Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saying goodbye

2/6/11 ~ 6/19/14
a.k.a. "Poopy"

I expected to be sad when Zola left us, I did not expect to be devastated. I should have known though, nothing with her happened by the book. She was a special case. Taken in by us when we heard a very sick pug needed a home. Who else should take in a sick dog but someone who works for a vet? What can I say, we met her and fell under her spell. She did that to people. Her life expectancy wasn't known, and may have only been weeks. The kids were warned. Considering how down and out she was when we took her, we didn't expect it to be very long. 
She had other plans.
Once she was on the proper food and medication for her defective liver she felt better and maintained pretty well. And once she felt better she was joy incarnate. Aside from her moments of pure bitchy-ness towards Jenny, which had to be managed closely in the end. In my 20 plus years with experience in akitas I had no dog fights, a couple of years with 2 female pugs and my skills in behavior modification were tested. I learned a lot about the power of health issues in dealing with behavior problems. All the behavior modification in the world will not work if the medical issue isn't addressed.
     On top of the liver shunt was a jaw that lacked full mobility, a bad eye, a bad knee, a misshapen skull and when overheated, a tongue that covered her nose if she panted. The worst possible design flaw in a dog with breathing issues. She loved going for walks but I had to be extra careful when I could take her. She was only 10 pounds when we took her and 8 months old. She never grew bigger than 13lbs. She drank a lot and peed a lot. And I mean a LOT. Not always giving us enough warning to get her outside. Some days she was a real pain in the ass. But her cuteness trumped all that. We forgave her for everything. 

She went downhill fast at the beginning of the month. I could tell she didn't feel well. She stopped wanting her meals. Thankfully a good supply of fresh duck eggs from a friend could coax her into eating something on the days she refused her special food. Her bloodwork showed progression of the liver disease. Not a surprise, but I thought we still had more time together. We tried medication for her appetite but it didn't help. Then the seizures started. It may have been from the toxin build up. We weren't sure. 

She stopped wanting to cuddle. 
     That killed me. She would stand there and look at me and I couldn't make her feel better. Her breathing got weird. I took her back in to see the doctor and found out she was going into heart failure. Something we couldn't slow down. She still greeted each new day as she always did, the cheerleader of life. Joy personified. But then her energy was spent. It wasn't fair to keep her alive and miserable, just because we couldn't imagine life without her. I knew it was the right thing to do. We all knew it was the right thing to do. 
It still sucks. 
     I try to focus on all the joy she brought us, and the lessons she taught. Live in the moment. Be happy. Tomorrow isn't promised. Be grateful. Cuddle more. Sometimes you just gotta pee.
She was joy. 
She was love. 
We were lucky to have had her in our lives. 
     There is something extra hard about losing a high maintenance dog in a household. So much of our schedule revolved around her. Preparing her meals, her medication schedule, the multiple potty breaks throughout the day and night. Those empty spaces makes us feel her absence that much more. I am fortunate to work with an awesome veterinarian who is also a friend. She was there for us in the end. We got to let her go under a beautiful blue sky surrounded by buttercups. It was beautiful and horrible and I still can't believe she is gone.
We love you Poopy.
And even miss your puddles. 
  My kingdom for just one more puddle. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My longest overdue post ever.

Yes I know this is a very overdue update. Keeping up with my facebook page is so much easier than the blog so it has fallen by the wayside. Sorry about that.

Zola has beaten all odds and is still with us. She is doing very well! She is a robust 13 pounds now and full of hell. (Compared to the 10 pounds she came to us at.) Clearly she has no idea she is "sickly". Her jaw can open a bit further now as well. She is still a messy eater and blending her food is still necessary. She doesn't care though as long as she gets fed. Jenny and Jack are still excellent as well.

The prison program, K-9 Corrections, has begun again. This time we are at the supermax of the Maine State Prison instead of the Bolduc farm minimum facility. It is quite the change, at least for me. Many more rules to abide by as you can imagine. Including not being able to carry my camera so I have fewer photos to post. (I'm working on that!) But the handlers are all still very motivated and happy to have the dogs to train. They work hard and are doing very well. We are still on the first two pups to see if this will work out there or not. Here is our fb page:  Fingers crossed it keeps going well.

On another note if you tried to reach me by phone a few weeks ago and didn't get through I apologize. We were having technical difficulties. I was even thinking of changing to my cell phone number for the business. We had the cable company come out and fix it so it is back up to speed. I can be reached at on my home phone at 354-6488. I am more sporadic by e-mail so be patient if you e-mail me. I am reachable through my facebook page as well.

So yes I AM still here and training dogs. Give me a call or shout out if you need my help. Tail wags!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Good news to begin the New Year.

I do love starting the new year off with good news. I took Zola to the vet recently to re-check her liver panel and get some recent x-rays for her jaw. The blood work came back good. We have been managing her liver shunt issue very well and it shows. We did learn that she is prone to low blood sugar which is new information but important to know.

But the best news is that her jaw issue isn't getting worse as we thought was inevitable. In previous x-rays we thought we saw a growth. In the new x-rays nothing was seen. We also measured how far she can open her mouth. It has improved from 1 and 1/2 centimeters to 2 centimeters. That doesn't sound like much but considering the alternative, it gets smaller and eventually she won't be able to eat, then it is fabulous news.

This is a photo of one of her x-rays. We have a new digital radio-graph machine at work which is also excellent  news for us because we can see things more clearly. Her face is scrunched up because they were holding her jaw open with gauze strips. You can see her old original x-rays here: The mass that could be felt before is also no longer there. So while she will probably still have a shorter than normal life span, it isn't going to be as short as we previously thought. That is great news to me!

I also wanted to share a couple of dog related gifts I got from friends this year. This one makes me laugh every time I walk by it.

I think it looks a lot like Jenny too!

This one was from another friend. She made the whole thing by hand. She has a great shop on etsy here: My dogs all have some of her toys and they are wonderful and stand up well.

I have awesome friends. 

As you can see I had a great holiday and my new year has had a great beginning. I hope the same can be said for all of you! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The good and the bad ~ an update

So many things, so little blogging. I know I have been lax about blogging. It is what it is I suppose. I am better at keeping my FB page updated if you want real time info for the record. This cutie is Dora. She just finished her stint on the K-9 Corrections program and headed to her new home today. They are a very lucky family. She is very smart and was a lot of fun to work with. Cute no?

The tug was a donation from the Loyal Biscuit Tug ME Toy Co. Tug is one of my Jack's favorite games and one that can really help build a relationship with a dog. Check out this great article on playing tug with your dog:

I am taking a bit of a hiatus from K-9 Corrections until spring. I need some time to recharge my batteries and figured this was a good time of year to do it. I have never been a fan of driving in the snow. Plus they are going through some changes at the facility so this will give them time to settle in to their own new routine.

On a sad note the french mastiff I told you about before that got adopted passed away unexpectedly. He had been having some behavior episodes that wasn't like him so we think perhaps he had something neurological happen. He was found curled up in his bed like he was asleep in the morning so we believe it wasn't painful. I am just grateful he had the opportunity to have a great home for awhile first. R.I.P sweet Brutus.

Zola is still doing ok. She has had a few mornings of not eating her breakfast. I think it might be because eating takes a long time for her now. Some days I have to puree her food. Her mouth only opens about 3/4 to 1/2 an inch. She is still very happy and is as spastic as always. Even the days she hasn't eaten well she still loves her stuffed Kong and chewing on her antler. She gets medications 4 times a day (for her liver shunt) and is still good about taking them all too. (luckily for me)

Nom, Nom, Nom.

It is an odd thing to live with a dog you know has a short time left. In some ways it is good that you know it is coming. In theory it gives you time to prepare and you live in the moment. In other ways it sucks. I try to focus on the fact she didn't have much time left when we took her in and yet she surpassed that time. We have had her over a year when we expected to have her for only a few weeks or months. Her second birthday is in February. My fingers are crossed. We are getting a new digital x-ray machine at work soon so I am hoping to take her in to get a better look at what is going on. Maybe we can also try stretching her jaw while she is under for the x-rays. We shall see. I don't want to do anything that will bother her or put her at risk either.

Regardless what happens I am happy I took her in. She is the personification of joy. She has no idea what the future holds and she is happy and having fun. That is all that really matters. Ignorance is bliss.We should all be so lucky if you think about it. Live in the moment and have fun while you can.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Drumroll please!!

OK hold that thought. Yesterday was Jack's birthday. He turned 8 years old. I can't believe it. 8 sounds so much more mature than 7 doesn't it? Maybe it is just a mental thing for me but I now consider him a grown up. I had to work but to celebrate he got a cow trachea at lunchtime. Today he went to the prison with me to see how the new puppy (Dori) would do meeting a big dog. She was very sweet and did great with him. (and vice versa as expected)  She really wanted to play but whenever he tried playing back she tapped out by rolling over. Maybe she'll be more comfortable next time.

 He really wanted her to play tug.

 Last weekend we got to walk with my friend Meredith and her dog Ryka. She was smitten with Jack so we have decided she is his girlfriend. Or perhaps he can be her personal body guard. He's fine being either as long as he gets to walk beside her.

OK back to that drumroll: To top off our weekend today we went to and took a Canine Good Citizen test together. He passed!! He is now officially*: Liberty's After the Frost CGC. Yay!!! (* technically unofficially until we get the certificate in the mail)

You can still call him Jack though. I don't want his head to swell. Congrats to Ryka who also passed her CGC test. Double yay!!!!

Jack is such an amazing dog. Even though he considered cheating on Ryka with the tester dog Bravo, (the CUTEST miniature poodle ever so I can't blame him) he was a perfect gentleman. Of course living with his own 2 ladies keeping him in check probably helps some. This is what happens daily around here:

Zola thinks he is her special heated bed and cuddle cave and Jenny steals his chewies. Luckily for them he is very tolerant.

I am blessed to be able to share my life with such a wonderful dog. Thank you Donna and Mike of Liberty Akitas for breeding such fabulous dogs and trusting me with him.

He still isn't a fan of his mom with the camera tho. :-) 

Friday, September 28, 2012

He's a prince that needs a home

I have a breeder friend who took back a dog after being in a home for 5 years. This is what a good breeder does. They either take back a dog they bred when it needs a new home OR helps the owner find the dog a new home. THIS is just one reason why I support reputable breeders.

This obviously gorgeous Chow Chow boy needs a new home. One where limits will be set fairly for him. His is a bit of a Cinderella story, only in reverse. He was spoiled on an estate and had acres to roam, kids to play with and staff to attend to him. (yes, he literally had staff) Sadly his owner was uncomfortable when he protested being pulled out of the car (one of his favorite spots) and decided he was to much dog for her. Now he is back at the kennel and wishing he was in a home he can call his own again. To protect his identity I will call him "Prince".

He has lived with kids and does fine with female dogs. He is VERY social and loves people. He also has a great willingness to learn and might make someone an excellent obedience prospect. (He still remembered his High Five trick I taught him when he was a pup.) If I didn't already have a big hairy dog in residence he would probably have come home with me.

Now I admit I am slightly biased about him. He was here for training when he was a puppy and I got to work with him when he spent some time with the breeder while the family traveled. ( ) I also LOVE this breeders dogs. She breeds with health in mind and her dogs have wonderful temperments.

 He comes from completely health tested lines, is already neutered and crate trained. He is used to going to the groomer regularly as well. He is 5 years old, which in her lines isn't even close to old. (15 years is average)

While he does need a home that will set limits, macho owners need not apply. These dogs do not do well with force methods that insult their intelligence. 

"Prince" in action. 

One of the things I have found ironic is how fast people leap into action with a dog that has a sob story. Show a photo of a dog that has been abused, or suffering from a medical condition and people line up around the block to help out. Post a dog that isn't in danger of being euthanised and comes from a good background and you can hear the crickets chirping. I understand why, people love a sad story. And people want to see those dogs get a good home fast. Yeah his previous home was nice enough, but it still wasn't all it could have been or he wouldn't have been given up. "Prince" would like a real home too. So please pass this on so he can get his own storybook ending. Thank you!

Serious inquiry's can e-mail me at or call me at 207-354-6488. His breeder isn't online as much as I am so I am helping by screening calls. He is located on the coast of Maine. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Never judge a book....

I’m not sure why some people have a hard time thinking of dogs as individuals. We lump dogs into the breed box they fill and expect them to act like the books say they will. I think we need to be careful of how much we try to fit our dogs into that specific size box. Mainly because I think it is unfair to many of those dogs. What could we be denying them by expecting A.B.C. and the dog in front of us is really B.C. and D or even D.E. and F.? We don’t really know if we don’t give them a chance.

Make no mistake; I am just as guilty of it at times. You say Border Collie to me and I immediately think high energy with a propensity to herd things. You say Beagle and I think, a dog that follows its’ nose. Those are traits that those breeds are known for. However I have met border collies that were couch potatoes and beagles that didn’t seem any more interested in following a scent than any other dog. What we need to remember is that breeds traits are a possibility of what the dog may be like, it isn’t a guarantee.

As a dog trainer I have had over 10 years meeting many dogs and watching their behaviors. (and have 20 years of experience as an adult dog owner) What I have seen over that time has convinced me that we aren’t giving some of our dogs a fair shake when it comes to judging them on their own merits. Dogs have a hard enough time on this planet being misunderstood due to a communication gap between our species. There are many examples of that out there. Do we really want to add to their challenge of living with us?

When I got my first Akita, well-meaning Akita people scared the crap out of me about the breed. They said “Oh watch them with other animals, they are hunters.” “They don’t like other dogs.” “They will kill a cat if they get a chance.” and my favorite “Akitas are great as long as you don’t mind them growing up to eat your children.” That last one was told to me by a dog trainer in my area at the time when I showed him my new puppy. I was a first time dog owner (as an adult) so you can imagine what this did for me. Thankfully I decided to optimistically cautious and raised that dog with cats, kept him through the birth of my children (who are both still alive and unscarred) and added new dogs to the home after he was an adult. Looking back he probably was even more social than I gave him credit for but I was super cautious and didn’t let him have a chance to interact much with other dogs out of fear from those first planted seeds. Compared to the dogs I have now he led a very sheltered life and I regret that for him.

Aside from all the dogs I have worked with over the years, I have some experience with my own dogs being individuals too.

I have a pug that I have done tracking with. It wasn’t something I decided to try on a whim. She air scented on a watch that had been left behind in my yard by one of my children’s friends. I was surprised when it happened. Pugs weren’t supposed to be able to breathe right, let alone do scent work! I had done tracking with some of my other dogs so I decided to give it a go with her. She is very good! (And held back only by her lazy handler.) If I had listened to popular opinion on the breed I never would have even attempted such an activity with her.

I also have an Akita that helps me socialize dogs on my prison program, and test other dogs when needed. I decided when he was young to socialize him really well with other dogs to see if that would make a difference with the potential for aggression towards other dogs’ trait. He is now 7 years old and does well with many other dogs. (with the right introductions of course) Again, if I had listened to the breed experts, what would he have been denied?

We need to stop underestimating our dogs as individuals. Are there pugs out there who can’t breathe and do tracking? Absolutely. Are there Akitas out there who aren’t good with all other dogs? Absolutely. In the same vein there are Golden Retrievers that are also not good with other dogs. And Chow Chows that are big pussy cats. (My hand to God I have met those dogs.) That door swings both ways. But how many of them aren’t given the opportunity to be who they really are? Does this mean we need to throw what we know about breed traits out the window? Of course not. Knowing the traits of a breed can still give us an idea of what the blueprint might be. Unlike a blueprint for a building however, we need to remember that the dog is a living being that is a product of many things. Environment, training, brain chemistry, genetics are all parts of the puzzle. But it is still a puzzle. The pieces go in the way they fit, not the way we sometimes want them to go.

Train and love the dog you have behaviorally in front of you, not what the dog might be according to some book. The dogs aren’t reading those books after all.

Tail wags,
Marie Finnegan
K-9 Solutions Dog Training Inc.

Me with my first akita, Kuma. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm back! and a K-9 Corrections update

I went with my family on a little vacation. The photo may give away where. I big shout out to Perry Greene Kennel  and Kendra Hubbard who took care of all my dogs while I was away. Jack and Jenny go to the kennel and Zola went to stay with Kendra, her former foster mom since she needs extra care with all of her medications. It is much easier to relax when you know your dogs are being well taken care of.
The two new dogs on the K-9 Corrections program did fine during the hiatus. Since they are learning the basics and to be around people not much changed in their routine with me gone for a couple sessions. (and I had people checking in on them) Dixie is still very shy. We are trying a thundershirt but she still has a ways to go in learning how to relax. She does seem to really like other dogs and prefers the company of women given the choice. Luckily her handlers are both very patient with her.

Hatfield is much more social with people. (we have been calling him Buddy) He is also a bit oral and likes to grab clothing in his mouth to invite you to play with him. I wish I had a better photo. If I had to guess I think that he is a cattle dog/chow mix based on his body shape. They are also siblings. His tongue is all black while her's just has some black spotting. She has the red coloring of a chow but is taller than him.

I am always amazed at how different siblings can be from one another. Both in behavior and in looks. The funny part is that Dixie was picked because she seemed overly attached to her brother. Once they settled in we saw the complete opposite. He wants to play and be with her more than she wants to be with him. Interesting. He also seems to love other dogs. I have taken my own dogs over and they were both very socially appropriate in their body language with each dog. (I took them separately of course.)
They have a few more weeks to go before they are ready for a new home. It took them awhile to settle in and get comfortable to learn new things. Some dogs take longer than others to acclimate.  You can read more updates about them, and learn more about the program, on our facebook page: Anyone interested in the dogs can apply to adopt them at The Humane Society Of Knox County.
A reminder, I am more active on my facebook page than here these days. So if you want to keep current on all my "doings" make sure to like my page. Thank you!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Classical conditioning on the fly

So the other night I took Jenny for a walk because it was nice and cool out. It was also dark which is a good time to walk because the pavement is cooler. I had forgotten to bring treats with me so when I parked I dug out my emergency Ritz cracker stash from the glove box. (Ritz crackers with peanut butter for the moments I am starving or have an upset stomach.) Jenny loves all food so I knew those would work to use as rewards if needed. Sometimes we just walk and sometimes I throw in a quick training session. While we were walking by the Stand theater I noticed the girl putting up the letters on the marquee was someone I know. I stopped to say hello while she worked.

I was not paying attention to the way she was doing the work. Jenny saw the long pole moving however and started freaking out, trying to run away and began barking. (The long pole has a suction cup on the end which gets slammed onto the letter, then raised to slide into the slot on the marquee, pull off and repeat for the next letter. Not only is it a long pole but there are scary noises.) Now when I first got Jenny there was a fair amount of getting her to not be scared of walking main street because of the signs that blow in the wind and balloons that were sometimes there and all the noises. She now walks main street like a pro. (I prefer walking main street with my dogs because there are far fewer loose dogs to avoid in those areas.)
Thankfully I had the ritz crackers with me so I pulled them out and began feeding bits to Jenny while my friend worked. Classical conditioning is basically pairing something the dog doesn't like, with something the dog does like. In Jenny's case the thing she liked was food, and the thing she didn't like was the long pole moving and the sounds it made when sticking to the sign. What is important to remember in the time you are pairing the two is that it doesn't matter that the dog is barking. You are not rewarding "bad behavior", we are instead reprogramming the emotional event for the dog. The barking is just the dogs way of releasing it's anxiety and saying "Keep away!" (which is why holding a dog muzzle shut can increase anxiety) I also act confident and just praise the dog anytime she is quiet or calming down at all WHILE I am still giving the food treats.
Some dogs may need to be moved away from the "scary thing" (scary in THEIR perception, not ours) to be what we call under threshold. (far enough away to be less scared so they can think) Then we pair the food anytime the dog looks at the scary thing. We can then move slowly closer over time while we are treating. If classical conditioning isn't possible in the moment simply walk away from the scary object instead. If we force a dog towards something they are afraid of they go into a fight or flight mode. This is an instinctual thing for self preservation. That means they would either chose to run away from the scary thing, or go after it to defend themselves. In either case they are not in a thinking mode and won't learn because they are too stressed. Our job is to get them back into a thinking mode to learn it isn't something they need to be afraid of. The most important part is that we need to remember that it is the DOGS perception of what is scary. Just because we know it isn't something they don't need to be scared of, it doesn't negate their emotion of the event for them.

After treating her for a few minutes and getting her to a calmer state we left to finish our walk. On the way back we were on the other side of the road as we passed. My friend was still there working. Jenny looked at  her, then looked at me. I tossed her a treat, and we kept on walking. Perfect!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm still here!

Wow, that may be the longest non-blogging stretch of mine on record. I AM still here! I have just been busy or pre-occupied to blog. Not to mention blogger changed the layout and I HATE change so I was resistant to jump back in. But that isn't fair to my regular readers. (If they are still out there!)
Things to know: You might see me driving around wearing a surgical mask.

Do not be alarmed, I am not contagious, just fighting an allergy. I have to go see a pulmonary specialist at the end of the month to figure out exactly what the problem is and to see if there are any medications that can help. Currently the only thing that helps is a cough medicine that is strong so I can only take a partial dose if I have to drive or function. If I take a full dose at night then I can't sleep. Not really helpful I know. The mask cuts down on my coughing DRASTICALLY so I wear it to give myself some relief. I am aware it looks ridiculous. Even more so today since a worker at a local cafe in Rockland chose to burst out laughing when she saw me yesterday. Gee thanks. 
I have lost weight. No I am not "sick" like some have been speculating. If you are interested you can read about my weight loss journey here on my food blog:  I have lost 20lbs since changing my diet and adding some exercise. 
On another note my new t-shirts are in!!!
This is the one I will be wearing when I walk my dogs in public. I am my own billboard! They came out great. A shout out to KDK Designs for doing the shirts for me and Paws & Ink for helping me flesh out my fancy new logo. Next I will be getting a jacket embroidered from KDK for fall. 
Zola is doing fabulous. I was worried because she has reached the point where I need to make her food into a slurry now so she can eat. I thought maybe the growth was getting large fast. It seems to have slowed down lately though. She feels great and is a the proverbial naughty puppy. It's a good thing my other dogs will play with her. Her energy level would be wearing me out otherwise. Here she is pushing her way into Jenny's photoshoot for her new thundershirt. Jenny has a fear of things that make sizzling noises when they are cooking so I thought I would try it. Of course we haven't cooked anything that qualified so I don't have feedback for you yet.

The thundershirt has been working for one of our prison dogs Violet. She has pretty severe noise phobias and the shirt has been helping. Thanks to the Loyal Biscuit for the donation of the shirt to the program. Violet is ready to find her new home by the way. I would like to see her go where she has another stable dog to play with. She really does well with a confident dog around to take cues from. She also plays with the other dog over there, Abby, regularly. She will be making day trips to the Humane Society of Knox County on Wednesdays so people interested can go meet her. She lived her life at the end of a chain and is fearful of new things but has come a long way on the program. I would not put her in a home with young children because of her fear of new things and noises for safety. (tho she will chose to run than fight) Contact the shelter for more information. Our programs facebook page is: where you can read updates about the dogs currently there. 

Jack is very happy that we got a new picnic table for him to lay on. We even added an umbrella this year for his majesty's comfort. Such a spoiled boy. He deserves it though. 

In the early evenings I have been spending time reading or doing fiber stuff in the yard while the dogs play. (Fiber stuff = knitting or spinning yarn) 

I tried to get a good photo of all of them together and this was the best I got. Yeah I need to work on that. 

I finally read the Rin Tin Tin book. I found it to be fabulous. The writing is wonderful and it tells many stories, not just about the successive Rin Tin Tins. It was also about Lee Duncan, the man who found and trained Rinty, as well as how dog training got started in this country. There was a lot of information about old Hollywood as well and other people who kept the Rin Tin Tin legend alive. I also loved how the author added her feelings to the story. It is an amazing book and I was sad to see it end. 

So that catches you up on a lot of what has been happening here. If you want to stay current with my shenanigans be sure to check out my facebook page:  I am much better at keeping that up to date since it is a bit more user friendly. I hope everyone is having a great summer!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What a difference a week makes

First let me report that the 5K went very well. Unfortunately Jenny had a sore paw and couldn't participate. Zola was my substitution. A pinch runner (walker) if you will. I figured if she got too tired she was small enough to carry. She did just fine. I only carried her when she panted and then it was because I was being paranoid. She only tolerated it for a few minutes at a time then struggled to get put back down. Since we weren't actually running it really wasn't an issue. Here we are with our friends Ashley and Prudence (she wanted nothing to do with the paparazzi as you can see) and Angelica and Leo. The weather for the day was incredible. Sunny and warm but not too hot for the dogs.

After the 5K we went over to the Loyal Biscuit Co. for the book signing for my friend Jen Blood. Here I am looking like a psycho stalker. Somehow very fitting. Why hold a book signing at a dog store you ask? Because the main character shops there for her dog of course.

Now for the other shoe. This weekend I was cuddling with Zola when I noticed a pretty sizable lump on her jaw. So Monday morning she came to work with me to get it checked out. We needed to do x-rays as it was not just a simple abscess like I had hoped. It turns out that it is some sort of mass and she cannot open her mouth as wide as she should be able to. She can only open it about an inch to an inch and a half. The doctor also saw evidence of deterioration in the joint of the jaw. This is a problem for a couple of reasons. One is if the mass is what is interfering how far she can open her mouth, and it keeps growing, she won't be able to eat eventually. She has always been a messy eater but I chalked that up to her being a pug with an extremely short jaw and under bite. Two is that we can't put her under anesthesia properly for any length of time because we can't open her jaw enough to safely intibate her. That coupled with her liver shunt makes anesthesia complicated. The position of the mass is also bad so removal doesn't look possible regardless. It was too firm to do an aspirate on though there wasn't any pitting of the bone that looked like the typical signs of cancer. Her lymph nodes are also swollen and her eye on that side cannot be pushed back into the socket as far as the other one can. (sorry I don't know the technical term for that)
So my options are limited because I don't have the finances to do anything extraordinary, nor does  it look like there are many things we could do anyway. We will watch and see if the mass grows and how fast it does. She is not painful in any way thankfully and doesn't seem to notice her limitations. She can eat, and bark, and play bitey face with Jack and Jenny with no issues. She even chews on her bones and shreds cardboard whenever she gets a chance. She is happy. I will just be keeping a close eye on her from now on. We might try an anti-inflammatory if I can find one that will be ok to give that won't bother her liver.
 I am going to post photos I took of her x-rays because I think x-rays are super interesting. Don't get to excited as they aren't the best since I took them with my phone. We did a few views and they vary in angle quite a bit. I wish they were more clear in showing the outline of her flesh so you can see where her nose is supposed to be to give you a point of reference. The mass is on her right side. I'm sorry that I can't remember if some of these rads have been flipped. (I do that because it gives me the illusion I can see better when in fact I can't read x-rays very well.)

This bottom one is with her on her back with her mouth being held open with some gauze.
So while she has been doing great as far as the liver shunt goes, now there is another thing that is threatening to shorten her life with us. I guess the beauty of being her is that ignorance is bliss. I wish we all could be as lucky.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The weekly roundup

First I'll start with the best news, Brutus has been adopted!! Not just to any home either, he nabbed himself one of the best homes I could think of. I am very pleased. He certainly deserves it.
Jenny and I have been walking more together because I need the exercise. I've always known she is athletic but wow, I had no idea! Saturday we are walking in a 5K locally with some friends. (Prudence and Leo and their people.) I decided to pre-walk it to challenge myself to see how fast we could do it. Our time was 43 minutes. Not to shabby! Sadly Jenny finished stronger than me which means I need to get in better shape.

The other thing I am doing on Saturday is hitting The Loyal Biscuit, one of my favorite haunts, for a book signing. Jen Blood ( is signing her book All the Blue-Eyed Angels there from 11:00 to 2:00. One of the characters in the book is a dog named Einstein. Check out the model search contest you can enter your own dog in to win some swag:  The book is excellent btw. I'm not even normally a mystery reader (aside from Susan Conant) but this book hooked me.

This is how I picture Einstein:

For the record this is a Pumi, a Hungarian herding breed. Very adorable and muppet like looking. How cute is that? It seems most of them bark a lot however which is a deal breaker for me personally.
The 2 new prison puppies have started. They are super sweet. They are litter-mates believe it or not. Mom was listed as a boxer mix but clearly at least one of the dads had some terrier in him. First there is Joshua.

And here is Justin.

They are super sweet and should be pretty easy to place once they graduate. They just needed to have some one on one time with a handler and learn to be a little more confident. So far so good!
I hope everyone who celebrates it had a Happy Easter or good Passover.