To the girl who started it all, the one who fit the missing space in our family, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love you.
You are magic. Your presence has changed our family for the better since the day we saw you; first on Petfinder, with your terrified eyes and ridiculous looking picture – you still make yourself look like a fat turtle in some photos – and then, in person, at the rescue. Again you looked scared beyond belief but you rose above your fear to protect your fellow adult rescue, cutting her off to keep her from pacing too close to the wires where she would jump up and cut her feet. That’s who you are. A lover, a protector of other animals from whatever possible abuses you had experienced at the puppy mill where you had been churning babies out for years.
Even in your eyes on the car ride home, I could see the love blooming, despite your understandable myriad of fears.
I can’t fully put into words just how special you are, Callie, instead I have a photo tribute. Happy First Gotcha-Day baby girl!
Callie did amazing in her first obedience class.
And then she got to learn what a real vacation was on our Cavalier & Mother’s Day vacation at Wilburton Inn in Manchester, VT.
So much so, he taught you to play –
Dinner cake (boiled beef and pumpkin… YUM!)
Less Scary to eat on the chair
Mom made her dinner gotcha-day cake, although sitting at the table was a little scary!
I love you forever Callie Wag. I hope we will be so lucky as to be celebrating your gotcha-day next year when you turn 8.
If you want to see another small tribute to Callie, check out this post from the mini version of Callie’s Wag, a new blog on a local website called the DailyUV.
Yesterday Callie went for her first visit to our new holistic vet at Chelsea Animal Hospital. We aren’t going to change our regular vet as we love them but, as I wrote last week in Callie’s Gastro Issues and Acupuncture?, I am trying to eliminate possible causes of her bouts of gastroenteritis and was concerned about her having a high level of stress.
Before I delve into Callie’s appointment, I’ll give you my quick background experience with Eastern medicine. I have rather severe fibromyalgia which causes me a lot of pain. I also used to have an issue where I would get REALLY hot immediately and start pouring sweat. I saw an acupuncturist on and off for a while. Acupuncture cured the heat problem, which hasn’t come back in three years, and it always helps with my pain and anxiety. So, for me, it was not an unusual direction in which to go.
Back to Callie. Since her last bout, she’s been off and on. Some days she seems like her (newer) old self, wrestling with Charlie, asking for attention, exploring the backyard or enjoying walks. Other days, not so much. She’s never off food, but she is a Cavalier after all. We have continued with the boiled beef/pumpkin diet which seems to be producing decent poops (yay!) although I have added treats back in, freeze-dried beef liver and Zukes Wild Rabbit training treats. Those don’t seem to have messed with her system.
The vets at Chelsea Animal Hospital want to spend a long time with you, especially if it is a holistic medicine and/or acupuncture intake, so we were scheduled for a 90-minute appointment.
Everyone there was friendly with Callie but not effusive like at our vets. The particular vet she saw prefers to ignore the dog in the beginning, talking with the owner about the dog, health issues, diet, changes in lifestyle, etc., so the dog has a chance to get used to her. Callie wasn’t so amused about being ignored.
We talked extensively about her poop. Texture, color, regularity, how often it was soft, all sorts of details. That’s ok though. I have a child; if you don’t yet, you will learn that throughout, and beyond, toddlerhood you will be discussing poop a lot. Callie’s stool had never been regular, at least not in my memory. When she was strictly on a kibble diet, on kibble mixed with raw, on raw – the only time recently I have seen what I would call an excellent poop was the other day, and she has been on the boiled beef and pumpkin for a while, so something is working there.
After approximately 50 minutes we moved into her physical exam of Callie and then acupuncture. We spoke about the possibility of doing Western diagnostics first, which would be very expensive, or try this method first and immediately move to Western diagnostics if a medical issue crops up.
For those of you who don’t know, in Eastern medicine, diagnosis usually involves things like listening to the heart and lungs, feeling the pulse for specific features, and looking at your tongue. Here’s a good quick explanation of acupuncture and dogs.
After examining her, the vet began the acupuncture. In both videos, you can hear her talking about different aspects of Eastern medical philosophy. Callie is still getting needles put in her so you can see the momentary look of surprise on her face as the vet hit tender places linked to her stomach and her spleen. You can also see the vet feeling for and locating the correct spots on her body for the needles. She tried to go for a kidney spot but it was too tender, and she had to pull it out. Instead, she did some acupressure on that point. Callie ended up with a total of 6 needles.
Callie remained a little nervous for a few more minutes as, if you have experienced it, there’s a weird feeling of energy/electricity bouncing around at first. But she calmed down relatively quickly.
The vet left us for about 20 minutes so that Callie could relax with the needles in, a standard procedure in acupuncture. This was the period of time that felt SO LONG. I wish they were able to provide human & dog acupuncture at the same time. My body absolutely needs it! Callie did well for about 15 minutes or so, going so far as to fall asleep for a bit, but then she began to get fidgety, we were both relieved to see the vet again.
Callie did seem to respond well to the first treatment, acting more relaxed and less sore and itchy.
The vet and I also spoke about changes to her diet. Chelsea Animal Hospital as a whole, as well as our particular vet, are big proponents of raw food if possible. I mentioned wanting to get Callie off the boiled beef/pumpkin and back on a Primal Raw, and she had some great thoughts. Basically, in Eastern medicine, Callie seems like she has a damp heat condition and, while you wouldn’t want to put what is considered “warming” foods in her, uncooked foods require her body to use double the heat/energy to consume, and right now that isn’t working for her. Instead, we are going to either lightly steam or bake the raw nuggets and add those to her current food, aiming for a 50/50 blend.
Callie will also start taking some supplements including a digestive enzyme/probiotic, a small amount of bentonite clay, and an herbal mixture intended to help balance her body’s needs. Overall, I think Callie was ok with the visit so we will continue for now.
She did get minorly carsick yesterday, strange for her, but I think it might be a placebo effect of too many vet rides recently and not enough trips to the pet store for treats!
I should hear more from the vet today explaining the herbal mixture that is on its way here (had to be shipped), and I am looking forward to that, but not as much as I am looking forward to seeing a change in Callie. I have hope. And a whole lotta love. First update will be in 2 weeks!
It’s been more than two weeks since we had a visit to the emergency vet with Callie’s second bout of gastroenteritis. Of course, she got sick on Labor Day when no regular vet was open – that’s just the way of the world, right?
It was not as bad as the first time, partly because we caught it so much earlier and partly because, when I didn’t feed her, she kept throwing up and threw up blood. No horrific crime scene in the house or outside this time.
It’s been more than two weeks that she has been on a bland diet of strictly boiled ground beef, a small amount of rice, and (after the first day or two) pumpkin to keep everything settled.
During this time I haven’t been allowed to give her treats. Try not giving a Cavalier treats for two weeks, see how well that goes for you. Especially when you are still house-training a puppy, because, like any good older sister, Callie expects a treat everytime Charlie gets one for going outside. And like the well-trained owners we are, we give it to her.
Solution? Treats = small piece of boiled beef, for both of them.
The other day I thought perhaps now I can start giving her treats again to see how she does. She replied with diarrhea before I even got the chance.
Next week I have scheduled an acupuncture and holistic medicine appointment for Callie with a different local vet. I’m lucky – in a rural area, I found an even more rural vet prided on their knowledge of both Eastern and Western medicine for dogs, on their holistic care model, and on their ability to provide other services such as acupuncture.
A cavpack friend from Twitter got me thinking about acupuncture. She uses it for her dog who suffers from acute back pain and kidney issues, I believe. I’ve used acupuncture for my fibromyalgia, for stress and anxiety, and also for a strange period of time when I couldn’t stop sweating and getting red in the face as soon as I got warm.
In eliminating possible causes for her back-to-back cases of gastroenteritis, I feel like it’s probably not bacterial/parasitic as it has been hit by antibiotics so much. I don’t think something around here is making her sick, Charlie would be sick too, as the one who eats EVERYTHING. It could be an allergen, but, honestly, my best guess for Callie is stress and anxiety. She has gone through of significant changes to her rather quiet life a lot since we brought Charlie home.
She appears to have good days and less good days. She hasn’t had another spell, thank goodness, but it’s clear that her gastro system is not happy. I’m pumping her full of probiotics now to help, but I am mostly drumming my fingers, waiting for this upcoming appointment and hoping that this vet, by looking at her diet/lifestyle/charts, etc., will be able to help. Perhaps with some Eastern medicine and acupuncture, we can bring her stress levels down again.
Her first “gotcha day” is next month and I want to be able to feed her silly cake and know she might have slightly gross poop from it, but not worry because everything else will be alright.
I had many other topics in mind for my next blog post, I wanted to introduce the newest members of the pack, our two guinea pigs. I wanted to talk about, oh gee, a month ago when we went to New Jersey and had to have a friend dog-sit for the very first time. Maybe I was even thinking about just giving an update on Charlie, but none of my potential topics included a very frightening health experience with Callie.
Callie just experienced and is still recovering from, a bout of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
You can read a general description here, but basically, it is an awful illness that can be caused by – ready for this list? – Stress, anxiety, eating something either non-food or drastically different food, immune-related disease, parasites, bacteria, toxins, pancreatitis, or possibly an allergic reaction to something either ingested or inhaled. The primary symptoms are vomiting and very bloody diarrhea. AND it’s a common problem in small dogs – FYI.
Wednesday Callie had diarrhea twice, both times inside the house, so it was clearly sudden and began throwing up in the afternoon. She only threw up once, so I wasn’t too worried. I was also exhausted and went to bed, so Jess was left to deal with everything. I didn’t want Callie to have dinner for obvious reasons, but I wasn’t as worried yet.
Then she continued to throw up throughout the night and went outside a few times. I called the vet first thing in the morning on Thursday for an emergency vet appointment. While I was waiting, and panicking – the only time I have ever seen a dog throw up everything including water immediately after drinking has been when they have something lodged in their stomach and require surgery – I tweeted to the cavpack. I couldn’t imagine Callie had ingested something large so I was desperate to hear that she would be ok.
The cavpack rules, and someone I can’t remember who although I think it was Holly, suggested gastroenteritis. After researching basic gastroenteritis, I wasn’t as worried until I was driving her to the vet. Just looking at Callie put my heart in my throat. She was so lethargic and sad. The night before she slept by my face, all night. She never does that, she’s a foot of the bed dog. I don’t remember the last time I was so terrified for one of my animals. That drive to the vet was horrible, she kept readjusting in the seat, trying to get comfortable, and looking at me with “help me” written across her face.
When we arrived, we discovered Callie has gained 2 lbs… now that’s a different topic for discussion, but interesting because she looks thinner.
Callie didn’t have a fever. The vet also thought it was likely gastroenteritis but was surprised when Callie let her palpate everywhere in her stomach and intestinal region without tensing. I tried to explain that Callie is the opposite of Charlie, she is the most stoic dog unless something is in her paw.
Of course, we had just cleaned up her diarrhea originally, not thinking twice about it, so we didn’t have a fecal sample for the vet. She attempted to obtain one from poor Callie, but there was nothing but blood on her glove when she removed her finger. She did notice Callie’s anal glands were full (but not impacted or infected so not the cause) and expressed those for us. Always nice when someone else ends up doing that!
We decided the best course of action was to give Callie fluids there, put her on both an antibiotic as well as an anti-nausea/anti-diarrheal, and, of course, put her on a bland diet.
Callie came home and seemed a little perkier so later that afternoon I went out to run a quick errand, leaving Jess and our daughter at home.
While our daughter ran upstairs to ask a question, Jess heard Callie get off the couch and move around. G ran back downstairs and then came running back up to tell her that something red was all over the new rug.
Jess came downstairs and found what looked like a crime scene, blood in a trail leading to the living room where it was sprayed in a giant poop-like circle and smelled horrific. This was still Thursday.
I am going to post a picture of the rug at the bottom of the post so those who don’t want to see it don’t have to.
Jess called me in a panic, and thankfully I was on my way home, so I was there in a few minutes. We immediately called the vet even more terrified this time. The vet then told me that they had prepared for the possibility that the gastroenteritis would turn into hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and that the best move now was to add a second antibiotic to see if we could end it there. So Callie added penicillin to her list of medications.
It was hard to get her to eat that night. But the vet I spoke with gave me so much information including a list of various things I could try that would be bland enough, among them was hard boiled eggs. I love our two vets, they treat us like intelligent humans to work with, not like idiots and they talk to each other, so both know what’s going on.
Callie LOVES eggs. So for the first day and a half, she got eggs with her pills mushed in – and YAY she eats her pills in her food! Then we switched to cottage cheese, now boiled hamburger.
Callie rallied so fast. On Friday she was still very lethargic (funny to say about a dog who spends most of her time laying around and sleeping anyway, but this was different) and had a sick face.
My heart dog, right here:
By Saturday morning she was starting to look and act like her old self. We even saw froggy stretches and big wags when we first got up in the morning. Plus enthusiasm about food. But she lacked energy and slept in the way the sick do.
By Sunday, she was really rounding the corner into a healthy dog. She was starting to wrestle a little bit with Charlie, she definitely wanted treats – we are sticking with small Zukes treats that we know (are pretty sure) her stomach can handle – and food was very exciting. In fact, she was mad at me by 4 pm that dinner wasn’t ready and they don’t eat until 6ish!
Today, she woke up a happy dog. Still a little tired and very glad to lay in my lap rather than near me or across the sofa, something she doesn’t often do anymore. But she came downstairs, and after they went out, she stole one of the bones.
I say stole because Callie doesn’t play with the toys or chew on the bones actually. This was Charlie’s favorite thing in the world that she took; however, because she doesn’t ever grab toys, we defended her for a long while until distracted so she could have a turn. We were both stunned and thrilled to see her chewing on a bone.
She still hasn’t pooped since the bloody scene. I think she is a bit scared to do so and understandably! I would be. Any time we say the word when she is out in the yard she comes running to jump up on the deck. But my stomach is un-knotting, I feel like she’s on the safe side now. My baby, my love.
I can’t remember if I have said anything about it on here but, I have fibromyalgia (along with chronic pain and chronic fatigue – aren’t those part of fibro?) I was diagnosed when I was 29, 3 years ago, but I likely had it for a couple of years before.
What does this have to do with Callie or Charlie, you might be asking yourself. Nothing and everything.
Fibromyalgia is not really understood yet by doctors or the public, heck, it’s not really understood by the patient who is experiencing it; it’s what’s often called an “invisible illness.” See the great spoon (energy) theory. Technically that was developed by a woman with Lupus, but she has spread it intending to be for all invisible illnesses.
Fibro affects those who suffer from it differently. It’s a nerve disorder of sorts. Some people get numb or tingling or sharp sensations in their faces, some get brutal muscle pain that spreads to their joints. I often suffer from “fibro fog” in which I struggle to think super clearly or say what I am thinking. The words are there, the images are there, but I can’t say them.
And then there is the worst, the flares. Sometimes when it flares up it’s just a bad neck/back/arms for me, but between the moving and all the activity this past month, my body shut down. I have spent the last three days in bed, getting up for food or to let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. I’m recovering, but that’s one of the things fibro does, it will slam you to the ground like a big wave if you don’t plan for rest times.
The dogs have been great, mostly happy to lie in the bedroom with me, especially now that they like to wrestle, but Charlie, as a 5-month-old puppy will do, is starting to go a little crazy. Yesterday, he purposefully antagonized our next door neighbor’s grumpy little Chihuahua TWICE, just so he could outrun her and fly back (I don’t even know how he got away from me the second time.) Thank goodness she’s a friend of ours!
I rescued this breed purposefully, not only out of my love for Cavaliers but because they can also either go or be mellow. I also knew that taking Charlie on meant a few years of craziness before the easy, mellow part – although he’s surprisingly good about that!
I feel like a failure when I hit this cycle again where my flares are so bad they prevent me from doing stuff with my dogs.
Charlie needs a regular training schedule. I can’t promise that. Callie needs to go on daily walks to stay a healthy weight and Charlie too, for weight as he grows, for exercise, and for energy. I can’t promise that either. I was able to when we got them, I was so good with Callie all winter and with Charlie this spring and early summer. And now… guilt
But then, right before we had to move, so many other things suddenly happened – mostly good, but energy-sucking none the less, and I’m back on the old carousel ride.
Fibro, how I hate you.
And how grateful I am to have such a wonderful family who loves and supports me, and my fabulous dogs who may get cheated out of some things but are certainly spoiled in other respects! I just hope it’s good enough.
Stories from the life of a rescued puppy mill mama and the second rescue, a puppy Charlie, who arrived seven months later. Dedicated to other stories about rescues as well, particularly those from puppy mills.