Wags n Words Healthy Dogs & Happy Tales

July 22, 2016

Brother Druthers

Recently, Gretchen took Dezi and me to visit with Rachel Millikan of Beyond Barking. This almost caused a rift in my parent’s marriage because Rachel is an animal communicator. For some of you, this probably feels like the hokiest thing she could have done, but I’m here to tell you, it was wonderful to FINALLY be heard. I could spend this entire blog sharing with all what we learned from each other (Gretchen, Dezi, and me), but I would rather focus on the events that folded AFTER the communication session.

Let me just say this though: Rachel was fantastic so if you are so inclined, give her a call. It’s really helped our family tremendously.

But back to what I really want to tell you…

IMG_4204…we have adopted another dog. Yep, the dog Blue that I wrote about during the last blog, the dog who lived on the streets and Costa Rica and was brought home by my beloved sister-in-law, Patti, is now living with us.


Like forever.

Like for always.

Clearly, I have mixed feelings about all of this. In our communication session I think I made it pretty darn clear that I have, as Rachel called it, a large energetic bubble. I am very particular about who gets to be in my space. When Dezi came to live with us, he had to learn about my proximity issues, but because I already knew him, it wasn’t too hard to establish my comfort zone with him.IMG_4135

True, as he’s grown older and more unstable, he occasionally stumbles into my zone, but I have learned to be patient with him because he is, after all, my “older” brother.

I also have issues with sharing. Not just food or treats or toys, but pretty much everything — my time, my moms, their affections, my place on the bed, hell my place in the whole damn house. Dezi knows all this and he still loves me. He is very careful not to tread into my space or ask to “share” anything that I deem is mine, which I’ve made clear, is pretty much everything. Dezi is respectful and is not too bent out of shape when I claim what I feel is mine, perhaps nudging him out of his desire to have it too.

IMG_4115Still, when we met with Rachel, I was pretty certain that Dezi living with us was a one time addition to our family. There would be no other brothers for me to contend with.

Boy was I wrong.

This is all made pretty unbearable because the new addition, who they have named Oscar, was, in a sense, a “gift” from my favorite Aunt Patti. I adore Aunt Patti and whenever we visit her, I show my affections for my favoritism by sidling up to her and giving her my most loving sweet eyes so she will give me the undying attention I so deserve.

So for Patti to betray me in this way, to come home from her vacation in Costa Rica with a street dogIMG_4193 in tow, is a bit of a slap in my devoted-to-Patti face.

Oh sure…I’ve heard it all: Oscar is Dezi’s doppleganger; this is a sign from Dezi; Oscar needs a loving and caring home; Patti trusts us the most; he’ll get the best food, exercise, and medical care in our house; yada yada yada. And then it was even more painful when I was misled under the pretense that he would live with us “temporarily,” as a “foster dog” until we could find him a proper home. You know what? That dog wasn’t with us for more than 6 hours before he was all the sudden “our” dog, a member of the family, and an additional “brother” for me!

When this was all going down, I did my best to rally the troops and get Dezi to put his foot down along with mine, but wouldn’t you know it, Dezi fell in love with the little guy. I didn’t have a chance.

IMG_4190Yes, Oscar is cute. Yes, he is affectionate. And yes, he knows how to play to his strengths. Even though he only spoke Spanish, he knew exactly how to woo my moms and Dezi and anyone else who came in contact with him.

I think they should have named him Romeo. Or perhaps Casanova.

Cheeky little thing!

So now I have two brothers when all I ever wanted in life was to be the one dog in a one dog family.

Okay, so I’m not as cold hearted as I sound. I do love Dezi. If I had to choose a brother, it would be Dezi (or Monty). He is the perfect gentleman. He fits his nickname (David Niven) perfectly. He has blended into our family perfectly. And he is perfectly loved by all of us.IMG_4220

But to bring another brother along without so much as a “Hey Rubin, what do you think?” is a bit of an insult. Don’t ya think?

I think my moms know this because they have done a whole lot of stuff to make certain I am not “put out” as they like to say. They take me on separate walks so I can have alone time with them; they put up a gate so I can have my own separate eating space; they made sure my place on the bed was still available and my place in the car was clearly delineated.

And, to be honest, Oscar has been pretty respectful of all the imposed boundaries. Yes, he still wants to play with me — licks my cheek every morning — and he shadows me everywhere, as if to get on my good side by flattering me and emulating me. If I give a full body shake, he does the same. If I bark at a squirrel, he IMG_4097
barks too. If I lie down in the kitchen, he lies as close as he can get without disturbing me.

Everyone says Oscar is a mini-me of Dezi, but I think Oscar thinks he should be my mini-me.


Part of the problem is that I can’t play with Oscar yet. Playing is the way I best learn to accept other dogs. If they chase me or wrestle me, then I know they are ok, but Oscar hasn’t been able to do that yet.

You see Oscar came to us with some major health concerns. He had tick disease to start with or IMG_4135something called ehrlichiosis. The isn’t as serious as Lyme Disease, but it’s still serious. Luckily, it’s treatable but the medication has side effects and so Oscar didn’t feel 100% for the first month of his homecoming.

And he has heart worm. This is serious, but again, treatable through some pretty powerful medications. He is on those for quite some time and this is the main reason we are not allowed to play and romp together. Briefly, the goal of the medication is to help the heart worm die off slowly. It breaks the worms a part into tiny little pieces so they can be absorbed into the body without causing damage. If they die off too quickly or break about in larger pieces, they can cause a stroke and one way that they die off too quickly is if Oscar’s heart races. Hence, we are limited to long walks and no playing chase.

I am sad about this because one of the best ways I know how to make friends is to let them chase me. And let me tell you, this little guy wants to do exactly IMG_4125that! I have to admit that I have been known to taunt him from time to time, but my moms break up any attempt on our parts to play pretty quickly. Oscar keeps trying though. For instance, after a long walk Gretchen let him off the leash when we got into the house. He proceeded to race up and down the hallway with an absolute look of glee on his face. I, of course, jumped in because who doesn’t like a gleeful race up and down the hallway?

So I’m hoping, once the meds are finished (October at the earliest, December at the latest) our playing can commence and our friendship can truly begin.

In the meantime, I am doing my best to accept my new brother.IMG_4167

Dezi, I must say, has tried his best to talk me through it. “I don’t want you to be alone,” he tells me. “You need someone younger in your life to keep you on your toes!” I know he’s just saying this partly because he is so in love with Oscar, but partly because I know how much he loves me.

I’ll be honest. It’s gonna be hard when Dezi crosses the Rainbow Bridge. I have grown to love this wise old man. Rachel, the animal communicator, called him a light and I think that’s a perfect description of him. He has brought light into our lives and I am going to miss his sage counsel and steadfast friendship.

IMG_4207But I don’t want to think about that yet. I need Dezi to be with me now as we transition Oscar completely into the fold. Dezi has been holding his own of late, but every day, I can tell there’s a little less life in him, a little less spark. He sleeps a lot and only rallies when he knows a meal is served. He goes on walks with us, but they are much shorter and much slower these days and that twinkle in his eyes is fading, growing more dull as the weeks pass.

I have grown to love Dezi like a brother and he tells me that, in time, I will grow to love Oscar the same way. I think he may be right, but I’m not sure I’m ready to admit it yet. And I think that’s only fair since I’m a dog who never wanted one brother let alone two.


Perhaps this is my lot in life — to face the things I never thought I’d enjoy and find out that I really enjoy them. Well, at least I know who to thank — Dezi. He has been the light who has shown me the way and for that I will always be grateful.

For now, though, I must breathe deeply and realize that Oscar is here to stay. Gretchen tells me that IMG_4224it’s my job to teach the little guy how to be a dog in the United States. She tells me that he has lived his life on the streets and many of his behaviors — barking at other dogs, for instance — was his way of surviving. I need to show him that other dogs can be his friend, that drinking water out of a bowl won’t harm him, that we pee outside the house (which he’s pretty good at), and that when we say “forever” we mean forever. Gretchen tells me that this is an opportunity for me to be the wise, older brother like Dezi was for me.

It’s not a role I’m completely comfortable with, but she says, given enough time and if I’m super patient, I will come to love Oscar as much as I’ve loved Dezi. Hard to believe, but I have to admit, she hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

We’ll see. Stay tuned for more Oscar and Dezi updates and when you have a moment, send me some courage, okay?



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June 18, 2016

Do you believe in magic?

IMG_3923A little over two years ago, my pal Dezi came to live with us. I thought it was a temporary thing, but I soon realized, perhaps even before Dezi did, that it was permanent. No one asked me if this would be okay because I think they just assumed that I would understand and I suppose on some level I did. Dezi needed a home and he was most comfortable in ours so here he landed and here he will stay.

In April, Dezi was diagnosed with a very large tumor in his middle ear. This made us all sad because, given his age (14.5), even the surgeon advised against surgery. We have no idea how fast the tumor is growing and while the tests for cancer came back inconclusive, it’s still a mass growing in his ear making him unsteady on his already elderly legs. He has quite a head tilt, IMG_3943walks a bit like a drunken sailor, and at times falls over, like when he shakes his head or is moving a bit too fast.

We thought his prognosis wasn’t very good and so we prepared ourselves. But here we are, mid-June and Dezi is doing ok. He has his bad days– about one a week — but the majority of his days are good — slow and steady. We know that eventually we will need to say goodbye, but today he is here with us — happy, content, and still enjoying life.

And this makes me happy because despite my hesitancy, I love him, I’m happy he’s my brother, and I hope he can stay with us a long as he can.

And then this happened…IMG_6631

My Aunt Patti sent a photo from her vacation of a young pup who showed up at her hotel. When we first saw the photo we all gasped — it was Dezi’s doppleganger! We shared the photo with our good friend, Randi, who, without hesitation said, “This is a sign. He needs to come here!”

And so began the wheels of destiny for young Blue…that’s what Patti named him, little Blue…a street dog from southern lands. He was welcomed into the hotel, loved by Patti and her sisters, and taken to the vet for shots, neutering, and a physical exam. He has some medical issues, but they are all being treated and once all the paperwork was in order, he boarded a plane with Patti and headed north.

IMG_3998I have yet to meet him, but Gretchen picked him up at the airport with Randi and both of them fell madly in love. His first stop was to Classy Canines for training and assessment. That’s where he is now and according to the trainer, he’s doing remarkably well — getting along with other dogs, cats, kids, etc.

But what’s next for Blue? This is where I’m a bit worried. First, IMG_4003with Dezi stable but clearly on the final leg of his journey, I’m not sure taking on a new dog is the best for Dezi. Second, I’m not sure I’m ready to share my home with another dog. I am kind of one-dog family and while I’ve taken Dezi in as my brother, I’m not sure I’m ready to do it again. Lastly, I’m not sure Momma Ann is ready for another dog either. She’s always been of the firm belief that the right dog will come to us when we’re ready. Is that Blue? Hard to say since neither of us have met him…but still…are we ready for this?

I can tell, though, that this Blue is a special dog. Patti fell head over heels in love with him, but is unable to keep him. Gretchen fell head over heels too, but she knows that both Ann and I need to be on board before she takes on any other dog. And Randi loves him too. IMG_8699.JPG-1And so does the trainer.

Luckily, there are a few people we know who are interested…in fact, they are lining up, but we are waiting until Blue is ready.

In the meantime, all of this has given me pause (paws). In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot about magic, which I know may sound odd, but somehow, the more I contemplate Dezi’s inevitable passing and Blue’s arrival, the more the topic of magic crosses my mind.

There are lots of definitions for the word magic — a lot having to do with sleight of hand and fooling people. This is not the kind of magic I have been thinking about. The definition I like has to do with mystery — the beauty of the unexplained. Like the magic of seeing a beautiful sunrise or the color of the leaves as they turn in Autumn or the sight of beef liver cookies added onto your daily meal.IMG_3682

I can see now that Dezi’s coming to live with us, while a result of tragic events, has been a beautiful experience for all of us. He has taught me so much about myself, about love, about patience (an important lesson for me), and about acceptance.

Then Blue shows up on my favorite Aunt’s doorstep and while I am a little nervous about what it all means, I realize there may be some unexplained magic in this event. I’m not sure what that might be, but when I look at Blue and those big ears, when I realize how much he looks like Dezi I think I might allow myself to believe in magic.

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