Keeping my senior dog spry

meezyballsmile pt

November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month.

We didn’t set out to adopt a senior, but Mia fell into our laps three years ago and I have nothing but good things to say about adopting seniors. I’d do it again (and probably will). You should too.

With younger dogs, I’ve been guilty of not taking them to the vet for regular check-ups when they seem perfectly fine, but I decided to be more proactive with Mia.

It’s odd to have no idea what your dog’s medical history is. When we first got Mia, we tested her blood, and learned that she had high antibody levels for parvo, distemper and rabies. As far as I’m concerned, that means she never needs to be vaccinated again. And I’m lucky that my local licensing agency accepts titers as proof of rabies immunity.

On the first anniversary of her life with us, I had Mia’s hips X-rayed. She had some arthritis in her right hip, but nothing serious or unusual.

A few months ago, the vet made Mia squeak when he checked her right hip. I didn’t even notice, because she squeaks a lot, especially at the vet. He suggested I consider putting her on arthritis medication, and I said I’d give it some thought. I’d gotten pretty lax about adding the K9 Glucosamine to Mia’s meals; maybe I should try that first. And add salmon oil to the cocktail.

No need to rush into drugs since Mia hadn’t shown any signs of discomfort in her right hip.

She could still keep up with Leo in the yard and leapt on the couch easily as always. Until the one day when I watched her hop down from the couch favoring her right leg. I followed her around the house and outside, watching her. She was clearly limping, not putting weight on her right leg.

The limp went away a couple of days later, but my decision had been made. I googled all the side effects of NSAIDs for dogs and no question, the benefits of easing Mia’s pain outweigh any potential risks. We’ll have her blood checked regularly to make sure there’s no liver toxicity.

On the way home from picking up her prescription, I asked, “Mia, how would you like to take your pill? With peanut butter or cheese?” She voted cheese.

Three weeks later, we had our first blood test. The doctor said the levels in her liver were fine, low even. He asked how she was doing. I said, “She’s running faster.”

I expect that sooner or later, she’s going to figure out to swallow the cheese and spit out the pill, so to make life easier and save money, both on the pills and the string cheese, I mail-ordered meat-flavored generic Quellin chewables. I can’t wait for them to get here.

fitDogFridayThis post is part of the FitDog Friday Blog Hop hosted by SlimDoggy, To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life.

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It’s also Pet Health Awareness Month!

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WOOF! Holiday Challenges

Welcome to the latest WOOF Blog Hop. We’re Working Out Our Fears about holiday challenges!
bug hut.jpg

We put our presents on top of Leo’s hut instead of under the tree. He’d open them otherwise.

My biggest challenge is leaving the dogs behind. My preference is to spend every single second with Mia and Leo. They’ve gotten so well-behaved when we take them to Rob’s parents’ house. As long as we put the butter in the microwave and out of Leo’s reach, he doesn’t get in any trouble at all. Not since last Thanksgiving, when he made off with a turkey drumstick after we finished eating.

Leo gets his own couch at the grandparents'.

Leo gets his own couch at the grandparents’.

This year, Rob and I are going to see my family in Southern California. Fortunately, Rob’s dad, Jerry, is the best ever dog sitter and stays at our house. Even though his own TV is twice as big, I think Jerry enjoys spending quiet evenings here with Mia and Leo, watching Netflix on our 40-inch TV.

I was feeling kind of guilty for making him stay here Thanksgiving eve and Thanksgiving night, but actually, maybe he’s happy to get out of whatever Black Thursday shopping Rob’s mom has in store.

We’re a little too reliant on Jerry when we go out of town, which became clear last month. We had two weekend trips planned for October and I had just purchased our Thanksgiving plane tickets when we learned that Jerry had to have surgery on one of the weekends we planned to be gone.

At first, Rob’s mom, Alice, said she’d stay at our house that weekend, but that quickly became ridiculous. We decided to board Leo at a place he’s stayed before where dogs get to play outside during the day. I’d hate for him to be kenneled all day. Leo is such a live-in-the-moment kind of guy, I think boarding him is harder on me than it is on him.

Because we had to leave early for the airport, we imposed on Alice to drive Leo to and from the boarding facility. This worked out great for me, because I didn’t have to suffer the agony of leaving him in the play yard and driving away.

I knew Leo would be fine. Leo is always fine. Still, I fretted. I called Alice as soon as we landed to make sure she didn’t forget to take him. And then I waited, expecting her to call me after she dropped him off. I knew she had a lot on her mind. Jerry’s surgery was the next day! When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I called their house again. Jerry answered again. I think this was the third time I’d called, the day before his surgery, to ask something about my dog. I had to. My chest was in knots. The last time I’d seen Leo was at 5 am and his big brown eyes looked so sad as he watched us load our suitcases in the car. (Rob said Leo was just sleepy.)

When Alice came to the phone, she described Leo sitting on the front seat of the truck. “He’s so tall!” I pictured long, lean Leo, head almost touching the car roof, smiling out the window, and that image replaced the lonesome one I’d been holding onto since we left the house. My chest relaxed. I actually shed a little tear.

That left Mia, once believed to be our perfect dog, but lately revealed to be a house-destroyer. It’s possible that Mia would be fine if she were boarded with Leo, but more likely she’d squeak and whistle and cry, and possibly tear apart the walls of the kennel.

Lucky for us, Joyce, the pet sitter who stayed with Mia when Rob’s parents took us to Hawaii (the last time we boarded Leo) agreed to take Mia to her house. I said, “If you have to leave her alone, probably you want to put her in the backyard.” And lovely Joyce said, “She won’t be left alone.”

How comforting is that?

Joyce picked up Mia after we left, and brought her back after Alice had retrieved Leo on the day we returned, which meant that our pups were waiting for us when we got home! Alice reported that Joyce and her sister and her little dog had “fallen in love with Mia. She can stay with them any time.”

I know how lucky we are to have such wonderful dog sitters. My chest doesn’t have to be in knots the whole time I’m away from them. Still, I always feel most relaxed and safe when we’re all home together.

What do you do with your dogs when you have to be away? Does it break your heart to leave them behind? Is it harder on you than it is on them?

Oz the TerrierDo you have a reactive or fearful dog? Please join us and share your story. The Blog Hop is open through Sunday, November 16, hosted by Oz the Terrier and Wag ‘n Woof Pets.

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Jonesin’ for a beef marrow bone

Leo has a funny way of running around with a bone in his mouth, looking for a place to hide it, before finally giving up, and plopping down next to Mia to eat it.

Here I’ve given them each a beef center bone from Jones Natural Chews:

And now… the winner of the Jones Natural Chews Canine Christmas Crunchers stocking …

Jones Canine Christmas Cruncher

 

Kaitlin Jenkins of SheSpeaksBark!

 

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

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NaNoWoofMo 2014

Once again, I’m joining a round-robin doggie tale for NaNoWoofMo, a variation on National Novel Writing Month, where we’re woofing the novel instead of writing it.

(Sadly, I bowed out of Red Wheelbarrow Writers‘ round robin, which this year is called Placebo and is awesome, so you should check it out!)

Here are the chapters so far in NaNoWoofMo:

1) Rocco
2) Kuruk
3) Hailey and Zaphod
4) Bongo
5) SwamiZoe
6) Rocco
7) Easy
8) Daisy
9) Kuruk

Thanks to Ku for giving our hero a name and a breed! Previously in our story, Marvin the husky was dumped by his deceased owner’s jerk son, and found himself in the woods welcomed into a gang of fellow huskies. He had just settled in for the night with his new buds, including the fetching leader dog, Bella, when he was startled awake by an earthquake and all the dogs scattered.

And now, the next chapter of the adventure:

“Wooooooooo!” I heard my voice echoing in the forest. Or was that my new friends calling back to me? I couldn’t tell. “Wooooowooooooo! Where are yooooooooooou?”

I ran toward the sound of paws scampering in the dirt, afraid that they would run off and leave me. I didn’t want to be alone. When I first left the farmhouse, I got carried away at the idea of living off the earth like my ancestors had. But after meeting Bella and Grumpy and the others, I got even more excited to be part of a pack.

I loved my life with my master, taking long walks and curling up each night on the foot of his bed. My master was no athlete, but he was my best friend. He always joked that he was the wrong person for me, since we didn’t live anywhere near snow. We watched movies about dog-sledding, and he’d say, “See, Marvin, you were meant to run long distances in the snow with a team of buddies. All I can offer you are a few laps around this gated community and play dates with the neighborhood Labradors and beagles.”

I didn’t mind and couldn’t imagine happier times than howling with my beagle buddies and chasing balls with the Labs. But now my master was gone and I knew I’d never have another human friend like him again.

“Woooowooooowooooo!” I howled again, partly in anguish over the loss of my best old friend, and partly in terror that I’d been abandoned by my new friends.

“Woooowoooo!” This time I heard Bella’s voice in the echo. They hadn’t left me!

My paws beat against the forest floor, following the scent of my new pack. Finally, I caught up to them and was overwhelmed with the comforting unity of our thunderous footfalls. The sweet forest air swept through my thick fur, and I opened my mouth wide, my tongue flapping in the wind as we ran.

I’m doing what you said, Master. I found my long-distance running team.

To be continued….

We have lots more openings to join in the fun. Visit Rocco’s House to sign up!

Conversation with a cat lady

An elderly lady walked out of my office building as I crossed the parking lot. She stared at me as I neared her, and I realized that she was trying to read my shirt.

Me: It says Never Walk Alone.

Her: Oh, that’s a very good idea.

I turned around to show her the back.

shirt

Me: It’s a dog-walking shirt. It’s not where you walk, it’s who walks with you.

Her: I walked with my husband for fifty years.

Me: Do you have a dog?

Her: No, I have a cat.

Me: You should get a dog.

Her: We had three cats. The neighbor’s dog ate two of them. He said, “Maybe a coyote got them.” I said, “No, a black dog got them.” My neighbor had a black dog.

Me: So I guess you’re not a dog person…

never walk

‘Tis the Season for a Jones Natural Chews Giveaway

The Christmas shopping season is upon us already… seems like November 1 comes earlier and earlier every year!
Jones Canine Christmas Cruncher

Last weekend at BarkWorld, I met Flea of the Jones Natural Chews blog, who offered to sponsor a giveaway on my blog. One lucky reader will receive the above Canine Christmas Crunchers stocking of goodies.

I brought home samples for my pups, and they stuck their little beaks right in my suitcase and drooled all over them. I also brought home a couple of festive fall Charlie Brown bandanas from Atlanta Dog Spa. For some reason, the bandanas don’t feature Linus or the Great Pumpkin, but that means the dogs can wear them all November long!

COMMENT BELOW to enter to win a Jones Natural Chews Canine Christmas Cruncher stocking with one beef hoof, one pig ear, one beef knee cap, one beef center bone and one pork K9 bacon roll. I’ll randomly select a winner, to be announced Wednesday, Nov. 12.

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

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Rethinking dog cloning

Several weeks ago, I glibly asked if you’d clone your dog. Because who wouldn’t want to have a second and third and fourth lifetime with their bestest friend?

I was surprised how many commenters said they’d never do it. In my fantasy, scientists could mix up a little cocktail of Isis DNA in a petri dish and boom, another baby Isis is born. I had not thought about the number of laboratory dogs involved in the process. First, an egg must be harvested from a dog, and then a surrogate dog must carry the embryo. Hundreds of dogs have been experimented on, and hundreds of mutant puppies born and killed in the quest to bring dead pets back to life. It’s a gruesome business, and sure, maybe acceptable if the end goal is curing cancer, but not for our amusement.

In Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend, John Woestendiek writes:

That dog cloning would go commercial is exactly what animal welfare groups feared most. It would mean more animals being used for their eggs and as surrogates, more capitalizing on the grief of pet owners. And in a world already overpopulated with dogs — where millions a year are put down in America alone — coming up with a new way to create them, factory style, seemed disingenuous, if not irresponsible.

Woestendiek makes a point, but overall, I found his narrative tiresome. He follows the stories of the cloning pioneers, spending more time on the politics and peculiar life histories of the players than what actually happens to the animals, perhaps because that information is not available.

How many trials and errors and eggs and surrogates it took to produce Missy’s clone isn’t known. With the work being conducted at a private institute in Korea, that data remained secret…

Another issue is that the people who could afford to pay for their dogs to be cloned are complete weirdos.

I’d said I would pay any amount to have Isis back … for science (and a book deal). Again, this is a fantasy where no dogs are harmed in the making of another Isis. My book would be about how alike or dissimilar the Isis clone baby was to the original, based on my having learned from all the mistakes I made the first time around.

Now that I know the cost to other dogs, I don’t want to tell that story anymore.

Maybe as science fiction…

Instead of spending time and money on cloning, let’s find homes for dogs in shelters, like Gibson here! He’s available at the Humane Society of Skagit Valley, and he loves to play!

Gibson

TuesdaysTailsBlogHopOfficialBadge_zpsb5025ffeThe Tuesday’s Tails blog hop is hosted by Dogs N Pawz and Talking Dogs, featuring shelter pets. Find a pet at your local animal shelter or rescue and join in!

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