Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blood Sample Shipped

Thyroid problems seem to be more an more common among dogs these days. I have read about quite a few Shiba Inus that have hypothyroidism, and a few also showed symptoms of itchiness. I seriously thought about the possibility many times that maybe Maya also have thyroid disorders, but somehow always dismissed the idea. Our past few vets have never brought it up as well. 

During our first appointment with Dr. M, she noticed a few symptoms that could be related to thyroid issues and wanted us to get a blood test done. If it really is hypothyroidism, it could be an easy fix with one pill. If not, at least we can rule it out. Though most vets can run the test, she suggested us to send the blood sample to Hemopet, which is also recommended by many forum members, since they have a much more complete and breed specific database. 

Because Dr. M only does house visits and she doesn't have the equipment, we had to go back to our regular vet to get the blood drawn. Unfortunately, it's been over a year since our last visit, so we had to go in for a formal office visit. After 10+ minutes of not-that-useful chat with the doctor, he agreed to help draw the blood. The good news is that they didn't charge me anything extra. As always, Maya took it with a stride and I was off with two small vials of blood/serum after a short wait. Even though the receptionist told us before the appointment that they will package the samples for me, they only provided a small box and an ice pack. I had to do some DIY packaging on my own.

At the FedEx store, the guy was shocked when I told him I'm shipping dog blood. It took him a while and a few phone calls to make sure it's something they can accept. However, it was my turn to be surprised when he quoted me $59 for over-night shipping. After some debate, I opted for the $9 2-day shipping instead. Fingers crossed that Maya's precious blood will arrive safely at Hemopet tomorrow.

[Edit 5/1/2013 10:40] Just got an email from Hemopet. Looks like the samples have arrived with no problems.

Whole blood and serum samples

Wrapped in bubble wrap

Printed forms and blood sample in a ziploc bag

Added an ice pack

Wrapped in a towel and in another ziploc bag

Tucked in a box

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Treatments

Maya's itchiness has been getting worse over the past month as the weather got warmer. We've decided to stop going to the previous doctor, because 1) he kept trying to sell us stuff, 2) he's been asking us to go through Maya's history every time we visit, which doesn't feel good when being charged by the time spent, and 3) he turns my ideas into his suggestions. I just felt like not trusting him and there isn't much he can offer anymore.

Black eye and hot spots showing up again

Over the winter, I was looking into a new treatment call NAET and found a local vet, Dr. M who provides this treatment. Unfortunately, she only does house visits and we are out of her service zone. We exchanged a few emails and she kindly gave me suggestions even without seeing us our charging us. A few weeks ago, just when the itchiness got worse, a friend moved out of his apartment and agreed to let us use his empty house for an appointment. To my surprise, Dr. M spent a good amount of time reading through my blog before her first visit. This not only saved me a lot time going though Maya's history, it also gave me a good first impression. No matter the treatments work or not, at least she shows that she cares and not just in for the money.

Waiting in an empty apartment

During the first appointment, we spent some time talking about Maya's conditions and the treatments we've tried. Like the previous doctor, Dr. M also thinks that Maya has blood deficiency and some inner wind imbalance. She agrees that the Dang Gui Yin Zi (當歸飲子) we are currently giving Maya is good, but we should also add in more Si Wu Tang (四物湯). She also suggested to get Maya's thyroid checked, just to rule out the possibilities of hypothyroidism, since some of the symptoms are similar. (More on this topic later in a different post.)

After all the talking, we got started with the NAET treatment. NAET (for humans) in short, is to put little bottles of allergen against the body and check if the body gets weak, which means the body thinks the allergen is something hostile. Then the doctor will do some massage while the patient holds the bottles to let the body accept the allergens. Well, up to this point, it's weird but kind of makes sense. However, when it's applied to a dog, it feels even more like voodoo...

To test whether the allergens weaken Maya, I would put one hand on Maya and another on the doctor while she touches the bottles and pushes her own fingers backwards to test the strength. Once she found the ones that may be problematic, she would put the bottles against Maya's body and massage me while I touch Maya. It would have made a lot more sense if the massage was done on Maya instead of me, right? Anyways, the allergens found are Parasitic Worms, Gallbladder, Program, and Mammary. The doctor said it's not important what they are, since they were all "cleared". None of the food, pollen, grass, or dust related allergens showed up.

Allergens that "weaken" Maya

Another treatment we tried is acupuncture for balancing Maya's "Qi". Maya was a chap and didn't even wink when she got poked by 7 needles. She also stood still for a good 10 minutes while we waited. After the treatment, she was really sleepy and dozed off right by the doctor's feet. She spent rest of the day sleeping as well.


A week after the first appointment, we met the doctor for the second time. Since my friend's apartment is no longer available, we met in a parking lot and had the treatments done in the trunk of my hatchback. So far it's been a week after the second visit, and we haven't seen much improvements yet. As for the cost, the first visit was $175 for 1.5 hours and the follow-up was $85 for half an hour. No, it's not cheap. Though I do have some doubts, I'm willing to have a few more visits. I really wish we can see some results or find some answers with her up-coming blood tests.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trip to Taiwan and Maya's Stay with Caspian

My schedule had been crazy in the past few weeks with work. However, with all the craziness, we managed to squeeze in a trip back to Taiwan to attend my sister's wedding. The wedding was lovely and I'm so happy for her. If only the relatives can stop asking when's our turn...

Congratulations to my dear sister!

During our trip, Maya stayed with her doggy friend Caspian. Many thanks to Caspian's owners who took great care of her as her allergies started to act up. They also kept us posted with lots of pictures throughout the week. That sure made it a lot easier for us.

On our flight back to the US, we brought back some rescued dogs with us again. We thought nothing will surprise us after our last trip with 13 dogs, but we were so wrong. This time we brought back 22 dogs (16 crates). Besides almost doubling the amount, the dogs came from two different organizations that apparently hate each other. It was never my intention to mix two groups of people, but the 2nd group learned about my trip and asked for help, so I thought "why not?". They are all dog lovers after all, right? Oh well, I am still impressed by their devotion, but it does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. WHY CAN'T PEOPLE JUST GET ALONG!?

Aside from the mumbling from both groups, the check-in was quite smooth. We flew with China Airlines this time, since the pet transportation fee is much cheaper than Eva, but the seats were much smaller for the humans. After a long flight, the real challenge came when we had to deal with the porters at the airport. Maya's daddy kindly offered to pay for the tips this time, so with the limited amount of cash on us, we knew we had to be tough. After lots of bargaining and us almost rolling out the crates on our own, we finally agreed on a number. It is just ridiculous how they try to ripoff passengers since we don't have any other options. (No, we weren't being stingy, they still got a very generous tip. Much more than they deserve.)

Once we got out to the airport lobby, it was a bit chaotic. We were a bit late compare to last time, so all the adopt families had already arrived and were eager to meet there new members. It was great to see all the happy faces, especially on the children that came along, so despite the few unpleasantness, it's still a very rewarding experience. Something I'll definitely do again.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monthly Expenses: March 2013

March 2013
  • Treats & Chews: $9 

Treats & Chews

I was close to have a month without spending a single dollar on Maya, but failed when I saw the $14 deal for two packs of "Zuke's Lil' Links Treats" on doggyloot, and then getting a $5 coupon the next day. Maya kindly shared a pack of her treats with her doggy friend Caspian during her stay at his house.