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.