Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The Princess and the pea

Katie here! HEY! Whatcha doing, whatcha doing, whatcha doing?

HEY!

As you can see I am feeling a lot better. Whatcha doing? Oh…excuse me, sometimes I get distracted. I don’t suppose you happen to have a treat for me? No? Did you check your back pocket? Oh. Well anyway.

Ahem….

So mama and daddy are trying to get me to eat this KD food stuff. I’m back to eating regular dog food, kibble and wet food, and I’m pretty excited about it. Food used to be one of my mostest wonderful, bestest favorite stuff in the whole world.

And then I got sick and food wasn’t so good anymore and everybody got worried. But this past month I’ve eaten more and now, just in the past week I’m back to asking for more food, more treats, more everything!

On my way home from the vet.

But just to keep things interesting sometimes I don’t eat all my supper. I was never like that, I never left even one smidgen of food in my bowl in case someone else came along and stole it, you know.

Now when they give me wet food I might eat some of it, generally with not much gusto, but mama and daddy have figured something out. If they put a fresh pea, pressed into the food, I gobble it up!

Gormet

Seriously, a pea.

Sometimes they add several peas to my meal, sometimes it’s just one pea. Either way, it always works and I clean my bowl right up. And then I lick the bowl to make sure it’s super clean.

Nom nom nom…

If that’s not proof I’m a Princess I don’t know what is.

See you later, your Princess and her pea, Katie-girl.

Hurry up with that dinner, mama!


46 Comments

It’s been a tough few weeks

Katie here. I know some of you have been worried about me, and I blame mama for that. After all, who is she to call me an old dog!? Do I look like an old dog to you?

This was taken today while mama and I sat in the nice cool grass.

No I do not. The fact that I’m 14.5 years old is irrelevent, it’s just a number, you know?

But it has been a rough few weeks, ever since I got that pesky gallbladder out at the beginning of April. The vets put me on some strong antibiotics for six whole weeks, and they sure played havoc with everything! Especially my tummy.

So, since I wasn’t feeling too good I decided I didn’t want to eat the stinky food they were feeding me. And then I didn’t want my old food either. And sometimes I didn’t even want the food mama cooked especially for me.

The primroses in my garden are blooming right now!

Everybody got worried.

But as soon as I got off those awful medicines I started to feel a little better. I ate some, but every day I’d decide what I liked or didn’t like. And it was always different.

Lounging around, as is due any princess.

I like to keep mama and daddy on their toes. They’d think they had figured out what would work and in a few days I’d decide I didn’t want to eat that anymore. Mama and daddy say their house looks like a pet food store now, they have a little bit (and sometimes a lot) of everything I might possibly want to eat.

Yesterday I decided I might not like the new wet food that I’ve been gulping down the past three days. Then daddy got up and offered the same food to me and I licked the bowl clean. Mama is starting to sigh a lot.

These are my wildflowers. They still have some growing to do.

This afternoon I was napping on the floor and mama got down there with me. I asked her to tickle my tummy which she did, but she seemed sort of sad. She said it was because in the old days when she got on the floor to cuddle with me I’d always get up and move somewhere else. I am not a cuddle dog. But today I felt like cuddling and she wonders if maybe it’s because I didn’t feel well.

I even gave her a kiss, which never happens. I think her eyes got a little leaky then. Mine did too.

I guess cuddling isn’t so bad after all.

So anyway.

I want to reassure all my fans that I still have lots of pretty good days. I get to go on walks and mama carries me home. I got to go to my park last week, and if it ever stops raining I’m sure I’ll get to go again. Mama says we’ll go camping in the backyard if I want to, and mama and daddy are both trying to find me the best yummy food that I’ll love. Sometimes I even bark at mama for fun, just like in the olden days.

Happy in my front yard.

All in all, I’m doing OK. I will certainly keep you all posted if anything changes. Mama says everybody should hug their own pets or kids a whole bunch. She says the more you do that the less the chance your eyes will leak when you get surprise kisses.

I think that’s pretty good advice.

Yep, I’m a happy girl.

Talk later, your gal Katie.


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What it means to have an old dog

Having an old dog means you have to watch where you’re stepping in the kitchen while you cook, as she’s underfoot looking for anything dropped, and she can’t hear you move around.

Having an old dog means you get to open string cheese and actually eat the whole thing because she doesn’t hear the wrapper. Or the fridge door opening.

Having an old dog means you can get up to go to the bathroom at night without her getting up and having to do the same.

Having an old dog means when she does wake up in the middle of the night to go outside she’s serious about it and you better sleep with one ear cocked.

Having an old dog means you don’t travel as much, and never as a couple because someone needs to be home with her.

Having an old dog means shorter walks and longer sits on the deck.

Having an old dog means you smile wistfully when she play bows, or attacks your feet. Because she doesn’t do that very often anymore.

Having an old dog means you stare at her when she’s sleeping, memorizing the way her fur curls around her ears.

Having an old dog means more vet appointments and bigger bills.

Having an old dog means cooking chicken and rice for someone other than your people.

Having an old dog means pointing out the squirrels in her backyard and feeling sad when she doesn’t care.

Having an old dog means sometimes you sit longer in one spot because she’s finally settled and you don’t want to make her move again.

Having an old dog means stepping out of the shower and having to dry your own legs off because she doesn’t come to lick away the water.

Having an old dog means waking her up before you go to the grocery so she doesn’t wake on her own and look for you.

Having an old dog means sometimes finding her looking for you anyway, even though you haven’t left the house.

Having an old dog means reassuring her that you’re still sitting in the same chair when she opens one eye to check on you as she naps.

Having an old dog is keeping all her toys, even her frisbee, out of sentimentality rather than any hope she’s going to play with them again.

Having an old dog means going out in the backyard to explore and sometimes having to carry her back into the house.

Having an old dog means the UPS or FedEx driver can ring the doorbell and she doesn’t go crazy barking.

Having an old dog means checking the floor after she’s been deeply asleep to make sure she hasn’t leaked.

Having an old dog means letting her choose where we go on our daily walks.

Having an old dog means sitting at a picnic table and watching her park rather than exploring much of it at all.

But mostly having an old dog means you are very very lucky.

Love you baby-girl.


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The rollercoaster that is Katie

Katie has been sick. The kind of life-threatening sick that makes a sheltie parents’ hearts quicken as they contemplate what life will be like someday when a fiesty little girl isn’t around to make things interesting.

She had emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder in early April, at the age of fourteen, and came through just fine. She’s a strong one. Twenty-one staples held her little shaved tummy together, and she never once tried to mess with them.

But they found some bacteria in the samples they took for biopsy, so she was prescribed two anti-biotics, strong ones, to be taken for six weeks. And they wanted her to change her diet over to a kidney supporting food. And thus the struggle began.

Lucky girl, they told us to feed her a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice for the first two days. She was fine with that. But she wasn’t going to eat that KD dog food. Nope. Not interested. So we suplemented with more chicken, different types of rice, homemade broth made from chicken bones, fresh green beans steamed just so, oven roasted sweet potatoes.

Every day we’d try different flavors of the KD dog food. Sometimes she’d accept the kibble, hand fed as a treat, quite eagerly. The next day she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. The wet food made her turn her face away in disgust.

We’d order more flavors, try to entice her to eat. As the days went on and we kept filling her with antibiotics we learned that a side effect was lack of appetite. She stopped wanting to eat chicken, rice was off the table. Sweet potato sometimes worked. Sometimes not.

We were having more and more trouble getting the pills into her, as she became suspicious of all hand held food, worried about what was in it. Pill pockets didn’t work anymore. Peanut butter was hit and miss. Cheese was a no go.

Every morning I’d start the day trying to get her pain pill administered. “What do you like today, Miss Katie?” I’d ask her. Her face would light up at the memory of getting a wonderful treat, but she’d drop her smile in disappointment when she was offered a pill covered in some previously delectible spread.

By the sixth week I was disparing of ever getting her to eat again, watching her as she slept, missing my fiesty, noisy, curious, happy little girl.

And then, twenty-four hours after her last pill she begged us for something to eat. And we offered her the KD dog food and she gulped it down. “Got any more, mama?” The kibble, offered as a treat? “No problem daddy, I love my kibble treats!”

These days, when she’s being her noisy, curious, happy self, I sit and watch her, storing the memories. Though she’s acting like her old self, the truth is she’s still almost fourteen and a half. We got more time, but time isn’t infinite.

This early morning she wanted to go out and sit on the deck. She won’t do that without me being there too, and I had a long list of things I wanted to get done. But I smiled and took my laptop and we went out. She’s out here now, on high alert, breaking up twigs while watching the road for anyone who might pass by without her specialized sheltie permit. They must be barked at.

I’m sitting here watching the birds and squirrels as they venture out for their morning meal. The nuthatch is peeking at us from the backside of the birch tree which is glowing in the morning light. He’s not sure it’s safe to flit over to the birdfeeder for a tasty treat. Eventually, after scolding us for some time, he decides we are not a threat and he picks out the best seed and hurries away. The female oriole is on the grape jelly feeder, not caring about us at all. There’s our wren warbling further out in the yard, guarding the nestbox where little ones are growing. A male bluebird sits very high in the tree above us, the sun catching the rusty glow of his chest. A chipmunk scurries along the deck, checking us out, and a black squirrel has just climbed the railing, but finding us there, scurries back down again.

Katie is oblivious to all of it.

The black squirrel approaches from a different direction, and she sees him. Much barking and prancing ensues. My happy, silly, curious, noisy girl is back. And oh good, the garbage truck is coming down the road. Another danger to protect mama from. Good thing for all of us that she’s still in charge.

Katie-girl. Our roller-coaster girl is back.

And we are grateful.


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Something to smile about

It’s been a long week at Katie’s house. She came home from the hospital last weekend, with lots of meds, lots of rules, and a plastic cone she dubbed her Easter Bonnet.

Mama. I just don’t think this is a good look for me.

She did look quite adorable in her bonnet once she started smiling again. But don’t tell her I said that, as her head is plenty big enough as it is. And while wearing her bonnet she insists on smashing it into the back of my legs if she dosen’t get everything she wants.

She’s especially adorable when she’s asleep, and not weilding her bonnet as a weapon.

Anyway.

I did get a walk in – – without her, and don’t tell her that either! – – and noticed something that made me smile.

Proof that spring happens no matter what.

It’s definitely spring!

I hope you found at least one thing to smile about this week too. If I stop and think about it I have plenty to be happy about. My girl is home and getting better every day and the trees are blooming and the grass is greening and bits of hope are pushing up out of the ground, ready for another summer.

It’s time to let those smiles fly! Thanks, Trent, for continuing to remind us all just how much we really have to smile about!


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Watch out world, Katie’s back in town!

Katie here! Let me tell you, I’ve had an adventure! I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, but that’s because I’m under the influence of drugs. These drugs make me feel warm and fuzzy….wait, I’m always warm and fuzzy….well anyway, the drugs make me sleepy and mama just gave me another one so I have to type fast before I lose all motivation.

When I first got home.

This adventure all started back in December when I went in for my usual “you’re a very healthy dog Katie” inspection. Usually I’m in and out of there and good to go for another year. Which is good cause I don’t really like going to the vet. That guy pokes me in very private places, you know?

Anyway, this time when my folks got my bloodwork back my liver numbers were all crazy high. The vet said it was nothing he was worried about, cause “old dogs have leaky livers.” Huh. First off, who is he to call me old? And second off, mama knew better and asked for an ultra sound of my liver and gallblader. And you know what he said? He said mama shouldn’t worry about it because “what are you going to do if you find something, she’s 14 years old.”

Then he sent us home noting I was surprisingly healthy for an old dog.

WELL!

My first nap at home post surgery.

Mama and daddy weren’t happy about this at all, so when we got home mama and I took a walk up the street to visit a neighbor who had a vet quite a ways away that he liked a lot. Mama had never considered going to her because she was located so far away, but she thought maybe we needed a second opinion.

So in January mama, daddy and I went way over near Lansing and I got poked and prodded some more. The vet talked to my folks over the phone and mama asked for an ultrasound and the vet said “Absolutely!” and did one right then! She saw the beginning of problems with my gallbladder, and put me on a bunch of meds to treat that and my liver numbers.

Can I get something to eat, mama?

Mama and daddy had quite the process figured out for the next three months, getting all those pills into me at the right times but they had it down. And every month I went back over to Lansing and had another ultrasound and more blood work. The liver numbers were going down but the vet was worried about my gallbladder and told mama and daddy to watch me very carefully, and if I seemed like I was in pain they were to get me to an emergency vet in a big hurry. Cause that would mean my gallbladder was getting dangerous.

So guess what? Last Tuesday night I threw up my dinner without fanfare, right in back of mama who was washing dishes in the kitchen sink. She seemed a bit worried, but the vet had changed some of my meds and the folks thought maybe something didn’t agree with me.

Then the next morning I threw up my breakfast, and mama hadn’t put any of the offending medcine in it. She waited a bit and offered me another small breakfast which I gobbled down and promptly threw up. Then I took a long drink of water and threw that up too.

And then, just to make my point, I started quivering.

I’m actually not that unhappy in my cone. But I keep smashing it into the back of mama’s legs.

Mama and daddy looked at each other and started throwing on shoes and coats and grabbing my meds and stuff and the next thing I know we’re in the car and mama and daddy look stressed.

So I end up in the doggie hospital. They took me inside, away from my parents, and mama had tears in her eyes and kissed me on the nose while the nice lady held me,and then I didn’t see mama again for forever! And all the time that mama and daddy were lost they were poking and prodding me and doing more ultrasounds (which meant they shaved my tummy again!!) and I swear no one was feeding me!

They called mama and daddy that evening and told them I needed that bad gallbladder out of there right away, so on Thursday morning some people came and took me away and I got really sleepy and when I woke up my tummy was cold and I didn’t feel well at all!

Sometimes, though, I give mama the stink-eye. Just because I can.

I stayed there for two whole days. Let me tell you, there’s no rest in the hospital! They’re always checking something, and I was hooked up to all sorts of stuff, I even had a tube down my nose. I guess they did that while I was sleeping cause no way would I have let them even try. A tube down my nose is not a look for a princess!

I was sad and scared and I didn’t feel very well, and my tummy hurt and stuff. I thought mama and daddy were lost forever and I was going to have to stay in this place with all these very nice, but nosey people. But one day a lady came along and put a leash on me and we went for a walk and all of the sudden I was outside. That scared me too, cause I didn’t know where we were going, and so far this adventure hadn’t been very fun.

Mama saw me coming out the door, lagging behind the nice lady, and she jumped out of the car and ran up to the front of the building and let me see her. At first I wasn’t sure if it was really her. After all she had been lost for a hundred days! And she was wearing a mask. But then I realized she was there and I started trotting, although wobbly, toward her. The nice lady smiled and said I was a good girl but I didn’t listen to her, I just wanted to get to mama!

This stupid cone doesn’t slow me down getting to my food, no siree!

Then daddy was there too and everyone seemed very happy and very emotional all at the same time and I told mama to hurry up and get me in my chariot cause I needed to go home! So she did, and she sat with me in the back to hold me cause I wouldn’t lay down. I insisted on standing up the whole way, watching the traffic and smelling the air of freedom blowing in the open window.

It was glorious!

And at home I checked out my house and then asked daddy for something to eat and then I flopped down on my favorite pillow and zonked out for a bit and then I got up and asked for more to eat and then I followed my people around and tried to find a comfortable spot and then I got up and asked for more food…and so on and so on and so on.

Mama says it was a very long first night.

But today is day two at home after being sprung from that camp (which doggies, let me tell you, stay away from the doggie hospital camp, it’s definitely no fun!) and I’m feeling lots better. Mama and daddy are figuring out a new set of pills and I’ve been getting multiple small meals. Personally I think they could make those meals a lot bigger, but I’m still working out the new rules around here.

Mama and daddy say they are glad I got rid of that troublesome gallbladder, they sure didn’t want me to die with a burst gallbladder! What a horrible way to go! And now, after I rest for a couple weeks, we can plan a real adventure. One that doesn’t involve anyone prodding me or taking my temperature in unmentionable places, or giving me a bath or making me wear this stupid hat.

Sometimes if I’m really zoned out and if mama or daddy can sit right there and watch me I get to nap without the cone.

Mama says this is too long, so I need to quit. Plus I’m really tired. I think she slipped me another one of those pain pills that makes me feel good, but oh so sleepy. She says she needs a break. I don’t understand why, it’s not like she had her gallbladder out!

And mama says I need to remember to thank all of you for the kind thoughts and comments and prayers you sent. They made me and her and daddy less scared while we were separated. It’s good to know you’re not alone, you know?

So thank you all, very very much.

For now I’m signing out. Another nap looms on my horizon. Darn drugs anyway.

Love, your Katie-girl, still a very healthy senior princess.

This is not a fashion statement designed for a princess, mama!


54 Comments

Our girl update

I’m sure Katie feels all the love and prayers you’ve been sending her. She always knew she was a celebrity, though sometimes her mama felt she carried that a bit too far, especially in her demands regarding treats durng photo shoots.

But I digress.

By the time I got to the park it had begun to rain.

I just had a call from the doctor in charge of ICU where Katie is recovering. They are going to begin weaning her off of the IV pain meds and get her on oral meds today.

They offered her some chicken this morning and she just about bit their fingers off as she scarfed it down. I laughed and told the vet that Katie would eat chicken all day long if she was offered it. That she’s all about her food.

Artsy-fartsy last of winter’s pretty.

She has gone for a short walk, and they will get her out more today. She might be able to come home tomorrow. The vet sounded a little surprised at that, maybe she thought a 14 year old would be more frail.

Every small thing should be celebrated.

The vet doesn’t know Princess Katie like we know Princess Katie, does she. Katie is a strong little girl, and very stubborn. She always gets what she wants.

It didn’t look at all like spring on this trail.

I imagine what she wants about now are her own pillows (note plural, a princess must have multiple pillows) and her own water bowl and her own food and especially her own people.

Oh…and her squirrels. She doesn’t ever want to be derelict about her squirrel warning responsibilities.

Kind of like a squirrel’s tail. But not.

We, Katie’s subjects, are gratefull for your love and support. It’s been a difficult couple of days, but it was easier with all of your messages. I’ll make sure Katie reads your well wishes when she gets home; I know she’ll want to tell you all about her experience herself.

In fact she’s probably asking them for a laptop as we speak.

We have a lot to be thankful for.

Images in this post are from a walk I took yesterday afternoon after we knew she was doing OK. I walked a short nature trail at a park near me, sat on a bench and took a deep breath and said thanks to the universe that we get to keep our girl for awhile longer.

Grateful for the light in the midst of the storm.


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Our girl

On this beautiful spring day our girl, the Princess Katie, is at an emergency vet clinic having surgery to take our her gallbladder. They will also biopsy her liver while they’re in there, as her bloodwork shows a marked increase in values that are worrisome.

Our backyard this morning.

I had planned on putting the tent up yesterday afternoon, and spending last night with her camping in our backyard. We’re having unseasonably warm weather and she’s been a bit listless. I thought she’d enjoy a night outside.

Hopeful yellow everywhere.

But we found out yesterday that she’s listless for more scary reasons than just being bored.

One strong blossom sitting alone.

She’s in surgery now. She (and we) would appreciate any good thoughts you have to spare. She’s a senior girl, but she’s one of the strongest seniors I’ve ever met.

Hope shines.

If any dog can get through this at her age, she can.

Pure love.

Our girl.

UPDATE: 11:30 am She’s out of surgery, in ICU, they are waking her up now. She did good, some biopsies were taken and are off to the lab. Now we wait for those reports. She’ll stay in the hospital for another day or so. Can’t wait to kiss her nose again.