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.

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.   Maybe it was just supposed to be this way- that I kept you safe until they needed you.  I know it’s safer for me- no constant fear of falling with you darting under my feet and legs, no totaled bed to change 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 for about 30 seconds- I think you might both need to be the only dog in a home), and you have someone who can be more active and do more with you.   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 eating- 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 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, 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 (and it was mostly about my body falling apart, which wouldn’t have been an issue if the regurgitation of poop you ate hadn’t made frequent bed changes, different poop eating deterrents, many types of foods, behavioralist help, not much help from the vet who you saw here, etc. necessary).   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.   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.  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’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. You needed more. I needed less. 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.

  • * * * * * * * * *
    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 detail 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. 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 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.  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. 

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’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 coprophagia (see below) and vomiting. 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. 

Shiloh is a poop eater (coprophagia).  She’s done it since she was little, and it’s actually VERY common with dogs (goes back to hiding their scent from predators).  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 throw it up (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 getting sick. She also doesn’t have the ‘dog gag’ sound to warn you- she just spews.  I’ve done what the vet, 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- but then there are the times when she barfs up the poop.  I’m sending some remedies that have been marginally effective for short periods of time- the behavior modification has been the most useful.  I can’t stand as long as she sometimes needs. 

With my physical limitations, I’m impacted for 2-4 days after a full linen change and laundry when she does eat enough poo to throw up (and it’s a lot sometimes- not just a spot here or there).  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 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 throws up; 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 eats them whole, then barfs them up 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, 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 eating poop and she basically dismissed me. 

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) – so that is another reason (for her safety) that she needs someone more mobile.  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 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 want the best for her, and I don’t think it’s me, no matter how much I love her.  A 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.  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 met- 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  
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
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.

 

 

The Lull in Posts Over the Past Year

It’s certainly not for lack of material.  Or being too busy (well, having a new puppy has been interesting over this last 11+ months).  In many ways, it’s because I have too much rattling around in my brain, and trying to figure out what to write about (in a coherent fashion) has been more of a problem.

The last year has been wild.  In January of 2013, I was grieving the loss of my beloved Mandy- the miniature schnauzer I’d had since the summer of 2001.  She was my heart, my life, and my only consistent companion.  I knew the day would come, but it’s never easy.   I was really alone for a couple of months, and it hurt.  As in ‘boohoo’ type crying on and off for weeks.

Mandy Bluebonnet Tumbleweed Mar. 28, 2001- Dec. 27, 2012 This was her last photo… ever.

Mandy Bluebonnet Tumbleweed
Mar. 28, 2001- Dec. 27, 2012
This was her last photo… ever.

Then, I got my new miniature schnauzer puppy at the end of February.  She was a day short of 9 weeks old when I brought her home.  She wouldn’t get near me in her crate on the car seat until about 2 hours into the 2.5 hour drive home from where she was born (longest drive I’ve made in over 10 years, and my left knee still hurts).  Then she scooted to the wire door, and at least was close enough to see… she was so cute !  And the games began !!  She was  a crazy little thing, after being seen as the ‘shy, reserved little girl’ in the litter of three pups, two of which were males.   She got over that in a hurry !!  Just NUTS !!  But not a mean bone in her- she was just active, and always on the go.  It took quite a while for her to listen to my commands- which wasn’t about ‘dominating’ her, but making sure she was safe.  I had to get a shock collar, which broke my heart- but the little zap (about the same as when you rub your socks together on the carpet and touch someone, or something) was enough to catch her attention.  Now, I just have to ask her if she needs her collar. 😮

Shelby in one  of her toy bins :)  About 9 weeks old.

Shelby in one of her toy bins 🙂 About 9 weeks old.

Just a happy puppy kind of day !   Shelby- 4 months.  Silly girl !!

Just a happy puppy kind of day ! Shelby- 4 months.
Silly girl !!

Growing up !  About 10 months old in this photo…

Growing up ! About 9 months old in this photo…

Now, she is still active, and very much a young dog, but is such a sweetheart, and really understands a lot of what I tell her.  “Stay” needs some work, but otherwise, she knows the difference between the types of her toys, different rooms, and when she is NOT supposed to bark or whine at someone outside – I mean seriously, the mailman doesn’t require daily announcing !

My biological mom visited a couple of times, and it’s always great to see her 🙂   I’ve thought more and more about ‘biological bonds’ and how that never is severed by adoption- if anything it’s more intense.  Having my biological mom in my life has been such an amazing gift.  That’s something for a few blog posts.  My biological paternal uncle also visited- the first time I’ve met someone from my biological dad’s side of the family.  That was great !   I honestly enjoy both of them (as well as others I’ve met through my biological family tree- that is more like a group of trees).  Neat, really nice people.

This summer, my cousin was diagnosed with cancer.  It’s a tough kind of cancer, and she hasn’t  ever been really sick before, which makes all of the procedures, sensations, and inability to just do what she sets her mind out to do that much more difficult.   She has had so many side effects and complications- it’s been so hard for her (as it would be for anybody).  Since I’m the family ‘go-to’ for deciphering medical information, we talked and e-mailed a lot.  We still do.  I’m glad to be of some use to her (and other family members who know I’ve been an RN for nearly 29 years, even if I’m now disabled- which has increased my knowledge about a  lot of the little things with my own personal medical journey- it helps me find some ‘good’ in the bad I’ve been through).  She is SO strong mentally, and has such an amazing support system with friends and co-workers.  I told her how in awe I am, since the people around here (co-workers) dropped me like a hot rock when I had to leave work in 2004.  She is blessed with an employer who still sees what she can do, and co-workers who are really there for her.  It’s amazing how well she’s doing in such a truly lousy situation.

Last (early) summer, I started on a weight-loss plan, and did lose 35 pounds that have stayed off- but I had to stop the Nutrisystem products for the artificial sweeteners.  I had about 3 solid months of migraines… no days off. I might have some time during the day when my head didn’t hurt, but there were no days with no head pain (I’m never free of muscle pain, and that’s been for the last 19 years).  SO, I had to give in and start taking daily pain meds along with some ‘as needed’ migraine meds.  I’ve been avoiding regularly scheduled pain meds for years.  But, my quality of life is going down the tubes.  With the pain meds, I’m now able to do more around the apartment in short spurts, which has been good- though I’m in no way able to do ‘normal’ amounts of housework.

The dysautonomia is also getting considerably worse- so any activity has become incredibly painful and leads to problems with my heat intolerance, blood pressure and heart rate.  The chemo I was on for leukemia from early 2010 through the latter parts of 2011  is known to cause peripheral neuropathy (as are many types of chemo)- so with an already existent neuropathy, it makes sense that it doesn’t do it any favors.  The heat intolerance is much worse, and even though the ice vest helps considerably, I have the air conditioner on when it’s  less than 20 degrees outside because I’m over-heated inside, if I do any sort of activity that causes my internal thermostat to go whacky.  It’s miserable.

My thighs have begun to shrink.  As in visibly smaller, and not in the good way from weight loss, but in an abnormal way.  SO I had to have an EMG (electromyelogram).  That showed more neuropathy.  I was sent to physical therapy (PT) for exercises- which will be an ongoing thing to avoid ending up needing a walker (at best) or wheelchair (at worst) for just getting around my apartment.  That is scary.  Since last spring (or maybe before then- the time gets away from me), a childhood friend of mine has been volunteering to help me get my apartment straightened out and drag stuff off to the thrift store at one of the churches here.  That has been SUCH incredible help.  She will also go to the grocery store if I need something picked up, and we’ve made a sort of contingency plan if I can’t do much at the store  at all, where I ride the scooter and she pushes a cart.  My guess is that we’d spend a fair amount of time laughing with that arrangement, but it’s so nice to know she’s around.   Another junior/senior high school friend has also moved back to this area recently, and has also offered to help out – so I really do feel blessed to have two people (and my dad) who I trust, that are willing to help me out.   There are days when I feel like that’s the only way I’m going to be able to live outside of some type of facility- and having no longterm care insurance, I would have to go to some state run ‘pit’.

Last week, I went to the store for my monthly fresh food/dairy stuff.  I had my ice vest on, and when I got home, I was still in trouble.  I had to drag out my ‘arsenal’ of thigh squeezes, leaning over the counter, etc. to keep from passing out.  I am so thankful for days when nothing is so bad as to need some sort of quick ‘first aid’ maneuvers to stay conscious.  Or headaches that are bad enough to land me in bed.  Or muscle pain that causes me to be essentially immobile.   I’m getting more and more thankful for days that other people would consider to be very boring- but keep me from having to contact one of my doctors.

The first week and a half of January is rough every year because of two very painful anniversaries… the January 7, 1978 murders of my figure skating coach’s six children (by her husband)- and wondering how she has been all of these years. I miss her, even now.   And, the January 10, 1987  six-hour rape I went through by the uncle of a baby I took care of up to six days a week for about 6 months (back when 6 months of my life was a much bigger portion of my overall existence).

I’m not sure anybody ever ‘gets over’ things like either of those.  While I wasn’t physically hurt by the murders, it was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever been through, and at age 14, I was miserably unprepared for how to ‘get through’ something so horrific. I knew the older girl a bit from the rink- which made it all hit so much closer to home.  She was a year younger than I was… and it was all so impossible to understand.  I was 23 at the time of the rape- and while I managed to keep myself alive, it was also something beyond my level of coping skills emotionally.  There isn’t a year that has gone by, or even a day or week since either of those events that I haven’t thought about the overall impact they have had in my life- and wondering how my skating coach has been.  Every few years, I have to deal with parole protest letters for the guy who raped me.  I’ve written other blogs about both of those.

So, I’ve had plenty to write about.  But sometimes, it’s just too much to try and put thought to writing.  Many things are rattling around in my thick skull… and writing about them does help me.  I feel ‘heard’ – even if the majority of things I write about won’t be seen by people I know- it still helps that ‘someone’ out there will have seen what I have to say.   Thank you for stopping by to ‘hear’ me.

*Ann, if you are out there… please comment.  I see a lot of people who look up information about that day.  If you are one of them – or know how she is… please let me know 🙂

 

 

Shelby the Miniature Schnauzer Puppy

I’ve been sort of scarce on WordPress in the last several months because of a new furkid I got at the end of February.  Shelby is a miniature schnauzer puppy, who is 6 1/2 months old now.  She’s becoming more lovable and showing a very sweet and good-natured personality. But during her 4th-5th month, I thought I’d kill her. She was teething and listened to NOTHING I said- so training her for basic safety things (like “no” and “come”) were out the window. I finally had to get a shock collar for her, which broke my heart, but she caught on in a hurry with just the vibrate mode- I ended up having to use the actual ‘shock’ very few times (and tested it on my fingers- it’s like static electricity after walking on carpet in socks and touching something conductive).  She hardly wears it any more.

A couple of weeks ago, she got spayed.  When I picked her up, she looked stoned.  Totally blotto.  That was probably good.  She got pain meds for four days, and did very well. I took her to get her stitches out earlier this week, and she was perfect. I held her down, and she didn’t move at all.

Night she got spayed... lying low and looking stoned.

Night she got spayed… lying low and looking stoned.

After her last haircut, she would shiver (I have to keep my apartment at about 66 degrees to avoid passing out).  So, I had to get her some sweaters and a hoodie.  I just got a ‘polo’ shirt for her, as it’s not as heavy (it’s been in the 90s this week, with heat indexes in the low 100s…. granted she’s inside, but still…). I never thought I’d be one of ‘those people’ who got clothing for their dog.  I get her functional stuff- nothing just for decorative purposes.

Worn out after getting groomed- but they said she was a good girl !

Worn out after getting groomed- but they said she was a good girl !

Shelby's hoodie !

Shelby’s hoodie !

New 'polo' shirt !

New ‘polo’ shirt !

Socks- for those sharp little nails... she hates them :(

Socks- for those sharp little nails… she hates them !

She has become a great little companion, though still a baby.  Her teething seems to be ‘done’.  She spit out 12 of her baby teeth, which I’ve got in a transparent gemstone jar.  She’s smart, and is trying to learn commands (she’s really good at ‘sit’ and ‘no barking’).  I can see spending many great years with her…which is good- for a while, I wanted to trade her in for a dead goldfish 😮

 

 

 

 

Being a New Fur-Mom

Shelby has been home for a month now, and today was literally the first day she was willing to sleep on her chair, and not on me, or next to my feet.  She’s growing like crazy, and is showing more and more personality each day.  It’s wonderful having such a bundle of energy around, but I’m exhausted. 🙂    I still miss Mandy, but the pain of losing her has definitely lessened with the fun of watching this new little being learning how this world works.

I was told that Shelby was the ‘reserved, shy’ little female in a litter of 3 puppies. Her bigger brothers may have been a little hard for her to handle, but she has gotten over that ‘reserved’ business with no problem.  I’ve had to throw away several toys that she has decimated.  Tonight, she had me laughing hysterically as she tried to pull a jersey knit baby blanket out from under herself, and was going at it like some sort of twisted paddle-ball imitation….her head was the ball part.

Today was also a bit of a wake up as to how much of a baby she still is. I’ve known about supervising puppies and dogs when they chew on rawhides for a while, thank goodness. Today, I had some arrive that I’d ordered for her, and gave her one. She was having a good time with it, and really seemed to love the thing. Then I noticed she was circling on her blanket like maybe she was trying to ‘bury’ it- but I didn’t see it. I heard her making some throaty noises, and immediately went to her and opened her mouth. The rawhide was wet and mucky about 1/3 of the way, and that third was down her throat… the dry part was in her mouth, invisible from the outside. If I’d gotten in the shower thinking she was a ways from it being too far gone, she could have choked.

Paper training has gone well- two full days with no accidents !  Not bad for only being three months old  🙂  She’s still eating three times a day, so what goes in must come out.  It was doing so within about 5 minutes of input- now she’s bigger, so there is more time for her to run around and play.  And, then she’ll stop and trot to her pee pads.

I’m exhausted.  I take naps most days, as does she- fortunately, puppies take 2-3 naps of at least 2 hours each day.  I put her back into the tent on my bed and zip her in, and she’s good about going back to sleep for at least one of those.  In the morning, she usually has an early pee run (I do the ‘running’ by carrying her to her papers), and then back to sleep before eating breakfast. I go back to bed when I can, and she’s trustworthy enough to put on the bed with me; she likes to snuggle against my back (or climb all over me until she chills out), and is learning that things don’t  move very fast around here (except for her).  I know that she will be worth it in the long run, but dysautonomia is no match for a puppy’s energy.   I rest when I can… and I love having her here no matter how tired I am.

Shelby with 'Grandpa'

Shelby with ‘Grandpa’

Shelby and one of her larger toys :)

Shelby and one of her larger toys 🙂

I have missed reading blogs, but hope to get back to some regular reading and writing as Shelby gets older, and more tolerant of me not being %100 focused on her. 🙂

 

Shelby the Hairy Tornado

Shelby is 10.5 weeks old now.  She has energy that my ‘closing-in-on-50-years-old’ body isn’t used to (especially with the disabilities I’ve got).  She IS a hairy tornado.  She wakes me up in the morning by pawing at the inside of the tent she sleeps in (on my bed- to keep her contained and safe, but next to me) to go potty.  She has learned how to paw the zipper from the inside and get the door all the way open- well at least enough to poke her head through, so I can’t dawdle.  I’ll carry her to her potty papers, and insist she unloads both tanks before moving on to feed her (I keep a baby gate up until she’s done).  Otherwise, it’s like a Tootsie Roll dispenser malfunctioned and left ‘gifts’ in a trail on the floor.  She’s a mobile pooper.  According to the puppy training information, she’s doing well.  She gets it right about %80 of the time already; the info says that most pups aren’t totally trained until they’re 6 months old.  In the meantime, there are barricades all over my apartment, and I bring her to her papers about every hour, when she wakes up after a nap, or after a period of psychotic playing.

She’s into the piranha-teeth phase now.  One of her favorite activities is to sink those sharp little puppy teeth into the back of my fuzzy slipper and just hang on for a couple of steps. Then she waits to sink those teeth into the other one. Walking (for me) has become a hazardous situation. So, I shuffle.  I look like some sort of deranged Parkinson’s patient with a short,hairy stalker behind me. And she follows me everywhere ! The puppy training info tells me that ‘communicating’ with her as her fur-mom would do is the way to go… growling an intense and definitive ‘no’ growl is what she’ll understand.  What I understand is that I look like an idiot.  I don’t have a good growl. Go figure. I don’t even holler/yell all that well.

Her ‘guard dog’ attributes need a lot of work.  She barks when someone is leaving. When my dad came over yesterday, he took off his coat and hung it on the back of one of my dinette set chairs.  OK. No problem. Once Shelby got some love from her grandpa in the form of ear scratching, she turned around and eyeballed his coat (the only different thing over there), and proceeded to bark at it until she got up enough courage to slowly approach the ‘dangerous’ coat and give it a good sniff. Then she was fine. But barking once someone is already inside and comfortable enough to remove their coat is a bit backwards from alerting me when they’re trying to enter. Granted, I let him in.  But she’s done this with a friend who was here… let her come right in, but then gave her the business when she was getting ready to leave.  Uh huh.  She’s a scary one!  But I can’t bark at all, so I guess she’s one up on me there.

Then there are the times when she is just too sweet for words. She must sleep near me during the day (her ‘rule’, not mine). She has her own recliner with a soft comforter, but she’d rather sleep on the floor under the leg part of my recliner when it’s up, or next to my recliner on the floor.  If my feet are on the floor, she sleeps between them with her head on top of one foot.  When I pick her up to move her, she just lays in my arms, limp, and lets me do whatever I want to her. She’ll sleep on her back like a baby in my arms to the point when she’s dreaming and twitching. She is very trusting, and as long as she’s able to sleep near or on me, she’s content.  During the first part of the day, if I’m still worn out from an interrupted night’s sleep, I’ll let her play like a maniac until she wears herself out, and then haul her fuzzy butt back to my bed, put her back into her tent, and we both get another hour or two of sleep.

Shelby is  a kisser. When she’s on my lap, she loves to stand up and slurp my face.  Her tail is also semi-motorized, and moves so fast it’s hard to see the actual movement.  It’s just a little black blur on her butt.  And it’s in motion a lot!  She seems to be very happy just about all of the time (unless she’s trying to figure out why I’m growling at her).  It’s sweet to see how curious she is about everything, and that simple things give her joy.  All people should be so content with their lives.

The puppy stage lasts a good year to year and a half.  We’re only two months in.  I love her like crazy, and I’m worn out !  I look forward to watching her grow and learn things she needs to know to be a safe, civilized dog.  In the meantime, I am the hairy tornado monitor, pee pad changer, food dispenser, belly scratcher,  and toy cleaner-upper.  And I wouldn’t trade that for anything 🙂

Sleeping in any position

Sleeping in any position

Killing her toys...

Killing her toys…

In one of her toy bins...

In one of her toy bins…

Introducing Princess “Shelby” Noel Wigglebutt

I finally found a miniature schnauzer puppy !  After 2 months of looking online and in the local newspaper, I finally found a puppy that was exactly what I was looking for.  I had to do a long day of driving WAY outside of my comfort zone with the dysautonomia and joint/pain issues- and it’s only because it’s winter and cold here that it was even possible.  My knees are still not happy- but she is SO worth it.

Shelby (as I call her) is 9 weeks old. She got a good report from my vet, and has been a joy in the 3 1/2 days that I’ve had her home. She has a lot of energy, and is ‘loose’ in my apartment all day (sleeps in a dog tent at night on my bed with me), and is using more energy than she had been, so is having some mild hypoglycemia symptoms. That is common in puppies, and they generally outgrow it. So, to fix that, she’s getting four meals a day instead of three.  She does have several naps during the day, but if I get up, she wakes up and follows me everywhere… one time I managed to not wake her up initially, but she woke up and found me not around, and cried until I called her (she has no clue what her name is yet, but my voice settled her down).

Shelby’s name comes from Julia Roberts character in ‘Steel Magnolias’. The ‘Princess’ part is what her breeder mom called her.  Noel is for being born on Christmas Eve, and Wigglebutt is what her tail does !

It’s been so lonely since Mandy died.  It’s wonderful to have a lively little being in my life again. She’s got a great temperament (and I met her parents, who are sweet dogs as well).  The drive was really hard on the dysautonomia and arthritis, but I’d do it again if I knew she was the end result.

Meet Shelby:

Princess "Shelby" Noel Wigglebutt

Princess “Shelby” Noel Wigglebutt

Shelby

Shelby asleep….

Shelby in one  of her toy bins :)

Shelby in one of her toy bins 🙂

The Night Before Christmas…

…my new puppy was born, though I didn’t know it until today.  My dad was here, and I was going through online ads for miniature schnauzer puppies. Most were either too far away, had something funky going on with their eyes, or some had disconnected phone numbers. Not a good sign.  Then I found an ad that had been posted just a couple of days ago, and I called the breeder. After a few questions, I asked if I could talk it over with my dad and call her back- no problem.

We talked about it for a few minutes, but his fatigue after driving home from Florida over the last several days was catching up with him.  He said we’d talk later.  I called the lady back, and explained the situation, but said I’d be talking to him about me driving the distance to get the puppy on my own. In the winter, I do better, and have plenty of opportunity to stop and rest if needed.  I’d already decided to go by myself- after all, I’d driven over 1200 miles when I moved back here, and while I’m not able to drive very far in just any weather (i.e. when it’s above 50 degrees outside), 35 degrees should be OK.  I got part of the cash at the ATM (will get the rest tomorrow), and made some plans and got the travel crate together.

I talked to dad later, and he agreed; he’s pooped. I told him how I was getting there, and we double checked to be sure he had my cell phone number.  All was well.

My new puppy (Shelby) was born on Christmas Eve- nearly 9 weeks ago.  That was the same day as my last photo of my dear Mandy who died on December 27, 2012.  I like the information the breeder gave me.  And the photos are adorable. Tomorrow, a new phase of my life starts, that will involve patience, some frustration, but mostly a new little life to love.  I’m so ready.  I’ve got puppy teething toys, a ton of stuffed animals, and a new dog bed, along with many other things.

Tonight is my last night in my bed without my new dog.  I’m not sure I’ll sleep !!

Mandy Meltdowns

My sweet miniature schnauzer Mandy died seven weeks ago yesterday, on December 27th, 2012.  She was my sole companion for all of the years on disability, and absolute joy for the 11.75 years I had her with me.  Most of my human friends are in Texas, and I’ve been pretty much isolated since going on disability in April 2004. But Mandy was always here. We were with each other pretty much 24/7.  The bond was different than with other dogs I’ve had (though I loved them intensely, as well).  She knew my patterns and understood what I told her with an almost creepy accuracy.  My dad commented about that often.  He could tell her to do something, and she stared at him… if I said something, she knew what I wanted her to do and did it.  I miss her little quirks SO much.

The last few days have been really hard for some reason.  I’ve been sobbing when I think about how she just went limp on my lap after a few minutes of altered breathing and periodic looks of confusion. She knew that something wasn’t right. She stopped in her tracks after peeing on her pee pads (this was after she whimpered and had some type of ‘spell’ that was similar to other episodes during her nine months with congestive heart failure).  She actually had the ‘presence of mind’ to go to her pee pads after an episode that was to end her life in the next 15 minutes.  That ‘look’ made me feel that she was confused about what was happening, and so I picked up that sweet dog, and got her situated on her comforter, with a pee pad underneath, and got her onto my lap as I leaned back in my recliner. She had some ‘leakage’ issues when she’d have those spells. I knew that if she was dying, she’d have no control- even though she’d had that brief moment of clarity to run to her pee pads.   She knew something wasn’t right, but she also knew that I was holding her, and wasn’t leaving her to be confused on her own.

That last ‘episode’ was different from others. She’d whimpered and cried when she fainted before, and while that sound was horrific to listen to, she’d snap out of it and become alert fairly quickly. This was different. She woke up, but never seemed to become ‘clear’.  So, I knew that this was going to be the end- whether she died naturally in my arms, or if it went into some prolonged situation that could only be dealt with humanely at the vet’s office. Regardless, I knew I was watching my dog’s final moments.  This was my sole companion.  She was with me every single day during some really lousy stuff, and there was no judgement (about the disability issues) and only love and companionship (during the chemo for leukemia).  My best friend was dying in my arms.

When she had that ‘agonal’ breathing (deep, but very slow, and associated with the dying process), I saw the color of her tongue change.  It became pale.  She was no longer looking at me, but I talked to her and thanked her for being the amazing friend that she had been.  I told her how much I loved her.  But I also told her that it was OK to go.  She’d been through enough.  That’s what I used to do with human patients when I was working as a nurse, and while I’m sure Mandy didn’t understand those words, I had to say them.  I had to let her go.

The previous two weeks had been long and hard, and indicative that things were changing, but she’d been alert, and interested in what was going on.  Even that last morning, she was very eager to get Swedish meatballs for breakfast (she’d become very picky during that last 2 weeks).  But at the very end, I knew I had to say goodbye…to the single being that was with me every single day for nearly 12 years, and the only being that was with me after I ended  up home all day every day on disability.  I have regular phone contact with my dad, but my dog was always by my side.  All other contacts with humans at that point were either medical appointments, pharmacy and grocery clerks once a month, the vet, visits with my dad every couple of weeks or so,   and  package delivery people.  There was also the brief contact with family on Christmas Eve.  That was literally my only contact with people in person…. but Mandy was always there.

When she went limp on my lap, I knew she was gone.  No more struggling. No need to take her to the vet, wondering if she knew what was happening.  And feeling like I was ‘killing’ her (even though I believe in euthanasia for the sake of the dog).  No more of the agonal (or difficult) breathing. No more wondering when enough was enough. No more of the up and down roller coaster of watching her have hard periods of time when she seemed to be going downhill very quickly, but then have her bounce back, and being alert and curious the whole time.

She went naturally. She died in my arms. She knew I was with her.  She didn’t have to endure the stress of a car ride to the vet (it had become difficult for her because the excitement of being in the car made her breathing more labored).  And she would get SO cold, from the marked weight loss of that final few weeks.

 I wanted more time with her.  It was 2:45p.m. when she took her last breath, and the crematory closed at 4:00… I’d called them around 3:00 p.m., and they were waiting. Dad was on his way to drive me over there.  But I just wanted to hold her for a while longer.  She was my only friend that I had contact with other than online.  She was my life.  And she was gone… I just wanted a few more minutes.  Handing her over to the pet crematory staff (who were VERY compassionate and handled her very gently) was horrendous.  Shifting her from my arms to his was agonizing.  She was obviously lifeless, and yet it felt like I was giving part of my life away to death.

I can’t get these last minutes out of my head. I do still remember her quirky, funny times, but losing her hurts like salt in an open wound, in my heart. I knew the end result of canine heart failure, and I knew those last two weeks were winding down to the end… but it also felt like part of me went with her.  Having such little contact with other people (because of the disability and physical limitations) made my relationship with Mandy so different.  And she was special (as I know all pet owners feel about their babies 😉 ). Her understanding of what I told her was eerie and made her like having ‘someone’ here.  Before becoming disabled, my other dogs were amazing parts of my life- and I loved them deeply…yet I had contact with people at school and/or work during their lives.  Maybe I became too dependent on Mandy.  I don’t know.  I just know that this time was different.

I’m going to get another schnauzer; I’ve got a breeder in mind, and am awaiting news that their mama schnauzer is pregnant.  It’s really hard to wait, but I really like the breeder and photo of one of their past puppies.  In the meantime, I’m getting things ready for having a puppy again.  And, I go through ‘Mandy Meltdowns’ – more so the last few days.  Each day, something reminds me of what is missing.  Then I replay those last minutes, then weeks, in my head- and dissolve into tears.  I’ve lost two other schnauzers over the period of time from when I was a kid, through my late 30s… and this is different.  Yes, I missed those dogs a lot, but things got better over time; I’ve never forgotten them or their individual personalities (one was nuts, the other smart and social 🙂 ).  It seems like I’m stuck, even though I’m looking forward to the new puppy.

I just miss my sweet buddy.  She made my life so much better.

Mandy at 11 years old, 2012

Mandy at 11 years old, 2012

Mandy at 8 weeks old- summer 2001

Mandy at 8 weeks old- summer 2001

Mandy's final resting place. She is with her 'big sisters' and will be buried with me one day.  I still can't get rid of her pillow bed.

Mandy’s final resting place. She is with her ‘big sisters’ and will be buried with me one day.
I still can’t get rid of her pillow bed.

One Week Since Mandy Died… Still Brings Tears

It’s been one week since my miniature schnauzer Mandy died in my arms.  While it wasn’t unexpected, it’s never easy.  The end was mercifully fast- but I wish I had spent more time holding her, and not rushing off to the cemetery where they have a pet cremation service. I hated giving her to the guy who worked there, though he was so gentle and respectful… but I was saying goodbye to my best friend.  I think about her all the time and will bust out in tears over anything that remotely reminds me of her.  I’ve been through this before. I know it gets better, but for now, it sucks.

I spent the vast majority of the last 8 1/2 years on disability being at home with Mandy.  We knew each other’s routines and quirks, and I miss that.  When I unload the dishwasher or clothes dryer, she’s not there snooping.  There’s nobody snuggling in bed over on her part of it, with her blankets and comforter.  Nobody is there to do all she can to get as close to me as possible during thunderstorms.  She isn’t here to jump UP on her recliner (yes, a people recliner), but then walk DOWN the doggie stairs to minimize strain on her joints.  She’s not here to sit in front of me, and then walk backwards towards the kitchen if she wanted her canned dog food (or at the end, whatever people food I could get down her that was low sodium).

That last day started out like any morning over the last two weeks had- she wanted food, and was alert and snooping around.  When ‘it’ started, she had either fainted or had some episode that caused her to lose consciousness.  The whimper was the clue for me- she wasn’t a ‘noisy’ dog, so with any ‘distressing’ noise,  I knew something was wrong and immediately went over to her- and picked her up.  She started to squirm a bit, and wanted to be put down, at which time she went straight to her pee pads and peed.  Then she walked about two steps and froze.  The look in her eyes was one of incomprehension. She just looked at me with eyes that said she was scared, and triggered the ‘go help her’ reaction in me.  I picked her up, and she ‘felt’ different. She wasn’t as stable keeping herself balanced, so I got her laid on her comforter, putting a disposable bed pad under her (after the fainting spells, she has bladder and bowel ‘issues’).

Then it was just time to hold her and talk to her.  She had her ears up a few times, but it was obvious that this was bad.  She wasn’t going to make it out of this spell.   It was going fast, which was a blessing for her, but I felt like my heart was ripped out.  I kept telling her how much I loved her and thanking her for being the best friend I could have had.  I told her I’d miss her, but that I knew she was tired and it was OK…. she could go and rest.  Her breathing got ‘agonal’- or more like shallow gasps every 5-10 seconds, gradually slowing down, her tongue getting pale.  And then she was still.  No more struggles. No more wondering what to do with her to make her feel better. No more medication or foods to try. No more hoping I was doing the right thing by her.  No more heartbeat.  She was gone.

My dad got there about 5 minutes later, and I’d already called the pet crematorium, that would be closing soon; they were going to wait for us to get there.  I felt rushed, but knew that I would lose it if I had to put my best friend in a box in the garage overnight if we didn’t get her over there ‘on time’… but I really didn’t want to let her go so quickly.  I wanted time to just be with her.  I wanted to hold her for a while longer.   I wanted that time to be ‘enough’ to feel like I wasn’t just rushing to make it before they closed.  I know that the rational thing to do was what was done- but I just wanted those last irretrievable moments to feel her in my arms.  To scratch her ears one  more time (or two, or three).  To rub that place between her eyes that made her relax.  To just BE with her.  To see that she was at peace.  To just have time alone to say goodbye to my best friend.  I might go weeks without seeing another human being at times- but Mandy was there every day for the 11 1/2 years I had her, and with me 24/7 for the 8 1/2 years I was on disability. She was my world.  Sure, I talked to my dad daily, and we do see each other regularly…. but Mandy was my constant.  And then she was gone.

It’s only been a week. I don’t expect the pain to be gone, or even all that much lessened.  With nothing else going on with any sort of regularity (like work, that I was still able to do when my last dog died in 2001), Mandy was what gave my days order.  This is a new normal that I do not like !

I’m planning on getting another puppy, and have found a breeder I like. The next litter is due sometime in the spring. I like this breeder well enough to wait; the photo of the puppy I saw in the ad for this last litter was perfect.  An absolute doll- so I will wait, and have something to look forward to, which helps with the healing. I’m getting things puppy-proofed and some new goodies for her.  I’ve picked out a name, and have first dibs on the female puppies with the litter to come.  That puppy will never replace Mandy, but she will fill the dog sized hole that has been ripped open in my heart.

I’m so thankful for the years I had Mandy. She was special.  I’ve loved each of my three dogs (all miniature schnauzers), but the amount of time I was around her made for a different type of bond.  She actually understood a LOT of words. Dad could ask her to do the same things, and she’d sit down and stare at him. If I asked her to do something, it was done. 🙂

I miss her and will probably keep writing about her.  I can’t imagine loving a human as much as I’ve loved my dogs.  I’m lucky that I’ve had wonderful dogs in my life, and I know that getting another one means I’ll have to face this loss again. But life is so much better having had them with me for the years I have.  There is no more loyal friend. ❤

Mandy- 20113/28/01 - 12/27/12

Mandy- 2011
3/28/01 – 12/27/12

Missing Mandy

My schnauzer, Mandy, died 3 days ago.  It feels like she’s been gone for months, yet there are little things that remind me of her so many times during the day- I expect to see her.  She had her little quirks and eerie understanding of what I told her.  I expect to look up and see her on her ‘TV bed’ (large dog pillow under the TV), watching me.  Every time I moved, she looked up. If I left the room and didn’t say “I’m coming back”, she’d follow me.  It was a relationship with a dog unlike others I’ve had.  Each was special and very loved (as I know the next one will be), but Mandy was smart in the way she understood what I said.  When I got up in the morning, she waited to see if I was getting my slippers on before she got up- she knew that if I was still barefoot, I was coming back- but if she saw the slippers hit my feet, she’d walk down her little dog stairs and be up for the day.

When I sneeze, there’s no little head popping up as she immediately got up and left the room. I couldn’t even say the word ‘sneeze’ or she’d leave the room!  But after I sneezed, she’d come back to see if I was still there!  When I was doing her laundry the other day, there was no little nose checking out the dryer. She especially loved the lint trap. I have no idea why- it’s not like she ever saw what I pulled off of that thing.  But she knew the sound of the dryer stopping, and would get up and look at me like “well, are you going to get the lint?”.   When I loaded the dishwasher, there’s no little face watching, or wildly bouncing around as I shut the dishwasher door.

At night, before bed, I’d tell her to ‘go potty’, and she would!  She would walk over to her pads, and pee.  IF she had ‘gone’ recently, she’d still walk over there, but sit down on the carpet and look at me.  I’d go check the pads, and sure enough- there was a ‘fresh’ pee on the pads.  She knew what I was asking her to do- and letting me know it was already done.

When she was a puppy, I took her to work with me (I had a ‘desk job’ as an RN at a  nursing home, doing assessments for care plans).  As she got older, I’d leave her in the kitchen with a baby gate, and when she was really consistent with using the pee pads, I let her have the run of the apartment when I was gone.  The first time I left her ‘loose’, I had some concerns about what she’d do to my realistic vinyl baby doll collection.  They were seated along the bottom shelves of some book cases.  I dreaded coming home to chewed toes.  Instead, I came home to a pile of baby socks by the back door, and a half-grown dog looking very proud of herself for getting about 20 baby socks off of the dolls and having them neatly piled up.  It was like some sort of offering- LOL.

When I moved from Texas to Illinois, Mandy rode in her travel crate for safety. She was always a good car-rider, lying down on the seat and being content to just be along for the ride (until she got where she was going- usually the vet or groomer).  Because I was driving a 17-foot U-haul for more than 1250 miles, she had to be in her crate, so before leaving Texas, I spent a few months incorporating the crate into her playing.  I’d toss her toys or a dog treat into the crate, and get her used to walking into it on her own. I didn’t want to have battles on the road stuffing her back into it after stopping to let her walk around and go potty.  She did well- and would walk right back into the crate after being out of it at a rest stop. BUT, she did not like when I got out to pump gas and she couldn’t see me.  The crying was horrific.  I was convinced that animal welfare people from many counties near where we were could hear her. I had to pop the gas pump into the tank and set it on ‘auto’, then move back to the truck door so she could see me. Instant quiet.  When I had the nerve to go get some breakfast at a truck stop- and leave her for about 15 minutes to get a TO-GO container (I didn’t even stay inside to eat !), I could hear her ‘screaming’ for me from about 20 yards away from the truck.  She was a ‘mama’s girl’.  I miss that.

At night, if she was ready for bed and I wasn’t, she would get up and sit in front of the hallway, and stare at the bedroom door.  Sometimes she’d go to the bedroom and just wait in the dark for me to find her.  She always had access to the bedroom and bed (and her full half of the double bed), but she wouldn’t go to bed without me.

When she got sicker, and would get cold from losing a fair amount of weight, she’d come over to where I was sitting, and shiver.  I’d get her sweater out, and she’d put her head down so I could slip it over her head.  She also knew to pick up her paws to have them put through the little sleeves.  When I’d take it off, she knew to pick her feet up only after I’d get the sleeve pulled down far enough for her to step out of it.   But she knew that the sweater did something to make her feel better- I’m not sure she understood the concept that a sweater equals ‘warmer’, but she knew enough to come over to me when she wanted it- and then go lie back down once I put it on her.

I cry many times a day when I think about her not being here any longer.  She was with me for eleven years and seven months- I got her when she was almost 2 months old. She would have turned twelve at the end of March.  I hope she knew how much I loved her. I hope she knew that she was my equivalent of a child, and I honestly can’t imagine loving an actual kid any more than I loved that dog.  I hope she knew how much I wanted the best for her- and while I hated watching her die in my arms, I would never want her to die alone and scared.

After the initial whimper that began the end, she was alert enough to look at me (and at that point was motionless, just standing on the floor looking at me with a ‘different’ look- sort of a confused inability to move) and know that I picked her up.  She lifted her head a few times before just collapsing on my lap- but knew I’d put her on her comforter (and a disposable bed pad), and let me shift it to get the ‘lumps’ out.  Then she just wilted and her breathing changed to an agonal pattern associated with imminent death.  I kept stroking her back and scratching her ears, and telling her how much I loved her, and how amazing she’d been as my best friend.  I let her know that it was OK to stop fighting (like I’d do as an RN to humans- I doubt Mandy had a clue what that meant, but I had to say those words as my way of letting her go).  I told her that I’d miss her, but knew she’d hung on as long as she could (and she’d done fairly well – it had been a rocky couple of weeks, but she’d been alert, eating- though more picky, and wanted to be near me).

That morning, she’d wanted Swedish meatballs, and her Charlee Bear treats.  It was a ‘normal’ day- until 2:30 p.m. when I heard the whimper.  By 2:45 p.m., she was gone.  My only form of living companionship was gone.  I know that my next dog won’t replace Mandy (just like she hadn’t replaced her predecessor), but that she will steal my heart in her own way.  And yet, Mandy was special.  Maybe it was the amount of time I’m home, and she just got used to my routines- but her understanding of what I’d say was uncanny. Dad could ask her to do the same things, and she’d just stare at him.  She was my baby.

I miss her deeply… and yet I know the only way through this is to move forward and look at how much I’ll love a new puppy.  Mandy will never be gone from my heart, but it is a deep pain knowing she’s not here ‘in person’.   RIP, my sweet little girl.  I hope you know how much you were loved ❤

Mandy- 20113/28/01 - 12/27/12

Mandy- 2011
3/28/01 – 12/27/12