Wonderful Wednesday Personal Blog
Today I want to post about how Ben lived. It's been a week since we let him go, and I've discovered I have quite a collection of photos of Ben (as I'm sure many of you have of your pets). I'd like to narrate a short journey through his life, if you'd be so kind as to spend a few minutes with me.
He came to us as a 9 week old puppy-- and he was the same color as the hardwood floor! I wasn't sure about those ears. They seemed too big to every stand up. But within a couple of weeks, they began their ascent. Those ears didn't miss a sound!
He and Dixie (who is about to turn 13) were instant buddies. They were pretty much inseparable, though he was happiest curled up with his people.
He went a lot of places with me. His manners were pretty, and he loved meeting people. He even maintained his cool after the canon at a Scottish festival went off (we were much further away when it did) and payed little attention to the bagpipes. His antics even won him an award at the festival's pet parade. Who could resist his dramatic 'play dead' right in front of the judges? He never met a stranger, and everyone adored him.
And then Freki joined the family. We weren't sure how Ben would treat her. He was a rough-and-tumble 4-yr-old at the time. He couldn't have been kinder.
He taught her about kiddie pools, nap time, riding in the car, playing games, and how to snatch treats from the puzzle toy. Occasionally, Dixie joined in.
Did he ever get into trouble? You betcha! He knew many voice commands and tricks, and loved showing them off. He'd race to the top of the stairs and I (knowing he was about to turn right and eat whatever was left in the cat's food bowl) would shout 'Left!'. He'd usually ignore my first command and turn right anyway. To everyone's amusement, I'd immediately counter with 'Your other left!', at which point he'd spin around and head to the left. He was notorious for raiding the cat's food bowl, even when we placed it on the ledge at the back of the tub. Yes, he'd climb up there for a snack.
His favorite trick was to roll over and play dead. He could do this with quite a bit of flair--seemed to love it when people laughed. So we coupled the trick with the dialogue "would you rather be a Bama fan or a dead dog?" (Yes, I'm an Auburn grad). He'd fall to the floor and fling his feet into the air rather dramatically. He was the class clown in his training classes and loved to learn.
Trouble? Mostly for digging. He didn't discriminate between the soft spot of yard in the corner and the flower bed or garden. I had quite a nice garden and flower bed surrounding the back porch-- until he taught Freki how much fun it was to pull up the plants and shake them around.
They also were responsible for the random acts of toilet paper roll placement in the house.
Though he enjoyed being inside, petted, pampered and soaking up attention, he loved the outdoors and was curious about everything.
Thanks for letting me ramble on a bit about Ben. We will miss him for a long time.
I'm writing this post while I still can. I thought about putting it off until tomorrow, or next week-- or even next month. But the truth is, I will never get to a place where this is easy.
After struggling with the lameness and later neuropathy of his right front leg, we let Ben go.
Just before Christmas, a lump that had been no larger than a large lima bean grew to the size of a small peach. Our vet removed as much of it as he could, but it fell apart and was pretty much everywhere. The histopathology report told us it was an aggressively malignant tumor.
Ben rallied after surgery. He was able to dart up and down the steps, albeit three-legged as he still had no function of his right front leg. But I saw him use that leg to wipe his face, and could even coax him to shake with it if the bribe was sufficient. It lasted less than a week.
He went downhill from there, and much too fast for us to process. But when he was no longer able to move more than three steps (and those 3 steps took forever) without collapsing, and picking him up was no longer much of an option as it made him whine, we knew it was time to let him go.
Ben, you were the absolute kindest, sweetest dog I have ever had the priviledge of knowing. You loved me with all your heart and I hope I returned even a portion of that to you. Run free, my friend. You deserve peace and the only grace that was truly mine to give you.
You have a new yard tonight. Keep it free of squirrels.
My heart could not break so much if there was not such an empty space inside it. Thank you for seven wonderful years of companionship, Ben. You are missed.
This is me, last summer. I really like playing in the pool, but I'm not supposed to be jumping or bouncing or any of the really fun things corgis do, because I've hurt my neck. Or maybe it's my shoulder. I can't really tell anyone what happened, so they're helping the best they can.
Saw the chiropractor again today. I really like her--at first. She pets me and I get out of my little room for a while. Not so sure I like it when she finds my sore spots, but they keep telling me it'll make me better.
I do feel a lot better after she leaves. And I get to wear the pink shirt with an ice pack. The cold really feels good on my neck. My head is able to turn better, and my knee--which I knocked out of place sometime earlier--was still where it should be today. So I guess her manipulations are helping. They're just ouchy.
Oh, and I get shoulder massages and lots of time in Mom's lap. That's pretty cool.
It's hard to understand why I can't jump around like I used to. I really want to. I want to leap off the porch with the big dogs and play in the swimming pool. Everyone keeps telling me to take it easy, but I have so much energy!!
I heard I may be getting a swimming pool to actually swim in, since the muscles in my leg need building up. I think they called it a 'horse trough'. I'll let you know.
Let's just dispense with the bad news. In the past 3 weeks of strict confinement and pain and anti-inflammatory medications, we've seen only a slight improvement in Ben's lameness.
Now, on to the good news. (And explain about the pink shirt)
Ben is still funny, begging to be released to romp, and we finally finished his pain medications which he hated and had to be poked down twice a day. So, what to do next?
I contacted a young lady who is a licensed chiropractor for both humans and animals and we discussed Ben and his history and possible outcomes if she treated him. We decided to try chiropractic treatment, and since she travels quite a bit with the animal side of her practice, and she was going to be in our town in a couple of days, we set up an appointment.
She and her associate actually came to the house. They watched Ben walk, videoed him in action, and did a thorough exam. She talked me through what she found and was going to do, and in a very short time, I had an adjusted corgi.
Here's the incredible part. Ben's only evidence of pain was when he turned his head too far to the right. His limit was at about a 45 degree angle. In no way could he turn his head farther without yelping in pain. When Dr. Evans finished Ben's treatment, she was instantly able to turn his head completely to either side. I can't tell you how amazing that was to watch!
She will see Ben again next week, and then we'll see where we go from there. It could take several treatments to get him back to normal. I'm just so happy for his initial progress.
However, his after-care calls for ice packs on his neck and back for 15 minutes every hour or so. If you think that's easy, please go try it on your very round, restless puppy. It's rather time consuming as well. Not that I begrudge Ben the time or treatment, but here's my solution (and the reason for Ben's new pink shirt):
The problem was keeping the ice pack from sliding around. So, I sewed a pocket into the back inside of an old tank top, and there you have it! I just slip the ice pack into the pocket and leave it for 15 minutes, then remove it, wait an hour and repeat.
We've had a great morning. I spent one ice-down time combing undercoat (he's really shedding), another just cuddling in my lap. He's now sleeping on the floor getting his treatment while I write this post. The shirt is doing its job well.
We're both very happy.
OK, Ben isn't impressed with the shirt, but he is tolerating it quite nicely.
Thanks to all who keep him in their thoughts and prayers.
Today's post is about Ben. It's been a while since I've posted here, and we've been pretty busy.
Ben is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, which means his little legs are quite short, though his bones are by no means 'miniature'. His back is also very long, which can predispose him to back issues.
Ben has always been an active dog. He bounces everywhere, from beating out the German Shepherds for thrown balls, to leaping into my arms (his trick, not mine. This sturdy guy can knock you down!). He can leap vertically 4 feet in the air from a standstill. Fortunately, he hasn't been able to put any horizontal moves with that particular stunt, or he'd be on the counter tops for sure.
A couple of months ago, we noticed he''d become quite the couch potato. Age? (He's only 6) Fed up with the boisterous German Shepherds? (they are rambunctious!) Just because he can and the others aren't allowed on the couch? (They're much too big). Everything else checked great. No change in appetite (ever met a corgi that turned down food?), very alert and playful when off the couch, loved one-on-one play and cuddles.
And then he began limping. Right front foot only. We assumed he'd taken a spill playing with the others. They aren't allowed completely unsupervised play, but there are times I'd step inside for something and Ben doesn't back down just because he's a third the other dogs' sizes.
Assuming it was a soft tissue injury- a strain or sprain- we treated conservatively. No amount of manipulating the leg or foot caused him obvious pain, so we ruled out a fracture. We noticed he was brighter, bouncier while on his medication, but he still limped. We tried for another round of meds, then X-rays when the limping didn't go away. We set up a trip to the local vet school, but had to cancel, and setting up a new one was weeks away. Then, Ben started showing signs of pain.
We're now 1 week into 4 weeks of strict confinement, treating a bulging disc. It could have happened any of a dozen ways, or he could have simply been predisposed to this sort of thing from the way he's built. He still wants to run and jump, so this has been really hard and you can't convince him of the consequences. He used to charge up and down the steps, but that's a huge no-no for him now, so I built him a ramp. He didn't like it at first, so I put tape on it to show him the edges, and he did better. I also put no-slip stickers on the wood between the slats (for bathtub and shower floors), and that has helped even more. He's becoming a pro.
He'll go back to the vet in 3 weeks for a recheck, and we pray he will have healed enough to keep on this regimen. If not, we're looking at a trip to the vet school for a surgical consult, and the outcome will be grim at that point.
We could use your prayers.
Things have been pretty busy here at the MacRae house. Two books within weeks of each other was a bit presumptuous of me over the holidays, but everything is on schedule, even if there have been a few late nights and at a couple of overflowing laundry baskets.
But, amid it all, we got the Christmas tree up--and have only lost 2 ornaments due to animal shenanigans, and the glittery poodle wasn't a popular ornament, anyway. The nephew and I baked cookies and I managed to send most of them home with him. I even attempted Christmas photos of the dogs, but getting all 4 of them to sit still was beyond my skill set--especially with the Mr. laughing instead of helping.
So, here are a few photos from Christmas 2015 at the MacRae house. Feel free to caption your favorite in the comments.
Blessings from our house to yours this holiday season.
I've been wanting to show how well our new boy is doing, but getting photos of Gunnar playing with Freki has been a bit of a challenge.
They play just fine, if a bit rambunctious, but the instant I step outside, they abandon their activities and come bounding up the steps, bringing me balls to throw. Freki brings the basketball, Gunnar loves the soccer ball, and Ben has fun with the Jolly Ball.
And taking photos through the storm door is a task for Photoshop as I'd rather filter out the noseprints on the glass.
So, here is a brief pictorial of how this works:
What is your dog's favorite game?
I have a feeling this is where Freki will spend her summer. Even in the evenings, when the house is cool and the ceiling fan spreads a gentle breeze through the house, Freki pants. And paces. And pants some more.
But she loves her pool. I would imagine she would have played in it during the snow if I had left it out. Ben used to love to break ice on the surface and yank it out, tossing it behind him so he could grab more of the cold stuff invading his pool.
Yesterday I emptied the pool, cleaned it and filled it with fresh water. Not that she cares. Within minutes silt begins settling again on the bottom of the pool as dirt washes off her muddy feet. Ben was the first in the pool after it was cleaned. He is a bit more fastidious about his water.
However, he did roll in the dirt after he jumped out of the pool. I suppose he imagined he was drying himself off. It got him another turn with the water hose and a bit of doggy shampoo, and later a stiff brushing. It is corgi shedding season. I have tried to photograph just what that means, but it is beyond the skills I possess. Imagine a dog version of a dandylion. Every time he shakes, hair 'poofs' off of him. Or perhaps, if you remember the Charlie Brown cartoons, Ben is a fur-shedding version of Pig Pen.
Freki fought with the water hose under water for several minutes before finally vanquishing her foe. She ran with the hose pouring water that danced about her until she finally dropped it. I would have gotten a photo, but I was laughing too hard.
She wound up with a bath, too, along with a good brushing. Her coat is very sleek and tight and shiny. I just love the way it feels.
Where were Dixie and Angus? With her heavy coat that is only just beginning to turn loose, Dixie is a house girl. Angus sat at the door, peering outside at the fun. Though he loves to chase the water droplets that run down the shower door or paw at a tiny stream of water from the faucet, I rather doubt he would have appreciated a swimming pool and two rowdy dogs.
However, I came home the other night to a tub with 4 inches of water, faucet running, and a wet cat. Stern measures have been taken to avoid this happening again.
Our winter is likely, ok, mostly over. It's mid-March, and unless something unexpected shows up (and we never say never), our two weeks of spring are here.
But before I start gardening, I thought I'd mention the corgis liked the snow almost as much as Freki did.
The snow was belly-deep, but they hardly noticed. And with Dixie's heavy coat, she was snuggly warm.
Good-bye, winter! Thanks for the memories!
No, we don't live in Florida, but while the Northeast endures more snow than anyone can remember, and the temperatures that go along with it, we are experiencing 70 degree weather.
I admit this is a bit unusual for us, but we will likely get snow and ice- in lesser amounts than in the NE- in February. That seems to be the pattern here.
But, in the meantime, Ben and Freki needed the swimming pool filled. After just a few rounds of 'chase ball', Freki was panting and even Ben gave the empty pool a longing look. Since the hose fell prey to Freki-boredom a few weeks ago (it was terribly old, patched in many places, and too stiff to coil, so it languished in the yard. Freki chewed it in half), I just filled the pool directly from the spout, which Ben likes, though Freki eyed the water stream with suspicion and decided to wait until it stopped
Ah, Freki doesn't fit in the pool as well as Ben does. She has grown so much! I suppose I will be looking for a larger pool this summer.
The game is to chase the ball, then run it through the pool before bringing it back to be tossed or kicked again. Sometimes she just runs through the pool, sometimes she drops it in the water and pretends to be a seal, chasing it around with her nose as it bobs on the surface.
I don't know why. I didn't create this game. But I am glad Ben chose not to do the same with the stuffed bear he prefers playing with!
All Adventures With Rezso After Christmas Angus The Cat Basketball Bath Bath Time Ben Best Toys Birthday Chiropractic Treatment Christmas Corgi Dixie Dog Training Flowers Freki Fun On The Farm Gardening German Shepherd Gunnar Happy Birthday Harvest Helper Jolly Ball Life With Dogs Life With Freki New Puppy Ninja Dog Obedience Class Odin's Wolves Pool Time Service Dog Snow Soccer #Sonicdrivein Spring Springtime Square Foot Garden Square-foot Garden Swimming Pool Then And Now Tracking Treats Water Games Winter Fun Wonderful Wednesday