eileenanddogs

Category: Tribute

Unsung Summer

Unsung Summer

Summer succumbed to hemangiosarcoma on 8/25/17. I wrote this on 7/10/17 and have left it as it was when I wrote it: a tribute to a dog who I thought had many years left.

I currently have three dogs: Summer, Zani, and Clara.

Clara is the youngster, and has a dramatic backstory. She was a feral puppy, and also my first puppy. Life gave her lemons and we have made lemonade together.

Zani has “all the cuteness going on,” as a friend puts it. She is adorable, wicked smart, sensitive, and feisty—all at the same time. Whenever I teach anything to all the dogs at the same time, Zani picks it up the fastest (unless it’s a verbal cue, in which case she is dead last). Zani has quite the fan club on social media.

Zani helped raise Clara, and they are buddies.

But Summer. Continue reading “Unsung Summer”

Rest in Peace, Dr. Sophia Yin

Rest in Peace, Dr. Sophia Yin

I cannot add anything to what has already been said so eloquently of the tragic, untimely passing of veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin. In her honor I am posting two of her helpful handling videos and linking to Steve Dale’s tribute to her.

Dr. Sophia Yin’s Loss is Profound–Steve Dale

Low stress method to turn a dog on its side:

Link to the dog video for email subscribers.

Low stress handling of a feral cat:

Link to the cat video for email subscribers.

 

10604088_10152907897904245_5121019413438533036_o

Dr. Yin, we will miss you and your brilliance. Many animals thank you for enriching their lives and helping them feel safe.

 

It Would Have Been 11 Years

It Would Have Been 11 Years

I got my dear little Cricket from rescue on December 29, 2002, at around age 6 or 7. She left this world on May 31, 2013.

We had 10 1/2 years together, for which I am forever grateful.

Cricket having a snooze, right where she belonged
May 8, 2013: Cricket having a snooze, right where she belonged

I miss you so much, little girl.

For posts about Cricket, see

Also some YouTube videos:

Thanks for remembering.

Cricket running by my side
Having a game of chase
She’s Gone

She’s Gone

A small, visibly old (lots of gray and white on face) terrier is asleep in brown haired woman's lap. The dog's head is hanging over the woman's arm. The woman is wearing a brown mock turtleneck. The dog is mostly black and white with large ears.
17 year old Cricket having a snooze at the office in March 2013

Head’s up: frank talk of euthanasia and some raw language.

Cricket died on May 31st and I am not OK with that.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I guess “nauseated, furious rejection” of the whole idea belongs somewhere among the first two.

It’s just not OK with me. I don’t have strong beliefs about the afterlife (though please, those of you who do, I welcome your comments. I can take comfort from them). She is gone from my life here on earth and I’m not OK with that.

I can’t seem to write, except to write about her. Some for public, mostly for me. Folks have been kindly asking when I would blog about it—I guess I’ll give you the raw story.

It’s not OK with me that I remember so much of the past two years—no wait, that is OK—but I’m frustrated that I don’t have vivid memories of her in her prime. I am going through 800+ unnamed Flip videos that are no longer in a library and finding every one that she is in. Even if she is just barking in the background. Her “prime” means she was about 12 years old!

Cricket has had dementia for two to three years. She also had extreme neurological weakness in her hind end, and chronic, though not extreme, GI problems. For more than a year she has not had the muscle tone to sit in my lap without my bracing her. Her dementia was so advanced that for the past five weeks she could not figure out how to drink water on her own. Her neurological wires had gotten so crossed that she startled at almost any sensory input.  She no longer had the muscle tone in her rear to sit normally; she splayed her hind legs out or let them both go out to the side, and hunched her back.

Yet she had a great appetite and still had pleasures in life. She was on medication for arthritis just to be sure, but I don’t think she was in much or any pain.

I have known for a year that this dog would not die a peaceful death at home. Her heart, other organs, and general constitution were way too strong. I knew I would have to intervene. In the past few weeks she has taken another step down into frailty and I have been waiting for some sign that the balance had tipped.

It happened on Friday. She threw up, then had an extended seizure. She aspirated vomit. She was with me at my office at the time and my coworker helped me care for her. After two hours she was still sputtering and had not gotten out all the matter, but I had already made the decision. If she had seized once, it could and would happen again. And the next time I might not be with her. Every time I left her home, as safe as I made things, there were ways she could hurt herself or suffer. The seizure was probably related to her canine cognitive dysfunction and she was way too frail to experiment with other treatment drugs.

Just like I have long known I would have to euthanize her, I have also known she was not going to go down easily. She’s just not that kind of dog. The last two animals I had to euthanize were both cats and both were seriously ill. One with cancer that had spread to the brain, the other with complications of diabetes. Both slid away from life with relief, one of them still purring.

In your dreams, Eileen. Everything I knew about Cricket said it would not go that way and it didn’t. I had been trying to prepare. Months before, I had asked the vet for an oral sedative to give Cricket before I ever brought her to the vet for her final visit so she wouldn’t be nervous. We “practiced” with a dose one day and I’m glad we did. Cricket got a paradoxical reaction and got all hyped up and anxious and weaved around drunkenly for a few hours. So much for that idea, and for my fantasy that she could already be relaxed and dreamy when we went.

But on Friday she wasn’t very anxious, at first. But she was completely alert and looking around and not liking the doctor, as usual. I didn’t try to give her treats since I was pretty sure they wouldn’t stay down. Though a perfect last meal had been part of the fantasy, too. (She had eaten very well and happily that morning, however.)

I spoke to the vet about giving her anesthesia first before even inserting the IV, and the vet didn’t recommend it, saying it could just lengthen the trauma, so I agreed to the standard procedure. Can’t know if what happened was better or worse than what would have happened otherwise.

The vet first administered anesthesia through the IV in Cricket’s front leg first, as is typical, before giving the drug that stops the heart. Cricket reacted strongly to the anesthetic, startling and whimpering. Damn damn damn. Horror. Then she settled down after it got into her system. After the infusion of the second drug, nothing happened. Cricket sat in my lap looking around. The doctor had given Cricket (who weighs 12 lbs), the dosage for a 30 lb dog and nothing at all happened.

The doctor brought a second dose. This time Cricket didn’t startle, so she must have been starting to get at least a little anesthetized. This dose (we were now up to the dose for a 60 lb dog) made her sleepy and slowed her metabolism. She essentially went to sleep in my lap, although my dear friend who was there said that she was still peeking out at the world. I watched her breathe. It was regular and a little slow, exactly as it was when she slept. And it stayed that way. The vet said her heartbeat was slightly irregular, was all. It was lovely to hold her when she was finally (probably, hopefully!) relaxed and asleep.

The vet got a third dose (up to a 90 lb dog dose now) and injected it directly into a back leg this time. I was desperate that this would startle or hurt her, but she didn’t flinch in the least. I hope it didn’t hurt. I watched her take her two last breaths. I held her close, probably closer than she would have liked were she awake and alive. But her little body felt so right up next to my breast, as always.

I asked the vet, not entirely joking, how she figured to get Cricket’s body away from me.

I asked for her ashes, something I have never done before. I’m an amateur potter and will make a little container.

My other dogs have much more freedom and will get more of my attention. After while. My life is so much physically easier now. But right now I basically don’t fucking care.

It is not all right with me that she is gone. I had 15 months to get ready for this. I thought we were coming to the end of the line ages ago. Perhaps it should have helped me prepare. But actually, I think it let me pretend that I would have her forever. As it should have been. The little Energizer Terrier, who keeps going and going.

Small white, black, and brown short coated rat terrier stand straight and tall and looks straight up at the camera (and her person)
Cricket ready for supper in 2008

Even now as I am sitting here I am waiting for her to walk straight up to me, stiff legged as always, stand straight and tall with those huge ears and look me in the eye, as she always did. Even when she could barely walk and see only fuzzily. (Other dogs hated her body language. Rude little terrier.) Waiting for her to find me wherever I am in the house and bump her nose to my leg just to be sure it was me. She fell away from the other humans in her life because of the dementia, but she always knew and loved me. We were each others’ anchors. And now I am adrift.

Because I remember the old doggie so well and want to remember the little spitfire, I made a video montage mostly from old training clips from when she was about 12. My training skills are rudimentary (why oh why did I repeatedly pull her out of position after the click!), I miss her ears with the camera half the time because I didn’t have a tripod, but it’s worth it to me to watch her. And I hope you all will enjoy seeing what a little ball of fire she was.

Link to the video for email subscribers.

Two years after Cricket died, I released my book: Remember Me? Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. It won a Maxwell Award in 2016, and is available in paperback, hardback, and all major electronic formats.

Thanks for reading. Please remember my little girl.

Cricket always touched me whenever she could

 

Related Posts

Copyright 2013 Eileen Anderson

10 Years with Cricket

10 Years with Cricket

Cricket
Cricket in 2009

Happy Gotcha Day!

On December 29, 2002, 10 years ago today, I drove 100 miles east to meet Cricket’s foster family from RatBone Rescues at a McDonald’s parking lot. She was the most beautiful little rat terrier I had ever seen. They had already gotten very attached to her and there were tears from them and whimpering from her when they passed her over to me. I had a crate in the car but left her loose in the front seat with me (this was 10 years ago). After about 10 minutes of crying and restless behavior from her, she came over and crawled into my lap as I drove and stayed there for the duration of the drive. She had thrown in her lot with me.

When I got home I took her straight to the back yard. She went to the bathroom and it was a little messy. She crept over to me and let me wipe her butt with a kleenex. In that moment she became my dog forever more. I had thrown in my lot with her.

I had picked a middle aged dog as a potential companion for my 10 year old male rattie and because I wanted to give an older dog a chance. I had been cruising the online rescue pages. I kept going back to Cricket. She looked so demure. (What a joke!) She is the only dog I have ever “shopped” for. All my other dogs, wonderful as they all are, have ended up on my doorstep without my having much of a voice in it. I thought I was picking her for Gabriel. Turns out she disliked him, as she always disliked any competitor for my attention. So Gabriel, bless his heart, didn’t really get a friend. But I did.

The vet said she was in solid middle age, about 6 or 7 years old. Although rat terriers are known to be long lived, I never imagined we could be together for 10 years! But we have.

Here is the story of our years together in pictures. If you click on one, you can click through them all in a slide show.

After looking at these together, it seems to me that it might paint a picture of a quiet, sedentary dog. That was surely not the case. I just tended to take a lot pictures when she was in bed or at least sitting still. Here is a short training video that shows neither me nor my filming skills (slightly improved since then) in a good light, but you can get an idea of her high energy.

In all the training videos I took of Summer for many years, you can hear Cricket demand barking in the background. “My turn, my turn!”

Tough pushy feisty stalwart heart dog.

For more posts about Cricket, see

 

Also two other YouTube videos:

Upcoming topics:

Visit eileenanddogs on YouTube

Remembering Pride

Remembering Pride

One of the great dogs of the world left us all too soon on November 2, 2012. I never met him in real life, but feel like I knew him well through my dear friend and his person, Marge Rogers.

Marge got Pride as a petrified 5-month old puppy from Ridgeback Rescue. He and his littermate had been dumped by the side of the road. That’s him in a shelter in Orlando on the left. He had been staying plastered to the back of his kennel.

Pride (on left) in Rescue

When she first met him, she couldn’t even touch him. He was the more shy of the two abandoned pups. His littermate (who got adopted the same day) came forward and did all the talking.

Marge had to ask Pride if his coat was soft. (It was.)

In the loving home of Marge and Bob and their older ridgeback Rounder, Pride blossomed into a quirky quickwitted boy with a sense of humor. Here he is exploring the yard blower.

Ridgeback vs Blower

He turned out to be wicked bright, and thrived on Marge’s gentle touch and training skills.

Ridgeback Puppy Enthusiasm, featuring the Kangaroo Stand

He was soon helping Marge demonstrate very helpful training techniques on YouTube.

Using a Target for Various Behaviors, including a Tuck Sit

And learning tricks in the tradition of all her ridgebacks, historically considered to be an “untrainable” breed. (Of course the following “tricks” have extremely useful applications. I wonder if there was ever another ridgeback with such delicate, soft mouth skills?)

Removing a Band Aid

Retrieving Eyeglasses (by the arm!)

When Marge decided to make a video of all the steps of the Ian Dunbar Sit Challenge, 18 month old Pride showed well with the “big dogs” who already had multiple titles.

Sit Throwdown

And when she set herself a challenge of teaching one of her dogs to do a hind leg lift, Pride again rose (ahem) to the challenge.

Pride Naughty

This is one of my favorite dog pictures of all time. How she lucked into and captured the wicked look on his face I will never know. He was a GOOD boy, not a naughty one! Marge made a very clever Christmas card that was used as a fundraiser for Ridgeback Rescue.  Her various cards have raised over $2500 for rescue.

When Pride developed reactivity, Marge turned her efforts into getting the most expert help available and consulted with Leslie McDevitt and Dr. Karen Overall. She changed her training focus to helping Pride relax in his own skin and develop confidence.

Marge’s training videos have helped so many dogs and their people all over the world. But the following video of Pride’s demonstration of Dr. Overall’s technique of a dog learning to take a breath is a true classic. I remember clearly how excited Marge was when Pride learned to do it on his own to calm himself.

Teaching Pride to Take a Breath

Marge had him only three short years, but the joy that each brought the other had no end.

Pride at the Beach

Msaada Click Me Please (“Pride”)  6/28/09 – 11/2/12

The Comments section is open as always, and you can also write a personal message to Marge in the sidebar and I will forward it to her. I hope those of you who knew him in person will tell some stories below.

For some of Marge’s favorite photos of Pride, click here. You can also see more videos of Pride, Rounder, and Chase at Marge’s YouTube channel. 

Theme: Overlay by Kaira Extra Text
Cape Town, South Africa