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Warm Water Healing for Dogs: Why Pet Owners Turn to It at Increasing Rates

Warm If your dog suffers a traumatic injury or his joints ache from age, you want to help them.  Warm water  healing, is increasingly becoming the option of choice for pet owners. Over the past several years, more veterinarians and owners have seen its benefits firsthand. Hydrotherapy helps pets recover from injuries and improves their quality of life.

Warm Water Healing isn’t limited to dogs recovering from surgeries or dealing with arthritis. It’s an excellent way to keep dogs fit. People whose dogs compete in athletic events turn to hydrotherapy to build their animal’s muscles to give them an extra edge.

 

Natural Healing

Educated consumers are looking for natural, organic, holistic products and services. A vet might prescribe medication for dogs with mild to moderate arthritis, but those drugs come with potential side effects – even the risk of death. Nothing is more natural than hydrotherapy, and its origins go back to the dawn of civilization. It’s safe and effective for dogs and their people. The only side effect is fun.

 

Postponing Surgery

In some cases, regular sessions of hydrotherapy can eliminate the need for surgery. For example, dogs who have not severely torn their cruciate ligaments – one of the most common canine injuries – may recover with hydrotherapy and medical management alone. A young dog who won’t use their leg while walking will in the hydrotherapy pool. Your vet will advise you whether this is a possibility for your pet. Cruciate ligament repair surgery is expensive, and many people simply can’t afford it. Hydrotherapy becomes an alternative offering a pet some relief.

 

Pre-Surgery

While most people think of canine swimming exercise as rehabilitative and used post-surgery, it’s also helpful for dogs prior to their scheduled surgeries. If your dog can’t exercise normally because of the condition that warrants surgery, swimming exercise  can generally keep them fit. Maintaining a level of fitness prior to surgery usually means their recuperation goes more smoothly.

 

Proactive Therapy

It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive, and swimming exercise fills the bill. Regular sessions help your dog build muscles that ease joint pressure, which is a big plus as they get older. Dogs with strong muscle tone are less likely to develop arthritis until quite late in life, giving them years of strong mobility.

 

Weight Loss

If your dog has put on a few pounds, dietary adjustments and regular exercise are the best ways to get them back to a healthy weight. aquatic exercise is one of the best ways to exercise an obese dog, since it is non-weight bearing. It’s easy to overdo exercise in out-of-shape, fat dogs if walking is the primary form. That’s not true of aquatic exercise, and it will get a dog in better condition so they can eventually join you on those long walks.

 

Cardiovascular Fitness

Many people practice cardio fit workouts religiously, for their overall cardiovascular health and general physique. Aquatic exercise offers a cardio fit workout for dogs, aiding recuperation or just maintaining good fitness. Regular swimming sessions improve cardiovascular fitness relatively rapidly.

 

Aquatic Exercise Contraindications

For all its benefits, aquatic exercise is not suitable for every pet. If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease or any condition that affects their breathing, they aren’t a good aquatic exercise candidate. Your vet can answer any questions you have about your dog’s participation in swimming exercise.

 

K9 Aquatic Center

K9 Aquatic Center offers warm water healing, fitness and conditioning programs for dogs of all ages.  We are open every day of the week except Monday. For more information, contact us at 240-683-1100, or visit our website.

 

References

http://www.canine-hydrotherapy.org/

http://iheartdogs.com/thinking-about-hydrotherapy-for-your-dog-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

 

Black eye peas are over rated and a K9 swimming pool for 2016!

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I skipped the black eye peas this year. They are really over rated in my book. I was good last year and took a full teaspoon of those things first thing on January 1st, and it was probably one of the crappiest years in my life, so I like to live dangerously, and this year I just skipped the darn thing!

2016? I used to write my goals every January, hit the gym right away like at 6:00 am on January 1st. Yes they are open. I wonder if they ever close! These days,  the gym I belong to could also be called my favorite charity! (I wonder if it could be tax deductible!) I picked the mutts over the gym. You see with my pack, I need to walk them two per two meaning that I need to do a minimum of three walks a day, here goes the gym. Right there I have at least 4 miles before my day starts.

What do I want in 2016? First of all, I want my family and my friends (four and two-legged ones) to stay healthy. I want a gentle year for everyone even my worst enemies! I don’t have any enemies! I want my K9 swimming pool to open early this year. It took the pregnancy of an elephant to have my pool become reality, but for the time being, it’s still under work. Huge hole in the floor which still needs a lot of TLC, did I mention a lot of TLC, before I could have my happy swimmers in there!

I want Maia, my sweet girl, a nine year old Labrador retriever to stay in remission from Lymphoma. 15% of the dogs stay in remission like forever, so why not my girl? She is doing well right now. Ironically, on March 30th of last year, I was signing the lease for the K9 pool store. Just before signing the lease, I dropped off two of my dogs at my vet: Maia for what I thought was an ear infection, and Sophie for what I thought was a torn cruciate, thanks to the snow which never went away that winter. The time it took me to drop off Maia and go get Sophie from my truck, hell fell on my shoulder, or should I say this is the moment where the earth stayed still. In two minutes the world changed from a happy place to a nightmarish one when my vet told me very sure of himself that Maia had lymphoma, and without any chemotherapy, she would be dead by May. I left both of my girls there while I went to sign the lease with uncontrollable tears running down my cheeks. I would have signed my death sentence that minute. My mind was focused on my girl with her beautiful and sweet golden eyes.

2015 was a year where I fought for everything. First for Maia to live. It was a very rocky road with her. I thought I was going to lose her last July. 6 months of chemotherapy every week for 6 weeks, then a break of a week, and then another six weeks, I am sure you can see the picture. What I learned from these six months, the essential part is that you have to trust the oncologist, and have a good relationship with him or her. It was not the case, and I had to change oncologist in the middle of the treatment. You see, the oncologist knew how to give those drugs but she did not know my dog like I knew her. She discarded what I was saying about Maia being so sensitive, and just shutting down because she was nauseous and not feeling well. Instead of trusting my judgement, they decided not to see the horse in front of them and look for a zebra. They were convinced that Maia has some huge cancer somewhere else and wanted to do every kind of test on her. This is where I stayed STOP. They would have killed her with all those tests. I changed place and went to a new oncologist who was wise enough to know that every dog is different and that treatments have to be adjusted.  I will write a post on my experience with chemotherapy and my girl another time, but I just wanted to show how rocky the road had been. I have not even talked about two of my other labs (mom and daughter) who got the same knee surgery for the same injury in April, and I can’t forget my little guy, my Cairn terror like a girlfriend calls him, who is in the last phase of heart disease. So, yes 2015 freaking sucked and I am extremely happy to have let it go, and have welcome instead a brand new year where everything is possible. Like Trump would have said “2015 you are FIRED! And don’t ever try to come back! Capisce?”

I want 2016 to be a long quiet river for once and not Niagara Falls.

I want the K9 Aquatic Center to open smoothly and to be able to enjoy dogs having fun in the warm water.

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do when I grow up, and I finally did. My dogs did help me a lot in the process though.

All my dogs alive or over the rainbow gently guided me towards the idea of a pool for dogs. They all contributed in the idea.

From Zeus, my heart dog, who had arthritis in his knees and all kind of pains and aches with old age, and who was just rejuvenated each time he was having a swim in warm water, to Zoe who is so stressed out by life (please don’t even ask why!) that the only way she can shake off that stress and at the same time a few pounds is by swimming, to my various dogs who had knee surgeries or injuries where swimming in warm water is the best rehab,  I would have been to be totally dumb for not figuring out at the time, that it was what I was supposed to do.

So, I know that I already have many impatient dogs ‘parents who keep asking me “when is it going to open? When?” The answer is now more precise: We are shooting (crossing fingers and paws) at the end of February, March would be the latest.

So, while waiting for the pool to open, I have to take this opportunity to wish every dog and his or her human a gentle and exciting (the good way!) 2016!

Ready? Set. Swim!

 

Dominique

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Lyme disease and how to protect your dog

What you might not know about it.

I always say that I learn a lot from my dogs, but this is the one thing, I wish I never had to learn the hard way, because it just broke my heart.

yme disease sounds scary, but you know I thought that I protected my dogs the best ways possible. They had their Lyme vaccine every year, and then their heartworm test on a yearly basis as well as Frontline every month not to name it!

Three and half years ago, it was Labor Day weekend, and on Sunday, George, my 3 and half years old black lab was fine and goofing around as usual. The next morning when I woke up, his legs were so swollen, he could not walk. Sometimes you wonder how you do things that you thought you would not be able to do. I carried my 80lbs dog to my truck and we flew to the emergency.

Funny how I did not have a bad feeling about it. I thought he was going to be okay. My beautiful and sweet boy. George had always been glued to me. I could not sit anywhere without having him right away on my lap. I don’t think he ever knew he was a dog.

As soon as they drew some blood, the diagnosis came back: kidney failure due to most likely Lyme Nephritis. He tested highly positive for Lyme. I still thought that he was going to be okay. The vet knew but did not know how to tell me. Lyme Nephritis is a bitch. It’s a disease slowly destroying the kidneys without any precursor signs. It’s a little bit like the body is fighting the kidneys like it doesn’t know they are good guys. It started with a tick infected with Lyme, and for whatever reason instead of fighting Lyme, George’s body decided to go after his kidneys. He was at this emergency on Monday, then on Tuesday I took him to a Veterinary Referral Center in Leesburg.

During the ride, George decided that he did not want to be stuck in the back of the truck and jumped to come to his favorite spot: the passenger front seat. I thought it was a good sign, right? He still had his catheter and everything. When we arrived, he was not that great anymore and they had to get a stretcher. They were amazing over there. It was the Life Center in Leesburg. I went there at the recommendation of the emergency vet. If the internist I saw could do something, it was her. After talking to the internist, Dr. Miller, I left and was supposed to come back early afternoon.

When I came back that afternoon with my youngest daughter, the news were dire. His organs were shutting down, and it was a matter of hours. I could not let him die by himself, so we decided to put him to sleep. I still see him coming with all his IVs and his darn tail still wagging.

In a few minutes, my sweet boy was gone, and I was left empty handed with his collar. Three and half years later, I am still grieving my boy. He was only 3 and half years old, only 3 and half years old. How fair is that?

At that time, my vet had just retired and I had just changed to a new one. I still had George’s Mom, Lola, and his siblings: two sisters, Sophie (Sophie was attached by the hip with George, and it took her some time to recover from her loss. If anyone tells me that dogs don’t grieve, they know nothing about dogs!), Zoe, and then his two brothers, Max and Jackson as well as Maia’s, Lola’s girlfriend. Are you confused enough with my crew now?

I was grieving my boy, but I was SO angry, and I needed to understand. The first thing my new vet told me was “you must have mice where you live?”

“Excuse me?”

“Mice are the ones which infect ticks with Lyme disease?”

I always thought it was the deer. So, it was breaking news for me: deer carry ticks around like birds, squirrels, foxes, and all wild critters. They might carry more ticks than other animals, but THEY DO NOT GIVE LYME TO TICKS. For a tick to be infected with Lyme, at one stage of its life, it has to have been in contact with one of those “deer mice” or white footed mice. Did you know about it? I sure did not? When I started doing research online, then I did discover that it was true. My garage was infested with mice, my truck was infested with mice, and I did not know the threat it was for my dogs or me as a matter of fact.

I called DNR to ask them if they could mention on their website the white footed mice and the Lyme transmission. I never succeeded. I was fighting ignorance, and good luck fighting it! I went nowhere.

In one sentence: if WE COULD ERADICATE THE DEER MICE, LYME DISEASE WOULD DISAPPEAR LITTLE BY LITTLE.

THE FACTS:

  • LYME VACCINE: there is no real way to say that this vaccine is working. If you think about it, if the vaccine was effective for the dogs, don’t you think we would have one for us, humans? Breaking news: we don’t. It covers some strains of the Lyme disease but just a few. I stopped giving that vaccine to my crew after doing a lot of research online.
  • HEARTWORM TEST: even when it’s positive, many vets don’t do anything about it if the dog is not sick because it just meant that at one point, the dog had to fight the disease but if there is no sign, some vets won’t do a thing because so many dogs test positive.
  • FRONTLINE: If you read – the little notice on Frontline, it says that it can take up to 24 hours to be effective. Breaking news: a tick can infect a dog within 12 hours. There are now better products that Frontline. Not sure why so many vets still recommend the darn thing. It has been around forever. It’s comfortable I guess.  

WHAT I DO:

  • LYME VACCINE: out of the picture. My dogs don’t get that shot anymore.
  • HEARTWORM TEST: I still do it but I do not rely on it. Instead what I do is a urine test every six months. If there is any protein in the urine, then Houston we have a problem.
  • TICKS AND FLEAS REPELLENT: I now use K9 Advantix II which kills ticks within an hour or less. I use it EVERY MONTH no matter what the temperature is, because breaking news again: Ticks did not read the notice saying they have to die when it’s below freezing. You can find ticks these days any month of the year.
  • They have those new medications which are not as messy since your dog can swallow a pill instead of you having to apply it below his neck. They are not as effective, and furthermore, but it might just be me but that stuff is a pesticide. Do I want my dogs to swallow a pesticide? Nope!

 Last, unfortunately, Lyme Nephritis attacks mostly young dogs, and the two favorite breeds are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. No clue why. It just happens. So, if you do have a young retriever, just be careful, be aware that there might not be signs, and when they show, it could be too late. I am not saying that what I do is 100% effective, BUT the urine test every six months if you live in a tick infested area, is really the best thing you can do to be sure the kidneys are in good shape, and  with a great tick repellent, that’s probably the best you can do to protect your dog. And last, if you have mice where you live, GET RID OF THEM, and I mean it. Not with ultra sounds but with good all traps. I cannot see a mouse now without thinking of my boy.

georgenAs you know, I am not a vet, but I learned the hard way that vets don’t really share their knowledge (they don’t have time!) and you have to learn by yourself a lot of stuff. I just wish I did not have to do it the hard way by losing my 3 and half year old rambunctious boy, my George. If that blog can spare ONE life, I would be happy.

 

The Dog Who Never Barked

neverbarkIt started years ago. My daughter Jessica was 10, and she wanted to go see the puppies. Now, I am sure I would not even consider going to that place, but at that time, yes we did. Sue me! It was just a pet store which is still around even now, forbidden place for me since I don’t want to get mad, and I will, trust me on that one, seeing pups in small cages, pups coming from puppy mills and whose owner don’t give a damn about the dogs, there are just there for the dollars.

Anyway, at that time, it was just “to look”. We already had Douchka, our German shepherd, and I was not planning to have any other dogs.

We came in, and immediately were taken aback by the number of pups in glass cages, looking at you with those eyes. If I had been a millionaire, I would have taken everyone home with me, but I was not. Coming out of the brouhaha of that Saturday morning, a “sales person” was carrying back to his crate a Golden retriever puppy, commenting on his status “Everyone wanted to see him, but nobody wanted to take him home!” What do you want me to say? Yes, I did endorse that place by taking the pup. Between Jessica’s eyes, and the pups’ scared eyes, how could I not? He was 3 months old, coming from a puppy mill which closed down six months later, he went home with us.

It was the time of the Nano pet. Do you remember those? The only thing I remember from them was that they were forbidden in schools; therefore I had to take care of the Nano pet while I was at work, and otherwise the darn thing was going to die! Great technology, I am telling you!

The puppy from the puppy mill got a name, the one from the Nano thing! Pouch. Douchka was not crazy about him. He was just a puppy, and at that time, she had no patience for puppies. It changed later on in her life. Even my “au pair” girl did not like him. But Pouch was home for good. I never ever thought about getting rid of one of my furry kids. They are my furever kids no matter what.

I always crated our pups, but Pouch was not going to take it. Later on, we realized that Pouch was claustrophobic. He could not stand small spaces: crates or my truck, but it took us a while to figure it out. Pouch’s crate was our kitchen that he started to remodel to his tastes! Despite of all his chew toys, he decided that the best toys in the world were the moldings! Gosh, he loved to chew on it, no matter what. I put tabasco, hot pepper, nothing worked. I just had to be patient, and wait until he was done destroying the kitchen, and believe me or not, it happened

Pouch was our goofy boy. When he was a teenager, at one point, I heard some crunching noise, and could not figure out where it was coming from. I went to the dining room and saw our boy chewing Cognac glasses. Yes, they were clean, and I had just bought them, not because I like hard liquors but because the glasses were cool. Called my vet who told me to give him some bread. I did not have bread, so instead he got croissants, and everything went down smoothly. Good old Pouch. I will always remember those glasses!

Pouch was Jessica’s dog, the shadow of her shadow. He was the one who was there for her in good and bad times.

Pouch was stubborn, extremely stubborn! At one point, I took a trainer. The trainer gave up on him. He was pulling on his leash no matter what, and her answer was “he wants to be the leader, let him be!”. One day we took him to a field, and she told me: “You are going to see why he is called a retriever!”, and she threw a ball. Pouch stayed there, sitting down, and looked at us like “Am I supposed to do something with that thing?” Pouch did not retrieve! Pouch hated the water! I remember one time where we were walking along the canal, and he suddenly rolled on his back in the grass along the path, and I saw it coming: he just rolled into the canal, and yes, he almost drowned in 3 feet of water. I had to go to rescue him. That was our boy!

Pouch, as any Golden retriever, did not have one mean bone in his body. That’s just the way they are! One day, I was walking my bunch: Douchka, Pouch, Sammie (my little one), and Jet, my lab, and Pouch loved to be ahead of us. Suddenly I heard Sammie bark, a weird bark that I had never heard before. I rushed, and I saw Pouch sitting quietly with a groundhog hanging from his cheek. I had to kick the darn thing out, but my boy never moved. He was ok, but he was just sitting there, ignoring that beast which was hanging on his cheek. That was our boy!

He became kind of lost when Jessica went to college. She was coming back most of the weekends, but he lost his routine there. He loved to sleep in her room no matter what.

One morning I put all the dogs out, and Pouch was MIA. I called him. Nothing. I went to Jessica’s room. He was not there. I even looked under her bed, like if a 100 lbs. dog could squeeze there! I became frantic pretty soon. Did I forget to take him back inside the night before, and he escaped? What was I going to say to Jessica? I lost your dog….. I was just freaking out! I had gone through the whole house unsuccessfully. Suddenly I thought the only place I had not checked was Jessica’s bathroom. As soon as I opened the door, I saw him, sitting and kind of scared. Hey, he heard me screaming all over the bloody house, but he stayed there, still, not barking, quiet, waiting for the storm to pass.

I still remember that morning like if it were yesterday. Crying through my smiles, we had a very special walk that morning, the two of us. I remember the horses, the geese flying over us, and that quiet and serene walk. It was a beautiful morning, and I realized that day how much I was taking him for granted.

At the age of 12 and half, Pouch was diagnosed with Lymphocytic leukemia. He was a fighter, and with the help of chemotherapy, he stayed with us for almost two years. The leukemia did not kill him but he also had all sorts of tumors growing in his body. One day, he suddenly could not stand on his feet. His spirit was intact, but he had no more control of his legs. I guess a tumor was in control of his brain. I remember his eyes: he looked so lost. He was looking at me with hope. I was the “fixer”, and I did fixed him. We put him to sleep. Jessica and I were with him until the last minute and after. Until almost the end, he was eating his favorite treat: dried freeze liver.   His spirits were good. We let him go because it was the right thing to do. It doesn’t mean that it was easy or easier.

I never realized until he was gone how much of an impact he had on our lives. I know he is well. Sometimes I can feel his presence. Some mornings, I can see him lying in the sunrise on my bedroom floor. I know he is in a good place, but Gosh, I never realized before he left us how much I was going to miss that dog who never barked.

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Reiki Who?

reikiA few years ago, I was telling my ex vet (one of the reasons, he became my ex vet) that I was taking Zeus to Reiki every week, and he asked me: “Reiki Who?” I can’t get over that one!

As always, I only talk about my experience! When Zeus got older, and started to have arthritis in his joints, I tried to help with anything which could come into my mind. It was so painful just to see him walk. Hey, it was my boy, Zeus, the one who could run away from me with the Thanksgiving turkey, the one who could not resist a chipmunk or who loved to retrieve, but always needed two bumpers at the same time to retrieve. He was not going for only one! He had standards!

Besides the medications for his joints and some anti-inflammatory pain meds, what else could I do to help him? We did acupuncture, and he was totally relaxed after the sessions. So relaxed that he did not even want to climb back to my truck despite of its ramp, and I had to carry his 100lbs. to the truck!

I found a swimming pool for dogs with jets in Virginia and decided to give it a try. It was so sad for me to suddenly realize that Zeus, who loved so much the water, did not enjoy these swimming and retrieving sessions. He was just too tired for them.

At the same place, there was an advertisement for Reiki sessions, and I decided to give it a try!

WHAT IS REIKI?

Reiki is a Japanese healing art for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. The meaning of Reiki in Japanese is “Universal Life Force”, and was synthetized in the late 1800’s by Mikao Usui.

In Reiki, the practitioner is seeking to transmit Universal Life Energy to the patient. The goal is to create relaxation, to help speed healing, reduce pain. It is administered by “laying on hands”. In the Reiki philosophy, the “life force energy” flows through us and is the reason we are alive. If one’s “Life force Energy” is low, we are more susceptible to get sick, and if it’s high we should be more able to be happy and healthy. Reiki can also be practiced “long distance” as a form or prayer.

REIKI and animals: When they are ill: Reiki helps the healing process.

– When they are young or old: You can use Reiki on an animal of any age or situation.

When they have been through a trauma: Animals can use loving energy after they’ve experienced any type of abuse, loss, or move, or if they seem to exhibit depression or other behavioral disorder.

For the last three years of his life, he had a Reiki session with Ingrid on Thursdays at 10:00 am. I swear he knew when it was Thursday! Every time, he was waiting for me by the door. We both loved those Thursdays!

Of course, Zeus being Zeus, he was playing me so well. To go to the Reiki room, we had to go through a pet store with all the possible yummy treats near his nose. So of course, he was stopping every two feet and looking at me like “hey, you want me to walk more? I need a cookie!” We played the game, each time. I was always taking a cookie with me and was putting it in front of him to make him walk to the Reiki room, and most of the time it worked.

Once there, he was going straight to the sheep rug, crashed on it, and allowed Ingrid to do the magic with her hands. He was enjoying those 45 minutes, every minute of them, enjoying the touch, my presence, and the peaceful ambiance of the room.

What was amazing was to see Zeus after the Reiki session. He was coming as an old guy, and leaving as a mature but quite alert pup! He would have probably needed Reiki every day, and sometimes I do regret not to have thought at that time of studying Reiki to give it to him on a daily basis.

Even now, more than four years after his passing, I can still picture him by the front door waiting for me on “Ingrid’s Day”.

Two years after Zeus died, our Golden retriever was diagnosed with Lymphocytic Leukemia. Pouch was the first dog who allowed us to have a long, very long goodbye. We fought that disease. He got chemotherapy, and I remember how the first time I had to give him these little red pills, I started crying like a baby, because I knew that they will change my boy forever as well as weaken his immune system.

I also decided to try Reiki for him. He would need as much comfort as he could get. Reiki gives energy to those lacking it, and here we went again on a Thursday and it was at “Zeus time” which was kind of eerie.

The difference between Zeus and Pouch is that Zeus loved to be in my truck when Pouch was a bit claustrophobic and never enjoyed car rides. After the first session, Ingrid suggested “long distance Reiki”. I was not familiar with it at all, and yes, for me, it sounded a bit sketchy, but hey, anything which could help my boy was worth a try.

This is another day that I will never forget. It was a Monday, and Pouch was supposed to have his first “Long distance Reiki” in the afternoon. I was in my office at my computer, and he was lying in a bed near me. Suddenly I heard him having a huge sigh which make me turn around to look at him, and he was still in the “sigh process” while at the same time stretching his legs. And the phone rang. It was Ingrid who told me she just finished the Reiki session with Pouch and that he needed a lot of energy in his back. After that day, I never had a second thought about it. Pouch got Reiki until he died a year later.

You know, with furry kids, when they are sick or getting older with pains, you can’t explain anything to them, so I am always on the lookout for anything which could make them as comfortable as possible, and Reiki has been a huge part of their wellbeing.

Now, when I look at my pack, I know that in some years, I am going to have 6 senior dogs with pains and aches. I can barely think about it without tearing up, and I need to be ready for them. So, not long ago, I started to learn how to practice Reiki and I am going to go all the way, and one day, when my pack is old and gray, I will be there with Reiki and unconditional love for my furever furry kids.

Pet Insurance: Taking It Or Not Taking It? My Experience.

A few years ago, after our Golden retriever, Pouch – don’t ask about the name please! – was diagnosed with Lymphocytic Leukemia, I looked back, and saw in the background the remaining of my gang: 7 Labrador retrievers and my little terrier (little only in size!) and thought: “Gosh, five of them are the same age, being siblings, if they get sick at the same time, how am I going to be able to do the best for each of them?”

The worst nightmare if you have a furry kid – besides the fact that they don’t live long enough – would be not to be able to afford the best care in time of sickness. I talked to my ex vet, and he suggested I contact VPI. It was 3 years ago.

One day, I decided it was the day, and I called VPI. You know before you talk to these sales representatives, there is always a message saying that “the call is recorded for training purposes”. I swear, next time, I get that message, I will warn the rep that I am going to record the conversation as well for “accuracy purposes”! Really wonder how they are going to take it! Anyway, a guy, really nice – hey, remember he is a sales guy! He gets a commission for every sale he makes – so, yes he can be nice!

The sales rep got me right away. I was not interested in being covered for the annual exam and shots, but for accidents and illnesses. He suggested the $ 1,000 deductible since I had 8 dogs to cover, the premium would be less expensive while I could afford the deductible. I remember asking him if everything was covered after the deductible, and he told me yes, up to $ 14,000 per year. Cancer was not excluded, and if one of my mutts gets cancer, he will still be covered the following year. I am telling you: I was relieved! I suddenly became grown-up! I had health insurance for my pack! It was around $300.00 a month, and now I could sleep at night. My mutts were protected and will be safe. I was a happy camper!

They deducted the money right away from my bank account, and within a month I received policies for everyone. Did I read them? No. The sales rep explained to me whatever needed to be known. I felt confident, and neatly put every policy in the mutt’s folders.

A year ago, George, one of my beautiful pups, got sick on Labor Day weekend. He woke up with swollen limbs. One day he was his old self, the next day, he could barely walk. I took him to the emergency clinic where he was diagnosed with Lyme nephritis. I did not realize right away how bad it was, or I did not want to realize it. I kept saying that I had health insurance, that whatever was needed, they could do it, right? At one point, a vet tech came in and tried to make me understand that George was lost, he was not going to make it, and cost wise, it would make more sense to put him to sleep right away. I remembered looking at her like an alien, when they must have thought I was the alien. How could I have ever agreed to put to sleep my handsome 3 year old black lab? For God sake, he looked healthy the day before? I just could not even think about putting him to sleep. It was George, for God sake. I was the one to cut his umbilical cord. He was my special pup!

To make a long story short, I refused to put him to sleep, and decided to try to save him. George stayed at the emergency for 24 hours, and then, the day after was just a regular day, so I had to take him to a hospital where he was going to be seen by an internist while being taken care of in ICU.

His condition went from bad to worst within a few hours, and yes there was a possible treatment, but the internist, who was by the way, one of the most amazing ones I have met, and I have met a few, told me he was not going to make it. No amount of money will make him survive! At that point, after a full day at that hospital, I decided to put him to sleep. I could not bear the idea of him dying alone and we put him to sleep at that time, and let him rest in peace.

I paid the bills, and more bills. I just added them up recently to see exactly how much I had spent, not that it mattered. I would have sold the house I did not own to save him! The total amount was $7,795.69.

The days following George’s death, still in a daze, I started faxing every single bill to VPI, right? When I went online to check the claim, I thought I was hallucinating when I saw that they would be reimbursing me a bit less than $ 1000.00 including the euthanasia. All the anger I had from losing George was now aimed at VPI. I called them, and they explained very nicely to me that they do not reimburse the real expenses but they have a chart for each illness and they gave me the details:

Lyme for instance was $ 335.00, and then they were covering some blood tests. At that time, they gave me the link to the chart in question, and I realized that most illnesses or treatments were reimbursed for less than $ 1,000! Yes there were a few exceptions: chemotherapy was $2,000.00, Knee surgery was 2,620.00, but most of them were under $1,000.00. So, basically, no matter what, I was screwed since my deductible was $ 1,000.00 and my nice sales rep. blatantly lied to me like he must have been lying to thousands of people to make a buck.

Yes, I should have read the whole brochure I received for each mutt, the whole thing since the part which really matters is in the last few pages. That part is also on their website, but it’s not really visible. You have to know where it is in order to access it. They don’t talk about it, because you know, it’s just about how much you love your animal and want to protect him or her, right?

Here is the magic link.

Even if it’s written “sample” it was the chart of how much they reimbursed me at that time. Do you really think that, if I had seen that chart when enrolling, I would have enrolled? Nope!

At the end of the day, it was my fault, and only my fault! I did not read the brochure I received after the enrollment. If I had read it, I would have cancelled it right away because it was just major BS. How could anyone of their sales rep recommend a $ 1,000 deductible when most illnesses and accidents are under the $ 1,000.00 limit?

When I talked to my ex vet about it, she said that they do reimburse fast. True, but how much? She also mentioned at that time that each time she sees a patient for a specific problem; she makes sure that whatever problem it is, she writes in the chart, that it was solved. She learned that from experience. One of her patients, a German shepherd, was brought to her at one point for diarrhea. Obviously, the dog got back to normal, but she never wrote it in his chart. Two years later, he had a twisted stomach, and needed surgery. VPI denied the claim because the previous “stomach problem” was never cured according to the chart.

I was naïve, very naïve. How could I have trusted someone just because he said so? I guess because I still believed at that time that they could not misrepresent their services the way they did. But, you know, if I think for one minute about it: those health insurances for pets are there TO MAKE MONEY, nothing else. Why would they be better than health insurance companies for humans?

After George’s death, I was still trying to believe that somewhere there had to be a good health insurance for my furry kids. I was feeling so vulnerable without insurance. Oooopppsss, I forgot to mention that I cancelled VPI after I realized what they were about.

I tried two other health insurances for pets where they said “they reimburse the real cost of the treatments.” This time, it was easy! I asked them to evaluate George’s file, and to tell me what they would have reimbursed. Both of them declined. It would have been easy. I had his whole file until he died, but no, they just refused to do it. But when you read between the lines, they have the right to ask for you to bring your sick pet for other evaluations, therefore, your pet might be dead before he gets approved for whatever treatment is needed. I passed on them, and I passed on the idea of health insurance for my pets.

When I see reviews on pet insurances like not long ago on Angie’s list, someone saying: “I am so relieved now that I have VPI for my dog. They will reimburse me up to $ 14,000 a year for his medical expenses. This is great.” I become sad.

I understand the concept of making money of course, but making money by not saying the truth, the whole truth, is just a masquerade. No, they do not care, the only thing health insurance companies for pets have in their minds is the dollar sign, hey this is the country of opportunities. Everyone knows that pet parents spend more and more money every year on their pets. They just want a part of it.

So, what am I doing now? After George’s passing, I opened a bank account for the mutts. Every month I make a $300.00 deposit like a “premium”. In just a year, I have $ 3,600.00 there for them. This money is for my furry kids, and it grows fast. I know it’s there, and I know that when the time comes, because at one point, it will come, I will be able to give them the best care I can afford, which is much better that what I could have got from any health insurance companies.

Again, this is my experience. Maybe you are happy with yours! Share your stories, because the really only thing which matters here is keeping our furry pets safe.

Open Letter to My Deer

Seriously guys? I like it quiet in the morning! Don’t you think I have enough chaos with the mutts and cats and fish? What I enjoy the most when I begin my day is to look at all of you, beautiful, trusting, and peaceful? Peaceful? Does it ring a bell? What I don’t want to see when I open my beautiful eyes in the morning it two high testosterone bucks fighting with each other in my front yard!

They freaking scared me this morning! I was leaving the house, and here were those two morons trying to kill each other. They did not mind my truck, my screams (don’t worry my neighbors know I could be nuts sometimes!) or my high beams. I sure was not going to get out of my truck to get impaled on one of their antlers! Finally, I got it. The two morons were not going to stop but if I managed to have the doe out of the way, maybe they will stop! Sure enough, it did not take much to get the girl out of the picture. The bucks were still at it, but suddenly became more aware of their surroundings. One of them, suddenly, bolted out and ran away in the woods. The other one snorted a few times, then went after him but without much conviction!

When I got home, I went straight to my computer and my best friend Google. What else does a girl need when she has Google? Google never talks back, and just answered questions. I am in love with Google! Anyway, that’s how I learned that yes, bucks can kill each other for a girl! Hello? Which century are you living in guys? Dying for a doe? Not worth it, I can tell you this right away! On top of it, in two weeks, you won’t even think about that doe anymore and you will hang out again with your buddies! I mean if you haven’t killed them before.

I also learned with my beloved Google that young bucks don’t fight, only the old ones. Get that picture? A love war for senile bucks with arthritis and worst? Gosh, and they don’t even need Viagra!

In the afternoon, a doe was eating some apples while two big – meaning senile ones – were pacing around her. She did not seem to mind, eating peacefully her apple. One buck had a mean expression on his face (the kind of face you don’t want to meet at night in a rural area!), and his eyes were following the whereabouts of the other one who was wandering around, not getting too close to the doe, but wandering like he minded his own business when, probably the only thing he could think of was how to get the doe! Senile dirty old guys! I kind of broke their testosterone spirit when I stepped outside to change the water in the birds’ bath. The doe went one way, while the two bucks were wondering if a good fight for nothing would still be worth it.

I love “my” deer. They are not mine ok DNR? They are not domesticated! They don’t live in my house, they don’t sleep on my couch! They are just the majestic habitants of my front field. So don’t you try to kill them under false pretenses?

I know we have a lot of deer, and I mean a lot. They say it’s because they have no more predators, but they also have no more land to go to. So, they adjust to their new habitat: living close to the humans. Hunting might be necessary. I am not a hunter, and no matter what I cannot understand how you can kill any living beings, but that’s me. I am just a girl probably too sensitive, who doesn’t understand why the state of Maryland authorizes hunters to bait the deer and kill them while they eat. I don’t call that hunting, I call that slaughtering, but again, it’s just me.

I have a friend who is Native American, and he used to be a hunter. His grandmother was always telling him that he will stop hunting when the animals will talk to him, and he thought she was getting senile. One day, he was somewhere in the woods, after hiking for hours, and suddenly in front of him, a few hundred feet away stood a beautiful buck, 8 points, meaning big. He got his gun, was aiming at the buck, when suddenly the animal turned around, walked towards him a bit, stood there, and looked at him. Not moving, nothing, just staring. Easy shot. My friend lowered his gun, and walked away. It was the day he stopped hunting. Unfortunately his grandmother had already passed but I am sure that from wherever she was, she was smiling. My friend is a big rough guy, but each time he tells this story, some tears just tried to make their way to his cheeks.

So, yes, I love to watch them. I know it’s lame but this is the truth: I have never been hurt by an animal, any kind of animal. I have been hurt by people, yes, but never by animals. I respect them, I don’t try to tame them, I just let them be. In exchange they gave me their beauty and their grace, ok, except during the rut season.

It’s fall, it’s rut season. The does are still dragging behind the fawns from last spring, and are probably already pregnant with the next one. Nature is tough.

Some see them as a nuisance (that’s personally what I would call a lot of humans!), I just see their grace, their gentleness, and I still remember fondly one summer day a few years ago, I was gardening in the front yard, totally in my thoughts when suddenly someone softly nudged me on my shoulder. I turned around and saw that beautiful doe. There is a reason we say “doe eyes”. She went a few feet away, grazing some grass. No clue what the meaning of that nudge was, but it was just a moment to remember: the doe that trusted me.

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Open Letter to George

georgeExactly one year ago, at 4:15 pm, we put you to sleep. Labor Day weekend will always be associated with you, no matter what. Here goes one less holiday to celebrate! I hope you are in peace, free of pain, my beautiful boy.

I am not going to lie to you. This weekend was tough. I was reliving almost hour by hour our last two days together. I still look at the last picture I took from you on that Sunday when you were so vibrant of life.

It was so hard to let you go. I stopped calling your name in the yard which was a way to believe that you were still around. Not because I thought the neighbors would think I am crazy, but because it was upsetting too much your sister, and partner in crime, Sophie. Each time I say your name, she goes by the glass door to wait for you. I just couldn’t do that to her.

A few weeks after you crossed the rainbow bridge, our neighbor, the one with the pool, came all the way to the house to see if you were OK. His wife told him that she did not hear me screaming your name anymore in the yard. My free spirited dog! Even the last night before horror slapped me in the face, I remembered how exasperated I was around 10:00 pm because you were still playing in the yard. But you came, my wild boy, with that grin which got me since the day you were born.

The first few weeks after you left us were tough. I am not going to deny it, and you must have known it. First, there was Sophie who refused to eat for several days and was standing by the door, waiting for you. If my heart had not been already broken, she would have broken it a bit more. My ex vet used to say that animals don’t mourn. This is crap, you know, because Sophie was in mourning for a very long time.

Sophie never replaced you. It would have been easy for her to hang out with one of your siblings, Max or Jackson, but no, since that September 4th, she is a loner. Don’t get me wrong, she does enjoy life, food, walks, and her bumper, but no one replaced you. You were like attached by the hip to her, and now she just stands by herself.

I wish you could have seen us – me and her – when she came home one morning with a dead squirrel in her mouth. She was so proud of herself! And I was so freaking out! Since that morning, you know Sophie, my wild child, and she decided since the squirrel episode, that she can’t have breakfast before killing a stuffed toy! So, while I am fixing their meals, she is running around like a nut with a toy in her mouth, shaking it, until she is sure the darn thing is dead, and then she comes for breakfast.

I talk about you a lot, I think about you a lot, and if I could resume you with one word, it would have been: HAPPY! I never saw a dog as happy as you were. Ever. And the last picture of you, when you were coming from the intensive care unit with all your IVs and catheter, and God knows what else; you were still wagging that tail! My happy boy!

After you left me, I found your spot in the yard where you had buried all your treasures: your candy cane toy, and carrots, lots of rotten carrots! George, you were never starved! Why on earth did you have to bury these carrots like you were anticipating bad days coming?

I have that memory of you when I was coming home, and I was seeing you coming from the back of the house at full speed towards me. You never figured out how to slow down. Always bumping into me at full speed with that big grin! Gosh, I miss your grin!

I don’t know how long it took me until I stopped expecting your 80lbs of full happiness on my lap each time I was sitting down! You were my lapdog! From the minute you were born, you were so glued to me. The first rides in the car, you had to be on my lap! I know that the girls said that our bond was because I cut your umbilical cord, but I don’t know anymore. I just know that my lap is meaningless now that you are gone.

The first Christmas without you around for breakfast was eerie. The year before, you were so proud when you jumped on that chair to be at the table with us.

Rewinding your life, I feel like you were living yours at 100 miles like if you knew that you would not go past 3 years, 5 months and 14 days.

Today, I wanted to tell you George that we are going to celebrate you with a roasted chicken. Remember how you almost took my fingers away one day when you stole a chicken, and I got it back from you, kind of. These were the good days….

I am missing you like every single day since you left us, and I wanted to tell you that I would give anything to have you back just for one minute, just for one minute. RIP my beautiful boy! We had so many great moments together, not just enough years.

~Mom

Note: George died from Lyme Nephritis. He had no symptoms until the last days. He was “normal George” until September 3rd when he woke up with swollen limbs and was diagnosed with kidney failure. He had his Lyme shot as well as Front line. It was not enough. The vets did everything they could to save him, but it was too little too late. If you have a young lab or golden retriever, be sure to check them for Lyme often no matter what. That specific condition doesn’t happen that often, maybe a dog in thousands, but it really doesn’t matter when it’s yours.

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Lost or Stolen Pets: ENOUGH!

Every day, I monitor my Facebook news feed, my emails, and shares the missing or found furry kids in the DC Metro, and let me tell you, it’s quite depressing.

From Abbie, the Rottweiler who went missing or got stolen last July and was never seen again (https://www.facebook.com/HelpUsFindAbby) dozens of dogs and cats disappear every day: what are we doing wrong? How can we keep our pets safe?

There is nothing worse than not knowing what had happened to your furry kid. Some thirty years ago, I left my dog, a Brittany spaniel to my mother while I was going away for a week. Her name was Julie. There was a very famous song in France “Julie the redhead”, and Julie, my dog, had the cutest freckles on her nose.

When I came back, my mother told me that Julie had escaped and disappeared. I was heartbroken, I spent my time putting flyers, checking the equivalent of Humane Society since I was living in France, and Julie was never seen again. For years, I wondered what had happened, if she has been rescued by a family, sold to a laboratory, abused, hurt? For years, I was wondering if I will ever see her again.

Not long ago, my mother casually mentioned Julie and how she was hit by a car and killed. My mother is not an animal person, and in her mind, she was doing me a favor by not saying anything, and giving me hope. Hope it was not. Nightmare would have been a more appropriate word. I finally had closure after so long.

So what should we do to keep them safe?

1. A Safe Yard? There is no such thing.

I still remember when the mutts were maybe 4/5 months old, they were outside in the backyard, and I was in the house. One of them, Sophie, Ms. Smarty Pants to name her, figured out how to open the latch, and suddenly I saw through the window five straight little tails going all around the front yard to the driveway, to the neighbor’s next door. I was lucky: I was home, I noticed them running around, and Jessica, my daughter was home, and we managed to get them back home safe.

I learned something that day:

NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOGS UNATTENDED IN YOUR “SAFE” YARD.

Needless to say I put padlocks on the gate, but still.

  • Keep an eye on your furry kid(s) when they are outside.
  • If you have a gate or two gates, put padlocks on them
  • Do not leave your furry kid in the yard if you are leaving the house.
  • Even if your yard is safe, there could be a storm, and a tree can fall down and break the fence (It happened to one of my neighbors: her lab was in the yard when a tree fell down, and she never saw her dog again).
  • Check your yard on a regular basis for any digging or broken fence. Not long ago, Ms. Sophie – again – dug a hole against the fence. You should have seen her face when, the next day, she went straight to it, and the hole was gone with a few improvements on top of it.
  •  Invisible fence? Would you leave your kid outside with a collar around her or his neck? Invisible fence might be good for the eyes but it doesn’t prevent anyone to come to steal your dog or another dog that is not invisible fence savvy to attack yours.

2. Microchip

Microchipping your dog is good in the overall. If someone steals your dog though, the microchip might not be of a big help.

3. Collar and Leash

Leash:

I am totally paranoid about that one. It happened to me with a retractable leash which broke when Maia saw a squirrel on a trail. I stayed with the handle of the leash, and a dog running around. Fortunately for me, Maia is obedient, and came back. The return was not fun, holding her collar. I am not using that kind of leashes anymore since there is not really a way to prevent it. I know that I could have returned the leash, and would have got a new one. But honestly, would I really care for a new leash if my dog had died out of it? I don’t think so. So, extendable leashes are banned forever from my home.

Collar:

I usually use a choke collar to walk most of them. They are pretty good, but I now make sure that every link is properly “linked” to the next one. Again, I was lucky, but it happened to Jackson in a pet store, and let me tell you, Jack had the time of his life. He managed to swallow for over $ 40.00 of treats before we could get hold of him. That’s my boy!

Regular fabric collars should be checked on a regular basis as well. The fabric can start to “give away”, and you certainly don’t want to stay empty handed with a dog running around in the traffic.

Pepper spray:

I always carry pepper spray with me attached to my belt. I told you, I am totally paranoid! But you know what? If an unwelcome or aggressive dog comes towards us, or if a nut (and there are many around) try to steal my dog (honestly he would have to be on crack!) then my pepper spray makes me feel safer!

Call me paranoid but better being safe than sorry. Every poster for a missing furry kid or every post on the net for lost pets just breaks my heart. Let’s keep them safe!

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JET, or My First Labrador Retriever

jetI love dogs, cats, anything with four legs, a tail, and furry coat! I had many dogs, but one day, unexpectedly, I just fell in love with one breed: the Labrador retriever.

I really did not know much about labs. Mostly the picture I had in my mind was a big fat thing snoring around. Sorry guys. I know this is so so wrong, but hey it was how I was picturing a lab until I met Jet. Jet was my boyfriend’s lab, and I suspect, no I know, that I stayed with him for his dog. I fell in love with that black thing immediately. Jet was a working dog, and loved to go hunting with his Dad. But, as he was getting older, it became more and more difficult for him to get up early and go freeze his butt in a field. He still liked the idea, but his joints were too stiff in the morning to really go for it.

At that time, I already had Douchka, a German shepherd, and Pouch, our Golden retriever. Both of them accepted Jet pretty fast. Douchka being Douchka started by showing him who was the boss, but she would have died to protect him or Pouch or her humans. Pouch was Pouch, our gentledog, and started to hang out a lot with Jet, sharing bones, and playing tug war.

Every day, I was taking the three of them to walk in a big field, leash free. They minded me….. Most of the time. We had a few adventures that way. The field which was a Pepco facility field was surrounded by houses on both sides. One day, a Sunday, I was walking them around lunch time, and the three of them started running around. They disappeared for ten seconds, and then came back like accomplices licking their lips. I did not have a second to wonder what mischief they had got into that I heard a guy screaming at his wife: “Honey where did you put the hot dogs?”, and a female voice replying “They are on the patio table.” “No, they are not! The dish is empty. Where are the $#$@##$$ hotdogs?” Needless to say and yes, with some shame, I have to acknowledge that the four of us ran away from the screaming house as fast as we could. I never walked them again around lunch time on weekends there.

That field was not flat. At one point there was a big hill, and Jet got me there one time…. He started to rush to climb that hill, and I did not mind. I mean, I did not know him that well at that time. At one point, at the top of the hill, he turned back his face towards me, and then disappeared. I started running with my two other buddies following me. I arrived at the top of the hill, and Jet was nowhere to be seen. I totally panicked, and started running around and screaming his names: nothing. I ran back to my truck with the dogs, and started to drive around the neighborhood. Thank God, it was a very quiet neighborhood but nothing. It was like he had vanished from the field. Not knowing what else to do, I went back to the field, and there, on the sidewalk, sitting quietly, was Jet waiting for me. It did make sense. It was where we parked, and once he finished exploring whatever he was doing (I learned later that he was visiting a Dalmatian girl who lived close by) he went back waiting for me, his human, who had left him alone in the wild world! A few times, he tried to play that trick again on me, but as soon as I was seeing him going faster to climb that hill, I was right behind him!

Jet was the first dog that had a great sense of humor! We communicated well. He came with me everywhere: from work to errands. Everyone knew him. If I were going to make a deposit at a bank, there was always a cookie ready for him.

The front passenger seat was his, and he was anticipating my driving. So many times, when he was seeing a stop sign coming, he was putting one of his front paws on the dashboard to keep his balance. What did he think? I was not going to send him through the windshield.

We went to Florida two summers in a row with him, and he loved it. He loved the swimming pool where he could retrieve his favorite ball in warm and clear water. He loved our walks on the beach, jumping into the Gulf waters. Jet loved water. He must have been a fish in another life. The first summer in Florida was so much fun for him. The second summer was not as fun. He was slowing down and was still enjoying the swimming pool but he left the Gulf alone that time. During our walks, sometimes he was looking at me with tired eyes, wanted to go back home, and I was just following him, whatever his body was telling him to do. He was my sweet boy.

His face got frosted so fast. He was black, and there is nothing more beautiful than a black face frosted with white hair.

My office was in the basement, and like many of my other labs, his idea of relaxing was to be under my desk on my feet. The issue started to be the stairway, and if he were upstairs while I was at my desk, he was going to the top of the stairs, and calling me to help him. He had so many different barks:

  • I want to come
  • I want a treat
  • I need to pee
  • Let’s go for a walk

He certainly communicated far more with me that my supposed boyfriend! LOL!

One time, it was before 9/11, and I was supposed to pick up the boyfriend from the airport. So, we went together, Jet and I, and were waiting for him in the terminal, sitting on a bench. A guy came to sit next to me and started a conversation. Jet was there with his big face on my lap, looking at the guy. Suddenly an awful reeking odor of spoiled rotten eggs with maybe a touch of musk surrounded us. The guy looked at me with disgust and ran away! I swear my darn dog was smiling like “That will teach him!”

The last Fall we had together, Jet started to get really fat, you know like the idea of I had of labs before knowing one. Something wrong with him. Xrays were done, and the vet wanted to do an exploratory surgery, and we went for it.

I still remember that morning. Jet was not too happy since he had no food, but we went together in my truck like old buddies, like always. He went to the vet office with a wagging tail. He always liked the place. I gave him a huge hug and there he went.

I was so antsy that day. Waiting for a call to give me an update on his condition, I decided to go to a local pet store to buy him a new bed. He would need to be very comfy after the surgery. I was on my way there when I received THE call. The vet told me that he had liver cancer with bleeding tumors, and nothing could be done. The only thing was to put him to sleep while he was still under the anesthesia. I remember the connection was not good, and right then in a minute, I had to let him go. Why the sky was still blue, the trees with glorious colors when my boy had just left this earth and crossed over the rainbow bridge?

That day, I went to see him before he became ashes. I caressed his beautiful face, his velvet ears, and I left, empty handed.

Later on, when I split with the boyfriend, he let me have his ashes for my kitchen furniture, a real small price to pay to keep my boy home. Jet is always the first one to move to a new home! He was my first lab, and he made me fall in love forever with that breed: the amazing, smart, loving, beautiful Labrador Retriever.