|Updated March. 2017
We had been talking for a couple of years of eventually
adopting a semi-working dog to protect the chickens and just hang out
around the property. Last year ,when some of our chickens got taken by
a fox and a weasel, this became
a bigger priority. We had thought it would be nice if we got something
we MIGHT be able to turn into a herding dog, provided we could learn to
train it. So we focused on the idea of something along the lines of a
Border Collie or some cross thereof.
Well, family friends offered my father a BC and
an Australian Shepherd from their first litter of working dogs. When
Dad said he didn't want another dog, they offered one to us if there
were enough, as they had a list potentially longer than the likely
litter. In May of 2004, when some had
backed out, we got called over to check out the tiny pups and pick one
out from three that hadn't been fully claimed yet (there were five all
together, not everyone had picked theirs yet). Sadly for us they had
docked the tails to make them more like Australian Shepherds already,
we would NEVER have chosen this to be done. The other two were female
and red merle, the one male was pure black like the BC mother. We
choose him for several reasons...we like black dogs here, we figured
that Irony would be more accepting of another male coming into the pack
than yet another female (although she accepted Scolaighe well enough),
this was a chance to get another male while we have Bran as the pup
will be too small to kill him and
will be used to him by the time he's big enough, and males are, after
all, cheaper to get fixed. After all, at that age it's a little hard to
judge on personality.
We feel a bit weird about getting a puppy, being
hard-core dog adopters and spay/neuter advocates. But he was a
we were told a buyer, not of the original list, was interested in him
if we didn't take him...but the breeders didn't really want to sell to
that person...who was being insistent, apparently. We figured we'd
still be giving him a sure good forever home, even if he wasn't in a
bad spot, he might end up in one if we didn't take him.
So we have now Gleann ("valley," see, we were
going to name him Beinn or "mountain" because we live on one but
decided two dogs with names starting with "b" and ending with "n"
might be confusing for them...so we went with where he came from...we
wanted something really simple for the folks, although most people seem
to want to read it as Glee-an. *sigh*).
At first we though Scolaighe showed prey interest
but it turned out she has "aunty" tendencies, wanting to play and fuss
over him. Irony was ill, so we were afraid this might stress her, but
she dealt with him here very well. Bran wanted to play, but again, that
also had to wait until Gleann was closer to his size.
We had a fun teething stage, which lasted a
very long time it seemed. He's shown some herding interest. He's
showing himself more willful than the "puppy testing" showed before.
But I think he's going to make a nice addition to the pack.
Due to his willfulness, we did take
him to a Basic Obedience class and as the youngest there he still did
Gleann continued to be a handful for awhile,
however. As he matured, he has become an excellent dog, very snuggling
inside, very adventurous outside. Scolaighe had
a great deal to do with
that, undoubtedly, becoming his pack "aunty" and happily playing with
him. Often very
rough, but no dogs were hurt in the making of this photo. When she
became ill, she stopped playing with him like this. It seemed to make
him sad, but he adjusted and was very lovey and caring to her. Her
recent loss has been devestating to him as was teh previuos loss of his
much less aggressive buddy Bran. He
did have “rlaith to help hin through.
Wow, once again, I can't believe how long it's been. I update on the Facebook
page and never get to here. And, unfortunately, on several
fundraisers for the dogs.
the start of 2017 has been hell when it comes to our
pack. We lost Sachairi in February
of 2016 and in April started a health crisis
with Gleann and GrŠinne, with Gleann coming
through while we lost GrŠinne to cancer March 2, 2017.
And here I haven't even talked about Gleann since before we adopted Cý and “rlaith, let alone
Sach, Meadhran and GrŠinne.
Gleann tried to bond with “rlaith like he did with Scolaighe, but she
was not inclined to wrestle. He seemed a bit intimidated by Cý,
who could get cranky. However, Cý was intimidated by “rlaith so
everyone stayed in check.
With Sachairi joining us, Gleann finally had another "farm dog" to romp
loose in the woods fields with. Sachairi was older and smaller, but for
most of the time he was with us, his energy level was typically
BC/Aussie high. They both watched over the animals, as much as we
let them (outside is supervised time, even for the farm
dogs). But Gleann has always been our key Ritual Dog, while
Sach often found the whole thing odd except for the sharing food part.
Gleann, however, loves ritual. Looking back we remember that at
first ritual, as a puppy, he
just ran and ran in a deiseal circle
around the fire for most of the time we were on site. Over
time he calmed down and then became "on duty." He now patrols the
area before ritual and keeps watch, he does the border offering with me
and at the end of the ritual, while I deal with letting the fire die
and Aaron takes the other dogs home along with the first load of gear
(someday we do hope to have locked, waterproof storage up there but
have failed to figure out anything secure enough for our peace of mind)
to the house, he usually sits against my back. Sometimes, now, he'll
lie amongst the graves of our Shadow Pack, who I know join our
rituals. When the fire is out and it's time to head back home, it
is often difficult to get him to leave.
is such a perfect dog now that it's difficult to remember that at one
point we were worried he'd never pay attention. It took a lot of
work to become more interesting than things he might seek out on his
own. Now he a Velcro dog with a huge vocabulary (including some
spellings). He is very high energy when he's out playing,
even now as he approaches 13, but
is as relaxed as a Greyhound when
inside. He loves to snuggle as much as he loves going out into
the woods for adventures or running through the field or playing,
although it's debatable if anything matches ritual. He does also
still try to herd the animals, sometimes, usually only when they are
somewhere he knows is "wrong." The goat,
however, usually counters him vehemently.
As I noted above, 2016 and the beginning of 2017 have been rough ones
for us and for Gleann. The loss of Sachairi
was a blow for both Gleann and GrŠinne, we
were all just adjusting to the loss when in April we took these two and
the cat to
their annual checkups. Due to Gleann turning 12 and showing signs
of slowing down as well as the puzzling
symptoms that GrŠinne had been showing that were not yet diagnosed, we
had full blood work done on both. Both came back with terrifying
results. GrŠinne had leukemia and Gleann was hypercalcemic.
This all came as a major blow and we entered a rather extreme roller
coaster of a year.
life threatening condition was a puzzle as there could have been any
number of causes of excessive calcium. He had to have more tests
at Peak Veterinary Referral Services
to try to determine the cause and find a treatment. We had to do
a lot of fundraising and scrimping just to get the exact diagnosis.
Finally, a nodule was found on his parathyroid and we were given two
options. To have it chemically destroyed which was iffy as to the
results or to have surgery to remove the parathyroid. We opted
for the surgery.
With the help of a friend we did an auction of Sarah Connor/Terminator
items., along with more fundraising We finally were able to do
the surgery. Which led to a completely surreal day with everything
going along as expected when suddenly the surgeon came back and decide
we should postpone because Gleann wasn't sick enough. After all, he
didn't have the symptoms that usually bring dogs to this diagnosis and
surgery, because it was found early
by a blood test. While 15 minutes before the surgeon was noting
that it was good his levels weren't as high as he usually saw with
this, because that might mean he's level off and not be hypocalcemic
after the surgery, he now felt they were too low. On the one
hand, we kept noting that Gleann was lethargic, that he was eating even less (he's never been a
big eater) and lost a lot of weight, that
we were seeing symptoms but this was ignored. On the other hand
we didn't want to push too much, we were scare
d of having our "baby" get surgery if it wasn't needed. We opted
for an abdominal ultrasound that day which showed bladder stones! So,
there, a major symptom. Yet it was so late in the evening that we
took him home still rather confused as to what happened (we still do
A few days later we rescheduled for both the removal of the parathyroid
and removal of the stones from his bladder. The surgery went
great. We had several sad, nervous days here while Gleann was at the
hospital, calling checking on him. He had nervous days there, not
eating much although he did get to like one of his nurses.
GrŠinne, still hurting from losing Sach was beside herself until he
came home. Once home he recovered quickly, started getting his
appetite back as much as he ever had one. Energy-wise the
difference was amazing, we had our puppy back! The lethargic old dog, which many would
just assume was due to the fact he was 12, was completely a symptom!
We monitored his calcium levels, which leveled off quickly. If it
weren't for the memory of the months of lethargy and the shaved areas
that are still growing out it is like nothing ever happened to him.
During this time he also developed another odd, but unrelated symptom.
His head began to atrophy. It was on both sides, his eyes not able to
close right (and he already has an autoimmune issue with his eyes,
which make them become irritated and runny). We got him Doggles
(the brand name) for running through the woods to protect his
eyes. He looks adorable but we have to admit he hates them
and will face plant into plants and the ground to try to get them
off. This seemed of little concern to any of the doctors.
Eventually all the muscle on one side came back and much of it did on
the other. He can close his eyes now, but there is still an
"indentation" on the left side where the muscle hasn't come back.
Gleann is about to turn 13. He has out lived six Greyhounds and another
farm dog (all adopted later in their lives, but adopting "special
needs" Greyhounds may account for a shorter average lifespan here, but
we'll likely pick another hard case when we are ready again). He
is now experiencing being an only dog for the very first time in his
nd it's hard on him. It's always been hard for him to lose his beloved
packmates. He does have his cat, who he is utterly mad about, but
the relationship is different although they are both clearly mourning.
Contents and design, except
where noted otherwise below, copyright © 2004 -2017 Saigh Kym
and Aaron Miller
Background modified from a graphic from the World of Celtic Art
Clipart from Clipart Castle