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

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

What’s in the (Bye Bye) Bag?

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Fun and Functional

More people and pets spend time outside when the weather is nice. What items do you bring along for your canine companion when you’re spending quality time together away from home? Let’s take a look inside what I call the “Bye bye Bag,” which carried the essentials for Moose and Red when they had an active social life.

The Bag. I preferred a backpack to hold the boys’ gear. It’s easier to carry, especially if you’re juggling multiple leashes. Of course, it can be fun as well as functional. Since my dogs are male, their backpack is blue, with a cute bone-shaped keychain hanging from it. (Moose and Red had a bag charm before they became a thing).

Water Canteen. This is essential for travel. Mine has a detachable dish to make watering your pet a breeze, and the shoulder strap makes carrying it easy.

Bellybands and Pads. For males only, this garment protects the indoor areas, such as a friend’s home, from territory marking and incontinence. They wrap around the dog’s waist, covering the boy bits.

Hand Sanitizer. You never know when you will have to deal with something unpleasant, and sometimes water for hand washing isn’t readily available.

Flea and Tick Comb. I don’t think this is a necessity for Italian Greyhounds because their coat is so short, but I found it in the bag.

Car Sickness Preventative. I don’t recall if the all-natural remedy helped Red or not with his car sickness.

Tweezers. For tick removal.

Pill Box. I believe I had Benadryl in it, with dosage instructions from the vet along with the box. I carried this in case of any bug bites or stings, as I have seen Moose’s muzzle swell up first hand after a previous insect encounter.

Poop Bags. This should be one of the first items to pack. They are available in fancy refillable dispensers that hang from the leash, but plastic grocery bags work just as well.

Baby Sunscreen. I used this on both Moose and Red. Dogs can get skin cancer, and I would put this on their snouts, as well as the top of Moose’s head when his fur began thinning.

Collapsible Food Bowl and Container of Food. Because some playdates last into the evening, there’s no reason your pet should miss his or her scheduled meals (unless car sickness is an issue).

Spray Bottle with Water. I used this to break up minor skirmishes, or to cool other dogs’ unwanted romantic overtures towards my boys.

Baby Wipes. These are good to freshen up your dog after a long day of fun, and before heading home.

Of course, the contents of your bag may vary depending on the activity and breed of your dog. You should also consult your vet before packing anything that you plan to give to your dog orally or topically. (Please keep in mind that what I packed for my dogs may not necessarily be good for your dog, so use your judgment). With a little planning, you and your pet can have lots of fun together away from home.

Whats in the Bye bye Bag (2)

Bellyband

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!

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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

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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.

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When Does Compassion Become Cruel?

 

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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?

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