Friday, December 31, 2010

Out of the Burning Ring of Fire

Cash "helping" Kevin get lunch out of amazing white food box
     Do you dear reader, ever have an inclining that you just MUST do something?  Even if you ignore that inner voice, it keeps henpecking until you give in and do whatever it is that "self" is demanding?  I had one of those days yesterday.  One of the rescue groups I, and Moonsong, work with frequently is Waggin Tails Rescue.  I had not been in recent contact with our WTR contact, Christie, for some time.  All day I felt that I needed to write her and let her know the events of the last few weeks.  I started an email to her at 10ish, then deleted it.  I told myself I was being silly, that we would just wait for a Moonsong dog.  Well, inner self was a real pain and kept bothering me!  SO about an hour later I sent the email.  I wrote that our last foster was adopted, that we lost Zeus, and that our cat was gone now too.  I also told her we were just not ready for another foster, but to keep me in mind if any mals or mal-a-nuffs came across her radar.  Amazingly, minuets later I received a response about a husky/mal/sneaky neighbor dog X who was on his last day at the Paul Pound.  The staff at the Paul facility are nice people, but the building is outdated and makes for a "hellish" experience for the dogs.  I talked it over with Kevin and the MMR gang and we decided to pull this pup out of the fiery pit and into foster care. 

Did you know there is a DOG in that box that holds dishes?

What IS that little box?

Cash trying to get Miley's attention
     Kevin and I were able to both drive to Paul to pick up our newest foster.  He kept his tail tucked between his legs, smelled awful, but dashed for the door outside the minuet he spotted the sun-filled exit.  We think he came into the shelter as a stray on the 19th or 20th of December.  Despite the stress of living in the pound for over a week, he bounced back quickly.  He fussed some on the drive home, but once we arrived at our home his tail started wagging.  We let him acclimate to his surroundings some before we introduced him to our three female dogs.  With all three girls he displayed perfect puppy manners and invited them to play.  Having the girls around helped him become more comfortable and responsive to us, the humans. 
Cash playing with Lilo & Sassy

     After watching "little Red" (he looks just like a mini-me version of Minadoka Red a mal rescue from the same shelter) play we decide to name him Cash, after Johnny Cash.  Anyone interested in Cash will need to be prepared for a large PUPPY.  He is curious about everything, which means is into everything.  Cash just growled at his own reflection in our patio door & keeps pawing at the "puppy" in the dishwasher reflection:).  He is super fun, but will need guidance to mature into his full potential.  While Cash has lots to learn about being a house dog, he is smart and attentive, and should progress quickly.  We will be vetting & neutering Cash next week and he will be ready soon for a forever home!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Endings and New Beginnings

  The past two weeks have flown by!  This update is late, but with family obligations and the holidays I ran out of time.  Orson, now Shasta, has been adopted by a wonderful family from WA area.  They flew into Idaho on the 18th and met Orson/Shasta that evening.  Jeff and his daughter, Kaya, visited with our family for several hours that evening.  We had a wonderful time meeting such warm, kind people.  Both Kevin and I felt Shasta would have a wonderful life with his new family.  It was a feeling of peace that washed over both of us to have such dedicated adopters pick "our" malamute.  We spent one last evening with Shasta while Jeff and Kaya shopped for puppy supplies and caught some Z's.
     The next morning they came with a fully-equipped dog-mobile and we said our good-by's to everyone.  It was such a joy to watch the excitement of everyone involved!!   Shasta loaded easily onto his new bed and the family headed home, to Shasta's forever home. Jeff has updated me on a regular basis, and Shasta is doing very well.  He gets along with all their four-legged creatures and loves Kaya!
Kaya & Shasta on the road home

Shasta snoozing in his fav place, by a tree!
     This is a great beginning for one lucky malamute.  
    Sadly, after Shasta left our Zeus seemed to let go.  His limp increased to the point he was only toe-touching and even dragging the toes.  We increased his pain medication to 3 pills, 3 times a day, but it did little to alleviate his suffering.  We had long ago decided that when we could not manage the pain it would be time to send him home; to help him cross the rainbow bridge.  On Monday we called and made an appointment for Thursday, December 23rd at 5 pm.  Kevin and I spent the next few days alternating between joyful memories, hugging Zeus, and crying.  Zeus was a special dog.  I know a lot of owners say this, or think this about their dogs in retrospect, but we always knew he was the dog of a life time.  Zeus was always a happy, gentle, serious dog.  He was an old soul, even as a puppy. 
"Baby" Zeus, around 8-9 weeks
     He was well behaved and yet, very fun.  On his last day we bought him a DQ soft serve ice cream cone, which he devoured with great joy.  We loaded the 3 girls and Zeus into the Jeep and made the drive to Magic Valley Vet.  Several of the vet tecs who have known Zeus since he was 4 weeks old, stayed to give the big guy one last hug, kiss, and told him what a "best dog ever" he was.

     Michelle offered to hold Zeus for the procedure.  We went into a room where the staff had placed a quilt for Zeus to rest upon.  He immediately curled up on the warm, fuzzy blanket. Dr. L came in and with in minutes it was over.  Both the vet and our tec cried with us; what a beautiful gift that Zeus was well loved by others, enough that they too shed tears for him.  We brought the girls in so they could smell him to know he was gone.  Shania, Zeus' bonded girl, was upset, but it was the right decision.  In the following days they have not waited for him to return, which I believe is because they know he is gone from this world.  They have mourned him, as we have. 
Zeus with 9 week old Miley

Kevin & Zeus
     Several people have asked when we will get another dog.  My answer is that I do not know.  We will continue to foster, and wait.  All of our pets have come to us, each in their own way, and we "knew" they would be staying.  

    Run free dear friend....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nollaig Shona Duit! (Merry Christmas to you!)

     Christmas is a season of traditions, practicing old and creating new.  One of those traditions is displaying a Christmas tree decorated with lights, garland, and ornaments.  This tradition comes from Germany and was made popular in English culture by Queen Victoria.  Exchanging Christmas cards originated in England.  Clement Clark Moore gave us our modern version of Santa Clause in his famous poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas."  In 1863 Nast, a cartoonist for Harpers Weekly, drew the modern image of Santa, he was a robber baron in reverse. (both versions are based on St. Nicholas traditions, a bishop in the 4th century). 
Kevin, Zeus, and the tree
     We visited our local "tree dealer" yesterday and found a great 6' "Charlie Brown" pine.  We live about an hour away from the South Hills where you can purchase a $5 permit and cut your own tree, but this year with school obligations we decided not to harvest our own (that and when your out int he woods a 10' tree seems small until you get it home!).  The dogs were all excited to have the tree arrive!  I can not imagine what sort of wonderful smells cling to the trees boughs, but they must tell an engaging tale. 
What is it?  A tree? For me?
     Orson has decided that Christmas must actually be a celebration for him.  As exciting as as watching the neighbors put up their lights, the delivery of the tree was even better!  The tree is Orson's own personal tree (or so he thinks).  He adores it.  He climbed into it when we first brought it into the house and has done so several times since then.  It makes me wonder if this is his first "real" tree.  All aspects of decorating were interesting and he supervised ornament placement. 
Investigation 1

Does anyone else know how cool this thing is?

Investigation 2

Investigation 3

Thanks for the tree!

Trying to dig Orson out of the tree while we put lights on, Investigation 4

Diving in again, just in case something changed overnight

I  Love Christmas!
     Kevin and I laughed as we placed balls on the tree as we remembered trees from years previous.  Last year our foster Mowgli, liked to gently steal balls off the tree, then dash outside and stomp on them.  Savina, our ACD, spent her first Christmas at the doggy ER after eating 9' of bead garland and half of the glass balls and a few lights.  Fast-forward to her 2nd Christmas (man we were dumb) and we had a repeat of her first Christmas.  Needless to say we did not have a tree the next year, or throughout Zeus' puppy years. Miley's first Christmas was at my in-laws.  She ate several bows and destroyed several gift packages (I think that was the same year she ran off with part of the turkey, too). Wow!  I can't believe WE survived Christmas with puppies.   
Miley resting in the lights, "helping

     On another good note, Orson is able to walk all the way around the block now!!!  He had to have a couple of rest breaks, but that is huge progress from the dog we first met. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Miley & Orson playing

Of course as soon as I pulled the camera out, they quit wrestling, but you can still see them playing!  Our cat is sitting on the couch (his throne) watching them with disdain!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Griswold Christmas

Kevin & Orson in the waiting room at MVVH
    I am one proud foster momma!  Orson visited Magic Valley Vet last Friday for a weigh in and T4 blood workup.  Orson has lost almost 20lbs; he is at 164 lbs.  We rechecked his blood work since he is losing weight to see if we needed to adjust his thyroid medication dosage.  Orson did need to have his med dose lowered, so he is on 1.4 mg of his Hypothyroid medication.  During Orson's first blood draw he hardly cared that the vet shaved his leg and drew blood.  This time he was a pill, which  is actually great news.  He wrestled with the vet tec, Brandy, when she put a tourniquet on his leg and smacked her with his paw. The vet was even excited by this behavior, since it means he is feeling much better.

    It is Christmas season on Pierce Street, which brings with it the "Griswold" lights across the street. I think the Target/Walmart/Costco fairy visits in the middle of the night. Every year our neighbors decorate every surface of their yard and house with lights, moving deer, a giant 7 foot Santa (who peeps in my bathroom window~really!).  That said, Orson has been fascinated by the light set up process.  He spends hours watching the men string lights between branches.  He especially likes to watch the men ride the lift around the trees.  I can't wait to see what he thinks of our indoor tree!
Orson on the edge of his bed, ready to tip over!
Hanging out together
     One last personality quirk, Orson falls off round beds.  He likes to lay along the very edge of his square bed and tries this technique on the round ones, which usually results in him tipping off the edge.  It is very comical.  
Winter afternoon naps
     This Christmas season, I hope we all remember not just the "Griswold" beauty, but also to share the joy of family and friends (2 and 4 footed) with others.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Twilight days for Zeus

    I am not a person who is usually searches for words.  Today, and the previous 7 days, have been different.  I took Zeus, who would be 8 on St. Patrick's Day, to Sun Valley last Tuesday to see Dr. Acker.  Dr. Acker is our orthopedic vet.  He did the TPLO surgeries on both of Zeus' knees about 4 years ago.  About two weeks ago I noticed a bump on Zeus' left knee.  I hoped something had changed with the plate in his leg and that worst case scenario we would have to have the plate removed.   Perhaps I knew better.
Zeus' healthy right leg
     I drove through a blizzard at 6 am to reach the Sun Valley Animal Center.  Dr. Acker was wonderful, as always. He did a needle probe of the lump and did not like the looks of the cells under the microscope.  He hoped to remove the lump and the plate. As we were leaving I heard the receptionist tell a vet tec they had a dog with a broken back trying to make it from Burley.  
Shania & Zeus camping this summer

    I spent and aimless afternoon with my father.  We ate at Lefties (very local pub ~ if your local you get your own beer glass with your # on it), visited the Goldmine, read books at the library, and sat by fireplaces watching the wind swirl power off roofs.  The blizzard seemed to be raging all around SV, but we had perfect weather.  Around 4 pm the two of us found our way back to the vet office.  Zeus had undergone surgery, but Dr. Acker only biopsied the lump...and the massive tumor that seemed to encompass the top on his left tibia.  The rest of Dr. Acker words tumbled around me like the roar of a rapid.  Non-treatable, can not amputate, very painful cancer, a month to two months of time left.
Zeus' human friends saying their good-byes
     The last 7 days have been a blur of activity with dear friends visiting from CO, Thanksgiving celebrations with friends, family, and of course dogs.  At the oddest moments I find myself drinking in the bittersweet moments of this twilight time with Zeus.  I can talk about the cancer; what I can not express is the sadness of knowing this will be his last winter, the twilight of his life.  The hope I carry is that every foster dog he has welcomed will carry some small part of their encounter with Zeus into their new lives.  In this way his legacy will live.       

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shoveling Snow With Buddha

Kevin "Shoveling" snow with Orson

     Yesterday was the opening of the snowy season here in the Magic Valley.  No other being reminds one of the joy of first snow than dogs.  Their uninhibited exuberance is contagious.  Our dogs love to run trails through snow nose first.  Kevin and I throw snowballs in the air for them to catch and participate in "shoveling" with them.  Winter is here, and baby it is cold outside!
Happy dog!

Snow stalking

Watching for snowballs

     One of my favorite "winter" poems in by Billy Collins (one of my favorite modern poets).  
"Shoveling Snow With Buddha" excerpt

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

     Orson's skin condition cleared up last week after just a few days on antibiotics.  He is back to being a happy malamute!  We do not have another weigh-in until next Tuesday,  but Orson's energy level and mobility are steadily improving, so we are assuming he is continuing to drop weight.  One of the ways we are helping Orson lose weight and still receive all his nutrients is by feeding him a raw diet. 
Yum! Chicken.

    We are using Carina McDonald's "Raw Dog Food" handbook and have several mentors to which we can ask specific questions.  One of the reasons for this decision was the knowledge that all kibble contains binding agents that are hard to digest and are high glycemic index foods, such as corn and brewers rice.  Orson loves the raw food and even eats his veggie mix.
    Orson is still doing well with our cat, Amadeus.   He likes to smell Amadeus, which 'Deus hates, but Orson is calm and gentle with him.  Orson was even calm when 'Deus Tasmanian deviled his face ('Deus does not have claws).   At this juncture I do think Orson would do just fine with cats that are dog-savvy.  He and Miley are still great buddies and a few days ago Orson tried to play with Savina our ACD.  I have to give Orson props for trying, Savina regularly acts like a Tasmanian devil with all of our dogs.  True to form, she did and rejected his overtures.  Orson seemed a little shocked that our pint-size girl was so spastic, but who knows maybe next time.
Sleepy pups after playing and dinner

   On the MMR front, two dogs from UT Sammie and Strider were able to find foster homes with new volunteers Saturday. Both homes are fostering with the hope of adoption!  A third malamute found his second chance with one of our board members.  Great news for these Thanksgiving malamutes.  Every person that volunteers to open their home to a foster dog, gives that dog more time.  More time = a life saved. 
    One last dog piece, Zeus has an orthopedic appointment Tuesday with Dr. Acker in SV at the Sun Valley Animal Center:  We think something new has developed with his left knee and hip.  Dr. Acker is the leading ortho surgeon for the Pacific NW and we are lucky he lives so close!  Paws crossed Zeus does not have to have more surgery. 
Orson with one of his favorite people, my mom.

Dog pile the human grandma!!

   Happy Thanksgiving week and break!! Oh, that reminds me, I was so exhausted last Friday I made some funny mistakes.  In the first I was trying to write an email to all my Moonsong cronies about Blue Buffalo foods and made my own flavor, "Brainless."  Yes you should not feed your dog brains, "Brainless" is good.  Later that day I repeatedly sent texts to another MMR board member meaning to send them to a friend.  I think I was incoherent.  Good thing I am on break from ISU!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Sudzy Mutt

     The last 24 hours were rather hectic for Orson.   Thursday evening I was brushing Orson and found a dime size scab on his leg.  I was not too concerned about it, but it did smell “funky.”  Fast-forward to Friday afternoon.  I arrived home from attending university classes around 3.  Much to my surprise, the area around Orson’s nose looked just like the patch of skin from the night before.  Upon examination, I found several other nickel size spots on his legs, too.  Magic Valley Veterinary Hospital worked us into their schedule, so off we went.  As we were waiting all I could envision was a full-body skin infection and a hairless malamute.  Not a great prospect for an overweight dog. 
      Dr. L said we caught it early enough and that oral antibiotics and a medicated bath would clear everything up quickly.  And, Miley is supposed to leave face-bathing to the humans for a few days.  That will be our biggest challenge; Miley has a licking “problem”….she licks the cat, other dogs, us, the couch, the wall…she is an OCD licker.  Actually last week she licked all the hair off Zeus’ left eye.  Eyelashes, fur, and whiskers are all gone.  Anyone have any suggestions for a lickoholic anonymous group?   
     We did receive some really great news while we were at the vet’s office.  Orson had another weigh in and he is down to 171.7!! He is almost at his first milestone.  Thyroid medication, controlled diet and exercise are really helping Orson be the “biggest loser pup.”  Several of the vet techs commented that since they last saw Orson, 2 weeks ago, that his mobility and strength had visibly increased.   

     Kevin and I loaded Orson into the car this morning and headed over to The Sudzy Mutt on Addison.  Orson loves car rides and spent his time hanging his nose out the cracked window.  The facility is super clean, the staff friendly and helpful, and the equipment top notch.   Their prices are very competitive, too.  It is a self-service bathing center that utilizes rubber mats and ramps for the safety and comfort of the dogs.   

     Orson HATES water, a lot.  It took both Kevin and I to “contain” our malamute when the water was running.  He howled the entire time the water was on, even if it was just running and not touching him.  I think my ears are still ringing.  On the upside, he was just fine with the under coat blower.  Odd, usually dogs hate the blower and are fine with water…or just hate both.  Orson looks very handsome right now!  His colors are very distinct and he has that fuzzy ball look groomed dogs have.  I think he may ignore us for the rest of the day for putting him through the indignity of a bath.

     One last confession.  All the great pictures are ones taken by Kevin.  Mine are all dark or fuzzy.