One year ago, today was the first day in almost twenty years the world was without Gryphon. He pioneered the photographic art of the cat selfie long before the word "selfie" was in the dictionary, . These cozy lap selfies are from Gryphon's sixteenth birthday celebration in May of 2010.
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On a particularly stormy and wet autumn trip to First Beach, Washington, one-year-old Wilhelm and nine-year-old Tynan were having the time of their lives running through and around barn sized mounds of sea foam. Both dogs always did an excellent job of keeping a close off-leash radius and checking in frequently so I knew when they disappeared behind some driftwood and stayed for a while, they had probably found something "interesting." There was more of a pause than there should have been for them to return when recalled. By then I was close enough to see what they had gotten into; a washed up salmon. Simply thankful that the dogs had not rolled in the dead fish, I asked them to leave it and we avoided the carcass for the rest of our visit.
The incident with the dead salmon was completely out of my mind when I took Tynan and Wilhelm to their annual veterinary checkup appointment a few days later. In casual conversation with my veterinarian during the exam, the doctor got to hear all about our recent adventure on the beach. I babbled on to the vet that both dogs had to be bathed upon our return because of the chases through the massive piles of sea foam but I was so glad they hadn't rolled in the dead salmon. The sudden change in the doctors demeanor surprised me. "Dead salmon?" he queried, "they didn't eat any of it, did they?" I replied that I wasn't certain. Maybe? Probably? It did look like they were chomping during the brief ignoring of my recall. But so what?
My vet then gave me what I look back on now as one of the top shocks on my life. He told me about Salmon Poisoning Disease. And I wish he had asked me to sit down first. I felt so weak and helpless as he asked me if Tynan or Wilhelm had any symptoms like vomiting, diminished appetite, diarrhea, lethargy or dehydration. I thought I would have mentioned such severe symptoms at the beginning of the exam but now that the dogs lives were at stake, I meticulously retraced each and every moment in the days since the dead salmon encounter at the beach. Fortunately, both dogs were symptom free. The vet told me that he has seen dogs go from beginning symptoms to death quite quickly so he recommended that Wilhelm and Tynan start on antibiotics immediately.
Like so many of the times I followed my vets advice, however shocked or dazed I may have been, I am very grateful that I did. Young Wilhelm and senior Tynan took the entire course of what the vet called "very strong" antibiotics. They thankfully never exhibited Salmon Poisoning Disease symptoms. One of my two regrets during this brush with raw salmon is that at the time my knowledge of what to do to holistically help the dogs systems cope with antibiotics was very limited. Both dogs only had minor stomach upset but had I done more to help their bodies adjust to the medication, they might have felt better. Seeing as how Salmon Poisoning Disease can wreak so much more havoc on canines than our fortunately symptom free encounter, we got off very, very lucky indeed.
My second regret is that I didn't keep my dogs safe from Salmon Poisoning Disease to begin with. I didn't even know the disease existed and ignorance is never bliss, especially where my dogs health is concerned. A huge part of the shock that occurred when my vet told me that Tynan and Wilhelm's lives were in danger was my lack of knowledge. I have been sharing Cascadian beaches with dogs since I was a toddler but had never even heard of this disease. My research after my dogs brush with the disease proved that I am not alone. While Salmon Poisoning Disease is a dangerous killer in the Pacific Northwest, very few dog owners are aware of it nor do they take precautions to keep their dogs safe. Since that day at the vet, beach time with my dogs has never been the same. I am always on constant alert. I plan to never rely on accidental babbling with the vet to save my dogs lives again. I work hard to avoid beaches during salmon spawning times. I am constantly on alert for any beach debris especially objects with birds nearby. If my dogs to ever got near raw salmon, salmon fishing or anything that might put them at risk for the rickettsial organism again, I would treat them regardless of symptoms just like I did when Tynan and Wilhelm didn't roll in the dead fish.
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Today is World Animal Day, a holiday started by ecologists in 1931 as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered animals. World Animal Day has become a day in which people who love and respect animals, regardless of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology, celebrate and commemorate all the animals of the world. October 4th was chosen as World Animal Day because it is also the feast day of the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi.
"Start by doing what's necessary;
When I adopted Tynan it was necessary to take him for walks so he could pee and poop. I didn't have a fenced yard. Tynan's pure joy while walking and the bond he and I developed through our walks, led me to begin to make time for us to walk longer and farther together. Eventually, I needed to get in better shape to keep up with my incredibly fit dog. I joined a gym. That decision made possible many turning points in my life. It was at that gym that I took my first Pilates class with the teacher who eventually trained me in several of my Pilates teaching certifications. I also met the friend who became my marathon walking partner. She, Tynan and I logged in thousands of training miles together over the years. After my fall, many doctors told me I might not have recovered as quickly or at all were it not for being in such good shape. So goes my story of necessary to possible to impossible. All made reality from walking my dog. Thank you Tynan.
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While talking with a friend on the phone in early October 2007, I told her Jason and I had gotten a dachshund puppy. "So you got a weiner dog?" she asked. "Yes, a long haired dachshund," I replied. "Seriously?" my friend queried, "you got a weiner dog? Like a hot dog dog?" I tried to talk to her about the breeds hunting and sporting history but there was no getting through the chortling that was growing into heaving laughter. In my friends defense, she is a sworn eternal Labrador and golden retriever owner and enthusiast. And, well, weiner dogs are really, really funny.
Wilhelm's fast moving, short legs make me smile everyday. His bark that is too big for his body is cartoon like in the way that he literally levitates all four paws off the floor when exuding his powerful voice. Then there's the burrowing: Wilhelm will dig his way under and through comforters, blankets, sheets pillows, pillow cases not to mention tall grass, shrubbery and hedges. And those giant floppy dachshund ears... we affectionately called Wilhelm "Dumbo" when he was a puppy. Although he grew into the elephant ears that I was certain he would use to fly when he was smaller, Wilhelm's ears are still so fun and expressive.
A to Z Challenge: Yesterday was V for Volunteer Park Via Washington Park Arboretum & Interlaken Park: Seattle Urban HIke With Dogs, tomorrow is Black & White Sunday and Monday will be X for...