• Pets

    Puppy Love

    I’m back! I took a long break over the summer since we had so much going on… something had to give, so the blog got neglected. We got a couple of big projects done over the summer, and I’ll have posts soon on the blog about what we did. For this post, I’m writing about our puppies. We adopted two puppies in March, but it seems I never wrote about them on the blog – so here goes…

    Our new puppies | rainerlife.com

    In March, Michael saw a Facebook post by our local animal shelter that listed four puppies that were picked up and available for adoption. It was a weekend when he saw the post, so Gavin and I went to the shelter on the following Monday morning to see the puppies. They were cuties! We decided on two pups – a male and a female. We completed the paperwork, paid the fees, and were able to pick up the pups later in the week after they had been neutered and spayed.

    Gavin and the puppies | rainerlife.com

    The puppies playing | rainerlife.com

    The first day was great! They were cute, playful puppies. Then the second day happened. The boy puppy was sick, so I took him to the emergency animal clinic (it was a Sunday). They ran their tests, and he came back positive for parvo. I had the female puppy at the clinic too, but she did not test positive parvo. Taking care of a parvo puppy is really hard! The first couple of nights, I gave the boy pup fluids (Pedialyte or Gatorade) by syringe every 30 minutes. I didn’t get much sleep, but I was hoping to keep the puppy alive, so it seemed worth it. After the first couple of nights, I didn’t have to give him fluids as often, but I liked to check on him every hour or two. Giving constant fluids and the medicines prescribed by the veterinarian worked for our puppy. He survived and we named him Rocky… because he overcame defeat!

    The female puppy stayed healthy and never got parvo. Once we knew the male pup had parvo, we separated the puppies and cleaned everything in the house they had come in contact with. Obviously, we had to keep the male puppy in his crate at all times, but we also kept the female puppy in her crate. I’m surprised she didn’t have it already, but I think keeping them separated and keeping everything clean helped prevent her from contracting it. The female’s coat is different than the male’s – they are both black dogs, but her color looks brown in the right light. So, we named our energetic little female puppy, Java.

    The puppies were only about two months old when we got them, so they have grown a lot the last seven months. They are both happy, healthy dogs and are getting lots of love with their new family. Gavin gets along well with them, but he gets jealous of them and they get jealous of him. And they all aggravate each other at times. Sometimes though, they all play together really well, and it’s just the cutest things you’ve ever seen!

    Gavin and the puppies | rainerlife.com

    Gavin and the puppies | rainerlife.com

    Gavin and Rocky | rainerlife.com

    The puppies stay inside the house most of the time. We leave them outside a lot during the day, but if I’m home, I like to keep them inside with us. They’re still puppies though, meaning they have the occasional “accident” in the house and they chew on things they shouldn’t – mainly Gavin’s toys. So, they stay in their crates at night.

    Since we adopted the puppies from the local shelter, their ancestry was a mystery. They were listed as labs, but it was just a guessing game as to what other breeds they may be. We decided to get Java’s DNA tested because we were curious if we were guessing right. We weren’t. Her DNA test came back that she was half weimaraner and half other breeds. The other breeds went back too far for the test to fully confirm which breeds, but they listed the most likely breeds as Labrador, German Shepard, and Chihuahua. That’s right. Chihuahua. I don’t see it. After looking over Java’s results, we kind of wanted to get Rocky’s DNA tested too. You know, to see if it came back with the same results. They were litter mates, so they should have the same breeds on their DNA profile, right? So, we sent in Rocky’s DNA too. He came back as half weimaraner and half other breeds. As Java’s results showed, the other breeds went back too far for definite conclusions. However, Rocky’s other breeds only listed Labrador and Chow Chow – it said Asian breed, but listed Chow Chow. They look nothing like Chow Chows. So, we just say we have Weimaraner/Labrador mixes.

    The puppies (Rocky and Java) | rainerlife.com

    Rocky and Java are almost always together, and they both stick pretty close to me too. Rocky has always stayed with me – I figured that was because we bonded during his time with parvo. He was getting a lot of one-on-one attention from me then. Java has come around though, and now she stays right with me too. Yep, that means I usually have two dogs and a toddler with me at all times in the house.

    The puppies (Rocky and Java) | rainerlife.com

    It is hard having two puppies. Part of it may be because I don’t have as much time to devote to them as they probably need. However, one of the reasons we wanted two puppies was because that would give them a buddy to hang out with. Most of my time is devoted to Gavin, so it’s nice that I can let the puppies outside and they can play together while I’m inside handling other things.

    The puppies (Rocky and Java) | rainerlife.com

    We are so excited to have these puppies as part of our family! I can’t wait to watch Gavin grow up with them. So much fun is in their future!

  • Pets


    It is with a heavy heart I write this. Belle, our chocolate lab, passed away on the night of December 23, 2014. She was a wonderful dog and truly a member of our family. I got her at Christmas in 2001. This was a very difficult loss for me, especially to lose her at Christmas. She was 13 years old.

    Belle and Me Christmas 2001 | rainerlife.com
    December 2001

    Belle | rainerlife.com
    Belle, 2007

    I’ll miss how expressive her personality was. She had a wide range of emotions – happy, sad, mad, jealous, disappointed, excited, content, displeased, etc. Since she was a chocolate lab, her natural state was usually happy and/or excited. She was jealous when others (humans and dogs) were close to me. She would fuss Michael for getting to close to me… she always tried to squeeze between us. She was seldom mad at me, really I can only think of one time she was truly mad. We were at Caddo Lake, and long story short, she fell in the lake. It was obviously all my fault and she was mad at me until we got home later that day.

    I’ll miss the way she communicated her feelings. She made all sorts of different sounds to let me know how she felt about things. After her first surgery for her laryngeal paralysis, she was no longer able to make the sounds. I really missed that.

    I’ll miss how much she loved to go places. She always wanted to go. It didn’t matter where we went as long as she got to go with us. She was happy to go, but she didn’t always want to stay long once we got to our destination. She preferred her outings to parks or the pet store, whereas she wanted to keep trips to the veterinarian as short as possible. We started calling her our little escape artist – she escaped the kennel at the veterinarian office, her room at the boarding facility, and the kennel at the groomers. Like I said, she didn’t always want to stay long when she got to some places.

    Belle at Lake o' the Pines | rainerlife.com
    Belle, 2005

    I’ll miss playing with her. She loved playing fetch, catching frisbees, and going to the lake. When she was in good health, she would play fetch or catch frisbees all day. She especially enjoyed playing fetch at the lake.

    I’ll miss cuddling with her. She was a couple of years old before she calmed down enough to enjoy being loved on. In her later years, she was content curled up on the couch next to me.

    There are so many things I will miss about her, but I’m glad I have so many happy memories of our time together. I am not used to her being gone yet. I’m so glad she was a part of my life and I will truly miss having her by my side.

    The Rainer family Christmas 2014 | rainerlife.com
    December 2014

    Belle and Gavin | rainerlife.com
    Gavin and Belle

  • Pets

    Belle’s 13th Birthday!

    Belle, our chocolate lab, is celebrating her 13th birthday today. She’s had a rough year, but she’s doing great today. It’s a rainy day at our house, so we’ve been lounging around inside. She has beds all over the house, but her favorite lounging spot is on the ottoman in the living room.

    Belle | rainerlife.com
    Happy Birthday Belle!

    Belle | rainerlife.com
    …wish she could be more relaxed

  • Pets

    Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs

    Our chocolate labrador, Belle, was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis earlier this year. I had never heard of this illness, so I turned to the internet and did a lot of reading on veterinarian websites and Labrador Retriever forums. Laryngeal paralysis seems to primarily affect larger breed dogs and in later life.

    Laryngeal paralysis causes the larynx to be closed off and the dog cannot breathe normally. Varying degrees of paralysis seem to occur. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Belle had a severe case where her larynx was almost completely closed. Her breathing was very labored and was getting worse.

    Our veterinary office does not staff a veterinarian that performs surgeries to correct laryngeal paralysis, so they have another veterinarian come in and perform the surgery at their office. The tie-back, also known as unilateral arytenoid lateralization, surgery is the most common corrective surgery for laryngeal paralysis. During surgery, one arytenoid cartilage is tied back using sutures and left in an open position. This permanent open position creates a larger opening for easier breathing. It’s an expensive surgery and has no guarantees that it will work. At our veterinary office, the surgery cost was $1500, plus the cost of any additional tests and medications needed to treat the dog properly.

    We opted to have the tie-back surgery performed on Belle in May. The surgery was performed in the morning and they monitored her that afternoon at the veterinary clinic. She immediately had improvement in her breathing. I picked her up just before closing and took her to our local emergency animal clinic so they could monitor her overnight. Our veterinarian recommended she stay at the emergency clinic in case there were any complications. If anything were to happen, they would be able to respond immediately. I picked her up at the emergency clinic early in the morning and was happy that she had no complications during the night. Several days after the surgery she scratched at her neck and pulled out a couple of sutures. It happened on a weekend, so I took her up the emergency animal clinic. Since she only pulled out a couple and it wasn’t bad, they didn’t see a need to fix what she pulled out. After that, we monitored her more closely to prevent her from pulling out any more sutures. Her recovery went well and we were so happy with the outcome. She seemed like her old self again.

    Belle after Tie-Back Surgery for Laryngeal Paralysis | rainerlife.com

    During the recovery period, we gave her smaller amounts of food and water to avoid aspiration pneumonia. Following surgery, the most common complication is aspiration pneumonia. Since the arytenoid is tied back permanently, it’s more likely for a dog to breathe in food or water. Fortunately, we have not had to deal with this. We don’t leave her outside for very long – we tried to keep her cool and out of the heat. Also, we tried to keep her from getting too excited, which is not an easy thing to do with a chocolate lab.

    Unfortunately, after a couple of months, the surgery failed. We are not exactly sure what caused the failure, but suspect it was all the excitement and changes that were going on with our lives at the time… moving to a new house and planning for a baby. Belle was staying excited a lot of the time, plus she was barking more – we had movers, guests, deliveries, and various people working around the house.

    The morning the surgery failed, I took Belle to the veterinarian to see what was going on – at the time I didn’t realize the surgery had failed. While at the vet’s office, she turned blue and they had to put her on oxygen. I left her there for them to examine her and anxiously waited to hear what was wrong with our girl. They called to say the surgery had failed and her larynx was almost completely shut off again, but they could do the surgery on the other side of her larynx if we wanted to try it again. Wanting to do all we could for her, we opted to have the surgery done again. They were able to perform the surgery that afternoon, and I believe it saved her life. I’m not sure she would have survived the night had we waited. Again, we had her stay at the emergency animal clinic overnight in case there were any complications following the surgery. The night of her surgery a storm came through town. Belle gets agitated with bad weather, so while at the emergency clinic, they gave her a sedative because the weather was upsetting her. Had she been at home, the combination of her larynx being closed off and the stormy weather may have been too much for her to body to handle.

    A few days after the second surgery, Belle scratched at her neck and pulled out her sutures. I raced her up to the emergency animal clinic (it happened late at night) and they fixed her up. Again, I tried to watch her more closely and she did not have any more issues with the sutures. The second surgery was performed in July, and her recovery is going well again. We try to keep her from barking, which is a challenge. When she does bark, it sounds different than before the surgeries. Another change is she can no longer grumble at us. She used to make grumbling noises when she was displeased with us or she wanted something. After the first surgery, she was no longer to make those noises.

    It’s been a rough year for Belle, and we pray this last surgery works.

    Belle after Tie-Back Surgery for Laryngeal Paralysis | rainerlife.com

  • Pets

    Happy Birthday, Belle! {Plus, Tips for a Healthy Senior Dog}

    Belle | rainerlife.com

    Today, Belle turns 12-years-old. She’s been a senior dog for years now, but she’s stayed very active. Last week she had her annual senior exam. She has arthritis in her hips and is developing cataracts, but otherwise she’s in good health. Only in the past year has she started to slow down… I’m sure the arthritis has something to do with it. However, she still enjoys walks and playing fetch.

    Tips for a healthy senior dog:

    – Regular visits to the veterinarian. I’ve read it’s advisable to take your senior dog in every six months for a checkup. Personally, I take Belle in for her senior exam once a year and on an as-needed basis the remainder of the year.

    – Feed your dog a healthy diet. There are several online sources for checking out the nutritional facts of a dog food. Definitely check nutritional info before feeding it to your dog. Also, keep up with pet food safety recalls and alerts.

    – Exercise your dog. Walks around the neighborhood or a trip to the park is beneficial to you and your dog!

    – Keep your dog at a healthy weight. If you are feeding your dog a nutritional diet and they are getting exercise, then this one isn’t too hard to maintain. Sudden weight change can be an indicator of health problems.

    – Keep your dog’s teeth clean. Regular brushing keeps plaque buildup at bay, which helps prevent other health problems.

    – Regularly groom your dog. Regular brushing will help you to identify new lumps and abnormalities. Also, keeping your dog’s nails trimmed will improve their grip on floors and help with traction.

    – Consider giving your dog dietary supplements. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations. Common supplements for senior dogs include glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin C.

    – Keep plenty of clean water available for your dog. Senior dogs can be more prone to dehydration.

    – Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations. Rabies vaccines are generally required by law. Consult with your veterinarian about other vaccinations (e.g., distemper, parvovirus, bordetella, and leptospirosis).

    – Protect your dog from fleas and ticks.

    – Keep your dog on heartworm prevention.

    – Keep your dog in a comfortable environment. Older dogs are less tolerant of extreme temperatures, so they may need to stay indoors more than when they were younger. Also, if your older dog is losing their sight or hearing, remove obstacles and clutter from their paths and avoid moving their items to new areas.

    – Keep your dog active and happy!

    Relative Age of Dogs in Human Years {Chart} | rainerlife.com