Friday, May 13, 2011

The Family

Hi All, Thank you to everyone who is reposting this! I know some of you don't know us personally so allow me to introduce our little family.

John, Veronica, Toby (aka Toby Tobes or Tobes), Meg (aka MegMeg or Lil Baby MegMeg) and Pepper (aka Silly Chili Pepper)

Veronica and I met and fell in love in Chicago where we're both from. We both worked as employee benefits consultants in downtown Chicago, had a great condo in Old Town and spent our free time exploring the city for adventures. Life was good, but we wanted great. Three years ago we had a great opportunity to rent a house up near Hood Mountain in Sonoma County and decided it was time for a change and time to explore different fields in search of passion. I found a job at Deerfield Ranch Winery and Veronica started working as a receptionist at an animal hospital in Santa Rosa. Things moved pretty quick and within 6 months of being here we owned a foreclosed home that we fix up in our spare time and Vero starting working as a nurse at the hospital. We knew we wanted dogs someday and kept saying that once we get more of the house done, then it would be the right time. The right time found us though.

Enter Toby, our now 8 yo maltipoo.

Toby had been drinking more water and peeing in the house. Sidebar - if you really know Toby, he pees in the house to tell you something is wrong. Since his IMHA diagnosis he has peed inside a few times to let us know we need to take him in. All the floors in the house are finished except for one room which has some cardboard boxes on it for us to take out. He always pees on those boxes. He's not trying to hurt anything, it's just a way for him to communicate how he feels. Anyway, so Toby was drinking more and peeing inside. His family brought him in and turns out he was diabetic. Not life threatening diabetic but he would need insulin. His family decided that they couldn't care for him and the doctor persuaded them to surrender Toby to the hospital instead of euthanizing him. Before we met Toby, the decision was made rationally that with my work as a former volunteer paramedic and Veronica as a nurse, we could easily draw up and administer insulin (in fact, anyone can easily draw up and administer insulin). Once we met Toby, rational gave way to emotional and we brought our gorgeous boy home. Toby came from a one dog family and entered a one dog family. He was spoiled with belly rubs and long walks. Life was great and we were getting more done on the house so we started looking for another dog, both because we love dogs and to find Toby a friend. Quick note, for those of you who have experience with diabetic dogs, yes he got cataracts and yes he has had the surgery. Lil man loves his new eyes, that was a great day for our family. More on that at another time.

Enter Meg, shown here as the thing we call "blanket monster"

Meg, a long haired Jack Russel, was saved by another hospital in Sonoma. At the time, she was 12 years old, very itchy and suffered from untreated glaucoma. Similar story as Toby, the doctor persuaded the owners to release meg and one of the nurses fostered her. We took Toby over to meet Meg and walked them over to a park. His indifference to her was HUGE! Huge as in great in this context, Our Toby is a beast of a dog who would take on Godzilla if he saw him pee on our yard. We brought Meg home for a sleep over and by day 2 they were calmly accepting of each other. We got to know Meg, brought her into the pack and started trying to regulate the pressure in her eyes and her itchy skin. There came a time when we weren't sure we had done the right thing though. She didn't seem to have much motivation to go walking and was often lethargic, blind dogs tend to sleep more but we worried about her. Then the blessing in disguise, Meg got an ulcer on her eye. We ended up talking to a surgeon about enucleation, removing her eye. The conversation was emotional but looking back, entirely unnecessary. Meg had no vision, she may have had the slightest concept of light but only to perceive night and day, not enough to see shadows. So out comes the first eye. Pressure goes weird on the other, out comes the second. Post op Meg was the happiest lil MegMeg we had met to date, huge snout full of grin and happy grunts! Turns out the pressure in her eye had most likely been giving her a headache, a DECADE LONG HEADACHE. Our no eye Meg loves walks, loves belly rubs and loves rubbing on furniture (based on her shedding we suspect she is attempting to build a twin and sneak out to go party in SF, a la Ferris Bueller style, we're watching you MegMeg). Energetic Meg and Toby are great friends, they aren't too mushy about it but they are great together.

And then, Pepper.

Life again fell into a routine and we completed more of the house. We decided that once we got everything but the kitchen done we would get a third dog. I love when we make these rational decision, they're so funny in retrospect. Pepper, a ~8yo Cocker Spaniel came into the hospital with a good Samaritan who recognized her unhealthy appearance. With patchy hair, oily skin covered in wart like growths and weighing in under 14lbs (for her size, she should be 25-30lbs), Pepper needed some love. Funny thing, before Vero had even seen her, one of the doctors joked to a few nurses "Have you seen Veronica's new dog yet." Although said as a joke, we love it, we're proud to have that kind of reputation. Pepper was stabilized at the hospital and the animal control came to get her, before they left with her Vero gave them her phone number and said call before you put her down. Shelter protocols can be debated all day long depending on if you view them as a business, public service or a municipal humane service but at the end of the day, it was going to take months to get Pepper up to weight and even then she would still have Sebhorrea (oily, itchy skin with patchy hair and crustys). So we got the call. Some people asked why adopt Pepper when so many other dogs have such a better chance. Some people asked if we were just going to foster her. The best I can describe out motivation, we want to love the ones that need love the most. We rescued a puppy from our neighbors a while back. They had gotten the dog as a gift but that person couldn't take them so we offered to take find her a home. This pup was gorgeous, great Burmese Mtn Dog with mits the size of his face and a beautiful coat. Looking at him, we just called the HS, they were full, so we went down to animal control to surrender him. Before we left 2 employees and a person in the lobby were asking when he would be available for adoption. That guy will be loved, Pepper needed to be too. We're still getting to know Pepper but in 2 months she has put on 4 lbs and has much more energy and a much improved demeanor. She is still learning that this pack is forever, but she'll get it.

We love our family and things are tough with Toby in the hospital but you do what you have to for family, so we stick together to get through this. Last night was a big night for Toby, he ate a couple ounces of chicken and didn't vomit. He slept through the night and his pic was from this morning(5/13), he sat right up and had tons of besos (kisses in spanish) for us. Take a good look in his eyes, he actually looked like himself, there was joy in his eyes for the first time in a week!

John, Vero, Toby, Meg and Pepper

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