Saturday, May 18, 2013

Roller Coasters.....continued

It seems like just yesterday that I last wrote, but, it was a while ago.  For those of you who are new, and maybe haven't read the first couple of blogs, I started this blog to write about Gracy, my little princess, who has been battling lymphoma, and Keys, my big girl, who fights a daily battle with allergies. 

When I last posted, Gracy had just finished up with her second round of chemo at the beginning of December.  I am happy to say that she is still in remission!  YAY!!!!  Each checkup brings worries and fears, and this week was no exception.  Gracy has had intermittent vomiting for over a year.  It got so bad last summer, I really thought I was going to lose her.  Many tests were done, and no real answers as to why were given, although we did eliminate A LOT of things.  What finally started her on a path to living a "normal" life was the treatment for visceral epilepsy and food allergies.  Even though things are much better, she still continues to vomit on occasion, or, a lot.  In December, we started weaning her off the phenobarbital and we were at a place where we knew it wasn't helping.  So, back to the drawing board we went.  A couple of weeks ago, we brought in a Dr. who hadn't looked at her case yet, and he gave us a new game plan.  The first of which was to treat her again for a stomach worm.  The dose we had previously done was no where near the dose that he believed would even be effective.  So, that is where we are.  She finished her last dose this past Monday and we have to give it another week to see how it works.  That would be tomorrow!

You might think that things sound like they are headed in the right direction, but, there is always something!  She had a major vomiting fit last Sunday, which spurred more testing on Monday and Tuesday this week.  During this, they found a spot in her lung, which for a couple of very long hours, they thought it was lymphoma.....UGH!  Once her blood work was done (high white blood cells) and another Dr. saying that he just thought it was pneumonia, we jumped on the pneumonia band wagon.  She spent a night in ICU and is now on antibiotics.  It just never ends with this kid!  Follow up rads on Thursday showed much improvement and she continues to improve!

I continue to be humbled by this girl.  She has been such a light in my life and has helped guide me to who I am today.  My career path changed, for the better, because of this dog.  She has taught me that life is short, to fight for what I want and it truly is the little things in life that do mean the most.  She might not be the most special dog in the world, but she is in my world!  I am so honored that she waited to be really cute in that kennel until I was able to come rescue her.  We are a great team!  We continue to rescue each other, every day!  Never forget, it is not just a dog!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Doggie Diet!

I have written about this before, however, after a visit to the vet last week with Keys, my golden retriever, I thought I should readdress it.

Obesity and overweight problems are not just sweeping through the human line.  Our pets are having problems too.  The thing with pets is, we have control.  I laugh at that, because of my situation with two dogs with food allergies and two different foods.  Feeding time is stressful, as I have to keep my eye on the ever curious two dogs who continue to want the other dogs food.

At our last visit, Keys had gained about 10 pounds since the last time she was on the scales.  I thought she was doing good.  I thought I had been feeding her an appropriate amount of food to maintain her 87 pounds and possibly even shed a few in the process.  Low and behold, I was wrong!  She wouldn't sit still on the scale (shocking), so she got the benefit of the doubt of 95 pounds.  Wow!

Exercising them can be troublesome, but, I have made the commitment to start walking them again.  No matter what!  I have used a couple of calculators to determine a good amount of food to feed her each day, which I will include links to below.  Limiting what your pet eats is mostly in your control.  At least what you give them.  Of course, there is always the things they find in the yard, etc.

Even if your dog grazes, you should never put out more food than they should eat in a day.  Set a time each day that you restock their bowl.  Let's say 6 p.m. is your dog food bowl filling time and your dog should eat 2 cups of food per day.  At 6 p.m., measure what is left in the bowl, if anything, and add only what will make it 2 cups.  If there is a 1/2 cup left, then only add 1 1/2 cups.  Simple enough.  Make sure you include the calories of the treats you give them, as well.  Depending on the size of you dog, one treat can make a huge difference in calorie intake.

Having more than one pet can cause its own problems.  A possible solution is to separate them at feeding time and only allow them a certain amount of time to eat, and then put the food up until the next feeding time.  Trust me, if they are hungry, they will let you know.  But, to create a new habit, don't give in to their begging.  Of course their will be exceptions to this.

Your pet will soon learn this new regimen and be fine with it.  Weight loss should be gradual.  A pound or so a week, just like us.  It takes time and patience but their are so many benefits for your pet to be at a healthy weight.  Just like us, disease and health conditions creep into overweight pets.

Financial benefits are less trips to the vet for check-ups and medications, as well as possibly less food eaten.

The best online dog food calculator I have found is at Dog Food Advisor.  They also review most every food on the market, without prejudice.  I also found an iphone app, Best Doggone Diet, that will help you track your dogs weight and help you with amounts of food.  Check out their website for more info.  I am not totally sold on the app vs. price, but, we all like our gadgets and it is full of information!  And most importantly, consult with your veterinarian for the proper course of action with your pet.

Don't put it off!  Get your dog on that diet today!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Dogs Purpose

I try not to let things get me too worked up.  I try REALLY hard.  Usually, I am successful.  People say and do things well within their rights and opinions.  Whether I agree with them or not is well within my rights, as well.

Over the weekend, during my 2 a.m.- 5 a.m. "can't get back to sleep" time for the 3rd night out of 4, I found myself reading facebook posts.  A post had been made on a page by the page owner and it follows:

"I always laugh at those people who buy dogs before they have kids and treat them like little people. They always say they won't neglect them when they have kids, but we all know that's almost impossible. If they were smart, they'd wait until after their kids are older to get a dog, when they can really appreciate an animal that loves unconditionally and never talks back."

This is not the post that got me worked up at 3 in the morning.  I would have to probably agree with this page owner, for the most part.  It was this post made by a follower that has just been eating at me all weekend.

"People who treat their dogs like humans have problems, I have a dog and we love him and all that but the main purpose we got him is to be a guard dog and protect us... It cracks me up when ppl sleep with thee dogs meanwhile their someone in the back yard stealing their 3 hundred dollar bike (true story).... Theirs a difference between animals and humans"

First and foremost.  I know it wasn't this follower who did this, but, why, oh why?  Why?  Why?  If you owned a $300 bike, why would you just "leave" it in the backyard to be stolen?  Why?  Did I ask WHY????  If I left something outside, like a lawn mower or my Ipad (which I do frequently because it likes to lay out in the sun), and it was stolen, yes, I would be upset that someone had violated me like that.  However....that is my fault for leaving it out.  Period.  Really, you left a $300 bike in your backyard....WHY? 

Second.  We are ALL different.  There isn't one of us who is the same.  My dogs have never broke my heart, are always happy to see me, make me laugh, make me cry, drive me crazy, get my house dirty, and YES, I let them sleep with me.  But I LOVE them in my own way.  Yes, MY OWN WAY!  There isn't a manual out there to tell you how much you can love someone, something or anything.  Yes, I love my iphone, but it doesn't get to sleep with me.  Why, because that is silly, for me.  However, if someone sleeps with their iphone, that is their choice!

I will say this.  This person did say something that I agree with.  Their is a difference between animals and humans.  Sadly for her, she hasn't learned the reason WHY people let their dogs sleep with them.  She doesn't get it.  She would do well to read my previous post, Paying it Forward, then, she might get it, or at least begin to understand it.

I am not sure why I let this one statement nag at me all weekend.  But it did, and I have now vented.  We all love our dogs differently.  Some, like her, buy them for protection so they can leave their $300 bikes in their backyard instead of securing them at night.  Others, like me, by them for friendship and companionship.  Which, in my opinion, is the better of the two choices.  My dogs protect my Ipad (I was just kidding about leaving it outside, so, don't come looking to steal my tanned Ipad), and my many other treasures, from inside my home, as well as those dastardly rabbits, which are the reason why I wake up at 2 a.m. every morning.   My girls are inside my home because I love them and I want to protect them, just as much as they want to protect me.  They are not just dogs to me!  


Monday, January 14, 2013

Ruffs and Roller Coasters

Where has the time gone?  It has been over a month since my last post.  December, and November, were kind of busy with work and the holidays.  Gracy is still chugging along, and actually doing well.  We have good days and not so good days.  But as I explained the recent roller coaster to her least we are on the kiddie rides right now!

I still struggle each day, just trying to figure out her new normal.  Just when I think I get a handle on something, or it seems something has fixed itself (i.e. her getting sick, her eating normal), we have a down day or two and I feel like I am back to square one.  From all of this, I have learned that I must be a control freak (no comments, please).  These roller coasters are driving me crazy!  I can handle any kind of normal, I think.  I am just wanting some sort of consistency!

When I explain our roller coasters to friends, they remark that it is just like having a baby in the infant stage through the toddler stage all in one!  I agree!

I spend most days at home trying to figure out what my Princess and her sister need.  As soon as I get comfy and/or focused on work, t.v., dinner or chores, I am spoken to in "ruffs".  Some are quiet, some are not.  It is her way of telling me that she needs to be tended to.  Whether it is food she needs, water, medicine, to go out, you name it, my day is filled with "ruffs".

I love to eat my dinner in the recliner with a lap desk.  Normally, I push the limit on what I "bring to the table".  Just as soon as I get situated, yep, you guessed it, the Princess needs attending to!  Usually more than once, of course.  Why not stretch it out for all it is worth?  Who needs to eat a hot meal anyway?  They are so overrated!

Complaining I am not.  I am so grateful that I got to spend Christmas with both of my girls.  Watching them dig into their stockings is always fun.  I actually got them a couple of stuffed toys.  They had been banned from the house for a couple of reasons, but, I figured what the heck.  Well, Gracy (a.k.a. Princess) indulged too much on her Christmas goodies, which created a week or more of her getting sick.  This took a couple of weeks for her to really recoup from, and is just now, getting back to some sort of normal!  A lesson learned as to why they were banned from the house.  :-(

As my Princess cuddles up in my lap each night, I notice that her fuzzy face is growing back in.  She is a schnauzer mix, and she has the beard and fuzzy face of one, but loses all of it during her chemo treatments.  I remember not wanting to trim her this spring in fear that it would be the last time I saw it all grown out.  I had wanted to hold on to that moment as long as I could.  I am amazed each night, that after all we went through this past year, that I am watching her hair come back in. 

I am so blessed with the little things.  There are huge things going on in my life right now, but, I am just as happy as a clam.  When I look back on the last couple of years, I can believe that it has been a dog that has grounded me the most.  Amazing, but, then again, she isn't just a dog!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Round 2 - COMPLETE

Yesterday was Gracy's final chemotherapy treatment from her second protocol.  In other words, her thirty-second (32) treatment since April 2011 (16 treatments in each round).  Her blood work was great and her chest x-ray only showed the remnants of her rock party from this past Friday.

Rocks.  Yes.  Rocks.  I knew she had been eating them, AGAIN!  She had got sick over the weekend and a few came back up.  She also eats rabbit poop.  She is a mess, to say the least.  However, she still has a few in her system.  Should be a fun couple of days, to say the least.

If you aren't familiar with lymphoma in dogs, the chances of it coming back are great.  Since it has already come back once, the risk is even greater.  Although yesterday was a huge milestone, which we are celebrating, each day will present new stresses.  Watching, waiting, wondering if and when the possible inevitable will happen.  A cough, a lump, breathing issues.  Each cough or sneeze will be mentally noted to see if more happens.  New lumps will ensure a trip to the vet with followed up tests.  And then the breathing issues!  Each night, when she snores, I will she snoring or is something else going on.  It won't end.  It will continue each day. 

My little princess is a brave, strong fighter.  She fought hard this summer to stay with us.  Very hard.  I didn't think she would ever get well enough to get her 5th treatment in this second round.  As I have said many times, had it not been for her team of Doctor's fighting for her, and the many prayers that went up, she would not be here.  We are blessed to be so close to the University Vet School.  Very blessed.

So, even though I am stressed out.  Miss Gracy is doing as fantastic as she can be!  We will just continue to enjoy our time together.  I will continue to cater to her every need.  I will do my best to relax, a little, but won't let my guard down.  I feel so lucky that this little ray of sunshine waited in that kennel until I got there to bring her home.  She was meant to be with me.  She was a gift from God to help make me smile each day.  Even the bad days.  I can't begin to tell you how much this dog has taught me about life.  She is not just a dog!

Here are the warning signs for cancer in dogs.  Always have a vet check out any lumps.  The sooner you take action, the sooner treatment can begin.
10 Common Signs of Cancer in
 Small Animals

1.  Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow.

2.  Sores that do not heal.

3.  Weight loss.

4.  Loss of appetite.

5.  Bleeding or discharge from any body opening.

6.  Offensive odor.

7.  Difficulty eating or swallowing.

8.  Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina.

9.  Persistent lameness or stiffness.

10.  Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Things you shouldn't be thankful for.....

As we embark on Thanksgiving, I have been reading many "Today I am thankful for" posts on facebook.  I attempted to do this last year, as well, and well, I failed to complete it everyday.  I enjoy reading what people write.  To see what blessings they have or things they enjoy. 

I have stumbled on writing about this this weekend.  In fact, this is not my first version.  I have had a hard time being able to say this, type it "out loud".  I feel each blogger has to lay it out there.  Their lowest of low, for people to get it.  I feel I have ho hummed around this fact.

In the smallest, and most shameful way, I am glad that Gracy developed cancer.  Wow, that was hard to admit.  Now, I don't mean that litterally.  I am saddened she is sick and dealing with this dreadful disease.  I would not wish it on anyone....ever.  None of us want bad things to happen in our lives, but they do.  Things are usually out of our control.  But, sometimes, amongst the darkest days, good things happen.  It is hard to celebrate that.  Knowing that suffering has come to loved ones, friends, strangers.

I have often talked of silver linings.  I look back on my life prior to March 29th, 2011 when I found her lump.  A dark day indeed.  But reflecting back on that day, it was the beginning of me living for me.

Had Gracy not got sick, I may have never realized that life was just too short to be miserable.  I had gone from co-existing in my current job to hating everything about it.  It had begun to challenge everything I stood for and believed in.  I had gone from working for a company that believed we were a family to one that was a corporate entity.  So, I quit and started my own business.  While it has been a struggle, I have never not been happy about my decision.

On Gracy's many visits to the vet school, we have met many new and wonderful friends.  Gracy has a new family there.  We never would have met these fine folks, or reconnected with old friends, had this not happened.

I started a charitable cause to help support the oncology department at the vet school.  Again, this would not have happened had she not got sick.

I would not have started this blog!

Gracy's illness has lead me down a road I may have not had the courage to take on my own.  I have fallen in love with this pup in a way I have never loved another dog.  She is a fighter and her courage to survive is remarkable.  I am proud, beyond words, to be her Mom.  Through all of the sad and stressful days (and there have been a few), this girl has made me smile and laugh.  She has not given up on life.  I am glad she helped guide me to mine.  After all, she is NOT just a dog!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Saving and Weighing in on Your Pet

Good Morning Friends!  I have had so many ideas on what to write, I can't write!  This is a combo pet savings/pet health day!

Our pets, like our nation, are facing an epidemic.  Many are overweight.  In fact, a recent survey by the APOP states that 54% of our pets are overweight.  Like us, overeating and lack of exercise are generally the reasons why.

Being overweight puts your pet at risk for some common weight-related conditions such as:
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  • Kidney Disease
  • Many Forms of Cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)
So, you ask, what can I do?  Well, putting your dog on a diet is easy!  Much easier than putting yourself on a diet.  First of all, the easiest thing you can do today, is read the food bag.  On the side or back of the bag, they have a recommended feeding guideline.  Start there!  Choose your pets ideal weight, ex. if your dog weighs 100 pounds, but should weigh 80, feed it the 80 pound recommendation.  Second, consult you veterinarian.  Feeding it at the 80 pound limit may only help it maintain its current weight, you might need to go less for awhile.  Also, each food varies in the amount of calories per cup.  If you are changing foods, you may be over, or under feeding your dog.

How you feed your dog is up to you.  Once a day, twice a day, three times a day.  It is also up to the dog.  Gracy will only eat about 3/4 cup of food at a time, no matter the calorie content.  Keys, well, I think she might eat the whole bag if I put it out!  How many pets you have also comes in to play.  Then you have the risk of them eating what is left behind.  Most pets can be trained to eat at certain times of day.  They key is to only give them what they should eat in a day.  They will learn to eat when food is available.  It might take a while to retrain them, but, it can work.  If they are hungry, they will eat!

Here is a fact that can put things in a bit more perspetive for you.  A premium pig ear (231 kcals) fed to a 40-pound dog is the equivalent of an adult human drinking six 12-ounce Coke Classics™ (840 kcals).  So, if you give your pets lots of treats, you may need to cut back on the treats and food a bit to accommodate their calorie limits.

What you are feeding your dog is important too.  I wrote an entire blog on that, and here is the link for it.  What are you feeding your dog? 

You can save money simply by feeding your dog what it should be eating.  If you are feeding it twice as much as it should be eating, than cutting back will make the bag last twice as long.

Feed your dog (as best you can) what it should be eating in a day.  Consult your vet if your pet needs to lose weight so that you can come up with a weight loss plan.  Doing all of this can help you save money now and in the future.