Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sampson!

Today is Sam-the-Man's 7th birthday. Like I have said many times before, he has been with me through SO many changes and ups and downs in my life. Over this past year, I have really been concerned as to whether or not he would make it to this day. I am so thankful he did. People who don't have pets still continue to think I am crazy and ask me why or how I do it. I don't have an answer I can put into words...all I can say is that is long as we are able and he is still fighting, I don't think I have another choice. It's been a long, expensive journey but I am glad we have pulled through. I have no doubt that the journey ahead of us will hold many new challenges (I am speaking about him AND me) but I hope HE will be there to help pull ME through life's ups and downs for many more years to come. I am thankful for every happy, healthy day he gives us. I know today is a milestone we are celebrating. I hope the road ahead IS long, though I do hope it is at least relatively less expensive! Nothing makes me smile quite like the Sampson kidney bean dance. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The story of Daisy Duke

Oh, Daisy...where do I start? I love her--I really do, though sometimes people don't believe me. We got Daisy in June 2008 from the rescue organization where we got Angel. After we lost Angel, Sampson was devistated. (I never believed that an animal could get depressed until I saw what happened to him after she left us.) We decided to get another dog, wanted a puppy for our daughter to grow up with, and decided that the best way to honor Angel was to rescue another dog who needed love and a good home. We got our Daisy Duke! Daisy, who just turned 1, still has way more energy than any of us here...even the toddler! She is a beautiful boxer-mix and a wonderful addition to our family. Here is a little bit of her story from older blogs...

Rescuing Another Boxer with a Tail

June 11, 2009

Well, I am trying to turn the page after the loss of our Angel-girl. It is a much tougher road than I had even imagined! We have decided to adopt a puppy from the Boxer Rescue organization in Florida where we got Angel. (I volunteered there and they are working with us even over the miles.) We think the best way to honor her is to do it all over again. This time, we are helping a puppy! She is only half-boxer...but she does have a tail. Angel showed us just what Boxer-tails can do...and we like it. :o) This puppy was born in rescue--she is currently named Target, but we are going to name her Daisy. Her mother has a very sad story and I am thankful for BARC for saving her (as much as they could) and her pups. (Too see a picture of Target/Daisy and read about her mommy, check out . Her mommy was Miley.)

People still give me grief over my animals, but my skin is getting thicker to it. If you haven't read "Just a Dog" on my page, check it out! I am a better person for my love of animals...and am a stronger person because of my history (and future!) with Boxers. It must be in my blood--I have grandparents and great-grandparents that I have seen and heard stories about who where "those" people who just had a "way" with animals. Supposedly, one of my grandfathers could tame and ride a wild horse. My other grandfather was like Steve Carrell in Evan Almighty with animals--they flocked to him! (Seriously, when I was a little girl , my cat snuck to his house and jumped in his car when he was traveling out-of-town. She was so quiet for the ride, he didn't know until they were there.) But I digress...maybe I don't have that "way" with animals (I can't even tame a Boxer--which, in my defense is quite difficult) but I do have a love for them and they bring so much into my life.

In all of my sadness, there is an overwhelming feeling of happiness about what we did for Angel. So many people (including veterinarians) have been touched in one way or another by her gentle nature, her strength and her courage. Without us, she would not have had those opportunities. How does a dog who LITERALLY came from a crack house do that? Even after she entered rescue, people didn't want her. A family adopted her before we did and gave her back...yes, they gave that sweet dog back. But I am glad they did--she was meant to be OURS. One of Angel's doctors told us that she showed a strength even in the face of horrifying pain that many humans can not claim. One of the vet assistants that took care of her told us that she will never forget her smile. Yes, Angel had a smile. She was a great dog...she was a great being...and we are better people for having been close to her. She was amazing--and her spirit is still amazing.
Some kind words from her doctor, seeing Sampson light up around puppies, and knowing that we saved Angel's life and let her do what she needed to do here on earth are helping me to move on. I still have a long way to go, but I hope that time will help me through. In a couple of weeks, we will have another rescue dog in our midst. I am looking foward to it. She will not replace Angel. But I think rescuing another dog with no home to call her own will help us keep Angel's legacy alive. She taught us the joys and rewards that come from opening our hearts, homes, and minds to something a little different and challenging. She also taught us the joys of the Boxer tail!

Hopefully in the future, my blog (which, yes, is dedicated to our four-legged family members who make our lives whole) will be full of puppy funnies. I can't wait for Sampson to be a big brother--he has never really grown up himself. He has had a tough time without Angel. He lost his best friend, his sister, and his pack leader. But I think he, too, is ready to move on. He is gentle yet full of energy...I think a puppy is just what he needs. And HE is a better dog because of Angel. He used to be very selfish (if dogs can be selfish) but he LOVED to play with other dogs. We got Angel for him. (Little did we know how much she would do for us.) He used to sleep on an old couch in our bedroom. He was pretty territorial over his stuff. So, when we got Angel, we made a bed for her on the floor in our room because we did not want him to feel as if she was taking over his space. (Which she eventually did--and he happily let her do it.) The first night she was with us, he stayed on the couch. The second night, after the lights were out, we heard some noise...we turned the light on to see that he had gotten down on the floor and snuggled up with her. This is the dog who will not even sit on hard floors and taking a nap on the floor is out of the question...but he was going to do it for Angel. When we left them in boarding one week for a cruise, Sampson's face was raw--they said each night, he took the blankets in their kennel and made pillows for both him and Angel. He loved is alpha-dog and treated her like a queen. Though I know he misses her (he has showed his grief), he has a lot of love to give. Daisy is one lucky dog!

BARC out loud!

March 1, 2009

This is the YouTube channel for BARC...the organization where we got Daisy (and Angel, but it was known as something different then). Our little family is in the video "From the 'children' of BARC." :) The video "Boxer Aid and Rescue Coalition" is dedicated to Miley and others who did not make it--Miley was Daisy's mom. But if anyone questions WHY us animal lovers do what we do, it's because of how bad things can be if we don't--and the volunteers for BARC know this as well as anyone else. Bless all of the people who open their hearts and homes to those four-legged babies who need us!

The Toy Nazi, Jr.

April 7, 2009

When Sampson was a puppy, he LOVED his toys. He played with them, slept with them, traveled with them, etc. But when we got Angel, his love affair with toys came to an end not out of his own wishes, but because he had to. Angel was the original Toy Nazi. She was obsessed with toys--anyone who knew Angel knew she had a slight case of OCD. (And anyone who knows me very well knows I have a tendency to relate things in my life to Seinfeld episodes--and anyone who knows much about Seinfeld knows about The Soup Nazi...which is where this title has come from.) Anyway, Sampson had to give up toys pretty much all together because if he so much as looked at a toy, Angel took it from him. He would just sit there with his "duh face" and watch his sister run away with his old (and new) toys. The only time while Angel was in our lives that he got a toy to himself, it was a 99cent green ball from Petsmart that he ended up eating and it cost us about $1000 to have it surgically removed, but I digress.

Daisy is a very different dog than Angel--she has never been abused and she is not scared of storms. Yet, she has some similarities with Angel that are a bit erie. She came from BARC and she LOVES her toys. We didn't think a dog on earth existed that could tear toys apart quicker and more violently than Angel--but then we found Daisy. It only takes her a little bit of time to chew a black (supposedly indestructible) Kong into pieces and a matter of minutes to devour a rope. But most importantly, Sampson can have NO toys...none...period.

I love when Sampson has his good days where he wants to play--LOVE it! It reminds me of my puppy Sam-dog and even my adult Sam the Man without all of his pain and sufferring. This morning was one of those times; he wanted to play with a toy SO bad. He kept trying and trying to sneak one past Daisy and I swear he was trying to get my help. We tried and tried. I attempted to distract her with another toy or give Sampson a toy out of her sight, but Daisy came out ahead every time. I couldn't hold her back and we couldn't sneak anything by her. And in Soup Nazi/Toy Nazi form, I imagine Daisy saying to Sampson "No toys for you!" every time he even tries and no matter how great his efforts. So my old man has given up on trying for a toy for the moment. He's in his chair staring out the window looking depressed. Maybe I will throw Daisy outside for a little bit and play a little fetch with the Sam-Dog...he'll tire out soon, I'm sure, and we can bring Daisy back in before she knows what's going on. Sometimes, I think he likes the interventions so I am not sure if he would even try to play without her presence. So for now, I will sit here and be entertained by my four-legged children. :) Sorry, Sam, NO TOYS FOR YOU! :)


January 22, 2009

I found this in something I picked up at the vet's office and wanted to share...

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.I would promise to always be by her side.I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

The story of Angel

Angel came to us from a rescue organization in Florida in September 2003. She was the perfect big/little sister for Sampson and a wonderful addition to her family. We had to say our final goodbyes to her in May of 2008. It was a hard day for us all, but we are left with lots of funny and heartwarming stories and wonderful memories. She showed us what it means to survive! Below is her story through an archive of old blog posts...

SERIOUSLY...I did that for my dog (and I am glad!)

January 14, 2008

I have been getting a lot of strange looks, comments, etc. these days. So, I figured I would try this new-age-blogging-thing (ha, ha) to send a message to anyone who's curious.

As most of my friends know, my dogs have health problems--serious health problems. Just the quick run-down--Sampson has had a sensitive stomach since the day I brought him home (yeah, he puked in the car that day). Yes, some of his most expenisve problems were when he ate a 99 cent ball from PetSmart and we had to have a specialist do emergency surgery to remove it. His problems have somehow developed into a major problem with his pancreas. He has had pancreatitis 3 times (that we know of) since November. The doctors aren't sure what's wrong, but say as long as he responds to treatment, that's the route to keep your fingers crossed that keeps bringing good results.

Angel, on the other hand, has had some even bigger issues. She, too, has had a sensitive tummy...but that is the least of her problems. We got her from a rescue organization and her "previous life" she was tied up to a tree outside of a crack house, which brought a multitude of problems. But she survived that and some additional health problems that followed. In 2004 she had malignant melanoma removed from her mouth twice--the second time getting clear margins (a good thing because it means they got the whole tumor). I was made painfully aware about the grim statistics for THAT type of cancer in THAT part of the body. They say many dogs don't live more than 6 months and as much as 99% of them are dead within 2 years. Well, you can do the math--she made it past the odds.

On December 20th of last year, we had a biopsy done for a tumor on her neck. The day after Christmas we got the news that Angel had cancer AGAIN. And this time it was a very rare form and the odds were, yet again, stacked against her. To make this long story somewhat shorter, after a lot of phone calls and tears and a trip to Florida, Angel had surgery on January 3rd to remove her right salivary gland. The surgery was successful and, again, the margins were clear. This is very bitter-sweet (to say the least) "good news." Why? Chest x-rays are standard before surgery for a fast-spreading cancer in dogs. When we had those done on January 2nd, the doctor gave us a good report. But the next day, when the radiologist read the results, she saw what she thinks could be early lung cancer--of which dogs rarely survive many more months after diagnosis. We went ahead with the surgery on the chance that it is something benign in her lungs. She has come through the surgery with flying colors--and I mean FLYING. We have not been able to keep her calm. She is back to her old self again. She and Sampson even in the midst of their illnesses are the same "puppies" we know and love.

So, why am I writing this...and why is the subject LIFE instead of PETS???I am learning a lot through this experience. First of all, I am indirectly facing my biggest fear ever (cancer). Also, I am learning a lot about priorities and myself. I am so tired of hearing "it's just a dog." I am also tired of people thinking I am crazy for spending all of this time and money saving a dog that may only have a few more years of "normal" life-span even if nothing was wrong--and possibly only a few months with another illness. I am crazy--but for other reasons. :o) My pets are a part of my life--of my family. Regardless of whether either of my dogs live another day or another decade, they teach me something new just about every day. I see strength in these animals that we could all learn from. Angel has beaten the odds too many times to count. Sampson can find something exciting (or just go to sleep) in just about any situation. They teach Kaitlyn things. Because of these dogs, my daughter loves animals and she does not fear them.

Do these dogs know something we don't? I have long contended that animals are smarter than us. As a sociologist, sometimes I think maybe it is because they are just themselves without the constraints of society. Maybe they don't fight their instincts like humans sometimes do. I have also always agreed with the bumper sticker "The more people I meet, the more I like my dog." These dogs are SO MUCH more than "just dogs"...they are my friends. Think I am a crazy old lady if you want. But how many people (other than pet owners) can say that they always have someone to listen, always have someone who loves them unconditionally (even if you get mad at them for something stupid), and who always has someone greet them when they get home like it is the most exciting thing that could ever happen? I venture to say, human nature does not always allow for this type of unconditional love...or forgiveness. Of course, I love my family and friends and would be nowhere without them...but where would I be without those floppy ears in the middle of a rough night without my husband? How could I have made it through morning sickness without the comfort of a four-legged mother? Who would have gotten me through move after move with the consistency of and laughter from kidney bean dancing?

So, I guess I should end this because I could go on forever. I do owe a lot to my dogs--and it is worth every penny and every mile to give them every happy, pain-free day they have in them. To explain my final comment (and the song on my profile--Bad Boys theme song), when we first got her, Angel used to shake her boxer tail and go crazy for that certain theme-song. In closing, I will just say "Angel-girl, this song's for you...shake your tail-feathers, bitches!"

Doggy Heaven is Brighter Today

May 31, 2008

Today was Angel's day to go. She had developed a horrible disease in her spine. We did not think she would make it through last week, but the doctors helped us to give her a few more happy days where she was our Angel-girl. Over the last day she lost all feeling in the lower half of her body. It was time.

I am crushed and I miss her more than words can say. She taught us what it means to truly rescue a dog and she brought us many happy years. Even though I miss her now, I picture her running and jumping again pain-free--wagging her boxer tail. She was so full of life until the end. She brightened so many days for us and others. I feel guilty for every time I got frustrated with her, but I think she forgave me for being human. Even though it has been a long, tough journey, I still cannot believe she is gone. But I am thankful that we found each other and I am grateful for every day she gave us.

Thanks to everyone who reads my crazy animal blogs. Maybe I am already a crazy old lady, but Angel and Sampson are members of our family. Thanks for your love and support. We know we did everything that we could. She knew she was loved. Doggy heaven is a little brighter today.

When it Storms

July 5, 2008

Since September 20, 2003, storms have had a new meaning in our home. That was the day we adopted Angel...and her storm phobia. I had never seen anything like it--and it got worse as she aged. She would get SO nervous and shake; her heart would race and she would breathe so fast and heavy I thought she would pass out. She had "calm down pills" that helped some--especialy earlier on--but barely phased her near the end of her life. Sampson, on the other hand, could sleep through it all. In the early years, he would notice her nervous fits, but as time passed, they became normal to him. But everyone that knew us, knew of Angel's problems. When we lived in the Real Jacksonville where it stormed, oh, about every afternoon in the summer and still occasionally all year long, even our closest friends helped us out. I remember being out during terrible storms and our neighbors/closest friends calling to see if they needed to check on her--they knew us so well.

When Angel was here, I always remember thinking how nice it would be not to have a dog who was so scared. I always felt sorry for her--I am sure her fear came from early on in her life before the boxer rescue found her when she was tied to a tree...even through those terrible Florida storms. So even though I pitied her, I selfishly wished I didn't have to deal with it. Now she is gone, and what I wouldn't give to be popping calm down pills down her throat when I hear thunder and trying (always unsuccessfully) to calm her down.

It is storming now...Sampson is passed out in the living room and Daisy is sleeping in her crate. (Her crate, by the way, is Angel's.) It's quiet and calm but I can't help but take a break to feel sad that Angel is not here. Even though we never calmed her down totally, I think that she knew we would keep her safe. And we did.

I miss her so much, but I am thankful for Sampson and Daisy...and, as always, Angel has taught me a lesson. Sometimes blessings come in strange packages. I hesitate to think I will ever sit through a storm without my mind on Angel--and I will work harder to cherish every situation with those I love (four-legged and two), not knowing what they might teach me or how I might miss what I think are hard times later down the road.

In the meantime, I will get back to my cleaning--even though just about every spot on our floor has already been cleaned in the past week. Daisy is not quite house trained yet. :o) Luckily for me, I have a two-year-old who tattles quickly so I can clean it before it gets out of hand. Oh, and Sampson is a pro at his new big brother role. We always joke that Angel is looking down on us and making fun of our decision to bring a puppy into our home. And I admit, I always feel like I am on some silly reality tv show. I know I look ridiculous most of the time. My house is a total zoo now, but I enjoy it and so does K--and Sampson does, too--most of the time...more funny doggy stories to come....

For now, I will use the sound of thunder as a constant reminder of our four-legged Angel watching over us, probably laughing her boxer tail off. :o)
Adapting and Overcoming From If Dogs Wore Braces...
November 13, 2008
My dogs have been the masters of adapting and overcoming! When Angel had her surgery in January, they were concerned that they would severely damage some facial nerves. It was not nearly as bad as they thought--the surgeon located the "main" one and didn't touch it--but there was some temporary damage. Her face did droop on the right side and she could not control the muscles on that side of her mouth for a while. Within TWO days, she had learned to press the right side of her mouth against the bowl when she drank to be able to keep the water in her mouth and not make a mess. She would get food stuck in her flappy-jaws (as we call them) at first, but within a week, she had learned to chew on the other side of her mouth or something because her face was still droopy, but her flappy jaws stayed clean. Don't ever underestimate the abilities of our canine friends! I mean, one ever explained to her how to do that; she just did it on her own.

The story of Sampson

I got my Sam-dog over Memorial Day weekend in 2002. He has seen me through so many changes in my life--moves over 5 states, marriage, pregnancy and a child, two other dogs, and all of the highs and lows of the roads in between. Unfortunately, he has been less than blessed with some tummy troubles. Through all of our trials and tribulations, I find out more about life and myself. Below is an archive of older blogs about his journey...

March 11, 2008

Well, we're at it again...keeping vets in business. I feel it's only fair that since I devoted a blog to Angel, Samspon deserves the same. (Angel, by the way, seems to be on the mend. She is overly anxious sometimes, but I think that just goes with living in our crazy home.) Anyway, Samspon is on his 5th (I think...I have lost count) round of severe pancreatitis since November. He ended up at the emergency vet this weekend with severe pain and what has become our "routine" diagnosis. Each time, they tell me it could be fatal because some of his blood levels are so high--off the charts, literally. But he must be a rare case because every vet who has treated him has told me so. He has survived numerous times (as has Angel) what many dogs don't even survive once. And he bounces back very quickly.

Tomorrow he goes in for a host of (expensive) blood tests and an ultrasound. Most likely he will be having surgery soon after that. Again, some people question whether or not this is worth it. And, maybe I am crazy, but I still don't question it at all. If it was something that couldn't be treated, I would make the necessary decisions. But if it is treatable, don't my dogs deserve a chance to live? And feel good? I think so.

I do tend to lose my sanity over this lately--especially the costs. But I just think that this is what needs to be done. One day in the vets office, I was literally in tears--but only while the vet was out of the room. I guess she could tell when she came in. You can imagine how ridiculous I must look trying to keep a dog under control while taking care of a toddler and trying to hold back the sobs. Sanity definately leaves me quickly. :o) Anyway, on this particular day, the vet said "You know you're a saint?" I told her thanks. She then said "And you're stronger than you think." I told her sometimes it doesn't feel like it. She smiled and told me that I am a strong person. I guess I can trust her judgment since she sees me so often. :o)

While I don't think I am going on the list for sainthood--ever--her words made me look a little deeper into myself. It seems to be a trend that my dogs have a way of helping me reflect on my own life--and humanity in general. I am trying to reframe my perspective on lots of things in my life and these types of situations help me see how to do it. Maybe instead of feeling upset that somehow I got the two sickest boxers on the planet I should feel happy and lucky--yes, I said lucky. I seriously doubt that many people would do (or could do) what we have done for our furry family members. I try to believe everything happens for a reason--and maybe these dogs ended up in our home not just by chance. We have saved their lives--more than once. And I do gain strength in myself through them. They do challenge me (and my sanity) but they always reward me. I didn't know when I brought Samspon home in the palm of my hand that our journey would turn out this way. But he has seen me through every twist and turn of my life since he entered it...and I owe it to him to see him through every battle of his life--and help him overcome what can be overcome.

I won't go as far as to compare my dogs to my daughter, but I will say that there are many similarities. They teach me something new every day. And I will say that having them benefits my daughter's life as much as mine. She learns from them, too and she loves them. I feel like sometimes BECAUSE of the stress and challenges we go through with the dogs, it makes me a stonger person. And being a stronger person means being a stronger mother for her. I don't know if anyone can see the similarities and the positives, but I do.

So to try and cut this blog before it turns into an emotional thesis, I will just say I am hoping for the best with Sampson. I am hoping for many more happy years with both of my dogs--but mostly I hope every day they have is happy and healthy and I will do what I need to do to try and make sure that happens.

A Bandage Snack and a Severed Arm
April 28, 2008

If anyone is interested in an update on my dogs, here you go...
Our weekend was filled with vet visits (again). They have each experienced multiple bouts of pancreatits since I last blogged. Sampson has fielded the brunt of it. He did go about a month without a big problem, but he has had to have IV fluids and meds about 8 days in the past 2 weeks. We are awaiting results from a new blood test from NC State for both of them--we still have 4 weeks to wait. Sampson is most likely going to have to have exploratory surgery soon to take a closer look and get biopsys of, well, just about everything in his belly. We are really, REALLY hoping Angel continues to do relatively well--we are not sure that we want to put her through any more procedures (other than the latest--see below) since she has been through so much and has multiple health problems. She is such a fighter.

So why the subject, you may ask? Well, both dogs spent the weekend with IV catheters in their arms as they had to have IV meds and fluids Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They kept them in over the weekend to make sure they could successfully eat and drink again before they removed them. On the way home from the vet on Friday, Sampson (who hadn't eaten in about 3 days) ATE the bandage covering the IV cath. Yes--a traumatic discovery for us, but it passed. (Literally, last night in his poop.) He does have a history of eating things that he shouldn't (reference: 2003ish when he ate a toy and we had to have emergency surgery to remove it) but it has been so long--and he has had these IV caths and bandages countless times since November but he has never done that.

Today when I went to have the IV caths removed, the vet tech accidently cut Angel's arm when she was removing the bandage holding it on. So now Angel has 2 staples in her arm...poor thing. These dogs just can't catch a break. And I feel horrible for the vet tech--she was about in tears. I told her it was okay, but she was feeling so bad. She said Angel didn't even move, it was just an accident. (They always tell me what a good patient she is--Sampson has his good and bad patient days.) They called their regular doctor out of surgery and they cleaned and shaved her arm, gave her a surgical prep, and put the staples in. The bandage can come off tomorrow and the staples can come out in 7-10 days. (We do not have to pay for any of this.) :o)

Well, maybe I am wrong...maybe these dogs CAN catch a break. Somehow, they found US. A family crazy enough to see them through ALL of their ups and many downs. The vet tells us it's not their time yet and that we should still keep fighting. Is it still worth it? Without a doubt, yes!

If this is my calling, I'm out of the office today
July 16, 2008

Last week at the vet's office, our veterinarian told me that it just might be my calling to take care of animals--even the ones no one else would take care of. She tells me this as Sampson is dealing with another bout of pancreatitis. Poor guy!

Everyone knows that I am crazy about dogs, but not everyone knows that I also have a cat--well, as of today HAD a cat. She has lived with my parents all these years. I got her in 7th grade--her name is Ruffles. She was about 18 years old. I got her from the local SPCA the day after another one of my cats died. She has been a furry member of our family since December 19, 1991. (Yes, I am OCD with pet-dates.) I won't go into too many details about her life--because that's a lot of stuff since we go so far back. :o) But she has been very, very sick lately and today was her day to cross the rainbow bridge. I will miss her--but I said my goodbyes when we were home last month because I was pretty sure I wouldn't see her again. But we gave her a good life, too. She was Sampson's first big sister--yeah, she beat him up and he has always feared her. When I brought him home in the palm of my hand, she was a giant compared to him. I don't think he ever realized that he grew and she stayed the same size...or maybe it was just the claws he remembered. Either way, she was a special member of our family and a big part of my life for many, many years and I will miss her--but I am happy to know she is not sufferring any more.

Well, back to Sampson...they did x-rays today because he is not bouncing back this time like he normally does. It turns out that he has spondylosis--basically, a type of arthritis in his spine. That is what took Angel. And they found it the exact same way. She had a terrible bout of pancreatitis and they did x-rays to look at her, and found it by "accident." The doctor told me that it is not nearly as severe as Angel's, but it is in multiple places and it might be what is causing him additional pain this time around. She seemed hopeful that we could manage it...but there is no cure.

Anyway, maybe it is my calling to rescue and care for all of these four-legged creatures...and I am definately crazy enough for the job and I do believe that it is worth it. But today, if it is my calling, let this serve as my out of the office reply for the afternoon. Can someone pass the vodka? :o)

Adapting and Overcoming From If Dogs Wore Braces
November 13, 2008

And Sampson, oh my, how he has had to adapt and overcome. The poor guy can't have table scraps--a dog that can't eat table scraps! His tummy has given him problems since the very beginning. But he learned to deal with it. As a puppy, one time my dad dropped a chili dog and it bounced off of his neck and he caught it in his mouth. Little Sam-dog sat there with a chili dog in his mouth drooling like a waterfall, but he didn't even bite down. My dad removed the hot dog and threw it in the trash. Sampson just sat there...and he had a mustard and chili stain on the white part of his neck until his next bath, poor guy.

Whoever said money can't buy happiness never had a dog like Sampson
January 22, 2009

Well, Sampson has had yet another one of his “episodes.” I knew I was jinxing myself when I had been talking about how well he has been doing lately. (It had been 5 months since he was last sick…a record in the past year and a half!) We found ourselves at the vet ER last night and at his specialist in Wilmington today. I do think that I am getting better at spotting the early signs (not to toot my own dog-crazy horn or anything) because he was not nearly as bad symptomatically as he can get and the tests indicated that. To make a long story short about this bout of whatever he has, they still don’t know what is causing it, but they are leaning more toward general GI problems instead of “true” pancreatits. No, I don’t really know what I’m talking about medically, but I hope this is good news.So we spent another $600+…there goes the big flat screen tv I have been wanting so I can see my Wii games better. But I have something better than a big tv—or even a tv from this decade! I have an amazing companion. Even when he is sick, he still brings me so much happiness. With Buzz deployed, he is the man of the house. He even puts up with Daisy better than us humans! And even when he is sick, somehow he can manage to give me a little kidney bean dance and an occasional sloppy kiss. I can see in his eyes that he is still in there, fighting for all of us. (Though I fear the day I see the look in his eyes that I saw in Angel’s telling me she was ready to go. I hope that time is in the far distant future.) Having Daisy around threatens the complete loss of my sanity on a daily basis. However, she is bringing out something that I hadn’t seen in a while…Baby Sam Dog. She has helped to give us a little bit of Samspon’s puppyhood back! Now some days I wonder if this is a good thing. I mean, after all, he was supposed to rub his good manners off on her, but instead she has helped him to forget pretty much everything he has learned over the past 6 ½ years. Oh well. At least there is entertainment value—if not for me than for my neighbors seeing me running around outside in my pjs in the snow trying to get things under control. (And I saw Marley and Me last weekend…it has given me some hope for Daisy.) As usual, I am not really sure what my point is, or even if I have a point at all. Other than to let everyone who thinks I am crazy know that, yes, I am in fact crazy. I spend an insane amount of money on my pets and my dogs are a part of my family—even Daisy. But all of that money has gone toward something more valuable than interest earned in a bank or a bigger tv so I don’t have to sit two feet away while trying to not get booed off the stage in Guitar Hero…it has given me my Sam-Dog, my Angel-girl, and (gulp) my Daisy Duke. Those who don’t understand may have more money in the bank, but I bet they don’t get the warm and fuzzies for boxer booty dancing. I always have someone to cuddle with, a shoulder to cry on, and someone who can make me feel better without saying a word. Just when I think it’s impossible to feel any more alone in this world, I always have a little tail shaking my way letting me know otherwise.

Only Sampson...
February 6, 2009

Here’s another (short version) Sampson update for anyone who is interested:

Sam Dog spent another day at the vet—after a night at the ER. He got really sick last night and we landed at the emergency vet at about 2 am. He never was able to go to sleep because he was so uncomfortable. This morning, he would have nothing to do with me—or pretty much anyone. The vet even brought up the topic of euthanasia. He is doing somewhat better this evening. He got some steroids and some pain meds—last night he had some anti-nausea meds and will get more tomorrow. He has been fasting since Wednesday—we are hoping that giving his entire system a rest will help him feel better, but that makes him weak. Today he got some extra vitamins and sugar in his IV fluids. He is starving (I think that’s a good sign) so if we make it through the night with no problems, he will start a hypoallergenic diet tomorrow. We are re-questioning the inflammatory bowel disease issue. He will probably be having some exploratory surgery in the next few weeks and hopefully that will give us a definitive answer…and hopefully he will have an easily treatable/manageable condition that will allow us to have at least a few more years together. Please keep us in your thoughts (and if you believe in praying for a dog and his family) and prayers.

In all of this tough stuff, Sampson still manages to bring some crazy Sam the Man into the mix and make us all laugh. He gets a little obsessive-compulsive about his IV catheter. (It doesn’t help that the tape they use to cover it gives him a rash—it’s got to itch under there!) They have to have a vet tech with him like ALL the time he is there. When they try to put him in a crate while he is getting his IVs, he tries to pull out the IV and cath. However, they have found out that if he has his own room (like an entire room) he is okay with it all. So, today, my dog got his own room…they transformed the pre-op room into Sampson’s very own suite. Seriously, only Sam! That’s my boy! But that gives me hope that he is still himself and he is fighting to make it out of this—I mean, if he’s being that selfish he can’t be losing all hope, right? I am very, very worried, but am trying to stay hopeful. I hope our future will hold some more healthy, pain-free years with my kidney-bean dancing, nub-tail wagging, crazy jumping, excellent cuddling, silly talking, private room stealing boxer boy.

Let's be serious...and calculate the situation
February 10, 2009

Sampson is doing better and I hope he continues to do so and I hope it lasts. As we were making plans for Sampson’s treatment for the upcoming weeks, I asked his veterinarian if she thought I was crazy (since I am usually a person who calculates every cost and tries to act rationally). She said absolutely not. She said Sampson is a very rare and serious case and my dedication is inspiring. I also found out that some of the employees at the vet’s office (of whom I pay their salaries, mind you) have asked if I was making this up or causing it. (Sam’s doctor did strongly defend me, thank goodness.) But I got to thinking after that conversation, is this really THAT crazy? I don’t think so. On the surface, there are two parts to this equation (1) pets and (2) spending a lot of money. But when you dig deeper, there are two more parts (3) saving a life and (4) doing things to make yourself feel better. Let me explain…

1. People do some crazy things for their pets, but if you are an animal-lover, most of them are really not that crazy. People dress their pets, have birthday parties (with cakes and decor) for them, make MySpace pages for their pets, put them in little bags and take them out on the town, and anthropomorphize their pets in all kinds of ways. They are members of our family and we treat them as such.
2. People spend a lot of money on a lot of things. We are a society of spenders and money talks in our world. We buy houses and cars (generally on credit). We have to have the nicest clothes and the most expensive jewelry. People can get a little crazy with the money (or credit) they have, too. Anyone who has driven around Jacksonville has seen something like a PFC sticker on a Mercedes (yes, seriously). People spend a lot of money on their pets, too.
3. (1 + 2 = 3, by the way—you know how I like numbers) Lots of people who have had a pet have found themselves in a situation where they have a big vet bill that they don’t want to pay or can’t afford—and do it anyway. Animals are living beings—and they do become members of our families. Saving a dog won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one dog. I have very close friends who have gone to great lengths to save their four-legged best friends. I have met people along the way who have done the same. There was a lady who had a boxer with a rare condition who spent tens of thousands to save her dog from a rare condition that eventually took its life, for example. When we took Angel to Florida for her surgery last year, I met a couple who was putting their dog through chemotherapy. There is a lady I see at the vet every morning who is bringing her cat who is going through renal failure in for treatment (we have become buddies). Watch the Animal Planet sometime (it’s on the vet’s office, that’s how I know this) and see what people do for WILD animals—who are not even family pets! It is not that out of the ordinary for people to go to great lengths to save the lives of animals.
4. There are some theories out there that say no matter what someone is doing, they are always acting out of selfishness or self-interest. Some of these theories go so far to say that no one does anything for selfless reasons—that even Mother Theresa was truly acting selfish because her seemingly selfless acts made HER feel better about herself. Now, I don’t believe in that! There are people out there (like my mother) who do lots of things purely for the good of others without thinking of themselves. However, we all do things to make ourselves feel better. I eat an insane amount of chocolate and ice cream when Buzz is deployed, for example. We buy those fancy cars and nice clothes because it makes us feel better. Well, doing what I do for my animals makes me feel better—I need them, especially now. And, maybe more importantly, K needs them—“Sam-man” is quite possibly her best friend.

So basically, there is a host of psychological and social factors at work in my situation—none of which are that outlandish when you stop to think about them. I am not doing things that other people don’t do—I just may do in an unconventional way because those are the cards I have been dealt. I mean, I doubt many people have had two dogs like Sampson and Angel with so many issues. (I mean, ishas, if Katie is reading this.) But I don’t spend money on frivolous things (well, except for Wii). Come to my house and check out my tvs or go shopping with me to see how I spend money if you don’t believe me. Or, better yet, ask Buzz to take you for a spin in his phat ride when he gets home—but don’t sit in the back seat because the back doors of the ’91 Honda Civic only open about 80% of the time. J My point is that people spend money on what they think is important and people do a lot of things for their pets. It just so happens that I have to combine those two things—and I don’t think that anything I could have bought over these past few years could bring me as much joy as my boxers.

From It takes both the rain and the sunshine to make a rainbow
February 20, 2009

I'm usually a glass half empty type of person. My friend says that she wants to know what happened to the glass--what was it before it was half anything? Great point! Well, over the past week I have had some ups and downs and for a few days was pretty sure that my glass had fallen and broken and I was wondering if it could ever have anything in it again....

Sampson, oh Sampson...Sampson had exploratory surgery last week and we got the results back from his biopsies this week. He has inflammatory bowel disease. This is relatively good news! (There were no abnormal findings from his pancreas. YAY!) Inflammatory bowel disease is pretty serious and it may take some time (yes, more trials) to figure out what works for the Sam-dog. But his doctor says that IBD can be managed. They say that it is likely that he will still have flare ups but our goal is to make them few and far between. I know it's still a long road, but at least we have a diagnosis so we can move forward. I still feel bad that it took us so long and that he has had to endure so much suffering.

Anyway, he had a very tough time after the surgery--poor guy has about a foot-long incision on his belly with lots of staples. He was on 14 pills a day for a while, too, but we are down to 4 now. He was having trouble sleeping and wasn't eating or drinking so we had to be at the vet for a few more days. Daisy has struggled without a playmate, but I have been pretty proud of how well she has handled herself. Sampson still has a ways to go, but I am finally seeing my Sam-dog reappear. I hope this is only the beginning of his recovery and he will be our kidney bean dancing fool for years to come. I'm not giving up on him--he hasn't given up on us, thank goodness!

As usual, no real point here...just rambling about my life and mostly my dogs. I guess what I am saying (hence the subject of this mess of words) is that it takes the tough times to get us where we need to be sometimes. It's the long, lonely days and nights of deployments that make the boring times together amazing. It's the busy days where I want to pull my hair out that make me cherish watching Cars or building with Legos--even if the house is a mess. It's (unfortunately) the pain and sadness of all that we have been through with Sampson that makes this diagnosis give me hope. It's that fear of breaking down in the Commissary that makes my veterinarian office breakdown seem not quite so embarrassing. :) It's hanging out with friends after (or even during) a tough day/week/month/deployment that reminds me that I am truly blessed. I hope my glass is gluing itself back together and it fills up again--maybe with a cocktail??? :) I know we will have spills along the way, but as long as we pick ouselves up and are able to move forward together, maybe it's not ALL bad. I hate the tough times for all of us, but whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger--just ask Sam!


Deployment is one of the toughtest things military families go through. Through my personal sociological research, I have focused on well-being issues of military families, particularly military wives. A fellow researcher and I had planned on writing a book to tell the stories of military wives through deployments. Well, publishers weren't very interested and now I am on the journey to complete my education with a PhD so I don't have nearly as much time or energy left for the pursuit at the current time. However, I still have a blog up and running for people to connect and tell their stories of deployment.... .

Getting Started

Hello! Welcome to MommyPaws! :) The name of this blog came from two of the most important things in my child and my animals. Over the past few years of being a mother (and a lifetime of being a pet owner) I have come to realize that children and animals bring out the best in us all. I have been blogging on MySpace about my dogs and on WordPress about my experiences as a military wife. I have decided to branch out a little bit. I am linking to my Deployment blog and transferring my older blogs on my family here as I try to consolidate a little bit. I hope others can connect with me on these adventures.