,

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.

, ,

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.

,

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!

,

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.

Who Would Not Want To Communicate With Their Deceased Pet?

deceasedIt did not happen in one day. I did not get up one morning, and thought: Today, I want to talk to my deceased furry kid!

All my furry kids who crossed over the rainbow bridge are in peace. I know it, I can feel it. Sometimes I feel their presence for some short seconds surrounding me, and that’s enough for me. Zeus was the only one who did more than that: He barked at me from the other side, and I wrote about it some time ago. (www.zeuscorner.com/dominique/i-do-believe-that-somewhere-there-is-a-bridge-over-the-rainbow/) But it was Zeus, the love of my life!

Don’t get me wrong. I shed tears now and then when suddenly the memory of one of them overwhelms me, hey I am just human!

Then there was George. George died in traumatic circumstances a year ago last September at the age of 3. He was my clingy one. He was my furever kid except that the furever thing lasted 3 years, 5 months and 14 days.

After he passed, I was in such pain that I really did not think about him being in peace. I was just missing my boy. Then, little by little, I settled into a life without George. With his first death anniversary coming, I just realized that I never, ever had any special moment coming from him. I started wondering if he were in peace, or if there was anything I could do to make him being in peace. Yes, you can call me crazy if you want! I don’t mind.

I started thinking about animal communicators. My only experience with one was not good, but I know that out there, there are real ones. It’s just tough to find the one. I started asking friends about it, and I got a name. Too bad, she was in sabbatical year, and was only treating emergencies. Another one who was recommended by another friend never contacted me despite of some emails. Funny thing, one day, because of Zeus Corner, I was contacted by an animal communicator who sent me an email saying that someone wanted to talk to me from the other side. I, immediately, thought it had to be George!

At the time scheduled for our conversation, with my heart beating at 500 beats a minute, I answered my phone. She asked a few questions. My concern was George. Was he in peace or was he running around tortured and could I do something about it if it were the case? Apparently, it was not the right question. I was not getting it right, and then she started talking, talking, talking and talking. George was barely mentioned… Hello? I want to talk to my boy! Isn’t it what it was all about? But no, she went on talking, and to tell you the truth, she gave me a bad headache. I did not want to hurt her feelings. I just put the phone on speaker, and heard her voice speaking at 100 miles an hour while I was taking 3 Advil. Why 3? One doesn’t work for me, 2 might, but 3 definitely will, so why take chances?

She talked for an hour, barely stopping for breathing. I tried to interrupt her a few times unsuccessfully. Was it a recording? She kept repeating the same thing over, and over again, but it had nothing to do with my dog. She did drain me. I give you that! When I hung up, I felt relieved. She wanted to have a deal on Zeuscorner, but I did not follow up with it. I just could not.

Years ago, my oldest daughter lost a dog, Lorelei, in tragic circumstances. Her collar broke; she crossed a road, got hit by a car, and was put to sleep at the emergency. She was only 6 months old.

Later on, Deborah told me that she was talking with Lorelei through an animal communicator, and that, at one point, she was going to be reincarnated and the animal communicator will tell her which breeder to go to in order to have a girl back. She had to call every week to make sure Lorelei knew that she loved her. My daughter was young, in college, and she was paying $ 120.00 for each session. I talked with Deborah about it, and she broke my heart when she told me “Mom, I know that most likely it’s not true, but if there is only 1 chance out of 100 that it’s really Lorelei who communicates with me, I just can’t let her down.”

We agreed on one thing. I was going to call that lady and see what would be coming out of our conversation. I called, was immediately charged $ 120.00 with the assurance that if she could not locate my dog, I would get a refund. Fair.

I asked to talk to my shepherd Douchka who died a few years before. She asked me why now? And my answer was: “why not?” She told me that my dog might have been already reincarnated but she was going to try. I described Douchka: black, tan with some white. I did not mention though that Douchka was a long hair German shepherd.

Then, she started talking, saying that she was seeing a big dog coming towards her. She asked me if Douchka had a big bark. Duh…. What do you think lady? We are talking about a 100 lbs. dog! Then, I heard her asking someone: “Are you Douchka? Dominique wants to talk to you.” She, then, came back to me and told me that Douchka agreed to talk to me. I told her that I needed to be sure that it was my dog she was talking to, and I asked her to describe her. She became kind of defensive, and told me she was facing a German shepherd black, tan with some white and straight ears. I asked her how her hair was. Short? She snapped at me that of course her hair was very short. It was a German shepherd we were talking about! I kind of lost it right there, so angry that someone could play with others’ feelings, raw feelings to make a few bucks, ok, more than a few bucks. I could never stand people who are taking advantage of others. To make a long story short, she issued me a refund as well as for my daughter’s prior sessions. A few months later, her website disappeared from the WWW. Good riddance.

It did not help my daughter though who was so tortured by the death of Lorelei, feeling I guess a bit guilty about the collar which broke. Suddenly I had a thought. I had a very good friend, Joe, who some years ago told me the story of his lab and his daughter. His lab was getting old with arthritis and all the bad stuff which happens with age, and one evening, his daughter came to see him and told him that Samantha, their lab, wanted to go, but she was staying alive because of him, because she was scared he was not ready to let her go. Joe who is a no BS guy looked at his 12 year old daughter, and the concern in her eyes, and agreed to do something. The same evening, he sat down with Samantha, stroked her ears, looked at her eyes, and told her that she had been the best companion ever, and if it was her time to go, he will be fine. The next morning, he got up, and Samantha was in her bed, but her soul was gone. She had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge that night.

Joe’s daughter moved some years ago to Colorado where she became an animal communicator, and worked mostly with horses. Deborah called her, and got at last peace. She was told that Lorelei was in peace, and that a very tiny red dog was around her. A few years before, Deborah had a small dog Foxy, that we found tied up to a pole in the middle of winter and who lived his last few years with us. If that little feisty guy was around, then Deborah knew that her girl was going to be fine, and Deborah got finally some closure and moved on. It was just an additional paw print engraved in her heart.

Please do not ask me the name of that lady or a phone number. Don’t you think that if I still had them I would have called another animal communicator? Joe died some years ago, and I just lost his daughter’s information at one point in my life.

Yes, there are animal communicators out there. Some are real, and some are there for the quick bucks. No, I will not try anymore to communicate with my boy through anyone. He has to be with all my other furry kids, somewhere over the rainbow, and maybe one day, when I least expect it, I will be able to feel a piece of George’s spirit surrounding me, or maybe not….

I Do Believe That Somewhere There Is A Bridge Over The Rainbow

I was not sure what to believe when they take their last breath in my arms. I wanted to believe that they have to be pain free somewhere, and I kind of liked the over the rainbow thing. Sometimes, I feel their presence, sometimes. Sometimes, they come to my dreams. I remember 7 years ago when our little one, Foxy, had a traumatic death, how upset I was. A few nights later, he visited me in my dreams, in a vivid one, running in the front yard where the grass was so green, and rolling on this back, and I knew he was ok.

Sometimes, it’s like a feeling that one or the other is there. I don’t need an animal communicator. I just know they are around.

It became even more obvious in 2010. Zeus died on August 27, 2009. Until almost his death, we were going every Thursday at 10:00 am to get Reiki in Great Falls with a great lady, Ingrid. I swear the darn dog knew when it was Thursday, and he was waiting by the front door each time!

The night after Zeus died we got an incredible thunderstorm, weird thing since he was so afraid of them. We went on, no matter what even though, despite of my other dogs, the house was different, silent, and yes as I said in Zeus’s tory, my shadow today is still lost without his.

A few months after Zeus’ passing, Pouch, our Golden retriever, our Gentledog, was diagnosed with Lymphocytic Leukemia, and later on, I thought that maybe Reiki will give him more energy. Amazingly, we had an appointment with Ingrid on Zeus’ day at the same time. I went there with Jessica, my youngest daughter.

First time I was going back there and it was a bitter sweet visit. We left the place, Jessica was on her IPod, and while she was picking up song, I heard a bark. I asked Jessica how she made her IPod barked, and she looked at me like I was crazy. At the same time, we heard another bark, and Pouch heard it too, and stood up. Jessica screamed at me to stop that I must have run over a dog. The barks were coming from the car, but at the same time, they sounded far away. Of course, when I checked the car, there was no dog stuck anywhere. I went back to my car, and while driving away from the Reiki place, there were more barks while I was crying like a baby, and the barking stopped maybe a mile, a mile and half away from there. Yes, it was Zeus, it was his bark. We shared so many Thursdays together over there. It was our special time together, and I hope – but it has to be that – he just wanted to cheer me up.

I did not dream it. I had four and two legged ones as witnesses! The thing is I was not expecting any sign from him. I was just sad. Was he barking for me or for Pouch? Selfishly, I want to believe that it was for me, and that it was to tell me he was still around. It has to be that, what else could it be?

And the poem below is one of my favorite ones:

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, you found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”
I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the milk
You were thinking of the many times your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at my grave today, you tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said, “It’s me.”
You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair
I tried so hard to let you know that I was standing there.
“”It’s possible for me to be so near you every day
To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.””
You sat there very quietly, then smiled; I think you knew…
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.
The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning
And say “good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out… then come home to be with me.
~Author Unknown~

The Right Veterinarian?

Some years ago, Zeus had a TPLO surgery on one of his back knee (rupture of the cruciate ligament) and my pup had a plaque with six screws. He would never have passed anymore the security check at any airport! I had a great surgeon. But he “forgot” to tell me was that most likely the second knee will give up at one point too, most likely within a year from the first surgery.

One day, I was walking Zeus, and he suddenly collapsed, and did not want to move anymore. Of course, I was at least a mile away from my truck and the C& O Canal was desert that morning. Amazing what you can do when you have no choice. I carried my boy all the way to the truck. You know it’s always when you need help that you can’t get any. My cell had no connection. Anyway, we made it to my vet who was not there but his colleague was. As soon as he took an X-ray, he came back with the appropriate expression on his face, telling me: Sorry, Dominique, Zeus has bone cancer!” And that was it. Adding “that there was not much to do” and wishing me good luck! Immediately, I got an appointment from another vet for a second opinion. Zeus was the gentlest dog I had ever had. As soon as the vet came to the exam room, Zeus started growling. Zeus never growled in his life! The vet told me that he would have to put a muzzle on him. I stood up, and told him that was not going to be necessary, that my dog knew something about him that I was not aware of, and I left.

As a matter of fact, Zeus did not have cancer, but just had the other cruciate ligament torn, and had the second TPLO surgery.

My point in telling you this story: trust your animal first!

HOW TO LOOK FOR A VETERINARIAN?

If you are not happy with your veterinarian, or if you just move to a new area, one of the best ways to find a good veterinarian is to go to emergency hospitals – locally owned – not the ones owned by big chains! They know the local vets, and they would tell you where to go.

You can also ask friends, groomers, dog walkers, but I would go first with the emergency places.

I am not really keen of reviews online since the vets can remove the reviews they don’t like. I once wrote a review about a local vet saying that I would not even let him take care of a mouse! The review was gone in no time.

You have now a list of veterinarians to choose from, and now – exactly like when you chose a boarding place for your pet – go and meet with them!

They cannot refuse to give you a tour of their facilities. Here are a few tips on what to look for:

  • Is the facility clean? Well managed?
  • How many veterinarians do they have?
  • Can they take your pet the same day in case of an emergency?
  • How is the staff? If animals are around, look how they are handled, how professional are caring the staff is.
  • Ask what kind of equipment they have? (XRays, EKG, ultrasound? Blood work? Etc..)
  • Do they do some “in house” tests or do they send everything out?
  • Do they give any discount for multiple pets (Look who is talking! LOL)
  • If it’s a one vet practice, ask what happens during vacation time and where he refers his clients.
  • How do they deal with pain management.
  • Do they offer monitored overnights stays, in case of illnesses or where to they refer you to.

Once, you did that, you might still have more than one veterinarian that you like. The next step would be to make an appointment to introduce your furry kid, and see how he or she interacts with your animal. Trust your animal too, especially if he or she is as easy going as Zeus was.

Veterinarians are just human beings. They are no Gods there, and they just don’t know every thing. That’s why specialists are there. I always make sure that my vet understands that I do not expect him to know everything, but I do expect him to tell me when he doesn’t know, and then I go to an internist or a specialist. This is really important. You are putting your pet in the hands of someone you need to trust and trust their ability to make you take the right decisions.

HOW TO BE A RESPONSIBLE PET OWNER AND CLIENT

As a pet owner, you have the responsibility to take your pet for their annual checkup, not only when they are sick.

If you have an emergency during business hours, always call to make sure you can bring your pet. Do not take it for granted. If they can’t see you, ask them to refer you to an emergency place.

When you are at the vet, make sure you keep your cat crated and your dog on a leash. There is nothing more annoying than dogs having too much space in the waiting room and being too nosy around other pets waiting too.

Keep copies of all their records. If you ever need to take your pet to an emergency on a weekend, you will have their history with you, because our furry kids sure don’t read the memo saying “no emergencies at night or on weekends.”

Always watch out for any change in their behavior, or gain of weight or any sudden change.

Do not expect your vet to give you a diagnosis over the phone. And if you have an emergency, go to an emergency or to your vet, but do not start posting on the net: “My dog face is swollen, what should I do?” I just saw that one recently on a board.

HOW TO BREAK UP WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN

This is such a hard decision to take since your vet is the memory of your pet’s life. It’s never fun to start all over again. Believe me on that one. I had to do it more than once.

If you are not satisfied about a specific issue or billing, communication is a must. Try to resolve it instead of just leaving.

If it’s something which interferes with the well-being of your animal, then go! And just go back to the top of my post!

BE A RESPONSIBLE PET PARENT

Do not be afraid to ask questions to your vet, and if you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to say it!

No matter who your vet is, when there is a big issue, I will always go for a second opinion.

When your pet is diagnosed with a specific illness, do some research on the net. No vet will ever have time to educate you on a specific disease in a few minutes. The more you know about it, the better your chances are to fight the disease that illness, and to be able to understand what is happening to your pet.

Learn about “stuff” that your vet won’t have time to educate you about. That’s when the internet and Zeus Corner come!

Research specific topics like illnesses common in our area: Lyme to name one. Learn the history of Lyme, how it happens, why. This is a touchy subject for me since I lost one of my dogs to Lyme Nephritis last year. I did not do my homework; I thought my dog was protected, when, as a matter of fact, he was not.

Food is a big issue too, and it will be another topic for my blog soon. Do not expect too much from your vet in the 15 minutes that he will spend with your pet.

Keep yourself informed of the new drugs, the new discoveries in veterinary medicine, the new treatments, and read my blog! Read our vet, Leslie’s blog, and stay aware of your pet behavior. They cannot talk but they have a way to show when something is wrong. 

READ THE NOTICES FOR ANY MEDS YOU GIVE TO YOUR ANIMAL.

I know it’s silly but it took me several years to realize for instance that “Heartguard” needs to be chewed. You can forget about it when you have labs! They swallow; chewing is not in their vocabulary, so I have to crush it in order to be effective.

Not long ago, I was ready a notice for a tick and flea repellent, and most people, including me, would have believed that the repellent lasts for a month, but for that specific one, if you read the small letters, it says that it keeps fleas away for a month, but ticks away for only two weeks.

Always ask your vet for a specific med that you have to administer to your pet if it’s needs to be chewed. For instance, when they have a stomach ache, so many times I gave them a Pepcid. But if the Pepcid you have are chewable tablets, it will not help at all if your pet swallows it without crushing it.

Our furry kids entrust us with their lives, and the least we can do is to give us the best shot at a healthy life. My little one, Sammie, might not see it that way as I type this, since he just had surgery, and has to wear an E-Collar. But yes, buddy, this is the best I can do for you right now!

YES, You Are My Furever Kids

This morning, I went to my vet to pick up something, and I saw that beautiful older Golden retriever lose, at the door, waiting for his mom or dad. I came in, and he came straight to me. Older dogs look so wise. He had a big bandage on his leg. I scratched his ears, and you know Goldens, they are such gentle souls.

He went back by the door, waiting, and I learned that he was dropped off to be put to sleep. He had cancer, and I am not discussing the fact that it might have been his time to go. To go? Yes, but alone? No matter how caring and gentle the vet and the vet techs are, he wanted his mom to be there. He got a last cookie, and was lead to the exam room while he was trying to go to the opposite direction. You know what? It just broke my heart. For the last page of his life, he had to be alone, so no, he was not a furever kid.

People suck, and I went home and hugged my pack, telling them, that yes, they were my forever kids. It’s never easy to say goodbye, I know that but there are indeed our kids, and they trust us with their lives. How could anyone abandon one for the last page of his life?

His face haunted me for the remaining of the day, so, I do think he deserves a tribute. Gentle soul leaving this earth alone.

A lot of people have a tendency to make some alterations to the meaning: forever.

Curious, I looked into the dictionary:

Forever: for all time in the future, or for as long as you can imagine. So I guess that Gentledog owner did not read the memo.

Please do not take a furry kid, if you cannot be there for him or her until the last minute.

Hey, if you decide to make a baby, most likely, you know that it is for life. Being a parent never stops, and no matter what, I will still worry about my girls even if they are in their 60’s and if I am still around. Parents are there to protect them, to be there in time of needs, to be there when then need you.

It should be like a quiz and if you can’t say yes to all the statements, then please do not adopt a furry kid. You are not ready. Maybe one day, you will be but not now.

A furever kid is not:

  • Until you get a boyfriend or a girlfriend,
  • Because you need someone to love you until better,
  • Until you have your own kids,
  • For Xmas, Hanukah, Winter solstice, birthday or any other holiday,
  • A gift.

How many times in your life can you say you get from someone unconditional love?

There are no good excuses not to go forever, and I have to acknowledge that I am sick and tired of hearing:

  • Getting a divorce,
  • The place where I am moving doesn’t accept dogs (yeah, so? Find a place which takes dogs!)
  • My boyfriend or girlfriend is allergic….

This is a lifetime contract that you are taking, and no way out. If you can’t sign that contract, please do not take an animal. It’s just not fair.

I know that “until death do us part” is not really working anymore in humans, but we are talking furry kids here, and furry kids are FOREVER!

When you are a parent, for a kid, a dog, a cat, or any living being, you stay with them until the last minute, because you see, they trust you, you are the “fixer” for them, and it just means that when it’s time for your dog – as an example – to go, even if it’s painful, even if you are going to cry your heart out, you still go to that darn room with your dog, and you stay with him until his last breath, because that’s what you do when you love someone!

I just thought that that gentle Golden needed to have his last words heard before he crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and it was: “where are you? I am scared? Where are you?”