Sheltie Tales - Part One
Here are five beautiful Sheltie stories from around the world. In part one, we meet Coco, Sandy, Tessie, Sadie, and Dusty.
Coco's Diary - August
August 23 - Rainy day. When we left the park it started raining. Mummy had an umbrella but I was outside of it. But then the rain got heavier so mummy carried me. Some people were laughing at us but I was comfortable.
August 24 - Mummy took me to the park to see Katy the Sheltie puppy. She was very lively and as soon as she saw me she ran to me and tried to play with me. Mummy told me to be gentle but I couldn't. I snapped at her a few times because she kept coming back to me and at last I snapped at her quite badly... after this she didn't come to me. I was not very good girl in the park today and felt a bit guilty. But mummy put my favorite toys in my bed with me so I can have a nap now... with a peaceful mind.
August 25 - In the park I played with the Frisbee with mummy and I enjoyed it very much. I strolled in the park, looked for pigeons and squirrels, had a bit of rest and got very gentle pat from a couple. When mummy and I were about to leave the park mummy saw Katy and her mummy coming. I wanted to go home but mummy told me to say hello. I tried to be nice but when it got too much I snapped at Katy again and she cried... mummy told me off. There were more doggies in the park by this time and I snapped at a few doggies while we were walking with Katy. Mummy said "Nobody likes you if you are like that." Mummy is cruel isn't she... Still I know mummy loves me because she stroked me a lot and kissed my head when we left the park.
August 26 - I didn't want to go to the park today because I thought mummy might tell me off again. But mummy came to my room and told me to get ready for walkies. Mummy said I would enjoy the park today but I couldn't believe her. I really didn't want to go... But anyway mummy took me there so I tried to be a good girl and followed mummy like doing heel walk.
In the park I found Bailey so I went to him to say hello. And then I saw Heimish so I said hello to him as well and we walked together. While I was walking with Heimish, I saw Daisy, Oscar, Toddy and an old doggie I had met on the street. I said hello to everyone and had a nice chat about weather, plans for Bank holiday and all that. I chased pigeons too!!
August 27 - It was wet this morning so I stayed inside and updated my Facebook page. Let's have a look... Woof!! I've got 177 friends, Daddy!!
Daddy only has a few friends and mummy doesn't even have Facebook page, does she? Maybe I should teach mummy how to do this and then mummy and daddy might get me a new laptop for my Christmas present. Hmmm... but I want a new Nylabone too. I wonder if they will give me both... do I have to choose???
August 28 - My daddy wasn't working today so he took me and mummy to Virginia Water, I like it there as I am allowed to enter the shop & the terrace of the cafe. Why do so many places ban dogs? My mummy and daddy said that they would like to live in France or Spain where they could take me to many more places.
August 31 - I went shopping with mummy to get my dog food. The man in the shop gave me a biscuit but I didn't like it. Mummy said it was rude of me but he gave me a better one and it was yummy. Sometimes people give me treats but I always have tasty treat such as homemade lambs liver cake so normal ones are so bland for me...
After shopping I spent a bit of time in the garden. What a lovely day it was! The air smelt so fresh!! I found a toilet roll this morning so I got it!! Tearing that paper always makes me feel very excited.
Our Sandy Sunshine by David and Debbie Cochener
Sandy was 10 years old when she came to bless our family. Her gait was sprightly and so was her spirit.
If left to her own devices she could drag the toilet paper from the roll through the entire house—or until the paper tore, whichever came first. If the roll was empty, she would munch on the edges of the extra rolls kept in a basket.
Packing a sandwich for lunch took extra precautions because she could find a sandwich in your purse or briefcase in seconds.
Fresh bread was her passion and more than once she managed to get a fresh baguette from the bakery down from the kitchen counter and devour it all by herself. You would think with a passion for bread that she would have a weight problem but she always seemed to know that if she had an overly large snack (ie loaf of bread) that she would need to eat less at the next meal to keep her svelte figure.
Unlike many Shelties, Sandy never knew a stranger. During the holiday season she looked forward to the deliveries from the UPS because while her sister Belle would bark and try to be ferocious, Sandy knew the delivery man always took time to reach over the gate and pet her head. She would welcome anyone at anytime, loving to be stroked and petted and being allowed to snuffle your face. She would gently snuffle your entire face almost as though she was memorizing details. I can still close my eyes and remember the sensation of being "seen" with Sandy's nose.
Sandy loved life to the fullest for 15 years 2 months and 3 days. Blinded by cataracts, she struggled with the pain of arthritis and the difficulties of seizures near the end. However, none of the difficulties of aging affected her sweet temperament and loving ways. Why was she our Sandy Sunshine? Because not only did she adore laying in a sunny patch in the yard, even when she had to be carried there, but because she filled our lives with sunshine every day.
As the song says, Sandy: "You are our sunshine, our only sunshine. You make us happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear how much we miss you. Please don't take our sunshine away."
Our Tribute to Tessie by Jennifer Sanders
My partner Noel and I took his daughters to visit a dog rescue shelter, as we wanted to show the girls what happened to abandoned dogs and to teach them that a pet is for life. The lady who ran the shelter introduced us to all of her dogs—big and small—and then went inside briefly. She came out with a sad, sick little dog, who had all of her fur shaven off and her ears had been cut off. She had also been starved and was around half of what a Sheltie should weigh.
The shelter owner placed her on the ground and this beautiful little girl walked sedately (she was a lady after all) over to me and gave me a big cuddle and smile. She then did the same to my younger step-daughter, Chloe. We decided there and then that she was coming home with us, but had to wait until she had been desexed and checked over by a vet. Chloe sobbed as we drove away and left her behind.
A week later, the vet told me that she had a heart condition. She also had kennel cough and a respiratory infection and if she was going to make it through, she would need a lot of care for the first few weeks. He could not tell us how old she was—anywhere between 6 and 10 years old was the estimate, as her teeth were in such bad condition due to the malnourishment and mistreatment she had suffered.
We brought her home anyway and she spent the first three weeks sleeping almost constantly. We fed her tiny little meals frequently, wiped her nose constantly and gave her lots of cuddles and she slowly got better.
For the next two-and-a-half years, Tess was my constant shadow—wanting nothing more than to be with me. We realised she was an old dog—she had no night vision and was slowly going blind as well as deaf, but she was the most loving and beautiful little person I have ever met.
She thought the whole world was her best friend and loved everyone and everything that she met—except the cat next door!
Sadly in January 2010, after an extended hot period, Tessie's heart gave out. Noel came home to find her lying still, but crying out for him just outside our back door. We sent our beautiful girl to the rainbow bridge, knowing that she had been a happy girl—at least at the end of her life.
In March 2010, we met Johnny the Sheltie and brought him home with us shortly afterwards.
He turned one at the end of November and is truly a delight. His favourite games are fetch, tug and gotcha-paw. It's amazing how many traits they have in common.
We still miss Tessie every day and I think I always will, but Johnny is a wonderful little man in his own right and we just love him to bits.
Sadie's Battle with FCE by Melissa Smith
We fell in love with Sadie the moment we saw her. She was the smallest pup and the only Sable in a predominantly Bi-Black / Tri-Color litter. With her full white collar and feisty personality, we knew we'd found our girl. We'd later learn that she was born the day we'd gotten married, which just seemed right.
Our beautiful girl grew up fast. She had the most beautiful coat and presence; people were constantly drawn to her. Close friends often joked that she was the Farrah Fawcett of the dog world but sadly she was too tall to show. She had the most wonderful temperament to go with her beauty. Easy going, great with other dogs, eager to learn, loyal, loving and a great sense of humor. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect girl. Sadie was very athletic and did some agility and fly-ball training, which she excelled at. She loved our weekly hikes and her greatest joy was chasing a tennis ball, something she would do tirelessly.
Tragedy struck our happy family in mid July, 2010, shortly before Sadie's third birthday. Had I ever dreamed that such a thing could happen, it would have been my worst nightmare.
Sadie was running at the park across the street from our house, playing with Ginny, her Sheltie sister and two other dog friends. They were all chasing a ball and running at full tilt, like they'd done hundreds of times.
I'll never forget that moment for as long as I live. Sadie suddenly let out a heart wrenching scream. Her pelvis seemed to suddenly collapse under her and suddenly she was rolling, screaming all the while. As she rolled and I ran to her, all I could think was "Something is REALLY wrong."
When I reached her she was panic stricken. As I tried to calm down I realized that her legs weren't working. The front ones were sticking out straight, like they were in spasm, yet they weren't stiff to the touch and could bend. Her neck looked equally stiff and she seemed unable to move it. Her back legs were limp.
When I tried to stand her up her right leg moved but would not support her weight and her left leg didn't move at all, appearing completely dead. Thankfully, she did not act as though she was in pain any longer.
We rushed Sadie to the emergency vet and later our regular vet, who both believed that she had one of two things, neither good.
One possibility was a slipped disk, which happens when a vertebra in the back calcifies and puts pressure on the spinal cord. This seemed unlikely as this is usually a very painful condition and Sadie appeared to have no pain.
The other possibility (and both vets agreed) was more likely FCE (Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy), or a spinal stroke.
Whichever condition it was, would likely leave her with some degree of paralysis for the rest of her life.
A $2,200+ MRI was just not a possibility for us financially so instead our vet ran blood work and took x-rays, which came back normal. Our vet's prognosis was that Sadie had likely suffered from an FCE, but we'd never know for sure. Our vet began giving Sadie large doses of prednisone and a pain killer to calm her nerves.
Over the course of two days our vet notified us that Sadie was showing some improvement, but was vague as to how much. I was told that if we were lucky she might walk again, but she'd likely never be the same. We were devastated; our only comfort was that she didn't appear incontinent, which is common.
The time came to bring Sadie home, so I was forced to pull myself together. A good friend pointed out that Sadie would need me to be strong and positive while I helped her to recover.
When the vet put Sadie on the floor and she slowly walk toward me, I just about burst into tears. She was wobbly but I was so relieved that she was able to walk on her own that it didn't matter. The vet recommended strict crate rest with the exception of potty breaks and swimming, a rule that we would bend slightly. We also continued with the prednisone.
When we got home it was immediately apparent that Sadie was NOT taking this lying down. She would NOT tolerate being carried around and groaned at us whenever we tried. She did, however, take quickly to the walking support and rubber boots we bought for her, understanding instantly that they would help her to walk. She was accepting of being crated but refused to lie down except to sleep at night. She took her time when out on potty breaks, quietly walking around on her wobbly legs. I began allowing her to walk around outside more and more often, as she always remained quiet and seemed to enjoy it so much.
Over the course of a few weeks we saw a remarkable change in Sadie. She went from having 20-25% use of her back legs to having 80-85%. As her legs became stronger her determination also grew. She became more coordinated and began trotting around like her old self. I was forced to keep a close eye on her so that she didn't try running off after a squirrel or dog or attempt climbing stairs. While I worried she might get hurt I was also relieved to see her making such good progress.
Sadie found that she LOVED swimming, something she hadn't been too crazy about in the past. She realized it was the only activity she could do endlessly that also allowed her to chase a ball. It gave her the freedom she craved, which she no longer had on land.
We also visited a vet who specializes in pet rehabilitation for advice. She too believed that Sadie likely suffered from an FCE and was making a better recovery than most dogs. She was so pleased with Sadie's progress that she said the only rehab Sadie required would be continued swimming and home exercises. We were also told it was possible that Sadie would make a full recovery. We were so relieved that Sadie's ordeal finally seemed to be coming to and end and we could re turn to some semblance of normal life. Sadie had finally beaten FCE.
These few months were a roller coaster of emotions that I wouldn't wish on anyone. It like living a nightmare you didn't realize you'd had.
Since her incident Sadie has reached about 90-95% use of her back legs, with her left back leg being worse than the right. To the naked eye she walks like a normal dog but is still a bit wobbly and drags her back feet when she's tired.
I'd never previously heard of FCE and it isn't typically listed on breed websites as something Shelties may be predisposed to. My hope is that other Sheltie owners won't be as caught off guard as we were, that they will read this story and not only be aware that FCE CAN occur, but have hope that their Sheltie COULD potentially make a reasonable recovery.
Dusty Our Singing Shetland Sheepdog by Debbie Robillard
We lost our beloved Dusty, our nine-year-old Blue Merle Sheltie, to Meningitis in August 2010. He lived with hip dysplasia in both hips and was on meds most of his life but never complained.
He had the Sheltie singing trait and sang to me every day when I would come home. He even sang on the way home the day he had his hip surgery... it was amazing.
Dusty had his surgery in February 2010 and went to water treadmill therapy for about four months. Up until the day before we had him put to rest he actually met me at the door limping on that leg and smiling for me.
It was the hardest decision I think we ever had to make but his organs started shutting down due to the steroids and all the meds and he wasn't going to recover. I talked to him all the way to the vets and he looked into my eyes as if to say "I understand and it is ok, I am ready to go Mom". I am tearing up as I write this and miss him so much it breaks my heart.
We do have a beautiful girl Chelsey who is nine and she was Dusty's best friend. She grieved for a while and we decided to get her a new companion. His name is Jake and he is eight months old and full of energy and has brought new life into her. They play constantly and he has been wonderful for her and of course us.
We can never replace our Dusty and we do love our other Shelties so much. He would be pleased to see his friend Chelsey playing again. Once a Sheltie owner, always a Sheltie owner.