First, I want to thank everyone for your kind, supportive words. It’s been a rough patch and your compassion and sensitivity have been much appreciated. You guys are the best!
One of my favorite dog-loving friends and I were talking about how our dogs have changed our husbands as well. I think it’s safe to say that Kiera is the first dog Andrew ever completely bonded with. And so he’s been just as deeply affected by her loss as I have.
My friend, Judy, lost a dog that changed her life not that long ago too, so we do the only thing people can do when they can’t possibly feel an ounce sadder than they already do–they start telling funny stories. And Judy is one of the funniest people I know. I thought you might enjoy a little levity about her partner and her beloved (albeit very difficult) rescue dachshund. Continue reading
Oct. 22,1999 — Feb. 21, 2013
If you want to enter our house in relative peace, it’s best to come bearing gifts.
Specifically, dog food treats are most welcome. But if you’ve forgotten yours at home, no worries. I’ve attached a container of kibble right at garage door knob level. You can’t miss it coming in.
Think of it akin to entering church, where you bless yourself with holy water before entering. Kinda like ensuring good luck–
Only, here, the good luck is that if you throw the kibble for Graidy before you enter, instead of being greeted with non-stop barking and rushing, you’ll be greeted with licks and wags.
If you have a guarding or sentry dog, this is one easy step you can take to help condition your wary dog to more easily accept letting your friends into your home.
Once your friend has thrown the kibble, then you just need to remind her to stand sideways, not speak in high-pitched squeaky voices, avert her gaze, and not try to pet your dog, until your dog is calm and approaches your guest on his own. Easy Peazy.
If you’ve had animals your entire life, you’ve probably had the experience of frantically searching for a lost pet somewhere along the line. And you also know how truly heart-wrenching and helpless it makes you feel. Well here’s a tip that can literally be a life saver in helping you find any lost pet.
Recently, talking with one of my more orginal-thinker dog friends, she shared this tip for how she’s found her and some of her friends’ missing animals. Continue reading
It’s been an eventful and interesting day, starting at 3:30 a.m. this morning…
…with a pit stop at the emergency vet’s, along the way.
Kiera had a little issue that was easily resolved, and all’s well that ends well on that front.
That’s by way of saying that if you don’t know where your nearest emergency vet facility is, you should find out now.
My day was made a lot more manageable by knowing exactly where our emergency clinic was located, and feeling comfortable that it was staffed with people I respected and trusted. So that when there was an emergency, I knew exactly how long it would take me to get there, and I could call ahead and alert them to be ready for my arrival. Continue reading
I was recently asked by an interviewer what I’ve learned from my dogs. Since he was referring to Dogs of Dreamtime, he was specifically asking about Kiera, Magic, and Molly.
To put into context some of what I’ve learned from my animals, it helps to know that, left to my own devices, I gravitate toward intense herding breeds. Kiera is an Australian Shepherd. Graidy is a Border Collie mix. Magic was an English Shepherd mix, who died from Lyme Disease. Molly was my deaf Australian Shepherd. They all came when they were just a few months old.
I mention this because while all dogs (really all animals) offer us lessons in unconditional love, and the joys and responsibilities of companionship, herding breeds have added a whole other layer for me. Since herding dogs thrive best when they get to live as working partners, that requires a level of commitment, training, observation, and communication skills that can take us into uncharted territory if we let it. And while herding breeds aren’t for everyone, they continue to provide me with one of the most thrilling and challenging adventures I’ve ever embarked on.
Put most simply, what I’ve learned from my dogs, interestingly enough, is how to be more fully human. Which has helped me, in turn, learn how to let my dogs be more fully dogs.
Home Office Hangout
I learned a long time ago that, when I’m paying attention, I can always find a silver lining in the most difficult of circumstances.
The silver lining in Kiera not fully recovering from Vestibular Disease is that it has given me the push I needed to decide to work from home rather than going into the office every day.
As I’ve watched Kiera’s age finally catch up to her big time, I’ve been feeling that I don’t want to be robbed of a minute of the time I have left with her. But in our human-centric world, to admit that I wanted to put my dog before work would be considered odd, if not downright bordering on blasphemous. Continue reading
I love nature. And I feel fortunate to live in close proximity to all that the great wilds of the Adirondacks have to offer.
But, um, this is perhaps a tad too close for comfort. Yep, this is a very big black bear sauntering through my mother’s front yard. Thankfully, all dogs were safely inside.
It’s been a month since Kiera got hit with Vestibular Disease. As most dogs resolve on their own within two weeks, it’s looking as though Kiera has probably improved as much as she’s going to. Which means she’s permanently left with the head tilt and unsteady gait. Which means no more stairs. Which means we now live with ramps everywhere inside and out. Continue reading
You made it! Happy Birthday my love! Every day we have together is a blessing.
I’ve been nursing Kiera through a mean case of Vestibular Disease for the past two weeks. Oddly enough, it came on at the Vet’s office while we were there for her annual exam. From the time she jumped out of the car and got into the exam room, from all appearances, it looked as though she’d had a stroke. Her head tilted, her gait was unsteady, her tongue hung out to one side. By the end of the visit, she could barely stand up without her legs splaying out from under her–she had no balance.
I was so very lucky, because instead of hitting the panic switch if this had happened at home, the vet was immediately able to allay my fears and explain what Vestibular Disease was. But more importantly, she was able to tell me that this usually resolves on its own within 2-3 weeks. She was able to diagnose quickly because of one of the common signs of disorientation, head tilt, and jerking eye movements.
It’s been distressing to watch, to say the least. This video was taken at Day 7 of one very long week….
Holistic vet, Dr. Becker gives a good overview in this video of Vestibular Disease.
- IVD is non-fatal, non-progressive and so common among older cats and dogs that it’s often referred to as Senile or Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome. This is somewhat erroneous since there are cases of younger canines getting the syndrome. It’s not genetic, it’s not gender related, Continue reading
This morning, Graidy was annoying Kiera, as he often does — he’s a playful goofball and she’s always on the job — so she took matters into her own hands. She pawed open the sliding glass door, and Graidy dashed out to see if there was anything fun outside to bark at. (He’s also easily amused). Okay, maybe that’s not so unusual, since I’ve previously told you that Kiera can open nearly every door in this house. But then she closed the door behind him. I kid you not.
Kiera stood by the door and turned to me with a smile on her face and a wiggle in her butt, happy to be relieved of her pest. But Wink (my Cavalier)… Wink without Graidy is like the sky without the sun — sad, sad, sad. He yipped and yipped his consternation and despair. And then… And then… He scratched furiously at the door until he was able to crack it open to let Graidy in. I kid you not. Continue reading
… the Walrus said, to talk of other things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings…
Anything but how time is starting to catch up with my beloved girl…
Kiera is closing in on 13 years old. Her recent visit to the vet confirmed what I had been observing. Kiera is now 90% blind.
So we make changes. And we adjust. And we now use baby gates to prevent her from getting stuck on the stairs or, worse, falling down them.
At night I carry her up to sleep where she’s always slept at the side of my bed. And before long, I will need to carry her down as well. And when my back gives out, I’ll move our bedroom downstairs.
Yes, time is marching on. But Kiera and I will march with it as we always have. Together.
The garden is lush with all the rain and warming temps. It looks like it’s going to be a bountiful season. We already have lots of lettuce and herbs, peas and beans, kale and broccoli, and of course all the June berries.
Looking for a quick something for dessert this evening, I came back with these. I was thinking a nice strawberry rhubarb crisp would be refreshing.
But Graidy was thinking fresh strawberries… I turned my back to collect my baking ingredients and he’d already nabbed one. Lightening fast, this one is! You’ve got to stay on your toes around here!
Anyway, if you want a great recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, here is one of my favorites. (Courtesy of Ina Garten) Continue reading
What a difference a week makes in Wink’s remedial training. Not even Finn can deter him. See for yourself.
Wink is at the farthest end of the outside field. Keep your eye on the top middle of the video to find him.