I am embarrassed to say I have no idea how long Hector has been with us. Maybe 5 years? What I do remember clearly is that fateful evening; e-collar clad foster Hector (after Cherry Eye surgery), laying on his back, happily being tickled by Crabby. During that little interaction, Crabby proclaimed, “He’s not going anywhere!”.
And so it came to pass that we officially backed out of “Rescue”. Hector would become #7. Only insane people would have more, even on a temporary (foster) basis. Oh, the irony! Even more ironic was a previous threat by Crabby, that if we took one more permanent dog at The Ranch, our relationship was over.
In all this time, Hector has never had a bad day, a sick day, or a day when he was off, even just a little, and he’s always been a good eater.
Hector was switched from commercial kibble to a home prepared diet approximately 7 months ago.
The immediate, subjective observations were:
1. Golly his coat got silky!
2. Where he was buff before, Hector is ripped now. Kind of like the difference between a muscle man and the sinewy guys in the movie 300. Less bulk, but still a good weight and healthy.
Unlike DASH!, who had some ongoing systemic and personality issues, Hector has always been healthy and confident. For that reason, subjectively, there really wasn’t much to improve on!
What about objectively?
OK, so this is where I have to give some shout outs and apologies:
First, to the poor individual at the vet’s office who e-mailed the report: I have a tendency to freak first, ask for forgiveness later. It was the perfect storm: 1) I didn’t completely understand what I was seeing and 2) y’all were then closed for the weekend. My frantic posts and contacts, asking people to tell me how long my boy had to live, just might have been discovered by your boss. You did the right thing in sending the results. I did the wrong thing in ass-u-me-ing the worst when it was me who said no need for anyone to call and discuss unless something was wrong. Since there was nothing wrong, there was no call. My bad, not yours!
Second, to Laura at Grimm’s Furry Tail, a vet tech with a long career and Ray, a similarly employed tech, who both talked me back in from the ledge when I assumed the worst from my erroneous interpretation of the lab results.
To the Report:
The BUN/Creatinine ratio is irrelevant (and not an indication that Hector’s kidneys were shutting down, as I thought) since the 2 separate elements are within normal range.
The high Lymphocytes and low Neutrophils are similarly irrelevant (and not an indication that Hector had cancer, as I thought) since the absolute values are within normal range. I can’t remember who said it, but one of the people ‘in the know’ stated that the second reading, separate from ‘absolute’, really didn’t have any real purpose other than to freak out people like me. I guess lab workers need their fun too.
OK, so there was one tweak – the off the charts Amylase (and my panic that Hector was in early stage Pancreatitis). Absent other abnormal levels, there are many reasons Amylase could be high that didn’t end in Hector’s demise, stress being one of them. Happens the day Hector had his blood drawn was the very same day Vito had his second Liver Panel done. Vito had to stay at the vet’s for a few hours. I sent Hector with him for moral support. His blood was not drawn until just before I picked the boys up. Hector has never seen the inside of a cage, never been restricted, never been away from home, for years. I think we can all agree, a few hours in a cage, even if it was with Vito, was a stressful situation.
When Hector was in for a short visit – to have his stitches removed, we re-ran his Amylase. The result: Normal.
As I said before, Hector has never been sick a day in his life with us. For that reason, I don’t have a blood panel available from when he was on commercial kibble. Subjectively, he did fine on commercial. But with commercial comes the potential for recalls. It was a recall that took our beloved Arrrmando (the second ‘r’ is silent) from us and caused me to change how I feed the kids (mix and rotate foods). Additionally, though the commercial food did not cause Vito’s obstruction last year, that it passed through his system completely undigested (see The Story) made me become completely distrustful of any commercial food.
Hector’s blood work proves I can keep him healthy on a home prepared diet. That I can control the ingredients and the preparation means it is me, and not some underpaid stranger, who controls quality and safety.
I beg you reader, be very careful if you are on the fence about switching your own critters to home prepared diets: If done wrong, it can outright kill a cat. For dogs, it’s not as simple as throwing some hamburger and carrots in a bowl and calling it good. There are many books and Internet recipes available, but be wary: If the recipe calls for a pinch of this or a sprig of that – it really isn’t a balanced recipe for a dog. I mean really, when have you ever heard a dog complain about food because it needs more oregano? If the recipe sounds like something you would eat – definitely don’t feed it to your dog!