So Much Going On

I can’t believe it’s been more than three months since my last post. Still, considering all that’s been going on, I’m surprised it’s only three months.

Where to start? Well, August was fairly normal – crazy busy trying to keep Bogie from being too much of a pest to Ducky. Bogie is an absolute love bug…sweet, loving, gentle…but still very much a puppy. And his youthful exuberance makes Ducky nervous at times. Frequently, to be totally honest.

Unfair Advantage

Then came September. Things were changing rapidly at our long-time vet’s office. Staff members that I had worked with while doing my vet assistant course externship had started leaving over the course of 2018, 2019 and 2020, but by the beginning of September only two remained. I knew from one of the last to leave that things had turned toxic. It was breaking my heart as well as my friends’ hearts.

Ducky had her annual wellness visit on September 23rd, and I could feel the tension just walking in the door. While the techs ran the various tests in the treatment area, hubby and I spoke with Dr. Simpson about Ducky’s hip dysplasia, discomfort, and frequent avoidance of Bogie. Dr. Simpson and I shared an unstated understanding of the sadness we felt over the changes. I told him I would stand by him, and I sealed it with a hug. And then the tech brought Ducky back into the exam room. A week later Dr. Simpson was gone as well. 😥 But we remain in touch. We’re like family to each other. He’s been Ducky’s primary vet for most of the last five years. And he’d been Bogie’s vet, too, since we first brought him home.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been busy managing hubby’s dementia issues, Ducky’s and Bogie’s relationship, Ducky’s hip issues, and Bogie’s “growing pains”. At times I’ve felt like running away from home, but the adult in me kept me from it.

Meanwhile, Dr. Simpson has been working on a project that he asked my help with, and I’m delighted to be a part of it. I feel so strongly about it that I offered to publish a blog post and ask for feedback from you, my pet blogging buddies.

After suffering the heartbreak of losing his beloved chocolate Lab, Nestle (Ness), he started thinking/wondering why he was expending so much energy on mediocre pet owners. He wants to help pet parents who love and treat their pets like beloved family members. And help protect them from the bad, sometimes dangerous misinformation they might find on “Dr. Google”.

The project involves building a community of likeminded pet parents; and eventually building a by-referral-only clinic to serve them and their beloved pets. One where he and the pet parents would work together to help the pets lead their best possible lives. One where mutual respect and trust is what drives the partnership between vet and pet parent.

For my part in this project, I agreed to reach out to my fellow bloggers for help. So, I have two questions for you:

1) As true pet parents, what is your biggest fear?

2) What makes you turn to Dr. Google for answers to your pets’ health issues? What are you searching for?

We all know there is a lot of misleading, sometimes dangerous information out there in cyberspace. Dr. Simpson would like to make a difference in pets’ lives by helping their humans find real, safe information when they need it.

I realize the holidays are right around the corner and that you’re probably already busy with preparations. So, if you could take take a few minutes to answer those questions for me I would greatly appreciate it. So would Dr. Simpson.

Finally, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA, so to all who celebrate it, I hope you have a safe, wonderful holiday!

Just Ducky

Since Bogie joined our little family, Ducky’s hardly had any posts of her own. So, here goes.

Just watching the world go by.
Hi Mom!
Worn out after a wrestling match with baby brother.
My turn in Mom’s chair!

This little girl has been, still is, and will always be my rock, my earth angel, my canine soulmate, and my sweet baby girl. She helps me with Bogie, tells me when “Dex” is lurking in the shadows somewhere, and knows me better than I know myself sometimes.

I love you to the end of the universe and back, sweet girl. And I always will. ❤️❤️

Two Minutes of Peace & Counting

How Long Will It Last?

Hubby got up and Ducky started barking, which got Bogie started. Thankfully they’re back to chewing on their Nylabones. They each have the one that the other started with earlier.

It lasted about five minutes. It’s quiet again now but only because they’re in different rooms of the house. 🤪

Saturday Morning Crazies

Just figured I’d share some of the shenanigans that were going on this morning.

And then this ….

These two hooligans keep us laughing, that’s for sure. They’re also going to make us both deaf one of these days. 🤣

I realized I haven’t posted anything in a while, so it’s time to share the growing friendship between Ducky and her baby brother. Yeah, she still gets jealous and snarky; but she’s playing with him more than grumbling at him.

Thankful Thursday

So much to be thankful for today, and every day. I’m just going to list a few….

I’m thankful for supportive family and friends.

I’m thankful for our very supportive primary care doctor. She is wonderful beyond measure, and we both love her.

I’m thankful for both of our two vets, and their caring staff, at Sunrise Animal Hospital just a little over a mile from the house. The vets both know and love Ducky, and are getting to know and love little Bogie.

With respect to the vets, I’m thankful for our excellent rapport. They both know that I have complete faith and trust in them to do and suggest what’s right for all my pups – past, present and future – and that if something they suggest doesn’t work, I won’t blame them – especially if I don’t follow their instructions to the letter.

I’m thankful that while hubby’s dementia has changed, at least he is still fully aware of himself, his surroundings, and his family. He knows something isn’t quite right with him, and it frustrates him; but he trusts me to do what’s best for him, to love him unconditionally, and to help him in any way I can.

And I’m thankful that Ducky is becoming more accepting of her baby brother. When she’s hurting from the effects of the hip dysplasia and arthritis, she gets snarky with him like she used to with Shadow, especially inside where she doesn’t have much room to get away from him

Precious Moment Captured

So, with all that said, we are joining the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop hosted by the humans and kitties of Brian’s Home.

I’m having trouble adding the blog hop links, so for now I’ll just publish and link my own post. To all of you who are frustrated with the WordPress block editor vs. classic editor, I feel your pain at the moment!!

Introducing Ducky’s Baby Brother

Bogie – think Humphrey Bogart – Oakes. Our little guy was born on Saturday, February 6th, along with his 12 siblings – exactly one week before Ducky’s 9th birthday. ❤️

Bailey’s 13 Puppies

We met this little cutie-pie when he was only three weeks old, and he and his 12 siblings were still barely moving far from Mama Bailey. Bailey channeled our sweet Callie that day to let us know that Callie, Shadow and Radar would approve of whichever puppy we picked out.

You My HuMommy!

One week later this little guy picked us out. While his siblings left my side in their playpen to go to Bailey for a drink at her milk bar, Bogie stayed with me and crawled on my legs and gave me sweet, tiny puppy kisses when I held him up to my face. Then I handed him to hubby and he made himself comfy in hubby’s arm.

You My HuDaddy!

It’s a good thing Bogie picked us because we would have had a hard time choosing one and saying no to the others! All of Bailey’s puppies are beautiful, just like their mama.

When we went back to see Bogie two weeks later, he had grown so much! And he was having a blast exploring his surroundings. And he loved hanging around hubby.

Bogie at 6 Weeks

We brought Bogie home on Saturday. And Ducky was curious but jealous. The green-gilled monster is controlling her inside the house right now, so we have to be really careful about their interactions. 😢 Outside in the yard, Ducky pretty much ignores Bogie. He tries to follow her, but he’s still a little slow for that. 😉 It’s just going to take some time for Ducky to adjust. She was jealous of Shadow, too, sometimes.

I wasn’t really expecting Ducky to become Bogie’s surrogate mama – like Callie did with Shadow – but I was hoping she would be more accepting of her baby brother. I suspect that as he grows and matures – and doesn’t require nearly as much of our attention – that she will begin to accept him. He is such a happy, sweet little guy and used to other dogs that he doesn’t recognize yet that Ducky doesn’t want to be bothered with him.

Curiosity

Happy Birthday Ducky!!!

Where have the years gone??!!

Ducky at 5 months, Foster Weekend

When we adopted you from the shelter, you were a little demon. Sweet to us and Callie, but you tormented Shadow almost constantly. Thank goodness Callie knew just what to do to keep you in line. And then daycare helped you work off some of that excess puppy energy.

Callie was on alert to prevent argument between her younger sisters

Fast forward some years and Callie had gone ahead to be our guardian angel. I wondered if you would ever stop tormenting poor Shadow. You did, for the most part. Callie must have told you to be a good girl. 🤣

Sisters at last

Then a few years later, when Shadow was sick and hurting, you stayed right by her side nearly 24/7 until we all said goodbye. Just before she left us to reunite with Callie you gave her a sweet goodbye kiss on her head.

Then there was your most special friend and foster brother, Radar. He was here for such a short time, but you two were best friends from the start.

A rare quiet moment between the 2 hooligans

When Radar left us, we were all devastated. As with Callie and Shadow, you kissed him goodbye just before he left to join your sisters. It took a while for you to accept that your buddy was here with you in spirit only. And that made it harder for me to adjust; but somehow the three of us helped each other get through another devastating loss.

I promised you – a few days after Radar left – that when the time was right, Daddy and I would find you a new friend, another brother. I asked Radar to help his sisters find us another Golden Boy for us all to love. Now I can tell you we’ve been working on fulfilling that promise.

My “little black demon dog” of 2012 has grown into my little earth angel of 2020 and beyond.

HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY DUCKY!!!! We love you sweetie!!!!

Happy Girl!!

Welcome 2021!!

Ducky, her “HuDad”, and I are asking 2021 to be kinder to us, and indeed to the whole world, than was 2020.

Ducky’s had better years than she did in 2019 and 2020, so I’m hoping this will be one of those better ones. She’s started this new year with a flare-up of the hip dysplasia and is a bit gimpy today; but with a little rest she should be feeling better tomorrow.

Not enough toys.

Meanwhile, my brother has been staying with us since the week before Christmas. I admit I was a bit worried about the COVID exposure; but we have all been very careful to follow health guidelines all along, and none of us have experienced any issues. We will all miss him when he goes home to his own dog (who is in the capable hands of his favorite pet sitter).

I’m not setting any goals for this year. I just plan on continuing to be a good wife and dog mom. I’d like to get back to reading my current book at some point. I do have a bonus challenge to do related to Ducky and our online course. It starts tomorrow and should be fun.

Well, that’s all for now. Ducky and I hope everyone has a good year. We are hopeful/optimistic that things will start getting better soon.

Happy Heavenly 16th Birthday, Shadow

Sweet Golden Girl

You came into our lives on December 7, 2004, and you reunited with Callie on August 25, 2019; but like Callie – and Radar – you will always be in our hearts.

This is not meant to be a sad post. It is a celebration of the years you were with us; years that were filled with love, joy, fun, and laughter, as well as tears of devastating sadness. Your presence made all our lives better, just as Callie’s and Radar’s – and Kissy’s before you – did. You all taught us so much that we could not have learned without you.

Today would also be Callie’s half-year birthday. You girls came to be exactly six months apart and came into our lives exactly six months apart. And the bond between you is eternal. It always gave me such joy to witness that bond on a daily basis. It’s one of my favorite memories.

Together in Life and Spirit, Forever

So, Happy Birthday my sweet Golden Angel. I will always love you (and your sisters and brother). Thank you for always watching over Ducky for me.

ACE Free Work, Ducky & Me

*ACE stands for Animal Centred Education, and is a program conceived and built from the ground up by a British gal by the name of Sarah Fischer.

To greatly simplify and shorten a long and complicated story, Sarah has been doing free work with many different animals for several years in an attempt to find reasons for their unwanted behavior, including reactivity and/or sensitivity to many things, people, and other animals. She also uses Tellington TTouch body work to introduce handling but ACE includes Free Work and detailed observations which give clues to a dog’s sensitivities. 

I first learned  about ACE and Free Work from my friend, Janet Finlay, who owns and operates Canine Confidence Academy in the U.K. and provides online learning as well as person-to-person workshops (up until the pandemic shutdown and will start again as mitigation makes it possible). I’ve taken several of Janet’s online courses over the years since we adopted Ducky, including the current (ongoing) one – Your End of the Lead 2.0 (an updated version of her original course by the same name) – to help me deal with Ducky’s reactivity. The courses also include private communities/forums where those of us taking the course can share our videos and stories without fear of judgment and form valuable alliances with other guardians of reactive dogs.

In some ways, Free Work for dogs is similar to beginner nose work; but instead of hiding treats, you put them in full view of the dog. Generally, we use a variety of surfaces, enrichment toys, etcetera, as the “course” layout so that the dog gets sensory information through its feet, nose, eyes, ears, etc.  Once the course is set up, you invite the dog to explore it.

If possible, video the session (so you can watch later to pick up on those things you might miss) while the dog is exploring and getting the treats and observe her/his movement and posture, noting things that they like, nervous system responses, preferences (with respect to the direction they move in, objects they interact with, etc). Don’t include items in the course that you know are concerning to the dog, or remove an item if the dog appears to be wary of it. And, importantly, observe without any expectations as to the outcome.  (Believe me, that last part takes some practice!)

The great thing about Free Work is that you don’t have to buy any special equipment – you can use whatever items you already own. And you can lay out just one or two items, or four or five, with enough room for the dog to move freely around them. (If your dog is super sensitive or tentative to her/his environment, it’s probably better to start with only one or two items so as not to overwhelm them.)

For Ducky, I needed a space where I could give her the freedom of eating her breakfast away from the main source of her anxiety – her “Daddy”. And, because she was so anxious at times that she wouldn’t eat out of her regular food bowl, I got out some different lickimats that I’ve purchased over the last couple of years. At first I just laid out the lickimats on the floor of my “office”. Then I experimented with different heights – like a 12-pack of toilet paper, an overturned Amazon box, and an agility cone (with the lickimat bowl inverted over it). Over the last several months, this has become Ducky’s preferred way to eat her breakfast. 

The ACE Free Work not only gave me a way to relieve Ducky’s morning anxieties enough for her to eat; but it also gave me a learning opportunity. While observing her movement around the room via the videos I posted, several of my course mates (and Janet) started picking up on clues that she had some definite areas of bodily discomfort. When those clues were pointed out to me – in addition to the clues I was picking up on myself – I saw something that greatly concerned me: that Ducky might have cruciate disease in her left hind leg. As you know from an earlier post, that didn’t turn out to be the case; but she does have dysplasia in her left hip and we now have options for relieving and managing the pain.

So, with all that said, if you’re interested in learning more about ACE Free Work, I suggest checking out Sarah Fisher’s website: http://www.tilleyfarm.org.uk.  There is a private group on Facebook, as well, called “ACE Connections” that you can ask to join.