Brandy, our wooly Shiba Inu
We rescued 16 year old Brandy on November 22, 2009, from the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington and subsequently adopted her from NYCSR. In April 2010, she was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away on May 17, 2010. We're so grateful to have been able to care for and love her during her final six months. We miss her very much..
This is a quick and dirty blog post, but I thought it would be easier to point everyone towards one post instead of writing and rewriting what’s going on into a bunch of different emails, postings, etc.
Despite her age (16 1/2), Brandy has been very bouncy and energetic on walks since we adopted her. She would even get excited and chase after Snickers or Secret when they’d run through the apartment. Her vet appointment in February was very positive; she was in relatively good health for her age! Over the past two to three weeks though, her energy level has been diminishing and it’s been difficult to get her to just walk around the block. A few days ago, she began accidentally pooping in the house (even in her sleep). By today she had pretty bad diarrhea.
We took her to the vet and she has a huge tumor inside her mouth. No wonder she isn’t feeling well! She was dehydrated as well, so they gave her some subcutaneous fluids. We have a twice daily antibiotic/anti-inflammatory for her plus a mild dewormer (just in case). They drew blood and I’m planning to take her back for x-rays tomorrow or the next day. We’ll decide what to do after all the results are back. If the tumor is cancerous or there is more than the one, there isn’t really anything we can do except treat her symptoms and make her comfy. If it isn’t cancerous – and her blood work indicates that it is safe to do so – we’ll give her steroids to try to shrink the tumor.
Either way, she’s a sick, old girl and we’re heartsick to be dealing with this so soon after having adopted her. We knew we wouldn’t have her for an incredibly long time, but we’ve fallen very much in love with her and we’re not ready to let her go. Most importantly though, we want her to be comfortable and know how dearly she is loved.
We tried to get some pictures of the three of them together after we got home from the vet today. It was tough because (1) Secret can’t do a sit stay to save her life and (2) Brandy was tired and droopy. Here’s the "at least we tried" series of resulting photos!
I haven’t written a real post for awhile. I’ve been focusing more on making time for “walkies and snuggling” with Snick when I’m not at work or working on the various projects (Shiba rescue, crazy Twitter projects, meetups, etc.) that he gets me involved in.
I still want this site to be a place to share great information, so I’ll be back to blogging soon. In the meantime, as a peace offering, here’s a quick list of what’s been keeping me so busy.
First, we have Brandy. Sweet old Brandy. I feel like I should blog about her more before she’s gone, but it’s hard. We only adopted her in November and we’re already worried that she’s going to be gone soon. She’s very old and frail. She trips over nothing when she walks. My daughter and I give her snuggles and short walks when she’s awake, but mostly all she does is sleep. Snickers was completely confused by (and mean to) her when she first arrived because she wanders around and bumps into him like he isn’t there (even when he’s warning her away). He’s learned to ignore her though. I’m incredibly proud of him.
The Shiba meetup group is going strong. We’re up to ten chapters (with over 400 members) in NY, CT and NJ. Snick and I try to make it to a meetup at least once a month.
NYC Shiba Rescue is still trying to recover from lack of volunteers and a bad economy. I do what I can to help my bestest friend Zennia (who is the Pres of NYCSR). If you’re not already on our mailing list and you want to be, let me know. I still have some volunteer positions to fill before we start normal operations again.
Snickers has a "classified top sekrit project" underway that I’ve been helping with the for past five or six weeks. That’s coming to fruition tomorrow. If you’re on Twitter, attend the #ATPawty tomorrow at 4pm EDT to find out what that’s about!
I’m building a website for Paw Pals & Performance Canine Association which should be up shortly. If you live in the NY/NJ area and are interested in lure coursing, stay tuned.
It looks like I’m probably headed to Blog Paws next weekend, which wasn’t expected or planned. The reason for that will be at least a little more clear after the #ATPawty tomorrow.
With all of this other stuff going on, I have had any time to work on Animals Who Educate. That’s where I’m headed though. I want to get my life to a point where ALL of my time that isn’t for work and family is for Snickers and Animals Who Educate.
I think that’s everything. 🙂 At least now you know why I haven’t been blogging lately!
And it isn’t me!
Brandy seems to be more attached to my daughter than to me, probably because they spend more time together and go on more walks together. Brandy’s crate has been in my room with me and Snick, but that means my daughter has had to wait for us to get up in the morning before going walking. She decided she wanted Brandy to move into her room (which is kind of a big deal because her room is not huge and Brandy’s crate is huge), so she rearranged her bedroom this weekend and Brandy moved.
Ms. Brandywine is a bit confused by this and keeps wandering into my room when she’s ready to take a nap. (She is 16 years old after all. Change is hard!) For now, we’re keeping my door closed and keeping an eye on her so we can redirect her. Hopefully she’ll get used to the change quickly.
Brandy went to the groomer on Tuesday. They brushed out all the loose undercoat, clipped her nails, gave her a bath, cut out the mats and trimmed her little butt feathers. She came back looking like a different dog. Here are a couple photos of her that night, while she was still wearing the little bandanna they put on her.
She’s easily walking three times as far on walks now as she was when she got here and she’s eating like a champ. Her little hunched back is straightening out and tonight she playbowed at me and then at Snickers right after I got home from work!!!
We’re starting to think her reported age of 16 may have been a lie on the part of the woman who brought to the shelter… maybe to help justify her request to have her euthanized? We’ll see. I want to give her a couple more weeks of good food and exercise before taking her to the vet.
One week ago today, my daughter and I added a third Shiba to our pack. Please welcome darling little Brandy (who we’ve affectionately started calling Ms. Brandywine, as it seems to really suit her).
Last Friday, I received an email about this little girl. She’s 16 years old and had been surrendered to a shelter in Connecticut. This is a good shelter in a nice area with a policy of only putting dogs to sleep “that suffer from medical or behavioral conditions that are beyond treatment and render the pet unable to be placed with a family.” Basically, she wasn’t in any immediate danger, but Shibas don’t tend to adjust well to shelters and the idea of a senior Shiba most likely living out her last days in a shelter was more than I could stand.
Brandy was at the shelter for about a month. The young woman who brought her in said that her owner had died. She’d had Brandy for about a week but "didn’t have time for her" and wanted her euthanized. The medical director at the shelter convinced the woman to sign her over as a surrender instead. Brandy’s teeth were in really bad shape, so the shelter removed most of them; she only has three left.
These are the photos that the shelter took for her kennel card. She looks like a little raggamuffin. Unfortunately, she looked even worse in person. 🙁
Early Sunday afternoon, I set off on the two hour drive to go get Brandy. When they brought her out to us at the shelter, we were delighted by the spring in her step but dismayed at her physical condition. She’d had diarrhea, some of which was still matted in her fur. She was severely underweight and her skin is horribly dry. As you can see, she’s a "wooly (long coated) Shiba" and she was a dirty, matted mess. She kept looking around and checking every person that walked by as if she was looking for someone in particular, which made us feel really sad for her.
Our friend Zennia came over, Furminator in hand, the night Brandy came home. She brushed a big bag full of fur off of her that night and we’ve Furminated her several times since then also. She’s looking better, but she has some mats that need professional attention and her TAIL is a disaster area. Here’s a photo of her a couple days after she came home. Her eyes are a little cloudy and her tongue pokes out the side of her mouth where she has no teeth. Pretty cute really.
Brandy only weighed 11.5 pounds when she got here. The shelter was feeding her Science Diet I/D which, in my personal opinion is G.R.O.S.S. stuff. I’ve just finished transitioning her to what Snickers and Secret eat and, between that and having plenty of water to drink, she’s put on a pound already! She eats really slowly (only three teeth, remember?) but she’s gone from barely eating to cleaning her bowl in the past week, so that’s a great improvement.
She’s already easily walking twice as far on walks as she could go on her first night here. She’s gaining stamina and building muscle tone!
She’s stopped looking for whoever she was looking for and she seems to be growing attached to my daughter. Snick and Secret mostly ignore her and let her do her own thing. Snickers has snarked at her a few times for getting in his face, but he’s getting better. He even tried to get her to play with him once recently.
Here’s a photo of her looking pretty content a couple days ago.
What the Future Holds
We know that adopting a 16 year old dog is essentially setting ourselves up for a near future heartbreak, but we knew that when we decided to go get her. It’s worth it to us. She’s very well trained – house trained, gentle, an excellent leash walker, pees at the curb, enjoys grooming – and it’s clear that someone loved this little dog very much. After a lifetime of providing companionship to someone, having her life turned upside down must have been very traumatic. She deserves the best we can do for her in whatever time we have her.
She has an appointment with the groomer in a couple days. (A Shiba at a groomers? I know. Weird.) I’ll post more photos then and updates as she gains weight, grows stronger and visits the vet.