We have recently added a Companion Therapy Laser from LifeCure, LLC to our clinic. Laser therapy is a drug-free, surgery-free and pain-free alternative treatment that can provide relief for many common pet ailments.
Below are just a few of the disorders that respond well to laser therapy:
For more information about this new treatment option, please contact us.
Click below to see the many ailments Laser therapy can help with.
Please call to schedule a consult with one of our veterinarians.
“Mike is a very sweet tough guy but now that he is 13 years of age, he has bad arthritis (and pain) and he just wasn’t Mike anymore. It was really sad to see him no longer wrestling with his brother Max and not able to run after squirrels and chipmunks in the yard. We'd tried everything including meds and a brace but nothing worked.
We were cautiously optimistic after Mike's first laser treatment ("hey, I think he's moving better”) but he has just gotten better after each subsequent treatment. After six visits for laser therapy, our Mike is back: happy, moving up and down the stairs, and playing with everyone. The pain is gone. We're a very happy family. Thank you all so much for recommending laser therapy for Mike, and for the laser treatments! I hope everyone with a dog suffering from arthritis will try it.”
This kitty has some great Holiday Safety Tips from our friends at the ASPCA! Just click on his picture.
In the event of a winter storm, please call the office to find out what time the office will be opening and/or closing. In most cases, we will not close completely but may open two to three hours late to enable staff and doctors to arrive safely, or close early depending on travel conditions. Thank you for your understanding.
Tyler was brought to RVC with a collar embedded in his neck. The wound was quite deep and infected. Tyler was also at least 15 lbs. underweight. But that’s all behind
him, Tyler is now healthy, happy and ready for a forever home. More ....
Troy is a handsome, sweet, playful, healthy, silly and friendly shephed mix who needs a family of his own. He will be a wonderful companion, please consider making Troy a part of your family. More ...
The end of Summer brought us the loss of some good friends:
Vox Haley, Lady Krimmel, Molly Kravvaritis, Seamus Guilliams, Jagger Croce, Grey Boy Christos, Eddie Chakov, Maggie Mont, Pendleton Cohen, Lady Colella, Calvin Leff, Harlequin Adamski, Agape Campbell, Hailey Beck, McKenzie Murphy, Sweetie Dacyna, Oreo Seibel, Morris Flores, Chelsea Jillian Seiver, Jack McDonald, Jacey Keller-Campione, Comet Chartreau, Charlotte Newkumet, Patches Albanese, Chip Glinski, Jasper Sood, Holly Skerry, Jake Doyle, Piper Tanner, Maximus McDonald, Tuco Brann, Penny Ferrau, Amber Eberman, Sheba Krupp, Copper Mann, Chloe Schlachter, Torrey Feldi, Krimpet Randolph, Purrcy Brewster, Serena O'Neill, Spencer Drew, Tiza McVeigh, Goodie and Bosco Trabocco, Chloe Merickel, Poggi Leff, Puddins' Francis Lamatrice, Lollie Lemisch, Lily Trachtenberg, Cory Luckiewicz, Oliver Schilling, Raindrop Heimann, Mina Yunker, Puss Cat Reed, Hal Lange, Hannie Ambler, Molly Soto, Jessie Lehrman, Katie Clime, Ray McLaughlin, Maxx Rocco, Piddles Brozyna, Vegas Piccione, Rajah Broderick, Daisy Burke, Miss Kitty Ford, Bailey Allender.
We also saw the passing of some pet guardians and caretakers this season: Helen Ferraro, beloved grandmom to Jade, Walter Kull , dad to Princess, and Elsie Bauerle, mom to Puggy.
The Holiday Season is upon us once again – where has the time gone? It was a long hot summer and fall and hopefully Hurricane Sandy is not a prediction of what this winter’s weather will be. I know that if we don’t have any measureable snowfall, I will be quite happy. Unless, of course, someone can arrange it so that the snow only sticks to the grass and trees and not the streets and sidewalks; wouldn’t that be grand? And on that note, see below for disaster preparedness tips and our Storm Alert.
I also have a wonderful story for you, written from the dog’s perspective: it is the story of Sifounas, a Greek dog that came to love Philadelphia. It is the story of rescue, redemption and love. This is a perfect lead in to some wonderful senior pets that are looking for forever homes. Though an animal may be “up in years,” they still have a lot of love to give and wisdom to be shared. Several years ago, I fostered Vincent, a stray senior kitty, for Northeast Animal Rescue. He was with me only two months before his passing but the love he gave and the things he taught me were immeasurable. Dr. Betty told me that the wonderful thing about adopting a senior is not that we give them a safe home for their remaining time, but that we allow them to remember what love is and what it means to be special in a human’s eyes. So, if you are thinking about adding a new friend, don’t overlook the older ones.
Don’t miss our ideas on surviving the pet food recalls and also some great treats you can make at home for your pets this holiday season. We have some cool gift ideas for the pets and pet lovers on your gift list and some helpful tips on holiday safety from our friends at VSEC.
As always, I welcome any ideas you would like to share for future issues as well as your pets’ pictures and stories. Coming in February, we will again celebrate Pet Dental Health Month and would love to share some Smilin’ Pet photos here and on our Facebook and Pinterest pages. Please Email me with any ideas, stories or pictures.
Before closing, I want to personally thank those that “liked” our Facebook posts during our Faith’s Hope Food Drive. Everything went so well that we will be repeating it for the cats at Northeast Animal Rescue for the Holidays. We will be partnering with a wonderful company so check out Facebook and remember to “like” us and our posts during December.
So from everyone at the Rockledge Veterinary Clinic to all of you, a very Merry and Happy Holiday Season and the best in the New Year to you and your families. Kathy
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‘Tis the season to feast! But while you are indulging on home cooked meals and family fun in the kitchen, don’t forget about your pets! This Holiday Season, experiment with some pet treat recipes instead of that 5-hour-long pie recipe! We found some delicious (and healthy!) treats that your pets will love! These recipes include all the favorite fall ingredients like pumpkin, apples, turkey and more. Here is a list of our favorite holiday homemade pet treats:
Makes 36 large dog biscuits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine brown rice flour and flax meal in a large bowl. Mix eggs and pumpkin together in a separate bowl until smooth. Add pumpkin mixture to brown rice mixture in two parts, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add water slowly. Use your hands to pull the dough together.
Roll dough out between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper to desired thickness (about ¼” thick). Remove top piece of waxed/parchment paper, flip dough onto brown rice floured counter, remove top piece, and then cut biscuits using desired cookie cutter. Re-roll and cut scraps until you’ve used every possible bit of dough.
Place biscuits on parchment lined baking sheets (or lightly greased with oil). If using a dog bone shaped cutter, gently press down, wiggle a little, then lift out.
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the top of the biscuit has dried out completely. Let biscuits cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine the lemon juice and water in a small bowl. Set Aside. Peel, core and slice the apple. The more uniform the pieces, the better. Place the apple slices in the lemon bath. Let them soak for 8 minutes. Gently turn them around once or twice. Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon or ginger.
Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and let them continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Note: Be sure to remove the core and seeds – they are poisonous to dogs.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Bake for 10 minutes or until brown. Cool and serve or seal in an airtight container and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients into dough. Dust hands with flour and form small, ½-inch thick, round biscuits. Set on greased cookie sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until biscuits are slightly browned. Cool before serving.
Hurricane Sandy is behind us but I have to say this was one weather prediction that hit home, for not just my friends and family down the shore, but also for me. Seeing everything that they have gone through has finally made me realize that yes, it can happen here. So when the weather people say be prepared, do it. Hurricane Katrina brought about big changes for those pet owners that need to evacuate. Check out the PETS Act so you know what you and your pets’ rights are.
OK, now that we have that covered what should
you do in the event of an emergency? If you anticipate staying in your home, first and foremost have enough water on hand. The rule of thumb is one gallon per person/pet per day and you should anticipate a minimum of three days before you can get out of your home, either because of floods or snows. Be sure you have dry and canned foods available for your pets and a manual can opener in the event you lose electricity. Your pets will be nervous and scared too, just because you are, so if you can, moisten the dry food to ensure they take in enough water. Keep an extra supply of cat litter and even puppy pads in case your dog can’t get outside to potty, and lots and lots of paper towels for those accidents that can’t be helped.
If you have to use the fireplace to heat your home, ensure that the screen is in place as pets will seek out the warmth, and that can singe their fur or even cause a house fire. The same goes for candles – it is best to keep a supply of battery powered flameless candles and batteries just for emergency use. And don’t forget blankets! An extra supply for use on those “three dog nights” when everyone cuddles together in bed will be greatly appreciated. When leaving your home, be sure your pets are secured on a leash, preferably with a harness or in carriers/crates. Even indoor kitties should have a collar with ID tags for trips to the vet or in the event of evacuation. Of course microchipping all pets in the household and keeping these numbers in a safe place with their rabies certificates is your best insurance. Be sure to include these documents in your take along important papers.
Last but not least, RVC can house up to seven cats in the event you lose electricity/heat during a storm. Now, this depends on whether WE have electricity, but we will take your cat for up to five days until you are back in your home or can make alternative arrangements. Please call the office to verify our availability. I hope this is information you will never need, but just in case …
It seems like every day another pet food or treat is recalled, either voluntarily through the company’s routine testing (a good thing) or involuntarily by the FDA because of reported illness (not such a good thing). So what is a pet lover to do? Of course, the easiest thing is to read labels, monitor the FDA pet food recall lists and keep a close eye on your pets’ daily habits and activities to monitor for early signs of illness, i.e. vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, increased thirst or loss of appetite. The not-so-easy thing is to cook or prepare your own pets’ food.
As many of you know the doctors at RVC are huge proponents of home prepared diets for your pet, or at the least, incorporating home cooked foods into your pets’ diets. It may sound simple: I’ll just cook up a batch of rice and chicken, throw in some mixed veggies and we’re good to go – no recall worries! The reality is a wee bit different though. You see, your pet’s diet needs to be balanced with the right blend of vitamins and minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates – just like yours and mine. And like yours and mine, variety is not only the spice of life, but the road to vitality and health. Below, you will find our recommended nutrition websites and books to help you on your way. We recommend rotating your pet’s meals, if not meal to meal, then day to day or week to week, to be sure that the end result is a healthy, balanced body. I recommend you start with these: Dr. Strombeck’s Home Prepared Diets is a resource that offers a variety of recipes and even some that will benefit pets with specific health concerns such as renal or cardiac disease. Balance It is a website where you enter your pet’s information and then purchase recipes based on your pet’s preferences. These are very simple recipes but you do need to buy their vitamin/mineral blend to balance the recipe. Not expensive, however, in my opinion. Monica Segal is a canine nutritionist who will customize your dog’s diet based on individual needs. Dr. Karen Becker and Beth Taylor offer DR. BECKER'S REAL FOOD FOR HEALTHY DOGS AND CATS, a nutrition and recipe book that uses rotation for best results. At first, it looks a little complicated, but once you get started, it gets a lot easier. And keep in mind your ultimate goal: better health for your pet.
If you want to just add to your pet’s commercial diet, be sure that the additions do not exceed 20-25% of your pet’s total diet. More than this will undo the balance of the commercial diet and can cause health problems. So let’s say you want to feed only kibble in the morning and then incorporate some of your dinner in your pet’s nighttime meal. That’s OK! So for a total daily kibble ration of 2 cups, you would replace ½ cup of kibble with some meat and veggies from your dinner. No muss, no fuss!
Remember, no onions or chives, minimal amounts of garlic, especially for cats, no grapes or raisins, no avocado, chocolate, coffee, caffeine, alcohol, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many common foods) or overly seasoned or salted food.
If you have any questions about preparing your pets’ food, do not hesitate to contact the office.
The holidays are a time for family, food and fun ... but including our furry 4-legged friends in ALL the festivities can be dangerous. While turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are tasty, please refrain from “stuffing” your pets. Overindulging in fatty foods can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea or a potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Turkey bones can also be dangerous, not only causing stomach upset, but can also cause a blockage or perforation of the intestines. Other ingredients that may be tasty but toxic include onions, garlic, uncooked meats, uncooked dough or baked goods made with xylitol. Traditional festive plants, such as holly and mistletoe, can also be dangerous for cats and dogs, causing gastrointestinal upset or, in rare cases with mistletoe, heart problems, while flowers such as lilies can cause kidney failure
in cats. Please enjoy your holidays safely and know we are here 24/7 if you have any questions!
Some wonderful senior dogs available for adoption thru Blind Dog Rescue Alliance.
And some sweet mature kitties like Yolanda, available through Northeast Animal Rescue and Beauty with Forgotten Cats. Click on their pictures for more information.
I was born in August 1996. I was the runt of a 14-15 litter of a stray dog, a not-so-uncommon phenomenon in Greece. Some of my siblings were adopted, others tortured or killed. As I was the runt, nobody cared about me for better or for worse, and pretty soon I was left alone with my mom. One night in September, when I was less than a month old, there was another litter nearby and one of the puppies there kept crying all night. At some point, a human appeared, clearly annoyed, grabbed me and took me away. I knew she must have thought that I was the one crying, but of course I was not going to say anything! This was my chance and I had to make it work.
After the human took me home, she fed me some milk, put me on a mat on the balcony and went away. It was weird – I was cold without my mom's fur, but I thought to myself, "If this is the price of a home, so be it." But, the next morning I was still there. The human left and forgot about me! What's worse, the balcony was low – within reach from the front stairs. Some other human, with worse intentions I'm sure, tried to grab me through the bars and as I resisted, my left ear was torn. When my human came back, she found me in a pool of blood.
It turns out this injury worked to my benefit. The human decided to keep me until I was well. She did not have money for a vet and treated my wound herself which worked just as well for me. I took great pleasure in scratching the wound with my sharp puppy claws and making it bleed. After all, I knew that as long as the wound was open, I had a home!
Unfortunately, the ear wound did heal at some point so I had to come up with something else. As soon as I found the opportunity, I ran into the street and got hit by a car! It worked, and again the human decided to keep me until I got well. Of course, I knew what I had to do next. I managed to break my leg, and by the time I recovered from that it was almost winter. I still had to sleep on the balcony, so I naturally developed a cough that the human had to treat with various syrups.
The human did not want a dog and soon it became clear to me why. She obviously loved dogs, and in the beginning of my stay with her she even had her own, albeit disorganized, informal rescue system. But she clearly was not ready to have her own forever dog. She was young and could barely take care of herself, much less another living being. She would keep me, she figured, just like the others, until she found a home for me. Not even 'good home,' mind you, just any home that would take me – but it's OK, she did not know any better. Fortunately, that was the end of it. At some point, she realized that she couldn't get rid of me and thus I finally had a home. The human became my new Mom.
The question of my name was still open. Sometime in between ailments, I was taken out and put on the sidewalk. I guess I was expected, as most puppies, to wobble a bit, so the humans were ready to offer guidance and positive reinforcement. Instead, as soon as my feet touched the ground, and Mom started walking away, I bolted in a perfectly straight line by her side. Another human exclaimed, "Look at him go! A tornado!" Mom looked at me and concurred, "Indeed he is - a Sifounas!" ("tornado" in Greek).
Unfortunately, my sickly disposition went beyond securing a home. From a very early age, I was plagued with diarrhea, which received a formal diagnosis of ulcerative colitis several years later. I also had a persistent cough, which at the time the vets attributed to a collapsed trachea. This cough stayed with me until the end, without a definite diagnosis. So let's say I was not the easiest dog to have, but I did make up for it with my behavior!
At the same time, Mom was not the best mother ever. Her ideas about dog-rearing were better than average, the Greek culture being very dog-unfriendly overall, but still a mixture of things she saw around her and things her own mother used to do with her dogs – also not the best example. She did things that ranged from stupid at best (feeding me gyro leftovers on a regular basis, then wondering about my colitis) to criminal (going out of town for a whole month and leaving me all alone in the apartment with friends coming to give me food and two walks a day). Her training skills left much to be desired. Suffice it to say that at the time, she believed that spanking a dog was a perfectly efficient and acceptable training method.
When I was just a baby, a torn ear was the first of my many health problems.
But I perservered because I could see the potential in her. In spite of the “mistreatment”, I evolved into a well-behaved, easy-going dog. When Mom got a job at her college library in the suburbs, she started taking me to work. In the winter, she would keep me in the car and use her work breaks to visit me and let me out to stretch my legs. I grew up thinking the car was home and this proved very handy in my late years. In the summer, I would ride with her on her scooter and then hang out on campus while she was inside working. Yep, that's right, in the leg area of a scooter! Nobody cared or complained about me – the perks of living in a country that doesn't care about dogs. The campus was a dog's heaven and I never took advantage of my freedom until one fateful day when I met the love of my life (or one of them anyway) and decided to run after her. After two days of hell, trying to find a lost dog in the richest suburb of Thessaloniki, full of private estates protected by guard dogs, security cameras and electric fences, Mom found me in the woods with my beloved, covered in mud and starving, but full with luuuuuv. Needless to say, the privilege of wandering around campus was lost to a 30-foot leash.
When I was three years old, Mom decided to move to the U.S. for grad school. I had survived a stormy childhood, my inexperienced Mom's mistakes and other adventures, such as jumping off said scooter on a highway, and prevailed through all of them. The move to the U.S. was painless. All that was needed at the time was a 'passport' with vaccine documentation, a crate and a ticket.
The actual trip was more adventurous: It was August 1999, and hurricane Floyd was on its way. Our flight from New York to Philadelphia was delayed for 5 hours. In the great pre-9/11 days, the JFK staff was very understanding and accommodating and let Mom go in the staff area of the airport in order to be with me and even let me out of the crate to stretch my legs. The flight was cancelled in the end and a bus was deployed to bring the passengers to Philadelphia. Things didn't look great for me on the bus, but once again the driver showed kindness and reserved the back seat row for us. We got lots of dirty looks from the passengers as we walked to the back but Mom was prepared to fight for me. After all, it was not our fault the flight was canceled! I lay on her feet without making a sound because I knew what kind of a predicament we were in. About an hour into the drive I lifted my head towards her with a deploring look, and finally Mom realized that I was sitting over the engine of the bus and had been baking all this time. She signed to me to get on the seat which I did in a cat-like, conspiratorial manner. Since the driver had turned the lights off, no one around us remembered that there was a dog in the bus.
And thus we arrived in Philadelphia at midnight. It was pouring. The friend who was going to pick us up had gone home when the cancellation was announced. Mom could not call her as the 215 area code had just become mandatory when dialing and she couldn't hear the operator's instructions over the rain. She was stranded at an empty airport, in the pouring rain, in her Greek shorts and sandals, with two suitcases and a dog. All she wanted to know was when the next flight home was.
But I kept my cool. We were together, after all. The rest would follow. And it did. We soon got settled and got to liking life in a culture that doesn’t consider owing a dog as marginal behavior. Six months after arriving, Mom found a place in West Philadelphia, only a block from Clark Park. There were dozens of dogs in "the bowl" ('Clark Park B') with dog parents of the same mindset as my Mom's. An hour's play twice a day or more – in short, heaven.
Life went on without major tribulations. Mom slowly learned how to be a better dog mom. She still left me alone for too long on the days she had class after work, but compensated on other days by taking me everywhere with her, probably because she now could (yay Philly!). She researched dog diets and slowly started giving me bones, which helped with my colitis. Eventually she found good sources of local meats and switched me to raw completely. Most importantly, she did not stop before finding the best vet ever – guess who?
In 2006, I got the greatest gift: a wife! Mom saw that I had a thing for pit bulls and when Molly, the cutest rose-eyed pit bull mix came looking for a new home, Mom stepped in. Married life was great (I also got my green card at last) but deep down I always remained an only child. I was not very happy when Molly got a lot of attention and had to stoop very low to gain it back. I even had to play with toys, like a dog ... here here! And I certainly wasn't happy when she hovered while I enjoyed my dinner. Our marriage reached a critical point with an eating contest which I won by simply swallowing a whole bone which then had to be surgically removed from my esophagus. For three weeks, I got to go to work with Mom and be fed through a feeding tube. After that incident, we all agreed that to make this work. We needed clear boundaries. In short, Mom ended up serving dinner in separate rooms. We still shared the bedroom, though!
As a Greek dog, I still missed the sea but as soon as Mom discovered Fairmount’s Wissahickon park, I found consolation.
In 2008, Mom got a Fulbright assistantship in Bulgaria. Fortunately, Bulgaria was by then part of the European Union, so I did not need a special visa to enter the country. The process was the same as before, only this time I needed a microchip as well. Microchip standards are not the same in the U.S. and Europe, so Mom had to order a European microchip online and Dr. Rubin inserted it. The forms were a breeze to complete. I had my rabies shot and was ready to go! Except that two months before departure, I developed an intestinal polyp that required surgery. The surgery went well, but I lost, umm, some muscle function ... and thus, an incontinent dog went to Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Going back to the Balkans was not easy. In the nine years that we'd been away, not many things had changed in people's attitudes towards dogs. Being bowel incontinent didn't help, either, as you can imagine. We had to leave Molly in Philadelphia because it would have been impossible for Mom to deal with two dogs there by herself. She had a hard time finding an apartment that would take me, and in the end had to settle for one with an outrageous rent. Traveling from Bulgaria to Greece was not an easy ordeal, either, as trains did not have provisions for animal travel. Mom was forced several times into paying first-class fares in order for us to have the whole cabin to ourselves. I did not mind a bit, though. I actually thought it was about time to get my well-deserved position in first class!
I didn't mind Bulgaria at all, either. Mom found an apartment right next to the river and because of my incontinence and thanks to her flexible schedule, she walked me by the river several times a day. Then we took several trips to Greece, where I saw the sea again, and took sand baths. There's nothing like the Mediterranean! Best of all, in Bulgaria I met Kiril, the human who was going to be my devoted friend, my nurse, and Mom's right hand in my late years.
Upon our return to the US, the signs of old age started to manifest themselves at last. I started dragging my hind legs and having difficulty getting up. Mom took me to see a neurology specialist, because in Bulgaria I gave her a big scare with what the Bulgarian vet claimed to be a vestibular syndrome episode. Then she took me to a rehab specialist but she got the same answer from everyone, "What can you expect from a senior dog?”
Neither Mom nor I saw me as a "senior dog”, yet Mom started preparing nevertheless. She lined the apartment with mats so that I wouldn't slide on the hardwood floors. She switched my collar to a harness so she could give me a hand with the stairs. And she invested in a heavy-duty carrying harness which I fortunately didn't need till much later. Worst of all, she became even more obsessed with my health. She gave me all kinds of yucky supplements, did not miss a single 6-month checkup, and pestered poor Dr. Rubin with all sorts of weird ideas, from homeopathic remedies for my interdigital cysts to dental cleaning without anesthesia. Dr. Rubin patiently listened to Mom's crazy requests and even granted her many of them. And I ... well, I didn’t really have a choice.
Spending time at the beach was always a lot of fun!
And life went on. I did get to see my wife Molly again, but it turned out that she was quite happy with the people who took care of her while we were in Bulgaria, so she chose to stay with them. Mom had her hands full with me so she settled for joint custody. Meanwhile, I grew to like my 'senior' privileges. I could be more picky than ever with my food, I got four orthopedic beds at home and one in the car so that I never had to lie on concrete again, and most important, Mom stopped travelling unless absolutely necessary, because she couldn't bear leaving me with someone else. Score!
And then it happened. Out of the blue, right after my 15th birthday, I started having seizures. Not real seizures, actually, more like regularly recurring tremors that immobilized me for a few seconds and kept me awake all night. At the ER, Mom was told that I probably have a brain tumor. "Probably," because no one can tell for sure without an MRI. Diagnostic imagery is, for one, an invasive procedure for dogs since no hospital will do it without anesthesia. And then, what for, really? It's not like there is a cure for brain diseases anyway. So Mom took the prescription of anticonvulsants and we went home.
Fortunately, the medication worked and the seizures stopped, but not without side effects. My mobility started showing signs of decline immediately and it only went downhill from there. I became wobbly, could not climb stairs on my own at all, and before too long, I became paralyzed. The Help'emUp harness proved life-saving for me and for Mom's back. She also got me a dog stroller that I hated and fought tooth and nail, until she finally managed to find a garden cart to haul me to work with. At least that I did not feel as claustrophobic.
My appetite was also affected by the drugs. I had always been a finicky eater, but the medication made it worse. I would scorn my delicious ground meat which made it very difficult for Mom to even give me the medication, until she came up with the ultimate evil plan – using chicken hearts as pill pockets!
After my mobility, I started losing control of the rest of my body. I had already been having issues with bowel incontinence ever since the polyp surgery, but very soon I lost bladder control as well. Mom soon became an expert in expressing my bladder, in finding the best deals in training pads and coming up with all sorts of creative solutions to everyday problems. I ended up using a lot of human incontinence products (yay for the "belted shields") and even Mom's grandma's commode.
As soon as I got sick, Mom switched to a flex schedule at work. Fortunately, her amazing and very understanding boss, allowed her to do as much work from home as possible for a while. Mom minimized the time she spent away from home. When I got to the point of not being able to get up and go to my water bowl by myself, Mom stopped all outings, and took turns with Kiril staying by my side so she could go to work, or to buy groceries, or to go to the hairdresser. When Kiril was not available, Mom did not leave the house unless she could take me along.
And that she did! With my new garden cart, I got rides like Cleopatra! I kept going to the park to see my buddies who were kind enough to turn around so I could sniff their butt from my cart.
It's not easy to care for a paralyzed two- or four-legged person. Also, it's not easy for everyone to receive care. It takes a special bond for someone to give up most of their life to take care of someone else, and for that someone else to accept the sacrifice happily. Luckily, it turned out that I got used to being served without difficulty and enjoyed it immensely. And Mom, knowing that my time was limited, enjoyed every second of it. The hardest part was not the physical work but the emotional responsibility she felt for my life. I tried to show her as much as I could that I was not suffering. I may have been paralyzed to the point that I could not even eat without neck support, but I was not in pain. I was well-cared for, and above all, I was never alone. All the anxiety that haunted me throughout my life, being afraid that Mom would leave again, was finally gone. I promised Mom I would let her know when I had enough but she was not convinced. In spite of 16 years of training, her doggish was not as good as expected – and so she cried.
Being a dog of my word, I did let her know when it was time. And being the Mom that she is, she got the message right away and made arrangements for my final trip. Fortunately, I did not need vaccines, microchips or papers this time. I did not need a crate, either, as I had a first-class seat on the kitchen couch. There were no hurricanes on this beautiful early summer day. And so I departed, surrounded by my favorite humans, Mom, Kiril and Dr. Rubin, for my next journey.
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