Category Archives: Ickey & Michelle

A Day of Hope

Our sweet old girl Michelle
Our sweet old girl Michelle

Today was a roller coaster of emotions.  In the morning, I found that Michelle had her tail tucked way under her belly. A bit unusual, but nothing too alarming.

After breakfast, I took Ickey and Michelle for a morning walk. Suddenly, Michelle begins swerving dramatically and walking like a drunken sailor. It’s hard for her to walk straight and her back legs look like they are giving out. We immediately head back home. Thankfully, Michelle’s legs hold out until we make it back safely. At home, she starts to have a very hard time getting up and her neck is noticeably tilted at an angle. Her left eye blinks rapidly and her whole posture just seems “off”. I know something is wrong, and start trying to piece everything together. I suspect she may have had a stroke.

Orderly and I take her in to the vet, and we both are terrified that  our time with our our sweet old girl is nearing the end. We both cry as we are expecting the worst.

As the vet enters the room and sees how distressed we are, I relay Michelle’s symptoms: inability to walk straight, then inability to stand and walk at all, head tilt, one eye rapidly blinking. After carefully examining Michelle, the vet diagnoses her with Idiopathic or “Old Dog” Vestibular Disease. The vestibular system is composed of portions of the brain and ear and is responsible for maintaining a sense of balance. When something goes wrong with this system, it’s like being drunk on a rocky boat. Dogs with idiopathic vestibular disease have some combination of the following signs:

  • A head tilt
  • An unsteady gait, loss of balance, or falling over
  • Circling in one direction
  • Eyes rapidly moving from side to side, known as nystagmus
  • Sudden vomiting

Michelle had three of the five symptoms. If the diagnosis is correct, Michelle’s symptoms should get better on their own within the next few days to 2 weeks. We are sent home with anti-nausea pills and advised to wait and see how her condition progresses. They don’t know exactly what causes “Old Dog” Vestibular Disease, but from my research online, it is not uncommon among older dogs. The good news is that while the syndrome looks very scary, it usually gets better all on its own. I am hopeful that this is truly what Michelle has as this would be the best case scenario, and wanted to share our experience should your dog exhibit these very alarming symptoms. As always, if you are every concerned about your pet, I recommend visiting (or at least calling) your vet’s office to discuss your situation.

In the meantime, we are using a long beach towel to support Michelle’s back legs as we help her outside to potty, stroking her soft fur as this appears to help her relax, and staying close to her side to let her know how very loved she is.

More information can be found here:

Sometimes it’s good to get lost

A Hidden Gem
A Hidden Gem
Chabot Regional Park
Chabot Regional Park
Ickey: Oh no, we're lost again, aren't we?
Ickey: Oh no, we’re lost again, aren’t we?
Beanpole: Hey, getting lost is pretty fun!
Beanpole: Hey, getting lost is pretty fun!

I am admittedly not the best driver, and constantly find myself getting lost. I found out today that it is indeed possible to get lost while being armed with both printed directions and a navigation system.

While intending to take Ickey on a relaxing evening hike at the Redwoods Regional Park, I somehow took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on one of those dreaded stretches of winding road that go on and on without any opportunity to make a U-turn. I felt myself getting more anxious the farther I drove along this road that led to who knew where. Finally, I spot a small outlet on the side of the road that I pull into. It turns out that it is a parking space to a lesser known entrance to the Chabot Regional Park.

Ickey and I jump out of the car, and go off exploring. To our delight, we discover lovely wild flowers and abundant greenery shaded among a canopy of tall, tall trees. The place feels even more special because we have it all to ourselves. We can hear a small stream running along the path, and feel patches of sunshine through the thicket of trees. After a stressful week, it feels like a breath of paradise.

If we hadn’t gotten lost (noticed how I wrote “we” as if Ickey was driving too), we’d never have found this special place.

Sometimes it takes getting lost to uncover unexpected treasures.

Another day in paradise

Each week, Ickey and Michelle will be sharing their adventures as they explore the vast array of natural wonders in their new hometown – the Bay Area.

Where there is grass, you will find them peeing on it.

Where there are open fields, you will find them running free.

Where there are parks, you will find them relaxing on the benches.

Where there is adventure to be had, you will find Ickey and Michelle.

Chillin' in Bay Farm Island
Chillin’ in Bay Farm Island

House Hunting

Ten years ago, Beanpole and I packed all of our worldly possessions, which fitted comfortably in our Honda Civic, and drove to Las Vegas, Nevada. We had neither family nor jobs in Las Vegas. But we both dreamt of owning a home with a yard where we would raise a Golden Retriever who we were going to name P-.

We are back in the bay area and it’s time to start looking for a new place to live.

Swing Set
Swing Set

We both want to live in a safe neighborhood with a nice playground where our son can play on the swings. Check.

Walking Path
Walking Path

We also wanted to live in a place that had double tree-lined walking paths so we could walk Ickey and Michelle. The walkway also has to be wide enough so if Michelle have mobility issues in the future, we can use our wagon. Check.

View of the Lake
View of the Lake

After living in the desert for so long, we wanted to find a place with some water. It’s not a necessity but it’s a big plus.

Ickey and Michelle Posing by the Bridge
Ickey and Michelle Posing by the Bridge

Unfortunately, Beanpole and I both realized why we left ten years ago. Housing is super expensive. Thankfully, the last ten years have been pretty good to us. Hopefully we can afford something in this area.

Wish us luck.

Mona Lisa Smile

We tend to celebrate youth and beauty, and fear wrinkles and old age.

I’ve noticed however, that as Michelle gets older, her lashes get longer and more lovely, her face gets whiter and softer, and her frailness makes her more endearing. Her beauty grows, not diminishes with time.

If she had laugh lines, they would measure how joyful this life has been.

If she had gray hairs, they would mark all the worries and obstacles she’s had in life and overcame.

If she had wrinkles, they would trace the journey of her life with each line telling a different story.

There is a definite beauty in getting older if only we viewed aging with wiser eyes.

Here is our lovely girl, going on 13, in all her loveliness and giving her Mona Lisa smile. =)

Michelle's mona lisa smile
Michelle’s mona lisa smile