Wednesday, 17 September 2014

terrifying lumps and worrying times

I haven't had the heart to blog recently, because we've been frightfully worried about a lump in Penny's neck. But we've just had good news. Well, sort of good...

When we noticed the lump, we thought it might be yet another lipoma. (She has three or more, now, but we don't intend to put her through the trauma of surgery unless necessary, so we're simply observing them.) There are lots of sites on the internet with information about how common lipomas are in older dogs. This is one site, and it suggests that all lumps need to be investigated before deciding on a watch-and-wait approach.

However, we - and the vet - thought this lump felt strange, so even though a needle aspiration seemed to indicate it was a cyst with some infection in it, he suggested surgery to remove it. We agreed.

Penny started on antibiotics to settle the infection and duly had her surgery. On the day, we waited for the phone call to say she was fine. But when the phone call came, the vet nurse suggested we make an appointment to talk to the vet as we collected her. Little alarm bells went off, so both her humans went together, to give each other moral support.

The long and the short of it was that the vet had found the lump sitting around a major blood vessel, so he stopped the surgery, having taken a piece off the lump. It was sent off for a biopsy and we waited...

We kept Penny beside us every moment of the first couple of days, to check she didn't scratch at the stitches, which pretty much she didn't.

She even got to sleep beside one of her humans, which doesn't normally happen. Like the Princess and the Pea, she reclined on a tower of soft mats.

Today we've learned that the part biopsied is a lipoma, and, to use the vet's words in the reassuring phone message he left for us, basically 'harmless' and 'benign'.

But it's still beside that blood vessel - the jugular - and it showed two different results in testing, lipoma and cyst.

I called in to discuss it with the vet, and was impressed with the amount of time he spent explaining to me what the situation is. We'll be keeping an eye on it, checking it every month to see if it is growing. I asked if it might grow inside where we can't check it, but the vet said it will grow out, if at all. He said not to check it more frequently than once a month, because we might become too accustomed to it and not notice a change.

Here's hoping all will be well.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

arthritis, cartrophen and Bowen therapy

Penny travelled to Yarra Glen today to have another session of Bowen Therapy with Deb.

After we arrived, I went back to the car to get something, and when I returned I found Penny inside the lovely little therapy cottage, happily waiting for Deb. This is not Penny's usual behaviour with anyone else - normally she'd be at the door, looking out to see where I had gone.

Watching Penny in the session is a great way to see how she reacts to the therapy. I sit on a chair nearby and don't interact. In an hour of treatment, she barely glances at me, which is unusual in any other situation, because she's normally keeping an eye on me to see what I'm up to. However, she loves the therapy so much that she's focused on Deb.

After about ten minutes or so, Penny moved away, and Deb waited for her to come back. Soon, Penny stood up, and returned to ask for more. It was plain that she loves it. I find it interesting when Deb tells me the places where Penny is sore, because I can see, once it's pointed out to me, that Deb is correct, by Penny's reaction to therapy in those spots.

We're not depending only on natural therapies to deal with Penny's arthritis. We're also having another series of four cartrophen injections at our vet.

And I was intrigued to discover that one of the vets at our local practice does acupuncture. We'll enquire about that.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Am I mean-spirited to laugh at Fenton's antics?

When a friend showed me the famous Fenton deer-herding incident on her iPad, I hurried home to watch it full-screen on my desktop computer. I laughed. And laughed. And shared it with family.

But when I read this article, I wondered if I was mean-spirited to enjoy another dog-owner's humiliation.

So I had another look at the clip, and I still thought it was funny.

I asked myself why I didn't feel guilty about laughing.

I think it's because of the joy I see in Fenton the dog, doing what all our dogs wish they could. Running free, hunting, top predator. And I'm laughing with the owner, not at him, because I know how it is when a relaxed, home-loving canine suddenly shows us she's descended from wolves. I won't forget the moment when Penny, as a puppy, emerged from the bushes with a glorious, colourful bird limp in  her mouth. I managed to convince myself that she'd luckily stumbled across the warm, already-dead body of a rosella, but I made sure to never give her the chance again to 'play' with birds.

One of my favourite cartoons is pinned on the wall above my computer. It's a Non Sequitur cartoon, by Wiley Miller.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

a new place to rest when walking with Penny

There's a great new children's playground in Warringal Parklands, and we are careful to stay away from it, because it says, 'NO DOGS'. Fair enough. I agree that parents should have a place where their children can play, secure in the knowledge there won't be doggie poo on the ground or dogs running around, even on leash.

However...we've made the astonishing discovery that dogs ARE allowed in one part of this area, and there is food to be had! Food for humans, that is. Penny can find food anywhere, of course - mouldy chips, old MacDonalds hamburgers, possum poo, discarded chop bones. For her, every walk is a delightful gourmet delight.

At Warringal, there is now human food. And dogs can go into the area with tables and chairs.

When we approached along the bicycle path, I was excited to see this sign:

And this menu:

The opening times are good:

And to top off the experience for the humans, there is a selection of training equipment for adults outside the fence that encloses the huge array of equipment for children from littlies to teenagers.

I had a try of this walking machine, but I wasn't too good at it. I'll be back to try it out again.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Penny and the bokashi compost

Winter, and time to enrich the soil in our garden...

I usually dig the bokashi compost into the front garden, where Penny does not go, but a couple of times I've put it in the ground out the back. I usually place heavy pavers over it, so Penny can't dig for the delicious rotted stuff, and sometimes I fence it off.

Penny thinks it tastes nice. But hopefully she's older and less energetic these days and won't try to push her way through the flimsy barrier.

I don't bury the bokashi deep, because I'm too lazy to dig down, and I'd prefer to let the worms and other 'garden helpers' carry the goodness into the earth without destroying the soil structure.

Here's hoping!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Penny on duty again as a therapy dog

Penny had been wondering where one of her humans has gone, but she was relieved to discover he'd gone to a lovely place where dogs are welcome. So she's been on duty once again a personal therapy dog.

Unfortunately, he had suffered a stroke. But the good news is that he has recovered very quickly and will be home soon.

Even one day after the stroke, he was up and taking photos to remember the horrible experience. Of course, Penny wasn't allowed into the hospital.

But once he moved to the fantastic rehab hospital at Royal Talbot, Penny was welcome, even in the room beside his bed. And the grounds are wonderful for walks with a dog. From Penny's point of view, the superb features include some delectable duck poo, good for either eating or rolling in.

Subsequent to the rolling, she had a lovely bath as soon as she got home.

Subsequent to the eating, she had a nice time throwing up on the back patio!

When her human came home for a day visit yesterday, Penny was ecstatic, and rushed to her toy box to get a toy so he could play with her. She's missing him again now, but we'll be visiting during the week and walking together once again.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Penny and our vegie garden

Penny likes some veggies in her dinner, and last night she had a little piece of cooked asparagus. I'm glad she doesn't realise that edible plants grow in our garden - because our asparagus bed is sprouting beautifully. That's very strange, actually, because it's the middle of winter.

Our very first shiitake mushrooms are emerging from the inoculated log, too. Very exciting! Penny wouldn't know anything about fungus being edible, because I've never given her any. I don't think it would be safe for her.

But something has been looking at the log, where it sits on a green plastic garden chair, because we noticed a fresh possum poo right beside it. Here's hoping that the poo fell from the tree above. I'd be disappointed if the possums pinched our mushrooms!