I Can’t Believe It’s Been A Month….

Since Hubby, Ducky and I told Shadow how much we love her – will always love her – and then let her go be with her soul-sister Callie. This is my favorite photo of my Golden Girls from several years ago….Jason's Pix 016

We miss our sweet girl so much. Ducky misses having company when we have to leave the house. She misses having a buddy to share the perimeter patrol duties with, and to bark at the neighbors’ dogs with, and to fuss at over time on the dog beds. About the only thing Ducky doesn’t miss about Shadow is the competition for our attention.

Hubby’s not a big believer in spiritual visits. It’s a shame for him. Being open to them myself, I feel better knowing my Golden Angels are always with me. And always watching over Ducky as well. It’s just so hard not having them here physically to love on and watch play with each other and cuddle together and discipline Ducky.

Anyway, it’s at least a little easier to look at photos of my girls without dissolving into a puddle of tears. So, here are some pix of Callie and Shadow together when they were still pups….

My Golden Girls were rarely apart in life; and when they were apart, they spent the time looking for each other. Now they’re together again, the way they were always meant to be.

The Change, Part 4

Well, the last change I wrote about here didn’t last very long. About the third or fourth day in, Ducky upchucked her whole dinner. And I didn’t like the way the stuff looked when I rehydrated it going by the directions, so I gave up. Luckily I bought the box from Chewy so I had no trouble getting a full refund on the product. I just brought it to the vet and put it in his bucket for our county animal shelter (the one from which we adopted Ducky 6-1/2 years ago).

So, what to do? I swore on a whole stack of bibles (well, not literally speaking) that I would NEVER go back to the Hills’ Prescription Diet food. (That was even before the initial recall for the Vitamin D excesses. And they’ve expanded the recall twice already!) And I had promised hubby that I wouldn’t buy any more of the The Farmer’s Dog food than I already had (there was still one more order due to arrive a few days after I made the promise). So, I had to come up with another plan. I thought of trying other commercial, dehydrated brands but never could find one that appealed to me, especially after the fiasco with the Only Natural Pet stuff mentioned in Part 3 of our “saga”.  So, I decided I’d buy some doggy vitamins from Pet Naturals of Vermont (via Chewy of course) and make the food myself. And I just don’t have the stomach for a raw diet – either homemade or commercially dehydrated.

And then the unthinkable happened. Shadow started her decline. She went from loving every meal from The Farmer’s Dog and actually taking her medications that were hidden in the food to not wanting any food, not even treats. So, I fed Ducky her meals and pleaded with Shadow to at least eat something. When Shadow left us to reunite with Callie, I still had about 12 of the 14 packs of food I’d gotten in my last order. So, I used them – reproportioning them for Ducky’s needs – and then used Ducky’s remaining packs.

As of last Monday, I’m feeding Ducky an all-homecooked diet of ground turkey, carrots, spinach, and chickpeas. And I’ve been researching the grain-free vs. not-grain-free issue that the USDA warned about a few months ago. (Many thanks to Jen at My Brown Newfies for her article about that! It was the best one I’ve read; and totally un-biased!). I also bought a few books about homecooked dog food. I’ll tell you about those another time, but two of them were suggested by Maggie at the Oh My Dog! Blog. So far, Ducky’s enjoying her home-cooked meals. And I’m enjoying making them for her.  I’ll keep you posted.

Sunny Days At Last

Ducky’s a #freshairaddict – as were her #GoldenAngel sisters, Callie and Shadow – which is fine with me. I’d rather be outside on a sunny day, too!

Here’s Ducky running and conversing with our neighbor’s new shelter pup, Kara….

And here she is just chilling out in the sunshine…

One day – when I can write a longer post about her #GoldenAngel sisters without dissolving into a puddle of tears – I’ll share some pix of Callie and Shadow in their pre-Ducky years. For now, though, here’s one of them enjoying the sunshine together at the park…

Thankful Thursday

Hubby, Ducky, and I have so much to be thankful for that I’m glad Brian of Brian’s home has set up (and maintains) the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

We are thankful to all our friends and family for all the love and moral support you gave us these last several weeks while we dealt with Shadow’s heartbreaking decline and the decision to let her join her sister, Callie, in Heaven.

We are thankful for our wonderful vets, Dr. Steve Coluqhoun and Dr. Tyler Simpson and the wonderful staff at Sunrise Animal Hospital who gave our sweet Shadow the best care anywhere. In fact, Dr. Steve has been caring for all our furry and feathered family members for a long time.

We are thankful for the love and devotion of all our dogs – Kissy, Callie, Shadow, and Ducky – over the years we’ve been together. And right now especially for Ducky who has been helping us deal with the loss of her beloved sister. She misses Shadow, too, and still looks for her. I try to limit her time alone in the house to an hour these days. Just like I did with Shadow when Callie first got her angel wings.

So, that’s a part of what we’re thankful for. Click on the links below and see what other bloggers are thankful for this week.

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Shadow’s Golden Years

These last several weeks I’ve been watching Shadow closely. At times she seemed in great shape – playing with Ducky, chasing her favorite ball, almost running up the three steps to the main part of the house – and other times she stumbles or misjudges her footing on the steps. Those tough times have really been breaking my heart these last few weeks.

Ten days ago she stopped eating her food. And this is food she has loved from day one. She was taking her pills – wrapped in pieces of pill pocket – and treats. She especially loves the treats I bought from Jan at Wag-n-Woof Pets. And on Wednesday of the week before last, when she was so hesitant to go down the steps to the back door, I immediately called the vet and made an appointment. Meanwhile, with hubby’s help, I got her outside and walking around. She did well.

On Friday morning, we went to see the vet. After a hands-on body exam, the vet said that my poor girl had somehow pulled the groin muscle in her right rear leg. And sure enough even I could feel how tight it was. It will take 10-14 days to heal. And her appetite should follow suit. We decided to treat her with muscle relaxants. On Day Five I was only starting to see slight improvement. She slept most of the day. And she balked at going down the steps to the back door.

Saturday last week was hubby’s birthday and we had the pet sitter take care of the dogs so we could go up to Charlotte (NC) to spend the day with his son and his family. I felt a little guilty leaving Shadow; but I knew Susan loves my girls and would take good care of both of them, so I didn’t worry too much. On Sunday afternoon, I pulled out the Carelift lifting harness I had bought for Shadow a couple of years ago. (I got the idea from our friends, Joy and her Emma at My GBGV Life when their Katie was a senior and needed assistance on her walks.)

This past Wednesday was Shadow’s biannual senior exam. The muscle relaxant was already doing its job on the groin muscle; but it was also suppressing Shadow’s appetite and making her seem almost lethargic at times. Getting her up on her feet and outside for bathroom breaks – even with hubby’s help – was difficult at best. Anyway, her labs came back pretty close to normal. Once she’s been off the muscle relaxant and the week’s worth of NSAIDs to help strengthen her joints for two weeks, we’ll do the labs again to make sure everything is back on track.

It’s now Day Nine of the muscle relaxants and Day Three of the Meloxicam for her joints, and I’m finally seeing promising improvements in Shadow’s overall mobility. Her appetite is still mostly suppressed, but after a few days of not even wanting treats, she’s back to taking them from me again. It’s not great, but it’s a start that makes this dog mom feel better.

Knowing my sweet girl’s age is catching up with her breaks my heart. She’s had some tough times in the three and a half years since her older sister – and best friend – got her angel wings; but Callie has stayed with her in spirit and helped me get her through it all. This past week in particular I was beginning to wonder if Callie was trying to tell me Shadow’s time to join her was coming soon. I know it will eventually; but I don’t think Shadow’s ready quite yet. Her eyes are still bright, and she’s back to fighting for her independence. I know she misses Callie, but Ducky’s been keeping her company and mostly been a sweet little sister. Especially this past week.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUCKY!!!

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I can’t believe my sweet little demon dog is SEVEN years old already! Where have the years gone?!

This little girl drives us crazy every day, but we would be lost without her. She’s been good company for Shadow when we have to leave the house without them. And she entertains us daily with her antics. And gives us so much love every day.

These last several days have been hard on Shadow, but Ducky has been a sweet little sister…sticking close and checking on her every few minutes.

The Change, Part 3

Well, here we are again at the start of a new food transition process. Parts 1 and 2 are here and here.

When I first decided to switch Shadow and Ducky to The Farmer’s Dog, I knew it was expensive. More than we could really afford for both dogs. I just had to hope it would make a big-enough difference for them to justify the expense. And, in some important ways it did make a difference, especially for Shadow.

With the recent recalls by HillsPet of the dogs’ former food – for potential excessive Vitamin D levels – I am extremely happy I made the change to The Farmer’s Dog when I did. But now it’s time for another change to a more affordable option. And, actually, I have two options but for now I’m trying one at a time.

First, let me tell you that I am not transitioning the girls from The Farmer’s Dog for any reason other than cost. They both love the food, it’s easy to prepare and feed, it smells a helluva lot better than the Hills crap, and it doesn’t turn Shadow into a fart machine. In fact, since fully transitioning both girls in early December, Shadow’s digestive system has been able to handle emotional stress much better and she is not nearly as lactose intolerant as she had been on the Hills crap. The only thing I was getting concerned about was the fact that both girls seemed to always be hungry, even though I finally got their daily calorie amounts to an appropriate level for them. And Shadow even seemed to be losing weight. She looks now like she may have put some weight back on though so maybe she’s back on track.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I’ve been looking for more viable, affordable options. I want to stay with 100% human-grade food, but I wasn’t having much luck. Then, on Thursday night while I was surfing Chewy’s website, I found it.

The order arrived on Saturday afternoon, so I started the transition process on Sunday morning. For these first few days I’m going to just use it as a “food topper”, but I’ll mix it in and use some warm water to hydrate the veggies and fruit a teensy bit (and soften the carrots and other veggies in the TFD food). I noticed almost immediately that even though Ducky tends to “inhale” her food, she hasn’t had any of it get stuck on its way down her esophagus (like the kibble used to do, causing much anxiety and obsessive behavior). That’s a BIG plus in my eyes!

If this transition goes well – and I fully expect it to – I might switch to buying it direct from Only Natural Pet; but I don’t have to decide that right now. For now I’m focused on getting my girls on a healthy yet affordable food plan. Keep your fingers crossed. 🀞

Venting and Letting It Go

As a lifetime partner with my hubby and caregiver for my two dogs, I deal with a lot of “stuff”; but this post isn’t about the dogs. It’s not even about my hubby. It’s about human specialized medical practices.

And, as the title of this post suggests, I’m just going to vent my frustrations and then let them go.

My main frustration is with the power that hospital systems have over doctors and their ability to meet their patients’ special needs. And then there’s the frustration with doctors who take it personally when their patients refuse referral to another specialist 200 miles away just because of their particular hospital affiliation.

That recently happened to us (a second time) this past week. Hubby’s gastroenterologist wants him to see a specialist 200 miles away. We explained to him – as politely as we could – that we cannot and will not travel that far. We are not about to inflict the physical, mental, emotional and financial hardships upon ourselves that would come with such travel. Surely there are other esophageal specialists much closer to home to whom he could refer us. Despite our refusal, this doctor – who has been treating hubby’s gastric issues for a minimum of 15 years – has his office set up an appointment with said specialist. When we received the appointment notice, we called the local doctor and told his nurse, in no uncertain terms, that we are NOT traveling 200 miles to see said specialist. A few days later, the nurse called back and said that the doctor was referring us back to our primary care physician for this and all future gastroenterology issues. In other words, unless you go see the specialist affiliated with our hospital, you are no longer our patient.

Whatever happened to compassion and working with the patient to assure that all his/her needs are met, including the emotional needs that go hand-in-hand with the medical needs?? Apparently, the Hippocratic oath they all take – or at least used to take – does not count for s**t any more when they sign an affiliation contract with a particular hospital system.

Okay, so I’ve vented my frustrations with the medical care system in this country. Now it’s time to let it go. Thanks for letting me bend your ear for a few minutes.

The Change, Part 2

This post is a bit overdue, but life kinda got in the way every time I thought of writing it. Anyway, you can find The Change, Part 1 here.

We’re at the beginning of Week 8 of Shadow’s and Ducky’s transition to their new food from The Farmer’s Dog.

Ducky took to the change really well, though I must admit to an error in judgement as to her activity level, hence the number of calories she would need. (Same goes for Shadow but I’ll get to that *later* in the post.) With the help of the wonderful support staff at TFD, I got that resolved by adjusting the calorie count of her food packs.

Shadow has taken quite well to the change, too, considering her age, sensitive stomach, and occasional odd behaviors. And the misjudgment of her activity level/caloric needs. As with Ducky, I had TFD increase Shadow’s daily calories with the third delivery of the food.

While waiting for the new order I made some “emergency” batches of food that contained the same basic ingredients: ground turkey, chickpeas, carrots, and spinach, and added a couple of spoonfuls to each meal. I immediately started seeing the result of the additional calories. Both dogs started gaining back the weight they had lost during those first few weeks.

Shadow’s not a picky eater any more. She really likes this new food! With the old stuff, she’d sniff at it and walk away from her bowl almost every morning. I had to alternate between the canned food and the kibble, and pray she would at least eat some of what was in her bowl. By lunchtime she would be hungry but still picky. At dinnertime, she finally ate a full meal. But it wasn’t because she liked the food. Now she eats a full breakfast and a full dinner. And her GI tract is finally used to the new food…it’s apparent from her daily “output”. She – and Ducky – may still need a second adjustment to the number of daily calories, but I’ll decide that over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, because I don’t want to have to deal with internet regulations as to affiliate links, I can’t offer you any deals on trial offers. However, if you want to get 50% off a trial order, please visit the Wag n Woof Pets blog. One of Jan’s featured posts is her review of the food and contains the link I used.

Oh! And let me add that I did not mean to neglect my friend, Maggie Marton. As I mentioned in Part 1, Maggie’s review – along with Jan’s – sparked my interest in The Farmer’s Dog. So, if you want to use the link in Maggie’s blog, it’s at http://ohmydogblog.com/the-best-fresh-dog-food-delivery toward the end of the post.

Thoughts On A Rainy Day

With all the rain in our forecast today it seems a good one to think “out loud”.

First of all, I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve/Day!

We enjoyed the company of my only sibling – my older brother – from the 19th to the 28th of December. Poor Ducky was stressed-out a good part of the time. She just doesn’t like “strangers” in her house, especially men who are taller than me. All in all though, she did okay. Our house does not lend itself to containment at all, so we kept her harnessed and leashed.

The day after Christmas we left the dogs on their own in the house for a few hours while we spent time meeting up with hubby’s brother and sister-in-law. I made the mistake of not getting a pet sitter to let the girls outside for a break….

When we arrived home, I immediately leashed Ducky and took the dogs out to the backyard while hubby and bro put up their jackets. It was then that hubby found the consequence of Ducky’s boredom….

Several of our Christmas packages had been chewed on, and the contents of one was totally gone. Nine tiny pieces of dark-chocolate candy that bro had brought home from his trip to Costa Rica. I felt like such a jerk! Lesson learned the expensive way….

Hubby, the dogs, and I spent the next two hours at the vet’s. First Ducky, and then Shadow, were treated to prevent chocolate poisoning. I won’t go into detail, so suffice it to say all is well.

Now, I know that before Christmas I had promised y’all a “Part 2” post about the change in the dogs’ food. Well, it’s not even in the draft stage yet; but I’ll get it done eventually. For now, though, it’s time to get some lunch and finish reading the book I started right after Thanksgiving.

The dogs are enjoying a nap and allowing me some much-needed peace and quiet.