Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Final Adventures of Frodo the Faller – a Trooper to the End

 The introduction of two beautiful Somali kittens to the Crowthorne Crew in February resulted also in the introduction of ringworm. It is not caused by worms but by a fungus belonging to the Tinea family. It creates intensely itchy spots which are very painful when scratched. Bertie and I seemed to be the worst affected but naturally Frodo had to share the experience. At the same time he had another outbreak of sarcoptic mange (canine scabies) on his shoulder, four months after the first attack.
He had also been experiencing recurrent stomach upsets. Courses of antibiotics and a change to an hypoallergenic diet helped – his appetite was unaffected – a greedy Dalmatian is greedy to the endJ

However, it was clear that he was slowly deteriorating. His system seemed to be breaking down and each new problem or setback took him longer to overcome. He began to sleep longer and longer, sometimes as long as eighteen hours, and each time I hoped and prayed he would quietly slip away but he wouldn’t. The mange on his shoulder broke down within two weeks into a wound that refused to heal, despite antibiotics, and it was clear that he would soon be in a great deal of pain if it were left to attack the underlying tissues and expose the bone. So, with great sadness, we let him go. We were comforted by the knowledge that he had spent so much time with the vets that he was never afraid of visiting them and so his final moments were with people he trusted and who loved him.

Frodo was hard work when he first came home with us at five months old. He liked all our family dogs but any unknown dogs were a challenge and he would always make the first aggressive advance. Even in his (short!) show career he would attempt to take lumps out of other dogs as he galloped past them. For that reason and also because he never really liked shows we stopped subjecting him to them. In any case, the small rings at dog shows don’t really allow dogs to show their full potential. There is nothing finer than seeing a healthy animal at full stretch in the countryside.

Eventually Frodo learnt to be more trusting and in his final years he bore the attentions of puppies and other dogs with grace. He was such a special dog – he had so many problems but he bore them all with stoic determination. He was my Velcro dog, never happier than when he had me in his sight. Indeed, when we went walking together he checked on me every few seconds. Sometimes I would hide from him and he would rush back, a concerned expression on his face. His relief when he ‘found’ me was palpable. He was gentle with small children, the other dogs and the cats. Anyone could steal his food from his bowl as he ate and he wouldn’t murmur, quite unlike his Labrador companions! He was the top dog but never lorded it over the others. If he wanted a particular bed he would loom over the occupant until he or she moved. Naturally the cats refused to move and so he would climb in and lie down on them. They moved then!

Like all Dalmatians (or was it just ours?) he was an inveterate thief and we had to hang the rubbish out of his reach as normal bins were no defence against his raids. The medication he took twice daily to try and control his epileptic seizures made him ravenous, constantly seeking food, not always from an appropriate source. He started to eat Frankie’s books because they had miniscule applications of food on them – toddlers are so apt to deposit tasty morsels everywhere! His tablets also caused him to ‘leak’ and thus he wore wraps or ‘loin cloths’ which added to his dignity rather than diminishing it. He was much admired, even in old age, in the forest, my elegant, loping boy. In latter months he wore a harness which enabled us to lift him if he got stuck somewhere as occasionally his hind legs let him down and he couldn’t extricate himself from whichever flower tub or bush that had trapped him.

He taught us such a lot. We learnt how to comfort him after he had had a seizure and was unaware of his surroundings – how frightening that must be. We learnt how to lift him into the car for the journey to the forest where he loved to walk. We learnt to be patient when he had ‘accidents’ in the house because he couldn’t move fast enough to reach the door. He was a fastidious dog and hated to be dirty.

We miss him – it’s only been four weeks – and I have not yet broken the night-time listening habit that developed after his seizures began, ten years ago. I am sure Bertie misses him, too, for he spends much time wanting reassurance from us.

So ends thirty years of Dalmatian companions. I think we shall not have another – all four of ours had different health problems, though the first, Cariadd, was the strongest and the longest-lived.

Our last walk together . . . 

 Frodo was fun, a character and a wonderful companion. He gave such love, such trust. Sleep well, my boy, in starlight.

 Frodo - Washakie Lord of the Rings: 06.12. 2001 - 23.03.2015

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Entropy Gang's November 2014 blog

The Entropy Gang’s November 2014 blog (formerly Conservatory Cats’ Chats)

Now we are two
(top to bottom) Isambard, Jellicoe, Herschel
Herschel: A great deal has happened in the past year, not all of it to our immediate liking. We were perfectly content with our accommodation and our companions, until . . .

Isambard:  . . . one day, Susannah, a servant from one of The MAID’s and The THINKER’s litters, moved in with a very small Servant. Did you know that most Servants only have litters of one? So wasteful – much easier to have five or six or seven at a time though I rather think Servants would not be able to cope. Anyway, Susannah and the small Servant, Frankie, moved in and they brought with them another CAT! We were affronted at first but soon became interested.

Jellicoe: We were irritated that part of the house had now been shut off to us but understood that the Incomers needed room for themselves. We have not been formally introduced to the CAT but understand her name is Cleopatra, though she is usually called Pats or Patricia.

Herschel: We are quite sure we would all be friends. After all, she is an Abyssinian, but the Servants are playing very safe. They say she will be allowed into the rest of the house when the FENCE is erected and we can play in the GARDEN. We are looking forward to that - and have been for some time.

Isambard: We thought we would be able to go and introduce ourselves to Pats. We can all open doors now but the Servants have done something to the door handle into Susannah’s domain, something about UPSIDE DOWN. We shall persevere and discover the secret to opening it.

Jellicoe: We like Susannah and we even like Frankie now that he’s learnt to be gentle with us. Two more even smaller Servants, part of our Servants’ FAMILY, came to visit yesterday so we went upstairs and stayed there until they had gone.
Frankie and Isambard
Herschel: We always make ourselves scarce if things get too noisy or busy but Isambard doesn’t hide under the STAIRS like he used to.

Isambard: I think the thing that has disturbed us most has been the introduction of another DOG, called Lolly. She is a baby dog – I believe the Servants call her a PUPPY. She doesn’t live here all the time.

Jellicoe: No, she belongs to another of The MAID’s and The THINKER’s litters, Bethan. She brings her to visit so that the Servants’ DOGS can get to know her.

Herschel: When she first came into the house she was very small, smaller even than Jellicoe, who is the smallest of us three brothers. I started stalking her. The Servants didn’t seem to like that but I was only doing what comes naturally.

Isambard: The next time she came she was bigger and each time after that she had grown some more.

Jellicoe: Now she’s taller than Jenna but she still hasn’t learnt the correct etiquette for dealing with her superiors. We have been very patient and have not even hissed at her – well, only once or twice.

Herschel: I’m sure eventually she will learn the error of her ways and then we shall be able to snuggle up with her like we do with the Servants’ DOGS.

Isambard: Until then we shall retain the high ground and gaze down on her.

Jellicoe: Christmas will be here soon – we enjoyed it last year and we think this year will be even better. Happy Christmas everyone!
Herschel and Jellicoe leap for the feathers

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller - Loving the Attention

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller – Loving the Attention
Having got back into the rhythm of Visiting the Vet Frodo has had an interesting few weeks. First there was blood in his urine – lots of it! A scan revealed he may have a tumour in his bladder but we decided there would be no invasive surgery. Nadia-the-Vet said he might live for another year. We were very sad but reminded ourselves that he has had and is still having a very good life, despite his problems. More antibiotics were prescribed and there has been no more blood.

Frodo has been subject to epileptic seizures since he was nearly three years old; they are sporadic and don’t last long but recently he had five seizures in less than twenty-four hours and they exhausted him. The following day he had a dramatically upset stomach in the middle of the night (and the middle of our bedroom!) We took him downstairs and watched him carefully. He seemed uncomfortable and we were worried that he might be having another attack of bloat. Our vets were closed so Barry took him to the emergency vets seven miles away and he was put on a drip to rehydrate him. Barry got home at 2.00 a.m. and had to collect him from the emergency vets at 7.30. Frodo then had to spend the day with our vets on a drip and we were told he would stay there overnight. However, he got into a bit of a state and was tangling himself in the feed tube so we brought him home.
All returned to normal for a few weeks until one morning we noticed Bertie licking Frodo’s leg. Blood was trickling down it and we thought it might be in his urine again. When I looked his urine was fine but he had what looked like a gash on his thigh, as though he had caught his leg on a bramble. Another trip to the vet disclosed that he had an abscess that had burst. Again there was a suspicion that it might be more sinister but a course of antibiotics cleared it up. Julie-the-Vet advised that the skin medication was affecting his immune system and that he should stop taking it. Frodo had lost quite a lot of weight in recent weeks – he had been 29 kilos but had dropped a kilo and a half. Although he looked thin he was quite as lively and hungry as ever so I started supplementing his two meat meals with two of cereal, milk and eggs. Within six days he gained two kilos.

A couple of weeks later he had another stomach upset and lost a kilo.  Julie-the-Vet prescribed more antibiotics for him and I fed him just eggs scrambled in water for a couple of days to give his system a chance to recover. He now has cooked food because although he loves raw food his digestive system can’t seem to tolerate it.

It’s a delicate balancing act trying to feed Frodo enough to keep him satisfied and at a good weight without overloading his system. He has just had another cluster of four seizures in twelve hours. He was very disorientated and got lost in our garden in the middle of the night. He slept all day yesterday and ate nothing but is his usual ravenous self today. Each incident knocks him back and each recovery takes a little longer but he is a fighter. Nonetheless, we know his days are numbered and fear that his next adventure may be his final one. Luckily he doesn’t know that and enjoys his food, his walks and the company of those who love him.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Blue for Danger?

Blue for Danger?

In an attempt to reduce the number of wild life deaths Luxembourg has installed blue reflectors on its roads. A similar system is in place in Germany.

You can read about the scheme here.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Frankie - August 2014

Frankie - August 2014

Frankie is twenty months old now and full of life. He sleeps well at night – if Pats the Cat doesn’t disturb him – she woke him at 5:00 this morning! Mornings are usually busy times and he has a nap in the afternoon. Well, that’s the theory. Often he experiences a resurgence of energy when he goes to bed and spends the time he should be sleeping practising his songs and words, talking to his toys, shrieking with laughter and romping up and down his cot. How do we know this? Apart from the noise (!) we have a camera focused on him and thus we can see when he has divested himself of his nappy and can rush upstairs to remedy matters. He now has ‘going to bed’ trousers which he has not yet managed to take off though he watches closely when he is dressed in them to see if he can work out the magic formula!

He has great fun with his little cousin Isla (our great-granddaughter) who is four months younger than him. They don’t see each other very often – Isla lives quite a long way away and when they do meet they don’t exactly play together, rather alongside each other with their paths crossing, or more likely colliding! They both love music and dance with enormous energy. Bath time is entertaining for both of them, with the bath full of books and toys. 

Sometimes, Frankie needs a little distraction/relaxation and then he sits on my knee and watches Postman Pat or Thomas the Tank Engine. Postman Pat appears to be outstripping Thomas in the favourites stakes at present.

He had a haircut today. Can you see the difference in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos?

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Berkshire, United Kingdom
Wife, mother, grandmother, Always curious, good listener, interested in people. I'm on Twitter @jabblog