A (Minor?) Setback

A few weeks ago we took Isaac to the vet for a re-draw of blood. The first blood work he’d had done showed a very, very slightly low thyroid level and the vet wanted to run a few additional thyroid tests.

I hadn’t heard anything and made the rookie mistake of assuming that meant everything fine; not so fast. The vet called late last week and I finally caught up with her today. Without getting too technical, Isaac still has low thyroid levels, meaning he may be suffering from hypothyroidism. What’s unusual is that hypothyroidism is usually accompanied by high antibody levels but that’s not the case with Isaac; his antibody levels are normal.

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So what does it mean, then? It means that either he is A: suffering from hypothyroidism just without the high antibody levels or B: suffering from something other than a thyroid issue. The only reason the vet is slightly leaning towards hypothyroidism is because that condition sometimes causes hair loss, something from which Isaac clearly suffers!

The plan now is to treat Isaac as if he is suffering from hypothyroidism. I will be picking up medication and Isaac will go on that medication for 4-5 weeks and then we’ll re-test. Obviously this means he is on a medical hold in regards to his adoption, which breaks my heart. While he acts like he’s two, he’s almost eight-and-a-half and I want him to find his forever home ASAP so he can have as much time with them as possible.
 
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Before I even heard this latest news from the vet, Isaac did not seem himself this morning. He peed on our dog bed which he’s NEVER done (to date he was the only dog we’ve had that hadn’t used our apartment as his or her bathroom at least once!) and doesn’t have his normal energy. It’s probably something totally unrelated to his and I’m just being paranoid, but if his lack of normal pep is related to the thyroid, I can’t wait to get him on meds and feeling better.

PS – It’s National Dog Day so give your dogs a hug today (and everyday!).

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Isaac was looking so particularly cute and handsome last night I was compelled to whip out my good camera and snap a picture. He almost always crashes around 8:30 every night and looks so peaceful and calm.

Utter sweetness.

Utter sweetness.

We still have obedience issues we’re working on and he’s far from perfect but it’s moments like this one that almost make me forget what a (handsome) menace he can be at times.

A Welcome Box and a Follow-Up

On Thursday, Isaac got his official welcome box from S.N.O.R.T. Since our training session went really late, I held off on opening the box until Friday Isaac was a tad less exhausted!

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He loved everything, particularly the tennis ball.

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This morning (Saturday), Isaac and I went back to the vet so they could draw more blood for a full thyroid panel and to do a second skin scrape to run a few more tests on what might be causing his hair loss, if anything; it’s very possible that a good diet and supplements will solve all our issues.

"The vet is exhausting!"

“The vet is exhausting!”

The best part of the morning? There was another bullie in the waiting room, Titan!

Titan.

Titan.

Titan looked like he needed some TLC as his nose wrinkle was a crusty mess but hey, he’s not my dog and he was still absolutely adorable!

Now we wait to make sure the second round of tests don’t show anything alarming and give Isaac’s body some time to adjust to quality food and supplements!

Another picture just because he's so handsome.

Another picture just because he’s so handsome.

Back to School

Nope, class isn’t in session yet for the university at which I work. I mean doggie school is back in session.

I enrolled Lucy in an eight week puppy school course almost exactly two years ago. The trainer, Mark Cusick, was/is fabulous. Now, Lucy isn’t the most obedient dog on the block but that’s because we let some things we learned slide, not because of Mark’s teaching.

Anyway, I haven’t talked about it much publicly but we recognized pretty darn quickly that Isaac’s behaviors around Lucy were neither appropriate nor acceptable and I’ve really been struggling emotionally with Isaac not fitting in well with Lucy thus far.

The (not-so) model student.

The (not-so) model student.

A happy humper or playful dog isn’t foreign to me; they are dogs, not humans, and don’t always know what’s appropriate and what’s not. However, despite our (attempted) corrections and Lucy’s own verbal warnings – yes, I let her snap at Isaac so he knows she doesn’t like his behavior – zero impact has been made on Isaac. He still persists in mounting Lucy and annoying the crap out of her. It’s almost as if he’s obsessed with her and we don’t know why; both dogs are fixed and Lucy certainly doesn’t encourage his behavior.

I also can’t tell if Isaac is this way around all female dogs, only smaller female dogs, etc. because we haven’t let him interact with other dogs yet; that could be a potential disaster.

Long story short, I was upset, really depressed and frustrated with the situation so we called Mark and asked him if he could do a home visit training session with us; he said yes and tonight was our training session.

Let me tell you, tonight’s session was worth every penny (and it was a lot of pennies!).

Sure we addressed his inappropriate behavior with Lucy but a lot of the session was geared toward me (and Marty) establishing our role as the leaders, not Isaac. I have no idea what his previous home was like but I’m willing to bet a very significant amount of money Isaac was the leader in his previous home.

By establishing ourselves as leaders, Isaac can’t try to establish himself as leader over Lucy or anything else that isn’t technically his (toys, food, etc.).

It will take a lot of work – on our part and Isaac’s – to keep re-enforcing and practicing what we’ve learned. His behavior is not going to change overnight but we now know what to do to elicit the behavior we do want out of Isaac.

Mentally and emotionally I feel like a load has been lifted off. There’s hope that Isaac can change and all four of us can peacefully co-exist.

Lucy, meanwhile, had a blast. She loves Mark and got plenty of practice (and therefore treats) as she showed off what she still remembered from puppy school.

Now we have one tired dog (Lucy)…

Soooo sleepy.

Soooo sleepy.

And one semi-tired dog (Isaac)…

Shockingly not all that tired.

Shockingly not all that tired.

In other news, Isaac has another vet appointment on Saturday to re-check his thyroid levels (initial blood results showed they were very slightly low which could have been a cause for his hair loss) and to get a second skin scrape to rule out demodex mange (the vet is 99% sure it’s not mange but wants to officially rule out what we can).

Also, Isaac got his official “welcome” package from S.N.O.R.T. so I’ll be sure to share all about his vet visit and welcome box.

Isaac Goes to the Vet

Isaac had his very first vet visit since coming to S.N.O.R.T.!

Diagnosis? Too handsome for his own good!

Diagnosis? Too handsome for his own good!

The obvious main issue to address was his skin as he’s missing large chunks of fur on both flanks. However, we also don’t know the last time he had a good physical, bloodwork, etc. so that was all on tap for today, too.

Like most dogs, he spent most of his time listening to the sounds outside the door.

Like most dogs, he spent most of his time listening to the sounds outside the door.

First up, though, was the scale. This big boy is a whopping 63.8 pounds! However, he’s 64 pounds of pure muscle – vet said he doesn’t need to lose any weight. That’s right, he’s just a naturally big boy!

We won’t get bloodwork results for a bit but his skin scrape actually showed nothing obviously wrong, despite how he looks:

Baldy!

Baldy!

For now, we’re going to continue on good, quality, grain-free food as well as fish oil supplements, Zyrtec (to stop him from itching and making the area worse) and I’ll continue with his coconut oil rubs, as well (if nothing else it makes the apartment smell better!).

Unless the bloodwork shows a cause for the hair loss, we’ll just continue with the above plan and hope the hair eventually starts to fill in.

Happy boy

Happy boy

Despite his continued “issues” with Lucy (the poor boy has NO idea how to play or what the word “no” means – which is another post for later in the week), he is a pure lovebug through and through. Not a mean bone in his body and everyone at the vet adored him. All in all, a pretty positive visit!

Meet Isaac!

This morning I picked up Isaac!

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He is eight years old, BIG and a humper! And Lucy is not a fan of his humping. At all. First time I’ve ever seen her snap at a dog. So for now he’s in the kitchen and Lucy is in the family room until they get used to each other.

From what I can tell after having him for a whole entire hour, he has lots and lots of energy. When we got home, he wouldn’t stop humping Lucy so I took him for a walk around the neighbor hood. Verdict? He is definitely a walker.

After our walk, I put him in the kitchen and put up the gate. Not 30 seconds later I heard a strange sound; he had found Marty’s medicine ball and thought it was a ball for him.

Yes, he's sitting ON the ball.

Yes, he’s sitting ON the ball.

I eventually had to take it away from him because he would not quit!

As you can see, his skin is not good so I’ll be making a vet appointment ASAP. Other than the skin (and humping), he seems to be in good shape. He’s not fat (just solid), has been neutered and obviously his joints, breathing, etc. are all fine as he sped around the block!

If the humping continues, I will definitely work on some behavior training. Usually a water bottle spritzed in the face is a good way to discourage a certain behavior, whether it be barking, biting or…humping.

Grownup Stuff

I mentioned a few months ago that I was working with Ashley from Saving Money in Your Twenties (which is, sadly, an age group to which I no longer belong but her advice is sound advice no matter your age).

Ashley asked me to be a guinea pig of sorts as she tested out her personal coaching business. It’s no secret that sports information directors (even if they have fancy titles like mine – Director of Athletic Communications) do NOT make a lot of money. Thus, my goals in working with Ashley were to learn where in the heck my money is going each month and what I can do to maximize what I am making while balancing grad school payments.

Oh, and my long-term goal? Own a house so I can have two permanent dogs. :-)

"What, am I not enough for you??"

“What, am I not enough for you??”

So how did the whole process go? It was really, really helpful. For the first time I feel organized in regards to my money (even what little I have); I know where my money is being spent and with Ashley’s help, I set up monthly categories for all my expenses. The goal is to stay within the max budget we set for each category. If I can do that, I’ll have more “leftover” money at the end of each month than I realized.

The key, though? Actually doing something with that “leftover” money rather than letting it sit in my checking account, destined to be spent at some point. And that’s another big thing I got out of working with Ashley; it prompted me to get cracking on the things I knew needed to be done but had been avoiding – opening up a new savings account, calling Verizon to see if I could get my monthly cell phone bill lowered, etc.

Does it take a little extra work to track and categorize my expenses? Yes. Is it difficult? No! Is it worth it? Yes!! I’m not old by any stretch but I’m not young, either, so this whole process came at a great time. My organization and saving habits remain relevant no matter how much money I go on to make one day (hey, a girl can dream).