Remembering Odie

Years ago I used to keep a journal. It helped me work through a lot of things that I was going through at the time. For some reason I got away from doing that, but since nobody reads this blog I’ve decided that this is my journal now and plan to make more frequent entries. If someone reads it, no big deal. I have no secrets.

One week ago we were at a vet appointment for Herbie. We always brought Odie along for because he hates to be left alone with just the cats, plus it’s just nice to have him around supporting Herbie. We mentioned to the doctor how Odie was having some  stool issues and she noticed that he had some muscle wasting in multiple areas that was an indication of a very old dog or a very sick dog. Suddenly the conversation was no longer about Herbie.

The doctor ordered a set of x-rays and they confirmed the worst. His intestines were being smashed to the back of his body by huge tumors that had been growing for some time. Some calcification of the organs had already begun. He didn’t have long.

I felt numb and heartbroken. We had just spent hundreds on expensive tests and even a dental only a few months ago where they told us he was fine. I’m still trying to not be angry about that. If they had done the x-ray when we had the senior blood panel done on him in April, maybe we could have done something to slow the process or at least make him more comfortable.

His last day was not comfortable. That was Monday. We said goodbye to him at 3:00 Monday afternoon, less than a week after the diagnosis.

The last few days have been really shitty. When you adopt older dogs you have less time with them. That’s the trade off, I get that but that doesn’t mean that you don’t feel like you just took a baseball bat to the gut every time you lose one.

And you know what, I’d do the same thing all over again.

It’s not about us it’s about the dog.

If I see another older dog in a shelter in the near future, I’m probably gonna adopt them. Especially if they’re a beagle.

Right now, little Herbie is the last man standing. I always knew he was a tough little guy but I had no idea he would outlive our other dogs.

I’ll always remember Odie as being such a diplomat. He ignored the cats even when they were acting crazy. Lily was so nervous that she would often trip over him and even lay on top of him but he never protested. And he was always careful to not trample Herbie even at dinner time.

I’m really gonna miss my buddy. He was something special. Right now I imagine him and Lily in heaven snuggling together. Saving a space for Herbie.

Herbie’s Victory Lap

A couple of weeks ago our vet told us that our beloved senior dog Herbie has a mass in his sinus cavity. It is most likely malignant and is most definitely inoperable and eventually fatal.

It’s always heartbreaking to lose a pet. Just last August we lost our youngest dog Lily. Since Lily was so young it came as a complete shock and was incredibly devastating for us. This time it’s not a surprise since Herbie has been showing signs of wearing down for some time, but that still doesn’t make it easy. We would have lost him in May of 2016 to an abscessed tooth if not for Janet showing up at the vet with him and demanding surgery. He’s always been a tough little guy.

The lesson that I learned from  losing Lily was to treasure every day, hour and minute I have with the kiddos (a word I’ve picked up from the vets here in Olympia) and never take anything for granted.

I’m looking at this as a victory lap for Herbie. His farewell tour like a retiring ballplayer. He could have suffered a tragic fate like so many pets lost or abandoned on the streets but he didn’t. We enjoyed five plus glorious years with him and gave him a loving home in his old age which is more than a lot of creatures have. Now, our job is to make his life as comfortable as possible until he joins the rest of our angel pets.

Darling Lily, Every Day Is A Good Day

Yesterday we lost our dog  Lily. I can’t believe I’m saying that because she was our youngest dog. The Doctor thinks it was acute kidney failure brought on by bacteria, virus, cancer or whatever. Point is they shut down.

We just survived a trip over mountains, rivers and through dark of night. Then we get here and our youngest dog gets sick. Just an intestinal drama, nothing we haven’t seen before. Nothing some chicken & rice won’t fix. Not this time.

If you don’t know Lily’s story here’s a summary. She was literally thrown to the wolves by her chickenshit puppy mill owners because an inspection was coming. Only her and her sister survived and they were taken in by a rescue and we adopted Lily from them. When we picked her up her fur was so thick she almost looked like a sheep and was a little smelly. It didn’t matter, we were already in love with her.

lily_day1a
This pic Jan snapped of Lily on our trip really shows the happy fun loving little pup we got to know.

The four years and four months we had Lily were the best of times and the worst of times. Puppy mill survivors have serious PTSD. She would freak out at the slightest movement or sound. Even after she got to know us she still would not let us stand behind her. She’d always find a way to circle behind you. Because of this skill I nicknamed her Nightcrawler. Cockers are known for having weak bladders but we ended up taking her out every hour because being raised in a cage she was still new to the whole housebroken thing. Only in the last two years or so have we been able to leave home for three or four hours without wondering if there will be a puddle. She made huge strides in the last few years. She would actually wag her tail and be playful with her brothers when it was just us hanging out.

The rescue told us she was 2-3 years old back in 2012 so that would make her 6-7 now, but our new vet thinks shes more like 8-9 based on her teeth, which we did a dental on in 2012 but now she was in need of another. The things this dog went through were horrendous. In addition to the puppy mill she had heartworm. They gave her two rounds of that heartworm medication because the first round didn’t kill all the heartworms. That medicine is toxic as hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with damaging her kidneys.

Even though this is a stunning and tragic event in our lives, we had a moment of clarity as we sat in the backyard having a kombucha toast in Lily’s honor. For Lily every day was a good day. She escaped a prison and landed in a place where she had both human and animal companionship as well as unconditional love. She learned what is is to play, receive treats and frolic in the snow for the first time.

We had 4 years and 4 months with Lily which isn’t as long as we imagined we would have with her, but I know she appreciated every day she had with us. She worshiped Janet and would often wait by the door when she was gone. When there were thunderstorms or fireworks then she would come and hide near me or jump on my lap. A day that I will always treasure is the day we spent in Billings Montana at the Motel 6 on our trip to Washington. We didn’t arrive until 6:30 am and were just beat to shit. We decided to push everything back a day and just spend the whole day sleeping. Janet, me, Odie, Herbie and Lily all piled into a queen size bed. Best sleep of my life.

IMG_3097
Odie was a huge part of Lily’s development. Since she was so afraid of people, he made it a lot easier for her to lean on him as a big brother.

Sometimes I think I’m done, all cried out. Then I’ll think about her or mention her name and it starts all over again. That’s when I remind myself that we gave her a great life. I think a lot of people would have returned her to the shelter given all the baggage that came with her. They would never have gotten to see the beautiful dog she became over the years. Her sweet kind spirit will always be with us.

There are many organizations that oppose puppy mills, here are a few.

 

Greetings From The Pacific Northwest

It’s been almost a month to the day since we arrived in our rental home in Olympia Washington and it is finally sinking in that we actually live here now. The trip out here took a couple extra days more than we expected but Janet, myself and all our furry kids made it. There is video and pics taken of the journey that I’ll assemble as soon as I get my shit together. It was such an ordeal that sometimes Jan & I still just look at each other and say,”we made it!”

Since we had to get rid of almost everything we owned except for stuff we could afford to ship and what could be squeezed into the van many things had to be re-bought. Like dishes, towels, a broom and other simple stuff. We’ve moved through the phase where you feel like a stranger in your own home to where you actually remember which drawer you keep the spoons in.

The weather is great, a little cool for July especially at night sometimes hitting the mid fifties. I think it rained once, maybe twice since July 4th. I hear Chicago and much of the nation has been going through a heat wave. I  get weather alerts saying lightning has been spotted in my area since I still have the WGN weather app. I miss the Cub games. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the MLB  app by next month to watch some big games.

The only bad news is yesterday our dog Lily had to be hospitalized with acute renal failure. She was recovering from some intestinal bug along with her brother Herbie but she’s not responding to medication so far. So now they have put her on intravenous meds. The next few days are critical so we would appreciate any prayers or positive thoughts you could send her way.

Happy Anniversary Odie!

Now that July 4th is over, I am reminded of a truly joyous occasion that happened one year ago. It was on the Tuesday following the holiday that Janet and I took a trip to Kenosha in search of a little white Shih Tzu she had seen on their website. When we got there the Shih Tzu was taken so we looked at a couple other dogs . One was getting over kennel cough and the other seemed a little aloof. Then the handler brought out this beagle basset mix that had been given up twice, had cherry eye, was overweight and had a fatty tumor on his chest. It was love at first sight.

We’ve told Odie’s story in previous entries so I won’t rehash the whole thing. I’ll just say that everyday I give him a hug & a kiss and let him know how thankful I am that he is our dog.

Lily’s Here!

Janet and I just added a new member to our family. Her name is Lily. She’s a two year old cocker spaniel adopted from a local rescue. Lily has had a very tough life so far, but she’s going to get nothing but love and attention from now on. She has survived life in a puppy mill as a breeder and then was dumped into the woods by the owner when they received word that an inspection was coming. Only a few dogs survived, Lily was one of the lucky ones. A nice lady named Marlene fostered Lily and nursed her back to health. Right now she is still in shock from the horrors she has endured, so she is very shy around people.

Since mostly men ran the puppy mill she’s especially timid and cautious around them. Jan has been working to socialize her and it’s been good so far. I sneaked a photo of her and Odie on the couch but I’m still being very quiet and not making any sudden moves around her. We’re about to take both dogs on a walk in a few minutes. I’m looking forward to helping her feel at home.

Meet our new family member Odie the beagle/basset hound

photo of beagle/bassett hound Odie w/new dad Lorenzo
Father & Son Photo: Lorenzo w/our new canine son Odie

Lorenzo and I have been soul searching about adding a canine son or daughter to our family.  Our old dog Barney is with us in spirit, but not body, since he passed away under doctor’s care 12/1/10 at almost 14 years of age.  We wanted a mid size or small rescue dog.   Above all we wanted a dog whose spirit was very kind and gentle and agreeable towards all living things, a buddha dog.  🙂  Yesterday we found our buddha dog, and he is now our son, peacefully dozing on our floor as I type this.  His name had been Otis, but we have renamed him to Odie, after cartoon Garfield’s doggie friend.  It’s only right, since Lorenzo is a cartoonist.

Odie was in a shelter in Kenosha, WI.  We learned about this shelter through Petfinder.com, which is a website where most rescues and shelters nationwide list their pets available for adoption.  I also searched several area rescue’s websites that I know personally through my animal welfare volunteering in years past, and present day donations here and there.  I showed my husband a photo of one shelter dog whose photo and description moved me who was in Kenosha, WI.  We then noticed that Kenosha, WI was only 55 miles from us and that they had three dogs on their site that we liked.  We felt it was a sign, and that we were meant to go there.  I cleared my schedule for that next day, we filled out the online application, and off we went to Kenosha, WI yesterday, arriving just as they opened their doors at 1pm.

beagle/basset hound on grass with Janet
Mom & new son: Me with our new buddha-dog Odie

Fate did all the rest.  The original dog I’d noticed had already been adopted, the third dog we liked was not good with other dogs, and the second dog, now our son, we learned had been waiting for the right forever home for SIX MONTHS.  He did have one brief adoption but they were not fully committed and/or knowledgeable, and brought him back.  Right away I got teary thinking of all the “long timers” I had known or heard about at Chicago Animal Care & Control during my 3+ years volunteering there.  It was just not fair that such a kind spirited dog had to go through so much, so he had to become our son.  Then to further validate our decision that this was meant to be, the shelter said they had recently decided to fix his cherry eye condition by surgery for free next Monday 7/11/11, and would also waive his adoption fee since he was overweight.  We had been prepared to pay any fees for our buddha dog, but it was a fun hug from the universe to receive such discounts.  We have already spent a little of the leftover money on a very handsome harness for his walks, and he is very earnestly learning what is expected of him as we do positive reinforcement training.

You can look forward to lots of videos on www.BarneysHomeDogBoarding.com and blog entries here about him.  Even though he’s only one day out of the shelter, it’s clear that the shelter told the truth, and that he really is great with all dogs and our cats and all people.   All the shelter volunteers came out to greet us and celebrate that their beloved long timer was finally going home for good.  I have already sent them an update with photos, and will keep sending them updates, to thank them for their faithful care of him.  We know he will be a kind and welcoming host to my reading clients that come to the house, and a wonderful friend and gentle companion to the peaceful big-hearted dogs that we board with www.BarneysHomeDogBoarding.com.  This six year old buddha dog is home at last.