Monday, November 30, 2009


As you all know, Samba is fighting a miserable disease called Masticatory Muscle Myositis. In easy non-technical terms, her immune system is attacking her jaw muscles.

Until two weeks ago I had never heard of this disease, so I thought I'd share our battle with you as we go thru the treatment.

The muscles of the jaw and temple are made of different matter than any of the other muscles in the body. For some reason, no one knows why, her immune system has decided that these muscles are foreign invaders and need to be wiped out, so it has started destroying them.

The treatment is high doses of steroids over a long period of time. Samba started off at 60 mg of Prednisone a day for two weeks. That's a high dose and we're seeing some nasty side effects. She has been having highly explosive diarrhea for several days and we're having trouble getting it under control. We're giving her special food and some drugs and hoping that when we start tapering her dosage, we can get it under control.

Samba's voice has changed. She used to snore loudly and growl frequently. Now she does neither of those. She had a deep bark, but her bark is now quite high pitched. These are a result of the steroid use.

The muscles in her jaw and temple have deteriorated to the point where she has deep indentations in her skull. Those will probably remain even after treatment. The muscle is destroyed and the surrounding muscles must pick up the slack.

At first Samba was unable to open her mouth and when she tried was in severe pain. With the treatment so far, she has regained some ability to use her mouth. She may never have full range of motion back, but seems to be pain free at this time.

I'm sure we'll go thru a lot more changes during the next six months as we continue treatment, but we'll face them as they come along.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's Going On?

Thanksgiving was the other day and Christmas is coming up fast, but something strange is going on.

Here's the gray wintry looking sky and the geese are heading south, but...

We've had warm temperatures in the mid to high sixties and look at the Butterfly Bush. It has all this new growth.

And in many spots in the yard we have wild Daisies blooming. What's that all about? Is Mother Nature confused? We worry about stuff like this because when the bad weather does suddenly get here the plants will be damaged and may not bloom in the spring.

What's going on with Samba? She's feeling better, not exhibiting any pain. She takes all her meds and they seem to be working because she can open her mouth a little wider every day. The steroids are bothering her intestinal tract and we're dealing with some explosive situations, but except for a couple accidents, we've been able to get outside in time. She's being a very good girl and we've going to try to beat this awful disease.

Sky is going to visit the nursing home again this week. We think after a few visits that he'll be more relaxed and since food might be involved, he's ready to try.

Tess found her favorite ball. It's been missing for months and I don't know where she found it, but she doesn't let it out of her sight now.

After breakfast everyone wants to thank us and get a scratch. Tsar eats about a third of my bagel each morning.

Do you know how difficult it is for a person with two hands to pet ten dogs at once?

Rob is learning to use the clippers and Morgan is his practice dog. She's very hard to groom because she has hair like cotton and it has a twist so the clippers don't want to go thru it. She also mats easily so he's having to pick out the mats as he goes along. She's a work in progress.

This is a strange situation that I don't completely understand. Bailey has always been our loner. She likes to go off by herself to play and hasn't wanted as much contact with us as the others.

Since her experience with the skunk, she's had a definite personality change. Rob and I have both noticed it. She comes when called now, which she never did before.

She hangs around us a lot and wants to be cuddled and petted. She's much more social than before. So, was it the trauma of being skunked, or did the 'good dog fairy' turn up on her third birthday and change her into a sweet, loving, well behaved pet? If it was the good dog fairy, why didn't she show up on Fudge's third birthday or even his fourth?

Tess is camera shy. She doesn't like that black box in my face and usually turns away or trys to get behind me. This is very unusual for her to stand there and let me snap a shot of her.

I wonder what these two are talking about. With Norma Jean involved in the conversation, it can't be good, though it does look like she's listening to Sky this time.

Is Tsar concentrating on the geese going over, a mole digging in the yard or the thought of a hot bagel with cream cheese?

Thanks to all of you who were concerned about my health. I came down with a nasty cold the day before Thanksgiving. I had sneezes and a cough and sore throat with lots of aches. I snoozed most of Thanksgiving Day, but did go out to eat with Rob. Have to keep our strength up! I'm feeling much better now, still a bit of a cough and some sneezing now and then. Samba and I are doing lots of napping and cuddling and taking good care of each other.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Visitors

For the last several years of her life, Rob's mother lived in a nursing home. He visited her several times a week and he sometimes took Lucy along with him. Lucy was glad to go and visit with the
residents and the nursing staff, and most of them were happy to see her.

There were several residents who would come wheeling themselves out into the corridor in their wheelchairs as soon as they realized that Lucy was there.

Lucy was a small dog and sometimes Rob would lift her onto a bed so she could visit with her fans. She would cuddle next to them or lick a hand. She would stand up beside a wheelchair for petting. She brought smiles to lots of faces and we heard stories about their dogs, some of which had to be given up when they moved to the nursing home.

Lucy was not a therapy dog or a service dog. She was simply a visitor. She went to say hello to her friends and bring them some happiness.

Rob has continued to make several trips a year to visit the nursing home. He likes to chat with the staff and although few of the residents are the same, he likes to walk down the hall and chat with whoever wants to chat. Lucy went with him until her death in August of 2008. Since then he's gone alone.

Last night Rob wanted to wish those at the nursing home a happy Thanksgiving and he selected Sky to go with him. Sky is quiet and gentle, doesn't jump on people and obeys pretty well. This was his first nursing home visit and I was a little worried about how he would react.

Again, Sky is not a therapy dog, he is a visitor.

Although he was a little shy at first, Sky was not afraid of wheelchairs or walkers and was willing to sit and let people talk to him and eventually to pet him. He did very well on his first trip and will probably visit often. The best part for him was the kind nurse who gave him a whole piece of apple cake. That's enough to make this big boy think well of the experience.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This and That

I'm sitting in the office at my computer trying to come up with something interesting to post about.

Obviously, my office companions are bored. This is Noah and Sky napping right next to me.

Noah wandered off and Fudge took his place. Next to my chair or under the desk on my feet seem to be the most highly prized spots in the room.

Look what came in the mail Saturday. This little stocking is from Maggie and Mitch. Their Mom knit it. I won it in a contest where I didn't even have to do anything, that's my favorite kind of contest. Thank you M and M and Sue. We have a tree with doggie ornaments on it and this will go on that tree.

This is something I thought I would never see. We planted this holly tree the first year we lived here. It was growing pretty well till it got broken by the ice storm two years ago. The tree survived, by it was only a couple feet high and had to start growing all over again. It never had berries. Every year I looked, but no berries. There were no male hollies in the neighborhood and although I intended to plant a male, I kept forgetting about it. Then last spring my neighbor put in a holly. I asked him if it was male or female and he didn't know. Well, now we know. His plant is a male and my plant is covered with berries. It looks so pretty.

Miss Bessie arrived at her new home in Frederick, Maryland last evening. It was a long trip for the old girl, but she handled it well and made a lot of new friends. She is now a resident of House Of Puddles. Check them out. They're having a wonderful raffle with all sorts of neat doggy prizes.

Samba is doing pretty well. She takes her medicine happily and she is opening her mouth a little more than she was able to do last week. She even managed to pick up her ball this morning. She's a tough little dog and we aren't going to let this disease beat us.

Fudge is sitting at the door giving me that look that says "when are you going to get away from that silly computer and come play with us?" So, I'm going to go play with my dogs.

Check out Dogs-N-More. We're giving lots of suggestions for gifts for your pets or for pets on your holiday gift lists. There are posts about collars, and apparel and there will be posts on beds and treats and toys and whatever else we can think of. If there's something special you like to give, let us know and we'll post about it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Driving Miss Bessie

This morning we were up early, fed the dogs and got them out. After breakfast and another quick outing for our dogs, we headed off to Lowes to meet someone.

There in Lowes parking lot we found Miss Bessie and the first driver of the day. They said goodbye to each other and Bessie climbed in our car and we started on the second leg of her trip.

Miss Bessie is a ten year old Basset Hound who is on her way to a retirement home for Bassets in Maryland. She was rescued from a kennel run by an elderly lady who can no longer care for the dogs.

Her first driver reported that Bessie sang for most of the trip. Her words were, " she has quite a voice and isn't afraid to use it."

She greeted us with a chorus of barks and howls.

I guess her sing along tired her out, so she curled up in the back seat and slept for most of the 110 mile trip.

She awoke refreshed and ready for a snack.

After a few biscuits and a drink of water, she was ready to leave with her next chauffeurs.

We said our goodbyes and wished her well in her new home.

Then we moved her belongings from our car to theirs...

...loaded her and she was on her way.

Bessie will arrive at House of Puddles in Frederick, Maryland tomorrow evening. It's nice to realize that 14 different individuals or couples are giving up part of their weekend to help this old girl. Good luck in retirement, Bessie.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Club Meeting

I'm a member of the Springfield Dog Training Club.

Last night was the final meeting of the year and I attended with Rob as my guest.

Here's a sign you don't see in many places.

These are some of the title plaques earned by members and their dogs.

This wall shows titles earned broken down by breed. There is no Portuguese Water Dog on the board, but that's about to change. A picture of a PWD will be posted in the working dog section and Fudge and I will get our names under it.

As a fundraiser, the club is raffling off a small tree trimmed with doggy ornaments. The members attending last night brought these.

This is Jazzy.

The adorable pup was very popular. He's a 14 week old Dalmatian and had a hard time sitting quietly thru the meeting, so he sort of wandered around saying hello to everyone and getting lots of petting.

Another puppy in attendance was Grady. He's a nine month old Newfoundland and he was puppy squirmy, too.

This is an old timer.

Some came in pairs.

Talk about obedience! Jazzy sat in this chair by herself while her owner was busy taking orders for club jackets. She never moved from that chair. My dogs would be jumping over the chairs and having great fun greeting people.

These two were trying to pay attention to the meeting.

This is Blu and we should all take a lesson from her. Blu is thirteen years old and has arthritis in her legs, but she just earned her first title in obedience. As someone said last night, "Senior citizens can do anything."

This is a lovely salt and pepper Giant Schnauzer. He is in a foster home and looking for a permanent home. He's a big, gentle boy and his foster mom says he'd make a good obedience dog.

Boy, that meeting seemed to last forever to Letta.

Might as well get comfortable.

This is how she looks standing up.

At the end of the meeting all the new title holders were recognized. We were called up front while our achievements were announced. In case you don't recognize me, I'm the one in the white sweatshirt with the PWD on the front.

Here's the whole group. The Golden Retriever on the end is another senior citizen. She's twelve years old. It's never to late to work with your dog. Notice that Fudge was not in attendance. I thought I'd like a night off, but I was sorry that I didn't take him. He would have loved the attention. Next time!

Then they brought out the title cake. Each month they have a cake with the names of all who earned new titles.

Here's a close up of our corner of the cake.

The meeting ended and everyone had cake and coffee. It was a good meeting and next month there will be a Holiday party called Tea and Biscuits. Santa will be there for pictures so maybe Fudge can go with us.

Samba Update: The medicine has helped with the pain. Except that she can't open her mouth all the way, she doesn't seem to be in any pain. She's eating well, soft food only, and running around with the other dogs. It's heartbreaking for me to watch her chase after her ball, then not be able to pick it up. She's getting upset about that, but in a few weeks we can throw a soft toy for her to retrieve. That should make her much happier.