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 :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm fat, and not phat (don't worry the post isn't about me)

Life has changed significantly for me over the last year. For many months I kept my fitness level close to where it was even if I gained a couple of pounds.
Then work got even more demanding and I found myself with zero time for real exercise, I sat at a workstation all day every day, and ate snacks.
This isn't good when you are past your metabolism's prime.
(Seriously this post isn't going to be about me, hang in there)
Then summer arrived with oppressive heat and daily evening storms. So instead of doing something active and fun I decided to have cheese and crackers washed down with a beer or wine or a drink.
Oh dear.
So today I decided was going to be the first day of taking back my body.
Problem is I was missing motivation.

So there I was putting on my running shorts feeling fat and flat, in contrast Bugsy was whining, bouncing and dancing.  Bad news bud too hot for you. The face drops. Dancing ends. He walks off and lies down turned away from where I am.

Just then I thought about Bugsy
This Bugsy
who had just had this done to his leg
The hardest part was keeping him down - a year later this was him

So as if that wasn't enough a year or so later we had this:
That one took some time to heal too, not that Bugsy ever cared

Then another year later he blew out his shoulder which led to him snapping his elbow. One would think this would kind of cause him to slow down and be kind of depressed. What did Bugsy do?
Well he did this
We got him fixed up with a few hitches along the way

Before getting fixed he looked like this

After the botched surgery

After the correct surgery (which pleased him so he chewed large sticks)

and if I fast forward a year, he was back to this

That was a few months ago and he even looks better today.
In fact you rarely see the hitch in his step, front end or back end.

At one point in his travails I put this together

So you see, as I sat there this evening, lacing up my new running shoes, completely lacking in motivation to get my fat butt moving. I thought about how many days Bugsy must have hurt and ached and yet he never lost a moment to self pity, and never lacked motivation to move.
He would say he never has a bad day.
"Focus on what you want and just get it"
(even if your humans say no or go slow or easy or you can't go that far)

So I will look at him and remember the injuries and the rehab and I will get my fat arse in gear and eat less and exercise more.
Heretofore I will say, "What would Bugsy do?"

Um well he'd walk and run and zooooooooooooooooom!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A moment of victory

In April 2011 my previously storm oblivious dog became storm-phobic.
Honestly he had every right to however it was so difficult to see.
Violent tornadoes were touching down all around us. Sirens from car alarms, house alarms, the weather radio, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances were all going off. There was a very odd feeling to the air and the smell after they passed is one I still recall.
A few weeks later our neighbor's house was struck by lightning and a small fire started - the fire trucks arrived full blast to our quiet cul de sac and I saw the panic in Bugsy's eyes.
Another month later and the village idiot neighbor decided to set off huge fireworks in our quiet cul de sac.
And that was that. Bugsy decided that storms were terrible and lightning or flashes of light were the spawn of Satan.
When he was a young dog our own home had been hit by lightning inflicting damage to everything electric from the garage door openers, computers, TV.s AC units and the entire home cinema set up on the third floor - we never figured out exactly where it hit but it was a doozy. That event never bothered him.  However the year after the tornadoes, a tree immediately outside the house was stuck by lightning and it was loud, you felt it in the floor and it once again blew out a bunch of electrical stuff.
Oh yea, Bugsy was now inconsolable in storms. I even got him a prescription for Xanax because we go through daily storms pretty much every July.
I got in the habit of giving him a capsule of valerian root and a dose of benadryl as a storm cocktail and it took the edge off.
Then this summer I started to notice that he wasn't as bad. I kept using a dose of benadryl (he needs it for allergies anyway, I just would leave it until afternoon when the storms usually hit).
Then I began noticing he didn't need that either.
He isn't oblivious as he once was but he is calm.

Today was the real test though. We went to the lake for his weekly swim. We were a LONG way from the docks and the sky blackened quickly. He was hunting herons and still going away from the docks. Hmmm.
I got him turned around and heading in. The rain began and got heavier and heavier.
He remained happy and hunting.
Then the first crack of lightning followed by a LOUD clap of thunder.
No response from him.
We kept trying to make our way to the docks.
The rains were so heavy now I could hardly keep my eyes open as the winds had blown my cap off.
He was still doing his thing.
As we approached the pier I had hoped to pull him out of the water from, I turned around to find him gone.
He had gone out of the water and into the woods. Gulp.
Then another mighty slash of lightning followed quickly by thunder.
My heart raced as I struggled to secure my kayak.
I run up the bank and looked to my left and there he was peeing on a shrub, completely non-plussed.
Pouring rain, pitch black, thunder and lightning and he was absolutely fine.
Suddenly my concern of how much water was going to be entering my new car disappeared as did any thoughts of how yucky the morning had turned.
All I could see was my incredible mutt, absolutely AOK in the midst of a severe storm.
A moment that brought such joy and relief to my less racing heart.
I just looked at him with all the admiration I have in me.

He owns my heart

It's true, he does.
I don't really want to go on and say the things I've said so many times, I know that so many of my friends feel the same way about their dogs.
And I've read so many stories about how unfair it is that they live their entire lives in front of our eyes.  And I agree.
I have also thought, "isn't it amazing that we are with them through their infancy through old age"

Bugsy maintains many of his personal characteristics that are forever youthful, however, there is a softness now to him that never existed when he was a young dog. He is more accessible, more vulnerable. I like to think I am too.

Tonight after a busy hour of destroying toys and taunting his humans I looked over and saw this:

Sleep well my old man, you can start raising hell again about 5 tomorrow morning.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The dog with 9 lives

Well, he's dodged another bullet.
The general vet seemed fairly convinced it was osteosarcoma, however the specialist surgeon immediately determined it to be similar to a previous weird lump made of fibrous tissue.
He then had a check of his joints & aspirated a few other lumps and declared Bugsy a freak.
Nine going on four he said. LOL. That's my boy.
We have been celebrating life by visiting, playing, swimming and generally 'doing' stuff.
Being outgoing brings out the best in Bugsy. I always find it kind of remarkable.
Tonight I decided to take him to a local microbrew, turned out they were having a fundraiser, live music and massive crowds. Loads of people, kids & dogs. Seriously noisy. 
He was so happy, couldn't stop smiling.
People patting him on the head, stepping over him, kids screaming; his response "I love this place!"
I loved to see the differing reactions to him, people stopping for kisses and petting to horrified looks of terror. No matter, he just kept smiling, wiggling & waggling.
Damn I love this dog.
He spent the morning swimming & heron hunting with his GSP puppy friend, helped with yard work & household chores & impatiently waited to go to the microbrew. 
He isn't everyone's cup of tea but I couldn't ask for a better canine buddy.
Thanks Bugsy for being a freak of the very best kind

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Feeling more positive

As the time approaches I seem to be getting more and more comfortable that the prognosis will be good.
I keep looking at my Beastie boy and trying to find signs he is in terrible pain, or ill-health. It just isn’t there.
This morning we took a nice long walk in the sticky white air of the North Carolina summers, he began panting in the first half mile but so did I.
Then we saw a friend, and another friend. Both were greeted with oodles of joy and energy. Much bouncy insanity ensued from all the furry pups.
After that brief interlude of cwazee, we continued on our way. He has taken to checking in with me to see if we are turning around or moving on and he was happy to see we’d continue.
We saw a new human friend (we met yesterday, to Bugsy this is now a friend) and then two more human friends with their dogs.
All the while I saw no hitch in his step, no exhaustion, plenty of drool, but then again that is fairly normal for Beastie on walks, especially hot humid walks filled with canine nuttiness.
His nose is working fine – too fine as per usual.
Yesterday I lost count of the squirrel chases, he clearly feels this is a high priority assignment and he absolutely has to ensure they don’t eat all the bird seed.
He wants all the treats and food you will offer, is drinking fine and eliminating fine.
He is playful and downright funny.
Basically he seems absolutely normal for him.
As Thursday afternoon approaches I am feeling less and less afraid of what I will hear. I have even been thinking that I wish I did the xrays yesterday; however I know this decision is for the best.
So thanks for all the hugs and prayers and thoughts – I sure hope we don’t need them again soon.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

That day

Many of you have followed the convoluted life that has been Bugsy's life.
You know the level of dedication I have had to keep him up and running at Bugsy speed.
You know that in his way he is special.
And you know that I love him in the way that one does when you realize your heart dog is your best buddy, ever.
Well Bugsy is aging.
Remarkably his muzzle remains mostly devoid of gray and his best canine friends all remain under the age of 2.
There have been so many health issues, which seems so odd when you look at this strong, muscled, shiny-coated mutt.
In each instance I have poured myself into finding the right vet to provide the right solution and fortunately it has worked so far.
A couple of years ago the lumps started to arrive. A cyst, a lipoma, all normal benign stuff.
And then a few months back one that seemed different. I showed it to the vet who said, "I'm not worried about that"
And three weeks ago when it seemed to present itself as a "hey, yo, look at this" my stomach dropped.
Today we saw the vet.
No aspiration.
Let's get xrays.
If the bone is compromised, we'll xray his chest.
Let's have that done on Monday.

And this is my boy.
Who several people as they entered the vet's office said, "wow what a handsome dog" and received kisses and tail wags for noticing.
This my boy who patiently tolerated all the manipulations the vet put him through and then wagged and wiggled and kissed the vet.
The vet looking at him as he wagged and wiggled with a sadness in his eyes.
And saying, "aw Bugs" over and over.

I thought I was going to be fine. I am not.
I know we won't know until we get the xrays. However I do know that my boy is nearly 9, is an XL neutered as a baby male and that they are prone to osteosarcoma.
I know that I know three people who's 100-115lb dogs died at 9.
I do know there isn't a damn thing more I could have done for him.
I have sacrificed so much to make sure I was the owner he has needed.
I have no regrets.
I also know I do not know how to imagine life without him.
He is my partner in crime.
He is the being that never says no to an adventure.
He is the being that looks into my eyes with anticipation and expectation.
He is my guaranteed joy.

Pray for my boy
Pray for me
This cannot be his time.

Monday, May 12, 2014

it really isn't insanity

During the week I wake at 5am at the latest, put on walking clothes and interrupt Bugsy's morning rolling session to head out into the darkness.
I start the coffee before I go so that at least I can have a few whiffs of the glorious smell, I won't taste any until I return.
As I strap on my shoes and affix the flashlights I often think, "either this is dedication or I am completely insane."

This morning as I sleepily headed down the drive, Bugsy leading the way, wide awake, ready to run and hunt, I sighed and took a deep breath.
At that moment I smelled the flowers of the privet hedge, and honeysuckle, and the early tulip tree buds. The morning air was heavy and still. The moisture was holding the scent.
I took another long inhale and my eyes went skyward, the stars were large and bright.
The only sounds were some doves, a few songbirds, an owl or two.
My thoughts of tiredness left. I felt exhilarated - not ready to run and hunt alongside the Beast but suddenly I didn't feel insane for leaving my bed to walk.

As I did my best to keep up with my Beast, I thought about this time we have together. It sets the tone for our morning and our day.
Last week I changed our routine and didn't take him for two mornings, my day didn't really feel right and by the reaction I got on Friday when I took him back out for an early morning walk, he had missed our time too.
It is our routine and Bugsy loves a routine. I mean he LOVES a routine.
If we do our walk, once home OUR routine continues. Each action I take, he takes a complimentary one.
Even to the point at which I put some of my things in the car, he will run to the door to watch me put them in the car, once he sees me shut the car door, he runs to his bed and assumes his 'relaxed' pose  waiting for his treat.
Here he is in his 'relaxed' pose

So in the end I declare it sane to wake up before 5am, don walking gear and get dragged down the road in the pitch black.
Of course I reserve the right to change my mind once the copperheads become active

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's like a dream come true: Bugsy's Team, SPCA Walk 2014

In May 2006 Bugsy age @ 8 months old participated in his first SPCA of Wake County Dog Walk.
You truly cannot imagine how much he enjoyed that day. Really.

I can still recall the first walk, actually the post walk party; a German Shepherd, that took offense to Bugsy's sniffing of said GSD's butt, attempted to eat B. All B did was wag his tail and give the GSD a look to say 'lighten up dude'. After the GSD's owner settled the dog back down, Bugs went right back to sniffing the dog's butt. Carefree and confident. We were mortified.
Thus we learned that B's intent was to sniff every butt he could and the dog walk was butt-sniffing paradise.

 (photo from 2009)
Over the years we have experienced a variety of weather at the dog walk -
we've had rain, clouds, sun, cold weather, hot weather, perfect weather & the very interesting; just-before-tornadoes-hit-weather.
(2011:approximately 2 hours before tornadoes whipped through causing destruction in Raleigh)
Bugsy has walked for the SPCA as a pup, as a healthy young dog, while recovering from a TPLO, and last year just two weeks after shoulder and elbow surgery he suffered the indignity of 'competing' in the Senior Walk. It was quite embarrassing as he was hell-bent on lapping all the 'competitors'.

(2013: sporting the half shaved look)

So this year we'll be back in the full 'race'.

That brings me to another thing we have learned: his intent is to finish first.
It's no walk, it is a race you foolish humans. We used to line up mid-pack and then he'd launch himself at the start as if he heard the starter's gun at the Kentucky Derby.
Now we just line up in the front row. Usually next to a GSP called Daisy who has the same philosophy of finishing in the lead.
(2012; with Daisy and my Dad holding me back!)

We, the humans, always meet and make friends there. Bugsy always finds dogs to play with and he also has calmed many a nervous dog. I recall one year there was a gorgeous female pittie that was so overwhelmed. We stopped to say hi and within seconds she was wagging and kissing him. Then she attached herself to him. Her owner was amazed at how she had come out of her shell, as long as she was by his side. That was a proud moment, so we walked with her for a while.

(2013: he's making a new friend)

I have so many memories of our Dog Walks, it is a special event for us humans and for the crazy canine Bugsy.
(Here he is trying to defend his title as best kisser (2008):)
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and now 2014. 

Wow looking at year by year is a stark reminder that my Beast isn't a young dog and I am no spring chicken myself.

Every year has been fabulous, however, I think this year will be the best ever.
This year Bugsy truly has a team. Team Bugsy which I'll call Team Zoomie.
I want to stop myself from saying this out loud but I cannot.
I hope that Team Bugsy/Zoomie and the donations made to that team, forever-more, become HIS legacy.

I know that if he could, he'd tell me to give back to the SPCA because they saved his wiggly butt. And he'd also want to make sure that other strays, owner turn-ins, etc. were afforded the same kindness that he received from the SPCA of Wake County.

So thank you Jake, Paxton, and Angus for joining Team Bugsy.
Breslin we look forward to seeing you at the walk too!

Lastly in case this swayed you to want to join us or sponsor us there is still time!
Join or Sponsor Team Bugsy/Zoomie

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The evolution of the Bugsmonster, like a fine wine

A funny thing has happened to Bugsy. 
He has matured and softened. 
Don't get me wrong, he still wants to kill furry things, runs like a fool because he can, and does ridiculous things that make my heart stop. 
However, these days you can pet him and he seems to enjoy it. 
We had a rainy day and I was sick; he laid next to me happy to snooze all day long. 
He walks. 
I know you are like so he walks, Bugsy trots. In the house, in the yard, pretty much everywhere. 
Tonight though he happily sauntered around the yard. Eventually he laid down and enjoyed the fire I had made. It was all so civilized. Peaceful even.
In the past I have worried about his aging from a physical standpoint and of course there have been changes, he currently seems healthy enough though and his broken joints are as good or better than one should reasonably expect.
He has just mellowed a bit. A little less frenetic, a little less intense.
A bit softer, more settled, and finally willing to be loved and touched.
Age 8.5. Like a fine wine, he has matured spectacularly.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dog management to enable 'working from home' to be productive

If when you try to work from home, you get this:

Then I highly recommend lots of this:
(Today it was about 5 miles with plenty of off leash time)

Then you may have a reasonable amount of time like this:

*praying for a few hours but I am an optimist*