What’s wrong with Pad Thai?

I’ve had more than just Holly and the puppies on my mind lately. A week ago Monday, when Steve  gave the cats their 10pm feeding, we realized Pad Thai, our five year old Siamese cat, was missing.  Our three cats are not very demanding.  While they enjoy being with us, it isn’t unusual for one of them to find a good napping place and be out of sight for hours at a time.  But it is unusual for them not to shop up when it’s feeding time. We called for Pad Thai – he knows his name and usually comes running when he hears us calling him – but he didn’t appear. We looked in his favorite napping places – various human and pet beds around the house, on and under the couches and chairs – and opened all the closed doors in case he’d gotten stuck but we couldn’t find him anywhere.

If you’ve ever been around a Siamese cat you know they tend to be pretty vocal:

(Not our cats but Pad Thai looks and sounds like this pair)

Usually if he’s trapped somewhere, he cries out to us when we call. But we didn’t hear a sound.  After searching for an hour, we were pretty concerned; had he slipped outside somehow?  I open and close the sliding glass door a countless number of times on a given day: letting the dogs in or out, checking on Holly and the puppies or heading out to the garden to weed or trim. I didn’t think he’d slipped out. But where was he?  We even flipped our mattress and box spring because the cats have torn a hole in the bottom of the box spring and made a hide place inside it. Finally Steve found him curled up behind some furniture in our spare room downstairs. He was very listless and quiet. When offered food and water he showed no interest. Soon after he vomited up clear liquid. Something was definitely wrong.  I took him into my room and put him on my bed, shutting the door so he couldn’t slip off again.

By Tuesday morning, he’d jumped off the bed and hidden himself in the box spring; I had to flip the mattress and box spring and use scissors to cut a hole to get to him out of one of the corners. He was lethargic and still not interested in food or water. He’d also vomited more overnight.  At 8:30am when Dr. Hileman’s office opens, I called. They agreed to squeeze Pad Thai in at 9:30am between appointments. Dr. Hileman examined him and took blood samples.  Their test showed his potassium, phosphorus and blood cell count were all low.  Dr. Hileman said several things might be wrong. Pad Thai might have pancreatitis, or perhaps have ingested some chemical or swallowed a foreign object. The first step was to give him I.V. fluids to help raise his potassium and phosphorus levels and re-hydrate him. That meant leaving him at the clinic for treatment.  By Tuesday evening, he was still lethargic and not eating so Dr. Hileman recommended keeping him overnight and doing x-rays in the morning. He’d also been drooling, which can be a sign of pain, so she put him on a pain reliever. On Wednesday, the x-rays showed a grey area in his abdomen; possibly signs of pancreatitis or a foreign object. So Dr. Hileman took more blood and sent it to an outside lab to check for pancreatitis. After work, Steve went over to see him and took this picture to show me and the girls:

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Pad Thai at the Clinic

On Thursday, the lab results came back indicating he did not have pancreatitis. And further x-rays showed the gray area had moved, indicating Pad Thai had indeed swallowed a foreign object.  It was a good sign, Dr. Hileman said, that the object had moved.  If we were lucky, Pad Thai might be able to pass whatever he’d swallowed and avoid surgery.

Unfortunately, Friday morning Dr. Hileman called to say the latest x-ray showed that the object was stuck and pulling on Pad Thai’s intestines. That meant Pad Thai would need surgery. That afternoon when Dr. Hileman opened Pad Thai up, she had to make four different cuts in his intestines to remove a linear foreign body, in this case thread.

Saturday around noon, we were able to bring Pad Thai home. The poor little guy had an e-collar on because he’d been licking his incision. Before leaving the clinic, I asked how long we had to limit his activity and Dr. Hileman said 30 days, but realistically at least the first 10 days. We were sent home with a bag of special digestive care food, two sets of pills, an antibiotic and an anti-nausea drug. No painkillers though because they slow down the digestive track; that wouldn’t be good for Pad Thai’s intestines while they are healing.

At home we tried to make Pad Thai comfortable. I put him on a towel on my bed. But when Steve began to pet him, he jumped down and looked for a place to hide. When he tried to slip under my dresser and bed, the e-collar got in the way.  Thank you e-collar; Pad Thai getting into the box spring and then being cut out again is not probably not a “limited activity.”  I put him on the bed again and this time we kept our hands to ourselves and he settled down.  It was a long night. Pad Thai seemed uncomfortable – he just had major abdominal surgery after all. And the e-collar made it hard for him to move around; when he tried to use the litter box he got his head caught under the sides and I had to get out of bed to help him.

Sunday, he didn’t eaten anything and was pretty lethargic. When Dr. Hileman called to check on him she asked me to take his temperature and if it was above 103.2 degrees,to take him to the emergency veterinary hospital. Thankfully it was only 102.9. She then said to feed him about a teaspoon of baby food every two hours. If he wasn’t eating by tomorrow she said to bring him back and they’d put in a feeding tube. Steve went to the store and bought a jar of turkey baby food. I put a little in front of Pad Thai and he wasn’t having any of it. I tried opening his mouth and putting a little on his tongue. Still no go. So with Steve holding him, I opened his mouth and tried feeding him with a small spoon. More of it ended up on me and the towel than down Pad Thai’s throat. Then I remembered the small feeding syringe I used to give sugar water to  Holly’s sick puppies:

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Mixing in some water, I was able to draw the baby food up the syringe. The syringe worked wonderfully. The body of the syringe held his mouth open so I could squirt in the baby food. Pad Thai, although not happy, swallowed it down.

On Monday, Pad Thai seemed less lethargic. When I gave him a break from his e-collar, he immediately began grooming himself and his eyes seemed livelier. But he still wasn’t interested in eating. I called Dr. Hileman and asked if we could try giving him Hill’s a/d canned food through a syringe rather than put a feeding tube in. She agreed that was a good option. When I picked up the food, they gave me a syringe with a wider opening that would work with the a/d which is courser than baby food:

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A Tabby getting fed from a large syringe

So that’s how I’ve been feeding Pad Thai since Monday afternoon. Thankfully he only needs  a quarter of a can a day. The large syringe proved harder and messier than the smaller syringe but each time I end up wearing less of it and Pad Thai swallows more. He seems  better too; most of the time he lies calmly on the bed. He’s less interested in licking his incision so when I can keep an eye on him I take his e-collar off. He even pooped once which means his intestines are doing their job again. He’s had a rough week and is very thin from not eating.  But he’s still my handsome boy:

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I’m feeling hopeful that the worst is over for both of us.  And we’ve all learned our lesson.  No thread or any small object will be left around where one of the cats can get to them.

Allison

 

 

 

 

Puppies love the garden, too much

About a year ago, we completed a remodel of our home. We expanded our living room out toward the back:

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and added a bathroom:

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and a bedroom on the main level:

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Before then, we had a Florida/sun room in the back where we kept our foster dog families:

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One of Cherry’s Puppies in Florida room 2010

While it was a convenient and roomy space, it was more challenging for us and our dogs to get to and enjoy our backyard. Various puppies would chew on our chaise cushions, furniture and run through the garden, trampling flowers, herbs and vegetables.

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Trixie’s puppies 2012

And as much as we enjoy the company of puppies, sometimes I wanted to lie down on a chaise and read a book or use the patio for a quiet meal without having a dozen or so dogs and puppies around.

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Sarah/Rory 2015

And not all of our mother dogs have taken to Wendy and Little Dog. In those cases we had to bring the puppies and mom back into the Florida room whenever Wendy or Little Dog needed to go out back.

By creating an area for the mothers and their puppies in our laundry room:

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Becca’s puppies in whelping box in kennel area, 2015

and fencing off the side of the yard we solved all those problems.

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Unfortunately, it only took one litter to transform the side yard from a nice grassy area to dirt and weeds. It doesn’t look so nice anymore. But for the first month or so, the small side yard offers enough stimulation for a litter of puppies: new surfaces to smell, taste and walk across. During the last weeks they are with us though, I start letting them in the backyard now and then so they can run through the grass and explore the yard. They love running under and behind the bushes and tall trees, along the fence, across the patio.  Eventually they discover my garden:

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At first a puppy is tentative around these tall mysterious plants and walks slowly and carefully among them. But that wears off quickly and she soon realizes how fun it is to race through and over the plants, chewing and trampling as she goes. If I try to fetch her back, the other puppies follow me and also realize what great good fun there is to have among that lush green foliage.

Yesterday’s casualty:

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Bleeding Heart

 

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Bleeding Heart after being run over and chewed on

So today Steve saved the day by stretching one of our puppy fences across the yard to keep the dogs and puppies out of the garden, using a piece of lattice board to finish the job:

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Oh well, Arya will just have to roll around in the grass (weeds) instead:

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Allison

More puppies find homes

Last Sunday evening – Father’s Day – we had more potential adopters visit. First to arrive was a family with four children. I’m always a little nervous when new children come over.  Puppies need special care and not all children are developmentally or temperamentally ready to control their behavior. Puppies are very exciting, it can be hard for young children to stay under control around them. And not all parents realize that children need to be supervised closely when they are playing with puppies and dogs. The most challenging situation is when a parent fails to monitor or offer guidance or correction to her/his child. I have learned to step in with gentle corrections and advice if the parent fails to do so. It’s especially challenging when there are multiple children and puppies to monitor. As of last Sunday, there were three puppies who were still available for adoption: Brienne, Sansa and Arya. Of the three, Brienne and Sansa are temperamentally best suited to be adopted into a family with children.

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Arya is the biggest and strongest puppy in the litter.

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Bigger and stronger, she’s used to winning most of the wrestling matches with her siblings, being able to steal away toys and using her greater bulk to get her favorite spot when nursing.  As a result, she has a lower frustration tolerance than Brienne and Sansa. When playing with her, I’ve found her to be a little bit more aggressive than the others and more upset when she doesn’t get what she wants or something doesn’t go her way. This doesn’t mean that she won’t grow up to be a nice dog; simply that it would be better for her to be placed in a home without children for now. Children may find her rougher play challenging and are less able to give her the correction she needs to develop frustration tolerance.

When the family arrived, I brought them to the back yard and invited them to sit down. I explained that the puppies hadn’t met many children before and that it would be best if they waited for a puppy to come to them instead of running over. The children all sat patiently while I went to get the two puppies. And when they saw Brienne and Sansa, they stayed put until the puppies ran to them just as I’d requested. Both puppies seemed to like the children, Brienne was especially quick to warm up. And both parents watched the children closely and gave direction, reminding them not to squeal or chase the puppies if one wandered off for a minute. All the children, even the youngest, were very gentle and careful when handling the puppies. Before too long they decided to adopt Brienne who relished all the attention. Brienne will be so happy in this very nice family’s home.

Our next potential adopter was a young woman. I brought both Sansa and Arya out to meet her. She had raised puppies before and was very knowledgeable about socialization and training. Either puppy would thrive under her care. She enjoyed Arya’s boundless confidence, didn’t object to her rougher play and decided to adopt her.

So we are left with just one puppy to find a home for, Sansa:

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I’m not concerned; she friendly, sweet and with every new visitor, shows more confidence and resiliency.  And it doesn’t hurt that she’s as cute as can be.

Allison

Mommy plays rough

Now that the puppies are older, they and Holly require more of my time. The puppies’ messes are frequent and Holly no longer cleans up after them (she, like most mother dogs, stopped eating her puppies’ poop once they started eating solid food). Slowly the puppies are shifting away from Holly’s milk to more food and water. Which means frequent checks to see if bowls need refilling. The puppies sleep less and when awake are more active. Their focus is shifting away from their mother and siblings to humans: they crave attention. And not just them, Holly would rather be with me and the grown up dogs. Less interested in nursing the puppies, she tires of running away whenever the puppies try to latch on. Left with them for too long, she’s prone to barking. Unfortunately all this means I have less time for other activities, including writing the blog.  So I’m making up for my neglect by posting lots of pictures and video tonight.

Late this afternoon I went out to let Holly into the backyard to run off some energy. She showed her excitement by jumping up on the gate:

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And she wasn’t the only one begging for attention:

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So I after I let Holly out back, I joined the puppies in the side yard.

Look how big they’ve gotten:

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And they eat food straight from the bag now (yay, I can stop making puppy pap):

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After racing around for a while, Holly came back wondering why I hadn’t come with her:

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So I led the puppies through the gate to join their mother in the backyard:

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The puppies love the backyard too. Better grass to run through and so much new territory to explore.

Holly was excited to play with the puppies.

Maybe a little too excited:

Besides biting the puppies hard enough to make them yelp, I’ve also seen Holly run right over them when she’s racing around. She doesn’t understand that the puppies aren’t old enough or big enough to play so roughly. Thankfully, when she’s calmer she’s a little more gentle:

But even so, her way of playing isn’t always that much fun.

In this next video, the puppies are showing nice manners. They aren’t jumping on Little Dog and are politely greeting her with small licks. Yet they can’t fight the temptation to chew on her long ears. Despite their generally restrained behavior, Little Dog still wants to get inside the house and away from them (she’s had her fill of puppies):

No matter, there are plenty of other things to entertain themselves with:

Hear the cry in that last clip?  Holly’s being too rough again.

And this is what happens when I call out “Puppy Puppy!”

Moments like this make up for all the poop and barking.

Allison

 

Holly likes tug of war

One night after dinner, Steve and I were sitting out with Holly and the puppies. Steve picked up one of the toys and started waving it in front of Holly. She grabbed it and for a few moments played tug of war with him. Then she pulled it away and began shaking it the way dogs do. Finally she’s comfortable enough to play with us. Soon the puppies surrounded her and pulled the toy away from her. So Steve got another toy for Holly and him to play tug of war with. They kept up this game for quite a while. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me. A few days later I filmed myself playing with Holly and the puppies (rather challenging to play and shoot at the same time):

 

 

 

Since the puppies were taking away Holly’s toys, I decided to move in the backyard.  And I brought out a special toy for her:

We played with it for a while then went back to the puppies:

Looks like they like the fox(wolf?) too 🙂

 

Watching these videos again makes me want to go out and play now.  I’ll try to check in again soon.

Allison

Play time with mommy

Holly is becoming more active each day. In the mornings, I bring a cup of coffee into the back yard with Wendy and Little Dog. Before settling down in a chair, I let Holly out of the side yard so she can be with us grown ups. She so excited to see us. She races through the gate and across the yard and then back to jump up on me. Not liking that, I turn my back on her to try to teach her that jumping up on people gets you ignored, not attention.  Usually, she’s so excited she just jumps on my turned back then races off again. No easy fix here. In the future, I or someone else will have to work with her on not jumping  so she’ll be a well mannered dog. After running around some more, Holly will often drop into a play bow (or stance) in front of me. Yet when I pick up a toy and try to play she gets nervous. If I throw something for her to chase, she flinches and doesn’t go after it. She’s also started trying to initiate play with Wendy and Little Dog. Unfortunately Wendy isn’t ready to play with Holly yet; she prefers to play with dogs with whom she has a longer acquaintance. And Little Dog doesn’t play with anyone, human or dog. Little Dog was extremely shy when we first started fostering her. She would shake all over when anyone approached her. And while she’s warmed up considerably, even approaching strangers on walks to beg with her pretty brown eyes for pets, she simply doesn’t want or know how to play with people. Yet she loved playing with her puppies. She would run with them all over the yard, enjoying it as much if not more than they did. And for many years she loved playing with other foster mother dogs’ puppies too.

Now that they are livelier, Holly really enjoys playing with her puppies just as Little Dog did:

Doesn’t it look like she’s having fun?

And they seem to like playing with their mamma too.

The other shy mother dogs we’ve had have also seemed particularly attached to their puppies as they’ve gotten older. Not only have they wanted to play with them more than the mother dogs who were more comfortable with people but they also seemed less eager to wean them. Perhaps they’re lonely in their shyness and want to hold onto the closeness they have with their puppies.

When I see Holly so happy with her puppies I can’t help but wonder what her life was like before she came to us. Did she have a special dog friend?  One like her puppies she trusted enough to roll around in the dirt with? Who knew how she liked to play?  I can’t help but hope that someday Holly is lucky enough to have a special dog friend with whom she can have the kind of fun she’s having right now with her puppies.

Allison