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Dog Sitting Just Got Complicated

Anytime I go out of town and Nala can’t accompany me, one of my family members watches her. I’m lucky to have people who love her, and that she loves, so she continues to get a comfortable, family experience even while I’m gone. She’s a happy dog and pretty easy to care for, so it was never a big deal.

When I go out of town in a couple weeks, though, it will be a very different experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, Nala was recently diagnosed with liver cirrhosis.

Here’s what dog-sitting Nala used to mean:
   •  Feed high-quality kibble twice a day
   •  1 fish oil pill each night
   •  Anti-histamines if her allergies flared up
   •  Brush as needed
   •  Walks

Here’s what dog-sitting Nala means now:
   •  Feeding a custom home-cooked diet
   •  11 ¼ pills per day
   •  Anti-histamines sparingly and only if her allergies are out of control
   •  Brush as needed (daily now – it’s shedding season)
   •  Walks, with special attention to her energy level in case of fluid around her lungs

(Thank you, Mom!)

It's not a big deal to me as it's become part of my daily routine, but it certainly makes things more complicated for whoever is kind enough to watch her. When I asked if my mother would dog-sit for my upcoming trip, I felt for the first time like I was asking for something burdensome. Instead of scooping out Nala’s favorite kibble, my loving mother or stepfather will have to thaw and serve the home-cooked food I’ll be preparing ahead, portioning into daily servings, and freezing. Instead of tossing a fish oil pill as a treat, there are pills in a weekly pillbox to hide in her food. (Yes, those are her pills in the photo in the pillbox I use to make sure she gets everything, along with the food scale I use to get her portions exact.) And the allergies… I feel so bad for Nala. The desert has gotten an early spring, and while Nala loves spending her days sunbathing on the patio, she comes in at night with itchy ears and watery eyes. With her liver failing, I can't give her medicine and therefore relief the way I could before. I know when Nala can tolerate her allergies, and when she's so miserable the medicine is worth the risk, but how do I convey that to someone else?

Luckily, Nala’s making this as easy as possible on all of us. She loves the home-cooked food so it’s easy to hide her pills. All it takes is putting them next to chicken or veggies and she happily laps it up. The other night as she finished dinner, I noticed a pill on the floor. Moments later, Nala noticed it too – then ate it up without any tricks or treats. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog do that before, so I was both surprised and thrilled to see it. She’s so good-natured that everyone from the vet office staff to the family who will be watching her are happy to give Nala the best care possible. I have no doubt that even with these complications, Nala will be in good hands while I'm away.

Sometimes, I wonder how I ended up with a dog that has such odd and complicated medical issues. But the feeling is fleeting, as I then wonder how I got so lucky to have a dog that makes it all so easy. I’m happy to do whatever Nala needs so she can be around as long as possible.


With a face like this, who wouldn't?

wacka wacka wacka


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