Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rico and Belle

In the long running saga of canine companions that have passed through my life I am ready to talk about Belle and Rico. As you know if you've read earlier posts, Butch left me the same day as my beloved husband, so they could share the trip across the Rainbow Bridge as the great friends they were and join Butch's former owner, our dear friend John Pope who had gone before them. Jim's sweet dog Sadie existed for another three years but her spirit pretty much died with them. That is why I say existed--she wasn't really living anymore but just going through the motions. Yes, dogs do grieve!

Here on the right is Rico a couple of months after I adopted him. Another close up I really like appears next, on the left.

In January 2004 I was looking for a new dog in hopes of lifting Sadie--and to some degree myself -- out of the lonely depths of our shared grief. I've always been partial to the herding breeds so had put out the word I hoped to find an Australian Shepherd. A friend of a friend who was involved in rescue efforts in Sierra Vista, AZ heard about a stray taken in by a lady down at nearby Hereford. She raised German Shepherds and had no good place for a young male Aussie. Sadie and I went down to see him, in my car at the time, a Buick Century. Sadie was not too enchanted but not growly so we ended up taking the young dog with us. The lady and her daughter were calling him Oreo for he was black and white but I shook my head at that!

When we lived north of Sacramento in California's central valley some friends had a feed lot, ranch and rice farm. They had Aussies and Heelers (though at the time I really did not know that Australian Shepherds and Australian Cattle Dogs, commonly known as Queensland or Blue/Red Heelers were two separate breeds. Anyway they had a red merle Aussie named Charlie Brown and a Blue Heeler named Henry. Allana, who you met here a few posts back, had a love affair with Henry though both were fixed. He was less enamored of her but they hunted together and were great rat-killers. There was a big rat problem up there around Yuba City. We liked Henry although he was a bit of a rascal!

Anyway my new dog reminded me a bit of Henry so he became Enrico, which is Spanish/Italian for Henry and soon Rico for short. He was a handsome guy, mostly black but with a ruff and collar of blue merle and white specks on his legs. Big for an Aussie, he weighed about 65 pounds when full grown. He was about twenty months old when I got him. I had him neutered at once as I do any pet that is not. He was wilful but always kind to Sadie and although she did not bond with him as she had Butch they traveled with me a lot and I think his companionship did help her. It certainly helped me!

Finally in November 2006 Sadie crossed the Rainbow Bridge to join her beloved master and canine friend and Rico and I were left alone. I really like to have two dogs so I began to look early in 2007--for another Aussie. By then I had done a lot of research on the breeds and knew Aussies were not Heelers and vice-versa. Through Arizona Aussie Rescue, I was led to a young female who had been abandoned and fostered at the opposite corner of the state in Kingman. I fell in love with her picture --on the left --and met the foster family half way at Glendale, AZ on Feb 11, 2007 to pick her up. She's blue merle with copper and a beautiful, dainty little girl. They told me her name was Belle and that fit just fine. I had got a crate and put her in it in the back of the little Focus wagon I had inherited when my baby brother passed away suddenly in September 2005. I was taking no chances with trouble on the highway while she and Rico got acquainted. He rode in the back seat and 'talked' to her a bit.

I soon saw Belle had a problem--her little muzzle was ulcerated so badly that tissue had eroded and it was crusted but bled off and on. I took her to my vet the second day and she was diagnosed with discoid lupus--probably the reason the back yard breeder who had her --according to the story I was given--had just dumped her. She would have to have meds for the rest of her life--a steroid to suppress her immune system since this is an autoimmune disorder. Something else to research but that was okay. I was committed to Belle and would give her a forever home regardless. I know a lot about that disease now and have managed to keep her in semi-remission for a long time and a low dose of the drug which does have some ugly side effects and may contribute to some problems she has now.

However trouble gradually developed in paradise. Most of the time Rico and Belle got along fine but.... They had a bad fight about two weeks after I got her. Trying to separate them I got bitten badly on my left hand by Rico--ouch. I had never had a serious bite before but that was a doozy. Put Belle in the crate, Rico in another room in the house and drove myself to the ER for stitches, my hand wrapped in a towel to soak up most of the flowing blood! I hoped that had settled things and for awhile it did. All was well for some time but then another fight and another. They became more frequent and scarier not to mention vet bills to patch up both dogs....

Looking back I know Rico was jealous and they could not decide between them who was top dog since they were about the same age. Males and females do not often fight but if they do, look out. Belle was not aggressive but once fighting she would go to the death and nearly did a time or two. After some bad scares and pretty steep vet bills, I began to keep them apart and knew I would have to do something. I determined Rico would have to go because Belle's health issue made her a harder placement and I had sworn to keep her. So after a few weeks Rico went to an older lady who lived alone on a small farm near Patagonia, Arizona. She took to him and he took to the little Jack Russel -Heeler mix she had who was not enough watch dogs to keep transients out of her yard. Rico could look and act very fierce!! I have not gone back to see him although I sometimes wish I could but from what I have learned, he has had a good life there. He was a good dog and I loved him so I  pray that is true. Belle and I have gone on alone since then.

Between the summer of 2008 and today I have moved four times and gone through a lot of changes in my life, but she has stayed at my side. I have done the best I can to keep her healthy, weaned her down to a very low dose of prednisone and now as she gets older, will do my best to make her last years or months or days as secure and comfortable as possible. More on that another time and on the other dogs in the household we now share with my brother and his fur-kids. And finally here is Belle, just the other day. She is 10 1/2 or more now but still a pretty girl and she knows momma loves her to pieces. The little pink and scarred nose is just her badge of honor and perhaps marks the reason she came into my life.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Deirdre!
    You should have heard my gasp when I read you had once lived north of Sacramento! I live in Elk Grove, south of Sacto. I loved hearing about Rico and Bella's story. They do touch our lives in such a special way, that I can't ever imagine how I would have lived without my own special animals. Thank you again...for sharing a bit of yourself on Tartan Ink today. I feel as if we are truly "kin."
    Mary Morgan