Yearly Tune Up

Yearly Tune Up (2)

Is It Our Turn to See the Doctor? 

The pups recently had their annual well visit at the vet. Of course, it’s not one of their favorite places to be, but for them it’s a necessary evil. Moose is often open to visiting other patients in the waiting room, while Red tries to blend into the floor in hopes no one will notice him. It never works, but yet he tries.

We were ushered into an exam room. The boys were in for a bit more than a nail trim, but we included that service in the appointment. Red now has a heart murmur that was barely detectable through the doctor’s stethoscope. He is hard of hearing, and we know that he can still see, but we’re not sure to what extent. He is doing exceptionally well with his aquapuncture treatments that he receives from another practice. (As he will no longer stay still for the time required for acupuncture, he now receives aquapuncture injections instead).

Moose’s heart murmur is worse than Red’s, but remains unchanged since last year’s visit. He requires no treatment for it at this time. Although we believe he is a year older than Red, his vision and hearing are better.

While Moose needed one vaccine, Red needed two, as they are not on the same schedule when it comes to inoculations. I felt bad for both of them, but more so for Red because he had aquapuncture only four days before his checkup. The poor guy must have felt like a pincushion.

Since both dogs are microchipped, we make it a habit of scanning them at their annual appointment. Chips can migrate or become unreadable, but both were easily found and read by the scanner. I doubt if either of our boys would go missing given that they no longer have an active social life (playdates), but you can’t be too careful.

Next month they will both go in for their dental appointment. Red did not have a dental last year because he was in bad shape; he could not stand, let alone walk. Now that he has recovered, his mouth requires much needed attention. Of course, both dogs will have bloodwork done the day of the procedure to be sure it’s safe for them to undergo the dental. Their existing heart issues should not preclude them from having the procedure.

A couple days following the vet visit, we received a call that their stool samples tested negative for any parasites. At least this year their samples actually made it to the vet’s office. At last year’s appointment, we arrived only to discover that the paper bag containing their samples was missing. We know we left the house with it, but I think in the process of loading the car with dogs, the bag was put on top of the car and forgotten. Oops.

So now the boys have had their tune ups, and next month we await the dental appointment. The bottom line is I am happy to report that both dogs are in good shape for their ages, 14 and 15 respectively.

Yearly Tune Up (1)

“If I blend into the floor, the vet won’t see me.”

Happy 2018!


Red and Moose Doing What They Do Best, Nothing

It’s been quite a while since I’ve visited this site, but here I am. I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start, holding in store for you far more mirth than madness. In fact, I’ve decided to take this blog mainly in the direction of mirth, involving my beloved pets.

Why the change? There is so much anger and negativity in the world, and I don’t feel a need to contribute to that. I found that I have become a much more compassionate person, and my attitudes towards things have changed. You never know what someone is going through, so it’s best to be kind. People can change for the better. I yearn to see a glass half full, instead of half empty and cracked. I hope I am growing in a positive direction, and see things in a more positive light. As a result, this site will be a lot about my pets, and with 4 cats and 2 dogs, I think they will provide me with plenty of content. (Sometimes I may offer a random, positive musing).

One thing that I feel blessed about is still having my two dogs (knocks on wood) after some difficulties earlier in 2017. I’m happy to report that Red is still receiving monthly aquapuncture (vitamin injections, as he no longer wants to be still for acupuncture) and is continuing to do very well. Moose now has a heart valve leak, but it does not require medication at this time. In fact, there is also a chance that it will never worsen, but we continue to monitor his condition.

Moose had a photo with Santa before we adopted Red, and they may have had a photo taken together early on, but I honestly can’t remember. Their combined age of 29 prompted me to take them in for a photo. The process was extremely well run, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Also, proceeds went to an animal charity, which was great.

Moose is 15, and Red is 14. It’s tough seeing them grow old, knowing that their best years are behind them. I treasure the time we have together, and I try to spend as much time with them as I can, because I know I will be devastated when they leave me. My good friend growing up had a black lab/border collie mix that lived to 21, so my fingers are crossed for my boys’ longevity. Love those sweet seniors!

Belly Bands and Brothers


You may know that I have two dogs, Moose and Red. You may also have noticed that they are always wearing an article of clothing in most of their inside pictures. So what is that material that wraps around them?

What the brothers are wearing are commonly known as belly bands, or weenie wraps, or squirt stoppers. As the names imply, these are specifically geared toward male dogs. In our house we call them man pants.

Their purpose is to be used as a housetraining tool. They also prevent your canine companion from marking his territory in inappropriate places, such as against the refrigerator or curtains; not that my angels have ever done such things. If you have an incontinent dog, they’re good for that, too. They’re not meant to be worn at all times, but . . .

Italian Greyhounds are a notoriously difficult breed to housetrain, unlike their larger cousins whippets and greyhounds. They do not like wind, rain, or the cold. Unless the conditions are optimal, there’s a good chance your little guy will run back into the house to do his business, no matter how long you have kept them outside on potty watch.

Because of their lack of reliability in the house training department, this is the reason they are most often surrendered to shelters and rescues. I hear they can be taught to go inside in a designated area, but that’s something I haven’t attempted.

Moose had very good potty habits when he was young. He was neutered at 6 months of age, and taught himself to ring the bells on the back door when he had to relieve himself. Nowadays he rings the bells and jumps on the couch to steal your spot when you get up to let him out.

Moose was three when we adopted Red, and that’s when the problems started. The Petfinder ad did mention that Red wasn’t housetrained but was smart and would learn quickly. Oh how wrong they were. Red’s arrival launched pee fest, with both dogs becoming leg lifters in the house, even though both were neutered.

We discovered belly bands, which enabled us to keep the boys in their forever homes. The brand we like uses fleece, and has elastic along both sides, similar to Huggies diapers. The fabric wraps around the dog, covering the boy bits, and is fastened at the top with Velcro. For extra absorbency we line the band with a feminine pad from the dollar store. Of course I would prefer them to go au naturel, but that’s not an option for them, especially in their advanced age. I think they’re adorable just the same.



When Does Compassion Become Cruel?



When Ozzy left me suddenly last June, I think he knew something I didn’t. I would need all my resources and energy to care for another ill fur family member. I believe Ozzy planned that time to go, somehow with the knowledge that one of his canine brothers would suffer ill health.

Red is our rescued Italian Greyhound, adopted into our family at the age of 1 or 2. We noticed recently that he “knuckled,” walking on the first bend of his paws, akin to human wrists. In fact, his paws bend all the way back, resembling flippers. He stumbled when he walked, which worsened quickly. To better accommodate him, we covered our kitchen floor with yoga mats for better mobility. We also moved a water dish into the family room, so he wouldn’t have to climb the two steps into the kitchen.

Our regular vet checked him and believed he suffered from a neurological problem. We consulted a specialist in Philadelphia, who believed Red’s issue was centered in his neck. This vet thought he had a herniated disc causing the problem. It was a better diagnosis than a brain tumor, but it was still disheartening.

There were two options to treat his condition. We could opt for medicinal help, using prednisone to see if that would give him any improvement in his mobility. We could try to keep him on the lowest dose possible. The other option was surgery. Red would need an MRI at the cost of $2,500 to see the exact cause of his problem. The specialist cautioned us that he would only operate on our dog if the problem were clear from the test and he thought surgery would help. Surgery would be an additional $3,000. Of course, he told us we had to decide if we wanted to put a 12, possibly 13 year old dog through that. We decided on the prednisone, reminding me of all the times I gave it to Ozzy. In fact, we still had some of his pills left to now give to Red.

We tried different dosages of the prednisone with varying degrees of success. One pill per day worked the best, but that wasn’t saying much. His conditioned worsened to outright falling over on his side. Back to our regular vet we went, where I asked how much prednisone he could tolerate. Two and a half pills per day would be the maximum, but it would cause muscle loss, his head eventually becoming misshapen. There was no way I could do that to him, I would see him euthanized first.

Although Red’s condition is shocking to anyone who sees him, other than this, he is healthy, and that is our dilemma. They say you know when it’s time to say goodbye, but I’m not getting that vibe from him. On one hand, he’s almost totally immobile at this point. His best times are when he first wakes up, he’s able to toddle around on his wrists. His back end isn’t much better, but it’s better than the front. He needs to be carried everywhere. When outside he sometimes needs to be steadied to relieve himself. He can stand most of the time to eat and drink, with a spotter nearby so he doesn’t fall over and choke.

We realize his best days are behind him and our time together grows short. Still, even though he has limited mobility, he has joy in his life. He loves to lay on our couch and snuggle with Moose, our 14 year old Italian Greyhound. He loves sleeping between us at night, secure that he won’t roll out of bed. He’s not missing out on walks (he never liked leaving his house), or running around anymore, as at his age he’s a couch potato. His appetite is as good as it was before he was on the prednisone.

The vet tells us he is not in pain. Every time we’re in the yard and he falls into a heap on the grass, I worry that the neighbors are calling the doggie version of DYFS. I feel judgmental eyes on me when I carry him into the vet’s office. We carry him everywhere he needs or wants to be; I’ve even Googled living with a paralyzed dog, although Red can feel and move all of his legs, he doesn’t know where they are, which is how our vet put it.

Two vets recommended against the surgery due to his age. Younger dogs have had the surgery and recovered, with another 10 years ahead of them. We know we don’t have that long with Red (although I had a friend whose dog lived to 21).

So it leaves me to wonder, when does compassion become cruel?



To Red, with Love

When our first Italian Greyhound was about three years old, we decided he needed a playmate. Moose enjoyed the playdates we attended, so we thought he might like a canine companion at home, as he had formed a close bond with our chronically ill cat.

By now we knew about the evil puppy mills behind the cute pet shop puppies. We opted to rescue our next dog. Through Petfinder we found an Italian Greyhound in the care of a central New Jersey animal welfare society. His profile told one story, but the organization told us quite a different tale once we arrived to meet the dog.

The pup was being held at a private home. It was a noisy environment; we were greeted by barking dogs and screaming kids. Knowing this sensitive breed, it wasn’t a good place for an Italian Greyhound.

His name was Red, and he had zero interest in meeting us. In fact, he was under a table and wouldn’t come out. Even the lure of meatballs wasn’t enough to convince him to greet us. The table had to be moved, and he needed to be grabbed and brought to us.

No kisses, no asking to be petted, nothing. Just shaking. I thought I heard his teeth chattering. The foster mom gave us a leash and invited us to take Red for a walk. Why would he want to do that when he couldn’t stand being near us?

Out on the front lawn we walked, my husband holding the leash. A funny thing about this little dog, he couldn’t walk, at least not the way he should. He didn’t stand upright, he walked low to the ground like a crab. He wasn’t in the best condition. His teeth were an interesting shade of green, you could almost smell him before you saw him. He was skinny, even by Italian Greyhound standards. One of his front legs bowed due to a previous broken leg. Red was in poor shape, both physically and mentally. The foster mom told us the real story behind the cute Petfinder photo. Red was “rescued” from a puppy mill by an animal hoarder, so he went from one sad situation to another.

We knew Red was more than we could deal with, and not the right dog for us. However, we couldn’t leave him in that chaotic house, worsening his fragile condition. To make matters worse, he had been neutered just the day before and was recovering from that.

We paid the adoption fee, the foster mom administered some vaccines, and off we went with a dog who really didn’t seem to care for us at all. We brought Moose on the trip to meet his potential sibling and they got on well.

Red was more than we bargained for. I never thought he wouldn’t know about grass, which is why he walked low to the ground like a crab. I don’t think he was anywhere other than a cage in the beginning of his life. He learned from Moose how to play in the yard. Our other dog also taught him how to use stairs, because Red didn’t know how to get in our house when we brought him home.

First Day Home (2005)

Red had an upsetting habit of growling at my husband, complete with raised hackles. He would also follow him and bark whenever Ted moved about the house. Sometimes he nipped the back of his legs, drawing blood a time or two. If Ted tried to put a leash on him, Red would launch himself into a wall to get away.

I had taken three days off from work to get Red acclimated to the family. All Red did was growl and bark, which brought me to tears. I wanted to love him, but I didn’t like him at all.

We took Red to our vet, a fellow Italian Greyhound owner. Red was red fawn in color with a black mask, approximately 1 to 2 years old. I was surprised he was so fancy, I just thought he was brown. We got him microchipped because who wouldn’t want a miserable little creature returned to them? He was in bad need of a dental, and needed to gain weight. The vet confirmed his leg issue, it was broken at one point and was never set. The bones fused together to form the irregular shape. Tests showed he had a parasite called giardia, which meant both dogs needed to be treated.

Once Red was repaired medically, we attempted to fix his damaged mental state. We tried trainers, behaviorists, and even a pet psychic to get to the bottom of Red’s issues.

Red has been a member of our family for 10 years this April. He still follows his daddy around the house barking. He only does this when my husband is standing or walking. If he’s sitting down, Red is curled up beside him. If we’re out of the house, Red acts normally toward him with no barking. It’s the strangest thing.

As annoying as Red’s barking is, this bad habit saved his life. When his voice changed to a muffle we knew something was wrong. He was also having difficulty breathing. Another trip to our vet diagnosed a salivary mucocele, a benign growth so far back in his throat that it blocked his airway. Red had surgery to remove the salivary gland at an out-of-state veterinary hospital and his voice returned to normal.

At first Red was a mistake, but over time he turned into a loving little dog. He does go for walks and playdates although I know he prefers to stay home. He and Moose love each other, and Moose taught him how to be a dog. It took Red a while to play with toys, but now he carries one wherever he goes.

Red is more crazy than Moose. He’s always doing something to make us smile. His exact age and birthdate are unknown but, as with Moose, we hope we have many more years together, and forever wouldn’t be long enough. Red also answers to Reddy, Reddywhip, Whips, Whippers, Snips, and Reddywhippersnapper. Whatever we call him, he is considered family. I love you, Red.


Red Dog in a Blue Cone

Our two Italian Greyhounds recently had a routine dental procedure and while they were sedated, common canine growths were removed.  This is all part of their annual routine care, but it is an upsetting ordeal nonetheless, at least for my husband and me.  Sighthounds are sensitive to anesthesia, and it seems like an eternity passes before the vet calls with a post-surgery report.

Our boys were brought to us following a briefing with the vet.  Each had tooth extractions, but only Red had lumps removed necessitating an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from removing his stitches.  The collar was a soft blue cone, and I wondered how he felt about it.

He looked silly.  It was too large for him, and it appeared to swallow his head.  From the side you couldn’t see his muzzle, he resembled a lampshade with a dog body.

I wonder if he felt as ridiculous as he looked.  Did he cringe as we left the vet, passing other dogs on the way out?  I don’t think he cared, as he was still under the influence of the anesthesia.  Was our other dog Moose now embarrassed to be seen with him?  I don’t think he cared, either, as he was also still a bit loopy.

When all of his faculties were restored, Red ran through the house with a swoosh.  If curtains could run, this is the sound they would make.  Swoosh.  Then a crinkle.  It took Red a bit to adjust to the size of the cone.  He would scrape it along doorways and walls as he ran.  SwooshCrinkle.

Red answered my unspoken question as to his affinity (or lack thereof) for the cone.  I came home one day to a Red dog missing a blue cone.  It was left in a wad on the crate floor.  Red was pleased with himself, wagging his tail at me, but I was not pleased to discover that stitches from one wound were removed, exposing bone.

Off we went for repairs, the blue cone in tow.  Not only did Red receive three staples in lieu of stitches, but the blue cone was tied even tighter.  Poor boy.  One more week to go until he is the Red dog no longer in a blue cone.

Red the Dog

Red the Dog