Saturday, March 7, 2015

It was a beautiful morning and then it wasn't

My poor Bugsy hasn't been right in quite some time.
We ran tests and gave some meds, nothing specific showed up and the meds didn't do much really.
I still have this sense that something more than aging is going on.
Despite this, he is as eager as ever for his morning walks and today was no different.

It was a cold morning but the sun was already rising, the sky was colorful and heading towards that unreal shade of blue we get so often down here.
Loads and loads of bird activity and the earth was smelling Spring-like despite the frosted surface.

As we made our way through our fairly scenic neighborhood I kept thinking about how fortunate I am to have this boy that demands his morning walks. I have seen so many things I would never have noticed.
His focus and intensity - we don't just wander, his walk is a mission - spellbind me and I hunt alongside him.
This brings even more into my experience that I would otherwise miss.

When we got to the turnaround I asked him if he want to keep going or go home, after a quick head tilt he turned the corner and trotted on.
At the next turnaround, I said, "are you ready for home or do you want a drink", less hesitation, we were heading through the woods to the lake.

We were enjoying the scenery and he was exploring but I was on a schedule so I called him back to me and said come on let's head home.
He kindly (thankfully) obeyed and trotted right past me on to the trail.
And then it happened.

He fell down.
Just typing it makes me sick all over again.
Everything was fine and then it was like he collapsed.
I looked at the area and there was no hole.
There was no reason for him to trip or fall.

When he fell, he didn't instantly pop up, he laid there and looked at me, VERY unnerved.
My heart stopped.
My phone had died so I couldn't call my husband if Bugsy couldn't walk.
And poor B looked so very confused and although he was up and moving, he looked horribly uncomfortable.
I checked over each limb and did some stretches. No sign that anything really hurt, but he was walking so bizarrely.
No need to bore you with more details I guess, we made it home.
I gave him rimadyl and then had to rush out to a memorial service for a friend's dad.

When I came home he was happy, silly Bugsy and he even was out helping me in the yard for ages. No sign of whatever happened.

By writing this post I know I have recorded the first time his hind end gave in.
I know it is our future.
I know I have to emotionally and physically prepare for it.
I'm not ready.

Then again, the memorial service I went to today was a true celebration of life.
I know when Bugsy's time comes, I will focus on celebrating his life.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pub dog, rugby dog, it's all fun

As I sit here tonight, listening to the great Beast sleeping heavily next to me, I am pondering the smiles he has provided today and how 'buddy-like' he is now.
You see as a young pup and onward through his middle age - he never really wanted you to touch him.
He wanted to sleep away from you and given half a chance he was off hunting for himself or exploring on his own.
It feels extra special now when he chooses to 'hang' with you. 
When he allows you to pet him or even sometimes cuddle him.

Heck this dog that hated to be touched, will now allow you to - in fact he'll help you - to put a shirt or a jacket on him.
For instance, earlier today hubby and I were watching a rugby match between England and Ireland and decided it would be cute if Bugsy wore hubby's jersey.
I held up the jersey and Bugsy lifted a front leg, helped me guide his foot through the armhole and repeated it for the other side. Remarkable. He even posed for a photo.



I love the tail.  He's never figured out exactly what to do with it when he sits.

Unfortunately, England got thumped. But we all enjoyed the match.

Our weather has been awful lately and we've all been couped up so I promised him we'd go to the pub.
It can be a challenge to take B to the pub. He gets very excited and he is still very, very strong.
He wants to say hey to all dogs and humans and pretty much is overly social, so I work very hard to try to get him to just chill out and relax.
I continue to refine my setup so I have hands available for holding the leash and distraction.
Today, we were a team.
A really smooth, happy, coordinated team.

It was fairly quiet and everyone there was happy to meet the Beast. Lots of young men find him a blast, so on a miserable Sunday afternoon at a brewery near a university you definitely see plenty of young men, meaning Bugsy got to meet a bunch of people and got lots of pets.
He also met some other dogs, none were as social as he is however one pretty girl was close.
I was mesmerized by one dog who just sat next to her owner, uninterested in any people, snacks, dogs or anything at all.

It was by far our best pub outing. I like to think that if we did it regularly, he'd get easier and easier to settle.
For now, I'll resort to feeding bits of kibble, as long as he is lying down.


Monday, February 23, 2015

I miss my crazy puppy, but I love my sweet older boy

Today I wasn't feeling too well. Migraine/sinus stuff and overall feeling crummy. 
The weather was pretty miserable, cold and rainy, so I had no interest in taking him for his daily walk.
This usually leads to a very challenging day for me. A day in which every movement I make equals a vigorous response from him - a call to action so to speak.
Today though we just chilled out. We had a few short plays but overall he was quite content to watch out the window and lie near me snoring away, as he is now. 

Here he is this morning, resting his head on his rabbit and his elephant toys.

I feel very thankful for this softening and sweetening of my boy.
Even though, I miss that super intense crazy pup too.
You're a good dog Bugs.
Nah, you are an awesome dog!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

sick, schmick, let's get back to trying to break myself

So for the first time in him 9.5 yrs Bugsy was sick the other week. 
Like, you're good I'll just stay in bed sick.
no vomiting or diarrhea, also no appetite, but Lord was he drinking water

Anyway, we went to the vet, he was running a pretty high fever and we are still waiting to see if he tests positive for tick borne disease but he's been getting better quite steadily.

Today, we went to see the orthopedic vet who did his knee repair and we've quite honestly visited more than I would like to admit. Back in December, Bugsy seemed to start having problems with his TPLO knee or so I thought.
I presumed it might pass or that it was just plain old arthritis build up. But it didn't pass and he is still doing the stairs really oddly so I made this appointment 3 weeks ago.

A fairly quick, yet thorough work up and our lovely Dr Gallagher pronounced it to mostly likely be sciatica. He had mild spinal stenosis way back in 2009 so the fact it has progressed isn't a shock. He might also have a bulging disc. Never mind, says Bugsy, there is life to live.

So here is my boy, still on meds for the fever and soft poop, still doing a funky dance on the stairs due to sciatica but wild as he has ever been.

We had a nice and active Saturday and then came Sunday.
For many, this is seen as a day of rest.
For Bugsy I think he sees this as a day to CAUSE cardiac a-rrest

It began early when he spotted the neighbor's 5 mo old pup. She is a wild creature and very Bugsy-like in her joyful and active approach to life.
They ran and chased and spun around in circles until we were dizzy and I wanted my breakfast.

Then we went for a walk. A long walk. 
And truthfully, Bugsy doesn't walk. He trots. He'll run if you let him.
We met up with his 16 mo old GSP buddy and they pulled us along until we could let them off lead.
After some field play with the sudden heat we said, "let's take them down to the lake for a drink."

Oh sure you know that was a wild time. Some swimming, some chasing, and basic shenanigans abounded.

Then it really got wild.
We wanted the teach the 16 mo old to dock dive.
We failed epically.
And a version of chaos I have not witnessed before broke out.
The 16 mo old was going crazy in the water and then Bugsy lost his mind and his ability to control himself.
He started flying off the dock - not into water - onto small boulders and logs.
The drop was about 4-6ft depending on the area.
He would jump off the dock to one side, jump back on the dock, fly off to a side, jump back up.
Ran under the dock and jumped back up again.
Repeat until I nearly collapsed waiting for him to jump off and not be able to get up.
It was a massive case of the zoomies and LONG ago I learned the only thing to do was become motionless and wait it out. 
Any vocal instructions or movement only fuel the fire.

Amazingly, he was fine even after a concerning wipeout.
He walked home, er, trotted home without a hint of ache.

We had already promised a couple we'd meet them at a local brewery and I will admit I expected to have to cancel.
Nope. He remained bouncy and happy and as soon as he saw me moving as if going somewhere he was READY.

So off to the pub where he had to meet lots of people and dogs and continued to be vibrant and fine.

He finished his Sunday with a visit from a friend whom he loves to entertain.

I was sure he'd wake on Monday looking like the beat-up old guy he is.
Nope, fine and dandy.
In fact he walked about 4 miles before finally chillaxin' during the afternoon.

So that is how my 9.5 yr old XL Beast demonstrates he is suffering from sciatica and perhaps a tick borne illness. 



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The day our world changed - 12/11/2005

Tomorrow will be 9 yrs ago we brought Bugsy home from the SPCA of Wake County.

I can only laugh at our naivete.

If I knew then what I know now, I might have moved on to a less alert, intense, ENERGETIC, outgoing, bright, frenetic puppy. Oh and may be a smaller one :)
But I didn't.
So I brought him home and within a few days realized he wasn't exactly like other puppies I had known. I literally - really - wrote to several working dog organizations to see if they had interest in him.
Not because I didn't already love him intensely, but because I knew he NEEDED to work. Play was great but he was all about working.
No one wanted him and I was so in love.
And fascinated.
He was mine!

As I was just looking through photos to select one to post, I smiled and cried and admired one after another.
So many memories and lessons learned.

The zooming. And he is still zooming - we were out early in the pitch dark and he came flying towards me from over some shrubs.

The intensity. No human I know has his level of intensity and focus. It is ridiculously powerful silence.

The buddies. My goodness my photo files are filled with him and friends. So many puppies he's helped raise.  He is a true benevolent leader and an extraordinary amount of dogs he meets fawn on him. I can only wish I knew why that is.

And of course his love and joy with people.

Sadly I had to see those photos from knee surgery, lump surgery, shoulder surgery, and elbow surgery.
Not one of those long periods of pain changed him.
As soon as he could he zoomed, played, hunted and socialized.

I am very fortunate I was so ignorant back then. I got to bring home a dog that changed my life in so many ways I couldn't pretend to count them.

Happy Gotcha Day Beastie. You are one in a million.
Thanks for everything!

Hmmm I think I may start calling it my gotcha day ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

When the insane keeps you sane

Currently my life is insane.
Insanely busy due to work obligations.
So many responsibilities, so many tasks, loads of meetings, phone calls, texts, IMs, 7 days a week. My brain is full and always busy. My body is tired, my brain is tired. Very little is a constant.
It is very easy to feel weary. Very weary.

I don't always want to pop out of bed and march off into the dark morning, but I do it.
I do it because Bugsy pops up at whatever time I do and waits at the back door as I make the coffee.
He flies down the road, joyfully, intently, and with a youthful bounce in his step.
Darn dog never has a bad day.
Well until he gets home. Some days like today, he melts into the carpet as soon as we get in.
Seemingly he transforms from this energetic youthful dog, to this tired and achy old man.

I digress. This post is about how for years he has kept me sane.
These days he is my rock. So as my world swirls and changes and I am constantly pulled in several directions, he is my walk buddy. My lake buddy. My study buddy.
He greets the day with enthusiasm, watches me go in the morning, and greets me each evening with remarkable joy.

His steadiness in being happy takes me away from all the crazy stuff and exhaustion.
I am whisked away with the swish of his tail and mischievous ways.
His focus is always on what lies ahead and he is always sure it is going to be great.

He has his routine and he's adapted it to my schedule but my responsibility to him means that I must ground myself and have a routine with him. That routine is what frames my whacky work life! 

So that is our current world. I will confess my stress is reduced by just having him around. I look at him and his eyes say, "what fun are we going to have now?" and I smile and think, aaahhh.

Not too long ago I was a struggling small business owner.
There were dark days.
But just like today he bounced and played and zoomed and I smiled and smiled and smiled.

And the joy.
The unbridled, spilling out from within, joy.
He was so freaking nuts.
So his insanity saved me from residing in the dark place I could have easily gone to.

So as I look at the past 9 years I think,

"crazy ass puppy saved me from being down, crazy ass old dog keeps me grounded"

Now I better get to work because the rug just got pulled out from under me again.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Aging. The good and the bad

 I have been kind of emotional today about B lately. He will be 9 in two weeks and he is slowing down. It is wonderful in many ways as he allows so much more affection than he ever has but ....................well it scares me.
I recall so many people telling me when he was young and driving me completely crazy, that the ones that ask so much of you dig deeper in your heart. All I can say is I have poured my heart and soul into him. And when the time comes .....................................

I feel so fortunate that after the knee and the shoulder and the elbow and the lumps and the severe allergies, he heals and keeps going.

There is only the slightest amount of gray in the muzzle so we can pretend he isn't getting old, OK that he IS old.

But he is losing muscle and his face looks different.
For the record so is mine..............both are true here too but I don't look in the mirror much :)

He tires so much more quickly and sleeps most of the day.
Don't get me wrong, don't exercise him and pay the price!

In the morning he attempts to run down the stairs and some days it is clear the old joints aren't oiled yet so my eyes get very big as I wait to see if he'll stop his momentum before he crashes into the front door. (and no, apparently WALKING down the stairs is still not acceptable)

His walks are still trots and he swims for miles now - really. But when he's done, he may have a final short zoomie and then he's happy to crash.

I focus on rejoicing in his happiness and healthiness. I know of way too many dogs lost earlier than this, and so few dogs his size are still going as strong at this age.

Just like with humans, each dog is unique. I thank my lucky stars I got this nutjob :)