We've been procrastinating about sharing an update on Henry's health. Mainly putting it off since there is not a lot of great news to share. We are biting the bullet and sharing now.
Henry's troubles started shortly before Christmas. He had an IBD flare up. He started having several rounds of very bad poops. On our 1-10 scale, it was ranging in the 2-4 area. And we know that when his poops are that bad that his protein levels also move down the scale to a very low number. And drop they did. We felt that the "better" food we moved him to had triggered this reaction. We made some vet recommended moves and also made an executive decision. Our vet put Henry on a very upped dose of Prednisone and another gut specific steroid (I forget the name). High level pred for a couple weeks and the other med forever. We had 2 options for a food change. We tried one and it was an epic fail and then we tried a second option and it seemed to work at least as well, if not better than the original vet prescribed food. The food changes were without vet consent.
After a few days on the failed food, we moved to the food that he is on now. It seems to be working (at least in conjunction with the change in meds). His poops were for sure getting better and for the first time since months before losing his kidney, he had his first 9 poop! (And has had a few 9's since then but mostly 7's with a few 2's thrown in there every once in a while). This is MUCH better than the 5's he'd been averaging over the year plus time we've been trying to manage this. However, here is the dark cloud portion of that silver lining. Large doses of pred are HORRIBLE for Henry's brain. Our neurologist would be upset to know that he has to be on such a high level of pred. Essentially, what is good for Henry's belly, kills his brain and what is good for his brain, kills his belly. So, this is the tightrope we have been walking for over a year now.
And it seems that the pred, while was giving him much better poops (even though his protein levels were not even increasing) has finally caught up to him. We believe that he has suffered another brain set back. The weekend of 1/9/16, we noticed the following: his cognitive issues have spiked (his confusion has elevated, he is getting lost in our home, struggles to find the front door both going out and coming back inside) and probably even worse, he is shaky on his legs (mostly just when on a slippery tile floor but also when on carpet, concrete or grass but not nearly as bad as when on tile). There was an episode that was seen on the camera when we were not home where he could not stand up from a laying position because he could not get traction. He howled for help and no one was there. It was heartbreaking. Peep #2 was on the way home and got there quickly to help but it was still a tough one to watch.
Since then, we have been able to lower his pred some (but no noticeable change just yet). He has been slow to rebound, is still kind of wonky both mentally and physically. We are hopeful that we can continue to do our best so that he can still maintain a solid quality of life. It's been a rough month or so for him, but he is still loving his car rides and getting his sniffs, so we will keep on keeping on until Henry lets us know what else he needs. We are often reminded that he is on borrowed time already and we intend on having a high credit limit as far as that is concerned. #HenryStrong #HIPPARulesDontApplyAtOurHouse #HenryHasThis
Since it is almost our dearly departed Luna's gotcha day AND because we have recently been asked to recap her story, we decided to answer that request. (The request was also that we should consider "rerunning it annually" but that I cannot promise.) I am always concerned about repeating stories and hope that if I have referenced some previous event everyone knows what I am talking about. With that said, I know that there are readers who have not been with us since we started in 2004 and maybe some have just joined just a few months ago (and GASP do not even know who Benny, Luna or Solsey were! They'd only know Henry! Not that only knowing Henry is a bad thing but oh the joy you would have missed out on by not knowing the other 3!)
Anyway, this is sadly a brief (but I am sure it will still be lengthy) refresher of who Luna was and how she came to us. Luna was a pug in rescue care in Miami Florida. This is what we had been told about Luna: She was 2 years old. She was used to breed and had 2-3 litters. We don't know if that is mathematically possible, we just know that that is what we were told. After she had done enough breeding, the family she lived with in Miami kept Luna as an outside dog. (Yeah, for real! Can you even imagine?! An outside pug in the Miami heat?! I cringe.) We were told that she had dry eye and that it was very severe and likely not reversible. They said she had just got through treatment for mange and was missing some fur but that it was growing back. And last, that she was small.
Initially the rescue literally tried to talk us out of taking her indicating that she was too much effort, had too many problems and that she'd probably never find a good home. Pshht! They tried to push a boy dog name Bear on us. Bear had "no issues" and they thought he'd be better for us.
Well, we wanted the "broken one" because obviously if Bear was so great, he'd get a home soon. Luna would not. So, we wanted Luna. Because if we were going to rescue, we were going to do it right! LOL!
So, we went to Miami (3 1/2 hours one way) and picked her up. Immediately we noticed the following:
She was indeed tiny (small and SKINNY)
It was apparent by her teats that she very likely had been the mother of several puppies
One of her eyes was so dry that it did not close
She had NO idea how to walk on a leash
She for sure had bald patches, many of which looked unlike any mange we'd ever seen. Benny had had mange as a puppy and we'd seen mangy dogs before. A few spots did NOT look like they'd ever grow back as the skin was thick with scar tissue
And last but not least of this poor kid's issues man oh man did her breath stink (like something inside her rotting!)
That was our first impression, but overall she was still a cutie! And we were ready to love her and fix her up like new!
In reality this is how it shook out. Luna's dry eye, with considerable dedication, became manageable. Scar tissue formed over her eye making her a low vision dog, but she got around just fine and with appropriate medication. With our due diligence, her eye grew to be moist, comfortable and somewhat functional. She gained a few pounds right off the bat (and a couple more over the years). Her teats remained disproportionately large for the little girl she was, but they did shrink considerably over the first year or so. She had been fixed in foster making more puppies impossible. Whoosh!
As she began to assimilate and eat quality foods, her fur and breath both took a turn for the better. She did not reek from the inside out! Her fur became soft, but the spots never filled in. But in some areas her fur got long enough for half a comb over. The main thing about the bald spots was that every vet had a different back story of what they believe had happened to her. None of them, however, believed it was from mange.
The theories ranged from acid being splattered on her, to burns from hot water and one even suggest that the one on her back looked like a scar from a stab wound with a lacerated blade. We will never know. We resolved to never know. Our hearts did break knowing that any of those could be the case, though. We grew more appreciative of the family that turned her in to rescue. As that story goes, there was a cousin of the family who observed Luna being mistreated and that person convinced the family to let said cousin take Luna and put her in rescue. Since they had used Luna's baby making abilities to their fullest, they allowed the cousin to take her and put her in rescue. And geez, how we DO wonder what little Luna's puppies are doing these days! I cannot imagine how they are faring these days. They would be getting long in the tooth now, too! They'd be 8-10 years old themselves.
So, that is the story of Luna. DOB=unknown Gotcha day=01/26/2006 RIP=07/11/2014 So many stories between 2006-2014 and so much love. She is truly one missed little diva! Happy gotcha day, kid.
Henry has taken up chewing again every now and then. There are still a handful of chewy sticks in his toy bin that he's taken a liking to. Again, while this is not ideal for his belly issues, it truly helps his PM anxiety issues and for his head, chewing out his stress seems a lot better for him than pacing which does not seem to take the edge off him the way a good chewy stick does. He also seems to walk around with it in his mouth as much as he ever did, too. The boys used to do this when they were younger. Benjamin & Henry often were in sync when it came to chewing. They would both have a bone and when they tired of that specific bone they would look at each other and switch. If, however, they were not ready to switch and the other one seemed to be ready, the not ready to switch one would take their bone to another spot to chew (often where the other could not be seen). Sometimes, they would need a drink of water and not want to give up their bone, so they'd bring the bone to the water bowl, drop it right next to the bowl, keep one eye on it while lapping up their beverage and then pick up the bone after they quenched their thirst. If the other attempted to snag the bone while the other was lapping water, the water drinker would for sure stop short, give the bone thief some lip and pick up the bone that they had left. Leaving the pug ready to switch chewies with the same old chewy he had been chewing (and an exercise in patience).
While Henry is no longer in danger of losing his chewy stick, he still carries it around with him when not actively chewing. We think that maybe he realizes that even though no one is going to snag it, he may either forget where he put it or put it down and not be able to get back to it because he cannot see exactly where he put it. So, he just keeps it near until he's done with it. Whatever the reason, it for sure never gets old to us to see him walking around with a chewy hanging out of his mouth.
For the stalkers out there, we have changed our walk schedule and now we are unpredictable! LOL! But included in our nightly walk rotation, the local Petco is a top favorite of Henry's. It is well lit, has "wide sidewalks" and lots of good smells. It doesn't hurt that every once in a while he comes home with a special treat. On one recent trip Henry was knocking over EVERYTHING on EVERY low shelf possible. It started in the fish department where he knocked the fake plants off the shelf. Then he moved to the cat area where the next items to topple were grow your own catnip containers and a few anti-urine bottles. He finally made his way to the doggie aisles where he knocked off dog biscuit boxes by the dozen. Peep #2 was letting Henry explore as Peep #1 became a valued Petco team member and began reassembling the store (in some cases leaving it better that Henry found it!).
It did not even dawn on us to try to record Henry's wreckage of the store. Honestly, we were too busy laughing and laughing so hard that was not only Henry's mess that almost needing cleaning up! We almost left a clean up of the wet variety we were laughing so hard! At last it dawned on us that we should capture this for the blog! (So many things like this come to us as an afterthought! After 10 years of blogging, one would think we would be more cognizant of such events!)
Finally we pulled ourselves together and managed to start recording. Well, what does the little stinker do? Make us look like total liars and go down aisle by aisle and not knock one single thing over! We truly wonder if Henry has all his faculties and can understand every word we say. Literally, as soon as we hit record he sniffed around like he was the ideal shopper. Go figure! So here is the video clip of him being a good boy. He did get a beef esophagus that day (which will likely be another blog unto itself. There is kind of a story behind it.)
Another side note....there were 2 ferrets there for the longest time. We were happy to learn that they got a home together just in time for Christmas.
This week's ask question comes from Martha. Martha wants to know what the deal is with pug paws! Why do pugs seem to be so offended, scared, sensitive on their feet? While we have no good answer for her, we will admit that we were warned when the boys were young pups that we should touch their feet all the time in order to get them used to it and that we would mightily regret it if we did not get them used to it. While we probably did not do our best to heed this warning, we also did not ignore it. The feet of our pugs has varied.
We had Benny who truly did hate to have his feet touched and toenails clipped or filed. Henry was not quite as bad and was way better with the grinder than the clippers. Sol who did not love it and by the looks of her toenails when she came to us, toenail trimming was completely foreign to her. Luna was the worst though. She would literally run and try to hide when she realized it was toenail time. Eventually she got to be ok with the clippers but would tremble with fear if the deed was done using grinders. So later in life (after discovering that the clippers were her preference) it was only the clippers for her.
Pug paws in your neck of the woods....feedback please. What have you found?
Near the play place where Henry met a fake, but yet friendly frog, there is a small bridge on which young children play. Even though it was kind of a sick sense of humor thing to do, we decided to get his photo on the bridge with the caveat that if/when we share it, it is with the clear understanding that this in no way intended to be compared to the Rainbow Bridge. This is a little mini bridge that we feel has represented 2014 for Henry and now that he can cross this little bridge demonstrates his fortitude!
So merely a little visual analogy in Henry's life. He's crossed many a bridge, but fortunately we feel we are still far the final one. #HenryStrong HenryStrongIn2016
Well, we are still working on getting Henry back to his schedule. We had a big staycation over the holidays! G'Ma and G'Pa were here for a bit. And the peeps were off most of that time and thru January 4th, too. While we tried to keep Henry on some sort of schedule, the fact is that someone was always with Henry during that time. And now he has to tough it out home alone for a few hours each day. Let's just say that is not the lifestyle he has become accustomed to living. So, we are back to the old grind and working him back into an uncomfortable state of affairs. He is trying hard, though. The first few days were pretty rough (and I must say very sad to watch on the camera as he raced around the house "looking" for anyone to be home, barking with some panic at the sofa for someone to be there to pet him and them grumbling with displeasure as he realized that no one was in the office chair either.
You could literally see the lightbulb go off in his head when he not only realized that he was (cue the theme music---dunt dun dun) ALONE! It was somewhat relieving, however, to also see him work on his problem solving and coping skills. He went to the laundry room door where he knows Grammy pops up when she gets there. He raced to the front door to try to catch the reflections of light that he depends upon to alert him to someone coming in the driveway/garage. So, back and forth he went. He was indeed somewhat frantic the first day (or 4) but I write with the knowledge that we see each day getting better and the faith that he will continue to progress back to his old routine in a short while. In the meantime, stay strong Henry! You've got this buddy. #HenryStrong