Category Archives: The Pack

COMING UP FOR AIR

 “KEEPING THE FAITH”

I’ve decided that I’m ready to, “Come up for air”.

Recently I received an email from wordpress; it detailed the performance from The Border Collie Inquisitor for 2014. The results were gratifying. This would be the motivator I’d need to start writing again.  I’ve deeply missed the connection with the readership.

Allow me to briefly explain my absence.

My family and I recently suffered nearly insurmountable losses. Losing (4) of our beloved dogs last year took its toll.

I found the courage to write about our Epic, she was our first loss in January, https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/2014/01/02/game-of-bones/

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March came in like a Lion and our old and faithful Scout was gone.                https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/2014/02/26/the-pack-part-2/

Scout

No sooner had we started to get ourselves settled into the new pack order my side kick Deja Blue aka Boo was diagnosed with liver cancer. Her diagnosis hit me like a violent tornado as it made its first initial powerful punch. We sat in the eye of the storm, treasuring every moment we had left until August when the eye wall unmercifully hit with vehement intensity and we lost of Boo. I’ve not yet found the courage to tell her story. Even now I pause to sob.

Deja

The final chapter in October was our Tulley, https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/category/mean-dog/   diagnosed with lymphoma; this had to be a bad dream. How and where would I ever find the strength, I was, at that time, completely and utterly broken. How was I going to break this news to my husband? Tulley was after all, his constant companion. I would somehow find the faith.  I took a deep breath, pulled myself together determined to rid this cancer from Tulley’s body.                                                                    https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/2014/10/16/chemotherapy/    https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/2014/10/25/chemotherapy-2/             https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/2014/11/24/precious_moments/

Sadly determination and reality collided and just a week before Christmas and Tulley could fight no more.

Beautiful Tulley

I so appreciate my co-writer and dear friend Lisa for posting a final farewell.    https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/2014/12/16/farewell-sweet-tulley/

Time is powerful, it moves along with no regard or limits, so we’ll take all of the time that we need. Grief is a process; it goes its own way, and in its own time. It’s the little things, the day to day interactions when we mostly feel their loss.

The Quakers have a saying, “if you love, you will suffer, and it is worth it.”

A friend recently thanked my husband for helping to house a dog at his shelter for 17 months until a special loving home was found.

“Thank you for keeping the faith,” George stated. So profound I thought these three words. And so we will, “Keep the Faith.”

Many thanks to all, your love and support has carried us through.

“Godspeed to our beloved Epic, Scout, Deja and Tulley”.

Scout4

“After the tears, there will be a rainbow.”                                                                                                                                                   Terri Florentino

Farewell, Sweet Tulley

Tulley 2014In sadness and sympathy we let you know that Tulley crossed the Rainbow Bridge today.

Readers know him as the “mean dog” in our “Mean Dog” series, but Ed and Terri knew him as a dear friend and family member for a good many long and happy years.

Echo and Tulley, a few days ago.

He was a very good boy. He’ll be missed not only by his people, but by his pack. The family has suffered some hard losses of late. Our heartfelt condolences go out to them all.

The pack

Pictured left to right – Meg, Deja, Echo, Wyn, Tulley and Scout.

 

Tulley and Life’s Precious Moments – Living with Lymphoma

TULLEY and LIFE’S PRECIOUS MOMENTS

Tulley’s had a busy month. Our goal has always been to make sure that his good quality of life never wavers. We were thrilled when his most recent bloodwork was perfect. He was far from anemic so we decided to administer another round of chemo. As before a few days post chemo he had a couple days of feeling nauseous so we administered antiemetic medication, which helped. The days that he was inappetent I would mix meat flavored baby food with liquid Pediasure and feed him through an oral syringe. He never minded the shake; in fact I think he enjoyed it. We did find a brand of food and treats made by Orijen that he really likes so the cupboard is well stocked.

It was the last weekend in October when Tulley escorted Ed, Mirk, and me to Maryland for a sheepherding competition. We packed up the truck first thing in the morning and got on our way. We anticipated about a 4 hour drive and wanted to be south of the DC area before the evening rush hour. Other than the usual traffic delays the trip was pleasantly uneventful. As we neared our location and drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge it was a pleasure watching both dogs window surfing while taking in the ocean air. Tulley8

Our hotel was located in an area known as Kent Narrows. The Narrows channel barely separates Kent Island from the mainland. The region is rich with history, beautiful nature preserves and spectacular restaurants. We arrived late afternoon and checked into our room. Once the dogs were walked and the truck unloaded we headed across the street from our hotel to admire the beautiful water view and have a nice seafood dinner.

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The following morning we were up and out early, Mirk and I were entered to compete twice. The weather was fair, there was a little chill in the air in the morning but by the afternoon the sun came out so brilliant and warm. The trial was held at the beautiful Long Shot Farm in Church Hill, hosted by Sherry and Dave Smith. Sherry made a beef stew for lunch which was absolutely delicious, so much so that Tulley decided that was what he wanted to eat. I was so relieved that we finally found something that Tulley really enjoyed and ate readily. Mirk and I finished up our runs, both respectable runs but not good enough to finish in the ribbons. I wasn’t disappointed, Mirk did a great job. Tulley6

Truthfully I felt like we had already won when Tulley ravenously ate so much of Sherry’s stew. As we were packing and getting ready to go, we went to say goodbye to everyone and thank Sherry and Dave for their hospitality. Sherry handed me a large container full of the stew for Tulley.  Her kind gesture meant so much more than she could ever imagine, I couldn’t thank her enough. We headed back to our hotel to get some rest; we’d be heading home in the morning.

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I take Tulley to work with me as often as I can; he loves riding in the truck. There are always plenty of people wanting to feed him. Barb always makes sure she has lots of beef treats for him every time she walks into my office. On occasion Dr. Lagana will return from her lunch with a yummy cheeseburger and the bank drive-thru always keeps an adequate supply of biscuits on hand. He really enjoys being outside, getting some fresh air and playing a game of fetch. There are never a shortage of other dogs to play with and a fenced yard at the hospital so we go out as often as my time permits.  The hospital cats are also a form of amusement to Tulley; he’ll chase them whenever the opportunity presents itself. Of course I make every effort to deter that behavior.EchoTulley

Recently a package arrived in the mail for Tulley and he was thrilled—it was like Christmas morning! As I put the box on the floor Tulley hovered over it with anticipation. As I tore back the packaging tape and opened the top he promptly stuck his head into the box and promptly rooted through each item removing the contents one by one.  In the midst of his rummaging he found an awesome squeaky sock monkey, pulled it out of the box and promptly took off running into the living room, squeaking it all the while. We can’t thank Karen, Jim, Morgan and Wyatt enough for making Tulley’s day and ours as well. We cherish every moment.

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The weather this fall has been beautiful. Tulley enjoys spending the nice days outside with Ed while he clears the leaves, stacks wood, and prepares for winter. We delight in watching Tulley so carefree, jumping in a pile of leaves and bouncing around like a rabbit. He’s also always on guard making sure that the local herd deer stay off of his yard. Echo’s always nearby as well; she and Tulley are nearly inseparable. They truly are the, “cutest couple,”Tulley5

So for now we’ll continue to take it day by day and make sure that Tulley is enjoying each and every moment.

CHEMOTHERAPY

TULLEY’S FIRST TREATMENT

A week has passed since Tulley received his first chemo treatment and his response has been fair. The use of prednisolone has decreased the size of his lymph nodes. Overall he’s had a bit more kick in his step but that varies from day to day. He takes medication daily to ease his upset stomach and suppress vomiting, sadly its not 100% effective. His appetite is also remarkably decreased. He’s turned his nose up to eggs, liver, chicken and beef. Of all things he prefers peanut butter on sourdough bread. Currently I feel his condition is guarded.

My husband and I believe that the quality of his life is whats most important.

We’d like thank all of the staff at the Abington Veterinary Center for taking such good care of Tulley and all of you for keeping him in your thoughts and prayers.

Chemotherapy

TULLEY

There are so few words, the diagnosis, Lymphoma. First chemotherapy treatment tomorrow. Please share any personal experiences. Updates to follow.

Here is Tulley’s rescue story.   https://bordercollieinquisitor.com/category/mean-dog/

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The Pack, Part 6

Home At Last

I received an email—Rich and Wendy were interested in adopting Scout. This would be the third Border collie they acquired from Ed and me over the course of 12 years. If anyone could handle her it was Rich and Wendy. They wanted her to come and spend some time with them, their two cats and Border collie, Willow.

That evening I’d have to prepare my husband. Continue reading

The Pack, Part 5

 The Renegotiation

A couple of weeks had passed. Scout’s game, as I saw it, was to resource guard not only whatever she held in high value, (i.e. a plastic bag or paper towels of all things), but also space and certain people. She knew exactly how to get whatever she wanted. And yet, she could be the most affectionate and lovable pup, as long as it was on her terms. We needed to renegotiate those terms.

As time went on we’d made some progress. Now, in lieu of biting, she’ll give up whatever’s in her mouth with only a brief display of her teeth. Ideally my goal is “no lip” from the little lady. Along with Mirk and Echo she would come to my office with me. The privilege of being able to hang out in the office was immediately revoked as soon as she started inappropriately chewing or rooting through the trash. While I’m working on financials, I don’t appreciate a game of tug o’ war for a banana peel. Continue reading

The Pack, Part 4

“Shame on you!”

I loaded Scout into my truck for the ride home. She willingly jumped into the crate and made herself comfortable. (It’s always helpful when a dog is crate trained, I thought). As we made our way onto the highway she started barking. Vehicles following behind us made her uneasy. I requested Scout to “quiet,” and Continue reading

Her Name is What?

The Pack, Part 3

A fellow rescuer emailed me about a nine-month-old female border collie. “She’s too much for the owner to handle,” Linda wrote. “If someone doesn’t take her she’ll be dropped off to a shelter in the morning.” Continue reading

The Pack, Part 2

“God’s Finger Touched him, and he slept.”

                (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

At 4 am, I heard Scout barking. Now at a frail sixteen years of age his bark was soft and raspy, but I always had an ear open should he need me. He must need to go out, I thought. But wait, he’s gone. Just yesterday he crossed over the rainbow bridge. I lay there in bed in the dark in the awful silence with my eyes welling up. I felt that gut-wrenching feeling, my anguish still as raw as an exposed nerve. How could my mind play such a cruel trick?  I took a deep breath, dried my tears, and closed my eyes. Never mind my sorrow–I wanted to hear his bark, just one more time, so I laid very still, hoping my mind would play that trick again.

The pack had been making adjustments with Epic being gone and now Scout.Scout1

He was a rescue from a puppy mill, the best family pet. We dabbled a little bit in various dog sports. Scout’s favorite part of agility was leaving. In obedience class he preferred to hide underneath of a table, and rather than herding sheep he gave it his all to befriend them. His job, as he saw it, was to remind me that it was time for the kids to come home from school. I would let him out the front door, he would wander to the end of our property, position himself at the top of our private road so when the bus pulled up he would meet the kids and escort them home.

He felt the need to be helpful with all children, not just my own.

He and I were down at the lake one day enjoying a hot and sunny day when he heard two very young girls screaming. He ran immediately to them. They were standing in the water up to their waist pointing towards a sandal that had floated out to the deep water. Scout spotted the sandal, swam out, and retrieved it. Once on land he dropped it out of his mouth, giving it back to the girls. They were so amused; they giggled and laughed, picked up the sandal and threw it back in the water for Scout to fetch again.

He never liked to be doted on; however, much to his chagrin, brushing and bathing was not always an option. He was low maintenance, no fuss, no muss, always content.

Scout was the mayor of the pack. He would be the first of my dogs to greet any rescue that I would bring home. He was an extremely good judge of character and helped me a great deal with guiding and training the foster dogs. I had just brought home a German shepherd mix from the shelter at the same time I let Scout go. Foxy, relinquished as a stray, would cower in the corner of her kennel, snarling everyone away. He would have adored her gentle nature but would have taught her that growling at visitors coming into my home was not appropriate.

Even while grieving Scout’s absence I had to work with Foxy, I owed her that. Regardless, she’s coming around. Her adoring wiggly body and happy face has certainly been a pleasant distraction. Scout

I recently filled the dogs’ box with new toys. Tulley was convinced they were all for him. He would gather as many in he could into a nice neat pile and growl away any of the dogs that he thought might attempt to steal his treasures. Mirk got so frustrated with the constant tension he started to growl back at Tulley. The conflict escalated to a full-blown out-and-out knock-down, drag- out. Fortunately my husband and I were able to end the clash as quickly as it started with nothing more than bruised egos.

This episode would never have happened on Scout’s watch. He was the pack guardian; his motto, “Say No To Violence.” As soon as there was any discussion between the dogs that might possibility escalate, he would jump in between the two antagonists stand tall, growl, and order them to go lie down. Since I no longer had Scout to do the policing, I had to slip on my “trainer” hat and manage the problem.

I’m not sure I even realized what an essential role Scout played in both of our lives until I nearly lost him to a bout of pancreatitis nearly a year earlier, then a few months later to old-dog vestibular syndrome. The thought of Scout not being a part of my day to day was unfathomable. He took care of my family and I for so many years, life without him was not an option. With the pancreatitis he was so weak. I cooked chicken and rice, begged him to eat and willed him to live. He pulled through, I suspect in attempt to please me. The vestibular syndrome robbed him of his balance. His eyes bobbled back and forth like a pendulum in a clock. Again he could not walk, eat or drink on his own. Once again I was determined to save him. I carried him everywhere; hand fed him, and administered subcutaneous fluids. Friends and family gently planted the seed that it might be time to let him go. No, I wouldn’t hear of it! As before, I willed him back and so as not to disappoint me he came around.

He had become increasingly weak and tired. He had little strength left in his back end and most of the muscle on his body had wasted away. When round three came, this time I knew I couldn’t make better. The veterinarian prescribed a low dose of steroids, the beginning of the end, I knew, but it was nearly Christmas. Surely we could have one more holiday together, and so we did. January came and went and Scout was getting increasingly weaker. By February, I was carrying him up and down the steps, in and out, and he was only eating whatever I would cook special for him. Much to his displeasure I gave him more baths in a month than I think he had in nearly his entire lifetime.Scout2

I came home from work one day to find him off his bed, lying on the concrete floor in his own waste. He barely picked his head up to look at me as I scooped his feeble body off of the floor and gently placed him into the tub. As I washed and rinsed his old frail body, I knew he was tired. He had enough. Ironically I had just had a conversation with a friend the day before. She had to let her dog go and wondered if she had done the right thing.

“I’m not sure that letting Wallace go was the right thing to do,” Ellen sobbed. “He had no quality of life, his dignity was gone. Is that how you would have wanted to live?” I reassured Ellen that she had made the best decision she could for her beloved Wallace.

As I washed Scout off in the tub my own words spoken just the day before played through my mind over and over. “I would not want to live this way.”

The next morning I took Scout to our veterinarian, assured him I would be okay, and that it was all right to rest easy. I held him as he slipped away into his deep and peaceful sleep, all the while whispering in his ear what a good boy he was, how much I loved him, and that I would be fine. Once I knew he was gone I lay with him on the floor for a long time and sobbed completely inconsolable.

Scout4Scout (pictured front) with the pack.