Category Archives: dogs

Fraggle Friday:When Life Hands You Lemons

Oh man. Life threw me a curveball that has kinda rocked my world.

Two months to the day of Stella’s back surgery, she had her second seizure.

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Siri does her best trying to comfort her

The fact that it was her second was significant. She had her first seizure 70 hours prior. We were on a walk and she fell over and started paddling. Stopped, sat up, and then got up. The seizure lasted maybe 5 seconds? We walked slowly back to the house and she slept most of the day. After speaking with her surgeon (who I literally have on speed dial) there were a couple of possibilities. 1) Hopefully it was a one time event. 2) She has some deficiencies, and we can see if calcium and other levels are low 3) She has a brain tumor.

So, when Stella had her second seizure, after going to the vet and her blood work being absolutely perfect, we’re left with really just one option.

I cried all day Tuesday. I tried to go to work and was just a blubbering mess. I kept apologizing, but was unable to talk about why I was crying, so basically I was just super awkward and super unprofessional. Fortunately, I work in animal welfare, with a bunch of caring, compassionate people, so they handled my blubbering mess well.

And while that Tuesday was horrible, and I know my time with Stella is limited, here is the lemonade part of this story.

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We started her on Keppra, an anti seizure med, and she is like a new dog. She sleeps through the night, she eats all her meals, she gets up to greet me at the door, she drags me down the road for walks, and yesterday, when I took her to the banks of the river, she wanted to play fetch.

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Momma throw sticks?

The meds made her a bit more unstable initially (and gave her serious diarrhea, but that has resolved), so walking hasn’t been as easy for her, but now that she seems acclimated to the meds, she is really feeling great. Like, pre surgery great. For weeks before her first seizure she would get up one hour after I went to bed and begin to pace. The pacing got worse and worse and lasted longer and longer. And it was after a particularly bad night that she had her first seizure in the morning.

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Searching for sticks…

I think Stella hadn’t been feeling right for a while. And I’m not an idiot. A brain tumor is not a diagnosis anyone wants to get. I know my time with her is limited (they say it is a rapidly growing tumor and if lucky I will have 1-2 months with her). I know that one day she will probably stop eating again. She’ll start pacing. And while it scares the crap out of me, she will probably have another seizure, and it could be far worse than the last two.

So, I’m literally enjoying every moment I have with her. I’m so thankful I get to see “normal” Stella again. I’m so glad she feels good. I love that she drags me around on walks again. Knowing the end is near gives me anxiety and I’m so sad, but instead of dwelling on it, I try to focus on the now. And how lucky I am to have had this dog in my life for nearly 15 years.

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And taking lots of naps. She still enjoys that!

So, be prepared for lots of Stella posts, she’s pretty much going to rule my life for as long as she possibly can.

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Fraggle Friday: Siri’s Tough Life

If Siri could talk I have a feeling she’d tell you all about how rough she’s got it.

I’ve never met a dog who has it so good and yet feels completely neglected.

The other day I brought her to work and during an all office meeting she literally went from person to person trying to get into their laps. In Siri’s mind, laps are for her to lay in.

As my friend said to me recently, “it’s Siri’s world, we just live in it.”

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See the dog bed off to the right? Why would she lay there when she can be in my chair?

Lately the dramatics have been upped a bit. After breakfast she gets back into bed.

My bed.

And trying to get her out of my bed is nearly impossible

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Why would she get up when all the dogs on the sheets clearly aren’t going anywhere?

I mean, how am I expected to get her up when she looks like this as I enter the room?

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Her “Do Not Disturb” pose

Clearly if there is a bed or a lap, she’s in it.

In other news, Stella is doing GREAT, has been cleared for 10 minute walks twice a day, and she loves it! She drags me around the barn and begs me to let her off leash. Hasn’t happened yet, but I am excited for the day she can run free again!

Happy Fraggle Friday everyone!

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Fraggle Friday: Stella Update!

After spending two nights in the hospital, Stella came home yesterday! I can’t even describe how much I had missed her. I would be out doing something and think “I need to get home and let Stella out” forgetting entirely she wasn’t home. Or, worse yet, I’d wake up at night and think “I need to check on Stella” only to sadly remember she wasn’t home. When feeding the dogs I filled her bowl as well, out of habit. I’ve literally never spent a night at home without her. In over 14 years.

So, she’s home again, just this time with a huge scar along her back.

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#frankenpuppy

She’s really, really, doped up. I forgot how badly Morphine kicks her butt. She was on it for her TPLO surgery as well, and she can barely walk, and just seems a bit zombie like when she is on it. That said, it does keep her very comfortable and quiet and she slept from the moment we got home at 9:15 until I woke her at 4am for some water and a potty break. She reluctantly got up, went out to potty (with the sling, she still doesn’t have full use of her back legs) and then went right back to sleep until it was time for more meds at 6:45am.

Because I am not getting a lot of sleep and because she gets all sorts of meds at all sorts of times I created a bit of a pharmacy and log for myself.

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There’s nothing worse than not knowing what med to give or wondering if you remembered to give it at 4am.

Siri still wants to cuddle with her, which is sweet, but I worry if Stella really enjoys it, so I limit it a bit. Even though it is adorable.

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Being very respectful of Stella’s space

We’ll see how Stella does once she’s off the morphine. She’s trying to use her back legs a bit, which is encouraging. We’ll begin weaning her off of the Prednisone Sunday, according to my chart, which is a relief but I always worry she may become painful again. I took most of this week off of work, and expect that for the next week or so I’ll be in full on nurse mode.

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It’s great to have her back home, fingers crossed her recovery goes smoothly. Thanks for all your well wishes! I will say I’m excited to update you on June, she’s been doing so great, but didn’t want to leave you all in the dark about Stell. So, get ready for upcoming June posts!

xoxo

Stella, Siri and Nadia

 

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Decisions

Ten days ago, walking with the dogs, Stella lost control of her back end. She was swaying back and forth, as well as stumbling and falling down. I took my coat off, used it as a sling, took a video, and once home, with her resting comfortably sent the video to a veterinarian friend.

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Screenshot of her drunken sailor walk

She immediately called me and thought Stella may have had a “spinal seizure” or embolism. She recommended Prednisone and to see if she improved any.

She didn’t improve much, and so Stella and I took a 2.5 hour trip to see our favorite orthopedic specialist. He suspected a herniated disc, and because of her age, wanted to see if meds and acupuncture might get the inflammation down and the disc to stop being so angry.

That was a week ago and what a roller coaster it has been. Stella would get a bit better for a day, then regress. Then better to where she could take a few steps, and then fall. Then it got to where she really needed my help walking all the time, and I realized I needed to make a decision asap before she became more neurologic.

During my first trip to see the ortho vet, I was speaking to a friend and said “I need you to be the voice of reason and make sure I don’t agree to doing surgery.” When she didn’t respond I realized the connection had been cut off and she hadn’t heard me. But at the time, I was adamant that my 14 year old dog would not be having back surgery.

But, then I had a week with her. A week where she was the same, opinionated, dog I loved so much. Not being able to get up on her own was frustrating for her, but she had me trained pretty quickly. A mumble and grumble that lasted more than the time it took for her to get comfy on her bed meant she was thirsty and needed me to bring her water bowl to her. When she was feeling good, she’d try to trot and go smell things, despite the fact that I was attached to her via a sling around her back end and was asking her to go the other way. The steroids made her hungry, but she would still look at me like “this is the best you’ve got?” before voraciously eating her kibble. She patiently waited for me to get the crazy dogs out before getting her up, and she always let me know if she wanted to go out the back door or front door (front door if she had to poop because then she’d get a longer walk).

Two days prior to the herniated disc, my old dog went on a trot about with me and Georgie. She had a blast. One day before she hurt her back she was gleefully trotting around the barn eating as much poop as possible before I put her back in the car.

And while she certainly can act much younger than the number assigned to her, she is still an old dog. She tore her second ACL (for which we decided not to do surgery as she was getting along ok and had the other repaired one to lean on) and gets stiff and sore with lots of exercise. She is like an old lady that hates being out of her routine. She wants to be at home, on a walk, or in my car. She can’t see or hear very well anymore and chaos or change really stresses her out. Getting her to eat, some days, is nearly impossible. She literally won’t eat the same thing two days in a row. So yeah, she’s old. And some days are harder for her than others.

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Siri tried to comfort her as much as possible

So in the past week, I have gone back and forth about surgery. For one thing, the cost was incredibly prohibitive. I hadn’t been saving for some elective procedure, this was a surprise that I was not prepared for. But even more than that, how would an old dog do under anesthesia? Is she strong enough to bounce back from spinal surgery? Should I put my elderly dog through this complicated a procedure?

My veterinarian felt she was a good candidate for surgery. Her blood work and chest x-rays were all within normal limits. The procedure has a 90% success rate and she would be under anesthesia for far shorter a time than I had anticipated. She should feel immediate relief even if it takes her a little longer to gain full use of her legs.

So, after 10 days of my dog not doing well, and not improving, I felt I had to say yes to surgery. I had had ten days of the Stella I know and love. The Stella that rules my household and likes it that way. Ten days with the easiest patient, who trusted I would take her out to potty every four hours and make sure she always had fresh water. She was no different from the dog she had been 11 days ago except that she couldn’t use her back legs very well.

Euthanasia was not an option for me. For my dog Squirrel, who had cancer and one night was in so much pain trying to breathe, euthanasia was the kindest option. She wasn’t going to get better. Her condition was not treatable. But Stella’s condition was treatable. She wasn’t getting better with meds and acupuncture, so, for me, the decision was clear. I had to do surgery on my 14 year old dog.

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My dogs laying together does not get old for me

I was surprised by the reaction I got from some about this decision. The grimace they would make when I told them I was going to do surgery. The judgement I felt about a decision that was so incredibly personal. A decision that none of them had to be in, and I hoped never would have to be. And to be honest, if they made a different decision when presented with the situation, that’s completely fine by me. The toughest part of caring for an animal is that we have to make decisions for them. We try to make the best one we possibly can. It’s not easy, and for me, I have cried and cried and cried over it. But I believe I made the right decision.

Stella is in surgery as I write this. I am anxiously awaiting a call from the doctor in the next 10-15 minutes telling me she’s in recovery. Please let her be in recovery.

I have no idea how hard it will be for her post op. But I’ll be with her literally every step of the way. I know she’ll be in less pain and I am hoping my stubborn, tough, dog will make a full recovery and have some quality time left with me. If she doesn’t, I know I’ve done everything I could for her. I know I’ve given her every chance to keep going, and even if she can’t anymore, I did what I could.

So for any and all of you who are struggling with decisions, I’m sorry. I now understand how deeply personal they are, and how sometimes, there isn’t “the right” decision. There’s just the decision you make that you think is best. And I believe that’s all we can do for the animals in our lives.

*** I just heard from the surgeon and Stella is out of surgery and recovering in ICU well!

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Fraggle Friday: Ski Joring

Ski Joring with your horse is a pretty popular sport here in Idaho. And while ski joring with our dog isn’t as well-known, it’s also a lot of fun.

Back in the day Stella was pretty amazing at it, and she won our shelter’s fund-raising ski race a couple of times. Once with me, and once with a friend when I got to the race and realized I forgot my boots.

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The look of happiness

For a dog not bred to pull, she sure could pull. As long as she got to run, she was happy. She even had a guest appearance as a sled dog and carted around some kindergarteners.

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Pseudo sled dog

Stella is by far the most athletic dog I’ve ever had. I joke that if she was a human she would have been a multi sport Olympian. And if she was a horse, she would have won multiple 4* events.

In her prime she could do it all, and do it WELL.

And even as she aged, and I didn’t ask her to pull me down a ski trail anymore, she still just loved to come and run alongside me.

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In fact, she got to run ahead of me, free and happy far more than having to pull me around. She loved running down the path, believing it was groomed just so she could run as fast as she wanted.

Skijor champion, sled dog and incredible athlete, Stella has sure shown me just how versatile and fun the Fraggle can be.

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These days she’s a champion napper

 

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Fraggle Friday: How Siri Proved Me Wrong

My young dog, Siri, is a German Wirehaired Pointer who I adopted at the young age of 8-10 weeks old. I was super reluctant to adopt her not only because she was a puppy, but also because if I am being totally honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted a GWP.

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But who wouldn’t want this???

See, I was a Griffon snob. GWPs in my opinion, were the lesser breed. Originally bred with terriers, in my opinion, they were more independent, aggressive, and not as magical as a Griffon. The ones we got in at the Shelter seemed to always be really nice dogs, but I kept with my snobery and refused to believe anything else.

But then I met Siri. And I figured I would give it a shot. And while I cannot speak to the breed as a whole, I can admit that my bias of the breed appears to have been unfounded.

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Having grown up with horses, she learned about how delicious horse poop is at a young age

Siri is a very submissive dog. In fact, she is a bit of a target for other dogs, which makes me feel very protective of her. But, I’d rather she be omega than alpha. I never need to worry that she’ll be the fun police. In fact, she is ALWAYS looking for someone to play with.

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Stella isn’t the playmate Siri was hoping for in a sister, but she has taught her tons about how to be a good dog.

Siri is great with everyone. I got a chance to meet her mom, and get regular check ins from her brother, and both are equally friendly and happy dogs.

I definitely think Siri has good genes in the temperament department.

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Siri’s first collage

So, the GWP. They’re actually really nice dogs. And while they maybe aren’t as mellow as a Griff, and may be more prone to chasing cats and livestock (I still can’t trust Siri with the chickens despite having grown up with them), they’re actually a wonderful companion. Thanks Siri for proving me wrong!

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I’m lucky to have both of these fun fraggles in my life!

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Fraggle Friday: Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Let’s talk about my most favorite breed of dog. A breed you may not have even heard of- which is something I actually think has made the breed stay so solid for so long.

While I am not an expert on the breed, I have had 3 of them and fostered countless others, so I feel I have a fair bit of knowledge to pass along about them. Especially if you consider that 15 years ago, had you asked me if I wanted a bird dog, I would have said “Hell no. Those things are crazy.” But now, having had Stella for 14 years, I can’t even imagine having a different type of dog. And no, they are not crazy.

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (otherwise known as Griff, WPG, or in my home, Fuzz Face), is considered a medium-sized dog (although males tend to be quite a bit larger than females) with a high energy level. Their distinctive beards and shaggy coats give them an adorable appearance, at least in my opinion.

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You can read all about them here: AKC WPG description

But here is my take on the breed, the nitty gritty if you will, and things to consider if you are thinking of adopting or buying one. (Yup, they’re popular enough to start showing up in shelters and rescues now. Really, really, nice ones, in fact).

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This was one of the handsome Griffs we got in needing a home. He found a forever home earlier this winter.

Is this a high energy breed? Yes. They’re sporting dogs. They’re bred to be out in the field hunting birds all day. But that said, I’ve found the WPG to be one of the calmer hunting dogs I have been around. They do need daily exercise, but then are completely content to hang around with you and lounge at home. I’ve hunted with them and they are fantastic. They don’t range far, and can do it all, point, retrieve and flush. They also make fantastic outdoor adventure partners. Stella and I have hiked all over Idaho and other states and the breed are great at getting out and having a good time.

How are Griffs with other animals? So, here is the thing about this breed and how I know they are soon going to be overbred. This is a breed that is friendly with everyone and everything. Much like a Labrador, they think life is great, and are always up for making new friends. However, they’re also incredibly loyal and love to be with their people. If you move from the living room to the bedroom you’d better expect that they will too. Lately, I’m seeing more and more Griffs that are dog reactive. Some people are breeding them for a look, and no longer for that temperament that is what makes this breed so great. So, do your homework on breeders and meet the parents. They should be loveable and know no strangers.

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Squirrel, on the right, was a classic WPG. She’d go home with anyone, but then probably find her way back to me when she realized I wasn’t around…

Why do I love this breed so much? Because of their ridiculous look, sure. But also because they are so friendly, smart and healthy. They are great to run and hike with, but also great house dogs. I never have to worry that they will be aggressive when they meet someone. I never have to worry that they’ll get in a dog fight. They’re..easy. But that said, they’re easy for me because I meet their needs. They live inside with me and go everywhere with me. This is not a breed that wants to live outside away from its family. I also exercise them like crazy. I run, skate ski, take them on trail rides, hike. I basically plan my life around getting my dogs out (and myself) for some exercise. So, they get a good outing and then are fine lounging at home the rest of the day. My Dad’s dogs, both WPG rescues, run around the farm with him but have to be in the fenced yard when he’s at work. This is fine for them. Knowing they’ll get to stretch their legs when he’s home is enough. But they’re also no longer adolescents.

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Sassy, now 12, still loves to run and hike, but she’s also really good at sleeping. We adopted her when she was a year old, but she is actually Squirrel’s daughter. I adopted Squirrel 6 years after I adopted Sassy and found out they were related.

So, is this the breed for you? I don’t know. I just know it’s the breed for me and has made me fall in love with bearded dogs. Fun Fact: Neither of my current dogs are purebred WPGs. Stella is half German Shorthair Pointer and Siri is a German Wirehair Pointer. So, while I rave about the WPG here, it isn’t always the only option if you’re looking for a fantastic canine companion.

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Half GSP Half WPG=Total Perfection

 

 

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Fraggle Friday

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The girls got to go on a long hike yesterday and our foster dog Butterscotch joined us.

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He thinks he’s pretty tough, and to be honest, he kind of is. No shivering or getting tired for this guy. He had no problem keeping up with the big girls.

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We have so little snow right now, which is nice in that all my favorite trails are still easy to access. But not so nice in that it is winter in Idaho and we should have substantial snow right now…

At the end of the hike Siri learned an important lesson about ice. It breaks. And maybe you shouldn’t run across it unless you’re ready to go swimming.

I’m hopeful this was her last mid December dip

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Wet dog looks like she learned a lesson

Grateful for another great outing with the Fraggles and Butterscotch too!

 

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Fraggle Friday!

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It’s pretty where I live. It’s probably the #1 reason I live here. Which may seem silly to some, but being surrounded by natural beauty that I can enjoy easily is important to me.

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The other day a storm was blowing in and the light was incredible. I got some shots of the girls as we climbed a mountain before the rains came.

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I’m not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but living out here, I don’t really need to be.

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Happy Fraggle Friday!!

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Fraggle Friday: Foster Edition

My dogs took a bit of a back seat this week. A chaotic schedule left me wondering how they would do for hours at a time alone at home. They did fine.

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Always dorks, these two.

And they happily accepted a temporary member to our pack. Welcome, foster dog Brian!Brian

Brian is an ancient, blind and mostly deaf Dachshund who sadly was given up to our Shelter because his owner had terminal cancer and had to be placed in hospice.

Brian is pretty cute. He’s been struggling with some rotten teeth for a while so our veterinarian removed them and he seems to feel much better!

There was a small tear in one of my dog beds, and Brian did what Dachshunds do best- he used it as a place to burrow!

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It’s now a much larger tear, but as long as he’s happy, I’m happy

I’ve enjoyed fostering him, but am ready for him to find a forever home. Ya know, so I can foster another needy dog!

If you know of anyone looking for a super mellow and sweet small dog, send them my way!

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