When Mom and Dad first brought Sarge to my house (yes, MY house), he was just as much of a pain as every other dog they brought home. I don’t understand why every new dog has to come into my territory and try to tell me that it’s theirs now. It’s not. I am in charge and that is the way it will always be. Sarge tried to show me he wanted to stay by climbing on top of me. I’d have to bark and growl at him to tell him to stop, but he’d still do it! Sometimes, I think he’s just not very smart. Mom and Dad had to help tell him to leave me alone, and THEN he finally listened. He’s such a suck up! But since then, he’s slowly been growing on me. He’s pretty old, and way more slow than the other dogs that stayed here, so he doesn’t bother me as much. He does take my toys right out of my mouth sometimes, which REALLY annoys me, but then he gets in trouble by Mom and Dad (see, he’s not always a saint!). He also is kind of clumsy and knocks things over. Oh, and the WORST thing about him is his tail! I mean, it’s always wagging and he can’t tell how close he is to me so it hits me right in the face. Can you believe it? No respect.
The other day Mom and Dad left with him early in the morning and came back home without him. At first, I was pretty happy; I never get the house to myself! But then I saw that Mom and Dad were sad and worried so I knew something was different. When Sarge came back and he had that funny contraption on his head, I understood. Sarge didn’t feel well.
Although I can’t say I love sharing my toys with him, I do think he has been the least annoying sibling to share my house with. And, since he’s been here they haven’t brought home any other fosters. So, I figured I should be nice to him when he’s not feeling good so that they’ll see that I like him a little.
In the spirit of the how-lidays, or whatever it is that make Mom and Dad put up all the lights and put funny smelling boxes under the inside-the-house-tree, I have been trying to make Sarge feel better by snuggling with him. I have realized that he makes a pretty good pillow, and he seems to not mind when I get close to him. I DO appreciate that he doesn’t try to snuggle with me too much; I snuggle on my terms only.
It seems as though the old guy is staying around for a while, and although I will make sure he still knows I am in charge, I guess it’s ok with me.
It’s probably the worst word you could hear starting with the letter ‘c’. Think about it, most ‘c’ words are happy ones: candy, cookies, cupcakes, cuddles, coffee, Christmas.
But this ‘c’ word is no good. People dread hearing it, and if you do, it changes your life.
It affects millions of people, and millions of dogs. According to the National Canine Cancer Society, one out of every three dogs will be diagnosed with canine cancer, and of those, half will die from it. It’s pretty scary to think about. And, it’s even scarier now that Sarge is one of them.
Last week I noticed a growth on the inside of his back leg had gotten much larger. He is a pretty lumpy guy in general, he’s old and has lots of skin tags and bumps. But, this one just didn’t seem like the others. After a needle aspiration and a look under a miscroscope, the vet determined it was a mast cell tumor.
Mast cell tumors are the most common skin tumor found in dogs. Older dogs of mixed breeds (like Sarge) have a high susceptibility for the disease. There are three grades of the tumors, based on how aggressive they are. I declined to have Sarge’s tested right away, because our course of treatment would not be any different based on its grade. Bubba boy is too old to be put through chemo or radiation therapy. The tumor will be removed on Thursday, and after that we will find out what stage it is and whether it has spread to other parts of his body.
The Mr. and I are dreading this surgery so much that it hurts. Although he shows no sign of any pain, lameness in his leg, or anything but pure happiness, it is sad to look at him and think our time together could be coming to an end. We knew when we decided to keep Sarge that eventually something like this was probably going to happen. We promised him that we would give him everything he could possibly need or want to live a fantastic life until then. But really, I didn’t think it would happen this soon. It’s only been 8 months since we walked out of the shelter together and only 5 since he was officially our Bubba Boy. His high level of activity, happy spirit and eagerness to please just led me to believe he’d be around forever. I made Nola promise me that she’d be the first dog to live forever, so I was hoping that Sarge would be the second.
While I have a tendency to think the worst, and know that things will probably be fine, it’s still so heartbreaking. You never know how a dog will react to anesthesia, and what his recovery will be like. We will do our best to give him everything he needs to come out of it ok and in as little pain as possible. We just have to hope that his 14 year old body is strong enough to fight along with us.
One of the first purchases I made for Sarge when he joined the M&M&NK household permanently was a jacket and a Sirius Republic snood. As an older gentleman, I knew he would need some extra protection from the cold Maine weather. And, it was good timing because we had just gotten a little snowstorm! Nola loves her snood (well maybe not, but I certainly do!) and she’s even a model on the website! Not to be outdone by his
supermodel younger sister, Sarge was just as handsome as can be modelling his new accessory. We chose the football pattern for him, because even wearing clothes picked out by his mommy, he has to represent the Mr.’s passion for the manly sport.
Check out this cuteness:
Thanks again to Sirius Republic for keeping the handsomest elderbull warm this winter!
As the holiday shopping season approaches, I wanted to share some dog related products that we love here at the M&M&NK household. Maybe some of them would make great Christmas presents for the dogs/dog lovers/dog owners in your lives!
L.L. Bean Headlamp
I don’t know about where you live, but here in Maine in the winter it is dark. Most of the time we walk the dogs before work in the dark, and again after work in the dark. Carrying a flashlight with two dogs who always go opposite directions is nearly impossible. I invested in one of these babies last winter and it made all the difference. Yes, it looks really dumb, like I should be working a coal mine or something, but in this case, it is function over fashion.
L.L. Bean Therapeutic Dog Couch
When Sarge came into our lives we knew he was going to need a bed that gave him more support than the ones we currently had for Nola (all 3 of them). We already had an L.L. Bean bed that we got when Nola was a puppy and we loved the quality of it. It’s no secret that we also like to support Maine based businesses, so we decided to invest in a Therapeutic Couch bed for Sarge. Yes, it’s a bit on the expensive side, but with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, we knew that if something ever happens to the bed we can return it for a brand new one. This particular model is great because it is extra thick with memory foam, is lined with fleece for warmth and softness, and has the bolsters that both the pups love to curl up next to.
With two medium-large dogs, we go through a lot of dog food. I usually buy at least one 26 pound bag a month. But, our house doesn’t have a lot of storage space to keep large bags and I couldn’t find a clip that kept the bag closed well enough to keep it fresh. This container fits nicely in our kitchen pantry closet, it’s lid closes tight, and it keeps the pups’ food nice and fresh.
If you’re looking for a fun interactive toy that you can’t find in a ‘regular’ pet store, this maze ball is a-maze-balls. Created by another Maine based company (and one we frequent regularly), Planet Dog, the Orbee-Tough Mazee is fun and interactive for the pups. You put a couple of cookies in and as your pups rolls it around the cookies move down the maze, closer and closer to the opening. Nola loves hers and I love that it keeps her busy!
Comfort Flex Harness
We have used every anti-pull harness available on the market for our fosters. But for Nola, and now Sarge, who both don’t pull regularly, we wanted a harness that was comfortable for them. I really don’t like walking dogs on flat collars alone, for many reasons, including safety and comfort for the dogs. Seeing dogs hacking and gasping for air while their collars are cutting into their necks makes me cringe. These harnesses are padded, have reflective tape for visibility and are great fits for our dogs with deep chests.
I like the sizing too, with the half sizes- Nola is a M/L because she’s sorta in between (she has a deep chest, but not too wide), where Sarge is a true L (with his deep WIDE stature). They come and a bunch of different colors and are pretty reasonably priced. Again, it is not a good anti-pulling tool, but for hiking, walking dogs with good leash manners, or for older dogs with neck/back issues, this harness is great.
Sirius Republic Snoods
If you haven’t discovered these yet you must be living under a rock. These soft fleece neck warmers from Sirius Republic are fashionable and keep the pups warm in this cold Maine weather. It’s been especially cold lately, and the added coverage of the fleece for their head/neck has helped make walks in sub-freezing temperatures more bearable. Sarge and Nola both have one, and I am sure I will get them additional colors to match their ever growing cold weather wardrobe.
Decals from Bully Paws
Besides being locally made, the other trait I look for in dog related products is uniqueness. I came across these decals on Etsy.com and HAD to have them. I bought two for my laptop and one for my car. While the two in the picture at right aren’t custom of Nola and Sarge, there are so many breed options that I found the two that most resemble them, which are pretty close, minus Sarge’s straight up ear. I also purchased an “Adopt” car decal. They were reasonable priced, hand cut, and there are tons of different font/breed options as well as decals for cars, electronics, and iphones. These are so cute I want to buy more!
Are there any dog related products that are on your Christmas shopping list?
As we wrap up November, also known as Adopt a Senior Dog Month, I wanted to share some of our feelings about the newest and oldest member of our family, Sargent. In case you don’t know the story of how Sarge joined our family, you can read about it here, here and here.
Before Sarge, I didn’t really consider how wonderful having a senior pet could be. Nola is our fist dog, and like many other people out there, we got her as a puppy. Really, the only thoughts I had about older dogs revolved around how sad it will be when Nola gets older. Then came Sarge. Something about his white muzzle, his slight limp, and those soulful black eyes just got deep down into my heart and wouldn’t leave. And now, I can’t image life without him.
It’s hard not to judge the person who could give this wonderful boy up. Like, REALLY hard. But one thing I’ve learned working in rescue, is that you just don’t know the circumstances people have to deal with. While it is heartbreaking to think of a dog that has had one owner his while life suddenly being dropped off a shelter, the thing I try to focus on is that we got an amazing gift and a wonderful addition to our family.
Sarge is such a simple boy. He loves everyone and everything, including the beach, frisbees and food. Yes, he has his ‘issues,’ especially due to the fact he was only neutered in January at age 13. He has learned some pretty annoying behaviors in his past home, but the amount of joy he brings completely outweighs any negatives and I feel like this is probably true about all older dogs who get adopted later in life. I even wrote about the benefits of adopting a senior dog, here. In fact, I wrote SO much about why he was such an amazing dog, I convinced myself and the Mr. (and Nola, eventually) that we could not live without him.
Now, whenever I see a senior dog come up for adoption at a local shelter, I do my best to share and network. I love to see them find families and get to enjoy a warm bed and lots of love. I hope that people will open their minds and hearts to an older dog. Yes, they probably won’t live as long as a younger dog might, but they will give just as much love bring you just as much happiness. And, you can give them the same in return. One of my friends posted this on our Facebook wall right after we adopted Sarge. It made me cry, but it so eloquently sums up the whole experience of adopting an older dog. I can only hope that everyone will be as lucky as the Mr. and I, and get to experience the joy of adopting a senior dog.
Here are a few organizations that help promote adopting a senior dog:
Silver Hearts Project
Grey Muzzle Organization
In honor of Throw Back Thursday (and because I didn’t get a chance to finish my post about Sarge!) I wanted to share one of my very first posts, before most of you even knew M&M&NK existed. I hope it helps you understand our beginnings with Nola and why we started the blog (plus, there are cute puppy pictures of Muffin). Enjoy!
This is the face that started it all. We had been talking about getting a puppy for months. Then we found Nola, who at the time was called Camilla, and our journey began.
It was the day before Halloween. She was being transferred from a shelter in Alabama (like so many others), so we met the transport truck at a park and ride in New Hampshire. Of course we were the first in line, because as you’ll come to find out, I
am a little bit of a worrier and like to be prepared. As she was handed to me off the truck the barrage of kisses began, and they haven’t stopped since.
Nola was our first dog ever. My family had a dog when I was little, but sadly she was hit by a car before I was old enough to really remember her. I have always been an animal lover, but my brother was allergic, so we could never have pets in the house. Jim’s family never had pets. We really had no idea how to train and take care of a puppy, but as stated above, I am a worry wart like to be prepared so I did all sorts of research before Nola came.
There was a point a couple weeks in when we thought we were over our heads with her. We were DINKS (dual income no kids) so having our schedules revolve around something other than ourselves was a tough adjustment. But, we figured it all out. We took training classes, learned all the places to go on and off leash, made mistakes, called the vet hundreds of times, and asked for advice from everyone we knew with dogs. Through it all I took tons of pictures and told all my colleagues at work every little cute, aggravating, silly and naughty things that Nola did.
This blog is a way for me to chronicle the trials and tribulations of Nola and everything we will go through in the future without having to bore my co-workers anymore. (To be fair, I work with pretty much all women, and the majority of them have kids. Telling my stories about Nola is really the only way I can relate to all their
boring interesting stories about their children.) We have learned so much from her, not only about how to train puppies, but about how much we both love dogs and how much an animal can change your perspective on love. I consider blogs picture books for adults, so I promise to keep posts relatively short and focus on the photos I’ve taken of our adorable pup. I am excited to have a place to remember Nola’s puppy days (she is 18 months old now) and to write about all the new and exciting experiences we will have with her. I hope you all enjoy and fall in love with Nola as much as we did!
“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
“No one should be alone in their old age, he thought.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Thanks to the amazing Liz Donnelly from Portland Photo Company for the beautiful photos of our old man Sarge!