Thursday, June 28, 2012

Message From My Dad

I got an email from my Dad after he saw my post about Maya's conditions:
"With the same effort, you could have raised several easy-going babies like you and your sister. I almost have cured my itchy and dry eye problem by steaming. Therefore, try to put Maya in a wok, and cook her. Good luck. -- Dad"

It inspired me to take out our humidifier and kept it on throughout the day. So far, it does seem to make her less itchy.

As for the baby comment... Come on Dad, it's easy for YOU, because Mom did all the hard work!

By the way, I finally got a chance to put together the LEGO "backhoe loader" I bought for my boyfriend last Christmas. Maya lost interest after realizing those colorful little pieces aren't treats for her.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Don't Wanna Go Home

Whenever we are done with our daily walks and are leaving the park, Maya would often pull some "I don't want to go home" stunt on me. When she's a puppy, she would jump up and bite on her leash. Sometimes she would do her zoomies and run around me in circles. It usually ends shortly if I ignore her and just keep walking. 

Recently, she found a more effective method, and would just refuse to walk when we are at the park entrence. Even though she's only 20 pounds, it's really hard to move forward when she's determined to stay. I don't want to drag her or yank on the leash, because it could injure her neck. My solution is to pick her up in a rather uncomfortable way (don't want her to enjoy being carried), walk a few steps forward, and put her back down. Somehow once she's out of that particular spot, she would start walking again.

She would also point her tail down and make herself look like the most mistreated dog in the world...

I saw this picture before I got Maya and thought it was really funny. Now I know it's for real!

On a similar note, a few days ago, we were going through this daily ritual in front of a fancy building. When Maya finally started walking again, a lady came out of the building and told me "not to stop in front of their building in the future". I was like "WTF!? I don't think I need your permission to stop wherever I want!" She went on and on about how "I don't pee in front of your house, so don't pee in front of mine...", then I finally understood that she thought Maya was peeing on the pillars. After explaining what Maya was doing, she apologized and told me many dogs come potty in front of the building and she's the one who has to do all the clean up. Anyways, while I was scolded by a stranger, what was Maya doing? Wagging, begging, jumping, and doing whatever she can to draw the lady's attention. So that's how you protect your owner, huh!? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


It's been a while since my last update, cause I was somewhat too frustrated to put my thoughts into words...

About a week ago, we took Maya to the vet again for a followup. This time we met with Dr. A, who's the owner of the clinic and an expert in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Before the appointment, I made a long list of foods we fed and things we tried, just so I could be more efficient at going through Maya's history. He thinks the diet is clean, healthy and balanced. Maya's weight, bones, teeth, joints, ears, tongue all seemed perfect. Her fur and paw pads are a bit dry, but not out of the norm. After checking everything, I can tell from the doctor's body language, he's out of ideas as well.

According to Dr. A, he believe Maya's suffering from blood deficiency (血虛) and yin deficiency (陰虛). Here's some explanation from the doctor's handout:
Blood Deficiency: In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dry skin/feet. itchy coat, dandruff, and scratching is a result of Blood Deficiency. The Blood acts an a moisturizer and lubricant, and helps to subdue Wind (pathogen that manifest as itching, scratching, shaking, trembling, seizures, etc). Blood deficiency can also cause poor stamina, fearful behavior, night time anxiety, and dry tendons/ligaments which predisposes to acute soft tissue athletic injuries. 
Yin Deficiency: Your pet is running hot if, 1) panting with minmal effort, 2) excess drinking/urination, always thirsty, 3) seeking cool places to rest/digging holes to lay in the backyard, 4) heat intolerant, 5) dislike small confined areas like cars, 6) excess shedding.
Because we were down to our last Atopica pill, we also had to decide whether to purchase another refill. After discussing with the doctor, we agreed to stop using it for now, as it hasn't been as effective, and give her Claritin daily instead. 

Dr. A also prescribed some Chinese medicine, called "Si Wu Tang (四物湯)". I couldn't understand the doctor's Chinese (he's a Caucasian), so had no idea what he was trying to give me and was quite surprised when the tech handed me the bottle. Si Wu Tang means "Four Substance Decoction" in English. It is a common supplement used for regulating menstrual cycle, and probably almost every woman in Taiwan had taken it at some point. I was also surprised by the price tag, but both shocked and relieved to find the exact same thing online for one-third of the price. I do want to believe that the vet wasn't trying to rip us off, but had to charged us so much because it's not that easy to find and they can't just stock up as not that many pets would need it. Anyways, if we do need to keep her on it, at least I can get it online. I can probably get it even cheaper from Taiwan or just purchase the herbs directly from a Chinese herb shop.

The 4 ingredients in Si Wu Tang (四物湯)

Since we got back from the vet visit, we stopped the Atopica and started on Si Wu Tang and Claritin as advised. The frist few days were terrible. Maya was constantly scratching and there was no way to stop her. Fortunately, it got a bit better in the past few days, maybe it's the Si Wu Tang, the Claritin, or the weather. I just don't know. It's still far from ideal and probably just the same as when she's on Atopica. On the bright side, at least her poop is firmer (was really mushy because of the meds), and she had no problem eating up the herbs (even licking the bowl clean). I also found a new lip balm that seems to give her some relief and last for a while.

Applying some lip balm seems to help a bit

I guess I've been so frustrated, not really because I'm not seeing any immediate improvements, but that it feels like we are trying yet more random things that we hope would work. Maybe my expectations were just too high. I was hoping the doctor would say something like "I've seen many dogs with this problem, and they all got better by doing X, Y, and Z", or like "No wonder she's sick. You shouldn't feed her A and B, but give her C and D instead". I'm just so tired of "let's try this and that and come back in four weeks to see if it's better". It's like a black-hole, sucking up my patience, time and money.

It's sad that I waited a whole winter for warmer weather and longer day time, but now I just wish summer ends soon. Maybe I should just give myself a break and stop being so fixated on the idea of "fixing" her. Maybe I should focus more on the good things, like her sweetness and great temperament, instead of just noticing the wounds on her face. Maybe.

Monday, June 11, 2012


We met Macho yesterday at Fort Funston when we were cleaning up Maya after another off-leash beach run. We noticed her because she was roaming around the parking lot cluelessly, which was kind of dangerous, as cars come and go quite frequently.

I asked the few people around us whether she belongs to them, but everyone said no, so apparently she was lost. She was a bit skittish when I approached her, but sat nicely and let me leash her up after I pulled out a treat. Luckily, there was a phone number on her collar, and we were able to reach her owner in no time. According to the owner, who was searching for her down at the beach when we called, Macho went into the bushes to pee, but somehow never came back out. We waited for about 10 minutes at the park entrence and Macho was happily reunited with her owner.

Maya's daddy and I are usually not that enthusiastic about being a "hero", mainly because all the horror stories we heard about people being sued after helping others in Taiwan. I still have a bit more faith in humanity and told him before he could stop me that "if someday Maya gets lost, I wish someone would take the time and give me a call." Anyways, it wasn't really anything heroic nor dramatic, I just want to write about it since this was the first lost dog I helped find her way home.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Holistic Vet Visit

Since Maya's itchiness has still been bad, I made up my mind to take her to the vet again. However, I decided not to go back to the dermatologist anymore, because I don't really trust her. It seems to me, she just wants to shove more drugs into Maya and keeps requiring us to go back for those not-that-helpful rechecks whenever we need a refill. She's also against raw feeding, which makes our discussions somewhat difficult, since food is also an essential part of allergy treatments. 

This time around, I want to find a holistic vet who also supports raw feeding. After lots of googling and yelping, I found one in Pacifica, but unfortunately they are not taking new patients till the end of fall. I did ask them for some referrals and got a list of other holistic vets around the area. I ended up picking one in San Francisco, which also has good reviews and practices both western and eastern medicine.

Today, we took the drive into the city. I rarely go into San Francisco due to the bad traffic and limited parking. Luckily, it all went smoothly in the early afternoon. Maya was whining out of excitement as soon as I parked the car. She knew we are going someplace "fun"! I'm really glad she enjoys vet visits and has no problem being handled by anyone, or else it'll just make things even more painful.

Silly girl jumping up as soon as the car stopped

During the visit, we spent most of our timing going through Maya's past treatments. I also told the doctor what I've been trying on my own and she sure was impressed. It's really nice to have someone appreciate the efforts I put in instead of being bashed or ignored. She told me that she was suffering from allergies since a kid herself and was badly "damaged" due to all the drugs. It got worse year after year till she gone through some holistic treatments and this is the why she picked this carear. This story sure made whatever she said later more convincing. She also agreed with me that giving Maya Atopica is not a long term solution. 

Checking out the exam room

According to the doctor, dry itchy skin is caused by "Blood Deficiency" and the body is too "hot". We should focus on feeding her "cooling" foods which includes:
  • Raw meat: white fish, duck, rabbit, turkey, pork
  • Raw fruit: apples, pears, melons, berries
  • Cooked vegetables: summer squash, carrots, green beans, peas
  • Supplements: omega-3 fatty acides, vitamin E, vitamin C, aloe vera

The doctor went out a few times to check with another vet, who is the chief clinician and seems to be the guru of diet and Traditional Chinese Medicine. They ended up prescribing a supplement called "Standard Process Canine Dermal Support" for Maya and asked us to come back again in two weeks to meet with the chief. They also wanted me to switch to Nordic Naturals fish oil instead of what I was feeding. I did hear about how great Nordic Naturals is before, but was set back by the price. Since we're about to empty the old bottle of fish oil, I went with it to give it a try.

Waiting for the doctor

To be honest, I wasn't so sure about this visit, especially after being sold two types of supplements, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and come back again to see what the chief has to offer. After all, the bill was less than any of our previous dermatologist visit and there hasn't been any antibiotics or steroids involved. For the time being, I'll make some adjustments to her diet to include more of the cooling foods, as well as start her on the new supplements.

Let's see if it works this time

Sunday, June 3, 2012

22nd Annual Shiba Party

Yesterday, we went to the annual Shiba Party held by the Shiba Inu Fanciers of Northern California. The weather was great and so many people (and Shibas) showed up. 

The park packed with Shibas and their humans

Maya's breeder was one of the event's organizer. It was great to meet her again as well as seeing Maya's sister from the same litter, Geisha. Geisha is now a show dog, working towards her champion title, and will be bred soon. 

According to the breeder, they are able to check for the long-coat gene through a blood test now. Geisha tested positive, but as long as the male Shiba doesn't carry the gene, they can make sure not to produce any long-coat off-springs. That's kind of sad. Though long-coat is a serious fault in the show ring, Maya has been a beautiful "accident" for us. We were even joking about getting a second long-coat Shiba. I guess it'll be really really hard to find when we are ready for another dog.

Maya and her sister, Geisha

Maya and her LC cousin, Michi

Maya's long-coat cousin, Michi, who we meet regularly at our local meetup, also showed up but left early. Maya ended up to be the only "weird looking" Shiba at the party. If we get a dollar each time we hear "Is she a Shiba mix?", "Can I take a picture of your dog?", or "I've never seen a long-coat Shiba before!", we can probably afford the new camera we've been longing for!

Maya was a good girl and posed for many photos through the day. If only she weren't bothered by the allergies, she would have looked even prettier.

Maya posing for many photos

Long coat against the wind

Most Shibas at the party behaved really well. There were some growling and barking, but it's not uncommon for the breed, so no one made a big deal. Ah, I so want a second dog after going to this type of events...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Monthly Expenses: May 2012

May 2012
  • Food: $13
  • Supplements: $6
  • Travel: $27
  • Grooming: $45
  • Accessories: $23
TOTAL: $114
YTD TOTAL: $4,899


We got some raw fish and turkey necks.


Got a bottle of Freeze Dried Nettle.


This month we added this new category for the expenses that occur when Maya travels with us (as oppose to "Daycare & Boarding" for when she can't come with us.) Since we try to take her with us wherever we go, it makes sense to track it separately.

We spent $27 hotel pet fee when we brought Maya to San Diego with us.


We spent $45 for 4 self service pet wash. Though we only use up one, I'm listing it here since we paid for all 4 together.


Maya's old collar was a kind of worn out, so we got a new leather collar.

Ashamed of spending so much money?