>Belated Friday dog blogging: farewell to Wiley

>[Updated to add a picture of a Portuguese Water Dog at Squadratomagico’s request.]

I meant to post this yesterday, but for some strange reason my computer wouldn’t connect to our wireless network. Poor Bullock had to redo the network from scratch — new name, new channel, new key, etc. — for my computer to connect. This is the second time this has happened and neither of us knows why. It’s annoying as hell, too.

Anyway, Wiley left with the Pastry Pirate on Monday morning and we’ve missed him terribly since. If we get our own dog, it won’t be until I get back from my London trip (word to the folks also in London this summer, I’ll be there June 24 to July 21). I still don’t know what kind of dog we’ll get, though I have to say I met my first Portuguese Water Dog the other day and I’m still enamored, though the breed may be a little too energetic for our household. Bullock and I were in the living room and watching the neighbors across the street load tons of large size trash onto the curb — we were trying to guess what was going on: remodelling? cleaning out the parents’ house for a move to a retirement home? getting ready to sell? — when a dog walker came down the street and Bullock said, “Hey, isnt’t that a Portuguese Water Dog?” At which point I raced out the front door and asked to be introduced. The dog was a 2 1/2 year old male named Ghost, and still acted very puppy-like in his excitement to meet me (though he didn’t jump on me — good boy!). He was so sweet and eager to please, and once I stopped loving him up (what soft fur! what a sweet lovey-dovey personality!) and started asking his human about the breed, Ghost happily sat in the grass and waited for the humans to be done — though he was clearly excited and eager to be on his way on his adventurous walk, since he was panting with anticipation.

If you’ve never seen a Portie, here’s a picture of a young brown one named Dakota, copied from this site. Dakota was bred by Timber Oaks Portuguese Water Dogs of Traverse City, MI. Since the picture’s not mine, if the Timber Oaks folks come by and ask me to take it down, I will, but I wanted to use it for illustrative purposes, since the Portie I met, Ghost, looked like a black version of Dakota.

*Anyway* since a Portie is a non-shedding breed, that would solve the thing we liked least about having a large shedding dog — the hair, my god, the hair (which, as New Kid points out, will ALWAYS be with us). Here it is nearly a week later and though Wiley is gone, his hair reminds us of his 4+ months with us, and makes us all the more sad that he’s not there. After all, it’s depressing to still have some of the bad things about dog ownership — the hair, the smelly vacuum cleaner (I have to change the bag and filter) — and yet no soft and fuzzy and funny and fascinating creature to show for it. Wah!

So here are some final pictures of Wiley as a tribute, taken by the Pirate during her visit (I haven’t uploaded mine yet). First, here’s Mister Sister (one of Bullock’s many names for Wiley other than, well, Wiley) hoping instensely that Bullock will give him some of that leftover chicken he’s got (at least, I assume Wiley doesn’t want a martini — note glass):

And now here’s Deputy Dog (another of Bullock’s nicknames for him) on the family room floor, guarding one Bullock’s favorite non-human-food treats to get for him, a jerky-coverd, marrow-filled bone:

I like this picture of Wiley. If you take out the week and a half of dizziness and hospital stays from the ear infection, this picture pretty much sums up his stay with us: contented and spoiled rotten. I think of it as having been our only chance to be grandparents of sorts, or the cool aunt and uncle. Sorry, Pirate!

And so long, Wiley! We’ll miss you! I hope we see you again soon!

Aunt Virago and Uncle Bullock

PS — I just noticed that the Pirate also has put up both of these pictures on her blog, plus the other one I thought about putting up, of Kittenheads (one of her many nicknames for him — why does no one call him by his actuall name???) back at her place. Wiley’s a star of the blogosphere!

>A wooly week

>Please god, no more animal-related traumas and stress this week.

Beginning this past Friday (OK, so it hasn’t been quite a week yet), the Virago-Bullock household has been struck with one hairy trauma after another, the first and the worst involving dear Wiley. As a result I’ve now been to the emergency vet four times and really never want to go back there again (no offense to the wonderful people there).

On early Friday morning, while I was in the bathroom, I heard Wiley follow me, excited to be let out for his morning pee, and then all of a sudden I heard what sounded like him falling, and when I came out, I found the poor thing collapsed on the floor in his own pee, unable to rise steadily. I thought it was a bad case of an arthritis flare-up and gave Wiley a peanut-butter coated aspirin. But as the morning progressed, and as Bullock and I tried to coax him to his feet to work the kinks out, Wiley didn’t seem to get any more confident or better. At best, he stumbled, legs spread wide, to get from room to room or across the large bedroom. He wouldn’t even attempt the stairs, which meant we had an 85-pound dog trapped on the second floor of our home, who was having multiple bathroom accidents from fear and an inability to control himself any longer, but who couldn’t make it down the stairs on his own, and also wouldn’t consent to being lifted. For some reason Bullock and I persisted in thinking it was arthritis, so we took turns staying with Wiley while the other saw to work-related obligations. But by the afternoon, I realized It was something else when I noticed Wiley’s eyebrow twitching rapidly and his eyes darting back and forth from something more involuntary than fear. We had to get him downstairs and to the emergency vet.

By that time Wiley was freaked out enough — and perhaps desperate enough to go out and pee and poop where he knew he was supposed to — that he let Bullock carry him down the stairs, while I held Wiley’s head steady and kept him calm. As soon as we got him downstairs, he stumbled wildly towards the backdoor, and once out, he peed and pooped immediately, but also walked in circles and arcs. Clearly this was no arthritis. But the good news was Wiley’s brain function was fine, because as soon as I said, “Wiley, wanna go on a car trip?” he staggered over to the car and jumped right in, tail wagging. Later, when things were calmer, Bullock and I laughed at this.

To make a long story short, it turned out Wiley had an ear infection that had caused a sudden onset of vertigo. Hence the inability to walk and the staggering in circles. He’s been on antibiotics since Friday night, and now he’s much better. He still lists to one side a little bit, and when he shakes his head or looks up, he loses his balance a bit, but he’s eating, playing, going for walkies, and barking at other dogs, so things are pretty much back to normal. It took a day to convince him he could walk normally again, however, and at first he’d only do it on the leash. I don’t know if he’ll ever again come up here on the second floor, though.

The second trauma in this wooly almost-week was far less dire, but still not exactly what we needed. Wiley was still in the vet hospital (they kept him for 24 hours) and Bullock and I were eating breakfast, when all of sudden Bullock exclaimed, “Oh god, a mouse!” I turned around and there in our kitchen, perched on the edge of a drawer like he didn’t have a care in the world, was a fat — and rather cute — brown mouse with a white belly. As cute as it was, however, it was in our utensil drawer! Ew! So traps were purchased, drawers cleaned out, items washed and disinfected, and the very next day there was a dead mouse in the same drawer where we’d first seen it. We got the old-fashioned snap traps and it seems to have done its duty breaking the little creature’s neck and, we hope, ending its life quickly and humanely. I felt bad though, because it was pretty cute for a home invader.

But I felt much, much worse tonight on my last trip to the emergency vet. The first three were for Wiley — Friday and Saturday nights, then a follow-up visit on Monday — but tonight’s trip was for another poor creature. Wiley and I were out in the back yard when suddenly Wiley started off on a run towards the front (a run! see — he *is* getting better!). I called for him to Stop! and Stay! because he’s not supposed to leave the backyard and I had no idea what trouble he was headed for. He’s a very good dog and did as he was told and that’s when I saw the most heart-wrenching sight I’d ever seen of an animal in distress. Moving across our driveway was a buff-colored cat dragging himself by his front paws. I took Wiley inside, got a spare towel we use for Wiley-related things, and went after the cat. When I approached him, he stopped and looked pathetically and weakly up at me and then put his head down on the ground. Picking him up and wrapping him in the towel was no trouble. He didn’t cry, hiss, or fuss, and when I had him wrapped up and cradled in my arms, he seemed, in a word, grateful. I’ve never met a sweeter, more compliant cat.

I pretty much knew the outcome of this story the minute I saw the creature up close, and the vet confirmed it. The poor little thing, a grown male cat weighing only 6.4 pounds, had a broken pelvis, massive dehydration, the signs of long-term neglect, and possibly also one of the three fatal but common feline diseases. He was already near death; I just saved him from a slower one in tonight’s snow and cold and gave him a little human contact, compassion, and affection in the end. Poor thing.

When we took Wiley to the vet on Friday night I was terrified that it was something life-threatening and that I’d have to make a decision for him and his mama. But Bullock, Wiley, and I were lucky that night. Instead, tonight, I had to make a decision for a poor stray who might have once belonged to someone, although he wasn’t one of the neighborhood cats, all of whom I know well. Or maybe he was always a stray and just happened to be unafraid of humans. I just hope someone isn’t out there looking for their lost pet.