A year in the life of our Miss Riley

Bowl Lickin’ Good

Wednesday, Riley decided she was So Over Eggs. The problem with having a super-intelligent dog like Riley is you can only fool her once. Wednesday when she didn’t want the eggs, I sprinkled them with parmesan and she gobbled them up. The same with the dry kibble she was turning her nose up at. Thursday, it was all “That again? Puhleeze. I’m onto you, lady.”

I pulled out my last reserve: canned food. She’s never had it. I kept within her preferred brand, Nature’s Variety, and got the lowest fat, highest fiber one I could find so it hopefully wouldn’t aggravate her colitis. I popped the top and held it up to her to see what her reaction was — she lunged for it and if I hadn’t been quick, she would have gulped the tin top down. OK, so Princess Miss Riley approved. I gave her a couple spoonfuls and she inhaled it. I mixed a couple more spoonfuls in with the rejected kibble, and suddenly it was all delicious.

I stuck with only half the can, waited two hours to see if there would be any digestive pyrotechnics, then, much to her relief, gave her the rest, also mixed with kibble.

The poo hit the fan around 2.30 this morning. Fortunately, outside. I pumped her full of Kaopectate and gave her extra metronidazole for good measure. This afternoon, I gave her only 3 tablespoons of the canned with her kibble…and it happened again. Inside. Tomorrow, I think we’ll give her only a little less canned, but mixed with the high-fiber kibble she rejected before, which might help her form back up again.

It’s a delicate balancing act between what will keep her digestive issues at bay and what she will actually EAT.

Om nom nom

Om nom nom

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Revamping the Plan

If at first you don’t succeed…

Yep, it was time to rethink what we’re doing for Riley’s colitis. I was already thinking that, but a disastrous morning involving black ice, several pratfalls, and a ruined shoe, I was determined Something Must Be Done. Dog-minded friends and family offered up a lot of suggestions and I discussed them all with the vet.

The plan we came up with involves none of that. Naturally.

I spent hours today researching other dog kibbles for something high fiber, low protein, low fat, low carb, low cal. We narrowed it down to two: Holistic Select (which was recommended by friends) Weight Control and Blue Freedom. The latter wins, mainly because it is readily available, but it also had a better fiber/protein/fat ratio (by a nose). The vet also wants to get Riley on some supplements — slippery elm powder, calcium, Standard Process Gastrex and Okra Pepsin — all of which will work to coat her GI tract (I knew that slime in okra was good for something!).

All of which I’ll run around for tomorrow. Today, my house was surrounded by ice and my car is completely coated in it. Riley and I are having a hard time even getting off the porch at all. The roads may be better, but I’m not cracking my skull open just trying to get to my car to thaw it out. As it is, I’m wearing a knee wrap today. Though there might be a wintry mix falling tonight, tomorrow, it’s supposed to reach the 40s so I should be easier able to get to my car, thaw it out, and get all the stuff for Riley.

Wish me luck…

Other than the incident this morning, Riley’s been pretty calm — she rested in the office with me today, and she’s settled beside me now.


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A Series of Unfortunate Events

Yesterday began like any other day. I was working from home because I expected to make a med run up to the vet’s. I settled into my desk, and Riley settled onto her bed behind me. I heard her start to stir and figured she needed to go out. She was really struggling to get up, so I went to help her. Put my hand underneath to help pull her to her feet…and came away with a hand full of poo.


The struggle wasn’t to get up because she had to go, it was to get up to get away from the fact that she had. Which to deal with first: the dog with poo all over her back end or the giant blob of poo on her bed and my office carpet? The answer: the poo on my hand, so I could get Riley outside and cleaned off, then cope with the other stuff.

So I cleaned up, then helped her get to the back door. I eschewed the leash in favor of getting her out as quickly as possible. Naturally, that meant there was a deer right in the backyard — Riley went nuts and I had to lunge for her collar before her brain convinced her body that she can give chase. The deer, thankfully, darted through the trees to my neighbors, and it’s out of sight, out of mind.


Unfortunately, the light of day revealed the full extent of the mess. I had to get out a basin and fill it with dog shampoo and warm water and essentially bathe her back end on the porch in the freezing cold. Got her clean and dried off and settled in the living room on quilts, gave her some Kaopectate, then went to deal with the mess indoors. I used what was left in the basin to rinse the worst off the dog bed, and set it to soak in the washer. Dealt with the office carpet, took out the trash.

As I was getting ready to leave for the med run, I got a migraine.


My migraines come with aura, which starts as an inability to see a complete picture, then turns into a scotoma, which then takes over most of my field of vision, making me effectively blind. In about 20-30 minutes, my sight comes back and the debilitating pain sets in. I take some heavy-duty painkillers and generally let myself pass out for several hours to a few days.

But I still had to get the meds from the vet. So I waited for my vision to come back and went up to the vet’s for the meds. On the plus side, while I was there, I got to talk to the vet and also got another cortisone + B12 shot to administer to Riley this weekend. On the minus side, I thought my head was going to explode before I got home.

Home, meds, ice patch, eye mask, blessed darkness and relief.

Today I rather felt like I was trying to balance an overripe melon on my neck instead of my skull, and any sudden movement was jarring, but I managed to have a pretty normal day. So did Riley. She settled herself on the quilts in the living room, and napped the day away under her blanket. Lucky dog.


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The Things Dog People Talk About…

My husband and I have done a lot of talking about poop since the onset of Riley’s colitis at the start of this month (good lord, it really has been almost a month). Friends and colleagues ask me how Riley is doing, and it’s very hard not to discuss her progress (or lack thereof a lot of the time) in terms of poop. I think I’ve talked more about poop than a new mom potty training a kid. The folks who ask claim not to mind, but still…

Today, I left for my office first, so my husband was the one to call me with the Poop Report. Starting to look almost normal! Hooray! Then he told me he took a photo of it so I could see it for myself. And I didn’t think it was weird at all (though I did laugh).

How have we gotten to a point where all this is normal to us? No idea, but I’m really looking forward to the day she’s back to 100%, eating her normal food and putting weight back on — and I don’t have to obsess over what’s coming out her back end.

Riley, of course, isn’t bothered. She just wants her pack, her comfy bed, and food — not necessarily in that order.


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The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Seriously, what IS it with dogs and poop? We’ve been walking Riley on a leash in our own yard so that we can make sure she doesn’t get into deer droppings or anything else out there, and doing so, we’ve realized just how much there is out there for her to get into. Today I steered her around two piles of deer droppings and something else I could not identify, except to say it wasn’t deer and it wasn’t hers — this latter one had me jumping quickly because she went from sniffing around it to actively trying to chomp it in seconds. Sure, she was always interested in it and would nibble on deer poop every now and then (in fact, that’s part of why she’s currently in recovery), but not to this degree of zeal.

Honestly, I think now she’s into it because we have her on a restricted diet — she’s had rice in chicken broth for two days now, and only this evening did I add cooked chicken back into the mix (which thrilled her). I hope the return of the chicken means a return to self-restriction on the poop. And if not, well, we’ll stick to keeping her on a leash.


Hmm, which do I like more: chicken or poop?

ETA: the very definition of “spoke too soon.” Not 5 minutes after I hit “post” on this, Riley’s digestive system let the laundry room floor know that it’s still not happy. I can only guess the cooked chicken was the culprit, so now I feel guilty as hell for trying to rush recovery. 😦


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