Tag Archives: family
My Dad and Bailey – Saying Goodbye
By Melanie Ross
Bailey is our Border Collie. He’s amazing! He goes to work with my husband almost everyday and has most of the guys trained to keeping the kind of treats he likes in their work stations. My Dad worked for my husband and did lots of deliveries for him, usually taking Bailey along. He was my Dad’s co-pilot.
My father was diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer in September of 2012. Dad was kind of a silent observer and didn’t waste much time on what he would consider useless chatter. My Dad didn’t always have a ‘way with’ people, but he had a ‘way with’ dogs.
Towards the end of his first round of chemotherapy he would have almost a week of feeling poorly. I spent a lot of evenings and weekends over at their house just hanging out and watching tv. Our Border Collie, Bailey, was always with me. All I had to do was walk to the door and ask if he wanted to go see his pappy and he was at my side.
Bailey’s personality isn’t what most people think of when they think Border Collie. He’s a hard core player when he is outside, but when he is inside, he is like a 90 year old man. He’s just laid back and extremely docile. He’s also kind of an independent dog. He loves people, but he pretty much likes to be at your feet rather than on the couch beside you. So Bailey spent a lot of time laying at my Dad’s feet, which was good because my Dad’s skin was so fragile you could hardly touch him without hurting him or tearing his skin. We had to be careful the dogs didn’t get excited and jump up and hurt him.
About a year into his treatment Dad decided the treatments were just too hard on him and he was having so few good days that he made the decision to just let things take their course and enjoy what remaining days he had. He did pretty well for about six months and then he really started to decline. He went from a cane to a walker, to a wheelchair, to being mostly bed bound in a short span of time. Our visits increased and Bailey was always happy to go and just lie near Dad, wherever he was.
My Dad’s last two weeks were hard. He could barely get around and it took my husband, brother, mother and myself to be able to keep him at home. Hospice was called in at this point and we moved a hospital bed into the living room so he could be where everybody else was. My husband, brother and I took turns staying there. Anytime I was there, so was Bailey.
Dad’s final two nights were bad and we ended up calling hospice in both nights. The morning my a Dad died I was getting ready to take Bailey for our morning run. We had slept on the couch to be near him and hospice had been in the night before because he had such a bad night the previous night. At this visit we decided we should put him on morphine to get ahead of his pain rather than to try and catch up with it once something happened. As I was getting ready to run, I was texting my brother and my husband to ask if they thought I should wake Dad to administer morphine or let him be because he was breathing so steadily and he was so peaceful. During this time Bailey walked into the room and laid his head on my Dad’s bed at his hand and just stood there. After a minute or two he walked over to me and laid his head on my lap, too. I looked at my Dad and realized Bailey was trying to tell me my father had passed away and he had been there for him. I walked over to check on my Dad and he was gone. Bailey knew the time had come and he was there for him.
Lots of things have to happen when someone passes away at home. Hospice comes and pronounces the person deceased, family members come to pay respects, and the funeral director comes. They take care of your loved one and then take them to fulfill their final wishes. As they took my Dad out on a stretcher and loaded him in the van Bailey came outside with us all. We were all standing there when Bailey put his paw on the bumper with full intentions to take my Dad’s final ride with him. We had to call him back.
It is unbelievable to me what a dog can sense and I don’t know how he knew, but he did. All I know is I feel better knowing that Bailey was there for Dad in his final moments and I know it was a comfort to my Dad, too. What Bailey did for my Dad that day is something I won’t ever forget. As I said, he’s an amazing dog.
Seventeen months a shelter dog
Written by Terri Florentino & Mary Sweda
It was a warm night on the 1st of August when the police officer pulled into the parking lot of the local shelter. In the back of the police car there sat quietly an enormous, fawn colored, mastiff. She was an older girl, evident by the gray fur that covered her jowls with eyes so large, dark and soulful it was as if you could see right thru to her soul.
“C’mon old girl,” the police officer stated as he reached in to the back seat of the patrol car to pick up the leash that was already secured to the dogs collar. “You’re such a good girl, I’m sure someone will be looking for you,” he said as he lured her from the vehicle and took her for a brief walk around. As they approached the overnight holding area for stray dogs the officer bent down next to the gentle giant and stroked his hand across the top of her head, she leaned closer, if just for a moment, appreciating the gentle touch. The officer stood up, put the secure combination into the lock and opened the door of the emergency night drop. “Good luck to you old friend,” he smiled as he led her into the kennel area and secured the door behind him. There she laid in the dark, alone, scared and confused.
Early the next morning as the sun rose the rays of light found a way to creep between the bars in the window and shine down on the old girl. Those soulful eyes peered up towards the light just as the door flung open. “Well now, what have we got here?” the staff member stated with a smile as she bent down to greet the gentle giant. The dog immediately stood up, stepped back and let out a great big defensive bark. The young lady backed away, slightly startled by the dogs aggressiveness. “Eeeasy girl, I know you’re scared, settle down, it’ll be OK.”
After some yummy treats and gentle persuasion the old dog made her way out of the night drop. She was moved to a secure area within the shelter that is not readily available to the public. There she would wait for her family, who would never come.
The old girl quickly became fond of one staff member in particular, her name’s Cyndy. She primarily cares for the dogs that are kept in the temporary housing area. She’s patient, caring, gentle and kind. There’s also a devoted volunteer, her name is Marisa. Several times a week she’d come to the shelter to walk, brush and give her treats and love. “You’ll need a name,” Marisa thought, “How about we call you Maude?” The old girl stood up, leaned into Marisa’s leg, glanced at her with those great big dark eyes and looked as if she had a smile on her face. “OK, Maude it’ll be then.” “What do you think if we call her Maude?” Marisa asked of Cyndy. “I think that’s a perfect name,” Cyndy smiled as she bent over, threw her arms around Maude’s neck and gave her a big squeeze. For the first time since her arrival at the shelter Maude wiggled her bob tail. Cyndy and Marisa laughed in amusement as Maude’s entire back end wiggled to and fro with delight.
Cyndy with Maude
Maude was eventually moved to the adoption area where she quickly gained a fan club of volunteers, yet still no home.
One couple in particular, George and Mary visited Maude often. In their own words this is their personal experience with her.
George and Mary,
It was almost a year ago when we first met Maude. We had seen her image posted on Facebook, along with her heartbreaking story.
This became a personal crusade for Mary.
I was always terrified to enter a shelter. I didn’t think that I could face seeing the homeless animals and feeling that heartache, but her story, that face, those eyes would not let me turn away. I also remembered what my brother Nick always said, “It’s not about you Mary, it’s about those less fortunate. The sadness and discomfort you feel for a short time will be temporary, nothing compared to the joy you can bring them each time you visit”.
So, I showed George her photo, and off we went. When I first met Maude, she was in the main area of the shelter with the other dogs. I was able to walk right into her cage and hug her. She didn’t resist one bit, and I didn’t want to let her go. Since that day, George and I visited her 3 to 4 times a week. She was always so loving, such a snuggler! Maude had such a goofy side…dropping and rolling with no warning on walks…really funny expressions..and boy she could be stubborn! She always cracked us up! What a joy! For George, he made a best friend, he fell in love. No matter how hectic his schedule, he made time for Maude nearly every Saturday and Sunday. He treasured his time with her…we both did. It tore us apart not to take her with us every time we visited. However, Maude needed to go to a home absent of other animals and their two labs made that a practical impossibility.
Mary and George with Maude
In the meantime,
A joint in her right front leg was swollen; it was causing her paw to curve to the right. She’d been this way since she was dropped off at the shelter. “We’ll need to have her leg evaluated by a veterinarian,” advised the executive director of the shelter, so an appointment was made. We feared the worse, praying she did not have cancer. An x-ray, biopsy and bloodwork were performed. Thankfully her bloodwork was normal, the x-ray showed severe malformation to the right carpus and the biopsy concluded that no cancer was present. In fact under the microscopic interpretation new bone formation was present. Perhaps she was injured? We’ll never know for sure. We’re all elated that she didn’t have cancer.
Prayers were answered!
We prayed for that one person out there to give her the home she deserved. Finally it happened. Ed, the executive director gave us the call that she would be going home…sooner than we thought or were prepared for. And we both cried…happy for her, so sad for us. She had become like our own. But we knew it was for the best…and now she is the one and only with a great new family. She was always loved at the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, but now she has a home of her own.
Maude with her new family
Maude has given us a gift…she has led us to what is now such an important part of our lives…The Griffin Pond Animal Shelter. We just walked several beauties this past Sunday, they all with their own stories. But no matter how sweet, no matter how many, there will never be another Maude. She will be forever in our hearts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,”
So for now we’ll continue to take it day by day and make sure that Tulley is enjoying each and every moment.
Just Like A Feral Cat
By Terri Florentino
It was evening by the time Tillie and I pulled into my driveway. I would introduce my pack one at a time after Tillie and I had some time alone to take a walk and get better acquainted. I opened the back of my truck to find the little pup cowered in the back of the crate, trembling so badly her teeth were chattering. I wasn’t sure if she might react fearfully and attempt to bite, so I moved slowly as I reached into the crate. She continued to quiver as I clipped the leash onto her collar as she turned into a tiny ball in an attempt to make herself as small as possible. I couldn’t recall ever dealing with a dog that was as petrified as this little girl. It was a good thing I had a secure hold on the leash, as I picked her up out of the crate and gently placed her on the ground she immediately defaulted to her flight drive and attempted to scurry away. Her social skills, at best, were similar to that of a feral cat. I attached a 30ft line to her collar hoping some distance between the two of us might help her to relax and feel less threatened. There was almost never any tension on the line, 30ft wasn’t even enough to take off the edge. I decided to let my dog Scout out for a meet and greet. He was such a gentle soul, I Continue reading
Luke, Fly & Tillie
Pam was barely able to speak in between her sobs. “Luke needs to have his eye removed. It’s swollen and painful.” The veterinarian had told her that he had cancer in his spleen that had gone to his brain. “I’m not convinced the cancer is anywhere but in his eye though, and I’d like to go for a second opinion and quickly. Can you recommend another doctor?” Continue reading
Wow, my dear, old Casey would have been twenty years old today!
Twenty years with such a companion seems too short, and yet she only lasted fifteen, which is a generous span for a dog.
Such reflections always put me in mind of these words by Konrad Lorenz, from Man Meets Dog: “When god created the world, he evidently did not foresee the Continue reading