Me and My Shadow ğŸŽ¼

….Strollin down the avenue….

Or in our case, around the ball field.

Just the two of us at the ball field across the road. 

Ducky’s at daycare. She needs the time with her doggie friends. It’s been nearly 5 weeks since the last time. And nearly 4 weeks/a month since her surgery. She was getting antsy and driving us all crazy.

So, today is Shadow’s day to have Mom and Dad all to herself. 

It’s about 75•F outside, even here in the backyard where it usually feels about ten degrees cooler. So, we will enjoy the breeze sweeping through the carport for a little while longer. Then I have some studying to do. Meanwhile, Shadow’s enjoying the peace and quiet.

Enjoy your day – whatever the weather brings – and we’ll see you soon.

Oh Ducky, Part 5 -You’re Growing Up!

So, here it is three weeks after Ducky’s back-end surgery and the great news is that she is completely healed physically.

And the physical healing seems to be having a healing effect on her emotions/anxieties/attitude. 

Since the vet removed the sutures and the “cone of shame”, Ducky has been showing her sweeter side more often.

I can’t really call her “Demonbrat” any more. This realization makes me sad and glad at the same time.

Sad because, despite her snarky behavior toward Shadow, I have always loved this little girl and used the nickname affectionately.

Glad because the snarkiness has been much less intense these last couple of weeks. And much easier to catch and manage. 

My little girl is growing up. And her “bratitude” is morphing into a “big” girl’s attitude. Her Corgi heritage, her herding instincts, will always be a part of her.  And her Lab heritage, her retrieving instincts, added in make for an interesting, lovable mix of personality “quirks”.

Bless Her Heart

Ducky had some surgery on Thursday (2/23/17) that we hope will help reduce the incidents of UTIs and irritations of her vulva.
The vet says it will. So I have to believe he’s right. 


Meanwhile, she was miserable Thursday from the time I picked her up from the vet. All the way through Friday afternoon. The carprofen was helping keep the inflammation at bay. But it wasn’t doing anything for the pain. So, I asked the vet if I could give her some Tramadol. He said okay…25 mg. up to 3 times a day.

The Tramadol started working quickly. She was able to get some much-needed rest overnight. And after her morning dose and a nap before breakfast today, she is feeling much better. Not 100%, but still much better.

But she HATES the Buster collar. It gets in the way. Of her food bowl, of her toys, and of her sniffing out the critters who visit HER yard.

Whether she will acquire any patience is yet to be seen. It hasn’t impeded her snarky attitude toward Shadow. But having to wear the collar ALL the time is giving her a mental workout while she tries to play with her toys.

The sutures come out and the collar comes off in less than two weeks. By then I’m sure she’ll have figured out how to play again. 

Meanwhile, I came up with a new nickname for her: Ducky Smarty Paws. Or Smarty Paws. Maybe SHE doesn’t know the difference between “Smarty Paws” and “Demonbrat”, but I do. Positive association vs. negative association, regardless of the amount of affection in our tone. And it might just help with her attitude adjustment training.

Oh, Ducky! Part 4 – The Progress Continues

And the progress continues…..

Since I “published” Part 3 (found here), Ducky has come a LONG way.

And hubby has been less grumpy with her (and even with me).

And my patience level – at least with Ducky and her daddy – has stabilized somewhat. In other areas not so much but I’m working on it.

But back to Ducky….


Since I started using the H-style harness, my little “demonbrat” has become easier to settle down. And my – and hubby’s – tone of voice has grown less harsh. And the tension has eased somewhat.

After re-reading the last paragraph of Part 3 -and really observing Ducky’s behavior patterns – I decided that the Trazodone wasn’t helping Ducky at all. So off to the vet we went. Again.

The vet suggested – and I agreed – to try Xanax instead of the Trazodone. The Xanax – I’m happy to report – started helping right away. Between it and the single daily dose of Fluoxetine, Ducky has been calming down much more easily. She hasn’t been as snarky with Shadow, which is good, but still needs improvement. These things take time, perseverance, and loads of patience. 

Plus, the UTI had come back – or never really went away – so, since we were already at the vet’s anyway, I brought up that fact. He said that the UTI is probably as much to blame for her tail tucks as our impatience. She was just plain hurting back there. And she’s much more forgiving of our failings than we are ourselves. He changed her antibiotic, and for the most part it helped. The wet leaves, dirt, and grass from all the rain we were having seemed to aggravate it a bit though. So I took to cleaning her after potty breaks, and that seems to have helped. We’ve had some pretty days again lately so the grass and leaves have dried out. That has helped, too.

As for the online course I was doing?  I had to put it aside for a little while. I haven’t stopped doing it altogether. I just had to slow down with it. After decades of “multitasking” at work, it’s hard to reset and focus on just one thing at a time. I have to make myself slow down and relax sometimes.  I can’t expect Ducky to relax if I’m hyped-up. 

Oh, Ducky! Part 3 – Making Progress

Before I get started on this post, let me say HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!

So, for those of you who are interested but missed Parts 1 and 2 of this “Oh, Ducky!” saga, you can find them here and here.

And for those of you who have been following along and waiting (or not) for the next “installment”, here goes…

Back at the beginning of November the Whole Dog Journal published a blog post entitled “Listen to Your Gut When It Comes to Your Dog – and Act on It!”  by Nancy Kerns. I skimmed over it, put it aside, and promptly forgot about it.

Until a few days before Christmas that is.

I was working with Ducky out in the back yard. About ten minutes earlier she had gotten a bit snarky with Shadow – again – over who knows what at this point.  This has been going on almost daily for more than two months. I’m tired of it.

And I’m tired of her barking her fool head off at hubby and acting like a cujo dog every time he gets up out of his chair to do whatever.

And I’m really tired of hubby yelling at her to stop barking at him. I love him to the moon and back; but sometimes he drives me up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the opposite wall. Yelling at a dog to stop barking is like laughing at a little kid while telling  said kid to stop laughing. Ya know?

Admittedly, my frustration with the situation tends to surface in my tone of voice and transfers to my patience level. Or lack thereof.

Anyway, I’ve been working with Ducky on her place command pretty intensely and will continue to do so. (Especially in the morning so I can study or just read.) She settles down into a little nap pretty quickly once she’s had a chance to relieve herself out in the yard.

But, while Ducky continues to do what I ask of her most of the time – providing there aren’t any tree rats or other critters to distract her – I’ve noticed some momentary tail tucks. And that breaks my heart.

So, I’ve started an online course to help me get a handle on Ducky’s reactivity by getting a handle on my own reactions to her behaviors. I just started the course last week, but I’m starting to see some progress….

Normally Ducky starts getting snarky when I’m giving her (Ducky) attention and Shadow starts approaching us. That’s been my impatience trigger. This past week I’ve been forcing myself to stay calm when Ducky starts getting snarky. I’ve just held her in place, told her to relax, and kept her there until she calmed down. The shuddering and shivering as she calmed herself Thursday morning only lasted less than a minute.

So, we’re making some progress. Whether or not the combination of the Fluoxetine and Trazodone is any more effective than just the Fluoxetine by itself I may never know. But as long as the two together – along with the change in my approach to the problem – works, I’m not going to look a gift dog in the mouth.

Oh Ducky, Part 2

If you read my Oh Ducky post, you know that Ducky went after Shadow for apparently no good reason about ten nights ago. If you haven’t read part one yet, you can find it here

Well, the following Wednesday  I brought Ducky to see the vet. We decided to do a complete blood work-up – a CBC, a chemistry panel, and a T4 thyroid test – and a urinalysis, just to be sure there was nothing medical causing Ducky’s behavior toward Shadow.  I’m happy to say that all results came back “normal”, so we can rule that out. 

The vet suggested trying an antidepressant called Trazodone, in addition to a reduced amount of the Prozac. He told me what to watch for, and to call him tomorrow with any questions. So, I went up to the vet’s office and picked up the prescription. When I got home, I gave Ducky her first dose.

While the Trazodone is getting into her system, the reduced dosage of fluoxetine (generic Prozac) seems to be leaving Ducky a bit hyper-sensitive to our moods. 

Now, we have to find a way to help Ducky deal with her anxiety and the stressors here at home. Stressors like the hubby’s total lack of patience when he first gets up in the morning. And, admittedly, when she starts getting the least bit snarky with Shadow, my voice tone tends to get sharper than I intend. So, hubby needs to stretch the limits of his patience; and I need to soften the tone of my voice. 

Meanwhile, I googled “Trazodone for dogs” and found a slew of links to read. I saved the page to my iPad bookmarks so I can start reading them as soon as possible. No, I don’t depend on Google for all my answers. It’s  just a starting point.

The good thing is that Ducky is not snarky toward Shadow all the time, just when she’s feeling – oh, what’s the word? overwhelmed maybe? I guess – below par.  

Oh, Ducky… 

I started writing this post last night – and accidentally published it with just the title – but have since trashed it. So, bear with me as I try again to put the story out there into Blogville.

Last night Ducky got snarky with Shadow again. Not just the growling and grumbling type of snarky, but the nasty, scary, “I want to hurt you” type. Poor Shadow was totally taken aback, totally surprised by Ducky’s viciousness toward her. So were hubby and I. It happened so fast that even though I caught a glimpse of it coming, I couldn’t get out of my chair fast enough to prevent it. And, believe me when I say I’ve become quite adept at preventing these horrible moments. But this one I missed – the earliest clues at least – completely.

Shadow was standing near the one dog bed, looking at it as if trying to decide if she wanted to curl up on it. Ducky was standing nearby. Hubby and I were watching a movie, and at first neither of us noticed Ducky’s intense focus on Shadow. Suddenly Ducky was growling and trying to bite Shadow’s front legs while Shadow tried to back away from her. Ducky wouldn’t let go. I tried a few times to grab Ducky’s collar from behind her; but Shadow was trying to defend herself, and I didn’t want her to accidentally bite me in the process. I finally managed to grab Ducky’s collar and pull her away as Shadow backed away. I smacked Ducky on the rear end, shouted “bad girl!” at her, and then closed her in the room downstairs for a while so I could tend to Shadow. Admittedly, smacking Ducky on the butt probably was not a good idea, but she sure knew that I was angry.

Shadow was physically fine. Hubby thought he noticed her limping but then said she seemed to be walking normally. I lovingly checked her over – head to toe – and found no sign of any damage. So I gave her lots of belly and chest rubs and kisses and reassured her that she had done nothing wrong and was, as always, a very good girl. And she quickly forgave her little sister. I figured it was time to check on the little brat.

I went downstairs, clipped the long leash to Ducky’s collar, brought her back upstairs and put her in a place command on the new dog bed we received recently. She looked at me with those pleading, sorrowful eyes and fell asleep. I kept the leash attached to her collar and the handle end in my hand the rest of the night until we came in from their bedtime potty break. Hubby and I took turns watching Ducky so we could each get ready for bed. She had calmed down by then, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Since I got up this morning I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what caused Ducky’s “outburst” last night. At the time there didn’t seem to be any truly good “reason” for it. Shadow wasn’t anywhere near Ducky’s favorite toy. And she certainly wasn’t coveting any attention from either hubby or me.

It dawned on me that any time Ducky has been snarky with Shadow these past 15 months (since Callie became a heaven’s angel), it has been when she was feeling under the weather for whatever reason. And most of the time that reason was at least partly due to her anxieties.

Recently I’ve been seeing that Prozac may be having negative effects on dogs being treated with it, as Ducky is, for anxiety and the canine equivalent of OCD (whatever they call it in veterinary medicine). I have some research to do this weekend. On Monday I will be making an appointment with our vet to discuss Ducky’s renewed snarkiness toward Shadow. I want to go to the appointment armed with as much information as I can find so we can decide on our options. I am beyond fed up with Ducky’s snarky treatment of Shadow. While there’s no chance I would ever surrender her to the shelter, I’m not going to allow this behavior to continue without consequences that she can understand. There has to be a way to help her medically in addition to exercise and positive reinforcement. So far today she is back to being the sweet and sassy little pooch I fell in love with four years ago – playing nicely with Shadow here in the yard and in the house.

Sorry, no photos today folks. Just me thinking out loud and sharing my thoughts.

It’s Amazing…

What a diet free of table scraps can do for a dog – specifically my dogs!

For the past several weeks, both Shadow and Ducky have not had any table scraps sneaked to them by the dog-daddy – mostly because I’ve been watching him like a hawk and not giving him any opportunity to do so – and their digestive systems are reaping the benefits.

Yes, Ducky had a cluster of minor IBS episodes a few weeks ago; but those were due to her anxieties. And to issues I’d rather not talk/write about publicly.  Besides, our regular vet’s new associate took a look at things and prescribed CatLax to help with the physiological side. And it has been like a miracle drug for her. #ThanksDr.Simpson!

Anyway, just before our last order of food was due to ship from #Chewy, one of the customer service reps sent me an email to say that they had removed the food from the order because they were no longer offering it. I was frantic. Shadow has always had trouble transitioning to new food. What to do??!

I decided to take a chance on a similar recipe – same brand, just different recipe – and use what I had left of the other to transition her to the new.

I’m happy to report that we are down to our last can and a quarter of the old food; AND no adverse reactions. Even without the Metoclopromide and Metronidazole, Shadow has been transitioning without any problem at all.  Ducky is back on her prescription food – at least for now and maybe permanently – so no transition issues with her either.

Table scraps in moderation – like everything else – probably would not have upset the apple cart. BUT my definition of “moderation” and the hubby’s definition of it are eons apart. So,  I’ve had to become the food police for my dogs’ sakes. And it is amazing how much difference it makes in their appetite, their attitude, and their overall health.

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.