Monday, August 30, 2010

Skeletor mentioned on

Thanks to Mel for spreading the word about Skelly. He was mentioned on, which is the website of the Florida Times Union.

Spoiled Doggie Alert! - Lovin the couch privileges

Skeletor was climbing the walls this weekend. It has been really wet outside, so he has been on a strictly business relationship with the outside world.

I was taking him out front on his leash when he had to go to the restroom in an attempt to keep him out of the mud. It was going along great for the first couple of hours, but since his prednisone causes him to make water every 20 minutes, I grew quite wary, rather quickly!

Finally I thought to myself... it's been a good while since it's rained... perhaps he could go out back without tracking in a bunch of mud. What a fool I was! Haha.

His restricted access to the back yard has him chock full of excess energy. At one point, I was sitting on the couch and he literally jumped in my lap like a chihuahua. This was the first time he pulled off this particular hilarious feat. I wish I had some evidence to share.

I've been trying to teach him some new tricks. He's doing fine with his old ones, but is rather stubborn so far on the new ones. I'll post a video when we make some progress.

I do have some photos to share from last week... enjoy!

mmm... boney goodness!

mmm... couch privileges!

On the way to the vet

Enjoyin the car ride

Goofy face

Lookin' sharp!


Are we there yet? 

How about now?

I like this shot

Don't forget to order yourself a nice, affordable Skelly Threads T-Shirt!
If I manage to sell all 25 shirts, that will earn $125 to go towards Skeletor's vet bills. 

We have 24 left haha :)

Very suave!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Free Spay / Neuter for Pit Bull and other Bully Breeds

That's right! Free spay / neuter for Pit Bulls, Pit Mixes, Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, American Staffordshire Terriers or any bully breed mixes! The surgery and rabies vaccines are FREE. If the dog does not already have a city license you will need to purchase it for $15.


This is perfect for that person who wants to adopt Emma (hint hint!)

At the vet waitin on the doc

Skelly is very excited to be here! He crammed his head out the window when I pulled into the parking lot. In the waiting room he was yelling hi at every person and dog in sight. He was so excited, he made himself throw up a little.

His favorite vet tech took him for a walk around the building so he could see his pals. I was talking with her and she told me about Emma. Emma is a female pit bull that was dumped on the doorstep a month ago here at San Juan Animal Hospital. She and her litter of 7 male pups have been given vaccinations and have been well taken care of by the staff. 

She is roughly 2 years old. She is heartworm positive, and is doing very well. She is on the heartworm preventative, and has put on about 20 lbs since her arrival here at San Juan.

Emma needs a foster or forever home! Please spread the word and let's see if we can help this charming young lady.

Emma is a very sweet dog.

Emma and her 7 male puppies were abandoned at San Juan Animal Hospital. The staff have been working hard to find homes for the pups. They have 3 of the 7 puppies remaining. They all need homes, but Emma will be the hardest to find a home for. She still needs to be spayed and suffers from heartworms. I hope we can find somebody to take her in. Please contact me if you are interested in adopting Emma or her pups: skeletor (at)

I'm going to try and get some better pics of her. I will update when skelly sees dr fish.

Back to Skeletor...

His red cell count is up to 37%. The normal levels range from 37-55% placing him right on the threshold. This is good news, especially since 22 days ago he was down to an alarming 21%!

Dr. Fish says that his heart sounds better. An x-ray revealed that there are still blockages in his lungs. Dr. Fish said that if we can get the Viagra to help with the pulmonary hypertension, it's possible that his lungs may clear up. He also mentioned that he heard recently that Pfizer offers discounts on the drug in special cases. He is going to call them on Skelly's behalf. Thanks Doc! Let's hope they are feeling generous!

Skeletor weighed in at 56lbs. This is about 4 lbs heavier. I found this surprising, since he seems to have put on so much weight. Perhaps we got a bad reading last time, or maybe since he's barred from exercise, his muscles are turning to fat.

At any rate, he is certainly responding well to the medications! I picked up some more prednisone and vetmedin. We're cutting his prednisone dose in half, and later this week I'll raise his dose of vetmedin from 5 to 7.5mg twice a day.

Our goal is still the same... we want to ween him off the predisone (which is hard on the liver and kidneys) and get his red cell count to stabilize (that means 4 consecutive bi-monthly visits showing normal levels).

When we reach that stage, we should have a tough, healthy, happy pup that is ready to finally triumph over those lousy heartworms!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Skelly Threads T-Shirts are in! Plus how to make spoiled dog soup.

I'm excited to announce the arrival of the first batch of Skelly Threads shirts. They turned out GREAT! I only ordered 25 of them, so quantities are rather limited. (especially if you're size small or medium)

Place your order on the Skelly Threads Page. Please send in photos of you rockin' your Skelly Threads, and indicate whether or not you want them to be published on the blog. Pics can be emailed to Skeletor (at)


Here's a little tutorial: How to make spoiled doggie surprise!

Cut up and pan fry the cheapest steak you can find.

Boil a pack of beef marrow bones (usually 4 in a pack for $2-3)

Add the meat to the boiling water. Reduce heat and cook for at least 1 hour. (feel free to cook for longer... this will cause the meat to fall off and out of the marrow bones)

Cut up and add carrots, rice, beans, barley, pasta, and/or potato.
Continue to cook for 45 minutes. (you don't want to cook too long at this point because your veggies will turn to mush.)

Check and make sure the spoiled doggie in question is hungry. 

Fill his dish with a heaping cup of dry food, then add 2 ladles full of the soup.
Make sure the soup isn't too hot. If it is, just add some ice.

*Nom Nom Nom!*

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skelly's 100th post!

First of all I want to say that Skeletor is doing fantastically!

His appetite is completely insatiable. He's devouring the triple threat dog food surprise like a madman sometimes up to 4 times a day. He's taking pills like a veteran hypochondriac. (thanks to the greenies pill pockets of course!)

He still coughs from time to time... sometimes the coughing causes him to spit up a little, but not entire meals by any means.

I am looking forward to taking him to see Dr. Fish. I have a sneaky suspicion that he's going to weigh in at a whopping 60 lbs!

"More food and medicine please!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quick Skelly Update: A great appetite and a sunny disposition

Skeletor's appetite has been nice and strong! He has been coughing  a bit when he gets excited. Occasionally he'll throw up a little but overall he's a very happy pup. 
Based on his sunny disposition, it looks like his medicine is working! Watching him frolic about the living room makes it hard to believe he's got so many medical problems.
We're hoping for good news next time he has blood work done. Perhaps I'll take him in later this week or early next.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We have a winner! I have ordered a batch of Shirts to help Skeletor

Thank you for voting! I have ordered a batch of shirts. They should be in my hands and ready to ship by August 23rd. Please feel free to pre-order them if you would like!

Each purchase price includes $5 to go towards helping Skelly with his medical bills. I have added a way to donate additional funds as well.

These shirts are all kinds of suave and I can't wait to see how they turn out!

Order yours today!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The finalists have been selected! Vote for your favorite Skelly T-Shirt

The results of the first round of voting are in. I have narrowed it down to 4 finalists. Please cast your vote and I'll print up a batch of shirts and make them available for a reasonable price.

Voting is on the right side of the page. Click here to scroll automatically.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A day without regurgitation

I'm pleased to report that I did not clean up a single pile of puke all day! Yesterday, Dr. Fish advised me to stop giving Skelly the Vetmedin so we can figure out what's making him hurl his biscuits. It looks like we nailed it on the first try. Vomiting and Nausea are side effects of both the Vetmedin and the Doxycycline. Given Skelly's reputation, it's only suitable that he suffers any possible side effect!

It would seem that his strange behavior and lack of appetite can be explained by the nausea. Let's face it, nobody acts like their normal chipper self when they are struggling to keep their food down.

Skeletor has lost weight during all of this. We're hoping that he'll start putting it on soon. He has done very well today. He rolled around on the couch rubbing his face into the cushions (which I've decided he's allowed on now hah!) After all, what are a couple dog hairs and some wear and tear on the cheapest couch and love seat they had at Sticks n Stuff when compared to the comfort and morale of this sick little pup? We can focus more seriously on his manners when the threat to his very existence has been neutralized!

He was even allowed on my bed yesterday.
Spoiled doggy alert!!!

Today he literally devoured a big bowl of food that I whipped up for him consisting of 1/3 can of dog food and a ladle of beef and carrot soup drizzled over a half cup of dry kibble. I was just nervously awaiting the chunky waterworks but he kept it down!! Way to go, Skelly!

This is really great news considering just a couple days ago he was so weak that he wouldn't even try to chew anything. I was lucky to get him to lap up some broth. I've been cooking soup for him quite often these days. Usually I can pick up some beef neck or marrow bones for about two bucks. Boil this for an hour with some carrots and pearled barley, et voila! Skelly goes gow-gow! Soup is also great because it's all kinds of hydrating. Another added bonus... it doesn't stink the house up like liver!!

Speaking of hydration, I got him one of those 2 gallon water dispensers and he's scared of the bubbles that float up as he drinks.
Yes, this is the same dog that just lies there as you vacuum or shampoo the rug 6 inches from his face!

He's also been perfecting his door opening skills. I've been trying to teach him to open the door when he wants to go outside. It's tough because we usually keep it locked.

He's not quite well enough to care much about toys like he once did, however I was letting him lick some mashed potatoes off a wood spoon earlier and he wanted to take the whole spoon from me. We played tug of war just like old times :)

I hope he continues to improve. I know we need to get him back on the Vetmedin in order for his heart to repair itself. Dr. Fish may prescribe something for the nausea so he can get his food and meds. So far, we're at a standstill on the Viagra. Dr. Fish told me that we'll come up with something. The Viagra was prescribed for a reason, but that kind of money could also be used to cure the root of Skelly's ailments, the heartworm infection itself.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Skelly's been having trouble keeping his food down

It's no surprise with all the medications he's on. Skeletor has been throwing up quite a bit. At first I thought it was just because he was eating too much at once, but Dr. Fish said that vomiting is a side effect of both the Vetmedin and the Doxycycline that Skeletor is taking.

Nausea would explain his mood swings. One minute he's happy as a clam, then he's reclusive and depressed the next.

This morning he was licking his chops constantly... I sensed that an upchuck was coming so I went and quickly opened the back door... he made it all the way to the threshold but couldn't hold it in. Poor little guy.

Dr. Fish has instructed me to skip his evening dose of vetmedin so we can try and find out which medication is causing the vomiting. If we have to, he says we'll give Skeletor something to help with his stomach. He certainly needs the meds and the food to stay inside of him!!! It does nobody any good all over the carpet :(

Friday, August 6, 2010

Skeletor seems energetic

I really hope it's not fleeting, but Skeletor seems to be in high spirits today. He has not exactly been chowing down on food, but he is really excited about treats.

Melanie bought him some of those greenies pill pockets. So far, they have worked every time!

I've managed to fill 3 of his 4 prescriptions now.

He's got the Prednisone to battle anemia. He's got the Vetmedin to help his heart. He's got the Doxycycline to fight infection. I ran into a snag when it came to the Viagra.

Viagra is a strange drug. Everybody knows its primary usage. Not many people know that it is one of the only drugs used to treat pulmonary hypertension (the constricting of the pulmonary blood vessels connecting the heart and lungs.) The reason not many people know this is because pulmonary hypertension is not a very common disorder. (please note: I'm not a doctor, I'm just explaining this as I understand it. Check with your doc before taking anything I say here as medical fact.)

That being said, Viagra while widely known, is not very widely prescribed. As a result, it's very expensive!  Before today, I had a limited understanding of what "very expensive" meant as it pertained to prescription drugs. Unfortunately, I have been enlightened. 

Dr. Rod explained when we went and picked up Skeletor that Viagra did not come in 20mg doses. Skeletor has been prescribed three 20mg doses per day. No big deal, we'll just need to go to a compounding pharmacy to have it filled. As luck would have it, I know a couple of very nice guys who own a place called Smart Pharmacy here in Jacksonville. One of their specialties is compounding! Compounding in this case means taking the drug in powder form and precisely measuring it and putting it into capsules.

So, Bill and Greg were nice enough to offer Skeletor the Viagra at cost (meaning they would make no money off of the compounding, nor the sale.) Alas, a month's supply would cost roughly $1,000 after the discount!!!

Bill made some calls on Skeletor's behalf to see if any of his colleagues knew of a supplier offering the drug in powdered form which might offer a marginal savings. No such luck.

I am hoping that the Viagra is the least vital of Skeletor's prescribed meds. I have put a call into Dr. Fish to get his thoughts on the drug. Perhaps we can find a cheaper alternative. I'll post when I have more info.

Picked up one of these nifty water dispensers so that I can keep this guy hydrated.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

[updated] Skeletor's Diagnosis: Severe congestive heart failure coupled with anemia

I have made edits to this...

I just got a call from Dr. Rod with the results of Skeletor's echo.

Here's what I could get over the phone... I'll update/clarify after speaking with them in person.

He suffers from severe congestive heart failure. There are a host of medications that may potentially help with this.

The most life threatening symptom of the heart failure caused by the lousy stinking heartworms is that dastardly anemia. He needs those red blood cells!!!

They plan on changing his anti-biotic to one that contains doxycycline and something called ibermectim(sp?) that may slowly weaken the heartworms.(this will possibly be the next step. He's just on regular doxycycline now in hopes of stabilizing before beginning the slow-kill heartworm treatment)

They are putting him on an expensive heart medication that will hopefully get his pumper going strong. I can't remember the name of it, but I know it's chewable and about $150 per pill.

They are prescribing him viagra 3 times a day to help with the pulminary hypertension. This pill doesn't come in doggy form, so I'll have to go to a compounding pharmacy.

They are keeping him on the prednisone.

Whether or not the surgery will be required (or even an option) depends on getting him stabilized.

Sounds like he's going to be taking a whole lot of pills. Unfortunately in his weakened state, he doesn't catch them in his mouth anymore :(

He has a tendency to store them in his mouth and pretend like he swallowed them only to spit them out later.

Yesterday afternoon he seemed to have selectively regurgitated the pill after I gave it to him.

Sounds like a lot of TLC will be needed. I hope he stays strong enough to see this through.

Thanks again for spreading the word, leaving comments, and sending contributions. Skeletor is very lucky to have your continued support!

Just dropped him off

Let's hope for relatively good news from dr. Borde!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Got a call from Dr. Fish

We've got good news, even better news, and of course, some not-quite-so-thrilling news about the Echocardiogram.

The good news is that Dr. Fish has called in a favor at Julington Creek Animal Hospital, another clinic here in town. They are going to waive their exam fee and let me bring Skeletor in as one of their patients for the Echo.

The even better news is that Dr. Borde, a renowned cardiologist from Gainesville's Institute of Veterinary Specialists will be performing the procedure! This means that not only will he deliver the results, but can also offer his professional opinion about Skeletor's condition.

Skeletor has lucked out in more ways than one. Dr. Borde charges a travel fee to come up from Gainesville. He just happens to be here for another patient at precisely the moment that Skeletor needs the echocardiogram.

The nice folks at Julington Creek will be offering Dr. Borde's services at cost, meaning they won't be making any money off of the visit. We're quite grateful for this! Thanks to Dr. Rod Winchester for setting it up!

The not-quite-as-thrilling-news is that cardiologists charge a bit more than radiologists to perform this procedure. Dr. Fish said the price tag may be in the $350 range.

I'm happy to announce that a few people have sent in some donations to help with Skelly's vet bills. Thank you very much! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have contacted over 50 shelters and organizations in hopes of getting attention to Skelly's cause. I did some research on the heartworm surgery and it's looking like it will be in the $3,000 range. *yowza!*

Dr. Fish mentioned on the phone that Skeletor has some very bright minds working together to try and save his life. Of course, there will be no guarantees, and we have our fund raising work cut out for us, but all this positive news is great to hear.

Let's hope those grants start pouring in! I'll be dropping Skeletor off with the cardiologist tomorrow morning.

Helping Animals in Need - New Page Added

As a small way of saying thanks in advance, I have started a list of all the organizations that I've contacted on Skeletor's behalf.

I have contacted them requesting information, grants, financial assistance, or simply that they spread the word about Skeletor.

Here's a link to the new page:

Skeletor's Page

I'm trying to spread the word about Skeletor and his predicament. In doing so, I have created this page for him...

Paging Dr. Schoenborn - Jacksonville's top radiologist

I've done a bit of research and it appears that this is the best person to consult regarding Skelly's ultrasound. I don't remember exactly, but I think this is the guy Dr. Fish is trying to get a hold of. 

I tried calling around to a few other vets in town. Apparently Schoenborn is mobile and serves multiple clinics. Consequently, I can't seem to get a hold of him directly. I put a call into Dr. Fish to confirm that we're seeking the same radiologist. He won't get in until 10. 
Dr. William C. Schoenborn, Board Certified Radiologist

Dr. Bill Schoenborn is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology. He received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University (1994), following which he completed a Small Animal Internship at the University of Minnesota (1995). Before deciding to pursue a career in radiology, Dr. Schoenborn was a small animal practitioner in Syracuse, NY for four years (1995-1999). In 1999 he applied for and was accepted into the radiology residency program at the University of California at Davis. After completing his residency and passing the board exams, he was awarded Diplomate status by the American College of Veterinary Radiology in 2002.

Diagnostic imaging often plays a pivotal role in many clinical cases, both surgical and medical. Dr. Schoenborn's primary goal is to advance pet health care by consulting with area practitioners and providing diagnostic imaging expertise (ultrasound exams, ultrasound guided biopsies and radiographic interpretations).

Dr. Schoenborn was born and raised in New York but spent five years in northern California (San Francisco Bay area) prior to relocating to Jacksonville and establishing First Coast Veterinary Imaging, P.A. He and his wife immensely enjoy spending time with their young son and vicariously re-discovering the world through a child's eyes. Dr. Schoenborn enjoys golfing, swimming, most professional sports and The Sopranos. His motto is "I'd rather be mowing grass than shoveling snow"!
Skeletor has been eating heartily on the steak and green bean soup I made for him.  I've been feeding him many small meals in hopes of helping him keep it all down. So far, so good.

He's now taking 3 different medications. Cephalexin to fight infection, Enalapril to lower his blood pressure and make it easier on his struggling heart, and Prednisone to lower the chances of an auto-immune reaction.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Home from the Vet - The next step

I mentioned at the vet that Skelly has not had much of an appetite. The vet techs gave him some fancy canned food which he gobbled up.

Skelly urinated on the way out to the car. It was far from healthy looking. During the car ride home, he was unable to keep down all that yummy food. :(

Last week the doc was under the impression that Skelly was having an auto-immune reaction similar to the one that he had when they gave him the initial preventative. It appears that is not the case.

The x-ray revealed that portions of Skeletors lungs are not functional. This is further evidenced by his abnormal heart murmur, and labored breathing.  They gave me 2 possible explanations for this. 1) The adult heartworms have shifted, causing a blockage and cutting off the blood supply to portions of his lungs. 2) Pneumonia.

It's not likely that pneumonia is to blame for the anomalies found in the x-ray. The reason for this is that he has not been running a temperature at all.

I was given no other possibilities to account for Skeletor's rapidly deteriorating state.

The next step is to perform an echocardiogram. This is a sonogram, which will give the doctors a clearer picture of the state of Skeletor's heart and the parasites contained therein. 

The first thing we need to do if we're going to save this pup is figure out for sure what is wrong. It seems apparent that we're indeed dealing with a blockage. Nothing else accounts for all of his symptoms and their very sudden onset.

Unfortunately diagnosis is only the beginning. I asked Dr. Fish what our options would be in the event that he's right about the blockage. There are only two. (three if you count euthanasia)

One (which Dr. Fish would not even begin to recommend for a dog in Skeletor's weakened state) is to kill the adult heartworms through the use of Immiticide injections.

Two is to remove the obstruction surgically.

I just found a very informative page on the subject.

Here's an excerpt... 
  • Class I: Lowest Risk. Young healthy dogs with minimal disease evident on radiographs, normal blood work, and no symptoms of illness. They may cough only occasionally if ever, they only fatigue with exercise, and their chest radiographs are normal. 
  • Class II: Moderately Affected. Healthy dogs with minimal signs as above, occasional coughing, fatigue only with exercise but with radiographs that show definite evidence of heart disease. Lab testing shows mild anemia, urine dipsticks show some protein, but not severe urinary protein loss.
  • Class III: Severely Affected. Dog is suffering from weight loss, cough, difficulty breathing, blatant damage to the vasculature is apparent on radiographs, laboratory work reveals a more severe anemia and marked urinary protein loss.
  • Class IV: Caval Syndrome. Dog is collapsing in shock and dark brown urine is evident.
    Heartworms visible by ultrasound in the AV valve of the right side of the heart, and blood work is very abnormal. These dogs are dying and can only be saved by the physical removal of adult heartworms via an incision through the jugular vein. If such a dog can be saved from this crisis, further heartworm infection treatment cannot be contemplated until the dog is stable enough to fit into one of the other categories above.

Skeletor seems to have jumped from somewhere around Class II clear into Class III in literally 2 weeks. 

I'm awaiting a phone call to let me know when I can bring Skelly in for the echocardiogram. This procedure is supposed to be around $200. The summer slump in business has left me with no kind of budget for this. Much less the surgery that will undoubtedly be astronomical. :(

Dr. Fish mentioned that they could keep him hospitalized in the meantime, but saw no reason to.  It would just cost extra money and they feel like he's being well taken care of here.

Poor Skelly. I hate to wrap up this post without a single positive thing to say...

While we were in the back, Skeletor saw another sick pup and was trying to go say hi. He was acting just like his normal chipper self but to a much lesser degree. He really tries to be happy no matter how bad he's feeling.

When we got home and I finished cleaning up the back seat, I noticed Skelly laying down in the living room. Sophie walked up to him with her tail wagging. She then licked and nibbled at his face almost as if she could tell that he was sick. I wish I had been video taping.

 Hang in there buddy!!

Heartworms suck

If your dog is not on a preventative, you're asking for it. These are nasty parasites that wreak havoc on the circulatory system. Please protect your dog so you don't have to learn just how serious they are.

At the vet.. More bad news, I'm afraid...

Skeletor has not been eating much. His lethargy has been persisting.

We're at the vet now. He has lost 2 pounds. His red cell count is down to 21% from 28%. His platelets are low and his white cells up.

Nothing but bad news across the board. Dr Fish says he doesn't like the sound of skelly's heart. He is going to analyze his blood under a microscope and do a chest x-ray.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Today is Skeletor's Follow-up visit to the vet

It's been a rather smelly few days with the scent of boiled liver soup lingering in the air. Skelly's been eating a fair amount of food, and his disposition remains positive. He's not exactly bouncing off the walls with energy, but I'm hoping that his blood work will indicate that he's doing better.

Thanks again for everybody's positive comments. They mean a lot. Thanks a whole bunch to Amy and The House of Cats as well as anybody else taking the time to try and help us get Skeletor healthy.

Dr. Fish alluded to some fancy new (euphemism for very expensive) drugs that may help. He's supposed to provide more info on those during today's visit.

An item of note: in light of the recent trauma, Skeletor's bladder control ain't what it used to be. This has resulted in a few accidents on the carpet. His urine is no longer blood red, but as a result of his Vitamin B12 shot it's got an orange tint to it. This orange stuff makes for a real nasty stain if you don't clean it up QUICK!!