24 January 2009
No, the light hasn't caught her eyes, Goldy, the cocker spaniel is completely blind. (I didn't see the grass on her nose till later but then Goldy uses her nose all the time).
Goldy has been coming to Pension Milou for a few years now. She's eleven years old and was bought in a shop in Nice when she was just four months. She lives with a beautiful French lady called Catherine and her two children in Monaco and in La Turbie where she enjoys the garden. Two years ago when Catherine went through a divorce, sweet Goldy was there for her. And Catherine has always been there for Goldy - it's a relationship that is beautiful to see.
When Goldy was one year old, she was diagnosed with degradation of the retina and Catherine was told she would eventually go completely blind. She deteriorated but for years still had the tiniest amount of sight and so she managed very well here, finding her way down the steps to the garden. She'd even go on the ski lift with the family when they visit Valberg - and she still does.
Catherine and I used to discuss how Goldy would manage when she went completely blind and I told her I was sure , because she was so familiar with her Monaco apartment and with this house and garden, that she'd do fine.
I was wrong. One day Catherine called to say that Goldy had suddenly gone completely blind and that she was at a standstill. She wouldn't move. It took a month before she found her confidence and could find her way around her apartment alone. The same happened here. She was terrified, frozen to the spot, and I had to guide her everywhere for the first few visits.
But you know, dogs are amazing. Goldy is so brave. She now walks around, nose glued to the ground - that's how she finds her way about - she moves slowly, especially going down the flight of steps to the garden. But she manages. She won't be rushed. She trusts her nose more than me. She sleeps in the kitchen, behind a baby gate. I feel that is best for her. She has security with no other dogs to bother her. I was concerned some of the dogs wouldn't understand why she doesn't react as other dogs do and so perhaps could hurt her. In fact, at times, when she's with the dogs outside, they are fine and she always likes to sniff them and say hello. She knows the kitchen area though - she can find the water bowl, she knows where her bed is located.
Her head is always on one side, cocked, listening for sounds. When I go into the kitchen, she perks up - is it food time? Goldy loves her food. And she is so trusting. When it's 'biscuit time' before bed, she stands there waiting - she knows I won't forget to give her a biscuit. Or two.
Dogs astound me. They are brave, they don't complain, they even enjoy life despite their physical problems. Didn't someone say, 'Everything I learned, I learned from my dog?' That is surely so.
Every dog I've owned has taught me something different and some of the dogs who come to stay teach me too. There are new challenges with Mistral and Mia. With Mistral I'm learning patience as she won't allow me to relax on the sofa. If I'm reading she'll paw the book out of my hand for attention. She isn't yet able to sit beside me, me stroking her, she has to continually push and prod me for yet more. Not very relaxing when I want to watch the television. Patience, Jilly.
Mia is scared of strangers and has obviously been beaten by a man as she goes crazy when she sees one, wanting to get as far away from him as possible and telling me with her continual barking that this dreadful creature is in the vicinity. Yet, she's not as needy for affection as Mistral. She's happy to sit alongside, just so long as she knows where I am. With her though I have to deal with her mad crazy barking when I prepare the food. Any other dog I'd tell to be quiet. With Mia, I'm trying Cesar Millan's (The Dog Whisperer) technique of saying quietly and calmly - but definitely - 'Psst' - and slowly we are getting there. There is improvement with strangers - she too is brave - she sometimes ventures up to sniff a hand, but then runs away again. We'll get there...
From our dogs, we learn how to love unselfishly. We learn compassion, patience, how to fall about with laughter and so much more. Goldy taught me about courage and not to complain. It can't be easy for her to stay at Pension Milou and when Catherine comes to collect her, she goes crazy and is truly happy again. It's almost as if she knows Catherine has to go away sometimes and so she bravely puts up with the time spent here. Goldy is a kind dog. Another lesson.
16 January 2009
Update on Mistral...yesterday she was sterilized and whoopee, no bad things were found. The vet did remove a polyp from her insides and explained that is probably why I saw blood coming from the vulva.
She does have loads of mammary tumours though but the vet said these might get smaller now she's been spayed. Apparently they are hormone dependent, so fingers crossed. If not, she'll need those stripping out at some point. Hopefully they are not cancerous. She's obviously been over-bred and has also had puppies left on her for too long.
And she's also on a diet but I've not told her yet. Now that she's been sterilized I know from experience how important it is to keep weight off during those first months whilst the hormones are going crazy. If you don't, it's so hard to get it off later. In Mistral's case, she really had too much weight before we started but there was no choice - it had to be done.
She's doing well today, staggering about a bit but wouldn't you? She must be very uncomfortable but she ate some breakfast, so all appears well with the world.
In the not very good photograph below, you see the Pension Milou Sick Bay - Beau on one side with his bandages and Mistral on the other - a small plaster in the centre of her stomach.
Mia, meanwhile, is progressing. She needs more weight, the skin needs to improve but it is. Time is what she needs and hopefully we've both got plenty of that.
So far so good at Pension Milou. And thanks again to everyone for their support. En pension at the moment, is Maya, the Golden, Maggie, the Red and White Irish setter and Daisy, the Border Terrier - all are spayed so they are all being most understanding of Mistral!
15 January 2009
This is Beau, doing his best to look pretty pathetic. He's had enough of the new girls hogging this blog and decided it was his turn.
In fact, this operation had been planned a while ago. When Beau first came here from the refuge nearly three years ago he had a four and a half hour operation to remove both eardrums - his ears, neck area, down to the saliva glands, were full of infection. Indeed he still has a staph infection within himself. For two years following that operation he still kept getting abscesses on each side, just below the ear area. Then about 9 months ago one side (fingers crossed) finally healed up and since then no more abscesses but on the other side, he's had what the vet calls an 'open abscess' for months. The vet offered to operate again - free of charge, which is much appreciated - to see if it could be cleaned out and so solve the problem. Antibiotics by the way did zilch. I should think Beau has kept one of the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture antibiotics in business these last two years or so.
So a couple of days ago he was operated on but really there wasn't much the vet could do. Apparently he has loads of lumps and bumps - scar tissue - (he'd already been badly operated before the ear drums were removed) and this scar tissue is muddled up with nerves that operate the eyes, the throat etc. The vet said that unless we do an MRI scan and then micro-surgery it can't be done. It's too delicate and dangerous. So he's all bandaged up and really that's that. As the vet said, at his age - we don't know Beau's age but think he's over 10 - we'd not put him through a fourth operation. So hopefully, the clean-out might have helped a little, if not, we are back to cleaning the area every day as it oozes pus and sometimes, if we are lucky, just clear liquid. Beau accepts all this and even wags his tail when I bring the bowl of water to clean the area - he's that used to it now.
Note, in the photo below, Beau sitting on my coffee table. This cushion was put there for small dogs, not big ones! Note also how scratched the wood is. I suppose you could say it's dog antiquing. So, not only do I not have a proper sofa (you see the wrought iron daybed in the background) but I don't have a coffee table and I also don't have a comfortable chair. Beau takes that when he's not on the cushion and the new girls take the sofa along with various dogs who stay here en pension.
Update on the girls: Today Mistral goes to be spayed. Hopefully the vet will not find anything amiss and I'll report on this blog tomorrow. Mia, meanwhile, is eating like the proverbial horse but not putting on any weight that I can notice. Her skin is marginally better but she has a long way to go yet. In herself though, she is a much happier and more relaxed dog, unless a man appears and then she is terrified. Thank you so much to everyone for your comments and support. It means so much.
08 January 2009
Mama Mia and Mistral have now been here for 10 days and today we went to the vet for a check-up. We got back half an hour ago but as both were sick into every nook and and cranny of the car, I've been busy cleaning up. Yuck. I should know better and not have fed them this morning, but they weren't sick on the drive from the Languedoc so I thought they'd be OK. In hindsight, probably they weren't fed before that trip. Thank God, for leather car seats.
The day after they arrived, Mistral came into season - or so I thought. The blood tho stopped within a few hours then about 4 days later it started again. This time I checked her thoroughly and whilst it was coming from the vulva, she definitely isn't swollen or in heat. Two possibilities occurred to me - 1. that she has something wrong inside, like a tumour. 2. That she's pregnant and is aborting a re-absorbed pup!
So the vet checked them both over thoroughly.
Mistral: She doesn't think she's pregnant and we've booked her in for sterilization next Thursday. If she does have pups, they'll be removed. (If you are 'Right to Life,' sorry, there are too many adult dogs seeking homes, let alone unborn pups) Mistral is in far better condition than Mama Mia. Mistral's heart is good, teeth pretty clean, no ear problems, skin pretty much healed and she is even getting too fat now. We have to wait and see what the vet finds when she opens her up.
Mama Mia: She's in a far worse state even tho there is vast improvement from when she arrived. She has a heart murmur, her skin is still very bad although it's far less inflamed than before. We continue the baths for both of course but Mia has been given some special fatty supplement to help her skin. Her ears are disgusting and we now have a different treatment for them. She also has an infected toe which I didn't notice till this morning so that needs treating. She doesn't appear to be putting on weight but she is looking better. I can't give more food else she gets an upset tum.
Both continue antibiotics for several more weeks. Both cough occasionally but vet says it's a throat problem, not heart - simply from the conditions they've been living in. Should improve with luck. They cough after drinking water.
Getting them into the car was easy. Getting them out was easy but walking them through Cap d'Ail was a nightmare - at least it was was Mama Mia. My friend, Laura, met me and she walked Mistral (Mistral loves everyone and was no problem). Thank you, dear Laura, I couldn't have managed without you. I took Mia's lead and she practically had a heart attack every time she saw a man. Really I had to drag her through the street. She is absolutely terrified of men. If a man comes here she runs off and doesn't stop barking until he leaves. Last night a new dog arrived for interview (all guests at Pension Milou have to undergo an interview) - well she was terrified of the husband. Next time a man visits, I'll shut her in the kitchen, behind the babygate, and hope she settles. She's obviously been beaten, abused, whatever and by a man.
As for Beau, my beautiful Bruno de Jura, he didn't speak to me for two days after they arrived. You can see Beau - big black hound - in the smaller photo. How he knew they weren't normal visitors but were here to stay, I don't know, but he did. Beau came from a refuge nearly three years ago so he's a needy dog too. Then suddenly on the third day (and of course I fussed him like crazy and told him he was my very best and number one dog) he relented. Wagged his tail, came and sat with me and amazingly now totally accepts the two new girls. He doesn't care for dogs approaching his chair (re-read that - he doesn't care for dogs approaching MY chair) but now, when Mama Mia and Mistral approach, he accepts them - indeed, some mornings I find all three asleep together on the sofa.
Mistral has been trying to escape. Someone needs to tell this dog she's onto a good thing here. I told her if she keeps this up, she goes back to the Hell Hole. Only kidding... Hunting dogs have such a strong instinct to hunt and all around here are wild boar and all sorts of good smells so it's understandable. Anyway, she can't escape even tho she looks and hopes.
Progress. Now to air the car out and try and get rid of the smell. What fun...
If you think saving these two dogs is good news, I tell you it's nothing. Please take a look at Bibi from Belgrade's post today. This woman is a saint! 250 dogs and counting - all looking for a home.
04 January 2009
These two poor dogs are getting somewhat above their station. After the horrors of the Hell Hole, you'd think Mama Mia and Mistral would be happy with the two comfortable beds I provided for them. Nice and big, with soft cushions and vet beds on top. Oh no! Yesterday they got up onto the sofa twice. Twice I told them to get down. And then, when I woke up this morning, there they were - and so here they are... (Please click on the link if you are new to this story).
So Beau has my chair and sometimes the cushion on the coffee table (usually the domain of the smaller dogs) and now the sofa has gone too. So where do I sit?
I hear you say this is a very strange looking sofa and you'd be right. I used, in another lifetime, to own a normal sofa, but when you look after dogs for a living it doesn't work. Someone comes in and pees against it, another is sick on it. Forget it! It's easier to have a wrought-iron day bed like this - you can wipe it down if necessary and change the bedding all the time. I keep telling myself that one day I'll get one of those deep sofas, enormous soft cushions, preferable white - but of course I know I never will.
Yesterday I went shopping for the first time since the new dogs have been here - left them for just over an hour. I so hoped they'd behave, not wreck the place, not pull stuff off the kitchen counter, not attack the closed door. I so hoped because tonight the plan is to leave them and go out to dinner in Menton with friends. When I got back, I listened outside the door. Not a sound. Opened the door and nothing...everyone was fast asleep. Mama Mia opened one eye and went back to sleep again. Mistral got up slowly. Beau didn't move, as per normal. The three little bichons, en pension, barked like crazy and Goldy, the blind dog in the kitchen, got up to say Hello. All was well. What luck, eh?
Another two baths each tomorrow and then to the vet mid-week for a check-up to see how they are doing, how their skin in particular is doing. I'll report after that.
02 January 2009
More progress...today is the first day Mama Mia walks around the garden with her tail up all the time. Apologies for her head being blurred - she's the one in front. Mama Mia has yet to hone her modeling skills.
Yesterday was bath day and thanks to my wonderful neighbour we managed it. They were shampooed in two different products, each left on for 5 minutes and today Mia's skin is so much calmer - less red, less inflamed. Mistral doesn't have anything like the skin problems of Mia. Next bath on Monday.
I walked up the track to the mailbox just now and shut the front door with a key as if I were going out for a while - just a test. I was away perhaps 7 or 8 minutes and when I got back, much barking and howling was going on and papers pulled off the kitchen counter. Next time I leave, I'll go for a little longer and slowly they'll realise I'm not abandoning them. Mind you, I've a feeling they might be enjoying the chance to get into what they shouldn't...
01 January 2009
It's the morning of their third day and already they are getting more confident. (Scroll down for the dreadful story of Mistral and Mia - which gets better by the day!)
Last night, when they heard fireworks, they barked (howled) like crazy and wanted to go out. Most dogs are scared. They went off to investigate - I think they thought they heard gunshots and were off to hunt...
And a clean house this morning and already Mia, the worst at walking, is beginning to trot about the garden so much more easily.
Today is bath day - two different products for the skin and each to be left on for five minutes. This should be fun!
Thanks for all the kind comments, but you know looking after dogs is what I do - so it's easy for me.
In the last photo, you see Mia with a couple of the dogs en pension for the New Year - Maya the golden and little, Snowy, the bichon.