Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gibby Passed His Vet Check

Oy, such a day! I was awakened early (for me) by a call from my dentist - he had a cancellation so he could work on my broken tooth this morning. Luckily, Thursday is the day the caretaker comes, so I could run out and know someone else would be there to help my mother. Two and a half hours in the dental chair is a veeeery looooong time. I did walk out with a nice looking temporary tooth so I can smile in public again, but I didn't get down to the farm to see how Gibby was until after noon, almost one o'clock. When I got there, Gibby was frantic. He had wound his cable several times around the central axel on an old garden wagon - he couldn't move without the wagon clunking over on him. He had shredded his dog bed and vomited a mound of non-digested dry dog food. He was very glad to see me, but wouldn't stop pulling on his cable so I could get him untangled - I may have said this before, Gibby is VERY STRONG. Finally, I was able to switch the cables around and fasten him to one that wasn't tangled around the wagon - I had to find a variety of tools to pry the wagon axle apart to get the cable lose, and while I was doing that, Gibby disappeared! It took me several anxious minutes to discover he had ducked under the paddock fence, run around the corner of the house, and gotten himself tangled around several trees. Got him untangled and then attacked the wagon with renewed vigor, figuring Gibby pulled the cable into the fitting with his mighty strength, so I would have to pull it out with equal or more strength. I thought about trying to hook it to the car bumper, then got mad at it and yanked it out.

Once the cables were set up again, in a way that should keep Gibby out of the horse paddock and away from the porch he smashed yesterday, I realized it was time to leave for our vet appointment.

I fitted the new "Halti" on his head and tried to walk him to the car - but it was much more like he dragged me to the car - then he grabbed the halti off of his nose and started chewing it. UGH.
The halti was a waste of $20. Got to the vet's with it still intact, and got him inside the clinic where he wasn't overly friendly to the wonderful dog who greets most visitors. First job was to get him on the scale and quiet enough to be weighed - which was really easier than it seemed like it would be because he does listen to the "sit" command. He's about 14 pounds underweight at 66 pounds - and that's after he was being well fed at the dog pound for more than two weeks. I wonder if his previous owners were feeding him at all.

Lisa Lemke is our vet. I love the way she treats animals. We sat down in the waiting room and that's where she examined Gibby - no threatening examing room or table, just a friend petting him and soothing him with soft words and a stethascope checking his heart. Gibby liked Dr.Lemke instantly, he really is a very friendly dog. He was panting so hard that it was hard to hear his heart, so I took out a dog biscuit, intending to give it to him, but when I held it in front of his nose he didn't take it. Somebody taught him not to take a treat until he was told he could have it. Funny what he knows.

Well, everything about him, except weight, passed muster. We got the heartworm pills and headed back to the farm. I stopped at a farm store to see what I could get that would make the dog kennel usable and ended up with a chain that would be very inconvenient but could be woven back and forth between the gate and the fence - maybe that will keep him in.

I had to rush back to check on Mother, and then brought her and the other dogs back for our daily visit to the farm. When I opened the gate, Gibby jumped through the scrub trees and landed on the wood pile next to the driveway - what a picture - smiling dog with power wag.

I barely got the cats and chickens fed and the horses checked because Gibby and the other dogs were having a bark fest that was driving Mother mad - three dogs and an angry mother all stuck in a car is not good. I let George out and he ran over to Gibby. They met, there was no growling, Gibby was very friendly, but George started getting stiff and stalky, so I called him back. Then Patches and Blue jumped out of the car on their leashes and I tried to get them over to their usual tie out spot. Patches kept trying to get to Gibby - we had quite a struggle. Finally, the only way I could stop the barking was to drive the car down the driveway, out of sight of Gibby.

With all the excitement, Gibby threw up again - and I had to leave him.

Gibby is STRONG

Such a day! I called early to see how late I could be to get Gibby, since my niece and her family were coming at lunch time. Her two little kids were wonderful - cute and friendly and outgoing and very polite - very nice to be with them. While we were sitting down outside to eat lunch. I did a really stupid thing - I couldn't get the cap off my coke bottle, so I grabbed it with my teeth and gave it a twist. The cap moved, but so did one of my teeth. My number seven tooth had been cracked way back when I was hit in the mouth by a hockey ball in high school - I spent half of my freshman year in college with wires hanging down out of that tooth draining out infection while dental students worked on the tooth. That tooth lasted a really long time, with a silver wire replacing the nerve - but, today, it bit the dust. I had to squeeze a trip to the dentist in between the kid's visit and picking up Gibby. I'm not going to be able to smile for a while.

The animal control people were really nice again. One of them took Gibby's new collar, attached to Blue's old rope, to get Gibby for me. She even took him out to the car for me - which was no small feat because he is really strong and has no proper leash behavior.

I stopped at the house and picked up my mother and drove Gibby down to the farm. He seemed to love riding - I finally put the back window down enough for him to put his head out. When we got to the farm, I pulled into the driveway and stopped to open the gate and pick up Blacky the momma cat. I walked her up to the boarder house and fed her and the other cats. When I walked back toward the car, I suddenly saw Gibby inside the yard - he had apparently jumped out the window without my mother even noticing. I was glad I had the cables all set up, I could quickly grab one and clip it on his new collar (with a metal clip). Then I tried to put Gibby in the dog pen - tried, and tried again. He is sooooo strong, he just pushed the kennel door open and forced himself through. I tried tieing the gate shut, but that only delayed Gibby another minute. I gave up and clipped him again to the cable set up between two trees in the side yard. I couldn't give him any shelter there, but I put a bed and a five gallon bucket of water and a big pan of dry food next to a tree where he wouldn't be likely to knock it over.

Unhappily, it looks like Gibby likes to chase cats. My cats grew up with Rusty - I think they called him Trusty Rusty - so they aren't afraid of dogs. Gibby's cable put him right in the way of several of the cat's paths and he chased them - not in a mean, I'm-going -to-eat-you-up way, but still chased them. I told him that cat chasers can't stay - I hope he heard me.

We had to wait for a roofer to come and measure my farmhouse roof, so I had a lot of time to watch Rusty and decide I didn't want to leave him where he was. I moved the cable over to a tree and a gatepost next to the boarder house. The combination of the pine tree and the house wall will give him a little protection, at least from the sun, the wind, and a light rain. I put a big dog bed under the tree, it's the bed Rusty used when he slept on the front porch, but Gibby didn't seem to be interested in it. He calmed down a little, but when I went over to put the chicken feed wagon away, he smashed through the barriers and got into the corner of the boarder house porch - and stood right on top of some little kittens. I shooed him out of there and put a big cat carrier in the place where the railings were knocked down - I'll have to fix them tomorrow.

The roofer came and Gibby had no reaction, in fact, Gibby hasn't barked since I picked him up. He whined a little and made some little woofs when I walked away from him, but no awful barking like he did at the pound. I spent time with the roofer - who said my farmhouse roof is the worst he has seen in his life - and Gibby finally calmed down and layed down for the first time. He's supposed to be quiet and rest for a couple weeks after his neutering yesterday, but those first resting moments were hours after I picked him up. He does seem to be uncomfortable, trying to deficate and not able to. We have a vet appointment tomorrow.

I stopped earlier and bought one of those head control harness things that is supposed to help me teach Gibby to walk on the leash - I hope it works tomorrow because otherwise I'll never be able to get him to the vet's. I have hung onto some pretty strong horses in my time and I'd say Gibby pulls as hard as any of them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gibby, Newly Adopted Yellow Lab

I recently lost a wonderful dog. He was a rhodesian ridgeback rescue who lived at my farm for six or seven years. He was supposed to be a foster dog, but he had been so abused and looked so dangerous, I decided to keep him. I can't live at the farm right now, but I felt good about having Rusty there as a very protective guard dog. People stopped trespassing, coyotes stopped killing cats, and my chickens survived when Rusty was around. Unfortunately, he apparently found a way through the fences and was killed on the road.

I decided to look for another dog to do the same job at the farm. I felt badly when I left Rusty behind every day, but he seemed to be very happy, sitting on the picnic table and then racing down the driveway when I would arrive and following me everywhere while I did my chores. I decided the dog I would find should be one that wouldn't have a chance to be part of a one dog family, not a dangerous dog, but at least an unwanted dog. I went to the local humane society, but happened to go on the day they were closed. I talked with a volunteer who was sitting outside with a little dog. I told her what I wanted and was surprised that she didn't turn negative when I explained what kind of dog I wanted and what job I wanted it to do. I thought I would go back to the humane society the next day, but decided that while I was out, I might as well run over to the dog pound where I had picked up Rusty.

The dog pound (called Animal Control) was a friendly place. The people there welcomed me and directed me to the room full of dog kennels. There were less than a dozen dogs in residence. Several were cute little lap dog types, not what I wanted. One was a big rotweiler, but he didn't attract me. One was a border collie, just the type of dog I love, but one I would want to keep with me - not a farm dog. The very last dog was the yellow lab in the picture. His name is Gibby. I looked in his face and saw Rusty. I don't know what it was - Rusty had scary yellow eyes and big curved teeth and Gibby has big brown eyes, but somehow there was a similar desperation or neediness that told me he was the right dog. He's big and strong, maybe too strong for me, and quite a bit underweight. I told him to sit and he sat. I put my hand in front of him and told him to be quiet, and he stopped barking.

I asked for all the information the officer had about him . He's about three years old. His owners turned him in. They had him for a year, after finding him as a stray. They turned him in because he was fighting with their other dog - they had two unneutered males. I decided to think about him overnight and maybe check out the humane society before I made up my mind.

The next day, I learned that no one else had shown any interest in Gibby and his fourteen days would run out in three more days. I decided to skip the humane society and go right back to the pound. They brought Gibby out to visit with me in their walled in visitors area. I really liked the way he related to me. When I was talking to some other people, he sat down right by my knees and stayed there. I signed the adoption papers and paid the fee for his neutering and license and microchip and rabies shot. That was Thursday. His neutering could only be done on Tuesday, so I had to wait until Wednesday before I could take him home, but I could visit in the meantime.

I visited on Friday and got myself locked in Gibby's cage while I was trying to prevent him from getting out. I stuck my hand through the bars to release the latch and got my ring stuck in the bars. Eventually, I got my other hand in the slot and opened the gate. I was right about Gibby being too strong for me. I was only able to keep him from forcing himself through the gate by using my knee against his chest. At least I learned that I could tussle with him and he didn't get vicious or mean. I couldn't spend much time with him because I had to go to a high school reunion and leave a little after noon - but I was glad I made even the quick visit.

I couldn't visit Saturday or Sunday, but was told that it was a good idea to give him a bath on Monday before his Tuesday surgery. The officers provided shampoo and towels and a great sink in the floor (probably designed for mop buckets), and brought Gibby to me with a sort of noose leash around his neck. They told me to tie the leash to the faucet brace, which I did. I had no idea how Gibby would react to the water, but it didn't seem to bother him at all, in fact, he paid no attention at all - not until I started massaging the shampoo into his back. That, he seemed to like. After a few minutes, when I was starting to use the hose to rinse him off, he looked up at me, looked me right in the eye, and gave me a couple licks in the face. I could almost swear he was saying thankyou. He's definitely the right dog.

I've been trying to clear the weeds and grapevines out of the dog kennel behind my farmhouse. No dogs have lived in it for a long time, but there are still two dog houses and an automatic feeder and waterer. I'll have to do a lot of work to clear it, but there's still a big old bath tub buried down in the ground that could be Gibby's swimming pool if he likes the water. It was an old buried tub when I moved into the house almost forty years ago and I've always been curious about whether or not it has or had feet, but I'm sure I'll never dig it up to find out. The old tunnel is filled in. I had a wonderful malamute years ago who dug a tunnel that went down under my basement - so deep that she couldn't hear me call her unless I stuck my head right down in the opening. She was cool in summer and warm in winter in that den. The next dog who lived there was a French Malinois who used the den to have puppies. She was so close to a wild dog that she would go hunting at night and come back and disgorge her meal for her puppies. She had three litters of 13 puppies before I finally had her spayed. Shady and one of her sons lived with me for sixteen and seventeen years. They were great dogs. I miss them still. The son was called Shep - Gibby will go a long way if he's a bit like Shep.

I pick up Gibby tomorrow. I can get him after noon, but my niece who lives in Guatamala is coming with her children to make her annual visit at the same time. I'm going to call in the morning and see how late I can pick him up. I decided to write a blog about him so I will remember more about him.