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Our beloved Mouse, 2014

Mouse, my eleven-year- old Shih Tzu, had a bad morning yesterday. She has been diagnosed as having several tiny tumors in her brain that can cause balance problems. The treatment is a dose of phenobarbital morning and evening.

Yesterday , as I delved into morning chores, I noticed Mouse listing to one side. She was definitely unsteady. I stopped everything and fixed a dog food meatball with her pill in it. I sat on the floor and gave her the pill. “I’ve got your back, sweetie,” I said, “don’t worry”. She leaned against me and I took the opportunity to kiss her sweet round head. It’s true. I do have her back, and all the others too.

They are my babies, and when they get older I have to watch for problems, get as exact a diagnosis as I can, and then I have to be there with what they need.

In December, we put up our Christmas tree and it fell to me to decorate it. At the very top I hung a ceramic ornament of a Shih Tzu complete with wings, robe, and halo. I did this in memory and honor of the dogs we have lost this year. In April, I lost my beloved Maurice, age 12, to pulmonary hypertension, rare and nearly always fatal. Then in November, my daughter lost her adored Australian Shepherd, Dixie Doodle – to cancer. Then I received a Christmas card from a faithful reader of this column telling me of the passing of her much loved Miss Lucy, also a Shih Tzu.

I wept as I read the card. This is the downside to giving one’s heart to a dog. However, I have always felt that real dog lovers are born that way. And it’s not just dogs they love, but animals in general. There is an old saying: never trust a person who does not like dogs. I have found that to be true. The other day I looked over my husband’s shoulder at the newspaper and saw a photo of an armful of three cougar kittens. They were adorable. My husband read the article to me.

It seems that cougars are fair game and a hunter shot a female and when he went to pick her up, he noticed she had milk. I don’t know if he looked for the kittens or if he called someone to do so. They were found in the den that their mother had made for them, and will now go to an east coast facility.

Of course I had to weigh in on this “start to finish atrocity”. “Well, that sucks”, I said. “Well”, replied hubby, “cougars kill the deer so they have been declared fair game.” “So”, I said angrily, “the mama cougar might bring down a deer to feed herself so she can nurse her babies, so a hunter is authorized to shoot her, so there will be more deer for more hunters to kill during deer hunting season!” (By this time I was hitting full steam.) “Isn’t that just great! Whatever happened to ‘Natural Selection,’ anyway!” Hubby gave up arguing for any other point of view—smart on his part. Sometimes it seems that I was born arguing for the nature/nurture/ let it be. There is plenty to eat that we grow ourselves.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I will always have Mouse’s back and all my other furry backs. Remember, as any doctor will tell you, veggies are the BEST MEDICINE!

Editors Note: Originally published in NWC Feb. 2014

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