Friday, June 6, 2008

Abbey - The Best Dog Ever

Abbey in Florida for the winter of 2007-08

On Tuesday morning, May 27th, the unthinkable happened. Abbey, our Yorkie and constant companion since 2004, passed away suddenly. She had been in excellent health, had seen her vet in April when we were in Colorado, and had no known health issues.

The previous Friday night, she had trouble sleeping. Every 15 seconds or so, she would jump up, turn a half circle, then lie down again. No yelping or whining - she was just fidgety. As she had never displayed this type of behavior before, we took her to a local vet in Newport, WA, on Saturday. After a thorough examination, he could find nothing wrong. He gave us some medication for her in case she displayed further symptoms, and we went home. We had a dinner social at the clubhouse that evening. Donna went back to the rig early, as she didn't want to leave Abbey alone. Abbey lied on her, and her breathing seemed labored. About 11:00pm, we headed off to bed, and she seemed to be feeling better.

On Sunday and Monday, Abbey was back to her old self. No breathing problems, and her activity level was normal. The three of us went for a few walks, and she even went for a bike ride with me. Monday, during the night, she became restless again. She was not fidgety like the previous Friday night, but she just couldn't seem to get comfortable.

At about 7:45am, I took her out to the living room, and closed the bedroom door, so that Donna could sleep in a bit. She seemed OK, and lied in my lap resting. Suddenly, at 8:30am, she sat up, and wanted to be put down. I set her on the floor, she walked around for a few seconds, then yelped and collapsed. Donna rushed in as I picked her up - and then she was gone.

Over the next two days, we called our vet in Colorado, and Donna carefully went over all of the symptoms and behavior that Abbey had been displaying. Doctor Kathy then consulted references, and spoke to her husband, who used to be an EMT. The breathing problems, coupled with the discomfort, and the sudden seizure are consistent with a blood clot - first in the lungs, then moving to the brain. Rare in dogs, there is no way for a vet to diagnose this with any certainty, and no treatment could be prescribed even if a clot had been diagnosed.

Abbey was destined to be with us. After our Shih-Tzu, Sasha, passed in 2004, we began looking for another dog. I was traveling a lot with work, and Donna wanted a companion to keep her company while I was away. We had decided on a Yorkie, and began looking at breeders. In Colorado, the waiting list from a breeder was at least a year out. We found a website, (Yorkshire Terrier Club of America), and began looking a breeders in other states. We had acquired our first 5th wheel, and had planned a month-long vacation that would take us through many of the western states and Canada. Donna began talking to a breeder in Livermore, CA, who also took in rescues. Donna had already decided that our new dog's name would be Abbey. The breeder mentioned that she had a young female, who had been brought to her by a family with 4 kids under the age of seven. She had renamed her Abbey. Donna knew at that instant that this was to be our dog. A few weeks later we visited the breeder, and saw this 11 month old, 3-1/2 pound puppy, running happily around in the breeders back yard. It was instant love!

Is that Tillamook cheese you're cutting?

Cuddling with Mom in Atlanta

Cuddling with me in Colorado

Donna often referred to Abbey as a person in a dog-suit. Although she couldn't talk, she could communicate to us very clearly what she wanted. Abbey was a cuddler - and a lap dog (unless it was hot!). She was also very social, and got along well with all people, all dogs, and even some cats. If you met her you knew - she had a personality that was better than many people! Abbey just couldn't figure out squirrels - those were on her list of things to bark at. She loved walks and bike rides with me.

Getting ready for a bike ride

It has been very difficult for us to accept Abbey's passing. She would have been 5 years old on August 1, and Yorkies typically live until around 15 years. She was with us before we made the decision to full-time RV, and was a big part of the reason we committed to this lifestyle. We celebrate her life every day, and relive the joy she brought to us. Rest well, our Abbey.

Service with a Smile

We arrived at Country Coach in Junction City, quickly claiming spot #3 in their RV park (OK, it's a parking lot with hookups). Typically they are at a premium, but I had called ahead, and they reserved me a spot. We had forgotten how close they are to the local RR tracks. Because of the congested nature of the city, and the proximity of the tracks to the center of town, the engineers will blow their horns all the way through town. And it seems most of the trains travel through from late afternoon to about 7:00 am the next morning!

Country Coach worked through our list, leaving one big ticket item, the cracked windshield, until the second week. They sent us down to A-1 Glass in Eugene for the replacement. When the installers put the new glass in, they shook their heads and said there was a problem - the opening was not square. That, in turn, caused the glass to hit in 2 spots, which is why the glass got the stress cracks. We spent the night at A-1 (they had hookups), then A-1 drove the rig back to Country Coach with the new windshield temporarily glued in. After several meetings, CC discovered that there was a cross member in the front cap, which is fiberglass, that was about 1-1/2" too long. It protruded to the side of the end cap, pushing the whole assembly out of square. A hacksaw took care of it, and the cap squared up. Hopefully that is the end of that problem! Three windshields in 7 months is about 2 too many! All of our major items were resolved, including the windshield, the AquaHot electric heating element, awning problems, and the transfer switch buzzing. The transfer switch had been having problems for some time, causing the inverter to trip, or just buzzing so loudly that it was terribly annoying.

We spent 2 weeks at Country Coach, and most of our list was resolved. We have our 1 year appointment already set up for September, so whatever is left will be resolved at that time. During our stay, we met a lot of nice CC owners. Some we will see again at the Homecoming Rally in August, some hopefully on the road somewhere! Little Abbey met lots of dogs, including 2 Shih-Tzu's named Max and Jessie.

We needed to have Cummins check the settings on the engine, as it still didn't sound quite right, so on Monday, May 19, we headed over to Coburg. A tech had been lined up for us by CC, so we didn't have to wait long until work started. Of course, things happened, and the rig's computer ended up having to be completely reprogrammed. After that, we were off to Usk, WA, for the summer.

Of course, with all services now "complete", things immediately started happening again - a new list was born. The temperature gauge went wacky, reading hotter than normal. I called the tech at Cummins, who checked with Country Coach. Supposedly there is a recall on the gauges, and his updating the engine settings caused it to give erroneous data. Also, we heard audible beeping noises emanating from the dash area. Sounded like our turn indicator beeping like it was on steroids. Quite annoying, but we discovered that if we turned our heads just the right way, the sound would almost go away...

We arrived at Usk the following day, and settled in for what we thought would be a nice, quiet, relaxing summer.