Saying Goodbye To Another Old Friend…

Ten years ago, a homely little hound dog puppy stole my heart at the local animal shelter.  He was one of a litter of ten puppies, born to a red basset hound named ‘Bessie’.  While I was volunteering at the shelter, mother and puppies were deposited at the shelter by their owner, discarded like yesterday’s news.

In 2004, the show ‘Survivor’ was very popular, and, at the shelter, all ten of Bessie’s puppies were given names of people who were playing the game of ‘Survivor,’ at the time.  The brown puppy’s name was ‘Ethan’, named for Ethan Zohn, the  cute, curly-haired soccer player, who was popular on Survivor that season.

When I decided to adopt Ethan, I decided to keep his name, and thus began my adventures with Ethan, the hound dog. (Note: Only one of Ethan’s nine litter mates survived the shelter.  The others were eventually euthanized.)

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Ethan, enjoying a moment inside

I don’t know what kind of dog Ethan’s father was, but he must have been a big dog!  Ethan grew to be much larger than his basset hound mother, but he had many of her characteristics.  His most outstanding features were his eyes, his long floppy ears, four big feet, and a funny personality.  Ethan could hold his mouth in such a way, that he appeared to actually smile, at times.  When he wagged his tail, it went around and around like a propeller.

Ethan was raised, at my house, by an old brown collie, named ‘Hobbs’.  Hobbs was my first animal shelter rescue, and was the best dog I’ve ever owned.  The peculiar thing about Hobbs was the fact that he always ate his food while lying down.  It wasn’t long before young Ethan developed the same odd habit, which continued his entire life.

Ethan wasn’t always an easy puppy to love.  As a young dog, Ethan had a wicked attraction to cats, and killed more than a couple of my kittens before he finally outgrew his cat attraction and rough playfulness.  I’ll never forget the morning I looked out of the window to see Ethan carrying my favorite orange kitten, ‘Peaches’, in his mouth!  I cried and yelled at Ethan, who didn’t seem to have a clue that he’d just killed my kitten!

A few weeks after adopting Ethan, he became sick with Parvo.  I was pretty sure what the problem was, even before the vet diagnosed him.  (I may had inadvertently brought the virus home from the shelter on my shoes.)  I didn’t have a lot of money to pay for a hospital stay, so the vet told me how to care for Ethan at home.  I did everything the vet told me to do, and Ethan defied the odds and lived–but he was a sorry-looking sight for a while!

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Ethan, after Parvo

A few weeks after surviving Parvo, Ethan came down with a case of Red Mange, the result of his damaged immune system, the vet explained.  Once again, the vet guided me through the treatment process, and, once again, Ethan defied the odds, and was cured.  The mange treatment was painful, though, and as a result, Ethan grew to mistrust me. (The strong dip burns the raw skin)  Ethan would no longer let me bath him or put my arms around him in any way.  I wasn’t able to put any kind of medication on him, not even flea powder!   If Ethan ever saw me with any kind of container, he quickly bolted out of sight!  Ethan remained skittish the rest of his life.

When I adopted Ethan, we lived in our old house, next door.  We built our new house and moved three years later.  As a result, Ethan could never decide which house to call home!  He spent as much time at our old house, with my daughter,  as he did at the new house with me.  He’d often split his time between our porches.

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Ethan, resting in his favorite position (on my daughter’s porch)

Before my daughter moved next door, she lived just down the road.  At times, Ethan would roam down the road to visit with her dogs.  On one such visit, Ethan wandered out onto the highway, and was hit by a car.  Once again, Ethan defied the odds, and wasn’t killed, but one of his hips was injured. The injury resulted in arthritis, during his later years. In an effort to get more comfortable, Ethan often began sleeping on his back!

The thing Ethan loved most was eating!  That old hound dog would eat everything in sight, especially cat food. Ethan was notorious for stealing the cats’ feeding bowls, and carrying them off into the woods to lick them clean!  Ethan was a sneaky one, and he finally forced Ed to build the cats a ‘cat cafe’, high up off the ground, so the  poor cats could eat their food in peace!

Ethan had an internal clock, and if supper was running late, he’d gladly remind you when it was time to eat!  Many afternoons when Ed and I would be working out in the garden,  Ethan would call to us from the yard, telling us it was suppertime.  He had a loud, gruff bark that was impossible to ignore.  Ethan’s gruff bark would alert us about visitors approaching, as well.

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Ethan, a couple of years ago

Thankfully, Ethan eventually outgrew his wicked obsession of bothering my cats!  In fact, one of our younger cats came to love Ethan so much, she’d sleep with him every night.  Often I’d see the two of them curled up together, napping during the day, too.  I’ve even seen Suzie grooming Ethan, at times.   At times like that, I’d think back to how Ethan used to be, and say to myself, if Suzie only knew…

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Ethan and Suzie, BFF’s

Ethan’s health eventually began to fail, especially the later part of last year.  A host of  health problems seemed to develop all at once,  including a strange, unidentified bulge under Ethan’s abdomen.  Ethan still had a few good days, along and along, but most days he didn’t stir much–except at mealtime or for an occasional short walk. We knew Ethan wasn’t going to have a lot of time left.

Ethan’s health began to rapidly decline the past couple of weeks, and he really began to struggle more with each passing day.  The glimmer in Ethan’s eyes gradually became replaced by a dull look of constant pain.  Ethan didn’t seem to be able find comfort anywhere.  He could barely walk, and the bulge under his abdomen became much larger.  His breathing became labored. Yesterday, we made the choice to say goodbye to our friend of ten years.

Thankfully, today, Ethan suffers no more.  We’ll miss him, and things won’t be the same around here without him, especially at suppertime!  Ed and I laid Ethan to rest near Hobbs, the old collie who raised him. May the two of them rest in peace together, in a place where there’s no more pain and suffering.  If they’re eating together, somewhere, I’ll bet they’re both lying down!

Feb. 2012 072

 Goodbye, old friend

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Published in: on May 20, 2014 at 9:57 am  Comments (8)  
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Saying Goodbye Is Always Hard…

If you are a  long-time reader here, you know that I have more than an abundance of pets!  That’s because have a soft spot in my heart for most animals.  Back in 2004, I tried to rescue all of the homeless animals at the local animal shelter–and then some!  At one point, we owned 21 cats, 5 dogs, 2 rabbits, a hamster, and a parakeet!  Our pet food bills were quite shocking in those days, and Ed was just about ready to jump ship.

Fast-forward nearly nine years later, and here we are–aging folks, left with aging pets!  Ed and I have already said “good-bye” to several of “our dependents” over the past several years.  These days we’re left with only 13 cats, 2 dogs, a parakeet and 6 chickens.  I’m not sure of the age of “Tweety”, our parakeet, since he, too, is a “rescue”, but I’ve had him for over 8 years.  He has to be living on borrowed time.

Several of our pets were older when I adopted them, so some passed away after a relatively short time.  Some of our younger pets developed  illnesses which cut their lives short, as well.  Such is the life of a pet owner.  Throughout the years, the area surrounding our home has become a virtual pet cemetery, with an assortment of  occupants.

No matter how many pets we lose, it never gets any easier.  After the initial shock of losing a pet has worn off, I always try to concentrate on all of the good days we had together, and the joy we brought each other. However, this doesn’t help to fill the empty void that losing a pet creates–even when many are still left!

Honey Bun

Honey Bun

A while back, I wrote about our struggles with our pet rabbit, Honey Bun.  Honey Bun  had been with me for over eight years.  I’m not sure how old he was when I got him, but he was already big.

Near the end, Honey Bun eventually became paralyzed in his hind legs, and remained that way until his death, about 2 months later.  We did the best we could by Honey Bun, but we were relieved (for him) when he took his last breath–the day before Ed’s 63rd birthday.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss that old brown rabbit, especially when I visit the carrot patch!

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Eugene’s the gray cat, who’s looking at the camera

We lost one of our cats, named Eugene, to cancer, last year, too.  Eugene struggled with eating for a long time because the growth affected his throat.  We tried to make sure he had some soft food to eat, and let nature take its course.

In his final days, Eugene found a hiding place so he could be alone, but Ed found him, and took food to him.  Then Eugene found another hiding place, which Ed wasn’t able to find.  We assumed he’d gone off and died, as cats often do.

For several days Ed worried about Eugene, and said he just wanted to be able to give him a “proper burial”.  Then, one day I went out to the cat cafe'( a structure Ed built to feed the cats on), and lo and behold, there lay Eugene, dead, underneath it.  He was nestled among some junk that had been stored there.   (Eugene had been dead for a day or two, which is how I managed to spot him.)  Eugene had come home to die, and in doing so,  granted Ed his wish to give him a “proper burial”.

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Ethan (in younger years)

2013 isn’t looking so good for our old hound dog, Ethan.  He was one of a litter of 10 puppies that were dropped off at the shelter, along with their mother.  Each puppy was named after a cast member of the reality show “Survivor”, hence the name “Ethan”.

Ethan is about to celebrate his ninth birthday, but he suffers from a variety of issues, and is not in good health.  We’re not positive, but we suspect he, too, may be a victim of some kind of cancer.  A couple of weeks ago, Ethan was really sick, and I just knew the end was near for Ethan.  After a day or two, he rallied and is still with us.

These days, Ethan spends most of his time basking in the sunshine on cooler days, or resting in the shade on the warmer days.  Ethan LOVES to eat, and for the moment, his appetite is still good.  He knows exactly what time supper is supposed to be served, and he will loudly remind us if we run late!  Ethan is a bit lazy, and has always laid down to eat his food.  The day Ethan starts refusing to eat, we’ll go ahead and get the shovel ready.  It will take quite a hole to accommodate that dog!

Shakespeare once wrote, “Parting is such sweet sorrow…”, but, in my opinion, there is nothing “sweet” about parting through death.  It’s the unfortunate downside of loving something– or someone.  Saying goodbye is always so darn hard!

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 10:08 am  Comments (6)  
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Cutting Trees, Burning Fields, And A Smoking Hound…

As usual, the weekend went by way too fast, but it was fun while it lasted!  The weather here was sunny and cool–which meant it was perfect for outside activities, and my family had plenty of those going on.

When my husband announced, on Friday, that he planned to cut down a few more trees around the farm, I took that as my cue to leave town and go shopping on Saturday!  I can never relax whenever Ed is in “tree cutting mode”!  You may remember a couple of weeks ago when two trees fell across our neighbor’s fence and smashed it…and then there was once the incident concerning the pine tree falling across my rabbit hutch…Anyway, my daughter, granddaughter, and I went shopping, on Saturday morning,  while our men folks stayed home to work around the farm!

It turned out that the other two females who live on the family farm also went shopping on Saturday.  Perhaps they knew Ed was going to be working, too!  For a few hours, there wasn’t a female on the entire place!  Heaven help us!  The men had the place all to themselves!

Thankfully, the tree cutting proceeded without incident, and hopefully, that task is about finished for a while!  The second task on Ed’s agenda was burning off the field in front of our house, and I wasn’t too thrilled about that thought either!   You may remember my story, from a few years back, about that same field accidentally catching fire and nearly burning us out of house and home!  Our neighbor farmer was harvesting his rye out of our field, when the field accidentally caught on fire while he was in the middle of it!  The fire department came,,  as well as scores of friends and neighbors, to help fight the fire and get it under control before it reached our house and the woods around us.  It was a very close call.

Anyway, Ed’s been wanting to burn off his section of the field for a while now, but the conditions were never suitable on the weekends.  Finally, Saturday seemed like the perfect time to light the match!  Imagine everyone’s surprise when the fire was lit, and the field refused to stay burning!  (Especially knowing how fast it has ignited in the past)  Despite repeated tries, the fire would only burn in “spots” and not straight across the field as it should have.  I guess there’s a big difference in burning dried rye and burning dried weeds!  I don’t think we are in any danger from those weeds igniting.

Speaking of burning, while everyone was trying to get that stupid field to burn, late Saturday afternoon,  our two dogs were trampling around in the dried, smoking brush along with us.  At one point, Ethan, our old hound dog, came out of the field panting smoke.  At first, we thought his breath was fogging due to the cool evening air, but then I realized the smoke he was panting was blue!   Apparently, he swallowed something while it was still smoking!   I quickly called him aside and gave him some water in a bowl.  He drank half of a large bowl of water before he paused.  Afterward, he stopped smoking, and seemed fine.  Crazy hound dog…

One thing for sure around here–there is rarely a dull moment.  Falling trees, burning/ non-burning fields, smoking dogs…it just keeps me wondering what in the world will happen next.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 1:20 am  Comments (6)  
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Shelter Tales…The Five Letter Word Every Dog Lover Hates

I wonder how many people immediately knew the word when they read the title…Somehow I managed to live 45 years or more before I’d ever heard of the word.  Either it wasn’t around as much years ago, or we were just lucky and never encountered it.  Haven’t figured out the word yet?  It’s P A R V O…yes, the dreaded Parvo virus that puppies and young dogs get–which can so easily become a death sentence. 

Parvo is basically the equivalent of a stomach virus in dogs.  They can’t keep anything down.  They throw up, they get diarrhea, they get dehydrated, then die.  It comes on in a hurry, and it will kill a puppy quickly.  The sick puppy will look and feel just as miserable as humans do when we get a bad case of the stomach flu.

When I was volunteering at the shelter, I quickly learned about Parvo.  Unfortunately, the first thing that I learned is that an outbreak of it at the shelter meant death for all dogs there.  As a general rule, all are put to sleep, the shelter is then disinfected with bleach from top to bottom, and is closed for a certain number of days.  Parvo is extremely contagious–especially vulnerable are young dogs and puppies.  Older dogs can get it, too, but it won’t kill them…however, they can spread the virus–which is very easy to spread.

In my early days of volunteering, I adopted 3 dogs, within a few weeks of each other.  The first one I brought home was the old collie, Hobbs, (who recently passed), then I adopted Ethan, a hound mix, and Freckles, a chow mix.  I hadn’t had all of them too long when Ethan became sick with Parvo.  By then, I’d learned all about it, and was devastated when I realized my puppy had it.

I loaded Ethan up in my car and took him to the vet.  I used the same vet that the shelter did, because he would give me discounts on vet care for all of my animals,  because they were shelter adoptees.  Dr. S, the vet, quickly told me what I already suspected…he told me that he could keep Ethan in the hospital and he might make it, but it would be expensive–or I could take him home, force-feed him pedialyte around the clock, and pray for the best.  Financially, I didn’t have a choice…I had to treat him at home. 

Dr. S also warned me that Freckles was vulnerable, and would most likely catch the virus if not vaccinated–so knowing that my hubby is a medical person, Dr. S sent the Parvo vaccination home with me so Ed could vaccinate Freckles–which he did.  Fortunately, neither Freckles or Hobbs caught the virus.

Unfortunately, Ethan was sick enough for three dogs…I have never seen anything like that in my life.  I kept him closed up in the bathroom off my bedroom.  I cleaned up the worst smelling, most vile body fluids I’ve ever seen–and I’ve raised 3 children AND worked at school for 15 years…Nothing beats Parvo!  I force-fed poor Ethan that Pedialyte every couple of hours.  Some of it stayed down, some did not.  Some even made it out the other end…After a couple of days of that,  I began to offer Ethan some chicken broth.  Slowly, he began to drink, then eat.  He was one pitiful-looking puppy when Parvo finished with him–but he made it!

Ethan...after parvo

To this day, Ethan is “skittish” of me.  He remembers those syringes of Pedialyte being shoved down his throat–then later in his life I had to treat him for red mange, which was also unpleasant.  Ethan loves me, but he doesn’t completely trust me, which is sad.  In fact, these days he spends most of his days over at my daughter’s house!  She lives where we used to live, and I think that will always feel like home to Ethan… remember the picture of Ethan on his back on her porch???

Ethan...today

I was prompted to write this story because yesterday my son, Brad, was telling me a story about his girlfriend, Jennifer, waking up and finding her new puppy sick–with Parvo.  They had a very eventful day because of that, but I’ll share that story on another day…until next time…Thanks for hopping by!

Don’t forget to comment and let me know if you’d like to be entered in Friday’s cash drawing for twenty dollars…I can’t wait to see who will win…It’s been a long month!   Kathy

Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 9:59 am  Comments (7)  
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