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Archive for May, 2013

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love.  It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.

-W. Somerset Maugham

 

How fast a year flies!  It seems like only yesterday that I tentatively wrote the first post on this (or any) blog.  I remember feeling a little nervous, not knowing if what I had posted had really been sent off into the world wide web.  Would people read what I had written?  Would they think me silly, starting a blog about a dog?  Honestly, I decided that it didn’t really matter–I started writing for myself but, I must say, I am incredibly honored to find that others enjoy my ramblings.  Thank you, dear readers, for your encouragement and support.  Without it, I probably would not have made it to this blog’s first anniversary.

 

Three Pitties

 

Frankly, with my technically-challenged self, I’m surprised I got this far and that somehow, someway, I did not crash the whole Word Press universe.  Seriously.  I’ve been known to do that around technology.  Setting up this blog took some time and planning (and struggling and fighting with my computer…it’s possible a few curse words were muttered).  Once I got the hang of everything, publishing a new post became something I looked forward to.  Sharing my adventures, frustrations, musings and foolishness in regards to living with dogs allowed me to view my canine relationships in a whole other manner.  Trying to see through my readers’ eyes, I realized just how big a role my woofers play in my life.

 

Grimm's Big Tongue

 

 

Three weeks after my first posting, I finally got my very first follower:  Texana’s Kitchen.  Slowly, as time went by, new followers came and then, in October of 2012, something strange but miraculous happened–I got Freshly Pressed.  I was astonished because the post picked was not, in my opinion, my best work.  It was written because Grimm was starting to show more and more signs of separation anxiety and I needed an outlet for my frustration.  But after ending up on Word Press’ pick list, my little blog took off.  I was truly humbled to be placed among such terrific writers and bloggers.  More awards from fellow bloggers were received and I could not have felt more honored.  Thank you.

 

 

Grinning Rufus

 

 

 

The past year has been one of hope and heartbreak, of laughter and tears.  I welcomed a new dog into my household and said a final farewell to another.  I witnessed a wild, young dog mature into a gracious teacher, observed another become more patient and self-confident and learned more about life and myself along the way.   I hope, in some small way, that my words have allowed a measure of laughter or introspection to enter others’ lives, even if only for a minute.  Knowing that we are not alone in our struggles, even those not related to our pets, helps each of us in our journey through life.  I can’t promise to teach you anything new or even to always entertain you, but stick around and we’ll see where things take us; I’m pretty sure my crafty canines have many more adventures planned for the future.

 

 

Best Buds

With these two woofers around, trouble is always just around the corner. What new adventures await?

 

 

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Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.

–Richard Bach

My Charley

Today I said goodbye to my oldest friend…my dog Charley.  I stood by him, face buried in his graying fur, tears dripping onto his nose, and gave him the last gift humans can give to a suffering pet–the gift of release, the gift of peace, the gift of no more pain.

Charley Wallows In The Leaves

Fifteen years ago, almost to the day, Charley came into my life.  It was Friday before Memorial Day when I first laid eyes on the emaciated, tick-ridden, partially bald pup.  He was my first rescue and showed me how truly amazing a dog can be if only given the chance.  For the next fifteen years, we journeyed through life together, learning about ourselves and each other along the way.  It was today, the Monday before Memorial Day, that he left my side and took a part of my heart with him.

Charley With Bow

Charley graciously accepted all of life’s trials and tribulations even when he seemed to have been unfairly singled out to endure more hardships than most. It would take a lot, I always thought, to finally end this old dog of mine.  After all, he had survived being run over, made it through surgery to repair a diaphragmatic hernia, recovered from liver shunts and, later in life, almost full liver failure, beat ehrlichia once only to have it come back later in life and then beat it again, regained function of his right half of his body after being paralyzed on that side for eight weeks, and finally pulled off a Lazarus-worthy stunt when it seemed myesthenia gravis (a neuromuscular disorder leading to paralysis) would surely cause him to give up the ghost.  Because he kept beating the odds, I sorta thought him invincible…like the Jack Palance of dogs.

Charley On The Couch

Up until yesterday evening, he had been doing okay.  Moving a little slower, sure, but he was still getting into canine capers with all the other woofers.  This morning, when I let all the dogs out to do their business, he didn’t come to the door as usual.  I kept hearing scrabbling sounds–he was trying to stand on his own, but didn’t have the strength.  I thought his myesthenia gravis was returning with a vengeance, but then I saw how tilted his head was…and he had nystagmus.  His eyes were darting back and forth like a metronome and I knew what was happening–vestibular disease.

Charley and Zella

Vestibular disease in dogs can be caused by several factors:  inner ear infections, nerve damage or brain tumors, but in most cases the cause is not actually known.  There are two kinds of vestibular disease:  peripheral and central.  Most dogs recover from the peripheral form, but the central form is most often caused by a tumor in the brain.  Charley’s nystagmus was not characteristic of the peripheral form:  one of his eyes moved left to right over and over again, back and forth, while his other eye moved up and down in the same manner.  He couldn’t stand, couldn’t see and refused food. He was panicking (heck, I was panicking) and I knew the prognosis was very poor–he likely had a brain tumor and there was nothing I could do to help him.

Charley Smiles

Charley has always been an active dog, even into his geriatric years.  Not being able to walk or see straight would not give him any quality of life.  This is a dog who faced just about every kind of vermin a dog could encounter in Texas. He was bitten by a copperhead snake when he was a juvenile, sprayed by a skunk, fooled by a possum, gnawed by a rat, stung by multiple yellow jackets, bitten by fire ants, almost kicked by an unruly cow, outrun by bunnies, heckled by coyotes, shared feed with a horse, and looked at sideways by a goat when he was supposed to herd him. Charley was only ever reluctant about the goat.

Charley Looking Intense

I could not let my old buddy struggle while he tried to comprehend what was happening to him.  He was miserable and was only going to get worse. I had to give him the only gift I had left for him, knowing that by doing so I would break my own heart.  I had to let him go.  My heart, eventually, would mend…Charley’s old, worn out body would not.  His sweet spirit needed to be set free.

Charley on his 15th Birthday.  If he were human, he would be somewhere around 90 years old.

Dearest Charley, you will never truly know how much I loved you.  I know you have many furry friends up in doggy heaven to keep you company until we can meet again.  Your buddies here will miss you, too, but I know that part of you lives on in Zella, Grimm and Rufus.  Your guiding wisdom helped shape them as much (or probably more, if I’m being honest) as I did.  You did your job well.  You were the greatest friend anyone could ask for–you just always knew what I needed even when I had no idea.  Oh, the wisdom of dogs!  The memories we made together will be forever cherished.  Until we meet again, my friend, those memories will have to do.  Thank you for finding me.

Charley's Tail

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If you own dogs, or any pets for that matter, you have to have a healthy sense of humor.  Dogs either have the best timing in the world or just know instinctively how to embarrass us humans.  I think, really, they are just trying to keep us humble.

No one likes to speak of the dark side to owning pets.  They are, after all, animals who never apologize for their bodily functions, follow their instinctual drives and go where their nose takes them.  If that happens to be your boyfriend’s crotch, well, tell him not to make any sudden moves.

Oh, please don't bring up all the embarrassing things we do!

Oh, please don’t bring up all the embarrassing things we do!

Over the years, I have definitely been annoyed, embarrassed and angered by (and apologetic for) my dogs behavior and actions.  I wonder, though, how many times my dogs may have thought the same about me?  Even though we live on the same planet, our worlds are entirely different and I am constantly amazed that we have made it thus far together.

Take, for instance, poop.  Humans don’t like to talk about it (generally—I have a few friends who always have to bring up some aspect of their bowels during a conversation).  Dogs, on the other hand, use it as a calling card, a treat or as a way to make our lives just plain miserable.  One day, I even woke up from a very pleasant slumber to roll over and find poop on my pillow.  Poop…on my pillow…looking at me with it’s little poop face.  Charley, my old geriatric dog, had unknowingly dropped a solid turd during his sleep, and since he has a bad habit of resting his derriere on my pillows, said turd had a very comfy resting place.

It’s not enough that I’m constantly toting little green bags around whenever we go for a walk—from my dog’s perspective, since I immediately bag the waste, they must think I am fascinated by their excretions.  Really, I’m not. But if I don’t scoop the poop, then either:  1)  I step in it or 2) the dogs step in it and drag their poop-foot all over the house or 3) the dogs step in it and then jump on someone who is over for a visit and smear poop on them (try explaining to a hysterical friend that the mud they were angry about my dog getting on them is actually feces).  I won’t even go into the whole eating-of-cat-poop nightmare.  Poop breath is, well, poopy.

Those wild young 'uns can keep their rough, hard sticks.  I prefer comfy, soft beds.  And yep, you ain't seeing things.  I do have my rump on my owner's pillow.  I make my own rules--ain't nobody gonna tell me I have to use a pillow only for my noggin.  [Needless to say, guess who's changing their sheets today?  Thanks, Charley, for putting your dog butt on my pillow.]

There is a very good reason why I don’t let Charley sleep on my bed anymore.  He has his own bed now.

Related to the poop issue is the butt and genital licking issue.  I know canines don’t use toilet paper, but dear God, the licking is out of control.  I have three male dogs in my house and the penis licking never stops.  If they are not licking their own, they are licking each others.  I know…too much information. But while I’m sharing all their deep, dark secrets, I might as well bare all.  And, speaking of baring all, Zella, my female dog, has no shame.  She lets it all hang out all the time.

Zella likes to let it all hang out.  Even Rufus is a little embarrassed by her lack of modesty.

Zella likes to let it all hang out. Even Rufus is a little embarrassed by her lack of modesty.

Another instance where my dogs and I have differing opinion is in the olfactory department.  They just can’t seem to grasp the concept that dead things are not perfume.  Grimm especially likes to generously apply his cologne—eau de putrid—after I have spent considerable time either giving him a bath or right before I have to be somewhere and really don’t have time to bathe him.  Having to smell and then clean the death slime off my dogs is slowly driving me insane.  I don’t even understand how one dog can find so many dead things.  He must have them stockpiled somewhere where only he knows. My neighbor has even been a witness to the downfall of my sanity caused by the smell of decay.

One day, after Grimm coated himself in a particularly slimy dead thing, I drug him to the hose to commence the decontamination process.  I happened to start a conversation with Grimm while I bathed him.

“Why would you do this? Why do you roll in dead things?  This is just disgusting.  I mean, what is this?  Not only do you stink to high heaven , but you are coated with yellowish grease!  You are driving me crazy!”

My neighbor, who happened to be walking by, stopped to witness the spectacle before him without my being aware of the fact.  Here I was, berating my dog and talking to myself, while the stench of a rendering plant wafted through the air.  I’m pretty sure my disheveled appearance left no doubt in his mind to the depths of crazy I had fallen.

I heard a chuckle and my neighbor said to me, “When that dog of yours tells you why he does the things he does, I want to know, too.  He does look pretty proud of himself, though.”

“How long have you been standing there?”, I asked.

“Long enough.”

“Long enough to decide I am a completely crazy person, you mean.”

“Pretty much, but also long enough to see how much you love that damn dog.”

He left, chuckling to himself and I couldn’t help but start chuckling, too.  The absurdity of the situation made me laugh out loud and Grimm, in response to my laughter, wagged and wiggled, causing death-slime water to sling all over me.  I laughed louder.  I probably even got some death juice in my mouth and eyes.  I completed my chore, dried Grimm off and went inside.  I was tired after all the scrubbing and was ready for a nap.  I told myself, the only thing that would make my day complete would be to find a piece of feces on my bed. It would have been the icing on the cake…or, in my case, the poop on the pillow.  I giggled to myself.  What else can you do?  It’s either laugh or cry, and I chose laughter.

Grimm sniffs the air, triangulating the location of his next source of death cologne.

Even fresh after a bath, Grimm sniffs the air, triangulating the location of his next source of death cologne.

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