This One's For Me and the Dogs

(Playing Catch-up, Part 3)

May 28,2021: The month of May caught up with me. Things were going pretty well despite some doggie ailments in the first of the month. Emotions ran high as I updated my blog in the middle, but the

Gift to myself today. Just the photo, not the real thing.

positive reviews I got pushed my heart back into its room full of lollypops where everything is fine. Scrolling through pictures to add to this page, I was hard-pressed to find one of myself not smiling. Anyone looking through these photos would think I was the most happy-go-lucky soul on the face of the earth. It's an effective façade.


The truth is, May is a difficult month and I should've expected this gloom to descend upon me before its end. Both my parents died in May, my dad exactly on Memorial Day. And as I've mentioned before, I still feel the void in my heart from missing Jeff. But the main thing, I think, that brought this on is the aging and ailments of my sweet pups. They will turn ten on October 29th. The little one will be eleven on November 4th. What am I to do without them? They have been my saving grace, my companionship, my responsibility, since Jeff passed away. Don't get me wrong, we've had plenty of dogs we've had to let go. Seven dogs throughout our marriage who got old and sick and

Fudgy Browne Fersner

we knew it was for the best.

Cocoa Beane Fersner

Continued, May 31, 2021: What I'm afraid of, ultimately, is that one of the "twins" (pictured above) will die and the other will follow shortly thereafter. I've heard of that happening with littermates. That would break my heart. Completely.


The little one, Pibbles (nee Pepper), is a year older still than the big dogs though I've only had

Pibbles Fersner
Pibbles Fersner

her since November 2018. She came to me from some friends, Kathy and Dave. Kathy's mother died and left the dog. "Mary, you wouldn't happen to know anyone who'd like this little dog, would you?" How many times have I heard that one? Whatever. I ended up with my first really small dog and I can tell you, it has been a learning curve. Since I've had her she's been diagnosed with diabetes and needs two injections of insulin daily, and in August 2020 she lost most of her vision. Those things I can deal with. It's the constant need for grooming that is the problem for me. Except for Sitka the Samoyed in the 80's, I've had short-haired dogs who only needed bathed.


I was warned that "Pepper" was a nipper and I couldn't even pick her up. (That proved to be wrong. Dave and Kathy just didn't know how to do it.) Her previous owner was having her fully groomed every five weeks, she would need sedatives for this procedure which they provided, and would have to be muzzled as well. They also provided the muzzle. Poor little dog.


The first thing I did was rename her. Turns out "Pepper" is the number one most common name for Schnauzers, miniature Schnauzers in particular. So, even though "Pibbles" is really a nickname for Pitbulls, it rolled out of my brain and off my tongue easier than any other name I tried. She had never been part of a doggie pack and had lived in a house by herself for most of the previous year while her person was ill, in and out of hospitals and physical rehab centers for weeks at a time. My friends would stop by the house for about fifteen minutes each day to make sure she had food and water, but they were not dog people. Pibbles had a dog flap for outside access but her human interaction was limited and her doggie socialization consisted of seeing other dogs outside from the windows or at the groomers.


Fudgy and Cocoa, my big dogs, have been pack dogs their entire lives. They went from the womb to weaning amongst littermates, to our house where we already had two adult dogs, B-Dub and Henry. We lost B-Dub to cancer in 2017 and Henry to just plain old age (as far as I know) in April 2018, just a few months before we lost Jeff. So adding another dog to our household was not out of the question. Cocoa and Fudgy were curious about the newcomer, as would be expected, but other than a couple of skirmishes between the girls over toys in the beginning, they were fine with her being here.


I put Pibbles' travel crate in a quiet alcove in the hallway so she'd have somewhere to go when the chaos of life here overwhelmed her, and we didn't rush her to assimilate. It probably took her a week to ten days to really come out of the hallway and explore the house. In the meantime, I understood she was confused and grieving, much as I was. Joining her in the alcove, I would lie in the floor, petting and talking to her, eventually crying, letting her know we both missed our loved ones.


And assimilate, she has. Her diabetes diagnosis neither surprised nor upset me much. I had dealt with a diabetic before after all, but when she lost her sight, I rather panicked. I had to take her to a specialty veterinary practice in Mt. Pleasant where they told me they could remove the cataracts, thereby restoring her vision for one low price of $4000. It was Friday and we scheduled the surgery for the following Tuesday. Lo and behold, didn't this smart little dog learn how to navigate her world effectively over that weekend, during which time I heard from many people about their vision-impaired dogs who do just fine. Seeing as how I was already reeling from the estimated cost of renovating my house, I cancelled the surgery. She has done just fine.


It's the grooming that's killing me. Kathy told me the reason the dog was such a nipper was because her mother had taken her to so many different groomers. Well okay, I get that, I guess, but I wasn't going to haul this dog all the way to Summerville every five weeks to see the same groomer. Maybe I should have but it's too late for that now. The first groomer I took her to was Victoria at Moonshadow Kennels on John's Island. Victoria fell in love with Pibbles, did a great job with her, once with sedation and once without, and the dog didn't seem traumatized. But she wasn't going every five weeks. In fact, I didn't have her on a "schedule" at all. I would make the appointment when she looked like she needed it.


Then Victoria left to go who-knows-where and a new groomer took over, Ashley. Ashley did a good job on Pibbles the first time, without sedation but with a muzzle, but the second time, she couldn't get the dog's legs and feet due to biting even with the muzzle on. I couldn't tell you how long ago that was now.


In the meantime, with COVID restrictions, I have tried to groom Pibbles myself. I had pretty good luck, sans sedation, and just using scissors around her face and body, She's very good about being bathed, first in the one-half of my old kitchen sink (she's only about twenty pounds) and now in my big, new single sink. I bought a set of pet clippers but I haven't used them enough to even be adequate, let alone proficient. The last time I tried, I gave her half a sedative, which was the recommended dose listed on the container but she bit me when I got to her legs.


So I need to try again. Victoria gave her the full dose of sedative, 10mg, the first time she groomed the dog and she said she was like a rag doll, compliant in every way, so that's what I'm going to try. Pibbles' little legs and particularly her feet are just a shaggy mess. I asked the vet techs to trim her nails one of the last times she was there for her glucose checks and they said her nails had grown so long they were curling around her toes and the quick had extended so far they couldn't do much. They recommended I trim a bit of her nails every week, until the quick has receded. Yeah. THAT'S gonna happen.


A couple of things have happened as I'm writing this: I'm not as depressed as I was on Friday, despite lack of sleep from Cocoa's recurrent diarrhea and treatment as best I can with what meds I have over this long, holiday weekend; the decision has been made to make an appointment for Cocoa with a new vet who practices, not only traditional veterinary medicine but also mixes in Eastern and holistic medicine as well. We've got to find out what's causing this problem and I'm not sure traditional meds and nutrition are going to do the trick; and besides this blog, I believe I will bathe Pibbles today, give her a full dose of sedative while she dries and practice grooming her. What about her nails? We'll just have to see. I have styptic powder here and I'm sure I'll need it. Whether or not I have the balls to trim all her nails is the question, isn't it?


Finally, I don't think I'll actually post this blog. Just writing it has help my mood and solidified some decisions. Besides, I must keep up the happy-go-lucky façade.




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