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Monday, April 11, 2016

Grief Has No Timetable

It's been five weeks since we said goodbye to our Tinker, but at times it feels like it just happened yesterday. Both of us have ups and downs in remembering good times, bad times, missing him and our Virginia, and the pain and sadness just doesn't want to go away. Sure, there is laughter and smiles, but it's a rough emotional Olympics.

Getting a new dog wouldn't relieve the pain. It apparently works for some people, but not the two of us. It's not like stitching up a wound. Right now that wound is open and painful. Sure, there are things we can do outside of the house that we haven't been able to in years. But coming home and not being greeted by "Mr Happy Go Lucky" and getting licked on the nose leaves a large hole in our lives.

We pet and hug and play with every dog we come across where we live and anywhere else we run into a person with a dog...or a dog with a person.

Tinker's ashes and locks of hair sit in a box within a bag on our fireplace mantle. We haven't touched it since we brought it home about a month ago. We don't want to deal with it. There are some things we have donated to rescue people we know, but the gate to the front door still stands at attention. All of the beds and several of Tinker's plush buddies still sit stacked on the living room floor waiting for when we will be able to move them. We'll keep some and donate some. It's doubtful that any will get tossed out.

The bed is gone from our room. That was one of the first things we were able to do early on, as well as moving the downstairs beds so they were no longer trip hazards. His big crate and his travel crate still sit near the living room steps to the bottom floor.

His picture (above) is still the wallpaper on our desktop computer. Seeing him makes me happy and sad all in the same breath. Speaking of breath, I miss that distinctive Tinkie breath. A musky odor that some would find unpleasant, but to us it was like lavender or berries; especially when you smelled it while he was licking your nose.

I feel like a train wreck; sad, unhappy, anxious...and C has her issues with her grief. When we lost Virginia it hurt like hell, but we had Tinker to walk, hug, kiss, play with and distract us. Now, there is no furry little one waiting around to ease our pain. I do find some temporary relief from a little dog that knows what I need. I re-injured my back right before we lost Tink and so I have been going for PT. The owner has a sweet little Sheltie, who just knows. When I pet her, while coming or going, she licks me on the nose like our boy did. If that's not a message I don't know what is.

We miss you so much Tinkie. We hope you and Virginia are running and playing, and feeling so good. We <3 you both.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sweet Sixteen and a Final Goodbye

This past year has not been an easy one. As you may remember, Tinker injured a disc in his neck in May of 2014, which required a month of crate rest and treatment with a steroid. We were relieved that he made it through that month without undue compromise to overall function or muscle mass. However, he was having more issues possibly related to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, including kidney disease and GI problems, and we began administering daily subcutaneous fluid at home.

In May of 2015, Tinker began to have more trouble staying on his feet. His balance was shaky, and he would bump into the furniture as he walked around the room. We put soft bedding and barricades around the house as cushions. Sometimes he couldn't get into the proper position to take water and would need assistance. In an attempt to offset pain or stiffness, we began a weekly regimen of laser therapy and acupuncture. While it helped, some of his strength and coordination problems were rooted in his eating and digestion issues. He was still choosy as to what he wanted to eat. He was having difficulty processing and absorbing nutrients in the food he ate and started losing weight.

As with an aging person, Tinker was on a number of pills and supplements and we had to manage the delicate balance of ensuring that they were effective, were properly timed and none interacted. We tried one food, fiber, and antibiotic after another in the hopes we would find the magic elixir to stem the tide. But Tink continued to lose weight and muscle mass, especially in his hind quarters. But he was still happy. He was interactive, he knew who we were and how much we loved him and he continued to fight.

If he flopped on his behind, he would use his legs to push himself back up. Finally, this past Fall into Winter, our vet recommended one particular prescription dry kibble to mix with the cooked chicken we gave him. It was magic; Tinker loved it and his digestion was better because we had also finally hit the semi-jackpot to keep his digestion in balance by using Tylan powder. He was eating more consistently and his coat was good, but he still couldn't absorb as much of the nutrients as we would have liked. While it would change nothing to put him through diagnostic testing for a definitive diagnosis, it seemed more and more likely that what we were seeing was some form of intestinal cancer or a serious malabsorption that was causing Tinker's biggest problems.

While he began to need help with everything he did, Tinker was still a lover. He was responsive and he loved when we held him or he slept on our laps. He also began to curl up in bed with us. That was something he hadn’t done in years, partially because we didn't want to take the chance of him jumping off the bed since his disc injury back in 2005. We also dug out the cart and rear harness we had used following his injury 11 years prior… so that he could walk around the house and outside. No matter what, Tink still loved going outside, sniffing around, seeing his friends...basically, just being a dog.

He was still the amazing boy he always was. In 2015, we hadn't dared to hope he might still have been with us at the end of the summer…. yet there he was by our side as we rang in New Year’s 2016. And on February 12, he turned 16-years old. With all he had been through - his back injury, two different attacks by off-leash dogs, three different tick-borne diseases...and he was sweet 16. We were happy, but we also knew we were coming to the end of the road.

They say a dog will tell you when it's time. And when the first week of March rolled around, we knew it was time. Tink was panting more heavily than normal with less exertion, and it went on for longer than normal. He couldn't walk more than a step without flopping, and he was unable to get himself up. He was getting increasingly frustrated by not being able to do for himself, and it was heartbreaking to see. He wasn't able to be a dog any more. And no one had been better at being a dog than him.

So as we wept, on March 6 he rejoined his big sister Virginia, who he loved so much. It was so hard to let him go, but after all he has meant to us and taught us and had done for our souls, we had to be sure he wouldn't suffer.

Until we meet again, our sweet boy. Thank you for the amazing ride.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

They Say It's Your 15th Birthday

It's hard to believe that it has been one year since the last time we posted on Tinker's blog, but it's a very Happy 15th Birthday in our household today. If you have read the entries in this blog you know that Tinker has been through a lot in the nearly 11 years we've had him. One thing that has never changed during that time - he is the sweetest, funniest dog we have ever met.

The last year has not been without its trials and tribulations for our knight in shining tricolor. He has been battling a GI bleed and kidney disease, one or both which may have been brought on by Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Thankfully, the the kidney disease has not attacked as aggressively as it did with our Virginia.

Tinker tweaked his neck pretty badly last May and has been getting cold laser treatment once a week at our vet's office. Needless to say, he's not so happy going there any more. He didn't used to mind it. Of course, all the front office and tech staff love to see him. As a matter of fact they named him pet of the month for January.

Like a lot of aging people, Tinker is on a daily array of medications, sub-q fluids, and  sometimes it's a day long siege to get him to eat enough food. And if you have a Beagle, you know just how crazy that is. He's gone from eating anything and everything to "...let's see what's on the menu today. I'll have this, some of that, and I think I won't eat anything until the middle of the afternoon."

Despite that, he still has a very good quality of life. He wakes up happy and ready to go. He still does "zoomies", which for a dog with spinal issues, can be quite chaotic. His caboose gets a little out of control, shifting from side to side as he romps. He loves to see his buddies Austin, Lili and Lulu on his walks outside, and except for rain, he's willing to go out in any weather. It doesn't matter how cold or hot it might be.

He still licks us on the nose on an almost daily basis - there is no higher compliment from him - and snuggles with his stuffed animals in one of his (what seems like) 400 beds.

Tinker is a total joy, he brightens our lives every day with his antics, his greetings when we come home, and his outlook on life. We are blessed for every moment we have with him.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy 14th Birthday To Our Wonder Boy

Every superhero needs a cape.

The past few years have been a kind of crazy, roller coaster ride of highs and lows, pretty much like everyone else's life. But the one constant has been the utter joy and happiness brought to us by a most special 21 pound (on a good day) Beagle/Jack Russell Mix.

Our Tinker is the most amazing dog. He has been with us for nearly 10 years, and today he turns 14. There are no words that could possibly convey the love we have for him or the unconditional love he has shown towards us. One of the best things about an average day is his enthusiastic greeting when one of us arrives home. There he is, waiting near the top of the stairs, or laying in one of the array of 4 beds/crate pads he has to choose from.

Though his hearing isn't what it once was, his eyes know his people. He leaps up and runs around as we reach through the railing at the top of the stairs and pet him. The highest compliment is when he licks you right on the nose.  He does little circular zoomies and joyfully dives in the bed nearest the stairs or runs over to one of us to give notice that the other has arrived home.

While he has his day-to-day physical issues that come with age, he's still as happy as can be when he wakes up in the morning and starts to move about the bedroom hoping to wake us to take him for a walk. He even loves to walk outside despite this cold, snowy winter. He loves to get treats out of his kongs and has recently picked up a new habit of taking a lap through the narrow space behind the couch and the wall. Sometimes he'll change his route to counter clockwise, just to keep us on our toes. No matter which it is, we laugh each and every time he does it.

If you've read this blog or know us personally, you know that in 2005 Tinker ruptured a disk in his back. He went through surgery, rehab, used a cart to get around, and then recovered and walked on his own again. He's been attacked twice by large dogs that left him with bad injuries which have, thankfully, healed well. And our Energizer bunny keeps on trucking.

He's become a little more shy around some dogs because of the bite incidents, and he no longer likes going to the vet due to all the poking and prodding, but he's just as stoic as his sister Virginia was.  When she passed in the Fall of 2012, Tinker had to find his own voice. While they were together, VA was the leader of the pack and Tinker doted on her and was happy to follow along. But once she was gone, after a period of time when it seemed he genuinely missed her, he adapted fairly quickly and became the king of his castle.

We've given serious thought to getting him a new pal,  since he loves other dogs.  But given his increasingly fragile state and his age, for now we think it best to keep him safe and happy with the status quo and with all of our attention.

With the amount of love he gives, it's like we have 2 dogs anyway.  Happy Birthday to our sweet Boo and long may you run.  We love you like crazy and are inspired by your spirit.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy 9th Gotcha Day Tinker...and Some Catching Up to Do

Our handsome boy
It's hard to believe that it has been over two years since I wrote anything on Tinker's blog. Especially in the last year and a half. There has been much going on - good, bad, and ugly.

First and foremost, if you don't already know from following Beagles-on-the-Web, Tinker lost his best pal, his big sister Virginia.  Our hearts have all been broken since we lost her to kidney disease this past September 27.  It had been a rough year in general with taking care of her and trying to give Tinker as much attention as possible.

I won't go into more detail here about Virginia's up and down 2012, but you can read more about it on my baseball blog. The "Sky is Crying" is all about our beloved VA.

As for Tinker, he turned 13 this past February 12. He is still as funny as ever and has now found his own voice.  For 8-1/2 years, Virginia was the straw that stirred the drink. Whatever she did, wherever she was, that's where Tinker wanted to be. When VA was hospitalized in March, 2012, Tinker was extremely depressed. He would lay in his dog bed and had lost his spunk. But he was back to his old self when VA returned from her 4-day stay at AERA, the specialty animal hospital.

Both dogs were treated for Lyme and/or Ehrlichia over the years, but in September, 2011 we also found out they had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), a tick-borne disease that is uncommon in the northeast. The way we found out they were infected was simply terrifying.

We were on vacation with family in North Carolina and took Virginia and Tinker for a walk. VA was hesitant to go down the darkened street. We encouraged her and our walk continued. Suddenly a Golden Retriever came running off-leash towards us. I put my hand up to try to grab the dog or at the very least keep it back. This dog, like most Goldens, was goofy and ran back to its owner and we proceeded with our walk.

The next night, which came after our first full day on vacation, we walked up the street again. And this time through the darkness we could see the shadow of a dog charging at us coming from the same direction as the night before.  But this time we could tell by the shape that it was not the same dog. As the dog approached, we could make out the hulking form of a huge, aggressive Rottweiler mix and we yelled at it to "Go home!" It didn't.

I attempted to grab at the dog but missed...  and suddenly the night's silence was broken by Tinker's screams. The dog had latched right onto him! The owner ran across the street, calling her, and at some point the dog let go. C instinctively threw herself down on Tinker until they took the dog away. I scooped him up and the four of us ran down the street. What seemed like hours actually took place in a matter of seconds.

Tinker had bites in several places and I could feel the blood seeping onto my shirt as I held him. It took many frantic phone calls until we could find a vet that was willing to meet us at their office late on a holiday night, but we ended up at Roanoke Island Animal Clinic at around Midnight. First, Doctor Layng met us and later the practice owner, Dr. Grossman, came in.

The worst wound on Tinker was what looked like a simple dime sized hole, but with a pen like object, Dr. Grossman showed us that the wound under the fur went several inches in each direction. It was the type of wound that happens when a dog has latched onto and shaken another dog  during an attack.

Pre-surgery bloodwork showed signs of anemia...which turned out to be RMSF. The doctors did a fantastic job of patching our boy up and put him on Doxycycline for the tick-born disease. He stayed at the vet's for a couple of days, and then he was back with us at the vacation home, where he began eating normally. Both dogs had started avoiding their food in May - apparently because of the effects of the RMSF - not something they test for in the northeast.

Sure enough, when we got home we had VA tested and she had RMSF as well. We realized they could have had the infection in their system for some time and for whatever reason, it was no longer dormant.

Things went downhill from there for VA. She was diagnosed with kidney disease in December and we spent the next year taking care of her and keeping her feeling as good as possible.

Our little girl in happier times.
Now we have a dilemma. Tinker is 13, but he could use a pal. We could use a little time to breathe. Not just from VA's loss, but other things that have taken place in the past year-plus. Right now we are just enjoying our boy, who despite now also being on thyroid meds and being treated for possible GI issues, is still Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky for the most part. After all the poking and prodding over the years, he's not so happy to go to the vet's anymore and he avoids some big female dogs since those were the gender that attacked him both times.

But he still wakes up every morning happy as can be. He comes to both sides of the bed in the morning to get good morning pets and can't wait to go out for his morning walk. He sleeps a little more than he used to, and his hearing has diminished a bit, but all in all he is still the same wonderful, nose licking, silly boy he's always been.

Happy Gotcha Day Tinker! (aka Boo Boo).

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Friday, February 18, 2011

6 Years? Really?

Six years ago today...on this very day...Friday, February 18 (2005), Tinker first showed signs of what was a blown disc in his back. It was probably around this same time at night we were at the emergency hospital being assured that it was just muscular and sent home with steroids and a muscle relaxant.

Cutting to the chase, we ended up back in the hospital the next night and Tinker had his surgery the following Wednesday. Months of rehab followed and in October Tinker was back walking on all fours without the aid of a cart or harness. That's our boy.

Through it all he has always been the same happy go lucky dude that he was from day one.

We love you Tinker! :)

And we are thankful that this blog has been helpful to so many people looking for answers about IVDD, and searching for resources and a good outcome. We started it really as just a placeholder for our own thoughts, never imagining how many people would read it. We thank you for all your kind words through the years and Tinker thanks you for your support as always.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, That'll Be 4 Teeth Please

Saturday, February 12 was our Tinker boy's 11th birthday. We couldn't really do anything special for him because he was not too with it.

On Friday, Tink went to the vet to have a broken canine tooth pulled and to get his first dental. Ever since his back surgery, we've put off having him put under for fear of the possible neurological affect the anesthesia might have. But, a broken tooth can allow bacteria to get into the bloodstream... so it was time to get it done.

While he was under, they found the canine tooth on the opposite side had been shaved down on one side, causing the root to be exposed. Make that two teeth pulled.

But wait...the two small teeth behind the canines had no support with the big guys gone, so they had to come out too. Our poor little man had four teeth pulled!

We learned something fascinating, too. No stitches and no putting pressure on where the teeth were pulled. They actually pack the areas with dissolvable foam. Who knew?

Since we didn't want to put Tinker on Rimadyl or Deramaxx (we are well aware of the dangers), they gave him a shot of an long-acting (opiate) pain killer that lasts 3-4 days. Between that and the anesthesia... it was stupor city for our super hero.

Needless to say, having only one dog in the house from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday was beyond weird... especially since the gates blocking the up and down stairs didn't need to be put up. We've always joked that Tinker loves Virginia and Virginia tolerates Tinker. But even Virginia was showing signs of wondering what was up in the afternoon. She was more restless than usual, as if she might be wondering, "Where's that guy who keeps licking my head?"

We picked Tink up at the vet around 4 in the afternoon, after they had observed him for several hours. He came running right up to us, his usual happy self. That lasted about two minutes and then he was back in a fog.

Each time he would wake up from a nap on Saturday, he wasn't quite "there" right away. Being true to his Beagle nature, he did have his appetite though.

But thankfully his fog has lifted and our now 11-year-old boy is back home where he belongs. :) We haven't gotten any of his complimentary nose licks (our nose, his tongue), but he has given us a couple of hand baths.

Thankfully it doesn't affect his chewing since the front and back teeth are responsible for that, but it's kind of hard to gnaw on a soft rubber Kong bone without the canines. It's also good he isn't out seeking prey since they would be needed for that too. :)

Today, Sunday, he's about 90% back to normal. From Friday night until this morning, he didn't want to go for walks and was kind of stumbling when he walked around the house. His mouth is still a little swollen- you can see it on the bridge of his nose- but it's much better than two days ago.

One thing we noticed right away is the disappearance of something we've taken to refer to as "Boo breath" (Based on his nicknames "Boo" and "Boo Boo"). Tinker always had a distinctive mouth odor that wasn't bad, but kind of distinctive. You always knew when he was licking something or someone, because you could smell it. The smell is gone and replaced with a nice fresh scent. We have to admit that in a weird way we will miss it... but we're happy he has clean teeth and the baddies were removed. :) Happy birthday, little man. We love you!!

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's a Gotcha Kind of Month

April is a very busy time in our household. A birthday, our anniversary, and a couple of "Gotcha" days. For those of you that don't know, the Gotcha day marks the day you adopted (or "got") your dog and/or cat (what are those?) from a rescue or shelter. (It doesn't count if you bought your dog from a pet store... but that's a discussion for another day.)

Last Tuesday, April 20, was Virginia's Gotcha day. Incredibly, it has been 10 years since our little girl came into our lives. It's been a decade of wonderful times. Though she may be 11 years old now, she's still as nutty as ever, doing rollies on her back every night after dinner. She still does puppy zoomies around the room, flies up a flight of stairs, and is as "Beaglie" as ever... translation: very food motivated.

The nicknames she goes by these days are "Little Girl", "VA", "Sweet Pea", "Puddin'", "Punkin", "Munchkin", "Miss Beagaloo" and a few hundred other variations (no one ever said we weren't nuts).

She does have some issues, namely a sensitive stomach and her hearing is not what it used to be. But she can still break into a refrigerator like nobody's business and she is still our puppy.

Today, April 29, marks six years of a house full of Tinker. Hard to believe. Not that it is six years already, but that it hasn't been longer. Tink seems like he's been here forever. We can't remember the time before he was here and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Right now, he's squealing like a pig Tink to come downstairs. (We still do not let him do stairs himself- we serve as his personal sherpa to keep his back in as good a shape as possible). He's one nutty, fun loving dude. I don't think there's a happier, more upbeat dog (or person for that matter) on the planet.

Every day is a great day for Tinker, even those days when his back gets a little stiff. He's 10 years old, going on 2 months. And he is overjoyed at this moment to finally be downstairs and licking his sister's ears (a daily ritual).

The nicknames he goes by these days are "Boo" (evolved from Tinker Boo), "Boobadeaux" (that's his Cajun name...no, we're not Cajun), "Billy Joe Boobadeaux" (I told you we were nuts), "Boo Boo" (seems to be a theme here), "Mr. Boy", and of course, he will aways be "The Dude".

These two monkeys enrich our lives every day and in so many ways. They are fun, stress relieving little kids with fur, and just a joy to be around. We couldn't love two animals more than we love them (maybe more than some relatives, too).

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

There's nothing like a chew

We present a video documentary of a Beagle boy
and his treat filled kong.

Starring Tinker as the Beagle boy

Co Starring Virginia as the sleeping Beagle girl

Director's note - The noise you hear in the background is the coffemaker,
not Virginia snoring.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tinker the Harness Chewer

Our boy, the harness chewer. Tinker goes through harnesses like a runner goes through sneakers. Here's a slideshow of some of his favorites.

(the two-tone blue-green is his current model)

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Surf's Up Dude

With weather being pretty lousy around here, we took a trip to a local pet store chain to give the Beags a chance to have some fun as well as to cure our cabin fever. The floors in these stores are usually a smooth tile or linoleum. Which means a slippery floor for Tinker, who looks like Bambi on ice when he gets excited at the sight of another dog.

The two of us had a simultaneous thought as we entered the store. "What if we try to put Tinker in one of the shopping carriages?" (We once tried this with Virginia years ago, but she hated every moment of it. In all fairness, it was also on a bumpy driveway in a shopping center.)

So we put Tink in the carriage and he loved every minute of it! He gave a few puzzled looks, and he got a bit frustrated and whined, cried, and barked a few times at not being able to greet some of the other dogs, like Bogart the Beagle, that we met along the way.

But he also liked having a bird's eye view of the food-stocked shelves, and didn't attempt to climb out of his new "vehicle". All in all it was successful trip, especially when the cashier gave 3 large treats to both Virginia and Tinker as we left the store.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

I'm Walking, Yes Indeed

It's been just over one month since Tinker re-injured his right rear ACL. He was put on crate rest and given a prescription of Deramaxx (a class of NSAID), which we hesitantly gave to him. In case you aren't aware of it there is a lot of controversy surrounding both Deramaxx and Rimadyl.

After three days we took Tinker off the Deramaxx due to a enormous increase in his urine output. Where he would normally go outside after 3-4 hours, Tinker's bladder was ready to burst after an hour. The literature on the drug's official website said that dispensing the med should be stopped if there is a significant change in bladder output and that's exactly what we did. Tinker's bladder output returned to normal just 24 hours after stopping the Deramaxx. We cannot stress enough the importance of knowing all potential side effects of any medication, whether it is for your animal or yourself. Okay, we'll hop down off the soap box now. :)

Tinker usually has no problem being crated, but was more reticent this time, putting on quite the whine fest in the morning after breakfast and in the evening after dinner. It could definitely drive you to the point of distraction.

Thankfully there was plenty of good weather so Tinker enjoyed some mornings and afternoons out on our deck. Don't worry we didn't let him use the grill.

We decided right from the start that we would allow Tinker to sleep out of the crate at night since the room is gated off and he wants nothing more than to just curl up next to his sister or spread out on the big square flat bed we bought for him. After about 2 weeks we also starting giving in at night and letting him out of the crate after his post-dinner whining. (We made sure to let him out after he had stopped whining so wouldn't be rewarding the behavior.) Again, this was no problem, since he wanted nothing more than to just curl up in his bed in front of the couch. And if he did wander off, we would say, "Get back in that bed young man" and he would scurry right back to the bed and lay down. It was a very funny sight to see.

While Tinker was healing the two of us were getting sore shoulders, necks, and backs from using the back sling harness to walk him.

So we were happy to get a good progress report from Dr. Massicotte after a 3-week follow up. One more week of crate rest was recommended for Tink and then we could slowly start to walk with him with his regular harness. About half-way through the 4th week we started taking Tinker on short walks with his regular harness while still using the rear sling harness for longer walks. He had no problem building his stamina back up and now we are walking him only on his regular harness.

Needless to say, Tinker is very happy to be free and hanging out with Virginia again.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Sunday night, we awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a restless Tinker. He was walking around our bedroom and seemed unsettled. We quickly noticed he was walking awkwardly. Actually, he always walks in a somewhat awkward manner, (a combination of spinal walking and normal walking), but Sunday night he wouldn't lie down for more than a few moments.

We immediately were stressed, fearful that he may have suffered another back injury. However, we also realized his right rear leg was retracted and that appeared to be the direct cause of his balance problem.

Before I go further, let me explain a little bit about pain response in a dog who has had a spinal injury. Normally, a dog who hurts his leg will retract it from pain, but the leg will relax in short order. However, a dog who has suffered a spinal injury, has, for lack of a better phrase, an over reactive pain response. Rather than having his leg go back to normal in a short amount of time, Tinker kept his leg retracted for the rest of the night and early morning.

It was a long night for all of us, (well, except for Virginia who snored away), as we ended up sleeping on the floor next to Tinker to get him to relax. We tried to crate him, but he whined- and it wouldn't help matters for him to be stressed. So he got onto the big square cushion/bed we have on the floor (in addition to their regular bed- variety is the spice of life) and we laid on each side of it to both block him off and keep him calm. (At one point I woke up with Tinker leaning against my nose.)

We called up the Animal Emergency Referral Association (AERA) on Monday morning, where Tinker had his back surgery, to make an appointment with his neurologist, Dr. Christiane Massicotte. Timing is everything and luckily Dr. Massicotte had just returned from vacation. We were also fortunate that there was an opening due to a cancellation in the afternoon.

Tinker was examined by Dr. Massicotte as well as the AERA's neurologist in residency, Dr. Jenny Scarano, and X-Rays were taken. The determination- Tinker's back was fine...Phew! However, he has a partial tear in his right rear Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). He had torn the same ligament in the Summer of 2006, but not to this extent. Thankfully though, it is a tear and not a rupture, which might have required surgery to repair.

So, his remedy is crate rest and a daily dosage of Deramaxx, an NSAID, whose use, like Rimadyl, has us very concerned. Steroids are not prescribed in this instance, so we somewhat reluctantly agreed to follow the prescribed course of action (We will be adding a Milk Thistle supplement to Tinker's daily regimen to help cleanse his liver of toxins.). Rest is the key.

In order to take make it easier for Tinker to do his "daily business", we are back to using the rear sling that we employed 3 years ago when Tinker injured his back. He took to it this morning just like old times and walked around balanced on his front two feet with ease. We on the other hand are suffering some forearm muscle aches we haven't in a while ;) . We have made one concession and that is to allow Tinker to sleep on that roomier square bed (instead of the crate) at night so he can spread out a little more.

Our first milestone is in 2 weeks, when we have a follow up visit at AERA.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Any port in a storm

Tinker loves a lot of things, but Tinker does not love thunderstorms. He's not bad until the thunder gets loud as the storm gets closer... and then he begins to quiver and pace. So out comes the Rescue Remedy. 3 squirts from the spray bottle works well, and we repeat it every 15-20 minutes if the storm lingers. That and finding a "safe spot" to den in, seems to help him to manage.

Just like people do, dogs can find ways to deal with their fears. In his case, it's under the living room end table. We bring out a comforter to snuggle in and his stuffed pal Ernie, and under he goes. Pretty soon the Rescue Remedy and relaxation kick in and he nods off to sleep.

And what is Virginia doing during the storm?

"Storm, what storm? I've got boneys to chew!"

For a dog who has separation anxiety, Virginia is amazingly unflappable about everything else. Riding in the car, thunder and lightning, loud noises, etc. - no problem. During a storm she'll continue doing whatever it was she was doing- chewing on a bone, sleeping, waiting for dinner. Occasionally, she will go and lay down with Tinker, but that usually happens much later.

See Tinker's little stuffed friend Ernie curled up next to him? :)

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day Tinker

This Tuesday, April 29, will be four years since our wonder boy came into our lives. Tinker the little dynamo, the little engine that does, is Mr. Happy Go Lucky. As you've read on this blog many times, he's always happy, always upbeat, even when he's going through a tough/rough stretch.

Happy 4th Gotcha day to the boy with the spotted feet and sweet tummy. We love you Tinker. :)

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day Virginia

In April of 2000, I surprised Caron for her birthday by taking her to SOSBeagles headquartered in Bordentown, NJ. I had been looking for a young female beagle for some time. I did searches in Yahoo and came up with some sources, but no luck (including Petfinder. That's when I stumbled across Beagles-on-the-Web (which ironically Caron now runs).

BotW had many links including rescue groups, which I really didn't know anything about at the time. Included was the link to SOS. Among the dogs listed was a picture of a sweet little tri-color female (only about 20 pounds then) who had both ears back and diamond shaped markings on her back. It said her name was Virginia. It was love at first. It seemed like her eyes were saying, "come and get me Daddy".

I immediately filled out an application and sent it off. I followed up with several phone calls over the next couple of weeks to be sure Virginia was still there. Finally, on April 20, 2000, Caron, my brother, and I drove to Bordentown on Caron's birthday.

She had no idea where we were going and still wasn't sure once we had pulled into the place. That is... until she heard the barking and arooing! She has trouble remembering anything after that.

We met two other dogs (Sadie and Pebbles, both of whom were later adopted) in addition to Virginia, but she "had me at hello". Caron said, "are we really going to do this?" And the rest is history.

Today was Virginia's 8th "gotcha day" and we couldn't have asked for more in a dog. We could do without the separation anxiety, but she's golden when it comes to everything else. She is as sweet as can be, smart as a whip, and a great big sister to Tinker.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Free at Last

Tinker's 4 weeks of crate rest are up and now he can slowly start working his way back to having his freedom. He'll be either in his ex-pen or loose (under supervision) for the next 3 weeks as he builds his muscle strength and stamina back up. If all goes as planned, he'll then be back to his usual routine (minus jumping up on the futon or jumping up and down while waiting for his food), and not be restricted other than the norm (i.e. no stairs).

Tink was a great patient while in the crate. He rarely complained and went right back in after eating or doing his outdoor business. A few nights ago we let him start sharing the bed again with Virginia at night, and we're sure we saw him smile. She's the straw that stirs the drink and he missed cuddling with her.

Thanks to everyone who sent their well wishes!

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Holding Our Breath

If you saw this week's (3/9) photo you would have seen a picture of Tinker chilling in his crate. That's because our little dude is on 2-3 weeks of crate rest due to soreness in his back.

Tinker was acting a little odd last Monday and it continued into Tuesday morning. Based on what occurred 3 years ago, we wasted no time in calling up AERA to make an appointment with his neurologist, Dr. Massicotte.

After examining him thoroughly, Dr. Massicotte felt there were indications of soreness and discomfort in an area below where he had his surgery in 2005.

So back into the crate our little boy has gone. He's also getting a tapering dose of prednisone for the next 3 weeks. We go back for a follow up a week from Tuesday. We'll be thinking positive thoughts until then.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Time Certainly Flies

This past Saturday, March 1, was the 3rd anniversary of Tinker's return home following his disk surgery (Feb 23, 2005). It's hard to believe it has been 3 years since the whole nightmare occurred, but it is not hard to believe the progress Tinker has made since that day, because of his incredible spirit.

He never ceases to amaze us. He has walked unassisted since October, 2005. We actually have to discourage him from doing some things, such as jumping up and down while waiting for his food. It's incredible how high he can leap considering he had a back injury.

We have become Tinker's personal elevator service since we don't allow him to do stairs- in an attempt to lessen the risk of a future injury. He's allowed up on the futon, but not the couch or our bed, which are both considerably higher. And we monitor his rough housing with other dogs, since he basically loses his mind in play!

Most of all, we just let the boy be the boy. And make no mistake, it took some time for us to let go of our reservations and fears and let him be himself. It is very easy to be overprotective after such a devastating injury, but there's no stopping this 21 lb. bundle of Joy.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Our Own Puppy Bowl

This weekend the Giants made Super Bowl magic and puppies made Puppy Bowl magic. But on Friday night and Saturday morning, we had our very own Puppy Bowl magic.

A few weeks ago, C found a Beagle/Shephard mix in a high-kill shelter in Georgia. A friend said she would adopt little Mary if no other adopters were found. Soon Mary was renamed Pandora, aka Pandy, and was on her way to Project Zero in South Carolina for a week. Then a transport took Pandy to a short term foster in southeastern Pennsylvania.

On Friday night, Pandy was transferred to me at my office and home we went. Unfortunately the weather was miserable on Friday so Pandy could not meet Tinker and Virginia outside. So inside we went and it wasn't long before Pandy became Pandemonium.

Endless puppy energy, chewing on everything she could get her teeth on and into, including our hands. Tinker was instantly in love. After dinner, he and Pandy wrestled for 2 hours straight. Finally, we put Pandy in her crate so wethey could get some rest. Virginia, meanwhile, was in no way, shape, or form happy to have a ball of energy bouncing around her.

Pandy slept through the night, without incident. The next day she wanted to wrestle Tinker again, but Tink, who will be 8 in a little over a week, just wanted to rest up. Pandy tried to entice Virginia, but after a small skirmish (the 2 girls barking in each other's faces), it was no dice. So Pandy just amused herself- rolling, biting, romping, rollicking until her new Mommy came to pick her up (needless to say it was love at first sight).

We waved bye-bye to Pandy and things went back to normal...after a very long nap.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Endless Summer

... If only that were the case. Tinker and Virginia certainly wouldn't mind an endless summer, especially if it meant getting to go to the beach every day. The dynamic duo had a terrific time on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a very dog-friendly area.

As usual, Tinker spent most of his time on full alert, sniffing for any other dogs in the vicinity. When he'd see a new dog, he completely lost his mind- screeching, barking, begging to play with them. Now keep in mind that 90% of the dogs down there are off-leash, but Beagles should NEVER be off-leash. (Yes, I know there are people that may disagree, but once they pick up a scent, Beagles have their own built-in getaway car.)

Virginia, meanwhile, loves to find a spot and plop down with a "snoof"- exhaling away the sand from her nose as she lands. She does pop up when Tinker "sounds the alarm" that another dog is nearby, and then she begins to unleash her deep, throaty protective bark. This began, on vacations pre-Tinker, back in Cape Cod in 2000-2001. We had never seen her react like that before. But she is our beach blanket security guard and she does a fine job. When the "threat" passes we tell her to "stand down".

Both dogs love bananas, and we generally share pieces with them as we eat them. A bite for us, a piece for each of them, and so on. Well on vacation, my brother, sister, and Dad were all there, meaning lots more banana for the Beags. In fact, their "granddogpa" is referred to as "Bananaman" and they recognize exactly who we're referring to when we use that phrase.

During nighttime TV watching Virginia enjoyed her time curling up on one of the couches, while Tinker hunkered down along the side of the couch on a crate pad. Occasionally we would put their bed behind the couch and one or both dogs would curl up inside.

As you may recall, to decrease the chances of him blowing another disc, we don't allow Tinker to go up and down the stairs; so we carry him. Thankfully, he's only about 21.5 pounds and is built kind of like a cat, but it still can get tiresome hoofing it up and down the stairs while carrying him to take him out. It's especially tough in the large houses of the Outer Banks where we spend most of our time on the 3rd floor. But this house had an elevator...woo hoo...good stuff.

The elevator had a sliding inner fan door and each level had an outer door, which is built like an ordinary interior door. Each and every time Tinker went into the elevator, he would tip his head from side to side (like Nipper, the RCA dog), as he stared at the door, wondering what that noise was on the other side. Of course none of us thought to film it. Maybe next year.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Down the Shore

Those of us who live in New Jersey use the phrase "going down the shore" to refer to beach visits. Well Virginia and Tinker are headed to the North Carolina shore for a week of fun on the beach. This is Virginia's 6th trip (2 to Cape Code plus 4 in NC) and Tinker's 2nd. They'll tell you all about when they get home. :)

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Sunday, April 29, 2007


April is a very big month in our household for a number of reasons. Two of them are 7- and 8-years old. April 20 was Virginia's 7th Gotcha Day and today, April 29, is Tinker's 3rd Gotcha Day. For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, "Gotcha Day", it is the anniversary of when you adopt your rescue dog.Virginia was a birthday present for Caron back in 2000. It’s really hard to top a present once you’ve gotten, "the best birthday present ever". Tinker came along in 2004 when we were looking for a pal who would help Virginia with her separation anxiety. Tinker's zaniness has been the perfect complement to Virginia's laid back (except when left alone) style.

He is the Yin to her Yang.

Virginia was very timid when we first got her, especially with other dogs.She was shy with people, but quicker to warm up to them than she was with her own species.

Tinker, on the other hand, was Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky right from the start.If he were a person (which is not to say there aren't times when we could swear he is), he would be the type to go up to anyone, introduce himself, ask how the wife and kids are, and say, "Damn glad to meet you!".

Virginia is a model citizen in the car. She chews a treat-filled marrow bone, and then nods off for the duration of the ride. Tinker chews his treat-filled marrow bone for about 2 seconds, then will squeak, whine, squeal, and chirp like a bird. You might say he's not fond of being in the car. He gets all excited about the prospect of getting in the car, but the actual being in the car is not so hot.

On the other hand, Virginia does not like being left alone in the house. She will bark, sometimes constantly, until we get home. Her separation anxiety hasn't gotten worse with time, but hasn't gotten a whole lot better either. She will go for stretches where she is not bad if we are out for the same time period on a regular basis (she’ll get used to a 9-5 work routine), but then she'll stress if we go out at another time.

Tinker is perfectly fine if left alone.It's a rare occasion where one would be left without the other.If we leave for a short period of time, Tinker is not crated, but the stairs are gated off since he is not allowed to do them since his back injury. For longer periods of time, Tinker is crated and the gates are left down so Virginia can have free reign.

The first rule of the household for Tinker, without question, is whatever Virginia is doing, he wants to be doing, too. Tinker follows her around, sometimes being the bratty little brother (endlessly licking her mouth, ears, face, nose, etc.), but mostly he just wants to be near her. When we first got Tink, both dogs slept in their own doggy beds. But Tinker began to crawl into Virginia’s bed to snuggle with her. Eventually we bought them a bed that's probably big enough for a Golden Retriever. And even though there is plenty of room in the bed, there are many winter nights when we have to move Tinker, because he has basically laid down right on top of her (Mr. No Personal Space).

Having a second dog definitely took some getting used to. It's not simply a matter of doing everything times two. I was even concerned that Virginia would be receiving less attention (we definitely project our own feelings on dogs sometimes) with another dog around. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Now it’s difficult to remember the time before Tinker came along.Now we have two times the entertainment, fun, nuttiness, and general Beagle kookiness. We wouldn’t have it any other way.


Friday, February 23, 2007

The Anniversary Waltz

Today marks a very special day in the life of one Tinker the Beagle/JRT aka Dude. It's the 2nd anniversary of the surgery that would help restore Tinker's ability to walk. He continues to amaze us not only with with his recovery, but his spirit and playful nature.

Every morning starts out the same way. Virginia decides it's time to get up, and Tinker follows. He first runs to one side of our bed for some loving. As you pet him he curls into an elongated letter "C". He will eventually run to the other side of the bed for equal time. If you're not paying attention, he'll make sure you are by standing on his back legs and grabbing the top of the bed with his front paws in attempt to hoist himself up (which we don't allow). Meantime, she hops up on the bed for a minute or two of early morning hugs.

Then it's time for morning calisthenics. She stretches then he stretches. She shakes out then he does the same. He worships the ground she sneezes on. Then they dance and prance and squeak to let us know it's time to go downstairs and begin the day.

Once the gate in our doorway is removed, Virginia will run down the stairs and one of us will carry Tinker down. While Virginia will hang out on the couch, futon, or on the floor by the glass sliders, Tink will settle down in a dog bed, on a crate pad, or with Virginia in the window.

Once he gets antsy - slang for he really has to go - he'll begin to lick Virginia's ears, nose, eyes, etc., to the point of annoyance. Not necessarily Virginia's, but it makes us nuts after a while.

After both dogs have gone for a walk and done their business, breakfast is prepared. Tinker, as you may have seen in the post titled "The Hunger" below, appears to lose his mind while he waits. Actually his focus is never stronger. He cannot be dissuaded, assuaged, or distracted (where's a thesaurus when you need one?) from his focus on whomever is readying his food.

Once breakfast is over, the dynamic duo settles down for some serious treat eating (rubber saucers, marrow bones, kongs). The remainder of the day is made up of trips outside, sleeping, and eating. The post-dinner scenario looks pretty much the same way. The final snack of the evening is indeed quite a treat. If I haven't been followed into the kitchen already, it won't take long for both Beags to get there once they hear the lid come off the cookie jar (which has a Beagle on it of course). Tinker will knock down anything that gets in his way to be first in line. Then the fun begins.

VA and Tink each get an Old Mother Hubbard mini-bone treat. Virginia gently and politely takes hers from you, but you had better use an open hand with Tinker or you may lose a finger. Also, if you aren't quick enough in dispensing of said treat, Tinker will hop up and down on his right front foot, which will at some point end up on top of your foot, and will swat at you with his left front paw. It is never not funny.

The night ends with Virginia zooming up the stairs and flying into bed, while one of us carries Tinker up the stairs. He quickly joins VA, sometimes getting in some final ear licks of the day and sometimes laying practically right on top of her because he is our "no personal space" boy- before they both snuggle down for the night, . We wouldn't have it any other way :)





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