Ivy’s photo

Though Ivy is gone, I stare at her every day. She is on my computer desktop, 1280 by 1024 pixels of her, laying in bed, nose flush on the mattress.

I think of Ivy all the time. Often it’s a subconscious connection between what I’m doing and how Ivy would react. Sometimes it’s just my reaction to seeing her appear on the monitor as programs close while the computer shuts down.

This time of year, I would often bring Ivy to the TV station. She was a good sport, letting me put antlers or a Santa hat on her head. She would lay down on the anchor desk as I walked off to the weather wall. She was happy. She had no place to go. When I would return, Ivy was right where I left her.

Christmas Night 2002, while on camera finishing the forecast, Ivy decided it was time to lay down. It was so funny to see on live TV. She was oblivious to what was going on around her… or maybe above it all. It was her understated elegance that made her the center of attention.

A dog like Ivy – reserved in nearly every way, was never outwardly affectionate. This wasn’t a dog who’d meet you at the door and lick you to death. Still, there was no mistaking Ivy’s affection toward our family.

If there was a squabble, Ivy would go away, climbing the stairs then jumping up on our bed and making herself comfortable. She was a non confrontational dog.

People still ask me about Ivy all the time. I don’t like to tell them she’s passed away, and often I don’t. They always marvel at her composure and ask what kind of dog ‘he is.’ I tell them that Ivy was unlike most other Westies in her demeanor.

There are few photos that capture the essence of someone as well as the picture with this entry captures Ivy. She is calm… She is alert… She is at ease… She is where she wants to be.

She will always be with us. We will never stop missing her.

A Sad Day – Ivy is Gone

As soon as we met Ivy, we knew she was the right choice. She was a Westie – a West Highland White Terrier, but very much unlike the breed. Most Westies are high strung and active. Ivy was docile.

“Ivy The Dog” passed away this morning at age 12. She had been suffering from heart problems and finally succumbed. As far as we can tell, she went in her sleep, quietly, while cuddled against my back.

I remember the day our neighbor Martha came to the house. Friends of hers were getting divorced. They had a dog, but no longer had the ability to keep her. We had liked Martha’s dog and Martha thought we’d like Ivy.

Helaine wanted a dog. She had a dog as a child and thought Steffie was now old enough to have one in the house. They both knew I would be the sticking point. A dog was added responsibility in a house with a growing child.

We’ll never know why, but I said yes almost immediately.

As soon as we met Ivy, we knew she was the right choice. She was a Westie – a West Highland White Terrier, but very much unlike the breed. Most Westies are high strung and active. Ivy was docile.

To Ivy, a good afternoon was an afternoon on the sofa, her body on a pillow, her chin resting on armrest. She would lay there and watch TV.

If a dog or other animal came on the screen, Ivy would spring into action. She’d whine or bark and try and attract the attention of whoever it was that had come into her home. She protected us from the UPS man in the same way.

Ivy was great, silent, company. She started in our house sleeping with Steffie. Later, she moved into the bed with Helaine and me. She would lay on my pillow until I got there and then move to the foot of the bed.

She loved car trips with Helaine. Helaine would ask if she wanted to go for a ride and Ivy would spring up and get really excited.

Ivy was a kind and gentle soul. She touched our lives in so many ways. She added warmth to our home.

Last night, as I was leaving work, a college aged girl beckoned to me from across the parking lot. She had heard Ivy wasn’t well. She was the daughter in Ivy’s original family.

We spoke for a few minutes and I explained how Ivy was doing. She was sad to hear it, but glad to have reestablished a connection to Ivy.

It seems to me that this was more than a coincidence. Though I’m sure she didn’t understand, I told Ivy the story last night as she picked at her dinner. I was touched that this young woman still had a bit of Ivy in her heart.

Ivy enriched our lives and made our family better. We treated her with love and respect. We will miss her greatly each and every day.

Ivy to the Vet

Ivy hasn’t been eating well for the past 5-6 days. She had been eating really well prior to that. This morning, Helaine felt Ivy’s stomach and it was hard, as if she were full.

I took Ivy to the vet where a quick examination showed more fallout from her congestive heart failure. This time it’s fluid (blood) which has leaked from a bad heart valve and is now congregating in her abdomen.

Dr. Chin made some changes in Ivy’s meds and hopefully, in the short run, she will be helped. But as we go along, it becomes more and more clear that Ivy is not well and will never really recover. We might be able to hold off her illnesses for a while, and will try to do that.

She seems to be in no pain, but I’m sure she’s uncomfortable. Don’t you wish she could talk, just a little, to help us help her?

Ivy Gets a Haircut

When dogs get groomed, there seems to be some sort of obligation on the part of the groomer to finish the job with a bandanna. Considering the placement of a dog’s eyes, and her ability (or propensity) to look back, it’s obvious this isn’t done for the dog.

Usually, being a bandanna, it’s some sort of Western motif… a blueish pattern that would make you home on the range. Not yesterday. Because of Ivy’s health problems, Helaine changed groomers, going to one who would allow her to stay with, and comfort, Ivy during the grooming process.

Ivy came back with the bandanna on the right. It’s tie-dyed with a smiley face.

Maybe it’s lucky for Ivy she can’t see this one.

Ivy Update

I took Ivy to see the vet this afternoon. Of course, we’re still worried since her hospital stay last month.

We saw Dr. Gustafson, who looks like she received a pass from high school to be there. She was thorough and friendly. Ivy’s breathing has definitely improved with much less congestion noted. The heart murmur is still there, and that’s to be expected of course. She has growths under her chin which will be checked for cancer.

Ivy’s medication will be reduced. One pill will be stopped altogether.

She’s 12 now. This was pretty much as good as the news could be.

Ivy Update

It’s really tough to tell, so I have refrained from saying anything. Ivy hasn’t been panting like she was when she first went to the vet. She does seem lethargic… but she is a sedentary dog. We have been carrying her up and down stairs.

Helaine says she still feels Ivy’s breathing is still shallow, and that is definitely a symptom of the problems the doctors described. It is not quite as obvious to me; possibly because I wasn’t attuned to it before all of this began.

Maybe the good news really is, she’s doesn’t seem to be getting worse. That might mean the drugs have begun to help her turn the corner. But, this is by no means definitive and we’re still very concerned.

More On Ivy

I so want the drugs to help Ivy, but so far they are not.

Helaine sat on the sofa in the family room, with the laptop, watching and stroking Ivy. Ivy’s breaths were short. Her chest pulsing rapidly.

A quiet dog to being with, Ivy is calm, her motions measured.

It’s sad.

Ivy Comes Home

Ivy is home. I picked her up at the vet early this afternoon. But, she is still not well.

Earlier, on the phone, the vet had run down a laundry list of things that were wrong or could be wrong with Ivy. Heart problems, fluid in her lungs, possible emphysema, possible cancer. It’s too much to fathom. Yet watching Ivy in the hospital cage was cruel and unusual punishment for her and us.

She is not panting like she was when we brought her to the emergency clinic last Thursday. Her breathing is still shallow. She’s now taking three sepearate pills a total of 7 times a day. The pills could help.

We continue to hope and pray.

Visiting Ivy

Poor Ivy is still at the hospital. I went over around 7:00 PM tonight. Everyone was busy, and treatment was taking place in proximity to Ivy, so I was asked to come back.

Fine. Enough time to run over and try and help my friend Harold, who had crashed Windows 98 while installing the latest DirectX. I couldn’t help.

I got to Ivy about 8:00 PM. It was a good visit. Ivy came out wearing one of those cones they put over dog’s heads so they won’t touch sutures or IV tubes. She wasn’t panting. Her breathing seemed normal. This is a very good sign.

Ivy ate 1.5 pieces of American Cheese before turning away. That’s her norm when she’s full.

She has heart troubles. The ultrasound tonight showed that… and it had been expected earlier. But, more than likely, medication will control her problems.

We will all be happier when Ivy returns. Maybe tomorrow.


I went and saw Ivy in the hospital this afternoon. She was quiet when I came in, laying down in her cage. It is spacious by Westie standards, but it’s still a cage. Ivy had an IV tube taped to her left front leg. She licked me and gobbled down the piece of cheese I brought. But, she also started panting, which isn’t good. The doctors have said she is doing a little better, but she still has shallow breathing. Hopefully, Monday (Labor Day) she’ll have her ultrasound and a plan of treatment can start. This sucks for Ivy. It sucks for us too.

Ivy the dog

This morning, Helaine asked me if I had noticed that Ivy the dog’s breathing was very shallow and rapid, even when at rest. Unfortunately, I did.

We have a very good vet hospital in the neighborhood, and I called. Helaine took Ivy over before noon.

Ivy has fluid in her lungs, her color is pale and her lymph glands are swollen. They put her on an IV and administered oxygen. They also gave her some medication.

This evening, there is some improvement, but not much.

We are worried, and how could we not be? Ivy is a very important member of the family.

Dr. Gustafson, Ivy’s attending, will be in tomorrow and we will check back.