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Redux: Pediatric Sterilization and Problems, as predicted

Hi Everyone,

It’s been years since I’ve checked in… busy with life and trying to paint. Photographing my work and blogging about art or life and the critters I love just doesn’t seem to happen.

This will be a short post…just to make sure I remember how to do it 🙂

At any rate, that beautiful puppy I wrote about two years (after the death of Zolton)…well he has four bum-limbs. In fact, the orthopod has written him up as having “four lame limbs.”

Without going into it too much tonight let’s just say he was born with elbow dysplasia which was undiagnosed and has now developed into Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP) and severe arthritis in BOTH elbows.

As if that isn’t enough, he has two partially torn ACLs (dog version) requiring TPLO surgery. HUGE undertaking. Totally pissed. The cost is staggering. The rehab for both knees is almost a year and no one knows what the hell we can do about the severe mess that are his elbows.

All he does is lie around clearly not trying to indicate his pain. All of this, I’m conjecturing is due to, at least in part, pediatric sterilization!! The research shows that there can be problems with the bones of dogs who have had their hormones messed with due to this inhumane practice. My Lord! These are babies and we are neutering them when they are infants and they haven’t even had a chance to produce hormones naturally and allow their growth plates to close.

So that’s it. All I can share of this tragic tale tonight. I had this premonition 2 years ago and, alas, my instincts were spot on. Now I have a sweet, loving darling with more issues than anyone knows what to do with.

I’ll catch you later on this.


Derby is Settling In

About 6 weeks ago I posted my concerns of making a huge mistake in adopting a new puppy so soon after the loss of Zolton. I really couldn’t bond with this dog. People told me that it would take some time. I’ve hung in there and, I have to admit, the new puppy, Derby, is growing on me.

He is sleeping through the night; has stopped growling, attacking and biting me whenever I work with him. He has surprised even the most astute trainer. Yes, he is settling in.

I do need to say that I am still LOOKING for a Newfoundland-mix as I just adore the breed though I don’t want a purebred. Truly, I want a Newfoundland-Lab mix, which is not easy to find.

So……….if anyone out there  hears of a young, male Newf-mix in need of a good home, please give me a shout.

Until then, Derby will continue to assimilate into life in this household and I will continue to bond with him, I’m sure. Everyone else in the house adores him.

No Substitute for my Buddy – further devastation

Well I have to admit, I screwed up. I adopted a puppy, Derby, as discussed in an earlier post, in a futile attempt to replace my Zolton (pictured below).


What a tremendous mistake. I was heart-set on finding a Newfoundland-Lab mix like Zolt–now even considered a new “designer” breed yet impossible to find such a breeder.

This new puppy, Derby, while cute, is a train wreck, Tasmanian devil! In fact, he has been renamed, Taz, as he is like a special needs child!


We have done all we could to bring him to us…..from Kentucky to Michigan to Ohio to Pennsylvania. We spent quite a lot of money for an adoption fee (for a dog that is a homeless mutt which leads one to realize why there are so many dogs needing homes as many people can’t afford such fees). The hoops the Rescue Group put me through were unbelievable. He came with no clear medical records and once I received them we realized shots were given at times they shouldn’t have been given…..he was already neutered which I was aware of and not thrilled about, etc.

We took him to the vet and while he was never presented as a Newf-Lab mix he was definitively said to be a Pyrenees mix (from feral Pyrenees mother) and possibly a Newfoundland for a father.

I took him to the vet as soon as we got him. He did not have the dew claw foot which my vet said absolutely every Pyrenees has. He is black when 99% of all Pyrenees are white and……well, he just looks and acts like a spaniel.

I hate spaniels. I have never known one that wasn’t unpredictable–one that never bit. In fact, my son, when he was three, was bitten by a friends’ spaniel, the dog hanging on his little eyebrow, which ended with us taking him to the ER.

Derby, I mean, Taz, is quite dominant and unruly and when corrected, growls and bites. My husband says it is “puppy” behavior but ZOLTON NEVER GROWLED IN HIS LIFE….NOR BIT….PUPPY OR ADULT DOG. Again, he was perfect. This dog doesn’t understand that he is not the ruler of this pack! I try to roll him on his back, the submissive position, and tell him “NO” sternly, which seems to further provoke him where he actually lunges at me.

Now I’m left to wonder, what the hell to do. I don’t want to further bond with him and have to give him up in two years. For that will surely add insult to injury.

Perhaps I was too hasty in getting another dog though many said it would ease the pain of my loss. At this point, it has served to exacerbate the pain.

I’d love to hear from you. Now I’m in limbo!

Say NO to pediatric sterilization!!

Hi folks,

I still haven’t written about Zolton’s very last few days. I can’t at the moment. I’m a wreck. But I am trying to heal the pain with a new puppy, however, finding one is really, really hard!!

I’m trying to do the right thing and get a “rescue” puppy but the rescue-community is dogmatically self-righteous in insisting upon pediatric sterilization. This is horrible for the animal–you are interrupting that angel’s normal hormonal development–and many cancers are linked to it. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of the research:

I found one boy I really want, named Derby. He’s a Pyrenees mix–possibly with Newfoundland:Image

I simply don’t like that he’s been neutered.

And then I LOVED these Newfie-mixed litter mates. One’s father might have been lab, the other’s Rottie. HAPPY is the one who might have a lab for a daddy, (below),


And Kenji, Happy’s brother, probably had a Rottie for a daddy.


My issue with these boys (well actually I would only take Happy) is twofold. First and very seriously, they may have been exposed to Parvo which is a deadly virus. The Rescue group has them in quarantine for two weeks (but they really need 21 days). And secondly, she is absolutely 100% adamant  about neutering these boys as soon as they come out of quarantine. I begged…I mean BEGGED for her to give me the latitude to neuter him when it was physically prudent to do so and she flat out refused. REFUSED. No case-by-case assessment here. Just plain, full on, self-righteous dogma. And, hey, it’s her right. They are her dogs. But she wants me to make my decision tonight, before we even know if the dog will make it and that, to me, is unreasonable. Therefore, I am going to pass on the dog.

I think it is important for more of us to pass on these dogs. To not do business with these rescuers and puppy mills that know the facts and continue to operate within their flawed paradigms!

So what do you think? Does Derby look like Zolton when he was a puppy?


I think so.

Now can I get over the early-neutering thing?


Rest in Peace, my love

January 1, 2000 – May 10, 2012

Zolton on the beach in Bay Head, NJ

A Close Call on Several Fronts

Last Friday a girlfriend from the city came out to visit with us, bringing along her lab, Lucy, to possibly cheer up Zolton. It sort of worked. They ran around together, Zolton getting all charged up when Lucy took an interest in one of Zolton’s faux bones he hadn’t been interested in in years. I guess even dogs want what they can’t have.

Being a New Yorker, Lucy was having a particularly fun time out here in the country,–visiting a place she had never been before as well as having had the good fortune to have a dinner date with a perfectly lovely gentleman…..that would be, Zolton. Though Zolton was slightly confused by her visit (who the heck is she??) and slightly irritated to have his bone moved and hidden (Lucy took it out in the yard and buried it in a flower bed :), he seemed happy to be entertained by such a lovely novelty.

I made a Mario Batali Tuscan steak recipe for dinner, calling for a Porterhouse cut of beef. I made it before and it is just delicious (sliced rare on a bed of arugula). Although I’m not much of a meat eater, this is an easy meal, and that’s what I’m all about these days–EASY.  We had a great time, my friend not believing how great Zolton looked considering his many tumors.

Saturday, I asked my husband if he thought Zolton might like the T-bone from dinner the night before (I had saved it for him) and he thought it would be fine. So……I gave him a nice, juicy T-bone. VERY DUMB MOVE but I didn’t know. I never had a dog before and I don’t know what bones are acceptable, what aren’t. Having way too much insanity in my life, I never stuck around to see if Zolt ate the entire bone or just the meat off the bone. Totally stupid on my part!

Things were fine until Sunday morning.

I fed Zolton a big bowl of food that I have been mixing for him: boiled chicken, organic dog food, some pumpkin (for digestion) and some chicken broth. He gobbled it down and everything seemed fine. We went to church.

After the service, we got a call from the alarm company saying that they were detecting a signal from our front door. This door never opens. I called the neighbor to check it out. Turns out Zolton had opened the front door. Very weird, indeed.

When we came up our driveway, we saw Zolton outside sitting under a tree near a pile of mulch that had just been delivered.

We really didn’t think much of it beyond how weird it was that he actually opened the mammoth front door!

Several hours later as I’m doing some work, my son frantically runs into my office and informs me that his father cannot breathe! WHAT?????

“Dad is cleaning the flagstone patio and inhaled some of the chemicals fumes, we think…..HE CAN’T BREATHE. YOU NEED TO CALL 911.”

So much for a peaceful Sunday afternoon.

I run out with the phone, call 911, and wait……and wait…..and wait…..while my husband is panting, telling us he is simply going to suffocate. I called 911 again. They said the ambulance has already been dispatched and all we can do is wait. I then call Poison Control in Atlanta and go over the chemical concoction that was apparently inhaled (it was muriatic acid and bleach–DON’T EVER DO THIS!). The woman tells me that this is a very common (very common? really???) occurrence and that the victims generally live if they get to a hospital in time. What happens is that the lungs actually start constricting and you can’t breathe.

At this point, I’m bordering on panic. I call 911 AGAIN. They said for the third time that the ambulance has been dispatched and all I could do is wait. I believe I started swearing since they hung up on me. We live in the country but 20 minutes for a rescue vehicle??? I am going to lodge a complaint to someone….not sure who yet.

Now my husband is seriously having difficulty and can barely talk. He is telling us that we need to take him to the hospital….that he loves us…..

I don’t know what to do. I don’t have oxygen in my car and am not trained in emergency care.

Now 4 firetrucks are parked down on the road; firemen are walking up the driveway only to be greeted by me, running down, freaking out. They barely responded. They were completely nonplussed and would not offer oxygen. I don’t think they are allowed, but still………they did nothing! I think they came because the 911 operator thought this gas mixture occurred in the house and that a fire might result. All they did was calmly inform me that the ambulance was on it’s way. WHERE???? WHEN???? MY HUSBAND IS DYING!!!!!!

Within minutes, the ambulance did arrive, though it seemed like hours, and they did saunter over to my poor husband who was in a heap on the lawn. I ran into the house and got my car keys and purse. This is when I saw the violent purge that Zolton left all over the living room (from both ends) which explains his panic in trying to get out of the house. He didn’t want to make such a mess so he opened that front door. What a good dog. Now a sick dog. But I had to keep my priorities straight. I wasn’t certain my husband would make it through this day.

So after I knew that my husband had the oxygen he needed and was in the ambulance, my son and I took off in our car and started out towards the hospital. In fact, we were almost there when we pulled over and allowed the ambulance to overtake us.

Very thankfully, I can say, he got the care he needed and he will be alright. But it was a very, very, very close call!!!! Apparently, the muriatic acid amplifies the bleach and makes a lethal dose of chlorinated gas, much like Hitler used on those poor souls during his terrorizing regime. His lungs were affected though they don’t think that there will be permanent damage. They wanted to keep him overnight to keep a watch on him but he declined the suggestion and opted to go home (I know: this is my husband; what can I say?). They said that if a person makes it through the acute period of the first 24 hours, they usually do fine and that there will be no residual damage to the lungs. However, who the hell knows. There is no literature on this stuff. My husband is a trail blazer!!!

So when we finally get home, we find Zolton, now lying in the grass where my husband had been. He looks sick, sad and nervous. Poor, poor dog.

Zolton cemented to his daddy’s spot in the yard

As I work to clean up the mess of the day, Zolton looks so upset with himself, as he sees me try to get the stains out of a grass seisel rug. I tell him that it isn’t his fault but I still haven’t made the connection with the bone.  We just think that he is slipping…..really slipping…..and that we will need to do the compassionate act, very, very soon.

He doesn’t eat all day Monday. He doesn’t move. I call the vets and am getting the family geared up for this tragic ending. They convince me to give him another day. Every one is most concerned; particularly, a party of three felines. Schmidt is most concerned:

Schmidt is very troubled!

Catfish, too:

Moshie from another vantage point:

Moshie keeping watch, too

(I only have three cats but I agree: I am becoming a bit of a collector).

Tuesday, he starts eating a little bit of chicken I hand-feed him. But he won’t go near that bowl….the bowl that fed him his last meal.

I need to run out for a few hours but we have a yard-man who is checking on him as he works on the garden beds and distributes the mulch. I get a call at lunch time telling me not to rush home; that Zolton is outside and seems better. He is eating and walking around.

We decide to give it another day. I talk to the vet who tells me that he probably got a severe case of pancreatitis from that damn bone!!!! And it might take a week until he feels a little better. He was also likely traumatized by all the action and the sirens on Sunday.

And so we go… day at a time. Zolton is actually eating again–as much as I am willing to feed him, though NOT from his bowl–the bowl from which that Sunday breakfast was dispensed. Talk about conditioning!

We are thanking God for my husband’s life. Thanking God for our health, the health of our family and our beautiful dog–a dog that has given us so much more than we could possibly give in return. I wish I could fix what is going on inside this dog. I wish I could shrink these tumors. I wish my hands could still heal. Only God knows when this sad day will be upon us. Until then, I continue to try to be in the moment, loving the dog as much as I can.

Just putting one foot in front of the other

….trying to be mature. That’s what my mother has told me my entire life: “BE MATURE!” “You need to learn how to handle things in life.” Well I’m trying and just because I’m 50-something doesn’t mean I’m getting any better or more “mature.”

Zolton on the beach in Bay Head, NJ

Death is part of the life cycle which no one has figured out how to circumvent, right? It has or will happen to all of us at some point; some of us are luckier than others and get to enjoy our loved ones for a longer amount of time. My dad lived until he was just short of 87 years of age–a good long time for anyone, that is for sure, however, even with his long, protracted, chronic illness, it was not easy for me. Now Zolton is dying and I am trying to brace myself if that is at all possible.

If you’ve read some of the older posts you’ll see that our beautiful newfoundland-labrador mix dog was recently diagnosed with cancer throughout his lovely body. Pelvis, Abdominal cavity, lymph nodes, adrenal glands, lungs, liver and possibly brain. And the point of origin was the anal gland which is often the case in most dogs……and please note that many vets don’t customarily do rectal exams in annual appointments and this is critical.

So as I exist, day to day, on high-alert, I try to pretend all is normal the way the rest of my family is dealing with the impending sadness coming our way. At first I would lie down with the dog, wherever he happened to be flopping, and talk to him, pray with him (I previously mentioned that I read the story of Noah’s Ark to him), cry with him, and scratch his belly. When I’d turn around, I’d have an audience of three felines wondering just what the hell happened to Mommy and what is going on with the big bear.

Resting a lot

I have also done some browsing on Petfinder to see if there might EVER POSSIBLY be a puppy-mutt as cute as Zolton. I mean he was an odd-ball mix–Newfoundland and Labrador. What I sadly discovered is that they are now breeding this “designer” mix, now called a Labrafound!! YUCK (note: I will never buy such a mix. I am determined to rescue as long as I am alive), however, I must admit that there are some cute puppies out there in the shelters. Some that actually closely resemble Zolton. But they aren’t Zolton. 😦 I even called the shelter in upstate New York from which we rescued Zolton originally, to see if there might be another litter like these guys. No luck. “Not puppy season,” I was told. I’m not sure why.

If I’m planning to leave the house for a long time, I will get a babysitter or send Zolton to the office with my husband. I send in food which I make especially for Zolton. While I once actually cooked on a yacht for a living (for a very short time a long, long time ago), my family will tell you that I most complain about turning out the requisite evening meal each night. But I don’t mind cooking for Zolton. He gets anything he wants. Steak, chicken, sushi…even McDonalds. Thankfully, he is still eating. Perhaps the steroids are stimulating his appetite.

Last week we went for walks and he would roll in the grass. But this week I was busy. I am going to take him out tomorrow….I promise. I’m hoping he can still make it.

just picking up some flees and tics

I’m remembering the fun we had when he was younger and my son was small.

Zolty and Georgie about 7 years ago.

There was always a wrestling match or a tug of war going on which usually ended with clothing in shreds. I will admit that there was a time when this dog enraged me. He was a puppy who chewed anything and everything…..handles off expensive handbags and straps off equally as expensive sandals. He chewed the arms off TWO beautiful wooden armed-chairs; the mud flaps off my nanny’s car; a hole in the brand new Frontgate hammock. He even ripped apart a gorgeous cashmere velvet settee in my living room made with the most expensive fabric I have in this house. Since it was a one of a kind piece, I actually ordered 8 more yards of this same fabric and had the piece reupholstered. And, you guessed it, he did it again!!! We always have wondered if there wan’t a heroin stash in the springs of that piece. And,  yes, I actually bought another 8 yards of the fabric and had it stored away for a time when Zolton was no longer with us. And now that day is soon approaching. Sadly, I’d rather have my shredded Ralph Lauren settee and my dog happy and healthy. Who wouldn’t?

And then there were those long, awful baseball games to which I would take my big bear….

I had to have been the most miserable mother at the field. I know! I should support my son’s athletic pursuits……and I DO!!! Just never liked baseball….and thankfully, he doesn’t either anymore.

And of course, I’m going to be sad to be swimming my laps without my buddy who would swim right along with me…..

….until he got bored and decided to further taunt the resident frogs.

Yes, all these things I will miss.

I think I am almost as hyper-vigilant as when my son was a newborn. I am not sure when I will know when the pain is too much for him. We have cut back on the steroids, as per the vet, though I am fearful that he will immediately fall to pieces. We are giving him his daily doses of pain medications. We take him out to go potty all the time….just in case….(which we never did before because he never had any accidents) after which my husband always lures him with a piece of cheese upstairs to our bedroom so we can all cuddle with him and watch television. Even Moshie, the Maine Coon cat, willingly shares the bed with him.

But then I hear him cough and pant and I wonder if it isn’t too much for him. My husband thinks he isn’t  yet in pain. I have also found two vets which are willing to come to the house, when the time comes, rather than have to take him to an animal hospital. Good Lord! That has got to be the worst though the alternative isn’t much better. I have made arrangements to have him cremated because I don’t want to bury him and leave him behind when I finally convince my husband to move….

These are the awful things I am struggling with but I want you to know what I am working on: I am trying to take it day by day–enjoying every moment we have together–rather than projecting what miserable thing lies ahead. I’m also trying not to withdraw from the dog emotionally which I have also caught myself doing. It’s a spiritual task. Truly it is….learning to live FULLY in the moment. Why should I cloud the time we have being sorrowful (because I know what is coming…I know!!)? Clearly Zolton is so astutely sensitive, he is picking up on my grief. He, too, is grieving in his own way, I am sure. But we weren’t promised eternity here on earth. We aren’t supposed to get too comfortable here since it isn’t our real and permanent home. I go on record telling my husband not to buy me anymore good jewelry and I mean it. These things of the world are just not important to me anymore.

I read a passage in one of my favorite devotional books, “Jesus Calling,” where the daily entry spoke directly to me: “This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control. In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete.” “As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.” “You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence.” “The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes….” “As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand.”

So with faithful eyes and a hopeful heart, I try to focus on Christ, LOVE, and peace, resting in the comfort of my God and His promises.