When he returned home, Hawk's itching was back to where it was before Hawk left for his little vacation. He was up several times a night, and though he was eating and playing normally, he had to stop every few steps to scratch and had rash on his ever-growing belly and even in his ears. We had to do something, and after talking with our president Nicole, she wanted to have him come to her house and work with a holistic vet to work on building up his immune system, while also changing his diet to a very basic, raw diet.
Hawk had only been back a couple of days since my trip to MI, and I have to tell you it was heartbreaking to walk away from him at Nicole's. It felt like we had failed our little Hawk in some way. As I said, even though he was a pain in the butt for 2 months, he was just beginning to understand what we wanted and was at the prime age for learning. He was our responsibility and it felt like we were giving up. This feeling was somewhat tempered watching Hawk happily playing with a younger little female bulldog puppy named Kegger who lives with Nicole, and watching him trying to settle her down by pinning her to the ground like Monte has done with him so many times--eureka, he had learned something! We had to give Hawk a chance to improve his health, and it was possible there was some kind of something at our house that was causing him to flare up with the rashy itching.
|Hawk - contentment!|
His first holistic treatment was acupuncture and some herbal remedies. The report is it was not an immediate cure, he is still itchy (which points to it not being something solely at our house), but he will have more treatments next week. Hopefully, in a short time, he will come back to us with a rock solid immune system that can fend off any onslaught from minute invaders of any kind. If not...well, never mind. Hawk came from a great line of healthy Labradors, and he will be just fine.
Now, we were not a 1-dog family for every long. The day after Hawk left, I picked up Hobey. He is now 2-1/2 years old and had been placed as a service dog with his buddy Luke a year ago. We raised Hobey from 8 weeks old, and he is a lovely dog. Though we do our best to match dog to client and vice versa and work closely with the family to help with transitions and training, sometimes it just does not work out. This is always viewed as a learning opportunity for our organization to improve for the future. I know it was difficult for the family to see all the material reminders of Hobey's year with them loaded into my SUV, say some final good-byes to their friend and watch as I drove away, but in the days to come in their busy life, it may be kind of a relief not to have another living being that requires time and attention. The good part for Hobey is dogs are very "in the moment" thinkers (as far as any research can tell thus far), especially Labs, and since we were very familiar to Hobey, it was a seamless transition for him. He is the sweet soul he has always been, happy and playful and wanting to please. Luke's family took good care of him, and he is the picture of health. It is so easy to have him around, even Monte does not seem to mind, except that Hobey thinks it is great fun to run at Monte full speed and send him flying. We all had kind of forgotten that little habit of Hobey's until he did it on our first walk, and now Monte keeps one eye on him at all times, as do we, and Monte seems to be able to out-maneuver Hobey still. We will work on training this out of Hobey's repertoire. Hobey will spend some time with us, and we will evaluate his skills, and then it will be determined by the organization if he can be placed in other service work. As we always say, we just want someone to love and care for these dogs as much as we do; certainly use their skills to enhance their own lives, but also realize they are dogs who need off time, exercise, fun and as much devotion as they give.
One funny thing that Hobey remembered that we did not until the moment it happened was that when Hobey was growing up with us, Jeff was off work. Jeff had a routine of waking up and opening up his laptop to check email, send out his resume, etc., when he closed up the laptop, the dogs would jump up because they knew he would be taking them for a walk. Well, after all this time, the first time one of us clicked the laptop shut, Hobey was on his feet and heading for the front door! It was a heartwarming reminder to us of his puppyhood, and evidence that he knew where he was again. Dogs never cease to amaze me.
One of Hobey's bad habits, again since puppyhood, is that he cannot have any fabric toys, as we have been reminded of already. He literally eats the fabric and swallows it. Hawk had 2 small stuffed toy bunnies that his little teeth could not damage. Hobey quickly chewed off the ears from these bunnies, and they are no where to be found. There also seemed to be a long red tail missing from a Wubba toy, and now I have made yet another sweep through the house picking up and putting far away any stuffed toys from this big chocolate fabric consumer. I certainly do not want to have to pay for a bowel blockage surgery or have to have Hobey go through that. Sometimes we have to know what is best for them. He can live without stuffies and probably will live longer without them!
|Hobey as a trainee puppy|