Saturday, September 23, 2017

Louie's Last Day

A Couple of Photos Leading up to, and The Story of Louie's Last Day

This first photo is with Todd at Fountain Vet on the day he was diagnosed with cancer.
Louie with his buddy, Dr. Todd

This second pic is Louie enjoying the warm and sunshiney porch in June.
Louie in a sunny spot, June 2017

My son Dario is incredibly empathetic for only being three  (almost four). He has been so sweet and gentle with Louie, and very kind to me as I have been coming to terms with Louie's cancer diagnosis and the difficult decision to put him to rest.
Dario pets Louie 'so gently'. 9/22/17
"It's okay Louie, I love you." 9/22/17
Resting in the sunny car on the way to the vet 9/23/17

The last car ride. 9/23/17

Louie's Last Day

Louie's car ride to the vet today was so bitter sweet. He still loved getting in the car with me, but it was so hard for him to lay down with the gigantic tumor taking up all the room. I laughed as Louie sniffed around to find two stale old lost french fries on the floor of the car. He had just settled in when I saw his nostrils begin to flare. He flopped himself onto the floor or the car to sniff around. This guy never lost his appetite even with all his pain and discomfort. You just can't hide food from a blind dog.
Still excited to arrive at the vet! 9/23/17

This photo of Louie standing in the car really shows the size and scope of this tumor. We really let Louie go on as long as he wanted, and he was so tough. He had joy and happiness right up until the last day or two, and even those days were not without joy. They were just sprinkled in between being exhausted and uncomfortable.

So exhausted from the journey from the car into the building.
Full snuggles.

Louie was so relieved to finally get in to the vets office after it took him 10 minutes to limp up the wheelchair ramp. People kept stopping and asking me what was wrong with him, was his leg broken? Does he need help? Do you want me to help carry him?

I sobbed and could barely answer. I couldn't look up. I have no idea who these people were. I stood in the sun outside that building as tears streamed down my cheeks. "He has cancer. This is our last walk together and I just want him to be able to take his time."

I knew he would be scared and uncomfortable if we lifted him. He had to do that on his own and at his own pace, like I have let him live his whole blind life. He did it on his own, and I was proud of him.

One last fish lip shot. 9/23/17
Don't mind him breaking my knee with his love. and jaw bone.

When we got inside Louie immediately collapsed on to the floor. He was so worn out from just getting up the ramp and inside. He let go as soon as he felt carpet under his paws. We staying the waiting room for a few minutes until it was our turn.

I got a hug from a perfect stranger who could see why we were there and had felt that pain before. It was so nice for someone to reach out in such a personal way, even though we had never met.

When we were called back it took a long time just to get around the corner and into the room. Inside there was a pad and a soft blanket lying on the floor. I started to cry again as I guided Louie with verbal cues to find the blanket and lie down.

I sat on the floor with my legs crossed at the ankles and Louie leaned against me. He put his head across my legs as he often did. I took a few more last pictures of him before putting my camera away and waiting for the doctors footsteps.

I held his heavy square head in my hands and kissed his velvety face a few more times. Our vet talked about how there are only a few dogs in his career that will always be with him, that he will always remember, and Louie is one of those dogs.

This remarkable dog thrived against the odds and did it without ever even considering if the odds were in his favor or not. Louie is an inspiration and has made me choose a better path than I would have found had I never met him. I am forever grateful for the teachings of the Tao of Lou.
One last photo before the vet comes in. So peaceful and so tired.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Big Sad News

June 6th, 2017
Louie, about 7 weeks old.

This has been a hard post to write, and as I begin, I am still not sure how I am about to say this, so bear with me as I tear this opened:

Louie has a birthday coming up. He will turn 11 on June 23rd, 2017. Louie has been my dog for all but the first 6 weeks of those 11 years, when he was still just his mommy's puppy.

In those 11 years spent with Louie I have learned and grown so much as a person. So much has happened, so much has changed. I have Louie to thank for helping me develop such a strong resolve and a positive attitude, even when life gives me lemons.

Young Louie before his eye surgery.
Blind Louie has an inoperable cancerous tumor. We found out today, June 6th, 2017. There was a lump at the top of his front left leg. In his armpit really. It started to grow quickly and began interfering in the way he was walking. We took him to our vet. Louie's longtime friend and veterinarian. The one who suggested the gentamicin injections to save his eyes from enucleation and stop the pain of glaucoma (Read about that Here and Here). Todd changed our lives that day and we are forever thankful.

Today Dr. Todd said Louie has a cancerous tumor. It can't be removed or stopped. It might grow very rapidly, we can't be sure. He may only have a few weeks. I don't know how to handle this. I don't know how to talk about this. I don't know how to write about it either.

September 21st, 2017

Louie's adorable fish lip, 2012
Louie stayed happy and content for months after his diagnosis. Some pain medicine at night helped him sleep more comfortably. Anti-inflammatory drugs seemed to shrink the tumor some at first, but just for a week or so. The tumor continued to grow. Louie limped more and more until he couldn't move his paw, it just drug on the ground. One day in August, my dad called me crying saying it was time. I went next door to find Louie sunning himself on the porch. When I approached he started wagging his tail and 'looked' at me, he got up and licked my face. He was happy. He ate food, drank water and could walk himself outside and down the stairs to go to the bathroom. I didn't think it was time. He still had joy. I talked to my husband and my parents and said I would know when the time came. I would know when we needed to give him permanent relief from his pain and suffering, but it was not that time yet.

The last few days, the tail wagging is so gentle it barely moves. He doesn't lick me. His paw is raw and bloody from dragging on the ground and his back legs are now weak. He is skinny, although he is still eating. He is sick and so very tired. My heart aches for him. I keep telling him it's okay to go. I'm hoping that he just leaves us in his sleep. I don't think he will. He is too strong willed. With everything he has been through in his life. Living with constant pain is something Louie has always known and accepted. I just can't see him giving up.

Now it is up to me to decide when it is time to let him go. This is one of the hardest decisions I will ever make, I'm sure. I love Louie more than I ever imagined I could love a dog. 

Louie's Thank you card after surgery.

Thank You

I want to thank Michael Nichols (The Dog Guy) for teaching the one and only training class Louie ever took. He taught the class that Louie and I attended in 2012 that earned Louie his AKC Canine Good Citizen title. I was so proud of him when he passed that test, blind as a bat and still the leader of his class.

I also want to thank Todd at Fountain vet for always treating Louie and I like family, and for thinking of a creative way of treating Louie's condition. We are forever grateful.

Thanks to my husband, Paul for accepting blind Louie as his step dog when we got together and always loving him like his very own pup pup.

And so much thanks to my mom and especially my dad. When we moved next door to them Louie decided he liked their porch and house better after we had a small human crawling around the house. My folks never even questioned letting Louie spend so much time there the last few years as he has aged. He went everywhere with my dad and his dog Budde. I appreciate everything they have done for us over the years.

Louie meets Meatloaf, 2012
Thank you to my good friend Meegan, who carefully convinced me to adopting a puppy when her 2 awesome dogs had a litter. Best.Decision.Ever.

Lastly, to fate who allowed me to pick the puppy with the 'blue' eyes who had the best personality. Unknowing that his eyes were not blue, but riddled with glaucoma and rapidly going blind.

Thank you to blind Louie for showing me that life is beautiful no matter your circumstances. We can all choose to be happy. 

Thank you, Blind Louis Bernard Swift Waschke.

I love you, now and forever.

Most handsome and shiny blind dog contest winner.
Through the years we have helped a lot of people who just discovered the adorable puppy they had adopted had glaucoma and would be blind. Through this blog I was able to reach people all over the country and beyond and spread the word that there was another option for treatment of glaucoma in dogs other than removing their eyes. While this treatment did not stop the dog from going blind, it stopped their pain and discomfort.

For most dogs, being blind is no big deal. It's always harder on their humans. Louie has taught me, and hopefully the readers of this blog as well, to take everything in stride. To do your best with the circumstances you are given and be thankful for every moment you have.

Louie being gentle and patient for his 1 year old buddy, Dario. 2014

Friday, June 12, 2015

Walking a Blind Dog and Pushing a Stroller

This morning my son Dario, Blind Louie and I walked to the post office to drop a letter in the mail box.
The letter was just an excuse really. We all just wanted to get out for a walk. Louie spent the night next door at my dads house. He was pretty excited when he came outside and heard me getting his leash and harness ready. I was actually surprised he was awake. He usually sleeps in and it was just before 8:00 am when I showed up. I was sure he'd still be under the covers.
Using the white line as a marker for me, and the grass as a marker for Louie.

We haven't walked much at all with the stroller.
I wasn't sure how Louie would do walking next to this big thing. The stroller doesn't make much noise, which is good and bad for Louie. If it was really loud, he might not feel comfortable walking next to it. Being silent is tough too, more likely to veer off and bump into it.

Usually when I walk Louie, I keep him right at my side. No sense in the blind leading the sighted right? When he walks by my side he will periodically brush against my leg, then swerve out away from me until he feels his leash start to tighten and back and forth again and again. I decided that when we walked with the stroller that Louie would have to still stay right next me because his swervy walking just wouldn't do if he was bumping into the tire. Well, I was wrong.

When we took off I tried to keep Louie by my side, it was hard.
Louie 'looking' at the chatty baby on wheels.
He could hear the stroller tires on the pavement just ahead of him and he really wanted to settle in next to Dario in his chariot. I slowed down and coaxed Louie back. When we took off again he bumped into the back of the moving tire. As I struggled to push the stroller, hold the leash, stay on the side of the road, keep Louie from getting tangled in the spokes and move my own two feet a thought occurred. "I'm making this too complicated".

I relaxed my shoulders and jaw, took a deep breath and loosened the leash. I focused on walking in a straight line. I used the white line on the side of the road as a guide. I think Louie liked being on the border of the pavement and grass. He knew to stay on the pavement and if he touched grass then scoot back over.

This worked wonderful! Dario talked to Louie through his little side window and Louie stayed right along side him.

Dario repeats 'stay' after hearing me ask Louie to sit/stay. Louie responds with a tilted head.

Leaving home to go anywhere means we have to cross the railroad tracks.
Often, when walking across the tracks I get the vision of a scene from a movie. I don't remember which one. Some young man gets his shoe stuck on the railroad tracks. Of course as soon as you notice his trapped shoe you see the train coming right for him, which for some reason you did not hear coming at all before that very moment. Even though the train is just a few feet away now. I have that same scenario play out in my head, only it's with Louie's stuck paw. So I'm careful to communicate with Louie when a step is coming. I say "step up" every time we move over a track. There are two sets of tracks. So saying "step up" four times on the way to the post office meant hearing Dario on the way back telling Louie "up, up, up, up!". Good job both of you!

Now, what did I learn today?
I learned that walking with a blind dog and a baby in a stroller can be relaxing and fun if I let it. I also learned that it's pretty hard to take pictures while you are walking with a blind dog and a baby in a stroller. Maybe I can hire a photographer to follow us on our next walk for more proper documentation. Nah. Sounds expensive.

Do you have any tips on walking a dog and pushing a stroller at the same time? With a blind dog or a sighted dog this can present a challenge. We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Leave a comment here or find us on Facebook!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cookies For All!

Louie asking Dario "Pretty please can we share?"
It has been an unusually sunny start to March here in the Pacific Northwest. Although it has still been chilly, we have been enjoying  and taking full advantage of the great weather. We live in a place that gets so much rain that it is pretty common to see folks out in short sleeves and sandals at the first sight of the sun, even if the temperatures are still around freezing!

So, with a fair afternoon at hand I decided we would take Dario's snack time outside to find a sunny warm spot to enjoy a few nibbles.

Full concentration from both

Of course, there was Louie! He was already ahead of the game. Blind Louie found the warmest sunniest spot, as he usually does. He was just lounging, soaking up the rays. I took advantage of this chance meeting for Dario and Louie to both practice calm and good manners with their food.

Dario's snack is a Baker's Breakfast Cookie. It's a little less cookie and a little more portable bowl of oatmeal. It's an okayed-by-mom snack for a toddler and is okay in moderating for Louie too. I couldn't say the same about my (not really) world famous chocolate chip cookies!

I snagged a piece off of the cookie and asked Louie to sit, stay and wait. I made sure Dario was waiting too. No touching Louie at this point please. I placed the piece of cookie on his nose and moved my hands away slowly. I handed back the cookie and wrapper to a very excited Dario so he could dig in. There they stood next to each other, Louie as still as a statue and Dario way more interested in a tasty treat than in whatever that 'Roo-Roo Goggy' was doing. Success.

After a minute or so and a few quick pictures I turned to Louie and said 'Okay!'. He flipped the cookie up and caught it in his mouth! Bam! Flawless. What a talented guy he is. I wish I had the camera rolling. Dario was pretty impressed too.

Here's Grandpa feeding the pigs some Breakfast Cookies
My husband works at the Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods factory. They make those handy, healthy and portable breakfast cookies I mentioned in several different flavors as well as a few types of granola too. Our hogs get to eat as good as we do because Paul brings home the scraps from the factory. It makes perfect hog feed! Whole grains, chia seeds, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter and more. The piggies absolutely love it! Here is a few photos of our six hogs enjoying their bounty.
We wouldn't feed them anything we wouldn't feed our family

 Read More About Blind Louie and Pigs in Our Previous Posts HERE and HERE

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Year Later

It has been a long while since I have written a new blog post. Having a baby has been all consuming. Finally the hormones are wearing off and I'm not just staring at him in awe constantly. Well, most of the time I'm in awe but I'm getting used to it so it's not so distracting. I've gotten good at multitasking. Staring in awe and being productive. Check.

Blind Louie practicing calm next to 2 month old Dario, 12/13
Adding a baby to our 2 human-2 cat-2 dog household has shaken things up a bit, but not too much. Just enough to make things interesting. Louie and little D get along swimmingly now. I just make sure the baby in polite and uses gentle hands and Louie loves that another person is giving him attention. It was a different story when Dario was a newborn.

Louie just wasn't sure what to make of this tiny baby, but he was determined to figure it out. It was challenging to keep Lou from crushing the new baby while trying to deep smell him and lick him at the same time. They just had to be separated most of the time. Louie got his baby visits with a chaperone giving complete and undivided attention to the situation. Soothing talk with words like 'slowly' 'gentle' and 'wait' helped Louie contain his enthusiasm enough to be up close and give the baby a  good sniff.

During the first six months of being a mother, having my parents living next door was a really big help with Louie. He usually spent nights next door and got to spend tons of time with Budde the Puppy who is not a puppy at all anymore. It is also a fact that Louie absolutely loves my dad.

Louie walks along side one year old Dario, 11/14
As Dario grew and started vocalizing, he became less mysterious to Louie. I think when the only sound the baby made was crying, Lou was a little confused by him. Now that Dario is walking and getting sturdy on his feet, let the fun begin! Louie does so well walking next to people and follows voice commands amazingly, this makes walks with blind dog and baby in the yard are super fun and easy. If Louie is going too fast and heading right for the baby I say 'Stop', and he stops and waits for me to catch up and lead. All these years of working with him have really paid off. Now, as for training this baby of ours. That is proving to be much different than training a dog if you can believe it, but just as fun!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting Ready to Meet the New Family Member

Here we are, it's October already. I haven't posted any updates since just after we moved in July. That is a long time! Funny, looking at the blog now, this will be our 100th post. Pretty neat. 100 posts in just over 1 year.

Louie's favorite sleep spot in our bathroom
As you may know from previous entries, we are expecting. Expecting what? A baby! In October... oh wait, it is October now. I've been saying that for so long now, we're due in October. Now I can say, we're due in 8 days! Wow. Louie still has no idea. He knows we got new furniture in the extra room in the house. He knows that the new giant dog bed we put in there for him mistakenly has some sort of cage around it so he can't get in, and he knows that I walk slower than I used to. He is a very observant dog, that Louie.

Snorp on the other hand seems to get that something is up. He is a very sensitive and intuitive dog. He watched us move things into the baby's room. He watched as Paul assembled the crib and other furniture. He's found his favorite spot to sleep is on the floor next to the crib. I don't know if that's just because he is enjoying his own private room or if he is waiting for something to appear there. He is more gentle and loving towards me than ever. I have a hunch that he has a hunch that something is happening, but he doesn't know what.

Louie enjoying the dog bed on the porch
I've put a lot of thought about what it will be like having a newborn with two big dogs in the house. I know they will be curious and excited with a new being in the home. I have a handle on how to introduce our seeing dog, Snorp, but I'm struggling with Louie a little more. Louie does not understand the 'personal bubble' as Snorp does. Snorp can sit across the room and evaluate the situation with his eyes. He also works great with non verbal commands. I can reach my arm out and put my hand up, palm out and he will stop in his tracks. This will keep him away and let the baby continue resting. Louie is different. He wouldn't see my hand until he bumped into it.

Louie is also pretty excitable with kids. He loves them. He wants to get right up there and snuggle and lick faces. They taste all salty and like milk! When he met a friends 3 month old, it was typical Louie. He licked her face and wagged his tail like crazy. When we told him he'd had enough he still wanted to sit right next to us and be as close to his new friend as possible. When I am tired and just learning how to juggle a newborn and a million other things, I'll have to be careful not to trip over the big dog that is under my feet. Again, Louie won't get out of the way because he sees me coming. That will be my job.

Louie and his cat Halford on our bed
I know like so much of life that this will be a learn as I go experience. I have read a lot. I have worked with Louie a lot and I have put a lot of thought into it. After all, Louie is a certified Canine Good Citizen. I know he is trainable. We have already set some limits and he knows very well basic commands. Now I just have to take the time to use them, staying calm and happy. I also cannot forget that Uncle Louie was here first, and he'll still need my attention and love too.

After this dog training comes the task of training a baby human. I do have pretty good experience with puppies, but I have a feeling this may be a little more challenging. Once they are old enough to crawl around and grab things one of the first important lessons will be how to treat and respect a dog and a cat. With all parties on board we can live in a peaceful and safe household.

Any of our readers have tips or suggestion on this issue? Read any good articles? Please share them here in the comments section or on our Facebook page

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Moving to a New House!

Louie enjoying his sunny new porch in the morning.

So, we're moving. Not far away by any means. We're moving right next door actually. We'll still be next door to my parents and Budde the Puppy, who's not such a little puppy anymore. We're moving to a house with two bedrooms, instead of the one bedroom we've been in. We are making room for the baby that should be arriving sometime in October.

The Dogs love the new yard and huge back porch. We let Louie come over and check the place out before any furniture was there. That is something I haven't really done before. Usually, I prefer it if he stays away until we have furniture arranged where it will be staying so he can really map out his new surroundings. This time it was a little harder to keep him away since we were walking back and forth between the new house and our old house and he was following right along of course.

Louie trying out the new couch as a possible sleeping home base.
Louie seemed to really enjoy checking out the empty house. He softly bumped into some walls and followed right along with me while I showed him around. Then it was time to start moving boxes. I was going to put him inside at my dads house so he would be out of the way, but Louie decided that he'd put himself on time out. We had moved the dog bed's first and we set them, temporarily, on the back porch. Louie found his dog bed and made that his home base. As we moved things he enjoyed his dog bed in a new location.

Louie is slow moving in the new house when he first wakes up. This is a good thing. Sleep for him hits some kind of reset button. In the old house he had only 3 places where he would sleep: on our bed with us, on the living room dog bed or on a chair in the living room. The house was very small. Now there is much more room to fall asleep, and much more space to get lost in (but there is still not enough room on our bed Louie, scoot over!) The fist night in the new house, Louie fell asleep with me on my bed. When Paul came to bed and had Louie move from his spot, we took the time to show Louie we weren't in the old house anymore. We helped him jump down and get his bearings. When he was finally settled he chose a spot on the carpeted floor at the foot of the bed. Our dog Snorp was sleeping just a few feet away. That was perfect.

All three dogs, fast asleep in the new backyard.
When I woke up the next morning, Louie was no longer at the foot of the bed. Where did he go? I checked the living room, the kitchen, the hallway and the still empty baby-to-be's room. Nothing. Finally, I went to use the bathroom and there he was. We have two bathrooms in this new house and one is in the master bedroom. Louie and I have never experienced such luxury. The strange thing is, this bathroom is carpeted. Weird, I think. I have never lived anywhere with a carpeted bathroom. I think this dates the house and shows it has not been remodeled in about forty years. It is pretty awesome looking overall, but the bathroom carpet seems wrong. I guess Louie thought so too. I don't think he realized he was sleeping in the bathroom because he was still in the room with us and there was still the same carpet. Louie was fast asleep on the bathmat.

Louie likes throw rugs and dog beds because it's an easy marker to where he is in the room. I'm sure he thought of the bathmat as his new dog bed in our room. I think it really confused him when I started to brush my teeth right near where he was laying! What!

All in all, this has been fun. It has been tough for me in that I can't move things like I usually would due to my 'condition'. I'm 7 months pregnant already! But this has made me realize and appreciate that my husband is such a good guy and a hard worker. I packed some, and unpacked, but he moved just about everything. Louie, not so much. He just 'watched'.