Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rest in Peace, Sweet Claude
Thanksgiving, 1997-Dec. 27, 2012

We had to have Claude euthanized this morning; our hearts are broken. We already miss Claudie so much. Our ever-present little friend just isn't here....and is sorely missed. The house just isn't right without him. Nothing's right without him. Obviously this acute stage of grief will ease in time, but right now, it's excruciating. We're so used to him being hurt so badly to come home to nobody waiting for us. But we knew that he couldn't possibly have lived much longer anyway, and that he hadn't really seemed to enjoy life much for awhile.

Then he got really weak last week, wouldn't eat and we saw him fading on us. We were finally able to get him to a vet today after they'd  come back from Christmas break, and we found out that he had a perforated ulcer from the arthritis medicine he'd been on for years. By today most of his blood volume had poured into his abdomen. The vet assured us it wasn't our fault at all; lots of old arthritic dogs bleed out or have other fatal complications from long term use of the meds that allowed them to function for years.  It was nice of her to say so but we still feel terribly guilty.

Anyway, sweet Claude was a perfect patient as always, calm and quiet throughout. Putting him down wasn't really a hard decision to make, just an excruciatingly painful one, but there really was no choice. His situation was hopeless and he was suffering, bless his dear heart, stoically, but suffering. When we realized he would have died within a day or two, possibly even in the car on the way home from the vet clinic in the cold, we arranged for a peaceful passing at the vet's office instead, with us right there petting him. The vet and her assistant were wonderful, and cried with us even though they only met Claude today.  I told them before we left that I knew we'd be bringing some future dog to them for care, whenever the time comes. After all, we are dog people; dog rescue people actually, and I'm sure there will be another dog with us before too long. Certainly not a replacement for Claude, and not right now, but eventually we'll adopt another dog. We'll see who needs us. 

I don't want to dwell on his last illness or death, so now you know all about that part and it's done. When we do talk about Claude, it won't be about his last days, which were sad, but a celebration of his awesome toothy smile and his happy, helicopter tail.

Rest in Peace, my best friend. I'll never stop loving you. You were the best dog in the world and I was lucky to know you for so long:)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Blue Lacy in Blue Bonnets

When he's outside,  Claude doesn't usually stop moving around long enough for me to get a decent picture of him. The only way to get him to hold still for a second out in the fresh air is to get him lying down....but he had too many things to explore today to lie down in the bluebonnets for us, especially while the rest of his "pack" stood around him. Consequently, I haven't managed to get any great shots of Claude in the blue bonnets yet....but I'm still trying.
Here's what I do have so far for March, 2012, all taken at the edge of our tiny backyard orchard in Driftwood, Texas.
Claude the Blue Lacy , age 14 and a half, sniffing the Spring air.
Claude always investigating who's been around lately.....

Claude's doing great, particularly for his age, in terms of both physical and mental health. At 14+years old, he still runs all over the house twice a day after meals, burning off excess energy. And he still bares his teeth to grin up at people when he first meets or sees them. He's consistently sweet, often funny, and always thoroughly beloved- a happy camper who enjoys life and loves everybody. We hope to have him around for years more.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Claude in Rainbows

Claude is perfectly cool with a rainbow on his foot

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Update: Spring 2011

FYI, Claude's doing great, especially for a 13½-year-old dog! He still acts like a puppy after mealtime, when a postprandial surge of blood sugar gives him so much energy he can't contain himself, tearing around doing laps around the house at warp speed.
A Blue Lacy's considerable ENERGY needs channeling...

A couple of months ago, Claude was doing his usual after-dinner run-around-the house, tossing his dog toys in the air and just generally having a blast, when he returned from the other side of the course limping badly. I don't know what happened, but he'd obviously hurt himself somehow, probably his right front leg/shoulder. He seemed better after a couple of days, so we tried to go for "walkies", but within a block, he was limping dramatically again, so we called it a day; no walkies.

After about a week of no walkies had passed (and he was still limping), I took him to his vet to make sure nothing was broken, although I really didn't think anything was, and sure enough, the vet didn't either.  After a thorough exam, she said that Claude had probably sprained his shoulder, and that he should just rest; no running around!

Well, in my experience, you can't keep a Lacy from channeling that boundless Lacy energy, even when they're old. (Hey, if there was a way to hook Claude up to a generator,  we could probably go off the grid!) 
You'll never wear out a Blue Lacy on foot...but keep trying!
So keeping him from running around was a huge challenge, and impossible whenever he spotted another animal  trespassing in "his" back yard, but after a couple of setbacks (a cat in yard, squirrels in yard, etc) his injury eventually healed up and he was, and is, just fine again.
Even a Lacy puppy can be an inexhaustible running partner.....

Like a typical Blue Lacy, Claude's always ready and willing to work, but we don't really have any traditional Lacy work to offer anymore. We live in the city now, and no longer have any livestock for him to herd.
Claude, about 10 yrs ago, living in the country outside Austin.
And here in central Austin, there are no feral hogs to chase, thank goodness (so far!), so he's a Lacy without a real mission. Trying to help him channel that energy constructively reminds me of the time I rode a very recently retired race horse.....that's a HUGE amount of energy, and no simple way to channel it.

Fetching things (Frisbee's, dog toys, whatever) is all the "work" we've been able to come up with, and he definitely enjoys it. He's pretty good as a retriever, but sometimes takes whatever we've thrown to him and prances around triumphantly shaking whatever it is for awhile first before he'll bring it back. He's a funny guy.

Old dogs, like old people, tend to have health issues, and Claude's no exception, but fortunately he's never had any serious issues, and does have a great vet, as well as a comfortable, very loving home, so he's a happy camper. In terms of medicine, he takes a daily anti-inflammatory (Rimadyl) and a thyroid supplement, and that's all; he's not diabetic, thank goodness. He had some surgery to remove a benign growth from his back, and recovered and regrew his shaved coat very quickly.

Claude's a regular goodwill ambassador in the neighborhood especially with the kids; they all love him and come out to pet him and give him treats. And he loves everybody, human or animal. He also likes to go for rides in the car, and always prefers to keep his "pack" together; every night he waits for our roommate to get home from work, and then comes straight to me to "tell" me that he's home, and keeps whining until I go greet roomie with a hug, so Claude can see that  we're all together.

What he doesn't like is being left behind, but he deals with it. He's such a good dog. An awesome dog, really. I'm so proud of him, and love him so much......everybody should have a "Claude" in their life!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Claude's Post-Halloween Portrait

Claude models his pumpkin costume as he rests after a long workout with a favorite Frisbee. (That gray blur right behind him is a sign of excitement and happiness:)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Update: August, 2010

With any luck at all, Claude will turn 13 around Thanksgiving, and he still plays and runs around like a puppy. He has amassed a respectable collection of well-chewed Frisbees.

Claude's always been a cool dog, but used to be kind of a handful. Texas Blue Lacy's are a seriously energetic breed, bred to work hard all day, every day in the Texas heat, and their energy will find an outlet one way or the other. But since we started watching "The Dog Whisperer", we've learned a lot about how dogs think; this has helped immeasurably. Claude's become a darn near perfect dog- a consistently "calm, submissive pack member", happier than ever and a total joy to be with.

I'm sorry to morph into what may seem like a commercial, but I highly recommend that ALL dog owners (or anyone considering getting a dog) watch "The Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic channel. If you don't have cable, there are also DVD's and books by Cesar Milan (whose DNA will probably reveal that he is part canine- he TOTALLY gets dogs...).

Claude's not much for doing tricks, but we couldn't be prouder of his behavior.
He'll sit and lie down on command, and will pick up and bring anything you ask for if he can get it loose and lift it. He has a large vocabulary and learns quickly. But he's a working breed and wants his paws on the ground and ready for action, so he absolutely refuses to offer his paw to "shake". Luckily he's not running for office!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Thown-Away Puppy Rescued

On Wednesday morning, January 1st, 1998, my son Joel was at his friend Shane's house, recovering from New Year's Eve festivities the night before. As he stood drinking coffee and looking out the kitchen window, he noticed a car stopping briefly across the street at Patterson Park here in Austin, Texas; a door on the far side opened and closed quickly, and the car sped off.
Left behind was a small gray puppy.
Joel ran over and picked up the oblivious, happy little pup so it wouldn't get splattered by traffic on nearby Airport Boulevard. After trying but failing to find anyone in the area who'd claim or take him, he took the puppy home. His roommates were reasonably cool with it (since he was the only one who ever cleaned anything anyway!), but pets were a violation of the lease...

When I eventually met the new addition, I suggested the name "Cloud" (because of the grey color), but it was decided that "Claude" fit him better because he was always climbing up on people and they sometimes got "clawed" in the process..

It was soon clear that this was one very happy, very, very active puppy.

"Claude" was taken to a vet the next day for a general checkup, and the vet diagnosed this cast-off puppy as healthy but suffering from a couple of tiny spots of mange, for which he was treated. The vet also guessed that Claude was only about 5 weeks-old and a Weimaraner (wrong).

Claude the Lacy in the wildflowers (Not a Weimeranar!)
Five weeks old...bless his little heart; he really should have been with his Mama and litter mates for a few more weeks. But I guess getting away from people mean enough to dump him was probably worth it. Since he was abandoned on New Year's Day, I'm guessing he was an unwanted Christmas present...

Claude settled in to newspaper-covered floors and was taken for multiple long walks and runs every day, and was quickly pronounced totally inexhaustible by his exhausted human roommates. Even following a speeding bicycle for miles, Claude never got tired; nobody knew then that his energy came from the fact that he was a specialized breed meant to work hard herding cattle and tracking wild hogs, not hanging around the house...

All was going pretty well (except for the fact that he was too young to be housebroken), until he broke a housemate's expensive glass bong. As a puppy, he'd chewed up or peed on a lot of things, but with that last transgression, Claude was banished and came to live with me, my brother Phil, and my two other dogs out in the country near Driftwood. I had 10 acres on a hill, with 5 horses, some rabbits, some country cats, and a big vegetable garden.

One day while I was at work at the Wildflower Center in Austin, the meter reader from Pedernales Electric came by to read the meter. He spotted Claude in the dog run and remarked to brother Phil, "That's a nice little Blue Lacy you got there."
"Uh, what? What the heck is a "Blue Lacy?" Phil asked.

The meter reader explained that a Blue Lacy is a great all-around ranch dog, and that they say a Lacy can do the work of 5 cowboys.

Wow...who knew?

Unfortunately Phil HATED poor Claude anyway for absolutely no reason and yelled at him constantly, an especially bad thing since you're never supposed to yell at a Lacy! Unfortunately, the helpful meter-reader never mentioned that detail; a Lacy will work his heart out for you, but he really can't handle being yelled at. Yelling at any dog is counter-productive, cruel, and a sign of a frustrated owner who's losing it, but it's especially hard on dogs of the Lacy breed. But Phil was a hopeless slacker anyway as well as a total idiot about dogs, and was finally banished himself. (Phil, if you're out there reading this; you suck!)
Claude lived with me out at Driftwood for about 6 years, until I became disabled and we moved to Austin in July of 2004. He's still with me as of June 2009; he'll be 12 around Thanksgiving, 2009.
Every morning we go for "walkies" before it gets hot. Claude's a local goodwill ambassador for Blue Lacy's.