Happy 8th Gotcha Day Ducky!!

It’s hard to believe you’ve been with us for eight years! I remember that first day like it was yesterday.

Ducky on Adoption Day

You were so darn cute! Even though you were – as Dr. Steve named you a week later – a “little wild child”, you had stolen our hearts that weekend we fostered you.

Callie and – especially – Shadow didn’t know what to make of you. You had turned their calm, quiet lives upside down and inside out that weekend. And it took them a few days to figure out you were here to stay this time.

You drove us all to distraction at times. As far as Shadow was concerned, your first day at A Dog’s Day Out was the best birthday present I could ever have given her. 🤣 You came home too tired to be a pest.

After Daycare

Fast forward less than three years, and you helped Shadow, Daddy, and me through our grief over losing Callie to the lymphoma. And three and a half years later, you helped us through saying goodbye to Shadow as she reunited with Callie.

You were thrilled to have a friend again when we added Radar to our little family. He became your best friend and brother almost overnight. You two had a blast together every day.

Losing Radar to the heartworm disease just a few days after his third month with us had begun was devastating. All three of us were in a fog of disbelief, of confusion, and of heartache. I still get leaky-eyed sometimes when I think of our Golden Angel Boy. But you came to our rescue again. You helped us lift that fog.

These last several months you’ve been dealing with those hind-end issues. You poor girl. You are so stoical. Thanks to the Your End of the Lead course (YEL 2.0) that I’ve been taking – especially the community of likeminded folks who helped me pick up on your clues – I was able to realize you needed veterinary attention. Dr. Steve, Dr. Simpson, and the entire staff at Sunrise Animal Hospital has been wonderful – no surprise! – in their care of you and teamwork with me to get you feeling better. Your issues have decreased substantially and continue to improve daily.

A few months ago, I wrote a post where I called you my little earth angel. And that proves to be true every minute of every day. I don’t know what I would do without you, Ducky. I don’t want to know. You – like your sisters before you – have become my canine soulmate. I (and Daddy) love you to the ends of the universe and back.

Our Sweet Baby Girl

So, here’s to you Miss Ducky! My sometime wild child and always loving baby girl. ❤️🐾❤️🐾❤️🐾

We’re Homebound (Mostly) But Not Quarantined

First of all, let me assure you that we are all well and as safe as anyone can be during this pandemic.

A lot and almost nothing has been going on around here since our last post. Ducky’s been going back to daycare a couple or three times a month since the middle of May, depending on her mobility issues. And we’ve pretty much become homebodies to a greater extent than we ever were in the past.

Hubby’s dementia-induced alternate persona – who I named Poindexter – has been here off and on since the pandemic caused a short-lived shutdown here in South Carolina, causing a great deal of anxiety for poor Ducky. As if that weren’t enough……

At the end of May / beginning of June Ducky had an allergic reaction to something which caused a secondary skin infection. Poor girl. To top it off, the vet felt she might have some arthritis starting up in her left hind leg. We had put her on Carprofen for a couple of weeks, which helped a bit; but once we took her off of it (because of the antibiotic she was on for the skin infection), the slight, intermittent limp started again. So back on the Carprofen for another week, along with her then-current joint supplement.

In July we had to have a new commode and sink installed in our only bathroom, causing a great deal of anxiety for poor Ducky on a day when she couldn’t be at daycare because of her mobility issues.

It was also in July, while I was doing ACE Free Work with Ducky – a topic worthy of its own future post – that I noticed she was leaning forward and favoring her hind left leg quite a bit while eating her breakfast every morning. When it only seemed to get worse as the week wore on, I sent the vet a video. I was afraid she may have some cruciate disease, in addition to the presumed arthritis. He was concerned enough after watching the video to suggest taking some X-rays.

Thankfully, the “rads” showed no sign of cruciate disease in either hind leg. They did, however, show that the left side of her pelvis had not completely formed as she was growing from puppyhood to adulthood. As a result, her left hip has some dysplasia. Thankfully, there is very little arthritis in the joint at this point. With a new course of Carprofen, some Gabapentin, and continued use of joint support supplements she started doing better. I had to change supplements, though, because I noticed – once she finished the Carprofen and Gabapentin – that the ones I’d been giving her weren’t working as well any more. So, back on the Gabapentin until she moves from the initial dosage to the maintenance dosage of the new supplement. I *think* that it’s starting to work already; but I won’t know for sure until we stop the Gabapentin.

So there you have it – our last 4 or 5 months in a few paragraphs. I’m working on the free work post, but I need some input from friends (in the UK) who know more about it than I do. Trust me, though, it’s a great way to have fun with your dog and learn more about her/him in the process!

Home from the Vet

Radar is home from the vet after his first heartworm treatment.

The discharge instructions say “Dion #1507* needs to be confined and as quiet as possible to avoid post-treatment complications.”

(* this is the rescue’s name and number for our boy.)

I think our boy is following doctor’s orders pretty well. Don’t you?

Radar and Ducky have both been asleep for most of the time since Radar and I arrived home. Once they wake up, I’m sure they’ll need to go outside but for now I’m enjoying the peace and quiet. 😊

The post-treatment complications referred to above include coughing, lethargy, coughing up blood, fever, and breathing difficulty. These complications arise when the dog is not well confined and has too much activity (running, playing, etc.) leading to clots “thrown into” the lungs from the dying adult worms.

I don’t think I have to worry about Radar’s activity level today….

The vet said that Radar did very well for his first heartworm treatment. We will make sure that he continues to do “very well” so that he can have the second (double dose) treatment in one month, and eventually test negative for evidence of any remaining heartworm infection.

Progress reports will appear here as time goes by.

Not-So-Lucky Ducky

Well, it’s Sunday again; and the beginning of a brand-new week. And time for a new post about #thisdog who keeps us on our toes constantly.

Remember on Friday last when I wrote about the charmed life that Ducky leads? As a reminder, you can read that post here.

Well, she wasn’t so lucky yesterday. As is our normal routine, after Ducky had her breakfast, she and I came out to the yard for a while. After we’d been out here for about an hour, I noticed she was making faces 🤪 and pawing at her nose. She looked like a pup who had just sampled a spoonful of vinegar. And then she started hacking – like she had something caught in her throat – so I opened her mouth but couldn’t see anything.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the hacking was what the vet world calls a “reverse sneeze”.

Anyway, it was time for me to get our roast started for dinner, so I brought Ducky inside and put hubby in charge of watching her. She seemed okay, so I took care of a few other things and went to check on her myself. And she started hacking again. So, I decided to take her to the emergency vet to see what was going on. She obviously wasn’t feeling up to par.

We got to the emergency vet, checked in, and I put Ducky in my lap. I turned her to face me and that’s when I saw it. Her upper left lip was swollen to where it was drooping over the lower lip even while she was panting. So I tied her leash to the bench and walked over to the receptionist to tell her what I’d just discovered. I went back to get Ducky so I could put her on the scale.

The receptionist and I put 2 and 2 together and decided Miss Ducky was having an allergic reaction to something. So one of the techs brought her to the back, the vet gave her a shot of Benadryl, and then they put her in one of the kennels so they could observe her for a little while. And I kept busy texting with two of my friends.

About half an hour later, the same tech came out to get me and we walked back to one of the exam rooms. We talked about what had been going on the last couple of days with this crazy dog. Then the vet brought Ducky into the room. In her attempts to make the itch go away, she had rubbed a small spot on her nose raw. And she had pooped in the kennel, so it was time to let her be with me. I noticed the swelling on her lip had gone down considerably already.

The vet, tech, and I talked a little bit and decided that Ducky had probably air snapped at a bee 🐝 buzzing near her earlier in the day and got stung in the lip in the process. Ouchie!!

While the tech printed out the discharge instructions back in the treatment area, Ducky and I waited in the exam room. I could tell Ducky was already starting to feel better: she started whining and pawing at the door. “Let’s go home, Mom! I wanna get outta here!”

She slept on the couch most of the rest of the afternoon and evening and went right back to sleep in her crate at bedtime. 😴

She awoke this morning, “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as usual, and in full-on, turbo-charged mode. Ready to beg hubby for some of his cinnamon roll.

I wonder if this will be one of those life’s lessons learned for Ducky? I hope so!! If not, I at least have more Benadryl in the house now to treat her with. My crazy, lovable, challenging dog! I don’t know about her sometimes, but I love her to the moon and back! ❤️❤️

I Almost Gave In

As hubby and a few of my local friends are aware, I’ve spent the last week or two considering adding a new Golden Retriever puppy to our little family.

I checked local GR rescue groups’ websites, tried reaching out to two breeders I knew of on FB Messenger, asked local friends – some of whom work for our vet – if they know of other breeders, etc.

Yesterday, I found the phone number of Callie’s breeder. And I called her. She has a litter, and one puppy left from that litter. A little female. I felt my heart skip a beat. I had had my heart set on a male; but hubby said the gender didn’t matter to him. And he’s the reason I was even considering getting another dog to begin with.

The price Debbie was asking nearly floored me. I mean, I know it’s been 15 years since we brought Callie home; but good grief! Anyway, I was willing to pay it if hubby really wanted another Golden puppy.

Then reality “hit” me square in the face: I’m. just. not. ready. I’m still too emotionally raw after “losing” Shadow four months ago. And I don’t believe Ducky’s quite ready for a younger sibling. And then there’s the long-term commitment: food, vet care, training, enrichment, time, etcetera.

So, I called Debbie back and thanked her for offering to lower her price “just because I know you and know you’re a good pet parent”; but I had to decline. She understands. I knew she would.

Some day, maybe, the time and circumstances will be right. I hope so, at least. I do sooooo want another Golden. I’m thankful that hubby understands that this is not the right time. And I’m thankful to my friends for their support on both sides of the decision.

There’s so much to be thankful for, but friends and family sums it all up pretty well. I love you all! ❤️

I’m joining Brian’s Home Blog in the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop! Visit some other blogs to see what they are thankful for.

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Falling Down on the Job

Ducky must be sick. Or hurting. Or something.

If you look closely, you’ll see a squirrel on the ground to the right of the bird feeder. He’s eating the sunflower seeds that he – or one of his buddies – scooped out of the feeder.

The whole time he was there, Ducky was laying in the grass, not far from the carport where I’ve been sitting and drinking my coffee. Laying there, just watching and at times even completely ignoring the li’l critter.

In the video you can barely see the critter to the left of the feeder, picking at more sunflower seeds.

My friend Jan at Wag n Woof Pets said “we all have off days…” Maybe she’s right, but for Ducky, this is one for the record books!! 🤣

Maybe I should schedule full-body x-rays for Ducky at the vet’s and even a brain scan?!

The Change, Part 4

Well, the last change I wrote about here didn’t last very long. About the third or fourth day in, Ducky upchucked her whole dinner. And I didn’t like the way the stuff looked when I rehydrated it going by the directions, so I gave up. Luckily I bought the box from Chewy so I had no trouble getting a full refund on the product. I just brought it to the vet and put it in his bucket for our county animal shelter (the one from which we adopted Ducky 6-1/2 years ago).

So, what to do? I swore on a whole stack of bibles (well, not literally speaking) that I would NEVER go back to the Hills’ Prescription Diet food. (That was even before the initial recall for the Vitamin D excesses. And they’ve expanded the recall twice already!) And I had promised hubby that I wouldn’t buy any more of the The Farmer’s Dog food than I already had (there was still one more order due to arrive a few days after I made the promise). So, I had to come up with another plan. I thought of trying other commercial, dehydrated brands but never could find one that appealed to me, especially after the fiasco with the Only Natural Pet stuff mentioned in Part 3 of our “saga”.  So, I decided I’d buy some doggy vitamins from Pet Naturals of Vermont (via Chewy of course) and make the food myself. And I just don’t have the stomach for a raw diet – either homemade or commercially dehydrated.

And then the unthinkable happened. Shadow started her decline. She went from loving every meal from The Farmer’s Dog and actually taking her medications that were hidden in the food to not wanting any food, not even treats. So, I fed Ducky her meals and pleaded with Shadow to at least eat something. When Shadow left us to reunite with Callie, I still had about 12 of the 14 packs of food I’d gotten in my last order. So, I used them – reproportioning them for Ducky’s needs – and then used Ducky’s remaining packs.

As of last Monday, I’m feeding Ducky an all-homecooked diet of ground turkey, carrots, spinach, and chickpeas. And I’ve been researching the grain-free vs. not-grain-free issue that the USDA warned about a few months ago. (Many thanks to Jen at My Brown Newfies for her article about that! It was the best one I’ve read; and totally un-biased!). I also bought a few books about homecooked dog food. I’ll tell you about those another time, but two of them were suggested by Maggie at the Oh My Dog! Blog. So far, Ducky’s enjoying her home-cooked meals. And I’m enjoying making them for her.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thankful Thursday

Hubby, Ducky, and I have so much to be thankful for that I’m glad Brian of Brian’s home has set up (and maintains) the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

We are thankful to all our friends and family for all the love and moral support you gave us these last several weeks while we dealt with Shadow’s heartbreaking decline and the decision to let her join her sister, Callie, in Heaven.

We are thankful for our wonderful vets, Dr. Steve Coluqhoun and Dr. Tyler Simpson and the wonderful staff at Sunrise Animal Hospital who gave our sweet Shadow the best care anywhere. In fact, Dr. Steve has been caring for all our furry and feathered family members for a long time.

We are thankful for the love and devotion of all our dogs – Kissy, Callie, Shadow, and Ducky – over the years we’ve been together. And right now especially for Ducky who has been helping us deal with the loss of her beloved sister. She misses Shadow, too, and still looks for her. I try to limit her time alone in the house to an hour these days. Just like I did with Shadow when Callie first got her angel wings.

So, that’s a part of what we’re thankful for. Click on the links below and see what other bloggers are thankful for this week.

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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. 🤞