Saturday, August 27, 2016

Every Day is National Dog Day

Living in a small town that has its own Facebook page has its advantages.  Today a town resident asked if anyone would like their surplus of tomatoes and green beans from their garden. Several people have posted similar questions to the group over the past few weeks, but I've never responded quick enough to be the recipient of this freebie. Today, my luck changed and I got about 20 beautiful ripe tomatoes, and a grocery bag full of green beans.  I was so grateful and excited to have the fresh vegetables!  But I knew I'd been given more than we needed.  So, when I passed a friends house and saw that she was home, I decided to turn around and share them with her and her family.  Like me, she really appreciated the generosity of a local gardener.  There's nothing like fresh vegetables!
~Part of my free veggies!~
Today was also the day that Max saw the orthopedic surgeon for a consultation.
~Max waiting his turn~
The good news is that the x-rays showed that Max has great hips.  Unfortunately, the news for his knee wasn't that good.  He has a torn ACL on his left knee. I have to say, this doesn't come as much of a surprise.  Everyone who has seen him has agreed that he favors it.
The surgeon is recommending a TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy). Since Max is a "foster dog" the board of the rescue will decide what the next step will be.  I have no reason whatsoever to think the surgery won't be approved. At 6-years old, Max is a relatively young dog, with (hopefully) many good and active years ahead.

As this week comes to an end, as many of you may know, it's National Dog Day.  Sunny (below) doesn't care what day it is, he wanted away from the camera and back inside.
~Jake, Cissy and camera shy Sunny~
But the day was created "to celebrate all breeds, pure and mixed and serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, either from public shelters, rescues and pure breed rescues." 
~Deizel and Charlie sharing a moment~
I think that description means that at our house every day is National Dog Day.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Dog First!

Last week is in our rearview mirror, and a new week is ready to begin.
Deizel had his eyes evaluated, and its been decided to not remove the cataracts. For one, surgery to remove them is very expensive.  Second and what counts the most, is that Deizel has adapted to being blind.  I was reminded in an article that I read, that Deizel is a dog first, and blind second. I've been putting his blindness first.  But yesterday when I watched him run along the fence with Todd as Carl mowed the grass on the other side, it put things into the right order -- Deizel is a dog first.

This past week also has Josh on a medication that we've been talking about trying for a few months.  It's called "Adequan" and it's used to control symptoms associated with degenerative or traumatic arthritis -- Which is what Josh has.  It's an expensive medication initially because it requires 8 injections.  But we've been able to offset the cost because of the gifts from two kind blogging friends. I am hopeful it will help make a difference in his ability to get up by himself.
Speaking of getting around, today marks a milestone. It is exactly two-hundred days since Jake left the shelter and arrived here at Golden Pines.  He could not be getting around any better, and we could not be happier for how well he's doing, and how happy he is.
~Jake, 200 days and counting!~
Of course thrown into the week there's always the comic relief of Todd. I found a snakeskin in our yard a couple of days ago.
It made me a little squeamish, but it didn't stop me from showing it to Todd and Charlie who were curious about it.  And well, as is obvious in the video, Todd surprised me at the end, and gave me a good laugh.  

I hope you've had a good weekend! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

We're Okay

A four-day weekend comes to an end with some much needed rain, and feeling all rested up.
~Jake cooling off~
Good friends camping in nearby Harpers Ferry invited us over for dinner one evening.  After dinner, despite the warm temperatures, we all enjoyed sitting around a small campfire and eating a few s'mores --It has been years since I made and had one. They are as good as I remember.
The dogs are all in good spirits.  The 'doodle, Max, is not just a cute face, he's actually quite a character that makes great sport out of chasing the cats.
~'Doodle Max~
Our newest arrival, Diezel is also doing well.  He's all settled in and knows the routine and his way around the yard and the house.  He's a really nice dog that has bonded with Carl. He is so happy when he comes home, and follows him everywhere, and barks when he can't find him.
~Deizel and George~
Deizel is not totally blind because he seems to be able to see some things when the light is bright. Lab Rescue has approved a visit for him to see a Veterinary Opthamologist, so I'll set that up this week.  
Sheba's loss will take a little time to get over. Thank-you all for your kind and comforting words, and for sharing her loss with us.
I think we're going to be okay.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Memories of Sheba

Sheba came to us in the fall of 2005 She was a nearly one year old girl, given up by her family because she needed hip surgery.  Below is a picture taken the first day we met her.
In looking through all the photos of Sheba, I can't help but notice what a good friend she was to all of our dogs. Sheba and Charlie in particular were good friends.  I wish I had some good photos of the two of them together.

Sheba was mentored by some of the best dogs we had. Rudi our packleader was one of them. She left us in 2011 and in so many pictures of Rudi, Sheba was there with her. Below is a fun memory of the two of them rolling on a dead mole.
They both loved the same games. 
And sometimes it could be hard to tell them apart. 

Rudi was clearly the "top dog" in our crew. But Sheba would struggle with her place in the pack. She got into several fights with our girl CarrieAnne, and often she got the worst of it.
When Rudi passed away, it got worse. The fighting became a serious issue and I really considered rehoming Sheba.  I'm not sure when, how or what exactly changed but eventually the two worked it out.  Sheba and CarrieAnne became good companions to one another, and were always running, playing and exploring together.

Through the additions and subtractions, Sheba welcomed each and every one. Charlie may have been her first love, but Todd also had a special place.  The two of them were often together.

Sheba enjoyed a life of good health.
Her love of retrieving and carrying things in her mouth, tennis balls and games of frisbee never changed
Playing tug with Josh, or chasing Todd was great fun for her too.
In any weather, Sheba wanted to play. 
Sheba was an affectionate dog that loved "grown up people"as much as she loved other dogs. She was the perfect dog to take on a walk or on a road trip and to tell your secrets too. Sheba had a quiet and calming spirit that had a way of always making me feel better on my worst days.    
I loved having her with me when I picked blackberries we have on our property.  Sheba always let me know when they were ripe, and it was a race to get to them before she did.
Sheba also loved to eat the pears right off our tree, even if they weren't ripe. I really think she had more of them than we did.  And I was okay with that.
Sheba almost always did as she was asked, and if she didn't want to do it, she would just lay there and wait for US to change our mind.  She was another dog that knew the rules didn't apply to her.
I don't know when I noticed that Sheba was getting older.  To me, she had always been that young dog that I'd met so many years ago.  When I noticed her face turning white, I cheered on the inside because having a "senior girl" just seemed to complete our crew.

I did however, notice that she was slowing down the last few weeks.  But I shrugged it off thinking it was just the heat.  But as you may have read in our last post, that wasn't it at all.  The diagnosis this past Monday of cardiac hemangiosarcoma was totally unexpected.

I'd hoped for more days of grace for her, especially when she seemed to be feeling so much better. When Thursday started out as a good day for her, I never had any thought that our time together would end so suddenly. That morning Sheba was in good spirits, and she was happy as she rolled in the grass...
and she carried the ball around and was wagging her tail. Below is the last picture I took of Sheba.  If I'd known it was going to be the last photo I would take of her, I would have taken a few more.

But I remain grateful and thankful for the nearly 11 years we had together.  Even in my sadness and heartbreak, I am grateful for the gift of her love in our lives. By having Sheba, as well as the other dogs I have found that my fear of death has been lessened -- Because if death means finally joining Sheba and the others who have gone before her, then let it happen when it will.

But until that time comes, I'll treasure all of my memories of a dog that was a great friend and family member.

Friday, August 12, 2016

An Unexpected Good-Bye to Sheba

You might have noticed, it has been very quiet around here for more than a week. I would love to say that we have just been on a long needed vacation, but the reality is a bit different. And I'll just say that we've had what I think, are a few more than our share of curve-balls thrown at us.
The most recent one is Sheba.  I've been trying to write this very post since Monday.  But the words haven't come.  Perhaps because deep down inside I thought that if I wrote the words it would make what was happening so much more real.

But now I am faced with the sad reality that today brought the loss of our precious Sheba.  It began this past Sunday when she collapsed.  I found her laying in the grass. At first I thought she was just resting, so I took a few pictures as I walked over to her.  She was so perfectly still and her eyes were closed,.
Her gums were pale, and when Carl and I got her onto her feet after several minutes, she had "waste" all over her. We helped her back to the house where we gave her a quick bath.  After a couple of hours, she seemed brighter, and her gum-color had improved and she seemed fine. A blur of events would follow with a visit from Mobile Vet on Monday morning, who after taking several x-rays, sent us to see a veterinary cardiologist because Sheba's heart appeared to be enlarged. The EKG indicated what an ultrasound confirmed, and that was that Sheba had a tumor on her heart.  We were given the grim diagnosis of cardiac-hemangiosarcoma, or cancer of the heart. I was told Sheba could have hours, days, weeks, or maybe months, but not much more.  

I tried to remain optimistic, and it helped that by Tuesday Sheba was herself.  I'd started her on a herbal supplement called Yunnan Baiyao which is a hemostatic powdered medicine famous for being carried by the Vietcong to stop bleeding during the Vietnam War. It appeared to be helping because her gum/tongue color was good, and her appetite had returned.  She was tiring easier, but she was up and around and was happy.

Today began normally.  With the week we'd been having, I was looking forward to being home and relaxing.  I got the dogs out early, and Sheba was eager to play with a ball, and she rolled in the grass.
~Sheba rolling in the grass this morning~
I took a few pictures, and noticed how happy she seemed.  I ran a couple of short errands and came home, to let the dogs out for a 2nd walk before we settled in at home for the day.
~A Last Photo of Sheba this morning~
In the driveway Sheba came running towards me with the ball in her mouth, and suddenly collapsed in front of me. I knew what was happening, and did my best to calm her, and try and slow her breathing.  I gave her another herb called  'Bao Xian Zi'. that is dubbed the 'emergency', 'rescue', and 'insurance' pill to stop any hemorrhaging. But it didn't help. I'm not sure how much time passed, but finally her breathing slowed a little, and as she was able to look at me. In that moment, as hard as I was praying for more time and asking her not to go, I knew it was not to be. I also knew that if I waited, Sheba would leave this life on her own.  But I didn't want her to suffer any longer, so I called my (old) vets office, and said I was on my way with her. Shortly after 1 o'clock this afternoon, Sheba quietly and peacefully left us for the Rainbow Bridge.

Our nearly 11 years with Sheba passed much too quickly.  I was remembering this week why we adopted Sheba from the rescue all those years ago -- And it was because of Charlie.  He loved her.  We used to joke that Charlie thought we'd gotten her for him because they were instant and inseparable good friends.  Keeping her for Charlie may have been true at the time, but Sheba truly became a friend to all of us. Her unexpected loss leaves a hug gap in our lives that will never again be filled. Tonight as I write this, I have searched to find the words to say how much she'll be missed.  But there are no words.  Just the emptiness because she's gone.  

God speed to my beautiful canine sister, Sheba.  Missy, you were truly a once in a lifetime dog, friend and companion and we feel so lucky to have had you as part of our lives.