1001 Memories…

Dingo, taking his job as kitchen assistant very seriously….

First off, let me tell you all, just how nice it was to read the comments, and get the emails and Facebook messages about our sad day with the lose of our two elderly dogs. You can’t imagine just how much they helped the girls and I to get through this difficult day. We read them here and there as we could, some just made us cry so much more that we had to take them a little at a time. It’s better now, just left with a 1001 memories of them and a hard night of restless sleep, I’m sure.

I know it sounds a little well, unusual, to have to put down two old dogs on the same day. And no, they didn’t get into anything or anything like that. It was just their time and for some reason, they both had serious health issues within 48 hours of each other. Dingo has been failing for the last month or so and we’ve had THE discussion of when it was time often, but it just didn’t seem right. He was alert and happy when you pet him and called his name. He could get up and go outside, even if it took him a good long time. He was getting special extra portions of food, and treats and we didn’t even care if they gave him a little stinky gas… they made his tail thump and he enjoyed them very much. He had lost his sight a few months before and was loosing weight. Just couldn’t keep it on him. The last week or so, I thought we were making a little headway with him… started to feed him a premium can puppy chow, something rich in calories and good stuff, easier for his old tummy to digest. But last night he just didn’t seem himself, was very weak, and having difficulties holding his water and such. And this morning, he was just crashing fast. He couldn’t stand, not for more than a few seconds and he was trembling, and his heart beat and breathing was so slow.

The vet said he was probably in heart failure and that he probably would not have lasted the night. He went so quietly and peaceful. I carried him in and he just lay there, still and quiet. He thumped his tail a time or two as I whispered in his ear, but he was already going. The decision for him was not difficult to make. It was so apparent that he was leaving us and I didn’t want it to be alone in the night, or in pain. We all cried as he slipped from this world to the next destination.

Gypsy, well, that was a decision that I agonized over. And still am, but I am feeling a little more peace this evening about it.

Friday night, she had a stroke/seizure. She had trotted out with Evee and Dingo to the dog yard to do her business and I so remember looking out the kitchen window to watch her piddle and then walk along the fence with Evee, checking out all the farm tv that they loved to watch. But when Maggie went to bring them all back in, she called me urgently, that something was wrong with Gypsy. We went out there and sure enough, she was on the ground, her eyes rolling in a hundred different ways, panting and drooling something terrible. I thought at first she had gotten her hind end tangled up and just couldn’t right herself. Her knees and hips were painful and arthritic, and she wasn’t so stable at times. I tried to get her up, but she could not hold her weight. Her head was tilting badly and I just had this feeling that she was having a stroke. I brought her in the porch and laid her down and we watched and waiting, calming her until it passed. Our friends were there, and they called their vet tech friend and she confirmed that most likely, she had had a stroke. There wasn’t a whole lot that we could do, there are no emergency vets in the area and she said, there would not be a lot they could do anyway, not in a very elderly dog. Just keep her comfortable, and see how she is in a bit.

Well, after an hour or so, she seemed like she was recovering somewhat. She was alert again, and responding to our voices and touch. She was able to stand, and we actually got her in the house. She slept like a log that evening, and in the morning, she was up, although she was definitely weak in the right side and her head was tilted. She had some weakness, but she seemed by Saturday evening to be pretty much herself and was doing all her normal routines. I was going to call our vet back in Toledo on Monday and talk with her about options, things that we could do, watch for and all that. But Sunday afternoon, she was not right again, and may have had another small stroke, and I just knew that things were not good for her. I got the number of a good local vet and I was going to call her in the morning and knew that it might be the last visit with her.

In the morning, again, she was having a lot of difficulty getting up, had wet herself, and was really confused, disoriented. I was also dealing with Dingo’s difficulties and just had this sinking feeling… I was loosing them both, at the same time, on the same day. I can not wish this on anyone, it was very difficult. I called and talked to the vet and she said to bring them in and make an appointment, they would see them as quickly as they could. Jessy had heard me on the phone, having just woke up and we had a good cry at that point. The waiting was just awful. We carried Gypsy back in to her bed and let her rest, and gave DIngo a little bath and towel dry, so that he wouldn’t be all yucky on the visit. I think he enjoyed it some, he licked at the hose water, one of his favorite things and we dried him in the warm sunshine, out in the courtyard. The sheep came over and stood silently around us, like a little color guard, just watching. Normally, they are not very interested in the dogs and in fact will usually go off in a far corner if a dog was out, but not today, it was odd. They just stood in a little semi-circle, quiet and watching. A few chickens came over as well, and just silently watched. That is so unlike them, usually, they crowd us for treats, but it was like they sensed something was afoot… things were not all right in the yard. Jessy bundled him up and carried him back in the house to rest and get a little more love and pampering.

I was already a teary basketcase and I had tried to get ahold of Steve, my ex-husband, as Dingo was as much his buddy as anything. Dingo had gone to live with him about 6 years ago, when I could not take both dogs in a rental house. It was a good thing, really, Dingo enjoyed being the only dog for a while, and Steve and DIngy Boy had a special bond, he was really Steve’s first dog and I knew that he wanted only the best for him. But he works odd hours and shifts and I couldn’t reach him. Thank goodness, my friend Julia was available to come and just be there for me, help with the both of them. I can not tell you how much that helped me, as I could feel my strength waning over this decision to be made for not just one, but both of these old guys. She stayed with Gypsy while I was in with DIngo and kept her company, even as Gypsy began to have another attack, possible seizure there at the vets. And in the end, she got a nip from Gypsy that turned her thumb painful, but thankfully did not break the skin and that was so sad. Everyone that knows Gypsy, knows that she was not in her right mind, she never bit or even thought about it. She had growled at me this morning, as I was trying to get her up, and I knew that she was not feeling good. That was so hard to face.

Before Dingo left, the vet examined Gypsy and we talked about this situation. She confirmed that most likely she had had a stroke and that with her age (almost 15 years!) she would probably have another and it could be more serious. She could feel and hear that she was developing fluid in her chest, much like pneumonia, but probably heart failure. And she confirmed that Gypsy was probably deaf as well at this point. Of course, we could have probably started all sorts of treatments, but in light of her age and other health issues, it was going to be an expensive prolonging of her death. When she started to have another stroke in the office, that told me that the decision needed to be made and well, I just could not see her improving much and could very much see her deteriorating even more, and quickly. I just knew that I didn’t want to go through all this again in a day or two or a week… already, I was hurting so much inside, I just felt weak myself. When she didn’t even respond to another client coming in, not even a ear prick or a tail wag, I knew that she was not herself and it was time.

Evee and Gypsy caught in the act of tearing up a whole box of shipping stuffers and playing like sisters about a week ago… Gypsy wouldn’t admit it, but she really liked that little crazy pup and it brought a lot of happy light into her old eyes, to roughhouse and wrestle with her as much as her old body could take. Evee was always pretty gentle and careful with her old grandma doggy friend.

Of course, on the things that I am wrestling with is the decision to end their lives. I know that we all say, oh, I don’t want to go badly at the end and I hope someone will turn off the plug and not let me go that way, and so on, but in the end, we don’t euthanize our loved ones, and that is a whole can of worms as to why or why not or how… but we do make that decision for our pets and I have done it now oh, 6 or 7 times and it’s always so hard. It is wraught with what ifs and how and when and should I’s and it’s enough to make a person nuts. I can’t imagine how it would be to make that decision for a human loved one… a dog or cat is so hard, I just can’t fathom it. I guess that is why we just make our dear ones as comfortable as possible and why we have such organizations of amazingly caring individuals such as Hospice. I remember reading somewhere a quote that said something to the effect, that you should be careful not to trade 1001 good memories of a loved one, for just a few more minutes here. It is so apparent to me that our decision hangs on how much we ache to have just a few more minutes, as if something amazing or special will happen and all will be back to normal, but it never is. Death is 100% uncurable. It’s death. The end. Of course, as believers, any faith, we hold in our hearts the promise of a new destination, but no one knows for sure how or what or all the details. It’s part of the whole mystery of faith and belief. I know there is something for me after death. I do not know if it is the truth for animals, but I always take comfort in knowing that the Lord cares for even the little sparrows in the field, so surely, he will care for our beloved companions, these some 14 years. It may only be in our memories, and well, I’m content with that because I do have 1001 memories of them both. And it will see us through the next few days of routines that will be changing and the little shadows and sounds that will bring them back to our foremost mind. I still remember an old cat of mine, that I had for over 19 years, growing up and all. I remember all of our animal companions and think fondly on their short time with us and how they shaped so many memories of our lives.

Gypsy was a beautiful show dog and she loved that part of her life. When she knew we were heading for a show, she would eagerly jump right in the bathtub for her beauty treatments. She would prance in the car and start whining and howling with glee when we pulled up to a county fairgrounds. She knew the routine and she adored it. She would meet and greet a hundred people, all glowing and beautiful, prancing like she was the queen of Sheba and happy to meet everyone that would stop and pet her and admire her. She was from champion lines, a beautiful Johnsondale Belgian Sheep Dog… and we had over 8 points towards her championship title. One show, she showed with her littermate brother and they took Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex… what a beautiful pair of lovely dogs.

When she was a pup, she loved to herd all the little children in the yard! She wold follow behind them and nose at their behinds if they straggled, and would lay patiently in the grass, watching and protecting her little flock. She was ever gentle with them all. She got a chance to herd real sheep, in a herding trait testing clinic and I still remember her in that round pen with a trainer, all perked up and circling around those sheep, no doubt that she had the herding possibility, that spark that says she could, if I would let her… but alas, the training would not be, as at that time, I had no sheep! Still, I hoped that one day, perhaps… and I am so happy that this lovely old lady got that wish and she had her own sheep in the end! I remember just a week or so ago, Gypsy was out with Maggie and I, happily ambling about the yard in her stiff but determined old lady pace, plodding after chickens and the sheep, just as happy as she could be. She loved the farm and loved to go on walks around the property. She was one happy old lady for sure.

Dingo was a pound puppy, and we felt that if we were going to purchase a champion purebred dog, we were also going to rescue a wonderful companion and we fell in love with Dingo… an Australian cattle dog mix. We found out that he was what people were calling a Texas Heeler, a mix of border collie and cattle dog. He was a sick boy at the beginning and spend his first night with us at the emergency vets with all sorts of ailments! In the end, I think we paid just about as much as we did for Gypsy in vet bills, but it was okay, we were in love with the little rascal. He was just about a year younger than Gypsy by our reckoning. When we got him home, I remember the girls were so worried over him that they carried him everywhere and would not let him walk to save his life! We finally had to tell them that he would never grow good strong legs if they didn’t give him a chance! I think he would have not cared a hoot, he was in love with his little girls and didn’t mind a bit all their fussing over him.

He gave us a run for our money, for sure. He was difficult to housebreak, and was prone to jumping the fence and causing trouble. He was stubborn to a capital T and he was just itching for trouble. We almost gave him back, but thankfully a friend who was a dog trainer came and evaulated him for us and set us straight on training methods that probably saved his life. Within 6 months, we had made considerable advancements and he was doing basic agility and therapy dog training. He was a good boy and learned quickly, a smart little herd dog for sure.

When we bought the farm, it was fun to have him back in our household. He loved romping around the farm and was usually a very good boy about staying with us. One day he wandered off and nearly got hit by a truck, that scared us so much. It was also when we began to realize that he was loosing his sight. He had lost us, out in the pasture and was just sort of wandering about when he stumbled out on the road. From that point on, we made sure he was not in harm’s way ever again.

The last month was hard on him. He would get lost in the new house, and would occasionally have little spats with Evee. I’m pretty sure he was not sure where she was, and would get disoriented with her fast moves. He would miss her little subtle dog body language and then they would get their panties in a twist. We solved it by belling Evee so that Dingo would know where she was and could just avoid her. It worked perfectly! We worked with him on trying to teach him new tricks for navigating his dark world and he was getting it, slowly, but surely. But in the end, his body was just shutting down and he was loosing weight and just getting frailer by the day. We tried to just love on him as much as we could, lots of treats and pats and attention. He loved it when anyone would stop and just pat and talk with him. He loved it when Steve came to visit and they would take him in the car for rides. He was a happy boy for sure.

I love this picture. I know it looks all fierce and scarey, but it’s really not. It’s Evee and Gypsy during one of their big dog wrestling matches that they loved to do. They had just torn up all the shipping stuff, something they really never did, but for whatever reason decided it would be fun and it was. Evee was probably the instigator, but when we came home and caught them snapping bubble wrap and digging in the box as well as wrestling and being dorks, it was easy to snap a few pictures of their silly antics. Jessy caught this picture and I just think it was fun. I’m so thankful that even up until last week, Gypsy was fairly able to play and enjoy her life. Every time I see this picture, there will be one of those memories that comes to mind.

And then, I got to thinking about all the wonderful comments and writing of so many of the people that have taken a little time in their busy lives to share this little heartache with us, and encourage us… a lady wrote that she never knew them but that she was crying for their loss… that really touched me. I thought, my gosh, I have immortalized so many of these memories in this blog, day to day. And all my friends that knew these wonderful old souls… so many people will carry a little memory of my pals in their hearts and minds. That really makes me feel content, and happy. I will agonize over my decision today for some time, I am sure, as we all do when we face that awful day. If you are pet owner, you will too, come to this day, most likely. But I hope that you will hold out for those 1001 memories instead of prolonging life for just a few more moments when pain and confusion come with old age. Thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers and kind words. They really mean so much to myself and my girls and my friends that read this blog.

Hug your little furry babies tonight for us and wish our little pals a safe journey to their next destination.

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Sad Day…

I’m sitting here, waiting to take my pair of elderly dogs in to the vets for the last goodbye.

It’s really very sad, just sort of a dreadful pain at waiting. It was the earliest appointment we could get for a Monday morning.

On Friday, Gypsy had a bad seizure/stroke and though I thought she might be doing somewhat alright afterwards, walking, acting fairly normalish… she really just was not coming through it all well by Sunday night. She was walking tilted and had very poor control on her right side of her body. She just really doesn’t seem to know what is up, and we’ve been carrying her back and forth outside, and she was wetting herself and just, well, not good. A vet tech friend of ours helped us through some of the questions and said it was just not something there was much that could be done with a very elderly old dog.

And this morning, Dingo just lost most of the ability to walk, his bodily controls were gone, and he is just so feeble and unable to stand for more than a few minutes. He’s blind, deaf and we just can’t keep any weight on him, he’s just wasting away.

It seems ironic, in some weird way that both of them should suffer serious health setbacks within a few days of each other. I guess it’s fitting, they have been together most of their lives, so I think it’s probably best that they go together. Weird, but in a way, I think it will be better for everyone, to have to have a big smack of grief instead of doing this twice, and so likely, within day or weeks of each other.

They say, you always know when it’s “time” and until this weekend, I was hopeful that they were doing fairly okay, at least seemed to be enjoying life and capable of handling potty time and getting up and down to go out, lots of treats, sleeping and such. It wasn’t time yet. But the last 48 hours it’s all just come crashing down around us, and it’s so apparent, that it’s time now.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers around 2:30… this is going to be a really rough and sad day.


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Fantastic Weekend…

It all started on Friday. Shelly and Sarah, long time friends of ours, were coming out to the farm for the first time since we moved in. Sarah had never seen the place, only in the blog and Facebook pictures. She and Jessy are long time pals and have grown up with each other since little tykes! Shelly is her mom and my friend and we are were ready for the whole farm experience!!! Tours, livestock, petting zoo, mah jong tournament, good food and lots of chatting, laughing and silliness. Had baked chicken and fresh sweet corn and roadside stand peaches as well as peach ice tea and pepsis… spinach dip and chips… we were so ready! (Did I mention brownie bites??? Yummmm)

Well we just had a delightful evening, and even though Shelly had to go back to town… (darn job early in the morning!!!) Sarah stayed the weekend and we had a girls weekend of FUN! Of course, we had a big bon fire out at fire henge… Maggie and Sarah were our fire pyros and though they had a little bit of a rough start and needed a little girl scout fluid to getter all big and roaring… once it was right, it was perfect. We sat around and stared into the flames, laughing and giggling and just having a ball. After it got gooood and dark, we went back to the barn to peek in on the roosting chickens and Sarah got to hold her first hen and a rooster, too! Her hen was Eleanor, our most calm and friendly gal. It’s always fun to have folks realize that they are so soft and lightweight. She was in love with our little banty roo Josh, so we nabbed him for a little forced holding. He was indignant but hey, roosting chickens are like so easy to catch and hold.

Then we went out to our firework viewing bench and Maggie put on a show for us! It was wonderful…. can’t believe we don’t have anything but a fireworks store 2 miles from us! haha… That’s the country for you. Our shows are brief but beautiful. We’re more into sparkles and shooting things, than huge noises, I suppose it’s just a girl thing. We prefer to ooooooh and ahhhhhh at all the beautiful fountains of color and sparkle! Of course, a good bang or two does add to the over all ambience of the event!

Afterwards, we retreated inside for pop and treats and then the girls went off to their rooms to be silly little girls for awhile. I know they are 21 and all, but I was so happy to hear them in there laughing and being silly, and making friendship bracelets and playing with the little kittens. Maggie was so happy as well, joining right in the fray and all smiles and giggles as well. I hid out in my room for a little knitting and relaxing with a movie. It was so nice to have a whole weekend for RELAXING! I really don’t think we’ve done that since we moved here!

Of course, after sleeping in… we got up and I got a phone call from a lady off a Craigslist ad I had called last week! About a porch swing!!! I was amazed, it was still available and just about 10 miles from the house in the nearby big little city! So we decided to go get it and spend a little time there, grab lunch and shop a bit and do a little garage saling! Oh, the porch swing is so wonderful…. I feel like the farm is starting to be perfect… there is already two big metal hooks in the screen porch that I just knew had to be swing hooks and sure enough, they are. We were a little worried about sitting in it, and one by one we tried it out. It held fine and pretty soon, no one was worried! Haha… They are in a big solid board and seem pretty secure. I wouldn’t want to be rocking and swinging with three people in it hard, but that’s not really our style anyway. I spent a little time just sitting and holding Odin our angora buck, swinging in the afternoon breezes, soaking up a little sun. It was fantastic.

When we got done with our lunch and shopping, we came back to play bunny beauty parlor. Everyone loves holding and fussing with the angora bunnies, they are like bunnie Barbies and you get to do their hair and brush and cuddle them. Everyone had a bun bun and we were clipping and trimming and treating them like the little bunny divas they are.

I have to report that Odin and Grizzelda, the two mistreated bunnies we had gotten just about a month ago, they are doing fantastic. Odin, especially. He is nearly all groomed out of yucky hair and matts and his weight is finally starting to fill out his bony little frail body. He is so sweet and trusting and I was so amazed that I got a nearly two hour grooming session with him on Saturday! That was a huge thing… he was so content to just be held and treated and snuggled as I trimmed a lot of the yucky last bits out of his coat, especially on his tummy and nether regions. That is a HUGE trust thing, to be on your back and someone is clipping and brushing in your more private areas, he has finally relaxed and will allow that without a fight. In fact, he was really calm and content. I couldn’t believe it! I managed to get all the nasty fur clipped away and lots of tummy matts and such gone! He then went out to graze in the bunny tractor for a while! It was so funny to see him all stretched out in the grass, sunning himself and nibbling greens as the chickens wandered about and visited the bunny zoo.

Sarah loved holding Ozzy, our big German angora bun bun… they were snuggling and having a lovely time on the swing for a good long time. Ozzy is a real ladies man, and he loves attention from young ladies for sure! I think Sarah was surprised at how big and soft they were! She helped him with a little grooming aid, we think Gwendolyn and Grizzelda have been over grooming his cheeks a little too much and were making little fuzzy knots! They love to fuss over him all the time.

In the afternoon, our wonderful neighbors came down to help a little bit with party prep! Jr. and Carl had in their minds to patch up the pig barn loft roof! Well, okay… we were doing some chores in the back with the chickens, so it seemed perfect for a little work detail. There was a little patch of roof that had failed around the old chimney in the barn and they brought a bit of wood and ladders and managed to get it all nice and tidy in no time at all! I have to get a can of expanding foam to just seal up a little bit of it but I think we’ve saved that building from major deterioration this winter! Yeah!!! And then they got to work with a pair of chainsaws to remove a bunch of dead wood from the beautiful wind chime tree in the back! We love that old tree and now it’s all nice and tidy looking. Just wonderful! Miss Julia has been so wonderful with her glass and trash patrol… she’s been raking up and gathering bits of nasty stuff whenever she comes over, I think it’s a mission for her! I just love that she wants to help and can’t believe how blessed we are to have found such great friends!

The girls decided to make fire starters from pine cones they gathered on the farm, so that was fun to do after we were done with repairs and chores. It was like girl scout camp all over but with a touch of creativity and alchemy! We had read on the internet that chemicals such as borax powder, epsom salts and salt in the wet wax after you dip them, will create different colors in the fire! They wrapped the pine cones with yarn wicks and made a big old mess in the kitchen, laughing and dipping and creating.

We made BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches and chips for dinner and then waited for dark for another great bonfire with a little guitar singalong for fun. Ray, Jeremy and Amanda, our young friends from down the road, came over and we all had such a good time being goofy teenagers and singing silly songs and laughing at each other’s antics. I’m so thankful that I can be so young at heart that the young people don’t mind me hanging out with them. It’s so delightful that they can be themselves with this old lady tagging along.

We had a few fireworks left over from the night before, so that was fun to do. However, we had one special finale one that was the largest firework we’ve ever gotten! A 19 shot repeater!!! They had these $40 babies on sale, with a coupon for $9.99. One per customer. So I figured, why not? Wow… let me tell you, it was HUGE! And lit up the entire barnyard! And if we were in the city, we would have been visited by the cops in no time…. but out here? Oh heck, no big deal. I suppose IF we had any neighbors within a quarter mile of us, they MIGHT have been annoyed if we kept it up, but, it was only one. Haha… But boy, was it a DOOZY! Going to have to get one of those for open house party for SURE!!!!

And then we all walked out into the back pasture, far from the lights and star gazed! Sarah and Jessy are astronomy nerds and they love to watch the skies. They filled everyone in and we found the dippers and the North Star and a pair of planets and other cool constellations. You can see the Milky Way so beautifully out in the pasture. The night sky is so beautiful and vibrant, it’s like nothing you will ever see in the city.

By the time we were back in the house and snuggled in for the last of the sleepover weekend, it was just getting a little nippy. Oh, how I love this time of the year. Shorts in the day, sweaters in the evening. Super beautiful skies and just perfect perfect weather… low 80’s, 70’s and then cool 60’s for sleeping. I would have gotten a good nights rest if it weren’t for Miss Julia swapping me a book that I ended up reading all night long… that biography of Amber Frey, in that Scott Peterson/Laci Peterson murder trial of a few years back! Of course, a house of giggling girls playing games and watching silly hamster videos of their youth didn’t help! Haha… but it was so wonderful to have such a wonderful relaxing weekend finally! Of course, we still have 15 cards to finish before the party, but we decided on the drive home from taking Sarah back to the big city that it means each of us have 5 cards to finish in 2 weeks! I think we’ll make it!!! We’ll get started tomorrow for sure.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend… can’t wait for this week to unfold… I think it’s going to be a great week of accomplishment!!!! I can feel it in my bones!!!

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