Diesel

The long holiday weekend started out normal. Colt and I having our traditional sniffles, and Mike having projects around the house.

We had both intended to get some stuff accomplished with the extra day off. But my sinus headache and his back bothering him kept our work short. We called it a night early. Only we weren’t all tucked in our beds peacefully. Colt was fighting being set in his crib. I had a stuffy, sore nose. And Diesel was laying in the office. Which was unusual for him. 

At some point in the night, Mike got up, grabbed his pillow and blanket and laid besides the old dog.

I would find out later that Diesel spent the night panting, and refusing to lay his head down. At some point, with his ears down, and looking away from Mike, Mike hugged Diesel and whispered to him, “If this is your time to go, let me know, just give me a sign.” Diesel licked his face, in that same way he has for years.

All to often over the last few years, we’d wake in the morning with tears in our eyes as Diesel refused to get up, eat or drink. But after a day or two, he’d bounce right back. And be back to following Mike around relentlessly.

This morning it took all the energy he had, and help from Mike, to make it into the living room. Laying against the couch, with his head resting on pillows and laps alternately. He panted heavy.

Mike occupied himself with tasks around the house. Stopping to check on him, offer him water, cleanup after him.

It was around 10:30, when I took a moment to snuggle into Diesel the same way he’d lean against me. He began quivering, and I new things were getting worse. I started sobbing. Petting his head, he wasn’t responsive to our touch any more. I tucked his favorite toy under his head. Mike came in and rushed to his side. He only left his side one more time to grab a blanket.

I drove to the vets office, conveniently located in our neighborhood, hoping they were there taking care of the holidays boarded pups.  No sign. I drove home and called the emergency line, leaving a tearful message. 

In the next 15 minutes, Mike’s brother joined us, and his mom came to watch Colt so Mike and I could have those last minutes with Diesel. Audrey from the vets office arrived, and confirmed what we knew. 

Mike held him close while she helped him cross the rainbow bridge. By noon, our Brutus was gone.

We wrapped him in a blanket. Placed him gently in the van. With the minimum stuff packed, we drove him to our property up north.

Mike took him for one last Yota ride. He’s resting now under an oak tree near the cabin. Near the trail where he’d go running as soon as you opened the door. He’d stop, turn back and look at you, waiting for that walk around his property.

Four days before your 12th birthday. On the holiday weekend where we’d always spend time in the woods. Mike set off some fireworks in your honor. Our good ole dog is home now.

07/08/2013 – 07/04/2015
Rest in peace Diesel Von Speedster Phillips

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On the Go: Tiny Little Tracks

Mike, the dog and I headed out into the woods today. And I have to admit that I become a curious little school girl when I start seeing fresh animal tracks in the crisp snow.

I see the little foot prints and I try to identify them right away. Bird? Tree climber? Canine?

I love following them to see where they go. From tree to tree. Brush to brush. Across a frozen pond. 

Today, we followed some kind of tiny rodent, mouse or vole. It scurried about. Across the trail, over the pond. It was eventually accompanied by the tracks of a coyote! Though, I’m guessing there was a difference in time, and the coyote was also following the tracks. 

A little way up the trail, we spooked 4 or 5 partridge. We found their tracks as well, with the funny little swoop from where their tail feathers drag in the snow. 

There were also plenty of deer and rabbit tracks. Always a good sign of all of the life making a home on our property.

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Old Dog Blues

Well, Mike and I had the same general concern, that we both feel was answered for good this weekend. Our old dog is losing his hearing.

This was not helped by the lady yelling at us at a rest stop this weekend.

Diesel had jumped out of the car early, and he was safe in the parking lot but not listening to Mike’s commands. Which led to Mike having to grab his scruff. Mind you, he didn’t hurt him, it was to keep him from wandering off. But that’s not the way some lady chose to see it. 

Nothing quite like having to explain to a stranger that you’re not an abusive ass to really make you feel like one. 

We kept an eye on him the rest of the weekend. He can still hear a bit, but it takes a louder tone to get his attention. 

We’re both saddened by this of course, but like Mike pointed out, it’s heartbreaking to know he may not hear the chatter of squirrels or the chirp of chipmunks. Hunting for those little rodents made him the happiest dog. 

I’m just hoping he has many happy days with us, and we’ll continue to to keep giving him those days. 

Our Diesel Dog

As I am sitting here in my living room looking for inspiration to write, I am comforted by the light snoring of a handsome dog at my feet.  I glance to my framed pictures on the wall and see a cute Diesel puppy sitting happily with his father in an over-sized leather chair. On the table next to me, are two more photos taken of Diesel his first trip up state. I realize that I haven’t written about my dogger in quite some time, and maybe some of you would like an up date. Or maybe some of you haven’t had the privilege of meeting this wonderful beast.

For just little over a year I wrote a blog that featured my sweet dog, Diesel.  Diesel Stomping was a big part in getting me back to writing and focusing on my life more. And I am truly thankful for each of you who read the blog and kept me motivated. It was the first time I felt I had an audience. Unfortunately for me, the steady stream of inspiration dried up and I just couldn’t come up with anything new and exciting.  There were also new personal developments in my life that made finding the time to share with Diesel ever more difficult.

Diesel would spend his earliest years going through Schutzhund training. This training is generally used to determine if a dog is capable of doing police work. It focuses on Tracking, Obedience, and Protection. To be honest, when I saw it I thought they were turning the poor puppy into a vicious attack dog. But as I grew to know Diesel, I knew that any instinct to attack would only be to protect his owners.

Diesel eventually formed a very tight bond with Mike. Following him just about everywhere and listening to his every command.  Over the years, Diesel has surprised us with his intelligence, made us laugh with his amazing spirit, and given us a few frights. He’s a happy dog, that lives his life to the fullest he can.  Even if this means spraining his ankle chasing squirrels, nonchalantly being hit by cars twice, or jumping from a moving boat. With these exceptions attributed to his over-excitement, Diesel is well-trained, and listens when he wants to, is a great snuggler, and a fabulous walking companion.

It was up until this past summer that Diesel still had the energy of a young pup, but we could tell the years were closing in on him. It started taking a bit longer to recover from a weekend up state. And his 10 PM bedtime was not to be taken lightly, his cute way of snarling while also giving kisses is just adorable! But over all things were still good with Diesel. Towards the end of last summer we noticed he was limping, which tended to happen when he would run too hard, especially after twisting and spraining his ankle a few times. But this time it seemed to get worse and not better and so off to the vet we went.

A few x-rays later and we now know that he has arthritis all along his spinal cord. The calcium deposits pinching on nerves that extend into his legs and makes it painful for him to run/walk.  This past week the vet lined up a treatment plan including steroids, enzymes, an anti-inflammatory medication and lasers. After the first shots we started noticing a significant difference.  He got is first round of the lasers today and was all wound up like a coo-coo-clock when we got home this afternoon.

The true sign of the treatment working will be when he stops dragging his rear paw. Unfortunately, we were late in noticing the dystrophy in his muscles and we are working slowly, but diligently to build those muscles back up. Mike has been taking him for brief walks in the morning, and I have taken him in the afternoon.

We were scared for a while, thinking the absolute worse, but I think Mike is sleeping better now knowing that we can reverse some of his old age problems and that we might have our old pup for a few more years. 10 may be old, but it ain’t that old yet.