Thursday, August 28, 2014

Farewell to a loyal old lady

Warning: If you're at all squeamish, please do not read this post. 
 Toffee in February this year. Still fit and healthy

Yesterday the vet arrived to check out Toffee who had a large open wound on her side. She'd actually caught a teat and tore it on the wire fence when she and Princess got out one night six weeks ago. At the time Grant called the local vet in  who gave her a course of antibiotic injections. Meanwhile Michael and I treated the wound daily and I left the medication (Zambuc  - good Oz ointment,  and South African tissue oil ) which he applied in my absence.

When I returned from leave, Michael told me that Toffee's matatizo/problem was worse. Grant called in a provincial vet; Albert, head of the askaris  brought him to my home and we consulted together. The vet said that Toffee's wound was cancerous. and that he'd anathematize the dog, go in, cut out all the cancerous tissue and sew her up again. His opinion was that afterwards she would be good as new. I wasn't at all convinced about operating on cancer areas. Toffee is apparently about 12 years old, so I asked the vet about humanely putting her down. He and his assistant seemed a little aghast that I would suggest this and that they'd recently operated another older dog on another mine and it survived well.
 Michael lifts the sedated Toffee onto the examination table

Michael and I duly set up an operating theater in Grant's large bathroom and although the doctor promised to be here at 10am yesterday, he and the assistant duly arrived just after 2.30pm! The assistant sedated Toffee and the vet examined her. 

Within minutes Michael called me from my desk and said the doctor wanted to speak to me. The doctor told me that the cancer had spread into Toffee's groin area and to operate would mean great pain and suffering without the guarantee of her being well again. Now he and his assistant quoted a statement from the Tanzanian Animal Welfare Society about humanely putting animals out of their suffering!

When I agreed that the best thing for dear old Toffee would be euthanasia and would he administer it, he said they don't have the drugs!  He asked if  the hospital would supply us large dose of general anesthetic which would put the dog to sleep permanently. Getting anything from the hospital involves a long procedure (mostly of waiting on the veranda with other patients) and with the dog twitching as she was coming to from her light sedation, I knew I couldn't go the normal route. So  I phoned Grant and asked him to help. He immediately got hold of the doctor, and once he'd explained what we needed, the doctor asked him to come to surgery to collect the medication. 

Within minutes, Grant was at our gate and passed me two bottles. I took these to the doctor thinking now the deed would be done. Not long and Michael called me to the bathroom again. The doctor held up the medicine and said it was incorrect. The doctor had given us local anesthetic instead of general anesthetic! I phoned Grant again; he fetched the bottles and went back to the hospital. The doctor called the anesthetist - quite a taciturn man - and this time Grant got phoned the vet  asked him to speak directly to the anesthetist!

Five minutes later Grant was back at the gate, this time holding a syringe with the first dose, and two small vials with liquid to be administered after this, using new needles each time. I handed the first one to the vet's assistant who gave it to the vet. Michael bound Toffee's leg above the elbow to enable easier access into her veins.  Albert was at Toffee's head and kept stroking her. The vet  injected the first one intravenously while Michael untied the twine. Meanwhile the assistant was setting up the final two injections. The vet subsequently administered these two, continually listening to Toffee's heartbeat. 

Finally after fifteen long minutes, dear old Toffee was at peace. 

The reason for posting this in detail may seem a little bizarre; but it's to show how different and difficult things can be here in the boondocks. In South Africa I've had to make this already traumatic decision and and the trip with a beloved pet, to the vet. Within minutes the vet would have the animal on the table;  I always stay with my pet till the end, and as soon as the needle went into the vein, the patient would close its eyes. Another minute or two and the vet listens to the heartbeat and says: "It's over."  

 All I can say in closing is:

 kwa heri  ma rafiki/ goodbye my friend

Good fences. Good Environment

The fence around the town's nursery (Taken out of the vehicle window, hence skew horizon!) 

It's on the street corner so I had many angles of the only picket fence in town!
The fence meanders along behind a hedge
The slogan on the building says it all!

I'm linking my post to Good Fences Thursday hosted by TexWisGirl and which you can visit by clicking here

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hedges on the Ridge

When we arrived home in Marquard this past holiday, Angus, Amanda and their little ones had moved in next door to us. This house was previously occupied by my dear friend, Pienkie (now living in the Old Age Home) whom I posted about yesterday.

Of course it was a real novelty for us to be out on the patio and to hear a little voice calling: "Hello Granddad"
Joel, four years old, stands on his jungle gym near the boundary wall between our two properties and calls Grant
 Not long and their nanny, Liesbet brings the children across to our house (it's just half a dozen steps from the left of this photo!)
Liesbet and Joel and Abby in our dry, winter garden

One evening I looked out onto the patio, and saw the children in their pajamas watching Grant working. They'd obviously been bathed by Liesbet, let out of their front door, rang our gate bell and Granddad let them in! 

  Two little muffled muffins watching their granddad planing his desk
Rina is the stand-in granny while I'm not around although the kids go straight to her even while I'm there! There's something about her that draws young and old. Amazing!  

 Rina with several of the Hedges grandchildren

Now something different: when Eryn was three-and-a-half years old, she had a mop of curly hair. One day she leaned on the day bed in my office with her chin on her hands; I knelt on the other side and with this wide-angle view, I took one of the best photos I have ever taken.  I gave the photo to my niece, Louise, a talented artist (Louise is the older sister and bridesmaid in the wedding post yesterday) and she painted it. When John and family arrived last week, I asked Eryn to pose next to the photo which she did.
Eryn, 11 is eight years older than she was in this painting. She's still GranJo's beautiful granddaughter who loves bling and kept borrowing my lipstick while they visited last week! 

At the same time, John took Grant's photo as a little boy, off the passage wall and held it next to Elijah. This fourth child and second son of John and Debbie is not only the spit of his paternal granddad, but has a lot of Grant's  derring do and mischievousness in him too. 
 Elijah, three, poses next to a photo of Granddad Grant also taken when he was three!  

During the same week that we furnished and decorated MIL's flat at the Retirement Center, Grant made arrangements to have an awning added to the east facing side of our house. Although we have a front door, we have never used it, except to open it every day and let the fresh air into the sleeping area of the house. We also have a large lounge and separate dining room which we never use as a lounge or dining room! 

Instead, in 2002, I had an entertainment area with an indoor braai/BBQ added to the kitchen and back entrance of the house. So we have two entrances to the house and these are both side entrances! One leads out onto the patio, garages and beginning of the driveway. The other leads onto a small lawn and garden which we also use extensively during mid-summer months. The past two holidays we  entertained outdoors on this patio and as always found it very hot. So the part you see in the photo below is that patio with my shadow reflected on the indoor entertainment area. 
 The extension of our house which has been an amazing pleasure for family and friends alike
Adding the awning with blinds which can be opened and closed, has created an extra "room" to our well-utilized entertainment area!

And last but not least: the three kitties in our Marquard home. Chappie, pictured below, has been the only resident cat in the Hedges Marquard household for the past two years. She was utterly spoiled by Emily. So, as the only child cat, Chappie rules the roost; she definitely doesn't abide imposters! 
Chappie is quite a comical cat and because she's spent so much time on her own, she makes up her own games: like playing peekaboo in a shopping bag! 
A month ago, however, Chappie's peace and solitude was shattered. Two cats, originally from Tanzania and recently living with their real mum, Rina in the Northern Free State, arrived at our Marquard home.Topsy and Tipsy, two feline brothers we looked after and eventually sent home to Rina, were now also part of the Hedges family. 

Chappie still has her own sheepskin bed on a sofa in the lounge part of my office; Topsy and Tipsy were first confined to the inside part of our house but now roam the garden and neighbor's property at will. And when they deign to come home, they sleep on the electric blanket on my bed. 
Mmm, Tipsy,  life wasn't even this good in Tanzania! 
Ahh, Topsy, it's so hard to keep my eyes open! 
Tipsy and Topsy love sharing a sheepskin bed (Chappie has her OWN) while the morning sun pours in over them 

I hope you're all having a really great week so far.