15 March, 2010

Are we already 3 years out?

I have a habit of thinking about everything that's happened not too too long ago as having taken place 'a couple of years ago'. The Summer of the Stray and Feral Puppies is already close to three years ago; which makes Dashie and Dottie maybe 4 years old already. I can't hardly believe it!

Here is a picture testifying to the fact that now Dash and Dot regularly come into the house, and that they're (of course) friends with Gator. In fact, they get along well with all the dogs - apart from one anomalous multi-dog melee that broke out after dinner a few weeks ago.

How are they doing with us? Honestly, there hasn't been a huge amount of progress there. They have their good and bad days; on the best of their days they are still completely unwilling to be put on a leash. It's a rodeo to do that, and we're still doing it only when we need to (mistake, I know!) to get them to the vet or some such thing. Once they're on the leash, they walk with us very well. Usually, but not always, they ride in the car without panicking too much. And they let the vet do whatever he/she wants to them. They really let any human do whatever we want to them if they can't escape. But if they can escape, that's still their first choice.

They have since the last post eaten kibble only out of our hands, and they've had to come in the house and down to the living room to do that. Twice a day, every day. Both tested positive for Valley Fever last year (Dottie presented with terrifying seizures and a near-death experience; Dashie with a sudden onset of horrible joint pain); and both are still taking VF meds twice per day. We have a month or so to go before the next re-test - and are hoping against hope that they will finally be able to quit those meds. Since they're both frightened of people, it's been difficult or impossible for us to be away from the house for more than 12 hours at a time. It's not like you can just hire someone to pet-sit with these guys - and missing doses of VF medicine is dangerous both in the short and the long term. So.

In spite of all the trouble and worry, I can't imagine two more engaging and lovable dogs then Dashie and Dottie are. They are just so darned *interesting* to watch, as they really don't react to things the way normal dogs do. It's almost like the experience of missing their critical period for socialization for humans gave them 1/2 horse psychology mixed in with their canis lupis familiaris brains. They 'spook' in a way that's very similar to how horses spook at new sights and sounds. And their preferred response to stress is flight - not aggression (thankfully). And you can tell that they are genuinely confused by us too. I think they find us lovable and terrifying, in roughly equal parts.

Our other pups? Zero and Sally are going on 10 years old, shockingly. Sally has begun to have intermittent very scary bouts of gastritis/pancreatitis/hepatitis; she now has among the best-studied GI tracts of any dog in the world (our depleted savings accounts are testament to this). What's wrong? Her belly is full of adhesions, making all of her organs be in slightly wrong positions with respect to each other...thus making her more susceptable to infections caused by bugs from one part of the gut getting into a different part of it. Managing her condition is an exercise in managing my anxiety as much as anything else. She takes a pharmacopia of drugs and nutraceuticals to help prevent flare-ups; but even with that she sometimes gets sick, and sometimes it's very very bad sickness. Sometimes it's not. No way to predict, nothing really to be done except watch and wait. Zero's ears are perpetually bothersome - he's on maintenance doses of prednisone, benadryl, ear cleaning and a topical antibiotic...but we just can't seem to get him completely free of ear-itchiness. Poor dude. Soon he'll be due for his vaccinations again, so we'll consult with the vet some more. Chewie our kittie died a couple of months ago - no sickness, no warning, just passed away one evening. He was at least 17.

Roxie and Haku are settled in as long-term guests at our house. Every morning they go to their Auntie Josephine's house down the way and get some breakfast; and then they wander back to our place to hang out and get some dinner. Haku's got to be at least 11 years old now - and he seems to be in good health. Just getting slightly rickety-er as time goes by. He has begun to let me pet him on a semi-regular basis, which is very fulfilling. Roxie is her typical bubbly, adorable self. They both seem wonderfully happy with their lives - and I'm still trying to ride the wave that comes along with having long term itinerant dogs living on our property. I love them, but I so wish I could get them sorted out so that we weren't vulnerable to animal control or any of the perils of the great big world out there.

And then there's Gator. He's as perfect as he's always been. Everyone's best friend, nobody's problem. What would we do if it weren't for Gator? He's totally unproblematic, and 100% lovable. We are very, very lucky!