Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jada's First HOWL-O-Ween!

To get into the HOWL-O-Ween spirit, I'd thought I would share some of Jada's most memorable moments from the fall season!  She had quite the array of costumes, participated in HOWL-O-Ween party/costume contests and lots of fun at this time of year.  Hope you enjoy!

Jada's first HOWL-O-Ween was in 2006 and I was very excited to have Jada to share my favorite time of year.  At the end of September, I took her to the Country Junction, the largest general store in our area.  Not only do they have a HUGE store, with anything you can think of in it, but they also have a petting zoo, haunted woods/hayride, carnival with rides and games, and of course, pumpkins!  Best of all, dogs ARE allowed on the premises :)  Jada picked out a great little pumpkin that was perfect for her size!  Sadly, a few days later, the Country Junction, a beloved store to many locals and some that came from all over, burned down to the ground.  It was very sad because some animals perished in the fire and nothing could be saved from the store.  Good news though, they have since rebuilt and it's bigger and better than ever!  The annual Great Pumpkin Festival is in full swing right now!

CUTENESS ALERT:  In the following pictures, Jada was only 3 months old and still had her puppy face!

Dressed and ready to go to the pumpkin patch.
Her shirt says "Little Pumpkin" ... awww!
The perfect pumpkin for a perfect puppy!

Kisses for her pumpkin!!

"Trick-Or-Treat, smell my feet, gimme something good to eat ... "
 Going through Jada's old pictures brings back so many good memories.  I'm so glad I have these pictures to look back on and will treasure them forever!

Monday, September 5, 2011

In Memoriam ~ My Beloved Keno

Before Jada, there was Keno, the family dog. Keno was a handsome rough coat collie who we rescued after another family wanted to get rid of him. We had not had a dog in a long time and my dad always said if we could find a dog that was free and housebroken we could get it. That's when Keno blessed our lives on that November day in 1998.

We didn't know much about Keno, just that he had been bounced around from home to home and that he didn't like the mailman. Still, we took him in with open arms and loving hearts.

Fast forward to 2005, Keno was still with us and he couldn't have been happier! He had a loving family, food in his belly and a best friend, a cat named Angel (BTW, Angel is a boy!). Since we didn't know Keno's actual birthday, we just picked one for him, which was September 3rd. We assumed he was about 4 years old when we got, making his birth year 1994. This exact weekend, 6 years ago, we had just celebrated Keno's 11th birthday on Saturday. Sunday everything was fine but that Monday, September 5, 2005, Labor Day, would change everything.

Without going into the entire long story because it still hurts to tell, we had to put Keno down on this very day, 6 years ago. The vet had found a mass in his bladder which had made him very sick. It was one of the, if not the most, difficult day of my life. That day is still so clear in my head, I think because I was in the room when Keno passed. My mom had told me to never be present when a dog is put down, but I couldn't just let him leave this world all by himself. I needed to tell him until his last breath that we loved him, that I loved him, and that he could be free of pain.

The next few weeks were a blur for me, going through feelings of heartbreak and guilt. I felt as if I had let Keno down and most of all took him for granted. I wish I would have put more effort into being around him and playing with him because you really don't know what you got until it's gone.

Once we had gotten Jada, I realized that Keno had taught me something: He taught me compassion for animals and life in general. Even though I have always been an animal lover, it meant so much more to me now to help animals and also be more appreciative to life. I never witnessed death until Keno and just the fact of knowing what was happening to Keno will always haunt me. I also feel Keno showed me responsibly and how I need to be there for Jada. This is probably why I'm an over-protective pet parent when it comes to Jada's health issues. I hope one day I can hug Keno and thank him for that.

I found solace in the Rainbow Bridge poem, different Pet Loss website and having a picture memorial of Keno in my room. I've also done a balloon release for Keno on his 4 year anniversary. I found it most healing to be creative and did a memorial video of all the pictures and few videos we have of Keno. I posted it below so please turn up your speakers and enjoy!

Keno's Balloon Release ~ This was his 4-Year Anniversary to Rainbow Bridge

4 Balloons, representing 4 years

Here they come Keno :)

For more on Pet Loss and how to cope, please visit the Pet Loss Website. It has wonderful information, candle vigils, and inspirational readings for anyone experiencing the loss of a loved pet. You don't have to go through this alone!

To read the Rainbow Bridge Poem, Click Here.

"If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I would walk right up to heaven, and bring you back again." - Unknown

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Sports Dog

Wake me when football starts ...

But wait, the Phillies are close to clinching their fifth consecutive NL East division championship?! OK, I'm awake!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Be Pet Prepared!

Earthquakes and hurricanes are all I've been hearing about lately ... and I live in Pennsylvania!  Eerily strange, I know, but these two major, often disastrous events are happening to me all within a week of each other.

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, I felt the earthquake that happened in Virginia.  Even though it was only minor (very thankful!), it was still weird to feel your chair and desk shake and even more scary to see your brick office building move back and forth, especially when you are on the third floor. I don't know how people in California deal with this.

It's all over the news and radio that the entire east coast should be preparing for Hurricane Irene which is supposed to hit where I live late Saturday, early Sunday. We've been through tropical storms before but it seems Irene is only gaining momentum and hasn't even been talked about being downgraded to a tropical storm. Okay, I'm a little scared now.

While I am very fortunate to have a generator and secure home with safe rooms, my thoughts have really been with those who are being evacuated all along the east coast and in New Jersey. Also having the compassionate heart I have, I can't help but think about the animals and pets that will be affected. I remember seeing those haunting images of animals/pets following Hurricane Katrina and recently, with the the Japan tsunami.

I wanted to make sure to pass along some tips and of course to remind people that pets need us too in these disaster times.  I found some great information on the Humane Society's website that is very helpful in disaster situations.  Just to highlight a few:
  1. If you are planning on evacuating, don't forget your pets!  The Humane Society has a list of pet friendly hotels.
  2. If you plan on staying to wait out the storm, be sure to have a pet disaster kit, including food, water, any medications your pet is taking, medical history in a waterproof container, leash/harness, pet first-aid kit, blankets, toys and waste collection items.
  3. Be sure to have your pets ID, in case something would happen where they may get loose.
It's better to plan now and be safe rather than sorry.  For more information on Pet Disaster Preparedness, please visit the Humane Society of the United States of America website HERE for more information.  Stay safe everyone, that goes for humans and pets!!

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart." ~ Unknown

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Follow Up Appointment

On Wednesday night, I took Jada back to the vet to have her three week follow up appointment. As I stated in my previous post, I was a nervous wreck. I couldn't help but dread the worse case scenario. We didn't have to wait long until it was our turn.

Dr. Mary couldn't believe it was already three weeks. Upon her examining Jada's paws, she was happy to see that they did heal a little bit but she still wasn't satisfied with their overall look. I had told her everything that I posted in my previous blogs about how we noticed changes for the positive in the beginning and then last week (and after the steroids were finished) we noticed things were slowly relapsing. I also told her about Jada starting to chew the fur off her paws again.

I got the news I was hoping for and that was that Dr. Mary didn't see any reason to do a biopsy on Jada's paws. She did, however, do a skin scrap and paw smudge, which she looked at under the microscope. This was to check to see if there were any parasites or a common possibility of yeast/fungus on her paws. Jada was negative for mites and parasites, but yes, she has a yeast infection in her paws. Weird!! Dr. Mary said she sees this in many dogs that have theses allergies.

So basically it was confirmed that Jada does have allergies in her paws. She will be put back on the steroids for the same time period as before and I will continue with the Derma-strength vitamins, Duoxo Shampoo and Spot-on droplets. Also, for the yeast infection, a special prescription medication is needed and had to be called in from another pharmacy. I should get that delivered to my house in a few days. All I can remember about that one is that she needs to take it with food. Jada will then have to go back for another three week check up to make sure that the yeast infection is gone. We finished out the vet visit with a much needed pawdicure for Jadie! No more hoochie nails :)

I will caulk this up as a pretty darn good vet visit considering what Jada's paws looked like about a month ago.
Jada giving "paws up" (8/17/11)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 21 - Tonight, Tonight

Today is the day ... Jada's 3-week follow up appointment with the vet for her "allergies" on her paws.  Jada is all done with the recommeded treatment of meds, so now it's up to Dr. Mary to tell us what to do next.  Did the meds really work?  Do we stick with this treatment?  Does she really have allergies?  With all those questions and more, I also have all sorts of emotions going through my head at this point: nervous, anxious, worried. I am just hoping that everything goes well and that we can avoid any biopsy being done on her paws, which I think I would be crushed if Dr. Mary tells me this tonight.  Of course right before we have to go to the vet, Jada's paws are looking a bit beat up, but mostly that is because she chewed the hair off the tops of them ... not a good look Jadie!!  As for the pads, I think they look 90% better than 3 weeks ago. No infection or sores, but they still look raw and dry. I'm optomistic that will get better with time.

Here we go ... wish us luck!!

Jada's "excited to go to the vet" look? ... naw, actually she has no clue yet she's going!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 17 - Chewing

In my previous post, I mentioned that Jada had begun licking at her paws again. I think this is most likely due to the excessive rain we had this past week. When I examined her paws today, the pads looked good, showing no signs of irritation or open sores. However, the tops of her paws are starting to look very raw.

I am pretty sure the rain is the reason for this flare-up, but moreso the reason behind the itching. This is resulting in her chewing the fur off her paws. While I still think the open sore infection was worse, I was just hoping with the medication it would have soothed the other symptoms and pretty much, ended this issue.

As if this wasn't enough for my little girl, she got sick this morning, throwing up some yellow substance. I noticed she was in a bit of distress and her stomach expanded bigger than her body. She was fine the rest of the day but I was still worried. With talking to some friends, I think it was because I gave her the antibiotic on an empty stomach. She usually had breakfast before I gave her the medication but today was different because she slept in :)  I know I get sick when I take a pill without food. 

On a positive note, I did see that more of the black color has returned to her paw pads. I even had a difficult time telling her left paw from her right  paw (the worse of the two paws) when I was watermarking my pictures. If it wasn't for her dew claws, I wouldn't have known which was which.
Right Front Paw ... came a long way since Day 1!!

Left Front Paw

Caught in the act ... but you can see the chewed off hair.

Jada thanks everyone for their thoughts and prayers! She's a trooper :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 15 - It's A Wonderful Jada

Since Saturday through Tuesday, we had a ton of rain.  Don't get me wrong, we definitely needed it but since then I've noticed a difference in Jada.  The difference being that she has become obviously irritated with her paws again.  She was a real trooper going outside in the pouring down rain (I actually try to stand over her with my umbrella!), but it was when we would come in and I would dry her off, she would run to the living room carpet and immediately start licking her paws.  I wonder, could this all be weather-related?

This morning was also the last day of her steroid.  I'm thinking that maybe since she is weaning of the medications, the symptoms are gradually coming back.  I will probabably give her a bath in the Duoxo shampoo again before we go back to the vet next Wednesday to see if that helps.

After doing tons of research since Jada's medical intervention, I wonder if her health issues, in general, could be contributed to the fact that she is a purebred and the genetic illnesses.  Regardless, I don't want to make this an argument into purebred vs. mixed breed; but for the fact that I'm just happy that I have Jada and I'm the one taking care of her and getting her better.  I don't even want to fathom if someone else would have picked Jada for their puppy, would they have taken care of her the way I have?  Or would they have given up on her the first sign of sickness?  It breaks my heart to think about the "what if" scenerios and "what if" Jada's life was different and I wasn't apart of it?

I MUST NOT THINK LIKE THAT ... okay now that I had to wipe that terrible thought from my mind, I'm going to give Jada some hugs and kisses.  It's definintely a wonderful life, especially that I have and care for my Jada girl.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thunder Dog

Over the weekend, I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up some books I had been wanting to get for some time. Usually before I go, I check out their website to see what other new books are out that might interest me. There was this one book that immediately caught my attention called "Thunder Dog" by Michael Hingson. The tagline says it all "A Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero." With that said, I can only imagine that not only will I curl up with a hot cup of tea, blanket and Jada with this book, but also a box of tissues! I'm so anxious to start reading!!

My book!!  Even got it in hardcover :)

For more about Michael Hingson and the Thunder Dog book, you can visit his website: The Michael Hingson Group.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 9 - A Week Later

It's been a little over a week since I took Jada to the vet for her paws and things have been going very well. I've noticed that she is getting better.  One thing I didn't blog about but that was one of the regimen is the Douxo Spot-On droplets, given on Days 7, 13, and 19.  I would take the pipette and give each paw a drop, rub in and the medication would spread around her paw to the needed areas.  I was afraid she would lick this, but thankfully she left her paws alone.  She will get another dose of that treatment throughout the next 2 weeks.  I've also started to wean her off of the steroids, now down to every other day.

As far as her changes, the obvious is that Jada has not been licking or chewing at her paws. The first day I remember watching her and yelling maybe once or twice her name and she would instantly stop. I think she had a feeling that we were trying to help her get better. She also stopped limping, a very good sign.

The other changes were more subtle. A few more days after the start of the medicine, I noticed that Jada wouldn't hesitate to go into the grass as before.  She reminded me of a donkey and someone trying to pull it and it would just sit there and not budge. Well imagine an 8-pound min pin doing the same thing and you have Jada! I also started to see her scabs healing on her right paw pad, the worst of the four. Also, the black color was coming back and the hair on her back paws were slowly growing back. I also noticed she wasn't scratching or rubbing her belly on the carpet.
A subtle difference, but a step closer to getting better!
I have to say that last week, I felt so overwhelmed and unsure about everything. I had no faith in myself that this could work or I could do this, but I knew I had to, for my Jada girl and because I love her. It's amazing a week later seeing these results from this treatment.  I'm just hoping that her paws will get back to normal and that the biopsy will not be needed on her paws.

Still looks yellow, but I think it's because of the lighting (This was taken on my Blackberry) ~ 8/5/11

Scabs are almost gone! ~ 8/5/11

Sleepy Jada, still in bed! ~ 8/5/11
Two more weeks to go until Jada goes back to the vet for a follow-up!  Keep those positive thoughts and prayers coming ... I believe they are working :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"It's Just A Dog"

I'm sure we've all heard this phrase at one time or another, even the cat people or just pets/animals in general.  So when I came across this poem, I just had to share ;)

It' Just a Dog

From time to time people tell me, "Lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "That's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."

Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and, in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."

"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.

So for me, and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past and the pure joy of the moment.

"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a human."

So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog." just smile....because they "just don't understand."

- Anonymous

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Walking the Dog

Cutest picture ever  =)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 4 - Side Effects

While we think Jada's paws are improving, we did hit a minor snag. During Jada's appointment, Dr. Mary did tell me about a side effect to the steroid to look out for: increase in urination. Yesterday, since the steroids seemed to be working at it's most powerful, Jada did experience this side effect when she urinated on our carpet without warning, right in front of us. It was a little shocking because she hasn't done that since she was a puppy, but we couldn't yell at her. We just cleaned it up. It happened again yesterday afternoon and only once today. Thankfully, that was on our kitchen tile floor so clean up was much easier :) We were more aware of her drinking today and took her outside about every hour and a half to two hours. Tomorrow starts the weaning off of the steroid, cutting the dosage back to just 1/2 a tablet once a day. Her body should then slowly get back to normal.

Today, Jada did have her second bath with the Duoxo shampoo. She hates baths to begin with so having to keep her in the tub 5 to 10 minutes longer to soak her paws is nearly impossible. Luckily, I have a huge soaking tub, so since I don't get to use it often, at least it's getting used somehow!! With the huge tub, it also prevents Jada from jumping out, although she's a pretty high jumper ... if I wasn't there to stop her, she could definitely get out.

Did I mention I hate baths?!!  Get me out of here!!
Thanks again to everyone for their support and prayers!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 3 - Changes?

It's only Day 3 since Jada's medical intervention with her paws, and while I don't really want to jinx anything, my husband and I have started to notice some changes ... for the positive!  I've been following the chart I made to help keep all the meds straight.

Chart for Jada's treatment
First of all, Jada has not been licking or chewing at her paws.  I was so worried the licking and chewing would be the hardest to get through. After all, I know how I am with a mosquito bite ... scratch to the point it's bleeding!!  So I think I can relate to Jada's situation.  Since we've had trouble keeping the E-collar on her, we've took risk and left it off and have just been monitoring her.  I know Dr. Mary stressed that with the E-collar it could really help in a lot of ways so I was a little hesitant at doing this, but there was no other way she could keep it on.  Well to our surprise, she hasn't been after her paws.  Maybe she knows if she does, the E-collar will go on. 

The second thing we noticed was that her paws were scabbing, a sign of healing!  Also, the swelling has gone down a lot and we can see that she does have some black color back on her paws.  Don't get me wrong they are still raw, dry and infected but at least we have some signs of hope that this may be clearing up.

Scabs and no swelling (7/30/11)

Still infected and yellowish, but are those black pads coming back? (7/30/11)
I'm starting to feel better about myself too.  I'm doing everything I can for Jada and I'm pretty sure she knows that :)

I have to say THANKS to all my friends who gave me encouraging words as well as tips for the E-collar.  Everything means a lot to me (and Jada too!) and having my fellow dog-lover friends for support, means more to me than you would ever know!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 1 - Begin the Treatment

I am going to use my blog to document Jada's progress over the next three weeks. I'm hoping this will help me feel better knowing I'm doing what I can and hopefully actually see a difference through the weeks that she IS getting better.

So here we are Day 1 of treatment and I've started Jada on the antibiotic and steroid/antihistamine with a full dose already done for the day (both meds taken twice a day).  She also took her vitamin and had a bath in her Duoxo shampoo. Whew! Now if only I can keep that E-collar on her?!!

Below are pictures I took from this morning ... viewer discretion is advised:

Infected Front Right Paw (7/28/11)

Another view of Infected Front Right Paw (7/28/11)

Front Right Paw (7/28/11)
Although these are painful to look at and for Jada, she is in great spirits and has been acting her normal self.  She puts up a fight to go outside, which I'm sure she associates with the irritation of her paws, but other than that, she plays, eats and drinks like a normal pup!  I'm just really praying this will work.  Any extra prayers, please send our way!

Allergies, Part 2 - The Intervention

So this is my follow-up to my previous post and it's not a particular happy one. I didn't realize the severity of this until after my vet had a chance to actually examine Jada. Well, here it goes ...

Jada paws are extremely infected, irritated, raw and dry. My vet, (her name is Dr. Mary Lombardo, V.M.D. and she has been wonderful with the treatment of Jada with all her issues.  Actually the entire staff at the Mahoning Valley Animal Hospital has been nothing but helpful to us!  I don't know what I would do without them!!), indicated she has never seen paws like this and that a major intervention was needed. She advised me that if this regimen of medications does not give Jada any relief, she may want to biopsy her pads to see if there is an immune system issue.  Dr. Mary also mentioned about a possible Zinc deficiency; however she should be getting that all in her prescription food.  As of right now, she is unsure of a definite diagnosis. Jada's condition will be treated several ways and each way is needed in her situation: 
  1. Clavamox, an antibiotic for the infection;
  2. Temaril-P, a steroid/antihistemine for the itching;
  3. Sogelval Duoxo shampoo and spot-on droplets;
  4. Derma-strength vitamins (probably will keep her on for life) for her skin; and,
  5. E-collar to be worn 24/7.
The treatments numbered accordingly.
After Dr. Mary explained everything to me, I was a bit overwhelmed and upset.  I felt as if I had let Jada down by ignorning the issue and just continuing to do what I had done before.  Dr. Mary assured me that Jada is loved and cared for by me and that we can work with getting her better, it's just going to take some time.  I felt a little better but still worried.  Jada will go back for a check up in 3 weeks.

As soon as we had gotten home from the vet, I put the E-collar on Jada.  Less than a minute later and thinking she's Houdini, Jada had it off and carrying it around in her mouth.  I knew this was going to be challenging but only an hour after seeing the vet and I was already feeling defeated.  I'm open for tips on keeping an E-collar on a defiant dog! 

After a sleepless night of worrying and making sure Jada wasn't hiding to lick/chew at her paws, I was up at the crack of dawn determined to do what I can for Jada.  She is depending on me!  I sorted out her medications and I made a chart of what she gets daily.  It gets kind of confusing with her being on the different meds along with the shampoo and droplets being on on certain days of the cycle.  Plus with the steroids she will have to gradually weaned off so I want to make sure I don't miss a dose or over/under medicate.

I've been through so much with Jada, this is just another mountain to climb.  This time is seems a lot more challenging but I will do what I can for Jada.  I will take the 110% initiative to get her through this and get her back to healthy.  I made a promise to Jada and I won't let her down!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Allergies, Part 1

Every summer, like clockwork, Jada experiences allergies in her paws. This is due to allergens in the grass, such as pollen. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was the second year we had her that I started to notice this. She began to lick and chew on her paws and every year it seems to have gotten worse. Two years ago, she licked her paws so much that her paw pads turned white.  Last year she licked and chewed her paws until they were raw and hairless.  Now this year her paws are so raw it is affecting her walking and she is refusing to go out to the bathroom. I also can't cut her nails, or even touch her paws. She has them that raw and extremely sensitive to the touch.

After mentioning this to the vet and her pawdicurist, I was told to wash her paws after every time we came in from being outside to even giving her an over-the-counter antihistamine (i.e. Benadryl). It seemed to work for previous years but this year, things just seem to have spiraled out of control. Since we now live in the woods, our house is surrounded by grass, leaving Jada no choice but to have to walk through it and get whatever kind of allergen(s) on her paws.

I telephoned my vet this morning and she would like to see Jada today.  I made an appointment for her at 7:30 p.m.  The vet mentioned about possibly doing blood work and checking for lyme disease, something that has me worried. Of course I Goggled "lyme disease in dogs" and have gone into a major panic attack.  It mentioned it could lead to kidney/heart problems and possibly death.  I'm really hoping it isn't that serious.

Lately, I feel like a bad dog mom because I have been putting this problem off for a while now, just dealing with it like I had before :( I feel bad for yelling at Jada to stop licking her paws but I know they are really irritated.  I know she hides and licks them where I can't see. I just hope after this appointment we can get her better!

Here are some pictures of Jada so you can see how bad things are (NOTE: The pictures were taken on my Blackberry, so I apologize for the blurriness). I know other dogs suffer through allergies. Anyone else going through this with their dog?

Back Left Paw

Back Right Paw
Front Right Paw, raw and sore (this is the one she holds up when she limps)

I'm going to make this a two-part post. I will follow up with what my vet has to say after the appointment.  Say a prayer for Jada!