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Monday, February 16, 2009

Struggles for Pet Owners

This is Luna, our Siberian Husky On April 10, she would be 15 years old. However, she's not going to make it to that date.

Since December 25th, 2008, she's been being treated for a bladder infection as she has had blood in her urine and is becoming incontinent. After several courses of antibiotics, and x-rays and a failed ultra-sound, it is very obvious that in order to be fair to her, she will have to be put down.

I hate making this decision. But, she's urinating about every 5 minutes. She can no longer be in the house with us as you can't turn your back on her....she simply doesn't make it to the door. When she goes, she looks at us with this sad look in her eyes.

When I had to put down my two ancient cats (Henry who was 18 and Tassie who was 19) it was fairly obvious. They had renal failure and Tassie was wasting away to nothing. She just sat and looked at her water dish. just losing her dignity. And I am losing sleep. She's a good dog, and she's a pedigreed Siberian with all the Sibe traits...extremely intelligent, extremely independent, loves to get out and run, is a phenomenal killer of varmints (and I don't trust her with small dogs), she loves "her cat" (Angel, the one who is grooming her in the picture). She was an Alpha female, who recognized me as Alpha human.

She came to us as a stray, when I was needing someone to make me go on walks to stay active after chemotherapy. I finally found her owners who had decided that she was too much for them and they gave her to us papers and all. She was 5, and hadn't really been obedience trained.

Living with a Sibe is different than living with any other dog I have owned previously. Or maybe that has owned me. She will look at you and snort when you don't do what she wants you to do, or if you can't figure out what she wants. Sibe's don't bark very often, they have vocalizations which are somewhat akin to yodeling, another friend who had a Samoyed called them "seal like" talking.

Taking on an animal means caring for it for life. She's had a good life. I think my husband summed it up best. After she had run away for the umpteenth time and had gotten sprayed by a skunk, he looked at her and said "Luna, you're a great dog, you're beautiful and well behaved. Too bad you're such a schmuck." She is. But she's a lover and a good companion too. She's very gentle with humans and even with Lemmie, the dark grey tiger cat you see here as well. I don't like making this decision, but I think it's time.

It is in all likelihood bladder cancer, although we don't really have the ability to diagnose it. She spent two days at the vets trying to get an ultrasound to confirm it, and every time they went to scan her, she emptied her bladder. Cancer stinks. I wish for her that she would go to sleep and not wake up. I think we all wish that we could do this when the time comes. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to happen too often. However, I sort of wish that when the time comes for me, that someone could give me a shot and send me on my way.

Pet owners have to make tough decisions. I don't know what Lemmie's story is...but I suspect that someone had to make a tough decision for him.....maybe they just took the coward's way out.

In early September, Lemmie showed up at our house. A gorgeous adolescent male with a very loud meow, long tail and the ability to jump very high. He wanted to be petted and held. At first, I refused to feed him. He kept on coming back and meowing...often in the night outside my bedroom window. I then started to feed him while was looking for his owner.

Then, my daughter noticed that his feet felt very soft. Someone had had his front paws declawed. At that point, I started keeping him inside at night as there are lots of creatures who could make short work of him here...coyotes included. I kept him in a cage with a litter box, food and water in the garage while I called shelters, and vets and put an ad in the paper for him.

No one responded. The Animal shelter said that they were overrun with animals. Many were surrendered when people had had their homes foreclosed upon and had to move into an apartment or places where they couldn't keep animals. Others simply could no longer afford to keep them.

So, after having him checked for all the various diseases and re-vaccinated, we gradually introduced him into our household. He was terrified of Luna, but is getting used to her. She, for her part, tries to make herself look small and un-aggressive to him, even though she did go after him a couple of times, she didn't go after him with the force the she could have. We have seen her quickly dispatch woodchucks twice the size of Lemmie with one quick shake to the neck.

I think someone had to make a decision with him....and rather leave him at a shelter where he might be destroyed because there are too many animals to be placed, they dumped him in a likely neighborhood, and he picked us.

He sort of gets along with Angel, who was an abandoned cat we adopted from Protectors of the Animals in CT. Unfortunately, neither he nor Angel much like Acei, a timid black cat who was abandoned as a kitten by a family who couldn't take care of her. Life has gotten a little tougher for Acei....but they'll all have a home with us, and professional care and medical attention for the rest of their lives. I can only hope that maybe with the three who are left to us that perhaps I won't have to make this decision again, that they will go gentle into that dark night.

Lemmie (aka Lemuel, aka Lennie, aka John Cougar MelonKitty

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