It’s Not A Dog’s Life

I often said that when I die I want to come back as a dog – in my house. That last caveat is extremely important because any dog that has lived in our home has been well loved and well taken cared for. But yesterday I slightly changed my tune on that afterlife wish.

The day started out as almost any other day. I was up at the crack of dawn to go hiking at Chautauqua. I’ve learned that when the weather gets this hot its best to do that type of strenuous climb very early before the heat of the day makes it much more difficult. After I got home there was the usual summer ritual of coffee on the deck. There is nothing like summer mornings here in Colorado. In the mornings our deck is in full shade and you can comfortably sit and enjoy coffee, the newspaper, the birds, the garden and the occasional hot air balloon that will float overhead.

I was on the deck and taking it all in when my husband came out to sit with me. After a few minutes he said, “There’s something wrong with the dog. She’s just not acting like herself.” At that point I looked down and saw Mia lying by my chair on the deck like she has so many times before. I asked Nick why he felt that way and he said he couldn’t put his finger on it, but that she was acting very lethargic and not her usual energetic self.

I watched her for a while and had to agree. Although she was laying by my chair she was not keeping her head up. Normally when she lays on the deck she assumes a sphinx-like position with front paws crossed watching every little thing that is going on in the back yard. Now she was laying with her head down as if she was trying to sleep. And she could not lay still. She would switch from one hip to the other hip and then back again, almost as if she could not get comfortable. The one thing that made me less nervous about all this was the fact that she had eaten her breakfast in the morning. I guess hell would have to freeze over and Mia be on her deathbed in order for her not to eat. It’s a Lab thing and if you’ve ever had a Lab you know exactly what I mean. But something definitely was not right.

Then she got up, plunked her butt down and began to scoot her butt on the deck, round and round in a never ending circle. It lasted so long I was sure she embedded some of the Trex from the deck into her butt. Ok, now I have a symptom. So on to the internet where I googled “why a dog drags its butt on the ground” and low and behold the answer. It can only be one of two things – worms or blocked anal glands.

The information out there basically indicates that in the past most vets thought this was an indication of worms, but truth be told in most cases it is blocked anal glands. The article went on to explain why this happens, something to do with the defecating process and how it is not releasing fluids in the glands when the dog takes a dump and then proceeds to explain the process for manually releasing the fluid in the glands making sure to warn the reader to use rubber gloves and old clothes because sometimes the release process results in anal gland matter bursting out of the dog’s behind.

This blog would be a heck of lot funnier if I had decided to take this project on for myself, but thank goodness reason prevailed and I called my vet who said he could squeeze us in (pun intended) in 20 minutes. So yesterday my poor little Mia had to suffer the indignation of having the vet stick his rubber gloved finger up her behind and clean out the blocked glands. The vet even showed a little bedside manner when he joked that this particular job was one most people would happily pay to have done by someone else. And this must be a vet thing but of course he felt compelled to show me what came out and even warned me that the smell from the release would be drifting my way shortly.

After that he told me Mia would be sore for about a day (no kidding, doc) and that if she did not show signs of improvement by tomorrow to give him a call. Well its tomorrow and Mia is running around like a puppy again so I guess the old butt must be feeling better. This reminds me of a joke I heard a long time ago about the brain, the heart and the asshole who were all arguing about who was the most important part of the body. The brain argued that it controlled thought and reason, the heart argued that it pumped the life blood throughout the body. The asshole said nothing – it just quit working and the brain couldn’t think, the heart became tired and listless and nothing worked right or mattered. So no wonder she was lethargic – the asshole was not working. It demanded attention and now. So I guess there is a life lesson in there somewhere, but I will leave the interpretation of that up to you!

My Mia, My Heart

On June 5, 2003 a litter of puppies was born to “Gal” and “Zoom” up on Flagstaff Mountain. Gal was a search and rescue dog and Zoom was a field trial champion. I will never forget driving up Flagstaff mountain to look at the litter and was instantly in love with baby pink. All of the puppies had different colored ribbons around their necks so they could be easily identified and charted. Baby pink was a sweetheart. From day one she would let you flip her on her back, belly up in the air and just lay there legs akimbo waiting for that belly rub.

Mia's pedigree information

I made several visits up to Flagstaff mountain trying to decide which puppy to pick. I had second choice of the litter, the first choice going to the sire’s owner. For some reason I kept on going back to baby pink. And in the end baby pink became a member of the Geden household. Her AKC registered name became Jenner’s Gal Mia. She was named after her mother, Gal, and her grandfather, Jenner.

Jenner was the star in the lineage, a nationally recognized FEMA search and rescue dog. While he was alive, he was considered one of FEMA’s top 10 search and rescue dogs in the entire country. Jenner did search and rescue during the big flood in Fort Collins, CO. He was sucked into a sewer line during the rescue efforts and emerged from a man hole a few miles from where he was sucked in, never worse for the wear. Jenner also did search and rescue at the World Trade Center after 9/11. A few years after that mission, he was diagnosed with cancer (many of the search and rescue dogs who worked at the World Trade Center came down with cancer after the fact) and eventually died from it.

Jenner’s Gal Mia, or simply my Mia, never developed those keen search and rescue instincts of both her grandfather and mother, although she was never trained to develop them. Mia has spunk and drive and will do anything for love and attention – even if it means eating the plants in the backyard. Mia loves to retrieve and will do it till she drops. She is always at my side. Nick and I once joked that if we had waited a few months to name her we would have named her shadow because she is always one step behind me.

Mia is my heart, my rock, my joy. Through the good times and the bad times she is always there. She is my couch partner at night when we watch tv, my deck partner in the morning when I sit outside and have my coffee, my office partner when I am on the computer always laying by my feet and my solace when I am sad, always willing to curl up next to me and rest her head on my lap.

People always talk about dogs and unconditional love and it is so true. A dog wants to be an integral part of the household pack, will quickly learn its place in the hierarchy and from the day it is born to the day it dies will provide loads and loads of love. Mia is not the first. There was King, Seagrams, Pepper, Ditto, Tina and Garbo. The breeds have varied from Boxer to Pomeranian, Cairn Terrier, German Shepherd and Black Lab. They have all been my heart, they were all special. I will always carry a piece of their precious spirits with me as long as I am alive.

But Mia is here now. I have learned to cherish every moment with your pet because they are unique, special and irreplaceable. And that is there beauty – they are special spirits filled with nothing but goodness. I am thankful every day for all the pets I have had in my life, but I am especially thankful today for Mia.

So, Happy  soon-to-be Birthday, Jenner’s Gal Mia. You are my joy, my light, my heart. I love you sweet baby girl. Thank you for the love and joy you bring into our lives.

Mia on our deck/2011

School for Dogs

I never had children. So I never had to worry about schools, tuition, or the scholastic competency of teachers. But, today I had to take my soon-to-be 8 year old Black Lab, to doggie day-care to prepare her for boarding (yes, I said prepare her).  Years ago, when you were planning a trip, you called your Vet, asked if they had boarding services and brought your dog in when you were leaving on your trip. Today, if you are planning on boarding your dog, it is a very different story. You must research, you must do appropriate integration, you must watch your dog on the internet doggie web cam, and ultimately, you must be accepted to the program!

Like any good parent (in Boulder, dog owners are legally called guardians as the term connotes that no one really owns another living being) I decided to check a few places out. I looked for cleanliness of the facility, the caliber of the day care staff, the enrichment programs, disciplinary procedures, quality of the indoor and outdoor areas, the sleeping quarters, the tuition. I drove all over looking at a wide range of facilities and programs. Is this beginning to sound like looking for a child’s boarding school to you? Where did all this come from? Is it a racket, or truly the way we should care for our pets?

One place I nixed because it looked too much like a pound, with dogs spending way to much time in kennels and only getting exercised 10 minutes a day twice a day. Another place I nixed because it was the size of a postage stamp, and with 50 or so dogs in the facility on a daily basis, the dogs were basically on top of one another. Another place I nixed because it smelled like your worst nightmare of a public bathroom.

But I found nirvana about 5 minutes from our home. This facility looked like a white country home with a blue roof and a white picket fence. It

My Mia

had a huge outdoor play area complete with play school equipment, plenty of trees and even strategically placed crates for dogs that want to get away from it all. The indoor area was huge as well, and dogs can romp and play together in a climate controlled environment when the weather is too severe for their comfort. But nirvana is only part of the equation – could Mia cut the mustard, could she behave according to the strict standards of the program, would she be accepted for boarding. The pressure was on. Did I raise her properly?

Mia went there today. Right now she is sound asleep on the carpet in my office and will probably sleep until tomorrow morning.

She passed the entrance exam, she is accepted for boarding privileges. Nothing is too good for my Mia. I thought I never had children?

Poop And A Memory

Is there a Lab that does not like snow?

This morning I woke up to two piles of poop in the living room.  Every once in a while for some reason, our dog Mia decides that she cannot hold it and uses a particular spot in the living room to relieve herself. Thank goodness it is a rare occasion, but it is no fun when you are still half asleep to be on poop patrol. Thank goodness for these little portable spot cleaners that you plug in and put on the stain – in a few minutes, poof it is gone.

This reminded Nick of a situation that happened while we were still living in Chicago. One night we were invited to our friend’s (Bob and John) home for dinner. Bob and John had a beautiful Bearded Collie named Roxie. They suggested that we bring our German Shepherd, Garbo, over for a play date. Garbo was not very comfortable in the strange surroundings. All of a sudden we heard John yell from the hallway, “Oh, Bob, Roxie or somebody shit in the hallway.”  Now we all knew it was probably Garbo, but when John, by virtue of what he said, suggested that any of us could have perpetrated the crime, we roared with laughter envisioning one of us squatting in the hallway doing the nasty deed.  Nick reminded me of this while I was picking up poop – I was glad to be laughing while doing it.

Today I am off to the home and garden show – even though I am a Fall/Winter person, I think I have had enough and am ready for spring. Hopefully this will get me in the mood. Happy Sunday, everyone!

There’s a few new pictures of Mia

They’re in her photo album….
Also, by clicking on this link:
you can read all about her famous grandfather Jenner – who was one of FEMA’s top ten national search and rescue dogs. Jenner did search and rescue for the big flood in Ft. Collins, CO. and also went to the World Trade Center. Enjoy