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Good Dog, Bad Day

There are still more good days than bad. There are even some real great days– but nothing makes me sad like when Cash is having a bad day.

IMG_1367At 12 and 1/2, Cash is still mighty healthy for a Boxer, his age. Of course, he’s not as active as he once was- he’s slimmed down and sleeps more than he’s awake. Yet, true to the breed, he still has those ‘puppy moments’ that never cease to make me smile.

Some days his legs don’t work so good. When Belle, our 1 year old Boxer, is overly playful; I sometimes have to play go-between. Even when Cash is in the mood to play, it’s still really easy for Belle to knock him on his butt. I don’t know what’s going through his head but he seems surprised, even a little embarrassed when it happens.

Sunday, 10/11/15 – Today was a good day. Yesterday felt like a really bad one. Cash had four pretty severe attacks of “reverse-sneezing” that I witnessed. There may have been more. At least I know now what it is. Knowing it’s not life-threatening doesn’t make the experience any easier. Especially when he’s gasping for breath, looking in your eyes. It’s heart-wrenching.

Just Breathe. A reverse sneeze isn’t actually that at all. I’m not sure how that term came about; but I can assure you that if you haven’t experienced it, witnessing it is far worse than is sounds. The medical term is paroxysmal respiration. When this happens, it is your dog trying to rapidly pull air into his nose. It sounds like something might be caught in his nose or throat and he’ll usually extend his neck and all his focus goes into trying to breath.

In everything I’ve read, doctors aren’t sure what the root cause is; but they suspect it could be allergy related and there is no treatment. These attacks also cause no ill or long term effects. Most often they can be brought on by stress or excitement or can happen when eating or drinking. These episodes can last from a few seconds up to a minute. Dogs act perfectly normal before and after it occurs.

The first couple times Cash had one of these attacks, I was afraid I was on the verge of losing him. It literally sounds like he’s choking or being strangled; wheezing and gasping for air.

I learned the best thing you can do is to keep your dog calm and gently rub his throat or briefly cover his nose to encourage him to swallow. This helps open the air passage and allows normal breathing to return.

IMG_0200Tired Legs. A couple weeks ago, while Belle and Dudley were away on a play day, Cash was having a weaker moment. I could see his legs were a little more stiff than usual but he was still managing to get around just fine. We went out side for awhile and when it came time to go back in, he just froze on the steps. Legs trembling, he stood there staring at me– waiting. So I scooped him up, all 80 plus pounds of him and carried him inside; for which he seemed grateful. A couple hours later, he was doing the stairs again like a champ.

I don’t pretend or assume I know what he’s feeling and I try not to act overly concerned– but I am. It’s funny, sometimes– trying to hide your feelings from your dog. But he knows. Most people don’t realize just how synced their pets are to their emotions.

Just like with people, there are good days and bad days. Aging is difficult for us all. The most important thing is to cherish every moment.

Wednesday, 10/14/15 – 4 am- Three days have gone by without another serious attack. For that I’m grateful. Hoping today will be another good day. My boy deserves it.

 

All Dogs Go To Kevin : A Book Review

When I woke up this morning, taking my cup of coffee and Kindle outside, I had hoped to spend a few quiet few hours reading before Michael and the kids (our pups) got up. I didn’t expect to finish, teary-eyed and even bawling through passages of the final few chapters.

A good book, whether fiction or non, takes you on a journey. Perhaps somewhere familiar or on some new adventure. If you’re lucky, besides a good read, you might learn something along the way.

I got a complimentary ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of All Dogs Go To Kevin by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang through the NetGalley website. It’s official publication date is July 14, 2015. As a dog owner/lover, I thought I’d give it a shot.

cover60149-mediumThe brief description from the publisher: ALL DOGS GO TO KEVIN is a humorous and touching portrait of a veterinarian, her beloved dogs, and the lessons they impart to her along the way.

The NetGalley description goes on with, “You can’t always count on people, but you can always count on your dog. No one knows that better than veterinarian Jessica Vogelsang, who with the help of three dogs, is buoyed through adolescence, veterinary school, and the early years of motherhood. Taffy, the fearsome Lhasa; Emmett, an amiable Golden; and Kekoa, the neurotic senior Labrador, are always by her side, offering lessons in empathy and understanding for all the oddballs and misfits who come through the vet clinic doors. Also beside her is Kevin, a human friend who lives with the joie de vivre most people only dream of having. But when tragedy strikes, Jessica is reminded that the animals we love give more than they take.”

This isn’t an owners’ manual or a how to book, but rather a beautiful memoir of sorts, of Doctor Vogelsang’s (Dr. V) personal journey to becoming a caring Veterinarian, mother and guardian of some wonderful dogs. There are some wonderful takeaways in this book that are inherently present. 1) All dogs are not created equal. 2) All vets are not created equal; and there is an important partnership between owner and caregiver that should be present to maximize a pet’s quality of life. 3) The pain and heartbreak of losing a pet can never outweigh the rewards of loving one.

A year and a half later, I’m still grieving the loss of Roxie. Not an all-consumed, depressing loss– but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think or her and miss her wet kisses. And more so, I worry about her brother Cash; who at 12 years old, has good days and bad days and many in between.

It was impossible not to directly connect with many of the humorous and touching moments of Dr. V’s experiences. Her empathy and humanity will enrapt you in an enormous bear hug and not let you go.

According to the author’s bio, “Dr. Vogelsang discovered a passion for working with pets and families in the end-stages of life, and now practices full time with Paws into Grace providing hospice care to dogs and cats.”

So why the title, All Dogs Go To Kevin? I don’t like spoilers, so you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

I highly recommend this book to pet owners, pet lovers and anyone even considering adding a furry friend to their family. It will serve as a great comfort and resource when building a life with a four-legged companion.

All Dogs Go To Kevin

by Doctor Jessica Vogelsang

Publication date: July 14, 2015

Grand Central Publishing

Available in Hardcover, Kindle, Audible and Audio CD. Purchase on Amazon by clicking here.

Remembering Roxie: One Year Later

Roxie loved laying outside on the cool concrete. (2005)

Roxie loved lying outside on the cool concrete. (2005)

Roxie the Hunter. (2003)

Roxie the Hunter. (2003)

One year gone.  I can’t even begin to recount the many ways I miss her. She’s been in my head constantly this past week. I celebrate her daily. She was one of the greatest gifts in my life.

Even as a puppy, Roxie had the most expressive eyes. There’s truth in the saying, the eyes are the window to the soul. Her eyes were always full of love, mischief and wonder.

January 11, 2014Michael left for work and I’m sitting here in silence feeling numb but thankful. It’s been three days.

My boys are curled up, Collins in the crook of my arm, eyes half closed– purring. Cash is snuggled against me with his head in my lap. I think he slept like I did last night, tossing and turning. The slightest sound and he’d raise his head– looking for her.

Laying on Cash, Snuggling as usual. (2006)

Roxie on Cash, Snuggling as usual. (2006)

Roxie and Cash were brother and sister from the same litter. Roxie was the runt of the litter which might have contributed to a number of her health issues over the years. She was always much smaller than Cash and never really had the traditional Boxer’s physique.

Roxie was the hunter. If there was a critter in the yard– she’d find it. Roxie would track them down and alert Cash, who would go in for the attack.

This was particularly troublesome with skunks. Roxie usually found them– but Cash always got the worst of the spray.

Roxie was the one who found and rescued Cozette, as a newborn kitten, in our backyard.

I also think she instigated most of the duos adventures, getting them into trouble. She was just better at not getting caught.

Roxie and Cash play-fighting in the snow.

Roxie and Cash play-fighting in the snow. (2004)

Roxie loved the snow. She loved to run and play in it; and of course, eat it.

She loved to eat! She was always hungry– Furniture, toys, books, Christmas ornaments, pillows, sticks…. it was all a buffet to her.

 

September 17, 2014A stuffed monkey head. What’s the big deal? It’s just a chewed up monke– Scratch that. Her monkey head. I found myself going through the toy box cleaning it up, time to throw out some of the old. worn out toys. Another step in letting go.

Roxie, May 2013.

Roxie, May 2013.

As time passes I see her so differently in my head. The image of her spirit and soul take over and blur my memory. I see the younger, more vibrant Roxie. I see her love and affection. My mind has started to erase her frailties. It’s startling to see pictures of her from her last few months. It’s not the way I remember her.

December 18, 2014That moment when you’re decorating and you go to hang an ornament… And it spins around and you see where Roxie chewed it, her last Christmas and the waterfall starts and doesn’t want to stop. ‪#‎loveneverdies‬

No matter what the challenge– even after she was diagnosed with diabetes insipidus, she was always happy and affectionate. Though her body started to age rapidly, she remained a spirited puppy at heart.

Today, in remembrance, I want to put the grief aside and celebrate the pure joy she brought to our lives. I’m remembering her playful mischief. I’m smiling, remembering her crazy excitement, twisting her body– doing her kidney bean dance, whenever we’d come home. I’m thinking about hours of warm snuggles and wet sloppy kisses. My sweet, sweet, angel- baby girl.

Roxie, November 2013.

Roxie, November 2013.

Napping with a much younger Roxie, 2003.

Napping with a much younger Roxie, 2003.

Belle: Introducing Our New Addition

IMG_7760Friday, September 12th, we adopted a beautiful, eight week old, female AKC Boxer, we named Belle, into our family. Our first vet visit went extremely well and our 12.2 pound baby girl was fit as a fiddle. In three weeks she was already up to 17 pounds.

A typical Cash & Belle snuggle moment.

A typical Cash & Belle snuggle moment.

After a lot of thought and research, we finally felt it was time to find Cash a new companion… A decision we’ll never regret. Belle has lit a new fire in Cash as he finds his second puppyhood. It’s pretty amazing to watch the two of them together. With Cash at 11 1/2 years old, we weren’t sure how he’d adapt. For the most part, it’s been the best thing we could have done for him. We make sure he gets his share of attention and slowly introduce changes but for the most part we are keeping his routine the same as it’s been. The most notable, positive change is that he sleeps a whole lot less and Belle makes sure he’s getting a lot more exercise.

Now, it’s been a little over a month of joy and challenges getting used to our newest family member. Crate training and potty training are both going well. She responds to her name, fetches, is starting to sit for treats and loves to explore the yard. If we could only curb her fondness for pulling down all the pillows from the furniture, we’d be set.

Belle loves her big brother, Cash and is trying desperately to make friends with Collins (our cat) but that’s taking more time. Collins is suddenly more needy and has no trouble expressing his jealousy and annoyance if he’s not getting all the attention he thinks he deserves.

I’ve been so busy with Belle, it’s taken me this long to finally get a moment to post these pictures of her. I try to keep my camera close because she’s growing so fast. Here’s a selection of pictures from our first meeting to the present.

My first meeting with Belle.

My first meeting with Belle.

Cash and Belle's first meeting.

Cash and Belle’s first meeting.

Nap Time.

Nap Time.

IMG_7605 - Version 2

A budding friendship.

Belle, AKC female Boxer at 8 weeks.

Belle, AKC female Boxer at 8 weeks.

Who could resist that face?

Who could resist that face?

Someone To Watch Over Me. Cash & Belle.

Someone To Watch Over Me. Cash & Belle.

Just a little stair crazy.

Just a little stair crazy.

Belle

Belle

Looking for her brother.

Looking for her brother.

Belle the Explorer.

Belle the Explorer.

Cash & Belle: Best Friends.

Cash & Belle: Best Friends.