Raisin spent 3 days in the hospital. Dr Geoff didn’t think he was going to make it and stayed with him for 2 nights. He was amazed the dog pulled thru. He said Raisin was a fighter and has a strong will to live.
I took the little guy home knowing he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Several weeks of meds that affected his appetite combined with begging and pleading with him to eat. There were times he was so weak he could barely stand so I started feeding him anything he’d eat. Lunch meat, hot dogs, burgers. The vet gave me hell for what I was feeding him because it could have killed him. It wasn’t a choice. Either feed him what he’d eat, or he’d starve to death. It took Raisin about a month to make a full recovery. This was the start of Raisin’s medical issues. The cough he had was actually chronic bronchitis. Once he was fully recovered, he was put on meds to help control it.
Life was back to normal for Raisin. Sunning himself on the back deck while I was working and cuddling up with us after dinner. Saturday morning was doggie playground and time with friends. I think he liked vising the people more than playing with the other dogs. Raisin loved car rides so we took him everywhere we could. The once scared little dog was now disappointed if a person passed him and didn’t pet him!
By the end of that summer we couldn’t stand being in that house any longer. The neighbors were horrible. Kids running in front of the house screaming at each other at all hours of the day and night, constant traffic in the shared driveway, police next door several times a week. It was time to move. We found a place in the quiet town of Oley. It was a nice neighborhood and I didn’t have to worry about being outside by myself or having the doors locked during the day when I was home alone. Raisin had a bigger yard and the one neighbor said we could take him in the back field. He wasn’t thrilled about having to be on a leash, but until we got the money for a fence, on a leash he was.
Mocha’s new home was much different than the farm she was used to. No fields to romp in or creeks to play in. The walks stopped altogether since there was no place to walk. She did look forward to seeing her new across the street friend, Molly every time she went out. They’d bark at each other, with tails wagging. She could still lay on the back deck in the sun and we played in the yard at lunch.
Somewhere around age 1 1/2 something in her head clicked. All of the time and effort we put into training suddenly paid off. As if a light switch turned on, she was doing everything she was told. Her reward was a bit more freedom. Off leash was going to be the big test. She was very good in the yard, but what if there was no fence?
We decided to take Mocha to the barn one nice Saturday. It sat far enough off the road that I wouldn’t have to worry if she took off. She jumped out of the truck and followed us into the barn. So far so good. She greeted people, looking for pets and scratches. When we walked out to the pasture to see the horses she stayed at our side. Her trial run was a huge success and a far cry from having to chase her across fields at the farm when she wouldn’t come.
Mocha got to go to the barn on a regular basis. She made friends with the other dogs and spent most of the time playing with them. If I lost track of her she was either following someone else or laying in a cool spot. Greg decided to take her on a little trail ride. He was ready to go and called Mocha. She wasn’t sure but went over to him. He rode off and called her again. She followed, along with one of her dog buddies. They were gone about 30 minutes or so. Greg said she was really good. He’d have to call her once in a while, but the dogs romped and played and followed Greg & Koko.
It was February 2009. Mocha was in the yard and having some trouble controlling her hind end. We rushed her to the vet. She stayed overnight so she could have x-rays done the following morning. They were concerned about hip dysplasia. We picked her up the following day after work. She was still groggier than I would have liked to be taking her home. We had to lift her in the back seat of the car and carry her into the house. We laid her on her bed in the living room. Within 10 minutes she had a seizure. Called the vet and back she went. The vet kept her for almost a week, running tests. They found nothing. When she no longer had seizures for a few days we were told we could pick her up.
We got our pup back on Valentine’s Day. Tired, but glad to be home Mocha slept a good portion of the day. She went out when she needed to, ate her dinner and camped out on the sofa with us while we watched TV that night. Thigs were finally going to be normal. We went to our bed and Mocha to hers. She was covered and tucked in for the night. We woke the next morning to Mocha standing next to the bed, staring at us. Her stare was blank and her eyes weren’t right. It was like you could look into her eyes right down to her soul and see nothing. I jumped out of bed and went to her. She was afraid of me. She didn’t even know who I was. She was afraid of Greg and the cats. Everything else seemed fine. No obvious pain or injury. Since our vet wasn’t on call after hours, we ran her to the local animal emergency hospital. We explained the entire situation and they took Mocha in right away. After what seemed like hours in the waiting room, we were called into the exam room. Mocha had a stroke. They suspected a spinal edema where a clot loosened and went to her brain. I wasn’t sure how that was possible since she never had any spinal trauma. The only thing Greg and I could think of is when she was at her vet. She had to be turned on her back for x-rays. The only way to know for sure was to take her to a neurological specialist. The testing was going to be around $3,000 and there was a 50% chance of them being able to do something for her and less of a chance that she’d ever be right. It was a big risk to put the dog thru that and spend that much money for her to remain in her current condition. I couldn’t do that to her. Mocha died that day with her head in my lap.
Several experienced dog people recommended I get an electronic collar. We bought a good one and I set it up. It was adjusted to the lowest setting. I tested it on my hand before I used it on Mocha. We took her down to the big field on her leash. I unhooked the leash and she stayed around me for a bit. I thought Frisbee would be fun so I threw it. Mocha chased after it, picked it up and ran the other direction. She wasn’t far so I wasn’t too worried. I called her and she kept going. I called again and she still didn’t come back so I lightly hit the button for the collar. She yelped, dropped the Frisbee and took off like a shot. I chased her down, finally caught her and took her back to where Greg was standing. Back on the long line for now. I thought we could still play Frisbee. Mocha thought differently. Not only did she refuse to play, she was afraid of it. She thought the Friseee bit her and wasn’t getting near it again. We tried the electronic collar a few more times while she was on the long line. Each time she ran away from me instead of coming back. The electronic collar was a major fail for her.
Mocha decided to be my work buddy and steal my chair if I got up for any reason. She was good enough to leave me the edge of the chair to sit on. Adding insult to injury, she’d take my ponytail holder out of my hair if she got bored. Trying to work was getting interesting.
At lunch we’d go in the kitchen and she’d supervise me while I was making my lunch. One day she was over by the window barking. I looked, but didn’t see anything. She continued to bark, but I still didn’t see what she was barking at. As I carried lunch to the table I saw Mocha rubbing her nose. Upon closer inspection I saw the back end of a wasp sticking out of her nostril. I couldn’t believe she sniffed a wasp up her nose! Fortunately it was in far enough that it couldn’t bend it’s body to sting her. I got the tweezers, but she wasn’t having any of it. This was going to be a 2 person job and there was only one of me. I ran her up the street to her vet. We got her to lay on the floor. I laid on her to pin her down and the vet tech performed a wasp-ectomy. Her nose was examined for stings and we headed home, without the wasp.
The older Dakota got the more play he demanded. He was about a year old and we were exhausted, and he wasn’t letting up. He started getting into things he knew he wasn’t supposed to and stealing our things so we’d have to pay attention to him. One Sunday evening he was unusually quiet. We thought he was just tired from being at the barn all day. After dinner I took him out. He squatted and nothing came out then he started throwing up what seemed to be gallons of water. I called the emergency animal service since our vet didn’t have weekend hours. We rush him in immediately.
After an exam, the vet said he suspected a blockage in his small intestine. We couldn’t imagine what it could be since he’s always with us. We sat in the waiting room for several hours while Dakota was in surgery. The vet finally came out and said surgery went well, they found the blockage. He held up a bag and asked if we had any idea what this thing is. It was a hard, bouncy cat ball the neither of us new we had. Dakota found it. They wanted to keep him over night, but he had to be picked up before 8 the following morning and transferred to his regular vet. When we got home I left a message for Dakota’s vet telling them he’d be there early the following morning. Morning came and I picked him up and took him to his vet. He was to stay there for a few days to make sure there wouldn’t be any complications from surgery. A few day later the vet called. There were no problems and we could pick him up, but he needed to stay quiet for about a week. I told her if he was supposed to be quiet, they needed to keep him. The only way we could keep him quiet was to keep him crated and we certainly couldn’t crate him for a week.
Dakota got the all clear to come home and resume his (almost) normal activities. He was as active as ever but starting to get a bit aggressive. We weren’t sure if it was the surgery that caused this or having to be quiet for over a week. We took him to dog trainers, did everything suggested, and nothing could break his aggression. In fact it was getting worse. If he stole something that wasn’t his and we tried to take it, he’d growl. If we persisted, he’d bite. I could no longer handle him. I was getting to the point where I was afraid to be home alone with him. Since I worked at home, this was getting to be a huge problem. He was as strong as an ox and weighed about 30 lbs. less than me. After trying to push thru this, dog trainers, Greg having to come home from work to rescue me from Dakota trapping me in one room, it was time to make a decision. We just couldn’t continue the way we had been.
In early December 2009 I made arrangements for a Springer rescue to take him. We drove him to a foster home over an hour away. We watched as he played with the other dogs and made himself at home. He was happy and barely said goodbye. A few months later I got a call from the rescue. He’d been rehabbed and rehomed. He was living with a family in Delaware that had 2 boys that loved to play baseball. Dakota was going to love it there.
Like puppies have a tendency to do, Dakota grew like a weed. Our week day routine was me throwing toys while I worked, Dakota would play with Mouse, I’d throw more toys. At lunch I’d eat and we’d go outside to play puppy soccer. I finished my work day the same way it started. I’d feed critters and start our dinner. When Greg got home we’d eat, he did dishes and I’d do odds and ends of things I needed to do. When we finally sat in the living room to watch TV and relax, Dakota would shove toys in Greg’s lap and he got to be playmate for the rest of the night. If Greg refused to play, Dakota would stuff toys under the sofa, behind the sofa or in the baseboard radiator fins (anywhere he knew toys weren’t supposed to be). Someone would get the toy out and be forced to play. He quickly caught on to this new game and played it any time someone refused to play with him.
The months passed and our (his) routine didn’t change. The only time we got a break is when he was in his crate to sleep. He was far more puppy than we expected, and exhaustion was setting in. A few evenings a week and sometimes on Saturday mornings I took Dakota to doggie playground to get some of the energy out. He’d race and wrestle with the other dogs. He was racing down the fence with another dog one day, apparently not paying attention until it was too late. He was going to crash into chairs. At the last minute he made a huge leap, right over the laps of two older ladies sitting in those chairs and kept right on going. Greg and I were stunned and couldn’t hold back our laughter. The ladies Dakota jumped over were stunned and horrified. I was laughing so hard I could barely apologize.
Somewhere around 6 or 7 months the squatting stopped and leg lifting started. Once the leg lifting started Dakota was suddenly un-housebroken. After all of these months I had to housebreak him again. One night we were eating dinner, Dakota went under the table and Greg got a very funny look on his face. After a few minutes he yelled that the damn dog just peed in his moccasin. I ran to the bathroom, closed the door and laughed my head off. I had to quickly regain my composure. I certainly couldn’t go back out laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes.
Dakota learned him name and how to come as quickly as he learned everything else. The barn owner where we boarded had been telling us to bring him with us so we could stay longer. He was about 4 months old when we decided he could go to the barn. We got there and got him out of the truck. Charlie was there and told me to unhook the leash. I looked at Greg. We have to let him loose sometime. Let’s see how well he knows his name and comes. He stayed with us until he saw a barn cat. I called, he ignored me. I called again, he still ignored me. I ran over, grabbed his collar and took him back to where I was when I called him. He got the message for now. We had 2 or 3 more repeat performances before he started listening.
Dakota loved the barn and we took him every weekend. He’d play with the baby goats and calves from the other side of the fence. There were a few other dogs to play with and people. It didn’t take him long to learn how to con everyone into playing with him. I kept a few tennis balls in my tack box and gave them to him when we got there. Everybody he saw got a ball dropped in front of them. He also learned that barn cats didn’t make good playmates.
He was loose while we groomed and tacked up the horses then went into a clean stall or our trailer with water and toys until we finished riding. When we were finished riding we’d turn him loose while we finished up with the horses. He was a very good boy at the barn, but everything took twice as long when you’re watching a pup and trying to get things done. When we put the horses away we’d often take Dakota for a run in the hayfield. He’s run out in front and circle back to us. That was a hunting dog. He was instinctually pushing game back to us! When we were ready to go home, he was so dirty he’d get a bath with horse shampoo and hop in the truck. After 5-7 hours of playing he was exhausted ready to go home. After a 30-minute ride, he was ready to play again. One day Dakota heard a noise in the hay barn and went to investigate. He came flying out with mama chicken on his tail. She chased him at least 500’ and pecking him every chance she got. She was satisfied he was far enough away from her chicks and stopped. He added chickens to the list of not good playmates and avoided them at all cost.
Little by little Raisin was coming around. There’s less cowering and more tail wagging. As he started to put on some weight and feel better he became more active. He was learning how to play with his toys and harass cats a little. The weather was getting nice and he wanted to lay on the deck in the back yard while I was working. I’d check on him once in awhile and found him sunning himself. Raisin was finally starting to relax and enjoy life.
It was Memorial Day weekend 2011. It was such a beautiful day we decided to sit on the front porch and have coffee/tea. We put the baby gate at the entrance so Raisin couldn’t get out. There was a 2 1/2′ wall on one side and the rest was fenced. He could sit out with us and enjoy the pretty morning without being on a leash. We opening the door to go out. Raisin ran out the door and came to a screeching halt at the baby gate. He looked around, quickly turned left and over the wall he went. We were in shock. How did that little sickly dog with bad legs scale that wall? Over the wall I went. Up the hill into the woods in slippers and sweats. I could hear him baying as he gained ground. I followed him thru places only a rabbit could fit. I followed his baying over the mountain, down the other side. I called and called. No use. That nose had him and wouldn’t let go. I was in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone. I was soaked and exhausted. I finally caught up with him at a small creek. I called him. He wagged his tail and took off … nose down, tail up and baying. At least he was heading toward home this time. The baying stopped and I had nothing to follow. The only thing I could do is head home and see if he showed up. I finally made it to the road. Easier walking. Greg met me on the road and said Raisin was home. 45 minutes after this fiasco started, it was over. Raisin and I was soaked to the skin and filthy. It was 7:30 am. I’d already had my exercise for the week and almost no coffee. As much as I wanted to collapse, Raisin and I headed to the bathroom. Raisin got his bath and I handed him to Greg for drying while I showered. We spent the rest of the morning relaxing while Raisin slept in his bed.
By late afternoon Raisin couldn’t get up. I called the vet and they said to come right away. The on call vet would meet us there. We explained what happened as Dr. Geoff examined him. Raisin’s chronic cough turned into servere pneumonia because of his morning dash. He had to stay in the hospital. It was going to be touch and go for a few days.
It wasn’t the farm, but it was ours. The yard was fenced so I didn’t have to worry about Mocha and there were woods at the back of the property for Furball to go off and do his cat things. He was a weary outside cat, so I didn’t have to worry about him getting near the road. Jazzy was too young and active to go out there so much to her dismay, she had to stay in.
Furball wasn’t happy about having to stay inside until he got used to his new home. I would have liked him to stay in longer, but he absolutely insisted he had to go out. I couldn’t stand the howling, pacing and scratching at the door any longer so I let him out the back door. He was cautious and happy to be out. He and Mocha hung out in the yard for a while. He jumped the fence and Mocha came in with me.
Now I had the other one to contend with. Jazzie couldn’t understand why Furball could go out and she couldn’t. She played with Mocha and “helped” me work during the day then bugged Furball at night when he came in. She wasn’t happy, but she dealt with her new-found situation.
Mocha seemed to have found a new friend. There was a yellow Lab that lived across the street. She’d go to the fence when she went out to look for her friend and they liked to bark at each other.
I guess between Greg’s guitars and Mocha’s barking, we were going to be the noisy neighbors …. Again.
The farm was owned by an older couple. They bought it when they were first married and work it all of their lives. When they retired from farming, they built a house up the street on a different part of the farm. The rented out the original house. The land was farmed by someone else. He was very nice, she was a witch. We didn’t know what she was like until after we moved in and the guys next door told us.
It was summer and our neighbors had picnics. They always had friends over. We put signs at the barn to try to keep people away. Apparently they couldn’t read. We constantly found people messing with our horses. We talked to our neighbors about it, but that didn’t work and better than the signs. Having the horses with us was getting to be a problem.
We were there about 7 or 8 months. The owner had been coming down more and more to do things. His visits were during the day when everybody was at work. This would have been fine, but he found reasons to knock on the door and talk. I had work to do and really couldn’t deal with the interruptions. The more he came down, the bitchier she got. Then she started knocking at the door to yell at me. To this day I have no idea what she was yelling about. It was getting to be too much. We could see where this was probably going and we decided to move the horses to a near by boarding stable.
The horses were moved to their new home. It was a relief not to have to worry about people being around them. The fence came down and was stored in the barn with the rest of our horse things. We were still paying the extra for the barn so there was no hurry to get our belongings out. One night we came home from dinner out. I don’t remember why we went to the barn. We found the doors screwed shut and a no trespassing sign on the door. We weren’t sure what was going on. We didn’t do anything wrong. Nobody said a word to us. The following day we removed everything from the barn.
It was time to start looking for a new place to live. Life was getting more and more uncomfortable and I wasn’t happy about being home alone all day. The cats were no longer allowed out and my trips outside with Mocha were limited until Greg got home from work. In the midst of all of this we lost electric one day. The neighbors didn’t have any either so I called to report it. They said they never received our payment so they shut it off. I told them I’d give them payment over the phone but they needed to turn it back on because we had no water. Try to explain to an electric company employee from the city what a well was and how a well pump worked. I also told them they shut our neighbor’s electric off too. Within a few hours someone from the electric company was knocking at the door. We’d have electric back! They came to investigate why the neighbors had no electric and why none of us had water. It turned out there was one meter for both houses. The boys had no idea because their electric was included in their rent. Greg and I had been paying for both sides of the house since we moved in. The electric company gave us a refund of everything we paid them since we’d been there and sent the owner a bill. The bill would stay in his name until he installed a separate meter. To add insult to injury, he got a hefty fine for not having separate electric for each unit.
This s**t really hit the fan after that. Fortunately we bought a house, gave our written notice and just had to wait for settlement and moving day. It couldn’t come soon enough! Koko and Wrangler moved to a boarding barn. Mocha, Furball and Jasmine, Greg and I moved to our new house.
Along with the standard puppy lessons, Mocha was learning how to be a farm puppy. She was pretty good during my work day. At lunch we’d play in the yard and work on her lessons. We’d walk over to check on the horses. After I was finished work we’d go out to do stalls. She learned another lesson that I wasn’t happy about – how to roll in and eat horse manure. Oh well… she’s a farm puppy. She also learned that a bath with horse shampoo in the barn yard wasn’t as much fun as rolling in manure.
Mocha and Jazzy were becoming best buddies. They spent hours playing, which kept Mocha out of trouble for the most part. After dinner and dishes and after the horses were taken care of was now play time instead of relaxing time. Refusing to play resulted in her stealing something that belonged to the person she wanted to play with, finding that person and running off with her treasure. She had to be chased around the house. When she had enough she’d drop what she stole. Playtime was over and we could relax.
Mocha loved people and had to visit all of them. The oil man, the guys that lived in the other part of the house. It didn’t matter who as long as they made a fuss over her. She had the oil man laying on the ground one day, standing on his chest and licking his face. Wasn’t one of my reasons for a dog a watch dog? That wasn’t going to happen.
It had been quite some time since I had a puppy and I’d forgotten how stressful if could be at times. I also forgot about the middle of the night trips outside because puppies couldn’t sleep all night. I was quickly reminded about all of it. Getting a puppy in the winter wasn’t very good timing either. With temps in the teens at 2:00 am Mocha decided it was the best time to sniff the entire yard for a spot to go. Every night, like clockwork. I found it to be funny, but I wasn’t the one standing outside freezing at 2 am. I at least got to freeze at 6 am.
Winter finally turned into spring and we could get out more. We roamed the farm and found the stream and creek. Mocha and Jazzy played in the water. Furball had no sense of humor for the pup so he didn’t go for walks with us. She graduated to a 30′ line to see how well she listened and give her more room to run. That was going so well I decided off leash training could start. As soon as she was off the line the pup couldn’t hear a thing I said. The nose went down and she was off chasing scents. I was off chasing down Mocha. This was going to take quite a bit of work to get her to listen to me instead of her nose.