Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Grain-Free Dog Kibble: To Feed or Not To Feed. That is the Question

I have never purchased a “low-fat” or “no-fat” product in the grocery store because if the fat is taken out it has to be replaced with something else, and it’s probably chemical. That was my intuition speaking to me years ago and I paid attention.  

Why then, would I feed my dogs a grain-free diet? Adhering to the above logic the grain would also have to be replaced with something else. Like most people I got caught up in the hype that has taken over the dog food industry, and thought it was something good. My multiple dogs often have itchy skin that can’t be diagnosed without extensive allergy testing that may or may not identify the problem. So, it seemed reasonable that it could be the grain as suggested by the industry. The truth is, after several years of grain-free kibble my dogs are as itchy as ever especially in the spring and fall. The scratchy skin is cyclical and occurs around the change of seasons. I now think it is non-food related and has more to do with the environment. But, until recently it never occurred to me to put them back on grain.

The Current Rage
Consumers have been buying grain-free kibble for several years now. It’s actually hard to find a high quality dog food that has grain these days. We often equate high-quality with the price which may or may not be the case. I have recently read articles about the downside of a non-grain diet relating to the substitution products added when the grain is eliminated. I spoke to my veterinarian about this and her comment was: “grain is good.” Apparently veterinarians are beginning to see medical issues associated with the substitute products that are added to the kibble. These issues are heart related and can be serious.

I’m putting this out there as food for thought—no pun intended. We all want what’s best for our  four-legged beloved dogs. My advice is to research the pros and cons, read the ingredient labels, and talk to your veterinarian to determine the right choice for your dog. After doing just that,  we have made the decision to return to grain. 

Woof! Woof!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Moral to the Story

When TBTB Dog Camp hires a temporary dogsitter we look for someone that will be with us for awhile, not just a one time fly-by-night person looking to make some money. There is training required to care for multiple dogs, procedures to learn, and the dogs need consistency. In other words, they need to get to know the person caring for them in my absence. Dogsitters in the past have lasted well over a year, some longer. 

In November we hired a person living in Soldotna. She had all the right answers about dogs, seemed very efficient and always responded to me immediately, almost to the point of being too good to be true. The stereotype used car salesman was my initial impression of her. My instincts told me there must be another reason she wanted to come to Homer to do this, leaving her three dogs and husband in Soldotna over the holiday. She confided in me that it was the perfect reason to not have to be with her in-laws on Thanksgiving. She had also mentioned her desire to own a dog business such as TBTB so I assumed she wanted the inside scoop on how I did things and that was totally okay with me. I don’t mind sharing what I do and am not worried about competition. I did some reference checking and learned that ironically she and her husband had owned a car dealership in Soldotna. Her enthusiasm was contagious so I decided to go with her for a short stay over Thanksgiving.

Clients were mostly pleased with her, and except for the one dog that ran off and required getting the owner back to retrieve the dog thus losing the business, things appeared to go okay. When I returned after ten days, she was glowing about the dogs and how much she loved them all; gung-ho to do it again. That is, until I tried to reach her. 

Gone was the speedy response and initial aim-to-please attitude. Days went by without a response, and only after calling her on it did I get an apologetic, love-filled text wanting to negotiate the pay, gas allowance and various other perks. I agreed to pay her more and cover her gas for a big-ass truck to and from Soldotna. But again, when I tried to nail down travel dates she did not respond for several days. I suspected she was practicing her negotiation tactics on me without any intention of dogsitting again. A few days later I received another glowing text that reeked of bullshit, about how family was number one to her and she probably wasn’t going to be able to respond in the timely manner I was accustomed to, so it was best if she didn’t continue dogsitting at TBTB. I decided to cut my losses and move on without further discussion. This was early January.

On Sunday, February 11,  I noticed a truck parked at the top of my driveway and the dogs were doing their job at letting me know by running onto the deck and barking. I had found a lost dog earlier in the day and posted an ad on Facebook with my location. I thought maybe it was someone for that dog so I walked up the driveway, and was surprised to see it was the Soldotna dogsitter sitting in the truck. She rolled the window down and appeared really nervous, talking rapidly and directing my attention to the dog sitting next to her. Her husband was on the other side of their parked truck, blocking the trail the dogs and I usually walk on. I asked her if they were just hangin’ out and she said no, they were headed home. It was an uncomfortable, weird conversation. I came back to the house and they stayed up there for another 10 minutes. All I could see was her husband’s legs underneath the truck on the other side as she remained in the drivers seat. When he finally got back into the vehicle they hightailed it out of here spinning their chained tires and throwing snow in their haste to escape Katie Jean Circle. What they left behind was a no trespassing and private property sign posted at the head of our walking trail. 

I can only surmise they researched the owner of that property across the street, obviously made contact and somehow purchased it. It had not previously been for sale. I knew she was up to something rather than just working here. She watched the dogs, walked then on that trail and now she is posting a sign that they are no longer allowed to walk there. 

We have 2.5 acres of uncleared land of our own that can be developed into a lovely doggie playground so all of this is really okay. I only question the way she handled the situation—I don’t understand passive-aggressive actions. She could have told me rather than being sneaky about it. I have no idea what her intention is for the property, and don’t really care. I can’t control other people and what they do, but I can control how I respond. All I know is that karma will be the judge, and what goes around, comes around.  This underhanded approach to doing business is not the Homer way, and I suspect it will be short-lived.

Years ago when my home in Anchorage was broken into, I felt totally violated. Not caring anything about the stuff stolen, it was more about the negative energy that had entered and contaminated my space. Karma came into play, the thieves were quickly identified and all my property was recovered. This encounter has left me once again feeling violated but for a different reason. I let someone into my life with dogs that was not deserving of that privilege. 

This experience reminds me again why I prefer hanging out with dogs more than humans. There are no games (other than chasing balls), what you see is what you get, and the only drama that occurs is during competition for catching a yummy chummy in mid-air. Life is simple, and  pure.

And the moral to the story?

— If it appears too good to be true, It Is.
— Instincts are not wrong, pay attention to them.  

If you are looking to rent a cabin near a pond in Soldotna, be wary. Things may not be as they appear. 


Our view up the hill is no longer pure nature
Signs in the wilderness on Katie Jean Circle

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trash Monglers, All of Them!

In the early morning hours of a cloudy Homer day, a lone, blonde cocker spaniel called Anne slithered across the street, up the driveway and onto the deck of a neighbor's house to find an incredibly full trash can with a plastic lid. With her nose in control and leading her way, she was somehow able to push the trash can over, popping off the lid and spilling out some indescribably delicious morsels hidden among the trash wrappers. She was tenacious like aways, in her attempts to root around for all things food. 

Missing from home for approximately 30 minutes, the dogsitter knew Anne must be up to no good and went looking for the blonde cocker who notoriously has no self-control where food is concerned.  A lazy, tri-colored 15-year-old basset hound called DoDog, another chowhound at dog camp, got up from under her warm blanket to go out and investigate under the guise of needing to pee, knowing full well she was missing out on something good. She immediately started meandering up said neighbor's driveway, alerting the dogsitter of a likely scenario. 

As the dogsitter followed DoDog up the driveway hot on the trail,  she saw a sheepish, blonde cocker frantically licking and smacking her lips as she scurried toward home with the basset hound in hot pursuit wanting to smell those lips. And the mess left for the dogsitter extraordinaire (met in the driveway by the neighbor)  to clean up, well, it was unbelievable. 

So now the behavior will have to be squelched as all dogs are opportunists at heart and communicate well to each other. The dogs at TBTB Dog Camp now know about the trash escapade and the lurking of all things good just a few steps away. Every time they are out for a pee they will remember and hustle back over there in a nano-second given half a chance.

The good news, if there is any. . . Well, it's a good thing it was a dog in the trash on the deck, and not the black bear that has been seen in the area. Things might not turned out quite so well had that been the case. Currently the dogs are on lock-down until the trash cans can be secured from any further attempts to dismantle the lid, and feast on the findings. Once they know it is no longer an option, they will quietly go outside, do their business and hustle back in for their breakfast. And things will once again return to normal at dog camp, until next time.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The OgDog

Today is the 7th anniversary of my first true heart dog crossing the Rainbow Bridge. We were so connected and shared many adventures in his 16-1/2 years by my side. In honor of my special boy, I am posting a story written about him as a puppy. . . 

I have always had a companion dog, in particular cocker spaniels. As long as I can remember there has been a spaniel in my life. When I was 7 my grandmother gave me Candy, who I eventually had to leave behind when we moved to Chicago. It broke my heart. During my years as a single parent, I had little time to devote to a dog but they were still around. My boys grew up with spaniels.

I adopted Roxanna Danna in 1988 when she was two years old. I responded to an ad in the newspaper, brought her home for a weekend visit and she never left. She lived to be 14. At the time our neighbor had a beautiful tricolor spaniel with a terrific disposition. We decided to breed our dogs with the intent of having wonderful pets to share with other cocker lovers. I was committed in advance to adopting out the puppies since I knew I could not keep them all. However, in order to adopt one of our pups applicants were screened with the same intensity one might expect when adopting a child. I had to know they were going to safe, responsible and loving homes.

Roxanna had three beautiful, healthy litters and up to this point I had resisted keeping a pup. She had her last litter in 1993 at the age of 7. It was a difficult birth that ended in an emergency cesarean. I brought her home from Pet Emergency with six wet puppies. Roxanna was unconscious so my son Chad and I spent the next 24-hours keeping the puppies warm, and encouraging them to eat by placing her nipple in their mouth.

As the puppies approached 8-weeks old, five were spoken for and we had only one male left. This particular pup was the first one to escape the whelping box. Like Houdini, no matter what kind of barricade I made he found a way around it. Each morning he was out of the box and across the room, fast asleep on his own. He didn’t seem to need the comfort of the pack. He was extremely independent and both Chad and I were a little taken by him. I was drawn to his independent spirit.

Chad began an ongoing campaign to keep this pup. We were in the process of moving out of Alaska with three dogs, so a puppy was entirely out of the question. However, Chad continuously found fault with potential adopters convincing me to reject them. As it got closer to the time we were to leave, Chad had convinced me that this pup would be his. He promised to take full responsibility and take him to college the following year. I’m not sure how convinced I was of that one, but I did finally agree that the pup would stay and travel with me in the car across country, while Chad flew on ahead.

Just before leaving Alaska I was at a going away party when an eighteen-month old baby ran toward the pup pointing and saying “oggie, oggie.” And that is how he officially became Oggie, aka the OgDog, Oggie Doggie, Ogster, Ogsey, Og and lots of other pet names, no pun intended. Once he had a real name my relationship with him began. He would be the cocker like no other and we would become the best of friends. But now I’m getting ahead of the story.

I drove the 4,600 miles to our new home with Oggie on my lap. By the time we reached our destination we had formed a bond, and Og had become my dog. I would learn the intensity of that bond one winter morning in January 1994 when he was only 8-months old.

We had moved to a country house where dogs could run free when they went outside. On this particular morning I let the dogs out as usual not realizing there was a blizzard in process and it was near whiteout conditions. I put the coffee on and went back to the door to let them back in the house. My two older spaniels came in, but Oggie and our black lab, Toby were still out. It was only when I went outside that I realized the severity of the storm. The temperature was dropping as the wind picked up and I was only able to stay out a few minutes – and I thought I left winter behind in Alaska! After becoming increasingly concerned, I got in my Jeep and went looking for them. I drove all the back roads, actually carving them out since no one else was driving. There was no trace of Oggie or Toby.

I returned home and waited, opening the door often to call out to them. After about seven hours, Toby came to the door alone, totally exhausted. What did that mean for the OgDog? I waited throughout the day anxiously watching the back door. That night the temperature dropped to -20 below. I was trying to stay optimistic, but as the hours passed I began to panic. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep – I had thoughts of Oggie being disoriented and freezing to death. I was overwhelmed with guilt; how could I have been so careless? I refused to turn the porch light off, somehow relating that gesture to giving up hope. Instead I got up every hour of the night to check the sliding glass door.

The next morning after a fitful night, I put on arctic gear and began combing the hillsides around the house. My worst fear was that the sun would come out, melt the snow and I would see his frozen little body in a field. I became obsessed with that thought as I followed tracks in the snow that led me underneath an abandoned trailer. With a flashlight I crawled under the trailer house only to find what appeared to be bloodstains – not a comforting thought. Although the snow had stopped falling, the temperature was still frigid with a chill factor of below zero. After searching for a few hours I returned home and called the neighbors, placed an ad in the newspaper, arranged a radio announcement and waited. I received a few calls but all of them turned out to be dead ends.

My optimism was quickly fading. The OgDog had simply vanished. I refused to come out of my room except to check the back door. My eyes were swollen from crying and lack of sleep. My family was concerned for me. All I had to do was visualize a memory of Oggie and I would cry. Alone in my room I began to paint pictures, strange, angry images.

On the third night of his disappearance I fell into a deep exhausted sleep and had a vivid dream of him, healthy and playing ball. For the first time in days, I felt peaceful. Subconsciously I knew he was missing, but I felt he was okay. I suddenly woke up, confused. The dream had been so intense that I thought it was real, that he was back. I ran downstairs to the back door sure that he would be there. He wasn’t. Was I hallucinating from lack of sleep? As I fell in and out of sleep over the next four days, the dreams continued. I felt a spiritual connection to him, and subconsciously I started believing in the dreams.

On the seventh day of his absence, I woke up feeling much better. The sun was out and the snow was melting. I came out of my room and drove to town to take care of some overdue errands. I had essentially been hibernating for a week. An inner peace had settled over me and I resolved in my mind that my chances of Oggie coming home were slim, but I was aware that he was alive and well even though he was not with me. I no longer feared finding him dead on the hillside and I no longer felt the need to sleep for comfort. The weight of the past week was dissolved. I was going to be okay.

When I got home I went to the art building and began working in my darkroom. Hours later I heard my roommate’s truck pull in the driveway and then heard Jim knock on the door. “Don’t come in, I’m printing.” I said.

“When you get a minute, come to the house. I have someone I want you to meet,” Jim said.

“Okay,” I responded, thinking he had probably brought a friend home from work to cheer me up. I finished the print I was working on, cleaned up the chemicals and headed to the house.

When I walked in the kitchen my two sons and Jim were standing in the dining room smiling. I looked around for the person I was supposed to meet and realized there was no one else there. Confused, I looked at my boys still smiling and suddenly it hit me. “Oggie’s home,” I whispered. At that moment I heard footsteps running down the stairs from my room. As he rounded the kitchen corner, my knees were shaking as I knelt down and he jumped in my arms. It occurred to me that this might be another dream, but he felt very much alive in my arms. My thoughts went from total disbelief to a quiet understanding as I hugged his skinny little body, tears streaming down my cheeks. By not giving up hope, by refusing to let him die in my mind he had somehow been returned to me. I have no words to express what I was feeling. I just know it was a spiritual thing between us and that one day I would write about it. This is my story.

Like me, perhaps you wonder about Oggie’s story. I will tell you what I think based on the few things I know about that week. I know he lost a lot of weight so he had been hungry and scrounging for what food he had. Because of the severe temperatures and the snow depth he certainly had shelter, perhaps in a barn with farm animals. Much later a neighbor told me that one night during the cold spell he had shut a dog in his garage and fed him. Apparently it was dark in the garage so he didn’t get a close look and the next morning when the garage door opened, the dog ran off.

I’m sure you’re also wondering how my roommate found the OgDog? Jim was on his way home from work about ten miles from the house when a dog ran directly in front of his truck. He was traveling at approximately 55 MPH and remembers having to slam on his brakes and swerve to miss the dog. He recalls thinking that it looked as if the dog purposely ran in front of him. When he got out of the truck, he was amazed to see it was Oggie. I still wonder how it happened to be Jim’s truck. Did Oggie somehow know, or was it merely a coincidence? I think he knew.

OgDog slept beside me every night for 16-1/2 years. Little did I know when Chad convinced me to keep him in 1993 that he would become my best friend and we would share so much together. The universe consistently lines up to give us what we need in life. All we have to do is get out of our own way and allow it to happen.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Escapee

And so it goes, a blonde dogsitter extraordinaire, with a wanderlust disorder that has laid dormant for over 6 months due to an inordinate amount of canines guests at dog camp—and a staff that has gone fishing for the summer—loaded 5 cocker spaniels and a basset hound into a Subaru station wagon appropriately called ‘Soobie,' for a marathon 450-mile round-trip ride to Anchorage on a sunny Tuesday morning. The over-the-top excited dogs quickly realized that this was not just a trip to Homer town or the beach, but rather an outing requiring multiple naps along the way. The weather was amazing with temperatures rising in the 70’s. The sunroof was open, and the cruise control set at 65—a perfect day for a road trip adventure that would span the next 12-plus hours, with only one small hiccup initiated by a lone basset hound called DoDog.

AnnBanan, the rescued cocker spaniel from southern California—the mischievous, wine-drinking, leaping tall buildings for a crumb, girl—had an important date with an ophthalmologist for an exam to determine whether she had a cataract that needed surgery. Normally a road trip to Anchorage would be an overnight adventure but today the RV Minnie was enjoying a few days at the Anchor River on a fishing expedition with guests, leaving only a Subaru or a VW bug available for transport. Finding a motel that accommodates six dogs is no small feat during tourist season in Alaska, or anytime, for that matter. The blonde would have preferred a visit to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer with her grand boys, but after locating a motel that would accommodate dogs and humans, it was discovered that said motel had a reputation for spreading bed bugs to their guests. The original plan was immediately abandoned and a round-trip to see the eye doctor was decided upon instead. This particular ophthalmologist only visits Alaska once a month and scheduling an appointment is often done weeks in advance. So, getting there on this particular day when no canine guests were booked into camp, was important. 

The normal 4-hour summer drive north reached an epic 5-plus hours due to multiple stops along the way. An elderly black lab called Jackie was dropped off for foster care, gas/oil was needed for Soobie, and finally a stop for a decaf Americana and six dog treats from the barista at the Black Water Bend drive-thru.  Automatic cruising was lovely on this glorious morning, but soon interrupted by road construction with traffic stopped and waiting in line, eventually inching forward at a mere 40 MPH for over twenty miles, adding an extra 45-minutes to the journey.  Boss Bunny was doing her job of barking at all large trucks at the site, and chasing them the length of the car, back and forth, over and over.

That being said, the blonde had allowed extra time for a walk before the eye exam although the allotted time was definitely cut short due to several traffic delays along the way. Nevertheless, twenty miles outside of Anchorage City limits the sign for Bird Creek trail was visible and Soobie whipped into the available parking lot. Only a few cars were parked so the possibility of a quiet, quick hike to stimulate noses, relieve bladders and exercise stiff muscles was much anticipated. The group had an hour before the scheduled appointment time. As the blonde struggled to get the required leashes for three of the dogs out of the travel bag, the excitement inside the car was infectious as six dogs whimpered, whined and wiggled their butts causing the car to vibrate to and fro. 

Finally, repeating the command “stay” in her stern authoritarian voice, the blonde was able to open her car door, leash the two dogs that would most likely not come back when they were supposed to (not mentioning any names), along with sweet Guinness who is by nature a plodder, much slower than the other rambunctious hikers and often headed in the opposite direction of the pack. Time was of the essence so an orderly walk on the trail to accomplish the business at hand was expected. The three unattached dogs were doing what they were supposed to while the blonde struggled with the other three on leash, a basset hound in particular that insisted on getting the leash wrapped around her legs while innocently pretending she knew nothing about how to walk on one. DoDog has always marched to her own drum in a most persistent manner. 

Reaching the top of the first hill, the group met two men on the trail and chaos ensued. They were asking the blonde directions to the creek, and it was soon determined that the water was indeed in the direction they had just come from, as they were almost back to the parking lot. They apparently had not walked far enough so they proceeded to turn around and head back. The free dogs were greeting the unexpected visitors, while the leashed dogs (one in particular) were walking in circles causing the blonde to get tangled up and come to a complete halt. She looked down to see how to get out of her predicament, and was aghast to find the end of one leash dangling with only an empty collar at the end of it! 

ANNE! She automatically screamed before realizing that Anne was looking up at her as if to say, “What?” along with Guinness standing next to her. That could only mean one thing, OMG it’s DoDog, as the blonde looked up the trail just in time to see the white tip of her tail disappear in the bushes. The two men tried to grab her, but missed. 

SHITTTT, the blonde shouted, to no one in particular. Scurrying the other five dogs back to Soobie while apologizing for having to cut their walk short because of an unruly hound dog, she cracked the windows and left them in the hot car as she ran back up the trail. By this time, a crowd of hikers had gathered and were smiling, pointing straight up a steep incline. And there she was, the lone escapee, loving all the attention and looking more like a mountain goat than a low-to-the-ground basset hound wearing a smirk on her face. The blonde let out a shrill command: ZIPPY, (her name when she’s in trouble) to no avail. DoDog’s nose was still glued to the ground and she barely looked up, although she could obviously tell by the intense tone of the command that she better pay attention. 

The two guys that were present when the escape nonsense started, were hiking their way up the steep trail in an attempt to capture the dog, with the blonde close behind. The other hikers were along side the trail looking on. By this time, 14-year old DoDog was ready to slow down and be coaxed down the mountain. But to save face she meandered a little longer, before giving it up and coming close enough for the blonde to snap the leash and give her a minor scolding in front of her new fans. People were clapping as the blonde descended the incline with a happy dog leading the way.  A dog that was totally spent—her fun had quickly come to an end and the back seat of Soobie with the comfy dog bed waiting in the sun, was calling her. Had this been a few years earlier, the blonde could have forgotten any such luck and would have sat waiting for her to return when she was good and ready. As it were, after saying her goodbyes to those involved in her freedom run, DoDog was lead back to Soobie where she immediately jumped in the hot car with the other 5 dogs, and settled in for a much needed nap still donning the perpetual smirk. 

And the blonde dogsitter extraordinaire, with her pack of 5 cocker spaniels and an ill-behaved basset hound, continued driving the last 20 miles to the Anchorage clinic while reflecting on the joy the dogs bring—even with the escapades that are only funny after the fact. Snoring sounds were in unison from the backseat—the only music in the car. Her life is good, and she is grateful to be in the company of canines most of the time. 

After all the dust had settled on this hot afternoon, she managed to arrive at the schedule appointment 10 minutes early.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Jackie's Tale

Several months ago, Tails-By-The-Bay (TBTB) Dog Camp received a call from the local hospital with a request to pick-up a service dog from a veteran that was being transferred to Anchorage for medical care. We arrived at the emergency area where a senior black lab called Jackie was waiting. Unsure as to what was happening to her human, she was obviously worried. However, she reluctantly walked with us to the car and gracefully got in the front seat. Jackie was with us for a few days until her human was able to complete the necessary paperwork authorizing his service dog to be with him while he stayed in an Anchorage treatment facility for a month. TBTB arranged a ride for Jackie where she was reunited with a happy veteran as she swished her tail to and fro. Their connection was strong, and her responsibility for him was obvious. They were happiest together.

Over the next few weeks, he was in and out of treatment and Jackie spent time at TBTB during the transitions of getting the necessary clearance for her to accompany him to various facilities. She was a docile, sweet girl that integrated well into dog camp. Her arthritis often bothered her and we would let her make the choice to go on hikes with the pack, or stay home. Some mornings she would run and prance like a puppy racing over the hill to the field for a romp and a sniff. Other days she would go out, do her business and wait at the gate to come back inside. The choice was always hers. She was a polite, gentle soul, and easy to love. We were quickly enamored with Jackie, and loved having her sweet, calming spirt in camp. Recently she stayed with us for a little over a week. When her human came to get her, they were ecstatic to see each other as always. Jackie said goodbye to her pals with a wag of her tail. Her bright eyes spoke a silent thank you to all of us. 

We were surprised when we got a phone call a few days later from her human. He was distraught, Jackie had collapsed and was unable to get up. He tied a towel around her 80-pound body and was trying to help her walk. But all she wanted to do was lie down. She desperately needed to see a doctor, but he was destitute without any money, and the clinic required payment up front.  He was frantically worried, and wondered what he could do for his best friend. TBTB Dog Camp called the local vet clinic and persuaded them to see Jackie as a donation to a veteran. 

After the appointment an emotional veteran called TBTB with the dreaded news. He was so choked up that it was difficult to understand him. But, by withdrawing some fluid from her abdomen, the veterinarian determined that Jackie had a rupture and was bleeding internally. There was nothing they could do for her. If she was a younger girl (she is 12), surgery might have been an option but it would cost at least $2,500. They thought she had 3-5 days at most to live, and advised him to euthanize her to save her from suffering through the inevitable.

He took her back to their room, a place that had been offered to him by a local pastor. He wanted to spend one more night with her. The previous night was spent lying on the floor next to her, and this night would be the same. One of his concerns was where to bury her, as he was currently homeless. We suggested that she be laid to rest here at TBTB Dog Camp, a place she loved. We would be honored to have her resting on the property. After much contemplation, he made the appointment to have her euthanized the following morning at 11 a.m. TBTB could not be there, as they were transporting dogs for water therapy 75 miles north. They were connected via text. 

His text said this was the hardest decision of his life, that she still had bright eyes and lots of life in them. TBTB could feel his pain, and suggested he talk to Jackie, tell her how he was feeling and ask her for a sign to let him know what she wanted him to do. We also said it was important to tell her it’s okay to leave him, that he would be okay. Sometimes dogs hang on and suffer longer than they need to for us, their human. We prayed for peace and comfort for the both of them, and felt their sadness on our ride north. 

Thirty minutes before the scheduled appointment to put her down, we received a text from him that said she had gotten up and taken a few steps on her own. It had been two days since she had walked on her own. She proceeded to take a few more steps and squatted down to pee, without collapsing. He was amazed, and called the vet right away. The vet said to postpone the appointment, that she obviously wasn’t ready to leave him just yet. 

It has now been a week and Jackie is getting stronger each day. The veteran told us that he is not under any illusion, that he knows she could relapse anytime and that would be it. But for now, they are enjoying each other’s company and taking it one day at a time. He feels the bleeding has somehow stopped for now, and it’s a miracle. His mother and family had prayed for Jackie throughout the night. The power of prayer is truly amazing. 

This was such a beautiful ending, and illustrates the strength of the human/canine connection. TBTB is invited to visit with Jackie this weekend, and we cannot wait to give her a hug. She is an amazing girl, a true service dog and we are so happy to know her, and tell her story. We love you Jackie Girl, you are truly a gift. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Another DoDog Tale

If you have ever had a hound dog, this story will make total sense. They can be the most adorable, lovable creatures ever, but their behavior when they don’t get what they want, can be spiteful and downright hateful. Basset hounds have a hilarious sense of humor, but they are also the most stubborn dogs on the planet. They want what they want when they want it. And, if they don’t get it—you, the human will pay.

Our usual routine at dog camp is when all the dogs need a potty break they stand at the back door and wait to go out—all eleven of them,  minus a lone basset hound called DoDog, asleep under the covers on the couch. When they return and get settled in, DoDog then marches to the back door with an ARF, letting us all know that it is now her turn in the loo. I open the door and watch her descend the stairs where she immediately poops in the walkway, taking a few more steps to relieve her bladder, then continues on for a stroll while I grab the pooper scooper and wonder why she can’t go in the bushes like the rest of the dogs. It's only a few steps over the hill, where the moose and bear do their business. After all, we are surrounded by woods and tundra. Good grief! She meanders the yard, barking at this or that, causing the entire house to erupt with 11 dogs running to the window to see what she sees, which is most likely, nothing. She just loves to cause a ruckus. 

This behavior continues, as she ignores all my attempts to lure her back inside so I can get back to work, knowing full well when I do she will want back inside. Exasperated, I return to my desk in the loft, and the other dogs settle down as there is nothing to see outside except a hound dog moseying around with her nose to the ground. As I ease down into my chair and start typing my thoughts before they escape me, I hear the familiar ARF at the back door—the signal that it is now time for the Queen to come inside and find her spot underneath the covers, especially on a rainy day like today. Not wanting to lose my moment of inspiration, I continue typing and ignore the occasion ARF at the door, which incidentally gets louder by the minute. Finally, when the distraction becomes too much to concentrate, I run downstairs to let her in the back door, and of course, she is no longer there. 

I call her, she ignores me. I go outside in the rain to look for the silly dog and gasp—when I see her lying down in the middle of my new flower bed, the one that has a gazillion dollars worth of freshly planted perennials. She knows she is not allowed in it, but instead of hustling her butt out when she sees me raging forward, she merely looks at me with a smirk on her face, daring me to run her out. And I do, like a mad woman running toward her shouting, she scurries out of the bed with her tail tucked between here legs, running to the back door and making it inside in a flash. She is now underneath her blanket, on her couch, snoring. Occasionally I see her legs twitch and suspect she is dreaming of running from my wrath, that she knows sounds far worse that it really is. Somehow, someway, she miraculously missed lying on any plant while making her intended point.

Silly Dog, rooted down in a pile of blankets and pillows, with a face I cannot be mad at (for long). And she knows it! Grrrr. . .  Isn’t that just like a DoDog?