Monday, March 17, 2014

Marching through Mud

I never got this dirty in Alabama!
It's that season we call 'early Spring' .... the time of year when you spot the first robin, observe daffodils pushing through the soil and exchange down parkas for canvas jackets.  In Minnesota we eventually experience all of those things, but first, we have to endure the season of mud.   Melted snow pools over the yet-frozen ground, potholes wreak havoco on your shock absorbers and sidewalks turn into skating rinks.   We won't see anything green for at least a month.   And for corgis, the season of mud is especially nasty.   Short legs and plump mid-sections are destined to drag the dirt wherever they travel.

All clean and shiney! 
After a brutally cold winter with far too few trips to the park, I was eager to get the puppies out for some exercise.  So last week, we made two trips to our  favorite dog park near the midtown  dam.   The first time wasn't bad. There were  a few puddles, but it's a large  area and most of it was still covered with compacted snow.  The puppies had a blast; especially Scarlett.   They ran with the Bassett Hounds, the Golden Retrievers and an assortment of mutts.   Scarlett practiced her herding skills and kept up with even the largest dogs.

You track it in .... you clean it up!
Three 45+ degree days later, we went again.   I should have known better.   The snow covered lawn had turned into something that resembled a freshly plowed cornfield.   I gave serious consideration to just leaving.  But there were other dogs there - a few, anyway - and their owners didn't seem to be too stressed.   And Scarlett was pulling at the end of her leash.   So we entered and against my better judgement, I turned them loose.  A large golden was begging Scarlett to give chase and she happily obliged, with Zakki in close pursuit.   Less than a minute later I knew my plans for a quiet evening at home had just been canceled.   It would be 'bath night'.   Soap, water and several large bath towels turned my blackened furballs into cuddly puppies once again.

We can't wait to go back to the dog park.  In May.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Handsome Boy!

I went to a craft show last weekend.     Bought Zak a tie.   It looks so cute on him that I just have to share it! I think he looks very dapper.

Zak is full of puppy playfulness, but when you take his picture, he gets pretty serious and it's hard to get a smile.   We are working hard on obedience these days and he is learning his commands.   He knows 'sit', 'stay', 'down' and 'come' very well.   With those essential ones mastered, we're starting to work on some more fun ones like 'shake' and 'roll over'.    He learned to roll over in about ten minutes.   I pushed him all the way over three times, then he went part way over twice on his own and I pushed him the rest of the way.   After that, he had it!    It's his favorite trick.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Six Months Old !!

Tomorrow will be the six month anniversary of Elvis' trip to the Rainbow Bridge.   We didn't know it at the time, of course, but as Elvis was leaving this world, another little boy-corgi was entering it.   Today is Zacchaeus' six-month birthday!   He was almost seven weeks old when I got him and weighed less than three pounds!   He was so tiny, so fragile and SUCH a baby.   And  he grew SO fast!   I remember how skinny he was at first.   I was afraid I wasn't feeding him enough and even asked our veterinarian about it.  She assured me he was right on track.   His little mid-section would fill out when he ate; then he'd take a nap and when he woke up he was thin again and noticably longer!   He was literally growing before my eyes!
October, 2013

January 28, 2014
Zak had several growth spurts when he just couldn't seem to get enough to eat!   He is now twenty pounds and almost as big as the girls!  He's happy, confident and affectionate.   He loves to play (especially with Scarlett) but he does have an 'off' button and when he's tired, he becomes a soft and cuddly snuggle bunny.    He lost his baby teeth several weeks ago and now has a beautiful set of pearly white adult teeth.    Zak loves to chew and a cardboard box is his favorite toy!!    Thank goodness for a good vacuum cleaner!

Zak is unphased by the brutally cold winter.   He loves to play in the snow.  He also has the same disgusting habit of eating 'poop-cicles' that most corgis in this climate do.   I'm not as diligent about picking up poop when it's -20 degrees as I should be, so suffice to say - he's had his share!   Thank goodness, he loves to have his teeth brushed!   That poultry flavored toothpaste has him completely fooled!

I think back to those early weeks and marvel at how quickly they went by!   Like a new Mom, I am a little sad that he grew so fast and wish I could cuddle that 4 lb bundle of fur just one more time!  But he is easier now.   He's house broken, he sleeps through the night (most of the time) and he's learning to mind.   I am excited for Spring and look forward to being outdoors more.   Unfortunately, that is still a couple months away!     

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baby, it's COLD outside!!!

 It is a classic January day in the Northern Plains.   The HIGH temperature today is supposed to be around -20 degrees (F) and that is NOT the windchill; it's the actual air temperature.   With windchills down in the -60 degree range, it's a weekend to stay home, make soup and play with the dogs!   They go potty pretty fast when it's this cold, and I give an extra measure of grace for an occasional accident!   I don't tie Princess up when she goes out, but even she is tied up when it's this cold.   She loves to go next door to my neighbors but sometimes they're not home and she'll stand on their back deck and patiently (or not-so-patiently) wait.   I can't have her doing that when it's this cold!

 We had a wonderful Christmas!   Due to Scarlett's illness in December we were not able to travel to Michigan as planned, but my brother came here for four days.   It was his first time to meet the puppies and he loved them (and vice versa).   Zak was all over him; somehow sensing that there was another guy to hang out with!   The four days that he was here were a temporary break from the sub-zero temperatures so we spent a lot of time outside.    It was good for body and soul! 

Zak in a Box

Scarlett is doing well.   She's off her medicine, and her blood will be re-checked in a month to determine if she has Von Willibrand's Disease.   If everything comes back normal, then we'll go with the assumption that she ingested some kind of poison, though we may never know what it was. 

Zak had his 'little boy' surgery on Friday which was kind of an emotional day for me, as I just hate to see him grow up!   He is 18-1/2 lbs now - a pound more than Princess weighed when I got her (at age 18 months).   He is only FIVE months old!   He's not overweight, but is solid and muscular - a very healthy boy.   The worst part of the surgery for him was not getting any breakfast on Friday.  He was MAD!!!  I made him scrambled eggs and boiled chicken that night so hopefully he has forgiven me!  I'm also hoping that is the last veterinary bill for a long while!    It's going to take a while to recover from 2013, but I have no regrets.   These dogs bring so much joy and they are worth every penny I spend on them.

Tim and Zak work on a plumbing project
As you can see, one is doing the work and the other is giving directions

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Miss Scarlett
One of the things I looked forward to all Fall was Scarlett and Zak's first experience in the snow.   Scarlett was sick when we got our first measurable snow; then I was sick and then it got bitterly cold - which, in this part of the world, means nights where the mercury drops to around - 20 degrees F and days where it never rises above zero.   So we've been a little slow to get out and play in the snow but this past week we finally did.

Zak doing the bunny hop
Scarlett and Zak love the snow!!   With their short little legs and long backs, they have to propel themselves by pushing up with their back legs and then taking a flying leap forward.   Scarlett was doing this so gracefully yesterday that it almost looked like she was in slow motion.    They love to stick their faces way down in a snow bank (brrr ...!!) and discover what treasures might by there (like a frozen 'poopcycle' or a bit of a pizza crust!)

Running through the snow helps develop good strong back muscles.   The breeder I got Scarlett from said she disliked the heat but never minded the cold.   Of course 'cold' is a relative term and means something entirely different in Alabama than it does here, but she really does seem to be in her element.   Just like Princess and Dee Dee used to do, she will stand on three legs and alternately lift the fourth leg off the pavement for a brief warm up!   With another week to go before it is officially 'winter', it is starting out as a very cold and snowy one.
Scarlett and Zak LOVE the snow!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Reason for Thanksgiving

I enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving weekend at home with the 'kids'.   I detest Black Friday shopping and I had a bad cold anyway, so I got my Christmas decorating done, worked on my Christmas cards and played with the dogs.   After a busy Fall, it was nice to have four days to hang out together.

There is a saying that 'the squeaky wheel gets the oil'.   I have experienced the truth of that this Fall with the dogs.   As a young puppy, Zak is very cute and equally demanding.   The boy always seems to want something - to go outside, play, eat or be cuddled.    Princess isn't as demanding but she's old and has quite a bit of back pain.   She has always been an absolute stinker about taking pills and she takes several now (Rimadyl, Tramadol and Chondroglucosamine).   It can take up to a half hour to get them down and with the Tramadol I literally open her mouth, tilt her head back as far as I can and DROP the pill down her throat.   There's just no other way. Her world has been rocked with the presence of the new puppies and I've probably gone overboard to make sure she doesn't feel displaced.

That leaves Scarlett - the proverbial 'middle child' - the one who gets ignored; not intentionally, but because the other two take so much time and also because she is such a good girl  She is always content and never fusses.   She's also been a little harder to housebreak, and because of that, has spent more time in her kennel.   We just didn't bond as quickly as Zak and I did.

That all changed last weekend.

On Sunday afternoon I took the dogs to the park.   It's a park we go to frequently and they ran and chased the Frisbee like they always do.   We came home, they had supper and about 6:30 Scarlett needed to go outside.   She wasn't out long and seemed fine when she came in.   But about a minute after going to her kennel, she threw up.   A LOT.   It was just her supper though, and I didn't think anything of it.    I went to the kitchen to get some rags to clean it up and was gone less than 30 seconds.   When I came back, Scarlett had collapsed and was lying on her side, completely unresponsive!   She was leaking some bodily fluids but not seizing.  I grabbed her and she was limp.   Trying not to panic but not sure what I was seeing, I called my neighbors, Mike and Gina.   Mike met me in the yard and we jumped into his pickup to go to the Red River Animal Emergency Clinic in Fargo (which we couldn't find at first).    Scarlett was taking short, shallow breaths and I could detect a faint pulse.   Gina  called ahead to tell them we were coming and they met us at the door and whisked her back to an exam room where they immediately started her on oxygen and IV fluids. 

The next hurdle was to try and figure out what had happened to her.  It seemed clear that she had ingested some kind of poison - but what???  Her PT and PTT (measuring clotting time) were extremely low, suggesting rodenticide.     I don't have mouse poison around my house and neither does my neighbor, but there was the possibility that she'd gotten into it someplace else.   Scarlett was started on plasma until she could have several injections of Vitamin K.   She remained 'critical but stable' over the next 36 hours.   She was transferred to Prairie Winds on Monday,  where she had more tests and Dr. Wisnewski consulted with a toxicologist.   The mystery deepened when they discovered her liver was severely toxic as this is not typical of  rodenticide.  Did I drop a cold tablet (with Tylenol) that she ingested?   Possibly, but not likely, since cold tablets are in blister packs and I didn't find anything like that on the floor.   Nothing was making sense and we may never know for sure what happened.   Finally, on Tuesday afternoon she began to show signs of improvement and her blood work normalized.   She got to come home that night and Zak literally jumped up and down on all fours and slathered her with puppy kisses when he saw her!   He missed her so much! 

I worked partial days this week, so that I could keep an eye on her and stay on top of her medications.   I've only had her two months and while this isn't the way I would have chosen to bond with her, it's the way it happened.   I've enjoyed just holding her and she is getting stronger every day.   She'll be on a special diet for a few weeks and have her blood work rechecked at that time.

One of the hard things in a pet emergency is the series of financial decisions you are forced to make at a time when you're stressed and emotionally distraught.    When you walk in the door of the Red River Animal Emergency Clinic you put down a $500 deposit, plus another $400 for intubation.    And that is just the start.   Lab work, overnight monitoring, plasma  .... it all adds up very quickly.   You don't want to have to make such hard decisions, but you have no choice.   I had to call my financial advisor on Monday afternoon, and he was extremely helpful.   I've looked at pet insurance but for three dogs it is very expensive and I've never sprung for it.   It certainly would have been nice this week!   There are also special charities like CorgiAid and CorgiPals that help with catastrophic veterinary bills.  These are difficult and unpleasant realities that must be faced, and things such as prognosis, age of the dog and your own financial situation all factor in.  In the end, I decided to 'go for broke' and am very glad that I did.  Scarlett is almost back to normal and the experience has deepened our bond and my love for her. 

I am so very, very grateful to the Fargo Emergency Veterinary Clinic (Dr. Stegman and Dr. Kramer) and Prairie Winds Veterinary Center (Dr. Alicia Wisnewski and her outstanding staff of vet-techs) for saving my sweet Scarlett's life.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Finding our Rhythm

I have now had Scarlett for six weeks and Zak for eight. We are finding our rhythm. Mornings start early (before 6:00) and I have tried to build in enough flexibility for a couple of hiccups. We generally have them. There have been days when I've slid into my car, taken a deep breath and burst into tears because I'm so exhausted. But those days are fewer and farther between now, the puppies know what they're supposed to do when I let them out (and usually do it) and if I'm lucky, I even have time to sit down and watch a few minutes of GMA while I eat my bowl of cereal.

Zak is now 3-1/2 months and growing like a weed. He started puppy kindergarten this past week and we met another corgi there who came from the same breeder. She is just two days younger than him, but just half his size! Butters is 6 lbs and Zak is 12! Her mother is smaller than Zak's, and males are larger anyway.  Still, the contrast was striking. Zak was the star pupil this week, sitting quietly on my lap while most of the other puppies were barking. He was a little taken aback by it all. He barks plenty at home! He is into all kinds of puppy mischief; you name it and Zak has done it (or at least tried it). He is too smart for his own good sometimes. He is very good at problem solving.   He has many hiding places in the house and will run to whichever one is closest when he's in trouble. He learned how to poop outside his kennel. He just puts his little butt up against the edge and it lands outside, on the floor! No messy kennel! One night last week I was in the basement, putting clothes in the drier when I heard Zak yelp! I ran up the stairs in time to see Princess slinking off with her head down and ears straight out to the side. I can pretty well imagine what happened. Zak was trying to get her to play with him and she had enough! He has respected her space since then.

Scarlett is in Beginning Obedience class and learning all of the basic commands like "come", "sit", "stay", "down" and "heel". She's doing very well and loves the one-on-one time with me. She is a sweetheart and as long as I give her plenty of playtime each day, she is a very content and happy girl.
I took Princess to the vet in Casselton yesterday for her annual check up and to have a heart-to-heart with the doctor about her overall condition. Other than pretty severe back pain, she isn't doing too badly. Heart, lungs, teeth, eyes all looked good. She has cataracts but they're not severe. The huge fatty tumors on her side, while not attractive, are not pushing on any vital organs or nerves. But we do have to get on top of the back pain. She has trouble pooping - but it's not a digestive problem; the doctor thinks it's because her back hurts. So she is now on two pain medications twice a day, and will be for the rest of her life. They are commonly used in elderly dogs and that's certainly the stage of life she is in. She sleeps a lot and is always read for a car ride. She sleeps with me, but has been willing to allow Zak on the bed. She lies against my legs, and he's up by my head. Scarlett prefers her kennel. It all works out.

We're still waiting for our first snow of the season. I'm in no particular hurry for it, but I am looking forward to seeing how Scarlett and Zak react to it. It will be new to both of them. That will be my next post.