Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Edie Hinshaw. 1999-2011. Good dog.

03- Good dog.

We found Edie in the autumn of 2000, when she was approximately one year old. We were newly married had returned from our long cross country bike trip, and were talking about getting a dog, but had reached an impasse, because I wanted a large dog, and Molly wanted a small dog. One day Molly's co-workers saw a small, agitated brown dog rambling around their office parking lot. Catching her immediately became an office project. (The people in Molly's office were always happy for an excuse to drop work.) When they finally lure her into the building, Molly's boss announced "Great, let's call the pound!"

"Wait," said Molly, "No one is going to find this dog's home? We're just going to let it be put down?"

Thus it fell to us to find the dog a home. We put up posters all over the part of Lubbock where she was found, but the only response we got was chastisement for nailing a sign into someone's living tree. And so, we became the caretakers for a small, hyperactive dog.

When we took her in to be neutered, the vet guessed that she had been a stray for a while, based on the pavement wear on her claws. He also told us that she was probably about a year old, and had escaped from where ever she was before in her first heat cycle, which was still subsiding. Based on the way she responded to people, she had probably been abused or neglected. She was part dachshund, part terrier.

We named her "edie" because "idi" means "come here" in Russian, and when Molly was in Kaliningrad, the park was always full of old ladies calling "IDI! IDI!" to their dogs.

When Edie first lived with us, we called her our "decorative under-the-couch dog" because she hid all day, coming out at night only to soil the carpet. Gradually, she learned to sit with us, but she would always try to nip my hands. Eventually I learned that the spot on the back of her head I was patting her was a place dogs don't like to be touched. She would get out a lot in those days, and we spent a lot of time looking up and down the dusty alley behind our house for her. Normally she was waiting home for us when we got back. Once we tried to take her to a friend's house, and she slipped out of her harness and came straight home. It took a long time to get her house-trained. For a while we were putting her in the kitchen behind a baby gate when we went to work, but she could jump clear over it. Those stubby legs could actually push her high in the air.

There was a large park near our house, and we would go on hour long walks many, many nights. She was terrified of bridges and storm drains, and we would often have to take long detours to avoid them.

One night she got out, and I found her wrestling with a larger, yellow dog in the back yard. I couldn't tell if they were fighting or playing. I watched a while, but eventually got nervous and pulled Edie away. In retrospect, they were probably playing, and that was probably a moment of great happiness for her.

After we moved to Auburn, she became completely settled in. We first lived in an apartment across from two women who owned dachshunds. I had always thought of Edie as a wiener dog, but when she stood next to full-blooded wiener dogs, I realized she was only a little wienery. When Caroline was born, we were worried that Edie would not get along with her, but Edie recognized Caroline immediately as a member of our pack.

If it wasn't too hot, I would go on walks in the afternoon, with Edie's leash tied to Caroline's stroller. Getting everyone to go the same direction was sometimes difficult.

Our time in Canton, NY was good for Edie. It was a rural village and she could spend plenty of time outside. There was an island in the Grasse River near our house where we would let her go off leash. Once she spontaneously jumped in the water, swam in a small circle, and then popped back up on land. It was her only experience in water, and I gather like most small-legged dogs, she didn't like it.

We got her little booties to walk in the snow, but she didn't like them.

We had back porch with a small ramp for Edie that sloped into a large, grassy backyard. We could tie Edie to the rail of the porch with a long rope and she sit inside with us, or run down the ramp to pee in the yard. The grass in the area she could reach was dramatically thicker and greener than the grass elsewhere.

There were two nice playgrounds in walking distance of our house, where I would go with Caroline and Edie, tying Edie up to a piece of playground equipment. One day I had her tied up to one of those geodesic domes. We had been using a slip collar to dissuade her from pulling when she walked, and I foolishly hadn't switched to the regular collar when I tied her up. Two bigger girls started teasing her, tangling their legs in front of her while they sat on the bars of the dome. I told the girls to stop, but as I did, Edie let out a low belly growl I had never heard before or sense. She broke off the weak slip chain and bit one of the girls, breaking the skin. Her mom was a econ prof at SLU and she called animal control. To avoid trouble, we enrolled in animal behavior classes. A lot of the training involved walking at heel in a square around the backyard and stopping to sit at every corner. Edie was definitely a calmer dog after that.

When Joey was born, Edie immediately decided he was in the pack. I don't know if the kids ever appreciated that this was a rare honor, afforded by Edie to very few other other animals. Grandma Flo, our current across the street neighbor Joni and Joni's dog Daisy are the only other people who were ever fully accepted. Everyone else was to be barked at.

Our time in Ohio has been the golden years for a mellower, aging Edie. We went on walks down to Lake Erie, or down the train tracks, or just around the block. The yard wasn't as well laid out for a dog. It is narrow and a long rope would let her get into either neighbors yard, where she would cause trouble. Mostly she liked to sit on the couch with us. Caroline would love to pat her and tell her she is a good dog.

In the last year, she put on a lot of weight suddenly, started drinking a lot of water and urinating a lot, sometimes in the house. Her back legs became very weak, and she could no longer go up stairs or jump up on the couch unassisted. We put off doing anything about it because it seemed mostly like aging, but when we went to the vet for a regular check up, we told him our worries. It turned out Edie had Cushing's Disease, a hormonal problem. The weight gain was mostly from a swollen liver. She was on meds for a while. The swelling in her abdomen, which we had thought of as weight gain, went down and her drinking a urination returned to normal.

Two nights ago, Caroline was lying in bed with Edie, and asked me asked why Edie was sick. I started to explain Cushing's disease again to her, and she said, "But no, why is she shaking." Edie was trembling something fierce. I took her outside, thinking she might just need to pee and get some fresh air. The next day she was definitely worse. She really didn't like using her back legs at all. We took her to the vet, and he said she'd be ok. She had a reaction to the meds, but we can just lower the dose. Last night we put her in bed with us and she seemed awful. She didn't want to stand at all. I could tell she was in pain. In the morning she had passed.

I like to think we gave her a good life for a dog.