It’s hard for me to believe, but not everyone who reads my site has been reading it diligently since it was born in 2009, and therefore is not deeply knowledgeable about the minute details of say, life with Stella over the last five years. For those of you who require a little background, sometime in October of 2010 a brown and white mutt was born, and in January of 2011 she would be adopted by two unsuspecting humans in Olympia, WA.
When we brought her home she was fluffy, adorable, everything *I* wanted in a puppy (let the records show, Adam did NOT want a second dog, and he continues to remind me of this anytime I curse another of Stella’s medical issues or behavioral quirks). By the end of the weekend I was at the vet to understand why our new puppy appeared to be leaking urine awake or asleep. After being checked for a UTI and finding nothing we were told that there could be a variety of issues wrong with her, none of them were good, none of them were cheap to fix, and since we’d only had her for a weekend we should just cut our losses and put her down. I held her, I looked down at this face and I decided I would not give up on our newest family member.
We would not get to the bottom of Stella’s leaking issue until she was about a year and a half. It took so many vet visits I can’t even begin to tell you what we’ve spent, but finally our amazing vet in Anchorage – who in her free time volunteered for the Iditarod (how cool is she?) – realized Stella had diabetes insipidus. We were given a pill to administer twice a day, and eye drops twice a day, and the leaking was finally controlled. I felt like a fucking super hero. I hadn’t given up on Stella, and we’d made it.
Meanwhile as we tried to solve the carpeting destroying mystery, Stella also went on to develop the following issues:
- Anxiety, about everything
- Hip Dysplasia
- Fear of Hard Flooring – Also known as the point where our home began accumulating ALL THE RUGS EVER to give Stella mobility pathways through the house
- Cataract in her Left Eye
While still in Alaska we took Stella to see the ONE animal eye doctor in the entire state, who was about 100 years old, actually lived in Seattle, and only came to Anchorage for about three days once every six weeks. This is a small example of what it’s like to live in the Great White North. We did surgery to remove the cataract, and for a while Stella was like a new dog. Some of her anxiety went away and she just seemed happier. Then we moved to Chicagoland and got new vets, and new routines, and we just didn’t get her on the every 6 month eye checkups she was supposed to get and shit went south.
In the first two years in Chicagoland Stella realized that thunder storms are trying to kill her. And yes, we tried a Thunder Shirt, those pheromone collars, and low dose anxiety meds, it all doesn’t work. The best part about her response to thunder is that she’ll be laying there all normal, the thunder will crack, and she’ll just let her whole bowels go. SUCH A FUN PARTY TRICK! This reaction has worsened the longer we’ve lived here. It’s amazing.
Earlier this year I was concerned that her diabetes medication dosage wasn’t correct anymore, we’d been seeing accidents around the house, and things just didn’t add up. So we went to a new specialist who checked Stella and declared that as far as her diabetes was concerned, she was fine. Then, since I was just feeling in a vet mood, I booked an appointment finally with an eye doctor just to make sure everything was a-ok. Here we found that things post Stella’s cataract surgery (nearly 2 years earlier) were far from ok. Her retina had detached, she had no vision in the eye we’d worked so hard to save, she never would see out of it, and on top of it all she had developed glaucoma in the eye and was in tremendous pain. She was living with a migraine every day of her life for who knows how long. I received this news and sobbed. Why couldn’t I keep this dog healthy?
Since our discovery earlier this year we’ve been to the eye doctor probably 8+ times, and to keep her glaucoma in check Stella receives four different eye medications, THREE TIMES A DAY. There are so many different medications in so many different combinations Adam made an actual chart that is on our fridge because two college educated individuals couldn’t keep it straight. The only good news is that all this work we’ve done to manage her eye is working. At the vet yesterday her levels look good, she’s not in any pain, and in a couple months when we go back again for a level check we can talk with the doctor about potentially putting in a prosthetic eye because honestly, we’re spending a lot of time and a lot of money for an eye she can’t see out of. And with a baby coming in January, it seems silly to administer this much medication for a non-working eye. So, most likely Stella will become a bionic dog by the end of the year. #itneverends
The crazy thing, for any of you still reading, is that we’re not done. You guys, WE ARE NOT DONE TALKING ABOUT STELLA ISSUES. You see, they say dogs react to the change in hormones when you get pregnant. Oly? Oly could give a shit about this baby I’m growing. Adam is still her favorite. But Stella? Stella is not pleased. How do we know she’s not a fan? Why because a couple months ago our perfectly house trained dog began eating her morning breakfast, and then walking into the living room to poop on the carpet. Pee? We’ve been dealing with pee related issues with Stella for years! But poop? She was potty trained super fast, poop has never been our problem.
All of a sudden Stella has become incapable of being left unsupervised. In the morning one of us takes the dogs downstairs to let them out, feeds them like normal, and then sits at the dinning room table while Stella eats. Then, she comes upstairs with us to our bedroom while we get ready. When we’re done getting ready she comes back downstairs and is let out to go to the bathroom. If this procedure is not followed she WILL poop in the living room. And she will NOT tell you she needs to go. YOU GUYS THERE’S MORE! Suddenly she doesn’t like if I am the one doing the breakfast routine. I’m mean, or scary, or judging her? So my dog who’s always loved food more than life itself will receive food in her bowl from me, and then lay on her bed and look at me. She will not eat breakfast anymore in my presence. Adam is fine, me, I’m growing the devil. Even better, she’s pooped after eating dinner when I walked upstairs to get something for 5 minutes, and she’s attempted to do it while we’ve been standing in the kitchen looking right at her. She’s defiantly pooping in my house, and I’m going to kill her. While Adam was in Nevada for a 12 day vacation (11 days too long when you’re pregnant) Stella pooped or peed deliberately in the house 6 of the 12 days. One morning I locked myself in the baby’s room and cried for 20 minutes.
This is all to say that I never knew when I adopted that brown and white fur ball what I was getting myself into. I still don’t regret defying the vet when she said we should put Stella down, but holy hell if that lady wasn’t right about the hoops we would spend her life jumping through. There are days when I curse getting a second dog, for being impulsive and thinking “Oly needed a friend”, but then I have days where I burst with love for her. Watching Stella in the snow is one of the happiest sights you can see. Ever. There isn’t a dog on this planet who exudes more joy than Stella does playing in fresh snow. When we took Stella to Lake Michigan for the first time she spent the whole time jumping in waves and eating sand, and Adam and I almost peed our pants. A few weekends ago in Michigan when she thought lily pads were solid and walked right off the dock into the lake we thought we’d die of laughter. She’s quirky and stupid and innocent and dull as rocks and you can’t help but love her.
She makes me want to kill her some days, she makes me cry with frustration or with sadness, but she also makes us laugh and smile and chuckle, and we’d never do the things we do for her if we didn’t love that she’s a member of our family.
I don’t know how you managed it, but five years later we still love ya Stella / Turd Ferguson / Turd Burglar / Stelly-Belly / Shit Head / Stella-Bella / Stelly / Bean / Beaner / Stelly-Bean.