Teddy had his second chemotherapy infusion two days ago, and he is feeling pretty good right now. He was a little shaky coming home from that one because they sedated him to biopsy that cyst on his back. I had no idea they would have to shave such a large spot on his back to do it. Now he has a bald spot on his shoulders in addition to shaved strips around his legs and very short fur on half of his tummy where he was shaved for surgery. He looks like a patchwork retriever. He seems to be feeling pretty well now, although the storms last night kept him and Maggie (and, therefore, me and Art) up last night.
What could make him feel even better? Jelly beans...
Teddy had his oncology consultation on Tuesday, and we learned two things. The first relates to his cancer, and that is that myxosarcoma probably is better than hemangiosarcoma, but it is still likely to spread, so he will start cheomotherapy next Tuesday. Teddy's oncologist, Dr. Vicario, related that there is only one study of this kind of cancer occurring in the spleen of dogs, and it included only 6 dogs, none of which were given chemotherapy. Teddy's case differs from the dogs' in the study because he will be given cheomotherapy, and his mitotic index (go ahead and Google it; my time is precious...) was considerably lower than that of the dogs in the study. So, we still have hope... but you can never trust cancer.
The second thing we learned is that golden retrievers are irresistible. I kind of already knew that, but Dr. Vicario confirmed it when he asked why anyone who knows how prone the breed is to cancer would have one...and answered his own question by stating the he, a veterinary oncologist, owns a golden retriever. They are beautiful, loving, gentle thieves of the heart. We also learned that Teddy's surgeon at Ohio State, Dr. Bertrand, had a golden retriever that had to be put to sleep just after Teddy's operation for medical problems not related to cancer, and it was just a year and a half old. That broke our hearts and made us realize that we are lucky to have a dog who has lived long enough to have cancer.
With all of this attention on Teddy, we can't forget about our little Maggie. She was diagnosed with Cushing's disease (again, go Google....) just about a month ago, and she has been undergoing lots of testing and monitoring to confirm the diagnosis and regulate her medication. So, she has her issues, too! We're doing all we can for both of them, and they both seem happy and comfortable.
Or, Happy Hallowiener ...
OK, I admit it...it's more like Unhappy Hallowiener.
I know! And things have been really busy. Since the last post, there was Thanksgiving, and an open house. Congrats to Charlie C. on winning the drawing for a free mini portrait, and to Nancy K. for winning a pair of paw print earrings. Whaaat? Free stuff? Yeah. If you like that idea, be sure to get added to my mailing list so if I have an open house next year, you can come and enter the drawing for stuff. Then after that it was my birthday, and then it was Christmas, and then we had a nice celebration for my dad's birthday in January. 85! And there were lots of portraits to be done in between. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some photos to show you what's been going on....
One year ago today, we lost Sophie following surgery to remove a tumor from one of her lungs. It was the third time in two years that cancer appeared, and we had a difficult decision to make. She was 16 and had had cancer in a less invasive form twice before, but she seemed so happy and otherwise healthy...We knew if we didn't have the surgery, we would soon be faced with deciding which day would be "the day" because she was suffering from coughing spells that were rapidly getting worse. Maybe the surgery would give her some more time and make her comfortable....Tough decisions. We chose surgery. The morning that I took her to OSU, where she would have her procedure, I walked her down the sidewalk a little way, thinking the whole time that it may be the last time I would have that privilege, that joy. So, I videoed that brief walk with the thought that I could experience it over and over again, in case it was her last. I tried not to think of it in those terms, but it did turn out to be her last walk.
She looks so happy, so healthy...not a clue about what was wrong or what was going to happen. Sophie loved an adventure of any kind, whether it was a walk around the block or a ride across town. I'm really glad I have the clip, but I'm sort of wishing I had done it before it was "her last" so I didn't have to think of that every time I watch it. You can see why we wanted to keep things going, to give her more time... It wasn't meant to be, I guess, and until I can walk with her among the stars, I have this, and I thought I would share it with you today, on the anniversary of her passing:
Last Saturday, Canine Companions for Independence hosted Dogfest. I made the 'triever and bone necklace for them to raffle or auction off during their fundraiser. I hope it arrived in time....I wrote down that they needed the item by the 12th of October, but the little secretary in my brain kept telling me that the event wasn't until the end of the month, like the 20th-something. Ugh. I think it made it, but it was unintentionally right up to the wire. Sorry CCI--didn't mean to take you right to the edge.
Also last Saturday, I participated as a judge for a pet parade at Sunrise Senior Living in Bexley. What a delightful bunch of pets, and what a nice group of people.
When they called to invite me to participate, they explained that they are a totally pet-friendly residence. The senior residents are allowed to keep a pet, the facility has three resident pets, family members are encouraged to bring pets to visit, and it's a pet-friendly workplace for employees who want to bring their pet to work. You can't get much better than that, can you? I was so impressed by the way they recognized the value of pets in the lives of their residents that I was really happy to go and be a part of their event, and I'm so glad I did.
There were several participating pets, all of which were adorable and well-behaved and well-socialized. They were all winners!
This sweet guy is Chucky, and he is the official resident dog (and, for last Saturday, the town sheriff). He stole my heart with his calm and affectionate greeting as soon as we walked in to the building. What I did not realize upon meeting him was that he is blind. The vet who tends to Chucky was one of the other judges, and he told us that about six months ago, Chucky lost his vision when his retinas detached. (He also told us another story about Chuck that had to do with his propensity to steal food from the residents' rooms when he was on a restrictive diet. Turns out that not everything he stole and ate was actually food. I won't go into detail, but dogs will be dogs, and I love you anyway, Chucky.) Chucky started out as a pilot dog-in-training (the other judge was from Pilot Dogs--so cool!) but was a little too laid back for a career as a guide dog, so he was adopted by a senior resident at Sunrise. When that resident passed away, Chucky stayed on as the resident dog, and he's perfect for the job. I think he found his true calling.
Just a quick note about an upcoming event... the Wedgewood Holiday Boutique...I am a participating vendor this year. It takes place at the Wedgewood Country Club in Powell on Thursday, October 24 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. There is a $10 admission fee, which goes to support People in Need of Delaware County and buys you access to over 40 vendors, a generous table of hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. So, give a little, nosh a little, and shop a lot! Check out the flyer below:
On a Saturday in May, The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, through its Honoring the Bond program, hosted a Remembrance Ceremony for all the pet patients that they treated and lost in the preceding year. We lost Sophie last October 26th, following surgery for a tumor in her lung, so we were invited to participate.
It took place in an auditorium in the vet hospital which I never knew was there (along with a Subway, which I also never knew was there, despite having nearly starved to death multiple times while camping out at the vet hospital waiting room during marathon visits. )
When we arrived, we were greeted by very kind volunteers and comfort dogs, and given a bag with Sophie's name on it which contained a copy of the slideshow that was to be presented, a small candle, two rocks with "Sophie" written on them, and a package of forget-me-not seeds. The auditorium itself had more boxes of tissues in one room than I have ever seen, with the possible exception of Costco.
There were words of welcome, then a first-year resident vet from OSU (who had also lost a pet in the past year) spoke on gratitude, for our pets and the people who help us care for them, and for the people who help us say goodbye to them. The next speaker was from Schoedinger Pet Services (a funeral home in Columbus that provides cremation services for beloved pets). She spoke on getting through the loss of a pet. One of the many things she discussed in her speech was her belief that ignoring grief results in bitterness, while embracing it, even though it hurts, deepens your soul. The third speaker was a veterinarian who has a practice that specializes in at-home euthanasia. She spoke about finding the courage to say goodbye. In between the speakers, the College of Veterinary Medicine chorus (who knew!?), called "The Hoofbeats," sang two songs, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Homeward Bound" (not the Simon and Garfunkel song), just in case we didn't cry enough during the speeches.
When the speeches were over, the remembrance slide show was played. Everyone who attended had submitted a picture of their pet and a few words of remembrance that were printed below the pet's picture in the slideshow. I believe there were probably between 50 and 70 pets featured in the slideshow. The photo at the top of this entry was the picture of Sophie that we submitted.
After the slideshow, we went out to the little garden along the side of the building, and we all placed our stones with the names of our pets there.
After putting our rock in the garden, we went back inside where we were offered cookies and something to drink, as well as the opportunity to participate in an art project, which was making a memory box. When I RSVP'd that we would be attending the ceremony, they asked how many people would be participating in the art project. I responded that there would be two of us. When I told Art that I had responded for him, he said that he didn't want to participate in the art project, but that he would watch while I did. (I think he was afraid that they were going to have everyone paint their own pet portrait or something....)
Well, when he got there and saw that the art project consisted of cutting up photos of Sophie that I had brought with us and pasting them on an Altoids box (or other box of your choice, which was provided), he picked up the scissors and snipped and glued and ModPodged like a sport. I would even say that he seemed to enjoy himself.
He made the box on the right, while I made the one on the left. I like our little boxes a lot. It seems like the perfect place to keep that little snip of fur you always keep when you lose a pet. I like the idea so much that I plan on making them for each of the other dogs I've lost. I wonder if Art will participate at home?
When we finished our boxes, we spoke with Joelle Nielsen, the social worker in charge of the "Honoring the Bond" program. She had organized the program and we wanted to thank her. She is a delightful person whom we had met before at some art festivals when she stopped by my booth. Then we headed home.
It was a very nice program and it served an important purpose. I think that when other people acknowledge the loss of a pet as genuine and deep, it validates the grief you are experiencing. So I really appreciate Ohio State for doing that. It also gave me a chance to really experience the grief of losing Sophie. I mean, I do and I have every day since she died, but right at the time it happened there was a lot going on with my dad being hospitalized and having complications following his own surgery, and I don't think I absorbed the loss in a way that I needed to at the time. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to experience the remembrance ceremony for Sophie. I will never stop missing her.
Have you seen my tennis ball? The yellow one...I feel like stripping the rest of the fuzz off of it, then biting it 'til it busts almost in half. I started the process a few days ago and lost interest, but today's the day I'm gonna finish it off. I'm just in that kind of mood...
"The yellow tennis ball? I just saw Maggie with that..."
Maggie has it? That's funny!! What would Maggie do with a tennis ball? Tennis balls are retriever things...it's in our blood, the whole retrieving thing...carrying stuff with our soft mouths. Tearing the fuzz off is my own twist on the habit, but definitely still a 'triever thing. Maggie's a dachshund, and a mini one at that. She would probably need a mini tennis ball to even get it in her mouth, but she would probably just look at it, anyway.
OH MY GIANT POODLE! Maggie has my tennis ball! And what is she doing to it?? She's pulling the fuzz off of it, then nibbling the rubber part into tiny bits! Not fair! She doesn't RESPECT THE BALL...Where's the tradition in a dachshund destroying a tennis ball??
It's painful to watch, yet I cannot look away.....
Finally! ...but now there's only a half left, and what's left is all spitty and wet, and not in a good way...
Never mind. I'm over it...
"Teddy...I scraped up your tennis ball. You're not going to l like it. Sorry, buddy. I'll get you a new one at the store. Here...have a piece of cheese...better?"
I'm okay. Cheese makes everything better, but could you keep Maggie away from my sock monkey?
I love dogs. Yep, all of them...big, small, cute, ugly. The little yapper that you could pick up with a pair of tweezers to the drooling mastiff that slings spit with every step. I even feel for those aggressive dogs that I'd rather avoid, because I know it's probably not their fault. I can usually find some redeeming qualities in any dog that comes my way. I always think mine are the greatest (cutest, smartest, sweetest, etc.), of course. When it comes to finding fault with a dog, I usually can find a dozen ways to blame the owner, but not the dog. Here's an example. This is Katie, by brother and sister-in-law's dog. The snarl that you see there is courtesy of my brother. I got to look in on Katie this week while my brother and sister-in-law were out of town for the day, and this look, at left, was my departure snarl. I waved good-bye, she snarled. Like clockwork, every time. I even left to get my phone out of the car so I could take this picture. I came back, waved again. Snarl. Click. Picture taken. The thing is, she actually likes me. She just hates any kind of hand action, like a wave good-bye. This is something my brother has taught her. Not intentionally, but just in the way he "plays" with her. She doesn't trust hands around her, or even at a distance, because she has come to expect some teasing from them. She snarls when you reach to pet her on the head, or when you remove your hand after petting her on the back. Tummy rubs are safe, unless you get too close to her face. She's sweet otherwise, and I have never felt threatened by her, although a paper towel I was using to wipe some eye goop off of her face took it hard....I think that we train our dogs every day, whether it's intentional or not, so I think we should be aware of how our behavior is shaping their behavior.
I did a portrait of Katie last year (to the left). I captures her sweeter moments. Maybe I'll do another one for my brother that portrays her snarlier side...And maybe I'll suggest they give her a new name. How about "Snarls Barkley"?
Teddy loves to be outside, regardless of the weather. I often wonder if our neighbors think it's sad we make our dog stay outside in cold, windy, snowy weather, but we don't make him go out at all (except for necessary business). Much of the time we would prefer he stay in because it's a lot of work sometimes to dry his paws/underside/legs. He seems to forget that he has four paws. He sits patiently while we dry the first three, then he's done. So we're left wrestling with the fourth paw while he's wanting to walk away. That's why you should always go for the dirtiest paw first...Here he is basking in winter's chill:
He finally decided to come back in, leaving a warm little silhouette on the deck. You would have never, ever caught Sophie doing that!
All images and designs are copyrighted and the property of Dana Keating Marziale and may not be used or reproduced without express written permission. Copyright 2011