Thursday, December 21, 2017

Death and the Birth of Understanding

Today is the Winter Solstice.  It’s been a dark season and I’m looking forward to the days getting longer. Looking forward to what the sunlight will bring. My dog taught me that.

It’s been nine weeks since my mother died. She died at home, acting of her own free will to stop eating and take to her bed a mere five days before. I’ve been her caretaker for quite some time and the past year had become an almost non-stop stream of meals and errands and medical visits. Through it all Vida was by my side and by my mom’s side, her concern for us demonstrated by both worried pacing and happy distraction. I am proud to have been able to assist my mother toward her end as she wanted it. The only wish of hers that we could not quite fulfill was that she just be able to go to bed and simply go to sleep. 

It’s been nine days since my dog died. Vida made it through my mother’s death and certainly wished she could have helped me further along before succumbing herself, but the cancer returned and there was nothing we could do. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Make your own "Hunk of Beef"

There's no reason to buy canned pet food to top off your dog's meal. 

You'll save money using higher quality meat (human-grade, 'cause you bought it in the people store rather than trusting a pet food company to be honest), and you'll know exactly what's in it (no mysterious objects or additives). 

It's getting to the point that it's crazy not to do this. There really is no excuse (crock pots are cheap, or see if a neighbor has one gathering dust in the cupboard).

You can even create nutritionally complete diets at home with a little extra effort and supplementation (thus the tip about calcium, the main thing most people leave out when making their dog's complete at home). 

Do this process once or twice a month, and put the finished food in the freezer in mason jars for easy dispensing as needed. 

Get started with this simple "hunk of beef" that you can spoon over their current food. 

PS: don't be shocked to see this cooking post on my blog - being flexible with people and dogs is important. My 17 year old still eats raw, but her aging taste-buds appreciate this cooked addition mixed in.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dog Care Is Self Care

Whew! It's been awhile. 

We're all busy aren't we? At least we feel busy. Distractions can seem to come from all sides, pulling  us away from thoughtful actions and peaceful feelings. 

These are the times that when asked to do something thoughtful for our dogs we may think to ourselves "oh yeah, I should do that tomorrow," or our good intentions and compelling ideas fade away as we rush to grocery shop and make dinner at the end of a work day.

When I get to feeling like that I try to think about how the situation may be effecting my well-being too. One of the blessings of having dogs as companions is that they remind us to get grounded and pay attention to what matters, and to let go of the other stuff for a little while. 

The wonderful thing is to rediscover how good it feels to do this. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Accommodating Elders

This summer I had to do a little fixing at the cabin to help Vida stay safer.  Her vision is only so-so now, and her physical abilities aren't quite up to her belief in her own sportdog activity prowess (sorry ol' gal, your jumping isn't quite what it used to be). It hasn't been fail-safe, but it has helped. Here are some things that might help you out too.

Friday, June 24, 2016

This Is Not A Machine

This is a machine.

When the brakes aren't working well you can take it in and get the brakes fixed. Later, when the belts are worn, you can get new belts put in.

Each part, though interacting with some of the other parts, is singular, and when repaired will work like new.

This is not a machine.

Every part of this animal is interconnected. Fluid and energy flows through every cell; communicating, sharing, influencing.

When part of this body isn't working every other part of the body needs to be taken into account.

Blood tests look at the body like a machine. They can tell you when something is broken, but it can't tell you when the interrelationships of all the parts of the body are in disarray.

Listening to the heart can tell you if the murmur seems worse, but not why.

My opening comment today at the vet was "Fire and Water are in a battle."

This is why I see a vet who works with Traditional Chinese Medicine, so I can discuss the symptoms and signs of imbalance and get help summarizing them and circling around to a conclusion. Because according to mainstream veterinary science she's "doing well for her age," with stellar bloodwork, and her other complaints are just to be expected.

In TCM we talk about Yin and Yang not flowing in harmony, about Kidney energy not able to get up to cool and moisten the far end of the body, about tongue shape and pulse, about the look of the midback and sclera color indicating subclinical liver difficulties (remember her perfect bloodwork?), about her evening agitation during the time when Kidney moves to Pericardium, about fleas on her head and arthritis in her hind, about her eating and drinking habits, about her pain symptoms (and what's helping), about her sloppy thinking and sloppy heartbeats, all culminating in the conclusion that the Triple Heater needs herbal assistance to gently open the flow between the three sectors of the body, and that the herbs for her kidney need to be dosed differently to strengthen that organ's energetic abilities to cool the head.

This is why TCM is so valuable when you know your dog is out of whack but there's nothing to "fix" in the machine sense. To keep adding on supplements for individual symptoms eventually leads to a pile of pills and a lack of satisfaction.

We're heading out to the woods soon, looking forward to cool nights, fresh air, and clean water. I'll be watching her, all of her. And marveling at this contained and lively ecosystem that is not a machine at all.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Healing from Surgery - Vida's Dental Part 2

Did you know that dogs have 42 teeth?

That's ok... I don't even know how many teeth I'm supposed to have. 

But when I tell people how many teeth Vida had taken out I'm amazed at how many people ask "does she have any left?"

Here you can see a map of what was removed. You can also see that a few teeth were already missing. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they would just drop out like that? Oh well. 

Those two big premolars on the top had been collecting tartar - and when they examined them the probe went clear across!

Some of the others were bad too, some were loose (like those incisors that had been displaced by the tumor). 

I was really glad she kept her canines, they help keep the tongue resting in the mouth (didn't know that, didja?).

Preparation - let's both be calm and ready.

I reduced some supplements to avoid complications with the anesthesia and surgery. Some common things like fish oil and many herbal anti-inflammatories can make it harder for blood to clot, which is not good when you have freshly empty sockets in the mouth. I also stopped the cannabis 24hrs ahead because of the anesthesia. 

Flower Essences! I think essences are one the most important things you can do for a dog getting surgery. I brought a small spray bottle of Alaskan Essences Soul Support and misted her with it before we went into the building, and again before she went to the back. It's also very good for owners who are anxious when waiting.

Homeopathics - I used Newton Homeopathic Accident Rescue formula once before she went back to surgery. It covers different kinds of pain, stress, and injury. 

Recovery - wake up, walk out, relax.

Flower Essences - Soul Support again. I misted around her to help her both revive and relax. Coming out of anesthesia is anxiety-inducing, and whining isn't unusual. 

Homeopathics - I applied Newton's Accident rescue to her paw pads - I brought the liquid so as not to introduce pillules into the mouth, but it does have alcohol, so I didn't want to cause pain by using it orally just after surgery.

Reiki - I had been offering Reiki during her surgery, and continued as she woke up.

Acupressure - The point called Leg Three Mile (aka Stomach 36) can help strengthen the constitution (and help them get walking steadily). Sea of Tranquility (Conception Vessel 17) can calm. 

Cannabis - I squirted a small amount of liquid (an oil and glycerin formula made from industrial hemp) into her mouth as soon as she was awake enough to receive it safely. This non-irritating formula was to get started helping with pain and anxiety.

Repair and Restoration

The first evening went well, she took a little broth and slept, only waking once during the night. 

For the following week a regular schedule of pain relief, both homeopathic and herbal, kept her comfortable.

Colloidal silver was added to her drinking water, and an oral rinse was made of calendula, comfrey, yarrow, goldenseal and sage (based on a recipe I used when she had radiation treatment).

I put her right back on raw food. I made sure to use calcium powder instead of ground bones so there'd be no pieces to get caught anywhere, and added water to make it lickable. 

Within a couple of days her energetic body was so much more balanced - when I looked at her she was physically balanced. There was no longer such excessive energy being consumed up in her head with the hidden pain of her teeth.

Two weeks in we went in for a recheck, and it all looked good except for one lower socket. Then I heard Dr. Pitcairn describe using homeopathic calendula orally for wound repair, so I ordered some in and got her started on that just a few days ago.

It's three-and-a-half weeks and I'm starting to brush again. I have been wiping with gauze wrapped around my finger to help keep things clean, but I think we're both ready to get back to the brush... gently.

I continue to use flower and gem essences to help her heal, and am doing energy work as well. At her age she needs more help getting back in to full balance, and gentle healing from essences and crystals are powerful without being disruptive.

I'm waiting a bit to do extra work to help her body recover from the work of detoxifying itself from the anesthesia so I'm  not piling too many herbs in at once.

What have I learned?

Brush! Brush daily. 

Get to know your dog's mouth.

Don't discount tartar.

Don't be afraid of well-done anesthesia. Don't get me wrong, you don't want to put that stuff in their bodies willy-nilly, but to avoid taking care of known dental problems because you fear the anesthesia is doing a disservice to your dog. 

Vida is playing with her wool balls, fetching her water toy, and trying out different levels of chewable foods. She's still getting to know her new oral terrain, and is feeling much, much better!