Sir Lumpsalot

Sir Lumpsalot (1)

Oh Look Another Lump

Of the two dogs, Red is far lumpier than Moose. Moose has had fewer lumps needing removal, while Red seems to be a magnet for them. None of the masses have ever proved to be dangerous, but Red has had so many that we started to call him Sir Lumpsalot.

The latest bump was found by accident. We keep baby wipes by the door to clean the dogs after they come in from outside. We wipe down their front legs (the boys have always had bad aim), and their undercarriage before putting their man pants back on them. One day I felt something unusual, and on further inspection saw a growth on the outside of Red’s boy bit. It had a decent size to it, like a pencil eraser, and was pink in color. (Trust me on this, I’m withholding the photo for Red’s modesty). I wasted no time making a vet appointment to have the growth checked.

I figured that whatever it was would need to be removed, but the vet first took a sample of the offending growth in the office. She was looking to see if it was a mast cell tumor. My heart sank. I knew from various dog social media groups that they were bad news. The couple minutes that it took waiting for the results felt like an eternity. My mind raced to all sorts of worst-case scenarios while the vet was out of the room.

She came in and told us that no mast cells were found. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. While that was great news, it still required removal while Red was under anesthesia. That came as no surprise.

We made an appointment for the procedure. Red is a senior, but he doesn’t have the underlying health conditions that Moose has. It would be a quick process, and he wouldn’t be under long. Anxiety is my middle name, so the day of the removal I was a mess. Red on the other hand was just fine.

We sat in the waiting room for Red to be called back. I held him the entire time, and when I had to turn him over to the vet tech, I put on a brave face, saving my tears for the ride home. He had gone through similar procedures several times in the past, so it’s routine to all of us by now. I trust our vet implicitly.

Everything went well. My day dragged on as they always do when you can’t wait to pick up your fur kid in the evening after work. When I saw him, he was rid of the annoying mass, now replaced by three dissolvable purple stitches. All my usual worrying was for naught when we received the call that the growth was indeed benign! The only problem with this latest repair is that he was unable to wear man pants for a couple weeks. Our carpets took a beating for a little while, but Sir Lumpsalot lives to accumulate more lumps!

Sir Lumpsalot (2)

Scar from Previous Lump Removal

Dog Food Drama

Dog Food Drama (2)

Food Boycott in Progress

Why is it that dogs sometimes just stop eating their food, with no apparent medical issue the cause? I’m sure if I ate the same thing every day, I would grow tired of it, too. I don’t mind switching up their food, but why do they boycott it just after I’ve bought more cases of it?

Red is our household food critic. For a dog that once gifted his grandmother a bird he found in the yard, he has discerning taste. One day he stopped eating his usual canned food. Moose eats prescription food, so I can’t pawn off Red’s food on him, lest I upset Moose’s sensitive tummy. Make no mistake, Moose will eat ANYTHING. This is only the second occasion in Red’s life that I can remember him staging a food boycott.

At first I thought maybe he had a reason behind leaving his bowl near full, as he’s a senior guy. Sometimes he won’t eat much in the morning, but will empty his dish in the evening. I thought that was what was happening until I noticed the bowls weren’t being emptied.

It turned out that he was hungry and wanted food, just not that food. He was far more interested in what everyone else had to eat. He even found cat food appealing. That’s when I knew we were in food boycott mode.

The first boycott came while he was eating the chicken and rice recipe from a well-known brand. He and Moose ate it with gusto, until Red decided he didn’t want it anymore. I bought more varieties of the same brand until I found one that he loved. I have found that for Red, food love is fleeting.

Red ate every other flavor that I bought, so I chose a canned formulation of turkey, duck, and chicken as his main meal. He devoured it. When our usual pet food store ran out of the cans, I scoured other retailers in search of this magic blend. He seemed appreciative of my efforts, gobbling up the concoction. Then came the day he just stopped eating it.

We are currently in the process of changing his food. I have again purchased different flavors in the same brand, hoping that one will get his seal of approval. The kicker is, he will eat any flavor that is different from his current food. I think he enjoys variety, so perhaps that’s what we’ll do to prevent any boycotts due to boredom. Variety is the spice of life, right?

For the record, Red is more finicky than any cat I have had when it comes to food. What do I do with the rejected cans of dog food? When it comes to people, I hate to get rid of something someone else can use. The majority of my stuff gets donated somewhere. The same is true with cast off dog food. I’m sure there are dogs who would be happy to take Red’s food off his paws and enjoy it as he once did, so it gets donated to a shelter or rescue group. Bon appétit from Mr. Red!

Dog Food Drama (1)

Food Boycott Over

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