To: Shiloh the Miniature Schnauzer

Oh, sweet girl… it’s been over 2 months since I said goodbye to you, and the pain of making that decision has been so hard.  I know it was the best for you, me, and your ‘sister’ Shelby.   But I do miss you. I’m always going to care about you.  And, I’m glad you got a forever family so quickly.  I know it was the best decision, but that doesn’t mean it was (or is) easy, by a long shot.  I. Miss. You.  But, you need more than I have to give, and that hurts to know that my body will get worse, and you got stuck in the middle of it all. I tried to get help, and was blown off.

Imagine my surprise when I was looking through Facebook for any entries about someone getting a new miniature schnauzer, hoping to see a photo of you.  And then I find your ‘mug shot’ for being missing during the hottest days of the year, and being missing for 3 nights.  That could have easily happened when you lived here, as you’d find any excuse to go for an unauthorized field trip.  I’ve fished you out of bushes, twice retrieved you from the kennel of neighbors whose back yard backs up to the house two doors away, and the time the nice grocery delivery lady got you headed back towards the house.   With degenerative hips, knees, shoulders, and spine, it was so hard for me to get you before you got yourself in trouble.  You were found miles from your new home, and were running scared at night when you were spotted.  I’m just so thankful that you were found safe, and unharmed.  And that your new family knew where to post your info so you’d be found.

I still cry when I think of you being gone, but I know the family you went to was needing a fur-baby.  There are no totaled bed to changes for me to recover from  (takes me 2 days to plan for changing the sheets on a good day), no worrying about you getting loose here, Shelby is calmer (though she did seem to wonder where you went.  But love doesn’t get shut off on my end just because you’re gone from here.

I’ll never regret getting you– just putting you through the confusion of leaving the home you knew, another month at the kennel where they observed you (and evidently cured your poop regurgitation -not puking- but spewing with no warning)- wish I’d been let in on that little trick before I had to hand you over- I asked anybody I could for help with that), and then being with your new family for only a week before you took off.  I’m sure they were terrified.  It was over a month ago, and I cry thinking about you being alone and scared in the dark.  The heat was terrible those 3 days you were missing, and I’m guessing that’s why you moved around at night.  You were used to 66 degrees year round.

Shiloh, it’s OK to be happy at your new house !  I want you to be happy- they love you and want you so much (as I did).  They didn’t care that you weren’t a baby.  I’m not sure they got all of the info on why you were sent back (some of  it was about my body falling apart, which wouldn’t have been an issue if the regurgitation of poop hadn’t made frequent bed changes necessary, different poop eating deterrents, many types of foods, behavioralist help, no help from the vet who you saw here, etc.).   I really did all I could to keep you.  I knew it would be hard to give you away- you were one of three who lived in this house…and your absence is felt. Half of my family is now gone without you; losing dad in 2016 was hard enough.  I wasn’t sure I expected to still be crying almost daily. I’d been doing fairly well until I saw the mugshot.   I’m just so glad you’re safe.    They love you, Shiloh- let them love you.  Don’t run off.  Go to them when they call you.  Learn what they want to teach you.  Be your usual goofy, happy self.   Throw your toys in the air and wonder where they went.  Run around and slide on the floor.  Snuggle with your new family.  You look good !  Your eyes are bright, ears up- be the sweet, funny girl you always have been.  You don’t need to be afraid. I wrote to your new family on Facebook, and they adore you.

I’m gutted, as I knew I would be.  But it was the only logical thing I could do for all of us.  It wasn’t lack of love, but the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and I’ve had a life of lousy situations to survive.  But it was never lack of love. I’m the only one who had  a choice in this, and that is so unfair to you, even if you are a dog.  I’m so sorry.  But please, let your new people love you.

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    Letter I wrote for your new family, though I’m not sure the kennel gave it to them (from what I’ve heard, you’re not like this as much anymore ):To Whoever Becomes Shiloh’s new family,                      June 12, 2019

Shiloh has been with me since she was 8 weeks old- and was VERY wanted. She will always be loved by me (and her big “sister”, another schnauzer).  This has been an agonizing decision.  The ONLY reason I’m sending her back is because of a change in my health, and inability to manage a particular behavior (more details later).  Ideally, she’ll be with someone who is home most of the time (I’m rarely away from home). She does “scream” if she’s feeling alone.  But she’s also full of kisses and tail wags when I came back in the door- even if I was only gone long enough to take the trash to the street on pick-up day.   She’s my 5th miniature schnauzer.  Shiloh will be 2 years old on July 8, 2019.

Shiloh has always been very friendly (that’s how she landed with me- she wouldn’t let any other puppies get near me when I was choosing !!), curious, and wants to please, though there are times when she needs extra patience to catch on to some things.  There isn’t a mean bone in her, and she is very eager to check out new people.  She’s never been around kids, but I haven’t seen anything about her that would give me pause to introduce her to children.  She loves to snuggle, and will spend as much time as you allow being on your foot, lap, or lying next to you in bed.  She plays well with my older dog.

She also loves to fetch her toys- but don’t let her have any type of edible toy (rawhides, antlers, chew sticks, rope toys, or stuffed animals) without supervision.  (Her sister broke a tooth on an elk antler, requiring surgical removal).   Shiloh has jaws of steel and can go through half of a foot long compressed rawhide in an hour- eating it as she goes, and always supervised. She has decimated a lot of toys- but never hurt my stuff after a right foot slipper when she was very little. She will sneak off with things without hurting them (socks and slippers are favorites).  If you simply ask “Is this yours?”, she’ll slick her ears back, and look pitiful.

It breaks my heart to not know where she’s going to end up.  If I had known that my body was going to break down like this, I never would have gotten Shiloh, and put HER in this position.  We are bonded. She is bonded to my older dog.  She loves the groomer and the new vet- but she wants me when all is said and done- and I’m sure that she’ll adapt to a new person, but for me it’s like ditching a kid, when fur-kids are all I have. I have so much guilt, but didn’t have any help in figuring out how to help her.  But I know that one more full bed change could take out one of my shoulders for good.  I have to plan linen and laundry. I can’t lose my shoulders when I’m told I’m going to need a wheelchair. I tried to get help with her regurgitation issue, and it seems nobody wanted to help me find out if there was a physical reason for what was going on. She was stunned when it happened – no typical dog wrenching noise, just a huge pool of fecal contents. Then she’d look like she was bad- and it was never her fault.

Shiloh is paper-trained (I put a crate tray on the floor and put pads on that, so there’s a ‘buffer’  to avoid leaks). She always has access to her pee pads, but I do take her to them at various times to be sure the ‘tank is empty’ after meals and before bed.   She’s  been very good about going on the pads for a long time.  She will need to learn to go outside if you expect her to do that.  But it sure is nice to know she has a place to go 24/7, in any weather- or for any MD appointment I might have.  I get the human underpads 30 x 36”  by the case from Walmart or Amazon- much cheaper than dog pads or individual bags- and hold more than one pee.  I do NOT recommend small metal crate training with Shiloh because of the regurgitation. Everything would be a mess.  A contained area that is easily cleaned would be ideal if she can’t be within site at all times.  She’s had a plastic baby ‘pen’ that configures into a hexagon or rectangle around the pee pad tray for training purposes.  It’s bigger than a regular crate, but much easier to clean, and less likely for her to jump around and get messy. She does climb, so needs supervision in the pen. 

Shiloh is a poop eater, but also regurgitates food- not just vomits. There is no warning.I’ve tried various products to make her poo taste bad to her, but none have been all that great.The only thing that works the best (and isn’t %100 foolproof- but probably %95) is to supervise her pooping, and clean up immediately (even if you take her to the yard). She will eat poop and spew it back up- at least a foot away from her (that’s where my degenerative shoulders and hips make it extremely painful to manage linen and laundry, causing pain for days).It’s not her fault. She’s not doing it on purpose. She wants to please, and she doesn’t understand the connection between eating the poo and spewing it. She also doesn’t have the ‘dog gag’ sound to warn you- she just spews. I’ve done what the kennel owners, and dog trainers have suggested, and she still eats poop at times when she can sneak it. This is her “special needs” situation. She needs someone who is able to be there a lot.There are times when she’s fine, and poops without eating it or spewing- but then there are the times when she is like a poopy garden hose.

With my physical limitations, I’m in severe pain all of the time, and  for the 2-4 days after a full linen change and laundry when she does eat enough poo to regurgitate, I’m in hell.  Her vet refused to look for any physical causes, but the kennel owners were able to help her- which makes it all the more heartbreaking. They cared enough to help me help her…but at the cost of having to sign her back over to them..  For someone with a working body, it might not be any big deal.  I also keep a waterproof pad and some blankets on her side of the bed.  But she ‘misses’ sometimes.  Again- NOT HER FAULT.  If I lose my shoulders, I lose independence. 

I take her to her pads after meals and before bed and tell her to ‘go potty’ (pee), and then she sleeps in her “house” (carrier) on my bed.  If she needs to pee at night, she’ll whimper or scratch the carrier to wake me up, and I take her to her pads, wait until she’s done- then back to the carrier until it’s time to get up.  If she whines again, she likely needs to poop.  She can be sneaky, and go get a turd- where you’ll see a ‘poo track’ on the pads with no poo to go with it.  If that happens later at night, I do NOT have her sleep in her carrier, in case she regurgitates; she’d be covered in it- and that’s not fair to her, besides being a mess.  She is content to sleep in another room particularly if there’s a baby gate so she can see her person.  I have a dog bed for her by the baby gate.  Her “house” will also do. I’m sending some pads for peeing, some for covering furniture, and lightweight waterproof massage table covers that are good for chairs. 

After meals (twice a day), I put her in the  “house” for 30-40 minutes – or until she indicates that she’s antsy, and take her to the pads and tell her to “hurry poop”.  When doing this at a new place, she’ll likely need her leash on to make it easier to keep her focused.  She is a bit ADHD when it comes to maintaining her attention- she sees 100 things she’s interested in, all at the same time.  But she’s not quite 2 yet.  My others did the same thing at that age, and chilled over time.

Shiloh is a ‘greedy eater’.  She inhales food, and has ‘puzzle bowls’ to slow her down, or she throws up (I’m sending several bowls, as she figures them out).  She also loves ice cubes.  I tried freeze dried green beans for a low cal treat, and she sends them back whole, intact but rehydrated.   She’s been eating Blue Buffalo Basics, Turkey and Potato Grain Free DRY dog food (per the kennel recommendations).  I gave her something with corn in it and she treated it like movie snacks- after she’d pooped it. She’s been on other dog foods, and this one does give her turds a more formed texture.  I’m sending a container of the Blue Buffalo- there’s more than enough to transition to another food if you prefer- but watch out for any stuff with corn.   She also loves frozen pumpkin puree.  Either drops on some parchment, or a very small ice cube tray work great.  A teaspoon per meal is sufficient if you choose to give it to her.  Pineapple was suggested, and it does seem to help a bit- but she doesn’t chew well (if at all) if she really likes something (and then barfs up the whole pieces) , so I puree the pineapple and freeze it in a candy bar mold that has segments that I cut and put in a zip bag in the freezer- she loves anything frozen. Greek yogurt ‘cubes’ are also a hit.  The Turkey Blue Buffalo, pineapple, pumpkin, and Greek yogurt were the info from the kennel when I asked them about possible solutions- I did NOT want to let her go. I asked her vet about doing some health checks for reasons she  might be regurgitating and I was essentially dismissed for even suggesting it. I no longer take either dog there.

I’m sending her pajamas- in the winter, she gets cold, especially after being groomed- she acts like she’s being tortured, but the shivering stops. (She can be  quite the drama diva).  They are also a bit like a loose Thunder Shirt in calming her down if she’s on a wild-woman energy burst that goes on for a considerable time.  The PJs relax her.  I’m also sending toys, a blanket, her carrier, and a couple of pairs of socks with my scent on them.  Her nickname is “Lo-lo”.   She knows “kitchen”, “cookie”, “go potty”, “hurry poop”, “good  girl”,  “sit” (though that kind of depends on how much she wants what she wants at the time), “check the door”, “I’m coming back” (won’t follow me to the bathroom), and a few more I’m blanking on (I’m crying my eyes out writing this). “Stay” is ADHD dependent- don’t count on it.   She thrives on “good girl”, and eagerly soaks up the ear scratches and verbal praise.  She’s very sensitive to tone of voice.

She rides well in the car, and I’ve included her seatbelt adapter that attaches to a HARNESS (never just  her collar). She’s not perfect on a leash, but has been doing better.  She’s practiced in the house and trips to the groomer or vet. I’m keeping her collar- I want something of hers to keep.  She’s used to the Puppia brand.

If she’s freaked out by something (fireworks, thunder, etc), she finds comfort snuggling on my shoulder, sucking my earlobe.  It’s a little slobbery, but she calms down.  Usually, she just looks to see how I react to something, and then chills out if I’m not bothered.  She’s done that since I got her.   If she feels ‘alone’ she screams… not howls, not barking, not crying.  Once she sees her person, she’s fine. Until then, it sounds like  someone is trying to kill her.  There have been some Academy Award worthy performances.  Scared the snot out of me first time she did it.

She will run if she gets outside- and doesn’t stop until she finds something in the neighborhood to investigate.  I can’t chase her (it’s more of a hobbling walk).  I haven’t given her time to come home on her own, as she is SO friendly that she’d let Jack the Ripper in the house, and ask what kind of knife he prefers.  She could be dog-napped very easily.  Or run over, as she’d never stop for traffic.

Shiloh has some skin allergies that didn’t get any better with Benadryl or a prescription antihistamine from the vet.  I use chlorohexidine wipes (available for dogs) if she starts licking a lot.  She has a couple of ‘lick’ areas on each side where the hair has fallen out- but it’s already grown back a lot.  That’s not unheard of in schnauzers.  She loves butt scratches right above her tail on her lower spine, and any ear and neck scratching as well.  Most of the time, the allergy doesn’t seem to bother her.  They’ve cleared up quite a bit with some dog CBD treats- sending a bag of those as well.  One a day is fine. They are low dose, and have NO  THC, so psychoactive effects. 

Even with her quirks, she is such a sweet girl.  She loves everybody.  That makes her a lousy guard dog (though she is good about alerting to vague things, and has been growling a bit more at the door, and not just people on TV), but an amazing companion. She does things that are just funny (usually with her toys- flinging them all over, and then wondering where they went, etc).  She has very little discrimination with edible things- and will snarf something up without chewing or ‘testing’ it.  If you have any type of things that are toxic to dogs (cigarettes, medications, foods dogs can’t have, etc), I’ve found it much easier to put up a baby gate while I handle anything that could hurt her, until I’m done. When she’s pooped after meals, she is loose in the house, so she can run around.  She loves stairs, and sliding across hard floors.  She’s been OK for a couple of hours home alone (loose) if the other dog had a vet appointment.

It’s impossible to convey how gutted I am about having to have Shiloh rehomed.  My intent was, as it’s been with the other four dogs I’ve owned over the years, to be a forever home.  I’m struggling with feeling like I’m failing her, and treating her as if she’s disposable. My dogs are my family. They get things they need before I do.  I want the best for her, and without help figuring out how to help her, I don’t think it’s me, no matter how much I love her.  A huge piece of my heart goes with her.  IF my shoulder goes out completely, my independence is shot- and then she’d need someone else anyway to manage the mess of the regurgitation.  I’ll remember her every July 8th.  And likely a lot more often than that.  She’s one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever owned- and it’s been a  privilege to have such a joyful little being in my home.  

I will deeply miss Shiloh.  
Tearfully,
Shiloh’s First 21 month person
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This was her life before I had to hand her over to the kennel.  I know there have been changes, and if that’s for the best, then I hope she’s doing well adjusting to the changes. 

And Shiloh, you will always have a piece of my heart.  Let your new family have yours.