Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Day

Some months have just 30 days;
The rest have 31.

But one month has a neat surprise!
In fact, it's kind of fun!
The days of February
Number only 28---

But add one more for leap year,
And we get to celebrate!
Have a happy Leap Year Day no matter how you choose to use it.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Today's is a really quick post due to a lack of sleep last night. With two dogs on prednisone I expect to get up during the night for trips outside to pee, but I need to get them synchronized. It seems that after a trip out with Tsar I'd just get back to sleep when Samba would be at the side of the bed asking to go out. After the third trip out I never did get back to sleep and today I'm wandering around half awake.
Anyway, Tsar went to visit Dr B this morning and we now have a tentative diagnosis. The reason it's tentative is that we would need a spinal tap and MRI to confirm it and I've ruled that out. But here it is... Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis! It doesn't trip off the tongue so we'll refer to it as GME from now on.
His symptoms are those of the disorder and hopefully we can keep it under control with prednisone. He's showing a little improvement every day and we're going to proceed watchfully and make the most of every day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Set Another Plate

What a difference a week can make. Last Friday I was considering taking Tsar on his last ride to the vet's office. Saturday he started on Prednisone and we saw some immediate improvement. Each day this week has been better than the one before, but he still has some serious problems. His front legs, especially the left, are weak and don't always go where he wants them to go. But the thing that has been driving me crazy this week is trying to get him to eat.

Tsar has never been a good, eager eater, but I really think he needs to get some nourishment into his body and it's been a struggle. As I've mentioned before, he refuses to put his head into a bowl of any kind. Many of you suggested a clear baking dish and I thought that was a great idea, but Tsar didn't. I presented his dinner in a clear pan on Wednesday and he walked over to look at it, then walked away.

Yesterday morning while I fed the Water Dogs in the garage, Rob prepared Morgan and Tsar's breakfast. Morgan gets her prescription ID in her bowl with a little Mighty Dog pulled chicken on top. The ID is for her joints, specifically her injured knee and the chicken is because she likes it. So there!
Rob put Tsar's kibble on a plate and covered it with soup. Then he put the whole mess in the microwave for a minute. Tsar doesn't like cold food. The kibble soaked up enough of the soup so it didn't pour off the edge of the plate.
He set it on the floor without a word.
Tsar came over to look at it and ate the entire thing and licked the plate clean.
We repeated this in the afternoon with the same results. Once more in the evening and again he ate it.

This morning after finishing his breakfast, served on a plate, he went into the back yard and barked at squirrels. When he came in, he asked for and ate a dog biscuit. He's feeling better and now that he's eating, I'm feeling better.
I have no idea why he won't eat out of anything with sides, but I suspect that his illness has left him with a vision problem of some sort. We'll mention it to Dr B next week and give him something to ponder.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Never Too Sick To Party

Fudge's birthday was last week when Tsar was so very sick. Of course, Fudge didn't know it. Today since the weather is warm and nice, we decided to have his little party. We invited Morgan and Tsar to join us in the back yard and they did.
We had valentine cupcakes because Fudge loves sprinkles.
This group is always ready for a party. No one is ever too sick for a party!
Rob handed out the cupcakes and everyone was very well behaved except Norma Jean who got left out and was trying to get his attention to let him know he'd forgotten her. She did get her cake.

Tsar liked his cupcake, which brings me to an update on his condition.
Tsar is doing much better, but he still shows weakness on the left side. His left front foot doesn't always go where he wants it to. Even on 40mg of prednisone a day, he's being very picky about eating. He'll eat chicken, cheese or turkey from our hands, but that's about it.
He acts almost afraid of putting his head in a bowl to eat. I'm thinking there's a problem with his vision that causes him to shy away from the bowls. Last night I put a combo of turkey, cheese and kibble on a plate and he cleaned it up.
I want him to eat other things besides chicken and turkey, so today I made his favorite soup with turkey, barley, sweet potatoes, carrots and green beans. I'm hoping to get some veggies into him, plus I'll mix in some of his kibble. I'm not sure how I'll get around the bowl thing, but I'll think of something.
As you can see from these pictures taken at our party today, he's not looking like himself. I have a hard time believing that a brain tumor would respond so quickly to prednisone, so I'm hoping that we're dealing with something else that may be controllable. Whatever it is, we haven't given up and he's improving a little each day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some Things Never Change

When I was a little girl my mother and I lived with her parents in the country. My mother worked in the city and on Fridays when she got paid, she'd stop on the way home and buy me a book of paper dolls. I loved them and I had a huge collection. I guess I was a collector even then. Most of the paper dolls at that time were movie stars and had gorgeous gowns. I cut them out carefully, enlisting my Grandmother's help on the very elaborate ones. Then during the week as I played with them I would draw pretty gowns for them to wear, color them and cut them out. If I was handed  paper and drawing implements, I drew ladies in beautiful gowns. I think it was the beginning of my love affair with design and sewing and crafts.
As I got a little older I watched my Grandmother make dresses for me on her sewing machine. I observed her every move and eventually I talked her into letting me try using the machine to make doll clothes. In junior high school I began making some of my own clothes and the techniques I'd learned came in very useful when I started working. I needed lots of new clothes for work and for my social life.
As a young single woman working as a bank auditor there were lots of parties and special events to attend. I would leave work on Friday, buy fabric and patterns and spend the weekend sewing. I remember a few of my favorites. I preferred simple lines and letting the fabric and details make the outfit special. One was a simple cocktail dress of emerald green brocade. Another was a full length dress of scarlet velvet. There was a white tunic with lace sleeves worn over white lace pants and a red and black tunic and pants outfit that was a favorite.

For a formal Christmas party given by the bank I designed my own dress. It was a floor length black knit jersey, very demure with high neck, and long sleeves. But the surprise was in the back where it was cut down to the waist and had a deep slit for walking. I loved that dress and I must admit I loved the attention it got.

I don't attend many dressy affairs anymore and if I do, I have a few things hanging in the closet that will do. But I still love the look of beautiful gowns. That's why I watch the Academy Awards. Still, I don't want to waste time and money on making gowns that I'll never wear, so I found another outlet. I do cross stitch of faeries wearing big beautiful gowns.  Here are a few.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tsar's Treatment Begins

Hi Everybody.
I'm trying to respond to everyone who has emailed us about Tsar, but it may take some time to get to everyone. We've gotten lots of messages and I've been spending most of my time with him, so I know you'll all understand. He's my top priority just now. I do want to keep you up to date on his condition, so here's what's happening.
Thursday was not a good day. He ate a little chicken in the morning, but it was clear that he was getting sicker and weaker as the day went on. On Friday he refused to eat at all and couldn't stand up without help. He barely lifted his head and his eyes were obviously not focusing. When he did manage to get up, he was wobbly and lost his balance easily. By mid day he had developed diarrhia and had a couple accidents in the house. He was very upset about that. Tsar being part cat likes to be clean and never messes in the house. We were at the point where I would ordinarily have him put down, but I wanted to give him a chance with the steroids, so we waited. I did call the vet and ask if I could start him on the steroids a day early, but he advised me to wait till today.

This morning Rob took him out at 7AM and as soon as they came in I gave him his first prednisone tablet, 20 mg. At 9AM I offered him some chicken and he ate a whole breast. Rob and I had to go out (to buy more chicken) and when we came back about noon, Tsar met us at the door. He was standing and holding his head normally. Rob offered him some chicken and he ate another whole breast. Then he accepted and ate a dog biscuit. He's still wobbly, partly because it's been so long since he's eaten normally, but he's moving around and his eyes look much more clear.

I called the vet to be sure I'm not just seeing what I want to see and he assured me that it can work that fast. We discussed the fact that if it's a tumor in the brain, we'll see temporary improvement, then he'll crash again, but if it's something else, it can respond well to the prednisone. He was pleased with the progress.

Tsar will get another 20mg tablet this evening and we'll continue to encourage him to eat. For now things are better, but we're not out of the woods. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and caring. You can't begin to know how much it means to us.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Belated Birthday

Tuesday, Valentine's Day was Fudge's 7th birthday. Because of Tsar's illness, the birthday party was postponed and today after dinner, they'll each get a cupcake. To make it up to Fudge, I have a little song for him. My apologies in advance to Johnny Mercer who wrote the original version.

You must have been a beautiful baby,

You must have been a wonderful pup.

When you were only startin in puppy kindergarten

You must have made the girl dogs look up.

And when it came to winning blue ribbons

You must have shown the other dogs how.

I can see the judges eyes as he handed you the prize,

Your high jump made him laugh and say "Wow!".

Oh, you must have been a beautiful puppy,

Cause, Fudgie, look at you now.
We love you Fudge. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tsar Update

The vet called this morning and the news wasn't what we wanted to hear. We were hoping the lab results would indicate an infection that could be treated with antibiotics, but the blood work was normal, no infection.

We're left with more questions than answers. There's something wrong in Tsar's brain and we don't know what or why. I was given the option of taking him to the university for an MRI and spinal tap among other tests, but I declined. Tsar is ten years old now and he has always hated to be fussed over or to have his personal space invaded. I know he would hate these tests and as his advocate, I have to do what's best for him. In this case it means proceeding blind and hoping to keep him comfortable and happy for his remaining time.

We've taken him off all meds including his pain meds for arthritis and he's starting to feel it. He wants no one but me near him, so that's how it'll be for now. On Saturday when his system is clear of all medications, we'll start him on steroids to try to fight whatever is affecting his brain. We don't know what the possibilities of success may be, but that's our plan for now.

After not eating for almost a week, he couldn't resist a baked chicken breast last night as long as I hand fed him bite size pieces. He ate it all plus part of mine. This morning he had a little yogurt and another chicken breast. Once he gets started on steroids his appetite should pick up.
Tsar is in trouble and this is a stop gap solution to buy him some time. Rob and I thank you for all your good wishes for him and hope you'll keep him in your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Thought For Tsar

Hi Everybody,
We hope you're all enjoying your Valentine's Day. There's a lot going on with Valentines Day, Mango Minster underway, a big Valentine dance in Blogville, Westminster and of course our very own Fudge's birthday. It's a busy day for everybody. But if you could spare a minute today to send a good thought to Tsar, he can really use your help.
We took Tsar to the vet this morning because he hasn't been acting quite right. I was hoping Dr B would tell me it was a relapse of his back injury and to up his meds, but the knot in my stomach warned me that it wouldn't be that simple. Dr B checked him out and says that the problem is neurological, possibly an infection or inflammation in the brain or brain stem, or possibly a stroke. He took blood and tomorrow when the report comes back we'll have a better idea how to proceed.
It's a bad time for Tsar the cat-dog, and he needs the power of the paw.