Dogless

GoofsI didn’t really realize the implications when Buddy died.  I wasn’t thinking of being dogless.

My daughter has been “borrowing” Sophie to help her get through the loss of Buddy.  I understand this and wholeheartedly support it.  She slept with Buddy for 14 years, she needs something breathing next to her at night.  I’ve been there.

Chester is truly Bill’s dog.  He does everything and goes everywhere with him.  He spent the last week in Rowe with me but I know he missed being with Bill (except maybe for the one night he got to sleep on the bed with Cait while she was visiting).  He seemed to smile about that for days.

I realized yesterday that my life with dogs centers around food and being outdoors.  I was baking all day and doing it with Julia Child’s style – in other words I was making a HUGE mess.  Normally when things end up on the floor the dogs are there to pick it up.  I’m thinking I may not even realize how much of a mess I make because the dogs are cleaning up after me.  This may sound disgusting but I know anyone reading this who has a dog knows exactly what I’m talking about.

The other thing is they love to be outdoors.  Every single time I open a door to the outside world they are out.  There’s something to be said about not having to go out when the temperatures are below zero but there is also something about being forced to breathe fresh air regardless of the chill.  They also show me how wonderful winter can be.  They love the snow – LOVE it.  I forget how much they love it each year until the first snow when their total delight and enthusiasm is hard to miss.  The thing is they never get sick of it, no matter how long the winter is.

We can all learn lessons about loving our circumstances by hanging out with our dogs.  They are happy and content with just being as long as they are with their people.  Definitely something to aspire to.

 

Our Buddy

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There are dogs and then there are dogs.  Those of you that have ever been blessed with the company of a dog understand that throughout a lifetime some of them stand out.  Their personalities are a total fit and they form an unforgettable bond.  Buddy was just such a dog.  After 14 years of making us laugh almost every single day we had to say goodbye this past Saturday.  It was difficult yet not unexpected.

Buddy was our last family dog coming to us when my daughters were in junior high and high school.  He was part of all of their circles of friends and enough of a character to remain in their memories even though they hadn’t seen him for years.  He was the athlete, the clown and the sweetest animal I have ever known.  He moved through the transition of a family of 4 to one of just 2 adults.  He remained my youngest daughter’s best friend, she was his person. He was always part of coming home.

I’m in the same camp as Jon Katz when it comes to the end of our dogs lives.  I believe Buddy’s job was finished here and it was time for him to move on to the next.  We have dogs come into our lives with just what we need at the time.  They have a job.  They are the ones that get us through particular trials and contribute to the joys we have in our lives.  When their job is done they move on.  I like to think of Buddy’s spirit moving on to another family where he can entertain kids and adults with his antics and loved for the gentle spirit that he was.

We knew it was time on Friday and our vet came to the house Saturday afternoon.  Buddy hated going to the vet more than any animal I have known and we wanted to do right by him.  He died in Cait’s lap, his favorite spot for many, many years, giving us a peaceful closure so important to saying goodbye to someone you love.  He will truly be missed.

Reprieve

Moving Rocks (Large Ones)

 

Taking care of an aging dog requires patience and an ability to stand back and look at your animal with a certain amount of detachment.  There are many times when I wish they could talk, let me know how you’re feeling or what hurts.

Buddy has been declining over the past couple of months.  He had declined to the point of me finding a vet that would come to the house to put him down.   Amanda and Cait were both here yesterday at the appointed hour.  We waited with Buddy outdoors for the vet to arrive.  When he did Buddy ran to him with enthusiasm (we haven’t seen him run in days, maybe weeks).  He eagerly took treats from the vets hand, patiently waited through the exam, cheerfully sat with us all while we discussed his fate.

This new vet, what I can only describe as a classic country vet, arrived in his Prius and removed his bags to the driveway.  As Buddy barked and wagged his stumpy tail we all introduced ourselves and talked about what we had seen happening in the past couple of weeks.  He listened to his heart and lungs, felt the lumps all over his body, checked out his legs and feet (he’d recently broken a nail and had been limping badly – this was a case of adding insult to injury).

It started to rain so we all went into the shop and used a woodworking bench as an examination table.  His recommendation was to do a few tests to check his kidney function, thyroid function and rule out things like Lyme and Cushing’s disease.  With his symptoms we all decided to rule out things that could be resolved easily with minimal intervention.  The vet’s opinion was that Buddy probably had a little more life left in him.

I have to tell you that we were wrecks at the thought of losing Buddy.  It’s never an easy decision to make.  You think about his life, the dog he was and the hole it is going to make in your life.  At the same time it’s just as difficult to watch a once vibrant, active dog struggle for a breath, whine in what seems to be pain, refuse to go for his favorite walks.   As Amanda said – he made us look like fools for thinking he was too sick to go on.

This is the first time in decades that I have had a veterinarian that I felt had the best interest of my animal at heart.  He was objective, said flat-out that being in the position of deciding an animals fate is the most uncomfortable position he finds himself in.  He answered all of our questions and said he would only check him for things that were easy to deal with.  In other words he wasn’t going to recommend dialysis, chemo or heart intervention.  This is something the vets that have seen Buddy over the years would probably not hesitate to offer.  Animal medicine has become a close relative to the medical system we all deal with in this day and age.  I always feel it’s all about the money, whatever it takes.

For Buddy this was the best possible scenario, he was thoroughly checked out, in his own environment by a really nice guy with treats.

As the doc readied to leave he took the two vials of blood and placed them into the centrifuge on the floor on the passenger side.  Plugged into the lighter socket it quietly spun.  He assured me he’d call today with the results and with an idea of where we go from here.  I thought to myself that this is the kind of thing that makes me so happy to be here.  This is what makes living in a rural area work.  The people around you get it.  They do their jobs with the understanding and sensibilities that we have grown up with far from the influences of urban life.

 

That Special Dog

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I opened my computer this morning not knowing what I would write about and looked at the photo above which is my current desktop pic.  Kids and dogs, kids and this dog.

I haven’t written much lately about Chester.  He doesn’t currently live in Rowe with me, rather than stay in the freedom of country life he would rather be at the shop with Bill.  Apparently there isn’t enough social interaction here.  He just really loves Bill and always wants to go everywhere with him so . . .  I pretend I’m okay with it.

Weekends are a different story.  He plays a lot.  Goes swimming at least once a day and when we do take out the boat he is very happy to go with us.  It’s all about the games.  There are tennis balls and frisbees on the boat and he knows it.  He will be playing fetch for hours, not just minutes.

We had company a couple of weekends ago that he loved more than anything. An eleven year old boy who seemed to be pretty committed to the game as well. Hours upon hours of fetch – on dry land and in the lake.

Watching these two you realize how great life can be, how great it should be.  They were so happy in each other’s company.

Chester seeks out children.  He loves them.  He is the most gentle animal and seems to be able to sense exactly what game will work with whatever age the child is.  If they are scared or nervous he gently helps them to warm up to him.  His goal in life is to make every kid want a dog.  I have had to tell more than one parent that not all dogs are like him, he’s special. He has been this way since he came to us.

I told a friend of mine whose business is training dogs that I have never had a dog quite like him.  He told me I had found my lifetime dog (he was still waiting for his).  He is right.  I’ve had a few dogs, there is a hierarchy in remembering them – from the best to the worst.  I loved them all but wow, Chester is it, there will never be another.

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Adopt a Mutt

Goofs Dogs come to us in different ways.  For years I went the purebred route – yes, poor Sophie is a purebred.  She must come from a weird line. I adopted a Samoyed years ago that had so many issues it came to a very sad end.  She was a product of particularly bad breeding compounded with initial owners who had no idea what they were doing.  After that I swore I would never adopt someone else’s dog, ever.

Along came Chester.  We’ve had him for almost 2 1/2 years now.  He had some issues when he came to us but this is a classic case of love can fix a whole lot of wrong.  He’s become quite comfortable with us as a matter of fact. He still doesn’t like being left alone but the panic is gone.  He still doesn’t like being in a crate but now he sees it as his bed and not a punishment.  He’s still afraid of everything – not in a cowering kind of way but if something startles him he runs in the opposite direction.  Bill thinks it’s good to have a dog that considers self-preservation.  He’s afraid of the dark so he won’t go out of the perimeter of the spotlight at night.  He will stand on the edge and woof (more of a woo woo).

My sister got a puppy last weekend from a rescue group.  She’s 12 weeks old and seriously cute.  She’s bright and will be a very good dog I’m sure.  Her daughter posted a link today about a woman who’s project it was to photograph the least likely to be adopted dogs at her local shelter. Her photos are beautiful.  When I read it I knew that I could never set foot in a shelter or I would come home with a car load of dogs.

I’m happy to see the shift from owning a purebred to adopting a mutt. There are so many of them that need adoption and if Chester is any indication an adopted dog could very well be the best dog you’ve ever had.

A Burning Question

140216 Chester snowshoeChester doesn’t care if the snow is too deep to run in, he still wants you to throw that ball.

The photograph looks a little bizarre because he was moving when I released the shutter.  I typed that line and wondered “Are we even releasing a shutter anymore?”  Are we?  This looks like a double exposure to me but I know it’s not.  Hmmmmm . . . .

A Neurotic Little Dog

140117 Shophie in the ShowerFor some reason Sophie thinks the shower is just about as much fun as playing in the snow.  If she hears the word shower she will run into the nearest bathroom and wait for you – in the shower.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a walk in shower or a tub combo, when you turn the water on she will be waiting to get wet.  She’s a weirdo. Judging from the way she looks in this photo she probably really wants a shower, she certainly needs one.

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

131027 DogsYou should all be happy this is a still and not video.  This is the kind of attention you get when you pick up the squeaker that has recently been removed from a toy and use it for your own entertainment.  Even the dog that HATES squeakers was in for the game.  It was more powerful than food.  No one got it in the end – it was for my entertainment only. No dogs were harmed in the making of this photograph.