Monday, March 4, 2013

Playing A Little Catch Up

 I've been remiss here, failing to update as frequently as I should. Time has flown by and with it pieces of our hearts. This pic of Abbie and Luna was one of the last of the two of them together as a few days later, we freed our precious Big Sister from her pain and suffering and treated her with the love she had so freely given to us for years. As June, 2012 came to a close, Abbie began to noticeable feel bad, moping about and losing her once notorious appetite. By the first days of July, we could no longer hope it was just a passing but and on our way back from Universal Studios, where we had taken the Gobelets as part of their vacation, we stopped at the vet to see what was the matter. X-rays showed an enormous renal mass that was displacing her gut, leaving her no room for food or water, and no doubt giving her much pain. Oddly enough, it was in an area that Luna had been sniffing on her for months. Surely she knew before the rest of us that her sister's days were coming to a close.

When I saw the size of the mass on x-ray, I knew immediately that it was inoperable, and the next days would be our last with our Sunshine Girl. Our hearts were broken wide open once again. We thought at the time that we might have a couple of weeks remaining to spoil her and love her and say our goodbyes, and we were trying to come to grips with how we might know when the time was right to ease her suffering if it came to that. People who have been there always say that "you will know," but we had our doubts until the morning of July 8th when we woke up and knew--just as surely as we knew that she loved us beyond measure. We knew we did not want to take her anywhere but wanted to have her take her last breath at home surrounded by the sights and smells that she loved, cuddled in the arms of the three beings who loved her most. It was Sunday, though, and I wasn't sure if I could find someone at the last minute to help us with our task. In swooped the angel Dr. Barbara Welsch with A Compassionate Way. Dr. Welsch was once a fully practicing veterinarian, but now she counsels veterinarians with professional burnout and those stricken with grief, and in her night and weekend hours, she delivers the sick from their suffering. Marc had his doubts about her, worrying that she might be too "touchy, feely" since she was a counselor. He was very worried that she would try to counsel him through his grief. I can honestly say, however, that had I told someone exactly how I wanted things to be handled, I could not have chosen such a perfect experience. Dr. Welsch was nothing short of amazing. She was loving and kind and explained in all the right places while being quiet in all the right ones, too. She humored Luna's curiosity and protective nature, letting her sniff each and every thing she used. She let us cry and sob and pet and love. She let us talk and sing in her ear. She let us be a family in our home saying goodbye to a piece of our heart.

The good Micheal Williams from Cherished Memories pet crematory in Gainesville had been prearranged to arrive at an appropriate time, and he was neither a moment late nor a moment early. Again, he was a blessing in our time of heartbreak, and we are thankful for him and his services.

 After that rather heartwrenching story, I thought this fun, happy picture a necessity.
 One of my favorite pictures of me...ever. How boring my workouts would be without my Luna Tuna!
 She's had this ball for no less than two years now. We have a new one that is just like it was when it was new, but she'll have nothing to do with it. This ball is her woobie. A couple of weeks ago, on one of the coldest days this year, she was playing outside as we prepared the motor home for our upcoming trip, and she got distracted and left her ball somewhere. None of us noticed until about 11:30 at night when she started to throw a complete FIT--on the bed, off the bed, in the living room, in the bedroom.  We couldn't figure out what had her so distressed. Then Marc asked where her ball was. That was it! We opened the door and told her to go get it, so she went outside then immediately back in. She had no idea where her ball was, and she was getting increasingly upset about it. As a result, so were we. Without it, none of us would get any rest that night. Forty-five of my traipsing around outside in pajamas, a robe, a toboggan and Marc's combat boots later, Marc (clad in sweat pants, a fleece, and flip-flops) found her ball right where she'd left it--at the end of the trail where no doubt some evil squirrel had lured her from it. I wish I could have captured on camera the look of relief on her face when she ran to pick it up.

 I snapped this pic of Luna running with her friends (or is it her arch nemeses? We're not quite sure.) today. I wish I had a nickle for every time she and these two had run along this fence.
In preparation for the next step in our lives, I took Miss Luni Tunes to the vet today. She checked out mostly fine, though her blood work won't be back until tomorrow. Her heartworm test was negative. Her physical was great. She did, however, test positive for erlichiosis. Dr. Jones said that most dogs in Florida do, and it likely just means that she was exposed and her body fought it off. Unless she exhibits the symptoms of bruising or nosebleeds, we'll just tuck the knowledge in our pockets for future use. She was such a good girl while she was there. At three years, 3 1/2 months, she continues to grow up week by week.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Luna the Scientist

Apparently as I slept this morning, Marc fed the girls. Abbie gobbled hers quickly as usual, and Luna picked up a bite of hers and dumped it on the living room floor--again as usual. Luna was distracted from hers, though, and ran to the door barking, so Marc let her out to see what she was after. While she was outside, Abbie took the opportunity to steal the kibble Little Sister had left in the floor. After all, technically she's only been told not to steal what is in the bowl.

Having satisfied herself that she'd maintained the safety of her domain, Luna pranced into the house and headed straight to her erstwhile stolen kibble, only to look around as if to say, "What the hell?!" Then she decided to run a little experiment. She took one mouthful of food and dropped it in the living room floor and another and placed it behind the sofa. Then she walked around the corner and waited a while. Satisfying herself that she'd waited plenty of time, she came back and checked her bait. Again the perplexed look--they were both untouched. She sniffed around each pile of food, ate one, and retreated around the corner again to wait. After another short while, the food stayed where she'd put it, so she sniffed even more thoroughly this time to see if she could figure it out. Satisfying herself that she could not, she decided just to eat that food, too.

Little did she know her sneaky sister who is as deaf as a stone never knew she'd been set up. She was lying in the bedroom oblivious the whole time. Otherwise, she certainly would have been found out.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Two Years Later...

Two years ago today I was ditching sleep before work to drive a little over 60 miles to JLyn Shepherds in Middleburg, Florida to meet the girl who would become one of the loves of my life. Of course, at the time I didn't know that she would be my girl. Marc had made the decision this time to get another dog. He had made the decision to get a pup as opposed to an adult. He did the research and decided to get a shepherd. He had been the one to find the pup that no one else wanted. I had sat back trying to be detached and doing my best not to get excited about the possibility of another dog in our life. As things turned out, however, I was the only one who could go to meet her, who would have to make the final decision. (You and I both know there was NO way I was going to meet a puppy without bringing it home. lol) So she made the ride across Florida in my lap, calm and curled in a ball.

Those were quite possibly her last calm moments. She has run full tilt boogie since then. Her love of her soccer ball has only grown over the last year. She has begun to bargain with us, coming in from potty breaks after "just one toss" of the ball. She's become a master of jerky thievery, stealing no less than two pounds of venison jerky within days of my having made it. One container she retrieved from the bottom of a bag, having carefully removed the things on top of it and set them neatly aside. For a minute or two, I had to think about whether I had emptied the bag before I left. =D She's also begun to listen more and snuggle more and be more of an adult dog. She even managed to surprise us at the Fort Wilderness dog park, playing nicely with the other dogs, snapping only a little bit when a yellow lab went for her ball.

I just stare at her sometimes, or reach to rub her coat, and I am thankful for her, and I am thankful for her sister. I watch Abbie in her good days and her not-as-good. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a couple of months ago, and here lately there are days she's too nauseated to eat for a while, something with which this old gal has never had an issue. Every now and then, she's too sore even for our daily walks. Her hearing is failing, and she only hears loud noises these days. I hug her every chance I get, and I try to soak her in, appreciating every moment because I know the moments are drawing to a close in the next few years.

These girls bring me love beyond measure, and I hope I bring them even a small fraction of the joy they bring me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Glucosamine and Fish Oil

We've been giving the girls glucosamine/chondroitin supplements and fish oil since Luna's one year X-rays. Though the X-rays didn't show anything requiring surgery, they did show some very early joint changes--what would be osteoarthritis in humans but is called dysplasia in dogs. Dr. Greene didn't recommend any intervention beyond these daily supplements as a form of preventative. Since Luna is asymptomatic, we, of course, haven't noticed a difference in her activity. Abbie, however, has benefited greatly from them. She actually RUNS--not lopes or trots, but gallops--now. It is a beautiful thing to watch, and I'll do my best to catch it on film. Today was an absolutely gorgeous January day, so we spent much of it outside. I didn't catch them running, but I did get a few good shots.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cosmic Humor

A few nights ago I had a 4-year-old HELLION come into the ER. All anyone had to do was look at him--not even the wrong way--and he would scream bloody murder. He kicked. He swung. He did everything short of spitting at me. He was awful. But he gave me an interesting thought. "This must be what the vet feels like when I bring Luna." Then it occurred to me that the cosmos has an amazing sense of humor. I made the choice, many years ago for many reasons, not to have children. As many child-free people are, I have been quite critical of parents whose children are ill-behaved. Loud, disrespectful children who don't mind are a serious pet peeve of mine. Now I have one. She's just covered in fur. Pretty darned funny.

On the 21st of November, a day after her first birthday, I took Luna and Abbie for a walk with the ulterior motive of taking some 1 year pics of the big girl. These shots are from that walk.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Luna's First Birthday

We didn't have time to do a little birthday party for Luna today because I had to work, so I was just going to put the birthday hat on her head and take a picture. When I came at her with the hat, she just looked at me and backed up. So I put it on Abbie's head, and Luna just looked at her like "what the hell!" and backed up. After a few seconds, she eased up to her and sniffed of it then tried to take it off of her. Then she let me put it on her head but she ran to Marc to tell him to take it off. We got a kick out of it. Tomorrow we will have the official party. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Few of Her Favorite Things

She is 11 months old now. Believing she has been a part of our family for 9 months is hard. Believing she ever wasn't is equally difficult. She works out with me every day. I look forward to her maturing so that Abbie can join us. Now, Luna wants so desperately for Abbie to play she harrasses her incessantly and makes her miserable, trips her up trying to herd her into doing her bidding. For what it's worth, when I run, she tries to herd me too--at least I think that's what she's doing.
Here are some pictures of her doing some of her favorite things:
She's been working on this limb for about a week now. It started out bigger than her.

One of her favorite things in the whole world is a soccer ball. She knows how to kick it and will use her footwork to battle mine. When she tires of that she just picks it up and runs off with it.

We always get a treat when we come inside. Sister gets one too. :)