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Loss of a Beloved Pet

This past week has been a rough one for the Underdog’s Family. We lost our own very beloved furry friend Prim this week due to complications from a sudden seizure. It’s been a rough week for us all and we miss her very dearly.

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A fuzzy Prim just after she was groomed.

Prim came to us via a family friend about two years ago. She was an older gal estimated somewhere around 10-12 years of age. She was a special needs dog who, due to a severe eye infection when she was rescued, had to have both of her eyes removed. She was also mostly deaf. But her nose worked well and so did her tail and she loved to go on great sniffing fests searching for kibble or exploring out in the backyard. You can read about her story here in our two part blog on special needs dogs: and

While we only had her for two years, and knew her time with us was likely to be shorter than had we adopted a younger dog, the hurt after her passing was just as strong as if we had cared for her throughout her entire life. You know when you adopt an older dog that they will not get to be with you as long as if you had adopted a new puppy or spry youngster. But old dogs are so appreciative of the basic kindnesses in life. Prim had a very rough life before she got to us. And we were able to provide for her the last three years of her life with good food, good treats and mountains of love. And that’s the best part about rescuing.

I don’t often re-share stories from the internet, but the one below really touched my heart strings given the recent loss of dear Prim. I do strongly feel that we can learn a lot from our faithful friends. So hug your fur friends for us and be thankful that they are apart of your lives. <3 <3 <3


Here’s the surprising answer of a 6 year old child.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that dogs’ lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.”

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

• When your loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
• Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
• Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
• Take naps.
• Stretch before rising.
• Run, romp, and play daily.
• Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
• Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
• On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
• On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
• When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
• Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
• Be faithful.
• Never pretend to be something you’re not.
• If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
• When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

That’s the secret of happiness that we can learn from a good dog.

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Special Needs Dogs

Two of my good friends recently had their first baby (yay!). In addition to this little ball of adorable, they also have a few fluffy four-legged kids too. Now if two dogs, a cat and newborn sounds like a handful, their dogs, Violet and Prim, are also both special needs dogs. Both dogs are blind. To help decrease a bit of stress (and hopefully increase sleep) I’ve been watching Prim for two weeks now.

Prim was originally rescued from Missouri. While playing at the park a couple watched a car drive up, set little Prim on the ground and drive away. When the soon-to-be-rescuer got up to little Prim, the could see both of her eyes were completely destroyed. One was severely infected and the other was barely even connected anymore, plus she had a severe case of mange (a skin disease) which had made her lose most of her hair. The rescuer immediately scooped her up and took her to a local rescue. In order to save her life, Prim suddenly lost both her eyes and became blind.

Much like people, each dog handles disabilities different. Violet, their other blind adoption, is like a bull in a china shop. She doesn’t let her disability slow her down in the least. She knows all the key things blind dogs need to know: “step-up”/”step-down” (for navigating stairs), “careful” (for avoiding obstacles), how to give into lead pressure (to be guided via gentle pressure on the leash) and a few bonus behaviors like sit and shake. When at the dog park, she takes off after whatever smell hits her first and will wander for hours chasing scents.

Prim is different. Prim is more cautious. She freezes when she is put into a new place. And it takes here a good week or so to have the courage to explore a new area. She startles easily and has difficulty navigating around. She resists giving into any sort of lead pressure and thus has been unable to be walked. After a follow up vet appointment to help treat the mange, my friends and the vets also determined she’s mostly deaf too.

So what can we do for this adorable fluff?

Prim in Bed
Prim in Bed

In our last blog, we talked about enrichment and a few things you can do to make sure your dog/s are getting the stimulation and activity they need too. But what about little Prim?  She’s lost lost two key senses: sight and hearing. Sounds like it’s time to get creative!

First, we need to focus on key sense Prim has that does work. Smell is the strongest sense a dog has. It’s somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than ours, which is statistic I can’t even begin to fathom. Taste also is closely tied to smell and as Prim munches down her dog food with as much vigor as a small fluff can, I can tell you that sense works very well too. 🙂

At work, I started taking a single USA made <<chicken strips>> and tearing it into the smallest pieces I possibly can. I’m talking like 1/3 of a dime in size here. And then I sprinkle them all over the floor. Believe it or not, Prim tracks down Every Single One. And it takes her about 20-30 minutes to consume what was originally a two bite chicken strip. Her tail wags like crazy the entire time. We’ve taken a simple boring two second activity, and turned it into a brain engaging, stimulating quest for chicken bits!

The second thing we can do is change her environment to make it more accommodating to her disability. While Prim was visiting I set her up with a little den in the living room. I put a uniquely textured rug (the only one of its kind in the house) in front of it and every single time I brought her into the house from somewhere I would place her here in the same exactly orientation. This serves two purposes, it allows her to identify where she is at, and marks her “entrance” to her little cave. The den also provides protection on three sides so she can feel safe & secure inside it. I also put a small diffuser above the crate with some lavender scent. This way, she knows the strong smell of lavender = her house.

Prim in Den
Prim in Den

The last thing we started working on was beginning preparations for a walk. In the last few days she’s started to explore the house and sometimes ends up in different places when it was time for dinner. I’d prep her food and set it above her crate then head off to go find Prim. I’d put my hands under her front arm pits (where a harness would rest) and gently encourage her to walk forward. When she did, she gets lots of high pitch praise (the one thing she can sorta here) and some good butt scratches. When we, finally, made it back to her doggie den, she’d be jackpotted with an entire bowl of delicious dinner!

The one major thing I did struggle with was how to wake Prim up. She’s a VERY heavy sleeper and not even high pitch sounds would wake her from her snoring slumber. I tried tapping on the ground, even stomping heavily as I would walk up to her but even that would only sometimes wake her up. And oftentimes she’d show stress signals at being startled awake, like a lip lick. Finally as I laid on the ground outside her den wracking my brain… Prim just woke up, tail thumping against the back of the crate. I was super confused. Can you guess what I did?

I breathed on her. And again, her noses KNOWS it was me and woke her up gradually without any stress signals. Yay!

All in all, having Prim visit with me for two weeks was a delight. It challenged my dog trainer mind to think outside the box to help meet her needs. It encouraged me to slow down and let her think, as with her limited senses it takes her a few extra seconds to understand what I was asking her to do. Special needs dogs are just as enriching to our own lives as able-bodied dogs, and I know this little fluff has definitely buried her way into my heart!