Category Archives: Annie’s second chance

What is going on?

Yesterday, I had a post ready to go. The working title was It’s official, Annie is a city dog!

I was snapping some pictures to add to my post when I realized that perhaps things are different from what I originally thought.

The theme of the story was that Annie grew up and lived in the country before she came to live with us.  Unfortunately, for most of her life, it wasn’t the idyllic existence that one would think of for a country dog.  She and many other dogs lived in rural Michigan in an area without an animal warden. Care and conditions were terrible and there wasn’t anyone around to inspect or enforce violations.  Once she got into foster care, she was exposed to a wonderful country life with open land to explore, a pack of 6 other dogs to play and bond with as well as love, affection, vet care and regular feedings from a wonderful family.

Transitioning to our city life took her a while but she has embraced it.  We have a nice sized fenced yard and we are a couple of blocks from a bustling downtown with restaurants, shops, bakeries and coffee shops.  Walk a few blocks in a different direction and we are on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Annie loves our walks, whichever route we may take although she is always cautious and alert when we are passing strangers along the way.IMG_1364Annie’s favorite place is our backyard.  She has learned how to let herself out and will come and go to her heart’s content.  We have 3 huge, old oak trees that provide lots of shade and she is perfectly happy to lay at the top of the deck stairs or curl up in her favorite dirt hole and sniff the air before falling into a deep, contented sleep. We have plenty of small animals that enter our yard including bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, possums and occasionally a skunk or raccoon.  She has never paid attention to any of them nor has she exhibited a prey drive.IMG_2941Imagine my horror when I opened the door Monday to let everyone inside before I left the house to run some errands and there stood Annie with a floppy, bloody, dead rat in her mouth. Yes, a rat. The most vile creature ever to walk the planet. Living near restaurants and water means that there are also rats in the area but until this summer I have been blissfully unaware of whatever may be lurking on the other side of our fence.

Two things happened this summer to encourage this invasion into our yard. First, two houses away, a dilapidated, dark and unused garage was torn down to make way for a new, modern garage with an upstairs apartment. There were rumors that rats had taken up residence there but I never saw them so I chose to pretend that they didn’t exist. Second, we replaced our fence and gate shortly before we picked up Winn.  Our old gate brushed against the sidewalk, the new gate has a pretty large gap between the sidewalk and the bottom of the gate which would allow small animals easy access to the yard.IMG_2937We started to suspect that a rat or two (I know, you see one rat and you actually have many more) were wandering into our yard about a month ago. Maisie loves to play with all creatures big and small and has been spending a lot of time sniffing and pacing in the bushes along our fence line with Winn hot on her trail.  Annie has ignored all of their excitement.

When I shrieked at Annie to drop the rat, and she did, Winn was right there eager to pick it up.  Fortunately she responded well to my hysteria and also dropped the rat and everyone ran inside avoiding my attempts to grab their collars to hurry along the process.

Once I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but wonder who had killed the rat? Maisie has picked up lots of small critters but has never killed them.  She wants to love and play with them.  Annie doesn’t have any front teeth and has never shown any interest in chasing or catching them.  Winn is interested in everything and while she did drop a baby bunny when I told her to, she wasn’t allowed the time to figure out what the natural next step might be.  Had she done it when I wasn’t around to stop her?IMG_5313I was betting on Winn but then, when I let them out later Annie was the one that was running around excitedly sniffing the bushes, around the planters and all along the fence line.  It seemed that she was the one that had scored the rat and was very proud of herself. She had officially become a city girl by catching a city rat.IMG_5316The next day, I had my camera ready when Annie and Winn gathered together and were sniffing around the same spot.  I thought it was cute and stood away from them snapping pictures when I began to get suspicious.  The were very curious about something in the dirt but so far, their mouths were empty.  I called them away and as they both came toward me, I was able to catch a glimpse of four small feet sticking out from under a plant close to the sidewalk.  Good grief, another one!  Upon closer inspection, I could tell that it was a squirrel.  I had more questions because neither one of them wanted to pick it up, they just looked at it, looked at each other and then looked at it some more. Were they leaving it alone to avoid more shrieking?

My new working theory is that there is a predator cat in the alley and these maimed creatures are making a quick escape into our yard by squeezing under the gate.  Then again, the squirrel could have just fallen out of the tree.  I’ve seen that happen before…

 

 

Oh happy day!

Annie and I had a big day today.  A day that changes everything!

It was time for her rabies shot so our big date was a trip to the vet.  Annie and I have made many of these trips over the last year and 1/2, but this time was very different.

When Annie was surrendered to rescue, the only document that came with her was her 2014 rabies certificate.  By the time she came home with us a year later, the rabies tag was long gone and the certificate we received was in pretty rough shape but the story it told was clear to me.

It’s a copy of a fax and is crooked and faded. On multiple occasions I’ve had to pull it out of her file when asked to show proof of vaccination.  Each time I pull it out, the anger bubbles up because it is a reminder in black and white of her life before us.

The owner’s name and address belongs to the man that operated the kennel/puppy mill.  It’s easy for me to say that even though I’ve never met him, I hate him.  Her name is listed as Anne, but “Paris” is written next to it. Why does she have two names? I don’t know.  Her age is listed as 7, although she had just had a birthday and was actually 8. Her weight is listed as 00. Record keeping was obviously not a priority with these dogs.  There are other notes that are hard to read, but are the vaccinations that she received after she was rescued. At the top are the words Annie Paris, blaze and orange collar.  The final glaring bit of information is the list of vaccinations done which only includes 2 things, the one she received that day and another rabies shot she received May 23, 2008!

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(Names and addresses have been edited)

These are all broad strokes that paint a picture of neglect.  After 6 years, what compelled him to seek out a vet to administer a 3 year rabies vaccination? Who knows, but what really bothers me concerns the veterinarian.  There is no way he could have examined her and thought that she or any of the other dogs from that kennel were receiving proper care.  The conditions they were forced to live in were unsanitary and disgusting.  Knowing Annie as I do, they would have had to drag her to him, with her trembling and cowering.

So now, here’s the good news.  Annie came to us with a broken spirit on the mend thanks to her rescuers and now she is a completely different dog.  She’s happy and loving, she has a spring in her step and a twinkle in her eye. She regularly approaches me and nudges my hand for a scratch behind the ear. She walks on leash beautifully and loves our neighborhood patrols.  She comes running when she hears the scoop in the dog food or the word “treat”.  She doesn’t hide in her crate anymore but instead sprawls out all over the house, moving around, finding a comfy spot on the cool tile or under my feet or on the rug in the next room. She’s quick to come when I’m having training time with Winn and she will do her two tricks, sit and down, with precision so she can also get treats. She joins me in the kitchen when I’m cooking, confident that she will get a nibble now and then.  At the end of every day, we climb the stairs together, I give her her eye drops and then she collapses on her Big Barker bed and lets out a sigh of contentment.

So this time going to the vet was different. Yes, she trembled as we were waiting, it took a lot of gentle coaxing to get her into the room and she wasn’t overly enthused about the attention she was getting but we both eagerly left with a treasure in my hands.  I now have a proper certificate with both of our names in print.  It is signed by a Dr. who lovingly cares for her and is genuinely invested in her well being. The final reminder of her previous life can go in the trash. We belong to each other, and we have no reason to ever look back again!IMG_3205 (1)

 

 

Back to the vet we go…

Last week we celebrated Annie’s 11th birthday, which is a big marker but was a bit tempered because right after dinner she started coughing.

I’ve written about her “old man noises” before.  She starts out with 2 or 3 gasps and then expels this horrific, loud noise. I was pretty sure it was her way of coughing because I’ve never heard her cough in a different way.  She has done this sporadically since we’ve had her, maybe once every 3 or 4 months but on her birthday she started and couldn’t seem to stop. After 5 or 6 episodes, she was tired and my nerves were rattled.

I couldn’t help but think that she had made it to her birthday and now she was taking a turn for the worse.  My heart was aching during her celebration but I know this day will be coming at some point, I’m just not ready yet.

She had a few more episodes and on Friday I took her to the vet.  After a thorough examination we sat there talking about what it could be and we both had the sense that it might be some sort of lung disease. Her lungs and heart sounded good when her doctor listened to her chest but we agreed that an x-ray was needed to try to find the answer. It couldn’t be done that day, her doctor wanted to have more people available to help her since Annie is so big so it had to wait until Monday.

Over the weekend, Annie did seem to be coughing less frequently and by Monday it had subsided but I was still bracing myself for bad news.  Poor Annie was trembling as soon as we sat down and when the tech came to take her back she did not want to leave me.  I walked her back as far as I could go and that seemed to help.

As I sat there waiting, I had rushes of so many different memories.  The first time we took her here was very traumatic.  She has changed so much and seems so happy with her life.  Whenever I get up from the couch or a chair, she is at my feet and I have to stretch over her.  We love our walks and she trots out to the car when I say “car ride”.  She loves food but she has curtailed her scavenger ways and hasn’t found anything to get into in quite a while, thank goodness.  She is still very nervous around strangers, especially men, and isn’t yet comfortable with my son but hopefully by the end of the summer they will reach an understanding.  It has been such a joy to have her with us and I am so honored that she has chosen to trust me to take care of her and keep her safe.

After what seemed like hours but was really only about 30 minutes I was able to join Annie in one of the exam rooms.  Her x-ray was done, we needed to wait while her doctor looked at all of the pictures.  Her doctor came through the door with a big smile which instantly put me at ease.  Everything looked great! No masses, no white spots and no foreign objects.  There was one tiny spot in her stomach and she went over it with an ultrasound and concluded it was a particle of a stick, stone or leaf that hadn’t digested, all probable since Annie frequently chews sticks when she is lounging in the grass. She looked at her lungs, heart, liver, spleen and trachea and all looked to be just fine.  The only concern was evidence of arthritis in her spine, something we both assumed but now was confirmed.  Her conclusion was “old man lung” which isn’t something that is treated. When lungs get old they get a little more sensitive. Heat and allergies could have triggered her coughing and it has been hot and she takes medication for allergies.

Since we’ve been home, she hasn’t coughed again.  Her energy level, appetite and breathing have all been normal.  She’s sleeping by my feet, moaning every now and then as she stretches and seems to be completely content.  Once again, she rang my alarm bell and ended up being just fine. She’s an aging dog, and with that comes a variety of health concerns but for now I am relieved.IMG_1508

 

Annie turns 11!

Wow! Another year has gone by and we are celebrating Annie’s birthday. This birthday is a big deal, she’s 11 and is still in really good health.  Last year before her party, we had just come from the vet.  She had her stitches removed from the removal of a cancerous lump as well as an EKG to evaluate an irregular heartbeat that appeared while she was in surgery.  Not only did she have a clear pathology report, her heart rate was normal which was a huge relief.

Since then, she has had a couple of ear infections but nothing else major and she continues to let her personality shine.  She has also responded so well to Winn.  She’s actually more lively and playful with Winn around, and she seems so happy.

We invited one of the neighbor dogs to join us, I baked pup cakes using the same recipe I used last year for her cake, got pictures of everyone in party hats and had a very fun party with lots of laughs.

It’s no surprise, Winn was not a fan of the party wear.

She was excited about the pup cakes, but then saw Maisie’s hat, snatched it off her head and played keep away.

Annie LOVED her treats and kept coming back for more.  She even started pawing at the plate in an effort to bring them closer so she could grab them!

Our guest wasn’t sure what to think about it all, but she seemed to have a good time and got a pup cake to take home and enjoy without being stared at by other dogs.IMG_1927

Thank goodness for neighbors!

Recently I had a dog care problem. I work part-time so I am not away from my dogs much but when I do need some support my mother-in-law has always been the one to come and give the dogs the attention they need.

She and Maisie became fast friends and walking partners.  They are quite a spectacle, my mother-in-law is tiny and Maisie, well she is a little large.  Maisie out weighs her and they get a lot of attention.

When Annie came home, Maisie showed her the way to the tiny lady with the never-ending bag of treats and she quickly accepted her as one of her people.  In Annie’s world, there are 4 of us; me, my husband, my daughter and my mother-in-law.  Everyone else is suspicious.

I know I should have had a plan for the time when my mother-in-law wasn’t available, but dog walkers or doggie day-care are out of the question.  I have tried to gently introduce Annie to friends and neighbors, sometimes more successfully than others, but now I just had to make it work.

I turned to my dear friend and neighbor Evan.  She is my coffee buddy, we sit in my kitchen, sipping coffee and catching up with whatever may be happening in our lives.  We’ve done this for years, she has known all of my dogs and Annie has certainly seen her enough times to know that she is someone I trust.

I tried to make it as simple as possible; come over around noon, let the dogs out, give them a few treats and then leave them loose in the house till I get home around 4:30.

The first text came through around 12:15, Maisie went out but Annie didn’t.  She was fine when Evan opened her crate but then she started barking and wouldn’t leave the room.  When Evan tried to cajole her down the hallway to get outside, she went back in her crate and hid.  Shit, I forgot about the narrow hallway! Annie’s been fine with it for months, but following an outsider wasn’t something she was willing to do.

I quickly fired back to try and lead her the long way around the house to get through the kitchen, but there was no response.  As the minutes ticked away, with me obsessively checking my laptop for updates (of course, this is the one day I left my cell phone on the kitchen counter as I was rushing out the door), I was getting more and more frantic.  I had my keys in my hand, ready to rush home to relieve her when I finally got a notice that she had enlisted the help of my next door neighbor.

Carol talks to the dogs over the fence when she is coming and going.  Apparently she heard Annie barking and saw Evan in the backyard with Maisie.  She came running over with chicken treats in hand.  Annie gobbled up the supply, inching her way toward the door but still unwilling to go outside.  Carol ran home to get more and try again.  On the second attempt, Evan took over and tossed the treats further away so Annie had to take several steps forward to get them.  Finally, success!

Being Annie’s guardian and protector is wonderful but exhausting!  The next day, I had Evan over for coffee and assisted Evan and Annie in another treat exchange. 2 days later, Evan came over to let the dogs out and Annie followed her the long way around the house and out the door on the first try.  As with everything, Annie will do it her way, in her own time.  We get to love her in return.IMG_0373

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“I took the treat, may I leave now?”