A New Website!

September 6th, 2015

My brother Dave Nelson is building me a new website!

Here is the address of the website-to-be:


I am so excited.

It will be sad for me to say goodbye to the Riley and James website.

I will keep it up though. You can still  visit here.

Dave has challenged me to post something EVERY DAY.

I love challenges that seem impossible, so I will probably try it.

Good things are in the works you guys! They always are :)

Happiness is a Blank Canvas

August 23rd, 2015

Luna Lovegood has been a blessing.


Luna Lovegood has been a pain in the butt.


She almost always potties outside! It has been a slow, slow tip from inside to outside.


She almost always plays with her teeth appropriately closed into her cute little undershot mouth. Abby taught her to “give nice kisses” when she goes into shark mode. She almost always remembers.


When someone in the house is sick or sad, she rushes to that person and instead of head butting like she might normally do when you are well and happy, she screaches to a stop right in front of you, collapses into a cuddle against you and gives nice kisses until you cannot help but feel better.

She is a great puppy.


She is also a great canvas.

We have a new rule, “Do not draw on Luna unless you ask Mom first.”

Here is all of the (approved) art (so far), well, the art that has been photographed!


Luna Lovegood as her Good Friend Harry Potter


Rainbow Puppy!



Waiting for Dad


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Amanda and Her Rainbow Hair

August 16th, 2015

Here is the promised post on Amanda and her rainbow hair!

This past summer, my good friend and the Finch family hairstylist, Janet Shulenberger of Running with Scissors was a very good sport and gave Amanda the rainbow hairstyle she wanted.

FIRST she made sure it was okay with Russ and me – it was.

Then she learned how to do it – it had not been requested before – weird!

Then she spent almost FOUR HOURS with Amanda making her hair amazing.

If you need a hairstylist, even for a “normal” trim or hairstyle, remember what Janet is capable of – I cannot recommend her highly enough!


Color Selection


Beautiful Before Picture


Clipping All the Curls Up


Clipping All the Curls Off!






Scotch Tape Stripes


The Haircut


Red Stripe


Orange Stripe


Yellow Stripe


Green Stripe




Pink Top








(Permission to give away all their secrets in this post was kindly granted by Janet AND Amanda!)

I have written a lot about my family, more so in recent years. When Amanda and Abby were younger, it felt safer to write about our pets, not our young children, so I was a bit overprotective. And this is a pet blog after all!

However, you know I love getting off topic as much as I love staying on topic!

Also, it feels as though this truth about our family is a truth being played out in society overall, and could use more discussion: My child is gay.

Amanda told us she was gay the summer before this.

I am so very proud of her.

I always have been proud. I could tell you a thousand things about Amanda that I knew before this.

This is the first thing about Amanda I thought may bring her judgement. And indeed it has.

Mostly though, the revealation of her homosexuality has brought her pride – from her friends, from her family, from her aquaintances two and three degrees out.

It has brought her a stronger sense of self.

It has brought her compassion, leadership opportunities, vision.

Watch this kid. Watch her sister. They are going places, and Russ and I could not be more proud of the women they are becoming.

All the latest things…

July 12th, 2015

Thank you all for the huge outpouring of support not just for my article about my depression, not just about my depression, but for me. It is scary to say “here is me at my worst.”

It is unbelievably affirming to have you say, “ok,” and sometimes, “me too.”

I know it is worth the box outstepping when you say, “thanks. I needed to hear that.” So thank you. You are incredible. Maybe it can be a conversation starter/continuer, not a one time dark piece before we get back to puppies and kittens.

The Other Side

on Dr. Roark’s website

(Thank you again Dr. Roark. Hope you don’t get tired of hearing that, because I am not done.)

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Not that we should not get back to puppies and kittens.


After I wrote about depression, I wrote about Tofu.

Part 1: Tofu the Baby Husky

Part 2: Tofu the Baby Husky Continues to Recover

Part 3: In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After

He is now too gangly to hold. (I love teenage dog stage even more than baby dog stage). He is as adorable and onery as ever, and has done a remarkably excellent job of choosing the best family out there :)

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We had a dog we love come into Gentle Doctor because her Mom and Dad – both of whom we also love dearly – had to go into hospice care. Her name is Angel, and she is an eleven year old Maltese.

I love the old dog stage even MORE than the adult dog and teenage dog and baby dog stages, though I truly love them all. Angel stayed with us a few weeks, and on her last day there, Jan and I let her have the run of the front office, kitchen and doctor office. She pulled the trash over with her little Maltese teeth FIVE times, and it was then that I fell even more in love with her than I already was.

Her new family has another rescued dog, and they are getting along very well. Here is my favorite picture of Angel, taken by Renee.


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My oldest daughter Amanda had her hair rainbowed.

That deserves a seperate post too, because I have not seen rainbowed hair as cool as hers on the entire internet, and I think it should be out there. Here’s one picture – I will post them all soon!


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Oh! The Open House! Gentle Doctor had an open house to celebrate the hospital’s 50th anniversary. Very fun. Dr. Bashara said most of the people there heard about the open house through Facebook, so that made me happy.

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Our newest family member Luna Lovegood continues to survive and thrive. At the open house, Dr. Krapfl watched her trot like an untrained foal across the entire parking lot. I turned back to him and said, “she’s healthy!” He said, “I see that,” and in what is not as rare an occurrence as you might think on first meeting him, he smiled a huge smile.

Having never had a white dog since we had Obie before the girls were born, I did not realize a friendly, agreeable white puppy in the hands of young artists is a blank canvas. Luna has (confusingly) been Harry Potter, and also Pride Puppy and Patriotic Puppy. Definately a future picture post, don’t you think?


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Also, the Nelson side of our family went to Round Lake Wisconsin for a week long vacation. Best week of the year.

Then cousins I do not get to see often and miss dearly came to visit – Rob and Mike, John and Joshua. I love you guys!

So there’s that. Sometimes a random post gets me writing again. Thanks for being here. I hope you are having a very good summer!

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July 10th, 2015

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Depression and me

July 8th, 2015

I wrote this for Dr. Roark about my journey with depression…

The Other Side

I meant to write a neat pet health article, and that was written instead.

“Sorry,” I said.

“I like it,” Dr. Roark said.

“Thanks,” I said.

I hope it helps some people. I think it has some already.

It sure helped me to be able to get it out. Thank you Friend.

In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After

May 15th, 2015

Part 1: Tofu the Baby Husky

Part 2: Tofu the Baby Husky Continues to Recover

Part 3: In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After


Those Ears!

Say a prayer for the foster families.

Foster families love with their whole hearts knowing if they do not adopt, they send their charge to their new home with a piece of their very own heart and their spirit imprinted on that little being, giving him or her the tools they will need to thrive, but at a very deep cost.

Worthwhile, but deep.

Tofu 2

Becky with Tofu

Say a prayer for Becky, the foster Mom of Tofu, who has loved with her whole heart and sent Tofu to his new home with a piece of her very own heart and her spirit imprinted on him, giving him the tools he will need to thrive.

And he is indeed thriving.

Would you like to see more pictures?

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Tofu with Becky’s Daughter, Hailey

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Tofu and his foster Mom Becky Christ and adoptive Mom Diana Nyffeler

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Tofu was finally able to come in for wellness care – like a normal puppy!

Please support the rescue group who saved Tofu’s life, Taysia Blue Husky and Malamute Rescue. We cannot say enough good things about this group!

In a neat small-world twist that often happens in the world of Pet Savers, the members of the family who adopted Tofu, Diana and Warren Nyffeler, are wonderful Taysia Blue Husky and Malamute Rescue volunteers, AND their other amazing dog Tay was also adopted from Taysia Blue Husky and Malamute Rescue!

I remember when Jackie Roach found Tay at the Nebraska Humane Society as a (literally) mangy, scrawny puppy and asked me if she should take a chance on him. YES. Always yes! Sometimes it is good to have friendships in which you do not balance each other – Jackie and I will always bet on the underdog – ha! And now Tay is a big, gorgeous dog (with fur!), and Tofu is his new baby brother. Yay! We could not ask for a better family for Tofu. Good puppies happen to good people.

On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, we started puppy vaccinations and discussed Tofu’s wellness care from here out, including finishing treatment for neospora and more acupuncture with Dr. Jones.

Tofu 101

Tofu was so happy to see all his friends again!

Tofu 100

He told Trey all about his new home!

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He is such a little entertainer!


Home with Mom


Tofu’s adoption was just finalized this week!


Completely, 100% Healthy with No Mobility Issues!

He is walking, running, playing and doing stairs – a normal puppy.

MORE Pictures…

Photos of Becky, her daugher Hailey and Tofu taken by Michael Roach of Michael Roach Photography


Tofu and his Forever Family – Diana and Warren Nyffeler and dog-brother Tay

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Tofu the Baby Husky Continues to Recover

April 29th, 2015


Tofu 12

I am not good at building up suspense, though it may seem that way because Tofu’s story now has two posts, which is actually because I could not wait to introduce you to him last week! Stay tuned for Part 3 (spoiler alert!), In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After.

So, neospora!

Tofu is doing wonderfully. He is happy and loved in his foster home with Gentle Doctor veterinary technician Becky. He is growing stronger every day.

Tofu 2

Is he in pain?

To watch him walk on his unsteady little front legs, it may appear that Tofu is in pain. In fact, on the very first day, we had Tofu on pretty strong pain medication and complete rest, not knowing if his front legs hurt or not. Now we know that his legs do not hurt, they just do not work quite right yet. YET! He is not painful, but he does have mobility issues that continue to improve with medicine, acupuncture, time and love.

Tofu and His Improving Gait!We received his neospora titers back from the laboratory – he is neospora positive!

I have NEVER (as far as I know!) seen a case of neosporosis.

I have NEVER suspected it.

Tofu has it, and he is recovering.


What is neospora?

Neospora is a parasite that causes abortion in cattle.

Warning – the next part is gross! Don’t you wish I always remembered to warn you??

If a dog eats a portion of an infected calf fetus or placenta or raw beef that is infected, he or she can become infected.

Neospora cysts lodge in the brain of the infected dog. Dogs can pass the parasite to cattle through their feces or to unborn pups in utero, but not otherwise directly to other dogs. Adult cattle do not become clinically ill from neospora and cannot pass it directly to other cattle, except to their unborn offspring.

Here is what we suspect happened to Tofu…His mother, living in a rural area of Nebraska, was exposed to neospora through contact with infected cattle. She may or may not be clinically affected. She passed the infection to Tofu, and most likely his littermates, before birth. Tofu did become sick, developing a head tremor and incoordination that made it impossible to eat or drink on his own and maybe even nurse, and also front limb weakness that progressed to complete inability to use his front legs.

We do not know how the other dogs in Tofu’s family are doing, but someone is checking on them.

The first night Tofu was in the care of Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals, we started him on clindamycin, an antibiotic that is often effective against neospora in dogs.




My Oldest Daughter Amanda and Tofu – Love at First Sight!

Ten days later, when Tofu was well on his way to recovery, we had our answer – YES he had been exposed to neospora in his young life. Everything fell into place, including the very scary seizure he had the night before the conformation of the cause of his illness.

He was home with Becky (thank goodness!) and had a generalized seizure. Seizures are NEVER good in puppies, and while they can be caused by very manageable things (like low blood sugar between meals), they can also be caused by some pretty ominous things. In Tofu’s case, his seizure was almost certainly from his neospora infection.

With this condition, signs, including gait abnormalities and seizures, can continue life-long. Space-occupying brain lesions are never good, even those that can be treated. However, because Tofu is making such amazing progress (and to be 100% honest, mostly because I have a good feeling about him), I completely expect him to make a full recovery. Which is good. Because we love him. And also because he will be BIG! If we can end up with a healthy, completely mobile huge dog, that would be ideal!

Are You a Good Puppy with Naughty Moments or a Naughty Puppy with Good Moments?


Remember last week when I said Tofu is naughty? He is not naughty! That was a direct reference to the one part of his story I could not yet bear to tell you because his other doctor, Dr. Jones, was still so completely mortified that it had happened.

I think that Dr. Jones has recovered, and I hope that she has remembered how very incredible she is, and that these things happen with puppies who eat everything…Neither of us can believe  it has not happened before in all of the years she has done acupuncture!

On the very first part of his very first acupuncture appointment, when he was being watched by two veterinary team members at all times, Tofu ATE A NEEDLE!

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He snuck a tiny needle right out of his tiny furry paw and laughed while everyone panicked. How fun! There were x-rays and endoscopy and updates to Jackie and around the clock poop watch. He was getting even more attention than ever! He did not think that was possible, but he loved it!

The next morning, without so much as a tummy ache, Tofu pooped out the needle, and we all went back to non-panic mode.

He is not a naughty pup as I claimed he was…he is a good pup with one split second, seemingly-naughty-to-us super-fun-to-him normal puppy behavior of what’s-this-I-will-eat-it-that-was-fun that every puppy has. Thank goodness, it all ended well!

Everyone loves Tofu!

THIS is what made me suspect that everyone loves Tofu…The response to his story has been overwhelming! That face! That recovery! I am so in love with him, as is everyone who meets him or hears about him.

THIS is what confirmed that everyone loves Tofu…Dad asked if he had a home yet. Dad! Even Dad loves him! I mean, of course he does. I got my animal loving ways from my awesome Mom and Dad. But Dad is used to thinking about stray kittens I bring home (who live 18 years)…and tiny, tiny Poodles…well, not so much tiny Poodles, as the one and only amazing Ernie Dog. It’s been DECADES since Mom and Dad thought about a dog as big as a Basset…or bigger!

DOES Tofu have a home?

Tofu has LOTS of adoption offers! He has a foster home right now.

You all have been amazing in your outpouring of support to Taysia Blue Husky & Malamute Rescue and Tofu. Please continue to support this awesome rescue group!

Can you foster?

Can you adopt an adult Husky or Malamute?

Can you support the rescuers?

It is an emotionally and physically and financially exhausting deal to be involved in rescue. “How can I help?” is sometimes the most beautiful thing a rescuer hears.

You are an amazing group of Pet Savers. I have loved to see that shine through in this situation almost as much as I have loved holding this little puppy!

I do not know if Tofu has a forever home yet. Taysia Blue Husky & Malamute Rescue will continue to have up-to-date information on Tofu and his adoption status. And when you call or email, remember to ask, “How can I help?”

Tofu 13

Tofu with Gentle Doctor Receptionist Amanda, One of His BFFs!

And if you adopt Tofu, have mercy on us, his veterinary team! We are 100% completely and totally in love with him, and could not bear it if we did not hear once in a while how wonderfully he is doing! I have seen him ONCE this week, and it is breaking my heart! But also, my heart is soaring, knowing he is in an incredible, loving network of capable hands and on the way to a wonderful future. <3

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Love you, kiddo.


Tofu the Baby Husky

April 24th, 2015

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Tofu, 7 Week Old Husky Puppy, photo by Becky

Last Friday, April 17, 2015, the Gentle Doctor team waited anxiously for Jackie Roach of Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue. 

Someone had bought a husky puppy off Craig’s List, saw that he was very sick and relinguished him to the rescue group.

When Jackie arrived, Becky and I rushed in to see her and meet baby Tofu, who had been named in a vote of rescue supporters while Jackie was on the way to Gentle Doctor with him.

He was the sweetest, scrawniest, thinnest little thing we had ever seen. Jackie set him on the floor to show Becky how compromised he was, and he collaped front feet first and was unable to rise. Jackie later told us that on the ride to the hospital, she was unsure he would arrive alive.

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Tofu When He Was Rescued, photo by Jackie

Oh dear. We were, once again, totally, completely 100% in love with a pet with a questionable medical future whom we had met moments before.

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Tofu, Starting Treatment at Gentle Doctor, photo by Becky

Tofu had no ability to use his front legs. He was unable to stand, even just on his hind legs. He had a head tremor and did not have the ability to eat or drink on his own or stand to potty. Apparently, no one had noticed in a very long time, and he was emaciated, dehydrated and filthy.

We were going to do the opposite of not notice and, as far as it depended on us, bring him back to the healthy, happy seven week old puppy he should have been.

Tofu 2

Tofu with Becky

Fearing abuse, we x-rayed all of Tofu’s long bones, his chest and his abdomen. No broken bones! We were estatic! But perplexed. Why could he not walk? What was causing the head tremors?

Never mind that now! He had pottied on himself and was howling in frustration because he wanted to stand and could not.


Becky and Renee bathed him, and we learned he is a stunning, gorgeous, bright white puppy with brilliant blue eyes, the deepest blue eyes I have ever seen – and I have seen a lot of huskies and Siamese cats!

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Baby Blue Eyes! Photo by Shonda

For the rest of the afternoon, we held him as much as we could, and when we could not, surrounded him with pillows and blankets so he could comfortably rest.


Creating an 80 Pound Lap Dog!

You are welcome, future adoptive family!

The pain medication we had given him fearing trauma made him sleepy, which was ideal for that first night in the hospital. On IV fluids and with a tummy full of hand fed puppy food, he cuddled up to his pillow and fell fast asleep.

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Amanda met him. Jordan met him. That night my husband Russ and my daughter Abby met him.

We were recklessly breaking hearts left and right, and we were okay with it. So was everyone who was charging in with us for a chance to fall in love with Tofu and get a broken heart too.

Russ, Abby and I spent that evening with him. He had…become in need of another bath…and had a hungry puppy tummy again. He wanted desperately to play, so Abby held him in such a way he could play almost like a normal puppy. When he fell over, finally exhausted, she snuggled him for a bit and gently placed him back in his bed.

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My Daughter Abby with Tofu

Friday night, I talked with Russ on the way home. I could not wrap my head around Tofu’s symptoms. Russ was confident I would figure this out, but I had never seen anything like it. What would make him non-ambulatory? What would cause his head tremor? He seemed in every other way like a normal puppy. He was alert and sweet and wanted so badly to walk and eat on his own.

I looked up “head tremors” “non-ambulatory” “front limbs” on VIN – Veterinary Information Network. Thank goodness for the HUGE group of specialists and general practioners smarter than I! And thank goodness for the Veterinary Information Network team for having the wisdom to organize and catalog all of that smart!

The differential diagnosis that came up most often was neospora, a parasite that causes abortion in cattle and neurological disease in dogs. Weird! I remember the parasite from vet school, but had never suspected or diagnosed it before.

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Saturday was a crazy busy (good crazy busy) day, so Becky, Shonda, Jan, Renee and I made sure to schedule in important things (blood work analysis – anemia and low protein levels, fecal test – roundworms! parvo test – negative!) and very important things (holding the puppy, feeding the puppy, loving the puppy, photographing the puppy, updating Jackie!) and sent in a neospora titer test. Thank you to Angie for “creating” a lab form for it – apparrently I was not the only one who has never needed to test for it before!

It’s a long shot, but if this is the diagnosis, it is very treatable. We started treatment just in case.

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Tofu with a Teddy Bear and Homemade Pillow from Abby

I asked Jen who was on kennel duty and on call over the weekend. Every weekend, there is a team to take care of the boarding cats and dogs and a doctor on call in case one of the boarders needs medical care. Shonda and Renee were on for the weekend – the best possible case! I offered to help or do all of the care for Tofu, and they said NO – they were all in on taking on the tiny puppy and his special needs for the weekend. I went home exhausted, relieved and so very happy he was in wonderful, loving hands.



The weekend went by. I practically taped my fingers together so I would not harass Shonda and Renee about updates, and even so I got this from Renee…

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And that from Renee…

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And then while shopping at Target with Russ and Amanda and Abby, I got this from Shonda, and I sat down in the lawn department and cried.

Video of Tofu’s First Steps!

TOFU WAS WALKING! He took his first steps, and Shonda got it on video!



That was the  moment I knew for sure he was going to survive and thrive.


Jackie and Mike Roach of Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue Visiting


Becky’s Daughter Hailey Disguises Physical Therapy as Play!

Jackie was allowing us to keep him for the following week. He still needed help eating and drinking, and would often tip forward into his water dish when he tried to take a drink. The foster network of Taysia Blue is amazing – the best of the best – but we did not want a little high maintenence potential water bowl drowner on their hands if we could help it.

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Tofu with Dr. Bashara

Every day he walked a little farther and a little better.

His progress was so slow that I had to ask vet tech Trey if he was actually getting better every day or if I was just seeing what I wanted to see. “He is getting better every day,” he said.

Dr. Stephanie Jones offered to do acupuncture on Tofu to help him with his mobility. Acupuncture started Wednesday (two days ago) and continued yesterday and today.


Acupuncture Therapy with Trey and Dr. Jones


Laser Therapy with Trey and Dr. Jones

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Thank You Dr. Jones!

Ashley and Renee were his “puppy railroad” out to the 153rd location and back every day. The team at the 153rd location fell as hard for Tofu as we all had.


Mary with Tofu

He walked and walked after his first acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jones! I could not believe the difference!



Becky and I played with him for an hour over lunch right after his first acupuncture appointment, and just enjoyed watching him walk around like a newborn horse. Ok, not like a puppy yet, but that is coming!


Tofu with Shonda

Now he is in the loving hands of the Gentle Doctor team at 89th and 153rd and 89th again and I am at home writing his story. Dr. Thomassen is directing his care for the end of the week – He could not be in better hands. Becky is going to be his foster Mom – He could not be in better hands.


Tofu with Jan

Sometimes I look back on a case and think, “Was the potential heartbreak worth the joy now?” First of all, that is a stupid question. We do not have a choice. Second of all, it is much too early to “look back.” Tofu is in the middle of struggling to learn to walk and recover from a still unconfirmed cause of his many severe issues. Third of all, YES. 100% absolutely YES.

Were I to go back to a week before today and decide (had we a choice) knowing what we know now (not much  more than we knew then) I – we – would charge in for a potential broken heart just as swiftly as a rescuer charging in to rush a dirty, neglected broken puppy to a vet hospital.

Tofu, thank you for not breaking our hearts. Thank you for blessing us and filling us with joy as only a beautiful, sweet, goofy, naughty lovable fluffy puppy can. We love you so very much.

To learn more about Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue, click HERE.

To be continued…


Tofu with Whitney’s Daughter, Harper



Luna Elizabeth Lovegood Finch

April 17th, 2015

Meet our newest family member, Luna Elizabeth Lovegood Finch!


Luna and Her Shaved Tummy with Abby

Luna was rescued by the Nebraska Humane Society from a home with an adult West Highland White Terrier and adult Chihuahua and several litters of puppies of different ages.

She was adopted out to a family and soon became very ill with what was most likely hepatic encephalopathy – a condition in which the liver is not clearing toxins well and the toxins cause illness that can be life-threatening. She was treated at Animal Emergency Clinic, where they discovered her liver issue and saved her life with their medical care.

Because of her probable poor long term prognosis, she was relinguished back to Nebraska Humane Society with the agreement that if she had a correctable or treatable condition, the Nebraska Humane Society would finance and direct her treatment and readopt her to the same family that first adopted her.

Often when Nebraska Humane Society has a complex medical or surgical case, Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals is brought in to help. I am SO proud of that, although all I have really done is be smart enough to work for Dr. Bashara!

Luna was one of these special cases. She had sky-high liver values and bile acid values (a measure of liver function). The veterinarian who saw her with her first family worked with them and together they contributed to her becoming stabilized and surviving her medical crisis.

She came to Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals to be assessed and to have an ultrasound with Dr. Krapfl. When liver values are so far out of balance in a young, small breed puppy, what we suspect most highly is a liver shunt. A shunt was not found, and it was sadly determined that she most likely had a condition that could not be surgically fixed. The original adoptive family and the Nebraska Humane Society medical team, in an effort to spare the children of the family heartbreak and the puppy suffering, wisely decided to have the puppy euthanized.

I had done the puppy’s initial intake and medical care, and knowing at the time she had a family to be readopted to and a suspected surgically correctable condition, I figured it was “safe” to let my daughters meet the puppy, and we spent an hour playing with her that first night.

The next day, the day of the puppy’s ultrasound, was my day off.

I recieved medical updates and the final decision to have the puppy euthanized in a series of several emails from Dr. Bashara and the doctors at Nebraska Humane Society, all of which came at once in the late afternoon.

I sat on the bed and bawled.

Russ came to check on me, and I may have yelled something like, “I take one day off and puppies DIE!” Probably suspecting this was not a complete or even an accurate statement, Russ sat down on the bed next to me and gently took my phone out of my hand.

He looked up after reading through all of the emails and said, “Couldn’t we take her?”

Still in complete despair mode, I said “She’s probably DEAD!”

I called Jan. Of course she was not dead. Dr. Thomassen said she would not euthanize the puppy unless she knew it was an absolute 100% decision agreed upon by everyone. And she thought maybe Milo would like a friend…Dr. Bashara and Dr. Krapfl were getting ready to call me. I would guess they did not want to get the full on emotional collapse that Russ had to deal with, sadly, not for the first time. (Sorry, Russ!)

So guess what?

We accidentally adopted a puppy!


Luna Meeting Mom and Dad Nelson

I talked with the Mom of the first adoptive family to make sure that was okay with her. It was. I talked with Jared and Dr. Horn and Dr. Farrington of Nebraska Humane Society, and they were thrilled at such a happier outcome. I talked with Dr. Bashara and Dr. Krapfl. They – I gather – thought I was a little nuts to adopt a broken puppy, but I think they understood. We are vets. It is what we do.


Luna with My Friend Jordan and Her Dog Sandy

I talked with my daughters. Other than the pup herself, Amanda and Abby were the ones I most of all did not want to be hurt. Adopting a puppy with an unspecified liver disorder is one of the best ways that I can imagine to ensure heartbreak. I told them we were adopting a puppy we knew was sick. I said that I did not know what was wrong yet, but her lifespan may be shorter than other dogs, possibly much shorter. They had already fallen as hard as Russ and I had, and there was no doubt in their minds that this puppy was meant to be a Finch.

I wanted to name her something like Grace or Hope (because we have Joy!) or a food name to go with Noodle. The girls were not having it. They wanted to name her after some You Tube star whose name I could neither pronounce nor remember. On the way home with the puppy in my lap, I said to Russ, “She’s blond.”


“She’s really sweet.”


“She’s pretty spacy.” (To her credit, she was still recovering from a very severe case of hepatic encephalopathy, and has since proved much sharper than when we first met.)

I got out of the truck in our front yard with our new puppy in my arms and said to the girls waiting on the lawn, “Let’s name her Luna Lovegood.”

Finch - Luna LovegoodOne of My (Our) Very Favorite Harry Potter Characters

They both cheered, and we had our name.

Dr. Byers of Midwest Veterinary Specialists helped me through those first overwhelming weeks of feeding her. (How do you feed a growing puppy with liver issues the right amount of protein, not to mention every other nutrient, micronutrient and vitamin in balance?? You ask Dr. Byers!), medicating her and planning the next steps of her medical plan.

At Dr. Byer’s direction, we had her Protein C level tested. (Should I have known dogs have a protein C? Yes! Did I? No!) Results confirmed that Luna most likely did not have a shunt – good news! But…what was making her liver values so high and what had made her so sick? We still planned on a CT Scan with Dr. Byers and probable liver biopsy surgery with Dr. Thoesen.

Meanwhile, she had recovered beautifully, and no longer had signs of illness.


Soon After We Adopted Luna, Jordan Adopted Mustique, and They Are Great Friends!


Luna and Mustique – They Truely Were Playing!

Our next step of diagnostics was a simple liver blood panel. After that we would rerun bile acids then have her seen by the specialists.


The liver blood panel came back completely normal!! Normal! We all celebrated and decided together that our next step would be…nothing. Or benign neglect if you prefer. I think that sounds worse, so I will say we did nothing.

We weaned Luna off her medications. We transitioned her to completely puppy food.


The Green Spot Got Us Set Up for Everything Puppy – Thank You Green Spot Team!


We Love This Store and Everything the People of Green Spot Do for the Pets of Omaha!!

And now the veterinarian me gets to ponder what in the world happened. Here are my two guesses…

1) Knowing Luna now, it is highly probable that she ingested something she should not have, causing her extreme illness and liver issues.

2) Knowing the very first place she lived – the home from which the Nebraska Humane Society team rescued her – had more dogs and puppies than fit well in the space and that she was most likely NOT potty trained even a little, it is also probable she ingested some urine at some point in her young life.

So my two top differentials (guesses) are 1) a liver toxin from which she has recovered or 2) leptospirosis from which she has recovered.

I asked Dr. Horn, I asked Russ (several times), I asked Dr. Thomassen and my other friends at work, “Now that we know she is not broken, do we have to return her to her first adoptive family?” They have all agreed with what I know is probably true, though I am sad for the first adoptive family, Luna is truely our puppy and will remain with our family.


Abby Giving Luna a(nother) Bath! I Had Forgotten How Hard it is to Keep a White Dog White!

I will be eternally grateful to the original adoptive family for pursuing the therapy that saved her life, and for allowing us to adopt her. While I know of course, that she will one day most likely break my heart, I am so glad it is not on the second day or the second month that I have known her.


Luna on the Deck

She has been a challenging, exhausting, strange, wonderful, goofy amazing puppy.


Luna Helps Herself


Luna Hoping…

I am so happy she is a Finch.


Good Night Luna! We Love You So!


Abby’s Drawing of Luna on my Lap <3