Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The amazing story about the incredible Nikko Bear.

Of all the old stories I written about 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.
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 he 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 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 http://todaysveterinarypractice.navc.com/methicillin-resistant-staphylococcal-infections-recent-developments/ 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 ( https://actavet.vfu.cz/76/3/0469/ )   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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Meet the team that saved Ruff's life

First, the good news.

Dr. Michele Muldoon, the surgeon who removed the tumor from Ruff's belly two weeks ago, removed the staples in Ruff's belly this afternoon at the CARE Center and when she brought him back to me she informed me the biopsy showed the tumor she removed had no signs of cancer. While she was working on Ruffin I was given a tour of the Varian Trilogy Linear Accelerator machine that Dr. Kelsey Pohlmann used to attack the brain tumor in Ruff's Pituitary Gland. 
 Dr. Muldoon, the Surgeon and Taylor Cull, referral coordinator
Notice which way Ruff always faces when he is surrounded by women.
 Thank you, Ruff, that's better.
Here's the PetCure Oncology radiology team: Kelli McSwain, the technician who operates the Varian Trilogy Linear Accelerator, Dr. Kelsey Pohlmann, the radiation Oncologist who plots and plans the therapy sessions and Ruff's new girlfriend, Taylor Cull who wanted to know when Ruff was coming back so she could give him another hug. (and I got one too, after acting jealous, uh, not so much acting)
 A wider angle shot showing the table.
Kelli McSwain then described the set up of the forms that hold their patients stationary on the table while the radiation treatment is done. Kelli had all the excited demeanor of a proud parent talking about her favorite new toy.
And the control room where the technicians operate the image guided radiation machine.
My reaction to all of this was one of great hope. I had 42 sessions with a similar device last year to treat my prostate cancer. I hope Ruff's treatment becomes as successful at repairing his vision as my own cancer that was totally cured. Thanks for the tour guys.
Here's the Elekta Spark radiation machine like the one they used on me. It is so encouraging to know that Veterinary medicine is now able to take care of our beloved pets as well our hospitals can take care of us humans with such high tech tools like Image Guided Radiotherapy technology.

Life goes on .... because Love Always Wins

This afternoon I'm taking Ruff back to the CARE Center in Loveland, Ohio to have the staples removed from his surgery. I will talk to both of the doctors who treated him a few weeks ago, Dr. Pohlmann, the Oncologist and Dr. Muldoon, the Surgeon who removed the tumor from his abdomen. Ruff seems to be having a difficult time coping with his blindness and maybe the veterinarians can give me some advice on how to make it easier for him.

Meanwhile, back at home, Bessie seems to be practicing her own form of therapy on Ruff. As the photos show, isn't love wonderful. If the weather outside wasn't so nasty I'd say Spring was in the air.
Love always finds a way to win the day.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

My greatest sorrow.

Today, Saturday, March 25th, I buried my life-long friend and wife of 57 years. Jacqueline was given a solemn Requiem Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Walton, Kentucky and buried in Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

I am still feeling numb from the events of this past week and I think it is going to take some time to get used to being alone for the first time in my adult life.

I want to thank everyone who sent flowers and prayers and messages of condolence. It enabled me to draw on your strength to help get through this.
You should know that as I promised, the ashes of Jacqueline's devoted service dog Axl were placed inside her casket so they can spend the rest of eternity side by side.

Monday, March 20, 2017

My beloved Jacqueline has passed away.

Please be advised that my beloved Jacqueline, wife of 57 years, ended her 10 year battle with Alzheimer's late last night. She passed away peacefully in her sleep and is now with her devoted service dog Axl for the rest of eternity.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 21st.
Funeral arrangements for Jacqueline.

There will be a two hour viewing Friday March 24th, between 5 - 7 PM at
Chambers and Grubbs Funeral Home
11382 Madison Pike
Independence, Kentucky 41051

There will be a Funeral Mass at 10 AM Saturday morning March 25th at
Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church
472 Beaver Rd
Walton, Kentucky 41094

Burial will be at Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell.


Saturday, March 18, 2017


My big, beautiful best friend Ruff is finally home. I had to steal him away from all the girls at the CARE Center. Everyone there was telling me what a big sweetie he was and I think they wanted to keep him. All I could say was Ruff was a people person in dogs clothing. And while I was standing at the front desk getting checked out Ruff was at the end of his leash trying to make new friends with a couple in the waiting area.

Here he is, along with his Super Dog cape.
He has to go back in a few weeks to get the drain tube removed and his staples taken out. I'm sure the girls will be glad to see him again.
We haven't even been home 6 hours and Ruff almost ruined the operation. Right after dinner I noticed Ruff had somehow gotten his hind foot inside the loop of the drain tube that had been sutured into his belly and came close to pulling it out. The CARE Center suggested putting a t-shirt on him but it was too short and didn't reach his butt. So I pulled out an old pair of suspenders and ...... take a look.

Notice how long the drain tube is in the above photo? That's what Ruff got his hind foot tangled in.

Here's the fix I made.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
UPDATE: Sunday, March 18th.
I found that my jury-rigged suspenders needed some tweaking. When I took Ruff outside to go potty it wasn't too convenient to unsnap the suspenders at his butt end and resnap them when he was done. So I cut off the long end of the suspenders and just clipped the short end across his butt. This way I can just slide the t-shirt up over his rear without unsnapping the suspenders. 
After he gets the drain tube removed he won't need this any more. But this is definitely better than the Elizabethan Collar the Vets gave me.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Help save Ruffin.

Scroll down for Latest UPDATE: Saturday, March 18th.
Please note: Because of the links here for Ruff's Go Fund Me campaign and for my Facebook page, I am keeping this page on the top of my blog and will continue to post updates below.

For many years friends and lovers of Rottweilers around the world have enjoyed the stories and photos of all of my Rotts on my blog LIVING WITH ROTTWEILERS . Now, my big, beautiful best friend Ruffin needs some very expensive medical treatment and I need help to pay for it as soon as possible. Ruff, as everyone calls him, lost his eyesight last month and his Ophthalmologist thinks there is a tumor pressing on his optic nerve. Ruff will need a CT Scan first, followed by radiation therapy to remove or kill the tumor in order to save his life. And if successful it may even restore his eyesight. Ruff has undergone several tests already and all the possible causes for his blindness have been eliminated. So now, the tumor is still growing and getting worse every day.

Today I started a campaign on Go Fund Me to help raise some money to pay for the treatment. Please visit this link: https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-ruffin-my-rottweiler

The total package is more than $10,000 and the treatment cannot begin until it is paid for. The CT Scan and everything related to the radiation treatment must be done at the C.A.R.E. Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Please pass this information to all of your friends. I also just started a page on Facebook but I have no experience working with it yet.

Thank you.
Nelson Abdullah
UPDATE: Click this Link to my Facebook Page:
UPDATE: Monday, March 6th.
I was worried over the weekend because Ruff had not wanted to eat anything so I took him to our Vet. He was running a slight fever with 104.5 temperature (2 degrees above normal for a dog). The doctor gave him a shot of Penicillin and shots of Baytril, Cerenia and Meloxicam and almost a quart of Saline water under his skin.
The generous donations so far on my Go Fund Me campaign have enabled me to get Ruffin scheduled for his CT Scan tomorrow (Tuesday March 7th). I'm not sure how soon the results will be known but we will plan things from there. Our Vet thinks the problem lies in his pituitary gland and also affects his liver and other organs.

Prayers are still needed. Also need more response on Go Fund Me.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 8th.
I am going to keep this page on top of the blog while I continue to post dated updates because it has the links to my Go Fund Me campaign and to my Facebook page.
Last night I fried up another boneless pork chop for Ruff and he ate the whole thing. As small as it was it was only his second meal in four days. He has lost 15 lbs in the past month. Hoping that he was gradually getting his appetite back and because he has a fondness for pork, this morning I cooked up a whole Roast Pork that I had cut up for two adult meals. It only weighed about 1 lb but after I diced it up Ruff ate the whole thing along with a half cup of kibble. Tonight he ate a whole can of dog food.
Yesterday I drove up to the CARE Center in Ohio to have them do the CT Scan. The cost for that used up the entire funds raised so far on Go Fund Me. This afternoon I received a phone call from Dr. Kelsey Pohlmann, the radiation oncologist from PetCure Oncology at the Care Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. She said the tumor was located in Ruffin's Pituitary Gland inside his brain. Dr. Pohlmann outlined a course of treatment using 3 sessions of radiation. The cost has been fixed at $8,100. As much as that seems to be I cannot let my best friend go without getting him the best help possible. This is the debt I am willing to pay for the thief that stole my heart.
After talking with Dr. Pohlmann I did a Google search about her and her work and found a great story on the local web site for TV station WLWT in Cincinnati that is worth watching. Here is the link
Now we need more prayer than ever before.

UPDATE: Saturday, March 11th
I realized a few days ago that I could not wait for the Go Fund Me campaign to generate the entire amount needed for Ruffin's radiology treatment. After talking again with Dr. Pohlmann about the costs she agreed to let me put a down payment and pay the balance when Ruff comes home. So yesterday I dropped off Ruff and maxed out my credit card with a $2000 down payment. Earlier this week I already requested a loan/withdrawal from my IRA to pay the balance but the worst thing to happen there is a big tax headache which I hope to avoid. There's not a lot of money in the account anyway.
After dropping Ruff at the CARE Center we did a tour of the facility and I informed the staff that Ruff loves to be around people and that he was raised on love and gets lots of hugs every day. So before I left two of the girls came over and did just that and made Ruff feel right at home. 

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will take Bess with me and we will drive up and visit Ruff. I think Bess has started to notice how empty and quiet the house is and she seems uncomfortable with this. I felt the same way two months ago after old man Axl died and Bess is too young to understand what's going on. When I tell her my plans for the long drive to see Ruffin, her eyes light up with excitement.
UPDATE: Sunday, March 12th
I just got back from visiting Ruff at the CARE Center. Bess was very excited after her longest ride in the car and was very happy to see the love of her life when they brought Ruff into a private visiting room. The staff told me Ruff was eating very well and on his way to regaining the 15 lbs he lost when he got sick a few weeks ago. I brought a package of his favorite treats, sliced beef sausage from Milo's Kitchen, and Ruff and Bess finished it all.

The CARE Center is a big place with a large staff 7-days a week and there were several girls on duty to keep him company. Tomorrow he starts the radiation treatment and I won't see him again until I pick him up on Thursday to bring him home.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 14th
Dr. Kelsey Pohlmann from the CARE Center called last night and informed me that as a result of the full-body CT Scan they detected a malignant tumor hanging below and outside of Ruff's belly in front of his penis. Because it is not inside his abdomen the surgical removal is not very complicated and can be done while Ruff is still under anesthesia following his last radiation treatment on Thursday. 

I received another phone call from the CARE Center today and was told Ruff had just come out of anesthesia following his first radiation session. He has made several friends while in the hospital and is getting many hugs from the staff every day. His appetite is still improving and he is well underway regaining his lost weight.
I sent an email over the weekend to WLWT News Anchor Sheree Paolello thanking her for the great news story and interview she did with Dr. Kelsey Pohlmann at the PetCure Oncology CARE Center and she sent me the following reply last night.

Oh my goodness.  I’m so sorry to hear about Ruffin.  He’s beautiful.  I just want to give him a big smooch. I hope you’re able to get financial support from friends and family.  I know it’s OUTRAGEOUS…  but I have heard great things about the PetCure treatment.
In the meantime, I’m sending a little prayer your way for your big teddy bear.  He looks like such a sweetie.

Sheree Paolello/ WLWT Anchor 
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 15th
Dr. Kelsey Pohlmann called today to advise me on Ruffin's progress. Ruff will have his last radiation session tomorrow and immediately after will be taken into surgery to remove the tumor hanging below his belly. He will then spend one more night in the hospital at the PetCure Oncology CARE Center and I will drive up there Friday afternoon and bring him home. 

This has been quite an ordeal for my big best friend who has never before been away from home in his whole life and even though the staff has taken care to see that he gets as much love as possible, he has still been in a strange place for a whole week and he must miss his family. 

While the surgery is not complicated it is still surgery and I wish everyone will say at least one more prayer for Ruff's safety and a speedy recovery.
UPDATE: Thursday, March 16th.
11:45AM  Dr. Pohlmann called me this morning and said Ruff had his last radiation session and was still under anesthesia and they were moving him into surgery for the tumor. This morning I also got a revised estimate for the surgery and they lowered it about $200. TOTAL: $1,616.00 to $1,702.00 plus $8,160.00 for the radiation treatment.

I am waiting now to get a phone call from the Dr. Michele Muldoon, the surgeon, to hear how Ruff is doing. Dr. Kelsey Pohlman said she and the other girls on the staff had been giving Ruff daily hugs and Ruff was giving everyone kisses so she felt he was handling his situation very well. I questioned Dr. Pohlmann about Ruff's eyesight and she said not to expect immediate improvement, if any. And the "if any" is contingent on whether or not his optic nerve has been damaged. I guess this is the way doctors often qualify their outlooks with a lot of unknowns.

They also convinced me of the necessity for doing a biopsy on the removed tumor to confirm if it was malignant. They said the CT Scan only looked suspicious.        

2:20 PM
Dr. Michele Muldoon, the surgeon called me just now and said Ruff is out of surgery and doing fine and the tumor appeared to be just a benign fatty tumor. But she said one side was hard which made for the suspicious image in the CT Scan and that it had an infection in it. They will not know for sure if it was malignant or not until the tests come back in about two weeks. Meanwhile Ruff will be home tomorrow afternoon and he will have a drain in the incision and be on antibiotics.
UPDATE: Friday, March 17th.
Bad weather, icy road conditions and a medical emergency at home prevented me from making the 45-mile trip to pick up Ruff and bring him home today. I will be going tomorrow to bring him back to his family.
UPDATE: Saturday, March 18th
RUFFIN IS HOME. See the new post and the photos.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

UPDATE on Ruffin. Bile Acids test results prove nothing.

The Bile Acids Test results came back today and the one test that I was hoping Ruff would fail appears to be the one test that he passed. For had he failed this test it would have been a clear indication that Ruff's liver problems had caused a condition called Hepatic Encephalopathy in Dogs. Not only did Ruff pass this test within normal parameters but the results were upside down. So once again after another search for an explanation for the readings of this test I found a testing laboratory that posted a chart that suggested a retest was in order in a few weeks. 

The Bile Acids Test requires an absolute 12 hour fast but Ruff had a few small biscuits between 11PM and Midnight the night before so when I dropped him off I told the Vet not to do the test before 11AM or Noon. Then I read today the 12-hours rule is a minimum time frame and could be longer. The test begins with a blood test to determine the preprandial (before meal) level then a meal is given followed by a second blood test two hours later. Ruff's test had slightly higher values than normal (19.5) before he was given food and afterward his score was lower than normal (16.9) for post-meal.

A PDF chart I found on IDEXX Laboratories explained how the results can be skewed: "Preprandial values will occasionally exceed postprandial values. This is usually attributed to spontaneous gall bladder contraction or preprandial specimen obtained prior to a sufficient fast. When preprandial values exceed the postprandial values, always check the pre- and postprandial samples are properly identified."

When my Vet called today with the results he suggested waiting two weeks for another blood test to check on Ruffs liver enzymes. When I take Ruff in I am going to have the Bile Acids Test done once again. The costs so far have begun to really add up. Each blood test was $67.50, then two bottles of liver supplement pills $201.19 plus two visits to the Ophthalmologist $500. Plus another $330 at the Emergency Hospital when Ruff was vomiting for three days. But the course of this is minimal compared to a CT Scan ($1000) and radiation treatment which, even still, may be needed once the tests have eliminated everything except a tumor.

For well over six months now I had been growing more and more concerned over Ruffin's declining eyesight. And then about six weeks ago I took Ruff to an Ophthalmologist for an eye exam and by then Ruff had become totally blind. The doctor said the cause of the blindness was not in Ruff's eyes and more likely was the result of something like a tumor on his optic nerve. He suggested a CT Scan and the hospital that did that work wanted a blood test to show he was healthy enough for anesthesia.  

The first blood test revealed extremely high enzyme spikes from Ruff's liver and over the course of 5 weeks Ruff had four more blood tests and the enzyme levels only declined a slight bit as his doses of prednisone were reduced to zero. This led to hours and hours searching for likely causes and I thought I had found a solid connection. I have frequently read lists of symptoms for different diseases but never before had I seen so many that matched what Ruff was now going through so I had my hopes the Bile Acids test would be the cause of Hepatic Encephalopathy instead of an astronomically expensive CT Scan and assorted radiation treatments for a brain tumor.
Symptoms and Types of Hepatic Encephalopathy in Dogs
    Circling, running into walls and acting confused after meals
    Learning disabilities (difficult to train)
    Sluggishness (lethargy) and/or drowsiness or sleepiness
    Aimless wandering
    Compulsive pacing
    Head pressing
    Blindness related to brain abnormality
    Sudden aggression
    Lack of appetite
    Increased urination or lack of urination (inability to urinate often seen in male dogs)
    Frequent voiding of small volumes ( small poops )
    Orange-brown urine (often seen in male dogs)
    Increased thirst
    Excessive salivation
When anything new comes up I will post it. I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to save my best friend.