Dog Blog

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A near disaster occurred this afternoon while on our walk at the park.  It's been a very blustery day with winds up to 40 mph.  It's the kind of day that topples old, brittle trees, and Sacramento is the City of Trees.  As we walked around the back of our park I purposely walked the dogs well out of range of the old cork tree and other tall trees for fear a branch might break as we passed beneath it.  With the extremely dry year we've had, trees splinter like match sticks in a high wind like we've had today.  They fall on houses, cars, and sometimes people, or even dogs.

As we headed back to the car I decided not to walk our usual way past the tall trees that line the sidewalk and instead led the dogs the other way past the picnic area where the trees are younger and not laden with heavy branches.  Just as I loaded the dogs into the car, I heard a loud crack from the other side of the park and glanced in time to see a tree split right in half.  It fell at the exact spot where we would have been moments earlier if I'd chosen to walk that way. I might not have been hit because the tree barely missed the sidewalk, but the dogs surely would have been because they'd have been sniffing under the tree where Bubba always liked to stop and sniff.  Either I am psychic and had a premonition about a falling tree or our guardian angel was watching over us today.  


Monday, October 26, 2009

Peaches and Beau wore each other out this evening racing all over the yard and house.  It was hysterical to watch, and I haven't seen Peaches move like that since we've had her.  With all this exercise, she is going to be a svelte basset in no time.  They really seem to like each other and enjoy playing.  I didn't realize before how bored Peaches was and how much she needed a pack mate.  

She knows now to keep him in line when he gets too pushy, and he knows when to back off.    
Actually, she's quite the little tease.  She wags her fanny in his face and was even sitting on his head yesterday morning in my office.  This evening she was teasing him with her favorite sock monkey toy.  Now if she starts to share that with him, I'll know she's really smitten with this new boy on the block.     

We watched the two of them dash like crazy things from one end of the yard to the other for quite some time.  I kept waiting for them to wear down, but they kept right on playing.  First he had her down on the grass, then she had him down for the count.

It does my heart good to see them engaged in their daily basset games.  I'll try to get some footage next time to share.  


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beauregard Longfellow--Beau is short for a very long dog--has been with us one week now.  He has fit into our pack so well and seems very content in his new life.  He hasn't missed his former one a bit. There has been no real adjustment required.  He and Peaches adore each other and engage in mock battles.  It's so fun to watch them play together.  Their antics make me laugh, and I feel happier than I've been in many months.  The pack is complete again.  I know now that I made the right decision in adopting another male dog.  It's almost like having our dear old Bubba back again.  Sometimes, when I glance at Beau just so, I'd swear it's Bubba.  I like to think he's still here with us in spirit.  

I confess I had some trepidation because one dog is definitely easier and less expensive to care for, plus I didn't know how well Peaches would adapt to sharing the limelight with another dog after being top dog these many months or if having another might negatively affect our special bond.  However, I've taken pains to give her extra attention, so the transition has been smooth. She seems to have no issues with Beau being here and enjoys having a canine companion again. It's the quickest bonding any of my adoptees have had with each other, so I'm very pleased at the outcome of the decision to take on another dog.  Two is definitely better than one.  They are such a comfort and joy to have in our home.

The only complication has been Beau's mild case of kennel cough, but he is already pretty much done with that. There was just some sneezing but no coughing.  Peaches had a much worse case when I adopted her.  It lasted three long weeks!  Evidently, his age and natural immunity in concert with the inoculation he received incoming at the shelter and the Clavimox antibiotic has done the trick.  With the exception of a little infection of his stitches and some pretty bad bruising of his scrotum from the neuter surgery, Beau's right as rain.  Neutering an older dog is more involved than neutering a young one, and the photo shown here is a solid argument, among many, for neutering your dog at an early age when there are fewer blood vessels to be severed with resulting complications.  

But you can also tell from the body language in the photo that he feels comfortable in his new environment.  In fact, he's snoring contentedly behind my office chair as I write this entry.  He seems to have bonded quite strongly with me.  A Momma's boy, for sure.  He doesn't like to let me out of his sight for very long.  Wherever I am, that's where you'll find Beau.

What a difference a week can make in the future of a homeless hound.  I only hope that the other abandoned pets at the Stockton shelter are as fortunate as Beau has been and will also get a new life with people who'll adore them as we already do him.  Sadly, it seems highly unlikely, from what I observed.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I had to take Beau to the vet today.  His neuter stitches have gotten a little infected and his sac is too swollen, so he's on some antibiotic, which will also treat the kennel cough he's developed.  I thought we might not have to go through that with him, but the inoculation shelters give incoming dogs is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.  They are already exposed once they come into those facilities.  Immunity takes time to build up, and the kennel cough takes about a week to develop, so it seems like a waste of time giving the shot.  Perhaps it reduces the infection severity and duration, though.  

The vet also brought up the specter of canine influenza as a possibility but said it's not likely since it has not appeared in Northern California YET.  I sincerely hope that is not what Beau has.  He seems kind of out of it tonight, but I think it's partly pouting that he didn't get another walk.  He's not going to be getting any more until things look better down there.  He has to stay quiet to give himself time to heal.  My husband wants to walk our new dog, so I'll have to fight the both of them, I guess, to keep from having any more complications from the surgery.  

I am utterly exhausted from the past few days' ordeal, so I hate to think what it would be like having a puppy again.  At least Beau has been no trouble other than his medical issues.  He's housebroken, sleeps through the night in his own bed, and obeys all commands.  He is not as stubborn as some bassets I've had, including Peaches, who can be willful at times when she's not getting her way.  

I probably could have bought a show dog for what I've spent on Beau thus far, but that really isn't the point.  I'm glad I rescued him from the Grey Mile.  I couldn't have found a better, more loving dog.  He really is the sweetest, mellowest, most affectionate dog I've had, with the possible exception of our first basset, Butterscotch.  Like her, Beau has a heart of gold.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Beau has been with us just two days now, and he has already blended into his new home more smoothly than I could have imagined.  It was my main worry and caused me some lost sleep through this whole adoption ordeal.  I have adopted difficult dogs in the past or ones that had unforeseen health problems, some of them fatal, so there are many concerns when adopting pets from shelters.  I am 100% in favor of rescue over purchasing from breeders and pet stores, but the reality is that you don't always know what you're getting.  Mind you, you don't know much about dogs that come from most breeders, either.  Daisy was a pet shop girl and puppy mill dog and, God rest her, she was my worst dog ever. 

The Stockton dog pound was not a facility that does any real health or behavior assessments prior to putting their animals up for adoption.  However, they do inoculate incoming dogs for Parvo, Distemper and Bordatella (kennel cough) .  Other than that, it's basically adopt at your own risk, and the fee was quite high compared to Sacramento shelters, which is why his former owners wouldn't pay up to redeem him.  Beau has thus far cost me about $600 (adoption and neutering, plus blood work and dental, etc.) compared to Peaches adoption fee at the SSPCA of $100.  Beau would have cost me nothing to adopt at the SSPCA because he is five years old.  But who's complaining? What would you be willing to pay for complete devotion and unconditional love?  That is priceless!  

The Stockton staff did not even know whether he was neutered.  How could you not know that? All anyone had to do was check out his undercarriage.  His prodigious baggage was pretty hard to miss.  I understand that they are underfunded and understaffed, as are nearly all shelters in this economy, but I was fortunate that Beau is every bit as friendly as he seemed in the dog pound.  Of course, dogs usually put their best paw forward in the hope of getting sprung from captivity and almost certain death, but what I saw was what I got in his case. 

I also worried that Peaches might resent his presence because she has become so extremely bonded with us in these past seven months since Bubba has been gone.  She was enjoying her top dog status, although I sensed she was lonely without canine company, which is partly why I decided to take on another dog, even though having one is definitely easier and less costly. Also, there are just too many pets now in need of good homes.  I couldn't NOT adopt a dog.  I have taken great pains to do things right this time with proper introductions, giving her extra attention, and not varying our routines so she does not feel slighted in any way.  

We got the sleeping arrangements sorted out quickly, thanks to Beau who has chosen the dog bed on the floor where Peaches sometimes slept.  I think she was just keeping it warm for the next occupant.  I bought a wire kennel to keep him contained because I had no idea whether he was housebroken.  He is, and he wanted no part of any more cages, so I'll be returning that apparatus.  Peaches prefers the chair she inherited from the former top dog, Bubba, and she has kept her throne with no challenges from the new dog.  

Peaches accepts Beau as a pack member and is beginning to like him.  There has been a lot of flirting and tail wagging today.  She has hardly played since Bubba died and mostly lost interest in our old games with Foxy Loxy and Sock Monkey.  It was just no fun any more.  Even chewing a chewy wasn't much fun because there was no competition to make it interesting.  She clearly enjoys hanging out with Beau in the backyard and taking her walks with another dog, like before with Bubba.  Dogs need to be around their own kind, just as humans do.  We'd get awfully bored and lonely if we never had anyone else to socialize with.  Most single dogs get that at dog parks, but of course Peaches is not a dog park fan (neither am I).  It will be interesting to see if she is any bolder with Beau at her side.  We can't take him for a while, though.  He's still healing from his surgery.  I'm trying to keep him quiet, but it's hard.  He's an energetic dog.  

Beau adores her and us.  He has totally accepted his new family and does not seem to miss whoever was in his former life one iota.  And they do not deserve to be missed.  They abandoned him to probable death without a second thought.  I'm so glad I found him.  He's brought much happiness to us in such a short time.  After mourning for Bubba so long, we needed some.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beau came to his new forever home with us on October 17.  He's five years old and in good health.  Not even any kennel cough, which is amazing since he came from the dog pound in Stockton, California, the same place where Peaches came from nearly three years ago.  They call it a shelter, but it's a real old-fashioned dog pound with no frills or creature comforts. They do their best in this lousy economy in a depressed area, I'm sure.  I wish I could have taken all the dogs from that place.  
Beau is a happy, mellow guy who has blended perfectly into our pack after just 24 hours.  He's very loving and demonstrative.  Peaches seems to be accepting him well enough, with just a couple of assertions of dominance to let him know who's still top dog around here.  He accepts her corrections with no complaint.  My husband is happy to have his garage buddy back again.  I know he has missed that with Bubba gone.  Beau looks quite a lot like Bubba, and we even used to call Bubba by the name Beau or Bo Bo sometimes.  It's the next best thing to having him back again.  I believe Bubba would be glad to know we've given another pound puppy like him a second chance at a happy life.
Like Bubba, Beau was a stray.  His former owners were angry at the cost of redeeming him and refused to pay the fee to spring him from dog jail.  So they lost a very fine dog, and we gained one in turn.  



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I just read this comment on a pet loss site that was offered from a vet to a grieving pet parent:  

Your dog is going downhill. Do you want to wait until he gets to the bottom?  

Yes, I confess that I am still grieving over the loss of my Bubba Gump after nearly seven months and have not yet been able to commit to adopting another dog, though I've seen several bassets available in shelters.  

This is the first thing I've read since losing him that helps me put it all in perspective.  I hope it helps someone else who is facing the end of a beloved pet's life or still suffering over the loss of a pet.  

For pet loss support, visit the ASPCA site.


Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm back in Sac but wish I was back at Tahoe, where I was visiting the past week.  I would at least have liked to stay through Sunday, because they got their first dusting of snow.  There were actually two waterspouts moving across the lake.  It was on the news.  Quite a sight!  I saw a lot of other sights up there this time.  It was salmon spawning time and they were having a Salmon Festival at an unspoiled natural area called Taylor Creek.  It's where the salmon return to spawn each year.  They turn a brilliant red color, and it was a beautiful sight but a little sad because you know the salmon have come to the end of their life's journey.  Once they deposit and fertilize their eggs, they die.

Of course, this event brought the bears down to the creek to feast on salmon, and feast they did.  

In all the years I have been going to Tahoe--a lifetime--I had never seen a bear.  I saw my first on this trip.  I saw two, actually.  I was walking Peaches toward the lake at Tallac Point, where we've walked so many times, when some rather wild-eyed-looking tourists coming down the path said there's a bear coming our way.  I was a little worried that it might attack my dog or she might instigate an attack so I made my way back the way I came, but then I stopped and watched from a safe distance.  I only spotted the back of the animal.  I could see the bear was pitch black and it lumbered slowly along the path.  It was obviously a large animal.  Apparently, it took a detour when it saw other tourists.  A couple and their child walked right down the path toward the bear, despite warnings.  I thought that was a bit stupid, since they tell you not to approach the bears.  He could have endangered his young daughter.  

This was about 3:00 p.m.  I took Peaches back to the cabin and killed some time writing at my favorite Alpina Cafe on HWY 89.  Determined not to leave Tahoe the next day without having seen a bear, I decided to go back down to the creek around 5:00 p.m.  A good decision, it turns out, because it was feeding time.  I walked the Rainbow Trail, a little paved tourist trail that meanders through the Taylor Creek marshland, and as I was nearly at the end, some tourists were gathered watching another large bear that had come to fish in the creek.  He put on quite a show for us.  This bear was a golden brown in color, and I got some pretty good shots with my camera, which I will post when I get them downloaded.  The bear leapt atop a dam of logs and devoured a fish before jumping back in the water for more.  It peered up curiously (or was it threateningly?) at us gawkers.  

I was so excited to finally see a bear and see it in its natural habitat, not foraging in garbage cans.  It was an unforgettable experience for me.

The only down side of the trip was seeing how the forest service had thinned out the forest behind our cabin.  It was so thin you could see sky right at the top of the hill, which you never could before because the trees were so thick.  All in the name of preventing fires that threaten property and lives, but I suspect the underlying reason was to profit from harvesting all that lumber. 

My brother was up there when the clearing operation was going on, and he described the giant machine that ripped out the trees and shaved the branches and bark, then chopped them up, all in one fell swoop, like some great wood-eating monster. I don't think he's a tree hugger like I am, but I could tell it upset him. The woods are no longer "lovely, dark and deep" as Robert Frost would say.  The familiar forest paths I have walked all seven of my beloved dogs on had been obliterated, and the
underbrush Bubba meandered through and watered so happily for so many years is gone.  I wept for the decimated forest as I walked Peaches straight up to the top of the hill, with no trees to impede our progress.  It was a far less pleasant climb. Those trees won't grow back in what's left of my lifetime.  

They even cleared all the underbrush, so the poor chipmunks and ground squirrels have no place to hide from the coyotes, and all the animals are starving.  Coyotes are preying on people's pets and the bears are breaking into cabins in their search for food. I heard one almost broke into ours.  I'm glad I wasn't there when it happened!  

Interestingly, the woodsmen spared the burned-out stump I have used for years as a kind of shrine to all my dogs that have passed.  It's where I scattered Bubba's and Daisy's ashes, and I placed a stone the color of each dog's fur in the hollowed out spot on the top.  I always said little prayers for them and communed with their spirits in our sunny spot, a clearing in the forest where the sun shone through the thick pine branches. I even wrote it into my books.  I don't know why they left it behind.  That old, charred stump was probably just something that was no threat in the event of another forest fire, but I like to think maybe they surmised it was special to someone and decided to spare it.  I felt better when I discovered it was still there. 

It's a shame that Lake Tahoe was not designated a National Park before they cleared it of its trees during the Nevada Silver Rush to shore up the mines and the wealthy laid claim to nearly every inch of its shoreline. Tahoe is a national treasure, just like Crater Lake or Yosemite or Yellowstone, but sadly it's treasure for the taking because it has not been preserved for future generations.  We should have left it to the Indians who lived in Tahoe thousands of years before Whites ever laid eyes on its beauty.  The Washoe knew better that we do how to conserve the land and its native creatures.  Their footprint was light on the land.  

Anything not protected from man's greed and his notion of "progress" will surely be systematically stripped of its resources.  I fear it will soon be impossible to "Keep Tahoe Blue," and the Jewel of the Sierra will no longer be as brilliant as it once was.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

BASSET BOOKHOUND -- My letter to the artist