Friday, April 17, 2015

And more firedrills

SUMMARY: Continuing the timeline.

I'm wiped out, crushed, bruised, stabbed, thoroughly broken-hearted, and struggling to even breathe. Still in shock and grieving 20 ways. I can barely believe any of this.

I've gone from losing my wonderful Tika a month ago, to the diagnosis of stage 4 cancer 3 weeks ago of a person important in my life (for whom I've attended some oncology appts), to finding that I'm losing my wonderful Boost to cancer.

A week one wouldn't want:

I went from Friday
--Boost has some things going on that are odd but doc can't find a thing wrong with her so let's do some tests--
to Saturday and Sunday
--Boost eating slower and slower and acting slower and slower--
to Monday
--Boost's liver, kidney, pancreas, and blood numbers are bad--
to Tuesday
--Boost definitely has liver disease that can be eased somewhat depending on the cause but it's not good, oh and the chest X-ray shows some things that could be bad or maybe not--
to Wednesday
--yes she has cancer in multiple organs but her blood clotting is too bad to take a biopsy so it's my choice that that's the end of it--


to Thursday.

First thing in the morning, a friend through agility who's a vet offered to look at Boost's info if I wanted. So, sure, of course I would (grasping at straws, indeed).  I called my vet to ask them to fax Boost's info to my vet friend. Late in the morning, i called her to confirm that she'd received the info. She thought that there's a chance that it could be lymphoma rather than the other bad thing that's been diagnosed (and everyone's guessing w/out a biopsy). And lymphoma--if Boost can tolerate the treatment--she says can be slowed way down with an excellent (yes excellent) quality of life for maybe 6-7 more months.  Which is a good percentage for a 10-yr-old life.

So I call the recommended oncology place. They can't get me in until Monday without a vet calling them.

So I call my vet friend, who calls them, who then calls me back, and I call them to confirm the appt that she set up for 9:00 tomorrow morning.

All of that takes me to about 1:00.  And I'm having periods where I'm having trouble breathing.  This is not asthma.  I tried to work but couldn't. Sat in the car and did some deep-breathing relaxation exercises, some mindful meditation (OHHHH that was hard to do) and finally slept for an hour.

Then, to wrap up the afternoon, a visit with my important person and their oncologist where they're going to up the chemo dose since it's being tolerated OK at a minimum dose.

I'm useless for any purpose. Play with Boost, who still drives to the ball but wants to stop and rest quickly and often.

I barely slept.  Mind whirling around my choice to go see the oncologist. I had said that I wasn't going to. And then gave in to my own despair, and I'm not sure that's the right choice. But I'll go. And this makes me clearer--if it requires too much medical commitment for Boost, we're not doing it. She's not going to spend a lot of time in vet's offices or hospitals. And I don't really think that I want to spend many thousands of dollars for that little return for her or me. This actually is helping me to clarify my feelings and thinking.

Friday.






This place's parking lot has a lovely, peaceful setting with benches and lawn. 

And, Chip wants to mention, many, many, many trees.




The specialty vet place has more very busy receptionists
 than my vet has employees in his entire practice.



A very nice other patient who was waiting for her cancerous cat said
she loves taking photos, too, and would I like her to take a photo of both of us?




Another vet visit? When will the inhumanity end?


Met with the oncologist, who reviewed the records and Boost's history and symptoms up to now. We talked for a while.

Basically, she came back with what I went over with my vet--Boost's clotting factor is too low to do a biopsy without the risk that Boost would bleed out and die right there. She added this-- that they'd have to do probably 2 platelet transfusions just to get to where they could do the biopsy.  She also confirmed my vet's feeling that anyway Boost's condition is pretty far advanced, so it's likely that the treatment wouldn't be effective at this point.

Because, not only everything else, but Boost's body is breaking down more all the time, as now she has some jaundice which she didn't on Wednesday when my vet checked, and now she has a heart murmur (likely result of low red blood count) which she hasn't had with both of my regular vets checking her Friday/Tuesday/Wednesday.

Oncologist wasn't enthused about doing transfusions or attempting treatment, and I was absolutely not even interested in doing that. We left with a prescription for prednisone. This is supposed to actually ease some of the problems with and symptoms with the liver and her appetite. For a while.

In other words, essentially she's in hospice care. Besides the prednisone, I have that prescription for tramadol (same as me) and famotadine (pepsid) and the antinausea drug. And that's it. Might or might not take her in again if some specific thing seems to go awry that might be something they could ease or fix, but I'm leaning towards not.

Today, I cannot work or do much of anything. I'm going to try to sleep and do more relaxing and meditation.

MAGIC.

Over the last week, smooth floors have suddenly lost their evilness.  Apparently feeling ill leaves one with no energy to concern oneself with demon-spawned floor coverings, since obviously they can no longer hurt you more than you're already hurting. Dammit demons of all kinds.

Lobby--evil floor? Not. But Boost would like to mention that there is
a perfectly serviceable exit door that seems to be available for immediate use.



Examination room--evil floor? Not. But Boost would like me to notice that there is a perfectly serviceable exit door that we don't seem to be currently using at its highest utility value.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oh my little Booster

SUMMARY: Cancer

Boost is dying. You wouldn't know it from this video today.

video

This was all so fast. And I haven't been posting here.

Timeline--

Last July, when Boost started scratching uncontrollably again, I put her on prednisone again for a short while.  Which meant that she wanted to go out once or twice a night. At that point, my back was seriously awful, and the pain associated with getting out of bed, downstairs, opening the door, and all that, was too much to bear. So I left my bedroom door open and left her with access to the yard. Tika was delighted with this arrangement; she almost always had wanted to sleep out on the deck or downstairs on the cooler floor.

Fast forward to Tika's death on March 9th.  I returned to the old standard of having the dogs closed in my room and everything closed up.  But Boost--who hasn't been on pred since that time last year--still wanted to go out anywhere from once to three times a night.

I wasn't sure whether it was just because she was used to doing that, after all these months, or whether maybe she had a bladder infection again (she's had a few in the past).  I was too tired to get up with her and see what she was doing, so I went back to the open door policy.

I did watch her a few times. She'd sniff slowly all across the yard, pee, and sniff slowly all the way back across the yard. I felt sad for her--I'd always wondered how she'd figure out where to pee after Tika was gone, because Boost ALWAYS peed where Tika had peed.

Too tired all the time to want to see whether it was a get-used-to-having-the-door-shut issue or a real issue, so I let it slide--and, of course, once I had given her free access, I had no idea at all whether she was going out at night, except once or twice where she whine/moaned insistently until I woke up and went downstairs with her.   So I really let it slide.

A few odd things happened from time to time over the last month:

  Once she went upstairs one...step...at...a...time. We had played a lot, but I didn't think more than usual, but assumed maybe she's got a little arthritis.  But shortly after that, she might be racing down the stairs full speed. Then some other time she'd go up or down slowly again.

   She'd act often as if she had little energy---she'd play intensely, but then want to lie down after each ball retrieval.  Well, she's out of shape, and so am I, because of my pain levels and not getting out and about.  So, whatever.

   Her main job has always been to bring in the paper in the morning.  A few times,  she'd walk out instead of dashing out, but the next day she'd dash. One day last week she walked out...like...a...funeral...procession...  brought it back slowly to the front door and dropped it there instead of taking it into the kitchen. The next couple of days she was OK at it, but wandered around on her way to the paper as if she didn't really want to do it, or even had forgotten.

  She's been really avoiding playing with Chip. She has usually played enthusiastically with him at least once a day, but now didn't want to.  I thought, maybe all of this is arthritis, don't know.

 A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that she was eating her food at about Chip's speed. When Chip first came home, here's how the eating speed went:  Tika sucked down her food before Boost was half done. Then Boost finished. Then I'd watch...Chip...eat... and wonder how a healthy dog could possibly be so slow at it. I mean, really, it took him a full minute to eat 2/3 cup of food.

   And then Boost ate slower than he did. And slower. And slower.

Wednesday and Thursday last week.

She had uncomfortably soft poops.  Eating even slower.

Friday.

In the  morning after we got up she threw up (nothing much in her tummy) out on the lawn.  And then it took her FOUR minutes to eat her food.

So it was just too much. I called to see whether we could see the vet. My regular guy was out until Monday, and the receptionist asked whether it could wait until then.  Wellllllll  all those little things, but particularly the eating slowly..... no, I didn't want to wait. Suddenly it felt very important to get her in for a checkup.  They were able to squeeze us in around 4:00 that afternoon with the other vet in the office.

I hustled the dogs into the car without giving them the usual opportunity to pee in the yard, hoping that Boost had enough in her for a urine test. The vet checked everything about Boost. No signs of pain or swelling or bad temperature or bad heart or bad eyes or arthritis or anything in her mouth that might be slowing her eating. Was able to get urine and blood samples, but said that the poop currently cued up inside Boost (she stuck a finger in to see) looked perfectly normal, so she didn't think that a stool sample would be warranted.   So everything looked completely healthy.

I hope that meant maybe a urine infection, even though I wasn't sure how that would explain everything else.

Told me that my regular vet, Dr. K, would call me with the results Monday afternoon.

Took the dogs for a short walk at one nearby park, and sure enough, Boost had a completely normal poop.  Everything else, completely normal walk.

Weekend.

One day, when she went out to get the paper, she was so randomly distracted by things that it looked like she had forgotten all about her favorite morning thing.  I finally called her back, then sent her out again, and she rambled around.  Finally with coaxing she brought in the paper.  Like she had completely forgotten how to do it.

One of the mornings, I put down their food bowls with their 2/3 cups of kibble, left them eating, and went upstairs.  I took off and put away my nightclothes. Washed my face.  Took out all my pill bottles and counted/sorted an entire week of morning & afternoon pills into my pillbox. Finished my morning ablutions. Poked around in my t-shirt drawers trying to decide which to wear that day.  Chip had appeared somewhere in there. Picked out socks and underwear to match, got dressed head to toe, found my watch and put it on, and went downstairs. Boost was STILL eating.  Yikes.

Monday.

Dr. K left a message while I was at work. I had raced home in hopes of catching his call ("race"--hah--took me an hour in nasty traffic because some guy was standing on a key overpass and two freeways were blocked so everything in the valley was at a near standstill).  They close at 5:00, and I was able to call just after 4:30.

He squeezed in a quick talk with me, where he said that her liver and pancreas numbers were very ugly, also white blood cell count high (infection or inflammation of some sort) and her red blood cells low (anemia) and some other bad numbers that I tried to scribble down while he talked.

He said, if you rate the level of complications that this could add to my and your life, this is about 10 out of 10. He said, I need about an hour to talk with you, as soon as possible.  Can you come in tomorrow morning at 8:00? Bring her and we'll do some screening x-rays.

Not much sleep that night, you betcha.

Tuesday.

Sent her out for the newspaper. She was somewhat excited about it and did it fairly well.

8:00 -- She definitely has liver disease and pancreatitis, but these things can easily be symptoms of something else. (Yes yes ys, I did spend time last night reading and reading and reading and the list of things that these could be symptoms of was very long and mostly bad.)  He said, oh, don't read all that, it'll make you crazy. Let's get the x-rays done.  (This is a summary of a Reader's Digest version of the hour-long conversation.)  To save me a hundred bucks or so, I said, just do the chest x-ray and let's do ultrasound on her abdomen instead of x-ray.  He said that he thought that he could get the ultrasound guy in on Wednesday.  He kept Boost and said, come back at 2:30.

2:30 -- She was a good girl about lying mostly still and they were able to get chest x-rays without any sedative.  But they were a bit ambiguous.  Vet thought that there was either a swollen lymph node or maybe it was just a muscle overlapping a bone.  And a gray spot that shouldn't be there, but to me it looked just like the gray spots that he said were blood vessels or other things.  he said it could all be nothing; he'd want the radiologist's opinion (the guy who comes in to do ultrasounds.)

He took a blood sample to test its clotting ability in case there was something that they'd need to do a biopsy for.

So bring her back first thing in the morning.

Not much sleep that night, you betcha.

Wednesday (today).

Sent her out for the newspaper. Or--rather--tried to. She just stood in the doorway. I walked out to the driveway and she walked next to me. This is not normal. I picked up the newspaper and offered it to her.  She took it as if it belonged to her and trotted--not ran, just trotted--back into the house just ahead of me. Sigh. Poor goorlie.

8:00 a.m. Dropped Boost off for her ultrasound.  Doc wasn't sure when they'd be finish, but he'd keep me updated.

Cried a bit as I drove Chip to another nearby park. There, we practiced some things -- with a pocket full of Zuke's mini treats-- such as walking on a loose leash, looking at me regularly, coming to me when I said Come (that was mostly a failure, dangit).

Got home, and just after I walked in the door, the vet's receptionist called and said that Dr. K would like me to come in at noon so he could talk to me.

Noon.

Doc came into the room and said, it's bad. It's the worst it could be.

She has lesions in her kidney, liver, lungs, and lymph nodes. In other words, whatever cancer she has, has already metastasized--spread throughout her body.  It could be in other places, too--like, maybe, the brain.

Her blood clotting test went poorly--apparently the liver makes the blood-clotting factor, and it's malfunctioning, as we already knew, so they decided not to take a biopsy at that time.

We talked a bit but there wasn't much to talk about.  Keep her happy and comfortable. Make sure she's eating and drinking and eliminating properly.  He'd be glad to refer me to an oncologist but thought that any treatment could make Boost sick and probably wouldn't gain much time anyway.

I had already made that decision, not going that way for Stage 4 (incurable) cancer that's all through her body.

The warning is--she could go at any time, depending on what tumor did what and when. Could be a stroke, even.  Or I said some major seizures like Jake had that fried his brain (or vice-versa).  Could be tomorrow.  Could be a month or more. Maybe.

l am sick and numb and stunned and angry and miserable and heartbroken.

At home, we went into the yard and I took that video. She still looks alert and attentive. She still goes after the ball like a rocket, still plays tug.

That is most likely her last visit to the vet. I've got tramadol now in case she looks like she's in discomfort. famotadine to ease her stomach and help her eat, and an antinausea drug as well.

I'll be doing one day of score table for SMART this week, and I'll take Boost, and people can say goodbye.

And I'll try not to neglect Chip, who has looked very worried and followed me closely everywhere the two times I left Boost at the vet yesterday and today. Damn.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Hats hats hats! and Hat days!

SUMMARY: Well, at least we can learn some things

Well, as near as I can tell so far, today is not Hat Day--not:



but, since I like hats, to make up for it, here's a fun, educational, interesting read on styles of men's hats!

https://scheong.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/mens-hats-a-brief-history-a-look-at-the-hat-in-the-21st-century/


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Scared Border Collie Bingo

SUMMARY: A treat from Team Small Dog

I laughed out loud at this Border Collie Bingo, now that Team Small Dog includes an actual border collie. I've had so many discussions with people about their over-sensitive BCs! I guess this is the dark side to their amazing ability to notice and respond to the slightest change in a sheep's path or an agility human's body language. So they respond to the slightest change in anything, or the slightest unfamiliar thing.

And oh Boost had SO many things that she had to bark at in a scared way when she was younger. The rock in the yard that I moved earlier, that I moved earlier and she watched me move it. The chair in the yard that I moved earlier while she was there. The table in the yard that I moved earlier while she was there. The big black garbage bag of leaves whose edges were blowing in the wind. A branch blowing in the wind. Plastic bag in a shrub. Plastic owl on the shed! Yes! Anything driving by and hitting a pothole. Pet stores. Dead things in vendor stalls (e.g., "rawhide" is a thinly disguised dead thing). Remote control car in the street. Footballs not being caught and hitting the ground. The cartoon drawing of a dog above a door!

And as you likely know, she saved up until she was 3 or 4 to become scared of Evil Floors.

Team Small Dog sez -- "Play along with me. Border collie bingo! Click-n-print version over here!"

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Ultimate Creative Ideas Straight From the Brain

SUMMARY: While dreaming--

Woke during a dream last night, turned on the lamp, groped for the pen and notepad that I keep by my bed, because I had forgotten something very important. Jotted it down. And, while I was at it, made a bulleted list of some other important things.

Turned off the light and went back to dreaming.

When I woke up in the morning, wasn't even sure whether that had happened or had been a dream. Ohhhhh it happened all right--




Friday, April 03, 2015

More Finchester Yellow Photos

SUMMARY: Such cuties.

Previous Finchester Yellow comparisons:

AmberRemingtonChip

The ears really tell the story.

Harder to tell in this photo: Amber is all yellow (no black on face), while Rem and Chip both have black muzzles.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wolfie Snow Dog

SUMMARY: Tika loved the snow.

Her whole life, people's first impression of her was, "She looks like a wolf!" (Or, when younger and scrawnier, a coyote.)  I didn't always see it, but sometimes--yeah.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Speaking of Changing the Environment--

SUMMARY: Yep, blog appearance changed.

Just felt as if, like other things in my life, it's time for a little change. Dang, should've done a screen capture of the previous format. C'est la vie.

So here's a capture of the new format. This should look freaky.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Clearing Away

SUMMARY: It's not that I don't want to remember Tika--I do--but I don't want things ambushing me everywhere I turn.

After she was gone, I started right away in clearing away everything that I knew would sucker-punch me in the gut if I were to see them.

In the first few days, I:


  • Picked up, washed, rolled up, and put out in the garage all the extra carpets that I'd purchased and gradually spread more around the house to help her get to her feet or stay on her feet. Most she hardly ever had a chance to use. I hadn't realized how quickly she was declining that last week when I bought several of them.  
  • Oh, and peeled off all the sticky reusable carpet holders, washed them in warm soapy water, and put them back into their storage box after they dried.
  • Emptied her weekly pill minder and hid that away. 
  • Offered all her meds to my agility club (most, no takers), so bundled them up--along with all the specialty foods and samples and baby food (lots of jars) that I had bought for her and dropped them off at the shelter.
  • Removed the carpet stair treads that she never used. (Took me four times longer to remove than to install--that was most excellent double-stick tape.)
  • Took her leashes out of the car and the front hall closet and put them into the garage for storage.
  • Likewise her food dish.
  • Washed the harness that a friend loaned us over 2 years ago for temporary use.  Not sure when I'll be seeing the friend again, so it still hangs in the laundry room, where it, yeah, sucker punches me every time I see it. I suppose I should package it up and mail it.
  • Cleaned out the special quilt and harness and water dish for her sleeping area in the car.
  • Took her ramp out of the car.
  • Gave the other 2 dogs what was left of the baby food and snacks that she didn't finish the last couple of days and tossed the rest.
  • Have been working at emptying (by feeding to Boost and Chip for meals) all the fractional bags of kibble that had accrued because she has been picky about kibble for so long now--a year? more?--and I'd rotate through a variety over a week or so. So far I've emptied 12 bags of various sizes, have almost emptied another. Have 5 additional open bags and one unopened one that I bought that last week because it was a new one to try.
But.

I can't put away or dispose of all the places and times and actions that hit me suddenly when I encounter them.  I open the garage door after coming home, and there are only 2 dogs, and I wonder where-- oh.  After 2 years and 4 months of dispensing pills and treats every morning and every evening, no breaks ever, suddenly that ritual is gone and I feel an emptiness about that time every day, or when I think, Wait, did I give her her med.... oh.

When there's no dog lying on the back porch in the cool evening air.

When I think that I should go check on her to make sure she's OK.

When I pull out the bully sticks and give out only two.

When I can take Boost and Chip for a walk and don't have to make time to take her for her own, slow, walk. Wish I did have to make time for it.

When I pull out the treats and she's not instantly there, obsessing about how to get me to give her some.  The other dogs are not nearly that involved with their treats.

Noticing the ribbons and championship poles and plaques on the walls and remembering that they're almost all hers. And we'll never ever do agility together again, or anything.

So many things.  Crap, I didn't think that this would all make me cry, but of course it does.

I have been looking at photos of her, evening after evening after evening.  I think that maybe I'll pull out a big selection of them and make a slideshow. And then I think that I couldn't stand to do so.  But I can look at photos. As long as I remember to remember how much fun we were having and to not remember that she...

Yeah.

Chip is lying here with his head against my arm. Warm.   Boost is dozing on the floor near my place on the couch. They're good dogs.

But.



Oh, Teek.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

She's Done With It

SUMMARY: Now doesn't want to eat anything.

During the afternoon, she happily ate most of two Girl Scout peanut butter sandwich cookies (a few pieces at a time, spread out) and probably a large handful of Zuke's minis (over 2 or 3 opportunities).

But she's now refusing the ground beef "soup" or even the broth or the meat separately. And the baby food chicken. Ate one Zuke's just a little while. Took four more into her mouth, then gently laid them back onto the floor.  Didn't want any of the fish or rice that I cooked for myself. Doesn't want peanut butter sandwich cookies now.

I wanted to give her fun things to eat. Hope that they're not actually the cause of her feeling worse--but I don't know how this works.

I just can see that she is, now, pretty much done.  I hope that someone is available to help us on tomorrow morning (Monday).

Ice Cream

SUMMARY: A tiny treat, a few licks and small bites.

For pretty much her whole life, Tika has eaten standing up. It's as if she couldn't eat while lying. Now, the last 3 or 4 days, it's all lying down.

Also, in the very old days, when she was done eating... oh, wait, she was never done eating. OK, in recent months, when she was done eating (yes, there'd be food left), she'd turn abruptly and go out the dog door. That was her clear message. Now, in the last few days to a week, while eating lying down, that's not an option, so she-- well, OK, hold on a moment:


OoooOOOH, that MIGHT be interesting, if you'd stop taking photos and actually give it to me.


Oh YUM! Nom nom nom.



I AM DONE NOW.

Really? Are you sure? Do you want some more?

I AM DONE NOW.


Holding Steady

SUMMARY: Sunday morning, first day of Daylight Savings Time.

Despite the fact that I slept fine Friday night (except for waking briefly to check that she had made it into the house, which she had), I didn't sleep much last night. Cried a lot. Coming to the conclusion that it will be kinder to send her on her way than keep her here breaks all the dams.

It's so hard to know with dogs. If I were in her state--aware, intelligent, able to eat, could go through the doggie door on my own--well, you know what I mean--but otherwise in a failing body, I don't know whether I'd want to continue.  I don't mean failing in any random way (I'm thinking of Steven Hawking, of course), but in this way, with organs failing and looks like no hope of recovery.  I applaud the right-to-die states that make it legal for someone with a fatal illness that's nearly done with to take a painless way out instead of a long drawn-out agony. Would my friend with cancer have chosen that as the last weeks came and everything fell apart? I don't know.

Anyway, Tika's about the same this morning. Mostly just lying there. Not going towards the light, yet.



Had some "beef soup" eagerly, but again not a lot.

However, she was delighted when I started tossing her pieces of my English Muffin Sausage/Cheese/Egg Sandwich. But-- she wouldn't move if I missed my toss and it was just out of reach, instead just staring intently at it until I came downstairs and fixed that.

(The other dogs gladly move around when there is food afoot for Tika.)



I've said through most of her life that, if Tika had a bowl of food and a squirrel ran past, I don't know which she'd choose. She had a very strong prey drive, and yet she loved loved loved her food. More than any other dog I've had, I think. (And, oddly enough, was one of the pickiest eaters I've ever had, which maybe ties in to how picky she's become over the last year or two.)

So--she is aware--watches me, sometimes, when she can, especially if I have food, but usually doesn't move anything but her eyes to do so. She is intelligent--still can "shake" and "touch" when asked, even if lying down, and just Friday I think was the last time that she was standing up enough for me to ask her to do Right and Left and she did. And she does still loves food--well, depending on what food and when/how often it's offered.

I don't know whether she's in pain. But her body is so clearly failing her.

I'm going to go try some ice cream on her for size.

It's Almost Over

SUMMARY: My good old girl.


Friday evening.

Message from the vet when I got home in the evening, giving initial blood-test results. Summary: "She's only somewhat anemic but in 90% renal failure." Details for my records:
  • Anemic: 36-60 is normal and she's 30.
  • Kidney measurement 1 (didn't catch the name): Normal is 6-31; in September, she was 78; now is 125
  • Creatinine: 1.6 is high normal and she's at 3.1
  • Phosphorus 6 is high normal and she's at 9

Vet should have rest of tests back Monday and we'll talk then.

Tika ate a whole jar of babyfood turkey, quite a few Charlie Bears, and--something I haven't tried in a while--maybe a quarter of a stick of string cheese (don't want to give her too much dairy at one time). That's a good "meal", one of the best in the last 3 days. Even if I do have to break it up into small servings every 20-30 minutes or so. She's still walking around on her own when she *has* to.

But--Tonight was the first time in her life, other than when she was out of hearing range, that she didn't greet me at the garage door when I came home. Just lying there on the carpet and panting. I have tears.

She has kept on going way beyond any predictions ("2-3 months") when the heart failure was discovered that ended her agility career (Nov 2012). Good old sweet noisy talented annoying clever now-skin-and-bones Merle Girl.

Saturday morning.

She wanted to be out on the lawn when I went to bed. This is normal, except that before now, that would be the back porch. Lawn usually during the early evening.

I didn't leave the sliding door open although I wasn't sure whether she'd be able to get through the doggie door on her own.  I woke up at half past midnight and went down to check on her. She had moved inside onto the carpet and was sleeping soundly, so I guess the dog door was fine, so I left her alone and went back to bed.

This morning, was in a different spot than when I went back to bed, so she is moving around on her own, just oh so rarely. I did insist once that she stand up (I'm leaving her padded harness on all the time now so that I can haul her or help her to her feet as needed) to be sure that she still could stand, but she went right back to where she'd been.

Her gums were pink again this morning, so ... intermittent anemia? Could be: Internal bleeding. Sporadic failures of the heart to pump enough blood. Random other things.

I cooked up a batch of ground beef, added a bunch of water, and gave that to her--I think that she's not drinking much now, so more liquid the better (except, oh, yeah, yesterday she was still insisting on drinking out of that rancid pond out there, walking right past the water dish)--and WOW she was absolutely delighted to make the acquaintance of Tika's Special Beef Soup.

Saturday evening

I left the house for a few hours after that, and then the rest of the afternoon and evening, same things--she laps/eats eagerly for a very short time and then is done again. She's not getting tons of food or liquid this way.  I added minced cooked green beans later to her Special Beef Soup, and she didn't mind that.

Still, not eating very much at any one time. Mere mouthfuls, really. Still happy to take a few mouthfuls more 20 to 30 minutes later. Until yesterday, Charlie Bears were awesome, but now they've joined the list of things that she won't eat. Can still walk out through the dog door to the back yard, but now can't remain standing after squatting to pee. After a rest, can get herself standing and moving again if she thinks there's a good reason to, which mostly she doesn't seem to. But still likes to have the ol' ear/face rub.

When I'd check on her, she'd usually be where I last left her--but then she'd suddenly be lying somewhere else. So, very little mobility. She's become like the Racetrack Playa stones in Death Valley: she has moved, but no one sees her move.

I found her at the base of the stairs inside the house twice; she maybe wanted to be closer to me in the living room, but not sure whether she tried to go up and slipped, or just lay there deliberately (or couldn't turn around and so lay down as the only other option).  The problem with having spread no-slip carpets out for her is that now I can't hear when she's struggling.

I don't think this is a good life for this dog.

I will talk to my vet Monday morning.

I've got the numbers for a couple of mobile vets who also do in-home euthanasia and I'll call them, also, and talk to them.

How odd--my face is all wet.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Update Post-Vet Visit

SUMMARY: Anemic.

Yes, Tika's breathing is labored as I noticed at home particularly last night. But the doc says that her lungs sound clear, despite still having a lot of fluid in her abdomen. Means that probably the right side of her heart is doing worse that the left side, because the left side more likely causes fluid in the lungs.

Her heart rate is much better than it has been in recent visits--I said that's probably because she's out in the car having the vet check her instead of in the office.

No, there's no sign of infection in her mouth--in some ways, darn it, as we could have thrown antibiotics at it.

When he took her inside for a blood draw and brought her back out immediately, he said that she was very good and probably the sedation contributed--I said, there is no sedation, I didn't give her a pill this time, that's all her deteriorating health.

Yes, her gums are pale. OMG they're almost white this morning; last night they looked pale to me, but not white.  So--very anemic.

And now, back home, I'm realizing that I'm recognizing the symptoms of anemia from when Rem had his cancer and it would rupture and start bleeding out. Lethargy, staggering when trying to walk after first standing up, lying there and looking around as if in a fog.

So we're doing a blood test. It might give us something useful. For example, if her organs are closing down, then that could cause the anemia and there's not much that we can do--it's been a long time coming.

But if all it shows is that she's anemic, we're back to the question of--how much testing do we do to figure out what exactly is causing it? On a 14-year-old dog with congestive heart failure who has outlived her predicted lifespan by two years?

But also, how quickly will the results come in, and will it be too late by then?

Vet says that he looks particularly at four things: Can the dog eat, drink, pee, and poop on their own or with minimal help from me? Then they might not be done yet. But it's becoming an observational game, I think, as in, is her quality of life good?

She has yet to miss greeting me at the garage door when I get home (except when she's been somewhere where she couldn't hear it.) That includes last night, even after not wanting to eat much, not wanting to walk much, and mostly just lying there. One of the other dogs bumped into her, though, and she droopped to the ground-- but, still, she was there.

I'm not sure whether that's enough. As of yesterday, she hasn't wanted to come up the steps to the couch where I spend most of my home time now, so she's a bit isolated--although she was always pretty independent and often spent her time outside or in another room anyway.

Soooooo,waiting for blood test results, some of which might be available this evening.

Worried

SUMMARY: Tika not doing well

She hasn't gone up any stairs since Wednesday evening (it's now Friday morning).  Wednesday evening (before yesterday's post), she didn't want to eat much. At a few mouthfuls of juicy canned dogfood. Ate a couple of teaspoons of Gerber baby chicken/veggies. Ate several Treats and several more of a different kind of treat, then vomited up the latter.

To summarize yesterday's food:

Morning: Most of a watered-down tiny jar of baby-food chicken. A few treats.

Evening. The same.

She's moving herself around--she stayed out on a far corner of the lawn last night, and when I checked on her during the night, she had moved inside to the den, near the stairs. Don't know whether she tried to go up and gave up or didn't even bother. I suspect the latter.

And this morning she's back out into the yard.

I have a vet appointment to see whether there's anything obvious like an infection, maybe do a blood test to see what state she's in-- renal failure? Something else? -- it's just that it has been such a fast slide from 2 weeks ago.

My long-time vet (multiple dogs, 30+ years out of that clinic although he's younger than that--at any rate, his whole career spanning a good portion of that) has agreed to come out and look at her in the car so she doesn't have to go in to the vet, which has always overwhelmed her (gave her tranquilizers until recently).  The receptionist told me that he never does that. So I'm grateful, but who knows what he can really check there.

Feeling: Scared.

I love you, Teek; hold in there.