Friday, April 27, 2012

Asha knows

Trevor got me a new phone and I now have the ability to video things.  I love that. There are so many things that happen every day that I always wanted to share and now I can.   I was able to capture Asha being her usual self this morning....

Every day when we leave, we give Asha toys/treats to keep her busy.  Her absolute favorite are these bones -
The ends screw off and you put those little rawhide disks on, then screw the end back on. These used to keep Asha busy for a while, now she eats them up in just a couple minutes.  We give her three bones.  She can smell when we are getting them ready.  We also throw them onto the couches in the front room. So as soon as she smells them, she'll run into the front room and start searching for them.

Today I got the bones ready and was finishing up getting myself ready. I put the bones in a bowl on the counter.  I was at the sink and heard a loud noise. I turned around and caught her in the act.  She had taken one bone, two were left. I stood there with my phone and waited for her to come looking for the other two. It only took a minute and she did.  She cannot see or hear, yet she knew EXACTLY where those bones were.  I love the look on her face while she is doing this...

Thursday, April 26, 2012


When Asha first came to live with us, she had a tough time playing with Buster. He likes to move around alot and she wasn't able to keep track of him. It made us sad because he wanted to play with her, but he didn't understand why she couldn't do it.  Over time, Buster has figured out how to play with Asha. He stays close to her.  Often, she'll put her paw on his back so that she knows he is near.  I love watching them play.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The things we do for love

Trevor and I have really left no stone unturned in our quest for a peaceful household.  Asha has challenged all the "easy" fixes, so we have decided to reach out to alternative forms of healing.  Our minds have opened to the idea that there may be an answer outside of all things rational.

As I've discussed before, Asha has a traditional vet, a behavioral vet and a trainer that all help us with her.  Through them we have been referred to an animal communicator and an acupuncture/Chinese medicine veterinary practitioner.  Everyone seems to believe that a combination of eastern and western medicine will be the answer for our special case. Asha defies all reason when it comes to her treatment. She is so sensitive to things. She has the rare side effects and does not react to treatment the way most animals do. I know that this is both frustrating and interesting to all the people who deal with her.  I get a lot of "wow...that's interesting" when I report her response to things.  For example, when she was prescribed a sedative that should have made her sleep for 10 hours and it didn't affect her at all, the vet said "wow...that's interesting".

Asha's case has been circulated to so many different people.  Friends of friends, colleagues of colleagues.  I figure if we get enough eyes, ears and minds on the case that eventually we'll hit on something that works.  And things are working.  Little things here and there add up to a dog that is much better than I ever expected she would be.  But we all believe that she still have room to improve and this is not as good as it will get.

The appointment with the animal communicator was fascinating. I'll admit, I was and still am skeptical about it, but I am glad we did it and we'll surely do it again. The communicator lives in Puerto Rico, we sent a picture of Asha and some questions we wanted her to be asked.  Jessica, the communicator, was going to meditate and spend the day with Asha's spirit. Then she would send us a report.  The day came and went and we joked about how Asha's spirit had an appointment.  I anxiously waited for the report.

The report came while I was teaching a cycling class, Trevor read it first. When he told me the report was there, he said "you'll cry".  And he was right.  We had given Jessica very little information about Asha, I was careful to not give away too much, I really wanted to see if she was talking to our Asha.  I believe that in some way she was.  She said that when she called Asha's spirit and Asha came to her she would not look her in the face, Asha turned her head away in every direction. That is exactly what Asha does when we get home every day and she runs to us. Once she gets to us, she sits down and if we crouch down to her level, she will not look us in the face.

One of the first things that Jessica reported was a special message from Asha. She said that Asha had given it much thought and she did not want to live if she couldn't live with us. So if a time came where we couldn't keep her, she wanted us to release her from her vessel. She said that Asha was not sad about this, she just wanted us to know.

She then went on to talk about how Asha feels out of control, how she can't sleep because her skin feels like its crawling - which is interesting because when she tries to sleep at night, she'll jump up like she has been poked, like her skin is crawling.  She said she likes to jump off the deck because she gets a rush when she hits the ground.  If you watch her, you can tell this is true.

She also said that Asha is happiest when she is asleep, she is healthy in her dreams.  Every day when I come home, I know this is true because I see this...

If nothing else, it made me feel more compassionate towards Asha.  In the day to day, its sometimes difficult to remember that she is frustrated too. She is trying to make sense of her world and communicate with us. She can't see or hear.  Sometimes I think about that and it really stops me in my tracks.  Imagine....not seeing or hearing....what would that be like?  Her appointment with the communicator has helped us all in many different ways and while it may seem like new age horse shit to some people, I'm glad we did it.

The really crazy thing is that Asha had been sleeping pretty good leading up to her appointment with Jessica, that night, she was all out of sorts.  Her energy had been messed with and she did not like it.

Our next adventure was a meeting with an accupuncturist. We've been wanting to try this for a while, but our behavioral vet wanted us to wait until we stabilized her medication.  After our last appointment we agreed we were at a point where it made sense to explore some Chinese medicine.

We made our appointment.  Everyone who knows Asha and knows anything about accupuncture was sure that she would never allow anyone to place needles in her.  We all expected that she would get started on some herbs and in a couple weeks we'd go back and try to do the accupuncture.

The practitioner we met is a friend of our regular vet and she already knew all about Asha.  That was nice because she had already been formulating a plan.  She felt confident that she could start treating Asha right away.  And she did. The first appointment, she placed 25 needles.  Asha walked around the room and while the Dr would follow her, putting needles in. Asha would growl and bark and cry and fight. Once the needle was placed, she would settle down. When most of the needles were placed, Asha laid down and slept for about 20 minutes.  She seemed relaxed and content.

We also started Asha on some herbs - twice a day - that should help cool her "fire" and calm her.  We have been giving those to her twice a day.  We have been back for two more sessions and have another planned for this week.  After the sessions, for a day or two, Asha gets some relief and sleeps much better during the night. Then on days 3 and 4 she is a little worse.  This treatment is cumulative and so are the herbs.  So the real results will be seen over time.

All I know is that we love Asha and she loves us.  Her world is so chaotic and random, the only things she knows for sure are me, Trevor and the other animals in our home.  She knows that she is safe with us and I do believe that she knows we are working hard to help her.  She's changed my life in so many ways, some good, some bad.  But like every important creature in our lives, she is teaching me things about myself that I would have been able to ignore otherwise.  She is teaching me some things about myself that I honestly don't like.  I've had to come to grips with my obsessive need for control and order.  I am learning that most things are actually out of our control and that doesn't have to mean that they are bad or wrong.  I am also learning that the life you have isn't always the life you think you want....and that's okay.

I have struggled since we got Asha, wondering if she was happy with us.  I can now say that I know she is.  I see joy in her every day and she smiles a lot...just like Maggie and Buster and that makes my heart want to overflow.  Its hard work, but most things worthwhile are hard and there in lies the reward.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Its taking a village

Yesterday, Asha had her three month follow up with the behavioral vet. Dr Pachel is located at Rose City Veterinarians down in Portland. We've only been there once to see him. Asha wanted to drive, I told her maybe on the way home.
All our contact with Dr Pachel since the first visit has been via email. Dr Pachel has certainly earned his keep on this case. I bet I emailed with him just about every day for a while. We have made many different changes to Asha's medicine over the last three months. We've tried at least three anti anxiety drugs and more than 5 sedatives to help her sleep at night. Asha is a everyone. She does not respond to anything the way we expect and so we are constantly looking for answers.

Our regular vet is always reaching out to other practitioners, our trainer does the same and our behavioral vet is always asking for our permission to share Asha's file with his colleagues. We've taken Asha to a friend who does Rieke (she hated it) and she even had an appointment with an animal communicator (that was fascinating). Many people tell us what great dog parents we are....the truth is that Asha is so distruptive that we'll do just about anything to find peace and quiet! Actually, we love Asha will all our hearts and we want her to have a good life. When she isn't sleeping at night and she runs and barks all day long, none of us can have a good life. And so we search.

Asha is SO much better that I ever could have imagined she would be. I believe we have really hit on an anxiety drug that can work for her. Yesterday when I asked Dr Pachel about getting Asha to sleep he told me that there may not be anything we can do to make her sleep. We've tried 5 different drugs that all work on different parts of her brain and nervous system and nothing has worked. We are making a dosage change to her anxiety drug and perhaps that will have an effect.

Our regular vet has been telling us for a while that we should try taking Asha to an accupuncturist. Our behavioral vet wanted to wait until we got her meds stabilized. Yesterday, he felt like we were at a point where it made sense to start looking at non traditional medicine. Asha has an appoint on Saturday with an accupuncturist and I am actually really excited to see how she'll respond.

Everyone LOVES Asha. Everywhere we go, people just want to touch her and know about her. We have only been to the behavioral vet once and yet they all remembered Asha. When we arrived, the front desk girls called to the back "remember that blind, deaf Aussie who sees Dr Pachel? She's here, come say hi!". They asked if they could take her picture and post her story on their facebook page. Here it is:
I worry so much about Asha. Is she happy with us? Would she be happier some other place with some other family? She has so many issues that its hard sometimes to not think that maybe its us. Yesterday Dr Pachel told me that the thing he loves most about Asha is her face, she is always smiling. I told him about my worries and he said "She can have all these issues and still be happy." He said he sees a lot of dogs and one thing he knows for sure is that Asha is happy with us. I was looking through my pictures of Asha and noticed that she is always smiling....

Last weekend, we took all the dogs on a hike by a creek. They LOVED it. Asha had never been there and seemed to take it all in. She walked along beside me enjoying the day. The breeze blowing made the tufts of fur behind her ears move. She would hold her nose up to catch the smells in the wind, then put her nose down to smell the earth. She walked into the creek and moved against the current. Her little paws spread in the mud. She liked the way it felt between her toes. It hit me that she was experiencing something new. I love when we can give that to her. It made me so incredibly happy.

We were talking about it and Trevor said that its like Asha is writing her story. She has a big box of crayons, but she doesn't know that all of the colors exist. She has a blank page and every day she colors it in. When she has a new experience, she gets to use a new crayon and sometimes that new crayon will become her favorite. I loved the thought of that. Sweet Asha, coloring away. I can't wait to see how her story progresses.