Monthly Archives: September 2011

Cora and the Long-Dead Bird

Yesterday, we had a beautiful morning here in Ajax and a busy day planned, so we decided to take the dogs for an extra-long morning walk. Weekend or weekday, Cora, our morning dog, wakes us sometime between 6:30 and 7:00, usually by whacking her tail against the carpeted floor, sneezing, shaking, and/or putting her front paws up on the bed and sticking her snout in my face or my husband’s. Saturday was no exception. We fed the dogs and set out on our walk before 7:30.

Don't let that innocent look fool you!

Our long walk was blessedly uneventful until we were within a kilometre of home, where Cora came upon a dead bird. We’d seen the flattened, dried-up bird on the sidewalk a few times in the previous week, and the dogs all had ignored it. Our guard eased, Cora seized her opportunity and in a motion quicker than almost any we’ve seen her make, she gobbled it up. She chomped maybe three times to our cries of “Drop it” and my husband attempting to fish around in her mouth for the carcass. She pretty much swallowed the little bird pancake whole.

The rest of the walk, we were filled with concern. Was the bird diseased? What had it died of? What bacteria might inhabit an animal dead so long? What would it do to our little Cora? Needless to say, we rushed straight home, eager to contact the vet to find out what action we should take.

Cora was her usual self—a slightly stinkier version, though. (I took to calling her “Birdbreath” the rest of the day.) When we get in from our walks, she wags her entire body in excitement. As much as she enjoys her walks (and she really does—she slows down significantly on the last stretch before our house and sometimes will even sit or lie down on a neighbour’s lawn), she loves getting home, too. So yesterday, she did the same excited wiggling, pushing her brothers out of the way when the drying towel came out (“Me first, me first!”) and hoping for one last walk treat (Rollover bits). She showed no signs of stomach upset or remorse.

What the Vet Said: It was 8:45 when we arrived home, and our vet clinic wasn’t yet open. I spent the 15 minutes of wait time surfing the Internet and reading mixed messages alternately causing me concern and easing my mind. Finally, once the clinic opened, we phoned. Shannon, a vet tech there, took the call. She has a hound, too, so she knows they’ll eat anything and everything. She told us at what point we should become concerned: if Cora began vomiting excessively. She said the unauthorized snack more or less equated a diet change. Feeding Cora a bland diet of rice for 24-48 hours—never easy at snack time with other dogs in the house—would help any stomach upset she might feel.

So our plans for the day changed. Wes and I were going to be dragon-boating as part of a fundraising initiative by TAGS, but we couldn’t both leave Cora in case she vomited; we didn’t want her consuming the bird twice. (It’s gross enough that she ate it once!) Since I’m the one who’s wanted to try dragon-boating for years, Wes sent me on my way and stayed home on vomit watch.

It’s now almost 33 hours later, and we’ve seen no signs of distress from Cora or her body (i.e., her poop looks fine :)), so tonight we’ll let her have a little bit of her regular food and tomorrow we’ll get her right back on her regular diet. Hounds!

Anybody else out there with tales of dogs eating worrisome stuff and what you did? I’d love to hear them! Please tell me about it in the Comments.


Picking Up More History at Paddle for Paws

The novice dragon boaters setting out--all for the dogs!

Today The Animal Guardian Society (TAGS) hosted a dragon-boating fundraising event. It was a blast! Scott and Garrett of Alkame spent an hour and a half teaching us how to dragon-boat, and then we split up into two teams and did a 250 m race. Our team didn’t win, but we had a whole lot of fun—and the best part is that we helped raise money for TAGS! Wes (my husband) was supposed to attend, too, but this morning Cora ate a dead bird (more about that later), so he had to stay home on vomit-watch.

After the dragon-boating, however, he brought Cora, Dusty, and Hogan to the TAGS post-event barbecue at a park just a short distance from the marina. There were a few other dogs there—Winnie, Lucy (I think), and Eddy (a Havanese who’s up for adoption from TAGS)—so we weren’t sure how Hogan would do, but he did really well! Eddy didn’t approach him in the right way (he approached him face to face instead of from the side), so Hogan snarled at him, but it was just a short snarl, and then it was gone; Hogan sniffed Eddy, and all was fine. It was a relief to see, because on our walks, Hogan’s often shown a “Let me at ‘im” attitude (he is a terrier, after all). After today, I feel much more comfortable with the idea of bringing Hogan to events with us. And Kathy from TAGS has encouraged us to enroll Hogan in her obedience class, so we’re starting that on October 8—yay!

Dusty, of course, was fine with everyone, human or canine. He had fun playing with Eddy and Winnie (or was it Lucy?) and enjoyed seeing his foster mom, Louise, again. Louise told me a story about how in that very park, Dusty was nearly attacked twice by an owl, who had swooped down toward him. As always, Dusty had his nose to the ground, so he was oblivious to the ornery owl. Louise rushed him off to her car and brought him home, safe and sound and never the wiser.

Cora was cautious today, as always, but she did really well, too. She came to some people when they called her and was petted by many without showing nearly as much reserve as in the past. It’s always good to see her pushing beyond her comfort zone even if only a little bit.

Also at the barbecue, we spent some time talking to Sue, the person who picked up both Dusty and Cora (at separate times) after they were rescued from Kentucky. She was able to give us more history about both dogs. Dusty was actually born in the pound. His mother was dropped off there and gave birth there. All of Dusty’s siblings were adopted out, but Dusty remained. He was there for eight months or so, and then TAGS rescued him before his time was up. Sue also told us some pounds in Kentucky have “doggy drop boxes” (similar to a library book drop box), and that’s how Cora ended up in the pound. Either someone had found her and brought her there, or her previous owner had decided to do away with her and dropped her there. The pound put her on the “euthanize” list. Fortunately, TAGS stepped in and brought her to Canada. And the rest is history.

So, it’s been a great day! We helped a wonderful organization raise money for saving more dogs; I learned how to dragon-boat; we discovered more about Cora’s and Dusty’s histories; Hogan interacted nicely with other dogs; and so far, Cora’s foray into eating wild poultry has proven harmless. Other than my suffering some sore muscles (a good sore, though), today deserves an all-round two thumbs up!

A Brief Dose of Cute

I don’t have time for a full blog post at the moment, but I thought I’d offer a little dose of cuteness in the form of pictures.

Hogan likes small spaces. He wedged himself between the chair back and the cushion and begged for a belly rub.

Cora chewing a Nylabone!


Hogan and Dusty were fast friends. I took this picture the day after we adopted Hogan.

Cora and Dusty waiting for breakfast (before I started making the yummy homemade stuff).

This is how Dusty likes to sleep--we're not really sure how he manages to keep breathing!

A Dog by Any Other Name…

One thing about rescued dogs is that they often come with names. In the last couple of years before Roxie died, I would occasionally brainstorm names for “the next dog.” I hated the thought of losing Roxie, but I knew it was coming (and expected it sooner than it happened). Thinking up dog names was, in a way, consolation. She couldn’t be replaced, but there would eventually be another dog I would come to love. That thought was better than the emptiness I knew would dominate the interim.


When we met Cora, she’d had her new name for only two weeks. We probably could have easily renamed her (Penelope, I’d thought when I met her). But who knows how many names poor Cora had already had. She was getting a new home, new people, a new brother. The least we could do was leave her with the name she was already recognizing as her own. So Cora it would be.


We don’t know how long Dusty has had his name. (TAGS people, do any of you know?) He didn’t seem to know it very well, although we now figure that was stubbornness rather than stupidity. He answers to it when it suits him to do so. When we first got Dusty, we tried calling him Barney. He really looks like a Barney. Every time I called him Barney, though, I laughed because of the image Barney painted in my head—which really does suit Dusty. But in the end, Dusty was the name we’d already gotten used to, so it’s what stuck. Wes occasionally calls him Dyson, though, since he’s so intent on picking up everything.

Hogan nee Gohan, our little Mexican

Hogan had been called Gohan in Mexico, and as far as we know, that’s the only name he had before. When they brought him to Canada, RTRC transposed the G and the H and renamed him Hogan. In the beginning, we occasionally called him Gohan (it’s got a certain ring to it), but he has always responded better to Hogan, so we think that’s the name he prefers.

So although I spent years coming up with girl and boy dog names, I have three dogs and didn’t end up naming any of them. And as it turns out, that’s perfectly okay.

(P.S. Pedigree is still trying to reach its goal of $150,000 to help rehome unwanted dogs. Click here, watch a one-minute video, and Pedigree will donate $1. Easy-peasy!)

Cora’s Tumours

In July, I discovered that Cora had a lump under one of her nipples. When I brought her to the vet to have her examined, more lumps in her chest and belly were discovered. We booked her in for surgery. I also bought a book that gave me information about what to feed a dog with cancer. I learned not to feed her pork, so pigs’ ears came off the snack menu, and I started to put flax seed oil in all the dogs’ food at dinnertime. (There are many other diet recommendations for dogs with cancer, plus a whole lot of other fantastic information, at

Cora came out of surgery really well. Dr. Steele seemed surprised by how active and alert she was in her crate. (He thinks her age to be closer to eight, whereas other vets estimated her, based on her teeth, to be five. We’ve decided to treat her as seven because she has a tattoo in her ear that says “04” that I suspect might be the year she was born.) When I picked Cora up from the vet, she was excited to see me but a little disoriented. I’d brought her some food since she hadn’t eaten since the night before, and she gobbled it up happily in the car. Then she slept all the way home.

Cora in her t-shirt

Cora’s brothers were happy to see her and took great joy in sniffing her after what they probably deemed her adventurous day out. We kept a t-shirt on Cora for the two weeks between her surgery and her stitches coming out so that she, Dusty, and Hogan couldn’t lick her sutures.

For a week, we were on pins and needles waiting to hear the results of her biopsies. In the meantime, I read a lot about mammary tumours and learned that 50% of canine breast cancers are eliminated just with the removal of the tumours, so I held on to the hope that even if one of the tumours was malignant, Cora would be fine. Her biggest tumour was still not all that big, so that also gave us hope.

And then the call from the vet clinic came. Cora didn’t have cancer! All of her tumours (four were removed) were benign.

Cora’s hair has all grown back in now, and she looks as good as new. She’s more energetic than we’ve ever seen her and is such a happy dog (when she’s not overthinking things). Now that she’s been given a clean bill of health, we’re hopeful that we’ll have many years of showing her just how good life can be.

(P.S. Yay for Trupanion Pet Insurance!)