I Love Google… & Dawny

Did you know that by the time blood work shows evidence of kidney disease in your dog, the kidneys have already lost about two-thirds of their function?  Google hit me with that little tidbit.

I love Google.  It puts a world of information at your fingertips.  I know there are other search engines out there, but I have been using Google for ages.  I like how the word “Google” rolls around in the mouth.

Having Google in your pocket is like having a best friend on beck and call any hour of day or night.  “Hey!  Google!  Wake up!  What should I do about…”  this or that bothersome little issue or full-grown crisis?  And Google calmly returns with answers.  Answers that can put your situation into perspective.  You have to sift carefully through search results because there is a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat.  But if you look at enough of the hits (avoiding the ones that are advertisements for something they are trying to sell), you can start to separate the more reliable information from the junk.

So, last week after Dawny’s vet appointment, I returned to my computer and asked Frau Google:  “What should I feed a dog who has kidney disease?”

A low (but high quality) protein and low phosphorus diet was the common denominator from the Googlian hits to my question.  Also, she should be getting 35-50% more calcium than phosphorus.  I found a wealth of information from experts and common folk alike, including recipes for homemade food to help my four-legged loved one live as long and as well as possible.

Dawny’s new diet will be a work in progress and adjusted as I see how she does, but this is what I have determined so far:

Ground beef.  Beef has less phosphorus than chicken or turkey.  Also, fatty beef is better than lean since it has less protein.  Apparently dogs don’t have the same issues we humans do when it comes to cholesterol and heart disease from fatty meat.

Rice.  While brown rice has much more nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, and fiber), white rice has less protein and less phosphorus.  Because the outer hull is discarded from white rice, arsenic and other harmful minerals that are often absorbed by rice when it is being grown becomes less of a problem.  Given Dawny’s need for as clean a diet as possible, I am going to try white rice.

The need for a clean diet is also why it is important to provide high quality water.  Distilled water is great.  Nice to know, since that is what I have been giving her ever since she came to live with us.

Egg whites are a source of very high quality protein, but egg yolks are high in phosphorus.  So, more yellow for me on egg day!

Moringa Leaf powder–given to us by some good friends who love Dawny dearly–is loaded with nutrients that she might be missing out on by eating less commercial dog food.  Better yet, its protein content is high quality and it contains way more calcium than phosphorus.  Perfect for the kidneys.  I mix about a teaspoonful in with the dollop of plain yogurt she gets at lunch time and she loves it.  Yogurt is also a good source of calcium and is a high quality protein food, not to mention all the good it does replenishing intestinal flora.

Sweet potatoes and green beans nicely mashed together will give her great fiber content and more vitamins and minerals.  We had a dog once (yay, Buster!) who made it to 18 years old back when I used to always cook for our dogs.  His diet was primarily ground meat, rice, and green beans.

I will still feed my girl some commercial dry food, at least for awhile.  She simply eats too much (four to five times a day/night when she is feeling well) for me to keep up with her in the kitchen.  That will also help meet her need for certain nutrients that dog food manufacturers add to their formulations.

The dry dog food I’ve been using with good success for about a year, when Dawny’s digestive problems started in ernest, is Rachel Ray’s Zero Grain Salmon and Sweet Potato.  It is lower in protein and higher in fiber than most other dry food and fairly easy to find at many Walmarts and most grocery stores.  As I shop around, I will look closely at the nutritional info panel on other options and may switch if I find a lower protein and phosphorus mix.

If Dawny loses her appetite down the road, I will probably phase the commercial food completely out.  We shall cross that bridge when we get there.  Meanwhile, I am looking forward to spoiling her with home-cooked supplemental meals.  She has always been a food hound, so I know it will be greatly appreciated, and she will feel like the Queen that she is.

Thanks, Google!

I love you, Dawny.

(The photo at the top of this post is of Dawny in her camouflage-patterned winter coat, bought and modeled when we were in Texas.  She likes it waaaaay better than her stupid sweater.  All she needs is a gun rack!  Oh, and a final note:  Exercise, exercise, exercise!  Whenever your pup is feeling up to it, get them out for a lovely stroll, especially after a meal.  It helps with their digestive process and, most importantly, their frame of mind… and yours.)

J.O.Y.

Saturday

Ann called today.  She is a friend from my days in Virginia, including the time when I ran a small personal services business.  Ann worked with me in that business for a while, but we knew each other primarily from church.  A few years ago, she and her family moved to south Florida.

Today Ann was passing the exit for my winter campground on her way to Georgia.  She thought of me so she gave me a call.  We had a nice chat as I lay curled up in my bed with Dawny, who hasn’t been feeling so hot lately.  Today she has had a particularly bad spell.

Ann and I chatted for awhile about this and that.  Then she mentioned that their family recently lost their beloved dog, Skipper.  Rather than crying and moaning about his death, Ann happily told me how they gave Skipper a roaring send-off, complete with a doggy bucket list.

It was a bucket list to die for.  It included chocolate and beer.  I think that if Skipper asked for it, they would have provided him with a smoke.  He enjoyed a day with Daddy on his boat and a walk in the woods without a leash….  That last one was a little scary since he got a bit away from them and poor Ann was afraid they would have to call the vet to cancel the euthanasia appointment because Skipper got himself lost in the woods.  But he came back.  And they made their appointment.  Talk about irony on top of irony.

Ann said that what has gotten her through this time–in addition to fond memories of Skipper’s life and his final days–was the acronym J.O.Y.  She explained the “J” is for Jesus, the “O” is for Others, and the “Y” is for Yourself.  If you look at the world through this kind of construct, it can help get you through some of those challenging times.  You put Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.

Jesus.  Well, I sure didn’t want to go into it over the phone, or even in person should we meet later this month as planned, but I have a real problem with the whole organized religion thing.  So let’s not even get started on that.

But if I think of what the person, the concept of Jesus means to me in a spiritual sense, it does carry a particular meaning and weight.  Simply and purely put, Jesus is Love.

Ok, I can go with that.

Others.  In the context of losing a loved one, Ann explained that you look only at what is best for them.  Ann and her husband knew that Skipper was in pain and was suffering.  They had the power to cut that suffering short, releasing the little fellow from his time here in this world.  They gave Skipper a few super special days celebrating his life and their life together.  Then they released him.

Yourself.  Putting yourself last allows you to let go of your loved one.  The only thing that matters is what is best for them.  And you give that to them with love in your heart.  It is not about you.  It is all about them.

Until they are gone.

Then it can be about you.

Ann sounded very joyful on the phone today.

As I sit here with a listless Dawny at my feet, however, I weep.  Mostly for me.  Selfish, self-absorbed me.

**********

Sunday

Oh, joy!  Dawny woke up hungry and ready for her morning walk.  She did a loop and a half around the park with no problem and when the workampers’ golf cart drove by, she tried to chase it down in hopes of catching a cookie or two.

Love, except in its purest form–attainable only by God and Dog, in my opinion–is based on self-interest.  That doesn’t make it bad.  Just human.  And this highly imperfect human is grateful for every day with her nearly perfect Dog.

Today’s post is dedicated to Miss Ashley (Texas ranch dog extraordinaire), Missy and Benji (beloved canine companions belonging to friends at this winter campground), and, of course, Skipper.  Rest in peace, and bless your sweet souls for your faithful love and devotion to your respective humans.