shirt or a pair of shoes, it puts different value than in a rescue organization.  Right now we see stores that use the word ‘adopt’, and really that’s misleading, because the term ‘adopt’ is to provide a home for an animal that is homeless, not to sell an animal – that’s a transaction”.

Robert Church defends pet store word choice: “I like to say ‘place’ an animal; we place animals in good homes.  It’s a little friendlier than ‘sell’, but it’s not the human term ‘adopt’, either.  Just sayin’.”

So I took to the trusty internet and captured some screen shots for your consideration.

No use of "adopt"? Hey, who's that handsome guy in the middle of the profile picture?

 

The Pets for a Lifetime contract itself refers to “…the pet that they are adopting from Petland…” in the second sentence.

 

Just sayin'.

Okay, last one. Nothing to do with "adopting", but you're seriously recommending a puppy as a Valentine's Day gift? No impulse purchases. Right...

When it came to discussing pet-related costs, including spay/neuter and unexpected veterinary bills, RJ brought up financing pet purchases, and your Petland representative Mr. Church said this (24 minutes in):

“Frankly, financing an animal is just another step in the whole process because these people are screened and you should be very careful about judging people who would finance an animal – I mean if you have a credit card you are financing things.  So passing judgment on somebody who chooses to pay for something this way, I mean these are people that have stable jobs, stable addresses, stable bank accounts, and the ability to obtain credit.  If these people can’t obtain credit, then maybe they’re not the best pet owners anyways.  But if they do qualify for credit, I don’t know how you can judge a person that way and I find that quite discriminatory and a little offensive. … It gives them extra time to think about it, frankly, because the process takes at least a couple hours, and usually a few hours.  And, just so you understand, my store, the Petland in Market Mall, was the only store that offered financing and we pulled it, number one, because nobody was financing animals anyway, and number two, because there was little bit of a kerschmeezle [phonetic] about it with the animal rights people, and so I just pulled it, you know, it wasn’t worth the hassle.”

Pay for your bulldog puppy over 36 months O.A.C. (Ad from a PJ's Pets in Edmonton, 2 months ago)

Obviously Mr. Church doesn’t see himself on the same side as “the animal rights people”, despite going into a long defence of something he stopped doing anyway because, really, if there’s anything I’ve learned about discussing a pet sale ban with the average Calgarian, it’s that, regardless of your overall opinion on the issue, most people can see there is something inherently wrong with financing pet purchases.

Does that result in judging customers’ financial means?  No.  If you want to pay for your dinner with a credit card, finance your new car or television, by all means, do that.  Those things are products.  You yourself agreed earlier in the debate, “puppies are not products” – so why treat them like they are?  And what do you do if someone defaults on payment?  Repo a Yorkshire Terrier-type?

The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”  

(Jeremy Bentham (English philosopher), An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 2nd ed., 1823, chapter 17, footnote 122)

But let me go back to my original request, where I ask you, Petland, not to simply do what is good enough.  Not to patronize me, Actions Speak Louder (Calgary), or the public.  But to do your best.  Because if you as a corporation, and your staff as pet lovers, really care that much about companion animals as your advertising lets on, you can do better.

Take, for example, the two other large Canadian pet store chains, Pets Unlimited and PJ’s Pets.  As of June 1, 2011, Pets Unlimited no longer had any puppies for sale in any of its 18 locations.  And just today PJ’s Pets announced they will do the same as of September 1, 2011.

PJ's Pets and Pets Unlimited have 41 locations across Canada. I both commend and thank them for their recent decision. I look forward to a similar policy change with respect to cats/kittens (you're not done yet, guys) and I anxiously wait for other pet retailers to follow suit.

This, I think, is fantastic.  And a real step in the right direction.  These companies are being proactive rather than reactive.

Because instead of selling puppies for profit, Pets Unlimited and PJ’s Pets are collaborating with local rescue organizations.  In Alberta, Paradise Pets in St. Albert has also adopted this very policy, announcing they “do not want to encourage any type of animal mill that is motivated by how much money they can make selling to pet stores.”

And I do not find it unreasonable to expect the same from Petland.

With this improvement, the focus of PJ’s and Pets Unlimited is “to support pet adoption services in an effort to find homes for thousands of pets in local SPCA’s, Humane Societies, rescue groups and shelters across the country.”

The mission of the Every Pet Deserves a Home campaign – that both PJ’s and Pets Unlimited are a part of –  is “to help increase the visibility of pet adoption agencies within the community by offering them the opportunity, within our stores, to educate the general public about their organization and the pets they have available for adoption.”

Isn’t that really the best of both worlds?

I mean, no one is going to a pet store looking for a specific purebred dog.  And if they are, they are severely mistaken, because you and I both know that Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registered breeders are prohibited from selling to retail stores.  So you still have your arbitrary mixes and purebred types (plenty of both in local shelters) for people to see, but instead of sourcing them for breeders who breed pets to supply your store and for profit, people instead adopt their next dog through a local rescue.

It is win-win.

Rescues get more exposure, and with that, adoption rates will increase and euthanasia will decrease; the pet community undoubtedly benefits.  There will be no more risk that pet store puppies come from mills or backyard breeders.  Meanwhile, customers can still go to the store to play with puppies.  And instead of impulse pet purchases, those interested in adopting will have to go through a thorough adoption application implemented by the rescue organization.

Not to mention, animals being adopted through rescues are almost always spayed/neutered prior to adoption, which is a crucial part of pet population control according to Patricia Cameron and not something you can currently say about the animals now leaving your care, despite your best guesses or promises for post-altering rebates.

With an adoption model, you will even save money in animal care costs, since the animals are still under the care of the rescue organization.  You will retain the marketing advantage of having cute puppies and kittens at your locations, with the added bonus of now being able to honestly say you’re doing the absolute best you can for Calgary’s (and Canada’s) pet population.  You will even gain a new customer base: all those people who currently refuse to shop at Petland because you sell animals – myself included.

“We applaud what PJ’s Pets and Pets Unlimited are doing in giving up puppy sales to help organizations like ours find homes for more pets,” said Kristin Williams, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia SPCA. “Far too many animals are without a home, but this program will help to alleviate the burden and add vital capacity to our network of Branches. Collaboration is critical to resolving welfare issues and saving more lives and this is a remarkable example of what can be achieved by working together.

Collaboration.  Working together.  Wasn’t that exactly what Robert Church talked about at the outset of the debate?

In short, why not strive for remarkable, Petland?  Why defend old, questionable practices and risk extinction rather than evolve with the industry?

I thank you for reading and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours most sincerely,

Jen

To read more about RJ’s support for the initiative to ban retail pet sales, please see his post on the Pound Rescue website, Why I Support Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) – it’s worth the read.

A Second Time for First Steps

It has been 15 days since Moses’ surgery.

He went in yesterday to get the stitches removed, and we must be doing our homework well because the big guy can walk again!

Back on all fours

In fact, Moses can get up, sit, and walk around (short distances) unassisted!

Granted, he’s still a bit wobbly, and he’s not able to get up the ramp without support yet, but I don’t suspect that will take too long.  He can make it to the first landing unaided, but the other part is a bit steep yet and help is required.

Ramp 2.0 when it was still under construction. What's a job site without Tim Horton's?

So this is the part where we follow the post-op instructions to a T.  I’ve greatly missed walks with Moses, but no matter how well he’s doing, those are not to begin until the end of September.  And even then, only for 5 minutes to start.  But that’s okay – it’s for his benefit so I will try to be patient (not my strongest virtue).

The Husband and I have been thrilled with Moses and his progress the past couple of days, and I wanted to share, so check out the video of the big guy that I took today at lunch.

As you can see, he’s not particularly sturdy, but this is really only the second day he’s been getting up and walking around to that extent.

The currency that has him so intrigued and motivated?  Whole wheat hamburger bun.  Seriously.  Can’t explain it, but he does love his carbs.  At $2.99/dozen, I have no complaints.  And on an otherwise raw diet, I’m not concerned about the grains.

(The sock is there because Moses can’t be trusted to leave his paw where the IV was alone when unsupervised and he has been aggravating the area.)

 

Sorry, couldn’t help myself with the song – Moses is shufflin’ once again!

Ha!

And thank you very much to all for the kind words and support throughout this whole Cyst Saga.  It really does mean a lot.

My 7 Links: Blog Introspection

Kristine, over at Rescued Insanity, passed her curse on to me.

I kid, of course.  When I first read a My 7 Links post at No Dog About It, I thought it was a great idea.  It makes bloggers think about their own work, and is a great way to get highlights from blogs you haven’t always followed or had time to dig through the archives of.

For example, I’d likely never otherwise find Kristine’s post, Modern Day Dragons, about the $20 bounty Nova Scotia’s provincial government has placed on coyote pelts as a (uninformed) method of population control.  I definitely don’t remember that making the news out here when it happened in October 2010, and is just another example of uneducated, reactionary legislation; it reminds me of BSL.

My 7 Links was spearheaded by Tripbase Blog as a way to unite bloggers, resurrect old and dear posts, and share lessons learned, though 7 links, one in each category.

Since Kristine nominated me, I will forge ahead without further ado.

1.  Most Beautiful Post

The winning post here is completely unrelated to dogs.  In May I found myself at our nation’s capital and fancied myself a photo-tourist, and shared some of my favourite shots as a Wordless Wednesday edition.

When I started blogging (still less than a year ago) my posts were admittedly word-heavy. More like long articles, less like punchy blog posts, and had few pictures to dazzle the eye.  I have since been working on including more photos and fewer suffocating details.

An Ottawa photo from the Memorial Chamber I didn't share in the original post.

2.  Most Popular Post

I let WordPress determine this one for me.  Aside from my home page and based on hits, my Letter to Mayor Nenshi and Calgary’s City Council is by far my most popular post.  In it, I ask the city to enact a bylaw similar to that of Richmond, B.C.’s and several American cities, banning the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores.  It attracted the attention of both animal welfare advocates and corporate Petland.

3.  Most Controversial Post

I was going to fudge this one and pick another pet sale ban post, but I can’t do it.  Yes, that discussion is controversial, but it’s not the “most” controversial, and I can’t bring myself to lie even if it will lead to backlash.  My most controversial post is, by far, In Defence of Cesar.

At the risk of being harshly judged and losing some blogging friends, I will sum up that post like this:  I do not hate Cesar Millan and I go so far as to identify some positive consequences of his fame.  The post sparked a heated debate and a link to it travelled around online to people who had very harsh words for it – and me personally.  “Debate” might even be too favourable a term, because reason left the forum early on in the comments.

I learned (at least) two lessons from that post:

1.  One controversy at a time.  I had the Cesar talk and the pet sale debate with Petland going on at the same time and it was draining and frustrating – especially since I think responding to reader comments is important.  However, too little rational discussion and I stop replying, which ended up being the case with the Cesar topic.

2.  Too early.  I’d been blogging for less than 3 months and then I came out on one side of a very controversial topic.  It wasn’t well thought out, but I can’t bring myself to deactivate the post.  It’s a transparency thing.

4.  Most Helpful Post

I sometimes write posts to specifically be helpful or provide information.  Like trying to get your dog to pee in a particular place or information on raw diets.

But based on what people are searching for online and what brings non-subscribers to the blog, I think my most helpful post has probably already been the recent That Summer ‘Do – a post specifically dedicated to NOT shaving your dog in the summer.  Lots of people out there in cyberspace seem to be Googling information on shaving double-coated dogs, and if my post talks them out of it, I consider it undeniably helpful!  I’m sure their dogs think so, too.

5.  Most Surprisingly Successful Post

Easy:  Why, Jake Gyllenhaal, Why?

People who don’t walk their dogs or, worse, carry their dogs around is a pet peeve of mine.  And it seemed to me that in every photo I saw of hunky Mr. Gyllenhaal and his dog, the dog had nary a paw on the ground.  So I flippantly wrote about it, completely unaware of how many people out there Google variants of “Jake Gyllenhaal + dog”.   This post definitely brings in the most search engine traffic and is always in my Top 10 most viewed stats.

6.  Most Under-Appreciated Post

There are a couple that didn’t quite get the reception I thought they would, but I think most-so is In Defence of Big Dogs, written as a frustrated Newfoundland owner who likes to travel with her dog whenever possible.  Moses may be drooly, but he is very well-behaved, and it still bothers me that some dogs get more extensive travel privileges simply because they are smaller.

Though, I admit this post was written early on, and is therefore word-heavy and picture-light.  I understand (now) that blog readers often see large paragraphs and move on immediately.  But I just can’t bring myself to delete the post and start from scratch, even though I know I could do better.

7 .  Most Proud Post

Another easy one; I am most proud of my post Bloat / Gastric Torsion.  I wrote this long before the blog existed and as a way of making sense of an unexpected bloat experience we had with Moses.  Now I cope with experiences like that by blogging about it; it’s very cathartic.  At the time, I found myself frustrated with the conflicting information out there surrounding canine bloat, so I decided researching it and writing about it was the best way to make sense of it myself.

In a way, the bloat research exercise, together with the other pre-blog creation To Ban the Breed?, eventually lead to the creation of the Soapbox, as a way to share these things I had spent a lot of time on and thought would be useful and interesting to others.   Though, both of these posts I do consider under-read and under-appreciated, I acknowledge they are more like informative research articles and less like blog posts.

Moses meets a starfish during low tide in Vancouver - he bloated that evening.

Now I have completed my self-asssessment, my duty is to nominate up to 5 more bloggers for a 7 Link Assessment of their own.  And I did check the list to ensure I was passing it forward, not circling back.

The lucky nominees are (in alphabetical order):

2 Brown Dawgs – this is a purely selfish nomination, because I haven’t had time to read all the archives about Thunder and Storm as much as I’d like, and am curious to see highlights I may otherwise miss.

According to Gus – probably not a fair nomination because they’re off living the dream, travelling around North America on the ultimate road trip, but I couldn’t resist.  Lori’s such an amazing photographer, I’m dying to know what’s she’d pick for Most Beautiful Post.

Gone for a Walk – a very versatile and eclectic blogger – I’m very interested in what the 7 links would be.

My Brown Newfies – another selfish nomination of a blog I have quickly become a regular reader of.  This nomination isn’t just because the blog is about a couple of awesome Newfs… or is it?

The Daily Toki – speaking of great photographers!  Best of luck to you when you narrow down to just one in the first category.

One Day at a Time

Moses: AC (After Cyst)

We have entered those long days I had predicted not so long ago.

Actually, the last 10 minutes were probably the longest yet.

You see, as I was just sitting down to write this long overdue post, I flipped open the MacBook and then BAM!

Doors in the house start slamming shut.  Raindrops batter against the windows.  Debris blows down the street.  That evening sunshine is gone.

You guessed it: active weather.

Holy cumulonimbus clouds! (Photo actually from a Calgary thunderstorm this July - Photo from the Calgary Sun)

In fact, as I am now actually writing the post, the storm has amped up and some decent hail is pelleting the neighbourhood.

The trusty The Weather Network, my go-to authority on all things weather, confirms it: severe thunderstorm warning.

Normally a typical summer storm wouldn’t be such a big deal – except that Moses has been spending a lot of time out in the back yard these days (for ease of bathroom purposes).

The Husband is not home, so it was up to me to get big Mo’ inside.

It wasn’t pretty, but I am somewhat proud (and sore) to say got it done.  I would like to say Moses helped the task a little more than he did, as he only half-heartedly flutter-kicked his back legs while I hauled him up the (new, improved and extra-long!) ramp into the house; he just didn’t seem to care as much about the seeking shelter from the storm.

What’s a little hernia to have Moses now snoring contently beside me as I type?

As you may recall, Moses’ cyst-removal surgery was last Monday.  We were able to bring him home two days later, last Wednesday evening, and every day in the last week has been a series of small victories and minor improvements.

But hey – there are both victories and improvements!

A vet visit to see Moses, the day after surgery.

It took a team of four people to get all 179 lbs. of Moses in the car to take him home and that first day he was reluctant to even lift his head and hold it up.

We were given lots of homework, and each day he moves his head, neck and front legs a little more and props himself up a little higher.

So much so that he can now hold himself up in a sit for a few seconds unassisted (though he still needs help getting up) and yesterday he was able to do this:

He stands!

Granted, he needed some help getting up there, it wasn’t for very long, and the Husband is there hanging on to the hardness in case he faltered, but hey, it’s all about the small successes.

Each day we’re seeing small gains in movement and capability, and we’re optimistic looking ahead.  For the next 2 months, the focus is on getting him up and about and working on our homework.

No matter how well he may be doing, we’re not to even think about 5 minute walks until it has been 8 weeks post-surgery.  Then a very slow and gradual progression in exercise for another 2 months – but come the end of November he should be able to take stairs, run, play, and go back to hour long walks.  That’s the dream, anyway, and I think we’ll get there.

I think Moses thinks so, too.

"What cyst?"

However, if I could go back and change one thing, I would have started pumping iron months ago in advance of this heavy lifting.

Actually, scratch that.  If I could change one thing it would be upgrade to Tier 4 pet insurance so it all would’ve been paid for.  But if I could change two things….