Thursday, December 20, 2012

Buffy 1998-2012

Susan Entwisle wrote Buffy's story: It was Buffy who picked Bill and I out on that sunny afternoon, March 2, 1998 when we came to pick out our forever corgi. Buffy was relentless, following us around and barking at us every time we picked up a puppy or knelt down to see how they got along with others in the litter. Finally, it was obvious that Buffy wasn't going to give up and Bill and I knew she was the one we wanted.

Buffy was definitely a happy puppy, had a wonderful personality, she was very vocal, she knew what she wanted and was relentless until she got it, eager to please, playful, got along with her mates and people. Buffy also had a stubborn side. This stubbornness stayed with her through out her life time. She was adorable, fluffy and pudgy.There was no doubt in my mind that this little girl was going to be spoiled rotten.

When we returned home, and after setting up her travel carrier for her bed, Buffy went over to the door leading out to the backyard and started barking, asking to go out to do her business. I thought to myself, how wonderful, what more could I ask for, already house trained, There was also no doubt in my mind that Buffy was going to rule this household, a trait she lived up to for all of her young life.

We also had another Corgi at home, his name was Bo. Even though Bo was a few years older, he and Buffy were perfect together. Starting with her first day in her new home, Buffy mastered the art of teasing Bo with her toys and playing her game of hide and seek. They chased each other out in the back yard til both were exhausted, enjoyed long walks around the neighborhood, meeting new people and other dogs and squirrels.

But Buffy's greatest pastime was chasing the cats and squirrels and we had plenty around. There were many days I hardly had a chance to get a leash on her before she was off the deck and down the steps ripping across neighbors yards running after one or the other.

Another favorite pastime of Buffy's is when we would take her down to the lake where she could bark at the boats going by. People in the boats would yell out "hi Buffy" which would encourage her to bark even more. She loved all the attention. Our yearly vacation trips to Ocean City Maryland, were planned when dogs could go on the beach.

Buffy loved running free chasing the seagulls, playing "catch me if you can" with the ocean's waters. People walking on the beach with their pets would stop and acknowledge her, telling her how beautiful and cute she was, which by the way she already knew because she has been told that not only by us everyday, but everyone she came in contact with. In return for their compliments, she would shower them with kisses. She was also insulted if people didn't stop and acknowledge her, at any time or place which was funny because of the frenzy she would go into to get their attention.

Our walks on the ocean boardwalks were interesting because Buffy would also seem to pick out the elderly person(s) or couple(s) to want to spend time with whenever we passed by a bench they were sitting on. Buffy would sit at their feet and look up at them with her loving eyes while all the time they were petting and talking lovingly to her. It was hard at times to get her away from them.

This did not totally surprise us because she often got excited with the mere mention of going to visit our senior citizen neighbors where she displayed the same type of loving affection and concern for their well being. Especially if they were ill or had been ill. This prompted us to take the necessary steps to have Buffy certified to be able to go into our local retirement homes to visit with senior citizens which she thoroughly enjoyed and they loved seeing and spending time with her.

Now before I move on to Buffy's life with DM, I cannot leave this paragraph without telling you that Buffy was also a mother. Despite all of our efforts, Buffy and Bo had five beautiful babies who were all born very healthy. Buffy proved to be the wonderful mother we knew she could be. We kept one of the babies for ourselves because we knew Bo would only be with us for a few more years. While it was a sad day for all seeing them go, I think my tears were mostly for Buffy seeing her kiss and fuss over each one when they got ready to leave.

We did find out after living a very full and active life for 12years, one of the five babies was diagnosed with DM. He is currently taking daily walks in what use to be Buffy's cart. Here is Buffy's journey with DM.

To the best of my knowledge,and according to my notes, it was a morning in early October 2009 that I noticed when Buffy came out of the bedroom to get a drink of water that her right back foot was slightly dragging on the wood floor. When I went over to watch her drink, she was standing up, her legs were perfectly straight so I didn't think too much of it. Until we went for our morning walk that is. When we let her out the door, Buffy ran down the steps and down to the bottom of the driveway as usual. While walking up the street, I could hear her right back toe nails dragging on the asphalt. We didn't go far that morning because of my concern for her. When we got back home, I called and made an appointment with our vet to have her checked out.

Upon telling Dr. Campbell, our vet, what my concerns were and without further testing, we were told that Buffy was in the beginning stages of DM and proceeded to tell us what DM is and the effects it would have on Buffy's body as well as what the future would hold for Buffy with this decease. Dr. Campbell could tell by the looks on our faces that all of what she was telling us was so overwhelming and told us to go home and research everything we could about DM as well as join the WheelCorgis Support Group. To read over their questions, comments, concerns as well as responses and write down any questions we had. We were to do the same with any articles we found on DM and when finished, to call her to set up an appointment to discuss our questions and concerns.

We did what she asked and our questions and concerns were patiently addressed as hard as it was to accept. We also discussed measuring Buffy for a cart as was well as ordering one even though we didn't need one right away. It would give her time to get use to it if we alternated days of walking with the cart, but first try it in the house. She offered her technicians help with the measuring if we needed it. Bill and I along with a neighbor did the measuring for Buffy's new cart ordered through the CorgiAid Cart Program.

It was also recommended that we find a local vet that offered acupuncture to get her started right away. For us, it proved unsuccessful after several sessions. Since we had a lake available here where we live, we decided to take Buffy swimming every chance we could and weather permitting. Buffy seemed to enjoy her swimming outings more then we had imagined she would apparent by her big smiles and seeing both of her back legs kicking as she swam. Seeing other swimmers out in the water also encouraged her to swim longer. We kept this up for well over two years. We stopped when we noticed the enjoyment was no longer there.

There were also daily massages twice a day and when she was on the couch with Bill or myself (another part of the day she loved) which we were advised to start doing the day she was diagnosed DM.

It sure didn't seem like it was very long after being diagnosed, before Buffy was completely down in the rear, but her front paws were very strong. It started out gradually having trouble standing up and then dragging her back right paw and eventually falling over. We had covered our exposed wood floors with runners and pieces of carpet thinking she would scoot herself to where ever she wanted to go. But Buffy was not a scooter nor a seal walker.

The only time she would use her cart in the house was when she saw an animal in the yard from the sliding glass door or when someone came to the door to visit. Picking her up and placing her where ever she wanted to be, was a daily routine we quickly adjusted to. Buffy's bark was still very strong enough to tell you what she wanted as well as our communication with her.

In the beginning we would carry her out to the backyard and hold up her rear end so she could pee and poop. After she was done, she usually wanted to walk around on her front paws while we held her up to explore all of the great smells' We tried the bottoms up leash for support and others like it; they just did not work for us.

After several of these sessions in the back yard, I was motivated to get her to using her cart outside to do her business. We worked in our garage "finding the carrots", her favorite snack, and she did a great job finding them. It only took a few days of being in the garage when it was Buffy who headed out and walked down the long driveway and up the street where she greeted some friends of ours she knew. That day Buffy looked so proud. She wore a big smile and seemed pleased that she could get around on her own.

After that miraculous day, it was smooth sailing for her in her cart. She enjoyed the new places we took her to see and meeting new people as well as other dogs. These places included farm markets, pet stores, parks and dog parks. We continued our yearly visits to the beach where she still chased the waves in her cart and barked at the sea gulls, walked the boardwalk and around our vacation home. I think though that our many daily walks around our own neighborhood was her favorite place to be because she knew everyone and their pets. But where ever we happened to be, she warmed every ones heart she came in contact with.

When Buffy was first introduced to her new cart, we also purchased a couple of strollers from various flea markets that were taken with us during all of our outings. Whenever she tired from walking in her cart, she eagerly welcomed the rest in her stroller while continuing our ventures.

For the first two years after being diagnosed with DM, Buffy's appetite was a typical Corgi's appetite. She would eat what you gave her in her bowl and still look for more. As long as I can remember, Buffy was in the kitchen with me while I fixed meals, at the table hoping we would give her something from our plate or better yet, when we had company over for dinner wishing they would share their food with her. We could always depend on her to help with the clean up after wards. Because she enjoyed being in the kitchen while I fixed meals and after she went down completely in the rear, I made sure she had a special bed to lay on so she could be near me and fed her her favorite vegetable's, frozen green beans and carrots.

Our vet had warned us that this might change. Her appetite started to diminish as she approached her third year with the disease. That was also when she started having UTI"s, ear infections and what I called "green junk" in her eyes caused from the pollen. She was placed on various medications for each. The medications would suppress her appetite as well as make her groggy or sleepy. Just to mentioned a few, the culprits were Bethanechol, Metoclopramide, Leviquin, Cefpadoxime, Nizoral, Baytril, Thyrozine and cephalalexin. Buffy took her one daily vitamin, gluclosomine twice a day along with a dose of Aminocaproic Acid, enalapril tablet for a minor heart condition detected some years ago along with a daily Prilosec tablet up until her last day even when she would not eat any of her food while on medications.

Her not eating was a big concern for me because I could see and feel she was losing weight. I would continue to fix anything I thought she would eat just to get food into her. Many of the foods that she would normally eat, became of no interest to her. She would turn her head away even when I tried to hand feed her. I never let her go without something in her tummy. When this happened, we were off to our vet where Dr. Campbell would give her a Minstrel V injection (steroid) along with a B-12 shot to help boost her system so she would start eating again. Some times this shot (Steroid) would work but sometimes it didn't. The only problem with this steroid was it took a few days before it would take effect.

In August of this year, Buffy started to develop a respiratory problem for which she was put on 100mg daily of Draxxin. It was also during this time that her daily walks in her cart became shorter and that we were using the stroller more to complete our daily outings. We already had several beds for her around the house but because of her respiratory problem, we made a special bed using orthopedic foam mattresses with an egg crate mattress on top to prop her up to make her more comfortable and to help her breath more easily. Since she found this one to help with her breathing, we adjusted all of the others so I could carry her into any room so she could be with me and they would all be the same.

Several other disturbing problems were becoming more noticeable during this time frame. Buffy was beginning to lose muscle mass in her chest, front legs and front paws. Her right front paw was beginning to knuckle . She would even stumble while walking. After seeing this, we only took her out in her cart so she could pee & poop with a leash attached to the cart to help her move for small distances. She also stopped smiling as much as she use to even when she knew people she had always greeted with her beautiful smile and eagerness.

It was only in her stroller did she appear to be the happy little girl we had always known. For this reason, our walks and trips to different places in her stroller increased because of her love for the outdoors.

It was because of of the short walks and lack of exercise in her cart, that I began expressing Buffy. It also seemed like we were going out more to pee and even if she went on her own, I always expressed her to make sure all of the urine was out. However there were times she would leak urine usually when I had her up on the table cleaning her up. So Back outside we would go where I would try again.
Expressing her soon became an everyday routine because she stopped going on her own. Buffy never wore diapers.

Buffy had always slept with us in the bedroom, usually laying up against Bill's side dresser by the bed. Now she had her own comfortable bed to lay in the bedroom and just like clock work every morning around 2:30am, she woke us asking for a drink of water and to go out. Her next outing would be at 4:30am when I got up for the day and every two hours after that for the remainder of the day.

By Mid-August, Buffy's bark now was more of a squeak and seldom tried to bark (squeak) at anything or anyone unless she was annoyed or I wasn't looking directly at her when she was trying to get my attention. Even though I had read that it was alright to let her continue to try and bark, I kept my eyes on her all the time only to see if she was tryng to tell me something.

By now, Buffy's eating habits are becoming sporadic. She would only eat a very small amount of food at any given time. Even when I tried giving her food through the day, only a couple of bites were taken She is also wanting to sleep more and has even slept while on our stroller walks. My heart was breaking even more everyday to see her slowly leaving me.

By the beginning of September, Buffy was becoming more and more frail,continuing to lose more weight and looking very small. Her once wide open bright eyes were now sad looking, she could no longer even take baby steps in her cart because both of her front paws were now knuckling causing her to trip when she tried. Stroller rides were now for only five to ten minutes because she had fallen asleep before we could complete the nine tenths of the circle we had traveled and walked for years.

When I spoke with the technician at the vet's office to give her Buffy's condition, I was told on her call back that Dr. Campbell wanted to see her and would probably give her another booster shot to wake up her system. This appointment was scheduled for September 9th, two days away. The following day, I called the clinic and changed that appointment to saying good-bye to my beautiful, sweet and wonderful little girl with the gorgeous smile who left a lasting impression on everyone she met.

Bill and I wanted one more day with her to tell her how much we loved her, how much she meant to us all these wonderful years with her in it, the joy, devotion and love she gave to us everyday and how we will treasure her memories forever. We also wanted her to know how sorry we were that this disease had robbed her of a healthy life she so much deserved. We did a lot of hugging her, holding her close and giving her as many kisses she could handle that day.

When we left the following morning for our 10am appointment, Bill took the long way around, we arrived late but we didn't care. As I held Buffy, I think she knew that we were going to say so long for a while and she was ready to meet Bo and Barkley at the bridge. Saying good-bye to our little girl Buffy, was so heartbreaking for both of us

I want to thank Bobbie, the CorgiAid cart program, and the Wheelscorgi group for being there when I needed you and helping Buffy live a longer, happier life while battling this disease. I couldn't have done it without you.