He was a well-traveled dog who loved the road more than anything, except maybe you and me.
He was a survivor of Baltimore’s less tender side who was picked up as a stray, placed in a city shelter, found a home with some writer guy and went on to become a therapy dog and minor celebrity.
He was the subject of a five-part newspaper series examining his roots, a book (unpublished and unfinished), the inspiration for this website, and my reason for being.
And now the hardest words I’ve ever written: Ace is dead.
Last week, he was frolicking in the woods. This week, he slowed down to a state near lethargy and showed little interest in eating, and in the past two days he began swelling up — mostly in the belly region.
Having recovered from his recent bladder surgery, he was the same dog he always was — until Monday night when he came inside showing no interest in his nightly treat.
The vet’s diagnosis was congestive heart failure and possible tumors — hemangiosarcoma.
Blood was not getting to his liver, and fluids were pooling up inside.
Based on Ace’s age (nearly 12, a good 90 in human years for a dog of his size), based on the poor outlook in either case, or the even worse outlook in the case of both, and based on his apparent discomfort, the vet recommended putting him down.
When I asked for some time to think about it, the vet said that wasn’t a good idea. When I asked to take Ace home and bring him back today, he said that wasn’t a good idea, either.
So we took an hour before the deed was to be done. We started walking. It started raining. It was taking all of his effort to keep up with me, and I (being a fellow member of the congestive heart failure club) walk pretty darn slow.
We stopped at a Domino’s and sat on the pavement under an overhang. I bought him a small cheese pizza — his favorite food. He took two bites, but only because I insisted.
We stopped in the rain on the way back. I briefly debated whether I was doing the right thing. I held his head in my hands, rested my head on his and looked into his eyes. I could still see the love in them, but not the joy.
Back at the vet, on the floor with his head in my lap, the vet administered a sedative. Ace was soon snoring. Once the lethal injection was administered, his heartbeat slowed within minutes and then, around 6 p.m. Thursday, stopped.
I’ll get his ashes in a week or so, and I’ll spread them in Black Walnut Bottoms, the trail in Bethania he loved.
Having written a lot about dogs and death, I thought I’d be better prepared for this. But I’m a wreck.
In answer to one of the questions asked a lot over the years, no — a resounding NO! — he will not be cloned. Having written a book on dog cloning, people ask that of me. Clearly, they never read the book.
In 2011, Ace and I set off on a trip duplicating the route John Steinbeck took in “Travels with Charley.”
It ended up lasting a year, and covering 27,000 miles. I think I speak for both of us when I say it was the time of our lives.
“Travels with Ace” didn’t interest any publishers, but it will hang around on the Internet — at least until my time comes.
I still need to finish the last chapter, but I can promise you this:
In the book, Ace won’t die.
(Photos: Top, Ace at Salvation Mountain in California; Ace at the Bandera County Courier in Texas; Ace and John (photo by Brendan Finnerty); Ace with a bust of John Steinbeck in Monterey, California)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace is dead, animals, baltimore, baltimore sun, barcs, dead, death, died, dies, dog, dogs, goodbye, heart failure, hemangiosarcoma, inspiration, lethal injection, muse, obit, obituary, ohmidog!, pets, put down, stray, therapy dog, travels with ace, tumors, veterinary
A new medication that claims to soothe dogs who are frightened by loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms, will be available to veterinarians in the U.S. within a week — in plenty of time to help make the 4th of July less traumatic.
Sileo (not a very serious sounding name, is it?) comes in a gel form and is the first prescription medicine for treating anxiety over loud noises in canines– a widespread problem that leads to property destruction, running away and life-threatening injuries.
Its U.S. maker, Zoetis of Florham Park, New Jersey, says Sileo (pronounced SILL-lee-oh) works by blocking norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline that pumps up anxiety.
It is applied to a dog’s gums via a pre-filled, needle-less syringe.
Zoetis says the medication will give owners of the estimated third of the 70 million dogs in the U.S. who have problems with loud noises an alternative to human anti-anxiety pills, like Xanax, that sedate dogs for many hours.
Sileo takes effect within 30 minutes to an hour.
The pre-filled applicator costs $30, and contains enough for two doses for a dog of 80 to 100 pounds, four doses for a 40-pound dog, or six doses for a small dog.
Dogs can be re-dosed every two hours, up to five times during each noise event, Zoetis said in a press release.
Zoetis has exclusive rights to distribute Sileo in the U.S. under an agreement with the medication’s developer, Orion Corp. of Finland.
In testing on 182 pet beagles conducted on New Year’s Eve, 75 percent of their owners rated its effect good or excellent. Side effects were rare and minor, the company says.
(Photo: Provided by Zoetis)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 17th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 4th of July, animals, anxiety, behavior, canine, dog, dogs, drugs, fear, fireworks, first, fourth of july, gel, july 4, loud, medication, medicine, new years, noise, noises, pets, prescription, sileo, syringe, thunderstorms, veterinarian, veterinary, zoetis
A Chihuaua mix named Daisy is running as she has never run before — thanks to some blade-like prosthetics.
Abandoned on the streets of Los Angeles when she was two months old, Daisy had congenital deformation of her elbows, right shoulder, and back hips, making it difficult for her to walk, and impossible for her to run.
She was set to be euthanized at a local shelter when A Home 4Ever Rescue pulled her out.
For years, she used a a set of wheels to move around, but that put too much pressure on her spine. She has been using the blades, designed by Animal Ortho Care in Chantilly, Virginia, since August.
(Photo: From Daisy’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 25th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a home 4ever, animal ortho care, animals, blades, chihuahua, daisy, disabilities, dog, dogs, los angeles, mix, pets, prosthetics, run, running, veterinary
Rowdy has been poisoned by river water and shot by police officers, but it’s a far less threatening skin condition that gives the 13-year-old black Lab his unique look
Rowdy has vitiligo, a disease whose most famous victim was Michael Jackson. In Rowdy’s case, it causes him to lose color in different patches on his body.
“He’s like our own little celebrity around town,” Rowdy’s owner, Tim Umbenhower told KPTV. “Everybody loves to stop us and wonder what we did to him or if we painted it on there.”
Umbenhower and his wife Niki, who livein Canby, Oregon, say Rowdy survived poisoning by river water and had to have his stomach pumped.
He was also once accidentally shot by police during what they thought was a burglary.
Niki, on her Facebook page, mentions the possibility of appearing on The Ellen Show and in a movie — and while she might just be joking, stranger things have happened.
(Photos: Niki Beiser Umbenhower’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 18th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, black lab, canby, condition, disease, dog, dogs, health, labrador, mask, michael jackson, patches, pets, retriever, rowdy, skin, skin condition, veterinary, vitiglio, washington
Call it an early birthday present — Ace is home and doing remarkably well.
After surgery to remove his bladder stones, and an overnight stay at the animal hospital, I picked him up yesterday evening.
I was warned he could be leaky for a few days, and that his pee could contain blood — much like that I’m still scrubbing out of my living room carpet from the morning before surgery — but, sequestered in the kitchen, he made it through the night.
When I let him out this morning (after relieving myself, it should be noted), he walked down the stairs, did his business, and came back to lay down on the front porch, just as he normally does.
All of which leads me to marvel, yet again, about what a stoic and resilient beast he is — far more so than I.
I turn 62 tomorrow and, believe it or not, I am happy to do that. I am happy for my year as a 61-year-old to be over. It included, in this order, quintuple bypass surgery for me, the death of my father, and the death of my mother.
When Ace became completely blocked up this week by what X-rays showed was a horrific number of bladder stones, and the veterinarian recommended, even with some risks, immediate surgery, I balked.
Might it be possible, I asked, to wait until after Sept. 5? My 61st year has been a particularly accursed one, I explained, and I don’t want to give it one last chance to hurt me.
Between saying it out loud, and the look on my vet’s face, I realized I was being ridiculous. Tomorrow is fine, I agreed. That was Tuesday.
Thursday, Ace was home, having emitted just one tiny whimper on the drive. On my ride home from the hospital, after heart surgery, I emitted a dozen whimpers, six grunts, four goddammits, and more than a few dirty looks at my brother for hitting bumps.
During the night, I heard Ace moan once. I, due to back problems, probably moaned 10 times last night.
I took three months to recover from my surgery; Ace looks like he is going to take about three days.
True, they were different kinds of surgeries. True, Ace is on pain pills, more than I would ever be permitted. Ace was prescribed Tramadol — and is to be given eight 50-milligram pills a day. My doctor, who prescribed the same for my back pain, at the same dosage, says I can only take two.
Still, on the one-to-ten scale of stoicism, Ace rates at least a nine, while I can barely eke out a two.
Ace — in his early 80s, if you compute his age in human years — is handling old-man-hood much better than I am.
He didn’t like being sequestered in the kitchen. He prefers following me from room to room and keeping me in sight. But he put up with it, and with no leakage or accidents the barriers have already been lifted, at least during daytime hours.
He is mostly sleeping, and mostly sleeping with his eyes wide open, which I’ve never been able to figure out how he does.
There were hundreds of little stones, enough to make a nice bracelet, should there be a jewelry maker out there who is interested in — and not too grossed out by — taking on the job.
I also brought home a dog without the monstrous front claws Ace used to have. I’ve written before about our efforts to control those. Since Ace was going to be under anesthesia anyway, I requested he be given a pedicure. In retrospect, given the vet spent hours meticulously removing all the stones from Ace’s bladder, I feel a little guilty about that.
On the other hand, it symbolizes the fresh start that I hope comes for both of us when I turn 62 tomorrow.
He, with his bladder purged of rocky deposits, and his claws at a reasonable length. Me, with a still-ticking heart, my favorite season virtually upon us and, most importantly, my dog back at my side.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 61, 62, ace, animals, bladder, bladder stones, dog, dogs, health, pets, resilience, resilient, stoic, stoicism, superstitions, surgery, veterinarian, veterinary
This is a mostly selfish post — aimed at getting all of Ace’s friends and fans to think positive thoughts today as he goes under surgery for bladder stones.
Yes, they are back.
Never really went away, apparently, since his last X-ray a couple of months ago — despite the obscenely-priced special dog food I kept him on for a couple of months.
Instead, they’ve only increased — to the point where it now appears a good portion of the real estate in his bladder is occupied by them.
After his catheterization in May, everything appeared, on the outside, to be fine. Things were flowing nicely. But over the weekend, his urine stream slowed to a dribble, like a coffee maker, and he was, while otherwise in good spirits, straining to pee.
On Sunday I took him to an emergency vet. They were getting ready to catheterize him, when he peed on his own and passed a stone.
By Tuesday though, his stream had slowed to a drip again, and he was lethargic. I took him to his regular vet, where X-rays showed stones filling his bladder and cluttering his urethra — so many that surgery appeared the only choice.
They catheterized him again and sent him home with me for the night before returning him for surgery this morning.
This morning, Ace, who is 10, woke me up early, with the clicking of his claws on the hardwood floor as he trotted from room to room, as he does when he needs to go out. This time he was dripping blood, or bloody urine, in every room of the house.
He eagerly hopped in the car for the trip to the vet, but balked a little about going inside. Either he knew something was up, or didn’t want to face another catheterization. He balked again when it came time to say goodbye and walk off with the vet tech.
Now I am back home, cleaning up blood and waiting for the phone call. The vet’s biggest concern is the stones that may or may not remain in his urethra after yesterday’s catheterization — the urethra, in boy dogs, being a circuitous tube that is prone to problems. He hopes to be able to flush any of those out without having to slice into that area.
Those are the gory details.
Here’s what you can do. Send some positive vibes our way, as many of you have before when my aging dog or my aging self have faced medical uncertainties. I, in exchange, will keep you posted.
No need to write. No need to call. Just think a good thought. I’m not sure I telepathically receive those, but I’m pretty sure Ace does.
Update 1: Ace is out of surgery, which his vet described as the most difficult such operation he has done in his career, due to the amount of stones, particularly those in Ace’s urethra. He managed to clear them all out. Ace is still under the influence of general anesthesia, and it’s not clear yet whether he will be coming home tonight. We’ll be making that call in a couple of hours. Deepest thanks to Dr. Raymond Morrison at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, to all those who commented here and on my Facebook page, and everyone else who has kept my big ol’ dog in their thoughts.
Update 2: Ace isn’t getting up and around, so he’ll be staying at the animal hospital tonight. Plans are to pick him up tomorrow.
Update 3: Ace is still at the animal hospital, as of Thursday. Vets say they want to monitor him throughout the day, but that I can pick him up this evening.
Citing 75 incidents of animal cruelty and a “systemic failure to care for animals,” the N.C. Department of Agriculture on Monday yanked the United Animal Coalition’s license to run animal shelters in Davidson and Guilford counties.
The non-profit organization has been running Guilford County’s animal shelter since 1998, when it was hired by the county to improve conditions.
Seventeen years later, the same sort of allegations have resurfaced during continuing investigations by state and county officials as well as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Department of Agriculture reports mention more than 100 cases of animals receiving inadequate medical care, including a cat with a broken leg and internal bleeding that went seven days without being seen by a vet and a dog with a gunshot wound to the face who went 12 days without medical attention before being euthanized.
The former shelter director in Guilford County, Marsha Williams, was suspended with pay earlier this month. As of yesterday, that pay was halted and Williams was officially terminated under the orders of the county commissioners.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners convened an emergency meeting Monday, voting unanimously to revoke the United Animal Coalition’s contract and to place the shelter under the county’s control on an interim basis.
A letter of revocation was delivered by hand to the shelter yesterday.
“The things we’ve learned are very disturbing and unacceptable, as I know it is for the community as a whole,” Commissioner Hank Henning, the board’s chairman, said at a press conference after the county commissioner’s meeting. “Our goal is to put transparency and a culture of efficiency back into the shelter, so the community at large can get the services and the shelter that it wants and deserves.”
The N.C. Department of Agriculture has been investigating both shelters for about a month following complaints about animal care and conditions, according to the Greensboro News & Record
The Davidson County investigation began after the state agency received a complaint that a dog had arrived at the shelter with a broken back but received no veterinary care.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency continues to investigate potential unspecified violations at both facilities.
Also still investigating are the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington Police Department.
“To be quite frank with you, I expect to see criminal charges come out of this,” said Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes.
Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier will serve as interim director of the Guilford County shelter, which will remain closed the rest of the week.
The facility is expected to reopen Aug. 22.
(Photo: Former Guilford County Animal Shelter director Marsha Williams; by Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 18th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal cruelty, animals, care, cats, closed, contract, contracted, davidson county, director, dogs, greensboro, guilford county, inadequate, lexington, license, marsha williams, medical, non-profit, north carolina, pets, revoked, shelters, terminated, united animal coalition, veterinary