11 June 2018

Choosing a name

You took a dog in off the streets and decided to take care of it for a few days. You figure the usual commands you use for the other dog in the family should work for the new one as well. Ok, good. But then you need to use a name before the command, so that the dogs know who is supposed to follow it. What do you name a "temporary pet"?

I called her Girl a lot at first, as well as Negruta (Romanian for Blackie) because she reminded me of another black dog called Negruta. The people at the vet clinic called her Blackie. Then we realised we would be keeping her for longer, so we sat down to think about the name properly.

Of course, Negruta and Blackie are all valid regular names for a female black dog, right? Nope, my husband doesn't do regular pet names. His two cats (now his mother's cats) are called DJ (short for Destroyer of toys, but in Romanian) because he always broke his toys and Pitica (the English equivalent would be Tiny one) because he rescued her as a kitten and she was very small and frightened. Our first dog is called Aschiuta (which means Little splinter) because she chewed on wooden table legs until splinters came off. So the new dog also needed a special name.

He must have been brewing his idea for a while, because he immediately said we should call her Nightmare. Why Nightmare? Because the first few nights that she was with us we were so worried about her that we lost a lot of sleep. So she was our little nightmare.

I was reluctant at first, because I was still biased on Negruta, but he convinced me. Now I am very comfortable going around calling her Nightmare and she also seems to have learned it is her name. Of course, people were surprised when they found out about the name (one of our neighbours said to me "Sure, your husband is a rocker, what else do you expect?") - especially the ones who knew how gentle she was - but our friends got used to it as well.

I must say, even if she looks a bit scary, she is the loveliest nightmare we have ever had!

She is a real sweetheart, but people who meet her for the first time are prone to believe she has a nightmarish temper!

6 May 2018

Operation Nightmare

Continuing with our Nightmare story...

We were scheduled to go to the vet with her to get some tissue samples under anaesthesia.

We arrived there very early in the morning, when the doctor and the nurses were just having tea. The vet seemed very confident but we were apprehensive because of the sedative and also her infection...

The doctor and a nurse got ready and took the dog in one of the back rooms for the surgery and we were asked to wait in the waiting room. Of course we asked to join her as moral support, but we were politely asked not to.

My husband said he would go to a shop a few streets away to take out money from the ATM machine and also buy a few snacks. I waited patiently, tried to read, stare at the walls, make small talk with the older nurse, but I just couldn't concentrate. It was taking too long. The surgery and my husband's trip. Although my watch was telling me otherwise. I should know, I stared at it every other minute. Luckily, the older nurse was allowed to peek into the back room, so she checked and told us the dog was safely sedated and didn't show any problems.

My husband was finally back and we waited together, sampling some ridiculous "fruit water" he had found at the shop. The surgery really was taking too long.

After about two hours or so, the older nurse came in to tell us the doctor was stitching up the dog's forehead and she would be awake soon.

When the doctor came out, we bombarded him with questions. He had in fact cleaned out the infection completely, so it should heal without any more medication. He had also taken the tissue samples and would send them to a laboratory. He was very optimistic about the black dog.

We asked if we could go see her. He said yes, so we hurried to the room. She was lying on the floor, crying and trembling. She was trying to move, but her muscles were no help. Her pupils were dilated and I doubt she was able to see anything. My husband said her hearing sensitivity was most likely also heightened. We stayed with her, petting her, holding her and preventing her from hurting herself.

She gradually stopped whining and her pupils adjusted. She was eventually able to lift her head, then stand up.

Meanwhile, my husband went to the front to pay, when he realised he had forgotten to take out the money from the ATM. He had taken the card back but not the money.

The vet needed cash for the lab tests because he had to pay them in cash too, so we drove back to the shop (it was the closest ATM) and we took out more cash. He was also able to confirm with the shop manager that nobody had taken the money and the machine had retrieved the bills.

We hurried back to the vet and I waited in the car while my husband went to pay and fetch the dog. When he came back, he said the vet had undercharged us - we pair only the lab tests and the anaesthesic (probably less than the normal fee). He had insisted to pay more (we are not short on money anymore), but the vet would not have any of it. He had also taken to the gentle black dog.

My husband afterwards sent the vet a couple of small gifts to thank him for helping us with the dog. I also included a couple of tatted trinkets for the nurses.

The test results were in shortly and turned out fine, so the black dog should have no complications. We would still need to take care of her head and make her wear a protective collar, but she was going to be OK.

Our dear little Frankenstein's monster having breakfast in bed.

21 April 2018

Tough treatment

Time for a new episode of Nightmare's tale!

If you remember, we had returned from the visit to Brasov and the black dog from her stay at the vet's.

I was going to be a nurse again. I bought gauze and oxygenated water and would clean the dog's infection every morning and evening, or even more often if I was home. She also received an antibiotic pill twice a day, which I shoved down her throat. Just like Aschiuta, she was not very keen about the taste of medicine. I don't blame them, I'm not either.

We eventually ran out of antibiotics and went back to the vet. The infection was still not waning and the vet sent us to a radiology clinic, to give her an X-ray.

My husband went in there with her (it wouldn't have been good to irradiate us both when one was enough to hold her). He told me how she squirmed and tried to run away, so a lot of the photos had more of his hand than her forehead.

We got the photos by mail soon afterwards and also sent them to our vet. It was obvious the infection had eroded the bone to her sinuses on the left side of her head. There was also no foreign object, which would have made the healing process a lot easier.

Notice the colour difference in the middle.

We were concerned about the situation, but the vet assured us that it wasn't that bad and that she was going to be fine in the end. If all else failed, he could operate and clean up the infection.

The next step would be to get some samples from the wound to make sure there was no extra pathogen or fungus that might cause bigger issues for her. The procedure was simple, but he would have to sedate her. And he didn't have the safer gas sedation that we preferred. We were slightly apprehensive about the anaesthesia, since there were small chances it would affect her mentally... or worse.

14 April 2018

Nightmare's stay at the vet

I am back with another installment of the Nightmare tale...

If you remember, we had left the black dog at the vet's and left to Brasov.

We were supposed to only stay for 5 days, as promised. But we had a call with the clinic and they were asking us to try to pick her up faster.

It seems she didn't take well to having to stay in the cage and was making a lot of noise at night. She was crying very loudly and the vet and his family couldn't rest properly. The clinic is actually a part of their house.

We considered asking a friend to go get her, but it was not feasible. The big black dog had a problem with walking too far on foot. So we went home a little earlier and picked her up.

Other than the noise at night, she had felt right at home. She enjoyed sitting on the scale, got used to asking to go out and in and was very friendly with everyone.

We took her back home, along with more antibiotics... It seemed the infection on her forehead was not going to go away so fast. We had to bring in the heavy artillery...

6 April 2018

A new hope

This is another episode in the tale about Nightmare.

You might remember that we were going to leave the town for about a week and nobody to leave the new black dog with. At the last minute, a young couple agreed to adopt her. We met with them at the vet and they asked to take her the next day, but promised that they would not back out. So we went back home, half hopeful, half worried.

The same evening, we got a message from them saying they wouldn't be able to take the dog in. They were worried about giving her the antibiotics and about their other dog and... Well, you know, excuses.

The next day we kept trying to find her a new family. Someone said they found a lost dog post on a private group and the dog resembled our girl. They told us to check if she answered to the name Sara. I tried but she didn't budge. I also tried a few other popular names for black dogs or dogs in general, but still no recognition. The person asking about the dog named Sara never got back to us when we asked for more info.

My husband and I tried to find a solution, but nothing was feasible on such short notice and for so many days. Eventually, we remembered that the vet was keeping some cats over for treatment and supervision. Maybe he would be willing to take the dog in too?

I called the clinic and pleaded with one of the nurses to take the black dog in for a few days. I was hoping that, since we were somewhat loyal customers (with Aschiuta), they wouldn't believe we would abandon her there. And also everyone at the clinic had taken a liking to the sweet black girl.

The vet was not in, so the nurse would call him and then call me back. Brrr, the waiting was driving me nuts. She called soon after and said that normally they only take in small dogs or cats and only for treatment, but they knew we were in a tight spot, so they would make an exception. We would of course pay for her stay and they would only keep her for 5 days. We were very happy.

We drove the dog there the next day and then left for Brasov, hoping that the black doggie would be a good girl.

30 March 2018

A new family for Nightmare

Back to our Nightmare story...

As I mentioned before, we were only going to take care of the big black dog until we could find her a home. We also had a trip to Brasov coming up for a darts tournament and a mini holiday, so we had to get her adopted fast. Those who have rescued animals and tried to find them new homes and families will understand why "adopted fast" is a contradiction of terms... We were also still hoping that her former owners hadn't been the ones to give her the wound on her head and that they would be willing to take her back.

My husband took it upon himself to post an announcement on the lost and found pets Facebook group in our area. Our friends also helped to spread the word and we also checked all the lost black dog posts we could find on the internet. Our searches unfortunately didn't turn out any leads towards the former owners.

This is the photo on the Facebook announcement.

A few people answered the announcement and tried to give ideas or opinions or suggest other lost dog sites to check. We had almost lost hope and were wondering if we should leave the dog back on the street, but really hoping we wouldn't have to do that... My husband and I lost a lot of sleep worrying again.

But then something unexpected happened. Someone contacted my husband saying they were looking to adopt a second dog and would like to take the black dog in. We were both so happy that we wouldn't have to abandon the sweet doggie. We made arrangements with the future new owners to meet at the vet, where we would have the dog checked.

We took the dog by car (here are some car safety tips, if you are interested) and she acted like she had been in one a hundred times before. She was actually less nervous than Aschiuta in the car and wasn't even sick. It made us think she had been on such trips before.

The new owners would arrive a bit after us, so we went in with the dog to have the vet check her. She made friends with the nurses there and seemed to like sitting on the scale.

The vet first scanned her for a microchip, as it is required by law for them to contact the owner if she had had one installed. There was none though, which didn't mean much, because some people never take their pets to the vet and thus don't give them a microchip.

He then started palpating her to check for any hidden problems and also cleaned and felt the wound on her forehead. The new owners also came in, just in time to see him prodding and checking, with the doggie barely showing any reaction. She seemed very tame and never even had any intention of biting or struggling, not even whimpering.

The doctor recommended antibiotics for the infection and said that the dog looked ok otherwise. He also checked her teeth and mentioned they were very worn for her age. Apparently she was young (probably younger than Aschiuta) but had been chewing on something very tough.

The new owners, a young couple, were sitting shyly in a corner. The woman even seemed a bit scared and only touched the dog very lightly after the vet proved the dog would not harm her at all. They also commented that the dog was larger than they had thought and were skeptical about the vet's evaluation about the dog's age.

We also found out that they would be keeping the dog at their new house that was being built and wouldn't be able to go see her too much. When the vet said that someone would have to give the dog antibiotics every morning and evening (orally, of course), they were afraid that the workers at the house wouldn't want to do that.

There was also the problem of their other dog, who was apparently very energetic and they were afraid the two would fight if unsupervised.

All in all, our faith dwindled and we didn't believe they would want to take the dog in anymore. They insisted however that they wouldn't back out on their word, but asked us to meet again the next day so they can take the dog.

My husband insisted that we would pay for the check-up and the medicine the vet had given us and the couple left. The vet had been very open and encouraging about the dog, "advertising" her as much as he could to them, but afterwards admitted that he believed they would back out. We felt the same way, but decided to give those people a chance. They were pretty much our only hope. We were supposed to leave town in a couple of days...

26 March 2018

Car safety for furry passengers

I mentioned car safety accessories in my last post. Traveling can be stressful enough as it is for pets, but we also need to think of their safety. I will talk here about accommodations for dogs to travel by car, since we haven't needed much extra protection when going by train and we have not been on a plane or boat yet with our poochies.

Welcome dear furry passengers! Please buckle your seat belts and keep all your paws and noses inside the vehicle at all times!

Seat belt for dogs? Yes, they exist and we have two of them and use them every time we take our dogs for a car ride. They are pretty simple to use. One side plugs into the car seat belt buckle, the other is a clasp to attach to the harness of the dog.

We always keep two of these handy in our car.*
It is important to use a harness instead of a collar, since in the case of an accident the impact could be quite forceful and harm the dog's neck. The harness distributes the force better. I also saw some vests that can work instead of the usual harness, those seem much more comfortable. Of course, they should only travel in the back seat.

I have also seen some sort of harness seat belts for dogs, similar to the ones used in toddlers' car seats. The dog is strapped in completely, almost standing on its hind legs, with its back against the back seat backrest. It looks very safe, however I doubt Nightmare (or even Aschiuta) would be very comfortable in one, sine they are a bit bigger than your average toddler...

Now, regarding keeping your noses in the vehicle... A lot of people seem to think it is fine to let their dogs take their heads out the window, but that is very dangerous. Better just to be safely strapped in the back seat. Here is an article that explains some of the dangers of doggies sticking their heads out the car window.

Protecting those leather seats from scratches, fur, drool etc...

I have mentioned before that Aschiuta has had problems with being car sick before and still is from time to time. We usually took care of this by having one person sit in the back seat with her, with plastic bag and wet wipes at the ready, watching her every drool.

This was until my husband found something interesting in the pet shop... a dog car hammock. It is a protective cover that is also water proof that covers the entire back seat area and straps to the headrests and upper handles. It also has velcro openings for accessing the seat belt slots. We don't have leather seats, but they are certainly cleaner this way!

The metal cage?

I honestly do not like these, although I have seen them used by one of our vets when transporting Aschiuta to the dog hotel. They are usually kept in the luggage area of small vans, where there is more room and the cages themselves are well anchored. The dog is quite safe inside, but not too comfortable and since it will be all alone, not very happy either.

Well, whichever method works best for you and your pooch, remember to stay safe!

* Sorry for not having actual photos of what we bought, but these are pictures from the store where we bought them from. My babble is not sponsored in any way.

19 March 2018

Trials and tribulations with Nightmare

Continuing the Nightmare tale...

If you remember, I mentioned that the dog had a pretty bad infection on her forehead, which had oozed out and caked the fur around the wound.

My first order of business the next day after taking her in was to try to clean the wound as well as I could. The only disinfectant I had around was medicinal alcohol, but that one really stings. So I went with "grandma's recipe", camomile tea.

It took me about half an hour to clean the fur and then the wound and, even if the tea is very mild and wouldn't hurt her, my patting and rubbing surely caused her quite a bit of discomfort. Surprisingly though, she made no move to stop me or draw away, she just lay there with her eyes closed, in complete resignation.

Feeling down in the dumps, poor girl...

She was actually quite lethargic the first couple of days, sleeping a lot, eating only a little and generally unwilling to walk around much. She was also picky about the food and didn't want the kibble or treats Aschiuta had at the time. I eventually bought her a can of dog food and she seemed to like that. She also liked mozzarella. I later on bought a brand of kibble (Bosch) that we used to feed Aschiuta when we were on a budget at the vet's recommendation and which we have kept giving her from time to time. The big black dog seemed to like the kibble, so it is again a staple in the dogs' diet.

But I digress... After cleaning her wound, I continued to do it from time to time, since it was still suppurating. I decided I would have to finish work early and try to take her to the vet. This way we would get her wound checked and also verify if she had a microchip.

Our vet is not very close by and usually with Aschiuta it takes me about 30 minutes on foot. I gathered my usual supplies of bags and tissues, put the leash on the dog and we were on our merry way to the vet.

Unfortunately, we didn't get too far. We had just reached the public street (yes, there are private streets in my town...) in front of our building and made a few steps, when the dog decided she was not going to take another step. In neither direction. She planted herself on the ground, just like when climbing stairs, and would not budge. After a few good minutes of trying to coax her to go further, I had to spend almost as much time convincing her to go back. We were going home, no more scary long walks.

We would need to switch to plan B then... taking our car. Luckily, we have our own car, complete with safety accessories for doggies. But more about that next time...

15 March 2018

Lost pet commercial break

Stay tuned for more tales of Nightmare! We will be right back after these messages...

Did your dog run away from home or got lost while roaming off leash? We all know these kinds of stories and it is very likely that if you are a dog owner, this has happened to you once or twice.

What can you do to make sure Fido does not take off on its own?

First of all, prevention. Yes, it is better to prevent than to solve a problem. Here is the recipe for success with a safe doggo:
  • Ask your vet to microchip your pet or to register you on the pet's chip if you are not the first (responsible) owner. The microchip helps rescuers identify and contact the owner of the pet, if the pet is lost. It is a small implant and is very easy to insert, with little pain to the animal. Some countries require it by law and it is also the sensible thing to do. Tags on collars also work, but if your pet slips out of the collar, it will not be of too much use...
  • The leash is dog's best friend! The majority of lost pets are those walked without a leash. There are far too many dangers and temptations in today's modern world, from traffic to other animals. Unless you are in a safe enclosure, using a leash is highly recommended.

    Extensible leashes... for that extra bit of freedom, without cutting on the safety.
  • Sometimes, even the leash is not enough, as we have reports of some dogs slipping out of their collars or harnesses in fear or excitement. Avoid going out for walks during loud events such as fireworks shows or lightning storms. Use a harness rather than a collar and make sure it is not loose. And always, be mindful of your surroundings.
  • Don't ignore your pet during walks. Do not tie up your dog in front of a shop while you go in and don't lose touch with reality (while chatting with someone or using your phone). It is very easy for the pet to get in trouble or even get stolen.
If prevention didn't work, act quickly and efficiently. Search for your pet yourself (mobilise a  small army of friends and family too if necessary). If the pet is out of sight, make use of those networking connections. Ask for help with the search on your social media and post ads on lost pet sites (rewards are always a good incentive). The classic poster is always useful, but takes time to produce and "publish" in the neighbourhood. Always check the "found" sections of the lost pet sites and don't lose hope. If your pet is found by nice people and taken to a vet, the microchip (or collar tag) is your best bet of getting your furry friend back!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

9 March 2018

Traumas and phobias

Continuing our Nightmare tale...

Where we last left off, we had just taken in the anonymous (back then) black dog in our home.

My husband said he would set up an inflatable mattress and sleep in the kitchen with her, while I would nap in the living room with Aschiuta.

Easier said than done, for my side at least. I kept tossing and turning, wondering what we were going to do. I was afraid the dog would be reckless or traumatised or not potty trained (actually that was the least of my concerns). I had all sorts of concerns, a new one on each side of the pillow.

In the morning, I decided to work from home and stay to take care of the dog while Scorp went to work.

First things first. The dog would need to go out and do her business, so she would get into the routine and not leave us any "presents" inside the house.

However, there was a problem that had shown up the night before when trying to bring the new dog home. The dog absolutely refused to go up the stairs. She climbed the few steps leading to the front door of the building and up to the first landing and then she simply tried to back up frantically, as if she were being hurt by the stairs. My husband had to carry her in his arms all the way to the 5th floor.

Now, I have myself been a dog carrier for a long time, carrying Aschiuta in my arms all the way to the vet when she was smaller or even lately, to pretend that I wouldn't let her make paw prints on the freshly washed floors, I would carry her up the stairs. But even that is only until the 2nd or 3rd floor.

The new dog was larger than Aschiuta, I would not be able to carry her up and down the stairs. Luckily, the elevator had been installed and working (most of the time), so we rode the elevator. She seemed almost used to this means of transportation, which makes me believe she had used it before.

She seemed to understand what the walks were for and left some "presents" for me to magically make disappear. I took her 3 or 4 times the first day, because she took so long to do anything and didn't do everything all at once.

I kept her shut in the kitchen while I worked and visited with her during breaks. I felt like a new mother and also a nurse. Because, besides the staircase phobia, our new friend also had a serious health problem... an infected wound on her forehead. But more on that later...

Bad booboo on such a sweet face...

4 March 2018

Introducing... Nightmare

We have been having a nightmare for almost a month now. A collective nightmare? Well, sort of. Every night? Yes, with a break for a few days. What kind of nightmare? A very dark one, but also very kind and loving. Huh?

Nightmare is not a bad dream (although she does have her turbulent moments), she is a dog. I always say she looks a lot like Aschiuta, but bigger, blacker and furrier. They have similar body shapes and they both have pointy ears. They are even alike in their behaviour, friendly and always willing to give you a hug and a kiss if you let them.

I met Nightmare one night outside of the supermarket across the street, munching on a tray of sausages. I let her be, but when I went out of the shop, she came to sniff my shopping bags. I pet her a bit and tried to shake her off, but she followed me to our building.

If you are familiar with the strays that occasionally get food from people, they develop a friendly but pushy personality, along with the beggar eyes (which Aschiuta also had when we first saw her). This trick often gets them food, especially if they know where to stay. They also get a lot of meat and bones, to the point where they become picky eaters and won't eat much else. Nightmare was one of them.

I had no meat and knew she must have been full from the sausages she had eaten earlier, but thought I would try with a couple of jam cookies. Some dogs have a sweet tooth (Aschiuta sure does, but she only gets a few morsels), but the black stray would have none of my cookies. She just wanted to be pet. So I gave her some rubs and eventually went inside, leaving her in front of the door.

That same night, my husband came home from his darts match and called me from downstairs.

"Lavi, there is a very sweet black dog out here. She is so loving and I'm sure she is lost or abandoned. Please, can we take her in, at least until we find her a home? I don't want to leave her out here."

I eventually gave in, thinking that there would be a lot of trouble. How would the new dog behave? How would she get along with Aschiuta?

We also had another major problem... We had to leave for Brasov soon and stay for a few days for a darts tournament. We usually took Aschiuta with us, but what about the new dog?

Stranger in a strange house...

5 January 2018

Our new furry neighbour... with a right hook!

For a couple of months now, a tabby cat has been living in the stairway of our block of flats.

It (I really have not checked for the gender) does not seem to belong to anyone, but is happy to nap quietly on people's doormats or on the stairs themselves. Luckily, nobody has hurt the cat and there are always two small containers full of food and water at the entrance downstairs. The cat itself is very friendly and often purrs when I pet it.

If you were wondering how Aschiuta has been getting along with our new furry friend, I will begin by telling you that we often go to Brasov, the city where my mother-in-law lives. Aschiuta always goes with us, since she is always welcome there. But my mother-in-law also has two cats, both quite shy. And, according to my experience, shy cats can be aggressive when scared, so we keep the cats and pooch in separate rooms at all times to avoid any conflicts.

Aschiuta has also had a few "close encounters" with a couple of cats, some of which have left her with a small scratch on her nose. But of course, she does not learn and is always curious about these smaller creatures that have ears similar to hers (but not of the same magnitude).

Our new tabby neighbour is no exception and Aschiuta almost always tries to catch a sniff of the cat.

The first meeting was as expected, poochie poked her nose into the kittie's business and the kitty gave her the right hook (the boxing kind). I decided that these two needed to make friends, so I always let Aschiuta get carefully closer, so as not to scare the cat. Gradually, they got used to each other, to the point where they both lean in to catch a sniff of each other, their noses almost touching. And then Aschiuta hops up in a dance of glee and the kitty readies the right hook, which is where I have to drag the crazy pooch away before she gets hurt.

Tonight I tried to get a photo, but none of them was interested in posing for me, no matter how nicely I asked them. As soon as I put the phone away, they get close for one of their sniffs. Figures... they are only being cute when they are not being photographed. But I was stubborn, so I managed to get one almost cute shot of them. Almost. Maybe next time...

Saying hello, like good little neighbours