August 15th 2013 5:34 pm
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Yesterday I noticed yesterday that Ralphie was not his normal self -- not as energetic, or playful, not eating, but wanting to be extra-close to me for comfort. While Ralphie had always been a pretty healthy guy, he did have a 'delicate' stomach so it wasn't too unusual for him to sometimes pass-up on a meal, though his other behavior was cause for a little extra concern & I decided to take him to his vet the next day & that I'd stay home that night to monitor him. While letting him & the other kids out into the yard to go to the bathroom, Ralphie took two steps outside & then keeled over. The confused & concerned look on his face made me think he'd just had a seizure, so we went to the emergency vet immediately.
Upon initial exam, the vet thought that Ralphie had a stroke, & chances of recovery were poor. I opted for a blood panel to be taken anyway, hoping of course it'd reveal some other condition that could be treated. The vet was pretty shocked at the blood panel results -- his liver & kidneys were failing, with some toxin levels off the charts. He asked me if Ralphie could have ingested something poisonous -- rat/gopher poison, engine coolant, etc. & while I couldn't completely rule anything out, I am a responsible pet guardian that knows not to leave anything potentially toxic out where my dogs could get it, and Ralphie was the only one out of several dogs at home that was ill.
There was nothing positive that could be done for Ralphie, & I watched the vet give him the pink stuff at 7:30PM.
My dogs aren't outside in the fenced yard unless I'm home, I know better than to leave anything poisonous inside the house where they could get to it, and they've always been pretty good about knowing what was theirs to chomp on, and what was off-limits. The obvious thought was if someone deliberately tried to poison them. I checked the yard & found no evidence of that, plus the dogs are generally pretty quiet, and there are no nearby neighbors that could be annoyed by barking anyway.
All I can think of is that we had a stainless steel water bowl outside that I filled with fresh water frequently, but the 'hard' water here over a period of time corroded the sheen of the water bowl & occasional algae would build-up. I'd clean the bowl out, but my only guess is that the water in the bowl had algae in it, combined with some sort of chemical process between the water & the steel bowl caused the water to become toxic, and that Ralphie may have consumed some of it on Tuesday. That's kind of reaching at straws, but after many hours of dwelling on what may have happened, it's the only thing I can think of. I've thrown that bowl away.
I didn't think I could get any sadder, but seeing my other dogs, especially Bugsy, who idolized Ralphie, continue to look for him around the house & yard makes things even worse. When Baby died in January 2012, she'd been pretty ill for a while & before I took her to the vet for that final visit, I made sure the other dogs got a chance to see the condition she was in & say goodbye to her. They didn't get that chance with Ralphie, & while he was pretty calm with all of them, he was definitely the leader of my canine pack & also the one that'd normally sit right with me, so his absence now is tangible to all of us here.
Ralph was a little fear-aggressive when he showed up at the shelter back in 2009 and I know for a fact that my intervention & subsequent adoption of him saved his life & that he had a great life from then on, but unfortunately that's not much consolation right now.
I left him there at the vet & will pick up his ashes within the next couple days, and will place them in the same container holding the ashes of my dear Nike & Baby.
October 22nd 2010 6:32 pm
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Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Ralphie coming home with me for fostering, which in turn resulted in me having to adopt him myself.
While I don't think anyone in their right mind would actually want to have five 'special-needs' dogs in a one-person household, individually each dog is wonderful, and Ralphie is no exception to that. Collectively, well, they keep me entertained, and busy!
The group dynamics are fascinating to observe, and to sometimes try to covertly alter. On a day to day basis, Ralphie, the biggest & most energetic of the lot is Boss Dog, but on the rare occasion that he annoys my senior girl, Baby & she barks or lunges at him, he immediately, apologetically defers to her. He will boss around Potter but if Potter seriously get annoyed, Ralphie backs-down because he knows Potter easily escalates to violent aggression. Bugsy, my young, feral dog worships Ralphie and Ralphie has been a good tool to get Bugsy to be comfortable around me. Ralphie treats Bugsy like a younger brother -- sometimes playing with him, but sometimes growling at him as if trying to say he's a nuisance. He gets along fine with Marnie, who is my newest acquisition.
Ralphie really loves exploring around outside. Unfortunately, he's caught several small lizards to play with. Some escape alive, some don't. He's always ready to go off on a hike with me, but is also content to just sit on the couch next to me if I'm reading or watching TV.
April 14th 2010 6:01 pm
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Ralphie continues to do great. He loves his big new home, his new back yard, and the off-leash & on-leash adventures living in our beautiful, rural area provides us with.
In anticipation of some hot summers, I've purchased a small swimming pool custom-made for dogs that'll be set up in the yard, as well as buying him a floatation vest for when we go swimming in one of several lakes that are just minutes away from us. His elongated body & short-stubby legs mean he's probably not a good swimmer without the life-vest!
During the day, Ralphie hangs out in the yard with his canine playmates, but has access to the garage via a doggy-door. Despite having plentyof chew-treats of his own, Ralphie seems to love chewing on walkie-talkie antennas, remote controls, and even chomped up my old Sirius satellite radio receiver, so the doggy-door that leads from the garage to the inside of the house is usually kept locked, unless I'm home.
I hope to be finally adding some new photos & videos of Ralphie soon.