Monday, December 19, 2011


Our sweet Kitty Tulsa passed away 2 nights ago.   He was born in 1994 and ended up at the shelter. When I walked in the door they were actually walking him back to put him down. He had been having seizures. I immediately adopted him and we started running tests to find out what was causing the seizures.. turned out he was reacting to the bleach they used to clean his kennel.

Tulsa grew up thinking he was a dog! He came when he was called, chased balls, and brought them back. When he was young he would collect socks and pile them in a corner in the closet, as he got older and we moved into a house with a basement, he liked to catch cricket spiders and would do horrendous things like remove their legs and put them in a corner and put the bodies in another pile.. I guess he had OCD!  The first time I saw him with a dog he had latched his claws into the back of a German shepherd and was riding him.. or hanging off him!

Tulsa helped us foster mommas and kittens.. and I'm not sure if he was confused or just an amazing helper but he would jump into the momma cat's whelping box and pick up the kittens and take them out one by one to a nest he had built where HE would try and nurse them to give the momma a break.. It never worked but he really thought he was doing a good job and I think the Mommas enjoyed the break. He loved to let the kittens climb all over him and he'd play with them.

Tulsa & Fred
Then we started fostering dogs and Tulsa ... crazy Tulsa would cat train each and every one of them, well except one.. Nala!  Tulsa must have cat tested and trained over 200 dogs during his foster career!  And I will never forget Daisy's Birthday Party!  Daisy was our golden retriever and one year we had a really big birthday part for her, that included 36 dogs (and their people) and one Rabbit - who more or less came across as the streaker in college who runs down the street to see if he'll make it!  This rabbit ran from one end of the back yard to the other right under the party tent with all 36 dogs and Tulsa chasing him!  Tulsa was right at home in the middle of the pack with all of the dogs and any dog who got too curious or too fresh got a hiss and a good whack across the nose.

Tulsa kissing Daisy
Tulsa NEVER Ever left our property, even though he would go outdoors.  He'd follow the dogs on a walk, just to the edge of the property, then stop as we left, and then walk over to the other side of the property and wait for us to walk around the block and come up the other side and then he'd rejoin the gang.

As Tulsa got older and sicker he still wanted to be in the middle of everything so we'd sometimes put him in Buster's cart and take him for rides with Buster while we walked the dogs.. I think Tulsa enjoyed it but Buster wasn't too thrilled that Tulsa would sit on him for a better view!
Tulsa hanging with Daisy

Tulsa was one very special kitty in that he helped our other animals who had passed on, cross over. When our cat Fred passed away, Tulsa was sitting with him, and actually ended up sitting on him after he passed and his body started to get cold. He was even grooming him. Watching this totally broke my heart, but I couldn't bring myself to stop him.  Before Daisy passed away, Tulsa sat with her constantly, and it looked like he was praying with her.

Tulsa saying prayers with Daisy
Our sweet Tulsa quietly passed away at 4:30am in bed next to me.  I think it was a relatively peaceful passing, no seizures, no hospitals, no strangers in the house, no craziness, no shots, he went on his own and met all of his other kitty and doggie friends on the other side of the rainbow bridge.  I'm sure he's chasing bugs, sunning himself, and chasing lizards (a recently discovered hobby) and occassionally working with St. Peter to help cat train dogs in heaven! 

Wrestlemania with Tulsa & Simba

Beautiful portrait done by Mary Detwiler from

Thursday, December 15, 2011

So.. how's it going?

Dear Blog...
Tulsa the cat
Sorry I haven't written in so long.. it's been very nutty around here.. Let's see.. where to start updating you..  so Thurs 12/1 we took all 5 dogs 3 hours to our old vet in DC to get their regular check ups, when we got home late that night (after a 4.5 hour return drive with 5 crazy dogs bouncing around the car) I noticed our kitty, Tulsa's face was all swollen. He had an abscessed tooth! Our poor kitty also has a heart murmur (grade 6) and is dealing with kidney disease so this wasn't a good thing. I ended up taking him to the ER, to get some antibiotics and pain meds. The next morning, Tulsa and I drove back up to DC to visit Dr. Hall at the Veterinary Dental Clinic where we had an apt to have the bad teeth extracted. Unfortunately, after blood work, Tulsa was not a good candidate for the extraction. His hematocrit was 15. And his RBC count was 3.  NOT GOOD.  He really needed a transfusion - but that's really tricky with a heart murmur, like his.  (He's had this heart murmur his whole life - all 18 years).   I opted not to run over to the Hope Center for a transfusion. He had enough going on and I think he'd be really angry if he had to spend the day in the hospital.. So we decided to put him on antibiotics to treat the swelling and put him on some pain meds to treat the pain. On the way home, Dr. Lord called me and said she could put him on some herbal remedies to help him out..

The following day, I was out walking Buster #2 and Buttercup and they were playing with the laser pointer - well chasing the laser at night and wrestling.. At some point there must have been some sort of collision and #2's eye was caught on Buttercup's tooth.. they didn't seem to notice and continued to pay for another 1/2 hour until they came in and I got a look at #2 in the light.. he was kind of bloody... and required an emergency visit to the vet..  (Turned out to be merely a flesh wound and he's doing ok)

Buster the Beagle
Then a few nights later.. while tending to little Tulsa.. Buster, kept coughing and panting and coming over and trying to steal his food... I kept sending him away.. He finally sat at a distance and continued to cough and pant and started to look a little off (he had also eaten Max's dinner, including his keppra and chinese herbs for his brain)  Anyway - the 3rd eyelid of one of his eyes was really pale, so I got up and pet him.. he seemed a little stressed, so I threw kibble on the floor near him to see what he'd do (he is a beagle.. the barameter for a beagle is if he eats.. he's good, if he doesn't eat.. he's bad)  He looked at it.. then looked at me.. he wasn't getting up.. so I went over to try and urge him up... he got up.. took a few steps then sat down. I helped him up again.. he took a few more very wobbly steps and then collapsed. His gums and tongue went white.. he was in BIG TIME distress.  I got him in the car, headed to the ER - he stopped breathing a couple of times on the way, but came back.. definitely not looking good.  I won't get into the ER vet issues we had that night.. but the following morning Dr. Stiff checked out Buster and saw something on his xray that didn't look right and ended up taking another xray and found a big mass on his liver...  (At that point Buster was off oxygen and walking around doing ok. We left him for the rest of the day just in case.. picked him up that night and made an apt with Dr. Paull for the following morning to get an ultrasound..  

Daisy 3 months after her liver surgery
The ultrasound confirmed that there was a mass on one of the right lobes of Buster's liver, he also had some funky stuff on his spleen.. and definitely needs surgery to remove it..  I suppose it's kind of fortunate that we have been through this before, so the next moves were not as difficult to figure out as they were the first go around.   (Our Golden Girl Daisy, had a 12x11x10 cm mass on the right lobe of her liver and required 2 lobes to be removed, as well as her gal bladder, and ended up having 2 more emergency surgeries, the last one putting in a stint to keep her duct in tact..  Dr. Langenbach had done an amazing job with Daisy , and while I think the surgical team here is actually very good, I had a history with Dr. Langenbach and just felt a little more comfortable with her doing such a major surgery.  The downside is that I have to travel for the surgery - but heck.. we went up to NY - 9 hours away for Max's Cyber knife.. 3 hours isn't as bad..

I've been meaning to blog about Daisy for a long time.. years actually, so I guess this incident will get me going on her blog.. but there is one thing that I wanted to mention that is incredibly strange...  Daisy was given a ball that had a daisy on it... and on the back there was the "Life Is Good Logo", by her first mom, Peg.  This was something that meant a lot to all of us..  While I was driving up to Buster's surgery consult with Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates (who I think are great and Dr. Suess came very highly recommended by all the vets down here and Dr. Langenbach) I passed a yellow VW Bug that had stickers all over it... as chance would have it.. the vanity license plate on this car read "Daisy" and across the back of the bug was a big "Life Is Good" Sticker.. I took a photo (below).. but of course the sun glare didn't help much..  what are the chances of seeing this ???  I took it as a sign that everything was going to be ok.. and Daisy was watching out over her brothers (I was stressing out big time... now I'm worried I'm going to be one of those people who see messages from God on Billboards!  As long as they are good messages I guess that's ok!)
License plate says "Daisy" and there's a big "Life Is Good" sticker across the back of this car..
So.. Buster is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday 12/20, and we're saying lots of prayers hoping that everything will be ok and his surgery will go smoothly.  He has a pneumonia that we're working on kicking with prednisone and some chinese herbs called "Restoration of the Lungs" (Translated). They seem to be helping - but not sure which one is helping more.. or if it's a combo.  Buster has been panting at me for the last 2 hours.. which is most likely a prednisone result..

As for Max.. I hereby declare him cured (not that I have any sort of medical expertise in saying so.. but... ) I found him counter surfing this afternoon  (and we are an anti-counter-surfing house).. and then later today I found him eating the Christmas presents under the tree (see video below).  A couple of days ago he was chasing the dogs who were chasing deer through the woods too..  I think he's getting used to his keppra dose, and his sharpness is coming back. He still sleeps a lot - but so do the rest of the dogs.. He's been going for walks every night, and will engage in play with some dogs, and occassionally will go after a squirrel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

9 weeks of improvement!

It's been 9 weeks since Max's CK treatments this week!  It's so amazing to see how far he's come!  He desperately needs to go for a walk right now but it's still raining and has been all day long.. He has way too much energy and is circling the house like a shark getting into any trouble he can.. stealing the cat's food, breaking into cupboards looking for food, he even grabbed a tennis ball out of the air that I was throwing to Buster #2 our shepherd mix!  He hasn't ever done that before! Even before any of this brain tumor business!  He chased a couple of balls rolled on the ground for him and then got bored, and chased the laser pointer .. but got bored again. Now he's playing with his cookie board game puzzle where he has to find the cookies under puzzle pieces and move them to get to them.

He has a very slight tremor that has showed up on the right side of his face where his whiskers are. You wouldn't notice unless you were looking very closely, but it's been there for about 4 days now. He also occassionally will get spasms in his arms and legs in just 1 muscle that you can see twitch too. I upped his Keppra to 250mg 2x day and he seems to be doing well with that dose. He's sleeping a little more and is a little more foggy but still himself and active when he's awake. Truth be told, he's more active than the rest of the dogs in the house!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Max catches a fish...

Max looking for stuff floating in the creek
I think we've finally found the right dose of anti-seizure medication! While I'd prefer Max not to be on any at all, I think this works for him. He's now taking 125mg of keppra 2x a day.  He seems to be more himself, sharper, curious, and active.

This morning he got fed up with Rex pushing his way in for attention and decided to let him know about it!  That's the old Max we know! And boy was Rex not expecting it!I was petting Max and Rex shoved his way in between me and Max and Max lunged at him and growled to let him know that wasn't acceptable!  Go Max!

Max examining oysters from the "Save the Bay" project

Video of Max & the oysters

 Video of Max catching Fish... and eating it
Later this morning I took #2 and Max out for a walk in the woods and down to the water. We met a little guy named Tyson who had just been adopted last week and was having a great time with his new people! he's a 10 yr old Tibetan Spaniel, and has wonderful new owners!  So happy to hear someone adopted a senior dog from a shelter! He was going with his new people down to the dock to go fishing!  That was where we were headed!  Max loves to go down to the dock and watch things float by in the water and hasn't been down there in a few months.

Max & #2 heading back from the Creek
 I didn't know how he was going to respond, but he enjoyed hanging out with Tyson and when we got down to the dock he walked the edge looking for floating things.. there wasn't much in there though, so he watched Tyson's dad fish, and then a man came down with a big cooler. He's a teacher and had a school project going under the dock as well as inYorktown where they were helping to replenish the oyster population in the York River and the Chesapeake Bay.  Max turned right back into his normal curious self as soon as he pulled the first basket of oysters up!  There were little shrimp flopping around, a few crabs and some little bait fish.. and some good smells!    Max was very intent on catching these fish! He tried to step on one, then caught it in his mouth, we had to remove it.. and then caught another and ate it!
Max enjoying his walk in the woods

2 Back seat drivers

I think that's the first thing he's ever killed in his whole life..  but down it went after a big crunch..   Hopefully he doesn't catch anything from it.. nasty.. but he seemed to have a really good time!

After our visit at the dock and the creek and adventures catching fish, crab and shrimp (and leaves, and mud) , we headed back up into the woods and went for a little hike!  Max seemed to really enjoy this as well but I could tell he started to get a little tired after a while so we headed back to the car..  he kept up a good pace though and was alert, watching leaves fall from the sky and running over to see what fell. He also chased a frog/toad through the leaves!

When Max & #2 got up to the field house they both remembered that the guys who worked there toss bread out in the mornings for the birds and deer and they went over to look for some.. a little late though! It was all gone!

It always seems like someone is looking over my shoulder!

Max heading back to the car.. but side tracked by a John Deere mobile..   (notice - he's walking in a relatively straight line and should now pass a sobriety test if pulled over while he's driving!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Medication update

Just got a call from the neurologist's office and we're changing Max's dose of Keppra from 500mg 3x day down to 125mg 2x/day and seeing how that works...

Max's Neuro Check up and anti-Seizure meds

Last week Max went in for his neurology check up, the first since his Cyber Knife.  He's been doing well.  We talked about how his hearing seemed to disappear when we lowered his prednisone dose to 10mg every other day so we decided to keep him on 10mg every day for now.  We're also working on weaning him over to the natural hydrocortisone. We did another full week of 10mg of prednisone every day, then the following week 10mg or prednisone every other day and on the other days we did 20-30 mg of natural hydrocortisone (soy-based and less effects on the liver/kidneys).  Now we're up to 10mg of prednisone and 2 days of natural hydrocortisone, then 1 day of prednisone and 2 days of natural hydrocortisone.  I'm happy to say Max's hearing and vision are great and I don't see any issues this time!

Dr. Young checked Max's eye as well and said it looked like it was healing well.  He could see through the cloudy scar tissue in his eye. He's doing well with his eye drops and anti-biotic ointment. He goes back to the eye doctor for a re-check next week,

The other issue we talked about were Max's anti-seizure medications.  All of the neurologists who have taken care of Max have suggested he be on anti-seizure medication .. just in case.  Dr. Joseph said he has seen dogs who have never had seizures have really bad ones that seem to come out of nowhere, and it's better to be on a preventative.  My one concern is, Max is not doing very well with these anti-seizure meds. He's not himself, and they make him very drunk.  He was first prescribed zonisamide. Max weighs 48 lbs. He was prescribed 200mg 2x/day.  He was pretty much a mess on this. It does take a while for them to build up a tolerance to the medication, much like you build up a tolerance to drinking or any other drug. Max had a really rough time and didn't seem to be building up any tolerance.  He lost his appetite all together, would vomit and had really bad diarrhea, and was extremely wobbly, anxious and walked around like a drunk guy.  I seemed to be able to get him to be ok on 100mg 1 time a day - given at night.  Dr. Young wanted to try at least 100mg 2x/day, but it's hard for Max to function during the day and we felt like his quality of life just wasn't there. The hard part is- you want them to have a good quality of life.. We went through this to save him, not to have him live the rest of his life in a fog.  Max is the Alex P. Keaton of Dogs!  He's always had serious OCD... He likes everything in it's particular spot, can't stand it when a dog can't walk in a straight line and needs to go run over and smell something..

Dr. Young suggested switching Max over to Keppra. He was prescribed 500mg 3x day.  The problem with this dose was that we gave Max his dose at 6pm and he did not wake up until 3AM the next day. Not even for dinner, or breakfast or to go out!  I couldn't even get his 2nd and 3rd doses in.  The next day I tried 250mg at night and he went out again and woke up to eat breakfast and then went back to sleep and around 1pm got up - very groggy, went potty, ate something, took a short walk, then another 250mg and he was out again until the next morning..   At this time, I'm hoping that he builds up some sort of tolerance to Keppra.   The positives of the Keppra are that he is not nauseous, his poops are solid, he doesn't seem very agitated, especially if I can get him out for a good walk in the afternoon.  He will sleep through the night.

I don't like to be woken up by drunk dogs in the middle of the night!!!
We had one little instance last night though, he didn't get his walk and was getting his exercise by walking all around the house (which he's always done if he doesn't get to go for a walk - think of a dog who needs to go to the gym religiously every day.. that's always been Max - so this isn't too abnormal for him) Anyway - at midnight he was doing his laps, and was drunk from his medication and I suppose stumbled over the dog bed where our rottie mix was sleeping, and she's apparently had it with Drunk Max. She jumped up out of bed with her horrible growley voice and decided Max needed his nose pierced.. you know.. just in case he decided he needed to get a nose ring with all the drugs he's been taking.. then she figured she should also pierce his tongue while she was at it... just in case Max REALLY wanted to be a rebel.. (Again - this is the equivalent to Alex P. Keaton getting a tongue and nose ring..... Sober Max has severe OCD... Drunk Max.. not so much.)

So Ms. Buttercup spent the rest of the night locked in Tom's office. She has yet to apologize to Max.  Max seems to be fine today.  Normally Buttercup is a lovely girl... like the rest of us though, she doesn't like to be stepped on or have someone fall on her in the middle of the night while she's sleeping, regardless of whether they can see or hear and especially not if they are drunk!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Resourcefulness of Max The Dog

My little friend Max has been on a mission this morning to steal the cat's food! Poor Tulsa the cat has kidney disease and seems to prefer to eat in bed. Well this morning Max decided that was a great idea and wanted to take part in Tulsa's breakfast! After repeatedly being told to stop trying to jump on the bed, he then decided to pull the blanket off the bed.. along with the cat food.. !

Max trying to get a good hold on the blanket to pull it off the bed

Got it! and this is how I woke up this morning!

Trying another way to get to the cat food

Still trying.. maybe he can PULL the blanket off the bed!
Working it!
Cat food in sight!

Whoops where did he go!
He's back!
And another attempt at pulling the blanket with his paws
And he's gone again - kind of like whack a mole (but I would never whack max)
And there he is again.. at least his ears!
Up again!
Whoops - slipped footing!
Poor Tulsa is irritated that max is trying to steal his food.
"Really... can you please stop him?"
My goodness! Dog on a mission!
Some confusion as the bed is being attacked by Max
"I'm going to get your breakfast!"
"I'm just going to grab this blanket you are on and pull!!! Hold on tight!"
"That bowel is getting closer!"
"HA!  I think I have it!"
"Ha ha ha ha!"
"Get In My Belly!"
"Pardon me, but do you happen to have any Grey Poupon?  ... and a Fork?"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

11-5-11 - Max's Day in Colonial Williamsburg

Today Max went for an outting in Colonial Williamsburg. He did pretty well but I think he was tired. He did take his anti-seizure medication today and prednisone which usually makes him sleepy. He's had a hard time hearing today - he can hear really loud noises and other dogs barking (except little doxies who are telling him what to do apparently), and I'm not sure how his sight was. The wind outside may have been drying up his right eye and it could have been hard to see but his nose sure was working!  There are a lot of good smells in Colonial Williamsburg! Max even tried to crash a wedding but was told if he didn't have an invitation he wasn't allowed in. We didn't see any sheep on this visit, just the horses which he normally will chase down, but today he just walked right up to them, wagged his tail and then turned and walked away. Definitely not himself entirely yet... which reminds me we have a ways to go.. or he has a new found appreciation for his friends the horses..
Max outside of the Bruton Parish Church on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg

Max and Buster walking along in Colonial Williamsburg

Max trying to crash a wedding at Bruton Parish.. he was denied.

Max and Buster Running around the corner at Bruton Parish to see if they can sneak in through the grave yard..

Max on Governor's Green in Colonial Williamsburg (Governor's Palace at the end of the green)

Max off leash on the Governor's Green in Colonial Williamsburg

Max & the Horses. A few months ago he'd try and ride a horse.. today he just wagged his tail as he went over and then turned around.

Max in the Colonial Gardens

Max wishing Buster would pick up the pace and stop sniffing EVERYTHING

Max waiting for Buster AGAIN..