Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘dog

Lonely Walk

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I took a walk on the perimeter trail through our woods yesterday for the first time since Delilah died. That path was getting footsteps (boot steps) up to three times a day with Delilah to give her exercise that would expend her high energy. Sometimes I wasn’t all that interested in making the trek for a third time in a day, but I never regretted the opportunity once I was out there getting my own exercise and experiencing our precious wooded acres.

Without Delilah needing to be walked, I have been avoiding wandering our trails, partly out of respect that it was her thing and she isn’t with us anymore, but also because it would poke at my grief over her passing. Yesterday, I decided to trek through the crusty snow for the first time in almost three months to see if any trees have fallen or what wild animal tracks might be visible now that there isn’t a dog living here.

There were a few branches down and several spots where limbs burdened by snow had tipped over, now frozen in place. No large trees have come down in all the winter weather we’ve received thus far.

It was a lonely walk and it did poke my grief.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2023 at 11:30 am

Godspeed Delilah

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DELILAH, Belgian Tervuren Shepherd,  Nov. 2012 – Nov. 2022

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Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2022 at 7:00 am

Not Better

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If something is not getting better, does that mean it is getting worse? Not necessarily, but possibly. We continue to face the parallel issues of Cyndie’s recuperation after breaking her ankle and Delilah’s mystery illness that is looking more and more like what may be the end of her life. Cyndie and I are striving to be positive and calming alongside the obvious sadness we are experiencing.

The main evidence we are getting from Delilah is that she has stopped eating. Short of further expensive veterinary options, we are left with that clear X-ray and good blood results as the only reference for ruling out easily resolved causes. There are a variety of other afflictions that may be triggering Delilah’s shutting down but at ten years old, putting her through the trauma to learn more won’t necessarily provide much in the way of extending quality years for her.

Since kitty treats were the only thing she would accept (her ignoring scrambled eggs this morning was a real gut punch), we figured she could enjoy those yesterday and get a little more than zero calories.

That just resulted in a return of her vomiting this morning.

I’ve shortened her walks to just long enough to pee and/or poo if she has it in her to do. I told Cyndie this morning Delilah’s poop was rather cat-sized. I guess that’s what you get on a diet exclusively of kitty treats.

She mostly lays at Cyndie’s feet but still occasionally pops up to bark at something outside that neither of us can identify. Delilah shows no signs of pain or discomfort so we are left with witnessing her slow down between glimpses of her old spark.

If she continues to refuse to drink water or broth or eat anything we offer, it will be a matter of days before we will need to make that final decision which is never easy to make.

Not much else beyond keeping Delilah comfortable seems very important to us at this point.

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2022 at 11:33 am

Food Issues

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How strange it is to have our Belgian Tervuren Shepherd becoming finicky about eating. In our attempts to treat her for what was becoming chronic vomiting, she seems to have lost trust that we are offering nutrition in good faith. We tried hiding her two prescription pills in every possible enticing morsel. She ate the first one or two and ever after has successfully separated the pills from whatever we hid them in.

Now Delilah is refusing the prescribed diet offerings and even turning away from servings of her regular food. The only thing she still gladly chomps are kitty treats left over from our days with Pequenita.

Maybe she misses her kitty sister.

Honestly, I think Delilah won’t get back to normal until Cyndie is back to normal, too.

This morning I heard Cyndie report to someone over the phone that she was off the prescription pain meds, so she is continuing to make good progress. The biggest burden she is struggling with is not that her ankle surgery is only one week old, but the fact that Delilah is not doing well.

I continue refining my technique for serving the horses their three feed sessions. Since half of them are supposed to receive larger portions, I can’t just leave them on their own or the bolder ones will move in and push away the two who should get the larger servings.

When I am successful in splitting them into groups by serving size, I can care less about who is stealing whose portion.

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Light is notorious for wanting to get in Swings’ space, yet Swings is the primarily dominant mare of the herd. Why Swings tolerates the intrusions from Light is beyond me. Is Swings peacefully sharing or is Light perniciously seeking control?

I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter to me since they both receive the same serving size. They both eat together until the servings are gone, so neither is getting short-changed.

Now if Delilah would resume eating until her servings are fully consumed and keep them down long enough to digest them fully, that would be great.

I need to go feed Cyndie. She seems to be having no problems eating food.

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Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2022 at 11:38 am

Status Update

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One week down, seven to go before Cyndie can hope to be allowed to put weight on her right leg. Not that I’m counting. I’m noticing promising progress in her pain control as she is reducing narcotics and replacing them with over-the-counter alternatives.

I wish we could say Delilah is showing as much improvement. Even though she is no longer throwing up like she had been, her energy has dropped and she’s totally rejecting the vet-prescribed food and meds that are intended to help her. We’ve been throwing money at the problem and have learned there is no blockage visible by X-ray and her blood levels all fall within a healthy range.

Taking Delilah for a walk has become an exercise of my patience. Instead of pulling me down the trail like usual, she now trails behind as far as the leash reaches. At one point, as she stood foraging for grass to chew, I hooked her leash to a fence post and continued on to feed horses without her.

Normally, she would bark and bark if we left her behind. This time, she didn’t seem to mind one bit.

I think Cyndie and Delilah are unconsciously in a contest to see who gets better first.

Between my tending to each of them, I have continued to chip away at tasks we had hoped to take care of before snow arrived. Yesterday, I finally retrieved Cyndie’s prized “door-table” that she sets up on two plastic sawhorses in the woods under a big tree. It’s a novelty that she loves having, but it sees little if any use throughout the summer. It is now stored in the barn for winter.

I also pulled out the ATV snowplow from the back of the garage and installed it on the Grizzly. In the morning, it seemed like I was going to have snow to scrape off the driveway but by the time I was ready to plow, the snow had again melted from the pavement.

It looks like we installed heating in the asphalt. I’m pretty sure that residual ground warmth is fading fast. Our temperatures are due to drop for a few days, swinging us from unseasonably warm to colder than normal for mid-November.

Eventually, I will need to plow the driveway. For now, I am more than happy to wait.

It feels strange to walk the snowy trails without Cyndie. Winter will be half over by the time she gets to join me again.

It challenges one’s ability to live in the moment when you can’t put weight on a leg for two months and the immediate moment involves uncomfortable surgery pain. It’s safe to say that both Cyndie and I are setting our sights on a day that is weeks away. For now, that’s the moment we are living in.

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2022 at 7:00 am

Like November

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like… November. Finally. The temperature stayed below freezing all day yesterday and we experienced a misty drizzle that created a shiny frozen glaze over surfaces.

The upper area of the paddocks just beyond the overhang had become a sloppy, muddy mess after the recent rains. Now it has become the classic ankle-twisting gnarled and knobbly frozen surface that makes cleaning up piles of manure an exercise in futility. It completely stymies my desire for impeccable cleanliness in the area where the horses linger longest.

This morning on our walk, Delilah and I enjoyed a little visit with the cows who seemed particularly curious about our arrival at the corner where our properties meet. I don’t know much about cows, but it got me wondering about how they view the world of wild animals that travel these acres in comparison to their confined domestic status.

It probably isn’t very different from the experience of our horses, but the horses give off an aura of awareness that the cows appear to lack.

After Delilah’s vet visit yesterday, we have her on a strict bland diet of rice and meat and are giving her some anti-nausea medication to see if her stomach can regain its control in keeping contents contained.

I am extremely grateful to have not needed to clean up vomit for more than a day. Here’s hoping for two in a row.

Cyndie’s mom came over yesterday and spent the night offering her help in kitchen patrol. Our kitchen is not optimized for her methods so she is sounding just as taxed as I do when I pretend to cook for Cyndie, and I know where most things are stored and how our appliances work.

I’ve become chief fireplace officer and video entertainment system tech.

Pain management appears under control for Cyndie now and she is doing her best from the confines of her recliner to advise on the location of searched-for items, hoping to stay ahead of Marie’s and my frustrations as we do the caretaking of the caretaker.

Not that I’m counting, but only 8-weeks to go before Cyndie can start putting weight on her right foot again.

By then, November will be a distant memory.

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Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2022 at 11:45 am

Two Patients

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That was one heck of a day, yesterday. It turns out that I have two patients to take care of because, in addition to Cyndie recuperating from her surgery, Delilah is experiencing a problem with continued vomiting.

Delilah’s condition isn’t too concerning at this point because she is regularly drinking water, pooping healthy, and is full of her typical spunk at normal times. It is, however, inconvenient to have her making disgusting messes unexpectedly at the worst times possible.

We can’t rule out stress as a possible contributing factor but there is also a possibility we have a bad batch of food or she could be developing an allergy to an ingredient.

I’m pretty sure Delilah doesn’t grasp the concept but I have her fasting for a while in an attempt to disrupt the troublesome routine she has fallen into. Then I will need to decide what food I will start testing to see if we can solve whatever is ailing her.

Tuesday night didn’t start out well for her because the thunderstorm we endured was quite dramatic with booms of thunder that shook the house. She was having a fit in her overnight crate trying to bark back the storm that wasn’t letting up. I tried staying up late with her to give some support but that didn’t seem to ease her distress much.

After a few-too-few hours of sound sleep, I was woken by Cyndie at 3 a.m. because she could hear Delilah throwing up. With her splinted leg propped up on pillows, Cyndie couldn’t do anything about it.

Last night, Delilah threw up again, just before dinner time. I was in the middle of cooking my own dinner and manning the phone tree of contacts with reports on Cyndie’s status. The doctor had called me to say everything went well and there were no complications. It was time to walk Delilah and tend to the horses but I was waiting for a sitter to show up and take care of those tasks.

I put Delilah on a leash in the front yard, tossed paper towels over the mess in the front entryway, answered my phone, and turned over fish fillets baking in the oven.

I thought last night was going to be a moment of rest while Cyndie was tended to by professionals. Nope. Forgot about the other patient here needing TLC.

At least Delilah doesn’t seem to realize anything is ailing her. If she had a bum leg, she’d still try to run anyway. That’s the way dogs are.

Good thing Cyndie doesn’t take after her dog.

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Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2022 at 7:00 am

Chugging Along

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Like a freight train chugging along the tracks, we are slowly making our way toward an appointment tomorrow morning with a trauma surgeon for an assessment of Cyndie’s situation. Just about 24 hours to go. Of course, we had to suffer the curse of setting our clocks back one-hour last night to move out of daylight saving time, making this weekend an hour longer. What’s one more hour?

I don’t have as much time to write as I am usually granted, given that I am now thrust into the head cook and chief bottle washer duties in addition to the solo animal feeder. I noticed a shift in allegiance from Delilah. She is normally glued to Cyndie’s side but since I was the one slinging food around the kitchen, Delilah made sure to keep a close eye on my actions, leaving Cyndie alone in the bedroom.

I got the impression there might be a shifting of relationships among the herd of horses this morning, too. It seemed as though Light was making a play to put much more pressure on Swings’ herd-leader position, repeatedly and strongly commanding control of whichever feed pan from which Swings was trying to eat.

In an unusual pairing, this morning Mix easily volunteered to take up a position opposite Swings and Light, on the side with Mia. I was very happy to oblige because those two receive a similar, but larger serving of feed. Mia usually finishes sooner, but she won’t steal from Mix.

On the other side, Light and Swings each get a smaller serving portion so I don’t really care if they keep swapping pans.

Today I must do laundry and make a grocery run.

Chugging along down the tracks.

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Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2022 at 11:16 am

Slow Gardening

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Not unlike the methods we have employed on the driveway, chipping away at a big job in small portions, this week we have been giving the labyrinth a thorough going over. So thorough, we have been moving and replacing each of the rocks while weeding and trimming the grass around and beneath them.

At the pace of this level of detail, it will be amazing if we finish before the labyrinth garden gets covered by snow. Each morning before we start, I have been giving the driveway project ongoing attention, moving a couple loads of composted manure by wheelbarrow to create a gradient beyond the gravel shoulder.

So, both projects continue to hold our attention.

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The long hours in the sun had Delilah patiently hiding in the shade while we toiled. When I broke for lunch yesterday, I brought her up to the house with me while Cyndie continued to work. As I was gobbling up some sustenance, I glanced over to find Delilah laid out on the tile floor, her head placed precisely in the glaring spot of sun shining in through the skylight.

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Apparently, it wasn’t as hot as the bright sunshine she worked so hard to avoid down by the labyrinth.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Alternative View

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This photo begs a caption but I’ve got nothing. Feel free to share your ideas by posting a comment.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2022 at 6:00 am