How Do You Know Whether To Syringe Feed Your Dog Or Stop

Of all the things I wrote on this blog, the one that really grabs hold of me and forces me to think, critically, it was the time I wrote about Syringe Feeding my dog Lettie near the end of her life.

I made decisions, some were right, some were “right for me”.

It has been four years since, and I’m right around the anniversary that day that we let her go.  In fact, one day past.  April 11, 2013.

Yesterday, coincidentally, I got a comment on that posting from Holly.

My 16 yr old , rat terrier , Aggie, was diagnosed with renal issues by the ER vet on Sunday. She wanted me to put her down and when I didn’t agree, she sent me home with medication for her nausea and iron supplements. I will say they did give her subcutaneous IV fluids. I was provided a leaflet and told not to feed her protein….try oatmeal. I took her to my vet today and we have a plan. She is end stage, but at least he is trying to see if we can get her numbers down. I am feeding her via syringe with Hills A/D. He has started her on a phosphorous binder, antibiotic and more fluids. Thank you for your article. It’s calming to listen to others who understand the love we share for these creatures who only love us unconditionally.

Remember, I am not a Vet.  I’m just some blogger sitting in a chair in South Florida writing about my own experiences…


I will say that everything that the vet told Holly was true to what I was told.  Low Protein, Low everything.  I had to wonder what on earth Lettie was getting in the prescription food.

This is basically what happened before mankind discovered Dialysis.  You flush the body with IV fluids, mostly water, to get the things out of the body that the body considers waste.  Dialysis machines are frighteningly expensive, and here in the US in this day and age, it’s well known how obscenely expensive health care is, let alone sending your dog or cat through this treatment.

Then you get a reprieve.

We went through three cycles.  You will know when it is time to stop.  Lettie told me.

Lettie was a McNab and Border Collie cross.   She had The Eye of a BC, but the webbed and cat like feet of a McNab.  She also knew how to get her point across.  Through the feedings she never bit.  I tried all sorts of foods to try to keep her energy up.  Finally one Friday morning, I knew.

Lettie stopped eating, looking at me, she stepped away from the syringe.

A Herding Dog can understand a lot more of your language, body and verbal, than you would realize.  I asked her if she wanted more.

A dog looking away but not walking away spoke volumes.  It was her saying “I’ve had it, I will do it if you want, but I don’t think it is for the best.”

That was the day that I made arrangements.

I had bought her fully almost a year.  The last month was for me to get ready.  It was time, I knew it too.

So that’s the thing.  You have to really KNOW your pet.  They do love you unconditionally, even if you’re not doing right by them.

It will test you and your resolve.  They may be a bad candidate for this treatment.  Dogs or cats may scratch or snap or just otherwise back away.

Some people are wrong for this – their view is that “the dog is just a pet”.  I will hold back comment on that mind set.

It is a lot of prep work to feed your pet this way.  Not for everyone.  It was for me.

In the end, you will make your own decision, and it will be right.  No judgement.  Especially if you try and don’t manage to get the feedings to work.

Lettie understood all this.  She taught me when it was time, and she told me when she was done.

By going through the treatment, you are buying time.  You are purifying the blood of a dog under Renal Failure.  You are partially resetting the clock, but you can’t completely replace what is lost.  All this will weaken them, but it will buy time.

Bottom line, yes, I absolutely would do this again.

Two weeks after I lost Lettie, I was told by someone who is very close to me this:

“Bill, it hurts too much, give another dog a chance, Lettie would want that.”

I did.  Rack is here at my right elbow while I am writing.  He is his own challenge with all his fear issues, but at four years on, we’re learning.

So I have a feeling I have around 10 to 12 years more with him learning me.  Why not, Lettie did.   She was a dog of a lifetime. She knew what I was up to at any given moment.


Rack? Yes, he knows that I don’t give him an ice cube until the second time I make coffee so don’t beg until then.

Good luck with your feedings.  Buy the time.  It is worth it.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have to give a very good dog a cookie.

China Free, Grain Free Pet Food Vendor List

Disclaimer:  I am not a Vet.  I am not a trained expert in Veterinary Food Sciences.  All of this posting, and anything else on this blog is clearly My Own Opinion.  You must decide for yourself whether I am full of crap, or completely correct, or somewhere in the middle.  I am presenting this information simply because the next time my dog gets bored with his food, I want to refer to a list somewhere instead of having to do this research again.   It took me all weekend to find this short list, and I just would prefer not to go back and start over.

When I lost my dog Lettie due to Chronic Renal Failure after a lifetime of feeding her Purina Products, I vowed never again would I knowingly feed my pets anything from that vendor.

Cause and effect?  Perhaps.  I don’t know.  But it is my opinion that since there was a spate of recalls due to Purina foods being tainted with Chinese ingredients and that as a result many dogs died of Chronic Renal Failure, that I will avoid anything of Chinese Origin when it comes to food.

The recalls have long since ended.  I am still not feeding my dog, Rack, anything with any Chinese Origin ingredients. 

Many people have the same attitude, and thankfully many pet food vendors have taken up the standard and proudly proclaim that their food is of the highest quality.  That is great, but not really enough. 

My own personal standard is that since Rack can not digest grain well, the food must also be grain free.  The company must clearly advertise that the food is “locally sourced”, or preferably “No Ingredients of Chinese Origin”.  For “Locally Sourced” I am accepting any ingredients that are Canadian, US, New Zealand, or Australia.  The laws in Canada are better than in the US for purity of pet food ingredients, so as a rule of thumb, if I am hard pressed to find a food, Canada is best.

If there is no clear announcement, I will simply pass on the company whether the company says their food is human grade, or whether it’s of the “highest quality ingredients” because those words really do not mean anything.  The laws as I understand them say that if a food is human grade going into a pet food plant, they no longer are human grade when they get into the food.  It’s nice to hear but doesn’t mean anything really.

I’m not completely comfortable with US ingredients either since our laws here have been weakened and things do “get in” where they don’t belong.  Personally I won’t eat GMO if I can avoid it, and High Fructose Corn Syrup simply has no purpose in food, in my opinion. 

So why feed it to your dog who has no choice in the matter?

As to recalls, I will forgive any company who has had a recall that is older than 5 years and a reputation that is good.

How did I develop this list?

First I went to and looked at their Dog Food Reviews lists.  I am concentrating on Dry Dog Foods only. 

The list that drove my research was their 5 Star Dry Dog Foods List.  I went top to bottom on that list.

While the list itself may have issues, I tend to agree with Dog Food Advisor’s reasons for choosing one food above another and their ratings – Yes, this is my opinion, I am not a vet.

Furthermore, I read through the forums on each individual page.  Forums are tricky, there’s a lot of people with axes to grind, and some will say I am one of them.  There are a lot of people who simply post “I love this” and think it’s done.  Finally there are companies who will “greenwash” the review by posting their own comments.  I looked through the discussions on each food and made a mental note of them before I followed through.

Some companies who are grain free and China free will be excluded from this list because the company’s reputation is not exactly stellar in the forum.  Any mention of bad quality assurance practices, mold in the food, off smells, recent recalls within the last very few years, or anything that simply does not “feel right” means I will leave them off the list.

This is not complete.  This is My Opinion.  Your Mileage May Vary.  This is strictly a personal list that I will follow in the future.  After all, a blog functions well as an individual’s “scratch pad” to keep notes and that is what I am doing here.   I hope that this may help someone but if it does not, so be it.  Of course if I later find information to change this short list, I’ll put out a new list.

But for now in alphabetical order, the list:

Acana –
Brother’s Complete –
Dr. Gary’s Best Breed –
First Mate –
Fromm –
Holistic Blend –
Orijen –
Performatrin –
Solid Gold Pet Food-
Wild Calling Pet Food-
Wysong –
Young Again Pet Food –

Lawsuit Against Beneful and Purina on Dog Deaths Is Why I Don’t Trust Purina and Nestle Products

Anyone who follows this blog read about my trials with Lettie, my departed dog.  She contracted Chronic Renal Failure and died about two years back.  All that we went through is documented with that tag if you care to search for it from .

She always, and I do mean always, ate Purina products until she got sick.  Then it was too late.  I went through about two years of syringe feeding her until it got to be too much for her and we had to put her to sleep.

After she was gone, we started hearing about Purina and their practice of sourcing ingredients from China in order to prepare their so-called foods.  An overview of the 2007 recalls of petfoods is on Wikipedia, but frankly, a recall of petfoods like the Beneful that I fed Lettie won’t bring the pet back.  Once the kidneys are damaged beyond a certain point, function will not be restored.

About the same time, the story leaked out about how the parent company, Nestle believes that all water should be corporately owned.  They’re also the same company that aggressively targets women in Africa to get them to buy their own baby formulas.

Kind of sleazy in my opinion.  You judge for yourselves.

After going through all of that, I simply decided for myself.  No Purina for my dog, No Nestle for me.

Simply put it’s safer.   A company that is producing something that is fed to a dog is making a decision for a creature who can not decide for themselves.  You can and should decide for them.

When we got Rack, my McNab dog two years back, we vowed never to feed him anything that we could not trust.  That evolved into no US Made dog foods at this point because of the stories of tainted treats and foods that we kept hearing. 

The Federal and State food inspection regimens have been diluted by defunding of the protective agencies.  All inspection that is done by a percentage sampling basis.  That percentage as a result gets lower because of fewer inspectors.  Logically, it would mean that there is a greater chance that tainted food gets through the sampling procedure as a result.

The brand we were recommended to try, Orijen, is made in Canada.  Apparently the laws there are much more strict than the laws we have here.  It’s produced with “Human Grade” food, I once read.

Unfortunately, they’re so well liked, that Orijen is going to open a plant here in the US, in Kentucky, to meet demand.

So lets see, I’ve been paying a premium for dog food produced in Canada that will now be made in one of the most poorly enforced states for food production, In My Opinion, in the United States.

When Orijen begins producing the food in the US I will cease purchasing their products.   I don’t know where I will go, but I have absolutely no confidence in the ability of inspectors in Kentucky at this time.

Again, My Opinion.  Yours may vary.  I may be overly critical, but I also was the person who had to prepare a slurry of food to syringe down my dog’s throat twice a day to keep her alive.

The difference is that the US allows a markedly lower quality of component foods to go into dog foods.  Markedly lower quality meaning sourced from overseas at times.  Yes, you guessed it, China.   China doesn’t effectively police their own foods.  Things get sold simply because you are willing to buy them, and there is no active warranty for anyone to pursue.  Just look at the mess that the online electronics markets have become and how easy it is to find on the larger international websites items that have been shipped here directly from China or shipped through other countries to mask their origin.

While a trinket will most likely break and be discarded like so many glow sticks on the street after the latest holidays, a dog, or other pet, is something that a person builds a relationship with like a family member.

Would you feed a child food that may or may not kill them?  I certainly wouldn’t with my dog and I won’t take a chance with a tainted supply.

So Nestle is off my menu, as is Purina for my dog.  I only wish I knew beforehand since my own Lettie could still be alive today.

Now there is a class-action lawsuit against Purina for these tainted foods.  That won’t bring Lettie back.  It won’t make the Chairman of the Board lose any sleep.  It will be a slap on the wrist, and they’ll just go on draining the water tables since they don’t believe that access to water is a fundamental human right, and continue importing Chinese components that may or may not be tainted with Melamine to go into their pet foods.

No matter what, I won’t be back.

Again, it’s only my opinion.  You decide for yourself.  But I won’t buy Nestle or Purina products.

Problems Feeding Your Dog? Check Their Teeth

I always feed Rack, my McNab SuperDog, dry food.

The wet food is too much of a hassle.  Cans, smell, storage, expense.  We just never considered it for Rack or Lettie before him.

At this point we are feeding him Orijen or Acana.  Once they open their plant in Kentucky later on this year we will reconsider and look for another food that is not made in a place that has such lax laws.

These foods currently are made in Canada and the laws up there are much more strict than they are here.  In fact, they’re using almost human grade ingredients.  I can’t recommend eating it but you could in an emergency.

I simply don’t trust the lack of oversight in a Republican Tea-party infested place like Kentucky to produce a dog food that hasn’t had food ingredients slip in that were of Chinese origin.  Too many dog food recalls lately, and too many stories of dogs dying of chronic renal failure like Lettie did.  It was why we stopped feeding our pets anything from Purina in the first place. 

If you want to find out what it is like trying to keep your dog alive when her kidneys slowly fail, I invite you to look at this blog for the tag “chronic renal failure”.  That would give you some insight why I am so particular as to what my Rack eats.

But there is a drawback with feeding dry dog food.  Some of those pieces of Kibble are extremely hard.  Rack being a very fearful “Beta” dog, he would soldier on but hate eating the stuff.   We didn’t understand why until I started putting things together.

Feedings got slower.  He would ignore his food.  He’d eat other foods but ignore what was one of the better foods on the market. He got hungry and began to beg for food whenever I would eat.

Eventually I started to wonder what was going on.  One of the feedings took a solid half hour and I had had enough of sitting on the floor and putting one piece of Kibble of food inside his jowls and cajoling him to eat it.

Sometimes I would pour some yogurt over top of the food and that helped somewhat.

We took Rack to the vet.  The vet first started suggesting different medications and food additives.  I was dubious but listened.  Then the vet suggested homemade foods either in addition to or instead of what the commercially prepared foods that he had been getting.

I finally spoke up that they hadn’t looked at his teeth.  They were getting full of tartar, more than I would think is normal in a 2 year old dog.

More medications, preparations, and feeds were suggested.  The whole while he was getting tossed treats.  He would never eat treats without some hesitation.

The treats they always gave before were hard.  This time the treats were soft.  He tore through them like they were long lost friends.

I again insisted that the vet look at his teeth.  The verdict was that I was right, there was a lot of tartar.

A different vet came in, more suggestions, and finally she looked at the teeth too.

He was missing a “Pre-molar” tooth.  No idea how, perhaps it just wasn’t there, maybe it fell out, you tell me.

I took control of the discussion at this point.  Because there was no tooth where one should be, he was trying to chew a hard piece of food against a gum.  Might there be pain that was slowing him down?

The suggestion from the vet was softer food.

My solution was simple.  Boiling water.   I now have a hard and fast recipe for soft dog food.  I also still feed the dry food.

One Cup Dry Dog Food poured into his bowl.  Add to it Ounce of Boiling Water.  Stir the food and water together.  The food would eventually absorb the water over the next five minutes.  Allow it to sit until it soaks up most of the water.

The next feeding when I tried this recipe, it was instant success.   Rack immediately ate the food.

No pushing food into his mouth.
No pleading.
No priming the pump at all.

He began eating the food with a relish I haven’t seen in a long time.  In fact to say he tore through it would be a fair description.

He has slowed down, after all it is the same food he normally gets.  Dogs do get bored of the same old thing every day.

But the bottom line is that since they can’t easily tell you what is wrong you have to watch closely when something is off.   The special diet that people suggest may just be as simple as pouring two tablespoons of water over top of the food and letting it make a gravy to soak in.

The proof is in the gravy, after all.  He will lick the shine off the bowl now to get at the last drop of the gravy.

We’re getting better at it.  He is now getting more confident with his feedings.  After all, how would you like it if you had a big 6′ 4″ guy looming over you begging you to eat your food!

Lettie’s Shelf, One Year Later

One year ago, today, at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Lettie and I had an appointment. 

The fight had ended.   We fought well for two years to keep her as healthy as possible.  It’s probably safe to say that the last six months of Lettie’s life were because of my stubbornness and unwillingness to let go.

Maybe longer, I am not sure.

I had an appointment with the Vet a couple days before.  She had had what we began to call An Episode.   Chronic Renal Failure was taking its toll, and every time she would have An Episode, we would know it because she would fall over.

She was weakened by the disease and our inability to convince a very feisty dog to eat what she needed to keep herself up to speed.  I eventually became something of an expert at syringe feeding my dog.  It really is something anyone can do, if you set your mind to it.

The treatment in a human would be a kidney transplant.  They don’t generally do that for dogs, because in our society we don’t value them as highly as a person.  The treatment for a dog is to flush them with water and give them as much food as they will take.  Then feed them more.

We visited the Vet.  She was a dog who began to hate going for a ride.   This was the same dog who rode down here in my Jeep curled into a Dog Ball in the front seat.  I had the roof off of the car and stubbornly left that roof off when I drove through a thunderstorm near Fort Pierce, FL on I-95.  People looked over at us and scratched their heads as I wiped water from the inside of the windshield.  Lettie took it in stride and left a dog ball shaped dry spot on her seat.   When I looked down at her and said “Well, that went well”, I could see it in her eyes as if to say “you’re crazy”.

She had also saved my life once when I fell asleep at the wheel.  A dog who just enjoys the ride gets very predictable and eventually learns the rhythm of the road.   When that same dog realizes something is very wrong, the nose goes under the arm and violently lifts it until you wake up.

I’m not superman, and marathon trips are not a good idea.

That next to last visit, they flushed her out with fluids and took blood samples.   I came home with her on that Friday and waited for the results.  Monday I called back and the desk said they were available.  I brought her in and we sat waiting for the Vet.  Not good news.   We tried another day of flushing but it was obvious that she did not have this in her for much longer.

Tuesday morning I came back and spoke with the Vet again.  Tears in my eyes, I said “I think it is best that we discontinue treatment”.  At that point the staff poured out of the back rooms knowing it would be the end.

We knew it already and had found someone to help her cross over.  “To Cross Over The Rainbow Bridge“.

I had another two days.  Everything was scheduled and went without a hitch. 

I was warned that “They Know”.  I was told “She will look at you when it ends”.   That is exactly how it happened.   There was a large white towel in front of the big green chair that she used as a mat in the corner of the room.  I wanted her within reach that last day. 

When everyone arrived, I held her paw for that trip.  The injection of pink goo went quickly.  It was a double shot.  One to make her sleep, another to finish the job.  Every time I hear “Lethal Injection” I think of this. 

She did look into my eyes at the end.  

Eyes closed and she slowly relaxed and went still.

It was rather surreal and a bit unbelievable to me until they carried her out.  The head lolled over the edge of the blanket and since nobody was in the house, I was able to finally let my feelings out.  My mantra for the next few weeks was “I want my girl back”.

After all was said and done, I gathered up her belongings.  We were not going to get another dog just yet.  Some of the items went across the street to Ellie.  All but that one last half gnawed chew.  It was on the fllor and got pushed under the big green chair and hidden for a while.  That’s in the frame with Lettie’s dog tags and one of her paw prints.  The other paw print has her collar, still with the final dog tags on it.  Her ashes are in a brass urn under her picture on the top shelf. 

There is a third paw print that will go with me into the bedroom under her picture in there in a Place of Honor.  I have a picture of a street fair in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA where I was giving her a snack years ago.  A passing photographer liked the shot and it got into the paper.  I’m fortunate to have that memory.

The paw prints sat around for a good long time before I finally could bring myself to begin to put things together.   We bought the frames, and they sat.  The paw prints are a salt dough that had hardened in the oven, and I finally sprayed them with a plastic clear coat.  Glued to the hard cardboard backing with silicone tub caulk, then sealed with the dog tags, collar, and chewie.

Her original leash is behind my bedroom door with her harness on a hook.  That is its place.  I see it whenever I run the vacuum cleaner, which is frankly not often enough.

Lettie is still here, in spirit.  She has her place.  She had a rough start and the trip here was not easy.   She was Yet Another Owner Abandonment.  That happens far too often with high energy and intelligent breeds like the Mostly McNab Mix that she was.  She spent six months in a rescue in North Dauphin, PA, near Harrisburg.  I was told “watch her, she’s feisty and has a lot of energy”.  That energy would serve her well.   All the way to her last day and that last moment when she looked up at the indignity of the first shot.

Settling down to sleep at my feet, to this day is the view I have in my mind when I look at those square tiles on the floor, even one year later.

Goodbye old friend.

Rack’s Six Month Anniversary – Picture

Six months ago today, we made the long trek up the spine of Florida.  Past the nearby cities, through the Citrus Groves, into the splat that is the Theme Park ridden area of Orlando, and finally to Deltona.

In Deltona we met Gisele and entered her home to adopt Rack.   Rack was named Les Paul when he was with The Dog Liberator, he needed a name, and they chose that musical one.   It didn’t quite fit us, and we were trying to come up with one that did.  Since we were recovering from the loss of our Dog Of A Lifetime, Lettie, we settled in on a name that she suggested. 


When we stood in our large kitchen in Philadelphia shortly after we adopted Lettie back in 2002, I asked Kevin for a little help. I needed a baking rack.  When I said that word, Lettie snapped to as if being ordered around.   We never found out why, but when it came time to name our boy, it stuck.

Like many other, or even most other highly intelligent dogs, those surrendered to a shelter may shut down.  Rack was one of the most severely shut down dogs I had ever seen.   But like Gisele said “He’s in Deltona, He needs you”.  Our heart strings were pulled, Kevin said “She’s good, lets get him!”.  

So we did. 

Lettie was shut down when we got her, but in a much better frame of mind then.  She did give us the experience we needed to work with dogs like Rack.  

In the six months that we’ve had him, we’ve watched him grow.   He’s gone through three different de-worming treatments, and missteps with dog foods that held him back.  He’s put on another 10 pounds, grew about 4 inches in height, and has a coat so shiny that when you pet him your hand comes back with lanolin.  Robust is what we’d call him.  Thanks to a suggestion by a neighbor, we got him on Orijen dog food.  No Chinese sourced ingredients for this one.  I don’t want to go through the syringe feeding that I did with Lettie near her end.

He’s still showing signs of his trauma.  Loud sounds are triggers to him and make him turn and try to hide.  Twice a day we walk out to Wilton Drive and have a sit down on the benches.  At 6AM it’s quite quiet, but at 9AM it’s an experience.  He is getting immersed in the buzz of the city.  The 50 bus is bad enough, but in the morning when the trash trucks pick up the bottles from the bars, he notices it even a block away.

On the other hand, he’s one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met.  He’s a McNab, a not very well known breed outside of the ranches of California and nearby states.  Incredibly intelligent, eager to please, he’ll simply do what you ask as long as you don’t drop something that makes a noise.  A similar breed to the Border Collie, but definitely not one.  The BC’s are a bit more high strung, my McNab has a mellowness to his personality that you have to experience, but once you do you will understand.  There’s a sweetness and a subtlety to him that is hard to put to phrase.  The ranchers will say the difference between a BC and a McNab is the way they work.  Perhaps that is the best way to say it.  They’re both great breeds, but the McNab is it’s own.

It’s not all sweetness, having a Herding dog means that you absolutely must exercise them.  Fortunately he’s good with the 4 miles a day that we walk, and everyone in our society could use that.  Anything less and you are in for a strange experience.  The ranchers and breeders in California can’t understand how Their Dogs can live in an Urban Environment, but we are proof that they can adapt and adapt well.

Intelligent Dogs aren’t for everyone, nor are active dogs.  Some people should only have a dog from a toy store filled with polyester fluff – a stuffed animal.  I’m doing my best by him and as a result my dog is growing every day. 

He’s still the “Yellow Footed Collie” as he learns how to properly water a rock or a hedge, but that gives me the excuse to work with him more so that he doesn’t get fearful.  That hose in front of the house gets a workout frequently and will until he grows into a better aim.  Once he learns that particular “trick” I may just let him on the furniture.  That picture was taken when he invited himself on the chair.  First a wet nose on the elbow, then he pulled himself up bit by bit until he was on Kevin’s lap.  He didn’t want to leave the chair when Kevin did so he stayed behind.

Smart dog, huh?

So six months on my rescue and I are continuing our journey.  He rescued me when Lettie left us.  Now we can grow together.

Remembering Friends Gone Before Sunrise

I’m out way too early these days.  Stepping onto the front lawn an hour before sunrise, I have to go and walk my Rack around town. 

Since we’re looking for a mile and a half, I’m also seeing the majority of my neighborhood at the same time.

The skies were clear and even crisp which is not all that common here.  Of course anything under 80 is cool to me now.

I’m walking Mr Dog and seeing more people than I used to.  If you want to really meet your neighbors, keep the ears open with no headphones, and get a dog.  You most likely need the exercise, and your dog will benefit from it.

Knowing that Rack is over eager when it comes to other dogs, I tend to hold him back a bit while out.  The problem with that is that other dogs want to say hi, so it is drawing me out to have a chat in someone else’s lawn well before 6AM.

Sorry folks, I’ll try to keep my voice down.

I had stopped listening to the music on the headphones a while back when Lettie got sick.   She was incredible at spotting trouble, but when she lost her hearing, I realized I needed to pick up the slack.  I haven’t started listening since.  I’m noticing that people actually do say hello even in the pre-dawn gloom under those starry skies.

Today when I got to near the mid-point of the walk, someone stopped me and chatted me up.  Sheila knew me from when I walked Lettie and thought that my dog looked different.   I explained that the similarity even gets me sometimes, but I had “lost my Lettie” back in April.  This was Rack, and he’s a puppy of right around a year.

Sheila was talking about her Chow Chow who was her constant companion since three weeks of age.  When she mentioned that she had lost her dog due to Chronic Renal Failure, I had to share my own experiences.   Apparently I was lucky.   In order to keep her dog alive, she had him on an IV Drip Feed for 2 months.  Lettie never stopped drinking water, in fact drank so much that I was letting her out to water the front yard as much as eight times a day.

There’s a spot of grass in front of my house that still is struggling to recover six months later.

I explained that while I wasn’t giving IV, I was syringe feeding her up until the day before her last day.   Sharing war stories is a good way to get past grief, even if in these cold Western Societies, we aren’t expected to grieve over a loss of a dog.

When Sheila began to cry over her lost friend she apologized and explained it was only a month ago when it all happened.

I told her the story of how we rescued Rack and that I was basically ordered to get him when we lost Lettie.  The pain was strong with our own loss but Sheila took comfort in knowing that she could release a little of her own. 

The thing was that I’m still convinced that Lettie’s diet was what killed her kidneys.  I refuse to feed Rack anything that has any content that could be sourced from China as a result.   There is just too much of a culture of deception when it comes to quality control there.  What that means is that I’m feeding my Rack a much better diet than I did with Lettie.  She got a “premium dog food”, but it was made by a large pet food company.   Large pet food companies get the size they did by cutting corners.  I won’t cut corners again.

Rack gets either Merrick or Orijen food.  He’s on Orijen now, and that’s a small company out of Canada using only Canadian products.  No “GMO”, no “foreign” sourced food – and nothing from China.

I may be wrong, but I’m not willing to compromise.   I’ve done quite a lot of quality control in my own software development work.  I understand what it means to have zero defects in a product.   When I hear about “premium dog food” being recalled because there was a “scare” or that there’s a correlation between Chronic Renal Failure in a specific brand, it clearly makes me aware that something is seriously wrong in the product. 

This is the sort of thing that can easily happen with our own food supply.   The whole Taco Bell scare a few years back when it was found out that the beef in their beef tacos was only around 33% beef and the remainder was other “stuff”.  Thankfully the last Taco Bell meal I had was some time back in the mid 1990s. 

Needless to say, I got on this kick with myself and our own food supply.   Making my own food is one thing, it allows me to control the quality of the ingredients, and the other thing about it is that it is vastly cheaper than what sits on a shelf at the store.   Fewer ingredients of better quality, and no preservatives has to help quality and health in the future.

If it is a good idea for the dog, it’s a good idea for you.  Sure, cooking takes more time, but aren’t you worth it?

I know your kidneys are.

Goodbye Lettie

Today is Lettie’s Last Day.

She came into our lives November 30, 2002.  A year and a half old, she spent the year before in a shelter, and six months before that with her first family.

She had escaped or had been abandoned in the North Dauphin, PA area around that time.

Lettie is named after the Animal Control officer that saw her potential and took her to the No Kill Shelter that I found her at.  Thank you Paulette, I am forever in your debt as a result.

She has been with us for the last 10 plus years and now it is time to say goodbye.

She went from being terrified of other dogs to being one of the most well behaved, if not a bit wary,  dogs that I have ever had the privilege to know.

After having the thyroid problems for 2 years, and the chronic renal failure for around one, including 3 months of twice daily feeding via syringe, it’s time to end her suffering.

At 1pm today, I have an appointment to lead her “Across the Rainbow Bridge”.

Goodbye Lettie.  We’re done.

Chronic Renal Failure 1, Lettie 0. We’re Done.

If you are reading this blog for information on Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs, you will want to search for that tag here.   I’ve documented the last two years of my dog, Lettie’s life.  All the mistakes, all the trials, and all the triumphs in combating the disease.   I’ve been told I did better than most, a year past the formal diagnosis, three months of syringe feeding, and so forth.

While I am not a vet, I may be of help. 

Yesterday I made hard decisions.  

We all think they were the right ones.

What made it final for me was the feeding session yesterday morning.

I’ve been syringe feeding my dog, Lettie for the last three months.  I had a visit with the vet the night before, Wednesday.  The vet expressed shock that I had been feeding her with a syringe for that long.

Her reputation was that she needed “Caution”.  She’s fear motivated first, so if you scare her she will show you teeth.  And by “you” I mean, Me.   I’ve gotten growled and snapped at, and sometimes she even connected.  It’s fear. 

Take one extremely intelligent dog and surrender her at 6 months to a shelter.

Six months later at her first birthday she gets out and lives with me the rest of her life.

Sure, she’s going to be fearful.

The vet said we’ll have a longer life expectancy if we shift over from the prescribed “I/D” diet for Pancreatitis, to “K/D” for Kidney Disease.

He didn’t realize that there isn’t a dog on the planet that likes “K/D” food.   The consistency is like modeling clay, play doh specifically.   She fought me every syringe.

In fact, yesterday morning, when I went to feed her, it took me 20 minutes to get one syringe in her.

A Syringe is 1 1/4 ounces of food.

That’s 1/2 of a bathroom paper cup.

I realized after 40 minutes that she had given up, and now it was time for me to as well.

I had a discussion with Kevin about this, and initially he said that he thought maybe we might…

But he came around too.  It didn’t take much discussion really, maybe a sentence or three.

The 20 minutes a syringe was the clincher.   You see the first time I fed her that K/D food, she rejected it completely.  Pump a small bit of about 1/2 Tablespoon into the side of her mouth behind the canine tooth and wait. 

I didn’t have to wait long, she immediately spit it out.  

It was a grey brown blob sitting on my foot.

I kept after the entire syringe and reloaded those blobs that were all rejected and I realized that I just spent 5 minutes feeding a dog who completely rejected 100 percent of the syringe.

Try again.

I had the time after all, but it was almost the same story.   She only kept in about 5 percent this time.  This was on Cerenia, a powerful Anti-Nausea drug that you are only supposed to keep her on for 4 days.  She was on Day 7 of this.

Eventually after 40 minutes and 2 syringes I quit.  She should get 10 syringes a day plus a lot of snacks.

I was due for a vet visit later, and that gave me time to think about it.   The catheter in her leg had to come out.

When I got to the office I had decided that we should cease all treatment, and only provide Hospice Care.   Make her comfortable and see how it goes.

While waiting to tell the vet this, I weighed her.  She was down another .8 pounds.  

.8 pounds is not shocking except that this was in One Day.

In short, She was telling me “It’s Time” and I had to stop being stubborn.   It isn’t helping her.

We spent an hour at the vet, and everyone came to me and told me that we were doing right by her. 

Armed with some “A/D” food for “Anorexic Dogs”, three tissues to help me from tearing up, and minus one leg catheter I went on my way.   With plenty of goodbyes, and eyes teared, we got in the Jeep and went home.

Lunch with Lettie was different.   All the rules are off.  It’s like giving Grandpa that one last slab of Death By Chocolate when he’s in the hospice and has diabetes.  

I was grilling chicken and she was getting some.  Never mind that the salt would mess with her system from this frozen chicken breast, she wanted it.

In fact, I’m glad I grilled four because she had 1 and 1/2 of them immediately, and another 1/2 at dinner time. 

Real Food makes one feel better even if it is bad for your long term survival.

This morning, syringe feeding the A/D food took me under 10 minutes.   An entire can went into her in that time.  

She looked at me confused when I told her “We’re Done”.   The battle was over and she was expecting more fight.

So you see, she realized it too.  She stepped forward and put her head down and gently on my chest.  Whether it is to show acceptance or thank you I don’t know.

The Final Appointment for that trip across the Rainbow Bridge is scheduled for Wednesday 1PM April 10th, 2013. 

We wanted one last week to enjoy each other.  Eat bad food.  Bark at the plastic duck in the pool.  Sniff the Lemons on the tree.

Dog Stuff.

“We’re Done.”

Waiting on the Vet Day 4 – Not Good News At All

When I got to the vet at 5:30 last night, I got some bad news.

The number that was quoted to me was incorrect.  The nurse had read the wrong BUN number.  Since the right BUN number was almost unchanged from the first day, that basically says we need to consider our options.

We talked, and the conversation was basically a “You don’t have too many things you can try at this point” speech.  In other words we are pretty much on our own.

This morning I went to grab the food and feed Lettie.  A syringe took me about 25 minutes.   The second took 15 minutes.  That was for about a small paper cup worth of food or 2 1/2 ounces.  She should be getting 12 ounces of food a day minimum.  Doubled, I’m giving her 5/12 of her daily diet. 

It was a battle all the way.  Squirt in about a teaspoon.  She would grumble and almost immediately spit it out.  Keep squirting in teaspoons and sometimes she’d chew and swallow, but only about 1 in 10. 

This is a dog who has given up.  That is the nature of Chronic Renal Failure in dogs.  You can want them to last forever, but the reality is that they won’t.

So things don’t look good.   I have to bring her back to the vet today.  I’m really thinking that the best course of action is to schedule her end and stop treatments.

If things change, of course, I’ll let you know.