February 23, 2017

Bartles's test results

I got a call back from Dr. Klein at Town and Country Animal Hospital yesterday morning with Bartles's latest ACTH stimulation test results (we love Dr. Klein so much and she was so great with Piri and we're so happy that she is looking after Bartles now).

To add to everyone's confusion, his stim test results came back similar to the one he took in December. I let Dr. Klein know that I think Bartles is still drinking a lot (up to 7 times a day) but each time he drinks bowlfuls, something that he's been doing recently and not back in the months of December and January. I also find him shaking a little and hesitating to eat his breakfast in the morning (before he would go up to his dish and just dig right in). 

Dr. Klein wanted to run the stim test one more time just to make sure that the shot to test his cortisol levels was absorbed properly (at free of charge - thank goodness) and we both agreed that we should test his urine for UTI and also do a blood work to see if maybe his kidney levels have been compromised. We may also squeeze in a diabetes test as well. 

Today Bartles had a drinking fest from 11 am to 12 pm but he wasn't drinking as much. This actually looked familiar to back when he was normal - drinking because he was hungry and not because he couldn't quench his thirst. 

Everything is still a mystery and while Bartles looks ok, I just want to make sure.

We bring him back in on Saturday for his tests and Dr. Klein let us know that we don't have to bring him in early like we did on Tuesday where he would have to wait inside a cage. Yay. 

Today Bartles and I had a moment and it made my heart feel so warm and I almost cried. 

While Bartles was exploring the house, he came into the kitchen where I was doing laundry. It was like one of those familiar moments when Piri would find me in there either looking for water, treats or food. But there were times when he wasn't looking for any of those and instead he wanted a good old neck scratch. I always dropped everything I was doing for those moments with Piri. 

Bartles came and smelled my foot and stopped in his tracks. I bent down and began to pet his head. I then went over to his bed in the kitchen and laid my head there and motioned for him to come lay next to me on the yellow rug (which was set up so that he doesn't slip and fall down when he gets out of bed). He waddled over and I tickled his face and pet his head and he nuzzled my face and arms and slowly laid down and fell asleep next to me. It was the strongest bonding moment I had with Bartles since he came home to us. And it warmed my heart incredibly.

February 22, 2017

Flowers from across the rainbow bridge

On Valentine's Day, Yangkyu went out for a little bit to pick up some groceries (and take out because we always do take out on V-Day) and I received a delivery from Farmgirl Flowers.

Inside the box was a beautiful boutique and the card read, "Happy Valentine's Day, my favorite human! -- Piri from far over the rainbow bridge (but paid for by the other favorite human on earth)."

I still cry whenever I see old pictures and videos of Piri or when I see his things, but this made me smile and laugh. I know it sounds completely silly but it really felt like Piri sent over flowers from across the rainbow bridge. And it reminded me all the times when I used to teach him the names of flowers on Instagram (#flowersforpiri). 

February 21, 2017

A little Bartles update

This morning, we dropped Bartles off at Town and County Animal Hospital so that he can get his ACTH Stimulation test for his Cushing's Disease. The tests are performed to adjust dosage levels for Cushing's medications so that symptoms can be under control. Some symptoms of Cushing's Disease in dogs include increased thirst, urination, accidents in the house, pot bellied look, hunger, weak back legs and loss of fur. 

Bartles was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease while he was under the care of the group that rescued him -- OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue. They, and his foster, did an amazing job of spotting it, getting him tested and putting him on medication to get his symptoms under control. 

When he came home to us in December, he was on 30mg of Trilostane which he got half (15 mg) in the morning and the other half at night. He had his ACTH test done before coming home with us and had his dosage increased to 30mg. His foster mom gifted us with 3 months worth of his Cushing's medicine and even told us about Wedgewood Pharmacy where we can get the medication compounded with great prices. Everything was great - he didn't show any Cushing's symptoms and the only thing I was really worried about throughout the months of December and January were getting him house trained (we're still working on it and Bartles has gotten so much better, but we also decided that getting him fully house trained is not on the high priority list right now). 

In January, I wanted to see if I can get Bartles more comfortable with his mobility as he has arthritis and because of his Cushing's his weak legs give out. I looked into acupuncture for dogs and we went in for a consultation session late January and he had his first full acupuncture session, that lasted 50 minutes, in early February. It was very promising and I saw an immediate improvement in his mobility. He was jumping off of our deck on to our grass without hesitation, without any wobbling, his posture was straighter, he was "saving" himself from potential falls and splats by using his hind legs to give himself support and he was walking with more strut. 

Then a few hours after his first full acupuncture session I noticed that his drinking increased and he began to urinate almost every hour. I keep a diary of when Bartles does everything (pee, poop, eats, etc.) and he logged in jaw dropping numbers that day -- peeing 9 times and drinking 16 times. The days that followed didn't improve -- 

The next day - peed 7 times ; drank 16 times 
2 days after - peed 7 times ; drank 10 times 
3 days after - peed 7 times ; drank 16 times 
4 days after - peed 7 times ; drank 10 times 
5 days after - peed 6 times ; drank 16 times 

I emailed Bartles's acupuncturist to let him know the first day back how Bartles was doing. I read that some dogs (and people) can feel worse after treatment. It was the body trying to heal itself (healing crisis) and that it can last up to 72 hours for them to start feeling better again. I asked him if this might be the case with Bartles. He replied that healing crisis is uncommon but not unheard of and said in a couple of days Bartles will start to feel better. 

We decided to ride it out. 

I sent him another update after 5 days letting him know that his drinking hasn't decreased although his mobility continues to be great. I didn't get a response back. 

6 days after - peed 5 times ; drank 10 times 
7 days after - peed 6 times ; drank 11 times 
8 days after - peed 5 times ; drank 12 times
9 days after - peed 8 times ; drank 15 times 
10 days after - peed 7 times ; drank 11 times 

From days 6-10, Bartles's drinking decreased somewhat but the issue still was that Bartles's while drinking more times was also drinking a bowlful each time he was drinking - literally just drinking and drinking and drinking until his bowl was nearly empty. Like he just couldn't quench his thirst. He has never done this before. 

Bartles's is also on Enalapril Maleate because there is protein leaking in his urine. I never really considered this to be harmful. Piri was also on it for his high blood pressure and he never showed any side effects to it. But then I began to suspect that maybe it was different with Bartles. 

I promptly took him off of it to see how he did. This was days 8, 9 and 10. When he didn't show signs of letting down in the amount he was drinking I put him back on it on day 11. 

11 days after - peed 8 times ; drank 14 times 
12 days after - peed 6 times ; drank 7 times 
13 days after - peed 5 times ; drank 9 times

By day 12, I began to get frantically worried, feeling at times exasperated.

What was I doing wrong?

I belong to a Cushing's support group on Facebook and shared my story in hopes that someone may be able to help or give insight. Was it the Enalapril? Was it the acupuncture? Or is it something else? 

After a string of messages with group members who took a look at Bartles's previous ACTH test results, they suspected that his Cushing's dosage wasn't working for him and that perhaps another ACTH test was needed. They said getting the dosage right is the most tricky part (and can take multiple tests, which can be expensive, but worth every penny). People suspected that Bartles's would need an increase in his Trilostane. 

I ended up canceling Bartles's follow up acupuncture session which he was supposed to have today and instead he went in for his ACTH test. I am still not ruling out acupuncture, but perhaps it is not the time right now. 

I was an emotional wreck the morning. After feeding him his breakfast and giving him his medicine (and logging the times because the vet needs to know before performing the tests), we all got in the car to head to Town and Country. I began to get worried if Bartles was thinking that he was being let go. That we no longer wanted him and that was why he was being caged in an unfamiliar place. That thought broke my heart and I began to sob in the car (meanwhile, Bartles was soundly asleep - snoring even). 

Then I got reminded of all the familiar car rides to Town and Country. It was the hospital Piri went to and they all know him there. Piri, like Bartles, always had a stoic face. I could never really know when he was scared or in pain. We put him through a lot -- surgeries, shots, visits, treatments, prodding and poking. I began to wonder if he was really terribly scared inside and wasn't showing it. And I got emotional recalling back to all the times he came back to us, high spirited, brave. 

Right up until the moment the vet tech came to take Bartles I kept petting his head and telling him, "We'll be back, Bartles, I promise. We'll come back for you. Stay strong." I left a little bag of his male wraps and two treat bags and asked the vet tech if they could give him some when he is allowed to eat them. She picked him up and they went to the back. And I was left with a worried look, teary eyes and someone who just looked like she has some major attachment issues.

We're waiting for the vet to call us so that we can go pick Bartles up. As if he doesn't have enough treats already, we stopped by Petco to pick up another bag. It's waiting for him on the dining table.

I'm upstairs writing this blog almost expecting to hear Bartles's jingle collar - a signal that he is up and most likely will want to pee. 

I am nervous about his test results. But I hope we are on the right track of getting him feeling better again. 

When his drinking increased, I began to doubt myself and was wondering if maybe I was the wrong person to adopt Bartles. Perhaps he needed someone stronger, more knowledgable, better at taking care of elderly dogs, who wasn't so panicky and a worrywart. But I hope that's not true. 

We'll see you soon, Bartles. 
Hang in there.

February 15, 2017

Away we Go: Bavaria, Germany (Pt. 9)

On the last day, day 11, of our trip to Germany we spent the morning shopping at a mall nearby our hotel for some more last minute gifts for family and for us. We bought a few lego kits and Birkenstocks and  afterwards grabbed breakfast at a restaurant, also nearby our hotel, that we've been meaning to eat at since arriving in Munich (every time we passed by we would say, "Oh let's eat here soon" -- it finally happened on the last day). 

We might have ordered a bit too much to eat (we normally eat like birds) but it was so good that we ended up finishing everything on our plates. We tried white sausages for the first time and for me the texture was a bit odd and so I only had a little. Yangkyu loved it though (I think he would go back to Germany just for the sausages - me, I kinda fell in love with their goulash soup).

Thank goodness we read beforehand that you have to peel the casing off of the white sausages because I don't think we would've known that..! While Yangkyu and I had orange juice and coffee with our food everyone else had beer. Beer at like 10 am! (Yangkyu and I don't really drink but we did try a few beers during our trip and Radler was our favorite - because they mix it with sprite! lol).

One of the most impressive and convenient thing during our trip to Germany was their public transportation system. It literally took us everywhere. Getting to the airport was just as easy and was only a 40 minute ride over. 

When we arrived in Munich, the first thing we saw when we walked out the airport was, of course, a Christmas market. We didn't stick around when we arrived and instead we decided to save it for our departure date. We ended up eating some more because it really was going to be the last time to enjoy this experience.

And believe it or not, we ate some more at the airport and did some duty free shopping as well. 

On the night we arrived in Munich, among all the different stalls, we found a candlemaker and among all his expansive creations, we found a little Piri. I don't want to sound like a giant cheeseball, but I took it as a sign that Piri was happy and he was somehow really with us on the trip. 

On the last day of our trip, while sitting inside our plane getting ready for take off, I looked out the window and saw a big beautiful rainbow. It put a smile on my face ... as if Piri was really looking out for us the entire time we were in Germany. It still warms my heart thinking back to seeing this rainbow. It was really the perfect end to our trip. 

We landed at Dulles airport a little past 7 pm. As soon as I turned my phone on, I got a welcome home text from Shone's owner (our former DogVacay client, who I mentioned in my very first post, who made our trip on Lufthansa so great and welcoming). This felt like an icing on the cake on top of that pretty rainbow we saw. I realized how these little gestures can really make a person's day and decided to do more of those too.

Well.. what a wrap up this was.

I still look back on our time in Germany and miss it very much. Yangkyu and I would love to go back to Germany and explore other parts that were too far to go this time around. And while I would love to spend days leading up to Christmas in Germany (because they really know how to Christmas over there), perhaps going in the spring, summer or fall will give it a different feel. 

Thanks for reading along. As I mentioned in my previous post, there were a few more Germany related posts I'd like to get up, so I'll hope you'll come back for those as well. 

February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Treats for your Dog

The other day I broke out my dehydrator that's been sitting in our cabinet for way too long and decided to make treats for Bartles and our Piri's Place dog guests, Spootie and Clover. Since Valentine's Day was coming up, I decided to make them heart shaped. That shape making thingie was something I picked up for Piri but he crossed the rainbow bridge before I could make him anything (although by the time I was making homemade treats for him his appetite was so in and out that he never really ate any of the treats). 

Normally I would use uncooked chicken and as they dehydrate it would cook and dry on its own. Since I wanted the treats to be a bit on the softer side I cooked the chicken first and put it in the dehydrator for about 5 hours (you can of course do it for longer). 

All I did was steam some sweet potato (I used the ones sold at Korean markets - that's why they have the yellow color to them and not the orange color you are probably used to seeing) and chicken breast tenderloins which I pan fried over some coconut oil. I mixed the two in a mixing bowl, made them into a heart shape and put them in the dehydrator. You should be able to put them in your oven as well. 

I was afraid maybe Bartles wouldn't like it (he's not too into fruits and vegetables, but he certainly loves his meat!) but he gobbled it up. So did Spootie and Clover. 

What are you doing for Valentine's Day?

We don't really do anything fancy. Every year we wanted to be with Piri and we love staying inside and so it's always been take out and maybe playing a little video game or watching our favorite TV shows together. We'll certainly be doing that today.

Today also marks 4 months since Piri crossed the rainbow bridge. There is not a day that goes by when I don't think about him. I still cry and my heart still hurts very much. But it's comforting to have Bartles by our side and I love tickling his face and giving kisses on his head.

Have a wonderful one guys.

February 9, 2017

Away we go: Bavaria, Germany (Pt. 8)

On day 10 of our trip to Germany, we took a regional train just around 9 am (Bayern tickets again) to Nuremberg. We were lucky enough to find a train that went there in about 2 hours in the departure time that fit our schedule (all others took around 3 hours). By this time we had a regular routine with our long day trips -- get to the Munich Central Station early, double check our departure time and gate number, buy a ton of bread (I became a bread monster while in Germany) and coffee for the ride over.

We were eager to get to Nuremberg as I had several sights I wanted to see. Unfortunately though our trip ran into some trouble early on which made us change up our plans a little bit.

After going a few stops away from the Munich Central Station, our train stalled for a good 30 minutes until the train conductor finally announced that due to technical failure the train would no longer make the trip to Nuremberg. All passengers were instructed to get off and head to another gate where an incoming train was also on its way to Nuremberg (the one that had the travel time of 3 hours - doh). There was already a significant number of passengers on that train and with the extra people that got on, there were no seats available and everyone crammed in. But all this didn't make our trip any less enjoyable. We actually ended up in the same car with a bunch of high school students and I had an inkling they were going to the same place we were going as soon as we arrived in Nuremberg. The Nazi Documentation Center and Rallying Grounds. 

As soon as the train arrived at the Nuremberg station our entire car burst into cheers and applause. By far this was the most animated and playful crowd we've been with among all the train rides we've taken in Germany. 

From the Nuremberg Station we took the #9 tram to Doku-Zentrum (go through the underpass to come back out to where the trams stop - there are signs leading you there). The TI also sells the Nuremberg Card (I was raving about how the Salzburg Card was such a good investment for us) but we opted not to buy one since we didn't have much time to sightsee because we had arrived late and during the winter months many museums and sightseeing sights have earlier closing times. Yangkyu and I ended up grabbing a quick bite at the train station before hopping on the #9 tram, which dropped us right in front of the Nazi Documentation Center. It seriously doesn't get any more convenient than this (walking to the Nazi Documentation Center from the train station is too far). Traveler's dream.

Nuremberg with all its beauty, medieval architecture and its biggest Christmas market, also has a haunting Nazi past. The Nazi chose this city to hold their massive party conventions and rallies

The Nazi Documentation Center and Rallying Grounds is huge. And you need to walk a while to get to some of the sites like the Zeppelin Field. We didn't have time to see all the remains which I regretted. It was one downside of our day trips where we didn't have enough time to see everything we wanted.

We began inside the museum and unlike the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, the signs next to each photo and exhibition wasn't translated into English. So having an audio guide is essential in understanding what the museum has to offer -- the beginnings of the Nazi movement and social impacts that led to the rise, the phenomenon and also the museum's efforts to educate people to ensure that something like this never happens again. 

Many students were on a field trip to the documentation center, which was so great to see, but there were also tourists of all ages, each taking the time to read, listen and watch the horrific accounts from the Nazi era. 

One of the exhibits I was most interested in had to do with the Nuremberg Trials. There is a room dedicated to the trials with newspaper clippings, a video that is played on loop of the actual trials, books and pictures. I wanted to go to the Nuremberg Palace of Justice where the trials were held but unfortunately it was closed on the day we were there. 

The other striking exhibit at the Nazi Documentation Center was the unfinished Congress Hall, which was designed to hold 50,000 people. It was incredibly sobering to stand within the crumbling remains. From the museum, there is a ramp within a closed glass casing where you can view the Congress Hall suspended in mid-air. You can also walk the grounds as part of the walking tour of the rallying grounds. You can also view it from afar while walking over to the Zeppelin Field.

After the museum tour, Yangkyu and I walked about 20 minutes to see the Zeppelin Field, the Nazi rallying ground where they held mass shows and where Hitler addressed his supporters. The Zeppelin Field had a gigantic swastika on top of the grandstand which was blown up in 1945 after the Nazi fall in World War II. On the day we went, it stood quietly, hauntingly, significantly withered away. There were only a few skateboarders and a handful of other tourists who were visiting. It almost seemed so contradictory - a place where once there were mass gatherings to on this particular day, where it was nearly empty - the long banners and lights long gone, only the sounds of distant cars and skateboards scraping against the pavement.

I can tell you that both Yangkyu and I felt a little somber after our tour of the museum and Zeppelin Field. We didn't have enough time to see the rest of the rallying grounds and so instead we turned back and headed back to the tram stop to go back to the Old Town.

We arrived just when the sun was setting which set the perfect mood to view the Nuremberg Christmas Market which is the biggest and most famous Christmas market in Germany.

Yangkyu and I ate a few things, shopped but mostly took in the atmosphere. It as a bit hard to get into the festive spirit right after viewing some of the Nazi history but when we came across the children's section of the Christmas market, it was easy to fully immerse ourselves in the joy and laughter. Kids (and dogs) do that to you, I guess.

After walking around sampling food, shopping, hearing caroling and jazzy Christmas music and grabbing some dinner, we headed back to the train station to go back to Munich. It felt bittersweet - our last night in Germany which made us a bit sad, but we had exciting things waiting for us back home. 

I kept dropping hints on Instagram saying we have exciting things waiting for us and that was Bartles. While in Germany our adoption papers got approved and he was all ours to bring home. 

A trip that was all about healing and experiencing new things was exactly that. And Bartles happened to be the wonderful surprise that no one, including us, anticipated.

Right before leaving the Old Town but within the city walls, there is a little alleyway that led to a series of small shops and rustic restaurants. It's called Handwerkerhof (Craftsmen Courtyard) where traditional handcrafted items are made and sold. We strolled through and admired the little windows decorated with lights and decorations and wished we had actually eaten dinner here. I loved everything about Germany, but it was these little wonderful little nooks and alleyways that stole my heart. It was small but charming. 

While in Nuremberg we missed out on a few sights -- the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg), Albrecht Dürer's house, Germanic National Museum and as I mentioned earlier, the Palace of Justice which was also closed on the day we were there (Tuesday). Still, Nuremberg was a wonderful final full day of our trip. 

I have a few more Germany related posts I want to work on -- 1. recapping our final day (travel day); 2. getting pictures I took on my phone on to this space and 3; a little short story about a Korean restaurant we ate at while staying in Munich. In the past, I would've gotten all these posts over and done with in a jiffy but I kind of like the slower pace in getting everything edited, written up and published.

I hope you'll continue to stick around for more of our Germany travel stories. 

February 6, 2017

Doggy tags from Olive Green Dog

A couple of weeks ago, Bartles' doggy tag came in the mail. I ordered the same one I had made for Piri. They are from Olive Green Dog. My phone number is also listed on the bottom of their names but for privacy sake I photoshopped it out. 

The tag comes in aluminum, brass or copper (we went with aluminum) in various sizes as well (ours is in the mini size). They are $25.95 and takes about 4 weeks to make and ship out. 

I also got the Best Friends charm I shared with Piri from Olive Green Dog. It still hangs from my key chain and Piri's rests in the little resting spot we made for his ashes and photos and things. 

February 3, 2017

Lately at Piri's Place + About Us #3

About Piri's Place #3

We don't wear shoes inside our home. We ask guests to take off their shoes as soon as you step inside our home (wearing shoes in our entryway is ok). We have clean house slippers you can use (during meet and greets) and we also have disposable shoe covers for people who wish not to take off their shoes. 

Find us online at Piri's Place

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