obsessed with dogs

The Emmett Update

I’ve thought of half-a-dozen ways to write this, but it always comes back to this: Emmett isn’t going to get better, and our hearts are broken.

Emmett off to make new friends

“I bet I’ll make new friends at the doctor’s office!”

The oncologist explained the spectrum of the disease. There’s the far end where the tumor originates from the skin, and if it’s caught early, before metastasis, surgery can often cure it. Then there’s the opposite end where tumors are all over the organs, often the spleen and liver. Emmett’s tumor was excised from the sub-dermis, so under the skin, meaning it already metastasized. It’s malignant, and it’s aggressive. But there are no visible tumors on his organs.

What that means is that he falls in between the two extremes. He’s not going to be cured, but we can try to slow the spread.

So, that’s what we’re doing. He’s starting two drugs, what she called “wimpy chemo,” as soon as possible. They’re designed to stop blood from flowing into and growing tumors. If he responds well to the drugs, it could prolong his life and give him some happy, healthy months ahead.

She gave us a window: The next three to six months are the critical period. If tumors show up, then the drugs aren’t working or the cancer has already gotten too far in his precious system. Otherwise, he could have a full year ahead of him, and – in some rare cases – maybe even two.

She told us to watch for “off” days, when he seems tired or loses his appetite, because sometimes this cancer can cause an internal bleed, which is a terrifying prospect.

The past couple weeks felt like we were struggling under water, gasping for air, trying to make forward progress but going nowhere. Work has piled up. Furry dust bunnies are floating around the house. Somehow we need to find our way back to land, to get back into the routines of our days, to let life go on. It’s hard to take my eyes off of Emmett for even a second because I just want to memorize it all… the way his ears perk up when he hears me shift in my seat, the way the sunlight makes the blonde patches of his fur glow, the way his little white toes twitch in his sleep.

But I know that we need to balance real life with making the most of his beautiful life.

So, inspired by a person I stumbled across on Instagram (check out her account), I’m going to make Emmett a Bucket List. I want to capture him doing all the things that he loves (yes, most are going to be eating-related). I have two items so far: eat a steak dinner (thanks to his fabulous aunt and uncle who sent him a box of Omaha steaks) and go swimming. I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions for his List, and once it’s finished, I’ll share it here with our progress.

This is getting long, I know, but the last thing I want to say is thank you. Truly, you have no idea how much all the kind words of support, comments, emails, FB messages, and texts have meant to us. They uplift our heavy hearts, and we are so incredibly grateful to this kind, generous community of dog lovers. Our hearts and lives are full, and we know that Emmett is going to do just fine with all of your love and prayers and happy thoughts giving him the strength he needs to fight this.

Hugs, scritches, and belly rubs – whichever they prefer – to all your precious pups from us.

When the big dogs can’t play…

… the little dogs will find a way!

We’re on our way to Em’s oncology appointment. It’s about two hours each way, plus the appointment time, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post an update this afternoon. Tomorrow for sure.

In the meantime, this past week and a half has provided us with some interesting challenges. Namely, what the heck do you do with a super rambunctious, high-energy Cooper and an even higher-energy foster Molly? Well, we’ve had to get creative.

This video, though, was taken when the big dogs were both totally out of commission a couple days after their surgeries. They were sore. Their stitches were raw, and Lucas was having trouble navigating with his very painful foot. In our house, the bedroom is downstairs, and the office is upstairs. So they didn’t have to navigate the steps, all last week I relocated to the bedroom to work. Periodically I took “the littles” out to romp, then Molly would go back in her crate or, if “the bigs” were zonked, I let her play with Coop if they stayed away from the resting big boys.

These two found a way to make it fun. :)

Molly, Cooper, and some face wrestling from Maggie Marton on Vimeo.

Going Green with the #PawNatural Challenge

*Quick note: I had this post scheduled prior to yesterday’s news. Thank you for all the kind thoughts and prayers. More to come as the week progresses.

We are big believers in going green around here, and we extend that to the herd. We choose natural cat litter for Newt and go for organic treats for her and the boys, when possible (I mean, squeeze cheese aside). This year I’m also tackling our great Dog Food Conundrum, which is to find a natural kibble that works for Emmett’s grain sensitivities and Cooper’s myriad allergies.  We’re also diligent about non-toxic cleaning products – honestly, I make most myself – and pet-safe lawn care. In Indiana, we grew a ton of veggies organically, which we shared with the monsters.

One area we haven’t explored in our going green efforts: flea and tick protection.

Emmett, Lucas, Cooper

When we lived in Indiana, ticks were a big problem. Here in Louisiana, that isn’t the case, so we could probably transition to an all-natural product… we just never thought about it. So, for this #PawNatural challenge, I’m going to start researching options, talk to our vet, and figure out if there’s a natural solution that would work for us.

Incidentally, Cooper is allergic to many of the ingredients in the most popular commercial product, so I’m hoping we can find an all-natural option that will work for him. I know in my Only Natural Pet intro post from last week, many of you want the same thing, so let’s see if we can figure it out together!

(Quick refresher if you missed the post last week: Only Natural Pet was founded on the belief that a natural lifestyle contributes to longer and healthier lives for our pets.)

Only Natural Pet

So, through this project, the emphasis is on changing one thing that can help your pets live a longer, healthier life by making one natural change. For us, it’s going to be a natural flea and tick solution.

What can you do differently for the next month in an effort to go more natural in your and your pet’s life? Share via social media with the hashtag #PawNatural!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Only Natural Pet on behalf of the BlogPaws Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Only Natural Pet, but OMD! only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Only Natural Pet is not responsible for the content of this article.

The hero of our story is sick

Even though it’s out of order, let’s start with the good news: Lucas’ pathology came back benign! Thank goodness!

Coincidentally, the pathology on Lucas came in while we were sitting in the vet’s lobby, anxiously awaiting the results of Emmett’s x-rays.

The positive news gave our heavy hearts a slight lift.

Emmett’s results are not good. He was diagnosed with an insidious, aggressive form of cancer called hemangiosarcoma, which affects the lining of his blood cells. As soon as we received the pathology results, the vet had him right back in to x-ray his heart, liver, and spleen, and to look for fluid build-ups. Because the cancer is so aggressive, often the first sign is far too late and the organs are riddled with tumors. Thankfully, in Emmett’s case, there weren’t any visible tumors, though – she cautioned – x-rays would only show large tumors. We need ultrasounds next.

We head up to an oncologist on Wednesday. They’ll do an exam, look at his test results and x-rays, and help us figure out both a prognosis and a course of action.

I’m sticking with just the facts, ma’am, because anything else and I dissolve into a puddle. Truthfully, I think I’ve cried more over this diagnosis than I did the entire 15 months I was going through cancer treatment. Emmett is my light and my love, and my heart is aching.

We spent the weekend spoiling him: naps in the sun, a bowl of popcorn, his very own turkey burger, and an afternoon at the park – without his brothers. We will continue to do so because it helps us feel like we’re doing something. John snapped this pic during our marathon of relaxing in the sun:

Emmett's sweet face

I have a couple posts already scheduled for the week, but I’ll be back to update on Emmett either Wednesday or Thursday. In the meantime, hug your pups and think happy thoughts for Emmett, pretty please!

A new option for natural pet products #PawNatural

In our daily lives, John and I strive to buy mostly natural products, from cleaning products and personal products like shampoos to the stuff we pick up in the grocery store. No, we’re not perfect (dang, I love Oreos), but we try.

Same goes for the herd. With a few exceptions (hello, squeeze cheese!) we try to stick with natural pet products, food and treats, grooming products, and we’ve even had some luck with organic cotton and hemp toys. However, one factor of living where we do now is that these products just aren’t readily available. So, I’ve been looking for websites to order some of the natural products like treats and chews that we go through quickly.

And then I found out that Only Natural Pet product line is now available on Pet360.com.

Only Natural Pet

I had the opportunity to chat with Only Natural Pet’s CEO, Marty Grosjean, to gain some insights into their brand and the products available at Pet360.com.

He made the really great point that the term “natural” is a fuzzy word that has been over-marketed to the point that its meaning is obscured. But, he said, as a company, they’ve come up with a strict definition for “natural” that is based on their own rigorous standards. For instance, the edibles are made to human quality standards using human quality ingredients. The brand’s complete line of natural pet supplies are formulated by a holistic veterinarian to be biologically appropriate for cats and dogs. 

One of the things I really appreciated from Marty was that he said they strive to be allergy-friendly in their offerings – and not just in food and treats, but grooming products, too. Keeping a dog like Cooper healthy – who for all intents and purposes enjoys a natural lifestyle of playing outside, eating healthy food, and avoiding toxins, all of which he’s allergic to – makes finding the right products for him difficult.

Cooper and allergies

“Is the pollen count high today, lady? Because it feels high. Sniff, sniff, sneeze!”

 

As I poke around their website, I think there are a lot of those allergy-friendly natural pet products that Marty mentioned that will be a good fit for Cooper, especially because you can sort by protein source.

The line includes food , treats, chews, supplements, homeopathic remedies, flea and tick solutions, litter and grooming products. To see what’s available, check out Only Natural Pet’s natural pet products.
This post is sponsored by Only Natural Pet on behalf of the BlogPaws Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Only Natural Pet, but OhMyDog! only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Only Natural Pet is not responsible for the content of this article.

Coneheads

Thank you, everyone, for all the well wishes and words of support on Monday. I know you guys have been in a similar spot and know how stressful it is. The boys are fine and resting up. Lucas seems to be far more uncomfortable than Emmett, but it makes sense because he’s putting so much pressure on that foot as he goes about his day. So, I’m doing my best to keep him still and settled.

Coneheads

“We know you want HBO, lady, but this is just inhumane.”

I’m keeping Emmett and Lucas in the cones for most of the day and definitely overnight. Funny side note: Turns out, dogs in cones scare the pants off of poor Newt! She’s got it figured out now, the poor thing.

Here’s the thing with the cones: Lucas doesn’t mind them at all. He doesn’t let the cone stop him from doing anything, and if he finds himself stuck somewhere, he yanks on the cone as hard as he can… hence, the strip of duct tape you can see under his chin in the pic above.

Emmett, on the other hand, dear sweet Emmett. When he wears the plastic cone, he’s convinced – absolutely, totally, and completely sure – that he’s frozen in place. The plastic cone goes on, and Emmett sits perfectly still, staring at the ceiling. Nothing can convince him that he is capable of movement with that thing on. With the soft-sided cone, he knows he can move, but he has this condition that I call “disembodied head syndrome.” He forgets he has a body. His whole world reduces to just his face and that cone. So he walks into doorways and walls, gets stuck on cabinet and drawer knobs, misses steps, and his tail stops wagging almost entirely – it’s not there anymore, after all! Poor Emmett!

So, that’s the status from here! I had a couple posts planned for this week – yesterday’s and one tomorrow – so I’ll be back on Friday to update. Hopefully we’ll get the biopsy results on both boys by then so I can share that news.

Thank you again for all the thoughts and wishes. It has meant SO much to us! The boys can definitely feel the love!

I suck at brushing my dogs’ teeth. Enter #MilkBone Brushing Chews!

First, a confession: I suck at brushing the dogs’ teeth. I mean, are you guys on top of this task? Because I find it nearly insurmountable. It’s difficult. They don’t like it. Try finding a toothpaste Cooper isn’t allergic to…

I know I’m not the only one; 80 percent of dogs get periodontal disease before they’re three! Even though I’m terrible about brushing their teeth, I know how important oral care for dogs is, so I seek out other solutions like treats and chews. When I had the opportunity to test out a new dental product, I jumped at the chance!

Meet the Milk-Bone® Brushing Chews:

Milk-Bone Brushing Chews

Milk-Bone Brushing ChewsAccording to the brand, “When fed daily Milk-Bone® Brushing Chews are clinically proven to be as effective as brushing a dog’s teeth twice per week based on the reduction of tartar build-up and bad breath.”

Now, the big boys have always been fans of Milk-Bone. Way back when, we used the regular biscuits as part of our separation anxiety protocol for Emmett. We made huge progress, and I’ve always felt an affinity for the brand. I know they’re not the healthiest thing out there, but I think of them like Oreos… I love them so will indulge in moderation.

The boxes we received to try were Mini (5-24 pounds) and Small/Medium (25-74 pounds), which ruled out the big boys. Because chicken is a prominent ingredient, Cooper was out.

So, for her product testing debut, here’s Molly! (She’s not a great product tester. She won’t hold still or stop wagging long enough to snap an in-focus picture, the silly puppy!)

Molly sits for Milk-Bone

I think the two things that make this effective are the nubs and the 75-degree twist to the chew. Molly liked the flavor – she is a VERY picky eater, which Emmett just does not understand – and she worked on it for a pretty long time. I was pleased to see how long the treat lasted. I think the big boys would need the Large size, though.

Chewing her Milk-Bone

Overall, with the appropriate-sized chew, this could be a good solution for periodic teeth cleaning. As far as oral care for dogs goes, palatable and long-lasting makes the treat worthwhile.

If only they could come out with a version for cats! But, for now, she’s happy with the Milk-Bone box!

Newt claims the Milk-Bone box

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Milk-Bone. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Milk-Bone, but OhMyDog! only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Milk-Bone is not responsible for the content of this article.

2 dogs + 2 surgeries = 1 freaking out lady!

Today’s Emmett’s surgery. And – sigh – his brother Lucas will be keeping him company until his surgery later today.

Waiting at the vet

Emmett’s surgery was scheduled two weeks ago. I took him in because he was having some skin/rash issues, and a little red bump on his thorax had changed into a much bigger purple bump. The vet is doing a wide excision in case it’s a mast cell tumor.

Already I was a mess.

Then, early last week, John mentioned that it looked like Lucas snagged his dew claw. It was inflamed, so we got it cleaned up, assumed it was from wrestling with Molly or running through the obstacles in our backyard jungle, and then… I sort of forgot about it.

Until Thursday night. We were sitting outside. It was beautiful weather, so we were grilling while the dogs ran around. John asked if I had checked Lukey’s dew claw. I hadn’t. He hadn’t. Suffice to say, I feel awful.

Whatever it is, it’s not a cut or tear. First thing Friday I called the vet and got him in to see the new vet at the practice that afternoon. He stuck a needle in it, and the needle filled with blood. He said he was hoping to see some pus or cyst material, so he did a second needle. Blood again and a tiny bit of fluid. Long story short: He recommended removing it ASAP because it could be, among other possibilities, a melanoma, which can be malignant. It’s coming from his nail bed, so he may end up losing his whole dew claw in the surgery today. (Incidentally, it was Lucas’ best vet visit ever. He was way more relaxed and behaved perfectly. I’ll write about our new strategies another time.)

So, both my big boys are in surgery today. Wahhhh.

I’m a nervous wreck, and the next couple weeks of two dogs with sutures is going to be a bit of a challenge.

Think happy thoughts for my guys! I’ll update Facebook later today with the results.

Have a sec for a tweet or post to help homeless pups?

Okay, so I totally dropped the ball. I’ve gotten so caught up in this BSL stuff, Emmett’s upcoming surgery (Monday), and other stuff that I completely forgot to share all the BarkBox fundraising efforts.

Drat.

There’s a new initiative every week, and this week’s is almost over, but I think we can pull together and make something happen! Here’s the scoop:

This week’s theme is #rescuederp!

Post a picture of a dog in need of a home/foster on Instagram or Facebook in full on derp-mode!

With the picture, add the hashtag #rescuederp and my account (on Instagram it’s @maggiemarton, and on Facebook it’s @ohmydogblog). To make it easy, you can copy and paste:

  • On Facebook copy and paste this: #rescuederp @ohmydogblog
  • On Instagram copy and paste this: #rescuederp @maggiemarton

Here’s an example on Facebook

For every pic posted, I earn a point toward a donation to my chosen rescue, Friends of Homeless Animals, the shelter that delivered Emmett to us and changed our lives forever!

Not sure what a #derp is? Here are some examples! :)

#derp1 #derp2

Thanks so much for your efforts!! Oh, and if you want to purchase a BarkBox subscription, here’s my affiliate link, which gets you 10% off!

Ok, I promise to be on top of things more next week. Isn’t this seriously the easiest way to get donations for animals in need?! And spreading pics of pups who need homes… what could be better?

More on Monday!

 

Spring has sprung!

You guys, I hate to brag (I mean, I hate it a little…) but it has been absolutely gorgeous around here lately.

Pretty bush

This baby is in our front yard!

 

By all accounts around here, this was a really hard winter. Of course, that’s all relative. Ice twice = worst. winter. ever. I found it to be a lovely winter, but it sure is nice to get outside and play in the yard with the pups on a more regular basis.

Remember when we first moved here, I was a little concerned about the boys and the toads due to the tripping dog story? They’ve shown very little interest in the frogs, toads, salamanders, anoles, and all the other scurrying herps in our backyard. (Now, the rat, well that’s a different store. They are VERY interested in the rat.)

Turns out Molly has a Huntress side. She has caught 20+ lizards. So sad for the lizard population in our backyard. Last night, John pointed out that we don’t know how long she was on her own on the bayou, so she was perhaps surviving on the little guys and, hence, honed her lizard-catching skills.

We should’ve named her Katniss.

Last night she encountered her first toad. The funny thing was she play bowed to the little fella. He must’ve hopped or something because she FLEW backwards several feet, gave a little yip, then pounced. Luckily, we spotted the situation and removed him from the yard before she tried that “drug.”

Since this is the last summer we’re going to live in this house, I’m sure the herp population will revitalize once we’re gone or – fingers crossed! – once Molly finds a forever home. Either way, I do feel a little bad.

Has your dog ever hunted/caught wildlife? Any hunting prowess among your pups?

I hope you’re having glimpses of spring where you are!