Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Update

Last year, we had Irene come through and disrupt blogging (among other things). This year, we're dealing with the same situation. Our area is under mandatory evacuation and our block was flooded last night, so we took off. There's still power where I am now, so I thought I'd let everyone know we're doing fine.

Desmond was pretty freaked out while we were preparing our house and property and while we were evacuating, but he's settled down now--other than jumping out of his skin every time a gust comes through. Poor guy. We're holding off on his anxiety chews as long as we can, since it's only going to get worse.

Generally, he's not amused.

Being emo while we ride out the storm
And this is just a funny pic of him from when we were packing the car up to leave:


For something less funny--although, I kind of have to laugh to save my own sanity--here's a link to a few pictures taken in my neighborhood this morning: Sandy in East Rockaway

Stay safe everyone! Everything else is just stuff.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dog Food Giveaway: Win a Sample Kit from Merrick Pet Care Revolution

Do you guys remember that super-snazzy, awesome, fantabulous sample kit that Merrick sent us to review their dog food Pet Care Revolution?





Well, now you have a chance to score that very same kit for yourself! Just enter our giveaway with the Rafflecopter below. This sampler package was truly awesome--I feel confident that your dog would really L-O-V-E it. Open to U.S. residents 18 & older.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Endoscopy Consultation: Canine Esophageal Stricture

Before I begin, I just want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to us here and on Facebook and via email. This community never ceases to amaze me, and I'm so thankful to be a part of it. We really appreciate the support, kind words, good vibes, and sweet thoughts. Truly--thank you.

Yesterday's endoscopy consultation at LIVS has left us 99% sure that Desmond does have esophageal stricture.

In case you don't know, a stricture is kind of like a bottleneck traffic jam. Desmond's esophagus gets smaller right before it meets him stomach. So when he eats or drinks, whatever he takes in gets stuck before it gets into his stomach and then slowly filters through. Hence, when he consumes too much, too fast, or too much too fast, it comes right back out. There's nowhere for it to go. It's regurgitation as opposed to vomiting--it never makes it into his stomach; it never gets digested.

He's not at risk for anything more serious, and nothing else was found from the x-rays and physical exams. There's no suspicion that Desmond's condition will worsen.

We've decided, along with the help of the specialist at the vet hospital, that putting Desmond through the endoscopy procedure is not likely to provide us with any information other than a full confirmation of a stricture.

At this point, we're going to hold off on it, particularly because we don't think we'd proceed with the ballooning treatment regardless. It's risky and often doesn't work/isn't permanent. Desmond's general sensitivity makes his recovery from anesthesia a days-long scenario, and we can't imagine forcing him to go through all of this for what can surely turn out to be no reason. That's to say nothing of the medical expenses involved (and I won't even get into the problems we're having with VPI on this), which are significant.

The best option is lifelong management, which is exactly what we suspected.

From this point forward, we have to liquify Desmond's meals as much as possible and get him to eat those meals as slowly as possible in as much of an upright position as possible. This means that we are now pureeing and watering down his already-pretty-mushy food from The Honest Kitchen.

We're on the hunt for a slow-down bowl that won't create a huge mess on our semi-carpeted stairs, where he's eating his meals until we can get him a Bailey chair (it's usually used for megaesophagus--which Desmond definitely does not have--but it is absolutely useful for stricture, and both our regular vet and the specialist agree we should look into it).

Bailey chairs are simultaneously the cutest and most pathetic things ever. Desmond would fit right in. Take a look at these posts about the Bailey chair: one with a video, one with links and info from a support group (yup, that exists), and one with pix from the Pet Project blog.

"Lucy in her Bailey chair" image from flickr
In the meantime, we're packing the bowl with Kongs to block him a bit and we're standing by to pull the bowl away for a minute when he gets overzealous. We're also feeding him three times a day instead of two--and will go to four if we need to. In addition, we're holding him up in a vertical/sitting position on the couch for about 15 minutes after he eats. (And of course we're very careful about exercise in relation to consuming food or water.)

We originally posted this one on Instagram / Facebook, but this is Des not enjoying his after-meal sit.
There really isn't too much else we can do. The pepcid and reglan we were once prescribed for Desmond are both essentially useless for this problem. The reglan helps digestion; the pepcid helps acid reflux. That being said, we do think he has some reflux issues on the side, so we will absolutely keep it around for times when he needs it.

This is mostly a time-consuming inconvenience for us, and we feel terrible for Desmond. He loves food so much, and he must think we're starving him all the time. He also is not a huge fan of the sitting up on the couch thing. Plus, the poor guy is now going to miss out on chews of pretty much all kinds. We don't want to take any more chances, since he's such a gulper.

I do worry about the fact that this may all lead to dental issues--wet food, no more chews, regurgitation. I'm not really sure what to do about that besides brush his teeth more. Maybe we can still give him the edible Nylabones and SmartBones. I should ask the vet for sure.

The last bit of concern comes from pneumonia, which dogs who regurgitate can get when the food/water coming back up catches them by surprise and they wind up taking it back in/gagging on it. The vet said it can get into his lungs this way, and then he can get quite sick. So we're now to be on the lookout for symptoms of pneumonia and take them seriously if we see any.

Basically, though, unless this becomes something that causes him to start losing weight and becoming malnourished, he's fine. A crazy, wonky, odd canine nonetheless, but fine. I really can't complain about that.
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Squatting & Perching & Consulting

Desmond may be known for his very excellent napping and snuggling skills, but sometimes the poor guy just can't relax.





And other times, he'll do whatever it takes to get closer to the person with the food. Like climb on things he should stay off of. 



It's all fun and games until someone loses her french fries.

Tomorrow, we're taking Desmond in for an endoscopy consultation (more on that can be found on our Facebook page).

We're entirely unsure if we are going to make him go through the procedure, and I really really hope that the doctor we talk to gives us a real opinion/answer about if it's worth it and not just the safe, covering-his-butt answer that will force us to get the endoscopy.

In the last 18 hours or so, Desmond's been acting really strange. He's more miserable than usual, he's throwing up again and seems generally nauseous. He's grinding his teeth. He's licking his lips. His ears are pulled back. I think his pupils are huge. He seems very tired but unable to get comfortable. And he feels sort of cold. Not actually cold, but he's usually really warm and now he feels kind of tepid. He's pacing and doing a lot of sitting/standing as opposed to his usual horizontal positions. And he is somehow simultaneously looking to be alone and looking to be in your lap. It's all a bit odd. I've googled extensively at this point and keep seeing words like digestion, nausea, neurological, gastrointestinal, pancreatitis. His appetite is pretty much still there but he isn't going bonkers over all things edible. His bathroom habits are unchanged. Weirdest of all? Right before this behavior started, he was at the dog park with Joey, acting completely normal.

I have no clue what's wrong with him and am very glad we're scheduled for a trip to the animal hospital tomorrow (and that I'm working from home today). Poor little doggie dude.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Assure Canine Digestive Supplement Giveaway

This week, we're hosting a giveaway for the Arenus Assure probiotic I reviewed a while ago. Little did I know I was calling it a probiotic when that's not the whole story, but I hope I can assume we're all on the same page about that anyway.

Since you've heard quite enough of my babbling in that review, I will let Arenus take over from here on out:
Many health challenges for pets begin in the gastrointestinal system, specifically with the microorganisms and enzymes. So supplementing your dog’s digestion is a smart way to help his overall health and well-being. There are a few fundamental components of digestive support that can lead to a healthier, happier dog.  
Either PREbiotics or PRObiotics – both of these work to support the naturally-occurring bacteria already present in your dog’s gut but they do so in different ways: 
  • Probiotics are live microorganisms added to increase the number of bacteria. Because they are live they must be refrigerated or microencapsulated in order to remain viable. If the microorganisms are no longer live by the time they reach your dog’s bowl, they will not help his digestion.
  • Prebiotics increase the naturally-occurring bacterial population by providing food for them and enhancing their activity. Prebiotics are not live organisms so you don’t have to worry about whether or not they are still alive.
  • Digestive Enzymes – these allow your dog to absorb more nutrients from his food
  • Bromelain (protease) – to break down protein
  • Lipase – to break down fat
  • Amylase – to break down starch
  • Cellulase – to break down plant cell walls, or fiber
  • Carbohydrases – to break down carbohydrates (ex: alpha-galactosidase, beta-xylanase, and beta-glucanase). 
ASSURE® Canine is a specialized blend of prebiotics and enzymes designed to support optimal digestion, absorption of nutrients, and healthy immune function in your dog. Because large differences exist between the nutrient compositions of various dog foods, two versions of ASSURE are available. 
ASSURE for Puppy & Performance Diets is designed for dog foods that are high in protein (approximately 25% or more), contain little or no grains, and very little fiber. 
(image courtesy of Arenus. by the way, this is the one Desmond is on.) 
ASSURE for Adult & Weight Control Diets works best with dog foods having a more typical profile: Up to 25% protein, some cereal grains, and low to moderate in fiber.
(image courtesy of Arenus)

See? They know much more about this stuff than I do. And now for the ever-so-fancy giveaway Rafflecopter! As usual, if you have problems with the widget, please send us an email.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

A Dog Named Boo: Excerpt & Giveaway

A Dog Named Boo: How One Dog and One Woman Rescued Each Other—and the Lives They Transformed Along the Way by certified professional dog trainer Lisa J. Edwards is a new memoir about the incredible effect dogs have on the humans they come into contact with. Specifically, it's about Boo and his work as a therapy dog, but it's also about Boo and Lisa. 



Here's a little bit about the book from the publisher:
The last thing Lisa Edwards needed was a new dog in her life. But when she came across an abandoned litter, her heart went out to the runt who walked into walls and couldn’t steady his feet. Lisa—healing from past abuse—saw a little bit of herself in Boo and knew he had to be hers. 


Think this sounds like a story you might enjoy? Great! We're hosting a giveaway of one copy of A Dog Named Booand we got permission to post an excerpt from the book right here. I got to read four excerpts, and I had a really hard time choosing. Hope you enjoy it! (I actually did receive a copy of the book as well, but I've been so ridonculously busy, I haven't had the time to read it myself. That being said, it's next on my list, and I can't wait to read a story of this nature that's written by a trainer.)

From A Dog Named Boo by Lisa J. Edwards:
     Boo loved what he was doing, especially his Blythedale Children’s Hospital visits, where often it was because of his limitations that he was able to help the kids.
     On one visit, Boo and I made our way around the room and found a teenage boy carrying a laptop and looking interested in all the dogs. As I stopped Boo to ask the boy whether he wanted to pet the dog, the teenager opened his computer and typed something briefly before the laptop spoke for him and said yes.
     I felt my heart twist in my chest as I remembered my brother Chuck typing on his computer to speak just like this. Boo and I sat down right away. The boy clearly enjoyed petting Boo’s thick, super-soft fur, but he didn’t say anything. Once I thought I heard a bit of a laugh, but I suspect it was just Boo’s snorting as he snuzzled the boy in return for the kind petting. One of the caregivers came over and encouraged the boy to speak to Boo without the help of his computer, but he seemed reluctant, preferring to keep petting Boo silently. I pulled out the big guns and put Boo on my lap in bug-a-Boo position for maximum clowning effect, hoping it would get the boy talking. Although he didn’t speak, he laughed out loud as he continued to pet Boo and fiddle with the little feet jutting out in all directions. Of course, Boo sat there with his usual silly grin, eating up all the attention.
Although Boo is pretty comfortable in that position, he can only hold it for so long, so when he began to squirm after a few minutes, I placed him back on the floor. The boy gave one last pet to Boo, and a look of intense effort covered his face before he said out loud, with a look of personal triumph, “Boo.”
     In that moment, I felt in a strange way that Boo was fulfilling, if belatedly, my desire to train him to work with my brother. A wave of gratitude washed over me, and I realized that by being less than anybody thought he should be, Boo had once again become more than anybody thought he ever could be.

And here's your chance to win a copy of the book. All entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway runs through Monday at midnight and is open to both Canada and the U.S., for residents 18 & over. If you have any trouble with the widget, send us an email.

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There's also a Facebook page for A Dog Named Boo. Like it here and get the scoop on Lisa's book tour.

(images provided by Harlequin)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Where We've Been

It's been a little slow around Life With Desmond in the past two months, so I thought I'd take a minute to fill you all in on what's been going on with us.

For one, I recently switched jobs after six years in the same position at the same company. My new job came with a promotion and a raise--and a lot more responsibility and time commitment with higher expectations.



In my previous job, I was an overtime-eligible (essentially hourly) copy editor in the same building that houses Penn Station. My commute was probably the easiest commute someone who lives in Long Island and works in Manhattan can have.

In my new job, I'm a salaried manager of a team of writers, as well as an editor, across town from Penn Station. This means I'm at work or working from home far more than I was before and about a half hour has been tacked on to my commute.

I've worked late or from home plenty of nights and weekends already, which comes with the territory. I'm not upset about it, but this is having a pretty big effect on my life as a dog momma, a wife, and a blogger. The adjustment period is taking longer than I expected it to, and now we also have to take some extra time to deal with Desmond's health issues (which I've been Facebooking about).

There's been less time to work on training and reactivity counterconditioning with Desmond and, of course, less time for blogging.

Aside from the new job, we also took a quick trip to Nashville in the middle of everything. Perhaps you saw some pix on Instagram. Like these:




Why Nashville? We had a Southwest voucher that was expiring, so we tried to find a destination of theirs that would be covered or mostly covered by the amount of the voucher. In addition, the location of choice needed to have availability at a timeshare. It came down to Nashville and New Orleans, and Nashville won.

We kept the trip pretty low-key and spent our time walking around the different neighborhoods in the city (Nashville is so much bigger and more spread out than we realized), eating amazing food, and enjoying tasty adult beverages. Skipping much of the touristy stuff is our usual M.O., so we did not go anywhere near the Opry and its related sites, but we did pop into a honky tonk bar to listen to some bands and we did see the Parthenon in the park (although we did not go into the museum). We also went to a music festival, a craft fair of sorts, a showing of Shakespeare in the park, and the civil war town of Franklin while we were there. Oh, and we took advantage of restaurant week, as well as visited as many food trucks as we could (the food truck scene in Nashville is booming).

What's that? You heard about a celebrity sighting in Nashville that same weekend?

Well, we did see Jack White on two different occasions, but you must be talking about the meeting of the minds that went down at Jackson's Bar & Bistro between Miss Lauren Elizabeth and I (OK, and Joey).

Yup, I got to meet Claire's momma, Lauren (of Life With Claire). We had a very lovely and long conversation that kept Lauren up past her "have work tomorrow" bedtime, and I could have kept that going for quite a while if we were able to. She is truly an outstanding individual. We were so excited to spend time together that neither one of us remembered to take a picture together. Two dummies. That's what we are. :-/

Then again, there are rumors that I may be hauling my butt down to Blog Paws next year, so maybe, hopefully, she can do the same and we can have a do-over (and also maybe this time our other Life With girl, Katie, can join us).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

At home, my last series of mentor training classes started up again (at which I'm assisting as an instructor, in small doses), and I've been trying to set up my shelter practicum volunteer work since the end of August. This has proved ridiculously difficult--because Ruff House Rescue was forced to shut its doors right before I was ready to begin volunteering. (A crappy situation, to be sure, but they are still managing rescues and adoptions, with the help of other rescue organizations and a network of foster homes. They simply don't have a facility at the moment.)

My availability has been an issue, but I am now working with Last Hope Animal Rescue. With any luck, I'll be able to blog more about that soon. In any case, volunteering and the training externship are officially taking up my Saturdays.

All of these things together are not leaving me much time to fit in errands/chores, socializing, blogging, etc. Such is life, right?

I have big plans in my head to carve out time on Sundays to at least get some posts set up, but I've learned not to make any blog promises. :-) For whatever it's worth, I am still reading lots of doggie blogs during my commute and have recently been cracking up over the human shaming series.

Some giveaways are coming up here in the next few weeks (one starts tomorrow!). Those are posts I will definitely get up, so be on the lookout for 'em!
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