Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Setting Goals

I'm setting goals for Champ and myself.  I would really like to get to the finals, if not next year, the year after that.  Champ will be three years old the end of this year.  Anyway, I'm going to do my very best to try to make it happen.  I have qualified nursery dogs in the past and this year I had at least 6 qualifying scores on Champ at some big trials.  But, it just wasn't in the stars for us.

I was blessed when I moved here to have have a five acre farm to work my dogs at Patricia Pedersen's home.  It is the same distance I used to drive to Task Farms in Leona Valley, Ca.  It takes me about 15 min.  She has 18 sheep of every variety.  Plus, her place is like working on a golf course because she has irrigation.

I am in no way ready to consider getting sheep for our place here in Happy Valley.  I have had enough on my plate with getting the house finished, the forest behind the house excavated, Champ with Lepto, and Jet on the way out.  It seems it has been one calamity after another since I have arrived. It always makes me laugh when someone asks me, "When are you getting livestock?"

But, do I love it here in Sequim?  You bet I do.  We never had a temperature hit 90 degrees all summer here in Sequim.  I think we had two days at 87 degrees.  I'll wait until Spring to tell you what I thought of the winter :0)

I have joined the Washington Stockdog Club and the Oregon Stockdog club.  The Washington website is the best sheepdog website I have ever had the pleasure of viewing.  Every thing you could possibly want is on that web site!

I have been working Champ 2-3 times a week over at Patricia's.  He is coming along fairly well.  He's a team player that would work ALL day if given the chance.  There is NO quit in the dog.  I am now broadening our horizons by looking for someone to give me lessons with him.  Plus, I'm looking for other places to get him to for experience.  We need different fields, different sheep.

I was pleased how he performed at Lacamas, Vashon, and Fidos.  But, we can do better :0)  I just need another pair of eyes to give me a bit of direction with Champ.  I think he will be able to move up to open this year.  That's not really pushing him, because he really enjoys shedding.  Outruns are no particular problem for him.  We just need work on pace and driving.  Most of our problems I'm sure stem from me.

I have been working with him on shedding a large flock, a couple of sheep (then have him walk them off) a couple of more sheep (and, I might run them off while leaving him to watch the bigger group) and a couple of more until we get down to one or two sheep left.  He still needs a bit more finesse and a harder hold when challenged, but I am very pleased he enjoys shedding so much.  We are getting a little system down.

The other thing I like about Champ is that I TRUST him.  He just doesn't do stupid stuff.  (Oh Yoko…did you hear that?)  Yoko keeps me humble.  Champ can go nose to nose if he needs to, he can bite a nose if challenged and he has a lovely low heel bite when needed in crowded pens or loading sheep.  I never had to teach him.  It was just natural to him.

Not too many upcoming trials on our plate other than a few one dayers at Fidos, but we are going to the Fire Ridge trial in mid October some 6 1/2 hours away because I was told it was a difficult pro-novice course, plus he will get to run three times.  The more difficult, the better I like it :0)

So, I will see if I can line up some lessons and keep my eyes looking forward. Enjoying life to the fullest.  Might as well.  You never know when your time is up!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Jet just walked the whole property with me.  His tummy felt tight, so I figured walk him like a horse who is colicky.  He actually kept a steady pace and beat me up the hill!  But, each day is and up and down battle with him.  One moment I'm sure he has had enough and the next moment he is looking at me with longing eyes and wagging his tail.  I may have to write a book called, "The dog that refused to die."  All said with tongue and cheek, but it's taking it's toll on both of us.

This is Jet this evening.  I make him take a nightly walk.  I put tread on the front and back stairs for him and it will good for us in the rainy, icy season.

I, also, put heavy rubber mats down out the back door.  This is the door the dogs use and they use the porch as a take off ramp.  Instead of them tearing up the porch, they now can peel out on the rubber.  It will also be good for 'us' this winter.

My kennels are finished, 3 out of 4. They have roofs and sidings up for inclement weather, but still able to let the breeze blow through on humid summer days.  Each has red pavers for their floors now.  Nicer than rocks, can't dig, and easy to clean if need be.  Jet has his own kennel.  Yoko and Champ do well together.  I have another large kennel by the garden side of the house.  I may need to rearrange kennel mates when Kilt and Trouble come for Christmas :0)

My handyman, Dave, helped me with the kennels :0)  All with roofs, but just enough siding to keep dry, but let the breeze blow through in the summer.

I have chosen the carpet I want.  I went with a heavy traffic, low pile, rusty color versus looking at many tri colored commercial varieties.  I might as well have a little plush before I croak.  Our carpet in SoCal is commercial.  Of course, it has lasted 30 years and still looks great.  Hopefully, I will have no regrets :0)

Bathroom tile is on backorder.  I have chosen a neutral color for the carport which I will order next week.  I need a carport to keep my RV under.  I just love my 2002 RV van and want it covered.  I ordered the carport today in a neutral pebblestone color with evergreen trim to match the house.  It will be 18 feet by 21 feet.  It won't be here for 6 weeks (of course).

The carport should match the cream color of the house with an evergreen trim

And, this is where the carport is going.  I still need a few more lava rocks in the west corner and i plan on putting in 3 timber landscape 8 foot long steps from the carport up to the house.  Ugh…another project.

There they are….waiting for me :0(

Look closely and you can see my red truck.  I now park it above the house and walk down to the front door instead of very steeply UP to the front door.  I love it back there.  It is like having my own meditative forest.  Actually, we now have 3 driveways.  Kind of like we did in Green Valley.

Champ pops up in the damnedest places.  He is not supposed to be in my garden.  But, he is so damn cute, I took his picture :)

As long as I can divert anymore disasters, things are on the upswing.
 I'm amazed I have survived these 3 1/2 months as well as I have.  Where's there's a will, there's a way. That's what my grandmother always said. The good thing I have going for me is that I have never suffered from depression.  I usually am quite able to pick myself up and dust myself off.  Hopefully all of my projects at this moment and time will be finished by Thanksgiving.  Thanks for stopping by :0)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Delicate Balance

I think Carol Wiggins may be right (I hope so)  Maybe the grave I had the excavator dig for Jet will become a Koi pond this winter!

Thus far, Jet looks good.  Now I'm having a bit of a problem with bloody diarrhea.  Normally, he is constipated, always has had IBS with straining, but after I found him in a pool of urine and unable to walk that night a week ago I noticed he had soft stools with frank blood.

Then, when the Sequim Vet said his time was over, I promptly decided to try him on steroids (even though I was aware of the small amount of blood in his stools)  His response was excellent.  He was comfortable with the Fentanyl patch, but wobbly on his otherwise, normally, very strong rear end.

So, now I took the pain patch off, stopped the steroids since he has developed tarry looking diarrhea :0(
I kept him on Pepcid along with the steroids in hopes to protect his tummy.  Oh well.  Best laid plans…Today I have started him on Carafate to coat the lining of his stomach and see if we can get the diarrhea to stop.

Today he is stronger, almost frisky, even with the diarrhea, and is hungry.  He even walked our hill with little difficulty.  The other day on the pain patch he fell over backwards on his stairs to our bed, landed in his water dish, and hurt himself.  I removed the stairs, so he can't even attempt to get back on the bed.  With a little rest, he was fine again.

I have him on chicken, beef liver, yogurt, and white rice.  I already have an Rx for Flagyl in case I need him on an antibiotic for inflammatory bowel along with the Carafate to coat his tummy.  I'll give him a day or so without the antibiotics and see how he does.

His sclera is white (no jaundice).  His tummy is still bit tight, and I can tell he is anemic from his gums.  I have not done any labs much to the dismay of one of my Vet friends.  This is my thinking.  So, if he is in renal failure, I'm not doing dialysis.  If he has cancer, I'm not doing chemo or radiation.  I'm not putting him through any exploratory surgeries at his age.  He has had no vomiting, no temperature through all of this, so who knows what is going on.  My best guess is cancer with metastasis.  That's a three decade critical care nurse surmising.

Thank-you to the many supportive close friends who have put their heads together with me to try to figure out this delicate balance to give Jet more time. I do know this….He isn't ready to toss in the towel YET.

Me neither.

It ain't over till it's over

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The beat goes on...

I decided to take Jet to the Marina, a few minutes away.  Just me and him and the water.  It was a beautiful day.  We both love the water.  I didn't want to pick him up for fear of hurting his already tender, tight belly, so I assisted him in using the dog ramp to get in and out of the truck.
We were just sitting there looking out over the water when a lady interrupted our thoughts asking if she could use my camera to take some pictures of us.  It was then that I turned around seeing a small group of people behind us.  They were watching me sitting at the waters edge talking and petting my dog.

As soon as I gave the camera to the lady, Jet came alive.  He immediately got back that twinkle in his eye and started performing….. paws over his nose, crossing his paws, etc.
My friend, Patricia put it best….Jet is just like an old actor.  You wheel him out onto the stage.  He sees an audience and it's showtime.  Afterwards, you wheel him off the stage.  LOL  Pretty much.
It was like all these strangers to us knew there was a story behind our partnership.  I shared a little of it with them.  One man said, "He doesn't look sick.  He is gorgeous."  I admit he is pretty comfortable with his fentanyl patch.  But, even though we were a short distance from the truck, he got a bit wobbly on the way back.  I ended up carrying him the last 100 feet.

 I think this is my favorite photo.  I can see the "twinkle" in his eyes.  Even though he is slowing down and has lost a bit of weight, he is not ready to go.  I am so dang happy I thought to try steroids with him.  If I hadn't started him on Dexamethasone followed by prednisone, he might not be here today.  Sometimes being a nurse is a good thing :0)  I have bought Jet some time.  I'm not sure how long, but even though his appetite is 1/4 of what it should be, he is wagging and watching my every move like he has done all of his life.  He is eating liver and chicken.  He isn't jaundiced, so I think his liver is still working.  I just fear he has cancer that is eating away at his body.  I don't want any surgery or diagnostics.  I already know he is anemic from the color of his gums.  I know he has fluid in his abdomen.  I know he is slowing down and getting weaker.  But, as long as he can get outside to do his business and has a wagging tail, I will respect his will to live.

We have traveled an interesting road, my friend and I
It's not over yet :)