My sweet “Baby Golden” is 12 years old today. 

She is healthy, she’s happy, and she is without a doubt my shadow…as in that sun’s reflection that is always right next to you. And though she loves the dog-daddy, it’s me she looks to and looks for when she needs reassurance that all is well in her world.

It’s hard to believe that she’s 12. I still remember taking this picture on New Year’s Eve, 2004, when she was just 2-1/2 months old…

Isn’t that just the sweetest photo?! Callie was always protective of Shadow, from the day we first brought her home. ❤️

And here she is playing with Callie out in the yard when she was about a year or two old…

I know she still misses her big sister; but she has adapted well. Better than me, for sure; and she has helped me get past many leaky-eye moments over the last 14 months.

So, sweet Shadow, I hope that whatever we end up doing today will make your day as special for you as you’ve always been to us. I know that Callie is with us in spirit and in our hearts, smiling at you as she always did. 

So Much to Love…

It’s hard to believe that today is Ducky’s fourth Gotcha Day!  Time has flown by since our little demon joined the family!

Ducky is small compared to her older sisters, Shadow and Angel Callie, but there’s so much to love in this little package…

Her sweetness with the people and doggies she loves. She gives puppy kisses galore. And, according to her dog-daddy, to excess at times.

Her ability to keep Shadow young. Since Callie got her angel wings, Ducky has matured a lot and realized that Shadow is her best doggie friend as well as her sister. She still has her snarky moments over a toy or ball, but those moments continue to dwindle. They chase each other in the yard. (I have to get a video clip of that one of these days!) And they play in the house. 

She barks at anything and everything she hears or sees – when the spirit moves her. Some days she’ll bark at the breeze blowing or a tree branch falling on the roof. Other days she’ll just look up and then go back to her nap.

She barks at hubby when he first comes out of the bedroom in the morning. He gets grumpy over it – he’s definitely NOT a morning person – but I have to admit it’s kinda funny, even if it is annoying at times.

She runs the fence line on both sides with our neighbors’ dogs. There’s nothing aggressive in any of their body language. They’re just saying hello and getting some exercise running back and forth. When she’s had enough, she walks  away. 

She’s a fast learner. And even when I don’t reinforce her training for a while, she still remembers everything. (I just wish she would apply that to wearing the muzzle. That is a slow process.) 

She is still teaching me patience. Even though she’s not as hyper as she was four years ago, she does still have those moments. I don’t have my helper (Callie) here any more to show me how to deal with those moments, so I struggle at times. Especially when she’s being snarky with Shadow. Or blowing me off.

She makes us laugh. Every. Day. At least a hundred times a day. The way she stalks the squirrels. The way she paws and digs at the dog beds to get them “just so”. The way she barks at the dogs next door and then ignores them. The way she walks through a spider web on the porch and then paws at her face to get it off her nose. (I wish I’d gotten a video clip of that too!) But here’s a photo of her with a spider web on her head…

A Heartbreaking Anniversary 

Today – this morning actually – is the first anniversary of our precious Callie getting her angel wings.

I’m handling it better than I expected to. Yes, it hurts like hell. Yes, I miss my girl more every day. 

But – a BIG but – she’s not suffering any more. She’s a healthy, happy soul again free of her earthly form. I’m happy for my girl. 

I’m happy to have been her mom. Happy for all the wonderful memories she gave us. Happy that she helped me raise her and her younger sisters. 

Life has not been the same, will never be the same, without our beautiful girl. But we’ve adapted, adjusted, and done our best to move forward. 

I watch Shadow during the day. She prefers to sleep in Callie’s old favorite spots – in front of the bathtub, on the one dog bed of Callie’s that wasn’t ruined during her illness, on the kitchen floor next to my chair, and right outside the bathroom door while I’m taking a shower. And she loves to play fetch and keep-away, just as Callie did. Odd that she won’t play with Callie’s stuffed toys though. I know Callie wouldn’t mind – she was always good about sharing all the toys. 

And Ducky? In her own way I’m sure she misses Callie; but she’s been playing more with Shadow. And giving Shadow good-morning kisses when I first let her out of her crate. And she’s not snarking at Shadow as much any more. I think she has figured out that Shadow is truly her best doggie friend as well as her big sister. I’m pretty sure Callie is smiling down at them both. 

I still need to dab at my leaky eyes with a tissue at times. The realization that I can’t stroke her fur or kiss her good night, watch her snuggle with Shadow, or watch her teach Ducky to mind her manners still feels like a dagger in my heart. Yet the memories of such moments make me smile, with or without tears.

Hubby said last night that “she left us too soon”. I said that “even if she had lived to be 15 and a half, like Kissy, it would have been too soon.” But she hasn’t really left us. Her earthly form is gone, but her spirit is always here with us. She watches over us. And occasionally she lets me catch a glimpse of her spirit. Somehow she lets Shadow know, too, that she is still here. I sense it at times.

Reflections on the Past Year

As I sit here drinking my second cup of coffee – listening to and watching Shadow nap and Ducky eat her breakfast – my thoughts wander off to memories of my sweet Callie. And Kissy. It has been a year (last week) since our vet called to tell us the lab results confirmed his diagnosis two days earlier of Callie’s lymphoma. We had already decided to go ahead with the chemotherapy. If there was even a slight chance that it would improve Callie’s prognosis – which Steve felt it would – we had to do it. And it did help some. Her eyes brightened, she started playing more often, and the visible tumors had started to shrink in size. But the cancer had started to spread internally despite the chemo. 

Callie was a trooper. She did her best to hide her pain and discomfort. She continued to play with her sisters as much as she could. She even took the time to teach Ducky how to behave, and to teach Shadow how to tolerate and deal with Ducky when she was snarky. She knew we humans were in denial about her remaining time with us, I guess; and figured her younger sisters needed to start getting along with each other to make life easier for us.

Kissy and I shared a bond that I thought I’d never have again. We were each other’s soulmate, best friend. She was the first dog who was mine from the start; my “baby” as opposed to my “baby sister”.  I was “Mommy” and I took the responsibility for her health, happiness, and overall wellbeing to heart. I considered her needs in every decision I made from the day I first brought her home at 16 weeks of age to the day I held her in my arms as the vet gave her the final injection when she was 15-1/2 years old. Although I loved my husband with my whole heart (and still do), Kissy’s departure left me heartbroken and empty. At first I didn’t think I’d ever get another dog. But as each day passed, I missed hearing the pitter-patter of little puppy feet on the kitchen floor more and more. I knew what was missing in my life. And I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I had another dog in my life. Hubby resisted at first, but I wasn’t giving in. He finally agreed to another dog on the condition it not be another small dog. I was okay with that. We decided on a Golden Retriever.

Kissy found Callie for me. She knew Callie would be perfect. As a puppy, Callie had been as sweet and affectionate as Kissy. In some ways, even more so. And as she grew up, she remained sweet and affectionate. But she was also self-confident, independent, and a little “bossy”. And, like Kissy, a quick learner. And when I decided she needed a playmate, another dog to keep her company when we had to be away from home, Callie took it upon herself to be surrogate mama. Kissy knew Callie would help fill my emptiness and so she went back to sleep in my heart and allowed Callie to take over.  

Callie was my heart dog, too. Kissy had been totally dependent on me her entire life, at a time when that was what I needed in my life. Callie was my independent girl, but with a heart of gold. She was my helper, my teacher, my best friend as well as my canine daughter. She helped me raise Shadow, and then Ducky.  And to be honest, she did a better job of raising them than I did. She taught them both how to be dogs and enjoy life. And she taught them how to get along with each other once she was gone. Ducky was a better student than I gave her credit for at first.

Shadow has always been a “Velcro dog”.  I named her “Callie’s Shadow” because we got her to be Callie’s buddy, cohort, and companion. The name fit her perfectly.  They were only six months apart in age, so we never really thought about one of them ever being without the other. 

Since Callie’s departure to the spirit world, Shadow has become MY shadow. A little more each day. She seems to have accepted the fact that Callie isn’t coming home, at least not in her earthly form. But she still prefers to sleep in Callie’s favorite spots – other than the (human) beds – and play Callie’s favorite outdoor game. And she sniffs at Callie’s favorite stuffy toys when I take them out of the closet, even though she walks away from them after a moment or two. I know she misses Callie. She misses the snuggling, the grooming, the companionship, all the moments they shared from day one.  All those moments that can’t be replaced, only added to, as each day went by. 

Every time that hubby and I have to leave the house without Shadow – whether Ducky’s home or at daycare – I feel guilty. And I feel like we should adopt another senior Golden Retriever to keep Shadow company, and to be her friend. 

Two things stop me. First, the mere fact that we just cannot afford a third dog at this point in our lives. And second, but more important, I don’t want to risk a setback in the relationship between Shadow and Ducky. Ducky was always competing with Shadow for Callie’s attention. Callie was “top dog” and Ducky knew it. She didn’t want Shadow around when she played with Callie. 

Now that Callie is here in spirit only, Ducky is happy to have Shadow around even though she still gets snarky with her at times. And Shadow likes to play doggie games with her little sister. A third dog – I think – would just upset the applecart all over again. Someone would end up being left out of the games. And I’d end up feeling guilty about it. So, when we leave the house without the dogs, I ask Callie to watch over them. And I try to put my guilty feelings aside.

Know Your Limitations 

Last Saturday – while I was in the shower – hubby was outside, getting ready to bring our riding lawnmower for service. He tripped on the side of the concrete driveway, fell, and landed hard on his left knee and shoulder.  He was coming back inside as I was going outside to help him load the mower on to the trailer…

Needless to say, we didn’t go anywhere the rest of the day.  I cleaned up the abrasions but he refused an ice pack. At 6 pm, he tried to get out of the chair and couldn’t. I had to call EMS. We got to the ER about 6:30. And we were there for 3+ hours.

Poor Ducky was totally confused, and stressed. When the EMTs arrived the first time. I had to put her in the room downstairs to keep her from acting out against them. That just added to her confusion and stress. When Sam was settled into the ambulance, I brought Ducky back upstairs and put her in her crate in the bedroom. I gave them both kisses and a treat, and locked up the house.  And followed the ambulance to the hospital. I didn’t see the girls again until about quarter to ten. By the time I got home, the poor dogs needed to relieve themselves and were hungry. Sam was being brought home in an ambulance in another half hour or so. Then the confusion and stress rose again for Ducky when once more she had to wait downstairs while the EMTs got her dog-daddy settled in the bed.

Sunday was stressful, too. But fast forward to bedtime. Ducky snarked at Shadow for trying to get in the bedroom.  Something she hasn’t done in a long time. And Monday morning they had another “altercation” over a damn ball. Luckily, no blood was drawn; but Shadow cried out before I could get Ducky under control and downstairs to cool off. And give myself a chance to cool off. Ducky may not understand the concept of timeout; but she knows when Mommy is pissed off. I gave Shadow a Tramadol to relieve the pain where Ducky clamped down on her leg, and reassured her that she did nothing wrong. After about 20 or 30 minutes, I let Ducky come back upstairs. They “made up” but pretty much kept their distance from each other the rest of the day. 

That’s when I decided I had more than enough stress having to play nursemaid to an immobile spouse. I needed help with Ducky. So I called the owner of Ducky’s daycare and asked her to put together a quote for me to resume a 5-days-a-week schedule for Ducky until hubby regains the majority of his mobility. 

It’s not the ideal situation. I’d rather have Ducky home  – and she would prefer to be home – and learning to deal with her daddy’s situation with my help. But I know myself. I know that when I’m stressed and tired, my patience suffers.  And that’s not good for Ducky. Or for Shadow. Ducky needs an outlet for her turbocharged energy – and her stress – that I can’t provide all day long right now. Especially with Shadow on leash restriction. And Shadow needs focused love and attention. So, for now at least, Ducky will be spending at least half a day at daycare every weekday.  She was worn out yesterday afternoon when I picked her up; and there was peace between my girls all evening, even at bedtime.

So, my advice is this: when you’re in a stressful situation, acknowledge your limitations and gather the courage to ask for whatever help you need. You’ll be doing yourself and everyone you love and live with a big favor. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

Friday Fun

This heat and humidity is horrible today! So bad that even Shadow – who loves being outside – couldn’t wait to come back inside after relieving herself.

Ducky’s at daycare today, so we had some “just me and my Shadow” time. So glad Shadow loves this game. It’s perfect for when she’s on leash restriction like she is now. I do all the work and she doesn’t have to move.

As long as Shadow’s happy, I’m happy. Right now she’s napping. In about 20 minutes I have to leave to pick Ducky up at daycare. 

What kind of games do you play with your dog(s) when they have to remain relatively quiet?  

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Sharing What I’ve Learned

As some of you know, I am enrolled in the Animal Behavior College’s Veterinary Assistant course. I won’t go into the details of the course here; but if you’re interested, you can check out their website by following the link.

Anyway, I’m currently working on/studying for the test in Surgical Preparation and Assisting. This morning I was working on the post-operative recovery period and got an idea for a blog post. So here goes…

Many of us pride ourselves on knowing our pets well enough to know when they are ill or injured. For the most part, we are; however, nothing can burst our bubble like a devastating diagnosis of illness or injury.  I found that out for myself last August when our vet told us that Callie had lymphoma. Callie was a very stoic girl. She hid her pain from us quite  well. And, because she had also had her second CCL repair surgery the previous October, I convinced myself that her occasional lethargic behavior was due to the excess stress on her hips.

Callie’s illness and subsequent departure from Earth has made me even more observant of her sisters, especially Shadow.  Yet, even now, I sometimes misinterpret – or completely miss – a sign that one of them is in pain. Like I did with Shadow on Tuesday afternoon. So, when I came across the warning signs that an animal is suffering some post-operative pain, I decided to share them with y’all because they’re also signs of pain in general.

  • Restlessness
  • Reluctance to move
  • Whining/crying
  • Chewing or obsessive licking of themselves
  • Thrashing
  • Anorexia, or refusal to eat or drink
  • Behavioral change, such as depression
  • Increased respiration and/or heart rate

(That last one may not be something that you would necessarily be aware of.)

Please keep in mind that I am not a veterinarian. If you observe any of these signs in your pet, please do not hesitate to at least call your vet and discuss them with her/him.

As for Shadow, she is okay. She was running the fence line with our neighbor’s dog on Tuesday afternoon when suddenly she either slipped or stepped down wrong and ended up in a heap on the grass. She stood right up again but she was holding her left hind leg up as she walked toward me. I thought “oh no! Please tell me you didn’t tear your ACL!” Rather than panic, I gave her a mini-massage, let her walk around the yard a little bit to stretch it out, and a few minutes later she seemed to be good as new. We played for a minute or two and went back inside. Just before hubby and I left to go get dinner, I brought Shadow and Ducky outside to relieve themselves and Shadow appeared to be walking normally. When we arrived back home, though, she was limping horribly. I gave her a Tramadol tablet, and it seemed to help a little bit. She wasn’t limping as badly by bedtime but she was still restless. So I called the vet in the morning and got an appointment for Thursday morning. Meanwhile, I kept her on the leash when we were outside and gave her more Tramadol to ease the pain. The vet watched her walk around the exam room and elatedly said it was her CCL but not a tear. Relief! And a quick thank you to AngelCallie for watching over her sister. Shadow is on leash restriction and Carprofen for these next three weeks. I’m looking into getting a ramp for her, soon. I’m going to give her a Tramadol now and walk her around the back yard a little while.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Delayed Reaction?


Time for another review! Can you believe another month is nearly over already? It seems like this year just started and it’s nearly half over!

Today Ducky and I are reviewing the Earthborn Holistic Cheese Flavor EarthBites treats that our friend at Chewy.com sent us.

At first these treats didn’t seem to bother Shadow’s reflux so I figured they’d be a good alternative to the “people” cheddar cheese that the dog-daddy had been spoiling them with on a daily basis (among other people treats I didn’t know about).  Well, last week, when I was getting ready to do our little photo shoot for this review, Shadow got sick.  Turns out she had a bout of IBS thanks to all the people food. I believe that most things are fine in moderation; but my definition of “moderation” and the dog-daddy’s definition are oceans apart, apparently.  So, once again, we’re back to the NO PEOPLE FOOD diet for both girls.

Anyway, because of Shadow’s delayed reaction to everything, I put the review aside and now cannot get a picture of Ducky enjoying one of these treats without Shadow trying to horn in on us.  

What I can tell you is that both Shadow and Ducky were enjoying these treats before Shadow got sick.  But the vet said to limit Shadow’s treats to one specific treat that she likes, and make sure it’s not this new one.  Poor girl. (She is feeling better now, so no need to worry.)


Disclaimer: As a Chewy Influencer, I received one bag of Earthborn Holistics EarthBites Cheddar-Cheese flavor dog treats from Chewy.com in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.

Ducky, Shadow, and I would like to thank Sugar the Golden Retriever and Oz the Terrier for hosting this Chewy blog hop.

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Why I Trust Our Vet

Early yesterday I noticed a response to a comment I made on a blog post about the differences between IBD and IBS. This response, while well-intentioned I’m sure, irked me a bit. So I was glad that my friend had already responded to it by the time I noticed it. And she did so in such a way that I didn’t have to add my own thoughts.

Still, that response from a stranger bothered me all afternoon. So I’ve decided to get it off my chest, per sé.

Why do some people feel the need to suggest to strangers that they should change a pet’s diet?  This person doesn’t know me, my hubby, or our dogs, from a hole in the wall.  She has no way of knowing what kind of relationship we have with our dogs’ veterinarian; nor his knowledge of pet nutrition. And this person is not even a veterinarian herself. So, whatever happened to the “I’m not a vet” disclaimer? 

First of all, our vet has been our vet for 16 years. He has treated all of our dogs – from Kissy, my poodle who was five years old when I first moved us down here from Long Island almost 23 years ago, to Ducky, who joined our family nearly four years ago.  Our vet has been there for us through Kissy’s final days and through our beloved Callie’s battle with cancer and everything before, during, and since those “events.”

Our vet is a good man. He’s honest, forthright, compassionate, and he truly cares about his patients. He sells the prescription diets at his hospital as a convenience for his clients whose pets need them, not as a way to make extra money. The profit he might make off the sale of a case – or bag – of these foods probably wouldn’t buy coffee and a pastry at Starbucks.

When Ducky was first suffering through her IBS issues, our vet gave me his personal mobile phone number in case something came up for which I needed advice. (I tried not to abuse the privilege since we do have an emergency animal clinic nearby staffed by wonderful, caring folks.)

And when Callie was so sick at the end from the lymphoma, our vet and his wife took time out of their busy Saturday to meet me at his hospital and hook her up to IV meds that got her feeling better for most of the rest of the weekend. 

I’m aware that not all vet schools have provided much pet nutrition education in the past. Aside from a very basic course in dog and cat nutrition, I don’t have any formal education in that area either. I mostly rely on my common sense and some research. And our vet. I have not always agreed with our vet’s suggestions about our dogs’ diets; however, I have always known that his suggestions are made in the dogs’ best interests. Over this past year, I have fully transitioned Shadow and Ducky to one of the diets our vet suggested. And both dogs have done well on them. Much better than on the premium foods that I’ve tried for them in the past. And raw diets are totally out of the question. I won’t even discuss them any more. The raw diets may be good for some dogs – and I don’t judge anyone who swears by them – but they aren’t for us or for our dogs. And our vet agrees with us. 

So, I’ll close by saying that even when our vet and I “agree to disagree” on certain things related to our dogs, in the long and short run I will follow his advice.

Okay, rant over.  #LettingItGo


What I Love About Shadow

Two of my favorite bloggers – Jan Keefe at Wag-n-Woof Pets and Jodi Stone at Heart Like A Dog – recently published posts about things they love most about their dogs, Sheba and Delilah respectively. I enjoyed both posts so much that I decided to do one too.

My post is about Shadow. I chose Shadow for two reasons. The first is that before Ducky came along, the majority of my blog posts were about Callie and Shadow. As though they were both just part of a pair and not individuals. Like Tom and Dick Smothers. Or Sonny and Cher. Or Snoopy and Woodstock. That’s not the way I thought of them; but for the most part, that was the way I wrote about them. The second is that since Ducky came along – nearly four years ago – the majority of my posts have been about her. So without further ado….

I Love Shadow’s Sweetness – What else can I say? She has such a sweet, loving nature. Sure, she sees smaller animals as prey; but when it comes to other dogs and humans, she’s as sweet as can be. (There’s only one human I can think of that she just does not like. And with good reason. I’ll leave it at that.)  If you offer her a treat, and say “gently” or “gentle”, and rub her chin or chest, she will be your friend for life.

I Love Shadow’s Respectful Behavior – Shadow has always been respectful of another dog’s space – as well as ours. From Day One, she never approached Callie’s food bowl while Callie was anywhere near it. And unless she was super hungry, she always waited for Callie to at least start eating if not finish before starting to eat her own food. (Callie didn’t always return the favor though so I learned quickly to steer Callie out of the kitchen when she was done.) And when Ducky came along, Shadow accorded her younger sister the same respect.  And to this day, Shadow will only give me full-on eye contact if I ask her for it. And then only for a moment. She does not particularly like human hugs, but she lets ME hug her briefly.

I Love Shadow’s Blossoming Individuality – When Callie was still with us, Shadow almost always deferred to her older sister in any situation. Callie was, among other things, Shadow’s mentor, her teacher. Anything Callie did, Shadow was sure to do as well. Well, almost anything. Now that Callie’s in Heaven, Shadow does things on her own terms.

I Love Shadow’s Tolerance of/Patience with Ducky – When Callie was still here and Ducky competed with Shadow on every level for Callie’s attention and love, Shadow was at times low on tolerance and lacking in patience where Ducky was concerned. Who could blame her?  Callie was Shadow’s bestest friend – furry or human – and she got her snout out of joint when Ducky would try to push her aside. That’s part of the reason Ducky spent so much time at daycare during her first three years with us. So Callie and Shadow could have time together and with me the way they used to before Ducky. It was during Callie’s last several months with us that she started teaching Shadow how to “deal with” Ducky. And Shadow being the excellent student (blessed with the very best teacher) she was/is, took the lessons to heart and started applying them to different situations. Now when Ducky gets bratty with her, Shadow just gets up and walks away from her.

I Love Shadow’s Attentiveness – Shadow had always paid attention to Callie’s lessons – and had a great teacher – but she also pays attention to me when I’m asking her to do something. She may not always do what I ask, but she does listen to my words.

I Love Shadow’s Devotion – One thing that always struck me about Shadow was how utterly devoted she was to Callie (and vice versa). After each of Callie’s CCL surgeries, I had to walk her around the yard in gradually increasing amounts of time and speed. And every time Shadow was out there with us, making sure Callie knew she was trying to help her. And Shadow is equally devoted to her “dog-daddy” and me. She is always “right there” when we need her.  While she may not be all that sure of Ducky’s intentions all the time, I do believe she would protect her little sister if she felt the need to do so.

There are so many things I love about my “Baby Golden Girl”, but it would take forever to write them all down. I think this post sums them all up pretty well though.