Just As Everything Clicked … (Mocha)

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.

Life with a Chocolate Lab (Mocha)

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.


Mocha, Furball and Jasmine’s New Home

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.

Goodbye Farm

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.


Lisa’s Mocha Jewel

A farm needs a dog. Horse and dogs just go together. I’m home by myself all day and the cats aren’t going to protect me. All good justifications on why we needed a dog. We had to get a larger dog that could keep up with us when we rode the horses and follows us around while we did barn chores. I had Labs in the past and loved the breed. I did my research on breeders, picked out a pup and sent them a deposit. All I had to do was wait until she was old enough to come home.

It was a few days before Christmas 2006 and we were finally picking up our puppy. It was a long 3-hour drive. We had her new collar, leash and crate (in case we needed it). She was friendly, outgoing and playful. Everything I wanted in a pup. It was time to head home with our new addition. If we thought the drive out there was long, it was even longer going home with a whimpering pup. It was after dark by the time we pulled in to the driveway. We walked her into her new home. Just as Greg took her leash off, Furball came out to greet us. She saw him and took off after him. He bolted. She chased him around the house barking. He finally had enough & jumped on a speaker to get away from her and to see what’s been chasing him. She jumped up and put her paws on the speaker and got her first lesson from a cat. A good swat in the nose sent her runningaround the house yelping. When her nose stopped hurting she went back to bark at him again. Oh boy, this was going to be an adventure. Did I really tell the breeder I wanted the hell raiser of the litter?