Surviving and Thriving After Hip Dysplasia: Blue Pittie Miss Mick Taylor

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Nothing can stop blue American Pit Bull Mick Taylor and her rocker-chick mom, Theresa. So when Mick was diagnosed with hip dysplasia in both hips at just three years old, mom found the best surgeon in the area, turned herself into a full-time nurse for Mick, and bought a Big Barker for them both to sleep on while Mick was recuperating. The result? Mick is working her way back to eating cheeseburgers, listening to ZZ Top, and playing hide and seek with Mom and her squeaky pigs.

Big Barker: How old is Mick?

Theresa Taylor:  She is three years old. She was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 2012. What a precious present for me!

BB: Does she have any nicknames?

TT: Funny story: Her name is really spelled “Mich”—short for Michelle—and this is the story.

When I decided to purchase a dog, I had my mind firmly made up. I wanted a solid blue male American Pit Bull, and I was going to name him Mick! NO EXCEPTIONS!! Reason? Two months before I got Mick, I was listening to the song “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 constantly, and I walked around the house singing “My baby’s name is Mick, and he has moves like Jagger!”

I did my research and called the top breeder for pit bulls in the area. When the puppies were six weeks old, he and his wife met me just outside of Houston. There was a big, empty, well-manicured lot next to the mall. I drove to the opposite end of the lot and asked him to let the puppies go. I did not call them to come to me. The five beautiful, solid-blue male puppies scattered in five different directions but none came towards me. The FEMALE with a white blaze on her chest and white socks ran towards me like we were long lost friends. She stopped at my feet, looked up with those beautiful blue eyes, nipped my big toe, barked, and said “Mom, I am sooooo glad you came to get me today! Let’s go home because boy babies stink!” She had me wrapped around her paw from hello, and it was mutual love at first BITE! I handed the lady the check and told them, “Take it before you change your mind.” I noticed she was crying and I was afraid she was going to change her mind about selling Mick. I asked if she was OK. She explained they had been breeding dogs for years, and she had never allowed herself to get attached to one, but this one was different and very special.

I named her Mich, and she does have moves like Jagger! But she is definitely a girly girl—not a male.

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BB: What are Mick’s favorite things to do?

TT: Here are a few:

Walking If I don’t take her for a walk when SHE thinks we should go she finds her leash and brings it to me and cries until SHE WINS!

Playing tetherball with me. Imagine a 103-pound pit bull jumping high enough to hit a tether ball with her nose! It is a sight to see.

Chasing squirrels and birds in the yard.

Playing in the stream of the water hose and biting the water when I am trying to water the flowers, birds, and garden.

Riding with the windows down, air conditioner on high, sunglasses on, playing “She’s Got Legs” by ZZ Top… Oh wait—that’s me! 😊

Personal grooming Mick is a diva—I will ask her if she wants to go get a mani/pedi and a bubble bath and she will run to find her leash and bark so I will hurry to take her to the groomer. She loves a bath! When I ask if she’s ready for her bath, she runs and jumps into the tub, splashing water everywhere.

BB: What toys does she love to play with?

TT: Her favorite toys are squeaky pigs. One day while I was cooking she brought one of her squeaky pigs to me, but I couldn’t play at that time. She sat beside me and cried. She repeatedly picked up the pig and ran around or nudged me to try to get me involved in the game, but I just did not have time at the moment to play with her. Finally she picked up her pig and walked to the back of the house.

When I finished cooking dinner, I sat down for a minute. She came and sat down beside me and began to cry. I told her to go get pig and we would play, but she just sat there and cried. I went to the toy box and got another pig to play with (she has 12), but she would not play with it. She just sat there and cried. I had no idea what she wanted. Then she nudged my hand and walked down the hall, jumped on my bed, and pulled her pig from under the pillow. I realized that Mom was supposed to go find the pig! This is now one of her favorite games, and we take turns hiding and finding the pigs!

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Mick and the pigs!

BB: What are Mick’s favorite foods?

TT: Once a week she gets to have an ice cream cone or a cheeseburger. She also loves lettuce, tomato, avocado, asparagus, green beans, peaches, watermelon, cheese, and eggs.

BB: What are the things about Mick that make you laugh?

TT: When I kiss her and tell her I love her, she actually smiles and then gives me a big, wet kiss.

When I have to leave her for a day or two, she will sleep laying across my belly when I return so I can’t leave again.

When I look at her and I can see in her eyes how much she loves me and I hope she knows how much I love her.

She is so big, but she is sooo sweet, kind, and loving. Kids are never afraid of her and sense she is a gentle giant, but grown-ups fear her. I tell them they are in imminent danger of being kissed to death or beat with a tail. That is as bad as she gets!

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BB: Have you always been a dog lover?

TT: I have always been an animal lover. I was raised on a large plantation in the south. My father raised cotton, corn, beef cattle, and kids on the banks of Bayou Bartholomew. If a momma animal died before her babies were grown, we raised them on bottles. Squirrels, raccoons, skunks, calves, goats, horses, a pig, dogs, cats, birds, and even some baby alligators. My dad bought three pit bulls for working dogs to help with the cattle—we loved and played with them every day. They were our friends, playmates, and were VERY protective of us. I guess if I had to choose one animal to be #1 on the list it would be a dog, but I really love them all.

BB: How does Mick fit into the family?

TT: She loves everyone and their animals, and they love her. They spoil her as bad as I do. When my grandson found out she was going to have her surgery he came to see her and brought her a get well card and two new toys!

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BB: What made you research orthopedic dog beds?

TT: I know from experience how important a good mattress is for joint health. When I cracked a hip and damaged my back in an accident, I had to find something I could sleep on to get a good night’s rest that had no pressure points. I was miserable, getting no rest, working sixteen hours a day, and taking care of a terminally ill husband. When I found the right orthopedic mattress I was able to get some much-needed rest. Having zero pressure points and the support I needed was the key for success.

When Mick was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, I bought the best dog beds the pet stores sold. I even bought a baby crib mattress thinking it would provide the support she needed, but she was just too big. I laid on the baby mattress and every big bed from the stores myself and realized NONE of them is suitable for a big dog.

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This is Mick on her flat old bed 🙁

Mick and I have slept on her Big Barker bed every night very comfortably for three weeks. I knew with the extensive surgery to repair her hip problems and the added metal implant, she would have to have a much better bed than was available in the stores. I Googled orthopedic beds for big dogs, and Big Barker was first on the list—and the best! If I can sleep comfortably on it with a 103-pound dog, have zero pressure points, and no pain with a bad back and hip, I know she rests comfortably. She lays next to me, nuzzles in, and hardly moves all night.

And here's Queen Mick enjoying a comfortable rest on her Big Barker :)
And here’s Queen Mick enjoying a comfortable rest on her Big Barker 🙂

BB: Was your vet able to determine the cause of Mick’s joint problems?

TT: Yes. The diagnosis is hip dysplasia, which is very common in dogs, especially in large-breed dogs. According to our surgeon, Dr. Whitney, hip dysplasia is very common in pit bulls. Both of Mick’s hips are affected. Her stifles have complete ACL tears, the meniscus has large-bucket handle tears and lateral meniscus radial tears on the anterior horn. The surgery for both hips is right stifle arthroscopic assisted partial meniscectomy and TPLO.

BB: What were the things that made you settle on the Big Barker bed for Mick?

TT: The fact that it was designed especially for big dogs. Not for easy storage, easy fit in the washing machine, or looks (even though all that is great!). It was built for the comfort of the dog and that is what I was looking for—it is critical to keep her quiet and still in order for her to recover and heal.

I appreciated that the owner of the company took the time to create a video to demonstrate the bed; the research that went into the design and the pressure-point testing; the quality of the materials; waterproof cover and microfiber outer cover; the ten-year, 90 percent guarantee of retention of fullness in the orthopedic foam. Honesty in the owner’s infomercial, the fact he has enough faith in his product that his baby sleeps on one. He realized there was a real need for the product; after he found that there was nothing on the market that was suitable for his baby he began to develop something because he loves his baby. I hope he makes a million. He developed the idea, built an American company, did not have them made overseas and sent back and it would have been cheaper. He hired Americans who needed and wanted a job. The video was very informative and the pictures of his pet and family sealed the deal!

BB: How long will it take for Mick to get back on her feet?

TT: The hospital developed a rehab plan tailored for Mick that we can do at home, and the complete program will take eight weeks for each hip. It has been a challenge, to say the least, to keep her still as she’s been recovering from the first surgery. I have to lay beside her most of the time.

She completes her exercise program, which is to walk for twenty minutes, four times per day, working up to thirty minutes, four times per day for eight weeks. I have to give her a cool-down sponge bath, put an ice pack on her hip for 15 minutes, and keep her still until we exercise again. We will have to repeat this program for her second hip. It has been like bringing a premature baby home that needs 24-hour care, except I am the 24-hour nurse and the baby weighs 103 pounds!

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Dr. Whitney at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists preparing for Mick’s surgery

BB: Does your vet expect Mick to be able to get back to her normal activities once she heals from her second surgery?

TT: Yes, hopefully she will make a 95 to 97 percent recovery. The fact that she is only 3 1/2 years old, not overweight, gets and will continue to get regular exercise, has (in my opinion) the best surgeon available and a good nurse (that would be her Mom) are all plus signs for her recovery.

I plan to discuss the bed with the surgeon and recommend the bed to him for his patients when we go back. The engineered construction, quality of materials, (especially for very large dogs) is unsurpassed by any other company, the price is very reasonable for the quality of materials, and the ten-year guarantee can’t be beat. I made the right decision for my sweet baby girl and encourage everyone to do your research, compare brands and you will see Big Barker is the best buy on the market. Thank you, Big Barker family, for a quality product that will help promote a speedy recovery for Miss Mick!

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Melissa is the Managing Editor at Big Barker. She is best friend to Phoebe (pictured) and Finian, both rescued Chihuahua mixes.