Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hate IBD

I hate IBD. I am tired of diarrhea with unknown causes. I am just tired.Poor Kieran must be tired of the diarrhea too. It sucks. For all of us.
That is all the whining I am going to do. For now.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's all about me.

Ok. Just this one post.
I just need to get it out there. I am scared.
There I said it. Maybe it won't have so much power over me anymore.

I have to give the back story in order for my fears to make sense to others.. Back in December I went to the doctor for a stomach ache that just wouldn't go away. A couple days before christmas I had an ultra sound. A couple days after christmas my doctor contacted me to let me know I had a small mass on my right ovary and that was what was causing me pain. So I called an obgyn to make an appointment about how to proceed with treatment. On new years I was in so much pain that I almost went to the emergency room. A few days later I went to the obgyn and he told me that I had an 8cm cyst on my right ovary. 8cm?? That's about the size of a baseball!  Decidedly not small. It had to go.

I made a follow up appointment for another ultrasound with the obgyn. However, before I went in for the second ultra sound, I was in so much pain that I decided to go to the ER on January 13th . At the ER they did an ultrasound and found that the cyst had not grown any larger. They also discovered that I am allergic to morphine.Fun times. Surgery with my obgyn was scheduled for January 20th.
On January 20th I had surgery to remove the cyst on my ovary as well as my right ovary. I expected to wake up and know that I was going to be feeling better in just 6weeks. What I heard instead was that it wasn't a cyst on my ovary at all and I still had a very large mass in my abdomen. WHAT!? I was angry. Biopsies were done to determine what we were dealing with. The obgyn also measured my tumor while he was in there and it was determined to be almost 10cm.

The biopsies came back that I have a schwannoma tumor.  It's basically a benign tumor made up of schwann cells(part of the nervous system). The tumor sits behind my ovaries and is resting on, maybe even connected to, the base of my spine. Once the tumor was identified the hunt was on for a specialist to remove it. An oncologist in Boston was recommended to me. She doesn't think most of my symptoms are from the tumor but I am still hopeful that I will feel better once it is removed.
In eleven days- not including today- I go in to have surgery. Again. I am scared. I wasn't scared the first time around. I was so happy that I would actually be out of pain once I healed from surgery. This surgery I have had plenty of time to think about. And worry about. I know I will be fine. I like my doctor and she is good at what she does. I will be in the hospital for a maximum of five days- not including the day of surgery.

I feel guilty too. My sister and her fiance are taking on full responsibility of my dogs while I am recovering. Again. I feel like I am abusing the kindness of my family. Like I am asking too much and not giving anything in return. I don't know how I can or will ever repay their generosity.

I need to take control of these emotions. I will be fine. And some how, some way I will find an appropriate way to show my thanks to my sister and her fiance.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finding the right food.

Finding the right food for Kieran is going to be an ongoing struggle and probably something I will talk about on a regular basis. Kieran was diagnosed last October with having Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD). Basically what this means is that his intestines don't always work right due to inflammation and cause him to have diarrhea. Kieran has food allergies as well- beef, soy, carrots, flax, oats and white potatoes. His food allergies certainly set off inflammation in his intestines. But right now he is having serious bouts of diarrhea and there has been no change in his diet for months. Something is causing his IBD to act up.

I am thinking about switching Kieran's food. Currently he is eating Evo 95% salmon and herring canned food. It has done wonders for him. He has been eating this food since November and it stopped his diarrhea and helped him to gain six pounds since early December. However, with no recent change in his diet I am wondering if I should try something different. Maybe he has developed a reaction to this food over time. It certainly is possible. IBD is a mean disease that doesn't have any real defined course of development. It does it's own thing and Kieran and I have to suffer the consequences.

The food I am considering switching Kieran to is Bravo.  I can't decide between Bravo basic chicken and Bravo boneless buffalo.  I can't decide for selfish reasons. Ideally Kieran should be on a novel protein- something he hasn't previously had- like buffalo. However, Kieran hasn't had chicken since October. The terrible selfish reason behind my wanting to try the chicken based food is that it is a little cheaper than the buffalo. Also, it is more accessible. I am a bad mother trying to save a few dollars at the potential expense of Kieran's intestines.

I am really going to have to think this over for a while. I can't make spit second decisions when it comes to Kieran and his diet. I need to weigh my decision carefully and take into consideration what is really best for Kieran. I'm also going to call Kieran's vet over at Smith Ridge Vet Center. Maybe he will have some insight on what I should do about Kieran's diet. For now I will do quite a bit of research and hope for the best.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Every bully deserves a home.

Some of my friends decided to do an awesome thing and start their own rescue. Rescue-a-Bull. I cannot even begin to express how proud I am of all of them. I wish I was better with words because I could go on and on about how wonderful each and every one of these people are that started this rescue. But if I did try to put it in writing it would just be crazy ramblings with the words- wonderful, amazing, selfless, groovy, thoughtful, remarkable, sensational, devoted, courageous, etc.- all thrown together. Because all those words apply to every single member, volunteer and supporter of this rescue. Truly phenomenal people.

I can't even imagine how difficult it is to start and run an organization like this. This rescue has no central location/shelter(although it is based in the northeast)- all the dogs are kept in foster homes until their forever home is found. This means that the rescue is completely dependent on volunteers. People that are willing to step up and open their homes and hearts to dogs in need for an unknown amount of time. Those that foster are some of the most selfless people around. They put so much into their fosters that these dogs literally are their family. I guess it is similar to raising a child and watching them go out in to the world on their own. But better- because they know their fosters are going to amazing homes. I wish I was in a position to foster. Unfortunately, right now is not the right time. Maybe some day in the future. But in the meantime I will definitely support my friends over at Rescue-a-bull.
One thing that Rescue-a-Bull will never lack is pit bulls in need of loving homes. 

Ps. I think I may have to get one of these T-shirts.
Edit: They have an incredibly helpful forum too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Loose leash

Kieran and I went to a loose leash training class offered by the pet store near us. It was useless. I was very disappointed. Thankfully it was only ten dollars and Kieran got some exercise and sunshine out of it. Kieran, of course, was an angel on his leash. I even had him on just the flat collar. I was hoping for lots of doggy distractions but there was only one other dog in the class. A deaf dalmatian puppy. The trainer worked mostly with the other dog because she was a serious puller. Everything the trainer said to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash I already knew- stopping forward progress when the leash gets tight, turning and walking the other way, rewards for walking with a loose leash, etc.  I guess we are just going to have to work really hard on this by ourselves.

It's very hard for me to train with Kieran since he has so many food allergies and has a seriously sensitive stomach. Any little change gives him an upset tummy. He has little to no toy drive so finding the right reward is tough. Then one of my rescue friends mentioned that I should try baking Kieran's canned dog food(Evo 95% salmon&herring) to make into treats since I already know that it doesn't upset his stomach. Brilliant! I wish I had thought of this myself months ago. I am currently trying to find the right way to bake it so that it doesn't stay all mushy. Eventually I will find the perfect formula.

I made a small amount of baked treats for Kieran and we went out for our afternoon walk. My goodness! What a difference. I know that food rewards are an amazing thing but Kieran probably could have gotten some amazing scores for competition heeling. He walked almost the entire walk by my side. The next day I did the same thing but apparently food appeal can only go so far. Kieran didn't pull but he wasn't glued to my side either. He would wander out front for a few strides and then jump back into position at my side. I'll take it. I am verbally praising him as well when he is in a position I like. I am still using the head halter with him just in case of serious distractions on our walks. Dogs, people and little critters(birds and squirrels) are going to be hard for him to overcome. Kieran spins and whines when he sees any of these things on our walks. Having food has definitely helped. People became a lot less interesting and dogs became a little less interesting (depending partly on Valkyrie's reaction to the other dog). Food had absolutely no effect on the squirrels and birds. But I have seen some amazing progress with food on just two walks. We could be on our way to a very blissful walking relationship.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


One year ago today in a crazy madness filled day I brought home my little Special K!!  I can't even believe that it has been a full year. I also can't believe it has only been a year. This past year has had it's ups and downs(more downs than ups- but that is for another time- this post is going to be full of happy!)
Baby Kieran was just a fun little guy. Happy and confident and full of potential. Kieran is still such a baby in so many ways. He is still so full of potential. He hasn't had the chance to experience life to it's fullest- yet!  So here is a year in photo review.
First night home

Agility star

Super Kieran!
I left out a lot of pictures because some of them just break my heart. So these are the ones that over the past year have really made me smile. Happy Gotcha Day Kieran!!!
2010 Christmas
Playing ball

Friday, March 11, 2011


One year ago today a now dear friend let me know I was approved to adopt Kieran- then he was known as Justice. The second dog! Finally! I'd been hunting for so long for that perfect match for my little family. Kieran sounded like what I was looking for. Playful, energetic, interested in toys, mellow around the house and got along with other dogs and cats.  And this photo was what helped me decide.
Who could resist such a cute face?

We had seven weeks of total bliss.  Then the honeymoon was over. It's so hard for me to believe that I have two of the most wonderful dogs out there and that they can't seem to get along. Valkyrie is still a very good girl. She just hates her brother. Kieran is a very good boy. He is still learning but he learns quickly. We live in a crate and rotate situation now. One dog must be crated if the other is loose in the house. Not at all what I expected when I adopted the second dog. Thankfully I can walk both dogs together. I am hoping to try to do slow reintroductions over the summer- once Kieran and I are both feeling better.
I do not regret choosing to bring Kieran home. He needed me. We had a long troubled road last year. But he has brought me unbelievable amounts of joy in that time too. He has connected me to an amazing group of friends that I might not have otherwise met. My little family is so loved and supported by so many now. And I love all of those that have been there for us and helped us through some very tough times.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Yesterday my dad came home from the hospital. It was his fifth hospital in less than 12 months. I hope that this time is permanent.  I am glad dad is home but I am scared to get my hopes up that this time it is for good. Or even a really long time. I don't feel up to emotionally rehashing the whole thing right now. So here is a very basic list of his medical issues-
1. Blood on the brain(Bilateral subdural hematoma)
2. Hole in spinal cord
3. Low brain pressure due to hole in spinal cord
4. Intestinal cancer
5. Heart conditions found while prepping for cancer surgery. 
6. Some complications from abdominal surgery.

But he is home. For now. And I can breath easy for a bit.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- Valkyrie&Tori

I've seen many other bloggers with this. I like it.

Valkyrie DOES snuggle with other people.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2 dogs- 2 walking styles

Well actually that isn't true. They both pull, I mean walk, the same. Even though neither dog weighs very much I feel like I am being pulled apart at the seams when I try and walk them on a flat collar. 

I have never been able to teach Valkyrie to walk politely on a leash. This is probably more my fault than hers. As I have stated before- I had no idea about dog training when I brought Valkyrie home. I don't even think I made an effort to train her to do anything at all until she was nearly two years old.  I didn't make a serious effort to train her to do anything until she was four years old and all hell broke loose and a training intervention was desperately needed. Somehow I have put agility titles on this dog and can't manage to teach her to walk nicely on a leash? There is something very wrong with this picture. 
Quite a few years ago I bought a gentle leader for Valkyrie. She nearly ripped her face off. No amount of cookies was going to be good enough to properly acclimate her to this new head halter. I needed a way to walk her without having my shoulder pulled out of its socket. I tried a choke collar. And it worked. But I felt terrible about using it. Once Valkyrie figured out that I wasn't going to follow through with the "pop" of the choke collar she leaned in real hard and would choke herself. For a long time I just left her on a flat collar and let her yank me around. Last summer I discovered the sense-ation harness. I decided to try it out. Valkyrie certainly isn't a saint on a leash now(also more my fault than hers) but I can walk her without injuring myself.  She doesn't pull as much as before and now I have more control when she does pull. I plan on working more with her in this harness and maybe by summertime we will have mastered the art of loose leash walking. 

Kieran is also a master puller. He has had a rough start- he's been very sick with inflammatory bowel disease(IBD) but that topic is a whole other post or ten by itself- but that certainly doesn't break his pulling spirit. He has places to go and people to meet and it all has to be done before the end of the walk. I planned to buy Kieran a sense-ation harness since I liked how well it worked with Valkyrie. But money has been tight so I decided to try the gentle leader on Kieran. He certainly was not thrilled with it initially. However, he can be bought. Just a few minutes each day over the course of a couple days I was able to convince him that every time the head halter went on he would get something very yummy. Yesterday we went on our first walk. I won't call it a phenomenal success but it was definitely progress. I know I need to work with him by himself to get it just right. He didn't pull once he realized that it wasn't going to get him anywhere. Right now with the limited amount of daylight I walk the dogs together. Once there is more daylight I plan to walk the dogs individually to work on their loose leash walking. Kieran and I are also going to attend a loose leash walking seminar next weekend. Crossing fingers and paws that we learn something(and then apply it!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

9 years ago.

Nine years ago my beautiful Valkyrie was born. I am still truly amazed that she is nine years old. She came to me a few months after she was born.  My life at that time was turmoil but in a good way(I can say that NOW that time has passed). I was transitioning from one point in my life to another. My life feels like it is still in transition. But I have my Valkyrie. She has been with me through so much. Always there for me.
Valkyrie is my slightly neurotic American Pit Bull Terrier(APBT). I had no idea what I was doing in regards to training a dog when I got her- even though I already had an older pit bull/boxer mix, Peanut. Valkyrie has an official name and everything. How fancy! Zell's Valkyrie CGC, NAC, NJC, TN-O, NCC, TG-N. All those letters after her name each have meaning. They stand for different agility titles she has earned over the past few years as well as her CGC(Canine Good Citizen award). Each of those titles have personal meaning to me too. We worked hard as a team to earn these titles but mostly we had a lot of fun getting there.
This blog is just a space for me to rant and rave about my life and adventures with my dogs. Yes, I said dogs. I have a second dog, Kieran. He is a little pit bull mix. But today's post is about Valkyrie. Because she is my princess.
Happy birthday my beautiful Valkyrie-bean!

 Baby Valkyrie.

Valkyrie the day I brought her home.

Valkyrie last week.