|My oldest had a few of her senior photos taken with our dogs; Hannibal the Cannibal in the first and then Stormy giving smooches. And, in the last photo, Hanni wearing one of his many doggy coats--he's very dapper!|
|Our kitties!!! My boy, Skimby, is our senior citizens. I'm afraid a sad day is coming with him.|
This week’s blog post is about my girl Storm who has been with us since July 2007—three days after our dog, Star, an Australian Blue Heeler/Labrador cross left us after a sudden illness. Heartbroken and hurting from her death, I told my husband I didn’t want another dog because the pain from losing her was too much. I couldn’t put myself through it again. And then I gave in because the loneliness was worse. Star fit in so well with our family and I had been her chosen human. She was the smartest dog we’d ever been around. How many can say their puppy housebroke in just three days at nine week’s old? Star did and she was quick to learn so many other things. She also had a wonderful demeanor with children. She was a mother hen. For that reason, we hoped to find another Blue Heeler mix. My husband, not one to let us down, called all the regional shelters and struck gold on his last call. He’d gotten the number to Four Paws (a no-kill shelter) from the Elmira SPCA. They had three pups left from a litter of ten week-old Blue Heeler/German Shepherd puppies; a male and two females. I told him I couldn’t go with them to pick a puppy out, telling him I’d want them all. Analyzing it, I think it boils down to me feeling as if I wasn’t honoring Star’s memory long enough and that, by picking out a new puppy, I wasn’t mourning her in a timely tribute. I don’t know what it was. At any rate, my husband shrugged it off and took both of our daughters and my mother with him. My mom adored Star. Since she babysat our girls after work and school until my husband or I got home, she spent a lot of time with her. I guess you could say my mom was one of Star’s humans, too. She went crazy when my mom visited. Would tear up the living room in this celebratory dance when my mom walked in the door. Seriously. Back to my story, the four of them returned home to tell me they had a female on hold for a few hours and they wanted me to see her before the adoption was completed. We knew we wanted a female so I asked them how they decided between the two sisters. It was all rather scientific. Sydney, who was eleven at the time, said she took a seat on the ground as the pups ran around them. One of the two females kept coming up to her and licking her face. Star wasn’t a licker. Syd wanted puppy kisses and so a pup was picked out. I still declined to return with them, but agreed that puppy kisses would be nice.
|Marvel Comics' Storm/Aurora Monroe. Photo fromhttp://static.comicvine.com/omicvine.com/|
Once we were home, I uncovered her and was shocked that this skin and bones puppy was still alive. A patch of fur had been shaved off to allow for her IV. Probably against all sorts of health rules, I held her against me, tucking her under my chin and kissing her, talking to her about how much we wanted her to get better. I was a blubbering mess. I boiled boneless skinless chicken breast and made plain rice for her. Mixed it together in a small portion. She wouldn’t even take the time to give it a cursory sniff. Two hours later, still nothing. Not even a drink of water. That’s when I decided to fry some hamburger for her. Once it was done, I rinsed it off in the sink using a strainer. I added it to her food dish before taking a pinch of it and opened her jowls to put it on her tongue. She squirmed and lolled her tongue back and forth. I wouldn’t let her spit it out. Finally, she swallowed it. I gave her a moment and then did it again. And again. I sat her down in front of her dish and watched her take to her wobbly legs to sniff the hamburger. And then, she started eating it. I wasn’t quick to get my hopes up. I knew they said the true test would be to see if she could keep it down and then the next would be to see if her stool had changed from watery to solid. As the day went on, I gave her a tablespoon of hamburger every few hours with no bouts of vomiting. By the next day, she was more alert and active as her coordination and strength seemed to be returning. All signs of diarrhea seemed to be gone as well. By the third day, she had rounded the corner into recovery. Storm survived Parvovirus!! Within two weeks, she gained weight and grew taller. She was a happy puppy in love with her home and her family.
On the morning of my youngest daughter’s eighth birthday, tragedy hit. While Kenzie was carrying her, like a baby, Storm had playfully bit at her face and Kenzie dropped her on our concrete walkway. The sound was loud and distinct. It was obvious to all in the vicinity that her front leg was broken. My husband called our vet’s answering service. Dr. Wilcox was interrupted during his Sunday morning at church and returned our call. He was distraught over hearing about the latest turn of events for Storm and told my husband to bring her in and they would open the office for her. His son, Dr. Andy, examined her and consulted x-rays. The fall had, indeed, broken both ulna and radius bones in her front left leg. My husband called home with the news. I was worried they would want to put her down and was insistent that we do everything we could for her. She’d been through so much already. Dr. Andy reassured us that he was determined not to let that happen. He felt they were clean breaks and set them. She came home in a paw to elbow cast that weighed more than she did. A week later, we took her back for a new cast. Puppies grow quickly and putting on new casts would accommodate growth spirts. We did this one other time and, within four weeks, she was x-rayed and her bones were perfectly healed. Thank you, Dr. Andy!!!
Even with her shaky start, Storm can run like the wind. She turns up the dust in our fenced in backyard as she completes her “guard duty” tours as protector of our family. Despite having a collar with clanking tags hanging from it, she has managed to catch and kill nine birds—she’s THAT fast. At seven, almost eight years old, she has slowed down quite a bit. She’ll get stiff at night after a particularly active day running around with Hannibal and playing chase. All in all, our middle-aged girl still has it.
|Storm, in various stages, catching up on|
her sleep at home after her surgery and
My husband and I made the 25 minute commute to pick her up. It was difficult keeping tears from falling as the vet tech brought her out to us. I hate how emotional I get! Storm was soooo ready to go home. The first thing she did when she greeted me? Yup. Her tongue swiped my cheek. I love those puppy kisses! The vet tech told us that Storm refused to eat her soft dog food this morning and it was important she got it since her pain medication and antibiotic were mixed in with it. She put it in a doggy bag to send home with us. I wasn’t surprised to hear she wouldn’t eat for them. My hunger strike girl. Once we arrived home, I took her for a walk on the leash so she could piddle. I have a feeling she had been holding it for a long time. Probably didn’t want to have an “accident” in her kennel at the clinic since she never messes in the house. I brought her inside and Hanni went ballistic over being reunited with his aunt. I put her doggy bag of food on a paper plate, showed it to her, and she ate it right up—pills and all. Just as I’d told the vet tech, she wanted her human mommy.
|L to R: The dreaded Cone of Shame, her mammary tumor scar, her sternum scar. Lots of boo-boos.|
She goes back in fourteen days to have her sutures removed. We chose to have samples sent out for histology testing. It will take seven to ten days for results. My husband and I want to know what type of cancer cell we’re dealing with. It will help us make decisions down the road. While we will do what we can to give our girl a full life, we are of the mindset that, at a certain point, you have to consider quality of life. We wouldn’t want to do anything to her that would make her suffer just to give us more time with her. That would be selfish. For now, x-rays reveal she has no troubling spots near her major organs and she is full of energy. Let’s hope we have many more years together!