March 27, 2017

White Dog and the others gathered around the bed where Anya was cradled in pillows and blankets with an oxygen cannula in her mouth. She was non responsive and we were all preparing to say our goodbyes.

Last night our girl seemed to have an upset tummy as she had a few bouts of vomiting bile. We gave her pepcid and she settled to sleep. This morning Steve found her limp, unable to walk and gasping for air.

We knew when she came to us that she was very old, in pretty bad shape and that it was a good possibility that we were, in adopting her, providing end of life hospice. I held her as we made up space for her to be comfortable.

The oxygen helped relax her breathing but she was not here. Eyes closed, motionless, she seemed to be preparing to cross the Bridge. When you build an Army of seniors and those with health issues you go into auto-pilot to insure comfort while your heart is being torn apart.

Although we wanted to inflict no pain, Steve suggested a small subcutaneous fluid treatment to perhaps hydrate and ease the passage. Her little body greedily soaked in the fluids and her breathing did get better.

About fifteen minutes later, Anya opened her eyes and although she is blind, she seemed aware for the first time of where she was. It felt like she was actually fighting a bit to come back.

I called our beloved vet. She wasn't in yet but everyone there agreed that it sounded like Anya was indeed dying. An hour later, Dr. Julia called with Yo's blood work (he is stable not yet back to normal but no worse). I told her Anya was dying and what had happened.

She knows that we believe in no extraordinary measures at end of life but she said "It might be Addison's do you feel like she can be moved? If so bring her in right now."

If there was any chance that my girl could be brought back, we would take it. We bundled Anya into blankets and rushed to Dr. Julia. She took her immediately in the back and came out 5 minutes later. "She has either pancreatitis or toxic gastrointestinitiis. I am going to put her on an IV and give her some antibiotics. She IS pretty bad," our vet conceded, "And I am not making any promises but I will call you and then you can pick her up for the night if all goes well and bring her back in the morning."

Turns out Dr. Julia was there only to look at her desk and Yo's work. She had been injured and was still recovering from bruised ribs and torn ligaments. I thanked the Universe.

She called me and I was prepared for the worst by her tone. "I have never seen anything like it," she said. "Anya went into angular breathing a sure sign of the end. I administered a stimulant and did CPR and her heart stopped. But then there was a tiny beat that began. So I administered another dose and continued. Again her heart stopped. I know how you feel about end of life so I was preparing to call it the end. Suddenly her heart began beating full force and she opened her eyes. I have never seen anything like it."  Clearly Anya is not sure that she wants to leave us yet I speculated. It was so similar to what had happened at home.

"She is on the IV now and I have administered the drugs and a steroid she needs. If she lives, because I have to tell you she is not out of the woods. Have Steve pick her up at 5; and then again, if she makes it through the night, bring her back in the morning and we will reassess and continue treatment. It is up to her at this point." I thanked her with tears rolling. "It is up to her and the power of love."

March 26, 2017

White Dog said, "Now THIS is how EVERY day should be...waiting for dad to make pancakes...being all together and relaxed...Easy Sunday." "Sweet love," I told her, "I could not agree more!"


March 25, 2017

White Dog stood on the chair and directed the blizzard of white as we returned home. As expected it had been a long day abandoned and both humans and White Dogs were glad to be reunited. The WDA propelled each of to much appreciated chairs and swarmed over us with kisses and nuzzles and joy. It was a balm for our exhaustion.

The Army knows that after a full day taking and mingling, and reaching out to the community as we spread the word about Paws To People's mission to save lives, that both Steve and I are wiped out. YoYoMa already had soft jazz music playing in the background when WD announced that tonight was "Ultra Easy Dinner" night.

Steve looked at her gratefully. "What are you planning," I asked my considerate Girl. "How does cheese, crackers and sardines sound?" She replied. "No cooking, just plate it up and it doesn't even have to be pretty, and we are ALL happy!" Steve wrapped his arm around WD and kissed her nose. "Perfect idea! Thank you for thinking of your poor tired old dad."

I heard Opal mumble, "It is not a hardship for US! We love cheese and sardines...and even those nice rye crackers."

Dinner is served in under 15 minutes...thank you WD!


March 24, 2017

White Dog knows the routine by now. The day before a Paws To People event is Pack Out Day. It is a day of no sitting on any furniture because it is all covered with boxes and stacks to be put in containers. It is momma and dad are both home but they are very distracted doing organizing and stuff and don't want to play ball or want you to take things from their arrangements. It is expect to have to remind momma about treats a LOT...and dad about the fact it is nearly dinner time. It is exhausting barking dad out every time he puts a box into the van and then in again when he returns to carry out another.  It is having increasingly less space to move around in the living room. It is better to nap that supervise after a while because...it is pretty boring and mechanical.

It is FINALLY done and all is in the car but omd where did the time go? It is past bedtime and walks are late and we need to get up early tomorrow.


March 23, 2017

White Dog said, "Finally, I think the sickies have left the building. Everybody seems kind of back to normal DESPITE Benson's goofy new approach to eating treats."
OK, dad I am ready
Toss in the treat!


March 22, 2017

White Dog actually suggested the idea of offering our toothless Anya a bit of soft lamb treat. "Wouldn't that be mean?" I asked, "To tease her especially since she is not even eating on her own yet?" WD gave me her look, the one that says "trust me," so I reached for the special little jar next to the duck jerky.

This jar is filled with thin easily chewed and broken sticks of ground and formed lamb. It is for fixing boo-boos or a special reward...times when a little goes a long way. I broke off a piece the length of my littlest fingernail. I really did not think the experiment would amount to much but I lifted Anya into my arms and spent a couple of minutes stroking and talking to my deaf girl.

Then I held out the treat in the palm of my hand. I moved my hand to cup under her chin and let her sniff. She seemed interested. But she always seems interested. It is getting her to take the piece into her mouth, which is the stopping point. She continued to sniff and moved her face closer to it.

Then she tentatively took it into her mouth and moved it around. It fell out of her mouth and before I could catch it, Sachi has gobbled it up from the floor.

We tried again and this time I keep my hand under her chin. She worked the piece around in her mouth with pleasure and each time it slipped from her lips I would give it back but it too snuck out and Sachi claimed it.

"Third time is a charm," I whispered to Anya. She was actually looking for the tidbit this time. I closed my hand almost around her muzzle and pushed the piece back into her mouth each time it tried to escape. My girl chewed and chewed and clearly enjoyed the flavor released by the softening treat but she did not seem to get the idea of swallowing. Maybe she does not have enough control enough of her tongue (especially being toothless) to move what is in her mouth back toward her throat. This was becoming not just a bonding moment but insight into Anya's reluctance to eat by herself.

I looked over at White Dog. She tilted her nose to the ceiling and then looked at her sister. "Good idea!" I agreed and tipped the baby's face upward. Gravity did its job and the treat slid down her throat. She licked her lips.

"I think she liked it!" White Dog congratulated. "Me too."

Now we knew how to share the pleasure of White Dog Army treat time. I broke off a last tiny piece and we successfully navigated her special routine. The rest of the Army was eagerly waiting as I opened the OTHER jar to dole out strips of chewy luscious duck jerky.


March 21, 2017

White Dog, who is feeling a wee bit better, was sitting at my shoulder. Steve brought Anya in from her bath and placed her into my waiting arms full of fluffy towels.

"Wait, momma! Look!" WD said excitedly. I was wrapping our little girl in the towels to dry and warm her. WD pushed my hand away.  She kissed Anya's cheek.

"She is growing new furs!"


March 20, 2017

White Dog was curled up way in the back of her closet suite. Bella was sitting next to me. "Sure takes a long time for the sickies to travel through the entire Army, huh?" she commented.

I stroked her head. "I figure we are just about at the two-thirds point." I replied. "Thank dog you had a very mild case." Most of the Army who have been sick have been down for about three days. White Dog and Benson seem to have particularly tough cases. Neither is interested in food and are miserably lethargic. Fortunately they are both drinking water but the price is upchucking gunk and running bowels. Finally, this morning we spoon fed kefir to White Dog just so she would have something in her tummy. Benson, we syringe fed part of his normal meal; I am uneasy when he does not eat because of his kidney disease. He did not like being so encouraged but DID resignedly accept a token amount.
When are the sickies going to pass? I feel awful!

As Bella and I sat together, Zsofia came up and dropped her head into my lap. She whimpered and pressed hard against me. I stroked her ears. Suddenly, her head shot up and she bolted...we heard the dog door slam.

"I think we have our newest patient," Bella softly said.


March 19, 2017

White Dog had a plan. "Anya is getting around the house pretty well and she is so curious. Maybe she should go on night-night walks with the pack. Dad takes her out in the yard after us anyway and maybe it will help her find a way to trust enough to start eating on her own."

I looked at our Leader and considered her suggestion. Anya has over the past days found an increasing sense of comfort among her new family. She is not yet eating on her own but she does the post meal waltz to sniff empty bowls. She walks under Trix and Zsofia to get around. She rests without fear near her sleeping siblings. Maybe White Dog had a point.

Not only did she have a point. My Girl, of course, had a plan. "Dad should start off easy. Nilla has already volunteered to shepherd Anya on a just the Old Girls stroll. Nilla enjoys a stress-free slow and shorter walk which would be perfect for the new kid."

Steve thought White Dog's idea was a good one, too. "Ready Nilla?" he asked and she trotted over to the front door. Our Harmonious One always has a smile and a gentle demeanor and she is about the same age as Anya; it was a good pairing. Steve clipped on her lead. He went back through the door where Anya stood and lifted her. "Come on, Little Girl, you get to go on a walk tonight!" He leashed her and kept her in his arms to carry her down the stairs.

We all turned toward Nilla when they returned. Anya scuttled past and headed to the water dish. Nilla flashed us all a beautiful smile and joined her sister at the bowl. Steve reported that Anya will probably like a harness better than just her collar but that she seemed to enjoy walking alongside Nilla's flank. They only walked to the corner but the two ladies stopped to sniff and breathe in the night air.

Plus, now Anya had pottied and bedtime was nearer at hand since there was no need to go into the yard. Thankfully, because Anya the Explorer was already getting curled up and settling for the night in her little house.


March 18, 2017

White Dog did not eat breakfast. Neither did Benson. Nilla nibbled but walked away; she NEVER misses a meal. Stormer ate heartily and then...

"Momma, I do not feel so good," he said right before he hurled.

Steve's comment was understatement, "Looks like something is passing through the Army. Wonder who is to be next?"

Deep breath. YoYoMa walked past...with a streaky bottom. "Five down. Zso get your nurse's uniform."

Positive note: By dinnertime, Nilla was seeming perkier.