Old Dog Days

IMG_2053.jpgJune put us through the wringer. It started out all flowers and bees. And then, as the world drama escalated with violence, Brexit, and the everpresent Donald, our world contracted to one sweet old dog–Zoe. IMG_2121.jpg
She had been showing her age this spring. Her arthritis was worsening and she became increasingly unwilling to do much of anything in the hot weather (Alaskan to the core, she has never liked the heat). The vet thought it was laryngeal paralysis, related neuropathy, and some aspiration pneumonia.

Zoe went on antibiotics and we drove to Portland, an hour-and-a-half away, for an assessment as to Zoe’s suitability for surgery for the laryngeal paralysis. Before we could even schedule surgery, however, Zoe’s condition precipitously declined. A cliff-dive of hurt. She ran a continuous fever, was in pain, and was becoming increasingly lame. It got so bad that she could barely stand up and when she did, she tented her legs and looked at us pleading “please help me” in her eyes. Eventually, she refused breakfast. Not good. Zoe always eats.


Last month

Throughout this we had several veterinarians, here and in Portland, trying to figure out what was going on. Even in her wiped-out condition, she charmed them all. After multiple trips to Portland, a stay in the doggy hospital, rounds of antibiotics, IVs, and numerous tests, it looked as if she had a fast-moving and incurable cancer. We tried to be resigned for the worst when, happily, her bone marrow test came back negative for cancer.  When Zoe then responded  well to steroids, the prime suspect became an immune-mediated condition.IMG_2052.jpg
We brought her home and she’s been gradually, but steadily, improving. Not quite the old Zoe, but good, nonetheless. Her blood tests today–a week later–showed improvement, so we are cautiously optimistic.


Smiling again

Zoe was always what you would call a good eater and the steroids have made her even more enthusiastic. She is sleeping lots but still enjoying the pleasures of food and lying in the sun. She’s been reluctant to leave the house, even for a survey of the yard. But the past few days, she has seemed more like her old self. Whatever happens, to be honest, we did not think she was going to live past last week. So, for now, we are simply enjoying her wonderful presence. IMG_2188.jpg
In the meantime, life goes on around us. IMG_2221.jpgOur swallows have a second brood hatched and we sit with Zoe on the porch to watch the parents feeding their ravenous chicks.


I took this photo for the clouds but caught a swallow parent swooping toward the nest box with food.

The poor parents are going continuously and I’m hoping that our cabbage worm population is going right in the mouths of those chicks.


Checking out the world


Feed me


The blur at the right is an insect in the parent bird’s bill.  It doesn’t look like one of my bees (although I’m sure there have been some casualties).


Our bluebirds may have a second brood, we’re not sure. Whatever they are up to baby-wise, they are still hanging around and wonderful to watch.


Anchoring himself in a strong wind

The garden is dry. We are woefully short of rain. But we are harvesting our early vegetables, the corn was on track with “knee-high by the Fourth of July,” green tomatoes are forming, and the potatoes are going nuts. IMG_2071.jpgI’ve neglected the perennials. IMG_2167But, of course, they continue with their lovely blooms, despite whatever else happens in the world.IMG_2063.jpg
So July starts as June did with more flowers, bugs, birds, and summer skies.


Gorgeous hummingbird moth


Cedar waxwing




Face in the cloud


Something has twice wound the suet feeder up into the tree for easier access (maybe?). IMG_2054.jpgWe suspect the brown thrasher, who seems to find the suet and the hanging rope to be a personal challenge. IMG_0806Our birdbath has an evening line of birds waiting to enjoy a little cool-down.IMG_1703.jpgIMG_1705.jpgIMG_1656.jpg
Zoe enjoys a little cool down too.IMG_2253.jpg

41 thoughts on “Old Dog Days

  1. I’m glad to hear that Zoe is on the mend. At the recent class I took with Doug Tallamy, he explained that most birds only feed their babies caterpillars, because insects with any hard parts (like your bees?) can damage the tender, tiny esophagus of the babies. He also gave a number in the thousands for how many caterpillars takes to feed a baby bird until it fledges — which suggests that those swallows (and other nesting birds) probably are making a serious dent in your cabbage worm population.

    • Thanks Jean. Zoe had a good day today and we’re hoping she will continue to improve. I had also heard that most birds feed only caterpillars and worms, so was surprised to see the insect being fed in the photo. These chicks are almost ready to leave the nest, however, so I imagine they are graduating to adult bird food. It’s amazing to watch the constant back and forth of the birds trying to keep those babies fed. We’ve had five active nests in our yard this year that we have been watching (bluebirds, two sets of swallows, phoebes, and house wrens). I’m sure there were plenty of other nestlings in the woods. That’s a lot of dead caterpillars.

  2. By coincidence another American blogging friend had a dog called Zoe who suddenly deteriorated. Sadly her Zoe died so I’m so glad your Zoe has pulled through so far. I hope she improves further in health. It must have been very difficult watching her be so ill. Thanks for the lovely summer shots. Your cedar waxwings are such beautiful birds. Here it is winter but really most days probably look more like your summer! All the best with Zoe. I finally said goodbye to my elderly dog a few months ago. It still feels strange to not see her in her usual spots. They are such a part of the place. Best wishes.

    • Thank you Jane. It was difficult to see Zoe in pain and so unhappy. At one point, I thought if they could just give her something to make her feel good for a day before she died, I would be happy. Fortunately, she seems to continue to improve and is enjoying life again. I feel for your other blogging friend and for you in losing your dogs. They leave such a hole when they are gone. Will you get another?

      • My last child will be leaving home in the next year and then I will be making decisions about where I will live and work. Since my new job may involve a lot of travelling, possibly overseas, I think it’s best I don’t get another pet until I settle down somewhere permanently again.

      • Dogs definitely make travel more difficult. If you find yourself anywhere near Maine, I hope you will pop in for a visit. We have some lovely hikes here.

  3. Gosh, I had to steel myself to read all the way through because I thought it was going to end sadly. But thank goodness Zoe has rallied and pulled through. How worrying for you. It’s times like these that you hunker down and concentrate on your closest world. Here’s hoping she continues to do well and gets out to enjoy the garden soon. Amazing photos of your garden birds. Hope July is calmer, far less stressful and you get some rain (at night). Sam x

    • Perhaps I should have started the post by saying that Zoe hasn’t died! Our world really did contract to Zoe matters for those few weeks. I neglected the garden, blogs, housecleaning–pretty much everything but Zoe. She was out trotting about the yard today, so we’re hoping that she’ll be our garden companion again soon. No rain yet, but the weather is so gorgeous, it’s hard to complain.

  4. Zoe is in such good hands, what a sweet lovely dog! Your photos are wonderful and make us indeed put Donald and Brexits in th back of our mind. A cuddle for Zoe from Princess Charley, Johanna

    • Thanks to you and Charley! All of the ugly political news swirling around made the past few weeks even more depressing. I fear that I could become a hermit and just watch the birds and bees while the world falls down around us.

  5. After I saw the title of this post and saw the first picture of Zoe I held my breath as I read. I breathed a sigh of relief when I read she is getting better. I feel as if I know her. Please give her a hug from me and Blondie! Loved all your photos. I hope you will soon get some rain for your garden.

    • Hug given. We feel very lucky to have Zoe a while longer. We would love it if she could make it into winter feeling good because that’s her favorite time. Hugs to Blondie too, I feel as if I know her! I hope she’s still doing well with her arthritis. We are expecting rain this weekend. Let’s hope it’s more than a spit.

  6. Love the last photo.💗 I sincerely hope Zoe stays well and that you get to enjoy her company for as long as possible. We haven’t had a beloved pet in a few years, but I can remember like yesterday what it was like when we lost two of them. Zoe is going to need that fan today. 🙂

  7. Oh, my heart was in my throat as I read about Zoe. What a relief to discover that what she has is treatable and that she’ll be around a while longer. Oh, how we love our dog buddies!

    • It was a tough couple of weeks. She is not enjoying the hot weather today but at least she doesn’t have a fever! Yep, our dog buddies are loved indeed. This is the first time in many years that we have only had one dog and when she dies we will be dogless. She is such an integral part of our daily existence that we will really feel her absence. She’s a special girl and we are happy that we still have her.

      • XXXOOO! When Liam goes, we too will be dogless, so I know exactly how you feel.

  8. Oh Brenda, what a relief to hear that Zoe is responding to treatment so far. So hard when they can’t tell you what is wrong and you can only hope they understand you are doing everything you can. I do hope she continues to improve.

    • Fortunately, Zoe has continued to improve. Her condition remains a bit of a mystery but she’s doing so much better. If only dogs could talk, how much easier it would be (although I suspect Zoe would be a chatterer–“my back hurts mom, my leg too, but rub my back, there–ouch–no over there–never mind, I don’t feel good–where are we going?–you’re not going to leave me here, are you?–I don’t know these people–it smells like hurt here–I want to go home–my back hurts–I’m exhausted–help me”). When she was in pain and could hardly walk, she kept looking right in my eyes as if she was trying so hard to tell me something and it was breaking my heart. Her eyes are much happier now.

  9. I’m SO pleased to hear that your darling girl is on the mend, I was reading with a heavy heart so was thrilled with that outcome. It’s awful watching a beloved friend suffer….how lovely to see her smiling again!!!
    I just loved all those stunning birds! What a fantastic selection. The swallow feeding the chick was such a treat, what great shots, do you use a telescopic lense? I did enjoy seeing the hummingbird moth and the face in the cloud too!
    Here’s to Zoe going from strength to strength.xxx

    • Zoe is steadily improving. She’s starting to enjoy the yard again. It’s been such a pleasure to see her regain mobility and happiness. It’s all bonus time at this point. We’ll take it.
      You would have enjoyed our afternoon. Zoe sat on the porch with us while we watched our nest box of swallow babies leaving the nest. Well, we saw one of them actually leave–its first flight looked like an utter thrill. Another left soon after (we missed the actual departure) and a third is still there, likely leaving tomorrow. What a privilege to watch. I have some better photos that I will include in the next post. The camera I’ve been using is a small Canon Powershot, with a 30X lens.

    • Thank you Eliza. It felt very good to step off that roller coaster. I’m hoping not be riding another one any time soon! I love those hummingbird moths, and they love the rhododendron. It was hard to get a decent photo, though.

    • Thanks Jason. I watched the baby swallows for hours from our porch in the days before they left the nest. It took several days before they all left. Fascinating. There were five nestlings and we were fortunate enough to see two of them on their first flights out of the nest. They are all gone now and I’ll miss them.

  10. I was reading this post with a heavy heart Brenda as it is so hard to see our pets in pain and thought it was going to be sad news. But thank goodness dear old Zoe is coming better and she can have more time with you. Beautiful photos of her and I can understand how the vets would fall in love with her. Your garden and bird life is going from strength to strength. Give Zoe a big cuddle from me and hugs to you and George too.

    • Thank you Pauline. We don’t know how much longer Zoe will be doing well, but consider every day with her a bonus now. We finally have had two days of rain and I expect the gardens will explode with growth now. All of our fledglings have left their nests, and I suspect we won’t have any new broods until next year. Watching the birds this year has been a huge pleasure.

      • I have also enjoyed following you through the year, so glad you kept blogging. We are expecting showers this week, always good at this time as it is normally so dry during winter.

  11. I’m very pleased that Zoe is improving. I so hope she’s well for a long while yet. Such a gorgeous dog. Having an old dog here, I know how it’s all about giving them the best old age you can and giving them the pleasure of lying out on the grass or in the sun or shade (and watching the world around them!)
    I love seeing the variety of birds you have there – some of them are so colourful.

    • We’ve been doing our best to give Zoe a happy retirement. It is tough to see our vibrant dogs getting old and infirm. But Zoe stills gets pleasure out of life and we still get pleasure from her.
      I also love seeing other bloggers local birds. Some are the same, or similar, world over, and others are unique to a particular geographic area. I have been delighted at the variety of birds we have here. We kept track in May and were able to identify 37 varieties. Sweet.
      I planted borage this year and it’s just about to bloom.

  12. It does sound as if you have had a hard month. Poor Zoe, I’m glad she seems to be responding to the medication, it is always so hard when our dogs get old and fail and sick. Your have such a wonderful selection of birds visiting you 37 is an enormous number! Give Zoe a big hug from me. Sarah x

    • I gave Zoe a hug and a head scratch from you. Right now her main interest is food, food, and more food, thanks to the steroids. At this point, if she gets fat, eh, who cares? Old age in dogs is especially difficult because they can’t communicate their needs and problems.

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