Golden Beauties

I’ve never been around this many dogs in one place before.¬†Dozens of Golden Retrievers running, playing, and lounging in the sun.

Who let the dogs out?  :)

Who let the dogs out? ūüôā

Holly, Kali, and I had the recent pleasure of joining other Golden owners and their dogs at an annual picnic hosted by Jill who heads up a Northern CA rescue group. ¬†Partnering with other groups, notably the group in Taiwan where Kali was rescued, Jill and other volunteers coordinate the rescue and adoption of¬†dozens and dozens of¬†Golden’s each year. ¬†This annual gathering of Goldens, many from Taiwan,¬†was very cool.

If you’ve followed Kali since she arrived almost a year ago you know that she has a lot of anxiety around other dogs. ¬†Her leash aggression is much¬†better but she still becomes anxious and barks a lot when around another dog. ¬†Or dogs…. ¬†So this play day for Kali was a little stressful but overall I think a good experience for her. ¬†But, this post is not about Kali as much as it is about the dynamics and¬†similarities I saw between a half acre full of Goldens and a playground full of elementary school age kids or a birthday party at the park.

Like a playground full of kids there was a flurry of activity and distinct types of personalities.  But this playground was set up for dogs.   There was plenty of grass, dirt, and room to run. There were open areas to explore and spots to lie in the shade.  There were dozens of tennis balls for chasing and several wading pools to splash around in.

There was the group of “kids” playing ball with whoever would throw it for them. ¬† This¬†reminded me of the baseball game I played as a kid called “three flies up” where someone hits a ball in the air and the first kid in the group to catch three becomes the new batter.

There were kids who were more inclined to swimming.  Like many young children whose parents have to coax them out of the water to rest or eat there were lots of dogs who enjoyed hanging out in the wading pools, splashing around, and cooling off.

Some dogs just wandered around greeting both fellow fur babies and owners. ¬†Whenever a new dog would enter the play area there was a flurry of activity by the gate as the new “kid” arrived. ¬†The entrance to the play area is crafted in a way that there are always double gates for the dogs to enter and exit through so there is no chance of accidental escape or separation. It was great to have many of the wanderers come up to me and say hello with a wag of the tail and sniff. ¬†Just like kids who will talk your ear off¬†these dogs were anxious to say hello, socialize, and tell me about their latest adventure.

In the shady areas there were dogs resting or sleeping or hanging back with mom or dad seemingly content to watch the others play¬†just like kids at a birthday party or play group. ¬†And then there were the awkward kids, just as lovable and precious, but a little unsure of how to fit in. ¬†This was Kali as she hung in the background, barked when she got nervous, and spent time exploring on her own not knowing how to make friends. ¬†Kali seemed most at ease when she was with me and Holly off to the side. ¬†Or, maybe that’s just me projecting my interpretation of Kali’s insecurities on her…

It was very cool to see some dogs in person who I first saw in pictures when they were still in Taiwan getting ready for adoption. How gratifying for so many people, especially the rescue group volunteers , to see all these healthy and happy dogs all together knowing where they came from and the challenges, and sometimes abuse, they had to endure.

I’m so glad that in a small way Holly, Kali, and I could be part of this great day but more significantly, a part of a group of great people who are doing great things and making a difference. ¬†A difference for these golden beauties who are filled with love, gratitude, and the wisdom of a soul who has endured, in many cases, great hardship.

Chillin'

Chillin’

Pool Party!

Pool Party!

I’m Still Kicking Myself: Epilogue

I’m no longer kicking myself and I managed to correct the mistake; the mistake of cutting Kali’s dew claw in a manner that it split and exposed the quick. So me with a sore butt from kicking myself and Kali with a slightly sore foot are finally doing better and are back to our routine. This is a good thing since we are both such creatures of habit.

As suspected the entire nail had to come off. So after the vet examined the nail on Monday afternoon I left Kali with her. I was very proud of Kali who let the vet examine her nail without flinching or making a fuss. The biscuit I held in front of her nose didn’t hurt the effort… Brenda, Kali’s new vet, said she’d be ready to pick up at 5:00 (Kali not Brenda ¬†ūüôā So I left Kali, went home, and watched the final innings of the San Francisco Giants home opener on TV. ¬†I was surprised that I wasn’t stressed or worried. I don’t like anesthesia. Even with the modern technology to monitor blood oxygen levels mistakes can happen and if there isn’t enough oxygen flowing through the blood to the brain there can be irreversible damage. But I wasn’t worried and the only stress I had in my body was from watching my Giants losing the game.

When Holly and I arrived to pick up Kali the med tech told us what a great patient she was. I was like a proud dad talking to the doctors after a child’s tonsillectomy. The med tech brought Kali out and she had a major wrap job on her foot. She was happy to see us and was released with some antibiotics, pain meds to be used only if she needed them (she didn’t), and no restrictions for activity beyond the first night of “taking it easy”.

When we got home it was evident that Kali was still a little loopy from the anesthesia. She had a blank stare about her and when she lied down and fell asleep she had major dreams and was growling off and on in her sleep.

Although it was little hard for her to walk up the stairs that night she slept soundly through the night and by morning all was well. We took a couple of short walks with the bandage on the next day.   It probably felt a little strange to her to walk along the path with a artificially padded foot but she did fine and was glad to be back on the trail.

Last night I took off the bandages. It was really cool to watch Kali as I unwrapped all the bandages, tape,and padding the medical staff¬†had compressed around the wound area. Although she was never in any pain Kali was not real pleased about her foot being wrapped. As I unraveled and removed the bandages she looked up at me and seemed to say thank you for getting all the “stuff” off her foot.

So today for the first time in almost two weeks we walked without a cracked nail, blood, or a bandage. Kali walked, I walked. ¬†And for the first time in almost two weeks I didn’t kick myself.

Golden Kali (and Dad) is back!

Wrapped (looks a little like those socks the race horses wear - kinda cool!)

Wrapped (looks a little like those socks the race horses wear – kinda cool!)

Unwrapped (looks like we got our money's worth)

Unwrapped (looks like we got our money’s worth)

After the procedure and bandages off

After the procedure and bandages off

I’m still kicking myself

I’m still kicking myself. ¬†Holly told¬†me to let it go but my nature is to continue kicking myself until I correct the mistake I made. ¬†Sometimes it takes longer than I’d like but I usually find a way to fix “it” whatever it happens to be… ¬†And I will this time too!

Kali’s nails never need clipping because our daily walks seem to¬†keep them short. ¬†They pretty much always look the same. ¬†Neatly manicured by mother nature. ¬†Except for her dew claws. ¬†These tend to get long and I know when they begin to bother Kali because she’ll start to chew on them. ¬†So last week when I saw her chewing on them¬†I took a look and sure enough they looked¬†like little hooks and in need of a trim. ¬†I’ve trimmed them a few¬†times and although it’s not a favorite grooming activity of Kali’s¬†(to say the least) she¬†usually reluctantly complies and I’m able to get off a quick snip without any problems.

But not last week.  Last week Kali squirmed away just as I was pressing down on the handle of the clippers and I immediately knew that I had hurt her.  I caught the nail too close to the quick.  There was a bit of blood and probably a bit of pain for Kali.  Holly helped and as I held Kali still Holly quickly cauterized the nail with styptic powder and wrapped the area with a sterile bandage and gauze.

Kali was fine but I wasn’t. ¬†I walked around the kitchen saying, “#%&!!…”. ¬†Holly: ¬†“Stop it, she’l be fine. ¬†It happens”. ¬†Me: ¬†“&*%$#!!”.

I went over to¬†Kali who was now laying down and settled. ¬† “I’m so sorry Kali. ¬†I’m so sorry I hurt you”. ¬†Kali didn’t seem to be in any pain and other than being a little confused about the bandage on her paw¬†everything was fine. ¬†But not for me. ¬†I wasn’t fine and I’m still kicking myself.

The next morning I was surprised to find the¬†paw quite¬†swollen but during the course of the morning the swelling resolved¬†and everything seemed fine. ¬† Kali¬†let me hold her paw and squeeze it gently. ¬†There was no apparent pain. ¬†The nail was¬†black but there was no bleeding so I didn’t re-bandage it. ¬† Then a couple of days later Kali was running in the yard and I saw her pull up and come hobbling back towards the house. ¬†The nail was bleeding again. ¬†We bandaged it and again the next day it was fine. ¬†Yesterday on our walk I noticed it bleeding. ¬†When we got home I did a closer inspection and could see that the nail was split – much like a hangnail – and the quick was exposed. ¬†Great – more kicking myself and some silent #%$^@!!”s. ¬†Kali walked on it fine but when I touched the “hangnail” she¬†didn’t¬†like that at all. ¬†When I moved the small piece it clearly hurt her.

Kali tried her best to be a good soldier; she knew what I wanted.  I wanted her to hold still while I washed and bandaged her paw.  But she was too scared and her instincts overrode the desire to obey.  It was an interesting dynamic seeing in her eyes both acknowledgement of what I wanted and also the fear of being hurt.

It took about 15 biscuits and some magician-like maneuvers to get it cleaned and re-bandaged. ¬† I soaked it for a few minutes in a pan of warm water, dried it off, and put on a new sterile bandage wrapped with gauze. ¬†Kali gave the bandage a cursory lick but for the most part ignored it and went off to sleep in the sun while I scoured “source of all truth” (the internet) ¬†to gather more information¬†about cracked dew claws.

Like most things you read about on the internet, and in life,¬†¬†there are many versions of the truth. ¬†But I did gather enough reasonable information to feel as though I had done the right thing by wrapping Kali’s dew claw¬†up and keeping it clean. ¬† It was quite interesting to read comments in forums from many dog owners that suggest the dew claw should be removed completely in order to avoid the problem in the first place. Many owners advocate amputation when the dog is spayed or put out for some other reason. ¬† I’m no expert but¬†that seems rather excessive and not something I would ever consider unless it became medically necessity. ¬†There were many countering opinions that suggested that dog’s need this appendage to help them maneuver when running and turning quickly as well as helping to hold things still such as a bone or Kong toy. ¬†That seemed much more reasonable to me.

Kali’s is no pain and walks just fine but clearly something needs to be done. ¬†So to be sure I’ll¬†take her to the vet to get a¬†professional assessment and to¬†see if the nail¬†needs to be clipped completely off in order to grow back properly or what the best treatment may be. ¬†I’m hoping the prognosis is that it will¬†resolve itself without medical intervention but I’m not very optimistic. I’ll know later today after we see the vet.

One thing I do know for sure is that it will be difficult for me to trim¬†Kali’s dew claws in the future. ¬† We’ll get past this and then I will begin a regimen of touching her toes and nails without involving clippers in order to get Kali used to it and to regain her confidence in me. ¬†It’s really something I should have done in the first place. I should have been regluarly touching her toes and nails and lavishing her with treats to reinforce her allowing me to do so before I ever attempted to clip the first time. Had I done so she wouldn’t have pulled away last week. ¬†There would be no cracked dew claw and no drama for my Golden Kali girl.

Like the old saying goes “should’ve, would’ve could’ve”. ¬†I knew better and ignored it. ¬† And¬†for that, I’m still kicking myself.

Give me more biscuits or I'll pull off the bandage  :)

Give me more biscuits or I’ll pull off the bandage ūüôā

 

Brandy

It all started with Brandy

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