Sunday, December 31, 2017

"you'll know"

Anyone with an aging pet hears these words over and over from meaningful folks who've been there.
I have countered each time I heard it, "not sure I will."
If you had asked me in September of this year (2017) whether Bugsy could be happy without his walks, I'd have said no.
Yet for about 6-8 wks now, we rarely walk and it's only around the cul de sac. I am not sure why he doesn't want to, he isn't limping or panting, but he doesn't want to.
But he's still happy.
He no longer destroys toys, but he still loves them and squeaks them.

He is riddled with lumps (sounds better than tumors) and no doubt in pain but he eats tons, is playful each day, enjoys his yard wandering, and of course demands treats be placed in his toys.

So despite his tendency to nap most of the day, and the occasional collapse, he's been trucking along.

I could see people looking at me as if it was 'his time' as I said he doesn't go for walks any more, etc. then I'd explain how he's fine; old, tired, fighting cancer, but fine.

Until today.
He didn't want to wake up today.
And when he did, his body was hurting him terribly. His legs were unsteady. His face said, "what the hell is happening?"

Today I saw what his final days look like. I hope that he recovers from this episode and has some more 'good' days but I am not holding my breath.
He improved some during the day, but not enough really.
Not enough for him to say hello to visitors.
Not enough to not have his sling in my hand as he walked.
Not enough to say, he's happy.

So if tomorrow is the same, it's time.
I've seen the line now, you were all right, I know.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The dimming light

Here we are about 14 months post diagnosis. There have been some very worrying times during this 14 months and the conversation about euthanasia has been had more than once.
Each time the dog that chooses to live, bounced back. Incredulously so in a couple of instances.

However, time is marching on and his poor body is now weak and tired. 
His spirit remains powerful and proud.
He is riddled with tumors, his one hind leg severely atrophied, and he is in pain.
But his cheeky, playful personality remains.

A few days ago, he was out being happy and he collapsed. I've noticed that when he tries to be active (Bugsy active or Bugsy happy!) the hair on his back raises. In all his years, the hair on his back has never raised. I knew that this was indicating that he was in pain and knowing him it was significant pain.
So how bad and intense is the pain to cause him to collapse and be unable to get up?

Anyway, here we are almost 3 days later and he has continued to be in intense pain. Although tonight he is able to rest, so that is a relief.
This morning, I was once again thinking that his time was nearly here.
And it might be.
All possible pain meds are on board so if he continues to indicate that the pain is intense, it's time.

My promise has always been I will NOT allow him to suffer.

I am writing this, not to garner support for Steve & I, or even to wish for another unexpected comeback.

His light is dim.  Watching the light lose energy is both torture, yet in some ways it smooths the road to his exit.

I am writing and sharing this so that those who love him - and my God there are many - are in the loop and if anything, can wish and pray that in these final weeks he doesn't suffer.
He is the most powerful spirit I have ever known and I am unable to describe the extent by which he has changed me.
It has been an honor and I hope that I do these next few weeks (if that is what we have) right.

Monday, October 9, 2017

yin and yang of life "in the moment"

"In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (陰陽 yīnyáng, lit. "dark-bright", "negative-positive") describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another."

I have read and heard about dogs "living in the moment" more times than I could count.  It has always sounded a bit romantic, but I could see it.

However in the last 9 days, it has been an 'in-your-face' DOGS LIVE IN THE MOMENT. But then do they?

Last Saturday we had another collapse (that was #2).
Sunday, Bugsy was full on Bugsy - no memory whatsoever of scrambling on the ground unable to rise.

Monday morning he was mostly 2.5 legged. And overall the day wasn't great.
The realization for us, his human managers, was he cannot have free access to the stairs.
So we diligently start blocking the stairs; he can be upstairs or downstairs but no solo trips on the stairs for the dog who still thinks stairs are things you run down and try to leap up.

Tuesday off to the vet, it was another day that he had woken up without 4 functioning legs.  In fact at lunchtime he had another "I can't stabilize myself" incident.

After every one of these incidents, he literally seems to immediately have no memory of the 'I can't feel my legs' moment.

Each morning last week, until Friday, he woke up with bad legs and we thought this was the new reality.
He didn't want to eat, was morose but got better as the day wore on.

Friday he woke up with 4 working legs and you'd have thought he was 5 yrs old again.
We humans of course were very wary of his energy but he was as if he'd never had an issue.
It was gone, all was normal life.

Happily, each day since he's had 4 working legs- to varying degrees but 4 working legs.

And Steve & marvel at his playfulness, mischief, energy, drive and attempts at killing himself.

Life in the moment.

But wait a minute, how do we then explain this -
He knows that when we leave, we are going to gate the stairs, so now he has changed his, 'oh you are going to work' routine - he used to go to his bed and wait for a treat.
Now he watches VERY closely and if he as much thinks I am heading out, he runs up the stairs.........

Not so in the moment now are you buddy?
I guess you can't get over the trauma of being held captive on an entire floor of a large house.
Call animal control buddy tell them about this abuse.

Anyway I think its interesting and I have lots of smart friends that will school me on why it is different phenomenon but for now I'll call it the yin and yang of life in the moment.

In many ways - it is the coolest thing to see, one minute ago was so one minute ago.

But then, never forget that time when something you didn't like happened and do everything you can to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Oops he's down again...........and back up again

Well the bad days are closing in.
Bugsy had a bad night and this morning he was subdued and sleepy.
I left to help a pointer rescue get to her foster home and when I got in, I got the usual welcome from Bugsy but with a twist.
He as usual greeted me with a toy, but then I heard him scrambling, and he was at the front of my car. It seemed he was trying to reach a squirrel or other critter under my car.

He wasn't.
He had collapsed again.

I helped him up and stood there holding him up until he seemed to settle. No more than a minute or 2.

Then he shuffled off, had a pee, picked up the toy he had brought to me and went inside, as if, no biggie.

Quick vet contact and she said, "poor guy, his heart is weak"

He happily ate up a bully stick and we are now watching some TV.

The indomitable Bugsy Lee is not actually indomitable.

The end isn't far away.
My heart is both broken and full.
Thank you Bugsy for every damn day.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Another close call, but we are still moving forward

Well we have just had another bad week or so.

On Saturday 9/9/17 Bugsy on an early morning chase collapsed. It could have been cardio-vascular or perhaps orthopedic or both, we don't know and won't ever know.
But since then he wasn't himself.
Oh sure, being Bugsy he had a few bursts of insanity, but everything in between wasn't good.
In fact, it was downright scary.

My heart and mind wandered to all the questions loving owners ask themselves.
Bottom-line, what are the indicators that precipitate making the call?

Back in late March/early April, Bugsy started to have "intermittent" blockages and got really sick. We stopped feeding kibble and started feeding human food. Since then the food issue has mostly been "dang this dog eats my paycheck" rather than a "it's going in but it isn't going out" issue.

But this week I started to think about how much was going in and how little was going out.
After a rough few days, we have things going out again.
And we have a happy, mischievous, if still old and tired Bugsy.

The blockages are caused by lumps in or around his intestines. Could be tumors, could be abdominal lymph nodes (other lymph nodes are swollen), either way there isn't much to be done.

So my Beast soldiers on.
He is skin, bones and lumps.
He walks daily, eats like a teenage boy, steals important papers, trips you on your way out the door, and seems to always have a smile on his face.
He pants incessantly, labors as he walks, but still leaps up stairs (tripping at times) and chases critters.

And he sleeps deeply.
God bless you Bugsy, I don't know how you do what you do, but it's powerful to experience.

I pray that you enjoy life to moment you tell us you are done.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Happy 12th birthday, my monkey

Not sure I have anything left to say about my boy.
After the initial vet assessed him, adjusted his likely age from 6 months to 12-14 weeks, he said a dog this size you can expect about 10 years.
As my husband often reminds me, I used to pet Bugsy and say, "you give me 10 years, OK?"
So here we are at 12.

And even if he were a smaller dog, with the issues he's had, one would not expect him to be here or at the least to be this vibrant.

He has severe food allergies and has had many negative reactions to simple medications.

He has had knee repair, elbow repair, and shoulder repair but generally moves as though no joints hurt.

He's had 7 biopsies in addition to 2 or 3 lump removals and yes I lost count.

I have been told he is likely soon to be gone  3 times, only for secondary labs to clear things.

He was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer a year ago and given 3-5 months to live.

And here we are singing happy 12th birthday.

He still trots instead of walks, chases squirrels, crows and other moving/living things, eats paper napkins and mail, steals shoes, greets you with toys, pushes out of doorways before you, searches the yard for tasty animal excrement, dances for meals and flings treat-holding toys at you to fill. He opens pantry doors to inspect the stock, checks bathroom waste bins for tissues, and is aware of your every next move.

We have bad days and weeks and we've been teetering on the edge of the "quality of life" question but he literally keeps soldiering on.

I am unable to not be in awe of this spirit and creature.

Last Sunday we hosted a gathering at a local brewery for him and 37 people and 8 dogs attended. In addition people from 19 states, Canada and England toasted and celebrated with us.
Bugsy has this aura, this spirit that draws folks to him, draws beings to him.
I am the lucky one to have lived with him all this time.

So as I reflect tonight on his 12th birthday, I cherish each day. Pray when things go south, it's fast so he doesn't suffer.
In the meantime, I'll wake at 5 to walk him, spend half my paycheck on food for him, cook his meals and lie on the floor to play with him or to pet him.

As a friend said earlier, being a dog owner is very task-laden, but the rewards far outweigh the efforts.
The love one feels for a companion animal is different than for a child or a partner, in some ways though it may be more powerful.

So happy birthday Bugsy, I'll be sure to provide you with some fries!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August 1, 2017..............a new chapter begins

About 4 months shy of 12 years, a new chapter has begun.
Since 12/11/05 I have taken on the responsibility of one of the greatest dogs who has also been a most challenging dog.
Bugsy has been my personal trainer over these years, pushing the tempo, running, walking, biking, hiking, kayaking, playing and learning. I have willingly and lovingly been his human through it all.
Last summer was rough, he struggled mightily and I struggled right alongside him. Cardiac issues were ruled out, age was blamed but it was cancer.

As soon as his spleen was removed he was miraculously strong and wild again. That lasted a few months and since the prognosis was poor there were no surprises as he began to have good days and bad days.

Here we are well past his predicted "due date" and the summer has been hot & humid for weeks (we are currently having a reprieve) Although he works hard to do it, we walk daily and kayak once a week.
I feel blessed to be at his side, as he perseveres in the heat, clearly with pain, and with back legs that don't always behave. To watch him struggle, alternating with his signature strut is inspiring.
Seeing his joy as he hunts birds at the lake while I kayak is priceless.

As someone who has been active all their life, I am finding myself in need of more activity. As long as I walk him first, he has at last stopped being insane if I walk alone. During the week though finding enough time to do a longish walk in addition to walking him is tough.
Plus when my heart aches, when I need to contemplate the universe, running or cycling is the ticket.

Last night I signed up to do a half-marathon. I used to run halfs and marathons but its been a long time.  It just seemed right.
Then I texted two women that I knew would be up for it, that I knew would help motivate me and that I knew would train with me while we discussed professional topics that we all are involved & interested in; and they are achievers so once we signed up, it will happen.

So tonight, after Bugsy fell fast asleep, I headed out for a run. I started Google Play and the first song was , "With or without you" U2.

My heart.

I know that due to his fight we are on borrowed time. I will not, nor cannot predict when Bugsy will say 'no mas' but I know its coming.
I know that when it happens I am going to feel extremely lost after 12 years of daily workouts with him.
So tonight the new chapter began.
I will be at the lake with him by 6:30 tomorrow morning and I'll continue to walk him all the other days but I will also run for me.
I'll build my endurance and take longer and longer runs. I'll be glad to have the company of the two women who will race with me.
This half marathon will be the transition. It will help me move from the last 12 yrs to what lies ahead.
Cried my eyes out when I got home.
Figured my buddy was still fast asleep.
You can't imagine the grin when I came home to find him at the top of the stairs greeting me with a toy in his mouth.
If you have had an elderly or sick dog you know that when they sleep it is shockingly deep. To see he hadn't been asleep that deeply made my night.
He was not too pleased by my solo jaunt, sorry bud, it's time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Another day another amazed human

Sometimes I take Bugsy and his indomitable spirit for granted.
Here he is, now 11 months post cancer diagnosis, and still demanding walks, eating us out of house and home, playful, social and mischievous.

We are truly in the awfulness of North Carolina July, heat index has been over 100* for a couple of weeks, morning temps about 80* with high humidity so our walks are very early.
But by golly I better take him for his walk or he is going to be bothering me all day long because I didn't.
Yesterday morning at about 6am lots of folks were out walking in the neighborhood trying to beat the heat.
As we were heading down a cul de sac an older couple were coming down their driveway. He saw them and got his "are you allowed to be out here?" look. Think assessing legitimacy. The wife in the couple looked a little stunned to see him staring at her so I apologized and made a joke about him being neighborhood watch (which he basically is).
She remarked that they were familiar with labs and I said I knew as we had met her husband and Cooper quite a few times. Then she mentioned he seemed tall, so I let her know he was just a shelter mongrel but a good one. Somehow, conversation led to me saying he was nearly 12 and was  battling cancer for about a year after being told he had about 3-6 months.
She just stared at him, studying his face and body as he continued his morning hunt.
She commented that he sure looked well.
They went their way, we went ours.
Later in the walk as we were  on our last stretch the same couple exited our cul de sac. B saw them ahead and his whole body language changed; he had been looking worn out and hot, suddenly he held his body more upright, his pace quickened to a trot and his signature bounce returned.

When our paths met again, she stopped and said, 'my goodness I would never have guessed he was more than 6 or 7 nevermind 11 with cancer".  She gave him some loving, wished us well and said the had an amazing spirit.

Yes ma'am he sure does.

The Week

* This was from September 2016

OK it was actually eight days.

That was set in cycle a few days  earlier.

Let me set the table.

Bugsy just wasn't himself. I am not sure for how long, I just knew it had been a while. So I asked Steve to take him to the vet for a senior panel.

I expected some results to be off but was surprised with having 10 values off and literally none of the values I expected to be off.
The recommendation was to wait a few weeks and rerun the CBC.
However, as that week passed, I noticed  he really was very flat. I took him back in to see the vet who ran another CBC. Pretty much the results were the same.

Next step was abdominal ultrasound and I knew we were looking for a mass on his the least.

Sure enough the ultrasound showed a mass on the spleen.
I am leaving out the unpleasant experience at that vet hospital - just let me say to the folks in the Raleigh area, VSH seems more interested in your cash than your pet.
Aspirate and cytology led to a preliminary diagnosis of a localized histiocytic sarcoma.

That's bad.

Next step, remove the spleen.

There is only one place I want Bugsy to have surgery, that's VSRP (Veterinary Specialty Referral Practice) and with Dr. Jack Gallagher.
When I called, they said they didn't have an available appointment until 9/30 (it was 9/22) after a short conversation, the receptionist said let me ask Dr G and I asked her to mention it was Bugsy.
Within a couple of  minutes she returned and said, "bring him in Monday first thing, we'll do the consult and surgery same day."

And so we did

The amazing little things

*This post was from 2014

So a day after realizing that we could be faced with the beginning of the end, it is amazing how the little things stand out.
How he starts his day with insanity and wild rolling, waking up anyone in the house. To how he has the whole making coffee, getting his thyroid tablet and fetching the paper routine down to a science. In fact he acts as supervisor as I go through each step of my morning. I cannot eat alone, brush my teeth alone, check emails alone, ok you have the idea.  He watches and interprets every move.
He knows each thing I am doing & going to do.
Completely integrated into our lives. 
Greeting us with a mouthful of toys ( I believe it was 5 tonight), making sure he got the treat of his desires, running zoomies, causing havoc and then flopping in the upstairs hallway angled, with his head in the laundry room.
So many little things and habits. Expectations from him and from us. 

I'm sad, but he keeps wagging

*This post is from August 2012

At the end of July Bugsy started limping.
I could tell it was a front leg thing but nothing else.
I rested him. I tried rimadyl, tramadol, and traumeel independently.
Nothing helped.
I took him to the orthopedic vet, who was flummoxed and gave us a very hesitant diagnosis that it was due to cartilage loss in a toe.
I didn't believe that could cause my boy to limp. He is stoic to a fault.
I reduced his walks in frequency & lemgth, increased the frequency of the rimadyl but nothing really changed; my boy was limping as badly as ever.
Then we went away for 10 days. He was here, no exercise with my mom, doing mostly nothing.
When I came home I could see he was in excruciating pain.
I felt so sad. Again I rested him, added pain relief and hoped for a change.
I conferred with the orthosurgeon who eventually recommended a MRI.
I didn't pursue it.
We went to our regular vet for something else and that vet worked poor B over extensively. He found a super painful point in his shoulder and declared it a problem with the tendon that attaches the biceps muscle to the shoulder joint.
He recommended swimming and as little weight bearing as possible.
We've been following that regime for over a month now. His swimming is amazing, he can swim about a 1/ 2 mile with ease now.
But he can't walk without a limp.
Tonight a favorite dog friend came by and another person with a young pup, he tried to play. He wanted to play, but it hurts too darn much. 
Within a few minutes the limp was very pronounced and he wasn't interested.
Bless him for never getting snappy, he is my happy, sweet boy through it all.
When everyone had left, he looked into my eyes and I could see the discomfort. And confusion.
My heart breaks for him. There isn't much else I can do. I have been busting my butt ensuring that he swims at least 3x a week. The swimming improves but he can't walk, run or play without pain.
I spoke to the vet who diagnosed him yesterday, he said to keep swimming him, which I will do. But I sure would like to see an improvement in his ability to walk :(
My poor happy boy spent the best part of a year down and out from the knee injury and repair, I realize this is likely to take nearly as long. 
Their lives are too short to waste years in pain and with restrictions.
Send a little positive thought his way, he deserves to be pain-free

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Still going and still zooming

I find it hard to write about Bugsy these days. And I am not very sure why.
He continues to slowly slide, we have bad days (today was one), he got real thin again but somehow gained a bit back.
Stamina is low.
Sleeps a lot.
But today he caught a squirrel, how in the hell does that happen?

We took a brief trip to the mountains and had a wonderful time but he was burned out for days afterward.

But this week he's been zooming, stealing kitchen towels, chasing ducks at the lake and of course proudly trotting through the neighborhood as he has always done.

He remains so damn happy and silly, you just ride along with him.
Then he has a bad day and your heart breaks.
After not thinking about it for 2 or 3 weeks the bad day hits you like the diagnosis all over again.

He is so Peter Pan like you really think he'll live forever or should I say you can't imagine him not being alive.

We still follow our routines and his joy infects all around him.

So what can I say, fuck cancer.

Now I am going to kiss Bugsy goodnight

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.