Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Breakfast for Champions

My full-blooded 11-year-old basset hound Carrie has mast-cell cancer. We chose to let her live out her days in comfort and dignity. We give her prednisone to slow down the tumor’s growth, anti-histamine pills twice a day to help her with the histamines the cancerous cells release, and antacids for stomach issues she may have digesting prednisone. I also feed her twice a day a grain-free dog food with a tiny bit of grain-free canned food to make it more appetizing. On top of it all, Carrie gets a midmorning or midday snack, which consists of a berry-type of fruit (in the photo I’m providing, she’s fed 1 strawberry and 6-10 blueberries), plain yogurt, and a raw egg. Carrie was given 3-months to live on November 2015. Today is January 3, 2016, and she’s quite healthy. I am hoping that my she will have many more birthdays to celebrate on April 15 (he birthdate). And I am hoping that my food choices for her and her younger brothers (the black-and-white dogs also in the photo) are responsible for her longevity.

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

A few weeks ago, I lost my companion. He died in my arms. Then, as he was part of an open adoption, and, as his family is Buddhists, we witnessed his memorial service at a Buddhist temple. His soul was released to find another body. I wished him a human body that would love animals as much as he was loved. Many animals are neglected, abused, and unloved. We need more advocates and more humans who love and respect others as they would want to be loved and respected themselves.

Dudley’s soul’s release was my release to find another dog in need of a home to be loved and to be cherished. I will never forget Dudley, as I have not forgotten my four-legged family members who were there before he joined our family:

  • Tzippy (my first beagle and my first dog),
  • Ginger (my first basset),
  • Cinnamon (my stray dog),
  • Cori (my basset after Ginger died),
  • Basil (my first foster, my first foster failure, and my first adoptee),
  • Zack (my bagle (beagle-basset mix),
  • Cocoa (our mutt from the Island of St. Maarten),
  • Brie (our first cat),
  • Cammie (our white cat who loved to terrorize our dogs),
  • Bailey and Dudley (our fist bonded pair and our first open adoption case).

No, you never forget them. The new arrivals just mend your heart. They give that piece of their heart that fits into the hole the previous pet left.

So, this time, after Dudley left us, how did I mend my broken heart? Well, I adopted two bonded brothers from BROOD. They are 11-mothn-old bassaniels (basset-spaniel mixes). They make me smile again. But more importantly, they make my Carrie happy again. Introduction took literally 2 seconds. I placed the pups behind a gate in a room. Carrie came in, sniffed them while her tail was wagging so fast. We let the pups out and within seconds the three of them were running in our yard together. And that’s when my broken heart was really mended. It was mended when I saw my old, soon to be 11 year old, sick with cancer dog perk up and play happily with her kind.



Carrie and Nigel Sleeping Together

Cancer Kills—Cancer Sucks

I intended to write about my adventures with two dogs with cancer. Today, I’m just pouring my sadness to you.

One of my dogs who had cancer (Dudley) died. He died on New Year’s Day in my arms while we were driving to the vet to euthanize him. He was a great dog. He had an annoying and demanding bark, but he didn’t’ have a mean bone on his body. He got along with everyone. He was my Velcro dog (so is Carrie, by the way). Everywhere I went, he was there with me.

Dudley (January 14, 2004—January 1, 2016)

Single Doghood

Now, my other dog, who also suffers from cancer, is a single dog for the first time since she came to live with us 2005 when she was she was 9 weeks old. For the first time since 1990, I have a single dog and not a pack.

The Bridge and Gasping for Air

I’ll never forget Dudley’s last struggle for air and how limp and relaxed he felt when he died. It took me a few minutes to realize that he was gone. At first, I just thought that he was struggling because he wasn’t comfortable. He had so many tumors and many were so big. Then when he relaxed, I thought that he found a comfortable spot in my arms. But, actually, he was gone.

I hope that there is a Bridge, and I hope he met with Bailey, the dog that preceded him in death. Dudley and Bailey were adopted together. They were a bonded pair that I heard through BROOD. We had a open adoption with their former “slaves.” Their former slaves and us became friends and consider ourselves family.

Life and Sorrow Is for the Living

Life goes on for the living. But there’s definitely a big difference, and we feel that his presence is gone. The house is quieter. There are no demanding barks for food. I now have to look at the clock to make sure I don’t miss the 5 p.m. meal. He never let me forget it. Carrie is quieter. She doesn’t demand. Dudley, on the other hand,  was on my heels at 4:30 p.m., reminding me to not forgetto give them food.

And Dogs Mourn,Too

But let’s not forget that the surviving dog is also mourning. Carrie is morose. Her snout is longer, and looks unhappier than most of the time (bassets always look sad). Yesterday, when I called out for food, she barked and ran in every room, looking for and calling Dudley to come and eat.

Also, the finality came to me at yesterday’s 5 p.m. feeding. Every day, just before each meal, each dog got their own medications for their illness. I covered the meds in peanut butter. One dog got the right hand “treat,” the other dog got the left hand treat. Yesterday, only one hand was needed. I cried. I missed him.

Also, every day, after the meds were distributed, I would pick their bowls to insert their meals. Yesterday, I absently picked Dudley’s bowl as well.

What Dogs Will to Us

Sadly, dogs leave very few properties when they leave: a bowl, a collar, a leash, a bed, etc. However, they also leave a big empty hole in your heart.

I went through so many losses in the 33 years of dog loving and dog rescuing. Nonetheless, I go ahead and open my heart to break again and again. There’s always a needy dog waiting for your love. My heart has an empty hole. A new dog, will come and fill that hole by giving a piece of his or her heart. It’s just like this saying:

Dogs will us their heart. One day, my heart will be all dog, and I’ll be so proud!

Living with Dogs with Cancer

I currently live with two basset hounds. Living with Bassets hound is nothing new for me. I have been sharing my home with the breed for over 30 years. In the past 30 years, I’ve lived with about 8 bassets (and many other mixed breeds, as well). I’ve had single, as well as packs of dogs. So, I encountered all sorts of health problems. This time, I have something new to conquer. I now have two bassets suffering with cancer. I did have two dogs that were euthanized because they were suffering with the final and debilitating stages of cancer. But their cancer was discovered late and there was no longer time for life. This time, my dogs are terminal, but still having time to live out a little bit longer with their disease. I will try to describe our journey together.

Dudley—Spleen and Lymphoma

Meet Dudley. He’s soon 12 years old. He’s his adopted. We have an open-adoption arrangement with his former family. It’s a win–win arrangement. Dudley and his family get to see his each other fairly often. We get so see his puppy pictures and get to know his temperament. And, to boot, a great friendship developed among the humans.

In June 2015, Dudley was diagnosed with lymphoma. His illness started with various blood tests demonstrating anemia and an enlarged spleen. When his spleen was removed, it was a bloody mess and weighed 4 pounds. The lab work came back positive for cancer. Dudley was extremely sick after his surgery. It took him 2 weeks to recover. He had no interest in food, water, and life. Lucky for all of us, on the day we were going to have him euthanized, he perked up. In fact, he was wheeled into the ER hospital for euthanasia, and on the way to the building from the car, his sweet face perked up. He was not ready to go to the Bridge. He received care in the hospital, and 24 hours later he came home to slowly recover.

We chose not to administer chemotherapy. He was so sick just with the surgery. We didn’t want to add more to his misery. We currently give him prednisone for comfort and some homeopathy medicine. We figured that at this stage of his life, it can’t do him much harm. In October, we were told, he didn’t have much longer to go. It would be a matter of a few weeks. Today it’s December 14. He’s still here. We are blessed.

Carrie—Mast Cell Tumor

Meet Carrie. Carrie came to live with us when she was 9 weeks old. Her father was of champion lines. Carrie was going to be trained to be a therapy dog. Life intervened, and she remained a pet. One day, in October 2015, my daughter noticed a hard growth on Carrie’s genitalia. As Carrie loves to sleep outside near the bushes where we had a nest for wasps, we thought that she may have been stung by them and was having an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, once she was checked out by the veterinarian, she was diagnosed with mastocytoma (mast cell tumor). According to PetMD

Mast cells are cells that reside in the connective tissues, especially those vessels and nerves that are closest to the external surfaces (e.g., skin, lungs, nose, mouth). Their primary functions include defense against parasitic infestations, tissue repair, and the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). They are also associated with allergic reactions, since they contain several types of dark granules made up of various chemicals, including histamine and heparin, serving biologically to modify immune reactions and inflammation. Mast cells are derived from the bone marrow, and can be found in various tissues throughout the body.

We chose not to do any surgery on Carrie because the procedure would be from her vaginal area to her thigh, across her belly button, down back to her vagina. The recuperation period was 2 weeks. (Horrors of what Dudley went through crossed our mind). She was given 6 months to live without any intervention, 10 months with surgery only, 14–18 months with surgery and chemotherapy. She was not going to be comfortable during the process. I’m not even discussing the cost ($10,000), which we were willing to meet had she been promised a better outcome and better conditions.

Currently, Carrie is on prednisone. We take each day one at time.

Next entry will be how dogs on steroids behave.

A Personal Rainbow Bridge

A few days ago, I got my copy of Dog Fancy and in it was an article about “Memorializing Your Dog.” That article hit home. I had so many of my pets go to the Bridge. Of course, I have a multiple-pet household, which means that I will have many more pets leaving us at some point or another. So, I’d like to share with you how I handle my own memorial.

When our first pet died, a guinea pig named “Sparky,” we buried him in our yard and the children made some rudimentary marker that was way too fragile to put in the ground. Then other guinea pigs joined, as well as a number of hamsters and birds. I planted a small bush around the small-pet cemetery. Twenty-five years later, that bush is huge.

When our first dog, Ginger, died, we had her cremated. We were going to bury her in the “pet cemetery,” but never got around to it. My daughter didn’t want her in the ground where she would remain if we were ever to move. So, I put Ginger’s ashes in one of the shelves of one of our bookcases. Not too long later, other dogs followed.

The place where time stops

The boxes that the crematory gave us became too big and numerous to hide in the bookcase. It was time to look for another place. Just about that time, a faux grandfather clock that my Dad gave us when I was a young bride broke. The clock handles broke, and the clock no longer was telling time. I placed Ginger, Coriander, and Zack Curry behind the clock. They were placed where time stopped.

Now, that clock houses Cinnamon, Basil, Camembert, and my Mom’s cat, Cirmi. It is where all my pets will go. That’s my way of memorizing them. Someday, as this song says, I will be gone too. Then, my pets will be going with me. If I’m cremated, my ashes will be mixed with theirs and spread. If I’m to be buried, I want them in my casket. What is your way of memorizing your pets?

Can Dogs Count?

I always wondered whether some animals can count. I came to a very unscientific conclusion that mine can.

Basil Houndini

About 14 years ago, my first foster and my first foster failure, Basil Houndini came to live with us.  (I don’t know why the rescue world calls a foster who becomes adopted by the foster family as foster failure. To my mind, that’s a classic case of adoption success.) We called him Basil, because he was our fourth spice; and we called him Houndini, because he was an escape artist. Basil, besides having a tendency of wanting to roam (no he was not intact—he came to us neutered), he also had a tremendous sense of humor. Some we shared and overlooked; others annoyed the crap out of us.

His most annoying idea of fun was his tendency of disobeying and running the other way when it was time to retire. We have a rule that every dog in our household (fosters, babysittees, and permanent residents) understood: bedtime meant that everybody goes up the “mommy’s” and “daddy’s” room to sleep. Everyone had their own bed and everyone would retire to it as soon as they heard “bedtime, time to sleep.” However, as soon as we would say “bedtime,” Basil would run down to the basement, to another room, or wherever struck his fancy. He would stand there waiting for us to try to catch him and then run away as soon as we got too close. It was a nightmare. So, we devised a method of outsmarting him. I would carry a spoonful of peanut butter and have him follow me. Eventually (5 years later, LOL), he would come up without the peanut butter. By then, we had treats in the bedroom to give out to everyone just before it was time to retire.

I loved Basil. I still do. He died on April 27, 2010 of renal failure. There never was a dog who so struck my family’s heart string.

Anyway, I digress. When Basil died, a few months later, we opened our hearts to two additional, bonded seniors. Dudley, who was then 6 and Bailey who was 10 years old. They soon learned of the treat routine. At some point, though, our treats went from one to three for each dog. It didn’t dawn on me that they knew how to count till one day I forgot to give out the third treat.

I found myself being stared at intently by four dogs, who after having eye contact with me, would look up to the place I keep the treats and then look back down at me. Obviously, they were saying you missed one. A few nights later, I purposely left out one of the treats. Once again, I received the same treatment: staring at me, then to the place the treats were being kept, and back down to me. I started mixing up the types of treats, thinking that they were really missing the flavor of the last, and, thus, giving their signal that I missed giving that one out. Didn’t matter which treat I’d left out, I’d get the “treatment.” Interestingly, they never gave me the “treatment” after all three treats were given out. They would quietly retire to their beds.


So what do you think? Do they know how to count or not?

RIP Cammie

Sometimes I can’t report about dog news, especially when my heart is aching for other reasons.

Just in case you are wondering, I am the admin of Patrick’s Voice: Animal Abuse Awareness (Maryland). Most of the time, I report about animal abuse and anything related to dogs, whether amusing or disturbing. I am owned by 4 dogs, and, up until Tuesday, May 17, 2011, I was also owned by a beautiful calico-white cat whom we named Camembert and nicknamed her Cammie.

For the first two years of her life, she lived in the streets on the Island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. My daughter’s best friend honeymooned there and rescued Cammie and another kitty. She kept the other kitty and Cammie came to live with us. According to my vet, Cammie was about 2 years old and had had kittens. We spayed her and made sure that she was to be an indoor cat. I know that I may have robbed her of her “freedom,” but I know that I have added a secure life for her. She never had to dodge cars and avoid cat fights. Her only problem, if you can call it a problem was to live with 4–5 rescued dogs. The dogs knew that Cammie ruled.

All in all, Cammie was a sweet kitty. She loved to sit on our laps. Every day, after I showered, she would come and sit on my lap and purr away. If you sat down in chair, you were always in danger of getting your clothes full of long, white kitty hair. Cammie would run

Cammie yawned when I took this picture. But I loved how threatening she looked.

to you, give a high-pitched meow, and you were hooked. She’d leaped on your lap, and she would be in kitty heaven.

Cammie and my husband had a strong bond. Every day, after we came home from work, hubby would go down to the computer in the basement and check e-mail, etc. Cammie would give him about 2 hours. After the 2 hours passed, she’d come down looking for him. He’d go up with her to our bedroom and they’d watch TV together. She’d lay on the bed with him or sometimes, she’d go on the window sill to look outside. This was an everyday occurrence with those two. I’d always called her his “girl friend.”

Sadly, we didn’t know that she was ill. But once she showed us signs that she was not doing well, she went downhill fast. On Saturday, May 14, she was her old self. On Sunday, she was a bit quieter, but not enough to alarm us. On Monday morning, we noticed that she was acting unusually quiet.

Cammie loved to sit on the window sill and look outside. Now that the days were getting nicer, we would open the window and let her listen to the birds chirping, a pastime that she absolutely loved to do. It was always her habit to spend part of the evening on the sill and then sometime during the night, she’d come and join us on our bed. Sunday night she spend on the window sill and never joined us in our bed. She never left the window sill, not even to eat or to use the bathroom. When we looked in on her, we saw that, rather than looking and listening for the birds, she was lying down, looking sick. We took the day off and took her to the vet.

Our vet X-rayed her and gave her an ultrasound. They found a massive mass around her heart, her liver, and another in her jaw. There was no hope. We were going to euthanize her on Tuesday night. But she saved us the agony. She went quietly in her sleep in the hospital.

I take comfort that Cammie is at the Rainbow Bridge with her dog siblings who went there before her. I am hoping that she is enjoying the chirping of the birds while she waits for us to join her one day.

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