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. ☮️❤️

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.

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!!

Oh, The Things I’ve Missed!

The things I missed while I was away from home are too numerous to count.

Events like the birth of our fourth grandchild, who also happens to be our first granddaughter. (But I have photos!)

Dates like Ducky’s sixth birthday; like Valentine’s Day. And dates like Shadow’s half birthday on what has always been Callie’s full birthday.

And big things like watching Shadow go down (and back up) the steps to the office/laundry room (and back door) unassisted.

And little things like watching Ducky stalk the squirrels, run the fence lines with the neighbors’ dogs, and chase the birds off the fence posts.

And replenishing things like Hubby’s hugs and good night kisses, Ducky’s puppy kisses, and Shadow’s “hugs” against my thighs.

In between re-organizing things the way I want them, cleaning up a mess created by inclement weather, and getting back into somewhat of a routine, I’m trying to spend less time on my devices and more time with my family. So forgive me for being so behind in reading your blog posts.

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.

Finding Solutions

You might remember from my last post, “New Year, New Hopes“, that I’ve been trying (for a long time) to figure out why Shadow was being so “difficult” at meal times.

There were so many possible reasons for it that it made my head spin. And, it hurt my heart not being able to find a long-term solution.

Maybe, just maybe, the elevated bowl(s) will be that solution. Or at least one in a combination of solutions used together.

The probiotics are helping with the IBS issues; but that’s only a part of it.

It’s going to take time for her to get used to the new bowl setup.

I already had to change the height of the stand. And, I might need to change it again depending on if/how much Shadow’s neck muscles tense up on her again.

And, I had to move the food from the new bowl to her old one, wash the new one and set the old one inside of it.

And a few times I had to spoon feed the poor girl yesterday and this morning. BUT she ate her whole meal at one meal time! I can’t remember the last time that happened!

I also have a new floor mat for under the stand (the one in the photo). I’m not sure Shadow quite trusts it yet to stay put. But with the stand holding it in place, maybe she’ll trust it sooner.

Perhaps she needs to wear her slipper socks in the house. Perhaps just on her back paws. I know they help her walk better on the treadmill. She hadn’t seemed to need them this past week or two; but yesterday morning she seemed a teensy bit unsteady in the kitchen again.

With the changes I had to make for Shadow yesterday morning came the “revelation” that they won’t work for Ducky. A few minor, easy changes at and after meal times will take care of that. Like this one…The old placemat and water bowl on top of the new floor mat. And when it’s Ducky’s turn to eat, I’ll just move the stand to the other side of the dishwasher.

New Year, New Hopes

Happy New Year, Friends! I know, I’m two weeks late. That’s because our celebration got put on hold on New Year’s night.

Ducky has been on leash restriction in the back yard since January 2nd. She hurt herself during a zoomies attack on New Year’s Day.

Okay, so for the hopes…..

Ducky has been really, really “good” these past two weeks. She has had her moments; but generally speaking, she has dealt with the physical inactivity quite well. (Thanks to nose work games, some limited slow walks on the treadmill, and twice-daily pain meds.) It makes me hopeful that helping her to calm down – or stay calm – will continue to get easier. Today is her first day of freedom; and after 20 minutes of fun in the yard and another 10 here in the house, this is the result….Heehee.

Then there’s Shadow. I’m still having to spoon-feed her at times in order to get her to eat. And so many questions in my head. Up until the middle of last week, her knee was still bothering her. She had a hard time standing in the kitchen or bathroom. She didn’t trust the throw rugs to not skid underneath her.

Now the knee is healed, she’s enjoying her time outside, and she’s even inviting Ducky to play. Last week the vet watched a short video I made of Shadow attempting to eat her meals. I asked him if maybe her depth perception issues might be causing her “pecking” motions at her plate/bowl.

After watching the video, he felt around her neck and shoulders and said that her muscles were somewhat tense. That discomfort was more likely the cause. And, it made the proverbial lightbulb turn on over my head. That discomfort in her neck – especially – and shoulders was probably why she had been walking away from her bowl but gladly eating off the spoon that I was holding up to her normal chin level. It wasn’t that she was playing me for the special attention. It was that it hurt too much to lower her head close enough to her bowl long enough to eat.

The arctic air wave of the week plus around the holidays just made it tougher on all of us – my and hubby’s joints were bothering us more than normal too – but the last few days of sunshine and slightly warmer temps gave us all some relief.

This morning Shadow went right to the plate of food and ate it without pause. Well, she did pause when I turned it around for her but only for a moment.

My hopes for Shadow? No more pulled CCL’s; no more severe arctic air waves to worsen her joint and muscle aches; and, fewer age-related health issues. And many more happy, playful days here with us.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 🎉🐶🐶💗

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. ❤️🎄❄️☃️