Marley—Phase One (by Ronnie)

Marley had been owned by several breeders the first year of her life. All the while she had a badly dislocated elbow. When we got her, we had the elbow surgically fused. She has had four surgeries in the past 14 months.

I think because of her smaller size and elbow, she quickly learned only one way to react to other dogs and people. She had to strike first at the first sign of a threat. In spite of every thing I tried, she could never get beyond that. If she were surprised, or felt threatened she would bare her teeth and strike with the speed of a cobra. With time, work and love, she got so much better. But she still struggled. She had such a strong desire to please. When she messed up and tried to bite, she would give you the most heart-breaking look. It was a look that cried for help. She knew she did wrong, but just could not help herself. You could see the remorse on her face.

Part of her problem in my house was 5 other dogs and one was a dominant female. She and Marley were always on the verge of starting something. In July I got between the two of them in an attempt to prevent a fight. Marley bit me on the foot and broke two bones. We knew something had to be done to help her. I had taken her as far as I could. Maybe a quieter home where she was the only dog would be the answer to my prayers. That is where Tammy graciously stepped up to love this girl whom I loved so much.

Monday I hugged her for the last time. I sat in the floor with her while she bathed my face in slobber. It was so good to see her again. But I knew we had to make a decision that was best for her. She was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She had failed again and we knew we had to help her find the calm and rest she longed for all her life. We had to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge to contentment.  

Phase Two (by Tammy)

Marley viewed everything as a threat, even so much as a leaf blowing. She was always “on” guarding against any and all perceived threats. Even when sleeping it was more like resting. My wish was she would someday just be a dog with not a care in the world. After working with a personal trainer to try to ease her stress, let go and try to get her to realize we adults have it, it just made her aggression worse and I knew it was time to make the toughest decision I’ve ever had as a foster momma. 

Marley learned to heel and sit when I stopped while walking. She would look up at me like “look mom I remembered to sit!!”. She was so proud of herself. She wanted to be good but nature and nurture had a strong hold on her and her moments of unpredictability was at a high risk.

Everywhere I took her everyone said how cute she was and I thought so too! 

She was a great travel companion, she drove to PA with me for Thanksgiving and Christmas and took over my suitcase as her bed. She saw snow for the first time while back in PA. She loved sitting in the sun and had a favorite ball. I love you Marley, run without a care in the world until we meet again. 

I’ve had three owners in the last few months. Not sure why all that happened, but I am sure my luck is about to change. My last owner said she was giving me up because I had too many problems. As you can see, I do need surgery to make my eyes look pretty again and not hurt. I also walk (or kinda hop) with a limp. My last mom said one front leg is not as long as the other.

I am at the vet clinic getting all checked out. They are going to do X-rays of my leg to see what is wrong. They said the way I walk reminded them of a dog named Sawyer. He had an operation and now runs everywhere and nobody thinks he is crippled. I sure hope they can do that for me. I love all other animals and people. As a puppy, I really love to play chase with other pups. We run and roll around in the grass. They tell me I need to learn how to walk on a leash, like a lady. I will do whatever I need to be adopted by my forever family.

After I get all fixed up, I will be so excited to be matched with my perfect family.

11/27/18 Update:  Today’s x-rays revealed the problem with her front leg. Her elbow is completely dislocated and out of place. We are consulting an orthopedic surgeon.

Marley Plays

12/8/18/Update:  Marley arrived at her foster home yesterday, cone intact. Thankfully, we were able to take the cone off so she could model her new Christmas outfit. She has been chilling around the house and having brief meetings with all her foster siblings. She still has some recovering to do from her cherry eye surgery and we are waiting for an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon about her dislocated elbow. The good news is she does not know anything is wrong. She has been this way so long, it is normal for her. We will get some video soon and you can see how active she, especially with other dogs.

If all goes well, she plans to wear her new Christmas dress at the Ugly Sweater party on Sunday, Dec. 9 at The Craftcade Pinball Bar.

12/12/18 Update:  Marley is scheduled for elbow surgery next Wednesday. Dr. Lay has studied all the X-rays and viewed several videos I sent of her walking, running and playing. He thinks she was probably born with a genetic defect that caused a small part of the humerus to break off causing the elbow to dislocate. She has probably been like this most of her life. He feels fairly confident he can put the joint back in place and that it will stay. We will not know for certain until he works on her. If he cannot repair the joint, he will put in a steel plate and lock the joint at a certain angle. Around 110 degrees. That will give her a stiff leg, but that is still better than it is now. And at her young age, she will adapt quickly.

If we do nothing, the lower leg will continue to slide up toward the shoulder. That leg will get even shorter. This will throw that shoulder and the other leg out of balance. From the videos, he can tell the other elbow is beginning to bow slightly to compensate for the short leg. She will be released on Thursday. The prognosis and recovery will depend on what he ends up being able to do. She will probably go back to Sulphur Springs for a few days of more intense care and then we’ll get her in for some water therapy.

12/20/18 Update:  Marley’s elbow surgery on Wednesday was not as successful as we hoped. Dr. Lay scoped the joint first and had some reservations, but hoped for success. There was considerably less bone density on that side because the bones had basically been non-weight bearing and did not develop properly for the first year of her life. He was able to stretch the bones and ligaments back into place. But the bottom of the humerus (upper bone) was malformed and the articular cartilage was gone. This would make it impossible to hold the joint in place.

He had already had her sedated for two hours at this time, and there was really nothing more he could do. So they finished and called me to discuss options. It was decided her next best option is an arthrodesis, or immobilization of the joint, by placing a metal plate to join the two bones together. The plate will be specially made just for her size and leg angle. The current plan is to do that surgery tomorrow.

This will give her a stiff leg, but it will stop the bottom bones from creeping further up the humerus. It will also help add stability to that shoulder and the opposite shoulder and elbow. At her age, she should adapt quickly. She will just walk and run a little quirky. But it will be better and more comfortable than it is now!

We even discussed elbow replacement, but he does not think there is enough normal shaped bone on the end of the bones to make that practical. In the meantime, she will get to spend a couple of days back at the clinic with Dr. Larsen. We will have another update this weekend. Hopefully it will be after a successful fusion surgery.

12/23/18 Update:  Marley had her second elbow surgery of the week yesterday. On Wednesday they were unable to put the joint back together and for it to stay in place. So yesterday they reshaped the ends of the bones, and attached a metal plate with 11 screws. They also removed bone from her hip and did four bone grafts in the former joint. All of this is to fuse her leg so it will now become one solid bone.

The orthopedic surgeon felt this was the best option for her to have the best quality of life. She has a heavily padded splint that is almost like a cast. She will remain in the clinic for several days so they can monitor her incision and bandages, and watch for any infection. Recovery will take several weeks, but eventually she will be better than she has been in a long time.

Her young age will certainly help in her recovery and adjustment to life with a stiff leg. Attached are some pictures of her on Friday before the second surgery.

12/25/18 Update:  Vet update on foster girl Marley: Miss Marley is doing great. She is eating and drinking and doing fine.

She would like to let you know despite the tough surgery, she isn’t going to let it get her down. She frequently likes to play escape and run all over the vet clinic to see if they can catch her. She is back to being herself with no pain. Dr. Lay (ortho surgeon) also gave her a new toy to play with her other piggy. We think they coordinate well with her cast.

She wishes everyone in rescue and those who love Bulldogs everywhere a very happy Christmas.

1/7/19 Update:  Marley continues to be such a trooper after her surgery. Following two elbow surgeries and a fusion, she spent a week at the clinic in a cast. She came back home last Monday after the cast was removed. She spends most of her time in her ring in the living room. She goes outside to do her business and walks just a little bit. Like all the dogs, she is so glad the rain is over for a while. We had to wrap her leg in plastic every time we took her outside. Her last stitches were removed Saturday. Each day she is putting more weight on the foot. I am to walk her around the yard a few times a day and increase the distance daily until she can walk around the block. In a few weeks she will start water treadmill therapy. The recovery process will take around four months.

But she is patient, behaves so well and will work hard on her recovery. In the meantime we snuggle on the couch and I massage her leg and stretch her ankle to keep it mobile. Yesterday we moved the ring to the yard so she could enjoy some fresh air.

2/1/19 Update:  Marley girl had a five-week follow-up visit with Dr. Lay last week. Her X-rays look great and she is cleared to begin therapy. Our evaluation consult is this Tuesday and then she should begin several sessions of water treadmill therapy. She is such a sweet girl and has handled restricted activity about as good as any young pup could. But she is so ready to become more active!

2/7/19 Update:  Special thanks to our friends at Veterinary Referral & Emergency Hospital of Arlington- VREHA for helping us with foster girl Marley’s first water therapy session!

From her foster pops: She started out at ten minutes and will gradually increase to 20 minutes. She was not nervous at all and did great for her first time.

3/7/19 Update:  Marley is almost recovered from her third and final surgery on her leg. She will start back with water treadmill therapy in the next week or two. She will be ready for adoption a couple of weeks after that. 

She has gone through so much, but is now so happy to be able to spend more time out in the house and running in the yard. When she was cooped up so much she developed a little bit of a toy hoarding and toy aggression attitude. We are working on that and helping her relax more around the other dogs. We see here confidence growing every day. Now if the weather will stay nice she can enjoy more play time and longer walks.

And I think there is a budding romance between her and her foster brother, Moose.

4/8/19 Update:  Marley, like her foster siblings, continues to enjoy the mild days and the extra time outside. In the time she has been with us she has had three surgeries and therapy on her leg. We believe she is really ready to move on to her forever home. We continue to work with her on walking on a leash. This is not her favorite things to do. Perhaps it is because of her leg. She would much prefer playtime in the yard where she is free to run and “spin on a dime.” One-on-one with foster pop is a special time. She loves to play and cuddle anywhere to pass the time. 

Marley loves to be the focus of your attention. She would do best where she is the only dog, or where there is one more dog who is somewhat submissive. She does not do well in a large group. She is still learning to control some of her puppy behavior and snapping. Because of that, she would do better with older children who understood and respected her boundaries. And because of her fused front leg she will never be one for long walks around the block, but she loves short bursts around the yard or playing at the park.

We know there is a perfect family out there just looking for a loving girl like her to complete their family.

4/22/19 Update:  Marley continues to amaze! We are going to do a few more water treadmill sessions, but she is ready to find her forever home. She has finally begun using her leg more, and she moves at the speed of light!

She is doing better with the other dogs and with her toys, but I still think she would be much happier as the only dog, or with one dog that is somewhat submissive. She is putting on a little more weight and getting thicker, which makes her look so much better. She still hates to go for walks down the street, but she will play with you in your yard for hours.

Marly Playing

6/17/19 Update:  Miss Marley just continues to grow and amaze. She is calming down and loves more couch snuggle time. She also has done much better this week walking on a leash. That’s a big step for this girl. The video is shot to show her using her surgically repaired leg.

She still does not like her foster sister, but does well with the four boys. I know my girl is not a fan of having other girls around, so I am sure that is part of the problem.

If all goes well, she plans to attend the Bulldogs and BBQ event in Richardson this weekend. We want to see how she does in public.

7/10/19 Update:  Foster mom and pops can’t be more proud of the progress sweet Marley has made this past month. She has really calmed down and begun to focus on improving her behavior. She is doing better on a leash, and playing well with others. She goes to her crate most of the time when we tell her to, even though she doesn’t enjoy being there and will let you know after a while.

She still has problems with her foster sister, but enjoys the four boys. Oh, and she is doing much better going outside to potty and telling us when she needs to go. I think she spent so much time in a large ring after her surgeries she just forgot about going outside. It’s taken some time and retraining, but it is paying off.

She loves lap and couch time, and chewing on her bones. She still would prefer to be your only dog, but with some patience and work on your part she will learn to get along.

7/28/19 Update:  A day in the life of Marley:  I had a lot to do today since it was my first day in my new foster home. I did great on the car ride home. I had to check out my new digs. I love watching the Tour de France with foster mom. she thinks it’s hilarious how intently I watch especially when dogs come on. And last but not least I had new toys to play with! Who knows what tomorrow holds, I can’t wait!!

8/18/19 Update:  Long time, no talk. I’m settled into my foster home and, thanks to volunteer Robert, my foster mom is cooking me some yummy meals. I had roast, carrots and green beans for dinner last night. I liked it so much, my bowl ended up across the floor because I was trying to get every last morsel.

My days are pretty busy with meeting neighbors (small and big people ~ I like all of them and they say how cute I am). I walk on a leash pretty well, but if my foster mom wants to take a direction I don’t want to go, I just sit down and say, “Nope, not happening,” so I guess I have to work on that.

I haven’t had a single accident in the house, so I got that going for me. I’m not happy when foster mom is on conference calls and ignores me. Who can ignore this cute face? Apparently, she can when she has to work. We are working on my patience and attention-seeking inappropriate behavior. Some days are better than others.

Well, I gotta go check out the neighborhood from my balcony. Stay cool and have a great weekend!

8/26/19 Update:  I had another fun week with Foster Mom. She got me a pet trailer that she pulls behind her bike so we can go a lot more places in the neighborhood. I was at the park early this morning chasing (not fetching) my ball. I’m so tired when we get home I have to lay down for long naps on my new doggie bed, which is chew proof (darn it, I tried with everything I have to chew through the corners, but no success). I even slept on my dog bed right beside Foster Mom last night and did really well.

I had full run of the house when Foster Mom was at a meeting for 5 hours and didn’t do anything but sleep. I’m such a good, big (well, little in stature) girl. I’m figuring out this adulting stuff.

9/10/19 Update:  Well it’s been two weeks and you’re probably wondering where I have been?!?! Foster Mom was on vacation so I had a pet sitter come and stay overnight, it was like my own slumber party!!! I read (well Foster Mom read it to me) the text she sent to foster mom and it said I was adorable and a good girl! Of course, that’s cause I am Marvelous Marley! I have free roam of the main living area and I do great, lots of naps and chewing on my toys. Foster mom forgets to put her shoes away but they don’t interest me, they’re not my size. Hehe!

If you have a quiet house, lots of patience, no other dogs and no little people I would love to meet you!