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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gastrointestinal pyrotechnics

Dear Heidi,

I decided to make your green veggie mix, because its been so long since you've both have had it. I added: a tomato, green pepper, zucchini, summer squash, a cucumber, green beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and romaine lettuce. It made a great mix that scooped easily into the mini muffin pans that we use to freeze it for future meals. However, when I went to to feed it to you with your Orijen, you weren't very happy. You ate it, but reluctantly. I decided to use what was left (that wouldn't fit in the pans for freezing) until it was gone. You decided not to eat at all last night, walking away from your bowl completely.

I remember speaking to the animal communicator who told me that you didn't like the green mix. But you always ate it. Its good for you, to get fresh veggies, fruit and meat with your kibble. Just the other day I added ground lamb into your food. But you still wouldn't eat last night, even after I explained that it was good for you. So I tried adding cottage cheese. That, thankfully, seemed to do it. You ate it, anyways...even if you didn't eat the whole thing. Shelby polished the rest of it off for you. SHE doesn't mind the veggies...SHE doesn't care WHAT she eats!!

But maybe I made a mistake making you eat it. Because at 4:00 this morning, we woke up to a surprise. Ginny got up and found small droplets of diarrhea all over the kitchen and bathroom floors. I had a feeling it was you because you hadn't been enthused about eating...even thought I picked up a normal poop when we went for our night time walk. I checked your bummy and it WAS you. You poor thing, you had poo all over you and it was clear you were going to need a tubby to get it all off. Great. Just what we both wanted to be doing at 4:00 am.

I gave you the tubby, and you were good to go. I also gave you two slippery elms to try and calm your belly. Apparently those didn't work for you though, because you just came in with a small amount of bloody diarrhea on your bummy again. Luckily I could get this off with some paper towels, and you didn't need a second tubby (thank doG). But now I feel terrible...was it the veggies and cottage cheese? Was it the lamb the other day? Are you just not feeling well, and maybe caught a bug?

I know how you feel, because I have IBS myself. That feeling is not fun. I wish I could make you feel better. If it continues, we'll go to the doctor and try and figure it out. I'm sorry you're not feeling well, and mom will try and make you better. Your spirits are still up, and you still want to play, which are all good signs. I hope you continue to do well, and will keep trying to make you feel better.

I love you, and hope you feel better.
All my love, xoxo

**Amendment:
Shelby started with vomiting tonight after dinner. She threw up about 7 times in 45 minutes, and got to the point that she could not keep down the meds I gave her (pepcid and slippery elm) nor the water she drank. I called the vet who suggested I fast her for the rest of the night and see how she does in the morning. Then she went outside and had a very hard time pooping. When she came in, she had the runs on her back end. I cleaned her up and shes been resting since. I don't know whether they caught a doggy bug, the green veggies aren't sitting well or if it was the raw lamb I gave them the other day... in any case, I feel so bad for them, and am anguishing at the fact I could have caused this. I'll keep the blog updated when I know more, but for right now, they've just got to rest....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Neighborhood walks

Dear Heidi and Shelby,

I'm so glad that we live in an actual neighborhood. I missed it so much when we moved from our condo in Dracut to the house in Methuen. The house obviously had its own yard, but it was on a very short street that connected to a very busy one. If we wanted to walk, we had to drive to one of our favorite destinations: Livingston fields in Tewksbury, Winnekenni Castle in Haverhill, the farm (woodsom farm) in Amesbury or the beach. Not that this was a bad thing...we still love going to all of those places for a quiet scenic walk (when its not tick season). But if I was running low on gas, or if it was getting late in the day (especially when it starts to get dark early) we would have to skip our walks all together and find something else to do...usually ending up playing frisbee in the yard.

But now we have the best of both worlds. We can drive to any of our favorite spots, (well, when the cooler weather gets here) or we can just walk up our street and around the neighborhood. Its not a long walk, only about 20 mins or so, but it is a nice walk for you too. Especially when the weather is a bit warm and sticky, like it was tonight. The pavement doesn't get hot because of all the trees bordering the streets from all the yards. Its also nice to see all the different houses that make up our little neighborhood. There are some neighbors that we can always count on seeing on our walks too. Usually they're the ones with the dogs...and they're the ones who are the most friendly towards us.

Of course we always walk with baggies so I can pick up any "deposits" you leave along the way...which are inevitable. I don't know what it is about pooping in someone elses yard, but you girls cant help but do it. I think you're secretly thinking its dangerous, or taboo or something. You guys are trying to be Sheltie rebels and show the world how bad-ass you are. Well, its never a big deal unless you do it in our neighbors yard. We've already had the dog officer called twice on us because you and your cousins cant magically tell where the yard borders are. The guys a shmuck. I remember playing frisbee with Heidi in the front yard and it accidentally went into his yard. The guy actually came charging out of his house and told me to get you off his property. Seriously? It was a mistake. You weren't "assuming the position" and getting ready to drop a load. You stepped over the property line by accident to go after your toy. Give me a break.

Luckily all of our neighbors aren't as anal, and most up and down the street have dogs of their own. This one guy just happens to be the bad apple out of the bunch. But beyond him, I love walking you in the neighborhood. It just is so nice to get out of the house either early in the morning when Ginny goes to work, or later in the day after dinner. I think it relaxes us all, and makes us sleep a little bit better after some exercise. The fresh air does us all good.

So lets keep walking. Lets walk our neighborhood as often as we can and make it a ritual that benefits us all. Its important to stay active, now that you girls are in your senior years. And where we cant always get to one of our favorite walking places for one reason or another, it helps that we have this other option. I love our walks together, and hope they last for a long, long time.

For now, rest my babies. It was a warm night tonight and I know the walk wore you out. So get some sleep, and I'll see you tomorrow.
xoxo

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Meet the girls!

Dear Heidi and Shelby,

Today I updated your blog to allow you to each have your own page! Now when people click on your names at the top of the blog, the link will take them to your Dogster pages where they can read all about you-your likes, dislikes and your stories. Ive always wanted to make you pages, but never got around to doing it. This is a great way to introduce people who read your blog to each of you. I promise I'll be more on top of updating your pages too.

Now people will feel like they know you a little bit better...and get to know how extra special you babies really are!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

So busted...

Dear Shelby,

You, my dear, are so busted. I put some lunch in the microwave the other day, and so had to take the can of cat food out. We buy the big 12oz cans because they last 3 meals, and we keep it in the microwave to prevent the cats from eating it all. So anyways, I guess I left the can on the stove under the microwave and forgot to place it back where it belongs.

Needless to say, I got up to do some laundry a few hours later and found an EMPTY, LICKED CLEAN can with, and I couldn't believe this, PUNCTURE HOLES in it!!!! It appears as though one of the cats knocked the can onto the floor where one of you four dogs proceeded to eat not only the food, but the can! Well...we didn't know who had done it at first, but we had our suspicions.

We figured it was you because, well, you'll eat any food in any form.You're the only dog Ive seen eat lettuce, whole blueberries, bananas, raw meat and bones etc. We call you the garbage disposal because we haven't found a food yet that you wont eat. Where other dogs will turn their nose up at something or spit it out because of the texture, you will eat it...no questions asked, no chewing required.

The really nice thing about you though, is that you don't eat things that aren't actually food. Where your sister still eats socks and underwear at 10, and where the cats will make off with things made of plastic or string, you stick to food items only. It makes me feel much better that you at least wont end up with a foreign body...

So although we suspected you, there wasn't enough evidence to convict. Or so we thought. Tonight when you decided to get lovey with me, I noticed something odd about your face. You seem to have brown smeared into your white fur! The kind of smear job that would result from sticking your long, pointy, sheltie nose into a can of contraband. Yeah...we now know who we can point the finger at!

So I'm glad it was just cat food, and I'm glad after a long exam, you don't seem to have any broken teeth or torn up gums...you seem to have come away from this little adventure unscathed. Maybe next time you can exercise a little Sheltie control and walk AWAY from the can of cat food. Id blame the prednisone you are on for your skin, but I know that it would be a lie...you've always loved food!!

So my sweet Shelby, you are now busted. There is no punishment awaiting you, just a good face wash...

xoxo all  my love

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fun and Games

Dear Heidi and Shelby,

Did you know that I love your fun and games? I love how even at 9 1/2 and 10, you still love to play. Heidi, my favorite part of the day is when I'm sitting on the couch and you give me "the look". Shelties have a lot of "looks" (when they want to eat, when they want to go out, when you're disturbing them while they're sleeping...) but this look is different. you walk over to me with determination on your face, and a sparkle of mischief in your eyes. I ask "do you want a toy?" and you immediately set off to find one, usually your pink crinkle squeeky bone that you love so much. You love a lot of toys: your chuck-it with its squeeky tennis ball that we play with at the park, your frisbee flying squirrel...but your pink bone is your favorite. I remember buying it at the West Palm Beach airport on my way home from visiting my grandmother in Florida. I thought you'd like it and I was right. You took to it immediately!

You've been through a lot with your toys; pink bone has been put away and revived more times than I can count. And flying squirrel...well that's been to hell and back. Its been stuck on the roof, an apple tree at Dog Mountain in Vermont, and down almost the whole river at The Basin in New Hampshire. But squirrel always seems to make it (thank doG) and you generally take good care of your toys (squirrels mishaps usually come from bad throws by me!)

You even have special toys that we play with when we get to do agility. Because we only see these toys when you're working, they're EXTRA special...and you make the most out of the time you have with them.

I love taking you to the beach or lake and watching you do water retrieves. You never go in deeper than your chest, which warrants toy rescues by mumma so they don't get lost, but when you do get them you do it with gusto-sticking your whole nose in the water and grabbing it like the toys life depends on it. And I love finding new toys that you'll play with...like the new UFO toy we bring to the beach =0)

You, Shelby, on the other hand, really couldn't be bothered with toys. Sure, you'll play shuck-it and frisbee with you feel like it, but toys in the house you couldn't care less about. And forget it when we're at the beach. That's seagull chasing time! You're on patrol like David Hasselhoff on baywatch. Lord help any of those birds when they land on YOUR beach! The same goes for the farm-chasing small birds is almost as fun, and when the Canadian geese show up in the fall...its all over. You're like James Bond on a mission...nothing is going to stop you. Yet you maintain perfect recall and will stop on a dime if I give the softest call. You truly are amazing.

As much as I love all of this, all our playing, I wish we could do more. I'm so happy that you two are so active and happy at this age, but I wish I could do more with you. More games that you have fun with. I miss agility. I would love to try rally. And Shelby, you showed real aptitude for nosework at a clinic we went to...I would have loved to sign you up for it. Its ironic, how now that I'm out of work I have all the time in the world for all these things, but no money to support them. I think about going back to work to not only pay the bills but to get you back into these things that you enjoy so much. I wonder, do you miss them? Do you think about the things that you could be doing, and the opportunities that you're missing out on? I often think the same thoughts when I cant get you out...lately its been to hot for all of us to be outdoors enjoying our favorite walks and play. I think I can see the sadness and depression on your face when we cant go out. I just wish I could explain to you the reasons for being housebound,

I hope that your energy, spirit and willingness to play carries on into your golden years. I think it will help if we decide to go into therapy work. And I want you to know it puts a smile on my face every time a toy is picked up or a bird is chased. I love to see you happy and active and hope nothing changes anytime soon.

Good night my sweet girls. The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow, so maybe we can resume some of your favorite games then. Happy dreams, and lots of love....xoxo

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A rough day...

Dear Heidi and Shelby,

Today wasn't easy. It wasn't easy as I expected it to be anyways. I powdered the girls (finally) last night, but seemingly to no avail. I was still picking adult fleas off of them today...despite my best efforts. But today was the big vet appointment. I had high hopes that our wonderful vet would have some suggestions for us on how to get rid of this awful flea problem. As always, she didn't disappoint. She checked Shelby over and determined that she did indeed have a skin infection from the little buggers on top of their bites. This is why you were scratching yourself silly...and why your skin was red raw and had weeping pustules. I'm so sorry I waited so long...but I'm finding out the hard way that nothing lately is coming easy...

So you were sent home with some antibiotics and some prednisone for the infection; hopefully both meds combined will be enough to help stop the itchy scratchies. You're actually losing fur because your scratching your undercoat out. Again, I am so sorry for waiting so long. But my dear girls, Mom is finding out that not having money readily available anymore is forcing me to put many things on hold. Not just your care, but things like food...and the mortgage. Mom and auntie are so stressed out right now because we just cant seem to catch a break. Everything sort of fell apart when I stopped working just about a year ago...around the same time we bought the house. Things have been a struggle ever since. Not only are we not able to do the things that we used to enjoy for fun, but in basic necessities as well.

So we've had to be very careful with money. And I hate to say that this time, it actually affected your care. I will NOT let that happen again. I'll do what ever needs to be done to make sure that you both get the care you need AND deserve. I know it seems like I'm going overboard with this, but Ive watched you Shelby, be uncomfortable for too long. And it wont happen again. I promise and pledge to take care of things as soon as I see them before they become too much of a problem for you. Knowing that you had fleas should not have been an excuse for me delaying your care because I thought the itchiness was just due to their bites. Again, next time I will not wait...

Which brings us to the rest of the appointment. I had to get your kitty sister, Faiths, paw checked. She is a "Hemmingway" cat, which means she has extra toes...lots of extra toes. Well, she suddenly had this "thing" sticking out of two of her toes. At first I thought it was a bone and immediately got freaked out...especially once it looked infected. But today we just found out it was a freaky toenail that has now made its way all the way out through her skin and no longer seems to be an issue. So problem #2 down.

Problem # 3 (yes, I think our vet still likes us) was Heidi's teeth. I noticed a while ago while checking her teeth and gums that her lower gums are actually pulling AWAY from her incisors on the bottom. I mean, there is a big gap between tooth and gum when her lower lip is pulled down. The result is, she will eventually lose those teeth =0( they're already loose. At 10, I guess I can expect some dental problems, but didn't think they would be this severe. I hope she can keep them for a long time and they stay put. I don't want my baby losing anything before her time...not her energy, her mobility OR her teeth!

So after this whole fiasco of an appt. where I found out Shelby, you have a severe skin infection, and Heidi is going to lose her teeth, we are told that to take care of the flea problem we're looking at bombing the house, and buying LOTS of k9 and feline advantage to kill the fleas and their eggs. This is AFTER I just frontlined them last week. I was told it is safe to use both, but considering I'm not the type to use EITHER, I'm not a happy camper. Apparently frontline does nothing for fleas any more =0(  So tomorrow I'm going out to spend more money that we really don't have on flea treatments for 8 pets. I don't mean to sound like a complainer, I mean I took these guys on (the cats) knowing that they would need medical care. I just wish it didn't have to come when finances are already a struggle...

And finally, after our very long appt. at the vet, I came home and had another breakdown. I found myself crying uncontrollably again on the phone with my mom telling her how stuck I was. I know she would help if it was something that truly was an emergency, but she has really truly helped enough. Giving us thousands of dollars to help with the bills when I was really sick and in the hospital. Luckily I have an appt. with my therapist tomorrow, so hopefully I can get some of my stressors out. I don't want to lay all of the responsibility on my mom, Ginny, or my girls. I need someone else, removed from the situation, to talk to.

I have these set backs all the time, but they seem to be closer together. Hopefully the therapist will have some suggestions tomorrow so I don't end up back in the dark place. I cant leave you girls alone like that again...you are my stars in a blackened sky...I need the light to guide me.

I know this was a long letter, but it really was a long day. I hope we can all sleep well tonight, and tomorrow will bring more positivity and a brighter outlook for everything. Sleep well my babies. and I will see you in the morning.
xoxo

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A calling?

Dear Heidi and Shelby,

I have always had high expectations for you. Ive always wanted you to be well rounded, and able to show off your many talents-given to you by genetics (your breed) and how you were raised. I wanted to do it all-obedience, agility, rally and therapy dog work. But due to a lack of funds and talent (on my part) we haven't been able to do much. We spent a great year and a half in agility a few years ago, and you guys were really able to show your stuff; we never had an outing where we didn't place.

But due to Heidi's shoulder injury and numerous health problems on my part, we had to retire from AKC agility early. As for now, if we go back, we'll be involved with NADAC-allowing you to jump nice and low. But in the mean time (in the time it takes for me to get my health back and hopefully some money for competitions) Ive been thinking a lot about doing therapy dog work. You both are certified through TDI and passed your test with flying colors. You both seem to have a calling for it. Heidi, I knew you would be a natural-wanting to say hello to everyone, no matter what extra equipment (wheelchairs, canes etc.) people had, or how unique their situation was. They were a person, and you wanted to get your belly rubbed! Shelby, you came as a bit of a surprise. Being so much more active and energetic than your sister, you always seemed to have another job to do, other than saying hello to strangers (i.e. chasing seagulls at the beach). But in the nursing home setting where we took the test you really surprised me. Being very available to all who wanted to say hello and pet you. You stood quietly by someones side as they stroked you and asked me questions about you both.

I hemmed and hawed for a while now, not knowing if this was something that I could turn to as MY calling. I feel like I have wasted time by not getting you girls involved with this sooner, but my own fears and insecurities have gotten in the way. We had an experience recently though that made me rethink all of this and maybe want to give it a try. I took you guys to see my grandfather in his nursing home just last week. They were so friendly, just allowing you to come in with no questions asked. We rode the elevator on up, and entered his room. He was very excited to see you and pet you a little before I put you on his bed. There you laid, totally at ease and rested-getting attention when my grandfather or his wife would come over to reach you from their wheelchairs.

When we were going to leave, we were stopped several times not only by patients, but staff members as well. You both seemed to put a smile on every ones face whom you met. We were even asked to make a special visit to one young man who was a paraplegic...I lifted you up so he could see and pet you easier.

Ive thought alot about this visit, and I realized that it might just do me some good to get out. I know I cant work right now, but maybe volunteering is the way to go-to get out there and not spend all day at home cooped up in the house. I think a different venue might be more appropriate for us, and Ive been contemplating the VA hospital and Mass General where I get all of my treatments done. I'm going to make some calls tomorrow and see what I can find out.

I think this will be a new and exciting venture for us (if we can ever get this flea problem under control!!) and I look forward to working with you girls and spreading the joy that you give to me every moment of every day, to others.

So good night my babies, and sleep well. A vet appointment lies in store for you tomorrow to see if we can get these fleas under control and see if we can get Shelby's skin fixed. These little buggers are really making her suffer-covered and bites and red raw, she is constantly scratching. We'll have a better idea whats going on tomorrow.

Good night for now, and have sweet dreams. We'll have some more to think about tomorrow. I love you so much, xoxo