Seven Years and Counting

Oh, Ducky! Seven years ago today I found your name (and photo) on the shelter’s super urgent list in the morning, and by 1 PM you were officially a member of our little family.

Seven years ago today, my life – and your Daddy’s, Callie’s, and Shadow’s lives – changed forever. I had no way of knowing then what it would be like raising a shelter pup. I started thinking you’d be better off with a different family; but then you spent a day at doggie daycare and your demeanor improved so much that I couldn’t give up on you.

Callie helped me so much with you. So did Maria and the other girls at A Dog’s Day Out. Daycare was great for you. It taught you how to get along with other dogs, helped you spend all that turbo-charged energy, and gave you some socialization time, too. And it gave Callie and Shadow a needed break from your rowdy puppy playfulness. As well as the quiet time together and with me that they cherished, that I cherished.

You were a little stinker. Always wanting to leave Shadow out of your fun with Callie. But Callie didn’t let you.

And that awful morning when we had to say goodbye to Callie. You gave her puppy kisses that said “I love you, sis.” And your attitude toward Shadow started to improve. Callie had taught you well.

You had your spats with Shadow over the next 3-1/2 years, but you always made up with her. And when I was at Uncle Doug’s house last year, you were a good girl for Daddy. Then, when Shadow got sick in February, you watched over her for me, along with Callie. You were always right there, keeping her company whenever we had to go out. And you looked for her that weekend when she was at the hospital. And that horrible Monday when we said goodbye to Shadow, you “protected” her in the exam room. And you kissed her, as you had Callie.

You’ve been my and Daddy’s rock since Shadow reunited with Callie. I don’t know what we would have done without you, especially those first few weeks. I know you’re fine on your own in the house when Daddy and I have to leave you for a time; but I miss you from the minute we leave to the minute we get home. If I could, I would take you every place I go, just so you wouldn’t have to be alone in the house. But, then you’re not really alone during those times. Callie and Shadow are here with you, in spirit, watching over you for me.

Ducky, you are definitely one of a kind! You exasperate me, you push my patience to its limits, and you make me question my sanity at times. BUT you are sweet, loving, fun, silly, challenging, and precious all wrapped up in one 30-pound package. And every day I thank God I adopted you from the shelter that warm September afternoon seven years ago!

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. 🙃

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.

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…

While I Was Gone…

Have you been wondering where we’ve been the last few months? Well, I promise we hadn’t forgotten about you all. It’s just that our living arrangements were a bit skewed.

I spent the last few months helping my brother take care of some household work that’s more easily handled by two (or more) persons. And making sure his dog, Boozy, got the love and attention he deserves throughout. And look at this face. Isn’t he precious?!

I admit that although I was happy to be able to help my brother, I left home with some anxiety about leaving Shadow and Ducky alone with their dog-daddy. Thankfully, Angel Callie, God, and the universe were watching over them all and things were pretty peaceful.

Some of the good news is that Ducky was – in hubby’s words – “really, really good” and got along fine with Shadow.

While I was gone, hubby decided to allow Ducky the freedom to roam the house with Shadow whenever he had to go out somewhere. I wasn’t very happy about it at first. I know how snarky Ducky can be toward Shadow at times. But there was never any sign of even the slightest “argument” between them, so I relaxed. Angel Callie was watching over her sisters for me.

Then there’s Ducky’s rather vociferous way of saying “I have to go out.” I was a bit concerned that the ever-impatient dog-daddy would make her forever afraid of him with his grumpy responses. Thankfully, hubby kept his cool more often than not.

Long-time readers of our blog know that Shadow has caused me some rather stressful hours, days, and even weeks with her eating habits over the last few years.

In February – before I left to go to my brother’s home – I was still splitting her breakfast into two meals. And getting stressed when she wouldn’t eat. And hubby continued the “schedule” for the first two weeks. And he started getting stressed-out about her not eating. And he’d call me and get me stressed-out.

Then I “decided” our stress was getting to Shadow and making it worse for her. So, I instructed him to just pick up and cover her bowl when she wouldn’t eat and stick it in the fridge. “Just give it to her for dinner.” Some mornings she ate all her food, some mornings only some of it, and some mornings she wouldn’t touch it. But by dinner time she was hungry enough to eat a full meal.

I came home for a week while my brother’s best buddy visited with him. Shadow’s follow-up blood work and abdominal ultrasound came due that week. More good news: her liver enzyme levels were back to normal and the nodule on her spleen was still unchanged (after a year’s time). The vet said to keep her on the Denamarin long-term “and keep up the good work” with her exercise.

So, while she still refuses to eat some mornings, my girl is doing really well for her age. And I no longer worry if she doesn’t eat breakfast, as long as she eats dinner and otherwise acts “normal” during the day.

As the weeks stretched into months, I grew more and more concerned about hubby’s stress levels. He’s not meant to be a “bachelor”. It was past time to come home. I’ve been here a week now. I miss my brother and Boozy – and they miss me – but I’m back where I belong. And it feels good.

My (Crazy) Golden Life

We’re still here. A little tattered after a busy summer and fall, but here.

Ducky is still her crazy, sometimes hyper, drama-queen, lovable self. Trying to work with her in between hubby’s various doctor appointments and my own school work wore. me. out. I’m not as young as I used to be. 🙄

Then, there’s poor Shadow. Oh, don’t worry…she’s still healthy and happy.

But her digestive issues have been concerning me the last several weeks. To start with, the company that makes her food went to an “improved formula”. (Improved my butt!) And that so-called improved formula has been giving her some “silent-but-deadly” gas, especially at night. So she was refusing to eat her full meals. Add to that her refusal to stand on floor mats while she eats, despite her arthritis, and the Denamarin for her liver function. And her depth-perception vision issues. I discussed all this with our vet on Tuesday morning while we were there for an unrelated matter. He suggested waiting until after she eats breakfast to give her the Denamarin. It works best on an empty stomach, but still works on a somewhat full one as well.

So, I tried waiting and it made no difference. And I tried using a different food bowl. And I tried spoon-feeding her. Nothing made any difference.

Until yesterday. I was feeling totally at a loss, totally frustrated. Shadow’s IBS makes it inadvisable to change her food, even gradually, so that’s out. I ordered some probiotic chews. Hopefully they will help with the flatulence.

Meanwhile, I was on FB Messenger with my friend, Jan. You know her as “the Momz” over on Wag-n-Woof Pets. I needed a different perspective on my problem. Jan mentioned that she uses a plate, rather than a bowl, for beagle Cricket’s food. It was close to time for Shadow’s lunch, so I pulled one of our dinner plates out of the cabinet and used it instead of her bowl to feed her.

Voilá! One problem seemingly fixed. Now to dismiss the notion that she should only eat twice (or thrice) a day. So, since I’d already split her breakfast into two meals, why not her dinner as well? No noticeable flatulence last night. We’ll see how it goes tonight.

That’s what my life has been like these last few months. Crazy, sometimes exhausting, puzzling, but much better and preferable than the alternative. The girls, the hubby, and I will get through it.

Happy Howlidays to ALL our friends and family. ❤️🎄❄️☃️

I Love Our Vet!

Yes, I know I’ve said before that I love our vet, but I’m saying it again. I Love Our Vet! 

Not just because he has always taken good care of our pets; but also because he has always been honest and forthright on all fronts.

Not just because he let me do my externship (for my vet assistant course) at his hospital; but also because he has always been there for us (just a call or text away) from the time Ducky started presenting IBD symptoms, throughout Callie’s lymphoma journey, and every day since.

You might recall in my last post, Happy 13th Birthday, Shadow, I mentioned that thanks to her little sister Shadow had taken a tumble a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the hemp oil gel caps and elixir drops and daily walks on the treadmill, the tumble didn’t seem to bother her then.

Still, over the last 10 days, she seemed to be struggling more to stand up and stay up. And she hasn’t been eating as well or as much, plus her reflux seems to bother her more often again. So, I brought Shadow back to Dr. Steve for his professional opinion on Tuesday morning. I mentioned that with her increased struggling of late I was worried that maybe she was in more pain than she let on. He put my mind at ease. “No injury. Just her arthritis flaring a little.”

I sent Doc a video of Shadow walking on the treadmill yesterday morning; and when he called in the afternoon with the lab results he commented on the video. “She looks great. She walks like an older dog with some arthritis. Her range of motion isn’t what it used to be, but it’s pretty good for an old lady.” As for the blood work and urinalysis, everything is close to or at normal levels, which means the Denamarin is working. We talked about some other minor concerns; but all’s well. The Gabapentin, hemp oil, and treadmill – and outdoor playtime – is keeping her arthritis manageable. So, we’re sticking with what works.

Now it’s time to get back to working on my final exam. It’s due back to my program manager on the 30th, so I probably won’t publish another post before Halloween.

Happy Thankful Thursday!!!

Happy 13th Birthday, Shadow!

My sweet girl is 13. Where have the years gone?! Seems like only yesterday we brought her home to be Callie’s little sister.

I love this girl with my whole heart. She gives us her heart unconditionally. She loves Ducky in spite of the little brat’s attitude. 

Shadow has been my rock since Callie got her angel wings. She has taken over Callie’s role as my furry confidant, my furry shoulder to lean on in tough times. Callie was an excellent teacher; Shadow was a star pupil. 

Shadow has had her own challenges these last two years, but she has overcome them with great spirit.  We’ve been dealing with some arthritis issues, but the Treatibles CBD oil supplements, plus walking on the treadmill every day (in addition to play time), is helping a lot. She does have some difficulty walking/standing on the kitchen (linoleum) floor at times. The floor mats I bought to help her aren’t any good because they slide all over the place. And I just haven’t been able to get back to Target to exchange them.   Yet, despite her issues, she’s still a happy pup. She misses Callie, naturally; but as long as we give her lots of love and attention, she’s content.  And I hope she’ll be happy and healthy for at least another few years. 

Shadow is – and always has been – my good, sweet girl. She doesn’t dole out kisses the way Callie used to and Ducky does, but she is a very loving girl. She doesn’t like hugs, but will tolerate mine (so I try to limit them to those times when I really need them). She loves all of us but she’s always been my dog…I’m her special person, especially since Callie got her angel wings.

Happy Thirteenth Birthday my sweet girl!! I love you and – like your sisters – you will always be in my ❤️.