Thursday, December 11, 2014

The New Normal (Bailey Chair Part 2)

Cody's food has been a journey. When he first arrived he refluxed so bad I struggled to find anything he could keep down. He dropped weight, but the more I gave him the more he refluxed. Eventually I learned that he could eat Ziwi Peak, so for a long time he ate that. I tried him on everything I could think of, eventually getting a very small list of foods I could feed him. None of them were kibble. As a foster parent, its important for us to make our dogs as adoptable as possible and that includes from a financial perspective. A dog who has to eat the very expensive Ziwi Peak may not be adoptable to a wonderful family who can afford a high quality kibble. So when possible we want our fosters to be on a 5-star kibble (based on the ratings from .) I didn't know if Cody would ever be ok on kibble, but it was something I strove to reach.
Are you making my dinner?
A couple months ago Cody saw an internal medicine specialist at Seattle Vet Specialists. Dr. Vaughn thought Cody might have acid reflux, and put him on a couple medications. The first was a short-term drug to coat his esophagus and let it heal from any acid damage, and the second, a drug called cisapride, helped empty his stomach faster and reduce the chance of acid coming up into the esophagus. He also moved Cody from famotidine (pepcid) onto omeprazole (prilosec.) What a difference that has made. Cody refluxs rarely now and it usually has more to do with his activity levels. For instance, Cody eats dinner after he goes to NoseWork class because the excitement of class can cause him to reflux if he eats before hand.
Cody's meal set up.
The new medications have worked together so well that we've reached our big goal - kibble. In the picture above, that container of mush is ground up and soaked kibble. I grind it in a blender with water and keep it in the fridge until I use it. He gets a rounded 1/3 of a cup with each meal. I add in his salmon oil, his cisapride (currently I'm trying the liquid form, but the next round I'm trying the pills - both are pictured.). His prilosec and fluvoxamine are put into 1/2 a pill pocket, and if he needs it I'll add in some Honest Kitchen Perfect Form to help his digestion. That all combines together with a bit more water into a nice slurry. Tonight he also got a few slices of banana.
I'm sitting so pretty!
 The second part of the equation remains the Bailey Chair. I don't leave him in there long - I hold the bowl while he eats, then immediately release him and let him lick the bowl clean on the floor. It all takes well under five minutes and I usually check email on my phone while he eats.
He waits for me to head to his chair...

Waits for me to sit down in my chair..

Backs his little rump into the Chair and sits up...

I close the door, latch it, and put his bowl down.

Sometimes I take it away and stir the mush a bit.

He is patient...mostly.

Cody never met a meal he didn't like.

Afterwards I release him and he licks his bowl clean.
This is the new normal for Cody, and likely will be forever. It isn't any more work than feeding my other dogs outside of grinding the kibble up. We have everything down to a smooth operation and I don't even bother cueing Cody to get into his Chair anymore - he just goes in and expects me to handle the door!

While Cody is on kibble, his adopter will have the same range of choices as any other dog. He does great on Ziwi Peak, Honest Kitchen, and fresh raw. He should do fine on canned foods as well. It was important to me to make him as adoptable as possible and hopefully have kibble be an option, but by no means is Cody restricted to it if his adopter wishes otherwise.

In the above picture you may notice his stubby tail looks a little odd. Cody has this adorable feature where his tail sheds all at once and it poofs up into a big fuzzy clump. He doesn't want any help getting it out, so he goes around looking like he's got a big brown bald spot until you get closer and see its all underfur. It doesn't help when he backs in the Bailey Chair and rubs his tail against it as he sits down. He's a bit of a ruffian!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Four Letter Words

It's that time of year again. The dreaded seven months of the year in the Pacific Northwest that we complain about most. The season that starts with a four letter word and is often followed by other four-letter descriptors we don't say around our grandmas. That's right - RAIN.
Sappho in her special rain suit.
No one enjoys it. The trio of intrepid terriers who prowl the campus each lunch hour with a fierceness instead gear up in rain coats and venture outside with dropped heads and tails.
No ma'am, I don't like this rain!
We go through this every season. The dogs become so used to the sunshine that they forget how to walk in the rain, and so the first few walks this time of year are filled with guilt-inducing dawdles, miserable looks, hunched body language, and squinted eyes as if they can't see through the stinging, burning, horror of the gently falling raindrops.
She has never been so miserable as she is in this moment, in this rain.
Given enough time doing the same walk we do every day rain or shine, they start to come around.
I guess I can sniff and pee on things still...

I just heard something!

I guess I can still hunt too.
Their body language starts changing. They don't love the rain, but they seem to remember that it isn't as bad as it seemed when they first started out.
I'm not real happy, but I'm getting into the walk!
They start moving out from behind me or right beside me to out in front or exploring.

But make no mistake. On these first few walks in the rain there is one message they never stop saying....

Rain sucks!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bailey Chair - Part 1

Is it finallyfood time?
For as long as I've had Cody, we've struggled with his reflux. His reflux is when food falls out of his mouth - almost like he is vomiting, but it is coming from his esophagus and not his stomach. We're trying out some meds to see if they help calm what may be an acid reflux issue, but meanwhile I've worked a long time to find other solutions to his reflux. Much of these solutions are around how and what he eats.

He has may things he can eat, and I've found a few different ways to feed him that works. This is one way - bottle feeding and using the Bailey Chair. He also can eat fine out of a bowl using the Bailey Chair, but these are pictures from before I learned that. This is a tutorial on how to prepare his food for bottle feeding and using the Bailey Chair. These images are a bit old - a few weeks at least. Since then we've moved to feeding in the Chair out of a bowl, then having him sit in an ex-pen in the room with me for 30 minutes while he digests. I'll do that in another post!
Start with clean bottles. These are pastry bottles that I got from a local store for $4.99 for two of them. I cut off the tips most of the way down to allow the larger chunks of food to pass through.
A funnel makes it easy to pour his food in.
Cody takes meds with his meals, so those are added in.

Add in some water to make a soupy-slurry.
Grab some cheese to reinforce him remaining in the chair after he eats.

Add a bowl in to capture any drips as he eats.

The Bailey Chair works by elevating the dog and utilizing gravity to
pull the food down the esophagus towards the stomach.

Do a couple tricks just for fun!

With one hand against his upper knee I guide
him into backing into the chair. Cody does this
mostly on his own now!
He sits back into the chair...

Raises his paws up....

And I shut and latch the door.

We add in the tray (optional, sometime I do, sometimes I leave
it off!)

I hold the bowl underneath to catch drips and gently
squeeze the bottle to push the food out.

A little help cleaning the bowl afterwards!

Cody can comfortably sit in the chair for 10 minutes after

Especially if he gets reinforced with cheese periodically!


Cody's Bailey Chair was made by the extremely talented Brian and Lori Scott. When I appealed for help he stepped up and agreed to make it and even threw in the custom name! I am beyond grateful to them for the Bailey Chair has been vital in reducing Cody's reflux.

Stay tuned for another update on how Cody eats - still using the Chair, but only for a couple minutes as he eats this time!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cody Hears a Crab

There are some downsides to long leashes...
The beach held all sorts of interesting things for Cody and Sappho. Sappho took a particular interest in the driftwood and seeking little mammals or birds to hunt. Cody explored the mudflats and found a new interest - waves! It was a pretty still morning, but as the boats went by they created a wake that turned into small waves on the shore. The waves would slide over the mud and when Cody heard the sound of the waves he race down to the waters edge to watch them come in.
A boat passes by...

The waves start to come in.

Cody goes out to play in them!
The other big fun on the beach was the discovery of little creatures hiding in the rock crevices. Once Cody discovered something lived around and under the big rocks he'd bounce from rock cluster to rock cluster, occasionally digging into the sand to try and get to his prey.

Cody hears a crab.

Attempting to lock position...


Another barnacle covered boulder held promise.

This time he attempted to dig his prey out.

Three hours and four miles in it was time to head for home with two happy, tired puppy dogs who smelled strongly of fish. Both crashed out on their way home and thankfully the glorious rat terrier coat made it so a quick rub down and time was all that was needed to rid them of the smell!