Another hard step…

We picked up Ziva two weeks ago today and I am continually stunned each day by her progress. She has about 80% usage of her back left leg and probably about 50%-60% usage of her back right leg. The left one “auto-corrects” like the veterinarian wants it to but the right one still hasn’t fully connected back to the brain. That will come with time Dr. Stephanie claims…everything comes with time and once again, waiting.

Two weeks ago, we were also stunned by the grand total of Ziva’s medical bill at the emergency hospital. The amount, you ask? Well, for about 5 days in ICU and another 3 in hospital, CT Scan with myelogram (spinal cord dying,) emergency spinal surgery and numerous other much needed expenses to get her back to where she is today, the grand total comes to $13,401.05AUD. And she hasn’t even started physiotherapy… We luckily have pet insurance which has paid for some of the costs but as usual…never all of the costs.

For two weeks, I have wrestled with creating a GoFundMe account to ask friends…well, YOU, for help. It feels odd, it feels weird, it feels…like I’m doing something wrong. I tried to explain it to my friend Amy in that I’M usually the one helping others. I’M not used to ASKING for help. But this very unexpected situation, especially at this time of year, has thrown us for a loop. As I continue to to pay for unforeseen costs such as a $200 extra large wire kennel to keep her contained, a $125 full body harness that helps keep her back legs supported while she walks, another $180 for medication to help her with her continued confinement, I’m wondering what physiotherapy will cost and how long Ziva will need it. Will her right paw continue to flip under not righting itself correctly and will physiotherapy help this? I don’t know the answers to these questions right now. But the wondering has helped me “push the button” on the GoFundMe account.

So here is the link to our GoFundMe page: GoFundMe: Ziva’s IVDD Medical Fund Feel free to share it with friends who know Ziva or who tend to help others “just because.” I truly appreciate any and all help anyone is able to provide. If your only way to help is to share it on your FaceBook page then good on ya! Every kind of help is welcome and we are thankful!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and amazing holiday season.

Merry Christmas, from the Smiths!

Improvement – Just in Time for Thanksgiving

Within 24 hours of surgery, my “second daughter” is showing signs of feeling in her rear legs already.  That is the best news that we could have hoped for.  The biggest fear that hung heavy over our household was the possibility that the dog would never regain the use of her legs.  If that happened…the consequences were unthinkable but very real for us.

Susan went down to the hospital to drop off some familiar things with her scent on them to make her more comfortable.  The hospital staff have fallen in love with her and are showering her with affection.  Sounds like she’s getting just a little spoiled at this place!


What is it about a family pet that can escalate them to the status of human family member?  In our house, this entire drama was just as gut-wrenching as if the surgery was required for my REAL daughter.  I remember growing up in rural Pennsylvania, where “farm cats” and “farm dogs” had a more raw existence.  If one of them had an accident and was paralyzed, they’d be put to death immediately without a second thought.  But these days in our family, the pets are priceless gifts from God.  Years ago back in Knoxville the girls rescued an older dog they found by the side of the road.  She was in such bad shape that it took a hefty vet bill of more than $1,000 to get her patched up and healthy.  That sounds like a lot, but little Sophia became a family member and enriched our lives for several years thereafter, right up to the point where we left for Oz.

We don’t think about the cost.  All we can focus on is restoring our lives by restoring our missing family member.  This is a young dog, only about 2.5 years old and there are years of rich experiences ahead we will have to be a bit cautious with her to prevent another such occurrence with her spine. The doctors were so great at the vet hospital and so sympathetic to Susan’s anxiety over Ziva.  They saw her tears, heard her voice shaking, and noted her red face.  Their responses were compassionate, their phone updates positive and upbeat, and they even took the photo above and sent it to Susan to reassure her after she had dropped off the dog’s stuffed animal for her this afternoon.

Back in the early 1980’s at Michigan State I had an interesting observation.  The vet students had all the knowledge of the medical students and even took human anatomy classes, but had an extra dose of compassion and grace that the wanna-be doctors lacked.  If I ever got sick, I thought I’d rather go see a vet for his/her humanity more than a traditional doctor!  Now, it’s not fair to speak ill of all doctors and I appreciate all the good ones that are out there today.  But my conversations at Owen Graduate Center were just very different with the vet students than the osteopaths.  Just sayin’.

Due to all this drama, and the fact that Ziva won’t come home until at least Friday and possibly as late as next Monday, we’ve decided to cancel our annual Thanksgiving turkey fry for our Aussie friends.  We are focused on the issue of how well Ziva will recover and concerns about how we will manage her behavior so her young dog spirit doesn’t send her back to the hospital.  A house full of 20-30 people would make her pretty manic, which she doesn’t need during her recovery.  We also can’t focus on both the dog and managing all the preparation required to inject and fry a 20 lb turkey and bake multiple pecan and  pumpkin pies.  We’ll have to have a picnic closer to the Christmas holiday, and by that time we’ll hopefully have something to really celebrate!

So Happy Thanksgiving to our friends back in the USA; down in Oz we plan to be thankful for something a bit different this year.  She’s in the photo you see above.

PS:  Well, maybe we’ll have at least ONE pumpkin pie this weekend…we’ve got 9 cans of pumpkin from the USA.  Would taste good with ice cream while we watch the Ohio State – Michigan football game!


At Ayers Rock

It’s the first bit of vacation I’ve had all year, and we’re ticking off a Bucket List item by spending a few days at Ayers Rock. This is the deepest into Australia we’ve ever gone; into the Northern Territories where oddly the time difference is 30 minutes, not an hour!  We’re several kilometers from Uluru but tomorrow we get a big dose of The Rock, both at 6AM for “Desert Awakenings” and then in the evening for the Sounds of Silence dining experience with Uluru in the distance. Check out how RED the soil is here!  The trees, shrubs, and other types of plant life are very different from New South Wales, obviously!    


The New View


Well, we traded a view of Queenscliff Beach for one of Manly Lagoon.  We made the move on 15-July and were completely out of the apt and into our rental house by the 19th. The front faces the busiest road in North Manly: Pittwater Road.  But the back yard has the view you see here–that’s a golf  green straight ahead across the lagoon.  We’re still in the unpacking
process but by the time summer gets here we’ll be enjoying this yard!  (Daughter says sh wants a German Shepherd now. Uh oh…)