Lily is a LOT

Yikes! I never introduced Lily to the blogosphere. For quite some time, I’d been looking for a companion for Gg. I still think she would have preferred a cat, but we have a doggy door, coyotes and I’m allergic, so we added Lily on November 15th. We got her from a rescue, and we know her mom was a Jack Russell, and dad is a presumed hound. The rescue thought maybe a basset hound, but I’m not sure at all…

The first ride homeā€¦

The rescue folks were calling her Lily, and as we’d already considered that name anyway, we kept it. But my dogs get middle names, and six months in, Lily’s remains elusive. Here’s a list of what we’ve tried on already:

  • Pawlitzer – a nod to Lilly Pulitzer, as the girl resided near a country club when we picked her up.
  • Bean – as in LL Bean – because she’s definitely more rugged outdoorsy than prepster society girl.
  • Lagertha – as in the warrior from Vikings; Lily loves to play rough and doesn’t doubt herself.
  • Brienne – as in — of Tarth from Game of Thrones. Lily is a GIANT of a JRT mix, and not done growing!
  • Mae – as in Ellie Mae Clampett – because Lily loves to wrestle.
  • Limo – because she’s really long in the body.
  • Lizzo – because she’s bold and it sounds like limo, AND Gretchen was named for another singer, Gretchen Wilson.
  • Beth – as in Beth Dutton, because this dog makes Beth D. look like she DOES have impulse control!

She’s a smart, sweet girl who has no concept of personal space, but she is a handful and requires a firm hand and needs more training and exercise than she’s getting most days. It’s even more complicated because she is hyper-alert and EVERYTHING triggers her. Leaves, squirrels, cats, neighbors walking on HER road… I’m supremely grateful for the co-workers, gym friends and neighbors who have tried to help us help her learn to trust and work on her impulse control, but I’ve had to stop walking her in public, which includes our road, because she’s gotten so big it’s just dangerous to have her flip out – literally. So until we can get her with a trainer who can help us get this managed, we are limited to walking around the house unless I think she’s in a place where we can risk a walk on the road.

Big girl has her first birthday on the 5th. She’s a lovebug, but… Lily is a lot. I’m positive she’s going to mature into an amazing pup, but right now, she’s more work than any other dog I’ve ever had.

She is more “handsy” than any dog I’ve known. Not only does she need a tremendous amount of physical contact, she uses her front paws like hands and will hold hands, pull a hand to her chest for a chest rub (more desirable than a belly rub, evidently), boxes, throws hands, grabs, etc.

She’s brilliant – no, really. She’s a fast learner and tries to anticipate what we might ask of her. She knows at least two versions of most commands (paw and shake, for example, if you want her to put her paw in your hand), and yet… she has no impulse control and cannot execute proper leash manners when temptation strikes.

She is very willing to please, as long as she’s not on one of her tangents. She’s clean by nature and once we cleared her giardia, she’s been perfectly housebroken and crate trained, in spite of living with a cranky, incontinent old dog (Gretchen Greer). When she did have accidents in her crate, she cleaned them up AND folded the mess up in the towel in the crate.

I haven’t been able to have a “made bed” since she came here. She can’t help but tunnel and flip and dig in the covers. See above – she’s brilliant, wants to please us BUT her lack of impulse control rules her brain.

She chews. Oh how she chews. Thank goodness there are fabricated sticks, because those are her favorites, except when she wants to play fetch with a squeaky ball or a plushy toy. She’s not allowed to keep either of those in her reach though, because … impulse control. When the switch flips in her head, she MUST destroy the ball/stuffie and she can do it faster than I can blink. She ate the sole out of several socks before she decided I was SERIOUS and she ought not to do that ever again. She also ate the buttons off of several blouses, shredded roughly a dozen towels (so now her crate is bare), and yet, we can leave her loose in the house while we cut grass and nothing other than her toys has suffered for it.

We feed her via puzzle toys now, to keep that brilliant, mischievous mind working. We walk and play fetch, and we’re trying to find a trainer to work with us, all while still managing a senior Cushing’s girl with baseline anxiety and thyroid issues, who is losing her eyesight, hearing and bladder control. But otherwise, Gretchen is a happy girl who still likes walks, albeit shorter ones, who still gets excited about meals, and has her humans at her beck and call. Gg’s greatest joy is getting Lily in trouble, second only to greeting her people when they return.

It’s not an ideal mix, this senior mess and the wild pup, but they are well-loved and pampered. Gg even has her own credit card now, and paws are crossed Lily remains healthy. Evidently, my motto should be, “No low-maintenance dogs allowed!”

Trilostane Day 48

… sorta’. We skipped a dose early on because she was being weird. We skipped 2-3 doses (once daily) in the last week because of her trip to the emergency vet. She binged Thursday with the help of our co-workers, so I didn’t worry when she was very tired and not as hungry on Friday, but as Saturday ticked on, she lost mobility and moved into lethargic levels, to the point she wouldn’t/couldn’t walk. I didn’t feel like it was Addison’s, but I knew with her Cushing’s diagnosis, everyone (read: urgent or emergency vet) would have to rule that out first.

She had a little “ruffle” on her left hip, right at her lump of scar tissue from that dog bite long ago, and I thought nothing of it until I actually touched it. Turns out once the vet focused on that too, we found the problem; a NASTY, under the skin infection. We will likely never know what caused it, but a week of antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory pain killer our regular vet added on Monday, and she’s back to normal, her new fussy about how I take my meds aside.

This little crisis has shown me how blessed we are. We have great veterinary care, and my co-workers are the most amazing, kind, supportive, animal loving people ever. Gg HATES the cone (e-collar, or whatever you know it by), and she’s been a good girl minus two nights, but work has been quite easy, thanks to a pack ‘n play we’ve been loaned indefinitely. It’s kept her clean and safe, and she seems to like it! She gets even more pets and attention than she gets wandering around on her own.

She doesn’t know she’s fourteen years old. Most of the time, she doesn’t act like it, but she is a very senior dog. She is slowing down, she sleeps more, she takes more medications, but she’s still my spunky, sweet, utterly devoted sidekick. I miss our runs and wogs, but I’m hoping as the temperatures cool, she’ll want to trot down the road a bit now and again. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be her person, and I’m a better person because of Lady Gretchen Greer. Here’s to many, many more years together!

Trilostane Day 7

Or is it Day 6, since we skipped Friday, Day 5? Gretchen wouldn’t eat her breakfast, so I called the vet and they advised that I skip her dose for that day, as the side effects we’re monitoring her for include decreased appetite and lethargy.

Her tribe concurs that it’s likely heat and long work days that caused her behaviors, but there’s no denying the girl is off her game. She didn’t go to Ladies Group (workout) yesterday morning. Her humans had decided she wasn’t going because she hadn’t eaten, but she also made no effort to come with me until I was basically out the door, so she somewhat opted out; she didn’t know we had decided she wasn’t going.

She always sleeps a lot on Sundays, so it’s hard to judge what’s going on today. It’s also hard to say whether we’re seeing positive changes, because her routine is so far out of whack, but that’s necessary because she needs constant supervision for the first couple of weeks on this medication.

This is hard. I trust our veterinary team explicitly, but in the end, it’s up to me to figure out what’s working and what gives Gretchen Greer the best quality of life. We’re waiting for the next round of testing to see what the labs say, because Gg’s Cushing’s journey is so muddy and muddled because the symptoms are so very similar to the anxiety issues she’s had her whole life.

Trilostane Day 1

Have I even blogged about Gretchen’s Cushing’s diagnosis? (I mentioned it, but barely.) So, let’s recap:

The week after Thanksgiving, Gretchen had a binge bender than brought me home mid-day to figure out why the puppy cam was upside down. She did some impressive at any age table-surfing and found her “headed out the door”dog treats, AND an old powerlifting meet gift bag that included some (non-chocolate, thankfully) KIND bars in various stages of all gone and what was left was in shredded plastic! She repeated that feat again on Saturday morning (but with no nommies found), and then came absolutely unglued when she was crated (rare, but she was crate-trained) while we went to the work holiday fete that night.

To the vet we went, and we were all surprised when this healthy-looking gal tested positive for Cushing’s Disease. (I’ll probably add her results here at some point so they’re all in one place.) At the vet’s recommendation, we went holistic, in part because she was back to being all but symptom free by then AND because our vets are friends and they KNOW I’m resistant to certain big pharma medications. That went really well for several weeks, and again, I’ll almost assuredly create a Cushing’s page here to track it all, but then in late April, she began having acute anxiety again. On May 31, our holistic vet broke up with us. (No, not really, but I try to keep things light, and when the holistic vet tells you it’s time to use conventional pharmacology, it’s sobering.)

And somewhere in the midst of all of that, baby girl was also diagnosed with high blood pressure. She’s on a microscopic dose of Amlodipine (2.5 mg tab QUARTERED, and one of those pieces twice daily), and while it dropped her BP a bit, it remains a little higher than desired. With everything else going on, we’re going to re-evaluate THAT when the vet tells me it’s time… I think in September?

So, today is day one on Trilostane. She’s on a whopping 15mg compounded into a chicken flavored chewable tablet that the princess rejected as a “treat” but thankfully, she did gobble it down with her breakfast. Yes, that’s a high-maintenance, home-made meal, which I’ll also include on the Cushing’s page. She loved it at first and seems bored with it at this point. I know there’s plenty of room for discussion; my dogs have put me in camp “we like variety when a slow switch is done”. They definitely seem to get tired of the same flavors day after day, week after week.

So far, so good. She’ll be at my side for the next 10 days, until we do her first monitoring bloodwork to assure this is the right dose for her. Despite what I’ve read, I’m still insisting she’s going to live to be 20, and have a happy, healthy life until then.