No more kibble!

Kelsey was adorable. She loved to SMILE! She had bad teeth and bad breath, her eyes had cateracts, and she suffered from constant itchy skin. During her life, Kelsey ate whatever mini kibble had the best advertising, but after 2 surgeries for bladder stones we changed her to Science Diet CD and she got fat. In September 2008 Kelsey suddenly began having violent seizures. Her decline was so fast, we put Kelsey to sleep less than two weeks later on her 13th birthday. The vet told us that Kelsey suffered from many maladies that probably stemmed from eating processed dog kibble. If I had only known that changing her diet could have changed her life!

Welcome to our new yorkie Juliet! Welcome Raw Meaty Bones Diet!
To learn about this style of pet feeding, go to the very first entry and work your way up.

Friday, August 6, 2010

On Getting a "Replacement" Dog

My parents' yorkshire terrier, Jack, died a few months ago (after a long illness) and momma and daddy are considering getting another dog.  This is a reflection on the loss of our Kelsey and the surprisingly opposite personality of our current dog, Juliet.

We got Kelsey to keep me company years ago, when my rheumatoid arthritis was at its worst. I was in intense pain, house bound, and I was often reduced to using an electric wheelchair. I sat all day and Kelsey sat with me, a sympathetic understanding companion. Kelsey was a calm, gentle, lay by your side and love you, kind of doggie. Her entire doggie thoughts probably repeated "I love you, do you love me? What can I do to please you?" over and over again.  A man once told me, "Kelsey is really well behaved, for a decorative dog."  That pretty much sums her up.

We had thirteen wonderful years with our 9-pound yorkie; a pudgy, lazy, little sweetheart with a toothy grin. Kelsey'd snort and sneeze when she grinned, which the veterinarian penned "girlish giggling." In two short weeks, Kelsey went from being a normal, bright, happy, and best dog you could ever imagine, to having a series of severe seizures that robbed her of her golden years. After many panicked vet visits and lots of meds, but Kelsey's seizures became more and more frequent. On her last days, she only had a few minutes of each hour without complete stare-at-the-wall dementia. It was on her 13th birthday that we had to put her down. Heartbreaking. Through tear-filled eyes, the vet administered the final shot. Finis. I asked her if she always cried when she puts a dog to sleep, and she worked up enough composure to squeak out, "Sometimes I do..." A necropsy verified that Kelsey had a large brain tumor.

I am normally very mater of fact about death.  I am private about grief and never cry at funerals.  My behavior at the loss of a dog totally took me by surprise, as I would sit in my car in the garage and sob, unable to bear entering our now-empty house.  Although Mark and I agreed no more pets, after a month, and gallons of tears, we got another yorkie and, my my my, how God has His perfect plan.

Juliet never knew me as a sick person, only healthy and fun.  With the advancement of biologic medications, my arthritis is now almost always under control, and I'm nearly as mobile as the next 53-year old woman. We thought all yorkies would be like Kelsey, but instead, Julie is a hard-headed and bossy little 4-1/2 pound ball of energy.  I was so busy with our hyperactive new puppy that I didn't have time to think about my old dog, a gift in a left-handed sort of way that allowed me the time needed to heal after Kelsey's death. 

An early riser, Juliet's day starts just before sunrise, and she wants to play-play-play all day-day-day and INSISTS that I play with her.  If I pull weeds, Juliet shows me up by digging a hole as big as she is!  If I sit down, a toy is pushed at my feet. If I ignore her, she leaps on the back of my chair and sits on my head.  Some things never change.

When she was a few months old, we thought perhaps a playmate was what Juliet needed, and so when we were offered a beautiful floppy shih-tzu/maltese mix, were were delighted!  Three-month old Princess Lei turned out to be not so smart, in fact, really really REALLY dumb, possibly brain-damaged.  Although Juliet was smaller, in the two short days we had poor Lei, she was constantly being bossed, and physically pushed around.  I hate to point fingers, but we think our wound-up spring named Juliet, may have murdered the new puppy.  Unlike Juliet, Lei was fearful of a lot, and so totally terrified of water that she refused to go near the edge of the pool.  In the few minutes I was gone to run an errand, we think Juliet knocked down the doggie gate, dragged Lei outside (she was afraid of the doggie door too), and we think Juliet innocently and playfully pushed our beautiful stupid Princess into the pool so they could have a swimming party!  We looked at Juliet in contempt and remain heart-broken at the thought of this puppy's horrible demise. We were increasingly disappointed that Juliet was nothing like Kelsey, but instead - a murderous, demanding, high-energy and unendingly playful sprite - the bad seed!

We went though several confusing months thinking, "Dear Lord, what have we done?"  Out of sheer frustration, and because she was one of God's little creatures that deserved no less, I decided to make myself adore Juliet for who she was and I forced myself to love her to pieces regardless of her questionable past.  My new attitude led me to appreciate Juliet's busyness just as much as I adored Kelsey's calmness.  Juliet slows down occasionally to quickly tell us (in a doggie sort of way) that she loves us nearly as much as she loves playing.  She works hard at following rules, and perhaps one day it may not take such effort.  When Juliet is bad, I find myself calling her "Julie Johnson" after one of my favorite cousins. 

Juliet's 2-year birthday is this week, and I am happy to tell you that I am cheerfully up and at 'em just before dawn daily, I take my little dog on lots of walks, and tolerate her never ending throw the ball game. I find great joy in seeing Juliet finally exhausted at the end of the day and realize, so am I!  Juliet leaps into Mark's arms and looks at me with a "nonny-nonny-boo-boo" contempt, showing off that she loves him more than me, then she leaps into mine and gives Mark the same devious look.  We are still working on Juliet's manners, as she feels that everone's lap is there for the taking without invitation, that squirrels are evil and must be killed, and that we need protection from all delivery men. We are overjoyed that Juliet has not murdered her new doggie friend next door.  Tebow barks at our door for Jul to come outside and play. Tebow UF is bigger, stronger, and pretty smart.  He tolerates Juliet's bossy FSU personality for the sake of having a fun race, roll, and tumble playmate.

Juliet is upbeat, energetic, and delightful. She is so cute when she tilts her miniature head and makes a funny Elvis smirk. Juliet moans to tell us how much she enjoys getting a relaxing massage. She slams through the doggie door at full speed and leaps into the pool with sheer joy, then comes in, wiggle-waggling her entire body from her inch-long stump of tail to the tip of her tiny nose, sopping wet and thrilled. Juliet jumps onto the couch and delights in showing her strength by pushing every pillow and cushion onto the floor. I see now that in God's great wisdom, Juliet's personality is to remind me to smile often, enjoy life to the fullest, don't be shy to say what you like, do a cannon ball instead of easing in, try things that appear too hard, and don't waste time with those you don't enjoy. (But obey the "They shall not kill" rule.)

It's rare that I get emotional about Kelsey (except now, as I write about what a lady she was).  I just wanted to share how my heart ached, and how God heals in His own funny way with life lessons.  We may never forget the pain of our loss, but in time we get accustomed, and continue with our lives in new and different ways - sometimes better!  It's a fact that I will out-live Juliet and I surely will be as devestated at her loss, but all the wiser after the experience of losing Kelsey.

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