Updates on Some Blog Posts From the Past Year

Foster puppy outcomes, a dog for a 90-year-old, weight loss journeys, and Boone’s two front teeth.


As dog owners, we all know ups and downs. As my friend Dr. Sarah Richardson would say, “Life with dogs is so emotional!” I thought I’d share some of the recent happy and sad outcomes to some of the stories I’ve shared with you this year, starting with the most recent and going back in time.




All I Want For Christmas

A few weeks ago, I told you about an accident that befell Boone—one that I directly caused by unthinkingly tossing a ball toward Boone and Woody in the living room. Woody made a grab for the ball but it bounced out of his mouth toward a steel-framed end-table, with Boone in hot pursuit. He lunged competitively toward the ball and ran smack into the edge of the table, whereupon I heard a distinct CRACK! I turned to see Boone licking his lips, a dismayed expression on his face, and realized that the sound may have been his teeth. I looked in his mouth, and sure enough, I saw that the two teeth in the top, front, and center of his mouth were neatly broken off at the gum line.

Do not throw balls in the house! Not even little soft tosses!

Boone underwent surgery to remove the tooth roots, and x-rays indicated that the roots of the adjacent teeth are, so far, looking OK. Hopefully, the two front ones are the only ones he’ll lose.  Interestingly, the vet told me to soak his food (or feed wet food) and hand-feed him all of his meals by squeezing his food into little meatball shapes for more than a week; she didn’t want him shoving his face into a bowl of food until the incision was well on its way to healing. That was a good tip!

Boone is recovering nicely after surgery for his broken teeth.
The surgical site where Boone had the broken-off roots of his two front teeth removed is healing nicely. The roots of those seemingly small teeth are very long, and the incision was a big one.

However, I did get a stern talking-to about the need to brush Boone’s teeth. The veterinarian showed me photos of some gum recession and periodontitis she spotted in the back of Boone’s mouth, which called for a thorough veterinary dental cleaning while he was under anesthesia for the tooth removal. He’s only two years old! But dogs experience the accumulation of dental plaque at various rates, and even though 8-year-old Woody has not needed a dental cleaning yet, Boone did! I need to get and stay on top of that.

Placing an Angel

In a post about “home-to-home fostering,” I mentioned how I was fostering a dog whom I hoped might be a good fit for a 90-year-old friend of one of my neighbors. When we think of 90-year-olds adopting dogs, we probably mostly think that a small dog would be the best fit, but Ursula, the 90-year-old in question, previously owned a succession of Boxers and Boxer-mixes, and she really wanted another one. I found a 3-year-old candidate in my local shelter, a white female dog with blue eyes whom the shelter was calling Angel. I brought Angel home for a few days, to assess whether she might be calm and well-mannered enough to live safely with Ursula, and I grew more and more impressed with how sweet and well-adjusted the dog was.

I brought Angel to Ursula’s home for a short visit, and the two of them hit it off. After keeping Angel for a trial weekend, Ursula called me to say she was sure, she wanted to adopt Angel, but she was going to name the dog Cassie. When I explained that would be fine, because the dog didn’t really even know the name Angel (unclaimed strays get named by the shelter, so they don’t have to be called by numbers), Ursula was happy. I’ve visited the pair a couple of times since the adoption went through—once, by happenstance on Ursula’s birthday— and Ursula told me that, despite the flowers and balloons and phone calls she received while I was visiting, Cassie is the best birthday present she’s had in years.

Home to home fostering offers dogs a smoother more well socialized route to adoption.
Cassie in her new home with toys, treats, beds, and whatever blankets she prefers.

Woody’s Weight Loss Journey

Back in January, I mentioned that somehow, Woody had ballooned into an 80-pound dog over the past year. (I am not going to talk about my own weight gain during the same period! Ack!) I took the opportunity of bringing Boone to the vet to weigh Woody on the vet’s scales, to see how much progress we had made in slimming him down some. He’s six pounds lighter! I want to get him at least two or three pounds slimmer still, but we’re on track.

A Favorite, Forever Altered

Last October, I shared the story about discovering that Woody’s favorite toy of all time—the Orbee Tuff Squeak Ball—seemed to have been discontinued, and that a similar-looking ball masquerading as Woody’s favorite was being shipped in its place. I promised that I would order some of the new balls and try them out.

Alas, the new ball neither had the same molded-in squeaker, nor the same mouth-feel, nor the same durability that Woody and I had enjoyed so much. However, we’ve been making do with two other balls that Woody finds nearly as enjoyable: Planet Dog’s Orbee Tuff Baseball and the Chuckit Max Glow Ball. He likes the squishiness of these two balls, and doesn’t try to chew them to bits. (Balls that are made of firmer material get chewed to bits, including the new version of the Squeak ball. Bummer!)

Foster Dog Heartbreak and Success

Last summer, I fostered two litters of puppies who were born to mothers (likely sisters) who both came into my local shelter from a hoarding situation. One litter I took on fairly early, as the mother was protective of the pups in the shelter, which did not endear her to the kennel workers; the other litter I took on a bit later, when it was time for them to be weaned. The first litter was healthier, and got adopted fairly quickly; but the four pups from the second litter weren’t so lucky.

I discussed two of the four pups at length: one was socially very strange, almost autistic; and the other was one of the sweetest and friendly pups ever, but had a variety of strange health conditions.

In that linked blog post, I reported that the sweet puppy whom the shelter had dubbed “Junior” had been diagnosed with Ehler Danlos Syndrome; this explained all the weird conditions he had been plagued with: swollen joints, a knee that seemed like it kept popping out of place, and skin that tore like paper. The diagnosis came after a family had met and fallen in love with the puppy, and though they could have pulled the plug on his adoption, knowing that they were potentially in for a lot of veterinary bills, they adopted him anyway and called him “DJ.”

About the time that DJ got adopted, one of the other puppies in the same litter started experiencing the exact same injuries that we had seen in DJ early on: ball-like swelling on his hocks and elbows, and unexplained skin tears. Given that the dogs involved in this cruelty/neglect/hoarding case had all been related, and likely highly inbred, it was assumed that both pups had inherited the condition. Since no one had shown any interest in that pup in the shelter, and with a likely diagnosis of the same untreatable disease plaguing DJ, the shelter euthanized him.

And tragically, despite living in a home with a family who took every precaution to keep him safe , DJ kept getting hurt. He suffered from a multitude of skin tears, no matter how they tried to manage his activity (even when just playing at home); each one required very careful treatment from the veterinarian who diagnosed him with EDS, as stitching or stapling the fragile skin was fraught. The laxity of his first (and then also second) knee joint got worse and worse, but the vet didn’t think that even surgery to try to stabilize the joints would work; his skin and connective tissue was just too delicate. He had to be maintained on pain medication, and his mobility got worse and worse with his knees dislocating constantly.

All the love and the care in the world could not keep DJ in one piece, and a week ago, amid great sorrow, his family and their veterinarian agreed that it was time to end his suffering. They spent one last weekend lavishing love and attention on the sweet little dog, and when they awoke on the morning of his euthanasia appointment to find a huge new skin tear that he apparently suffered in his sleep, they took it as a sign they were doing the correct but very hard thing. The dad sent me a photo of him they had taken over the weekend, saying, “Thank you again for allowing DJ into our lives. I took this picture of him last night. It hides most of his cuts so I think it’s a great picture.”

Oh, my sweet puppy. I am so glad you had such a loving and devoted family for your short life. And I’m so sorry—and continue to be so angry—about people who allow their dogs to breed indiscriminately, without any regard for the suffering their carelessness inflicts on the dogs they create.

Chrissy continues to be adorable and friendly.
Thank goodness, Chrissy has not shown any sign of having the same inherited condition as her brothers

One bit of happier news: After crying for a day about DJ, I screwed up my courage and contacted the woman who adopted the puppy with the strange aloofness—the one who seemed to have some sort of autism. I was scared that she might report that Chrissy (her new name) might be suffering some of the same symptoms as her brothers, DJ and the unnamed puppy. Thankfully, the owner reported that Chrissy was perfectly healthy, if still somewhat aloof and apprehensive about humans she didn’t know. Her owner said that even with her quirks, Chrissy is a much-loved member and fully accepted member of her family.