Grateful hearts.

I had surgery last week and spent an extra few days at my parents so they could help with Doug and my recovery. I’m so thankful to have family close by and that they are so generous with their time.

This week, someone from the blog reached out to ask me about the grief Jake experienced after Melvin died and to find out if we tried any medication to help. They needed some guidance on their grief journey. I have written before that Jake had a very hard time the hours and days and weeks after Melvin died. He was not Jake, he was hollow, and unsure and broken-hearted. He howled at the door Melvin had gone out of. I couldn’t use words to tell him what had happened. I couldn’t use any language to explain to him that I understood. I could only be as strong as my grief would allow and somehow try to cushion the hardest moment of our lives for both of us.

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Photo credit: Kate Juliet Photography

We did try medication. Prozac. And it helped tremendously.

After Melvin died, Jake and I had an appointment with a well-known behaviorist in our area. So much was going on with Jake in the Melvinless world. His sadness. His confusion. His physical decline; all he did was lay at the door. Waiting for his soul mate to return.

I told her stories of them, from their first days together, to their last.

She took everything in.

She said: Jake needs Prozac.

We had a two-hour session with her, it was VERY expensive and when she delivered that line, I stared at her waiting for more. This couldn’t be all she had to say and why did she say it so matter-of-factly? I could have suggested Prozac and I’m only a fake vet.

I said: Ok, why?

And then she delivered words that gutted me the way that “Melvin has cancer” and “Jake has Cancer” gutted me.

She said: He needs Prozac because from the day he arrived at your house, having lived a life of little interaction with humans and having felt no real love, he suddenly received natural Prozac in the form of Melvin. Melvin cured life for Jake. And now Melvin is gone and Jake feels alone.

My whole body went hot, she was still talking but I felt more emotion than I had been ready to feel at that moment.

So many images flashed in front of me. What I had seen between Melvin and Jake had been Jake idolizing Melvin, Jake obsessed with Melvin’s butt, Jake following Melvin around and sometimes trying to antagonize him. But all of a sudden, I saw it. Something I had never noticed. Melvin always the one to move closer to Jake, standing near Jake, waiting for Jake. Melvin allowing the invasion of his butt. MELVIN LEADING JAKE. Melvin giving Jake understanding unlike any creature I had ever seen.

Melvin saw who Jake was from day one and he accepted the all of him without pause. When Jake leapt of the couch onto Melvin’s head, Melvin met him with stability and forgiveness. Melvin made Jake feel safe, and cherished, and loved. When Jake’s legs gave out, or he’d fall, Melvin was by his side before I could get to him. Melvin was in the house, all day long, everyday, even when I was not. Jake was never alone.

Until Melvin died.

I may have signed the papers, but Melvin rescued Jake.

That moment with the behaviorist felt sad at first. Mostly because I got a glimpse into Jake’s grief and it was way too heavy for his sweet little soul. I felt Melvin after he died. He never left me. But Jake needed the visual of Melvin. The smell of Melvin. The feel of Melvin.

I would rather Jake have found and lost his soul mate, then to have never known what true love felt like. In all sadness, there is still joy.  No one hopes their dog will need medication to exist joyfully in the world, but I am always open to the dogs getting what they need to have full lives. That might be special diets, that might be appointments with trainers or a behaviorist and it might be Prozac. I’m glad we live in a world with options.

Jake’s gotcha day is Thanksgiving weekend. It is so poetic that he came to us at that time. I gave a lot of thought this Thanksgiving to when Jake showed up in our lives and how he and Melvin were destined to be. I live a grateful life, and there are very few things I am more grateful for than my boys.

Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with much to be grateful for!

xoxo

 

Is Doug brave? No.

If you follow us on Instagram (@dougholupka@for.president) you know that Doug has some fears. Public enemy #1 is the shiny tile on the fire-place. If a drop of the best food he has ever eaten rolls onto that tile, he will let that morsel go. He might stare it down, but there is zero chance he would risk life or limb to break the voodoo barrier of the shiny tile.

 

The shiny tile fear transitions to most floors that are not hardwood or carpet. The floor at the vet, scary. The floor at Home Depot, he calls it Terror Depot. The floor at all the pet stores we love – no thank you, love Doug.

I accept Doug as he is and I’m just glad that for the most part we can avoid shiny floors. And that he is only 50lbs so I can carry him when he refuses to move.

Doug also doesn’t enjoy movement that causes noise. This does not include toy noise/squeaking (but secretly I wish it did).  Like if a ball rolls under the table with the acrylic chairs, and he bumps into a chair and it makes various noises, he’s gonna go with, see you later ball. If his tags are going to hit the metal part of the island’s stools, so long treat that rolled under there.

But last week, he took fear to a whole new level.

I was in the office and he started with his fear bark. Which sounds more like a smokers cough.

 

 

I never know right away what he is afraid of. Like legit, never.

 

 

But I do care, so I risk my own life, to fix whatever problem his fear has created.

 

 

But this one had me stumped. He loves that rug. He pretty much loves everything about the kitchen (except the island bar stools), so what could it have been?

I’ll tell you what.

 

 

It is clearly very hard to say ‘menacing’ when you are laughing so hard inside.

FU Koala Bears on a cereal box!

Be careful out there folks.  Danger is lurking everywhere.

The Decade of Melvin.

I rescued Melvin ten years ago. Of course he rescued me ten years, and one week ago (when I drove to Delaware to meet him). I don’t know how it is possible that it is only ten years, because I cannot really recall a time before, or without, Melvin.

Melvin made me believe in fate.  I believe the universe delivered a master plan in us.

Yes, Melvin won in his life with me. He got the vet care he needed. We waged an assault on his allergies. He had the healthiest life he could have, with me. I love him with my whole heart. But the winner of our union will always be, me.

He changed me. He taught me to chase joy. Jake came, because of Melvin. Because we were joy junkies and we needed that little peanut so we could all be more joyful together. I have so much patience for Doug, because Melvin taught me to be understanding of all dogs. To accept that it is not where we’ve been or where we are going, it’s where we are right now.

I worried when he died that he wasn’t able to impart his wisdom on more dogs. Had I know cancer would strike so quickly, I would have brought more dogs into our house so they could soak up Melvin vibes. But now with Doug, I realize that I am his link to all that. I am the connection from Doug to Melvin and Jake. And there are so many things about Doug that remind me of his brothers. My love is the link to them all.

There will be more decades of Melvin, because I carry him in my heart. His love, and life, and light, will always shine brightly in me. Melvin magic lives on.

A few years ago, I wrote a letter to Melvin’s first family. You can find it here.

I have said this before, I have hard time being anything but happy about Melvin. I didn’t spend a ton of time being angry at his life before me. I made a huge effort to not be angry when I was grieving his loss. Melvin personified (dogified?) joy every moment he was alive. I mean his tail got amputated and he came out of that surgery, on the stretcher, wagging his nubbin. He was ALL JOY, all the time. I worked really hard after he died, to not let anger become a part of our story.  There is a peace that has always washed over me when I see Melvin’s face. I hope that stays with me forever.

Ten years of Melvin in my heart. I’m blessed.

5 13 13b

Who are the people in your waiting room?

Where oh where have we been?? I was traveling a little, Doug was being Doug, and next thing you know, it’s May!

We were at an internist appointment on Friday afternoon (to figure out why Doug’s poops are hot lava).  Our appt was at 3:30 and at 4:30, we were still alone in our exam room. I like to think of myself as a patient person, but had that been a doctor appointment for me, I would have said something long before the hour mark.

Here is the thing, this internal medicine practice is part of a larger Animal Hospital, including an ER. Melvin, Jake and Doug have all been ER patients there so I know those ER patients sometime require the specialist you are supposed to be seeing. We have been to this hospital so many times; some of those times we were the ones leaving with high fives and sometimes we were the ones leaving in tears and desperation.

But every time we have been there, regardless of issue, I have always left with the boys.

Jake’s eye ulcer ruptured and he was seen by ER and then they eye surgeon did her magic. That ER took care of Jake when he was choking on a bird. Melvin and Jake both had MRIs and Spinal taps done there. Doug had both leg surgeries done there and they fixed him up after that dog attacked him last summer.

Remember hamburger eye?

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And Wolverine nose?IMG_3696

I got both Melvin and Jake’s terminal cancer diagnosis at the oncology department of that hospital. As terrible as those moments were and as much as my world collapsed, I got to leave with my boys. I got to take them home. We had a little more time.

Here is a photo of Melvin, just because.

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On this Friday, there were many emergencies. There were many hallway tears.  There were many signs that some of the pet parents in the rooms with their loves, would not be leaving with those furry soul mates .

Some had to say final goodbyes.

So Doug and I had all the time that those people needed.  Our appointment would come and go and I had faith that Doug would be fine. What I really wanted to do, was to go to those closed doors and knock gently and make sure that no one was facing that heartbreak alone. To see if we could run up and get some cheeseburgers or donuts for a glorious last meal. To learn their dog’s name and let them know how awesome that dog seemed and that they hit the love jackpot with their owner.

There was a (human) couple there that had been on vacation when their dog started having seizures. Their dog sitter brought the dog in and they returned from vacation and went straight to the hospital. With them, were a couple they went on vacation with. When I said how nice it was of them to come to the hospital with them, the woman said: We have dogs, they are our world too, we get it.

Sigh.

I met a couple who had a boxer who had just gotten a terrible cardiology diagnosis. They told me how they had been spending extra time with their older boxer since they felt his time was coming, and then as it turns out, their six-year-old girl is the one that has a heart condition.  We spoke about how we do our best. The man part of this couple had been attacked by dogs (many times) growing up.  He was kind and understanding and as he told the story of those attacks, he gave forgiveness for each dog. The dog was not socialized, it was not that dog’s fault. One dog was older and maybe I startled him.

His empathy, made my day.

That is when I realized, my tribe, is absolutely always, the people in a waiting room at a veterinary hospital. Doug and I were eventually seen and as we were leaving, our friends called out ‘Douggggggggggg!’, or they ran over to give him some love. A  few even told me that Doug was their therapy dog that afternoon. An ambassador of joy if  you will.

And that is when I turned to each of them, said personal space be damned, and hugged everyone still waiting. We said a prayer for each family we met, and for those whose doors were still closed.

#loveliveson

 

 

He’s Doug.

I have always tried to help champion pit bull type dogs. From friends who have them, to rescues that save them, to campaigns that fight injustices surrounding them. I sort of assumed I would eventually have a pit bull type dog.  Melvin and Jake had their own BSL in place that no dogs of any type could come into our home. Or cats. Or bunnies. You get it. Jake was determined to keep that BSL going after Melvin died.

When it came time to add a dog to a home where no other dogs were, having a blank slate was so strange. I could bring any dog in. Any breed. Any personality. Any size or gender. There were only a few things on my NO list. I didn’t want a special needs dog at that point.  A dog with needs like Jake would have felt more like a fill in. I wasn’t ready to nurture like that again,  I was still reaching for Jake. I also did not, and still do not, want a yellow lab.

During that time, I met all the dogs, all the breeds. I just wanted the right dog for me.

Every dog I met, I had a breakdown over. If you recall, Jake died and on top of losing him, the house was empty. I wanted a dog to solve one of those issue because both of those issues together was just too much.

Then I saw Doug.

Doug brought life back to this home. He was crazy, and spastic, and did I mention how crazy he was? I was not sure what his breed was, he was definitely a mix. When I got him DNA tested, I hoped he’d come back part pit something. But a part of me also worried about that. Not because of myths or stories not based in fact, but mostly because at the time, he was not well-behaved and if he was a pit, we were going to have to work extra hard, harder than other dogs would have to. That excited me and pissed me off at the same time. I’m Doug’s mom and even I was looking at him with extra expectations. I then realized that I in fact, expected no less or more of him than I did of Melvin or Jake. The issue was likely going to be, that others would expect more from Doug. Others are not the boss of us. My goal for Doug is the same as my goal for all my dogs, to give him the best life he can have.

His DNA came back 65% Am Staff and 25% English Bulldog.

Knowing his DNA changed one thing and one thing only.  I was so proud to be his mom. I would be his voice, always.

Most people who see Doug come toward him and say is he an English Bulldog? I first say, he’s Doug. I usually wait until he is wiggling and wagging around them and making them laugh before I say oh so proudly: actually, he’s mostly Am Staff with a little English Bulldog mixed in. 

Some stop petting him. Their loss. Others dive in even more with a what an awesome mix to have! Those people are our tribe.

When people ask worriedly about his past, I tell him that Doug and I live in the present. Since the day we met, he has only known love. He is quite literally, powered by joy.

He is love and joy and Am Staff and bionic and always hungry and always happy and always zooming. He is Doug.

He is all mine. Haters beware, momma is the one you need to worry about.

The only thing I require of Doug, is to live his best life.  Check, check.

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Rogaine Joe.

I have been looking at Doug and trying to figure out what is different about him. It took me a few days but I realized that the spots on his back, his dark skin spots (not his brown cow patches), have been getting darker.  Then I realized that the spots were not actually getting darker, but instead, his hair was falling out, thus I could see the spots better.

Here is Doug from one year ago.  IMG_2126

Here is Doug from this past December.IMG_7802 (1)

Here is Doug now. Please note the very fancy line I added to show exactly where the hair loss starts.  I’m so scientific. IMG_8408

I posted the situation on our FB page and there were so many AWESOME ideas of what it could be – seriously, you guys are the best! We went to the vet, got some tests done and:

  • It’s not fleas (I would have moved). Once we were settled in a new, non-flea home, I would have sued since he is on preventative.
  • It’s not mites. I itch every time someone says mites. Jake had mites 3 years ago. Still makes me itch.
  • It’s not his thyroid.

The experts in our life all agree, it is (maybe seasonal) Alopecia. Doug is going bald at 2! Of course he is, he’s mine, would you expect anything less?

We will see if it is actually, seasonal. It does make sense. He was in jail during last spring and summer so anytime he was outside, I either had his sunscreen shirt on or I had him under a tarp. He was on movement restriction and he would get too hot if the sun was beating down on him. So he did not get a ton of sunshine last year. Add that to him hating the cold (so he does not spend a lot of time outside without a fleece and coat and snood) and poor guy needs some vitamin D-oug!

It is bright and sunny today – we have gone from 30 to 70 to snow and back to 70 in four days and although climate change is apparently not real, our options for sun exposure are limited for a month or two more. He is sunning up as I type this. In the meantime, he is has also been put on 6mg of Melatonin, twice a day.

He has no comb over options so either the hair grows back or he is gonna need a t-shirt wardrobe. Also, and this is just to reiterate that Doug is ALWAYS in motion, he has lost 6 lbs since the start of winter (which was precisely when he got back to his zoomie-rific self). He had gained a few pounds during lock down, so this puts him at his ideal weight but I had sorta forgot his ability to burn through all calories.

Also, just to give a good Jakey laugh – Doug only weighs 10 lbs more than Jake did.

  • Melvin,  82 lbs, 18 inch neck.
  • Jake, 35 lbs, 18 inch neck.
  • Doug, 45 lbs, 18 inch neck.

Maybe this blog should be called 18-inch neck.

 

 

The odd couple.

A couple of friends and readers have lost their dogs recently.  The most asked question in my inbox is along the lines of:

How I got through losing Melvin or how I get through without him. And/or, how did I survive losing Melvin and Jake, back to back.

I don’t cry everyday anymore. Every so often, something will pop into my mind and the joy I feel for that memory will overwhelm me and I’ll have to stop what I’m doing and let some tears flow. I still stay goodnight to Melvin and Jake every night, but long gone are the days when I cry myself to sleep. Everyday, there is a beautiful reminder of them.  Sometimes its Doug doing something one of them would totally of done.  Sometimes its Doug being terrible and I remember how Jake used to leap off the couch onto Melvin’s head.  Sometimes, the blanket at the foot of the bed feels a little heavier over my feet, and I pretend it’s Melvin. Sometimes the reminders are obvious, sometimes I have to look a little harder to find the joy. No one said joy is always easy.

I had a moment on New Years day when I realized I can no longer say that Jake died ‘last year’. Time is both an enemy and a friend.

The answer to how I got through, starts at Melvin.

Melvin was the one thing that was supposed to happen to me in this life. The one thing that would drive who I was to become. It’s not to say my life before him wasn’t spectacular or without meaning.  My life before him was wonderful preparation. For all the joy that was about to explode in my heart.

Melvin made me a better person. He pointed me in the right direction. He taught me to choose joy, to have patience, to make kindness reign supreme. He taught me love. The type of love that requires that we take action, to make life easier for others. To love, even when it requires forgiveness. To choose joy, over all other things.

At some point, Melvin became Melvin and Jake. Jake became Melvin’s plus one. Eventually, there was no,  just Melvin.  At that point, it was impossible to have one without the other.  Especially, when Melvin died.

Melvin’s love lived on in both Jake and I. Jake became my beautiful link to Melvin. We had to learn to reach for joy through our grief. As for Jake dying a year after Melvin, well that was pretty much the universe sucking and being as hurtful as possible and there were some dark moments and I screamed and threw my fists (and a lot of karate kicks) at joy.  Then Doug’s face showed up on Facebook, and he disrupted the sadness. Sometimes joy shows up in disguise and you must have faith it will work out. Even when it’s trying to eat your feet.

I carry Melvin and Jake in my heart. Melvin is still with me, guiding me. Reminding me that joy is what I make of it. Reminding me of how much patience he had with Jake, at the exact moment Doug is driving me nuts. And Jake is the reason that when Doug had back to back surgeries, I didn’t stay in a ‘poor Doug’ state.  I was thankful we had what we needed to make it through. And we did. Jake moves me forward.

I got through losing Melvin, because of Melvin and Jake. I got through losing Jake, because of Melvin and Jake. I love them more today than I did yesterday. I feel closer to both of them (Melvin especially), right now than I ever have. Life put them into my life when it just as easily could have put them somewhere else. We found each other and that is where our story starts.  As for where it ends, well it doesn’t.

Love lives on.

Sally.

My friend (next door neighbor, sister), Virginia and her family, lost their dog recently.

Lost is a very simple word for a very terrible moment.

Sally should still be here.

Before I tell you how Sally left this world, let me first tell you how she became to be a dog I love. There is a rescue group in Northern Virginia called Lost Dog & Cat Rescue. They have a ranch in our area where dogs, who are not in foster, are housed until they find homes.  A few years back, during a polar vortex, they lost power.  Lost Dog put out an urgent plea via social media for people to take animals in for a day or two until the power could be restored.

Virginia, and her giving heart, immediately responded ‘of course’. They were assigned a dog to pick up the next day. When Virginia and her kids went to get the dog, Sally came running out and leapt into their arms. Sally was not the dog they were signed up to get that day, but Sally was the dog they took home. Sally was just meant to be.

The Polar Vortex came and went. The power was restored.  Sally never returned to the ranch.

Sally, was a Dachshund mix. She was probably 6ish when Virginia and her family took her in. She was a man-hating, bitch and bad ass. True story. I loved everything about that saucy dog.

Virginia championed every single thing about Sally. Sally would go nuts over men coming into the house (not in the fun nuts way, more in the let’s kill men nuts way).  Virginia could have put Sally in a room whenever a strange male came over, but instead, she would explain Sally to said male, and ask him to work with them on getting Sally more comfortable.IMG_2507

We should all be so blessed as to have a Virginia to explain our odd behavior and plead for understanding for us.

In return, Sally loved Virginia the most. The most of all the family and the most that a dog can love her person.

A few weeks ago, Sally got out of the house.  It was the accident we all fear, a door was not closed completely and she was tiny enough to wiggle out.

She was hit by a car.

I was at Virginia’s house when this happened. Her two youngest children came running in, screaming that Sally had been hit. The world started moving in slow motion. In the next sixty seconds, Virginia scooped up Sally, she and I got into my car and headed for the vet. The vet is one mile away.

Sally died in Virginia’s arms on the way.

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There are honestly no words to describe what an incredibly horrible moment this was in life. Anyone who has ever lived through anything like this, just hopes it never happens to anyone else.

Sally’s life began and ended in Virginia’s arms. She was loved fiercely. She was a little dog who left a huge void.

The car that hit Sally, didn’t stop. They slammed on their brakes, ran her over and sped off. In front of children. So today, and tomorrow, and all the other days when we find ourselves in neighborhoods where families live and love and dogs and cats live and love…please slow down. #slowdownforSally. And should an accident ever happen, and accidents are going to happen, please stop and do the right thing. Do it because you are a good person.  Do it for Sally.

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Dearest Sally, I hope to one day have half the spunk you had for life. Thank you for accepting Doug, you are the one and only female he ever adored. You will be loved and missed, forever. xoxo

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Doug is the first dog I have ever had where I got to make up his birthday. Even with Melvin and Jake being rescues, I got copies of their vet records and knew their birth dates.

Doug is two!

I don’t know if two will look much different from one, I am going out on a limb and say there should be fewer surgeries!

Doug – you are crazy, I have no idea what to do about you a lot of the time but you fit perfectly into my heart.

I love you. I’m excited to embark on the adventure of getting you safely to three!

Well that’s new.

Last week, Doug pee’d in the house. He did it once a day for four days. Actually one of the times was at Rehab but it was still indoors and it was in front of Becky so I knew he was not being defiant. All four times he had been out to pee recently so I made him an appointment,  I collected some pee from him and off we went.

The initial read of the pee seemed normal.  But the vet asked me how I collected it, if I had touched anything or if the container was clean.  I had not and it was. She was a little perplexed because there was ‘debris’ in the sample.

She did the male version of an OB-GYN exam and then said ‘ohhhhhhhh, there’s the problem’…

I should note here that I spent a lot of time deciding what term to use for this update. Since a lot of readers have said their kids look at pictures of Doug, I went with the G-rated term.

Doug has a ding-a-ling infection.  Saying ding-a-ling softens it a little but it does not make it any less strange. I have had boy dog my whole life and this is the very first (and hopefully last) ding-a-ling issue we have ever faced. For anyone confused, it’s not a UTI, it’s his actual Ding. A. Ling.

I asked her how this could have happened, knowing full well that if any dog was going to get an infection in their man parts, it would be Doug. That thing is ALWAYS out. Some days I worry it’s stuck on the out position. She said it was likely allergies, but that it could be from a lot of different things (like dirt or something getting ‘in there’).  If any of you are wondering if Doug is bringing Syphilis back, he’s not. I asked.  It’s not a STD.

But for just one moment, can’t you see Doug on a STD PSA poster in the subway?

The vet said infections like this can go one of two ways. The seven days of oral antibiotics work, or it could get really bad. The really bad road includes have to wash and clean the ding-a-ling several times a day (with a substance that I happen to be allergic to) and having to apply ding-a-ling topical medication, to said ding.

No.  Just no.

We are really due the ‘it worked’ option.  We’ll take two of those please!

Please.  A ding-a-ling thing can’t be the issue that breaks me.  Oh but wait, it already has.

Instead of showing you Doug’s ding-a-ling, I will show you what happens when he has an urgency to pee from said uncomfortable ding-a-ling.  He pulls when I’m not expecting it and this weekend he took me down hard to get to grass.  I’m covered in bruises and there is this:

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I know it’s gross but be thankful I didn’t go with Herpe Joe’s photo.

 

What to expect when you’re expecting.

For the most part, I hate FB targeted ads. Usually I will shop for something online, buy the item and then FB will start ‘suggesting’ that item (that I already bought) for weeks after. I mean it’s creepy enough that they know what I’m looking at but in most cases, I don’t need two washing machines or two dog unicorn costumes.

But every once in a while, they get it right.  Like when they targeted me for months with the U-shaped body pillow. The ad was via a video of all the restful comfy positions you can use the pillow for. At first I thought, that’s weird and eventually I got to I must have it.

I ordered it and it came and it’s as magical as the video showed it could be. It actually has been great for when I have migraines because, well because that pillow just gets me and I love it. I got it while Doug was on lockdown so he never really saw it. Until this weekend.

I brought it downstairs because I had a migraine and took refuge on the couch for a while. I should add, it looks a lot like a pregnancy pillow. People take one look at it and ask if I’m pregnant.

No. But as it turns out, Doug might be.

The migraine passed but the pillow is still on the couch (don’t judge me or my post migraine laziness).  Come to find out, the secret to getting Doug to calm down or chill out or snuggle, is the sight of this pillow. I kid you not, this unicorn of a pillow has magical powers over Doug.

The migraine day when he was like, wait, what is this?IMG_6943

What? Dogs can have migraines. IMG_6966

Go away, she’s mine now. My parts are all over her. IMG_6973

Can I marry her?IMG_6995

Can we get some privacy?IMG_7012

MineIMG_7029.JPG

There is no way I’m ever getting that pillow back. Also, Doug is registered at PillowsRus and BuyBuyAllThePillows.

 

Bob.

You will recall that there is a feral cat in my neighborhood that I named Bob.  I feed Bob and I bought Bob a cat condo.  It’s comical, because I’m deathly allergic to cats, but Bob deserves for someone to love him/her and luckily, I am not allergic to love.

There have been several attempts to trap Bob in order to get him/her fixed and vetted.  No luck. So I have just continued to put food out every night. About a month ago I noticed that Bob was getting pretty chunky (no judgement) and realized that Bob was probably pregnant (still no judgment). In the past week, Bob has been very demanding about food.  S/he will loud meow (this is a very technical term) outside my window.  We have a little routine.  S/he demands food, I go outside to fill up the bowl while s/he hides, then when I go inside, s/he eats. Whatever Bob wants.

Bob looking ‘plump’. IMG_3814

This weekend, a neighbor found kittens on her deck.  Bob was watching them from the woods.

Bob’s a mom!

The theory is that Bob lives in the sewer.  She had her kittens there but when the rains picked up here, she moved them to higher ground.

A lot happened in the 24 hours following the kitten discovery. The kittens were taken into rescue.  They are about 3-4 weeks old. Bob was trapped and has been reunited with her babies.  She will continue to nurse them for a bit longer.  Then I will take Bob to our vet to have her vetted and spayed and microchipped to me. We will then introduce her to my backyard and garage (temperature controlled) to see if she would like to call it home. Due to my allergies, that is the best I can offer her. I’ll continue to feed her as long as she continues to come here to eat.  If it’s determined that Bob could be a house cat, then we would love to get her adopted out, but that is unlikely.  Bob likely prefers to be undomesticated. The kittens will be adopted out.

Also, her name is staying Bob. It’s part of her story.

Bob in the trap. IMG_4259 (1)

Reunited with her babies!

Mom love.

Who runs the world? Mom.

There is nothing in the world like Mom love, not for me anyway. Every single effort I make or have made for the boys, is because my mom showed me what it felt like to be loved unconditionally.

So to all the moms, you are the glue. You are the icing.  You are the love.

Happy Mother’s day to moms of two-legged children. To moms of three and four-legged loves. To moms who have young kids, to moms whose kids have left their beautiful nest.

To the moms who have lost children. To those who have lost moms.

Happy Mother’s day to the male moms. Happy Mother’s day to those who are about to become moms. To the moms with no kids, who help to mother those around them. To the next generation of moms, may they be fierce.

In the spirit of love living on, Mom love lives on too.  Whether your mom is with you still, or gone, the mom love in us lives and grows and impacts us in ways we notice and in ways we sometimes overlook.

To my mom, you are all the beautiful moments, all the love that surrounds me. You are my goodness and my strength and my laughter.  I’m a good mom because you have been the best mom.

And to my boys, who made me a dog mom, well there is nothing in the world I am more grateful for than you.

xoxo to you all!

When exhaustion wins.

Doug is confined to the first floor for at least three months. I slept with him downstairs for a few nights but now I lay with him until he falls asleep, then I go upstairs.

I go upstairs so I can get some real rest.  But for some reason (the reason is that I’m cray), I don’t sleep all that much.  I watch Doug on camera. I let him sleep in the donut which is about 80% good at keeping him from licking his leg but 100% good at him sleeping more soundly. Still, I watch the camera throughout the night to be sure he does not lick, or get his leg stuck in the pen, or anything else I can make up that will probably never happen. Yet still, I watch.

Last week, I dozed off while watching the camera. I was awoken to the noise of Doug repositioning and having a hard time of it. I lifted my head to see what the noises were about and, I SAW A PERSON WALKING OUT OF THE MUDROOM – AT 3AM!

There are a lot of things that could have happened at this point. I mean until you are faced with an intruder, who knows what the response will be. Here is what I did. (The real F word will be replaced with more family friendly F words for this recap of events):

I leapt from my bed screaming, GET THE FUDGE AWAY FROM MY DOG YOU FORKER! I WILL FRIENDING KILL YOU, YOU MOTHER FINGER!  I WILL FROGGING CUT YOUR THROAT! WHERE ARE YOU FRITO-NUT??! 

I went tearing down the steps, screaming the above. I could feel veins in my head popping and there was no oxygen.

I would like to add here that I’m against violence. I cannot watch movies with even mild violent content.  But if you are a person (or a bug) going towards my dogs with bad intention, I will frosting cut you.

Once I got downstairs, no one was there.

The alarm was still on and all the sensors were good, none of them had been tripped. I checked the security video from the other rooms, nothing. For a brief minute I thought maybe the video from the cameras was on a loop to fool me.  WHO THE HELL DID I THINK WAS BREAKING INTO MY HOUSE? JASON BOURNE?

Doug was not sure what was happening but it made him wiggle with delight. Party at 3am!

Exhaustion got the best of me. I imagined I saw someone in the house because the video was rendering when I looked at it. After a quick sit on the couch to allow the heart attack to fully play out, and a few minutes pondering why I didn’t bring as much as a shoe downstairs as a weapon (what was my plan on this one???) I went back up to bed and tried to pretend I was normal.  In my defense (who am I kidding), I’m not used to the dogs sleeping downstairs.  They have always been upstairs with me.  Also, (now I’m really reaching) when we are out in public, some people are a little too interested in Doug. We have been to adoption events where people follow us and I try to explain to them that Doug is not an adoptable. One even asked if I could take their number in case he ever is. (Wait, what??). So at this moment in Crazytown, I assumed someone had followed us home.  Even though Doug had not been off our property for over a week.

Signed, Doug’s ninja sleep deprived mom.

Maybe I paid someone to jailbreak me. Ever think of that? You ruin everything, mother. IMG_4183

 

 

Hello ER, I did not miss you.

Seven-months and one day, that is how long it took for Doug to have his first ER vet visit. Much, much longer than it took his brothers, something I had not missed at all. In fact, the last time I’d been at the same ER, in the same exact room, was when Jakey ruptured his eye ulcer.

I have been taking Doug to a local sanctuary shelter on the weekend. It gives us a chance to meet dogs over and over and see how they progress (and it makes Doug tired!). I’ve learned a lot about how dogs react to Doug and at the same time I’ve become more confused about how some dogs react to Doug. When it goes well, it’s easy to say yay. The confusion is among dogs who get to know him for a few minutes and then decided, no thank you. In sort of a big NO THANK YOU way. When it goes bad, I have found for the most part, it is the other dog that doesn’t react well to something about Doug and then Doug may or may not react to that reaction. The confusion is, what is it that Doug does that causes the other dog to have a problem.  Of the five dogs where there has been a problem, there was only one dog where Doug did not like the other dog (a male) and Doug was the instigator.  The other four (all female), liked him and then suddenly did not like him. These were all meet and greets so it’s not like they had spent too much time together. And for the record, play Doug does not come out right away.  He saves that for later. None of the ladies had met play Doug yet, but maybe they could sense it was coming.

On Sunday we had a second play session with a dog. He and Doug did great.  We then decided to meet one of the new dogs that had just come off of quarantine.   She was a tiny thing at about 35 lbs (probably a few months older than Doug). She had not been spayed yet so we were not sure how Doug would respond to her. He pretty much ignored her. She was more interested in sniffing him and then they both just did their own thing.  Good, right?  It was so good, that we started talking about how good it was.

That is when she dove into Doug’s face.

I honestly don’t remember much about those 5-10 seconds. She lunged, Doug’s head tried to move back, there was a ball of confusion and then the volunteer lifted the dog off of the ground, and thus, off of Doug. That is when I saw all the blood.

I ripped my cast off and used the wrap part to apply pressure to his nose. I got a water bottle to clean it and to try to tell if there were multiple blood sources.  I kept my voice normal ‘you’ll be fine bud – it’s ok bud – let’s get you to the vet bud’.

I got him into the car and started driving. I saw him move to the back of the SUV and cower. I thought to myself, no. NO. I had to mend this moment. I pulled over, got treats out, got into the back with him and turned the situation around. There is no need to cower, just wiggle babe, moms got you. You are fine and that situation is over and hey, here are more treats.

He wiggled towards the front as I got us back on the road.

I was told quickly that the mouth and nose bleed a lot, and that made me feel instantly better. They cleaned him up and it looked way less dramatic. He was unable to walk on one leg but there was nothing structurally wrong with it, likely just a muscle pull. His nose would heal. His mouth would heal. We got an antibiotic and pain meds and headed out.

He was a little off the rest of the night but I’m not sure I’d expect otherwise. I got him tucked into a well padded bed that I knew he would bleed all over (he did) and he fell right to sleep.

I went in to wash his blood off of me. Then I cried.

I hope this doesn’t change him.

I hope he still wiggles with delight when we see other dogs.

I hope he continues to loosely walk on leash.

I hope his joy continues to multiply every day he exists.

Those were the concerns my tears spoke to me.

I don’t know if this was ‘bad enough’ to disrupt any of who Doug is. I know he felt pain, I know he was scared, but from a human perspective, I think he felt calmness and cared for so most of me thinks he will bounce back. We’ll test him out with some of his friends to be sure.

I the meantime, I will over think why girl dogs do not seem to love Doug. I’m sure he does something that they dislike, it’s just not an obvious something that I can help him work on. The other dog did not have a scratch on her, I’m so happy about that. Part of me feels like the dog search is on hold, part of me says this was more than nothing but it doesn’t have to be something.

All of the parts of me are swirling right now. We’ll get it worked out.

Until then, Doug is fine. He will heal.

Here he is all cleaned up.  He won’t let me lift up his jowls so no photos of those wounds. IMG_3696IMG_3706

Doug and other dogs.

I have not fully accepted that I have a dog that loves other dogs. No wait, I’ve accepted it, I just tend to forget. After years of having a leash-reactive-didn’t-enjoy-the-company-of-other-dogs-never-once-play-bowed dog (Melvin), and a hunter of ALL animals that were not Melvin (Jake), I still tend to go into oh no mode when we run into, are approached by or even set up playdates or meet & greets.

It’s been A LONG time, since I have had a dog that pulls towards other dogs in a good way.  In fact, I know the date, It was September 19, 2008. The day Max died. That is how long it has been.

Doug loves other dogs. Loves. He cannot get enough of them, even when they perhaps have had enough of him.

Sitting is boring. IMG_3615

I try to take Doug with me on the weekends whenever I can. 1. to dog friendly places so that he can mingle with creatures of his own kind and 2. to continue our training of don’t chew on human feet.  On the latter, we always ask for willing participants, we don’t just dive in!

We have met some great dogs on our travels, Doug has loved them all. We have met some dogs that were, despite their owners saying otherwise, not so well-behaved. Doug loved them all. We have had some dogs lunge and snarl and even attack Doug. You guessed it, after a brief WTF moment, Doug just starts to wiggle and wants to try again with them. He’s like a perpetually drunk, super fun, frat guy that you just can’t be mad at because he’s so flipping cray and now he’s leaping off the roof into the pool.

Laying down is boring. IMG_3595

Here is where Doug and I differ the most. He is an extrovert. I am not. Well, all the tests will tell you I’m 50/50 introvert/extrovert but Doug is 15,000,000% extrovert. Trust me, we don’t pull energy from the same social situations.

On our search for the next dog, we have a few things working for and against us.

Working for us:

  • Doug.
  • Doug.
  • Doug.
  • My willingness to meet and greet with any and all dogs.
  • Time. We are in no rush.

Working against us:

  • Doug’s unrelenting energy. He tends to bring out the worst in some dogs who otherwise would not play as hard as him as they are suddenly thrown into the ring of Doug doesn’t stop. Even when they beg for mercy, Doug still wants to play. We are still searching for the dog that will play, but then will stop and will communicate to Doug to leave them be and stop pouncing on me in a NO SERIOUSLY, STOP way.
  • My not wanting two Dougs. One is plenty.
  • Me realizing that the next dynamic duo in this house, won’t be Melvin and Jake. This one took a while for me to figure out. With each dog we meet, I am faced with knowing that the next two, no matter how much I want it or need it, won’t be like my little soulful, odd couple were. I accept this, the next duo should be who they are, wholeheartedly. But I’m human and I miss Melvin and Jake as a pair and well…it takes time.
  • Doug’s unrelenting energy, take two.

I like that we are meeting a lot of dogs and that Doug is getting to know his tribe.  When I brought Melvin home to Max, I didn’t have to really think about their lifetime together, Max’s time was short. When I brought Jake home to Melvin, I was brining Jake home to the dog that would love any dog that I did and a dog that would have the patience to tolerate Jake as he worked out all his demons. The dog we add now, well chances are good that Doug and that dog will have more than just a few years together. Chances are good they will have some growing pains as siblings and chances are, they will break some shit in their wake. I know this because no matter what dog I add, Doug will be a part of the duo. Doug brings the joy and the funk and some well deserved destruction to this life.

Starring out the window, looking for his next sibling…IMG_3565

 

 

Where did we go?

This past week has been buuuuussssssyyyyyyy! Here a quick recap to explain our absence:

  • I was still in vacation mode.
  • We got house guests, two-legged and four. The four legger did not love Doug.  I’m not even sure she moderately liked Doug.  So it was gating and rotating.
  • I got a three-day migraine. Fun!
  • I fractured my hand. Doug was not responsible. My clumsiness reigns supreme.
  • My new work schedule started.  I now go into the office three days a week.

That last one has been the biggest change for me and for Doug. Not so much for me that there is a change to where I work during the day, but for me in that I worry how it will impact Doug.

What is worrying?IMG_3552

Doug has energy. We know this. When I’m in the home office, he keeps himself busy on various floors and rooms of the house. He plays with toys, he runs zoomies, he chews pillows (I can hear you, Doug!). He goes out back and runs more zoomies. But unfortunately, when I leave, Doug has not earned run of the house yet. He is still gated in the mudroom.

  • I leave.
  • He eats his Kong.
  • He repositions on his indestructible bed that had I to buy because he is, well, a destructor.
  • After an hour or so he wakes up and wants to chew. He avoids the toys and chews I leave him and instead chews the bed (fixed that), the rug, the legs to the indestructible bed.
  • Nap.
  • Repeat chewing.
  • Nap.
  • You get it.

So I set him up to have a half hour walk mid-morning and another mid-afternoon. I leave new Kongs for those visits. I check in on him to be sure he is behaving. IMG_3544

I have tried leaving him on the first floor in the house. I take all the pillows up. He ignores his toys and goes right for the couch cushions. Or the shag rug. Or the acrylic dining chairs. Napping in between each one. Why, Doug, why?

I would never eat these pillows, they feel way too comfy on my parts. IMG_3540

So this is what I have been doing for the last week, worrying and strategizing on how to make this work transition, easier for my boy. I’ve also been missing Jakey this week.  Oh grief, this week, you win.

We will be back to our regular blogging schedule next week! We have some meet and greets to tell you about.

Happy weekend!

 

Flashback Friday: to that time when Jake had a hole in his eyeball.

How was this one year ago?


The eye emergency: Part 1

Posted on August 12, 2015

Saturday: Jake’s eye with the little ulcer had improved. Jake’s eye with the ‘very deep’ (seriously, they repeated the very deep part about 15 times) was not improving. We’d been doing eye drops for about four days and they expected to see improvement with both. So, they took Jake’s blood, and made eye drops out it. I 100% expected the drops to look like blood and that after I put the drops in Jake’s eyes, he would look like one of the vampires in True Blood when they cried. (In case you didn’t see True Blood, the vampires cried blood). Instead, the drops were a milky liquid derived from his blood. And in a test tube. Add this to the list of things I never expected when I became a dog mom.

Sunday: We woke up, I fed him and then got him up on the couch for his eye drops (this is also known as the time he thrashes around like I am performing an exorcism on him). After I put the drops in, I looked into both eyes (knowing full well I had no idea what I was looking at or knowing if I’m qualified to notice a change). The left eye seemed fine. His right eye, the one with the deep ulcer, had A HOLE IN IT. I looked around the room and thought, it must be a reflection of a light or something, THERE CANNOT BE A GAPING HOLE IN HIS EYE. But there it was, a perfectly round hole and I could see into it and it was deep. No one had mentioned a hole but I knew it wasn’t good (I’m that smart). We were at the ER 20 min later.

ER: The ER was packed but they put Jake in a room immediately and the dr came in pretty quick. When Melvin and Jake are your dogs, you know the ER vets by name. He looked at Jake’s eye and said ‘it’s bad’ and left the room to call the ophthalmologist for an emergency consult. When he left, he told me to hold Jake very still, that any sudden movement could rupture his eye. Uh…what? I’m not qualified. I held him and then as any parent would do, I replayed all the sudden movements he’d had since seeing the hole. I then had a silent conversation with my crazy self that I of course didn’t try to rupture his eye and that I didn’t know there shouldn’t be sudden movements and then I continued along the silent conversation route saying there was no way to not jar him a little when putting him in his car seat since his body is not flimsy, it’s more like a cinderblock. And then I had an out loud conversation with Jake about how I needed him to hold his eye together. Crazy person, room three. The doctor came back and said he’d consulted with two ophthalmologists and both agreed that Jake should be admitted, sedated and have emergency surgery the next day. I sorta knew this was coming since they day the ulcer formed. My dogs like to push the limits on how far they can take each health conundrum.

Sidenote: You all know the extent of vet visits I have had with both boys. There are very few things we have not faced and very few tests we have not had. We have been to the ER so many times, I lost count. There have been surgeries, MRIs, Spinal taps and issues that vets had never seen before. Melvin almost had to have a lung lobe removed for cripes sake! But never, ever, never (and I don’t know how this is possible) but never have I had to leave a dog overnight. So I started sobbing. SOBBING. Which turned into an ugly cry and mumbling about things that didn’t even make sense to me. (For example, we were currently in the room that I was with my friend Virginia in when we thought we’d have to put her beagle MollieAnne down and I had gone out to get her (the dog) fast food and the only fast food close by was Roy Rogers and the cheeseburger and fries I brought her that night brought her back to life. And in my crying fit during the present time visit part of my mumbling was that being in the Roy Rogers room would certainly have to work in our favor too and Melvin would be with Jake in his condo and maybe I could bring them both Roy Rogers). The doctor just looked at me and nodded, even when I said ‘ROY ROGERS ROOM’. And the thing is, I have complete faith in this hospital. The Life Center is one of the premiere vet speciality hospitals on the east coast. But mama was overwhelmed and the thought of abandoning leaving Jake seemed impossible. They told me my reaction was normal (sometimes it’s kind to lie) and they let me come back to the ICU with Jake while they got him settled in. He pee’d on the way into his new condo and that made me laugh. So I sat with him for a while and then when they were ready to sedate him, I left. It sucked. I called every 15 minutes regularly to check on him but since he had to remain calm, me visiting him was not a good option.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish the hospital and surgery story. And we have a Melvin’s Project Joy giveaway for August coming too!

Until then, here is a little check-list for sanity. It’s some preparedness tips for ‘a just in case’ ER visit with your pet:

  • Write out all your pet’s meds and take a picture of that list. When in the ER with your pet, you will not be able to recall the name of the meds they take nor will mg/dosage be within your brain’s reach. Even if the pill your dog takes is called ‘pill’, that word will escape you.
  • If you think for one minute that the emergency will require your pet to stay, bring their critical meds with you. I had to go back and get Jake’s meds and True blood eye drops and bring them back over.
  • Have an emergency plan for the car (a blanket in the garage you can throw down, easy access towels, a plan to secure your pet (this is just a good idea in general for regular travel). I learned this one the hard way when Melvin had is first (of several) bout(s) of bloody poop. I know, I know, the glamour.
  • Keep a leash in your car. You will forget it and unless you can carry your pet, you’ll need the leash.
  • When your pet has blood work done, have your vet send it to you via email or print it out for you. Bring that most recent blood work report with you. They almost always want to do blood work. In Jake’s case, he had just had a full panel done a few days prior and having that saved us a lot.
  • Ask the ER vet about payment plans. Regular vet care is expensive. ER vet care is crazy expensive (albeit worth it).

If you’ll recall, Jake had surgery the next day and the term ‘hamburger eye’ was introduced after that.  Here are  a few photos that came after this conundrum….

IMG_5318IMG_5273IMG_5201IMG_5362IMG_5398IMG_5422IMG_5205

Update on Jake.

At Jake’s Oncology appointment, the oncologist was deciding how our future visits should go. She suggested that we be seen every three weeks, but alternate between oncology and neurology. Every three weeks took me by surprise, to see either of them. I was extra confused about why we would go to see neurology (at all). They had pretty much said ‘good luck’ (in the best possible way), as there are no treatment options for Jake’s spinal condition. We do laser therapy and electroacupuncture to help his good parts, but from a neuro standpoint, their work is done. So I asked: ‘I was told there was nothing they can do, why would we see them’. Her reason for suggesting we switch off between oncology and neurology is that they (the medical team) might not know for sure what is the cancer spreading and what is his spine when in comes to decline. So I challenged: “his spinal condition is not painful, in fact it helps some with pain since he has limited feeling in some parts. But his cancer is known to be painful, often very painful. So won’t pain be an indication”. She said, it should be.

I then did what I often do when it comes to making hard decisions for the boys, I took the lead: ‘I’m not going to be looking to you or neurology for guidance on when it is the right time to let Jake go. I will know.’ I said it so matter-of-factly, it caused her pause. And then I think it caused (her) relief.

Our regular vet and I have a system. She tells me when we have done all we can medically, and I take that knowledge and add it to what I know. For me, once we have done all that we can, the question is no longer medical. The decision is based on the science of love and joy. From the day I took all three dogs in I made them a promise to do right with the power to make decisions for them. We do this daily for our dogs, but when it comes to this last decision, well nothing feels so insurmountable.

So pain will be an indicator.  Also, Jake’s cancer is at the bottom of his spine and extends down his left hind leg.  So deterioration in that leg only will be a sign.  Also, since it’s a soft tissue cancer, it may invade his bladder or colon so if he stops being able to go potty, that will be a sign.

No one wants to think about these things but for us, in order to not dwell on it 24/7, we have to outline the medical parameters so we can get on with the joyful task of living. It’s definitely a challenge to not mourn them while they are still alive, but with Jake, I’m trying to save all that for later (or at least until the middle of the night once he’s asleep).

The only thing we dwell on right now is how much peanut butter we have left.

Woman, put peanut butter in my belly right now! IMG_8221

Super Jake.

Jake started radiation.  As quickly as he starts it, it will be over.  He only has to do three days.  To be honest, I’m much more concerned (at this point) about him being under anesthesia three days in a row.  I can worry about the side effects of radiation after that. The Oncology Service knows what they are doing. I dropped him off and his dedicated tech came out to get him.  When I picked him up, he was carried out to the car with his belongings.  It’s an awesome practice and I have complete faith in them. Since Jake has MRSP, he’s in a more secluded area which all know works out just fine.  No wonky lunging at other cancer patients!

IMG_7856

Jake is having a relatively new form of radiation available to pets called, Stereotactic radiation (SRT).  This radiation benefits Jake (personally) in two ways.  1. The protocoled radiation treatment for Jake’s cancer is 20 days of consecutive radiation (and anesthesia). That much anesthesia felt worrisome to me (and his medical team) since he is smooshy faced and has breathing issues. He is getting almost the same amount of radiation benefit in just 3 days.  2. Fewer side effects (hopefully).  If you are at all interested, here is a blurb about it (copy credit to The Veterinary Cancer Center). If you are not interested (we forgive you!) you can skip down.

Stereotactic radiation (SRT) and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) are becoming more readily available for animals. In the past, traditional radiation therapy to treat cancer in pets would usually result in significant side effects and many owners would decide not to pursue treatment because of this. IMRT and SRT are changing the way that we are able to treat cancer in pets, and they have great potential to improve both your pet’s quality and quantity of life.

What is Stereotactic Radiation or Stereotactic Radiosurgery? 
Stereotactic radiation, also known as stereotactic radiosurgery, involves delivering a small number of large radiation doses to the tumor, in the hope of causing maximal tumor damage while limiting the dose to the normal tissues. Usually this is done in 1 to 3 treatments over a short period of time. With stereotactic radiation, a large number of beams are directed at your pet from all different angles and the shape of the radiation beam is changed, during treatment, to deliver radiation where it is needed most.
What tumors can be treated with SRT? 
SRT can be used to treat a variety of tumors, including brain tumors, pituitary tumors, nasal tumors and other tumors involving the head and neck. It also can be used to treat tumors of the spine and some parts of the abdomen or chest. It can be used for pets when daily visits and anesthesia may be too dangerous.
Prior to radiation, I had our consult with the nutritionist (who I LOVE).  The plan is that I will keep Jake on his raw diet as long as he does not exhibit any digestive issues.  If he has a hard time during radiation, I will give him a bland diet (cooked lean turkey or beef and white potatoes), then go back to raw.  If he develops any ongoing digestive upset, we will change his diet to a cooked/balanced diet that the nutritionist will outline for us. You know I love a good plan!
For now, Jake is doing great. One day down, day two in progress!
Here is Super Jake after day one, keeping watch over his kingdom.
IMG_7859