Cooper spaniel, sable cocker spaniel puppy / www.perfectcockerspaniel.com

Pup goes travelling

And so off we went on an adventure. It was Coop’s first proper trip in a car from one end of the country to the other. Of course, I could count in his very first journey back home in an opposite direction, but he was tiny and very much asleep the entire time, so that would not really count.

Honestly, I was nervous. Cooper is usually very good in a car but the longest drive we’ve ever had so far would last for about 2 hours if not less. This time we had to travel for at least 3 1/2.

On the day I made sure that he had his breakfast early enough and at least 2 hours before the journey. Then we took him to his favourite place where the boy happily sprinted around the fields and wood for good 40 minutes and most definitely emptied his systems as nature required.

We then returned home. Coop had a wash and blow-dry with me while Simon prepared his place in the car with a soft blanket and my Coops favourite pillow. I also had plenty of water, some kitchen towels and a plastic bag by the seat, just in case.

And despite all my worries, the boy did good! He fidgeted in the beginning mainly because we headed in a completely different direction and he wanted to admire the scenery. Eventually, though, the run and the recent blow-dry won over and he fell asleep for most of the journey, which, frustratingly, took us over 4 hours.

When we finally arrived, the cottage was also new to everyone, but Cooper was brilliant. He still demanded to be let out into the garden, slept in his bed (most of the time) and never lost his appetite. Compared to Oscar who passionately hated all homes but his own, it was such a relief!

Next morning brought yet another little adventure as we all went to explore the villages. At first, Cooper sprinted through the streets in a manner of a mad rocket, but then calmed down and elegantly bounced back to the car like the most obedient cocker spaniel out there.

And then he fell asleep again and hardly ever woke up as we headed back home. I think the only time he would pop his head up was the street lights – the rest of the journey was, as they say, plain sailing.

I think he enjoyed it, though found it rather tiring as he spend the next day napping in our  his bed on my his favourite pillow.

Oscar

Last year it was raining the night before it happened. The rain was so heavy… I stood there in front of my window pressing my face against the cold glass, watching the wind throwing water all over the world. Somehow I knew that Oscar was not coming back.

It was the night before he was gone. Everything happened so fast it felt surreal – and still does at times. We had a beautiful, wonderful, sweetest dog who smiled at me on Wednesday evening as we went for a walk. On Thursday he refused to go outside.

But then it was Oscar, the boy who would refuse to go for a walk if it rained too hard or he simply was not in the mood. We stayed in. I was reading a book about Mariuccia Mandelli, and Oscar was watching the grey world from the comfort of my bed.

In the afternoon the lazy dusty sun came out and we ventured into the garden for some fresh air. Oddly, he asked me to stay there for a while. I lifted him up in my arms and he just looked around over the fences, at the trees and the sky. He seemed at no rush to go back in… Almost as if he was saying Good bye. He looked tired. I brought some blankets and pillows and we sat in a middle of the garden, my little dog and I. “Are you alright, little one?” I kept asking him. “Please, be ok, I can’t live without you…”

The night came, but I couldn’t sleep. Something simply wasn’t right any more. In the morning we went to the garden as usual. The boy went to do his business. His urine was orange, bright orange. I rushed over, looked into his eyes – the whites were yellow. Everything started to spin.

I picked up the phone, called the vet and ask if they could see us immediately. “Liver, liver, liver, liver, something is wrong with his liver…” was pulsating in my brain. Yet, I knew if it was just that I could deal with it, he could deal with it, everything could be fixed.

The vet didn’t say much. She took some blood samples and suggested that we leave the boy at the surgery overnight. I hesitated. It would be the very first night we’d have to be apart since the moment he came to be with us almost seven years ago. We were never apart. Never. I wouldn’t be able to cope. And neither would he. But she insisted and I had to agree, but only after being assured that my baby will be under constant supervision, now – and overnight.

I came home, cooked him some turkey – he loved turkey – picked some of his favourite things, a blanket, and went back to the surgery. As I stood there waiting for the nurse to collect everything, the receptionist cheerfully told me that, in fact, nobody is watching the animals overnight. I felt sick. Left everything, walked out on autopilot, doing my best not to burst into tears or scream, called Simon and said that we will be transferring Oscar to the private vet surgery regardless of what our vet thinks or says. He agreed straight away.

I called the hospital, arranged the transfer, then phone the vets who were not particularly pleased with our decision but had no choice.

At 6PM we came back for the boy. Oscar walked out, a bit wobbly, but wagging his tale. In the car, instead of resting on his favourite pillow, he sat up and looked out of the window into the darkness. And then he exhaled… For a moment there, the odour was so strong and bitter that we could not breath and had to open the windows. Something was happening to his body, something seriously horrible…

As we arrived, the vet promptly took us to the room, collected the samples and said that they’d have the results back within a couple of hours. She was so confident and so calm, I felt reassured. They allowed me to walk with Oscar to the ward – dogs only, plenty of nurses – I hated leaving him alone, but I knew he would be in safe hands.

It was yet another sleepless night, the night of secret hopes, not knowing and lots and lots of google searching. I wanted some answers and I wanted him to be back home and be happy again.

On Saturday morning they called us with the news. Oscar was diagnosed with immune mediated haemolytic anaemia, a condition so rare it affects one dog in thousands and is very difficult to study. We had no idea what it was. We went back. He was waiting for us. Walked over, looked into my eyes, wagged his tail. He still knew who we were… I sat on the floor next to him while the doctor explained to us what the condition really was – right now Oscar’s immune system was attacking his own red blood cells and destroying them. Apparently, cocker spaniels are one of the breeds “at risk” and unless it happens there is no way of knowing whether or not they carry that gene or enzyme or whatever causes it.

He was already on several drugs – steroids, cancer therapy, something else… They wanted to xRay him, but it was impossible. He was so weak and the damage was happening so fast, the boy would not survive it.

We were told that his PCV goes up to at least 20 we have a chance, 20% chance, but it was enough. All we could do is to go back home and wait for the next 24 hours. And then the storm came and I knew, I just knew, that was it, the end.

I called the surgery next morning, but was so destroyed I could not speak and sat there sobbing. The doctor came to the phone and spoke to Simon. “So this is it,” he said and the ground moved… I remember sliding down the wall onto the stairs and crying.

They asked us to come at mid-day and make a decision. Overnight Oscar’s PCV dropped down to 10… We drove there thinking that he’d still come out, wobbly, tired, sick, but would come out and see us. Instead, he was not even aware of us any more. Simon could not look. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. All I could do is holding my baby…

The vet hated it as much as we did. He brought us blankets and a few cushions for comfort. Then – a bunch of text books about the condition. He said we could try a blood transfusion, but chances are, the boy would not even make it through and if he did, the condition would return in a few weeks, worse and more troublesome for him. He added that we could try the drugs, too. 6 months of hard drug therapy. “Is he going to be himself during this time?” I asked him astonished at the amount of chemicals that Oscar would have to deal with. “Unlikely. He is going to be on a lot of medication.” was the answer. Then he added that regardless of what we do, our baby would not last for longer than six months. Because haemolytic anaemia is a heartless bitch of a disease.

We had to make a decision. We did not want him to suffer any longer. The doctor said that once the drug gets into the blood, it will take a few minutes for it to work until Oscar finally falls asleep.

We sat on the floor with him… Crying and stroking his little beautiful head. He was fading away… And then the doctor came and everything was over within a couple of seconds – our baby’s body was too exhausted to carry on any longer.

And then the world stopped. Became the empty hole. I suddenly knew exactly how it felt to have a broken heart. He was my baby. We made plans for travelling and living. We had so many wonderful years. He was the most loving faithful little dog to dream of. And he was never ill. Never. To lose him like that, within two days, was unfair. So f’cking unfair. He didn’t deserve that. We didn’t deserve it.

And we miss him so much… He made those years worth living.

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st valentine's day gifts for dogs and puppies / luxury presents for dogs / www.perfectcockerspaniel.com

We Love | My Sweet Valentine

St Valentine’s Day is coming up. Normally I’d just say something along the line of “yeah, right” because on a human level I don’t do Valentine’s Day. I think that love is worth celebrating as it happens, every day and one should never wait until 14 February in order to say something special or suddenly rush out and buy a present – the latter simply does not work for me. On the human level.

Dogs, on the other hand, are a completely different matter. It’s nice to spoil them with yet another toy or special treats. In some way it actually is the most perfect day to celebrate St. Valentines – us, humans, spoiling a special pooch and feeling our hearts going all soft and marshmallowy. “And they call it puppy lo-ooove… Oh, I guess, they’ll never knooooow…”

I don’t know what I am going to get Cooper just yet, but here’s a list of the most perfect gifts that have LOVE written all over them, whether literally or through the way they were made.

First of all, the obvious. No, not blinding pink thing! No way. I am talking Teddy Bears. Because nothing says “I Love You” better than the cutest, sweetest toy.

Besides I am absolutely in love with these two. Aren’t they adorable?!

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Tommy is a part of the Max Bone family and Albert lives at Maison Le Lou. I want them both. I would not even mind having them for myself. Now you know you are dealing with dog lover slash teddy bear addict. And I am not even ashamed to admit it.

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The present is chosen, it’s time to accessories. I am thinking a scarlet red velvet bow tie from Max Bone for the “lover boy” (available from Max Bone) and His and Hers luxury dog collars from Maison Le Lou because the colours, leather and gold plated finish are simply irresistible! Can my boy pull off a raspberry pink? Oh, yes! It takes a real boy to do that and mine is definitely the one for the job!

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Now, the life comforts. The Cloud 7 bed makes a luxurious love nest for the most demanding pooches. I have a feeling sleeping in the Cloud 7 is the sure way to cloud nine and enjoying the permanent state la vie en rose.

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And of course, we need treats! I love Mungo & Maud love heart biscuits. And a beautiful ceramic Mia Cara jar to store them in. Because beautiful objects make the food taste particularly good.

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Last, but not least, the little happy objects that can a) turn the pup into the sweetest cupid and messenger, b) put a smile on anyone’s face including my (and your) own, c) be a toy that lasts for months to come.

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I am talking about a jumper from Duke Loves Fergie Valentine’s collection, a witty Growlee tag, Planet Dog Heart Orbie and, oh yes, Hiro+Wolf heart-shaped poop bag holder – a little piece of hand made luxury for every style-conscious dog parent out there.

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Photo source: Rupert Fawcett Off the Leash, Max Bone, MiaCara, Duke Loves Fergie, Maison Le Lou, GrowlmamaHiro+Wolf & Planet Dog

Cooper, sable cocker spaniel puppy / www.perfectcockerspaniel.com

11 months & sailing smoothly

We are almost a year old. I find it hard to believe, to be honest. It feels really odd because I still remember picking Cooper up – Joanna bringing him out in a manner of a Lion King scene, me holding him for the very first time, too emotional to notice anything or anyone else and Coop – first fiercely nibbling on my sleeve and then – staring at the sun in owe as if he saw it for the very first time.

All in the past now. The boy is a junior. A very handsome junior. So beautiful in fact that at times we feel inadequate next to him.

Those last few months have been wonderful. Longer nights, more cuddles, no vets, all smiles and long walks. His coat is becoming more and more stunning  – a fluffy, silky melange of caramel and toffee. Yes, Coop is simply… delicious! And I am lucky to be his mummy.

There have not been many changes in food or training lately, but since he is almost 12 months old, I have started looking for a perfect adult food replacement as well as a grown-up collar and lead set.

I am still planning to cook half of his meals myself and use kibble along side as well, so I have been reading and re-reading my canine nutrition books and scouting the web for natural dogs foods. Right now, the most perfect recipe is made by Burns and is Burns Alert Chicken . The ideal formula for cockers even through they might have not realised it. I think if they did, the company could have started their own line of breed specific dog foods.

I did look at the other brands, too, but they are either created by people who are not qualified canine nutritionists or vets, contain yucca or garlic (or both!), too high in protein or completely grain-free. I’ve also came across two brands that refused to put the exact ingredients on their label referring to them as “herbs”, “vegetable mix” or similar. When I contact them about the actual herbs or vegetables saying that my dog is allergic to certain ingredients, they responded with “it’s a trademark secret”… No words. They’d rather put some dogs at risk than disclose the full ingredients list.

On the other hand, Burns, when I emailed them, were an absolute delight! They always responded with plenty of advice, answered every question I had including details they would not even put on a bag label (because I am an absolute pain when it comes to information!) as it is not exactly essential. I just hope Cooper will love my choice.

As I am typing this, the boy is sleeping next to me and it is an absolute joy. It feels that life is slowly getting back to its happy state.