Recent Walks in the Park

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ramona and the Big Move

Last weekend, Josh and I moved to a house from an apartment.  Multiple factors went into this decision, but one of the main ones was Ramona having a yard.  The house not only is in a wonderful neighborhood, where almost every neighbor has a dog, but it is also much closer to our favorite dog park, City Bark!  Ramona is the easiest going dog, but she is definitely having an adjustment period.

She appeared very nervous as we were packing everything in the truck and started whining as we were wrapping things up for the first run.  I just knew if she could talk she would ask, "Are you leaving me here?"  She clearly didn't know what was going on.  My friend (and Ramona's friend's dad), David, got Ramona and her crate and brought her to the new house since my car was completely packed.  With all of our friends there and the hustle and bustle, she was doing really well and enjoying the day.  However, now when we get home and let her out of her crate she has this burst of nervous energy and whines.  Plus, yesterday she pottied in her crate :( 

On the positive side, she is LOVING the backyard!  She goes out there and basks in the sun.  There are times that she plays dead so we can't get her back inside.  Of course, she can't resist a treat :)  But she's getting a whole new routine down and gets extra outside time, since we still take her on morning and evening walks AND she gets to hang out in the backyard.

We are working hard to get her 100% back to normal and in the meantime, we are putting a lot of positive training sessions in the house to get her to associate it with a positive thing, when we are home and away. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yearly Check Up

I am happy to report that Ramona had her heart worm scan and she is clear!  They don't usually know definitely until 6 months or so after the last treatment because they have to wait the full cycle of the worm, in the event any larvae survived.  She is overall very healthy, aside from a food allergy we have yet to pin down and a few extra pounds. 
For the food allergy, the tests are very expensive and she isn't so sick that it is of concern to the vet or to us yet.  So I am tracking all ingredients in all her food and treats and narrowing it down that way.  I wouldn't be surprised if this dog ended up needing just boiled rice and chicken every day.  Poor girl... she loves food!
While the doc was proud of us for Ramona not gaining any weight, it is still a big deal for a 45 lb dog to be 8 lbs over weight.  That's an extra 20% of weight she's carrying around.  We put her on diet dog food, which is potentially causing her allergic reaction, and trying to get to the dog park every chance we have. 
We are coming up on 1 year since adopting Ramona and we couldn't be happier that we've had her in our home!  She's so sweet and gentle and completely adorable when she's mischievous, which makes it very hard to get mad at her!  But look at this face and tell me you couldn't cuddle with her!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Binge-Eater Beagle

Well I thought we wouldn't be dealing with this until at least a toddler was around... but Ramona is a Beagle, which means a lot of eating.  On Saturday, our friends were so sweet to bring over those delicious sugar cookies with the icing that the grocery store puts out for just about every holiday or season.  These had purple frosting (totally appropriate for the LSU game that was on) with Halloween sprinkles on top.  Sunday morning, I woke up to my alarm at 7am, fed my always hungry dog, and went back to bed.  About an hour later I found Ramona behind the chair with the tray of cookies- with only 1 cookie left!  She ate about 15 cookies!  She looked up at me with a look of "OMG what did I just do?!"

That's what I get for leaving any edible objects on the dining table.  The good news is, she left no mess on any rugs and licked up all the crumbs.  And as for vomiting, which we thought was sure to happen, none occurred.  Thank goodness!  But this Halloween outfit from Target is extremely appropriate :)  I can only imagine what we would find in her belly if we could see... (worms, lizards, crab claws, crawfish heads, chicken bones, grasshoppers, chewed gum- just a few that we know of)!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Diagnosis: Behavioral or Medical?

For about the last two months, Ramona has continued to get sick to her stomach almost on a daily basis.  After much patience and advice (and some meds) from our WONDERFUL vet, Dr. Hess, we have tried almost everything to solve her problem.  It has now come down to running blood tests and potentially an ultra sound!  I now understand how people will go above and beyond for their pet- she is part of the family and when she doesn't feel well, we feel for her.

It all started in the beginning of April, Ramona started attacking our houseplant and when we took her out she was eating grass like she hadn't eaten anything in a year.  We basically had to carry her back in the apartment.  She was completely restless- so in turn, we were too.  It resulted in me spooning her all night and rubbing her belly.  The next day I took her to the vet where she got a shot and some meds.  Nothing showed up on her stool sample (she's very good at giving those!) so there was no cause for concern... just that she probably ate something that upset her stomach.

Since then we have tried:
  • special diet dog food with yogurt
  • rice and boiled chicken
  • upped our training so she wouldn't eat off the ground outside
  • Pepcid AC every night
It even got to the point where Josh thought she might be faking because she knew she would get to sleep in our bed!  The doc brushed that off pretty quickly, but she is a master of manipulation... who can say no to her adorable face?!   Behavior does have a lot to do with it because the more we stimulate her, the less she is likely to get into trouble... and trouble for a Beagle means eating anything that can be swallowed (for Ramona it's crawfish and crab shells and claws, chicken bones, Zest soap, already chewed gum- one of her favorites, bugs, and the list goes on and on).

Yesterday she went for a blood test and the results showed a high level in Potassium and low level in Sodium.  This could be a sign of Addison's Disease, which is a deficiency of a hormone in the adrenal glands.  So she is off for yet more tests at the end of the month to officially check for the disease.   If she does test positive, it is easily treatable with either a daily pill or monthly injection and she will live a long and healthy life! 

More to come...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nothing Messes with Ramona's Heart!

Ramona has been underway on heartworm treatment for almost 7 weeks now.  She definitely has cabin fever and is driving us crazy, but overall it is going better than we could have expected.  There is a lot I didn't know about heartworms and after hours of research and millions of questions to the vet, I think I got the hang of this whole process...

When dogs are brought to the SPCA they go through a number of tests, medically and behaviorally.  One of the things they test for is whether or not the dog is heartworm positive.  Ramona tested positive.  Considering her age (around 2) and the stage they believe the hearworms are at, the vet expected a pretty easy procedure and recovery time.  We got her December 5 and December 10 she started her first round of medications.

Ramona started with 30 days of antibiotic to kill any bacteria that lived on the heartworms.  I was told that until she got her first injection she could play and go to the dog park.  A few days after her meds started Ramona and I joined our friends, David (human) and Luna (dog), at the dog park.  That night Ramona became very ill.  She started coughing and it kept getting progressively worse so I called the 24 hour vet.  He told me to call back if she got really lethargic, vomited, or was not getting enough oxygen (basically check her gums for coloring).  As time went by Ramona was getting more and more uncomfortable and took herself to her crate (very odd for her at that time).  Naturally concerned, I followed her in there.  She could barely keep her eyes open and became extremely lethargic.  Luckily Josh got home right then and we rushed her to the Vet.  She received one more antibiotic and a steroid dose.  This poor pup was now on 10 pills a day for a good week!  The Vet did tell us that no matter what, with heartworms she shouldn't be active more than short leash walks.  

On January 10, I took Ramona back to the SPCA.  This dog LOVES the SPCA.  She just really enjoyed having all the dog friends and people around... she's such a social butterfly.  I'm sure she had no idea that she would be getting a bald patch on her back, a poisonous injection, and more medication.  When I picked her up that night I brought her home to my other patient (Josh had foot surgery 4 days before).  I had 2 medicated patients to take care of and let me tell you... they were both completely out of it on pain meds!  Ramona kept going in my closet and sleeping on my shoes.  I found that very interesting considering her back was in pain, but shoes always make me feel better too :)

Basically Ramona got a poisonous injection that kills the weaker worms in her heart (usually males).  As the worms die they break down and go throughout her blood stream.  She has to stay extremely calm so that her heart rate doesn't get up.  If she does she has more risk of the dead worm particles getting blocked and causing an embolism.

February 14-15, she went back for her 2nd and 3rd treatments.  She had one injection each day.  These were stronger injections so would be more painful.  "Patches" came home with 2 patches on her back and took herself straight to my closet... again this dog loves to lay on my shoes!  She's been handling these last 4 weeks very well- with the exception of her need to get out and exercise.  She has handled the 2nd round basically the same as the 1st.  The thing that has gotten really bad is her water drinking and need to eliminate.  She will drink as much water as is given to her so after her last outing at night she can't have any more water.  She can't hold her bladder for very long so crate stays have to remain no longer than a normal work day.

While her not being able to go on walks or run around has given Josh and me more time to sleep in in the morning and more time relaxing at night, her cabin fever is beginning to run us thin.  A week from tomorrow she will be removed from exercise hold and we will begin rigorous positive reinforcement training.  I can't wait to put everything to use that I learned in "It's Me or the Dog"!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

PAW: 1- preparing for adoption

My boyfriend, Josh, and I both wanted a dog, but living in New York City poses a challenge for pet ownership for two main reasons.  First, affordability: I made a good habit of spending every dollar I made on rent, taxis, clothes, food, alcohol, and flights to visit my family in Southern California.  Josh made it a good habit to save more money, but spend what he wasn't saving on shoes and flying to almost every Saints game, away or home.  Second, availability: a dog relies on you to be available to their needs and wants... somewhat like a small child who cannot speak and isn't allowed to go most places with you.  Neither of us had availability in our busy social, shopping, and traveling schedules to spend time with a pet. 

When we first got the news of a possible re-location for a job opportunity for Josh, we both agreed that the first thing we wanted to invest in would be a dog.  Our move posed a lot of changes and surprisingly not a lot of challenges.  We were moving in together, driving through 9 states to our new residing city, combining furniture and decor, Josh starting a new managing position, and me finding a new job in a new career field.  It only took us 2 months to be settled and comfortable in our new professional and personal roles. 

When deciding on a dog we discussed and decided on the following:
  • where to get the dog- SPCA
  • the age of the dog- NO YOUNGER THAN 1, NO OLDER THAN 5
  • gender- FEMALE
  • size- MEDIUM
  • where the dog stays while we're at work or out- CRATE
  • rules for around the house- NO COUCH OR BED
At the shelter we learned that we also needed to pay attention to heartworm status.  I ruled out heartworm positive dogs because the treatment is so harsh and requires a very quiet and calm environment.  Also, I didn't think I could handle it because I can be very emotional. 

After finding 3 great options for dogs and losing all 3, Josh found Ramona.  She didn't run around and play- she just followed him to the outside area, laid down and rolled over for a belly rub.  The SPCA requires all family members to meet a dog before adopting so we got the information for where Ramona would be the next day (dogs usually go to adoption fairs on the weekends).

That Saturday was like Christmas morning to me... I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to hit the adoption fair to go meet this dog that Josh spoke so highly of.  She was cuter than Josh had described (to his defense, he had seen our Beagle mix right after a bure bread Lab and a pure bread Cocker Spaniel) but was just as sweet as I anticipated.  Ramona is heartworm positive, but once I met her I knew that I could put my emotions and hesitations aside to rescue my sweet girl.

These are a few things that we did and wish we did to prepare:
  • check the SPCA website,, or websites that list rescue animals such as for pictures and details about dogs up for adoption
  • go into the shelter with no expectations of bringing the dog home- with emotions high it's easy to make an impulsive decision.  you should be 100% positive this is the right dog for you
  • decide if you have the right home or family dynamic to rescue a dog with heartworms
    • I encourage this if you are a single person or a couple, especially living in an apartment
    • turns out we are the perfect situation for Ramona during her treatment as we have to leash her to go outside and eliminate, she is in her crate while we are both working so she has a lot of quiet time, and when we come home it is 2 calm adults who have a routine. 
  • re-work your budget to see what you can afford
    • the type of breed and age you get may depend on your affordability
      • younger pups and certain breeds chew more, which could potentially sacrifice furniture, shoes, toys, and other things lying around
      • larger breeds require more food- the smaller the dog, the less food you feed at each meal, the longer the bag of food lasts
      • certain breeds and older dogs may be more substainable to medical and health conditions
    • allow at least $300 to get things started
      • treats, food, food and water bowls, toys, crate, bed, leash, collar, ID tag with your contact info and dog's name, grooming (we got Ramona groomed her first day since she was a little dirty from running around the shelter), prevention medication, brush, blankets and towels designated for dog use, firts aid kit, evacuation kit (if applicable), puppy profing (if applicable), and anything else I missed!
    • set aside a portion of your savings ($500 give or take) for unexpected costs or late-night vet visits
  • decide on house rules and training techniques
    • I am OBSESSED with It's Me or the Dog both in book and TV show form... check out Victoria Stilwell's website for positive reinforcement training to read blogs, find Positively trainers, buy her books, listen to podcasts, or get information about the Animal Planet TV show:
  • divy up responsibilies- who will do what and when?
  • research vets, boarding facilities, dog parks in your area
  • know your limits!  some management companies will not allow certain breeds on their property.  always check with your landlord to ensure you area allowed to have a pet, how much the pet deposit will cost, and if there are any restrictions or limitations
    • the first dog we liked was a Pit Bull mix and our management company does not allow that breed to reside in our complex :(
  • have a list of emergency phone numbers, like your local 24 hour vet, poison control, and anything else that pertains to your area
    • Ramona had a visit to the 24 hour vet about 2 weeks into having her
  • designate an entire weekend to the new dog and getting her familiar with you and her new home
  • talk to friends or family members who have dogs, especially people who have a similar situation as yours (i.e. apartment, house, family, couple, single, etc) to get an insider's perspective
  • lastly, be prepared to pick up poop, sweep up dog hair, and guard your trash!