Update on our dog, Jake

Jake, our beautiful and loving dog is no longer with us in this temporal time.  The state of his deterioration; that he is welcome where we live, however, dogs are not allowed, meaning we work hard to make it comfortable for Jake and for the HOA where we live.  As his senses and abilities continued to decline, he was not able to stand up on his own, he tried valiantly and because he could not make it known that he had to eliminate, the accidents (if one can call them that) were becoming too frequent.

Recognizing that we (my husband and myself) had been going through our own process of loss and grief, even before the deed was done, in letting Jake go.  He was in his 15th year, and while still perky for us, I saw a moment when he was performing for Daddy which belies the actual condition regarding Jake’s quality of life.  Realizing Jake would be responsive to us right up until his last moments, it became relevant to look at the quality of Jake’s life in his present state of deterioration.

In aiming to be remedial, we may have been extending his life in ways painful to him.  We arrived at decision to have him put down mercifully.  We had trip to west side of the state for a family event.  Decided to take Jake to the veternarian family with which we were familiar on coast.  There we had the deed done, and Jake was with us no more.  The anguish has been unbearable sometimes, after all, he is a dog, right?   He was our family – daily life was about life with Jake and each day we experience the loss of him with the many little things that made up our day with Jake.   The absence of him leaves a hole not only in our hearts, also in our daily routines, many of which now are no longer required, yet sorely missed.

We had Jake cremated, and his ashes we have now in a wooden urn box, which sets on the shelf next to the miniature urn of my stepfather, Charlie.  Jake is still with us in that way, and we look forward to the time when we reunite with him where he has gone for no one really knows what happens after temporal life.  In the meantime, Jake is with us in unmeasurable ways.

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Continuing with the gratitude blogging

These last few days have been a mix of too relaxed, then too busy and more busy to come this weekend.  It has not hindered though thinking of things for which I have gratitude.

– conciliatory efforts on part of husband’s brothers towards reconciliation with him and me.  Sweet.  Having family care enough  –  matters!   My husband learned something he did not realize about his own creativity. It would be helpful for him to have opportunity to spend more time with his brothers.  Happily there was no discussion of the two big controversial themes.

– the opportunity to relax, with no expectations to perform was a good feeling.

– helpful friends who want to support me and want me to succeed – in relation to my new function in their group.

– supportive husband who keeps our energy level positive and upbeat.  I saw in him a dark mood I had not seen before and had to appreciate and realize the work he has put in over the years into keeping us both bouyant.

Liking the idea – Gratitude Blogging

Healing medicine for the soul.   Use for this blog is to share what brings me daily gratitude.

I like the idea.  Short little blogging bursts of events, activities, observations throughout the day that I might post in the mornings when the world is anewly fresh.

Turning grief around, finding the other side.  Sharing a borrowed sharing of the Donkey Tale:

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well.  The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.  Finally he decided since the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.  So, the farmer invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well.

All the other farm animals were very upset about this, because the donkey was their friend.  But they discovered there was nothing they could do to help him. At first, when the donkey realized what was happening, he cried horribly.  Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down.  A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down into the well and was astonished at what he saw.

With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.  He would shake it off, and take a step up on the dirt as it piled up.  As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.  Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt.  From all kinds of people.  Family, friends, and strangers.  Each load of dirt thrown at us intentionally or unintentionally can be a stepping stone.  These stepping stones enable us to see and truly understand these people who we thought we knew, loved and trusted.  

What happens to us is a wake up call and it isn’t nearly as important as how we react to the rejection.  The greatest lesson we can learn from the old donkey is that we too can get out of the deepest wells by not giving up and being who we truly are (or who we truly can be).  Shake it off and take a step up. 

A scare .. Jake couldn’t get up at all

We had a scare yesterday as we recognize our dog, Jake, is getting less able by the week now.  He has difficulty getting up to stand on his own. We have made adjustments in his bedding areas to help give hi traction in getting up on his back legs.  Yesterday though, Jake just couldn’t make it happen. Now Daddy has to help lift him now when he can’t get up on his own.  It frightens Jake and he is all over the place making it difficult to get a good grip on him to help him stand up.  We became concerned that we were looking at his last days and that it might really be time this time to consider putting him down.  At best time to get him a harness with wheels for his back legs.

Googling brought me to links that addressed disabled/handicapped dogs, and the many helpful kinds of aides we could use to assist Jake in these latter years.   A lift type harness will help Daddy to get him up and moving again.  A towel can be substituted for immediate time being until we can purchase the harness for him.  Once Jake is up on all 4 legs, he still has some mobility.  He can get around, walk albeit slowly, and his back legs are weak enough that even a light touch on his haunches can be the impetus that puts his back legs down.

lift harness rear support

Learned there is also a male doggie wrap for dogs that can’t hold the urine well.  It is a wrap around the body, insert doggie pad or feminine hygiene napkin and some of the problem is resolved.  However, allowing for Jake to keep the dignity he still has, will reserve use of the doggie wrap for those car trips or extended times when we can’t get him outside.  Haven’t tried on yet, learned though that it would be better if it was waterproof to allow for leakage.  Can be washed and reused again and again.

male dog wrap for urine incontinence

Link to Handicapped Pets

Link to a diy male dog wrap 

Also found affirmation for my belief that it is not necessary to shave our beautiful 2 coat Jake.  As I intuited, the two coats have a nature gave it to him way of helping him both in cold and warm weather.  People often see him in the summer time with his lovely coat and will say something about how hot he must be, and wouldn’t he like it better if he was shaved.  I tell them, I think not, his coats serve him a purpose and I am not willing to fool with mother nature.   We have not lived in hot summer climate before, so I have not had to think much about Jake being overly warm in summer heat.   Last year when we moved away from the temperate climate region to this hot summer region is the first time I’ve had to entertain Jake’s comfort in the heat.

Link to   8 Reasons Not To Shave Your Dog

I have known that he seriously sheds his undercoat twice a year, and at what seems unlikely times to me, yet that is how it works.  Brushing him out has worked well enough in the years before.  He didn’t like it much, more permitted it, tolerated it.  Last year though, it must have been hurtful to him in areas as he was not as tolerant.  I learned I can purchase a dog rake for dogs with two coats, and the rake will get at his undercoat shedding to rake it out.   The prongs are not sharp, and I think he will appreciate the bluntness of the prongs, perhaps be more tolerant at being raked, then gently brushed.

Link to  Rake, dog with two coats

Rake for dogs with 2 coats

Caring for our senior dog, Jake,

Our beautiful dog, Jake, who is 15 years old this year, which is the expected life span for an australian shepherd dog, has been gradually losing his sensory abilities, and his hind legs have weakened to the point where he needs help to get up from sitting or laying position.   Of late the loss of his back legs has become problematic.  We weren’t sure that we wouldn’t have to think about the unthinkable, and when I googled senior dogs, came across handicapped or disable dogs, with helping remedies, such as harness to help lift him up, also dog diapers which he doesn’t yet need, however, I anticipate he will need them soon enough.

He is in good spirits, still perky when it is time to walk, still likes attention, can walk once he’s raised up, and in taking the assessment here, was relieved to learn my husband and my anxieties about his immediate future while real enough anxieties, are more about us than our wonderful dog.

Thinking it might be good use of this particular blog to chronicle some of our care time with our dog Jake.

My dear husband is the primary caregiver for our dog, walking him three times a day, in snow, rain, sun or otherwise.  Jake has taken to watching our hands very closely to determine where is the treat.  Jake has lost much of his sight, most of his hearing, and we think some of his smell.  He is still perky enough though, we don’t think he is behaving as if he is depressed, sad or lonely.  He is still the loving dog he has always been, and we will likely be caring for him this year as his needs for caregiving increase.

Jake then ….

thumbnail Jake[7] in 2008

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Jake has lived a long life outdoors, his preference, not ours, and we lived in a most accommodating rural village where he was loved by many for his gentle nature.  He was free to come and go, we did not have fear for him walking along the street as cars moved for him, not the other way around.  As I said, we lived in a small, rural village, drivers took care to go slow, no fast speeding cars came down our street, and most of the daily travelers going to and from work knew of Jake, watched for him.  Jake has been compliant with our need now to contain him.  It has worked out as we would have had to contain him at our former house.  He could no longer hear well enough to make out sounds of cars coming.  His slow gait up to the neighbor’s house for the daily treat she would give him was about as much as he could manage.  He always had the covered in porch outside our house, he was never restricted to the outside, just that he preferred it over being inside.

We moved out of the house last year, and condo living to accommodate some of our aging issues, means for Jake a somewhat more restricted dog lifestyle, yet safe for him.  No wandering into the street, no wandering to the neighbor’s yard.  Walks now on the leash several times a day, good exercise for us both, mostly though for my husband, who recently retired, and now has more time to spend with Jake.  I used to be the primary caretaker for our dog, daily long walks, food, treats.  Now that falls to more to my husband, which although there are times when he would prefer not to walk the dog, ie, 6 AM in the morning on snow day, they are bonded now as Jake has come to rely on ‘Daddy’ more so than Mommy.

With what time we have left with Jake, might be time to capture some of the memories we have with him.

Jake now ….

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Our weekend out of town; The Story.

Our weekend;   The Story.  I have a peridontist appointment about every three months, in a town about 2 + hours from where we live.  So we have turned it into a weekend getaway, and a visit with my mother who lives in a nearby town to the town where my peridontist is located.

Had my peridontist appt Friday and the report was good – some small improvement actually.  Not much improvement, but far better than deterioration.    Then we went to my mother’s home, spent the weekend. and then came home to our animals.   Our cat and dog remain at home, and so our time away is limited to a safe duration for the cat and dog to fend for themselves.  Now that my cat bite is healing and the cat is healing, life is returning to normal.   (A couple weeks earlier the cat was bitten by an animal, and in not knowing she was bitten, I picked her up, more rather tugged her out of her hiding place and she bit me…not at all her usual behavior, she is a very loving cat.   We didn’t see her wound at the time, but knew something was wrong with her.  Arthur spotted her wound, and we took her to the vet, who gave her a vaccine, and told me was more concerned that I get myself to hospital to treat the cat bite.  I did, was vaccinated and given antibiotics, the incident reported to County Health, the cat quarantined at our home for 10 days and we are both mending without incident, the primary concern being exposure to rabies).   When we returned home, our dog Jake resumed eating again.  He misses us when we are gone and gets sad – depressed.  Dogs have feelings.  Oh, and our cat too, she has feelings, misses us and glad when we return home. 

After my peridontist visit on Friday afternoon we drove to my mother’s home, picked her up and went out to eat.  We live in a rural town, and there aren’t a lot of restaurants or places to eat, so we enjoy the opportunity of eating out at different restaurants on the days of  my peridontist appointments.  It’s an eating out together date we look relish.  Choosing a restaurant in the town where my mother lives proved not to be as obvious as it might seem.  We kind of scoured what we knew to be restaurants in her neighborhood, opted to go further away, settled on Black Angus, since I was hankering for a nice steak lunch.  We got there and it no longer has lunch, open for dinner only.  Must be the economy.  The hour was growing late into the afternoon, I was hungry now, and we had not eaten breakfast that day,  or at all, so we wound up at (oh yuck!) Old Country Buffet.   Arthur likes the many choices of buffet restaurants, and sometimes so do I, but Old Country Buffet is not one of my favorites.  We both really enjoy the buffet variety of primarily healthy choices at  Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, but there were none the town where my Mom lives.    

Saturday Arthur spent the day home, defrosted Mom’s freezer for her because it had become so full of ice that the ice on all the shelves were touching each other, no room for food.   He took care of some other taskings for her, then spent the rest of the day fooling around with installing stuff in  his old fashioned computer.  Not the laptop kind, the big bulky kind.  Some guy he knows had given him some Linus software to download or told him about it.  Anyway, it was a dead computer (not working) and when Arthur finished the download it sprung back to life, installed Windows XP and is sort of functional again.  He was delighted.  Still needs an audio driver and something else that would permit it to link to internet.  He was just intrigued that it started working again…kind of like a guy tinkering in his garage with his power tools, only Arthur likes to tinker with puter.

Saturday I took Mom to Farmers Market in Proctor area of Tacoma.  That is a district that more resembles Portland or some Seattle districts; organic, green living, conscientious choices – that sort of thing, and an amazingly cool, fun grocery store with very upscale item choices.  For a mere $309.00 you can purchase a wheel of gourmet cheese!  An experience in itself.  (I’m being a bit snarky – it would be very unlikely we would ever spend that kind of  money on cheese.)  We visited a new consignment shop in her immediate neighborhood – delightful items, colorful, fun, upbeat, cheerful.  I liked it.   But I didn’t buy anything, because in truth, neither of us need another thing!

And more for the hunt of treasure than because either of us need anything more in our homes, we went to a few garage sales. What was being offered wasn’t the kind of garage sales we were looking for – more like junk sales.  We had fun anyway because we toured many of the University Place neighborhoods, the million + $$ homes with breathtaking views of the Narrows water, Narrows Bridge, the outlying island.  And alongside the million + $$ homes, are more modest ranch style homes.  You can be on a ‘house of dreams’ street and turn to go down the the next street which could well be a quiet and modest street of different ranch style homes.    University Place neighborhoods are in interesting mix of income levels.   After our tour of neighborhoods,  I took her to visit Charlie at cemetary where his ashes are placed.  It is a beautiful, peaceful cemetary, a place of quiet serenity amidst the hubbub of getting from here to there.  Nice place to quietly reflect on life.  I know, it may sound like a strange juxtaposition to reflect on life when at a cemetary where the dead are buried…..but that is how it works for me.

We went back to Proctor district that evening to have dinner at a niche Mexican restaurant (not a restaurant chain) because Mom said she heard good things about the food and atmosphere there.  Lively atmosphere with mix of old and young people dining.    I had a Taste Assault dish called Chicken Mole, although it would be better named Chicken in Mole (prounounced molay)  Sauce, because the sauce was Outrageous -  6 ingredients, and I can remember plums, almonds, mole (an unsweetened chocolate), and some other ingredients.  It wakes up your taste buds like wowza!   Not hot or even spicy, flavorful would be the word I would use to describe it.  Flavorful with each bite.  Arthur took a menu and will experiment at home with making the mole sauce because I liked it so well. 

Sunday we took Mom to her church (St Andrews Episcopal Church).   A bit of history here; my mom lost half her sightedness recently and is vision impaired now.  Mom had been saying she felt she needed something inspirational amidst all the doctor appointments and bad news.  Along the way, I decided to call the Priest at St Andrews to talk to him about Mom.  When she was a child, she attended Episcopal church in Spokane.  I explained to him her childhood church exposure, and her current medical condition with being sight impaired, being told by her doctors not to drive anymore. He agreed to visit Mom immediately and arranged for someone to pick her up and take her to church on Sundays.  

She has been to St Andrews now, a few times, and wanted us to visit her church.  We wanted to visit it also, as I enjoyed the upbeat conversation with the Priest – he was energetically young, even though he isn’t young.    That Sunday they had special guests, a singing group who livened up the entire worship service with renditions of the hymns done to foot tapping music.  Guitars, tambourines, horns, and one of the gals playing guitar was barefoot!   Felt like we were at a campfire gathering!  Geesh!  But the worship service having a combination of traditional liturgy, the laying on of hands for healing, the Eucharist, and the lively music with a welcome invitation to all does reflect ‘The Emerging Church’.

We loved the church, it had accommodations our little church building isn’t equipped to have, and if we lived in that area, we would likely attend that church.   Afterwards we ate at a restaurant in her immediate neighborhood that she is fond of – an old fashioned restaurant left over from approximately the 1950’s era.     So lots of eating this weekend, way too many calories, and Mom had a nice weekend.  So did we.  

Oh and at the Farmer’s Market I bought some snow peas that were priced below what is usually charged for snow peas, so I bought enough to freeze.  Bought a couple of tomato plants already bearing tomatoes, and a basil plant.   I didn’t plant a vegetable garden this year, and haven’t spent much time outside with the herb and flower gardens, so keeping it light this year.   Weather hasn’t been too cooperative where we live – cold, rainy, then unseasonably blistering hot, then cold again.   At the market, I found a growing salad bowl planter that I wanted and Mom bought it for me for my birthday gift.  The planter has growing  lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro plants  – salad ingredients, and that is the extent of my vegetable garden this year.   Except all the herbs I have been growing for a few years now. 

And I was delighted to learn about a lovely tasty sauce called Chimichurri?  Oh, I tasted some at the market, and just had to buy one – lime Chimichurri.  Great to use as braising sauce for grilled vegetables, on meats, or just straight on healthy chips or fresh veggies.   Taste delight!

It was a rather sweet weekend.  Last year around this time, we had visited Mom and she and I went to Lavender Festival on Vashon Island, ferry ride over and back, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, making the waters deep blue and picturesque. There was a Farmer’s Market there too, and we visited that Farmer’s Market

Two new oil paintings – just finished and still Wet! Unoriginal title of ‘Cabin by the Lake’

After a too long time away from my paints, brushes, and the messy operation that is oil painting, yesterday I completed two paintings! The paintings I’ve accomplished grow fewer and fewer over the years since 2006. Lots of reasons why, but I hope this change in momentum means ‘I’m Back’!

I sought out the old painting clothes and found I’ve outgrown them (that means I weigh more now than I did when last I wore them). Time to set aside another set of painting attire, in larger size.

Painted this scene in 16 x 20 size. And then painted the scene again in 11 x 14 size, although it has variables from the larger size, making both ‘originals’.
I took photo of the larger size and the paint is still Wet!

The house just doesn’t have much accommodation room for paintings to dry. There is the cat who can jump up anywhere, so the paintings need to be in a room with a door that closes. And as I looked around the house, I see we don’t have many ‘roooms’ that have doors that close. Then there is the odor of oil painting that can permeate the air. If I’m going to paint frequently, I need to figure out the logistics for these challenges.

So we put the Wet Painting on top of a wardrobe (a place the cat has not yet figured out how to climb) and I snapped a few photos … not very good photos due to the angle of looking up at the painting, and the paint is still ….. well Wet!

 

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