Monday, March 31, 2008

Meet Kenny, Another "Kirby Cousin"

We made a trip to the natural health pet store today to pick up some more Hawthorn Plus (supplement to help minimize side effects of Kirby's heartworm treatment). While we were there, a women came in with a little dachsund/terrier mix that looked a LOT like Kirby, only with a tad more dachsund blood -- very short legs and slightly longer ears. His name is Kenny and he's about a year old. He came from a shelter in Albany, Oregon.

I immediately thought of Kirby's dog park "cousin" Paco, who came from a shelter in Southern Oregon. Kirby came from a shelter in Northern California. Kenny's owner said she met someone who got a dog from a shelter at the Oregon Coast who looked exactly like Kenny and was about the same age.

Could there be a little, wire-haired, black-and-tan dachsund/terrier Romeo populating the West Coast?

Most likely there are many. I know the black-and-tan color markings are very common across multiple breeds and they often show up in mixed-breeds as well -- probably a very old gene in the canine gene pool.

In any case, little Kenny's tan markings are in all the same places as Kirby's and the dark part of his coat, while a little longer and softer than Kirby's, has the same mix of black and gray. His eyes have the same shape and the same dark intensity as Kirby's and that little black button of a nose is almost identical. And, of course, like Kirby at age one, Kenny wouldn't sit still long enough for me to snap a clear photo with my cell phone camera!

While I strongly believe all dogs should be spayed or neutered unless they are being shown and/or responsibly bred as part of a purebred breeding program, I still can't help but be charmed by the little "serendipity" dogs -- the black-and-tan happy accidents that charm us with their sweet, spunky little personalities and charming good looks.

Speaking of Paco, here's the latest from Cheryl down in Baja. He definitely has the shortest hair of the three...Kirby's a mix of the two. But those eyes and that face...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Moose are Back

I've been remiss in my mending. This past Christmas Kirby got a soft, little stuffed moose from my mom. It was adorable...tan with a pink tummy, pink antlers, pink nose and pink feet. It had a little squeaker in it's tummy. Kirby was thrilled. For the first 15 minutes or so he ran around the room showing it to everyone and squeaking it to his heart's delight. Then things got quiet. As we were all opening our Christmas gifts and eating cookies, Kirby was busy at work behind our feet. The next time I looked down, the little moose's pink tummy had been completely ripped open and Kirby was chewing on the squeaker. Little Moose lasted less than an hour. Other than the abdominal surgery, Little Moose was in perfect condition, so I stuffed him into a bag and decided I would sew him back up some day.

Baxter, meanwhile, had a big stuffed brown moose (aka "Moose-Bear") -- his favorite brand: Castor and Pollux. Baxter isn't one for squeaking, but whenever he gets a stuffed toy, he enjoys carrying it around, sleeping on it and occasionally ripping out a leg or nose. Of course, now that Kirby's around, Baxter seldom gets any time alone with a toy before Kirby zooms in and steals it. I'm not sure which dog was the culprit this last time, but Moose-Bear also managed to get eviscerated...but the squeaker remained. Moose-Bear went into the mend pile as well.

The mend pile lives in the laundry room, in a bag on top of a hamper. Every now and then I'll find Kirby sitting in the laundry room looking up at it and growling under his breath (it's as if he's willing it to come to him). Finally today I decided to get out the needle and thread and bring a couple of moose back to playing condition again. Little Moose got a tummy tuck...this time sans squeaker. Kirby seemed pleased, but a bit disheartened that no squeaking happened when he bit into the little pink belly. Oh well.

I mended Moose-Bear and handed it to Baxter. Bax got a good 3-4 minutes with it before Kirby realized Baxter had a toy and proceeded to steal it away. I tried to give Little Moose to Baxter, but he refused to even touch it.

I don't know why Baxter doesn't protect his toys...I'm not sure if he thinks Kirby is somehow superior to him or if he just figures it's not worth arguing over. In any case, Kirby is now napping with BOTH of the moose and, so far, their stitches are holding.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cheese Dogs

Both Baxter and Kirby are getting a bit more cheese lately. Now that we are administering pills and supplements as part of Kirby's treatment, we have hit upon the perfect way to get him to gobble them up...wrap 'em in cheese. He doesn't even bother chewing, the whole mini-cheese-ball goes down in one gulp, no questions asked. The cheese of choice? Tillamook sharp cheddar. It takes a bit of work to get it squishy enough, but it works like a charm.

While all the daily dosage attention is going to Kirby, Baxter stands in the background wearing his best hang-dog expression until he also gets a piece of cheese (sans pill, of course).

Now all I have to do is open the refrigerator door and take out ANYTHING wrapped in plastic. I immediately hear the scrambling of claws on the hardwood and within mere seconds there are two scruffy beggars at my feet.

I'm sure the cult of cheese will continue long after this episode of pill administration is over, and I'll never again open the fridge without four ears going up. Well, up as far as they go anyway.

Monday, March 17, 2008


For the past several nights Baxter and Kirby have been spooning as we sit and watch movies. Each time we haven't had a camera close by, so no visuals yet. Both my husband and I are charmed each time we see the two of them in this peaceful state, Kirby curled up in the warm arc of Baxter's much larger body, both sleeping. Kirby is finally calm enough to stay that way, not giving in to the temptation to chew on Baxter's legs or ears. And Baxter no longer gets up and walks away. The two have made peace. They're family now -- not just by our imposition of a new pack-mate, but by their own decisions to be at ease in each other's company.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

So far, so good!

Kirby seems to be doing well on his meds and herbs and his energy level is pretty much back to normal. As we anticipated, our biggest challenge is making sure he doesn't get overly excited or start jumping (one of his gleeful habits). Interestingly, I think he does sense an increased concern or urgency in our voices when we tell him to stop jumping. He's actually listening and stopping, for the most part, which is really, really helpful.

Baxter seems to sense that something is different. He has been different with Kirby -- sniffing him a lot, tolerating a little more cuddling, accepting when we're paying attention to Kirby. I was away working when my husband took Kirby to the vet on Tuesday, but he said that Baxter was just out of sorts during the hours Kirby was away. And Bax seemed genuinely happy when Kirby came home. Baxter has always been an extremely sensitive dog and I think he knows something is up, probably by the way we're treating Kirby and by whatever different smells and information Kirby is conveying.

The vet put Kirby on a low dose of prednisone to reduce inflammation and I think it is making him a little hungrier. He's now begging for food with much greater intensity and keeps going over to his empty bowl to lick it. Oh well, at least it's really easy to give him his pills -- wrap 'em in pieces of cheese and they go down in one fast gulp!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kirby's Home

Kirby went in this morning for his first heartworm treatment, which consists of a shot of an arsenic-based compound that kills the heartworm. The shot, which was given in his lower back, is painful, I'm told, based on the location. That seems pretty consistent with Kirby's reaction so far -- he keeps biting and licking at the injection site. The vet has him on prednisone for a while, I guess to reduce inflammation.

Other than the injection site irritation, Kirby is a bit low energy, but otherwise OK. He's on strict "no jumping" orders, and so far he hasn't even attempted to leave the ground. He's asleep under my desk.

Now we just wait and watch for any signs of difficult breathing or other reactions. As I've noted before, I'm told the most dangerous part of this is if a worm breaks off and goes through the blood stream it can cause a blockage somewhere. So let's hope those worms hang on until Kirby's body can eliminate them micro-bit by micro-bit.

So far so good.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tomorrow is Kirby's 1st Treatment

Ok, I'm getting nervous. Tomorrow Kirby goes in for the first of two shots of his heartworm treatment. He's happy and playful as ever today. I'm just doing my best to not think about it. I know he needs lots of positive energy throughout this process and my being nervous won't help. That's not enough to keep the thoughts from running through my mind, however.

The good news is that a veterinarian I know who treated a LOT of heartworm-positive Katrina rescue dogs says she's had great results. She gave us suggestions for some supplements we could give Kirby to help reduce side effects of the treatment. When I went to the pet store to get one of them the gal there said she worked for years as a vet tech and never saw a bad reaction to the treatment.

So I'm hanging my hopes on those positive experiences. The vets in our area don't have much occasion to treat heartworm because it is not common here. But Kirby's vet worked in the Midwest for a number of years, where he did treat a number of cases, so I believe Kirby is in good hands.

Kirby's all bathed and smelling sweet. Today he gets his nail trim (we figured we'd better get the stressful things out of the way before the treatment, because we're supposed to keep him as calm as possible after the treatment). And he's thoroughly enjoying the tug toy we got him last week.

The great thing about dogs is they don't worry the way we humans do. Kirby's positive attitude will carry him through this. I have to believe that. And any of you who read my blog, please send positive thoughts and prayers to Kirby tomorrow and the coming days.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Store Dogs

I met a couple of great store dogs today. I love going into stores and seeing dogs milling about. It immediately puts me at ease and, honestly, it makes me want to give them my business. The first store was a fairly high end furniture store with a black lab curled up on a nice cushion. He looked up with his big brown eyes and when I scratched him under the chin, he rested the weight of his entire head in my hand, just the way Baxter does. I would have loved to give that store some business, but the sectional sofa I admired was about twice as much as I wanted to pay. Still, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd probably go buy that sofa from that store.

Next was a beautiful, black dog with long silky hair, this time at a pet store (yes, one would expect to find a dog walking around a pet store). I guessed him to be a Flat-Coated Retriever until he stood up and looked at me with big, droopy, soulful eyes. Big guy. I guessed Newfoundland/black lab. The woman working there said he was a stray, found wandering around the East side of town. They picked him up at the shelter. Breed-wise they had guessed the same thing. In any case, you couldn't find a sweeter, calmer dog. Who could leave a dog like that behind?

Baxter would make a wonderful store dog. I could just see him padding around and napping all day long, occasionally walking up to a shopper to sweetly say hello.