Category Archives: Annie’s second chance

Celebrating Annie

Having a puppy reminds me of the years when my kids were little and we counted their age progression in months. 3 mos., 8 mos., 17 mos., etc.

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My life-sized Christmas bear

Winn turned 9 mos. this week and as fun as is to watch her grow and change, I am also reminded that Annie continues to age as well. She has a few more grey hairs on her muzzle and is having a slow recovery from recent oral surgery.  Aside from those two reminders, she still acts like the Annie that I know.

Every morning she runs to the back door with an urgency and expression that says, “outta my way, I gotta pee!” and I smile as I watch her quickly go down the stairs and run around the yard looking for the perfect spot to relieve herself.

She sleeps a lot and I love watching her snuggle up in her bed as she snores away the afternoon. When she is waking up, she will rub her face and head all over her bed, groan, snort, and roll around.F3900E19-B1D5-40C7-B1B1-D1F7B7397FC7

Her stomach is her time clock. She gets restless and lets me know with an elbow nudge, a bark or a stare when she thinks I should be in kitchen preparing her meal. Currently, she’s on multiple, small meals which suits her just fine. I think she takes great pleasure in getting fed more times than other two! (Of course they get a little smackerel while she’s occupied with her bowl.)

Since it is recommended that senior dogs get twice yearly health checks, I think it’s only fair that they should have twice yearly birthday celebrations. Yesterday Annie turned 11 1/2!

I decided not to put on birthday hats, instead I tied a big red ribbon on each of them.  I froze some vanilla yogurt in my cupcake mold and brought them out after dinner. They were a big hit! It was such an easy treat to create, and they loved it. They knew something good was coming their way when the camera came out and after they each had one, they chased me into the kitchen for seconds. IMG_6837

We love you Annie, you make every day a wonderful day. We will plan a HUGE celebration for your 12th birthday in June!

Poor Annie

Annie’s had a rough go lately.

It started about 4 weeks ago, she suddenly was reluctant to go up and down the stairs.  A couple of nights she refused altogether and one night she chose to make her way upstairs in the dark well after we had all gone to sleep.  We found her curled up outside our bedroom door the next morning and it broke my heart.

She wasn’t showing signs of joint pain so my best guess was that her nails were too long and the stairs felt slippery, and/or her vision was getting worse. It had been a while since her last nail trim because she had been so nervous at her last vet visit I decided to cancel her nail trim.  We both braved another vet visit, got her vision checked (she probably does see shadows in her peripheral vision) and her nails trimmed and that seemed to help even though she was still anxious and would attempt the stairs 4 or 5 times before finally charging all the way up.

About a week later, she woke me up with her usual nudge and bark.  When I turned on the light she looked like she had a ping-pong ball tucked into her jowl.  Shit.  I have always worried about her teeth and it appeared she had an abscess, so off to the vet we went.  Again, she was incredibly stressed and I had to coax her along as we navigated several stops and starts before I could get her in the exam room.

Sure enough, she needed to have two teeth surgically removed.  Her surgery day was the third trip to the vet in 3 weeks and she was not happy about it.  She completely put on the brakes and would NOT go through the door leading to the procedure rooms.   She’s 115 lbs. and when she decides she’s not going somewhere she means it! I had to lift her back-end and straddle her as we made our way into the hospital area.  I don’t usually go back there but the tech that came out to assist us was a male and I just said flat-out, “this is going to make it worse”. Everyone there knows her well and he quickly retreated so that Annie wouldn’t see him as I got her where she needed to be and her regular tech ran forward to greet us and take over for me. She just knew that something big was about to happen.

After her surgery, which took longer that expected–each tooth had 4 roots rather than 3, she refused to go to the recovery room which is further back in the hospital.  She would only go forward, towards the exit door. There is an office right there so they set up a bed and that’s where she recovered, getting lots of one on one attention from all of the doctors when they were in between patients.  Thank goodness she has doctors that are willing to make special accommodations!

Once I got her back home, she slowly started to show improvement.  It took a couple of days for her recover from the anesthesia, and she was on painkillers for few more days but her overall mood was so much better.

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Annie’s home!

In the middle of all of this, I’ve been helping my mom move into her new condo and have moved several furniture pieces that don’t fit in her place into my house.  One piece is a steamer trunk that we placed in the front hall by the stairs until we figured out where to put it.  A few days ago I pushed it further away from the stairs and that night Annie went upstairs with no hesitation. OMG, I should have known!  Annie doesn’t like narrow spaces or new doorways.  I had just created a narrow space where there wasn’t one and that was the reason she suddenly wouldn’t go upstairs.  Ugh, I feel terrible.

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The trunk that caused Annie to rethink going upstairs.

Over the past several days, she’s had trouble keeping her food down.  She has a two week post surgery follow-up scheduled and I really don’t want traumatize her again by dragging her in for another appointment in addition to that.  She has no other symptoms of distress.  Her mood is better than ever, her energy level is back to normal, she is drinking water and her stool is fine.  I stopped her painkillers, started feeding her 4 times a day with small meals of Prescription Digestive Care food (still softened as directed for her post oral surgery care), added probiotics because she was also on high powered antibiotics.  I consulted with her dr. and she agreed with my treatment and also suggested an antacid to add to her food. If anything changes or gets worse she wants to see us immediately. This regimen seems to be helping, each day her food goes down a little easier so I am hopeful that she will be completely better in a few more days.

Poor Annie, she’s fragile but she’s such a trooper and once again she has shown me that she’s not going to let this get her down.  She just would like it if we never went back to the vet again!

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Annie is feeling much better, eager for a treat!

 

 

 

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