Saturday, August 20, 2016

Follow the path that lies in front of you (and a huge thank you to all my dog connections!)

Today I did my first transport leg for a rescue organization.
I have wanted to this for years but my life and the path never collided. 
This time it did.


The texts had started early, telling of her progress, so my mind was on this all day long.

It is a simple task but it feels important. Just meet one person/car and drive to somewhere to hand the dog to another person/car.  
But it FEELS good!

I discovered it was a puppy and only 25lbs so I ran out to buy a crate for safety.   And I bought a couple of cute collars and a leash.............and a cute pink bag to put it all in. And treats.

I packed toys, water, a bowl, secured the crate in my very suitable car, added some cushioning and hurtled down I-95 to meet the previous transporter.

As I prepped , I had a quick question of crate size; I reached out to my Facebook friends. As I tagged people in the post I had to start laughing because it would have been easier to add everyone and just untag a few people.
Over my 10+ years of Bugsy ownership (er, management) I have connected with extraordinary people. 
"dog people"

My experience of adopting Bugsy from our SPCA turned me into an advocate and fundraiser for the SPCA
My experience of owning the devil in black/brown fur brought me to many - MANY - of you for help.
By knowing you, I met other people who did great things for dogs in need.
Each of you prepared me for today. 

Today one friend quipped I was, "the best prepared transporter ever"
Damn that made me smile - you all taught me good.
I can't list all of you as I would forget someone for sure. 
I hate when folks say, "you know who you are", but you do.

You taught me to open my heart.
You taught me how important this is.
This being anything you can do to help.

The dog community is a community of big-hearted people who step up. Proud to have joined you.
Thanks for grooming me.

The other day I shared this:

Time is the most valuable thing a person can spend. -Theophrastus

Very true.

It is also the thing that when you spend it, you get the best reward.

So a heart felt thank you to each of you, you do know who you are.
I promise to keep following the path that unfolds 



Thursday, August 4, 2016

I take my chances

Weeks away from the day we'll celebrate his 11th birthday, he and I went for a hike today.
Great park in the middle of North Carolina that promised mountains (albeit short ones) and a big river. (Morrow Mountain State Park)
The weather was about as good as you can ask for in August in NC; overcast, humid, but reasonable temps (77 at the start and 88 when we finished).

No need for a blow by blow of the day - it is all bittersweet at this point. He's been struggling all summer and other than "he's old" we don't have much to understand why. His one rear leg is bothering him and we attribute it to arthritis from the knee repair.
This means that we didn't hike miles and miles, just a few. One mountain trail and one by the river. We both enjoyed ourselves.

Although much has changed in his 11 years, one thing has not: the Beast only knows how to trot at a mighty clip. Apparently walking just isn't part of his makeup.
Today's mountain trail was covered in slices of rock - I don't think it was shale but it reminded me of shale in that it was sharp shards. I worried about his paws as he trotted and at times slipped as the gravel moved under his feet.  He never slowed, worried or seemed to notice.
Another habit that has been a constant is to walk on the very edge of mountain trails so that one wrong move and you're off the trail and on a descent.
Concerned about his less agile creaky joints I tried to move him away from the edge.


Nope not going to happen.
Each time the scree moved under his feet my heart jumped.
He survived, my heart survived and this song kept running through my head.
Definitely a theme song for him. "I Take My Chances"


So great to take a road trip and be on the trails again with my buddy, his desire hasn't faded one bit, but his body has.  
All part of the life cycle and I am so very lucky to have him and be able to do what we did today. 
I admit it's hard to see him work so hard to achieve what his heart wants to do though.



Saturday, May 14, 2016

A microcosm of life

The first time we brought Bugsy to the beach he was under a year. He was insane and still had a feral edge, meaning he was like a wild stallion and had no hope of getting off leash.
We hoped that he would settle next to the lounge chair and we'd all chill out. I still remember that at about 6:30 PM as we tried to eat dinner, he was still bouncing and driving us mad. We put him in his crate and he literally fell asleep before we could slide the locks.
I recall the looks we got on the beach and how exhausted Steve & I were.
Over the years, we progressed and found a system to release his energy, give us some relaxation & enjoy our trips.
One thing has been the same; Bugsy absolutely feels he should greet all dogs and all humans who come down the steps to the beach.
In the early days, people gave him a wide berth, he was clearly an oversized nutcase. Owners with high energy dogs were happy though, as he was always ready to play.
Fast forward to now.
He still wants to meet and greet all.
He still wants to run and play, although for MUCH shorter times with long naps and rest periods in between.
Nowadays though, he's the gentle giant and "a sweet baby". People stop and pet him and he just eats it up.
Like many dogs, you see that people connect to him. They want to know his name and find out his story.
We met a guy this morning and were just chatting a short time. We chatted about dogs and aging.  After we wrapped up, he walked off and a couple walked down that had two golden retrievers. Bugsy LOVES goldens so he was desperate to play with them, doing all sorts of playbows and zoomies.
More than 30 minutes later, the man we had met earlier came back from his walk. He came over and said, "boy he wanted to play with those goldens, didn't he?" You could tell it made the man happy to see the old dog want to play.
Another guy stopped by to engage in chat and pet Bugsy 4x today; with breed guesses, a cracker, to tell us who he reminded him of, and to give B a pet & get a kiss.

Back in the day, the folks that stopped and chatted were people fascinated by B's physical stature and energy. Now they stop to love my sweet boy, who ignores the irritable dogs, who never barks, and who knows the routine so appears very well behaved.

Back in 2006 when we first stayed here with him, if you had told me how easy to manage he'd be when here, I could not have believed you.

Today, although I hate seeing how much he sleeps; I marvel at his behavior, manners, and demeanor. That big old love-filled heart is more accessible to everyone and he is ever so happy to share it.



Sunday, April 17, 2016

the reality of it all

I count my blessings daily as my sweet crazy boy remains sweet, crazy and active.
There are plenty of signs that it won't stay that way for long though. Last May we were told he had a heart murmur. At first I laughed. The dog who had the heart and lungs of a Kenya runner with a heart murmur?
So my vet checked it out (after laughing it off as I did) and lo and behold my boy had suddenly developed a heart murmur.
I didn't think anything of it as there was no indication of it impacting him.

Fast forward to about 2 months ago when I first noticed that his mouth seemed pale, very pale. He'd been very excited at the time and with my knowledge of anatomy and physiology I realized that it was related to the murmur and not a good sign, he wasn't getting enough oxygen.
The good news is that the color comes back once he settles a bit.
The bad news is Bugsy tends to get excited regularly and also stays excited for quite some time.

On Friday he was removing a treat from a toy - as he does multiple times a day - and he suddenly popped up and looked spooked. When he got up he was clearly in pain  (best assessment was neck pain) and remained so all day and into Saturday although the carprofen had helped. I noticed that when his neck was bad his front left foot was cool to touch, not cold, cooler than the other three feet.
He was using it fine and showed no lack of sensitivity but the coolness was yet another sign of poor circulation.

So tonight I am sad. Really sad.
Few things will hurt as badly as losing him.
Honest.

Until then, we will be enjoying life, I promised him years ago that there would be no heroics, no insanity. Quality of life is our goal.

Bugsy, I promise that I will do something with you everyday that makes your eyes light up the way only yours do.
I will not drag you through extensive veterinary examinations and diagnostic tests.
We'll live buddy.
Day by day.
Sunrise by sunrise.

When you cannot be you. When you cannot enjoy a sunrise, I will set you free.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Who's walking who?

I am the kind of person who generally accepts the imperfections of life.
From the day we brought baby B home I attempted to have him walk at my side instead of out in front.
All attempts, using every known training method (well humane and reasonable ones) failed.
Somewhere after 4 or 5 yrs I gave up.
He walks out in front, he isn't pulling, but he's out in front.
Many who walk with us love to play a silly game of getting out in front of him, which inspires him to gallop into the lead.

When we do a walk at a large event, he charges to the front. I don't fight it, I plan for it and use my human intelligence to devise a strategy that minimizes the impact on me.

There's an older couple that are new to our neighborhood who have on multiple occasions seen us and shouted, "who is walking who?" and I respond with a smile, "he's my personal trainer, walks me everyday!"

It is never as clear that this is the case as it is on our 5am walks. This morning was foggy but with a full or nearly full moon lighting our way. He was tired and I was as usual half asleep. When he is tired it is easier to see that he totally perceives walking me as one of his jobs.
He waits at the back door while I pick a jacket, grab some tissues, find my spare house key, etc.
Then we go into the garage and he waits for me to put his lighted vest or harness on and stands just outside the side door, back to me, just waiting for me to exit and close up the house.
Once I clip the leash on, he becomes almost robotic. It makes me LOL as he hits his stride and has this, "let's get this job done" attitude.
He's out in front setting a speedy pace, surveying, looking for critters, or a new branch or decoration to be investigated.
He pees, he poops, knows the route so never even glances back to check in with me.
After pooping is done, the trot is constant, no more sniffing, heading home now, out walking my mom.
Once home, he has a drink, and waits for his kibble.
On tired days, he goes right to his bed and is asleep in an instant.

So yes elderly grumpy couple - he walks me everyday. And I am totally fine with it.
I wonder some days, when he's both tired and clearly those banged up old joints aren't working real well, what I'll do when he's gone. Who'll walk me then?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

RIP Bella, the love of a dog; a dog of love

I can still see that moment; me walking Mr Confident, a week or so out of the shelter, strutting his stuff through the neighborhood, proudly showing off his human(s)
She was a yellow fluff-ball, who would walk 10 or 15 yards and then lie down.
He was so thrilled to meet a new friend and she immediately went belly up as he approached. Something canine occurred and she responded to him, not with fear but with relief; he was her protector.
Just babies

That never changed.
Her owners and I scheduled regular playdates and walks; she would walk with him, but without him, she'd lie down regularly.
We learned early on that the roles were reversed in water, being a golden, in the water she was a natural swimmer, and it was Bugsy that would stand chest deep and whine as she swam off to retrieve the toy.

On the play-dates I'd bring bones for them and she'd eat both of them and he was OK with that, she could have whatever she wanted.
Bugsy and Bella even had a wedding
So many wonderful smiles
So much love

In the last few months Bella's owner & I have talked about how they were both declining. It's inevitable and for her, she'd owned goldens for ages and knew their health issues, for me I have this over-sized mutt who's had a zillion health issues since puppyhood.
We brought them together a few weeks back and watched them play but mostly both dogs boldly stole food off the patio table as if saying, "ah yea, we know the rules, but we are too old to care"
12/2015
Sweet Bella, my heart breaks, for your family and for my Bugsy. I am not sure how he'll know or when he'll know, but I do know that he'll cry and whine when we pass your house as he always has.
And he'll do his best to drag me to the back fence to let him in.
Your beautiful smile will be missed.
You were loved and you loved.

So much is said in this photo, 2007
Here they are in 2010, pure joy


Bella, you are already missed. Thank you for being my Bugsy's girl, for being my sweet girl, and for all the smiles. Swim free and fast. Catch that pesky squirrel. Eat all the pub cheese. Steal Bugsy's bones and kiss your beautiful girls.
He'll meet you again.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016

Hard to believe another year has passed, like each previous year, there were ups and downs, however we are all here to ring in 2016 so I call that a win.

Bugsy has had a rough year, I refuse to count up my vet bills for this year.
However, "Bugsy badger don't care", so they'll be no recounting of the woes.

Twice I was told his time would be coming to an end within weeks or months.  I can only confess that I spent a lot of time, preparing myself.  In each case, the issues resolved and he kept marching on.


He and his friend Paxton aka Bumbles have continued their adventures and laughter inducing antics.

And Bugsy still always greets me with gifts upon my arrival

In an interesting development - the Beast fetched a stick!!


In April, Bugsy and I completed a bucket list event when we headed out to the Northwest mountains of NC, in the midst of a typhoon. No really it was REALLY wet.
No matter.
We wandered in the rain and listened to it pelting our little 19th century cabin.



















Or if you are Bugsy, you go outside and stick your head through the railings so you can 'feel' the rain as well as see and smell it.



















We hiked some trails along the New River, all alone. Apparently everyone else had more sense.














I learned Bugsy isn't afraid of heights; he was obsessed with the view at the edge!
 

Then was one of the best moments we've shared (from my perspective), we climbed Mount Jefferson, on a frigidly cold morning. It was truly an exceptional experience for me.


We drove to the beach to visit our Canadian friends and true to form Bugsy and Bradley greeted each other as if they never are out of touch.




















Then came our beach trip - it wasn't the smoothest beach trip. First Bugsy and I went along with Pax and his mom but Steve stayed home.

Then Steve arrived as Bugsy and I headed back to Raleigh for him to have a CT scan at the vet school.
Then we drove back to the beach and enjoyed one of our favorite places on earth.

Of course the year was filled with lots and lots of kayaking. Here's a great video of the boys on a 'wild goose' chase.





In late August Steve, Bugsy and I headed to the mountains again, this time to a fancier cabin much more suited to Mr Lee's preferences.
We watched the sunsets and sunrises from the wonderful wrap around porch.
While I miss my young dog, I love my old dog who's by my side much more often


In October we were back at the beach, this time meeting more Canadians!!! The weather was perfect and we all enjoyed a fabulous break from reality.
Bugsy was turbo- charged and brought smiles to many. On the ride home I heard this song and thought, ya know, this is just perfect.


Bugsy was thrilled to have multiple visitors stay with us, so thanks to Chris, Mike and Mom.

A year filled with friends and fun, plenty of smiles, loads of laughter, and some of the warmest, heart-filling moments a life can have.
For everyday that featured this:



















We had lots of this:

Thanks for reading!
Lots of love, 
Bugsy & Karen