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..

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Max has been very sleepy ... I mean VERY sleepy, especially until about Dinner time.. and then he's bouncing everywhere.  We don't know exactly what's going on in his head, but I've seen him get a little wobbly - like he's drunk, but his eyes aren't spinning, but when he sleeps he's been sleeping deeply. His hearing seems to be back - when he's awake!  Yesterday at the vet, I had him off leash in the parking lot and he decided to keep walking down the side walk towards the field. He got about 75 yards from me and I called him and he turned around, so I think his hearing is working pretty well.  His eye looks a little better. He is starting to produce his own tears and it is back to looking more glassy with the moisture in there, but under there's still some gunk going on. He goes back in a couple of weeks to get re-checked. It's not even been a week since he was at the eye doctor so I guess we are happy that his eye is looking better. This morning it just looked very cloudy. He has been rubbing at it.  The indentation in his forehead above his right eye seems to be doing better as well. Tomorrow will be 5 weeks from his last cyberknife treatment or 1 month and 1 week... I can't wait until it's many months!  and then years!

Yesterday we had a visit from a big hound dog named Summer who is a 9 month old puppy! She ran in the front yard with #2 and Max came out to say hi. They sniffed each other pretty well.. I mentioned that Max probably smells like prednisone a bit and turned out Summer was on it too for another issue - maybe they were happy to smell someone who smells like them. Anyway - Max just sat on the Stoop and Summer came up to check on him. He told her the rules, because he's always been known as the "Fun Police" and she listened! Pretty good for a puppy huh?!

Speaking of Smells, Max's mouth smells like sewage. I know in Chinese Medicine different odors coming from the body indicate different diseases and illnesses.. I dont think this is the same kidney or liver smell our golden had (It doesn't smell like kidneys or liver - but a kind of foul stink, but I'm thinking we may want to run some blood work to double check. He's been through a lot and you never know what his systems are doing.

The other thing I noticed was he has some dark pigmentation on his back ankles where they shaved him for his catheter. It almost looks like dirty skin  -not sure it's bruising, but it suddenly appeared yesterday. I noticed while were were visiting Dr. Lord and she had another vet from DC with her who so he had 2 vets look at it and they didn't think it was much, but it's different and has me concerned.