Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I apologize that I have not posted. The past year has been a nightmare. A man I was with took over my email and blogs and I was unable to get in. I finally got us all away from that man, and am able to get back in my blogs, but it is with a broken heart that I have to tell you Henry passed on today. After 15 months of living somewhere none of us were happy at, I finally managed to get us out. I was really looking forward to a new life with both my kids and furbabies, but Henry unfortunately was only able to enjoy the first couple months with us. I am glad he was able to spend his last couple months in a much more peaceful environment, but very sad that is all he got. Before we got out, Henry was on the maximum dose of Phenobarbital because otherwise he would keep clustering. After we were in a more peaceful environment, March 3rd. I was able to lower Henry's Pheno, and he stayed seizure free. Eventually I was able to get his Pheno dose to only half what it was before. Still, he stayed seizure free. Yet, it was too late, his liver was already shutting down and nothing was reversing it. He was also diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes in it self is very treatable, and so I spent the last two days trying very hard to see if I could treat the diabetes and bring him back. He only got worse. This afternoon he was no longer even lifting his head. I pleaded to God that I needed a break, and presto, there was my neighbor. He lovingly loaded Henry into the van, drove us to the emergency vet, paid cash for the euthanasia and private cremation, stayed by our sides, and took pictures, drove us home and got us McDonald's.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tips for saving drowning dogs

A few days ago I jumped in a lake and saved a chesepeake bay retriever puppy. She had not yet learned the proper smooth gliding motion of swimming and was half way across the lake and frantically paddling way too hard and got exhausted, she was not keeping her head above water as well and still had a long ways to go, the sun was setting awful fast, and so in I went after her. I did not want to risk waiting until she was under the surface of the water as it probably would have been impossible to find her then. I made several mistakes, and I am going to share those mistakes in hopes this helps someone else who may be in my situation someday.

~I dont care who is around, do NOT wear your clothes in the water. Strip down to undies and bra. My thought was I'll take my clothes off in the water if necessary. Nope, that is pretty much impossible to do. Take them off BEFORE you go in the water. It is WAY harder to swim with clothes on. Also, you will appreciate dry clothes when you get out. I was wearing yoga sweat pants and a t shirt. The yoga pants were the biggest problem, as the legs stretched out way too long. This really got in the way. The weight of the wet clothes was exhausting.

~Take the leash with you in the water. When you get to the frantic dog, clip the leash on him/her, and then just tow the dog in behind you. I look like I got in a fight with a tiger. I have scratches all over my torso, arms, face and neck from having to handle a frantic dog directly as I was trying to swim her to shore. Not to mention if you have to handle the dog directly, it impedes your swimming movement, exhausting you further, and you get water splashed in your face as you are trying to gasp for air.

To show you what I mean by the pup not yet having learned the proper smooth gliding effortless, I am posting these pictures:

^^^Fred, an experienced swimmer who has mastered the smooth effortless way of swimming.

^^^Nita, an inexperienced swimmer

Also, if you are going to take an inexperienced dog/pup swimming, have your bathing suit on so you are prepared to jump in and assist if necessary, and make sure there is plenty of daylight left. If you have a small boat, all the better in case he/she goes way out far away.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Riley Has Passed On

Wednesday January 27th at 11:34 Riley was freed from his cancer filled body. He is terribly missed by all of us. Henry keeps looking all over for Riley. In the last two days Henry had two Grand-Mals. Under counsel of the vet, he is on extra Phenobarbital. *So far* that is doing the trick. The last seizure was early this morning. Riley was always like a nurse dog to all my special needs pets as for most of his life he had such excellent health and was usually the only one in perfect health. Even in old age, being deaf, blind and having cancer, he cont'd to be like a nurse dog and take care of Henry. He had a gentle manner that Henry really took comfort in. He would check on Henry frequently and give him kisses as needed. I'll post some pictures when it doesnt hurt so much. He is being cremated and his ashes should be ready to bring home very soon. He would have been 16 in the last week of March and we had been together since he was a puppy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Prednisone working SO much better!

Riley feels SO much better today!!! Yesterday we noticed a marked difference, and today even more so! He is doing so well, he wanted to try to come down the stairs himself this morning! Of course I didnt let him and carried him as usual. Anyways, you can just tell that he is so happy to have some relief and be feeling better than he was a few days ago. The Prednisone is working waaaaay better than the chemo did! (One drawback-he is 100% incontinent now, but, small price to pay!)

Several days ago: (before Prednisone, and after 2 doses of chemo)

After 3 days of Prednisone:

And a pic. of Riley...
(he's panting cause temps are mid 70's and we need to get AC in downstairs)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Discont'ing Chemo

Hello everyone, I had been waiting until things were more official before I updated on Riley. Riley received another dose of chemo on friday, May 15th. When I handed Riley over to the vet tech, I made it very clear that Riley needed to be watched closely with the tumor, as he tends to lick/pick at it. I assumed he would go straight to chemo. 3 hours later, they came out to say Riley had just finished his chemo. Chemo takes 40 minutes. We stayed in the waiting room the whole time, so why didnt they have Riley stay out in the waiting room with us? Fortunately, they offered to let Riley spend the 2 hour post observation period with us in the waiting room. To my horror, the tumor looked much worse. I dont mean to bash the people conducting the study, but I really think they could have gven Riley better care.

(Taken the day after)

They just blew this off like it was no big deal. Riley was panting in pain, his leg was shaking. It's a big deal! We went home and gave him Tramadol. We took him to our own regular vet yesterday, and our regular vet agreed with us that it was time to discontinue chemo. Not just cause the care he received was not the best, but because the chemo doesnt seem to be doing anything for Riley. So today my husband called MSU, and talked with the lady connected with the study, to tell her we had decided to discontinue Riley's participation in the study. She tried to talk us out of it and suggested we bring Riley in so we could get an opinion from a vet there. My husband explained that we had already been to our own vet, and that it had been agreed upon between the two of us that the best thing to do for Riley was to discontinue chemo, and that we Riley would get all future care from our own vet from here on out.

I will share what I have learned from the experience and some of my observations and what I would do differntly in the future.

First of all, though our experience was a negative one, I am not against studies. It is how they come up with new ways to help our furbabies. However if I could do this over again, I would have INSISTED that I be allowed to stay with Riley all the way through, due to the tumor being open, and it was so important that he be watched and to guard the tumor from potential bumps and etc.

Also, I have noticed each time Riley got chemo, I myself got a terrible case of aches. This has given me a window into what this must be like for Riley. Riley likes to kiss me, on the face, on the lips, my hands, my legs, etc. Chemo is excreted through body fuids, saliva included. I am only just over 100 lbs, so this would make me more vulnerable. While I did not get *sick*, I was fatigued and achy. The first couple nights after his chemo, I laid in bed, literally in too much pain to sleep, just from plain old ache. I assumed the first time it was not related to Riley's chemo, but when it happened with Riley's second round too, I realized it must be connected, which made me think, how is *Riley* feeling from the chemo???? He is the one that got it straight up in an IV! For the first 2-3 days after each round of chemo, Riley sleeps heavily and is quite motionless. I realize now, how he was feeling. I have no doubt he was feeling that terrible ache I was feeling, only probably much stronger. So while he did not get *obviously* ill in a more visible way, the chemo still did tax him. If the chemo would have been much more effective in combating the cancer, then maybe it would have been worth it. Otherwise, no, it is just adding to his suffering.

I realize this means we are giving up hope on Riley ever going in remission. We are now taking the supportive care approach in doing all we can to keep his pain level as low as possible, and I realize Riley's days are numbered now. I have been trying very hard to stay strong emotionally for Riley. Nothing in the world makes Riley happiest than to know he makes me happy. And if I spend his last days weepy over him, it will break his heart and he will feel like he is failing me. So when I blog about Riley matter of factly, please know that it does not mean that I am not in a tremendous amount of pain over the thought of losing Riley. I just simply for the most part package up that pain into a box, and put it aside for now. When Riley passes on, then it's all gonna break loose. I will deal with the pain then. My plan is to stay in denial about Riley's time here coming to an end, right up until his final hour comes. Then I will remind myself I only need to stay strong for Riley for a short while longer. Riley cannot know how much I hurt. My good loyal faithful friend of 14 years...I wish he could live much longer. Me and Riley have been through so much together. I gotta stop now cause the tears are starting to flow and I am afraid they will never stop.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I have posted a couple times about our experience with Valium. Valium has most definately saved Henry's life. I have read on the EPIL-K9 list, that some find Valium suppositories take too long to kick in.

The kind I use is liquid, here is a pic.~

The liquid apparently absorbs right away, as opposed to the suppositories. I havent actually used the suppositories myself, so I can't give an actual comparison based on my own experience. But I can certainly tell you the kind of Valium pictured above has been very helpful and that Henry responds well to it. He is dopey for awhile of course, but the Valium certainly ends clusters for Henry. Different dogs respond differently. If your dog is not doing well with the suppository form of Valium, I highly reccomend you ask your vet for the liquid kind. It still goes in the bum, just like the suppository.

While liquid absorbs fast, it does still take 8-10 minutes to kick in.

While on the topic of Valium, I want to show you my emergency seizure kit that I keep in my purse. This is a rigid zip close type deal, that came with my hearing aid. I took all the hearing aid accesories out of it, and put in Henry's seizure stuff instead. In it I have, 3 full doses Phenobarbital in small ziploc bag. (Just in case we get stranded away from home for whatever reason) peanut butter in small ziploc bag, and a fork for administering the Pheno. (Spoon would probably be more ideal) And then the Valium.

p.s. I would love to have comments from people relating what their pet's Valium experience was and which kind was used and etc.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pictures Galore

Hello everyone! Gonna share an update with lots of pictures.

The first few nights after Riley got his chemo, we had the boys sleep on opposite sides of the bedroom. A couple nights ago we gave them back their freedom to sleep wherever they wish (in our room). It was obvious they were thrilled to have this freedom back. Me and my husband sat up in bed, and enjoyed watching the boys happily going back and forth to each others beds, following each other. They were so cute, lol. They do love each other. =)


I posted previously about how I suspect Henry is sensitive to chemo being excreted from other dogs at MSU. Henry also gets very uncharacteristically stressed at MSU. We have been spending many long days at MSU. MSU is where Riley is getting his treatment for his cancer, and it is a 2 hour drive away. We decided to give leaving Henry at home alone a try. Henry had never been home alone without at least having Riley to visit him through the gate. (we separate dogs when we are not home because of Henry's epilepsy)

We hired a licensed and insured pet sitter to come check on Henry half way through our absence. This is a pet sitter we have used for many years and we know her well. She has cared for many of our special needs pets in the past, including a diabetic dog that needed insulin shots.

Anyways, normally Henry stands at the gate and barks in protest to us leaving. On this day, he instead jumped up on the bed, sat down, and looked out the window. There I was, all nervous about leaving, and Henry was handling it better than I!
Henry says, "You go on Mommy and take Riley to the veterbanareeyun. My friend Jill is coming to visit and I am going sit here and watch for her through the window." =D
Henry did absolutely just fine, no problems at all!

In my last blog entry, I told you about how Riley bumped his tumor and it was very painful. This is a picture I took a couple days after and it was looking it's worst. =(

(Instead of Elizabethean collar, I had Riley wear an inside out (to keep pillies and lint off wound) sweatshirt, with one arm deliberately left too long. It worked well.

Today it both looks and feels better. Here is a picture taken just an hour ago:

It is less red, no longer bleeding, and it even looks a little smaller too doesn't it? I'm really hoping the chemo shrinks it lots more. next chemo will be May 15th.
By the way, I figured out dairy might be making Riley more prone to ear infections. He has always been prone to ear infections with those hairy ears. I had been checking his ears every day since the chemo, just to stay on top of it in case. (Chemo suppresses immune system) And his ears were looking perfectly fine, until one day, WHAM! Raging ear infection. I couldnt figure out why it hit so FAST. Then I realized I had been mixing in yogurt with his food instead of the usual canned stuff, and the ear infection hit about 24 hrs after this change. And now that I look back, I do see a pattern connected to the dairy. So I'm gonna go back to the canned stuff. Tomorrow we will likely go to the vet for his ear infection. Normally I can get rid of his ear infections on my own by carefully swabbing *OUTwards* the gunk, and trimming the ear fur, being very careful that no fur falls into the ear canal. I do this for a few days, and then it goes away. Usually there is improvement right away. This time though Riley's immune system is suppressed, so I am not counting on him being able to get past this ear infection without antibiotics.

I am so glad the weather is nice right now. I think nice weather makes it more bearable when one does not feel their best. I remember Alfalfa in his last days, he still enjoyed basking in the warm sun.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update on both Henry and Riley

Hi everyone! Just giving a quick update. Riley had his first Chemotherapy last Friday. (April 24th) All went very well. Riley never lost his appetite, never vomited or had diarhea. Continues to promptly clean his food bowl at all meals. He did have some fatigue for the first 48 hours. Unfortunately, on Sunday, while Riley and Henry were both in a big hurry to get out of the rain, they tripped on each other coming in the back door, and Riley bumped his tumor. This is causing Riley great pain. =( The tumor has been lightly bleeding. Really hope this heals soon. For now we have been keeping him on Tramadol to help with the pain, and it does help.

As for Henry, he had another Grand-Mal, on the 26th. This time he had made it only 11 days which is not the norm.

I have a theory, that it's the chemotherapy being excreted by other dogs in the oncologist unit at MSU that is bothering Henry. Last time Henry had a Grand-Mal 4 days after the visit to MSU. This time, he had a Grand-Mal only a day and a half later. I think this one was sooner cause his own brother is excreting the chemo, so therefore Henry was exposed more.

The chemo is excreted through saliva, urine, feces,blood and vomit. Henry is such a sensitive hound, I really dont think it takes much for him to be affected. I have been washing all the bedding every day, and seperating the dogs at night. I scoop all feces immediately. The vet said sunshine kills chemo in urine.

Anyways, at the oncolgist unit, I think it is just too high a concentration of dogs who have had chemo. We will not be bringing Henry with us to MSU anymore. We have hired a licensed and insured pet sitter for those days.