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…

However.

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.

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Winter in Florida and The Dogs Are Prepared

It was scheduled last week on Friday.

I hear we may be getting more this week.

By “Winter” I mean temperatures in the 50s.

That would be a low of between 10 and 15C for my international readers.

If you live in South Florida, have a pool, have social and intelligent dogs that follow you around every day, watch your Iced Tea.

This was an older picture.  That’s Lettie who passed a couple years back.  I was going through my pictures and she popped out at me.  It’s pretty much what I go through though.

You see that small area is a spa, or hot tub, and we rarely use it.  The heater takes hours to get it to a nice comfy 104F/40C and we settle for 95F/35C.  That last 5C is a killer.

I’ve sat in that spa at oddball times of the day and night.  Days are better since you can see the mosquitoes to swat at them.  Night is more comfortable since the air is cooler, and that is of course quite relative.

Lately thought it is just something for my dog, Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) to leap over when he’s

excitedly running circles around the yard and the pool and out to the portal in the front gate to see who is there.

Portals help.  It entertains the dog.  Entertained dogs are good dogs.  Herding dogs need to be mentally stimulated just like they need to be able to run off some of that energy from time to time.

Lettie used to have a portal that I created in the Laundry Room door.  It was completely frosted glass panes and Jalousie windows, since replaced.  I removed two of the slats at the bottom and replaced them with clear panes so she could go out there and watch the world.

Trust me she did.

She’s gone, the door was replaced with fully frosted impact glass, and Rack has the front door to look out of anyway.

Things certainly change in five years.  The weather is about to change.  And for now, Rack’s happy to watch out the front door.   He watches for his favorite people, and whines quietly as they walk past.  He also gets all bent out of shape when any sort of delivery comes through.  I think that is a requirement of Dog.  When Dog is selected and the soul inhabits the creature, there is a little subroutine written.  Delivery Truck requires Alert.  Luckily, Herding Dogs are easy to train and a simple “Go Look!” works.

No, nobody is out there, is there?

But that would be a story for a different day wouldn’t it?

On A Good Day, They’re Still A Dog. How Rack Is Afraid of Buddha

I used to take trips with my dog, Lettie.  She was what we call a “Mostly Mc Nab”.  Part McNab Dog, Part Border Collie.  She would curl up on the seat of the car and mind her own business until she thought there was something that needed attention.  Snap my fingers, there she was.

My own philosophy of training a dog is not to treat them like a human, but expect more of them than a dog.  In otherwords: complex behaviors yes, “Sit Up And Beg” no.

One trip from Philadelphia to Florida, Lettie was with me.  She was riding in the Jeep, sometimes top down, sometimes not.  We hit a shower with the roof down and she just looked up at me, judged me silently, and curled back into a DogBall with her tail over her face as if to say “Hey, stupid, pull over and put the roof up!”.

We pulled into the rest stop.  I got the roof up in the drizzle that was now ending, and she hopped out of the car.  I wasn’t too worried, she knew what she wanted.  The light pole at the end of the parking space was calling her.  I left the door open, she climbed up and went back to dog ball.

Next to me was a police cruiser.  I closed the door to the car, and the officer got out with his dog.  There was that same bond that I had with my Lettie.  You just seem to fit together, hand and glove.  We talked about that sort of training and he made his comment.  There are days when dogs don’t get it right because “On a good day, they’re still a dog”.

Just don’t expect too much.

On the beach we arrived.  I’d take her out for her march around town.  There was an apartment building there that was rather close to the walkway.  In front of the walkway was a concrete Lion.

Lettie got it wrong.  Fur went up.  Teeth bared.  She started barking at the ornament.  That thing didn’t belong.  I stopped her, got her calmed down, even showed her what she did.  The rest of the walk she acted much more toned down, even submissive, if an Alpha Dog could ever be submissive.

I was thinking about that the other night.  Rack has the same knife edged sharp intelligence as Lettie did.  He’s a pure-blooded McNab Dog.  At least we think he is because he looks like the textbook and acts like one.  We’ll never know because he’s a rescue.

He takes notice of things around town.  He knows where the restaurant is that they come out and fuss over him with cookies, and he knows where the ice cream shop is that he can go to socialize from time to time.  He’s learning which local dogs to avoid, and which businesses have an out of control yapper inside that will lunge at the door.

If your dog lunges out of control, you are not the boss, your dog is.  Train the dog.  You will both be happier.

It usually has those abstracts that all look roughly the same, smudges of color meant to look nice and inoffensive.  You might expect to see that sort of thing in a corridor somewhere.  I don’t really pay the gallery all that much attention.

All of the sudden Rack starts barking like crazy.  Something was out of place.  I looked at him and he was barking at the door.

There was someone looking back at him.  Buddha.

Sitting on a small table by the door was a concrete or resin statuary of Buddha.  About the size of a small child, it sat there serenely watching things go by.  The Thai art tradition, it had a head dress on it and a card next to it announcing the gallery’s services.

Rack did not like this at all.  It was out of place, and it threatened him by looking back at him.

“WOO WOO WOO WOO!”

Rack, stop.

“Grrr, WOO WOO Grrr”

He slowed down to a slow grumble.  His normal fearful self came out.  Leaning about 45 degrees to the ground on his purple leash, the fur on his back was standing as close to straight up as you could get.

It’s OK, boy, lets go.

He scrabbled an arc away from Buddha and we went on his way.

Yep.  On his best day, he’s still a dog.   We’ll have to work on that one.  I bet next time he will become one with the Buddha and approach enlightenment that the statue shall not harm him.

I hope he will.  Silly dog.