P̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ Hound Cake

I made this pound hound cake for Margarita’s 2 Years in Remission celebration!

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
    • good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant-based nutrients including Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin E, copper, iron, manganese and selenium, also high in fiber and carbohydrates.
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened organic carob powder
    • great source of fiber and pectin, helping to eliminate toxins, improves digestion
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
    • healthy coat, improved skin, immunity booster, can improve cardiovascular, joint, & digestive health
  • 1 cup organic honey
    • antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, reduces inflammation, soothes irritated throats from kennel cough, and can help with allergies
  • 4 organic large egg whites
    • packed with protein, rich in essential amino and fatty acids, full of vitamins – including A and B12, folate, iron, selenium, and riboflavin all which aid in improved skin and coat health as well as stronger teeth and bones
  • 1 cup organic non-fat Greek yogurt
    • high in protein, good source of calcium, full of probiotics (good for digestive system)
  • 1tsp organic pure vanilla extract
  • organic non-stick cooking spray (I used organic coconut oil spray)

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 ℉
  • spray pan 8 or 9 inch round or Bundt pan (I used the cancer ribbon pan since I made this cake for Rita’s 2-Years-in-Remission celebration) with organic non-stick cooking spray (I like to use coconut oil spray) and dust with flour
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, carob powder, and baking powder.
  • In a large bowl, mix oil and honey using an electric mixer
  • Add egg whites, one at a time, continuing to mix
  • Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix until combined thoroughly
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing until smooth
  • Spread the batter evenly in your cake pan
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes – or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
  • Remove from pan and cool to room temperature before serving to your pup

Should last up to 3 days in an air-tight container. You can also freeze up to 2 months (but please thaw before you serve to your pup)

2 Years in Remission: Gratitude is the Best Attitude

“Through the eyes of gratitude, everything is a miracle” ~Mary Davis

Two years ago Rita was diagnosed with stage 4 sub-stage A Large B-cell lymphoma. If left untreated, she was given 1-2 months to live. Two years ago on this day, Rita began the CHOP-based chemo protocol. Her oncologist said with this treatment Rita would hopefully survive 12-18 months. However, with her existing intestinal and liver diseases, it was uncertain she would even make it through her 16-week chemo plan.

Chemo produces remission in 80-90% of dogs, with the remission period typically lasting 6-9 months. Healthy dogs that do well typically have an average survival time of 12-14 months. Dogs that have underlying health issues (as Rita did) or have involvement of organs other than the lymph nodes (as Rita did) generally have shorter survival times. Despite the fact that Rita’s other health intestinal and liver diseases gave her a lesser chance than most, Rita not only made it through her chemo treatments, but she also defied the odds and reached every remission milestone following her CHOP protocol that research said she most likely wouldn’t: 6 months, 12 months, 18 months…and today…TWO YEARS!

Margarita at 2 years in remission from Stage 4 Lymphoma. The lime green balloons are for lymphoma awareness, and the 2 pink balloons represent Rita’s remission years. The scar under her right eye is from a growth that was removed.

I made a cake for Rita’s 2-Year-Remission Celebration! Click HERE for the recipe.


“The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Through this unplanned journey, the most important lesson I learned was that gratitude is the best attitude. An attitude of gratitude forces you to focus on the bigger picture. It turns chaotic worrisome thoughts into calm, orderly actions. Even on days that may seem awful, find the silver lining and give thanks for what IS going right that day.

It is normal to be sad and grieve when you receive a cancer diagnosis for your fur-kid. However, keep in mind that YOU are the most important part of your dog’s journey. Negativity does nothing for your emotional or mental well being, and it certainly doesn’t help your dog. Dogs are intuitive – they sense your mood before you even realize how you are feeling or acting. Your mindset can be your best friend’s …well … “best friend”… or their worst enemy. Keeping positive and being grateful will help your pup feel happy and secure. For a pack animal, that security is key for their happiness and overall well-being.

But HOW do you bring gratitude into your attitude…especially during a time like this?

  1. Journal your gratitude. Although my initial intention was to celebrate Margarita during her journey, this section of the blog has essentially also been my Gratitude Journal. Documenting the special treats, gifts, and activities that Rita enjoyed along her journey helped me realize that the little things mean A LOT, and I should be grateful that I had the opportunity see Rita delight in all the positivity. Keeping a journal (blog) helped me to focus on the good – the positive. I love that I am able to revisit Margarita’s Journey and relive the happy memories of the new experiences and adventures that came about along the way.
  2. Celebrate your gratitude. Be thankful for the small things… even the the most minuscule things. Everyone likes a big win, right? But if you don’t slow down and acknowledge the little achievements, you will quickly lose focus. This type of journey isn’t only about the end goal, but what you make of it for you and your pup along the way. Ideally, chemo will help put your dog into remission for as long as possible. However, the reality is you truly don’t know how long you’ll have with your fur-kid. Take the time to find fun things for you and your pup to do together. Watching your best friend have fun will be a gratifying experience. Remember that your pup doesn’t KNOW they have cancer…instead they happily continue on, living life in the moment despite the fact they may not feel 100%. Take note of that and celebrate…every…little…thing.
  3. Express your gratitude. …Not only to your dog (yes – your dog – – after all, they are a precious gift in life!) – but to all those who walk alongside you and your pup during the journey. Your dog’s veterinarian, oncologist, veterinarian technicians and nurses, family, friends….Thank them!!! It costs $0.00 and only a few seconds to show your appreciation…and there are many ways to say thank you. Say it in person, or send a text/email/private message/card, give a small gift… whatever way you choose – SHOW them your gratitude! Tell them how much you appreciate what they have done for the well-being of you and your best friend. Then – pay it forward… uplift, inspire, and help someone else in need. You don’t have to go crazy or spend any money – just a simple message could be exactly what someone needs as they set out on a similar journey with their pup. A simple act of kindness can make someone’s day, and even change their entire outlook. I can’t tell you enough how much Margarita’s Journey – something thought to be so awful – brought so much positivity and love into my life, thanks to others’ support, prayers, and kindness. I was overwhelmed with an outpour of generosity, and thoughtful gestures from friends, family – and even strangers. I hope that I can pay it forward to as many people as PAWsible.

Have you thanked your pup yet?!


The Past 6 Months

Primary Veterinarian

12/24/2020: Margarita visited Dr. Campbell at Old York Veterinary Hospital for her routine annual exam. Blood work showed elevated liver values. A recheck of blood work was scheduled.

Abdominal Ultrasound Check-up

1/7/2021: Abdominal Ultrasound with Dr. Sandy MacLeod at Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital

Over all, Margarita’s abdominal ultrasound showed mild liver enlargement with a few small faint nodules consistent with benign vacuolar change and nodular hyperplasia. There were no additional abnormalities in the abdomen. Dr. MacLeod recommended a recheck with Rita’s Internal Medicine team to discuss the increased liver enzymes on her recent lab work, and a 6 month recheck abdominal ultrasound to monitor for recurrence of lymphoma.

  • Liver: Mildly enlarged, few small faint hypo-echoic nodules in the left liver lobes measuring 5mm-2cm, similar to previous exams.
  • Gallbladder and Biliary Tree: No abnormalities identified.
  • Spleen: Absent.
  • Kidneys: No abnormalities identified.
  • Adrenal Glands: No abnormalities identified.
  • Urinary Bladder: No abnormalities identified.
  • Stomach: No abnormalities identified.
  • Intestines: No abnormalities identified.
  • Colon: No abnormalities identified.
  • Pancreas: No abnormalities identified.
  • Peritoneum: No abnormalities identified.
  • Mesentery: No abnormalities identified.
  • Lymph Nodes:No abnormalities identified.

Primary Veterinarian blood work re-check

1/28/21: Dr. Campbell did blood work to recheck Rita’s liver values. Results displayed that the values increased even more. An abdominal ultrasound was scheduled.

Cardiology Check-up

February 2, 2021: Margarita’s cardiologist, Dr. Bossbaly, did a routine echocardiogram and reported that her heart showed improvement! Her chemo-induced Dilated Cardiomyopathy is stable on her current medication. Margarita does not have to have another echocardiogram until January 2022! Dr. Bossbaly also confirmed that Margarita was healthy enough to undergo her liver biopsy.

Laparoscopic Liver Biopsy and Facial Growth

By the time we made the liver biopsy appointment with Dr. Chapman at Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital (formerly VSEC), a strange growth appeared under Rita’s right eye, and grew at a rapid pace. Luckily Dr. Chapman was able to have Dr. Lauren Deahl, one of Blue Pearl’s surgeons, remove and biopsy her facial growth during her laparoscopic liver biopsy.

The findings of biopsies showed no evidence of Lymphoma in the liver, and only benign tissue in the facial growth! To say I was grateful was an understatement.

Margarita with Internal Medicine Specialist, Dr. Peter Chapman, and Internal Medicine Veterinary Technician, Carina Rosario-Fleishman at Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital after her biopsy procedures

Birthday Celebration!

Margarita celebrated her 11th Birthday this month as well! Each day with Rita is a blessing, but being able to observe a big milestone such as this is was a definitely a reason to be grateful! I hold on to the faith and hope that Margarita will continue to beat the odds and celebrate many more birthdays.

Brian and I have strictly followed Covid Quarantine restrictions and social distancing guidelines, so we weren’t able to do too much this past 6 months. However, as Covid restrictions continue to be lifted, and it is deemed safe to do so, I intend to work toward the completion of Margarita’s Adventure List (she only has two adventures left to complete her list)!

Thank you to ALL of Margarita’s medical staff, our family, friends (old and new) and followers…Rita could not have achieved this without each and every one of you! Stay safe and healthy – – and remember … Be grateful for every day you are gifted with the love of your pup!

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 3 organic bell peppers, tops and cores/seeds removed
    • rich in vitamins A, E, B6, and lutein and are great sources of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which are antioxidants which promote a healthy immune system
  • 1 pound organic lean ground beef, fully cooked/browned in skillet
    • Rich in essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins
  • 3 cups organic quinoa, cooked according to directions on package
    • great source of antioxidants. Quinoa also contains B-vitamins such as riboflavin and folate and minerals such as magnesium and iron
  • fresh organic parsley
    • rich in vitamins A, C, and K: Supports the immune system, promotes good vision, maintains healthy blood clotting, promotes liver health and has anti-inflammatory properties
  • organic shredded low fat cheese
    • contains protein, calcium, vitamin A, essential fatty acids, and B-complex vitamins

Directions

  • preheat oven to 450 ℉
  • mix cooked ground beef and cooked quinoa together
  • spoon mixture equally into peppers
  • top with shredded cheese
  • bake until peppers are tender
  • sprinkle with parsley

Blackberry Chicken Millet Squares

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless, skinless organic chicken breast, boiled (***save broth from boiling)
    • Good source of Omega 6 fatty acids which are good for the skin and coat, essential amino acids and glucosamine for healthy bones
  • 1/4 cup fresh organic blackberries
    • Loaded with antioxidants to fight free radicals, and also have plenty of fiber and vitamins
  • 2 1/2 cups organic millet flour
    • Healthy carbohydrate high in phosphorus, B-vitamins, and iron. Phosphorus is essential for healthy bones, and iron maintains energy levels and overall health
  • 1 Tablespoon organic extra virgin coconut oil
    • MCTs in coconut oil can aid in digestion and improve brain energy and mental function
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground turmeric
    • Antioxidant that boosts the immune system
  • 2 cups of chicken broth from the boiled chicken above
    • Using the broth created from the water you boiled the chicken in is safer for dogs because unlike store-bought chicken broth it will be free of unhealthy and harmful ingredients such as salt, onion, and other additives

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350℉
  • line cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth
  • Pour mixture onto the parchment paper and using a spatula, smooth mixture until it is about 1/4 inch thick
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove cookie sheet. At this point the mixture should be formed enough to cut. Using a pizza cutter, cut into squares
  • Return cookie sheet to oven and cook another 15-25 minutes (depending on how crunchy your pup likes his/her treats
  • Turn off oven and let squares sit inside oven until the oven completely cools (or remove and set squares on a cooling rack for less-crunchy treats)

Treats should last about 2 weeks in a container in the refrigerator, or you can freeze them (Ours never last that long before they are all gone!)

🦴BONE appetit! 🐾

11 Years Old

Today is Señorita Margarita’s 11th(-ish) birthday… We chose this day to mark her birthday because it also marks the date 5 years ago when we met “Penelope/Penny” and brought her home as a foster.

Big Poppa cooked an amazing bacon, sausage, egg, and pancake breakfast for Sweet Reet.

For her birthday dinner, we did a little something different this year… a dog-friendly charcuterie board (or maybe we should call it a charCHEWterie board…??… or BARKuterie board?!?) All items included on the board are foods that are safe for dogs (in moderation of course).

Homemade peanut butter PUPcakes with cream cheese frosting was her birthday dessert!

CharCHEWterie Board

A dog-friendly Charcuterie board! …So many healthy dog-friendly foods to CHEWS from, but here’s what was on our pups’ board:

  • Apples
    • excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and phosphorus
  • Apple sauce
    • excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and phosphorus
  • Bananas
    • packed with potassium and vitamin C, and they’re also a good source of vitamin B6, manganese, biotin, and copper
  • Bell pepper
    • rich in vitamins A, E, B6, and lutein and are great sources of vitamin C and beta-carotene
  • Blueberries
    • contain antioxidants, fiber and vitamins C and K. These nutrients support the immune system and contribute to overall health
  • Broccoli
    • vitamin K, calcium, and potassium
  • Carrots
    • excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, and fiber, among other vitamins
  • Celery
    • excellent source of fiber; vitamins A, C, and K; folate; potassium; and manganese
  • Cheese (low fat)
    • contains protein, calcium, vitamin A, essential fatty acids, and B-complex vitamins
  • Cheese Crackers
    • definitely an “only in moderation” selection, as this is not a healthy treat, but Rita loves an occasional cheese cracker, so we couldn’t resist!
  • Clementines
    • full of nutrients, potassium, and some fiber
  • Cranberries
    • improve your dog’s bladder health, reduce tartar and plaque buildup, fight bacteria, and help prevent cancer
  • Egg
    • packed with protein and rich in many essential amino and fatty acids, vitamins including A and B12, as well as folate, iron, selenium, and riboflavin. Eggs provide nutrients which help improve skin and coat health as well as stronger teeth and bones.
  • Kiwi
    • contain fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, flavonoids and carotenoids. They protect against cancer, help cell rejuvenation, and strengthen the immune system
  • Pears
    • high in copper, vitamins C and K, and fiber
  • Peas
    • high in vitamins A, B, C, and K, and are a good source of protein and dietary fiber. They’re also rich in essential nutrients like folate, thiamin, and manganese
  • Pumpkin purée
    • Aids in digestion and is rich in a host of essential vitamins and minerals
  • Spinach
    • contains vitamins A, B, C, and K, iron, antioxidants, and beta-carotene
  • Strawberries
    • full of fiber and vitamin C
  • Yogurt
    • high in protein, and a good source of calcium which keeps your pup’s bones healthy. It is also full of probiotics which are great for your dog’s digestive system

This was Margarita’s treat for her 11th Birthday

***Consult your dog’s veterinarian before trying new foods. Be mindful of any potential food allergies, and always feed any food in moderation.