Friday, August 15, 2014

Aging. The good and the bad

 I have been kind of emotional today about B lately. He will be 9 in two weeks and he is slowing down. It is wonderful in many ways as he allows so much more affection than he ever has but ....................well it scares me.
I recall so many people telling me when he was young and driving me completely crazy, that the ones that ask so much of you dig deeper in your heart. All I can say is I have poured my heart and soul into him. And when the time comes .....................................

I feel so fortunate that after the knee and the shoulder and the elbow and the lumps and the severe allergies, he heals and keeps going.

There is only the slightest amount of gray in the muzzle so we can pretend he isn't getting old, OK that he IS old.

But he is losing muscle and his face looks different.
For the record so is mine..............both are true here too but I don't look in the mirror much :)

He tires so much more quickly and sleeps most of the day.
Don't get me wrong, don't exercise him and pay the price!

In the morning he attempts to run down the stairs and some days it is clear the old joints aren't oiled yet so my eyes get very big as I wait to see if he'll stop his momentum before he crashes into the front door. (and no, apparently WALKING down the stairs is still not acceptable)

His walks are still trots and he swims for miles now - really. But when he's done, he may have a final short zoomie and then he's happy to crash.

I focus on rejoicing in his happiness and healthiness. I know of way too many dogs lost earlier than this, and so few dogs his size are still going as strong at this age.

Just like with humans, each dog is unique. I thank my lucky stars I got this nutjob :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm fat, and not phat (don't worry the post isn't about me)

Life has changed significantly for me over the last year. For many months I kept my fitness level close to where it was even if I gained a couple of pounds.
Then work got even more demanding and I found myself with zero time for real exercise, I sat at a workstation all day every day, and ate snacks.
This isn't good when you are past your metabolism's prime.
(Seriously this post isn't going to be about me, hang in there)
Then summer arrived with oppressive heat and daily evening storms. So instead of doing something active and fun I decided to have cheese and crackers washed down with a beer or wine or a drink.
Oh dear.
So today I decided was going to be the first day of taking back my body.
Problem is I was missing motivation.

So there I was putting on my running shorts feeling fat and flat, in contrast Bugsy was whining, bouncing and dancing.  Bad news bud too hot for you. The face drops. Dancing ends. He walks off and lies down turned away from where I am.

Just then I thought about Bugsy
This Bugsy
who had just had this done to his leg
The hardest part was keeping him down - a year later this was him

So as if that wasn't enough a year or so later we had this:
That one took some time to heal too, not that Bugsy ever cared

Then another year later he blew out his shoulder which led to him snapping his elbow. One would think this would kind of cause him to slow down and be kind of depressed. What did Bugsy do?
Well he did this
We got him fixed up with a few hitches along the way

Before getting fixed he looked like this


After the botched surgery

After the correct surgery (which pleased him so he chewed large sticks)

and if I fast forward a year, he was back to this


That was a few months ago and he even looks better today.
In fact you rarely see the hitch in his step, front end or back end.

At one point in his travails I put this together



So you see, as I sat there this evening, lacing up my new running shoes, completely lacking in motivation to get my fat butt moving. I thought about how many days Bugsy must have hurt and ached and yet he never lost a moment to self pity, and never lacked motivation to move.
He would say he never has a bad day.
"Focus on what you want and just get it"
(even if your humans say no or go slow or easy or you can't go that far)

So I will look at him and remember the injuries and the rehab and I will get my fat arse in gear and eat less and exercise more.
Heretofore I will say, "What would Bugsy do?"

Um well he'd walk and run and zooooooooooooooooom!



Friday, August 1, 2014

A moment of victory

In April 2011 my previously storm oblivious dog became storm-phobic.
Honestly he had every right to however it was so difficult to see.
Violent tornadoes were touching down all around us. Sirens from car alarms, house alarms, the weather radio, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances were all going off. There was a very odd feeling to the air and the smell after they passed is one I still recall.
A few weeks later our neighbor's house was struck by lightning and a small fire started - the fire trucks arrived full blast to our quiet cul de sac and I saw the panic in Bugsy's eyes.
Another month later and the village idiot neighbor decided to set off huge fireworks in our quiet cul de sac.
And that was that. Bugsy decided that storms were terrible and lightning or flashes of light were the spawn of Satan.
When he was a young dog our own home had been hit by lightning inflicting damage to everything electric from the garage door openers, computers, TV.s AC units and the entire home cinema set up on the third floor - we never figured out exactly where it hit but it was a doozy. That event never bothered him.  However the year after the tornadoes, a tree immediately outside the house was stuck by lightning and it was loud, you felt it in the floor and it once again blew out a bunch of electrical stuff.
Oh yea, Bugsy was now inconsolable in storms. I even got him a prescription for Xanax because we go through daily storms pretty much every July.
I got in the habit of giving him a capsule of valerian root and a dose of benadryl as a storm cocktail and it took the edge off.
Then this summer I started to notice that he wasn't as bad. I kept using a dose of benadryl (he needs it for allergies anyway, I just would leave it until afternoon when the storms usually hit).
Then I began noticing he didn't need that either.
He isn't oblivious as he once was but he is calm.

Today was the real test though. We went to the lake for his weekly swim. We were a LONG way from the docks and the sky blackened quickly. He was hunting herons and still going away from the docks. Hmmm.
I got him turned around and heading in. The rain began and got heavier and heavier.
He remained happy and hunting.
Then the first crack of lightning followed by a LOUD clap of thunder.
No response from him.
We kept trying to make our way to the docks.
The rains were so heavy now I could hardly keep my eyes open as the winds had blown my cap off.
He was still doing his thing.
As we approached the pier I had hoped to pull him out of the water from, I turned around to find him gone.
He had gone out of the water and into the woods. Gulp.
Then another mighty slash of lightning followed quickly by thunder.
My heart raced as I struggled to secure my kayak.
I run up the bank and looked to my left and there he was peeing on a shrub, completely non-plussed.
Pouring rain, pitch black, thunder and lightning and he was absolutely fine.
Suddenly my concern of how much water was going to be entering my new car disappeared as did any thoughts of how yucky the morning had turned.
All I could see was my incredible mutt, absolutely AOK in the midst of a severe storm.
A moment that brought such joy and relief to my less racing heart.
I just looked at him with all the admiration I have in me.

He owns my heart

It's true, he does.
I don't really want to go on and say the things I've said so many times, I know that so many of my friends feel the same way about their dogs.
And I've read so many stories about how unfair it is that they live their entire lives in front of our eyes.  And I agree.
I have also thought, "isn't it amazing that we are with them through their infancy through old age"

Bugsy maintains many of his personal characteristics that are forever youthful, however, there is a softness now to him that never existed when he was a young dog. He is more accessible, more vulnerable. I like to think I am too.

Tonight after a busy hour of destroying toys and taunting his humans I looked over and saw this:




Sleep well my old man, you can start raising hell again about 5 tomorrow morning.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The dog with 9 lives

Well, he's dodged another bullet.
The general vet seemed fairly convinced it was osteosarcoma, however the specialist surgeon immediately determined it to be similar to a previous weird lump made of fibrous tissue.
He then had a check of his joints & aspirated a few other lumps and declared Bugsy a freak.
Nine going on four he said. LOL. That's my boy.
We have been celebrating life by visiting, playing, swimming and generally 'doing' stuff.
Being outgoing brings out the best in Bugsy. I always find it kind of remarkable.
Tonight I decided to take him to a local microbrew, turned out they were having a fundraiser, live music and massive crowds. Loads of people, kids & dogs. Seriously noisy. 
He was so happy, couldn't stop smiling.
People patting him on the head, stepping over him, kids screaming; his response "I love this place!"
I loved to see the differing reactions to him, people stopping for kisses and petting to horrified looks of terror. No matter, he just kept smiling, wiggling & waggling.
Damn I love this dog.
He spent the morning swimming & heron hunting with his GSP puppy friend, helped with yard work & household chores & impatiently waited to go to the microbrew. 
He isn't everyone's cup of tea but I couldn't ask for a better canine buddy.
Thanks Bugsy for being a freak of the very best kind

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Feeling more positive

As the time approaches I seem to be getting more and more comfortable that the prognosis will be good.
I keep looking at my Beastie boy and trying to find signs he is in terrible pain, or ill-health. It just isn’t there.
This morning we took a nice long walk in the sticky white air of the North Carolina summers, he began panting in the first half mile but so did I.
Then we saw a friend, and another friend. Both were greeted with oodles of joy and energy. Much bouncy insanity ensued from all the furry pups.
After that brief interlude of cwazee, we continued on our way. He has taken to checking in with me to see if we are turning around or moving on and he was happy to see we’d continue.
We saw a new human friend (we met yesterday, to Bugsy this is now a friend) and then two more human friends with their dogs.
All the while I saw no hitch in his step, no exhaustion, plenty of drool, but then again that is fairly normal for Beastie on walks, especially hot humid walks filled with canine nuttiness.
His nose is working fine – too fine as per usual.
Yesterday I lost count of the squirrel chases, he clearly feels this is a high priority assignment and he absolutely has to ensure they don’t eat all the bird seed.
He wants all the treats and food you will offer, is drinking fine and eliminating fine.
He is playful and downright funny.
Basically he seems absolutely normal for him.
As Thursday afternoon approaches I am feeling less and less afraid of what I will hear. I have even been thinking that I wish I did the xrays yesterday; however I know this decision is for the best.
So thanks for all the hugs and prayers and thoughts – I sure hope we don’t need them again soon.





Thursday, June 5, 2014

That day

Many of you have followed the convoluted life that has been Bugsy's life.
You know the level of dedication I have had to keep him up and running at Bugsy speed.
You know that in his way he is special.
And you know that I love him in the way that one does when you realize your heart dog is your best buddy, ever.
Well Bugsy is aging.
Remarkably his muzzle remains mostly devoid of gray and his best canine friends all remain under the age of 2.
There have been so many health issues, which seems so odd when you look at this strong, muscled, shiny-coated mutt.
In each instance I have poured myself into finding the right vet to provide the right solution and fortunately it has worked so far.
A couple of years ago the lumps started to arrive. A cyst, a lipoma, all normal benign stuff.
And then a few months back one that seemed different. I showed it to the vet who said, "I'm not worried about that"
And three weeks ago when it seemed to present itself as a "hey, yo, look at this" my stomach dropped.
Today we saw the vet.
No aspiration.
Let's get xrays.
If the bone is compromised, we'll xray his chest.
Let's have that done on Monday.

And this is my boy.
Who several people as they entered the vet's office said, "wow what a handsome dog" and received kisses and tail wags for noticing.
This my boy who patiently tolerated all the manipulations the vet put him through and then wagged and wiggled and kissed the vet.
The vet looking at him as he wagged and wiggled with a sadness in his eyes.
And saying, "aw Bugs" over and over.

I thought I was going to be fine. I am not.
I know we won't know until we get the xrays. However I do know that my boy is nearly 9, is an XL neutered as a baby male and that they are prone to osteosarcoma.
I know that I know three people who's 100-115lb dogs died at 9.
I do know there isn't a damn thing more I could have done for him.
I have sacrificed so much to make sure I was the owner he has needed.
I have no regrets.
I also know I do not know how to imagine life without him.
He is my partner in crime.
He is the being that never says no to an adventure.
He is the being that looks into my eyes with anticipation and expectation.
He is my guaranteed joy.

Pray for my boy
Pray for me
This cannot be his time.