Life with Jasmine, Juliet and Buttercup, Our Rescued Dachshunds

Random notes on our experience with THREE rescued miniature dachshunds

She’s Gone

I know I haven’t written on the blog in some time. I guess I should have, because then you could learn more about the aging process. Looking back, I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since Jasmine starting showing signs of age and decline. And on Friday, February 16, 2018, we made the terrible and loving decision to put Jasmine to sleep.

Jasmine the Dachshund

One of my favorite pictures of Jasmine

When we first adopted Jasmine, my husband Tom suggested I get the youngest of the rescued Dachshunds so I’d have a better chance for a longer time with the dog. I remember he said, “I know how attached you’ll get.” What he didn’t bargain for was how deeply attached he was to this love of a dog. We are both devastated. But Jasmine was “my” girl…we had a special bond from the very beginning. When she finally trusted me, which really didn’t take too long, she was my shadow. All she wanted was to be with me. That sounds a bit egocentric, but it’s true. I was her sun and moon. And she…she was mine.

As I started to detail in the post The Sadness of Aging: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, Jasmine has been showing her age. Jasmine was incontinent, and she also started wandering around the house, sniffing and pacing, more and more often. She had times where she would stare off into space, with a vacant look on her face that I had not seen before. She started banging into things as well, so we knew that she was losing her eyesight. It was sad, but she managed well and still was a happy dog. She had her routine. She had us.

Last August, we moved. We downsized our house to a one-story house with a lovely deck and yard. We now had a walkable neighborhood. It was a good choice for us, but it took Jasmine some time to adjust. By this time, she was completely blind, and all the new smells, the new layout and the chaos of packing and moving…it was a lot for her. However, over the last six months, Jasmine had adjusted well to the new house. She found her way around. I made sachets and put some scents in different areas—in the kitchen, near the water dish, near the couch—so she could better find her way around. While the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) was getting worse (she was wandering more, her incontinence was getting worse), it was still relatively easy to manage. She was with me every day, and she loved her routine.

A couple of months ago, Jasmine started to drink water excessively and to urinate more. Her incontinence got significantly worse—she was wetting the pads up to three times a day. We found a local vet and took her in for tests. She had a UTI, but worse, her blood tests suggested she had Cushing’s Syndrome. The Vet suggested we clear up the UTI and then put together a diagnostic plan.

Jasmine had finished the antibiotics for her UTI. She seemed fine. She had two bouts of loose stools, but nothing else. Her incontinence was bad. We had to do one or two loads of laundry every day, washing incontinence pads and blankets from overnight, during the day, and in the evening. But again, this was more inconvenience than a huge issue. We knew we were moving forward with diagnostics and a treatment plan.

Then, it happened. I went out of town to visit a friend, and a day later, Jasmine was greatly lethargic. She was barely eating. Tom took her to the Vet on Monday morning, but they didn’t have anyone ‘in’ that morning. Seriously? They referred us to another Vet, and Tom took her there. She had a raging 105-degree fever. The Vet put her on an IV, gave her IV antibiotics and that reduced her fever. But she was lethargic and wouldn’t eat. Blood tests and an x-ray didn’t show anything diagnostic. The Vet suggested we take her to a 24-hour emergency clinic so she could get round-the-clock care. Tom took her down immediately. In the mean time, her fever had spiked again, she had black diarrhea, and was listless.

She was so sick…so tired

I was able to hustle home the next day, and Tom picked me up from the airport. We went to the emergency clinic so I could see Jasmine. She was ‘better’ according to Tom, but what I saw was an emaciated Jasmine who barely sat up. I held her and she fell asleep in my arms. She did take treats from my hand—a great sign. Her fever was down, and she was improving. She was scheduled to have an ultrasound the next day to see if they could determine the cause of her infection.

The ultrasound could not pinpoint the cause of her infection, but it did show clear signs of Cushing’s Syndrome. She had a highly enlarged Adrenal gland. The doctor guessed that her Cushing’s was caused by a Pituitary tumor, and given her other symptoms, he hypothesized that the tumor could be invading her brain. She’d need an MRI to confirm the diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan, but he thought a potential course of action would be radiation treatments.

However, he still could not explain her infection and black stool (an indication of blood in her upper GI tract). He said she was well enough to go home since she was eating a bit and her fever was down. So, we took her home. The next day, Thursday, she ate a little, drank some water and mostly slept. She still had black stools. She also was alert for a short while. She didn’t seem to have a fever. But there was no improvement.

Friday, she was worse. She was refusing water. She wouldn’t eat. It was a struggle to get her meds down. She wouldn’t take treats. She was barely awake. She didn’t respond to touch, to my voice.

We called the emergency clinic, but they wouldn’t allow us to talk to any Vets without coming in for a ‘recheck.’ We had just paid them over $1600 for 48 hours of care. I was disgusted. We called the other Vet who had taken Jasmine on with no hesitation. The emergency clinic had already transmitted her records back to the Vet, so she went over them and told us, honestly, that even if we took extraordinary measures to get Jasmine over this infection, her prognosis wasn’t good. The test results indicated the Pituitary tumor, and with the totality of her symptoms over these last months, it was a probability that the tumor had invaded her brain.

The Vet said that while we could take measures to extend her life, we also had the choice to humanely end her life. And I told her that we didn’t want Jasmine to suffer. So we brought her into the office an hour later.

The Vet and the techs were supremely kind and careful. They sedated Jasmine so she didn’t feel anything. Jasmine slept peacefully through it all. I cradled her and whispered to her the entire time. I told her what a good girl she was and how much I loved her. And then she was gone.

Yesterday, we got a card from the Vet with her paw print. Today, we went over to pick up her ashes. I’m numb. I keep looking over to where she always cuddled up on the couch, burrowed in her blanket. I look down and think of her little face, excitedly awaiting her “Good Girl” treats. I listen for the tick-tick-tick of her nails on the hardwood floor. I look around to find her. And she’s gone.

Jasmine was with me for over a decade. She brought me joy every day. She connected with me and touched me like no other.

She was mine and I was hers. And she’s gone.

Jasmine

Run free, my little love

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The Vet Across The Street

Our house is in a pretty convenient place.  One of the only area scrapbook stores is across the highway from us as is a highly recommended veterinarian.  Jasmine needed some routine care (Heartworm test, Lyme Disease vaccination, flea/tick/heartworm medication, general look-see), so I made an appointment with the veterinarian across the “street.”  Street is a relative thing…the office is across a 2-lane, 50 MPH highway.  But that’s just semantics, right?  Street, deadly fast highway…same thing.

I had to work today, so Hubby took Jasmine for her check-up.  They (of course) walked across the highway rather than being safe and sensible in a car.  The one and only time I tried to cross, well there were more than a few words said by passing motorists. However, Hubby and Jasmine had no problems and they made it there and back in one piece.

The vet, Dr. Kenneth Schunk, is a board certified veterinary neurologist.  It’s good that we now have a relationship with someone who can treat any future back issues that we might have.  Jasmine is in very good health, is at a good healthy weight and is heartworm negative.  She got her vaccination, and the vet checked out her latest (healing) abscess and told us to watch them and make sure that they don’t get infected.  The vet told us to use Frontline Plus for the tick problems we’ve been having.  While Revolution worked for us in California, there is a greater variety of ticks here in New Hampshire, and I’ve pulled at least five from Jasmine in the last few weeks.  Revolution ONLY works on the American Dog Tick, and we have more varieties around here including the Deer tick–the one that carries Lyme disease.  Since I already found a Deer tick on her, I decided to err on the side of caution and get her protected from Lyme disease.

One hour and a few hundred dollars later, Jasmine had a clean bill of health.  I’m happy that we now have a local vet for her and that she is going to be better prepared for life in New Hampshire.  Now if I could only find a doctor I like…

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Intervertebral Disc Disorder

Jasmine has joined the club of approximately 25% of dachshunds that develop spinal problems–specifically Canine Intervertebral Disc Disorder.  Luckily, she has a mild case and should recover fully.  However, she will always be prone to back issues and we have to be much more vigilant about maintaining her back health.

Yesterday was our move out day.  From 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the movers were here wrapping, lugging and loading the semi truck to take our sum total of belongings to New Hampshire.  We had Jasmine confined to the bedroom so she wouldn’t get underfoot and squished.  After the movers left, we took a walk down to Starbucks, had some coffee and walked back.  On the walk back, Jasmine was unusually sluggish.  When she knows she’s going home, she usually picks up the pace and practially trots home.  At every corner, instead of sitting as she usually does, she just stood.  We had to tell her to sit at every instance, and she did so reluctantly.  After we returned home, she climbed up into my lap but was increasingly agigtated.  She couldn’t get comfortable.  I tried to put her down on the floor and she squealed in pain.

I put her down, and she climbed into her bed.   I thought I had bent a paw or held her wrong when putting her down, thus causing some discomfort.  She seemed okay after that.  Hubby and I went and got some dinner, and when we returned, we got a lukewarm reception from Jasmine.  Instead of bounding out to greet us, she slowly sauntered toward us.  I knew something was wrong.  I gave her a few pets, and her hind quarters siezed up and her tail curled into a pigtail.  I knew something was really wrong.

We fed her dinner, and she lopped it up.  No loss of appetite.  Good.  However, when I tried to pick her up, she yelped in pain again.  And when I took her out to do her business, she couldn’t squat.  Oh no.  I put her into her bed and sent my hubby out for some baby asprin to ease her pain.  We gave her the asprin, but after an hour or so, she seemed to be more agitated and uncomforable.  I called the on-call vet at the clinic, and he told me that I could try to hold out and wait until morning to see them or if she was uncomforable, we could go to the emergency clinic.

I waited for another hour to see if she would settle down, but she seemed to be more uncomfortable.  We bundled her up and took her to the emergency clinic.  The vet was nice, but he wanted to run a slew of tests; I wanted some meds to make her comfortable for the night so we could get her to our regular vet in the morning.  He complied.

Getting her to take the meds, well, that was near impossible.  She wouldn’t take it in cheese, squeezy cheese or in a soft training treat.  I gave up after 30 minutes of trying to disguise it.  She did settle down though enough to get to sleep, so we left it to the morning.

She was up early, and immediately thought of giving her the meds in a chunk of wet food (I guess my brain had addled enough last night that it didn’t occur to me).  I did and I was successful.  She took the meds, ate her breakfast and was much peppier in about an hour.  The meds were doing their job.  The clinic called me first thing in the morning, so I took her in.

Her x-ray looked good–no narrowing of spaces between her vertabrae.  The vet was hopeful that the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, coupled with some muscle relaxants and pain meds would help her relax enough to let the back heal.  Unfortunately, we’re leaving on Wednesday to meet the moving van.  We’ve booked her to kennel at a veterinary clinic so she can get emergency care on site if necessary, but I still don’t feel good about it.  I’m just glad that it wasn’t worse–there was no paralysis or loss of control and all her neurological signs were positive.

She’s resting in her crate where she’ll spend the next few days.  Right next to me, of course.

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False Alarm–Thank Goodness

Sunday morning, Jasmine didn’t eat her breakfast.  Later, she had the beginnings of some tummy problems.  They persisted yesterday to the extent that she soiled the house a couple of times–she obviously couldn’t control it (thank goodness for OxyClean, Nature’s Miracle and Febreeze!).  I was concerned that her whipworms hadn’t been irradicated, and I was not about to let it get as bad as it was last time.

I called the vet and got an appointment for late afternoon.  Jasmine wasn’t acting lethargic or vomiting, but I wanted her checked out nonetheless.  She also had developed a second abscess–this time on the bottom of her left paw–and I felt that it would be best to have her checked out.  Maybe she knew she was going because she gave me another “sample” to take with me.  Yuck.

We got to the vet, and she really freaked out when we were walking in.  The golden retriever in the waiting room must have spooked her because she became a bucking bronco, trying to get away from the office.  I dragged her in and got her situated on my lap.  She calmed down a bit but was still shivering.

The vet I had been seeing, Dr. Kirsten Krick at West Valley Pet Clinc, went on maternity leave and never came back.  So for the past few months, I’ve been seeing the lead vet at the clinic–Dr. Timothy Govers.  I really liked Dr. Krick–she was very kind and gentle.  Dr. Govers is very nice and he obviously knows his stuff.  His exams are very thorough as well.  Every time I bring Jasmine in, regardless of the cause, he gives her a full exam.  I like that.

Dr. Govers spent lots of time examining Jasmine, asked lots of questions, and finally drew some blood and took her sample for evaluation.  He also told me that we were doing the right thing with her abscesses.  The interdigital cysts were probably chronic, and she would take care of them.  If they became infected, we should bring her in; otherwise, they would probably recur over her lifetime.

The doctor then gave us some mild antibiotics for the diarrhea, gave her a nail trim (at my request) and sent us on our way.  The antibiotics have worked to ease her distres and she’s now doing better.  Dr. Govers also called to follow up this morning to check on her and to let us know that her tests came back from the lab–her bloodwork was excellent, and she is negative for all types of parasites.

So, her tummy ache was just that–a tummy ache.  No whipworm.  No horrible disease.  She’s fine.  And while I feel a bit silly and overprotective (and a couple hundred dollars poorer), I’m glad that I’m now SURE that she’s fine.  She’ll have cottage cheese and rice for a few days until all is back to normal.  False alarm.

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Rabies Vaccinations and Invasion of Privacy

I was at the city Animal Services office to renew Jasmine’s dog license and to provide proof of her Rabies vaccination the other day.  Of course, I had to peruse the available doggies…oh they were so cute.  There was a cute little dachshund there, but he was a puppy (bad for Jasmine) and a totally unsocialized stray (even worse for Jasmine), so I didn’t bring him home.  I know we’ll find the right dog sometime…it will just take some time.

When I got home, I coincidentally had an email from the Veterinary clinic where I take Jasmine.  They sent me a note that stated:

“As a courtesy to our clients we want to inform you that the City of San Jose is now requiring us to notify them of Rabies vaccines administered at our clinic.  We are required to send your name, address, phone number and pet’s information to the City of San Jose after we administer a rabies vaccine to your pet.  In the past, the veterinary field has resisted policing Rabies vaccines and the city has not enforced the California State Health and Safety Code that applies to this issue. Recently, however, the city is enforcing the code and requiring veterinarians to comply or risk losing their California Veterinary License.  This change is effective immediately as the city began enforcing State Health and Safety Code 121690 (e) and (h) as of July 1, 2008.”

I have a really big problem with this.  Veterinarians are VERY concerned about turning over this data to the city.  They feel that people might opt to NOT have their animals vaccinated if it means that their information will be turned over to the city.  It’s another reason why people dislike government…let’s just trample all over our right to privacy for the purpose of taxation.  I know…it’s rarely ever that simple, but I’m really uneasy about the larger implications.

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Another Abscess

This weekend, Jasmine started limping. We had the dog sitter come by on Saturday to get further acquainted and to get Jasmine walking with her. We went for a couple of walks, so I thought Jasmine had somehow hurt herself on the walks.

Well, on Monday, she developed an abscess yet again on her left paw. However, this time, she was limping and she wouldn’t let me touch her paw without a struggle. She limped around, and while her abscess popped and began to drain (yeah, icky…I know), she was very protective and somewhat lethargic. I decided to give it a day to see if she would start healing. It wasn’t. Her limp was more pronounced. The abscess was still red and puffy and wasn’t draining.  I called the vet, and got an appointment for this morning.

Of course, she was barely limping this morning and the abscess had gone way down.   I wanted to have her checked out nonetheless. I’m glad I did. Apparently, she had developed another abscess that I had not seen–this time on the bottom of her paw. Poor baby. So now, I have to soak her paw in an antimicrobial and give her antibiotics twice a day. I’m leaving for a business trip on Friday, so hubby will have to take it on.

I feel bad for Jasmine. Apparently, this type of abscess is common in former puppy mill dogs–it’s known as “puppy mill foot.” This is the only time that the abscesses have bothered her, so I’m keeping a close eye on the infection. Oh, I hate to leave my pup when she’s not right!

😦

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Trusting Me to Do What’s Needed

In the last two months, Jasmine has been to the vet for:

  • Initial check up and shots
  • Abscess in her paw, and follow-up visit
  • Abscess in another paw (turned out to be a bee sting)
  • Ear infection, and follow-up visit

I’ve had to do the following:

  • Give liquid antibiotics (she resisted this)
  • Give antibiotic pills (stuffed into cheese, this was easy)
  • Soak and clean her abscess
  • Wrap her paw with a warm compress (hard to have her keep on)
  • Flush her ears with an anti-fungal every two to three days (um, not easy to say the least)
  • Put COLD drops in her ears twice a day (not easy either…who likes cold drops in their ears?)

What amazes me is that Jasmine allows me to do what needs to be done (okay, sometimes there’s a struggle, but we’re past that). With a trusting soul and a few shivers and shakes, she gets through each procedure. She then allows me to pet her…all is forgiven. The trust she has for me…well, I’m really amazed. I know she doesn’t like the procedures, but she continues to submit to them and still like me afterwards. Good doggie.

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Third Time’s a Charm. NOT!

Yes, Jasmine had to go back to the vet again yesterday. Her left paw, which had been infected, has healed really beautifully. There’s no sign of infection at all. However, I noticed this morning that her right paw was all swollen! NOOOOOOOO! I also noticed a distinct musky/yeasty scent coming off of her that I remember from owning dogs in the past–that “ear infection” smell.

So, off to the vet we went. I really like my vet–Dr. Kirsten Krick at the West Valley Pet Clinic. She’s very gentle with Jasmine, and she seems to do what is in the best interest of the dog while taking cost and impact on the dog’s well being into account.

This time, there wasn’t an infection in the paw. Jasmine apparently was the unfortunate recipient of some kind of insect bite or sting. I had a feeling…there have been lots of bees and wasps in the yard, and they’ve also been hovering amongst the clover in the lawn. I think Jasmine might have stepped on one. Jasmine was treated for both the sting and the ear issues (yeast infection in the ear). She has to go back for a check in a week.

While I really like the vet, I wish we wouldn’t have to go so often!

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Love That String Cheese

So, after another expensive trip to the vet ($162), Jasmine is now on a month’s course of antibiotics. Instead of the liquid, the vet recommended we try pills (Jasmine was, um, unreliable with the liquid due to the “spit” factor). I tried the “put it in the back of the tongue and rub the throat” trick that used to work with some of the dogs I had in the past. Nope. Cough. Cough. Spit. Out came the pill. *sigh*

Next up was cheese. Since Jasmine’s favorite cheese (no, she is not a gourmet dog and likes plain old Kraft American cheese) only comes in sheets, I decided to try some string cheese. Bingo! I cut a small hunk off the end, opened a hole in it with my knife, placed the pill in the pocket and mushed up the cheese to completely encase the pill. Gobble. All gone. It worked again this morning.

This is much better than having to wedge her mouth open and squirt vile-tasting liquid into her mouth.

The problem is that TWO vets went probing into her paw again yesterday (she was sedated), and again, they weren’t able to find the foreign body that’s in her paw. It’s frustrating. There must be something in there to make her paw swollen and puss-filled. For now, I’ll keep the compresses going and hope for the best.

The good news is that Jasmie is finally putting on a little weight. She’s now a little over 10 pounds, and her coat is getting softer every day.

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Bad Paw

So, Jasmine’s infected paw was looking great–until a couple of days ago. It’s back to being swollen and red. I’m so bummed. I’ve been feeding her the antibiotics twice a day and using a warm compress to help promote healing as the vet ordered. It was getting better–no redness and swelling, and all of a sudden…poof. 😦 I’m calling the vet first thing tomorrow (Monday) and taking her in. I have a feeling that whatever was in there is still there and is causing the infection to live on.

The good news is that I’m MUCH better at administering the antibiotics. There’s still some struggle, but cheese makes it all better! 🙂

Oh, and on a random note, Jasmine was sleeping on her pillow next to the couch last night. Her tongue was sticking out, and she was snoring. It was just the cutest thing. I couldn’t move and not disturb her, so I didn’t get a picture. That’ll teach me to put the camera across the room!

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