Scottish Terriers of Instagram

It has been a rough week. I wanted something that would cheer us all up so I combed through dozens of adorable photos of Scottish Terriers on Instagram and decided these were too cute not to share! If you'd like to share your photos with us, upload them to Instagram using #ScottishTerriersofInstagram or tag @TheScottieMom. Oh, and be sure to follow us and this week's featured Scottie dogs! 

A photo posted by Bridget Kagan Jennison (@be_kagan) on

A photo posted by Emily Elizabeth - Mona Lisa (@emeliz_and_monalis) on

A photo posted by Dan Vache (@yoitsdanv) on

And Then, There Were Three

The Scottie Mom quartet has lost its fearless leader. Two months before she was set to turn 12, Heather passed away - on National Dog Day. There's nothing I wouldn't give to have her stay but in the end, though she was alert, the clot never passed and it was all downhill from there. She passed on without pain and enjoyed her favorite treats (blueberry doggie muffins) before she left her Scottie friends and me behind. Sadly, I find myself struggling with things to say, but I'll leave you with a few words honoring her memory from The Overtreater - undoubtedly, Heather's favorite person on Earth.

Ode to Heather
Mr. K thought "a road trip with my Scottie Mom," how great!
Until he learned that he would be meetin' 
Another Scottie, and yes, a Wheaten
To Tennessee they traveled,
soon to locate
Mr. K's new sister, it had to be fate

You came home that day,
Miss Heather
Welcomed to the Scottie Mom home
Never again, the streets would you have to roam
For the rest of time, no matter the weather
You were here to stay, a family together

Shy at first, in a corner you could be found
But that crooked smile
Hinted at your guile
It didn't take long for you to come around
No garbage can could hide a treat from such a sleuthound

Many road trips and treats to enjoy
Ah the life you would live
And the love you would give
A new Scottie brother to annoy
Just one of the hoi polloi

Constantly looking for a treat
A scrappy old Scot
Yet Johnny on the Spot
When it came time to eat
With a full belly, always so sweet

We enjoyed the time we shared
Saying goodbye at eleven
At least we know, All Dogs Go To Heaven
Thanks to the Scottie Mom who once declared
With Heather Beather we shall be paired

Heather earned her angel wings Friday, Aug. 26, 2016.

How to Stay Strong For Your Pet In Their Last Days

I was prepared to let Heather go the morning after she suddenly lost function of her back legs. I thought she was telling me it was time. She even let me snuggle her close for a while - a big "no no" for my sweet, independent girl. It was hard but I also knew watching her struggle would be harder.

What I wasn't prepared for was the emotional roller coaster that comes with each rally and subsequent regression near the end. To be prepared to help a pet over the rainbow bridge only to see them rebound and learn there still may be weeks to come. The hope that builds up in your chest and the crushing anxiety you feel for weeks, sometimes months, collide day after day. I personally found it very confusing and hope these tips help a fellow pet parent stay strong when saying goodbye.

  • First, understand that things are out of your control. Even with the latest and greatest advancements in veterinary medicine, a cure is not always possible. I'm not saying give up hope. Just accept that sometimes, there isn't much you can do but keep your pet comfortable. This is arguably one of the most difficult things to grasp but if you're able to do so, you'll have more energy to focus on staying strong.
  • Be in the moment. As difficult as it may be at times, live in the here and now. Put down that smart phone and computer. Turn off the TV for a while. Don't let yourself project too far in the future and worry about what is to come. Be present. Celebrate the wins when they happen, cherish the good days and channel those positive feelings whenever you feel like the struggle is too great. If you find yourself living in the past, it is okay to gently remind yourself there will be plenty of time to reminisce once your pet passes on and that your furry friend needs you to be with them now more than ever.  
  • Do your homework. Talk to your veterinarian, read up on the condition your pet's been diagnosed with and share experiences with other pet parents. You need to know what to expect as the condition progresses, signs and symptoms to watch out for, things that can help with pain management, etc. Knowing these things up front can help relieve some of the burden later on and will help you make informed decisions along the way. 
  • Take time for yourself. Caregiver burnout is real. And to be the best pet parent you can in those last days, you can't afford to feel burned out. Make sure to schedule some time (even if it is 15-30 minutes) to do something that helps you recharge. Read a book, meditate or do yoga, hit the gym or go for a walk to help clear your mind.
  • Let go. After a while, the rallies are fewer and farther between. You'll experience more bad days than you will good. Pay close attention to your pet's needs and trust yourself to know when it is time. Put your anxiety and emotions aside when helping a pet over the rainbow bridge by channeling those positive feelings and focusing on the good you're doing through this last act of love and compassion. Your pet will rest easier and feel reassured that everything will be okay if you dig deep within and stay strong one last time.

The Rallying Cry

Words cannot describe the state of shock I went into on Wednesday morning. Before I had fallen asleep the night before, Heather had lost nearly all function in her back legs. I had made peace with my decision to let her go if there was nothing the V-E-T could do for her. But when I opened my eyes the next morning and saw Heather standing there on all fours, I didn't know what to think. I found myself asking the same question I had the night before: how had this happened?

I covered her with kisses as I carried her downstairs. Mr. K, Pudley and Nibbles were there to greet us and together, the five of us went on our morning walk. Much to my surprise, Heather opted not to be carried and marched herself out the door, into the yard, through our neighbor's yard and all the way back - without assistance. I was speechless and had no reasonable explanation for what I witnessed. Just the night before, I had sat there on that very grass with Heather thinking it could be our last night together. Yet, here I was with the flicker of hope reignited from within once more.

Heather and I journeyed to the V-E-T. I explained what happened, how Heather continued to eat really well and even walked herself to the water bowl before making her way all the way across the main floor of the house to sit on her favorite air vent. The V-E-T put Heather down on the floor and there again, she walked toward the vet tech and then came over to say hello to me. As confused as I was, a sense of relief came over me when the V-E-T said it was not yet time to say goodbye.

I learned that Heather had thrown a blood clot and that it had passed on its own. That explained the temporary paralysis. Since Heather is prone to clotting, I also learned this was likely to happen again and that if it did but also went away in 12-24 hours without issue, she could keep going as she is. However, the V-E-T warned me that though Wednesday was not the day to say goodbye, we were getting close and it could be a matter of days or weeks - not months. Grateful for another day, I returned with Heather to the Scottie House, where she walked around as she pleased all day.

Heather and I both slept so soundly last night. We even slept in a little later than usual (which didn't please the three other Scotties waiting for breakfast downstairs). Again, I carried her downstairs and she ate a full meal, drank a cool drink and took care of business outside. I felt good. We had time. 

I came home to check in with the Scottie crew three hours later. Much to my dismay, Heather had lost function in her back legs once more - this time, completely so. She really struggled even to adjust her position in the Scottie bed. I called the V-E-T and gave Heather some Tramadol to help relieve any pain or discomfort she would go through as she passed another blood clot. As previously discussed with the V-E-T, I plan to be here by her side waiting the 12-24 hours to see if things improve. Her appetite is still healthy, she's drinking water...she just can't walk.

Of course, I'm hoping sweet Heather will rally again but I also don't want her to be in any pain. We're close to the end now, I can feel it. Heather will let me know when it is time. And when it is time, I'll help her over the rainbow bridge - something I've never done before. Thank you to everyone for your continued support. I promise to keep you posted as we go. Much love, The Scottie Mom.

The End of the Road?

Something told me to take Heather to bed with me last night. I can't explain why. I just felt it was important she spend the night with me. So, I scooped her up and to bed we went. Less than two hours later, I woke up to the sound of quick, short breaths. Heather was sleeping but she was breathing incredibly fast. I shot up to check on her and surprisingly, her breath normalized shortly thereafter.

I tried to settle back in and was just dozing off when Heather suddenly stood up and stared across the room. I watched her carefully and a few minutes later, she relaxed and sat back down. Fast forward maybe another 20 minutes or so, and it happened again. This time, she looked directly at me. I coaxed her to come to me so I could pet her and make her feel more comfortable. It worked but I quickly realized there wouldn't be much sleep for either of us that night. 

And so it went on, hour after hour. Nothing really appeared to be wrong - only twice during the night did she seem like her breath was labored. The rest of the time Heather was inexplicably restless. I was terrified and woke up with a start any time I felt my eyes closing. Was she still breathing? Was this really it? She seems fine but why so restless and why had I felt compelled to bring her to bed? I'm usually not the superstitious type but couldn't help wondering if this was some kind of sign.

Finally, sleep found us both. And in the morning, Heather enjoyed a big bowl of boiled chicken and rice - now her favorite meal. There were no breathing issues and she seemingly was fine once more. I couldn't help but think of what a strange night it had been. What did it all mean? Was I missing something? Is she really okay? What if she's in pain and I have had no idea? When I came home from work this evening, Heather was in her usual spot, resting on the floor vent soaking up the AC.

I smiled and said hello but Heather didn't get up. I moved closer and pet her gently but still she did not get up. Her eyes weren't as bright and happy. I scooped her up and put her on all fours only to find that she slid back down. My heart stopped. How had her health declined so fast? Was this a result of the clot in her leg or was this a symptom of the cancer progressing? I took her outside where she promptly took care of business and actually took a few steps on her own before lying down in the warm, green grass. Suddenly, reality set in and I knew we very well could be at the end of the road.

Once again, she enjoyed a full meal. Although, she had to eat it while lying down. Her back legs have lost almost all function in a matter of hours. Just a few days ago, you wouldn't have been able to tell that she was sick. Tonight, after a conversation with the V-E-T, I'm left contemplating next steps. Heather will be going in for an evaluation with the V-E-T first thing in the morning but the anxiety is high and the heart is heavy tonight in light of this turn of events. Of course, I'm hoping for the best but knowingly preparing for the worst. Please keep my sweet girl in your thoughts tonight.

Pictures Say A Thousand Words

Every Scottie Mom (and Dad!) knows our Scottish Terriers are gone too soon. Of course, they leave paw prints on our hearts but, in light of Heather's recent terminal cancer diagnosis, that wasn't enough for me. I wanted more - namely, a way to be able to see her long after she was gone. So, I set out to create something special (memories aside) with which I could honor her legacy.

I contacted Leesia Teh, fellow rescue advocate and pet photographer extraordinaire, to help me. She came equipped with squeaky toys and a whole bag of tricks to get the Scottie crew to give us some incredible images with which we could work. Here are some examples of the final products - canvases to display in the office, a complimentary picture book of my favorite images and a few prints (one of which we've framed and will be surprising the overtreater with this weekend). 

I can't say enough about Leesia Teh's work so I'll let her photos do the talking. She fit us in on such short notice, knowing our time with Heather was limited and there was no way to know how long we had left with her. And did I mention she is a fellow rescue advocate? Many furry friends' lives have been saved due to her efforts so if you'd like to join me in thanking Leesia, please leave her a note in the comments of this blog or pop over to her Facebook page and let her know Scottie Mom sent you!

Scottish Terriers of Instagram

We know you can't wait for #TooCuteTuesday so say hello this week's #ScottishTerriersofInstagram! If you'd like to share your photos with us, upload them to Instagram using #ScottishTerriersofInstagram or tag @TheScottieMom. Oh, and be sure to follow us and this week's featured Scottie dogs! 

A photo posted by Bridget Kagan Jennison (@be_kagan) on

A photo posted by Facu y yo🐾🌸 (@facundo_scottish_y_yo) on

A photo posted by 🎩Sir Marco MacDuff πŸ‘’Lady Nanu (@sirmarco_and_ladynanu) on