Dear Heidi. She now has cystitis. How can one endure so much going on with her system & yet remain so bright & vital, filled with love for each day & those she encounters on her journey through life.
I was looking back through her (many) photos & was struck by the changes in her eyes. In her early pictures she looks slightly vacant, or resigned to her fate. At this stage I felt that she may make it to Christmas. Then over Christmas she started to twinkle at us & you can see her whole face relaxing. Her facial expression is somewhat different in that she now clearly smiles, sometimes even grinning at us & you can see it both in her mouth but especially in her eyes. She’s one cheeky girl!
Thank you world for sending Heidi to us.
We had a wonderful day trip at Easter to Pembrokeshire to drop off my old van - Greenacres Rescue are going to make good use of it & it looked as though it would be well loved too! It was just so amazing to be able to show them Heidi. Who’d have thought she’d get this far? Both Sarah & Mikey remarked on how bright her eyes are & how strong she is (they were more discreet about her weight but she was a little scrap when they last saw her!!).
A few days prior to this I’d been remembering her energy when she arrived here last November. I’d spent some time with her giving her healing & TTouch & then went over to Meg to give her some loving & her strength was such that I had to take a step back from her. Heidi had so little at the time that the contrast was quite overwhelming. After remembering this, I went to kiss Heidi on the top of her head & she really pushed her head up into my face, almost as though she was saying, “That was then, this is now. Look at how strong I am now.” Since this day she has found ways to demonstrate her new found strength to us - a cock of the head with a jink from side to side, running full pelt around the well or doing her little foot tapping dance she does when she’s excited. You cannot imagine the joy I feel when I see her & feel her now.
The raw diet is being eaten with gusto & we are now very gradually cutting back the portions. We are unable to change it to 1 meal a day as she has supplements needed for 3 so she’ll just get less. Poor girl has gone from being slightly less than bothered about food to being obsessed. Our 13 year old Dyson packed up last week & she has been doing a great job of picking through the fluff for us!
We went for a lovely walk in Pembs, up the valley from Nevern towards the Llwyngwair Manor. It was the longest walk she’d had for a while & loved paddling in the mud & sniffing the flowers. On the return we took Meg down to the river (she’s part duck) & the 2 of them had the best time ever! I have some lovely pictures in the new camera but have yet to work out how to transfer them. Heidi & Meg were really sparkling (pretty wet too) - I hope I can share them soon along with the video.
Heidi’s lump is still pretty large, but it doesn’t appear to be bothering her. I was giving it far more attention than was healthy so have decided to not bother with it unless it starts to bother Heidi. If the lump wasn’t there you really wouldn’t feel there was anything amiss - she’s lively, bonny & bright & just so full of life. Who could ask for more?
Isn’t hindsight wonderful? I’d noticed HRH spending more time than usual licking her bum from either last week or the week before. It suddenly occurred to me last night that she’s not been spayed… Heidi’s in season! Again, she’s taking it all in her stride & not being tarty with the cat as Meg is usually (then it’s the postman, but that’s another story).
I re-read my copy of “Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats” by Kymythy Schultze last night. One of its joys is that it can be read from cover to cover within an hour & it has so much useful & relevant information. There is one section I’d like to quote here which confirmed my thoughts on the CV247 diet:-
“In 1997, oncologists from Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine published diet recommendations to help combat … cancer. Their recommendations suggest excluding lactate- & glucose-containing fluids, because cancer cells thrive on sugars & create lactate as a waste product. Lactate poisons the animal by depleting its energy, thus weakening it. The study recommends limiting sugars & simple carbohydrates. The researchers concluded that a diet relatively high in fat & low in simple carbohydrates resulted in a longer survival time for cancer victims.”
“Of note is the fact that cancer cells cannot utilise fat, which is an excellent natural energy source for dogs & cats. They also found that omega-3 fatty acids reduce lactate levels & have the ability to reduce or eliminate metastatic disease. Since heat & hydrogenation destroy these essential fatty acids, raw foods are a good source of these vital nutrients.”
“Sugar comes in many forms. Many processed & even “natural” foods contain sugars. Grain & dairy products are biologically inappropriate sources of sugar for dogs & cats. The study also recommends feeding protein that is highly biodegradable. The body cannot utilize nutrients if it can’t easily break down the food within the body.”
from “Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats” by Kymythy Schultze (my dog nutrition bible!)
Kymythy recommends only feeding one meal a day as dogs are not designed to have food nearly constantly in the gut, but as HRH is on 3 meals we need to consider this change carefully. I changed her breakfast this morning from her usual mix of everything plus her supplements to a small amount of porridge (which will be phased out) to which I added a little of her meat ration & 1/2 the liver to cook slightly in the heat from the porridge. A finely whizzed carrot was mixed in with her supplements & my love was poured in with it. It is beginning to feel better, but still needs a fair amount of tweaking. I had to ask Chris to check she was eating it & was amazed when he said the bowl was empty & she was trying to remove the pattern!
This is completely by-the-by but life would be so much easier if both the dogs ate the same food. We tried to work out how many hens we’d need to keep if we started to “build” our own organic food as it is so expensive. When we got to 36 as a rolling number we realised it would be a little uncontrollable plus we’d be up to our necks in chicken pooh! We’ll find a way - after all we live in the midst of rural Wales surrounded by farms…
R & H x
Heidi is doing so well; she has her usual bounce back & is merrily circling her way around the dining room. She was a little unsettled when the out-laws first arrived (coinciding with her bump expansion so she was probably feeling a bit grim), but they quickly fell in love with each other.
Heidi is now wearing her t-shirt & grrra daily (we take it off at night on the basis that I’d hate to wear one all night!). Thankfully, I’m a bit rubbish at throwing old things out so was able to massacre a bra & stitch it to the bottom edge of her t-shirt & use one of the straps around her hind leg to hold it in place comfortably. I continue to be surprised at how cool the lump is within its sling but can only assume that friction has been reduced. She is certainly able to gallop around the garden at full tilt while she pursues Meg with her ball.
I decided to go with white in case anything untoward happens to the lump; it would be easier to see if anything gets damaged underneath with white, but it will also need cleaning more often. I will use a gentle handwash so the amount of chemicals potentially being transferred to her system through very thin skin will be reduced.
A childhood watching Blue Peter was not wasted…
I have been curious at how many people are focused on an animals ill-ness as opposed to their well-ness. It’s been tricky with this blog so far as it has been about her daily life with illness, but it can be very easy to take ones eyes off the ball & miss the well bits. Yes, Heidi has a variety of lumps over her body, a bad heart, a dodgy liver, hypothyroidism & who knows what else, but when you look at her you can only wonder at how healthy she looks, how light her step & how bright her eyes are.
On the diet front I have been getting an increasing feeling that I need to move her onto a mainly raw diet. She loves her cooked food but I do feel she’s missing something from the nutrients with it being cooked. There are so many conflicting pieces of advice for dogs with cancer - feed carbs, don’t feed carbs; reduce protein, increase protein; fats good, fats bad. It’s very easy to get into a flat spin so I decided to take my own advice - trust your instinct.
We will lightly steam some of her veg & chop it up finely in the blender. Her raw veg will go through the juicer & she can have that with a small amount of porridge, & the potatoes / rice / pasta will be cut right back to a balance with her greens. The CV247 diet specifies a large amount of carbs which doesn’t sit right for Heidi (it is possibly fine for another dog). The fish & liver will be fed raw or made into treats. The more people speak about their experiences with John Carter, the more I wonder at where the diet came from which is given with the CV247 now. Wheatgrass & carrot juice is mentioned, a supplement called Tryplase, the liver being fed raw, & so on. It’s all very confusing so I’m returning to a diet which isn’t hugely different to the one provided but may feel more “alive” when being fed. When her mix is made up daily it feels faintly sluggish whereas Meg’s food feels vital & alive (she’s fed all raw). I can only work with what I feel (unless I’m given irrefutable evidence otherwise).
I’ll let you know how it goes.
R & Hx
We have stopped the homeopathic Phytolacca (which we were giving after her lump disappeared & for mastitis / mammarian cancer) as we suspect it may have been stirring things up too much & are speculating this may have contributed to the flare up at the weekend. Heidi is very happy & has resumed her bed rotation at night instead of just sticking with one all night which she’d done from Friday. She’s now wearing her sling very happily (an old bra cup attached to her t-shirt &a piece of elastic which holds it in place). I have been surprised at how cool her lump remains in it, but it has been pointed out that previously it would have been swinging from side to side which could have either created some inflamation &/or soreness or just increased the blood-flow. We’ll have to watch in case she gets jogger’s nipple…
I have been getting far too involved in outcomes recently & realise I need to let go of them. I’m doing what I can to support her, friends & other lovely people are sending her what you can to help her, she is loving her life & the rest is really unknown therefore worrying is pretty pointless. In being concerned about her future, how can I truly appreciate her today? I’ll tell you something, she’s having a lovely day filled with Meg, her food, people around her to fuss, tickle & scratch her, comfortable beds in just about every conceivable position to make the most of sunshine (where’s that gone then?), the cool, the warmth, the soft, the peaceful & the most advantageous place to watch food being prepared.
I ended up on the floor with HRH last night. With mother in law on the sofa (we’re nothing but hospitable here) I took my bed under the stairs with Heidi. She didn’t budge from her bed (dog, not MiL) all night, which is unusual for her. There were moments when I stretched my hand out to check she was still ok & she was so deeply asleep that she did not stir. The lump this morning is still large, but is slightly less tight within the skin.
I have wondered what caused the change -I was burning some thyme & eucalyptus oils for MiL who has a stinking cold & a cough as they appeared to help. Heidi had had a busy couple of days; it’s so easy to get carried away with her as her whole face lights up when playing. Good bit of mental health stuff. Yesterday she slept very little, I think just from the change in routine & resumed her position as “Velcro Dog of the Year”.
Everyone else has gone out for the day & I’m hoping that she can catch up on some z’s
10pm - I have just felt Heidi’s lump & it is bigger than it has ever been before & really quite tight inside the skin. It is the first time I have felt concerned about it bursting & am unsure what to do. I have just spoken to Lesley (on call vet) who has suggested that if it were in serious danger of bursting Heidi would be showing some signs of discomfort (licking, whining,etc), there may be a discharge or signs of thinning of the skin. None of these apply & she seems quite bright (although tired after a day of family).
Lesley has also suggested we stop the Phytolacca until Monday when I can speak to Barbara to see whether this may be having some influence on HRH’s lump.
Please may we have a quiet week with her this week?