dogs

Heaven gained an amazing dog, good-bye Brogan.

I haven’t written about Brogan in a while. Mostly because I wasn’t sure what to write. He took a turn for the worse on March 1st, with a lot of collapses on his walks, then we noticed his heart was stuck at 200 beats per minute (normal should have been between 60 and 70 for a dog his size). So after numerous trial and error with drugs we finally got him on new drugs that seemed to be working and he was making progress every day. I knew that all the racing his heart had done would have caused damage, but I was still optimistic about how he was doing and was hoping to get many more years with him. My logical brain knew it probably wouldn’t be years, but my heart was hoping he would shock everyone and live to the crazy old age of 13.

Brogan died in my arms on June 15th at 4am under the lilac tree’s. Where he wanted to be. We went to the cabin Thursday night and he had a great weekend, ate well, played in every puddle he could and even convinced me he could go for longer walks. Then Sunday night when we got back from golfing he was laying behind the door by the washing machine and his color was terrible and his belly looked like he had bloated. So I gave him simethecone and laid with him on the floor. He seemed to be improving a bit, but I was still worried. So Rodney and I decided to come home at 10:30. We got home and by 1:30 I realized that it was probably fluid in his belly, it kept accumulating and was painful. I gave him more diuretics and hoped he could at least be comfortable until morning so I could bring him in and get him euthanized. (covid19 has changed who is allowed into most vet clinics and none that I could think of offered emergency services or will allow you to be with your pet while they are euthanized) But it didn’t work that way. At about 2:30am he wanted out, had a few painful bouts of diarrhea and then just wanted to lay under the lilacs. So I came in the house and got a sleeping bag and laid with him. He died at 4am. I came and told Rodney and we all went out. Rosco wouldn’t leave me and Brogan so we laid out there with him until 7:30 when we came in. 
Took a bit of a rigamarole to get him in to be cremated (more covid19 restrictions on services allowed), but when Rodney and I got there to drop him off the owner let us know he would do it all at no charge. Very kind of him and not necessary for sure. The owner works for the company that the vet clinic I used to work at has used since I was there. He didn’t remember me, but knows the girls at the clinic and felt bad about everything I think. And is just generous. 

I cried for him so much yesterday, I thought I had so much more time because he was doing so well. We were struggling with his appetite, but as long as I fed him what he wanted that was improving. I told Rodney we got robbed, but Rodney said Brogan took the hard decision about when it would be time to let him go out of our hands. And he died after having a great weekend at the lake, a truck ride (which he loved) under the lilacs, which he loved. 
He was an amazing dog, who will always be remembered by everyone as the big gentle giant. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body and will be missed by more than just us. He let people know what he wanted and was thinking without being able to speak. And oozed Broganisma (a word a friend came up with and I never forgot because it fit him so well)
I’m trying to focus on the fact that we got way more time than any vet thought we would with his heart, and that although he didn’t quite make 9 he was almost there and that constitutes an old Dogue de Bordeaux, even for a healthy hearted one. 
Rosco is sad, but is cuddling and loving up Rodney (he became a dad’s suck in the last couple of years) and we are all just trying to get by without our goofy Brogan to brighten our day. 

dogs · Journal

Brogan update

Wow, once again writing has taken a back burner, it feels like I’m constantly busy, but I can’t really tell you what I’m busy doing.

However, I wanted to take a moment and update all of you that have been following my blog for updates on Brogan. I am so happy to say that he turned 8 1/2 this month. I’m now celebrating the 1/2 years too, because he’s blown away everyone’s expectations for keeping on going. He was diagnosed with right sided heart failure when he was 5 and they thought I’d be lucky to have him for 6months. I am so happy that everyone was wrong. That being said we are seeing some big “old” dog signs now. He sleeps a lot, our walks are shorter and sometimes I think he forgets what he was doing (not that I can talk, I often do that too 🙄). All in all though he is doing so well. We changed his meds around again this fall because he was losing weight and collapsing a lot. Since that change we have gotten some weight back on and he had one big collapse in the last 3 months. That’s a huge success.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that both of our dogs will be 9 this year. I’m so blessed to have them both. And I am grateful for every day that we have with them.

They have truly taught me to focus on the positive and appreciate every day.

dogs · Journal

Remedy Hemp oil

Someone is tired after our walk

I haven’t written for a while again… seems like I have the best intentions to keep my blog current and then the wheels fall off the bus, life gets busy and honestly a little bit of self doubt creeps in (after all what is so special about what I have to say). I am going to try to be more frequent with my posts again though. I still enjoy doing it.

Last time I wrote about Brogan trying out a fitbit to see if we could catch a dizzy episode or collapse with him, or even just a little insight into what happens when he gets excited. But we were lucky, or I should say are lucky, because the change in his heart meds has seemed to eliminate all his symptoms… hopefully for a long long time. I’m still not brave enough to let him cruise around off leash, but we do go for longer walks and we play in the backyard and he gets really goofy with Rosco and seems to feel good.

He hadn’t been doing a lot of that, even when he wasn’t feeling dizzy or having symptoms from his heart condition. We were noticing that he was sore and had a harder time getting in and out of the truck and definitely wasn’t cruising up and down the hallway and leaping in and out of the bed…then we tried hemp oil. Since then he is a big goof. Always wants to go further on our walks, but his heart still plays him out, just no more discomfort, so he thinks he should be able to go forever. It’s great to see my older guy feels so good that he is determined to go longer, and is always eager to go for a walk. It’s hard to see your furbaby age, but seeing him feel so good again makes me very happy.

He isn’t wearing his fitbit anymore because I think we have everything under control…for the moment anyway. And that is good enough for me…we will continue to do what we can to keep him happy and comfortable, and as healthy as we possibly can.

If you are interested in trying the remedy hemp with you furbaby, or yourself, or just want to learn more about it reach out to me at remedypawsitivevibe@gmail.com

dogs · Journal

Using a fitbit to monitor Brogan’s heart

I saw a post a while ago of a Veterinarian using an apple watch to quickly check a dogs heartrate and figured I’d give it a try with my fitbit versa and Brogan. It worked amazing, but I wasn’t willing to give him my fitbit versa…however I did have an old charge HR that was just sitting in a drawer. I charged it and put it on him…and it works

Now I’m going to leave it on him and hope it does a decent job of monitoring what his heart is doing. We did a holter monitor on him a while ago, but didn’t really find out a whole lot from it, probably because that was only for 48hours, and I don’t think he was very comfortable wearing it. This doesn’t seem to affect him at all. And its mine, so it doesn’t cost me anything for him to wear it or check it.

So what brought this on you might wonder…

He has had more dizzy moments in the past month and I am a little concerned that his condition is getting worse. I managed to catch him before he collapsed 2 weeks ago and his heart was racing so fast I couldn’t count it. For those of you that are new to Brogan’s ongoing heart mystery the racing heart (tachycardia) was what got our initial diagnosis. He was put on a beta blocker to help control that. However it was very obvious that it was happening again. I talked to my Veterinarian the next day and we decided we would try increasing the dose of his beta blocker to see if that would help him out or not. He is now 1 full week into his increased dosage and seems to be doing okay. So now we will go back to more activities and see how he handles them.

I sure hope the fitbit works well enough that we can get a good baseline heartrate for him, and also see what happens when he is excited or when we are going for a walk.

Actually I kinda hope we don’t see any episodes and the fitbit doesn’t need to do anything.

In the meantime we will leave the fitbit on him and see what happens one way or another…

dogs

Brogan’s heart mystery

Brogan has beaten the odds, no one had expectations of him making it for more than 4 months after he was diagnosed. We smashed those numbers and he continues to do well. If I’m doing math correctly it’s been 2 1/2 years since his diagnosis, which is amazing and we are so grateful that he is still with us and doing relatively well. He is now starting to show old dog symptoms, so we have added CBD oil to his morning ritual. It’s amazing how big of a difference that has made for him. He has the puppy “zoomies” more often than he has in a long while. It’s a fantastic thing to see him be such a goof again. I didn’t realize that he had slowed down until we see him act like a puppy again.

His heart still gives him a bit of grief (and a little stress for those that love him). He still has had random dizzy spells when he gets excited, but overall we seemed to have it under control. Then this past weekend he had a bad collapse, this one seemed a little different than the ones in the past. He got dizzy, but then when he collapsed and lost consciousness he lost control of his bladder and also went very rigid. It was more like a mini seizure of some sort than his normal faint. I don’t know what to think about that. He’s rarely lost control of his bladder (but it has happened) and I’ve only seen him go rigid once before and that was right before we diagnosed him. So now the neurological link possibility fits a little better. The cardiologist thought there might be a neurological issue that was a contributing factor to his collapses, but no one was really sure how to test that or if it was all a heart issue. Not that this has confirmed anything for anyone. It is just another piece in the complex puzzle that has become our life with Brogan. His most recent collapse makes me realize that we do really need to enjoy every minute we have with him.

dogs · Journal

This is a big day, 2 years since Brogan’s diagnosis!

Feels like I blinked and summer was over, I don’t know how it managed to slip by so quickly. It doesn’t feel like I accomplished much, but I did get to enjoy it. It just feels like it went by too quickly.

We got to spend a lot of time at the cabin, which is our happy place. So although summer went by too quickly I do have to say that we did get to embrace and appreciate every moment of it.

Today, September 27th, is an emotional day for me. Its my mom’s and one of my good friends birthdays, but its also on this day that we lost Sloan, and that Brogan got diagnosed with right sided heart failure. This year today is a day for celebration. I’m celebrating that I have such a loving family and circle of friends. I’m celebrating all the love that Sloan brought to us in the short amount of time we got him, and I’m really celebrating that Brogan is still with us and is doing fairly well. Not saying our life hasn’t changed, but he didn’t have a great prognosis and its 2 years post diagnosis and he’s still feeling good, being a goof, and today he even managed to catch 3 Frisbees in a row…he then missed the next 5. But he has never caught one yet, so thats pretty amazing. Unfortunately I’m away on the road this week, so I didn’t get to see it, but my husband made sure he shared it with me. It makes me so happy that he still feels good enough to do those things. He loves frisbee, he loves going for walks, he loves travelling with us and he loves being a pest to his older, smaller brother. So I am very grateful that he still is with us and enjoying all of that.

dogs · Journal

Brogan’s heart mystery continues

Brogan loves playing in mud and water

Last time I wrote about Brogan I wasn’t sure what he would want and what we should do with him…should we let him off leash, should we let him have dog friends, or should we play it safe and keep him on leash and healthy for as long as we can. Well today confirmed my decision to keep him on leash. We went for an on leash walk this morning. It had rained so it was muggy, but not crazy hot. He loves playing in mud puddles and really any water, so I let him splash around in the ditches while we were walking. He ended up in one spot that was deep and he sorta had to take 3 swimming strokes to get across. He came out of that hole and was so happy, but was starting to look a little tired so I figured we would come straight back to the cabin and into the air conditioning. We weren’t far from the cabin when he slowed right down, I looked to see what he was doing, I could tell that he was dizzy and he sat down when I was getting close to him. I put my arms around him and held him and talked to him and while I was doing that he slumped down onto his chest. I kept talking to him and we sat like that for a bit, he didn’t lose consciousness, but definitely was having some issue. When he was okay we got up and walked the rest of the way to the cabin.

He basically confirmed with that episode that I can’t let him run around off leash. His heart, or whatever is causing issues, is just not good enough for it. He is happy with our on leash walks, always wants to go, plays like a goof with Rosco (his dog brother) and basically seems very content and happy to be doing what we are doing. So we will enjoy every minute of every day we have together, we just won’t be running around in any off leash areas. I’m okay with that. And I guess he will have to be as well.

dogs · Journal

Brogan’s heart

We have been a long roller coaster ride with Brogan and his heart. As many of you might remember we were basically told that we had 4 or 5 months with him when he was initially diagnosed…and we have definitely surpassed that…and I’m hoping we continue to do so for many more years. That being said the big guy still has the odd collapse/faint, even though we have followed everything that we are supposed to with him. And I’m the kind of person that wants all the answers. Last time I wrote about him we were at the point of thinking it was 2 separate conditions, but we were waiting for the cardiologist to get back to us to see what she thought about that theory. I finally got to speak with her. She said it’s really hard to confirm that, because there are a few other heart related issues that could be causing his collapses. She said she would like to do 2 more tests on him and is supposed to get back to me with the cost associated with them. I’m at the point now that I have to decide if I need to keep testing to try to get an answer, or if I just continue enjoying him and doing what we are doing and just let him live his life. Really the only reason I would like to have a definite answer is so that he could have dog friends again and be allowed to be off leash again. But at this point I’m not 100% sure that is worth it. He is doing well, he doesn’t seem to miss his dog friends as much (he does have a dog brother that fulfills the dog “friend” part) and he doesn’t seem to mind on leash walks, although I’m sure he would love some off leash time. It would be so much easier if he could talk. For so may reasons, but mostly so he could tell us what symptoms he feels and is having before he collapses. And also what he would like us to do. What would he choose if it were up to him. That is the really hard part with animals, we have to guess at what they are feeling…in every way.

dogs · Journal

Brogan’s heart update – part 2

I’ll give a brief recap for those of you who haven’t read the original post, or first update. Brogan is in heart failure, has been for a while, but in the last couple of months he started having more collapses and other strange episodes that kinda pointed towards his heart deteriorating. We ended up repeating his echocardiogram and that showed that his heart wasn’t deteriorating, but didn’t explain what was causing him to have more symptoms. So the cardiologist recommended a few things. You can read the full post here and the follow up here

We finally got all of Brogan’s test results back. One of the tests that they wanted done was for Lyme disease. Lyme disease hasn’t been studied a lot in dogs yet, but the cardiologist figured it was worth ruling out. That is a very simple blood test, and we got those results fairly quick…negative…which is fantastic news, but left more questions as to what might be causing his issues.

The next thing they recommended was discontinuing 2 of his medications, so we discontinued one immediately. The other one has mixed information as to how to discontinue it, do you do it cold turkey, or do you wean them of. I decided to play it safe and slowly wean him off over a 2 week period. While we were in the process of weaning him off that drug we got him fitted with a holter monitor to monitor his hearts electrical activity for an extended period of time. This is the same tool that they use with people. Instead of giving a brief snippet of your hearts rhythm and electrical impulses it gives an extended reading so that the cardiologist can see what happens with your heart in your normal daily routine.

Brogan getting shaved and fitted for his holter monitor

We had his monitor set for 48 hours in the hopes that we could capture an “episode” during that time. He got it put on on a Friday and wore it until Sunday, while doing everything we would normally do on a weekend. I took it off Sunday afternoon and then dropped it back off at the Vet clinic on Monday. Of course he didn’t have any episodes, but I was hoping we would get something useful from it anyway.

While we were waiting for those results we had gotten him off the 2 medications that the cardiologist recommended and both my hubby and I noticed that Brogan seemed younger, more goofy and definitely more energetic. He never wants to come back from a walk now, and will bug Rosco to play with him again. It’s fantastic to see him seem so young again.

Yesterday we got word that his holter monitor didn’t show anything significant. That is great news, but does leave the question of his symptoms getting worse unanswered, however, that being said I kinda think it was his one medication. In all my reading about that medication it shows that some of the side effects of it in people are exactly what he was displaying, dizziness, fainting and headaches are listed in people, we definitely saw the first 2 in him. So perhaps we have our answer…and I’m sure hoping that we do. Because if it was as simple as discontinuing 2 drugs to get our goofy Brogan back I will take it.

I’m undecided if that means we will brave off leash excursions again, or just stick to on leash walks and increasing those for now. But whatever we do, I’m celebrating the fact that he feels great, and seems much younger than his soon to be 7 years. So here’s hoping that we have the answer and we get to enjoy him for many many more years to come.

dogs · Journal

Brogan and Rosco

I am amazed that these 2 have been part of our lives for almost 7 years already. It seems like just yesterday that we got them and were dealing with 2 crazy puppies. Now we are dealing with 2 very spoiled (but well behaved…or mostly well behaved) adult dogs. They travel with me for work almost every day, and for some strange reason love it. I love having travelling companions, they are great company for me when I’m travelling all alone. Hotels and strange towns are less lonely when you have 2 travelling partners. They are the best hotel guests, probably because they have been “working” with me on the road since they were 8 weeks old, and hotels have been a huge part of that.

Brogan and Rosco lounging in a hotel room (I bring blankets to cover all the bedding)

They also love exploring new places with me and we have found a lot of cool places in our off leash excursions in different communities.

A few of our off leash excursions

Sometimes we go to off leash dog parks and sometimes we just explore and see what we can discover. That has changed for us in the last few months because I’m not brave enough to risk Brogan’s heart in off leash excursions and have limited his excitement with other dogs to just hanging out with his brother. Instead we are doing on leash exploration. Not as much fun for any of us. But definitely worth the sacrifice if we can keep Brogan happy and healthy.

Rosco is the usual navigator, but sometimes Brogan takes on the important task instead of sleeping in the back seat.

They are both social butterflies and love meeting new people. That wasn’t always the case with Rosco. He needed a lot of work to gain confidence and understand that most people are friendly and not out to hurt him. He still isn’t as “brave” in new situations as what Brogan is, but the pair of them make a great team. Brogan thinks that everyone is his best friend and his confidence helps Rosco have enough courage to brave the new situation.

These 2 have brought us so much love and happiness that I truly hope that we have them for many many more years.