Soldier On

When I had a molar pulled a few months ago, I understood that I’d be on a soft-food diet until I got my stitches out ten days after the extraction.  Ten days seemed like an awfully long time to go without any food that crunched, especially since so many of my favorite foods fall into that category.  Still, I got through it, and was really looking forward to a return to normal eating the day the stitches were removed.

But it turned out that I was wrong about that ten-day thing.  Because the morning I had my stitches removed, the dentist casually informed me that my soft food diet needed to continue for another ten days, until he removed the membrane that was protecting the new bone graft he put in my jaw.  Even worse, I’d be out of town the week I was supposed to come in for the procedure, so I’d actually be on soft foods for at least another two weeks.  So much for the celebratory dinner of all things crunchy, especially nachos, I’d planned for that night.

I can’t say that I enjoyed my three-plus weeks on a soft-food diet, but I did get used to it.  What had seemed like a horrible inconvenience soon became a minor annoyance, and I learned to get creative with my food.  (I found that I actually could eat nachos, as long as I stuck to the really soggy chips at the bottom of the pile.)  My most recent dental procedure has me on another ten days of soft foods, and this time it honestly feels like no big deal at all.  It’s amazing what we can get used to when we have no choice.

Last week our dog, Finn, tested positive for heart worms at his annual check up, and he’s already begun his four-month treatment program.  He’ll be on antibiotics for four weeks, and then four weeks after that he’ll get the first of three injections that will actually kill the worms that have taken up residence in his heart.  It will take almost four months to complete his treatment, and during that time we’re supposed to keep him calm and quiet.  Because if he gets too excited a chunk of worms could break off and cause a nasty, and most likely fatal, reaction.

fullsizeoutput_5988It’s going to be a real challenge to try to keep a two-year old terrier calm and quiet for four months, especially when he’s feeling just fine, which he will be except for the days immediately following the injections.  We’re talking about a dog we call “Bubbles” because of his bubbly personality, and who loves to spend his days running full speed around the yard and who goes berserk every time he sees his leash or he thinks it’s dinner-time.

The prospect seems daunting now, but all we can do is take it one day at a time.  We’re already realizing that some of the trips we had planned for this Spring and Summer might not happen, and we’ll make whatever other adjustments are needed to make sure we take the best possible care of our dog.  This wasn’t what any of us wanted, but it’s what we got.  Yet we’ll get used to it, and we’ll get through it.  Because as everyone who has ever dealt with a long-term issue, no matter how big or how small it may be, knows….sometimes we just have to “soldier on.”

99 thoughts on “Soldier On

  1. Hi Ann – I cannot remember whether you bought a copy of “Who Said I was up for Adoption?”, but I dealt with heartworm in considerable detail in the book. Ray came to us and tested positive and, like you, we had to find some ways of getting him to change his intuitive behaviours. It was a long year that year … but we all obviously survived it!

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    • I have a feeling that book will be a good resource in the coming months, Colin! Several dogs at our shelter have come in heart worm positive and are treated for it before they are available for adoption, often in foster homes, so I was familiar with the treatment. But until now, it hasn’t been my responsibility to keep them quiet. Should be an interesting experience!

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    • Hi CM – I don’t know Ann’s location, but that could answer your question.When we adopted Ray in 2013, here in S.Ontario there were few recorded cases of heartworm. Our local shelter, being 100% donation funded, did not feel that the considerable costs involved in testing every dog that came through their doors would justify the (perceived) isolated case of a positive test result. Ray may have been the “turning point” in that policy as we believe that all dogs are now tested, and heartworm is no longer an isolated occurrence around here. Thought you might be interested.

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      • Thanks for that answer, Colin! I’m glad to know that the shelter where Ray came from now tests as well, even though it really is very expensive. I’m sorry you know what we’re going through, but glad it turned out well for you two as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree, Mimi, it’s horrible! Before I started volunteering at the shelter, I was sometimes lax about giving my dogs their heart worm preventative pills. (I didn’t know any dog who had heart worm, so I wasn’t that worried about it.) But once I saw how many dogs are infested with heart worms and how hard it is to treat it, I became vigilant about giving those pills! The only good thing is seeing dogs that come into the shelter with heart worm successfully complete their treatment and then get adopted into a good home…because they really deserve a good home after all that!

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      • Mimi, actually he was tested for heart worm twice at the shelter, and came up negative both times. So that’s why they didn’t treat him. The problem was that he must have been very recently infected when those tests were done, because the tests don’t pick it up at the really early stages. (Since the worms are transmitted through the blood in mosquito bites, they are tiny at that point.) I was very surprised when he tested positive a year later at his check up, and the vet sent the sample out to an independent lab for verification. It was just one of those flukes of VERY bad timing, sadly. If he has tested positive at the shelter, they would have treated him before he was made available for adoption. That’s their standard procedure. Thanks for the comment, and it’s good to know that the SPCA also tests and treats for heart worm!

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    • You’re right, Alan! Sometimes the adjustments are rather easy (like giving up crunchy food for a few weeks) and sometimes they’re sort of hard (like having a dog with heart worm) and sometimes they’re horrible (like having a loved one with a very serious cancer that may or may not be treatable). But whatever happens, we have to adjust and keep the faith!

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    • Thanks so much Donna! Believe me, my first reaction to all of the news was to have a pity party. But then I got it out of my system and realized that wasn’t helping anyone or anything. Taking it one step at a time and believing in our ability to cope is a much better response. Bubbles and I will get through this!!

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  2. So sorry to hear about the heartworm, but glad there is an effective treatment. Can’t imagine keeping a two-year-old dog quiet for four months, though. I admire your attitude.

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    • I know! If we could only tell him why he has to stay calm, I know he’s actually give it his best shot. He’s hyper, but he’s also a rather obedient dog who likes to please. (Except where food is concerned….all bets are off when it comes to food!)

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    • Thanks!! I’ve seen many dogs come through this treatment successfully, so that’s a positive thing. We just have to figure out how to keep him as calm as possible, and I’m guessing we’ll learn that as we go.

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    • Yes, it will be a challenge for sure! I don’t know about other shelters, but the one where I volunteer does their best to get the dogs being treated for heart worm into a quiet foster home. That helps them stay much calmer than they would be if they stayed at the shelter. While they’re at the shelter, they’re on restrictions for exercise: a very short walk outside for a potty break, and that’s it.

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    • Thanks, Anabel! I do feel sorry for him, because he’s naturally such an active, happy dog (hence the name Bubbles). As for my dental issues, I’m beginning to think that spending lots of time in the dentist’s chair is my personal destiny. Thank goodness for dental insurance!

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  3. Oh, goodness, Ann, it really is true, then. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” You have an amazing attitude, but after such a busy year, here you are soldiering on with the latest. I wish you well! (As for that diet!! Well, what do I say?!!)

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    • Thanks so much! You would think that at age 61, I would know better than to make plans, wouldn’t you? But seriously, after my initial shock and self pity, I did just realize that this is just another hurdle to get over, and I really believe that it will all work out. As for the diet….thank goodness wine doesn’t crunch!

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  4. Poor little Finn. I hope his treatment goes well, Ann. That will be a job and a half trying to keep him calm because you can’t even put his lead on him to take him out the back to do his business. At least he is small enough that you can pick him up to take him outside. At our place we use wire bins to construct temporary fences for those areas we want to keep the dogs out of. We have many of them and we have bought some clips/pegs from the hardware store to clip them all together in whichever configuration suits us. They are so light that they are easy to move around the yard. Maybe you could buy something like that an erect a small outdoor enclosure for Finn? https://www.bunnings.com.au/tumbleweed-garden-waste-storage-cage_p3160046

    Re your dental work, you will so enjoy your nachos when your teeth are good as new again. Hooray. 🙂

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    • Thank you, for the link, Tracy! That’s a really good idea. We have used chicken wire to fence off parts of the yard where we’re trying to grow new grass before, but I really think that sectioning off part of the yard for Finn’s bathroom use would work. That way, we can leave him outside to walk around and enjoy the fresh air, but he won’t have enough room to really run around (or go “psycho pup” as we call it.) Seriously, thanks…this is a terrific option!

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  5. I’m sorry about what you’ve been through with your tooth and now with Finn – but am so thankful you shared this lesson learned with us. To soldier on is an attitude I often need as our special Aaron can take a lot out of me. Thank you for this blog! I’ll remember you and your great attitude when I feel mine slipping.

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    • Oh, Patty, I admire your strength and believe me, I admire what a great job you do with your son. What is a temporary inconvenience for me is a lifelong challenge for you. And when you can’t muster a positive attitude, that’s okay…sometimes we just need to allow ourselves to be “down” for a little while. As long as we remember to get back up, and you’ll always do that!

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  6. Keep up your positive spirit and ‘soldier on’, Ann. The challenge of maintaining good health will continue as we grow older. As you adjusted so well to a soft diet, you have demonstrated your preparedness to face new challenges in your life. Have a wonderful week! Best wishes! Peter

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    • Thanks, Peter, for getting (as always) what I was trying to say. The lessons I learned from the soft food diet have carried over to other parts of my life as well…which is what gives me the strength to deal with the upcoming month of coping with Finn’s treatment.

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  7. wowzers! I hope the dental woes are nearly over. As for Finn’s heartworm treatment – it is going to be rough keeping him calm. We usually suggested crating whenever no one was home and also keeping a leash on all the time (so you can “reel them in” if needed). Hope he does well with the treatments and can be cleared without complications.

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    • Thanks! Yes, we’re going to have to try lots of different things and see what works best. Right now, we’re considering sectioning off part of the yard so he doesn’t have as much room to try to run. The problem with leashing him as that is one of the (many) things that gets him REALLY excited. But we’ll figure it out. Thanks so much for your suggestions and encouragement!

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  8. The first and toughest hurdle in any difficult situation is our very self – our wills and emotions. Once we have that under control, then all that’s left is the journey and everything it presents.

    You’re in a good place now, Ann, because foodwise, you’ve found a way to cope. Now, you just have to complete the journey.

    Understandably, I am less confident about bubbly Finn…

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    • Yes, that is very understandable, as self-control is not one of Finn’s strong points! But you’re right, personally, once we get over our outrage because things aren’t going just exactly the way we think they should, we simply accept what is and find ways to cope. And I’m sure I’ll learn from this experience and that those lessons will help us deal with future challenges. Thanks, as always, for your support and friendship. It means a lot!

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  9. I don’t have a dog and I know nothing about heartworm, but I do have a tale I think you’ll recognize. A couple of decades ago, my mother came from Iowa to visit me in Texas. She arrived in early January, and was planning to stay for two weeks. On the second day of her visit, she broke her tibia and fibula in some mysterious way, at the ankle, and she went home around June 1.

    There was a whole lot of soldiering that went on during that period, and we made it! You will, too!

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    • Thank you so much for sharing that story! You know, if I ever begin to get discouraged during the upcoming weeks/months, I’m going to think of it and the I will realize I don’t have it quite so bad….LOL!

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  10. Poor Finn! I’m so sorry to hear about those heart worms – they sound horrible!! I can imagine how difficult it will be to try and keep things as calm as possible for him. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and please give Finn a very gentle run behind his ears from me!

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  11. You’re right about how we can get used to things we wouldn’t have normally chosen. Soft foods.. pretty sure all that time I’d be dreaming of crunchy crisps!

    Aww poor little Finn (that’s the name I’ve wanted to call my golden retriever – that I’ll likely never have – for the last 5 years!) It’s good it’s been spotted and hopefully the treatment will get to work asap and prevent things getting into risky territory. Poor little guy. You’ve got a tough job on your hands there with keeping things calm and quiet, too. He’s in the best possible hands and in a home full of love with you so fingers crossed these next few months will go smoothly, even if they’re not going to be quite what you’d expected. Sending love and lots of positive thoughts  ♥
    Caz xxxx

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    • Thanks so much, Caz! Our vet thinks his infestation isn’t that bad, so the odds are very much in his favor. Getting through the next few months will be a bit of a challenge, but I really think it will all work out. I really appreciate your support!

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    • I’m the sort who is naturally nervous at the dentist’s office, but honestly, I’ve had so much done in the past three years that I’m getting used to it! (Wish I weren’t, I’ll admit.) The good thing is that I’m not as chicken as I used to be. Thanks for your good wishes for Finn!

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  12. So sorry to hear about your dental problems, Ann and about Finn’s heart worms. But you’re right, we can only take these setbacks one day at a time and control only what we can control, which is not an easy thing for some of us…:) Stay well and I hope Finn gets better soon.

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    • Thanks, George! It’s not easy for me to realize the difference between what I can and can’t control either, but I’m learning, simply through necessity. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that we can learn from every situation and that some good can come from almost any situation too. So, I guess I can look at all this as a lesson in self improvement! LOL!

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  13. Oh gosh, that IS a long time to keep a bubbly lil pooch on the quiet side of life. Not sure how exactly one does that as it’s not as if one can explain the situation….

    The good news is time goes by so quickly that in a blink the time will be up and hopefully he will be able to be back to his bouncy self and your teeth too will have healed and have you feeling a whole lot better. I honestly HATE dental work and am the biggest baby when it comes to anything that revolves around shots and pain in my teeth. Argh… Hope you heal fast.

    Peta

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  14. I love crunchy too. Three weeks is what they say a new habit takes to settle in. If you found enough foods you like, you could go 50/50 on soft/crunchy. Personally, I would be tough on me and I think I’d go right back to crunchy but loved the soft nachos idea. Who hasn’t gotten to the bottom of the plate and eaten the soft nachos just because they are still tasty.

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  15. hmmm soft diets, what we have to look forward to if we live long enough 🙂

    wow pets really tie you down don’t they, pray Finn gets through it all … other than cage him I have no idea how you can keep him still 😎 and nobody wants that! It will be what it is …

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  16. Heartworms are tough. We’ve been through it with fosters too many times to count. I’ve discovered that some of my more active pups were more stressed and more active when forced to do crate rest, so we took them for lots of long, easy walks and provided plenty of filled kongs, filled bones, benebones, etc. to keep them busy and happy and (mostly) still. Good luck. Poor little guy. I’ll be thinking of you.

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    • Thanks, Cara! That’s our plan for Finn, too. I know if we kept him crated all the time, he’s just stress out even more and not relax. So we’ll find as many creative and safe outlets for his energy as we can, and hope for the best!

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  17. Aww poor Finn/Bubbles. Coincidentally I have massive tooth pain as I write this (and as I head off for the weekend). I’m scheduled for the dentist on Monday but will just have to “endure” this weekend till then. Hope you all get through your current woes. Sending big hugs xx

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    • I’m so sorry to hear about your tooth pain! I hope it’s something that the dentist can easily fix. I’ve never understood why there aren’t emergency rooms for dentistry. I mean, if you break you leg, no one says, “Well, just wait until the office opens on Monday and we’ll take care of it then.” How is a tooth different? My current dentist told me that he will meet me in his office if there is an emergency…I can only hope he means it. Meanwhile, I’m sending healing thoughts to you!!!!

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    • Thanks! He was doing really well until yesterday, when he suddenly started running laps around the yard at full speed, and it took me a while to stop him. I think we’re going to temporarily fence off part of the yard for him to help prevent that.

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  18. How strange modern life is, bone graft when having a tooth removed my how things have changed. Some twenty or thirty years ago I had all my impacted wisdom teeth removed in hospital, they had to put you out as it required taking a hammer and chisel to the bone to get them out. The next day I was sent home with a face so badly bruised that I looked as if I’d been in a bad car crash with the only instruction gargle with salt water. Nothing as sophisticated as a bone graft! Your dog looks beautiful, I hope he gets well soon.

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    • I know! I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 18 (decades ago) and I remember that I actually went out to the bars with my friends the night afterwards. Not the best decision, of course, but it’s what I did. Now the dentist insisted on doing a bone graft to fill in the parts of my jaw that needed filling with the tooth gone, and that involved stitches, a soft food diet, and mouth rinses, etc. Sometimes progress seems to be anything but…. Thanks for the good wishes for Finn! We will get through this, I’m sure!

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  19. I’m so sorry to hear about Finn. Our Irish setter came down with heart worms in the early 70s before the pills were invented, and it was so sad. I’m now a big believer in making sure my dog takes the heart worm pill, though I have relatives who don’t give them to their dogs. I don’t understand it.

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    • I know! Before I started volunteering at the animal shelter, I was also lax about giving the heart worm pills because I didn’t know any dogs who actually had heart worm and it seemed like overkill to me. But now I see so many dogs who suffer from it and I give the pill religiously. Which is a good thing, because the vet said that the fact that Finn was on the preventative for the past year meant that we are only dealing with the original infestation, the worms haven’t produced more worms and he hasn’t been infected with any new ones. That increases his chances of getting through the treatment tremendously! And now I tell everyone I know to make sure their pets are up to date on their shots and to give them the heart worm pill regularly. It’s SO important!

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      • That is interesting Ann. I thought it was crucial not to give your dog heart worm pills unless they were tested to make sure they don’t have them (I don’t give them to my dog in the winter, so she has to be checked every April before going back on them. Could be an interesting follow-up, or at the very least, I’m going to ask my vet.

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        • That’s what I’d always heard, too. They test the dogs every year for heart worm, and if they test negative, then we’re supposed to give them the pills. I heard it was dangerous to give them the pills if they had it. But my vet told me it was actually a good thing that Finn was on the preventative pills last year, and he also told me to keep right on giving him the pills during his treatment. So maybe the pills are different now? I’m going to ask about this some more when Finn goes in for his injections.

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  20. You only ate soft foods for nearly a month??? This sounds awful to me, but I’m glad you were able to move through and get used to it. And…poor Finn! I look forward to hearing the different ways you and your family will be keeping him calm.

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    • Yeah, it was kind of a pain! But I learned to cope and I learned to love more soft foods. As for Finn, it’s going to be a learning experience for sure….and I’m sure I’ll be writing about it. Thanks, Kathy!

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