Tuesday, October 30, 2012


To all our friends and family on the East Coast, you are in our thoughts constantly. Stay safe!

I love New York!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Something Changed

Friday was like most all of our days recently, rushing to get dogs outside before they exploded, coaxing them to eat and forcing meds down their throats. Then something changed!!

Saturday morning I jumped out of bed as soon as I heard Sky start to move around. I raced them all down the stairs and out the door. Then I filled their bowls with kibble. I didn't have a clue as to what topping would be satisfactory to Samba and Sky, so I didn't use one. I decided that I'd give them plain kibble and after the others had all eaten, I'd try to figure out something that would appeal to them and maybe they'd eat a few pieces. I called everyone in and put the bowls down and everyone ate. EVERYONE ate, including Samba and Sky! They cleaned their bowls.

After another outing, we went upstairs and I counted out the morning meds. Everyone sat there and watched and each one opened his or her mouth and swallowed their pills. Including Samba and Sky!

Mid morning I called Samba and Sky to the kitchen for their probiotics and they took them happily with no fuss.
Dinner was a pleasant experience with everyone cleaning their bowls, including Samba and Sky. They took their Boost supplement in the evening and on each outing their poops were improved, not great, but improved.

I was pondering all this Saturday night before falling asleep and I wondered what Sunday would bring.
Sunday brought more of the same, plus Sky played ball in the afternoon and Samba climbed up on the sofa to take a nap, something she's been too weak to attempt for a couple months.

Today we're off to another good day. I don't know what happened, maybe the good bacteria from the transplants has started to take over. Whatever it is, I just hope it continues. I try not to get my hopes up to much, they've been crushed too many times recently, but it's hard not to when both dogs are acting more relaxed. I don't know if they can come back from this because they've lost so much weight and muscle, but it's clear that they're feeling a little better and that makes me feel a lot better.
I couldn't have gotten thru this without the feedback from all of you. Your emails full of support and suggestions have kept me going thru the toughest times when I was losing hope. Sky and especially Samba have a long way to go, but I'm hoping that on our vet appointment Friday morning Dr B gives us some good news.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bye Bye October

About ten years ago Rob bought a climbing rose plant and put it next to the deck in the back yard. For seven years it grew a little but never flowered. Then the next year it produced one red rose.

Last year it had about a dozen flowers during the summer.
This year we had an awful summer. It was extremely hot and extremely dry and we lost many of our trees and shrubs, but the rose bush did put out some flowers.
Now it's the end of October. The nights are cold, last night was in the 20s, but look what's happening.
We think the rose bush is so grateful to have some cooler temperatures and some rain that it's rewarding us with this late display. Whatever the reason, we're enjoying it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Tess

Blogland seems to be especially full of birthdays and anniversaries lately. Not to be left out of all the celebrations, we have a few of our own. Today is Tess's birthday.

She was born a little before midnight, so she's a day older than the rest of her siblings. That gives us an extra day to celebrate. Tonight Tess will get a special birthday dinner, then tomorrow we'll have our big party when the others turn six years old.
Samba and Sky are holding their own. Samba seems pretty happy these days so I'm guessing she feels better. We're still coping with diarrhea and picky appetites, but we're managing. Sky is not so happy. He seems to feel I'm picking on him because I make him take medicine and go outside on a leash.

We have another mystery symptom to deal with. Both dogs are losing their hair. It's coming out in big patches. When Samba started sporting bald spots we thought it was related to her steroid use, but now Sky is losing his hair, too. The Doc thinks it has more to do with their weight loss and general poor condition. So he's come up with a new torture to try.

Natto! My apologies to any Japanese readers, but this is nasty stuff. Dr B warned me that is smells and tastes bad and that it looks like slime. Great, just what I wanted to play with. However, dogs do like to eat nasty, slimy, bad smelling stuff, so this might be very popular with the canine members of the family.
Natto is fermented soybeans and is apparently very nutritious. Dr B thinks that adding it to their diet along with vitamin D, we may help them recover. Afterall, we've tried some other disgusting, experimental procedures and they've worked out pretty well.

I can't get to the Oriental food store till next week, so I turned to a girl's best friend, Amazon.com, for help. There's a bottle of natto capsules winging it's way to us as I type and by this evening my two sick pups will be getting the benefits without the slime factor.
So now I must get back in the kitchen and start baking  treats for the big party tomorrow. The fun just never ends around here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mom's Cooking

Hi everybody,
We've been very busy in the kitchen for the last couple days because Mom is cooking for us and we have to supervise.
On Sunday she started a huge pot of soup. She used ground turkey and sweet potatoes and green beans and carrots and rice. But this time she added a little pumpkin for sweetness. It had to cook all day Sunday, but yesterday it was ready for our dinner and boy, was it ever good. Nothing like homemade soup on a cool fall evening. Samba and Sky thought it was good too. Samba ate a big bowl of it over her kibble and Sky ate two bowls.
But that's not all. Mom and Dad decided that from now on they're going to make our cookies. Mom says there are a few cookie makers that she'll still buy from, but she doesn't trust a lot of them. At first we were kind of worried that we weren't going to have good treats anymore, but we were wrong. Look at what Mom made this week.

These are apple and cheddar cheese. They are so good!!
These are peanut butter and parmesan cheese. These smell wonderful and are our favorites.

Mom says that from now on she'll make treats on weekends, then we can eat them all week. It sounds like a great plan to us.

Later this week there's an important event coming up. My pups will be six years old. Mom says we can celebrate even though Samba and Sky are still sick. She checked on one of her favorite sites and found the perfect thing to make for the big day. These are berry muffins and Mom says she'll make a big batch so we can each have a couple. Don't they look wonderful? I think I may be starting to drool.
Mom says to tell you that all the cookie and muffin recipes can be found at the doggy dessert chef or she'll be happy to send you the recipes if you want them.
Your pal, Fudge

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Happy Feet

I've always loved to go barefoot. The first thing I do when I get home is kick off my shoes and when I lived in Myrtle Beach, I only slipped into sandals when necessary for work or shopping or some special occasion.
I still go barefoot most of the time in the house but I usually wear shoes outside because of the nasty bugs that live around here. I have found that my feet seem to be a temperature gauge for the rest of me. If my feet are too hot, I'm in misery. If my feet are too cold, my whole body feels cold.

At night I love crawling into cool sheets with a cool pillow, but my feet need to be warm or I can't sleep. I do have a perfect way of warming my feet in bed without startling Rob by placing icy toes on his warm back. It's very easy to persuade a dog or two or three to sleep at the foot of the bed so I can wiggle my toes under them to get warm. Morgan is great for this because she turns to lead when she's on the bed and I can work my whole foot under her without hearing a peep from her. Fudge, on the other hand, complains if I so much as wiggle a toe.
Now that autumn has arrived the mornings and evenings are cool and I'm happy to pull on a jacket for morning feedings and late night outings. I guess it's time to give up on my pick sneakers that I've pulled on most of the summer.
It's time for some warmer shoes and I found just the ones. First are my beautiful new Cape Clogs. These are bright and cheerful with gerbera daisies painted all over them. I won these on a giveaway drawing at the Lapdog Blog. You should all go visit the Lapdogs because Nichole currently has a giveaway for a wonderful knitting bag. I can hear some of you saying, "I don't need a knitting bag, I don't knit." Well go over and leave a comment anyway. If you win, you can always send it to me and I'll write a glowing blog post about your generosity.
Last week I browsed thru a shoe store and found these. Don't they look warm and comfy? I used to hate shopping for shoes and if I needed a pair I'd buy several at one time, often the same style in different colors. Something happened a few years ago and I began to love buying shoes.
I found these for slipping into quickly if I need to rush outside. Sometimes a sick dog can't wait while I stop to tie my shoes. Are you noticing a trend? I really like suede and fur and soft fuzzy things. You may have already figured that out since I have ten soft fuzzy dogs, but I also like soft fuzzy shoes and jackets.
For really cold winter nights when it's too cold to go barefoot, these are my favorite slippers. They're boot style and very warm.
They also have this little pocket that holds a sachet so I can smell my favorite fragrance wherever I go. I currently have a lavender sachet in the pocket, but I think I'll replace it with vanilla.
Yes, this winter I plan to have happy feet no matter how cold it gets.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Medical Report

Thank you to everyone who has asked how Samba and Sky are doing. Here's a little update on their conditions.

On Monday morning both dogs went back to the hospital for their second transplant. They were ravenous when they returned home.

Tuesday they seemed to be doing well until that afternoon I noticed blood in Samba's stool, a lot of blood. On Wednesday morning she was still passing blood and I sent a sample to Dr B. It seems that from the long period of diarrhea and the mechanics of the transplants, she had developed an ulcerated colon. He prescribed something for her and on Thursday morning she had a nearly normal stool with no blood. There has been no blood since though her stool has become very soft again.
Her appetite comes and goes and it's a guessing game to figure out what she'll eat. One day she can't get enough of a certain food. The next day she won't touch that food and wants something else. Right now she finds her kibble mixed with sardines irresistible. Have you ever smelled sardines first thing in the morning before you've even had a cup of coffee? Don't try it.

Sky is slowly improving. He's eating well most of the time and his stool is getting slightly firmer. He's still pretty sick, but showing some signs of getting thru this. He's wanting to play ball and even chases it a couple times before he has to rest.
Although I wasn't very pleased with Bailey's initiative in serving dessert yesterday, I was happy to see Samba and Sky both gobbling up as many treats as they could grab. Stolen treats seem to taste better than any others.

Because Samba is taking high doses of steroids once again, she's starting to lose her hair. She has bald patches on her legs, tail and neck. It looks like I need to dig out her jacket and maybe knit her a sweater for winter.

We took them both for a weigh in this morning and Sky had gained about a pound, but Samba was still the same weight as on Monday. We'll have to stuff her over the weekend and get the scales moving in the right direction again.

For the time being we're just continuing what we've been doing and hope that they both keep showing some improvement. Dr B told me today that we need to concentrate on trends and not dwell on minor setbacks.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Helping Mom

Mom has been spending a lot of time with Samba and Sky lately and the rest of us are trying to help her. Yesterday she took us outside in the morning. It was a lovely fall day and the leaves were blowing around. Sky and Noah and Tess and Norma Jean decided to roll in the leaves. They were sure Mom would appreciate the healthy autumn glow it gave to their coats. It got her attention when she had to pull leaves off them before they went in the house.

While we were out Bailey and Sebastian spotted a small creature running along the back fence. Bailey put out the war cry and we all raced down the hill to help. 
Sebastian was the fastest. He grabbed the creature and ran toward the house. Mom started yelling at him to drop it. She didn't want him to eat it and she sure didn't want to have to take it away from him, but he kept going with the creature wiggling in his mouth. He has a big mouth.
When he got close to the house he set it down to get a good look at it. Just then Mom yelled "NO Sebastian". It startled him and he looked up. The creature escaped. He's still thinking about how tasty it would have been.
This afternoon Mom and Dad went to the store and they brought home a bag of our favorite treats, Charlee Bears. They got home right at four o'clock and that's our dinner time, so Mom set the bag on the counter while she fixed our dinner. After dinner we all went outside to play for awhile.
When we came in Bailey said she was sure Mom wanted us to have the Charlee Bears as a special dessert so she reached up on the counter and grabbed the bag. Then she opened it and poured them out on the floor. She and Tess and Sky and Samba got most of the Charlee Bears but the rest of us pushed in and grabbed some till Mom realized what we were doing. She ran over and grabbed the bag, but there were only a few left. 
Mom wasn't too happy, but who knew she was saving them for some other time?



We were just trying to help! Boy, humans sure do get upset about silly stuff.
Your pal, Fudge

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Quick Interim Report

We're about half way thru the treatment and like you, I'm curious as to whether this unusual treatment will work. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high and also not to see things as I want to see them rather than as how they really are.
The home treatments have been less difficult and also less messy than we had anticipated. I'll leave it at that as the details are gross.

First Sky. Before the treatment started on Friday, he had no appetite and had to be coaxed to eat even a little. He's lost seven pounds since this started. He was tired and wanted to sleep all the time. When we went outside he didn't even take his beloved ball with him. His stool was liquid and he needed to go almost ever hour.

Friday when he got home I offered him some dinner, but he refused it. He did eat a cup of applesauce, then slept all evening. He only needed to poop once late in the evening and again his stool was liquid. On Saturday he ate his entire breakfast and a  can of tuna. When we went out in the late afternoon, he took his ball and chased it a couple times before lying down to rest. He ate his dinner and several liver brownies. This morning he ate his breakfast and drank a bottle of Boost. His stool is partly solid for the first time.

Now Samba. This girl has been fighting this for two months and has lost twenty pounds. Before treatment started she was starting to eat a little more and had regained five pounds. She was so weak that she couldn't get to her feet by herself and Rob or I would have to lift her whenever she wanted to move around. She tired easily and could only stand for short periods. Her stool was soft, but not liquid.

When we got home on Friday she ate her entire dinner and asked for more. Then she slept and didn't have a stool till morning. Saturday she ate her breakfast and we noticed that she was now able to get to her feet by herself without us lifting her. She ate several small meals during the day and in the afternoon wanted to play ball, but was too weak to run after it. She showed interest anyway. This morning after eating her breakfast she enjoyed a bottle of Boost and again went into the back yard with the other dogs. Her stool is very soft but infrequent.

So there we are, I'm trying not to read too much into what I'm seeing, but Samba is definitely showing some improved strength and both are more interested in play and in eating. I'd say this is an good thing.

What's next? Tomorrow they will both go back to the hospital for another treatment followed by two more days of at home treatments. Then we reassess.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Poop Soup

On Wednesday we got the call we'd been waiting for. The samples we provided to the University had produced some answers to the cause of the mystery disease. Sky and Samba have cryptosporidium and clostridium perfrigens.
 Now what do we do about this since they seem to be drug resistant?  Well, the answer is rather gross, so you might want to stop reading here.

While surfing the internet Rob found reports of people who had been treated for intestinal infections by using a procedure called fecal transplant. We called Dr B and asked him about it. He got in contact with the university vets and after numerous calls back and forth we all agreed it was worth trying.

The procedure involves replacing the fecal content containing the harmful bacteria with new fecal matter containing healthy bacteria. It has been successfully done on many humans and a couple of zoo gorillas, but we couldn't find any records of dogs receiving the transplant.

We decided to go for it and this morning Samba and Sky went to the vet hospital along with two bags of fecal matter from healthy donors. We selected Bailey and Norma Jean as the donors. Bailey had the illness and recovered easily and Norma Jean didn't get sick. Because of their close relationship they would make good donors.
We just got word that the initial procedure went well and the dogs are resting. The first step was flushing out as much of the bad poop as possible and rectally injecting the good poop. The donated poop was mixed with milk and injected. On Saturday and Sunday they will receive more of the "poop soup" orally. I'll be using a syringe to feed it to them. This probably sounds worse than it is, since dogs don't have the same aversion to poop that we humans have.

We may have to repeat the procedure until the good bacteria gets established and fights off the bad stuff. We'll know in a few days how this is working by observing the dogs. So at least we know what we're fighting and have a game plan on how to fight it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Campaign

It's mid October and we find ourselves in the midst of a heated campaign. Promises are flying around and I'm trying to keep things from getting out of control.

When Monty was alive he was our indisputable leader. He lived by a certain set of rules and expected the others to do the same. He was a big strong dog and the one time Tsar challenged him, Tsar wound up on  his back with Monty standing over him.
When Monty suddenly died, there was a scramble to take over the leadership of the pack. Fudge was pretty sure he could coast into the position, but he was no challenge for Samba. After a few days of growling and snapping, Samba claimed the top spot and Fudge was left to pout.
Samba has been a good leader, firm but fair. But now this mystery illness has left her weak and tired. She isn't able to run with the pack in the yard anymore and I keep her and Morgan on one level as much as possible. It looks like her days as pack leader are about over and even if she does recover, I don't think she'll be interested in the politics involved in keeping everyone in line. She deserves to retire.

But that leaves an important position open and we have two determined candidates. Let me introduce them.

First is Fudge.
 He knows he's handsome and smart and a real charmer.
He's not really concerned with how the other dogs feel about this promotion, he feels he's entitled to it because he's been waiting for a long time to be top dog. What can he bring to the office? He's not concerned about that either, he wants to be first fed, first in line to get treats and to be able to take whatever toy he wants away from any other dog.
He'll promise anything and take any position necessary to get the title. Once installed as leader, he'll bully the others into doing his bidding.
Fudge likes the idea of being leader, not necessarily the work that goes along with the title.

Our second candidate is Bailey.
Bailey is a tough little dog. When she was a pup she was smaller than her sisters and was picked on a lot. She learned to fight for what she wanted but she also learned to negotiate. She's a full member of the pack joining in chases and games, but she's happy by herself playing with one of her many stuffy friends.
She's happy to travel with her peeps and is interested in the world around her. She's the most like her mother of all the pups and because of her hunting ability and her group of friends is a well rounded young lady.
The next few weeks should be interesting around here as the pack gets behind their chosen leader. It's my job to make sure that no violence breaks out as they begin their selection process. It's also my job to console the loser, but I don't get a vote. This is one of those times when the dogs have to do the work and I have to respect their choice.

Stay tuned for the election results. Any bets on who wins?