Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Feline Purrsuasion

Posting photos of your cat is supposed to be the blogging equivalent of jumping the shark... but I'm doing it anyway since we actually adopted ZB last spring and although I've written a little about her I just noticed that I hadn't ever posted any pictures of her.

It's been so lovely to have a cat again!! She gets along great with all the dogs - and I'm very, very proud of our dogs for how well they've adapted to her. She does get a lot of the credit, because she's just fearless. If a cat doesn't hiss and run when a dog approaches, the dog is much less likely to try to chase the cat!

This is the first photo I took of her after we started letting her into the house.

Here she is sleeping on the bed with Kinsey

Here's a closeup - I told you she was comfortable with the dogs!!

Flat cat

This is a pretty typical scene at feeding time. Except she's not always this patient, and will sometimes start knocking things off the counter if the food doesn't start appearing quickly enough.

She's even taken well to eating a raw diet! Although I've been feeding a raw diet to our dogs for about 10 years, I didn't switch my cats over back then. They were old, and healthy and it was partly a case of "if it's not broke, don't fix it" and partly that they were totally not interested in raw food. From what I've been told and have read, this is very common - switching dogs to raw food is usually pretty easy but switching cats can be very difficult.

But not ZB - she will eat pretty much anything. I started out feeding her pretty much the same thing I was feeding the dogs, but just adding more heart since that is a good source of the taurine that is so important for cats. And about one meal a day - or every other day - she got some grain-free canned cat food just to cover the bases. But now I've found a good recipe for homemade cat food, and she's getting that and is doing fabulously well.

The only thing that really has been a challenge has been making her into an "inside only" cat. She enjoys being outside - and admittedly she survived out there for at least 3 or 4 months while we were teaching the dogs that she was not to be chased - but it's just not worth the risk unless we're watching her. I'd like to build her an enclosure - well, to be honest, I'd like Ronnie to build her an enclosure - but that hasn't happened yet. So we occasionally let her outside while we supervise, and occasionally she escapes but we get her back inside pretty quickly.

I love having a cat again!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good Old Days

I got a GPS navigator for an early Christmas present. And I love it!! Even though I didn't think I needed one...

I am a home health therapist so I'm in the car pretty much all day long. But even though my schedule changes almost daily - it's a very common occurrence that when I'm on my way to a patient's home, I am coming from a different direction than I have before - I've never really had any trouble finding my way around.

That statement may shock people who know me because there is no doubt that I am directionally challenged. I can easily get turned around inside a home or store and forget how I came in. I can also get lost in a parking lot and have trouble figuring out how to get back on the road I came in on.

But on the road it's different. I know where I am and where I'm going, and since I'm very familiar with my area I don't have much trouble figuring out how to get from here to there. Of course I use a map to look up the address prior to the first time I go to a patient's home, but other than that I have always done fine on my own.

But having a GPS makes things SO much easier!! It takes me from one patient's home to another sometimes via routes that I wouldn't have thought of, and so far it's always worked out really well and seems very efficient. And I've set it so that it will automatically re-route me around severe traffic congestion, which is a BIG help since I'm seeing a lot of patients in Dallas lately.

It's a Navigon 2100 Max, and I really like it. I had never heard of Navigon before - I'd only heard of the Big Three brands - but it's not a no-name generic and seems to have a lot of features for the price. Text to Speech (and the speaker pronounces street names quite accurately), live traffic updates (which really was the main reason I got it in the first place), free map upgrades 4 times a year etc.

It's definitely got a "new toy" vibe and I enjoy playing with it, but it actually is making my life a bit easier. Since it's the only GPS system I've ever used, I have no idea if it's really one of the better ones on the market or not - what matters is that it's so much better than what I'm used to.

Which got me to thinking - this is like the Word Processor revolution. Remember your first word processor? If you are too young to remember a world without word processors or computers, just hush. Your first word processor could have been an absolute POS - and certainly it was much inferior to the programs we've got now - but you were absolutely thrilled with it. Because no matter how clunky or slow it was, it was a freaking miracle compared to a typewriter.

Remember making corrections on a typewriter? It's not just that there was no Spell Check (other than your faithful dictionary) - if you made a typo you had to manually fix it somehow. There were several options, all of them awful. Many typewriters had a correction ribbon that was just like a regular typewriter ribbon except it held white ink. You would type over your mistake which didn't really erase it and then when you typed the correct letter it would look a little different. Or you could paint on some Liquid Paper, blow on it until it dried and hope you hadn't daubed it on too thickly - in which case it would crack and flake off your page. They even made special erasers that were supposed to actually erase typing errors - they didn't work so great either and usually ended up smudging the paper and/or rubbing a hole in it.

And don't even talk about revisions... back when I was in high school if you were writing an essay or a report you'd write it out longhand first. If you wanted to change around words, sentences or paragraphs you'd draw a circle around them and then draw an arrow to the place you wanted to put them. If you made a lot of changes it would quickly become very difficult to read the paper at all and keep all the changes straight so you'd re-write the whole thing to see how it looked. Most of our papers could be turned in handwritten, but there were always a few "formal" papers that had to be typed. Oh, the Horror!!

Now, if you could afford it you'd hire someone to type it for you. Some people put themselves through college or made a nice second income on the money they made typing papers for students.

But if you had to type it yourself and you weren't a really accomplished typist, it was a nerve wracking experience because you were trying so hard to make as few typos as possible. And Heaven help you if, after it was all typed, you realized that you needed another revision. Or had made some major mistake. Because then you'd have to type the whole damn thing all over again.

My first word processor was just that - it wasn't a computer. I could store documents on floppy discs but it was really just a glorified typewriter. There was no mouse, you just used keyboard shortcuts to highlight, cut and paste. There were about 5 or 6 different fonts to choose from, a few different text sizes and you could italicize, bold and underline. The screen was maybe 5 or 6 inches high and 10 or 12 inches wide, and showed about a half page at a time.

And how I loved that little machine!! The unbridled joy of being able to just press a button and erase a mistake!! The thrill of moving words and sentences around without having to re-type the entire thing!! Maybe you had to be there, but believe me when I say that it was so awesome.

So although I'm sure that someday I'll look back on my Navigon and think "how quaint" - for now it ROCKS!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Daily Grind

Yesterday I made about 160# of dog food.

As you may or may not know, we feed our dogs a raw homemade diet. It's really not too much trouble normally - once you learn the basic rules and also learn what works for your particular pets it's fairly easy.

A lot of people who feed raw diets don't grind anything. After all, dogs and cats come well equipped with excellent meat and bone grinders as standard equipment.

In my case, I've got several reasons for grinding meat and bones for the dogs. One is, we've got a little Shih-Tzu cross dog we inherited who is about 14 years old and missing some teeth. While he LOVES to eat meaty bones and I occasionally give him small ones, I am worried about him breaking/losing what teeth he's got left. And before you ask, yes he has had a dental and dental X-rays etc. The teeth he has are fairly sound but I tend to err on the side of caution.

Another reason - probably the main reason - is that Teddy and Topper are hopeless pansies when it comes to eating raw food. It is totally my fault: I'm their breeder, I raised them, I weaned them to raw food. That's pretty much all they've eaten their entire lives... and in the 10 years I've been feeding raw food to dogs, they are by far the PICKIEST eaters I've ever had. Teddy will eat turkey necks, and pork neck bones. Period. Topper will eat ONLY pork neck bones. Neither one of them will touch a whole piece of chicken (say a leg quarter) but they like chicken if it's ground up. They'll also eat hamburger but won't touch raw liver unless it's ground up and mixed with something they like. *Sigh*

I have nearly the opposite problem with their mother Kinsey - she's a classic gulper. She'll eat anything I give her, but I have to be careful that the pieces are big enough that she can't just swallow them down and choke.

So although they all do get whole meaty bones on a regular basis - which I believe is important to them for the psychological satisfaction and the physical exercise, not to mention the teeth cleaning - because there are so many limitations on what my crew will eat and on what I can safely give them that I grind food so I can get a bigger variety of things into them.

I used to have a little electric meat grinder from Northern Tool that is popular with people who grind food for their pets.

It worked great for a couple of years, but then finally died. I have no complaints - it's a light duty grinder made for grinding meat only (there is a sticker on it that says you're supposed to remove not only the bones before grinding, but even the skin!) and I routinely ran 40 to 50 lbs. of various chicken parts through it at a time. It was hard on the grinder, but hard on me too - there was a lot of preparation because I had to cut or chop the chicken into smallish bits so they would A) fit through the hopper, and B) not bog the machine down too much. It usually took longer to do that, than it did to grind everything up.

So when it finally perished I decided I didn't want to go through all that again. I wanted a grinder that was bigger, stronger, and - most importantly - with a strong enough motor and a large enough hopper that I didn't have to cut a chicken leg quarter into 4 or 5 pieces to get it to go through.

After some searching, we settled on the 3/4 horsepower grinder from Cabela's:

So yesterday I decided to christen the thing and went to the grocery wholesalers and got a 40# case of chicken leg quarters, and a 40# case of chicken backs. Then I went to Fiesta for a bunch of beef heart and chicken liver - and since they were having a great sale I picked up 20 more lbs. of chicken leg quarters.

Now, chicken leg quarters have a nearly perfect ratio of meat to bone naturally. Chicken backs, on the other hand, are mostly bone and some fat with the skin. But I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of Nilgai meat in the freezer courtesy of some very generous friends who are hunters.

This is a Nilgai - they have become popular as game animals in Texas

Nilgai, like most game meats, is very lean. So the fatty, bony chicken backs are a perfect addition to it as a calcium source and a fat source.

Normally, I am not this ambitious when I'm grinding food for the dogs. I think the most I've done at one time in the past was about 50 lbs. And that took about 3 hours, using my little meat grinder from Northern Tool.

So I was really, really hoping that my new grinder would do the trick. Nothing like jumping in with both feet. I unpacked it, washed the parts that come into contact with the meat, put it together and turned it on.

First surprise - it's a lot quieter than my old grinder! It's still not exactly what I'd call a stealth machine, but when I turned it off my ears weren't ringing.

So far, so good.

Let's see what it does with a chicken leg quarter.

I picked up a small one, and fed it into the hopper drumstick first.

The grinder sucked the whole thing down, and the motor didn't even change pitch.

This calls for a Tim Allen "more power" grunt: HOH, hoh, HOH, HOH, HOH!

It was so awesome! It took everything without any effort at all - there were a few giant chicken leg quarters that wouldn't quite fit, but all I had to do was cut through the thigh so they'd straighten out a bit. It took me about the same amount of time to go through that 160+ lbs. as it used to take me to go through 40 lbs. - and my hands weren't hurting at the end from using the poultry shears.

100 lbs of raw meaty bones = $ 40
40 lbs Nilgai = free
16 lbs liver and heart = $ 20
Most excellent new grinder = $275*
Having a couple of month's
worth of food for 4 Danes
in the freezer = PRICELESS

*A lot of money, yes - but this sucker will pay for itself pretty quickly!
Not to mention keeping ME happy...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Over the past 15 years, I've probably fostered 50 or 60 Great Danes in my home. These are/were dogs who were either lost and their owners couldn't be found, or they were surrendered by their owners for various reasons. I worked with established Dane rescue organizations that were responsible for taking in the dogs, finding temporary (foster) housing for them, paying the medical expenses to get them healthy and get them spayed or neutered, and for finding new permanent homes for the dogs.

My responsibility - as the temporary or foster home - was to teach the dog how to live with people as a member of the family (if it didn't know this already and many of them didn't) and to assess the dog in an attempt to decide which sort of family would be the best fit for the dog in the long run. And sometimes I also had to help nurse the dog back to health before they could even be put up for adoption.

Sometimes this was a big job - I got many dogs who had obviously not had ANY training at all, and once they reached adolescence they could be a handful. Think of a hyper, untrained "puppy" who weighs over a hundred pounds and you get the picture. But fortunately Danes are usually pretty quick to figure out what is in their best interest, and once they realized that unacceptable behavior resulted in undesirable consequences then it all became just a matter of teaching the dog what WAS acceptable. I called it "boot camp" but it wasn't really harsh - just a set of simple rules that were enforced with great consistency.

But many times it was actually an easy job. I had lots of foster dogs who were quite mellow and not interested in testing the limits at all, but were just thrilled to get some TLC, and having plenty to eat and a comfortable place to sleep were just icing on the cake.

Most of them were really nice dogs, who were destined to be beloved pets - but while I loved them all I didn't fall in love with them. I didn't think of them as being "my" dogs - which isn't such a good idea anyway if you are fostering, it is hard on the person and can be confusing for the dog - but rather I thought of them as "someone else's dog" that I was just taking care of for awhile. Which was the truth, in a way. So when they got adopted, it really wasn't all that hard to say good-bye to them. I stayed in touch with their new owners, and it was satisfying to see how happy they were. But that was about it.

A few of them weren't so nice - dogs who were so damaged by a disastrous mix of bad genetics and bad upbringing that we soon realized they could be dangerous. Danes are SO big and SO strong that no reputable Dane rescue will try to place such dogs with members of the public. The potential for catastrophic damage is too great. Sometimes an experienced Dane owner comes along who can handle such a dog safely, but most of the time we have to put them down. It's a very difficult decision, and we do our best to make it a peaceful event by feeding the dog treats or letting him have a special toy, sedating him if he doesn't tolerate handling or restraint (so his last moments won't be full of struggle or panic) and generally comforting the dog the best we can. Fortunately this was very rare - in my experience only two dogs I fostered had to be put down.

But there were others - also just a few, but memorable - who really captured my heart. I only succumbed to one and adopted her - that was Patience and it wouldn't have mattered at the time whether or not it was a "good" time to acquire a new dog. Fortunately it was, but I would have kept her regardless because I realized very quickly that she was "my" dog. There is more about her on her memorial page on our web site and also on our info page.

There were 4 or 5 other really, really special ones that I was sorely tempted to keep, but in the end realized that - to be fair to the dog - either I just didn't have the time to do right by them, or for some other reason they would be a better fit for another family. Those were the ones that although it nearly broke my heart to let them go, I later was glad that I had when I saw how happy they were, and how happy their new families were with them. Actually, now that I think about it, it was very good training for being a breeder and being able to let puppies go to their new homes! That is hard to do, too.

Anyway, one of those super special dogs was an adorable puppy bitch named Sophie. She was a fawnaquin, which although it isn't one of the recognized (i.e. showable) colors for Danes is still very pretty and flashy. She was not only friendly and outgoing and confident, but was smart as a whip, and I happened to have her about the time I first learned about clicker training. I experimented shamelessly on her and the results were nothing less than spectacular. I could teach her a new behavior, or a new trick in about 10 minutes, tops - and her retention was perfect.

Sophie coming home with me - is she adorable or what?

What a face!!

I had her for only a few weeks, but have a lot of happy memories from that time because I was able to do a lot with her. We went to training classes, we went on walks and outings, and on one memorable occasion we got kicked out of an AKC show.

You usually aren't allowed to bring dogs who aren't entered in a show onto the show grounds, although exceptions are made for various reasons. And it is strictly prohibited to bring in a puppy less than 6 months old - which is the minimum age for showing a dog in AKC conformation classes. Sophie at the time was about 4 months old - she'd had all her vaccinations so it wouldn't hurt her to bring her, but she was obviously too young. I was showing Patience in obedience, but we didn't have any of our dogs entered in conformation that weekend, and after Patience and I were done I wanted to go watch the judging and see some people I knew. It was a local show, so I decided to bring Sophie along. We had a great time, and Sophie did not disappoint. She walked boldly into that huge building, echoing with the (not so) subdued roar of hundreds of people talking and a couple thousand dogs barking. All the sights and smells and sounds can be overwhelming even to worldly-wise adult dogs - never mind a puppy. But her tail was wagging and she was absolutely thrilled by it all. We watched the Dane judging and talked to LOTS of people, and Sophie got petted and fussed over and got her picture taken dozens of times.

Sophie at the show

Sophie and Patience doing a Sit - Stay for pictures at the show

Then one of the members of the Kennel Club that was hosting the show walked up to me and asked, "How old is that puppy?" I knew the jig was up but lied anyway, in a most half-assed way: "Six months?" I asked. It was such a bad lie it was kind of funny and he almost smiled, but just said "I don't think so. Please take her out of the building". So I got kicked out of an AKC show for the first and (hopefully) last time. I'm such a troublemaker.

I really, really was tempted to keep her, but I do believe that things often work out the way they are meant to. And when this absolutely fabulous family asked about adopting her, the writing was on the wall. It would be best for all if she became their dog. It damn near killed me to let her go, but I've never regretted it. Her owners stay in touch, and Sophie has developed into the amazing dog we knew she would be. She's had lots of adventures but has remained that happy, sweet smart girl that I knew all those years ago.

Today her owner emailed me to say that they had to say good-bye to Sophie yesterday. She was healthy and happy up until the last few days, when it sounds like a cascade of things started going wrong despite everyone's best efforts. Euthanizing her was obviously the right thing to do, and she was with the people she loved at the end, just as they had been with her for all these years. But I know how hard it was on them, and my prayers and good wishes are with them tonight.

Sophie in her new home

Farewell, Sophie. You were one of the Special Ones.

Sorting things out

I just added some photos of our "kids" to the sidebar, hopefully to help you all sort out who is who, and so when I write about one or another of our dogs I won't have to re-explain the relationships each time. They don't all live with us, of course - Gus, Keeper and Buck all have marvelous, wonderful homes with terrific people. But we are fortunate enough to see them all pretty regularly, and I write about them often enough that they needed to be listed here, too.

Shameless bragging

I still get a kick out of seeing Gus's picture on a dog bed package at the pet supply store. I've never seen the crate package that supposedly used Kinsey's picture, nor did I ever get a copy of the JCPenney catalog with Teddy in it.

But I get to see Gus's claim to fame all the time! :-)

Here he is - this was taken at PetsMart. And no, we don't get any royalties or residuals or anything on the sale of the beds. We did get a free bed for his "acting fee", so that wasn't too shabby:

He's a handsome boy, if I say so myself (patting self on the back).
But I like this picture that the photographer sent us better than the one they ended up using on the package:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Camper

Mood: Delighted!!

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday) it hit 80 degrees. When I got up this morning, the outside thermometer said 29 degrees. Now THAT'S more like it!!

I didn't actually wear a jacket today, but did wear a long sleeved T-shirt and my Christmas vest*. It felt maaaaavehlous. I do love me some winter-type weather. It even stayed cold (for us) all day - only got up to 33 or 34, now down to 28 - which is unusual here. We got some sprinkles late in the afternoon, which made some icy patches and immediately, as always when we get any wintery precipitation, 3 things happened simultaneously:

1. All television broadcasts are interrupted by Weather Alerts with sedate titles like ARCTIC BLAST!!!! or WINTER STORM WARNING!!!! - these are repeated every 15 minutes or so until we get about a quarter inch of sleet/snow whatever, in which case all programming is pre-empted and we get 8 or 9 straight hours (or until it all melts, whichever comes first) of breathless coverage of the WINTER STORM, complete with live shots of reporters standing up to their shoelaces in white stuff, talking about How Dangerous It Is, and Everyone Should Stay The Hell Home.

2. Everyone panics, and figures they'd better make a run for the grocery store for provisions in case - *gasp* - we get snowed in for an hour or two.

3. Half the drivers believe that "gunning it" is the best option for dealing with slick patches, whether or not they actually exist. The other half believe they will crash and die if their speed ever gets over 5 mph, even if they're on the Interstate. Much hilarity ensues.

Sorry about all the weather talk, but - even though I've lived in the South all my life - I still find the local reaction to cold weather pretty darn hilarious. To be fair, many of my fellow Southerners also find it hilarious. Me, I'm just glad it's cool!!

*WHY don't they make warm weather Christmas clothing?? In at least a third of the US, maybe more, December is a fairly warm month. I usually only find sweatshirts in Christmas themes and I wear a sweatshirt - oh, maybe 1 or 2 days a year. Maybe. I need to find some Christmas T-shirts. Or make 'em, if I can't find 'em!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's beginning to feel like Christmas...

I've been in a horrible mood all day. It was EIGHTY F***KING DEGREES today!! On December the f***king fourteenth!!

For those of you who do not know me well, I am - shall we say - a warm-blooded individual. As in, I hate hot weather. I don't like warm weather. I'm not really all that fond of mild weather. I loooove cold weather, and snow makes me smile all over my face. I've been like this all my life but as I've gotten older and fatter and menopausal it has gotten - *ahem* - rather more pronounced.

Of course, I live in Texas, which is just an inch or two from the fires of Hell. Go figure.

Anyway, it was all I could do to restrain myself from turning the AC back on in the house today. I did turn it on in the car while running some errands, and it felt great. Only my desire to avoid contributing to Global Warming any more than necessary kept me from sitting in the car, in the driveway, with the engine running and the AC on high.

But tonight... tonight... a blessed Cold Norther has come to my rescue. The temp outside is already in the low '40s, and is going to fall into the '30s before morning and stay there. The wind chill tomorrow is predicted to be in the teens.

I can't wait!!!! (Rubbing my hands in glee). I may actually get to wear a jacket!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quick Update

Topper is MUCH better this morning!! Still not 100%, and I'm not convinced that constipation is/was the whole problem. If indeed that was the problem at all.

But she's up and around! I'm on my way to the acupuncture vet with Aeryn (Kinsey's sister) and I'll ask him about her symptoms. And yes, sometimes it does feel that all I do is shuttle dogs to one vet or another. But actually - other than Aeryn who has a lot of issues related to birth trauma which I'll write about one day soon - they are a very healthy bunch.

Really! :-)

Monday, December 01, 2008

This is getting old

A couple of weeks ago I was out at work (I'm a home health therapist, so I drive around all day) and Ronnie was working from home as he usually does. This is a GREAT arrangement for many reasons - not the least of which is that his office is 50 miles away. And needless to say, the dogs LOVE having him there all day.

Anyway, I had overslept that morning so had rushed out and left Ronnie to feed the dogs their breakfast. He sort of forgot - I'm really surprised that they let him forget, but they do cut us some slack sometimes - and didn't feed them until nearly noon. Which is no biggie, since with training classes and other things the dog's meals often are delayed until late morning, or late evening.

But I got a phone call: "Teddy isn't feeling well. He didn't want to eat his breakfast, and now he's just laying around." I was immediately worried, since normally Teddy is a chow hound. I asked him to take Teddy's temp, and call me back. It was a little high, so Teddy obviously needed to go to the vet ASAP. Unfortunately Ronnie had an important conference call soon, so even though I was across town it would be me taking him to the vet that day. Which actually is fine, since although Ronnie is an absolutely sterling human being in every way, he's a bit deficient in the Giving of Details department. I can usually drag the relevant information out of him when he returns from a vet appointment or training class or whatever, but it can be exhausting.

I get home, and find a very, very sad Great Dane. Teddy wasn't just laying around, he was seriously lame. Not putting any weight at all on his left front leg, and actually seemed to be favoring his right hind leg too. He didn't want to eat anything, even treats. He was very depressed, and panting, and obviously in pain. I'm thinking that this must be a serious injury, or infection. I didn't waste much time trying to palpate his leg, we just put him in my car and I took off for my vet.

Once there, things seemed a bit more mysterious. Although he was still very, very lame they couldn't find anything wrong on palpation. His neck and back also seemed fine. Since they couldn't feel anything amiss, we decided to hold off on X-rays. Especially since it would take several films to cover his whole shoulder assembly/front leg/foot. His blood work was OK except he did have a mildly elevated white count.

So, we opted to treat the symptoms: antibiotics (Cipro) and pain meds (Metacam). I normally do NOT give my dogs antibiotics "just in case", and my vet doesn't normally recommend them. But with the fever and white count and pain, we felt it was justified. They gave him a shot of Metacam to get the ball rolling, and we headed for home.

By then the rush hour traffic was starting to pick up, and since my vet is a good distance away from us it took nearly an hour to get home and Teddy was actually feeling better by then. He was willing to eat some hamburger, and I gave him the Cipro. Later that evening he was feeling MUCH better, although still rather lame but he ate a good dinner and seemed to be more himself.

The next morning, he had a swollen paw on that left front leg. A light bulb dawned... over the past couple of years, Kinsey has twice turned up with a fat foot, apparently the victim of some sort of stinging insect. And Topper (Teddy's sister) had the same thing happen last year. In each of those instances, the dog was fairly lame but not really distressed. I gave them Benadryl for a few days, and they were fine. I think maybe we've got some sort of ground dwelling bees or something. I've never seen a wound, or stinger or anything like that - they just present with a swollen paw. It's always been a front foot, which makes me suspect that the dog may be pawing at something when it gets stung.

So apparently that was what had happened to Teddy... but unlike his mom and sister, he quite obviously thought he was going to CURL UP AND DIE after getting his foot stung. What a wuss!! I still don't know why he'd have the elevated white count and/or temp with the bee sting, but I added Benadryl to his Cipro and Metacam. After that second day he didn't need the Metacam anymore, and I'm happy to say that the big baby recovered completely in just a couple of days.

Fast forward to this morning. I didn't have any patients lined up to see because I'd originally had a private agility lesson scheduled for this morning with Topper, but it was too windy. Way too windy, as in "it could blow the dog off of the dogwalk" windy. So I was out running a few errands, and got a call from Ronnie. This time it was Topper who was sick. WTF? She'd been fine earlier, had eaten a good breakfast and been her usual bouncy self.

I came home and found her acting like she was in severe pain - she was trembling and panting, arch-backed, reluctant to move. Not exactly lame, but very stiff. Danes can get a life threatening emergency condition called Bloat, or more correctly Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (click here for an article on GDV - must read stuff especially if you have a large, deep chested dog) (here is a useful chart of the cascade of events that occurs during GDV) and that is ALWAYS in the back of my mind. But this didn't really look like bloat to me, she was too alert. She wasn't trying to vomit, in fact she was willing to eat treats. If I thought she had been bloating, I would have taken her to a 24 hour clinic near us for emergency treatment since it takes over half an hour to get to my regular vet. With bloat, every minute counts. But I have learned to trust my instincts, and I figured we could safely take the time to get to my regular vet.

When we get there, she's still very uncomfortable. And very clingy - some dogs get clingy when they don't feel well, and she is DEFINITELY one of those. Not just leaning against me, but practically wrapping around me. Wanting to be in physical contact all the time. Usually when she's at the vet, she is so busy greeting everyone I could probably leave her and she wouldn't notice, not for a while anyway. But not today.

As with Teddy, there didn't seem to be much wrong clinically. Although she was obviously tense and painful, nothing really stood out. Her color was fine, her lab work was "perfect". So we decided to take some X-rays to rule out a really atypical bloat, or an equally atypical pyometra. She had her last season in early August, so although technically an intact bitch can develop this life-threatening uterine infection at any time, it's most common about 2 months after they are in season.

So we X-ray her, and what we see is: Poop! Her colon was full of poop, with some gas behind it.

Hmmm. I have been cutting back on her food lately, since she was getting a little pudgy. And it's very possible that as a result she's been getting a little too much bone and not enough meat which can certainly be constipating. She's kind of picky, and the ONLY kind of bones she'll eat are pork neck bones. Which is fine, that's a great source of calcium - but they aren't really the "meaty" bones you want to emphasize with a raw diet. So I do feed her extra meat, usually with some veggies when she gets the pork necks. But maybe I haven't been giving her enough meat.

Anywho, they gave her an enema (outside!!) and she passed a pretty decent amount of feces. With a raw diet, the dog doesn't produce a lot of poop anyway since the food is so darn digestible. Just in case, we gave her a second enema and then I walked her (and walked her, and walked her, and trotted her, and practiced recalls, and walked her some more) but she didn't pass anything else. She seemed to feel a LOT better. Not totally normal, but better.

So we came home. I am REALLY HOPING that this is just another case of a very wussie Great Dane overreacting to a relatively minor problem.

But she's still looking pretty sad:

Sorry for the crappy photo.

I suck at taking pics with my camera phone, and was too lazy to go get the Canon.

She ate a good dinner (no bones, and I added some canned pumpkin for some extra fiber) but still is not acting quite right. Unlike Teddy, she's not bouncing back. She doesn't want to go outside, although she will when we insist. But when she's out there all she does is just stand there looking pathetic.

She's much better than she was earlier today, not panting or trembling. But something ain't quite right.

This is all she wants to do:

So say a little prayer for my baby girl, will ya? I'll keep ya'll posted.