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Goodbye My Heart

On Aug.29, 2019, I said goodbye to the amazing dog I was blessed with seven years ago. Over the past year, Grady’s myelopathy progressed to where he was unable to get up more and more often, and I, having had a heart attack recently, was unable to help him.
He crossed the Rainbow Bridge with a tummy full of timbits

My only regret in loving him, is that in his blindness, he could not see how much I did. In the end however, it was a blessing that he also could not see the tears.

Seven Lucky Years

happy boy

This is the face that greeted me seven years ago. And the one that has lit up my life ever since.

Grady came to me as a rescue, via a doggy train of wonderful people from the U.S., and courtesy of Betsy Sommers and Peppertree Rescue, of New Albany, NY. He had been picked up off the streets, blind, matted, emaciated, and unwanted.

He arrived in Canada well cared for by his many friends, bouncing and ready to grab the world by its ear. When he could find it.  We kept this blog for a few years until time and work commitments overcame us. Grady and I were busy. He, getting into trouble, and me, getting him out of it.  But it has been a wonderful seven years.

When he was found, the shelter felt that Grady was about ten years old. His vets felt that he was at least eight. So now that makes him at least 15, and quite possibly more like 16.  He is old. He has slowed down. But so have I. Last year he lost his hearing, and I suspect his sense of smell isn’t far behind.

What I have not shared before this, is that last summer Grady experienced a serious health crisis.  He had fallen over outside in late March during a bitter wind and snow storm, at two in the morning. But he recovered from the episode of vestibular disease in a couple of days. In July, he was not as lucky.  He got up from a nap, stumbled, and fell down the stairs. We managed to get outside for a pee, he came in, and didn’t get up again for two weeks.

At first he was unable to eat from the dizziness. He puked, he had diarrhea, he couldn’t lay upright. Because I had to attend to his bathroom needs, it necessitated rolling him over to wash and dry him. When I did this, he almost appeared to pass out.

Yes, people urged me to put him down. But there were two reasons I couldn’t do that. Besides the fact that I love him. One: I had lost my stud dog in the same way, in 2004. He had seemed to improve after a couple of days, then slipped backwards and appeared to have no feeling in his back end.  So I let him go.  I have always wondered since, if I should not have brought him home and tried. Anything. Everything.  And two: there was still life in his blind eyes. He was quiet and restful when I was with him. And the cats. My God, the cats loved him, surrounded him, and groomed him.  So I had to try.

It was not easy, either physically or emotionally. More than once I cried for hours, on the brink of giving up. Then he would do something that said “I’m still here.” And we would soldier on.  Nine days later he managed to get onto his chest. Two weeks later he tried to get up. Couldn’t do it, but the will was there.  Eventually with some jury-rigged aids, he stood and went out onto the deck to pee.

I’ll spare you the weeks of two steps forward and three back.  For a long time he stood with his head down and canted to the side. When he tried to move forward it was as if something shifted in his brain and shoved him, so that his balance was constantly changing. He fell, he got up. Slowly, but he did it.  He began to eat willingly, if he got canned food on top of his chow. And I promised him timbits every day for the rest of his life, if he stayed.

Sadly, when he did become mobile, it was apparent that Grady now has myelopathy. His back end has weakened severely. Some days are good, other days one or the other leg does not want to work well at all.  Grady wears a seat belt harness 24/7 because the webbing allows me to give him extra lift when his legs don’t. He can now go up and down the few stairs to the outside, sometimes with a little help. There is a tumour on his right front paw that they can’t remove as they’d have to take the whole toe, and the vets are reluctant to risk it with his other issues. Grady is living on borrowed time.

It makes me sad, but it’s good time as far as he’s concerned. There is food, and belly rubs, and always a cat to sleep with him. And there will always, always be timbits. I had to wait to take the photo below, because he was having a “feel good” roll and rub.

My old man in the sunlight. My love.

Gotcha day

 

Yes, we have been MIA. And AWOL. And at times, VERKLEMPT. You get busy. Time catches up with you, beats you over the head and leaves you lying in the road to get run over by things like…oh, work.  But we promise to do better. Or try. We’ll try. Honest.

There are times lately, I have deeply regretted that Grady is so smart. It’s usually when I’ve been caught out trying to fob off an irregular number of Timbits on him.  Like when we recently dropped in on the lovely drs. at Cullen-Webb in Moncton, N.B. to see whether he was still blind.  He is.  That’s a joke, folks. Grady has been blind since long before I got him.  But on the way home, we pulled off an unnecessary exit to pick up the requisite Timbit pack for him having been “such a good boy”.  Really, Dr. Webb. You lay it on too thick.

I bought a ten pack.  That’s one for each finger. Or toe. And all of them for Grady.  So imagine the mayhem that ensued when….gasp….I opened the box at home and found nine.  Yes, an irregular number and he knew it.  His eyes followed the box to the top of the microwave, and I was on the receiving end of a cold, calculating and blind stare, before he turned and walked away.  He knew. Not that there was only nine, but that I had done something unspeakable to his Timbits.

Why is only nine an issue, you say?  Because he gets two at a time.  I thought that was as high as he could count. I was wrong.  Each bedtime, treat time, etc. he gets two. And I could see his little mental abacus clicking the wooden beads over. Two, four, six, eight….nine?

I tried to explain. He listened. Then he picked up a paw, licked it, nibbled at a nail and put it down again. And I realized two things: one, that he’s been living with cats too long. And two: he suspected me of the unspeakable crime of having eaten one of the Timbits.

There has been a certain frostiness to our relationship for the last week. Until today. (I hope.)  You see, this is Grady’s Gotcha Day. It’s been five years since he hitchhiked his way to Canada, because Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t have naked donut holes.  And what better way for him to celebrate, than a cake made out of Timbits.  There were 20, but he ate two last night. And there are, thankfully, an even number.  I tried to make a pyramid but doing that without toothpicks and/or Gorilla Glue requires more talent than I have. Don’t judge me.

timbit cake 1

P.S. The cat refused to blow out the candles for him unless she got half. And you know how much chance there is of that.

BFFs

Brofurs furever.

You know what’s more aggravating than one aggravating animal? It’s two of them. They don’t even have to be the same species.



harry foot up nose



This is Harry. Otherwise known as Carraig’s Hunka Hunka Birman Love. Harry is the product of 15 years of striving to preserve and promote the very distinguished Birman cat ( the breed, not this particular example). Harry is very handsome. He is even a champion. And while he doesn’t always present himself in the best manner, he is indeed, an impressive sight. Unfortunately, he is a wee bit of catnip short of a full mouse.


roll



This of course, is Grady. And while we don’t know his origin for sure, he appears to have been the product of a breeder who didn’t care. And an owner who cared so little, they let him go blind then turned him out on the street. But to spite them all, he is a beautiful, and stunning example of his breed. Regrettably, like Harry, he is short some kibble in his bowl of mental faculties. You see where this is going, don’t you?



bros


Neither one of them has the sense God gave a turnip, and I suspect that would be insulting turnips. Whenever I see a furry kitty behind flying through the air and knocking things over, you can be sure it’s Harry. And that thumping herd of elephants following his path of destruction is Grady.

They stick together like someone velcro’d them. And if you do manage to divide and try to conquer, they’ll each give you that dewy-eyed, injured look that says “I had nothing to do with the cascade of water that is now heading for your keyboard.”


bromance with harry


Yes, they do get into trouble individually at different times but they’re each so jealous that the other is having fun, the non-involved party promptly does something bad. Thus perpetuating the non-stop cycle of mayhem.


brofurs


You wouldn’t think from looking at a picture like this, that there is anything but domestic bliss and harmony in my household. Hah! She said. I dare you to come and spend 24 hours with the pair of them. And if you are emotionally intact at the end of the day, you’ll have passed the audition for a remake of “Survivor”.

Excuse me, but my last nerve is starting to unfray. I need to go curl into a fetal ball with my thumb in my mouth while they play leapfrog over my cold, unconscious body. Please close the door carefully on the way out. It would be a cruel trick on the world to let them loose.

The People vs. Grady

Case 1990234 ½, the People vs. Grady
Charge: That one Grady the dog, with malicious intent and malice aforethought (possibly a fifththought too), did render limb from limb and totally lifeless, one stuffed Clifford the dog.
I.B. de Judge, presiding.
F. Lea Bailey, defense attorney
Court already in session. Evidence presentation.



Exhibit A
clifford 1
With all due respect Your Honour, that only shows that my client was at the scene of the crime. He was doing his best to sniff out the perpetrator.


Exhibit B
clifford 2
He was NOT attacking the victim! My client was giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation.


Exhibit C
clifford 3
He was calling for back up from the EMTs Your Honour. He was not chewing anything.


Exhibit D
clifford 4
We realize this looks suspicious Your Honour, but my client was deeply, deeply upset that the victim was DOA (destuffed on arrival).


May I approach the bench with my client and have him examine the body of the deceased, Your Honour? Thank you. Wait! Grady! Grady, come back here with that damn thing!

As hard as it is to believe, Grady and I have been an “item” for three years as of June 17, 2015. It’s been…well, an experience. I wouldn’t classify it as a roller coaster ride. More like a train wreck on an icy plateau over a 1,000 ft. chasm.

It did make me wonder though, what else I could have been doing for the last three years.

I could have walked ruffly 30% of the way around the world.
I could have learned several new languages.
I could have become a gourmet cook/chef.
I could have knitted approximately 50 bed size afghans.
I could have written a parallel universe version of 50 Shades of Grey
I could have gone to a big university and studied psychiatry.

So why didn’t I? Well, it’s like this.

Grady would have loved the walks but I’m not sure he can swim, and seriously doubt he would be willing to fetch me out of the Dead Sea when I reached the 30%.
Grady has heard several languages out of me, with an astounding list of sub-dialects. Every time he steals my lunch, my dinner, ingredients for a dish meant for company….
Grady likes my cooking just fine. I apparently make the best cheese sandwich known to man, and my rolls are totally worth stealing. Just ask the cat that steals them for him.
Grady sheds enough hair for 100 afghans. And I can’t knit.
Grady has already supplied a better story in 50 Shades of Grady.
Grady provides enough material to confuzzle Jung, Freud and Pavlov. And he doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for tuition.

Thanks to Grady I have home schooled myself in everything from psychology to finding inner pieces (and putting them all back together to form one. Ohmmm.) It wouldn’t have been half as entertaining without a cold nose down my shirt front or stuck in my ear at Tim Horton’s.





pose 1 B

tartan 1

You want some photos?

tartan 2

Well, that’s negotiable.

tartan 3

And I don’t come cheap!

tartan 4

What do you mean ‘pose first, pay later’?

tartan 5

Hah! That will be the day.

tartan 6

I want Timbits. And there better be more than two of them…

tartan 7

If you want this handsome face in your viewfinder.

tartan 8

And another thing…my agents says- oh look! A squirrel!

Of farts and fright

Dear Scotts, purveyors of fine suet cakes that are being gobbled at the speed of light by flocks of mooching nuthatches, woodpeckers, chickadees and other assorted feathered friends:

I have a complaint.

red poll finches

I want to know just what is it you put in your bird food that creates more methane than a dozen herd of cows when it’s eaten by a collection of birds that would not match a cow’s hoof in size or weight. How do I know they fart? Well, I’m going to tell you. And I’m so glad you asked.

I’m sure you understand that a dog’s hearing is far superior to a human’s. Perhaps you are unaware though, that a blind dog’s hearing is…well, extraordinary. They, or Grady specifically, can hear trays of Timbits being taken out of the oven, 23 miles away. So hearing birds expel gas is child’s play to him. The hearing is not the problem. It is the barking.

Grady lays in front of the patio door, unaware of just why the cats are chirping and salivating all over his bed. He couldn’t care less, since his olfactory skills also tell him that it’s not food they are excited about. It’s the birds out on the patio, shovelling up the seed into their pointy little beaks. Grady of course, can’t see them. Out of sight, out of mind. And the barking is driving me out of mine.

It’s not like he barks at every little noise. He takes no notice at all of screaming Blue Jays, Chickadees and cats hitting the patio door (from opposite sides). Not a hair does he turn when I stub my toes on the treadmill at 4am on my way to the bathroom. But when all things are quiet, and even my pretty good hearing detects nothing that sounds like someone is using explosives to breach the door and steal our Dentastix, he goes ballistic. This of course sets off Stage 2 ballistics from Brandy, who possibly can’t hear birds breaking wind, but if Grady barks, by doG, she’ll bark until he stops. And then bark some more to make sure the birds know that they better stop that right now. The suddenness of said barking scares the living crap out of me.

Since Grady is usually right by the Seed Smorgasbord out on the deck, it has to be the birds. I would posit that it was the cracking of sunflower seed shells, but it happens when the only thing being consumed is bits of fruit or microscopic seeds. And given the speed at which these little feathered fiends ingest said material, they have got to have gas.

I would appreciate it if you could start coating your products in Gas-X or some other animal friendly fart-reducing substance. My nerves can’t stand much more.




cold canadian dogs



The bark brigade, defending hearth and home from farting feathered friends.

It’s certainly not The Sound of Music around our house. In fact, it’s more like a set for Frozen. We’ve had over five feet of snow since Jan.24. This is of great concern to both of us. For different reasons.

snow storm Feb. 2015

First, I have a four foot snow limit. After that, various parts of my body start to break down. Last week it was my shoulder and the muscles that run every so lovingly over to your neck and cause gigantic spasms of pain after you have been throwing snow over said shoulder for oh…hours. This of course, does not bother Grady a bit, as long as I have one good arm with which to dish up food and hold the leash when he needs to go.

Grady’s concerns are a bit different. His primary worry is whether there is enough snow left in which to make doggie snow angels. Over and over and over. Every time he goes out. Yes, Grady. There is enough for snow angels that if placed tail to nose would encircle the earth, 400 million times. This makes him very happy. So much so, that he pretends to have to go at 2:30am, right after I have gone to bed, forcing me to stand outside in -30F weather in my pajamas while he drops, rolls, and scratches his nose on the icy bits.

His other concern is slightly more serious. Being blind, Grady has mapped the yard in his little pea brain. Six steps this way and around the tree for a stoop and poop. Except there is now a six foot bank of snow there and the tree has been buried. So when he goes out, he runs his head into the snow banks and comes out white, which is mildly amusing. Add to the changed topography of his world, an urgent need to perform the S&P, and it gets even better.

After the last storm he charged out the door, frantically searching for his beloved stooping grounds. His anxiety level was so high that he spun around several times, then backed up the snow bank until he was at a 45 degree angle, head down, and cocked his leg. Then stooped and made his deposit with leg still extended.

No, I did not have a camera. Pity. But it would likely have gotten snow in the lens as I ricocheted off the snow banks, laughing hysterically. In its place I offer this much tamer pic of him in more standard operation. Please ignore the yellow squiggles. His writing is dreadful.

snowmageddon

The Night Before Christmas

(With apologies to Clement Clark Moore)

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Snoring was heard from each eggnog souse.
The stockings were hung on nails way up high,
Far above furballs who think they can fly.

The cats had all snuggled down in my bed,
Where visions of ornaments danced in their heads.
Left with six inches of mattress, onto it I leap,
With the mistaken idea that I was going to sleep.

leandro under the tree

Ten seconds later a bellowing moose
Caused a scattering of cats as all Hell broke loose.
I dashed for the door, being somewhat bold,
Tripped over Grady and knocked myself cold.

It was like a convention, out there on the lawn,
Three rabbits, a racoon, two does and a fawn.
The volume of laughing, rose and then sunk
Santa and crew had run over the skunk.

Things had got ugly, and Santa he swore,
This would be his last trip to our house, he’d come back no more.
The wee creatures’ eyes grew with each new term they heard ,
Rudolph was texting his union steward.

The reindeer argued and pointed at Vixen,
Who blushed and admitted she was pregnant by Blitzen.
Santa snarled at the team and up they all flew
I think it might have been the threat of a stew.

With a mighty leap, through the sky they were rushing,
To toots that showed someone’s intestines need flushing.
The sled and the toys, and the fat gentleman too,
Arrived on the roof to applause from the zoo.

The cats were all clamoring, anticipating some nip,
As I limped back inside, thinking of a new hip.
“Wait just a minute!” Santa growled an aside,
“Who put the damn chimney on the outside?”

He slid down the bricks, filling the night,
With an odeur that said he might have worn black and white.
The aroma followed him in through the door,
Where he didn’t see the hairball on the floor.

He flew into the air, his feet kicking and wiggling,
I’d type what he said if I could only stop giggling.
His acrobatics were surely the high point of the day,
And seldom seen outside Cirque du Soleil.

He rose with a groan and dragged open the sack,
With a mutter about how he’d never come back.
Stockings were stuffed, and he was this close to done,
When Grady barrelled into him at a full run.

waiting for Santa

To say he went ass over tea kettle would be quite understated,
And the words that he said were certainly X-rated.
He was giving the poor dog an angry ‘what-for’
As Grady slid between his legs and began to explore.

Santa’s armpits were empty, his bellybutton likewise,
Ditto his ears, his butt and his thighs.
Up one down the other side of Santa he races,
Grady was looking for food in all the wrong places.

“Let me out of here!” Santa screamed, out the door in good time,
He whipped up the reindeer who turned on a dime.
And we heard him exclaim as he flew towards Dover,
“You’ll see me back here when this damn place freezes over!”

tree 2

On behalf of Grady, I would like to wish our wonderful friends and followers, a Merry Christmas, and a joyous New Year, and share with you some exciting news. Grady’s blog has been nominated in two categories of the Dog Writer’s Association Awards, one for dog blog, and one in the humour category, for the article “Revenge is Sweet”. No matter the outcome, we are honoured by the nominations and grateful to the two rescues without whom there would be no Grady and no blog. God Bless us all, every one.

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