Friday, May 29, 2015

Dude's Heartworm Triumph: Ever heard of "Slow Kill" treatment?

Some of you may remember Trey and I adopting a dog named Dude from Sedona’s Humane Society a couple of years ago. I want to give you a little history on him and also share with you his health struggles and triumph. He was picked up in Rimrock Arizona and taken to a high-kill shelter in Verde Valley. Although, he was fortunate in that the Sedona Humane Society was willing to take him in. There were a lot of dogs habiting there that had been calling that place home, for quite a long time, some up to 6 months. Dude had already been there two months when our lives came together. Trey and I first saw him on-line. Out of all the dogs we visited, he was the one dog that we wanted to meet the most. We met a lot of dogs that day who would have made great companions. But when we told the handlers at the Humane Society that we lived in truck camper full-time, they said “Dude, is the largest dog we will allow you to adopt.” Lucky for him, he was our first choice. The only dogs smaller than him were three crazy little Chihuahuas. Dude is actually quite big (45lbs) but has stubby legs, so he comes across as a smaller dog. (We think he is a Blue Heeler and Bull Terrier mix-ish)

 Here is a little history and catch-up on him. He is, to our surprise, still coming out of his shell. He has gone from being a dog that could not even look me in the eyes, to not being able to leave my side, to approaching everyone to say hello. He was around 5 years old when we adopted him and he knew nothing! He was a total train and he was a tough train. But I can tell you that old dogs can learn new tricks. He gets along with most dogs. Every once and a while, he will have issues with other dogs, but that has become less and less with continued proper socialization. We had to stop taking him to dog parks because he just couldn’t handle it and would become overwhelmed and start taking things way too seriously. We started calling him Officer Dude.

Unfortunately, after having him for about 6 months he had a horrible allergic reaction to soap, from getting bathed, at a pet care center. We took him to the vet and decided to run a gamut of tests on him, just to make sure that he had a clean bill of health. But what we learned was that he had heartworms! At the time Trey and I were traveling full time for work, so Dude got to visit many different vets and we got a ton of different opinions. We had decided to walk down the road of killing the heartworms with a two-month arsenic treatment. Starting that day with a month of antibiotics. The heartworm treatment would start a month later. I read a million different articles and felt horrible about the whole situation. Mainly, how do you explain to your dog, which you just adopted, that they wouldn’t be allowed to do anything for about three months! And still potentially die.
The 30 days of antibiotics were up. We took him in to see yet another vet, this time in Saint George Utah. The vet asked if we had done an ultrasound to see what sort of damage was in the heart or to see how many worms were in there. We had not done the ultrasound because the cost was around $600. The vet explained that in Saint George they never had the opportunity to see heartworms because of the low incidence of them in the region. He was willing to forego the cost just for the experience for his staff and himself. How could we say no to that! Dude had an ultra-sound! Absolutely no heartworms could be seen. Although, we did see a small heart anomaly present, not a single worm showed up for the viewing. The vet explained that, it didn’t mean there were no heartworms, it just meant that they were not in that part of the heart, that was best viewed. So, Trey and I made the decision not to treat the heartworms. Dude had started a monthly chewable, that monthly chewable would kill any baby worms from forming and Dude would just live with the pesky thing(s) until they died on their own. Heartworms have a 7-year life span and there is no way to know how long he had been living with them.

About 6 months later, Dude got into something and wasn’t feeling well. We took him in to see, yet another, different vet. We explained his heartworm situation and this vet kept using the term “slow kill”. After she said it, for the third time, I stopped her and asked what she meant by “slow kill”. Because none of the other vets Dude had seen had ever used that term. She explained, that she was once a vet in Missouri, where the prevalence of heartworm is extremely high. She said that “never had [she] ever seen a dog, who after a year of taking the monthly chewable, still have heartworms.” Well, this was news to us! He was 6 months in to this “slow kill” and we had no idea that there was still a possibility of a cure for him!

About three months later we were at a friends house when Dude stood up and started walking like he was drunk. Trey and I shot up and got him outside. He basically passed out in the back yard for a brief couple of seconds and also began pooping. We thought he was dying from the heartworms! But then he got up and was still very unstable. So back to yet another vet we went!  We found out that he had pneumonia. I asked the vet “what are the chances that Dude had passed the worms into his lungs?” The vet wasn’t sure. He explained that he had only ever treated three dogs with heartworms in his past and had never heard about the “slow kill” treatment.
Trey and I had our fingers crossed that Dude’s worms were dying off. We waited another 6 months and continued to give him the monthly chewable. Last fall we took him in to see the same vet who he had the pneumonia with to be tested for heartworms again. It took about 24-48hr but the vet called us and said, “I can’t believe this, but your dog is heartworm free!” So, he asked us all kinds of questions. He couldn’t believe that he had never heard of “slow kill” treatment before.

We are incredibly delighted that Dude now has a clean bill of health. He is a very lucky dog. 
Dude's mini me.

Dude learning to share.

Another stubby buddy

Just a fun little game of keep-away

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Not Just Another Day On Hwy 70

Trey and I have always had very interesting luck. Our lives have always been very extreme, whether we are rock climbing, DH mountain biking, running from tornados or simply having a life experience that most would think is totally unbelievable. It’s funny when we talk to people and tell them stories from being on the road and they look at us like we are full of bologna.  Well, at least we have each other and Dude as witnesses. Sometimes we get to share cool experiences with others, like this little ditty that I am about to tell you now.

Dude and I jamming out in the car!
Last fall, Trey and I picked up my car from Olympia WA. It has been there since we got on the road in 2011. Our plan, in the beginning, was to travel for only one year. Therefore, it only made sense to keep the car and have it for when our travels were finished. But, enough time had passed, that it had become kind of ridiculous not to be using it. We are still figuring out exactly what our plan will be with the car and how exactly we will tow it behind our camper. Thus far, I have been driving it while Trey has been driving the Camper. I must admit, it has been kind of nice to be able to drive ahead and check for things like road conditions for Trey. I’ve picked up the cell phone a bunch of times to alert him to what lane he should be getting into because of an up coming pothole or dip in the road. Also, driving to the store or going out eat is much easier without having to take our beast-of-a-truck with us everywhere we go. And lastly and most importantly, I can unabashedly jam out to tunes on Pandora. Dude never complains, he is my biggest fan!

Ghost Rock...this is not our photo found it on Trip Advisor 
Now back to my original story. I was driving west on Interstate 70, somewhere between Green River UT, and Salinas UT, when I got a text message from our friends Angela and Gordon from Truck Camper Magazine. The message read, “You just passed us!” But, as soon as I went to respond, I lost my signal! So, I drove a little bit further, to higher ground, “Ghost Rock”, to be exact. My signal was back and I was able to tell them where I stopped. Then, I texted Trey and told him to stop too. There we were in the middle of nowhere Southwestern USA, literally hanging out with our friends from Pennsylvania! It was a little bit surreal and, I am sure we all had drive- brain   that’s when you have been driving for so long that your brain gets mushy and you forget how to function properly. We hung-out long enough to catch up on a few things: like Gordon and Angela’s cat named “Harley” and our furry 4-legged friend “Dude’s” recent antics, LED lighting and Solar/Battery setup, and our mutual plans for the summer. We also managed to snap this shot below, which I made Trey take twice because I thought I had blinked   only after photo inspection did Trey point out that I was wearing my sunglasses! (drive-brain)
Gordon and Angela!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Today Was A Strange Day

Today was a strange day. We woke in Great Basin National Park in Nevada. What an amazing grand place to visit. We didn’t really do anything there because we have been on a mission to get to Bend Oregon, and trying to escape all the storms out in the Desert Southwest. We woke to rain so, get to boogie was the plan.

We had parked in what looked like a shooting range, although I saw no shells or other people. The ground was made up of fine powdery silt. With the rain we knew what this meant, we have heard stories of people getting stuck in the stuff. It embeds itself in the undercarriage of your car. When it dries it’s like cement. Walking around in it is a mess to, as it builds on itself, becoming thicker and thicker with every step. (Dude had it on his paws. Poor little guy spent a good part of the drive grooming himself. At one point I looked back at him and his dog-bed was covered in balled up bits of dried silt.)

So, I made a very quick breakfast and we got out of there fast. We drove through multiple storms. When there was finally and break in the weather, it seemed like a great time to stop for lunch. We ate. Then we were back on the road. Many times after storms pass the animals like to come out. Today was one of those days. I left in the car and Trey was behind me in the camper. I was weaving to avoid all of the ground critters that were scampering across the street. Back and forth they went. I was driving so carefully when one went under my car. I didn’t feel anything so I was hoping that he escaped death. Then about 30 mins later I saw what I thought was a coyote bound across the road and then another, only the second one stopped right in front of me. It was not a coyote but a massive Jack Rabbit! I slammed on my brakes and so did Dude. The Jack Rabbit escaped unscathed.

 After driving 160 miles further than planned today, because of all the rain and mud puddles that made finding dry-camping nearly impossible.  We pulled over a million times and said “how about here?” “No” “how about here?” “No”. Finally, we settled-in, in front of a BLM sign, almost right off the main highway 95, because we were exhausted and not finding anything without mud puddles that would keep us stuck for a few days.

As I was talking to Trey tonight, I said “I think I nearly hit one of those ground squirrels” his response, “Oh, you did, he was flopping all around, so I put him out of his misery”.                            (I cried a little bit)

That's life on the road, literally...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friends Go! Go! Go!

My birthday party and one of the many storms that roll though. 
For the last month we have been in Moab Utah, dry camping, along with all the other motorist looking for a free spot to camp off of Willow Springs Rd. There are a vast mix of people out there, you will find ATVers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, hikers, full-timers, weekend get-a-way-ers, and Germans. Moab has been unseasonably wet this year! The dirt roads have been a complete disaster, not just because of the vehicles coming on and off the road all day long, from the main highway 191, but mostly because of the ATVer’s (that’s a word) who think it's super-awesome to tare through the mud while its raining. When the sun comes back out and the mud dries, the road that is left, should be named Bumpy Hell Hwy. The city came out once and graded the road, but it’s been a couple weeks since then and it has rained almost every day that we have been here. So, is now a good time to mention that we parked our rig in a wash? Every time there is a lot of the rain we end up with a waterfall underneath the camper. Why we haven’t moved to a different location is because the road is such a sh!t show, we would rather deal with the rain.  

Dinner with friends from Washington and Oregon.
In the last month we have had a convergence of friends come together for some fun in sun. Unfortunately, they all got more than they bargained for.  We had friends from Arizona, Oregon, and Washington come to visit. The friends from Washington looked at the Washington forecast everyday and one of the many running jokes was that the weather was nicer in Washington than it was in Moab. (hard to imagine). Having them here was a full on party for about a week and half. We love friends and love when we get to meet up and visit in different locations but the complete exhaustion we feel once they leave is intense. See, we move at a snails pace these days. If we want to ride our bikes we ride them when we are ready sometimes before lunch, sometimes after lunch, and certainly never right after early morning breakfast. In fact, early morning breakfast only happens when friends are in town. When friends come to visit it is game on! They are on vacation and they want to Go! Go! Go! It’s a blast but when they leave we need a vacation too.  

Speaks for itself. 
Too rainy to ride so we went for a hike: Turret Arch  
Being in Moab this time around we have met a ton of full-timers. Parked right next to us although, not in spitting distance, is Bob Wells of and Suanne Carlson of We only just met them the other day, when our friends were here. We were calling them the CIA, because Bod is in a white van and Suanne is in a white Prius. We had a lot of running jokes but the main one was; watch what you say because the CIA might be listening. I hope they can forgive us; they are really nice people and living the dream just like we are trying to do. However, currently, we have a group of young boys parked between us and the Not-CIA, with a lawnmower for a generator! That’s all I’ll say about that. Don’t want to use too much profanity. Although, rhymes with gass and ends with hats. Sounds like GassHats! Drop the G.
Beautiful day for a rained later.

Okay, that’s enough ramblings from me now.

Hike: False Kiva