Monday, April 14, 2014

Bess

Okay, here goes.

On Wednesday, April 2nd, Bess was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

On Thursday, April 3rd, the results of Bess' chest x-rays were back from the radiologist.  The cancer had already metastasized to her lungs.

On Thursday, April 10th, I let Bess go.
I love this dog.  I'm not really okay with using past tense for her right now.  At the time of her diagnosis I could not understand how someone so vibrant and full of life could get shafted like this.  And now I'm missing her happy, uplifting presence something fierce.

I cannot come up with the words to do her proper justice right now.  Her wonderful breeder put out a very touching eulogy of Bess.  When I've had a little more time to put together something more significant, I will share all of that.  For the moment, here's to my little crackhead for being such a fantastic part of my life.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Midget

You want to eat her face from that picture too don't you?;)  This is a difficult post to write, but it's gotta get done.  I have never felt more like a failure than I did earlier this year.  At the same time that Heffner was going through his surgery and difficult recovery from anesthesia, I called Ruthie's breeder to let her know that I couldn't do it any more.  Things just weren't working out with The Midget.  Because she's a reputable breeder, she took Ruthie back. 

Ruthie went from being in a home where there were a lot of people around a lot of the time to living with my ex husband and I.  Two people who worked full time and also had two giant dogs that were established in the house.  I knew this was going to be a transition for her and I was prepared, or so I thought, for the difficulties that potentially come with transitioning an adult dog into an established household.  At the time, I really thought my biggest hurdle was going to be Heffner.  He HATED her.  That first day I had serious doubts because he couldn't even stand the sound of her.  I had them on different floors of the house and any time she made a peep, it would set him off.  With time, a LOT of effort, and stubbornness on my part, as you've seen from this blog, all three dogs were able to coexist together.  Not only that, but Heffner and Ruthie could be loose in the house on the same dog bed together.  Now THAT seemed like quite the accomplishment!  I think I was so focused on making it work and maintaining the balance that I had found with all three dogs, that I was initially seeing certain things as just an annoyance.  But they were an annoyance that continued to build and not get better to the point that I just couldn't deal with it any more.

There were the constant accidents in the house.  I have never had a dog on SUCH a strict schedule as I did with Ruthie.  I literally could not take a shower and leave her loose in my house without coming out to find some sort of accident.  As soon as I got home for work, I'd rush all three dogs outside in the hopes that I could get her outside before she had an accident in her crate.  While all three were outside pottying, I'd quickly grab collar, leash, and dog coat for Ruthie so that I could quickly get her suited up and out on a walk in the hopes that it would prevent her from having an accident in the house.  I say quickly because it was not uncommon for her to start pooping while I was putting her coat on.  The regimen goes on and on.  Every day, every part of my time at home was centered around this dog and trying to maintain a happy balance that did not include cleaning poop or pee up from inside the house. 

Now add to that the screaming in the crate.  If I was lucky, I could sleep in until just past 7am.  That was her alarm clock regardless of how late I let her out to potty the night before.  I had some nights where I would be out with friends and not get home until after 1am (this was not often.  I'm getting old and staying up late is not my forte).  I'd let her out to potty and to have a break from her crate.  That did not reset the alarm clock.  There was still the blood curdling screaming at around 7 am.  There was the blood curdling screaming if I was trying to take a nap.  I couldn't leave her loose while I slept because there would be accidents to clean up.  But keeping her crated when she knew I was in the house was inexcusable.  The only way I was able to get relief was with a bark collar.  She was stubborn enough that she managed to scream her way through the first two out of five settings.  Even so, she would still periodically test the collar.  And the screaming was always there as I was putting the key in the lock upon getting home from work.  It came from inside the truck as I was unloading the big dogs for whatever outing I took all three on.  It happened during nail trimming (don't even get me started on that half hour weekly ordeal.  I seriously would start drinking before I did her nails in order to be able to work myself up to it).  And it happened during ear cleaning.  To the point where I've had neighbors look over my fence while I was cleaning her ears because they thought someone was getting brutally murdered in my backyard.  To be honest, there were times where I wouldn't have been surprised if I had the police knocking on my door letting me know that they had reports of domestic abuse from my residence.  It was bad.

There were other things as well.  She had burnt out two house/dog sitters because she took so much more effort to monitor than the two big dogs.  I just hit my breaking point where it seemed like no matter what I did and no matter how controlled I tried to keep the situation, it wasn't making a difference.  I hate that I couldn't figure out how to make it work, but ultimately that wasn't the complete problem.

Ruthie went back to her breeder about a week after Heffner's surgery.  Because she's been breeding frenchies for so long and has so much experience, there were things that she was able to pick up on that I had either missed or didn't think much of.  I chalked a lot of things up to Ruthie transitioning from a bustling household to one with two working adults and two giant dogs, to one with only one working adult who was trying to split her attention between three dogs.  Everyone knows that all dogs transition differently when going to a new home.  There are periods of adjustment.  I just kept thinking that this was what she was going through.  Ruthie had some degenerative neurological issues going on.  Potentially a brain tumor.  She was also losing sight in one of her eyes, which wasn't helping.  For these reasons and other issues going on, Ruthie's breeder decided it would be best for Ruthie, to let her go.

And yes, that's hard.  I felt like a failure for this little dog because I couldn't seem to figure out the perfect combination of whatever that worked for her.  And I also missed that there were health issues going on with her that were ultimately leading to some of the behavioral issues that I was seeing.  It sucks.  Life with Ruthie was not easy, but she was a hilarious and sweet little dog.  While there were trials along the way, there were also great moments.  Ultimately, I loved that little dog.  Here are a few parting shots of the Almighty Midget:



Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Heff


In my last post, I alluded to some stressful things going on at that time.  I realized now that if I don't start writing the posts that I've been meaning to write, I might as well just take the blog down, because I know I wouldn't pick it back up.  I will start by saying that I realize that I am very fortunate.  Don't get me wrong.  I have my health, I have a steady job that pays my bills (at least the anticipated ones), I have a roof over my head, and most of all, I have my wonderful dogs.  With that being said, this year has been rough.  To the point that there is going to be a very pissed off post that I plan on writing once I'm all caught up.  The universe is a bitch, and right now, it can go fuck itself.

I mentioned in a previous post that Heffner had a tumor on his back leg that had become problematic.  After a week of solidly wearing the cone of shame except while eating and while out walking or hiking, the tumor was no better.  It wasn't even really scabbing over and would very easily start to bleed again.  While I had become skilled at jerry rigging a dressing on this tricky spot, the dressing wasn't going to cut it indefinitely.  So I scheduled the appointment for Heffner to see the vet and get us all booked for the inevitable tumor removal.  The tumor removal surgery just happened to be the same day as the start of the Snowpocalypse.  It took me over an hour and a half to go the less than four miles from work to the vet clinic to pick him up after his surgery.  I'm incredibly thankful that the clinic staff were willing to stick around until I got there to pick my  poor guy up.  I'm also thankful that the route back to my house was almost completely clear and we made excellent time. 

The surgery went well.  Two tumors were removed.  One of which I had no doubt was a fatty tumor.  The other was the bothersome tumor.  Both tumors were removed with nice clean margins all the way around and were sent off to the pathologist.  Meanwhile, Heffner was having a rough time recovering from the anesthesia.  It was a full 48 hours after the surgery before he was fully recovered.  Because of the location of the tumors, he needed assistance getting up and down and couldn't walk far at all without help.  That first night, when I finally felt he was steady enough to take him outside to relieve himself, he ended up sitting in the snow to pee.  Supporting him while allowing him to pee was tricky and I hovered while he figured out how to go about it.  For numerous reasons, I hope that this is the last anesthesia that my boy will have to experience.  It was just too rough on him afterwards. 

Once the surgery was over and I had him safely at home, a little bit of my stress let up.  Now everything was out of my hands and I just needed to wait for the results to be back.  The tumor that we had thought was a fatty tumor was in fact, a fatty tumor.  Yay!  The bothersome tumor turned out to be a malignant nerve sheath tumor.  Yes, that's right, the scary malignant word.  While the tumor was cancer, it was probably the most ideal type of cancer to have.  This type of tumor does have a chance that it will come back.  However, it's just as easily removed again.  These types of tumors also don't usually metastasize.  So basically, removing the tumor potentially permanently solves the problem.  Ahhhhhhhhh!  I really love the sound of that. 

Heffner's further recovery after that went smashingly.  I actually only had to keep the cone on him for a few days after surgery.  I started giving him bouts of time without it while I was able to observe him and he didn't even lick at his sutures.  Apparently removing the tumor removed the irritation for him and I have a happy boy again. 

Now that I'm well past this, it all seems quite minor and it's hard to think that I was so stressed out about something so relatively minor that had such a great outcome.  At the time, it was wretched.  Since then, things have been put into stark contrast for me.

Two more updates to come.  For now I'm going to go sit on the couch and soak up some precious snuggle time with my pooches.  I hope this post sees everyone out there doing well.  Hug, squeeze and soak up the love that you have around you, in whatever form it may take.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snowpocalypse 2014

Just in case you've been living under a rock, there's this crazy, nasty thing going on this winter called a polar vortex.  I won't even try to explain what's going on, but the effects are more than unpleasant.  We had one week plus of painfully cold temperatures in our area (much colder than the norm, though not nearly as cold as some parts of the country were/have been getting) back in December and I kind of thought that was all that we were going to see.  After all, this area is pretty moderate on weather normally.  Well, apparently the polar vortex isn't done.  Now enter Snowpocalypse 2014. 

The snow started falling on Thursday the 6th and has continued intermittently since then with the addition of freezing rain yesterday evening.  Before the icy crap came to rain on my parade (I know, stellar pun), I had over a foot of snow at my house.  Keep in mind, the one inch of snow that we usually get once a year is enough to shut down the entire city of Portland and surrounding areas.  Schools get closed, people get sent home from work (if they "make it in"), life as we know it comes to a screeching halt.  For one inch of snow.  Now imagine the chaos from more than that.  This area is just not equipped, and understandably so, to handle maintaining road ways and everything else under this kind of load.  There aren't enough snow plows, gravel, or other supplies or personnel that are needed just to keep the main roads clear.  When you combine that with people who literally lose their sh*t at the sight of this white stuff, and yet still try to drive; it makes for quite unpleasant conditions.  There were people stuck on the major freeways for hours on the first day.  To the point where people were just giving up, getting off at the nearest exit, and hunkering down in a hotel.

Meanwhile, I live relatively close to work, don't mind driving in the snow, have a reliable vehicle with four wheel drive (and carry chains just in case), and had the realization a couple months ago that I should start building up the food in my pantry in case of any natural "disasters" so that I would be okay hunkering down in my house for a little while and not run out of food.  All these things came together for a relatively stress free Snowpocalypse for me and the pooches.  There was one minor blip on the radar on Thursday afternoon while the initial snow panic was happening, but that's a story for another blog post. ;)  All-in-all, it's been a kind of fun time.  I feel guilty admitting that since I know it's been a rather stressful time for a lot of people, but I've been fortunate to be in a good place for this to happen.  Now on to the pictures and video!!

There wasn't much to report on Thursday and I pretty much didn't take any pictures.  I was a little stressed out that day and was just happy to have all of my dogs safely at home with me.  Again, the stressful part is a story for another post.  Friday I was more happy to sit back and enjoy how pretty the snow was and actually start capturing the moment.  I did work a mostly normal shift that day.  And I have to admit, it's incredibly peaceful to be at work when there's a minimal staff around.  I was able to get a lot accomplished because I didn't receive hardly any email and there wasn't a lot to coordinate or questions to answer.  It was bliss!  I took a video of the dogs going out to potty in the snow that had accumulated at that point, once I got home from work.  The weather had been so dry that the snow was really powdery and light.  I had to sweep the area outside the garage door clear enough for Ruthie to venture out because she put the brakes on REAL fast when I opened the door and she saw what was waiting for her.  Heffner is also a little under the weather in the video, so Bess is the only one actually enjoying the snow.

She may be almost 7, but my crackhead still knows how to live it up! :)

Saturday (the 8th) was when the real fun began!  I only worked a half day and got to come home and really enjoy the snow!  First I snapped some pictures of the dogs in the back yard:

Bess was in some serious need of exorcising, so I slapped on my snowshoes and we headed to the fairgrounds near my house.  The area was not surprisingly vacant of people and I was pretty sure there weren't going to be any city personnel patrolling and ticketing for a dog off leash in this weather. ;)  The result was this:
Let me tell you, that was a heck of a workout!  I usually snowshoe along trails that have been "groomed" by snowmobiles.  This was virgin powder that I was tromping through.  It was WORK! 

Once Bess was sated enough to be alright hanging out at home, I swapped out my snowshoes for my beloved cross country skis!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cross country skiing!  And to be able to do it right out my front door??  Heaven!!
I toodled around my neighborhood, around the fairgrounds, and then headed off along one of the main roads.  It was cool just to be able to say that I went skiing down Cornell. ;)  Mind you, I stayed well away from the road.  The other unfortunate part about snowfall like this is that pedestrians seem to think that it's okay to start walking out in the actual road because the snow is packed down.  They seem to have a death wish or not fully understand that these conditions mean that vehicles cannot stop on a dime nor easily avoid them when they're walking IN THE ROAD.  Biggest pet peeve about the weather is stupid pedestrians with a death wish.  Accidents have been caused by vehicles trying to avoid people on foot in the road.  I could continue to rant on, but I should stop. ;)

After my little skiing jaunt, I got ready to batten down the hatches for the impending freezing rain.  Last night the layer of ice that accumulated wasn't so bad.  This morning, it's rather unpleasant.  I'm incredibly thankful that one of the technicians at work lives within walking distance and was able to make it in today and take care of things.  I owe her BIG TIME!!  I'm actually putting booties on the big dogs' feet when I turn them out so that they don't cut up their feet.  Ruthie has become the master of peeing as soon as all four feet hit the ground and then running back inside.  Lets not talking about the pooping.....oy!  My big plans for the day include blogging (check!), watching movies, and doing some exercise videos since going hiking is out of the question.

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm where ever you are!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Picture Time!

It's picture time!  And because I was complaining about it just yesterday, lets start with the public shaming of my beloved Heffner. ;)  The Cone of Shame has been a smashing success.  At times, this has been literally.  Heff hasn't figured out how to get the cone off, but he has learned that he can use it as a battering ram.  And this is VERY effective when he wants attention.  As it turns out, it's even more effective than when he wasn't wearing The Cone and would head butt my arm.  Here's the picture:

Awwwwww, he's so freaking cute even when he's been driving me crazy!  Wouldn't it be cute if I got a little video clip of him with The Cone on??  Oh wait, I did!

And now for the onslaught of pictures that I've managed to pull off my phone from roughly the past two months.  Here goes!

Of late, Ruthie has been seeking out attention from Heffner.  And even stranger, he's been tolerating her!

I know, ridiculously adorable!

For more cuteness factor, The Almighty Midget doing some cuddling on the couch:


The other night I was sitting at my desk eating some left over pizza when I got the very distinct feeling that I was being watched.....







Random hiking pictures, because we are still religious about getting in at least one hike each week, regardless of weather.






Sometimes I'm able to get my phone out without disturbing the dogs and capture little moments that seriously melt my heart.





No one's really a fan of sharing space with Ruthie when she's a little on the gassy side.





Random sleepy cuteness!


I seriously fell in love with my Christmas tree this past year.  Hands down, best tree yet!  I named her Baby.  She was so full that she took up most of the living room without trimming any branches.  I had to trim her up and stick her in the corner so that the living room was useable.  Which made think of Dirty Dancing and "nobody puts Baby in a corner."





And random cuteness!




I am a very lucky gal to have these guys in my life!!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

They Drive Me to Drink

As I'm sitting at home this morning, waiting for PetSmart to open so that I can go buy Heffner the Cone of Shame, I figured that I should sit my absentee blogger butt down and write a post. ;)  There's not a ton to update about the dogs, so, since I was in a pretty foul mood yesterday and am still a little on the grouchy side this morning, I'm going to explain why my dogs drive me to drink at times.  Please don't be confused and think that I otherwise don't enjoy alcoholic beverages!  I very much do.  It's just that there are times when the dogs do things, not out of malice, that cause me to want to bludgeon something.  I have found it to be far more productive to channel that rage into pouring myself a very generous glass of something yummy that tends to put things into perspective for me.  It also chills me the hell out. ;)  Without further ado, I shall explain my day yesterday.

It all started at about 1:30am Monday night/Tuesday morning.  One of my smoke detectors had a battery that was dying so it started making that horrific, high pitched noise.  I may be a heavy sleeper, but even I will eventually get woken up by it.  Once I figured out which one it was I casually tried to get to the battery.  Long story short, I had to use a pair of needle nose pliers and a screw driver in order to get the "easy" slide hatch open to change the battery.  Mean while, the noise that the smoke detector makes when the battery needs to be changed absolutely unnerves Bess.  I have no idea why.  Doesn't phase the other two, but she will literally stand there violently shaking because it bothers her so much.  I'm sure that my cursing and thrashing things around in the garage to find the tools didn't help matters any.  Once the battery was changed, I set about settling Bess down.  By this time she was stress panting.  Poor chica.  She calmed down after a bit and I headed off to bed.  Translation:  Lindsay is starting her day at a deficit on sleep.

My day at work was actually quite mellow and a pretty good day.  Everything went as it should and I was able to work on a little side project that I have going.  A pretty good day!  I was a little tired despite my caffeine infusion, but so what.  Then I get home.  Walk in the door and like usually Heffner and Bess excitedly greet me and Ruthie is screaming bloody murder at me from her crate.  All seems normal.  Until I'm setting my stuff down on the dining room table, turn around and Heffner has a steady stream of blood flowing down one of his back legs and splattering all over the kitchen floor.  GAH!!  Here's where I need to take a sidebar.

Heffner has this ugly fatty tumor on his back right leg that has been steadily growing over the last few months.  He managed to rub all the hair off of it and over the past few weeks keeps licking at it.  It hadn't been a huge bother.  I planned to have it removed eventually and it looks like the hair is actually starting to grow back on it.  Except for one portion of it that he just won't stop periodically licking.  Now back to the blood bath, I mean story.

I grab a paper towel, get him to hold still, and apply pressure to the tumor to get it to stop bleeding.  Which takes a little while.  Meanwhile, Ruthie is seriously PISSED that she's still in her crate.  The big dogs are clearly getting all of my attention, she hasn't been let out of her prison (btw, her crate is roughly the size you would put a golden retriever in, so it's not like she's stuck in a crate that's appropriately sized for her) and she needs to go potty!!  I keep meaning to get her screaming routine on video so that I can share it and everyone who hasn't lived with a frenchie can fully understand the murderous sounds that they are shockingly capable of.  Needless to say, it was further fraying my nerves.  Oh yeah, and she decided that then was a good time to poop in her crate.  Super.

The bleeding finally stops.  I get all three dogs outside to pee and start cleaning up all the blood that is splattered on the floor.  I did briefly think about taking a picture of the carnage on the floor, but that was before I found out where Heffner was when the bleeding started.  That'd be on the couch.  Because the couch I have is made out of a material that isn't suitable for anyone who has any pets (or actually uses their couch for that matter), I keep the couch covered with various blankets in an effort to get it to last a little longer before I replace it.  The blanket in the area where he had been laying was just trashed.  I won't go into details, but blood bath is a very good descriptor. 

Once I finally got all of the blood cleaned up, found my various bandaging supplies and got all the dogs inside so that I could make an attempt at covering up Heffner's tumor.  I thought I did a fairly decent job and was pretty proud of myself!  Until he tried to lay down and I realized that bandaging that back leg while he was standing up gave me a different perspective than when he was laying down.  Arg!  I loosened things up in a few areas and decided to just see how long that bandaging stayed on for.  I also put the inflatable Elizabethan collar on him.  I'm a huge fan of that collar as opposed to the hard plastic style.  It's worked well on both danes in the past and I was hopeful that it would work now.  It sort of did.  I redid the dressing before I went to bed and was hoping for the best. 

By the time my alarm went off, Heffner had managed to get the primary dressing off, but the underlying bandage was still intact.  I was hopeful that maybe he would tolerate the minimal bandage and just leave things alone.  I went for my morning run with Bess and came back to an irritating boy dog who had managed to get the bandage off and clearly had been licking at the tumor again.  Even with the freaking inflatable collar on!  ARG!!  Okay, fine.  I gave him several chances and I tried to play nice.  That boy obviously just really wants to wear the Cone of Shame.  Only I somehow must have left the one I already had at the old house.  Super.  Which brings us up to the current time.  I'm sitting here waiting for PetSmart to open so that I can go buy him the stupid collar and he can hopefully leave that freaking tumor alone long enough for it to actually heal and I don't have to come home to blood every where and be in a bad mood for two nights in a row. (do you like that run on sentence??)  And naturally, since I got back from my run with Bess, he's totally behaved himself and been lying on the couch, not even attempting to lick at his tumor.  Little turd.

And all of THAT is how a bottle of wine got magically opened last night and my rage monster got temporarily put to sleep. ;)

I have several pictures of the dogs to share, so I think my next post (which will hopefully be along in the next few days) will be mostly pictures.  I did at least include our Christmas card picture from this past Christmas. :)  I hope everyone is doing well in the new year!




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bess Update


Bessy has had a pretty good run of luck in the competition ring of late. :)  On September 20th we traveled up to Shelton, WA for the Great Dane Club of Western Washington's annual double specialty.  I had been going back and forth on whether I should enter Bess in veterans or not.  I was planning on going up anyhow to watch the show and socialize, but couldn't decide if I wanted to also have to worry about a dog of my own.  With encouragement from Bess' breeder, I decided to enter her in veterans.  And it was a good thing that I did!  Bess won the veteran bitch class for both specialties!!  Not only that, but in the am specialty, the judge put her up for Select Bitch!!  I was ecstatic!!  I will admit that I think Bess being a bit of her crazy self in the class was in our favor.  I had been getting her a little amped up in the class and on the down and back she decided to get a little frisky.  The judge had us redo our down and back.  At the end of going back around the ring, I let her let off some steam and she got pretty sassy with me, but in a not so bad way.;)  The judge jokingly commented that she acted like she should be in the 6-9 puppy class and not the veterans class.  I also opted to pretty much just free stack her and not nit pick with hand stacking.  She stacks quite nicely on her own and I can tend to over do it when I futz with her. 

Some of you may be wondering what going Select Bitch means point wise and how that's possible.  Bess is spayed.  The only way that I can show her in conformation is in the veterans class.  Only specialties have veteran classes.  A dog or bitch winning the veteran class is eligible for any of the placings other than Winners Bitch or Winners Dog.  A few years back a brindle bitch took Breed from the veterans class at this same specialty.  She also happened to be a relative of Bess'.  From a points perspective, it doesn't mean anything for Bess, unfortunately.  She's not finished and the points for Select Bitch or Select Dog go towards a Grand Championship only.  Which means, no points for Bess, but still VERY awesome for her regardless! 

This past weekend, the obedience club that I belong to hosted an obedience trial.  I stewarded on Saturday for part of the day.  I was doing the Zombie Apocalypse Run that evening.  And on Sunday, Bess and I made a more honest foray into the Novice ring.  For the past while I have been focusing on finding ways to reinforce Bess in the ring and get a happier working dog, without using food inside the ring.  With the fantastic help of our instructor, we have made a lot of headway.  It's been a slow process, but we're getting there!  We've entered the Novice ring before and each time has been quite disappointing.  This time around I felt like we were actually ready.  Our focus is more on accuracy than precision.  Did she give me a front?  Yes.  Was it crooked or less than perfect?  Yes, but it was technically a front.  Am I okay giving up some points on crooked sits in favor of having a dog who doesn't look like she's just been beaten?  You betcha!  Our refocusing on what is more plausible for us as a team, while increasing the positive experience of being in the ring has made all the difference!  I am getting to the point where I have a very enjoyable partner in the ring, and that's the important part right now, and may stay that way for the duration of my time in the competition ring with Bess. 

Getting around to the point, Bess and I qualified for our very first Novice leg with a score of, I believe, 187!:)  She also won her class!!  We were in the Novice A class, which was a smaller class, but I'm thrilled all the same.  I did go a bit over the top on praise and keeping her "up" in between exercises and the very end of our run.  But it was such a better feeling than we've had previously, that I couldn't help but let her know how fantastic I thought she was.  Overall, it was a great first leg to get and I'm looking forward to more runs that are just as positive, though maybe I'll tone the partying down a little bit. ;)

So there you have it.  Miss Bess has been a sexy super star over the past few weeks and I'm very proud of her.