W.I.N.

Week 15 Recap and Oncology Visit #16

“You can’t get back what you’ve lost.

What’s Important Now is what it is that you still have.”  ~Jimbei

Week 15 Recap

As of last week, Margarita is officially done her CHOP chemotherapy treatments.  Unlike many other unfortunate dogs, Margarita made it completely through her entire round of chemo,  and we’re taking that as a WIN.  However, as with many other warriors, she did not end this battle without acquiring some battle wounds. Some of this damage is temporary…Margarita’s hair on her face and belly should begin to grow back, and the dark pigment on her nose and muzzle should eventually fade to reveal her signature pink-piggy-nose …But a cardiology evaluation revealed a devastating battle wound that will scar her permanently.

July 1, 2019

After a heart murmur was discovered during Margarita’s Emergency Room visit, we scheduled a Cardiologist appointment with Dr. Bossbaly at VSEC.  Dr. Bossbaly is the cardiologist Limoncello sees as well.  During that appointment, we received some shattering news.  Margarita, like our Limoncello, was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  However,  Margarita’s case is much more severe.  She also has a grade 3 heart murmur (the blood is not flowing properly through her heart, particularly the mitral and tricuspid valves) as well as a significant cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat in the form of ventricular premature contractions).

So what does this all mean for our Sweet Reet? Below is the information conveyed to us by Dr. Bossbaly:

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)  is a disease where the heart muscle becomes a weak and has difficulty pumping blood out of the heart throughout the body. Because of this weakening, the heart chambers become enlarged, one or more heart valves may leak, and signs of congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs) may develop. The cause of dilated cardiomyopathy is not known; however, given the prevalence of this disease in certain breeds there is a suspected genetic basis for this condition. Occasionally, DCM-like heart muscle dysfunction develops secondary to identifiable causes such as toxins or an infection. More recently, it has also been thought to be connected to grain-free diets due to the fact that legumes in grain-free kibble block the body’s taurine absorption.  In Margarita’s case, it is believed the DCM is caused by the toxic effects of the chemotherapy drug, Adriamycin.

Early in the disease process there may be no clinical signs detectable, which is why this was not discovered in Margarita earlier. As the disease progresses, a heart murmur or other abnormal heart sounds and or irregular heart rhythm can be detected upon physical examination, as when the ER doctor heard Margarita’s murmur during her ER visit. The presence of heart muscle may weaken and her ventricular arrhythmias may result in weakness or lethargy, exercise intolerance, or fainting episodes for Margarita. I am finding this hard to type, but Margarita is also at risk for sudden death. As the heart’s pumping ability worsens, the heart enlarges and pressure builds up within the heart. When the heart is unable to compensate for the disease further, fluid may accumulate in the lungs, in the chest cavity, or in the abdomen. These are signs of congestive heart failure. The presence of fluid in these areas can cause difficulty breathing or coughing, so we will have to monitor Margarita for those symptoms.

The prognosis with dilated cardiomyopathy is guarded. Despite medical therapy, this disease will continue to progress with further weakening of the heart muscle. Margarita is at risk of developing congestive heart failure and is unfortunately at risk for worsening of the ventricular arrhythmias. Periodic echocardiograms and a halter monitor (if warranted) will help keep an eye out for disease progression and can dictate changes in medications which can help Margarita continue to have a good quality of life. Often, with the discontinuation of the chemotherapy, the heart may partially recover.

Dr. Bossbaly placed Margarita on a daily dose of Pimobendan. This is a medication used in Dobermans with dilated cardiomyopathy. This medication improves the strength and efficiency of the heart and dilates blood vessels to promote blood-flow out to the body. Side effects are very rare, although it is possible that Margarita could have some G.I. upset.  It is not known if Pimobendan helps with toxicity-induced cases of DCM, however Margarita’s heart is significantly enlarged and the contractility is severely compromised, so we are hopeful that this medication will help our Sweet Reet’s heart get strong again. Margarita also has major activity restrictions. She is not allowed to run freely, and should not be put in any situation where she is upset.

Like Limoncello, Margarita’s sleeping respiratory rate (SSR) will have to be monitored on a daily basis for the rest of her life. The sleeping respiratory rate is a subtle indicator of changes in Margarita’s condition; increasing trend may suggest the development of congestive heart failure. Normal sleeping respiratory rate should be less than 30 breaths a minute, so we will be tracking her SSR along with Cello’s using the app, Cardalis. Unfortunately, this app only allows for tracking one patient, so we have to chart the results ourselves. We will be in search for another app that allows for easier tracking of multiple patients, if possible, and welcome any recommendations our family, friends, and followers may have. Increases in respiratory rate and effort while sleeping will be reported to both Rita’s primary veterinarian (Dr. Campbell) as well as her cardiologist (Dr. Bossbaly) immediately.

Margarita will return to VSEC to be re-evaluated by Dr. Bossbaly in 4 months, and will also have an exam scheduled with     our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, in approximately two weeks.

We wholeheartedly do not regret our decision to get chemotherapy for Margarita, as it did help her WIN this round against Lymphoma.  Had we not chosen that path, Lymphoma would have taken Margarita from us months ago, as Lymphoma patients generally only survive 1-3 months when left untreated.  Considering the rough life Margarita unfortunately was forced to live prior to us knowing her, we were confident that she deserved a second chance at living a (longer) happy life. All that being said, the news of Rita’s severe cardiac disease on the last week of her chemotherapy plan sure felt like a punch in the gut.

We understand that just because Margarita is done with chemo doesn’t mean she is done with Lymphoma, as 90% of dogs with this disease will relapse.  We are remaining optimistic about her cardiac issue and focusing on being grateful for the WIN that others have not been so fortunate to celebrate – the WIN of our little warrior taking a big bite out of Lymphoma, and making it to the end of her chemotherapy treatments.  As we celebrate that WIN, however, we will also focus on the W.I.N. This “end” is really just the beginning of a new chapter.  What’s Important Now is that we remain positive and help Margarita become healthy and strong so that she can combat her heart disease. What’s Important Now is celebrating each and every day that we are blessed to still have her in our lives.

We will also start planning some of those escapades on that Adventure List of hers!

This Week’s Treatment

Week 16:  The Final Week of the CHOP Protocol

Hey, Lymphoma…Guess What …You LOSE!

No chemo this week (YAY!), as Margarita completed all of the CHOP treatment plan.  Instead of chemotherapy drugs, Margarita had an abdominal ultrasound, blood test, and physical exam.  I also had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Risbon and discuss the plan for long-term monitoring.

Abdominal Ultrasound

No abnormalities were found during Rita’s ultrasound.

Blood work

Margarita’s white blood cell count was a bit low, so she was placed on an antibiotic as a preventative.

Physical Exam

Rita’s physical exam was good.  Her mammary gland still feels like there is abnormal tissue present, so this will have to be closely monitored.

Discussion with Dr. Risbon

Dr. Risbon explained that Margarita is a special case, which is very concerning.  Lymphoma usually resurfaces in 90% of patients in the same manor it did before chemo.  However, now that Rita’s spleen is removed, it is not known how or where the Lymphoma will show itself. We will have to be very observant, and vigilant in regular check-ups at Rita’s veterinarian as well as Rita’s oncologist.  She will be seen once a month by the oncologist for the next year, and more frequently by her primary veterinarian.  Even with Rita’s current heart issue, there are treatment options if relapse occurs, if she is deemed healthy enough at the time to receive those treatments.

Dr. Risbon said that preventative medications (flea/tick/heart worm) are fine to continue, but it is recommended to hold off on vaccinations in order to reduce unnecessary stimulation of the immune system.

This Week’s Treat

WINner WINner, chicken dinner! After Rita’s WIN in her first battle with Lymphoma, she sampled the Big Chicken Deluxe sandwich (minus the lettuce and tomato) at Checkers !

I will continue to post updates with any visits to the veterinarian, cardiologist, or oncologist.

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

Margarita Featured in BluePearl’s Newsletter

Margarita’s Lymphoma case and how it was “accidentally” discovered was very unique.  BluePearl, owner of VSEC, contacted me to see if they could feature Margarita in their newsletter, and of course, we said yes.  Below is the story published by BluePearl:

 

Last January, the Beadlings woke up to what would later lead them to a life-changing discovery: Margarita’s canine lymphoma.

LEVITTOWN, Pa. – On the night of January 7, Jenny and Brian Beadling were suddenly woken up by their beloved English Pointer, Margarita (Rita). Rita was pacing anxiously around the bedroom, urinating uncontrollably, and refused to eat. Worried by this unusual behavior, Jenny called their veterinarian the next morning and made an appointment for that evening.

Dr. Helen E. Campbell, veterinarian and owner of Old York Veterinary Hospital, examined Rita and ordered an ultrasound and bloodwork. Results showed that Rita had a 2.5 cm splenic mass and was anemic. Realizing that the symptoms may be caused by something more, Dr. Campbell referred Jenny and Brian to Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC) in Levittown, Pa.

After consulting with a radiologist and an internal medicine specialist at VSEC, Jenny and Brian met with VSEC veterinary surgeon, Dr. Jennifer MacLeod. Dr. MacLeod reviewed the case and recommended that Rita undergo exploratory surgery to remove her spleen, and have a biopsy of her liver and intestines.

“Unlike children, pets can’t tell you where it hurts, or how they’re feeling, so that makes our job as parents and the veterinarian’s job very difficult,” explained Jenny. “In Rita’s case, we had to rely solely on observed behavior and diagnostic testing. Although Brian and I were worried about the procedures, we were hopeful that the results would bring us closer to a diagnoses.”

To Jenny and Brian’s disappointment, malignant cells were found in Rita’s spleen and on March 13, she was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. At this time, Rita was also diagnosed with chronic hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“Brian and I were in disbelief when we were informed of her diagnosis,” Jenny noted. “But we knew that she was in really good hands. Not only did Rita’s medical team take time to answer all of our questions, but with each response, we felt more confident, empowered, and mentally prepared to assist our fur-child in fighting the most difficult battle of her life.”

To improve Rita’s overall health and make her better equipped to handle cancer treatment, Dr. Campbell prescribed her steroids and put her on a specific diet aimed to treat canine IBD.

Once Rita was ready to begin cancer treatment, the Beadling’s were again referred to see a specialist at VSEC. This time it was oncologist, Dr. Rebecca Risbon. Dr. Risbon explained Rita’s diagnoses of Stage IV/A Lymphoma and recommended chemotherapy.

“The duration of the treatment depended on the type of cancer, the extent of the disease, and how responsive Rita would be to the treatment,” said Dr. Risbon. “Working closely with Jenny’s veterinarian, we determined the best plan for Rita, which, in addition to the chemotherapy, included additional exams and tests such as blood work and ultrasounds to monitor her overall health and cancer status,” Dr. Risbon explained. “Any changes in Rita’s eating, drinking, or elimination habits, signs of illness, or changes in behavior are relayed from Jenny to her veterinarian, and then onto myself. It’s a necessary partnership that leads to better patient care and outcomes.”

Today, Rita is on her final weeks of chemotherapy. As a reward after her weekly appointments, Jenny treats Rita to a “cheat day,” which has included licks of a Rita’s peanut butter milkshake, bites of a Taco Bell cheesy roll up, and nibbles of a Wendy’s cheese burger.

By working collaboratively, Dr. Campbell and VSEC specialists got to the root of Rita’s unusual symptoms, and developed a customized treatment plan that they hope will extend Rita and the Beadling’s time together.

“Brian and I are grateful to have had such an amazing medical team to educate and guide us through this difficult process,” Jenny expressed. “As Margarita approaches the home-stretch of her chemotherapy plan, we are hopeful that her future will not only bring us many more occasions to spoil our fury kid, but also open up opportunities for her as a registered Therapy Dog to comfort and inspire others experiencing similar challenges.”

Be a Warrior, Not a Worrier

Week 13 Recap and Oncology Visit #14

“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

Margarita has been the ultimate Warrior.  Both her primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell,  as well as her oncologist, Dr. Risbon, have told me that Margarita is doing much better than some dogs do when going through chemo.  Not only do some dogs have many more or worse side effects, but some dogs unfortunately aren’t even able to complete the 16-week plan for different reasons.  I am in awe of Sweet Reet’s strength and resilience, and she has inspired me to transform my worrier tendencies into Warrior energy these past 13 weeks.

As her PAWrent, it was extremely difficult at times over the last 13 weeks to clear my mind of distress, transform that negative energy into the positive strength needed to make clear decisions, and to physically and emotionally assist Margarita in her most important battle.  Keeping a calm, upbeat demeanor was important to me, knowing the vibes I emitted would undoubtedly transfer to Margarita.  A positive attitude and a calm, gentle peaceful voice made her feel happy and secure.  Like all dogs, Margarita is extremely sensitive to silent communication as well – so it was just as important for me to keep my mood and body language optimistic, despite the anxiety and heartache that I felt.

However, the mind is a treacherous battlefield, and if I was not careful…if I let my guard down jus a little…the Warrior in me disintegrated into a worrier instantaneously. So what have I done to help train my heart and mind to be a Warrior like Sweet Reet?  Call me crazy – but I watched Rita – closely.  Despite not feeling well 100% of the time, I saw Rita still take joy in small things.  Undeterred by the side effects of chemo, she still woke up with her tail wagging and happy to be alive.  Her bravery and endurance truly inspired me to start each day anew with an optimistic mind and happy heart, no matter what transpired the day before.  How do you like that? SHE was the one going through battle, yet she was helping ME all along…A true example of a Warrior.

Week 13 Recap

The week following her treatment day was great.  Margarita did not have any reactions to the Vincristine, and was feeling well enough to enjoy a trip to Maine with us.  The hair from her splenectomy surgery area has not grown back yet – which we kind of expected. But more recently, Margarita has had a bit of hair loss in her face, and some pigment discoloration in her muzzle.  Below are not the best of pictures, but I tried to show a “before'” (left side) and “current” (right side) for comparison.

We first noticed that her nose, the skin around her eyes and lips, and her muzzle were all turning darker:

Then we noticed hair loss on her face…

…and on her muzzle:

Definitely some noticeable changes – but still one of the prettiest gals we know!

Oncology Visit 14

Margarita’s CBC revealed a very mild drop in her white blood cell count, but the levels were still acceptable for continued therapy. Her physical examination was normal, and her weight was stable.  Dr. Risbon said that after the chemotherapy is completed, Margarita’s hair should fill back in, and she should regain the original pink coloring in her muzzle.

This Week’s Treatment

Dr. Risbon changed the treatment for today.  Rita was supposed to have Cyclophosphamide today.  However, the last time Rita had Cyclophosphamide, she displayed was suspected to be  sterile hemorrhagic cystitis , a side effect with this drug seen in about 10% of dogs.  To be sure this didn’t happen again, the Cyclophosphamide was substituted with Chlorambucil .

This Week’s Treat

This week’s treat was extra special.  Margarita surprised her 2-legged cousin, James on his last day of school!

First car in the Parent Pick-Up Line!

Margarita was patiently waiting for James.

James was happy and surprised to see Rita when he opened his door!

Rita’s Grammy drove us all to get a treat.

We went to Evergreen Dairy Bar . This well-known restaurant and ice cream stand opened in 1949 and is a popular spot for locals, as well as road-trippers passing by on their way to or from the Jersey Shore.

James and Margarita enjoyed a hot dog for lunch.  As you can see, Rita thinks her lunch is lip-smackin’-good!

Diggin’-In!

After lunch, James and Margarita also enjoyed a delicious ice cream treat!

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

Seacoast DockDogs Hosts “Hops and Hounds” at Raitt Homestead Farm Museum; Eliot, Maine

This was our first time competing at this event.  We were super-excited since we were able to camp on the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum for the entire weekend!

Limoncello:  Team Coach

In between yelling at the boys and after the competition, Cello had a chance to jump off the dock and swim in the pool. In our eyes, she won 1st Place for prettiest girl on the dock this weekend.

Hooch

Hooooooooooooch had a great weekend! He is brand new to competing in Speed Retrieve and Iron Dog AND to learning the Chase Method during Big Air … and he rocked the dock in all 3 areas, despite the mistakes his Mama made, and with him being a beginner in all three “new” games! We have a lot to work on as a team, but I am so proud of this little guy!!

Big Air:

20’3″

22’0″

Finals:

21’2″    🥉3rd Place Elite Division Big Air Finals

Extreme Vertical:

6’0″     🥉3rd Place Top Gun Division

Speed Retrieve:

6.690 seconds 🏅New Personal Best score!

Iron Dog:

2939.05 points    🥈2nd Place Gladiator Division 
🥉Out of all the competitors this weekend, Hooch won 3 Place Overall in the Iron Dog competition!

Lager

Lager started off the weekend in a little bit of a slump, and was hesitating a bit on the dock. He pulled it together by the end of the competition though!

Big Air:

17’6″

17’8″      2nd Place Senior Division

19’10”    1st Place Senior Division

Finals:

20’1″     🥇1st Place Senior Division Big Air Finals

Speed Retrieve:

7.310 seconds    🥉3rd Place Turbo Division Speed Retrieve

The announcer at this event was a Massachusettes Law Enforcement Officer, and he “coined” Lager! The history of “coining” began in the ancient Roman army, where coins were presented as rewards.  The U.S. tradition goes back to the 1960’s.  A member of hte 11th SFG over-stamped old coins with a new emblem.  The 10th SFG was the fist to mint a custom coin and remained the only Army unit with its own coin until the 1980’s.  Originally the coins were given to recognized outstanding achievements. They are now used to build unit morale and cohesion. During the Vietnam Era, the “challenge-response” was added to the tradition. A soldier can be “challenged” to show his or her unit coin. Those that cannot have to “buy a round.”

 

Margarita:  Team Cheerleader

Sweet Reet took a break from cheering on the team and caught up on some beauty rest this weekend in preparation to kick some Lymphoma butt this week!!! 💪🏼.

Whiskey

Despite the brand new toys Mom bought for this competition, Wish the Fish decided she would rather be a Land Shark this weekend, and timed-out in her jumps.

 

Porter:  Team Manager

Porter had a great day of napping and taking walks around the farm on Saturday.

However, even though his meds have just been increased, the second night on the farm around 10pm he had another series of seizures. Luckily, his emergency injection of Midazolam brought him out of the seizures and he did not have to go to the ER. It had been 20 days since his last episode.

Overall, we had a great trip to Maine and enjoyed this competition!

Believe: Let Your Faith Be BIGGER Than Your Fear

Week 12 Recap, and Oncology Visit #13

Believe…Accept what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be.

As Margarita moves into her last 3 weeks of the CHOP plan, I must admit I let fear start to creep in.  What if when the treatments stop the cancer comes back? If the Lymphoma does come back, how long do we have left with Sweet Reet?  I realize that negative feelings like fear and anxiety are normal emotions when dealing with a loved one who has cancer, but living with the uncertainty will not be easy.  Eliminating these limiting thoughts will be extremely important in the upcoming weeks.  Believing in my faith and Rita’s medical team will put myself in the best position to not only make it through this difficult time myself, but also to ensure that Rita is in the best spirits possible. The power of belief is an amazing thing. Countless stories describe how believing has helped people accomplish goals that others have considered impossible. It would be foolish for me to believe that every story ends happily, no matter how much faith and belief is exercised. However… I am going to choose to believe that Margarita still has many happy chapters to add to her story.

Week 12 Recap

Margarita had another great week, other than her putting her paw down about her special diet for her intestinal disease.  Rita decided that she had enough of her special diet and would not eat.  At first we thought she was experiencing nausea as a side effect of her treatments, but we quickly realized that was not the case when we offered her other options and she gobbled them down!  Originally we were going to wait-her-out until she ate her special diet, but after speaking with our primary vet, Dr. Campbell as well as Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon, they agreed that it was best for Rita to eat what she wanted to eat rather than miss an meals during this important time of her treatment schedule.

This week, Margarita received an incredibly thoughtful gift. A past Pointer Rescue, Org adopter had this beautiful piece of artwork made just for Margarita!

This Week’s Treatment:

Margarita ‘s physical exam showed no abnormalities, and her CBC was acceptable for continued therapy.

Next week she is due for cyclophosphamide.  Since this is the drug that is suspected to have caused the side effects at the last dosing, Dr. Risbon will be changing Rita’s chemo drug in order to avoid further irritation to her bladder.

This Week’s Treat:

This week Rita visited Taco Bell! She had a few bites of their Cheesy Roll Up !

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

 

Lila

On June 9, 2019 we had the pleasure of transporting sweet Lila for Pointer Rescue, Org to help her get to her foster home in Vermont.

Lila is a 3 year old Pointer who was found near a plantation in Georgia. She is very timid in new situations and afraid of loud noises. She is good with calm dogs, but does not appreciate hyper dogs. Lila is heart worm negative.

Lila was super sweet and had an adorable spot on the top of her head!

Lila fell fast asleep and used her stuffed monkey as a pillow!

To find out more about Lila or other adoptable PRO Pointers, please visit pointerrescue.org for adoption information to fill out an application. PRO is always looking for foster homes or transport volunteers too!

Welcome to your new life, Lila!

Happy, Alive, and Built to Survive

Week 11 Recap, and Oncology Visit #12

“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.”

Week 11 Recap

We don’t have much to report this week other than Margarita had a good week so far and is officially moving into her last 3-week round of chemotherapy!

The sky last night was pink for Sweet Reet!

Oncology Visit #12

This week was Rita’s “off-week,” where she just had to visit the oncology office for blood work.  Her test results revealed no abnormalities, and another CBC will be repeated prior to her treatment next week.

This Week’s Treat 

Brian and I took Rita to Rita’s Italian Ice !

Rita waited patiently in the truck as her Pop was in line ordering her a yummy treat.

Margarita enjoyed some licks of a peanut butter milkshake!

YUMMY !!!!!!!!!

***REMEMBER***

Early detection is paramount. Stay informed, remain observant, pet your dog often to check for abnormalities, and take your pup to your family veterinarian regularly. If you are not sure how to check your pup for the more obvious cancer signs, click HERE for a comprehensive guide. Please also remember to take into consideration any other observations that may be out of the ordinary such as:

  • abnormal swellings that continue to grow
  • sores that do not heal despite antibiotics by mouth or an ointment applied topically
  • weight-loss that cannot be explained by a weight-loss diet
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty eating and/or swallowing
  • bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • offensive odors
  • reluctance to exercise or loss of stamina
  • persistent lameness or stiffness
  • difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

 

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

When Cancer Bites, Bite Back

Week 10 Recap and Oncology Visit #11

“There will be roadblocks, but we will overcome them.” ~ DJ Khaled

Cancer tried to take another bite out of Reet this week, but she bit back!  The dogs were outside enjoying the beautiful weather this past Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday evening.  Margarita was laying in the grass when she suddenly popped up and nervously began to pace, pant, and spin.   It quickly became apparent that she was straining to urinate.  We knew the drug used in her last chemo treatment (Cyclophosphamide) causes sterile hemorrhagic cystitis  in approximately 10% of the dogs.  Symptoms include straining during urination, urinating small amounts frequently, incontinence, or blood in her urine.  She had this same treatment during week 2 of her chemotherapy, and did not have any complications.  However, what we were observing was exactly what we were cautioned to look our for.  We followed the protocol and called VSEC to share our observations, and their suggestion was to bring her in to the emergency room for evaluation.

On the way to the ER

While Rita was at VSEC, they performed the following:

  • Physical exam
    • No concerning findings
  • Ultrasound
    • Revealed that her bladder was slightly inflamed
  • Blood work to check her kidney and liver values
  • Urinalysis
    • Results were normal

ER Treatment:

Know What to Expect

Nice try, cancer – but this was just a hiccup, and won’t hold Margarita back in her progress. I had prepared my self each week for Rita’s chemo treatments by reviewing the side effects for each week’s drugs with Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon.  Each week I show up with a notebook and pen ask what side effects to expect, in what time frame we should see symptoms, and what to do if Rita begins to feel poorly.  I also often refer back to the “What to Expect” list I was given during our first oncology appointment. This keeps my mind from racing and reduces my anxiety if I happen to see something out of the ordinary.

More Ways to Help Your Fur-Kid Take a Bite Out of Cancer:

Chemotherapy kills the cancer, but also is extremely harsh on the body.  During chemo – especially during the “hiccups” that may arise – we wanted to be sure Margarita’s body was as equipped as could be to fight these little “side battles” if needed.  After speaking with others who have been through chemotherapy with their fur-kid, Rita’s primary veterinarian, and her oncologist, we chose a special diet and specific supplements to best prepare Rita’s body for it’s best defense against the chemotherapy and possible side effects.

Diet

There are many articles that suggest certain diets for canine cancer patients (most are carbohydrate-free / sugar-free diets).  However, Margarita is a unique, complex case, and therefore is on a special prescription diet due to her intestinal disease. Other than her weekly “cheat day” after her chemo appointment, we stick to her special diet as close as possible.  Every dog’s nutritional needs before, during , and after cancer and through chemotherapy are unique,  and should be discussed in detail with your primary vet as well as your pup’s oncologist.

Supplements

We chose to add supplements to Margarita’s diet to help strengthen, support, and balance her immune system.  Just like the main diet, supplements should be discussed with your primary vet and your dog’s oncologist as to which ones are appropriate for your pup’s individual needs and diagnosis.  Also be sure to ask your oncologist about a schedule of administering these supplements, as some antioxidants and ingredients will decrease the effectiveness of the chemo if given too close before or after your fur-kid’s treatment day.  Here are the supplements we chose for Margarita:

  • Fish Oil
    • Shown to improve survival times slightly in dogs with Lymphoma by helping to boost the immune system
  • CAS Options
    • A powerful blend of four functional mushrooms: Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, and Turkey Tail,  combined with antioxidants to provide extra strength immune support. Formulated to support and balance the immune system to promote overall health and well-being for pets, especially during times of stress
  • Nupro Silver
    • Holistic product, it will provide your dog with the full range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and essential omega fatty acids which promotes optimal overall health and well-being
  • Natural form bee pollen
    • Known to help reduce side effects of chemotherapy
      • Be sure to choose unprocessed
  • Probiotic
    • Beneficial bacteria that can exhibit anticancer properties.
    • Margarita also has an intestinal disease so the safe and effective strain of beneficial bacteria in a probiotic promotes and restores normal intestinal microflora for her.

Oncology Visit # 11

Margarita’s physical exam was normal, and her blood work displayed appropriate levels to continue chemotherapy.  Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon, suggested that we continue the Rymadyl and Oxybutynin Chloride until next week’s visit to help with her bladder issues.  Dr. Risbon was not overly concerned about Rita’s elevated ALT value.

Treatment

During this week’s treatment, Margarita received Adriamycin intravenously.

  • We are to monitor the site for any inflammation, oozing, or discharge.
  • Side effects of this treatment may cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and/or diarrhea.
    • As  a preventative, we were sent home with:
        1. Cerenia 24 mg
          • To be given (2 tablets) once a day for 5 days to prevent nausea/vomiting
        2. Metronidazole 250 mg
          • To be given (1 tablet twice a day) at the first sign of loose stool/diarrhea

This Week’s Treat

This week’s cheat day was a visit to Wendy’s !

Margarita enjoyed a few bites of a bacon cheese burger and a couple of chili cheese fries!

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

Sport

Meet our Pointer Rescue, Org transport buddy, Sport!

We transported this cutie patootie on May 25, 2019.  Sport is 6.5 yr old blind Pointer and belonged to a huge hunting preserve in NC. He suffered an infection, which caused him to lose sight in one eye then the other. His owner was going to just euthanize him but an employee convinced him to let him find a home for Sport. Although he has never lived inside, Sport loves people, and craves attention. Sport is Heartworm negative.

Sport was an absolute doll during our 1 hour ride.

He loved to cuddle!

I am thrilled we were lucky enough to spend some time with this sweet soul!

No One Fights Alone

Week 9 Recap and Oncology Visit #10

“When someone has cancer, the whole family, and everyone that loves them does too.”  ~Terri Clark

When we first found out about Margarita’s diagnosis, there was no question or hesitation for us to put all other things on hold if needed, and fight right alongside Rita in her biggest battle.  We vowed to do anything we could to help our 4-legged family member survive, as long as her medical advocates deemed the actions appropriate to continue to improve Rita’s quality of life. We are extremely fortunate to have an amazing medical team behind Rita, whom we trust wholeheartedly.  Our family has been understanding, encouraging, and sympathetic. Additionally, thanks to dog sports and social media, we are beyond blessed to have a large network of extended family and friends who have not only been equally supportive, but also have been invaluable resources.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t come across those who do not understand, or cannot relate to our efforts or our bond with our 4-legged family member.  I’ve been asked by people who don’t know our family well:  “You’re getting chemo for your…DOG?!?!”… “Is it really worth it?” … In keeping the tone of Margarita’s documented journey positive, I won’t even go there – just consider yourself extremely lucky if you are like us and have friends and family who support your efforts to help your fur-child fight such a serious disease.  At the same time, be prepared as a PAWrent to be criticized or questioned by those who “don’t get it,” and think your 4-legged child is “just a dog.”

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JUST A DOG

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog,” just smile–because they “just don’t understand.”

~Author Unknown

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If you cross paths with those who don’t quite understand the love you have for your fur-child, you may start to doubt yourself – or may wind up feeling alone and helpless. In addition to the possibility of unsupportive friends and family, you could have financial constraints or other situations that may make chemotherapy difficult or impossible.  Remember:  NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE! There is support in each area that you can find elsewhere to assist you in your part of the battle to save your pup.  First and foremost, ask your veterinarian and/or oncologist if they can suggest any helpful and reputable emotional and/or financial support groups.  I’m sure there are others out there if you search, but below are some options for emotional, informational and financial support that I found either through a friend’s suggestion, or a quick Google Search.

Emotional or Informational Support:

  1. Put out a post on social media
    • You will be surprised at how many others have been through cancer with their pup, and can provide some very helpful tips and information
  2. Pick up a copy of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide
    • This book was recommended to us by a friend of ours whose dog also battled cancer
  3. A list of suggested reading from Help Your Dog Fight Cancer :
  4. Watch The Dog Cancer Series
    • Also recommended to our by a friend of ours whose dog also battled cancer
  5. Join a Facebook support group such as the examples below or search for groups on Facebook specific to your dog’s needs:

Financial Support 

  1. If you have pet insurance, contact them to see what they will cover
  2. Apply to CareCredit.
  3. Attempt to secure a bank loan.
  4. Contact the organizations below, or search for others:
    • The Magic Bullet Fund
      • Nationwide financial assistance for people who have a dog with cancer but cannot afford treatment costs.
    • The Pet Fund
      • Assists owners in covering medical costs beyond the normal expenses of vaccination, spay and neuter surgeries, food and routine veterinary care.
    • Brown Dog Foundation
      • This organization is dedicated to helping families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis at the same time their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications.
    • The Onyx and Breezy Foundation
      • This is a privately run nonprofit started in memory of the founder’s dogs.  This foundation has helped animals in a variety of ways: from spay/neuter programs, to getting dogs on death row out of high-kill shelters, to providing emergency medical care to animals whose owners have fallen on hard times.
    • Breed-Specific Support
      • There are many rescue groups and associations that support specific dog breeds. Reach out to your local breed clubs for information on local, state and national groups involved in dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs. Examples include groups like CorgiAidSpecial Needs DobermansLabMedPit Bull Rescue Central.
    • Joshua Louis Animal Care Foundation
      • Assists owners of pets who are in need of cancer treatment.
    • The Mosby Fund
      • Provides financial assistance for dogs in need of critical care.
    • The Riedel & Cody Fund
      • Provides hope, knowledge and funding for owners of companion animals diagnosed with cancer.
    • RedRover Relief
      • Assists animals in crisis through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education.
    • Rose’s Fund
      • Financially assists pet owners and Good Samaritans who have an animal with a good prognosis for a healthy life, but are at a financial loss.

Week 9 Recap

The week following Oncology Visit #9 was a good one!  Rita experienced some mild diarrhea on day two after her treatment, but one Metronidazole did the trick, and she had normal bowl movements the rest of the week leading up to oncology visit #10.

If you have been following along with us for a while, you are probably tired of hearing me say how blessed we are to have found ourselves involved in GSP Rescue of NJ , Pointer Rescue, Org ,  and  DockDogs – and our ever-growing extended family that came about because of those groups.  I am blown away with the continued friendship, support, motivational messages, prayers, gifts, and gestures from these wonderful people.

This week, one of our extended-family members who attends daily mass lit a candle for Rita and prayed to St. Rita of Cascia on the St. Rita’s Feast Day this week (May 22).

Another one of our extended-family members sent us two of the “No One Fights Alone” Lymphoma bracelets from the Delmarva DockDogs Canine Cancer fund raiser she orchestrated in the name of our Sweet Reet at the last Delmarva DockDogs event.  This amazing woman had no idea that my “theme” this week was going to be No One Fights Alone!

 

Oncology Visit #10

On our way to VSEC with some new “bling!”

This week Margarita’s passed her physical exam with flying colors, and her CBC was normal (aside form the mild anemia that is continuously monitored).  Margarita’s chemotherapy this week is an oral medication that is administered by us at home.

This Week’s Treatment:

  • Cyclophosphamide 40mg
    • Give 2 tablets by mouth on 5/22, and 5/23 and 1 tablet by mouth on 5/24
      • Wear gloves
      • Do not split/crush tablets
    • This drug can cause some irritation to the bladder (called sterile hemorrhagic cystitis).  This week we will have to monitor Rita for straining during urination, urinating small amounts frequently, incontinence, or blood in her urine.

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This Week’s Treat

Margarita was excited to indulge in some grilled chicken nuggets and waffle fries from Chick-fil-A !

Grilled nuggets!!

Waffle fries!

Have a great week, everyone!

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

 

Be Your Dog’s Hero: Chase Away Canine Cancer

Week 7 Recap and Oncology Visit #8

Margarita had a slightly rough time this past week, but she did get to spend some time outside enjoying the softness of our newly sodded yard.

The side effects of chemo usually show up 3-5 days after the treatment day.  Although we started her on anti-nausea medication on the day of her treatment as a preventative, by Sunday Margarita was very lethargic and was not interested at all in food. This continued for about 3 days.  However, she slowly began to find food enjoyable again, and ate well the rest of the week.

Oncology Visit # 8

This was Rita’s “off” week for treatments, which meant she only needed to get blood work and a physical exam done to make sure she was healthy enough to continue treatment.  Her CBC showed no abnormalities, and her nurse noted that Rita was a good girl during her visit!

This Week’s Treat:

This week we stopped at Arby’s !  Margarita enjoyed a few bites of a roast beef and cheese slider.

She also had a curly fry for the first time!

 

“Chase” Away Canine Cancer

Chase away Canine Cancer is a division of the National Canine Cancer Foundation, and is an organization that is near and dear to our hearts. Chase was a female black Labrador Retriever, who was an Elite division dock diving competitor.  Her PAWrent, Cera Reusser, discovered a lump under Chase’s chin while petting her. The lump turned out to be metastasized cancer, which spread from nasal carcinoma. Unfortunately, even after the best possible care from her oncologist , Chase lost her battle to cancer, and passed away three months shy of her seventh birthday. Chase’s steadfast devotion to her family and her courage throughout her battle earned her the title of hero.

Cera became Chase’s Hero

Driven by the loss of her beloved Chase, and determined to find a cure for this devastating disease, Cera Reusser committed herself to being a hero for Chase, and set out on a mission to do all she could to help others in this difficult battle.  Through fundraising and the start of Chase Away Canine Cancer, Cera’s efforts in conjunction with hundreds of volunteers and donations from across the USA & Canada have made a huge difference in the fight against canine cancer.

Chase Away Canine Cancer posts resources for people who have fur-kids battling cancer.    Click HERE to view the current posts.

Chase Away Canine Cancer also has a volunteer-run online store , which carries products such as the personalized reversible bandana Rita is wearing in this post.  Profits from the K9 Trading Company’s sale of Chase Away Canine Cancer merchandise go directly toward the Chase Away Canine Cancer Organization. A portion of all other merchandise on the site also goes to Chase Away Canine Cancer.

How can you be YOUR dog’s hero?

  • Take a few minutes to do a body check each month.
    • Choose a monthly date (Chase away Canine Cancer suggests the 14th since this was Chase’s birthday) and do a body check on this date each month. The National Canine Cancer Foundation has graphics you can print out or save to help guide you through your monthly checks:
  • Be sure to schedule and attend your dog’s routine veterinary appointments.  
    • Follow up with an additional exam outside of your routine appointments if you observe something suspicious
  • Keep notes on any growths or abnormal behavioral observations
    • This will help you track important information about your dog’s health, and also will be helpful if you need to share notes to your veterinarian or a specialist on quick notice

As you may have read in our very first post about how we found Margarita’s Lymphoma, we did not discover any lumps. Sometimes cancer does not show itself in the form of visible lumps bumps. So what do you look for?  The National Canine Cancer Foundation lists these top 10 early warning signs of Cancer:

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  2. Sores that do not heal
  3. weight loss
  4. loss of appetite
  5. bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  6. offensive odor
  7. difficulty eating or swallowing
  8. hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  9. persistent lameness or stiffness
  10. difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecation

 

Thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

 

 

 

Too Blessed to be Stressed

Week 4 Recap and Oncology Visit #5

“Count your blessings, not your problems.” ~ Roy T. Bennett

Week 4 Recap

We have so many blessings in our lives, but our problems tend to cloud our eyes and our heart to all of the special people and moments we have to celebrate.  Even during life’s most difficult times,  we need to make sure we focus on the blessings in our life and celebrate every day.

We are blessed to have a loving, supportive, and understanding family, and a large network of amazing friends and extended family… all who support us in our wild adventures and our passion for 4-legged children.

This week we are grateful for a particular family member who was able to bless Margarita.  Reverend George Deutsch (pronounced “DOYTCH”) is my soon-to-be 90 year old dog-loving great uncle.  He is still saying mass and doing confessions! I called him when Rita was having an awful week and asked if he would be willing to bless our Sweet Reet.  Not only did he say yes, he insisted on driving an hour to meet us after he finished confessions last Saturday! Of course he also brought his beloved dog, Lady, with him! Lady and Rita were fast friends!

Rita loved Uncle George!

Uncle George blessing Rita:

Blessed with Holy Water:

We are also thankful this week to the special people we have met because of our dogs.  Some we see often, others we have never even met in person.  It amazes me how many truly wonderful people there are in this world, and it fills my heart with peace, joy, and hope to know that they not only support us, they also truly love our fur-kids as family too.  The messages, advice, and prayers we have received is what energizes us to press on, and stay strong to help Rita through her journey.  We have also received very thoughtful gifts for Margarita.  It was because of Margarita that we began volunteering for Pointer Rescue, Org , where we met Jackie, also a PRO volunteer. This week, Jackie sent Margarita a hand-made quilt to help comfort her during her treatments!

We have our pack to thank for our extended family members, and we are truly blessed to have every one of them in our lives.

Health-wise Margarita had a GREAT week.  She was in good sprits, ate well, and was more active than we’ve seen her in quite some time!  She did, of course, make sure she still set some time aside for porch-sittin’ with Limoncello.

 

Oncology Visit #5

This week Margarita was scheduled at VSEC to have an an ultrasound and more blood work to make sure she was able to handle the next treatment.

We received the awesome news that Margarita’s ultrasound looked normal!  We were also very happy to hear that she had rebounded from that super-low white blood cell count she had last week!  This meant she was also cleared to receive her next treatment.

Today Margarita received Vincristine intravenously.  Her oncology nurse said she was an absolute angel, and her oncologist, Dr. Risbon, said she is pleased with her progress so far! We have to monitor the sight for any inflammation, oozing, or discharge, but there are no restrictions for Rita, which means we can go on our annual Easter camping trip this coming weekend(YAY!!).

Last oncology visit we discussed adding supplements into Margarita’s diet.  After further discussion with Dr. Risbon about Margarita’s unique case, we are going to just stick with probiotics for now to help with Rita’s intestinal disease.  Dr. Risbon informed us that the other supplements we were going to add need to be carefully thought-out and planned around any Adriamycin treatments, as they are abundant in antioxidants.  Wait – Since when are antioxidants a bad thing, right??! Our thoughts exactly.  As we researched the answer to this and spoke to our primary Veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, we learned that when healthy cells are oxidized, it is a bad thing…which is why antioxidants are so good for you.  BUT…oxidizing cancer cells destroys them…so that’s a good thing…a bit confusing at first!  If you provide cancer cells that are in the process of being oxidized (destroyed) through the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin, with something that stops the oxidation process, the cancer cells get stronger again and continue to harm the body.  We will continue to discuss our options outside of chemotherapy that can help Margarita with both Dr. Risbon and Dr. Campbell, and will be prepared to adjust our plan if advised.

Margarita is lucky to now have TWO home-made quilts to snuggle with on the way home after her visit.

She took a well-deserved nap on the way home!

This week’s treat

Margarita had to fast for her ultrasound, so I took her to two places to make up for the “absolute torture” she had to endure before her appointment.

First, we stopped at Philly Pretzel Factory where Rita enjoyed (part of) a pretzel dog.  We saved the rest for another time so we didn’t “over do” it.

Next, we stopped at K-9 Kakes , a bakery just for dogs!

Dave the Baker greeted Margarita with some samples.

Margrarita had fun shopping and telling Dave the Baker which treats she wanted!

All the treats at this bakery are made on the premises by Dave the Baker, and decorated by his daughter.  Ingredients are all-natural and preservative-free, the coloring/dye is all natural, and the icing is made with sugar free yogurt!

Thanks, Dave!

Thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

 

Awareness is Power

3rd Treatment Recap and Oncology Visit # 4 

Week Three’s treatment went just as Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon, said it might – rough.  Not at first though.  The first couple of days Margarita ate well and was in good spirits.

At our last visit (Wednesday, April 3), Dr. Risbon warned that Margarita may have the worst week ahead of her in regard to her treatments so far.  She noted that the side effects of nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and/or diarrhea could begin in about three to five days after her treatment.  Right on cue, three days later – on Friday, Margarita was visibly not feeling well, and not interested in food.  We tried all of our normal “tricks”… canned dog food, cream cheese, Spam, rotisserie chicken, cheese, eggs, bread, bacon, sausage… but she wasn’t interested.

By Saturday morning, Margarita was moving very slowly. She had some diarrhea and had mucus in her stool.  We called our veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, on Saturday morning to give her an update.  She let us know that she could call in an appetite stimulant if she continued not to eat.  She also told us to try parmesan cheese sprinkled on the food. Dr. Campbell’s concern was making sure Margarita got back on schedule with eating her prescription diet so that her little system could absorb proteins correctly and assist in the healing process.

Luckily, by Saturday night Rita began to eat a little bit of rotisserie chicken – but nothing else.  With a little coaxing (and some parmesan cheese), Rita did eat some of her prescription food.  Dr. Campbell called us on Sunday afternoon (I’m telling you – “they don’t make ’em” like her anymore!!) to check on Rita, who had been enjoying some Sunday Morning porch-sittin’, and some afternoon sunbathing.

Monday was a decent day where Margarita ate some food, but still appeared to not be feeling well.

 

Oncology Visit #4

This week’s visit consisted of meeting with the Oncology nurse, and getting blood work drawn.

Margarita’s CBC revealed a significant neutropenia (the presence of abnormally few white blood cells in the blood, leading to increased susceptibility to infection). In order to prevent infection, Rita was started on an antibiotic:

  • SMZ-TMP:  480mg tablets.
    • 1.5 tablets to be given once a day until finished

Another CBC will be repeated prior to any further chemotherapy treatments.  Margarita is scheduled for a CBC and Ultrasound next week, followed by an appointment with our Oncologist, Dr. Risbon, for continued chemotherapy as long as next week’s test results are acceptable.

This week’s yummy treat was a vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone!

After Margarita enjoyed a few licks, I removed the ice cream and let her enjoy the cone.

Awareness is Power

The greater your awareness, the greater your power.

Awareness is also the greatest agent for change.  One in every three dogs will get cancer… One… In…three!  Now THAT’s something that needs to change. The more PAWrents know about the facts and preventative measures,  the better we will be able to protect our fur-kids and decrease their odds of getting cancer.

Did you know that Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer seen in dogs?

Be your dog’s eyes: Do a cancer check on your dog at least once a month.  Lumps and bumps can often be easily seen.  But sometimes – like in Margarita’s case – being on the lookout for unusual behaviors and reporting them to your veterinarian is just as important for an early diagnosis and better outcome for your fur-child.

Below are some tips on how to do a canine cancer check on your dog.

 

 

Be your dog’s ears and voice:  Speak up and share anything you can about a cancer that has directly affected your fur-kid.  Get people talking – LISTEN AND LEARN! The more stories that are shared, the more educated we become about cancer.  This will result in more awareness raised, more research, and a greater opportunity for us all to take a bite out of canine cancer.

 

Thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

Whiskey Turns ONE !

Whiskey’s First Birthday

December 31, 2018

Birthday breakfast:

Fried Egg, tater tots, bacon, pancakes, and banana

Birthday dinner:

Filet mignon, salmon, mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and pineapple

 

 

Birthday cake:

Birthday fun:

First “Big Girl car ride” using a car harness instead of traveling in a crate with her idol, Limoncello

 

Swimming indoors at Green Leaf Pet Resort with her idol, Limoncello

First Hike at Estell Manor Park

 

Beadling’s English Porter (AKA Porter 182201-P-D-NC)

As soon as our GSP Rescue of NJ foster, Maxeen, went home with her new FURever family, we contacted Pointer Rescue, Org, to let them know we were ready to welcome another foster into our home.  They told us that they had a female pointer named Lacey, who was in danger so we told them we’d foster her.  A few minutes later, they sent another message that they had a safe place for Lacey, but a young male who was found as a stray was just days away from being euthanized in a high kill shelter in North Carolina.  We immediately responded that we would foster him.  I asked what his name was… Porter! 🍺

Porter’s transport was set, and he was to arrive in New Jersey on December 15th.

Porter in the NC shelter:

Porter was picked up at the shelter in North Carolina by a PRO volunteer and taken to a veterinarian.

Porter in the veterinarian’s office in North Carolina:

Great friends of ours signed up to do the last two legs of the transport and bring him directly to our home!

With a name like Porter, we had to give him a big Liver Killer welcome of beer-themed toys and even a beer themed collar!

Porter was completely emaciated and exhausted from his travels.

Porter was “weighed-in” on our antique scale.

Porter did nothing but sleep for almost an entire week.  He then began to show interest in playing with Whiskey when he started to gain some strength.

On January 2, Porter began to have cluster seizures.  After several months of medication adjustments and trips to the ER, we decided that Porter needed us, and had already found his FURever family. On May 9, 2019 we officially adopted Porter!

 

 

Agatha: GSP Rescue of NJ Foster

Agatha is a three year-old German Shorthaired Pointer who was found as a stray in Northern New Jersey.  GSP Rescue of NJ stepped in to help this sweet girl.  Agatha was on stray-hold for a week, and then was spayed by the rescue’s vet in North Jersey.

 

On November 16th, we drove north about an hour to a turnpike rest-stop to meet a fellow rescue volunteer who offered to transport Agatha so we didn’t have to drive as far to pick her up.

Agatha had a stuffed monkey to help her heal from her surgery.

Once we met her in person, we quickly agreed that Agatha looked more like an English Pointer than a German Shorthaired Pointer.

 

Another fellow GSP Rescue volunteer who had seen our pictures of Agatha on our Facebook, fell in love, and decided to adopt her!

One of my students fell in love with Agatha and drew her picture as a gift to her forever family.

Just a few days later, on the night before Thanksgiving, the rescue volunteer and her husband came to meet Agatha, and took her home!

Happy Thanksgiving, Agatha and Family!

 

 

Whiskey on Pointer Rescue, Organization’s Shirt

While Whiskey was still our Pointer Rescue, Org’s foster dog, “Wish,” I had shared a screen-shot of her from a video I took of her on “point.”

One of the volunteers took that shot and turned it into one of the rescue’s fund-raising shirts!

You can view the fundraising event and buy a shirt by clicking HERE!

We are so proud of our little girl as her image helps other needy Pointers!

Bedford Creek Marina and Campground: Sackets Harbor, NY

On our way to the K9 Central Wild Card Double Header, we stayed overnight for the first time at Bedford Creek Marina and Campground .

We had a nice end spot with room to walk the dogs.

When Rita and I went for our first walk, look at what we saw at someone’s campsite!  I was hoping we’d get to see the GSP, but we didn’t.  Maybe next time!

This campground offers a beach, boat rentals, marina, pizza & ice cream shop, and mini golf!

Margarita and I walked down to see the beach in the morning.

What a view!

Rita enjoyed stalking all the birds!

Taking in the views!

 

This campground was a great stop-over!

K9 Central Wild Card Double Header: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada

This venue by far is our favorite!  The event at K9 Central has camping on site, awesome pool set-up, and some of THE nicest people you will ever meet!

Not only is the venue our favorite, the easy drive, and the beautiful scenery add to the enjoyment of our road trip.

One of the most exciting parts of this journey is the Thousand Islands Bridge.

I am not a fan of bridges – especially narrow ones (yikes!).

However, I do my best to put my fear aside so that I don’t miss out on the beautiful scenery of the Thousand Islands area on either side of the bridge.  The view is gorgeous, and you get to see many of the privately owned islands while crossing the bridge.

 

The past few years we had taken a few extra days off for this trip, so we are usually the first ones there!  We love how close our camper is to the pool!

This was also the first trip in our new camper!

We upgraded to a bigger camper with double slides so we could have more room !


Limoncello:  Team Coach

Limoncello enjoyed lounging in the camper with Margarita.   Coaching Hooch and Lager is a “ruff” job – so Cello relieved some stress by getting a massage from our friend, Marti, at Pawz Therapy.

Hooch

Big Air

  • 22’6″
  • 23’3″  1st Place Elite Division
  • 22’9″
  • 24’1″  1st Place Elite Division
  • 23’3″  1st Place Elite Division
  • 22’9″
  • Big Air Pro Division Finals:  22’6

Extreme Vertical All-in-One Final Format

This probably was the most exciting Extreme Vertical for Hooch and Jenny as a team!  Hooch matched his personal best, grabbed the bumper at 6’6″  and in the end earned 3rd Place Top Gun Division  – but not before Hooch had to go into a “jump-off” with 2 other dogs who were in a 3-way tie with him!

Lager

Big Air 

  • 17’7″
  • 19’1″
  • 20’9″  2nd Place Master Division
  • 18’6″  2nd Place Senior Division
  • 19’2″  1st Place Senior Division
  • 19’8″ 1st Place Senior Division

Extreme Vertical All-in-One Final Format

  • 6’2″

Speed Retrieve All-in-One Final Format

  • 7.037seconds  1st Place Turbo Division

Iron Dog All-in-One Final Format

  • 2920.34  3rd Place Gladiator Division

Margarita:  Team Cheerleader

Margarita made sure to get her beauty rest in the camper with Limoncello in between cheering-on her siblings during the competition.  She also enjoyed a massage with Marti!

Whiskey (Wish): First Ever DockDogs Competition AND Adoption Day!

Whiskey was still our foster dog, Wish at the time of this trip.  However, she had begun jumping into the lake at home, so I figured, why not try her up on the dock?!?!

We had been calling her “Wish the Fish,” so I bought Whiskey very own “fish wubba” for the dock.

I registered her under the name “WISHkey,” as a guest Liver Killer team member, and hoped for the best! Whiskey not only jumped into the pool, but earned herself a DockDogs World Championship invitation!

Big Air

5’10”

4’3″

7’0″  Second Place Novice Division

6’3″  Second Place Novice Division

We had fallen in love with Whiskey long before this trip, but had been fighting the urge to adopt her.  We decided while on this trip we would no longer fight that fight, and called Pointer Rescue, Organization to let them know we would like to adopt her.  Welcome home, Tennessee Whiskey!

Liver Killer Bling

We had been known for our American Flag team canopy for quite some time now.  Unfortunately, at this event, a huge wind gust came along and mangled it! We have been searching for another one ever since.

This was also not a very good “maiden voyage” in our new camper.   It had rained very hard the last day of this competition, and the ground became extremely muddy. We sank – A LOT – and had to get towed out.

 

Luckily there was no damage done to the camper and we made it safely home!

We can’t wait to come back to Canada next year!

 

 

If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Limoncello: Cello’s Early Retirement

If life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

As the start of our 2018 Dock Diving season quickly approaches, we wanted to share the following with our family, friends and followers:

After some recent testing, Limoncello was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (a heart disease that causes dilation and poor contractility of the heart muscle). It was also discovered that Cello also has two leaky heart valves. After a long and difficult discussion with our veterinarian, it was determined that the best choice for Cello at this time is to retire her from dock diving.

Although we are disappointed that Cello’s dock diving career has come to an end, we are focusing our energy on celebrating her dock diving journey and how it has positively impacted our lives: her many notable accomplishments, the abundance of joy it has brought us, the amazing people we have met, the incredible dogs we have seen, the spectacular places we have visited, and the unforgettable memories we will continue to cherish. …We have SO MUCH to be grateful for because of Cello!

Without Cello on the dock this year, it will be an emotional dock diving season for sure. However, we are so thankful that because of the knowledge, expertise, and advice of Cello’s veterinarian and cardiologist, we were made aware of her condition before the season began. We are also looking at this unfortunate news as a positive opportunity to explore less intense bonding activities with Cello such as Barn Hunt, Nose Work, and Rally. We fondly anticipate learning new things, setting new goals, overcoming new challenges, traveling to new places, meeting more wonderful people, and building additional priceless memories. But above of all – we look forward to the many years of love and companionship we will treasure with Cello.

Even if we don’t understand why at this point, we are firm believers in “change is good” and “all things happen for a reason.” We are hopeful and eager to discover what new adventures will be had as Cello once again broadens our path. However, if Cello decides that in her early retirement she’d rather just relax, we welcome that change-of-pace as well.

Hooch and Lager will still be on the dock this year. We look forward to seeing our dock diving family this season.

 

The Dock Diving Diva’s Personal Bests:

•Big Air (on camera): 25’0”
•Extreme Vertical: 5’6”
•Speed Retrieve: 7.371 seconds
•Iron Dog: 2869.62 points
     *2016 DockDogs #1 Warrior Iron Dog in the World

Photo credit: Precise Video Productions

 

 

Rita’s 2nd Gotcha Day / Rita’s 8-ish Birthday

Happy 2nd Gotcha Day/ 8-ish Birthday to our Sweet Reet!

Rita partied like a rock star as she enjoyed a Starbucks puppuccino…

 

Margarita ran a Flex It Pink 5k to benefit less-fortunate dogs.  Flext It Pink is a company run by two moms who are passionate about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. They began the company in 2013 to support, encourage, educate and empower other women in their healthy lifestyle and fitness journey.  The Run for Rescues 5k benefited the Have a Heart Humane Society , whose mission is to rescue abandoned, abused and injured animals, provide low cost vaccinations and spay/neuter programs, educate the greater Tehachapi community (in CA) about responsible pet ownership, and partner with local organizations to develop and share resources for animal welfare.

 

 

Margarita also did some birthday shopping at Pride Paws  .  Pride Paws’ mission is to provide job training and transitional employment experience to individuals with developmental disabilities who could not independently succeed in a traditional work environment.

 

 

Mom also made some pretty yummy bday meals and treats!

 

Bday yard zoomies:

 

In the past year, Rita has graduated from obedience class, earned her Therapy Dog registration through Alliance of Therapy Dogs, was named the first District Therapy Dog for my school district, and had mastered all necessary obstacles in order to compete in an Agility trial.  We can’t wait to see what adventures are awaiting Rita over the next year!

We love you, Margarita!

Iris

Meet Iris!

She is a 3 year old English Pointer who was found as a stray in GA, and ended up in a kill-shelter where she had limited time. Then a nice volunteer from Pointer Rescue, Organization offered to foster her!

We are happy to have been able to be a part of her freedom-ride up the East Coast to help get her to her foster home in NY!
🌸the Iris flower symbolizes:
Freedom•Hope•Trust•Faith•Valor•Royalty
Check the many  adoptable Pointers on the rescue’s FB page! ✌🏻❤️ 🐾
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Hidden Sands Brewing Company: Egg Harbor Township, NJ

Hidden Sands Brewing Company just opened in 2016, and has a pretty neat story about how they obtain fresh water for their beer.

Hidden Sands Brewing Company dug down to tap the 800 foot deep  fresh water aquifer in the area !

In addition, all Hidden Sands brews are made with quality, locally sourced ingredients.

Getting a closer look at the brewing tanks

Backward Flag Brewing Company: Forked River, NJ

Veteran owned, woman owned, and American crafted!

Backward Flag Brewery has a very cool atmosphere and delicious beer!

Outdoor couch!

 

Pinelands Brewing Company: Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ

Located  in the Jersey Pine Barrens (home of the infamous Jersey Devil – read more about it HERE …and HERE ! ), Pinelands Brewing Company  is a homegrown nano-brewery.

The spirit of the Pinelands influences the names of their signature brews and the laid-back atmosphere in the taproom.

Their water is obtained from the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, which is known to contain some of the best all-natural drinking water in the world.

We enjoyed the beer, atmosphere, and people at this brewery!

Atco Brewing Company: Atco, NJ

Atco Brewing Company  brews in small batches and is located in Southern NJ.

You can view their current beer menu by clicking HERE .  Here’s our flight:

What’s YOUR superpower ?!?!

Sharpies are provided to write your name on the post!

They even have a “Stowaway Membership” that includes:

  • Invite to stowaway events (4 per year) for early access to experimental stowaway brew/recipes
  • Includes one free flight and a pint at each event
  • Reduced price beer at each event
  • 1 Stowaway Pint Glass
  • 1 Stowaway T-Shirt
  • Reduced renewal rate for subsequent years

Berlin Brewing Company: Berlin, NJ

Another day, another brewery! Sniffing out dog friendly watering holes one beer at a time!

Berlin Brewing Company was founded in 2014.

They have an extremely cool tasting room they call the Pastime Tap Room, as it is filled with baseball memorabilia.

Our flight:

 

Sharpies are provided so you can add your name to the flight stand… can you find ours in both of the pics below?

Good beer and good times!  If you visit around Christmas  – we highly suggest the Holly Jolly  Winter Warmer!

Zed’s Beer: Marlton, NJ

Continuing our mission to find ALL the dog-friendly watering holes, a friend of ours told us Zed’s was a “must-try.”  Zed’s Beer is one of the newer breweries in our area.

Geoff Bado received a “Mr. Beer” kit as a gag-gift at Christmas . . . and now, 20 years later,  he is the founder and brewer for Zed’s Beer!

                                                                                    Know what rhymes with Rain? … BEER!

 

As of now, in NJ, breweries in New Jersey, there is a law that requires you be provided a tour of the brewery before purchasing a pint or flight.

The tasting room at Zed’s has a great atmosphere!

 

 

 

                                              Just wishing someone would stop drinking their beer for a second and come pet me!

Salem Oak Vineyards: Pedricktown, NJ

Salem Oak Vineyards in Southern NJ  was super dog friendly!

The wine was yummy, and the tasting room was neat … Best of all – the tasting room was dog-friendly!

                                                                                          We loved the wine box bar-front!

Autumn Lake Winery: Williamstown, NJ

While we were doing a wine tasting at Coda Rossa Winery , our host suggested that after our tasting we try a new winery that was right down the street.

We took the suggestion – and were so glad we did!

This family-run winery is set on beautiful grounds where you can take your dog for walks on the trails.  Autumn Lake Winery is so new, that their tasting room is not built yet, but they have a temporary tasting room set up in a greenhouse.

The family is so nice, and their wines are very tasty!  Oh – and they LOVE dogs!

 

 

Coda Rossa Winery: Franklinville, NJ

Coda Rossa Winery is named for the Red-Tail Hawks that live in their vineyard.

This winery features both New Jersey and California wines.  We did a tasting here and were very pleased with all the wines we tasted!

Halbrendt Vineyard and Winery: Orrtanna, PA

Halbrendt Vineyard is a small winery owned by a husband and wife  who built their winery while both holding full-time jobs at Penn State University Fruit Research & Extension Center.  We very much enjoyed the wines here, and the tasting room is dog-friendly!

Adams County Winery: Gettysburg, PA

Adams County Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Pennsylvania, and also was voted Best Winery in Gettysburg.  Best of all, they have free wine tastings every day!

Santa, Mrs. Claus, and a few of their elves even stopped by to visit Margarita and tell her she was on the Nice List!

 

 

Buddy Boy Winery: Gettysburg, PA

 

Buddy Boy Winery has a selection of whites, reds, and specialty wines (check out the names of some of the specialty wines!)

 

Their bartender was pretty cute, too!

Balic’ Winery: Mays Landing, NJ

Balic’ Winery makes over 27 award-winning wines!

Not only did we love their wines (we bought a case!), they had a chocolate fountain – YUM!

Balic’ also had a quite outdoor sitting area:

Best of all, they are dog friendly, and have their own vineyard dog, Mariah , who Margarita quickly made friends with!

We will definitely be adding this winery to our “visit regularly” list!

Cheers!

Hauser Estate Winery: Biglerville, PA

Previously home to acres of apple orchards, Hauser Estate Winery ‘s tasting room is located right outside of Gettysburg.  Beneath the tasting room is an underground winery production facility.  The winery also has a location in downtown Gettysburg on Lincoln Square.

We visited the tasting room, which was situated on a hill, and had a gorgeous view.

We sat on the outside deck, as dogs were not allowed inside.

Their outdoor patio was dog-friendly.

 

We enjoyed the wine and the views here!

Rita Goes to College!

Margarita had her “first day at college” with a great visit at Rowan College at Burlington County meeting students and staff in the Student Success Center for their Mental Health Week event, while she helped enlighten them on the positive benefits therapy dogs provide for students with depression and anxiety!

The event was sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa Chi lota Chapter and RCBC Student Support.

The first full week of October focused on increasing understanding of what mental illness feels like, so others can learn more about the wide range of symptoms experienced by those living with a mental illness.

In addition, the purpose of this week was to also reduce the misunderstanding and stigma associated with mental health conditions.

2017 Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show: Tuckerton, NJ

This venue is always one of our favorites, as this event in 2013 was Limoncello’s first ever DockDogs competition!

Limoncello

Big Air:

21’0″

21’6″

19’6″

19’9″

18’4″

Extreme Vertical: 5’6 ”  Third Place Cadet Division

Speed Retrieve: 8.035 seconds

Iron Dog: 2808.24 points

Hooch

Big Air:

22’1′”

Finals:  21’9″ 1st Place Elite

Extreme Vertical: 6’6″  1st Place Top Gun Division

Lager

Big Air:

18’6″

17’2″

18’10”

17’7″

Extreme Vertical: 6’4″  Second Place Top Gun Division

Margarita

Margarita had a fun time keeping cool in the shade and greeting spectators who walked by our team canopy.

 

Liver Killer Bling and Goody Bags:

 

 

Asbury Park Boardwalk: Asbury Park

After Rita attended The Blessing of the Animals, we decided to visit the Asbury Park Boardwalk.

Although we had been to several boardwalks in NJ, we had never been to this one – and it was the perfect weather day for the occasion!

Rita loved people-watching!

Even though it was a perfect day, the boardwalk was not very crowded.  We enjoyed taking a walk, looking at the beach, and listening to the ocean!

The Stone Pony: Asbury Park, NJ

After was blessed at The Blessing of the Animals, we  headed over to see the famous Stone Pony!

Said to be one of the greatest rock venues on earth, The Stone Pony was a starting point for NJ locals like Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and Steve Van Zandt!

I was born and raised in NJ, and had always wanted to visit – it was awesome to see it in person!