Monday, January 30, 2012

Arwen has Arthritis

Arwen's particular type of arthritis is more specifically known as spondylosis - osteoarthritis of the spine that causes bony spurs to grow on the ventral side of the vertebrae.  These kinds of bone spurs result from trauma, or from a familial predisposition.  Since Arwen hasn't had any trauma, she must have had this lovely characteristic passed down to her from her family.  We knew she was starting to have some discomfort from seeing a prior xray, but this most recent visit to the vet for pain symptoms, showed us how very bad the condition was becoming.  Here are her x-rays:

See where the arrows are?  Those are the bone spurs - ugh!

The arrows up show those nasty bone spurs.  The arrow down shows how much poo the poor girl wasn't able to pass because those spurs were pinching her nerves!

The bone spurs were pinching the nerves that tell Arwen that it's time to poo.  My poor girl was painful from her spine AND uncomfortable because she couldn't pass a bowl movement.  She was grumbly, panting and couldn't get comfortable.  Now I understood why. We started her on a canine NSAID, Metacam, and she was back to normal in a couple of days.  

To get her off of prescription meds, I've been advised by her vet to stay on fish oil at high doses, and start tart cherry juice supplements.  We've also started Dasuquin, a powerful joint supplement. I just started her on the tart cherry supplements.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I'm also considering acupuncture.  

Arwen is still playing, jumping and walking as well as she always has, but there are subtle changes.  She sleeps on her back mostly and while playing, she's pretty guarded with the other 2 jumping around her.  She rarely sleeps through the night on her bed, which is something she's always done.  Now she's changing positions more and often leaves her bed for the flat floor in her crate.   Lest you think she's become weak and frail, she still runs the Pack with an iron paw.  Discipline and leadership can't take medical leave!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

No More Pine Sol

"If only I had thumbs I could open this infernal bathroom door!"

When Fenway comes home from daycare, he smells like Pine Sol.  He doesn't have a secret cleaning habit, or a penchant for wearing cleaning goods cologne; he just can't help it.  The kennels are cleaned with Pine Sol just as we close for the night.  As I'm one of the last ones out the door, he ends up smelling pine-y fresh for a day or two after "going to school to play with the other kids", as I call it.  

Sunday was a warm day here in Texas, so I decided Fenway needed a bath.  I was reminded of the bath we gave him when we first brought him home and had to wash the gum and grime out of his fur.  He wasn't impressed with his bath then, and his opinion of them hasn't changed one iota.  

We scrubbed him up in lovely oatmeal shampoo which caused T to worry that the girls might have a sudden and uncontrollable craving for breakfast...

Here's our handsome boy warming in the sunbeams post bath:

Our Happy Sundog!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nyxie's "It"

"You're going to WHAT?!"

"You're going to stab Nyxie in the chest?!"

This was what Matt asked me on Friday when I told him I needed a cytology of the growth on her chest.  I originally blogged about "It" in "Nyxie's Great Adventure".  She's had "It" on the deepest part of her sternum since she was just past puppyhood.  "It" has grown over time and has elongated, looking a bit like a large, flat, dog nipple.  Kinda gross, really.  So at her yearly visit, I asked if we should remove "It".  This was when we discovered her heart murmur that I obsessively worked up to reveal that she has...well, a heart murmur.  (Sometimes seeing heart disease in everyone else's dogs everyday, prepares me to expect the worst.  Which is exactly what I did.  Me worry?  Simply unheard of!) 

Having passed the initial heart concerns, I was finally able to focus back on this growth, bump, thing, on her chest.  
~~Let me first go on record to say that any growth, bump, thing, should be examined as soon as possible by a vet.  The sooner something is caught, the safer the resolution of that something~~ 
So I took everything I needed home with me to do a proper cytology of "It" and asked Matt for my help.  And now you're all caught up:

"I'm only poking "It" with a needle for some cells, not stabbing her!  When you put it like that, it sounds awful!" 

So he fed her treats and I indeed stabbed "It" with a needle, gathered some cells on a microscope slide and saved my sample for the next day.  Nyxie never even flinched!  I waited until Saturday so if there was something ugly on that slide, I'd have a day off to digest the news.  The doctor set it on the microscope and searched for an eternity a few minutes.  

"Nothing unusual - nothing that would cause concern."  

So Nyxie's "It" is a callous.  I feel a bit silly, but so very relieved.  She got a few extra cookies this weekend, just because.   And the "It" will remain with us, now free of suspicion and stabbing. 

My pretty girl

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Dog is Happy!

Being the dog nut that I am, I'm compelled to search the web for all things dog.  Passion, obsession - don't judge!  I found this video through Dogwork - a fun, feel-good website for all of us animal lovers.  Please turn up the volume on this video for the complete experience.

If you don't laugh at this, you might be clinically depressed.  If you don't smile at this, you're probably dead.  Have a wonderful day smiling, laughing and LIVING!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Patience and the Passage of Time

You can almost see the ones on her chin here...
I just discovered some white hairs on Nyxie - a couple on her shiny, black head and a faint little row of them on her chin!  When did this happen?  When did Nyxie go from obnoxious, crazy puppy to a still crazy, white-haired senior?  She's lost no vigor, no strength, non of her wild-child, cracker dog ways.  But white hairs?  No way.

There's no better reminder of the passing of time than the aging of a beloved dog.  I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.  How time flies!  They're so faint, I'm quite sure a picture wouldn't register them.

I took this picture a few weeks ago at the park after she saw the vet and was a bit sedated still.  Behind the park is a Doppler radar tower.  I imagine this as either Nyxie's dream come true, or a torturous tease - an enormous ball waiting to be caught!

"Why can't I catch it, Mom?"

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Perfect Poo Spot

Arwen is as particular at shopping around for the Perfect Poo Spot as a bargain hunter with her last ten dollar bill.  This dog can truly take a 45 minute morning walk and finally select the Perfect Poo Spot when she's almost home.  I've stood in torrential rain, sleet, nor'easter snowstorms, thunderstorms (last night), and blazing 110 degree heat, tethered to a dog with sphincter control so strict, it would startle Sigmund Freud.  (Sorry to nerd out here, but I couldn't resist a bit of Psychology humor - can't let a 100K dollar education go to waste).  I kid you not, folks - the dog is made of tough stuff.  Tough, picky, hard-headed stuff.

Matt discovered a little trick recently to accelerate the Perfect Poo Spot selection process on days with miserable weather.  If breakfast is prepared in front of her before she's walked, she finds that Perfect Poo Spot in seconds.  The food is put on her plate (yes, she eats off of a lovely blue and white plate - spoiled?  No way!) - complete with fish oil, medication for urinary incontinence, salmon, chicken and a small amount of kibble - and then we do the truly unthinkable.  We leave!

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" she must wonder.
Poor Arwen.  She's mistreated and put upon.  Her life is one big frustration after another.

Somehow on these mornings, we are back inside, all the outside business competed within about 6 minutes.  Quite impressive, really.


"I am weak from hunger!  Carry me to the Royal Plate!"

"Going outside?!  But my food is ready?!"

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Have you ever heard of EzyDog?

The company prides itself on making rugged and attractive gear for active dogs.  They were the originators of the shock-absorbing leash.  If you haven't heard of the company, you'll be glad you read this!

I recently received an email from a very polite, likable product rep from EzyDog, named Brady, who asked if we'd use some of his products and then review them here on Arwen's Pack.  I wondered if I was really qualified to make recommendations on dog gear.  I thought about this for a while and then realized that I'm the "every-dog-owner".  Like any of us that have at least one dog, and like many of us that have a few.  We all need good gear and have to save our monies for food and vet bills!

Easy to put on!

Brady sent me a lovely blue Chest Plate Harness in Fenway's size, with a car restraint attachment to allow the harness to double as a seat belt!  The harness is made with a foam rubber pad that molds to the pup and allows for better weight distribution.  Putting it on Fenway was easy - this harness actually makes sense.  Chest support and clasps were placed where they seem logical.  (As a vet nurse, I see a ton of patients wearing harnesses and some require a doctorate in engineering a bit of voodoo to put on or take off.)  The fit was solid - he was comfortable when I first put it on him, and immediately started leaping onto Arwen for a round of "bitey face".

Here is the back of the harness with the seatbelt attachment clipped on.

We also received a Cujo leash (great name!) and 2 Standard Extensions couplers for walking 2 dogs.  The leash has a fantastic rubber padded handle that feels just right to hold.  A far better feel than most leashes.  The Cujo leash is designed to shock absorb the impact of even the strongest pullers (I wouldn't know anything about that - hehe).  Great design, sturdy construction.  One surprise was that the leash is made of a plastic / synthetic material, not a synthetic fabric which we're mostly used to in dog gear.  But this outer construction accounts for the shock absorbency hiding within the leash - brilliant!

How do I look?

Here's a profile shot...

All in all, the only criticism I could find, is that these products are made in China, rather than the US.  I know I'd pay more for a great product like this if it were made here in this country by American labor.  Aside from this, everything from the communication to set all this up by Brady at EzyDog, the speed at which the goodies arrived, and the gear itself was spot on.  If you're looking for durable, rugged dog gear that looks good and feels right for the walker, check out EzyDog.  You might just end up being a convert from traditional leashes and harnesses!

So as the EzyDog website says: "Now go and Play!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Look Forward

With each new year that blazes in, I inevitably look back at the past year and try to settle my personal scorecard. 

Did I make positive changes?  
Did I grow as a person?  
Was I a good parent more often than a bad parent?  
Was I a stronger person than the year before?  
Did I learn new skills and evolve professionally?  
Did I come closer to becoming the daughter my late father would be proud of?

I suppose there's no denying that in even asking these questions, I'm still striving for better.  I don't want to be envious of those that have more than me.  I don't want to feel jealous or spiteful or negative.  I don't want my pride to overshadow the good that I do.  Sometimes it's painful to look around at all those things you think you need and want.  And worse still to feel there's so much left unaccomplished and stymied in seeing that potential through.  

It's these moments that I look down and realize that only inches from my typing hands, lies the velvety soft muzzle of a sleeping puppy.  The black nose is pressing tightly to my leg, and I hear the soft inhale and exhale of each life-sustaining breath.  I remember that this is a good moment.  One that will never repeat itself.

It's in these moments that I know:

I made positive changes.
I grew both cognitively and emotionally as a person.
I was a parent that acted out of love, the root of which is goodness.
I found both physical and emotional strength deep within myself that allowed me to pick myself up.
I strove to do my best possible job, to care when others were indifferent, and prevail over injustice.
I thought often of my father and what he would want for me and from me as a woman of worth.

It's in these moments that I realize the past year is just a marker of time.  Each day signifies the start of a new year, and each year is what you make of it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Our Wish for You!

I hope this year brings only love and peace.  I wish only happiness for you this year, and the sincere hope that your packs are strong and healthy.  

Happy New Year, friends!

Arwen's Pack