Wonderful Wednesday Personal Blog
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.
Freki had fun.
A good friend lives on several hundred acres and this huge pond is so pretty and clear, that Freki didn't waste any time at all getting her paws wet.
She will bring the stick back, but drops it as she passes me with a glance over her shoulder as if to say, "There it is, toss it again." Retriever, she is not.
My friend also has chickens on her farm that wander loose during the day. Freki was not enchanted with them. In fact, she was certain they were zombie chickens and should be scared away. Unfortunately, they didn't understand dogs are higher up the food chain than they are, and we finally corralled the chickens into a fenced area behind the barn-- with the help of a bit of chicken feed.
Here are some more photos of Freki and her fun-filled day on the farm.
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.
Well, the greenhouse is empty, and the garden is full.
Last year we built two raised gardens, each 4'X8'. We had torrential rains that spring, and we believe the 'good' stuff leached out of the carefully prepared soil. We had moderate success.
This year, I've mixed plenty of compost from a variety of sources into the soil. I also started seedlings in the greenhouse (I wouldn't even care to imagine the fun Angus the Cat would have had with the seedlings and their pots of wonderful soil had I attempted this in the house), and did my best to get everything in the ground on time.
After rearranging the soaker hose, the lettuce plants went in, followed by the tomatoes and peppers. You can see the lavender and sage, both with lovely purple flowers, and catnip that survived the winter. The onions and garlic went in several weeks earlier, though it's hard to see them in these photos. In an attempt to save the lettuce from the hot sun, I rigged a bit of a tarp overhead.
The tomato seedlings did very well, and I planted 5 in the garden on the right, then put 3 more in pots just because I couldn't stand to toss them out. They're starting to perk up after the transplanting. The largest tomato plants have flowers and the tiniest tomatoes on them!
I added marigolds in and around the garden, as well as a cluster of sunflowers on the far end of the garden. Everything is changing so fast! I love this time of year!
I love to see plants come up in the garden. This year I planted a lot of seeds and started them in the greenhouse, hoping for a nice head-start to my gardening venture. To my delight, most of them sprouted and grew nicely.
But when it came time to plant them in the garden, I realized two things. 1) I had planted too much lettuce for the space I'd alloted, and 2) summertime comes quickly here, and they'll soon begin wilting in the heat.
My solution? A bit of an experiment, really. I wanted to try growing the lettuce plants indoors, as effectively as possible, and without soil.
This is what I came up with. Each plastic tub has a water/fertilizer mixture in it. I'm mixing a couple of fertilizers, so I'll let you know how they work. The plants in the tub to the right are in cups with orchid mix to help support them. There are holes in the cups so the water gets in and the roots can grow through.
The tub on the left has much smaller holes and no cups. The plants go directly into the water beneath the lid. I stretched a piece of plastic wrap across the top to help support the plants until they get big enough to not fall through the holes in the lid.
In each tub there is an aerator from an aquarium with a single pump powering both. This should help keep the water aerated and from becoming a stagnant mess.
Each lettuce plant had only two leaves when I 'planted' them a bit over a week ago. Can you see how much they've grown? I placed a grow lamp above them, and they seem to be doing quite well in my cobbled together experiment. Any suggestions for a set-up like this?
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.
Is there a better notice that Spring is near than sweet daffodil faces? Last fall I planted a variety of daffodils. Our winter was so mild, they started blooming several weeks ago.
Lots of flowers I consider annuals survived the winter. Petunias have greened up and are blooming their heads off. The gerber daisies decided to winter over, and the purple one is in full bloom, while the yellow one is lagging a bit behind.
Every day, actually, every moment in the garden brings something new. The basil and lettuces in the little greenhouse are coming along nicely, and the tomato plants will go out in a few days. The lilac bush has leaves AND flower buds. I LOVE lilacs! The roses have put out new shoots and even the hydrangeas have tiny leaves beginning to sprout on their limbs. I have to admit this is my favorite time of year.
Today's project was to help correct a drainage/erosion issue near the front porch. The land slopes and allows soil to wash from the front yard, across the driveway, and into the carport where it settles in a muddy swamp to navigate on our way to the cars.
My thought was to put gardening trim along the edge of the driveway, then I filled it in with top soil and planted ajuga. They won't grow very tall (except the flower stalks, and that's fine with me), and will be very traffic hardy once established. Here's before and after:
The ajuga will spread quickly and fill in the space, and should hold back the soil that washes downhill. I'll try something similar a bit uphill to minimize the erosion. Right now, I think I need to find a couple of stepping stones to help navigate the path.
It's the beginning of March, and I pulled the swimming pool out today. Granted, it is a lovely, sunny day, and the high will be around 70, though the dogs were panting when it hit 55 this morning, but it seems odd to have the pool out while the grass hasn't made much of an appearance yet.
But the dogs loved it!
As I watered the plants this morning, Freki kept playing in the water spray. So, she rather talked me into pulling the pool out of storage. I am now responsible for keeping it clean(ish)-- I mean, really, it's muddy 5 seconds after I wash it out-- and filled. Spring is here.
The calendar says it's February 21. We're likely to have cold temps, ice, and/or snow next month. But if you ask the flowers, it's spring.
I planted a variety of daffodils last fall, and two of them are open. Others have fat buds getting ready to burst open, and I'll collect their photos as they bloom.
Last weekend, I spread compost over the garden area to take advantage of the (hopefully) rain we're supposed to receive this week. I've planted red onions and garlic in the bed already, and will start some seedlings this week.
Here are a few signs of spring at my house:
Gerber daisy (such a mild winter, they survived. I will trim the dead leaves once I'm sure winter is over. Right now, they're insulating the plant)
Oh, and dog hair. If the dogs are shedding, is the cold weather over?
(And Freki's already been to Sonic for ice cream. She says it's never too cold for that. She also keeps eyeing the swimming pool, but I think that's rushing things a bit.)
What, if any, signs are you seeing at your house that Spring isn't far away?
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