Saturday, September 3, 2011


Deedle..D..Red Devil..played today!! Briefly and joyfully he played with the Cuz ball. It has been so long since he played. Must have been that acu-poke-ture he had at Mt. View on Friday. Devil is the second Stargazer. He arrived before we knew we were Stargazer Siberians. His story begins, long ago, in Bellingham, where he roamed wild in Whatcom County, honing his skills of egg eating, pop drinking, and the policing of all miscellaneous dog activity. In those days, as now, D had 'issues'. The nice lady running Preferred Animal Services understood this, and while Devil was visiting that shelter, she purchased him an Igloo, so he could hide from the other dogs. Gail Roberts had posted a picture of Siberian Boy, in which she asked for help for this guy, as he had 'issues'. I had only one Siberian at that time, Sparky, who taught me everything about the breed in a few short months, including the love and joy that this breed brings to me. Sparky needed a teammate, so I was looking for another dog. Siberian Boy was a young, black and white male with the wide open white face, and freckles, that I have grown to love. His eyes, brilliant blue, broadcasted mischievious trouble. We liked that face, a lot, so off we drove to Bellingham in my blue and silver Suburban named Sirius, with Sparky, otherwise known as Mr. Snarly Growl Face, an intact yearling, spoiled brat, favorite, only dog, accompanying us. As the story unfolded, we arrived at the shelter with a specially chosen bag of squeaky toys. We met Mr Siberian Boy, and while I went to look at the second Siberian there, Will introduced D to the bag of toys. 30 seconds later, all toys had been ripped and de squeaked and by the time I returned, Mr S B was looking for something else to destroy. "Of course, we will take him. We love him!" While I filled out paperwork, Will tried to take the 'issue' dog on a walk. He was very strong, nearly pulling Willy off of his feet. I was hopeful at this pulling strength, wanting another sled dog. Little did I know, that the second 'issue' we would encounter would be a luxating patella otherwise known as a slipping knee cap. Not so good in a running dog. Please understand, we were quite new to this Siberian world, having come from the world of normal dogs, and so we were making quite a few mistakes that day. And here came the biggest mistake, we put Devil in the car with Sparky, separated by a gate and an Igloo, but none the less in the same vehicle, which proceeded to suffer horrendous damage as the two dogs met through the gate, and immediately began to try to kill each other. Foam and fabric flew through the air, as the terrible shouting and growling continued. The dog with 'issues' went into his Igloo and our special Sparky continued to rip foam and fabric out of the back seat for the entire 3 hour ride back to Lacey. Sirius carries those scars to this day. Speaking of scars, these two dogs have continued to have these kind of fights, horrible, frightening, life threatening fights, thousands of dollars kind of fights, to this day. Sparky and Siberian Boy who soon became Red Devil, named after an Alaskan town, with a fire theme, are two of the most beloved friends here at Stargazer. They are so dear to us, but if I knew then what I know now, Siberian Boy would have gone to that nice couple coming up from Whidbey Island. We did make it home that day, to our log cabin in Lacey, with Sparky on a leash in the car, and with Will screaming, "He is going to kill Sparky," and I am thinking, "Lord, what have I done?" No, I believe it was more like, "Could everyone just SHUT UP!!!" There are so many chapters in this dog's tale, but I will skip to the present, where after those 53 fights or more, Devil is crippled with arthritis in his neck, shoulders, knees and back. He has Horner's syndrome which causes his right eye, already cloudy with corneal dystrophy,to move in and out of its socket as his nerves are tweaked, renal disease that is controlled with diet, and high anxiety, as our house fills up with many more Siberians. At first, we would tell D that his girlfriend was coming. Tink was supposed to be his girlfriend, as Mikasa ("I was third!") was Sparky's girlfriend, but, well, that did not work out so much. D would continue to police and claim his space. As you well know, the loudest are often the most sensitive, and that is the case with this dog. His sweetness is deep and dear. He has always loved a squeaky ball which he would mouth vigorously with loud squeaks for a few minutes, then bite that ball, pull the squeaker out, and look for the next ball to appear, which it often did, as I would feed his habit by buying him a six pack at Pet Smart. One day, Devil was vomiting, and not feeling so well. Films of his abdomen showed something in there obstructing the flow of things. Mineralized ball bits were embedded in his intestines, so, following surgery, no more balls. This has not really mattered, as Devil has retired more and more to his crate, from which he hollers out expletives at any who dare to come too close. Even a normal trip to the vet requires a Rimadyl the next day, and a walk up the block means he won't be able to hold his head up in a few hours. A recent fight was one of the worst, as Sparky now knows to grab D by the neck and not let go. These two dogs just do not like each other and never will. Most of the time, they keep their distance, but a simple nuance in a slightly charged atmosphere will set them off. Similar to people who just can't get along, these two dogs are best kept out of sight and mind. They have struck some semblance of peace over the years but the the fights continue and will continue unto the death bed. The big issue was and still is, Sparky is #1 and always will be. Devil is #2 and will always want to be #1. Doesn't work that way, with people or dogs. Bragging rights are what they are fighting for. Thus we come to the acupuncture, or acu-poke-ture as we told D he would be receiving. Acupuncture and chiropracty are two healing modes that really help the dogs. Tink received acupuncture for years from an out of town vet. I had taken Devil to Dr. Schaeffer once, but he was so tense, he popped all the needles out. They literally flew across the room so that was the first and last time. Dr. Joanne Salloom, one of my Mt. View vets has been studying canine acupuncture and has now reached the time of needing patients. Several of the dogs here are candidates, but Devil was at the top of the list. We booked the appointment, and of course, I told everyone about the other time, when he popped all the needles out. The staff all know D at Mountain View, very loud, and barks like a seal. Yes, barks like a seal. We all shared private chuckles at poor Dr. Salloom, having to work on D and his micro movements and his barking, and growling and snorting whenever a hair on his body is touched. "Don't touch me, I don't like that!" Side note, of which there are dozens: After his luxating patella surgery at one year old (another chapter), D developed cloudy eyes. He saw our superior Olympia opthalmologist, Dr. Penny Cooley and was told he had Corneal Dystrophy. Around here, we just say "cloudy", which they are, very, very cloudy, now that he is 12. He receives liquid tears in his eyes twice daily so they will not dry out and ulcerate or something just as awful. He is good at getting his eye salve, as he always gets a cookie, which is one reason, he is like Number 4 or 5 on the chart of what your dog ought to look like. From the aerial view, rather tube like. Penny Cooley is another special doctor. I had thought, prior to our first meeting, how will she be able to tap on his eyes and examine him. But healers are healers and they have the magic. I am blessed by these brilliant people who work with my animals. The current of healing runs through them, and the animals respond. Devil sat quite still as Dr. Cooley worked on his eyes so long ago, and every year since. I did not think it would be this way with the needles. As we went into the exam room at Mt. View, Devil was a little worried and shook a bit, as we waited. This was our home ground though, familiar and calm. Dr. Salloom entered the room, and we told her some of D's story. She is not our regular vet, so she does not know him as well. Joanne and I usually seem to meet on a dark, frozen winter night at 2am with one of the dogs being in crisis. Did I mention that the Scofield dogs and cats have their own shelf at Mt. View? Yes, we are indeed special. She approached D, stroked his back, he lay down, and she calmly began to work. He lay there like the sweet Devil he is, as she gently applied the needles and worked on him. Only when she reached his front feet, was he reluctant, so she stopped. Calmly and quietly he waited while the healer worked with him. As this is a training stage for her, we discussed how I will monitor him, and give her feedback. She recommended giving him his Adequan shot (liquid Glucosamine), but I thought I would wait and not change anything in his daily protocol while I am observing the after effects of the acupuncture. We said good bye, he became his loud, barking seal self, clawing at the door, and we came on home. I was on alert. How would this work, would it help, how would he feel? He kept to himself in his crate most of the rest of that day. The next day, I watched, as he moved very slowly about the yard. Normally, he would have been very stiff and sore from a vet visit like that. His slowness was not one of stiffness, but one of relaxing, of slowing down emotionally, of unwinding. He was calmer and moved with a certain peacefulness. I continued to watch him. He sat by his crate and did not police. He was decompressing, he was relaxing, he was less anxious, and... he played with his ball. For just a few minutes, he played, he scooted the ball around, he chewed on the ball, he played with his ball. I put all the other dogs away as we watched our dear Devil play with his ball. It had been years since this happened. Only for a few minutes. This was enough, his leg started shaking and he was tired. Today, he has been out of his crate,and he is more himself than he has been in years. We love our D. We do not like seeing him old. We do not like to see him get hurt. We had a few moments of secret and overwhelming joy and delight as we watched our old boy play. He will be going back to acu-poke-ture with one of the best vets around. We are so lucky to have these people in our life.