Monday, April 28, 2014


                                            Photo by Stacie Knudtsen

I have tried writing this post a few different times.  No matter what I write, there's no way to put into words what Bess means to me.  And inevitably, it gets more personal than I feel like sharing. 

I did put together a video of pictures through the years.  The majority of it is chronological.  Towards the end of the video, things are a little out of order because I wasn't saving pictures in as meticulous of an order as I have previously, but it gets back in order.  After completing the file I realized that there were a bunch more pictures that I had left out.  Unfortunately, the way that I created the file, it wouldn't be quite so simple to just add them into the bunch, so I left things as is.

I started to put together a video of a variety of clips that I have of her through the years, but that became a VERY lengthy video and honestly, it became something that was only for me. 

Without further ado, here's Bessy:

And the eulogy that her breeder put together:  "It is with great sadness that I let everyone know of the passing of Lindsay's "Bess". Everyone who knew Lindsay and Bess, either in person or as a facebook friend, knew what a special bond those two had.

Bess came into Lindsay's life as an older puppy. Sired by Elizabeth's Diesel (who also, sadly, recently passed over to the Rainbow Bridge) and out of Metta and Karl's Abby, she was sold as a puppy into a home. However, even though the home said they were ready for a puppy, they were NOT ready for Bess! She was returned to me at about 16 weeks of age, and it was evident in the first five minutes that they a) had not done ANYTHING with her and b) she was a wild child!

Because Bess was truly one of my "Great Dane versions of a border collie", she needed a special home; one that could deal with her high energy, prey drive, and also focus all that energy by giving her a job to do. I interviewed several homes--all wanted the couch-potato version.

NOT a good fit for Bess.

Finally, the perfect home-Lindsay with her love of outdoor activities and Danes. If anyone has visited her blog "Living With Big Dogs" you can see how active she is. Lindsay came and visited Bess and the rest is history. Lindsay accomplished much with Bess; many titles in performance events and nice wins in conformation events......but most importantly, a perfect home and a perfect fit for the two of them.

Sadly, that awful killer of Danes, bone cancer, struck swiftly, cutting Bess's life short and leaving a large hole in Lindsay's heart and home.

Sleep sweetly, silly girl. Only Lindsay truly understood your need for speed and now there will forever be only green fields to run in and rabbits to chase."

Monday, April 14, 2014


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.