Friday, May 19, 2017

The week that wasn't

We should have been arriving home from a week at the beach today.
But as explained in my previous post it was decided it was too much and we had a two night stay earlier.

This week has been "our" week at the beach for many years so my Facebook "On this Day" has thrown video and pictures at me all week. So many incredible memories.

The temps have spiked this week and Bugsy is struggling. Our walks are short and hard work.
He pants in the house.
He's weaker and weaker.
It would have been a nightmare at the beach.

But he's happy. He is thrilled with his human food meals and eats each one like we never feed him.

It's hard to think he'll never run those wild zoomies in the sand again.
And I mean crushing but I try to focus on how fortunate he and we have been to enjoy such moments.

Beach dog

On May 12, 2017 we were to head to our beach place for a week.
In March, I didn't think he'd still be with us.
As we made our way through April and we found a feeding regime that didn't cause issues, it seemed that he would still  be with us.
However, he was weakening, week by week.
I finally told my husband to cancel it. No way he would be able to handle a week at the beach.
For all the things working against him, Bugsy has never mastered calm, or going slow.  He just doesn't have the strength and stamina to do what he tries to do and I felt staying at the beach a week wouldn't be a good thing for any of us.

After it was canceled, I was sad. I mean really sad. The end of an era.
I was stuck on the idea that he'd never feel the sand in his toes again and that we'd never see his joy at being here again.
So I booked a couple of nights and here we are.

Canceling was correct, as was getting here asap.

Upon arrival it was all joy.
He was so happy. He made some new human and canine friends and zoomed in pure ecstasy.

Today was harder. His desire to be at the beach is as high as it ever has been, however his ability to enjoy it is low.  The strength just isn't there.

Spent about an hour at the beach this morning and he wanted to go in.
He slept for a hours and then DH wanted  to go to a cute local town.
We did but poor B was so tired and hot. It was too much.
But we did it and came home. And he slept some more.

He ate. We went to the beach. He did his "business", zoomed, chilled and  then wanted to go back in.
He quickly settled into a deep sleep.

Thinking back to Fall 2006 our first trip here, he was so insane. Unable to rest at all, finally after 13 non-stop hours, I put him in his crate and he fell asleep before I could slide the latch. He slept for 12 hrs and repeated his very busy, all day, OMG this is exciting activities, until once again he was crated.

Back to our new reality, he woke up in the morning and enjoyed a walk a brief zoomie before meeting a new dog he thought was great.
It was the right thing to cancel the week, The right thing to go for a couple of nights.
Still bittersweet but it is wonderful to feel like you are helping someone enjoy their final days

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Light is leaving

Well Master Bugsy has had a pretty awful nearly two weeks.

It seemed as though we'd turned a corner yesterday but today he was as flat as he was this summer when I knew he was sick.

I imagine he feels poorly, there's pain as well.

Although we went for a walk this morning and he saw his current girlfriend, there were no smiles today. Everything was hard work.
Yet he tried to do it like always. With a bounce in his step, when he did step.

I always say dogs are amazing and he is an amazing dog.

So when I sent him outside for his last of the night and he struggled down the stairs, and overall looked so tired & thin, he trotted outside, took care of business, came in and made sure I got the right treat, then he stood at the bottom of the stairs; mustering all his strength and attempted to run up them.
Because he's run up those stairs thousands of times.
After realizing on step 2 that leaping and running wasn't going to happen, he pulled his big old body up those stairs, and plopped onto his bed with a groan.
He loved his treat and gave me a big yawn as I stroked his bony & lumpy back.

It won't be long.
Cancer must be back. With a vengeance.

He's not being taken too soon. His life has been FULL.
He's old.
He's defied a zillion odds.
The light in his eyes is weak now.

He's been the best buddy I have ever had.
And I owe it to him to ensure he doesn't suffer one minute too long.
Imagining this house, the lake, the beach, this neighborhood without him is flat-out crushing.

He's given me so much more than I thought you could have from a dog.
I gave him my all and he pushed me to new learning and strength.

Bugsy it will be the saddest day, the hardest moment, and the greatest act of love I will ever complete.

Maybe tomorrow is better, but I am not counting on it.
Sleep well my sweet boy, and thank you.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I saw a puppy today

While I try to pretend my emotions are in check, I know they are not.
This weekend was tough, every morning is tough and bedtime rips my heart out.

This afternoon I needed to get out of the office and happened upon a young woman with had handsome black and white puppy. He was a rescue, missing the end of his tail and @ 12 weeks old.
As I petted him and chatted to the owner, touching his pink toes and puppy belly, it was if I saw Bugsy's life whiz by. Of course he was never that small or that docile but pretty much the past 11.5 yrs flashed through my head and heart.
When I finally walked away I was suppressing an outright bawl.

Which I have held off until now.

When I arrived home from work our neighbor was just finishing a walk with her golden and Bugsy and he played for a brief time. I saw a moment when B went to do one of his signature turns and it hurt, bad.
He considered and made a few attempts to play again but he knew that pain would return.
I knew that when he awoke from his post-dinner nap, it wasn't going to be good. And it wasn't.
The thought that there is NOTHING that can be done to help him crushes me. I mean CRUSHES me.
We will only get worse from here.

Finally after his last business, he makes his way to his bed in our bedroom. There he waits for me to come to bed. For some reason he always lies down on his left side, but when I come to bed he flips to his right side. For months now, more often than not his right leg get stuck underneath and he waits for me to  help.
So I do.
And I lie down next to him stroking his soft head and lumpy, bumpy chest. He literally purs and leans back against me.
It is an extraordinary experience because this is Bugsy. He never wanted or cared for contact. He never needed for me to help or protect him. It's like he knows he's old & weak now and he wants to feel safe and consoled.
Part of me soaks in the love and contact and trust.
Another part of me thinks of this powerful being losing his power and knowing it.

Everyday my heart is struggling and I don't think we are too close to the days in which the decision will be imminent. I fear this journey, but only when Bugsy isn't near me to feel my fear.
I will comfort and console him.
And protect him.
I will reduce his pain to the best of my ability.
I will help this majestic animal transition to an elder statesman.
And I'll cry a lot when no one is looking.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The clock is ticking

It's so hard to explain what I see and feel.
Two weeks ago, tomorrow, Bugsy woke up OK but within 30 minutes was falling down, his hind end was collapsing.
Being Bugsy, instead of slowing down he went faster. It was horrifying.
While we have no idea exactly what happened or caused  it, later in the day it  was obvious it was his right leg that was collapsing.
He was happy, what else is new.
So the days have passed by and although there's a sense things are normal, they aren't.
He is fighting pain. Fighting weakness. All day, every day.
I am trying to keep him mentally and emotionally happy and satisfied while protecting his physical health.

It's not been easy on my emotional health.

And I can't tell you that it's going well.

The clock is ticking and it isn't going well.
I asked Steve to call our beach place and move it up. I can't see Bugsy being able to enjoy the beach in two months from now. Hopefully, we can move it to April and give him an opportunity to enjoy his beach.

The clock is ticking. It's hard to imagine life without him, however I know he has provided me with every lesson I need to be happy and successful from here on out.
Bugs, you  have no idea how powerful you really are.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Being insprired

I find it hard to put into words why I so often feel inspired by Bugsy.
As each year has gone by, it has grown and grown.
Observing how he navigates life, how he traverses the pitfalls, disruptions, deals with unpleasant dogs, engages in new experiences, and just takes whatever is thrown at him.

He has been unfazed by any hurdle. No matter the day, he's Bugsy.
He's happy, ridiculous, powerful, intense, driven, and kind.

In whatever faze of cancer we are at, his GI is giving him troubles regularly. I've tried what I can to settle it to no avail. We have some rough nights. But no matter how tired his poor body must be, he is excited to rise about 5 am and be out walking soon after.

This morning was 38* and raining. He'd had a bad night. I was a bit hesitant to take him but he LIVES for his walks. So I found his jacket to try to keep him a bit warmer/drier but he has to have his harness as his neck has many lumps and any stress on his collar impacts his throat. So I had the jacket over the harness with the leash clipped on the top of the harness and running under the jacket.
It was the kind of set-up that if someone set me up with, I'd be "I can't deal with this!"
He of course didn't notice the contraption,
or the rain,
or the wind,
or the cold.
Or seem tired or unwell.
He trotted down the road at a pace I still struggle to keep.
Nose to the air, "is that fox I smell?"

No fears, no concerns, focused on the job.
Garbage trucks, school buses and distracted early morning drivers speeding by in the dark. Nothing even causes a brief tilt of the head.
Things to do.
Dogs barking, nothing from him.

Confident & rhythmical he trots down the roads as if he was still young with strong, supple and undamaged joints.

I am just trotting behind him, taking it all in. Seeing him explode with love and joy when he meets his love Kiai.
Watching him cover ground with purpose.

The drive to move forward and achieve the self-determined goal undiminished.
Every day I am inspired, more so these days as the hurdles multiply and grow taller.
Yet he is the constant.

His eyes focused forward.
Drive untempered.
There are no failures in his world

Month 5 of our 3 to 6 month projection

I try not to think about it often
The time scales that is.

But sometimes I take stock. So here we are in month 5 post diagnosis, and 4 months post-splenectomy.

The first two months post-op were spectacular. Bugsy was more alive in those two months than he had been for years. It was, as I have stated in earlier posts, both thrilling and confusing.
December the slow down began.
He was sleeping more again.
There were more lumps.
But still the kind of joy that emanates from him like energy from a power station.
And as always, zoomies.

We celebrated his 11th gotcha day or as some say "adoptaversary"

He and I took a day trip to the beach, he had a fun Christmas and we all  kept on trucking.

Month 5, I had a neighbor feel for lymph nodes. Determination as "hard to say" if  they are enlarged.

More lumps.
Deeper sleeping.
And we are starting to have labored breathing.

But we still  have zoomies.
Every day.

Today he ran in the fields with his bros - a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old GSP.
He was so incredibly happy,
and goofy.
He ran wild zoomies twice, that had the humans running for cover and the GSPs wondering what in the world was going on.

Thinking that he'd collapse once home, you can imagine how surprised I was to have him stealing shoes and trying to instigate a chase.
After stealing the shoe off my foot, he got his chase.

The rest of the day was alternating naps and surveillance.

I know we are so lucky. He isn't like an old dog in so many ways.
His hearing and sight remain excellent.
He moves with grace and energy despite all the orthopedic issues he has had and the amount of arthritis he must have.
We walk/trot 2-3 miles daily.
He runs up and down stairs at speeds that still have me yelling "careful".
He is joyous and happy and of course he literally runs zoomies daily.

Knowing that his life expectancy was 10,  at 11.5 he's doing awesome.
Knowing the state of his knee, elbow, shoulder and lower spine, and watching him do what he does physically is flat out unbelievable - just ask the vets who have been tasked with keeping him running.
Knowing that the oncologists felt the cancer would take him swiftly, and watching the months tick by isn't easy, nor it isn't easy to forget.

I am not able to describe what it is like to KNOW all the stuff about him that should make him sick, unhappy, reluctant to be active and WATCH my insanely happy, wildly energetic dog basically running around saying, "I feel good"

I can't describe it at all - other than to say it's a blessing.