Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

It’s been long time

I once read an article where the author admonished bloggers for blogging faux pas. Too many photos. Lack of photos. Too much text. Not enough bullets. The author’s list was pretty extensive. Well, readers, I’ve broken one of that author’s rules and I’m about to break another — 1) posting infrequently or on an unpredictable schedule and 2) apologizing for infrequent posting.

So, dear readers, I apologize. I’ve been gone for a very long time. Eight months, if not more. There was only one other time when I fell silent — from February 2012 until a few posts in March 2013 about a trip to Raleigh, N.C.

Both then and now have very similar themes — I lost a dear loved one and needed a break from activities and responsibilities that did not need my energy or attention. I guess you can call it a time of reflection and evaluation. I needed to focus on living without the worry of additional responsibilities. Blogging was certainly not a necessity. It’s a hobby. It doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t help with my education or research. So it took a back seat. I set it aside.

The first extended blog hiatus occurred soon after my grandfather passed away. I grieved for several months and it took a long time before I felt like writing again. Looking back over the blog, I realized how much I enjoyed it and turned back to snapping photos and writing. I enjoy creating and traveling and sharing those experiences with you.

This time, our sweet puppy, Sydney, passed away last May. She was nearly 15 and had been struggling with illness for the past year. Chris and I made the difficult decision of letting her go. She had continued to lose weight at a rapid pace, and she had been on lots of antibiotics for the last month of her life.

Imaging showed she was losing bone mass in a back leg; the same one that had been swollen and painful for months. We never discovered the cause of the infection or the reason for her weight or bone loss. It was time and we didn’t want to expose her to more poking and prodding than she’d already experienced for the past several months.

So, I took a break for blogging again. Only, this time, I debated whether or not to even continue the blog. I would still leave the site up, but I didn’t, and still don’t know, if I would continue writing. Sydney has been a central part of Chris and my life, as you can certainly see from the many trips posted under the Small Travels and Musings section where she is spotlighted in many photos. It will seem odd to travel without our furry “dog”her.

I’ll continue to think about this and may continue to post from once in awhile. Bear with me, dear readers, as I decide what I’m going to do.

Juggling schedules

Classes start next week, so Chris and I have been discussing how we’re going to manage the pup’s care. Specifically, making sure someone will be available to take her outside for a bathroom break and administer her meds during the day.

On some days, Chris could leave mid-morning, especially when he has evening meetings. He’ll be able to take her outside one more time and make sure she receives her midday pill before heading to the office. Within 5 or so hours, I should be back home and will be able to take care of any other needs.

But there are going to be days when Chris can’t arrange to leave later in the morning, and my schedule will not allow me to get home any earlier. So we’re looking for other alternatives. Back-up plans, if you will.

The in-laws have offered to swing by during the lunch hour or to watch Sidney during the day. For them to watch her, Chris will need to drop off and pick up Sidney from the in-laws’ house. It’s a little out of the way and will add to Chris’ hour, one-way commute. People do this daily for child care, so it can’t be that much of an issue, right?

The in-laws can’t, understandably, be available every day. When they can’t help, we may hire a pet sitter. Does anyone have any experience with those? We’re thinking, at most, we might need assistance 2-3 times a week.

I’m hoping in a few weeks my schedule will allow me to be home by early or mid-afternoon, which won’t be too long for Sidney to wait. Until then, we’re gonna have to make it through the next four weeks.

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.


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.