I was sitting in my chair reading when Maria let the dogs in from their romping in the dog area. They both came rushing into the living room and leaped up on my lap and crawled up to my face, which they start licking and licking. An ambush, joy and slobber. I guess it is good to be loved, and dog love is pure and unencumbered. Much joy and much slobber. Gus is very affectionate and demonstrative, Fate rarely gives kisses to anybody. She had a lot for me today.
Maria was right there with her fancy new Iphone camera.
I admit I missed the Mansion staff and residents, I thought of them every day while we were in New Mexico, and called several times to see how everyone was doing. No big changes, I was told. I’m going there tomorrow with some gifts I picked up in New Mexico.
I was touched and a bit surprised at how happy I was to see the office staff and some of the residents, I only had a few minutes. I learned that Brittany (on the far right), a loving and dedicated aide at the Mansion lost her dog the day before yesterday, and she was a wreck about it.
At the Mansion, the heart sings.
I rushed over there to wish her well and tell her I was sorry, and I gave her a copy of my book, “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die.” I don’t know if she’ll need it, but I thought she ought to have it on hand. Grieving is an intensely individual and personal experience, everyone does it in their own way.
Animal grieving is a serious subject for me, and I researched it extensively when I wrote “Going Home.” Brittany works in a place where she often has to confront illness and death, and she doesn’t really need my help to deal with it, I’m sure. People who don’t know how to handle grief don’t last too long at the Mansion.
i could see rushing over there that the Mansion means a lot to me, and I think I mean something to them. I wanted to check on Connie and Art (he is getting sweeter, they tell me) and Bill and Sylvie and Jean and Alice, my girlfriends.
In the hallway I met Sylvie’s sister and she asked if I was the famous Jon Katz, and I said no, I was the handsome one. We both laughed.
I asked her if I could do anything for Sylvie, and she said I could keep urging her to tell her stories, and I will surely do that. I have heard for months how kind and attentive Brittany is to the residents, and I can see how much she cares about them. Brittany and Red have a thing going.
I thought it might be helpful to her if some of you would write her about the death of her dog, perhaps offer some comfort and good words. I have the feeling it would help out right now, she is hurting. And a lot of you have been through this, you know how it feels.
I got something from New Mexico for her that I think she might like.
You can write her c/o Brittany, The Mansion, 11 S Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.
A perfect way, I think, to crank up the wonderful engine that is the Army of Good. We are back.
I took Red into the Cambridge Valley Vet this afternoon, the clinic has done a wonderful job of keeping Red healthy and working every day, herding sheep and doing his therapy work. Two years ago, he was stomped on his spine by Chloe, our pony, and a few months ago, he nearly done from four different tick borne infections. He also has arthritis.
It has been suggested that he needs Glucosamine supplements for his joints, almost every day I have had for years has been on these supplements when they age – Izzy, Rose, Lenore, Frieda – and I have never seen any effect whatsoever from using them on my dogs.
When Red was injured by Chloe, Dr. Fariello rolled out a menu of newer treatments – laser, acupuncture and massage. All three have been very and visibly effective and keeping his joints fluid and his energy level high. He also has cataracts in one eye, but I am not prepared to see a veterinary ophthalmologist, cataracts are common in dogs, I have strong ethical reservations about major surgery on animals. And he seems to be seeing clearly.
Dr. Fariello says she was pleased by her exam today, we took him outside and she watched him do a number outruns. I love plotting animal health strategies with Suzanne, she is open, she listens and is willing to step outside the box. She has kept Red healthy and active.
She said she did notice some stiffness in his two rear legs and right shoulder when we took him outside to run. She recommends two weeks of laser treatments (the first began today with Nicole, above, Red cuddling as always) and then some acupuncture. Then we’ll take a break and see how it goes.
If he’s fine, we’ll stop for awhile.
Otherwise, we will continue some of these treatments. Dr. Fariello has awakened me to the value of preventive medication for dogs, something I never tried before. It has worked beautifully on Red, and with luck and skill and attention, will keep him working with sheep and people who need him for a long time.
Dr. Fariello thinks Red is doing very well, and she wants to keep it that way. She went over these options carefully with me, as she always does and we are on the same page, as we almost always are.
In the Spring, Red came close to dying, and this reminded me to think ahead about his health, not to react. I have strong feelings about emotionalizing dogs, as you know, and I will not spend thousands and thousands of dollars on them while so many people in the world have no health care at all.
I don’t disrespect anyone who feels differently, many of my friends will spend anything and everything on their pets. And unlike so many dog lovers who message me every day, I don’t tell other people what to do, or offer or consider medical advice to strangers on social media.
But to me, that is a loss of perspective, so I am grateful to be keeping Red healthy in an appropriate and proportionate way. It is not loving to subject dogs to human ideas about health care, at least not to me.
(Thursday, we’re having Gus neutered. Dropping him off in the morning, picking him up late in the same day. Will cost about $400. They want him to wear a hood for a week (not likely) and be in a crate or on a leash for that same time frame (not likely either.)
I was at the vet’s with Red this afternoon and while we were there, a woman came in with a kitten she had nearly run over, it was lying by the side of the road, weak and confused and with a badly infected eye. She picked it up, brought it home, fed her or him (she isn’t sure of the gender yet) and brought her to the Cambridge Valley Vet, where Dr. Suzanne Fariello fell in love with her and brought out a fistful of ointments and medications.
Dr. Fariello says the eye is infected, and is treatable. The kitten is exhausted and emaciated, but she will be fine, and is in good hands, the woman who found her is bringing her home to live. Sad story, happy ending.
Maria has a new pair of boots for the winter, they are called Chakra Boots. They fit perfectly, are warm, and seem to belong on her feet. Maria dresses in her own way, supporting her own identity. Few people are strong enough to do that. The day started as cold, windy, rainy and nasty. It ended up sunny and beautiful, life is so often like that.
We took a walk up a country dirt road with the dogs, and the sun lifted all of us up.