Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Family, part 2.

Here we are back in the den. All of us. Of all the rooms we hang out in together, other than the bathroom this is the smallest. So lets see how many impossible camera angles I can try out to record the latest love fest. I was backed into a corner sitting on the desk for some of them. If you look closely at the first picture notice where Bess is looking. I was holding the camera down at waist level while she was looking at my face. The earlier post today had a photo taken last night. These photos were taken a few hours ago.

Bess getting along with her new job, everywhere.

First of all, I don't think Bess realizes how big she has gotten. She probably remembers when she was little and she'd wrap herself around the base of my chair. I've been seeing evidence the last few days that she likes to lay close to Ruffin and the only purpose seems to be the comfort him. Now last night I found the two of them had crowded into my den and laid down right behind my swivel chair while I was working on the computer. It took some work for me to squeeze out of the chair because they had me wedged in under the desk top.

I finally got free and grabbed my camera but the extremely close quarters made composing a decent photo a bit difficult. So I raised the camera as high over my head as I could reach and pointed it to the floor. Then I had to rotate the photo which resulted in the odd looking framing.

Yes, those are my two feet in the lower left.
Wow, I just noticed how clean the floor looks. I used the flash in bounce mode and it really lit up the floor boards.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The amazing story about the incredible Nikko Bear.

Of all the old stories I have written on this blog none has the drama and excitement as this one about Nikko Bear's incredible overnight recovery from spinal cord surgery. I originally wrote this on my old web site when it happened back in 2000. Then I included it as an epilogue when Nikko passed away in 2004. I think you will agree it is an amazing story.

You've probably heard the phrase "mind over matter" but do you know the things that motivate a Rottweiler more than anything else? Would you believe "FOOD" was at the top of their list? Here is the true story about Nikko Bear's miraculous recovery from spinal cord surgery motivated by nothing more than a home cooked meal.
Photo of Mocha and Nikko in the bath tub.
During the early morning hours on Tuesday, July 11, 2000 - Nikko Bear decided to jump down off his Mom's bed where he sleeps every night. He must have landed the wrong way because we found him laying in the upstairs bath tub when we got up and he had trouble getting out of it. (I need to add that the bath tubs in our house were the favorite spots for their naps and that we called them their fortress of solitude.) We noticed Nikko was walking with difficulty and decided to take him to the vet. After x-rays were taken we were told a lesion was found on his spine.
Wednesday, July 12th we started looking for an Orthopedic specialist for a second opinion. Nikko Bear was now having a lot of trouble walking.
Thursday, July 13th Nikko Bear became paralyzed in his hind legs. Two ladies named Kristen and Dianna who worked at our veterinarian's office Fort Wright Pet Care (now called Noah's Ark) were most likely responsible for setting the stage for The Bear's recovery. Kristen contacted by telephone what is probably the best place in the entire mid-west for surgical treatment, Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine located in Columbus, Ohio - about 120-miles away.

Get Nikko to Columbus before 4:00pm and they would look at him, we were told. We broke some speed limits on the way. We made the 120 mile trip in less than 2 hours.

Later that night after we returned home we got a phone call from Dr. Michael Podell, the surgeon from OSU who told us that he operated on Nikko Bear and removed a ruptured a disk from his spine between the L4 and L5 vertebrae. Dr. Podell said Nikko's spinal cord had suffered severe trauma and had extensive swelling and bruising. 

We were extremely fortunate to have such talented people as Dr. Michael Podell, Associate Professor of Small Animal Medicine perform the operation. Dr. Podell was assisted by Dr. Steven Flegel, resident in Neurology.

I was told by one of the female students who work at the OSU Veterinary Clinic that after their initial examination they decided they needed a CAT Scan of Nikko's back. At the time the school didn't have such equipment so after it got dark they snuck Nikko across the street to the Children's Hospital and did the CAT Scan there. I was so impressed with this level of dedication that I added a special compliment to this school on my web site.

Friday morning, July 14th, Dr. Podell called again. After Nikko Bear came out of the anesthesia he didn't like the place and was becoming aggressive and they could not take care of him any more. We had to come and pick him up right away.

Friday afternoon, we were ushered into a conference room and given a very grim prognosis on Nikko's future. Dr. Podell showed us how to perform physical therapy on The Bear's hind legs to prevent atrophy. We were given literature on wheeled prosthesis and told we should not expect any signs of leg movement for two weeks. It may be possible for Nikko to walk again within 4-6 weeks but the damage was too extensive to make any predictions.

Friday evening, we arrived home and I had to carry The Bear into the house and up the stairs. We made a nice bed for him in the first-floor den which looks out on the hallway to the kitchen, one of his favorite places. My wife Jacqueline had made supper and called me to come out and eat. As soon as I sat down, Nikko Bear dragged himself up onto his feet and hobbled into the kitchen walking on all four legs. This was less than 24-hours from having Spinal Cord Surgery. See the photos taken that night.

To say we were overwhelmed is an understatement. The first thing I did was place a telephone call to OSU to advise Dr. Podell that Nikko was walking. Dr. Podell couldn't believe it either and cautioned us to try and keep Nikko off his feet for a few days. That was easier said then done. Dr. Podell apparently had no experience dealing with the fortitude of a mature Rottweiler.
Nikko Bear at home 24 hours after his spinal cord surgery.
Nikko Bear's recovery from that day to present has been unbelievable. He seemed to be his old happy, playful self again which makes us think he was in pain for some time before he jumped off the bed. We're just as happy to have him back. Nikko Bear lived more than four years after recovering from that surgery and those were the prime years of his life. Living a pampered, stress-free life probably allowed him to live beyond his normal life expectancy.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Young Bess getting the feel for her new job.

I've been complaining about Bessie not helping out with Ruffin. I was beginning to think that maybe she wasn't old enough to understand he needed someone to keep him company because he was blind. Well today I caught a glimpse of her doing just what I wanted her to do. In the hallway she was lying down next to her big friend.

Pictures do say more than a thousand words so here is what I captured with my camera.
Good job Bess. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Staying alive by keeping the flame lit

Its taken awhile to get things back to normal. But now I've begun to wonder what the new normal is supposed to be as opposed to the old normal. This blog is a perfect example of the conundrum. I fully expected that whatever frequent followers I had would slowly drift away and never come back if they came here and found nothing to read or look at. There just happened to be too many tragedies within a short period of time that sort of left me a bit shell shocked.

I don't want to dwell on the subject too much or too often but almost at the same time when Ruff started generating expensive medical bills, old man Axl had a couple of severe seizures and had to be put to sleep. I said back then that this was going to be a very bad year and it certainly was. But I was determined to stop it from getting worse. I had to do whatever could be done to keep my big guy Ruffin alive because I needed him. A friend of this blog suggested I start a Go Fund Me campaign and I did but it only raised a fraction of the total cost of the medical bills for Ruff. So I created a page on Facebook to help spread the word but while I received hundreds of "Likes" and "Hearts" I don't think it added much to donations. It would seem that too many people on Facebook failed to realize the importance of "Sharing" the news I was trying to spread around. At least I was getting some beneficial therapy from reading the comments to my postings there. The kind thoughts and words and prayers helped keep me going.
If there was one benefit that I could point to from all of this it was the new friendships I made with some of the followers of this blog that I had never communicated with before. I was humbled to read a few of their messages and how similar they sounded. How they stumbled on this blog years ago and how my stories and photos brought so much joy to their lives that they wanted to return the favor. Reading thoughts like that did more to lift my spirits than anything. And surprisingly they came from all walks of life from all over the world. A wonderful young woman from Minnesota who has since become a cherished pen-pal, another from Malaysia, a third from Australia and the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom and from North Carolina and a retired college professor from Virginia and an old friend from Arizona and a long time friend from South Africa. They have all helped me stay alive by letting me become part of their lives.

Then the double whammy hit here at home. My beloved Jacqueline's health took a turn for the worse and while the hospice nurses were not making any predictions I knew it was not going to turn around. The day after Ruff came home from the hospital Jacqueline ended her 10-year battle with Alzheimer's and passed away in her sleep on Sunday, March 19th. And my world turned upside down.

So began my adjustment to a new life living alone with my remaining two best friends but no more human companionship. But now I had a new job being Ruffin's nursemaid and his seeing eye human.

With a spate of bad weather keeping us indoors there wasn't much going on in the way of writing funny stories about my Rottweilers so I began to retell the stories about how this love affair with them began.

Luckily I have tons of photos taken over the years so at least I had some material to work with. And the wonderful memories that go along with them.
Therapy comes unexpectedly in different sizes, shapes and ways. 


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Postscript. When a bear is not a bear.

Now that you have read the original story about our cats and dogs and the three bears that filled our little house in Kentucky you may find this postscript a bit more on the funny side of life. Because here is a side story that happened a few years later that no one knows about. 

Mocha, Felony and Nikko were all buried next to each other in the Pet Cemetery section of Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Because Nikko and Felony were a lifelong mated pair I wanted them buried in the same grave site. Felony died first and I had designed a granite grave marker with her name on the left side with space for Nikko's name to be added on the right after he died.

Highland Cemetery reserved a large spot to accommodate three grave sites for Felony, Nikko, Mocha and Sassy, who died in 2014, and the section around them has now filled up completely with hundreds of other pets.  

Here is a photo of Nikko and Mocha visiting the grave after the marker had been placed in 2001. The last photo shows the grave site after both Nikko had died in 2004 and Mocha passed away in 2008.

I had granite grave stones engraved with each of their names as we always referred to them, Nikko Bear, Felony Bear and Mocha Bear because I was very proud to call them The Three Bears wherever we went. A photo of the two markers is below.
One day the manager of the cemetery told me he had been asked by a very concerned pet owner if there were "bears" buried among the pets. I'm not sure if the client was genuinely worried or didn't think a bear could be a pet or not but they obviously only focused on the word "Bear" and didn't read the whole grave stone.


I had promised Ruff and Bess we would visit the cemetery to see Mom and Axl. I didn't take them to either the wake or the funeral and I thought it would bring some closure, at least to me. It may sound silly but I think Ruff has been acting like he's trying to find Jacqueline in the house. I caught him several times laying his head on the green powered recliner chair where Jacqueline sat every day and he was making very stressful sounds, almost like he was crying. I must have mistaken his actions for something else because every once in awhile he would walk into a corner someplace and stand there making the same sounds like he didn't know how to back out and needed help. Then it hit me that the green recliner must still have smelled like his Mom because no one else ever sat in it so I moved it into a corner out of his reach.

While at the cemetery I cleaned up the grave markers for the other four Rottweilers buried there and took some new photos.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The story about my original Three Bears.

We graduated very quickly from a house filled with
7 cats to an oversized dog house with an entire family of adult Rottweilers. In the beginning it was complete chaos. The 7 cats had just gotten used to living with a young Rottweiler and their relationship progressed rather smoothly without any tragic events from fear to curiosity to friendship. Then overnight there appeared 2 adult Rottweilers that made it clear to our household that this was now DOG TERRITORY. So we did all that we could to keep them in separate rooms to protect life, limb and property.
Because we now had a Mamma Rott and a Pappa Rott and a Baby Rott it seemed so fitting to start referring to them as The Three Bears. After all, I quickly learned the the name Bear was a popular one for Rottweilers.
On the top right is a photo of the Tigger clan taken on Long Island before the big move to Kentucky.

I was surprised to see how quickly they learned to get along with each other. From their perspective they were living in the same house so they must all belong there as opposed to every other creature that lived outside. We had a book about Cats at the time that explained the social order they lived in and one of our cats named Butch seemed to be assigned the task of Ambassador Cat. This brave little guy had made the first overtures of friendship to Mocha when we first got her. 

And it was Butch again who bravely went up to the ferocious cat-hating Rottweiler Nikko Bear and rubbed against him and laid down next to him on the couch. And if you look closely at the photo on the left you will notice the look of defeat on Nikko Bear's face. His life has changed forever from wannabe cat-killer to cat-lover. And a few years later after the death of Butch and his twin brother Rusty from Feline Leukemia, when their father Tigger was beyond consoling, it was Nikko who comforted him. And in the strangest of ways. 

Rottweilers do everything with their mouths. They use it like we use our hands. And a few times when my Jacqueline and I were sitting on the couch with Tigger between us, Nikko Bear would walk over to us and put Tigger's head in his mouth and gently hold it for a few seconds. And Tigger seemed to understand the gesture was one of deep friendship because he would never make any effort to pull away.
The story must end on a sad note because the Tigger clan was a very close-knit family. Butch and Rusty died within weeks of each other and Tigger did not live more than a year after his twins were  gone. And after Tigger was gone Nikko Bear mopped around the house for weeks looking for his old friend. 

One consolation was there still remained one last cat in the house. A black female that walked up to me one day when I first got here and I was living in an apartment before we found our first house. I named her KC for Kentucky Cat and she became Nikko's replacement friend for Tigger. For the record, KC lived to the ripe old age of 19 before she passed away.
And by the time Nikko died in 2004 KC had also become fast friends with the newest member of our Rottweiler family, Sassy, almost to the point of being her acting foster mother along with Mocha. She ate meals with her, she slept with her and she played with her.
So all this proves what most dog lovers already know, dogs and cats can learn to live with each other and actually love each other. And don't you wish humans could learn something from them?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How it all began. My addiction to Rottweilers.

The year was 1996 and our first Rottweiler girl Mo was almost 9 months old when all of a sudden we acquired both of her parents. The addition of two more adult Rottweilers and our little house was bursting at the seams and overflowing with love. Mo's mother Felony and Mo's father Nikko had been orphaned and became part of our family. And I became hooked on this wonderful breed for life. The first thing I learned was they were people dogs. They went wherever the people went. They followed us everywhere. We were their best friends and they wanted us to know it. And they loved their new Mom more than anything. In the basement rec room laying on the couch with Mom in the middle Nikko and Felony often competed against each other for Mom's affection while baby Mocha lays on the floor. Let the pictures tell the story.

My wife Jacqueline was responsible for taking in Mo's parents after our daughter on Long Island called and said she had to move and couldn't take them with her. So while I was going to work every day my fearless spouse gets into her little Ford Escort station wagon and drives 800 miles back home by herself and picks up the two adult Rottweilers. And drives back to Kentucky a few days later. Its worth mentioning that that was only the second time they had met her.

Being the practical person I was when they arrived the first thing I did was to take them both to the Vet to get spayed and neutered. Mocha had just decided to go into her first heat on the day they arrived.

Then I began a frantic search to find a home for the two adult Rottweilers. Oh, I forgot to mention that when we came down to Kentucky with Delta Air Lines transferring me to their new hub, we brought 6 cats with us and had already adopted one more after I got here. So we had a really fun time keeping everyone separated. I had to keep Mo away from her father Nikko and keep the cats away from both Nikko and Felony. My daughter had mentioned they didn't like cats. It took a short couple of months for the new arrivals to get used to each other but by then we had one big happy family. And Nikko even became best buddies with Tigger the cat.
My frantic effort to find a home for the parents ended after two weeks. I remember the day that Felony, affectionately called Felly Girl, happened to stare into my eyes with the deepest look of love I ever felt and she actually tugged on my heart. Suddenly I began to think about what I had been doing and how wrong it was. I could never break up this wonderful family. While I was looking for a new home for them my wife was telling them that this was their forever home. Maybe Felly Girl was just bringing me up to speed letting me know what everyone else already knew.
Years later I wrote a piece on my first web site The Rottweilers of Abby's World about learning what Rottie Rules were. When I started this blog I reposted some of the old stories and you can read it here on this page from Wednesday, February 3, 2010, Do you know what Rottie Rules are?
While Ruffin is on the mend there isn't much going on around here for entertainment so retelling some old stories might pass the time. They have given me many stories to write about.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Recent developments in treating Canine Pyoderma

Because of the most recent recurrence of Pyoderma in my Rottweiler Ruffin I have done a new search for more effective treatments. My veterinarian originally put Ruff on a high dose of Cephalexin but after two weeks of no sign of improvement he sent a culture out for lab testing and found the new strain of Pyoderma was resistant to Cephalexin so he switched Ruff over to another antibiotic.
You may want to read this new report Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcal Infections: Recent Developments on this link and talk to your veterinarian about doing similar lab work.

Here are some additional useful links on effective antibiotics and topical treatments as well.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Update on Ruffin.

Since coming home from the animal hospital Ruff has been dealing with a recurrence of deep pyoderma like he had once before 8 years ago. This time the Vet started him on a long term regimen of 3000mg of Cephalexin (2 x 500mg three times a day) for 8 weeks but when it showed no sign of improvement he sent some cultures out to a lab for testing and found Ruff's infection was resistant to the Cephalexin so now Ruff is taking two new antibiotics 3000mg of Amoxicillin (3 x 500mg twice a day) and 1600mg of Sulfamethoxazole-TMP (1 x 800mg twice a day) I got the prescriptions filled at the local pharmacy instead of at the Vets office to save some money.

The new antibiotic does appear to be helping. The dried up pus scabs have broken loose and I am bathing his head with Dial antibiotic hand soap. I am surprised at the progress because the available info I found said Amoxicillin would be ineffective.
Amoxicillin, penicillin, and tetracyline are inappropriate choices for treating superficial or deep pyodermas because they are ineffective in 90% of these cases.
The antibiotic of choice has always been Cephalexin yet the cultures our Vet sent out to the lab said the current strain of bacterial infection that Ruff had was resistant to this drug. The lab report recommended a few of the drugs most responsive to treatment and the Amoxicillin was the most affordable on the list.

My initial research 8 years ago was due to an outbreak of Deep Pyoderma that the Vet was unable to control. Back then the Vet would prescribe a moderate dose of Cephalexin for 10 days which would clear it up but then two weeks later Ruff came down with another much larger infection. I found a published paper ( )   in the Journal of the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Brno, Czech Republic  "Therapy of Canine Deep Pyoderma with Cephalexins and Immunomodulators" that described in detail an 11-week long treatment of high doses of Cephalexin. I showed it to my Vet and he wrote out a prescription for 3 months supply and I filled it at WalMart. It did the job and Ruff never had a repeat until after he had the radiation treatment.
There is still no signs of improvement in Ruff's eyesight but he learned to walk slowly around the house to avoid bumping into the furniture. He has always managed to find his way into the kitchen at dinner time when he hears me opening up the cans of dog food.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ruffin dealing with new problems since leaving the hospital

Ruff came home from the hospital 3 weeks ago with an outbreak of pyoderma. It wasn't responding to the normal daily treatment of 3000mg (6x500mg) of cephalexin so 10 days ago our veterinarian took some cultures and sent them out to a lab for testing. Ruffin's lab work came back today and this nasty strain of bacterial infection was apparently resistant to the cephalexin so the vet put Ruff on new prescriptions for sulfamethoxazole-tmp 1600mg (2x800mg) and amoxicillin 3000mg (6x500mg) a day. 

Still no improvement in his eyesight but it is still a bit early according to the oncologist. The previous post about my suspicion of some return of vision proved to be false. Two days after I wrote that I had Ruff outside in front of the house and the very same person came down the street pushing the stroller and Ruff paid no attention when they passed us by.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

I saw an encouraging thing happen yesterday with Ruffin

I am not sure if this is the beginning of a sign of improvement in Ruff's vision or not but I certainly hope it is.
Yesterday I had Ruff out front on his leash to pee and while I was walking him back and forth across the grass I spotted someone coming down the street pushing a baby stroller. Ruff turned his head as if to look at them as they approached and then he turned his head following them as they passed us by and he continued to point his head in their direction as they walked down the block.
There were no discernible sounds made by the person walking or the stroller that I could hear that would account for Ruff's actions based solely upon his hearing so he must have been detecting some movement with his eyes. Keeping fingers crossed and still saying prayers that I am right.