Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Nothing to say

I sit here with a few pictures from around the yard to share but nothing to say.

Daddy red-bellied woodpecker is back after raising his kids.

Everything seems bigger than my words. Sadder.

Daddy’s girl follows him to the deck for breakfast.

There’s Hurricane Ida leaving devastation from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

Early morning light.

There’s the covid resurgance in my state and most of the country.

Afternoon sun makes everything brighter.

There’s kids going back to school while parents and school boards shout at each other over masks.

Wasps are storming the hummingbird feeder. I took it down for a couple of days.

There’s Texas.

The hummers are unhappy with me.

I need to look seriously for the good that I always say is there amongst all the trouble.

Shadows everywhere.

A good long walk in the woods might help.

I don’t know what these are, they are tiny, hidden in the messy wildflower garden.

But there are those mosquitoes.

And I know just the place to take a walk, too.


35 Comments

Just too much

This morning when Katie-girl woke me at 4 a.m. to go outside I turned on the news to get the latest on hurricane Ida. I have a few friends in the path of the storm.

I watched a few minutes of roofs being torn off buildings and downed trees, utility poles snapped in half, blinding rain. My heart broke. Then the anchor turned to Afghanistan and the thirteen soldiers whose families are beginning their new normal and my heart broke again. And after that were images of the fires in the west. And then Corona virus hospitalization numbers.

After our storm last night.

I turned the television off.

Katie and I went back to bed. She fell asleep instantly, not burdened by worry. I lay there for awhile trying not to get sucked into despair.

But this morning, as I was fixing Katie’s breakfast (boiled chicken, white rice, Royal Canin kibble, green beans and pumpkin) I noted that the air felt fresher, the temperatures cooler than we’ve had in a very long time.

As she ate I went out to fill the birdfeeders.

Early morning of a fresh new day.

A little chickadee flitted around my head, waiting for his favorite feeder to be rehung. A hummingbird checked us both out, reminding me I needed to put fresh sugar water out too.

There was cool morning dew on the roses.

Ripe tomatoes were ready to be picked in the garden.

The sun was coming up and a kingfisher clattered through a beam of light, headed for the pond.

Yes, there are terrible, terrible things going on here at home and across the world. Yes today is a sad day, yesterday was a sad day, all of last week was terrible for so many people. Tomorrow might not be better.

But I am so lucky that when I take the time to look there is usually something good to find, even in the midst of just too much.

Watcha doing, mama?

And that makes me smile.


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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!


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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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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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Remembering Ricky

Katie here.

Mama said I could get on her blog to tell you about my buddy Ricky who crossed the Rainbow Bridge last week. He was one of the original dogs with blogs, and mama found his blog years and years ago when we were all youngsters. There were a bunch of shelties with blogs back then — Ricky and Misty and Miley and Reilly and Ludo and Morgan.

Mama thinks there were more, but she can’t think straight when her eyes are leaking.

Anyway, we noticed Ricky right away because he was such a dapper little man. So much sophistication in such a little package. Mama likes to call him Little Ricky, because he was tiny.

But he had a big personality.

Ricky had fun with agility, but he liked to do it his way. His mom worked and worked to speed him up, but Ricky was his own guy and took those obstacles at a speed he deemed appropriate. Especially, as we remember, the dogwalk where he liked to survey the entire facility as he moved arcross the top. Ricky, always so elegant, never felt there was a need to hurry.

Ricky was really good at learning tricks too, and for a time he learned a new trick every week. His mom posted videos of his latest accomplishments and we were always so impressed! He learned to hold things in his mouth, and spin to the left and the right, to play dead, and so much more. He was so smart, and he made mama and lots of other people smile every week.

In fact, Ricky was something of a celebrity, he had so many people that enjoyed watching him learn new things. I told mama that we should try to meet him, and she said she’d see if she could arrange it. And guess what? I got to visit Ricky two times! It isn’t often that a girl from a small town gets to meet one of her idols in real life, you know?

In fact, visiting Ricky was one of my very first big adventures, cause they lived hours away from me and in a different state and everything! It was on a trip to visit Ricky that I proved to mama that I was a good traveler!

Ricky was such a gracious host. He shared his house and his people and his beautiful yard with me without any protest. He was such a cool dude, we got along great because we ignored each other most of the time. He didn’t even get mad when I drank out of his waterbowl!

He was so polite and nice to me that when we stayed over night at his house I decided to invite him into our bedroom (OK, it was really his room, but he let us stay there) to do obedience with mama and me so that he could get some treats from her too. Ricky really loved treats.

And that first visit he took me in his car to one of his parks! I was so excited! Ricky, of course, was too cool to be excited about a car ride with a silly girl.

It was a very very beautiful park with a little stream at the bottom of a big gorge. We walked and walked, with lots of sniffing thrown in. Wherever Ricky sniffed, I sniffed; he was sharing all the best stuff with me!

And when we climbed back out of the ravine there were beautiful gardens and we sat close to each other on this little wall so the moms could take pictures. He was much more patient than I was with the whole picture taking thing. This was way before I contracted with mama about the one picture, one treat clause, so we ended up sitting for way too many pictures for way too few treats. But Ricky never got upset.

He was such a special boy.

I visited him a second time, and by then he had a little sister who was, of course, bigger than he was. We all went to a park together again and had a wonderful time. Ricky was so patient with all the girls, his mom, my mama, his sister and me.

I am so sad that Ricky had to go on ahead. But I can imagine him exploring the whole place, and finding the best sniffing spots, and where all the good treats are. And I bet he’s found Ludo and Reilly and Denny and Morgan and Misty too by now. Just picture it, all those shelties running and laughing and enjoying snacks. All those sheltie smiles as they play together while they wait for the rest of us to arrive.

It’s got to be one amazing place, over the Rainbow Bridge. I wish he could have stayed here with his mom and dad and sister, but I know he’s happy there too. He may have been a little guy, but he sure shouldered a whole lot of love from all of us who knew him.

See you later, Little Ricky. I’m so glad I got to meet you, and I’ll never forget your friendship. You were and always will be one classy dude.

-Love, your pal forever, Katie.


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Remembering a neighbor

Yesterday I was wandering near one of the towns where I grew up. Since I was so close I visited a local cemetary more to see the lake I lived on than to visit anyone there. It was a cold, windy day, so the lake was choppy and uninviting. It seemed a little surreal to be parked on the shores of the lake, gazing out at the small islands where we used to take off and land on water skies more than 50 years ago. The lake seemed so big when we were growing up, but looked so small yesterday.

Though I didn’t drive by our old house, I did think a bit about the neighbors we had growing up. And somehow, no reason why that I could determine, I wondered whatever happened to a woman who lived next door with her husband and adult son. I knew the two men had died, I’d kept in contact with her for a long time but lost track of her years ago.

So when I got home I googled her and smiled when I read in her obituary that she had lived to be 101. As I read about her life, her family, her accomplishments, memories of her energy and smile felt like hugs. And then I noticed the day of her birth, way back in 1909.

She was born on April 19th, the very day that I’d, for no reason at all, been thinking about her enough to make me look her up.

Happy Birthday Mrs. Holsted. You were a wonderful neighbor to our house full of gregarious kids. I hope you had cake yesterday, with your husband and son. Thanks for popping up in my memories.

You made me smile.


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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.


74 Comments

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.