Shadow’s Exciting News

Shadow is participating in a clinical trial!

Let me begin by telling you that back in May – while I was still at my brother’s home – one of our two vets at Sunrise Animal Hospital called to talk to me about an exciting new treatment for canine joint disease that is still in the clinical testing phase.

Dr. Simpson told me that this new therapy (HUC-DT) uses the stem cells from human umbilical cords; and that he felt Shadow would be a good candidate for the treatment. A quick note here for those of you who, like me, have heard of stem cell therapy but aren’t familiar with how it works: stem cells are the cells present in all our bodies that are there to help heal and rebuild tissues. As we age, we have fewer stem cells but their healing and regenerative effect remains intact if needed.*

When we give a pet human stem cells, the stem cells migrate to the areas of pain and inflammation by following the body’s natural cues, and anchor themselves within the tissues, and begin stimulating the dog’s natural stem cell population to fight inflammation and rebuild tissues.”

The old method of using stem cell therapies in pets was mostly limited to what is known as mesenchymal stem cell transplants (MST). This method required not one surgery, but two surgeries. The first surgery involved anesthetizing the pet and harvesting a large amount of fat cells. Those cells were then sent to a lab where the stem cells were extracted, given various chemical treatments to “boost their vitality”, and shipped back to the veterinarian. Then the pet had to undergo anesthesia a second time to have the treated stem cells implanted. Such a process is not only costly and time-consuming, but also puts the pet at risk of potential dangerous anesthesia side effects twice. Not really a viable option for the older pet.*

The process Dr. Simpson used for Shadow (and other patients, including his own dog) does not involve anesthesia, or any chemicals to boost the stem cells’ viability. Dr. Simpson explains the whole procedure in the video clip below. (We had a slight technical issue at the very beginning which cut off some of Dr. Simpson’s introduction, but that’s okay. You can still get the idea.)

We also took videos of Shadow walking, and then jogging, down the long hallway outside the treatment area so we can document the results of the therapy. And we took some other photos as well.

Hubby and I are both cautiously optimistic about the eventual positive effects on Shadow’s overall quality of life; and excited by the all-natural and safety aspects of the treatment.

On average, results can be expected between four and six weeks following the treatment; but many of Dr. Simpson’s other patients started presenting subtle changes in behavior within two weeks that indicated the treatment was already helping them. I will follow up with more blog posts about how the treatment works for Shadow.

Lastly, I want to give credit where it’s due: All of the “technical” wording that’s either followed by an asterisk (*) or set within quotation marks is either paraphrased or directly quoted from Dr. Simpson’s white paper that he wrote about the HUC-DT treatment. He provided me with a copy for information purposes, and so I could write this post. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments. If I don’t know the answers, I’ll ask Dr. Simpson.

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. ❤️🎄❄️☃️

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.