Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

Update on Riley the Wonderdog


It’s been a rough week for Team Griesbuer.

When I returned home from Santa Monica a few weeks ago, I noticed Riley was acting a little strange.  Keep in mind that part of being a “crazy” pet parent means thinking even the slightest hiccup is strange.  I am in NO way trying to imply that DaveyG did not take exquisite care of my Riley the Wonderdog in my absence.  I’m just saying I’m nuts and freak out over a puppy hangnail.

That said….she did seem a little “off”.  So I took her to the vet and sure enough….more rotten teeth. 

Labs have 42 teeth.  I’d have to look back at official vet records, of course, but by my estimation, Riley has to be down to 26, at best.  Granted, it doesn’t keep her from eating.  She is a lab, after all, and when there’s a will…..there’s a way.

That said, stinky breath, combined with strange behavior at meal time and when yawning compelled me to take her to the vet. 

She was guarding her mouth and what was left of her teeth so fiercely that the vet was required to sedate her in order to examine her mouth.  Poor thing peed herself waking up from sedation. 

Diagnosis?  Cracked and rotting tooth; upper right side.

They ran the usual pre-surgery blood tests and mouth surgery was scheduled for Monday.

The vet called back that afternoon and said that her lab results showed some unusual and concerning findings.  She had an elevated liver enzyme and was anemic. 

She’d had the liver enzyme thing before, so I didn’t think twice about it.  Only, as the vet explained, this time, instead of 2 elevated liver enzymes, she had 4 and they were over twice the level that they were when they were elevated in the past. 

Now, I don’t know what liver enzymes are or what they do, but I do understand the law of relativity, and something that is bad when it’s up is more bad when it’s up by over twice as much.  That, coupled with the fact that her hematocrit had dropped from a borderline 46 in August to a sub-par 36 in October didn’t seem good.

The vet recommended an ultrasound of her abdomen to rule out some pretty scary stuff.  But in the meantime, recommended we keep the mouth surgery on the calendar for Monday.

Now…..I love and adore my Riley the Wonderdog sometimes more than life itself.  But I had to wonder to myself….why schedule the $1200 mouth surgery on Monday if only to find some really awful news out about her on Thursday?    Still….I couldn’t ask that question so DaveyG and I decided that if we heard the worst on Thursday….well, at least she’d die with nice teeth….what was left of them, anyway.

So she had her surgery.  Instead of removing the one tooth, they had to take 4.   

I picked Riley up on Monday evening and it took us nearly an hour to walk the block and a half home.  Is it wrong that I laughed at her as she literally collapsed half way down the block?  She wobbled worse than I do after one of Siri’s treadmill sessions.

We got her home, and administered the pain meds the vet had given us.  She couldn’t take the traditional NSAIDs because of the liver enzyme thing, so they gave her an opiate based narcotic instead.  I was alarmed, as that sounded sort of severe for a 12 year old lab whose footing is marginal at best……but we went with it.

For a day, we administered the pain meds as prescribed.  Riley was whimpering from time to time, which is heartbreaking, but the simultaneous state of “Puppy Stoner” was not without its humor.


Enter Wednesday morning.  Riley’s whimper.....had grown to a moan......

I administered the newly prescribed half dose of morphine-based drug and waited the painful 30 minutes for it to kick in.  Though over the 30 minutes, her moan became a full fledged wail......

It being only 6:45 in the morning, I hit the panic button hard (note the afore mentioned “crazy pet parent” descriptive) and put Riley in the car and took her to the animal ER. 

We were seen quickly and the doctor concluded…..”Riley doesn’t really agree with morphine.” 

Well, there you have it.  Just say no to drugs.

But then the real agony kicked in.  Unable to administer pain meds because she’d have a bad trip, we were reduced to watching her continue to whimper and suffer in pain.  Let me assure you…..there is nothing worse.

…..except dropping your pet off for an abdominal ultrasound to find out if she has terminal cancer. 

We dropped Riley off this morning (are you keeping tally of our vet bills in the last week?) and waited.

We got a call back; the good news?  NOT cancer.  The bad news?  Chronic canine hepatitis.  Cause?  Entirely unknown.  Prognosis?  Depends.  Treatment?  Nutritional management thru what seem to be nothing more that doggie vitamins until we find out how aggressive it is.  Puppy antioxidants are proven to improve liver function and puppy fish oil helps with liver inflammation (and makes a nice coat too).

So in the end of a very long week, we’re down 4 teeth, have a new nutritional protocol and a really bad haircut to boot.



VERY special thanks to all the well wishes and messages.  Especially to Aunties Monica, Siri, Bully, TGP and Carm who have been as vigilant and caring as any good Aunties could be. 

For the first time in 3 days, Riley is resting comfortably and her mom and dad hope to be doing the same in a matter of a few hours.

Long live Riley the Wonderdog.


Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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