Longhorn, Lymphoma, and Homemade Treats

Me and Longhorn in our first place together.

Me and Longhorn in our first place together.

This is something I don’t talk about very much because it is  a little difficult and I don’t like being emotional. So here goes nothing… I have a very sweet, playful, well-behaved dog. Her name is Longhorn, affectionately named after the Texas Longhorns. She is not named after the football team. I could care less about all of that. I named her Longhorn for a few reasons. #1 Her spotted coat. #2 Her pointy ears. #3 UT-Austin was my dream school and at the time that I got her I just started college and was still holding on to that dream.

I have raised her since she was a pup of 5 weeks old. She just turned 8 this past Saturday. We have been through many moves, break-ups, and milestones together these past years. I have not always been the greatest mom to her. Even though I have Twila now she will always be my first child, or my fur child. Part of the reason I got her was my desire to be a mother so I have always treated her as such.

Longhorn at a few months old. Before her ears were permanently pointy.

Longhorn at a few months old. Before her ears were permanently pointy.

Shortly after my husband and I purchased our home, around her 7th birthday, we found out that she has Lymphoma. Good news was we caught it super early. We decided to proceed with the most aggressive form of treatment being chemo once a week for a month, then every other week for five months. There were people who thought we were crazy for putting her through that “torture”. I saw it as making the last few years of her life the most comfortable as possible. If it was a human child no one would think twice about it so what is the difference? Her oncologist told us even with treatment her life expectancy would be about another two years. She responded very well to treatment and went into remission almost immediately. She never really seemed sick to begin with. She was only sluggish now and then.

After the treatment was over she was due for a two month check-up. I was in my third trimester at that time. The appointment couldn’t have gone better. There were no signs of the cancer returning and she was back to her normal playful self. Since everything was great her next check-up wouldn’t be for another three months. By then I had Twila and things at home changed dramatically. I was constantly tending to Twila leaving no energy for Longhorn. My husband tried to make up for my lack of attention but I could tell she wanted me. After all I am her mother and have been her primary caregiver her whole life. My husband is like her step-dad, it’s just not the same.

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Longhorn’s check-up fell on my birthday and was first thing in the morning. It was not the greatest news to start my day and on my birthday of all days. One of her lymph nodes was a little swollen so she took a sample from it to examine the cells under the slide. She also got a urinary tract infection from holding it in, not wanting to go out in all the rain we’ve been having. The doctor called me later that day and told me that there were a few suspicious cells but there were so few that she couldn’t tell if they were cancer cells or not. The other possibility is her infection causing her lymph nodes to react so she prescribed antibiotics hoping that would help. The doctor isn’t too worried at this point. She said all we can do is keep an eye on her.

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Longhorn playing soccer with her favorite red ball.

Bottom line her cancer may be back. Unfortunately, if it is we aren’t going to be able to afford treatment again. I can’t help but think I have caused this with all the stress of bringing Twila into this world and not giving Longhorn the proper attention she deserves. I have been blocking the thought of bidding her farewell. I don’t know what I would do without my fur child. She is so embedded in my life and daily routine I would feel completely lost in her absence.

You might be wondering if Longhorn is vegan. The answer is yes, my dog is on a plant-based diet except when we are at the vet or taking her to get a bath where they like to give her treats. I don’t explain to anyone that she is vegan because I don’t want to hear all the opinions people will inevitably share with me on the issue. I have learned that the hard way and the reason why I no longer shop at Petsmart or Petco. I really don’t need the unsolicited lectures. One thing I really love about Longhorn’s oncologist is that she doesn’t have a problem with her diet. She said as long as Longhorn is getting 20% crude protein in her diet she will be just fine no matter where that protein comes from.

Longhorn

Dogs that have cancer need at least 20% protein and plenty of Omega-3 in their diet. So I started giving her a kelp flax-seed supplement and trying to watch her protein. I have always wanted to make treats for her but never knew where to start. After doing some research on what people food dogs can and cannot eat I got an idea. Almost everything that is good for us vegans is good for dogs. I was most surprised to find out that dogs love nutritional yeast. Nooch has an abundance of good vitamins so I had to add some of that. She went crazy over them especially when she figured out what I was making was for her. I tried to get a good pic of her devouring them as you can see above. I know even a meat-eating dog would love these.

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Makes 34 mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 pound sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into small bits
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cube No Beef bouillon
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax-seed

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Directions:

  1. Combine the sweet potato with the water and the bouillon in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until you are easily able to pierce potato, about 20 minutes on medium heat. Do not drain, mash the sweet potato with the water.
  2. While potato is cooking steam kale. If you have a steamer insert for the pot you are using to cook the potatoes you could do both at the same time.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine flour, oats, yeast, and flax. Add in mashed sweet potato and steamed kale. Mix until just combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare enough mini muffin pans for 34 using non stick spray.
  5. Fill mini muffin pan all the way to the top. Try to leave the top smooth otherwise the spikes left will become sharp when baked.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool before giving them to your fur child.
  7. Refrigerate leftovers.

Both my husband and I tried these treats to make sure they were tasty enough. Why would you feed something to your dog that you wouldn’t eat yourself? That sounds hypocritical since I don’t sit around eating her dry food. I wish I could make her dog food from scratch but I barely have time to prepare food for myself now. One day I will. For now we feed her the Natural Balance vegan formula dry dog food. She was eating Halo’s vegan dry food but that stuff is expensive. I know nutritionally it’s worth it though.

Anyway, treat your dog to some tasty mini muffins in Longhorn’s name. Here’s to many more happy years with your best friend. Cheers!

My favorite photo of Longhorn.

My favorite photo of Longhorn.

2 thoughts on “Longhorn, Lymphoma, and Homemade Treats

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