The dog days of summer — a rambling missive

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So June and July were a whirlwind of activities — sadly, most of them not doggie related.  We volunteer with the Kitsap Arts & Crafts Association, and our big festival/fundraiser was the final weekend in July.  This was our second festival as volunteers, but the 52nd annual for the organization.  We are struggling to keep it afloat with a tiny group of workers, and so it was complete madness for about 3 weeks!

I’ve been neglecting the Tripawds team somewhat lately, and I feel guilty about it — you’ve been so supportive to us, that I feel I owe the same support to others on the site.  But as I log on with trepidation only to find the thing that I dread the most — that another of our dear friends has left us — it gets me thinking about the fragility of my own little friend a lot more than I’d really like.  She’s no spring chicken to begin with, but this past 8 months has been really tough on her, and she’s visibly not the same dog she was as we ended 2010.

And while part of me tries desperately to enjoy every moment with my little friend, I can’t help but watch her like a hawk for any sign or symptom, with my heart catching in my throat if I think I might, maybe, perhaps see something.  I’d rather not think about it at all, but I find myself running my hands over her, not just giving her lovies, but searching for the one thing that I really don’t want to find.  So far, no signs of what I fear, but that doesn’t stop me from looking again in a little while.  And unfortunately, the losses of our compatriots just serves to remind me a little too much that one day it will be my Rio.  So although she’s enjoying life and she’s happy, this old dog (me) is having some trouble learning how to live in the now!

After several months of worrying (but not really wanting to know, if it was gonna be something bad), I finally broke down and had her cough checked out.  We did a couple of chest films last week, and while they show some bronchial inflammation, there are no shadows, no evil lurking mets, no cancer.  (I can’t remember who on Tripawds called them Boris and Natasha, but I LOVE that!)  So phew!  As we were at the vet for everypawdy’s annual check ups, we realized that Rio hasn’t had a “normal” vet appointment in so long, that she was 6 months late on her rabies vaccine!  (If we lived in a less rural environment, and if Rio didn’t feel the need to kill all of the little critters that live in our yard, I probably would just forego any future vaccinations, because she really isn’t exposed to most of the “bugs” that they vaccinate against.  But we do, and she does, so she got the shot.)

The monkeybutts got check-ups, too, and Tosca didn’t bite anyone!  Yay!  She also needed a rabies vaccine, although her’s was right on schedule.  Zeffy got super tiny when the vet was examining her.  She’s such a big baby at the doctor’s!  It could be because when I first got her, she used to eat a lot of stuff she wasn’t s’posed to and we had to go to the vet a few times — for stomach pumping, for x-rays to check the intestines — experiences like that when you’re a tiny pup, and I guess you could be scarred (or just scared) for life.  Plus, she’s not the bravest girl to start with….

We got to talking about how different all three girls are as patients, and how fortunate (if you can call it that) that it was Rio who had to have all the doctor visits.  She is a model patient — she doesn’t bite, doesn’t squirm, lets them do everything they need to do without even so much as a “Hey, now!” when they take her temperature — the only trouble they ever have with her is that she doesn’t want to leave me, so they have to lure her into the back room with food.

Tosca, on the other hand, has a red flag in her chart because she tried to eat a vet tech’s hand, and has snapped at the doctor a few times.  I have to really watch her closely, because if she’s not in the mood for it, somebody is going to lose a finger.  And Zephyr, little Nervous Nell, goes completely limp or tries to hide under the furniture.

But, overall, everyone had a good check up — Tosca got lots of props for weighing in at a svelte 83 pounds.  A few years ago, when I was in Ireland for a month, dad let T get as heavy as 103 lbs.  Let’s just say, he got a bit of a WTF when I got home, even though, by then she was down to 98 lbs.  She has been in the high 80’s to low 90’s for a while, and looks good at that weight, but she’s had a lot more energy and zip at this lower weight, so we think that we’ll keep her there.  Zeffy was a healthy 74 lbs, down from her low 80’s weight, and Rio was her tiny self at 59 (pre-amp, she weighed in between 72-76 lbs).  I think a lot of the weight loss that we’ve seen on all three of them can be directly related to their dietary changes over the last 8 months.  So yay, me, for a healthier diet for the dogs — now it’s time to work on my own extra lbs!!!

Oh, and I have to say, it’s really nice to have a vet bill for once that didn’t give me a heart attack when I got it!  3 annual exams, 2 rabies vaccines, 2 chest x-rays (a little peace of mind), stool sample, urinalysis = $300!!!!!  Granted, it’s still a lot of $$, but the x-rays alone probably would have been that much if I’d gone to Rio’s specialists for them.  Which leads me to my next little quandary:  to continue to see the specialists now that we’re past the chemo and have gotten the Cushings under control, or should I just get the abdominal ultrasounds, ACTH stimulation tests, etc. done by my regular vet?  Cost-wise, it will be a lot less money, and since I doubt that I will put Rio through anymore chemo/radiation/etc. treatments — although I do reserve the right to change my mind should the need arise — do we really need the specialist’s expertise going forward?  Rio is due for her abdominal ultrasound next week, and the last time I went, it was a 6 hour visit.  That’s the other part of the equation — if I get the US done at a local clinic or with my regular vet’s traveling US tech (which may very well be the same one as what the specialty clinic uses), I get an actual appointment, whereas at Summit, they don’t schedule you — you’re supposed to drop the dog and pick up later.  Since we drive 60+ miles to get there, it doesn’t make sense for me to drop Rio off and come back later to get her.  What would I do?  Where would I go?  So I just bring the computer and hang out…  Not exactly the best use of my time.

But the upside of having the oncology specialist, she’s treated Rio through all of this, and there’s a continuity and knowledge base  to both her records and her care that is comforting.  And her internal medicine specialist is in the same clinic as her oncologist, and they regularly consult with each other on her care (although that should have preempted what I like to call the Prednisone Debacle, but didn’t).  So, is this worth the extra cost, the extra gas, drive time, TIME time, etc.?  I don’t know…

Anyhow, to wrap up this brain dump, life is moving forward — often at a breakneck pace — and Rio is still kicking butt!  Rio’s mom is a little worse for wear, though!


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Barney’s back in WA

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If you’ve been following the Killbarney Tour Blog, you know that Barney has recently shown up here in Kingston for a visit with Rio (the Woo) and her Monkeybutt sisters, Zephyr (aka. Thunderbutt) and Tosca (aka. the Moose).

Hey, you smell...... interesting.....

I’m working on putting together a video of our Barney adventures.  Hopefully, I’ll finish that sometime in the next decade or so…  Barney’s definitely proven himself a worth adversary of the Woo!  Who would have guessed???!!!  I think he may be ready to usurp the title of King of the Monkeybutts, or at least give Rocket a run for his money.  Anyhow, stay tuned for the rest of the story….