The Beat Still Goes On

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Moose’s cardiology appointment is always stressful for everyone. It’s a matter of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Of course, I hope that his heart is no worse for the wear, but the fact remains that he is a dog of 17 years. Even though he is enjoying a long lifespan (he would be in his nineties in human years), the inevitable bad news we receive one day will still be shocking.

A cardiology appointment requires a day off from work, as it’s a comprehensive visit. Moose’s doctor practices in a large city out of state, which means that his dad escorts him to the visits. My better half is a pro at driving in big cities, while I am terrified of the idea. I can handle appointments solo if they’re in the suburbs.

Both of us are nervous before the appointment, but it is my better half that has to hear the results, good or bad. (For this reason I can’t say that I am envious that he goes to these appointments without me). He leaves our boy at the hospital for a few hours to undergo an exam and testing. The good thing about the city is that there is always something to do to pass the time, in walking distance from the hospital. Still, even though he finds ways to occupy himself, I’m sure it seems like an eternity until he can be reunited with Moose.

We have observed no serious deterioration in Moose’s health, other than a little stiffness when walking; a bit of an anti-inflammatory twice a day has greatly improved this issue. He does not seem to get winded, and we haven’t heard him coughing, which are all good signs that the heart condition hasn’t worsened.

When asked if Moose was still a candidate for teeth cleanings under sedation, the vet thought it best to leave well enough alone. Unless Moose were unable to eat due to a tooth issue, we were advised to forego any unnecessary dental procedures notwithstanding an emergency. Italian greyhounds are notorious for having bad teeth, with some pups requiring so many to be pulled that dogs are sometimes left with their tongues hanging out. So far neither Moose nor Red have lost the necessary teeth to cause this. To be honest, this was something I dreaded and hoped would never happen to them. (Although they would still be adorable).

I am pleased to report that Moose’s condition has remained status quo since his diagnosis three years ago. He has chronic degenerative valve disease, but he is not yet in heart failure. Moose remains on the same dosage of medication, as it seems to work well for him. I only pray that his disease progression is moving along at a snail’s pace. While I am elated over this news that he hasn’t gotten much worse, next on the radar is the boys’ annual checkups. Senior bloodwork will be done, and I hope that it won’t reveal any underlying problems. As I mentioned, we have recently added an anti-inflammatory medication to their routine to help with age-related joint stiffness. They haven’t had kidney issues in the past, but we need to be sure with the new drug. Every day with senior pets is a gift, one that I never take for granted.

The Beat Still Goes On (1)

The Moo, The Myth, The Legend

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Happy 17th Birthday Moose!

If you said I would have a dog live to 14, I would be hopeful. If you said he would live to 15, I would be skeptical. Over 15? That’s crazy, yet here we are. Tomorrow Moose turns 17 years old, an advanced age for a canine.

He was our first puppy, and we made mistakes with him. For starters, we botched crate training. We didn’t know we were supposed to limit the space in his crate. We gave him a big crate, and we spent many late nights cleaning a dirty puppy as a result. We finally got the gist of it, and Moose became well housetrained, which is a major challenge with Italian greyhounds. That is one of the biggest reasons this breed is surrendered.

I remember being scolded on our first trip to the pet store. He was the tiniest, cutest puppy on the planet (if I do say so myself). As such, I was excited to show him off. I didn’t realize how dangerous that was, as he was a bit too young and hadn’t had all of his shots. He could have picked up something from other canine shoppers just by being on the floor. Fortunately he didn’t, and we only returned when he was fully vaccinated. He was always social and looked forward to adventures outside of the house and yard.

His first official bath (aside from the spot cleaning due to crate messes) was by a groomer. This person picked him up by his front legs at their initial meeting, and I should have canceled the appointment right then and there. Instead I spent the entire time he was getting bathed a nervous wreck. He emerged clean and in great shape, but after that experience, it was puppy shampoo and the bathtub at home from that day forward. Italian greyhounds don’t require much grooming when it comes to their coats. A bath a handful of times a year is sufficient, and Moose would agree, as they were never his favorite activity.

The first time I heard a reverse sneeze I was hysterical. It’s sort of a weird wheeze, basically their way of clearing out their nose. I thought for sure my little guy was fatally ill. It turns out that they’re normal and common in small breed dogs. Whew.

Moose’s first birthday was memorable. I bought him some sort of all-natural doggie cake online. What a disaster; he was so sick after eating it that I thought for sure his first birthday would be his last. I would be more careful about special treats in later years. Of course, his special day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the store for a toy. We let him pick out his own special gift, and squeaky toys were his favorites.

Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the time we have had together. I never expected him to live this long; that’s an old age even for a small-breed dog. His health may be declining, but I treasure every moment with my senior pup.

Happy 17th Birthday Moose!!! I Love You!!!

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Flashback to Moose’s 5th Birthday Party

Exciting Announcement II

Exciting Announcement II

I am pleased to announce that I am again a contributing author, this time in Carol M. Ford’s Golden Linings II: More Tiny Tales about Pets, for Pets. As with the first Golden Linings, author proceeds from sales are donated to animal rescue groups and shelters. As a writer and animal lover, I am proud to have contributed two tales. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, details can be found here. The animals and I thank you for your support!

Also, Tails of Mirth & Madness is now on Instagram! Check it out here.

Appreciating the Black Cat’s Gotcha Day

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He Loves Me . . .

Yesterday was Black Cat Appreciation Day, which coincides well with today. It was three years ago on this date that we adopted Vlad, the most awesome of all black kitties. (I might be just a tad biased).

I appreciate all the cats I have known and loved, but black cats have their own special day. Black kittens and cats are not adopted as often as their counterparts in different colors. There’s a stigma attached to them, which is a shame, because to know one is to love one. Black Cat Appreciation Day raises awareness of just how awesome black cats are.

Since Halloween is my favorite holiday, I wanted a black cat and Vlad more than fit the bill. For me, looks are secondary to personality, and three of my current cats picked me. (Barnabas picked my husband, wrapping him around his little paw at their first meeting). This time I sought a black cat, but he had to have a great personality, one that would mesh with the resident cats.

What I love about Vlad is how lovable he is. They say shelter pets seem to know when they have been rescued, and show their appreciation to their new owners. Vlad shows it every day in little ways.

I love to kiss the top of his big plush head. The neatest thing about Vlad that I have never seen another cat do is return kisses. For every peck on the top of his head, I get a nose lick. It’s automatic, like he knows how to give kisses back. It really is endearing.

Vlad and Tiki are both lap cats, with a preference for hanging out with me. (The two gingers are more Daddy’s boys). Sometimes they vie for lap space, with Tiki more often than not getting the prime seat. That’s just as well, as she has higher seniority.

When Vlad is able to jump in my lap, he does it with gusto. While Tiki is 11 pounds, Vlad is more. How much more I’m not sure until his next vet appointment, but suffice it to say that he is beefier than his sister.

Sometimes he will bop you in the face with his giant black head. I think this is somewhat new for him, possibly learned from resident head butter Barnabas. After that, he makes himself comfortable. He likes to curl up under your arm, completely outstretched, big black feet extended. He was a long cat, lanky when we adopted him. He’s still long, but not so lanky these days.

If you think working will keep you safe from Vlad’s affection, you would be wrong. He has no problem standing on whatever you’re reading until you acknowledge him. If you’re working on your computer, he likes to sprawl out in your arms or on your lap while you try to type. On your phone? He will gnaw on the corner of it. Writing something long hand? The writing implement will be chewed.

Sometimes he can be annoying in his quest for affection, but of course, you have to give in and lavish Vlad with lots of love. He’s my cuddle bug and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

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. . . And I Love Him

Nite Nite Bedtime

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Zzzzz

When my brother was little, he would grab his pj’s and tell our mom he was ready for bed. He was one kid who looked forward to bedtime, while I tried to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Now I have a doggie equivalent of my brother, a pup who can’t wait to go to bed.

Red’s bed is our bed. Known as “velcro dogs,” Italian greyhounds love to cuddle close, and most of the time they sleep under the covers with their owners. If you think that’s weird or gross, this might not be the breed for you. We have baby gates keeping the boys in the family room, where we are most of the time in the evening. The gates prevent access to the rest of the house, including the bedroom, located on the first floor of our Cape Cod.

When Red would like to go to bed, the pacing and staring start. If that fails to get any notice, he ups his game by grabbing a toy if one is laying around, and walking to the baby gate and staring at the bedroom door. He continues to pace back and forth to the baby gate with a toy in his mouth, before dropping it and barking at us as a last resort.

Even though we know what he wants, all we have to do is ask the magic question, “Nite, nite bedtime?” This gets Red even more riled up. By this time we have to relent, but not before he goes outdoors one last time. As soon as he returns from doing his final business of the night, he runs into the bedroom, the baby gate already removed. When he was younger, he could jump onto the bed and start burrowing by himself. Now he will bark to let someone know he is ready and needs help. We turn down all the covers before picking him up and placing him onto the mattress. He wastes no time burrowing under, although sometimes he plants himself too close to the edge for my liking, so I scoot him closer to the center of the bed. We cover him up, turn on the fan (weather permitting), leave the light on low, and he is content to stay there the rest of the night. He is even generous to move over when the humans come to bed.

You may be reading this and think, “What about Moose?” Moose doesn’t do any of this. When Red goes into bed, Moose is content to hang out with us on the couch. Once in a while he will join his brother, but he often won’t stay settled until we come in with them. Red on the other hand knows we will come in eventually, and that is good enough for him.

I never thought I would have a dog I would have to tuck into bed. This is something that makes Red unique, and I just love it about him. I wouldn’t change this little guy for anything.

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Serious Sleeper

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