Category: Personal Pets (page 2 of 4)

“Wag the Tail”

“Wag the Tail”

Hey, it’s Charlie.   I’ve taken over dad’s blog again to tell you something important.   Actually, grand-dad told Ryan Charlie st patrick daysomething about “wagging the tail” and between the two of us, we think we’ve figured it out.   But since I’m so personable and a great story teller, dad is letting me share it with you.   Oh wait, dad says he’s going to help me tell it to make sure we all understand if I get confused or distracted.


The 4th and last chemo treatment

The 4th and last chemo treatment

It all started a few weeks ago.   After my second chemo treatment, strange things began happening including seizures and I was having some collapse type episodes.   One night, I remember dad telling me it was okay to “go” so I knew my illness was wearing on him.   I also didn’t want to eat which is so unlike me.   It was some pretty scary stuff.   A few weeks later after the fourth chemo treatment, I couldn’t walk.   I never had my next scheduled chemo treatment but I heard mom and dad talking about the big sleep.   It was just before a weekend so they wanted to spend some time with me and spoil me rotten.   I wagged my tail and in return got lots of hugs and lots of food I shouldn’t normally eat.


"Chemo was exhausting!"

“Chemo was exhausting!”

As that weekend went on, I started getting stronger and getting back to being able to walk.   I felt like that guy in the movie “Rocky” as he’s running on the steps and everyone is cheering for him.   Dad was so happy he told me there was no more chemo!   This was good because I hated the weekly needle pokes and feeling sick.   On the other hand, I got some to take some steroids – I didn’t get the rage and I sure didn’t pack on a lot of muscle but they did make me feel better.   I wagged my tail.


Resting with my buddy Taylor

Resting with my buddy Taylor

I had an accident in the house…I blame it on the drugs!   And so did dad.   He didn’t get mad.   He actually hugged me and took me outside.   If only I had known this trick earlier in life…I could have gotten away with a lot more!   The gentleness I’ve experienced only makes me want to do better and to keep on trucking.   I’m not quite ready to stop watching over my family.   Yep, my tail is still wagging.


It’s been a few weeks now.   Steroids made me happy and with every thing I did, dad seemed happier too, so much that if he had a tail, he’d probably be wagging it.   Instead, I figured smiles, hugs, and belly rubs are the same expression.   We pets are very perceptive and emotional; can’t you see it in our eyes and feel it in our slobbery kisses?   When our families are happy, we feel good.   When our families are stressed, we also feel anxious.   We feed off of emotions (and cookies!)…

Charlie lost in the bag of Charlee Bear treats

Charlie lost in the bag of Charlee Bear treats

Charlie….hey bud, we’re not done yet.   Oh there he goes…Charlie has lost himself in the bag of Charlee Bear treats again.   It’s Dr. Llera now so I’ll wrap this up for the both of us.   What Charlie & I have learned through this is that when times are tough, you should try to see the silver lining that is there and try to keep a positive mental attitude.   In any alarming situation with your pets, there is always hope.   It may be the hope that everything will turn out alright.   Or it may be the hope that you try your best and that they don’t suffer.   The important thing to remember is to stay strong, give your pet all the love you can, and know that in the end everything will work out.   So what are you waiting for?   Go “wag that tail.”

best friends


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A Week With Cancer

A Week With Cancer

Hi, it’s Charlie here. Dad (Dr. Llera) agreed to take some dictation for me so I could share some of my story. It’s been a Charlie st patrick dayfull week since I was diagnosed with cancer again, this time with lymphoma. I thought this was a good time to reflect on my experience and share how we see things as dogs.

Late at night some days before, I was just minding my own business….you know peeing on one of dad’s flower plants outside the house. It was still pretty cold for dad and he was anxiously waiting for me to finish and get back in the warm house. When I mean anxious, he was begging me to hurry up…but then his voice got silent.

Back inside the house, he called for mom and the next minute later I was being groped around my manly dog parts. I heard them talk about it being swollen and our neighbor joking that dad should call the vet since it might have been swollen for longer than 4 hours. Sometimes it’s hard being dog & best friend of a veterinarian because when something is wrong, you know you’re getting looked over to the extreme but at least there’s usually cookies afterwards.

The next day we got up and got dressed for the car ride to the Kingston Veterinary Clinic but I didn’t get breakfast!! Charlie at VEC April 2015 Dad was talking to the other vet people about probing me and taking blood to find out more. Being a previous blood donor that wasn’t the scary part….but probing didn’t sound so good. And I was right!! I had 5 or 6 other people touch me inappropriately and putting syringes where they don’t belong trying to flush things out. Then I got poked by another needle in a lump they found next to my parts. It was not very fun and I bruised afterwards but I got so many cookies & a bowl full of food! (Can you tell cookies & food are an important part of my day?)

Blood tests came back and dad asked me what was wrong with my kidneys. How am I supposed to know? I just gave blood at vet school, I didn’t learn anything there. Since I was still feeling good, we started some antibiotics while waiting for test results. Ick! I made sure dad knew I didn’t like them as I vomited in the living room…but then I felt guilty so I ate it again quickly while he stood there looking at me like I was a purple unicorn. He didn’t get mad at me for messing up the floor but gave me a hug instead. I think he was just glad he didn’t have to pick it all up and just had to get out the machine for the rug instead.

charlie cone April 2015A couple days later they sucked more blood out of me but this time I knew it was bad. Within minutes, I was put in a cage and plugged into a fluid machine. At least they gave me a comfy blanket but I missed curling up with my buddy Taylor. The rest of the weekend was strange as I had to still sit in a cage even in my own house; oh the indignity! I couldn’t even go outside for some privacy and dad kept me on a short leash and made me wear a funny boot. He also made me wear the cone of shame…grandma said I looked like a flower.

I still kept my spirits up because I knew how upset dad had been. He cried a few times that weekend worrying about what was happening to me. He returned the favor by taking the tubing out of my leg and I got to run around the yard again! My plan had worked and I was happy! But it was short lived. Dad told me we were going on a long car trip to the big city after taking some pictures of me on another machine where everyone got to wear space age looking suits except me. The lump came back with the cancer called lymphoma. I knew this wasn’t good because dad hugged me for what seemed like an eternity.

cyst in the kidney

cyst in my kidney

Friday, we got in the car for our trip to a place called the Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Toronto. He forgot to feed me again! When we got there, I met some nice doctors named Dr. Mason & Dr. Cullander who also prodded me and looked me over. I wonder, how many more people will touch me? I just want cookies & hugs; why can’t they understand? Next thing I knew, I was laying on my back and they shaved my belly. In the summer this might not be so bad, but I realized just how cold it was when I laid on the floor later. A cold jelly was put on my belly and I got massaged by a wand which I later found out was not magical nor could it remove the cancer. It did tell the doctors that my kidneys had cysts but that the cancer didn’t look like it was anywhere else.

hugging charlie at VECShortly after, the doctors talked to dad about some major drugs that would help to kill the cancer. They also mentioned something about organic cbd oil for dogs. After a chat with mom, dad told them to start the chemotherapy and I was taken to the treatment room where I met many nice people until they poked me and I was waiting for the cookies. I wondered where dad had gone but he came back for me, true to his word saying he would never leave. We got back in the car to go home and surprise – there was food and dad even shared his chips! The drugs made my appetite weird and another pill makes me pee a lot but at least it’s warmer outside now.

It’s been a few days since our trip and mom & dad decided to get me the treatment to help me feel better even though vincristine to fight cancerI’ve been feeling pretty good. Dad said he owed it to me for all the great things I’ve done for others in my life. Yesterday was my first chemo treatment from dad and the technicians at KVC. It was a little strange when dad came over to me looking that that guy from Breaking Bad, except the suit was green this time, but afterwards I knew it was going to be okay when I got cookies.

I’m doing alright and am getting used to new foods but I’ve got a long road ahead. The next 6 months will have it’s ups and downs. But through it all, I’m gonna keep fighting cancer. I’m going to get all the love and support I need from my family and return that love even more. There may come a time when it’s time to let go and if it comes to that at least I’ll be able to watch over my family. Now wish me luck! It’s time to go for another car ride!

1st chemo to fight cancer

The Importance of Blood Tests

The Importance of Blood Tests

Charlie lays here in my living room…intravenous catheter in place and he’s wearing “the cone.” A last minute addition to my weekend on a problem I have been trying to figure out for the past week. Because I am a veterinarian, I’m lucky that I can care for him at home in this manner. I wonder how many other people would have noted Charlie’s problem but not realized that it goes deeper. charlie cone April 2015

It was late on Monday night last week when I had Charlie outside for his bedtime bathroom break. Having a senior pet and having been through a lot in the past year, I am checking over my pets a few times a week but only in the sense of a quick check over. So how could I have missed a slight swelling of Charlie’s privates and inguinal lymph nodes? It was an incredibly subtle finding and Charlie has been acting completely normal – eating his food, acting playful, going to the bathroom normally.

The following day I got some blood tests done (just 4 months after his last check) and the results came back with changes in his kidneys & liver values. The liver enzymes were not surprising given the biopsy I had previously gotten from Charlie but the kidney values were borderline consistent with kidney disease (often referred to as failure). We checked a urinalysis and started him on some antibiotics in case of pyelonephritis (kidney infection) even though it wouldn’t cause the noted swelling. Three days later (on the Saturday), I rechecked his blood and the kidney values had gotten worse despite Charlie still acting normal.

Charlie blood April 2015 pet blood tests Charlie blood 2 April 2015 pet blood testsWhy is this important?? No, I haven’t figured out what is going on with Charlie yet and I do have my fears for something more sinister. As veterinarians, we recommend annual wellness blood testing on your pets, particularly those in their senior years. There is only one reason we do this: to find diseases early and prevent your pet from suffering or getting sicker. A physical exam can only reveal so much. We use the finest medical machinery achievable as it is important to look for the best equipment for your laboratory so that testing is done to its highest possible level for the intended results.

In many cases, changes in organ function will show up on a blood test before you see anything at home. This is how health problems seem to happen so fast. In actuality, the problem has likely been brewing for awhile and your pet’s body has been compensating until it cannot keep up with hiding the illness. This is where Charlie is now – a mostly normal clinical normal patient with abnormal blood results. The longer a patient goes with subclinical disease, the more behind the 8-ball we get when you do see something and attempts to treat the problem are made.

I’m just like you – I LOVE my pets! And we don’t want anything to happen to them right? So when your veterinarian recommends wellness testing, think about it long & hard before you say “he seems healthy so we don’t need that.” We are only advocating for them and want you to be able to spend as much healthy time with them as possible.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are my own opinion and do not reflect that of my current or previous employers.

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