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My heart is broken. Roxie made her transition over the Rainbow Bridge January 27, 2017 at 3:30 in the afternoon. Rick and I always said she would let us know when she was ready to leave, and she collapsed while Rick was walking her. She was unresponsive and she was whimpering, so we found a vet, Dr. Phil Whisnand, to come to the house and help her along. She was 17 1/2 extraordinary years old!
So now, we are dog-less for the first time in close to 30 years.
It is with a heavy heart I bring the news we have lost our girl Gypsy, as of 1:45 a.m. this morning Tuesday August 18th. She had a couple of very difficult days, starting Sunday evening when she began panting incessantly. We took her to our vet, Dr. Maria Williams, who ran blood work and started her on fluids. Dr. Maria called us early afternoon and suggested we come back early to get Gypsy as she was deteriorating quickly. Her heart was pounding out of her chest and her blood work showed her kidneys were failing. We brought her home and she spent her last hours with her family.
What made her passing so difficult is we feel we were blindsided. On Sunday morning Gypsy was pawing at our bed as usual, enjoyed her walk in the park, and enjoyed her breakfast. She had always had iffy kidney numbers and Dr. Maria had concerns about her heart all along, however we had controlled both problems with supplements and Chinese herbs.
Here is the last picture we have of Gypsy, taken a couple of days ago for Roxie’s 16th birthday:
And here a couple of the first pictures we have of Gypsy taken in 2001:
Please give your fur-kids an extra big hug for me today,
The fourth incident happened early morning December 12th. I woke up about five in the morning hearing this strange sound coming from Gypsy. Her hindquarters were stuck under the bed, she was frantically pawing the carpet with her front paws, her eyes were flipping around, and she looked terrified. I, of course, had a minor panic attack and got Rick up. We were able to get Gypsy out from under the bed, but she could barely walk. Not knowing what to do, we gave her a pain med and tried to comfort her as best we could.
Our vet, Dr. Maria Williams, had no open appointments that day, but we were told if we brought Gypsy in and left her for the day, Dr. Maria would look at her when she could. I never would have guessed the diagnosis: Gypsy had suffered a stroke. Dr. Maria administered an anti-inflammatory, gave her both a chiropractic and acupuncture treatment, and put her on the same Chinese herb we had for Roxie’s seizures: Gastrodia and Uncaria.
Because Gypsy was so dizzy (her eyes continued to flutter for a couple of days) they suggested we give her dramamine. Besides the fluttering eyes, she had a severe head tilt, and serious balance issues. She also refused food for a couple of days.
We took Gypsy back for another acupuncture treatment a week later. Her eyes were no longer fluttering, she was eating normally, her balance was improving, but she still had a head tilt.
As of today, you would never know that our 15-year-old Gypsy had a stroke at all. She no longer has a head tilt, and her balance I would estimate at about 90%. We continue to live every day as a blessing.
The third one surfaced this fall. Roxie began having infrequent, but frightening nonetheless, seizures. If you have ever witnessed a seizure in a human or an animal you know they are difficult to watch. In Roxie’s case, she would get stiff, stare into space, and then just fall over. These episodes would only last a few seconds, and then she would seem anxious, scared, and disoriented. The best we knew to do for her was to keep her warm and comfort her.
Our vet, Dr. Maria Williams, got her started on a Chinese herb, called Gastrodia and Uncaria, which we were to administer three times per day. I quizzed my acupuncturist about this herb who said it is used for similar conditions in humans. Dr. Maria also told us we could massage Roxie’s head or use ice on her head, all in an effort to dissipate excessive heat.
I consider myself open minded, but the use of Chinese herbs was a first for us. However, since we have been giving them to Roxie, neither Rick nor I have seen another seizure episode.
My final post regarding our recent doggie health issues will be about Gypsy having a stroke.
The next issue that came up this summer happened to Gypsy. The morning after we found out that Roxie would need cancer surgery, Gypsy was in excruciating pain. She could barely walk, and her back legs were shaking badly. She would try to bite either of us if we tried to touch her. We gave her a pain pill, but we were at a loss as what to do with her. We, fortunately, were able to get an appointment with our vet Dr. Maria Williams that same day.
The next obstacle was getting her in the truck to make the trip to the vet. Lifting her was out of the question, so Rick built a makeshift ramp, and with the lure of treats, got Gypsy in the truck.
Dr. Maria gave Gypsy acupuncture, a chiropractic adjustment, electro stimulation, and sent her home with muscle relaxers and pain meds. The vet said it looked like a severe muscle spasm, but to be cautious, was treating it as a slipped disc. Rick said Gypsy’s relief was almost immediate. I am convinced Dr. Maria saved Gypsy’s life. If we had taken Gypsy to a traditional vet without Dr. Maria’s alternative skills, I believe Gypsy would have been put down, as that vet would not have known how to help her.
Gypsy was scheduled for more rounds of chiropractic adjustments, plus she was put under house arrest for a couple of weeks. Gypsy is a smart little dog, and a smart dog and being bored is a bad combination. So, we devised ways to occupy her brain. We took driving trips to the park where she could observe the deer. I came up with a simple puzzle using three paper cups. I would hide her treats in one of the cups, and Gypsy had to figure out which one contained the treat and determine how to get to the treat. Rick built a fantastic ramp that both dogs now use to get in and out of the truck.
Gypsy, like Roxie, is 15 years old. As of today, she is back to taking short and slow walks, and she continues to get regular chiropractic adjustments.
My next post will be about Roxie’s seizures, in the continuation of our doggie health issues.
It has been a rough few months for both Roxie and Gypsy. I’ll start with Roxie’s cancer. We had noticed in June that a lump on her back was growing big, hard, and fast. At first I thought it was a fatty tumor, like the one she has on her belly, but it did not behave like that one at all. When we took her to see our vet, Dr. Maria Williams, she took one look at Roxie, did a biopsy, and told us it had to come off. I, of course, was quietly freaking out. We scheduled Roxie for surgery the following week.
We were told that Roxie did really well during her surgery, but Dr. Maria said she was very aggressive with the surgery and took out more tissue than she had anticipated. Roxie had about 15 staples on her incision. We would have to wait for a definitive diagnosis, as the tissue sample had to be sent off. So, Roxie was sent home with an Elizabethan collar and post-surgery instructions.
Roxie is thunder-phobic. That night and early morning we had the worst thunder and lightening storm that I can remember. Poor little Roxie, who was supposed to be resting and recovering from major surgery, spent most of the night pacing, crying, and throwing up. So, none of us got much sleep that night.
All of us hated the Elizabethan collar. It was hard plastic, Roxie had a very difficult time moving around with it, and it hurt a lot if she bumped into one of us. We got the idea to use an inflatable travel pillow instead, and it worked like a charm.
Roxie, who is 15 years old, did not get the memo that she was an elderly dog recovering from major surgery. It only took a couple of days before she was jumping around, wanting to play, and demanding her breakfast/snacks/dinner right on time.
We received the diagnosis from Dr. Maria in about ten days. It was a spindle cell sarcoma. We discussed our options with Dr. Maria, such as chemo, radiation, Chinese herbs, and we all decided our best course of action was to wait and see. As Dr. Maria put it, we would consider every day with Roxie a blessing. Besides, Rick and I had discussed that although we would never let her suffer, we also would not put our 15-year-old dog through any type of chemo or radiation. I’ve seen too many humans go through hell with those types of treatments. We are more interested in Roxie’s quality of life rather than artificial longevity.
Fast forward to today: Roxie has had no recurrence of the cancer. We have her on a homemade diet, she drinks Kangen Water® , and we started her on turmeric after her surgery. So, I am hopeful she will be with us a good while longer.
I’ll continue on with Gypsy’s back issue in my next post.
Until then, take care and please give your dogs a hug for me,
On a suggestion from our niece, Allison, I recently read a very enjoyable book Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon. The premise is a chronicle of 24 hours in the life of an animal surgeon, Dr. Nick Trout. The book opens with a wake up call at 2:47 a.m. from the surgeon on duty, Dr. Sarah Keene, who is a first-year resident. Dr. Keene has an emergency situation with a ten-year-old German shepherd named Sage. Sage has life-threatening GDV, otherwise known as bloat, and Dr. Keene needs Dr. Trout’s expertise to perform the emergency surgery.
Dr. Trout keeps us updated on Sage’s progress throughout the book, and takes us through many other cases, including examples where euthanasia is the best option for the pet.
What comes through clearly is the author always advocates for his patient, the animal. Along with that, he has the responsibility to maintain an open line of communication with the pet’s guardian while being sensitive to their budgetary concerns and emotional concerns.
What was quite enlightening for me was Dr. Trout’s comparison of the job requirements of a human MD vs. a veterinarian. For example, a vet must learn the biology and physiology of multiple species, whereas an MD only learns the biology and physiology of one species. A vet cannot ask the patient where it hurts, which he compares to a pediatrician’s dilemma. The vet must take into consideration animal behaviors that would be detrimental to the patient’s progress, such as licking the wound, jumping on and off furniture, etc.
I found this book to be easy and fun to read, and one that any animal lover will enjoy.
The book The Dog Lived (and So Will I), by Teresa J. Rhyne, is the true account of her dog, Seamus (pronounced Shaymus), and then Teresa herself going through the horrors of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation (cut, poison, and burn) treatments for malignant, aggressive cancerous tumors.
Teresa recently had: lost her two elderly beagles, Richelieu and Roxy, been divorced for a second time, and moved to a new home. She had a lot of baggage. So, she had no intention of becoming involved with another beagle, or much less another man. However, things have a way of happening in an unplanned manner. She met Chris, a younger man who despite her intentions to the contrary, captured her affections. She received a call from a local animal rescue organization who suggested she “just come in for a look” at a newly acquired young beagle. At the shelter, this canine immediately attached himself to her and she found herself with a new family member in this sweet and adorable, yet demanding dog. She named him Seamus.
Besides having an insatiable appetite for human contact, Seamus had an insatiable appetite for food of any sort. Despite his shortcomings, Seamus was a beloved companion. So, it was devastating news when Teresa was told Seamus had a particularly aggressive cancerous tumor, and would only live another year. Teresa invested all of her emotional and financial resources into fighting Seamus’s cancer, and just about lost him in the process, but he survived both the cancer and the treatments.
She didn’t realize that Seamus had prepared her to wage her own war against cancer. Shortly after Seamus had received a clean bill of health, she found the lump in her breast. She was immediately scheduled for surgery, and went through her own series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
With Chris’s love and care, Seamus as a source of laughter and entertainment with his endless demands, and support from unexpected places Teresa has received her own clean bill of health.
The Dog Lived (and So Will I) is uplifting, humorous, and easy to read despite the honest depiction of what it is like to go through both cancer and it’s conventional treatments. Teresa J. Rhyne has written an encouraging and inspirational story I think both animal lovers and cancer survivors will appreciate and enjoy.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday and did not suffer too much of a food coma!
In full disclosure, if you choose to purchase The Dog Lived (and So Will I) through any of the links I have provided, I will receive an affiliate commission from Amazon.com.
The story centers around Justine, and her gray and black Sheltie, Mack. Justine has endured some rough times, and Mack is the bright spot in her life. She and Mack are partners in canine freestyle events, and Mack, being a quick study, has excelled in the sport.
Justine is summoned to Boston to see her dying father, and hitches a ride with a cross-country truck driver named Artie. On the journey, she loses Mack, but will not give up on finding him and exhausts every resource to get him back.
Mack, in the meantime, never gives up on Justine. While continuing to wait for her, he adopts an older couple, Ed and Alice Parmalee, who have lost their way with each other.
Told from the perspective of both Justine and Mack, this was for me a real page-turner. Although it has a predictable ending, it illustrates the power of an animal companion to heal wounded hearts and bring people back together. I loved how the author, when telling the story from Mack’s point of view, understands what is important to a dog, e.g. treats, food, exercise, and loyalty.
If you enjoy animal stories, and especially if you are a dog-lover, both of these books will captivate you.
In full disclosure, if you choose to purchase either The Dog Who Danced or One Good Dog through any of the links I have provided, I will receive an affiliate commission from Amazon.com.