Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good days/bad days

There are days that are just plain "good days". In our case, it means everyone is healthy and reasonably happy. Bad days may mean physical or mental hurt.
Yesterday was a good day in that Kate, Tom and I had a great agility lesson and Hokey got to go since it was a non chemo week. We all had a blast - competing to see who could run each difficult sequence the best. I think we each had at least one "best". Baloo and Tom had incredible tight wraps on the jumps!
I then came home to find another personal insult/slam related to the writing organization I have been involved with. Nasty, denigrating and in this case demonstrating the lack of knowledge of the poster (who should have known better). This is basically a good person, a talented person, probably stressed. And I, sad to say, responded in kind. Some days though, you need to do that.
While I was in a funk, my son said a Fed Ex had arrived. I briefly wondered if you can get a subpoena in a Fed Ex envelope! Instead, it was a wonderful book that I had planned to order and it was signed with a wonderful inscription from the author who I respect very, very much! So my day turned around again.

Today has been a good day despite some bumps in the road. Kate and I had an obedience class and again Hokey was thrilled to attend.

I was then driving on to deliver my son's baritone saxophone for some repair work. Well, my husband's carefully written out directions and map happened to have the wrong main road! After getting about 15 miles out of our way, I had Kate call the store. They then gave us the wrong directions, so we went another 10 miles out of our way before I realized what had happened! We back tracked and finally found the store. Kate lugged in this huge instrument - literally the case could be a casket for a good sized child. Next surprise - while the store had complete records on the other instruments my kids have (alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet) there is NO record of us ever owning a bari sax. Luckily the store has a sense of good customer service and took the instrument for service while my husband digs out the paperwork at home tonight and faxes it to them. Kate and I had a good laugh or two along the way and our bad directions did lead us by an Arby's which she loves.
Hokey and Tia in the back of the car probably thought we were on one of our long road trips - heading out to a national specialty somewhere. Never a dull moment!
Deb E

from Hokey:
Yup, things are looking up!! I got to go to agility class AND obedience class this week. I was by far the star of the obedience class and I did quite well in the agility class too. I am a bit handicapped by having Deb as a handler but I try to make the best of things.

I don't really like Newfoundlands. I have never met one who was mean to me but they really might be bears and not dogs so I don't trust them. In obedience class we have one named Zoe. Deb says she is a very nice dog with a quirky sense of humor but I think that is all a ploy to get innocent victims close. Still, despite my misgivings I was good and did my out of sight stays next to her perfectly even when she got up and decided to stroll around. I must say, her owner is a very nice human so maybe Zoe is really a tame bear.

I need to go work on my New Year's Resolutions. Actually I think it would be more fun for me to write New Year's Resolutions for Deb. Like, Feed Hokey more, Buy Hokey a new toy each week, etc.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday again!

I think I need to talk to the dogs about Mondays. The rest of the family is off downhill skiing in Vermont so I have all animals & all chores. Kate's Aussie Tia gets me up at 3:18 am (gotta love those digital clocks!) Yes, I am glad she got me up as that is less hassle than a mess but on the other hand.... finally got everyone to lie down again and then up at 6 am. Oh, and the nutty ducks (almost said quacky :)) are back to laying eggs. Got two this morning - not a great season to hatch ducklings!

I admit it, I was resisting heading down to the barn as it was cold and windy. Then the fax machine goes off and spits out the results of Tia's tracheal wash culture from 10 days ago. Positive results so I need to head in to pick up antibiotics. I thought I could skip the clinic today as it is Hokey's "off week" for chemo. No such luck! And suddenly it is blizzarding, so I need to head in soon before we get 8 inches of lake effect snow. I was often the only car on the road but we made it safely there and back plus got all the chores done.

We are lucky in the Northeast in that we learn to drive in snow early on. The many areas that got unexpected snow this Xmas had tons of cars off the road, accidents, etc simply due to lack of experience.

Tia's culture showed both Pasteurella and Staph. This may be secondary to the possible lungworms or a primary infection. With the large number of eosinophils, I have to stick with a primary parasite though and the weather was certainly prime for lungworms this year (an intermediate host can be slugs or snails and we had plenty of beautiful golden ones around). Still, we will treat the bacteria too and now she is getting febendazole and antibiotics. Not single complaint from her though as it means some extra treats!

Hokey continues to do well so far. Periodically I panic thinking his submandibular lymph nodes are up a bit but later checks show them to be fine. All 6 dogs are now used to me checking so I have comparisons :))

It is a sad time for a writing organization I am involved with. There is tremendous upheaval centered around one or two people who have shown less than stellar ethics. Right now the organization is in a free fall. Until/unless those people are removed or leave I am not sure the organization can recover. Very sad.

Off to the barn with Hokey in his striking blue coat!
Deb E

Boy, I got nervous when I heard Deb talking about the clinic this am. I was quite sure this was a "Chemo Free Monday". I am very glad it was just to pick up meds for Tia. I did NOT offer to go with her, though perhaps I should have since it was whiteout conditions. Deb has a decent nose for a human but she would not be able to scent her way home.

More glorious snow! I don't have to shovel - manure or snow - so I LOVE snow! We still don't have big drifts but that may happen overnight. I do have enough snow so I can run with my mouth open scooping up lots of the white stuff. Do NOT do that with yellow snow!
Enjoy the day - NO injections!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A happy holiday to all!

Well, it has been a couple of interesting last few days. Hokey threw up after his breakfast on Wednesday. It wasn't the nausea type vomit where the dog walks around, head down, drooling but rather the sort of casual vomit many dogs do routinely. Plus he immediately wanted to eat it all back down. I wondered why the bile was being so stubborn to clean up when I realized it was the turmeric. So far the stain has defeated most cleaning solutions, though I have a few more to try. The color has been reduced from literally a glowing neon to a simple yellow sun of happiness on the grey rug :).

With the arrival of his coat, Hokey has enjoyed being outside even more. I feel less guilty having him come to the barn for chores with the coat. He looks quite handsome in his metallic blue coat with the warm fake sheep fleece lining.
The holiday has been fun here - all dogs got bones and toys, people got fun things and useful things. I hope the holiday was good to all of you.
Deb E
From Hokey:
Whoa - I mean, am I "hot" or maybe "really cool" in my new coat or what?!!! And it stays on even if I run fast as the wind, or chase and bump Tia or roll in the snow. I am psyched. I have already learned to put my head in the opening & can almost fasten the buckle myself - well, maybe not quite yet but I am close to getting it. And I got another new bone PLUS a Kong Wubba! Yeah, Santa knew who was nice here :))
I hope every dog has good food, a soft bed, a warm, dry place to sleep and a human to adore him!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Truly a Monday!

It is definitely Monday! The day started with a major flood from the bathroom sink. Shutting all water off worked to stop the flood and it looks like the drain itself will need to be replaced. It could have been much worse.
Then it was a day for Hokey's chemo. This week it is cyclophosphamide. On Hokey's protocol this is given IV, along with a diuretic and then some IV fluids. Again, not his favorite as a catheter is used and remaining still for a while are required. It was also a week for the extra blood drawing as he needed his complete blood panel today. Hokey was very stressed heading into the clinic and REALLY wanted to leave. He loves to come in, greet everyone with a big smile and his patented "helicopter tail", run over and hop on the scale and then, ideally, leave. He has lost a lb which is good as we try to remove some of the 12 lbs he gained between prednisone and extra meals for supplements.
We did get through the chemo but the veins in his front legs are a bit scarred from the 9 weeks of treatment he has had so far. This meant using a vein from a hind leg. This is awkward for everyone, including Hokey and meant he had to stay in a less than comfortable position for about 15 minutes. A small price to pay for more good quality life, but it is hard to explain that to your dog. Luckily we got through it without incident. On the way home I stopped by a small market with an in store butcher and we got some marrow bones for Xmas with an extra for him for today.
Deb E

From Hokey:
I REALLY hate Mondays - at least "chemo Mondays"!!! When I hopped on the scale I had lost a lb, so I thought I deserved to skip the injection stuff. No such luck! And my veins aren't great anymore so now my hind leg had to be abused. People were walking around talking about what great veins Greyhounds have as their legs are so straight and clean without much hair, etc. Big deal! They run around a stupid track chasing a stupid fake bunny. Who cares what kind of veins they have? Actually, I guess vets and vet techs do :)))

Deb says we may have to take a photo of how hairless I am right now so that when I am all better and look handsome again we can laugh about this. I am a bit embarrassed about my tail - I have always had a lovely, fluffy, luxuriant tail and now it looks kind of wimpy. Tia and Flash thought about making fun of me but I pointed out that they don't even have tails! So nyah, nyah to them.

OK, gotta go make sure I get extra food for supper to make up for skipping breakfast. It was nice of Deb to sneak me a private bone - gotta love her!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rough day for Tia

Tia is my daughter Kate's 6 yr old Australian Shepherd. Very cute, very clever. She has had a dry cough/gag on and off for a few weeks. We blamed the onset of indoor heating (forced hot air in an old farmhouse), eating pine needles while scavenging, etc. She looks fine and acts fine otherwise but we felt the coughing was increasing so in she went to the clinic yesterday for a workup.
For Tia, this meant blood drawing for a CBC, complete blood panel and heartworm test (she is on Interceptor but nothing is 100%). We also did a fecal, check x-rays and a tracheal wash. For the tracheal wash, sterile fluid is passed into the trachea, then drawn back to see what cells, etc are found. Cytology and a culture were sent out on the fluid. Cardiac problems can also cause a cough but Tia's heart seems fine.
Right now we are awaiting results on the blood work, cultures, etc but a group consensus was that Tia could have lungworms. She had many eosinophils (cells associated with parasites and allergies) in the fluid. This has been a wet year with plenty of slugs, snails, etc and she likes to snuffle and hunt around. We started her on febendazole as a preliminary treatment as it is quite safe. She is actually thrilled since this means extra canned food mixed in with her kibble.

Meanwhile it has gone too cold even for me - a -7 Fahrenheit is a bit daunting when you head out for barn chores. The dogs run a short way, then stop and hold their paws up looking pitiful. The barn animals have short days out and get warm water to drink.
Deb E

From Hokey:
Well, I am not so sure why Tia suddenly deserves extra treats! At least they didn't give her any of my special food. Maybe I should cough a bit since Deb has cut back on my meals.

I am excited because a cute girl Terv in California is loaning me one of her winter coats. Now why would a Terv in southern California even need one is beyond me, but you know how the girls are. While Kate says I am "pretty in pink" I sincerely hope it is a manly color. Camouflage would be nice.

Maybe I should get my friends Phyllis or Beth to knit me a scarf too. Deb knits but she is WAY too slow.
Ooops, heading out for chores!
PS No offense to Tia, but I am glad someone else had to go to the vet clinic for treatment!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perfect start to the day!

Today started out wonderfully! Tom had helped at the barn but then I put everyone (except ducks) out and cleaned stalls, put in fresh bedding and added hay for tonight. Working in the barn is always good for me - especially mentally though physically as well I am sure. Somehow, cleaning in the house isn't as good for my mental state.

Then, I took Hokey and Dani for a long walk down the railroad right of way. We have missed our walks for the last few weeks as it was rifle deer season here. Most of our hunters are local people who know the woods and we probably could still walk then but I try not to. And no, I am not against hunting - knowledgeable people hunt responsibly and in my economically depressed area people literally hunt to put food on the table. Back to our walk - about 22 degrees but no wind so it didn't feel very cold. Soft snow flakes drifting down steadily but straight due to the lack of wind. Pristine snow about an inch deep when we started so our tracks were the first ones with the exception of one set of bunny tracks. Just beautiful. Good for the body, good for the soul. The dogs both ran with abandon, sniffing, marking, chasing each other, playing with me and just plain enjoying the time together.
Deb E
PS You can check out Dani at our website (which I need to work on!!) at

From Hokey:
Deb is right on this time! GREAT start to our day! I had a wonderful time running but we are ordering a coat for me as I am starting to look a bit bare. Good thing I have extra insulation to keep me warm (Deb calls that my blubber but I don't mind). We had so much fun running. Dani is fast but I think I may be faster or if I am not faster I am certainly more clever. Or maybe I am just cuter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our snow joy was short lived. Rain followed & we are back to brown, as in mud. However, the forecast suggests snow in the next few days so there is hope. If anyone has excellent suggestions on how to keep floors clean with 6 dogs (other than shutting them out), send them on.

Hokey is clearly feeling great and was happy to once again get to skip a chemo treatment on Monday. He will get to attend an obedience class on Thursday am as long as all continues to go well. A small class, all dogs we know and a safe place so he should be fine. And only on the weeks he does not get chemo.

Another supplement he is getting is turmeric. This spice actually has been shown to have anticancer activity in both humans and animals. This comes as a pill, very pretty yellow/orange color, and he gets one a day. I am starting to think maybe I should be taking all these supplements too!

On the writing front, I have long been a member and supporter of the DWAA (Dog Writers Association of America). The organization is currently undergoing multiple crises at once and I am not sure it will survive. A very courageous Board member has pointed out some major problems. I am sure she feels like a whisper in the wind, but the echos down the canyons should be significant. It will be sad if it dissolves but currently it has way too many problems to be effective at all for the members.
Deb E

From Hokey:
Cool man, another chemo free Monday! I thought we should go out for a burger or ice cream or something but Deb said I am too round as it is. We may have to take measurements for a coat though. I am looking a tad naked but hey, "bald is beautiful" right? Feel free to pass on any suggestions on great coats!
So we now have mud. Not nearly as much fun as snow but I can still deal with it. Today I chased a bunny until it snuck into the pasture. I can't get through the stock fence so it was safe. I am sure I would have caught it otherwise as I am very fast and clever. Deb says we used to have house bunnies. I guess that was before my time but she claims the dogs and bunnies always got along just fine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

We got our snow!! We only have about 3 or 4 inches still here but at least it looks like Christmas to us. I know those of you in warmer climates will send me photos of you on the beach, lying out in the sun on Christmas, but to me the holiday is definitely only Christmas if it is white!
Unfortunately, along with the snow we have deep biting cold and very high winds. So far our power has stayed on and I hope it stays. The wild birds are going through a packet of suet daily and lots of seeds.
Down at the barn, the ducks have settled in for the winter. They burrow in their fresh hay every night and look very domestic. The donkeys reluctantly go out for a while each day but they and the older sheep would prefer to simply stay in - though their own TV along with a nonstop hay dispenser would be nice. I suspect they all want to watch "Babe" or "The Muppet Christmas Carol".
Hokey is back to his usual energetic self. The hair loss continues however and he has very little undercoat. I may actually have to get him a warm coat for the winter!
On the writing front, I absolutely LOVE sources who get back to you quickly. Even if it is to say that they can't help you, at least you aren't left waiting and hoping.
For Lymphoma treatment, one of Hokey's other supplements is glutamine. This is also from Managing the Canine Cancer Patient. He gets one capsule once a day. Finding a definite dose is difficult and with capsules it can be hard to break things down at all. Since the adult human dose is at least one capsule three times daily with meals I figure as a 50lb dog Hokey can handle one per day. So far so good!
Deb E

From Hokey:
Whew - gotta love that snow! Fun to roll in, run through with your mouth open and eat it, jump at snow balls, leap down on unsuspecting other dogs from the top of drifts (OK, we don't really have any big drifts yet but we will!) and you can make doggy snow angels! I myself would never do it but a couple of the girl dogs even eat frozen poop - "poopsicles". Gross!!!
I do get cold faster lately so I may have to breakdown and have Deb get me a coat. A really cool one maybe that looks like armor or perhaps a superman type outfit. I figure I will look great in it no matter what.
Kate comes home soon and she is one of my favorite people so that will be a Christmas gift in itself. Plus I am working diligently on my list. Deb says one page maximum but I am going to try the "poor dog with cancer" bit. Hard to get much sympathy when I look and feel so good!
Off to barn chores - hope I don't get blown away in the wind!

Monday, December 7, 2009

We had a good weekend. Since Hokey was off his chemo for almost 2 weeks I let him go to the shows with me and we showed in Open obedience. He needed a second command once in each class but you have to be perfect so we failed to earn a leg towards his titles but we had fun! He was enthusiastic, happy and very up. My kids both did well - Kate putting a CD on her Terv Queezle and Tom getting a junior showmanship placement and almost going Reserve Winners Dog with his Aussie Baloo.

We now have a light coat of snow so the dogs are very happy running and rolling in it. The horses enjoy the snow as well. The ducks, well, not so much - they prefer to stay in :).

Hokey had chemo today and was quite whipped - I think the weekend competing plus the chemo today really wiped him out. He has been crashed upside down next to the couch much of the day.

DWAA nominations for awards just came out. Kate has a couple and I have one I think. The contest categories can be extremely competitive so it is nice to even be a finalist. Contest Chair Terry Albert did a great job with this huge task.

OK, off to catch up on household chores and maybe, just maybe, think about holiday stuff.
Deb E

From Hokey:
Wow, I finally got to go to a show again. It was great, though I can't believe I wasn't a big star - what is a mere second command, just one lousy word, when the amazing dog manages to jump, retrieve, drop, stay, etc? And of course, Queezle, the little angel, doing baby stuff like Novice, passes all three trials and gets a hamburger on the way home!! Talk about unfair!

It was depressing to have chemo again today. I thought I was done. Deb says if I stay in remission I just have 7 more doses - each of them 2 weeks apart. I guess I can handle that.
Hokey, off to see if can sneak some food from Tom

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Aaargh! December 3rd and we have temps in the 50s and RAIN! Rain of course means mud and when you live with lots of animals, mud is not a good thing. Plus we are all eager for some snow right now (by March we will be sick of snow but right now the white stuff would be very attractive). The only one who stays clean is Fire (short for Firecracker as he was born on the 4th of July), our barn cat, who is always immaculate.

I am working on research for an article and a book. Research can be fun or it can be totally dry, slogging through vet journals especially. My breaks tend to be mystery reading or working the dogs in obedience. Not fun doing that in the rain though Queezle and Hokey did lovely down stays on the driveway while I walked to the road to get the newspapers.

Hokey continues to do well. He feels great - running, circling, barking some and harassing the other dogs off and on as only a young male dog would do :). One of his supplements we started is arginine. Arginine has been shown to be beneficial to human and animal cancer patients so Hokey gets one capsule daily. Arginine has multiple immune modulating effects and anti tumor actions. (See managing the Canine Cancer Patient by Ogilvie and Moore).
Deb E

From Hokey:
Deb had a bit of a nightmare last night and woke up thinking I was out of remission. Luckily she seems to be wrong as my lymph nodes are still down. I told her to have happy dreams like I do with duck herding, agility, tracking and lots of great food! Plus a dumbbell - I love my dumbbell!

Personally I am glad the hoopla over Flash's birthday is winding down. I think that *I* should be the center of attention. After all, she is just older, right? Plus Christmas is coming and I have lots of things on my list that I would like. I suppose the stocking full of fresh horse manure isn't likely.

Ooops, here comes Deb. We alternate - 3 of us get teeth brushed one day while 3 of us get groomed and then vice versa the next day. My day for grooming, which I also love! My favorite parts are being blow dried after a bath and getting toweled when I come in wet. Gotta love rain, mud, snow, sun, all of it!