Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A more proper tribute to Cade

(Graphic by Wendy Mihail for my first website.)
On Tuesday, my oldest friend and wisest teacher passed away. Cade - Rohan's Cascata Di Luce CGC aka HRH The Emperor Cade, High Lord of the Squeekies and Tug Toys. My constant companion, brides'dog' at our wedding, my self appointed hot waterbottle during illness. My too-clever, sweet, sensitive, opinionated, blanket-hogging, bunny/lurechasing, kitten-mothering, insane-for-clicker, social-butterfly.

(Maid.. er... DOG of Honor at my wedding...)

(Suitably atired of course!)
(My self-appointed hot water bottle during pregnancy)
He's been with me through highschool, college, car accident and vestibular/hearingloss, loosing DH's mum to cancer, moving to Australia, marriage, pregnancy, baby, loosing DH's grandfather, moving again etc. He was the dog you come across once in a lifetime if you're very lucky. Devoted, uncanniliy intelligent, beautiful, mischievious, with such an exquisite temperment the president of the IGCA had commented his litter had the best she'd seen in decades.

The irony is the dog who has meant the most to me was everything I was sure I didn't want. I wanted a small, blue, female and instead was chose by a red male the size of a whippet bitch who perched himself on my lap, haughtily gazing down in disdain at his heathenous siblings as they rocketed around, tumbling and wrestling. The day he arrived home, he calmly walked out of his crate and examined his new kingdom with aplomb that would have better suited royalty than a gangly pup comprised of nothing but legs and nose. In less than a second I was head-over-heels. He was magic, the most beautiful, clever dog to ever walk the face of the earth.

(First day home)

(Early on it became apparent he was the king of comfort. That long IG nose functions for burrowing.)

(On my 18th birthday)

"Cade" means an animal brought up by hand, treated with tenderness and favor. Throughout his life even people who professed not to like dogs or little dogs would fall to his charm and say, "but I'd like them if they were all like him", usually as he was comfortably ensonced in their laps. He never met a stranger - after flying to Australia, upon release from quarantine he rode the train through the city with an expression clearly saying he was pleased Melbourne had had turned out to greet him - it never occured to him they mightn't all come to see him.
(With Grandpa Lucien, age 97, ever the gentleman.)
Despite being canine and male, he had an unusual fondness for kittens and adopted several orphans. At one point he adopted a litter of day olds whose mum rejected them, sleeping curled around them, allowing them to 'nurse' and knead even if he had no milk, toileting them, hauling them back to the nest when they clambered out, fretting over them and letting them pounce all over him in play indulgently. His love of kittens didn't extend to pups, though ladies man that he was females of almost any age were indulged while only the quiet and respectful males were tollerated. Like a cat he was also fond of perching in a tree to survey his kingdom and could be found lounging across some lower branch bonelessly.

(With Isabella - busy at a molecular level...)

(With our cat Noir.)

Besides being a flirt he was a shameless ham and a master of pranks - part dog, part monkey, part bird. There was nothing he couldn't scale, levitate over or get into or out of were he inclined though mercifully most of the time he was content to humor me and ask instead of helping himself. He was a chow-hound and we'd always joked as long as he had a pulse he'd never turn down food. Sure enough, even barely able to lift his head he took some cottage cheese. He loved tomatos - one time his needle nose removed every bit of tomato from a sub-sandwhich; leaving the bread, meat, cheese and other veggies in-tact and only a corner of paper unwrapped. It wasn't until I bit into it I figure out what happened! He also loved apples but if you handed him a wedge with skin on he'd politely place it back in your palm and sit staring until you fetched a knife to remove the skin. Another time he snurched and ate 2 dozen muffins, papers and all which I'd left to cool on the counter over maybe 5 mins - leading to a spoof "FBI warrant" http://www.geocities.com/cabrissi/wanted.html I have a thousand more funny little stories and I'm sure I'll hear some rippers of what he's been up to from Bria (my old Collie) and Isabella (my other IG) when I meet him at the Bridge.

He was never bred but his legacy, besides my own memories, lies in all the dogs who have and will benefit by what I learned because of him and from him. He was my wisest teacher, though working with him was always based on your having earned his respect rather than any kind of obsequious deference to humans. He followed because he CHOSE to follow - not because you demanded it or thought being human automatically earned it but because your leadership was worth following and you were a person worth listening to. Like that professor who continually pushed you give only the best, with unflinching honesty he refused to accept anything less. He was one of the smartest dogs I've ever worked with. My Aussies are certainly no slouches but for sheer problem solving ability and determination Cade won hands-down - surprising many who consider sighthounds too independant, stuborn or stupid to train. He got his CGC easily, dabbled in lurecoursing before a tumble hurt his leg, agility before floaters were diagnosed in his eyes and freestyle up until now. The lessons he taught me in how to work with animals serve not only with my own dogs but most especially in working with rescues or dogs with fear or aggression or with animals to whom socializing with humans closely doesn't come automatically and trust is something based on experience.

In 2001 after getting his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certificate

His loss was completely unexpected, having always been pretty healthy his whole life and not having any real warning signs. On Thursday evening and Friday, he'd been a bit sooky when he was made to come out of bed to go potty. We chalked it up to the cold, rainy weather which he disdained with a passion (he'd try to walk with all four feet off the ground at the same time) and feeling a bit itchy from what the vets had deemed a reaction to switching food from their normal EaglePack when the store was out of stock. We'd planned to visit the vets again Monday.

Saturday was quiet but ordinary. Sunday evening we heard a thump and my husband called to me that he was shaking hard. He was concious and responsive but simply couldn't control the tremoring or get his limbs to obey well. I gave him valium (we have for if there's a storm etc) on the supposition that if it was a seizure or similar episode it couldn't hurt but before it could affect him he began vomiting profusely. By the time we arrived at the vets it was obvious something very bad was going on and it's a credit to them he stablized enough to start running tests. Every possibility was eliminated until the diagnosis was down to needing an MRI etc. to show a brain tumor or a spinetap on the lesser chance of something like meningitis encephalitis if the former revealed nothing. In the meantime we gave him aggressive courses of antibiotics, IV's, anti-vomiting meds, stuff to stablize his heart etc. That evening he was stable enough to transfer to the emergency center in Hallam for round-the-clock monitoring/care. I had to fill out some papers while they restarted his IV's etc and as weak as he was when he heard me return he tried to wobbled to his feet and move toward me before collapsing. By the following morning, he'd deteriorated to non-responsive with more pronounced hyperexcited involuntary behaviours (paddling, head pressing) to the point we had to adminster IV valium to settle it. The returning strength from the supportive care allowed the neruological problem to manifest more fully and pointed to it being primary (brain tumor) rather than a secondary problem (in reaction to meningitis) that might abate with treatment.

By late afternoon, they were having to increase the amount of meds to the point they couldn't give more and he was crashing. I held him. I talked to him for a little while and for a moment I think he came to a bit. Not fully but his eyes went from vacant and unfocused to a flicker of recognition for a moment, as if his spirit were brushing against me as he left like he used to brush his head against my hand on a walk when he doubled back to me before continuing on his way. Then he sighed, relaxed and at 6:11 pm was gone.

He is buried at home in a sunny, sheltered part of the garden with a warm blanket. Even in death, I'm sure he'd find a way to express his displeasure were I to put him somewhere cold and wet - he was just that sort of dog.

Webberville, summer of '01

Fifth birthday, Charlotte, MI

I think about 8 years old here

Age 9, Hawthorn
(10th birthday, at our home near Gembrook)

He's gone.

6:11 pm.

They were having to increase the valium amounts and frequency to control the tremoring to a point where they couldn't give any more and it still wasn't controling it and everything else took a massive crash. I held him. I talked to him for a little while and for a moment I think he came to a bit. Not fully but from a vacant abyss a flicker of recognition in his eyes, just for a moment, as if his spirit were brushing against me the way he used to brush his head against my hand on a walk when he doubled back to me before continuing on his way. Then he sighed, relaxed and was gone.

I'm not sure how it was supposed to end but this wasn't it.

24 February 1998 - 24 June 2008
Rohan's Cascata Di Luce CGC
Mixed news today.

On one hand he survived the night and when we called this morning they said nothing much had changed.

His potassium is relatively normalized, sodium is on it's way, BP has stablized, pulse-ox is showing much more friendly numbers, hydration is good, glucose is good, temperature is stable, and he's kicking up a fuss. For a dog who was ringing death's doorbell yesterday that is majorly improved.

The bad news is that the neurological signs have not only not abated but grown more pronounced - he is less with it, only minimally responsive, compared to last night where he was still responding to voice and seeing me trying to wobble into my lap. Much more signs of hyperexcited involuntary behaviour in terms of paddling to the point, head pressing we had to adminster IV valium to keep him from doing himself injury. So basically the returning strength in terms of the supportive care has allowed the neruological stuff to manifest itself more fully and seems to point to the neurological problem being primary rather than secondary since it's not resolved itself with the electrolytes rebalancing... the sodium isn't fully normal but it's down enough you can make a pretty safe assumption that lowering further won't cause improvement.

At this point, it's as clear as can be without running him through a neurological workup (MRI, spine tap etc) that we're dealing with a brain tumor or leison of some sort or possibly meningitis encephalitis although the later is exceedingly unlikely as he'd had a good heavy course of hard-hitting antibiotics the other day and should have seen at least some slight sign of improvement or at least not getting worse. But the brain is a funny thing sometimes, so we're taking a last ditch shot and giving him another round of antibiotics today. If we're beyond very lucky, see some response and can assume it's meningitis which gives a best case 10-20% chance of recovery.

If it doesn't respond, it's likely the brain tumor or such, then we will probably have to let him go, as I can't see putting him through weeks of testing to find out out it's not opperable, or find out it's opperable but at high risk of loosing him on the table (poor anesthesia canidate) and would put him through the rigors of major surgery to buy me a few weeks or month at best. He's done too much for me over the years for me to drag him through that and have him miserable just so I can feel better for a few days.

At this point I figure I will afford him the one last slim chance with todays round of antibiotics as he's comfortable, sedated and not suffering, so I can know that every chance was afforded to him. The outcome hinging on what the morning reveals.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm super exhausted since I've been up all night and at the vets and then the emergency-overnight clinc all of today - 10:00 and just got home, so please forgive if I'm a bit all over.

Cade, my oldest dog is very, very ill. The vets have had him on supporitive care all day long since they opened, running tests etc. The neurological symptoms have not abated all day and are not responding to medications although the other meds are helping. He's had some sort of neurological problem... he was snoozing when DH called me over saying he was shaking like he was really cold. When I came over it looked almost like a seizure but not loosing conciousness - tremors and ataxia and then profuse vomiting. The same thoughout the day with meds to keep his heart strong, try to control the tremors, meds for vomiting etc At 8pm he was transfered to the emergency center for overnight care (IV, monitoring bloods, can upgrade if he starts to fit again) - the vet there seems very good and is giving him additional tests in ultrasound and if he doesn't have another attack overnight, then thinks a brain scan advisable but also says she feels there is something going on like a brain tumor that's causing this and I need to consider that she thinks it isn't likely it will have a simple cause or maybe even a cure.

He's only 10, far too young for him to go, especially so suddenly and he's been with me through everything from highschool, graduation (snuck along on that trip), college, car accident and subsequent yuckness, several moves in the US, moving to Australia, marriage, pregnancy, baby and loosing DH's grandfather, moving again etc.

The only good thing is he is fighting... even after we transfered him to the emergency clinic so he can have IVs at night, the head vet there examined him and turned the drips back on and after having me sign some papers took me back to his cage and when I came around the corner and could see him he wobbled up to his feet and started trying to paw the door to get to me. Poor old chap, even if he's used to vets (used to come to work with me) he's not fancying being parted all night.

The biggest hurdle now is keeping him stable till morning and getting the neurological symptoms under control so they can do more tests and hopefully find a problem and it's not as awful as a tumor.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More garden updates

The ugly, rusty old fence is GONE and the fence-line prepped... new one is going up on Tues/Wed hopefully when supplies etc arrive

Anyone want agapanthus??? I've got absolute HEAPS torn up... free to anyone who wants to drive out and pick them up!

The front path - bricks all gone (it only took me an age to pull them all up too) and the bobcatting has been done so it's nice and level and the new step you see was created by putting a heap of new dirt there and compacting it into a 'step' and higher level.

Someone was a bit puzzled by all the ruckus... not fussed mind you but puzzled as to what it was!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

garden update

I keep meaning to post updates on it more frequently but it's difficult to photograph because it's big enough that you either shoot close enough to get detail but it lacks perspective of where it is in relation to everything else or you shoot wide and miss all detail.
Partial shot of the front, anglign towars the left. All trees are now undercut, deadwood removed, shaped and thinned etc. Three trees (out of 60 some) still need crown-work and a bit of handsaw pruning to remove bits where they keep suckering but by and large they're done. You'll also notice all the overgrown shrubs between the small rhododendron in front of the house (where the white pots are) and the big one to the upper left have had a VERY hard prune - from 1-1.5m of leggy and the valencia orange just to the left of the small rhododendron (almost touching in the pic) has had a good bit of restoration after the previous owners went at it (literally) with a chainsaw and left it pretty badly off. It's hard to see in this shot but the edges of the beds have started being dug in. Oh and the two black blips in the lower right corner with a silver blip between are chooks at a feeder. LOL

You can see the edge dug in better here, and appreciate how hard the shrubs were pruned - they were almost as tall as the valencia orange tree on the right side of the picture!

Rhododendron path showing all the trees now free of deadwood and suckers. These trunks couldn't even be seen for all the years worth of deadwood surrounding them. They were solid thickets from the ground up to the underside of their crowns.

In the previous picture this is the tree at the far right foreground corner just above Cami.

If you remember, they all looked like the below picture to start! To give an idea of the work, each one is as tall as the house or a bit taller and climbing in them requires a bit of acrobatics. ;-) The deadwood has to be removed, suckers removed with handsaw just below where the woods DNA makes them keep suckering, unsightly or rotten limbs removed and under-cut so you can work under them.

"I didn't touch it mum, honest!" I was putting together bean-poles with bamboo stakes and twine and kept coming up with the twine-ball missing courtesy of someone thinking it a fine toy! She's laying on it here, you can barely see it poking out from under her as she practices her best "sweet, innocent puppy who never touched the twine" look. ;-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I think my girls are feeling just a little left out...

Me: "Cami, down!"
Sierra: "I can do it too mum! LOOK! See? I can do down too! Train with meeeee!!!"

Verity: "No mum, don't play with them, play with ME! I'm way more cute than anyone else..."

Apologies for the quality of the photos, it was sunset and my flash is terrible.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

*honk honk honk*

These are our newest residents, the white is a young Embden and the other pair are young Brown Chinese geese. They are charming, friendly birds from Tribe of Honk in Silvan, Vic.

Well, they like ME at any rate. The dogs are convinced the ducks are much nicer as the ducks don't mind if the dogs have a bit of their food whereas the geese bop them on the nose or bum if they get too nosey. The most frequent recipient is Cami who hasn't quite figured out that just because you *see* food doesn't mean it's yours. LOL

Little fuzzle is growing quickly and becoming full of beans. She's a clever little girl, easy to train and attentive. She's just starting to get the first inklings of a 'please' behaviour and a conditioned relaxer in addition to the highly important skill of being able to play "soccer" with La. (She attacks the whole ball with her front feet like a kitten with a ball of yarn. LOL) Leash work still remains a bit of an impression of a rodeo bronco at times though. ;-)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's been a busy few days. We had a nice get together at Sif's when she was hosting a party and got to catch up with everyone! It's been ages! (And yes, Cami came with... and snuggled on my lap all day.)

This weekend, Saturday was the Victorian Waterfowl Associations show and it turned out to be a nice show and of course lovely to catch up with friends old and new. Some others had very lovely birds... I totally fell in love with this adorable little call duck of BB's... very unusual colour and they're so TINY... about 1 lb I think. I told him to clone her so I cna buy some! LOL

Today was an poultry auction at Euroa. I ended up getting 3 lavender pekins and a trio of OEG bantams. Foggy morning up through the mountains... and after a great day buying and catching up (some of you may have sussed out gabbing is my favorite passtime) we wandered back doing the tourist bit in my favorite spots at Strathbogie, Alexandra, Cathedral Ranges State Park and the mountains coming up towards Healesville on the Maroondah Hwy. Now of course I do have a widdle-bitty puppy who needs meals 3x day and I could hardly leave her kenneled all day. So what to do? Well... to be honest, she was carried around all day, both days and took it all in stride. Really, I think she must be one of those little chihuahuas you see rich people carry in their purses! Put her down and she'll play or follow you but pick her up and she's happy as a clam there for as long as you like. And when I needed both hands...

Yes, she snuggled down in Laurent's sling. LOLOL She was comfy as could be and alternated between watching and snoozing. Lots of compliments to pass on to Kate on what a well behaved and clever pup she is. (She knows sit and potty on cue, this is amazing to many people who aren't used to clicker training!)

And a couple from our return trip near sunset...