Until We Meet Again….

I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since I’ve written an update. 2011 seemed to go by in a flash. I also wish I had better news to share, but on December 29, my sweet little Lady joined her old friend Rosie in doggie heaven. (Rosie was adopted, but passed away last year as well.)

Last Spring, I took Lady to the vet to see if we could get to the bottom of her constant scratching. I was hoping that at a minimum, we could put her back on Temaril-P so she would have some relief. Upon listening to her heart, they found that she had so much fluid in her lungs, that they couldn’t even hear her heart beat! They took some x-rays to try and pinpoint what the exact issue might be, but they were inconclusive. Her heart was somewhat enlarged and the fluid there was evident, but they couldn’t tell what was causing it. It was some sort of congestive heart failure, but it wasn’t behaving exactly like either a right or left sided heart failure, so they wanted to do an echocardiogram to see if they could pinpoint the exact cause. They were clear though, that either way, while we could treat it with medications, this would be a progressive thing. Honestly, I just couldn’t afford to spend that much on another test–the x-rays and exam, plus Murphy’s shots, had already blown through my “pet care” budget for several months.

We decided to try a round of the diuretic Lasix to see if perhaps once we got some fluid out of there, that they would better be able to hear what her heart was doing in there. So I took her home, prepared to deal with even MORE piddle problems! (I even bought a couple extra doggie diapers!) I also started making her some homemade food to cut back on sodium–just ground turkey, sweet potatoes, and some fresh kale from the garden. Fortunately, she LOVED it, and it also firmed up her poops too, which was a double blessing, and made it worth the time committment! I would usually make a big enough batch to last a couple weeks and store it in the freezer. Thankfully, we have a local foodservice company that has an outlet store, and they had a great source of naturally raised turkey, and some huge sweet potatoes, so I could get a bulk supply of both for around $20!

Over the next few months, we monitored the fluid in her lungs, and increased the Lasix once. I also finally convinced the vet to allow her to go back on the Temaril-P, and to try an anti-anxiety medication as well. I knew she probably didn’t have a year left of her life, and I wanted that time to be comfortable and as happy as possible–I wasn’t so concerned with “possible long term” interactions. I have to say, for Lady, the Termaril-P was a miracle drug. I have no idea what she was actually allergic to, or whether it was just a leftover habit from being covered with fleas for so many years, but this drug stopped the scratching within a day or so–can you imagine how good that must have felt? When she was on it the first time, I was so concerned about it beinig a steroid, and how we should wean her off it it as soon as possible. I tried all sorts of natural remedies, and nothing worked. I finally came to the conclusion that if something works, just go with it! The poor girl was about 12 years old–she deserved to be able to rest without the constant scratching. It had gotten so bad, that she had marks all over from her nails. I even had her wearing a T-shirt to keep her nails off her skin. Her fur was thinning, and there were just piles of fluff all around her crate from the hair she was scratching off.

The Amitryptaline (anti-anxiety med) also seemed to help her as well. She was coming out of her crate even more and exploring around the living room and even the kitchen-with-the-scary-Pergo-floor! It was so cute to watch her. She was SO interested in whatever was going on in the kitchen, because it might mean a bit of something yummy for her! Every night before bed, I would get a special treat for her and Murphy, and go sit on the couch. She would trot right over, and sometimes even put her paws up on the couch for her treats! (Cutest thing EVER!) I think it was the happiest time for her–she would stay there, right next to Murphy, and wait for her turn to get a bite.  I also finally got a video of her trotting around the table while I made her breakfast. This was a twice-daily ritual! I’m surprised we don’t have a bald track around the table now….


I love how she would start trotting even faster when I would talk to her. Is that sweet or what?! One of my friends commented, “Geez, would you just FEED her already!” Made me laugh, but it did take a little while to get her food ready, with doling out three different medications as well! Give me a break!

The Lasix did make our potty issues a bit trickier, and the last month or so, she was having more poop issues again as well. The homemade food wasn’t doing the trick in that regard any more, so just to give myself a break, I bought her some high-quality canned food, which she thought was pretty nifty too!

I was starting to notice her panting more than usual again, but it wasn’t consistent, so with the busy holidays upon us, I just kept an eye on it to figure out if she was getting worse, or who knows–maybe she was just too hot with her crate being not too far from a  heat vent? I wasn’t sure. After Christmas, I noticed that when I pressed my ear down onto her back, I could hear some crackling. She seemed fine otherwise though, and didn’t seem to be in any distress. I figured I would call the vet and see if we needed to increase the Lasix again, although I was starting to have a sense that it probably wouldn’t be the answer….

That Thursday morning, I got up and took her out as usual, then made her breakfast. I got ready for work, and then went to take her out again before I left, but she hadn’t eaten any of her breakfast. Now for Lady, that was unthinkable! However, she had gulped down a whole bowl of water. I gave her another bowl of water, and she gulped that one down too, but still wouldn’t touch her food. She ended up drinking four entire bowls of water, and then started coughing up gobs of clear mucous. Even though she has had this cough since we got her, she never coughed anything up–this time it was very different. So I called the vet, and they said they could squeeze her in if I came right away.

After listening to her chest, the vet commented that her congestion was at least as bad, if not worse, than last Spring when we first started treating her, and in addition, she also had fluid in her abdomen, which indicated that both sides of her heart were now failing. We could try some other additional meds, but it probably wouldn’t buy her much time. Without treatment, she would basically drown in the fluid that had built up in her lungs. I couldn’t let her get to that point–I wanted her last days to be happy, not fighting for breath. So I made the decision to let her go that morning. The vet gave her the first shot, a sedative, and then left me with her until she was relaxed and fell asleep. She said it would take about ten minutes, but within a minute of giving her the shot, Lady was completely groggy, and I helped her get comfortable on a soft blanket on the floor. I had also brought along her own little blanket, which I rubbed on my hair to put my scent on it, and then tucked it under her head so that her last memory would be feeling close to her human. I told her what a brave girl she was, and how many families she had blessed with her puppies. Soon, she was peacefully asleep. The vet returned with the second shot, and I sat there on the floor next to her, contemplating that miraculous moment when a soul leaves it’s broken body and transforms into something new and perfect. I haven’t yet figured out the theology behind what happens to our pets after they die. The Bible isn’t quite clear on that–I’m sure the saints who wrote it weren’t thinking about pets back then! But it’s comforting to think that maybe she now understands all that I tried to do for her, and how much I loved her. Love–something she never experienced until she was rescued.

Lady never learned how to show affection herself, but the times when she would stare back into my eyes while I held her little face and scratched under her chin told me that she had come such a long way from the little dog that wouldn’t even make eye contact two years ago.

For a long time, I had been fretting over all the things I wanted her to experience before she left this earth. Lots of wonderful things that all “normal” dogs take for granted. I wanted her to play, gnaw on a bone, and just run in the grass! But as a fellow sheltie rescue friend put it, that wasn’t her ” journey”. For Lady, she needed a safe place to rest after probably 10 straight years of having litter after litter, relief from her constant itching, and lots of good, healthy, yummy food. I gave her all of those, and lots of love too. Maybe I wanted more for her, but I think she left the world pretty content.

Some people may never understand that I really did love that little dog! Just as much as Murphy, but in a different way. Just they way we love our kids all the same, but differently. She wasn’t an obligation or simply a charity case. The cool thing is that it really awakened an interest in sheltie rescue and puppy mill rescue. I’m not sure yet what role that will play in life–right now isn’t a good time in my life for rehabbing dogs, but someday I would love to foster or adopt again when I have a schedule that is more conducive to spending lots of time with the dogs and really working with them.

In addition to all the sheltie rescue groups I follow, I’ve also been impressed with a group called the National Mill Dog Rescue. I would love to take a vacation to Colorado and spend a week volunteering there!

And also, Lady and Rosie’s “mill-mate” Abbott is still looking for a good foster family/forever home up at Minnesota Sheltie Rescue! Look at that face! Isn’t he just adorable? I’ve been packing up a goodie box to send to him–I had just gotten Lady a new blanket for Christmas, and she never got to use it. So I asked them if I could send it to Abbott. I know, it seems silly to ship one blanket to a rescue, but I guess you could say it’s part of my healing process! (Shhh…don’t tell Abbott, but I’ve been gathering up some other yummy treats for him too!) I hope he likes it.

So, in closing, the last two years have been rewarding, frustrating, interesting, thought-provoking, happy, and heart-breaking….all at once. I will always love and miss the little shy, scared dog with the shaved-off fur, who stood shivering in her pen at the shelter two years ago. I think we needed each other! And for those two years, I’m grateful. I love you, my little Ladybug….

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my puppy you’ll be.



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Happy New Year!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update, so here’s what we’ve been up to the last couple months. Lady had her first Christmas in a “real home”. Not that she probably cared, but I fussed over her just the same! She even got a can of Merrick’s dog food and some treats in her stocking. Of course, we made her pose for pictures to mark the occasion…..



This is really taking things a little too far....

But the most fun was posing for the annual family Christmas photo, which was especially challenging this year with TWO shelties! (We didn’t even attempt to get the cats in there this time…) After several tries, we actually got a great picture, with everyone looking quite pleasant!

The Official 2010 Family Christmas Photo


Yes, they both got treats afterwards for being such good dogs!

On a subject that is less filled with holiday cheer, right around New Year’s, I realized that Lady had developed roundworms, so that meant another $100 trip to the vet by the time we came home with medicine for both Lady and Murphy. (Just in case he picked them up too…) Geez, and I thought children were expensive!

Well, that is about all that has happened here lately! Right now the little pudge is sitting up here on the couch with me, looking all sleepy and cozy. Oh wait…she’s always sleepy and cozy! Poor dog…

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Good News For Rosie…

If you read this old post from several months ago, I mentioned how I found two of Lady’s old pals from the puppy mill residing with foster families from the wonderful folks at the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. Rosie arrived in rescue with tons of serious medical problems caused by her many years of neglect, but after lots and lots of care and love, she was ready for adoption. Well, a couple weeks ago, I found out that Rosie found her forever home with a wonderful, caring family! How exciting! Abbott is still in a foster home though, so if anyone out there is looking for a really adorable sable boy, check out his bio on their site.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that adopting a puppy mill rescue is an unpredictable project! You just never know how far they will or won’t progress. But I will say that you will find in yourself more patience than you thought you had, if you let it be so! And you learn to appreciate the little things along the way that you’d never thing twice about in a “normal” dog.

In other news, Lady has been wanting to spend more time outside her crate lately! She doesn’t venture far, but she will come out on her own and then curl up for another nap right NEXT to her crate. Too funny! Last weekend my daughter and I let her and Murphy ride along in the car while we ran errands. While we were out, we stopped at Wendy’s, so I let the dogs have a few bites of hamburger. She must have liked it, because that night when I brought her a bowl of crunchies for dinner, she tried to turn the bowl over with her nose and gave me a look like, “Hey, where did that other good stuff go?”  Can’t say that I blame her, actually…..



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October Update

Hello all! (Yep, that means Mom and the two other people who read this blog..ha ha…)

Fall is here! The leaves here in Southeastern Iowa should be reaching their peak in the next week or so. It’s my favorite season, by far. Not that I enjoy the fact that winter is just around the corner, but I just love the crispness of the fall air and the colorful display of the trees. I love watching the harvest, and I love how big the moon looks in the Autumn sky.

Fall also marks another milestone, in that it’s almost a year ago that Lady was rescued from her life as a breeding dog at the puppy mill. I wish I could say that a year has cured her of the behaviors that life has taught her, but we’re not there yet. Honestly, we may never be, completely. The vet that did her first intake estimated her to be around 10 years old. (Can a dog really have puppies for THAT many years??? I can’t imagine!) If she’s really that old, she has lived far more years under those horrible conditions than many dogs do. And while you can teach an old dog some new tricks, there’s probably a limit. I have to say though, she is much better than some mill dogs I’ve heard about. I guess I just hoped that I could reach her even more over the course of this year.

Some good news….I get lots of genuine tail wags every morning when I come downstairs. She makes regular eye contact with me, which is a huge improvement! She still doesn’t come to me for pets and scratches, but she doesn’t shy away from them either. She literally bounds out of her crate for treats, and will trot around the dining room table waiting for me to hurry up and bring her a hot dog. (She only gets a few bites in the evening with her meds now–she’s been getting a bit too chunky, so we’re cutting back on the goodies!) Last month, she went on her first road trip with my daughter and me….we went to Indiana to visit family, and she was a perfect traveler! She loves riding in the car, and while we were at my sister’s and my mom’s, she stayed on her cushion, and didn’t pee on anyone’s floor! (Always a good thing in my book, since I’ve shampooed my carpet more times than I care to discuss…) She sat quietly while “strangers” came to pet her, and didn’t try to run away. She has also been to Petco twice. She’s not happy about going there, but she will begrudgingly walk around the store and politely sniff all the toys and bones I stick in front of her nose. I was actually amazed….the first time we took her there, she didn’t show much interest in anything, but stopped dead in her tracks to sniff at a big bag of dog food. Believe it or not, it was the exact brand and flavor that I’ve been feeding her! So out of that whole entire store, she seemed to recognize HER dog food!

On the minus side, her cough isn’t getting any better. It might even be a little worse. She still scratches too, although not as much as when we first got her. I have her on a really low dose of the steroid–just 1/4 pill a day. When I raise the dosage, we have more peeing issues. Knock on wood, she hasn’t peed in her crate in a couple weeks now.

So, all in all, I’m proud of the progress she has made, but boy is it ever slow goin’!

Last week I took Lady and Murphy outside to have John take some new pictures. You know how hard it is to get your kids to both look at the camera and smile at the same time? Well, dogs are no different.


Hey, I told you guys to SIT!

This is a little better!

Do we get treats for this?

Me and my Ladybug….

Ohhhh, WHY do you make me do these things???

I also caught a picture of her, sound asleep on a blanket OUTSIDE of her crate. Is this cuteness or what?

Sweet dreams, pretty girl!

Speaking of sweet dreams, I think it’s bedtime for me too! Thanks for checking in, and have a wonderful Fall!

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My Little Pudge

Here are a couple pictures of Lady from last night. She was out of her crate and all perky-eared because I had her favorite treat–turkey hot dogs!

I can haz hot dawgz?

I think the Temaril P (the steroid she’s taking for her cough and itching)  is causing her to get a bit pudgy. Especially combined with her lack of exercise and the treats. Definitely time to cut back a bit! It’s been so dang hot outside, that even taking her out to potty has her panting. I’m hoping that once fall gets here and it’s cooler out, we can go for some walks.

OK, I'll smile if you just give me a hot dog!

The doggie diapers are helping me to feel a little less stressed about having her out of her crate without me needing to watch her like a hawk. The funny thing was, one day last week, she wet her diaper, and then took it off in her crate! I found it sitting next to her. I’m not quite sure how she did that, but she looked quite proud of herself!

Another day, I was working in the kitchen, and Murphy was right next to me, hoping I’d drop something yummy. All of a sudden, I heard a little rustle in Murphy’s dish–Lady had tiptoed over, snatched a bit of his food, and scurried back to her crate! So at least she’s starting to feel a little more comfortable exploring around. I don’t have the heart to tell her it’s naughty to steal her brother’s food!


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July Dose of Furry Cuteness

Who in the world told you I would look good in bows?????

Lesson learned this month–Lady doesn’t care for bows. After her bath one day, I thought I’d try to spiff her up a little bit. Cute, right? I left the room for a minute, and came back to find one bow on the cushion next to her. I figured maybe she had an itch or something and had scratched it out, so I put the bow back in, and she settled down for a nap. I was right there next to her, folding laundry (or some other such domestic-goddess duty….) and she was fine. An hour or so later, I left the room again for no more than a couple minutes, and when I came back, both bows were laying on the cushion. The little stinker waited for me to leave the room so she could ditch the bows and hoped I wouldn’t notice! Don’t let that innocent face fool you!

In other news, the potty training has still been frustrating. So I came to the conclusion that right now, getting her to socialize a bit more with the family is more important than expecting her to never have an accident in the house at this stage in her life. Thank goodness for washable doggie diapers! I had purchased some of the disposable ones before, but they were too small and impossible to get on her! The washable ones have velcro on them, so if I have to reseal them a few times, I’m not wasting sticky tape. I bought the Petco brand that comes two in a box, and they seem to fit really well. So now I can close the door to her crate when we come back inside from pottying, put a diaper on her, and then she’s forced to stay out and be a part of family activities when I’m not at work.

Other than that, we’re still just watching her take baby steps towards improvement. Sometimes it’s hard to see progress unless you really look hard, but I knew it would be a long slow road. She seems content enough just to have a nice place to nap and some good food! (Mostly food!) I would just love to see her play a little bit. Poor baby….she’s had a hard life.

Cute, cute, cute!

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Bits and Pieces

Some good news to report–Lady has been coming across the room for treats! Especially hot dogs–her favorite! OK, know, not the healthiest thing in the world, but I usually get her some low fat turkey dogs just so she’s not getting too many extra calories while I try to spoil this dog into trusting me! If I open the door to her crate and then go to either the living room or kitchen, she will cautiously tiptoe over to snatch her treat and then run back to her crate. She also wags her tail a bunch more when she sees me, which is SO heartwarming when I think back to when we first met her and I would have sworn her tail was glued between her back legs.

We’ve discovered that she does seem to have a bit of storm anxiety, since the only time she has peed in her crate over the last couple weeks has been during a thunderstorm. (Which we’ve had a lot of lately–welcome to summer in the Midwest!)

Her fur is growing in more and more–I’ll have to take more pictures this weekend. In fact, the other day I was walking her down the street and stopped to wonder whether she’s gaining weight or if her fur is just making her look fluffy! Believe it or not, despite her terrible living conditions prior to being rescued, this little mama actually weighed more than Murphy, and he is a MUCH taller sheltie. Probably the lack of exercise and not getting good quality food. (Plus, in her defense, we girls KNOW all about baby weight, right?) She had lost a few pounds while she was at the shelter, but all the treats she gets might be creeping up on her again. And if she does in fact have a collapsing trachea, she would be much better off at a lower weight. So I’m doing some reading on whether I should switch her to a lower calorie dog food, or just supplement her current food with some veggies. I feel like she still needs something as nutriently dense as possible. She still has the cough (I have her on a low dose of the steroids right now, which helps), and she kind of wheezes when she’s outside, especially in our current humid weather. So, exercise isn’t really a good option for her weight loss efforts right now–it will have to be mostly done by decreasing her calories.

No more barking lately….at least not for food. I guess she was barking in her sleep the other day. I wonder what she dreams about that would prompt her to bark, when she doesn’t do it when she’s awake???? Hmmm….

Well,  that’s all the exciting news for today! I’ll try to get some new pictures up soon!

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