Shocking Discovery

My heart is still pounding as I write this post.

Sadie is doing so well.  This is not a post on her.  More adorable pictures & stories tomorrow.

This is about Daisy’s breeder.

I was throwing out all of Daisy’s medical records and filing Sadie’s current records.  Marcus says I have “hoarding” tendencies… I hate when he says that… it makes me throw stuff out!  🙂

Instead of just throwing out Daisy’s papers, I decided to read them… don’t know why.

The last sheet was the purchase agreement from her breeder.  I had forgotten their name over the years.  It’s a result of live, learn and move on.  I was tempted to Google their name to see if they were still selling puppies.  I’m not sure what my next plans were if I located them… I hadn’t thought that far.

What I discovered makes me want to cry.

I remember the husband telling us that he was ready to leave Michigan because the local authorities were “harassing” them about the dogs they had on their property.  He was talking about moving south.  At the time I hadn’t thought much of it.  They had a number of dogs, but not puppy mill crazy.  Of course, we later learned they were not breeding for the right reasons.

I was shocked to learn they moved to Missouri!  And then this article blew me away.

http://network.bestfriends.org/10197/news.aspx

Yes, that was the breeder we used to buy Daisy.  I double checked.  It’s him.  We had no idea.  Clearly they had bigger plans and Michigan would not allow them to turn into a puppy mill. Unfortunately, Missouri used to have very liberal laws regarding puppy mills.

I am happy to report that Missouri just passed a proposition to end puppy mills in 2010.

and the English Springer Spaniel Rescue Organization stepped in and helped save all 100 Springers.

http://www.tailsinc.com/2010/11/puppy-mill-cruelty-prevention-act-passes/

http://www.springerrescue.org/sponsor/specialneeds/MO.html

I take comfort in knowing they are not breeding any longer.

I’m going to go play with my puppy and appreciate her health and happiness.

{My soap box: Find a responsible breeder – know what to look for and what to ask}

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When Life Gives You Lemons

Ask for Salt & Tequila!

Just wanted to give you a small snicker at work.  🙂

The lemon joke actually has to do with how we keep Daisy’s memory alive.

Daisy 2004 - 2010

A Meyer Lemon Tree.  Marcus had the idea to get a potted tree / plant to remember Daisy.  We move around a lot, so we knew the plant would have to be mobile.  I did some research and selected the Improved Meyer Lemon tree because it is a good house plant that has fragrant blossoms all winter and produces tasty lemons.  I wanted something more than a boring green plant.   I chose a screaming yellow pot to put the tree in because it makes me smile.  It is bright and cheerful and totally reminds me of Daisy.  The Meyer Lemon tree was a great choice!   The blooms throw off the most wonderful fragrance!  I recommend the tree for anyone interested in blooming plants or growing citrus.   And I have big plans for those lemons!

We have 6+ lemons growing! And fresh blossoms, too!

100 Things to do with Meyer Lemons

http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-meyerlemons16jan16,0,6158499,full.story

Oh, the yummy recipes!

Do you have a fork?

This is where I’m starting with my first lemons.  Martha Stewart’s sweet-tart delights!  I LOVE Lemon Meringue Pie!!

http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/lemon-desserts

And this website has a ton of collected Meyer Lemon recipes.

http://www.buffchickpea.com/2009/01/seasonal-eating-meyer-lemons.html

We remember Daisy each time we get a whiff of a blossom and I know we will think fondly of her each time we use a lemon.

Heart Failure!?!

We loved her so much!

In the fall of 2009 we noticed that Daisy was coughing and breathing heavy in the evening.  I monitored her for a few days, thinking it was due to a lot of activity, but it didn’t go away.  I was confident that she didn’t have kennel cough because we vaccinated her for everything and she wasn’t around any new dogs.  Not kennel cough, but something was wrong.  I made an appointment for her to get a check-up with her vet.

I went in thinking “this will cost us $150 bucks and I’ll leave with a medicine to fix her right up”.  Daisy loved her vet and she was no different that day.  She was so excited to see all the staff.  Her excitement actually helped.  She started coughing and you could see her heavy breathing.  The doctor listened to her heart and lungs and took some blood.  She told me right away it was not kennel cough.  Yep, that’s what I was thinking.  But, she was worried.  WHAT?  Worried about what?  Just give me an overpriced drug and I’ll be on my way.  Ah, no.

The vet referred us to a specialist.  A Vet Cardiologist.  “Something is wrong with her heart.  You need to take her in as soon as possible.  I’ll call the cardiologist and help you get in next week.”  Stunned, I took the phone number and left.

Ok, time to re-group.  Daisy will be fine.  This will just cost us a little more.  No worries, it’s only money… and everyone knows the running joke: when a vet sees me, they think “cha-ching!”  🙂  I went in with a positive attitude and my credit card.

They took Daisy in the back and performed an ultrasound on her heart.  The cardiologist came back with Daisy.  He was a very kind, soft-spoken man.  Old enough to look like he’s been doing this for a while and young enough to trust he is updated on all the newest research and techniques.  I instantly trusted him – a very good thing.

The doctor began explaining what he found with the ultrasound and what her blood test results indicated.  I need to remind you that I am educated heavily in science… how the hearts works was a topic I taught to my former 7th graders.  At the time, I was working in a medical school, having daily conversations about how the body works.  But, right then, as he was talking to me, I couldn’t process a thing.  It was like he was speaking in a different language.  To be honest, most of that day is a blur.

But, I vividly remember asking him how long she had left to live.  I was thinking he just said a bunch of mumbo-jumbo… get to the point… she’s 5 years old, what do we have left?  5 years?

He had this look on his face.  I can see it clear as day.  He was sad and did not want to answer my question.  He said, in the most quiet and kind voice, “6 months“.

WHAT?  6 months!?!  Yes, 6 months, she is in heart failure.  He told me there were medications to make her breathing easier and to make her last days comfortable.  I asked about surgery, can we fix it?  No.  He explained that she would need 2 valves repaired, at $13,000 each and that half of the patients die on the table.  He said he could not perform the surgery on her, in good conscience.  And for a split second I thought, I’ll pay you $26,000 – just save her!  But, then I truly understood what he was saying to me.  There was nothing we could have done to prevent this, nothing to do to cure it, all we could do was love her and enjoy her while we still had her with us.

I left with a list of drugs to get at the pharmacy and a strict no exercise or excitement rule for Daisy.

I remember sitting in my car, in the parking lot, crying.  I remember calling Marcus.  I know I was not making much sense, too much crying.  Lots of crying.  And then there was Daisy, popping over the seat to give me a wet kiss and to see what was wrong.

Right up to the very end she was kissing and loving us!

Living with a special needs pooch

Can I have some?

I knew something was wrong after watching a TV show about ‘signs’ of illness in your dog.

The sign was too much/too little water consumption.  The TV personality gave some figures about your dog’s weight, activity levels, outdoor temperatures and quantity of water consumed.  That stopped me in my tracks.  Daisy was drinking 10 times the quantity she was “supposed” to consume.  I called her vet and made an appointment for the next day.  I tracked Daisy’s water consumption for the rest of that day.  I also had the pleasure to collecting a urine sample the next morning.

Tip:  Get a disposable metal or plastic pie dish.  Once your puppy starts to pee, slide the dish under her and collect the sample.  Help her move forward, away from the dish, when she finishes.  Pour the pee into the collection container (while you are still outside) and throw the dish away.    🙂

Here is a link containing some helpful information about how much water a pooch needs.

http://www.dogster.com/dog-food/how-much-water-should-a-dog-drink

The vet tested Daisy’s urine and said the specific gravity levels indicated kidney problems.  The vet did an ultrasound on Daisy and verified congenital kidney disease.  (The vet also noted that her heart looked slightly enlarged, but nothing to be concerned with.  I completely forgot about this statement until November, 2009.)  The vet explained that Daisy was excessively drinking water to flush out the toxins from her body.  She was doing what her kidneys could not.    The vet felt Daisy would live a long, health life.  Daisy’s blood tests were all normal.  We believed she would continue to be a health dog.

We were told to give her all the water she wanted, to provide frequent potty breaks and to keep her on a lower protein diet.  NO table scraps!

I love fruits & veggies!

The only “down-side” to her condition was, while she slept, she sometimes would not be able to control her bladder.  She would often pee in her sleep.  Annoying, but something she could not control.

I got tired of washing her bedding every morning.  Daisy’s tail was docked, so I decided to try extra large diapers on her at night.  It works for kids, why not dogs?!

It worked great!  Over the years, Daisy’s bladder got better.  She would go days with a dry diaper and I started to feel bad about all the diapers I was adding to the landfill.  Since it was only pee, I decided to try cloth diapers.  Loved them!  I had 2 so one could be in the hamper while she had one available for that night.

While we were at work, Daisy was kept in a small area in our basement.  It was large enough for her crate, a small play area with her extra large water dish and her dog litter box.  That’s right, I said litter box.  We trained her on the box when she was a puppy and it was the best thing we did!  It had recycled newspaper pellets instead of traditional cat litter (safer for puppies).  She used it throughout the day and I’d clean it when I got home from work.  Great peace of mind!

Eventually she had access to the entire house while we were gone and she would always go to the basement to use her box.  We even traveled with it on vacations!

Here are the items we used to make our life easier and Daisy’s life comfortable & normal.

http://astore.amazon.com/taiwag00-20

Daisy went on to live 6 wonderful, happy, mostly healthy years!!

Loving life!

Then the other shoe dropped.

Live & Learn

Daisy's first day home

We brought Daisy home on a Saturday.  She was a tiny 2 1/2 pounds and only 6 weeks old.  For those of you who know about bringing home a puppy – you are surprised.  Only 6 weeks old!?!  Yes.  I cringe when I say it, but it is the truth.

Marcus and I did our best to educate ourselves on choosing the best breed for our lifestyle, buying the right toys, crate and dog food.  Somehow, we missed the literature on choosing a reputable breeder.  Big ops.

We knew to stay away from pet stores and puppy mills, but we did not know about the differences between breeders.

In the end, we unknowingly went with a “backyard” breeder that was more interested in profits than the dogs.  Puppies should not leave their mothers until they are at least 8 weeks old.  Daisy was one of 13 puppies and I think the breeder was looking to get rid of the puppies as quickly as possible.  She bred multiple dogs and a few different breeds.  She had a revolving door of puppies.  I now know, all bad signs.

We learned a few weeks after we brought Daisy home that one of her siblings had neurological issues.  The family that had that puppy contacted us, and told us to be cautious about the health of Daisy, based on what their vet had told them.  Daisy seemed fine and we loved her.  I wasn’t worried.

Life was normal for a while. Well, as normal as life with a young puppy can be!  🙂

My first bath.

Her first stuffed animal was the same size she was.

Watch out world, here I come!

I may be little, but I'm tough!

Live and learn.  Daisy was a wonderful dog and we loved her deeply!  But, moving forward, I was MUCH more selective in a breeder for our next puppy.

I found these helpful resources while searching for a breeder for our new puppy.

http://www.essfta.org/

http://www.essfta.org/Spaniel%20Manual/spanmanl05.htm