My life has always been filled with animals. My first pet was a white, long-hair cat named Little Sh--, a name conveniently changed to L.S. when I was born. I had numerous dogs, cats, turtles, fish, rats, rabbits and horses throughout my childhood.
Now my boyfriend Trent and I share our lives with Rufus, the circus dog. If you get out the treats but don’t give him a command soon enough, he’ll go through his whole routine to see if he can guess what you want him to do.
We also have sweet and timid Boo-cat who is always willing to take a nap with me, even if she has been sleeping all day. And there’s also Gizmo, a year-old, 12-pound bundle of kitten energy. He can go from being asleep to what I call "psycho-kitty" in the blink of an eye. He tears around the house, over furniture, people and other animals, and then plops on the arm of the couch and goes back to sleep.
I am also Person to Cisco and Kahlua, who live with my friend Paul. These are the cute bundles of fur we fell for when someone was giving them away outside a grocery store. We were young, and we thought it would be so much fun to have dogs. It was, but it was a lot more work and responsibility than we expected. Puppies need lots of love, care, training and patience. And money. It’s hard to comprehend that they’re now 10 years old. According to the back of the dog food bag, they are officially "senior dogs."
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Recently Paul and I took the dogs to the vet for a wellness visit. Kahlua, a female Rottweiler-malamute mix, is slightly overweight and has mild case of lupus, an immune mediated skin disease, on her nose that we watch closely. On the other hand, Cisco, a male pit bull/golden retriever mix, was looking a little too skinny.
Several hundred dollars later, Kahlua is back on thyroid medication for her weight and her kibble portion size has been reduced again. Paul has kept her lupus under control by giving her vitamin E and flaxseed oil with her food and steroid drops when visible symptoms reoccur.
Cisco had his blood drawn and tested to figuring out why he has lost 10 pounds since his vet visit a year ago. His labs came back perfect so the next step is to check for parasites. According to Paul, Cisco has suddenly become very shy about doing his business.
The list of things to do to keep your pet happy and healthy never ends. But as animal people, we do what we need to do to keep our beloved pets with us for as long as possible.
Jennifer VanderSmith is The Tribune’s new pet columnist.
Do you have a story about your pet that you’d like to share? If so, e-mail email@example.com.