The sun is peaking through the haze, and I feel like I can breathe a little again. I love Texas! I love our weather! I know I am crazy for saying so, but it is true. We had an amazing fall. We had a mild winter...right up until a few weeks ago. Then it came in all at once. We have had ice. We have had snow. We have had brutal temperatures. We have had crazy winds. Nothing like getting it all in at one time! I say that cautiously because I believe we will get a little more in the near future. I have no meteorological background to base that on. It's just something I feel in my bones.
Most of you know when you don't hear from me for a long period of time it's because something is happening. It may be something good. It may be something bad. I just tend to drop off the face of the earth here and now. I used to make excuses for it. Now I just accept it. I hope you can as well. Obviously, after blogging for six years, I'm not going to change.
I have been stalling on this latest update for the last week. I have sat down several times to write this post, but each time, I knew I wasn't ready yet.
For those of you wondering...The last skunk I trapped has been successfully relocated and released! I am not a cruel person. I have not kept the little guy trapped up all this time.
Some of you already know we have suffered a loss here on the farm. If you follow along, you know we have quite the menagerie of animals that do their best to run this place. I say they run the place because I spend very little time thinking I am actually the one in charge.
I am not in charge!
On February 14th, Valentine's Day, the Man in Charge and I spent our night at the Emergency Hospital with one of our dogs. Her abdomen had bloated and was quite enlarged. Fearing her gut had twisted, we rushed her in for x-rays. After four hours, we learned that she had a ridiculous amount of fluid in her abdominal area. Two liters to be exact! They removed the fluid to ease her discomfort, and sent us home. We followed up with our regular veterinarian on Monday and learned she had liver cancer.
I hate cancer.
We knew our future with her would be short. After consulting with our vet, we knew the transitions she would go through. Our tasks included keeping her comfortable and encouraging her to eat as much as she wanted. The veterinarian's instructions were, "I want Belle to eat! Let her have whatever she wants!"
We have a running battle in our home because the Man in Charge likes to feed the dogs people food. For the most part, I don't really mind this, except when they eat something and get sick. You see, I am the one left to clean up the messes. I also don't really like dogs that beg. For those two reasons, I am constantly yelling at him to "Stop feeding the dogs!" With the vet's instructions, my Man took full advantage.
Belle enjoyed chips, snacks, lunch meat, cheese, anything and everything he had, she had!
They both loved it!
Belle turned 11 on 3/1/15. We made it to the 4th, and then had to put her down. I am not writing this because I want you to be sad. It was sad, but I want to share with you the life of this dog. This dog, who taught me so much about dogs. This dog, who greatly impacted our lives. This dog, who we will greatly miss.
We got Belle as a puppy. She was six weeks old, and a bundle of fur and belly. She had one ear that flopped over and she was the cutest thing ever. As a puppy, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was a bundle of uncontrollable energy. Constantly on the move. Constantly bugging the crap out of you to do something with her. We had two older dogs at the time, and she harassed them non-stop.
Belle loved to run around the yard, eating mud and sticks. Yes, eating them. I was certain she would do permanent damage to her digestive system, but she survived it. She hated bath time, and I mean hated bath time. She would scream at the top of her lungs like you were killing her. I remember one morning she had managed to cover herself in mud. Not wanting her to run through the house that way, I had one of the girls hose her off on the back porch before we let her back inside. She screamed so loud, one of our neighbors called to make sure everything was okay over here.
Belle would bug you to play with her. With four of us in the home at the time, plus two other dogs, we were still no match for her level of energy. Not to be put off, she managed to create new games to play with us even if we didn't want to play any longer.
One of her favorite games was "Toy on the Foot"
I can hear you now...what?
When we were all exhausted from trying to exhaust her, she would grab a toy in her mouth, and while you were sitting down trying to recover, she would hold the toy on your foot. If you tried to move your foot away, she would aggressively chase it. I can not tell you the amount of time we spent sitting cross-legged, bouncing a foot while she tried to keep the toy in place. She would growl and sound aggressive during this game, but she was good at it. The only way to make her stop would be to sit on your feet. As weird as this game sounds, in a small way it was a relief. We could keep her entertained all from the comfort of our easy chairs. We knew it was weird, but it became a part of our regular life. We never thought twice about it until we had a house guest. My Aunt came to visit, and sitting in the living room, trying to enjoy a cup of coffee and visit, Belle attacked her with a game of "Toy on the Foot." My Aunt was shocked and more than a little scared, thinking she was trying to eat her, but once I explained the game, she relaxed and became an active participant.
At six months of age, Belle's sister from her litter came to live with us. Even though they had been apart for months, after about two minutes, they had bonded and were chasing each other around the place. The two were inseparable after that. They loved having each other, and joined forces to create havoc at every opportunity. They ate remote controls. They destroyed a cell phone. They were bent on killing anything that may contain stuffing of any kind. For a year and a half, they really pushed every boundary I set for them.
They both taught me a lot about dogs.
They both taught me a lot about being a committed pet owner.
For my own sanity, and to encourage their development, we actually brought in other pets for their benefit.
Yes, I got pets for my pets!
They started with goats that we had actually acquired for our filly. Yes, even our horse had pets. They spent hours herding them into their pens, and they loved it. The goats didn't really love it, and for their own survival, they learned the game quickly.
Run to pen!
Belle had a pet bunny that lived inside. She spent countless hours watching her rabbit. It was really like doggy television! While it kept her occupied, she was quick to come get you if her bunny was sleeping. It disturbed her if she went to sleep, and she would run back and forth to get me just so I could make sure the bunny was okay. I would explain that her bunny was sleeping, and she'd lay down in a huff and watch her until she awoke.
I also purchased baby ducks for these two. Then, set about making them a round pen in the yard so we could train on herding. The ducks were inside the pen, and the dogs ran the outside. Belle's only issue with herding, she only had two speeds - Down and Full Speed!
In the end, Belle's favorite pet has been the cat. We found out early she had a healthy cat addiction. Her main purpose in life became the cat. Where is the cat? Is he inside? Is he outside? Can I see him? Can I chase him? Where is He!!! I want you to know, this was important to her right up until the end.
She also was able to enjoy the baby calf we acquired in December. The last three weeks of her life, even feeling bad, she would jump up at the site of bottle making and wait at the door so she could go to the barn with me.
All I can say...We love dogs! They add quality to your life. They each have their own personality. They will each teach you something about dogs, being a dog-owner, and things about yourself, if you let them. As sad as it is, they all end up being heart-breakers in the end. Even with this knowledge, the benefits far out weigh the heart-break of losing them. We will always have them in our lives!