The middle child

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Ted is not your typical dachshund: he’s very easy going and quiet, outgoing with strangers, and happy to try to new things. But as a result, he’s not very demanding so he sometimes gets overlooked.

This morning I was about to leave the house with Ardie and Miri, I was dropping Ardie off at the groomers on my way to go shopping. Suddenly I realized this meant Ted would be home alone all day. In all of Ted’s 13+ years, he’d been alone – sans dog or human- exactly once. And he screamed and screeched so much my neighbors called me in alarm. So, I called the groomer and explained why I couldn’t bring Ardie in. She didn’t hesitate to suggest I bring Ted in as well, just to hang out and keep Ardie company too. So off we went! I figured at least Ted could get his talons nails clipped too.

When I picked the boys up a few hours later, not only were his nails clipped, but he’d been washed and deep-conditioned! “No charge for you,” gushed the groomer, “I just did it because I wanted to, he’s just so sweet!”

Sweet old Ted, he definitely deserved his special attention today.

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Tessa

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Today I said farewell to one of my oldest and dearest of friends, my dog Tessa. She was 17. I adopted her when she was four months old, and I was only 19. We saw each other through all of our ups and downs and milestones: college graduation, moving from Pittsburgh to Seattle, a few short-lived relationships that she didn’t approve of, to finally meeting and marrying the love of my life, who she did approve of. Even though these last few months were hard for her, she stuck around to meet my human daughter Miriam. 

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She was sweet (mostly just to me and her select few humans), loyal to a fault, terribly stubborn, and very clever. She wasn’t much for obedience training but learned the words most important to her. We couldn’t utter the word “pizza” or she’d sit herself in front of the door, ready to greet the delivery man.

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She was the best traveling companion because she never cared where we went, as long as she was with me. Together we saw the whole country; from the Jersey shore to Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean.

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She especially loved the beaches, where she could just run and run and run. But not go in the water, of course. Water is terrible when you’re a dachshund.

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She pretended to be cranky and annoyed at other dogs, and most humans too, but she loved her little pack. She was definitely the alpha female but fortunately Ted and Ardie were okay with that.

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She was a connoisseur of comfort, and was most likely to be found either in bed or on the couch, but always under a blanket. Or three.

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  She was also quite good at selfies, before selfies were even a thing. But most of all, for 17 years, she was mine and I was hers. Amy Sedaris puts it well: “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.”

And so today I knew it was time. I held her and whispered to her  that I loved her, and that it was okay to go now. I told her we would be okay, and thanked her for being the best, most loyal, sweetest and bravest  friend I’ve ever had. I only hope that somehow over the past 17 years I was able to repay her for everything she gave to me. She has left her little paw prints etched on my heart.

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Good night my sweet girl.

“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us,
 these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so
 many years of our own lives.”

 – John Galsworthy

 

Convalescent home: Status update

So the vet thinks Tessa had a back problem, maybe a disc injury. She did some manipulations to her and Tessa yelped when she tried to turn her nose to touch her ribs on the left, indicating she has some pain around her cervical vertebrae. I was actually kind of relieved to hear that…that’s something we can treat and allow to heal and she can recover from. When you have a 15-year-old dog, every time you take her to the vet you expect the worst: I’m always expecting to hear, “Sorry, she’s riddled with cancer, in terrible pain, prognosis is about 24 hours.” So now Tessa’s taking a pharmaceutical cocktail of pain meds and muscle relaxants, and on strict regimen of rest and no stairs while she heals. Although she seemed even worse yesterday morning, today she had some of her old pep back and was interested in eating breakfast and trotting around the yard a bit. She’s loving her heated bed and I bought her a raised food and water bowl, as well as lots more cans of tasty tuna/salmon/venison dog food varieties that she likes so much.

In other dog news, today I checked out a local coffee shop that allows dogs. I had been planning to meet my friend B and her twin babies at the dog park, but due to Slushmageddon 2012 over the past two days it was most likely a muddy quagmire. Turned out that we weren’t the only Seattle weenies with that idea: we ran into Jessica of AdventureWeiners and four other dachshunds! Unfortunately Ted was harassed by a small black dog (Ted is a breedist and can’t stand black dogs. It’s quite embarrassing). He lost his shit at this black dog and had to wait in the car. I was harassed by a small boy who demanded my potato chips and terrified Ardie (Ardie can’t stand small children, their unpredictable lurching movements and high-pitched squeals freak him the f*ck out). But other than that it seemed like a pretty cool place, I’m sure it’s not always so chaotic, so I’ll definitely go back.

And now for a completely unrelated shameless plug: check out my fiance’s podcast, where he and his buddy discuss cult movies, http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-cult-of-matt-and-mark/id492514351

Atomic Ranch Convalescent Home for Dachshunds

It’s been a rough week here at the Atomic Ranch…I’ve been playing nurse to dachshunds in various states of illness and recovery. Ted had major abdominal surgery on Friday, to remove bladder stones. Like the medical geek that I am, I asked to see the stones after they were removed. One of them was the size a marble, and when your bladder is the size of a large walnut that’s pretty darned big. Ted came home the same night, and he’s been a wonderful patient. He never lost his appetite, doesn’t really seem uncomfortable or in pain, and tolerates the Cone of Shame very well. It’s a foam “Comfy Cone” and Ted is just so sweet and simple that whatever happens to him he just accepts it his reality. His incision looks great, there are no external stitches for him to nibble on. On to the next patient…

Tessa woke up two mornings ago with weakness in her back legs, lethargy, and loss of appetite. She refused her breakfast and dinner although I eventually coaxed her to eat a few bites of some tasty canned food. Instead of trotting around the yard she just stepped gingerly and wouldn’t go up or down stairs. The next morning I gave her one of Ted’s pain pills and she ate some of her breakfast, seemed to get a little more pep back but was still moving slowly. I tried to get her an appointment with the vet but we happened to be in the throes of Snowmageddon 2012 so the vet office was closing ended up closing early that day. The vet advised to continue the pain pills and bring her on Friday.

And Ardie? Oh that little scamp…he’s just fine. Frolicking in the snow and driving us all a little bit crazy with his cabin fever. Check him out, mugging for the camera, over on our friends’ Chester and Gretel’s blog, You Did What With Your Wiener.