Meal time used to be real simple

Meal time used to be real simple.  Kali and Kloe each ate dry food for both breakfast and dinner.  Initially Kloe got high protein puppy food and was on a slightly different dry mix than Kali.   But eventually when Kloe got old enough they were on the same food.  Back in the day meal time inventory check:  two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food.  Simple! Scoop scoop wham bam thank you dad.

Meal time used to be real simple.

Over the past year Holly and I introduced raw meat into Kali and Kloe’s diet.  We’re fortunate to have good friends who own a pet shop and are quite informed and knowledgable about canine nutrition.  Owners Dee and George made suggestions for the raw meat and over the first couple of months we experimented with different types, varying portions, etc.   Wanting to still provide good grains to the girl’s diet, and after a few calculations to consider caloric content of the dry, the raw, and each dog’s weight, we landed on a regimen of dry in the morning and raw in the evening.  The raw meat is sold frozen and we buy it in quantities of 25 one pound flat pieces.   Every two days we would put two one pound portions in the refrigerator to thaw for two day’s of meals.   So, still not too bad, right?   Not as simple as two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food but definitely worth the extra meal planning and preparation to yield a healthier diet for the girls.  Plus, they absolutely love the raw meat it keeps their weight down.  And did I mention they love it?

When Koda arrived three months ago we put her on the same dry food that Kloe and Kali eat but the large breed puppy version that is high on protein.  Then about a month ago we began giving Koda a portion of raw meat with her dinner.  She too is crazy for “the raw”.  So let’s do a another meal time inventory check at this juncture: three dogs, three bowls, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, and varying portions of raw at dinner.   And as the old television commercials for kitchen gadgets used to say, “But wait – there’s more…”

Kali is slightly overweight and we wanted to reduce her caloric intake so we introduced some variations for her.  For breakfast she gets half a cup of dry food and half a cup of scrambled egg whites.  For dinner she gets a portion of raw meat and a half cup of salt free canned green beans.   It’s getting complicated isn’t it.

Real time meal time inventory check:  three dogs, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, three bowls, varying portions of raw at dinner, scrambled eggs in the morning, canned green beens in the evenings.   Based on our highly scientific caloric calculations dog size,  age, and overall weight management goals the dry food and raw portions are different for all three pups but at least the eggs whites and green beans are the same portions for Kali.  Hurray for small victories!

Meal time used to be real simple.   But are my girls healthier and happier? Yes.  Is it worth the planning and coordination and calamity amusement of three dogs squirming at your feet during preparation?  Absolutely!

The pace of the meal

Kali and Kloe used to finish their meals at almost exactly the same time even though Kloe’s portions were bigger. Now with Koda who has relatively large portions and eats a little slower (thank you puzzle bowls),  and the variation of portions and content,  they all finish their meals at different times.  Kloe is always finished first.  Koda is second, and Kali – who has the smallest portions – finishes last.  Sometimes by a good 5 minutes after the other two.   What Golden Retriever doesn’t love food, right?  But Kali takes it to the extreme.  Kali worships her food.   To watch her eat with the deliberation and devotion one might think that meal time is a spiritual experience for her.

Before Koda, when Kali and Kloe finished at the same time, it was amusing to watch them in unison like synchronized eaters move to the other’s empty bowl and lick around the edges and grooves of the puzzle bowls.  Now that finishing times are staggered Kloe typically walks off and asks to go outside having her sisters behind to finish up.  Kloe finishes next and it’s endearing to watch her watch Kali finish.  As Kali methodically addresses the meat and green beans that remain in the bowl Koda stands or lays nearby showing respect and does not try to steal any of the food.  But she’s not shy about getting her face right next to the Kali’s bowl.

And Kali just keeps eating seemingly in food bliss methodically conducting her business while her baby sister watches.

 

My Golden Therapy

When I turn into the driveway of the Golden K, my body tingles with anticipation of seeing “my girls” who will greet me at the gate or inside the house.

If they’re outside Kali and Kloe will trot to the rod iron gate at the first sound of my truck rolling up the Golden K driveway.  They watch me pull into the car port with their tails wagging and anticipating our physical and verbal greeting ritual.

If they’re inside the house I can usually see them through the windows of the doors.  Kali is usually sleeping right by the door and Kloe somewhere near Holly. As the door to the kitchen opens Kali springs to her feet and Kloe runs in to join us.  Kloe’s a little pushy and will always come to the front of the greeting line while Kali hangs back and patiently waits for her turn.The anticipation and intensity of the ritual increases the longer the time I’ve been away.

Lately I’ve been away a lot and for longer than usual periods…

Recently, both my mother and sister have been very sick.  It’s been a difficult few weeks and the seven hour round trip to and from the SF Bay Area to help with their care during this period took me away from my girls for several long days and a few over nighters.  The worry took an emotional tole and the hours driving, often in heavy traffic getting into or out of the West Bay, has been fatiguing.

But when I arrive back home and pull into the driveway the tingling begins and it slowly becomes better because of the healing powers of dogs.   In my case two very special, sweet, and tender dogs that in many ways define the Golden K.

Kali and Kloe.  My girls, my medicine, and my therapy.  My Golden therapy.

The driveway leading to The Golden K and my Golden Therapy

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The Girls chilling’ in the back of my truck

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What is hip?

There’s a favorite song of mine by Tower Of Power called What Is Hip?  Tower of Power was a very successful soul band in the seventies and eighties and continue to tour and play their brand of soul with the same enthusiasm and “hipness” that they did when I was a teen going to their concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unfortunately Kali’s version of the song is “what is hip dysplasia?

Kali arrived in the U.S. with hip dysplasia, a common ailment with Golden Retrievers.  Also common for Golden’s is not to complain about much of anything.  So while she has always been a little slow going up the stairs and can’t jump she has gotten along pretty well.   Until recently…

Over the past few months I’ve noticed Kali slowing down.  I attributed this mostly to her getting older – she was approximately five when she arrived and is now eight.  But my overall observations and instincts suggested that it was more than that and the obvious reason was her hips.  It became really evident when she was laying on one side and wanted to turn to the other side.  She moved slow, grunted a bit, and was clearly uncomfortable making this move.

We’ve had her on Dasaquin since day one and we her dry food includes glucosamine.   While these supplements may have helped for a while it became very evident that she needed something else.

A week and a half ago Kali’s vet did a thorough check of her hips and prescribed a newly approved medicine for dogs called Galiprant.  After just a couple of doses there was striking evidence of improvement.  Kali has always pranced but now when we head out for walks she is very animated and jogs down to the edge of our property where she waits to be leashed for our walk.  She seems genuinely happy to be stretching her limbs.  What a joy this is!

So is Galiprant a miracle drug?  It may be too soon to say, and I certainly don’t want to jinx anything, but for now “what is hip dysplasia” has become “What Is Hip?” and Kali and I are both feeling a lot younger as she gallops freely around the Golden K and I reminisce about Tower Of Power.

What is hip?
Tell me, tell me if you think you know
What is hip?
If you was really hip
The passing years would show
You into a hip trip
Maybe hipper than hip
But what is hip?

Tower of Power

Kali at home 1

Kali almost three years ago the day after coming home forever

Pearly Whites

Earlier this week Kali had her world rocked!  I think her brain short circuited for a short time evidenced by a few puffs of smoke billowing from her ears.

The morning started out normal enough:  rise and shine at sun-up, head downstairs and go outside to take care of “business”, dad freshens the water bowls, come back in, perform histrionics while dad fills the bowl with kibble, and eat breakfast.  But the bowl never came out and the kibble remained locked tight in the magic container.

Kali had a teeth cleaning scheduled for that morning at 8:30 am.  Because she would be receiving anesthesia she couldn’t eat anything.    So as I got my coffee and sat at the table to read the sports section all Kali could do was stare at me -indignantly- and wonder why I was not going into the closet to fill her bowl with kibble.  As I sat down I could swear her head did a few Scooby-Doo-like swivels as her lips uttered, “Wha…?”    To Kali’s credit she settled down quickly, stopped doing double takes towards the closet, and laid at my feet as I drank coffee and read the paper.

I brush Kali’s teeth regularly, often,…. I should be better about brushing Kali’s teeth.  She’s relatively tolerant of my gauze wrapped finger in her mouth mostly because it’s slathered in liver flavored tooth paste (yum, right?).  The biscuit interludes as rewards for being patient are also appreciated.   So I should be better and more disciplined about brushing Kali’s teeth.  When we changed vets earlier this year and Dr. Brenda was checking Kali’s teeth I say something like, “I’ve been brushing them often and they look pretty good, right?”.  Brenda says, “Well the front teeth look pretty good”, and then she pulls back her lips (Kali’s lips, not her own) to expose the molars and says, “but back here she has some pretty bad gingivitis.  You should get her in soon for a teeth cleaning”.  So we got her in for the cleaning last week….

Later in the afternoon I go back to pick up Kali with great anticipation of what will surely be her pearly white teeth and a happy dog hungry and anxious use those pearly whites to chomp into a biscuit or two as a warm up for dinner.

Have you ever gone in for an oil change for your car and when you come back to pick it up the service advisor meets you at the door and says something like, “The front end is out of alignment and you have an emissions error on the computer.  We’ll need to do some more diagnostics to see exactly what’s needed.  It’s safe to drive for now but you’ll want to have these repairs done soon”.

Dr. Brenda comes out to greet me saying, “Everybody always get’s nervous when the vet comes out to talk to you, but don’t worry Kali is just fine”.  I have to admit that when Brenda came out I thought something was up and began processing: if something had gone bad they would have called me, Kali’s ok, but why is Brenda here and not just the tech to say thanks and see you next time?…

Brenda explained to me that the ECG picked up Arrhythmia – abnormal heart rhythm – while Kali was anesthetized. More specifically, Premature Ventricular Complexes (PVC).  PVCs, for those of you with inquiring minds, [from Wikipedia] “are characterized by a premature ventricular contraction without a preceding P wave, with a duration of more than 0.12 seconds (P waves dissociated from the QRS complex)”. OK – now I’m doing a Scooby-Doo double take, “Wha….”.

Brenda went on to say that Kali was fine throughout the procedure and never in any danger.  Her oxygen saturation was well within normal limits and she showed no signs of distress.  Still, Brenda being conservative and not wanting to take any chances will speak with a Cardiologist about Kali’s PVC. I also learned that Kali has a cracked incisor and also has a molar that is separated from the jawbone.  Yikes!  Another “procedure” that will preempt breakfast… But before the extractions we’ll need to make sure the heart is good and that the combination of anesthesia and the PVC is not a risk.  That’s where the cardiologist comes in.  Dr. Brenda says it could be nothing, or something that is very treatable, but she doesn’t like to leave anything to chance.  This is why we like Dr. Brenda and the great care Kali gets at Livermore Country Pet Hospital.

The gingivitis is probably years in the making and the problem with the molar is likely related to that.  The cracked incisor is a mystery.  Kali has never exhibited any pain or discomfort while eating but then again, she’s a Golden and she’s Kali; never complaining and always wanting to please.   She may or may not be in any pain when she eats but we may never know.  Dogs have a great way of adapting to their environment and as an owner it can be easy to become complacent.

Oh yeah, and the PVC… Dr. Brenda will be calling this week after she hears from the Cardiologist and we’ll go from there.  Meanwhile, guess who will be jumping head first into research about PVC, causes, and treatments?  On the other hand it is what it is and maybe we’ll just sit tight and wait to hear from the experts before we get too much education on something that could be nothing.  Paws crossed!

Hey - those molars look real nice now but what's up with the sweat band on your leg?

Hey – those molars look real nice now but what’s up with the sweat band on your leg?