Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Winter hit with a vengeance during those weeks, and many days it was a battle to cope and try to keep everyone else alive and well. We had several snows and the coldest temps in ten years for a few nights.
Last week it began to warm up and soon all the awful snow was gone, and the ground unfroze enough for me to get my big dog buried. It was a slow process and was finally completed this week. I was very glad for that.
With the warmer weather and the days staying lighter longer, I've slowly been putting things to right around here. When you are in the middle of cold, snow, and aren't home except in the very early a.m. or late p.m. things tend to get thrown here and there and become messy.
I re-worked my wood pile and got the wood boxes in the breezeways refilled (while I'd like to believe winter is over, I'm pretty sure it isn't), dumped and refilled every one's water tubs, gave Ashley a bathe and a good brushing and other odds and ends. I even had my windows open to the house a couple of days.
Today it rained pretty hard for awhile, but the ground needed settling and some of the ick from the snow washed off anyway. Once it warms up the grass should really take off. I worked in the house, cleaning and moving some things around. There might be a special 'arrival' happening here in a few weeks so I have to make room just in case.
I'll be glad for Spring, and I'll be glad that when I think about Boone I can smile instead of cry. He was a great dog and his memories should be looked on with joy in the time we had.
Thank you to everyone who came by to comment and grieve with me in Boone's passing. Many were friends and familiar names, but others were first time commenters, and I appreciate that you all were moved to leave a comment for Boone. You are all special to me, and it helped to know that you care. I plan to print out the comments and add them into Boone's little record book.
It's been hard to compose the 'next' post after losing Boone, but, well, here it is, for what it's worth. I've switched out the header and added this post, so I hope it will be easier for myself to 'visit' my own blog now.
Take care and hope your week is a good one.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
2005(?)--February 7, 2011
Gotcha Day--January 14, 2006
Gotcha Day--January 14, 2006
Big beautiful Boone passed away around 4 a.m. on February 7. His leaving was not peaceful, but he died in his home, with those he loved around him.
After a very good day, filled with chewy treats, special meals, a short stroll and hanging out and sleeping restfully in front of the fire, he suddenly took a turn for the worse around midnight.
At first I thought he was experiencing an upset tummy, but as time went on, the seriousness of what was happening became obvious. As the initial symptoms came into play, they were mild and not too worrisome. By the time I realized that he was not having some sort of upset from the meds, it was too late to load him in the truck and make the 50 mile trip to the emergency clinic. Instead I sat with him and tried to comfort him. I know in my heart that this would have been his choice, rather than to end his days away from his home. The very end was easier for him, and Ashley and I held him folded up in a blanket of love.
A little over five years ago, my life changed dramatically on a simple trip to town. I encountered a very desperate Boone standing in the road on my way home, and once our eyes locked, there was no other choice but to welcome this new creature into my heart.Life with Boone was a bit like getting swept away in an avalanche. After the initial early weeks of getting 'back on his feet' he never looked back and had enough energy for five or six dogs.
Never having had to deal with a 'bully' breed, I took it to heart that if I didn't make sure he had lots of exercise and interaction he would turn out to be a very bad dog. To that end I nearly ran myself ragged that first year or so.Boone was never a very bad dog, and didn't have the makings in his soul to be that way. Boone was always a very good dog, or at least he cared enough to try. After I calmed down and started to understand him we had a much more mellow time.
Boone had one goal in life--to be with me. His intensity was a bit overwhelming at times. If I didn't want to go out and walk or stay outside and play, then he would just sulk. Nope, it's no fun without my person.
His biggest fault those first years was cat chasing. As a home that already had several established cats both inside and out, this was distressing on all levels. I was told by breed advocates that he could never be trusted with cats and would likely kill them even if he became used to them. So for the first several years he had to stay in a large pen with a large shed in the backyard when I was gone. He gradually graduated step by step to supervised yard time and then the full run of the yard. He never caught a cat and he never harmed a cat.
He chased lots of cats, and I usually was chasing right behind him screaming my head off. As the years passed one day it finally clicked for him that certain cats were 'his' cats and he stopped chasing them. They even got bold enough to walk near him and around him, but never were really relaxed in his presence. The six-pack kitties never had any sense about anything and adopted Boone as their big brother. He was very tolerant of them. When they were still outside and Noah was going through his initial seizure activity, the dogs were very kind to him. Because Noah couldn't keep up with his sibs during that time, he would follow Boone and Ashley around.
Over the years I had Boone he killed two skunks. He tried to take out two 'possums, but their 'playing dead' only got them a mauling.
Boone never, ever, ever had a mean bone in his body towards humans. He was gentle and kind and always open to new friendships. Everyone was a potential friend in his eyes. 99 percent of everyone that met him in person or online loved the big slob. Despite all that he went through before he came to live here, he still trusted people to be kind. That didn't mean he was stupid and he was very watchful of things that looked fishy in his eyes. With Boone 'watching' the place I have felt very safe over the past five years. It feels very strange not to have my backup boy taking care of things.
Like many dogs of his breed, he was potentially dog aggressive. I never gave him a chance to interact with other male dogs, and the few girl dogs he met, he would try and dominate at first, but became quickly accepting of them. When I got him I had two collies--Jody and Ariel. Jody was very quick to welcome him into the pack, but she passed only five or six months after he joined us. In his exuberance as a youngster, he managed to bowl Ariel (and well, me too) over a few times and so she had a bit of fear of him. They forged a friendship over the years they were together, but Ariel was older and fragile and couldn't play with him.
When Ariel passed, Boone was very sad. Boone loved his 'pack' and mourned heavily. Another dog was needed even though I didn't feel quite ready. When I got Ashley a year and half ago, at first he was going to take her down and tear her little furry heart out. That lasted about two minutes and with many laps around the property with both on short lead, and then later visiting through a barrier Boone was ready to welcome his new buddy within hours. Ashley and Boone became very fast friends.
What a silly pair they looked, but they depended on each other and enjoyed having each other as a buddy. With Ashley he could play and run and steal each others bones and toys.
The other day Boone was in the house and I had put Ashley out because she was restless and needed some 'air'. Boone became very concerned after a time and insisted that he had to go out or she had to come in. How could I refuse? Ashley is very sad now, and was laying on the front step when I came home, whining and depressed. At first I couldn't figure out what the noise I was hearing was from, but it was from Boone's sad little girlie.
If you have read my blog very long, you might remember Boone's addiction to stuffed toys. He rarely pulled the stuffing out, but he would drag them around and maim them in other ways. At times my yard looked like a stuffed toy graveyard. When it came time for periodic cleanup of the various toys, he would get very upset when he saw his bits and pieces of stuffed animals disappearing into the trash sack. If I didn't watch him he would go and pull them back out! I always refreshed his stash with new bears, monkeys, balls etc, but he still mourned those thrown away.
Boone's favorite thing in the world was to come in the house in the evenings and crash on his bed and snore his heart out. Not great aspirations but very important to him! He was in the middle of his little pack and happy as a clam. It's very quiet here tonight.When he was younger that first year we played lots of fetch. He loved to have me throw his monkey toy or one of his many many other stuffed toys. He quickly learned manners, like drop it, wait, sit, down and shake, and never jumped on people--although getting dog slobbered was always a huge risk. He was always easy to work with and it was fun to play toss the toy with him. It was pretty scary though when he would run full bore at you--only twice did he miscalculate and send me flying, but that was enough. I don't think he ever understood how massive and strong he was. His tolerance for pain was amazing.
And of course we can't forget his love of his swimming pool! My how that boy enjoyed cooling his toes on a hot summer day, even if he did look rather comical. If I was slow in changing the water or putting the pool up, he could really pull out all the stops on 'abused dog face'.
Perhaps his very, very favorite thing though was micro-managing me. He was constantly trying to run the show, especially when it came to me going out in the pasture with the sheep. Up and down the fence, up and down the fence he would run. Sometimes he would bark obnoxiously (he rarely barked!) because he was left behind. Anything to get my attention off those dratted sheep and back on him. Lambing season, especially the first one for him, was very depressing, as my attention was focused on those stupid lambs, instead of him. We had lots of 'discussions' back and forth while I was doing chores, because he knew I couldn't do much about him hysterically barking and running the fence when I was in with the sheep.
As he got a little older and especially after Ashley joined us, he got a little less possessive and watchful of my every move.
But he was always glued to the back gate keeping an eye on me while I did chores...even when he wasn't feeling well last week. Even the day before he died. I will really, really miss his watchful eye and intent expression. His face was so very expressive and it was easy to see what he was thinking. He was almost human at times.
To be honest, I can't even think of him not being here, as he was such a powerful and constant presence. Somehow five years ago he inserted himself squarely into my heart and has made darn sure he kept himself front and center ever since.
I remember when we had the big ice storm in 2007---I was out in the night after the first round, trying to get the rams gate shut, so they would be safe, wading under downed branches and listening to more cracking overhead. But I wasn't out there alone, as big Boone was right on my heels trying to help. Sometimes in the evening or early morning, when it was still dark, if I felt creepy doing chores I'd send him out ahead to check the garage. He was a good guard.
Last week when I was snowed in and Boone had his first episode I was besides myself because I couldn't get him to the vet sooner. Then Friday I finally got him out and he seemed to improve a little each day on the meds, and I grew hopeful. In my heart though, I have sensed this day approaching for months. I'm not sure why, but I always knew the time with Boone would be shorter than I would ever want.
Now as I look back on that last week, it seems to me that it was a blessing in disguise. Boone was not well, and he had managed to hide most of his distress from me, so that it seems he was much sicker than he appeared. Why a blessing? Because I was snowed in, and couldn't go to work for four days, Boone got to stay in the house all day and all night....right where he wanted to be--with me. Church was canceled on Sunday so in all Boone got to spend six very good days with those he loved near, stretched out in front of the fire, instead of having to stay outside and wait and wait for me to get home from work. I am very glad that his last week was spent in this way that was special for him.
When he passed Monday morning, it was so incredibly hard, but I'm very glad I could be with him and not have come home and found him gone alone. It still doesn't seem real.
I know this is long, and I might add to it, because it's important to me to capture the spirit of that mighty dog with the big, big heart. I can say with all truth and in all respect for my dear friend--He Was A Good Dog. And I can also say he was a dear friend and a fun buddy and my heart will always have a special memory of Boone-dog.
Boone and I would be honored for his existence and his story to inspire others to open their hearts to a new furry friend. Maybe one that challenges you and one you might not pick on your first thought. I would say take a chance because you never know the friendship and devotion that will come your way, by a mere act of kindness.
For now it's at times unbearable that he isn't here, snoring obnoxiously and stretched out in front of the fire. With time I hope to be able to remember silly, goofy, intense and loyal Boone without this deep sadness.
Farewell, my big friend. Thanks to God for seeing fit to place you in my life. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Love you, big goof.
I have tried all week to get this post together, but it has been a struggle. I know that many of you will be very sad to hear of Boone's passing, but your love and sweetness towards a big dog you have known only from afar, has always touched my heart.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
I had talked to the vet the day before, and was told to just bring him in when I could get out, since the vet was the only staff there at the time.
So around noon we headed into town. The diagnoses was about what I figured. When you are snowed in and have Internet access you can do lots of research. I also want to think Michelle and her vet husband for their words as well.
Boone has been diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (short version--DCM occurs most often in middle-aged, male, large and giant breed dogs, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, and Irish Wolfhound, but DCM can affect dogs of any age and many other than these breeds. Often males are predisposed or more likely to be affected at a young age. In addition to the large-breed dog, DCM is recognized regularly in a variety of spaniel breeds, and the condition occurs sporadically in small canine breeds. The precise genetic basis for DCM has not been demonstrated. The four most common clinical presentations of DCM are 1) occult DCM; 2) cardiac arrhythmia (see above); 3) sudden cardiac death; and 4) congestive heart failure (CHF). Or you can click on the link above and it tells a more detailed version.
This is a relatively common disease in this breed of dog who in my opinion have a way too short life span and way too many health issues as it is.
Boone hasn't been 'up to par' for awhile now, but I attributed it to a number of things, not picking up on the whole picture. The cold weather affected him badly and I laid the blame for his symptoms squarely on the feet of winter.
He has been rather depressed, his appetite has decreased and other more subtle can't put my finger on it things. Some of this also coincided with Ashley going into heat as well, and that is always a hard time around here, as all normal routines and actions go out the window. (And yes, Ash may be bred, and puppies soon if she took. Good grief...)
Boone is, by my reckoning around six now. I have had him five years (how that went by fast) and he was probably close to a year old when I found him. Six years for this breed puts them into the 'slowing down, getting older' bracket.
So, for now we have him on medications--three to be exact. Sixteen pills a day. This will decrease once we get the proper dosage for his size. (Not many dogs around here that need heart meds that weigh 130 lbs.) Should have the correct pills by next weekend. These will work in the meantime, just means more to poke down his throat. He hates pills and you can't 'hide' them in anything, so the only choice is to open that big slobbery mouth and throw them in...) He is on Furosemide (diuretic) Digoxin (directly increases the contracting of the heart) and Enalapril (ACE Inhibitor). There are all kinds of possible side affects, so time will tell how it goes. If they work they should have a dramatic impact on his quality of life. It will likely take some time to figure out the correct dosage on a couple of them.
Prognosis, providing he responds to the drugs is 6 months to 24 months of decent quality life. If he makes it to the upper figure then that puts him at about a typical lifespan for a DDB.
Right now, I think the best thing is to take it a day at time, and enjoy what we have. He is resting very comfortably and loves being a 'house dog'. Once I go back to work, he will have to be an 'outside' dog again at least during the day. Being on the diuretics he will have to urinate allot, so being in the house ten hours is not an option. I asked if his activity needs to be restricted, but the vet said that it's recommended that the dogs are allowed to do as they normally would. I'll probably not let him do as much of that silly running the fence after the neighbors dogs, but other than that, I'm going to let him have his life as long as he can.
I'm just very relieved that I finally got him out to the vet. It has been a long week. I'm exhausted and feel like I haven't accomplished anything, other than beating back one crisis at a time.
Hopefully I'll get another 'snow post' up soon, and relate the whole driveway debacle (which was plowed by a a kind neighbor last night at about five p.m.!)
I do have to tell you though a little story about my Mom and an old school friend. My Mom called the guy who ended up blading our driveway after we finally figured out who it was that had such a nice little tractor outfit. She talked to his wife, (who is the gal I went to school with), and evidently told her about how I was trying to get out and get Boone to the vet. The gal and Mom hatched up a plan whereby she would drive over here and get me and Boone and take us to the vet...in the end though they couldn't scheme their way into how to get close enough (as Boone couldn't walk too terribly far in the snow) and still turn around. Fortunately I was able to get out myself later that day.
When her husband came that night to plow the drive, my truck was just barely in off the road, and blocking the drive. That is as far as I could get in before getting stuck (I could still back out). I had no idea the guy was anywhere around, because my watchdogs were both snoozing in the house, until he knocked on the door!
I opened the door and of course Boone and Ashley tried to push me out of the way to see who it was. Boone had a pink blankie draped over his back, and stuck his massive head out the door. "Come in, come in" they seemed to say.
Never mind me, of course, the guy reaches out and scratches Boone's head and asks, 'are you feeling better, big guy?'
Just goes to show you, there are still some awful good people out there, and animal people are some of the best.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Well, the storm is done and we ended up with about 11 inches of snow. We got more after I took this picture, but not allot. Thankfully we didn't get it as bad as was feared, but 11 inches is still too much and basically I'm 'snowbound' for a few days. I parked my truck in the garage because they were also calling for freezing rain, sleet, and high winds and I was afraid that trees might come down on it. My driveway is pretty long, and I normally park near the road when I know the big snows are coming.
I've been digging out gates and little paths to get the chores done. I'm hoping by Friday to be able to get out to work, but we shall see. Right now they haven't even plowed our state road (no money, dontcha know), but the county has had road graders out on the gravel road. The state road is so bad that four wheel drive people are having trouble making it up the hill (and some didn't).
The really bad part is that Boone had some sort of episode yesterday morning. He was running around in the snow and the next thing I know he is down and won't get up. He didn't pass out, but he wasn't in good shape. I finally got him up and walking so I could get him in the house. He has been in (except for potty breaks) ever since. Yesterday he wasn't real good, but today he seems a little better. I've kept him warm and quiet since then. His appetite finally picked back up and 'bodily functions' are now working as normal. Yesterday his gum color wasn't good at all, but today his gums are pinker. His breathing is harder than normal and his energy level is very low. Otherwise he is really enjoying being in the house, and he and Ashley think they will pack their bags and move in, thank-you-very-much.
As soon as I can get out and find a vet that is open I'll take him in, in the meantime I'm thanking God that he is comfortable and doesn't seem to be suffering any. Until then we just keep on keeping on, I reckon.
Enjoy the pictures and be thankful my camera froze up or there would be more....
This used to be my back stairs. Yes all those foot prints are from the birds--they are frantic and everywhere.