Tuesday, May 3, 2011

These Kids Can Sell Some Lemonade!!

Last Sunday was officially "Lemonade Day" across the nation, so Sam, Maya & Aurielle set up shop. They decided to set up their stand near Aurielle's house at an entrance to the Barton Creek Greenbelt. OH MY GOODNESS!!! Not only did they hit all of the hot bicyclists and hikers needing a cool drink of lemonade, but they actually had a perfect drive-thru location!! It was THE cutest thing ever! They didn't list prices but only asked for donations for Max. After 3 hours, they passed out about 3 gallons of lemonade and raked in a little over $135!!! Can you believe that?? All three kids donated all of their proceeds to the Max fund which was very sweet, especially after the slight hesitation they felt while dividing up and holding all of that loot. So, after Lemonade Day and all of your generous donations, we have raised a total of $968.34!!!! I am all giddy that we set a goal to collect all of the money to pay Max's vet bills, and we have almost accomplished that goal in just 2 weeks! I AM SO VERY GRATEFUL!!
(After the 90 degree Sunday, we had a cold front come in with lows in the 30's and highs in the 50's!)

An update on Max...he is doing WONDERFUL!! I think the "healing gems" that Aurielle and Maya put around his crate (which I previously thought was just decor) have worked! He is moving around so well and is using his injured leg much more. He still has a slight limp, but his mobility in that leg is probably 80%? He is getting so strong and holding his leg so well that it is very difficult for me to clean out his wound and get a good look at it. He is a very smart cat and has figured out what the syringe means, and cleverly situates himself so that I can't reach his wound easily. I can almost hear him snicker as he looks at me like, "No way am I going to make this easy for you!" I shoot his wound the best I can with water and hope for the best! Also, a lot of his puncture wound scabs are coming off, so we get to pet more of his body which is s...l...o...w...l...y growing fur back. He is not in any way hurting for attention, because the kids spend multiple hours in his crate with him. I even heard Sam say to him today, "See, Max, I'm locked in here with you, even though I have opposable thumbs to get myself out." But he sure does try to escape each time the door is open! Too bad he still has 3.5 weeks left in confinement :( We have another follow-up visit with Dr. Meyer tomorrow, so I'll update the blog soon!

Many thanks again for all of the well wishes and donations! You have all made this experience so much easier and filled with so much love.

Also, thank you, Stephen, for loving and supporting us through this endeavor! Isn't he just so cute? ;)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Looking Good!

It is sooo nice to have Max home with us. We get to love on him whenever we want and help him with his healing. Bella is also enjoying Max (notice the fancy decor that Max's crate now has thanks to Aurielle's visit yesterday).
So one of our instructions from Doc is to give Max an antibiotic pill once a day. They gave us this handy pill popper that is supposed to help humans give cats a pill. The tech told us to simply scruff Max, put the pill in the pill popper, place the pill popper in Max's mouth and push the plunger to pop the pill down his throat. Sounds easy, right? Wrong!! Maybe we don't know how to scruff a cat correctly, or we were just too concerned about handling a fractured cat extremely gently, but Max let us know pretty quickly that he wasn't going to have any handy, plastic pill popper shoved into his mouth. After two unsuccessful tries with 2 bites and some scratches, I tried hiding the pill in some food...Max swallowed the pill down with the first try! Thank goodness (for all of us)!

Now for those of you with weak stomachs, pass over this paragraph...

Another job we have is to clean Max's open wound each day. This is how we do it...First, I take a towel lined with a plastic bag and lay it in his crate. I then gently lay Max down onto his right side. While the kids are feeding him and petting him for a distraction (and Maya strategically looks away), I lift his left leg to expose the 3 inch gaping hole in his upper thigh. I then squirt hydrogen peroxide into his wound and let it bubble, bubble, bubble. I give him a little break, and then I take a cotton ball soaked in iodine and dab the wound. He flinches during this, because I am sure it HURTS LIKE HELL! I then give him lots and lots of love, so he doesn't hate me for the pain I just inflicted on him. In addition to washing out his wound with hydrogen peroxide and iodine, I got additional instructions today to do "hydrothreapy" whenever I want. Hydrotherapy keeps his wound wet which helps it heal quickly. Well, I wound never WANT to do hydrotherapy, but I do it out of my love for Max. So, this means that in addition to torturing him with hydrogen peroxide and iodine, I get to torture him by squirting water into his wound with a syringe "whenever I want." Yay! Max is a real trooper through all of his torture sessions which makes it so much easier on me.

Concerning my husband's support of Operation Rescue Max, he is slowly coming around. He has been helping me with Max and even talked about how good he is looking this evening! Now, check out this picture...
Not quite "good looking," right? So, I think Steve is really coming around ;)

Here is a picture to show a consequence of showing compassion toward animals through this endeavor...

Our 8 year old neighbor, Brennon, found a bird egg yesterday and brought it over to ask Sam & Maya what he should do with it. Well, Samuel constructed this incubator out of a cardboard box, straw garden hat, two scarves and his snake's basking lamp. Notice how he even placed a thermometer and a leaf by the egg. I guess the thermometer would help if anyone had a clue about what temperature a bird egg should be kept at, and the leaf will bring lots of comfort to the little bird if he miraculously hatched. It is about the cutest thing ever and brings tears to my eyes to think of my little boy showing so much love and compassion.

So, our journey continues in the the Hope House of Animal Nurturing and Recovery...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Home, Yes He is Home!!!

So, I called to get an update on Max today, and Deila came back on the phone to say that Max can come home today or tomorrow!!! So, we waited anxiously until 4 pm when we would get Doc's instructions. After 20 minutes of their phone being busy, we finally got through, and they told us Max could come home!!! Yay!!! We were all so nervous to go pick him up...we just couldn't believe that he was going to spend the night at home with us.When we got to the vet, Francisco gave us our instructions: clean his open wound (they decided not to sew it back up but let it heal itself) 1x day with hydrogen peroxide and iodine, give him antibiotics for 10 more days, confine him to a crate for 5-6 weeks (yes, I said WEEKS), watch him closely for signs of pain and bring him back in for a check-up on Friday. He has been moving his leg and trying to balance on it, but it still needs some time to heal. Francisco also entered all of Max's care codes into the computer and added up our final bill...$401!!!! Can you believe it? Our vet rocks!!
When we brought him home, we put him in his crate, he moved to a comfy spot, and we pet him for about 1 hour. He purred and purred and purred and purred... He seems pretty content in his confines, which he has to stay in until his leg and fractured back heal completely.

On a side note, the kids noticed today that THE dog from the neighbor's backyard was ON the fence today!!! Apparently one of the dogs that attacked Max climbs onto a garden cart and jumps onto the fence where our other neighbor has some thick, entwined branches growing, and the dog literally gets into her yard and sits on those branches and our combined fence! Keep in mind this is not a small dog. It is probably a 50 lb dog! So, I made a call to animal control today and explained the situation. They should get back to me within three days. Three days is a long time when worrying about a "mangy" dog (Sam's words) getting into our yard. We still have a dog, a tortoise and 2 kids to consider here! So, I stopped on over and tried to nicely ask her to move the garden cart. She swore there was nothing in that corner that the dog could climb, and when I asked her to double check (because we KNOW there is something
there-Sam took a super sneaky spy picture of it), she kindly said, "OK" and made sure her door was closed really tightly against the cold front coming through by slamming it closed in my face. I'm sure they will be pleased to visit with the animal control investigator ;) After calling my other neighbor to let her know a vicious dog was hanging out in her tree, she told me about her cat being attacked by the same dogs last month! She saved her cat but was sure that the dogs would have killed her cat if she wouldn't have stopped them. I should have asked the girl today when their lease was up and mention a beautiful house for rent in the next neighborhood.
On a side, side note...check out this atomic bomb of a cloud that we saw today from our front yard. It was literally the only cloud in the sky and was billowing up like a HUGE dust cloud...WICKED!! Maya was for sure that it was Laputa, the castle in the sky (this is a Hayao Miyazaki movie reference).

Good Night (literally)...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday-1 Week

So, it has been one LOOOOONG week since Max was attacked by dogs. I just checked in with the vet, and he said that today is not a good day to visit :( His incision opened up last night, so he will need to go back into surgery this afternoon to get it fixed. Doc said that this was expected because of the location of the incision and it is hard to keep a cat completely immobile. He did say that Max was in very good spirits, so we will hang onto that until seeing him tomorrow. We also have plans to make piles of chocolate chip cookies to sell at the mailboxes tomorrow evening. Yummm...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Operation Rescue Max!

Wow! Wow! Wow! I am in awe with the amount of donations and compassion that is coming our way. Sam said it best, "There are so many people that REALLY care about animals. I mean, GOSH, I just can't believe it!" Stephen worked overtime today, so we called to tell him about our fundraising success, and he said, "I guess Operation Rescue Max is in full swing!" Yes, it is! Since we couldn't visit Max today, it was nice to work hard for him. Maya and Sam made two gallons of fresh squeezed lemonade and we set up at Dick Nichols Park...did you know that Dick Nichols Park is THE Easter family reunion hang out place? There were about 200 people bar-b-q'n and spending time with their families. In just 30 minutes, the kids raised $16 and met some really nice people. One lady had a dog with three legs and a veterinarian had a 13 year old, three legged cat!!
(Here are the kids giving their best "please donate" faces...who could resist these two cuties?)

I'm sure it won't be the last time I say this...thank you, thank you so much for not only showing compassion for Max but showing the kids that all things are possible with a good set of friends!

Much Love & Gratitude!!!


So, I don't have a lot of fundraising experience, and I have never felt comfortable asking other people for money or for any help, for that matter. I have this deep Finnish "sisu" running through my blood-I can endure and always figure out a way to take care of myself and my family! But when we came home on Monday night after dropping Max off at the vet, Samuel started talking about all the different ways that he was going to raise money to pay for Max's vet bills. He knew that money was a big factor in deciding whether to give Max a chance or not. So, the very next day, the kids started making big plans...lemonade stands, art sales, a donation jar...the ideas really started flowing. They were also very generous with their own donations, putting the majority of their savings into Max's donation jar.
Serendipitously, at Freedom Fridays last week (Steve & I attended as parent volunteers), this was the quote of the day:

Our task must be to free ourselves...
by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature and its beauty.
-Albert Einstein

And these were the questions of the day:

How might you feel compassion for nature?
How can we show compassion for animals?
For each other?
For ourselves?

Samuel eloquently described how we were showing compassion for our cat, Max, and expressed our need for donations. These incredible kids were so generous, one little girl said, "I got $20 for my birthday. I think it would be better to give to Max than buying a stuffed animal or toy."

So, part of the reason for starting this blog is my contribution to raising money. Of course, every little bit will help and there are numerous ways for you to help if you feel moved to:
  • I have added a "Donate" button on the right side that is linked to my PayPal account (I will update the amount of money we still need here),
  • You can send us a check in the mail (e-mail me at elhope@austin.rr.com for our mailing address),
  • You can come to one of our lemonade/cookie stands (our first one will be later today at Sendera Pool),
  • You can donate items to our fundraising yard sale,
  • You can hire us for odd jobs: babysitting, house cleaning, pet sitting, yard work, etc., or
  • Pass on any fundraising ideas you may have.
My mom is donating all of the money she has made at her craft sales this month! So, this is turning into a really fun project and a great lesson for the kids...how to show compassion for animals, yourself and each other!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Week of April 18th

On April 18th, Max's life changed forever...

The day after Stephen (my husband) fought the Oak Hill Fire for over 10 hours and got 3.5 hours of sleep, he went to a 3-day Swiftwater Rescue Technician's Course in New Braunsfels. On the first night of his absence, the kids and I were hanging out in the backyard when we heard a scramble at the back fence, then screeches and barking. Sam hopped up to look over the fence and saw Max lying in the neighbors back yard, not moving, with 2 dogs looking at him. We ran around the corner and knocked on the neighbors door frantically describing what had just happened. When we went into the yard, Max was lying on his back, not moving his hind legs but still hissing and scratching at the dogs and their owner. I tried to carry him out of the yard, but he was also hissing and scratching at me. I laid him down and noticed a 3-inch diameter hole by his leg/under-belly. He was breathing very fast, obviously in shock. We loaded him up in the carrier and hurried to the emergency vet clinic (our vet had just closed). (Bella had actually busted through the front window screen to follow us as we ran out of the house, so we had to get her back in the house first.) The emergencey vet quickly took Max back and started an IV with pain medication. She came back with her initial evaluation and an estimate of cost of basic care (about $120). Max was still breathing quickly, so they gave him some oxygen, but he was still alive. Since he hadn't been moving his hind legs, they needed to take X-rays to make sure he didn't have a broken back. The X-rays would also give some information on the condition of his lungs and other organs. Meanwhile, Samuel is too emotional to come inside and is sitting in the truck crying. Maya is wailing, "MAX, MAX, MAX, don't die!" To put this into a little bit more perspective, we had just been to this same clinic on January 1st to put our 13 year old dog, Otis, to sleep due to cancer. So, there was some deep emotions coming to the surface for all of us!! To make matters worse, I couldn't get a hold of Stephen after my initial phone call to him of freaking out while driving to the vet. After about 15 minutes, the vet returns with Max's X-rays: he has contusions on his lungs, a severe leg muscle tear, multiple puncture wounds and his L7 vertebrae is fractured. So...his lungs might recover or not, his leg muscle would need operating on and may regain function or not, the puncture wounds may be severe or not, and his fractured back may cause paralysis if displaced or not. This meant that Max may live or not!!! After handing me another estimate on his overnight stay ($850-950), I had to decide what to do. Do I wait to see how he does overnight and take him to our very good, reasonable vet in the morning or do I choose to euthanize him? I still couldn't reach Stephen on his phone, so called my mom, sister-in-law and mother-in-law for their support and opinions. I was so conflicted, because I knew that Stephen wouldn't want to spend this kind of money on Max and I didn't really know what else Max would have to endure, but I couldn't tell the kids that we needed to euthanize Max either. We went back to visit Max for a minute and then left the emergency animal hospital to think things over and try and reach Stephen again. Driving on the fly-over from I35 to Hwy 290, I decided to give Max a chance based on the complete peace I felt when finally making that decision. So, we went home, Maya passed out cold, Samuel & I cried together, and we tried to sleep until we needed to pick Max up at 7am.

Arriving back at the emergency vet clinic, the vet was very hopeful that Max would make it. He hadn't needed any oxygen throughout the night and urinated on his own, showing no paralysis in his bladder. The vet had also reduced our costs to only $720. Since our vet didn't open until 11 am, we had to transfer Max to another vet for four hours to keep receiving IV fluids and pain medication. I was so relieved when Max finally made it into Dr. Meyer's hands at noon. We anxiously awaited a report all day. Finally, we talked to the receptionist right before Max went into surgery around 8pm. Doc was going to try and fix his leg!

I called the vet at 8 am sharp the next morning, Max had made it through his surgery! Dr. Meyer was extremely concerned about infection and Max regaining function in his right hind leg. That leg muscle had been torn completely in half, so there was a chance that the nerves would not reconnect, and he wouldn't ever regain use of that leg. So, for the next 2 days, we patiently waited, calling the vet office twice/day to check on Max's progress. During this time, Dr. Meyer was extremely concerned with infection and was dosing him heavily with antibiotics and watching him closely post-operation. Finally, on Thursday morning, Doc was a little bit more optimistic because Max had urinated in his litter box! He still wasn't eating on his own, but we could visit him the next day and bring some of his favorite food.

On Friday, all four of us went to visit Max at the vet for the first time since we had dropped him off on Tuesday morning. It was good to finally pet him and give him some love, but he was extremely dopey and lethargic. His leg wound was really bad looking and bad smelling. It was not a very hopeful visit, but we didn't let him know that :) All we could really do was hope for the best. Maybe he would be better tomorrow...

And he was!! The kids and I visited him again today (Saturday), and he was acting completely different than yesterday. He was extremely alert and even ate some food!! He was trying to walk around and even jump onto the bench, but I held him down so he wouldn't hurt himself. He talked and talked and talked to us until finally falling asleep in my lap. It was so good to see him somewhat back to his old self, although we realize that he may not come home with all four of his legs.

2 Months of Heaven

For the next two months, Max was in heaven! He lived in Maya's room for about one week. He slowly got used to his new home, especially the new 80 pound black monster of a dog that was VERY interested in the new living creature hiding in Maya's room! Very quickly, we noticed that Max was going to be a great cat. He had no problem with Bella, the doberman, and actually seemed to like her. He also had a constant companion in Maya who spent hours in her room the first week. As Max slowly ventured into the rest of the house, he quickly found the doggy door to the great outdoors! Now he was really in heaven! We were very cautious about letting him outside and would always bring him in during the night and if we left the house. He always stayed in the backyard, mostly on the "tortoise's side" of the yard, safely fenced off from the always ready to play, Bella.
Life was perfect for Max until we started to notice his premature balding. Why was he losing hair on his head??? Well, after a couple visits to the vet, he was finally diagnosed with Ringworm. This is where the good times ended for Max. The best treatment for ringworm is multiple dips into sulphur to kill off the fungus. Yucky!! This is the first time we left him out overnight, because he smelled so strongly of rotten eggs. After his second dip on April 12th, we were glad the ringworm was gone, and we could all move on and get back to the "easy" (and less smelly) way of life. Boy, we had no idea what was in store for us...

In the Beginning...

We don't know the very beginning of Max's story. All we know is that he was born around March 30th, 2010, and he & his brother were on the "kill list" at Town Lake Animal Shelter. This is when Austin Pets Alive! saved them. Max is a beautiful short-haired, Siamese mix feline. He is mostly black with sprinkles of white throughout and a white patch on his chest. He has the most gorgeous golden eyes. We met Max when he was 10 months old.
Maya was turning nine, and she was ready for her first pet! She really wanted a cat and after taking a tour at Austin Pets Alive! with her school, we decided to start looking there. Of course we needed a cat that got along with kids and dogs (we have a 3 year old doberman, Bella), so Evan showed us a couple of cats. Maya also wanted a black cat, so that narrowed it down to Angelina and King. After settling on Angelina, she noticed a another black cat snuggled up under the chair. I looked up his profile...Igor, great with kids and dogs!! When I went back to tell Maya that Igor would work, I could tell she was already in love. Igor came home with us that day and transformed into Max Hope (which ironically would have been Maya's name if she had been a boy). We had a new family member!!