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.

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. 🀞

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.

The Change, Part 1

This post is a follow-up to my teaser post from just before Thanksgiving, which you can find here.

Just a quick note about the reason for the change. After four months of continual disappointment in the quality of the food I’ve been giving the girls for nearly four years – a lot of “fours/fors” in there; hmmm – I decided I had to change. Not just for the dogs’ sakes, but for my own sake as well. I was finding myself dreading the process of preparing their meals on a daily basis. Plus, I was getting more BS every time I contacted the manufacturer to ask what they were doing to improve the quality.

So, what food have I chosen for my dogs? Well, after great reviews from my friends Jan – the Momz of the Wag-n-Woof Pets crew – and Maggie Marton – the author and owner of the Oh My Dog! Blog – I decided to give The Farmer’s Dog a try. I also asked our vet to check out the website and give me his opinion. When he gave his approval, I placed our trial order through the link in Jan’s review post.

The dogs are now on Day 7 of the transition. They both seem to be handling the transition quite well.

Ducky has been on a half new/half old mix since Saturday. I’ve seen some birdseed in her stools from the start; but that’s normal for her. The crazy little stinker likes birdseed, especially when it smells like squirrel breath. πŸ™ƒ

Shadow started her half-n-half mix this morning. She’s only had one soft stool since before starting the transition; and that soft one was from the stress of hubby having a temper tantrum on Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, her “output” has been steadily improving.

Barring any unexpected backslides, I’m hoping to have both Ducky and Shadow fully transitioned to The Farmer’s Dog (turkey recipe) on Wednesday of next week. Then I can call Chewy and get a refund on the unused cans and kibble of the “old” food. Honestly? I wish I could make that call this week; but on the vet’s recommendation, I’ll play it safe.

Friday’s Here

When I was still in the workforce, I could hardly wait for Fridays. Especially that magical five o’clock hour. Now I wonder where Monday went. πŸ€”

Ah, well, as long as I can enjoy my first cup of coffee sitting in the back yard – with my pups – enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, I’m happy.

It’s still too early for Shadow. She looks like she wants to go back to bed…

Ducky’s looking for squirrels. They haven’t been around much lately. I think she misses chasing the little buggers.

“Where are all the squirrels, Mom??” They’re wise to her. They hang around the bird feeder until they hear the back door open, and then they scurry up the tree. Those evil little critters are probably up there now, singing “Nah nah nah nah nah, you can’t catch us!” 🀣🐿 🀣

Happy Friday Everyone!!!

Shadow’s Exciting News, Part 3

It’s hard to believe, but this past Monday was the two-month anniversary of Shadow’s stem cell infusion.

(You can read Parts 1 and 2 here and here.)

Our vet said Shadow should be the “poster child” for the success of the clinical trials!

Despite some GI issues* that Shadow was dealing with for the last several weeks, she has really benefitted greatly from the treatment.

*Suffice it to say, too much people food, even given with love, is not good for any dog, but especially those with sensitive stomachs.*

Anyway, the stem cells have helped with Shadow’s mobility, her confidence level, her emotional health; and in general, improved her overall Quality of Life.

She’s a sensitive “pup” – always has been – and I doubt that will ever change; but she seems to be handling stress a little better.

Her arthritis seems to be less bothersome, in varying degrees. In areas where it only bothered her on rare occasions it seems to be in remission. And in areas where it was most bothersome it seems just a tad bothersome at times.

Now my job is to continue monitoring Shadow for subtle changes in her activity – good or bad – and let the vet know about them. Since I have his mobile number, that last part will be easy.

Hubby and I have been really impressed – not to mention happy – with the way the stem cells have helped Shadow. As I said above, her overall quality of life has improved considerably. She seems to have a new outlook on life.

Today is three years since we said goodbye to Callie. It’s a sad memory; but sweet Callie is always with us in spirit, watching over all of us. I know Shadow misses her sister and best friend – so do hubby, Ducky and I – but she plays more now and doesn’t seem depressed so often. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Life with Shadow & Ducky

I haven’t put up a blog post in a couple of weeks; and the ones I’ve put up lately have been mostly about either one or the other of my dogs.

So I thought I’d serve up a helping of both my dogs.

They get along pretty well these days. Some days they mostly ignore each other, and some days they look for squirrels together. *BUT* they get along.

Since her stem cell infusion nearly two months ago, Shadow has been rejuvenated. She has a new lease on life. That sparkle is back in her eyes. And her beautiful, floofy tail is more often than not in line with her backbone and wagging, or at least swishing back and forth.

And Ducky? Oh, this little one is quite the character. Just watching her stalk and chase the squirrels is entertainment without equal! She would literally spend the entire day in the back yard if one of us were out here with her.

And nothing makes my heart happier than seeing these two choose to share a tender moment, like this…

Have a tail-wagging weekend everyone!!

What A Difference 2 Weeks Made! – Wordless Wednesday

Here’s a video of Shadow walking down the hallway at the vet’s office, just before her stem cell infusion…

As you can see, her back legs and paws were very close together as she walked.

Then, at her two-week follow-up visit, we took another walk down that same hallway…

See how much further apart those back legs and paws are?

Now we are at the four-week mark and she’s walking even better. And there are other signs, too, that those stem cells are “doing their thing”.

Shadow’s Exciting News, Part 2

Well, here we are five days into Week 3 of Shadow’s stem cell infusion; and the results are, well let’s just say A – mazing. Β (I just wish I had before and after videos.)

If you missed the first post, you can read it here.

As you know, hubby and I – and the vet – went into this with cautious optimism and excitement over the possibilities for both Shadow and future pets. After all, this therapy IS still in the clinical trials stage.

I am beyond happy about, beyond excited about, and extremely grateful for the results we have been seeing already….

Shadow’s mobility has already improved about tenfold. After her little tumble in the backyard – about a week before the infusion – I figured the early signs we were seeing were simply the healing effects of the Gabapentin, CBD oil gel caps, and Tylenol 3 I’d been giving her. However, I had stopped the Tylenol 3 completely over that weekend prior to the infusion. And, due to my supplier’s lack of response to phone calls about the latest shipment, I also had to halve the dosage of the CBD oil gel caps. Yet, four days after the infusion hubby and I noticed that Shadow was indeed walking better and getting up and down the three steps better than before. And she continues to improve. Also, she isn’t struggling as much to get her back end up off the carpeted floors. In fact, she barely struggled at all this morning. And getting up off the linoleum floors is getting easier for her as well.

Shadow’s confidence in her own physical abilities is growing in subtle amounts…

She’s not “tiptoeing” across the kitchen floor – to keep her balance on the slippery surface – as much. In fact, this morning I noticed she walked normally from one side of the floor to the other with her head held high! And she didn’t have her slipper socks on, either!

Sometimes, in the morning mostly, Shadow will not eat her breakfast out of the bowl if I put it in the stand. The noise the bowls make when they move around seem to make her wary. (Yet it doesn’t seem to bother her at dinner time.) This morning, though, she stood at the bowl stand waiting for me to put her bowl in it and then ate all but four or five bites of it standing at the bowl. For now, I’ll attribute that bit of courage to the fact that she was hungry after yesterday’s reduced appetite status.

Shadow had been having normal poops as well; but between the stress of having been at the vet on Thursday morning, and then Ducky’s jealous streak on Friday night, they went back to being “yucky” again and still are today. I need to talk to the vet about that tomorrow. I have an idea of what’s causing it today, but I’ll keep it to myself for now. Hopefully it will go back to normal in a day or so.

Shadow’s Exciting News

Shadow isΒ participating in a clinical trial!

Let me begin by telling you that back in May – while I was still at my brother’s home – one of our two vets at Sunrise Animal Hospital called to talk to me about an exciting new treatment for canine joint disease that is still in the clinical testing phase.

Dr. Simpson told me that this new therapy (HUC-DT) uses the stem cells from human umbilical cords; and that he felt Shadow would be a good candidate for the treatment. A quick note here for those of you who, like me, have heard of stem cell therapy but aren’t familiar with how it works: stem cells are the cells present in all our bodies that are there to help heal and rebuild tissues. As we age, we have fewer stem cells but their healing and regenerative effect remains intact if needed.*

When we give a pet human stem cells, the stem cells migrate to the areas of pain and inflammation by following the body’s natural cues, and anchor themselves within the tissues, and begin stimulating the dog’s natural stem cell population to fight inflammation and rebuild tissues.”

The old method of using stem cell therapies in pets was mostly limited to what is known as mesenchymal stem cell transplants (MST). This method required not one surgery, but two surgeries. The first surgery involved anesthetizing the pet and harvesting a large amount of fat cells. Those cells were then sent to a lab where the stem cells were extracted, given various chemical treatments to “boost their vitality”, and shipped back to the veterinarian. Then the pet had to undergo anesthesia a second time to have the treated stem cells implanted. Such a process is not only costly and time-consuming, but also puts the pet at risk of potential dangerous anesthesia side effects twice. Not really a viable option for the older pet.*

The process Dr. Simpson used for Shadow (and other patients, including his own dog) does not involve anesthesia, or any chemicals to boost the stem cells’ viability. Dr. Simpson explains the whole procedure in the video clip below. (We had a slight technical issue at the very beginning which cut off some of Dr. Simpson’s introduction, but that’s okay. You can still get the idea.)

We also took videos of Shadow walking, and then jogging, down the long hallway outside the treatment area so we can document the results of the therapy. And we took some other photos as well.

Hubby and I are both cautiously optimistic about the eventual positive effects on Shadow’s overall quality of life; and excited by the all-natural and safety aspects of the treatment.

On average, results can be expected between four and six weeks following the treatment; but many of Dr. Simpson’s other patients started presenting subtle changes in behavior within two weeks that indicated the treatment was already helping them. I will follow up with more blog posts about how the treatment works for Shadow.

Lastly, I want to give credit where it’s due: All of the “technical” wording that’s either followed by an asterisk (*) or set within quotation marks is either paraphrased or directly quoted from Dr. Simpson’s white paper that he wrote about the HUC-DT treatment. He provided me with a copy for information purposes, and so I could write this post. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments. If I don’t know the answers, I’ll ask Dr. Simpson.