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A Dog’s (and Our) Purpose October 30, 2009

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I am not usually a big fan of these chain emails, but I found a connection with this one and thought I would share…

A Dog’s Purpose? (From a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.” Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try to live.

He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps. Stretch before rising. Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


Surgery at last for Daisy October 3, 2009

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Last January I posted about Daisy hurting her knee. After nearly 9 months, we decided to go ahead with the surgery. She clearly was suffering at times and the pain and anti-inflammatory medicine appeared to be causing some diaherra. She is a healthy strong girl, so we expect her to be with us for quite some time. Yesterday, she received a tightrope surgery. The surgeon and vet offices has said she is doing well and she came home last night. They say it is 8-12 weeks of recovery, but after that she should be as good as new.
The hardest part will be keeping her from running and jumping, but with winter coming, hopefully we will inside with her more and she will have more time to recover.

So far, she is trying to do everything she normally does – let go upstairs (I had to escort her down once so far), jump up on the couch and ottoman (so far, we have been able to stop her), and she is even putting a little pressure on her (recovering) leg. The canine species is so amazing in this way. She is quite the stoic girl.

Update on Trevor May 26, 2009

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Morning of 5/26: Trevor goes into surgery this morning. We are all waiting with baited breath. When I last posted, he had his ultrasound and it showed some abnormal darkness around his kidney. They did a biopsy and the results came back on Friday. Unfortunately, they could not be sure what exactly the area was. It was inconclusive. It may be benign or malignant, but without being able to investigate further, they would not know.

So, we scheduled him for surgery. He is a spry 13 1/2 year old in pretty good shape, so the doctors agree, his body take the toll surgery and recovery can take. They just need to get in there and figure out what is going on to cause his blood work to be so out of whack.

He was a little sluggish this weekend, but overall seemed okay. We went for a couple of short walks and even with the warm weather we had, he kept up quite well. He loves to explore outside, so that definitely keeps him going. He is such a trooper and I fully expect to hear great things this afternoon from the vet… will keep posting….

Afternoon of 5/26: Trevor came out of surgery doing very well. The surgeon said the mass was located along the body wall next to, but not attached to the kidney. I think we can suspect the mass was putting pressure on his organs causing them to react in some way. But they were able to remove it cleanly with minimal bleeding. At last check, he was recovering well and only a little dazed by the general anesthetic.

Sick Puppy May 18, 2009

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Our baby Trevor went to the vet early this morning with a very tender belly. He managed to get into the trash on Friday night and swallowed a chicken bone. So, I thought perhaps that had gotten lodge on the way through him. But the x-rays showed no sign of the bone but they did show a completely full stomach and bowels.

Trevor Jan2009

Subsequent blood work showed that he his liver enzinmes were way too high. This too could be related to the body trying to digest a foreign body, but is definitely a something to be concerned about. (He has had higher than “normal” levels, but these were out of the ballpark.)

He managed pass some stool mid morning after receiving an enema. However, his mood and demeanor went downhill after this instead of improving. The doctors were a bit worried so they ordered an ultrasound to see what the x-rays would not show. And what they found was something on or around his liver. Now we are in the wait and see mode until they can do a laproscopic biopsy tomorrow. Poor baby!

Book Review: Tell Me Where It Hurts by Dr. Nick Trout April 1, 2009

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Like most of my other audio books, I listened to this one on my commute. Unlike others, I do not recommend listening to ‘Tell Me Where It Hurt’ by Dr. Nick Trout on a shorter commute. I only have to drive 30-40 minutes twice a day and it was hard to stick with this book in such short segments. The author jumped around, probably much like their typical workload.

However, outside of that, I have nothing to say but good things about this book. he talks about a variety of topics and cases and really gets at the heart of the patient, doctor, and owner relationships. It was an interesting read for anyone that loves animals, especially dogs, and wants to get a little perspective from the people with whom we entrust their health.

We have a 14 year old Shih Tzu and 8 year old Sheepdog, so we are spending more and more time at the vet in the last year. We are fortunate that they are in relatively good health, but book helps give nice insights and ease my mind about the things to come. I say this as my mom is about to put down (Thursday) my dog over several years after college. It is a tough position, but the decision can be made peacefully when you take into account many of the things Dr. Trout talks about in this book. It is a good read/listen!

Raccoons In…, No, On the House! April 1, 2009

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I am all for preserving the wildlife and believe we have invaded into the lives of the animals who lived here long before us. But there does come a point at which you have to protect your family… in this case, I think our animals are most at risk.

On Sunday early morning, Kim and I heard sounds outside – on the roof or even in the attic above our room. On Monday night, I heard some animals making noise out on the lower deck. I flipped on the lights and found one, two, three raccoons out there. It looked like two males fighting over the love of a female. After I turned on the light, one male left into the woods. The other seemed to stick around to tell the girl his intentions before left. Finally, with the light still on, the smallest of them got down and headed into the woods.

I called the Wildlife Removal service in the morning and they came out the following morning (today). They said there was no sign of entry into the house… yet. They laid down 4 large live traps and I am to call each morning to give them a status. The hardest part will be to keep the doggies away. They were very interested in the traps. Needless to say, they will be on leash for the rest of the week.

Wildlife / Raccoon Traps

Emotional Suffering for Physical Suffering January 28, 2009

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You know, as a parent, that you had a bad day when the worst thing about your day wasn’t that your child has had an untreated eye infection for a few days. I am in pain tonight. But my pain is only emotional. My little girl Daisy is the one in real pain. Last night she …. it sounds so cliché but… “she fell and she couldn’t get up.” While we were out, she ventured onto the hardwood floors and just couldn’t get any traction. When Kim got home, she was exhausted from trying and it turned out had blown out her knee.

Daisy Doolittle - what a sweetie!

Daisy Doolittle - what a sweetie!

This morning she had a couple of x-rays and while her hips are in good shape, she has a partial tear of the cruciate ligament. Basically, the link between the upper leg bone (fibia) to the tibia (the lower leg) is coming loose. Because of the amount of weight that it must withstand, it is not something that can heal and often becomes the source of arthritis. In the end, she is going to need surgery. At age eight, she isn’t young, but she is healthy and strong. Now it is just a matter of timing on when we do the surgery.
The likely surgical option is called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO). There is very good article on it HERE. Based on the recovery time, it looks like doing it during the winter where, in our case, her activity is more limited, might be the best option.