Sunday, February 19, 2017

For the Love of Ryder, Part 2

We spent that first week with Ryder, and we all fell in love with him. He is friendly and polite, and his feathery tail swished its way back and forth through the week in a never-ending wag. By the time next Saturday came around, we were all ready to make the adoption permanent. We took him back to the adoption event on Saturday, arriving at the agreed upon time. We signed the papers, paid the fee, and he was ours!!

We had a short one-on-one training session, and went on our way. Ryder was settling in nicely to our family and routines, and then on Thursday, May 21, at about 10:30 p.m., just 5 days after our official adoption, the first seizure happened. We were sitting on the bed in the bedroom and I was looking away from Ryder talking to Nature Girl and doing something on my computer when, all of a sudden, she gasped and called for me to look at Ryder. He had slid off the end of the bed like a gelatin blob and was writhing and pawing on the floor.

At first, we thought he might have fallen off the bed and broken his neck in the fall. When the rigid movements kept on, however, it became obvious what was going on - he wasn't dying, but was having a Grand Mal Seizure. His back was stiff, his legs pedaling the air, his mouth drawn back into a horribly tortured pose, eyes glazed, saliva and foam coming from his mouth and nose. And the smell!!!! It was not a urine or feces smell, though he did lose his bladder, but another smell altogether. I cannot describe it, but it is one of the worst smells I have encountered.

I now understand how "seizure assist dogs" can determine a seizure in a human before it begins. The smell happens first, but the advance scent change is so slight that a human would not notice it in time. A dog's sense of smell is so much more acute than ours, they can scent the change and alert the human before their seizure occurs. This gives the human time to sit or lie down in a relatively safe place before their seizure begins.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know when a dog's seizure is going to occur, and no way to warn our furry friend(s). After that seizure, we gave Ryder a bath, and started doing some reading. We learned that seizures, if they are going to afflict a dog, usually afflict those around the age of 3 or older. Ryder turned 3 just a two weeks before our adoption. We also learned that certain pharmaceuticals, such as certain flea and tick treatment brands, had reported instances of seizure side effects. Ryder happened to have had one of those brands used on him two weeks before our adoption. In addition, he had undergone anesthesia to be neutered, and he had endured vaccinations all at the same time. This is routine in the rescue industry, but it can mean toxic overload for the dog(s) and cat(s) having been rescued.

Ryder had 6 more seizures, mostly about 17 days apart, but two of them occurred back-to-back. Most often, they happened between midnight and 3:00 a.m. which meant some sleepless nights, and bleary-eyed dog baths and blow-dries. We consulted veterinarians who said there was nothing to be done but to give anti-seizure medication. They wanted to give him Phenobarbital. That drug is a heavy-duty drug that has its own host of side effects and the possibility of changing his personality and causing him to always be lethargic.

 We consulted a holistic veterinarian who said he thought he could help. We started Ryder on an herbal protocol, hoping that it would work and we would not have to give the anti-seizure meds. It took time, but it seems to have worked. He went 20 days between seizures, then he went 4 months between! Now, he has gone 14 months without a seizure!

 We have a new problem, however. He recently began to walk with his back hunched, and to cry out for no apparent reason. Veterinary checks have revealed that he has two compressed vertebrae in his spine, at two separate locations. More reading and questioning reveals that his vertebral compressions are most probably a result of the seizures he endured. Seizures can actually cause vertebrae to crack (though thankfully Ryder's did not). The conventional veterinarian says we may end up having to do surgery. The holistic veterinarian is optimistic that we can avoid surgery. Either way, we have had to give some medications, some new herbal therapies, and some acupuncture treatments.

 Acupuncture for a dog, you ask??? Why, yes, indeed! Ryder LOVES his treatments (he has had 3 acupuncture treatments). He gets so relaxed and gets a dreamy-eyed look on his face. After the treatments, he seems much more peppy and moves more normally. For now, it seems that we have gotten the muscle spasms around the compressed areas to relax, and he is doing well. We are told that he should not worsen, and that we can do the treatments only when it appears to become again necessary.

We wouldn't trade him for anything. He is one of the sweetest (though grumbly at times) dogs I have known. He loves his girl and has slept in her bed every single night since his first night at our house. I am glad he ended up with us because if he had gone to another home, he might have been returned and put down, or he might have ended up on heavy medications. Please keep him in your thoughts.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

For the Love of Ryder

Go Fund Me - Ryder's Fund
Click the Photo to go to Ryder's Fund

Ryder is our rescued Deer Chihuahua.

I have never witnessed love at first sight between a human and animal before we met Ryder, and I don't know if I will ever have the blessing to witness such a perfect and immediate bond again, but I am thankful that I was present and paying attention when it happened this time.

We have a small dog named Prince who joined our family as a 10-week-old puppy in 2012. He will be 5 years old in May of this year. We were happy with him as our sole dog, and were not looking for a new member of the family. Nature Girl, however, wanted to explore short-term fostering of other animals and volunteering at our local animal shelter. She was too young to volunteer at the shelter, and we hadn't found the time to foster, but we did visit the shelter often and she took time to visit with the dogs and cats and give them attention.   She never complained when it was time to leave.

On Mother's Day weekend in 2015, we were at PetSmart with Prince. Nature Girl went to take a look at the pets up for adoption, just to browse, NOT TO ADOPT! (I was adamant that we were NOT looking for an animal to adopt, so she should not get attached enough to ask.) We make our plans, and sometimes the Heavenly Father has other plans. She went to look at this particular Chihuahua who seemed to be very interested in her and also seemed very calm and friendly. Their eyes met, she gave him a pet, and sat next to the portable pen to pet him some more. He was SOOOOO SOFT and so polite. She was mesmerized, and he was ignoring all other people but her. I called her away, and told her that it was nice that she had given him some attention.

As she walked away from him, he howled for her to come back, all the while still ignoring others. There was another little girl trying to pet him, and he turned his back to her and gazed our direction. Nature Girl got a pleading look in her eyes, but I stood firm. WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER DOG. As the uncharacteristic tears welled up in her eyes and the little sweet dog howled for her, we resolutely left the building. She cried. She did not beg, as she is a polite and respectful sort, but she softly cried. I was wavering and marveling at the sight I had just witnessed. This dog actually howled for her! She is in tears (and she has never ever cried at having to leave the animals at the shelter before, despite frequent visits).

When we arrived back at PetSmart to pick up Prince a few hours later, this sweet little Chihuahua was still there. Adoption time was ending, and he had not been chosen. He howled to Nature Girl when he saw her walk into the building. She ran to him with tears in her eyes. I caved. I asked the woman if we could foster him for a week, just to see if he would be a good fit with our family, and if Prince would accept him. The woman was elated, and said we could take him for the week. So, we left there with Prince, and our new friend, Ryder, in tow.

Now, how to tell Mr. Nature? He had been adamant that he also did not think we needed another dog. We worried that he would be upset because he had not been consulted or included in the decision. I reasoned that we had not made a permanent decision, and that he could stamp the idea with his ultimate veto if he chose. Mr. Nature was very understanding, but he did not say that we could make this dog a permanent member of the family (yet). He agreed that we could keep Ryder for a week and see how things went.

More in my next post...

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Thursday, November 24, 2016


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  Yesterday, my dear friend gave up her battle with cancer and went Home to live with the Heavenly Father.

Thanksgiving finds its origins in early meals of thankfulness for the harvest.  Over the past almost 400 years, people have held an annual observance of thankfulness.

In our modern lives where we are no longer all hunting, growing, harvesting, and preserving our own food, the holiday of Thanksgiving has become a day to give thanks for all manner of things from food to friends and family and beyond.

I give thanks today for my family, our health, and our home.  I give thanks for my friends, their health, and their homes.  I give thanks for the time I had with my dear friend while she was here with us on Earth, and that she is no longer suffering with the excruciating pain of her illness.  I give thanks that I was able to see her out, and that we shared farewell sentiments.

It is amazing to me how a person can be the glue that holds others together.  Sometimes families don't even realize that a certain person is the one who binds them all, and the hole that person leaves will create a void that all else crumbles and falls into, perhaps irreversibly.

In my work life, I often see families crumble after a death.  Sometimes this can be avoided with good planning.  Other times, it is unavoidable and so dividing that people stop talking to each other altogether.  In my personal life, I have experienced the silence of family members for 15 - 20 years or more.  It is always tragic when the loss of one person causes the downfall of a family, but it shows how important each of us is to the working dynamic of a circle of family and friends.  It also shows the importance of planning and maintaining good, healthy communication at all times.  Nobody wants to talk about what would happen "if", but these are discussions that people need to have so that in the eventuality of a death, all surrounding lives can navigate a smooth transition.

Hug your loved ones tightly, today and every day, and make sure you let them know how to manage with and without you. Most of all, tell them you love them, and let them know you are thankful for their presence in your life.

As ever, I thank the Heavenly Father for allowing me this human existence, and for the love I have known and will know.  I am thankful for the health of my mind and body, for the time I have with my family and friends, and for my ability to lend a helping hand to others along the way.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Joey + Rory - To Joey With Love

I don't know how you feel about Joey + Rory, or whether you are at all interested in their story, but I have been deeply moved by the faith, hope, and love that shone through them as they shared their "severe mercy" with the world. 

I don't watch television, other than occasional choice streaming of specific shows or movies, so I never saw them on the show that catapulted them into the public spotlight. I stumbled upon them online somehow near the time that Rory began his blog and Joey was first diagnosed with cervical cancer, and I was transfixed. 

I have a friend who has been battling cancer for almost three years.  It has taken a lot from her, and she still manages to keep her faith in the Heavenly Father, present a positive attitude, and wants to help others to any extent she is able.  I have had female friends in their 30's, 40's, and 50's die from cancer in recent years. all leaving young children and bewildered, heartbroken husbands. I watched a family lose their 35-year-old father to cancer just over a year ago, after he bravely battled for over 4 years. I lost my father to cancer when he was just 52 years old.  Instead of searching for a cure, I believe we need to be searching for the cause.  If we could eliminate the cause of this increasing disease, we could save untold lives.

Cancer defeated my grandfather when I was 12 years old.  It wasn't as prevalent in those days. There weren't cancer hospitals in every city, and I didn't know one child or young person who had the disease.  I was, however, terrified that I would get cancer.  It looked painful and scary, and it robbed people (us) of their beloved family member (grandpa).  Little did I know that cancer was about to bloom to become one of the leading causes of death, and that almost every person I knew as I navigated adulthood would be in some way touched by cancer.  These days, there are cancer stories in abundance, and you cannot pass a person on the street who hasn't either had cancer or known someone who has.  I have escaped it thus far, but nobody knows the future.

What sets the Joey + Rory story apart, for me, is that it is magnified, inspiring, and beautifully rendered.  Rory was, and is, a song writer.  He was writing songs and giving small performances long before he met Joey.  He has a way with words that allows him to pour out heartrending emotion in a beautiful way, on his blog and now on the screen.  I saw the movie last night, and it was exactly what I expected (documentary style use of "home video" with narration), but also more.  It is not for everybody, but for those who wish to see, it is very moving. 

Some people have posted nasty comments about his motives, but I think that people can find ugliness in any place they choose to find it.  People can also find beauty and truth, if they are willing to see.  I see a mourning husband who believed in the higher good that sharing Joey's life could bring.  Rory has his own faith, but he has stated that Joeys' faith was bigger.  Rory believed in Joey's knowledge that this mortal realm is not our final resting place, and that the bigger picture is where our spirit resides after out body ceases to function. 

Whether we like it or not, cancer is a common thread that binds we humans together, even if we don't know each other personally, and even if we are so different from each other in lifestyle, beliefs, or tastes that nothing much else would bind us. It has become such a common story that many of us turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the human interest stories that we can read every day in almost every form of media.

Joey had a life force within her that even now defies death.  She was beautiful in physical appearance, and also in her soul and spirit.  Joey had a graceful, quiet bearing, and a magnificent singing voice.  She was humble and steadfast in her faith in the Heavenly Father and his love.  I felt that I could almost see light emanating from her in photos, in the video of her live performances, and in the video of her day-to-day life.  No matter what life threw at her, even when she was despondent and in tears, she had a sturdy rod of faith holding her upright and glowing.  

She smiled through her pain.  She wanted to comfort others when they were grieving for her as she went through the diagnosis and treatment.  She knelt to pray, and she sang hymns through it all.

I lament that she is gone, and that her clear and sterling voice will never again grace a live stage on this Earth.  I grieve for her family in the loss of their beloved Joey.  I revel in the legacy that she left behind, and in the shining example of faith she set.  My personal belief is that the Heavenly Father does not cause the afflictions of this world, but He does have a purpose for each of us, and perhaps her purpose was to be that shining example, that others may find Him through her story.  My hope is that, as Rory has been led to share Joey with the world, there will be those who find Joey's life as beautiful, full, and inspiring as I have, and it will lead them to a life of faith and love for others, even if they are in the process of navigating their own devastating life circumstances.  

I thank Joey's parents for guiding such a beautiful spirit from birth to adulthood, and I thank Rory for sharing her with us.  I hope people will see that the Heavenly Father has used her in an extraordinary way, but He did not "take her from us" or "cause her pain".  I hope people will see the light and beauty that shone from her while she was here, and the light that still shines on the wake she left behind her.

As Joey would say, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through...the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore..."