Since we became foster parents of our 18-year-old son with autism (our biological son–it’s complicated) we had to complete a once-a-month fire drill for the state of Texas. We decided to include our dog, Boomer, in the drills because we would NOT be leaving our dog behind if we had a fire. The agency who receives our fire drill reports was amused that we listed Boomer Bowen (the dog) in our list of people participating in the required fire drill.
July 15th was National Pet Fire Safety Day. Do you have a plan for your pets if a fire should occur? From the time you hear the smoke alarms or smell smoke, you likely have about 2 minutes to get to safety. Have you sounded your fire alarms while your pet is in the home so that they will get conditioned to the noise?
1. Start by identifying two ways out of each room (door/window).
2. If you have other people in the home, establish a meeting location where you will all meet up.
3. Keep a collar on your dog, leashes and cat carriers in an easy-to-access place near an exit point. If you don’t like keeping a collar on your dog, a kennel slip lead would work as well. Pets will likely panic at the smell of smoke and sight of fire, so secure the dog on a leash and put your cat in a carrier before exiting your home. If you have multiple family members, sometimes it is good to assign certain pets to different individuals, but that is not always foolproof. Practice with a pretend fire in a certain location in home (tell your family the fire will be in a certain location the next time you have a drill.
4. If you have birds or other caged pets, decide who is taking charge of them (assuming they can safely do so).
5. If you cannot find or reach your pet before you evacuate, leave an outside door open and call your pet’s name. Be persistent and loud and don’t give up.
What If A Fire Starts When You Are Not At Home
1. You can consider a monitored smoke-detection service so that firefighters can be called at the first sign of smoke (even if you are at home).
2. If you are leaving your pets at home alone, secure them in rooms near entrances. You can use the dog’s crate or use gates to close off a certain room (or the doors to other rooms).
3. Affix a pet alert window cling to the front window. This decal includes the number of pets in your house so first responders know who to look for when they enter the home. Keep them up-to-date as the number of pets increases or decreases in your household. Click here to order your free decal from the ASPCA.
Pets As The Cause of Fires
The National Fire Protection Association says that more than 1000 house fires every year are caused by pets. Pet proof your home against potential fire hazards. This was one case scenario: “Your dog was home alone and saw cake on the stove top. As the dog tried to get a taste, their paw accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan. ”
1. Don’t leave pets unattended around any open flame: Candles, cooking appliances, fireplaces. Of course extinguish open flames if you are leaving the home.
2. Remove stove knobs: A stove or cook top is the most common piece of equipment involved when a pet starts a fire. Removing the knobs or protecting them with child and pet-proof covers is the easiest way to prevent this.
3. Choose flameless candles. It will give you the ambience without the danger.
4. Avoid glass water bowls on a wooden deck. This surprised me as well. If it is hot outside, the sun’s rays can heat up the bowl enough to actually ignite a wooden deck. A stainless steel or ceramic bowl won’t cause this problem.
5. Pet proof your home including electrical wires and power cords which should be secured out of your pet’s reach.
The other day the power went out in the evening at my house and stayed out for many hours. I always consider myself prepared for hurricane season, but was I really? That evening for me was a trial run. I failed. We had flashlights but where were they? I used my new keychain light to try to find them. Because it was in the evening, I needed a light that could light up the room. I have a lantern-type flashlight but it took a lot of effort to locate it. When the electric company said it would be at least midnight before it was fixed (and it was more like 2 a.m.), I had to find a better solution than candles. I needed a bathroom lantern in case my son got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. As many of you know, he has severe autism. He would not be able to be told, “Here’s a flashlight for you to use if you have to get up and the power is still off.” I found my battery-operated candle and put that in his bathroom. I certainly did not want candles burning all night so I put a regular hand-held flashlight up against something so it could light up the room.
I realize that we would have some advanced warning about a hurricane or tropical storm approaching, but if one whipped up from the Gulf of Mexico down near Mexico, we might not have much warning. Anyone who lives in the path of a potential hurricane knows the rush on supplies at the store. During Hurricane Ike, we were without power for 7 days. After that event, we bought a small generator–enough to power a refrigerator and plugs to charge things. My son still has toileting accidents, so we can unplug the refrigerator plug temporarily to plug our washer in to that same generator. The dryer plug would not work, but we can put his things outside. I have found that buying bottled water and storing it for the whole summer makes it taste pretty terrible, especially since we have to store it in the garage. Instead, I wash out milk containers starting in May and keep their lids. As a potential storm approaches I fill all the bottles. If the storm bypasses us, I just use that water on my plants. I also start making ice and lots of it (when the storm might still be in the Atlantic).
We generally focus on ourselves, but as pet owners it is our responsibility to prepare ahead for them. I could use a little work on that.
Let’s go past a hurricane. Let’s say the fire department comes to your door and says you have 30 minutes to get out of the area. Are you prepared? The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters has good tips for you.
1) When developing your family plan, add specific plans for your pets.
2) Assign each family member a pet to locate and care for.
3) Decide where you will go and pick a meeting place for your family in case of separation.
4) Think of whom you can call outside your area. An out-of-state contact can be helpful if communications are down in a disaster zone. Let this contact know your disaster plan and family meeting place should you be evacuated.
5) The best emergency plans include many people and systems that can back each other up. Please include family, friends, neighbors, your veterinarian, and pet sitter.
6) Contact hotels and motels in advance to check which ones accept pets as well as local humane societies and emergency clinics.
7) Build a phone tree. One person phones two people to see if they need help. Those two people each phone two more and so on.
8) Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit.
9) Stay current on vaccines.
10) Make your home safe (or have a safe zone in your home) for your pet in a disaster.
11) Accustom your pets to sudden actions as would be needed in a disaster.
12) Check with your pet sitter to see what their emergency plan is for your pet. Make sure you have your pet disaster kit ready and let your sitter know exactly where it is. Make sure your sitter has all your emergency contacts so in case you are not reachable they can let someone know your pet is safe. The sitter can secure your home and let your neighbors know where your pets will be. Most sitters keep keys to their clients’ homes so if you are not traveling but cannot get to your house due to work or road conditions your pet sitter may be able to secure your pets when you can’t.
Disaster Supply Kit
This is a minimum checklist for your pet should an emergency strike.
1) Prepare a list for each pet. Kits should be easily retrieved and kept in a water tight container.
2) Crate or carrier for each pet large enough to turn around in, and cat carriers large enough for a small litter box.
3) Rotate all foods into use and replace with fresh food every 2 months.
4) Collars and leashes for all pets (including cats) with ID, microchip number, and rabies tags on all collars.
5) Pet first-aid kit including bandaging material, antiseptic ointment, alcohol, gloves, tweezers, muzzle and gauze (You can buy these through the ASPCA if you don’t want to create one for yourself).
6) Vet information and vaccination records and current pictures of each pet.
7) Three-week supply of each pet(s) medications.
8) Sedatives for pets that frighten easily.
9) Disposable litter boxes with extra cat litter.
10) Plastic bags, paper towels and cleaning supplies.
11) Three-week supply of food and drinking water for each pet.
12) Manual can opener and food and water bowls for each pet.
13) Toys or blankets your pet will find familiar.
14) Towels and grooming items.
15) Detailed instructions for animal care and rescue workers.
16) Copy of emergency numbers and family evacuation plan.
17) Flashlight and batteries.
18) A simply plastic tub to carry everything for each pet helps organize in times when it is difficult to think clearly.
My sweet Maddie, rest in peace, finally mastered a grand feat. After many Christmases, we taught her to find her present. On this particular Christmas, I got four identical boxes. In all of them, I put a t-shirt with my husband’s scent on it. In one of them, was a vacuum-sealed package of tennis balls for her. I wrapped them in identical paper. It took her a few directions to snap to it. My husband was using aluminum foil in the kitchen and the sound of it threw off her concentration (so you hear my yelling to my husband in the kitchen). Not only does she find the right box, but she unwraps it, gets her nose into the box to get her present out, and then takes it to her lair (the chair). Enjoy!!!
I know it is the end of the month already, but you don’t need to just adopt a senior dog in November. Senior dogs need good homes all year round.
This is Buddy, our senior dog, who has already passed on. He came to us very overweight. During his intake with a local golden retriever rescue group, he was called Jo Jo, but his foster mother thought the name Buddy suited him more. We decided to keep it.
My husband’s heart had been broken into pieces when our dog of 10 years, Sam, died. It took him about 18 months before he felt he was ready to risk the heartache again. It was very difficult for me because I telecommuted for my employer and I always had a dog with me. To me, my house was empty without a dog to love.
Buddy was a very calm dog. He didn’t ask for much. I think he may have been partially deaf.
One day Buddy did an amazing thing. We were sitting in our living room. My son was sitting on our very high bed in our bedroom watching something on our TV in there. Buddy came out of the bedroom and just sat, staring at us. This was very, very odd behavior. We asked him what was wrong, but he stood steadfast and determined. Unsure what the issue was, we got up and as we did, he got up and walked into the bedroom. Upon entering the bedroom, we saw that our son was having a full-blown seizure on the bed. One of us praised Buddy immediately while the other prepared the rectal Valium medication my son required to stop it.
Afterwards we had all these thoughts that if we hadn’t known he was having a seizure, he might have fallen off the bed and hurt himself, or worse–died from head trauma.
Buddy came to us heartworm-positive (but treated). I do not know if it contributed to his increased risk of congestive heart failure, but he developed this. When his heart could not pump anymore, he passed from us.
We only had him for a few short years, but they were wonderful years and we do not regret it. We hope that he felt the same about us. Not knowing his history or what his previous life might have been like, we know we gave him a loving home that was full of fun and wonderful things.
I hope this story inspires you to consider adopting a senior pet.
This was an article that I got from Dr. Becker: “Results of a study on human-canine interactions suggest that dogs approach men more often than women.” (This from Relational factors affecting dog social attraction to human partners, Wedl, M et al, Interaction Studies, 2010):
Your dose of adorable for today!
If you have a dog on Trifexis, you need to listen to this report.
(Per the report):
Grieving animal lovers across the country are coming forward blaming a popular pet drug for killing their dogs. Channel 2 Action News has uncovered several cases in Metro Atlanta.
“It’s like a piece of your heart is being torn out,” said dog owner Beth Timms from Gainesville.
Her dog, Gizmo, died after taking Trifexis. The once-a-month pill made by Elanco is a combination pill for heartworm, parasites and flea prevention. Elanco is the animal health division of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly.
Gizmo was a healthy 12-year-old mixed-breed. Shortly after taking Trifexis for the first time, she suffered lethargy, vertigo, seizures and a 106-degree temperature.
“We had to let her go. We had to have her put to sleep,” Timms said. “I killed my dog.”
Timms emailed consumer investigator Jim Strickland after finding a Facebook page titled “Trifexis Kills Dogs.”
Owners from all over the country have posted on the page, blaming the drug for their dogs’ deaths.
The Facebook page led Strickland to a home in Sandy Springs, where a dog bowl still sits empty in the corner. The dog who once used it was a puppy named Bishop.
“He died. For no reason, no warning,” said Bishop’s owner Jenny Schmitt.
Bishop was a 16-week-old Vizsla, which is a Hungarian hunting dog. He was one of seven in a litter born in June from an American Kennel Club Grand Champion.
Three of Bishop’s litter mates are thriving in Florida. A fourth is a healthy puppy living Buckhead. None of them has ever had Trifexis.
Bishop and the other two litter mates, named Tucker and Jade, each received their one and only dose of Trifexis in September. Bishop and Jade died within three weeks. Tucker died in six days. Veterinarians ruled they all died of heart inflammation.
“I think Eli Lillly and Elanco need to ask the broader question, ‘Does this drug even need to be on the market?'” Schmitt said.
Elanco is headquartered outside of Indianapolis. Strickland went there to speak with one of Elanco’s top veterinarians. Dr. Stephen Connell insisted Trfiexis is safe. He said he gives it to his own dogs.
Connell said Elanco has dispensed 50 million doses since Trifexis hit the market less than three years ago.
“We don’t like the fact that it has killed any dogs. But with any pharmaceutical product, we understand that the very rare sensitivities, allergic events — those types of things are going to happen,” Connell said.
Elanco’s spokesman later said Connell didn’t mean to say the company doesn’t like that Trifexis killed any dogs, but rather the company doesn’t like hearing reports of any deaths.
Strickland got the numbers on reports about Trifexis made to the Food and Drug Administration. The latest figures are as of April 2013.
Pet owners have filed 2200 reports of the drug causing their dogs to vomit. There are 600 cases of lethargy, and 31 reports of dog deaths. That’s about one per month since the drug hit the market.
The warning on the Trifexis box states mild side effects. Connell admitted to Strickland that the company has gotten reports of dogs suffering seizures, but Elanco has found no link to any dog deaths.
A University of Georgia Veterinary School pathology report on Bishop’s death stated a bacterial infection likely caused the dog’s heart failure. It ruled his symptoms were not typical of drug toxicity.
Trifexis contains two drugs, spinosad and milbemycin.
“The spinosad is from the United States. The milbemycin is sourced from China” said Connell.
He added their Chinese supplier has had multiple inspections and is a non-issue.
He also addressed the deaths of the puppies.
“It is our opinion that there are other factors involved in this case,” Connel said.
Bishop’s owner doesn’t believe that.
“The three puppies that all died within the same week, all had Trifexis, all around the same time,” Schmitt said. “It’s a heck of a coincidence.”
( Ingredient’s From CHINA )
These last days have been very hard. As pet lovers, you know the grief we have been feeling and the process of trying to work through that grief. Something very funny happened to me on Thursday afternoon.
On the way back from my son’s doctor appointment, I thought I’d stop at the grocery store to get some bread for dinner as it was my husband and my 21st wedding anniversary. The store is not one that many go to anymore because of their higher prices, and with the road construction occurring around it, it is difficult to reach. As I turned left into the parking lot I said to myself that it would be funny if we just happened to see a golden. I was missing Maddie so much that I felt if I could just see a golden retriever I would feel better.
I parked, looked up and directly in my rear-view mirror I saw a golden retriever! I jumped. It was like how you see in the movies where the person in the movie gets into the car and looks up to find the killer in the back seat of the car.
I was exhausted. I actually rubbed my eyes and looked again and sure enough it was a golden retriever who was looking directly at my car. If I had parked one space over, or somewhere else in the parking lot (and I did think about parking closer to one end and decided to go over where there were fewer cars so my new car did not get dinged), I would not have seen the dog in my rear-view mirror (or might have missed it entirely).
As we got out of the car, I started walking over to that car to see the dog and I took a picture because I thought — Jeff is NOT going to believe this story at all. He/She barked at us with the “woo-woo-woo” bark with his/her head straight up in the air. The bark happened twice and the rest of the time it just stared at us. And I swear the dog was channeling Maddie. Messages from heaven are awesome.
If a death can be perfect, then we just experienced it.
On Tuesday, the diagnosis of lymphosarcoma was confirmed. Maddie was not having a good day. She lay in her spot for hours. She was not drinking or eating. She showed me her teeth when I tried to move her. Jeff and I talked and I told him I didn’t think she would last until the end of the week especially if she was not drinking water.
After Jeff and I agreed that there was no reason to wait to have this done, it was just a matter of scheduling. They were able to get us on the schedule for 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.
Tuesday night, it was all about Maddie. There were several times during the night where she rallied and looked happy. She drank and she ate. She adored the chicken we gave her. I allowed her to eat a half of a bag of pumpkin/blueberry treats. It appeared she was hungry but only for the treats. Forget that crappy dog food! A few times she went out back. She had time to hang out around the pool. We let her have some alone time outside. When she didn’t come in for awhile I went out to be sure she wasn’t in a corner somewhere, and I found her in the pool. She was not swimming, but she had both her paws on the first step in. Of all places, this was her most favorite. She needed help getting out. I made her carob/peanut butter treats. I wanted to save most of them for Wednesday, but I did give her one or two.
I had planned a pajama party for her. When she first came to our home as a puppy, she had a lot of problems adjusting to the crate. I had our inflatable bed blown up and I spent weeks with her every night. She was loud enough that she was going to wake my son up, so I stuck my hand in the crate through the slats to pet her, to let her smell me. I even got my hand stuck in there a few times and hurt it! (Ah, the things you do for love!). Eventually I was able to take my hand out, then move my inflatable mattress further away, then to the couch, then to my bedroom. For her the crate was always treated as a good place to be. Of course eventually she ended up in our bed, but that is another story. Laying with her on her last night on this earth seemed right; however, my old air mattress was not going to cooperate.
About 2:30 a.m. I heard her from my bedroom. I thought perhaps she needed to go to the bathroom. I let her go outside and once again she stayed there for awhile. When she came back in, I got her settled on her blankets in the living room. I was petting her and decided it wasn’t so bad on the floor. I brought out my blanket and it was so adorable. She had her paw near my arm and chest, and she tucked her nose under the blanket–just like how we used to nap together. I fell asleep and didn’t even hear Jeff get up to go to the gym. At some point between 4:00 a.m. and 6:15 a.m., I woke up, saw that she moved away from me, and I popped back into the bed to get some sleep for the long day ahead. After Jeff got home from the gym but before Patrick woke up, he spent some time with her on the floor.
We got Patrick off to school and I got into the shower. I had to leave at 9:20 a.m. to see my clients. I needed to be back at our house by 11:30 if we were going to be able to keep to the schedule and be on time. I was grateful for the distraction but found myself having several panic attacks.
Jeff was able to have some alone time with Maddie. He was able to get her outside. He said when he was crying, Maddie came over and licked him and then put her paw on his arm. She was helping him to know that it was okay. I was grateful they had time alone.
Jeff and I made a pact that we would support each other. Regardless of the signs we saw that might point to her feeling better, we needed to do this for her. This now was about her and any feelings that might creep in were selfish.
Since she was still in the backyard and not back to a laying position, I got her leash and just walked her out to the car. With a little help, she was eager to jump right up. This is very weird. She disliked going in the car except for a brief time in her life when she would drive to Patrick’s school to get him (a 100-mile round-tip drive). Jeff stayed in the back with her. We helped her get down. I wondered if we should allow her to get one last moment outside, but she was pulling us towards the door. They got us right into a room. We fed her treats nonstop. We asked if we could see the x-ray so we could visually wrap our heads around this all. I am so glad I asked. There was really no room left in this poor dog’s chest cavity between the mass and the heart. They already had the catheter in her front paw. I asked if she would be on the exam table or if we could have her in our lap. They felt it was better on the exam table, but they put blankets down for her. We said final goodbyes privately, but when she was on the table, she looked a little scared. We told her that she had been an awesome dog and we loved her very much but we did not want her to be in pain. As the medicine was being infused (the kind that would stop her heart), we told her to go, be at peace, we would be fine, we loved her, go find grandpa and Sam and Buddy and Patrick’s brother Matthew and we would see her again when it was our time to go. I asked the tech — Has her heart stopped already? Has she stopped breathing? Is she technically considered dead?
They warned us that the brain might be hyperexcited from the medication being administered and warned us of weird things, even what might look like struggling, but it was physiological response. She had none of that. It was over within 1 minute. The tech (Buffy I LOVE YOU) said she was ready to go since everything went so well.
They let us stay until the end. I laid my head on her and it almost felt like her chest cavity moved a little bit. I asked them if they could please make sure that she indeed was not breathing anymore and they thought it was just the post-death gurgling noise. They let me listen in the stethoscope.
The last thing she tasted was her treats. The last faces she saw were of us. The last feeling she experienced was of love and of release of her job as our dog. Of course she was more than a dog to us, but those are our human feelings we placed on her that made her feel like our child.
We both felt relief when we walked out. We are both experiencing moments of sorrow, and moments where we have a minute or two where we just burst out into tears. But this place is familiar to us and we will get through it.
On a humorous note, driving home we saw something on the highway that just made us laugh out loud. We live in an area where there are a lot of coyotes. They have brazenly walked our neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning looking for food. Teasingly, when Maddie would misbehave, we would joke with her, saying if she didn’t watch it, we would feed her to the coyotes. They would find her tender golden retriever meat to be absolutely delicious. (OF COURSE WE TEASED). I turned my head as this truck passed and it said, “3-D Wolf Transport.” After laughing and Jeff staring at me, I said, “Look at the name of the truck.” He didn’t get it. So I reminded him of the story. I have never seen a truck with that name for as long as I lived in Texas. Was it a sign already from Maddie? I don’t know. It provides me a lot of comfort to think so.
On Monday, I was shocked to discover my golden retriever, Maddie, had lymphoma. It was not a diagnosis I imagined to get. When we brought her in that morning she was having difficulty breathing and I thought she had an allergic reaction to something. This dog walked 2 miles Sunday without any difficulty whatsoever. The mass in her chest is about the size of her heart. All her lymph nodes are engorged. We have had her since she was 7 weeks old. She just turned 6 in May. Not enough days…not enough days. Whatever time she has left we will make them wonderful for her. I thought you all might like to know more about this amazing little fur baby.
Before she was Maddie, she was known by the breeder as “tail.” She was marked with a pink spot on her tail. Her mother and father were champion hunters. Because she had a crooked tooth, she would not be able to be part of hunting trials. The woman, Mercedes Hitchcock, was taken by Patrick’s story. I shared that we had just lost our rescue golden retriever, Buddy. Buddy stunned us when he alerted us that my son was having a seizure on our bed. We wondered if a dog that came from a line of hunters could be trained to smell pre-seizure activity and warn us. And we wanted a puppy again. The group we did the adoption with for Buddy felt an older dog was better for us and would not give us a puppy. This road didn’t seem like an option to us. I understand there are a lot of shelter dogs and I believe in adoption, but we had what I felt were a special set of circumstances that made it okay for us. Mercedes came with high recommendations from other breeders in the area. She did not sell her puppies on the side of the road. She did not even advertise. She did not even have a web site.
It took us a few weeks to come up with a name for her. We discovered her brothers had some powerful names: Belvedere’s Mercedes Benz (aka Ben) and Belvedere’s Indiana Jones (aka Indy). Having both been from New York and the fact that golden retrievers are excellent marketers, we finally settled on Belvedere’s Madison Avenue (aka Maddie). She grew into wearing the “bling.”
I hope to share some funny stories with you about her in the days ahead. It will help us to cope with the overwhelming grief we are now experiencing.
Since the diagnosis has been confirmed and she is struggling a great deal, we have an appointment with our vet tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 12:15.