January 1, 2008

Britta’s Collision – the Aftermath

Filed under: dogs — Brian @ 6:02 pm

As promised threatened, a photo of the results of Britta’s glancing impact with our sliding glass door.

To get a good shot of the gunk, I put a sheet of white posterboard on the deck behind the window. I also took advantage of Fireworks’ “contrast” slider, which helped quite a bit in bringing out the snot, but may have done considerable damage to any sense of what you’re looking at.

Where you see white, imagine the floor of a wooden deck.

As I mentioned in the last post, she was fine. Completely uninjured. Didn’t even stop to shake herself off.

Britta’s Nose Splatter


December 29, 2007

Britta Update

Filed under: dogs — Brian @ 8:57 am

Don asked about Britta, so here’s a quick update and some photos.

She seems to have stopped growing at about 56 pounds. Small for a retriever, I’d say. Not quite miniature, but she certainly looks small after the 70+ pounders we’re accustomed to around here. That’s a sofa pillow she’s laying on. She’s not so small that you’d think she could fit on it, but dogs are remarkably shrinkable, as you may know.

Britta on Pillow

She’s an incredibly fast learner, mastering most commands after just a few repetitions. She reverts to old behaviors almost as quickly if you don’t work with her, though, so it’s a constant refresher course. Which is fine.

She’s become very social, frequently seeking out the humans in the house to see what they’re up to, and announcing her presence with a gentle but firm nudge with her snout. She’s less gentle with doors. If you go to take a nap behind a closed door, don’t fall asleep too quickly, ’cause there will soon be the sound of a bang at the door. Just one, but it’s quite a bang.

This morning it was a little cold, so we sent her outside with Louis and waited for them to return to the sliding glass door. Britta didn’t realize it was closed. Thank goodness she came at it from an angle, or we’d be dividing our day between the new door store and the veterinary ER. She left a nice smear of dog snot. I’ll try to get you a picture.

Britta with Rope

We’re having quite a time raising her, and she’s showing great promise.

December 5, 2007


Filed under: dogs — Brian @ 7:30 am

There’s two inches of snow on the ground this morning!

Britta is out there playing. It’s fun to watch a puppy in her first snow – they all do some of the same things. They bury their snouts in it, sniff, then sneeze, then run to a new place to do it again.

Britta keeps her nose down while running to the new place, so she’s a kind of narrow, ineffective snow plow. 

April 15, 2007

Dog People Are Great

Filed under: Blogroll, dogs, drawing — Brian @ 6:59 pm

Don is a kind, thoughtful fellow.

We’d been away for the week, visiting family and might-as-well-be-family near Chicago. We started the return trip early this morning, breezed through the tolls and made it home in record time. There was one trip where it took us over 90 minutes to get past the first tollbooth. This time, I think we were in Indiana by then.

Did you know that on Chicago’s toll roads, the toll is usually 40 cents, but only if you have an Illinois Tollway-issued I-Pass thingy in your car? If you pay cash, they’re 80 cents. Even at the unattended booths. Nobody says, “welcome!” like Chicago. You know, it was a cool place when I lived there. Now it’s just something to tolerate so I can get to the people and the food.

Anyhow – that’s not the point. The point is that we’d been away for a while, and we were now coming home. This is where Carla is usually waiting for us with a toy in her mouth and a wag in her tail and a deep, rumbling growl of canine joy. Her absence is noticeable.

But then, I’m flipping through the accumulated mail, and I find this postcard with funny-looking writing on the back. It’s from Carla, saying things are good where she is now. I flip it over, and there’s a painted sketch of her on the front, in a style I immediately recognize as Don’s, and in the “pose” from this photo.

Later, as I’m going through my e-mail and RSS feeds, I see that he’s written about her and posted scans of the front and back of the postcard. Don’s a dog person, too.

He set aside some time to create and send a little comfort our way. As I told him, it was almost like a little bit of her was here to welcome us home.

It’s good to have friends.

April 4, 2007

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Filed under: dogs, God — Brian @ 6:14 am

Now, don’t take this for anything more than the wishful thinking of a man who misses his dog, but it seems to me that if the reason humans aren’t assured a place in heaven has its roots in the original disobedience of eating from that tree… well, then there’s your answer for why dogs go to heaven.

They didn’t eat from that tree after they were told not to. Sure, they keep licking your face after you tell them to stop, but that’s not even close to the same thing.

April 2, 2007


Filed under: dogs — Brian @ 6:05 pm

Turns out it was a good time to spoil the dog, recently.

Carla died today. She was at home, on the family room floor. Jenn and I were sitting over her and petting her when she went. Of all the ways she could have gone, that’s about the best I could imagine.

She started to decline on Friday afternoon when she stopped eating again. I took her to the vet on Saturday where we found that her blood was losing the things it needs to serve its purpose. Spent Sunday lying in the grass outside with her, and Monday morning in the house doing our best to keep her comfortable.

This morning (Monday) she was too weak to stand, even with help. We’d made an appointment with the vet for 1:30 – the earliest we could get. She died at 12:30. And it wasn’t until about 11:30 that the twinkle left her eye, and she stopped pulling up the corners of her lips in that dog smile she gets when you speak to her kindly.

It seems as though she was comfortable, though increasingly exhausted, right up until the last.

Some time ago, I wrote this, about how it feels to lose a pet. I hadn’t lost one myself since I was a kid. But right now, what I wrote then seems about right.

Sketch of Carla resting from October, 2005

March 21, 2007

Spoiling the Dog

Filed under: dogs, photos — Brian @ 7:05 pm

Carla with hambone

We had a ham over the weekend. Carla gets special treatment lately, which includes free rein to ingest leftover pork products, including skeletal remains.

She *ate* the bone. Chewed it up into tiny pieces and swallowed it all. I’m told this is OK because ham bones don’t splinter like chicken bones do.

But still. It’s a little freaky knowing that the animal loose in the house while I sleep is capable of eating another animal, bones and all.

Because, you know, I’m constructed of that same stuff…


February 6, 2007

Dogs, Prayers and Possibilities

Filed under: dogs, fatherhood, God — Brian @ 8:21 pm

When our dog Carla stopped eating and started laying still for hours on end, our vet found an enlarged spleen. She suggested the cause might be hemangiosarcoma – a cancer that’s claimed a dog each from two familes we know recently. Other, less serious possibilities were mentioned, but it seemed as though their purpose was to offer hope, not suggest probabilities.

With some medication, a change to tastier food, and prayers from family and friends, her demeanor improved while we waited for the abdominal ultrasound that would tell us more conclusively what was the cause.

At the ultrasound appointment, the news was that it would be lymphoma – still deadly, but somehow less frightening. Maybe because it’s a more familiar term. Certainly not because it’s good. They took some sample tissue through a very small incision for a biopsy.

We waited and prayed some more for a little more time with this dog who’s been so good to us. More time with her in relative comfort before the end that we’d come to expect would be within sight.

When word arrived with the results of the biopsy, everyone was puzzled. No lymphoma.

Nothing seems to be very wrong at all anymore. Her fever is gone, her personality and energy are back. She is as she was before. Same dog again.

We’ll go in for another blood test next week and see if there’s anything to be found in the comparison.

It got me thinking about God, and where He does His work. I don’t know if He intervened for our dog, but this is exactly the kind of situation that strengthens my faith.

Here was a sick dog, with symptoms that several very good veterinarians believed to have dire implications. We had accepted that our time with her would very likely be cut short, and we’d started to prepare our boys for the loss that the science told us was coming soon.

And in the time between “this looks bad” and “here’s the cause of the problem,” we prayed, and friends and family prayed.

And she got better.

Now, we’re still in that “between” time. We still don’t know what caused the symptoms or what made them stop, and it’s still within the realm of possibility that she has a terrible illness. But these things are certain: her pain is gone and our fear of losing her has given way to gratitude for the time we’ve had.

If God was going to heal one regular dog in one regular family – and if for reasons beyond our grasp he wanted to do it in a way that would hint at his hand without proving it – is this not the way it would happen? Could happen? In the time between “this looks bad” and “here are the test results,” is that not a perfect place for God to reveal Himself in the hearts of those willing to see?

Nothing is proven. Nothing is certain. Nothing is even testable. Is it there that we can see a little bit of God?

I don’t know. But a world without that possibility is a dark world, indeed.

January 31, 2007

Another Carla Drawing

Filed under: dogs, drawing — Brian @ 8:19 pm


This is from about the same time as the previous one, but this one was done from a photo. She doesn’t hold that still…

I got lost around her snout. I didn’t want to draw her whole body, and I wanted her whiskers to show. So that ring of darkness was my feeble attempt to do both at once.

Carla is Sick

Filed under: dogs, fatherhood — Brian @ 7:19 am

As Jennifer mentioned, Carla – our Golden Retriever – hasn’t been quite herself for a few days. She skipped breakfast two days in a row last week, which she *never* does. She normally eats the whole bowl in a very few, very fast gulps. Now, we have to coax her to eat at all.

Since then, we got here some canned food, which been helping a lot – she normally gets the dry stuff. And since she’s been eating that, much of her energy has returned. We had a good time playing with tennis balls in the house last night.

She’s still not herself – and still has a consistent 103 to 104-degree fever – but she’s more comfortable than she was.


Our wonderful vet took a look at her on monday, and found an enlarged spleen and a “severely depressed” white blood cell count. So, she’s on antibiotics (and canned dog food) for now, while we wait for further blood tests. If the blood test rules out hemolytic anemia, we’ll go back in for an abdominal ultrasound – probably can’t get in until next week, though.

Hemolytic anemia: when the body marks its own red blood cells for removal from the blood stream by the spleen. Her spleen could be large because it’s full of the blood cells it’s collecting. (I’m paraphrasing my vet’s explanation – I don’t know this stuff…)

The other significant possibile cause is cancer – not uncommon in goldens of her age and lineage.

The ultrasound will cover “from her bladder to her diaphragm” and our vet is very confident in the capabilities of the people who will do that.

We’re not sure what to expect, but we’re hoping for anemia.

If you’re the praying type, and if you would pray for a dog, we would be grateful.

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