The greatest honor of a dog owner is to be able to see their dog grow old. My dogs are officially ALL seniors and I take a lot of pride in that. Although they are no longer the little pups I nurtured, they still have loads of love to give and I in return will never get enough of it. Life is good.
This is Scrappy. He passed away june of 2014 and lived to the beautiful age of 16 years old. He is the first dog of my pack and it was an honor to grow up with him for more than half of my 26 years of life. I am forever grateful for Scrappy because I learned so much about responsibility at a very young age – I wish all kids could grow up with dogs. He enjoyed walking and playing ball. This dog could play fetch for hours!
Although he had his share of health problems that did not stop him from living. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, arthritis, and a heart arrhythmia. He was put on diuretics for about half of his life. Scrappy ate very well with a prescription diet called H/D with fish oil, glucosamine, and vitamins. Despite his conditions he was always ready to go out for walks and play ball. I usually ended up carrying him on our walks so he could catch his breath even though he didn’t want to.
Sixteen years of life with Scrappy consists of so many memories and life lessons. I can hardly recall life without him. As he was in his senior years of life, I saw it as an opportunity to pay him back for all the joy he has given me. My goal was to make it the most comfortable years of his life and that was exactly what I sought out to do. I will always miss the sound of his collar bell as he walked around (he became def as he got older so it was a good way to keep track of where he was) and most of all, his gentle heart. Senior dogs have the most genuine hearts and I am glad I shared life with one.
Lucky: The Nurturer/Teacher
We named her Lucky but we ended up being the lucky ones. My father was working at an apartment complex and noticed residents in an apartment had been evicted. They had taken all of their belongings but left behind their dog and a bag of dog food. As my father was leaving, she took a chance and jumped in the back of his truck. Little did she know from that moment on, she would be a part of her forever family.
Lucky has now been with us for nine years. The vet estimated her to be about 1-2 years old at the time we found her so she could be 10 -11 years old. I cannot express how “lucky” we are to be the family that she picked to be with. She is one of the main reasons why my pack acts the way they act. She taught the pack mostly everything they needed to know about being a dog. She always had the right temperament and a nurturing heart. I call her my dog with street cred because of her past as a stray dog. I could tell that her life on the streets taught her how to survive and act around other dogs. I remember one day my sister took her out on a walk and a large stray dog ran up to them. My sister described how Lucky surprisingly knew what to do which helped her calm down. Lucky stood her ground and remained in front of my sister. The dog felt Lucky’s vibe and did not harm them. Instead it sniffed them and went along its separate way. From that day on I knew I didn’t have to worry about Lucky because her instincts were always on point.
I also call Lucky the nurturer because that is what she does best. She pretty much taught the rest of the pack things I never could. I was always hesitant to go to the dog park because of all the horror stories I heard about dogs attacking dogs. But, I learned as we went that I would never have to worry because Lucky would teach the rest of the pack how to act and in return they listened to her. Majority of the time they would follow her or stay nearby. She also has this way of calming the pack. When my dogs are playing and things get too rowdy she’ll bark or get in between them to calm them down. It’s like this dog knows what is right from wrong. There are so many things I am thankful for. Lucky definitely made my life as a pack leader much easier.
Shiloh: The Human Dog
Shiloh is one special dog, and he was just that from the very start of his life. Shiloh’s life started off as a surprise. I brought Lucky to the vet under the suspicion that she was pregnant. The vet examined her and said she was not. Weeks later, we found Lucky cuddled with a little black puppy cradled in her arms. Shiloh is the son of Scrappy and Lucky! (Don’t worry folks, I learned from this mistake and do not believe in breeding due to the overpopulation of animals so we neutered Scrappy afterward.) Shiloh recently celebrated his seventh birthday in February and this dog has been a ball of energy his whole life. We were so amazed that this little puppy came into our lives. Scrappy was getting older and to find out he now had a successor was the best gift, which is why we named him Shiloh (Shiloah biblically means “sent”). He is so similar to Scrappy, it is quite amazing to see. They also had an amazing bond and loved being with each other.
So far in life he has dealt with his fair share of bad experiences. Last year he dislocated his hip and went through two major surgeries. The first surgery failed! Thankfully his second surgery “femoral head removal” has brought him back to his feet and I am currently seeing him get back into his groove. There is more information about his health struggle in an earlier entry named “Shiloh’s 7th Birthday Pain-Free.”
Shiloh loves to play fetch and go out for walks. He can also play fetch for hours, no I take that back, probably days. I call him my human dog because this little guy can communicate. When he is mad, sad, or happy he will let you know. He will bark, howl, whatever he can do to get your attention. He loves to talk. Shiloh also loves being hugged and will hug you back. He definitely has a unique soul.
Tila: The Homegirl
Tila is my labrador pitbull. Tila formerly belonged to my brother-in-law who planned on surrendering her to the Humane Society. Getting to know her beforehand, I could not let that happen because of her sweet heart. So I rescued her and she has been with me ever since. She will be turning 8 years old this October.
I call her my homegirl because I know she would do anything for me. I know for a fact Tila would do anything to save my life. She is such a loyal dog, I feel 110% safe with her. Tila and Aiko (my youngest and her daughter) are much alike. They love to be surrounded by their human family. If they could talk, I’m pretty sure they would say their most favorite thing in the world is spending time with me. It is heartwarming to know this dog has got my back!
Kolohe: The Lap Dog
Kolohe is about 60 pounds and he believes he is a lap dog. Kolohe is Tila’s brother. He was also surrendered so I decided to rescue him and make him a part of the pack. Kolo boy is one loving pup. He loves to cuddle and will always find his way to your lap. Size does not matter in his world. Another interesting thing about Kolo is he likes to daydream and enjoy his surroundings. He is a yard dog so there have been many times where I catch him enjoying nature staring at butterflies passing by. He also loves listening to the birds that chirp from our tree.
Kolo boy has an autoimmune disorder where his own body attacks his muscles. He has lost a lot of muscle mass in his facial area. He recently went through an episode of “temporary” paralysis in his back legs. His back legs responded to nerve stimuli but he mysteriously could not walk. The vet thought he had a blood clot or his condition worsened. After blood tests and an x-ray everything looked normal. He was placed on prednisone and he has fully recovered since.
Aiko: The Best Friend
Aiko has a special place in my heart. She recently passed away in August 2014 due to canine lymphoma. She was only five years old and taken too soon. I’ve had a lot of dogs in my life but only one type of Aiko. Although I love all dogs and anything to do with dogs once in a while there comes a dog that changes everything. That was Aiko. You could see her love for life and her love for us. The most favorite thing in the world to her was being with her family and I knew that for a fact. She had been through so much for her short five years of life, Aiko was definitely a fighter. She fought for her life until the very last second. I have so much to say about this dog and I will definitely talk about her more in other entries because her story is worth sharing.
Aiko was full of love. She followed us every chance she could and she was the life of our home. The second I learned she had cancer I could not believe it and to this day I still cannot believe she is gone. I am currently mourning this loss and it has been a hard phase of my life. There is a big difference between mourning the loss of Scrappy and Aiko and I will tell you why in future entries. Since the first year of her life she dealt with chronic skin allergies, then early last year battled lymphoma, and went through chemotherapy for six months. Through it all, she was always happy and let us know every day that she loved us. I realized, if I died tomorrow, I would die content knowing I was loved so much in my life by her. Aiko was definitely one in a million and even though she had a short life, I was lucky to have her in my life at all.
I am learning something new everyday about myself and about being part of a pack. Everything I went through with them has been a learning experience and I would not change a thing. Being a dog owner is one thing but being a part of a pack of dogs is another. They are my family and companions. I never felt right calling myself their “owner.”
I’d like to end this entry with a favorite quote of mine which I truly believe in. THE JOURNEY OF LIFE IS SWEETER WHEN TRAVELED WITH A DOG.
I never appreciated the world of blogging until the lives of my pack and I changed drastically last year. I am a dog lover and I have always been passionate about dogs since the creation of 101 Dalmatians. Over the course of six years I raised a pack of six dogs. Within those years, I have never learned, experienced, cried, laughed, and loved so much in my life it is the reason why I finally want to write about it. In this blog I want to share the ups and downs of raising a pack of dogs. Most importantly, I want to share the precious memories I’ve made with them.
If you asked me how life is like with six dogs, my response would be, “the absolute mixture of crazy and luck.” My pack and I have dealt with canine cancer (lymphoma), chemotherapy, loss, mourning, kennel cough, hip dislocations, boils, you name it! On the flip side, I have experienced the unconditional love and priceless moments only so many can experience. From this blog I hope to connect with other dog lovers who have experienced the same, or quite simply just people who love dogs. So, here is my first post. The journey of six dogs and one girl starts NOW 🙂
Happy birthday to my human dog Shiloh! Forget the cake, this dog deserves a slab of steak! After having two major hip surgeries at the young age of six, he definitely is looking better.
Last September casually taking a wee-wee at the beach he let out the most horrific cry. He crazily dislocated his hip by lifting his leg up to urinate. What I didn’t know was the long and hectic road he faced ahead until he would finally heal.
First day: I brought him to his vet where an X-Ray was taken. His veterinarian thought he could pop his hip back in so he stayed overnight. He was wrong!
Next Day: He couldn’t get Shiloh’s hip back in its socket so he referred us to a specialist. Thankfully he only charged me $50 for his X-ray.
Couple days after: Shiloh had to endure his hip out of its socket for a couple of days until his surgery. First surgery was over. I don’t recall the name of the surgery but the specialist basically drilled a pin in his socket and hip bone to keep it from dislocating. Thank goodness for Care Credit because that surgery costed $4000 total. We all thought (especially the vet) that Shiloh would heal perfectly because he is such a young, healthy, and active dog.
About two months passed and I kid you not, the day I was suppose to take him to the dog park to celebrate his healing, his hip dislocated ONCE AGAIN! The thoughts of anger and frustration going through my mind. I was in denial… I called and the receptionist was also in disbelief. She said there’s no way it could’ve popped back out he probably just tweaked it. So I waited to see if it was just a tweak and he should no sign of pain. He even walked on his injured leg from time to time. About two days later, he wasn’t getting any better so I brought him to the specialist once again. So on Halloween day, I took him back to the vet and sure enough from his X-ray, it showed that his hip popped back out.
In that moment, my world was upside down. I had just lost two of my dogs that summer, and I was still paying off for his first surgery ($4000!). I finally got accepted into my school program and I wasn’t working. Thankfully this time the vet felt really really bad so he gave me a discount. I was able to pay for his surgery with my school loan. His second surgery costed about $1000.
His second surgery was for a femoral head removal. Basically this time, there was no pin that held his hip in place, it’s pretty much just free floating and held by ligaments and muscles. I pleaded in sadness and asked his vet, “Will this work?” I honestly told him, I spent thousands of dollars for his surgeries if it keeps popping back out I won’t have money for another surgery and I’ll have to think about amputation. He reassured me, the femoral head removal surgery can’t go wrong. A couple of days later, it was time for Shiloh’s surgery. He spent about a week at the veterinarian’s office to recover.
Until this very day we do not know how Shiloh could’ve easily dislocated his hip. Both veterinarians (specialist and general) said it takes a huge impact to have that happen such as getting hit by a car. It is a mystery but the specialist concluded it could be Shiloh’s anatomy to blame. It’s not hip dysplasia and he sure as hell didn’t get hit by a car. All I can say is, I am very thankful that he is on the road to his old-self again. He loves the dog park and is obsessed with fetch. To have that taken away was depressing to see.
Shiloh and Lucky (his mother)! Yes, she enjoyed her piece of steak too. 🙂
Today I am devoting this blog to talk about the present day instead of reminiscing about the past. Today is a hard day for me to face because it is World Cancer Day. I want to honor a special dog of mine that lost her battle to cancer. Last year I lost a very special part of my pack (the youngest member) to canine lymphoma.
Aiko (my labrador pit bull) was only five years old, and full of life and love. She was the type of dog that was always and I mean it when I say always happy. I called her my care-free dog that loved life to the fullest. How carefree and happy are we talking about? Whenever Aiko walked behind me, she would hop up and sniff my hand each time it swayed back as I walked expecting a treat to be in there. It was the cutest thing. Life was full of treats, hugs, and kisses for her. The answer to why something that was so happy, loving, obedient, and pure was picked to battle cancer will never be given. She was taken away too early.
I definitely feel like I got a double whammy! Not only did we spend six months doing chemotherapy treatments (six different protocols) but we also now have to learn how to mourn for our loss. The IV injections, loads of pills to take, weekly chemotherapy appointments and check-ups, strict diets, injections after injections hoping for a miracle. Those were the roughest six months of my life as a dog-owner. I am finding that the mourning process, especially sharing it with a significant other (my boyfriend, Aiko’s other owner) is so interesting I will definitely spend a lot of time talking about it in future blogs. What I’ve learned so far: mourning is the absolute maze of life!
Aiko, I miss you and think about you everyday. My pain will ALWAYS be the same but I am learning how to worry about you less as time passes.
The pain I feel will always remain the same because the facts will never change. She is no longer here and no matter what I do, I’ll never have another Aiko. All I can hope for is that she’s with my dogs that have passed before her, happy, pain-free, sliding down rainbows being care-free. Rest in peace Aiko. We’ll see each other again someday.