Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Value of a Dog Named Gus

Another exhaustive week is coming to an end.  On Monday what I thought was an infected hot-spot on Gus's back leg, turned out to be an infected pressure sore (or bed-sore) instead. I will begin by saying that it's very rare that I can't see one of my two favorite vets.  But since Gus couldn't wait until one of them could, I decided to take him to the vet that treated CarrieAnne for the lump on her neck. He'd taken such good care of Carrie, and in similar circumstances I've taken our other dogs to see him.  "Dr. X" is, in my opinion a very good and thorough vet, with confidence and experience and I respect and trust his professional judgement.  It ends there.  And I will begin by saying that I know that Gus has many health concerns, some of which will never be resolved and I know that his time with us is limited.  Which is partly why I left the office feeling discouraged and without much hope that was triggered because of what I felt was Dr. X's "attitude" towards Gus.  When those clouds cleared, I remembered why it was that I preferred not to take my senior dogs to him.  Dr. X, in my opinion, (I may be wrong) does not see the "worth" of a dog like Gus. All week long I've struggled with caring for Gus's infected, open wound, feeling that he (Dr. X) could have and should have done more to help Gus. All week long I struggled because I wanted to prove to him that Gus would indeed live to see the start of next week. All week long I kept seeing the value in trying to help a dog like Gus. But by Friday, I felt like I may be losing that battle and I knew Gus needed to be seen again.  I was relieved when Cissy and Cricket's vet could see him.  There is no doubt that Dr. C sees what I see in a dog like Gus.  It truly showed in how she interacted with Gus and how she patiently listened to my thoughts and concerns.  She has come up with a good, workable treatment plan that I feel is going to help the sore to heal, which I will tell you more about later.
Finally, I just have to tell you that in the rush of my week I didn't need yet another proverbial wrench thrown into it. But as you well know, you don't always get that choice.  I will spare you the details of why and how it happened, and just tell you that I tripped going down the steps at my office on Thursday and I have fractured my ankle. It's now a beautiful color of purple with no sign of an ankle bone and there is something that vaguely resembles the foot and toes I've known my whole life. Thankfully I can put some weight onto it, but the doctor told me to stay off of it as much as possible.  I do enjoy a doctor with a good sense of humor! The way it looks right now, these chairs on my porch are going to remain empty for awhile.
But I do hope you are able to relax and enjoy your weekend!     

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy Gotcha Day to Todd!!

I was looking through old photos the other day and came across Todd's "gotcha day" pictures.  Since today is his "gotcha day" I thought I'd take you back down memory lane with me and share a few of my favorite pictures from the very first day he arrived at Golden Pines.

I think the dogs were all thinking "what is it, and what have you done??"  
~Toby checking out the new boy~
Charlie saying 'get away from me kid'  Actually, he still says that!  
Sammy and Todd, "nice to meet you sir." 
Todd to Sammy:  "Can we play?"
Of all of the dogs that we had at that time, five of them have passed away.  One dog in particular had just come to us a few days before Todd arrived.  Her name was Reggie.  She had been confiscated by animal control for neglect.  That neglect and mistreatment didn't hamper her sweet, kind and gentle spirit.  She soon became known as "Momma Reggie" because she took care of Todd like he was her own puppy.  Below are my favorite photos from that first day she and Todd met.  They had an immediate connection.   
When Todd would whine in his crate, she'd stand there and look at me as if to say "we need to do something."  She always slept near him.  
~A tired puppy is a happy puppy!~
Todd was followed her everywhere.  
We had Reggie through the entire summer.  Just as Todd was getting a little more grown up and a little more independent, she left us for the Rainbow Bridge.  Her "job" was done... And she did it very well.    
Happy third "gotcha day" to Todd, the most unique and spirited member of the Golden Pines Gang!  Our lives are a lot more fun and full of laughter because he's part of it!   
~Todd's first day at Golden Pines~

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Signs of Summer

There is no doubt that summer has truly begun in my corner of Virginia!
A small carnival has come to the town where I live.
The nest of Eastern Phoebe's above our living room window will soon enough get their wings and leave the nest.
I also caught a glimpse from the window of our resident fawn. I didn't see "Bambi's Mom," but I'm sure she was somewhere nearby ...  I hope!
One of the joys of our property has been the wild black-raspberries that grow alongside our long driveway and the edge of the woods. Each year the dogs let me know when they have ripened, and this year wasn't any different. They love them as much as we do!
~Josh (left) and Sheba~
Generally we're able to pick several buckets full each year ...
~Sheba exhausted from supervising the berry picking~
Which provides enough for a cobbler or two like the one I made this morning along with a plentiful supply for snacking out of hand and a few to freeze too.
 Cobbler recipe here
The cold and snowy winter we suffered through was tough on these old berries.  But it hasn't stopped the long canes from being full with the plump, sweet black-raspberries that we adore.
~Sheba, my berry-picking assistant~
Even CarrieAnne felt well enough to join us yesterday.  I am so grateful and relieved that the lump is slowly shrinking in size.  Your prayers and good vibes have made a difference -- There is still a ways to go, so if you don't mind, please keep them coming for her!
Another sign of summer was a harmless black snake on our porch this afternoon.  He was curled up on the back of the old chair.  For some reason, I wasn't as afraid seeing a snake as I have been in the past.
But he quickly left when he was disturbed.  However, it's still a sign I could do without!
I hope you've had a good weekend too!     

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hurried Humid and Better Days

Each week I think "maybe next week will be a little slower", but life seems to stay incredibly busy.  I guess it is just part of how life has become for us because I feel very stretched most days!  But despite that, nothing gives me energy faster than a warm, sunny day!  We have had beautiful weather lately.  I know I will be complaining about the continuing humidity soon enough, but for now I am soaking it up!
It was just a week ago that I was telling you about CarrieAnne, and I was asking for some healing vibes for her.  Well, I'm still asking for them and hope you'll send them.  But I'm cautiously optimistic that to me, there doesn't appear to be as much swelling in her right shoulder as last Thursday. I know you'll understand when I say that I'm afraid to say it out loud because I don't want to jinx it.  However, I'm really hopeful that the medications and the chinese herbs together are making a difference for Carrie. Even if the lump isn't smaller, and she's still walking with a little bit of a limp, her appetite is back, she's no longer hiding and just seems to be herself which is what's important.
Our new addition Gus has settled in nicely. What a sweet, goofy and silly boy he is!  I'm enjoying getting to know him, and having him around.  Today hasn't been the best day for him because he's having problems getting onto his feet that keep curling under.  But I'm hoping that it is just a bad day, and not a symptom that his degenerative myelopathy is progressing and tomorrow is a better day for our good ole boy named Gus.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Protecting the Home-Front

Torrential downpours and stormy weather did nothing for my mood this past week.  On Thursday with our ground saturated, we had flooding once again.  A heavily traveled road (Route 7 near Leesburg) was closed because of flooding, making the commute home for Carl and a co-worker twice as long.  I'm glad I was home!
While I'm feeling a bit down and a bit distracted by life, Todd is protecting the home-front during the day from the deer that are grazing nearby  ...
And Cricket is helping him at night.  I think Cricket has got the most unusual and biggest bark for a dog her size, don't you?  I think she sounds a bit like a beagle.
It does wear a gal of Cricket's respectable age out though!
But what characters the two of them are, and what comic relief they both provide!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Circle of Life Continues

Another week is coming to a fast close.  I’m so very grateful for the kind, supportive e-mails and comments you've left here on my blog and on facebook on the loss of our girl Annie.  It has meant so much to know that you know how much Annie meant to us, and understand and share her loss.
~Annie in early April~
As we all know, life continues.  I've been reminded several times of the circle of life this week as we have  four brand-new hatchlings in the Eastern Phoebe's nest above our living room window.  I have also caught a couple of rare glimpses of a fawn that was born in our woods, a first for us.
I am also reminded that our crew still need care and attention.  I returned to the vet this morning with CarrieAnne who has swelling on her right shoulder that I noticed on Wednesday night.  I know I've been a bit distracted the past few weeks, but I just have to think that I would have noticed the swelling because it's so obvious. Added to that "theory" is that Carrie isn't able to walk that well and is in pain.  The vet that we saw today took x-rays and we at least know it's (thankfully) not bone cancer.  But it is a tumor that is probably infected, which is why there is the noticeable swelling.  So we have started Carrie on various medications and an antibiotic. Feeling a bit beaten by everything that's happened, a good friend of mine called this afternoon to offer support and give me what I know is good, solid advice on a direction to take.  She's traveled this path more than I have and more than anything, I wish I didn't have to travel it again so soon.
~CarrieAnne this evening~

Monday, June 9, 2014

Annie Crosses the Rainbow Bridge

Annie's "angel watch" continued peacefully throughout Sunday night and ended on Monday morning when she quietly left us for the Rainbow Bridge. At more than 15 years old, Annie had a good long life and remained sound in spirit, but her body, in particular her kidney's had failed her. It was a good fight that she fought well and hard for more than 2 years.
Annie was to me, the classic senior Golden Retriever, the real 24 karat gold and a true gem in every sense.  I felt a connection to Annie the first day I met her on a cold rainy day in April of 2012. That day her owner Steve, in the final stages of cancer, kissed her head for the last time, whispered something in her ear, and with tears welling up in his eyes as he handed me her leash, he made me promise to take good care of her. I promised him that I would.    ...I have kept my promise.
From the first day that Annie arrived at Golden Pines, she was accepted by the entire crew. Annie quickly became a full-fledged member of our pack and was intertwined within the fabric of all our lives.  Her loss has left Golden Pines with an emptiness that will never be filled again.  The verse below by Henry van Dyke seems perfect for Annie and provides comfort for me as I think about her being met on the other side by her family that loved her first, and her sister Sydney, her life's companion, who died a year before Annie came to us. A friend said to me today that "the luckiest people in the world have shared their life with a good dog."  I am indeed very lucky because for two years, I got to share my life with a beautiful girl named Annie.

“A Parable of Immortality” by Henry van Dyke.

I am standing by the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch
until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, ‘There she goes!
Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
‘There she goes! ‘ ,
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
‘Here she comes!’

God speed my beautiful Miss Ann.  Our time with you went much too quickly.  But I know we will see you again when our time comes to cross the Rainbow Bridge. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Angel Watch for Annie

~Annie in early May~
A twinge in my heart returned this morning when I woke up to find my beautiful Annie sleeping by herself in a 'lonely' part of the house. We got her up to her feet and carried her outside. She stood for several minutes before she dutifully did what she knew we were asking her too.  Back inside and onto a warm bed Annie has fallen into a deep sleep.  Her breathing is heavy.  Occasionally she coughs, and her feet and face will twitch, sometimes there is movement of her tail.  Then silence as her sleep peacefully continues. A very dear friend of mine and I call times like this, "angel watch."  Are Annie's angels now nearby watching over her and waiting for her time to come when they will take her to that unseen place? Does Anne see that unseen place where all those who have gone before her are waiting for her to join them?  Just as I always do, I am hoping that they and Annie will decide that heaven can wait a little longer.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Welcomed Intrusion

Last week began looking like it was going to be quiet, uneventful and routine.  However it turned out to be anything but that when my oldest nephew came to town on business.

We met on Wednesday right after work, and had a really good dinner ..... the very trendy Reston Town Center, in Reston (of course).
We had such a good evening, we decided to get together on Thursday as well.  For dinner that night, I took my nephew to the trendiest place in the town where I live, GK's BBQ.  It has a well earned and deserved reputation of the best barbecue for miles.
I have to confess, over the years I've not spent a lot of time with my nearly 30 year old nephew, and it had been about 7 years since I'd seen him.  His parents taught him to be respectful, hardworking and compassionate, kind and generous. I found him to be articulate, insightful with a great sense of humor. I know his parents are proud of him, and they should be, I am too.
I was also proud of how well all the dogs did with my nephew being here. It's always a guess as to which dog is going to turn into a show-off, and how many of them will forget everything they've been taught to do when they meet new people.
Having a dog of his own, my nephew took it all in stride and really enjoyed getting to know our crew and giving them some extra attention.  Sunny never left my nephew's side, and even Todd who can be aloof and guarded when meeting someone new, didn't mind the intrusion into his territory.
Even though I'm worn out from the late nights, working every day, and I'm behind on everything, I didn't mind the "intrusion" into my week either.