The Tucker Files: Orijen to Raw Diet?


Orijen (Photo credit: kennejima)

I was very excited when we brought our golden boy home and could switch him from the breeder recommended kibble to Orijen.  They seem like an excellent Canadian company with great practices, and I was sure I was giving our baby the next best thing to raw food.

As time goes by, I begin to wonder more and more about Tucker’s diet, and the fact that his poop is still huge and runny on a fairly regular basis.  Apparently we are feeding him a little more that the bag suggests, (we our feeding 70 lb tucker about 5-6 cups per day) but he is very lean and active.  We thought perhaps the over feeding was causing this, but how can we be sure? Also, Tucker’s poop smells much worse than any dog I have ever had, and just attributed that to a healthy diet, but I know for a fact when feeding Logan raw, he never had this problem.

We live in a built up neighborhood of nice homes, and during this heat wave, my neighbors have more than noticed the rancid smell coming from our yard.  As I am sure anyone who owns a dog can attest, cleaning up these “cow patties” is extremely challenging, especially in this hot weather. (think chocolate pudding, only stickier, and smellier!)  I find myself gagging and rinsing the area with the hose, but even with that, our yard smells like a cess pool.

My boyfriend and I have been seriously discussing switching Tucker to a raw food diet.  I know the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, its just a matter of taking that first step….I look forward to the days of no more patties…

Here’s a picture of the boy, taken today

When the vet won’t euthanize…end of life decisions.

Okay, it has been almost two years since we put Logan down, so I will try and put into words his last days, finally.  This is completely a personal post, about my own experience.  I am by no means an expert on this subject.  I really don’t know anyone who knows for sure.  But there is someone who thinks she does.  She is, of course, a veterinarian.  Here is my story….

Logan was 11 years old.  He was a purebred Golden Retriever.  He was the most gentle, affectionate, and low maintenance dog I have ever owned…..except for the hair!  lol  Well worth the love he gave us.  I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that he was raised by the most amazing breeder I have yet to come across, was neutered at about 8 weeks of age, wasn’t vacinated, and was raised on a raw food diet.  Vets and groomers couldn’t rave enough about his temperment, coat and teeth. This particular veterinarian strongly advised me against this.  Due to having very small children (crawling) and working full time 12 hour shifts, I couldn’t maintain the raw diet and switched to the next best thing, a quality kibble (actually the next best thing would probably be a purchased raw diet, something I may look into)

I can honestly say that Logan lived a very great life.  From following us out to the middle of the lake at the cottage in our canoe, to living in the country with room to roam, while being trained to stay on the property, (only to wander over to visit the neighbours with permission).  He slept with us every night. (unless he was sprayed by a skunk, which happened a total of 4 times in his lifetime)  He was spoiled with table scraps for awhile from my parents…which made him gain serious weight.  I had to lecture them several times…”not the bread!  not the bread!”  He eventually returned to his normal, healthy weight.

He had just turned 11. Things started to change drastically.  One night, Logan had a seizure.  He started convulsing, laying on his side, head far back, legs going frantically.  He urinated and deficated.  I called the emergency vet and they explained that he was having a seizure.  They told me what to do, and if it happened again that night to bring him in.  It didn’t.  I began reading everything and anything I could on seizures in Golden Retrievers.  Believe me, there’s alot.  Idiopathic Epilepsy, or brain cancer.  The seizures gradually continued and Logan quickly deteriorated.  We finally put him on phenobarbitol.  This seemed to manage the seizures for a short time, but made him ravounesly hungry (as he was after a seizure)  He would eat everything and everything.  He wasn’t the polite golden he used to be, the one who didn’t counter surf.  I learned this the hard way.  There was a tenderloin steak we wont discuss. ..

Eventually his fur began to look all matted, his eyes were glossed over, he went blind, and would stand in the corner and bark for half an hour.  Once he fell in the pond.  When we dragged him out he was almost unresponsive.  Some towels, a blow dryer and lots of hugs and kisses brought him what he was.  Despondant, but tail wagging happy at times.

This is when I made “the appointment”  The seizures were increasing again and he was eliminating almost all the time.  When you looked in his eyes, he wasn’t there, yet he would still wag is tail as a golden does.  So I go in and see the vet.  She looks him over, determines that he almost completely blind, and orders a $300 geriatric blood test.

When I mentioned I had been doing some reading and thought it might be a brain tumor, she whipped her head around towards me, gave me the most dirty look, and said “You’re not thinking of putting him down are you??”  My face turned red.  My immediate response was “No!  It’s just, he has all the symptoms”  She said she didn’t feel anything in his lymph nodes, so that wasn’t very possible.

Home I went, feeling ashamed of myself, and giving Logan all the love I could give.  Surely enough, things got worse.  He was having more than one seizure a day, was barking in the corners more, and was mostly despondant.  He still had those moments where he would wag his tail and and smile, but you know there was nobody home.  This continued for a few months.  I finally got up the nerve to make “the call” again, after speaking to several people.  When I called the vet clinic, I asked what vet was on duty.  It turned out to be her again.  I explained that I didn’t want to speak to her, and a brief explanation of why, only to be put on hold with the vet to come on the line.  I explained the situation to her.  She had Logan’s file with her and explained his thyroid count was a little low, and that maybe that was causing the promlem, and that I should put him on this certain medication.  I explained to her that I was familiar with thyroid disorder and didn’t think this would solve the problem.  She assured me this would help and I was tired of arguing, so told her I would pick up the perscription later that day.  I have not been back since.

A few more weeks of coddling, sobbing, hugging and consoling.  And cleaning up messes.  The smell after a seizure is one only to be recognized by someone who has experienced it.  One morning, Logan wouldn’t get up from the driveway.  My parents and I had the talk.  We knew.  My mom was brave enough to call another vet clinic and explain the situation.  We made the appointment for 4:30.  My daughters were away at the cottage, but knew by his state when they left that he may not be there when they returned.

We spent the afternoon sitting with him, laying with him, and trying to rouse him and give him whatever special treats he wanted.  He didn’t lift his head.  When the time came, we lifted him together, layed a comforter beneath him, and carried him to the back of the van.  I sat with him. Again, he didn’t lift his head.  We waited at least 20 minutes in the waiting room at the new vet.  We had to discuss options of disposal, etc.  It was hard.  Again, dogs and cats coming and going, Logan didn’t lift his head.  People looked at us with that “knowing” look.  I guess they could read the looks on our faces as well.

When it was finally time, we had to carry him on his comforter hammock again.  The vet spoke with a very foreign accent, and was hard to understand, but it was evident he had a hard time finding a vein.  He explained that the dog was full of cancer, and his veins were totally collapsed. I understand he cant make a definate diagnosis from just that, but we also knew.  He tried to bite us when the vet tried to find a vein.  It was a very horrible experience.  Eventually they muzzled him.  My parents were with me at the time.  When they injected the big blue tube into his front leg, we held him tight and sobbed.  It took a long time.  He seemed to be fighting.  That bothers me to this day.

When it was over we left.  Everything had changed.

I continued to receive a $40 vet bill from the original vet for phenobarbitol.    I refused to pay the bill.  Not only was I a single parent financially struggling,  I was bitter.  The last bill I received was in Dec 2011.  They would be going to collections.  I still haven’t paid this bill.  I never will.  I have never stolen, and always paid my way in life.  I don’t feel shame.  I am taking a stand for all the proactive pet owners, and against all the veterinarians who don’t understand.  It was time…..It was time.  Right?