Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jared is Finally Well !

Jared, taken today.

        Thank you for the outpouring of interest and concern for Jared.    I suppose it should not surprise me that so many people care about the life of a fourteen year old Siberian Husky.    He was a dog who probably came from a puppy mill, and who lived in a car in his puppyhood.   By almost a year he had been abandoned repeatedly, and was on the schedule to be euthanized at a dog shelter.  Fortunately, my husband felt strongly enough about this injustice that he allowed me to adopt Jared, and come what may, to care for him throughout his lifespan.  The first couple of years were difficult.  Raised in a car Jared didn't eat normal dog food and preferred instead, Wendy's drive-up window.  He also was afraid to be left outdoors and would repeatedly run off to explore. This was a dangerous pasttime living next to a couple of thousand acres of dense forest and the accompanying bears and later we learned, coyotes.  More than once our eldest son had to track Jared when he took off on an annual iditerod like adventure, most often in Winter. In that first year he howled incessantly, and even out here, some of our neighbors complained.

He is as energetic as he ever was, although a bit more obedient now.

                  It's hard to believe that it is now so many years later, and that the comfortable loving and easy going husky we so enjoy is now fourteen years old.  We had not expected him to survive the Erlichia which made him so sick last November.  It took a lot of veterinary input and a lot of work and attention, but he is well.  He has also taken his place as the alpha male in our kennel.

                  When you have a sick animal, even one who is a purebred and doesn't have the mongrel resiliency of our beloved mixed breeds, it can be hard to believe that they can prevail beyond a serious illness. Sometimes, they can, and you are not foolish for believing or for trying.   This time we won.  These are some of the pictures I took today of a fourteen year old Jared being walked by my husband. I think he looks absolutely terrific !

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chocolate Horses

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      Most of the time, having horses is a lot of fun. This is the first time, however, we have had horses through a severe Winter storm with freezing rain and then fourteen inches of snow.  I wasn't really sure whether to leave their entry to the barn open and let them play as the blizzard continued or to feed them early and put them in their stalls with the radio set to classical music, as the snow and ice was loudly hitting the barn's metal roof at intervals.  I chose a compromise.  I let them play in it together until it started to get deep, and then I fed them in their stalls.  They must be fed separately as two of the four will eat the feed of the remaining two more polite horses.  Then, I closed the stalls for the night and went on to care for the other animals. In the past month or so in the cold weather, they all have grown very thick Winter coats. One of the younger ones looks more like a wooly mammoth than a horse !  They also have long fetlock hair (legs) which I am having to brush and trim.

           In the morning there was fourteen inches of white powdery stuff with a half inch crust of ice.  I did notice the ice overhang on the barn roof sides, but in order to open the upper half door of the stalls to let them out to the pasture, I would need to stand under the gutter and all that ice for just a moment. As I did, a large heavy block of ice and snow fell from the tall pitched roof hitting me on the right shoulder and then slicing my hand and index finger through a thin glove.  I let the horses out and proceeded to muck the stalls with vinyl gloves over my cut hand.  Normally, I remove dry horse manure to a wheelbarrow I call the "muck truck". Then I sweep out any urine and pine shavings, which I only use in one corner of the stalls. (Because they don't defecate anywhere else)  The pine shavings are then scooped out and placed in the muck truck also.  Then, every day, I mop the entire concrete stall floor with a small amount of pine cleaner and water.  Since the bucket was frozen solid today, I could not do this.  Instead, I placed a couple of tablespoons of Pinalen on the floor and used a half a shovel full of snow.  I swept it around as it cleaned the surfaces much better than I had anticipated. Then I swept it away, also into the muck truck.  I refilled waters buckets, and gave them all hay despite the fact that some had been left overnight.   I was concerned about how they might behave in the pasture. Horses need to avoid any areas in which they might slip and fracture a leg, as it is most often fatal as it will result in their being euthanized.     I was very surprised to see that they were all quite sure footed in the pasture and that they truly enjoyed the Winter wonderland.   After the cleaning and feeding was done, I went inside to have an oatmeal breakfast and to better investigate my shoulder and my hand.  The shoulder is bruised and the hand is cut and a little swollen. I put Apinol on it, and continued with my busy day.

         This afternoon I returned to the horses early to see how they were doing.  They were eating the snow. Interestingly, the water buckets were at the same levels as they had been after I filled them in the morning. They had flattened a great deal of the snow in their pasture, and were truly enjoying their romp in it.  The alpacas on the other hand, chose to stay inside their stalls and to venture out only to urinate.   By then, the rest of the snow on the barn roof had slid down to the ground, and two of my sons were needed to shovel the snow near the barn exterior stall doors so that I could close them when it was time to put the horses away for the night. As we shoveled and I unburied the muck truck, the smallest horse rolled  as if to itch in the powdery snow.

        Before dark they were all back in their stalls and ready for another quiet night.  I think my shoulder will ache in the morning.  Tomorrow I will check hooves and perhaps place a protectant on them since it's likely to be wet for a couple of days. If the wind picks up, I may place their fly masks on them to protect their eyes.   Still, I enjoy caring for these creatures. They are grateful for everything I do for them. They come when I call them by name, and sometimes they will play with me. I think the best way to spent the early morning and late afternoon is with chocolate horses on Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sometimes, We Can Hold On

Jared, now with muscles, not just fur

  A few posts ago, I mentioned Jared, our beloved red and white Siberian Husky with blue eyes.   As of January of this year, Jared is now fourteen years of age.  He was doing well until about late November, when he stopped eating almost entirely.  Complex testing revealed a positive test for Erlichia, and he was treated with an antibiotic, and became even sicker.  We decided that even if Jared didn't survive this, that we were committed to trying to get him through what seemed to us to be an acute illness.

               With the veterinarians approval we did the following:

    Doxycycline every twelve hours.

    Lactobacillus (human dose) twice a day  (three hours before the antibiotic doses)
     (To help replace and maintain the positive bacteria in the gut which can be destroyed by

    Ranitidine twice daily.   (To keep stomach acid down and diminish the chance of stress ulcers.)

    Metronidazole every twelve hours.  (To decrease colon inflammation and to treat any amount of shigella   ( which is ever present here in the surface water of the farm.)

**    (His glucosamine and chondroitin will have to continue when he is well, and when his stomach is less of a consideration.)

   Then, we offered everything from chicken, chicken dog food, chicken and sweet potatoes, turkey, etc.  We eventually found a few things he would eat for a few days, and then his appetite would change, and we would have to locate something else.  Sometimes, we would make him a hamburger.

    Eventually, the antibiotic was completed, but the diarrhea continued.    Since his labwork showed a low sodium, we salted his food.  We continued the ranitidine and the lactobacillus acidophilus and added acidophilus bifidus also.   Later, we also tried some other preparations of lactobacillus, including lactinex granules which have to be stored in the refrigerator.

      The vet was careful to explain that even though Jared was still alive, that he remained thin, and at fourteen, was very likely to pass from this illness.   Some days we had to give Jared his medication through a plastic feeding syringe (without a needle) I was careful to keep fluids out of his lungs.   Even though we realized that Jared was gravely ill, he remained cooperative.  We covered our laundry room floor in chux every night and would bring him in from the kennel to sleep each night, mostly because colon repair takes place during sleep, and we thought that he would probably sleep more deeply inside, especially in the cold.

      It took seven weeks of fairly intensive effort and expense, but Jared appears well.  There is no more diarrhea.  He is eating a moderate amount of the appropriate dog food twice daily.  He is gradually putting on weight.  His muscles are returning and as I let him out of the laundry room each morning and run him to the kennel, he drags me, and I have to work hard not to have an injured shoulder.

      We can't always save every elderly beloved dog who finds his way into our hearts, but sometimes we can.  I realize that Jared is on borrowed time, but, aren't we all ?  Daniel would be so pleased that Jared will have some extra time on Earth.  He will have him soon enough.    I am going to make these remaining days of his, memorable and special for Jared, and for the rest of us.

Prior posts concerning Jared: