Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bone Broth

Great color!
This weekend's grey and rainy tone made my bone broth seem even more important. A warming, nourishing antidote to the blustery weather.

There are many description of making bone broth on the internet, and no one way to do it. The only thing that's really consistent is that you need to add an acidic element to help pull the minerals out of the bones, and that you need to cook the bones a long time to get the most nutrients out of them.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sauerkraut?? You betcha!

I'm on a sauerkraut kick. I just made my second batch and it's delicious, one of my new favorite condiments. 
Latest batch results.

I never liked it growing up, but I'd only had the store-bought stuff.  The most important difference is that the sauerkraut you buy at the store that's sold unrefrigerated has none of the key nutritional values that home-made has. 

It's not only rich in vitamin C and other nutrients, it's rich in enzymes and probiotics. I love the fact that we can eat food instead of taking a powder or capsule. Well guess what? So can our dogs. Yes, dogs can eat sauerkraut. It's just fermented cabbage. It's actually closer to prey animal stomach contents than straight raw vegetables, and is an excellent addition to a fresh food diet. You can add other veggies to the cabbage too, like seaweed, to make it even more nutritious.

How much? Well of course there's no dose for this sort of thing. It's food, just be sensible.

So how do you do it yourself? 
Have fun! Encourage your dogs to taste it and enjoy it yourself. When I found out how easy it was to make I was shocked, and happy to find an easy way to improve my own and my dog's diet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How To Turn Your Dog Into An Herbalist

I call Vida an herbalist. Not because she always knows exactly what to choose for self-care (many animals do this, just read Wild Health), but because she's willing to try almost everything I offer her to eat. She's open minded, and trusts me when I offer edibles. How did this happen? Here are some tips that should help you develop this relationship too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Waste Not Want Not - Making Food With Weeds

I chide my mom for her antipathy toward dandelions, but it does save me a lot of work - I don't have to pick them all! I found her "harvest" in a pot in the yard and grabbed them all for making some veggie-mashup for Vida. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"There's nothing wrong with me a couple of treats won't fix."

It's been three weeks since Vida's surgery. Check it out. If you look really close, you can just about make out the path of the scar. Except where the hair is growing over it. Yep, it's already receding into the forest of fur that's coming back (the brindle pattern helps camouflage it too, hehe).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's called a Nerve Sheath Tumor

We have a name for it now, the blob that Vida just got off her leg. It was a Nerve Sheath Tumor. It looks like the margins were good, and while there's a chance it could come back I'm not too worried (good news about this type is that it doesn't spread). Not unconcerned enough to stop the extra immune supplements and care, but it was immediately clear after the surgery that her energy was clear now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Post-Surgical Energy Seachange

Within two days of removing the growth on her leg the change in Vida's energy has been profound. Her energetic body has been released from a burden. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bubble Removal Complete

Vida's had a "bubble" growing on a rear leg for two years now. I didn't worry about it because it seemed like a lipoma (a fatty growth, usually benign), it didn't bother her, and with her mouth we had a much more serious issue to take care of. In fact, I think most of the vet notes didn't even mention in. Lipomas have become so common that they are considered normal in old dogs - even though Vida isn't old yet. 

No one has an official explanation for them, but I think they're the body's way of compartmentalizing bad stuff (how do you like that for scientific). For instance, Vida's first started when she was given a phlegm clearing herbal blend ("Max's Formula") two years ago. It was as if the body was asked to move the phlegm, and not being able to get it out of the body, set up a spot to store it. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If given a choice, what would your dog choose?

Yesterday morning we closed up our New Hampshire cabin and started the drive back to San Diego.

While my mom and I were busy with all of this, Vida didn't hover, or sunbathe. She spent nearly two hours disappearing into the woods. She'd reappear occasionally (sometimes when asked, sometimes on her own), checking in before diving back into the forest. Her brindle coloring really does make her disappear; I'd never see her at all if it weren't for her white collar and tail tip. She slides in to her woodland role even better because her tags are held in a neoprene packet that silences them.

She'd come back with her eyes bright and shiny, her mouth open and tongue red, panting slightly. But she wasn't panting from exertion as much as from excitement. While I'm sure that her adventuring was a good way for her to deal with the stress of our preparations, it felt like she was excitedly drinking in as much scent as possible so it would last her until we returned next year. It was as if she were trying to commit the geography of smells to memory so she could remember them later and access them in her dreams.

Monday, August 16, 2010

La Vida Not So Fresca

Brace yourself.....

Vida's eating dry food.

Not 100% dry, but I finally came to the end of my rope shopping for reliable raw food.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spoiled Rotten Raw Feeder

I have it soooo good in San Diego when it comes to buying food for my dog. Even if I didn’t work at Dexter’s Deli I’d be able to shop there, and at several other stores around the county that stock a variety of prepared raw diets for dogs.  I could find whatever I needed within a reasonable drive.

I am not so fortunate here in central New Hampshire. I start out by using the “store finders” on the company websites, and at first I thought “great, look at what’s available!”

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

What Makes Acupressure Special

I'm often asked whether acupuncture is better than acupressure. Rarely am I asked the opposite. I think that's because the use of needles in acupuncture immediately makes most people assume that it is more effective, more "serious" than simply pressing with one's fingers. After all, most medicine involving needles is "real" medicine, and (in most states) one needs to be a veterinarian to use needles on animals. These technical particulars would lead most people to assume that acupressure is simply a poor cousin, a substitute for the "real thing."

I believe that acupressure is equal to acupuncture, and in one particular respect I believe it is superior, especially when working with animals. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Gear Geek-Out Part Two

Here is Vida, leading the way on our walk. I have to laugh at the idea that someone is looking at this and thinking that this demonstrates her dominance over me! That is not true. What it does demonstrate is that she is much more interested than I am in what is ahead.

I'm using a 10 foot lead made by Mendota that allows her more room to wander, as Turid Rugaas, the amazing Norwegian dog trainer recommends in her DVD on loose leash walking

I've usually used very light-weight 6 foot leads, and have tried to use retractables and lightlines before, but now that I have this Mendota lead I have figured out what makes this one work so well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Gear Geek-Out, Part One

I've been trying to figure out the best dog bed setup for our cabin in New Hampshire for a few years now. Everything bedding-like has to be stored in trunks over the winter so that mice don't use it as supply for their own bedding. This means that Vida doesn't get the usual cushy donut bed while she's here. Most of you would think that in the summer it wouldn't be a big deal, but our place is in the woods, near a mountain, and it can get chilly at night, especially when the wind kicks up. Even if we're not sleeping on the porch as we do most of the time, my shorthaired Cali dog needs something of her own to cuddle in. She has actually wound up shivering under the covers of my bed in the past, and neither of us really likes that...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Travel Kits

I really try to keep up with my dog's healthcare when we travel. Long distance drives are stressful, and stress effects the immune system, the digestive system, the nervous system… well, everything (for humans too). On this particular trip I'm also in New Hampshire for several weeks, so I need to think about what I might need while I'm there too. Having done this particular trip with her for a couple of years, I've gotten better at "kitting up" her stuff (well, our stuff, we share a lot of it).

I often get those sideways looks about my stock of "just in case" supplies, but keeping things can be useful if done with consideration. A few things you'll see in these photos: insulated bags from Wild Kitty Raw Food, small measuring spoons from Pet Superfood, an empty spice jar, and a small divided box for holding one ounce bottles. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ready for the Woods

It's a big change for us, to go from a Southern California coastal town to a cabin in the woods of New Hampshire. The drive alone is nothing if not a series of changes. For Vida I take some special care to provide for this change in habitat.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We got noticed by "The Bark"

This post is just a little brag....

La Vida Fresca got mentioned on The Bark's website! A post about canine cancer blogs gives us props.

Thank you, Bark!

P.S. Vida is doing great!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Finished Product

June 15, 2010: Vida's happy to smile for the camera and show off her mouth. She wasn't happy to do the chin photo..."why focus on that?" (hairless, but well pigmented)

Food is back to normal, supplements are getting there. I don't have a definite plan right now. Using a variety of supplements. For instance, using up the expensive
PetLife, which while it is definitely overpriced does seem to result in improved energy.

I'll be starting up my experiment with hemp and chia seeds again because the blob on her leg has rebounded to it's former glory (ugh!). Hopefully nothing more happens with it, but if it remains the same over the summer I'm going to get it removed. I could do it now, but I feel like she really needs her body to fully recover from the radiation treatments before doing anymore surgery unless it's an emergency. Our upcoming month in New Hampshire will do us both good!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Getting back up to speed

Vida's got a bounce in her step again.

She's eating normally too,which is terrific for me (no more fancy concocting, yay!). We're still on somewhat limited supplements, and using the detox and support supplements from my holistic vet. We'll be doing those for another two weeks (so a month total). She's also back on joint supplements, despite her vigor her hocks/carpals/stifles were dry and creaky.

Speaking of my holistic vet... I hope I didn't sound cranky about them in my last post as I complained about lack of ingredient listing. They always provide them for me when I ask. I just wish it was more common for it to be provided as a matter of course, no matter who you see. All the tiny bottles don't fit the information, for sure, but just a handout has a normal routine would be a good practice. Perhaps most owners lose those things, but this would be part of training them to keep a file, and learn a little bit about what their pets are being given. Commercial products do that to, so it's a general issue for me.

I will be taking a new photo to post soon of her chin. Still no hair, but lots of pigment filling in camouflages that.

Aiming for a swim at dog beach today, it's the last week for off-leash play before the summer restriction starts.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What they don't tell you

Word to the wise - ask a lot about side effects. Seems that mainstream medical, whether for humans or for pets, really don't like to talk about the side effects of medical procedures. They want to tell you about the positives, not the negatives.

The negatives we're talking about in Vida's case aren't life threatening, but knowing what to really expect, for me, is reassuring.

I want to be told that her hair will slough off in cruddy patches, that the skin will heal, but the hair probably won't come back. Pretty obvious, you'd think, to tell someone that their dog will have a big bare patch where the radiation was done. This is just an aesthetic issue in the end, but during the process it's nice to know what to expect so you don't waste time peering at it every other day.

Today I took Vida to see her holistic vet. I'd scheduled this appointment a couple of weeks ago, and knew that it would be just after she'd finished her prednisone, so the timing seemed good to assess her condition and plan ahead for upkeep.

I didn't know that I would be needing help in figuring out what the HECK was going on with her since stopping the pred last week. Her digestion has been bad, her appetite waaay off, her energy low, her eyes watery... basically she looked sick and miserable. I was worried that her adrenals weren't working properly, but he didn't think so at all (she had perked up a bit with him of course).

He pointed out something that, once he said it, seemed obvious - the prednisone had suppressed her body's ability to detoxify, so now that the pred was out of her system, her body started dumping toxins. He said he saw this a lot, the side effects that come a month or so after radiation is finished, and this is where his question came...

"Didn't they warn you about that?"


No they didn't. And it would've been so simple for them to tell me to expect her body to detoxify when the pred was done, so to plan accordingly.

Instead I've spent the last few days worrying, adding and subtracting supplements, messing with her food, and (a second time for emphasis) worrying.

So for the next month she'll be getting rid of crud. Hopefully I'll only have to play with her food for the next week, but we'll see. She's superstitious because whatever she ate last made her feel crummy, so it's cooking meat for tastiness, and shifting entrees around so she stays excited.

Supplements? A few new ones for this process, and most others put aside for the time being.
  • Liver support capsule called "Hepato Support" with milk thistle and some B-Vits.
  • Homeopathic detoxifier - don't ask me what's in it, I don't know (a pet peeve of mine - please give me an ingredient list).
  • Herbal tincture called "Astragalus Formula (again, no ingredient list, grrrr).
Plus: digestive enzymes (InClover OptaGest, a double dose), Organic Pet Superfood (mushrooms), and Perfect Form by The Honest Kitchen.

So she got a little bit of cooked venison tonight, with all of her new supplements except the homeopathic (I'll do that later by itself), and she ate it all. So far so good!

Hopefully my blog posts of the past several weeks will help other dog owners not be disturbed or surprised by the process, and have some ideas of what to do about it, and WHAT TO ASK.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Recipe: Supportive Cancer Care Tea

This post is a bit of repeat because I'm entering this recipe in the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest in the Medicinal category.
The need arose because my dog underwent radiation treatment for cancer - an all-too-common disease in dog's today. Sometimes we really need the mainstream treatment, but we can integrate supportive holistic care with that treatment to ensure the best outcome for our beloved animals.
My recipes are adaptable.You will notice there are no hard amounts given. In fact, this recipe was adjusted for different stages of care on my own dog (this blog post in particular discusses that). Please understand that it's important to pay attention to your dog when using this and adjust as needed. This is especially true if your dog has debilitated organ functions on top of the cancer. I will point out any ingredients that you should take extra care with.You'll notice that I use some fresh ingredients and some dry; this was just because I had some items fresh in my yard, but you can adjust the recipe to use dried.
This tea recipe is designed to support the animal through treatment as a Qi booster and digestive soother, counteracting the heat and stagnation that results from treatments like radiation, and the medications that go along with it. This particular tea also provides some support for the mucous membranes of the mouth (where my dog's radiation was directed).
You'll also notice that this recipe includes a bone! This is primarily for flavor, but if your dog's digestion (especially pancreas and liver) is in good condition you can give them an extra treat by scooping out the marrow for them (my dog loved that, and would drink a whole bowl of freshly made tea). Do not feed the marrow to dogs with any digestive weakness ("sensitive stomach", etc).
  • 1.5 liters of water
  • One 4" bison or beef bone
  • 1/3+ cup dried Astragalus Root
  • 1/4 cup dried Slippery Elm Bark (or 2 T Slippery Elm + 2 T. Marshmallow Root if there is a lot of heat in the system)
  • Handful of dried Calendula Flowers
  • 3 small fresh Comfrey Leaves (may substitute 1/4 cup dried Nettles if concerned about liver function - or just for a change)
  • Handful of fresh Plantain Leaves

Chop any fresh ingredients. Simmer the bone in the water with a tight lid for awhile - 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Add the astragalus root and slippery elm/marshmallow and simmer, tightly covered, for another 30-45 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and turn off the heat. Let sit, covered, at least 30 minutes, or until it's cooled down enough to handle. Store refrigerated for up to six days.
Be careful feeding your dog warm tea. Their sense of what's safe heat-wise is much more sensitive than ours. What feels pleasantly warm to us seems dangerously hot to to them, so be sure it's cooled to room temperature before serving.

Use this tea as the base for all their meals, whether you're cooking, feeding raw, or feeding kibble. For example, I lightly cooked my dog's food during treatment and used the tea as the liquid for poaching the meat. If using dehydrated food use the tea instead of water to rehydrate it.

My 40 pound dog went through 1.5 liters in 3-4 days. Most dogs won't drink it on it's own, so expect to be adding some amount of meat-based foods to it (sometimes just a spoonful of meat stirred in is all it takes). An average amount for my dog to take at one time would be about 1/2-3/4 of a cup, and she would get this at least 3 times a day.

If your dog is experiencing inappetence due to treatments or meds, be sure that this is included in whatever you do manage to get your dog to eat. Even a spoonful will help calm their digestive system and improve appetite.
The core of this remedy is the astragalus root. This is completely safe to use and provides the deepest support in the recipe. The slippery elm and plantain are extremely helpful for soothing their digestive tract, and are both very safe. Slippery Elm powder can be added directly to their meals in addition to this tea.

Depending on how long your dog's treatment lasts you may make adjustments to this recipe according to their current needs. Just be sure to always include the astragalus.

My dog also gets medicinal mushroom tea, and was on detoxifying herbs too, so please remember the stated goal of this tea: support. The most effective care and long term immune help does require more than this recipe can provide.

You can see the progress my dog (Vida, posed here in front of some of her medicine) made through her radiation treatments by reading the blog posts of April and May 2010. These posts contain more of my commentary on the herbal choices I made during the process, as well as information about all the other goodies I'm giving her for her healing. I enjoy feedback, so please don't hesitate to leave comments on any of my posts, and please "follow" La Vida Fresca.

Recipe: Topical Gel for Radiation Burns

This post is a bit of repeat because I'm entering this recipe in the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest in the Medicinal category.

This gel is designed for topical use but I didn't put it in the Body Care category because (a) it can be safely ingested and provide some relief in that way too and (b) I kind of interpret the "body care" term to be mainly about cosmetics.

The need arose because my dog underwent radiation treatment for cancer - an all-too-common disease in dog's today. Sometimes we really need the mainstream treatment, but we can integrate supportive holistic care with that treatment to ensure the best outcome for our beloved animals.

This gel is designed for dogs, but that doesn't mean you can't use it too.
I've designed to be safe if licked off because that is the normal response of a dog. My own dog's cancer was in her mouth, so there was no way to bandage the area after application, and in fact it was beneficial for her to have the gel inside her mouth as well as on the outside of her lower jaw, which ended up being the are that was most effected.

My recipes are adaptable. In fact, this recipe was adjusted for different stages of care on my own dog. Please understand that it's important to pay attention to
your own dog when using this and adjust as needed. You'll notice that I use some fresh ingredients and some dry; this was just because I had some items fresh in my yard, but you can adjust the recipe to use dried.

This recipe is for the most active stage of skin burn when there is oozing, skin and hair loss, and inflammation:

  • 8 oz. water
  • 2 Tablespoons dried Calendula Flowers
  • 1 Tablespoons fresh, chopped Comfrey Leaf (or 1/2 T. dry)
  • 1 Tablespoons dried Yarrow flower and leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoons dried Goldenseal Root
  • 1/2 teaspoons fresh, chopped Sage Leaf (or 1/4 tsp dry)
  • 3 teaspoons dried Irish Moss
  • 6-7 oz aloe vera juice (I use Lily of the Valley organic, preservative-free filet juice)
Combine the calendula, comfrey, yarrow, goldenseal, and sage. Bring the water to a boil and pour over these herbs, cover and let steep for at least 30 minutes.

Strain this tea and pour it into a small saucepan. Put the irish moss into a small cotton bag and submerge it in the tea. Heat this pan gently. There's no need to boil this, just use medium/low heat, stirring gently for at about 15 minutes until you notice that the liquid has become a little more viscous and coats your spoon.

Pour this liquid out and squeeze the cotton bag. This can be a little messy! The best result I had was using bamboo toast tongs to squeeze the thicker gel that has collected in bag.

[wondering why so tricky with the irish moss? This is to minimize debris in the finished gel. If you are using this on an area of the body that can be bandaged you won't
have to worry so much about plant material in the gel because you'll be able to put a barrier on the wound itself.]

Let this cool. Mix the resulting liquid 50/50 with aloe vera juice. Best result are achieved if you use a small whisk to stir the aloe in. If your aloe has already been refrigerated this mixture will thicken immediately as you stir. It will continue to thicken as it cools, and should be refrigerated.

Using an oral syringe is an easy way to apply this gel, and also keeps the stored gel clean.

Apply this gel 4-6 times a day during this acute side effect period.


Early stages of radiations treatments: Use this version as a preventative. It's more of a rinse than a gel, and contains fewer ingredients. Apply twice a day.
  • Reduce the Irish Moss to 2 teaspoons.
  • Use only the Calendula and Comfrey
Late stage of burn recovery: Use this when the area has dried out and inflammation has reduced. Apply twice a day.
  • Maintain the primary recipe, only removing the Goldenseal Root.

You can see the progress my dog (Vida, posed here in front of some of her medicine) made through her radiation treatments by reading the blog posts of April and May 2010. These posts contain more of my commentary on the herbal choices I made during the process, as well as information about all the other goodies I'm giving her for her healing. I enjoy feedback, so please don't hesitate to leave comments on any of my posts, and please "follow" La Vida Fresca.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photo Update - recheck #2

 Today when we were at Dr. Proulx's office I suggested that maybe we'd lost our "least side effects ever" title, but he thought maybe not. She's right on track with her healing. We'll see him again in one month for our "baseline" assessment that we'll move forward with.

I'm kind of fascinated by the way her teeth have arranged. It looks like one is missing, but it's just that they kept the gap that developed with the tumor. The thing is, where did that space come from? Everything used to fit.

And she's been using her teeth the past week or so - chewing her nylabone every day, sometimes for 30-45 minutes, with vigor. I had to get her a new one yesterday because one of her old ones was so worn down.

She's tapering down more on the prednisone and will be off completely in about 10 days. She's off the tea, but on everything else. Gel on her chin is only once or twice a day now (and an adjusted recipe again).

I think the two beach swims last week helped clean things up a bit.

Yes, she lost more hair, but if you look close you can see some coming back, and all the skin is quiet (no more discharge). We'll have to wait and see what happens (guess she needs a good old fashioned hair tonic now!).

What's with the stick? A handy way to keep her on her back for a good chin view (you can't see my hand holding it off camera).

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Photo Update - 2 weeks post (haste!)

[Sorry, but the photos for this post seem to have disappeared into the ether. Please continue on to the 5/11 post for photos ]

tumor area has gone down just a nudge, I think.
Meanwhile the burn area got larger. It came down around her chin a-ways on the right side
(The other side of her mouth wasn't as hard hit, I think they always aimed it at the right side of her mouth).

My, but it looks clean doesn't it!
Yesterday I took her swimming at dog beach in Del Mar - her first swim since all the treatment started. Clean and exercise your dog without breaking a sweat! Well the swim softened up all the scabs and gunk that had been accumulating and it came right off.

It's hard to see but there are hairs coming back already, so I feel confident that the hair will all
grow back eventually. The area she'll have the hardest time not scarring will probably be the front because her licking impacts that small area the most.

I'll find out in a week how she compares to other dogs in terms of burn effect. We may have lost the "least amount of side effects" prize with the area expansion this week, but I'm still applying the gel to speed healing.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Today's tea is....

1/3 c. astragalus root
2 T. slippery elm bark
1 T. yarrow leaf and flower
1/3 c. calendula flower
1/4 c. fresh plantain (lanceolata) leaves
1.5 liters water
1 4" bison leg bone

(first serving gets the marrow!)

I finally figured out that I should write up this whole herbal care program for my correspondence course. I should've been finished with the whole thing by now, but reasearching and preparing this stuff for Vida has been one reason I'm not, so I might as well use it as homework.

Well that was the dog's tea.
My tea: handful of nettles, pinch of red clover,pinch of blue vervain, all in my french press. Taste good, easy to make.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The "Ugh!" of Aftercare

And that's from Vida too.

It's clear now that one reason many dogs experience worse side-effects may be because they aren't getting the supervision and frequent interactions that I'm able to give Vida.

If I had to leave her alone all day she would have to wear a cone to keep her from scratching the area. She's getting away with a little bit, but it only takes one or two good scrapes with a nail to tear open the skin that's struggling to heal. I'm threatening her with a cone if she doesn't stop, and she hates my admonitions.

She also wouldn't get the frequent gel applications to her skin. When it dries out it gets itchy. It's also threatening (ok, more than threatening) to increase it's acreage on her chin. So I'm trying to apply it at least every two hours during the day. If she spends time outside with this wind it gets dry and itchy, so it looks like I'll be carrying a kit with me to a dog party this afternoon.

I don't know how one can really do good herbal work with singular recipes because circumstances vary so much. I'm changing her gel recipe today in response to the need for stronger and quicker healing of the skin (let's get this over with!).

3 t. irish moss simmered 5 min. in 8 oz water
this is poured over:
2 T. calendula
1 T. fresh comfrey leaf
1 T. yarrow
1/4 t. goldenseal
1/2 t. fresh sage
Let steep for at least 30 minutes (or until I get back to it, whichever is longer)
The resulting liquid is mixed 50/50 with aloe vera juice and stirred occasionally as it cools and thickens.

(I hope everyone hasn't lost basic cooking knowledge: lowercase "t" = teaspoon, uppercase "T" = Tablespoon)

This mixture adds more antibacterial and astringent oomph. I'm tired of green goo (Vida is too), and need to speed the healing. We'll see how it works.

Along these lines I'm also starting her back on two supplements: antioxidant capsules and PetLife. She's back on raw, still on tea and all her other goodies.

I'm also trying to use the Photonic on the wounds to speed up the healing. I say try because she's completely sick of any and all ministrations to the area, but luckily the red light therapy works well in short bursts. It's just trying to aim at at parts she's trying to hide while blocking her sightlines.

This is certainly a care situation that many owners could use help with simply because of the persistance required. Vida and I can't wait 'til it's over!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"The least side effects I've ever seen."

Yes, that's a quote from Vida's radiation oncologist, Dr. Proulx.


[sorry, images have disappeared into the ether, please continue to later posts for more photos, ex: 5/11]

He saw her today, four days after her final radiation treatment. She finally did have some burn effect on the outside of her mouth start this weekend (today's Tuesday), but not much. Here are the photos, sort of gross but really, if you're wondering what it might look like if it's ever your dog here it is.

I've marked the outer edge of her lip. The lip itself shows pigment loss, which indicates that she's lost the top layer of skin even though it looks ok otherwise. The very top edge is almost white today. I'm not sure if the pigment will come back. The dark color still on her front lip makes it easy to discern the bottom line, and the area under it where there's been hair and skin loss and the color is pink/grey.

You can also see how the tumor area continues to shrink and the shape has evened out.

This side view shows the worse of the two sides, she more often sleeps on this side so I think that's why it's taken on a little more damage (the area not breathing as well). Though when resting she often tries to keep her head upright, or hanging over the edge a bit.

You can just make out the orange line that was used as a guide during radiation (just follow down from the arrow, it angles slightly right), and you'll also notice that everything behind that orange line is intact (black lip, hair).

The lip has lost all the black pigment. There is a crease below the largest part of her lip that is a little problematic, and I ensure that I flush that area with gel by lifting the skin a bit.

The whole area is a bit gooey, but that's good. If allowed to dry out it becomes itchy and she scratches at it. While we might have been taught that this greenish goo is terrible, the skin under it is not red, so while she is pushing out junk it's not an infection. This goo helps protect the damaged skin too.

I'm putting the gel on her mouth at least six times a day. During the day I try to do it every couple of hours. She hates it. She doesn't mind it in her mouth, but she hates it gooping up her chin. She immediately tries to groom, even reaching back to lick her shoulder in an attempt to curl her tongue down to the side. Mainly she licks her forelegs, again to turn her tongue back so the underside of it wipes her chin and lip.

I also started adding colloidal silver and crab apple flower essence to her drinking water to help keep the area from harboring infection.

I can't emphasis enough the diligence with which natural remedies need to be applied. I know I won't need to do it forever, and that keeps me at it. She's still getting her tea, and all the other supplements. I'll start cutting back her prednisone this weekend to every other day.

Speaking of pred - the vet had no idea why her lipoma got smaller. He said he'd never seen that happen before, and couldn't say why. I presented my theory that the lipoma had been storing cancer junk (a technical term, hehe) - that when we first started her on TCM herbs for the cancer the lipoma began to develop, as if the body was trying to quarantine the cells it was finding, and continued to grow slowly until she was started on the pred. So did the pred kill those cells off, shrinking the lump?. He didn't seem concerned about it, and didn't mention anything about removing it. We'll have to see if it comes back when she's off the pred, I guess.
I love that my dog's recovery has a bit of mystery to it.

We're back for a re-check in two weeks. Vida's tired of not being able to play fetch and such. Soon!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photo Update - Day 23

A quick peek at the start of her last week. 

[sorry, images have disappeared into the ether, please continue to later posts for more photos, ex: 5/11]

The only indication of burned skin is the loss of pigment on her lips.

She's shown no sensitivity, so pain seems minimal. In fact she's back to chewing vigorously on her nylabone, fetching her old
Kong, and taking treats with full contact of her front teeth.

I made up a fresh batch of mouthwash for the burns. Still working out what the final recipe will be (complete with pretty pictures, going to enter it in a contest), but today's was:

One cup of water. 2 tsp Irish Moss. Give it 30 minutes in the cold water before bringing it carefully to a boil. Pour that over 1 T fresh Comfrey leaf and 2 T Calendula flowers. Let steep 30 minutes then strain. When room temperature stir in an equal amount of Aloe juice and chill.

Closeup of the curious hole I noticed. I'm going to ask about that tomorrow.
[sorry, image has disappeared into the ether, please continue to later posts for more photos, ex: 5/11]

And as a reminder, here she was
on day 2.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Change?

Vida's going through a liter of tea about every four days, so I'm making another batch this morning. I've adjusted the recipe a bit: Astragalus, Calendula, fresh Plantain are all the same, but I've halved the Slippery Elm and filled that in with Marshmallow Root, and brought back a little bit of Nettle Leaf instead of fresh Comfrey Leaf.

Did I need to change? Am I changing capriciously? Am I overthinking? I'm not sure, but I know that there is never one way to do things when it comes to herbs.

There are always multiple choices for supportive herbs, and while some people find that aggravating I actually find it comforting because I know that as long as I stay within certain parameters I'll be doing fine. I also feel that this gives me the freedom to make these small changes to customize it for each animal.

For instance, I've kept the foundation of Astragalus through all the changes I've made, as this is so strongly indicated for her situation with cancer (immune booster, qi booster, affinity for the stomach).

A couple batches ago I switched from Chamomile to Calendula because Calendula's anti-inflammatory and healing aspects for skin were so important to promote healing right in her mouth, and I knew that it would have the same soothing result in her stomach, though it's not often thought of for internal use.

I kept the fresh Plantain because it's such an all-rounder - good for her mouth and her digestion, and so easily picked, chopped, and added for an ideal food.

I decided to add a little Marshmallow Root in place of some of the Slippery Elm because it's a little cooler, and she's getting plenty of Slippery Elm directly in her meals. Sometimes I like the idea of herb partners, they have similar actions but slightly different energetics.

I decided to put a modest amount of Nettle back in to the mix for the mineral nutrients and support. I took out the fresh comfrey leaf because I already have it in her mouth rinse, and admit to some concern about even slight impact on her liver due to the prednisone.

I know that the issue of liver effect from Comfrey is contentious, but if the liver is under direct pharmaceutical stress I figured I'd play it safe by alternating the use of the Comfrey (the leaves are young now, which means this is more of an issue - sorry, don't want to look up the chemical particulars for you on this).

The importance right now is support.

It's always important to have a goal with your herbs. The goal might change frequently, but you always need to keep your basic goal in mind when creating teas (and other concoctions).

The goals of this tea are: support of her basic energy, support of her digestion, contacting her mouth with herbs that will help prevent burn side effects (in conjunction with a more specific mouthwash).

This is a concentrated time of support while she goes through radiation. It will all be adjusted again (and again and again...).

I don't think I'm being cavalier about the changes, and the base of the tea is in place so it shouldn't cause her to have to adjust to it.

I love experimenting on my dog, but I think I'm experimenting in a good way, not a reckless way. Believe me, it takes some herbal education combined with good observation skills to do it well.

This experience is an amazing education for me, and will result in my being able to help others with their dogs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Who's pain is it anyway

Here's Vida on Day 16 of her radiation (and prednisone) treatment.

Her determined look is because she does NOT want to open her mouth for the photo. I took a lot of pictures, and at least got a straight on look here because I was waving around a piece of Salmon Paws (did I mention the prednisone?).

I swear, as soon as the camera came up, the mouth went shut.

But do you notice - the mouth is ALL the way shut! That is a terrific improvement (just take a look at the photo in the post called "Zap Away" from March 30th).

I'm going to get a proper photo soon, but I've been giving her a break from too much mouth examination handling. Just get her smiling and you can catch a good look (so if your a fan you'll have to come see her in person).

She's going to the chiropractor tomorrow (Cheryl Ricketts-Mulvey), and I can tell that she really needs it. I hope my back feels better after her adjustment too because I swear that I'm taking on some of her various states of being. I think this process is making me a little too open. I don't normally have such a variety of fleeting pains and problems: back, head, stomach... I need to take care of myself a bit more.

So far she hasn't had any signs of burns that I can see. They said it would start 10-12 days in. That makes me feel pretty good about my herbal concoctions.

I've been flushing her mouth four times a day, a process she's grown accustomed to (chin down, squirt one side, squirt the other). I'm currently trying to work out a recipe that includes irish moss to create a gel - and by currently I mean I'm getting up in the middle of writing this to whisk it as it chills to see if that and my reworking of the proportions gives me gel and not jelly.

I'm quite enjoying the freestyling of these remedies. I'm not using anything too unusual, I'm just choosing judiciously and creating products that my dog accepts.

For instance, I don't want to make something for her chin that has a lick deterrent in it, because I think that sets up a negative energy for the healing. If she needs something applied a few times a day in and around her mouth, shouldn't it be tolerable?

The irish moss is interesting because it smells like the ocean, and she seems attracted to it.

So now I need to get some rest so I can get her back to the vet tomorrow morning at 8am for treatment number 12 (of 19). She doesn't want to use the Bio-Mat so I'm going to use it for awhile.

She vibrates with nerves while we're waiting, but they told me that when she gets to the treatment room she jumps her front feet up on the table as if to say "ok, let's get this over with!"

This is a healing job for both of us, and we're gettin' through it together.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ingredients for this week's dog tea

In anticipation of burns starting soon, I've made a new tea for Vida.

Clockwise from the top:

+ fresh Comfrey leaf
+ fresh Plantain leaf
+ dried Astragalus root
+ dried Calendula flower
+ fresh Bison bone
+ dried Slippery Elm bark

Yes, I've resorted to cooking a bone with the plants to get easier compliance. This is because I really want to be sure she's drinking it full strength when asked.

I've formulated this tea to help with the impending burns, to see what I can do to have less severe burns produced during the radiation process. While I did make a wash with aloe juice and calendula/comfrey tea, and I've started irrigating her mouth with it a few times a day, I think that the more frequently I can put helpful herbs on that tissue, the better.

This was made with one liter of water. The bone, astragalus, and slippery elm went in cold water which was brought to a boil and simmered for about 45 minutes. I then added the flowers and fresh leaves (which I minced). I turned the heat off and left it for over an hour before I strained it out. She loved it!

It turns out that Vida's been getting out more quickly from treatments because they changed the gas they were using. I don't remember being told they were using gas at all with the IV, but hey, they probably expect most people don't want to know the details.

They switched from Isoflurane (very commonly used) to Sevoflurane (more expensive). The Iso- gets them both sedated and then awake in about two minutes. The problem is that when they wake up their cognition comes back before their motor skills do, which can obviously be stressful for some dogs. Vida's first action was to try to bark, small muffled barks at first, which indicates her stress. So a few days ago they switched to Sevo-, which gets them sedated and awake in about thirty seconds, and when they wake both cognition and motor skills return simultaneously, which is much less stressful.

I haven't been able to break through her serious nerves beforehand - full body shaking, poor thing. But I have to say, when she comes out, she's not doing that at all. She's happy to leave, but she's much more relaxed. The nervous system is very powerful. You can't always get it to do what you think is best, no matter how many times you give flower essences and press on acu-points. Sometimes you just need to let them be nervous, knowing that it will be over soon.

So that's 8 down, 11 to go. Tomorrow is Friday, then she has the weekend off.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Smart Dog? Hmmm.. yes but....

Day 9.

6 treatments down, 13 to go.

The steroids have already made the tumor smaller. The lipoma on her rear leg is smaller too, which I hadn't expected. I'll need to ask the vet about that when I have a chance.

Don't worry, she may look like she's wincing but she's just being faced with the sun, and is not keen on having her portrait taken.

Vida is a smart dog. Sometimes that helps this process, sometimes not so much.

I learned today (when she came out in record time again) that when she starts barking the first time she's ready to eat, and when she starts barking the second time she's ready to go home.

She doesn't really like taking the Animals' Apawthecary Ginger/Mint tincture because it makes her burp right away - but of course in an hour she's feeling great and wants to eat (which by that time she usually shouldn't to avoid later stomach junk).

She's learned to eat her sort-of hidden prednisone in order to avoid the indignity of being pilled.

She lets me do acupressure and tui-na to move the qi down, which I need to do a few times later in the day/evening to help her digestion. She gets so warm, it's as though the radiation is creating heat, and it's swirling around her midsection. The qi is all discombobulated. Today I gently stroked her with a zoom groom (a rubber curry), and she burped during that.

She may come to hate what I started today: dabbing her ching and irrigating her mouth to fend off burns. I'm using aloe vera juice combined with an infusion of calendula flowers and (fresh) comfrey leaf. Hopefully, when it does get more irritated, the cold soothing wash will be welcomed.

She's terribly nervous when we are waiting to go in for treatment. I feel bad about that, but I know it will pass. She knows when it's a treatment day because she doesn't get fed first thing, so she spends the next hour trying to change my mind, while at the same time refusing to drink any water. This morning I resorted to spiking her water with meat juice because I knew she hadn't had any water since early the evening before....

She normally doesn't drink at night. The steroids have made her more thirsty, and one night in particular she had a big drink at night. Poor thing wet the bed, so no more night drinking (her decision). I can tell she's feeling dry, but she refuses my entreaties to just have a sip. The dog door is open, but she doesn't want to get caught. The radiation works better on hydrated tissue so it's a bit of an issue. As for her leaking - this used to be caused by a sensitivity to chicken, but in general it seems to be that she doesn't have enough qi down there to do the job, hence the tui-na and acupressure during this process to get it moved back down the body as smoothly as possible.

Often she just wants to take care of herself. This is the disconnect between us, where she doesn't always understand the benefits of what I'm foisting on her. If it's not immediate it's hard for her to make the connection, despite what I try to say. So I just do it. After all, what she thinks about me in this moment is as important as helping her feel better and do better with this process.

I can take the dirty looks.

Friday, April 02, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

Sorry, cheesy title, but it's true.

Vida was a new dog today, almost back to her old self.

And I'd like to take credit.

Well, I'd like to share credit with all of our friends who've been sending their loving, healing energy our way. I swear I can feel it, and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.

It's certainly not the anesthesia, radiation, and steroids that are making her feel better. It's the herbs, most of all, I think. The astragalus, given by both tea and tincture. The slippery elm. And all the other goodies I'm giving her, helping her detox the side-effects of the treatment, build her qi, and soothe her digestion.

It may seem like a lot of work to some, but the payoff is astounding. This is the kind of care I wish every dog got. Supportive care to help them through this strong process. To use plant medicine to provide gentle support, rather than mainstream pharmaceuticals that throw the body around from one extreme to the other and unable to balance itself.

Today she came to work at the store. I brought a bed from home and put it in the back room, expecting her to spend much of her time in it, resting and avoiding the activity of shoppers and their pets.

Boy was I wrong. She spent the day hanging out by the counter begging for treats, greeting people, and generally grabbing the attention of everyone who came in the door. She wasn't at her highest energy, but I saw her do things I haven't seen her do in over a week: canter, groom herself, and, most surprisingly, perform her "La Vida Loca" trick (catching her tail and walking with it). She really wants to get back to normal, and does it at her own speed. A speed that was much faster today than I expected.

So if you ever think that you couldn't possibly keep up on caretaking for a pet with natural methods, measuring out homemade concoctions, dispensing drops, and cooking, well let me tell you that you must know that it will be worth every effort.

Pour your love into these actions and you will be rewarded. You may not always be able to "cure" your pet, but you will certainly provide them, and yourself, with healing.

Next week I'll start concocting a topical rinse. If I start dabbing it on early maybe I'll head off the worst of burns.

Today's score, 4 down, 15 to go, with the weekend off. Hurray!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Choreography of Caretaking

I'm starting to learn the new rhythm of the day for Vida.

What governs this rhythm?

Medicine: anesthesia, radiation, prednisone (steroids). These are so strong that they require everything else be done in response to them. You can't ask them to be forgiving, you have to get your timing down to help her body rebound from the worst of their effects. Not guerrilla warfare, but guerrilla care.

The herbs, acupressure, flower essences, reiki, and food - these all have to partner with each other and be choreographed within the framework of the medicine.

She woke up today hungry, but since she couldn't eat until after her radiation treatment she went to a bowl and drank. She hadn't gotten up at all during the night to drink, despite her evening dose of steroids, so she drank a lot. Within a few minutes she was clearly working hard to hold it down, and spent the rest of the early morning in bed. I left her alone (in part because her bowl of water included tea, which was doing some secret good inside of her).

Then she trots out to the car and hops in. This reminds me not to freak out when she's in bed looking so off.

We had a bit of a schedule glitch, ending up with a later treatment time due to a mechanical glitch. She ate her whole meal at the hospital, and the tea with me in the waiting room (not sure why she waits to drink it with me). She drank even more in the car.

She came home and looked at her empty dish. So I fed her again about an hour later. I figured that I should feed her when she wanted to eat, because later in the day she wouldn't (the previous night she finally ate at 9pm, eagerly, but only when I brought to her in bed). I put her detox tincture, herbs, and digestives in the food. I keep forgetting the fish oil, a sign that I've not quite acclimated to the new routine.

The mantra is "get the herbs in when you can."

The other mantra I'm learning is "get the herbs in when they're needed."

It seems like she gets a couple hours of high off the sweet anesthesia, then it all starts to go downhill (I joked with someone that I was worried she'd become and addict). The downside of the anesthesia hits her - her stomach is gurgling, she lays in bed looking miserable.

The ginger-mint tincture helps (she burps a little). I wash it down with some tea. I give it again a couple hours later with some astragalus tincture and make a note to start earlier with this intervention tomorrow.

I also use acupressure on Earth points (ST36, SP4), and CV12.

I've taken to making her get up every so often to walk around (don't worry, my insistence is completely hands-off). I'm glad if she stops at the bowl, but then have to stop her before she fills up too much. She walks around looking a bit delicate, the hair on her lower back rising up, a sign of discomfort I don't quite understand. I've learned that in the afternoon she just wants to relieve herself and go back to bed.

She's surprisingly warm, as if the heat of the radiation has taken over. Her pulse is a bit fast, as is her breathing. The restless breathing is what bothers me the most because it tells me she's not at ease (though she's quiet in her bed).

Now that I've given her the prednisone again I'm waiting to see if things settle down for the night. I'll probably syringe a little tea/water in later if she doesn't drink on her own (on the way back from her last trip out at night - one that I'll likely have to insist on.

I may get a TCM herb formula from Dr. Weingardt to help her stomach if I'm not able to be more effective on her own.

It's my task to find the balance point. To do what's needed when it will work best, and do it as simply as possible.

I'm glad that her treatment is on a schedule (M-F, 8am). It will help both of us get the hang of this difficult dance together. Then it will be over and we'll be on to bigger and better things. Current score: 3 down, 16 to go.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tricks with Teas and Tinctures

It is becoming apparent that my usually voracious pup, who can be counted on to eat anything I need her to eat, will test my tricks.

It's important for her to eat all the things she needs to keep her strength up, to keep her body healthy through the anesthesia, radiation, and medication for the next month.

Here are the tactics I'm starting with... so far it's going... ok.

The prednisone makes her thirsty. Well, why have her drink plain water when I can have her drink medicinal water.

So this morning I made a witches brew of immune and digestive helpers that I could add to her water and her food (ugh, more about food later). Mainly Astragalus, with Nettle, Chamomile, Slippery Elm, and some of my medicinal mushroom tea. I thinned it down in her bowls, and though I can see that she would prefer to have plain water sometimes, she drinks it.

Now sometimes she feels so crummy she doesn't want to drink either. And frankly, she shouldn't have to if it's just going to come up again (see, she's never been good at holding a lot of water, but she can't help herself right now, poor thing). So I also have some tinctures that I can just squirt in her mouth to ensure she gets something medicinal that will help her feel better eventually.

Animals' Apawthecary to the rescue! Detox Blend, Astragalus, and Ginger/Mint are all on the menu now. I'm so glad to have these easy products to use - I'm pretty discombobulated right now.

So, is my dog feeling chipper this evening (having had an unusual mid-week day off from treatment)? No.

I'm doing my best to leave her alone, but I can't lie that I was a disappointed that she didn't want any of the fabulous dinner I put together for her. I cooked, dammit! She tasted a tiny bit I gave her in her bed, but then I had to pill her with her Pred in a tiny bit of raw, and man was she offended.

Luckily flower essences are always easy. I'm going to use Yarrow Environmental Solution before and after her treatments - misting her because the taste is harsh. I also made her a custom blend - a big mix of stuff that I can give direct and put in everything she eats and drinks. Leave a comment if you want details on these:

American Ginseng (from Woodland Essence)
Goldenseal (also W.E.)
Crab Apple
Five Flower

As I said, I'm trying to leave her alone, but I do work some of the Earth acu-points on her rear legs to try and bring that energy back to it's place. It's almost like her body's energy has abandoned it's post/s in response to the radiation attack, leaving other aspects vulnerable.

Tomorrow's a new day. After 9:30 tomorrow morning it will be 3 down, 16 to go.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Zap Away!

It's day two. I'm writing this as I wait for Vida at California Veterinary Specialists Angel Care Cancer Center.

Yesterday the bleeding finally caught up with her and she was anemic. Did refused to eat food in the morning. I syringed some chamomile and slippery elm tea in to her to quite her gurgling stomach. She felt awful! I moved her appointment up a day. Who knew we would not only have a consult, but would start her treatment the same day! Her inappetance turned out to be fortuitous.

[Oh! J from Jimbo's dropped in to see me and brought a bearclaw muffin from Panera - what a sweetheart!]

So - a whirlwind of veterinary news, and a week of really positive veterinary experiences. Started last week with Holly Mullen DVM, continued Sunday with a vaccine seminar by Drs Schultz and Dodds where I saw lots of supportive folks including Dr. Weingardt. Yesterday we met Dr. Proulx and his staff and are starting down a treatment road that my instincts say is the right decision.

Vida is getting radiation for her tumor. 19 treatments! Yes, it seems like a lot, but that's because they want to ensure that they don't too so much per day that she can't function. They want the dog to have good quality days during treatment. So if you need to find me I'll be at CVS in Carlsbad, Monday through Friday, from 8:ooam to 9:30 or 10:00am for the next month.

It's pretty amazing how things have advanced. They can target it so they don't damage any other organs or tissue. They use light sedation (Propofol, Michael Jackson's favorite, causes amnesia of the procedure) that is easy for them to clear from (I brought her breakfast and tea, they feed her right when she wakes up). The actual radiation itself only takes about two minutes, maybe less. The time consuming part is hooking her up to all the safety monitoring stuff.

They say they expect at least 80-90% shrinkage (it doesn't start to shrink immediately from radiation, but does continue after the treatment stops), and control for at least two years. That's the least they expect, so it could be even better.

Here is a photo: Day 2. You can see how big it is, and how important it is for us to treat it. The photo was taken outside the hospital, so she looks really unhappy for that reason ("we're back here again?"), and because she thinks she looks ugly with this big tumor everyone notices.

Side effects? Well, there are no long term side effects because of the cells that are targeted (vs bone cancer). Short term she will have some skin and oral "sunburn" that I'll be treating topically with herbs. This will start in about 10 days and last about two weeks. I feel confident that I can treat that, and look forward to showing how well herbs can work on that sort of thing (I'll be posting details on that when it comes up, so look for the recipes then).

One surprise was the including of Prednisone in the treatment. Dr. Proulx was funny ("you'll probably hate this but….")but explained that Pred induces apatosis in plasma and lymph cancers, so it can help kill it, making the total treatment more effective. So she'll be on 15mg for six weeks. I can give her herbs for her liver during this, so will be picking up some Animals' Apawthecary Dandelion/Milk Thistle tincture (though then wondered if I should go for Detox Blend….).The pred will hopefully cause some immediate shrinkage so it's less in the way.

The other surprise was that I have to take her off antioxidants during treatment. When you think about it it makes sense, because we are trying to ruin those cells, not save them. So, I have to stop using most of her supplements. The thing is, when is it a supplement and not a food? Because the fresh food is ok (Yes, I can feed her raw during radiation treatments!), but the supplements aren't.

I can keep: enzymes, probiotics, fish oil, and Connectin.

I have to ditch: mushrooms (all of them? Still checking), PetLife, Green Mush, Cell Discovery (obviously).

I'd like to think I've "banked" a lot in her system, but many of these things work on a daily basis.

Radiation works best on oxygenated and hydrated cells, so while she can't eat after midnight, she can drink anything, and they use oxygen during sedation in part to make sure cells are well filled.

You're probably wondering how much this is all costing. Well, a lot (for me, not for a rich person). $5,600. Am I crazy? I don't think so. The only other alternative is amputating half of her jaw. She would be miserable (I had a preview this week as the tumor grew more and she couldn't do anything fun without dinging it). And euthanizing this vital, vibrant dog would be murder. If I didn't do this there would be nothing but regret. Doing this is nothing for me but a change in my morning routine and a credit card bill (so send those clients my way, haha!).

I never thought I'd feel this positive sitting in a vet's waiting room, but I do. And you should check this place out, they are an emergency hospital too, and I have to say, the vibe of the place is terrific!

Oh! Vida's done… we're be off to work at Dexter's.