Tag Archives: German shepherds

What Is On My Mind Today: Blindness, Blood and Blessings

Just over a week ago my husband and I finally made plans to go on vacation this summer. For the first time in years, we plan to hike in the mountains of Montana.

So, last week was an eventful week. It all began on Monday morning when my husband called me from work to say the he had made an emergency eye doctor appointment. Driving to work that morning he noticed his vision was distorted. When he closed one eye, then the other, it was immediately apparent that he had lost vision in his left eye.

He came home from his doctor appointment with a severe headache, a diagnoses of a macular hole and an announcement that he will need surgery.

This is what his vision looks like now out of that eye.
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Normal vision                                               Distorted vision

Learning that he would not be able to drive home after his appointment with the surgeon was a bit unsettling….for my husband.  You see, I have not driven on a freeway in over five years. I have not driven, because I could not turn my head.  However, after my trip into the oncologist the Friday past and the physical therapist breaking down the scar tissue that had grown onto my skull,  I could move my head quite well. I was good to go.

The night before our expedition, I had the weirdest dream, which is not uncommon on my Chemo.  This dream, however, repeated itself over and over again.  It was of me driving. As I shoot down the on ramp my car ends up right in front of a big blue semi truck.  I guess it must have been on my mind some after all.

When I woke up, I said a prayer for God to watch over my husband and myself, got dressed and we were out the door.

The surgeon’s office was in a neighboring city and was not the easiest place to find. Eventually we were successful. We both chuckled as it was right next door to the animal emergency hospital.  With multiple resources readily available, our situation was obviously well under control. The surgeon checked my husband out and scheduled his surgery for April 9.

After meeting with the surgeon, my husband explained the good news is the surgery will be outpatient.  The procedure can restore between 40 and 90 percent of his vision.  The initial recovery should be a couple of days, followed by several weeks or months of restrictions.  Honestly, all I heard was he was going to get an eye patch!  I have asked him for almost 40 years to dress up like a pirate.

As my owl-eyed, severely pupil dilated husband headed for the car, he again asked if he could drive.  I showed him, that I had my own keys.  At that point, he got into the passenger seat. It took me forever to adjust the driver’s seat in our car.  My husband is six feet, four inches tall.  On a good day, I might be five feet, three inches tall.  I adjusted all the mirrors, put on my seat belt and proceeded to drive out of the parking lot.

I never even made it out of the parking lot before my husband provided advice on safe car length distances. Which he is an expert on.  It has been noted that at times he uses the age-old and well-practiced rational that the distance you are behind a car can help motivate the driver of the car in front of you to increase their speed.  The optimal distance required to perform this motivational maneuver is easily discerned. It is when you can read the bumper stickers on the car in front of your without using the glasses to correct your severely near-sighted eyes required by your drivers license.

After safely exiting the parking lot, it was time for the big test….entering the freeway.  The entrance to this freeway is at the end of a circular blind ramp.  As I accelerated to merge, I looked over my shoulder, which I had only been able to do for three days, and there he was…that big blue semi truck!

As the truck did not move over, I had to drive on the shoulder for a short way until the lane was safe to enter. Thank goodness by the time this baptism by fire occurred, my husband’s driving coaching skills had been rendered impotent by widely dilated eyes and a blinding headache.

We arrived home safely and the rest of the week was uneventful until Friday.  I woke up feeling seasick that morning and spent the majority of the day taking care of myself.  I was so proud of our pup Oliver.  Normally, he is Mr. Energy, but he had spent the whole day just resting with me.  German Shepherd’s are like that, they are great caregivers.

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He was pretty excited to see my husband come home from work. It was so cute to see him standing at the gate with his tail wagging, tongue hanging out, just waiting for dad.  My husband stepped into the yard and threw Oliver a stick to catch. That is where it all went so very horribly wrong.

Oliver caught the stick at a strange angle, as he came down with it, the end of the stick went into the ground.  The other end of the stick impaled Oliver in his mouth and became lodged.  HE NEVER EVEN YIPPED!   Both, the pup and my husband were sitting together in the backyard looking positively stunned.

In the Bible it says that a child will not depart from the way it is raised and I was raised on a farm with animals.  Animals on a farm get injured, sick and sometimes die.  Now, when our animals needed help the old doc would come out.  Most farm veterinarians are laid back, but this guy could have sat and smoked his cigar in a tornado and not batted an eye. He also firmly believed that all veterinary procedures were performance art and a spectator sport.  Being a girl did not get you a pass from the old doc when there was neutering, wound draining, shot giving or dissecting to be done.

Oliver came into the house on his own.  It became quickly apparent that he was going into shock.  No sooner did I notice the changes in the pupils of his eyes, than Truman, our other German Shepherd, began to nudge the pup. Oliver came back.

By then, the bleeding had commenced in earnest.  The first thing I looked for was whether or not the blood had bubbles in it, was pinkish and foamy or was spurting.  Oliver passed that threshold, but there was just so very much blood. We could not see the injury.

If anyone has ever seen the mouth wound of a small child who has fallen, you know how how awful mouth wounds can look and much they can bleed. After the bleeding stops often there is just a small cut.  We waited for a few minutes to see if the bleeding would slow, but it did not. Soon, he was passing huge blood clots.

By God’s grace and my husband’s blind eye, we knew exactly where the closest animal hospital was.  Oliver went with us willingly and on his own steam.  Truman, our old white German Shepherd, for the first time in his life, fought with with my husband to stay with his puppy.  He was so shook up.

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By the time we got to the animal hospital, it looked like we had butchered a chicken in our car.  Blood everywhere. As Oliver pranced into the clinic like nothing was wrong, with blood dripping all over the floor, one tech took the dog and another one offered Doug and I scrubs, should we want to change out of our bloody clothes.

We quickly learned that Oliver wasn’t in danger from the blood loss, but would need emergency surgery.  Since he was stable there were several other pets in critical condition who would be taken in first.  By the time of his surgery, at about 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the bleeding had pretty much stopped on its own. The surgeon found that he had a “massive” puncture wound under his tongue.  He was sent home with two weeks of restrictions, antibiotics and other medication.

When we went to pick Oliver up the next morning, Truman howled the whole time we were gone.  My husband acknowledged, “There goes my new big screen TV” as he paid the bill. We got to meet the dog who had been attacked by a muskrat.  Then, we took a very groggy pup home.

As we were driving back, my husband made a comment about bad luck and things going wrong.  That man and I certainly have had some challenges. For so very many years he had to be the one who stayed positive and strong, it was my turn. So,  I told him that except for my cancer diagnoses and all of those years I was an invalid and sick, we really haven’t had that much go wrong. Besides what’s so bad? My cancer is in remission, the semi truck missed us, your eye will be fixed, the pup didn’t skewer himself in the windpipe, jugular or artery, by God’s grace we knew where to take him because of your faulty eye, we already own three T.V.’s and we are now officially the blind leading the lame.

Boy, did I get a look, and then, slowly a lopsided grin appeared.

My husband took Oliver right into the back yard when we got home. The first thing that pup did was pick up that very same bloodied stick and sit down to wait for it to be thrown. There is something admirable about getting right back on the horse…but, too soon, Oliver, too soon!

Moral of Story:  There will be many times when the only thing in life that you will be able to control is your attitude. Look for the blessings and count them instead of your troubles. And always remember that there is a fine line between bravery and foolishness.

WARNING FOR DOG OWNERS!!!!   It is not uncommon for veterinarians to see dogs come in with severe injuries from playing fetch with sticks.  DO NOT throw sticks for your dog!  They should never be used as a toy.  Oliver was lucky.   




Just saying….All’s Well That Ends Well

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Oliver the German Shepherd Puppy at 9 months old…94 pounds. 

Oliver has been having itchy ears. So we took him to the vet and he did not have an infection or anything. So night before last, after I had lost several nights sleep for various reasons and Doug was so tired I could not wake him, I got up with Oliver and his itchy ears.

In a sleep deprived stupor, I dragged myself to the bathroom to put some hydrocortisone cream in his ears. As it was very early in the morning and as I did not want to wake Doug, I did not put on my glasses or turn on a lot of lights.

I woke up yesterday morning to discover that I grabbed the wrong tube of medicine from the cabinet and had rubbed Preparation H into Oliver’s ears. My first thought was I am not telling my husband, quickly followed by thank God it wasn’t the estrogen and my third was…..well….it stopped his itchy ears and they have been fine ever since.  All’s well that ends well….just saying.

Recipes: Great Dumplings…Oliver and Apple

   Oliver will be nine months old next week. 

My German Shepherd Puppy Oliver had a trip to the veterinary this morning for a routine check up.  He loves going anywhere and doing everything.  Life is just one big continuous party for the pup. Oliver has been doing his best to mentor me with this attitude, and he’s a very good teacher.

Our joint effort to enjoy life has produced a pup that at nine months old weighs 93 pounds. I thought this was great as he sounds like he’s the runt of the litter. One of his brothers was over 95 pounds at eight months.  As a coated shepherd, he’s so hairy that I find it hard to tell where fluff ends and flesh begins. I can feel his ribs when I pet him.  However, the vet had no such problem discerning this issue and made it clear that Oliver, the apple of my eye, has turned into a bit of an apple dumpling.

Apparently there needs to be a reduction in”treats” and an increase in activity levels. Moving forward I will be much more diligent in calorie counting for my dogs and adding a lot more Frisbee and squirrel chasing to their menus.  I am just going to have to remain strong against those soul-melting big brown eyes when they are beseeching me for something that he really needs…like ice cream.

As a two-time cancer survivor and a woman who helped guide two gifted children, one male and one female, through their teenage years into adulthood….I…can…do…this!! I can remain strong and say no to such innocence and preciousness.  After all my husband, Doug, has set a great example for me to follow. He has been able to withstand my big brown eyes and say no to me for over 37 years.

In our home, apple dumplings need to remain a sumptuous dessert for people, not a description of a noble German Shepherd.

Grandmother Esther’s Apple Dumpling Recipe

Prepare pie crust for six dumplings and chill.

Buttery Flaky Pie Crust for 6 dumplings or a two-crust 9-inch pie

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chilled butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Cut in butter with two knives, or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms into a ball.  Sometimes I do have to add an extra tablespoon or two of water.
Wrap in plastic and chill for 1-2 hours.

When chilled pie dough is ready to roll out, prepare this syrup.

Cinnamon Simple Syrup

In a medium-sized saucepan prepare a syrup of:

1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
3 Tablespoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together and boil for three minutes.  Remove from heat and set a side.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a large rectangle about 1/8 inches thick and cut into six 7-inch squares.

Peel and core six medium-sized tart apples.  One for each dumpling.  Place in the center of each pie crust square.

In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Fill each apple core cavity with this sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Fold the pie dough over the apple bringing opposite corner points together on top of the apple.  Overlap the pie dough corners on top of the apple, moisten with water and seal. The dumpling should like a pastry wrapped apple present…and it is.

Carefully, lift each dumpling and place them in a 9 X 13 cake pan.  Be sure to leave a little space between each dumpling.

Pour hot syrup around the dumplings.

Bake at 425 degrees until the crust is nicely browned and apples are tender…about 40-45 minutes.  You can check apple tenderness using a toothpick.

Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with the cinnamon syrup from the pan.

This recipe can also be used for peaches.

Recipe: Oliver the Apple of My Eye and Frosted Apple Pie Bars

I am thoroughly enjoying raising a puppy.  Oliver is such a character and his daily antics bring joy, laughter and usually a big mess.  I just never know what the day will bring.

Oliver is a large German Shepherd puppy of fluff, muscle and mayhem who is now almost seven months old and weighs well over eighty pounds.

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Oliver learning to protect the yard with his mentor Truman.  Truman’s mentor Walter (deceased) taught Truman to patrol the yard perimeter when he was a pup. 

Oliver always wakes up at first light…literally.  On week days that is fine as my husband gets up early to go to work, but it would be nice if he would sleep in on weekends.  His morning routine usually begins in one of two ways…either sitting quietly beside my side of the bed staring at me until I wake up or trying his best to be good and stay quiet until my husband wakes up.

Oliver’s post-dawn quiet requires an extraordinary effort of puppy self control and usually ends up taking the form of either loud chewing on a bone, digging in his kennel or gently chewing on a shrill squeaky toy.

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Trying so very hard to be quiet and good. 

As soon as my husband awakes puppy petting commences and Oliver goes over.  Belly scratches are his favorite morning, noon and night. I have learned that his need for belly affection is an inherited trait passed from his mother to her offspring.  Then, too, belly scratches have be specifically approved by household management as a safe early morning activity for a puppy with a full bladder.

Oliver has been to puppy training classes and has the graduation certificates to prove it. He can sit, stay and come.  Oh, he can do a lot of things…when he wants to. There are still times when he forgets how much he has learned. Such as when he tries to chew on his people like they are fellow puppies or chew toys.  Out comes the lemon juice and a quick squirt on his tongue immediately reinstates his memory.  Getting juiced is something to be avoided by man or beast.

Magic dog words are important for both the owner and puppy to learn. Oliver’s magic words are treats and squirrel!  He really loves to chase squirrels, but seems to think they always run to the same tree when they never do. In addition to squirrels, he expends great effort chasing rabbits, birds and butterflies.  He scared the heck out of a large ferocious Monarch Butterfly just yesterday.  Oliver is a lightening fast chaser who never catches anything…with one exception.  Oliver has moved on from his earlier passion for bee chasing.

On occasion Oliver wakes up in a rip and tear mood.  The look on his face immediately gives him away and I know that his German Shepherd brain has shut off and the puppy brain has taken control.

                                German Shepherd brain day.                              Puppy brain day. 

A recent example of puppy brain includes a marigold massacre.

First he brought me the flowers, then he massacred them while Truman was napping and I was doing dishes.  Truman barked Oliver out for this display of terrier behavior. Truman continually tries to instill the concept that some German Shepherd decorum must be maintained.

Of course that just makes Truman a target. One of Oliver’s favorite games is to pester that huge 110 pound white German Shepherd while he is napping by purposely sniffing the inside of Truman’s ears, then smacking the old dog on the head with his huge bear-sized puppy paws. Surprisingly, this is not always as well tolerated by Truman.  Sometimes its best just to let nature take it course and accept, like with the bees, experience can be a great teacher. Eventually, Truman gives the pup a lesson in respecting one’s betters if not his elders.

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Truman the good and gorgeous! 

And, then, of course there was yesterday when Oliver confused his green tennis balls with my green tomatoes.

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I was rather proud of Oliver’s attention to detail and his work ethic. Must be the German in him. He picked all but two of my green tomatoes.

I must admit to sharing in his disappointment as I watched him test whether his shining green tomatoes would bounce on the patio.   Oh, the sadness on that puppy face! However, his melancholy was quickly abated by a new mission. Struck with instant inspiration after the tomato bounce test failed, he carried them off to be buried under the pine tree in the back of the yard.  Hole digging is cure all for almost any puppy life disappointment…well, except for neutering.

All that digging in the hard Centerville clay must have worked up quite an appetite for the lad, as he returned to the garden one last time to feast on the remaining ripe cherry tomatoes.

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Oliver was tired after his industrious morning and spent the rest of his day napping, eating, drinking, bird watching, squeaking his rubber chicken, squirrel and rabbit chasing, wrestling with Truman, splashing in the big metal water trough, playing fishing for puppies with mom and the garden hose and retrieving Frisbee.

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The very last thing Oliver did last night, when I was one the phone with my daughter, was he picked up his entire laundry basket of toys and dumped them out. Finding the toy he wanted, Oliver gently brought it to me. What a thoughtful sweetie!  He got lots of petting, a treat, and we played.  Oh, how I love my puppy.

He starts obedience classes again next week.

Green tomatoes look a lot like green apples when they are laying in the grass and what would the first day of September be without a great apple recipe.  This recipe for apple bars is outstanding for two reasons they taste like apple pie and they keep well.

Whether a great treat option for a school child’s lunchbox or as tasty snack on while working out on a treadmill these bars hold together and do not disappoint.

Frosted Apple Pie Bars


2-1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 egg yolks, plus enough milk to measure 2/3 cup

1 -1/2 cups of crumbled cornflakes cereal
10 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1-1/2  cups of sugar
1-1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 egg whites

1 cup of powdered sugar
3-4 teaspoons of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Cut in shortening. Stir in egg yolk mixture until dough forms.

Divide the dough into two pieces.  On a lightly floured surface roll out one piece of dough. It will be thin. Place into a 15 X 10 X 1-inch jelly roll baking sheet.

Sprinkle cornflakes over the dough. Spread apple slices evenly over the cornflakes.

In a small dish combine sugar and cinnamon.  Spread over the apples.

Roll out the other 1/2 of dough and place on top of apples. Pinch edges of the dough together like you would for a pie.

In small mixing bowl, beat egg whites together until frothy.  Spread over the crust.

Bake for one hour.  Remove from oven.

In small mixing bowl combine powdered sugar and water.  Drizzle the glaze over the hot crust.





















Update on My Dog Truman–No Cancer

Truman after surgery

After waiting for over a week, yesterday evening we received the news of Truman, our nine-year-old German Shepherd’s pathology results from the very large tumor that was removed from his abdomen a week ago Wednesday.  It was all very good news….there was no cancer.

He has another week to wear the cone of shame, then the stitches will come out.  I cannot believe that dog ran around with a tumor as large as a baseball in his stomach and never so much as limped, whined or cried.  What a guy!

I bet he will seem and feel like a new dog when he gets all healed up.

Thanks for your well-wishes during this time.