So many of you who have come to Adytum Sanctuary have enjoyed the dogs and cats and in your reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Bed and Breakfast.com have let us know that they added to your adventure at Adytum. We think of ourselves as hosts here to welcome you, and they carry the exact same energy and intention in their own, sweet ways.
|Gizmo’s Fort in the Digital Baby Grand Piano…Watching the Rain, Wanting to Play…|
Everyone asks about the stories of how each one of the ‘pack’ came to be here. Many of you know Gabe’s story of being a rescue dog that came up the hill negotiating thorny Himalayan blackberry vines and enduring stickers in his paws to escape his private hell in the concentration camp which was his daily life for God knows how long. The day Gabriel appeared on the porch, our house staff at the time said, “Kat, there is a mangy dog wetting all over the front porch. What do I do?” I peeked out. The ugliest dog I have ever seen in my life was shaking in temperatures that were projected to drop to 8 degrees that February night. He did have mange and was emaciated. And yes, he marked the front porch of Adytum as his new home….I just didn’t know it yet.
|Ancient Kitty Boy Covers Alyssa’s Chest With His Substantial Girth..Dash Below|
This pitiful animal was digging at his ear groaning, his head nearly touching the icy ground in his effort to show me he needed help. Because night was approaching, we had to make that hard decision. Did we want another dog? No. We had an elderly 12 ½ year old Borzoi, Sasha that was my ‘soul-mate’ of the animal World. Once before I had an Arabian horse aptly called Kismet, Turkish for “fate”- I called him AJ usually and he too filled that rare slot that doesn’t come around in life too often: ‘soul-mate’ of the animal World. I had no desire to replace Sasha and we were actually in that horrible limbo of “do we put her down or not? There’s still so much life in her but….” We could see she suffered. Selfishly, we hung on as long as we could but pain began to fill her large eyes that were always full of pure love that literally arced out us before. It was getting quite clear, a decision needed to be made.
|Sasha and Kat in Autumn Before Her Passing|
Sasha had been attacked by a huge bear on the back of Adytum lands – a bear that has since sadly been shot by hunters. His big paw scraped claw lines down her bony spine damaging her hip. She was never the same since. The morning’s walk through our tree plantation revealed the hard decision that would come later the afternoon of the next day. But for today, we had a mangy, emaciated dog asking desperately for help. I had heard a massive amount of shooting earlier and guess that someone was driving him purposefully away because they didn’t want to pay to repair all the damage their neglect had done to him.
Nameless, yet, Gabriel was asked to enter the garage where we’d made a bed for him. It was clear he wasn’t going to do it. He apparently had been confined in a dark place for long time periods because it took months and months before he would consent to look me in the eye and to enter ‘inside’. I went to town immediately with nightfall approaching and bought an Igloo and filled it with warm blankets on the covered part of the porch. We fed him and started working on his ear- the worst infection I have ever seen actually protruding out of his ear like a giant black cauliflower.
The next day he was gone before I could try to coax him into the truck to visit the vet. The vet ended up coming to us…the next day, my beloved soul of my heart, Sasha was gone too and I cried so desperately, so hopelessly with my poor vet looking on like I might need sedation too…It was – well you know beyond humiliating, but who cares. You’ve done it too.
|Look at the Love Beaming Out of Sasha’s Eyes- It Intensified The Older She Grew|
The space left by Sasha was pure emptiness where her bed and constant loving glances had filled so many years. I had a day to mourn, three days wearing sunglasses to the optometry office because my eyes were nearly swollen shut. Then guess who returned the day after her death? Our ugly friend with his paws full of thorns again. He spent hours patiently licking them to get them free. Later we learned that he would go up and down the hill and take food and bones to the rest of his pack. He would even go lay with them on cold nights, leaving the comforts we provided, because his loyalty ran deeper than that of most humans and he put everyone ahead of himself..still does.
He healed my heart in time when he began to share his loving eyes with me, so rich with gratitude and relief to have been accepted and actually loved. We healed his ear and turned him back into the beautiful creature he always knew he was… The transformation was miraculous. I wish I had taken pictures to show you…you would hardly believe it. The nameless, collarless dog became Gabriel because he is the angel that gave me his healing love when my heart was breaking…breaking. We gave him safety, protection and a new life full of all the love he deserves.
It really impressed me too that he created this new life for himself. Even an animal has the power to choose a better life. Think about that. Live in the valley below with beatings, confinements, starvation, humiliation or…move through thorns and obstacles and head straight up the hill to reach a better Way. My admiration for Gabriel equaled my gratitude that this angel appeared when I most needed healing.
I had heard a story to prepare me to accept him even though he did NOT fit the model we wanted to represent Adytum. Graceful Borzoi, yes. Mangy flea ridden starving mixed breed mut? No. Not really…Love comes in so many different packages and I am ashamed at that shallow thinking when Adytum was beginning to open and be presented online to the World…
At the optometry office late one afternoon when I don’t have time for stories…an old woman said, “My friend had a German Shepherd appear on her doorstep the day after her husband died. She scared him away even though he came back again and again. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t have enough money to pay for dog food. That week she was robbed and lost much of her possessions. If she had accepted the dog, which seemed to be an angel in disguise, it probably never would have happened.” The story most definitely came to mind and regardless of whether Gabriel fit the image we wished to portray at Adytum, we welcomed him with open arms and gave him his new name. We left the collar off, however, as we were on to his mission. He made it appear he was still in residence as part of the pack. He came and went at regular hours. He always came back…
The vet, the same one here to put Sasha down, treated his ear over and over actually. He had some other name and she knew this dog. She suggested we turn the family in because they had 7 dogs all chained and used as guard dogs. Once, they had spayed him and loved him. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps they beat them to make the pack mean and starved them to keep them alert. People in the country sometimes have different ways. From my neck of the woods, it is called abuse. The only reason we didn’t turn them in was because Gabriel continued to care for his pack with his trademark intense loyalty.
We often bought home raw bones from Morton Meat Company. Most of you know it as having the best beef jerky around…Entering this shop is a sacrifice for me, being vegetarian, and having to smell the butcher shop but it’s a sacrifice I gladly make for our dogs. Any gift we gave Gabe went right down the hill. He shared his treats, rawhide bones, raw bones and his body heat on frigid nights. Finally the family was evicted or some such event because Gabriel finally accepted a collar and became ours when they left, leaving only the paper notice nailed to the front door.
|Beautiful Gabriel in the Snow|
It is with great sadness I have to share with each of you who have called Gabriel a real angel…felt his love and protection…those single women at Adytum who found a loving guard stationed outside their door or at the foot of their bed if they allowed him in…Gabriel has suffered a great loss this week. Strangely enough, being placed in an eye doctor’s home, Gabriel has lost his eye to glaucoma. Knowing Gabriel, he will view it as a gift because this incomprehensible loss is provoking a call to demand a pressure check at the routine vet visits we all attend. It isn’t the fault of the vet. The standard is not set for dogs as it for humans to have our pressure checked each year at our eye exam. Glaucoma progresses silently with no symptoms. It is blinding. Donn’s year in Africa yielded many such human cases who became blind with little warning or symptoms. It is VITAL to get an annual eye exam and submit to the pressure check none of us enjoy. I believe it is VITAL to insist our pets have the same privilege.
Gabriel never gave any indication anything was wrong. His persistent ear infections, probably made worse by the beatings he endured causing structural damage…who knows, they gave way to what appeared to be an eye infection. Donn feels the rare appearance of glaucoma may have been due to structural damage in the eye as well from abuse. We treated for 1 ½ weeks for allergy eyes and finally went to the vet where she diagnosed glaucoma. Watering eyes that mimic allergy are not a part of glaucoma symptoms but dull, throbbing pain is and it was clear Gabe didn’t feel good. We had no way of knowing and he had no way to tell us but to shiver inside, to lay low, to leave his continually happily thumping tail on the ground instead of waving it at everyone…We were convinced he had a tough eye infection and began to use stronger cortico-steroid drops, but nothing resolved it as it would have in humans…
|No More Working Eye….|
One day his eye turned blue…The vet referred to an ophthalmologist and Donn took both dogs to her a few days later. She confirmed that Gabriel’s precious watchful, loving eye had been lost and suggested removing it, sewing up the lid and treating the other preventatively for glaucoma. Glaucoma is rare in this breed. She said it was the fault of no one…there was absolutely no way to know.
|Look At Dash’s Smile on His First Real Hike|
We took Dash, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, to the same doctor because that breed is known to have blindness issues. Amazingly no pressure check was done- even though we were seeing a specialist. So really, with all due respect with the tremendous training and knowledge these professionals have, as well as tremendous graciousness toward we humans while they are lovingly putting our old pets down- there really WAS a way to know before the eye was lost and that is by a routine pressure check just like we do at our annual eye exam.
|Our Morton Office- Donn’s Optometry and my Nutritional Therapy Practice|
Again, I cannot place blame on a discipline that has yet to recognize the need to prevent glaucoma by annual pressure checks. There are those skilled in fighting for animal rights and I ask you, beg you, to get the word out that the standard needs to be changed. Gabriel lost an eye needlessly. I am sickened by it as are others that have come to learn of his private, needless tragedy.
In this day and age with all our prevention, all those vaccinations for dogs and heart worm medicine and on and on…why in the world did no one factor in the extreme value of sight and make a test mandatory for it?
We have an option for surgery which is obviously very expensive and there is a 15% chance that the pressure in the dead eye will not go down and it will have to come out anyway. At a friend’s insistence and horror at Gabriel losing his eye, I emailed Bill Sardi who is a famous researcher on the eye and is the man responsible for our human clinical trial at Medical Vision Center (www.medicalvisioncenter.com) on red wine extract – the Longevinex brand in particular (www.longevinex.com) for the treatment of blinding macular degeneration both wet and dry forms. I asked Bill if he had options.
|Bill Sardi Lecturing at the Roxy on Longevinex for Macular Degeneration|
We use Hyaluronic Acid in our dispensary for those glaucoma patients who opt out of the standard medical treatment and want to try a natural product. Glaucoma drops are about $80 a month. HA is $78 – the good brands that are pharmaceutical grade. HA also helps joints and makes our skin like baby’s skin…nice and plump diminishing wrinkles and fine lines. HA makes up the eyeball and provides structure for it. So many are deficient in HA in their eyes. We have actually had a measure of success with those few patients lowering their pressure and maintaining normal pressure by using HA. So that’s exactly what Bill suggested and we are now using oral HA and topical glaucoma drops twice daily to see if we can alleviate his pain by lowering pressure in the dead eye staving off surgery and saving the eye, albeit a dead eye.
|Kat and Gabe Near Adytum Sanctuary|
Gabriel is always thinking of others. When you’re here, he’s thinking of you and watching out for you. He will show you the trails, sleep outside your door to protect you from dangers that never come…if you’re a furry friend he will share his food and his treats with you…even his precious body heat on cold nights. This time Gabriel has given a very priceless gift: he is asking that awareness be raised that animals need preventive care that includes pressure checks to prevent or detect glaucoma. He can’t speak but for those who have been in his care, he trusts you will speak for him and his friends, and I trust you will too. When you take your animals to the vet, pay whatever they need to receive to perform the simple touching of the Tono-pen to the cornea to register pressure in the eye. Suggest, please that they include this as a part of their annual exam. Nothing is wasted now, is it? Meantime, we will do our best to save the eye instead of the unthinkable option…Meantime, will you please consider sharing some or all of this post with your vet, with your contact list? And pray for him too, will you?