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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thank you

Thank you, all of you, for your kind words about Darcy. She lives on in the hearts, minds and souls of all who met her (virtually and in person). Sometimes the right thing is not always the easiest...but we do it anyways simply because it is the right thing to do. Hug all your pups and spend as much time as you can with them. You just never know when it might be your last chance. :)


Friday, July 27, 2007

Lucy and her anxiety update

Doesn't she look comfy? I've had a hard time trying to decide what pictures to put up of Lucy and I find that most of them look the same, Lucy napping in some bizarre positions on her couch! I often wonder how she's comfortable sometimes.

Anyway, my main reason for this post is to give an update on Lucy's anxiety problem. As those of you who know Lucy or have read my previous posts you know Lucy has had major separation anxiety. Since she has been a model ridgie for the last few months we decided to finally see if she could be trusted to be left alone out of her crate while we were out. Previously, she was crated when we were not home, unless it was a very short trip.
When we leave, we either fill her Kong (love that thing!) or throw a few small treats around the room. She is not allowed to touch the treats until we are walking out the door and say "Go ahead." The first few days she was confused and when we came home she was jumpy and anxious with her whole body wagging at the sight of us. Then things calmed down as she got used to it. All this time her crate was still in the kitchen for her to see if she needed it. Now, after a successful 4 weeks or so, the crate has come down. She has been left alone for 8 hours and when either my husband or I come home she is fairly calm and waiting with a toy in mouth. We are so proud that she has adjusted.
Of course, once or twice upon arriving home there was a mess. Just the other day she found an empty milk carton which ended up on the living room floor in about 100 pieces. But, hey, it's that's her worst I'll take it. She also lays on the "forbidden" couch, which I cover with a throw as a precaution, which she probably takes as an invitation even though she has her own perfectly good couch. Gotta love the ridgie thinking.
The last few months have finally fallen into a routine at our house where there wasn't much of one before. This seemingly small thing I believe has made a big difference with Lucy as well. She knows the schedule and therefore has no reason to freak out when we leave her like she did before. She knows we'll come back and has nothing to worry about.
Lucy also has had some issues with coming when called or running away. Just last week we took her to a doggy meet and greet at a site where there will hopefully be a new dog park soon and let her run off leash with the other dogs. Again, she behaved herself, ran around with the tongue hanging out of her mouth and didn't give us a problem when we called her. We couldn't ask for a better girl, it's unbelievable to think she was given up as a problem dog by her previous owner. Thanks RRUS for giving us such a special girl, we love her to pieces.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Update on Cat vs Dogs

Hi Everyone,

If you remeber reading my earlier post about Mr. Curtis learning manners with Annie the Cat, you will be happy to hear that after 8 months things are working. Curtis caught on quickly that chasing the cat was not an option, but it took a bit more time to convince Annie that she wasn't a bowl of kibble. Who could blame her, being 10 pounds to their combined 150 pounds. Annie has finally started to trust the Big Red Dogs and has started to join the land of the living upstairs. Yesterday morning I found her in the family room with both dogs. She was gingerly going up to each one and rubbing their noses. Morgan and Curtis accepted her advances politely. Later today Annie actually felt comfortable enough to test the waters by plopping down on the kichen floor to bath herself while the dogs watched. Figures...just in time for the humans to screw everything up and move us all to a new house.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Darcy's Story: When a Foster home becomes a Forever one.... (TISSUE ALERT)

I am posting this with Evelyn's permission. In fact, it was her idea. :) Thank you Evelyn, for allowing me to memorialize Darcy here. This post will make you cry, I'm sure.

Ten months ago, Darcy arrived in my life. Her rescue illustrated how rescue groups can pull together to save a dog. This is, by no means, the first time, nor will it be the last, that rescue groups will cooperate to save a dog. However, Darcy was 12 years old at the time she was saved...and she was a Ridgeback mix. Her story starts off common but it does not end that way.

Darcy was dropped off at a shelter in Texas...several hours from where I live in. I don't remember who contacted who but somehow RRUS was made aware of this senior pup that needed to be re-homed. I agreed to foster her until her forever home could be found. I, as do many rescuers, have a soft spot for the senior pups. Why would someone dump such an old pup, you may ask...and rightly so. The reason listed on the surrender form was that the owner had too many dogs. Darcy was, apparently, her mother's dog at one point. Her mother then gave Darcy to her and she just didn't feel she could handle three dogs (she had two of her own). So...Darcy came to live with me. The majority of the transport was done by Etosha volunteers who picked her up and then handed her off to me.

She went up on the website soon after arriving at my house. She was a wonderful, sweet, even tempered dog. She got along with dogs, cats, children, adults, men, women, birds, etc. She loved to go for walks and car rides. And she was smart. :) She learned how to crate rather quickly and, by the end of her time with, actually preferred to be in her crate at times. She had her quirks, as do all Ridgebacks and Ridgeback mixes. :) As I started to get to know her and her quirks I began to think about her perfect home. I envisioned a home with a retired person/persons who would take her on strolls and visiting. A home where she would be the center of attention. After all, she was 12 years old. She had earned that right. Over the months she was with me, I had three people express an interest in her. For one reason or another none of them worked out. So she continued to stay with me. The following, to me, explains why none of those other homes worked out. She needed me.

On June 16, 2007, Darcy was officially diagnosed with cancer. In the week prior, while staying with a friend, she had started coughing, reduced her food intake (!) and was not as interested in what was going on around her. She still enjoyed her walks though. :) I took her to the vet on June 14, 2007. The vet x-rayed her lungs, which were filled with fluid and had 1, maybe 2, nodules. He told me it was either cancer or a fungal infection. It was determined to be cancer after blood work and several aspirates were done. No signs of a fungal infection were found.

I made the decision to not do chemotherapy with her. By this time Darcy was 13 years old. I could not put her through that. We started her on prednisone in the hopes that it would make her comfortable. And it did, for awhile. She stopped coughing but her appetite never fully recovered. On June 26, 2007, I made the difficult decision to let her go. By this time, she wasn't eating, she couldn't stand on her own and could only walk a short distance before she lost control of her back legs. She had also become incontinent (which horribly embarrassed her). It was time to release her and give her her freedom. The following paragraphs go through her final day.

I made the appointment for late afternoon on the 27th. Yes, there were earlier appointments to be had but I had to work until noon that day and I wanted to spend some time with her before she left me. That afternoon we went to the Park one last time. A friend of mine, Beth, joined us. She has been my friend for years and she loved Darcy. If she had been in a place that would allow dogs, she would have adopted her in a heart beat. So, the three of us went to the park.

The park is fairly large and one part has a lake with a path around it and ducks. It's surrounded by lots of open, grassy area with trees scattered around it. The three of us went and sat down under a tree and spent an hour just enjoying life and talking. At one point, a duck decided to come check us out...up until Darcy sat up and the duck realized that there was a dog there too. She really seemed to enjoy her time out there with us in the fresh air and the sunshine. When the time came, we drove up to the clinic. We arrived a little early and had to sit in the waiting room for a short while.

In the waiting room with us was a gentleman with a young boy holding a Dachshund puppy. (side note: that puppy has got to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen. :)). (I'm pretty certain that they did not speak English so most likely did not know exactly what we were there for). The boy seemed a little afraid of Darcy and stood near his dad. After a short while though, he got brave and came over to an open area near us (still holding the adorable puppy). He set the puppy down on the floor and the puppy, being a puppy, immediately headed straight towards us to check us out. Now, the waiting area is not that big so the puppy didn't have to go very far. He started checking out my shoes and allowed me to pet him (he was very soft by the way!) Then the puppy decided to also check out Darcy. Darcy didn't mind a bit (she always got along well with other dogs she met while in my care). In fact, at one point, she turned her head to look at the puppy and they touched noses. It was very very cute.

The little boy, meanwhile, is near us, watching us and the puppy. I looked at him and asked him if he wanted to pet Darcy. I also mimed it - pointing to him and then petting Darcy. He nodded and I told him he could (and smiled and nodded to him). He gave her some really gentle pets and then just sat near us. Shortly after that we were called into the exam room and he picked up the puppy and went back to stand near his dad. Now, I have no idea why that little boy did what he did. I do know our body language said we were sad about something. Whether he picked up on that and decided to do something to help or if he was just a very friendly (and polite) little boy who wanted to meet Darcy I don't know. But I am glad he did. He definitely made the time in the waiting room so much easier and I appreciated it. And, obviously, language was not a barrier here. There truly are angels among us. I wish him, his family and his puppy well.

While I had only planned on being Darcy's foster home, I became her Forever one. My home is not the one I had envisioned for her but it was obviously the one that she needed. I am so happy that I could be there for her when she needed me most. She was a proud, beautiful, sweet, obnoxious, annoying and wonderful dog who won over the hearts of all who met her. And I miss her.

Her ashes now sit on my window sill in a beautiful wooden box. The crematorium sent a certificate as well as a condolence letter when they returned her ashes to the clinic. Throughout all of this, I received the support of RRUS members and other Ridgeback owners.

May all of the Darcys out there find the homes that they deserve..and yes, that they need...
A special thanks goes out to Evelyn and Carol, who approved all of the vet costs (no questions asked) and who supported me in my decisions and, yes, who cried with me. Darcy's situation is not a common one, for which I am glad. But, I would not trade my time with her for the world.

Sleep well, Darcy. And wake up healthy and strong. And remember, You. Are. Loved. 1995 - June 27, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Chloe's beach trip

Way back in May we spent our first full week ever in a beach house on St George Island FL. Its a deatination renowned for being dog friendly, with "lax leach laws" (verbal commands). I was just a little apprehensive about how well that verbal command stuff would actually work, and how relaxed a rescued Ridgeback can be in the wide open free-space of a beach setting. I cant say how many times while packing and loading up the car Greg and I both wondered aloud "are we crazy / are we doing the right thing???" secretly I worried what might happen: what if Chloe ran away from us? It turns out May is a great time to go-- very few people. Although it's all a distant memory now , for weeks following the trip I relished the fun and the freedom we shared with "the girl". Within two days Chloe was comfortable with the whole deal--and as the pictures show her highlights included feeding the seagulls from the upper deck--we just had to make sure she didn't take flight.
The last shot was the car ride home--sweet memories.