agility with the girls

If I could spend most of my days learning something new, I’d be so very happy.  It’s such a great feeling to overcome that first bump in the road, the point at which you start to improve.

A couple of people at work have taken their dogs to classes at the Richmond SPCA.  I decided to copy them for a couple of reasons: the combination of learning something new not just by myself but with Al and the dogs and also being able to support a non-profit, no-kill shelter.  A win for us, a win for the animals at the shelter!

Yesterday, we had our second agility class (of seven).  We never really had that first bump in the learning curve.  I think it was only getting over my fear of failure!  I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to handle the girls and that they’d be crazy but so far so good!

The girls will do anything for treats which helps a ton.  Olivia rarely sits still on a leash but she will (somewhat) for some food!

Look how thrilled Al is to be at the class.  He sure does love his treat holder/fanny pack.  Haha.

I promise the man does love the class, especially since Roary is one of the best there!  #truth

The girls have already successfully done about five obstacles and it’s only the second class which I find amazing.  It’s so fun to watch them understand want we want and execute it.  It also gives Al and I a bit more confidence in our handling abilities which is just what I wanted.

Look at Roary go!  The girl loves herself some cheese balls.

There is a fee for the classes but I think it’s so worth it.  It’s nice to know we can support the shelter while spending good, quality time together.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Have you taken your dogs to classes?

Belle

I was recently talking to my friend Katie who I hadn’t talked to in forever. Don’t you hate when that happens? Life just gets in the way! Anyways, at one point I was updating her about Belle and how she’s been doing. I realized that a lot has gone on with her in the past month so I thought I’d share it with you guys.

On the day we started painting the paneling (the same day we picked up Heidi from BARK!), Belle was sleeping a ton. The dogs usually nap a good amount so I didn’t think much of it until I picked her up and noticed that it looked like she had a giant adam’s apple! It appeared that her lymph node was super swollen. I panicked.

I dropped everything and told Al that we had to take her to the doggy ER.

The ER vet told us that it could be many things but that it was most likely an infection from her horrible and I mean horrible teeth. Her former owners had neglected her teeth over the years so most of them were covered in thick plaque.

He wanted to do a fine needle aspirate (look at the cells) of the lymph node to confirm this suspicion and rule out cancer but with the pricing I decided to wait until the next day and go to the vet that I work at. They know her better there and it’d be cheaper! So the ER vet put her on antibiotics and painkillers to start.

Monday, the vet that I work at agreed that it was probably an infection but he wanted to be sure so he gave me a second antibiotic to give her. If the swollen lymph node didn’t decrease in size over the next week then it was more likely to be cancer. Ugh.

After only a couple days, the size was smaller. Thank goodness! So we set up her dental for the following week to clean the teeth and pull out any rotten/infected ones.

I was glad we’d be able to get out all those bad teeth but also VERY concerned because she has a severe heart murmur. Putting a very old dog under anesthesia is risky and with a heart murmur on top of that? Scary.

I was working the day she got her dental. The vet tech asked me if I wanted to oversee the procedure. I hesitated because I hadn’t done too many dentals yet (since I’ve only had this job since February) and didn’t feel prepared but I also wanted to be right there with her just in case. I said I’d do it.

The vet and vet tech talked about their approach. They brought over extra drugs and needles to the dental table to help her just in case her heart had trouble. The vet said he was going to take out as many bad teeth as he could. He would go for the worst ones first and then if Belle was still doing okay, he’d get the others.

At about 40 minutes into the procedure with one and a half teeth left to pull, Belle decided that she’d had enough. In what felt like seconds, her heartbeat jumped and her breathing went from about 6 breaths per minute to SIXTY. I started getting nervous but stayed focus – letting the doctor know her vitals and recording the data. He said that he’d finish the tooth he was on and leave the last one that wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t worth the risk.

With sweaty palms I stared at her chest moving rapidly as he extracted the tooth. The vet tech flew in and took her off anesthesia.

It took her a bit to wake up but she did. She looked pathetic yet alive. I said, “This isn’t your best look Belle!”. Comedy soothes all don’t you know.

We kept her on pain medicine and antibiotics in the days after the dental. The lymph node continued to shrink and by the end of the week she was perfectly fine.

Al and I have seen a mind-blowing change in Belle in these weeks since her dental. She has only cried/screamed ONCE since the procedure. This is a huge change. She used to keep us up at night and cried during the day when we were gone. I think it was partly because she was kept in a crate but also because she was just so darn uncomfortable with all that pain in her mouth all the time.

With the crying gone there’s more to see in her. She wags her tail a lot more (she rarely did before), she gets visibly excited (this never ever happened) and so she seems happier overall. This lady actually has a personality! And all she needed was a visit to the dentist.

We’ve even recently taken her off of her old lady pills that are supposed to help with being senile. She hasn’t resumed any pacing or restlessness. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

With all this drama that we had to go through with Belle, we now feel attached to her. I asked Al if we were going to post her online to find her a home still and he said, “No, I kinda want to keep her.”. I was shocked. This man couldn’t stand her in the beginning. This is understandable because the screaming was terrible (!) and he wasn’t keen on tiny dogs to begin with (neither was I) but a complete 180 is very impressive.

She’s still a crabby old lady but we like her. 🙂 We now have 2.5 dogs (.5 being Belle). No more, no less. It’s nice to be a healthy, happy family.

I think the point of this super long story is, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. We never thought we’d have a tiny dog in the mix but we’re sure glad we do now. We’ve learned about love, patience, and open-mindedness. All that from 8 pounds of fur.

and just like that

Every Saturday, BARK volunteers bring a selection of dogs from the farm to various pet stores around Richmond. Foster families can also bring their dogs whenever they want, even if a dog hasn’t been requested to be seen by a potential family. A week after Heidi joined our pack, I decided to take her to Petsmart for the whole three hours (12-3 pm).

For some reason it’s tough to find homes for hounds and at BARK there are A LOT so the odds weren’t in our favor but with a great, big stroke of luck, she met an interested family!

They told me that they’d bring their other dog to meet her the following Saturday.

All week I waited on Kelley, the Adoption Coordinator at BARK, to send me an email telling me that she had been requested for the visit. By Thursday I hadn’t heard anything so I emailed her. She told me that the family hadn’t given her all the information she needed and that she couldn’t get a hold of them.

My heart sank. They seemed like such a great family for Heidi!

So this past weekend at 1:30 pm, I had a strong gut feeling that we should be back at Petsmart and not shopping. I made my husband turn the truck around so I could rush home and then drive over.

Heidi and I got there at 2:00. Bob, the owner of the rescue, told me that the family had been by earlier. I had missed them!! Crap.

About 30 minutes later one of the daughters showed up with the rest of the paperwork they needed to adopt Heidi. I didn’t know this at the time but when they came the first time, Kelley had told them what she needed so they ran right home to get it. Thank goodness they still needed that paperwork or they wouldn’t have come back!

The daughter called the rest of the family so that they could bring their other dog to meet Heidi. If all went well, we’d be in the clear.

After another 30 minutes, the family arrived. Both of the dogs have pretty passive personalities so neither of them were very interested in the other. We didn’t see any negativity though, so it was a match!

The mom (from the phone) told us that she wanted a ‘trial run’ with Heidi just to make sure she was the right choice. I was informed that the only way they could do that was if they adopted her first. Bob said that if she didn’t work out, they could bring her back and get a full refund.

I wasn’t sure how they’d take the news. I gave the dad his option. There was a long pause but then he said, ‘Welp, I guess we’re adopting a dog today!’

YESSS. I would’ve totally done a happy dance but there were too many people around.

Obviously there’s still a chance that she doesn’t fit in at their home but I can’t imagine that happening. I feel like the family will work with any issues that might come up. Heidi’s too cute to give back. 🙂

As they wrapped up the paperwork, I realized she was leaving me… today. I hadn’t prepared for that part. Sure she’d only been at my house for two weeks but ever since January when we first met, I wanted to help find her a home. Now that day had come. It was time to say good-bye.

I had one of the daughters take a photo of the two of us at that moment.

Course Heidi had no idea what was going on but I have to admit I was a little upset!

I took off her BARK collar so the family could put on her new one. I handed the collar to Kelley but she handed it back to me and said, ‘Do you want to keep it? You should keep it.’ I took it back and then walked the family to their car.

And just like that she was gone.

I have her collar to remember her by and a new facebook friend. They said they’ll post pictures of progress and playtime. I can’t wait to see them!

The other dogs at our house seem to be doing fine without Heidi. Without a hyper puppy to play with, Roary is sleeping a lot more but I don’t think she minds. She now has time to heal her playtime wounds and spend more time with her buddy Olivia.

It was a fun adventure. I learned a lot about love and potential. I hope to do it again sometime! It’d be great to have little collection of collars. 🙂