HERSHEY, THE LOVING DOG WHO CAME TO STAY...

[Becky Dodge wrote this to honor her beloved Hershey (2003-May 31, 2017).You don’t have to read between the lines to see how much she loved this guy. Wednesday was the tough day. So was Thursday.]


Becky’s words about her dear Hershey:



"Hershey died yesterday. 


602hersheyinthechairThat handsome, lovely, gentle man had come to live with me a few months after I bought this house. 
He was a 90+ pound Chocolate Lab who twice escaped from the shelter here in Weatherford and both times came here.
The second time I let him stay. It seems that he had decided that this was his home.
He was about 18 months old at that point and a more loving dog I’ve never known.
He accepted everyone, people, dogs, everyone he ever met.

During his 14+ years I never knew him to even growl, except once when one of the other dogs tried to take a piece of kibble he dropped while eating. Then he growled once. 
Yes, his second favorite thing in the whole world, after people, was food. He absolutely thought that it was wonderful, whenever and wherever he could get it: bananas, carrots, apples, hot dogs, cheese and anything else he could find. 


During his first months here he could also be a real terror when bored, destroying a couch, all the venetian blinds, pillows, lampshades, trying to dig through the carpet and the doors in a couple of rooms when the door swung closed.


He also was a fence jumper and went on several unauthorized walks, always coming back here when he was done. 
Through it all he was loving to everyone he met and even at the end of his life maintained that same loving attitude.

Toward the end of his life he had severe arthritis and associated muscle loss in his hips which became so severe that he could no longer stand on his own. 
The muscle loss caused him to become incontinent and he was so obviously ashamed when it happened even though he could no longer control those functions. 


During his last few days I believe that he was telling me that it was time, he didn’t want to stay when the good periods were becoming fewer all the time. He repeatedly came over to me, wanted to be loved for a little time, then would walk away and then stop, look back and repeat that process again and again. 


He seemed to be saying that it was time to go. So, yesterday, after getting all of his favorite treats, we made that last slow trip to the vet where he left peacefully on his last journey. I miss him."
--- To COMMENT, CLICK BELOW ---


IN HONOR OF SHERIDAN: A GOOD REINDEER, A GREAT HELPER, A WONDERFUL FRIEND

210sheridanhelping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What you see in this photograph is a partnership.


And we’re using it to introduce this memorial to a dog named Sheridan.

How did he get the name?
“We just liked the name Sheridan,” one of his humans, our pal Della Wallace told us. 

That photo? We got it late last year from Della.
210sheridandaisydavidShe explained, “Sheridan decided that David needed help tiling my new shower stall, so he volunteered.”


That was on January 2. 

On January 30, Della wrote, “Very sad day!!!  Our Sheridan went to the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon.  He was very ill and there was nothing they could do to even make him comfortable. We tried for two weeks but he was getting much worse.”


Sheridan left a hole in two lives, but the fact that he lived with David and Della also filled two hearts with the kind of love you get when you take a rescued puppy from one end of life to the other.


We’ve written about Sheridan before because he was a remarkable survivor. 


Della told us, “Sheridan is the only survivor of the 7 puppies born to Daisy in 2005.  Daisy was rescued from the pound [Dallas Animal Services] by Debbie Ferrell.  Deb was there, at the pound, when someone took Daisy in, full of puppies.  210daisyphotodellaDeb was at that time with A Different Breed and asked for someone to take a pregnant Daisy.”


[LARRY ASIDE: That is our only photo of Daisy -- we featured her in a July, 2008, edition of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie.]


Della says Deb sent out word she was  looking for a foster for a pregnant dog. So Della and David made what turned out to be a wonderful decision for a momma and a surviving son.

“We volunteered and Daisy had 7 babies, 6 of which died from seizures before they were 3  weeks old. We still have Daisy as she was deemed unadoptable as she barks all the time.  (Good thing we are in the country with no close neighbors).”


210sheridanantlersAs you can see from these assorted photos, Sheridan had a “closeness” with his buddy David.

Even putting  a big paw on his forehead while Callie, another rescue, was trying to nap. David may have been trying to nap, too.


And, there’s that one “seasonal photo.” Della says, “This is Sheridan napping at Christmas a few years ago. He was a good reindeer.”

Della says she and David had a funeral on the 31st for Sheridan. 


There were tears. There are some now -- anybody who’s lost a friend like Sheridan can feel it right in the heart.


But, when you think of Sheridan, think also of the life he lived -- a long-odds survivor as a puppy who grew up to be a reindeer and a helper and a member of the family.


--- To comment, please click below. ---


A tribute: LADY

[LARRY NOTE: Our pal Dianne Cole knows what it means to love. As many of you who have lost dear members of your family know, sometimes you just aren’t able to immediately press through the barrier of mourning and write. Your heart keeps the words inside. But, in time, you need to express, to explain, why you are missing someone so dear to you. So, from March 25, here is Dianne’s tribute to Lady, a loved soul.]

Lady, the Queen
July 1, 2001-March 4, 2016

“Three weeks ago today, March 4, 2016, Mike and I helped our sweet Lady, the Queen of the House, cross the Rainbow Bridge.  She would have been 15 years old on July 1st of this year.  

327ladyinthepillows“We adopted Lady from the Dallas SPCA in July of 2002 when she was just over a year old, the day before I was to have surgery on my right foot. I met Mike at the SPCA after work to adopt a dog…He had already selected Lady from their website unbeknownst to me, but she was a beauty and I fell immediately in love with her.  
“The SPCA had her listed as a Yellow Lab/Red Heeler mix and she had the best qualities of both breeds…loving, sweet, and very, very smart. She was beautiful…a reddish gold color with gorgeous brown eyes. 
“Mike and Lady left the SPCA while I stopped to pick up some doggy things for her and by the time I got home she had bonded with Mike and 327ladythirdpairwanted nothing to do with me…I was heartbroken…cried myself to sleep that night.  After my foot surgery the next morning I was confined to the house for 6 full weeks, on crutches with no weight on my foot and by the end of the 6 weeks, Lady and I had bonded; she became best friends with Doc, our old dachshund, and was the love of our lives. 
“Just a year after Lady came into our lives, Doc, crossed the Rainbow Bridge at the age of 18 and Lady was lost without him to mother, so we adopted our black Lab, Cisco, to be a companion for Lady.  

“Cisco came to us from a Lab rescue and Mike and I took Lady to meet him at his foster home in Ennis to see if they would get along.  They romped and played like old friends, but as soon as I brought Cisco home a couple of days later, Lady wanted NO part of him.  Again I was heartbroken and so afraid Cisco would have to be returned, but I was patient and after a couple of weeks, when Lady ‘allowed’ Cisco to get on the bed with us one night, I knew she had accepted Cisco and he was there to stay.  After that they became BFF’s…always together wrestling, sleeping, protecting their family, but Lady was ALWAYS the leader of the pack and never failed to put Cisco in his place should he get out of line.

327ladysunning“Lady was one of the most dignified dogs I had ever had.  On the very rare occasion that she had any kind of accident in the house, she would always find a throw rug to use and you could see how embarrassed she was when we found her ‘accident.‘  



“She absolutely LOVED water.  I can’t tell you how many times that I’d start running my bath and turn around to see Lady walking around in the tub enjoying the warm water…she actually jumped into the tub with me several 327ladyfirstpairtimes.  One of her greatest pleasures was being blown dry with the hair dryer.  
“Up until a few months ago, in the mornings when I’d wash my hair, she would come running from wherever she was in the house when she heard me turn on the hair dryer.  I would always take a few minutes to ‘dry’ her off…stroking and telling her how much I loved her (in all honesty I think that was the part she enjoyed the most…LOL!), and after a few minutes she was happy and would go about her merry way.  Many mornings as I got dressed, she would come into the bathroom and lay behind me as I put my makeup on.

“Lady loved being outside…anytime…cold weather, ice, rain…nothing bothered her.  She especially loved being outside when the weather was nice and sunny.  She would often lay in the grass in the sun until she became hot to the touch, walk to the shady concrete patio to cool off and then head right back to the sun to bake again.  I often told Lady that she really wasn’t a ‘lady’”…She’d watched Cisco hike his leg to pee and learned how to do it quite well when she felt the mood.  

“She loved babies of any kind.  Once we had a neighbor that had a small dog that had puppies and Lady would lay just as close to the fence as she could get and the puppies would come to her.  Abby joined our household at the age of 8 weeks old and Lady quickly became Abby’s adopted mother and Cisco her father…they were the cutest little dog family and Mike and I loved them so much. Lady was 12 and getting to be a bit crotchety when I rescued Lil’ Bit and brought her home to live with us, but Lil’ Bit was a small dog and Lady adopted her and treated her like a baby, but never failed to put Lil’ Bit in her place if Lil’ Bit got too rambunctious for Lady’s liking.  

“In the summer of 2015, Mike came home from work to find Lady immobile.  We rushed her to the vet and she was diagnosed with ‘old dog syndrome.’ … After a 327ladymiddlepairround of meds and lots of love and patience she bounced back to the Lady we loved.  Several months later she was diagnosed with doggy dementia, but handled it like the Queen she was.  Her hearing and eyesight weren’t what they had been and arthritis in her hips caused her to have difficulty getting up and down on occasion.  Though she had a great appetite she would often walk around the house like she had no idea of where she was and she would pant a lot.  Her love of the outdoors diminished and we would often have to guide her out the door where she would take care of business and immediately want back in.  

“Our precious Cisco crossed the bridge July 6, 2015, while Mike was in Houston.  I think Lady was lost without Cisco and in looking back I think she was often ‘looking for him’ when she paced around the house.  The end of February I felt in my heart that it was ‘time’ to let her go while she still had her dignity, but Mike wasn’t quite ready.  She had always been ‘his girl’ and I think the fact that he wasn’t here when Cisco crossed just made him hold on to Lady a little longer.  
“Three weeks ago today, Mike got home before me to find Lady unable to move.  In fact, when he left for work that morning and took her treat to her, she was lying on her bed and was in the exact same spot when he got home where she had peed on herself…something she never did.  
“I had just left work on my way home at 4:30 when Mike called to tell me he thought it was Lady’s time.  I called our vet’s office and explained the situation and made arrangements to come home and take her in.  Mike had been sick and was not able to life Lady into his truck so the vet waited until we could get there where we said ‘goodbye’ to our precious girl, Lady.  She had been so much a part of our lives for almost 15 years.  327ciscoandianneWhat a blessing she was and I take great comfort knowing that she and Cisco, her BFF for 13 years, are now together again on the other side…running and playing as they did when they were young.

“Lady and Cisco, Mom and Dad love you both so much…then, now and forever.  Tell all our other fur babies how much we loved them and we’ll see you all again one day.  RIP, my sweet girl….Lady, the Queen.  Lady is now home with us where she belongs.”

327threeonahearth


---- To comment, please click below. --- 


Colonel Mustard, The Cat Who Found a Home & Hearts

317colmustandhisguyThis is a tribute to a cat who always had a place at the desk, as the photos demonstrate.
Debbie Bryan wrote this recollection of a former stray who, indeed, owned a home and hearts. Colonel Mustard died on Monday. Here’s Debbie’s story:



“Today we lost our precious Colonel Mustard after his battle with mast cell carcinoma. A huge vacant spot will be forever in our home and our hearts.


“Twelve years ago we moved into our home in Plano. I noticed an orange tabby roaming the neighborhood, and I thought, “I wish people wouldn’t let their cats outside.’ Over the next two years, this cat seemed to show up more and more in our cul-de-sac. He seemed un-kept, so I thought he was feral; he wouldn’t let anyone get close to him. The neighbor kids teased him and chased him.

“He began killing the birds at my feeder, so I bought cat food and lured him around to the front away from the feeders, talking to him. I noticed immediately that he had the brightest green eyes that locked onto my eyes as I spoke to him like he was looking into my soul. Over the next few months, I’d feed him on the porch and talk to him all the time he ate. One day, I put down his food and sat down on the steps. All of a sudden, he came toward me (for the first time ever). My thoughts were, ‘Great Debbie, now you have a feral cat headed toward you.’  He got closer, climbed into my lap, placed one paw on each of my shoulders and rubbed his face against my chin!  Well, he had my heart from that moment.

317colmustardface“After having him vetted (he already was neutered which I thought strange) we brought him in. Right away he seemed to ‘know the house,’ even to where a cat door had been put in before we bought the house. I told Craig that I bet the people we bought the house from just dumped him in the neighborhood.  The vet said that he was about 8-9 years old.

“Once this sweet boy got into the house, he NEVER would go outside again. We’d try to get him to go out back with us….He’d go to the door, look outside and make a u-turn! His residence of choice in the house was Craig’s office. Since Craig offices from the house, he was the official PI’s 317colmustardhelpingoffice cat…thus the name of Colonel Mustard.

“With good food and lots of love, he became a gorgeous 18-pound red-orange tabby with fabulous green eyes. When we would talk to him, he always locked onto our eyes and didn’t leave them until we finished talking. He was very vocal and always had something to say back to us.

“I always laughed because Craig would be at the computer and Colonel would be on his bed…until the telephone rang. He’d very quietly get down from his bed, jump in Craig’s lap (without Craig ever realizing it) and get petted as Craig talked on the phone. If he didn’t get the attention he wanted, he’d jump on the desk and knock Craig’s pens or paperclips off onto the floor until Craig reached to pet him.  Craig was definitely ‘his’ person and was his constant office companion.

“Craig often complained about his back hurting after a day at the computer…I walked in one day and saw Colonel draped behind Craig’s back from chair arm to chair arm…thus the cause for the backache!

“Colonel has been one of the best fur babies that we have ever had…he had quite a number of our friends and family who loved him and that he loved in return.  He adored our daughter-in-law Lisa, our sweet neighbor and ‘Colonel sitter’ Stephanie, and my good friend Marlys. He never failed to come when he heard their voices. Over the past year, our granddaughter, Hailey, would come into the office and he would climb in her lap while she loved on him…He was as big as she is!  They are grieving with us.

“Colonel suffered almost immediately from skin cancers which were surgically removed on 3 different occasions over the years. The vets thought that due to his exposure outside and his light skin, this was the cause. I noticed in March 2012 two hard knots on the top of his head close to his ears. They got bigger very quickly and when we had a needle biopsy done, we were told the terrible news that he had mast cell carcinoma and that 317colmustardsleepingit was not operable. We decided that we would bring our boy home and give him pain meds as long as we could keep him comfortable.

“In April, 2015, he made the move to our new home in Hideaway, TX,  and had taken over the house.  He had two bad battles with the disease causing him violent vomiting, but he seemed to come out of them with lots of love and prayers. Over the years, however, he had begun to severely lose weight due to the disease.

“Amazingly, with the medication and much love, he far exceeded the life expectancy he was given with this diagnosis. We gave him his meds religiously and he seemed comfortable. He never failed to be in the kitchen every morning when we got up and stayed with me if I was cooking. He became a total mooch when I made lunches…he loved the shaved turkey!  He was quite the trooper and never fought his twice-a-day pill schedule…he was such a love!

“Our sweet Colonel, you gave us 12 wonderful years. Go play now at the Bridge with all the other Bryan fur-babies and we’ll see you again. Tell them all how much we miss them.”
--- To comment, click below. ---


MOLLY: A tribute to a dog who touched a rescuer's heart

This tribute on Prayers & Passages honors Molly and you see here her “before” and “after” pictures.
 The wonderful thing about taking a distressed animal from “before” to an obviously happy “after” is that before and after always add up to a "forever" feeling in your heart. 
It’s very clear in this 310mollybeforetribute written by longtime animal rescuer and advocate Deborah Verner (formerly Deborah Trevino.)
Molly was “helped to the Bridge” on February 23. 

Here’s what Deborah wrote: 
“On 02/18/13, Molly was rescued from the Garland Shelter, and she was in bad shape, with severe hair loss, skin infection, and low weight. She was in such bad shape at the time it was thought that she was going to be a hospice case to whatever rescue took her. 
“She was found as a stray in North Garland (Kingsbridge Road). So, it is unknown how long she was wandering the area prior to being picked up by Animal Control.  She was estimated at 12 years old by the Shelter. And, she was running out of time. When I saw her heartbreaking picture on the Garland Shelter FB page, I knew I had to help her.  I was able to get her with a courtesy rescue tag.

“Molly was 28 pounds when weighed at my Vet, showing she lost weight when at the shelter. She was 31 pounds upon intake at the shelter. She was HW negative, negative on intestinal parasites, negative on mange scrape test (but sarcoptic wasn't being ruled out completely yet). Her severe skin condition was believed to be an auto immune disorder. 


“She got a nail trim, parasite treatment, ear topical, ear wash, ear anti fungal medication, antibiotics, revolution treatment, prescription medicated shampoo, and bloodwork. The bloodwork showed low thyroid, which was thought to be the major cause of her severe hair loss, and the extreme thickening of her skin. There was no indicators showing for Cushings Disease. She was too underweight to be given shots, etc. Plus, she was to receive several small meals throughout the day. Her weight would  be monitored. If she din’t gain weight in a consistent manner, then more tests would be run. ... Malnutrition and low thyroid [were] ruled out as the cause to her condition. Her teeth were in good shape, and she didn't have any issues with arthritis. 
“Molly slept most of the time during those first couple of weeks at my house.
310mollyafterThe Vet flat out told me that if it was her, she wouldn't have picked Molly to rescue, given the shape she was in.  But, I proved her wrong.

“As she was slowing gaining weight, Molly appeared to have one mammary gland tumor, which became really visible since the weight gain. Her spine and hips no longer protruded at that point. And, you could tell she was feeling better. She was healthy enough to wrestle out in the backyard with Cheyenne and Bailey. She got along with everyone in the household, dogs and cats both.

“In May 2013, Molly finally had surgery for spay/mammary gland removal. Once they started the surgery, scar tissue was found, suggesting that she was already spayed. I had already noticed the tip of her ear had been removed, but no one put 2 and 2 together at the time.  I finally realized it after she was gone.

“Two months after being rescued, Molly's overall health was remarkable, considering how she was when rescued. Molly's skin  condition, along with her thyroid problem, was under control. By this point, she was fully vetted. She was spry thing, bossing all the big male dogs around. And, she was the sweetest girl. She was even known to give kisses at times.

“In early 2016, Molly started having problems keeping weight on, and started drooling blood from her mouth. Also, elevated bloodwork levels were also indicating the early stages of renal failure.


“On 2/23/2016, she was sedated so the Vet could get a look in her mouth to determine what the source of the bleeding was. When they went to incubate her, that’s when they saw the massive growths on the back of her tongue, which were bleeding and infected. They were swollen to the point of affecting her drinking water. It didn’t affect her eating whatsoever. 

"After I got the call, I told them that I needed to say goodbye to her, and went up there. 


“So, to end her suffering, she was put down...  I had her cremated, and her ashes are here at my house. I knew she was going downhill prior to that day, and knew it was coming soon, just didn't expect it to happen that fast. 
“RIP sweet girl. I love you and will miss you.”

--- To comment, click below. ---


Rip -- the great guy

“Rip was a great guy, stubborn, hard headed when he wanted to do something, loving, a champion cuddler. I'm going to miss him for a long time.” -- Becky Dodge

901ripprofileAnyone who has ever given their heart to a dog knows that Becky Dodge has captured her pal perfectly in that quote.

She wrote this tribute to Rip on Tuesday while the tears were still fresh. This is both a message and a memorial to a great dog. Becky wrote:

“I wanted to let you know that today the lovely Rip died in his sleep.

“On Sunday, just over a week ago I had him at the vet for what I thought was only a bad cough. She did some x-rays and discovered at least two tumors in his lungs. I made the decision then, based on his age and the fact that the tumors were fairly well-grown not to attempt any extraordinary measures but to keep him as comfortable as long as possible. He came home and even as late as yesterday was doing a small amount of trotting around the back yard as he was following Hershey.

901riponcouch“Today when I returned from running an errand he came up to me while I was sitting on the couch and wanted some loving. After that he walked about 2 feet away and laid down on the carpet for what I thought was a nap. At that time I went into the kitchen to fix lunch, returning about 10 minutes later. I glanced over at Rip and noticed that something did not look right so I went over to him and discovered that he had stopped breathing. He had not made a sound and had not moved from where he went to sleep. 

“It's only 9 days since the diagnosis and he left with no apparent struggle. I guess he was ready, but I really hoped for more time.

“I'm going to really miss watching him and his constant harassment of Hershey - that never stopped, even last night he did what he usually would do - take Hershey's bed until forced to move to his own smaller one. He always had this really satisfied look when he did that as if to say ‘See, I can to make the big dog move.’ He enjoyed that so much, just as he really enjoyed trailing Hershey and nipping at his heels -- literally, I could hear his teeth snap together as they came within fractions of an inch of Hershey's heels.

901ripfirstfoto"I adopted him when he was 12 so he'd been here for almost 4 years. He was a lover, a snuggler on the couch who loved to lay with his head in my lap (the more to encourage me to love him). I'm going to miss that as well as hearing him bark -- just once at each mealtime -- to tell me to hurry the food up. A lovely, gentle man who was greatly loved.

“There are three pictures attached -- the third one is the first pic of Rip that I saw when you mentioned him in your column as he was looking for home.”

He found that home -- and a heart.

-- To comment on this wonderful dog who brought joy to a life, click below. --


Cisco, the Big, Black Dog Who Is Loved

803dianneciscoDianne Cole has used a phrase that many readers will want to use. She wrote this wonderfully expressive sentence to open her memorial honoring Cisco.
Throughout you will see photos of Cisco, his pals and the dog Dice -- not a replacement dog, but another Big, Black Dog taken into a home in honor of the Great Cisco.
 

Here are the details follwed by Dianne's tribute:

Cisco: March 3, 2001-July 6, 2015.  

Cisco was my heart dog!!  Any dog lover will understand this.  I had four dogs, three now that Cisco has cross the Bridge, and love every one of them, but Cisco was that one special dog that had my heart above all else.  He was a true ‘mama’s boy’ …never very far away from me when I was at home…almost always where he could at least keep an eye on me and even when he was outside he knew I was close by.   

Fourth of July weekend, 2002, my 9-year-old Lab mix, Shadow, died from a fast growing stomach cancer. Doc, my 16 year old long-haired dachshund was nearing the end of his life, so we adopted Lady, a year old Yellow Lab/Red Heeler from the Dallas SPCA. However, at his advanced age of 16, sweet Doc only wanted to sleep and eat so wasn’t much of a companion for sweet Lady who needed to be kept active.  Doc, at the age of 17 in the spring of 2003 passed in his sleep, and Lady was completely without a companion.  

 

I’m a firm believer in always having two dogs to keep each other company, therefore, Lady needed a companion.  I saw this beautiful black lab, Chris (as Cisco was known then), on the internet…He just pulled at me so I put in a call to 803ciscoleadspackthe Black Lab rescue in Ennis.  Chris was being fostered by a very nice couple in Ennis so my husband, Mike, and I took Lady to Ennis to meet Chris.  The two got along great and I made arrangements to go pick Chris up a couple of days later when all the adoption papers were filled out and approved.  

 

My Mom went with me to pick Chris up…what an adventure that was.  Mom and I would put Chris in one back door of the car and he would just go right out the other door until we realized we needed to shut one door.  After that he went right in, sat down and looked at us like, “Come on. I’m ready now.”  Once I got Chris home, Lady seemed to take a strong dislike to him…she liked him fine until he was on her turf and then she wanted NO part of him.  Also to make matters worse, my oldest son’s name is Chris and he was adamant that I couldn’t have a dog named Chris, so without making too much of a change I came up with the name Cisco…luckily, he adapted to it very quickly and it seemed to fit him.

 

Almost two weeks after bringing Cisco home, Lady was still not having any part of this new dog on her turf.  Lady slept with us and Cisco so wanted to sleep 803ciscoyoungon the bed too, but she would growl and snarl at him so he’d sleep on the floor on my side of the bed.  One night Lady was sleeping up by my shoulders and Cisco decided to carefully crawl up on the bed one leg at a time.  I was reading and watched the saga unfold…Lady was keeping a close eye on Cisco as he inched his way onto the bed.  After he was fully on the bed he proceeded to lay down by my feet and Lady lay down and went to sleep.  That was the moment when I realized that she had finally accepted him…when she didn’t chase him off the bed!  From that day on they were BFF’s, partners in crime…though they had their differences on occasion, for the most part they got along great. 

 

In 2003 Lady was two and Cisco had just turned one. They were a pair.  We lived in a manufactured home in Crandall at the time on several acres.   We had built a wheelchair ramp the previous year to assist my short legged Doc and installed a doggie door.  Lady and Cisco could go in and out as they pleased when we were at work, but we soon learned that we needed to shut the door between the kitchen and laundry room.  Before this realization hit, I can’t tell you how many times we came home from work to find throw pillows from the couch out in the back yard or sticks from outside laying in the living room.  Because we never could get grass to grow well, we would end up with a muddy yard when it rained so we’d lock the doggie door and the dogs had full access to the rest of the house without incident.  When the weather was nice the doggie door was open, the kitchen door was shut, but they could still get into the laundry room where they could stay warm or cool.

803ciscoolderWe moved into Mesquite in the spring of 2004 and that’s when I realized that Larry Powell and I were both from Texarkana, Texas, and had attended the same high school (he was a few years older than me though).  I read Larry’s column, “Pets and Their People”, every Saturday in the Dallas Morning News.  Larry and I became email friends and he actually featured me, Mike, Lady and Cisco in his “Pets and Their People” article.  In the spring of 2005 in our little house close to Eastfield College where I worked we had lots of squirrels and stray cats.  Cisco hated them all.  Both the cats and squirrels learned very quickly NOT to come in our backyard…the cats just stayed away and the squirrels would either cross on the power lines or run across the top of the house.  

Cisco did manage to catch a very brave squirrel that decided to cross on top of our 4 foot chain link fence one Saturday.  By this time Abby, my black lab mix that I bought in the Walmart parking lot Thanksgiving weekend 2004, had joined our family.  Lady, Abby, Cisco and I were sitting on our patio…Cisco was laying by my chair and in an instant he was across the backyard and leaped up to grab the poor, unsuspecting squirrel off the fence.  I was screaming and Lady and Abby were barking.  I managed to get Cisco to drop the squirrel, who managed to get back onto the fence and scamper off, but something tells me the squirrel did not survive his run-in with Cisco.

 

In 2006 we built a house in Heartland, Texas, where we are today.  Because it is a new subdivision south of Forney, off of I-20, there are no large trees, but that didn’t keep Cisco from walking around the backyard, looking up into the sky and barking at every bird that dared fly over “his” yard.  In the spring of 2012 four small dogs were dumped close to where I work at Mountain View College.  A good friend and I caught three of them very fast, but it took me 4-1/2 months to catch my Lil’ Bit.  I didn’t originally plan to keep Lil’ Bit, but after that length of time she had bonded with me so she joined our pack of three big lab mixes.  Even though Lil’ Bit only weighs 15 pounds and was just 7 months old according to my vet, she has always acted as big as the Labs and she and Cisco became great friends…often to be found cuddled up together.

Cisco was a “talker” and often carried on long conversations with his Daddy when Mike came home from work at night.  Mike would ask him how things were and he’d just woo-woo and growl his answers and look over at me to corroborate his story.  I accused him of being a tattle tale.  He’d talk to my Mom when she would come visit, but he never really carried on conversations with me…he was just my “shadow” and stayed close by at all times.

Cisco took care of his girls.  He was always the first one out the back door, announcing to the world…with his wonderful, deep bark… that he and his girls were on their way outside.  Mike liked to refer to the dogs as “the nosy neighbors” because they always liked to look through the fence into our neighbor’s backyards.   He and Lady always slept with us until Lady, at the ripe old age of 12, realized she could no longer jump up on the bed.  That freed up lots of space for Cisco, but he almost always slept right up next to me.  About a year ago he tried jumping on the bed one night and just couldn’t make so from then on he opted to sleep on a doggy bed down by my side.  Almost every night he would sit by the side of the bed until I loved on him and then he would lay down and go to sleep.  Every morning he would come into the bathroom and sit by me while I put my makeup on.  I’d wrap my arms around his big black neck and tell him how much I loved him…that always made him happy and he would be on his way.  

One Saturday in early April, 2015, I spent a lot of time outside with the dogs brushing their winter coats.  Cisco seemed to be fine, but early the following Monday morning I noticed that the fur on his back left leg was ruffled and after further inspection I found a rather large, liquid, squishy sack on the back of his leg.  I took him to the vet that very afternoon where Dr. Burt did a needle aspiration…he thought it was probably cancer, but couldn’t be sure until the results came back from the lab.  Unfortunately, the lab results came back with a diagnosis of mast cell cancer.  After much discussion, Dr. Burt, Mike and I decided that due to Cisco’s advanced age surgery wasn’t an option and, as Dr. Burt explained, Cisco was nearing his normal life span…13 for a 75 pound lab was OLD.  Our option was to make sure Cisco didn’t suffer and was happy.

 

Cisco was happy and in absolutely NO pain.  We started him on prednisone hoping to shrink the tumor…it did.  However, at the end of May his breathing became labored and I worried that he was suffering or that the cancer had spread to his chest.  Chest x-rays showed that his lungs were free of pneumonia and tumors.  Dr. Burt suspected that he had laryngeal paralysis which often occurs in older, large breed dogs…the larynx becomes paralyzed making it hard to breath or eat, but the only way to be sure was to anesthetize him and that just wasn’t an option…for a complete diagnosis or surgery.  At this point he still didn’t seem to be in any pain though maybe a bit uncomfortable.  He continued to eat well and always appeared happy… he KNEW he was loved.

We took a week’s vacation in June.  My Mom took care of the four dogs and they all did well.  On Saturday, July 4, 2015, Mike left to go to Houston and would not be home until Wednesday.  Cisco was his usual self that day.  Cisco LOVED to eat and always did a little “happy” dance when it was meal time.  He’d bounce on his two front paws from Abby’s bowl, over to Lady’s bowl and then over to his bowl.  Each dog had their “own” place to eat and Lady and Abby would stand in their place until I put their bowl down.  I always put Cisco’s bowl down last, but he’d always make sure his “girls” got their bowl first.  

 

That Sunday morning, July 5th, Cisco didn’t want to eat, but after a little coaxing and hand feeding he finally ate his breakfast and kept it all down.  By the time I got home from church that day at 11:30 a.m., the light was gone from his beautiful golden eyes.  He wouldn’t get up and when he did he’d stand in the middle of the room with his head down like he didn’t know where he was.  Most of the day he just lay by my chair while I cried.  I KNEW in my heart that he was letting me know it was time to for me to help him Cross the Bridge.  I cried all afternoon and Mike was devastated when he called from Houston that night…I told him it was time and I just didn’t think we could hold out till he got home on Wednesday.  Cisco wouldn’t eat Sunday night and drank very little water throughout the day.  I didn’t sleep much that night…I lay in bed crying while Cisco slept on his bed by my side.  I selfishly prayed that he’d cross the Bridge in his sleep so I wouldn’t have to make the decision to let him go.  I spent most of that night checking on him.

I stayed home Monday and called the vet’s office first thing to make the “dreaded” appointment.  I spent the day crying and just being with “my boy”.  I lay on the floor beside him, holding and stroking him…telling him what a good boy he had been and how much his daddy and I loved him…how much is Mam-Maw and Uncle Ricky loved him…how much Lady, Abby and Lil’ Bit loved him.  He was a Big, Black Dog (BBD) that never wanted for anything in his life once he came to live with us.  

 

Late that afternoon, Monday, July 6, 2015, my Mom came with me as moral support when I took Cisco for his final vet’s visit.  He was so weak Mom had to help me get him into the car.  Once in the backseat he seemed to rally…Cisco loved car rides…and I doubted myself…was I making the right decision for Cisco?  I sat on the floor with him at the vet’s office and loved him while Dr. Burt gave him the first shot to help him relax and go to sleep…Cisco knew he was loved.  From March 2015 to July he had lost 14 pounds though his eating had never diminished…the cancer was evidently inside his body was taking all the nutrients from his food.  Approximately 15 minutes later Dr. Burt administered the “final” shot and within seconds my precious boy crossed over The Bridge taking a huge part of my heart with him.  I LOVED him so much (still do). Dr. Burt was so wonderful and assured me that I had made the right decision…it was time. I sat with him long after he had crossed and leaving him there that day was the second hardest thing I had ever done…the first was having to “make” the decision to help him cross.  

In all my years of owning a pet, I had NEVER had to make THE decision…I was always fortunate enough that my beloved dogs and cats had crossed in their own time.  

 

Cisco was cremated and his ashes are now back at home with us where he
belongs. I still cry myself to sleep some nights, but try to
remember the good times…his big goofy grin; the way he’d saunter in front of me from room to room, but always turning to make sure I was behind him; his “happy” dance at meal times; standing in front of the TV so the remote wouldn’t work; how’d he come and sit by the bed at night and wait for me to love him and tell him “nite nite”; how he’d announce to the world that he and his girls were coming out; how he’d come sit by me each morning as I put my makeup on…so many wonderful memories of the BBD, Cisco,

803diceonchair803usethisdiceBecause of this wonderful BBD, Cisco, I have decided that I will always adopt/rescue a BIG, BLACK DOG.  No dog can EVER replace my sweet Cisco, but in his honor, and since I first began writing this tribute to my sweet boy, we recently “rescued” a BBD that needed to be re-homed.  Dice, is a one year old, Black Lab mix…mixed with what we don’t know for sure, but I suspect there is some Great Dane and Greyhound in her bloodline…it really doesn’t matter to us what she is mixed with…we love her. [LARRY ASIDE: You may have seen that photo on the left in emails appealing for adoptors or on Readlarrypowell.com when the dog needed a home. Yes, as you can see, Dice adjusted from riding in a car to enjoying her spot on the couch. Dianne says Dice's eyes are so black they don't show up in pictures!]

I know in my heart that Cisco is now running happy and carefree and that he sent Dice to us.  He’s happy knowing that we are giving another BBD a good home…a good, loving home like he had with us for 12 wonderful years.  Cisco, wherever you are, know that Mommy and Daddy loved you and will always love you sweet boy!  The house is seems emptier and quieter with you gone.  You are missed more than you will ever know!

 

--- To leave a comment about this wonderful tribute, click below. ---


Griffin -- The Cat Who Loved Christmas

629griffinundertree2003

Our big cat Griffin -- big in heart, big in substance -- helped make our house a home from early in the summer of 2003 until last Friday -- about 10:30 a.m. on 629griffinlittleatchristmasJune 26. We’re not exact on when we got him, but we know pretty close to the time his heart stopped.
Ours kind of stopped a little bit, too.
He’d been with us longer than we went to public school. And, yet, it felt way too early when he left, the victim of something that wrecked his kidneys and made a happy cat so unhappy, so sick. One of our cats, Cyril, was 25 when he died. Others have been well into their teenage years. Griffin’s kidney’s simply didn’t want to go on.

629griffininbasketMy tenderheartspouse Martha has always had an extraordinary relationship with our animals. She has named most of our cats and dogs. I bring that up because Griffin’s complete name is “Griffin Oliver Powell.” The monogram on his handkerchiefs and dress shirts was “GOP.” But he was an independent, I hasten to add. Martha called him “Baby G” and  “Biggie G,”  depending on their moods. I loved to pick 629griffinwideup his giant bulk, turn him over and rub his pristine white tummy coat -- he had a big purr. I miss hearing it, feeling it vibrate under my hands.
At this point, I’m turning the story of Griffin over to my sweetspouse Martha. She had the collection of most of these photographs. And she remembers so many things about her big orange cat -- we once took him to the vet’s office in his green traveling carrier. The vet’s assistant bent down to pick it up by the handle and 629griffinyawnactionshotnearly yanked her arm out of the socket. “What’s in this?” she asked, putting it back down.
For a while, we thought we might need to get an Exotic Animal Permit for him, but he never quite made it to Bengal Tiger size.
Here are my literatespouse’s thoughts about Griffin, starting with the day we were helping prepare her late Mom’s home for sale in 2002. There’d been a rainstorm, leaving the neighborhood grass wet.
Martha recalls: “Stray cats were not actually plentiful in that neighborhood where I had grown up, but here he came, strolling into the open garage. He was orange and white and friendly and looked about 10 weeks old.

“We took him around to a few neighbors who, as neighbors so often do, swore they had never seen him before. And so we brought him home and he became 629griffinannabellechristmasour cat and immediately infected our 1-year-old kitten, Annabelle Bob, with ringworm. [LARRY ASIDE: I’ll interrupt to note that the 2003 photo of the two cats looking at a snowy day from beneath the Christmas tree demonstrates that Annabelle Bob bore no ill will over the ringworm incident.]


“We got through that episode, they bonded within their shared confinement, and remained friendly the rest of their lives. I do not recall Griffin being much of a fireball as a kitten or young cat. Griffin was always pretty good natured and somewhat reserved, but then he never had much of a shot at my lap because the year before Griffin arrived, our cat, Poirot, had inherited that spot from Bob, my original cat, and guarded it zealously. 

“Griffin really came into his own when his first Christmas rolled around. He loved Christmas trees. At first he wanted to climb inside them, but eventually gave that 628griffinkeepschairwarmup for napping underneath. You could reliably find him under every Christmas tree we had for the rest of his 12 Christmases. Real or artificial - whatever crazy tree idea I could come up with - he appreciated it and slept under or beside it the whole holiday season. 
“He was an unobtrusive cat, even though he was physically quite large. Not just chubby - he was what they mean when they say ‘big-boned.’ Big old head, long and tall. And chubby. He didn’t seek out a lot of petting, but petting was always welcome. 

“He liked to sit on part of the kitchen counter within about 3 feet of the refrigerator door. Whenever Larry was getting something out of the refrigerator, Griffin would reach out with a claw from one paw and hook it right into to Larry’s spare tire. This was to indicate, ‘I need a treat.’ And Larry would give Griffy a treat when Larry stopped yelping from the puncture. This went on for years - I watched him train 628griffintwinklelightsLarry, and yet somehow Larry was always surprised each time he got ‘treat tagged’ by Griffin.

“Griffin’s vet gave him about a year to live after he was diagnosed with kidney failure last year, and I think Baby G felt OK most of the time -- although he never liked the K/D (cat food) very much -- he was accustomed to wet food mixed with a different, not-quite-as-healthy variety. And no more treat tagging. He only began to drop weight two or three weeks before he died. He began to sleep about 30 hours a day instead of 23. We knew time was running out but when it did run out, he let us know. Griffin was virtually silent and I never heard him make a dozen sounds in his life until last week, when the kidney failure made him feel so ill, and so the first day he looked up at me and began to cry, I took him to the vet. 

“I miss him now, in June, but I think I will miss him most at Christmas.”

                              --- 
 629griffinartcart

Here are a few more photos from the "Griffin Gallery." That's an "art shot" Martha took a few years ago.
Then there's the photo of Griffin and Martha enjoying a "nod off" on the couch.
That puzzled dog is Baby Jane Doe, our Shepherd mix who was astonished to find she could not get into her security kennel because Griffin had gone in to nap.
The last one shows Griffy in one of his favorite sleeping poses -- I'd doctored the photo so he'd be wearing reindeer antlers. I wasn't sure he'd like the photo. But he did like that sleeping position. I didn't put him there -- you'd often find him draped across the back of the chair.

629griffinnar

629griffininbabyjanecage

629griffinreindeer

 

--- To comment, click below. ---  


Requiem for a Noble Dog

[Our pal Andy Fisher, who serves as the Readlarrypowell.com Northeast Correspondent in Denville, N.J., has written this wonderful tribute. He described it as “a few words and some pictures” about Bella. And that headline, “Requiem for a Noble Dog,” is Andy’s. Here’s the story by Andy Fisher.]

325BELLADANCINUSETHISONEBella joined our household a little over a year ago, while we were mourning the loss of Barley, a handsome Husky/retriever who had been rescued by my stepson Ian, using his First Communion money. Barley had been with him and his mom for 15 years, and had even chaperoned Annie's and my first date. 

We had gone to the pet-supply store for cat food on a Saturday, when our local Eleventh Hour Animal Rescue group was holding an adoption session.  Bella was in a cage at the back of the adoption area; she was old and plain and no one was looking at her -- except Annie, who made eye contact.  

325BELLAANNIEAs Annie turned to walk away, Bella put her head down as if to say, "You were my last hope..."  According to her backstory, she was 11 years old; had been raised from a pup in North Carolina; her family had gotten a puppy for Christmas; and on the day after Christmas, she had been dumped in a "kill" shelter. 

"I can't get that dog off my mind," Annie kept saying for the rest of the day.  By early the next week, Bella was ours.  She arrived shell-shocked and fearful.  Annie gave her a small squeaky toy, and for days, Bella walked around with it in her mouth, as if to say, "I never had anything, and I'm not going to let this go."  

Soon, she realized that she had picked a new family that would give her anything 325bellagroomershe wanted or needed.  She loved hearing "Bella's story," about how she had come to live with Mommy and Daddy, and we never got tired of telling her the story as she was about to go to sleep at night.  

We were never really certain what breeds were represented in her heritage; she was listed as "flat-coated retriever" on one document, "cocker/chow" on another.  She had a cocker's muzzle and high spirits, but her floppy ears were smaller than a cocker's, and she was larger than a cocker and much larger than a chow.  Whatever her background, she was truly endearing, although she was very shy, even with Ian.  She would back away from those who tried to pet her, although when they walked away, she would follow them.  

Her first visit to Kim Sperun, her groomer at Back of the Bike Pet Grooming in nearby Randolph, NJ, started hesitatingly, but a couple of treats quickly won her over, and soon she had changed from, "Daddy, I want to go home," to "Don't let the door hit you on the way out..." and when I came back to pick her up, she had a big smile on her face and looked like a million dollars.  

325bellaONEIt became clear over time that she was battling some serious neurological issues, always a concern when one adopts an elderly pet.  She became more and more unsteady as she made her way down the front stairs for her walks, and the walks became shorter and shorter.  

I developed a technique of picking her up with both arms like a forklift, and sometimes I would carry her around like that; I couldn't see the expression on her face, but Annie took a picture that showed her with a big smile.  

We never once heard her bark, except when she was sleeping and dreaming!  Her feet would start running, and we could only imagine her dreaming about being a puppy again, dashing 325BELLADADDYWEBSTERacross some long-forgotten field and barking with joy.

Bella was only with us for a year; the vet suspected a brain tumor, and eventually she began suffering some serious falls and her vision and hearing were clearly compromised.  But in her short time as a cherished family member, she taught us patience, appreciation, forgiveness, and unconditional love.  

She never failed to be thrilled when Annie came through the door after work at the end of the day, and she always slept on the floor by the head of the bed, on my side.  

She was my first dog, but she will not be my last.  

--- To comment, click below. ---


Big Daddy, Big Heart, Big Presence...

[LARRY NOTE: It was by chance that I spotted a picture and a tribute to a wonderful dog. I accidentally clicked on a Facebook site and saw this photo of Big Daddy with a simple  3-line explanation  I wrote to Chérie King. You’ll see the heart and you'll see the reason for this wonderful tribute.]

Chérie King’s story of Big Daddy is one of a very happy and accidental encounter  131prayersbigdaddy15with a long-lasting love and household bonding. It began as a “good deed” and evolved into something with a surprise and something much more special -- a love that bonded hearts. Here’s her story:
“We adopted Big Daddy back before Facebook was much of a thing. At the time, rescuers in the DFW Area used (and still use) a Yahoo group called DFW Cares. This listers consist of shelter workers who post animals that need rescue and rescuers and their team members who watch for animals they want to rescue.

“Right around that time, there had been a rash of posts by shelter workers about families that had come in to surrender their 14-years-old family pet, many who then asked to look at puppies while they were there. This is by no means unusual, but there had been 3 or 4 of these within that month, and I was so angry at these people, and so heartbroken for the dogs that had been dumped, that I just couldn't take it anymore. 
“As it happens, Billy and I had just gotten a special permit from the city of Fort /Worth to have more than 3 dogs. We had recently tried to adopt a deaf/blind collie named Belle and had had to return her to her rescuer because our Great Dane, Lola, was being mean to Belle. Lola was already getting up in years, so we thought we'd like to try again to adopt Belle at a later date, if Lola were to pass.
“Add those two circumstances together, and Billy and I decided that, in the meantime, we wanted to adopt a senior dog from a shelter. First and foremost, we would be saving an old dog that had been abandoned by its family, but also it would be a relatively short term commitment, leaving open the possibility that we would still have room for Belle when and if the time came. We envisioned an arthritic old dog, curled up taking a nap in a comfy orthopedic dog bed next to the sofa.

“So, we started watching the posts of senior dogs at area shelters, and it wasn't long before Billy zeroed in on Big Daddy. I feel certain it was those soulful eyes that did it.

“I called the shelter and talked to them about this sad looking Lab. They told me he would be in adoptions the following day, but would only be allowed 1 day in adoptions because ‘no one ever adopts the seniors.’ If he wasn't adopted in that one day (it happened to be a Friday), he would likely be euthanized the following morning due to lack of space. I waited until 1 hour before closing and called again to check on his status. He had not been adopted, and was already on the euth list for Sat morning, so I told them I was coming to get him, and headed that way.

“When I arrived, he was sitting bolt upright in his cold, damp indoor/outdoor pen (it was a rainy day in very early January), as if his person should be arriving any minute to take him home. He had a pinch collar on, but no tags. I had the shelter attendant get me a leash, and took him out for a walk. He pulled hard at the leash (that explains the pinch collar, I thought), but it was obvious that his front legs were doing all the work, as his back legs were noticeably gimpy. And he was VERY bow-legged.

“I brought him home, and Billy fell instantly in love. We took him to our vet the next morning, and our vet gave him a thorough exam, after which she said, ‘Well, he's a great dog, but.......he's only about 2 years old.’

“What the.....????? Well, apparently the shelter staff looked no further than his gimpy walk when deciding he was a senior. Instead of being a sedate old dog, he was a typical young Lab, into EVERYTHING, and had apparently tested the patience of his previous people one time too many. Instead of the old, lazy, napping, short-term-commitment dog we had envisioned, we got an energetic, destructive dog with separation anxiety. :-0

“Within the first year of having him, he tore the ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments) in both back legs (the first happened while chasing a thrown tennis ball), requiring two very expensive TPLO surgeries, meaning his legs were now held together with metal plates and screws. (We called them his million dollar legs). His case was so extreme that the surgeon who did his surgery used him as a teaching case, and gave presentations on Big Daddy's surgery at several veterinary conferences. 

“He ate so many things that he shouldn't have during those early years -- --including 18 entire chicken thighs, bones and all, that Billy had boiled for one of our other dogs that was sick at the time, and had dumped into the sink to cool; Big Daddy ate them out of the sink! All 18! Bones and all!) -- that I when I would call my vet on her cell, she would answer with ‘What did Big Daddy eat this time?’

“We initially tried to name him Riley (when we still thought he was a senior), as in ‘you're living the life of Riley now’ but after we'd had him a few days, Billy said ‘You know, there's a guy in our warehouse at work that walks just like that. We call him Big Daddy.’ And instantly we knew his name was meant to be Big Daddy. 

“He eventually did become the old, arthritic dog curled up in his comfy dog bed that we had originally envisioned, but he never lost his zest for life. He was game for anything, even right up to the end, when his body could no longer carry through for him."
202bigdaddy[That's a copy of the Facebook tribute that caught the eye of Readlarrypowell.com. Majestic in simplicity.]

Chérie's story of Big Daddy's life continues:
“He was the glue that held our 6-dog / 2-person household together. He was loving to all, and he was brave. Though he was a lover, not a fighter, he put himself in harm's way, more than once, to protect a fellow pack member. Whenever he sensed tension between 2 of our dogs, he would insert himself in between them, facing the aggressor, and protecting the buddy who was at risk of being hurt. He actively worked to dissipate tension and restore calm in the pack.  Though he was no alpha dog, not in the least, we have realized since his passing that he was the leader. We never knew that about him. He was modest like that. When my husband arrived home the first day he had gone to work after Big Daddy died, he was shocked when there were no dogs barking and greeting him at the door. It was as if the other dogs didn't know it was time to greet him without Big Daddy's example. 

“And one of our dogs, Bijou, a Catahoula, her bark has sounded entirely different since Big Daddy died; far less confident, and more tentative. It confused the heck out of us the first couple times she barked after Big Daddy's passing. ‘Who was that?’ We looked at each other in puzzlement. It's been a week now, and she still has her ‘new’ bark. Our deaf and blind (from birth) dog WhoDat has been walking around the house whining, and sometimes barking, looking for his missing buddy. So, what wasn't apparent when he lived has become apparent now that he's gone: he was the center of the household. With his boundless capacity for love, his endless excitement about everyday life, and his quiet bravery, his soulful eyes, and his noble demeanor, he lived up to the title we bestowed on him: He was our Elder Statesman.

 

Big Daddy.

Born a dog. 

Died a gentleman. 

1/1/2002 -1/24/2015


-- Chérie"

--- To comment, click below. ---