I was fortunate enough to complete the 2023 Chase Away K9 Cancer 5K with our current cancer warrior, Limoncello, and our cancer survivor, Lager. Both dogs’ cancers fall under the head/neck cancer category.
Limoncello’s journey is going documented HERE. She has a tumor that encompasses her right nasal passage, right eye socket, and has reached her brain. Due to the location of the tumor, it’s size, Cello’s age and her heart condition, only holistic methods are an option. She was originally given a few weeks to a few months to live. As of today, she has vibrantly celebrated 4 weeks and 2 days since her diagnosis.
You can read about Lager’s journey through oral cancer by clicking HERE. Lager was first thought to have Oral Papillary Squamous Cell Carcinoma, but with further pathology testing, it was discovered that he had Canine acanthomatous ameloblastoma (CAA). He had a rostral mandibulectomy in October 2022, leaving him with only 1/4 of his lower jaw. Over a year later, he is living his best life and has not let his cancer journey or his surgery slow him down ONE bit! The photos below show Lager’s jaw before (in a much younger picture of Lager) and after (a current photo of Lager).
We walked this 5K in small increments and in honor off ALL canine cancer warriors – both past and present. You’ll see Lager’s and Margarita’s name on our shirt because at the time I ordered our race swag, we were unaware of Limoncello’s diagnosis.
A dock diving friend participated in this 5K as well and we very much appreciate her walking for Cello and Lager!
Chase awash K9 Cancer is near and dear to my heart and is a division of the National Canine Cancer Foundation. For additional information about the National Canine Cancer Foundation, please visit www.wearethecure.org
A part of never giving up means making the most of every single moment – – and in typical Limoncello fashion, she is schooling us on how to do exactly that….
We as humans have so much to learn from dogs…Dogs live each and every day with a sense of excitement…with a 🍋 zest for life. They are resilient and move forward despite the challenges they face. Today marks three weeks-post diagnosis (8/30/23), and yet Limoncello continues to show pretty much zero symptoms outside of her right eye looking slightly larger than the left. Although that makes me happy, if I’m going to be honest… I need to share that the past three weeks have been stressful to say the least. Upon diagnosis, Limoncello was given only a-few-weeks to a-few-months to live. I feel like this cancer has left us feeling much like we did when Porter and Jägermeister’s seizures were not under control – it’s like living with a ticking time bomb … never knowing when it’s going to “explode” … never knowing when that seizure or nosebleed is going to dreadfully emerge…Waking up each morning wondering if that day will be her last. Despite efforts to remain positive and have faith, the worries still find a way to slither their way into my mind, especially leading up to her 3-week check-up. However, I am (cautiously) relieved to share this week’s report!
September 19, 2023: Three Week Check Up With Primary Veterinarian
Limoncello saw our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, on September 19th.
Observations I Shared:
Cello’s activity level, eating/drinking habits and behavior have not changed at all
Dr. Campbell was happy to hear this.
Cello has begun to sneeze periodically, which is new for her – but we were told to expect this, and luckily there has been no bleeding that has accompanied the sneezing
I thought I was crazy to think her right eye looked better than it did three weeks ago…
Dr. Campbell agreed that she thought Cello’s eye looked better as well!
The following have had no decline/changes:
signs of discomfort
left nostril airflow (right nostril is blocked by tumor)
facial bones and skull
mouth, throat, and swallowing
When should see Cello be seen next?
suggested time frame was 2-3 weeks
Can we review what we are we watching out for?
discharge from nostrils
swallowing with effort
Can we get a letter to submit to DockDogs so that we could request a reimbursement for Cello’s World Championship entry fees due to her medical condition?
When I heard the words come out of Dr. Campbell’s mouth, it took my breath away and immediately the tears began to flow: “I think you should go. She deserves one last jump.” (Insert ugly crying here)! Dr. Cambell said that because Cello surprisingly did not show the decline that was expected in the last 3 weeks, it is highly likely there will not be a drastic decline in the upcoming next few weeks – although we have to understand that anything is possible of course. BUT, if she’s doing well and feeling good, why not let her do what she loves … revel in what she created for our family… and jump at the World Championship one more time?! Since Cello has had no decline and her exam went well, her previous restriction of not jumping off the dock has been lifted at the moment and for as long as it is deemed safe for her to do so.
If we go to the World Championships in Iowa, we take the chance of an emergency happening on the road, and although because of past experience, it has become one of our biggest fears, that emergency could (or could NOT!) happen anytime, anywhere. The last thing we want to do is just “sit around and wait” when we could be making the most of Limoncello’s enjoyable moments.
I will have to plan and pack as if we are going to the World Championship with the mindset of knowing we could have to cancel at any given moment – including less than 24 hours before we’d have to leave. Limoncello will have to remain asymptomatic and she will also have an exam again with Dr. Campbell on October 6th. If all goes well again at that exam, we will leave early on the morning of October 7th to what very well may be the most memorable and meaningful trip our team as a whole has taken.
I have done zero planning for the World Championships, considering we had already resigned to the fact that we couldn’t go…So we won’t have new fancy team shirts, or cool trading cards for our pack, but what we will have is 2 of the greatest gifts of all: Limoncello making most likely her last jump while battling cancer, and Lager competing as a survivor. We have had some pretty amazing moments, awards, and accomplishments at the World Championships over the years, but THIS, my friends, will truly rival them all. No award…no nomination…no victory can or will ever fill our hearts with a greater sense of pride and gratitude than seeing Cello flipping cancer the paw and doing what she loves most…rockin’ the dock one last time! Fingers and paws crossed that we are able to make the trip.
The Best Thing About Memories is Making Them
A devastating diagnosis is a jolting wake-up call that reminds us that time is precious and not meant to be wasted. Live every day making every moment count. Even though cancer can eventually take loved ones away from us, the one thing it can never steal from us is our memories…so make LOTS of them. Here are some I made with Limoncello this week:
Bike Ride Around Town
Betty White’s First Off Road Adventure
Chillin’ on the Couch with Brother Hooch
National Cheeseburger Day
Visiting with Friends and Family
National String Cheese Day
I am a true believer in the power of positivity – and it is extremely apparent that Limoncello is feeling the prayers and good vibes you all have been sending. Brian and I appreciate each and every one of you.
Here are a few gifts from this week:
Box of Sunshine
Care Box for the Whole Pack
Cello-Yellow Flowers and Cookies
No News is Good News
If Limoncello continues to do well, my plan is to post an update after her October 6th exam instead of a weekly update next week. Until then, please continue to send those positive thoughts Cello’s way, and don’t forget to keep making those memories with your loved ones!
Another week to be thankful for – – Limoncello continues to reveal no symptoms other than her right eye looking slightly irregular. Her eye does not look any worse, her activity level is normal, and she is eating and drinking as usual. Tuesday she will have a check-up with her primary veterinarian.
“We Don’t Remember Days, We Remember Moments“
I never really thought about it…but you never know when you are making memories, do you? Limoncello’s diagnosis made me realize that without even being aware of it – everything we do in our daily schedule is a live recording of memories-in-the-making. It’s easy to get wrapped up into social media and focusing on “post-worthy” events/photos/videos that often overpower other important moments in life. Sometimes life is just to busy to realize that everyday activities that appear to mean nothing at the time, actually turn out to mean EVERYTHING when a devastating diagnosis is delivered. If there is even a positive that can come out of a situation like this, it’s that it sure does make you slow down and focus on being grateful for the routine things that tend to go unnoticed because they become ordinary, unremarkable activities…it makes you appreciate each and every moment in your day – because all those little things…all those non-post-worthy moments…are about to become the most important and significant memories you’ll have with those you love…
Memorable Moments Made This Week
We were given the “go-ahead” to let Limoncello swim in the lake if she enters at her own will. Although we will miss tossing a toy for her, we are grateful that she can still enjoy one of her most-loved activities.
Limoncello is enjoying being the center of attention when visitors come to see her.
Breakfast at Evergreen Dairy Bar
Any M. Night Shyamalan fans out there? One of his latest movies, “Knock at the Cabin” was filmed extremely close to us here in the Pine Barrens. One of the scenes towards the end of the movie was shot at one of our favorite breakfast and ice cream spots: Evergreen Dairy Bar. For the movie, Evergreen’s name was changed to “Angie’s Roadside Diner.”
Limoncello enjoyed a scrambled egg with bacon.
Pointer Piles on the Couch
Shopping at Tractor Supply
Walks Around the Neighborhood
Dollar Tree Find
I stopped into a dollar store for something totally unrelated, and my eye caught something yellow! Brian and I always enjoy a glass of wine at the end of each night. These lemon themed wine glasses will help us remember to toast to Cello each night
Cheering on the Philadelphia Phillies
Car Ride Around Town
Thank You For Accompanying Cello On Her Journey
Good company on a difficult journey … it lessens our fear and fills our minds and hearts with the hope, faith, and courage needed to uphold the strength needed to support Limoncello with a positive tone and light spirit . We deeply appreciate the kindness, support, and love that our friends, family, and community continues to offer during this difficult and uncertain time. Your post comments, private messages, and phone calls help to ease our stress and brighten’s Limoncello’s days. Your support is a majority of the fuel that keeps us going strong on this difficult path. Thank you all…for everything.
Limoncello Profile Pictures
Friends changed their Facebook profile pictures in support of Cello.
Surprise Chewy Box!
Another Surprise Chewy Box!
Dock Diving Friends Jumping for Cello at Their Dock Diving Competitions
Collection for Chase Away Canine Cancer
Chase Away Canine Cancer is an organization that is near and dear to our hearts. This organization was created in memory of a canine dock diving competitor named Chase. Chase Away Canine Cancer’s passion and commitment is to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this terrible disease.
It’s The Memories We Make with Others That Are Forever Written In Our Hearts
When I began this blog about 10 years ago, it was meant solely to be a collection of all memories that were created with Limoncello. What it has become is far more than I ever imagined. It’s by no means a “famous” website – what I mean is that this blog has not only held each and every memory that Cello created in our lives, it has also become a means to help others by sharing information and experiences. It has been a gateway into a whole new family of amazing people and pups that I am now connected with – all because of Limoncello. My mission is to continue to help as many people and pups as I can as I promote my compassion for animals, share activities that strengthen the bond between humans and their fur-kids, and document experiences with our pack.
I am disappointed in myself for falling behind on this blog, (about 2-plus years behind to be exact!) …but writing about Limoncello’s recent diagnosis as prompted me to remember the whole reason I began this journal of posts in the first place: to share all the memories that have been gifted to me by Limoncello – and now ALL of my fur-kids. It’s important to me to be able to look back on just how blessed I am to be spending a part of my life with each and every special 4-legged angel included in this blog, and it has become even more important to me to have a diary of adventures and experiences that can easily be accessed to help others when needed….whether it be as simple as sharing a dog friendly establishment, or offering support with documented information on diseases and injuries that PAWrents find difficult to navigate through.
So I apologize in advance for any of you who subscribe directly to the blog for the abundance of email alerts that (hopefully!) are to come as I try and buckle-down, back-date posts, and publish “missed memories” in an attempt to catch the blog up to date.
Bucket List A Medley of Memories in the Making
There’s nothing wrong with making “Bucket List”… In fact, I think it’s actually a great idea…but when I decided to create a list for Margarita, I chose to call it an Adventure List because “Bucket List” had me more focused on the fact she was dying, instead of concentrating on celebrating her LIVING days . Although I was blessed to have completed 8 out of the 10 adventures before she had passed, it wound up adding to my heartbreak that the list remained with “adventures that would never be”…
…So when Brian and I spoke about doing some extra special things for Limoncello, we decided that a spontaneous Memories in the Making would be a nice choice. Instead of making a list and stressing out about trying to complete everything on it, each day (or each week), we will choose to do something special with Limoncello. That “something” could be as simple as individual time of sitting with her on the couch or the porch, or as elaborate as a planned overnight trip. Whatever hits us as a good idea in-the-moment will be the memory that makes the list. The list will be ongoing…in the making…until Limoncello decides it is her time to cross the rainbow bridge.
1 Week Post-Diagnosis (August 30, 2023)
It took us a quite a few days to get our heads on (somewhat) straight….but even still, we managed to squeeze quite a bit into the last week! Due to schedules and life getting in the way at times, we know we won’t always be able to create such an abundance of memories each week, but we are grateful for the memory-packed week that we had with our special girl!
August 31, 2023
Sun bathing and neighborhood walk
September 1, 2023
Watching the Phillies game with brother Hooch
September 2, 2023
1/2 mile hike at a local park
Picnic in a local park
September 3, 2023
Making a memory box.
I save special items throughout each dog’s life. I have the items in basic cardboard boxes until I make a “fancy” box for each dog. Although this was not the situation that I wanted to prompt me to do Limoncello’s memory chest, I am glad it is finished and that all her special things are inside for us to cherish always. I bought the box at Joanne Fabric store, did a pencil transfer of Limoncello’s name, used a wood burner to burn her name into the wood, then stained it with “Lemon” (yes, that was the actual name of the color!) tinted stain by Minwax (so excited that I found stain that can be colored!!)… and lastly, I put a couple coats of clear polyurethane over the stain to protect it.
September 4, 2023
From the time Cello was a puppy, she loved to just lay and chill in a baby pool and would often try to lay in any puddles she could find along our walks!
When life gives you lemons…make limoncello (literally).
It has been quite a while since a batch of Tommy D’s Limoncello has been made. A batch has now been started and we plan to try and always have some on-hand from this day forward.
September 5, 2023
Duck, Duck, Jeep with cousin James
Cello got ducked with her very own stuffie-duck, and off we went to duck some Jeeps!
September 6, 2023
“I’ll stop the world and melt with you.” This week’s heat wave was a great opportunity to have a cold treat. Our local ice cream shop, Sand Stand, offers dog-friendly pup cups! It was dark by the time we got there today, so the pictures aren’t the best but it sure was fun to watch her enjoy her ice cream!
We May Not Have A Lot of Ammunition, But We Surely Are Not Going Down Without at Least Trying to Defend Cello
I’m going to be honest…I had a lot of anger with this diagnosis…A LOT. I couldn’t fathom how this cancer took over so much of Limoncello and went undetected in bloodwork and in our daily observations….how she is otherwise healthy aside from this vast tumor taking over half her head. I don’t ever like to accept the notion that there is nothing we can do….but I had to also come to grips with the devastating diagnosis at hand. Through tears of sadness and anger I realized it is my reality that I cannot save the sweet soul who single-handedly rescued us…that’s a hard pill to swallow.
We may not have a lot of ammunition, but we surely are not going down without some kind of a fight…even if that “fight” is geared more towards defending Cello with the only options we have. We will battle daily for Limoncello to be sure she is happy, content, and comfortable for all of her remaining days. We will fight to prolong her quality of life.
Our goal at this point is to support Limoncello’s immune system with anti-tumor, anti-cancer, and antioxidant benefits. In conjunction with the traditional medications Cello is on (Gabapentin and Carprofen), the finalized list of holistic options we chose to incorporate for Limoncello (with he help of her medical team of course) are as follows:
Organic turkey tail mushrooms
Antioxidant properties, boosts gut health, and known to have cancer-fighting properties
helps to control bleeding
Pet Wellbeing’s Life Gold
Immune system support and antioxidant protection for dogs with cancer
helps to boost the immune system and aids in reducing inflammation. The lauric acid in coconut oil is also known to have anti-cancer properties.
Support from Others is Not Just an Important Thing, It’s EVERYthing
The outpour of support has been absolutely amazing. Brian and I appreciate every post comment, phone call, gift, text, and private message. This just makes us that much more grateful for Limoncello, who is responsible for the fact that we have this huge community of support and love.
Our Primary Veterinarian
I’m sure everyone thinks their vet is the best… but honestly…OUR VET IS THE BEST! Dr. Campbell is the most brilliant, caring, compassionate (and most patient!) person I know. With each issue that arises, we learn so much from Dr. Campbell. We always have (a ton of!) questions and we are so grateful for the time, efforts, and love this saint-of-a-woman provides to our family!
Great friends of ours, who we met at Limoncello’s first-ever dock diving competition, recently lost their amazing dog to cancer. Limoncello received a box filed with some items that helped our friends’ pup when he was on his cancer journey.
Visitors and Cello-Yellow Flowers
Family members stopped by to spend some time with Cello and each brought a bunch of Cello-yellow flowers.
Connected to Author Penny Miller for Holistic Approach Advice
A great friend, who I met through Instagram in sharing Cello’s DCM diagnosis, connected me with this author, who contacted me directly to share her advice on hospice care and holistic options.
Card Expressing Support
Close friends – you guessed it – we met because of Limoncello – – sent a card of support even though they check in with us regularly. We are truly blessed!
Shots of Limoncello at the Competition We Had to Skip
We received a video from great friends at the competition in Ohio doing a shot of limoncello for Limoncello. As we watched the video, we smiled….and we cried… what an amazing group of people! We were so upset not to be there. Friends sent us pictures and videos all weekend long to make us feel like we were right there with them as we cheered them on from New Jersey. This group of people right here is the true meaning of community. Limoncello prompted us to get involved in dock diving…and having our DockDogs family in our lives has been life-changing for us. We are forever grateful!
Session with an animal communicator
What an amazing gift! We have never done something like this before. An absolutely awesome couple we were fortunate enough to meet through Limoncello thoughtfully and generously gifted us a session with an animal communicator whose expertise is having insight into the physical body (medical intuition). Our session was extremely cathartic during this very difficult time.
A Lemon Themed Mani-Pedi for Cello
An amazing friend had her manicure and pedicure done …Limoncello style in an effort to spark up both conversation and more prayers for our girl!
With sincere gratitude: Thank you ALL for the love and support you continue to extend to Limoncello, and to our family
There is no easy way to put this, and no back-story to tell…as this all happened so suddenly. This week it has been discovered that Limoncello has an inoperable mass that encompasses the entire right side of her head…including her eye socket & nasal cavity. It has deteriorated bone, including breaking through the cribriform plate and extending to her brain. Due to the vast size, locations of the mass, Cello’s age, and her Dilated Cardiomyopathy, surgery and treatments such as chemo, radiation, or CyberKnife are not options.
There were zero… ZERO signs. Limoncello had been playing in the yard, swimming, going on walks, eating normally, acting normally and had no abnormalities in her physical features … She had her annual cardiology exam just a couple of weeks ago and not only did her cardiologist give her a gleaming report, a comprehensive bloodwork panel returned with near perfect results. …ZERO signs… until…about a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that Cello’s right eyelid looked a bit “droopy.” In the following days I noticed that the third eyelid was elevated. She was seen by our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, just days after the observation with our thought being that she somehow irritated her eye, or had an infection. At this point, we noticed that her eyeball now seemed to be protruding. Dr. Campbell examined her and placed her on antibiotics in the event she may have an infection/abscess behind the eye. We did discuss the possibility of a retrobulbar mass. Dr. Campbell suggested that we secure an appointment with an eye specialist as soon as possible.
August 29, 2023: Ophthalmologist Appointment
Luckily we were able to schedule an appointment on 8/29/23 with Dr. Shelby Reinstein, board-certified ophthalmologist at Vet Vision Center, located about an hour from our home. Upon exam, Dr. Reinstein ruled out two of the three common eye socket abnormalities: (1) an abscesses (infection), and (2) cellulitis (inflammation)….with all her observations leading toward a retrobulbar tumor (mass in the eye socket). Dr. Reinstein also noted that now Cello’s right nostril had decreased airflow. It was recommended that we get a CT scan to see exactly what we are dealing with.
August 30, 2023: Appointment with Internal Medicine Doctor and CT Scan
We were fortunate to get an appointment the very next day with the internal medicine doctor who has cared for both Margarita and Porter in the past. On 8/30/23 Limoncello was examined by Dr. Peter Chapman at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Levittown, PA, who also agreed that all signs pointed to a mass that was most likely malignant. A CT scan was performed that afternoon that revealed the suspected mass behind Cello’s eye was only the tip of the iceberg. Bones are deteriorated, her right nostril is mostly blocked, and not only does the mass encompass the entire right side of her head, it has broken through the cribriform plate and has reached her brain. Due to the initial findings during the CT scan, we opted not to obtain a biopsy. Using a scope to secure a biopsy would have been too invasive and we did not want to put Cello’s body through any more stress. In addition, it was taken into consideration by both us and Cello’s medical team that no treatment options meant that unfortunately a biopsy would not provide us with any additional beneficial information.
We are still waiting on the finalized results from the CT scan. We have been told that it could take a couple of days to a couple of weeks for us to receive it. We are reluctantly anxious to read the report… Although we want to learn every detail that we can, we also know that it may not provide any positive news.
We are grateful that doctors determined Cello is not yet in any pain or discomfort. With all traditional treatments off the table, Cello will be closely monitored until she lets us know she is ready to make her journey over the rainbow bridge. Doctors have given us signs to look for which include but are not limited to: recurring nose bleeds, seizures, difficulty eating, and labored breathing. Cello will also have regular check-ups with our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell. The time she has left with us is unknown but it is only estimated to be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
No Options for Traditional Treatment Plans…So What Do We Do NOW?
To say we are completely shocked and devastated is an understatement. Again – there have been ZERO signs. Cello is otherwise healthy – she displayed no symptoms – and we now have no way to try and stop this. We feel powerless with no options to help her. Aside now from the look of her right eye, you would never know she had a mass that took over the entire right side of her head. She is eating and drinking normally, her breathing sounds typical, she is still bossing the pack around and is physically active.
I have never been one to ever accept hearing “there is nothing we can do.” When protecting our fur-kids, we NEVER go down without a fight – but how do you battle something that has already won? We are by no means surrendering, but it seems this silent killer has left us with no choice but to focus our efforts on helping Cello live her remaining days to the fullest.
Cello will begin some medications and supplements to help support her through her remaining time. Supportive measures will be introduced slowly and in stages. The start of her schedule will look something like this:
anticonvulsant drug used to treat chronic pain caused by certain cancers. It is also used to prevent seizures
a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)that has been known to relieve the pain associated with certain cancers and reduces swelling and inflammation.
In 7 days:
helps to stop bleeding, provides pain relief, and helps to reduce inflammation
In 14 days:
CAS Options or I’m-Yunity
supports immune health
In addition to the above, Cello will have coconut oil added to her diet. Coconut oil helps to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. It contains lauric acid, which has also been known to have anti-cancer properties.
We are doing our best to push the anger and sadness away and to shift our focus to ensuring that our actions and demeanor are positive and hopeful, as we know that Cello will feed off of our energy. We know that we are blessed to have had Limoncello in our lives for 12 years when so many other dogs and PAWrents have been less fortunate. Although it is difficult to see it that way in the moment, above all for Cello’s sake, we will find the strength to remain positive and celebrate any and all additional time with her that we will be blessed with. She has led us on so many amazing journeys that we would never have embarked on had it not been for her – now it is our turn to walk beside her on this new and difficult path. We intend to make every second count and ensure that every day is viewed as a chance to make a new memory that will be cherished always.
The Well-Being of Our Pack
There is no doubt Limoncello is our pack’s leader. There are two pack members in particular who are extremely bonded to her. They look to follow her every move, and when they aren’t in motion, they are laying intertwined with her. We have already begun putting methods and schedules into place in hopes to make their transition a bit less difficult when the dreaded shift in their pack and home occurs.
We originally had a dock diving trip planned for this weekend that we canceled. We wish all of our friends a successful weekend as they strive to obtain invitations to the DockDogs World Championships. We will be cheering you all on from NJ. As you know from the past – we have an “All for one, one for all” mantra for our pack. As of now, all future long-distance dock diving trips/competitions for our team are on hold so that we may focus on celebrating time with Limoncello, remain in close proximity to her medical team, and center our attention on the well-being of our pack during this difficult time.
August 31, 2023
Limoncello enjoyed sunbathing in the yard and a walk in our neighborhood.
Our Sincere Gratitude
Friends and family have already offered support on so many levels…post comments, private messages, phone calls, texts, dropping off comfort food, offers to cancel plans and spend the weekend with us…all reminders of just how truly blessed we are to have you all in our lives – and for the majority of you – it’s Limoncello we have to thank for leading us to cross paths with you in the countless adventures she has taken us on. We are so appreciative for all of you, and would ask that you please continue to offer up those prayers and send along those good vibes for Limoncello.
Our wild-child, 𝕵𝖆𝖌𝖊𝖗𝖒𝖊𝖎𝖘𝖙𝖊𝖗, is 6 years old today!
Jägermeister came to us an owner-surrender in 2020 due to his epilepsy. He has kept us on our toes and challenged us in every way possible …but there is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t make us laugh! His energy is outrageous and his enthusiasm is contagious!
2 cups organic wholewheat flour, plus extra for sprinkling on cannolis
1 1/2 Tablespoons organic ground cinnamon
1 organic egg – large
1/2 cup organic unsweetened plain almond milk
1/4 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon organic honey
1/4 cup all-natural organic creamy peanut butter – room temperature (** Do NOT use a peanut butter with Xylitol (also called birch sugar) as it can be deadly to dogs)!
1/2 cup Organic plain Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
In a large bowl, add the flour & cinnamon and mix well. Set aside
In a small mixing bowl, add egg, milk, coconut oil and honey and mix well.
Pour wet ingredients into dry mixture. Mix well using your hands. You can add more almond milk if mixture is too dry or more flour is mixture is too sticky.
Roll out dough to aprox 1/4″ thickness and with a 3-4” circle cookie cutter (I used the lid to a mason jar that was 3.5”) make circles in the dough.
Wrap the circle of dough around the handle of a wooden spoon to form the cannoli shape, putting one side of the dough onto the other and pressing firmly so it sticks together. Slide off end of wooden spoon and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack or allow to cool in the oven for a crunchier cannoli.
Filling: mix the peanut butter and yogurt with a spoon. Fill a piping bag with filling. When cannolis are completely cool use the icing piping bag to fill the cannolis
Sprinkle some whole wheat flower over top of the cannolis to give them a “powdered sugar” look.
Happy 9th Birthday to Windy Spot’s Homemade 𝗛𝗼𝗼𝗰𝗵!
HOWWWWW is it possible that you are NINE?! It seems like it was yesterday when we brought you home at 8 weeks old!! With not a gray hair to be seen (any white you see are original markings) and your never ending energy, you are our forever puppy! You may not be fond of most other dogs, but you are so lovable to every human you meet. You keep us laughing each and every day with your silliness! You have taken me on so many grand adventures with dock diving…. And I look forward to many more memories and adventures with you! We love you, Hooooooooooch! Happy birthday, buddy!
𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐭: Egg Cups with a side of cheesy sweet potato hash browns (pictured separately because I forgot to include them in original photo), strawberries and clementines
1/2 box (8 ounces) organic whole wheat spaghetti (can also use organic buckwheat or chick pea spaghetti)
1 firmly packed cup of finely chopped organic spinach leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons organic whole milk
1 large organic egg
Organic olive oil, for drizzling
Organic baby spinach (fresh)
Fresh mozzarella balls
Preheat the oven to 350℉ . Spray the bottom and sides of four 4-inch-diameter springform pans with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook pasta until slightly tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the spinach, cheese, and oil. Toss well until the spinach is wilted. Set aside to cool.
For assembly: Beat the Parmesan, milk, and egg together in a large bowl until smooth. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti mixture until well combined. Twirl 1/2 cupfuls of the spaghetti mixture around tongs or a large fork and transfer to the prepared pans. Make an indentation in the middle of each nest of pasta and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before removing the sides from the pans. Remove the bottoms of the pans from the nests using a thin spatula.
Place a bed of spinach leaves on a small plate. Place the spaghetti nests on the spinach leaves. Place 3 balls of fresh mozzarella in each nest and serve.
1/3 cup organic all-natural creamy peanut butter (no salt/sugar added and xylitol free) at room temperature
1/2 cup organic shredded carrots
1 Tablespoon organic honey
(1) Potato- 7 ounces – peeled, and boiled until very soft – then cooled
3.5 ounces organic cauliflower florets – steamed or boiled until very soft, and then drained and cooled
3-5 tablespoons organic unsweetened coconut milk
(1) container (5.3 oz) of plain yogurt (unsweetened)
Organic shredded carrots
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease a small round springform pan. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the eggs, peanut butter, honey, and shredded carrots. Add baking powder
Pour the batter into the pan and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Keep the cake in the springform pan and let cool for 20 mins on a wire rack. Then remove from springform pan and allow to cool completely.
Cut cake lengthwise into two layers
In a food processor, blend the potatoes, cauliflower, and yogurt. Add the milk gradually. Continue to add more milk in order to make the icing creamy and spreadable. After I finished with the food processor, I used a fork to mash any remaining solid pieces and to whip the frosting.
Assembling the Cake:
Spread half the frosting on the top of the bottom layer
Add the second cake layer on top, and then frost the top of the cake
Decorate the cake with shredded carrots and your dog’s kibble
Whiskey definitely had a tougher time with her left knee compared to the surgery and recovery of her right knee. Prior to the appointment I had been in touch with her surgical team to let them know that she was still favoring her left knee at times and that the lymph node in her rear left leg was enlarged. Whiskey also still needed to be on Gabapentin twice a day to minimize the limping on her left side. On May 4th, Dr. Morris examined Whiskey and felt that overall she looked great. Whiskey was using both of her back legs without hesitation during the appointment, but still had some swelling along her left incision. The lymph node behind her left knee was still enlarged, but Dr. Morris said she is hopeful this will resolve on its own as the swelling continues to improve. Whiskey also had X-rays done which did not display any sign of infection, and showed that her bone has completely and appropriately healed.
Home Care Instructions:
Unlimited leash walking- allow off leash for about 5 minutes after each walk
Figure 8 Circles, to the left and the right, trotting/ running speed
Trotting or running in a straight line- no sharp cuts or turns
Whiskey can return to her normal activity level at the end of 2-3 weeks of gradual increases.
May 8, 2023
Despite how well Whiskey’s final check-up went, swelling at the incision suddenly seemed to have increased, a sore had formed, and Whiskey was limping a bit more.
Left knee (left) in comparison to the right knee (right):
View of both knees:
I shared my observations with Whiskey’s surgical team, who was very responsive and extremely supportive. After reviewing the photos and videos that I had shared, Dr. Morris decided to put Whiskey on a round of antibiotics. If the swelling, sore, and limping does not improve upon the completion of the antibiotics in two weeks, Whiskey will have to return to Dr. Morris for a re-examination.
Whiskey began taking Cefpodoxime Proxetil on May 8th. We are hopeful that by at the end of her antibiotic regimen, the overall condition of Whiskey’s left knee will have improved. The conclusion of Whiskey’s antibiotic schedule happens tofall on the Feast Day of Saint Rita! (Saint Rita of Cascia (Born Margherita Lotti) is the patron Saint of impossible causes and bodily ills). I will be praying to Saint Rita for relief and healing for Whiskey.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This is an annual observation that emphasizes the fact that early detection of oral cancer can increase long-term survival. This observance is a great opportunity to highlights the importance of making oral cancer checks a part of your dog’s teeth brushing routine.
What Are The Signs?
Some of the signs of oral cancer may be:
visible lump or mass inside of the mouth
swollen areas of the face
reluctance to eat
bleeding from the mouth
Not all of the signs above may be obvious at first. Your best defense is to check your dog’s mouth regularly. Below is a guide from Chase Away Canine Cancer on how to check your dog’s mouth for signs of cancer.
Our Oral Cancer Warrior
Although his profile may have changed, Lager’s excitement for life and of quality of living has not. Lager has adjusted well to hisrostral mandibulectomy and is eating his regular food, picking up toys, grasping small objects, doing all of his favorite activities… and even trying new ones! Lager was very fortunate that his oral cancer did not spread to any other part of his body. I fully understand that Lager is one of the lucky ones to have been deemed cancer-free after his rostral mandibulectomy, and I intend to pay that forward by trying my best to spread awareness, educate others on how to check their dog for cancer, and by doing anything I can to support fellow PAWrents who find themselves on a similar journey with their fur-kid. If you or anyone you know wind up on the same difficult path, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
They say every path in life has a bridge and the journey is crossing it. Personally, I prefer to take the long route and avoid bridges altogether. Crossing bridges really takes a “toll” on me, as I have a huge fear of overpasses… like heart-racing-sweaty-palms-death-grip-on-the-steering-wheel-kind-of-fear…. and forget about looking over the railing while crossing. I despise driving over large bridges and dislike walking over them even more. However, despite the panic that I feel about driving and walking over these structures, I do think they are all beautiful and they do truly intrigue me – especially the covered ones!
Cry Me a River, Build Me A Bridge… And GET OVER IT!
Although covered bridges were once popular in the Garden State, NJ currently only has two remaining. Having lived in New Jersey my whole life, I was surprised to have learned that our home state had two of these magnificent structures that I had never seen…so last week, Limoncello accompanied me on a road trip to see (and drive over/through) both of them!
New Jersey’s Covered Bridges
March 28, 2023: Scarborough Bridge
Located in Cherry Hill, NJ, this bridge was built in 1959. It has two lanes as well as 2 sidewalks for pedestrians.
We drove through the bridge (once in each direction). There was ample safe parking nearby, so I pulled over and Limoncello walked with me to the bridge to take some photos. It was awesome to see up close!
March 30, 2023: Green Sergeant’s Covered Bridge
Built in 1872 and located in Stockton, NJ, this structure is New Jersey’s oldest (and longest) covered bridge and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is only one lane, so an adjacent bridge was built to accommodate traffic on both directions. I did turn around so that we could drive in the opposite direction over the adjacent bridge but there wasn’t any safe areas to pull over to take pictures with Cello.
Both Bridges were beautiful to see in person… and best of all, I got to spend some one-on-one time on the road with Limoncello!
Dr. Morris said that Whiskey looked great today and that her incision has nearly fully healed. Whiskey is using her leg without hesitation and Dr. Morris is very pleased with her progress.
Goals next 6 weeks
Maintain stifle stability, improve muscle mass and range of motion
Home Care Instructions
Whiskey’s incision has healed so she no longer needs to wear her E-collar. However, Whiskey has been trying to lick this incision (last surgery she did not attempt this) so we may need to replace the E-collar if we note that Whiskey is licking excessively at the incision site since scar tissue is weaker than normal skin and may be more prone to trauma.
Whiskey will need to continue to be restricted to leashed walking only; no running, no jumping for the next 10 weeks.
No off leash activity outside.
Continue leash walking program with gradual increase in duration:
Week 2-3 after surgery: 5 minute intervals 3 times per day
Week 3-4 after surgery: 10 minute intervals 3 times per day
Week 4-6 after surgery: 15 minute intervals 3 times per day
Week 5-8 after surgery: 20 minute intervals 3 times per day
Begin post-op rehab exercises
If increased fatigue, soreness or discomfort is noticed with increased walks, we are to revert to previous level of activity and begin again from there.
Whiskey cannot exceed 20-30 minute intervals until x-rays confirm appropriate bone healing.
Gabapentin will be continued for at least 1 more week as activity is increased, and then discontinued or used as needed.
Trazodone will be continued on an as needed basis to enforce exercise restriction.
Whiskey’s next recheck appointment is scheduled for May 4, 2023. At that time, x-rays will be obtained in order to ensure adequate bone healing prior to allowing her return to normal activity.
Fixing Pains, Taking Names, Making Gains
I’m relieved that we are back in the swing of Whiskey’s PT program. Whiskey had been getting antsy and was definitely ready to get moving again! The next 6 weeks we will be knee-deep in PT working hard and hoping our efforts will result in a positive report during her next evaluation on May 4th!
People laugh when we tell them we drive hours away from our home “just to have our dogs jump in a pool.” DockDogs has been so much more than a competitive sport to us and our pack. This organization has blessed us with an extended family consisting of THE most amazing people and pups that you will EVER meet. Although there are countless reasons we are grateful to be a part of this community, The B.A.A.R.K Foundation is among the top.
We were able to save Lager’s life and obtain some financial relief because of the The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization run by volunteers of the DockDogs community. The Foundation promotes community spirit, compassion and support of the DockDogs family by playing a leading role in making grants that enable and strengthen the DockDogs community when members have fallen on hard times. This foundation was truly a life-saver for us and for one of our 4-legged family members. Below is an account of our family’s story that we agreed to share with The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation for them to post publicly on their website.
“Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. It’s one of the bravest things you can do. And it can save your life.” (Or in our case, our dog’s life)
― Lily Collins, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me
Lager is a retired Contracted Working Dog under the State Department (War Zone name: Nayt), having served 18 months in Iraq as an Explosives Detection Canine at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. We adopted Lager at the age of three in 2015 when he returned to the United States.
At the time of the situation, Lager had been competing in DockDogs for about 7 years. We were driving in our camper on the way home from a World Championship qualifier Labor Day weekend 2022. It was then that I noticed a rather large mass in Lager’s mouth, located behind his lower left canine tooth. Upon our return home, Lager had surgery to remove the mass and obtain a biopsy. Pathology reports showed not only was the mass malignant, but the type of cancer that was detected tends to be extremely locally invasive.
Lager saw an oncologist and went through a day of testing including an abdominal ultrasound, x-rays, needle biopsies, and bloodwork to be sure that the cancer had not spread to other areas his body. Luckily, there had been no sign of metastasis. He then saw an oral surgeon who informed us that Lager would need a rostral mandibulectomy (a large portion of his lower jaw had to be removed to obtain clean margins from this locally invasive mass).
Although Lager was 10 years old at the time of his diagnosis, he surely does not act like a senior-aged dog. We joke that he is the real-life Tigger as he bounces around and is happy and excited about every little thing. He had so much life left to live and is one of the most motivated dogs we have known. Although the thought of a mandibulectomy was terrifying, we knew in our hearts that he would not let anything hold him back from enjoying life, so getting him healthy again was a must.
Even though our 5 competitors had received multiple World Championship Invitations that we had already accepted and paid for, we canceled our trip to the World Championship knowing we would need the extra time and finances to appropriately care for Lager. We canceled any upcoming camping trips we had planned and opted out of Holiday gift exchanges with friends and family…but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to get us through.
We have been members of the DockDogs community for about 9 years. We have donated to the B.A.A.R.K. Foundation and were very familiar with the assistance the foundation has provided to fellow competitors. However, considering we have always carried insurance for our dogs and consistently had positive experiences with reimbursements, we never imagined having the need to reach out to B.A.A.R.K. for help. 2022 turned out to be a very tough year for us financially. When Lager’s medical bills totaled over $12,000 we were shocked, but at the same time confident, thinking we could rely on our insurance to provide an 80-90% reimbursement as we have received in the past. However, Lager’s insurance only covered a miniscule amount of the total. We were not financially prepared to be responsible for such a large bill and were completely distraught.
We began researching other insurance companies and reluctantly reached out to Tina from the B.A.A.R.K Foundation and explained our situation. I say reluctantly because we had never been in this type of situation before, and even knowing it was our last resort, we felt embarrassed to ask for help. In the past we had been fortunate to have been the ones donating and providing help to others in charity organizations. I am so thankful that we decided to contact B.A.A.R.K. Brian and I were brought to tears by how kind, compassionate, and understanding Tina was during our conversation, as the call was not an easy thing for us to do.
Brian and I are forever grateful to The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation and the DockDogs community for their support during such a difficult time in our lives. We plan to pay it forward through spreading the word about the foundation, offering donations in the future when we are able and encouraging all members of the DockDogs community to give to B.A.A.R.K. in whatever capacity you can. If you cannot donate to the foundation, please consider volunteering in other ways or helping to collect donations at competitions. You just never know when you or a fellow community member will need assistance with medical expenses.
Thank you B.A.A.R.K. and our DockDogs family – this is truly THE best community. We are proud to be members and grateful that our dogs have connected us to the most amazing group of people anyone could ever wish to have in their lives.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
~The Liver Killers: Jenny and Brian Beadling and our 8-pack of Pointers
Click HERE to see our story posted on the B.A.A.R.K Foundation’s website.
A Note About Pet Insurance
When asked to share my advice in getting insurance for your dog, my answer is always “absolutely insure your dog if you can afford to do so.” However, even BETTER advice is to make sure to do your research and talk to others with experience in insured fur-kids when considering companies.
We had insurance policies with a particular company who changed hands and in turn, changed their coverage and their quality. They dropped coverage of teeth cleaning and their plan put a (smaller than I expected) cap on each individual diagnosis. When Lager was diagnosed with oral cancer, it became glaringly apparent that we should have changed insurance companies long ago when found ourselves left with a huge bill we were not prepared to pay. I blame myself for not being on top of things enough to realize that our insurance coverage was inadequate before it was too late. We have since been working on switching insurance policies for the dogs who don’t have a laundry-list of pre-existing conditions.
This post is not meant as a sounding board to bash insurance companies. It is meant to highlight and commend The B.A.A.R.K. Foundation as well as a plea for others to protect themselves and their fur-kids as best as possible by researching, speaking with others, fully understanding insurance policies before committing, and knowing when it’s ok to ask for help.
Therapy dogs accompany their owners to volunteer in settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, mental health institutions, schools, hospitals, cancer centers, hospice facilities, and college campuses …just to name a few! No matter what the setting, therapy dogs and their handlers work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.
It is important to note that therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks that a person cannot perform on their own. An example of a service dog is a dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a dog who assists someone who has a physical disability. Service dogs have special privileges in public places such as on planes, in stores, and in restaurants, etc. Therapy dogs do not have the same special access as service dogs.
How Did Some of My Dogs Become a Therapy Dog?
Not every dog has the right temperament for therapy dog work. Once I determined that the dog has good manners, and would react positively to being touched by strangers, I began the process of becoming a member of a therapy dog organization and started the testing process.
The T/O tested me on the ATD rules and regulations.
The T/O did a temperament test on my dog to make sure that they have good manners and react positively to being touched by strangers.
The T/O monitored me and my dog during three visits to facilities where my dog and I had to successfully interact with strangers in therapy-like settings. During these supervised visits, the T/O instructed me and gave me advice and guidance while observing me and my dog in action.
Once my dog and I passed all parts of the test, I submitted the membership fee and necessary paperwork to ATD
Which Dogs Make Good Therapy Dogs?
ANY breed can be a therapy dog! To become a therapy dog, a dog must:
be at least one-year-old
have a calm and gentle disposition
be good around other dogs
be calm when strangers pet them all over, and must not jump on others
walk on a leash without pulling
remain confident and calm around strange noises, smells, and medical equipment
be able to follow basic commands and listen to their handler
General Benefits of a Therapy Dog
Brings joy to others
Takes a person’s mind off of problems, pains and worries
Prompts people to open up and share their emotions
Encourages people to communicate with others
Lowers stress levels and blood pressure
Rekindles memories of past pets
Benefits of Therapy Dogs in Schools
Therapy dogs have countless benefits to offer to students of all ages! The following information is from the ATD website:
One of the most significant impacts that therapy dogs can make in the classroom is students’ socio-emotional development. Besides their training, therapy dogs bring their lovable and loving characteristics. These friendly companions are good listeners and offer great companionship and an audience to children without making any judgments.
Students can bond readily with therapy dogs, feeling more connected and confident. Studies show that this helps reduce negative behavior in children. Spending time with dogs also helps improve children’s mental well-being. There is intense pressure on children in school environments. Therapy dogs help children learn social skills, preventing social isolation.
Interaction with therapy dogs has also been found to cause a social catalyst effect, and this further helps improve the stimulation of social behavior. The relationships between the dogs and students help develop trust in children, and such children are also more likely to develop a broader capacity for empathy.
Besides positively impacting children’s emotional well-being, therapy dogs also contribute to cognitive development. Some of the key benefits of interacting with therapy dogs are as follows:
Improved reading skills
Enhanced executive-functioning skills
Stimulating memory and problem-solving skills
Studies show that the very presence in an educational environment tends to improve the areas of attention, concentration, relaxation, and motivation. This helps in reducing stress levels that would otherwise affect proper learning.
Relevant Research Studies
According to a 2019 National Institute of Health study, the presence of a dog in a classroom can help promote a positive mood. The study also recorded the notable anti-stress effects on the body of students.
Another University of California study involving canine reading programs made another exciting discovery. Students participating in a program experienced their reading fluency increasing by 12% to 30%.
I’d be glad to help if I can! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns you may have.
On March 12, 2023 Lager did a very special hike in honor of K9 Veterans Day with his best gal pal, Ellie.
Veteran’s Park is a 333 acre park built in 1977 in honor of Hamilton, NJ’s veterans. The park offers many walking paths, picnic grounds, and athletic fields. We completed a 4.1 mile hike on mostly paved paths as we explored the various memorials throughout the park.