Buddy is a 3 year old Shih Tzu-Poodle mix that’s been with us a week. He bears an uncanny resemblance to my childhood dog, Ginger. So much so that I have actually been contemplating keeping him. However, Lollie our pitbull mix doesn’t like strange dogs. So far she’s been easy to manage but the reality is that we have to keep them separate. And anyone who has two dogs in their home who don’t get along understands when I say that it is really stressful making sure everyone is safe. I don’t like it. Maybe with work it would work out, but at this point, I don’t think I’m up for that challenge.
So, for now, we consider Buddy a visitor. He was an owner surrender, directly to H.E.L.P, His previous owners said he was just too much to deal with, given that there were children in the home. You look at his little face and think, “how can that be?” but don’t let his fluffy good looks fool you – inside that cute suit is a type-A, big dog. Knowing what I know now, after just one week, I can see how someone who doesn’t really know dogs, who didn’t really want a big dog, and who didn’t have the time to work with him would find him a nightmare. He literally needs HOURS of exercise each day just to be calm. But today I think we over did it…as I let him out tonight he struggled coming up the stairs. I guess we have found his limit – a three mile walk and 3 hours of fetch is it. That’s good at least.
So, other than his ball obsessiveness and his need for large amounts of exercise for a small dog, he is great!! Here is Buddy on PetFinder.com - where you can fill out an application to adopt him!
A few more pictures of Buddy: (more…)
Today I ran my hand down Lollie‘s back and got a literal handful of loose hair. Yuck. The best thing to do when they shed like that is to get out the brush, and not any old brush, but the mother of ALL brushes – the Furminator.
I love the Furminator for many reasons and the main one is that once I furminate my dogs I don’t have to do it again for at least a week, usually more like a month. Really it is that effective. With ordinary brushes I would brush and then that night it would seem like they were still shedding just as much. Now I really see the results (gobs of hair coming out on the brush) and these results last.
So, if you haven’t explored the wonders of the Furminator, I encourage you to check it out. It is one of my all time favorite dog related tools.
Brandyleft us just over a week ago. It was her time, she told me so in many ways. I could see it in her eyes, her behavior, her abilities, they all said to varying degrees that she was done. I’ll spare you the details of her declining health. She passed quietly in our home, with the kind and gentle assistance of our vet. Euthanizing Brandy at home helped to bring closure for our family and our pack. Bella, Hermes, and Lollie passed her one by one, sniffing her body curiously, knowing she was gone. Kristin and I wept as Ryan asked lots of questions. The vet and his assistant who made the house call were caring, compassionate, respectful, and professional – as they were when we put Sadie down five years prior.
I kept reading and hearing that when it was her time, I would know. And they were all right. The topic had been a frequent one in our home for months, increasingly so in the past several weeks as evidence mounted that Brandy’s time was near. I wavered as I took in the information she presented to me. I really wasn’t sure until I was sure, if that makes sense. But once I knew I didn’t hesitate or look back – it was her time.
I miss her but oddly not as much as anticipated. I guess I had a long time to think about her decline and had come to terms with it gradually. These past months I spent more and more time sitting quietly next to her, gently petting and stroking her head, neck, and back the way she liked. As Brandy aged, she was very reactive to sudden moves or any kind of jostling so I moved slowly and deliberately. She would relax and slowly lick her front paws and occasionally my hand or arm as I pet her. It was in those moments too that I knew she was ready. On her final day I came home from work early to pet her like she likes. She was stoic, guarded, with a long stare that seemingly told me she’s ready. My timing was perfect.
Brandy is gone in body but not of course in memory. I loved this poem authored and read by – of all people - legendary actor Jimmy Stewart on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The poem is called Beau, the name of Stewart’s dog:
The end of the road is nearing for Brandy. I find myself conflicted on deciding when is her time to go – if it should be my decision at all. She could die naturally, but seeing her decline is so hard for me I wonder if it is not kinder to put her down.
I bought Brandy from Animal Kingdom on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago in September 1994 when she was 6 weeks old. She was always a fairly high energy dog who loved to run and jump like most dogs but I will always remember how she seemed to love the wind. On windy days she would stop in her tracks to face the wind, sniffing, blowing her floppy Snoopy years backward. After a short time, she would bolt from that position and run around crazy – sometimes just I circles – as if to celebrate. This is a vivid but now distant memory. She is old now, arthritic, and increasingly losing the muscle needed to remain standing on all fours. Her legs will frequently slide out from under her in all directions just while she is standing or leaning over to drink some water. I’m sure she wishes we had carpeting to assist rather than our wood and tile floors.
Well, I am happy to report that I am not too old to learn a new lesson now and then. This particular lesson involves ticks. I was feeling superior to ticks, having not seen one attached to any of my dogs for years now. Regular use of Frontline Plus completely removed this pest from my life. So I decided to stop the Frontline Plus earlier than usual this year. It had been a cold summer and even though I had been told by many sources that it was a heavy flea and tick year, I had trouble believing it…I hadn’t seen any. We’d had a slight frost so I figured, season’s over, save a month of treatment this year. WELL, bad idea.
Two days ago, I found a tick full of blood on Bella. I immediately treated my three dogs who roam outside on our 3 acres. But I didn’t treat Brandy….she is 15 and only goes out for walkies and to potty. Yesterday there was one on her. Mike pulled that one off and treated her. Then today I pulled 8 more ticks off of Bella, they had implanted themselves already, and two off Hermes. I’m afraid to check Lollie but I will. Yuck. The ones I got today seemed unwell, so the medicine is working. I’m sure we’ll be all clear again by next week but YUCK! I hate ticks.
Moral of this story: Don’t stop your flea and tick preventative until there is a HARD frost, and for myself, I’m waiting for two hard frosts – just to be sure!
How many of you out there regularly brush and bathe your dogs? How many out there trim your own dogs’ nails? How many of you out there brush your dogs’ teeth? My guess is that the numbers decreased with each question. Most of us understand that bathing and brushing come with owning a dog. And for many of us, these tasks are an enjoyable part of interacting with our dogs. Some of us, for many reasons, choose to have our dogs professionally groomed. But all of us expect that there is some “maintenance” required in owning a dog.
However, many of us forget about the rest of the animal. I have seen many dogs with extremely long toe nails, some so long that the foot is being deformed and the dog is clearly uncomfortable walking as a result! These dogs are usually loved and cared for but their owners, for whatever reason, have neglected this part of their anatomy. Nail trimming IS often difficult. Most dogs dislike having their feet handled and if a dog hasn’t been given regular nail trims from puppyhood, they can resist nail trims with a nearly violent reaction.
My own dog, Lollie, hated nail trims. I tried to give them to her as a puppy but she struggled so much she often got out of our hold. Once she learned that she could escape by fierce struggling, she struggled all the harder with each attempt. Add to this my fear of her reaction and we had a horrible situation on our hands. It got to the point that at one attempt I was certain she was going to bite me. I stopped trimming her nails and took her to the vet. There she was muzzled and put on her side and struggled so much that the vet assistant, who was restraining her, ended up with multiple scratches and the vet’s glasses were flung across the room (her flailing foot caught the stem of them and off they went, into the air). I realized that we were in for a lifetime of panic and unnecessary drama unless something radically changed.
I am done!! All my foster dogs are out to their new families!! Hooray!
I can’t describe the level of contentment that swept over me after last Friday when all the puppies and Willow moved to their new homes. The past week has been a breeze with just my dogs and Chloe. Unfortunately, Chloe still hasn’t found her forever home but she has fully recovered from her last experience. She is back to her sweet, very smart self. Today she left for her permanent foster home. I’ll still see her at The Water Bowl when I work there. I’m planning on doing some training with her and working with her shyness around some men. It will be good to have contact with her. And it is VERY good to have her out of my house.
Tonight we received a box full of samples from Kong. We tried some of their toys I’ve never used before! I’ve talked about how much I love their products before but now I can describe how my dogs liked them:
We took a large bone and filled the ends with treats and Kong Stuff’n and gave it to Lollie. She immediately became VERY possessive of it and is still chewing it. We had to put her upstairs so the other dogs could enjoy their treats. If you have a dog who is at all dog aggressive or toy possessive, this treat will set them off…it is that good.
Hermes got the regular sized Kong bone, also filled with treats and stuffing. He is still working on his. He has also confiscated Bella‘s stuffed large sized puppy Kong and is currently chewing on that one while his lies nearby. Unfortunately, Bella preferred the cattle bones we have lying around, but hey, two out of three ain’t bad.
The work load is almost unbearable now…I am letting everything go. Luckily, ever since Chloe‘s been back my son is interested in playing in the puppy pen again! I don’t know why but he has always liked her, and I suspect that she keeps Willow busy and out of his hair…
The puppies have figured out (with Willow and Chloe’s help) how to get into the other half of the side yard. This morning I was washing dishes and saw a puppy up on the second floor deck!! I hustled her down the stairs, which she handled well to my surprise, and found three more waiting. When they saw me they all started coming up! It was funny. I corralled everyone and as soon as I bent down to take some pictures the whole group promptly fell asleep. So, not the greatest pictures but a funny sight for me.
I have had my heart, head, and will-power all set for being DONE with all fostering duties on August 7th when the puppies leave. Alas, it seems that isn’t going to be the case (due to Willow and Chloe still being with us) and it is making me stressed. I am aware of that old tendency I have of projecting into the future and then feeling really overwhelmed by what I see there. I am trying to just trust and be with this moment. I know I am feeling overwhelmed, and tired of fostering. As much as I love it I need a break. A L-O-N-G break. I worry about Willow finding a good home but mostly I worry about Chloe. Won’t someone out there give her the chance she needs??! Sigh. I need a miracle.
I have never had an adult female dog in my home as a foster because of our Lollie who is dog-aggressive. Now I have our Quaker parrot, Frank Frank. I have to always ask myself: where’s Lollie, where’s Chloe, where’s Willow, and is anyone near the bird? Thank god we’ve had nice weather as I can put everyone outside and get a moment of peace. I have access to a wonderful doggy daycare, soon to be reopened as The Water Bowl and I need to take advantage of their willingness to have my foster mamas there, free of charge. Tomorrow I plan to drop the two mamas off in the morning and hopefully not see them again until I go into work there in the evening.
I know this will end…right?