Days since Rilley's first Seizure and Surgery

Friday, March 21, 2014

Where has the time gone?

That is a very good question!  I can't believe spring is here already (the cold certainly doesn't help you to believe winter is over) and I have yet to make my first post of the year.  Now, you could say that is a very good thing, which is true because no-news-is-good-news and in Rilley's case it certainly is good news.

He is still with us and still causing his own special brand of trouble, albeit at a slightly slower pace.  You see, Rilley is still passing his annual physicals with flying colours but he is starting to show his age.  The poor little guy has been having occasional bouts of back pain.  He doesn't cry about it, but we can tell whenever he takes just a little extra care when climbing onto or off of the bed or sofa.

Wait a minute!  Who am I kidding?
"Takes a little extra care..."?
This is the dog who laughs in the face of danger!

Okay, maybe not laughs, rather he doesn't necessarily realize there's danger when he sets his sights on something...or more to the point, on food.  So that statement should more appropriately have read that he "actually takes care when climbing onto or off of the bed or sofa."

When this first started we took him to see Dr. Ewing and as usual she takes very good care of him.  It was determined that this is indeed a sign of age progression and it seems to be restricted to his lower back.  We've put him on some medication (Metacam) for when the issue does flare up and changed his food from Satiety diet (the "fat" food that we used to give him to control his weight) and put him on a Mobility Support recipe. The theory is that the new food has ingredients that will help to avoid the medication being used full time.

The only downside to the new medication is that it lacks the qualities to satiate his appetite.  This leads to him being extra whinny around dinner time and he begins to demand his food early.  The funny thing is, he is quiet in the afternoon until Sara arrives home from work.  Then he unleashes full whine mode directly at her, only trying it on me when absolutely necessary.  He seems to know that if he keeps it up, after a long day at work, Sara will give in just to keep him quiet.  Although, I think he secretly hopes for two dinners as he continues to beg at the table for scraps despite having been fed.  But we were warned when we adopted him...

"He is very food motivated."

Rilley's "Battle Scar" is that little
black line near the centre of his head.
That was almost 11 years ago now and it still holds true to this day.

Basically, what I am trying to say with this post is that, aside from one age related issue, Rilley is continuing to do extremely well since his bout with the brain tumour over three years ago.  Aside from those occasional (and I do mean very rare) breakthrough seizures of rapid jaw movements, and the now slightly more visible scar line on his head, you would never know what he's been through.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

An Ice Storm Christmas

The last few days have certainly been interesting.  Ontario was hit hard by a severe ice storm this past Saturday night into Sunday morning.  We lost power for eight hours that night and we were one of the few extremely fortunate families.  Many others were without for days and some continue to struggle without electricity.  It has been out so long in some areas that the phone company has also lost the power required to run the lines.

We woke Sunday morning to some of the worst natural destruction our area has seen.  Not only did the ice down hydro lines, but also a vast number of trees.  Portions of our street were impassible due to trees having fallen across them.  With all the falling ice we were as careful as possible whenever we would let Rilley out,  but for some reason he thought it would be a grand idea to sit beneath our maple tree and look up!

Nonetheless, Christmas Day is here and in true Rilley-style, he brings some merriment to the day. (Whether he intends to be entertaining or not.)  You see, Elizabeth bought him a nice big bone as a gift.  Immediately upon unwrapping this magnificent piece of chewable goodness, he grabbed it in his mouth and headed for the back door.  Now, if I were a dog I would resist the innate desire to bury it and at least give it a chew or two first...but no, this is Rilley after all...

...this bone must be buried and it must be buried NOW! 

Okay then Rilley...out you go!

As you can see, the aforementioned ice storm foiled his plan.  The video above was actually his third attempt at finding a place to bury his new bone. 

Darn frozen earth!

After criss-crossing the backyard numerous times, he finally realized that this was a fruitless endeavour and brought his bone back in, settled down in the hall and began to chew away.
Nom, nom, nom.
Now, with the turkey cooking in the oven, and a lull in the activity, Rilley has decided to take a nap from all the morning's excitement.
Zzzzzzzz...dreaming of turkey.

And that's pretty much how Rilley's Christmas has been...his third "bonus" Christmas since undergoing his treatment.

So from our family to yours we wish you a
Merry Christmas
and a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 2, 2013

National Mutt Day

Here's a little something to add to your "I did not know that" pile.

Today, December 2nd, is National Mutt Day.  Hey, I had not idea this existed either!  I only found out about it through my Facebook news feed and a post from the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center.

Interestingly, this day is celebrated not once, but twice a year...July 31st and December 2nd.  So why am I writing about this?  Well, despite Rilley's rugged good looks, he is not a pure bred beagle, he is indeed a mixed breed, or mutt, as it were.  Furthermore, not only is he a mixed breed, but he is a mixed breed we rescued from the shelter.  You see?  This day seems to be far more important for Rilley than it would at first appear.

So there you have it!  As the saying goes, you learn something new everyday.

Happy National Mutt Day Rilley!  (And if we don't have one in Canada, may be we should!)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Little Town that Rilley Loves

An interesting concept was presented to me a few weeks ago.  The website has a photo sharing campaign through which can you show how your dog represents his or her home town.  Now I'm not one to randomly promote commercial endeavours, however it was through DogVacay's online forums that Sara had found some of the dog-friendly hotels that we used on our road trips to Minneapolis.  While that was a huge benefit for us, their main purpose is to help you find a dog sitter near home.

As those who have followed the blog from the beginning know, we adopted Rilley from the SPCA in nearby Orangville when he was two years old.  Since then he has been an official Georgetown, Ontario resident for 10 full years and he couldn't be happier!  Here are a few of his favourite things about our little town.

Going for car rides.
Exploring the trails of Hungry Hollow!
Winning the ribbon for "Dog with the Longest Ears" at
the Georgetown Fair! (Okay, this photo is a bit old...2004
but he did return to claim his crown again a few years later!)
Halloween!  Rilley dressed up in 2007 as "Underdog" to
"rescue" as many treats as he could.
And just looking adorable and happy to be alive!
Photo credit: Chris So of The Toronto Star
We may live in a small town, but thanks to the second chance Rilley has been given by being a cancer survivor he still has time to experience the many other things that our beautiful little part of the province has to offer!

To give credit where credit's due, this idea was passed on to me by fellow pet-blogger Shaye Walsh of Milwaukee who wrote a similar post about her dog Sheba.  Check it out:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rilley Goes International!

Publishing a blog results in a lot of information being posted, read, picked up by search engines and distributed.  Every once in a while we will sit down and Google phrases related to the blog in an attempt to track where our posts and stories about Rilley end up.  Most hits are links back to the blog or to the newspaper and television stories on their originating websites.

Today, however, I came across a German magazine called "Partner Hund".  They describe themselves as "Das Magazin für Hundefreunde" or "The Magazine for Dog Lovers."  Image my surprise when I found, in a section of their August issue entitled "News from the dog world", a short article about Rilley.  Judging by the pictures, they must have pulled the story that was written by Isabel Teotonio of The Toronto Star (June 1, 2013 - Saturday Edition) off a newswire service and written their own, condensed version.  Their story was called "Second Life for Rilley".

The interesting thing is that, despite The Star being a major Canadian newspaper, we never imagined it would be a conduit to his story appearing as far away as Europe.  As for the article itself, it was simply a very brief synopsis detailing the diagnosis, prognosis, clinical trial at the University of Minnesota, treatment and the promising outcome (with a bit of little-girl-loves-her-furry-"brother" thrown in to tug at the heart-strings). 

It's just too bad that they didn't try to contact us directly, I could have impressed them with my (very rusty) ability to speak German.  Well...maybe not...perhaps in the end it's best it didn't come to that.  (I had to use a translation website to help me read it...some of those German words are long!)

If you can read German there is an online version of the magazine, simply follow this link:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pet Cancer Awareness Month

November is Pet Cancer Awareness month and throughout the month the Veterinary Medical Center at the University of Minnesota, where Rilley was treated, has been posting related stories on their Facebook page.  Today they wrote a post to commemorate Rilley's third anniversary as a survivor, including a brief outline of the their involvement.  I hope that their compassionate, caring and amazing team is aware of the far reaching impact of their work.

Taken from the VMC's Facebook page:

Please take the time to visit their page.  If you are a pet owner, there is a lot of useful information and tips there.  If you're not, I'm confident you will find the stories interesting.

Monday, November 4, 2013

MILESTONE: Surviving for 3 Years!

Rilley with his new stuffed friend.

Today we celebrate another major milestone in Rilley's life.  It is hard to believe that it has already been three years since Rilley's surgery in Minneapolis.  Time has certainly flown since November 4, 2010.  It may be cliché, but it really does seem like yesterday that we were packing the Jeep to hit the road for the first time.

A lot has happened since then and we have documented all the ups and downs right here on the blog.   There have been many helpful and dedicated professionals along the way and I always thought it would be fun to list them all.  So here it goes:

Mountainview Animal Hospital
Dr. Stephanie Ewing

University of Minnesota
Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar
John Ohlfest, Ph.D
Dr. Matthew Hunt
Brian Andersen, Ph.D
Jessica Bedi

University of Guelph
Dr. Fiona James

Mississauga Oakville Veterinary Emergency Hospital
Dr. Meredith Gauthier
Dr. Carolina Duque

It is thanks to all those people, and the legions of staff that work with them, that Rilley has been able to make it to this point.  As I had said in a post near the beginning of this journey, Rilley really does have more doctors than most people!

Another pair of characters that have seen him through his surgery and beyond are his favourite stuffed animals, Winnie the Pooh and Bunny.  They've had put up with a lot.  Winnie not only came along for the ride on our first trip to Minnesota but he also comforted Rilley during his stay in ICU.  Bunny came along on subsequent trips and through it all they have been his favourite toys.  They have seen better days though.  Sara has had to perform many a reconstructive surgery on both of them whenever Rilley decided to go Tony Soprano on them and take out his frustrations.

As a way of commemorating today, Sara picked up a new stuffed buddy for him, complete with a scarf imprinted with the year.  Hopefully he gets welcomed into the fold of Rilley's little clan.

Here's to celebrating many more anniversaries Rilley!