Holy Voley!

Holy Voley 2

Young Moose Spots Birds

A few years ago in October, we spent a few days in Massachusetts. We left our beloved fur family in the care of our dear friend and pet sitter extraordinaire, who has watched our kids several times in the past. The critters are for the most part well behaved, but one of them had a surprise in store for her.

We were spending our favorite holiday in Salem, but we had plans to meet some friends in a nearby town prior to the Halloween festivities. Dinner was arranged at a local bar/restaurant that they had chosen. It was so nice to see them again, enthusiastic hugs exchanged in the restaurant’s waiting area. After we were seated, we got down to the business of ordering and catching up.

I believe the phone call came before the meal arrived. I never get calls from my pet sitter, as she usually keeps in touch via text, sending me a photo or two when I am missing the kiddos. I thought it was odd when her contact info came across my phone, so I answered right away.

She had a situation with Moose. The dogs were let out into the yard to take care of their evening business. While Red returned to the house, Moose refused to come in. Our yard is postage-stamp sized, and it can be viewed entirely from the house, with the exception of behind the garage.

But Moose wasn’t behind the garage. He was in plain sight, laser focused on something near the vinyl privacy fence. When he wouldn’t answer his sitter’s calls, she went out to investigate. He wasn’t paying much attention to her, but when she tried to get him in the house, he growled and continued to stare at something in the distance. My 20-pound Italian greyhound turned into a watch dog; it must have been a bit comical to see. I was on hold on the phone when she was trying to convince him to come in from the yard.

Defeated and likely annoyed, she picked up the receiver and told me that Moose was being stubborn and growling at her. We were both at a loss as to what to do, so she decided to watch television until the standoff in the yard ended. I hung up and continued with my night, wondering if Moose was going to square off against an intruding critter. Moose was always a lover and not a fighter, so I had my doubts that he would get into a confrontation with anything. Whatever it was should be thankful it wasn’t Red in the yard instead.

Moose at long last did return to the house unscathed. It appeared that he didn’t do battle with anything in the yard, as he bore no scars or brought any trophies into the house. We still don’t know what he saw that night, but my pet sitter believes it may have been a vole.

Of course this episode took place a few years ago when Moose was younger and had better vision. Now I don’t think he could see the intruder, his skinny frame not so intimidating anymore. I’m just glad that he wasn’t hurt, and was up to date on his vaccines in the unlikely event that he did get ahold of something. In case you were wondering, yes, we still have the same pet sitter, even after this unexpected adventure.

Holy Voley

The Beat Still Goes On

The Beat Still Goes On (2)

Moose’s cardiology appointment is always stressful for everyone. It’s a matter of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Of course, I hope that his heart is no worse for the wear, but the fact remains that he is a dog of 17 years. Even though he is enjoying a long lifespan (he would be in his nineties in human years), the inevitable bad news we receive one day will still be shocking.

A cardiology appointment requires a day off from work, as it’s a comprehensive visit. Moose’s doctor practices in a large city out of state, which means that his dad escorts him to the visits. My better half is a pro at driving in big cities, while I am terrified of the idea. I can handle appointments solo if they’re in the suburbs.

Both of us are nervous before the appointment, but it is my better half that has to hear the results, good or bad. (For this reason I can’t say that I am envious that he goes to these appointments without me). He leaves our boy at the hospital for a few hours to undergo an exam and testing. The good thing about the city is that there is always something to do to pass the time, in walking distance from the hospital. Still, even though he finds ways to occupy himself, I’m sure it seems like an eternity until he can be reunited with Moose.

We have observed no serious deterioration in Moose’s health, other than a little stiffness when walking; a bit of an anti-inflammatory twice a day has greatly improved this issue. He does not seem to get winded, and we haven’t heard him coughing, which are all good signs that the heart condition hasn’t worsened.

When asked if Moose was still a candidate for teeth cleanings under sedation, the vet thought it best to leave well enough alone. Unless Moose were unable to eat due to a tooth issue, we were advised to forego any unnecessary dental procedures notwithstanding an emergency. Italian greyhounds are notorious for having bad teeth, with some pups requiring so many to be pulled that dogs are sometimes left with their tongues hanging out. So far neither Moose nor Red have lost the necessary teeth to cause this. To be honest, this was something I dreaded and hoped would never happen to them. (Although they would still be adorable).

I am pleased to report that Moose’s condition has remained status quo since his diagnosis three years ago. He has chronic degenerative valve disease, but he is not yet in heart failure. Moose remains on the same dosage of medication, as it seems to work well for him. I only pray that his disease progression is moving along at a snail’s pace. While I am elated over this news that he hasn’t gotten much worse, next on the radar is the boys’ annual checkups. Senior bloodwork will be done, and I hope that it won’t reveal any underlying problems. As I mentioned, we have recently added an anti-inflammatory medication to their routine to help with age-related joint stiffness. They haven’t had kidney issues in the past, but we need to be sure with the new drug. Every day with senior pets is a gift, one that I never take for granted.

The Beat Still Goes On (1)

The Long Arm of the Lawless Moose

The Long Arm of the Lawless Moose (2)

Hmm . . . I Didn’t Open This

Happy 2020! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year involves family, friends, and food. Lots and lots of food. Tempting treats abound, and not just for the humans.

We ordered a two-pound cookie tray from the decades-old bakery located in town, just down the street from our house. Their delicious gingerbread men, chocolate chips, and cherry cookies have become somewhat of a holiday staple for us. While they were intended for Christmas Eve, no one had any room for dessert after enjoying the rest of the substantial holiday spread.

Because we had more food than people and places to put it, the kitchen table became host to a variety of treats, including the unopened cookie tray. This table is small and round, so space to put things is limited. I put the treats closer to the edge than I should have, assuming that the dogs were too old to be interested. You know what they say when you assume.

We were getting ready to go out one day during the Christmas break. I knew the dogs were roaming free from the confines of the baby gates, and I thought I heard them go into the bedroom. I didn’t see them walking around, so I figured they burrowed under the bed covers, hiding out until it was time for us to leave.

I didn’t think anything of the stillness of the house until I walked into the kitchen. The pups hadn’t gone back to bed at all. They were quiet because they were eating the cookies that had mysteriously made their way to the floor. Moose and Red were helping themselves to the treats. They were taught the “leave it” command, which saved them from potential disaster one time when chocolate fell on the floor, but I doubted that they would remember it from their puppy classes. Even if they did, they couldn’t hear me anyway. Instead, I swooped in and removed their bounty, now in pieces, from the floor. The aftermath looked worse than it was. They don’t have a full set of teeth between them, so I doubted that they ate much before I intervened.

How did the cookie tray end up on the floor? I didn’t have to see it to know what happened. I have no doubt that Moose was responsible for procuring the cookies. He is a notorious chow hound, with special skill. He will stand on his back legs at any surface containing food, stretching a front leg to paw at anything edible that he can knock to the floor. My guess is that Red was innocent in this debacle, but stood by to share the fruits of his brother’s labor.

The moral of the story is never underestimate blind, deaf dogs. While those senses diminish with age, the power of scent remains as strong as ever. I should have known they could locate and get into the treats left too close to the edge of the table. I did order a replacement tray, and that one is out of the way from the old men that still have some puppy in them.

The Long Arm of the Lawless Moose (1)

Crime Scene

I Fought the Cat and the Cat Won

I Fought the Cat and the Cat Won (2)

Bloody Tears

What kind of trouble can a 13-pound dog get into when left to his own devices? In just a few minutes, Red got himself a trip to the vet, and an unexpected bill for us.

I knew on the way home that the dogs were loose and not crated. Their dad came home from work to feed them, but needed to return to work for an evening event. This meant the boys would be out alone for a few minutes until I could get home, which is no big deal.

When I came through the door, I saw the usual assortment of cats, and Moose was on the loveseat. Red was not in his usual spot on the couch. In fact, he was nowhere to be found.

I soon saw that the baby gate leading to the kitchen was moved, enough for an elderly Italian greyhound to fit through. My guess is that Red moved it so that he could jump onto our bed and burrow beneath the blankets. At his age, sleeping is his preferred past time.

Red was in our bedroom as I expected, but he was standing on the floor at the foot of the bed. Looking back, I remember that Tiger was laying on the bed by the pillows. I coaxed Red back into the family room.

I went about my business, but Red seemed out of sorts. He didn’t want to settle on the couch like normal. He was wandering around when I noticed blood on his face. I couldn’t be sure if it was coming from his face or eye. He wouldn’t let me wipe away the blood, let alone allow a closer inspection. Red was squinting the affected eye, so I decided a vet visit was in order.

We were seen fast, and Red was taken away for a quick test. The results revealed two scratches to his eye consistent with cat claws. We had four suspects at home. Red was prescribed two eyedrops, which he was terrible about taking. He turned into a tiny monster.

I’m happy to report that Red’s injury healed on its own with little intervention. He had a follow-up visit combined with his normal mani/pedi appointment. We’re not sure how much Red could see with that eye anyway, but at least he wasn’t in any pain.

What do I think happened to Red, and who was the culprit? I think he pulled the baby gate away from the doorway and went through the kitchen in search of our bedroom. Once in there, he likely wanted to burrow under the covers, which is where he sleeps at night. I believe he jumped on the bed, not realizing that feline brother Tiger was in close proximity. The cat may have been surprised, or simply protecting his sleeping space and lashed out, causing the eye injury. (It should be noted that Tiger regards our bed as his during the day. He probably wasn’t willing to give up his spot so soon in the evening). I’ll bet Red jumped off the bed as fast as he could. That would explain why I found him dazed in our room. Poor little pup.

I Fought the Cat and the Cat Won (1)

All Cleaned Up

The Moo, The Myth, The Legend

The Moo The Myth The Legend (2)

Happy 17th Birthday Moose!

If you said I would have a dog live to 14, I would be hopeful. If you said he would live to 15, I would be skeptical. Over 15? That’s crazy, yet here we are. Tomorrow Moose turns 17 years old, an advanced age for a canine.

He was our first puppy, and we made mistakes with him. For starters, we botched crate training. We didn’t know we were supposed to limit the space in his crate. We gave him a big crate, and we spent many late nights cleaning a dirty puppy as a result. We finally got the gist of it, and Moose became well housetrained, which is a major challenge with Italian greyhounds. That is one of the biggest reasons this breed is surrendered.

I remember being scolded on our first trip to the pet store. He was the tiniest, cutest puppy on the planet (if I do say so myself). As such, I was excited to show him off. I didn’t realize how dangerous that was, as he was a bit too young and hadn’t had all of his shots. He could have picked up something from other canine shoppers just by being on the floor. Fortunately he didn’t, and we only returned when he was fully vaccinated. He was always social and looked forward to adventures outside of the house and yard.

His first official bath (aside from the spot cleaning due to crate messes) was by a groomer. This person picked him up by his front legs at their initial meeting, and I should have canceled the appointment right then and there. Instead I spent the entire time he was getting bathed a nervous wreck. He emerged clean and in great shape, but after that experience, it was puppy shampoo and the bathtub at home from that day forward. Italian greyhounds don’t require much grooming when it comes to their coats. A bath a handful of times a year is sufficient, and Moose would agree, as they were never his favorite activity.

The first time I heard a reverse sneeze I was hysterical. It’s sort of a weird wheeze, basically their way of clearing out their nose. I thought for sure my little guy was fatally ill. It turns out that they’re normal and common in small breed dogs. Whew.

Moose’s first birthday was memorable. I bought him some sort of all-natural doggie cake online. What a disaster; he was so sick after eating it that I thought for sure his first birthday would be his last. I would be more careful about special treats in later years. Of course, his special day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the store for a toy. We let him pick out his own special gift, and squeaky toys were his favorites.

Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the time we have had together. I never expected him to live this long; that’s an old age even for a small-breed dog. His health may be declining, but I treasure every moment with my senior pup.

Happy 17th Birthday Moose!!! I Love You!!!

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Flashback to Moose’s 5th Birthday Party

Dog Food Drama

Dog Food Drama (2)

Food Boycott in Progress

Why is it that dogs sometimes just stop eating their food, with no apparent medical issue the cause? I’m sure if I ate the same thing every day, I would grow tired of it, too. I don’t mind switching up their food, but why do they boycott it just after I’ve bought more cases of it?

Red is our household food critic. For a dog that once gifted his grandmother a bird he found in the yard, he has discerning taste. One day he stopped eating his usual canned food. Moose eats prescription food, so I can’t pawn off Red’s food on him, lest I upset Moose’s sensitive tummy. Make no mistake, Moose will eat ANYTHING. This is only the second occasion in Red’s life that I can remember him staging a food boycott.

At first I thought maybe he had a reason behind leaving his bowl near full, as he’s a senior guy. Sometimes he won’t eat much in the morning, but will empty his dish in the evening. I thought that was what was happening until I noticed the bowls weren’t being emptied.

It turned out that he was hungry and wanted food, just not that food. He was far more interested in what everyone else had to eat. He even found cat food appealing. That’s when I knew we were in food boycott mode.

The first boycott came while he was eating the chicken and rice recipe from a well-known brand. He and Moose ate it with gusto, until Red decided he didn’t want it anymore. I bought more varieties of the same brand until I found one that he loved. I have found that for Red, food love is fleeting.

Red ate every other flavor that I bought, so I chose a canned formulation of turkey, duck, and chicken as his main meal. He devoured it. When our usual pet food store ran out of the cans, I scoured other retailers in search of this magic blend. He seemed appreciative of my efforts, gobbling up the concoction. Then came the day he just stopped eating it.

We are currently in the process of changing his food. I have again purchased different flavors in the same brand, hoping that one will get his seal of approval. The kicker is, he will eat any flavor that is different from his current food. I think he enjoys variety, so perhaps that’s what we’ll do to prevent any boycotts due to boredom. Variety is the spice of life, right?

For the record, Red is more finicky than any cat I have had when it comes to food. What do I do with the rejected cans of dog food? When it comes to people, I hate to get rid of something someone else can use. The majority of my stuff gets donated somewhere. The same is true with cast off dog food. I’m sure there are dogs who would be happy to take Red’s food off his paws and enjoy it as he once did, so it gets donated to a shelter or rescue group. Bon appétit from Mr. Red!

Dog Food Drama (1)

Food Boycott Over

Exciting Announcement II

Exciting Announcement II

I am pleased to announce that I am again a contributing author, this time in Carol M. Ford’s Golden Linings II: More Tiny Tales about Pets, for Pets. As with the first Golden Linings, author proceeds from sales are donated to animal rescue groups and shelters. As a writer and animal lover, I am proud to have contributed two tales. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, details can be found here. The animals and I thank you for your support!

Also, Tails of Mirth & Madness is now on Instagram! Check it out here.