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hiwaygal
12-11-2011, 05:16 AM
Chapter 1 – Zeke (aka Ezekiel Lord Protectorate)

Zeke was just a pup when we got him from a breeder near our home in Kentucky. I so wanted a basenji and was thrilled to find a breeder so close by. Unfortunately, I was also naďve and ill-educated about the breed. I believe the breeder meant well, but was not very conscientious. I think they bred too close together with the bitches and dogs they had.

It’s not all that uncommon with rare breeds to have the problems of a limited gene pool. Basenjis have been in the United States since the 1940’s, but they are an ancient breed. In the late 80’s there was a massive undertaking to bring fresh basenji stock from Africa into the United States to help fortify the limited gene pool.

So…what does all that have to do with Zeke? Well, as I said, I was not prepared or really educated about the breed. Zeke was not properly socialized and ended up being a pretty mean guy. I think some of the issues were breeding and a lack of attention to temperament, but in the end most of the issues were our fault.

We had Zeke for about 2 years before I left home to go to college. His life changed for the worse then. Because he was a bored basenji, he was destructive. He had no manners and most of the family was afraid of him. He spent much of my college years chained to a wall or a tree. I am ashamed of that.

When I graduated college, I was on a mission to find a place to live where I could bring Zeke to live with me. Unfortunately it was 2 more years before I could do that. About a month after I moved into my new apartment, my stepfather brought Zeke to me. He was unrecognizable. It was so obvious that he was neglected. Zeke was probably about 20-25 pounds overweight. It was so sad. But all that was going to change now! Zeke was back with me!

Zeke and I took several walks a day, mostly for his bathroom breaks but also because he needed it. We often met dogs off leash and Zeke would inevitably go into attack mode. Most folks learned that he was not friendly and kept their distance. This troubled me, but I only did what I could to make sure he didn’t injure anyone.

About a year after Zeke and I were back together, I bought a house. With a yard. This was all for Zeke. I wanted him to have his own yard to play in without a leash or chain. It wasn’t very big but by this time he was older and we still went on daily walks. He had lost most of the weight and looked much better. He certainly didn’t look his age (which by this time was over 7 years at least), but I have found that basenji’s age very well.

For seven more years we lived together, just me and Zeke. He was my rock, my raison d’ętre, he needed me and I needed him.

It was a Sunday morning in December when I knew something was wrong. Zeke was having a grand mal seizure. It was probably the most awful thing I’ve ever had to watch. I simply sat there while he struggled and made sure he didn’t fall or hurt himself. When it was over I just petted him and talked to him to try to calm him down. He had wet the bed so I moved him off that spot but just let him relax. When he wanted to get up, I let him and helped him to make sure he didn’t’ fall. He was still a bit wobbly.
I called the emergency vet and talked to them. They said that since this was the first and only seizure and as long as he seemed okay (a little disorientation was expected) to just watch him and take him to our regular vet in the morning. He did okay for the rest of the day. The next morning there was another seizure. And off to the vet we went.

There were no obvious reasons for the seizures (i.e. blood work, vitals, etc were normal for a 14 year old dog) so at the time our only solution was to give him phenobarbital.

I stayed home as long as I could but I also needed to be at work. Zeke went to stay at the vet’s after a day on the medicine. He would still have these brief little episodes that seemed like a type of mini-seizure. It’s like the meds were helping, but not stopping the issue. On the day I took him to the vets, I told him I had already given him the medication and that all they needed to do was keep an eye on him. When I called around lunchtime, I asked how he was doing and they said he was fine, sleeping, they had seen nothing unusual. “We gave him his medicine about 10am and he’s been fine”.

WHAT?!?!?!?! I was livid. He’d already had his med and they gave him another dose? Well, of course he was sleeping; the dog was OD’d on Phenobarbital! I was pissed, left the office and brought him home. The vet apologized but I couldn’t trust them again.

On Thursday night Zeke had another seizure that was pretty bad. A friend came over and called a vet he knew, we took Zeke to this new vet (at 11 pm) and they kept him overnight.

On Saturday, December 14, 2002, I made the decision to let Zeke go. We never really knew what happened. One vet thought it might have been a brain tumor and suggested we could go to Virginia Tech Vet School to have an MRI done. I thought that was too extreme because even if we found a brain tumor it was likely to be inoperable, and if it was operable, is this something you put a 14 year old dog through?

Zeke had changed. Whatever had caused the seizures had changed his temperament. He wasn’t Zeke anymore and he seemed to not know who he was. I couldn’t watch his confusion…I couldn’t do that to my dog who was so confident.

Coincidentally – I had met a man online and we started talking the day Zeke first got sick. He had already been so supportive through some of the episodes with Zeke and because I didn’t know what was going to happen, we had made arrangements to meet on Saturday December 14. After deciding to let Zeke go, there was no way to let this guy know that I couldn’t meet him; he’d already be on his way, so I did meet him. We spent a few hours together and he was so understanding and supportive. He didn’t judge just cried with me. Later I would understand how and why this man was so understanding…he became my husband on September 20, 2005.

jesse girl
12-11-2011, 08:02 AM
thanks for the story my jesse has had seizures all her life and coupled with diabetes not a great combination we decided not to medicate and with the diabetes and her internal organs that maybe compromised and of coarse the immune system it just would be a trade off so we have developed techniques that have lessen the severity of the seizures but eventually jesse may end up in the same place as zeke

I think the story gives you a clue on when to say good buy and it may be based in the personality change when they just are not there anymore there body is but there spirit is gone

i search for those clues to determine when to let jesse go and this story gives me that thank you very much

Patty
12-12-2011, 06:12 PM
Thank you for sharing Zeke's story here with us.

eileen
12-12-2011, 08:02 PM
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

hiwaygal
12-13-2011, 06:30 AM
Thank you jesse girl, Patty, and eileen for reading this part!

Chapter 2 is coming, I just have to write it!

Judi
12-13-2011, 06:39 AM
I really admire your tenacity in keeping Zeke and everyone else in a safe environment. You are such a good dog mom

hiwaygal
12-13-2011, 06:43 PM
Chapter 2 – Buddy and Sally find a forever home

After losing Zeke, I knew I could not live without a dog. A friend let me “borrow” her dog for a little while when she went on a vacation. Abby was a great comfort and a great dog. Big black lab who walked off leash and would play fetch with a stick for hours, to her own detriment. She was older and had some hip problems. But she loved those sticks!

I started doing some research and contacted a basenji breeder to get a puppy. I also started looking at rescues. The breeder immediately put me on her waiting list, if things went well, I would get a puppy in April or so. Basenjis only breed once a year…and pups are almost always born in November/December. There are, of course, some exceptions, but generally they are winter pups.

Waiting was going to be hard and I kept looking at the rescue site (Basenji Rescue and Transport – BRAT).

I knew that I wanted two basenjis. I worked long hours and wanted them to have company. As I thought more and more about those long hours, I realized that a puppy wasn’t a good plan. God knows basenji puppies are too adorable (they have to be, lol) and I long to smell puppy breath again but I knew I could not give a puppy the amount of attention it would need. When I told the breeder that I had changed my mind, she was so supportive and thanked me for deciding to rescue instead.

And then I saw them…on the BRAT site. Buddy and Sally came as a matched set (bonded pair). They could not be separated. It was definitely a blessing in disguise.

Sally was about 4 years old and had been in as many homes as she was old. I know she started out in Texas, and somehow ended up in North Carolina. She came to live with Buddy (who was a very spoiled and poorly socialized pup) when he was about a year old.

Buddy had severe separation anxiety and some other confidence issues. He was a sweet and very loving little boy but he did not do well being alone or confined. He was prescribed “puppy Prozac” at some point before Sally came into his life. And when she did, it was love at first sight. They cried if they were separated, but Sally also kept Buddy in line.

When I contacted the adoption coordinator, they had been in the shelter for about 4 months. It was cold there and my heart ached for them!

I drove 4 hours through a snow storm to get them…and this was the email I sent to our coordinator when we got home:

I just wanted to let you know we arrived home safely, if a bit tired from the road.

I was amazed at how well Buddy and Sally did in the car! Sally cried for a few minutes every time I put her back in the crate, but would settle down as soon as we were really moving again. Buddy just kinda lounged nonchalantly in the front seat (I think he thought it was his throne!) then he would curl up and sleep too. After our last stop on the trip, I let Sally stay out of the crate (I couldn't bear to hear her cry)...they tried to share the front seat with a very minor discussion...Sally's response was to just go lay in the back seat and sleep.

When we got home they ran around for a bit, inspecting everything. Sally tried to jump on the couch (from the back!) and didn't quite make it. But she made it this morning. Buddy, on the other hand, just kinda sails over the top!! haha! They had some water, a little food, found some bones, went outside and generally just kinda got their bearings. Buddy found a blanket I left on the floor and proceeded to add his own touch to it! haha!! A nice new "air" hole! I thought it was kinda funny because Zeke liked that blanket too (there are a few holes in it!).

About 11:30 they kinda settled and I took advantage of that and we went to bed. Yes, they shared the bed...Buddy on one side of me, Sally on the other. We didn't have a problem. Sally woke me up early to go outside, they both did what they needed to do and we went back to bed for a couple hours.

So far this morning, they've had breakfast and bones, ran around outside a little...and are now sleeping comfortably on the daybed in the computer room.

I had thought about taking them to the vet on Monday, dropping them off and getting them checked and bathed and stuff but decided I didn't want to leave them for a day so soon...so, I am planning a visit to the vet next weekend.

Anyway, thought I'd let you know we made it home without any incident. They seem comfortable and have started to follow me around (which I think is kinda cool!). Of course, the real test begins Monday, when I have to go back to work! :)


And their first day “alone”

Boy oh boy!! I am consistently amazed at what these guys will do!!

Here's the scoop...I bought a folding door to put up in the kitchen doorway. It WAS a nice door, more sturdy than I would have expected. And I put a baby gate up behind it as reinforcement. The idea being to keep them in the kitchen.

Day One: I return home to find Buddy and Sally OUT of the kitchen...they managed to push the door hard enough to get the baby gate to pop out of the door...then who knows what they did?? But, they did not destroy or chew up anything (and there were lots of anythings to get). One of them peed on the floor, but I think that's more a schedule thing than anything else. So, all in all, just another interesting experience.

Day Two: The folding door is a total loss. I'm not quite sure how they managed it (and at this point I need to point out, "they" is most likely "he" haha!!)...but the door is open, partially off the track, the track itself is pulled off the screws, and the little plastic strip between two of the panels (not near either end for a simple repair) is split from bottom to top. Somehow the baby gate is still in place and they are still confined to the kitchen...but I can't quite figure out how they got the rug that was in the hallway into the kitchen...with the baby gate still in place. Just another 'senji mystery I guess!!! Too funny!!!

All in all, I'm not surprised or anything. I'm actually quite pleased that they didn't do anything destructive...and there were no "accidents" today. I haven't quite decided what to do on day three yet...I have half a mind to just let them have the run of the house...see how they do. It's what I wanted anyway, and they haven't tried to destroy or bother anything...so...we'll see...but no unsupervised access to the back yard...I've seen how high Buddy can jump!!! haha!!

They are wonderful though...I swear I feel like I've been dipped in bacon grease when I walk in the door in the evenings...they are so responsive and excited!!! I'm loving it! They are both so sweet...have done well so far with one stranger...and we're going to have more visitors soon. The only thing left is to see how they do with other dogs...but I'm not rushing into that one just yet.

Another update:

Of course there have been more head scratching adventures...they are basenji's after all!

Everything is going well. We've had our moments, but I think the adjustments are going fairly well. There are things we'll need to work on (of course, there have been potty issues with all the rain...Sally didn't want to go out in the wet...when Buddy realized she wasn't, he decided he didn't want to go anymore either!!!!) but for the most part, I think they are really starting to get comfortable, settled, and into a routine.

We went to the vet last week (I think)...and got a refill for Sally's prescription. The vet wants to re-check the levels after she's been on it more regularly for awhile. He also suggested we see a specialist for her heart murmur, just to make sure (of what, I don't really know). I haven't scheduled that yet. Other than that, they've pretty much been given a clean bill of health! Sally's belly is a little scarred from the heating pad thing...but she's pretty much all healed now.

The confinement in the kitchen didn't work at all...so they now have the "run" of the living/dining room (like Zeke did). They have actually done very well. The only real "destruction" they did was, for the most part, explainable. (I know, I know...) The couch was pretty much "de-upholstered" by Zeke...they sort of discovered it and "improved" upon Zeke's handiwork. The other problem is the cushions are really worn...they chew their bones there and I think when a bone falls between the cushions, they get a little over zealous trying to get it back...one thing leads to another...and the couch gets in the way. Like I said, it's an old couch that has already been through one basenji. And I have some ideas for a solution...and, if worse comes to worse, there's always the crate! If nothing else, it might reinforce some training and maybe could be a temporary thing.

I'd like to do some obedience training...but I haven't quite figured out the logistics yet (two rather exuberant dogs, and only one me)...and I'd like to take them to doggie day care, but I'm afraid it might be too soon for that (don't want them to think they are being left there!). And I'm anxious to see how they do with other dogs...I am looking forward to taking them out and about with friends and their dogs. But I'm trying to make sure they are really comfortable first.

We've had some fun, and they have kept me laughing!! Sally's personality is starting to come through more and more...and Buddy, well, he just seems like an "IN YOUR FACE" kinda guy. Sweet and loving, but full of the devil too!! Sally has been a bit more reserved...but is starting to come out of her shell. She gives Buddy a hard time sometimes...and that can be quite amusing!! The only thing is...I haven't heard either of them yodel yet...I hope they do! But I think that might take a little more time...they "talk" to each other though.

Anyway, I think that kind of sums it all up for now! They are, of course, spoiled rotten...but I think they were kinda overdue for some of that!! I can't wait for better weather to do more outside stuff with them.

Oh yeah!! I forgot to tell you a few things!!

Yes, Buddy has had some fun with golf balls...until he lost one under the stove. Poor guy stood staring at where it disappeared for a while...as if he just knew it would come back out. We got another one pronto...'cause he is definitely the golf ball king! :)

And yes, thankfully the couch is the only victim. Although they somehow managed to nearly blow up the house while they were confined to the kitchen. I came home one day, opened the door and there was this overpowering smell of gas. Seems SOMEHOW "someone" managed to turn on one of the burners...but I have an electric ignition that requires the knob be turned all the way on, then back before the burner will light. Needless to say, the burner leaked gas for quite a while (apparently, considering the whole house was just filled with the smell!). I quickly opened doors and windows...then turned on fans (when the house aired out a bit)...and we left for a few minutes. After that, I decided the kitchen was not a good place for them to be...and if the couch is a victim...well, at least we still have one!!!!


Next…more of Buddy and Sally…and Daisy!!

jesse girl
12-13-2011, 07:02 PM
oh i enjoyed chapter 2

they are such good problem solvers it is quite amazing

CarolW
12-14-2011, 04:30 AM
Ah, I am really enjoying your stories! I'll be watching for more. Above all, I love how you adapt with your dogs, whoever they might be; you allow them to be Who They Are. As long as safety remains in place, I like this approach to dogs.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 04:30:15 (PST)

hiwaygal
12-14-2011, 09:30 AM
thanks for the story my jesse has had seizures all her life and coupled with diabetes not a great combination we decided not to medicate and with the diabetes and her internal organs that maybe compromised and of coarse the immune system it just would be a trade off so we have developed techniques that have lessen the severity of the seizures but eventually jesse may end up in the same place as zeke

I think the story gives you a clue on when to say good buy and it may be based in the personality change when they just are not there anymore there body is but there spirit is gone

i search for those clues to determine when to let jesse go and this story gives me that thank you very much

jesse girl, I should have responded to this earlier. Zeke was a very healthy guy until the seizures, no other medical problems at all. I think that made it much more obvious and "easier" (not really, but you know what I mean) for me to know.

I can't imagine having to watch the seizures all the time. No matter how much I know they aren't in pain when they are happening, it just looks so bad. You must be very strong to be able to help Jesse!

oh i enjoyed chapter 2

they are such good problem solvers it is quite amazing

Glad you liked it. And yes, Buddy especially was an escape artiste extraordinaire! There's a story I'll tell about that!

Ah, I am really enjoying your stories! I'll be watching for more. Above all, I love how you adapt with your dogs, whoever they might be; you allow them to be Who They Are. As long as safety remains in place, I like this approach to dogs.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 04:30:15 (PST)

Thanks Carol! I'm glad you are enjoying the story. It's helping me to remember the good stuff about Buddy and Sally, and Zeke too. I needed that.

As I've read more and more about dogs, it seems more and more people try to make them into fashion accessories, or children...something they aren't. I think it truly hurts the spirit of dogs in the long run. They need to be DOGS. They need to roll in smelly stuff and feel the wind in their fur.

Dogs have taught me a lot of things, but I think love for love's sake is their greatest lesson.

Patty
12-14-2011, 11:11 AM
I enjoy reading their adventures ;)

hiwaygal
01-08-2012, 07:31 AM
Chapter 3 – Buddy and Sally and Daisy

A couple of weeks after I brought Buddy and Sally home, I needed to go away for work. G offered to keep them at his house. At first I was worried because I didn’t know how they’d react to other dogs but I had to get over that. I wanted to know and Daisy was probably the perfect dog to “test” them on. Daisy is a golden retriever mix. She’s so happy-go-lucky, a little rambunctious, but also quite tolerant and laid back. In short, she’s wonderful! The three of them got along fairly well. I guess the only friction was between Buddy and Sally and that was normal. You see, Sally had taken it upon herself to keep Buddy in line. And Buddy was so in love with Sally, he listened!

Not long after that first meeting G and Daisy moved in permanently and we became a three dog family. All was good as the dogs figured out their positions in the pack. There were lots of little daily adventures as our lives melded but one memory that sticks out is THE CAGE!

We decided that we wanted a BIG kennel in our house for the dogs to stay in while we were gone and at night. There simply wasn’t enough room in our bed for us and three dogs.

G spent hours building a very functional (but not exactly attractive) kennel for them. It had to be big enough to comfortably fit Daisy (the golden mix) and I wanted separate spaces for each of them. But they needed to be able to see each other (I knew Buddy had separation issues). I also warned him about the Houdini quality that every ‘senji has.

He planned, he built...he was diligent. And it was sturdy (if not downright industrial)!

It took Buddy about an hour to get out of it. He chewed through a 2x4.

I laughed.

G was determined to out-smart Buddy. So he fixed and fiddled and proclaimed that the new kennel was Buddy-proof. I smiled.

It took Buddy about 30 minutes to get out. He managed to bend the steel wire stuff.

I laughed.

Still determined, G tried again. This time he used 1/4" lexan panels for the doors on Buddy's section. He assured me this was going to work. I smiled again.

It actually took Buddy about an hour to get out of that. He escaped into Daisy's section and bent the wire to get out HER door. Daisy was still in the kennel.

I laughed.

G discovered a new appreciation for basenjis!

Needless to say, the kennel was un-built and other sleeping arrangements were made. Eventually the dogs were put in our second bedroom. G built a nice little bed for Buddy, and Sally and Daisy slept in their crates.

Patty
01-09-2012, 10:05 PM
Oh my goodness, that's such a great story :D

Abby's Mom
01-10-2012, 06:42 AM
They have such a way to work their way into your hearts/beds/house. Would not have it any other way. Thanks for sharing....I love reading your stories.

CarolW
01-10-2012, 07:43 PM
So, Buddy, the Houdini Ultimate! Haha! Just loved your story!
Tue, 10 Jan 2012 19:42:42 (PST)