Barkley, a five-year-old lab/hound mix, completed his training to become a therapy dog and went to work with him mom, Kathleen, who is an RN at Tucker Pavilion at CJW Medical Center. Thanks to his gentle and empathetic nature, the dog was extremely effective in reaching patients with mental illnesses ranging from depression to psychosis, patients whom even the staff often couldn’t reach. However, just five weeks into his new role, Barkley was diagnosed with liposarcoma in his left rear leg. His prognosis was good if the leg was amputated. In fact, the tumor might never come back, and Barkley could live to a ripe, old age. Says Kathleen, “Barkley is my best friend and a beloved member of our family and I will do anything to save his life.” But she simply couldn’t afford the cost of the expensive diagnostics, MRI and surgery, which came with a staggering price tag of $7,000! Kathleen reached out to FETCH a Cure to help fund Barkley’s treatment. Not only does FETCH a Cure raise pet cancer awareness and provide education for pet owners and the veterinary community, but through its Companions in Crisis program, the organization also funds lifesaving cancer treatments for pets throughout Virginia, Maryland and D.C. After the complex amputation surgery, Barkley was up and walking the next day. And it wasn’t long before he was by his mom’s side at Tucker Pavilion again and brightening countless patients’ day.
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From almost the moment we all left Petsmart with our new additions, looking equally elated and shell-shocked by what we had just taken on, I had wondered about Archie and Daisy's eight siblings. What did they look like? How big were they? Did they eat tissue like Archie, steal socks like Daisy, and cock their heads inquisitively at unfamiliar sounds? Most of all, did they miss their brothers and sisters who had shared their foster homes and would they recognize each other if they ever happened to see each other again? Several months before the puppies' first birthday, I had my first opportunity to get answers to some of these questions. While manning a booth at a pet event, miles from where we live, a woman came up to my table. After telling her about the nonprofit I was volunteering for, she mentioned that she and her daughter were volunteering at the event too. The organization they were supporting was MOMS VA, an animal rescue organization. "That's so cool! My husband and I adopted two puppies from MOMS VA in December," I said. The woman's eyes widened. "Did you adopt Archie and Larissa?" she asked excitedly. "Larissa" was Daisy's name before we adopted her. "Yes!" I replied. "How did you know?" She knew because Karen had also adopted her puppy, Apollo, from that same litter. Weeks later, again purely by chance, another of the puppy owners just happened to recognize Archie and Daisy at our nearby dog park. Donna had adopted Rhea, renamed Piper, who had shared the same foster home as Daisy. Those two meetings couldn't be a pure coincidence. Maybe they were the nudge I needed to plan a puppy reunion. How hard could [...]
While stopped at a light, Trey was rear-ended by a drunk driver who was traveling at more than 50 m.p.h. The 20-year-old was severely injured, sustaining a broken neck and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). For the next four months, he underwent treatment in acute care and rehabilitation facilities. While that period was difficult for Trey and his family, they had no idea of the challenges ahead. Trey was semi-conscious for weeks, and during that time, the Brain Injury Association of Virginia (BIAV) provided his family with the information, support and referral assistance they needed to get the young man on a path to recovery. The nonprofit also connected Trey with a community-based brain injury program, which allowed him to develop job skills and start to regain his independence. Most importantly, BIAV gave the family hope. BIAV also introduced the family to Camp Bruce McCoy, where Trey made physical and mental strides while also having fun with new friends. Not only that, the camp gave his mother and caregiver a much-needed respite. Trey went to camp the first year in a wheelchair. Five years later, the wheelchair stays home. According to Trey and his family, “BIAV changed our lives!”
While the puppies didn't nail all of the "obedience" they learned in school a few months ago, they have mastered "stay." If I have a particularly tasty treat in my hand, I can put them in a "stay" and walk down the hall, open their food closet (typically a surefire way to have puppies jumping around my feet) or even go upstairs and they will barely budge. In fact, I just wowed Don yesterday by putting them into a "stay" and going to the front door and knocking. They didn't bark or run to the door but instead waited for me ... and their treat! However, the catch is they will only do it together. If I take one on a walk and attempt to put the other in a "stay," it works for about half a second. As the rescue organization warned us, littermates bond to one another so tenaciously that everything else, including us humans, comes in a distant second. Today, I decided to work on a critical skill of my own today: bathing the puppies. Their first bath at home (Daisy has also had a couple trips to the groomer) was a bit of a disaster with the terrified pups shaking and climbing their back legs up the back of the tub the entire time (separately, mind you!). Don suggested I try our walk-in shower this time. Archie was the dirtiest, so I tried him first. I suited up in my bathing suit, covered the floor with large towels and then invited the wild child up to our bedroom, where he loves to dig through our trash cans. He eagerly bounded into the room and went straight through the open door of the [...]
Photo: Daisy and her new "lamb" do (we're holding her ears in this position) About a month ago, after a particularly frustrating episode with the puppies (of course, it's been replaced by dozens of more frustrating episodes since), I searched online for what to expect from 8-month-olds. They went into a lot of detail, but the upshot was that this age is like a human's teenage years. While a puppy is maturing, he or she is becoming independent and, as a result, unreasonably headstrong and rebellious. That about sums up Archie and Daisy at this moment in puppy life. At the beginning of April, Don and I returned from a week in Amsterdam. While our 21-year-old niece, who house- and puppy-sat for us, continued with the puppies' training (including our complicated feeding ritual), Archie and Daisy were ALMOST back at ground zero when we returned. How is that possible?! They wouldn't sit at curbs before crossing street. They wouldn't focus unless we had a treat under their nose. They'd sit on command, but they wouldn't stay there, popping back up like they had springs in their butts. And Archie was spending most of the day jumping up (only front paws, thankfully) on tables in my office and foyer, so much that he'd scratched all the finish off the edges. Daisy, on the other hand, was spending most of her day scratching at the front door, but most of the time only sniffing when we got outside. We live in a townhouse, so it was a lot of up and down for me. My train of thought had become like a commuter train, i.e., frequent stops and starts. (No wonder I often forget to send half-composed emails!) [...]
It's been a little over a month since I last chronicled the puppies' adventures, primarily because I ran out of steam. (Puppies are tiring!) However, Archie and Daisy will soon turn from puppies into dogs and I'd like a record--a Puppy Book, if you will--of how they got there. So, here's the latest in that journey ... This morning, while I was in my office checking email and they were play-fighting in the hallway, I heard a crash, followed by the two of them scampering into the office. I looked up and saw the iron coat tree, which held no less than 10 coats, four hats and three purses, on its side in the hallway. Coats and whatnot everywhere! (That's what happens when you leave treats in your jacket pockets, Mom!) No one was hurt, although Daisy seemed contrite and maybe a little embarrassed, immediately retreating to a distant corner of the couch and awaiting her fate. Archie simply curled up on the pile of coats on the floor! Since my last writing, we've also started letting the puppies come upstairs with us. It's like a field trip--they run around like mad, sniff everything, jump on the couch and Don's recliner, counter-surf. But they are always happy to go back downstairs (sometimes they even go on their own) to the security of their real "home," where there are toys, treats and wall-to-wall carpeting! The puppies are also almost finished with Obedience School at 2SpeakDog (two more weeks!). They're not exactly what I'd call obedient yet, but they do know "sit," "down," and "wait" and aren't as wild when they encounter another dog or person on a walk (and we know how to handle it now), sit at [...]
I'm lucky in that both of my parents and my stepmom are huge animal lovers, so they've always treated my furry kids just like their human grandkids (well practically ... they don't get money at Christmastime!). This weekend, my dad and stepmom paid us a long-awaited visit from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and met their newest grandchildren, Archie and Daisy, for the very first time. They immediately stepped in to help me walk them. On the first walk, my dad said he felt like he was in Alaska being pulled by sled dogs. (He was only walking Archie!) Then Daddy and Linda wanted to sleep with the pups. As you can probably tell from my posts, these pups are not ready to be left unattended anywhere yet. Don and I laughed thinking about the pups emptying their suitcases all over the floor, shredding everything in the trashcan and have a good ole time with magazines, glasses, and anything left on the nightstand. My office is puppy-proofed. Our spare bedroom, not so much! On one of our many walks throughout the weekend, I let Linda harness Daisy. When we got back, I realized that she had never actually clicked the harness buckle and it was being held on by the leash alone. Thankfully, that was enough! I took over harness duty the rest of the time but gladly turned over a leash to one of them whenever they wanted to join me. Don walks Daisy with me and Archie every morning, but I'm otherwise mainly on my own. It was such a nice treat to have a built-in helper! We also had to make the requisite shopping trip while they were here to get the grandkids [...]
The pups were separated today for the first time since we got them. Daisy went to the groomer to tame her snarled and matted hair, while Archie stayed home alone with me. While I was most worried about Daisy, I think it's safe to say that Archie might have taken it the hardest. Poor guy! When we adopted the litter mates, the rescue organization recommended that we separate them as much as possible to keep them from bonding with each other over bonding with us. Don and I walk them together first thing in the morning, but I also walk them separately two more times each day. And when I take Archie out for his lone walks, Daisy literally wails, but he sleeps when it's her turn. Naturally, I thought Daisy would be pretty inconsolable when I took her away from her brother today. And she did cry--a sad, plaintive whine--the entire drive (20 minutes) to the groomer. However, once we were there, my brave little fluff ball was fine to go inside and wasn't at all reluctant about being handed off to a stranger. Alrighty then! Archie, on the other hand, changed from his usual Jack Russell-ish jumping bean self without his sidekick to a very low-key (he even let the cat sniff his butt!), sleepy pup. When I crated him, he cried and refused to relax. As a result, he had virtually no crate time this morning, but it was ok. He was so calm and well-behaved outside the crate that I could actually focus on my work without worrying about what was chewing or pulling out of the trash while I wasn't watching. I almost didn't recognize Daisy when I retrieved her a few [...]
If I had a "puppy book," I would record this milestone in it. Archie lifted his leg while peeing for the first time yesterday. Granted, it was purely for convenience--he was so close to a bush that he couldn't put his back leg down and resumed the squatting position the very next time--but it made me proud nonetheless! (I even called Don from my cell phone to tell him his boy was growing up.) While we're on the subject of bathroom habits, Archie is also a walking pooper, which makes it extremely challenging to properly clean up after him, especially when it's dark (sorry, neighbors!). Another big event in the life of my puppies (or at least the girl puppy) will happen on Tuesday. She'll be groomed for the first time. I'm nervous because they may need to clip a lot off because of mats. I'm nervous because she and Archie will be separated for the first time. I'm just plain nervous. Tuesday will be a very long day! We also had our second Puppy Socialization class last night and the teacher used both Archie and Daisy as examples. Before you think it's because they are the smartest students in the class, it's really only because we sit up front ... and they were convenient! However, we did practice "sit" in class yesterday, and they've both already mastered that skill, even at corners before crossing the street. We showed the other dogs how to do it! Last update: We got a new crate mat, and with it, came a tug-of-war rope. They loved it! It was the toy of the hour until Daisy started hacking as if she had gotten a piece of rope stuck in [...]
The past two days, I can not imagine how Noah managed two of every species on his ark. I have struggled with just a male and female dog on mine. This unrelenting rain has meant perpetually damp hair (mine and the pups), wet paws and feet, and just an overall soggy disposition for man and beast alike. I have banged my fingers on a keyboard during the day and drank wine at night to alleviate my frustrations with the weather. The pups have chewed on towels and taken it out on each other in frenzied wrestling matches. Right now, the two of them are so bored from being cooped up more than normal today that Archie is chewing on the wire of the crate while Daisy sniffs every single inch of my office ... for what I do not know. The bad weather has also resulted in two accidents after weeks of being accident-free, and I'm certain that my office smells like the wettest of wet dogs (I can't smell it anymore). Yesterday, after the first day of unceasing rain, I decided to use all this inside time to take a whack at clipping the pups' nails again. Both have been fairly amenable to the chore. However, because they have a mix of black and white nails, I've been hesitant to clip them too short. Before I started, I read online about a little trick that's supposed to cause the nail quick to recede and allow a shorter cut. I started with Daisy because she is literally putty in my hands and allows me (or anyone really) to mold her into just about any position I want. When I set the clippers on the first nail, she yelped [...]