The ectasy and the agony

So let me just get this out of the way – my golden retriever Soolin is the greatest dog ever. Today’s proof is here:

my dog Soolin leaping into the pool

this despite the fact that she’s got arthritic hips so creaky she sometimes has trouble making it up stairs, and a fat deposit under her front right armpit that causes her gait to be way out of whack*. So you get the full picture, here’s her sticking the landing:


and paddling immediately on over to retrieve the tennis ball:

paddling over to her ball

so, that’s the good news. My dog is fricking cool and possessed of an indomitable will to enjoy herself. The bad news? She pays the price:

This is after it had healed a bit. It got her on both sides, her neck, and her back.

She got hotspots so badly on her cheeks that we had to pay the vet to shave her for us – she wouldn’t let us near them because they were so uncomfortable. She was diagnosed with a yeast infection in both ears at the same time. All told she’s on two oral medications, some goop that goes in her ears twice a day, and a topical spray that goes on the wounds 3 times a day.

My poor, fabulous, glorious Soolin. There’s no stopping her no matter the consequences.

*(she’s going in for surgery to have that removed sometime in the next month or so)

Nori has slipped off to the great dog park in the sky

Our black lab Nori. She died on July 7, 2010

Our beloved black lab Nori died last week after a sudden and mercifully brief battle with cancer.

Her last month was rough. In mid May she contracted salmonella and spent several days in the animal hospital. At one point during this I actually thought she was going to die she was so ill. Susan and I were greatly relieved when she came home and quickly reverted to her normal self.

Sadly this was not to last. After a couple of weeks we noted that she had begun to put on weight, and within a few days of that we knew something was wrong – she was gaining weight too quickly for this to be normal. The vet suggested it might be gas and we spent several days trying a medication, but to no avail. Within a week she was having so much difficulty breathing that Susan took her off to the animal hospital.

We then spent several weeks trying to figure out what was wrong with her. They drained 2 litres of fluid out of her during her first visit. Her recent bout with salmonella confused the diagnosis, but long story short within a couple of anxious weeks that included multiple hospital visits and drainings and a visit to a specialist hospital in Boston, we had a diagnosis – terminal cancer, probably in multiple locations in her body, but certainly in her bladder and almost certainly in her glands.

Within a week or so of this diagnosis, Nori was dead.

Needless to say this completely sucked. Susan and I were shocked and emotionally devastated. About the only good I can say of this experience was that fortunately Nori did not have to suffer very long. She had some rough weeks, with labored breathing and a rapid decline in body weight and stamina, but she was a trooper right through to the end, still anxious for her meals, eager to please us, and ready with a kiss and a wag of her tail, even when it cost her dearly to raise herself up.

She died in our arms at home on July 7, surrounded by those who loved her. Most of the folks who knew her well got a chance to see her at least once before she died. She’s buried in our yard, in view of the picture windows which look out over one of our gardens.

I’ll miss her dearly. Soolin and Nori did everything with Susan and I – they came to work with us, they’d usually accompany us on our errands, they were our hiking companions, they even attended our wedding (in fact, they’re the only people who attended our wedding!). It’s a terrible loss for us.

We’re going to spruce up the flower garden we buried her in, and I’m going to get a memorial page up for her on this site at as soon as I have a chance to pull together enough photos for it.

Here’s how well our new rabbit fence works – it protects rabbits

So last weekend we worked half a day, with help from Parker and Steve, to get chicken wire installed on our garden fence. 300′ of fence, buried ~6″ deep and stapled to the existing wooden rail fence. This after I spent several weeks digging the trench around the exterior of the fence.

Yesterday I let the dogs out to do their morning business, and Soolin went zipping off towards the garden, barking. Turns out she had spotted a rabbit. Said rabbit? Inside the fence. Soolin? Stuck outside the fence. Soolin, apparently our only effective rabbit deterrent, was reduced to running furiously up and down the perimeter of the fence, barking madly but impotently. Eventually the rabbit scooted out of the fence and into the nearby shrubbery, but its point was made. We’re debating our next move.