Traveling Dog Lady: March 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Purple Day for Epilepsy 2017

Today, March 26, 2017, is Purple Day for Epilepsy, and we're joining FiveSibes bloghop to bring awareness to epilepsy in both humans and animals.

I've known a few animals that had epilepsy. One of our cats on Cape Cod, many years ago, had epilepsy. She would have horrible seizures, where she would spin around on the floor and lose control of her bodily functions in the process. The poor thing, she was such a love bug, too.

My beloved dog Hector had seizures, but it turned out they were due to a head injury that went undetected. We were told he had either epilepsy, or a brain tumor, and we were treating his seizures with phenobarbital. Hec only had seizures for about 5 months before he ended up dying very suddenly from whatever was wrong with his head. I am STILL not over his death, nearly six years later. This one was the worst. He was taken from us much too young, and the last months of his life were spent helplessly watching him suffer.

My beloved dogs, Hector (standing) and Hobie.

While Hector's seizures were from an injury, they were pretty much identical to epileptic seizures in terms of his disorientation, he would go temporarily blind afterwards, he would be really energetic during the post-ichtal phase, yet at the same time profoundly confused. He would also try to crawl into small spaces such as the closet and the fireplace, or under a desk. He did not recognize us after the post-ichtal phase, so it was hard to calm him down as he didn't know who we were and he just wanted to run around in the back yard. During the seizures themselves, he could be very dangerous as he was a big dog, and he would be paddling his legs, knocking things over, and snapping his jaws. Gosh, it was just awful to see our wonderful young dog go through that.

I, myself experienced what we THINK were seizures most of my life. Doctors could never figure it out, but they would hit me once a month. I had auras and would be in intense pain, and I would also lose control like the cat mentioned above, plus I would sleep for hours and hours afterwards. When I went into menopause, the seizures pretty much stopped. So, we will probably never figure out what that was.

But, I mention my own experience with this because I had an amazing dog, Hobie, who could detect my episodes (I called them episodes -- notice the Greek prefix "epi" is the root word of episode and epilepsy). Hobie would lie on top of me on the couch and not let me get up. He knew (I didn't) that if I got up, I would have an episode and end up on the floor. If I was already up, he would bark at me. I wish we had been able to pursue this as a therapy dog thing, but he certainly was helpful to me. When I did have episodes, he would lie beside me on the floor and cuddle with me and lick my face. He was just amazing.

My favorite color is purple. Just about everything I own is purple (ok, that's an exaggeration! Close, but an exaggeration!). As part of today's awareness campaign, we want to show ourselves and our pets wearing purple. So, here are some pictures of us from today (and I was already wearing purple today anyway -- gee what a surprise).

Please note I've been sitting around the house in my pajamas all day. Hey, it's Sunday.

Cooper has a purple tennis ball!
My purple laptop case!

Purple paw pajamas and purple fibromyalgia t-shirt

      Charlie steals the show in his Purple Petfinder bandana!


Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to work on dog rescue apps with a cat on your keyboard

This is what it's like to work on a computer when your Tuxedo cat likes to nurse on your sweatshirt!

I also talk about dog rescue, and how proud we in Massachusetts are of the fact that we have little to no animal overpopulation problem here, and our shelters are no-kill facilities.

As many of you know, I adopted Charlie Brown and Cooper from Great Dog Rescue of New England, a rescue agency that transports dogs from the southern states to New England. Southern states have a dog and cat over-population problem, and most of their shelters are high-kill facilities. Here in Massachusetts, and mainly New England, we are animal lovers and advocates, and we're very proud of our ability to save these poor creatures. In the south, there are some amazing people who go to great lengths and sacrifice to rescue dogs and cats from high-kill shelters. It is a lesson in grace, sacrifice and beauty to think of how hard these folks work, all volunteers, and all motivated only by the determination to save dogs and cats. They are true heroes. 

On Saturdays and Thursdays, I generally have about 12-15 dogs that I input into Great Dog's database. I have been a volunteer for Great Dog for just over a year. In addition to putting the transported dogs into the database, I also drive a dog, locally, on occasion. I love to drive, and I'm a database whiz, and a lot of people don't like either of those tasks, so I am happy to be able to help out the rescue in both of these ways. 

Crazy cat Tux on the keyboard!

When I'm trying to work on my computer, Tux gives me a hard time! LOL! He lays across my arms, or in between my hands and the keyboard, and basically won't let me type. He nurses on my sleeve of my sweatshirt and kneads my arm underneath the shirt sleeve. You should see my forearms, they are covered in cat claw marks! Ouch! But I love him, so I put up with it.

Cats Newman, Tux and Cali sitting on the back porch railing

Tux lost his kitty mother when he was an infant kitten. He was bottle fed by his rescuer, and later on I adopted him from her, along with his "siblings" Cali and Newman, who were also abandoned kittens who were bottled fed. From what I understand, they are NOT related, although they are the same age. When they were available for adoption, we had been cat-free for the first time ever (both of us always had cats ever since we could remember). So, I took the plunge and adopted all three of them! 

Cali and Tux, exiting their crate on the day they were adopted

Introducing the kittens to Hobie and Hector was a challenge, but we made it through. Tux, himself, trained Hobie that he (Tux) means business -- he actually drew blood! None of the other dogs have ever messed with Tux. He's the big boss of the brood. If you get a good look at Tux, you can see that he is much larger than Cali and Newman -- why? Because he steals all their food!

Living in a multi-pet household has its challenges, but I would never have it any other way. I literally do not know what I would do if it were not for Tux, Newman, Cali, Cooper and Charlie Brown -- and all my pets before them. I love my dogs and cats so much. 

So, grab a coffee, pull up a chair, and watch me and Tux play "kitty on the keyboard" together, while we learn a few things about dog rescue. 

Remarks? Tell me your thoughts in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

This post contains affiliate links. I only promote items my pets and I already use, and are passionate about. If you purchase one of these items, we get a tiny little bit of money. Enough to maybe buy one can of cat food! Moolah for Mueller. Sometimes we get samples or a supply of the product in exchange instead of cash. Thank you for your support!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My favorite traveling with dogs photo

This is my favorite picture of myself. Ok, I know, self-absorbed! But isn't that what social media and the internet is for, when you think about it?

This photo was taken in 1987 during my very first trip to the island of Tobago in the Caribbean. Nobody ever knows where Tobago is. It is the sister island of Trinidad, and is located about 90 miles off the coast of Venezuela -- due east of Aruba, if you will. Tobago is the very last island in the Caribbean chain before you reach South America, more or less.  In fact, my mom, when she was alive, would always say, "Are you going to South America?" instead of "Are you going to Tobago?" ha ha.

My favorite pic of myself, with Tobago the dog!

I deliberately did not retouch or Photoshop this picture. It is actually a paper snapshot from "back in the day" before digital cameras

The way I see it, this should not be my favorite photograph of myself. I was going through a horrible time in my life. While I was in Tobago, my father died, 6 days after the birthday we shared. I was going through a divorce, and had just come off of the worst six months in my (relatively new) travel career:  the terrorist attacks of 1986 (terrorism was new then) had caused thousands of our customers to cancel their 1986 and 1987 tours. I had spent six months handling phone calls from angry clients wanting refunds. It was a horrible time. I spent the first few days of this trip with Gil, and then he went home. It was while I was by myself at his house that I learned my father died. I didn't go home for the funeral. People said I would regret that for the rest of my life. They were right, but I was 27 years old, young and stupid. I needed this break from "life". I needed to recharge and find myself. I stayed on the island and did not attend my father's funeral.

A week after Gil left, and I had been by myself (can't believe I did that!) my co-workers arrived, and we spent another two weeks on the island. It was, and would be, the only time I would spend a month in Tobago, even though I have been there dozens of times since. One of my co-workers snapped this photo for me.

The dog in the picture is named Tobago. Most dogs on the island are not big. He was the biggest dog on the island. If you see dogs on Tobago these days, you'll notice the black snout, and the brown coloring. We feel that Tobago the dog bred himself very strongly on the island (to this day there is still an aversion to spaying and neutering -- as with most Caribbean islands). We think his genes live on in the Tobagonian dogs of today.

Tobago the dog was a jumper. When he would greet people would jump on them and scratch the hell out of them (not deliberately), but because most people were wearing bathing suits, they'd get some awful scratches. But other than that, he was a pretty cool dog, and he lived a long time in Tobago years, which is not very long (dogs die young there, as a general rule). 

The island of Tobago is frozen in time. While the landscape changes due to erosion and too much building, the people never change. The locals still fish using large nets and everyone in the village helps pull the nets in each day. It's incredible to watch this more or less primitive tradition taking place. Tourists call Tobago "paradise". I'm not sure it still is, but back in 1987 it was as close to paradise as I had ever experienced. The Beatles and Princess Margaret (separately!) spent time on this island.

The most beautiful sunsets are on the island of Tobago -- second to none!

While I didn't travel WITH Tobago the dog, because he lived there, I became friends with so many dogs during my years traveling to Tobago. Here's a picture of one that I bonded with during one trip. It was my birthday. I usually went to Tobago for my birthday, as was tradition. I was sitting on the back porch crying (as I often did during these trips) and this dog just popped up over the back steps and laid down in front of me. He walked on the beach with me every day after that, and we became rather attached. We ended up helping his owners out for a couple of years, buying food for the dog and stuff like that. I doubt he is still alive, but I like to think he was sent to me, like an angel, by the birthday angels.

My canine 50th birthday present. Sent to me by angels.

Decades later! Gil and me in Tobago on my 50th birthday. It poured rain all week, but I didn't care. 

Do you have a favorite photograph of yourself? What is it about that picture that you like?
Tell me in the comments, or share it with me on Facebook

One of the things we used to do in Tobago was read books. We would "race" each other to see who could read a book the fastest. He always won, but not by much! We could read about a book a day.