Tag Archives: dog

Thoughts on Grief: Our Dog, Katy

7 Jul

We lost our dog, Katy, today to old age. She was roughly 13 years old, though as a rescue shelter adoptee, her age was always more of a guess. We used her adoption date of August 9 as her birthdate, and knew she was roughly a year old when we adopted her, putting her birth year at 2008.

Back when we first adopted Katy, I blogged about it. You can read that post here. In that post, I said, “Katy is such the perfect dog for us that I feel totally blessed by God through her. Since she is a year old, she’s pretty much done growing, she is totally house trained, and she is pretty obedient to our commands. Best of all, she’s the perfect size to cuddle with me (which she loves to do!) and she’s strong (typical of her breed) so that she can still run and hike with us, once she is cured of her heartworm (a condition she had when we adopted her…but the Boulder Vet Clinic will treat her for free because we adopted her from the shelter).”

Right after we adopted her, we were walking out to our car with her on the leash. I was a very green dog owner, and knew practically nothing. Turned out, her collar was on way too loose (and Katy had a very thick neck compared to her head, so it was very easy to slip things off over her head), and she ended up pulling out of it, and running off across a busy street and into another parking lot. Travis and I ran after her, yelling. Thankfully, the Humane Society staff saw what had happened, and came out with treats and helped us corral her.

She did that several times in the first six months to a year that we had her. If we held the front door open too far or too long, she was out the door and down the street. I’d follow after her on foot, and Travis would get in the car. No matter how much I called Katy, or even when Travis arrived bearing treats, she would act like she didn’t know us and keep running. She even ran off once at elk camp. Thankfully, we always got her back (but I always wondered if that’s how she ended up as a stray dog in the first place, because it seemed like she had had an owner before). She eventually bonded with us, and stopped running away. She actually became very reliable on sticking close to us.

Katy was a great dog, and we really loved her. For three years, Katy would drape across my lap and cuddle whenever we watched TV (until I got pregnant with Emma, and then had no lap!). She slept in our bed (until I got pregnant and needed the extra room for pillows!). She even snuggled headfirst into the bottom of my mummy sleeping bag when we were up at elk camp. She loved going on runs and hikes, and always had more energy once she knew we were headed home.

We always laughed that Katy didn’t do many traditional dog things. She didn’t like playing fetch. She didn’t like water. She didn’t dig holes. She didn’t slobber. She didn’t chew things up. We’d feed her, and she would eat it whenever she felt hungry enough. And until we got Charlie in 2010, she didn’t even bark. We didn’t even know if she could bark. She was so well-behaved that we left her free-roaming in the house while we were at work, and she never had any accidents or did naughty things.

But then we got Charlie, and Katy’s personality changed. She started being guarded about her food, started chewing on the couch, started barking (she would even bark at the sound of a doorbell on the TV). But Katy had a friend now. Since they could no longer be trusted in the house alone, we left them in our laundry room while we were at work. We had to replace the trim in that room before we sold the house, because they destroyed it. I worked only 5 minutes or so from our house for a few years, so I’d come home on my lunch break to take them on walks. Then I worked from home for a year and not long after Travis switched jobs and started working from home, so they once again had free reign of the house.

We took the dogs camping, hiking, backpacking, running, walking. We took them to dog parks occasionally. We tried teaching them to walk next to us on a leash, and then gave up. In Colorado, our friends, D and Doug, would watch Katy and Charlie any time we went back to Minnesota to visit family.

In April 2013, Emma was born. I’ve already mentioned that Katy got booted out of our bed and off of my lap during pregnancy. Then life with a newborn diminished our attention to the dogs even more. But they never retaliated. Instead, Katy would sit in front of Emma’s room like a guard dog. Around our friends’ kids, and as Emma grew up and we added other kids, both dogs, but Katy especially, demonstrated loads of patience and gentleness. I never worried about her reacting poorly to attention from kids.

In March 2014, we sold our house in Wheat Ridge (suburb of Denver) and moved back to Minnesota. We lived with Travis’ parents for three months while we looked for a house. During that time, Katy and Charlie got so much exercise that they both lost a good 5 pounds (and that’s quite a bit when you’re only about 40 to begin with!) even though we were feeding them twice as much. Katy’s personality changed during that period too, as a result of being so active.

In June 2014, we moved into our current house, and about a year later, finally put in a in-ground fence. Katy was never one to run around on her own, but she liked exploring. At one point, she had a pustule on her belly that we were covering with old t-shirts, pulled into a knot on her back with ponytail holders. She’d go off exploring on the woods at my in-laws’ house and come back shirt-free. She and Charlie wrestled and play-fought, and she was always the leader on walks (whereas Charlie’s personality has always been more bungling, Eeyore-like, and “Squirrel!” ADD).

Katy was a fast learner, and a smart dog. She caught flies in her mouth, and was great at catching food too. She laid down on her belly, her rear legs tucked underneath her, and her front legs crossed like a lady. Both her ears stuck straight up, until she got a hematoma in her left ear one winter. The vet had to cut it open to drain it, and that ear never stood up again. Katy was prone to tooth decay, so in Colorado, we had her teeth cleaned every year (which required her to be put under). Our vet up here never thought Katy’s teeth looked bad enough to merit that.

Over the past couple of years, Katy’s age began to show. She slowed down. She didn’t like going on walks much anymore. Her back legs got weak and she often fell down on our wood kitchen floor, unable to get back up. She grew deaf, and could only hear you if you clapped really loudly. She became ravenous, and often bit your hand if she even thought you had food in your hand. She pooped and peed in the house if you didn’t let her out often enough, or at the right time before/after/during feeding. When she wanted to come back in, instead of pawing at the door like she used to (I’m guessing she just couldn’t, with how weak her back legs were), she’d grow impatient and circle the house, checking every door for someone to let her back in. Travis would see her run past his office window several times in a row.

We joked (and lamented) often in the past year that she was more active in her sleep than she was when she was awake. She loved sleeping on her side and putting her feet up against a wall, bookshelf, laundry basket. Then she’d dream she was running, and her toenails would tap against the hard surface. It was often quite loud, and would wake me up several times a night. It drove me crazy! I’d get up and pivot her away from the wall, because if you tried to move her, she’d make her trademark yelp that sounded like a sick walrus.

There were many moments of frustration and flippant, inconsiderate comments on our part during the last few years. It was hard to deal with a needy dog while taking care of three kids and being pregnant (and now, having four kids, one being a newborn). But I’m so grateful that we were faithful to Katy, knowing that she was too old to go live somewhere else. Travis and I wondered many times over the past 3-4 weeks what we should do about Katy. It just wasn’t clear. So I prayed for God to make it clear.

Late last week, we came to the conclusion that it was just time. Katy wasn’t going to get any better, and we were sad that she kept falling. So this past Monday, we called and made an appointment to have her put down. We wanted to wait until the girls were here (they’re still up at my in-laws’ cabin) but then Katy stopped eating. She even refused to eat turkey lunchmeat, which is not the Katy we knew! So we moved the appointment up a day, to this afternoon. But she passed on her own. Corbin, Neola and I were at the park. Travis had come upstairs for coffee, and heard Katy yelp in the garage (we had moved her out there on the dog bed, because she had soiled the carpet where she was laying inside). He could tell the end was near, and so he stayed there and petted her until she was gone. She was laid to rest near our garage.

I’m thankful God made it clear, that we had time to be more intentional with Katy, that she died at home instead of a vet office. And I’m thankful that God blessed us with Katy. She was a great dog, and I hope that I see her again in heaven someday.

Food and work

3 May

On Sunday, I finally went grocery shopping. I am very happy to finally have good food again. I don’t think I will ever do that experiment again – especially with no fruit or vegetables. I just don’t think it’s worth it.

In other news, I had my first day at my new job yesterday. It went well. From what I can tell, I think it will be a good job but it’s always hard to know after just one day. I can say, though, that it’s really weird to see so many people working for the same company and not know each other. Even at my first job out of college when I worked for a corporation, our office was small enough that you pretty much knew who everyone was, even if you had never spoken to them. So a huge office (2,500 people) is weird for me.

A definite perk of working for such a big company, though, is that I get an officle – an office/cubicle. My officle has a sliding door and walls that go all the way up to the ceiling. There are windows at the top so light still gets in. I also have a flat-screen monitor and there is a cafeteria on campus. Pretty swank. The world of telecommunications is very confusing to me, though, so I have a lot to learn. But everyone I will be working with seems very nice and friendly and there are several other women my age so I’m excited to get to know them.

I do see already my tendency to want to be cool, fit in, and not known as a Jesus freak. I’m worried about the right balance between being social and being a good employee (since I’m a contractor and not a permanent employee, I think this is more pronounced.)  I don’t want to hide out in my officle but I also don’t want to be perceived as a slacker.

But honestly, right now I’m too tired, frustrated and overwhelmed to care much about that. My dog Charlie is driving me up the wall. Last night, she started whining and howling at 2:30, then 4:00, then again at 5:30. I seriously want to kick her in the head. I have had enough willpower to restrain myself this morning from doing that but I can’t be near her at all. I’m pretty sure the reason why she’s acting that way is because she hasn’t been able to go on walks, run around or play with Katy since getting spayed. She’s probably going slightly crazy. So hopefully it will get better after we get the All Clear next Wednesday from the vet. Otherwise, I will be the one going crazy!

A New Family Member

10 Apr

Last Friday afternoon, I took Katy to the vet at PetsMart to get a comprehensive exam and heartworm test. While I was standing in line, I saw a flier for an adorable 7-month-old puppy who had been rescued from an Indian reservation in New Mexico and needed a home. She was very sweet and gentle, had heartwarming puppy dog eyes, and just happened to remind me a lot of our dog, Katy, with the short hair and tan and black coloring.

Travis and I had been unofficially discussing getting Katy a friend to play with so when I saw Charlie, I asked the vet techs about her. One asked if I would like them to bring Charlie into the exam room with me and Katy so we could see if they got along. After hesitating a little, I said ok. Katy pretty much ignored Charlie the whole time, except for a momentary growl when Charlie backed her into the corner.

Before dropping Katy off, I took a couple of photos on my phone and then called Travis. “I found the dog we should adopt,” I said. “She’s so cute and sweet.” I told Travis I would send him the pictures. After I picked Katy back up and headed back home, Travis was back from work and I sort of jokingly asked him, “So do you want to go look at Charlie?”

“I kind of do,” he replied honestly. So I filled out the adoption application and we returned to PetsMart. We took Charlie out on a walk and then talked to the vet techs about her medical history and what the adoption arrangement and fees would be. We planned on talking to the office manager, who would know more of the financial specifics, the next day before we made a decision. But I left our application with the clinic just in case.

The  next day, while I was painting our front door (again!), the vet who had picked Charlie up called. After answering our questions and doing a little interview, the vet offered us the chance to adopt Charlie. They wouldn’t charge an adoption fee, would waive the membership fee for signing Charlie up for a vet plan at their clinic, and would spay her and get her up to date on her shots for free. It was an offer we couldn’t pass up.

So we have a new family member – Charlie. Travis and I talked about a lot of different names, including Stella, Scout, Brooks, and Sienna. Finally, we decided to do what we did with Katy: keep the name she came with. She looks like a Charlie and even though at first, I didn’t like the name for a girl, it has definitely grown on me.

About Charlie, she is estimated to be 7 months old. She is a hound mix – her bark sometimes tends toward the howl that hounds are notorious for. She has had a hard life. She was about 15 pounds underweight when the vet found her, her ears have been bitten up by bugs, and she had ehrlichia, which is caused by ticks, giving her a slight limp in her left hind leg (which has since been treated and disappeared).

She’s not quite potty-trained yet so that’s been an adventure for us. There have been quite a few mishaps but I think we’re starting to get the hang of it. I’ve definitely learned that you cannot underestimate how much dogs need to go to the bathroom.

Even though it will take a while for us to bond with her as much as we have with Katy (who we’ve had for a year and a half now), I think it was a good decision to get her. She’s the sweetest dog, very mellow, and Katy and her already love planning with each other (although it gets a little too rough at times).

Rescuing a dog is not like getting a newborn little pup right from their litter. They’ve been beat up, scarred and a lot of times, abused. They are “broken” dogs. I’m not sure if Charlie would have lived much long had she not been rescued. I like to think of rescuing dogs as analogies of the gospel. God didn’t choose the people who were easy to love, the cute ones, the tidy and well-kept ones. He chose the ones who were beat up, living on the streets, and in need of some serious help and care. It’s not easy to love a rescued pup right away, when their coat is matted and they don’t know proper dog etiquette and they bark and growl and want to raid the trash. But they are worth redeeming.

Keeping time

6 May

I think I’ve finally discovered how to handle working at home: treating it like a real job in an office.

Subconsciously, working from home has felt like not working – as in I could justify staying up until 11 and not getting up until 7:30. But then I felt rushed to get in the Word and start working. I never changed out of my pajamas because I exercised at night (why would I take a shower when I would just get all sweaty later?) and after taking a shower, it was time for bed again. I felt like a bum with a job (oxymoron?)

So this past weekend, I decided No More. I was going to start treating my job like a job – and by doing so, hopefully alleviate the guilt and weird “I never left work” feeling that has been plaguing me ever since I took this job.

Well, I’m happy to report that it worked. Today is Day 3 of my “back to work” project and I feel great. I get up at 5:15 and read the Bible, while I eat breakfast and drink my first cup of coffee. Then at 6:15 I go workout (I took today off though). At 7:15, I shower and put real clothes on (novel idea!). At 8:00 am, I sit down at the computer with my 2nd cup of coffee.

I have also decided to start taking lunch breaks. Travis usually doesn’t come home for lunch so I will have time to myself to read – and will hopefully get a lot more read than I do in bed! I haven’t read during lunch yet this week (actually have only taken 1 lunch break yet this week) because I didn’t work Monday, we had a meeting in Boulder on Tuesday over the lunch hour, and I was over at D’s house today during lunch. I took a lunch break yesterday but instead of reading, I blogged. But that is one of my goals as well, so it’s ok. 🙂

I think the reason why I love getting up early to get in the Word and exercise is because I start my day off feeling productive. And I, for some reason, LOVE that feeling. I can think of very few feelings that are better. (So why am I lazy so often, I wonder?) Having more normal hours for work has also helped me feel ok about calling it quitting time after a full day. Who’da thought that I like structure to my day?

On another note, I forgot to post these pics yesterday when I posted about our landscaping.

Travis bought me flowers when he came home from his last levee inspection. What a sweetie!

Travis rubbing Katy's belly. Katy loves that!

Little Katy is so cute.

A pic just because

Now I have to go watch Bones!

Love my doggie

26 Sep

About a month and a half ago, Travis and I adopted a dog from the Boulder Humane Society named Katy. She is a year old and is an Australian Cattle Dog mix (we think she could also have some Shiba Inu, Beagle and/or Hound in her).

The adoption was dramatic. Travis and I had been talking for several months about getting a dog. At first, we wanted to buy a purebred Golden Retreiver because we knew several people with them, they were great dogs, and were big enough to run/hike with but not too big. Problem was, we couldn’t find one cheaper than $800. Travis was willing to adopt a dog if I would do the legwork (since I was the one who wanted one the most) but after a few dead ends, I kind of lost momentum on the whole dog search.

My co-worker D loves dogs and would show me the pictures of the adoptable dogs at the Boulder Humane Society every once in a while. At the beginning of August, she sent me the link one day at work and it motivated to start looking more earnestly. I checked out a book from the library about dog breeds and read more about them online.

There was an Australian Shepherd 8-week old puppy available at the shelter–a male named Bob. After reading about that dog breed and hearing good things about them, we decided that we wanted to adopt Bob. I called the Humane Society right when they opened the next morning and put a hold on him. We planned to buy dog supplies after work and drive up to Boulder to meet Bob and take him home.

About 2 hours after I called and put a hold on Bob, the Humane Society called back and said that a couple had been there looking at Bob at the exact same time as I called. They had put a hold on him–as they were actually at the shelter, their hold trumped mine. I was so devastated that I started crying. I knew that dogs, especially puppies, didn’t stick around the shelter for long–surely the other couple would come back to get him. And I was convinced that Bob was the dog for us.

I called Travis and we mulled over what to do. There was a slight possibility that the other couple wouldn’t take Bob and that I would be able to go pick him up on Saturday. Because Travis would be out of town by then, we decided to head up to Boulder anyway, just to meet him so that we would know if we wanted him or not, if the call did come.

Since we were at the shelter anyway, we looked around at the other dogs. That’s when we saw Katy. Travis had been hearing good things about Australian Cattle Dogs from a guy at work who had a couple of his own. We decided that we wanted to meet Katy. With such a cute face, so much energy, and her petite size, Katy even won over Travis, who had promised himself that we wouldn’t leave the shelter with a dog.

We left with Katy.

Since she is a year old, she’s pretty much done growing, she was totally house trained, and she is pretty obedient to our commands. Best of all, she’s the perfect size to cuddle with me (which she loves to do!) and she’s strong (typical of her breed) so that she can still run and hike with us, once she is cured of her heartworm (a condition she had when we adopted her…but the Boulder Vet Clinic will treat her for free because we adopted her from the shelter).

Here are some pictures of our Katy girl. We love her to pieces.

OK Mom, enough with the pictures already.

OK Mom, enough with the pictures already.

Fine, just this one picture and we're done then, ok?

Fine, just this one picture and we're done then, ok?

Katy's favorite thing to do

Katy's favorite thing to do

A happy hiker

A happy hiker

Cuddling on the couch

Cuddling on the couch

Watching for squirrels

Watching for squirrels

Hugs!

Hugs!

Katy is such the perfect dog for us that I feel totally blessed by God through her. The thing that really showed us God’s providence in directing us to Katy was that the day after we adopted her, I got a call from the Humane Society saying that Bob was still available. God provided a great dog for us!