Tag Archives: pushkin

day 3346: lessons on love and loyalty and letting go and, eventually, death.

day 3346: lessons on love and loyalty and letting go and, eventually, death.

when we got the blood results back a few days ago we knew we weren’t going to have much time with him. his vet said that telling when a dog was in pain is often difficult with his type of condition. even when they are in severe pain they’ll wag their tales and come when called and get excited to go for a walk ( even when they don’t have the stamina to walk far ). the best indication is when a dog stops doing the things they love to do.

we’ve known he’s been sick for the past 6 weeks, but very quickly over the past few weeks, pushkin has stopped doing the things he loved to do. he stopped eating anything except raw chicken thighs and even that was very slowly over the course of a day. he stopped sitting in his favorite chair. and most tellingly of all he stopped licking us. he’s always been an avid licker and notorious for sneaking in licks when you weren’t expecting it. “pushkin can’t control his licker” was familiar refrain around the house ( we always said it was because he was “grateful” for us rescuing him from the horrid abuse he suffered as a puppy ). but no more.

there’s lots that could be said about pushkin. pushkin was a great dog and a loving, constant companion. in probably 90% of the photos i’ve taken of odin over the past 5 years, pushkin is within 10 feet of the frame.

just one story about how kind and smart he was. never once did he try to eat or otherwise taunt our chickens. we told him when we first brought the chicks home that the chickens were not food AND HE UNDERSTOOD! he’d watch them run around in the yard and not give them a second thought. he’d even protect them like they were members of the family pack. he would give any cats that wandered into the yard a chase if he thought they were going to harm the chickens. he’d even come over and give me a furrowed brow if he wasn’t sure why i was laying in the grass taking pictures of them.

we did a few special things over the past week like going to the drive-in but the reality is that pushkin didn’t have much stamina or interest in doing much except laying near us in the house. we made our peace with the decision as it became clearer that it was the right thing to do. in the past few days he would even get up and walk away if we approached him, as if he was trying to tell us it was time.

we got up and made him a breakfast of bacon and odin and i took a last ride with him in the galaxie. typically, he would eagerly put his head out the window, but not this time. odin noticed that it was another thing that pushkin would normally do but didn’t do anymore.

“poppi, i’m sad, but i think it’s best for pushkin to put him to sleep. i dont want him to be in pain.”

“i think you’re right odin. i think you’re right.”

odin probably said it best. “poppi, i don’t understand. why did this happen to pushkin? he’s The Best and Most Kind Dog In The Whole World. it’s Just Not Right.”

after the ride, we came home made pushkin a breakfast of bacon and shortly after took him to the vet and put him to sleep.

odin has learned a lot of lessons this week. pets teach us about love and loyalty and letting go and, eventually, death. and most importantly of all to enjoy the time you spend with the ones you cherish on this planet because you never really know how much you have.

day 3339: odin and pushkin enjoy their first ( and maybe last ) drive-in movie.

day 3339: odin and pushkin enjoy their first ( and maybe last ) drive-in movie.

we’re lucky enough to have a drive-in theater nearby in richland center wisconsin and decided to take odin and pushkin to see turbo because, sadly, the theater might be closing soon.

at the end of 2013 films are no longer being distributed, well, on film. and it costs about $70,000 per screen to convert to digital projectors. the starlight website says they are going to start a fundraising campaign soon, but it seems a bit late in the game. next weekend is their last showing for the season and if they don’t raise the money they won’t open next year.

i hope they raise the money and we’ll certainly kick in some to help because it’s a whole lot of fun to lay on the ground on a blanket and catch a movie!

i thought the movie was funny and cute, but odin said he’s seen better 🙂

day 3339: odin and pushkin, the day after i almost put pushkin down.

day 3339: odin and pushkin, the day after i almost put pushkin down.

08.28.13 update: we got results back from his blood panel and it’s not good news. his blood platelet count is disastrously low and his white blood count is very high. our vets opinion is that he has fairly advanced cancer and we should put him down sooner rather than later. one of the possible cancers could lead to his slowly bleeding to death which is certainly not something we want to have happen. sad news. i guess we’ll have to put him down within days.


odin and pushkin have been best buddies since we brough pushkin home from the animal shelter and into our lives 7 years ago. there have been many “a boy and his dog” stories and moments over the years, some of which have been told, most of which haven’t. when odin wakes up in the morning pushkin is at the foot of his bed and when odin goes to bed pushkin is at the foot of his bed. they are inseperable companions.

pushkin came from the shelter with severe lyme disease and has had bouts of anaplasmosis over the years. every year or two he gets lethargic and doesn’t want to eat so we take him to the vet to get the lyme test and, sure enough, his bacterial loads are high so he gets a round of antibiotics and is all better until next time. in fact, the Dog Food Burrito Incident occurred the last time he had a flare-up. it’s been a familiar ( and annoying ) pattern cycle of lethargy, lack of interest in food, lyme and treatment.

around odin’s birthday, pushkin started puking everything he ate and stopped eating entirely. it felt a little different than the lyme cycle. he dropped 15 pounds. fast. we took him to the vet and his liver enzymes were high which could be from an infection ( or lots of other even less fun causes ) and he tested positive for anaplasmosis so we started him on a treatment of antibiotics with prednisone to help increase his appetite.

the treatment has sort-of worked. he’s been able to eat and keep most of it down. but he’s still lethargic and definitely not the old pushkin. but it’s been hard to know how much of that has been due to side effects from prednisone and recovering from anaplasmosis. this week we finally weaned him off the prednisone and were all really, really hoping to see our dear friend bounding about happy and healthy.

instead, he started puking up everything he ate and then stopped eating entirely.

having had dogs for most of my life, dealing with the decision to put a dog down is familiar and never easy ( over a decade ago i told the story of the day harper went to the vet and didn’t come back ). but when a dog isn’t eating, it’s probably close to time. i believe it’s infinitely more humane to decide to do it quickly because in the end whatever is causing the problem – most likely cancer – is not going to get fixed. if we had thousands of dollars laying around i’d give hundreds of kids access of clean water over giving a dog a few more months to live.

we came close to going to the vet and putting him down but couldn’t do it. not yet. there’s a small chance he’s not cleared of the infection, so we decided to do another blood panel and put him back on prednisone and wait for the results. the good news is that he’s eating and keeping food down.

we’ll enjoy each day with pushkin not knowing how many we have left. hopefully there are many.

a vignette of Life With The Girls and Pushkin.

a vignette of Life With The Girls and Pushkin. I.

and so, after moving 3 yards of dirt from one place to another i thought it’d be nice to take a rest on the lawn and say hello to The Girls who are normally a little wary of The Big Man, but are willing to abandon The Raspberry Patch to investigate when he has A Bit of Food.

a vignette of Life With The Girls and Pushkin. II.

being well-versed in The Way of The Chicken, i do believe they are thinking, “WHATCHADOING? WHATCHADOING? WHATCHADOING? GOTSOMEFOOD? GOTSOMEFOOD? GOTSOMEFOOD?”

a vignette of Life With The Girls and Pushkin. III.


a vignette of Life With The Girls and Pushkin. IV.

being The Great Defender of All Members of The Pack, pushkin decides it’s time to investigate The Situation.

without being too anthropomorphic, i recognize well the slight furrowing of his brow indicating Worry that Someone or Something May Be In Distress.

a vignette of Life With The Girls and Pushkin. V.

all is Right As Rain, though, with a good scratch behind the ears.

say hallo to odin’s new buddy, pushkin! and an answer to an obvious question.

say hallo to odin's new buddy, pushkin! and an answer to an obvious question.

odin has a favorite book called "three questions" which is a children’s adaptation of "three questions" by leo tolstoy. in the book, a boy named nikolai which has a dog named pushkin and lately odin been telling us that he’d like to have a dog named pushkin. so, after some deliberation we decided to grant his wish and went to a local animal shelter and collectively fell in love with a 1.5 year-old bernese mountain dog/labrador retriever mix who shall forevermore be called, not surprisingly, pushkin.

soon after getting home, pushkin, got a bath ( in process in this photo ) 🙂

without going into the details pushkin was severely abused as puppy by his first owner, but was loved by his second owner before he was taken to the shelter due to "lifestyle changes". he’s smart and obedient and loves getting big hugs from odin. we trust he’ll be a happy member of our family for a long, long time to come.

all this, of course, begs the question – where’s mauja? well, there’s no easy way to break the news but after living a decade, about the average lifespan for a large-breed alaskan malamute, mauja is now running around in doggie heaven, free of the pain of the hip dysplasia that afflicted him since he was 9 months old. the veterinary surgeon who operated on him when he was 9 months old said he would probably be lucky to live until he was 4 or 5 years old. we couldn’t feel more fortunate that mauja proved him wrong and provided us all with many years of happiness.

mauja passed away last spring and we decided to keep it private, not knowing quite how to convey the news to his legions of fans during what was obviously a difficult time for us.

so, join us in welcoming a new friend, while remembering fondly an old, dear one.

oh, while sir moo moo is somewhat indifferent to the newest member of the family, truck is a little more vocal in her unhappiness ( which is odd since she got along with mauja and pushkin doesn’t seem particularly interested in her ). hopefully cat and dog will be living in harmony soon 🙂