We are soon approaching the 6 month mark since Lockdown. My dogs, especially Marley, have never been happier, we have been pretty much together solidly for the entire time. When I leave, even just to go to the supermarket, they are livid – I mean, how dare I?!
But I do understand it. They are creatures of habit and love their humans without question, loving nothing more than being fussed and fed regularly.
I do also wonder if they pick up on my increasing anxiety every time I leave home. Lockdown has turned many of our lives upside down and buried worries and emotions have now demanded their time in the sun. My once confident (at least bagging) nature has gone and exposed insecurities that I’m now learning to deal with.
On the flip side, my dogs are the very souls (as well as my husband of course) that are helping me through it. Maybe these emotions, that I always saw as a weakness in myself, have finally been worked through, will mean I’m stronger than before…
Feb/March 2018 Leeloo became poorly. At first the vet thought pancreatitis but soon realised there was a neurological/spinal issue, when she started struggling to walk and jump.
I was given an emergency appointment at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, (AHT) as she was in considerable pain, our vet believing that this could be a vertebrae impingement and we needed an MRI to be sure.
Pretty quickly the neuro specialist said this actually had nothing to do with her spine and he suspected swelling in her brain, she was blind in one eye by this point, couldn’t move her neck without yelping and disintegrating quickly. She was rushed off and I spent the rest of the day there waiting for news. My mother-in-law had been with me trying to keep my spirits up and my husband Stace arrived in the afternoon.
The MRI showed extensive swelling and the surgeon wanted to do a spinal tap to see if the swelling was due to poisoning or an autoimmune condition. But this was an incredibly risking due to the swelling and we were told it could kill her. But treatment would be very different for either prognosis, so we had to know.
Longest 30 mins of my life.
When she came round, we were allowed to see her before going home for the night. It was nearly midnight by now but she howled when I left, completely broke me.
Both Stace and I went back the following day and we were given the bad news that she had legions on her brain that would never heal, she may never get vision back in her eye but… it could have been a lot worse. We would have to wait for her spinal tap results to coming back from Paris, France but the specialist believed she had an autoimmune condition called Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis (NME) or more commonly known, Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis (GME) which came with a prognosis at best of 2 years. I was devastated, not only that she had this condition (she was only 3) but the treatment to get her into remission was hit and miss at best and could take a toll on her small body.
But she was fighting, therefore I was going to fight as well.
After a week of IV chemo and strong prescription steroids and my visiting her everyday, I finally got to take her home.
We got Marley at 18 months. He was a private adoption. We got him as we wanted a companion for Leeloo.
As soon as we got him home we realised there was an issue. He was completely relaxed around me but Stacy and other men he was very nervous. But as soon as I used the broom or mop to clean the floors he would cower and wet himself. Same would happen when we showed him his lead for walks, flat to the floor and pee.
The turning point happened a couple of months after we brought him home. We took him and Leeloo to my parents and at first the same thing happened, Marley cowered as soon as he saw my Dad and Grandad (luckily the nervous peeing had settled by this point). But Dad just sat down onto the sofa and said to Marley “Come over here you daft bugger” and it was like a switch was flipped in his brain and he lept onto Dad’s lap and has not been afraid of men since.
Two year old Floki, we were told Sprocker but suspect Springer X Saluki as his back and legs are ridiculously long.
We decided to get a 3rd dog after Leeloo became very ill, she wasn’t the playful pup my Springer Marley was used to and we felt he was missing out – I was also spending a lot of my time with her.
So we see a local add for the last pup in the litter and decide to go meet him. We turn up and there’s two… His brother had just been returned due to a relationship break up and now we had to make the choice, which one?
One was perfect in every way, beautiful classic springer markings, handsome face, the other, speckled nose, slightly bow legged but the biggest grin. I told Stace to make the choice, so he whistled and bow legged came straight over. Good job too as I had already decided on Floki at this point, his handsome brother would be snapped up so I wasn’t worried about him. Floki had been ignored till this point and I knew his future was uncertain if he didn’t come home with us.
To me he was perfect.
Marley is a dick when it comes to dog strangers, takes a while for him to warm up to them and even then just tolerate their presence till they bugger off. However once you’re excepted into the pack, then he’ll protect you no matter what.
What happened next was quite unexpected, Leeloo started to grow in strength and she ended up playing with Floki more than Marley and in some ways helped in her remission.
Floki has become one of the most adorable dogs, rarely barks unless he wants to see the Grandparents, is at your side immediately if you’re hurt or upset – I often wake from nightmares with him licking my face. Is at his most happiest asleep on our bed with at least 2 tennis balls in his mouth, or just sleeping in general.