My Little Monster

As you all know, Sadie is a full bred English Springer Spaniel with an excellent pedigree.  She has all of the best traits of a springer spaniel and (fingers crossed) none of the obvious genetic problems.  But, she is still a puppy from the sporting group.  She requires exercise – daily exercise.  I’m not sure if you have ever noticed the little symbols in dog breed books that denote exercise requirements, but Sadie’s breed falls under High.  It wasn’t until this week-long rest (for her spay recovery) that I truly realized what High means.  Under normal conditions, Sadie and I spend a lot of time outside.  She is generally a very well-behaved puppy and quite happy.  This “rest week”, I saw a different Sadie… my little monster.  🙂

I’ve never understood why someone would give a dog to a shelter.  How can you say you can’t handle a dog?  Now, I know.  I would never give Sadie away!  But, I can see how, if you do not give your pet enough attention and exercise, they become unmanageable.  Sadie was feeling better as the “rest week” went on, but she wasn’t allowed to run, jump and play because of her stitches.  And, she did not like that!  Twice (when she wasn’t on her leash – Mom’s fault) she took off running around the yard and opened up her incision.   I knew she had to rest, but she wasn’t tired.

Sitting in the shade only worked for the initial days home from surgery.

So, I tried mental stimulation.  More long-lasting cheese chews.

They helped… but only for part of the day.  Sadie was a lot more nippy, barky and she even tried to be a little destructive!  She has never chewed anything that wasn’t a toy before, but suddenly she was trying to chew things that were not toys.  She was a little bored and wanted to exercise.  But, I knew rest was important, so I managed her the best I could and waited her out.  We had a few long days.  🙂

But, eventually the week was up and I celebrated with a nice neighborhood walk.  Sadie loved it!  Later that day, we went out for a short frisbee session.  I wanted to ease back into exercise.

She really opened it up in the yard.  Tearing around the corners with the wind blowing back her ears!  Heaven.

And, with the return of exercise,we have seen the very well-behaved Sadie return, too.  It really showed me how humans cause all the dog problems, one way or another.  Give a dog her basic needs and she’ll be a joy to live with.

Spirited and Spunky

Day 2 was full of play sessions, little bits of behavior training and lots of naps.

We are practicing potty outside, coming to her name and chewing on toys, not hands.

Sadie is teething and her toys are really helping her release energy and fulfill the need to chew.

Sadie loves to run with a toy in her mouth.  She is really attracted to sticks and leaves when we are outside.  I am constantly taking sticks out of her mouth and giving her a chew toy instead.  I don’t want her to get a splinter or weird obstruction due to eating sticks.

I was losing the battle of the stick “game”, so I decided it was time to clean up the yard.  We had a lot of little sticks and seeds fall during the ice storms this winter.  While Sadie was taking a nap, I went outside a raked up all the tree seeds (kinda like acorns) and picked up all the branches.

Our afternoon play sessions were much easier.

This toy is a water kong.  We would toss it and Sadie would run after it and drag it around the yard.

During another nap, I made a trip to Pet Smart to buy an ID tag for Sadie.

I picked one with her name on one side and our contact information on the other.  Years ago, I read an article about increasing your chances of a lost dog being returned.  It recommended adding this one word on your pet ID tag – REWARD.  It turns out that a stranger is more likely to call you if they see this incentive.  Luckily, we never tested the theory with Daisy and I don’t plan to test it with Sadie, but I’d pay a reward in a heart beat for a safe return, so I added it below our phone number.  Sadie also has a micro-chip.  It is a great back-up if a dog gets lost and loses their ID tags, too.

Bed time was much better.  A little whining, but I put my fingers into her crate and she snuggled up next to them and feel asleep.  4 solid hours then a potty break.  She woke up with some energy and didn’t want to sleep.  I put her back in and heard her chewing on her rubber bone… she was a little restless for a while.  We did have severe storms roll through during the night.  The good news – the thunder and lightning did not bother Sadie at all.  The bad news…

A new batch of branches and seeds fell during the storm.  Sadie was so excited this morning!  🙂

Need a pick-me-up?

How about in the form of a pictorial puppy update!

The breeder sent me these on Saturday.  She said they are all doing very well!

This is “Tinsel”, our lady!

Thanks for the suggestions on a name for her.  We have not yet made a decision, but I’ll let you know as soon as we do.

“Tinsel” is the name the breeder has given her.  I don’t think it’ll last.

Adorable, right!?!

Too cute!  I hope you’re smiling.  I know Marcus & I were when we saw them.  🙂

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.

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.

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.