Goodnight Sweet Gypsy

The past couple of weeks have been filled with highs and lows. There is the obvious high of Christmas and all that it means and brings. There was also the high of learning that I am going to be a grandfather again this summer; that was a pretty big high I have to say! There was the high of my anniversary; 27 years together with my wife on January 3. I’m certain there were other good things, highs, which are not coming to mind at the moment. Looking at that list one would think I’ve had a great couple of weeks – but that list isn’t complete. The mixed bag of lows have to be added in still.

Since my daughter was out of town until Saturday, Sunday was our anniversary, and Monday was the “official” announcement of our daughter’s first pregnancy, I felt it wasn’t appropriate to share the rest of the story until now.


My Sweet Gypsy

Around the beginning of December I noticed while grooming her that our oldest dog, Gypsy, had lost a lot of weight; she had dropped several pounds I could tell though I hadn’t weighed her to see the amount. Getting up in years, I figured that maybe she was having trouble with the hard-kibble she had been eating all her life so we got some canned food to supplement her diet. I hoped this would let her pick up some weight and fill back out. She did enjoy the new food, and the fact that she got it all to herself; we didn’t want to get the other two dogs spoiled onto canned food.

A week or so before Christmas Eve, Gypsy began to act “oddly” and started having trouble keeping her food down. She had a partially collapsed trachea that we had been nursing/treating for a few years that I figured was the problem. I started to feed her two smaller meals a day which seemed to help. Then on the 23rd she lost a tooth, not surprising for a dog that was almost 16 years old. But the wound wouldn’t clot to stop bleeding and her lip became inflamed, puffed out like an acorn was in her mouth almost overnight. With Christmas falling on a Friday there was nothing much we could do except wait until Monday for the veterinarian to be back in his office.

By Sunday (12/27/15) the knot had more than doubled in size and the bleeding was almost constant; she wiped persistently at her face with her paw so I knew it was irritating at the best – and probably worse. I’d seen this rapid lump growth on her before several years ago; a cancerous tumor came up on her left, rear foot that required surgery and months of high dose steroids to cure, causing her to swell to almost double her normal weight. It was pitiful to see this agile, fleet-footed dog become unable to climb up on the couch, let alone run, jump or play. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when the treatments were over and she began to go back to old self again. We decided never to put her through that again if the cancer ever came back.

Of course I didn’t want to think, let alone say, it could be another tumor; if I did it would make it a real possibility. So I rationalized it could be an infection from the tooth she had lost; I was very adamant that this was possible, both in my mind and outspokenly. Though no matter the cause I had to take her to the vet on Monday.

Monday morning as I was about to dial the vet’s office my wife stopped me; she said that we ought to give it another day to see how she was and if the pain pills she had been taking (left over from another incident) were helping. I was relieved and yet not either; I knew this was delaying the inevitable, really. I called the vet and made an appointment for Tuesday, explaining the situation; 10-30 am we were to be there. Why so early? I thought! As the day went on I realized a few things: the medicine was helping (but not a lot), the bleeding wasn’t stopping, she wasn’t eating, and this wasn’t an infection. So I spent the day just loving, petting and talking to her, preparing for Tuesday and for goodbye, really.

The news wasn’t good; the cancer had come back and was very aggressive this time. Who would’ve thought: All this time I’d been checking her foot and leg and it comes back in her jaw?!? There were options, horrible ones, which I didn’t consider for a moment, things I won’t write about and don’t want to think of. It was time for her to leave us, not for her to suffer any more. At just before 11:00 am December 29, 2015, after being my constant companion for over 15 years, Gypsy left us, resting comfortably in my arms as she had thousands of times over the years. She now rests in the backyard beside her old friend Morkie, who left us in 2010, in a coffin my son made for her; he decided she needed something special to be buried in.

Gypsy was a very special part of our family. She was my comfort and company through many pain filled, sleepless nights. She saw me through a major surgery and I her through two. A more perfect, loving, sweet pet I cannot imagine ever existing. From the ragged looking rescue pup we adopted (I remember my wife saying, “Didn’t they have an uglier one than her?” when she first laid eyes on her LOL) to the beautiful, graceful dog she grew into, she meant something more to me and my family than I can fully express in mere words. There are so many wonderful, fun memories she gave us and for that we are so grateful. But more so, we are grateful to have been her family and received her faithful love.


After a play-session this fall

I’m thankful we took that extra day, Monday, to have spent it with her. No, it wasn’t easier nor did it hurt less Tuesday; it doesn’t hurt less a week later as I write this for that matter. But it was comforting to a degree to have that time to say goodbye to my sweet Gypsy.



Quickly Stop Bleeding Dog Nails: a pet grooming tip

For years I’ve done all the grooming on our dogs. The last year or so my wife has begun to help since it can be quite a task on me. But she won’t touch toenail clippers; she doesn’t even like to be home when it’s that time. Why? Because of the risk of cutting the nail too short, into the quick, and causing it to bleed. It is at least slightly painful to the dog and fairly stressful for them and you. The bleeding, depending on the dog and the cut, may stop fairly quickly and easily by holding pressure on it with a cotton cloth or the like. But more often than not its good to take more than that to stop the bleeding; thankfully the pain seems to stop long before the blood. 

Although I’ve done this for years (I was a manager at a pet store in my early 20’s and cut a lot of cat and dog nails and trimmed more than a few bird nails and beaks) I still am a bit apprehensive about cutting my dogs nails despite my experience doing it. Even though I hate to hurt any animal, I really hate to cause pain to my own “fur kids”! Usually I can accomplish the task without incident but there are still the occasional mishaps, like happened this week, prompting this post. 

Before I go any further I want to make a couple of points. 

  • If you are not comfortable doing this don’t do it! Pay a professional to do it for you; you’ll save yourself more in stress and angst than the monetary cost. 
  • I am not claiming I invented this idea. I came up with it and have been using it for years. But that doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t had the same (bright) idea.
  • I only use scissor-style clippers. The guillotine-style are more apt to crush/break the nail making main or bleeding an even greater risk. 
    Scissor-style nail clippers

    Scissor-style nail clippers


There are products on the market made specifically to stop the bleeding caused my cutting into the quick (or there were years ago). When I worked at the pet store we sold and used styptic powder. It is essentially a powdered form of the styptic pencil men (and women I reckon) use to stop the bleeding after they cut themselves while shaving; the pencil burns – I know from my own use – so I assume the powder does, too, though it only does so for a short time.

One day at the pet shop I cut the quick on on of our puppies whose nails I was trimming. We happened to be out of styptic powder, both in our grooming supplies and on the shelves. And this pup would not stop bleeding no matter how long we help pressure on it or what we used to do so. Suddenly I had an idea: Superglue! It was used in combat situations to close wounds and by sports trainers so why not try it on the pup?

After a quick walk down a few storefronts (we were in a shopping mall) to a dollar store I brought the superglue back to where the pup was and got ready to try out my idea. I cleaned the blood off with a clean paper towel and then applied one drop of the glue on the tip of the bleeding nail. I then quickly applied pressure to the glue with a cotton ball for about 20 seconds. After the short wait I gently peeled the cotton ball off, leaving a small piece “glued” to the end of the nail. No more bleeding! The idea had worked just as I’d hoped. And I’ve been using it for 20+ years since.  

Superglue and a cotton ball

Superglue and a cotton ball

 There are a couple more points to keep in mind when using this tip.

  • Be prepared. Have the superglue and a cotton ball or three ready, at your disposal, in case you need them. If you’re not ready you’ll end up in a frenzy, searched for the needed supplies, and cause yourself and your dog more anxiety.
  • Have the glue tube opened and be cautious as you do this. Gluing your finger to the dog is not as fun as it sounds. Funny, yes; fun, no.
  • Superglue dries in the absence of oxygen by a chemical reaction (feel free to search the interwebs if you want to know more the specific details of the reaction). This reaction produces heat so only use as little as you habit to; one or two drops should be plenty. I once accidentally got a big glob on my thumb and then squeezed my index finger against it and this produced a lot of heat, enough to hurt and leave a blister! So, again, use it sparingly.
  • Use regular superglue, not gel.  The gel, I my experience, is easier to over apply and makes more heat. 
  • And buy a brand name; you don’t want to “chance” how a generic brand may react, not working well or worse causing more heat reaction, and possible pain. 

As with any first aid-type situation it’s better to have the needed items (and know how to use them) and never need them than to need them just once and not have them (or know how/be prepared to use them).

I hope this idea and article are helpful to you. If you choose to cut your pet’s nails there’s a good chance you’ll have occasion to use it. 

Morkie: Tanka Tribute

It’s hard to believe
Five years since you had to leave
You’re missed every day
Thankful for the time we had
And for the memories glad

I was so upset the day I had to take my little buddy Morkie to be put to sleep I couldn’t recall the exact date; it was on March19, 2010 (I looked up the post I’d made when we lost him to know for sure). But I vividly remember the day he came into our lives – September 5, 2000. 

He had been sent to the shelter some months earlier; his owners were old folks and when one died the other went into a “home” and Morkie and his sister went to the pound. His sister was adopted but Mork wasn’t. A few days before his “time was up” one of the workers called a rescue group about an hour away and they saved him. 

At that time I was doing some volunteer website work for the rescue. During a batch of updates I came across Mork’s photo and bio and left him off the update list, opting instead to show him to my wife. His bio said he was older, seven at least, and hated men and could be a little snappy. But we liked him. 

I called the lady that ran the rescue, Theresa, and she tried to talk me out of coming to see him: he hates men, especially balding ones (should I have been hurt by that comment? LOL) and had already been adopted and returned – twice! I said we’d be there to see him in person the next day. 

It was a solid hour drive to get to the rescue and we were all excited to meet Morkie: me, my wife and two kids. Theresa met us at the door and warned us again about how he was and how she was concerned it just wasn’t going to work; I simply told her he hadn’t met the right family yet – he hadn’t met us!

We went inside and saw him cowering in a far corner; Theresa has a dozen or more cats waiting to be adopted and he looked like they’d take a swipe or three at him. I sat down about six feet from him, gently laid my cane aside – another concern she had – and reached my hand toward him. It took about two minutes before he came to me, gave me a good sniff-over, and sat right at my feet. I petted him gently, all while Theresa stood with her mouth agape in astonishment. He came home to his forever home that day. 

Morkie had a good 10 years with us, doing whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased, which wasn’t much. But he sure enjoyed plopping himself in one of our laps and being petted so that was his primary activity. 

Mork had what we think was a stroke one night around 10:00; he was a pitiful sight that long, dreadful night. I stayed up with him all night, holding, petting and talking to him. And crying because I knew it would be our last. 

In the morning I took him to the vet. There was nothing to do but let him go peacefully; he had suffered enough and wouldn’t last much longer as it was. The vet asked if I wanted to be with him when he “did it”; I didn’t even pause to think before I told him, “Of course I do, he deserves that”. Holding him, saying we would be going home soon seemed to comfort Morkie; he knew what it meant when we were out and I told him it was “time to go home”. And soon he was home again, for the last time. But not before a long, tear filled time spent in “the room” after he was gone. 

All this came rushing to my mind as I read about the newest Carpe Diem challenge “experience” last night. From seeing Morkie’s photo and bio to wrapping him for burial, he gave me quite a few experiences, running the gambit from funny to very sad. This is one of the last photos I took of Morkie; he always “chased the sun” moving about to nap in the sunshine, as he was doing here.