Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 9/30 -- Works of Art

These collars were made by Alisha Navarro at 2 Hounds Design. The collars are being featured at the Dewey Beach Greyhounds in Art show and they truly are works of art. Of course, the greyhounds are, too!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Princess Needs A Throne

Bunny is generally the sweetest little hound there is. She is happy to greet us at the back door and lives to snuggle with us and be petted. There is a scenario that is replaying itself with greater and greater frequency however.

Bunny seems to feel that the couch belongs to her and me exclusively. However, when we are gone, Blueberry claims the couch as her own and there's nothing that Bunny can do about it. When I get home, I have my spot on the couch and often Blueberry takes the other end of the couch. While we are gone, Bunny won't push her luck, but when I am home, she jumps up in the middle, curling up against me and usually wrapping her neck around my leg in some fashion. Blueberry tolerates this arrangement when we are here, but I suspect that she tells Bunny in no uncertain terms that it's not happening when we are gone.

The new routine is that I am home with the dogs in the afternoon. Hawk is stretched out on the orthopedic dog bed, resting his weary bones. Lilac is curled up comfortably in her little nest. Blueberry is taking up as much space as she possibly can at the other end of the couch while I type on the computer at the other end. Bunny is curled up in a tiny knot between us, holding on to my leg and occasionally demanding that I stroke her head. This is all good until my husband comes home.

The dogs all leap up and run to the back door to greet him. This never fails. My husband is the Pied Piper of Dogdom and I've never seen a dog anywhere who could resist him. After a few minutes, the fanfare is over and the dogs begin to return to their respective spaces. My husband walks into the living room and sits on the other end of the couch, and that's when the fun starts.

Often, we begin to have dinner at this time, and he is sitting there, leaning forward to eat his food from the coffee table. Blueberry finds a bed and lays down to sleep on the floor with Hawk and Lilac. Bunny stands in front of my husband indignantly. My husband pretends not to notice. Bunny huffs while we begin to talk about our day. He'll sit up slightly and Bunny takes this opportunity to stand in front of him, letting it be known that she's trying to get by him to the couch.

Husband: Oh, Bunny, there you are! Did you want something?

Bunny: I've spent over a year training you and you can't figure it out?

Husband: Need a little scratch?

Bunny: (meaningful stare)

Husband: Oh! Did you want up?

At this point, he pushes the table away a little bit. Bunny then leaps up over him to the empty space between us on the couch. She turns once and then sits, leaning her back against the cushion and looks at him. Husband leans forward to get something from the table and Bunny slips in behind him, giving a sigh and kicking him in the back. My husband laughs and then stands up and moves to the chair. Bunny lays down contentedly, finally relaxed with the knowledge that she has kicked everyone off the couch. She rests her head against the armrest and watches everyone else for a little while, before dozing off for her evening nap.

Tonight, she scored quite a coup. She got to her spot in the middle and Blueberry got up and left. Bunny thinks that she kicked Blueberry off the couch, but I don't have the heart to tell her that Blue was really just going to get a drink of water. I'm not sure who will win the battle. We'll have to stay tuned for the next episode of Days of Our Couch.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Berry, Two Berry, Pick Me A Blueberry!

Recently someone asked how Blueberry came to live with us after we already had her mother. Since we haven't begun our vacation adventures just yet, I thought I'd go ahead and tell the story of how she came to be with us. Blueberry and her mother both retired at the same time. Blueberry didn't make it out of her maiden races and Lilac had weaned her last litter of puppies. They came together on a haul from the farm in Kansas. Originally, we were supposed to foster Blueberry, but one of the other foster families was interested in fostering with intent to adopt and they really liked Blue. I didn't mind not fostering her. As a matter of fact, I was happy to take her mother home instead. I figured a senior hound who'd had two litters of puppies deserved a soft bed to lay on.

Months went by. Blueberry was adopted by another lady who had cats. She had a lot of cats who were all Cornish Rex. She knew a breeder who would give them to her if they weren't show quality. We met her out several times and she was thrilled to have Blueberry see her mother again. That fall, the woman had to have surgery and she asked if we'd be willing to watch Blueberry while she recovered. We were no longer fostering greyhound because the inn was full, but we thought it would be fun to see how Blueberry and Lilac were together and we knew that it would only be for a short time. We agreed to have her stay here with us. The adoption coordinator lived a few blocks down the street from us, so I picked her up there and walked her home. She seemed a bit shell shocked, but when she saw a cat in our yard, she relaxed a great deal. She was just two and a half years old.

A month went by and the lady still hadn't said she was ready for Blue to come home. We went on vacation to Dewey beach and took her with us. She had a great time and she was getting quite attached to my husband. Everyone enjoyed meeting her. When we got home, the woman began to hem and haw, saying she wasn't sure if she could take Blueberry back home or not. Blue went to stay with her for a weekend and then we went to pick her back up. Her eyes were beet red. She couldn't get close enough to us and she stayed glued to us while we made pleasantries with the woman. We packed her up and took her back home with us.

I took her to the vet and we learned that Blueberry was allergic to cats. I had to laugh at the irony. She loved cats and thought they were great friends. We got some eye drops for her and went home, waiting to hear from the woman. Finally, in December, I was out walking her and our other hounds past the coordinator's house and she told me she had something me. She handed me some papers and said that the woman had decided that she couldn't keep Blueberry, but that she wanted her to stay with her mother. I was thrilled to keep her with us, because by then she'd gotten very attached to us, particularly my husband. We'd also worked hard to train some bad behaviors out of her that the woman had taught her. She was a lot of work, but we adored her.

Several times over the years, we've run into the woman who first adopted her. Blueberry has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with her. She sticks to my husband or me like velcro in those instances and she's been very clingy for days afterward when it's happened. I'm not quite sure why it affects her like it does. I don't think that she was mistreated there, but she very obviously wants to be with us, which is just fine with me. We love our Miss Almost Perfect!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Guess What, Bunny...

This evening as I sit on the couch watching television, Bunny sits beside me, her head wrapped around my leg as usual, and sighs softly. She is feeling a bit sorry for herself this week, because we have not been walking. I haven't wanted to leave Hawk at home alone, so we've been sticking close. She has tolerated this arrangement, but she also walks out the back door with her leash on at turn out time and stares pointedly down the driveway. Tonight, I shared a secret with her.

Me: Bunny, why the long face, puppy girl?

Bunny: I've been deprived of people admiring me and petting me all week. (sigh)

Me: I've been petting you a lot this week!

Bunny: Well, yes, that's true! (small tail wag)

Me: I have something that may make you feel better...

Bunny: You have my attention! Did you hire a puppy petter to come in during the day?

Me: No, but tomorrow is my last day of work for three weeks. I'll be home to pet you and take you places.

Bunny: (leaps off the couch in excitement, then runs back, leaps up and licks my nose) You're the best! This is going to be awesome! (She then runs to the bed and spins around) I'll save some room in here for you!

Hopefully, we'll have some good adventures to share soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Yesterday was a big event in our house. Lilac turned fourteen years old and we wanted to show her how happy we were to have her with us. That meant that we had to celebrate in grand style. We cracked out a can of Merrick dog food, which we do for special occasions, and mixed it in with their kibble.

Of course, the birthday girl turned up her nose at it and went back to the dog bed in the living room to lay down and rest. The others attacked theirs with various degrees of gusto. The birthday party seemed to be underway, even if the star for the day was celebrating in a somewhat understated way.

The first sign of trouble came when Bunny came back to bed with me. Instead of immediately curling up against me, she moved to the foot of the bed and just stood there. I called her to lay down, and then I heard the dreaded sound. If you're a dog owner, you know what I'm talking about. It's a sound that will awaken you from a dead sleep and send you running at superhuman speeds from whatever you may be doing as you call "no" in seeming slow motion. It's a sort of gagging sound mixed in with deep sound that comes from the gut and means disaster is imminent. It was. Bunny threw up on the bed and then looked at me with an expression of such despair that I couldn't even get mad at her. After all, these things happen. So, we took the duvet and the cover for it down to the wash and I went back up to try to sleep some more.

After a while, I woke up and came to the living room, leaving the puppy sleeping contentedly on the bed. Or so I thought! A little while later, my husband went in to find that she'd been sick again. More stripping of the bed ensued and the puppy was ushered into the living room where we could watch her. She curled up in a little ball and drifted off to sleep. We thought that was the last of of it, but we were mistaken.

At lunch time, my husband was supposed to go over to help his brother in law get a new swingset for our newest nephew. Just as he was leaving, Hawk stood up and promptly lost his breakfast. After helping with the clean up on aisle five, husband then left and Hawk laid down to rest. Surely now the crisis was over.

Surely not! Blueberry, the dog with the cast iron stomach, was next an hour later. That poor girl had a very rough time of it. She was sick for about five or six hours. Finally, she had nothing left in her poor stomach and she retreated to the couch after making sure that we'd steam cleaned our entire carpet, twice. Apparently she doesn't like laying on the damp carpet after it's been steam cleaned. I have been sick and I was exhausted after cleaning up after her all afternoon, but then, finally she'd gotten it out of her system. I breathed a sigh of relief that all seemed well.

That's when Hawk started getting sick again. I will give him this, he is a gentleman about it! He first went into the crate to get sick, and then began obliging us by going to the kitchen every time instead of going on the carpet. Unfortunately, Hawk's moved on from being just stomach upheaval to a major case of the dreaded Big D. I feel so badly for him. He's old, he's in declining health and he's a nervous kind of guy who just wants to make everybody happy. He continued to be sick through the night and into today. We are praying that we have finally seen the last of it this afternoon.

Several things strike me in this whole fiasco. One, we will never be serving our dogs fish products ever again. Two, Hawk is going to get a major reward for being considerate enough to keep staggering to the kitchen to get sick. And three, Lilac proves again that age and wisdom count for quite a lot. She's been resting a lot more comfortably on her bed in the last day than anyone else here!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

She's a Grande Old Birthday Dame!

September 20, 1995 was the day a certain black brindle hound was born in a litter of nine greyhounds. She was the only female in the entire litter. She went on to race for a while before retiring to be a brood mama to twelve puppies, born in two different litters.

The first litter produced the divine Miss Blueberry who also lives here with us.

It also produced Launchie Girl who currently resides in South Carolina.

There was also Peabody who as far as I know, also resides in South Carolina.

The second litter produced nine puppies, most living in Colorado, as far as I know. There was a blue male, a black male, a brindle male, a blue female, two red females, and three brindle females. These include Callista.

Lola is also one of her daughters.

So, after she had all of these beautiful puppies, it was time for Lilac to retire. She traveled to central Illinois on a hauler from Kansas one cold day in January of 2002. Her daughter, Blueberry, also traveled with her and a group of other greyhounds on their way to the cushy life of retirement.

Initially, I was supposed to foster her daughter; however, there was a foster family there who were interested in fostering a hound to keep. I told the woman in charge that it didn’t matter one bit to me if they took the blue brindle girl home. It would keep me from succumbing to a weakness to keep her. I turned to look at the dogs in crates behind me and said “That little old lady dog can come home with me. It’s about time she had a soft place to lay down!”

I opened the crate and clipped on her leash, then let her hop out. She reached her head up around my neck and gave a squeeze. It was like being hugged. People there that night said she’d never leave my house, but I laughed and told them that she was simply “foster number eighteen.”

The big adoption event that the dogs had been brought in for came and went. Every dog was adopted except for one. That dog would be Lilac. Perhaps it was her age, or maybe her coloring, or she just wasn’t what people had been looking for. Whatever the reason, she stayed here as a foster until the beginning of May that year.

In March, we’d had a caper known as “The Big Easter Candy Heist.” This involved Lilac using her powers of stealth to steal a carefully hidden bag of Easter candy from our bedroom and hide it behind our sofa in what we referred to as Lilac’s Fortress of Stealth. She would lay back there for hours, perfectly content in her little cave, something no other greyhound has done here before or since. She kept the candy hidden back there until my husband and I left to go run some errands. We returned to find that she’d corrupted Treat and Hawk into becoming candy hounds as well. There were candy bags, little pieces of foil and mass destruction spread all over our living room. Somehow, with that event, she became cool with Treat and Hawk. I also realized that I adored her and her crazy antics. She was always stealing something. I accepted in my heart that she wasn’t going anywhere and had decided we were her home. About a month later my husband accepted it as well and told me that if I wanted, I could pay her adoption fee in May as my birthday present.

I have never had a moment of regret that Lilac came to be our Grande dame. She is our sweetheart and love bug. I can’t imagine not having shared the journey of her life with her. Today she turns fourteen years old and she is as spry as the day we got her. She has had remarkably good health, aside from SLO and our scary event on Thursday, and we consider ourselves very lucky for that. My husband believes that she will outlive us all! I pray that will be so.

Happy Birthday, Lilac, and many happy returns!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Greyhound Reunion or Bust!

We have been looking forward to attending the annual Quad Cities Greyhound Adoption reunion for a while now. Bunny, Hawk and Treat were all adopted through QCGA and they're a wonderful group to work with. Bunny's mother and many of her littermates have also been adopted through QCGA or are waiting there for their homes. Bunny's sister, Gizmo is waiting for her spay surgery to be finished and then she'll be going home and Andy is still waiting to be adopted. So, we have really been hoping to see some of her littermates and see how they're doing.

This week we really weren't sure if we were going to make it. I've been really sick with what I suspect might be swine flu and we had Lilac's scary episode on Thursday. Since Lilac is resting very comfortably at home, we decided to let her rest in peace with Hawk and take Blueberry and Bunny up to the reunion for a little while. I am also feeling somewhat human today, so I figured that as long as I don't overdo it, things will go okay. I did ask who wanted to do before we left.

Me: Well, we're heading to the reunion! Who wants to go?

Bunny: I've got my collar on already! Meet me at the back door and sign me up for petting!

Blueberry: I'm in! Give me the cushy bed in the back of the van!

Hawk: The sky could fall there at any minute! Are you crazy?! Rattle the treat jar when you get back!

Lilac: In that moving, rattling box of potential death? Um, no, I think I've already cheated death enough this week, thank you very much! I'll be here on the big dog bed when you get back.

And so, it was decided. We all got comfortable in our selected spots and started the day off. The sun was shining, the air was cool, but not too cool and it seemed like the perfect day to get some rest and relaxation in at the reunion.

We had a safe and uneventful trip to the reunion and saw some people and greyhounds that we usually only get to see online. It was very nice to catch up with people and pet hounds. Bunny was in heaven with lots of people petting her and fussing over her. There were also lots of hounds to sniff. Blueberry relaxed and enjoyed herself in her own way while Bunny worked the crowd. There were a lot of volunteers who remembered her from when she weas in the kennel and she was more than happy to let them pet her. We thought we'd share some pictures of our day in closing. We'd also like to send out a huge thank you to the volunteers who help put on this wonderful event and keep the kennel running.

And yes, we did get to visit Bunny's siblings in the kennel!

Friday, September 18, 2009

There's No Place Like Home!

Lilac is now home and resting comfortably. She'd like to send her thanks out to everyone who wished her well, and so would I. We still aren't certain what happened.

The bloodwork and tests that were done all indicate that Lilac is extremely healthy for a dog who will turn fourteen years old this weekend. Her potassium and phosphorous levels were a bit low, so we'll be rechecking those in a couple of weeks. She's on antibiotics for the next couple of weeks and we'll be watching her closely.

They believe that she could have had a vestibular episode, which would be the best option. Vestibular disease seems to hit older dogs suddenly and without warning, and the symptoms disappear just as quickly and mysteriously as when they arrived. That's not to say that it's what she experienced for sure, but it is one strong possibility, and it gives us hope that she may go on to celebrate many more birthdays with us.

We celebrated her return home with a can of Merrick's canned dog food, which she actually got up and went in to the kitchen to eat. I'd expected her to eat on her bed. It must have smelled good enough to go to the kitchen for, though. She didn't want any of the whippersnappers getting her share. She is now resting very comfortably while it digests in her stomach, now doubt even happier that there are soft dog beds here at home. I don't think the dog beds at the vet's office are quite up to her cushy standards.

My husband has been convinced for a long time that she will outlive us all. She may just prove him right!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unexpected Curves

I am home sick at the moment with one of the worst cases of the flu I can remember having. There's nothing good about it. However, I am now thankful that I was home today.

As I was resting, I was contemplating what I want to write for the blog on Sunday. That is the day Lilac turns fourteen years old. She has never been sick, save the funky toenails that go with SLO, a day of her life. That is, until today. At two o'clock this afternoon, Lilac was napping. Suddenly, she began thrashing around on her bed. I thought she was having a stroke. I called my husband and the vet and started making preparations to get her out to the car.

She couldn't stand up and she kept thrashing around when I tried to move her. I took the other three hounds outside and got the car ready. I told myself that I could summon the superhuman strength that comes with a moment of extreme panic and need. I was wrong. Since she was on a dog bed, I decided that dragging her out on the bed would be the best and easiest course of action. Again, I was wrong. For a small, incapacitated dog, she was remarkably strong and she fought it with all she had. We got through the living room and the kitchen, then down the first back step and to the landing. I figured that I could drag her down the steps like she was on a sled if I held on to the ends of the bed tight enough. Wrong, one more time. She thrashed and fought and the next thing I knew, she'd fallen back into the hall closet. I couldn't get her out. I had to wait for my husband to get home and as he called me, I could barely breathe enough to tell him what had happened.

Since he was getting close to home, I went to bring the other hounds back in. Hawk ran off and jumped into the back seat of the car, hoping to go for a ride. Any other time, he stands at the bottom of the steps and looks helpless, hoping you'll help him get up. Blueberry and Bunny both went up, and both paused to look at Lilac, no doubt wondering what she was doing in there. I got Hawk out of the car and led him into the house. You guessed it, he wouldn't go up those steps. So, I helped him up the steps and then sat down on the step with Lilac to wait for my husband to get home.

As I sat there, Bunny walked out, quietly sniffing me to see if I was alright. She walked around and tried to see Lilac, but I think she sensed she shouldn't bother her too much. One little I'm here if you need me sniff and she turned to lay down on the bed beside me to help me keep vigil. My husband arrived and told her to go in the house, which she did. No doubt wondering why he was being so rude while she was trying to help.

We managed to roll her into a blanket and get her into the back of the van. I rode with her in the back while my husband drove the van faster than I knew it was capable of travelling. I really thought we were going to be saying good bye to the old lady.

After a check by the vet, they believe that she had a seizure and not a stroke. A seizure in a dog who's almost fourteen years old isn't a good thing, but it is better than a stroke. Our sweet old lady is spending the night at the vet's office tonight and we'll be learning more tomorrow when her bloodwork comes in. She was alert the entire time, her vitals are all pretty strong and there has been no unusual activity. These are all good signs.

Now, I'm going back to rest. I may be the one who doesn't make it to celebrate her birthday on Sunday. We have plans to attend our annual greyhound reunion on Saturday, but those plans may have to be put on hold. I hope not, but we'll see what tomorrow brings. I am much relieved that the news wasn't as bad as I feared it would be, but still concerned about our little old mama dog.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 9/15 -- Fufu Berry, Blueberry's Drink of Choice

Bunny Works Her Magic

Bunny thought today was going to be just like every other day when my husband and I get up and get ready to go to work, leaving her here at home, wishing she were out on some grand adventure. However, we had other plans for her today. As I have mentioned before, I teach preK, and on occasion we take the dogs in to visit the kids in class. Today was one of those days. Bunny and I had a little chat about it this morning.

Me: Bunny, do you think you'd like to come to school and visit the kids today?

Bunny: Are you kidding?! They're perfect for petting me! They're just the right size!

Me: Well, Dad's going to bring you over in just a little while. He's going to take you by the vet's office to get your toenails trimmed and then you'll come down to school.

Bunny: I'm going to get petted at the vet's office and at school?! This is the best day EVER! Let me grab my collar!

Me: We have some new kids in class this year. I want you to be on your best behavior today. One of the boys is really afraid of our classroom rabbit. I want you to be particularly nice and calm today so he isn't scared.

Bunny: The RABBIT! Somebody pinch me! I must be dreaming!

Me: Now just you listen here! That rabbit is off limits! The kids really like Sassy. She is not a snack!

Bunny: (sigh) Oh alright! As long as you promise there will be petting!

Me: I promise, lots of petting!

And so, a short while later, after a nail trim, Bunny arrived at the school with my husband. She has been there before and she was quite happy to be there again. She came into the room very quietly and it took a few minutes for the kids to realize she'd arrived. Many of them have seen her before and she has a bit of a fan club in my class. They often ask me how she is, what she's been doing and when she'll be visiting again. A few of them were told yesterday that she'd be arriving today, but for most, it was a surprise when she showed up. Bunny is particularly good with young children and despite the fact that she is a very young greyhound, she knows when to turn on the charm and when to be on her best behavior. Even as the kids mobbed around her, she patiently and happily accepted all their attention.

I am often surprised by what effect her presence has on the kids in our room. One little boy who often has trouble getting along with his friends and often hurts others was extremely gentle with her. He couldn't seem to get enough of just being near her. He told me that he wanted to take her home or get a dog just like her. His whole body relaxed while he sat beside her. She turned and touched his nose with hers and he was in rapture.

Not even Sassy could distract her from the kids for very long. She gave everyone a bit of her attention. The little boy who is terribly afraid of our rabbit was very curious about her. I asked him if he wanted to pet her, and to my surprise, he replied with a quiet "yes." We walked over together and I told him I'd stay with him. We moved the other kids away for a minute and I knelt down to pet her, keeping her head on the other side of me. He reached out and touched her and his face lit up. He'd overcome his fear and tried something he desperately wanted to do. The look of accomplishment on his face was really amazing. He bravely stood by her and petted her several more times. Bunny's patience and sweetness totally won him over. I think she has a new friend for life.

I'm sure that Bunny has no idea what a big milestone meeting her was for several of the kids today. She was just happy to get out of the house and have a small adventure that involved lots of petting. However, I do think that she senses who needs just a little bit of TLC from her, and she has a gift for delivering that at the right time.

But of course, the most important part was the petting!
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