Tag Archives: animals

A Puppy Update

And this is where we are. 
We don’t know what the next week will bring. 

He might stay the way he is, which isn’t okay for us. 
We don’t want his quality of life to suffer, 
and his constant care isn’t fair to the Little Man or Bailey. 

He also might get worse, and have more episodes that will lead him back to the beginning.

But. . .We’re hoping over the next few weeks he’ll continue to improve. We want him to begin to walk on his own, so he can once again move about the house freely, be able to eat and drink on his own, and of course, be able to go outside on his own.

As his future is unknown, we’re saying lots of prayers for him and for us. 
The roller coaster of emotions we’ve felt over the last few weeks has left a huge impact on our lives. Special moments like the Little Man’s first Christmas was dominated by feelings of sadness as we were watching our dog lay lifeless on the couch. Mavericks games and dinners out seem trivial when our sweet puppy is at home alone. We lay awake most nights wondering what the next day will bring, and if we’ll ever have our Cooper back again. 

We’re praying for a miracle, and each morning hope we’ll walk in to see our puppy once again looking up at us, wagging his tail, ready to bounce out of his kennel. 
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

This was my post from January 13, 2012. It’s been 10 days and I wanted to give you an update.

Just after writing this post, we took our Boston Terrier, Bailey, into the vet to have a lump checked out on her hind leg. After discovering some live cells in the cyst, a sample was sent to a pathology lab, and they quickly diagnosed her with a mast cell tumor (a form of cancer). 

Tim and I felt completely defeated by life. With one dog down and the other possibly facing chemotherapy and radiation therapy (both of which we couldn’t afford), we’d just about given up. After taking the weekend to think it over, we decided to at least spend the money to have the tumor removed and have it analyzed. If it came back as having not spread, then the tumor would be gone, and no worries! If it did spread, at least the tumor was out, and perhaps it would buy her some more time. 

So, that’s what we did.
Last Wednesday, she had the tumor removed along with a portion of her skin and muscle. 

After a long wait over the weekend, we finally got a call from our vet with the results of the tumor. 
I’m happy to report that Bailey is CANCER FREE
After she has her stitches removed next week, there’s nothing else that needs to be done! 

We’ll always need to be aware that these types of tumors could pop up on her, but if caught early can be easily removed and treated. 

And what about Cooper? 
Over the last 10 days, he’s made drastic improvements. 
The best part is he’s walking again!
He’s basically now able to take care of himself; from walking outside to use the bathroom to eating and drinking on his own. His personality is almost back to normal. He follows us around when we’re in the kitchen waiting for food to drop. He snuggles with us on the couch while we’re watching t.v. 

We practically cried the first time he went and picked up a toy and brought it over to us to play! 

He still has some physical limitations. For example, chewing hard food like dog treats isn’t possible. He’s unable to jump up or down from the couch or chair. He stumbles a lot while he’s walking and still uses objects to regain his balance. When he gets excited, his eyes will begin darting back and forth, so we try to limit his activity. 

But overall, we feel like our prayers have been answered! 

A BIG thank you to all of you who were praying along with us. If you’ve ever had an animal as a companion, you know that even though life gets in the way sometimes, they always hold a place in your heart. 

With one dog in complete recovery, and another on the mend, we hope the rest of 2012 will be smooth sailing! 

Cooper’s Story, The Tide Turns?

Wednesday, December 28

We’re on our way to the specialist clinic to discuss what happens next. We were convinced we would have to put Cooper down, when it occurs to me to call my cousin who happens to be a veterinarian in Richardson, Dr. Becky Bourque

As we’re driving along George Bush, I reach her on her cell phone and explain what’s going on. I quickly describe in what we’ve been experiencing with Cooper and the symptoms he’s been having. I tell her we’re pretty sure we’re going to have to put Cooper down because we can’t afford the MRI this other office is pushing us to get. 

In that 10 minute phone conversation, she lays out a treatment plan that doesn’t spending thousands of dollars and doesn’t involve putting him down. We pull a U-turn at the next exit, and begin driving towards her clinic. When we arrive, she evaluates his situation and confirms everything the specialists have been telling us, but explains to us our more practical options.

If it’s an inner ear infection or bacterial meningitis, antibiotics and steroids will cure it 
and he’ll quickly begin to get better. 

If it’s a tumor or stroke, the antibiotics won’t do any harm, 
but the steroids will help with the swelling in the brain and could also relieve his symptoms. 

Either way, we’ll start ruling out the possibilities without the cost of an MRI.

Once again, we left feeling elated. Our worst fear was having to put our dog down knowing we weren’t able to do everything we could to the best of our ability. Being unable to afford the MRI felt like we were giving up, and we’d never have known if we could have done more. Now, at least we had a plan, and if he still didn’t recover, we would have felt confident we did all we could! She reassured us he wasn’t in any pain, just dizzy; so we could take it one week at a time and see what happens. 
. . . 
This Thursday will have mark a month of caring for Cooper. 

Since visiting with Becky, we’ve finished his dose of antibiotics and steroids. 
The first week, he laid in the dark for most days to help with the motion sickness and the spinning. It appeared that the episodes had stopped. Now all we were living with was the after effects. Although he still had an appetite, we were having to water down and hand feed his food to him. His water was being drunk through a large syringe. He didn’t move unless we moved him. His bedding was being changed several times a day. 

Right before his one week check up, we started to notice small improvements. He began to whine and bark softly when he was hungry, thirsty, or needed to use the bathroom. We noticed his eyes would stop moving for small amounts of time. His personality was slowly coming back; a tail wag or perky ears. I was starting a little bit of therapy by forcing him to eat out of his bowl. Although he could eat most of it with his head at a tilt, he’d need help with the last few bites. He could even slightly stand as long as he was leaning against a wall and didn’t try to move. 

At his check-up, Becky wasn’t as confident as she was the week before. If he was going to make a dramatic recovery with the antibiotics, it would have happened by now. Although he’d improved some, she wasn’t as optimistic. But we were willing to take it one week at a time, and as long as he was showing improvements, we would continue to try and nurse him back to health. 

January 13, 2012 
To date, Cooper’s now able to sit on the couch with us and sleep for most of the day. He’s eating food and water from his bowl with a little help from us holding it for him. He barks at the tv, people coming to the door, and when he’s hungry. He even let’s us know when he’s ready to go to the bathroom, and we’ll take him outside. He’ll gently walk along the fence as a support before using the bathroom on his own. We’re trying our own form of physical therapy by forcing him to walk on his own, and using a towel to help support his weight. His eyes have basically stopped darting back and forth; although, it starts up again if he gets too excited. I try to keep him in various rooms with me so he doesn’t feel lonely. 

And this is where we are. 
We don’t know what the next week will bring. 

He might stay the way he is, which isn’t okay for us. 
We don’t want his quality of life to suffer, 
and his constant care isn’t fair to the Little Man or Bailey. 

He also might get worse, and have more episodes that will lead him back to the beginning.

But. . .We’re hoping over the next few weeks he’ll continue to improve. We want him to begin to walk on his own, so he can once again move about the house freely, be able to eat and drink on his own, and of course, be able to go outside on his own.

As his future is unknown, we’re saying lots of prayers for him and for us. 
The roller coaster of emotions we’ve felt over the last few weeks has left a huge impact on our lives. Special moments like the Little Man’s first Christmas was dominated by feelings of sadness as we were watching our dog lay lifeless on the couch. Mavericks games and dinners out seem trivial when our sweet puppy is at home alone. We lay awake most nights wondering what the next day will bring, and if we’ll ever have our Cooper back again. 
We’re praying for a miracle, and each morning hope we’ll walk in to see our puppy once again looking up at us, wagging his tail, ready to bounce out of his kennel. 

Cooper’s Story, Part 4

I wish I could tell you this story has had a happy ending,
but based on my first post, you’ve probably guessed otherwise. 

A day after leaving the doctor, we thought we were in the clear when I looked down at dinner to see Cooper looking at me sideways. 
As he got up to walk away, he fell over and stuggled to get up. 

He had two more episodes over Christmas weekend, and we watched as his eyes began to twitch constantly and he was no longer able to stand on his own. 

Monday morning we made another emergency visit to the clinic, 
and he spent another day in observation. 

That night we spoke with the doctor, and she gave us several scenarios of what could be going on:

Worst case, he had a tumor that’d been growing in his brain; 
however, based on the fact that he had no prior symptoms, 
she felt this was unlikely, but possible. 

Another cause, would be a stroke. 
If it were a stroke, there was no cure. 
We could move forward from this by figuring out the cause 
(which would be difficult since all his blood work came back normal.)
And either he’d recover . . . or he wouldn’t. 

He could also have viral or bacterial meningitis. 
This often plays with the inner ear causing stroke-like symptoms.
Meningitis could be treated, but dogs are often left needing life-long care.

Best case, he could have an inner ear infection, 
and simple antibiotics would clear all his problems right up!

How would we know which of these Cooper is suffering from?
The only way to know. . .an MRI. 

Of course my first reaction was “Do the MRI!”
. . .then we heard the cost. 

To determine what’s causing our dog to suffer, we’d have to fork out an estimated $3,000;
with no reassurances that the knowledge gained would cure him. 

Had this been a person, money would be no object. Questioning whether to go forward with an MRI would be ridiculous. You go forward. But for a dog who’d already lived half his life, spending a minimum of $3,000 on top of what we’d already spent going in and out of clinics plus aftercare and treatment (if there was treatment). 
Well, we’re not millionaires. 

After some long discussions and a lot of tears, we decided to we wouldn’t do the MRI. We’d pick Cooper up from the clinic and let him live out his life with us. If he continued to have episodes, we’d have to make some more final decisions, but with only a 30% chance the MRI would provide a happy ending, we just couldn’t justify the cost. 

Unfortunately, the episodes did continued. 
They were now lasting hours and over half the day. 

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to provide the care Cooper needed.  With Tim traveling, I was having to leave the Little Man in his pack-n-play while I tried to help Cooper regain control. We realized Wednesday morning as another attack began that this wasn’t going to work. With the MRI out of the question, we called the specialist office letting them know we were bring him in to discuss our options knowing this would probably be our last morning with him.  
. . The Final Post. . .

Cooper’s Story, Part 3

I told you this was a complicated story! 
If you need to be caught up, make sure you go back to the beginning

I arrived to the Center for Vet Specialty Care a little over an hour after I’d left my home that morning.

By the time I arrived, Cooper had calmed down and had somewhat “righted” himself. He was now able to sit in my lap without spinning in circles. He had difficulty standing, but it seemed to due more to exhaustion than confusion.  

As an emergency referral, I was being fitted in to the neurologist’s schedule, so I was told I was going to have to wait a little while for the doctor. In an effort to help make Cooper and me (remember puffy eyes!) more comfortable, they took us to a private room with a couch. 
We waited a little over an hour. 
During that time, the techs were very sweet. They offered me hot tea and sat with me several times petting Cooper and asking me questions. He’d had another “attack” while in the room, but  I now was able to see it coming on, and was able to comfort him and help him respond better. 

Around 11:30am, the nurse came back and took Cooper so the doctor could run a few tests and observe him in the back. Then afterwards, she came out and spoke with me about what she saw. 

He was definitely suffering from vestibular disease; the exact cause was unknown. She’d asked that I leave him for the day for observation, and she’d call me that evening to discuss the options. 

When Tim arrived home that night, we immediately went from the airport to the clinic desperate to see Cooper. After a day of observation, the doctor happily reported he hadn’t had anymore attacks. He was still tilting his head slightly, but was playful and energetic, and she felt the incident was possibly isolated. We’d scheduled a follow up appointment the next week with the doctor and an internal medicinist, but we’d left feeling relieved and optimistic about his future. 

Cooper’s Story, Part 2

If you missed the beginning, you can read part 1 here

For 7 years, Cooper’s only health complication was when he was 6 months old when we discovered a fun little fact. We took Cooper in to be neutered, and he was spayed instead. 

The Thursday before Christmas, the Little Man and I’d slept in.
I remember feeling so refreshed, and excited about the day. I’d gotten great sleep, and there was a lot to do! 

We were playing as we walked into our laundry room to let the dogs out of their kennels, when I noticed Cooper was sitting up with his left ear next to the kennel door. 

I thought it was a little odd, and as I got closer became concerned that he’d some how gotten his ear stuck in the door. As I opened it, he stumbled out of his kennel in a panic. Unable to stand up straight, he was falling over to his left and was rolling in circles almost unable to stop. I was quickly trying to make sense of what was happening when I noticed he’d used the bathroom in his kennel; he’d lost control of his bladder and bowels. 

I started to become unglued.

My husband was in Kentucky. Cooper was howling and unable to stand. Bailey was getting rowdy thinking this was some kind of fun game. Then, there was my 8 month old sitting in my arms confused by all the commotion. 

I felt completely outnumbered and helpless.

I took a deep breath, and focused on the situation. 
My first priority was my son, so I set him down where he could play safely, and began to take care of Cooper. I attempted to calm him down by holding him, but the restraint only seemed to make things worse. Knowing there was nothing I could do, I threw some towels over the mess, and placed him back in his kennel. I felt he’d at least be in a small space and unable to hurt himself. If he’d had a stroke or was having a seizure, being in the open trying to move wasn’t going to help. Unable to hold back the tears, I called my husband. 

10 minutes later. . .I had thrown the dog kennel into the back of my car, loaded up my son into his carseat, and was headed to the nearest pet emergency room. 

I attempted to walk into the vet office calm, but my eyes were puffy and my son was sitting on my hip still in his pajamas. I explained that I believed my dog was having a stroke, and he was out in my car. The technician listened to me as I described what I’d witnessed that morning, and went into the back to repeat it all to the vet who was about to begin a surgery. 

My father-in-law met me at the office, found me a sobbing mess, and offered to watch the baby so I could focus on Cooper.
(I’m so grateful to have family nearby!) 

At this point Cooper was upside down and his eyes were violently moving back and forth. Confused himself with what was going on, he was pushing and scratching to get away from me and right himself on the floor, only he wasn’t sure what “right” was. 

The doctor confirmed that the situation was serious. As a primary veterinarian, she wasn’t able to confirm exactly what was going on, so she refereed me on to a group of specialists in Carrollton who were more equipped to handle what was happening. Over the phone and full of emotion, I explained to Tim that Cooper was having some kind of neurological attack. He appeared to be in pain and was panicking. 

For the first time, we were forced to make a decision on how much our dog was worth to us. Getting an estimate, we agreed to go forward and let the pet neurologist take over. 

With the Little Man in the care of my in-laws, I once again loaded Cooper up and drove off believing this would be his last car ride.

Cooper’s Story, Part 1

Over the last few weeks, my family and I have been going through a roller coaster of emotions.
I’ve been wanting to share with you the details, 
but it’s hard to start a story when you don’t know the ending. 

In an attempt to fill you in, I’ve decided to catch you up on what we know so far. 

It will probably take a few posts to get it all written out. 
There’s several parts to this story, 
so I’ve split it up into several posts in an attempt to not make this one post 10 pages long. 

I’d like for you to meet our puppy Cooper. 
Although, he’s not really a puppy anymore. 

He was born on July 23, 2004; 
just 3 weeks before Tim and I got married.

I was still in college, and my husband was working from home. Realizing he’d need some companionship while I was in class or studying, we decided to get a dog. 

We rescued Cooper two months later when he was just 10 weeks old. 
I say we rescued him because I’m pretty sure his seller was running a puppy mill. The home belonged to an older lady in her 60’s or 70’s, and it was filthy! There was dog urine and feces all over the floor. Not to mention the large cage of over 50 Chihuahua’s in her backyard.  

Given to her by her neighbors, this woman was attempting to sell a litter of pug puppies; a breed unfamiliar to her. It didn’t take us long to realize what we’d walked into when we responded to her ad. As we walked in to the home, we quickly wanted to leave, but felt obligated to at least see what we’d come to look at. There in the middle of the room was one little guy; bouncing around like he didn’t have a care in the world. He was making a toy out of a spool of thread when he leapt over to us. He pawed at our hands through the baby gate and would playfully bite at our fingers as we held him. There was no way I was leaving this sweet puppy in this home, and reluctantly forked over the cash. (In my head, I wanted to just steal him as I felt guilty giving this woman any money at all!)

I remember bringing him home like it was yesterday. 

I can officially now compare it to having a baby. He was innocent, happy, and so full of life. As we drove over to show our parents their new grandpuppy, he relaxed in our arms and quickly fell asleep in our laps.  It was love at first tail wag, and we were hooked. 

Over the years, Cooper became part of the family (AKA spoiled rotten!)

He joined us to visit family members, came along for car trips, 
and even participated in Christmases. 

For the first 3 years of our marriage, we had more dog pictures than most people have of their children. (My husband still takes 3 framed pictures to put on his night stand when he travels; us, the Little Man, and the dogs.)

Even when Bailey came along, Cooper continued to be the family favorite. 
  When Bailey would be running wild in the backyard, 
Cooper would be sleeping next to my feet or snuggling with me on the couch. 
 If I went “missing” in the house, 
he’d search room by room until he found me just to make sure I was nearby. 
And whenever I wasn’t feeling well, he’d know. 
He’d nuzzle his way underneath my blanket, lay in the crook of my leg with his head gently resting on my knee, and fall asleep while I recovered watching TV. 

He’s the perfect dog; his attitude, his loyalty, and, until recently, his health. 

A Short Experience in Single Parenting

My husband is a traveler, and on the weeks he travels, it’s just me and the baby. (Can I still call a 9 1/2 month old a baby?)

When the Little Man was just a month old, my husband left on a work trip for 4 long days. I’ll never forget dropping him off at the airport and having that overwhelming feeling of “I’m alone.” We had our routines, but they weren’t good ones. I spent the week looking ahead one hour at a time. I couldn’t even think about how much (or how little) sleep I was going to have that day. I just had to survive with this little newborn for one week, and then my better half would be home to relieve me.

Looking back, that week was probably one of the longest of my life. Sadly, I haven’t told you half of it. That feeling of despair was how I felt with two sets of grandparents around! I don’t remember how often, but I called in the reserves several times. I looked forward to the grandmas coming over to let me shower or eat lunch. I would then try and have someone over for dinner each night until the Little Man would go to sleep. After spending the whole day nursing and rocking and crying, it was a huge sense of relief to have those short breaks for my own sanity. 

As time has gone on, my husband’s continued to travel off and on for work, and I have to say I’m a little proud of how far I’ve come. I really don’t need help during a typical week. If I couldn’t find a sitter, I could easily cancel doctor’s appointments and go about playing with the Little Man from morning to night without any problems. I now have a pretty good routine going, and can look ahead a day or two without panicking. 

But every once in a while, I’ll have a week like this one where I am taken back to those newborn days.

This week, our dog has continued to need around the clock care. On top of managing the babies routine, I’m having to nurse and care for Cooper; waking up before the Little Man to hand feed, change bedding, and give water to our dog. Throughout the day make sure he is still feeling loved and cared for in hopes this will help his recovery. Today I had to take him to another vet appointment. As I thought about what this would look like, I realized I was going to have to load the dog up into the car, then load the baby. Once we arrived at the vet, I was going to have to somehow manage to carry the dog and baby into the vet’s since our stroller wouldn’t fit into the back of my car with the dog kennel. And I can’t have the dog out of the kennel because he can’t stand, but tries to, and would hurt himself. . . all I kept thinking was “I don’t know how single moms do this!” 

I am very blessed to have family on both my side and my husband’s nearby for situations like this. A simple phone call to my mother-in-law (and Diet Cherry Limeade bribe), and the whole appointment was instantly made easier. From emergency rooms to date nights, we always have people around to help. And even when extended family isn’t around, my husband is available to take a day off when I’m sick or need a hand to hold when my baby gets his shots. 

So to all the Single Moms out there who provide for your family, take care of your household, make it to doctor’s appointments, and manage to spend quality time with your kiddos day in and day out without losing your sanity . . . you are my hero! 

Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!

A Year of Drastic Change

As 2012 is about to roll around, I’m not sure if I’m saddened or relieved. My poor son has been sick since Thanksgiving with an ear infection and nasty cold. My husband discovered before leaving on vacation that he’ll continue to travel for a project in Kentucky into 2012 indefinitely. 

To add to the loneliness, our beloved family pet, Cooper, was diagnosed with vestibular disease. Either through a stroke, brain tumor, or infection, he’s no longer able to stand on his own and cannot tell which direction is up. Without paying $2,000 for an MRI, we’re not ever going to know what the exact cause of his condition is, so with every last drop of hope, we’re giving him antibiotics and steroids praying that he has the least serious of the causes.  Because he continues to show small, small improvements, we have delayed what appears to be the inevitable, and after 2 1/2 weeks of care, we’re beginning to realize luck might not be on our side. 

To top it all off, I came down with a head cold our last weekend of vacation and am feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck.

So as the ball drops this year in Times Square, I’ll probably be in bed nursing my cold as my husband begins to pack, and our poor dog’s health continues to decline. 

Part of me wants to have the clock roll past 12am and wake up tomorrow with a fresh look on a new year. But part of me feels overwhelmed by the choas of our lives that will drag on into 2012. If this is how the year starts, what will the year bring? 

2011 was an amazing year, so I can only pray that 2012 will be the same. Although the first few months might bring sadness, I hope come December, I’ll be able to look back on a memorable year, just as I’m doing now. . . 
We were blessed by the support of an amazing church community, memories of first smiles
and a first trip as a new family. 

We watched young eyes experience the sights of colorful fireworks, had the safe return of a family member, and were able to teach lots of little minds. 
We experienced the joys of the holiday season with a little one 
from Halloween to Thanksgiving and then Christmas

This year, I’m skipping tradition and choosing to not make any resolutions. . . except for one. I want to commit to become stronger as a family through times of joy and sadness, and to be thankful for all the small moments in life. 

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.  
~Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize Winner

Happy New Year!

7 Memorable Years

Today, Tim and I celebrate 7 years of marriage. Although this seems like a long time, we actually began dating 10 years ago, and have been friends for 12. Now that’s an accomplishment! 

Recently, I had fun browsing through our photos over the last 7 years and thought it’d be fun to share a favorite memory with you from each year we’ve married. Some years it was hard to find anything worth noting, others was hard to pick just one! 

We adopted Cooper 3 months after we got married. At the time, Tim worked from home and was alone in the house most of the day while I was at school. We thought a dog would be a great companion for him. He quickly became like a child to us, and although was supposed to be Tim’s dog, he quickly became “my baby.” He’s a constant reminder for us of our marriage as he turns the same age as number of years we’ve been married. 

My graduation was a huge milestone for us in beginning our lives together. We lived on $25,000 the first two years of our marriage, and my graduation meant we could begin to live on 2 incomes. It really was a turning point for us in really getting our lives started!

I’d had a dream of visiting New York City since I was 5 years old. Thanks to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law moving there, this dream came true! I’ve been fortunate to have been back 3 times since, and I plan on going again for my 30th.

This was THE camping trip we’ll be talking about for decades to come. What should have been a well-thought out relaxing weekend turned into non-stop rain, missing tent poles, and leaving early. It could have been a disaster for our whole group, but thanks to everyone being open-minded, we had a blast! 

Germany . . .the trip of a lifetime. Thanks to a car purchase, we spent 2 weeks touring the German countryside. It was my first trip overseas, and we visited some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. 

When Tim switched jobs, he spent over a year traveling back and forth between Texas and the East Coast. Being a teacher at the time, I was able to go up and visit him for a week. We traveled across Massachusetts, and I stepped in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time! 

Of course, our marriage continues to overcome adversity. This year it was pregnancy and baby Mark! I learned what an amazing husband I had when labor lasted over 14 hours. We’ve been blessed to have spent the last 5 months with our beautiful baby boy. 

Happy Anniversary Tim!
I can’t wait to celebrate many more with you! 

A Needed Mommy

Why I can’t seem to get anything done.