So, my intention was after my first post to write a post or so a week, but then, life happened, nothing major, just life, got busy, took my midterm (got a 94.6%! yay!) did a few more papers for class, studied, screwed off when I should of been studying, spent time with my man and the dogs, laughed a little, cried more than necessary, you know, life.
Anyways, my intention was also do to a post about each dog, a history and a history of “us” meaning me and my man. So this is the first installment, affectionately called, Raising Kane.
I bought my first house at 28, I told my mom I’d wait a year before getting a dog, I almost made that goal, I got Kane aka PMs Raising Kane, in April of 2007. I’d planned, I’d saved, I’d perfected “the dog plan”. He was to be the envy of everyone, smart, fearless, well behaved, amazingly obedient, all that jazz, a stepford dog. I’d read books, watched tapes, scoured everything I knew for the perfect training plan and I was sure I’d had it. So that was MY plan, but as it turns out life, and Kane, had a whole different plan for me.
First off, for whatever reason, even after being told how big he was I expected him to be bigger, he was 9lbs yeah but that’s surely like up to my knee, right? Wrong, he fit in the pocket of my hoodie, he couldn’t make it up the stairs without me lifting him, he fit under the couch, his TOYS were bigger than him! Yeah so, oops, 9lbs isn’t all that big. Secondly, upon arrival he was terrified of everything, including me. So yeah I thought once we get him home, he’ll be fine, he’ll be home and everything will be better, yeah how wrong I was about that. He was terrified of everything and everyone, my mom made baby noises at him and squealed in delight at how cute he was, he beat feet for under the sofa and refused to come out. And maybe most significantly, Kane is a weimaraner, and let me tell you, there is no amount of reading that can truly prepare you for your first weimarnaer. These dogs do. not. stop. ever. At one point in his young life we were at the dog park every night for at least 2 hours, and he was BARELY manageable with that amount of exercise. He was bouncy, bitey, and completely out of control. But eventually we figured things out and he started to calm down and life’s been better as he’s gotten older, yet the dog would probably still run until his heart burst if you asked him to.
It all sounds like a happy story but there’s a bit of a dark cloud surrounding the Kane legacy. Looking at him, most people would never know it, but anyone who knows these dogs knows there’s something not quite right about Kane’s physique. He’s not quite muscular enough, things sag where they shouldn’t, he’s just not quite… right. At a year old Kane got sick, he puked, he had diarrhea, he lost weight, a lot of weight. The vet said he had a bacterial overgrowth, we treated that, then she suspected he had a food allergy, so we did the elimination diet, then prescription diets, then novel protein diets, nothing worked. Finally at 49lbs, a skeleton, the vet suggested I give up and put him down. I was angry, I was hurt, but I considered it. I really did, at that point he was too weak to play, all he did was sleep, he wasn’t himself and I wasn’t sure anything would bring him back. I did the only thing I knew how to, I fought, I got a new vet, we hired a specialist in Washington, he had a intestinal biopsy, x-rays, tests.
Finally he was diagnosed with IBD, which while it seems like an answer, the disease isn’t really as straightforward as it seems. There is no cure, there’s no one treatment, what works for one dog doesn’t mean it will work for another. Treatment includes high dose steroids, antibiotics, an extremely strict diet, but there was hope, I knew what it was and I thought I could fight it. I thought I could win. But, as it turns out, I couldn’t win, we tried food after food after food, we ordered exotic proteins for him to try (think kangaroo), I tried prescription foods, holistic foods, organic foods, nothing worked. He gained weight, yes, but that was mostly sheer volume of intake, at one point he was eating upwards of 8 cups of food a day. And the steroids made him ravenous, he stole food, he acted like he was starving, he drank water so fast I couldn’t keep his dish filled, he peed on the floor if you didn’t get up 3-4 times a night to let him out. The underlying problems persisted, he still had diarrhea, he still wasn’t well.
So, after a particularly difficult Christmas where Kane spent hours with me in bed with him growling at the surround sound because of his steroid inducted paranoia I said enough was enough. I went to my vet, I asked her if I could just cook for him, for now, until it was time to go, I’d get turkey, try it, maybe it’d work. My vet said fine, but that she doubted it’d work. I was at my wits end, so we bought a turkey and roasted it, and he ate that, and for the first time in months he didn’t have diarrhea. So I roasted another, and another, and another, and he continued to do well, I’ve roasted so many turkeys in my life that I’m still sick of them. Yet it worked, turkey worked for the dog who could tolerate nothing. But I knew he couldn’t eat just turkey forever, it wouldn’t be healthy. So we tried turkey dog food, he got sick again, back to roasting turkey I went. Then I discovered ground turkey at Costco, which has been a savior for me. We added orzo, he gained weight back, at one point weighing as much as 70lbs and looking chunky. It turns out 65-68 is a good weight for him. Finally, because I couldn’t figure out how to calculate all his vitamins and minerals and I was terrified of poisoning him accidentally I added in a product called Honest Kitchen’s Preference. It’s a vegetable base with vitamins and minerals, mostly it’s for raw feeders as it’s a “raw dehydrated food”. It worked, and to this day it’s the only “dog food” he’s been able to tolerate.
I’m not a vet, and I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m convinced there’s some preservative, mineral, or vitamin in dog food that Kane is either allergic to or can’t tolerate. I didn’t know a lot about dog foods then and I really don’t now either, but I know one thing, I don’t really trust them. I won’t ever know what made Kane sick in the first place, but I do know that know that he has IBD, dog food just won’t work for him. That being said, our other dog, Stormie, couldn’t gain weight on Honest Kitchen’s food, yet is doing great on a kibble, granted it’s a kibble that’s had zero recalls and is pretty high up there as far as price. But it still scares me sometimes. That these companies can lie put poison into our pets food and then just shrug their shoulders about it.
So today, Kane’s almost 7, he’s older than I ever thought he’d make it to. And he’s still not completely healthy, he still takes steroids every other day, but now it’s a lower dose and a different type with less side effects. He still eats turkey, and will until that no longer works, and then I don’t know what we’ll do. It’s also turned out that he can eat most fruits and veggies, and loves them as well. He would literally trip a nun for a bite of a banana. He drools when you fix salads. He slobbers so much he gets drool bubbles when you eat strawberries in front of him. He gets all that stuff that he wants too. Well ok not all, but we do share with him, we also share popcorn, yeah yeah I know, bad us but the boy loves it SO much, he’s hard to resist. I don’t know how long we’ll have Kane with us, but we try to make it as good as possible for all of us.
I’m thankful everyday that I didn’t take the first vets advice. Regardless of the money spent, the time spent, the frustration, the tears, the anger, there’s something I’m not sure anyone knows. Kane saved me. It may seem the other way around but it’s not. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been depressed, not always but a lot. To the point where I’ve thought about suicide and even threatened it. I’m not proud of that fact but there’s a place that I unfortunately go where the world seems the darkest and it feels like no one cares. Kane brought me out of that, I could imagine how scared and hurt and confused he’d be if I were gone, and who would take care of him? Not many people would hold onto a dog that had as many problems as him. I didn’t want the last days of his life to be filled with fear and confusion. A first it was that fact alone that kept me here, then things got not so dark, I met people, I met my boyfriend, we got another dog, we went through rough times, I went through rough times, but mostly things are better. And Kane, Kane’s Kane, he’s still terrified of mostly everything, he still doesn’t walk on a leash well, he has more quirks than most people I know, but I wouldn’t give him up for anything in the world. And the nights, when he cuddles up next to me and just relaxes, makes everything I do, worth it.