Tag Archives: miniature schnauzer

Throwback Thursday: When praying for the dog seems reasonable

It’s Throwback Thursday at Minnesota Wonderer, and today we’re grateful for an 8-pound miniature schnauzer.

Ten-year-old Chloe contracted pneumonia recently, and her very life hung in the balance for a few days. The vet recommended an overnight stay in an oxygen tent (to the tune of $1,000+), but we settled on a round of antibiotics and lots of pampering. She barely ate anything for a week (her weight dipping to a boney 6.8 pounds), and she started experiencing seizures again.

Her epilepsy, which was diagnosed a few years ago, had been under control with medication, but something about the pneumonia (breathing problems? stress of a visit to the vet? lack of sleep? antibiotics?) was causing breakthrough seizures.

Oh, God, not this again.

That was two weeks ago, and the good news is, she’s on the mend, but the whole experience reminded me of when she first started having seizures, which I recount in this post from Feb. 9, 2014.

A story about canines (both species and the teeth), Rimadyl and patience

Caregiving is stressful.

By telling the story below, I don’t mean to minimize caregivers of human patients who I realize most certainly are far more invested in their patients and the stakes are far higher. I can’t even imagine the stress of a someone whose wife has dementia or whose child is battling cancer.

The past 48 hours around here were tough in a much smaller, 8.4-pound way.

My dog (yes, this is a pet story — if you don’t like domestic animals, you’re hereby excused) had her teeth cleaned Friday.

Apparently, dogs bite when strangers stick their hands in their mouths (who knew?), so veterinarians anesthetize dogs in order to clean their teeth.

(Seriously? Dogs require dental care? Yes, I was incredulous, too. My miniature schnauzer had bad breath for years — literally years — and I came to love her stinky mouth. Yellow teeth? Who cares? She’s a dog, right? That’s what I thought until one of her teeth literally fell out of her mouth in my Beloved’s gentle fingers. It was so decayed, it was rotten. Rotten teeth, as it turns out, not only cause bad breath, they cause gum disease which can lead to terrible things like organ failure and death. It was clear my lame tooth-brushing routine was doing no good, and my sweet dog’s teeth required professional intervention. And so, D-Day, that is, Dental Day, came on Friday.)

She remained at the veterinary clinic all day. Anesthesia is serious business, you know. As this was the first time my dear Chloe was undergoing such a procedure, you can imagine the mess the technician found. Five teeth were so rotten they had to be extracted.

“How will she eat?” I lamented. Even toothless dogs figure out how to consume hard dog food pellets, I was told. Survival instinct, I guess. These creatures sometimes eat rabbit turds and lap up muddy puddles, so they’re not too discerning, I guess.

She was ready for pick-up at 5 p.m. and though she was generally listless, she looked OK. And her teeth were sparkling. I’m not kidding. They’re whiter than my teeth now.

I carefully listened to the after-care instructions, which included doses of pain killer and antibiotics and took her home. She sat on the couch with my Beloved and though she acted weird once, gacking strangely, we simply took her to bed as usual.

Then the horror began.

She started experiencing a seizure every two hours all night long. After the first one, I took her off the bed and put her in her kennel next to the bed, but I woke up every time her little legs violently pummeled the kennel from the inside.

You can’t stop a seizure. You can only speak softly and gently hold the victim (or, if they’re bigger than my little dog, get out of the way) while you wait for the gagging and the foaming and wide eyes and open mouth and kicking to subside. Forty seconds feels like 5 minutes. In the moments after the seizure, the victim still isn’t really there, looking spacy and stumbling around in a haze. I could only hold her sweaty body, feeling her racing heartbeat.

I’ve never had babies, so I don’t know what it’s like caring for a sick child through the night. But I can tell you caring for a sick pet is no walk in the park. Every moment waiting for another seizure was torture.

We stupidly followed the dosing instructions the following morning, giving her 25 mg of the antibiotic Clindamycin and 6.25 mg of Rimadyl, a pain reliever. The seizures occurred less frequently but did not abate.

I finally got in touch with the vet who assured me neither the anesthesia nor the medications could be causing seizures. She wanted to examine her and do more blood work (which they did only 24 hours previously before surgery), and she suggested maybe injecting an anti-seizure medication.

Great. I’d already paid $461 for the tooth cleaning surgery and $343 for the extractions. For that, my sweet little dog with bad breath had turned into a convulsing mess with sparkling teeth.

I should mention my dog continued to eat, drink, pee and poop as usual, so her systems seemed to operating normally except for the occasional brain reboot in the form of an ugly seizure. Seizures are caused by many real ailments and should not be left untreated (I am not a vet and I don’t play one on TV), but they also occur for unknown reasons, and it seemed clear the vet knew no more than I did. Like a lot of doctors, she wanted to do more tests and administer more drugs. Ugh.

Like all modern patients, we resorted to internet diagnosis, and we didn’t like what found online about Rimadyl. Correlation does not imply causation, but what’s the variable here? Chloe was perfectly healthy and seizure-free before surgery.

So we stopped the meds.

And Chloe slept peacefully through the night.

chloe in new bedThis morning, we gave her half the antibiotic and no pain medication. She was back to her frisky self, galloping around the house, bounding down the stairs and barking her obnoxious-but-joyful-to-hear bark.

She clearly was not in pain.

I share this story both as a warning (beware of Rimadyl) and as a lesson.

As I waited those long moments through Chloe’s convulsions, I reminded myself of the body’s power to heal, that time heals all wounds, that patience is a virtue. There was no other balm for this chaos and stress but to accept it and embrace it and move through it. My prayers were answered (yes, I wasted God’s time with the health of a dog — what’s time to an eternal being?). And I’m so grateful.

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Dog trap

Through all the turmoil of the past few months, the dog’s been a trooper. Paranoid that we’ll leave her behind at every step, maybe, but a trooper nonetheless.

The day we whisked the last of our belongings out of the house, the nine-pound miniature schnauzer followed at our heels and howled like a much bigger dog every time we stepped outside with another load. “Don’t forget meeeeeeeee!” she telegraphed in her unmistakable dog tongue.

Of course we didn’t forget her. She, in fact, was probably our most important bundle.

She also endured many long days as we drove south, chasing weather warm enough in which to camp. In the cab of the truck, her space was cramped and so was her style. “No! You can’t be on Daddy’s lap when he’s driving in eight lanes of traffic, hauling two and half tons of our belongings!” Some days, she didn’t get to eat until the sun went down.

Now that we’ve arrived in mid-central Texas where it’s warm (if not green), she romps through the streets of the RV park trailing all sorts of scents, blissfully content to live in the moment (like always). Persevering. Like the trooper she is.

dog-trap

Today, we came home after performing a long list of errands to find her new dog dish in the middle of the floor, a good yard from its normal home by the cupboard.

How strange, we thought.

An hour or two later, when she was eating (for the third time today, making up for lost meals last week), we heard her dish go ka-THUNK!

Huh.

Upon investigation, I discovered her collar, which taps the bowl in an urgent patter during a feeding, could slip into the pretty spaces of the wrought iron dish holder.

Light bulb!

During an earlier meal when we were gone, her collar probably got caught in her bowl and she dragged it halfway across the room.

My heart broke, thinking of her, panicked to be trapped by her own food bowl, pulling her little bearded face away from the place she normally found comfort food.

At some point, she probably relented, and that’s when he collar came free.

Free! Free at last! And off she went to nap, leaving her bowl askew in the front entryway.

Among all the things I’ve shed in the past few months (we even dropped another load at Goodwill last week during our journey south!), I still have the dog’s former food bowls. So I can give away the new bowls that represent an entrapment danger and reintroduce the old, less scary ones.

Serendipity. Feels like Someone’s looking out for even the canine.

 

Ball of canine 

 
It never fails when I’m walking my 8-pound miniature schnauzer in a new place but someone will ask, “Is that a puppy?”

When she sleeps, she curls up like a cat and could fit on a dinner plate, good enough to eat.

My little runt of the litter is as playful as a puppy (and sometimes as misbehaving as one), but she’s getting to be an old lady like her owner (complete with gray hair and a beard). She turns 8 this month. That’s 56 in dog years, ya know. I can’t remember her exact date of birth, and we don’t celebrate it with anything like dog food cake (blech!), but are grateful for her unconditional love and joie de vivre.

Happy birthday, little bundle of canine!

False alarms

Today was a day filled with small rock-my-world moments. These moments, if they are real, are the moments between Before and After.

Moment No. 1: My beautiful doggy lurched off my Beloved’s lap and stood paralyzed in the middle of the floor, not answering to our pleas of her name. It appeared to be one of those moments of pre-seizure aura, the quiet before the storm of a uncontrolled spasm.

Beautiful Chloe experienced a rash of seizures about nine months ago. Since she’s been on Kepra, she’s been seizure-free, but her doggy neurologist demands she be seizure-free for a year before weaning her off the medication. At this point, I just assumed she would continue to be seizure free.

Then, her weird behavior this morning.

She didn’t have a seizure. But in those few paralyzed moments before she shook it off, I flashed back to those awful seizures last spring.

Moment No. 2: After 11 months without my period, Aunt Flo paid me a visit today.

Niiiiiice.

Regular readers know I’ve been counting the days until menopause (officially, it requires a year without menses). I have once again escaped entering this new phase of my life. What a surprise!

Moment No. 3: The power went out. The whole neighborhood was dark.

The uncommitted doomsday prepper in me imagined a world without electricity. Without supermarkets. Without police protection.

As I munched on my shrimp salad in the dark (my last opportunity to dine on hot food), the power came back on.

I thought the dog was about to have a seizure. Then she wasn’t.

I thought I was menopausal. Then I wasn’t.

I thought the world might be ending. Then it wasn’t.

Today’s rock-my-world moments were false alarms.

No need to worry. Just wait it out. These things, too, shall pass.

The upshot of upchuck: A lesson in gratitude

Today’s post is about vomit.

Perhaps for a bulimic, a post about purging on the day before we stuff ourselves makes sense, but for the rest of us, the connection may be lost.

To be fair, it’s not entirely about puke, but in any case, if you’re of queasy stomach, you may take a pass.

My dog, my sweet little miniature schnauzer who turned 7 this past summer, got sick on Friday. We returned home from a little trip and found one of the purple chairs in our living room covered in greenish puke.

Oh, sweet girl, what’s wrong?

Over the course of the next 24 hours, Chloe proceeded to barf on the living room carpeting, a throw on the sofa, the quilt on the bed, a throw on the bed, her own bed, the hallway carpeting and my sweatpants.

I did a lot of laundry.

Naturally, we couldn’t find a reason for her illness. We hadn’t changed her food, we didn’t think she’d eaten anything unusual, she hadn’t spent time with strange dogs and she didn’t have any weird bumps or lumps. I hate mysteries like that.

I was getting worried so I played detective. As she listlessly went out in the back yard to do her business, I learned she was still peeing but she was also suffering from Hershey’s Squirts.

By Saturday night, Chloe quit barfing (because she was empty) but she refused eat or drink anything.

Of course, Murphy’s Law was in effect. She got sick on Friday, the day before a weekend. So we toughed out Sunday by convincing her to lick on ice cubes. She continued to get up twice in the middle of the night to attend to her diarrheal impulses.

At 4:30 a.m. Monday morning, she was whimpering.

If it wasn’t bad before, it was now.

When I pray, I try very hard to pray “Thy will be done” rather than making a long list of demands. I believe prayers are answered but honestly, I’m not a big fan of getting “no” for a response. I confess Imade an exception in this case. I reasoned with God on this one. “I don’t see how it would be that much trouble to make my dog better, God. It’s not that hard. It isn’t going to have cosmic ramifications. It couldn’t hurt. Could you see about working up some healing here? Please?”

We called the pet emergency room but decided to wait for our regular veterinarian to get into the office. We were sitting in the waiting room by 8:10.

Finally, we were about to get some answers.

Nope.

The veterinarian couldn’t figure it either, though he did say she wasn’t dehydrated. We sprang for X-rays, which were as inconclusive as the visual exam.

She might have a bug, the vet said. She might get better naturally. Antibiotics could help. If she has an obstruction we can’t see, she might get worse.

Great.

So he gave her a shot and sent us home with a round of antibiotics, the doggy version of Pepto Bismol, canned dog food specially made for sensitive intestines, canine probiotics and brochures for three different animal hospitals that might be open on Thanksgiving if that were to become necessary.

The price of this peace of mind or, rather, piece of blind? $273.76.

Is this the sweetest little puppy face ever?

Is this the sweetest little puppy face ever?

This story ends happily.

I gave her a bath and brushed her teeth so she smelled as sweet as she looked. She loves the bland food and has been gobbling it up since about an hour after her first shot of antibiotics. She’s not a big fan of the eye dropper full of not-exactly-Pepto-Bismol but she quit puking.

She got better.

I thought for sure she had cancer and was going to die and that visit to the vet on Monday morning would be her last trip anywhere.

But she got better.

My dog had the flu and it was inconvenient.

She got better.

My prayers were answered.

I am so thankful.

Why I torture myself with worst-case scenarios, I don’t know. But I don’t think I’m the only one who’s paranoid and untrusting of the universe.

“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.”

~ Buddha

The lesson here is that all of us who would sooner assume the worst need to make room for an abundance mentality. Our thoughts shape reality. Think positive. Be grateful.

Adorable sleeper

chloe in new bed

The Bearded Lady, otherwise known as The Princess, aka Chloe, got a new bed today.

Why? For some reason, she has no time for the velvet-lined bed we bought to match our living room (yeah, I know, first-world problems). When my Beloved was at Petco picking up Pill Pockets (they’re amazing if your dog takes pills regularly, as our little lady does to treat her epilepsy, but they cost nearly as much as the medicine), he found an alternative bed lined with nubby sheepskin (or a reasonable facsimile).

It’s the time of year for nubby sheepskin, you know.

She adores it.

Mulberries sweeten breakfast (check out this smoothie recipe … and cute dog pic)

mulberry treeThe mulberry tree is heavy with berries again. I’m tellin’ ya, that thing grows berries overnight. I swear, there were no berries on it two weeks ago. Sunday, I picked a bowl full, which I promptly used in my recipe for Mulberry Crisp or As Good As Cocaine to Marion Berry If He Were Named Mull Cobbler). This morning, I had a yen for a smoothie, and so many more berries had ripened, I picked enough for six smoothies!

Unfortunately, the mulberry season ends as quickly as it begins, so I’ve got to enjoy my berries while the enjoyin’ is good.

She's just gotta be in every picture, doesn't she?

She’s just gotta be in every picture, doesn’t she?

To the dog’s everlasting sorrow, the mulberry tree is outside the backyard fence. Here’s a shot of the dog standing guard against mosquitoes while I picked berries. She didn’t do a very good job because I got eaten up. But it was worth it!

I flash froze my berries while I was on my morning run because I prefer frozen fruit in my smoothies. Better texture, to my thinking.

A few other notes, before I share the recipe …

Remember, if you don’t have fresh mulberries, feel free to substitute blueberries or blackberries.

I can’t resist adding healthy stuff to my smoothies because you’d never know it was there! It’s that whole spoonful-of-sugar thing (Mary Poppins, anyone?). So I added chia seeds and spinach. Seriously, you’ll never taste it. And as for the sugar, some readers might prefer a teaspoon of honey or stevia; I’ve become accustomed to unsweetened Greek yogurt and I think pomegranate juice (the real stuff, not that pretender blueberry juice junk) is plenty sweet, but others might disagree. Be sure to add the sugar and blend again before you dump the smoothie in your glass.

I almost named this “Mulberry Protein Smoothie” because it has 22 grams of protein (thank you, Greek yogurt). That’s almost as much as four eggs, and for only 400 calories. I don’t really love the flavor of protein powder, but that would make it even more protein-y.

Talk about a healthy breakfast! Enjoy.

mulberry smoothie

Mulberry Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. mulberries, washed and frozen
  • 1/2 banana, peeled (do I really need to mention the “peeled” part?)
  • 2/3 c. Greek yogurt
  • 10 whole almonds
  • 1/3 c. spinach (pack that cup measure!)
  • 1 T. chia seeds, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate juice

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend to your satisfaction.
  2. Pour in a glass and enjoy.