Friday, December 2, 2016

off to the beach

It's been a fun and full 9 weeks since the splenectomy.
The energy has been extraordinary, I mean EXTRAORDINARY.

All just adding to the legend of Bugsy Lee.
It's hard for humans to comprehend, he's flying through the air - literally - while you are thinking how sad it is he has terminal and aggressive cancer.

Lake trips with wild goose chases.
Long, FAST walks.
Puppy play.
Zoomies, zoomies and more ZOOMIES.

But this week, sleep.
Lots of sleep.
Deep sleep.

Visible discomfort.
Choosing to be next to me as much is possible.

My God the lumps.
We have this morning routine where he rolls around while I massage his joints, rub his belly, and feel for lumps.
Seems like new ones daily.
Small ones under the skin.
Large ones in the "belly".
And all sorts in between.

Because life is short.
Because you only have today once.
Because the light is fading and it will not be re-lit,
Tomorrow we will drive to the beach.

I want to see him feel the sand in his toes again,
I want to see his nose tilt up, ears flapping in the wind, taking in his universe.
I want to see his heart burst with joy
And I want to see and hear him sleep deeply, having given the day all he had.

Tomorrow we'll drive to the beach.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Seven weeks agp

7 weeks ago today we found out that Bugsy had a mass on his spleen and that  it was an aggressive cancer.
Life changed in this house on that day. For the humans at least.

Bugsy not so much.
Like most dogs he just wakes up in the morning, eats, drinks, pees, poops, explores and looks for trouble.
He takes things in stride so I took him for the surgery, he did well, he was a nightmare coming out of anesthesia, came home the next day and wanted to just get back to his life.
25 staples in his gut went unnoticed by him.
He immediately seemed better.
He gained some weight in the first week after losing for months

As has been our experience, the toughest part of post op was trying to keep him from being too active and crazy.

Two weeks post op, staples removed, we headed to the beach and he was Bugsy. Running, zooming, digging.
People would ask about his shave and I'd tell him he just had his spleen removed and had aggressive cancer and was 11+.  I will see their faces forever.
My amazing dog, a force of nature.
He defies his age, his injuries, his illness.

Tonight 7 weeks post-diagnosis of a cancer they gave him 3-6 months to survive, he remains well.
Happy, cheeky, active. Silly, loving, and pushy.

The world is in turmoil but my dog and I inhabit a warm, fuzzy, silly place.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The cancer roller coaster

I'll get straight to the point of this post: We were told via cytology and biopsy that Bugsy's tumor was a histiocytic sarcoma - a localized version that unfortunately had attacked the spleen.
For the record splenic carcinomas are BAD.

But the surgeon - who I respect highly - mentioned there were additional tests that are more specific. So I agreed to do them.

Would you believe it came back NOT histiocytic sarcoma?
If you know Bugsy and his history, you would.

The surgeon was happy. Our regular vet was happy. I was fairly happy.
I sent the lab report to my good friend that works at the vet school and she shared it with one of the oncologists.
Well the fact it's a rare cancer was confirmed. So rare that there aren't many studies on it - he provided snapshots of three, one was 20 yrs old - and no real idea as to what if any chemo helps.
Still feeling buoyed by all the vets saying this was still better than histiocytic sarcoma I was hit hard by the oncologist statement that it wasn't a "better' diagnosis due to the "high mitotic index".
For inquiring minds it is termed a "nonangiomatous and nonlymphomatous splenic sarcoma".

So that is the background.

Bugsy has continued to feel quite well ( according to observation) and that means that he is constantly living on the edge of being in trouble.  Which has kept me from really thinking about the situation.

In the evenings it hits me pretty hard, it's odd, all of a sudden I think, "OMG no Bugsy?"
I truly cannot imagine and I wind up sobbing. But it passes quickly. All very strange as it is literally a wave that passes as quickly as it arrived.

The last few days have been a bit tougher. Due to his obsessive digging at the beach, the return to daily zoomies and not being on adequan for a couple of months, his shoulder is killing him.
It isn't too bad but then he decides to zoom.  Once it's over he can barely walk but he doesn't seem to regret the decision to zoom.

It reminds me of how weak he is. I rub the shoulder or massage his upper back and am so aware of the muscle loss.
I want to remove the pain so he can enjoy life to the full these last months.

I want to hold him (which occassionally he'll allow). I want him to know how much he's loved and that it is OK if he doesn't want to zoom.

The beauty of Bugs is that he WILL zoom, likely beyond when it is even physically possible. Because his heart explodes with joy.

And here are the tears.
I have been exceptionally blessed to have such a beast in my life for so long.  I still can't picture life without him.
Tonight I'll listen to his sleeping sounds and drink in all that I can.
I'll allow that slow deep breathing to calm me and to bring me to peace and sleep.

Good night sweet boy, thank you for all you do, even the bad things.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Here we are at the Atlantis, where we have visited 2x a year throughout most of Bugsy's life.
This is the place where I think we realized that people were drawn to him. I cannot recall a stay here where we didn't wind up in a long conversation with someone about him; what is he? wow he's handsome, people stopping to laugh at his antics, in the later years people commenting on how well-behaved and sweet he is.
In some bizarre way, I think all dog owners feels some sense of pride when people compliment their dog, even if it has nothing to do with the human. I am no different.
I have enjoyed the attention as it wasn't on me (which I find uncomfortable) and Bugsy absolutely loves it.
The comments on how well-behaved he is still elicit a wry smile from me. If only they knew the REAL Bugsy.

This trip though it's a little different.
Sure he's made canine and human friends and the compliments have been numerous.
However, this time people see the shaved belly and ask.
So I tell them he had his spleen removed less than 3 wks ago.
Then they say something similar to, "wow he's doing great! is everything going to be OK?"
"hmm, no. He has cancer, the prognosis is poor"

Then comes the but he's so young, he looks so healthy, my goodness he is beautiful and sweet.
A few have teared up, I imagine they too have lost a dog they love.
They love on him and he eats it up.

My heart pretty much fills and explodes.

I trot along the beach with him, still reminding him he is supposed to be WITH me.
We play in the sea.
He greets all the dogs and remains non-plussed with the ones that want to take a chunk out of him
He sticks his head in the mini garbage can (this is a beach only habit)
Nose punches the fridge
Digs in the sand, being sure to have you in the line of the flying sand.
He scours the beach for crabs to hunt.

And he goes up and down the 3 flights of stairs to our room first thing in the morning, last of the night and multiple times a day with no additional effort.

They are just an obstacle between places he wants to be and things he wants to do.

To him this trip to the beach is just like the others but with more naps.

I haven't done too badly at being there with him, but when folks ask about the shaved belly I am thrust back to reality.

So, kind strangers, please don't ask. Let my boy and I pretend we are just hanging at the beach as we always do this time of year.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Happy 11th birthday

Happy 11th birthday Bugsy. When I selected this day to be your appointed birthday, I chose it because I knew a great human who was born on Sept. 1st and who lived 101. I thought it might be a good omen to share her birthday.
I have too many feelings and thoughts to write here about how fortunate I am to have been adopted by you.
I will say this, you inspire me every day. EVERY day. You fascinate me and entertain me. I try to replicate your genuine gratitude and joy to live. I try to be the kind and strong soul that you are.
I promise to do all that I can to comfort you as you age and to continue to be the owner you deserve.
Love you buddy.

PS could you let me in on your secret to not graying - I am losing the battle!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Follow the path that lies in front of you (and a huge thank you to all my dog connections!)

Today I did my first transport leg for a rescue organization.
I have wanted to this for years but my life and the path never collided. 
This time it did.

The texts had started early, telling of her progress, so my mind was on this all day long.

It is a simple task but it feels important. Just meet one person/car and drive to somewhere to hand the dog to another person/car.  
But it FEELS good!

I discovered it was a puppy and only 25lbs so I ran out to buy a crate for safety.   And I bought a couple of cute collars and a leash.............and a cute pink bag to put it all in. And treats.

I packed toys, water, a bowl, secured the crate in my very suitable car, added some cushioning and hurtled down I-95 to meet the previous transporter.

As I prepped , I had a quick question of crate size; I reached out to my Facebook friends. As I tagged people in the post I had to start laughing because it would have been easier to add everyone and just untag a few people.
Over my 10+ years of Bugsy ownership (er, management) I have connected with extraordinary people. 
"dog people"

My experience of adopting Bugsy from our SPCA turned me into an advocate and fundraiser for the SPCA
My experience of owning the devil in black/brown fur brought me to many - MANY - of you for help.
By knowing you, I met other people who did great things for dogs in need.
Each of you prepared me for today. 

Today one friend quipped I was, "the best prepared transporter ever"
Damn that made me smile - you all taught me good.
I can't list all of you as I would forget someone for sure. 
I hate when folks say, "you know who you are", but you do.

You taught me to open my heart.
You taught me how important this is.
This being anything you can do to help.

The dog community is a community of big-hearted people who step up. Proud to have joined you.
Thanks for grooming me.

The other day I shared this:

Time is the most valuable thing a person can spend. -Theophrastus

Very true.

It is also the thing that when you spend it, you get the best reward.

So a heart felt thank you to each of you, you do know who you are.
I promise to keep following the path that unfolds 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I take my chances

Weeks away from the day we'll celebrate his 11th birthday, he and I went for a hike today.
Great park in the middle of North Carolina that promised mountains (albeit short ones) and a big river. (Morrow Mountain State Park)
The weather was about as good as you can ask for in August in NC; overcast, humid, but reasonable temps (77 at the start and 88 when we finished).

No need for a blow by blow of the day - it is all bittersweet at this point. He's been struggling all summer and other than "he's old" we don't have much to understand why. His one rear leg is bothering him and we attribute it to arthritis from the knee repair.
This means that we didn't hike miles and miles, just a few. One mountain trail and one by the river. We both enjoyed ourselves.

Although much has changed in his 11 years, one thing has not: the Beast only knows how to trot at a mighty clip. Apparently walking just isn't part of his makeup.
Today's mountain trail was covered in slices of rock - I don't think it was shale but it reminded me of shale in that it was sharp shards. I worried about his paws as he trotted and at times slipped as the gravel moved under his feet.  He never slowed, worried or seemed to notice.
Another habit that has been a constant is to walk on the very edge of mountain trails so that one wrong move and you're off the trail and on a descent.
Concerned about his less agile creaky joints I tried to move him away from the edge.

Nope not going to happen.
Each time the scree moved under his feet my heart jumped.
He survived, my heart survived and this song kept running through my head.
Definitely a theme song for him. "I Take My Chances"

So great to take a road trip and be on the trails again with my buddy, his desire hasn't faded one bit, but his body has.  
All part of the life cycle and I am so very lucky to have him and be able to do what we did today. 
I admit it's hard to see him work so hard to achieve what his heart wants to do though.