Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


She’s home

She’s home!

Sidney, post-surgery

She’s a little wobbly on her legs, but Sidney seems to be doing ok. Her tail is bleeding through the stitches, but there doesn’t appear to be any bleeding from the second surgical site. She’s got painkiller and antibiotics, so she’s good to go.

The vet still recommends testing for Cushing’s in a few weeks after Sidney has healed from the surgery.


Missing my dog today

It’s awfully quiet around the house today. Though Sidney doesn’t bark much, I keep listening for the clicks of her claws on the linoleum or her chain hitting the side of her food dish.

Sidney’s having surgery today to remove two growths — one from chronic inflammation and one a benign tumor. We recently sought out a second opinion after the regular vet’s office suspected Cushing’s disease. Some quick research revealed Cushing’s is common among older dogs.

We were skeptical, however, because the vet had never even seen Sidney, only blood work. So, being like good parents’, we sought another opinion. The second vet said Sidney did not display the usual characteristics of a Cushingoid dog — pot-belly, sway back — but said a particular enzyme, another tell-tale sign, was elevated. I asked if a particular supplement she took would have increased the enzyme level, but learned that the supplement is used to decrease enzyme production.

Sidney is also a thirsty dog and has trouble getting up onto the bed. And, recently, she’s started to lose a bit of fur in random places. All are potential signs of Cushing’s. Though some of those symptoms could be attributed to her thyroid, her recent blood work showed her levels were fine and we were to continue at the current dosage of her soloxine.

The vet suggested either waiting and keeping an eye on Sidney or to proceed with testing for Cushing’s. While conducting the physical, however, she found a couple of growths. She suggested testing tissue samples before moving onto looking for a Cushing’s diagnosis. If any were cancerous, we would need to discuss other measures before tackling potential endrocrine issues.

Luckily, the tumors were benign and we scheduled the pup for surgery. Allowing the growths to become larger would make it more difficult to remove in the future. We still need to decide on whether to test for Cushing’s. If the test(s) comes back positive and we start Sidney on a new regimen, she may experience some side effects. The vet said many dogs have trouble tolerating the drugs.

Right now, we’re waiting to bring Sid home this evening and planning to pamper her while she heals. I’m afraid she’ll be sent home with a cone around her neck. That’ll just be insult to injury since we couldn’t give her breakfast this morning.


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Old dogs and their problems

I’m currently thinking of ways to accommodate our aging pup so that she gets the extra attention she needs, as well as, we get the sleep we need.

Several months ago, maybe even a bit more than a year, Sidney started acting like it hurt to jump up into the car. She chose to crawl into the car instead. If I recall correctly, the vet said it was due to lyme disease flare ups. Sidney was given some antibiotics and some pain killer. After that, she would act gingerly on occasion, but was back to her old self.

In the past few months, it seems Sidney’s always crawling into the car or onto the couch. She misses the bed more than she makes it. Chris or I usually have to pick her up. When this problem first started, she’d growl and bark until one of us picked her up. One night she did this five times. Why she didn’t just stay on the bed, I have no idea.

On a walk back in the summer, Sidney jumped up onto a footbridge and immediately collapsed. It seemed she’d hurt her back leg or hip. Chris was concerned of hip dysplasia and wanted to take her to the vet immediately. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, I told him that the vet office wouldn’t be open. It wasn’t. Plus, I said, there isn’t much a vet can do for dysplasia, sprains or other joint or muscle pain except give her pain pills.

So we googled remedies for hip dysplasia, and, sure enough, there isn’t much medical help for this problem. We decided, though, to buy her an orthopedic bed. So, instead of running the errands we planned to do after the walk, we went in search of a bed. Chris was afraid Sidney wouldn’t know what it was since she’d never used one, but after just a few days, she was using the bed most of the night. Now, instead of starting on the bed and moving to the floor, Sidney pretty much sleeps on the bed through the night. Unless, of course, she’s asked to join us on the family bed.

This grainy photo was taken in August on the day we bought Sidney her new bed.

This grainy photo was taken in August on the day we bought Sidney her new bed. She looks a little uneasy.

We also started feeding her dog treats made with chondroitin. I’m skeptical if they work, but she enjoys the treats and it seemed to help with her supposed joint pain. She was also more willing to go on walks, which meant I didn’t feel like I was dragging her behind me. I can’t say it was due to the treats, but she’s been out of the treats for about a month and she’s started moving slowly again. (Here’s some research on the effects of chondroitin and glucosamine that suggest that they help people with moderate to severe arthritis pain. The vets have told us they don’t notice any arthritis in Sidney’s joints.)

Another problem has now cropped up. Two times we’ve woken up to find Sidney has urinated in front of the door. Chris started taking her out for an extra evening outing before bed. That’s taken care of the accidents, but now she wakes us up around 4:30 a.m. every day to go outside. And, if we’re lucky to go back to sleep, she wakes us back up around 5:30 or so for her breakfast. She used to wait until 6 a.m., when the alarm goes off.

So, now I’m trying to figure out how to get her to sleep in a little longer. Maybe push our bedtimes back by half an hour or so? Is it time for a trip to the vet for medication? I’ve been researching solutions this morning. Here are two links about behavioral and physical changes in older dogs. They don’t seem to offer any help except advice to see the vet.


Shelley Lake Park, Raleigh, N.C.

Shelley Lake Park in Raleigh, N.C., is a great place to take a stroll or, as many people were on a recent visit, jog.

The small lake is surrounded by trees and a 2+ miles of trails, including sections of a greenway. Walking around the lake we saw ducks, geese, turtles and, possibly, cormorants. The cormorants could also have been herons; the birds were far away and hard to see.

There are also basketball courts, a playground, a boat house and an art center (Sertoma Arts Center) located in the park.

Great place to take a stroll with the family on a weekday afternoon!

(Sorry, no photos to share this time!)


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Country Park and Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

While in Greensboro, we visited Country Park and Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.

I used to walk around Country Park’s paved trail during the few months I lived in Greensboro several years ago. The paved trail is hilly and winds around man made lakes.
Many families, walkers, dog owners and bikers use this trail. There are paddle boats, fishing, playgrounds and picnic shelters.

What I consider the main entrance is north of the Natural Science Center’s parking lot on Lawndale Drive, so it was a nice addition to our trip to the science center. (There’s also a second entrance located south of the science center. The park runs behind the center.)
From Country Park, we walked along a trail that connects to the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. This national park has a paved walking, biking and driving trail and some dirt trails through woods on the property.
Throughout the park there are monuments, grave stones and interpretive signs commemorating the Revolutionary War battle here. The Battle of Guilford Courthouse weakened Cornwallis’ army and he surrendered several months later in Yorktown, Va.


Dogfest, Level Cross, N.C.

I got a press release this week about the 13th Annual Dogfest at the Level Cross Community Center (N.C.).

It’ll be 1-4:30 p.m.Oct. 17 at the center — 112 Branson Mill Road, Randleman. Take the Level Cross Exit, which is north of Randleman and south of Greensboro off of U.S. 220.

This is a fundraiser for the Humane Society of the Piedmont and Ruff Love Foster Care and Dog Rescue. It’s also used to raise awareness of homeless and abused animals and encourage spaying and neutering.

There will be several activities for families and their four-legged friends, including a costume contest, face painting and pumpkin decorating.

Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under. Children 2 and younger get in free.