A Good Dog | My Heart Dog

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I didn’t want to leave this blog on such a sad note. Of course losing Rufus has been one of the hardest times in my life and not a second goes by that I don’t wish he was still here with me. My heart is broken right now and anger is still winning. Luckily (or not so luckily at all) I’m kind of a veteran when it comes to grief, so I know that time really does heal just about everything and one day I will remember all of the good times over those last few weeks of pure confusion and pain.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have changed my handle over there. As of right now, that is the only place I’m currently writing but if that changes, I’ll be sure to keep you updated via that account so stay tuned. I wrote a post explaining why I made the change and what the future holds for me as a crazy dog lady that just needs to share her passion for all things canine.

Here is the post:

I’ve been thinking of ways to honor my heart dog during this time of mourning and this phrase keeps coming up again and again. Rufus had behavioral issues which included fear reactivity, defensiveness, and he even nipped a few times when he was extra stressed. However, through training and recognizing his triggers, our relationship never weakened. Of course there were times in which I was extremely frustrated with him, but I knew all of these moments were teachable ones. Rufus was a good dog regardless of these moments. He adored me and others he let in his circle, learned from his mistakes, and was always willing to try my way…even when he really didn’t want to. 😉 He was a good dog because he was meant for me. He made me a behavior nerd, nutrition obsessed, and taught me a whole new level of empathy for those going through their own struggles. He taught me so much in such a short period of time and I will be forever grateful for that…even when grief just wants me to be angry and bitter. Rufus was a good dog because he was exactly the dog I needed during our time together and he taught me so much about myself and what makes me light up in life. And there’s nothing bad about any of that.

 

Loving Rufus came so easily to me…even when he made it really, really difficult. I had fostered many dogs before him, worked with hundreds of dogs in just about every animal-related field, and then fostered pups after his adoption was finalized. And do you know that I never connected with any of those dogs the way that I did with Ru? Sure there were/are my favorites and there are dogs that absolutely make/made my day brighter whenever I got to work with them, but Rufus was the dog for me. Fostering and then adopting him changed me in a million ways. Our connection was so deep that even those that witnessed it would comment on how we communicated effortlessly without a word being said. He was my litmus test on how I was feeling at any given moment. He was my heart dog and it’s been incredibly hard to even consider loving another dog that way again. And who knows? Maybe I won’t.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t try. I was put on this planet to work with dogs, to nurture those that have been broken or let down by other humans. This kind of connection brings me so much joy and I’d be a fool to let go of all of that. And having my own dog to nurture fully? Well that has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done in this life. And I know that I will give my heart to another dog one day and that Rufus would have wanted me to move on and share that love again. It seems close to impossible at this moment but I know this moment will be gone in an instant and I look forward to the moment I lock eyes with a pup who needs me….and who I need just as much.

I’ve felt it before and I will feel it again. It’ll just take time. Because boy oh boy, did I hit the jackpot when I found him. 

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My heart.

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On July 2nd, I said goodbye to my best friend. For months, I knew that something was wrong but all of his tests were coming back with zero results. In fact, he was in stellar health. And then the neurological signs started to show up and we knew it was in his brain. On Wednesday, we got our diagnosis and things took a turn for the worse after that.

I am angry. I thought that he would be around for years to come. Right now my heart is in a million pieces, but I’m trying to remember our life together and how wonderful it was. 

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I have been obsessed with dogs since birth, but Rufus made all of my “crazy dog lady” dreams come true. Our little family road tripped across the country four times, lived in three different states and five different homes. We stayed in countless hotels, explored numerous parks, and hiked just as many trails. Rufus got to put his paws in the ocean and hike up mountains. He went on almost every single vacation with us, helped me raise fosters dogs, came to work with me, and even became my sole employee when I owned my own business. He was my dream dog. He was my constant companion. He occupied my whole heart. There will be no shortage of heartache in the months and years to come but I find comfort in knowing that we had such a full life together, even if it was cut short. Our bond ran deep and I’ll never forget how much one grumpy, wonderful, hilarious, loving and loyal mutt changed my life forever. 

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“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.”

I’m sure you saw this coming..

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As much as I wanted to keep up with this blog, it looks like this just isn’t the most inspiring format for me at the moment. Sorry about that. I think that one day very soon, I will probably give this a crack again. And who knows? Maybe it’ll be under a whole new name. I work in the pet industry and I have a lot to say about nutrition, training, adventuring, and products…but I just can’t find the time/motivation to write about all that at this point in my life.

Just a quick update for those of you that may not follow us anywhere else: we are dealing with some health issues regarding Rufus. It’s been incredibly exhausting and stressful. Lots of tests, meds, and research. So far, our luck has been crap. Keep us in your thoughts while we continue to figure out this mystery mutt’s symptoms and why they are happening to him…

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If you love this guy’s amazing face half as much as I do, please continue to follow us on Instagram. I post regularly and I love the creativity and ease of it all. Thanks for following us on this incredible little journey they call life.

Senior Dogs 101: Supplementing For Longevity!

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I know I’ve been mentioning Ru’s age a lot more than usual, but I guess that’s because I want to stay aware of what this next phase of life will bring. I’m lucky that as of right now, I have an incredibly vibrant and healthy old man. Rufus shows no outward signs of achy joints, cloudy eyes, or hearing loss. His coat is still beautiful and shiny and he’s fairly active. Besides his ongoing issues with his gums (which are all genetic and mostly pain-free for him), he’s a healthy guy . A healthy, salt-and-pepper senior dude.

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He just really loves his naps. Like..a lot.

It’s important to stay proactive about your older dog’s health, even when everything seems to be going pretty freaking well. That’s how we keep things on the up-and-up, right?

I experiment a lot with what I give Rufus and always keep a close eye on any changes I see. There have been a few duds in the supplementation department, but here are a few that I continue to use and love:

Turmeric

I started giving Rufus turmeric after his dental scare last year to help fight some of the inflammation. It’s helped a little in that department, but like I said, it’s an uphill battle. HOWEVER! Supplementing with turmeric has proven to help in a lot of other ways. Turmeric can aid in relieving arthritic pain as well as any gastrointestinal issues. Not to mention this little plant can be cancer-fighting as well! We juice semi-regularly in this household, so sometimes I have turmeric root on hand but mostly supplement both of our diets with turmeric powder I buy in bulk online. Like I said before, Rufus doesn’t seem to be having joint issues yet but he is a tad slower getting up after a long snooze, so I figure it can’t hurt.

Raw Feeding

Ru’s diet isn’t 100% raw, but we’re leaning more and more towards that way of living as he gets older. His food digests so well, his poops are tiny, and he absolutely loves it! Yep. This vegan feeds her dog a 50% raw food diet in the form of freeze dried mixes and frozen patties thanks to Honest Kitchen and Stella and Chewy’s. The Honest Kitchen isn’t so bad because it’s dry fish and a ton of veggies, but the patties kind of make me wanna barf. The things we do for our pets…

Coconut oil

Another supplement the whole family shares. Coconut oil is great for dogs (and humans) and helps keep their coats shiny, their guts happy, and their brains functioning healthily. Rufus goes crazy for coconut oil as well – he loves his fats! It’s also great on toast with some coconut sugar and cinnamon for us humans. Just FYI.

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Blurry but on the go!

Those are just a few of the supplements I give to Rufus to keep him happy and healthy. All of them are fairly affordable, especially since I only supplement with the raw food as of right now. I’m really happy with the results I’ve seen in the long term, so I thought it was worth sharing with all of you out there fighting the good fight. We can’t stop our pups from getting older, but we can certainly keep their quality of life from diminishing for as long as possible.

What supplements do you use for your dogs? Any tips on how to make a 100% raw diet more affordable? And maybe even less disgusting…ahem.

Help! I want a second dog but I don’t want to mess up.

(…just so this blog doesn’t get too wordy, I’ve thrown in some photos of Mr. Ru for good measure.)

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It’s true. I struggle with these conflicting feelings on a pretty consistent basis. The dog lover in me longs for a second companion, especially as I see Rufus grow older and slow down a little bit. We just moved to Colorado, so hiking is back in full swing. And while Rufus can still hike with the best of them, I know he’s going to require more TLC as the weather heats up. If I don’t have a dog to hike with, it’s a whole lot less exciting. The dog is like 80% of the fun!

But as soon as I get in full second dog mode, the doubts start creeping in.

What if she has separation anxiety or other behavioral issues? Even if we go through a foster-based rescue, those traits can sneak in very easily. I should know. I had many fosters with severe separation anxiety. And now that we live in a full-blown complex, the idea of a screeching pup stresses me the heck out! And let’s not even get into the idea of having another reactive dog to manage…

What if she’s too high energy? You know. The kind of dog who can’t settle. The pup who needs a job to do 24/7. I’m all for training and tricks and excitement, but we are a super chill family. Like…we need a pup who knows how to Netflix hard on Sundays just as much as they need to love the outdoors.

-What if Rufus feels betrayed? Ok, this isn’t a real fear. Despite his grumpy nature, Rufus is pretty easy to match up with the right dog. His type: mostly females (or submissive but confident males), a little feisty but not hyperactive, under 70 lbs, and not too fluffy. Yes that’s right. My dog hates super fluffy dogs. He’s the worst/best. So as much as I’d love to pick out our second dog, I know Rufus will get the last word.

-What if we don’t connect? I have had fosters that were perfectly fine pups but I never really connected with them. And while I didn’t hate my time with them, I was very happy to see them go to their forever homes. It turns out I’m just as picky as my dude, which is fine but also a little scary when going into finding a second dog.

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So…I guess what I’m realizing is that I should probably foster for a little while before diving into the “forever dog” territory just to see how it feels. I think that’s the best solution, right?

I would love to hear from those of you who have had similar struggles when adding a second (or third or fourth) dog into your home. What doubts did you have? How did you overcome detachment feelings if you had them? Am I just being an over-dramatic weirdo?  Seriously, guys. I want to hear it all!

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Help!

The Many Faces of Ru

Maybe this isn’t the most popular thing to say, but having a reactive dog often feels like a burden. With behavioral issues that even I don’t fully grasp sometimes and often seem like they come out of nowhere, Rufus is complex to say the least. Despite all of this , I love him with my whole heart.

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I think that those of us who have fallen hard for reactive dogs are drawn to the “virtual platform” of sharing because it’s our way of showcasing our complex pups in all of their glory. We get to share those moments of pure bliss when our dogs are 100% themselves. Nothing is making them tense. Nothing is making them unsure. They are just dogs. Wonderful, uncomplicated canines.

And sure – progress happens and there are even times when he just plain surprises me with his intuitiveness in certain situations, but I’m just being real about the bigger picture. Rufus is a tough cookie and he makes me reexamine our training techniques over and over again. For years now, guys! Years! Ugh…

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But then there are the moments when it’s just the two (or three) of us. And I remember why I adore this guy so much and why I’m so happy he came into my life. Screwball behavior and all.

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Cold Feet, Warm Hearts

Since arriving in Colorado in early February, the weather has been all over the place. One week it’s in the 70s and the next it’s back down in the 30s. But no matter what temp it is, it’s almost always sunny! This has been a very welcome change from the Pacific Northwest.

Little known fact? I absolutely adore the snow and (moderate) cold. Give me a sunny winter day and we can have a whole lotta fun!

A few weeks ago, we had our first snowfall since arriving and took Ru on an epic mini hike. Since he’s kind of an older guy now, I try to keep our hikes around the 4-6 mile range when it’s mild outside. And in the summer? Well he’s not a fan of the heat…so I’m guessing 2-3 miles will be his max. I will make sure to take it slowly and see how altitude affects him in the warmer weather. My poor old man.

Just a few photos from said hike two weeks ago:

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Ugh. I’ll never get over the view.

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And then he snoozed his happy little face off.

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