Thursday, October 31, 2013
His name was Han Solo, and he was coming into Secondhand Hounds, a local rescue. He needed a foster home, but I dismissed the idea immediately; the timing was terrible. Not only had Maisy just recently started feeling better, but her vet care had completely drained me financially. Add to that the fact that my friend Laura was going on a two-week vacation, leaving me in charge of her dog Maus. One doggie acquaintance and one doggie stranger at the same time? I'm not that dumb.
I'm really not sure why, but I kept going back to this dog. Now, it wasn't just his adorable scruffiness- like I said, my friends have been playing the "post muppety dogs to Crystal's Facebook" for awhile now. There was just something in his expression.
I don't really remember why, but that Thursday, I was telling my friend Nicky about him over lunch. Of course she encouraged me to foster him. I figured that something so cute was probably already spoken for, but I went back to that original Facebook thread and asked if he had a place to go when he arrived.
I filled out the foster application, clearly noting that if he got along with Maisy and my cat, I would probably become a foster failure rather than a foster home. I anxiously waited for them to check my references and contact my landlord, but soon enough I was approved to foster.
If I thought waiting for that was hard, waiting for him to arrive was even harder. Originally scheduled to arrive on Sunday, he actually ended up getting here eight days later. It was nerve wracking. I was so scared it was going to fall through.
In the end, it was probably a good thing; it gave me time to thoughtfully make some lists of what I wanted- and didn't!- in a dog. At the encouragement of my bestie, Sara, I was very, very specific. What exactly did it mean to be cat aggressive? Precisely how much reactivity was I willing to work with?
He's lived with us for about 72 hours now, and I'm 99.99% sure that I will be adopting him. I'm going to wait another week or so, just to make sure nothing awful pops up, but other than the fact that he's an adolescent terrier-mix, he's pretty awesome.
I know you probably have some questions- about the "foster" dog, about how Maisy is doing, what was on my lists- and I'll update you as I can. But I'll admit, this dog has way, way more energy than Maisy does, and I'm exhausted!
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
I’m amazed at how well Maisy is doing… and feeling bad because it’s (now) obvious that Maisy was not feeling well for quite awhile. Over the summer she became hesitant to jump in the car. Since she didn’t seem to have trouble getting on the furniture or the bed, I thought maybe she was getting carsick. Nope. She’s now bouncing into the car, even running to it hopefully at other times. Well okay then!
I’d also forgotten how much ENERGY this dog has. She’s been a nutcase (in a good way): having evening zoomies again, playing with the cat, even playing with obnoxious adolescent chi-mixes. Although she had never stopped playing ball, she’s redoubled (retripled? requadrupled?) her ball-bringing efforts. It’s getting a bit obnoxious, honestly.
Not that I’m complaining! I’m so thrilled to see her feeling so well! She clearly feels better than before she got sick. Yay steroids! I’m so relieved she hasn’t had any negative behavioral side effects with them.
Bladder-health-wise, Maisy had a urinalysis on Saturday. I had at done at 3 weeks, which was a bit early (she needs them every 4 to 6 weeks for awhile), but counting is hard. Or something. I’m not sure how I did that.
At any rate, it makes the results THAT MUCH MORE exciting as they came back pretty good. Ideally, she should have a urine pH of less than 6.5 and a specific gravity (USG) of less than 1.020. Maisy’s pH was 6.5 on the dot and she had NO crystals! Yay! Her USG was high: 1.050, which means that her urine was more concentrated than we want. We did do the test first thing in the morning, so it had probably been 10-12 hours since she had peed last, but either way, I need to encourage fluid intake. Which is so hard with this dog.
We will continue to check her urine every 4 to 6 weeks for six months (when she is due for an ultrasound to confirm there are no stones). The vet- our regular practice vet, not from the hospital- and I discussed other preventative things we could do; she agreed that while effective, the prescription diet is nasty, so in a few months I’ll be consulting with a nutritionist to get a raw/home cooked diet formulated for her. The vet also recommended probiotics and a cranberry supplement (which I already started Maisy on).
Any suggestions for increasing fluid intake? I’ve tried broths (usually but not always successful) and adding water to her kibble (I don’t like doing that because I prefer to put her kibble in food toys, but I guess maybe I need to). I want to try drink mixes or even just sugar added to the water. Girlfriend has a sweet tooth like woah. What am I missing? I'd love to hear some other ideas!
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
This month’s Project Gratitude recipient is MN SNAP, the Minnesota Spay and Neuter Assistance Program. This is a great organization that offers free or reduced-cost spay and neuter (and vaccines and a microchip, if so desired) for shelters, rescues, and low-income pet owners.
MN SNAP actually came to my attention when I helped someone get their dog neutered through this program. For $100, the dog was neutered, given all his vaccines, and received a microchip. While I think these things are important for pet dogs, they would also be out of reach for many people due to the cost.
|One newly de-balled dog. Thanks MN SNAP!|
In addition to providing low-cost services, the people who work at MN SNAP are incredibly nice. They treat people with respect (which should be a given, but doesn’t always happen), and I was impressed with the quality of the neuter. Which, considering that’s basically all they do, yeah. They should be good at it. They provided excellent follow-up instructions, including contact info and referral to a vet clinic that does a sliding scale.
MN SNAP relies entirely on donations, and I was happy to help them. Money is tight right now (for obvious Maisy-related reasons), but I was still able to give them $20. If you’d like to donate, you can do so at this link.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
|You gotta watch out for those Midwest Muppet Dogs, man. They'll turn on you.|
Thursday, October 17, 2013
|Maisy on her 7th birthday earlier this month.|
The neurologist was pleased with her quick recovery and said that I could treat her the way I normally do- no activity restrictions! She does tire a bit easier now, but that's largely because she isn't in the same condition as she was before all this. She will continue on daily steroids (down from twice a day) for three weeks, and then will take 5mg of prednisone every other day for 4-5 months.
Maisy has had no appreciable side effects from the steroids. Some dogs get thirstier (and thus need to pee more); this hasn't happened with Maisy. Some dogs will have behavioral effects (heck, I get incredibly grumpy when I'm on high doses of steroids), but Maisy hasn't. If anything, she's friendlier. About the only thing I've noticed is that she wants to lick my face more than usual. I have no idea if that's related or not, and while it's annoying, it's also manageable. The only side effect that might yet show up is muscle wasting. I hope we don't get that!
Of course, Maisy had two issues last month, the other being her bladder stones. She is still on her very restricted diet, and she will need regular UAs and other monitoring. However, this is a highly manageable condition, if expensive. I now have three jobs. It sucks, but what can I do?
Crystal Thompson, CPDT-KA
That's right! I got my exam results back this week (hey, I took the professional dog training exam the first day Maisy was sick, remember?), and I passed. I am now officially a CPDT-KA. I am thrilled to report that I got a 97% on it! Yay me!
|Wait. I missed one on learning theory?|
All in all, it's been a great week. Hopefully things continue going this well!
Sunday, October 13, 2013
|Apparently I didn't take any pictures at the seminar, so here. |
Have a photo of dogs in party hats for no reason other than it's funny.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
As you know, September was a hard month for us. First she landed in the ICU for what turned out to be immune-mediated inflammation of the spinal cord. Then, just as she was starting to recover, she ended up back in the ICU with some pretty bad bladder stones (and a very uncomfortable procedure to remove them). It’s been almost two weeks, though, and over the weekend Maisy started showing signs of being herself again.
She has more energy and stamina again. She’s enjoying her (short, for potty breaks only) walks again instead of plodding behind me like we’re on a death march. She’s even asking for longer walks. Her coordination seems to have returned as well. She’s not tripping over her own feet when going up the stairs anymore.
Her enthusiastic naughtiness is back, too. She’s bringing me tennis balls whenever I’m… well, awake, really! Last night she shoved open the bathroom door and insisted on sitting on my lap while I was in there. She’s joyfully nipping at my heels and running circles around me in the morning.
And, instead of sleeping in the other room or at the far side of the bed, she’s back to sleeping pressed up to me, and last night she slept in my arms for at least half an hour. Oh, I missed that! Perhaps of everything, I missed that the most.
I’m optimistic that she will have a full recovery. Visions of hiking trips and dog shows have returned, and I’ve begun making plans again.
Of course, that isn’t assured. Last night we did the first reduction in her steroid dose. She had been on 7.5mg twice a day, and now it will be 5mg twice a day for a week or so. We’ll see how (if) that changes things. She sees the neurologist next week, and I assume that we’ll discuss steroid use then. Worst case scenario (I think/hope!) is that she’ll be on them for the rest of her life. Since they don’t seem to be affecting her behaviorally, that’s just fine. After all, I take steroids twice a day, too.
The bladder stones actually seem to be the bigger issue at this point. She’s on a prescription diet that I hate, but that I also have confidence in. I’ve had a hard time not giving her little extras; she’s not supposed to have any treats at all. I have always shared everything I eat with her. I wasn’t able to do it cold turkey, but I’ve really cut back, and each day it’s a bit easier. I still plan to consult with a nutritionist at some point.
She will also need pretty regular monitoring, at least for a while. The U of MN Urolith Center actually has a lot of good info on it, with recommendations on how often to test and what parameters to look for. She will need a follow up urinalysis every 4-6 weeks until the specific gravity is less than 1.020, the pH is 6.5 or ungder, and there are no crystals. After that, follow up UAs should happen every 3-9 months. They also recommend either x-rays or ultrasounds every 6-9 months to evaluate for stones. Since none of the billion x-rays Maisy had last month showed any stones, I’ve decided to do ultrasounds.
For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy having my dog back.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
|You know what's fun? Running!|
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
|I also forgot to take an actual picture, so here. Have some badly-drawn Paint art instead.|
The Merrick Jerky Strips arrived the day Maisy got home from her first hospitalization, back when her appetite was kind of iffy instead of her usual I'll-eat-anything-that's-even-vaguely-edible. Still, she scarfed a few of these babies right down, which is really saying something!
Have you and your pups tried these? What did you think of them?