Saturday, September 29, 2012

One Last Chance

Hi bloggers, I want you to know that I've been reading your posts whenever I get some spare time even though I haven't been able to leave many comments. I'm trying to get back to my normal blogging time, but things have been a little hectic around here.

I want to let you all know where things stand with Samba's illness. The Tylan didn't work for either Samba or Sky. Samba has continued to go downhill, refusing to eat anything or to take meds except by force. The diarrhea also continues for both of them. Bailey and Tess are both doing much better and by the end of next week should be back to normal.

I made the decision on Wednesday that next Monday morning we'll put Samba down. I called the vet and told him. On Friday morning he called and asked if I still felt the same and I said that I had not changed my mind. He asked me to bring her in, that he wanted to examine her and talk to me.

Samba is down to 30 pounds now and is very frail. His examination showed that she is not in pain and is not running a fever. He said if I'm determined to euthanize her on Monday, there's one last thing he wanted to try. If it works it could save her, if it doesn't work she'll spike a fever, become  very sick, perhaps collapse and we'll have to let her go immediately. He said that if it fails and we lose her, we'll know that we tried everything we could do. I listened to his plan and agreed to try it.

He gave Samba an injection of Dexamethasone and one of Vitamin B12. He wants me to give her a high dose of Prednisone every day plus an antibiotic and some B12. We'll know in just a few days if this will work. The high amounts of steroids will bring back lots of side effects such as thirst, frequent urination, tremors, etc. One of the good effects might be increased appetite.

Dr B also listed several foods he wanted me to try and feed her, things he doesn't usually recommend such as chicken liver breaded and fried in olive oil and tuna packed in oil. He wants her to get lots of calories.

So what's happening? Last night Samba got hungry. She ate about half a dozen boiled shrimp and at bedtime had a small bowl of yogurt. This morning she ate some dog food and half a can of tuna. Mid morning she tried some of the fried liver. She's being much more cooperative about taking her meds today, too. So far there's no fever and she's resting comfortably.

As for Sky, Dr B says he's in no danger as of now. He had a bit of a fever yesterday and is now taking an antibiotic. He hasn't lost any weight and the doctor thinks the diarrhea will improve soon.

So now we wait.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Relentlessly Huge Party

A very loud noise woke us all up in the wee hours of the morning. We mistakenly thought it was thunder.
It was actually a relentlessly huge party at the Rainbow Bridge to welcome the world famous Mango as he arrived.

I'm sure the bridge is hopping today With Tsar singing......

.... and The Mango dancing.
Listen closely tonight for sounds of singing, dancing and laughter as the residents of the Bridge continue their party.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Down But Not Out or Why I Love The Internet

When last we posted on Friday, things were looking up. Samba was eating very small amounts and keeping them down. She had gained half a pound and the dreaded diarrhea was easing up.

What a difference a day can make! Saturday was a very bad day for Samba and me. When I served her breakfast, she informed me that she didn't want it. I went thru all the choices that she had previously shown interest in, but she just walked away. Then I tried giving her the anti nausea pill thinking perhaps she was feeling queasy. No go! She refused to take her meds or to even open her mouth. Instead she asked to go out. We did, only to discover the watery diarrhea was back.

The whole day was like that. We made numerous trips outside and she had numerous bouts of diarrhea, but she absolutely refused to open her mouth.

Sunday morning I expected another battle, but she was amazingly agreeable and took all her meds without a fuss. Then she ate a few pieces of dog food. But the day went downhill from there. She continued with the runny poop and she refused to eat anything for the rest of the day and wouldn't take her meds.

This morning, once again, she refused food or pills. I didn't sleep well last night and I expected I might have a very unhappy post for you today. BUT don't count us out yet.

When I got involved with Portuguese Water Dogs, I joined the National Breed Club and became familiar with other owners and breeders of Porties. Because the dogs were fairly rare, we shared a lot of information with each other. We have the Georgie Project and The PWD Foundation, both working on health issues in the breed and we have several internet lists where we can put out questions and get the benefit of each other's experience.

Yesterday two other Portie owners sent me info thru the lists. They had each gone thru the same problems of uncontrolled diarrhea and loss of weight. One had gone on for months and the dog almost died. Then they each tried a certain drug and in both cases it got the diarrhea under control and both dogs gained their weight back and are now doing well more than a year later.

I looked up the drug and discovered that it's for livestock and not approved for use in dogs, but many vets have used it with good results. First thing this morning I called Dr B and asked him about it. Rob went over to pick it up and we're trying it on both Samba and Sky.

There is a catch, isn't there always? The stuff is a powder with an extremely bitter taste and dogs don't like it. Sky isn't too much of a problem, I can pry his big mouth open and stuff it down his throat, but Miss Samba is another story. Dr B sent home a bottle of some sweet, sticky syrup to mix with the bitter powder to try and fool them. When we mixed the two, it formed a sticky ball of goo. No problem with Sky, I just threw that mess down his throat and he even licked the spoon.

Rob held Samba and of course she clamped her jaw closed, but I went in from the side of her mouth and when she opened it to try to spit my finger out I tossed in the sticky ball of goo. Then I held her mouth closed for a very long time till she had to finally swallow. Done!

About 20 minutes later Samba told me she had to go out. I leashed her up and she had a messy bout of diarrhea in the yard. Sky wasn't so lucky. It sneaked up on him and he didn't make it out quite fast enough. Rob shooed him out the door and cleaned up the floor, then we walked them both around for a while. Sky had a belch that measured on the Richter Scale. Then they both went inside and went to sleep.

Well, that was a reaction of some kind. Let's hope the next dose has a slightly better outcome.

Anyway, we're all still here and I want to thank everyone who has sent suggestions. When you have nothing left to lose, a suggestion from the magic internet might be the thing that turns the tide.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Roller Coaster Ride

The last couple weeks have been filled with highs and lows. When Samba has a good day I get my hopes up that we've turned a corner and have the illness under control. Then she'll have a very bad day that sets us back to the starting line all over again. I can't tell you how many of these sudden changes we've been through. This morning we had another vet visit and I wanted to let you know where we stand going into the weekend.

Yesterday Samba ate almost a cup of kibble, the most she's eaten in weeks. She kept it down and slept though the night. This morning she wanted Morgan's breakfast, so Morgan shared some of her dog food with her sick friend. Her stool was about the same as the last two days.

We headed for the vet's office for her Cerenia injection for nausea. When we arrived we had to face the dreaded scales. She had already dropped from her normal 52 pounds to 33.  But the news was great. She has gained half a pound since Tuesday. The vet checked her over  and we discussed her diet and meds for the weekend. He and I were both pleased that she's actually gained instead of losing more weight.

Getting Samba to eat is a full time job. Because she's been so sick and had a constant stomach ache for weeks, my girl who would eat anything, now has become super picky. She equates food with feeling bad and if she eats something and then feels sick, she won't eat that food again. She won't touch certain dog foods nor hamburg and rice or chicken  and potatoes. Those are all things that she's tried in the past couple weeks but she then felt sick, so she won't try them again.

Fortunately, when I was a little girl I had a Cocker Spaniel and I decided I was going to train her to do tricks. I asked my Grandfather how to train her and he gave me some great advice. He said to be a successful dog trainer, you have to be smarter than the dog.
I made a great discovery the other day. I moved a bag of dog treats to reach something else and I saw Samba's head come up and she looked excited. Samba can't have treats, we have to be careful about what she eats, but I knew she wanted them.

If you remember, last week we received a surprise package from the Science Diet people. In  the box were two bags of treats, but there were also two sample bags of their new dog food. My dogs think that treats come in small bags and the dog food samples were sitting on the counter next to the treats. I picked up the small bag of dog food, opened it and offered each of the dogs a piece. They all thought it was excellent, including Samba.
The next time Samba came in from outside I offered her a couple pieces of the new dog food treat and she happily chewed them up. I started rewarding everyone with the dog food samples. I'd give Samba three pieces for each piece the others ate. Sometimes I'd give her a handful after going out or waking from a nap. She didn't realize it, but she was eating more and more dog food disguised as a treat.

This morning I realized we were running out of the samples, so we made a quick trip to buy a larger bag of this new food. In the privacy of the laundry room, I refilled the little sample bags and the next time I offered a treat they all got some of the new dog food. Samba doesn't know that I'm refilling the sample bags from a large bag of dog food. As far as she's concerned she's been rewarded with a yummy new treat. I just hope I can continue to fool her until her stomach ache is gone and her appetite returns.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On The Edge

Thank you to all of you who have left encouraging comments  and emailed me asking about my sick fur kids. I'll give you an update on the situation.

Most of my dogs have had this illness which causes loss of appetite, vomiting and watery diarrhea. It took Fudge about three weeks to get over it, but some of the others have gotten better much faster. Morgan was sick for about 36 hours and is now fine again.
We don't know exactly what we're dealing with but we've eliminated many possibilities and my vet and the vets at the University feel the dogs probably have salmonella poisoning from wildlife in the yard. Raccoons, opossum, and skunks can all bring the disease into backyards and leave it in their urine, feces and saliva. It's highly contagious and when the dog investigates the area or drinks from infected water, they can pick it up.

Sky is in his second week of the illness.
He's eating and drinking well and is on medication, so we're hoping that he soon starts showing some improvement

Last week Tess became sick, but was much improved in about four days.

On Tuesday morning Bailey became sick. She is doing better but is still on medication and special food.
Then there's Samba. Because of her MMM and long term steroid use to control it, her immune system is compromised. She is a very sick dog. She's been sick for about a month now and hasn't shown any real improvement. She'd have a good day followed by a complete crash. In the past two weeks she has lost eleven pounds and is so frail that I worry about breaking a bone when I handle her.

Because of the vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea, she is getting no nutrition from the small amount of food that I can coax her to eat. Her body had started feeding on itself. She has no fat left and now the muscle is being used to keep her alive. On Tuesday morning when the vet examined her, he said that we're very close to the point of no return. If she loses about two more pounds, her body won't be able to come back from this.

On Tuesday she received an injection for nausea.  He said that her intestinal tract is a mess, but she's still a happy dog and suggested I try feeding her liver. Over several hours  that day she ate four chicken livers and about 1/4 cup of kibble. The injection worked and she didn't vomit and went for 32 hours without a bout of diarrhea.

The next day she didn't want liver anymore, but did manage to eat about 1/2 cup of kibble with each piece being hand fed. Her stool yesterday was slightly improved.

Today she has eaten almost a cup of kibble and her stool is about the same. Tomorrow morning she'll get another Cerenia injection for nausea and we hope it will get her thru the weekend and allow her to continue eating. We're very close to the line. If she isn't improving by Monday, we'll  probably have to say goodbye. As you can imagine, I'm spending every minute trying to coax her to eat and holding my breath waiting to see if it stays inside her.
I'm tired and emotional and trying everything I can think of to keep her going, but there isn't a lot more I can do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two Old Friends

We haven't been around much lately, though I have been reading many of your blogs when I get a chance. Our mystery illness is still making it's rounds thru the pack, but more on that another day.

Here are some shots of my two old girls enjoying the sunshine together.
 Setting out for a stroll.
 Checking out the activity in the yard below.

 Time to go in and rest.
 Morgan has been a good friend to Samba during her illness. She stays nearby while Samba rests and has helped encourage Samba to eat.

I'll post a medical update soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Surprise For Us

Today is a lovely day. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the temperature is only in the 80s. We all went into the back yard together for a stroll around the yard. This is the first time Samba has been in the back yard since she got sick and Morgan is usually confined to the front yard so she doesn't have to cope with the stairs. Today I leashed Samba and led her and Morgan down the hill and thru the gate. Everybody was happy to be  together in their favorite place.
As we entered the yard we heard pinging noises and looked up. A flock of blackbirds, both grackles and red winged blackbirds were in the two oak trees above us.
 This year the trees have a bumper crop of acorns and the birds were snapping off the acorns and probably eating them, but they were dropping some. The ones they dropped were landing in the gutters and making the pinging. As we stood under the trees we were being pelted with acorns singly and in bunches.
Shortly after coming back inside the doorbell rang. That's always an exciting time. Some run to the door barking, but others race to the dining room windows to see who's on the porch. This time it was the mailman with a package. I didn't remember ordering anything and was surprised when Rob handed the box to me. It was from Hill's Science Diet.
 I opened it with my helpers all standing around watching and we were all pleased. There were two sample bags of dog food and two full size bags of treats. One was pumpkin and yam and the other was cranberry and oatmeal.
Samba thinks these look pretty good and I was pleased that they're ingredients that she can eat in small amounts.

Samba is still very sick, but I think this new medicine may be starting to have an effect. Today, for the first time in a week, she's showing some interest in eating. She's always been a great eater and to see her refuse everything I offer makes me very worried. Today she's already had three small meals. When I say small, I mean about two or three tablespoons. I'm trying not to stress her intestines any more than they already are, so we'll take things very slowly.

Sky who got sick over the weekend, hasn't shown much improvement yet. He's feeling well though and wants to play ball and eat. Lola got sick on Tuesday but seems to be feeling well today. Norma Jean and Tess are the only ones left who haven't gotten this virus and possibly Sebastian. We're not sure if he had it or not. The vet thinks yes, I'm not so sure.
A surprise package of yummy treats have sure made the whole pack feel better.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ebay Treasures

I love Ebay! I think I've stated that before, but it's true. I can lose hours looking at unique items on that site. I've even made a few friends on Ebay, people I check in with frequently to watch their listings, or in the case of Michelle Toland, someone I've worked with to create one of a kind Portie sculptures.

A couple weeks ago Michelle contacted me and told me about some pieces that had become available. She had sold them originally to a woman who collected sculptures of many breeds. When she died recently, a relative was selling off her collection on Ebay. The seller wasn't a dog person and didn't recognize the various breeds and listed them all as Scotties. Apparently Scotties were the only dog she was familiar with, and obviously not all that familiar.

I checked out the site and there were several Airedales with bids on them, a couple Scotties with bids on them, but there were no bids on the two pieces I wanted most. So I bid a ridiculously low price and they arrived today.

This one of two Kerry Blue Terriers on a table is in perfect condition.
And here is my big prize, two Porties playing on a bench. This is also a picture frame piece and will fit in great with the rest of my collection.
I love Ebay!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Heroes of September 11

The following was forwarded to me from a friend, but I needed to share with all of you.

Nearly 100 dogs worked at the Trade Center 11 years ago. Only 13 are left. Meet the remaining heroes of 9/11/2001.

Moxie, from Winthrop, Massachusetts, arrived with her handler, Mark Aliberti, at the World Trade Center on the evening of September 11 and searched the site for eight days.

Tara,  from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the World Trade Center on the night of the 11th. She and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for eight days.

Kaiser,  pictured at home  in Indianapolis, Indiana, was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 11 and searched tirelessly for survivors in the rubble.

Bretagne and his partner Denise Corliss from Cypress, Texas, arrived at Ground Zero on September 17, remaining for ten days.

Guinness,  from Highland, California, started work at Ground Zero with Sheila McKee on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days.

Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero on September 24, working the night shift for five days.

Red,  from Annapolis, Maryland, with Heather Roche were at the Pentagon from September 16th until the 27th as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines.

Abigail was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10 days.

Tuff arrived in New York at 11:00 PM on the day of the attack to start working early the next morning.

Hoke and handler Julie Noyes were deployed to the World Trade Center from their home in Denver, Colorado, on September 24 and searched for five days.

Scout and another unknown dog lie amidst the rubble at Ground Zero, just two of nearly 100 search and rescue animals who helped search.

Following the September 11th attacks, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their handlers searched for survivors and remains. Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas has captured the stories of the remaining dogs in a book called Retrieved which was published on the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Three Rs

Today I want to address the 3 Rs. They aren't the ones you're expecting.

The first R is for Recipe.

Here is the recipe for the coffeecake I made yesterday. Picture is on yesterday's post, scroll down.

Banana Berry Crunch

1 10 oz package frozen sweetened strawberries or raspberries, thawed
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine or butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed ( 1 cup)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon margarine or bitter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped nuts

Grease a 9x9x2 inch baking pan and set aside.

In a saucepan combine undrained berries and cornstarch. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Set aside.

In a small bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, soda and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl beat 1/2 cup margarine till softened. Add 2/3 cup sugar, eggs, bananas, milk and vanilla and beat till combined.
 Stir in flour mixture and beat till just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Spoon berry mixture on top.

Combine nuts, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and I tablespoon margarine. Sprinkle over berry mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 9 servings.

My notes:
The way this was written I wound up using almost every bowl in the kitchen. Many dirty dishes! Next time I'll read ahead and combine steps. The recipe calls for peanuts, but I used walnuts and most any nuts you have on hand would work, or you can omit the nuts entirely. The berries I had were unsweetened and the final cake was tangy, but we like it that way. Mine took longer than 35 minutes, more like 50, so keep checking it.

The result.... very good, would make again.

The Second R is for Recognition

There is a blog I read that I keep telling myself not to read anymore, but like watching an accident, I keep going back again and again. The reason I want to stop is because it's whiney. I have a problem with grown ups who make decisions, then whine about them constantly.

After reading that blog this morning a light bulb went on in my brain and I went back and reread my last post. I think I sounded whiney, too. That is not what I want my blog to be and I recognize that I have to watch myself when things aren't going my way, that I don't start feeling sorry for myself on the blog and exposing all of you to my self pity.

The Third R is for Resolve

I thank all of you for putting up with me lately and I resolve to change my attitude and write out 100 times, "I will not whine".

My blog is my journal, but I've invited all of you to read it. The least I can do is to keep it readable. No, things don't always work out the way we want them to, but I'm a grownup now and I make my decisions and have to live with them.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Who Needs Sleep?

Friday evening the sky got dark and the wind  picked up. The trees were bending over so far I was sure they would snap. Then the tornado sirens started. At almost the same time a huge clap of thunder made us all jump and Sebastian ran for shelter. The weather dude said the sirens were sounding not for a tornado but because of hurricane strength winds. Oh boy, just the restful start to the weekend that I was hoping for! That's sarcasm, folks.

The winds and thunder didn't last long, but the rain came for quite a while. It wasn't the good gentle rain that we need, but sheets of it flowing down the hill. Sebastian found comfort along with Morgan in the big pile of stuffed toys in the corner. They made an interesting looking couple, but at least they felt safe. Noah parked himself at the door, barking at every sound outside. Bailey wanted to get into her crate with her monkey and bear. The others sat close by Rob and me.
Friday night I was exhausted and went to bed early, if you call 10:00 early. Samba slept thru the night, but Bailey didn't. I had to get up a couple times to quiet her and tell her the storm was over.

Saturday morning a quick check in with the vet to learn that Samba's blood test looked good. We're still trying to stop the diarrhea. The new medicine is pink, almost as bright pink as Pepto and Samba has to have a very large amount three times a day. This would be tough with a normal dog, but Samba doesn't want anyone messing around with her mouth. It's a challenge to get it down her throat and of course she shakes her head sending pink droplets flying all over the deck and me.

Last night I got to bed by 10:30 but was up with Samba at 1 and 3. Then Bailey woke up at 4. I woke myself up at 6 to give Morgan her pill and was able to get back to sleep only to be awakened at 6:30 by the sounds of Sky getting sick. This virus is the gift that keeps on giving. Just when you think one of them is recovered, it starts over again.

On to breakfast. Sky, much to his disbelief, is not eating today. I'm giving his tummy 24 hours to rest. To say he's unhappy about this decision is a major understatement. The others got their normal meals, but Samba has decided that she no longer wants her turkey stew. Never fear, it won't go to waste around here. Everyone else thinks it's wonderful. I baked a couple chicken breasts and some potato chunks for her and this was her breakfast. Dinner was much the same only I mixed it with her kibble. She ate it all.
I decided that Rob and I needed a little treat so I made a raspberry banana coffeecake. It tasted really good. If anyone would like the recipe, I'll post it. Just let me know.
So, that's my weekend. I read a few pages of my book and did a couple rows of knitting, but mainly when I wasn't running dogs in and out, I sat and stared at the television. Not too productive, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcome To Our Infirmary

A lot of you have been emailing me and asking how the fur kids are feeling. Here's my report. Please forgive me if there are typos or things don't always make sense, I'm suffering from sleep deprivation. Why do kids and dogs  seem to get sick on weekends and holidays and always at night?
Here's the rundown. Sky and Bailey were back to normal in about 24 hours. Yeah! Morgan was better in about 48 hours, double yeah! Fudge was sick for about a week, but he's feeling fine now and I'll start switching him back to his regular food today.

On Wednesday I though Sebastian might be getting sick because he refused his breakfast. Then I thought it was because there were storms north of us, but the vet said that he probably did catch it and because he's young and healthy, he just shook it off fast. He's feeling great now.
That leaves Samba. We managed to stop the vomiting. We haven't been able to get the diarrhea under control. She's dropped from 44 pounds two weeks ago, to 38 pounds this morning. We took her back to the clinic early this morning. I was dreading what I was going to hear.

Samba is enrolled in the Georgie Project research program so last night I printed out the autopsy protocol to give to Dr B. When I mentioned it, he said we aren't ready to discuss it and that he has some more tricks up his sleeve.
Because of Samba's long term steroid use for her MMM, her immune system is greatly compromised. The fact that the other dogs became sick is actually a good thing because it tells us that she probably has the same infection but her system is having a harder time fighting it off. Before the others got sick we were looking at a liver problem, but now we're changing our direction a little.
These are Samba's medicines. Poor girl! She's very good about taking them and I only hope they can stop the diarrhea so she can start gaining some weight back. Sometimes she's interested in eating and other times she just walks away from her bowl. Last night she refused to eat, even when I tried spoon feeding her. This morning I fixed her a breakfast of baked potato and broiled chicken. That went over well and it was good to see her clean her bowl. Dr B and I discussed her diet and I'm making a stew of turkey, rice and sweet potato for her dinner.
I have promised her to do everything I can to make her feel better and she has promised to try to eat and to work at getting better. We're both counting on the Power Of The Paw to keep doing it's good work.