Earl the McNab

Earl the McNab
Earl the Mcnab

Friday, September 23, 2016

Earl in Images

Our sweet and quiet boy, Earl, is often lost in the noise and fury that surrounds him (i.e., Molly, Mattie-Kate, and now Roody). Now seven years old, Earl continues to be my husband's "little boy" and steadfast companion.  Earl lives to chase the cows, play ball, ride in the truck, roll in stinky things, and have happy snarfling sessions at midnight. I can't imagine a better behaved dog than Earl - it's his nature to please.

Earl is a longer, leaner McNab than Molly. Of course, a bowling ball is longer and leaner than Molly - but as McNabs go, they are two different types entirely. Behaviorally, Earl is less rowdy, less nurturing, a bit more protective and watchful. He prefers to snuggle for a few minutes, or to sleep with his head on my feet, rather than to sleep in my arms as Molly does. On the cows, Earl likes to circle the group and keep them together, while Molly is the go-to dog for heading them. He's the dog who won't come in until all his humans are gathered safely, the one who waits behind to make sure the slower human on a hike is safe. 

How fortunate we are to be in the presence of these loving, kind, smart animals. 

Copyright (c) 2016 by Marcy J. Miller * All rights reserved * No part of this content, including photographs, may be reproduced without the express permission of the author * Links, however, may be freely shared * Thank you for linking, liking, loving, sharing, +1ing, emailing, and having coffee with me * Most of all, thanks for stopping by. Dog bless!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Reunion: Roody and Mom

Just over two weeks ago, we brought Mom's little Dachshund, Roody, to live with us as Mom prepared to transition from independent living (interrupted by frequent hospital and rehabilitation center stays) to assisted care.  As has happened so many times in the past, she feared she'd never see her "little boy" again. Last week as I updated her on his activities here on the ranch, she became teary-eyed. "That's killing me, you know," she said as I described his joy when I brought his "comfort blanket" home to him.  I promised her I'd bring Roody to visit her often once she had relocated to the nearby facility; she pursed her lips and said, "No, I don't want to see him."

Yesterday, I moved Mom to her new room at the care home we'd chosen. It was a long and oft-somber day: I picked her up at the nursing facility in the morning and took her to lunch with a dear friend before we escorted her to the new place. Mom has lived in the same house for 50 years. This was a daunting and emotional move.

Today, we surprised her with a visit from Roody. Mom melted at the sight of him. Fortunately, the little rogue wagged and greeted her happily. More on that side-note later.

It has been three weeks or more since Mom last saw her little pup. He's lost several pounds and has actually been able to run again. Meanwhile, Mom has regained some of her strength. She's able to walk short distances with the aid of her walker, but will - at 88 years of age and with a host of medical conditions including advanced Parkinson's - never live independently again.

Upon seeing Roody today, Mom couldn't quit patting him and cradling his face in her shaky hands. He settled promptly between her feet - his favorite place of all - and grinned, tongue dangling. We left them outside on the patio together as we finished moving Mom's furniture into place.

Now, the naughty Roody story from another hospital visit, a few years ago: Mom had been in a skilled nursing facility for several weeks. I received permission to bring Roody in to see her. I was excited as my husband and I drove him to the facility. I pictured him wagging that whole-body wag he has, whimpering with excitement, an epic greeting as dogs give their returning veteran dog-fathers on viral videos. We walked in, carrying the little slug, only to have him turn his head away and avoid even looking at Mom!  He was bewildered by the nursing home smells and sounds, the whoosh of the oxygen machine, the sight of her with tubes and other accoutrements of modern medicine. Mom was devastated. Our joyful hopes were crushed.

On the way home, that day, husband-type-person kept glancing over at Roody as he drove. "How do you sleep at night!" he said, not a question but an accusation. "You're going to hell," he taunted. The entire drive, he gave Roody the business.  Roody, for his part, grinned in delight at being on a road trip, undaunted by any such lecture.

Our pleasure at seeing Roody and Mom together again today was enhanced by the great relief we shared when Roody acknowledged her and chose to sit there, a pudgy reddish hound between her shoes.

Never discount the difference a little furbody can make in an elderly person's life. Dogs - with their too-short lives - look for reasons to be happy. Their big personalities take us along when they wag and grin with mindful joy.

Copyright (c) 2016 MJ Miller * All rights reserved * No part of this content, including photographs, may be reproduced without the express permission of the author * Links, however, may be freely shared! * Thank you for linking, liking, emailing, sharing, tweeting, passenger-pigeoning, and otherwise helping grow my audience * Most of all, thank you for visiting.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Roody's Boot-Camp Weight-Loss Update

Mom's Dachshund, little Roody, joined us just five days ago, but we immediately put him to work doing ranch chores - and we cut off the treat pipeline. He weighted in at 21.6 pounds on arrival. Today - to my delight - Roody weighed in at 19.4 lbs, an amazing 2.2 pound loss. As you can see from the photo below, he has already gained a semblance of a waistline.

Roody, five days after coming to fat camp
Roody is getting to be quite the old hand here already. He's perfectly comfortable with our gentler horses. Holly, the palomino mare below, is now 29 years old. Roody doesn't hesitate to go in with the younger, rowdier horses - but I discourage him and soon he, like the other dogs, will know which ones he can trust.

Roody and Hollywood Royal Lady

One of the greatest joys of being a ranch dog is rolling in muck and manure and dead things in the desert. After this week's rain, there's still some mud to be found and maximized. Roody has found his own technique of rolling, than scooting with his front legs collapsed beneath him like a folding table.

The other dogs enjoy having a new buddy.  Molly the McNab and Mattie-Kate the Papillon are happy to show him the ropes.

Roody's still too squatty-bodied to make it into the tack and feed room. Below, muddy-snouted Roody whines from the tack room step.

This morning's chores involved a lot of running back and forth to keep up. None of the property is level, but the little guy has a lot of heart and moved those short legs as fast as he could coming up the slopes from the barn. Yes, there's a Dachshund in that photo.  Little did he know he was running to the shed so he could have a bath before going in.

Lest you think that with all this exercise and sudden weight loss that we're starving little Roo-Roo, worry not. He still has free access to his healthy kibbles (we feed Nutro Ultra).  He's self-limiting his intake of them, as working dogs generally do. To his delight we've added Merrick Wilderness Blend canned food to his evening meal (one tablespoon). Roody also has constant access to hard, healthy chews - real beef bones, bully sticks and the occasional cod twist. What's missing are constant treats and sharing from the table. Mom loved surprising him with morsels - and those morsels added up. Now, his paw prints around the ranch are adding up. Today's morning feeding put a mile on his paw-dometer. We are constantly active throughout the day and now that the weather is tolerable, we take the dogs with us on each foray outdoors. With this program Roody will neither feel hungry nor will he overeat. 

If you're looking for a good, all-around kibble for your dogs, this one has what I look for: multiple protein sources to include salmon, fruit and vegetables, and free of corn syrup and other nasties: Nutro Ultra dry dog food (affiliate link). I've fed it for many, many years (supplemented by wet food and homemade food) and have been thoroughly happy with the results.

Another great side-effect of Roody's new routine is he is mentally stimulated. Before Mom's Parkinsons had advanced to her current level of disability, she walked Roody throughout her neighborhood. He had the chance to play with her friends' dogs, to socialize with human friends, and to see new sights. In recent months Mom has been unable to walk beyond her property. Now, Roody is challenged and engaged once again. He has quit his incessant barking. He misses Mom, still running out to my car to look for her - but we have given him as much diversion as possible, and with a little luck he will be able to visit her when she has been moved from the nursing facility to a nearby adult care home.

As for Mom, one of her first questions when we talk is, "How's my little boy?" I take the pictures of him to show her when I visit, and tell her about his day's adventures. She said last night she's happy for him. The strength and importance of the bond between an elderly person and their pet can't be overstated. Putting Mom at ease about the well-being of her little companion is critical to her own well-being as she transitions from independent living to a dependence on others.

Copyright (c) 2016 Marcy J. Miller * All rights reserved * No part of this content may be reproduced without the express permission of the author * However, links may be freely shared * Thank you for liking, linking, sharing, emailing, tweeting, +1ing, and otherwise helping grow my audience * Most of all, thank you for reading!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Roody Joins the Ranch

One of the many joys of having McNab dogs is their nurturing, protective nature. Whether they're licking the face of a newborn calf or crawling onto their owner with concern because of a cough or sneeze, they're attuned to the well-being of their family members.  Today I celebrate that tendency as once again our McNabs help us through a challenging time.

Yankee Doodle Roody

Recently my mother - 88 years old and challenged by ill health and disability - made the difficult decision to no longer live independently. I opted to bring her geriatric, corpulent - nay, obese - Dachshund, Roody, to live with us on the ranch. After my father's death, we bought Roody to keep Mom company. I ordered him from a rancher friend in Oklahoma, a horse-hauler, who brought tiny, wiggly six-week old Roody all the way to Arizona in the cab of his semi. Despite having been born on a ranch and of working ranch Dachshunds, Roody has never been around livestock since. To my knowledge, he has never seen a cat up close.  At Mom's house, squirrels sent him into a frenzy of yappage.

Despite my trepidations, Roody has fit in beautifully. Now on his third day of ranch life, he has already gotten into the routine of doing chores such as feeding, cleaning stalls, and collecting eggs. Now, Roody has been a bit spoiled throughout his life, deeply loved and rarely told "no." He is a bit .... barky. Incessantly barky, really. Barky when he wants a treat, or attention, or just to be heard. I dreaded Roody's bark: our dogs are exuberant and rowdy as they prepare to do chores or greet visitors, but quiet otherwise. I was concerned Roody would bring his barky nature to our home and disrupt the quietude I cherish. When I texted my brother that I was bringing Roody home with me, I wrote, "I'll keep Roody," and he replied, "You're a saint for taking the hound." Yesterday, I updated him:  "I'm on my way home with Roody. Pray for me." He wrote back, "I love you." Roody has something of a reputation.

Roody returns from feeding the cows

To my surprise, Roody has let out nary the random bark since his arrival. He has not barked for treats. He has not barked at the cats. He has not barked in play. He did not bark at horses or cows. He barked briefly at the ducks, but otherwise he has been a quiet, happy, busy dog.

Molly invites Roody to romp
Best of all, the McNabs Molly and Earl have welcomed him generously. Our Papillon-in-chief, Mattie-Kate, already knew Roody well from visiting Mom, as did Earl. Molly, though, immediately greeted him gently when they met. She checked on him constantly during his first couple of times doing the morning chores - making sure she'd run back and touch his nose as he struggled to keep up, short legs churning, lumpy long body bouncing. As she grew more confident in him, she tried to entice him in a game this morning but Roody was too breathless to exert any further.
Earl and Roody

As for Earl, he is a quieter sort. During morning coffee on the porch he lay beside Roody in silent communion. He has accepted Roody pragmatically, with no fanfare. He is a good boy.

Roody rolling in Stinky Things

Roody weighed in at a whopping 2l.6 pounds on his arrival two nights ago. I expect him to slim down quickly thanks to the chore routine. Just feeding hay - not counting stall-cleaning, grain feeding, or other care - is over half a mile of walking, and Roody stays right with the pack as we made the rounds. For the first time in his life, Roody learned the joy of Rolling in Stinky Things. (One of Earl's favorite activities, that: in fact, one of Earl's many terms of endearment is "Poo-hound.")

Tuckered out Roody

He came in exhausted but happy, tongue dragging almost as low as his belly, and I gave him a healthy, low-calorie dried cod stick to gnaw on. Although he still runs to my car each time we go out, looking for Mom, he should soon blossom as he adapts to his new life and healthy routine.

Molly, happy to have another creature to tend

As for the McNabs, they're thrilled to have someone new to watch over and tend.

If you're looking for cod twists for your own weight-challenged pup, here's a link (affiliate):
 Healthy Cod Twists

Copyright (c) 2016 by MJ Miller * All rights reserved * No part of this content, including photographs, may be reproduced without permission of the author * However, links may be freely shared * Thank you for visiting, linking, tweeting, emailing, sharing, liking, loving, reading, and returning your shopping carts to the safety bay.