The Long Overdue Gertie Bio

No better time like the present to get Gertie’s bio written.  It will be 2 years since she moved in, after all.

It’s been a long, strange trip for Gertie.

Here’s the short version:

An apparent domestic upheaval split Gert’s original family between Arizona and the east coast.  Further issues occurred with the family  member remaining local.  Gert and Pablo were left(?), abandoned(?), surrendered(?), tied to a tree at a local McDonalds.  They had been there all day when Crabby beat Animal Control in picking them up.  That was June, 2014.

DSC_7054

Let’s pause for a flash forward: Gertie’s east coast family reached out a year later and informed me that Gertie was 13 (then) and not the generic and regular 10 year old estimate of all foundling senior dogs.

OK, now let’s flash back again – to 2014.  Gert Gert was clearly old, was generally sluggish, and had difficulty moving.  For that reason, and those of you who follow this blog will agree, Run A Muck Ranch was NOT the place for her.  You can’t drop a Fine Old Dame on the island of The Lord of the Flies and expect it to end well!  Gertie got a courtesy post on a local senior dog rescue site.  Of course no one was interested.

For my part, I made sure Gertie was well cared for.  She got her 2 squares a day, scritches, pets, hugs and of course her evening Old Lady Plumbing Walks.  All the while I wished she lived somewhere else.  Being Mom to Slugger is a full time job as it is!  Being Mom to Slugger + 11 other Idiots, and Sarah was exhausting.  I really didn’t have the juice to incorporate the special needs of a giant, uber senior into the mix!

DSC_3298

Then came that fateful day in October, 2014.  Gertie was in a bad way.  We were at the vet within 2 hours.  An hour later, the recommendation was to put her down.  Even if we could afford the costly additional tests, chances were (emphasis added) she probably (emphasis again) wouldn’t respond to the treatment.  With dogs in Gertie’s situation (yup, emphasis again), the best thing to do would be to let her go.

Those emphasis statements aren’t exactly quotes from the vet, but they were the general gist of what he said.  I’m not sure what you make of them, but what I heard was Gertie wasn’t worth it.  I then deduced that Gertie had deteriorated to that point because, well, what reason could she possibly have to stick around?  Sure, she was well cared for, but no one cared for her.

I declined on letting Gertie go that day.  Actually, that was the very day I made Gertie my own.  I would no longer be her caretaker.  From that day forward I would be her mom.

DSC_5725

 

That’s all it took. It’s 2016 now and even with Gertie’s worsening arthritis (especially when I let her get too heavy) she is scores better than she was the day Crabby brought her and Satan’s Cheewawa home back in 2014.

Gertie has forgiven me for not being a mom those first few months. She knows she’s my Lady now.  We have a daily routine for just about everything.  No worries about shirking my responsibilities because if the appointed time arrives, and I am not already making the necessary preparations, Gertie WILL remind me, including but not limited to, the 1:30am, written in stone, does not vary EVER, pee.

Sarah used to be the only source of intelligent conversation for Gertie, but when Sare Bear passed away, it became Gertie and The Horde and she seems pretty content with the situation.  She will play with Morty.  She accepts Marcy’s worship.  She shares dog beds with pretty much all of the others. And she is as mystified as we are as to how someone as stupid as Slugger could possibly exist.

DSC_0143

Gertie is patient, kind, so very loving and has a beautiful smile.  She absolutely loves meeting people, new and old, and has no issues with inserting herself into the personal space of anyone.

Gertie knows she has nothing to worry about anymore, but sometimes if she wakes up and I’m not in the room with her, she gets a little nervous.   It used to be she would shuffle from room to room looking for me, but that got old pretty fast.  Now, she just barks.  She knows 1 or 2 thunderous roars are enough to bring me running.

A few tid bits about The Gert Gert:

She sleeps with her eyes open.  On more than one occasion, I found her in a deep, barely breathing sleep, and thought she was dead.

She is completely deaf. She could be sleeping (with her eyes open of course) and the rest of The Horde decides to start a mosh pit within inches of her and she will not so much as stir.  (And you wonder why I thought she was dead a few times!).

After every meal, Gertie must wash her face.  If there is nothing else available, the closest human leg will do.

I have never known a dog who loved a hug as much as Gertie.  Doesn’t matter who the hugger is, a hug is a hug and Gertie loves it.

Smiley

Gertie doesn’t move like a dog.  Rather, she moves like a Standardbred (horse) pacer.  In her mind, she’s racing like the wind, but to the casual onlooker, it’s a little old lady shuffle.  Which brings me to one of my favorite Gertie stories:

Once, while I was talking to a neighbor during one of Gertie’s evening walks, a lady on a horse passed by.  I didn’t pay any attention until the lady called over to me – kid you not:

“Is  your dog chasing us?” she asked, watching Gertie, with great concentration, pacing up the road after her.

“Yup” I said – not concerned that Gertie would ever catch up.

After a short pause the lady called back “Should I slow down?”.

If a person on horseback offers to slow down to allow a chasing dog to catch up, you just know there’s something about the dog.

DSC_7011

There is a serious disadvantage to bringing a super senior dog into your heart:  There will never be enough days.  But there is an even worse disadvantage to not giving a super senior a chance:  You don’t have any days.

We knew going in Gertie wouldn’t be with us very long in the scheme of things.  But rather than focus on time, we focus on times – as in the good ones.

Here’s hoping there are many more to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Value of Big Brothers

We had a pretty nasty storm on Sunday.

Marcy doesn’t like storms.

When a particularly loud clap of thunder rattled the house, I went looking for her.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one ready to comfort the visibly trembling Marcy.   Someone beat me to it.

DSC_7212_01
Big brother Vito to the rescue

Vito stayed with Marcy, licking her eyes, resting his head on her neck, and comforting her until the storm passed.

How lucky is Marcy to  have a big brother who cares so much about her?

Emmi, the Final Word

The mass in Emmi’s brain can not be removed and we can’t afford the $9 to $11,000 shunt that would save her life IF the mass is the result of Valley Fever.  We can not determine if the mass is a cancer because it’s position makes it too dangerous for Emmi to undergo a spinal tap.  If it is a cancer, chemotherapy would be the treatment of choice, though if it is a non-cancerous mass, chemo would only ‘maybe’ help.

With further investigation by the neurologist, in consultation with others in the veterinary field, it was determined that Emmi can not simultaneously take chemo and Valley Fever treatments as each would negate the effects of the other.

Since brain cancers are very aggressive and chemo is very hard on on the patient, given Emmi’s current state, the unanimous veterinary opinion is not to put her through it.

Brain disseminated Valley Fever cases are the most difficult to treat, but the treatment is not as hard on the patient as chemo.  Valley Fever medications are very slow acting.   IF the mass is related to Valley Fever, treatment may not work, or start to work, in time.  Brain disseminated Valley Fever cases are also the most fatal.

In the end, we’re doing a crap shoot.  Emmi was started back on Fluconazole for Valley Fever.  She is also on prednisone to reduce the brain swelling, as well as a separate medication to counter act the negative effects prednisone has on Emmi as was shown when she was given the drug last year for another problem.  All we can do now is wait and see.  There are no other options.

We could lose Emmi any day now, or a week or month from now, or, if we’re lucky and what I am wishing for, at least 2 years from now.

For now, we have to keep Emmi very quiet for at least a couple weeks.  No running, jumping or anything that would jiggle her swollen brain.  She is much improved from last week with the anti-inflammatory effects of the prednisone, but she is still not as Emmi as she was.

 

This will be the last sad post about Emmi and her condition until we lose her.  Life has to return to normal for the sake of the other dogs and for our own sake.  Every accommodation will be made for Emmi’s comfort, every vet directive followed to the letter, but we will stop making it All About Emmi from this day forward, though I can promise she will be hugged and cuddled more.

I will end this sad post with some humor for you:

Emmi is not allowed to jump.  Despite her condition, she gets on the couch and we’ve caught her getting ready to jump on the people bed.  Since she can’t be monitored when we’re asleep, and she may try to jump then, the answer is to get rid of the people bed.  Yup – it’s going away.  Any rational person would get rid of civilized sleeping accouterments for the sake of a dog, wouldn’t they?

As luck would have it, Crabby’s camping sleeping mats on the hard floors are actually more comfortable for our aging backs than the people bed mattress anyway.  Bonus, since Emmi sleeps with people, if you put the people on the floor, Emmi has no reason to try to get on [or more dangerously, off] the people bed.

Today we invested in air mattresses and sleeping mats.

DSC_6966.JPG
Crabby demonstrating the ability to stretch out unencumbered by dogs.  The theory was, if the dogs prefer the people bed, just put all of them, including the little ones up, and we will have plenty of space for us and Emmi.
DSC_6970
Theory blown.  Where ever Mom is, dogs are sure to follow.
DSC_6976
In the end, the air mattress was relegated to the role of soft landing strip should Emmi try to jump off the couch if we’re not looking.
DSC_6981
It’s also a more comfortable sitting space for her minions (us) who usually have to sit on the floor anyway because The Horde never leaves us room on the couches.

Until the people bed is gone, all we have are narrow strips of floor to put our (as in human) sleeping mats.  Surely the more back supportive floor, even if it’s a narrow strip, will afford a more roomy people sleeping space….  Not!

DSC_6986
I would never post, for the world to see, a pic of myself sleeping, but this one  taken during a much needed nap was too good to pass up.  Note the width of the mat.  Now note how stretched comfortable and roomy it appears to be for Gracie, Willy and Pablo.  Slug appears quite comfy on his private bed. Gert was stretched out in her preferred warm weather home – the master bathroom.  Emmi’s feet show her also on a private bed.   Something about me being pushed off the mat, onto the floor, squashed against the wall somehow seems so wrong.

I’m sure once we can get rid of the bed, and possibly some other furniture, not only will Emmi be safe, but there will be ample space for humans and dogs to cohabitate peacefully with ALL able to sit and sleep on soft surfaces.  For now though, it’s a work in progress.

But when it’s all said and done, we will have another problem:

DSC_6803
If you take away my people bed, I WILL kill you in your sleep!

When Feral Dogs Get WAAAYYY To Comfortable

Every morning, I make the bed.  Every day I come home, the bedclothes are shuffled in such a way as to lead one to believe a person had been reposing there.

Today, the shuffling was taken to a new level.

DSC_6781
Sorry for the blur!

With great frustration, I proceeded to attempt to make the bed again, but I was confronted by this:

DSC_6803
Hey Mom, I just got it the way I wanted it.  Don’t mess with perfection.

Instead of heeding the clear warning in Marcy’s eyes, I stupidly continued to try to make the bed.

DSC_6808
What part of “NO” don’t you understand Mom?

It’s probably  just safer for everyone if I simply stop making the bed.

 

Happy 3rd Home -a – Versary Marcy.

You’ve come a long way sweetie, and for that we are happy, but do you think you can keep the people bed a little neater?

Happy Homecoming Marcy!

Remember back when Marcy came to live with us?  She was delivered to me, as a foster kid (oh, the irony), in a live trap.  While it was believed she was only a couple of months old, she turned out to be at least 8 months.

Marcy, just before she was trapped.
Marcy, just before she was trapped.

Given she hasn’t grown a bit, other than her sense of entitlement, I think it safe to assume she was at least a year old.

Marcy and me, after we removed her from the trap.  We had to do it in a closed garage lest she escape.
Marcy and me, after we removed her from the trap. We had to do it in a closed garage lest she escape.

A year old, having grown up wild, without human intervention.  In other words, feral like a coyote.  At the time, we didn’t think she could be domesticated.

It seems like just yesterday, but it’s actually been 2 years, this month.  Golly time flies!

Life without the people bed....  to terrible a thought to even consider!
Life without the people bed…. too terrible a thought to even consider!

Marcy has come a long way since she was trapped.  She still has feral tendencies and is easily scared around ‘outsiders’, but I can honestly say she, more than any of the other kids, except for maybe Pablo, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but Run A Muck Ranch.  If Crabby and I were hit by a truck and the kids had to find other homes, the rest, they’d be OK.  Heck, Slugger wouldn’t even notice the change!  Marcy wouldn’t be able to cope.  That’s not pride on my part talking, it’s reality.

Feeling better about life in captivity.
Feeling better about life in captivity.

It isn’t one thing about The Ranch that Marcy loves, it’s the sum of all the parts.  She would be fine without me, or Morty, or the Waggin’ Wagon, or her coyote beau who comes to visit her,  or anything else, assuming only one part was missing. But take away a few things, and Marcy would be significantly damaged.

Marcy at a play date, not of her choosing.
Marcy at a play date, not of her choosing.  She doesn’t like surprises.

This was her home since before she was born, it just took a while to for her to get here.  Sometimes, when I watch Marcy loving her life I wonder if everything in our lives up to February 2013 happened just to prepare for Marcy’s homecoming.

Marcy hating life.
Marcy hating life as a ‘domestic’ dog.

We love you Marcy, even if you did eat a pretty large chunk of the salad that I painstakingly prepared for my dinner tonight.

Thanks again to the folks at Pittie Me Rescue for doing what you do, and making it possible that Marcy could come home, even if I still believe someone did some serious Voodoo conjuring to make us put ourselves in the position to agree to ‘foster’ her.

Once Again Trauma Strikes Run A Muck Ranch

Sarah’s nails are getting a little long, so I decided to trim them.   She’s is one of the easier kids to give a mani/pedi to, rarely even waking up for it.

As easy as Sarah is to work with, only a moron could possibly quick her.   I would be that moron.  The event was traumatic for both of us.

The toe was cleaned, flour applied to slow the bleeding, and Sarah given a cheese transfusion to help her make it through the shock.

 

It looks worse than it appears.  I used flour to stop the bleeding.  Anyone who's ever used flour for this purpose knows you're just creating red paper mache.
It looks worse than it appears. I used flour to stop the bleeding. Though it does the trick, it ends up becoming red paper mache and makes it look like you chopped the entire toe off.  I assure you, all Sarah’s toes are in tact!

 

Anyone who has ever trimmed nails has at one time or another quicked one.  In all these years of toe wrangling, I have never seen a bleeder as bad as Sarah.   It seemed like she lost buckets.

 

We're losing her!  We're losing her!
We’re losing her! We’re losing her!

Once the bleeding finally slowed, I bandaged the foot.

 

Feet are never fun to bandage.  Put it on too loose and it falls off.  Too tight and the foot swells up.
Feet are never fun to bandage. Put it on too loose and it falls off. Too tight and the foot swells up.

 

As you can see, Sarah is still very weak from the trauma.

Once bandaged, Sarah was forced to spend the rest of the afternoon confined to the couch.

 

As you can see, couch confinement was a bitter pill to swallow.
Couch confinement was a bitter pill to swallow.

 

 

It's a terrible life.
It’s a terrible life.

At one point Sarah seemed to be in distress.

 

Gasp....Need chickin!
Gasp….Neeeeed chickin!

 

So a piece of chicken set aside from the people dinner was administered.

 

That's better.
Able to relax again!

 

An hour or so later, we decided it would be a good idea for Sarah to ambulate, so I helped her off the couch.

 

Groan.... too soon Mom!
Groan…. too soon Mom!

 

I think a little something in the way of a late evening snack might help me gain my strength back.  Just sayin...
I think a little something in the way of a late evening snack might help me gain my strength back. Just sayin…

 

Just what the doctor ordered!
Just what the doctor ordered!

 

After the strength injecting mini meal, Sarah was able to go outside to relieve herself and chase some hoo doos.

Upon return to the house, however, she hadn’t the strength to get back on the couch, or should I say, fight for her spot which had been taken by Morty, Gracie, Franky, Hector, Emmi and Pablo.  She had no other choice but to just go to bed.

 

Sarah being tended to by Nurse Marcy.
Sarah being tended to by Nurse Marcy.

And for the record…  the bandage is STILL on, even after an outside romp!

One by one the other Run A Muck Ranch dogs are quietly paying homage to Sarah, thanking her for taking one for the team.  Because of her sacrifice, it is highly unlikely I will attempt a toenail trim on any of the other kids any time soon.

 

********************

 

Word to the newbies:  Unless there is food involved, a walk, a ride somewhere, a visitor, or a bunny in the back yard, Sarah isn’t the most motivated of creatures in the world.  The photos you see are not of a dog suffering, but a dog in her natural state.  I did 2 other nails before I realized I quicked her.  She didn’t even bother to wake up when it happened.

On Crazy Dog Ladies in Denial

With the advances of digital photography comes the curse of date stamps on photos. This curse reared its ugly head during a recent trip down memory lane.

 

Hector after his cherry eye surgery, December 31, 2006.
Hector after his cherry eye surgery, December 31, 2006. He came to us a foster dog about 2 weeks before.

 

We can’t remember how old Hector was at the time he moved in, but he was at least 2. For some reason I think he was estimated to be 3. Now let’s do the math: 2015-2006 = 9. 9+2 = 11. Hector is at least 11 years old. If my recollection is correct, however, he’s 12.

 

DASH! the day he met Crabby, January 8, 2008.
DASH! establishing some ground rules the day after he arrived, January 8, 2008.

DASH! never shared his age when he first graced us with his presence, but he was an adult. My recollection is the vet estimated him to be the generic ‘between 1 and 3’. Let’s do the math again:  2015-2008=7.    7+1 =8. DASH! is at least 8, but he could be as old as 11.

 

When the harsh reality hit, I lamented to Crabby that I thought The Boys were around 5 or 6 years old.  According to Crabby I’ve been saying that for years.

 

Somewhere along the way, as misfits moved in and others passed away, Hector and DASH!  not only got older, but became seniors.

 

I choose not to see seniors.  I choose to see My Boys as they truly are:

 

Hector, December 2014
Hector, December 2014

 

DASH! August 2014
DASH! August 2014

 

I have decided to stick to my claim that Hector and DASH! are around 5 and 6 years old, for now and for the foreseeable future.

 

Riddle Me This….

Can someone explain to me, in words that my simple mind can understand….

Scenario 1:

You take your dog to the vet for a regular wellness check.  He gives your dog a physical and suggests a blood draw to view the over all wellness of your dog.  You consent, blood is drawn, and the results come back.  Some values aren’t exactly within the range of normal, but they’re pretty close and your vet tells you there’s nothing to worry about.  Your dog passes his wellness check and the angels sing.  You wrote on your intake form that your dog is fed a commercial dog food.

Scenario 2:

You home-make your dog food, and indicate as much on your intake form.  You run the same blood tests as would be done in a ‘regular’ wellness screen, but request the addition of other values to be tested as well.  Your results come back, and every single value falls within normal range.  Even your sporadic elevated eosinophils are within normal range.  Rather than receive the same passing grade on the wellness check, you are warned that continued feeding of a home made diet is a recipe for disaster (the word ‘recipe’ was used), even though the vet has never even asked what it is you feed your dogs.  That this was the 3rd blood draw, the 3rd showing gold stars across the board, irrelevant.   This was the first time the vet saw the dog, but he was made aware of the results of the prior blood tests, and their results at the original consultation.

What am I missing here?

 

 

images