Zen’s Chillin’ with Grandpa

My little boy is spending some time with his grandpa, doggie mama, auntie, and cousins – being taught doggie manners by five adult dogs in the same house. And getting a break from the stress of dealing with his human daddy’s dementia. And giving me a break from his teething. 🐊 🦈

Exploring Grandpa’s Yard
The room where he spent the first 8 weeks of his life.

“Grandpa Chuck” has been enjoying Zen’s time with him, too. I get glowing reports – and photos and/or videos – daily. Zen is being an absolutely perfect house guest. No teething, no biting, and no “accidents” to clean up. He did need a bath though after spending part of last Saturday helping his grandpa wash his truck. 🤪

Meanwhile, I’m here at home, working with hubby’s dementia doctor, trying to help him deal with the challenges of the dementia. I’m alone physically but I do have emotional support in the form of family and friends. And I can call our medical professionals any time I have questions.

I miss my canine emotional support team (Ducky and Bogie) and my “little ray of sunshine” (Zen) but I’m managing. At least I don’t have to worry about any of them getting hurt or feeling neglected.

My K9 Emotional Support Team
My “Little Ray of Sunshine”

So, on this Friday after Thankful Thursday, I’m thankful for caring, supportive medical professionals, family members, and friends (both online and IRL). More thankful than any words can convey.

Have a great weekend everyone! If it’s hot where you live – like it is here – stay cool and hydrated! If it’s cold, then keep warm (and hydrated). Love you all! Thanks for being our friends!

A Break from Baby Jaws

No, I’m NOT sending him away to training boarding school. That’s not even an option in my opinion.

Poor little Zen had an upset tummy yesterday, that – as far as I know – started around 3:30 in the morning. I cleaned up the mess around 4 am when his crying kept his HuDaddy and me awake. Once I had him and the kitchen cleaned up, I gave him a little rug to lay on until we all got up later.

We all went back to sleep until about 11:25. I got dressed and happily noted first that there were no more messes to clean up. Then I brought the little guy outside for his first potty break of the day. His first poop was a bit on the soft side but at least not all liquid. A little later it was, well, let’s say “wet”. So, when hubby and I went to the grocery store, I bought a can of organic pumpkin purée. And it, along with some ground chicken and white rice, for dinner had him feeling better by bedtime.

This morning he’s feeling more like himself. And he ended up chewing a small corner piece off his Lickimat and swallowing it. Hopefully it’ll come out the other end soon. 🙄

Right now he’s napping because I left him in the kitchen to stop him from biting my clothes and me. For so many reasons I wish Ducky were still here physically – mostly because I miss her so much; but also because I need her help with this furry little alligator. The kind of help that only a mature dog can provide.

A Land Shark Has Possessed My Puppy!

HELP! A land shark has possessed the body and soul of my sweet puppy!

This sweet little fella I was so thankful for a week or so ago

has been possessed by demon land sharks! Now he’s attacking not only his toys, furniture, clothes, and shoes, but also me. And I have the scars to prove it! And in some pretty private places that I won’t show/name here,

And that’s just for starters. My arms look like I have chicken pox. Tuesday night when I was texting with Bogie’s trainer, James called him a furry alligator. And that’s about what this little guy has turned into.

The odd thing is, I’m the ONLY human he’s focusing on for his “Baby Jaws” bites. He plays nicely with his daddy, and if he bites him it’s only by accident. And on the way home from the airport on Wednesday night, he very calmly laid on the back seat with his head on his Uncle Doug’s leg.

I love and adore this little guy; but for the sake of my sanity and my skin, he has spent a lot of time in the kitchen these last few days. I hate it, but he is stressing me out. I can’t figure out why he’s deliberately biting at MY clothes and skin, no matter how many times I reinforce him for playing with his toys.

“This too shall pass” they say. But he just started teething a few days ago. He has another few months to go yet.

HELP! Help me change “Baby Jaws”, my “furry alligator”, back into the sweet puppy he was a week ago!

Sleepy Sunday

Such a sweet sight – you can’t really see Ducky’s face because her head is right next to Radar’s back.

We had a stressful day yesterday. After two full days of almost perfect behavior around her Uncle Doug, yesterday Ducky was grumpy and vociferous all day. Yet, she didn’t take it out on Radar like she used to do to poor Shadow at times. She even let him chew on her Nylabones. She never let Shadow do that.

Anyway, her loud grumpiness made hubby grumpier, and his louder grumpiness made me “testy“. Not a good day. My brother – bless him! – stayed in my office most of the day working on my computer. Smart man!!

Anyway, Ducky woke hubby and me before 5 am this morning – barking, crying, and whining – not really surprising considering she doesn’t like being closed in her crate, especially if I’m not nearby. But she had slept quietly in her crate all of the two nights before. I came out to the living room to calm her down, but five minutes later she was complaining again. So I grabbed my pillows and a blanket and came out to sleep on the couch. But even opening the crate didn’t settle the little princess. And I just gave up on the idea of going back to sleep. I got dressed, grabbed my jacket and the flashlight, and took her out to the back yard. She did her business and we came back inside. But she still wouldn’t settle down. And Radar started getting “antsy” in his crate, so I opened his crate too. Then we all made two more trips out to the yard (about ten minutes apart).

Finally! Peace and quiet, and an end to Ducky’s earlier restlessness. I was – of course – wide awake after three trips out to the sloppy, rain-saturated, back yard; but my dogs settled down in close proximity to each other. It was when I looked up from my reading – I was catching up on some blog posts – that I saw the image I captured in the first photo. Now look at them.

And here I sit, still over-tired, groggy, and on my second cup of coffee. I’m going to have to keep a watchful eye on Ducky today. Normally she’s not grumpy, just demanding. If she’s back to her normal self today, I won’t worry; but if she’s grumpy again, I’ll call the vet tomorrow morning. When this little girl is grumpy, it’s normally something physical making her that way. And hubby’s impatience doesn’t help, either. Maybe she just needs more “Mom and Me” time.

Oh well, the sun is trying to come out from between the clouds, so maybe we’ll have a brighter day. Happy Sunday Everyone!

Dementia Caregiving Ain’t For Wimps!

As most of our readers know, Ducky’s HuDad was diagnosed with dementia last year; and we’ve been through some weeks of dementia-related episodes.

This past week has seen more episodes. Without going into details, I can tell you they were not directed at me like the past ones. BUT random short ones have been directed at poor Ducky all week. Thankfully he hasn’t tried to hurt her, but he has yelled at her. And we all know that “barking” back at a dog – especially an already anxious one – just makes matters worse. The problem is that hubby has absolutely no reasoning ability when the dementia takes hold. 💔

I’ve been able to keep myself on an even keel by constantly reminding myself that it’s the dementia, not hubby.

But how does one explain to a dog why “Daddy” sometimes acts like an ogre? It’s not possible. 💔 So I do my best to stay calm and help her calm down. She’s resting at the moment; but every time hubby says anything or gets up to do something, she gets anxious again.

If you’ve noticed I haven’t been around much lately, this is why.

Right now Ducky wants to be back outside and away from her Daddy’s negative energy.

It’s hot out here, but I’ve got her favorite toy, water bowl, and my water. If being outside helps my baby girl feel better, it’s worth putting up with the heat for a while.

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. 🤞

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.

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.

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…