Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Man Walks Into A Brewpub

So yesterday, Kathy, Emelia and I stopped in at a brewpub in upstate New York for lunch on our way back to DC from Vermont. We get there at noon, right as the place opens. The greeter is in fact the co-owner, and after he assures us that we haven't arrived too early to be seated, he asks if we know what was special about the day.

I immediately answer, "It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!"
"Uh, it is? Well, that's not what I was thinking."
"Oh right -- it's Rosh Hashanah."
"Is that so? Well, it's also the start of Oktoberfest in Munich!"
"It is?"
"It sure is, and we're about to tap our Alt in honor of Oktoberfest."

Even though we weren't on the same page as far what made Saturday special, I did try the beer they had made in honor of Oktoberfest, and thought it was pretty decent.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

RIP Junebug

Yesterday we had to put Junebug to sleep. It was something that we knew we would probably have to do before too long. She was 12 1/2, and in addition to being deaf, she had very arthritic back legs, to the point that she was having trouble standing, and climbing stairs. She had also started losing her house training. Still, the end was unexpected when it happened.*

I'm not going to remember Junebug as my favorite dog. She was a pain in the ass, plain and simple. We got her from the pound, where she had been staying with a foster parent, her second one. We were told she was house trained, and while that might have been true, the separation anxiety she felt when the foster parent left overwhelmed everything else. In addition to going to the bathroom, she destroyed carpet and anything else in her path. We tried keeping her in a crate during the day, but she was so freaked out that she broke out by overcoming the soldering, earning the nickname Houndini. And so the destruction continued. Kathy and I alternated as far as wanting to get rid of her, never both agreeing to it at the same time. Despite the burden she placed on us, we didn't feel comfortable with what it would mean to Junebug to leave her abandoned one more time.

We hired Bryce as our dog walker to help reduce the time Junebug was left humanless. And over time Junebug grew more comfortable with us. The messes happened less frequently, though we were reminded not to leave food or hardback books within her reach. And her reach was legendary -- anything on a kitchen counter was fair game, and she learned to open cupboards and drawers. Bryce wanted to install a camera just to see how she got to some of the things she did -- once at Bryce's, she got into bread that was two shelves above counter height. Houndini indeed.

One of the reasons we kept Junebug in those early days was because she had such a sweet disposition. Truly. And when she was young and mobile, it was a joy to see her when she was running, be it on the beach, in the snow, or in a field. It was there that one really saw her at her happiest. And we grew to love her in spite of the difficulties she presented, because after all, all she really wanted was a little bit of loving. And when you get down to it, that's not so unreasonable.

* - I don't want to dwell on the end, but for anyone who wants such details, here you go.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Junebug's End

Kathy woke up Sunday morning to the sound of Junebug throwing up, something that's unpleasant but not uncommon. With Kathy's pregnancy gag reflex in full force at the moment, I had the displeasure of cleaning up the mess. Junebug threw up a couple more times, and when I walked the dogs, she ate grass to throw up some more. The first sign that things were worse than usual was when she didn't eat her breakfast. She also threw up some water a little later. Finally at about 11:30, she threw up something that appeared fairly solid. It was disgusting, so I didn't examine it too closely, but I was hopeful that things would be ok from there. They weren't -- she still wouldn't eat and when she drank a little bit of water, she threw that up too.

So I took her to the emergency vet clinic, where they admitted her for the night, ran some blood work, and gave her some anti-nausea medication. At around 2:30am, she apparently threw up what the clinic described as a "baby bonnet" -- I have no idea whether it was one of Emelia's hats or some of her doll clothes. No matter, even with that additional blockage removed, Junebug still threw up some water at around 11am. When the vet called a little after noon with that news, I figured things were looking bad. I had the clinic do x-rays, and the report was that there appeared to be a bell in her stomach, and while it didn't show up on the x-ray, the accumulation of gas suggested there was an additional (cloth?) blockage in her intestine. The options were to perform surgery or to put her to sleep.

I went to tell Kathy, and we both knew the correct alternative was to put her to sleep. We both were crying over making the decision. Emelia was sleeping, and we asked our friend Bryce to stay at the house while we went to the clinic. We were given time alone with Junebug, but in some ways we were already too late. She briefly acknowledged our presence, but then lay down and didn't respond to us. When the vet came in, we asked if she had been sedated, and she said no, and that she had been doing ok until the x-ray, which seemed to take a lot out of her. We were crying, but hearing that made us feel better about our decision -- if she could hardly handle an x-ray, then surgery would almost certainly have been too much. Kathy waited outside when the doctor administered the injections that put Junebug to sleep. Even though Junebug didn't seem to know I was there, I stayed there to the end with my hand on her side, figuring that it was the least I could do for her.