The story so far…

A brief update on the Honour service dog search –

We were on a list for a Tibetan Spaniel puppy that was due this week. Unfortunately, despite a positive ultrasound early on, X-rays showed that there were no puppies. Nobody knows why some litters are resorbed; they just are.

This was disappointing. I am struck sometimes by how you can use words to describe something in a tenth of a second, as though as soon as you finish reading the words it’s over. Like “we built a house,” which is a year of sweat and yelling and swearing and afternoons that go on forever, but later you just say, “Oh, yeah, we built this house.” In this case, “disappointing” means “several days of Honour constantly bursting into tears, and blood on her knuckles because stress makes her hand-washing much worse, and Joanna really doesn’t get any sleep because she worries all night long and then has to be smiling and gentle during the days because it’s not fair to take it out on the other kids but maybe she can sell a kidney to find a puppy quickly? Would anyone buy it? Crap crap crap crap.”

Then the breeders of the Tibetan Spaniel litter called me to offer something quite astonishing – would Honour like to have one of their retired girls? This was not disappointing. It was wonderful. And it’s an offer we’re going to take them up on, next month in fact. The girl we’re getting – on very much a try-it-out-and-see-if-everyone-is-happy basis – is the age most service dogs are when they are thinking of retiring, so this is not a Grand Solution to Everything. But there’s a lot of real blessing to it: She’s a bombproof dog, she’s steady, she’s socialized within an inch of her life, she’s kind and wise. If she enjoys it here, she’ll make a wonderful emotional support dog for Honour and even do a few service-dog tasks if she likes the idea (I am not going to push). She’s also the right size and age to teach a toy-breed puppy the ropes of good behavior.

We’re still on the list for the next litter (this fall or next year) from these wonderful breeders. Nothing would make me happier than if that works out. But eggs and baskets have a saying about them for a reason. So the search goes on for a service dog puppy, as grateful as we are for the opportunity of the Lady of a Certain Age.  More to come, as it happens.

Oh, and anyone want a kidney?

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  • Reply Amayon June 10, 2011 at 12:19 am

    YAY!! Im glad that worked out. You got me curious now, however. What age IS “when most service dogs retire”? Iv never heard a hard number thrown around

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 10, 2011 at 12:25 am

      It depends on tasking, but if they do a lot of physical stuff what I hear most often is 8-10. Bigger breeds sooner than smaller breeds; I wouldn’t want a Dane supporting weight much beyond seven or even six, but a toy breed that only has to pick up their own leash could go a lot longer if they still have the drive and the joy in doing it. Sometimes dogs just decide they’re DONE, too, according to the people I’ve talked to. Psychiatric service dogs have an emotionally stressful job and they can end up emotionally exhausted.

  • Reply Teri June 10, 2011 at 12:27 am

    That news definately brought a happy smile to my face. Even though I don’t know you personally, your recent struggles have touched me. This sounds like a great situation which will allow much more time to find that elusive “perfect” solution. I send many happy thoughts that the retiree dog will bring peace and joy to your family.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 10, 2011 at 12:30 am

      Thank you so much – I really appreciate how much everyone is pulling for us and especially for Honour.

  • Reply K.B. June 10, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Oh yeah!!!!!!! What absolutely fantastic news!!!!!

    As an aside, I’m renovating (i.e. completely gutting) my house, so I hear you 100% on the “brevity” of words 🙂
    K.B. recently posted…Planting a free shrub in a 20 holeMy Profile

  • Reply micaela June 10, 2011 at 12:59 am

    beautiful! I’m happy that you’ll have the opportunity to try this retiree as a stopgap for Honour. What a great way for this Lady to have something to do besides curl up on a pillow in her retirement! 😉 Yaaaaay!!!

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      Yes, I think it has the potential to be something really wonderful. I am being cautious in my own hopes because the stakes are so high, but we can hardly wait to meet her.

  • Reply Kathie Rizzo June 10, 2011 at 1:04 am

    I hope it works out with the older retired dog!

  • Reply Joanna Kimball June 10, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Wow, me too. At this point my stress level is high enough that I need a dog myself! Or maybe just 13 hours of sleep and some ice cream.

  • Reply priscilla June 10, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Wow…that is the best thing ive heard all day…. Praise God! I pray you get the rest you need and the stress levels out. Good for Honour…wonderful, wonderful news!
    I have never heard of a litter “being there” and then not “being there”?..resorbed, new word for me!

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 10, 2011 at 2:45 am

      Yes – dogs don’t ever “miscarry,” because if a puppy dies her body just absorbs the tissue. For some reason all the puppies inside this mom dog died – a minor infection, an odd hormone lurch, who knows – and so even though they were visible and alive half-way through the pregnancy they had disappeared by the time she would have whelped. (Don’t read onward if you can’t stand medically/vet stuff) The one time I had a really bad/sick litter (in Danes) was because the mom got kennel cough at about seven weeks pregnant. Half the puppies died and were almost entirely resorbed by the time she whelped. She had a c-section because we knew Bad Things had happened, and amongst the six healthy puppies were what looked like small water balloons with fluid and crunchy bits inside. The little balls were the sacks that hold each fetal puppy and the crunchy bits were what was left of the bones of the dead puppies; if they had died a week before that we probably would never have known they existed. It’s actually a blessing that mom dogs can do it, because otherwise a lost litter would be enormously risky for her. Since she is on four feet instead of two she doesn’t have gravity to bring down bleeding or infection.

  • Reply Erin June 10, 2011 at 3:28 am

    I am so happy for Honour and your family, but mostly for Honour. What an answered prayer for you, even if it is only a temporary fix. My heart has been hurting for your beautiful girl, and this makes me very, VERY happy to hear!
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  • Reply Anne June 10, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Reading this post was like being in a closed room until the fourth paragraph- relieved that you have, perhaps, a little more breathing room and at least something concrete to hope for next month while you pursue other options! Best wishes in puppy quest, and here’s hoping the old soul will love her new job and new human.

  • Reply Leanne June 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Sometimes language isn’t as useful as it should be. So glad for Honour, and what wonderful breeders.

    Your last post made me think I should comment more frequently – I’ve been following this blog for a long time.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      I think of you as one of the “regulars,” so whatever you are doing is working!

  • Reply priscilla June 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Joanna that is so interesting about the way the litter absorbs into their bodies if they die, another example of how God thinks of every detail, thanks for explaining..
    Blessing to you and Honour today~

  • Reply Julie E June 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I am so very pleased for you! I do hope this works well for both Honour and the older dog. Sometimes a real job will bring on some enthusiasm on an older dog’s part that is surprising. I pray that it works that way for you while you look for (and find!) that wonderful helper for Honour.

  • Reply Amy June 19, 2011 at 1:18 am

    How wonderful for Honour!

  • Reply Jen June 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Late to the game, but glad to hear this news! Congrats!

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