We have a lovely, slightly-spoiled doggie named Ocean. She’s an akita, a breed we didn’t know really well before getting her, and pretty independent. We used to have two akitas but, as life would have it, we lost River and now we only have Ocean.
Life as an only dog suits Ocean just fine. She gets twice the kisses, treats and tons of toys. She also gets to participate in a lot of conversations with me. I however, wonder if she wants a brother or sister.
I talked to her about it, but she didn’t seem very open to the idea.
Me: What kind of breed do you think you’d like for a brother?
Me: What about a bulldog? They’re super cute.
Me: What about a Neapolitan Mastiff?
Me: Hm…what about a bullmastiff?
Me: What about an Irish Wolfhound? They’re beautiful.
Me: A bloodhound? A Newfoundlander?… You know, if you don’t help me, I’ll end up at the pound and get a rescue.
We lost River about a month and a bit ago. I didn’t post about it because, at first, it was simply too painful. Then, I didn’t want to post because this blog is about positive things. Now, finally, I think I have turned a corner.
And it’s all thanks to Ocean.
I came home from the vets that day, wrung out and still crying. Saying goodbye to River was awful, just god-awful. It tore my heart into pieces and I cried inconsolably for hours at the vets. I couldn’t see past my pain.
I opened the back door to let Ocean in mentally preparing myself for her reaction to the loss.
Ocean bounced into the house like a spring lamb. She bounced as if she had springs on her feet. She pounced on her toy and proceeded to throw it in the air, bouncing around the furniture with sheer joy.
I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t she miss her brother? Where was her sadness at this terrible situation? Didn’t she care?
Ocean cares. There is no doubt in her soft eyes or her gentle acts towards us that she loves us completely and unconditionally. She adores us and she loved River. But she also lives in the present, not the past. And that was something I had to learn from her.
They say it takes a year for a house to become a home. I had never heard that before we moved to our present house but it certainly didn’t feel like home when we walked in. As time passed and I walked around the place expecting the old owners to come in and kick us out, I wondered just how true that saying was.
Our previous house was a tiny, cozy thing, just right for two people. By contrast, this house is big and poky, with doors, hallways and stairs everywhere. When I first saw it, I thought it’d be the perfect house for witches to live in–if they used a gas fireplace and needed air conditioning.
I was working from home when something flashed by and I glanced out the window and there was River, outside the fence, striding among the flowers, having a wonderful time.
We’d like to think we’re responsible dog owners. When we moved in, we installed a six-foot fence along the perimeter of half the back of our house. We also put metal bars at the bottoms and tops of the fence and tied the fence to the bars with zip ties so that they could not dig their way out or bend the fence.
Six feet. With bars.
Well, they found a way.
I ran out with leashes in hand and found River pretty quickly. He had probably started to wonder where his next meal was going to come from and was heading home. Ocean was a blur in the distance. I called her, she wagged her tail happily and took off.
Cursing that it was me and not my husband who had found the dogs, I put River inside the house and ran back out towards Ocean. She wasn’t thinking about her next meal, Ocean loves nothing more than to run and she was doing just that.
I shudder to think what out poor neighbours must think as they see these two escape artists legging it around. Big fence but pretty useless. Don’t those people check on their dogs? We should call the pound, the dogs don’t even come when she calls them.
I have managed to get both hounds back. They are delighted with this morning’s activities and don’t show an ounce of shame between the pair of them. They can’t wait to see what’s in store for this afternoon. I, on the other hand, am exhausted.
It happened yesterday, just before supper. Ocean, our akita girl, wasn’t acting right. I thought maybe she was feeling sad or off and I started giving her kisses and petting her. That’s when I noticed how tight and bloated her stomach was.
And she was trembling.
Now, most people wouldn’t panic but I panic at the drop of a hat. Watching Ocean shift restlessly in what I now recognized as pain, made me want to call an ambulance over. Instead, I called my hubby and two minutes later, we were in the car on the way to the nearest emergency vet.
We got there with a dog that was quickly deteriorating. Thankfully, they saw her right away. Ocean was inside the clinic for a minute before the vet called us (we weren’t allowed inside–I asked) and told us the diagnosis: A twisted stomach. Either Ocean got an immediate operation or she would die.
We had to wait hours for the results of the operation but I’ll tell you right away. Ocean survived and is recovering. She’s still at the vet hospital because until she can eat solid food again and take her medicines by mouth and not an IV, she can’t leave. We are at home, relieved and looking at River with sharp eyes. If he so much as yawns too widely, I worry.
I don’t want to jinx our situation and celebrate too early her recovery but I did speak to the vet this morning and she said Ocean was doing much better. We’ll know better by the end of the day because complications can still happen but the nightmare of yesterday is over.
I know Ocean is only a dog, and I know she’s going to die but yesterday, while we were driving to the vet and she was shaking with pain, I was beside myself. And she would try to lean against my side to try and console me. It’s things like that that make me think: humans could learn so much from our doggies.
We have morning kisses in our house. They don’t actually involve my husband and I. They involve…well, our doggies.
It started innocently enough, with me giving our two pooches kisses after they ate their breakfast. I was just hugging and petting them because they’re simply adorable and so loving that I couldn’t hold back the kisses.
Soon, though, it turned into something bigger. Ocean started ignoring her breakfast until she had received her ‘quota’ of kisses. And now, her bowl of food doesn’t have the attraction my smile and hands do. Her ears flatten sideways, her tail waves like crazy and she wiggles her entire body dancing her way towards me; thrilled at the prospect of those kisses.
It’s a mutual thing. I believe there is something therapeutic in seeing a little creature closing her eyes with bliss while I kiss her forehead and ask her how her night was. I whisper softly into her ears and tell her I love her and that she’s going to have a lovely day and I believe I get more out of it than she does.
My hubby, the therapist explained to me that witnessing something horrific is traumatic for those who see it. I believe the opposite is therapeutic. It certainly feels like it. When I kiss River’s flat, soft head and tell him that there is a sunny-filled day waiting for him outside and he closes his eyes and sighs, I can feel a part of me heal.
This was said by my lovely hubby, who has been hinting at getting one of those things for weeks now. I have argued against it because they are super expensive and we already have an indoor pool. Add a hot tub and we’ll never get rid of the house guests.
My reasons don’t seem to be making a difference. He’s pretty determined. It’s the one thing, he claims that will ensure his happiness.
I should really give him a quote on happiness from the Buddha.
Or maybe I should just show him this picture. River is a master of happiness. And all he needs is…kisses.
River is our male akita…we have two of them. He’s larger than Ocean (our female), more easy going and definitely fluffier. We often say Ocean looks like a wolf while River looks like a bear. His fur is so thick, you can’t see his neck.
But lately River has been having fur troubles. He was losing it in areas and it was oddly greasy in others. Worse, he’s itchy. All the time.
This isn’t new. River has had fur troubles for a while. And he’s always been itchy. We’ve gone to vets about it, changed food, washed him all to no avail. Finally, one vet suggested testing him for allergies and Seborrhea dermatitis.
That’s when we found out that River has both Seborrhea and allergies. Severe allergies. In fact, he’s allergic to…well, to everything.
The treatment the vet suggested was overwhelming. We would have to get a serum made for him specially on a monthly basis. We would have to put him on special diet made of nothing but soy (the only protein he’s not allergic to). He’d have to take special anti-itch pills and go to the groomers on a regular basis to bathe in special anti-seborrhoea shampoo.
It had taken us quite a bit of money to find out what River had. The treatment the vet suggested was…well, it was expensive. Really expensive. The alternative was…well, saying goodbye.
When I heard about it, I cried and then tried to think what would be the best answer for my dog. Hubby had a fit. He cursed, threw his fist in the air and got on the phone. After a long conversation he finally got the vet to agree to an alternative solution. Steroids.
So, now River is on steroids. It’s not a perfect solution and we know that. But we’re not saying goodbye and we’re not selling our house to keep him alive. It’s a compromise.
I really hope he knows just how much we love him. I also hope that what little time we have left with him helps us be able to say goodbye when that time comes. Still, it’s pretty sucky news and that’s why I’ve hesitated about posting this. My humble little blog is supposed to be cheerful and positive.
River is our male akita. A member of a very hairy breed, this dog has always been extra fluffy. It’s not just the sheer quantity of fur, or the length, it’s the thickness of it that’s incredible. There are places in River’s body you cannot get through that fur and find skin.
Akitas blow their coat twice a year. Blowing their coat simply means they turn into hair-dropping machines for weeks on end. Tuffs of the stuff falls off them in clumps, long hairs drop everywhere and join groups to make tumbleweed-like balls around the house. They drop so much fur that I often wonder how they don’t end up bald. But they stay their furry, fluffy selves. The floor, however, is covered and I run around with my vacuum like a mad woman during those times.
Over the years, River’s coat has gotten thicker and harder to clean. We’ve increased the washes, but we couldn’t get through the fur to the skin underneath. The problem was that neither could fresh air. So his skin stayed wet and created infections.
One visit to our vet and a series of antibiotics later, River’s skin was back to its happy pink and no longer irritated. But antibiotics could only do so much. His fur had to be combed and parted so the issue wouldn’t return. This could only be achieved through a professional groomer.
We worried River might not like the groomer, so we gave him some gentle sedation before he went, but we didn’t need to worry. The soothing bath and relaxing massage that went along with the spa-like treatment were right up his alley. River loved every minute of the grooming process.
The best part, though was the result. After wards, River’s fur was so soft, it was almost like touching down. Touching him was a delight on the senses. It was like caressing a puppy.
I’ve taken pictures, though I’m sorry to say they don’t actually show just how fluffy and soft he is. Still, to a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look at his fluffiness, River.
It so happens that we have a house with a pool. We’ve never had one before and had no idea what to expect. An odd thing happens when you have a pool. Suddenly, people come over; and, more often than not, they bring their little ones in tow.
When we lived in the country, we had few visitors and even less little children over. Now, we’re suddenly the destination of parents. By the horde.
Adults like the pool but it doesn’t have the attraction for them that it has for children. And, if the children are poor swimmers or just out of babyhood, their passion for the watery domain knows no bounds. This is where I get worried.
I don’t know if it’s because I was once a lifeguard or because I tend to worry, but something happens to me when l see little kids kicking underwater and only the top of their head showing. I need to haul them out or give them a flotation device or jump in and stand beside them. I need to know they are safe. And breathing air.
Overall, none of the parents we’ve had share my concern. They simply trust that their offspring will emerge from under the water and take their next breath; some go so far as to turn on their cells and tune the entire scenario out. I can’t do that. In fact, their easy-going attitude freaks me out.
I wish I had a trusty Newfoundlander by my side who would happily splash into the pool and save the soggy, struggling swimmers. But I don’t. What I have are two fluffy akitas who have no idea how to swim or interest in the pool.