Thursday, May 29, 2014

Too Much, Too Soon

Nichole had a great post today on the Lapdog blog about the importance of preventive care for our fur kids. I know most of you agree and have regular checkups and do all the other stuff, such as heartworm and flea and tick prevention. Unfortunately there are still pet owners who don't think it's necessary for their animals to see a vet on a regular basis if they aren't showing symptoms of illness. I can assure you that our regular health checks have caught some serious problems before they became unmanageable.We do complete blood work on each dog at least annually.
Morgan sees the vet every six months because of her age and various health conditions. On her most recent checkup and blood test, we discovered that her thyroid needed help. We had assumed that her slowing down was normal aging, but after starting treatment, we discovered an active alert dog again.

Fudge is now 8 and is starting to see the doctor every six months, too. It was at his most recent checkup that we discovered a growth on his side that was a form of skin cancer. It was removed and Fudge is 100% again.

Noah and Tess will each be getting dental cleanings and Tess has a benign growth that will be removed at the same time. Prior to each checkup, I make a list of questions and locations of any lumps and bumps so that I don't forget anything. Dr B knows to check my list now to be sure we've covered everything.
I've had several dogs who have needed thyroid supplements. There are often signs that lead me to suspect there's a problem. Morgan slowed down, Noah had trouble losing weight and Libby had hair loss, all symptoms of hypothyroidism. But this month when Bailey's test showed a very low thyroid level, I was surprised. She showed no symptoms. Her weight is fine, she has a good coat and she's active. Still, the level indicated that she needed a supplement.

We started her on soloxin once a day. All my other dogs have showed improvement very quickly so I watched Bailey closely. After a couple days I noticed that she seemed a little too quiet. After a couple more days, my independent Bailey became very clingy. She wouldn't leave my side and kept nudging me to pet her. I noticed that her eyes looked dull, but I didn't really have anything but a gut feeling that there might be a problem.
On Saturday Bailey didn't want to come out of her crate in the morning and when I coaxed her out, she didn't bring her bear with her. That is very unusual. Saturday night she barked several times during the night. The second time I got up to let her out, I put her in the big pen in the garage to finish the night. When I went to feed her in the morning she had been sick. There was runny diarrhea in the pen and as soon as she got outside she started vomiting. Of course it was a holiday weekend and I couldn't reach Dr B, but I didn't think we needed the emergency room yet. I had a feeling it was the soloxin so I didn't give it to her.

First thing Tuesday morning I spoke with Dr B and told him I suspected a reaction to the soloxin. After describing the symptoms we discussed the possibility of an allergic reaction. He said allergic reactions to soloxin are rare and he had a different idea. He thinks that Bailey's body had adjusted to the low hormone levels she was producing and that we overwhelmed her with the full dose. Our plan is to leave her off the meds for a week, then introduce it to her more slowly, 1/4 tablet for three or four days, then 1/2 tablet for three or four days, then 3/4 and finally up to the full dose. If she shows symptoms again, we'll use a different therapy, but for now we're hoping she can adjust and continue with this drug which has worked so well for the others.

After five days off, Bailey is again running and jumping and carrying her bear around with her. She also has a sparkle back in her eyes.

I'm pleased with the working relationship I have with our vet. When I have a worry, he takes the time to listen and explain. He trusts my observations and is willing to work with me to try new therapies for my dogs. Because he sees each dog on a regular basis, he has a pretty good idea of their condition and temperament. Regular checkups can give us more quality time with our pets. Mark your calendars.

Monday, May 26, 2014

When Close Does Count

You all know that little Noah has been having some tummy troubles over the last few months. We tried several remedies but nothing helped. Finally we put him on a different drug and I started cooking for him. Noah eats only his special food made with turkey, sweet potatoes, carrots and peas. He also gets some vitamin supplements to make sure we're meeting his nutritional needs. For treats he gets sweet potato chips made here at home. Our house smells like baked sweet potatoes all the time. I guess it could be worse.
Noah lost a lot of weight when he was sick and got down to about 43 pounds. We've been trying really hard to put those pounds back on him, but it hasn't been easy. We added an extra meal each day but still his weight hung around 46 pounds. Our goal is 50 pounds.
Last Friday we took Noah in for a weigh-in. The scale stopped at 49.5.  Yes, we're getting there slowly and next time maybe Noah will reach that elusive 50 pound mark. To celebrate we bought the boy a new handmade collar. Isn't it pretty? Just perfect for a big strong Water Dog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Good As New

Fudge had his stitches out yesterday. All the incisions are well healed and the boy is feeling good. Here is the super pathology report. Notice under comments where it says "Surgical excision is curative."

YEA !!!!!

Today he got to take his tee shirt off and play in the yard with the others. Then we had to brush his teeth. Dr B and I made a plan for caring for his teeth that we hope will keep his gums under control. It was a very good day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's Magic!

Morgan is 14 1/2 now and she goes to the doctor every six months for a checkup. Over the past six months Rob and I have noticed that she's really failed.
 She sleeps about 20 hours a day and seems confused when she's awake. Her hearing is mostly gone and when we call her to go outside, she just lifts her head to look at us, then goes back to sleep. We have to help her to her feet and push her to the door. Then we help her down the steps. After she pees, she just stands there till we guide her back inside.

She doesn't play with toys or the other dogs anymore and when the others gather in the kitchen at breakfast time waiting for their toast, she doesn't bother to come. If I take her toast to her, she just looks away and puts her head down.
Morgan went for her most recent checkup two weeks ago and Dr B and I discussed how much she has gone downhill since November. We talked about quality of life issues and making her comfortable.

When Morgan's bloodwork came back, it showed that her thyroid was too low to measure. We started her on Soloxin immediately.

Two days later I noticed that she seemed a little more alert and awake. I mentioned it to Rob and told him to watch her. On the fourth day of treatment Rob called me to watch as Morgan and Fudge played together. They both did a play bow and barked at each other, then they tugged on a toy. Morgan won and shook the toy and tossed it for Fudge to chase.
It's been a week now and when I call Morgan to go out, she gets up and trots to the door. She can do the steps by herself and when she's done peeing, she goes looking for the bunny that lives under the bush.

This morning Morgan joined the others in the kitchen at breakfast and demanded her piece of toast. She's also talking to me again. When I don't react fast enough to whatever she thinks she wants, she gets in front of me and talks in quite a demanding tone. I've learned to listen and answer.
It sure is nice to have Morgan back. We'll have those quality of life discussions sometime in the future, Morgan isn't going anywhere yet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


The call just came. The report is back. It was not a mast cell tumor.

It was a plasmacytoma, a form of skin cancer but Dr B took a lot of the surrounding tissue and the report says the edges are clear.

We'll watch him carefully for the next six months, but the doctor thinks the surgery should be curative.

Just as an interesting fact, my first Portie, Bentley, had a plasmacytoma removed from his muzzle when he was a year old and it never recurred.

Join us in our happy dance and be sure to read below about the little yellow ducks.

Quacking For A Cause

Attention all crafters!! Whether you knit, sew or crochet, or even if you don't do any of those things, here's a wonderful way to get involved in spreading word of a great cause without much effort at all. I like projects that don't require a lot of effort.

I recently heard about "The Little Yellow Duck Project" and it really appealed to me. Let me give you a little background. It was started by a woman in the UK in honor of her best friend. Her friend died last year at the age of 26 while waiting for an organ transplant. There was no matching organ available and her friend wanted to get out the word about blood, bone marrow, organ and tissue donation. The girl had collected all things ducky, so The Little Yellow Duck Project was born.

This is how it works. We make a duck. Simple. We can knit one or sew one or sculpt one or whatever  we choose to do. It doesn't even have to be yellow. There are even patterns provided on the site and they don't require much in time or materials.
Next we attach one of the project tags, also provided on the site, to the duck and leave the creature somewhere, anywhere. It can be in a park, on a beach, on a store shelf, at a library or at the gym, anywhere that a stranger will find it. The person who finds it can take it home and go to the site as instructed on the tag to leave their location on the big map. So far ducks have been found in the USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Ireland, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Serbia and the Philippines.

The idea is to make the finder smile and become aware of the need for blood and organ donors. To learn more about this sweet but important project, go to the website, The Little Yellow Duck  There is also a group on Ravelry with info and discussion for all you knitters

I'm going to knit a duck tonight but I also have a couple of little rubber duckies that I bought on sale a few years ago. They've been sitting in the closet waiting for a purpose in life.  I'll tag them and leave them for someone to find. I think we can all use a smile these days.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

To All The Moms

Hi Everybody,

We want to say Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms in Blogville, the ones with two legs and the ones with four legs. I'm recovering from an operation so I didn't get to compose a poem or take a great picture, so I stole some.

This picture I stole from Bella and Roxy's blog because it says exactly what we believe.
This poem I stole from the internets because I liked it.

Mother's Day Poem

You feed me when I'm hungry,
You keep water in my dish,
You let me sleep on anything
Or in any place I wish.

You sometimes let me lick your hands,
Or even lick you face,
Despite the fact I've licked myself
In every private place.

You taught me how to come when called,
You taught me how to sit,
You always let me go outside,
So I can take a s.... stroll.

You'll always have my loyalty,
Up to the bitter end.
Cause after all, it's plain to see....

You are a dog's best friend!
Happy Mother's Day

All of us here at Portie Land wish all you Moms a most wonderful day and we'll all try to be really good today on your special holiday.
Your pal, Fudge

Thursday, May 8, 2014


We're just spending our time waiting for the pathology report to  come back. Fudge is being a very good boy.
He hasn't paid any attention to the various incisions so he hasn't had to wear the cone. Doesn't he look jaunty in his big old tee shirt. It protects the incisions and sets him apart from the rest of the pack. The others are all very curious and check him out every morning.
Fudge sits on my lap a lot in the evenings which cuts down on my creativity a lot. It's hard to stitch with 65 pounds of hairy dog parked on your lap. I did manage to finish this while I was waiting for his surgery to be over. I call it 'Chicks With Sticks'.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Patchwork Dog

Fudgie is home and asleep at my feet.  He won't let me out of his sight. When Sara brought him to me in the exam room, he jumped right up into my arms.
He looks like a real patchwork dog tonight. All the lumps were on one side of his body. This is the one on his shoulder.
This  one is on his hip.
There is one on his tail and two on his chest that I haven't gotten a good look at yet.

This is the bad one. Dr B said it had almost doubled in size in just a week so it was good that we got it out of there. He took plenty of tissue surrounding it and is hoping that we got it early enough to not cause anymore problems.
Fudge had his teeth cleaned but the doctor didn't trim his gums back. He thinks we may be able to control the gum issue in other ways.

We also went over the blood reports on Bailey and Morgan from last week and had some surprises. With the exception of one liver enzyme which has gone up quite high, her report looked really good. The other liver values were completely normal for the first time in several years. The big surprise was that her thyroid level was so low it didn't even register. We're starting her on Soloxin in the morning and she may start acting a little more alert.

As for Bailey, her report was very good except for her thyroid. It was borderline, so she'll also start on Soloxin tomorrow. It explains both her inability to drop a few pounds and her lower than normal activity level. At leats thyroid is an easy fix and both my girls should feel better soon.

Now I need to go tuck Mr Fudge in for a nice long nap.

Medical Update

Hi Everyone, today is a rough day for us because Fudge went in for surgery this morning. Yesterday Rob and I clipped the areas over each of the bumps and this morning his nurse Sara marked each of them with a marker to make them easily visible. He looked pretty strange.
I just received a call from Sara and surgery is over. The doctor removed two growths from his chest, one from his shoulder, one from his hip, one from his tail and the bad one on his side, six in all. He has stitches in four of them and will need to wear the cone of shame for a couple weeks.

Dr B also cleaned his teeth and trimmed his gums, so the boy is like new again, though with a few shaved areas and a bunch of stitches.

He's not fully awake yet so we'll pick him up around 3:15 and bring him home to rest. I'll post more after I see him and settle him in. Thanks for all your good wishes. Keep those paws crossed till the pathology report comes back.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May Flowers

After last weekend's storms, we've had lovely weather, though spring seems to have turned into summer overnight. Still we're enjoying a few May flowers in the yard.
I've been around over the past week and have read a lot of your blogs though I didn't have a chance to comment. I hope to correct that soon. It was a busy week. On Wednesday Tess, Lola and Norma Jean paid a visit to Dr B. It's always exciting when those three go together. They greeted everyone inside and examined the brochures and the waste baskets and checked out the dog food displays. They drank from the sink and looked into the storage closet. When the doctor walked in they greeted him with kisses.

Norma Jean volunteered to go first by jumping onto the table. Tess, who is highly competitive jumped up there with her  and not to be outdone, Lola got ready to join them. Dr B found it distracting to have all three girls on the table at the same time and we recruited someone to come hold two of them.

Norma Jean is a big strong girl with lots of muscle from jumping and swimming.  Her teeth, ears, eyes and coat all look good. Her weight is perfect at 62 pounds. The little growth on her shoulder is nothing to worry about and we're watching a small growth on her leg. It's not dangerous but it's location could be a problem. While the doctor examined her, she was busy cleaning his ear and she even held fairly still for her blood draw. Lab reports are back and are perfect.
Lola went next. She weighed in at 61.5 pounds which is perfect for her. She has less muscle than her sister but is in good condition. Teeth are pretty good, just need a bit more chewing and brushing. Ears and eyes are fine. No lumps and no signs of joint problems. Lola had a very hard time standing still to have her blood drawn and it took two techs to hold her while I talked to her and dug my fingernail into her nose to distract her. It worked and her blood report was perfect, too.
Finally it was Tess's turn and she suddenly wasn't so bold. She stood very still for her exam. No lumps or bumps and her eyes and ears looked fine. Tess has defects in her front legs and back. It's from the growth plates not growing at the same rates when she was little. She has a very strange looking walk with her front legs far apart and her feet turned out, but she's our most active dog, running and jumping and retrieving a ball or frisbee. She has some arthritis in her front legs and this time the arthritis in her wrists was worse. Still, she never complains and we're trying to keep her comfortable with glucosamine and fish oil. We'll increase both as her condition worsens and eventually we'll go to an arthritis drug to help with any pain. We're keeping her weight down, 56 pounds to relieve the joints. For now she's happy. She stood nicely for the blood draw and her report was also perfect.

Friday we went back again with Bailey, Morgan and Noah. Morgan went first. She has a checkup every six months because of her age. She's doing pretty well. Her weight is good at 43 pounds and her eyesight has stayed about the same. Her hearing isn't so good but we can't decide how much she hears and how much she just ignores us. She's a lumpy old girl but most are just fatty with a few sebaceous cysts mixed in. Her arthritis is a bit worse and we're adjusting her meds a little to make her more comfortable. Her lab reports will be back tomorrow and we don't expect much of a change from last time.

Next it was Bailey's turn. She weighed in at 61 pounds and the doctor suggested that she lose two or three pounds.  She was in good shape overall but I told him about her favoring her right front leg and he checked it closely. He thinks she has a shoulder injury that is painful. We discussed diet and medication to give her some relief. Everything else checked out well and she even stood quietly for her blood draw. That's a first, we usually have to struggle with her. Dr B commented that she seems to have matured a bit.
Finally it was Noah's turn. He's doing pretty well. I was hoping that he'd gained some weight but the scales still read 48 pounds. We'd like to see him hit 50, but he actually feels like there's a little more dog there so the doc was pleased. He checked out well and we'll add a little more olive oil to his meals and keep on the same diet.
Now that most of my dogs are seniors, I have to anticipate old dogs problems but this time the reports were all good except for Fudge. He'll have surgery on Tuesday, then it will be about a week before we have the pathology report and know exactly what we're dealing with. 
I'm very glad that week is over. Now back to those flowers.