Emmi, the Final Word

The mass in Emmi’s brain can not be removed and we can’t afford the $9 to $11,000 shunt that would save her life IF the mass is the result of Valley Fever.  We can not determine if the mass is a cancer because it’s position makes it too dangerous for Emmi to undergo a spinal tap.  If it is a cancer, chemotherapy would be the treatment of choice, though if it is a non-cancerous mass, chemo would only ‘maybe’ help.

With further investigation by the neurologist, in consultation with others in the veterinary field, it was determined that Emmi can not simultaneously take chemo and Valley Fever treatments as each would negate the effects of the other.

Since brain cancers are very aggressive and chemo is very hard on on the patient, given Emmi’s current state, the unanimous veterinary opinion is not to put her through it.

Brain disseminated Valley Fever cases are the most difficult to treat, but the treatment is not as hard on the patient as chemo.  Valley Fever medications are very slow acting.   IF the mass is related to Valley Fever, treatment may not work, or start to work, in time.  Brain disseminated Valley Fever cases are also the most fatal.

In the end, we’re doing a crap shoot.  Emmi was started back on Fluconazole for Valley Fever.  She is also on prednisone to reduce the brain swelling, as well as a separate medication to counter act the negative effects prednisone has on Emmi as was shown when she was given the drug last year for another problem.  All we can do now is wait and see.  There are no other options.

We could lose Emmi any day now, or a week or month from now, or, if we’re lucky and what I am wishing for, at least 2 years from now.

For now, we have to keep Emmi very quiet for at least a couple weeks.  No running, jumping or anything that would jiggle her swollen brain.  She is much improved from last week with the anti-inflammatory effects of the prednisone, but she is still not as Emmi as she was.


This will be the last sad post about Emmi and her condition until we lose her.  Life has to return to normal for the sake of the other dogs and for our own sake.  Every accommodation will be made for Emmi’s comfort, every vet directive followed to the letter, but we will stop making it All About Emmi from this day forward, though I can promise she will be hugged and cuddled more.

I will end this sad post with some humor for you:

Emmi is not allowed to jump.  Despite her condition, she gets on the couch and we’ve caught her getting ready to jump on the people bed.  Since she can’t be monitored when we’re asleep, and she may try to jump then, the answer is to get rid of the people bed.  Yup – it’s going away.  Any rational person would get rid of civilized sleeping accouterments for the sake of a dog, wouldn’t they?

As luck would have it, Crabby’s camping sleeping mats on the hard floors are actually more comfortable for our aging backs than the people bed mattress anyway.  Bonus, since Emmi sleeps with people, if you put the people on the floor, Emmi has no reason to try to get on [or more dangerously, off] the people bed.

Today we invested in air mattresses and sleeping mats.

Crabby demonstrating the ability to stretch out unencumbered by dogs.  The theory was, if the dogs prefer the people bed, just put all of them, including the little ones up, and we will have plenty of space for us and Emmi.
Theory blown.  Where ever Mom is, dogs are sure to follow.
In the end, the air mattress was relegated to the role of soft landing strip should Emmi try to jump off the couch if we’re not looking.
It’s also a more comfortable sitting space for her minions (us) who usually have to sit on the floor anyway because The Horde never leaves us room on the couches.

Until the people bed is gone, all we have are narrow strips of floor to put our (as in human) sleeping mats.  Surely the more back supportive floor, even if it’s a narrow strip, will afford a more roomy people sleeping space….  Not!

I would never post, for the world to see, a pic of myself sleeping, but this one  taken during a much needed nap was too good to pass up.  Note the width of the mat.  Now note how stretched comfortable and roomy it appears to be for Gracie, Willy and Pablo.  Slug appears quite comfy on his private bed. Gert was stretched out in her preferred warm weather home – the master bathroom.  Emmi’s feet show her also on a private bed.   Something about me being pushed off the mat, onto the floor, squashed against the wall somehow seems so wrong.

I’m sure once we can get rid of the bed, and possibly some other furniture, not only will Emmi be safe, but there will be ample space for humans and dogs to cohabitate peacefully with ALL able to sit and sleep on soft surfaces.  For now though, it’s a work in progress.

But when it’s all said and done, we will have another problem:

If you take away my people bed, I WILL kill you in your sleep!

Happy Homecoming Marcy!

Remember back when Marcy came to live with us?  She was delivered to me, as a foster kid (oh, the irony), in a live trap.  While it was believed she was only a couple of months old, she turned out to be at least 8 months.

Marcy, just before she was trapped.
Marcy, just before she was trapped.

Given she hasn’t grown a bit, other than her sense of entitlement, I think it safe to assume she was at least a year old.

Marcy and me, after we removed her from the trap.  We had to do it in a closed garage lest she escape.
Marcy and me, after we removed her from the trap. We had to do it in a closed garage lest she escape.

A year old, having grown up wild, without human intervention.  In other words, feral like a coyote.  At the time, we didn’t think she could be domesticated.

It seems like just yesterday, but it’s actually been 2 years, this month.  Golly time flies!

Life without the people bed....  to terrible a thought to even consider!
Life without the people bed…. too terrible a thought to even consider!

Marcy has come a long way since she was trapped.  She still has feral tendencies and is easily scared around ‘outsiders’, but I can honestly say she, more than any of the other kids, except for maybe Pablo, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but Run A Muck Ranch.  If Crabby and I were hit by a truck and the kids had to find other homes, the rest, they’d be OK.  Heck, Slugger wouldn’t even notice the change!  Marcy wouldn’t be able to cope.  That’s not pride on my part talking, it’s reality.

Feeling better about life in captivity.
Feeling better about life in captivity.

It isn’t one thing about The Ranch that Marcy loves, it’s the sum of all the parts.  She would be fine without me, or Morty, or the Waggin’ Wagon, or her coyote beau who comes to visit her,  or anything else, assuming only one part was missing. But take away a few things, and Marcy would be significantly damaged.

Marcy at a play date, not of her choosing.
Marcy at a play date, not of her choosing.  She doesn’t like surprises.

This was her home since before she was born, it just took a while to for her to get here.  Sometimes, when I watch Marcy loving her life I wonder if everything in our lives up to February 2013 happened just to prepare for Marcy’s homecoming.

Marcy hating life.
Marcy hating life as a ‘domestic’ dog.

We love you Marcy, even if you did eat a pretty large chunk of the salad that I painstakingly prepared for my dinner tonight.

Thanks again to the folks at Pittie Me Rescue for doing what you do, and making it possible that Marcy could come home, even if I still believe someone did some serious Voodoo conjuring to make us put ourselves in the position to agree to ‘foster’ her.

Organization Run A Muck Ranch Style

Confession time:  When our Beloved Maudie was alive, and we *only* had 13 dogs, though I maintained control, I was hanging from a ledge by the tips of my fingers.

Maude is forever loved.
Maude is forever loved.

Then comes the summer of 2014 when Crabby brought home 2 more wayward mutts, which brought us to the insane number of 14 dogs.   While I might have been able to mentally swing the new #13, #14 was impossible.

With 13, if I were to be hit by a truck, mass chaos at Run A Muck Ranch would result since Crabby only had a rudimentary knowledge of how things worked.    If I were to be hit by a truck now, and with 14, 1 of them not being Maude, the authorities would find Crabby, arms hugging himself while rocking and uttering gibberish in a corner, having lost control of his mental faculties left alone with The Hoard in my absence.  But hey, there’s a reason men can’t be moms, so part of Crabby’s problem is the lack of the second X chromosome (or is it the presence of the Y?).

That said, even I have hit some bumps along the way with 14.   Remembering who gets fed what, who gets what extra on which day, who I walked yesterday… the list goes on. It’s all a blur.

We, and by we I mean Crabby, has found a solution to our mutual mental disabilities in connection with The Hoard:

I give you the Run A Muck Ranch Critter Care White Board.
I give you the Run A Muck Ranch Critter Care White Board.

As you can see, each beastie, including Charlie and Hal, have their own row.

The columns, so far, indicate who gets fed what on a daily basis, as well as who gets what addition to their food ration and on what day.

Columns as labeled so far .
Columns as labeled so far.

It’s still in its infancy stage, but already just knowing how to plan ahead on these few items is more than a little helpful to me.  Previous to The Hoard Board, and because the days grow together for me, I was winging it, not really knowing when I did what, other than the twice a day main food rations.

Just so you know, the SS column is not a reference to Nazi tendencies.  It stands for Something Special, and the numbers represent the weeks of the month.  Each dog must be separated from The Hoard, once a week, for an individual Something Special.  It may be a walk, visiting with a friend, or a drive to the gas station.  As long as it involves 1 dog and 1 parent, the box gets a check.  If for no other reason than guilt – let’s face it, if you were to poll our dogs, other than Marcy, any of them would vote others off The Ranch to reduce the dog to human ratio – seeing empty boxes will cause us to more actively seek out Something Special opportunities for all the dogs.

As far as Charlie and Hal, they, must have 2 check marks per week for the SS requirement to be fulfilled.  Sad but true, it’s harder to give extra attention to outside dwellers than those who live inside.


The often forgotten 2 of Run A Muck Ranch.
The often forgotten 2 of Run A Muck Ranch.


As you can see, there are many more columns yet to be labeled.
As you can see, there are many more columns yet to be labeled, more than can fit in the camera view finder. 

The Board is still a working draft.  There is much more to the workings of Run A Muck Ranch than feeding and Something Special Days with the beasties, pawed or hoofed.  We just haven’t figured out how to efficiently list them yet.

How sad is it that one has to design a white board just to keep up with the critters in residence?


Franky says "We love you, need you and appreciate you Mom!"
Franky says “We love you, need you and appreciate you Mom!”




Poor Droopy Faced Emmi :(

Emmi’s face swelled up today, so off to the ER we went.  Turns out, she had an abscess, poor thing.

The abscess has been drained and flushed, a bravery hamburger administered, and Emmi will be on pain killers for a few days and antibiotics for a week.

Is it possible for anyone to look at this face and not feel her pain?

Poor Emmi.  To make matters worse, she can't go on Sunday Family Desert Walk tomorrow.
Poor Emmi. To make matters worse, she can’t go on Sunday Family Desert Walk tomorrow.

Special Offer From SamDoum Art to Run A Muck Ranch Followers!

I just received an e-mail from Samara, the amazing artist at SamDoum Art with an exclusive offer for Run A Muck Ranch friends!

From Samara:

“I’m currently offering 25% off on all pet portraits for all Run A Muck fans who find me through your website. All they will need to do is click on the pet portrait badge on your blog and that page will direct them to my pet portrait Etsy shop. Then, while completing their order, all they’ll need to do is enter the Promocode  “RUNAMUCK25”. The offer lasts until January 1st, 2015. But it’s a good idea to order as soon as possible in order to ship before the Christmas deadline, for those purchasing as a gift for someone else.”


Run A Muck Ranch's Gracie painted by SamDuom Art.
Run A Muck Ranch’s Gracie painted by SamDuom Art.


The SamDoumArt badge is the first widget below the header on this blog, titled Pet Portraits,  with the Macaw on it – also painted by Samara.



Run A Muck Ranch's Mortimer painted by SamDuom Art
Run A Muck Ranch’s Mortimer painted by SamDuom Art

This is the PERFECT gift for any dog mom, and most dog dads, on your Christmas list!


Hannah, the winner of Run A Muck Ranch's Facebook contest for internationally adopted dogs.
Hannah, the winner of Run A Muck Ranch’s Facebook contest for internationally adopted dogs.




Product Review: Dremel Nail Groomers

With as many beasts as we have, nail trimming isn’t always done on a regular basis.  I’ve been doing some reading on the nail grinders, and like what I’ve read.

Quiet, gentle, easier on the dog, easier on the person and no rough or split edges.

Imagine the possibilities!  If I were to grind the nails of 1 dog every day, our toenails would be as perfect as our dogs!

I tested the Dremel Nail Groomer on DASH! today.

DASH! enjoying a good romp through the mud.  DASH! is the only dog I've ever 'mothered' that I would clone in a heartbeat.   The world needs many more DASH!'s .
DASH! enjoying a good romp through the mud. DASH! is the only dog I’ve ever ‘mothered’ that I would clone in a heartbeat. The world needs many more DASH!’s .

This was the result:


Not sure how well the Dremel works on dog nails, but it can put some serious corn rolls in human hair!

Crabby says I’m not allowed to use it again without the supervision of a responsible adult.

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


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.


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.

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?