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. 🙃

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.

It’s Time For A Change

I’ve never taken to change well. My motto is usually similar to Scarlett O’Hara’s: “after all, tomorrow is another day!”

No, I’m not making changes to the blog again.

This time it’s a change in the dogs’ diet. Both dogs. At the same time. YIKES! For someone who doesn’t like change, this is drastic! But our vet approved the change once I told him why I feel it’s necessary, so I’m okay with it.

Anyway, the new food is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. Wish us luck with the transition. We’ll be back in two or three weeks to let you know how it went – or is still going – and then we’ll tell you more about why we had to change. And we’ll reveal the name of the new food.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, whether you live in the USA or not. It’s a day of giving thanks, so count your blessings and SMILE. 😊

Grateful for Good News

Last weekend I was watching all of us here. I was watching Shadow for signs of a returning UTI. I was watching Ducky for signs of snarkiness toward Shadow. I was watching hubby for signs of dementia-induced temper tantrums. And I was watching myself for signs of stress overload.

Well, so far it’s been a good week. No snarkiness from Ducky, no temper tantrums, and no stress overload on me.

But the best news? I got good news from the vet yesterday afternoon: Shadow’s UTI is cleared up. She’s not just looking and acting like she feels better; she actually IS better. Her white blood cell count is back to normal.

So, this last week will be added to the list of good weeks to be grateful for. And here are two lovelies for whom I’m eternally grateful…

Watchful Weekend

Well, we’ve had another (mostly) peaceful week. Hubby seems to have completely forgotten the two weeks of pure hell. That’s more than just “good”. He’s had a few minor “tantrums”, but at least they weren’t directed at the dogs or me.

Shadow’s UTI appears to be cleared up. I gave her the last antibiotic dose yesterday afternoon. She’s eating better again. And she’s playing more. Still, after all that’s been going on around here this past month, the vet agreed with me that we should do a follow-up urinalysis next week.

Ducky’s still a bit reactive when hubby comes out of the bedroom in the morning but is generally settling down faster. And she’s still being sweet toward Shadow for the most part.

As I’ve said before, being a caregiver for/to a dementia patient is not for wimps. Especially when you’re also “Mom” to pets who depend on you for everything, from meals and vet care to playtime and lovies, not to mention keeping things as calm and peaceful as possible. That’s a ton of responsibility to heap on one person day in and day out. It can wreak havoc with one’s internal balance.

So, this weekend I’m watching both dogs for reactions to people food that hubby sneaks to them. And watching hubby for signs of oncoming temper tantrums. And watching myself for signs of stress and that overwhelmed feeling.

A Peaceful Week

Thankfully it has been a fairly peaceful week around here. My gratitude goes out to my caregiver coach and the nurse practitioner who’s been seeing hubby at the aging center. They have been wonderful! And of course to family members.

After those two weeks of pure hell – the week I wrote about here and the one immediately after it – I couldn’t stand another minute of the stress on any of us. So, I used a little “trick” the NP told me about and it worked. I spent a few days praying it wouldn’t come back to bite me in the butt, but I’ve let go of that fear.

Shadow’s white blood cell count shot up as a result of her stress, causing a UTI. Thankfully I caught it early. I got a urine sample to the vet the morning it first presented symptoms; and by that afternoon, I was able to give Shadow her first antibiotic. Within 24 hours, it was already starting to clear up.

Poor Ducky started reacting again to every noise, every movement that hubby makes. Thankfully, I had half a bottle of her doggy Xanax left from last year. She is still a bit anxious/reactive now, but seems to be settling down a bit faster. That reminds me – I need to get a refill next week.

And, I have finally been able to get some better sleep. Ducky’s barking still drives me nuts at times, but at least I can #getoverit faster. And I’m better able to let go of hubby’s dementia-induced moments.

As much as I hate to admit it, I haven’t been working with Ducky much since I got home from Florida at the end of May. When she needed a break from the insanity, I took the easy way out and let her spend time at daycare. Well, that’s changing. She will still spend at least one day a week at daycare, but in between we will get back to “work” on her anxieties and reactivity. I’ll write more about that at a later date.

So, as we enter a second (hopefully) peaceful week, I wish all of you peace and love as well. ☮️❤️

Living in the Moment

If you are one of our “regular” readers, you know that my hubby is a dementia patient (in the early-middle stages). If not, you can read about it here, if you want to.

The past week (since a week-ago yesterday) has literally been hell on earth here at our house – and in the truck or car. For the last eight days, I’ve felt like I’m walking on egg shells. And the poor dogs have been stressed-out way more than I can deal with emotionally. Yesterday, I asked our vet – via text – if Xanax was safe enough for Shadow. That’s how bad it was on Friday night. He responded affirmatively and with the suggested dosage. Bless that man!!!

So far – since late yesterday afternoon – things have been fairly calm and peaceful. I’m praying they stay that way. And I’m trying hard to live in the moment. Last night – just before bedtime – I gave both girls a dose of the Xanax in case things went downhill again. They slept through the night. And, so did I once I turned the tv off.

Living with a dementia patient is NOT for wimps, I can tell you for sure! Especially if you also live with animals who are as sensitive and tuned into your own moods as mine are. And they react to it in different ways. (Shadow runs away to hide; Ducky barks almost incessantly.)

The dogs and I are in the back yard, getting away from the tv news and getting some fresh air. I’m praying that when we go back inside, peace and calm will still prevail. And I will try to keep living in the moment.

Have a great week! And please send us energy and light for a peaceful week; or say a prayer, light a candle, whatever. Thank you for being there for us as we travel this road. Peace and Love!! 💓

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. 🤔

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!!!

You Are Not Alone

Today I’m sharing a very personal story. My hope is that in sharing this story I can let others who have similar stories know that they are not alone.

My husband has recently been diagnosed with “mixed dementia”, with vascular dementia being the most prevalent. Although he has exhibited the various symptoms to varying degrees over the last several years, I – and our former primary doctor – attributed those symptoms to various other health issues.

Some of the effects of hubby’s dementia are the inability to reason, to accept facts that he doesn’t agree with, and to exhibit inappropriate behaviors. It’s not constant, but at times it seems to manifest more frequently.

We also have two dogs with various gastrointestinal issues. They both have sensitive stomachs, they both have one degree or another of lactose intolerance, and they both react when their systems are overloaded with the wrong food and treats.

For the sake of my dogs’ health status, I have to be on guard constantly. It’s impossible to convince hubby that this human treat or that human food item isn’t good for the dogs.

(I used to attribute this trait to just being “a man thing” but now I’m not so sure.)

It’s like trying to reason with a toddler who wants to share his potato chips with the family dog. That toddler isn’t old enough to understand that the family dog’s system can’t handle the chips or other human treats. And hubby’s capacity to reason has been diminished to that same level. When my calm requests that he not share those human treats and food items are met with snarkiness, it tears me apart.

All is not negative, however. A Nurse Practitioner who works at our hospital system’s Center For Successful Aging prescribed Namenda to help slow the progression of some of hubby’s symptoms. While he only started this drug last week, his mood changes already seem to have leveled out somewhat.

Now I need to work on my own stress levels. (Better sleeping habits would be a good start.) I have been doing some research, as well as subscribing to a newsletter from the Alzheimer’s organization. Additionally, family members and friends have been super supportive all along, even before our first appointment at the aging center. There is also a local support program for caregivers – called REACH – and I will be meeting with one of their folks soon.

If you deal with a similar situation, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments. Maybe we can help each other.

Happy 6th Gotcha Day Ducky!!!

Oh, Ducky, you crazy little stinker! I can’t believe it’s been six years since the morning I saw you on GCAC’s urgent list and called “Daddy” at work. He said “go get her!” and our lives changed forever.

You were so cute! At a few days past seven months, you were still a puppy.

And you were a handful! All explosive energy. You drove Callie and Shadow crazy, even testing Callie’s seemingly unlimited patience at times. You wore me out with your antics. You’ve come a long way little girl!

When we said goodbye to Callie that morning, you kissed her head and jumped back up in Daddy’s lap. It was so cute. I almost wish I’d gotten a picture of it. And when we got home, you tried your best to cheer Daddy, Shadow and me up. And you were sweet to Shadow.

You’ve had your snarky moments when I’ve yelled at you for being ugly toward Shadow. And you’ve driven me to distraction with your incessant barking. BUT I wouldn’t give you up for the world. Neither would Daddy, or even Shadow.

Over the three years since Callie got her angel wings, you’ve grown into a sweet little “pup”. You finally seem to realize that Shadow IS your best doggie friend. And your older sister. You treat her now the way you treated Callie, with respect and even affection from time to time. And she even misses you on days when you’re at daycare.

I was in Florida, helping your Uncle Doug, on your 6th birthday so we’ll have a double celebration today. Maybe we’ll spend most of the day playing outside, weather permitting.

We love you to the ends of the universe and back, little girl! You are our little entertainer.

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.