Thursday, September 25, 2014

Habits - Growth of Phod

When we first got our boy, he wasn't into being snuggled etc. He would come for pets, but always preferred to be at our feet on the floor. In our house the dogs are allowed on the furniture and initially asking him to come up clearly was stressful for him.

How things change in 2 years!

I usually go to bed an hour or so before Man (my days tend to start earlier and I can't miss my 8 hours of sleep if I am going to function), Phod often races to get up on the bed before I can get in. I often have to move him over so I can get in. He will then lay there while I hold my book in one hand and pet him with the other, and will complain (groan or might even gently paw me) if I am forced to stop petting him to turn a page. He usually lies there until I turn off the light, and then takes his spot either on the floor or one of the two dog beds in our room.

The same is true for TV time on the couch. He has learned his place. We have an L shaped couch. One end is Hailey's, Nin sits on usually my lap and Phod will now get up and snuggle on the couch between the Man and I.  He won't stay a whole movie, he will stay for a while before going and stretching out on the floor.

While I think my boy still prefers his sleep on the floor, he is at least enjoying his snuggles with us. I very much enjoy this time with him!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy First Day of Autumn!

Summer is behind us, fall is here.

This picture is from last fall. The leaves are just starting to change now.  In a week or two we will get some beautiful pictures! It is the most beautiful time of the year in our neck of the woods.

Happy Autumn!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mischief Monday - Our First Bath

Ok, here is a confession, in the 4 years Hailey has lived with us and the 2 Zaphod has, we have never given them a bath.

Our first dogs, Loki and Gemi, rarely got baths from us as they went to the groomer every 6 weeks. So bathing is not something we are familiar with and for the most part is not something we have felt Lee and Phod have needed. Also, the mere mention of the word bath would send Hailey into a panic. Being wet is not something she enjoys and on our list of things to work on with Hailey, bath was pretty low!

However last week, there was no denying how much Zaphod stunk. The waterless bath stuff did not take the stink away, so we decided it was time to do the deed.

There are no pictures of the actual bathing as it took the 2 of us.

Zaphod went first. We lined the tub with a towel so it wouldn't be slippery. Our tub has a hand held shower head. I made the water warm and while the Man held him. Phod was a champ, we were able to easily wash him. As it was his first bath, we didn't wash his head. He didn't love it, but was very co-operative.  He was clean and smelled great!

We set our expectations a bit lower for Hailey as historically we haven't even been able to get her in the bathroom. Our goal was not to wash her (she didn't stink to high heaven) but to get her wet. That is what we did (minus the head). It went better than expected.

Here is how Hailey felt about it:

Now we know, we can wash them if need be! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Round Robin: Caring Critters - Auto-Immune Disorder

We are participating in the Round Robin Caring Critters hosted by Heart Like a Dog. Tomorrow, go to Travels with Barley to learn about Lyme Disease. 

I would like to share with you the saga of our first dog, a Loki and an auto-immune disorder.

It started in 2006 while I was working overseas for 3 months. I didn't know it had started as my husband didn't want to stress me out while I was away. Loki, who was about 5 at the time, had become very ill. He stopped eating. He had to be force fed (and by this I mean they had to shove food down his throat). Blood work determined that his body had attacked it's own red blood cells. We put him on a drug cocktail (sorry, just recently I got rid of all his medical records, but it included drugs to boost red blood cells and drugs to suppress the cells that were killing them).

Loki went into remission until 2009. In spring 2009 I could tell something wasn't right with him. My vet was on sabbatical, so I took him to one of his partner's. This vet brushed my concerns off and I let it go because my vet was back in a few weeks. A few weeks later I took Loki back to the vet and he took my concerns seriously. [Note: our vet happens to be a very close family friend]. Even if our vet wasn't a friend, I would have kept taking him back until I got answers. The lesson is, if you think something is wrong with your pet, trust your instincts and find a vet who will take you seriously. 

Loki around the time he was diagnosed in 2009

Our vet did a bunch of tests (blood work, ultrasound, liver biopsy) and it was determined Loki had immune mediated hepatitis causing cirrhosis of the liver (try saying that 5 times fast). The cause of this was unknown and it is rare. To find the treatment, our vet used online vet forums and talked to vets all over the world.  He determined that at best, Loki likely had one year of life left. His body was attacking itself and at best we could slow it down and keep him comfortable. To do this, we used a drug cocktail that was adjusted at least once per month (more often toward the end). After about 3 years, I got rid of the records, but it was as many as 15 pills a day. It was very complicated and we had a chart (as some pills were to be taken every 2 days), a pill cutter and a pill container. I know there was steroids and immune suppressors. The best side effect of the cocktail was Loki's fur became puppy soft. It was great to snuggle such a soft boy, and he was very snuggly. 

During all this blood work, tests etc. etc. Loki remained a positive happy boy. Going to the vet was still one of his favourite things to do. He was often so excited he would pee on the floor (a habit he had all his life!). I think he only grumbled once during blood work and the tech was shocked as he was normally so happy! 
About 5 months before he died, running at a favourite park. He doesn't look like a dying dog at this point.

After several weeks on the drugs, Loki improved and he lived quite comfortably for the next 9 months. We did everything we could in that time to give him the best quality of life with the time we had left with him. At the 9 month mark, we started to see the decline. Our monthly trips for blood work became bi-weekly.  Loki underwent another ultrasound which showed the disease had progressed. I had opted to not to put him through another biopsy, because it wouldn't give us any useful information, we all knew he was dying. 

During the last 11 months of his life we had such contact with the vet, Loki's HUGE file was never filed. It was either on the vet's desk or in a special place they keep files for animals who are receiving a lot of care. Everyone in the clinic knew us. If our vet was not in and we called, other vets were hesitant to answer our questions/make suggestions, because this was rare and complicated. Either we or they would call our vet at home.

When we could see the end coming, we gave him his fav food.
 We wanted him to have it while he could still eat.
Around the 11 month mark,  we could tell the end was coming and one day Loki had the best day he had in weeks, followed by the worst night. About 5 am he gave me the look, and we knew it was time. We called our vet and set up for a time that evening to have him euthanized. We had made a promise to him that as long as he was not suffering, we would do everything in our power to keep him alive. However, when the time came, we would make the very difficult choice to say goodbye. We didn't want him to suffer one day more than he had to. It was a very emotional experience for us and the staff at the clinic. We were blessed to have such amazing, loving care for him. 

If I could go back, there is nothing I would do differently about his treatment. I know our vet went above and beyond to try and find the best treatment in the world for him. His suffering was minimized. We have learned since, that his case is still used at the clinic as a teaching case. I hope his case can help others. 

I also understand that not everyone would be able to make the same choices we did. It was very, very, very expensive to give Loki those last 11 months. A rough calculation at the time showed we spent about $10 000.  His drugs cost at least $500 a month. We are blessed that we could give him this time. 

I also learned the stress taking care of a dying pet can be. In the moment I didn't realize the emotional toll it was taking on me. It was only after his death that I realized the stress we had all been living with. I should have known the stress it was causing because our other dog at the time, Gemini, actually developed a stress disorder. She developed obsessive drinking (she drank over 8 cups of water a day, which was too much for a 15 lb Lhasa Apso mix) and peeing (she started peeing everywhere) and her fur started to fall out. She also underwent a lot of tests and in the end it was stress. While this wasn't great, it was much better than the alternatives our vet was testing for (Cushing's syndrome for one). One of the lessons we learned is that everyone in the house is very effected by the illness of another member and everyone needs some extra TLC. 

Thank you for reading our long journey. Even with the stress and the cost, I would do it all again to get those 8 years with our Loki. 

Gemini (left) and Loki - best friends

Friday, September 19, 2014

Habits - Nin Alarm

For nearly 19 years we have had a "Nin Alarm". At the time Nin decides we should be up (this varies depending on the season, his mood) he sits and sings and sings. "Mmmrrroow, Mmmmrrrrow, Mmmmrrrow." He can sing for hours. I believe on Sunday morning he sang on and off for over 2 hours. Then the next night at 1:11 am he sang for awhile. 

He sings other times too, but the most annoying  if you are trying to sleep. He also seems to have figured out that if he sits at the top of the stairs he gets the best acoustics in our home and it echoes. It is so loud, you can hear him outside a few feet from the house if the doors and windows are closed.

While it is a very annoying habit, and has been annoying for nearly 19 years, I am trying to appreciate it because I know soon, the "Mmmmrrrooow" will be gone from our house and the silence will be more deafening then any Nin singing ever was. 

I tried to video this so you all could hear it, but every time I got my phone out, he stopped.

Perhaps he is just trying to talk like a Pirate!

Maybe he is saying "shiver me timbers, me bowl is not full"  or "fill my bowl or I will make you walk the plank."

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Project Hailey - She's in a good place

Summer, the season that is the most stressful for my girl, is ending and I am thrilled to report Hailey is in a good place.

Looking back over the summer she didn't destroy anything (other than her toys and those don't count). She was clearly nervous many nights with fireworks, wind and storms, but she dealt with these well. She would take a baby and go to one of her hiding places. 

She has been listening well and we have been able to increase her off leash training. She is loving to get to run free in our yard. We are very careful to only do this at times we believe she will be successful (so not when the wild animals are likely to be visiting).

I have not spent the time working on commands perhaps I should have, however, she has gotten a lot more fresh air and exercise in this good weather. Soon it will be miserable out and we will be spending more time inside, the perfect time to perfect over and whatever else we decide to teach.

I am not sure all the reasons for this almost calmness in my girl, but am thrilled with it. She is growing up to be the dog we knew she could be!

I am perfect and beautiful

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Habits - Deading the Toys

When Hailey was younger, she pretty much instantly deaded her babies.  I learned to sew a little to try and save them. As she has gotten older, she deads less. In fact, she likes to carry her babies around and sleep with them.

Phod has always been the remover of toy limbs and ears. Other than that, he lets them live.

However, every once and a while a good deading takes place in our house and the house ends up looking like this.

I can't get too mad at them for this, this is part of Lee's special gator.  She has had him since 2011. He was her favourite baby. He use to look like this,

Pardon Lady's finger in this old picture, we kept it cause it was funny

and now looks like this:

Soon it will be time for him to join heart baby, several monkey babies, and a whole bunch of other babies in toy baby heaven. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mischief, Mischief Everywhere!

So much mischief to tell you about.

First this is how Lady's toe is doing almost 2 weeks better. It is healing but still hurts if she walks or stands too long.

On Saturday the people got up and got going so they could get to Costco before it got busy. Then this happened:

Lady and Man had to wait for roadside assistance to come and change the tire (Man can do it he says if he had a proper jack). Then they drove to town to find a new tire. Turns out Man's sports car needs special tires. No one had them, he had to order them. Since they were in town they went to Costco anyway, arriving around 11:30 which is crazy lunch time at Costco and makes Costco H-E-double hockey sticks. This made Lady grumpy. It also meant that the people were out of the house longer than they wanted and we were alone. They were only home for a short time when they had to go out cause they were babysitting our cousin Maggie. Maggie was very good and didn't cause mischief.

Maggie is learning to suck her thumb - she is 3 months old

On Sunday, Man caused mischief by taking Lee out without Phod. He wanted to do some off leash training with her. Phod did get to join after 10 minutes, but he was sad to have been left with the Lady.

Looking longingly at the door

Other mischief - Blogger has been acting weird  this weekend (or maybe it is the iPad Lady just got from our Grammie). It isn't always letting us comment and sometimes it just throws us out of a site.

Lady also realized she didn't take one picture of us last week, not one! She tried to say it is in part because her computer is apparently almost full and she needs to figure out how to safely save the 18 000 pictures (at least half that are her animals) before she loads the computer with more. We say excuses! Expect some recycled pictures this week until Lady figures out how to fix her problem.

Another weekend of mischief for us!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Remembering Greta

Today we are remembering Greta, a beautiful pug girl from Idaho Pug Ranch who was called to the Rainbow Bridge after ingesting a poisonous mushroom. She was young and her death was so sudden. It has left a hole in Blogville. Her death is a reminder to us that life is fragile and unpredictable and to live everyday to the fullest. We know that is what Greta did.

Greta, borrowed from her blog

Here are a few of our favourite recent Greta memories.

In April, we enjoyed watching her and her siblings Hazel and Bailey search for Easter treats. The post can be found HERE.

She cracked us up playing pugs gone wild with her sister Hazel. The post can be found HERE.

Lady's heart melted a little watching Greta share the sun with Hazel (Lady loves it when puts cuddle). For more cuddly pictures, click HERE.

We share the heartbreak of this loss with Greta's family. We send them all our love and hope the sweet memories of their special girl, help them through this difficult time.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Habits - Meal Time

Over the next week or so, I want to share some of the habits the dogs and I have.

Today we are going to talk about meal time. Meal time goes something like this.

I get the dishes out. I open the fridge. I put softie in everyone's dish. I pick Nin up and put him on the counter. (He eats his softy up there). Then I walk toward the can that keeps the pups hard food. Every time I walk to the can, a certain girl is waiting for me. It always makes me smile!

Fill it up Lady

Friday, September 12, 2014

To Test or Not to Test

What am I?
I have been thinking about getting DNA tests for the dogs. I am so sorry I can't remember whose blog I read about the importance of getting these tests done (see my Monday post about last week and you will know why everything left my head - it might be a miracle I know I read a post about it LOL!). They made some great arguments about knowing the breed for temperament issues. This and Heart Like a Dog's Caring for Critter's Round Robin, a Round Robin about health problems (our post will be on September 20th), has me thinking about the genetic/breed health issues we may not know because we don't know the breeds of our dog.

While I have always enjoyed having the mystery mutt, I am thinking about getting it done. The cost seems reasonable (about $60).  I just don't know if we will get the information we want. It says common breeds are in the database. So I am worried that the money may not give us the answers.

My question to all of you: Have you had the DNA of your dog tested?  If yes, how was it? What company did you use?

Shepherd and ?????

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering and Hope

Our hearts are heavy with all the loss and sickness in Blogville. Life can be so tragic and unfair.

For all of those who have recently lost a loved one, furry or human, we wish you peace. From reading all your blogs, we know those who were lost were the lucky ones. The ones who lives were filled with love and joy. The ones with lots to eat, lots to play with and people who cared deeply for them.

For all of those facing illness of yourself or a loved one, we hope for a better tomorrow. We hope the obstacles you face can be overcome.

Today we will take time to remember those we have lost and to celebrate the time we had together. While our hearts are broken, we know our lives have been enriched in ways we can't measure by having the opportunity to love.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Play Date

On Labour Day, I set up a play date with the dogs. Taking the dogs into the city is always a big production because of Phod's car sickness. We have to plan it the night before to give him his drugs, and not feed him in the morning. I feel bad that he can't do it more, but it is our reality.

Our play date was with a friend's 8 year old, rescued, Cocker Spaniel/Lab mix, Huey.
Phod meeting Huey

We drove into town and met them at one of the big dog parks, Bruce Pit. Cousin Emma and Uncle Chris met us too.  My friend has a 6 year old and an 8 year old. Hailey barked at them for a second and was then fine. She was also amazing when a toddler came over to her. She just ignored him.

Hailey showing her tricks to my friend's kids

We walked around for about an hour. The pups were all good. Hailey did chase a few squirrels, but came back. Zaphod sat in the one puddle in the park. Huey tried to hump everyone. Just normal dog stuff.

Walking in the woods

Squirrel Hunting

Happy pups! 



Then we were invited back to my friend's house. Hailey and Zaphod have not had the opportunity to visit other places that our little dogs did. Bigger dogs, and dogs like Hailey are more of an imposition. It was only the second house other than ours that we had taken Phod too. My friend has a fully fenced yard, and because it was a nice day, we stayed outside. The dogs were amazing. They just pupped around and Phod kept trying to go into the house. It was funny that Huey didn't try and hump everyone at the house.

Visiting a house

Overall, it was great and we would do it again!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mischief Monday - Lady's Crazy Week

First: Today is our 4th blog-aversary! Wow, can't believe it. It is also post 1387. I keep worrying I will run out of things to write about - I guess not. Thank you all for sharing our adventures. Having you all along with me makes it more fun!

This post is really not about my dogs, it is about our life!

I knew last week was going to be crazy work wise. I work with kids with autism, and they were all going back to school, which meant their therapy schedules and therapy teams were all changing. After 11 Septembers, I knew this was going to be a bit of a nightmare. I also knew the nice summer traffic was a thing of the past and the real world would be back. But I was not prepared for what happen.

Tuesday morning, first day of crazy week. I am trying to feed the dogs. The Man kept getting in my way. First he was standing in front of the drawer needed for the spoon for the soft food. Then in front of the can of food. I went to shoo him out of the way and accidentally kicked him and broke my toe. (Note: The Man was not hurt during the kick).

Toe Day 2
I have broken my fair share of toes in the past (call me klutz) and knew there is nothing I could do except ice and tape. I taped it, found shoes that didn't hurt too much and set off for my longest day at work. At the end of the day, I was hit with a migraine, which turned into a 48 hour headache.

Toe Day 4

Wednesday, Man went to step around Phod and hit the bannister and did this:

Thursday, I was at the farm to get our veggie share, and I embarrassingly tripped going into the barn and hurt my thumb. Hold my travel mug has been painful as the strain is in the palm at the base of the thumb. [Note: I think I have been extra clumsy because of the headache. One of the symptoms I have related to migraines is dizziness, and I felt slightly off balance most of the week].

Add to this the craziness of work (which would need 15 pages itself to try and explain), traffic that was 100% worse then anticipated, it wasn't my favourite week.

I admit, I have not been the best dog mom, as I worked late every day and to be honest, my foot has hurt a lot, but  I took the pups on their morning walks. It was painful but had to be done. I have been leaving more of the other bathroom breaks to the Man as I find walking on the ground, that is uneven, more painful then the road.

Let's hope this week is a little better - or at least no one gets hurt!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Black and White Sunday - Play Time

Tomorrow we will tell you about Lady's crazy week and her mischief! 

Special thanks to @Kenzie_and_Troy and @LokiDoberdog and their Humans who are walking in Ottawa Humane Society Walk/Run-athon today. Some of their walk will be in our Angel Baggy's memory. Baggy was an Ottawa Humane Society kitten. So sweet for people I only virtually know!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Second Annual Hug and Kiss Day

Today Lily and Edward are hosting the Second Annual Hug and Kiss Day in memory of their fur brother Benny.
Benny - borrowed from their website

In Benny's memory, make sure you hug and kiss those you love today.

We look forward to catching up with everyone today and will tell you all about our crazy week!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Uncle Chris!

Today is our Uncle Chris' birthday. For this special occasion, part of his gift was one of Bree from wonder paintings.

Here is Emma!

Looks so much like her! Thank you Bree, Uncle Chris loves it! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hailey's 4th Gotcha Day!

It is hard to believe that 4 years ago, Hailey entered our lives. It has been the best of times, it has been the worst of times. Our lives would be quiet and boring without her!

To Hailey, thank you for bringing your exuberance into our lives. We try everyday to give you the best life we can, because you deserve it. We love you!

Hailey's pet finder picture - can you believe this little face waited 8 months for a forever home!

A tired Hailey = a happy Lady

Our happy girl