Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pets, Part 2

At Christmas, Debbie asked Steve to help her daughter Rachel pick out a dog.

Steve replied:

"Actually, the thing I'm MOST worried about is that I'LL find a dog I just HAVE to save...

"But Debbie! He NEEDS me! Just look at those EYES--and he's WAGGING HIS TAIL!"

NO! I will be ruthless! I will be HARD-HEARTED! My WILL shall DOMINATE these adorable little fluffs of fur--oh, look! He's smiling!


I must be STRONG! NO. MORE. DOGS. Two is enough! Or maybe just one more, if it's not TOO large--maybe Sadie's size or a little bigger...


You understand my dilemma? ;-)"

Steven did NOT get a dog, although he wanted to save one named "Atlas".

Rachel got a bull terrier named "Skuka".


In early October, Steve's dog Sadie began acting--strange.

On Friday, 2 October:

"Now, to top off my weekend, my dog is
    A) Throwing up everything she eats;
    B) Refusing food.
She hasn't eaten anything successfully since Friday night.

We suspect that at some point in the past week, she has eaten:
    2 hot peppers from the garden, and
    A blister/foil pack of 15 slow release iron tablets.

That large a dose of iron may be toxic; the blister/foil pack may be causing an obstruction; the hot peppers may be disturbing her digestion. And if she doesn't keep something down tonight, I'll probably need to take her to the vet tomorrow."

We tried to give her all those things she usually loves to eat: eggs, chicken, pizza bones...

On Tuesday, 4 October:

"Sadie still is not eating. I'm taking her to the vet."

was followed by:

"They are keeping Sadie for the day.

They are going to Xray her stomach to look for the foil and other obstructions; they're going to test her for "exocrine pancreatic disorder"; they're going to test her for Addison's disease.

And they'll give her a shot to reduce her nausea for 24 hours or so, to help keep her hydrated.


But it wasn't the foil, and it wasn't the pancreas, and it wasn't Addison's.

"Her blood creatine and nitrogen are so high, she probably feels really lousy. And that's a sign of kidney failure.

The vet said to take her, IMMEDIATELY or ASAP, to the internist at VCA Southern MD in Waldorf. So I need to make some phone calls. And then I'll probably be leaving work for the day.

And we need to be prepared that this could be fatal. There may not be any possible treatment."

And later:

"If this is acute kidney failure, then by flushing the kidneys we have some chance of recovering partial function. However, her kidneys have been damaged. Prognosis: 6 months to 2 years.

If this is chronic kidney failure, then she won't respond to flushing.

The flushing process is also stressful. If she goes into fluid overload, then the fluid could back up into her lungs.

I marked the form, 'Do Not Resuscitate.'

So, that's where we stand."

Steve told Debbie:

"You don't have to leave early, but don't dawdle on the way home. I need you. I'm WAY past worry. 'Panic' and 'Grief' are more accurate."

By October 6:

"Just talked to the vet. Her creatine levels have come down a point, which is good, but she's going to be there at least 2 more days. Prognosis at this time: Guarded, because we really don't know anything.

Vet suggested we bring something she might like to eat. Since she's talking about BLAND foods, and Sadie's favorite is pizza, I don't think this will work..."

But we DID go visit her that night. On the way, we were RAMMED by a deer. Yes, we did not run into IT, IT ran into US.

Sadie didn't eat.

After two more days, her kidney levels were low enough for her to come home with us. She still wasn't eating, and we had to give her subcutaneous fluids and antibiotics twice a day. She also had no energy, and walked very slowly. And we started offering her the new, kidney-friendly prescription food.

Sadie didn't eat.

Finally, we took a big blob of peanut butter and smeared it on the roof of her mouth. In the slurping and smacking and licking that followed, Sadie realized she was HUNGRY, and started eating again.

Then began the endless round of follow-up appointments: Every week into November, then every month into January.

        Creatine    BUN
10/5     5.7         86
10/6     4.4         57
10/7     3.5         39
10/8     3.0         36
10/10    3.1        34
10/17    2.4        19
10/24    1.9
11/7      1.9        12

Each time, the creatine levels came down. The blood urea nitrogen levels came down. The phosphorus levels came down.

On 24 October, Steven wrote:

"Creatine down to 1.9, 1.8 is "normal". We are to keep on the SubQ lube-job until we run out, and then it's just the kidney friendly diet and living with the knowledge that her kidneys have been compromised and the next time might do for her. Check up in 2 weeks."

At Sadie's last vet appointment on 9 January 2012, all her kidney levels were in the NORMAL range. Her next appointment is 9 April 2012.

Meanwhile, she got an impacted anal gland, requiring a trip to her regular vet, and another round of antibiotics.

Then she finished off 2 loaves of bread.

Then she ate a 1/4 bag of chocolate chips, requiring another emergency vet visit.

Then she dug into a pot where we had planted lentils, eating dirt, and lentils, and all.

Then there was the black oil sunflower seeds.

And the block of suet.

Yup. She's normal, again. We just need to KEEP her that way.


We're back down to ONE hive. The hive that had died, died again. No sign of disease, no sign of parasites--just dead. And the hive that had all the honey ate it in late summer, so we're feeding them for the cold weather. Next spring, we're going to pinch and replace the queen with one that tends to produce more honey and save it for the WINTER.

And we're going to install another package of bees, after we clean out the dead hive.

Two years, and we've not had a DROP of honey out of our hives.

Meanwhile, our friend in Baltimore has 4 hives that gave him 500 POUNDS of honey, and he ignores them...


Debbie has always wanted to throw pots. Living with Steve gave her the opportunity!

(It's a joke ;-)

We bought a Brent wheel from a private school, and a kiln from a private construction contractor who had received it in lieu of payment. Debbie is practicing and is frustrated that she can only make bowls.

We had a 220V, 40A circuit put in the spare bedroom where the breaker panel lives. Now we just need to make sure we don't run the oven, dryer, water heater, kiln and well pump at the same time...

We need to replace the fire sprinkler head in the kiln room with one that will stand slightly higher temperatures.

When we have enough items, we'll fire the kiln and see how it works.


We waited. And waited. And kept waiting.

The hens were apparently in no hurry to produce eggs.

Finally, Steve began to suspect that they weren't producing eggs because of the quality of their feed. They had been eating the bagged Purina Layena for a while. Instead, we bought them a fresh new bag of the Southern States Crumble for Layers.

Two days later, we started having eggs.

Purina needs to pay attention here...