Poor Kramer

Yesterday marked six weeks to the day since I brought Kramer home and he/we celebrated his six weeks by getting him neutered and scheduling a dental.

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“Neutering means what?!”

The dental ended up being the more complicated of the two procedures. When the vet did an oral exam, he saw a lot of plaque and a few already missing teeth but thought that overall the plaque was the biggest issue. Not quite. Ends up Kramer had severe gum disease that wasn’t visible during an oral exam. While Kramer was under anesthesia and they began examining his mouth, the vet was able to stick his instrument almost a centimeter deep in some areas of Kramer’s gums – that’s not good.

Kramer came home with five teeth left. Not five teeth extracted. Five teeth left. According to the vet, teeth were falling out left and right with very little prodding; as the vet tried to clean one tooth, the other next to it would fall out. While one tooth looked ok, the x-rays revealed zero roots holding the tooth in.

My poor little buddy. He wasn’t woken up from anesthesia until 4:30 and I couldn’t pick him up until 7 p.m. He was still so incredibly out of it, as is expected. But because he’s always such an energetic, happy guy, it was such a stark difference from the doggie I dropped off. When Lady lost 14 teeth, she was groggy but Lady slept 90% of the day to begin with – it wasn’t such a drastic difference. Kramer was just not himself at all. He gave me the most half-hearted tail wag I’ve ever seen him give and just stared off into space.

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He was so groggy he thought Lucy was a chair.

He was the saddest little sight. He was falling asleep sitting up – he refused to lay down but couldn’t stay sitting up. His mouth incisions were still bleeding quite a bit and he just sat there, swaying, with his little tongue permanently sticking out of his mouth.

He wasn’t much more alert this morning – he still had little interest in food which made it hard to get his meds in him. I was able to get some of his meds into him with some peanut butter and by the time I came home at lunch to check on the doggies, he was dramatically better. His tail was wagging at full speed and he stood right up in his crate to greet me.

Getting the meds in him is still an issue; he must HATE the taste of one of them because he refuses it in all forms – mixed in food, mixed in peanut butter, mixed in whipped cream. And then he ate a few gulps of his canned food and promptly puked it up – all over my sandals.

I finally got some canned food to stay down and he ate 75% of his pain meds with peanut butter after much prompting and forcing of peanut butter in his mouth.

He is so much better tonight, puking aside. He’s energetic and starting to bark at mystery noises outside again. My poor guy – he’s going to feel so much better now, though, with all those painful teeth gone.

Be sure to check SNORT’s available page – he should be listed soon!

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Kramer’s First Vet Visit

This evening Kramer had what was almost definitely his first-ever vet visit. All in all, a successful visit.

The quick rundown: he is heartworm and Lyme negative. At a healthy weight (maybe even slightly underweight). His heart sounds good. He has an enlarged prostate (which will be alleviated when he’s neutered) and bad teeth (which we’ll take care of with a dental while he’s under for the neuter). His eyes are good. His ears are dirty but nothing alarming.

And this picture accurately sums up our visit:

IMG_2057He really wasn’t as bad as this picture makes it look. He was just wriggly, squirmy and energetic for the entire visit. It often took three of us to hold him in place for basic stuff, like hearing his heart. He was having none of it – he wasn’t angry, per say, he was just confused and wiggly! He’s wiggly at home, too – sometimes it takes me a good 30 seconds to clip his leash on because he squirms so much!

We’re waiting on fecal test results and an estimate for his neuter/dental. If the estimate is too high we may have to find another vet but big picture, he’s pretty darn healthy all things considered.

Oh, and I’ve been a tad busy since Saturday afternoon. I agreed to watch Spike, former SNORT foster and now Marty’s dog. I’ve been dying to meet the guy and he was as adorable as I expected, but three dogs (one of which is close to 70 pounds and still all puppy) in 680 square feet was a bit of an exhausting challenge! Spike left this afternoon and everyone – Lucy, Kramer, me – will be recovering for a few days!

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You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

In many cases, that’s a good thing. Sometimes it works out well to be semi-oblivious when embarking on something new, unknown, different, etc. If I let the unknown hold me back, I would not be where I am in life right now and while life is up and down, I’m largely in a good spot.

This morning, one of my Facebook memories was of my first foster, Nellie (fka Cindy) from four years ago.

I look back on that experience and realize I had absolutely no freaking clue what I was getting myself into. It’s not a secret that when I started volunteering with SNORT, I had no intentions of fostering. Lucy was still a puppy – probably around seven months old or so. Our apartment had space but it wasn’t huge. My job hours were nuts (and remained nuts for the next four-plus years). ­

I’m not even sure what prompted me to change my mind about fostering. Because Nellie was a puppy mill dog, there were no photos of her (the Amish don’t allow people on their property to take photos of dogs they are surrendering). There was zero information about her besides she was a puppy mill mama who was being given up because she could no longer have litters.

But something in me just had to take her in, so we did. I picked her up sight unseen on a super cold, cloudy, depressing January morning, took one look at her, thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?!” And promptly fell head over heels in love.

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Meeting Nellie for the first time. Love at first sight.

Now with seven fosters under my belt (and hopefully more in the near future), I’ve come to realize there’s a whole list of things I didn’t know I didn’t know before I embarked on this adventure. I was clueless about a lot.

I Didn’t Know:
1. I had such high levels of empathy and patience.
Patience has never been my strong suit. It’s why I’ve remained up in the air about wanting to have kids. But my level of empathy and patience has been practically unlimited with each foster. I don’t even have that much patience with Lucy. But with the fosters? Sure, I got upset when they crapped on the carpet or flipped the heck out during thunderstorms and kept me up for hours. But the amount of poop I cleaned up or the time I spent in the bathroom with a certain foster (Isaac!) during thunderstorms rarely fazed me. I’m not saying I’ve become Mother Teresa, but I’ve learned I have a higher capacity for patience and empathy than I previously thought.

 

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This handsome boy was petrified of thunderstorms.

2. There was so much medical lingo to learn
Entropian. Cherry eye (which I actually learned about with Lucy). Interdigital cyst. Pyometra. Thyroid levels. Seasonal alopecia. Unexplained alopecia. Spina bifida. There isn’t a single foster I’ve had that hasn’t underdone surgery or had a major medical issue. Nellie – heartworm, lyme. Violet (fka Snowy) – spay, entropian, dry eye, bladder cancer scare. Buddy – neuter, dental. Isaac – puppy Prozac, alopecia. Novalee – spina bifida. Blossom – spay, dental (I think). Lady – spay, dental.

I don’t know everything, but I’ve sure learned a lot.

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Novalee had spina bifida but you never would have known it.

3. I’d have to learn to not be squeamish
No sooner had I laid eyes on Nellie than I realized she was leaking…down there. And not pee. It was a…thick goo. Leftover from an infection or a recent litter, probably. But that poor girl just left a trail of gunk everywhere she went for a few days/weeks.

Many fosters have not been housetrained so there’s been countless pee puddles and piles of poo to clean up. So much laundry. Wiping of all bodily areas. I’ve seen tons of incisions, ears filled with wax and countless eye boogers. And let’s not talk about post-surgery poo…

Novalee once ate an entire bag of raw almonds. Let’s just say it became quickly apparent she hadn’t chewed said almonds when she spent three days walking around inside our apartment like a giant pez dispenser of almonds.

I’ve developed a stronger stomach over the past few years.

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Buddy the Pug may have peed on me (and Lucy) a time or two. #maledogproblems

4. That I would handle adoptions better than I expected
Don’t get me wrong, I was a disaster when Nellie was adopted. And tears have been shed every single time a foster has been adopted. I miss them all. But I absolutely love the experience of fostering. It gives me a sense of purpose, something to keep me busy and selfishly, it feels so good be a part of saving a dog. If I had an unlimited budget and a bigger home, at least a few of these fosters would have probably wound up as “foster failures.” But I know going into each foster that I really can’t have two dogs – not enough money, not enough space – and that reality helps when it comes time to find a forever home for each foster. Now, there hasn’t been a foster in which I haven’t uttered the words, “I think I’ll keep him/her,” but deep down I’m fully aware it’s not the ideal option for either party involved.

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Lady, my first foster all on my own.

5. It’s a total team effort
Six of my seven fosters came when I was living with Marty. While the interest in fostering was 100% me, actually fostering was a different matter. When more than one person is impacted by taking on a foster, it becomes a team effort. Maybe not with the equal distribution of work and time, but each person in the home has some added responsibility and stress.

It also takes help from my employers – days I may need to leave early for a vet appointment or even take an entire day off to shuttle a dog to a vet appointment or surgery.

And travel impacts everyone – most holidays I’ve had a foster so that impacts every family we visit over the holidays. Each foster is different and because each was not my own nor raised as my own, their quirks don’t necessarily make them ideal houseguests. So it does indeed take a village.

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Backseat roadtrip buddies.

6. It’s stressful
I believe I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but it is stressful to bring a foster home. The days leading up bringing home a foster are anxiety-ridden. What will he/she be like? Will they like Lucy? Will Lucy like them (probably not). Are they housetrained (probably not)? Will they eat (probably not)? Where will they sleep? Are they super sick? And then once I get them home? What does that bark mean? Are they scared? Why don’t they lie down and sleep? Is that cough normal?

I’m an anxious person by nature so the early days surrounding a foster are really stressful for me. Everyone’s different but stress is one of the overriding emotions for me when I’m fostering.

I’ll never forget one of the biggest sources of anxiety with Nellie – she refused to eat. I tried everything. Dry food. Wet food. Chicken and rice. Wet and dry food mixed. Straight bouillon. Nothing worked. Until it was suggested from a fellow foster mom that she probably had no clue what a bowl was or how to eat out of it. So, I scooped some food into a super shallow frisbee and voila! She was eating like a champ. But I was just so stressed out during those first few days when I could not get her to eat.

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Making a mess; we soon progressed to a frisbee. Baby steps.

7. I would have a hard time saying “no”
I’m kind of a selfish person. Hence the reason I’m not sure I want kids. I like setting my own schedule (when work allows), taking naps on the weekends and essentially doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Fostering puts a crimp in that. Having a foster is double the work, often triple the work. After Nellie was adopted, we were going to take a break and reassess whether we wanted to foster again and how quickly. We’d had Nellie for about six months, I think, which is a pretty substantial amount of time. But roughly six weeks after her adoption, I got a phone call about Violet, saying she needed a new foster home and wondering if I was interested. “Yes” may have slipped out before I could give serious thought to it. Oops.

So despite being a self-proclaimed “selfish” person, I’ve found myself saying “yes” a lot more when it comes to fosters.

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I’m not quite sure how you say “no” to that face.

All of this is to say that fostering is a big (and important) commitment. But there isn’t a single foster experience I regret. Each dog has meant so much to me and I can’t emphasize how much the benefits outweigh the stressors.

Adventures with Lucy

Now that the weather is warmer, I’m trying to get out more to explore my “new” city. I moved here in the middle of November and so until now, the weather hasn’t really been conducive to outdoor activities. But, last weekend was absolutely perfect so Lucy and I explored a new dog park.

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The pitfall of having no snout? Inability to pick up a frisbee.

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I know, she’s beautiful.

The dog park is ridiculously nice. It is turf (a bonus after all the rain we’ve had) and has a big dog section and a small dog section. There are beautiful Adirondack chairs for the humans and a water feature that turns on in warmer weather – can’t wait to bring Lucy back in the summer to see her reaction to that!

As usual, she wasn’t so into playing with other dogs but made several trips up and down the park, basking in the human attention and pets. She was super content to roam and watch the other dogs.

On Wednesday, we had a post-op follow-up scheduled at the vet. Everything has healed great – now the question is what to do about her tooth around which the tumor grew? The tumor she had removed will almost certainly come back because it grew around that tooth and its ligaments ( didn’t know teeth had ligaments?); as long as that tooth and its ligaments are still there, the tumor will almost certainly re-grow.

Our vet sent her biopsy and x-rays to a specialist to determine if we remove the tooth and its ligaments now or wait for the tumor to re-grow. Either way it looks like we’re facing surgery relatively soon or down the road.

Fortunately, she adores the vet and while I absolutely do not want to put her under for surgery again, she handles surgery, anesthesia and recovery really well and is super happy to be at the vet.

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Ridiculously happy to be at the vet.

Because our appointment was late in the evening, I took her to work with me this afternoon so we could go right to the vet after work. She had a blast.

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Taking it all in at work.

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Pretty nice setup under my desk. 

Next weekend we go to New Jersey for a brief weekend visit with my parents so the adventures continue!

A (Deservedly) Spoiled Dog

Friday night, I had five packages waiting for me; four were for Lady. She now has a wardrobe that spans a matching harness and leash to (sparkly) sweaters to an outdoor coat.

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Thanks to wonderful SNORT supporters and family and friends, Lady is not only warm, but she has an entire wardrobe!

We went to the vet Thursday night and so far so good. She’s still on meds for kennel cough and Lyme and we started an anti-yeast medication to get her itchies under control. Right now that remains the most obvious issue – she is still very, very itchy, so we’re working on that.

She’s also put on two-plus pounds! That’s my girl! She adores treats, peanut butter and mealtime so it is zero surprise she’s putting on weight. She’s now started whining when I’m not fast enough with the treats – just like a normal dog!

I can also see why she’s inclined to be skinny – like every pug I’ve ever met, she follows me everywhere. If she can hear me, that is. I’ve quickly figured out she is partially hard of hearing. Whenever I come home, she usually stays fast asleep because she hasn’t heard me open the door. I kind of love it, though; I get to see her all curled up and peaceful before she wakes up.

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Lady is also getting to be so excited when she finally realizes I’m home. She runs right over and waits for me to kneel down and pet her. She puts her wee little paws on my lap for closer snuggles. I love it.

And we’re now t-minus four days until I pick up Lucy; I’m more than anxious to see how that goes. Because of her kennel cough, I haven’t let Lady near dogs in the apartment complex but at this point she isn’t contagious anymore so I’m hoping to let her meet a dog or two before introducing her to Lucy so I can see how she is around dogs. Today she spotted a dog across the street and was super interested – in a good way. So I’m optimistic (for once).

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I just adore this dog. She was sweet from the start but now she’s starting to become a bit more outwardly happy and it melts my heart.

A Whirlwind

On Friday, Nov. 11, my parents and I moved almost all of my stuff into my new apartment in Lancaster. That night, I drove back to Selinsgrove so I could work my final athletic event (football senior day – you know, nothing terribly complicated 😛 ) on Saturday. Then on Sunday, I  made the trip back to Lancaster in preparation for my first day of work at my new job on Monday.

Clearly I crammed quite a bit into a few short days. My parents were invaluable in getting me settled and last Sunday, I brought Lucy into her new home. It actually made me choke up a bit; she’s only ever known one home and I was ripping her away from that home (and Marty). A tad dramatic, I know, but I’m good at drama.

I really had no choice and made the right move; this job was an opportunity I could not pass up, even if it meant uprooting my life .

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The view outside our new living room.

One week into the job and overwhelmed would be an understatement. New job in a new career field. New apartment. New routine. Living on my own for the first time in five years. Still balancing some work obligations at my previous job. As someone who hates change, it’s been a bit rough. But I did this exact same thing (minus the whole career change) six years ago and I survived. So I can do it again. And having actual weekends to myself is going to be like heaven.

Having Lucy with me has also helped tremendously. I feel a bit guilty – she’s alone longer during the day but the trade-off is that I am around all weekend, something that wasn’t the case before.

Unlike our old apartment, this one is one floor which means Lucy can actually go into the bedroom. The first night here, she decided she wanted to sleep in my bed. She’s never even had the opportunity before and I figured we were both lonely, so I let her stay.

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“I’m ready for bed, Mom!”

Until 2 a.m., that is, after five hours of her snoring and doing laps on the bed. I’d had enough and planted her on the couch where she’s stayed ever since. But she does like coming to wake me up in the mornings.

And yesterday, Lucy decided she would force me to discover where the closest ER vet was as she stepped on something outside and got bit or stung. She wouldn’t put her paw down on the ground and wouldn’t let me look at it. I thought maybe she got something stuck in her paw but obviously she wasn’t going to let me look closely enough to figure out what the heck was going on, so off to the vet we went.

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Pooped after spending a few hours at the ER vet.

She loves the vet so of course she acted totally normal once we got there but her paw was red and a bit puffy so she got a steroid shot. I probably overreacted but that’s another thing I’m really good at.

This weekend, I made only two missteps in assembling my new TV stand and book case and successfully set up my new router, cable and internet. Combined with an overflowing toilet, I’d say it’s been smooth sailing (that’s sarcasm).

But week one is in the books and we all survived. Here’s to week two and beyond.

The Old Lady Gets Surgery

It’s been a while between posts but that’s because things have been very routine, which is good! Blossom has settled right in. She gets along well with Lucy (although we call her the “fun police” because she barks at Lucy when Lucy tries to play), has our routine down pat and has been generally wonderful. No accidents and she sleeps through the night – in our bed, of course 🙂

This past Thursday, though, the time came to get her spayed. SNORT (and I ) went back and forth about whether it was worth it to spay a 14-year-old pug. We ultimately decided that spaying her could only help her odds of being adopted. Plus, we could get a dental done at the same time; since she wouldn’t let the vet examine her mouth during her initial exam, we really didn’t know what we were facing.

I was nervous because of her age but she did fine – better than fine.

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“How do YOU know I’m doing fine?”

I picked her up Friday afternoon and she was very happy to see me – as I was to see her. She was not sorry, however, to say good-bye to the vet. To quote the vet tech, “she doesn’t like us very much.” I’m assuming she was not a happy camper and had several “fits” when they tried to pick her up, put her collar on, etc. Oh well. Everyone survived.

She did lose 10 teeth – teeth that were either broken off and/or decaying. But other than that, the surgeries were routine and she’s doing great. Eating well, moving around well and not at all happy with the cone of shame.

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All cone, zero dog.

All in all, very glad to have this behind us. Surgery and recovery have, so far, been better than expected and now she has a healthy mouth and her spay is all taken care of. Next step – available for adoption?

PS – Lucy says hi.

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Blossom Update

So we’ve had a few highs and a few lows since bringing Blossom home.

Let’s start with the highs:

She’s adorable. So freaking cute. She has an adorable gray muzzle, the biggest cow eyes and the best head tilt in the world.

She has settled into our routine relatively easily. She’s quick to join us (and Lucy) on the couch, knows she gets a treat after doing her business outside, knows our walking route and quickly got into the routine of sleeping in our bed 🙂

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She and Lucy are still getting along very well. Again, I wouldn’t say they interact all that much – Blossom certainly doesn’t play with toys like Lucy does – but they are totally comfortable being in the same room and spend the days sleeping on the couch together.

Blossom’s relatively healthy (more on that in the “lows” section, though). She is perfectly house trained, eats with no issues and gets around wonderfully.

Now, the lows:
Despite appearing to be healthy, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Her levels came back low enough that treatment isn’t necessarily required but we’re still gathering the facts. Ultimately, she might have to undergo treatment for it, which would suck.

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Her “Elvis lip”

She has a few big quirks which I mentioned in my previous post. I cannot touch her feet and when trying to put on her (adorable) new harness we had a not-so-minor freakout that left her “off” for the rest of the night. She was antsy and nervous. Poor thing. I can’t expect years of abuse to be erased in a few days, if ever, but it makes me sad she was scared when I simply tried to put a harness on her.

She is a barker. Fortunately, a 17-pound peanut of a dog doesn’t bark very loudly but it’s still in stark contrast to Lucy.

She’s a velcro dog. This isn’t really a low but I wouldn’t call it a high, either. It’s hard to call it a high when I can’t pee by myself. But she’s so darn cute it’s hard to get angry.

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I cannot get angry at this face.

Anyway, it’s obvious I love her and she is fitting in very well after less than a week. We’re still learning her quirks and I’m very quickly remembering what it’s like having a pug around but so far it has been really good for all of us!