Traveling Dog Lady: June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

5 Do-It-Yourself Ways to Test Your Senior Pet's Health Status

I've been wearing my veterinary hat this past week with Hobie (and Charlie Brown who got stung by a horsefly -- OUCH!).  [No, I'm not a veterinarian - just a pet mom doing the best she can.] Hobie had some kind of "attack" the other night, and we really thought we were going to lose him.  I feel that we saved his life, and we were given a great gift -- more time with our beloved senior dog.

I've had a ton of experience (and am so lucky to be able to say that) with senior pets.  But it's been a while, and this sort of snuck up on us.  Suddenly Hobie is "old".  We haven't had a senior pet since Maggie.  It took me a minute to get up to speed again!  Hobie needs me. There are things that need to be done that no one else but I will do. He communicates with me, and I know what he's trying to say. No one else has that connection.

My buddy needs me, and I'd do anything for him.  It means giving up my summer vacations and trips to Cape Cod this summer.  It means sticking close to home and taking a "stay-cation".  It means sleeping on the couch, in case he needs to relieve himself in the middle of the night.  He is not able to bark.  We think he may have "lar-par" (laryngeal paralysis).  We will be having that checked out by the vet, and if he is a candidate for lar-par surgery, perhaps it will improve his quality of life.  He can't wag his tail because of paralysis in his spine.  His back legs collapse, sometimes.  Sometimes he slowly spins in circles with one leg "stuck", almost like a painful-to-watch ballet pirouette.  But he's happy.  He is always with us, right in the middle of the room, "where the action is".  He isn't hiding in a corner, brooding or depressed.  He greets us at the door, even if the other boys knock him over in their enthusiasm.  He gets up, dusts himself off, and participates.  He reminds me when it's time for his medicine!  He is not ready to die.

Today (and it isn't even cool outside) the darned dog walked up the long stairway from the backyard up onto the deck!   He hasn't been able to do that for a couple of weeks.  He still cannot go DOWN the stairs.  I carry him out the front door (only 4 steps) and we walk to the back yard.  It's our together time, twice a day. This morning,  I turned my back for a second, and there he was up on top of the deck! The little bugger!  So, yeah, he's having a good day.

A few people have told me we should euthanize our dog.  One was just someone who doesn't get it -- that this is a member of our family! You don't just "kill the dog" because the dog has become an inconvenience.  Others are fellow dog parents who have had to go through it themselves. Everyone wagging their finger at me, telling me not to be selfish.  Me?  Selfish?  Sorry, but I am one of the most un-selfish people I know, and people are always telling me how un-selfish I am.  So, no, it is not Hobie's time yet, and when it is, we will "do the right thing".  We will do what is best for the dog.

We are not beginners at pet parenting, far from it.  We've had a lot of elderly pets.  But as hard as it is to believe, we've never had to euthanize any of our many (many!) pets.  They've all been taken by mother nature (or, in two cases, accidents) before we had to make that decision.  Sometimes on the eve of the decision... "I'll call the vet in the morning..."the animal passes away in the night.  We've been blessed not to have had to make this decision. It's clear to me that, probably because Hobie is the one I've loved the most, he's going to be "the one" that we will have to make the decision for.  And I dread it, I will not lie about that.  But not today.  Today is a good day.

Wondering how to determine if my pet needs euthanasia, I started searching around online.  Experts say there are five things you should keep track of, and if any of these become problematic that requires you to evaluate your pet's quality of life.  Evaluate these things daily, and keep a journal.  Remember that pets sometimes "rally" or bounce back, only to have a terrible day the next day.  Here are the five quality-of-life signs you should watch out for:

  • Peeing
  • Pooping
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Playing

The first four (peeing, pooping, eating and drinking) are going great for Hobie.  The last one, Playing, was difficult to determine because he's always been one of these dogs who doesn't really play.  He "kills" toys instead of playing with them.  He's a relatively "serious" dog, even as a puppy he was like that.  But, I picked up one of the other boys' antlers off the floor and held it up.  Hobie came lumbering over and grabbed it in his jaws!  Check!  Yep, playing!

We get another day with Hobie today.  A gift.  And it's a good day.  He's calm.  He's in a cool spot in the house.  His ears are forward and his eyes are alert.  He ate breakfast.  He has fresh water.  We took our walk together from the front yard, to the back yard.  Then, dog-gone it, he climbed the stairs!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Give Pets a Fresh Start with PetFresh

I'm not being compensated for this post.  FreshPet sent out a press release that they are helping the Sochi dogs that were rescued by Olympic skier, Gus Kenworthy, so I'm just passing it along.  I feed the boys FreshPet, mixed in with their regular food (Nature's Recipe).  I like the limited ingredients of both products.  "Keep it simple!"  Again, I'm not getting any money or anything for posting this, except I AM going to sign up and get those coupons mentioned below. My readers can get them, too.  That's basically why they sent the press release to me, so that I could tell you.  I found it a little difficult to find, so I'm going to post the full link here:

Freshpet® Gives Sochi Pups a Fresh Start
The Freshpet Fresh Start Program Brings the Power of Fresh Food to Pets

Secaucus, NJ (June, 2014) – Freshpet, maker of fresh, refrigerated dog and cat food in Bethlehem, PA, offers a Fresh Start to three well-deserving pups rescued from Sochi, Russia. Gus Kenworthy, Olympic Slopestyle Skier, was so touched after witnessing the multitude of stray dogs in Sochi, he brought a mom and her pups home with him after his silver medal win. Freshpet was there to help, and is supplying Gus and his new family with unlimited Freshpet food and treats and Whistle Activity Monitors to keep track of them as they grow up healthy and strong. Pet parents can follow along at home every step of the way as Gus shares his dogs’ journeys to a happy, healthier life on

“Mama and her pups were living off of scraps that people would bring as they lived on the streets,” said Gus Kenworthy. “It’s amazing to see how much their health has improved in just a few, short months. I really started to notice a difference when I switched them over to Freshpet. They are so excited to eat and have so much energy now. I can’t even get a snack out of the fridge for myself without them standing there in front of the fridge hoping for more!”

The Sochi pups are part of the new Freshpet Fresh Start program that encourages pet parents to incorporate more fresh, all natural food into their pets’ diets and see for themselves what the power of fresh can do. Freshpet believes feeding fresh can make all the difference at any age – shinier coats, increased energy, and improved digestion are just a few of the positive health changes one can expect.

Freshpet is making it easy for all pet parents to give their dogs and cats a Fresh Start. Simply visit to receive a coupon, downloadable scorecard to track your pet’s health improvements over time, and helpful tips from Dr. Katy Nelson, veterinary nutrition expert.  And because Freshpet believes every pet deserves fresh, for each Fresh Start participant they will donate a fresh meal to the Humane Society International.

“Every day we hear amazing stories from pet parents about how feeding fresh has drastically improved, and sometimes even saved, their pet’s life,” says Courtney Groome, Freshpet Director of Marketing. “The Fresh Start program invites others to give fresh a try and see the real differences it can make to your pet’s health both inside and out.”

What makes fresh food so different? All Freshpet recipes start with fresh, locally sourced meats and veggies. The ingredients are then gently cooked, not processed, in small batches at lower temperatures to retain essential vitamins and nutrients. Freshpet meals never contain fillers, by-products, meals or artificial preservatives. That’s why you’ll only find them in the fridge.

About Freshpet
Freshpet has a single-mined mission – to bring the power of fresh, real food to dogs and cats. And, they are committed to doing so in ways that are good for pets, for the people who love them, and for the planet we live on. That’s why all Freshpet recipes are thoughtfully prepared in the Freshpet Kitchens in Bethlehem, PA, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. To learn more, visit

Freshpet brands include Freshpet® Select and Dog Joy® available in select grocery and mass-market stores; Vital® and Dog Nation® available in select pet specialty stores; and Nature’s Fresh™ available in select natural food stores.
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Monday, June 2, 2014

It's June! Prepare your dog for summer fun!

June is dog license renewal month around here, and I've actually had the new licenses in my purse since March, but decided I'd better put them on since the old ones are set to expire in a week or two.

Cooper has never worn a license before.  The reason is, with his disability, he doesn't go more than two feet away from me at any given time, and he is microchipped, and with all that HOPPING it sounds like jingle bells!  But today, I figured I would give it another try. I put his license on, and Charlie immediately started running around the house, barking, thinking there was a strange dog outside, every time Cooper moved.  So, that lasted about 30 minutes, and I'd had enough.  No license on Cooper!

Charlie Brown and Hobie, on the other hand, always have their licenses on. This is because Charlie is a master escape artist.  From the very first moment he lived here, he found the ONLY hole in the fence and left!  Ever since then, it's been a regular event to make a section of fence higher, repair a gate, pile bushes and rocks against loose or open areas, and repair, repair, repair.  Thankfully, he doesn't go anywhere. He just likes to be wherever I am, and if I go off for a walk without him, he will try to join me.

Old pic of the pack... on Cooper's gotcha day!  He fit right in.

As for Hobie, he LOVES long walks but is now hearing-impaired.  A couple months ago, Gil turned his back for a second, and Hobie had walked out onto the main road (which isn't that close to our house)!!  And we thought our senior dog was slow ha ha ha.

We're ready to rock, ma!

Charlie is microchipped, which is an added bonus. Hobie isn't, because back in the day a decade and a half ago, that hadn't really caught on yet.  (Neither did neutering, which means his licensure costs us an additional five bucks a year because he's an intact male.)

Both Hobie's and Charlie's collars smelled like dirty dog times fifty, so off the collars came.  I soaked them in a bucket of water and "Joy" dishwashing liquid, rinsed them off, and now they are drying on the back balcony in the sun.

Once they're dry, I'll put the licenses on, and Charlie's brand-new MobiPet tag, that we won from "Stacey and her crazy dogs" (her phrase, not mine!) at !! Thanks Stacey!!!

Once that is all done, it's time to renew the tick/flea drops.  I HATE using that stuff, but the ticks are so incredibly populous here, nothing else works.  Charlie, Hobie and the late, great Hector all had tick-borne diseases in the past, so we no longer take any chances.  If there's one drawback about living in Massachusetts, especially near the coastline, it's the ticks.  YUCK!!

June also kicks off our travel season to and from Cape Cod.  Although, this year, with Hobie having such health issues, our trips will be curtailed somewhat.  Did I just say Cur-Tailed!!  Why, yes, yes, I did!

Dog is my co-pilot

Don't ever leave your dog in a hot car
(don't worry, that's not what happened here, this is just a funny picture!)

Did someone say RIDE?!  My favorite thing!

So, remember to get your licenses renewed (which usually includes renewed vaccinations -- booo); give your heartworm and flea/tick meds if you need them or live in an area where there is a known problem/epidemic; and make sure your microchip or other tracking devices are up-to-date.

Summer's here!