Friday, September 19, 2014

Caring for Super Seniors

We are participating in the Caring For Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like a Dog. Caring for Critters is where you can read about pet parents' experiences with various health concerns to gain insight and hope for issues you may face.














Super Seniors
I share my home with senior dogs--Kelly, a 13-year-old spaniel-mix and Ike, a 9-year-old golden retriever. We find we love the wisdom and slower pace of the seniors. There are, however, some health concerns that come along with it, too.

Kelly and Ike have good fashion sense!





















Always Hot and Thirsty
Kelly is 13, but she's really spry, and loves to jump onto furniture and run in the yard. Sometimes, however, Kelly gets on these jags where she can't get enough water. She drains her water bowl dry, and a few hours later will do it again. In addition, she pants a lot, even when it seems comfortably cool in the house. At first I thought she might have diabetes. But her bloodwork for that was fine. What it did reveal, however, was risk factors that led the vet to diagnose Cushing's Disease. This disease is often found in older dogs, and has to do with the adrenal glands. Here are some symptoms:
increased thirst
increased urination
increased appetite
excessive panting
lethargy
hair loss

Kelly has all but the hair loss and lethargy. The vet will be conducting some more bloodwork to make a conclusive diagnosis. The disease can be managed with medication. Right now Kelly is doing very well. Her doctor will keep an eye on the illness.

Just a few gray hairs to show for her age.
















Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go
Standing up became difficult for our 11-year-old Dalmatian, Schuyler. He slept in the kitchen because he could no longer manage the stairs up to the bedroom. One morning I came downstairs and found him lying in a puddle of urine and feces. Shocked, I started to scold him. He was old enough to know better! But immediately, I saw the hurt in his eyes. He couldn't help it. He'd become incontinent. I gently cleaned up the mess while talking to Schuyler in soft, reassuring tones. I helped him outside and we walked slowly in the grass together. We dealt with Schuyler's incontinence for more than a year, as long as the veterinarian said he wasn't in pain and was otherwise suffering. I cleaned his fur and hugged him and told him how much he was loved. Here is what worked for us:
1. Take him outside more frequently during the day
2. Confine him to the kitchen at night, so clean up is easier
3. Give him a nice, soft, comfortable bed with a washable cover. We had two covers to switch out when one was in the wash.
4. Keep regular visits with the veterinarian to assess his overall health and pain level, if any.

Schuyler was our first dog.
















What You See May Not be What You Get
All of our senior dogs have had some degree of achy joints or arthritis. We've bought big, comfortable  orthopedic beds, and increased exercise where appropriate, and at times used prescriptions from our veterinarian. But there was one time when the symptoms seem to point to joint pain, but the problem actually was something else.

We adopted Brooks, a lovely, large, gentle golden retriever, when he was 11 years old. He had a beautiful, slow pace of life and responded to the softest word. "Brooksy, come here," I'd say, and the next thing I knew, he'd be in my lap. He was my constant companion. Nearly a year after we adopted Brooks, I noticed that all of a sudden, he didn't want to sit or lie down. He just stood, staring off into space. The next day, he abruptly stood up in the middle of the night. He didn't bark or cry in pain, he just stood. We brought him to the veterinarian, assuming he had something wrong with his hips or joints. Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case. The x-rays revealed that he was full of cancer. We were glad that we investigated the situation further, and not just assumed it was the most obvious conclusion.
Brooks enjoyed the outdoors.


















Cancer
Everyone's experience with cancer is so different.

When Brooks was diagnosed with cancer, he was given 4 to 8 weeks to live. A few days before this, he'd had no symptoms, was breathing without trouble (even though his lungs were full of dozens of tumors), was eating and relieving himself without problem. We brought him home from his appointment and it seemed as if his ability to move decreased by the hour. My husband made a ramp out of a plank to help him get down the back steps, but he wouldn't get on it. The next day Mike stayed home from work to be with Brooks. At one point Brooks seemed to indicate that he wanted to take a walk. The three of us went outside and wandered down the street. Brooks moved very slowly, but seemed to enjoy every smell, lifting his head and catching an aroma in the air, nosing the ground. We didn't go far, but he enjoyed that walk. We spent the whole day loving him and being together. That evening he slept with his head on Mike's feet. Then, he stood up and started thrashing, his mouth foaming, biting at the furniture. He was having a grand mal seizure. I was afraid that he might accidentally bite us. He clearly wasn't himself. We somehow got him outside, away from Kelly who was anxious and confused by the seizure. The seizure ended and he collapsed into sleep. Then it happened again, and again. We covered him with blankets to keep him warm. Our son came over to help us get an 80-lb seizing dog into the car to transport to the emergency vet. Poor Brooks. The vet explained that the cancer had probably spread to his brain. Given his age, and the extent of the cancer, there was no hope. I stayed with him for a long time before I could consent to having his suffering ended.
He was a good boy.
As sad as it was, and still is, I don't for one second regret adopting a senior dog.

Cancer may be treated with radiation, amputation, medication. Some dogs recover and do well. We can't live in fear of cancer. Or any illness. Take good care of your dog and shower him love and attention every day. Make each day the best.

Brooks fell asleep just about anywhere!



















Slow and Easy
Ike is 9 years old--a senior dog, but not quite geriatric. He's got white spectacles. He has some allergies. He doesn't move so fast. He gets tired after fetching the ball 3 or 4 times. He needs a little boost to climb into the car. His teeth are worn and need a cleaning. He's had some health concerns--his heart rate is too slow. His digestion is sensitive. But overall, Ike's a super senior and doing great!

Dr. Ike at your service.








































This is only my experience. Please keep in mind that this is not advice on how to heal your pet, it's just what worked and what didn’t work for us.  As always, please consult your vet before making any health decisions for your pets.

Tomorrow, please visit The Hailey and Zaphod Chronicles  to learn about auto-immune disorder, specifically, immune mediated hepatitis causing cirrhosis of the liver.

And see the entire list of posts here on Caring for Critters community page.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is this Healthy Dog Play?

Healthy play involves an equal give-and-take in roles and positions. How do you think Ike and Zeke are doing?

Zeke on top.









The cow jumped over the moon.


Ike on top.




















We're joining Wordless Wednesday blog hop!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Brooks' Books- Dogs to the Rescue and giveaway

Brooks' Books--Book Reviews for Pet Lovers














Today we are reviewing:

Dogs to the Rescue
Inspirational Stories of Four-Footed Heroes
by M.R. Wells
Harvest House Publishers, 2014

GIVEAWAY-
**Don't forget to enter for your chance to win one of 5 signed copies of the book. Enter the Rafflecopter below!!**





































Dogs are heroes.
The recent anniversary of 9-11 brought to mind all the working dogs that served valiantly during a national disaster. My husband's recent hospitalization put me in direct contact with wonderful therapy dogs that comfort the sick. And my own pets, Kelly and Ike, are heroes to me because of their devotion and love. And, if I haven't experienced enough hero dogs, I can pick up a great book and read Dogs to the Rescue by M.R. Wells

Dogs to the Rescue is a collection of inspirational stories featuring hero dogs--from service dogs to ordinary pets--that have helped their humans in sometimes unexpected ways. You'll read about:

*ZEKE-- a golden retriever that found a man who had been trapped in a snow cave for three days.

*UG--a chow chow that guarded his yard fiercely, yet displayed a gentle love to a 5 year old girl with leg braces and crutches.

*ROCKY--a Dalmatian that helped a school boy feel safe after the Columbine shootings.

In this book, you'll not only meet amazing dogs like Zeke, Ug and Rocky, but you'll also take away lessons to apply to your own life, as the author thoughtfully draws connections between dogs' heroism and the loving faithfulness of God.
"(Dogs) seem to sense things we humans don't. They are often willing to do what we can't or won't do for ourselves or each other. And in the caring, faithful, ongoing way they love and help us, they point us to God and His rescue." -M.R. Wells

M.R. Wells is the co-author of the popular Four Paws from Heaven, and many other devotionals for dog--and cat--lovers, and hu-mom to (left to right) Mica, Becca and Marley.


















Dogs to the Rescue is the perfect book for all of us with busy, stressful lives. It will leave you as calm and happy as if you were snuggling with a warm puppy. Better yet, read the book while snuggling with a warm puppy, or any furry best friend.

Enter the Rafflecopter today for your chance to win. There will be 5 lucky winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
*Full Disclosure- I was provided with one copy of Dogs to the Rescue to review, and 5 to giveaway. This in no way influenced my review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

*Looking for more positive pet tips, book news and more? Kelly and Ike say "Fetch! the newsletter" delivered free right to your mailbox once a month!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Dog Did What?

I love Chicken Soup for the Soul books. The short stories are fun, uplifting, and just right for reading a few in the doctor's waiting room or at night before bed. I'm also honored to have my stories published in several volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Just released is the newest Chicken Soup edition, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Dog Did What? 






































Description: Our dogs make us smile every day with their crazy antics and acts of love. This book is full of hilarious and heartwarming stories about the many ways our canine companions surprise us, make us laugh, and touch our hearts.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? will have you saying just that, as you read these 101 humorous and heartwarming stories about our lovable, goofy, and comical canines. Whether funny or serious, or both, these stories will make you laugh and touch your heart.
























Book sections include That Little Rascal, Who's in Charge Here? and Four Legged Therapists.My story is called Puppy Love. You'll laugh at the role my husband's and my new dalmatian puppy played in our honeymoon!

Check out Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Dog Did What? for your serving of stories about dogs doing what dogs do best-- surprising us with their cute, funny and adorably-naughty ways.
  • Series: Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chicken Soup for the Soul (August 19, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611599377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611599374
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*Want more positive pet tips and news? Kelly, Ike and Zeke say Fetch! the newsletter!

Friday, September 5, 2014

FitDog Friday- Ducks, Deer and things seen on the hike

I love the country, but I'm more of a "sit on the porch and watch the birds" kinda gal than a "get out there and hike in the wilderness" person. But what kind of a post for FitDog Friday would that make? So this Labor Day weekend, we decided the weather was just right for a lovely hike at Peebles State Park on Van Schoick Island near Troy, New York.




















We took Kelly, Ike and Zeke. The dog friendly trails included one receptacle for poo bags at the head/foot of the trail.






















Zeke was full of energy and very excited at all the new smells. The other dogs were happy, but containable. The weather was breezy and perfect. Still, it didn't take long before all tongues were hanging out!



















 Oddly, none of the dogs seemed to notice the several deer only yards away right next to the path.















Kelly and Ike got winded quickly. Even quicker than me!














At last, we shared a nice drink and relaxed. 














Join the FitDog Friday Blog Hop, hosted by Slimdoggy, To Dog With Love, and MY GBGV Life.

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