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My husband and I just got back from a 2 week trip in Nicaragua. It was vastly different than any other place I had ever been, and interesting to say the least. I think I’ve had my fill of Central America for the time being, but am glad to have gone and experienced it.  The sunshine alone made the journey well worth it. Going without warmth during our 3 month long winters is always a challenge.

If you’d like to read more about our travels (and life, in general) check out my other blog/project/website THISFABLIFE.

 

The piggies spent the 2 weeks with some wonderful, kind friends of ours; friends who also popped in daily to check on our house, and give our kitty cat some love. We are so thankful for ANY friend or family member who is willing & able to take care of these fellas for extended periods of time like that. Both boys have their unique health issues, and caring for them can sometimes feel daunting.

It’s wonderful to be home! The biggest treat has been that it seems that winter decided to take it’s leave right about the time our plane touched down. Much of the snow has melted, and the weather forecast (thus far) only seems to be calling for days well above the freezing mark. Barring any sort of freak, late-winter storms, I think the worst or winter may be behind us… and that has me (and the dogs, I’m sure) feeling VERY, VERY excited.

Within a month or so, I’ll be able to start allowing the fellas to spend time sunbathing on the front porch– one of their favourite places in the world. Until then, we have wonderful beams of light shining in through the windows, and Oslo & Jersey are well versed at seeking those sunny spots out on the floor.

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We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

It was a low-key day at our house. Oslo & Jersey woke up in the morning and went for a walk. Then opened up their stockings and presents. Oslo has a real understanding of what stockings are, and gets VERY excited when we bring them down and let the dogs go at them.  Each boy got a new toy, nylabone, treats, and dog i.d tag (which identifies them as ‘special needs dogs’) in their stocking.

Under the tree they had a wonderful box of mixed gifts from their Auntie, Uncle & Cousins. I am so thankful to have family and friends who treat my dogs as I do– like valuable members of the family, who are deserving of gifts. They clearly put a lot of thought into picking out some INCREDIBLE treats, high-quality treats for our boys & it really meant a lot!

Santa brought them a Food Dehydrator which seems a bit random, but is VERY exciting because it means that I can now make them their own dried fruit & veg treats! Oslo & Jersey *love* dried fruit, but so much of it has added sugar which is a real no-no. Now we can make our own from scratch without any unnecessary additives.  Thanks Santa!

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It’s Christmas Eve! The stockings are hung. The cookies are baked. The presents are under the tree. And ‘Christmas Kittens’ are on the television!

Oslo and Jersey recently had their annual check up. Everything is looking pretty good! Both boys have lost a spot of weight, which is always nice. Frenchies love to eat, and keeping their weight down can be tricky. But with Jersey’s heart, and Oslo’s spine– keeping their weight down is super important.  It’s hard for me sometimes because I LOVE to treat my boys… and as you can see, they enjoy being treated!

Oslo hasn’t had any recent issues with his spine, and is recovering nicely from his flare up last winter. I’ve made a real effort this year to walk both boys more often, and I think that that has really paid off. I am desperate to keep them both lean, and their muscles strong. Strong back muscles support the spine, and a supported spine is a spine that is less likely to be problematic.

Jersey’s heart is the same– no surprises there. Which is to say, he still has a Grade 4/5 Heart Murmur. As far as heart murmurs go, that’s pretty darn loud. But Jersey is miraculously more-or-less still asymptomatic. It’s been almost 2 years since we last saw our Cardiologist, however, and my vet would like for us to go back there for a cardiac check up sometime soon. I’ll do that this spring– the next time we will be in Vancouver.

This last year was a doozy, health-wise. Oslo started 2015 on crate rest for his most recent spinal flare up (and he’s been on pain management medication ever since). Jersey had an anal gland rupture. Jersey had his nostril/nares surgery. Oslo had dental surgery. We spent a LOT of time and a  lot of money at the vet!  We are happy to be ending 2015 on a healthy note, and hope that 2016 goes a bit easier on us. Oslo and Jersey are looking forward to Christmas and can’t wait to tell you all what Santa brings them.

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Today is this adorable creature’s 5th birthday. 5 years old.

I brought Jersey to his first puppy exam at 13 weeks old. The vet asked if I knew that he had a terrible heart murmur (I did) and coldly notified me that Jersey likely wouldn’t live to see his 1st birthday. He suggested I return this puppy to it’s breeder.

I first met Jersey when he was 7 weeks old. I’d been communicating with his breeder for weeks, and I’d chosen him as mine. Seeing and holding him for the first time was pure bliss. I remember him being very calm and cuddly– in a way that Oslo (who was 2 at the time) never was. Where Oslo was a bundle of silly energy, Jersey was relaxed and loving. He would sit on your lap, happy to be touched and loved.

Shortly after that first visit, I got a email from  his breeder. Jersey had had his final exam by her vet before being released to his new family.. and it was discovered that he had a bad heart murmur. He’d had it at birth, but  there was a good possibility of it going away in the first few weeks of life. It didn’t. It was still there, and there was a possibility that his heart could give out any day at all.  Because she could no longer offer us a ‘Health Guarantee’ (as any/all decent breeders should) she had to refund my deposit. She was going to hang onto Jersey to see if his health condition  worsened.

I was devastated. I had announced Jersey’s impending arrival to all of my family and friends! I’d prepared my home for a new arrival! His breeder offered me a litter mate of Jersey’s– a beautiful boy, who had no health issues, and would have been a lovely addition… I declined. He wasn’t Jersey. I visited an animal shelter. I held adorable chihuahua puppies. But none of them were Jersey.

A month passed.

I got an email from Jersey’s breeder. Jersey was 12 weeks old now and doing well. His heart condition hadn’t improved, but it hadn’t worsened either. He was stable. He had normal puppy energy. He ran. He played. He wrestled. He didn’t get winded. Would I like to adopt Jersey as a ‘Special Needs’ dog? He would have his heart defect his entire life. Eventually his heart will tire from all the extra work it’s doing, and Jersey will require medication. And eventually, after that, the medication won’t work anymore and his heart will give out. There is no guarantee how long this process will takes– it could be 2 weeks, it could be 14 years. But if I wanted him, if I was willing to take him on knowing the full extent of his heart problems & the risks associated with them, I could have him. I could just have him. She wanted him to go to a home that would love him, and care for him despite his heart problems.

We drove out that very day and picked up our boy. It was a no brainer.

And today Jersey turns 5. 

He still has a heart murmur, and there are still no guarantees with his health. So far, his heart hasn’t slowed him down all that much. I don’t let him run around like a crazy dog, and I don’t take him on 5 hour hikes (… because I don’t go on 5 hour hikes!)  And there are definitely extra precautions that need to be taken when it comes to things like anesthesia & surgeries.. But over all, thus far, Jersey’s heart has not been a huge issue.

So, to that first vet who was all doom & gloom and “your puppy will be lucky to see it’s 1st birthday!” I say- Yes, he was lucky. But we are luckier. We didn’t let you, or Jersey’s heart, scare us away… And in return for our bravery, we got 5 years with most incredible, gentle, loving dog that has ever existed.

I don’t know what Jersey’s future holds. There will come a time for him, just as there will come a time for Oslo, and Xyla, and all of us really. And when that time comes, I will first do whatever I can to keep him comfortable and happy. After that, I will do what is the most compassionate and selfless. And it will be excruciating. But I’ve had 5 years with Jersey so far, and there’s no reason to believe that we won’t have 5 more. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Every day is a gift with this amazing boy. Every year is a lottery win. I plan on appreciating the days & years as they come, and celebrating all of the milestones!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JERSEY BLUE! YOU ARE THE BEST BOY!

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It’s Thanksgiving up here in Canada, so I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a fabulous day!

Today & every day, I am thankful for these two pigs. For their love, their antics, their cuddles, and their sweet faces. Even when they are being naughty (Oslo!! I’m looking at you!) they are the best boys I could have ever hoped for. My life would absolutely not be complete without my two little pigs.

I’m also thankful for my hard working husband. I’m thankful to have a warm kitty to snuggle at night. I’m thankful for our adorable little house that feels exactly like home. My wonderful neighbours & community. My job that never really feels like work. I’m thankful to have been lucky enough to have been born in Canada, and to be Canadian. I’m thankful for my health, of course. And I’m thankful for coffee. And wine. And sour jubejubes. And YOU! I’m thankful for all of the readers of this blog– old & new.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a couple of pies to make.

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