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.

Nite Nite Bedtime

NIte NIte Bedtime (1)

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.

NIte NIte Bedtime (2)

Serious Sleeper

Meal Time Mayhem

Meal Time Mayhem (2)

Pantry Shelf Meal Prep

I mentioned in a previous post that feeding time is a production in my house. We have two dogs and four cats, not to mention the bunny. Here’s why keeping them all alive can be a bit time consuming.

Breakfast is served at 6:00 a.m. during the week. Sometimes it’s the same time on the weekends, and other times it may be an hour or two late. The dogs are at an age where they would rather sleep than eat, but the cats remind us when it’s past feeding time.

I gather the six bowls and line them up on one of the pantry shelves. I don’t try to get everything together on the counter because I think I will be bombarded with cats, although hubby does this with no problem. They are content to gather at my feet during meal preparation. I start with the cats. I open one large can of wet food and distribute it among four bowls. Dry food is then mixed in with the wet food. Done! The cats are easy. No one is on medication.

The dogs’ meal prep is more involved. Each dog gets wet food, because Moose and Red no longer eat dry food. Not only have they started refusing it in their old age, but Moose has 14 teeth and Red has 12 teeth. (Dogs should have 42 teeth). I figure that they have made it this far, so I am not going to force the issue. I’m just thankful that they still have good appetites. Since they eat exclusively dry food, I put a teaspoon of canned pumpkin on top to help prevent loose stools. Following the pumpkin begins the med distribution.

I cut up one chondroitin/glucosamine chew into quarters, and each dog bowl gets a quarter, saving the other two quarters for the next day. Moose has a probiotic capsule that I open and sprinkle onto his food for his frequent tummy grumbles. Red gets a quarter of a pill for his nervousness and Moose gets a tablet for his heart. Whew!

After all the food prep, it’s time to eat! The dogs eat first, in their separate crates. Moose was food aggressive when he was younger, so we learned early on that eating apart from Red was best. I give Red his bowl first, which sits atop paper towels, because he is a slob who will get the concoction all over the crate floor. Next comes Moose, no paper towels required.

By now the cats have zero patience. Vlad gets shuffled into the laundry room, Tiki gets her bowl on the counter, Tiger eats in the bathroom, and Barnabas gets his food in our room. I would love to just feed them all together, but I doubt that would be possible. Vlad in particular is a chow hound; he is always trolling for any leftovers from his brothers and sister. This method works well for keeping track of who is eating and who may not be at any given time. I don’t free feed, meaning I do not leave dry food out during the day for the cats to graze. Our beloved Ozzy was on a strict food regimen, so we’re not used to leaving food out anyway.

After breakfast the dogs go outdoors, come in and snooze on the couch. The cats are sometimes seen but not heard from until it’s time for dinner. They are grateful for all the food prep, right?

Meal Time Mayhem (1)

Tiki Seems to Have an Opinion on the Cuisine We Serve

The Beat Goes On

The Beat Goes On (2)

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.

The Beat Goes On (1)

Chillin on the Couch

Old Dog Accommodations

Old Dog Accommodations (2)

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.

Old Dog Accommodations (1)

Water for Pups

Nail Trim Time

Nail Trim Trauma (2)

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

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.

Senior Pup Update (1)

Moose