Two Weeks Too Long

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It’s hard to believe that just two weeks, three days and four hours ago, I said goodbye to a dog I had barely begun to get to know.  It seems like only yesterday an old, crotchety pit bull mix known at the shelter as Pugsley weaseled his hobbling mannerisms and dislike of any dog he couldn’t domineer and push around stole our hearts.

In the ten short months that Gus called our home his, we learned many valuable lessons – like the patience and unconditional love and trust of a dog who hadn’t always had the good life which showed through on the many scars and healed old wounds on his old body.  He allowed us to fall truly, madly and deeply in love with his aged soul with utter abandon and his passing three weeks after being diagnosed with lymphosarcoma knocked the wind out of our sails as if we had been blessed to hold him in our hearts for the thirteen odd years he had walked this earth.

Gus was a truly special dog.  He was dignified, stubborn, tenacious and all bulldog even when his body began to fail him.  He pressed on even on those days where he hurt so badly that even a heavy dose of pain medication couldn’t touch.  He always wanted to be the good dog in our house.  He strived to always be with us – as close as physically possible – at all times.  He was a good dog – even when he was being horridly naughty.

Gus was the heart and soul of what a ‘pit bull’ should be.  He loved children and adults of all walks of life.  He had never known a stranger and was as polite as a gentleman when he was asked to be – even if he encountered a rude, ill-mannered creature in our daily walks of life.  He will always be remembered for what he was and not what the cancer stole from us in those last three, short weeks as a member of our crew.  That hole will always be there where he took a piece of our hearts and the hearts of those who knew and loved him with him across the Rainbow Bridge to wait for us and teach those lessons to those who waited along with him until we are able to join him.

There is never ‘goodbye’ in Gus’s world only ‘see you later’ because tomorrow was a new adventure and a new journey on a path that will lead to something amazing.

The Big C Word

gus-june2014-3935What turned out as a routine senior exam because Gus wasn’t feeling good has turned our life upside down for the last couple of weeks.  Gus has lymphosarcoma.  It isn’t slow moving and it is attacking his GI tract pretty nastily.    Our vet didn’t have a whole lot of positive to say because of his age and susceptibility to succumbing if we opted to treat our beloved Elderbull with chemo.  He said that the kindest option would be management and then helping him cross the bridge when the time came – which could be sooner or later.

How did we find out and confirm our worst fears?  Blood work.  We had taken him in because his belly was a bit bloated and he didn’t want to eat his meals and was having trouble controlling his bladder.  The latter is a common problem in the older dogs but I didn’t want him ending up with issues because he had an accident while we were at work and soiled his blanket in his crate.

The results from his blood work weren’t promising.  He has hyper calcemia.  He is anemic.  His thyroid levels were incredibly low.  All of that combined with the added insult, he alsogus-april2014-2622 had a Urinary Tract Infection – the one thing we worked to prevent with his accidents.  The final blow was the lymphosarcoma attacking his GI tract and causing the bloating and unwillingness to eat.

Cancer.  It should be a curse word.  This vile, vile disease is something that takes far too many loved ones from this Earth and runs rampant through our hearts as they deal and cope with this internal Hell until it is time for them to leave us.    We’ve been dealing with it.  We’re making our buddy comfortable.  We are letting him eat whatever makes him eat and keep strength up.  He has been getting to sleep in bed or we’ve been sleeping in the dog beds with him.  We have to keep him cool since he gets uncomfortably hot even though he loves to bake in the sun.  Whatever it takes for however long he has left with us.

We started a bucket list of things to do with him before he crosses the bridge – a “like” campaign on his Facebook page, Gus the Elderbull, in an effort to create a functioning memory that helps other dogs in shelters and a place for owners of their own elderbulls to come and share their memories, going swimming for the first time with us, eating an Oreo gus-july2014-4500cookie even though they aren’t good for him, spending all night cuddling with us.

It hasn’t been easy.  I’ve cried more nights than I care to admit to.  My husband has remained stoic but even he can’t hide the pain.  We’re having to make a decision that no person wants to make.  When is the right time?  Are we being selfish by waiting?  Is Gus happy?  We’re told time and again we’ll know but in my heart, I don’t know.  It’s scary.  I never expected to lose this beautiful soul in such a short time after we adopted him from the shelter – which is currently at almost two months shy of his September 23rd Gotcha Day.  It sucks and it’s something that I could wish on my worst enemy but we will work through it and we’ll make the best of whatever time we have left until Gus lets us know it’s time.

Ten Thousand Visitors!

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I can hardly contain my exuberance in writing this post.  I never in a million years would have thought that my little tiny blog would hit the big 10K in visitors to read what I had to write.  As of this moment we’re sitting at 10,003 people who have decided to visit!

As of July 1, 2013 I was sitting at 5,016 visitors – a feat I had never expected to happen.  When the 2014 Pet Blogger Challenge rolled around, I had set a goal of 10,000 visitors and was sitting at 8,463 hits at that point.  Things slowed to a dull roar as life got in the way of blogging for a few months but here I am sitting at that goal.

What’s next?  Well, there are a lot of plans to revamp and expand Work-A-Bull into a site that will help folks who are interested in being a responsible bully breed advocate, resources for training and competing for all breeds and other things that I’d like to accomplish to make this a well-rounded resource for ALL dog owners no matter the breed.  It will still, obviously, have a heavy bully breed influence as that is what started it all but I’d like to see it go to the next step in the coming months and years but that couldn’t happen without you guys – the people who come to our page, read our entries or even just pop on over to our Facebook page.  Thank you for helping Work-A-Bull reach the next step in our goals!  It couldn’t have been done without you all!

Book Review: The Angel On My Shoulder

blog-roadtrip-rykerncadba2013I had been hunting through various dog titles on my tablet’s Kindle app when I spotted this book.  On a whim, I downloaded it thinking that if I didn’t like it I could easily return it with no harm done to my bank account (which is usually crying because of my book lust!).  It didn’t turn out to be that way.  In fact, I pretty much devoured the entire book in two sittings.  It was one of the most touching stories I have read in a very long time and shows the absolute and utter dedication of one dedicated dog loving couple and their adoration to their beloved canine companion.

The Angel On My Shoulder: Life with an American Pit Bull Terrier encompasses the journey that Jolene and her partner, Cheryl, took in their love affair with their beloved vanilla-colored American Pit Bull Terrier, Rumer, from the day they picked her out as a tiny, squirming puppy until she crossed the rainbow bridge twelve and a half years later when her family was finally able to make the choice to help her cross.

This book is the ultimate tribute to a phenomenal example of the American Pit Bull Terrier.  The beautiful pictures that it paints of Rumer, her life and the tender ways she changed Jolene, Cheryl and their entire family’s lives for the better are truly astounding.  They show that she was more than just a dog.  It shows that she was a beloved and cherished member of the family and an amazing breed ambassador and helped her family become phenomenal stewards for the breed they learned to champion with Rumer’s assistance.

The book itself flows very easily.  There are a few parts that will have you grabbing for tissues (which I admittedly cried through) in where Jolene describes the Rumer’s health issues and her declining health in the last few chapters but overall it is a must read for anyone who loves the breed and has the dedication and time put forward into loving and cherishing a bully breed dog at home – be it rescue or purebred – and shows the reason we must fight for the integrity and survival of our beloved breed.

I purchased this book via e-book format for the Kindle app on my tablet but it is also available in hardcover and paperback as well.  I highly recommend it for any bully breed lover’s collection.

Happy Belated Birthday, Luna!

Oh, wow!  Where has the time gone?  I have been so swamped with getting things done around here  since I have been granted a few weeks off from work that I’ve hardly even touched the blog except to respond to comments and keep updated on the Facebook page that I failed to upload the post in celebration of Luna’s 11th birthday!  Bad, bad dog Mom!  Well, it’s a couple weeks late but here it goes.

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luna-cobo2013-6916It’s hard to believe that eleven years have passed since this little red brindle bundle we named Luna was blessed into our lives.  She showed us the true and utter devotion in what the American Pit Bull Terrier truly stood for in life.  She, even at her age, shows that zest and love of life even on the rare day that she is a bit stiff from over exerting herself in her quest for adventure.

She has been my guiding light in my darkest hour, the bearer of all things bright and beautiful and a whole gigantic portion of my heart that I didn’t know existed until I knew a young dog’s absolute and utter adoration.  Luna has taught so many lessons and broken so many stereotypes that it’s hard to remember on many days that she is canine and not aluna-noviexpo2011-291 small furry human being with all seeking wonderment in her eyes for whatever the day’s adventures may hold.

Without Luna, I wouldn’t have married my best friend.  She helped cement that bond and because of it, we chose to marry on her birthday so that it would be a day that was always remembered even after she had long crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  She has been there with us through thick and thin while we fought to find ourselves and become what we are – with our large family of seven dogs.

Luna is a teacher and by far the best one I’ve ever known.  She never judges and always is there ready to try something new.  I truly don’t know what I or my husband would do without her.  She is our foundation.  She is our shelter from the storm of life and we are both blessed to celebrate another phenomenal year with her sharing our beds, couches and our hearts and hope to have many, many more years to come with our beloved little redhead and her never say never attitude.

Veterinary Betrayal: Where Compassion Turns To Cruelty

Cruelty in the veterinary community is becoming less and less unusual to see as awareness is toward pets as family members rises by the day.  As pet owners, there is a certain understanding and trust in one’s veterinarian that the animal in their care will receive the lou-tiercebest possible medical care that can be provided within the confines of the owner’s ability.  More often than not, this is not a difficult nor unreasonably obtained but a recent case in Fort Worth, Texas has brought concern to the forefront of every pet owner’s mind when it comes to the services their veterinarian may be providing – especially during those last, saddening moments of a pet’s life when an owner is faced with the decision of humane euthanasia.

The highly publicized case of veterinary cruelty involving a long-standing veterinarian named Dr. Millard ‘Lou’ Tierce started after a former employee, Mary Brewer, contacted Jamie and Marian Harris on April 21, 2014 in regard to their beloved Leonberger, Sid, whom they believed had been euthanized in September 2013 after being diagnosed by Dr. Tierce as having a ‘congenital spinal defect’ that would destroy his quality of life.

The Harris’ were told by Ms. Brewer that Sid had been living in a cage 24 hours a day in hissid-ftworth own urine and feces and had also been injured by another employee during his imprisonment by Dr. Tierce.  Ms. Brewer told the Harris’ that she had not come forward sooner because she was concerned for her employment and the paychecks that it provided.  Ms. Brewer quit her job, however, the day that she told the Harris’ about Sid and what he had been through.

The Harris’ sought to free Sid from his imprisonment and went to the clinic, Camp Bowie Animal Clinic.  With Jamie distracting the receptionist and a friend watching the rear entrance, Marian was able to free Sid from his cage and walk Sid out of the clinic without any apparent lameness.  Dr. Tierce followed them out of the clinic and attempted to explain bowieclinicto the Harris’ that he did not euthanize Sid because some of his employees threatened to quit if he did.

Sid was taken to another veterinary clinic after being freed from the clinic.  The second veterinarian performed and MRI and confirmed that Sid had no congenital spinal defect and had been used repeatedly for blood draws – possibly for transfusions or plasma treatments for other dogs in his clinic.  After receiving these findings, the Harris’ filed a complaint with the police and state veterinary board which lead to a raid by police and the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on Tuesday, May 29, 2014.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Tierce turned himself into the police for a charge of cruelty to animals, non-livestock and was released on a $10,000 bond.  He was also notified by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that his license was suspended because of sid1the allegations and charges filed against him.

Unfortunately, the Harris’ aren’t the only family coming forward in this case.  According to MyFoxDFW.com, Ms. Jennifer Braden told investigators that Mr. Tierce may have taken one of the dogs he is charged with supposedly having euthanized and keeping it as his personal pet.  That dog, a miniature dachshund named Temperance Bones, was taken into Camp Bowie in October 2012 after Tierce told Ms. Braden the dog needed surgery and that if the family couldn’t afford the surgery they could euthanize the dog.  He told the family that he euthanized their dog but after he was arrested, Ms. Braden went door to door in Tierce’s neighborhood looking for her dog.  One of the neighbors gave her some startling news that she had seen Mr. Tierce walking that dog only a few months prior.  Ms. Braden firmly believes that her dog was kidnapped because Mr. Tierce had taken a liking to the dog.

The state veterinary board will be meeting within the next two weeks to decide the fate of Mr. Tierce’s veterinary medical license and if it should be revoked.  He has, when asked by the media for comment, declined requests for a statement claiming that the allegations are “all a bunch of hooey” from a disgruntled employee.

Skyy: Three Years Remembered

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In less than twenty-four hours, we are making our almost annual pilgrimage to the Palmetto Pit Bull Club’s show.  This show, which is open to dogs registered with the American Dog Breeder’s Association (ADBA), has been part of our round of shows since we started travelling for the events that the ADBA put in so many years ago.  This show, however, has a far more significant meaning because of a tragedy that struck three years ago before the club moved their show from the Burke County Fairgrounds in Morganton, North Carolina to their current venue in Waynesville, North Carolina.

On April 9, 2011 a fast moving storm rolled into the fairgrounds just as the puppy classes were wrapping up – which I remember all too well since our then little Mika had JUST finished taking a 2nd place.  Dogs and humans were moved into what we thought was safety but not before a wicked blast of lightening reached out and struck a beautiful blue and white dog named Skyy, killing her instantly.  The lightning strike that took her life saved her owner who would have no doubt died if this beautiful girl hadn’t taken the brunt of its force.  The reverberating force from the storm sent nine other people to the hospital after other dog show patrons, utilizing tables as gurneys while paramedics were called, was a fierce reminder to all involved that life was too precious.

Seeing fellow dog show enthusiasts waste no time to help fellow man and dog alike despite mundane dislikes or friendships was a truly awe inspiring.  No able-bodied person failed to help in some way – even if it was as simple as making sure those injured were kept calm and as comfortable as possible while every living being was rounded up and brought into the building to ride out the rest of the storm – which included softball sized hail that damaged at least one vehicle seriously and dented many others.

Those of us who were there have formed a far closer bond and many friendships were formed because of the sacrifice of one dog’s life.  On April 9th every year, many people change their profile photos on Facebook to Skyy’s photo in remembrance for the life lost and the tragedy that was survived and healed from.  We will never forget.  Play hard at the bridge, beloved little girl.  Your memory carries on.

Shelter Dog Saturday: Luna

luna-adoptapup-1896Name: Luna

Breed(s): Belgian Malinois

Age: 8 months old

Gender: Female

If you’re looking for a nice companion or even a sport dog prospect, little miss Luna might just be the dog for you.  She is a very sweet little Belgian Malinois girl who was left behind after her family was deported.  Her unforeseen tragedy turned out into a miracle thanks to a kind-hearted gentleman who reached out to to the wonderful folks at Adopt-A-Pup for help.

With good timing, good people and a Malinois-savvy home that came from the folks over at the American Belgian Malinois Club Rescue Facebook group this little peach has a good start to a bright future ahead of her as she settles into her foster home and the search forluna-adoptapup-1904 her forever home begins.

Luna is a pretty easy-going gal overall.  She rode well in the car and seems to have settled into her foster Mom’s house with no problems.  I personally would have loved to have adopted this little peach myself but we’re pretty full to the brim with our crew.  She will definitely make a wonderful addition for her forever home! I was blessed to actually get to meet and transport this little love and would definitely recommend a breed savvy home because I know how much go these guys can have and how much they enjoy having a job.

If you’re interested in adopting Luna or any of the available animals available through Adopt-A-Pup Rescue, please contact them through their website or their Facebook page.

It’s Going to Cost Me What?!

You never expect to have to drop a whole load of money on a perfectly happy, healthy and mikabedactive young dog until that moment when it actually happens because they do something totally unexpected or a horrendous accident occurs.  This was the case last Thursday for us when our darling milk chocolate darling Mika decided that part of a Wubba’s tail, fleece tug and half of one of my bras (the side with the eye hooks) were perfectly edible and polished them off in the wee hours of the morning and I would have found out too late if I hadn’t stepped on a soggy bra (because I was lazy and left it on the floor the night previously) and realized something did NOT look right on it.

My husband and I figured we could get her to vomit it back up with peroxide – especially since she’s notorious for eating stuffing from stuffy toys (and the reason she is banned from them too!) – and so we weren’t worried too at that time.  My husband and I both worked for one or the other (or both of us!) to get out of work, however, and get her into the vet’s office if we couldn’t get her to vomit.  I tried the peroxide when I got home from work since I hadn’t been gone too long since she ingested the items but she failed to throw the items up.

I called the clinic to warn them that I was on my way up (I actually said, because of Mika’s history for needing x-rays for pulling these stunts that “Mika needed another dose of radiation because it had been far too long and she needed a recharge for her super powers.”) and what I suspected.  X-rays were ordered the second we got into the room after her vitals were checked – which showed a slightly elevated temperature of 102 degrees.  Sure as the fact that the sun rises and sets every day, the metal from the bra showed up on x-rays.  I cringed knowing exactly what it meant and how bad the estimate would be.

My vet’s office is, thankfully, absolutely amazing. My estimate was about half what Imikavet expected at a tune of $830 dollars with all the necessary things for surgery plus the bill of $125 she had already racked up with x-rays, etc.   It didn’t stop me from cringing at the bill but it was a little easier pill to swallow since I knew she could be gotten in that day without paying emergency room costs or allowing for 24-hours to pass into a more complicated extraction area like her intestines.

Thankfully, we have a CareCredit card (which is, in my opinion, an essential thing to have if you have dogs because you NEVER know when one of them is going to have a stupid moment like Mika did…!) which allowed for 18 months of no interest payments on our painful bill.  If we hadn’t, we’ve got an emergency fund specifically for the dogs but I avoid tapping into that unless I have no other choice but the cushion was there for that off chance.

mikavet1Mika went into surgery at round 12pm.  The surgery took around a half an hour from start to finish and was, in relative terms, a simple exploratory surgery because she hadn’t passed any of the items into nastier territory.  My vet, Dr. Eugene over at Hoover Road Animal Hospital, was pleased with the work and when she was in recovery, I was allowed back to sit with her while she came out of anesthesia and see what all she ate.  It was, to be honest, utterly disgusting but I was glad she didn’t eat more or worse.

Ultimately, Mika’s antics taught me a very valuable lesson on being prepared.  The painful and expensive opportunity to know what to watch for when it comes to dogs who don’t think twice and get into things they shouldn’t even when you least expect it.  The financial responsibility overall on a dog may be minimal but an emergency surgery definitely is not and it always pays to save for a rainy day – even if it’s only a few dollars here and there.  You never know when it will be necessary!

Cooking with Dogs: Pineapple Melon Frosty Paws

Even though it’s a winter wonderland outside it’s time for another experiment in the kitchen. The last recipe, Melon Mango Pineapple Frosty Paws, was such a hit that we decided to mix it up and do a little variation on it.  This time we didn’t add the mango or the yogurt so it would be a simply fruity (with a pinch of coconut and honey!) concoction.

My helper dogs had all abandoned me this time because they were all holding down the couch and perfecting the term ‘lazy’ so I had a go of this on my own with no taste testers.  I had to pray it would turn out right for their spoiled rotten doggie selves (which I shouldn’t have feared because it was a hit when they finally got to try them).

Without the hustle and bustle of having a dog (or three!) underfoot in the kitchen, I knocked this one out pretty fast.  I had bought a pretty large watermelon and cut it up the night before so I only needed to cut up the pineapple into smaller pieces than the chunks I had bought before being able to combine the ingredients all together into the blender.  (My blender would like to mention that I’ve been abusing it since I discovered dog treat recipe!)

It was another simple and tasty recipe that definitely made the pups drool for more, but I know what you’re waiting for – the recipe.  Here you go!

Ingredients

-          8-10 pieces of pineapple

-          10-15 pieces of watermelon (or any melon, actually)

-          2 tsp. shredded, unsweetened coconut

-          1 tsp. honey (we used organic)

Instructions

-          Combine pineapple and watermelon into blender.

-          Add the shredded coconut to the mix.

-          Add the honey into the mix.

-          Blend until the consistency of a smoothie.

-          Pour into molds and put into freezer for 2-3 hours.

-          Serve!