I have been through the following things with the dogs, in no particular order:
Severe allergies, allergy testing, food trials, giardia, mange, colitis, spinal deformity, collapsed disks, spinal cysts, UTIs, incontinence, meatballs, diarrhea, constipation, yeast infections, ear infections, chronic reverse sneezing, mites, laryngeal paralysis, lung aspiration with potential lung lobe removal, broken toenails, daily regurgitation, happy tail, tail amputation, anal gland infections, hot spots, bad teeth, nasal widening, hyperthyroidism, liver damage, cushings, Ehrlichia, tick born infections, arthritis, legs that don’t work, MRIs, Spinal Taps, ultrasounds and x-rays. I’m sure I’m missing about 50 things.
More than once, cancer has been suggested, suspected and or never ruled out. I have never lost my footing. I’ve cried, but I stood strong.
My greatest heath fear for the dogs, especially since the day Melvin walked into my life, is bloat. Melvin is extremely barrel chested, even more than most other labs we’ve met. He eats too fast, drinks too fast and he combines eating and drinking. Every day or night, I press on his stomach to make sure there is no discomfort. He’s a big dude, it’s not always easy to visually see that his stomach is bigger. Bloat is always on my mind and it is the one thing I will say wholeheartedly that I am irrational about.
This week for our 9,436th emergency vet visit, it was found that Melvin had a minor blockage. They were easily able to take care of it and they did x-rays to be sure they got it all. During the x-rays the vet saw far more air in Melvin’s stomach than should have been there and he had air pockets in his intestines. I knew immediately the words that she was going to say so I just said them myself: Does he have bloat? She said: not at this point, but I’m definitely concerned.
I am not sure I breathed or maybe there was no air or maybe I passed out while still having my eyes open. Then I came to and said: No. I refuse bloat. The vet looked at me concerned, worried that I might think it was optional.
The vet said it was reason for concern but not to the point that they should do the procedure to clear the air. He was in a grey area. I brought him home with 10 things to watch for.
Once we got home, I stared him in the eye and said three things. 1. No matter how much time we have, I will love you beyond eternity. 2. If you die, I’ll kill you. 3. Dear bloat, F-off.
While Melvin definitely did not feel good last night he has improved a lot today. We are waiting on the blood work to come back (to also try to answer why he lost six pounds in a month) We will go back later this week to take another look at the air situation, but for now, all is good!
I’ve mentioned before that I get migraines. The kind that try to kill me, I’m useless for 36 hours, head and stomach in agony, and sometimes have to go to the ER. Many people have asked how I manage the dogs on those days.
Sometimes, I have help. On the days I don’t, well, I do what mothers of humans do, I get up (even when I’m sure that I can’t), I make it downstairs (it ain’t pretty) and I get the dogs out and fed. With a 36 hour migraine, this often has to happen 3-4 times. I will say, on those days, I curse the day I moved the dogs over to a raw diet.
The boys, well they are crazy good on migraine days. Even better than they are on normal days. To be honest, I think they like migraines. I say the words ‘mama doesn’t feel good’ and they assume the position. They can go much longer without potty breaks and they really champion the sleep time.
Of course anyone who has shared a bed with dogs knows that they must be up on you at all times, and sometimes you are pushed out of the bed during one of their sideways stretches. Since migraine days mean extreme nausea for me, I had to come up with a solution that said ‘it’s snuggle time’ but also ‘I need you to stay over there’. So I got their bolster beds, the ones that have a pillow insert and I took the pillow part out and put the bolster part on the bed. This way they are on the bed but there is a barrier to me. (I also used to do this with my sister using duct tape. Only back then, if she crossed the barrier, I’d go tell on her). I thought I’d have to train them to stay in, but they got it right away.
Mr. Snuffleupagus was my first boyfriend. The reason he was my first love is because his was the first butt I ever saw on TV, so I assumed that he was my boyfriend. Relationships were so much easier back then.
Jake has a love affair with the furry blanket on the couch. He moans to come up on the couch so I lift him and then he spends a lot of time burrowing into the furry blanket. I tried to help him a few times and he didn’t appreciate it (he got out from under the blanket and started over). He likes to do it his way, even though his hind legs makes it take forever. When he is doing this, my mind can’t help but go back to that first love of mine.
Video and photos below of my new favorite Mr. Snuffleupagus, complete with butt shot! Some of the funniest parts of the video (especially the second video are the breaks he takes and then the burst of energy that comes after).
I love sleep. I don’t have to sleep in, I don’t have to go bed to early. But when I’m sleeping, I’m silently so happy. Jake loves to sleep too. I think his choices in life go: Melvin, sleeping, me. I’m fine with that.
Then why is that Jake and I bond every night at 3am? Every night. It’s because his pee machine or the meatball factory turn on at that hour. While dude is sleeping. He wakes up in a panic and that wakes me up and the bonding begins. I have tried EVERYTHING to move this nightly occurrence to morning or earlier in the evening. I have fed him at 10pm, 4pm, smaller evening meals. Meatballs at 3am. I have withheld water after 7pm, still there is pee at 3am. What the… Almost every night when it happens I think of the Dunkin Donut commercials: the guy who gets up at 3am and says, “time to make the donuts”. For us, it’s crap. Literally.
I get up, get him cleaned up, change out his bedding and do a load of laundry. By then it’s usually 3:30. Also by then, I’m wide awake. Jake is usually back asleep the moment the new bed hits the ground. There are some nights meatballs happen first and while I’m putting that laundry in the washer, the pee machine has ruined the new bed I just put down. Those nights I say words that would shock your soul (I say them to the night, not to Jake).
I have tried, everything.
- We tried a crib mattress so that clean-up could be quicker (just the change of a crib sheet). He can’t sleep that flatly though, it seems his wrecked spine is most comfortable when his body is more relaxed and curled and not flat. He does better in a bolster type bed.
- I tried puppy pads on top of everything. The first thing he does is remove them from everything or ball them up into a pillow.
- I have tried taking him out at midnight.
- As mentioned, I have tried feeding him at every hour during the day and minimizing water intake later in the eve.
I feel super strongly that he should not wear a diaper at night (and a diaper wouldn’t help with the meatballs anyway) because I don’t want him laying in a full diaper. At least diaper-free in a bed, he can get up and move. And just in case you have a similar issue, he is gated off in a corner of the room with industrial carpet pads down and then bath mats over that (easier to wash). Gotta keep the
This is the point in this post where you can get ready to say ‘wow, she really has tried it all’. You may also gag. I even learned from the vet how you can ‘encourage’ a meatball moment to try to get him to go before bed. It involves a q-tip. Ugh. It worked once. Now he’s immune to it. I can honestly say it felt like a huge low trying to do it, but if it had worked, I would have championed the hell out of it.
So. Any suggestions? More wine? Yes, I agree!!!
If something bad happens, I am the person who will show up. I will hug the hell out of you and I won’t leave until you are ready for me to go. I will take your phone call 24/7. When you are crying, I will hand you a tissue and deny that you are a hot mess but instead say how lovely you are with swollen eyes.
But I am also the person who will
insist that guide you to move forward. When I’m hugging you, I will say ‘we will get through this’. When you call at 3 in the morning I will suggest we brainstorm on ideas how it can be made better. As I hand you the tissue, I will try to make you laugh. I believe that life is meant to be lived in a forward trajectory. I’m sure I can be annoying at times.
It’s no different with the boys. Jake’s legs slide into a jazz split every ten minutes. I don’t say ‘poor baby’, I say ‘carpet’ and then I guide him to carpet so he starts to learn that he has more traction there. Also, steps, cause him tremendous trepidation. I get it. But him doing steps is good for him, it works his upper body and it forces his brain to use all it’s juice to will those back legs to move. In fact, going up the steps is when his legs work best. So I could carry him, but instead, I stand at the bottom and I tell him he can do it. And if it takes 10 minutes for him to get going, well then it’s ten minutes well spent on my guy.
And when he’s going up the steps, he inspires the hell out of me. You got this Jake!
Jake follows Melvin everywhere. If Melvin runs and barks, Jake shuffles himself into a semi-run/drag and follows along. If Melvin shakes, Jake shakes. If Melvin drinks water, Jake is suddenly parched. I’m just glad we don’t live next to a bridge.
I have to give it to Melvin, he lives through some pretty creepy moments with grace and understanding. If Melvin lays down, Jake waits a few minutes (it’s very calculated) then walks over in a ‘oh don’t mind me’ sorta way and sits down next to Melvin.
The thing is, Jake is not a silent or hidden stalker. No, he sits right in front of Melvin’s face. He then waits for Melvin to fall asleep. Yeah, not scary or creepy at all. Then one of two things happens.
- Jake will slowly lower his body in the wrong place, like directly on top of Melvin’s face, or across his torso (why, Jake? Why?). If that happens, it’s over. Melvin gets up and moves as far away (sometimes to higher ground) from Jake as possible. Jake then waits 4.7 minutes and goes to start the process over.
- Or, Jake lowers himself in a less threatening way and Melvin allows it and joy rushes over Jake.