What to do in case of pet grief – Part 1

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling:  "Yes, we're quite comfortable, thank you for asking."

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling

As many of you know, my husband and I have lost two of our three beloved shih tzu dogs in the past four months — the youngest, Oreo, at age six on October 24, 2014 — and the oldest, Tilly Tot, at (about) age twelve on February 14, 2015. The first loss was agonizing; the second, paralyzing.

Oreo:  "My toy!"  A squeaky fave.  Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman

Oreo: “My toy!” A squeaky fave. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Oreo’s death, totally unexpected, left me in a rage of tears and anger. The pain wrenched at me so badly, I wondered how much more I could stand.  I cried even when I wasn’t aware of it, often waking up from a fitful sleep with tears on my cheeks. You see. Oreo was my loving buddy. While the other two played, or went outside in our big back yard, Oreo stayed by me, sleeping at my feet while I typed away on my computer. The two of us were together pretty much 365/24/7. His absence felt like one of my arms or legs was missing. How could I get along without it/him?

The Adorable Duo - Tilly Tot (rear left) and Ling Ling (front right).  (Photo credit:  (c) Sandra Bell Kirchman)

The Adorable Duo – Tilly Tot (rear left) and Ling Ling (front right). (Photo credit: (c) Sandra Bell Kirchman)

But I hadn’t taken into consideration our two remaining fur babies. Of course they missed Oreo, and they sensed that my mourning had something to do with him. In any event they redoubled their efforts to amuse, entertain, tease and titillate me. It seemed to be working a little.  By the beginning of February, I was able to sleep the night through and awaken with dry eyes and cheeks. I even started dabbling with my blog a bit, nothing too original, but at least I was thinking of returning and had my followers’ best interests blogwise at heart.

Tilly Tot comes to her forever home.

Little sweetheart,Tilly Tot

Then, on Valentine’s Day, our little sweetheart Tilly Tot passed on in the night from a blood clot after dental surgery. At first, grief encased me in a prison of numbness: I couldn’t cry, or laugh, or talk.  I moved around in a daze. After a few days, my outer appearance seemed normal — I talked, did my chores, poured love onto our one remaining fur child, Ling Ling.

However, inside was another story — my heart seemed crushed and my will to live retreated. Sleep became problematic, and I started looking really bad, to the point where the Big Guy (my husband) insisted I go to the doctor. The BG afterward told me I looked so bad, he would not have been surprised to come home from work to find me gone from the earthly plane.

A Ling Ling-Oreo-Tilly Tot story

Ling Ling – And then there was one…

On no account did this mean that I wanted to do myself in. On the contrary, I had made arrangements to start sessions with a grief counselor before Tilly passed, because of the slowness of regaining control of my life after the loss of Oreo. I fully intended to continue with this counselor…I wanted to live again, and I couldn’t as long as I wandered around the twilight zone I found myself in.

Next week, in Part 2, I’ll talk about the grief counseling, some of the other steps I have taken and the results. We are actually in the middle of my recovery: I am documenting it for my own reference, as well as for you in case, God forbid, you should find yourself in a similar situation.

 

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And then there was one…

Tilly Tot daytripping (with her human "sister"). Photo credit: Laurie M. Hamilton

Tilly Tot daytripping (with her human “sister”). Photo credit: Laurie M. Hamilton

With a heavy heart, I am letting you know that Tilly Tot, our elderly shih tzu rescue dog, passed away this morning after surgery. My husband and I are, as you might guess, completely devastated. Two of our three dogs gone in four months.

I thank you all for travelling on this journey with me. I will have to do some soul-searching, but I doubt I will continue this blog. Your interest in our three dogs has been gratifying. I am going to leave the blog up for a little while because I do believe that these articles are of interest to some people who haven’t seen them yet.

The Rebirth of Puppy Dog Tales

The Adorable Duo - Tilly Tot (rear left) and Ling Ling (front right). (Photo credit: (c) Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Hello, dear Puppy Dog Tales readers.  If you have read the preceding post, you will know why the month-long hiatus has occurred.  I have done much soul-searching about what to do with the Puppy Dog Tales blog.  As I mentioned before, without Oreo there didn’t seem to be much point.

Ling Ling and Tilly snuggling with Daddy.  Note where LL has placed her little butt.  Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Ling Ling and Tilly snuggling with Daddy. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Anyhow, with the realization of how much help Oreo had been to the entire family during his short life, I decided to continue this blog.  Some of it will be taken up with stories of other dogs.  I will be also sharing some stories of “the three Holy Terrors,” plus new stories on the Terrible Twosome (my new name for Tilly Tot and Ling Ling 🙂 ).

The first story in this new era will be published next Sunday, Nov. 30/14 (Thanksgiving weekend in the States). Thanks for being patient and bearing with me in this hard time, and thanks to all the people who offered comfort, support, and suggestions.  I’m not sure yet what the next story will be, but we’ll get back on track and carry on, and it’ll be fun.

P.S. Many thanks for the tender care that Dr. Audrey Tataryn and her wonderful staff took of Oreo in his last days at Prairie East Veterinary Clinic in Langenburg, Saskatchewan.

If you have any pet stories you
would like to share, please either
leave your comment below, or
email me at raya at fantasyfic dot com.

Text and photos copyrighted
© 2014 by Sandra Bell
Kirchman. All rights reserved.
(Vol. 14.11-1, Nov. 23, 2014)

Puppy Dogs Posing for Pictures

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling:  "Yes, we're quite comfortable, thank you for asking."

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling: “Yes, we’re quite comfortable, thank you for asking.”

Below is the gallery of photos that I promised you. Most of the shots show one or more of the three holy terrors–Ling Ling, Oreo, and Tilly Tot. A couple of pics of other dogs are thrown in to throw you off track. Just to refresh your memory, Ling Ling came to us first, by way of Pekabout Kennels in Calgary. Consequently, we have more pics of her than the other two.

Oreo came to us from another breeding kennel in Alberta, and, finally, Tilly Tot came to us because she needed to be rescued and had to have a forever home to live in. The time period for these pics range from April 2, 2007 (Ling Ling’s birthday) to the present.

I have inserted a brief comment under each image. If you want more information, check out some of the previous posts in this blog, starting at the Introduction.

For a larger view of the pictures, click on the first thumbnail photo. This will not only also reveal the caption, but it creates a sort of slide show, so you don’t have to switch back and forth. All the photos were taken by me (Sandra Bell Kirchman), except as otherwise credited. All the photos of Ling Ling on a baby blanket were taken by Pekabout Kennels; they belong to me. If you have any questions about the pictures or the stories, write to me at raya@fantasyfic.com. Please enjoy.

Good night, all.

Are you an avid shutterbug? Do you keep on snapping if your
pet(s) is/are seen napping ‘cuz they are so cute? We’d love to see them.
Send me your pics at raya@fantasyfic.com along with your name,
the name of your pet, and any caption you would like
to provide (optional).  Please also state you have
the rights to that photo and that you give
Puppy Dog Tales the right to publish it.  Thanks.

 (Next week watch for the horrible, adorable, doggie trick or treaters in “Halloweenies”)

Text copyrighted © 2014
by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
Photos copyrighted © as
marked. All rights reserved.
(Vol. 14.10-3, Oct. 19, 2014)

Adorable or Annoying – Tricks and Traits of Dogs – Part 2

Last week in Part 1, we talked about the unnerving tendency of proud pet parents (p.p.p.) to whip out their wallets and unfold a baker’s dozen pics of their fur babies. You, the reasonably innocent bystander, are expected to exclaim, ooh and ahh like any discriminating connoisseur of baby pictures, furred or otherwise. We took a look at the sweetness of Tilly Tot and the energetic cuteness of Ling Ling. Now we continue with an annoying trait of Ling Ling’s and some delightful or bothersome aspects of Oreo

Ling Ling – Cons

Ling Ling: "I know what I want and I want it now...please." (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Ling Ling hears a noise. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Ling Ling also has some annoying traits, for instance, her reaction to some noises. Three noises scare her to the brink of involuntary peeing…one is the sound of our toaster. It took us months to figure out why, since our toaster is comparatively quiet as toaster monsters go. We thought back a couple of years to remember that one time the toaster element trapped a piece of bread, which caused smoke to waft up and torment the fire alarm. That went off with a great hullaballoo and scared the behoosis out of Ling Ling. Apparently she connected the horrific alarm sound with using the toaster.

Krups Toaster

Krups Toaster (Photo credits: West Elm)

The second thing is Ernest’s air nailer gun. We still haven’t figured out why this frightens her so badly, while none of his other electric tools, like his drill and his stapler gun, produce no more than a cocked ear before she drifts back to sleep. The annoying part is the way she runs around like a headless chicken when the air nailer starts up. It is a crazy, unaware scrambling, and no amount of calming or holding or feeding or playing will distract her from this reaction. I’m not unkind, but, when it gets to this frenetic part, it drives me even battier than I usually am.

Ling Ling is also afraid of thunder (but only because Oreo has a real fear of it and she has picked that up).  Again she reverts to her headless chicken imitation, helping Oreo to keep everyone around her awake for the duration of the storm.

Oreo – Pro and Con

Cuddly Oreo. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Cuddly Oreo. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Oreo’s biggest cute trait is his lovability. He is willing to cuddle or be petted any time of the day.  After a remark made in a movie we watched, we promptly nicknamed him “Sergeant Snuggles.”  It fits him so well.

I would mention that he is willing to cuddle any time of the day “or night,” except that’s not true. At night, he is an untouchable. Oh, he’s polite enough, but he sets the boundaries right there. It’s time for bed, so no touching, no cuddling, no snuggling. It’s  fun to watch the way he communicates his bedtime rules. If you try to scoop him up in bed for a cuddle , he will politely but firmly decline by turning into a piece of cement. When you recoil in surprise, he wiggles out and belly crawls away to avoid recapture. You have to really want to play this nightly game to entice his unwilling wee body from the far end of the bed. I have found myself laughing so hard at his innocent little maneuvers that I shake myself up from drowsy mode to wide awake mode and have to work at getting sleepy all over again.

On the flip side, one of the most annoying things about Oreo is his greediness. He will eat almost anything (except lettuce or mushrooms – mushrooms aren’t good for him anyhow). He will go to any lengths to sneak food away from the other two. Ling Ling loves to take a treat outside to lie in the sun and dreamily munch away at it. Oreo will go out after her and start barking at some imaginary intruder presumably on the other side of the fence. Ling Ling will jump up immediately to add her voice to his in a valiant effort to scare the intruder away. Except his voice is no longer there. He is busy back at the treat site, gobbling up her treat.

Final Outcome

Tilly with pink tongue out

Sweetheart Tilly with little pink tongue sticking out between her teeth.  (Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman)

So here we are, late Sunday morning. Ernest is shingling the roof of the house with his air nailer gun. Ling Ling is going nuts, which is driving me to think unkind thoughts about my lovable little dog. Grrrr. It is approaching the noon hour and Oreo is pacing, waiting for his lunch, right now, if you please, Mummy. Grrrr. And Tilly Tot keeps flopping on the ground in front of me, wanting a belly rub, causing me to trip and throw my body sideways so I don’t crush the life out of her. Grrrr. Yet I wouldn’t trade one of them for the best behaved canine in the West…or the East for that matter.

Who’s a Big Cutie Pie, Then?

Who's the cutest of them all?  (Photo credit:

Who’s the cutest of them all? (Photo credit: “Background image courtesy of Stuart MilesFreeDigitalPhotos.net“)

Look at the photos and the fond smile on the face of the pet parent who is showing you pics of his/her baby. ‘Nuff said. 🙂

I know for a fact that Oreo, Ling Ling
and Tilly Tot are not the only adorable
pets on the block. Do you have any
stories about your pet’s cute
or annoying habits? We’d love to hear them.
Just insert your story in the comments section below.

(Watch next week for Part 1 of “Caring for Others’ Pets Temporarily”
 – Note:  This is, in part, the famous story of Alice the Cat.)

 

Text and photos copyright ©
2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman
except as otherwise marked.
All rights reserved.
(Vol. 14.9-2, Sept. 14, 2014

Adorable or Annoying – Tricks and Traits of Dogs – Part 1

Wanna See Pictures of My Fur Babies?

 

Wallet snapshot - one of many of proud dog parent's "baby."  (Image courtesy of Photokanok | FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Wallet snapshot of sleeping lab puppy – first of many of proud dog parent‘s “baby.” (Image courtesy of Photokanok | FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Wallet snapshot - second of many of proud dog parent's "baby." (Image courtesy of Photokanok | FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Wallet snapshot of golden lab’s profile – second of many of proud dog parent’s “baby.” (Image courtesy of Photokanok | FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Have you ever noticed that dog owners often act like proud parents, or even like proud grandparents? So, when their dogs do something cute, interesting, or funny, they are snapped with the ever-ready camera. Then, at the drop of a hint, like, “I love hot dogs,” they are likely to whip out their packet of photos and display them to you proudly. If you don’t GET it, like, why those pictures are so comment-worthy, the proud pet parent will be happy to explain in great detail. If you don’t get it the SECOND time, you just might earn a disappointed look, as the p.p.p. prepares to go through it a THIRD time.

Wallet snapshot of smiling lab - third of many of proud dog parent's "baby." (Image courtesy of luigi diamanti | FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Wallet snapshot of smiling lab – third of many of proud dog parent’s “baby.” (Image courtesy of luigi diamanti | FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Since I am no different from any other proud pet parent, I am going to whip out my virtual wallet. Unlike a chance meeting in a restaurant or the library, you will get an immediate opportunity to retaliate with a story and/or picture of your pet’s cute or pesky traits in the comments below. (Note: If you have a pic you want to share, let me know and we’ll arrange to post it.)

 

Framed picture of pretty Tilly.  (Photo Credit: Laurie M. Hamilton)

Framed picture of pretty Tilly. (Photo Credit: Laurie M. Hamilton)

Tilly Tot’s Cuteness

One of the cutest dogs I have ever had the pleasure of observing is Tilly Tot. She is what they call a sweetheart dog, and one of her signature activities is going kersplat on the floor right in front of you and rolling over, legs askew, for a belly rub. Now, many dogs do this, but what makes Tilly so special is that she shows her dreamy pleasure by sticking the tip of her little pink tongue out between her teeth as you pet her. Yup, it’s adorable.

 

Framed picture of pretty Tilly  Photo Credit: Laurie M. Hamilton

Framed picture of an excited Ling Ling. (Photo Credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Ling Ling – Pros

A cute habit of Ling Ling’s involves the full use of her back yard. I believe I have mentioned about how Ling Ling loves her yard. One of her favourite activities is to run laps around the yard carrying a stuffed toy in her teeth. When she was little, the toys were frequently bigger than she was, so she would bounce them off the ground as she walked or ran. That way she could keep them from falling or preventing her from running. It produced a cute bobbing sort of run as she bounced Mousie or Whiskers along on the ground.

Now that she is older, bigger and presumably wiser, does she just run without the bob? Nosirree, she bobs just as she always did, but she has to reach further down to bounce the stuffed toy, so it’s kind of a run, stop, bounce, bob, run, stop, bounce, bob. One of her cuter tricks.

 

I know for a fact that Oreo, Ling Ling
and Tilly Tot are not the only adorable
dogs on the block. Do you have any
stories about your pet’s cute
or annoying habits? We’d love to hear them.
Just insert your story in the comments section below.

 

(Watch next week for Part 2 of Adorable or Annoying – Tricks and Traits of Dogs)

 

Text and photos copyright ©
2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman
except as otherwise marked.
All rights reserved.
(Vol. 14.9-1, Sept. 7, 2014

The Proper Way to Cuddle a Dog – Part 2

Last week, we looked at cuddling dogs in general and Oreo and Ling Ling in particular. We found out that sometimes it’s a question of who is cuddling whom. Continuing with our saga of cuddliness, we move to our third dog, Tilly Tot.

L-R: Ling Ling (background), Oreo Blizzard (foreground), Tilly Tot (right), Daddy in background. The Kirchman cuddlers taking a nap break. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

L-R: Ling Ling (background), Oreo Blizzard (foreground), Tilly Tot (right), Daddy in background. The Kirchman cuddlers taking a nap break. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Shih Tzu On, Shih Tzu Off

Speaking of Tilly, whoever had her before we found her had trained her to stay off the furniture. She would only come up if you specifically invited her. Our ruffian youngsters, Ling Ling and Oreo, jump up on any of the padded furniture whenever they please…and we let them.

Disclaimer:  Before we go any further, let me once again proclaim my proviso. I am not a pet expert in anything except loving my dogs. If you prefer to keep your dogs off the furniture and/or off your bed, that’s perfectly fine with me. If you have a super way of training your dogs, for goodness sakes, tell me. Don’t look to Puppy Dog Tales as the ultimate authority on how to groom, feed, and care for your shih tzu. You might find different ways to love them, or pick up some pointers you didn’t know, but there are plenty of other sites to find expert advice on the technical side of looking after your pet. /disclaimer off

Tilly Tot

Brad Pitt

Daddy is the Brad Pitt of doggy heroes for the canine groupies in our family.  Source:  http://www.last.fm/music/Brad%2BPitt

Okay, back to Tilly. She pranced in delight at becoming one of the family, despite the almost overwhelming waves of jealousy that Ling Ling exuded towards her. Tilly loves being up on the bed and cuddling…with Daddy mostly. He is the Brad Pitt of doggy heroes for the canine groupies in our family—oh, wait, and for me too!  Anyhow, all three dogs adore him. So it’s no wonder that Tilly loves being with him, especially in his recliner in the living room or on the bed at nap time. However, at night she prefers to sleep in one of her many cozy little beds around the house.

I just counted them…6 proper dog beds and 4 dog floor pillows! Believe it or not, Tilly will sleep in all of them; of course, not at the same time. Mind you, the other two can sleep in any of them if they want, but the lure of their daddy doggy hero draws them to cuddling with him in bed at night. So, if you count dog-type riches by ownership of doggy beds, then Tilly must be one of the richest dogs in the world!

Getting There and Back Again

The sweetheart of the Kirchman clan.  Photo credit:  Laurie Hamilton, P.Biol.

The sweetheart of the Kirchman clan. Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton, P.Biol.

This next point isn’t exactly about cuddling but has a lot to do with getting to and from the cuddling target area. As you might have noticed, shih tzus are not exactly high off the ground when they are standing still. They can leap and jump, some better than others, but at a standstill they measure only 1 to 2 feet off the ground. That means that leaping up on high beds is difficult. If you want them there, you might have to help.

The point of this, however, is jumping down. If they start too young, they can create back problems later in life. This is true of all small dogs, and especially ones with long backs like dachshunds. Tilly is the smallest of our bunch and she can’t always make it up on her own. She jumps down on her own, but I am thinking we should start lifting her down, because it seems to be quite a jolt to her little system.

Ernest’s Interim Solution

Ernest came up with a solution that seems to work splendidly for Oreo and Tilly.  Ling Ling is far too independent to use any kind of aid but the other two are delighted with their ramp.  Actually, it’s just a box that Ernest built.  It’s long enough to give them room for a run up onto the bed and half the height of the floor to the top of the bed, so it lets them jump up on the bed in stages.

This solves the problem of jumping up on the bed; unfortunately, neither of them uses it for getting off the bed.  So I’m still trying to lift them down whenever I can.  With Oreo being so overweight, lifting him presents a problem for me, but I can manage lifting little Tilly okay, if I’m around when she wants down, This is rare.   I’ll let you know how that goes.  In the meantime, if you have any solutions for this problem, I’d love hearing them.

Do you let your dogs up on the bed with you?
If they are small, is there a problem getting
them up and down from high places?
If you would like to share that story, please
just enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly invites you to “Leave a Comment.”

 

 (Next week watch for My Hero Dog – with Dorky Deb – Part 1)

 

Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14-4.4, April 26, 2014)

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