Monday, July 29, 2013

Weasley's Mini Me

On Saturday we got a package from across the pond.  All the way from our friends Dip-Dip, Bridgette, and Elliot.  The package had a mini-me! A tiny little Weasley.


 The mini-me even has a little Gryfyndor scarf to honor Weasley's name sack, Harry Potter character Ronald Weasley.  The mini-me is now resting comfortably in mom's Harry Potter shrine:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Weasley vs Nagini

For Norbert's 11th birthday we got him the coolest toy ever a giant snake, over five feet long.  You can read about it in this post. Now Norbert likes his toy but its Weasley who loves the snake and battles with him every day.  Size be damned.

Note: If you are not a Harry Potter fan you might not know that Nagini is the evil snake familiar of the Lord Voldermort.  Since Weasley is named after Ron Weasley, Harry Potter's best friend and my vote for best character in the series, it seemed appropriate to name our snake Nagini.

 PS-We appreciate every ones kind thoughts and well wishes for Ping's health.  So far so good she is feeling absolutely fine and we are waiting to talk to the nutritionist and the University of Tennessee Veterinary school about starting a home made liver diet, hopefully we can get that done next week.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Decisions, Decisions-Deciding What To Do When Faced With a Chronic Illness in a Pet Or Ping and her Liver

 "I had to come away because the family were shooting me off to Harrogate to chaperone my Uncle George, whose liver had been giving him the elbow again."  Bertie Wooster

I included the above quote because recently Ping's liver has been giving her the elbow and I'm not too happy about it as its not good news for Ping and it means making decisions and putting together a wellness plan.   If there is one thing that cheers me up its a dose of P.G. Wodehouse and his most brilliant creation Bertie Wooster.

Personally I hate making medical decisions and I'm obsessive so I tend to spend hours weighing every option.    Ping's problem is also one we would not have caught it we weren't vigilant about every 6 month wellness exams for all of our Pets over seven years old, prior to that age we do exams yearly.  At the exams we make sure to have complete blood work and at least once a year we do a urine test and thyroid test.  

Ping's tests have revealed that over the last two years her liver enzymes have been rising.  First they were high normal, then slightly over normal, and then in June they spiked to significantly higher.   Since all of Ping's liver enzymes were elevated it was unlikely to be an anomaly and further tested was indicated.  If only one of a dog's liver enzymes are elevated its less of a cause of concern.  I made sure to do my own reading up on elevated liver enzymes on the dog aware website since I have noticed that vets, just like human doctor's, are very varying in their recomendations.   One vet at my practice what quite alarmist, another down played the issue, and the third my favorite said test further but don't panic since Ping is in no distress.   We got Ping a liver ultrasound at a specialist, its important to know that unless a vet is trained in reading ultrasounds they are not equipped to understand what they seen in the images, so make sure to ask what their experience and training with the machine is.   The ultrasound revealed an enlarged liver and problems with the liver's texture, but no overt signs of cancer.   Basically Ping's liver was sick but no one knew exactly why, so again we went with further testing.  Ping had a bile acids test which revealed her liver was not functioning properly.  Her numbers where in the moderate range, generally a pet feels and acts fine until less 20% of their liver is functioning and they are in liver failure.   Another reason regular bloodwork so important.

At this point we face a conundrum.  We still were not exactly sure why Ping's liver was having trouble, since the liver performs many functions there is a lot that can go wrong with this organ.   The first vet I spoke too, not my absolulte favorite vet at my practice, recomend a liver biopsy.  An invasive procedure done at a specialist hospital that involved anesthesia and removing a piece of a pet's liver for testing.  This procedure is not without risks and is very expensive.  The benefit of the procedure is that it is likely, but not guaranteed to, give you a definitive diagonosis.   However, as treatment options for liver disease are limited it is not necessarily going to provide a clear treatment plan.  In the past I would have likely immediately decided on doing the procedure, but as I've gotten older I've become more inclined to ask questiosn and do research.  I made sure to read online about pets and liver disease and to ask the vet questions.   I discovered that as Ping has not been poisined and is not suffering from acute liver failure, this comes on quickly and the dog is violently ill, and is not on any medications there is no substance that we can work on removing from her environment to make her well.   Since she is not one of the effected breeds, primarily Dobermans and certain types of terriers,  she is highly unlikely to have Copper Hepatopathy a disease in which copper accumulates in the dogs liver.  

This left essentially two options for what is wrong with Ping.  The first, and thankfully most unlikely, is liver cancer of an unusual type as there are no masses visible on ultrasound in Ping's liver or other signs of cancer in her body.   The second, and most likely, is chronic hepatatis related to her advancing years, Ping is ten.  While dogs livers are not the most common organ to worsen with age they can.   There is no way to reverse or stop this process but its progress can be slowed with a liver diet and vitamins.   Based on this we are going to consult with a nutritionist at the university of Tennessee and begin adding more supplements to protect Ping's liver, she is already on a few.   My favorite vet is in agreement with this plan and was opposed to the idea of a liver biopsy as being to risky.   He seems to think that with this plan and a bit of luck we can have Ping with us for quite a while longer.  However, if we had not caught the disease when we did the situation would be quite different, Ping would have shown symptoms only when in liver failure and at that point treatment would have been unlikely to sustain her life for very long.   The moral of the story: don't forget to do regular wellness exam with blood work, every 6 month for seniors, and don't forget to do research and ask questions!  (Also thanks to all the wonderful pet parents on the internet who gave me great advice while making this decision). 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Blueberry Peanut Butter Oatballs

Did you know that July is national blueberry month?  The perfect time to make a blueberry treat for your canine companion.  Blueberries are full  of nutritional benefits for dogs as well as humans.  They are loaded with cancer fighting antioxidants and high in fiber.  Blueberries also have brain boosting properties, especially important for senior dogs that may be having memory problems.  For national blueberry month I decided to make the dogs very simple blueberry cookies.  I used a simple method for making peanut butter and oat cookies as my base for the treats.

Weasley eyeing a plate of blueberry cookies.

Blueberry Peanut Butter Oat Balls

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  •  1 cup peanut butter, preferably all natural
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  •  1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup Zukes Mini Naturals Peanut Butter Treats, or other small soft peanut butter treat (optional)  
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grind 2 cups of the oats in the food processor to make a course flour.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.  Add the remaining cup of oats to to the bowl.  Heat the peanut butter in the microwave on a low setting until soft and runny.  Add the peanut butter, oil, warm water, and maple syrup or honey to the bowl with the oats and stir will.   Fold in the blueberries and the peanut butter treats if using.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a spoon to scoop out small pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly.  You may need two baking sheets.   Bake for 10 minutes until the  bottoms of the cookies are a golden brown.  Cool and serve.

The Finished Treats

If you are interested in a blueberry treat for humans I wrote about one on my vintage style blog, The Old Fashioned Way.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Product Review-Cycle Dog Collar

Our dad is pretty crazy about bicycles, he bikes to and from work every day and most weekends mom and dad bike around Manhattan, Jersey City, or Brookly.  Right now our living room has four bicycles in it.   In fact our house almost as much bicycle stuff as dog stuff, not quite but almost.  That is was why mom was intrigued when she heard about Cycle Dog.  The earth friendly company takes old bicycle tubes destined for landfills and recycles them into dog toys, collars, and leashes.  This is a great use of bicycle tubes wish sadly often wind up languishing in land fills, a real source of frustration for environment loving cyclists.

 Mom selected a silver reflective pup top collar for Weasley, being a playful young guys he is kind of tough on his collars and his fabric ones have gotten rather dirty even with washing.

This collar is also easier to clean then many of the fabric ones mom has purchased and Weasley looks great in it, plus the reflectiveness is a nice safety feature for after dark walks.

 A final really cool feature of the Cycle Dog Pup Top collar is that it comes with a bottle opener!  Now your peeps can easily use your collar to open an ice cold brew or a soda.   

Very refreshing on a hot day!

The Cycle Dog Collar retails for about $25.00, and is available on Amazon which is where mom got Weasley's.  We give the collars a four paw rating and recommend them enthusiastically.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Big and Little

Ping Update: Thanks so much for all of your well wishes.  Ping's reports are good.  She feels fine and there is no sign of cancer in her liver.   She does have an inflamed liver, the result of an unknown chronic problem.  On Saturday she gets a bile acids test to see how her liver is functioning.    Hopefully, it will be good news.  My vet feels we will probably never know why her liver is having these problems, but that if we can monitor it then she can be OK for a long time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Power of the Paw for Ping

Poor Ping is having troubles.  Her liver enzymes are very elevated, and though she behaves normally and is in no discomfort she needs additional tests.  We had an ultrasound yesterday and the Doctor told me he saw no overt signs of cancer though her liver is enlarged.  We get a more detailed report tomorrow and we have our paws crossed.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Historical Hounds- Rags The WWI Hero

Image Source

Sunday marks an important event in canine military history.   On July 14, 1918 a small scruffy terrier mix named for his resemblance to a pile of abandoned rags was adopted as the mascot of the US 1st Infantry Division serving in Montmarte Paris during WWI.  Rags was found by an American soldier, Private James Donovan, who was serving on the front lines.   

Rags quickly charmed the soldiers with his cleverness and bravery.  Donovan taught him to salute the flag and perform other amusing tricks, a welcome diversion from the blood shed on the front lines.    Rags keen hearing meant that he could hear attacks coming before the soldiers and he would lay flat on his belly which warned the soldiers of the incoming artillery.  Most important, Donovan trained Rags to carry messages on his collar and the little dog delivered notes back and forth between the soldiers.  In July of 1918 Donovan's infantry was surrounded by Germans and Rags saved the day by sneaking out and delivering a message that resulted in Allied reinforcements coming to rescue the men.  Rags heroic rescue led to him being officially made the mascot of the division.

Sadly in October of 1918 Rags and Donovan where both injured in a German attack and suffered from gas poisoning.  They were treated in the same hospital in France and Rags made a remarkable full recovery, however Donovan was still very ill.  Eventually both Rags and Donovan where sent back to the US to Chicago where Donovan entered a hospital that specialized in treating victims of gas attack and Rags moved into the Fort Sheridan military base.  Sadly like many WWI soldiers Donovan could not recover from his injuries and died in 1919.  Rags continued to live at the base and was looked after by the many soldiers who knew of his bravery and special relationship with Donovan. 

In 1920 Rags was adopted by Major Raymond W. Hardenbergh, his wife, and two daughters who where charmed by the little dog.  Rags lived a remarkable additional 14 years before passing away in 1936 at the age of 20.   Rags was buried with military honors in Silver Srings, Maryland near Hardenbergh's home and a memorial was erected in his honor. 

Proof positive that a small dog can do great big things!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Norbert!

This weekend we celebrated Norberts 11th birthday, the date is guestimated but we know he is 11.   Its a scary age because there is no denying that particularly for a big dog Norbert is old.  We are lucky that he is in good health and his Adequan injections seem to be helping with his mild arthritis.  We are hopeful that we have many more wonderful birthdays left with our big boy, but we wanted to make this one extra special.

Unfortunately the day did not start out as planned.  When we woke up we saw this:
 Our neighbors tree had fallen in front of our gate blocking us from getting our car out.  This prevented the early morning walk and picnic we had planned.  Luckily Norbert's dad was able to go out on his bike and get Norbert a special birthday Bagel, which he really enjoyed, probably even more then a cake.


 After Norbert finished his bagel the fire department came and moved the tree and we were able to get out.

 By now it was VERY hot so we had to cut Norbert's walk short.  We decided to head to his favorite store Canis Minor.  We walked past the elephant sprinklers, nice for a wade.
 The store is pretty big and has lots of neat toys and treats.

 After shopping we went for a little walk in the shady section of the neighborhood.

 Norbert posed with his present choices a giant snake and some turkey treats.

 When we got home Norbert got the rest of his presents, Wagatha's senior biscuits and a planet dog senior ball.  You can read our review of Wagatha's here.

 The Planet Dog senior ball is softer then their other balls so its easier on older teeth and jaws.

 The giant snake was the best toy of all its bigger then Norbert at over five feet long.

Weasley in particular likes the giant snake.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

English Summer in a Glass

If you read this blog or have looked at the title, then you know that I live in the big city. Here are some of the sites we routinely see:

The NYC skyline (not that near our house but its a pretty sight).

Our tiny concrete carport back yard.


And our porch, (apologies for he super old picture.)

However, I wish I lived here:

That is why in the summer one of my favorite drinks is the summeriest, Englishiest thing out there, it could almost transport you to the English cottage of your dreams.

Pimm's Cup

2 ounces Pimm's Number 1 liquor
Lemonade, preferably fizzy lemonade
small handful mint, chopped
Cucumber Sliced and one long spear
Orange Slice

Fill a tall glass with ice.  Add 2 ounces of Pimms and top with Lemonade.   Put in the mint, cucumber, and orange slices.  Stir it up with a cucumber spear.  Yum!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Victorian Bell Collars from Linden Line Designs

This product review is WAY overdue, and its a great product so I don't know what took me so long.  For Ping's 10th birthday in May we got her a lovely red Victorian Bell Collar from Linden Line Designs,  Tubby already has the sage green version.

The collars are modeled after the traditional bell collars worn by pugs during the Victorian Era.

The collars are frequently seen on antique pug figurines.

 Linden Line designs updated the collars for the 21st century and named the in honor of their adorable spokes pug, Skippy Wu, now sadly passed on.

The pugs are a fantastic piece of puggie history for any pug or pug lover.  Ping loves hers and she looks lovely in it.