The Effects of Home Made Diet on the Run A Muck Ranch Dogs: Gracie at 15 Months

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A freak first ask forgiveness later incident happened involving Gracie Friday night, and we spent some time at the vet.  Gracie was and remains fine.

I on the other hand really need to stop seeing fatal diseases around every corner.  As long as we were at the vet, may as well make it worth it, so a blood test was ordered to see how Gracie is doing on the home made diet plan.  Gracie has been on the plan for 15 months and this is her second blood test.  This time, we ran a urinalysis as well.

   [Gracie's Blood Results]

Humor me!  Actually click on the link to see what we found!

The elevated Creatinine doesn’t concern me since everything else was within normal limits.  Gracie was gassy – probably from scarfing her way late dinner – possibly from eating something that didn’t agree with her in the back yard that morning – who knows.  If she was bloated with gas most of the day, she might not have drunk as much as she should have, especially when the temperature had risen to the un-holy measure of 88 degrees.  Remember, none of the Run A Muck Ranch dogs can survive in temperatures above 82 degrees, and we have the electric bills to prove it!  Nothing like a little dehydration to elevate the Creatinine levels from time to time.

Other than that one measure, Gracie is straight A’s within normal ranges for everything.

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To date, no vet, not even the “nutritional specialists” I have actively sought out and paid for consultations, has asked me what I feed my dogs.    The constant recommendation from the ‘specialists’ is that I change all the dogs back to a commercial diet.  Any commercial diet, they say, would be better than a home made diet.

Am I stupid?  You be the judge:

AAFCO, which writes the guidelines on commercial dog food, has 3 ways to bring a dog food to market  (overly simplified descriptions):

1.   The proposed food may be analyzed by a laboratory.  If the nutrient content meets the minimum requirements set forth by AAFCO, the food is considered adequate.   Digestibility or useability of the nutrients are not guaranteed.  As long as the correct molecules are present, you’re good to go.

2.  A list of ingredients for the proposed food is imputed into a computer program. If the combination of ingredients meet the minimum requirements set forth by AAFCO, the food is considered adequate.  It is possible this way to produce food that has little or no nutritional value, i.e. it is possible to meet the ‘protein requirement’ with plant material alone and be considered adequate.  However, there is no guarantee that all essential amino acids are provided.  The food does not have to be analyzed in a laboratory, or fed to a single dog, to pass muster.

3.  8 dogs start, but only 6 need finish, a 26 week feeding trial.  At the end of the feeding trial, hemoglobin, packed cell volume, Alk Phos and serum albumin are tested.  If those blood parameters are within normal range, and the dogs in the trial have not lost more than 15% body weight since the beginning of the trial, the food is declared adequate.

There is actually a 4th way available to manufacturers of several foods, but isn’t relevant since the original food had to pass one of the 3 tests described.

Gracie's desert find is NOT on the diet plan!
Gracie’s desert find is NOT on the diet plan!

Morty, Willy and Slugger are only on a taste of home made with the bulk of their meals being commercial due to cost and cooking time issues.  That leaves 11 Run A Muck Ranch dogs being fed the diet plan solely.  9 have been maintained for longer than AAFCO’s 26 weeks (Pablo and Gertie are recent residents and not included in the dog count which exceeds AAFCO protocols – at least for now).  Blood tests are ongoing, and I check a whole lot more than the 4 parameters required and accepted by the experts.  OK, so I don’t test every dog each time, but every dog is tested and tests are repeated for each dog.

To date, there have been no health issues that can be linked to nutrition.  Remember, when Vito started having his seizures, I immediately bared my wrists, both to the regular vet and to the ultrasound vet, offering up diet as a cause.  Neither would bite.  Ultimately, it was verified diet was not a factor.

Will I convert back to commercial, any commercial?  Nope!  Until I have a veterinary nutritional expert, heck, just any vet for that matter, actually ask me what I feed (none have, believe it or not), and tells me specifically what is wrong with it, I will stay with what I’m doing, with the ultimate goal of getting the ‘neglected 3′ (Morty, Willy and Slugger) on the plan as well.

More Fun Times at the Waterhole

Franky (left), Morty (top) and Slugger (bottom) on Sunday Family Desert Walk this morning.  We took Franky hoping he could keep the walk respectable.  Things don’t always work out as we would hope :)

 

Note Franky's look of pure disgust at the shemanegans.
What do you think was going through Franky’s mind at that particular moment?

 

 

Sports Bras: Not Just For Athletes

Sarah got a pretty bad cut on her ‘good’ front leg late Tuesday afternoon.  Not bad enough for stitches, and we already had Tramadol at home, so we decided to hold off on going to the ER, instead deciding to see how she was the next day to determine if she needed to go to the day vet.

Despite being superficial, the cut was very painful, meaning Sarah didn’t want to put weight on the leg.  Remember, Sarah already has a bad front leg.  With the good leg injured, Sarah couldn’t walk at all.  Every attempt at a step ended with a face plant.  Though I steadied her with her collar, it seemed like all I was doing was insisting she stand while choking her.

Somewhere in the sleepless night, my already scattered brain came up with an idea:

Yes, Sarah is wearing one of my sports bras.
Yes, Sarah is wearing one of my sports bras.
Mock me all you want, but whenever Sarah couldn't get up or was unsteady on her feet, I  was able to stablize her.
Mock me all you want, but whenever Sarah couldn’t get up or was unsteady on her feet, I was able to stabilize her.
Sarah weighs about 72 pounds.  I can't explain the physics of it, but I was able to support most of her front end weight, with one hand.   You can  see the stretch in the bra as I stopped her from falling.  Neither Sarah nor I suffered any strain.  I expected to have to 2 hand hold her, but it wasn't necessary.  I'm sure there's an engineering calculation to explain it, but I'm not smart enough to figure it out.
Sarah weighs about 72 pounds. I can’t explain the physics of it, but I was able to support most of her front end weight with one hand. You can see the stretch in the bra as I stopped her from falling here. Neither Sarah nor I suffered any strain. I expected to have to 2 hand hold her, but it wasn’t necessary. I’m sure there’s an engineering calculation to explain it, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out.  The ‘apparatus’ worked ergonomically well for both of us.

Don’t you just love my festive jammie drawers?  But I digress…

Sarah went 12 hours without peeing, a pretty long stretch for her.  I couldn’t support her enough so she could “get into position” with the collar alone.   But, with the sports bra, I was able to hold her front end up so she could get Sweet Relief the morning after her injury, surprisingly without using much muscle on my part.

I tried the bra in the “boobs down” position, but it didn’t work very well.  “Boobs up” and I was able to support Sarah so she could both urinate and defecate, without choking her.  That she had no problem doing her ‘business’ indicates to me the ‘apparatus’ was comfortable enough for her.

I wouldn’t think a regular bra, with its metal and plastic parts and thinner bands would work so well.  Sports bras are  soft, with continuous fabrics or soft seams – nothing to pinch, poke or bind.

Sarah’s life revolves around eating, her favorite bedroom dog bed, and the north side couch arm.  Getting her to rest her hurt leg was never an issue.  Getting her to move around, and most importantly, relieve herself, were.  It appears we solved the problem!

Sarah needed support the whole day Wednesday, but by Thursday, she was stable on the injured leg.   Despite her improving stability, she insisted then, and still does to a point now,  that either I or Crabby must escort and support her whenever she goes outside for a bathroom break, when she wants on or off the couch, or when she just wants  pity attention.   She’s still wearing the bra though she doesn’t need it.  It’s more my worry that she’ll take a bad step and the pain will come back.

Should I mention that despite Sarah being sound, at least for Sarah, I feel I still must help her with the step out the back door? Are you surprised in the least that Sarah is starting to hesitate at the door until her personal escort arrives? What kind of a monster am I creating!!

Moral of the story:  The next time you have a dog who is front end compromised, look no further than a lady’s  underwear drawer!

How to Destroy a Noble Beast

Gertie has become quite couch savvy.  It’s gotten to the point where, after the last pee of the morning before work, she takes her rightful place on the south arm of the couch, and remains there for the rest of the day.

 

Gertie taking advantage of the couch, in this instance, the south side.  She soon learned that particular piece of real estate was claimed in perpetuity, by Sarah.
Gertie taking advantage of the couch, in this instance, the north side. She soon learned that particular piece of real estate was claimed, in perpetuity, by Sarah.

 

There’s only one problem with the situation:  Morty had previously staked a claim to the south side of the couch.

 

Life on the couch... it doesn't get better than this!
Life on the couch… it doesn’t get better than this!

 

Morty happens to be a peace-loving guy, so he didn’t fight Gertie when she did the hostile take over.   Instead, he resigned himself to his fate:  being forced to seek out other accommodations.

Crabby and I were discussing Gertie’s eviction of Morty from his ‘spot’ the other day.  In response to my comment about how Gertie has really made herself at home, in a most defensive manner, Crabby said “Yeah, but now poor Morty has to sleep on the bed!”

The bed of which Crabby spoke:  We’re not talking about a lowly blanket on the floor, or even a dog bed.  The horrible place Morty must now suffer his days – is the people bed.

 

 

Morty clearly hating life when banished to the people bed.
Morty clearly hating life when banished to the people bed.

 

 

Remember if you will that Morty presented himself in our driveway, after living for who knows how long on the desert on his own.  His reluctance to cross the threshold to our house supports the theory that even before he found himself alone, he had never been allowed inside a house.  His ability to take care of himself in harsh conditions made him the most resourceful of all dogs ever taking up residence at Run A Muck Ranch.  Given that history, one could come to the logical conclusion that Morty was a hardened and noble beast, able to make do with whatever accommodation were offered.

 

The Noble Beast
The Noble Beast, at home in the wilderness.  

 

One would be wrong.

 

Morty's current idea of roughing it.
Morty’s current idea of roughing it.

It used to be we thought, in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, Morty, out of all the dogs, would be OK.

Now, were not so sure.

Where did we go wrong?

Because I Never Pass Up a Chance to humiliate one of my kids

My computer memory runneth over and I’m going through old stuff to see what I can delete.

I completely forgot about this little incident, recorded on Christmas day 2013, a day or two after the baby gate was installed between the kitchen and back hallway.

Vito was convinced crossing the floor bar would result in his immediate demise.  It took nearly a week before he would go from kitchen to hallway, or the reverse, on his own.

 

 

Despite this chink in his armor, we still hold Vito up as our Lord and Protector.

 

Woo Hoo! T’is the Season!

The temperatures have fallen, making the mornings cooler.  Sunday Family Desert Walk Season has officially begun!   As you can see by the portlyness of Hector's posterior, it didn't come soon enough!
The temperatures have fallen, making the mornings cooler. Sunday Family Desert Walk Season has officially begun!
As you can see by the portliness of Hector’s posterior, it didn’t come soon enough!

 

As an added bonus, with all the rain we got, the water holes are all full!  Maybe we can get enough Crazy Wet  Emmi Faces to make a calendar!

 

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Bad News About Gertie

In the furtherance of acting on my ‘irrational hunch” I shaved Gertie again.  This haircut is only marginally better than last time.    You will not be seeing her in her long, flowing locks anytime soon.  That’s pretty bad news if you ask me!

I shaved her again.  Sorry about the bad lighting, but you get the gist.
Sorry about the bad lighting, but you get the gist.  How long can one dog be forced to sport bad hair cuts????
Though my dog grooming skills has not improved, Gertie doesn't seem to mind.
Though my dog grooming skills have not improved, Gertie doesn’t seem to mind.

Gertie is giving us all indications that she swallowed a bad lizard or something over the weekend.  She is bouncy (for Gertie that is) and eating fine.

Right now, this very moment, I am significantly peeved about the vet visit on Sunday.  Had I followed directions to the letter, we would have had an ultrasound and lab fees, not including a biopsy if one was needed, in the range of $750 – $800 total.   Let’s not even go to the place where the “C” word was repeated and the possible need to euthanize discussed.    I can’t help but wonder if others, in the same position, given the same dismal prognosis, would have put their dog down!

All bitterness aside, there were some anomalies I alluded to, said anomalies I wouldn’t have known about had I not gone to the vet that day.   I’m still working on an irrational hunch concerning those issues as, though not as serious as the “C” word, they can effect quality of life.

I’m going to try to get copies of the x-rays to post to see if anyone else sees what I saw, what I will call Anomaly #1.  I will discuss Anomalies #2, 3 and 4 if I see changes in Gertie based on my “irrational hunch”.   No point in saying anything now as it could very well be I’ve just got too much on my plate and the brain isn’t functioning properly.

As you can see from Gertie’s expression in the pics, she’s perfectly content with her quality of life right now :)  Let’s see how she feels about it after the bath she’s going to get in a few minutes.

News About Gertie

Beautiful Gertie wasn't feeling very well.
Beautiful Gertie wasn’t feeling very well.

Without getting into too many details, Gertie was at the vet today for GI issues.  A physical was done and x-rays taken.

The vet threw out the “C” word as a potential diagnoses and recommended an ultrasound.

It took a couple months, but Gertie finally learned the benefits of the couch.
It took a couple months, but Gertie finally learned the benefits of the couch.

Given Gertie’s age and physical condition, she is not a very good candidate for invasive abdominal surgery, the treatment if a tumor exists, be it benign or malignant.

Yup, Gertie has become quite accustomed to the accomodations.
Yup, Gertie has become quite accustomed to the accommodations.

This news leaves us with only one option:

Today Gertie got her promise that Run A Muck Ranch is her forever home.

Gertie even has someone to cuddle up to.
Gertie even has someone to cuddle up to.

Our mission is to keep Gertie happy and comfortable for as long as she’ll let us.

Hey Mom, if this is a permanent arrangment, we're going to have to lay down some rules.  Let's start with you not  chasing me around with a camera when I'm trying to get my nap on!
Hey Mom, if this is a permanent arrangement, we’re going to have to lay down some rules. Let’s start with you not chasing me around with a camera when I’m trying to get my nap on!

We are very blessed that the stars aligned to bring Gertie to us.

PS: There were some, shall we say, ‘things’ about Gertie discovered in today’s visit that have my mind spinning right now.  I dared not voice my thoughts out loud to the vet lest I get the “eye roll”.  Cross fingers that this ‘irrational’ hunch pans out and that Gertie will not only be better, but thrive.   I may be wrong, but there’s always hope, right?

We Built A Horsetress

We didn’t build a fortress, we built a horsetress.

Yup, we walled the stalls!
Yup, we walled the stalls!
DASH! is sure he can find a way in somehow!
DASH! is sure he can find a way in somewhere!
Gracie trying to create an entrance.  She was sorely disappointed.
Gracie trying to create an entrance. She was sorely disappointed.
Where the outer perimeter is walled up, the separator bars are open so Hal and Charlie can be close.
Where the outer perimeter is walled up, the separator bars are open so Hal and Charlie can be close.

Charlie has a message for Morty, who is the reason we had to do this:

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The fans installed for mosquito control will help maintain circulation.  We’re also going to drill some 3″ holes for cross ventilation.

We really hated to do this, but despite never letting Morty out unless a) he’s tied up. or b) one of us is there to watch him, he bit Charlie again.    All it took was a blocked view for a few seconds.

With the new Horstress, Hal and Charlie will be brought in whenever the dogs are out, and when the dogs are inside, the horses will be loose.  Yes, it will be a pain in the butt since the dogs go out several times a day, but it’s all about priorities.  Hal and Charlie are just as important as any of the dogs and it is our responsibility to keep them safe.  Morty is family.  Irritating family is still family, you don’t throw them away.

See, it’s not all hummingbirds, butterflies and Slugger farts and Run A Muck Ranch.  We get trials and tribulations too!

Horses/Morty Separator Attempt #8:  This one has to work longer than the rest!