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When is the right time to let your pet go?
October 2017 Newsletter     
Stories In This Issue
It’s Not Time Yet
I Have a New Title
What’s In Your Pet’s Food

Halloween is almost here so I got creative with the colors of my Newsletter in honor of the season.

I have been so busy lately the days just go by too fast. At present I have a 2 to 3 week waiting period for appointments. The earlier you call the sooner I can pencil you in. Of course, if you have an emergency I am always available within 24-48 hours.

I will need a rest soon, so I will take a small five day vacation towards the end of the month and visit Mackinac Island in Michigan. I am really looking forward to that.

Hope you enjoy a story from my files as well as one of my own experiences.

It’s not time yet! 

 
Recently, Leslie came to see me with Zac, a white German Shepherd/Lab mix. She adopted him when he was about 2-4 years old. 
 
Leslie was concerned about him because she had had him for 17 YEARS. Yes, you are reading it right. SHE had had him for 17 years, and the rescue estimated that he was already 2-4 years of age when she adopted him. For that reason, we have to assume that, at minimum, Zac was 19 years old. 

When she called me and told me Zac’s age I thought I was going to be talking about end of life, which in my line of work is fairly common. 
But that was not the case with Zac. 

Yes, Zac was old and you could see it. He walked slowly, he paced quite a bit, and his head was tilted to the side because he had had a stroke, maybe even more than one. 
When I met him, we talked about his inability to relax, about how hard it was for him to remember things, about getting lost inside his own home, and about having small seizures.
 
I asked him if he thought it was time for him to go. 
“No,” he said, “it’s not.” 

Because he continued to have good days and bad days, Leslie came to see me two more times for a total of three visits to be certain Zac was still ok with staying.  
The last time he was here he told his mom, “I don’t want to leave just yet. I’m still having joy! Yes, I know I have all these problems, and some days are harder than others, but I still recognize you and I still love to be petted. I love my food and I can go out and relieve myself whenever I need to. I want to stay around. It’s not my time yet!” 

Then Zac told his parents what to look for and how they would know when he felt his time was close to the end.

Leslie and her husband remained tuned in to the signs, so they would know when the time was right. 

The last few days before his passing, Leslie could tell that Zac was failing, but he was still eating and walking around the yard that he loved. His legs were getting weaker and he was unsteady on them, but he would still follow Leslie around to check on her. He was always connected with what was going on in his home. 

The day before his passing, Leslie could see that he didn’t have the usual spark in his eyes and that his “bingo” just wasn’t there. He just seemed different, more quiet. He knew his family was there, but it was as if he also seemed to be somewhere else . . . transitioning? 

Leslie slept on the floor with him most of the night to check on him and give him comfort. 

During the night, she logged into Facebook where she found a posting about a dog’s passing. The posting said that it was better to be a week early rather than a day late. This was a thought that really hit home with her. 

Then, to pass the night, she chose one of her favorite books to re-read called Racing in the Wind. She had forgotten that it opened with the dog in the book being old and wishing he could tell his owner that he was sad that his legs didn’t work well, and that he really didn’t want to eat, but was doing so to please his owner whom he loved so much. Even though Zac had said he still enjoyed his food, his legs weren’t working well at all, so that thought really hit home with Leslie, too. She felt she really needed to pay attention to these signs. 

In the morning, Zac got up and went outside to go to the bathroom, then came in and laid on his bed. He never moved off of it again. He slept, while occasionally opening his eyes to see what was going on. 

Leslie knew it was time to call their vet of 30 years. There was no second guessing, and there were no regrets. 
 
Was it an easy decision? NO! It was hard, and she and her husband cried and cried as they held Zac and petted him. Friends he was close to also came over to be with him. Zac then passed peacefully with the help of their veterinarian. 

Although his family misses him so much, they do have the comfort of knowing from his communications with me that Zac was right when he told them it was not time for him to leave any earlier. They also have the peace of knowing they made the right decision for him at exactly the right time, just as he wished.  


I have a new title 

It all started over a month ago when I met with a client, the client’s two dogs, and one of her two roommates. One of the dogs was a Maltese named Devi, and the other a tiny Yorkie named Tara. 

After the two dogs talked about what they wanted and needed, my client asked me to explain to them that the three roommates would each be moving to different homes soon. That meant the dogs wouldn’t be seeing them any more. Because the two roommates had always cared for the dogs during the day while my client was at work, she knew the dogs would very much miss their companionship, which they had grown used to for so long. 
 
For a while, it became a sad back and forth conversation among Devi, Tara, my client, and her roommate.

Devi, the Maltese, had grown so close to the roommate who was present at the consultation, that she wanted very much to go with her. But the roommate wasn’t convinced she could care for a dog. She was moving to Ohio to care for her parents, and having a dog would give her even more responsibilities that she wasn’t sure she was prepared to take on. Then a week later, I received an e-mail telling me that the roommate had changed her mind, and Devi would be leaving soon to join her in Ohio.
 
But . . . the tiny Yorkie, Tara, told us during the consultation that she didn’t want to go with anyone. She was used to the comfort of her present home environment and she didn’t want to leave at all. Because I’m empathic, I could actually feel what Tara was  feeling, as well as knowing what she was telling me. I then tried as accurately as I could to convey both Tara’s thoughts and
feelings to my client, who began to wonder what would be the best thing to do for her tiny pet.

As cute as she is, this tiny 5-pound Yorkie is not the most adoptable dog. She’s already a little over 12 years old. She’s deaf, has cataracts in both eyes, and has such severe allergies that she has to wear a T-shirt so she won’t pick up something from her environment that would send her into a scratching frenzy. She has also had spinal surgery and knee surgery, so she had to be given multiple medications, some twice a day, including an anti-anxiety medication . . . think doggy Prozac.  

On top of all that, Tara had an unpleasant habit. Even though she would be walked twice a day, and taken out every two hours or so, she would still come into the house and pee on the rug. 

All this would be very challenging for anyone, so she was not a dog for whom it would be easy to find a new home. 

I felt so bad for this little one that before the consultation was over, I offered my client a possible option. I told her I would contact another of my clients to see if she would be willing to adopt Tara. That client is someone who often adopts senior dogs and those who are sick.

When Tara’s mom and I talked by phone, I had to tell her that my rescuing client could not take in another dog at the present time because of her own circumstances . . . but . . . I also told her that I would be willing to take care of Tara for a week, just on an experimental basis, to see if she would fit in with my family. I already have two dogs and one big cat, plus peacocks who roam freely around the yard during the day. That kind of environment can be a challenge for some dogs, but I was willing to give Tara a try. 

Happily, as it turns out, she fits right in and gets along so well with everyone that she’s become the newest member of our family. The other dogs accept her, even when she’s having one of her anxiety attacks. The cat, who is about three times her size, towers over her, but they just sniff each other and then go their separate ways. And very importantly, she doesn’t chase the peacocks around the yard.

The first challenge was to train her to use the doggy door in order to give her more independence, as well as training her to go pee and poo outside every time. 

I’m very consistent with training routines, so from the first day, I communicated to Tara that she needed to do her business only outside, and I took her out every two hours. She would hold her business for as long as she could, going only about once every 6 hours . . . BUT . . . she did go only outside. For the moment, the first major challenge had been overcome.

I’m now delighted to say that she’s using the doggy door, even on her own. She’ll go outside, do her business, and come back in all by herself. In the several weeks she’s been with us, she’s never once done her business in the house. Good girl, Tara!

The second challenge was sleeping at night. The first few days she slept quietly, but on the fourth night she “complained” throughout most of the night. I soon discovered that she has very vivid dreams, and her “complaints” were actually dreaming sounds.

She does wake us up around 5:00 a.m., however, because she’s just tired of being in her kennel and wants to be with us. So what do we do . . . the most logical thing, of course! We bring her up on the bed with us where she goes right back to sleep until we’re ready to get up!

The third challenge was her anxiety. She is so anxious that she has to be able to see a human the whole time, and I do mean the whole time. I can’t move from my office for even a minute, because she comes looking for me, even though, when I left the office, she was fast asleep. 


Because she is deaf, I can’t just tell her something. She has to actually SEE me. If she doesn’t, she’ll start howling and barking and scratching at the last known door where I might have disappeared before. Once she sees me again, then she relaxes, many times falling asleep within 30 seconds. 

My husband and I try to take turns going out so that at least she can see and follow one of us around at all times until the other one returns. But going out to dinner together is a challenge. Last time we went out, I recorded her. She barked and howled every 3-4 minutes for the entire hour and a half we were gone, even though she had the company of 2 other dogs. We’re hoping, though, that she’ll adjust over time.

But . . . aside from her separation anxiety . . . she is a perfect little dog. Although she is set in her ways, she has a whole lot of personality and attitude, and I am in love with this little girl!

One day, I was joking with my husband that I now have a new title. I have become a “Service Human” for Tara. Just as a “Service Dog” provides comfort and companionship for a person, I now provide that kind of comfort and companionship for this precious dog. To go along with my new title of  “Service Human,” I think I need a service human vest. Anybody know where to get one?

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Dr. Monica Diedrich,  Pet Communicator 

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What’s in your pet’s food? 

 
Because I have a new little girl at home who is allergic to almost every food, I’ve been trying to learn about what’s inside every package of prepared dog food. 

I usually cook for my dogs, and it’s my preferred way of serving their meals, but sometimes when I travel, which is fairly often, I need to leave my dogs with family members who do not have the time to cook, so I need to be ready with some wholesome choices. 

I recently received a Dog Food Guide prepared by Reviews.com. I found it to be very informative and consistent with my own high standards. 

There are so many brands out there that it’s almost impossible for you to do this research on your own, so I’m very happy to share it with you. Check out the following link to learn more about the best and worst foods, and why they fall into those categories.
  

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Until next time

Dr. Monica Diedrich