One Week Later

As most of you know, last week after so many signs of progress, I had to let my Baby girl go. I have received so many kind words from family and friends. It really goes to show that dogs are not just pets. They are true companions and members of the family. I know that Baby was my rock through so many hard times. It still hasn’t quite settled in. But I wanted to thank everyone who sent my family and me kind words and comments.

Baby looking out the window two years ago

Baby looking out the window two years ago

Statuette on the front porch

Statuette on the front porch

Baby loved to watch us leave from the front window. Every house we lived in with her she always found a way to sneak a peek out the window. Because of her blindness, she was not able to do that. That hurt her a lot. If she was not aware of what her people were up to, she went crazy. But anyway, my mom thought a nice statuette of a dog with Baby’s similar appearance for the front porch was a perfect way to remember our lil punkin boo. The statuette sits right under the window. I find myself now waving goodbye to it as I leave the house, or saying hello to it when I come home. It’s almost as if she’s waiting for me.

It’s not just me, my mom and my stepdad that have had trouble dealing with Baby’s death. It’s my extended family members who grew teary eyed last week. My aunt, who is not an animal lover, actually cried because she thought Baby was just the sweetest dog. But there is someone else who will probably miss Baby more than all the rest of us. That is Coal.

My Coalie Buddy

My Coalie Buddy

Coal knew last week that something wasn’t quite right. He knew that Baby didn’t feel good. He checked on her periodically the day she got so sick but preferred to stay out of the way outside. Now that she’s gone, he is confused. He doesn’t quite know what to do. She was his routine, his buddy. He actually didn’t eat for a few days. He had stopped jumping up on my parents’ bed. He doesn’t seem like he wants to go down the back stairs anymore. He just looks at us with that one eye, asking us to make a change, but we can’t.

Yesterday, Coal was in good spirits. He actually went down the back steps. He’s started eating again, sporadically though. And I can tell by his expression that he wants to get up on the bed, he just doesn’t think he can. I’m not sure if his arthritis is bad or if he is grieving. Maybe it’s a little of both. But I know that he misses his buddy. And so do I.

One-eyed winks,

Callie

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Week 5: Her Final Days

She gave so much love, she was worn out. <3

She gave so much love, she was worn out. ❤

As I write this last blog, I am in so much pain and heartache. I’ve spent all day crying.

Yesterday, Baby suddenly got very very sick. She was moving at a snail’s pace, throwing up, panting heavily, and drooling profusely. We took her to the doctor and they took an x-ray. Cartilage had disintegrated between two of her vertebrae in her lower back and were rubbing together against her spinal nerve. She was in excruciating pain. Her doctor gave us some pain medication and some new arthritis medication to help improve her condition. The doctor told us for her to take it easy and see how she feels.

I was hopeful for a very long time. But unfortunately, Baby had fought for too long.

Last night, Baby refused to eat, drink or take her medication. She was drooling and throwing up water every ten to fifteen minutes. She just lie there unmovable. She couldn’t get up. This morning, hoping that she would have improved and ready to take her medication, Baby had showed no signs of change. My mom, my stepdad and I saw the pain and the emptiness in her eyes. She was already gone. We made the decision to put her to sleep.

I sat in the backseat with her the car ride there as she panted and drooled and struggled to get comfortable. I rubbed her velvety ears for the last time. I told her how much I loved her and how sorry I was I couldn’t stop the pain. I gave her several kisses. She was unable to give me any kisses on the nose in return. We carried her in the vet’s office on her bed because without that as a cushion, she would’ve been yelping and we didn’t want her in any more pain than she had to be in. My mom and I cried as the doctor prepared her. The doctor assured us she was in too much pain for this to continue and that we were doing the right thing.

My mom, my stepdad and I stroked her head, rubbed her back until she peacefully went from our arms into my grandparents’ arms in Heaven. Her pain has ended. Her sight has returned eternally and she’s chasing her tail in Heaven with my old dog, Di and my grandparents. My grandpa Roy loved Baby very much. He died a year ago yesterday. In one of his last visits here, he sat in our chair in the living room, Baby sat by his chair and let him just pat her on the head. My grandma on my mom’s side stayed with us every Christmas. She loved animals. And she had a soft spot for Baby. There is a picture of the two of them on our refrigerator. Every night before my grandpa Roy got really sick, he and my stepdad and my stepdad’s twin brother used to talk on the phone. Before they’d say goodbye, Roy would say, “Give Baby a pat on the head from me.” Now he can do that himself forever.

I don’t know what is on the other side. But I do know that she’s waiting for me there. She’s been my constant companion for the last eleven years. She was a stray found in Swope Park by my old neighbor, John, who is a police officer. He brought her home and gave her to my mom and me. I thank God every single day that John brought her to us. The fall after we got Baby, my other dog, Di, died of a tumor in her neck. Baby got me through that. A year later, one of our family friends who I was extremely close to, committed suicide. Baby got me through that. Two years later, my grandpa on my mom’s side lost his battle with cancer. Baby got me through that. That year I also experienced bullying and struggled socially. Baby got me through that. My grandma died at the beginning of my junior year after struggling for two years with dementia. Baby got me through that. Last summer, my grandpa Roy lost his battle with kidney failure. Baby got us all through that.

These past eleven years Baby has done nothing but protect, love and care for me. Not once did she ever let on that she was in pain until yesterday. She didn’t want us to see her like this. She was embarrassed and humiliated that she had no more strength left. She will forever be my Punkin Boo, my Boo Boo Face, my Preciousness, my Precious Angel Babycakes, my Pooh Bear, my Boo Bear Face, my Boo, my Missy, my Baby Punky. She will never leave my heart. She’s another guardian angel I have watching over me.

My grandma loved red birds. Cardinals were her favorite. Whenever I see a cardinal, I know that she is with me in that moment. Something that was an incredible comfort today was when we were loading Baby in the car to take her to the vet, and a male and female cardinal were perched on a branch in the tree across the street. It was my grandma and grandpa telling me that they were ready for her.

I’ll miss her more than words could ever say.

Hug your pets today and cherish the memories of old ones,

Callie

Week 4: Returning to my Room! For Good!

Baby chillaxing in my room

Baby chillaxing in my room

Going into the yard!

Going into the yard!

This is my precious angel Babycakes in my room.

This morning right before my alarm went off, my mom came into my room with a surprise! Baby had been waiting outside my room, wanting to come in. The minute she got there, she jumped up on the bed, laid down right up next to me and started snoozing!

It was the perfect start of the day! She even stayed in my room while I got ready for work. She didn’t even want to get up when I left.

Tonight when I said, “Baby, it’s time for bed,” she headed for the stairs and straight up to my bedroom (and when that happened, Coal made a beeline for my mom’s room, knowing he got to sleep with her instead of his bed). She plopped herself down on the floor and fell asleep. Baby has not slept in my room regularly since probably January with a one night trial in March. I literally almost cried. She’s improving so much!

Before Baby started to deteriorate, you’d tell her to go to bed and she would stand at the bottom of the stairs waiting for confirmation. Now she’s back to the point where she can sleep in my room again.

I am more hopeful now than I ever have been!

Doggy kisses on the nose,

Callie

This is Coal

Coal is on the wrong side of the blanket!

Coal is on the wrong side of the blanket!


Above is a picture of my other dog, Coal. He’s a black lab/greyhound mix. He weighs over 95 pounds. I think. But of course he thinks that he’s a tiny little lap dog. Coalie is my big black teddy bear. He has a very expressive face and is even known to argue with me a time or two. Literally. People laugh when I say that, but it’s true! Ask my mom!

Anyway, before Baby’s diagnosis, Coal was the one with all the health problems. When my stepdad got him from the pound, he was worm-infested. Less than a year later, he had to have knee surgery. And then he had to start taking glucosamine for his back (it’s a very curved back and his legs are long!). The next year he had a minor tumor on his back that had to be removed. When I was a freshman in high school, Coal went outside in the morning, came back in and had puss in his left eye. It was determined that he had a chemical burn from some plant fluid or something. And last year he had to have the eye removed. In addition to that he has arthritis just like Baby.

Now it may seem like he has had a pretty depressing life, being a one-eyed dog with several health issues. But I swear, Coal is the happiest, friendliest dog anyone will ever meet. He loves to play tug-o-war and fetch. And he can catch spot on – even with one eye! He loves to pose on the floor, enticing you to pet him and rub his belly. Whenever you are in his sights and/or you say his name, his tail immediately begins to wag! And watch out! That tail is lethal!

His favorite hang out: Mom's bed

His favorite hang out: Mom’s bed

Coal has been a good big brother to Baby. When she got sick, he was very confused and upset. And you could tell. His one eye said it all. It was like he was saying, “Mom! Something is not right!” Every morning they used to kiss noses and she stopped doing that and he was very very concerned.

However, now that Baby is improving and getting somewhat special attention, Coal is jealous. And Coal has always been a jealous dog. He likes the attention. He’s very alpha male that way. But anyway, he has been a big stinker butt as of late. He’s being obstinate when I ask him to go outside. He just sits there and stares at me like, “No, I will not!” And he settles down in Baby’s bed and growls at us in frustration when we ask him to move.

But he’s still a good boy. He’s precious isn’t he?

And I really don’t care if you think I’m crazy, COAL AND I DO TALK TO EACH OTHER! He has human expressions. I swear it!

One-eyed dog winks,

Callie

Trying to tell me how it is!

Trying to tell me how it is!

Week 3: Nap Time

Baby returns to her favorite spot on my bedroom floor

Baby returns to her favorite spot on my bedroom floor

Baby taking a nap with me in my bed.

Baby taking a nap with me in my bed.

This week, Baby again made a trek up to my room. Only, instead of just chilling out on the floor, Baby decided that she wanted to get on my bed. Baby hasn’t been on my bed in months! She walked around in circles for a few minutes getting herself acclimated to the bed again. She made sure she found the most comfortable spot and curled herself up in a little ball in the crook of my legs. We took an hour long nap together. I haven’t taken a nap with Baby in a very very long time!

However Baby did have some minor set backs this week. Her arthritis may be acting up again. I’m noticing that she is not going down the back stairs as often as she had been. We’ve had to clean off the deck a lot more this week than in recent weeks. Unfortunately both our dogs have arthritis. But because of Baby’s thyroid medication interacting with her arthritis medication, she got sick and had to be taken off that. I’m not totally sure if she’s lazy or just hurts too much to go down stairs, because honestly she’s not showing any signs of pain. I’ll keep a closer eye on her this week for sure.

This morning, though, we had a major breakthrough in her progress! This morning was the first morning that my stepdad did not wake up to a bunch of puddles and piles in the dogs’ room! We have training pads for this purpose and each and every one of them was dry and clean. Of course it was at 5:30 in the morning, meaning we have to get up even earlier. But as I said in a previous post, SARDs owners are supposed to adapt to their dogs surroundings and not the other way around. Personally, I think that she just gets a little nervous if she hears a noise, such as someone getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or even a critter outside the window. Because she can’t see, she gets nervous and anxious and can’t control herself because she thinks something is wrong or is about to happen. She’s always been a dog who has to be in the know about things!

More improvements next week with any luck!

Hugs!

Callie

Week 2: Sitting in my lap!

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This week began with a great start! I was sitting with Baby on the kitchen floor last Sunday and she got up, turned around, and plopped her lil’ butt in my lap. She stayed like that for a few minutes before she got up and walked away. My mom and I had a good laugh.

As the week went on, Baby made some more great milestones. I was very happy about. On Wednesday when I got home from a meeting in Warrensburg, I headed straight upstairs to my room. Little did I know I had a follower! My blind Baby walked up the stairs all by herself when she usually has my mom to accompany her. She walked straight into my room and laid down on the floor, just like she used to when she could see. She stayed up there for close to an hour. I literally almost cried.

Having Baby in my room again was a great feeling. Before she was diagnosed, Baby always always always slept in my bed. When I was there, she slept in my room with me. She never slept downstairs with our other dog, Coal. But when she was diagnosed with SARDs she discontinued that practice. She felt more comfortable downstairs with Coal in her own little bed. It was hard for me because I got so used to having her sleep in my room that occasionally I couldn’t sleep. One of the suggestions for owners of SARDs dogs is to adapt to their routine and not the other way around. As much as I hate it that Baby rarely comes to my room anymore, much less sleeps there, I have to adapt to her what’s most comfortable to her. So I enlisted my giant stuffed lion and a giant stuffed sheep dog (aptly named Simba and Big Shadow) to replace the space in my blankets where Baby once was.

One thing I have noticed, especially this week, Baby hates to be away from my mom for very long. She’s almost like a little child that way. Just as children hate to be far away from their mommies for too terrible long, Baby is the same way. To her my mom is safety. Now that she can’t see, she feels safest when near my mom. Just like me when I was a kid.

Doggy kisses on the nose,

Callie.

 

This is Baby

Baby venturing upstairs

Baby venturing upstairs

Above is a picture of my eleven-year-old dog, Baby. She’s a Jack Russell terrier mix. I’ve had her since I was ten. She was a stray. Baby has been a pretty low maintenance dog up until about five months ago. Baby started to experience weight gain, intense hunger, loss of vision and an uncontrollable bladder. She would lay around all day and forget to let us know when she needed to go outside. When outside, she would relieve herself on the deck instead of going down the stairs and in to the yard. She stopped going upstairs to my mom’s office during the day. Her normally, upright, wagging tail was down and between her legs. She stopped jumping up on my parents bed. And the worst part for me was that she would not come upstairs to my bedroom where she spent most of her time. The doctor diagnosed her with hyperthyroidism with beginning stages of dementia. Because of this, my family was considering putting her to sleep because they could not stand to see her suffering anymore. This was possibly the worst news for me. Baby is and always will be my best friend. She came to us at a really difficult time in my life and the thought of losing her to the same disease that took my grandmother was killing me.

With further tests, my family and I found out that Baby did not have dementia but was suffering from a disease called, Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDs). She was not suffering from dementia. She was just blind. She was not going to be put down. She was still there, my Baby girl. Dogs suffering from SARDs live normal, healthy and happy lives. They just need our help to get them acclimated to their surroundings.

Now that I’m home, I’m making it my summer project to help Baby adapt to her blindness. And since being home, Baby has vastly improved! She has learned to count steps so she goes up and down the back stairs in to the yard several times a day. She has returned to keeping my mom company in her office. Her tail is constantly wagging. She still has a long way to go but I am extremely hopeful.

I will have weekly updates on her progress!

You can find more information on SARDs here.