October 29, 2014

White Dog was a little jealous of all the attention her youngest recruit was getting. "When I was her age, I didn't just bring in sticks to chew, but I knew to break them in half and trade the pieces for treats. What's the big deal?"
Even as a babe, Zsofia was a master stick player; now she give the rest of the WDA lessons!
I explained that first of all, we have not had such puppy enthusiasm flooding the house in nearly ten years, when White Dog was a puppy; WD's tastes have matured. Second, I asked her to step back and take a broader perspective...her brothers and sisters mostly likely never had the chance to indulge in the sheer puppy joy of gnawing on a freshly caught stick. Those who did, I reminded, probably were eating sticks for nourishment before they were rescued from their personal horror stories. Third, I gently shared that the WDA was getting bored with being calm and nurturing nurses to Puff...not that they did not care about her, but that tending to the sick and being respectful of her need for quiet is quite demanding. A break was needed/

Stick chewing has become, thanks to Zsofia's tutelage, the new WDA past time. Following her lead, YoYoMa, Bela, and Sachi have all joined the trend of bringing in sticks from the yard and chewing them to shreds in the house. It helps to pass the time without disturbing their recovering sister, Puff.

Innovative pack that they are, more chewers has allowed for an added twists to just chewing...stealing each other's sticks and finishing them, for example. The most recent finessing of the game is to steal your siblings chew stick and return it to the yard with the challenge for him or her to go find it where it was dumped. The angst of losing a nearly gnawed to perfect specimen is palatable but has so far been taken in good spirits by all of the players.

Meanwhile, Puff continues on the slow road of recovery. Today she is eating voraciously and drinking much more than she has been. When taken outside, our Little Old Lady is walking around a bit and has even attempted the ramp to the house. Great signs of improvement each of these are. But she is still pretty weak and voluntarily chooses to spend most of the morning in oxygen instead of her typical 90 minutes. The cough seems to indicate things are starting to breakup and her nasal wheezing has been replaced by her huffing out gunk.

We thank you all for your kind thoughts and healing energies; your added strength fills her with wellness. We hope in a very short time, Puff The Magical will be participating in the Stick Chew Games.


October 28, 2014

White Dog said, "The problem is that Zsofia is just so darned BIG that you kind of forget she is still only a four-month old baby. It must be really hard for her to stay quiet around Puff and to remember not to get crazy."

We try not to think about how big Zsofia will be full grown when she pounces across the room in a single bound or leaps into Steve's lap or accidentally steps on a sibling's foot. It is hard not to think her a bully as we correct her overenthusiastic discovery that she can actually drag poor Sachi and Jupiter by their tails. So it must be truly difficult for our bundle of energy to remember that right now she is in a hospital zone.

Today she decided that Michael's empty can of of black beans from the recycle bin (which he had forgotten to wash out) was a delicious smelling treasure. She snagged it and headed for the dog door.

It was then she found out the can had magical powers...it caused Candace to come out and play chase for nearly half an hour all over the yard! With lots of shouting and woo'ing to boot! And then the entire White Dog Army came out to participate or watch the fun. This was great. Heck no, Zsofia was NOT about to give up this magic maker!

Finally, faced with the tough choice of an empty can that smelled like BEANS or a strip of DUCK JERKY, Zso made a very mature trade...and enjoyed the magic of treat envy as the entire WDA jealously watched her strut and chew.
forgive the blur of action as Zsofia protects her treasure
No! You cannot have my magic can!
I am over here! come and get it!
Wait! That's not fair! Are you holding jerky?

Puff update: Puff is eating on her own, still baby food and rice but of her own accord. Spoke with Dr. Julia who increased her prednisone dosing temporarily, approved what we had been doing, and added a second antibiotic as well as tramadol to the mix.

By dinner Puff was famished, barely coughing and allowed Steve to clean out her nostrils with warm salt water (that helped tremendously with her nasal wheezing). She is moving around a bit more but we are purposely encouraging rest. I believe we are on the road to recovery. Woohoo. The WDA seems to sense it as well and are more hopeful and "normal" as they approach her.

October 27, 2014

White Dog and I noticed a difference. Puff was interested in things again...her surroundings...the smell of turkey...walking a bit when Steve carried her outside. "Maybe we are at a turning point," White Dog hoped out loud.

There does seem to be much less hacking and wracked coughing but our Little Old Lady is still sounding congested and wheezy. She tasted a few bites on her own but is still relying on help and baby food for nourishment. She IS drinking on her own...and for that we are grateful. She is just so very tired, even with the help of the oxygen kennel. But her eyes are clear and much less resigned.

Things are looking up.


October 26, 2014

White Dog WANTED to, she really did, but in just an instant she turned away from the door and Steve's invitation to go for a ride and went to check on Puff. Steve looked guilty for needing to go to the grocery when Candace walked in and offered to run for the baby food...and to pick Michael up from volunteering at the cat rescue.

The rest of the White Dog Army is recovering as expected from the upper respiratory infection that is going around. There are still runny noses and sporadic coughs, but poor Puff has been hit pretty hard. Thank goodness we started her on medication right away but still she has no appetite and is lethargic. The coughing fits are frightening to hear.

That was the purpose of the grocery errand, to purchase turkey and sweet potato baby food which we could mix into slurry and help our weak little girl get some nourishment. We are subsidizing the small amount of water she is drinking by also syringing liquid; she is managing to keep hydrated.

Mostly, she just wants to sleep.

It is at times like these when the amazing bond that ties the White Dog Army together is clear. It is no random act when Zsofia carefully lies down near Puff's face and softly woos for her to wake up and smile. White Dog consciously decided to pass up the treat of a car ride to stay at her sibling's side. YoYoMa may well as being wearing a watch with the regularity of his trips to his sister's side to touch her nose and sniff her ear. Taiko gently watches over Another White Dog as she sleeps; so intently that Steve had to put his arm around our boy and let him know it was not necessary to stand guard over her...he COULD sit and rest. Sachi keeps rolling his favorite blue egg ball toward Puff asking her to bat it back; when she doesn't he sighs and sinks to his belly staring at her.

Anyone who says that dogs have no emotions and do not understand "higher order" thinking like compassion have obviously never had the opportunity to witness the interaction of pups in a family. In fact, I believe, we humans could learn much from the tenderness and care I regularly see from the White Ones.


October 25, 2014

White Dog shuddered at the sound and said, "Thank goodness Dr. Julia was on top of things, at least you are already prepared." She, and the rest of the nervous White Dog Army, was responding to the wracking cough that Puff had developed seemingly overnight.

We started her on the antibiotic Dr. Julia sent home right away yesterday but were not ahead of the onset of the awful lung-y cough that tortures poor Puff when she is struck with respiratory illness. Our sweet old lady just coughs until she shakes and wheezes with exhaustion. It is a full body workout. Therapeutic thumping, or coupage, helps a bit but the relief is only temporary.

She went right into our oxygen kennel, made for just these emergencies. Puff slept a lot, under the watchful eyes of her family pacing in front of the special crate, the oxygen relieving the strain to breathe on her trachea, lungs and heart; and it nearly eliminated the coughing while she was inside. The fact that Still Another White Dog was content to lie there was a sign of just how bad she felt.

With the supervision of every member of the WDA, we unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to eat but managed to syringe about a quarter cup of water down her throat. All of the pups tried to convince her to eat and drink more but poor Puff, medicated with her antibiotic and a cough suppressant, just wanted to sleep.

No one was comfortable going to bed with Puff in the kennel instead of in her usual spot. Taiko slept in the hallway just outside the office so he could hear her. White Dog took up watch right at the Oxygen chamber door. I heard Bella pacing from our bedroom into the office several times during the night. I was awake in an instant every time I heard our old girl move about, and Steve got up several times to "just check that she did not need anything."

Puff the Magical is 16 years old with a host of chronic health issues. She is a fighter and a tough cookie with still lots of interest in life. Seeing her lying so still and frail stirs fears I am not ready to consider...and I tell her so at 3am sitting in the dark office as the rest of the house sleeps.


October 24, 2014

White Dog and the rest of the White Dog Army nuzzled Taiko and let out a collective sigh of relief. They had been impatient as we paused on the sunporch to remove our shoes and to clean off Tai's feet. He had just returned from his follow up visit with Dr. Julia and his blood work was normal; the slight anemia issue seems to be gone although we are going to keep him on a multivitamin. Thankfully, our boy with the really bad elbow was given the OK to return to his regular dose of glucosamine to slow the inevitable deterioration of the joint.

Earlier, Taiko looked up at Steve when we entered the vet's office. The parking lot was full but the waiting room was nearly empty. All of the exam room doors were closed. "What's up?" he seemed to ask as Margaret, his favorite tech, hurried out from the back to take his lead and head back into the lab to draw blood.

When she returned Tai to us, she indicated that Dr. Julia would be out to see us in the lobby as soon as the blood work was analysed. The usual protocol is that we go into an exam room. In no time our amazing vet was out giving us the thumbs up and telling us all was back to normal. We quickly discussed the upper respiratory infection that half the White Dog Army seemed to be battling.

"It is everywhere," she said. "Like a Fall cold. Let's not give antibiotics; I prefer to let it run its course in three to five days. If they need it, use Robitussin Baby cough syrup. Chicken and rice if tummies get icky. Except Puff, I will go back and get something for her; we don't want her fighting anything respiratory. Here are also some drops for Taiko's eye, looks a little inflamed, he might be starting an infection in a tear duct or maybe scratched the corner of his eye."

Before she turned to go, I asked about the emptiness of the waiting room. "There is a bad parvo outbreak," she told us. "Oh, no socialization for Zsofia until it is over. Stay out of parks or places other dogs go. We are being extra careful here in the clinic. Asking folks to wait with their pets in their cars, washing everything down with bleach, carrying the young ones. Cindy came up with a great shoe cleaning system using a litter box and bleach soaked rags that we all step in as we enter and leave the exam rooms. Cannot be too careful with this. Wipe off your shoes and Tai's feet before you go into your house. Not to panic but to make sure Zsofia is safe; she still has one more booster to go."

I have been told that this outbreak is actually larger than just Albuquerque, and includes most of New Mexico and Texas. In the interest of increasing awareness, the WDA wants to share these facts about the disease; knowledge is a powerful tool in the fight for good health...

From Pets.WebMD.com: Parvo is a acute, contagious disease that dogs and cats can get. The disease is transmitted by oral contact with infected feces. Parvo can be carried on the dog’s hair and feet, as well as on contaminated crates, shoes, and other objects. Parvo affects dogs and cats of all ages, but most cases occur in those 6 to 20 weeks of age. Following an incubation period that averages four to five days, the acute illness begins with depression, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some dog have no fever, while others have high fever (up to 106°F, 41.1°C). Pups with severe abdominal pain exhibit a tucked-up abdomen. Diarrhea is profuse and contains mucus and/or blood. Dehydration develops rapidly.

Suspect parvo in all pups with the abrupt onset of vomiting and diarrhea. The most efficient way to diagnose parvo is to identify either the virus or virus antigens in stools. An in-office blood serum test (ELISA) is available for rapid veterinary diagnosis Puppies and dogs should not eat or drink until the vomiting has stopped. but require fluid support during that time. This can take three to five days. Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent septicemia and other bacterial complications, which are the usual cause of death.

The outcome depends upon the virulence of the specific strain of parvovirus, the age and immune status of the dog, and how quickly the treatment is started. Most pups who are under good veterinary care recover without complications.
Prevention: Thoroughly clean and disinfect the quarters of infected animals. Parvo is an extremely hardy virus that resists most household cleaners and survives on the premises for months. The most effective disinfectant is household bleach in a 1:32 dilution. The bleach must be left on the contaminated surface for 20 minutes before being rinsed. it is important to isolate young puppies as much as possible from other dogs and from potential sources of infection until they complete the parvo vaccination series at 16 weeks of age.
Currently, recommendations are for a booster a year from the initial vaccine series and then revaccination every three years.


October 23, 2014

White Dog and The White Dog Army surprised me this Throwback Thursday with a Nuka Angel Marie tribute dinner featuring swordfish (one of our Florida girl's favorites) and carrot cake with LOTS of cream cheese icing (probably the one food Nuka made sure they had plenty of over the Bridge). This week is the first anniversary of her leaving us to follow Quinn.

White Dog and Puff shared stories of when our crabby deaf lady arrived, named Angel...and YoYoMa shared with the newer members what a fashionista she was.

"Nuka hates when you think of her last days," WD told me. "She would do anything to see your tears turn to happy memories." And so for my Beautiful Ugly Duckling who is now a stunning swan whose beauty ALL can see, I send a smile and a kiss on the wings of her song, Bonnie Rait's Make Me An Angel


October 22, 2014

White Dog complained. "You NEVER have a camera or a cell phone at hand to capture these awesome White Dog Army moments." I started to apologize for not having a photographer's instincts but caught myself. "Really?" I replied, "Did YOU know I was about to have front row seats for the WDA Cirque de Bow Wow?"

It must have been something in the air because for a while this morning all of the White Dogs were as full of spit and hellfire as Zsofia, the baby. And EVERYBODY wanted to play. Taiko was seriously concentrating on nudging one of the twenty-five stuffies his sister had scattered across the floor. He seemed intrigued with the connection of stepping on Snakey and it making different noises.

Sachi was pacing along the backs of the two red chairs at the window, like a tightrope walker. He leaped the distance of the end table that stood between them each time. Did I mention he was barkbarking as he paced?

YoYoMa, who was lying on the sunporch, heard the mailman first and came inside spin in excited dervish circles as he called out the alarm. White Dog joined his chorus as she stood on the arm of my chair lunging cantilevered toward the door by her back toes and catching her balance just in time to haul herself back. I was certain she was going to launch herself into space.

Puff had been awakened from a deep nap by the ruckus and was moving half awake across the room when Zsofia came in at top speed, chased by Bella. Zso was loping full-out at zoomie speed and Bella was mere inches from her tail. They charged around the coffee table and I saw Puff's eyes go wide.

There was no time for her to get out of their path. Zsofia was going to crash full speed into my little old lady. I felt Puff stiffen and brace for impact....

...except it never came.

Zsofia, now 20 lbs and as tall as Taiko with LONG legs and youthful reflexes LEAPED over Puff and cleared her by an impressive distance.

Bella, my Tiniest Dancer, managed to twist herself at nearly a ninety degree angle and squeeze along the sofa--barely ruffling Puff's tail furs. Both she and Zsofia came to a skidding halt at the far end of the kitchen.

Puff continued on to the hallway.

And every dog acted as though this incredible four minutes of sensory overload happened every day with a matinee on Sunday. I realized I had been holding my breath and squeezing my hands into balls of positive energy; slowly I let out my breath and unclenched my hands.

"That was simply splendid," I told the WDA, They looked at me and yawned.

Just a quiet note of remembrance on the day after the one year anniversary of Nuka's passing. Not a day goes by that I do not miss your wiggy waggy self and my arms ache to hold you once again snuggled like an infant. I know you could not live without Quinn and I thank you for sending Bella to me to ease my pain. Forever, Nuka Angel Marie, forever Another White Dog.


October 21, 2014

White Dog sighed for the four millionth time and then jumped down. "Stop, momma! There is no easy solution here. We are under virus attack." And so we were, of course it was Steve's late night and it was thunder storming to boot. But the weather was not the culprit.

We could not access an internet connection through any of the hosts. The folders on the desktop would not open. We were in a continuous loop that asked us if we wanted to restart...and when we did, we were asked again. Arrrrgggghhhh. AND not only was it Steve's late night but he is the middle of a final class project for his MBA due this coming weekend and really had no time to spare fussing with computer demons.

Of course, all our work lives inside the electronic box. Plus we need to keep contact with our Blog and FB friends. Plus plus I do most of my Paws To People work via computer. Did I say Arrrrrrgggggghhhhh?

This morning Steve greeted me, with the fact that he had taken the time to fuss with my computer, including a restore of System 8.1 back to October 9 and that things seemed to be working now. White Dog and I showered him with kisses of gratitude...and the others joined in just because they all love kisses and cuddles.

So here in brief synopsis is what you all missed:

Sunday was dreary and drizzly. the White Dog Army was bummed because they had been promised a trip to the Park. NOW all that they could do was play inside games, drill and practice skills...and oh yeah, eat treats...
Monday we were invaded by computer demons AND thunder storms. We all huddled together and wished for Steve to come home and for the miserable day to be over.
Today Steve, our hero, conquered the beasts living in my machine and we are once again connected to the world. The sun is out. The day filled with light and promise. The White Dog Army excitedly cheered when we noticed Bella, our shyest girl, PLAYING with a stuffie for the first time ever! She has come so far in just the past few weeks in terms of being more outgoing and less timid. Her Gotcha Day is approaching in just two weeks and we are thrilled at this progress.
Paws crossed all is now fixed with the computer and we will be back to visiting and daily blogging.


October 18, 2014

White Dog greeted us at the door. The rest of the White Dog Army pushed and shoved behind her. "Well?" they all wanted to know.

I did not even have to ask. I knew they all were dying to hear about the Pumpkin Feelie Heads that they had helped invent and engineer for this year's Howl and Growl Adoption Event at the Pumpkin Patch.

Although they did not like not being able to go...or even send an ambassador...the WDA understood that we were next to the Great Dane rescue group which does not crate its often nervous adoptable dogs and that the event draws lots of costumed children, many on sugar highs and filled with over enthusiasm. There was some relief that they would be spared...except Zsofia who REALLY wanted to go. "Little One," White Dog told her, "maybe next year. You would be a lunatic and momma would be unable to focus on telling people about Paws To People because she would spend every moment worrying about you or keeping you from mischief."

Last summer, at our annual Advisory Board meeting, the Breast Cancer Resource folks gave an excellent presentation that concluded with the passing around of three boxes. Each contained a rubber model of a woman's breast. The object was to feel the breast to find the hidden lumps of different sizes within the "tissue." One of the attendees, feel in love with this concept and became obsessed on how P2P could use a model to educate about lumps and bumps. She threw the challenge at me for the Howl and Growl Event that she organizes. Obviously, a more family appropriate model was needed...and one that did not cost what these professionally made models in special display boxes did.

So White Dog, our resident engineer, and I sat down and came up with a rough concept. The rest of the White Ones helped decide how we would depict various body conditions like tissues, blood, brain matter. Then we debated how to represent the general idea that lumps and bumps came in different sizes and shapes and felt differently. Oh, and we had a typical small non-profit's budget of $10 to do this.

"Keep it light and fun," YoYoMa advised. "Play on the icky gruesome Halloween theme," added Bella. "But make it like a mad scientist thing," Taiko threw into the conversation. "You know, with rubber gloves and stuff." "Yeah, if you make it for the kids, the grownups will play, too, because everybody likes this kind of fun." Puff shared. "And while they squish and feel, they can learn," Sachi concluded.

So we sent Steve on a shopping mission with a list: 4 plastic pumpkin heads, 4 pairs of bright yellow cleaning gloves, oil, eggs, oatmeal, rice, caramels and grapes. While he was gone, Zsofia helped me find heavy black plastic yard bags, the duct tape, packing tape, scissors, buttons, and whole walnuts.

It was like a night in the laboratory as we all gathered together. All that was missing was the lightening storm raging outside (Thanks dog, Yo thought).

Into the pink pumpkin head went cooked oatmeal which had grapes hidden within...

The orange pumpkin was filled with dry rice and soft caramels...

Green, held raw eggs in which walnuts floated...

And the purple was filled with oil and a handful of buttons.

"OK when do we eat the oatmeal and the eggs," Zsofia asked, jumping up and nearly knocking over the lab. "You DON'T," WD snapped, stopping Yo's tail mid wag.

Next came the part where we needed the special skills of our resident architect. The pumpkins needed to be completely closed with black plastic so that it formed a closed sock to reach into the heads and feel around...without being able for anyone to view the contents.

Steve cut cone shapes from the corners of the bag and thrust the point into the pumpkins. Then he duct taped the top edge of the pumpkin, rolled the plastic down a few folds and attached it to the pumpkin. Momma, ever practical, insisted on over taping the edge again sealing both plastic and pupkin with clear packing tape to reinforce the connection so there would be no seal failure as hands pushed in and plunged around over and over.

"What do you think?" Steve tested each pumpkin and thrashed around in the mitten to make sure the system would hold. "Good!" "Better take both tapes and some extra bags," White Dog advised. "You never know."

So here is what we ended up with...and people loved it. Puff was right, more grownups than kids wanted to try and their guesses about what they felt was interesting. The WDA howled at the multiply given response to the rice filled pumpkin..."Is it cat litter and poop?"

And in the course of the laughs and squeals, we had the opportunity to remind people that we can't always tell with our eyes when there is a problem. It is important to hug our pets and feel them and massage them...to know their bodies. Not all lumps and bumps are bad...some are little fatty tissues or cysts...but some are reason for concerns...and all are flags to ask your vet.