Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Been a While

It's been a while since I've updated anything here so here are kinda the high points.  Pickles loves the Bark Park and we try to go there everyday but may not make it.  It's better if we do because she can run that energy off!  Pickles had a good Christmas!  Her brothers (Matt and Zack) that she hadn't met came to the house for Christmas Eve and we went to church and had a great dinner and watched A Christmas Story.  She got some treats, bones and a toy from Three Dogs Bakery and got to play at the park on Christmas.  The following day we had snow and she loves to play in the snow!  She runs about kicking up snow and getting it all over her nose and the next time we get some, I'll video her running around so you all can see.

The first part of this week was pretty standard stuff with naps, treats and going out to the park one day but Pickles got a new collar today.  It's pink with a tartan design on it.  Only fitting since her humans are Scottish.  I see the park in her future, maybe Thursday and Friday, but definitely the weekend because it's going to be 60 degrees on Saturday.

The next post will be on New Year's Eve and include a review and plans for 2011.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sunday at the Bark Park

This past Sunday, Pickles and I went to the Bark Park and we were playing all alone when a man opened the gate to the big dog side and let his dog in.  The only interaction Pickles has had with other dogs has been with ones smaller that her and she was a bit aggressive (for my liking) so I wasn't sure how this was going to go.  Georgia, the dog's name, came up and they smelled each other for a minute then it was off to play!  They ran together, chased balls together and when Pickles would pick up a stick, Georgia would take it then Pickles would take it back!  While they were running, Pickles got so tired several times that when she stumbled and fell, she would just lay there!  But within a minute, she was up and at it again.  Two other dogs (the names of which I have forgotten) came into the area and then they all played.  One of the dogs, a Plott Hound, would easily jump the fence when the owner threw a ball over and was so graceful in doing it.  The other just ran and played with Georgia and Pickles.  The last two dogs were rescues from New Orleans during Katrina.  They all played for what seemed 30 or so minutes then, one by one, everyone left.

Pickles needed a bath when we got home so she got a nice warm one then fell asleep on the sofa.  She ate a hearty meal and slept good that night!

Did You See Me Today?

This was written by Beth McDuffie and was on the Facebook page of "Where Hope Lives".  They are an organization that helps rescue groups find homes for dogs in South Carolina.  This almost made me cry because I know some of the dogs I walked past and wanted to love the day I adopted Pickles were this dog.  I wish I could save them all but I'm glad I saved my Pickles from this fate.  I know during her stay, she was thinking the same things.
Did you see me today? As you rushed past to the kennel with the five darling little pups - seven people already there, rescues lined up to save - Did you see me today? Did you see my eyes filled with hurt and torture - ten years of neglect and pain fro...m my life in the back yard, on a chain... Did you see me today? Did you hear the cries my heart made? Three days ago was my tenth birthday and almost ten years ago I was in that same kennel you rushed to today. I was a darling little puppy that everyone wanted... that got too big, too fast...and was sent to live on a chain in the backyard - too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, barely a kind word spoken... I begged for attention that never came,got tossed food most days, begged for just a drink of water on too hot days, my throat parched and hurting. My dirty matted coat my only protection from the heat and cold, rain and snow ALWAYS NEEDING No one saw me then either. Then I got too messy, my cries for attention too loud ... I just got too damn old. No one saw me, and they brought me here to die. That kennel you rushed to had six puppies then... They dropped me off and took one from there to fill my spot on that rusty chain in the backyard, And I wonder... who is worse off - me or him? I still have so much love in my heart, so much to share... Did you see me today? For a brief moment you stopped, and I thought our eyes met. Was the smell of helpless death too strong for you, my pleas for help too loud? Did you see me today? Will you go home, close your eyes in slumber and recall the haunting look I gave... Will you recall what was not seen today? With the sunrise will you rush back to see? I will not be here then. Today, when the doors are locked I will never be seen again... Did you see me today?

Pickles and the Christmas Tree

Well, it's here.  Christmas.  I bet you all noticed that there were no exclamation points there and there is an excellent reason for that which is:  I don't like Christmas.  I know...Scrooge...Bah Humbug...and all of that but I don't.  It started many years ago and has just gotten worse over the years.  I like the things that Christmas brings and no, not the presents, but seeing people smile and be friendly to each other (if only for a while).  Some of the reason I don't like this time of year is that my mom died on December 12, 2003.  That was a really hard time and it was near Christmas.  I'm not saying that Christmas killed my mom but it just hasn't been the same since.  Last year, on December 12, 2003 I put Maddie down so you can only imagine how last Christmas was.  Christmas has been "just another day" for me for many years.

Here is some information on Pagan Celebrations that were replaced by the Catholic Church in order to make the conversion of the "heathens" easier:
Many of our modern Christmas traditions began hundreds of years before Christ was born. Some of these traditions date back more than 4000 years. The addition of Christ to the celebration of the winter solstice did not occur until 300 years after Christ died and as late as 1800, some devout Christian sects, like the Puritans, forbade their members from celebrating Christmas because it was considered a pagan holiday. So what is the history behind these traditions?
The Christmas tree is derived from several solstice traditions. The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and placed candles in live trees to decorate for the celebration of Saturnalia. In Scandinavia, they hung apples from evergreen trees at the winder solstice to remind themselves that spring and summer will come again. The evergreen tree was the special plant of their sun god, Baldor.
The practice of exchanging gifts at a winter celebration is also pre-Christian and is from the Roman Saturnalia. They would exchange good-luck gifts called Stenae (lucky fruits). They also would have a big feast just like we do today.
Mistletoe is from an ancient Druid custom at the winter solstice. Mistletoe was considered a divine plant and it symbolized love and peace. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is Druid in origin.
The Scandinavian solstice traditions had a lot of influences on our celebration besides the hanging of ornaments on evergreen trees. Their ancient festival was called Yuletide and celebrated the return of the sun. One of their traditions was the Yule log. The log was the center of the trunk of a tree that was dragged to a large fireplace where it was supposed to burn for twelve days. From this comes the twelve days of Christmas.
Even the date of Christmas, December 25, was borrowed from another religion. At the time Christmas was created in AD 320, Mithraism was very popular. The early Christian church had gotten tired of their futile efforts to stop people celebrating the solstice and the birthday of Mithras, the Persian sun god. Mithras’ birthday was December 25. So the pope at the time decided to make Jesus’ official birthday coincide with Mithras’ birthday. No one knows what time of year Jesus was actually born but there is evidence to suggest that it was in midsummer.
So, if you are celebrating any of the western traditions of Christmas this year, remember that you are actually enjoying the rituals and activities of several ancient religions whose traditions have been borrowed by the Christians over the years for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Now, I am NOT anti-Catholic (I have been to many noon services and even to a monastery for a weekend) and I do not hate religion; I just don't like what organized religion has done to us over the thousands of years.  To quote Sir Lee Teebing (from the DiVinci Code) "as long as there has been one true God, there has been killing in His Name".  Just think about the Crusades. 

Hence my problem with Christmas which is reported to be the date of Jesus' birth but as we see above, he was born in mid Summer and possibly (according to some scholars) as late as September.  We do know, however, that Jesus was not born in the year 0.  He was born in 7 BC.  Christmas began with a cover up of the ancient celebrations of Winter and those origins were covered up by organized religion, as a way to control the masses, in the first place.  That cover up has been in place for a very long time and we have forgotten the old ways.  But now, we have all forgotten the cover up.  Christmas is now about how much can I buy for my loved one or how much can I eat or drink or how many lights can I put on my house and I am just as guilty as the next person.

But Mac, what does this have to do with Pickles and the Christmas tree.  Well, nothing really.  I'm just explaining my problem with Christmas. 

I knew the Christmas tree was going to be a problem as soon as I bought it.  Donna and I picked a fine White Pine tree this year.  Seven feet tall and not too fat...a good tree.  We got it at Lowe's on West Broad.  Why didn't I cut a tree from a farm?  Why do that?!  Lowe's had good trees.  The needles were still on and best of was already cut!  I'm not lazy, just prudent.  Why go out, ride a tractor, in the cold, cut the tree, haul it back to the tractor and all of that when Lowe's had nice trees!  Besides, if we or someone else didn't get a tree that was already cut they would have just made mulch out of it later.  This way, the tree gets to have a home for Christmas just like my broken Christmas ornaments.  Anyway, we brought the tree home and put it on the patio then let Pickles out and she ran right to it and began to eat the base.  Oh, we go.  I sprayed her with the spray bottle so she the top of the tree and began to chew on that.  You can see where this is going.  We did this for about 15 minutes then we went inside but every time we went out, this is what we did until I brought the tree in Monday night and put it up.  Pickles then thought it would be fun to eat the branches that were on the bottom!  She "helped" with the lights and some of the ornaments and if you know Pickles, you know how she "helped".  Then it was off to bed. 

For the last four day, it's been "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree Chasing Pickels' Doggie Butt" (sung to the tune of "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree)!  Spraying with the spray bottle and general disorder but at least she didn't eat another battery.  I haven't been there because of work so Donna has had all of this fun! 

Animal experts say that you should never get or give a dog, or any animal, at Christmas because of the confusion that surrounds the holidays and now I see why but I didn't get Pickles as a gift for Christmas.  I just got her because I wanted her and because I couldn't let her sit there any longer.  You see, I had this dog shaped spot in my heart that had to be filled and although Pickles is smaller than the dog that left it there, she fills it nicely. 

Don't tell Pickles I got her a Christmas present!  I don't want to spoil the surprise...or her! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Friend had to put her Dog Down Today

I have a friend who had a very sick dog, who wasn't eating much and had to be carried outside to go to the bathroom.  She made the decision to put her dog to sleep.  Now, I've known my friend for several years and we've become closer in the last couple and I know, by the way she talks about her dogs, that this was a decision she did not come to lightly.  Dogs can't tell you where they hurt or even if they hurt.  Dogs can't tell you if they feel sick or sad or if they feel nothing.  Rikki (my friend's dog) went to the vet yesterday because she was lethargic and dehydrated and just not herself.  My friend later found out that Rikki had a large tumor in her lung and blood in her urine which is not good.  During the night, Rikki woke up several times gasping for breath and had to be carried outside because she was unsteady while walking. 

Earlier today, Rikki ate and drank but my friend wondered if it she was getting better or if Rikki wanted to show Mommy that she was better even if she wasn't. 

I got a text from my friend that she was going to let Rikki rest this afternoon and I know how hard that was to do.  In an earlier post, I told of how Maddie bit me after I carried her out one evening and I knew she was in pain.  I knew then what I had to do just as my friend knew what she had to do with Rikki.  All of this reminded me of the day Maddie died and all of those feelings came flooding back.  I was instantly taken to that day and time.  I could see everyone who was there with me and could feel my heart become heavy again with the decision I had made.  But in looking back, I was able to see that I had done the right thing.  Maddie was suffering, just like Rikki, and it was up to me to ease her pain and help her pass.  She only wanted to please me and would have gladly stayed in that same spot for as long as I would let her.  She would have continued to let me carry her outside to the bathroom and back into the house.  She would have wagged her tail every time I came into the room or when I came home.  She would have tried, without success, to crawl toward me if I wasn't in the same room and barked and bayed when I moved her because she was in pain. 

Do we want our loved ones to stay because we are going to miss them?  In some cases I think we do.  My mother was taken to the hospital a couple of months before she died and since I lived so close, I was able to beat the ambulance there.  They were working on her and my mom had a DNR and a living will  but my dad hadn't arrived yet and I didn't want to make that decision.  Was that because I was scared?  Maybe.  Or was it because I was selfish and didn't want to let her go even though she was in pain and suffering?  I think that is the correct answer.  I couldn't handle the thought of my mom not being there even knowing how bad she felt and that she was tired of living like she was and was ready to go on.  Two months later, six years to the day before Maddie passed my mom died quietly and this time I let her go.  No heroics, no drugs and no fanfare.  Just peace. 

Compassion is one of the traits that sets man apart from the brute animal and, in my opinion, is our greatest of emotions but one that is so infrequently used when it comes to death.  Have the compassion to let your loved one, be they human or furry, pass to the next life leaving this one in peace.  Death is for the one dying not for the living therefore should be about the person or animal experiencing that death.  I believe you are on this earth for a certain period of time and to accomplish certain things and then you leave.  You keep coming back until you get "it" right, then you pass into Heaven or cross the Rainbow Bridge.  In the end, we all obtain our reward for the life that was spent be it a well spent life with service to mankind or the misspent life with service only to yourself.  The number of times you come back is in direct proportion to the good that you accomplish in the last lifetime.  Do good unto all, recommended more especially to the household of the faithful.  Live in peace and may the God of peace and love delight to dwell with and bless you.

Have compassion.  Use that compassion to guide your heart in times of trouble and have the strength to let go because, at times, you are only holding on for yourself.

To my friend:  Rikki, although I never met her, loved you very much.  All of our dogs love us without restraint and without bounds.  You had the strength to love her and the strength to let her go and please know that you did what was right for Rikki. You said, "greatest gift I could give her was peace" and you are so right.  We give our dogs many things when they take our hearts and you saved the greatest gift for last and that is the gift of peace.  Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Thoughts of the First Week

Well, more than a week has come and gone since we got Pickles and I just figured I'd get down some thoughts.  I wasn't sure about a deaf dog, at first, but now I know there is no other dog for me.  She's sweet and lovable and likes to be the center of attention and somehow that reminds me of someone but I just can't put my finger on who!  Pickles loves to play at the park and to chase her ball albeit for about two minutes and really likes the Bark Park.  Pickles has learned to sit when she comes in from outside and most of the time when we get ready to cross the street and has started to learn "down" and does pretty good with it.  Pickles loves her food and at first seemed like she was eating twice as much for her size.  I think that was because she wasn't sure if the next meal was going to be there or not but now has learned she eats twice a day and has snacks in between.  Pickles has toys that she takes to bed every night: her white rope toy, the squeaky toy that she ripped the squeaker out of and her Kong (or in lieu of that, the blue squeaky toy Ben and Marshall gave her).  She loves to play tug-o-war with just about anything you can tug whether it be a piece of rope, her rope toy or a stick.  Pickles is having a great time jumping on the couches and wedging herself in places where a dog won't fit sometimes.  She doesn't like going to bed if ANYONE is downstairs and barks a bit if she's not tired when it's MY bedtime and not hers.  She likes to get up at 0530 hours to eat breakfast and go to the bathroom.  I have a day shift dog and that's good, I guess, except for the weeks I'm on evening shift.  She doesn't like the squirt bottle sprayed at her when she bites someone so that biting thing has cut way down which is good because I was wondering how I was going to stop that.  She likes to eat plants, rocks and sticks.  Now, I'm not a country boy so I don't know which plants are dangerous and which ones aren't so I try not to let her eat any of them.  I know dogs eat grass when they're sick (as I've been around dogs all of my life) but this one isn't sick.  She just likes to try things so she tries EVERYTHING! 

Well, that's about it for the flight of ideas and Pickles' first week.  Stay tuned for more about Pickles.

The Dog Park

So, last night, before I went to pick up Donna at work, Pickles and I went to the dog park, AKA the Bark Park.  (For those of you that don't know, the Bark Park is behind Chimborazo Park, in the lower part of the park.  It's an excellent use of that area which has been closed for many years before the park was built.)  Pickles had a great time eating grass, trying to eat rocks and generally smelling every spot in the park.  We could only stay a few minutes because we had to pick up Donna but Pickles had a great time and went right to sleep as soon as we got home which is a shame because she, basically, took a nap before she went to bed for the night...which was not good.

Later that evening, Donna had some Italian Wedding Soup on the arm of the sofa.  Please notice I said "had" because Pickles saw something new, jumped up and knocked it all over Donna, the laptop and the sofa.  I don't know how many of you know what's in that soup but I do and it's none too easy to clean up.  And yeah, that was after her nap.  Then it was time for bed and you can only imagine how that went.  She got her peanut butter (along with the toy Ben and Marshall gave her) and when she was finished, she squeaked it until she got bored...which was about 20 minutes.  Thanks Ben and Marshall!

This morning, we got up and I took the kids to school but as we were leaving, the power went out.  Okay, I'm not home and how long would it be out?  On a clear Monday morning?  Well, about two hours!  I saw the Virginia Power guys and they didn't know what was wrong or where the problem was but in their defense, it was on within 20 minutes so not too bad.  After I got back home and some play time, we both took a quick nap (I'm on evening shift this week) then went to the Bark Park again.

This time, I took a ball for her to chase but that lasted for about two minutes until she found rocks to chew and grass to eat.  I realize she has to have another way to use those senses to compensate for the deafness but why not just look at things?  She sniffed about, ran around and then chased me and the ball for about an hour.  As we were leaving, a couple of dogs in the big dog area saw her and ran up to the fence and I'm glad she's deaf because she was looking the other way but when she saw them, she tried to jump into my pocket!  They were behind the fence and about 30 feet away but that didn't seem to matter.  I made her stop and look at the other dogs because she's never seen one bigger than her since she's lived with me (only Nola who is much smaller).  Pickles had her hair up on her back and growled a bit but then shot for the stairs and pulled me up them to the car.  We stopped by Captain Buzzy's, looking for Mary Ann, but she wasn't there (at least her car wasn't there) then went home. 

Pickles then took a well-deserved nap.  Being a puppy is tiring!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pickles' First Thanksgiving

Well, today was Pickles' first Thanksgiving and she made the most of it.  We got up and ate and then off to the park before everyone got up.  We played in the park for a while, until she got tired, but there was a small issue.  There was some strange guy walking up and down the alley doing nothing other than walking back and forth.  I'm not really sure what that was about but Pickles couldn't stop looking at him.  He finally went away and we went home. 

At home, there were smells everywhere!  There was turkey, ham, macaroni, green bean casserole and rolls!  Pickles didn't know what to smell first and her little tail was just a-wagging.  As you can imaging, it was time for a nap.  Then she woke up and time to play...again.  After a few more cycles of naps and playing, the National Dog Show came on and Pickles sat, at least for a few minutes, and watched the dogs on TV.  I had always heard that dogs couldn't see TV (and after some quick Internet searching, I confirmed that) but they can see moving shapes and hear the noises; that doesn't apply to Pickles!  Now, you know that the TV watching didn't last too long with her and then it was play time again.  Then nap.  Then play.  Then nap and you get the picture.  Now it's time for dinner.

We all sat at the table, said grace and the...pig out time!  Turkey, ham, stuffing, green been casserole, rolls, butter beans, corn, macaroni, rice and the rest of the trimmings.  Pickles did well and jumped up only a few times but could easily be redirected to sit.  She had some turkey (I don't know who gave her that) and some of her liver treats (which is freeze-dried liver that Pickles loves) and then we were done.  Just as we finished, Pickles jumped up into the only vacant chair like she was waiting for her plate (damn camera wasn't close enough and she jumped down).

The kids cleaned up while I watched the Lions game (I thought they had it there for a minute) and Donna took a nap on my lap.  Apparently, at one point, Pickles jumped on to the table!  Now, I didn't see it but I could hear the kids yelling "Pickles is on the table!  Pickles, get off the table!"  With Donna napping, I couldn't get up to get a picture but I'm sure that it was too cute!

After playing some more and jumping up and down on Donna, Pickles finally settled in for nap number nine of the day on the love seat and that's where she is now, with her tongue sticking out!

We're going to head to the park in a bit because I'm sure Pickles has stored up some energy that needs to burned off.

Now, what to be thankful for this year:  my wife, Donna, and my family.  My friends that are like family and the ones that aren't but are still friends.  Facebook which has allowed me to keep up with people I've lost touch with and make a few new friends.  My health (such that it is) and seeing another year.  My team at work, that makes work easier when we're handling a case and fun all the time.  For only having 21 months until I can retire.  And finally, Pickles.  I didn't realize I wanted another dog until I saw her and she licked my face.  In a way, Pickles rescued me.  The dog-shaped space that was left when Maddie died was filled with a smaller dog-shaped dog.  Maddie can never be replaced but Pickles loves like Maddie did.  Unconditionally.  Without question.  She was all too cute in the shelter and I knew that no one else wanted her as there were no applications on her and she'd been there for a while.  Who would want a deaf dog?  Why would anyone care about a deaf dog?  She's broken.  Well, she's not broken to me!  She's a symbol of my life and she needed a chance.  Just the way I've been given chances over the years in so many aspects of my life.  I'm thankful for the person that tied Pickles to that tree.  I'm sure, you're asking why am I thankful for some jackass that would tie a dog to a tree but that's an easy one:  Richmond Animal Control found Pickles and brought her to me!  Finally, I'm thankful to Opie who showed me Pickles and told me about the life a deaf dog would have if not adopted.  Thanks, Opie.    

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The First Visit to the Vet

On Tuesday, we went to the vet for the well-puppy check up and the final distemper shot.  Pickles walked with Donna to the vet and I met them there.  Pickles was a little nervous and a lot rambunctious especially when other dogs and cats would come in.  Pickles got on the scale and she weighed a whopping 25 pounds!  While we were waiting, a Basset Hound came in and they began to sniff each other when Pickles suddenly snapped and lunged but there was no harm done so I held her close until we went into the exam room.

Once in the room, she was on the exam table and she didn't like that probably because it was cold so she didn't sit.  She seemed to like Dr. Jack but was still biting everyone and that has gotten a bit worse as she becomes more comfortable in her new house.  Dr. Jack said she looked fine, gave her the shot and the "new puppy pack" and we were ready to leave.

Pickles seemed to tolerate the vet but charging other dogs is not something that she's going to be allowed to do, at least in my house.  I have a few options for training her and I'm just reading everything there is about training a deaf dog to become an informed daddy and to know which training method is right for her.  Coming up is her first holiday and I know that I am thankful for her and she for us.

Donna bought Pickles two new toys and one of them was a new piece of rope that is red and white and she loves those rope toys!  Later in the day, before the vet, Donna went to the crate and got the other (plain white) rope toy out to play but when Donna threw it and Pickles picked it up, she put it back in her crate.  You see, the white rope toy goes to bed with her every night because she loves it so much and she now thinks this is where it goes and it's for night-night time! AND Pickles lost a tooth!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The First Day Home Alone

Monday was Pickles' first day home alone and she did fine.  She woke up and ate her usual breakfast, when out to "take care of business" and played for a bit then it was time to go into the crate.  She always gets her Kong with about a tablespoon of natural peanut butter (although I'm thinking about changing that just in case there may be an allergy issue) and went right in.  When we left Maddie alone, I would leave the radio on so she wouldn't get too lonely in a quite house but with Pickles, I could leave them all on, with the volume all the way up and it wouldn't matter!  Then we all left.

I was able to slip home about 1000 to let her out and she was sleeping it away!  I woke her up, we went outside and played for a few minutes then back into the crate and yes...there was more peanut butter...just not as much.  Rebecca let her out when she got home and all seemed fine.

After that, we played, went to the park did some training (sit, look at me) and Mommy came home and it was kisses time!

We were winding down for the night when something strange happened.  Maddie died in our den and we had her cremated (via a company that owned by Nelson's Funeral Home and they were wonderful) and her ashes are on a table in that very spot.  Several years ago, we found a small statue of a Mastiff and had that in the house but I moved it to Maddie's table last week because it was behind the TV so the statue had been there the whole time Pickles has been there.  But Monday was different.  Pickles began to whimper and growl while looking at Maddie's table!  The hair on her back stood up and she began to the table...and would not take her eyes off of it.  We tried playing with her and distracting her but nothing worked.  She put her paws on the table, as if she was looking at the container Maddie's ashes are in, and barked again.  The whole incident went on for about 30 minutes and was really strange.  I though, at first, it might be the statue but she'd seen it before so now I had a different thought.  I began to think that she was actually communicating with Maddie and I think Maddie was trying to get the pecking order straight.  It is said when you lose one sense the others become more developed and since dogs aren't told there are no such things as ghosts they see what they see and feel what they feel.  I certainly believe in ghosts! 

[Aside:  My grandfather died in 1973, when I was seven, and I was heartbroken.  One night, after the funeral, I remember waking from a sound sleep and looking into a dark room and seeing an even darker area.  What I saw, in that dark area, was the outline of my grandfather.  He had on his hat and everything!  Nothing was said but I felt a peace fall over me as if to say everything was going to be alright and it was.  To this day I miss him but after that night, I no longer felt the heartache I had the day I found out he died.] 

Since talking to Pickles wasn't working, I talked to Maddie.  I told her that she was still my puppy and that no other puppy could ever take her place but I wanted another doggie to love like I loved her.  I told Maddie about Pickles being tied to a tree and being in the pound and that no one adopted deaf dogs so it was likely that Pickles would have been put to sleep.  I told Maddie that it didn't love Pickles the same way I love her but it was still love and she was my puppy now as Maddie was then.  I also told Maddie that they needed to get along and learn to live with each other.  I was holding Pickles while we talked and Pickles began to settle down and her hair went down.  She seemed more calm.  Whether this is actually the case or not, it seemed to work.  Pickles played for a bit but was still cautious of the table and then, with Kong and peanut butter in mouth went to bed and drifted off to sleep.

Pickles had a good first day alone and I believe she and Maddie got everything worked out because there hasn't been a problem since.  I'm not saying there's not going to be one in the future but for now everything seems to be fine.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Weekend

Well, the weekend has come and gone and Pickles had a great time!  After taking Donna to work on Saturday, we came back home and I went to sleep for a bit (I didn't get off until 0200 Friday night) then, when I got up, we went to the park.  We ran a bit in the park while Pickles was on a long leash but she had fun!  She chased the ball and the kids but she soon got tired so we headed home.  She slept for a bit, had a snack then got on Facebook for a while.  She's a really good typist despite the fact that she doesn't have thumbs.  During the day, Pickles had two visitors:  Lee Ann who brought Pickles a pull toy with a big rubber bone in the middle, a card and a "Doggie Beer" squeak toy and Deanna who brought Pickles two big rawhide treats!  After some tug-o-war with her pull toy, it was time to go to PetsMart.  I originally went looking for a bed and some dry shampoo (I ended up with puppy wipes but they don't work that well).  Pickles needs bath because she didn't get one before she left the pound or the SPCA and I can't bathe her for a week because of the surgery.  Oh, I forgot to tell you, Pickles went too!  Everyone said how cute she and well-behaved she was and it was true.  It's funny to watch people talk to her because there's no way to tell she's deaf...other than she doesn't come when you call her.  The it was time to pick Donna up from work then to bed.  At bedtime, she gets a Kong toy filled with some natural peanut butter (which is her bedtime treat) that she really likes!  Only a few minutes of whining but then, she drifted off to sleep to dream about her pull toys, biting my hand and going for walks.  I like to think that she doesn't dream about being tied to a tree or being in the pound but I really don't know.  That was her life up until she changed mine so I can only wish that her life, for the last three days, has replaced the thoughts of the life that she had. 

Sunday was a bit different.  I took Donna to work, sans Pickles, and then picked up Zack for the day.  When we got home, Pickles was up but had a accident in her crate.  That wasn't her fault because I didn't let her out before I left the house but she was sleeping and was so cute!  We cleaned that up, hung out for a while, went to the park again until Pickles got tired then it was time to get the Christmas stuff out from under the house and Pickles helped...if you can call that helping.  I got one of the rugs from under the house as well.  We cleaned and put them away before Maddie died.  After a good cleaning, the rug was in the house and Pickles really liked it.  She was laying on the rug and wen to sleep and when she woke up, she started to bite and dig at one spot but I'm not really sure why.  Next was a few naps, playing tug-o-war and learning a couple of things.  We've been working on "watch me" where I would get her attention and point to my nose and she caught on after about 50 times over five or six sessions.  Then it was time for "sit".  With this, I would take her treat and bring it over her head until she sat, gave her the index finger (which we're using for sit), the "good dog" sign (thumbs up) and a treat.  She had this down much quicker and is pretty consistent with it.  I also got an email from a trainer that was recommended and I contacted and I look forward to talking with her on Monday.

Time to take Zack home and pick up Donna.  She was sitting in Zack's lap and began to growl at something outside of the car but there was nothing there!  Her hackles were up and she looked mean.  Still haven't figured that out. 

Once home, some more sits and watch me/s and some down time.  Then it was time for bed.

Some thoughts:  She's a great dog although she's bites a bit.  I can only chalk that up to her being deaf and relying on her mouth more that a hearing dog.  Pickles has opened my eyes to the plight of shelter dogs but I'm not sure what to do about that on the back end.  There's no dog that deserves to be treated in such a way and it needs to stop.

I have an idea for Christmas:  I would like everyone to find a broken ornament and "adopt it".  Everything deserves a home at Christmas...especially things that are "broken".

Well, time for bed.  My wake up time comes really early on day shift weeks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pickles' First Day

Well, Pickles is home from the SPCA where she was spayed.  We waited in the hallway for her to come from recovery (as there were many people there to pick up their pets) and when she did, she was just sort of walking until she saw me.....the she bounded up to me and started licking my hand.  We walked out of the hallway and into the reception area with people saying what a cute dog she was and talking to her but Pickles paid them no attention.  Then out of the door, down the steps (which she did with no problem) and to the truck.  I opened the door and she tried to climb in but that was after she stood up and put her front paws on the rear bumper.  Then it was the ride home.  Pickles is a good car-rider as she sat in Donna's lap in the rear seat.  She put her butt right under Donna's arm but moved her front all around.  She even bopped her nose on the window; I guess she hasn't see one before. 

When we got home, the "Welcome Home" sign was on the fence and she had her own photographer!  Photos were taken and then it was time to sniff the yard but as she was doing that, the neighbor's dog began to bark but that was not a problem as Pickles couldn't hear her.  As Pickles was exploring the yard, she went into the "poop garden" and peed.  Now, let me explain what the "poop garden" is.  The whole yard is, basically, a patio except one side (maybe 20 square feet) that is covered in mulch where we plant all of our plants in containers.  When I was lazy, tired, cold or whatever, instead of walking Maddie, I would just let her outside and she went to the "poop garden".  I was thrilled that she went without any direction to the garden because it shows that her nose works and she's picked her own outdoor location for her business. 

Pickles and her rope toy.
 Going inside was like it was her home.  She sniffed around a bit then went right to the empty water bowl looking for water (kinda not prepared there, huh?).  She had some water then went exploring and found her crate, the den and dining room then we gave her the rope toy which I know is going to be her favorite because she didn't put it down!  When she played a little tug-of-war, she grunted like a piglet then growled.  Later, after some more exploring, she had an accident and threw up but that was from the anesthesia.  I went to work but came back later as two friends from work (no names but they know who they are) brought Pickles a welcome home gift: a little ball with legs and a squeaker!  We noticed that Pickles wouldn't sit down and began to wonder why then we discovered that the floor was a little cold for her.  Donna got her a blanket and put it on the floor where she stayed until she went to bed.

So far so good.  She seemed to adjust to the house and the family pretty well and has started to learn not to bite.  When she bites, we quickly take our hands away, place them across our chest and turn away from her and she doesn't like that too much.  When we start petting again, no biting...just kisses. 

Tomorrow is her first full day with us and I know it's going to go great.  She's not a puppy so there should be no chewing on stuff but it doesn't matter because, in some places, Maddie beat her to it!  I think Pickles and Maddie would have been fast friends and inseparable and I think Maddie approves.


Pickles now has a Facebook page so go be her friend! Adams

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What is the Deaf Dog

Well, that's easy enough.  The deaf dog is Pickles who is a four month old pit bull mixed breed dog that was rescued by Richmond Animal Care and Control.  Pickles was found tied to a tree in someones back yard and was taken to the their kennel.  And as you might have guessed, Pickles is deaf.  How did we come to adopt a deaf dog?  Well, it's kind of a long story. 

In December 2009, we had to put our mastiff, Maddie, down.  She was in really bad shape, she couldn't walk and for the last three weeks of her life, I carried her outside to go to the bathroom.  One night, while carrying her out, I tripped and almost dropped her but she landed rough.  When I picked her up, she bit me and that is when I knew she was in more pain than I had thought.  We had tried alternative medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbs etc) but nothing seemed like it was working.  After some soul searching, I knew what I had to do.  Maddie's normal bed was in the dining room and she really liked laying in "the way" but we brought her into the living room with us and lavished her more than usual with love and affection. 

On Saturday, December 12, 2009 I had some friends come to the house and we played with Maddie all day until the vet arrived.  Just after 2:30pm, Maddie slipped quietly to sleep surrounded by family and friends.  There was no more pain, no more yelping and she was at peace.  I, on the other hand, was inconsolable.  I couldn't drink enough that day to make the hurt go away and I couldn't drink enough the next day to make me forget the day before.  I didn't think I would ever want another dog and for a long time, I didn't.  Maddie is the canine love of my life and will never be replaced.  I miss her to this day.  She was our child.

Now, fast forward to September 2010.  We began to look at for another dog.  Nothing really seemed right until we found an Australian Sheppard mix at Richmond Animal Care and Control.  Donna faxed an application to them and I went there the next day but we were third in line for her.  Something strange though:  we didn't like the name Animal Control gave her but couldn't think of another.  A friend took me to the back to see the Sheppard but in the meantime, I saw Pickles.  She was in the cage above the other and was sleeping in a room full of barking dogs.  My friend (she knows who she is but I'm not putting her out there) said she was deaf and had been there for about a week.  She told me of how deaf dogs don't really get adopted out because of their disability.  I listened then went to work. 

I called Donna and told her about Pickles and thought it might be nice to get both of them so the hearing dog could help out the other and she agreed.  I emailed my friend to let her know.  We didn't hear from Animal Control the next day so I went by after work and was told because we were third, we didn't get the Sheppard but my friend told the staff (not putting her out there, either) about us wanting Pickles so she just shifted our application.  I played with Pickles for a bit and thought she was wonderful!  I went home and we talked it over and decided Pickles was the one for us.  The next day, Donna and I went to Animal Control and played with Pickles for a while and she was misbehaving a bit but really caught on fast when we diverted our attention from her and we could tell she was smart!  Her eyes were bright, she was happy and there was no hint of the life that she was rescued was like that part of her didn't exist.  We were in love! 

That night consisted of researching on how to train a deaf dog and the raw diet (thanks to Tom).  The next day, we bought some things like a crate, toys, brush, shampoo and all natural treats and food (commercial dog food is full of grains, corn and other stuff that dogs just CANNOT digest and is not good for them).  So now, our house is all ready for Pickles and we couldn't be happier!

But why did a deaf dog tug at my heartstrings so much?  It's because of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that comes on every Christmas.  If you remember, there is the Island of Misfit Toys where the toys that no one wants go to live.  Not too many people outside of my family know this but, at Christmas time, I buy broken Christmas ornaments just so they'll have a home for Christmas.  I've done it for years and have quite a few broken Christmas ornaments hanging on the tree.  Just things that no one else wants but deserve a good and loving home.  That is why Pickles, the deaf dog, touched me.

Stay tuned for more on Pickles!