Call it an early birthday present — Ace is home and doing remarkably well.
After surgery to remove his bladder stones, and an overnight stay at the animal hospital, I picked him up yesterday evening.
I was warned he could be leaky for a few days, and that his pee could contain blood — much like that I’m still scrubbing out of my living room carpet from the morning before surgery — but, sequestered in the kitchen, he made it through the night.
When I let him out this morning (after relieving myself, it should be noted), he walked down the stairs, did his business, and came back to lay down on the front porch, just as he normally does.
All of which leads me to marvel, yet again, about what a stoic and resilient beast he is — far more so than I.
I turn 62 tomorrow and, believe it or not, I am happy to do that. I am happy for my year as a 61-year-old to be over. It included, in this order, quintuple bypass surgery for me, the death of my father, and the death of my mother.
When Ace became completely blocked up this week by what X-rays showed was a horrific number of bladder stones, and the veterinarian recommended, even with some risks, immediate surgery, I balked.
Might it be possible, I asked, to wait until after Sept. 5? My 61st year has been a particularly accursed one, I explained, and I don’t want to give it one last chance to hurt me.
Between saying it out loud, and the look on my vet’s face, I realized I was being ridiculous. Tomorrow is fine, I agreed. That was Tuesday.
Thursday, Ace was home, having emitted just one tiny whimper on the drive. On my ride home from the hospital, after heart surgery, I emitted a dozen whimpers, six grunts, four goddammits, and more than a few dirty looks at my brother for hitting bumps.
During the night, I heard Ace moan once. I, due to back problems, probably moaned 10 times last night.
I took three months to recover from my surgery; Ace looks like he is going to take about three days.
True, they were different kinds of surgeries. True, Ace is on pain pills, more than I would ever be permitted. Ace was prescribed Tramadol — and is to be given eight 50-milligram pills a day. My doctor, who prescribed the same for my back pain, at the same dosage, says I can only take two.
Still, on the one-to-ten scale of stoicism, Ace rates at least a nine, while I can barely eke out a two.
Ace — in his early 80s, if you compute his age in human years — is handling old-man-hood much better than I am.
He didn’t like being sequestered in the kitchen. He prefers following me from room to room and keeping me in sight. But he put up with it, and with no leakage or accidents the barriers have already been lifted, at least during daytime hours.
He is mostly sleeping, and mostly sleeping with his eyes wide open, which I’ve never been able to figure out how he does.
There were hundreds of little stones, enough to make a nice bracelet, should there be a jewelry maker out there who is interested in — and not too grossed out by — taking on the job.
I also brought home a dog without the monstrous front claws Ace used to have. I’ve written before about our efforts to control those. Since Ace was going to be under anesthesia anyway, I requested he be given a pedicure. In retrospect, given the vet spent hours meticulously removing all the stones from Ace’s bladder, I feel a little guilty about that.
On the other hand, it symbolizes the fresh start that I hope comes for both of us when I turn 62 tomorrow.
He, with his bladder purged of rocky deposits, and his claws at a reasonable length. Me, with a still-ticking heart, my favorite season virtually upon us and, most importantly, my dog back at my side.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 61, 62, ace, animals, bladder, bladder stones, dog, dogs, health, pets, resilience, resilient, stoic, stoicism, superstitions, surgery, veterinarian, veterinary
This is a mostly selfish post — aimed at getting all of Ace’s friends and fans to think positive thoughts today as he goes under surgery for bladder stones.
Yes, they are back.
Never really went away, apparently, since his last X-ray a couple of months ago — despite the obscenely-priced special dog food I kept him on for a couple of months.
Instead, they’ve only increased — to the point where it now appears a good portion of the real estate in his bladder is occupied by them.
After his catheterization in May, everything appeared, on the outside, to be fine. Things were flowing nicely. But over the weekend, his urine stream slowed to a dribble, like a coffee maker, and he was, while otherwise in good spirits, straining to pee.
On Sunday I took him to an emergency vet. They were getting ready to catheterize him, when he peed on his own and passed a stone.
By Tuesday though, his stream had slowed to a drip again, and he was lethargic. I took him to his regular vet, where X-rays showed stones filling his bladder and cluttering his urethra — so many that surgery appeared the only choice.
They catheterized him again and sent him home with me for the night before returning him for surgery this morning.
This morning, Ace, who is 10, woke me up early, with the clicking of his claws on the hardwood floor as he trotted from room to room, as he does when he needs to go out. This time he was dripping blood, or bloody urine, in every room of the house.
He eagerly hopped in the car for the trip to the vet, but balked a little about going inside. Either he knew something was up, or didn’t want to face another catheterization. He balked again when it came time to say goodbye and walk off with the vet tech.
Now I am back home, cleaning up blood and waiting for the phone call. The vet’s biggest concern is the stones that may or may not remain in his urethra after yesterday’s catheterization — the urethra, in boy dogs, being a circuitous tube that is prone to problems. He hopes to be able to flush any of those out without having to slice into that area.
Those are the gory details.
Here’s what you can do. Send some positive vibes our way, as many of you have before when my aging dog or my aging self have faced medical uncertainties. I, in exchange, will keep you posted.
No need to write. No need to call. Just think a good thought. I’m not sure I telepathically receive those, but I’m pretty sure Ace does.
Update 1: Ace is out of surgery, which his vet described as the most difficult such operation he has done in his career, due to the amount of stones, particularly those in Ace’s urethra. He managed to clear them all out. Ace is still under the influence of general anesthesia, and it’s not clear yet whether he will be coming home tonight. We’ll be making that call in a couple of hours. Deepest thanks to Dr. Raymond Morrison at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, to all those who commented here and on my Facebook page, and everyone else who has kept my big ol’ dog in their thoughts.
Update 2: Ace isn’t getting up and around, so he’ll be staying at the animal hospital tonight. Plans are to pick him up tomorrow.
Update 3: Ace is still at the animal hospital, as of Thursday. Vets say they want to monitor him throughout the day, but that I can pick him up this evening.
Whether its lowering our blood pressure, upping our oxytocin (that hormone that makes us feel warm and fuzzy), or keeping us sane (no small task), you can bet there’s a study underway at some university somewhere seeking to unravel — and dryly present to us — more hard evidence of yet another previously mysterious way that dogs enhance our well-being.
Given that, it’s a nice change of pace to plunge into a more anecdotal account — one that looks at the near magical mental health benefits one woman reaped through her dog, and does so with candor and humor, as opposed to sappiness.
“Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself” is a book that shows, far better than any scientific study, just how valuable — no, make that priceless — the human-dog bond is.
The memoir spans a year in the life of the author, Julie Barton, starting when, just one year out of college and living in Manhattan, she had what we used to call a “nervous breakdown.”
A barely coherent phone call from her kitchen floor brought her mother racing to her side from Ohio to take her home.
Barton was diagnosed with major depression — one that didn’t seem to lift, despite the best efforts of family, doctors, therapists and the pharmaceutical industry. She spent entire days in bed, refusing to get up.
Around the same time doctors started her on Zoloft, Barton told her mother she’d like to get a dog. Her mother thought that was a great idea. A few weeks later, they were bringing home a golden retriever pup. Barton named him Bunker.
On that first night, Bunker started whimpering in his crate, and Barton crawled inside with him:
“It occurred to me as I gently stroked his side that this was the first time in recent memory that I was reassuring another living thing. And, miraculously, I knew in that moment that I was more than capable of caring for him. I felt enormously driven to create a space for Bunker that felt safe, free of all worry, fear and anxiety. For the first time in a long time, I felt as if I had a purpose.”
Barton’s depression didn’t lift overnight; it never does. But, as the artfully written story unravels, Bunker gives Barton the confidence she needs to start a new life on her own in Seattle.
The are plenty of bumps ahead, and more than a few tests, but, given we’re recommending you read it for yourself, we won’t divulge them here.
Or you can wait for the next scientific study that comes along, proclaiming — in heartless, soulless prose — to prove one way or another what we already know:
Dogs are good for the heart and soul.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 24th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, benefits, bond, book, books, books on dogs, bunker, dog books, dog medicine, golden retriever, health, humans, julie barton, memoir, mental health, nurture, nurturin, pets, reading, rescue, science, studies, thinkpiece publishing
Actress Jennifer Beals was confronted by a citizen for leaving her dog in a parked car in West Vancouver.
The 51-year-old actress, best known for her starring role in 1983’s “Flashdance,” left the dog in her Ford Escape Wednesday, reports Canada’s Global News.
A passerby saw the dog in the vehicle, with a passenger-side window open a few inches, and called authorities.
When Beals returned after about five minutes, before police arrived, the man told her leaving the dog in the car wasn’t safe.
Beals, who is in Vancouver shooting a TV series, assured the man everything was fine and drove off.
She later defended her actions. “I am not only a loving dog owner but a discerning one,” she told USA TODAY in a statement.
“The morning was a cool 73 degrees. I, and others, were wearing jackets. I rolled all four windows down and left the car for five minutes to pick up my laundry with my car visible to me the entire time.”
She says she was curious when she returned to find a crowd milling around her car.
“I wondered why two people congregated around my car taking pictures of my (dog). Proud mama thought it was because she’s so gorgeous. While I appreciate their vigilance and what must have felt like courage on their part, they were barking up the wrong tree.”
Marcie Moriarty of the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said, even on a day when temperatures reached no more than 77 degrees, dogs shouldn’t be left in parked cars.
“Definitely not. Not in this sort of heat,” she said. “That’s a German Shepard-type dog it looks like … they’re already carrying a coat on them. In this temperature, I don’t think that would necessarily create the type of cooling effect that would ever be sufficient.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 31st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, british columbia, cars, confronted vnacouver, dog, dogs, flashdance, health, heat, jennifer beals, parked cars, safety, spca, warning
The product was sold in retail stores in North Carolina, Ohio, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Washington, according to the FDA.
The potential for contamination was noted after a Colorado Department of Agriculture inspection of the product revealed the presence of Salmonella, the FDA said in a press release.
Production of the bully sticks has been suspended while FDA and the company continue their investigation into the source of the problem.
While no illnesses have been reported so far, the company says the product can make dogs sick, as well as humans who touch it. Infected animals can be carriers and infect other animals or people.
Symptoms of salmonella in pets include lethargy, diarrhea, fever and vomiting.
The Tremenda Sticks pet chews in question come in a 12-ounce bag with UPC number 851265004957 but with no lot number or expiration date. The company says products with new packaging, which includes both a lot number and expiration date but the same UPC, are not affected by this recall.
The Natural Dog Company, based in Windsor, Ohio, says unused treats may be returned for a full refund.
Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-888-424-4602.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bully sticks, chews, contamination, dog, dog food, dogs, fda, health, natural dog company, pet, recall, safety, salmonella, treats, tremenda, tremenda sticks
The potentially deadly strain of the dog flu that has sickened thousands of dogs nationwide has made its way to North Carolina.
Two dogs in Asheville and one dog in Winston-Salem were confirmed to have the H3N2 virus at the end of last week, and state officials suspect more than 200 dogs in the state may also be infected.
The confirmed case in Winston-Salem is that of a 10-year-old German shepherd that belongs to Dr. Sandra McAvoy of Abri Veterinary Hospital, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
McAvoy believes Zalea might have gotten the virus from a dog she was fostering for the Forsyth County Humane Society.
The humane society closed its doors Thursday due to concerns about the virus and expects to remain closed for at least 10 days.
Most dogs recover from the sickness within two to three weeks, but secondary bacterial infections can develop and cause more severe illness and pneumonia.
Dog flu is not transmittable to humans, according to the Center for Disease Control. Humans can, however, spread it from an infected dog to an uninfected dog.
The symptoms include cough, runny nose and fever. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite and low-grade fever, officials said.
The state is also testing samples from a cluster of dogs in Greensboro that are showing similar symptoms.
“All dogs are at risk because this is something new, they’ve never been exposed,” said McAvoy. “They don’t have any natural immunity to it. So it’s probably going to run a course and then down the road we’re going to have immune dogs, down the road we’re going to have vaccines so the dogs will be vaccinated and they won’t get it.”
As for Zalea, she’s recovering from pneumonia and McAvoy is hopeful she’ll to pull through.
Two percent of the dogs that have contracted the virus have died.
A state Agriculture Department website is tracking the cases, and features more information and resources for pet owners.
(Photo: Zalea, the German shepherd who was one of the first dogs in North Carolina to be diagnosed with the H3N2 virus; from 13NewsNow.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, asheville, dog flu, dogs, flu, forsyth humane society, h3n2, health, north carolina, pets, safety, shelter, symptoms, vet, veterinary, winston-salem, zalea
The test results are in: Those stones in Ace’s bladder — the ones that clogged him up and made for a scary weekend — are of the struvite variety.
That’s good news. Struvite stones, unlike calcium oxalate stones, are commonly treated by switching to a prescription diet — rather than surgery.
With a little luck, things will continue to flow through his bladder as freely as Niagara Falls (pictured above), which he visited a few years back.
He seems to like it anyway.
I am to continue monitoring his urine stream (given I have nothing better to do), make sure he drinks plenty of water, and hope that the stones remaining in his bladder decompose and exit his body smoothly and without incident.
Struvite stones are often the result of infections, but most experts say one’s choice of dog food — particularly choosing a dry food that’s high in grain — can also be the culprit.
I don’t want to blame the Beneful he has been eating for the past four years, even though the Purina product is being blamed for far worse these days — so much so that I was contemplating a switch already.
I’m hoping he doesn’t have to stay on the Urinary SO for too long. The vet’s office recommended four cans a day for a dog of his size. It costs more than $3 per can. That amounts to more than I spend at the grocery to feed my own self.
In a compromise, the vet’s office said I could mix in some Urinary SO dry food, which costs slightly less.
Maybe, in the future — once we’re done with Urinary SO — I’ll return him to a raw diet. The years he was on that seemed to be his healthiest.
Since his Saturday emergency, when a catheter was used to get things flowing again, he has been peeing freely and abundantly. You might see it differently, but to me that, like the falls, is a glorious sight to behold.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bladder stones, diet, dog, dog food, dogs, health, pets, prescription, prescription diet, struvite, urinary, veterinary