The Beat Goes On

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Waiting for the Doc

Moose is in good shape for his age, with his recent vet appointment results consistent with a dog of 16 years. Just as humans have specialists, so too, do dogs. A cardiology appointment for Moose always brings about some anxiety for us. We hope for the best yet prepare for the worst, but fortunately, the news was good.

Moose hadn’t seen his heart doctor in a while, so we scheduled an appointment to check his degenerative chronic mitral valve disease. He is on a medication to slow its progression, and we wanted to see if it was helping with his issue. Perhaps a change might be needed.

Moose and Red tend to do everything together, but in this instance, we felt it best that Red stay home. He wouldn’t have been able to be with his brother during tests, and he would have been antsy stuck in an unfamiliar place for a few hours.

The waiting room was filled with pets waiting to see various specialists. On this visit, Moose was his normal outgoing self, curious about the other animals and their people.

A veterinary student called Moose back for a quick exam. He passed his weight, heart, and lung check, but failed for dirty ears. As much as Red licks his ears, they should be spotless. We plan to address this issue at their next mani/pedi appointment with their regular vet.

After the quick checkup, Moose was taken back for further study by the cardiologist, to emerge an hour and a half to two hours later. Luckily there are plenty of places to eat in the area, and his appointment happened to coordinate with lunch time. It was just sad that the little guy wouldn’t be there to share the meal.

Of course, the time frame elapses at a snail’s pace when you’re waiting for your best friend. When you first see your baby, you’re elated but then worry about the results. The doctor put our fears to rest.

Moose had an echocardiogram during his visit. The medication is working well. There were no changes since his prior visit, and the course of treatment remains the same. The cardiologist couldn’t believe that Moose will celebrate 17 years in November.

Moose had the best visit we could hope for, and another visit in 6 to 9 months is recommended. We were advised to continue to check his respiration rate to be sure it is in the normal range, and we should also be wary of any signs of his condition worsening, such as coughing or wheezing. I admit that I try to keep Moose in a bubble so his heart doesn’t get worse. I also make sure he isn’t exerting himself too much or overheating under the blankets. Walks are rare, but the vet encouraged us to get him out more. His heart is stable at the present time, but now I’m the one going to need a cardiologist after all the stress, but it was worth it for my Moo.

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Chillin on the Couch

Old Dog Accommodations

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Preventing a Downward Dog One Yoga Mat at a Time

What do you do when your beloved canine companion becomes the equivalent of a senior citizen? You accommodate their needs as well as you can, as you would any other elderly family member.

Moose and Red have been old dogs for a few years now. Red is approximately 15 years old, and Moose is 16. Both have mobility issues, as well as diminished vision and hearing. We’ve made certain changes in our lives for the betterment of their lives.

Our house is carpeted, but the rear entrance has a cut-out piece of linoleum just in front of the door. I always thought it looked nice, but it’s now hazardous for the dogs. Coming into the house from the yard proves difficult, because they slip easily on the shiny surface. They don’t rocket into the house like they used to, but we purchased interlocking foam puzzle pieces to put over the linoleum. They work very well for the dogs, and the cats like it because they think it is a neat scratching pad. The downside is that foam fragments get trapped in the cats’ claws, which I find all over the house. I consider that a small price to pay to avoid potential puppy injuries.

The sunken family room is another obstacle for old dogs and older people, as I am discovering. The water bowls were always in the kitchen, but to get to them the dogs need to climb a couple steps from the family room, where they spend the bulk of their time. This wasn’t an issue when they were young men, but it is now. These days it’s much easier for them to have a water bowl in the family room. The dish is raised on a shelf so it’s their level, and it’s not obtrusive.

Our galley kitchen is linoleum. At least as I remember it, it was. I don’t see much of the floor because it is covered by yoga mats. Red receives acupuncture for his mobility issues, and the mats help with traction. They are inexpensive and reversable so I can get more mileage out of them. I can even buy them in a color that matches the kitchen, so if they must be there, at least it won’t look too bad. As with the foam puzzle pieces, the downfall is that one of the cats (I’m looking at you Barnabas) finds them a fun scratching surface.

Incontinence is a big problem with the boys. Their potty schedules haven’t changed, but their bladders just aren’t strong anymore. Both Moose and Red wear man pants, which have been a huge help in preserving our carpets. However, large disposable pads line the couch if someone has a leak. Their crates are also lined with pads, making cleanup easier at the end of the work day. While I expected urinary leaks, I was surprised to learn that age impacts other bodily functions as well. We have doggie diapers at the ready should this condition worsen.

I don’t mind accommodating my dogs in their old age, and I will continue for as long as it is necessary. For their unconditional love and loyalty over the years, they deserve it.

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Water for Pups

Nail Trim Time

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Moose Paws

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While I wish I had an Irish Wolfhound to write about on this holiday, I do not. Instead, how about a post about Italian greyhounds who turn into feisty little wolves when it’s time to trim their nails?

Way back when Moose was a puppy, trimming his nails was less problematic. I used regular dog nail clippers. I never cut the quick, which is the part inside the nail that bleeds if nicked. He was an active little guy, and concrete helped to wear down any long nails, making trims infrequent.

When Moose got a bit older, he decided that I wasn’t going to trim his nails anymore, at least not without a fight. He would try to nip me, my docile puppy now a 22-pound dog who thought he was a wolf. I was confused because I handled his paws as suggested by his puppy class instructor so he would be used to having his feet touched. He must have forgotten that lesson.

When Red came along, he was just as bad with his nail trims, and some of his nails are dark, making the quick harder to see and avoid cutting. We bribed them with candy, and for a time that worked just fine. Granted it wasn’t exactly healthy to give them little disks of sugar, but as they gobbled them up, I trimmed. This was a successful process that unfortunately didn’t last long at all. Well, it was good that they stopped getting candy.

I threw in the towel when they got wise to the candy-nail trim procedure. I decided to take them to a local groomer instead. I thought a professional would do a better job than I could, and I was correct. We went a few times, and Moose was better behaved than Red, which isn’t saying much. We left with shorter nails, but the boys were still jerks about it. The groomer did a great job, but I felt bad for her having to deal with my little stinkers, so I sought another solution.

With most of my options exhausted, my last resort may not have been the boys’ first choice–the vet. They go once a year for their checkup and vaccines, and teeth cleanings as needed. Now they go every few weeks for nail trims. The procedure at the vet is down to a science and they do an excellent job. The nails are neatly trimmed with little to no drama and everyone leaves happy. It takes no time at all and the pups are on their best behavior. Maybe it’s the location that makes the difference? Whatever it is, we have gone this route for years now, with great success.

Incidentally, I have also tried nail grinding with no luck. I purchased a unit and tried it, had a friend try it, and it was a no-go. Moose wasn’t a fan, and although I haven’t tried it with Red, we’ll stick with what works. I gave the grinder away after my failed attempt with Moose anyway. We love our vet (and I think the boys secretly do, too).

Nail Trim Trauma

Red Paws

Visitors

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In Loving Memory

If you don’t believe in the supernatural, you may want to skip this post. If you’re interested, keep reading to find out who I think visits us and how they make their presence known.

You may know that we lost our cats Annie and Ozzy to natural causes in 2015 and 2016. However, there are times when I have sworn that they were in the house, which of course is impossible because they have been gone for a few years. I can’t be sure which of the two I think visits, but it’s easy to assume that it is Ozzy, because he was more social than Annie. That being said, Annie could feel more comfortable now that she crossed over, able to wander the house without the current pets bothering her. Perhaps both are visiting.

One day I was perched on the ottoman in the family room, scrolling through my phone, when I distinctly felt a cat rub against my leg. I reached down to pet the friendly feline, but my hand was met with air. There were no cats in that room.

Another visit came one morning when I was wide awake. Tiki sleeps with me more often than not, and sometimes Vlad jumps up on the bed in the morning for snuggles. I was laying on my left side, leg bent, when I felt something jump on my knee. I glanced down expecting to see my cuddly black cat, but there was nothing there. Tiki was curled up by my head, with Vlad and the other cats nowhere to be found.

Cat parents know that kitties have their own distinctive voices. I can tell which cat is vocalizing by their sound, even if they are in another room. On another morning I was sitting on the edge of the bed when I heard Ozzy’s meow. It startled me and I even answered him back with a tentative, “Ozzy?” I expected no reply, but if it was my boy, I wanted him to know that I heard him loud and clear.

Barnabas has a sudden interest in the top of the fridge, where Annie’s urn rests. She still lounges in her bed, surrounded by her bowl and toys. This was her domain when she was alive, and if she were still with us, Barney would not be welcome there.

Another place Annie frequented was behind the television stand in our bedroom. It’s another odd place Barney goes where the others do not.

Sometimes I see a shadow throughout the house. It’s usually something small and dark, moving fast out of the corner of my eye. Whatever it is disappears as soon as I focus on it. These shadows can’t all be our black cat Vlad, can they? Maybe this is all my imagination, just wanting so much to still have them around. However, my better half has had his own experiences. At any rate, if Annie and Ozzy are visiting, they will always be welcome home.

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Annie

Cat Toy Tears

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Cat Toy

Have you ever been somewhere and saw something that triggers a strong emotional response? Maybe it was something that brought back a memory, either good or bad. This happened to me a couple weeks ago. What caused me to break down in an aisle of a pet supply store?

I was volunteering for the rescue, which adopts cats and kittens from inside a local pet supply retailer, when I took a quick break to search for a new cat toy. Tiger has been destroying his toy mice of late, carrying them around while loudly announcing his latest “kill.” I discarded a couple disemboweled bodies, who suffered the indignity of their stuffing still hanging from the jaws of their killer, the orange tabby cat. Tiger was running low on stuffed mice, so I thought I might buy him a few more.

I knew they would have what I needed. I prefer plain mice, with few details that I have to remove for safety’s sake. Perusing the items for sale, I saw a toy on the bottom shelf that flooded my brain with memories. It was a simple plastic barbell, with balls with bells inside on each end.

Flashback to many years ago when we were only a two-cat household. Annie and Ozzy were young and playful, and they had a toy that they just loved to bat around. It resembled the plastic barbell that I just found. These toys weren’t exactly the same; I believe the original barbell had fuzz on the ends, and not plastic. However, the plastic toy was similar to the well-loved toy that eventually came apart.

I tried to find it everywhere with no luck. I wanted to replace it so badly for them, but none could be found. Wherever I was, I checked every pet supply place to find it. One day in February 2003 I went into a chain pet shop (now out of business), still on the hunt for the elusive barbell. They didn’t have it, but you know what they did have? My Moose!

I always say I went into that store for a cat toy and came out with a puppy, but that is not entirely accurate. Moose wasn’t an impulse purchase; I did go home and research Italian greyhounds long into the night to be sure the breed would be a good fit for our home. Bleary-eyed but excited, we returned to the store the following day. (Please note that this was before I knew about puppy mills).

I remember the store associate handing him to me for the first time, all soft and wiggly with that new puppy smell. I was instantly in love, as he stuck his needle nose in my ear.

It took me 16 years to find that cat toy, but sadly too late for Annie and Ozzy to enjoy it again. Tears fell the day I found that barbell, a lot of mixed emotions bubbling to the surface. I thought of the lives and loss of my beloved kitties, and the joy of bringing home the canine love of my life, who I wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t looking for that toy.

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Annie and Ozzy

Senior Pup Update

 

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Red

I mentioned earlier that Moose and Red were due for their annual checkups at the vet. Their bloodwork has always been unremarkable, but we know that changes come with age. Were their results again picture perfect?

I wish I could say otherwise, but their streak of stellar bloodwork ended this year. However, there were only slight changes for both pups, what a relief! Red’s results were just a tad better than Moose’s. Red’s blood showed only one slight issue, which is nothing terribly unusual for a dog of approximately 15 years old. The elevated number requires no intervention at this time.

As for Moose, he had a couple numbers out of whack, but also nothing too out of the ordinary for a dog at the age of sweet 16. Nothing contained in the results requires any further treatment or testing at this time.

So, the bloodwork wasn’t anything really bad at all, and I know it could have been far worse. We’re lucky that things have been going so well for so long. I am grateful for the results that we received for such little old men.

Their physical exams also went well for their ages. Moose’s heart issue was evident during his exam, and he will see his cardiologist next month. He suffers from degenerative valve disease, and he is being treated for it with medication, with the hope that it will slow down the progression of the disease. All of Red’s parts that are supposed to be functioning well continue to do so, so we are thankful for that.

The bottom line is that both guys are doing well for their ages, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. Well, except for more time with them, there’s always that. I wish I could freeze them in their present state, so that they could never age or deteriorate beyond what they are right now. Moose doesn’t see well, and Red is all but deaf, but they will always be perfect to me.

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Moose

 

Blue Suede Bird

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Elvis?

Although I had all sorts of pets growing up, I never had a bird. My mom once worked with small birds at a dime store, and is quite fond of feathered friends. Before I came along, my parents had a mynah bird named Charlie who was well loved and comical to say the least. They told me stories of how he would wolf whistle at unsuspecting women passing by the window, their reactions aimed toward my dad rather than his rude avian companion. He could cuss like a sailor at inappropriate times, like when someone from the church was visiting. Charlie had the ability to mimic voices, so if you heard someone calling for you, it might be the crazy mynah bird using someone else’s voice. Sometimes he even threw food down to the dog. Sadly, he passed before I could meet him, but his stories made birds sound so fun.

I realize that parakeets and mynah birds are quite different, but I thought a budgie would be better suited for a first-time bird parent. I’ve had Elvis the parakeet for close to a decade, and he seems to be content and happy in our home. I thought his name was fitting because he likes to sing and chirp, plus he has beautiful blue feathers. He has outlived two previous cage mates and now lives the bachelor life. Or does he?

As I mentioned in Mother’s Day Madness, one day I noticed white objects laying on the cage floor. Eggs! After some quick research, I learned that Elvis wasn’t a male bird after all. This surprising discovery led to an eventual name change, so Elvis is now Priscilla. My bachelor bird turned out to be an independent chick! I’m not sure why there was egg production after so many years, and it hasn’t happened again in quite some time. Apparently, one way you can tell the sex of your parakeet is by the color of the cere (the area just above the beak). For some reason I have never been able to decipher Priscilla’s color. It always seems to look different when I check it.

She loves hanging out on her swing or a wooden branch to watch the daily hustle and bustle. She always has fresh water and birdseed, and a cuttle bone to keep her beak in good shape. It appears that Priscilla does not like treats, because she never touches anything I offer her, yet she eats her seed just fine. She has a bunch of toys which I rotate to keep her from becoming bored. Her one constant is the swing, because I know that she loves it.

I may be a novice when it comes to birds, but I must be doing something right, because the first bird I ever had continues to enjoy a long, healthy life. Elvis/Priscilla is a handsome/pretty bird who is quite loved.

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Priscilla!