Saturday, February 24, 2018

Marley. Caring for a dog who has special needs.

This post is all about our precious fur baby, Marley. So let's get into the introductions.

We adopted Marley when she was 11 weeks old from a petshop. Now before anyone gets judgmental over this decision, we didn't know about any different options years ago. We like to think we rescued her from that place as she was one of the older pups and needed a home.We were only married a couple months before we got her and didn't really know what kind of commitment we were really making when we got her. We picked this breed due to the fact they're hypoallergenic. I'm basically allergic to anything with fur so a hypo dog is really my only option.

Marley is a Mini Schnauzer, we call her our little bearded lady. She's one of the sweetest pups you'll ever meet. Some of her favorite things include toys she can snuggle with, this includes a floppy raccoon that she takes to bed with every night. His name is Rigby. She also loves to lay in the sun and everything that comes with being cozy. At first she didn't sleep with us in our bed, she would sleep in her kennel at night. But due to my husbands job taking him away for lengths of time I needed the company, so I brought her into our bed when she was around 5 years old. She's been sleeping with us ever since. Speaking of bedtime, it's her absolute favorite time of day. She knows when it's bedtime and gets very excited and bounces around until we put her on our bed. She has her own blanket and of course Rigby comes too.

Marley didn't always have health problems.
When she was around 4 or 5 we started noticing she was having digestive issues. She'd randomly have times of diarrhea and would also throw up. At first we thought it was a bug or her food that was causing the issues so to the vet we'd go. They would put her on some kind of antibiotic and suggest we change her food. We did all that and she'd improve. So we went on like this for years, occasionally switching out her food and eventually we took her down the grain free route. We loved brands like Blue Buffalo because they offered so many great options for a dog with a sensitive system. We eventually found that she was becoming sensitive to certain proteins as well, such as chicken. So no chicken and no grains, great super manageable. This brings us to 2013-2014 where things took a horrible turn. Marley again out of the blue developed really scary symptoms almost overnight. By this time we had moved to California and had to find a new vet, which was really difficult in itself. Marley started throwing up and having bloody stools almost immediately after she'd eat. I'm talking 10 min after eating and she'd panic and need to get outside. I couldn't leave her alone because she needed to be taken outside every few minutes. We found a vet and took her in. They checked her out and gave her an antibiotic and suggested a bland diet for a few days. We did this whole song and dance over several weeks with the vet. Trying different antibiotics and bland food only to have it work for a about a week and then her symptoms would return but worse than before. They finally did an X-Ray on her stomach but saw nothing. I also need to say that the stress of taking her to the vet almost weekly was horrible, for her and for me. At the worst point Marley was refusing food all together. I was terrified that we were going to lose her. Frustrated to no end with the vet, after 3 months and hundreds of dollars later they finally suggested we see a specialist. The specialist did an ultrasound and ran loads of tests but still wasn't 100% sure what was going on with her. They gave her new meds and suggested she eat rice, pumpkin and cottage cheese for a while. It was like a miracle had happened. All the new things seemed to work and her symptoms cleared up.

At this point we moved back across country, long story for another time, and I went to live with my family for a short time. Marley had been symptom free for a couple years when her symptoms returned in full force. This time I took her straight to a specialist and they suggested doing a scope and biopsy to see what was really going on. Knowing that it would cost a lot of money was tough but it didn't matter because we needed answers, solid answers as to what had been going on. We scheduled her proceeder. After it was over we finally had solid answers as to what was going on. Our little baby had Irritable Bowel Disease and a pretty severe case of it too. I'm sure you're wondering why couldn't you just keep her on meds and the bland food diet? Well, because she'd become immune and it would all stop working so new things had to keep being tried. The new specialist gave her exactly the meds she needed and along with her new food diet they worked like a dream. Since this time she's been on a diet of pure pumpkin, white rice, and cottage cheese. She's a meat free dog.

For a dog with IBD they need consistency in their routines if they don't have that they(at least Mars) have setbacks. So what does this all mean and how do we care for her on the daily?
Marley lives with IBD and with consistency and knowing what signs to look for we can easily keep her healthy. Andrew(hubby) always comments on how in tune I am with her, I know when the slightest thing is off with her. It can be a change in the way she holds her ears, or how clingy she gets when she's about to have an episode. All her symptoms are easily managed with consistency in her routine, her food, no extras meaning no treats, and backups of her medication. The only treats she's allowed to have are ice cubes, which she LOVES. Her system has become so sensitive that even the slightest change in diet sets her off. I don't call her my little pumpkin beard for nothing, her beard is forever stained a light shade of orange, which is fun to try and explain to the groomer what's going on without going into her life story lol

You should know that not all schnauzers are like this, the breed is very healthy. Marley for whatever reason is the exception. Most of the time, I'd say 90% of the time, she's healthy and happy. It's the 10% that's scary for us and for her. No one likes being sick but she has little signals she gives when she's not feeling herself. She also tends to have separation anxiety and gets nervous when i'm away for too long. Which is why we've stopped taking her to a conventional groomer. We've opted to have a mobile groomer come in to ease her stress and anxiety.

She's also the greatest traveler. Due to her situation we find it hard to leave her with anyone except my family because of her situation. My mom knows what to do and how to handle her if she has a flare up at any point. So that being said we rarely go on vacations. It is hard, we can't just pick up and go, we have to plan big time.
Marley has been across country more than 10 times and does an amazing job in the car. She has a travel bed that's far too big for a dog her size but hey, I never said she wasn't spoiled. She always travels with Rigby and her favorite blanket. Once in the car all cozy she falls right to sleep and won't move until we stop and let her out to pee, she'd probably stay in her the bed the entire time if we didn't get her out.
On the trip we plan where to stop that's pet friendly and has carpet(she hates hard floors) Along with all her food prep. Because her diet is raw for the most part and needs to be cold at all times we travel with a cooler. I prep(cook) enough white rice for 3-4 days, make sure she has plenty of pure pumpkin and cottage cheese for the journey. It's a lot more work than you're average dog, but we love her so we don't mind. It's become normal for us.

Despite all the health scares and IBD flare ups Marley is one of the happiest dogs I've ever met. She's a little sweetheart and loves to give hugs and get cuddles. She's the best dog I've ever had. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting her she'll greet you with the typical schnauzer barking, along with lots of butt wiggling and over excitement followed but wanting all the pets and wanting to sit in your lap. Marley is a little fighter, she's brave, she's loyal. And despite everything we've been through with her we wouldn't trade her for anything. Check out my Instagram for more photos and videos of our little babe. @thedoveedit 

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