"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Visit With Friends

It has been a busy several days so I haven't blogged.  The last time I posted I was feeling fairly optimistic that my health was going to improve.  It didn't.  I started feeling worse, just wretched, very sick and finally reached a point where I knew I'd be smart to go to the doctor.  On Wednesday, the doctor took a look at my arms, pronounced it a systemic infection, gave me a steroid shot, placed me on antibiotics and put me on a second (and longer) round of prednisone, upped the amount of antihistimines I was taking and prescribed a steriod/antibiotic ointment.  She said if that didn't do it, she'd want to try a third round of prednisone.  If I had been a horse, I think she would have ordered me to be put down.

By the next day, Thursday, I was feeling much better.  Almost human.  By Friday, I felt marvelous. 

{{Big sigh of relief}}

I actually drove back to the doctor's office to thank them, in person.

I am a member of a Samoyed owners group and have met quite a few lovely people (and their dogs) that way.  Several members are involved in rescue, some have adopted hard to place samoyeds, and all of them understand fur.  We primarily interact via the internet but on a regular basis, members get together.  If a member is traveling, it is common to stay with a fellow member en route.  One such member stayed with us Friday night along with her two boys, Blind Willie (who really is blind) and Tarka, a young male who is just this side of feral.  Their "mom," is Julia, an impressive woman who had spent the last couple of weeks in Taos with a friend.  She is quite an accomplished skier and racer. 

Julia has a dog website she created in honor of Muddy, who she lost not too long ago.  The name of the site is Ask Muddy, the dog who knows what's best for him.   Muddy had many health issues but was greatly loved.  She has information set up on the site for dogs like Muddy, as well as for other dogs with special needs like Willie and Tarka. 

Willie is a big boned, biscuit spotted male who is completely blind but was managing to survive as a stray, which tells you about his coping skills. Here is some information about Willie.  I have never met a more go with the flow dog than Willie.  He has cateracts but that is not what caused his blindness and removing them won't help his sight - would just be another medical procedure.  We first met Willie when Pearl was about 5 months old.  She was completely enchanted with him. Willie is a complete love who, if I wasn't told, would not have believed was blind.  I have seen videos of him playing with a ball that slay me.  He couldn't be certified as a therapy dog because he does not respond to hand signals.  He has managed to rise above that disability to an extent that seems miraculous. 

Right after they lost Muddy, they fostered Tarka, a young, extremely fearful dog who is terrified of men and children.  He and Willie immediately bonded, he adopted Julia and they made the arrangment permanent.   He also is afraid of women but that doesn't seem to be so ingrained.  Here is some information about Tarka.  Julia has done a phenomenal job with both of them and is just the kind of gutsy woman to not be afraid to take two special needs dogs along with her, alone, cross country, to go skiing. 

On Friday, we were expecting them around 6:15 p.m.  Unfortunately, about thirty minutes from our home, Willie somehow managed to hurt himself, perhaps while he jumped out of the car on a potty break.  He wailed and cried and didn't want Julia to leave him, was disoriented, wouldn't settle down, wouldn't eat and was clearly in a great deal of pain.  It scared all of us. 

Here are some pictures of Willie when he was so miserable:
His problem "appeared"  to be structural and Julia gave him some pain medication he'd been prescribed two weeks ago due to a different medical problem.  Even with the strong dose of medication, he continued to breathe very heavily, cry out, and clearly remain in pain.  So here was poor Willie, in great pain; a full day's drive from home; in a strange house; after being in the car all day; with two female samoyeds fussying over him; Tarka scared out of his wits at being surrounded by new humans and new dogs; on a Friday night; and we haven't lived here long enough to even know, first hand, the best place to take him.  The poor boy didn't even want to lay down to rest and it clearly hurt to move.  Everytime Julia would step more than 2 feet from him, he'd cry out pitifully as if he was a little boy trapped in a deep well who wanted his mom.  It was heartbreaking.

In the meantime, Tarka wouldn't make eye contact.  If he caught my eye, he'd race away.  He wouldn't get closer than about 10 feet, at first, and would leave the room, entirely, when Husband (the world's greatest dog lover) was in the room.  Eventually, probably because he saw the girls fussing over me and that I was being kind to Willie, he would stay closer to me.  Like maybe 9 feet.  But I was careful to make any sudden moves or reach in his direction. 

Tarka looks just like a white coyote!

When it became clear the medication wasn't doing the trick, we tracked down the name of a good veterinary hospital in the area.  We took the boys up there and they took good care of all of us.
Willie has an amazing long coat.  He looks like a lion.
The black spot on Tarka's ear looks just like a smudge of soot.  Notice how close he stays to Julia.  He completely trusts her. 
Tarka remained on high alert but behaved like an angel.   What ears!
Tarka was so rigid that he might as well have been a professional model allowing me to get good shots. 
When the doctor came in to examine Willie, he took him out in the hall to watch him walk. That left Tarka and I alone and he kept an eye on me but suddenly didn't seem to mind that I was in touching distance.  Any port in a storm, I suspect.   I could hear Julia and the doctor talking in the hall and the doctor diagnosed the problem as a pinched nerve.  They gave Willie a cortisone shot and pain medication for the next five days.  The shot went to work almost immediately and I can't tell you how relieved we all were that it wasn't anything life threatening. 

Willie slept through the night and woke up close to his old self. 
The following is Julia petting Willie with Pearl between them (of course).  Tarka is on the right and Evelyn is in front.  Look at Willie's smiling face!
Evelyn tried her best to make friends with Tarka. She is a sweet, low key, friendly girl.  When they weren't looking, she made periodic sweeps of their bedroom to snitch treats and toys.  She is known for that.
All the dogs love Julia.  The following is Evelyn making goo goo eyes at her, Tarka in the middle with Pearl to the right (they are close in size).  Like Pearl, Willie has a magnificent tail.  But he is so big, it makes hers look like a wisk broom in comparison.
Evelyn and Willie made friends.  She really likes him.  In the back, you can see that Tarka got comfortable and relaxed enough that he is laying on his back.
Willie carried his tail high and made up to my girls (Willie was intact until he was adopted by Julia and appeared to be quite the ladies' man).  Evelyn was quite taken with him.  He barked, merrily, to encourage whoever was petting him to continue, and confidently wandered around scoping the place out. 

It did my heart good to see Willie doing so well but a highpoint of the morning, for me, came when Tarka was willing to sit near me while we ate breakfast.  I offered him a piece of toast and he took it from my hand, maintaining eye contact.  I gave him several more pieces.  I didn't think it could get any better than that when on the last one, he looked at me and licked my finger before taking the toast.  I felt like I'd just been asked out on a date by the captain of the football team.  By noon when they left, he was even willing to stay in the vacinity of my husband.  I think he'd have allowed us to pet him in a day or two.  He fascinates me. 

Julia and the boys loaded up (Husband and I grinned to see Willie leap into the car) and took off for Kansas City to stay with another member of the Samoyed group.  It was such a pleasure to see them and I hope we meet again, someday.  They arrived at their Kansas City destination, safe and sound and the boys are both doing well.  I believe they are leaving for their home, tomorrow.

We've continued to have nice weather, although today was a big foggy.  Here are some more photos of my favorite view of the Oklahoma sunrise.
Look at these colors!  They are straight out of the camera with no touchups.
The girls have been relaxing after their big adventure with Willie and Tarka.
They were both good girls and I was very proud of them.
Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Miriam said...

I am very glad you went to the doctor and you now have medication that has you almost back to full health.
Great story about Tarka and Willie!

Jan said...

Marvelous post. Glad you're better.

Penny said...

Thanks, Ya'll!

JessicaSews said...

Keep getting well :)

What sweet pictures of the visit!
Looks like Evelyn and Pearl are dreaming about their day.

Those are gorgeous sunrise pictures!

BilboWaggins said...

Great post Penny, I read it with tears in my eyes. Julia is obviously an amazing person, sounds like Willie and Tarka could not be in better hands. Although, it does rather sound like you were a hit with Tarka.

Glad you've now got some meds which are helping you get better.

hugs from over the Pond.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about dogs. I'm amazed that everyone played together so nicely - no fights, no fur flying. The pictures of them together are amazing!

Thanks for sharing - and I'm glad you're feeling better.


Penny said...

Janet, they are nice dogs - one of the reasons I love Samoyeds. We have had large get togethers with 20 or more Samoyeds wandering around loose and don't recall there ever being a dog fight. Sometimes they will lift a lip in fear but that isn't agression. It is just to get space and the dogs tend to understand it. Plus, the members of this group are responsible owners so we don't see a lot of intact males running around arguing over females in heat. Dogs get along better off leash than on (where they feel trapped), anyway.

Shogun said...

So glad to hear the injury wasn't something much worse and that the vet took care of it! I am also very happy that you are doing much, much better.