The year Annie grew old

It felt like she grew old overnight. One day she was running around outside chasing birds, the next day she needed help getting onto the couch. An adrenalectomy to remove a tumor which was growing on one of her adrenal glands and suddenly we were told that “12 years is a good age for dogs like her”. Since January, my dog Annie has never been the same.

Before and after.

According to Dr Carter, we were “lucky to catch” her tumor before it was too late to be removed. The op, although successful, was incredibly invasive and for a little dog who had been healthy all her life, it was a massive shock.Animal hospital stitches operation

Visiting her in the Fourways Vet Hospital, seeing her lying in her own little hospital bed was heartbreaking. Just when I thought it was all over, I had no idea of what was yet to come.

The remaining adrenal gland will not ‘wake up’. She is therefore unable to control her blood pressure which causes her to fall over a lot. She can’t control her temperature properly and often gets depression. This means that Annie lives off high levels of Lenisolone (it’s the canine version of Prednisone. If you’ve been on this cortisone, I don’t need to explain. It’s demonic!).

The op was such a big shock to her body that she has grown old very quickly. She is showing signs of cataracts in her eyes, is hard of hearing and limps slightly every now and then from joint pain. Her little back ‘chicken legs’ (KK calls them this) shiver. And then … a growth was discovered in the lining of her stomach wall. She won’t survive another op…

Monthly checkups with Dr Carter and she stands at the door waiting to get outta there!

Monthly checkups with Dr Carter and she stands at the door waiting to get outta there!

I’m so blessed that my parents have been able to look after both Annie & Emma. Living in a retirement home, it was the perfect setting for Annie to recoup and get 24/7 attention. The hugs and kisses don’t just stop with my parents! All the neighbors shower the girls with attention too! I am so grateful to have the parents I do.Staying with my parents in the retirement home hugs and kisses

KK and I realise that our house is not conducive for an old dog. Annie falls down the stairs and slips on the tiles. But more than that, our lifestyles are not suited to looking after her anymore. We have a full time helper so she has company in the day but when we leave at 6:30 for work and only get home after 7pm after track, that’s a long day without us. Then weekends, we’re out again at track sessions or running races or shopping.

For now we will take each day as it comes. Dr Carter is very happy with her progress. But as he says, “Annie is old.” We need to come to terms with that. Annie Brussels griffon

My Mom and I have been scheming…

When my dog Annie was diagnosed with an adrenal gland tumor, I realized that she needed the best care and treatment pre as well as post operation. As much as I love the luxury dog boarding kennels we’ve always booked the dogs into, I thought that maybe, just maybe, my girls would enjoy some time at my parents. Besides, there’s no place like ‘home’ when you’re not feeling well, right?

So this past weekend, I packed the girls into the car and off we went road tripping to Pretoria. My parents stay in a retirement village. They have a free standing house but it has no walls. The challenge would be to see how both Annie and Emma reacted to being in a different environment and if my parents were indeed able to look after them.

My mom was so excited! (Read: So was I!)

We arrived on Friday night and they nervously walked around the garden on their leads. Emma did get a fright when she bumped into the ‘varkies’ in the garden. Little did she know that the big owl was watching us all!

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How cool is this owl? It’s head moves when the wind blows! Ooooh!

Annie and Emma settled in quite quickly and it didn’t take long for them to get comfy on the couch.My DogsThey must have been exhausted (as was I) from sitting in that ghastly Friday evening traffic to Pretoria and we all slept like babies. One of the highlights of the weekend was waking up to go run with my Dad on Saturday morning!Running with my dad

My Mom taking the girls on walks while I snoozed

My Mom taking the girls on walks while I snoozed

Meeting the friendly neighbor

Meeting the friendly neighbor

Enjoying some tickles and love from my Dad in front of TV

Enjoying some tickles and love from my Dad in front of TV

The rest of the weekend was spent lying on the couch, going for many more walks and feeding the birds, even this little guy who practically eats out of my Dad’s hands!  We truly had a ball this weekend! The best part is that it looks like Annie and Emma settled in quite quickly and my parents have no issue looking after them. *phew*

Okay Mom, so when can we come again?

“All I need to know about life I learned from my dog” – Loren

I work with a girl named Loren. I’ve known for some time now that she does some sort of therapy work with dogs. That’s pretty much all I knew until I was asked to ‘interview’ her for an internal newsletter. What I learnt about her filled me with incredible admiration. Here’s why…

Loren has always had a love for dogs. As she told me, “Dogs have been sent to us for a purpose.”

She belongs to a non-profit organisation called “Paws for People®”.

Together with her Shiloh Shepherd, Willow, they provide animal assisted activity/therapy for motivational, educational, recreational and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance the quality of life for people. Their time is spent in old age homes and hospital visits, specializing in Oncology and Pediatrics. They are also involved in the Pet Education programs at schools to teach children how to interact with dogs. Loren has also just started training on the R.A.D.I.C.A.L. program for children with reading disabilities.

Not only does the therapy work strengthen the bond between Willow and herself, but as Loren explained, she’s also able to share Willow with others. Willow brings so much joy and Loren loves seeing the smile on patients’ faces as Willow gives them the opportunity to forget their pain and suffering at that moment.

Loren says, “I am merely a facilitator and Willow does all the work, whether it be lying on the bed with a patient, taking a patient’s socks off, walking down the passage with the patient or just sitting quietly. What’s important to me is that I have made someone’s day and that I have made their stay in hospital etc… a more pleasant one. I can have the worst day ever, but after the therapy visit I have forgotten all about it. Visiting these patients makes me realize that there are people with bigger problems out there and I have every reason to feel grateful.”

There aren’t a lot of people in this world that have the heart and dedication to do what Loren and Willow do. I think both Loren and Willow are pretty amazing…

I love my weekends, especially because of…

Friday night pasta…

We don’t eat a lot of take-out. For us, Friday nights are pasta night in our house. It’s the one night of the week where I make a kick-ass pasta dish, loaded with cheese. Yum!

Saturday morning breakfast in bed…

KK wakes up quite early on Saturday mornings. If we aren’t off to run a race, he will make breakfast which we usually eat in bed watching something we’ve PVR’ed on TV. Even if it’s just a bowl of Milo cereal, or muesli and a hot cup of tea. It’s perfect! The best part is falling asleep again and waking up later.

Saturday movie night…

If we have no other plans, KK and I usually go to movies. We take it in turns to pick the movie and always buy x2 small popcorns and a water. After the movie, we go for supper. It’s our special “date night” and never grows old.

Sunday afternoon naps…

I absolutely love napping on a Sunday afternoon. It’s even better if there’s a typical Jozi thunderstorm and the room gets all dark and cosy.

Spending time with my dogs…

Annie and Emma follow me wherever I go. They absolutely adore me. It’s also the only time I get to really snuggle them and let them cuddle with me when I nap. I like to spend extra time talking to them and brushing them. They love it!

Feeding the birds in my garden…

There’s nothing more beautiful than the sound of birds in the garden. I have two bird feeders and it attracts so many birds to my garden. All weekend, there is the sound of weavers and grey louries in the trees. It’s magnificent!

Early morning races…

Running races have become a part of my life. It’s what we do. I once told a friend that I was thinking of quitting the running and she said, “You can’t. It’s such a big part of what you and KK do on your weekends. It’s what your friends do on weekends. Quitting is not an option.” She’s right. It’s a big part of our lives and our weekends. Yes, so the 4am wake up and driving to races in the dark always feels like hell, but crossing those finish lines and eating pancakes under a tree after a race while we all review how the race went is .. well, it’s pretty awesome.