Tag Archives: Rescue Dog

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

The oldest and the youngest

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how everybody is getting along and I can easily say that they are all getting along very well.

I never really thought about or wished for a 3 dog household. Last October, we were visiting friends with a new litter and I was clear with everyone around me that we are a 2 dog family and didn’t have room for another.  So what changed? In the back of my mind I know Annie is a senior and won’t be with us for a long, long time but I don’t want to predict when that might happen so I just thought seize the day, go with what feels right.

I considered all of the changes that I could think of but my biggest worry wasn’t about logistics (3 crates in one room is A LOT), increased food and care costs or the extra hair and muddy footprints. I was most worried about Annie and how she would respond.  I don’t want her to think we are replacing her or that it’s OK for her to start to slow down.  I have always felt that Charlie stopped fighting once he saw that we would be taken care of by Maisie. I’m still shocked that he curled up by my feet and then took his last breath. He was so quiet about it but seemed to be at peace.

Annie has changed so much over the past year and a half.  She is much more confident, very affectionate and is so devoted to my husband and me.  She and Maisie are good friends but Annie still doesn’t play with her.  Annie will chase me in the yard and give me a little body slam which will get Maisie very excited.  When Maisie tries to join us, on very rare occasions (usually when it’s very cold outside which makes them both more frisky) Annie might give her 20-30 seconds of play but then it always ends with Annie walking away and giving Maisie a scolding if she doesn’t back off.

When we arrived home with Winn, we stayed outside in the yard for introductions. Annie and Maisie were both curious and so, so gentle.  Winn was a bit overwhelmed and stayed between my feet as she took in her new surroundings and these two girls.  They both gave her some sniffs and then Annie strolled away, keeping a good distance for the rest of the day.  Maisie was more persistent and Winn was very clear with her about appropriate boundaries. It was pretty much what I expected from all of them but it didn’t take very long for them to adjust, settle down and accept each other.IMG_0814

It has been so fun watching Winn explore our house and yard and find her favorite spots.  She has discovered the tiny bathroom and likes the feel of the cool tile on her belly and the cast iron tub on her back.  She loves toys and will rummage through the toy basket when she’s ready for a new one.  She’s a crate hopper, she rolls around in all the crates but seems to like Annie’s best.  Once she has pulled out a toy, she will frequently drag it into Annie’s crate. Annie doesn’t play with toys but once Winn leaves her crate Annie will quickly go in and flop down without regard to any toy that may have been left behind. Winn enjoys being outside, both in our back yard and on our front porch and like every Newfie I know, she LOVES the water bowl.

The most heartwarming part of all of this has been watching Annie and Winn.  Annie really loves her!  She actually play bowed to Winn on day 2 and since then I have watched them playing together several times each day and of course she is so incredibly gentle.  Annie plays in very short bursts but to see her initiate play and willingly engage with Winn is wonderful, it’s a new behavior that we really have never seen out of her.  My husband thinks that for Annie, Winn is the puppy that she got to keep.  She gets to love her, play with her and show her the ways of our house and she isn’t a product of Annie’s mothering days which were filled with so much hardship.  I’m just relieved to see Annie so happy.

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Hooray for Annie!

Last month Annie had her 1 year check up with our vet.  As we sat there going over her history, her progress over the past year became so apparent.

While we were waiting to go into the exam room, Annie stood stiffly by my side and started to tremble.  I couldn’t help but remember our first occasion here.  She wasn’t leash trained, didn’t want to come in and my husband and I had to lift, push and pull with the aid of a lifting harness just to get her in and out of the car and into the office.  When it was time to leave, she refused to budge and we went through all of the same difficulties getting her back into the car and home again.

Since that day, we have had many appointments here to monitor her  conditions with her eyes, ears, skin and teeth.  She also had a cancer scare and surgery as well as a glucosamine overdose when she got into her beefy supplements.  Walking in with no hesitation and standing by my side with a little tremble is a huge improvement and really speaks to her bravery and progress over the past year.

Her dr. did have one concern, one of her blood levels has been consistently in the low normal range, but it dropped to below normal and she would like to monitor it monthly. Yesterday we went in for her blood work and a nail trim and once again she walked right in and even greeted the tech at the front desk. She stood by me with that little tremble again but was so good otherwise.  I just got the call that her blood level had jumped back up to right where it has been, still in the low normal range but that seems to be her normal so we will recheck again at her mid-year senior check-up.

In addition to being in really good health for an almost 11-year-old giant breed dog, she has lost 4 pounds.  She has a super sniffer and has found treats and food that I didn’t even know were left out, but I now sweep the area before I leave a room so that all temptation is removed and she has gotten her slim figure back.  Annie’s a tough, old girl. She’s a survivor and she seems to be sending me the signal that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.  And that is just fine with me!IMG_0236

 

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?”