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Before I get into what happened yesterday, a couple important points: In the first two years of his life, Emmett swung from emaciated and malnourished to stuffed to his brindled brim by a well-intentioned foster mom. This was Emmett at a whopping 82 pounds:
He’s a very healthy 65 pounds now. But anyone who has a dog who experienced starvation knows what can happen to some of these pups… they will eat anything and everything in sight. It makes sense, of course, the old feast-or-famine mentality, something deep in their ancestral DNA that drives them to gorge just in case lean times are ahead. Our kitchen is spotless because anything left out will be devoured the second we walk out the door. Over the years, Emmett’s compulsion to eat has led him to score entire loaves of bread off my parents’ counters, a cranberry-scented holiday wreath (x-rays on that one), three pounds of my sister’s dogs’ food (yakked in the yard shortly thereafter), an entire bottle of Advil dug out of my purse (except the label, oddly enough; stomach pumped for that one), and even more odder items that I have blocked from my memory.
The second point before the story: We have a tiny garden in our backyard, raised a foot or so off the ground and encircled by another three-foot high fence with the main goal to keep Emmett from sticking his face in there.
It worked fairly well last year (not so well for our containers of tomato plants… strangely we now have tomato plants sprouting in Emmett’s favorite poop spot). So we planted our garden again this year, then decided to start a neat little compost bin. We didn’t have the bin yet, so we’ve been storing our food scraps, coffee grinds, and other rotting materials in an old Costco-sized coffee canister. With a lid. Behind the fence. Then we put up a second fence to keep the boys out of this section of yard that wasn’t growing any grass, just to give our seedlings time to sink in before they ripp it all up again.
Which brings us to yesterday.
As I was heading out for the afternoon, I let the boys out back and went upstairs to grab my purse. By the time I got back (what could that be? two minutes? three?), Emmett had managed to get his leg or neck or something through the fence far enough to knock the lid off the compost bin and tip the entire bin over toward him. I honestly don’t know how he did it.
In the span of that couple of minutes, he managed to devour about a gallon of rotted food and yard scraps, including several incredibly toxic bits – coffee grounds and avocado pits – not to mention the simple fact that all the food was rotting.
So we capitalized on his inability to not eat anything, put a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl (a trick picked up at the Red Cross First Aid for Pets seminar), held it out for him, and he slurped it right up. Ten minutes later, every single scrap of food came right back up. And, boy, was Emmett miserable. And kind of pissed. Droopy head, droopy tail, watery eyes. It was sad; he was really hurting.
But I doubt he learned his lesson.
But I sure did… No matter how hard we try to keep food away from him, he will always find a way. So we just need to be extra diligent, pay even better attention, and keep a fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide on hand.
Chaos. That’s the theme of the past 72 hours. Complete and utter chaos.
It started innocently enough with a shift at the low-cost vaccination clinic here in town, something I do monthly, usually with very little to report. I arrived to find the first patient of the day, the most darling little pit puppy, with her ears taped, having recently undergone her cropping surgery. Ugh. Plus the guy was lifting her front paws off the ground by pulling up on her collar because he didn’t want her to greet the other dogs. “She’s ornery,” he said of the pup, whose tail was wagging so hard, by the way, I thought she might take off. Follow that up with a dog escaping from her (BROKEN) collar across the parking lot, a lady hoisting her dog by his scruff to toss him in the backseat of her car, and a couple other train wrecks that were so bad I’m trying to block them from my mind… and there you have my Saturday. By the time I got home, I wanted to just sit down and have a good cry, but the woman who organizes the clinic kept making one salient point: For all the things they might not be doing right with their animals, at the least they’re protecting them with vaccinations.
Then there was the time change. Under normal circumstances, it might not have been so bad. But in this instance, John left for his field site in Georgia at 5 am on Sunday. Which means he was up at 4 am, which only the day before was 3 am. The dogs were up and confused, I was up and confused, John was completely exhausted.
I spent yesterday trying little things to help the boys adjust to the time – adjusting their feeding and walking times by one hour so that instead of getting fed at 5:30, they now get fed at 6:30, etc. – though all the wanted to do the whole day was sleep. Today they’ve basically woken up to eat breakfast. I guess it’ll take another day or two to catch up from the Saturday/Sunday chaos and the lost hour.
We’ll get there.
Is your dog affected by DST? What steps do you take to help your pup adjust?
I feel like I might be the last dog lover to read this book because I’ve seen it mentioned all over the interwebs, but I finally got around to combing through Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
Over the past six months or so, ever since Emmett’s cancer diagnosis, I’ve been sort of obsessed with researching dog food, nutrition, health care, alternatives, everything. I spent a lot of time perusing the dog shelf at my local library, and ultimately ended up checking out Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
Well, after accruing a $0.75 late fee (I’m hanging my head in shame), I ended up purchasing it for myself!
This isn’t the type of book that you would want to sit down and read cover to cover. Although I read several of the chapters all the way through, I think the real value in this book is to be familiar with what it contains and have it on your shelf as a reference when you have a specific question. For instance, even though I was primarily focused on the food and cancer sections, I recently pulled it off the shelf to see what he said about dry, itchy skin when I noticed Emmett had some dandruff.
I firmly believe that being a pet parent means choosing what is going to work best for you and for your pet. This book presents a number of alternative or natural options. Whether you choose to follow, to ignore, or to customize the suggestions, there’s great value in having extra information at your fingertips. We’re not going to start feeding his suggested diet to the boys for a number of reasons, but we are incorporating some of his supplement suggestions.
The condition-specific sections are useful for the same reason: When you’re facing a disease, it’s best to have all the information and options you can gather to make sure you make the best decision for you.
Overall, Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats is a really great resource that any dog lover should have on the shelf. While it’s not something you probably want to curl up with at night, it’s a great resource, chock full of condition-specific information and tips for your pet to live a happier, healthier life.
Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what other dog lovers have incorporated from this book. How’s it working?
Note: The links above go to my Amazon Associates page. Check out my brand new tab (Disclaimer & Guest Posts) for more details.
I had a post all ready to go about a very humorous clicker training incident, but I have to set that aside, maybe save it for tomorrow. Because… Emmett is officially into his sixth CANCER FREE month!! We got the call from his oncologist that the biopsy of the tiny bump came back as benign (some type of cyst), though the pathology report indicated it was fully excised anyway. His lung x-ray still showed the little nodes we were worried about before, but they haven’t changed in shape or size indicating that it’s NOT cancer! NOT CANCER!!!!!!
New to the blog? Interested in reading the full saga?
First, we discovered the lump.
Then he had surgery.
We got the first cancerous result.
We thought we’d need to amputate.
We prepared ourselves, but at the appointment, we were hooked up with a specialist who could save his leg.
Emmett’s surgical results were wonderful, better than we could’ve hoped.
Then his 3-month follow-up results were fantastic!!!
And then we had his six-month check up, and he’s still cancer free! There really aren’t words to describe how happy and grateful I am. Truly, no words.
Now if you’ll excuse me… I need to go weep for joy then take a little nap. It has been one stressful, sleepless week around here.
This month marks Emmett’s sixth month after his tumor was removed. Six months from when we thought he’d lose his leg. Six months from our consultation nightmares to the specialist who ultimately saved Emmett’s leg.
We are so incredibly lucky we found an oncology center with consultants from Purdue University, which has one of the best vet schools in the country. Emmett was due for his 6-month check tomorrow, which includes lymph node checks, x-rays, and a very thorough leg exam. Today, though, they called and asked if we could bring him today because there’s an impending snow storm and the radiologist might not be able to make it from Purdue to Indy tomorrow. So John left work and took him.
Which just killed me. I trust John so wholeheartedly, of course, but it just killed me that I couldn’t be there with Emmett, to rub his silky-soft ears, tickle his belly, wrap my arms around his big barrel chest. (Not because he needs the reassurance, of course. Oh no, Emmett adores the vet’s office. He gets showered with treats and attention, so what’s not to love? The hugs and pats are all for me, so I can feel better. Sad, but true.)
This whole Emmett cancer situation… I keep trying to articulate what it’s like, what we’re going through. But, man. There are no words. He’s my baby, my love bug, my best friend. Both Emmett and Lucas have expanded my world exponentially. Through them, I’m connected to this incredible dog-loving community. We’ve met an entire army of kind, incredible, warm-hearted animal advocates, bully-breed lovers, rescue organizations, and all of our AAT friends.
They constantly amaze me with their freedom, their moment-to-moment excitement. They bring us so much happiness and joy. For that, we owe it to them to make sure their lives are safe, happy, enriched, and healthy. Healthy. As in, no cancer.
So now we’re just dealing with what comes. Our three-month round of tests came back clear: no lumps or bumps, clear lungs, clean lymph nodes. We’ll get the results of this round of tests in 5 to 7 days (ugh……). Though the oncologist did biopsy a new little lump on his leg, his first glance at the lung x-rays indicated that they’re still clear. So we’ll see.
I will, of course, keep you posted.
Lucas has had a histiocytoma once a year since we adopted him, 3 total. Luckily, it’s a benign skin tumor, and the surgery is relatively easy. The first was on a toe, which left him with a shallow nail bed on that one toe, but our vets in DC took amazing care of him during his recovery, and we haven’t had any problems with the nail bed. The second occurred shortly after we moved to Indiana, and was on the front of his leg. We hadn’t had much time to find a vet so went to the first one that was recommended to us.
The surgery went fine, but when he went back to have the sutures removed, the vet tech asked if we’d like to schedule a surgery to have the scar fixed. At the time John joked, “Nah, chicks dig scars.” But later, we questioned why anyone would subject their dog to an elective cosmetic procedure. The extra anesthesia and the recovery with all the inherent risks of infection… to fix a scar he isn’t even aware that he has? Though we declined the surgery, we kept questioning who would do that? But if they offer it, then some people must, right?
Then I saw this article on Dolittler today: Five Tips to Minimize Scars Post-op. I was amazed to find out that people elect NOT to have surgeries for their pet due to the risk of scarring. I don’t know… it just seems as though the surgery is far more important than the possible scar or even fixing the scar that appears.
Is it just me? Does this seem crazy to anyone else?
(For his third histiocytoma, btw, we have since found a new vet who we ADORE!)
For the past few months, I obsessed over dog food research. I want to switch the boys to a high-quality kibble because I want to ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep Emmett healthy and cancer-free. Let me tell you… the research available on dog food is pitiful, at best. Plus, the more I learned, the more distressed I was about the options. However, after weighing it all out, I (think) we’re switching to Wellness, though I haven’t yet committed enough to purchase a bag. (I keep going between that and Innova or Blue Buffalo… any opinions/ideas/benefits/drawbacks to either??)
Over my search, I encountered several useful sites and wanted to share them here because I know how frustrating and overwhelming it can be to research dog food:
- Dog Food Analysis: Rankings and reviews that include the product labels. Very helpful.
- FDA’s explanation of pet food labels: Dense, but useful. I learned a lot about what terms mean and it helped me to eliminate some options.
- The Dog Food Project: Detailed information on labels, how to read labels, and brand comparisons.
I know this is a highly contentious topic, especially with the movement for home-cooked and raw diets – neither of which are possible in our case for a variety of reasons, though we currently and will continue to supplement their kibble with meat and fresh fruits and vegetables.
What do you think? Any experience with the foods I mentioned? Or any research recommendations? I want to make this decision within the next couple of days so that I can purchase the new food while I still have some old food left to transition!!
Recently I was alerted to a new site/forum, Fight Dog Cancer, dedicated to fighting dog cancer through owners sharing their stories. I created a profile for Emmett, using my favorite pic and sharing our story. Already we’ve connected with an amazing resource on nutrition for fighting off cancer. Definitely check it out – it can only get better as the community grows.
In honor of Veterans Day, this collection of videos reminds us how hard a soldier’s absence is for his or her whole family – including the furry members. Watch with tissues nearby, and remember to thank a Veteran today!
Yesterday Emmett had his three-month check at the oncologist in Indianapolis. Though he’s been having his leg checked monthly at our local vet, this check was the big one, to see if the cancer had metastasized in his lungs.
The oncologist gave him a thorough exam, checking his lymph nodes (clear!!) and his leg (also clear!!). So the only thing left were the xrays. But, frustratingly, they’re digital xrays and their servers were down… so they were able to get the pictures, but not the results. He said they’d call us on Thursday.
Imagine our surprise when we got home tonight to a voicemail from the oncologist letting us know that the xrays were all clear! There was nothing to indicate metastasis and nothing that is cause for alarm! So we are celebrating tonight! WOOHOO!
Our next steps are to continue the monthly leg checks at our local vet – there is some scar tissue building up, but so far no signs of recurrence – and to go back for another round of chest xrays in January.
We are ecstatic and just so relieved. But all we can say at this point, from the bottom of our hearts, is thank you. Thank you, everyone, for all your happy thoughts and good wishes. You have no idea how much your kind emails, comments, cards, thoughts and prayers have helped us and have, obviously, helped Emmett. Thank you so, so much. We are forever grateful.