Tag Archives: dogs

Fraggle Friday: The Year in Pictures

This year was a roller coaster with the dogs for sure. While Siri grew up, Stella grew old. But, despite how some moments along the way were looking, I still have the two of them with me, which is really what’s most important.

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This picture brings a smile to my face. Stella looks like little yellow riding hood running through the woods

The year started off pretty well, walks in the woods and hikes with family.

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Wow. There really was no snow here in February last year.

We got out for plenty of adventures and then we added foster dog Picabo (now Lucy) who in May drove all the way to NY with me where she is happily living with my Dad on his farm!

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Lucy and Siri were fast friends

And then in April, Stella, at 14, went in for back surgery. Those weeks immediately before and after her surgery were definitely the worst of the year. Not knowing if I had made an incredibly selfish decision gnawed at me constantly.

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Franken puppy

Siri, on the other hand, thought the visit to the vet was the best thing ever, as Stella’s surgeon had adopted her brother when I adopted her. (He wanted a dog like Stella, I have apologized profusely that he did NOT get a Stella…) So, they got to have a reunion.

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Two dorks. But he is a MUCH bigger dork

I was still on pins and needles with Stella and her recovery but man she recovered well. Each week she got stronger. She never had an accident in the house, and that dog was determined to run again. And she definitely has spent lots of time run hopping to her heart’s content.

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And so much swimming this summer!!!  This was at a derby where she finally could run and stay upright. I couldn’t keep her out of the water.

The month of  June, the seizures started. And I thought I would lose Stella. But, um, again, this dog doesn’t give up that easily. I was told we had anywhere from 1-6 months. We just passed the 6.5 month mark, and she is as happy as ever.

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After she climbed to the top of this mountain she told me I need to relax and not worry so much.

And Siri. While she has definitely grown up, and proven herself to be an overall great dog, she has still had some moments.

Like the time she had to go to the vet because she ate something “edible.”

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It wasn’t me, I swear.

I won’t get into what happened here, but lets just say Siri’s trip cost me about $300. I hope she had a really good time.

And then there was this, most recent destruction, also to the tune of over $300:

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Thanks Siri!

But really, when it comes down to it, there isn’t a canine family I could possibly love more. The highs far make up for the lows. Having two dogs who make me laugh and remind me how precious life is, is more than I can ask for.

So, here’s to another year with them, and all the adventures that ensue!

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Fraggle Friday: Highs and Lows

Sometimes Fraggle Friday posts are hard for me to write. While they are supposed to be a celebration of the dogs I love so much, sometimes they just remind me of the reality of having a 15 year old dog who has seizures.

And when your 15 year old dog has a seizure after not having had one for 6 months and 4 days, it can be hard to think about much else. And while you want to write a post celebrating your dogs, you know you’re just going to write a post re hashing the seizure.

So, let’s pepper the post with cute Stella pics of the last week to remind me that really, this stoic little monkey dog is doing really, really, well.

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While she can’t run or hike with me like she used to, she does get to come along for the ride.

The day prior to the seizure Stella came to Boise with me and then ended the day literally bombing around the barn. Eating hoof trimmings and galloping around like a racehorse.

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And looking damn adorable

So, clearly, when at 7:45am the following morning I heard her fall in the kitchen, I dropped the laundry I was folding in the bedroom and ran to her side. The seizure didn’t last long, I held her head until her body stopped convulsing. She came out of it fairly quickly, and laid in my arms for a minute or two afterwards. She always vomits afterwards, and this time she vomited up her anti seizure pill. ‘Cause it clearly wasn’t doing its job.

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Post seizure Siri immediately went to lay with her

Previously, post seizure Stella would sleep, have a loss of appetite and feel generally blah. This time, she was ready to go for a walk and wolfed down her breakfast. Per the veterinarian’s advice I gave her another anti seizure pill and she acted normal and happy for the rest of the day. And continues to do so as I write this.

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Just out for another walk in the Idaho weather

As for me, I actually recovered really well too. 🙂

I was freaked out when it happened, but it didn’t consume me. I think because it was less of a surprise- I’ve seen her have seizures before, I knew there was a possibility she would have another one. And she did. And now we need to see if she continues to have them and if anything else changes before I go ahead and become all dramatic

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So many smiles

Ironically, I was supposed to be back east this week, visiting family. But, I cancelled the trip and decided to stay home with Stella. I just didn’t feel right leaving her, especially since the trip would be at exactly 6 months since she had her first seizure, and I couldn’t believe Stella was still with me 6 months later. (If she has a brain tumor, which I still believe she does, they are typically fast growing, and there is a life expectancy of about 4-6 months). It didn’t seem right leaving her with someone else, especially for a trip that I could reschedule. Lets just say, I’m glad I stayed. I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to watch her have a seizure and I don’t envy the person who has to call me and tell me she had a seizure. Plus, a staycation is such a great thing and I highly recommend everyone take a few days just to stay home and relax. Always travelling for vacation doesn’t seem to give me the same reboot.

So, there we have it. The highs and lows of senior pets. I’m hoping for more running and smiling pics in our future.

 

 

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Fraggle Friday: Things I’ve Learned About Senior Dogs

Stella is not my first senior dog. Montana, my very first dog, was adopted while I was in college and I had her for about 12 years. She grew old with me, and in the end, despite two hip replacements to help with severe hip dysplasia, her body just couldn’t do it anymore.

There’s some ailments that seems to affect most senior dogs, once they’re of a certain age. Decreased mobility and dementia seem to be the ones that effect the most dogs, in my experience. Montana started to go into corners and stare at walls. She began panting and pacing a lot, usually not needing to go anywhere, just as if she was uncomfortable in her own skin. I tried special food, and even meds. And they helped to a certain degree, but in the end, she was an old dog, and I couldn’t change that.

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While I did everything I could for Montana, I feel I have learned so much more about what senior dogs need through the years.  And while I am happy Stella gets to benefit from this, it hurts my heart that Montana did not. Senior dogs need special care. More than just a dog food labeled “Senior.” A friend, lamenting about aging parents, said to me “once an adult, twice a child.” It took me a moment to understand what she meant, but then it rang so true. We start our lives depending on others, and unable to care for ourselves, and if we live long enough, most likely we will end our lives the same way. I think about this phrase a lot when I am caring for Stella and it’s led me to understand a few things that can really help senior pets.

Stick to a Routine

If you don’t do anything else, this will still help your senior dog immensely. Stella knows my routine better than I do. She knows that I open the blinds to the front window right before I take her for a walk. She would hear or see those blinds move, and she knew it was time to get up and get going. Nowadays, she can’t hear the blinds opening, and rarely wakes up while I am opening them, but I keep the routine the same regardless. Feeding time, walk time, nap time, everything, I try to keep it as regimented as possible. If she wants to sleep in, great, but if I don’t wake up when she wants to go out, she starts to pace and gets stressed. Knowing what to expect greatly reduces her stress, and I do my best to help with that.

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Remember New Places Aren’t as Fun as They Used to Be

What young dog doesn’t bound out of the car and love to explore new smells? Siri is an absolute spaz the first night in a new place. And while Stella has travelled to hundreds of places with me, and she still loves a car ride, spending time in a new place when you can’t see or hear very well, can be very stressful. Especially for dogs suffering from dementia. Getting out of her familiar routine and having to adjust to a new place can create an anxious, pacing, dog. To try and help her, I always bring along her favorite bed. I try to put this bed away from all the activity going on so she has a quiet location she can claim as her own. If she were better about being crate trained, I would bring her crate along and just have her hang out in her crate in a new place. I’ve cut back on a lot of the places I house/pet sit as it’s too stressful for her, and instead try and only take her places with me that she knows well.

Take a Cue From Motel 6

And leave the light on for them. Stella used to get up and walk into things when she was trying to find her water bowl. After a night of this, I went out and purchased a night light. Now, Stella follows the light and has no problem finding her water bowl. In new places, I leave a stronger light on for her since she won’t be as familiar with where she is going. It seems to have made a huge difference in her anxiety level. I also think this is key for dogs with dementia, especially if the pacing and staring happens primarily at night.

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They May Need to Go Out More Frequently

This one probably seems pretty obvious. But it took an accident in the house for the first time in 11 years for me to realize my senior dog Montana couldn’t hold her bladder for 6-7 hours anymore. With Stella, I try to get her our every 4-4.5 hours during the day, and she usually sleeps 7-8 hours at night without an issue. However, she’s quick to let me know that even if it’s snowing and 5am, she still needs to go out. I limit her evening water intake if possible, or try to get her drinking around 6-7 pm rather than 9-10pm.

They May Not Want to Go for a Walk

Stella loved nothing more than running and running and running some more when she was young. Even these days, she loves bombing around the barn, helping me bring June in from her paddock. But other times, she has zero desire to go for a walk. She wants to go potty and go back inside. And that’s ok. I let her dictate what she wants to do, rather than me sticking to a plan. I let her be the control freak, rather than me. Or, I try at least.

Getting Old is Hard for Them, Too

It’s hard for us to see our dogs age. The once crazy puppy who now spends 90% of its time sleeping can be a hard transition to experience. Stella has always been an independent dog who never needed my help. But that’s changed now. She needs my help going up the stairs. She needs my help to soften her kibble prior to eating it. She relies on me for so many things now. I know she doesn’t love it when I help her up the stirs. I know she would rather not need to be leashed when it is dark out because she can’t see her way. So, I try to honor who she was by still giving her as much independence as possible. If there are steps she can go up and down, I let her. I praise her like crazy for taking a few steps at a run. I pretend I’ve just walked into the house when she doesn’t wake up until I have been there for a good 5 minutes. I try to be my most patient self at all times because deep down, I know that taking a minute or two longer to get up isn’t happening because it’s what she wants, it’s happening because it’s all she can do.

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We still spend time on top of mountains so she can feel the wind in her fur PC: Nate Liles

So give your senior pup a kiss and enjoy every single moment you have with them. They sure deserve it!

 

 

 

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Fraggle Friday: Stella Update, 7 Months Post Surgery

It’s been just over 7 months since I made the decision for Stella to have back surgery. Am I glad I made the decision I did? Absolutely. While the fact that she most likely has a brain tumor is devastating, I have to say she had an incredible summer swimming and getting out and about. And while she has slowed down a bit with the colder weather, she still seems no worse for wear. Now, remember, she’s 15 years old. So she spends her time doing a lot of this:

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She rarely cuddles with Siri so this was actually pretty magical

But when she is awake, she is eating well, eager to go for walks and when we get to the barn, one of her favorite places, she runs around like a banshee

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Yay walks!

Obviously, every day with her is a treasure, especially since I am not positive we will have a lot more of them.

But for now, I’m excited to see report that she is doing great and seems to be enjoying life to its fullest. Just like we all should be!

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One of my dogs has no shame in front of our foster dog…

 

 

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Fraggle Friday: Besties

Siri is one of those dogs who really, really, likes other dogs, but she is so submissive that sometimes dogs aren’t so nice to her. But, when she finds a dog who doesn’t care about pack order, they immediately become friends. And if they want to play like crazy? Even better!

Lucky for Siri, one of my regular pet sitting gigs is for a dog who fits the bill perfectly. Emmett is about 3 years old, and a Husky who loves EVERYONE. He’s from the humane society I work at, and he has more energy than any dog I have ever met.

But that’s ok, because he and Siri play and play and play.

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This is actually two very happy dogs playing….

And when they aren’t playing, he’s bounding through fields at sunset

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Honestly, he really never stops moving. Unless I ask him to pose for pictures.

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Meanwhile, Siri, who just can’t keep up with him, happily poses for a photo or two.

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PC Nate Liles

When they are home, they insist on laying together. Touching. Always touching.

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It’s fun to see Siri play so hard and have positive interactions with another dog. But as much as I love having Emmett around, I think Stella and I  are both always a bit relieved when he goes home and our house is nice and quiet again.

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Fraggle Friday: Stella Update!

Poor Stella, she just hasn’t gotten the blog attention she deserves.

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To be honest, in the last few weeks, she has really slowed down. More sleeping, less enthusiasm about going for walks.

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It could be she is less enthusiastic to go for a walk when the weather is crap, but she looks so cute in her raincoat shouldn’t she want to show it off?

She still sleeps through the night, as long as you consider night to be over by 4:30 or 5am. The good news is, if she does get up this early, I let her out to potty, she comes back in and goes right back to sleep. So, naturally, I do too…

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She and my cat, Bunny, sleep together like this every night

She really can’t see at all. Especially in the dark. She can see things right in front of her, but that’s about it. Her hearing is hit or miss, she seems to be able to hear high-pitched whistles, but often doesn’t hear me when I come home and I need to make some noise to wake her up.

So, essentially, she’s old.

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Another raincoat pic. This time in the sleet…. ugh

But besides getting older, and the difficulties associated with that, she’s doing pretty well! Walking and hop/running, no more seizures, and she is just as opinionated as ever.

So, naturally, I am just trying to enjoy every moment of it.

 

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Fraggle Friday: Stella’s 15th Birthday!

This past Wednesday was a very special day. So specia, in fact, that I deemed it a holiday and took the day off of work. It was, you guessed it, Stella’s 15th birthday!

I had major plans for the monkey, I wanted to make sure it was a truly special day. I ended up doing an Instagram story chronicling the day which was really fun.

It started with a walk around the block.

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Then she had breakfast with a few extra treats thrown in, followed by a nap so Siri and I could go for a run.

Her favorite part of the day was probably what happened next…

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SWIM TIME!!!

After being thoroughly worn out playing fetch, she came home for another nap. And woke up just in time for her acupuncture appointment!

Basically acupuncture for Stella involves her laying on her bed gulping down treats while some needles go into her back. She’s pretty good at just laying there..as long as there are treats!

Then it was time for me to make the birthday cupcakes! A mixture of peanut butter, ground beef and lamb jerky, all her favorite things!

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When you’re 15 your birthday involves a lot of this…

Because, little did Stella know, she was having a surprise party! Sure, the surprise party was all my friends (she is over having dog friends stop by), but it was still fun and involved drinking mojitos and singing happy birthday!

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Siri was so excited that I made her a cupcake too!

At about 8pm Stella let me know she was totally over all of it, and wanted to go to bed. So my friends and I went to dinner and she went to bed, exhausted from all the activities.

I’d say it was a pretty great birthday and I am elated I got to spend another one with my best dog.

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Fraggle Friday: Stella + Idaho

Oh Idaho. Your beauty can makes me forget how crazy a state you really are.

I’m just going to photo dump a few reasons why I feel lucky to live here. (All photos taken in the past week, showing you how much beauty I can see in just a week)

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That’s a mountain goat. Doing his mountain goat thing while I am on a hike

 

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I feel like heaven must have a lot of alpine lakes, cause they sure are beautiful

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How I spent my Tuesday evening

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Smoke filled skies but it’s still quite the view

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Stella had to hike up a steep mountain side so we could get this pic. It was worth it, don’t you think?

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Fraggle Friday: Horse Show Dogs

Oh man was it lovely to take my best buddy Stella to a horse show with me again. I had forgotten just how good she is, and how much she enjoys it!

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I swear this is her “I’m so happy” face

Not surprisingly it took her a little longer to settle in and get used to the routine. Old dog dementia makes new places a little tougher. But by day two, if she knew where her favorite bed was, she was happy to lay down and watch the world go by.

Once the cross country course opened, and we could go walk to the pond, she was in her element. She literally sprinted to the water!

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I love having her with me and hope we can get another show in together.

What did surprise me, was how good Siri was on her first recognized horse show adventure where I brought a horse! I was kind of worried about what I would do with her all day, but she was great about being tied up, and loved hanging out in the air-conditioned living quarters when temps were in the high 90s.

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Soooo comfy

She made lots of friends and loved going on walks with June and I. I have to say, I think I have a really good horse show dog in the making!

And while I love bringing my dogs and try to be an uber responsible pet owner, this was the first show where I was surprised at how irresponsible people were being. There was dog crap EVERYWHERE. I’m not sure what was worse, the dog who crapped right outside June’s stall, where she stepped in it, or the dog who crapped right outside our trailer, and Sarah stepped in it. Not picking up after your dog is like one of the biggest sins IMO. Siri was “attacked” by one aggressive off leash dog, and we had multiple dogs come into our camp when our dogs were tied up, hanging out with us. Luckily, my dogs are super friendly, but those dogs learned not to mess with Sarah’s Dachshunds!

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I always worry a rule will be put in place that dogs aren’t allowed at recognized shows anymore so I am hyper vigilant about mine being good citizens. I was so annoyed at this last show that I walked around picking up other dog’s poop. (Do you have any idea how disgusting dog poop in a horse’s hoof is?)

Ok, so this will be the last negative post I have about that show, I PROMISE. All unicorns and sunshine here on out. And lots more fun times with my fraggle dogs!

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Fraggle Friday: Stella Milestones

Today marks two months from Stella’s first seizure.

When that seizure happened, I hoped I had one month, prayed for two months, with her. I heard brain tumors grew quickly, and 1-2 months was a reasonable prediction for how long she would have.

Stella had back surgery on April 10th. On that day I hoped she would make it through surgery and regain some mobility. I hoped she could walk on her own again. I never expected her to walk up stairs or run. At 14 years old, I kept my expectations in check for what this dog would be able to do.

But apparently I forgot it was Stella who had back surgery and a brain tumor. Stella, the dog who I joked, if she were a human, she would be a multi sport Olympian. This is not a dog who is going to sit around and let anything stop her.

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This photo was taken 7/13. Clearly she can run…. PC:Nate Liles

And, so, a summer of adventures began. And, because it was summer, our adventures have involved a LOT of time in the water.

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Amazing weekend trip to Stanley, Idaho. Stella hadn’t been in the water yet this summer, and I worried she would have trouble. She didn’t.

On this trip to Stanley, Stella realized she felt GOOD. She took off down a trail thinking that’s the way we were going. Bring that she is basically deaf, and totally independent, I ended up running after her down the trail for 5 minutes when it became clear she was not coming back to me.

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She’s still one of the strongest swimmers. Siri does her best to keep up

She still loves to play fetch, although sometimes she can’t actually see the stick once I’ve thrown it into the water…

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Ready to fetch!

And to be honest, some days are better for her than others. Yesterday she just wanted to sleep. It’s been hot and smokey so I pretty much feel the same way. I’ve stopped thinking “is this your last day?” every single day, and instead am just enjoying every single day we have together.

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Siri is really good at convincing Stella to cuddle

It’s been an incredibly fun summer with her, and I am so thankful I get to continue having her in my life!

 

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