Chemo round… more?

Yesterday Lucas was due for his fourth and hopefully final dose of chemo.

As you can probably guess, it didn’t happen.

He had a blood test on Tuesday, and both his platelets and his white counts were too low to administer the chemo. I’m thrilled it saved us the drive to and from Purdue–and all of Lukey’s associated stress–but I was really ready to put this behind me. They want him to get his chemo this week, though, to keep him active in the study, so we’re off to Purdue today because his oncology resident was *pretty* confident that his levels would be okay by today. Probably. So, a 2.5-hour drive each way to see. Please cross your fingers. (I actually wrote this in advance… by the time you’re reading this, we’re already on our way. His appointment is at 9. I’ll let you know…)

I am so. ready. for this to be over.

Our local vet recently suggested that, because they had to lower his dose after the first treatment, we may have to do a fifth treatment. We won’t know for sure until later. As of now, what we understand the next steps include: a repeat of all the radiographs in three weeks to check for metastasis, then repeats of all the rads every three months, plus he’s going to stay on the oral that’s part of the trial, basically, forever. It’s the same one that Emmett’s on, actually, and he’s made it longer than anyone could’ve possibly anticipated or predicted. Maybe it’s not the drug. Who knows. But, I’ll take my chances and keep them both on it!

As for Lucas… well, he’s been doing pretty darn great. I’m so forever grateful that Jackie warned us that the chemo effects can be cumulative because he sure has been tired this time around. Normally when we do walks, we take the dogs one at a time. By the time whoever is third in line gets a turn, that dog is clamoring–whining, crying, pacing, dancing–and if it’s Lucas, it’s amplified times a million! In fact, he’s usually standing at the door waiting, wagging, waiting, whining. Yesterday, he pretty much slept through Emmett’s and Cooper’s walks and didn’t ask for a turn when he was up. We skipped his walk. A clear sign that he wasn’t feeling well.

Lucas has been sleeping a lot more lately. Cumulative effects of chemo?

But, later that night, after he ate his dinner like normal, he tore around the yard, leaped over the fence around the wildflowers, and started to dig them up.

The question I keep getting from well-meaning folks centers around his quality of life. I will tell you this: He may be tired, but his spirit is intact. When he does get out for a walk, he takes lots of breaks. In between those breaks? He runs. After dinner last night, he and Cooper went bonkers running around the living room, knocking into furniture, and scaring the daylights out of poor Newt, who took to the mantle. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, if I had tolerated chemo even half as well as he is, I would’ve had a MUCH better year!

We’ll see how today goes.

These Purdue days are killer: Leave the house no later than 6:30. We see the oncology tech at 9. He goes back with her and gets a blood draw. The blood is sent to the lab. He waits (boo.) there until the results come back. Once the results come back, if they’re no good, I take him home (again, cross your fingers, pretty please). If they are good, then he stays until he gets his infusion, then hangs out for a bit to see how he’s doing. Typically, he’s done after 3:30, though it varies. Then 2.5 hours home. Our average Purdue day is 6:30 to 6:30. If this could be the last? Whooo, boy. Lucas and I would both be pretty darn thrilled.

I’ll let you know how it goes! (Probably not here… it’s very hard to post from my phone… probably on Facebook… I’m really sorry for the inconvenience.) In the meantime, thanks for all the well-wishes and the kind comments and emails. You have no idea just how grateful I am for every positive message on these intense days!! Thank you!

The results are in! Cooper’s DNA test results show…

I seriously can’t stop laughing, you guys. This is pretty hilarious.

Okay, so there were a lot of solid guesses when I posted about DNA testing Cooper with the Mars Wisdom Panel 3.0. Here’s that original post.

The majority of the votes were for a Ridgeback, some pittie, maybe some lab, and my two favorites, a Jack in the Box suggested by Mayzie’s mom, and a Golden Resneezer suggested by my friend Erik. Those two made me laugh…

But not as much as his REAL results!

Cooper is… {{drumroll}}

…an American Staffordshire Terrier Mix!

Cooper's Wisdom Panel 3.0 results

Helpful, huh? :) And, actually, duh because we already knew who his mom was!

On the Mixed Breed Signatures page, it suggests that his mixed ancestry most likely includes members of the herding group followed by a smaller signature from members of the terrier group. There were much smaller signatures from the sporting group and from the Asian group. I guess his dad was just an all-around all-American mutt!

The good news, though, from this test, which I do think made it worth it: He tested normal/normal for the multi-drug sensitivity mutation. What that means is, “These dogs are not at increased risk for experiencing side effects from drugs that are pumped by P-glycoprotein.” Sort of amazing for this dog! But definitely nice to know!

There you have it! So hilarious and not all that helpful!

Lucas’ results, if you recall, were super specific and explained so much. I guess that’s the luck of the draw when it comes to genetics!

Have you had your dog DNA tested? Were the results helpful like Lucas’ or vague like Cooper’s? If you haven’t, would you consider doing it?

The cost of pet ownership: Should animal adoption be restricted by income?

It’s been a while since I climbed onto my soapbox, so lemme dust this thing off and climb on up here…

In 2013, I wrote a post asking should pet adoptions be free, and the discussion on the blog and on Facebook included varied opinions, but it seemed that the general consensus opposed my opinion that, yes, pet adoptions should sometimes be free.

Then, a year later, I wrote a post asking what should I feed my dog, and the discussion was largely in agreement that you just have to do the best you can do, anywhere on the spectrum of grocery store brands of kibble to a whole foods, organic, raw diet.

I find those opinions fascinating, and stick with me here, pretty please, because I’m going to circle around to that.

The cost of pet ownership

Over the weekend I volunteered for a mobile, low-cost vaccination clinic in our area. The idea is to take the mobile clinic to “resource deserts,” areas where pet owners can’t access veterinary care (if you rely on the city bus to get to and from work, you certainly can’t take your dog to and from the vet on the city bus) and to provide affordable basics. Anyone on government assistance qualifies for discounted services. This is basic stuff; we’re not talking blood chemistry or urinalysis, but rabies shots and nail trims. The 16-year-old cat in the pic above was getting her nails trimmed, her rabies shot, and the owner had some concerns about fleas that the vet discussed with her and provided some recommendations.

These are services that we–and by “we” I suppose I mean animal lovers–deem worthy. We understand the value of providing low-cost services to animals who need to be up-to-date on rabies. We attend fundraisers and donate our time to these services. But if anyone asks the question–“Should animal adopting be restricted by income?”–we recoil. That flies in the face of the American dream where anyone from any background can supposedly do and achieve anything, pet ownership not excluded. And yet…

And yet we judge.

It goes back to what Christie Keith over at Dogged said years ago: “There is almost always at least a hint of judgment that poor people will be bad pet owners in a myriad of other ways, too.” Like in the discussion about free adoptions, there was a resounding cry that people who can’t afford an adoption fee can’t afford to take care of their pet. Who defines the “take care of” standard? Is attending a low-cost clinic in your impoverished neighborhood to get the rabies shot not taking care of your pet? Yet, oddly, we’ve gotten into the cultural habit of sharing Buzzfeed photo roundups of how much the homeless love their animals, and we praise and cry over that, but we somehow judge the people in between socioeconomic strata.

Over the years, John and I have volunteered for similar clinics wherever we’ve lived, and we’ve seen the tremendous range of wealth disparity and pet ownership. I’d argue, too, that the range of love and dedication to pets has a wide gap that is completely unrestricted by income. There are lots of disadvantaged folks who love their pets and do every single thing they can for them (see: those Buzzfeed posts about the homeless and their pets), and there are lots of advantaged folks with dogs languishing, bored behind privacy fences.

So, how do you measure the cost of pet ownership? If you can’t afford or are unable to get your dog to the vet, does that mean you don’t deserve a dog? Does that mean that dog is better off stuck in the shelter waiting for a more affluent owner than with the person who doesn’t have transportation to affordable services?

I don’t think there’s one right or one wrong answer here, and I fully acknowledge that, yep, my heart bleeds. But I also think this is one pet-savvy, animal-loving, brilliant community, so I think the discussion is absolutely worth having–and if anyone can come up with some solid thoughts and ideas, I firmly believe it’s you guys. I’d love to know what your thoughts are on this cost of pet ownership issue.

Also, I’d strongly encourage everyone to spend an afternoon volunteering at a low-cost clinic. Most areas having something–check with your community shelter. It’s an eye-opening, humbling experience to see the depth of love that everyone at every socioeconomic level has for their pets.

Summer Must Haves for You and Your Pet

Howdy! Welcome to my round-up of summer must haves for you and for your pet!

Summer Must Haves


As you guys know, I see a lot of pet products. Oh, so many! I write about what’s new and trending for Pet Age Magazine, and I write about products for a couple brands, and I write about pet products here… Companies send us things to try and test, and sometimes I love them so much, I HAVE to write about them. So, I figured, why not share my faves? I went through my current list of tops (there’s a clear safety theme here, btw) to share with you.

Let’s start at the top left and work our way around!

A quick disclaimer





1. Chuckit! Ultra Sling and Ultra Dart. Oh, man. I know some of you have dogs like Cooper: intense energy, a strong play drive, and a love of chewing! This is your solution. The sling helps you throw the dart SUPER far, giving your little athlete the change to run. it. down. It’s seriously the perfect thing to burn off all that energy. There are a bunch of different darts, too, so you can mix it up. The one we use is “rugged” but there’s also one designed for spin, one for speed, one to float, and a wing-shaped one. Start with the sling kit! And find them on Facebook. (Also, psssst: Chuckit! has very generously offered to give one set away! Yippee! So, click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway! Thanks, Chuckit!!)

2. Icebug Mist Trail Running Shoe. Now that I’m “running” with Cooper, I’m more aware of my footwear than ever before! Plus, we’ve been trying to head out for a hike every Saturday, and I realized quickly that a lightweight, sturdy shoe like this one was key… to not falling on my face. According to the brand, “Icebug’s RB9X rubber sole for extra traction on dry and wet surfaces so you stay sure-footed every step of the way.” Yep. Available for men and women. Check them out on Facebook!

3. Kidde RemoteLync. You know those incredible stories about dogs–and sometimes cats–saving their owners in a fire? Those stories always blow me away… then fill me with panic. One of my recurring fears has always been what would happen to the herd if the fire happened when we weren’t home? I know you can get the stickers for your window to alert first responders, but that never felt like enough. Enter Kidde. The RemoveLync system is a tiny box that plugs into an outlet and detects smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, then sends an alert to your phone. Brilliant, right? Peace of mind for less than $100. It’s simple enough, even Emmett could program it. (Actually, I wanted to show size… that’s it plugged into the outlet behind Em’s bed. Tiny!) Check out Kidde on Facebook!

Emmett sets up the Kidde on his tablet

4. NiteDawg LED Light-up Collar and Leash. I’ve mentioned these as a favorite product before, and it’s worth mentioning again. If you walk when it’s dark or even dusky out, these are a must! There are some crazy drivers out there, especially since so many drivers are distracted by their phones (sigh) that being well-lit will keep your dog safe! It’s so hot during the day all summer that walking early morning or late night is sometimes the only option, and in the winter it’s dark all the time. These are worth the investment for your dog’s safety. Available in red and orange. Check out NiteIze on Facebook.

5. Earth Rated Poop Bags. Is it weird to love a poop bag? Because I love these poop bags. I really prefer the unscented variety to the lavender, but that’s just personal preference. The inside core and the packaging is made from recycled materials. The bags themselves break down quicker than a traditional plastic bag, which cuts down on the tons of poop bags sitting un-degrading at our landfills. The white-colored bags (vs the green ones) are made from a vegetable material. And, they’re inexpensive! 18 rolls for $12! Visit Earth Rated on Facebook.

So, there ya have it! My Top 5 Summer Must-Haves for Pets and People! Thanks for checking out all the awesome companies.

Now get out there and have a fun weekend, everyone!