The Older Brother


I ain’t foolin’ ya and it’s no joke! Three Chatty Cats has gone to the dogs! Well, just one dog…Eddie. Before I became a cat mama, closing in on six years ago now, I was a dog mama. When certain individuals found out I was starting a cat blog, they said, “But what about Eddie?” So for those dog lovers out there, this one’s for you! (With a few cat pictures sprinkled in, naturally.)

The Story Begins…

Eddie, terrierThe hubs (Ross) and I started our “family” before we were even married. 13 years ago this coming June, we decided to get a dog. Our college roommates had moved out of the house and we were ready to start domesticated life with a pet.

We looked at various rescues and settled on a group in Los Angeles (which I don’t think exists any longer). We drove up on a Saturday in June to look at the dogs at their shelter. We had told the adoption coordinator that we were looking for a small dog, so she had bathed and set aside a couple to look at. As soon as we entered the room lined with kennels, there was this one yappy, scraggly-looking, medium-sized dog doing all he could to get our attention. Jumping up and down, barking like crazy, turning circles in excitement.

Ross said, “That one.” The volunteer looked at him, frowned a bit and responded, “I didn’t bathe him,” and tried to direct our attention to the two she had set aside in carriers. When we insisted on looking at the other dog, she took “Eddy” out of the kennel and we sat down on the floor with him.

Eddie, terrier

Eddy (who we renamed Eddie – clever, I know) immediately calmed down and made himself as small as possible, perhaps never thinking we would actually ask to see him, possibly being looked over so many times before. He was scared, shaking and didn’t make a sound.

We knew he would be going home with us.

That first night and for a week or so, Eddie was scared of everything. He flinched at the sight of the leash and harness, was scared of the stairs in our house, and wouldn’t even sleep close to us, instead preferring to curl up on his dog bed by himself, ignoring us. The vet estimated that he was between 8 months to a year old. I still wonder what life was like for Eddie before finding his forever home with us. But over time, Eddie began to trust us. We took him to obedience training, and he learned that walks were what life was all about!

The Scariest Night of Our Lives

Eddie, terrierIt was April 6, 2006, about three years after we adopted Eddie, when we noticed he was limping. We took him to our regular vet and was told he likely strained a muscle or something innocuous like that, and they sent us home with some pain meds. Turns out that is NOT what happened.

When I returned home from work one day that week, Eddie had completely lost use of his back legs – he was paralyzed!

Since it was after hours, we rushed him to the ER vet a couple of cities over. After their initial assessment, they came back to us saying he likely had a herniated disc, but they couldn’t be sure without a couple thousand dollars worth of x-rays and tests. We said do it – do whatever he needs!

We waited nervously for the results, probably close to midnight by then, and the vet confirmed that Eddie did in fact have a herniated disc and referred us to a vet neurologist next door. Because it was such an emergency, the neurologist came into the hospital in the middle of the night to perform the surgery. First off, we were so incredibly fortunate that we lived within 15 miles of a neurologist. And second, thank goodness for family who ponied up for their grand-dog/great grand-dog to have $6,000 worth of tests and surgery!

The neurologist said it would be 50/50 that the surgery would work and we wouldn’t know until the next day. That night, as we worried and waited during his surgery, we started discussing doggy wheelchairs and how we could make our house handicap friendly for a paralyzed dog. But that line of thinking didn’t last long because the surgery worked! Over the next few weeks, Eddie regained full use of his back legs.

Eddie, recovering from surgery
Recovering at the vet on the left – and at home on the right.

The Drama Continues

Fast forward to almost exactly three years later to April 8, 2009. It happened again! Luckily, we knew the signs and Eddie never lost use of his back legs. But he did have another full-blown back surgery to repair a different herniated disc, this time higher up on his spine.

Eddie, recovering from surgery
Recovering from his second surgery.

The neurologist said she rarely ever saw dogs return for a second surgery. What are the chances it would happen a third time? Well, it did, just one year later in May 2010. At this point, the neurologist said it was clear that Eddie had a degenerative disc disease. We asked if there was anything more we could be doing besides keeping him off the furniture and stairs. She said no, that he could just get up to take a drink of water and it could happen again.

Eddie, recovering from surgery
Getting a snuggle from Pops while recovering. This time the incision was through Eddie’s neck.

An Addition to the Household

During the third (and knock on wood that it is his last) recovery, we found our first stray kitten, Dexter. Eddie wasn’t too sure what to think about this little guy, mewing and trying to nurse on him once or twice. But Eddie was/is a great big brother. As a kitten and before we found Olive, Dexter tried to get Eddie to play with him, usually unsuccessfully. But we think that having a kitten in the house helped Eddie get active again during his third recovery.

Eddie, recovering from surgery with kitten
Meeting Dexter during recovery.
terrier and tabby kitten lying together
Eddie started Dexter’s “treat begging” training early.
tabby cat and terrier lying together
Still buds several years later.

Our Eddie

Eddie barks constantly at passersby, and he much prefers humans to other dogs. He tolerates his three kitty siblings, and he loves his Pops more than anything in the world. (When I come in the door, he usually looks around me to see if Ross is close behind.) Whenever we’re away, Eddie finds a piece of clothing and drags it into his bed for comfort. He still likes Dexter the best, which means he basically ignores him. Eddie lunges and growls when Olive comes near, and he avoids Sophie as best he can (she swiped at him once and barely made contact with his nose).

Eddie hates the rain, hates his grooming sessions, has been known to eat other dog’s doodoo (WHY, Eddie, WHY?), and he knows how to beg for food with the best of ‘em. He is afraid of flies and beeping noises…seriously. He likes to investigate lizards in the yard and loves burrowing into his blankets.

Eddie is now 14 years young (we estimate) and people still stop us on walks and ask if he’s a puppy. He has developed a constant leg shake, his eyes are beginning to droop and sometimes he’s a bit wobbly on his feet – but he’s still going strong. What Eddie lacks in physical ability, he more than makes up for in attitude!

The Best Decision

Adopting Eddie was one of the best things we’ve ever done. We never once considered “buying” a dog. Adoption is the way to go! We “saved” him – but really Eddie chose us. If he had not jumped and barked at us that one day in the shelter, we might not have seen him. But he was smart and he recognized his mom and dad when he saw us. And we’re thankful for that every day!

Here is a video of Eddie with a four-month-old Dexter. When kittens attack!


What pets do you have? Cats? Dogs? Bunnies? Horses? (And Happy April Fool’s Day!)

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48 thoughts on “The Older Brother

  1. Eddie is a cutie! The mom had a cat before us that had a herniated disc and had to have surgery…so she can relate what you went through with Eddie. And believe it or not, I have degenerated disc disease…rare in a cat, I know. We’re glad Eddie is doing well. ~Ernie

  2. Thanks for sharing the story about your “family” and the adorable photos of Eddie. I worry constantly about my dog and it sounds like Eddie was very lucky to find such a wonderful caring home to help him through all of his health issues. He sounds like a typical brother in his reaction to the cats. I am a dog lover, but every time I read your blog I wish my Yorkie, Gabby, was more open to having another pet in the house, but she has made it clear she plans on being an only child. Gabby’s name is very fitting because she barks at every raindrop that hits the roof, every crack of thunder, or if a bird or squirrel is in the yard, and she has issues with clicking noises so whenever the tv is turned on or the furnace runs she makes sure we know. Thanks again for sharing another great rescue story.

    1. I know what you mean about being an only child. Eddie certainly wishes he was an only child. And we had no intention of bringing other pets into the house, but that obviously didn’t go as planned. We do know that he is a one-dog family though. Cats are one thing, but he wouldn’t tolerate another dog in the house. Sounds like Gabby’s name is perfect. I wonder if she knew her name and decided to live up to it!

  3. Thanks for sharing Eddie’s story! He’s sure been through a lot. He is lucky to have such a wonderful home. :)

  4. Eddie is a cutie. He was lucky to have you and your hubby as parents that were willing to do the surgery- more than once. I am glad he is doing well now.

    1. We’ve also told him that he’s lucky he ended up with us. I don’t think he listens though. Just begs for more treats. :-) And of course we can’t resist his little face.

  5. Whoa! Aren’t some breeds of dogs prone to disc disorders? My Pop had a zipper in his back just like Eddie not long after I moved in here. HAH! TW said Dexter reminded her of me in the video.

    1. Yes, I think dachshunds have back issues, maybe bassets. They’re all so long in the back! I hadn’t heard of terriers, but we’re not really sure what breed he is. A mix of something. I want to do one of those dog breed test kits with Eddie. Hope your Pop’s back is all better!

  6. Wow, Eddie has been one expensive dog! It’s a good thing he caught your attention. Many would not or could not afford one surgery, let alone three. So he did well in choosing you! And you have done well for him.

    1. We were so thankful for the generosity of others for the first surgery! For the second and third, it was never a question. We made a commitment when we adopted Eddie. Of course now we will always have insurance for our pets. With Eddie, we didn’t know better and then couldn’t get him covered after that.

  7. This is such a beautiful story! How blessed Eddie is to have you and your husband adopt him–and how blessed you are to have Eddie. He is precious! Love the pictures of him with tiny Dexter.

  8. Eddy, you are one amazing dog! Keep showing the world that degenerative discs can’t hold you down!

    Me hopes you stops by to see my fun Sunday selfie too and to purr for Jolly who just had life saving surgery. Purrz from Lulu and Katie Mom.

    1. Triangle of cute, I love it! Eddie was my first model. But I have to admit, I now have more cat pics than dog pics, even though we’ve had Eddie for nearly 13 years. But with three cats… you know, more models and opportunities to shoot.

  9. Oh my gosh, poor Eddie. He’s been through a lot! We have three cats, a rabbit, and of course, Ruby. They all get along pretty well. Ruby likes cats more than dogs as did our previous dog, Pip. The cats are definiely in charge around here. We would like to feature our cats more on the blog, but they don’t always cooperate with photographs.

    Thanks for sharing Eddie with us. What a cutie pie and he sounds like quite a character!

    1. Interesting that Ruby (and Pip) prefers cats over dogs! Eddie just prefers humans over anything. Yes, it’s so much harder to get a cat to cooperate with photos. That’s why I take 10 to get one good one. :-)

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Eddie. My husband and I were dog people before we started accumulating cats. Eddie definitely knew which humans to choose foe his very own. Most pet owners probably would have euthanized Eddie with that first herniated disc, much less stepped forward to have and nurse him through three surgeries. One of our kitties had seven surgeries to remove tumors that put out these little tendrils and then spread. She lived to be 17 and was a shy but wonderful cat. We hope Eddie gives you many more years of doggie love. I have sent you an e-mail. Please reply the you have the opportunity. Janet

    1. I dread to think what would’ve happened to Eddie if he ended up with another family. But I don’t have to worry about that since he came home with us. Wow, seven surgeries? Poor kitty! That’s wonderful that she lived to be 17. Shows what great, loving care she had from you.

  11. GREAT story!
    I currently have cats (including one that I found in the road, after it had been hit by a car… $6k in exams and treatments later, I kept her). I’ve previously owned rabbits, a mouse, hamsters, fish, and a dog. I allow opossum and raccoon to live in the crawlspace under my house. I really mean for it to be a refuge for stray dogs & cats but I don’t get to choose who enters.

  12. The story of Eddie made us Happy and sad, but we are glad that it turned out the right way. So good that you are around, Dexter, you are such a good nurse! Seeing him playing with Dexter and lying in equilibrium, does bring back so much memories of Granny’s doggie and cat, who are both angels now. Granny had hamsters, chinchilla’s, cats and dogs, birds, but now she only has me :) Pawkisses for a lovely day :) <3 <3

  13. Yes, just call him nurse Dexter! :-) We had a bird as well, but he crossed to the rainbow bridge a few years ago. Never had hamsters or chinchillas though! We also have two desert tortoises who live in our backyard. :-)

  14. How cute is this story! Love the photos of Eddy, ermmm, sorry, Eddie. We used to have a big stinky blood hound who has earned his wings three years ago. He was a big sweetie and used to just walk away when the cats would steal his bed. I wonder, does Eddie allow Dexter to steal his bed? Seems to be what cats do. :)

Any thoughts to share?