Time Flies…

…when you’re having fun!

Friday is the last day of my externship for my Veterinary Assistant course. And I’m torn between remaining as a volunteer and getting back to my former life as a retired person. 

I have truly enjoyed the hands-on experience I’ve had throughout my time behind the scenes at our vet’s hospital. I know there are many things I need more practice with to become an even better vet assistant. But I also know it takes time to hone one’s skills. All the “girls” and both Dr. Steve and Dr. Simpson have been super-patient with my more-than-occasional lapses in concentration. And I appreciate it more than they could possibly know.  

From the start, my heart has cried for the pet parents whose furry “kids” have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses or been aided in their journeys to the Rainbow Bridge. And rejoiced with the pet parents who received good news.

Something I was afraid would “turn my stomach” – watching surgery on an animal – actually ended up fascinating me. I wouldn’t want to HAVE TO be the vet/surgeon performing the surgery. And I don’t know that I could handle watching surgery on my own dogs; but the surgery itself and the vet’s skill and devotion to his patients just blew me away.  So did the skill of the techs assisting with the surgeries. These gals are fantastic! 

While I am definitely looking forward to getting my former life back – to some degree at least – my life has been irrevocably changed by this experience. 

I am truly grateful to Dr. Steve for having agreed to let me do my externship under his tutelage. And I am grateful to Dr. Steve, Dr. Simpson, and the entire staff at Sunrise Animal Hospital for their mentoring, assistance, guidance, and unending patience as I watched, participated, fumbled, and learned my way through my externship.

TGIF 

It has been a busy week around here and I’m glad it’s about over.

As I started writing the draft of this post on Tuesday morning, my sweet, loving Golden Shadow was in a kennel at the vet’s office. 

She was awaiting her turn with Dr. Steve, and for me to return for her.

Last Friday, we did a re-check of her liver enzyme levels after 30 days on the Denosyl.

The Denosyl did not work. Those enzyme levels which were elevated 36 days ago were even more elevated this time. And other levels were also elevated that had been in the normal range. 

So, on Tuesday afternoon – at the vet’s recommendation – we did an ultrasound on her liver and abdominal region.  

Turns out she has some old-age abscesses in her liver which we will be treating with Ampicillin and Denamarin for a month. She also has a small nodule in her spleen that does NOT appear to have any worrisome characteristics. But just to be on the safe side we will do another ultrasound in a month to check on it.

Meanwhile, Ducky had the first of two CIV (Canine Influenza Virus) vaccinations on Tuesday morning as well. It doesn’t reach its full efficacy until two weeks after the second “shot”. So, our little girl will not be going back to daycare until some time in July. I’m not taking any unnecessary chances of her being infected and passing it on to Shadow. Especially now. She seems happy enough to stay home…

So today – as always – I am thankful that we have a great relationship with a wonderful vet. And, by the way, his hospital/practice is now accredited by the #AAHA.

I’m also thankful for – among so many other blessings – our wonderful pet-loving community. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without y’all!  (I meant to join the Thankful Thursday blog hop but didn’t have time.)

The Ducky Diary

My long-term readers might remember that I’ve been keeping track of Ducky’s snarkiness toward Shadow for quite some time. First in my head  – for several months – and more recently in a journal.

This journal has been a life saver! Well, maybe not a life saver, but it has certainly been a HUGE memory booster.

The last two weeks had been “heavenly.” Ducky had been calm and happy and fine with Shadow. She gave me a wonderful – the best ever – Mother’s Day gift of getting along and playing with Shadow.  (Along with these beautiful roses from her daddy, her sister, and her.)

Last night – thanks to my notes in The Ducky Diary – I knew she wasn’t feeling quite right. Even hubby – who’s usually as observant as a fence post – noticed “his little girl” wasn’t feeling well.

This morning she was still giving off some negative energy, so I called the vet. They were able to work us into his schedule. And I was able to tell him exactly what has been going on. He “fixed her up”, gave me some meds for her, and sent us on our way. She’s already feeling better than she was this morning. 

So. The moral of the story? If you’re having an issue with your pet(s), start keeping a journal of it. Even if you think you’ll remember later, just jot it down quick and date it. Life has a way of distracting us and making us forget little details. And it’s usually those little things that matter most.

Dog Mom Shames Self

You would think that after watching and writing about Ducky’s interactions – good, bad, or neutral – with Shadow since Callie got her angel wings that I would realize when something is amiss.

But noooooo. DUHHH! After nearly 16 months it finally sunk in on Wednesday morning. 

I made an appointment with the vet on Monday thinking Ducky had somehow ended up with another UTI, despite the surgery in late February. She had been licking back there – almost constantly – all day Sunday. 

Ducky had been increasingly bratty toward Shadow (again!) since the previous Thursday night. She was snarky almost every waking moment; and hubby was getting snarky with her and me. Talk about stress overload! But we all survived.

Wednesday morning while Ducky and I waited in the exam room, it hit me like a smack upside the head. 🙄

Since Callie 😇 went to Heaven/the Rainbow Bridge/ in late August 2015, Ducky had been acting sweeter, more considerate/respectful of Shadow. EXCEPT when she wasn’t feeling well. 

Every. Single. Time. Ducky isn’t feeling well, she takes it out on poor Shadow. Because Shadow won’t “tell her off” like Callie used to, or like hubby and I do. Shadow just isn’t built that way.  

Anyway, Ducky’s medical issue this time was a slightly impacted, somewhat inflamed right anal gland. How she ended up with that is beyond me. But the vet cleaned her out, gave her some loving, and sent some Carprofen and antibiotics home with us. She started feeling better almost immediately afterward. And having a spa treatment at daycare a few hours later? Well, she was just in doggie heaven that night! ☺️

During the exam, I mentioned to the vet how hubby and I were seriously considering consulting a veterinary behaviorist about Ducky’s bratitude. 

And how it had finally dawned on me that it’s only really problematic when she isn’t feeling well. So, since we really can’t afford a behaviorist anyway, the vet suggested I start keeping track of Ducky’s worst days/nights and obsessive behaviors.  He feels I’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head, but the only way to be sure is to keep a written record of it. So, that’s what I’m going to do from this point forward. 

Anyway, things are pretty much back to normal. We spent most of the day Thursday in the yard without a peep out of Ducky. Even when Shadow sniffed at “her” toy for a moment. (I was so stunned by Ducky’s lack of reaction that I couldn’t even say “good girl!” in time for her to know why I’d said it.)

Just Me and My Shadow

To look at Shadow today, you would never know she was feeling a bit under the weather this past weekend.

Poor Shadow had a slightly upset digestive tract this past weekend. Thankfully, it only manifested itself via the back end so I didn’t have to call the vet via his smartphone. A few Imodium tablets – broken in half – and a slight change of diet had her feeling better by Sunday night. 

I did take her to the vet on Monday morning, though, as a precautionary measure. After all, next Sunday is her half-year birthday. (And Callie’s second birthday in Heaven.) My sweet girl isn’t getting any younger. 

We decided to keep her on the blander diet for a while, just to help her system stabilize. We’ll keep track of her weight, too, because the vet feels she lost a little too much weight since her annual exam in January. He did a thorough hands-on exam of her abdominal area and everything felt fine, no change. So we’re increasing her daily calories a bit. We don’t want her losing any more muscle mass than an aging dog normally would lose.

After taking Ducky to daycare and having breakfast with hubby this morning, I put Shadow’s harness on her and we went to the ballfield across the road for a walk. Just the two of us. We walked around the field twice and came home. Then we came out to the back yard to play. 

Again. Just me and my Shadow. I love this sweet Golden Girl. She lights up my days and sweetens my nights. My sunshine comes from the love light in her eyes. 

Oh, Ducky! Part 4 – The Progress Continues

And the progress continues…..

Since I “published” Part 3 (found here), Ducky has come a LONG way.

And hubby has been less grumpy with her (and even with me).

And my patience level – at least with Ducky and her daddy – has stabilized somewhat. In other areas not so much but I’m working on it.

But back to Ducky….


Since I started using the H-style harness, my little “demonbrat” has become easier to settle down. And my – and hubby’s – tone of voice has grown less harsh. And the tension has eased somewhat.

After re-reading the last paragraph of Part 3 -and really observing Ducky’s behavior patterns – I decided that the Trazodone wasn’t helping Ducky at all. So off to the vet we went. Again.

The vet suggested – and I agreed – to try Xanax instead of the Trazodone. The Xanax – I’m happy to report – started helping right away. Between it and the single daily dose of Fluoxetine, Ducky has been calming down much more easily. She hasn’t been as snarky with Shadow, which is good, but still needs improvement. These things take time, perseverance, and loads of patience. 

Plus, the UTI had come back – or never really went away – so, since we were already at the vet’s anyway, I brought up that fact. He said that the UTI is probably as much to blame for her tail tucks as our impatience. She was just plain hurting back there. And she’s much more forgiving of our failings than we are ourselves. He changed her antibiotic, and for the most part it helped. The wet leaves, dirt, and grass from all the rain we were having seemed to aggravate it a bit though. So I took to cleaning her after potty breaks, and that seems to have helped. We’ve had some pretty days again lately so the grass and leaves have dried out. That has helped, too.

As for the online course I was doing?  I had to put it aside for a little while. I haven’t stopped doing it altogether. I just had to slow down with it. After decades of “multitasking” at work, it’s hard to reset and focus on just one thing at a time. I have to make myself slow down and relax sometimes.  I can’t expect Ducky to relax if I’m hyped-up. 

Oh, Ducky… 

I started writing this post last night – and accidentally published it with just the title – but have since trashed it. So, bear with me as I try again to put the story out there into Blogville.

Last night Ducky got snarky with Shadow again. Not just the growling and grumbling type of snarky, but the nasty, scary, “I want to hurt you” type. Poor Shadow was totally taken aback, totally surprised by Ducky’s viciousness toward her. So were hubby and I. It happened so fast that even though I caught a glimpse of it coming, I couldn’t get out of my chair fast enough to prevent it. And, believe me when I say I’ve become quite adept at preventing these horrible moments. But this one I missed – the earliest clues at least – completely.

Shadow was standing near the one dog bed, looking at it as if trying to decide if she wanted to curl up on it. Ducky was standing nearby. Hubby and I were watching a movie, and at first neither of us noticed Ducky’s intense focus on Shadow. Suddenly Ducky was growling and trying to bite Shadow’s front legs while Shadow tried to back away from her. Ducky wouldn’t let go. I tried a few times to grab Ducky’s collar from behind her; but Shadow was trying to defend herself, and I didn’t want her to accidentally bite me in the process. I finally managed to grab Ducky’s collar and pull her away as Shadow backed away. I smacked Ducky on the rear end, shouted “bad girl!” at her, and then closed her in the room downstairs for a while so I could tend to Shadow. Admittedly, smacking Ducky on the butt probably was not a good idea, but she sure knew that I was angry.

Shadow was physically fine. Hubby thought he noticed her limping but then said she seemed to be walking normally. I lovingly checked her over – head to toe – and found no sign of any damage. So I gave her lots of belly and chest rubs and kisses and reassured her that she had done nothing wrong and was, as always, a very good girl. And she quickly forgave her little sister. I figured it was time to check on the little brat.

I went downstairs, clipped the long leash to Ducky’s collar, brought her back upstairs and put her in a place command on the new dog bed we received recently. She looked at me with those pleading, sorrowful eyes and fell asleep. I kept the leash attached to her collar and the handle end in my hand the rest of the night until we came in from their bedtime potty break. Hubby and I took turns watching Ducky so we could each get ready for bed. She had calmed down by then, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Since I got up this morning I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what caused Ducky’s “outburst” last night. At the time there didn’t seem to be any truly good “reason” for it. Shadow wasn’t anywhere near Ducky’s favorite toy. And she certainly wasn’t coveting any attention from either hubby or me.

It dawned on me that any time Ducky has been snarky with Shadow these past 15 months (since Callie became a heaven’s angel), it has been when she was feeling under the weather for whatever reason. And most of the time that reason was at least partly due to her anxieties.

Recently I’ve been seeing that Prozac may be having negative effects on dogs being treated with it, as Ducky is, for anxiety and the canine equivalent of OCD (whatever they call it in veterinary medicine). I have some research to do this weekend. On Monday I will be making an appointment with our vet to discuss Ducky’s renewed snarkiness toward Shadow. I want to go to the appointment armed with as much information as I can find so we can decide on our options. I am beyond fed up with Ducky’s snarky treatment of Shadow. While there’s no chance I would ever surrender her to the shelter, I’m not going to allow this behavior to continue without consequences that she can understand. There has to be a way to help her medically in addition to exercise and positive reinforcement. So far today she is back to being the sweet and sassy little pooch I fell in love with four years ago – playing nicely with Shadow here in the yard and in the house.

Sorry, no photos today folks. Just me thinking out loud and sharing my thoughts.

Why I Trust Our Vet

Early yesterday I noticed a response to a comment I made on a blog post about the differences between IBD and IBS. This response, while well-intentioned I’m sure, irked me a bit. So I was glad that my friend had already responded to it by the time I noticed it. And she did so in such a way that I didn’t have to add my own thoughts.

Still, that response from a stranger bothered me all afternoon. So I’ve decided to get it off my chest, per sé.

Why do some people feel the need to suggest to strangers that they should change a pet’s diet?  This person doesn’t know me, my hubby, or our dogs, from a hole in the wall.  She has no way of knowing what kind of relationship we have with our dogs’ veterinarian; nor his knowledge of pet nutrition. And this person is not even a veterinarian herself. So, whatever happened to the “I’m not a vet” disclaimer? 

First of all, our vet has been our vet for 16 years. He has treated all of our dogs – from Kissy, my poodle who was five years old when I first moved us down here from Long Island almost 23 years ago, to Ducky, who joined our family nearly four years ago.  Our vet has been there for us through Kissy’s final days and through our beloved Callie’s battle with cancer and everything before, during, and since those “events.”

Our vet is a good man. He’s honest, forthright, compassionate, and he truly cares about his patients. He sells the prescription diets at his hospital as a convenience for his clients whose pets need them, not as a way to make extra money. The profit he might make off the sale of a case – or bag – of these foods probably wouldn’t buy coffee and a pastry at Starbucks.

When Ducky was first suffering through her IBS issues, our vet gave me his personal mobile phone number in case something came up for which I needed advice. (I tried not to abuse the privilege since we do have an emergency animal clinic nearby staffed by wonderful, caring folks.)

And when Callie was so sick at the end from the lymphoma, our vet and his wife took time out of their busy Saturday to meet me at his hospital and hook her up to IV meds that got her feeling better for most of the rest of the weekend. 

I’m aware that not all vet schools have provided much pet nutrition education in the past. Aside from a very basic course in dog and cat nutrition, I don’t have any formal education in that area either. I mostly rely on my common sense and some research. And our vet. I have not always agreed with our vet’s suggestions about our dogs’ diets; however, I have always known that his suggestions are made in the dogs’ best interests. Over this past year, I have fully transitioned Shadow and Ducky to one of the diets our vet suggested. And both dogs have done well on them. Much better than on the premium foods that I’ve tried for them in the past. And raw diets are totally out of the question. I won’t even discuss them any more. The raw diets may be good for some dogs – and I don’t judge anyone who swears by them – but they aren’t for us or for our dogs. And our vet agrees with us. 

So, I’ll close by saying that even when our vet and I “agree to disagree” on certain things related to our dogs, in the long and short run I will follow his advice.

Okay, rant over.  #LettingItGo

#LoveOurVet

So The Vet Said…

About ten days ago I shared with you that I was concerned about Shadow’s odd meal-time behaviors in my post, Senior Eye Exam Scheduled

I wish I could have gotten a better video to show her odd behavior, but it just didn’t work out. 


As I told the vet, any time she senses that she’s being watched, Shadow stops eating. Period. But that being said….

When I finished telling the vet my slightly abbreviated version, the vet checked everything. Shadow’s eyes, her teeth, her spleen/abdomen area, and his records on her past visits. Her teeth are all good – which I expected him to say – except for a little tartar on one of her premolars. She does not have cataracts. She has a little bit of sclerosis (hardening) of the lens of both eyes; but it’s so slight that it is not a concern, nor is it painful.

I raised the concern that she’s not eating enough to stay healthy. The vet knows me well enough to know how hypersensitive I am to Shadow’s issues after Callie’s illness last year. I told him that on days when she eats her full meals she gets between 800 and 1,000 calories…

“For a dog her size, her age, and her activity level, she’s getting enough calories on average.” She had lost very little weight since January – maybe 4 ounces, if even that – so we’ll just do monthly weight checks and see if there’s any need for concern.

“In short,” the vet said, “Shadow is playing with your head. She knows your emotions well. So, what I suggest is some ‘tough love’ at meal time. Continue with the same food; and when she walks away from it, pick up the bowl and put away whatever’s left until the next meal. Eventually she’ll figure out that if she’s hungry, she’s going to have to eat her whole meal first time around. She’s not going to starve. If she starts losing weight too quickly, we’ll run tests again; but I don’t believe she will. There’s nothing in her chart to worry me right now.”

And with all that out of the way, we had to do an X-ray on her left foot. Since Wednesday afternoon, she’d been alternating between favoring the foot slightly and really limping noticeably. I’d been using ice packs on it and giving her some Tramadol; but it didn’t help. Turns out that in one of her jaunts around the yard – chasing the ball – she stumbled and sprained the second joint of the left toe on her left, front foot. (We did the X-ray to rule out any tumors.) So, she’s on rest, Tramadol, and generic Carprofen for the week. We go back for a re-check on Friday. She was already walking better by Friday night, so the Carprofen must be working. 🙂