Decadent Delight Muffins for a One-eyed Wiener Dog (Also: A Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole for His Humans)

November 14th, 2010 10:02 pm by Kelly Garbato

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A freshly baked (quarter-) batch of Molly’s Decadent Delight Muffins sits on a small plate, behind which lurks two identical, plush reddish-brown wiener dogs. Only, the dog on the right is missing one eye (his right one, even!), along with the tip of his nose. One of the first three adopted dog-kids – Ralphie, Peedee or O-Ren – chewed them off years ago. Do we have a psychic in the pack, perchance?
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Friday night, I made a batch of Decadent Delight Muffins (recipe via Molly @ It’s a Vegan Dog’s Life – the meeter of at least 75% of my dog treat recipe needs!) for the dog-kids. I wanted to pamper them a little bit, since we had an especially rough week. But first treats, then kvetching!

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Perched on the back of the couch, Rennie stares into the kitchen, entranced by the unbaked muffins sitting on the countertop.
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Packed with flax seeds, shredded carrots, natural peanut butter and freshly made (somewhat fortuitously, as I just so happened to be brewing the final batch of the season) applesauce, these muffins are both healthy and delicious. (And vegan!) I much prefer baking my own dog treats over buying commercial brands because I know exactly what goes into each batch. Plus, they’re really very easy to make and store well in the freezer, if need be. (With five dogs, treats are eaten up pretty quickly round these parts!) Of course, the dogs also enjoy licking the spoons and bowls. And what better way to a dog’s heart than through her stomach? Five paws up!

Okay, so enough of the muffins. Let’s move on to the one-eyed wiener dog, shall we?

To Ralphie

Ralphie mosaic!
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Ralphie.

Those of you who know me on Facebook or in real life have been privy to my occasional Ralphie-related freakouts. Early this year, we noticed that he was having some trouble with his vision; it wasn’t really a huge deal, mostly just trouble seeing us at long distances or in dimly lit areas, and we just assumed that it was normal, age-related deterioration. Long story short, we broached the subject with our vet at Ralphie’s regularly scheduled 6-month checkup, and were ultimately referred to an ophthalmologist, who – to our surprise – found that he had a melanoma in his right eye. His left eye showed slight – but normal – age-related wear and tear. (He recently turned 13 years young, by the by, and has lived with us for 9 years.)

While the melanoma didn’t seem to be causing him any physical discomfort, there always existed the possibility that it would grow and begin to press on his eye, resulting in pain or blindness. Additionally, without a biopsy (which is somewhat invasive and tricky to perform on an intact eye), there wasn’t any way of knowing whether the melanoma was benign or malignant; if the latter, there was the added risk that the cancer could migrate and spread to other areas of his body. Scary, right?

Anyhow, we decided against drastic action, opting instead to treat the existing irritation with steroid eyedrops and have the ophthalmologist monitor his progress (or rather, the melanoma’s progress). Since March, it’s grown marginally but steadily from each appointment to the next. At his last checkup in October, we finally decided to have a biopsy done, since he had to go under for a dental cleaning anyway. While waiting for the oral surgeon and ophthalmologist to coordinate their schedules, however, we ran into a bit of a crisis.

Last Monday and Tuesday we had gorgeous weather – the last of the season, most likely – so I decided to take Ralphie out digging in the fields behind our house. He loves to dig, gets real into it: front legs, back legs, mouth, even, all tearing at the dirt and grass and occasional rock (ouch!) in search of nom-worthy critters. He’s a madman, for reals. Naturally, with all that dirt flying, some inevitably winds up in his eyes. And so it was that Tuesday night he could barely open them – right or left. Come Wednesday morning, his condition hadn’t improved – it had worsened, in fact – so we rushed him in to his regular vet, who kicked us over to the specialist. Given how irritated Ralphie’s eyes were, the eye doc couldn’t tell us much; instead, he sent us home with some painkillers and anti-inflammatory meds, and we scheduled a biopsy and possible surgery (depending on the results) for the next day.

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Just a few hours out of surgery and Ralphie’s tail is already back to wagging!
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Well, the title of this post belies the story’s ending. Before even getting to the biopsy, the ophthalmologist could tell that the melanoma had grown to such a size that it necessitated surgery; if it wasn’t causing Ralphie any pain yet, it would be within a month. Even though the vet described it as a rather non-invasive, simple procedure (say what now?!), I was a nervous wreck; doubly so because I had to stay home with the other four buggers while Ralphie was on the operating table.

Ditto: Peedee and O-Ren (Kaylee and Jayne, not so much); they missed their Ralphie something awful! Of course, any change in routine can be stressful – but by day two of his absence, Rennie was listless and Peedee had become downright depressed. He spent all of Thursday laying on the back of couch, staring forlornly out the window, waiting for a car to pull in with his big bro in tow. Who says that nonhumans don’t feel emotions like grief and anxiety, hmmmm? Poppycock.

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Though we tried to keep him relaxed, quite and sequestered in the bedroom for the rest of the day, Ralphie would have none of it. Instead, he wanted to chill on the couch and keep his one remaining eye on his minions.
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So, as you’ve most likely already surmised, the surgery was a success. Shane reports that the vet’s face was all smiley and relieved after the fact. (He has an older dachshund kid too, so I think he has a special affinity for Ralphie.) Not long after Ralphie left the table – and while his sleep-barks were reverberating through the office – Shane tweeted

Ralphie’s eye surgery went super smooth; he’s either a pirate now, or Colonel Tigh.

Cue: sigh of relief. You know all is well when the jokes are a-crackin’.

Unfortunately, we won’t know for another week whether the melanoma was cancerous. The vet tried to biopsy the eye post-op, but kept getting inconclusive results. Rather than delay things, he sent it off to a lab out of state for a full workup, the results of which we won’t have for another week or so. The x-rays look good, though; no visible tumors. Nor did a visual inspection of the eye suggest that a piece of the melanoma had broken off or traveled beyond it. So far, so good.

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Begging for breakfast scraps, not 24 hours after surgery.
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I’m happy to report that Ralphie is on the mend. In fact, he seems to be dealing with the loss of his eye better than us humans. Every time I walk into the room after having been gone for a bit, I start a bit. It’s just so…unexpected…even though we’ve had 7+ months to prepare ourselves. Ralphie’s new look will take some getting used to, I guess. Not that he cares; he’s coping rather well, limited line of vision be damned. “Bitches dig scars,” is what he might tell you – if you could speak dachshund, you useless human, you.

It goes without saying, but we’ve been pampering him like a mofo – a development with which Kaylee, the previous holder of the “Saddest Sack” title, is none too happy. Come Monday morning, I expect that she’ll be ready to poke out her own eye for extra attention. Such a diva, that one.

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Here’s winking at you, kid!
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Because this is veganmofo – and I’ve spent no small amount of time rattling on about non-food-related topics – I should probably close this thing out with some human food (not-) porn, dontchathink? Lucky for you – okay, me – Shane made Snarky Vegan’s White Trash Tater Tot Casserole with Daiya for dinner last night. It was delish; we both had second helpings, and finished off the leftovers for dinner just now.

Behold! Tater tots smothered in Daiya cheese!

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The only modification he made to the recipe was the addition of Lightlife Smart Links – 18 links (or three packages), sliced into thirds and fried in a skillet before baking. nomnomnom!

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s an ornery (if somewhat hoarse) wiener dog barking to come in.

Update, 11/23/10: The results are in; the news, shiny and happy! The melanoma in Ralphie’s severed eye is not, in point o’ facts, cancerous! (His eye had to come out either way, but still. No cancer!) The only downside? I was not able to pickle his eye and put it on my mantle. Ah well, there’s always the left one. (Joking! Totally a joke.)

 
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10 Responses to “Decadent Delight Muffins for a One-eyed Wiener Dog (Also: A Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole for His Humans)”

  1. Molly Says:

    Aw, Ralphie, I’m so, so happy to hear that he’s doing well! What an ordeal for all of you and I can just imagine the nervous wreck that you & the rest of the furry ones were when he was in surgery. I’m tickled pink that his homecoming treat is one of my recipes and I adore that picture of Rennie, staring at them longingly while licking her gorgeous chops. lol

    We just happened to have tator tot casserole last night, too, and I’m very excited to have some leftovers to bring to work for lunch today. Yum!

    Big, huge hugs, belly rubs and kisses to Ralphie. <3 xoxo

  2. Stephanie E. Says:

    So, so glad that it went well and that dog healing is happening speedily and human nerves are repairing themselves. I would have been a wreck too. (Also, plush one-eyed dog–how bizarrely perfect.)

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