a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: 2002

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Still Doing Well

Remington has been very happy today. Managed to do the UpsideDown Dog Thing in the morning--which has been a while--and several times yesterday & today grabbed his furry toy(s) and nursed on them for a while--another sign that he's happy and comfortable and looking for something to do. Also hasn't been interested in doing that for quite a while. So I think he's been only half healthy again for a couple or 3 weeks.

I'm busily signing up for Feb & March agility trials. I don't know what to do about Remington. Usually when we're at trials he won't lie down or relax until he has had at least one run, and he's clearly distraught when I take Jake out to run before I take him out. And taking him for a walk hasn't worked in the past to trick him--he knows perfectly well why we're there and what he's "supposed" to be doing.

So I'm signing him up for 2 or 3 runs a day as usual. I figure that he can run if he feels up to it, and if he shows the slightest signs of not feeling up to it, I'll pull him without hesitation and--well, I guess the wasted entry fees are a pittance compared to his medical bills.

Maybe I should be signing him up for only 1 run a day. Except that you never know in advance which classes will run first, so if I pick one and it's the last one of the day, that defeats the goal of getting him out and running in at least one class.

Plus the other thing I'm thinking about--besides the general vulnerability of his tumor & its likelihood of rupturing--is how out of shape he's going to be. He's done almost no running and jumping of any kind for almost 2 months. So maybe I should just plan on doing the first run of the day and pulling him from others.

And I should probably also be getting him out to the park more to give him a chance to trot or dash around and see what happens. Such a fragile between being cautious and letting him enjoy himself! Argh--

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Playful Leaping Remdog

After snoozing soundly and thoroughly since Thursday evening, he woke up today feeling pretty good. "Ahhhh, I feel pretty good!" he said, yawning dramatically and rolling onto his back on the bed. Unfortunately, the Upsidedown Dog Thing made him do a little of the cough/gag Thing, so he stopped that, but he jumped right up to go downstairs with us instead of remaining curled up and droopy like he has so often the last couple of months.

Went for a nice walk and he was alert & rarin' to go. In the back yard, whereas lately he has been climbing onto the hot tub via bench & table, today he leaped directly on & off just like his old self. Did some play bows and, when asked to do tricks, did them rowdily instead of subDudely (subDude--not making it quite to the Dude level in energy & enthusiasm).

And this morning he's lying on his bed but his eyes pop open wide & his head comes right up every time I do something interesting--like adjust my weight in the chair or scratch my nose. Much much much better.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Things are Looking Up

Remington's red blood cell count is up to 33 this morning, which is very good. Means no more bleeding & he's recovering rapidly. Hallelujah!

He spent all last evening and this morning really snoozing--which he does to a certain extent anyway, but he's really crashed out this time--so he's still in recovery mode. But he's looking good.

He's got a bit of horking/gagging going on, which vet says might be from the fluid still in his chest, might be some stomach upset, hard to tell without x-rays. I opted against xrays since it wasn't clear that they'd change anything. Now he's on pepcid AC twice a day anyway.

BTW--you might have read about Lucky, the little terrier set on fire by some truly evil boys just before xmas. Well, he was in the crate next to Remington during some of Rem's stay at the vet's. You can read more about the poor little guy at http://www.sbvs.com/luckie_fund.htm.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Remington's Home!

Remington just came home a few minutes ago. Good news is that his red blood cell count has been steady all day, so presumably he's no longer bleeding, but he's still very anemic (about 25). Because of that & because he was bleeding for probably (i'm guessing) the better part of 3 days, I'm supposed to keep him quiet "for a while" (days? weeks? I can't believe I ask so many questions of the vet and still get home with more). He's acting SO much better with the red blood cell transfusion. He just got dinner and is crashed & snoozing on his bed in front of the heater vent, his favorite spot (unless he can find some sunshine to lie in).

I need to take him in again in the morning for another blood check, but we think/hope that the immediate danger has passed. They gave him a full-strength dose of his adriamycin, which the tumor has reacted well to, hoping that it might give more of an edge in reducing the bleeding from the tumor. However, since this is his 3rd dose, they pointed out that the tumor does develop some resistance and has probably already done most of its major responding in the past. I'm a little hazy on this part, but as long as it doesn't make him worse, that's fine.

I'm so glad to have him here. It's like a 50-pound anchor has lifted and set me free again. I know that we're not completely out of the woods yet, and that there'll probably be more episodes like this, and that the end is still coming sooner than anyone could want. I'm trying to brace myself.

Thanks, everyone, for your support.

Hour-by-hour update/bad and good

Just spoke to both the night vet and the doctor at South Bay who's taken over for today.

Rem's blood count had actually dropped to 17 last night just before they gave him a transfusion. 37 is normal; he was 36.9 Monday at 10 a.m.; dangerous range is 15-20 depending on how rapidly the dog is losing blood and how well the body is adusting to the lower levels of red blood cells.

Night vet said Rem tolerated the transfusion very well (dogs can actually have bad reactions to it the first time around, too). She also said that the blood type was a perfect match (they have to see what they have on hand before they can do a transfusion). After the transfusion (which I understand takes about 4 hours), the count was 24. (how many sentences with parenthetical notes can I cram into one paragraph?)

Today's vet is going to recheck his blood count a couple of times today to see whether it's dropping again. She did stick a needle into his chest cavity to confirm that the fluid there is blood. She also saw what I mentioned when I took him in Tuesday evening, that his stool looked dark and maybe he had some bleeding in the intestine. I don't know what else one can do to narrow that down if the abdominal xray didn't show anything (but he was also full of #2 at that time, too--).

She also thinks that maybe this means that the cytoxan isn't having a reasonable effect on the tumor and thinks they might want to give him a dose of adriamycin now instead of waiting til Monday; she's going to try to get in touch with the oncologist today to see whether that makes sense. (I didn't ask but I get the impression the oncologist might be trying to be on vacation?)

If he's still losing blood, they might also give him another transfusion.

Soooo they're expecting to keep him all day today and maybe I can bring him home this evening.

Now I'm going to go over and visit with him for a while again.

Remington Has Entered the Building

Forgot to mention--the regular South Bay staff has Remington doing a raft o' tricks for his goodies every time he comes in now for blood tests, check-ups, or whatever. They all have a grand time together. There is some overlap between South Bay & the Emergency clinic, since they share office space & turn over cases to each other morning & evening.

When I dragged into the Emergency clinic late on christmas eve, exhausted and worried, the young lady at the desk (whom I didn't immediately recognize) took Remington into the back. Just after they stepped through the door, going out of my sight, before the door closed, there came a delighted chorus of "Remington!" It's nice to know I've got a dog that the staff knows and likes and enjoys.

Not good, but not terrible--yet--

Vets keep reminding me that Rem has a fatal illness and that any continued existence is luck and borrowed time. Folks whose dogs have had cancer tell me that there will be lots of scares and bad days. None of this makes it easy when something goes less than well.

By Christmas midafternoon, Rem's red blood cell count had gotten down to 20 and they were talking about doing a transfusion. Found out that, once a dog has had a transfusion, an additional transfusion has a higher chance of giving a bad reaction--I guess the dog develops antibodies or resistance to the foreign material. So they don't want to do a transfusion unless it's really necessary. (OK, I guess that's true for *any* medical treatment--)

I asked them to do an abdominal xray as well, just in case the bleeding could've been something unrelated to the tumor, but the abdomen looked clear and the part of the chest cavity that was visible had fluid in it, which is what we'd expect from a tumor rupture (that's why they cut the window in his pericardium, actually, to let the fluid drain away from his heart).

I sat with him for about an hour and a half late xmas afternoon, and he seemed tired to me, even when I took him out for a walk, which he should've been excited about. But, at the same time, his red blood count was back up to 23, and it seemed to have stabilized in that 20-23 range by 10 P.M. We hope that means that the bleeding has stopped. And in fact while I was with him from about 10-11, he seemed perkier than he had been earlier in the afternoon.

Still, the night-duty vet felt that a transfusion of red blood cells would still be a good thing, since he did seem droopy. Would give him more energy to deal with life and recovery. I now also know that there are at least 2 types of transfusions they're discussing here--(1) red blood cells (which carry oxygen) and (2) plasma (which includes clotting factors); platelets are a whole 'nother thing.

I'm waiting to hear back from the vet this morning on how the transfusion went and how he's doing today and whether he can come home. The person answering the phone this a.m. said that the doctor was with another patient, would call me back; that Rem was doing well and would be transferred to South Bay (his regular cancer-treatment vet) this morning when the emergency clinic closes down. I was hoping I'd hear back from the emergency vet again before she went home.

He's been over there for going on 36 hours and I really miss having him here and hate to think of him all alone over there (it's a nice big crate with lots of room & dog-friendly staff, but it's nowhere near being at home).

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Christmas Morning Blues

My freshly ex spouse came over late Xmas Eve evening for some finishing touches on present wrapping. When we came down from the attic around 10--me with still a lot of ribbons & bows to add--Rem was lying down instead of greeting us, ears back, and when he got up he had that awful hang-dog look about him like he did during his bad episodes in August & again when we discovered the cancer. His gums looked quite pale gray to me. He shivered a couple of times while he was lying next to me while I checked him over.

I took him to the emergency vet's, where he immediately perked up a little ("See, I'm feeling MUCH better, can we go home now?"). His heart rate was a *little* high. His gums were a *little* pale. But blood test showed a drop to 30 for his red blood, which is apparently a tremendous percentage for a day and a half. Probably indicates some bleeding going on somewhere. Except for blood in the urine (which I haven't noticed but haven't looked closely), Cytoxan doesn't cause bleeding, the emergency vet said. (Interestingly, white cells had gone way back up into the good range, but apparently they can fluctuate tremendously within a couple of hours.)

Since they share office space with our regular vet specialists, they were able to dig out Rem's folder to catch up on the medical details.

They wanted to check his blood every 3-4 hours through the night & wanted to have someone keep an eye on him in case bleeding became worse & he collapsed. I didn't think I could stay awake all night, I was so tired already, so I left him there.

Vet called this morning; count dropped to roughly 28, then 26, then 24-25, so something's still going on & they want to keep him until at least this afternoon. She said he looks good, though, better than last night--perky, with a good appetite. Apparently bodies can adjust themselves to the low blood count. But if he drops any more, they might want to do a transfusion so he has enough platelets in his system to attempt to stem the bleeding.

This has always been the biggest short-term risk--rupture of the tumor. If that's what's happened, there's nothing they can do except transfuse and pray. Smaller ruptures (which is probably what he's had before) can often close themselves up. But if it's more major...

Of course I'd been hoping that the risk was greatly reduced with the tumor shrunk so very much.

I guess I'm going to head over to the Clan Home to hang out with the family and hope for only good phone calls.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

It's Christmas Eve Again

Remington's doing well; lots of enthusiasm for life. Monday's blood test showed that his white blood cells were a little low but that the "important" subcount (neutrophyls?) were fine, so we're going ahead with the next round of cytoxan. He's also fractionally anemic--normal is something like 37 and he's at 36.9.

His weight is holding fairly steady around 52.5. And he loves his special canned food.

Just a side note--Jim and I met 23 years ago this past week. As of today, we're officially divorced. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Rem and Jake have Class

Backfill: Dec 21 Took both Remington & Jake to agility class tonight for the first time since October (and the last time for this year, since the next 2 Wed's are xmas & new years). Rem couldn't decide at first whether his foot was bothering him, but he looked like he wanted to run. So I gave him 2 or 3 chances on the first course, a jumps-only course, using 12" jumps, and he finally decided that his foot did NOT bother him and that he wanted to be an agility dog! Started off only moderately fast but picked up speed as much as he was comfortable on a fairly soggy lawn. Didn't run him a full class, but he didn't want to go back into the car when I switched him with Jake.

Jake ran beautifully for almost a full class worth of runs. SuperJake is back! No signs of pain or discomfort on his foot at all, confirming what I've been seeing in the yard the last few short weeks. Hooray!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

VERY Excellent news

Remington just had his first ultrasound since they discovered the tumor Nov 6. Vet said it has shrunk enormously, much more than expected, maybe 70% smaller. She seemed extremely happy. I seem that way, too.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Holiday Jeer/I mean Cheer

Correct caption:

(a) How cheerfully the joyous beasts welcome the holidays,
(b) Top 3 FBI's most wanted list,
(c) Now we have to kill her,
(d) All things considered, we'd rather be in Philadelphia,
(e) There dang well better be junk food for this

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Rem's Foot Not Happy

Rem's foot is definitely bothering him. He was refusing to walk on it again last night. Maybe scar tissue is irritating? Could be nasty nerve damage, the cut was so deep. Poor guy.

Just added a note for THURSDAY... and a photo on Nov 28...

Meanwhile, Long Rem Silver was seen lurking in the back yard.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Prunedale Agility Practice Match

Just got back from the SMART club's agility fun match in Prunedale (near Salinas). It was drizzling in San Jose when we left at 7 a.m. and pouring when we got back about 2, but nary a drop sullied Manzanita Park! Lawn was sloppy--running dogs' feet sprayed as they went, and some of the frequently traversed parts of the courses were getting a little muddy--but the weather itself was lovely. Cool, mostly overcast.

Tika ran jumpers beautifully and reallllllly fast. We missed a couple of jumps the first time thru, but I just hustled more and talked to her more the 2nd time. Wow. No knocked bars, either, even with the wet ground.

We weren't quite so hot on the standard course. Even after 3 runs we didn't do everything perfectly, but the 3rd time we were pretty close. First 2 times Tika flew off the teeter big time; last time she went really slowly. So we clearly need to get in a lot more teeters before competition in 3 weeks.

She didn't stick her contacts consistently, although she didn't fly off any of the others. Took us 3 runs to get her out over the last jump, which was a little bit of a turn away or push out. Never DID get that darned jump-jump-FAR-side of the tunnel cleanly--same danged thing I've been struggling & struggling to get (and seldom succeeding at) in the back yard the last 3 or 4 weeks.

A little bit of dingling around at the start line the 3rd time, but actually otherwise she was pretty good. Got her weaves all 3 times (all the emphasis on practicing those is paying off!). Slowwww down on the table, but we're really still learning at how to put that all together (plus NADAC--in 3 weeks--doesn't have a table any more).

Remington I wasn't sure felt up to running; not clear whether he was limping beforehand, but he certainly hasn't been acting in peak form the last week or 2. Sure enough, I tried a jumpers course with the jumps at 12"; he went over the first 3 at a moderate pace, then pulled up with his paw in the air. So although the paw *looks* good, it's clear that it doesn't feel right.

Plus he's probably wiped from the low blood counts from the adriamycin, I'm guessing.

Jake ran like the seasoned pro he is in both runs, and both he & Tika got a ton of frisbee chasing. That hasn't stopped them from begging me to play some more now that we're home.

Rem trotted or galloped around the open field just a little bit, but he's completely wiped out. I didn't want to overdo it, but he's been more active in the back yard at times since his operation than he was today. So something's amiss.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Random Updates

Rem' white blood count is still too low as of Thursday morning, so it's back on antibiotics for another 7 days; we'll retest on Tuesday. This is pretty much what happened the first time he got the adriamycin. His foot is looking good; he's stopped abusing it and has stopped limping on it (was limping more *after* the bandage came off) and is looking more comfortable with it. It's probably a bit tender--the texture of all of his pads was clearly different from his other feet right after the bandage came off. Probably lost all of his callouses while wrapped up. So it's looking better.

Jake's running nicely full-tilt around the yard after his squeaky. Doing some agility obstacles and still no signs of pain or limping. If we don't get completely rained out, Saturday he'll be doing a run or 2 at the SMART fun match in Prunedale and those'll be the first full agility courses he'll have done since October. Yow.

Tika's a mixed bag on the contacts. Slows down a lot sometimes. Starts to "touch" off the side of the dogwalk instead of the end--but if I put a target down again once or twice, it straightens her out for a while. Goes pretty fast if I put her in a sit-stay at one end, walk halfway down, and call/send her and run to join up with her, but she's slower if I run with her. Have to figure this out.

We still don't get enough practices with long sequences--most we do in class is typically 8-10 obstacles max, often shorter, and we're struggling still with those. My back yard just isn't big enough. Sigh. I sure was spoiled by my old half acre--most people don't have a back yard even the size of my current one.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Yella Dog Entertains Crowds

Backfill: Dec 15 After the vet techs took Rem into the back to draw some blood, I hung around in the waiting room. Then I heard Rem bark once, like he barks when he's Saying Woof or is otherwise cheerful about something--and then again, then a couple more times, followed by gales of delighted laughter. More silence, chorus of laughs, Couple of barks. More laughter. They were all clearly having much more fun than I was.

When the tech brought him back out, I asked "What are you doing to my dog?" She said that they had been getting him to do tricks for goodies. Man, what a happy, wired dog he was! No wonder he loves visiting them. I asked how they knew what tricks he knows. She said that there's a lady who has an Aussie who used to (?) do agility, so she knew some of the things a dog is likely to know. She told me some of the tricks--they had already figured out the limp and the "Bang!" and left/right; don't remember what else.

So I asked whether they had figured out that he could count; held up 2 fingers & asked how many. He barked twice. She said, "Wait a minute! They have to see this!," ducked into the back, and reappeared with a crowd. I did 3 fingers and he barked 3 times. But after that he was so wired & excited that he just started barking randomly & enthusiastically.

Anyway, I promised them a list of tricks for next time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Frisky man

Rem has been seeming a bit more subdued lately. Maybe it's the bandage on the foot. Maybe the adriamycin. Maybe boredom. Maybe my imagination. Anyway, he hasn't really done any of the really happy-dog things like Morning UpsideDownDog; not much interest in playing (not that he was ever big on it).

But this afternoon I got out the Tug-N-Treat toy and he was absolutely delighted. He played with it and flung it around and shook it and chased it repeatedly; pounced on it with spread-toed glee; even played just a little tiny bit of tug-o-war. Did some tricks. Then I got out A Cardboard Box--he went nuts, as though weeks of pent-up energy came loose all at once. It was a delight.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

On hold again

Rem's white blood count is "a little low" again, so we're waiting til Thursday to do a retest before doing next round of Cytoxan.

He's been licking & licking at the paw and is making it sore. I went out shopping for a bit, after putting a bandage drenched in bitter apple on it, and he took the bandage off and really went after it. It's not open, but the skin is a bit raw. He's limping now more than he was *with* the bandage. I don't WANT to put the "e-collar?" on him, but I might have to. Sigh.

On hold

Rem was supposed to get an ultrasound today, but the vet had a family illness so we're putting it off to probably next Tuesday.

He got the bandage off his foot this morning and he's been trying to obsessively lick at it ("I haven't seen this foot in weeks! Need to get better acquainted!"). I've sprayed it with bitter apple to try to keep him from licking it open again.

Waiting for results from blood test to see how his white cells are doing.

Friday, December 06, 2002

A Little More Chemo Reaction

This didn't happen last time around--I think the chemo is making Rem need to pee a bunch more, plus the gagging occasionally-- Wed. night it was to bed at 9:30, up at 10:30, 12:30, 4:30, and 5:30--and I gave up. Last night it was only once in the middle of the night. And Rem *never* needs to go out in the middle of the night. Actually--mostly true for all my dogs, although very occasionally Jake has said that Now Is The Time, Lady.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Rem: A little Chemo Reaction/Tika: Good Dog-Bad Dog

Photos: New photos on Dec 3 and Nov 27.

Rem chemo: Nothing wrong with Rem's appetite since yesterday's adriamycin injection, and he was delighted to go for a walk as usual. No signs of diarrhea, but I'm thinkin' his stomach is a bit unsettled because this morning from about 4-5 a.m. and again this evening he's been doing a bit of gagging kinds of noises. Nothing to make him want to get up from a comfy loafing position lying on his side in bed, though.

Tika: She was pretty good in class today. Did some really nice contacts (except a bit on the slow side and one popped teeter), even though we really haven't practiced them in 2 weeks. She's now entered in her first full trial, which is a NADAC fund-raiser in Elk Grove the first weekend in January, where probably almost no one I'll know will be. I pout.

At least, I sent in her entry form and I'm hoping it's not full. The mid-January Elk Grove NADAC trial opened & closed again while I was gone to Disneyland for just 4 short days! Bleah. This is why I'm not fond of limiting entries where you actually have to turn people away.

Overall, we did pretty good, but Boy! I sure have a lot to learn about handling! (My boys have spoiled me with how sloppy I am--but maybe that's also why we don't Q or place as often as I'd like.) Still, Rachel told me that we're just about ready to move up to another level of class. I am the most experienced handler in the class, but I'm not sure how much farther along we really are than some others who are working hard at learning their stuff.

But BAD DOG TIKA turned & slipped past my knees again today while I was unlocking the front door to let them in the house after class. My mistake in many ways--I didn't make her sit first, I didn't have her on a leash, I didn't grab her the instant she moved instead of just moving my legs. Oh, yeah, my hands were full of keys and purses & leashes & dog goodies and things, which is why I let go of her. Fortunately no near misses on cars this time, but she pretty much totally blew me off while I called her. She finally came to me, but she took her own really sweet time about it. At least she didn't charge madly away in the opposite direction. And I did have food & made a big deal out of having it. I haven't been practicing that lately, either. So much to do, so little time...

Jake & Rem & agility: Boy, I miss going up to Power Paws for classes & seeing everyone. So do Rem & Jake. They're BORrrrred. Jake's running nicely, doing some jumps, tunnels, teeters with no signs of pain here in the yard. I'm so lucky to have world-class instructors like Rachel (currently for Tika) and Nancy & Jim at Power Paws (usually Rem & Jake) and I wish I was back up there in their classes again...

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Remington looks great!

And that's an exact quote from the vet's summary from after Rem's checkup today.

They took out his foot stitches and removed the splint, the tech said (he had actually broken the old one completely in 2 halfway up, apparently), but he's still wrapped in bandages up to his elbow for a little while longer.

His blood count was good enough to get his 2nd IV application of adriamycin chemo this afternoon. So far he seems to be doing very well--gobbled dinner with enthusiasm, doesn't seem to feel sick (au contraire, he's glaring at me and moaning about how bored he is).

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Things are Going Well

Remington's foot is doing OK in the splint. They replaced it on schedule on Friday, after 3 days in which he pretty much left it alone and it held up well, even when he went leaping over shrubbery and dashed across the yard to visit my parents. Vet said his foot was healing nicely, with no sign of infection.

However, his toes broke through the new one by the end of the day Friday, and by Saturday morning there were jagged edges on the splint pressing against his feet--and while I was waiting for a callback from the surgeon (which didn't come--I suppose this didn't really qualify as an emergency), he pulled open the toe end completely.

So we went to our regular vet, who patched it all up in pretty sturdy tape and cotton. I continued to bitter-apple it, and he has left it alone since pretty much.

He took the second 3-day round of Cytoxan in stride with no diarrhea this time.

Jake's foot: I've moved him up the activity level to tossing the squeaky further across the yard instead of just a couple of feet, doing "behinds" to launch him, doing a few short tunnels and 12" jumps. No signs of pain. Swelling on toe seems much reduced, although I think it's still larger than the left toe.

Tika's agility I'm afraid has been suffering. Trying to work more, trying to spend more time with Rem, trying to get ready for xmas, so spending little time practicing in the yard. She did pretty good in class on Wednesday. It's clear, though, that we have lots of work to do on crosses. She does very well on some, but (of course, I supposed) the harder they get, the worse my timing is.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

The dog abuse situation gets worse

Poor Remington! Surgeon who looked at his foot yesterday says that, without stitches, it looks like it's pulling itself open every time he takes a step--and (see Sunday) they can't replace the stitches easily--so they've got him in a splint, so his leg is wrapped from his toes to just below his elbow. Also, the stitched-up bit on his ankle she said looks a little "weepy," so they're adding another 10 days of antibiotics.

He's really energetic, though--eager to do things & frustrated because the splint makes it so much more difficult. But he hauls himself around on 3 legs with great energy.

Started 2nd round of Cytoxan last night. Waiting to see whether diarrhea reappears; yesterday afternoon actually already was kinda soft, and that's before the Cytoxan. Poor pup.

But he takes all the visits to the vet in stride. He's cheerful to be there, willing to go with the nice people who want to poke and prod at him, curious about what's going on behind the desk. Unlike Jake, who now trembles miserably whenever we arrive at the vet's office and tries his best to hide between the molecules of my legs, lap, or the furniture.

Monday, November 25, 2002

On to More Chemo/Jake good/Tika bored/Amber resurfaces

Remington is *so* full of energy but I think his foot is really bothering him--every time he gets excited about something and forgets and puts his foot down, it just dampens him so rapidly. He really really wanted to play in the yard today; really really wanted to do tricks; really really wanted to go for a longer walk. Poor guy.

His bloodwork shows that his white cells are doing fine 6 days after first Cytoxan dose, so we're going to go get the next 3 days of Cytoxan doses tomorrow.

Jake's foot seems to be doing OK. Still enlarged. I'm still keeping him pretty subdued on exercise (well--for him, anyway).

With 4 days gone at Disneyland and now trying to catch up on work, Tika has had no agility practice since class last week, and I really didn't spend much time with them today, and she's achin' for action.

I found a bunch of slides of my old dog Amber when she was a puppy. Will have to scan them in & make prints for my album. Maybe put a couple on the site to compare & contrast to Remington, who greatly resembles her.

Foot doing good

Rem is hanging in there just fine, although I think he's getting a little tired of having people play with his cut-up foot. Yesterday my nephew had to put a temporary bandage on it after Rem pulled off the one put on by the doctor. Last night I had to put on another one because nephew's didn't last until I got home. I took him to the emergency vet because some of his stitches had come out, and they put another one on (as well as mucking with his foot). Then this morning when I took him in for a blood test, they replaced the bandage again. He's not wanting to walk on it today, but boy, I've never seen a dog look more excited about going for a walk on 3 legs! Vet said it's healing very nicely & no signs of infection.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Gone for the weekend/Rem fights the bandage demon

Backfill: 11/25/02 Yup, made it to Disneyland with sister Linda & her pal Paul. Photos maybe on Wed or Fri. Weather was gorgeous, trip was fun. Also went to the Getty and looked at some of their illuminated manuscripts. Wowwwwww!

House/dog sitters let me know regularly that Rem was doing great, eating well, no diarrhea, no problem with foot--until Sunday afternoon, when he pulled the bandage off. So my nephew put a temporary bandage on and I decided that a repalcement at the vet's could wait until Monday morning. But when I got home at 10:30 that evening, the temporary bandage was off and the stitches had been pulled out of the pad on his foot. (Ones up his ankle were fine, though.)

So I took him in to the emergency room, where they said that probably the stitches had pulled out way before Rem got the bandage off, because of how it was healing, and said that putting stitches back in would require reaming out some of the built-up tissue, and that it would probably be better now to just let it heal as is. Vet assured me that there shouldn't be a problem with scar tissue being a problem if/when Rem gets back to agility.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

In Anaheim

This has nothing to do with dogs. Me, my sister Linda, her main squeeze Paul, & friends Keith and Lori at the Disneyland ResortTM in AnaheimTM.

Friday, November 22, 2002

With any luck, I'm out of town at Disneyland Nov 22-24.
Us 3 at DLand

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Mom's a Dork/Rem's 3-Footed Now

I can't believe it this happened--and just as I was trying to get everything together to leave town for 3 days.

Rem loves nothing better than roaming around parkland and fields in search of random adventures. There's a wonderful nose-friendly 9-acre empty lot across the street. I've been taking the dogs there maybe once a week for the last year. Since Rem came back from his operation, I've been taking him all by himself over there almost daily. It's pretty much plowed-under weeds and gopher holes and some old walnut trees. Worst part is that, along a couple of edges by the streets, people toss empty liquor bottles and some of them shatter. Usually I avoid those parts, and usually I can see where there's broken glass anyway.

But with all that rain the other week, the freshly-grown weeds are now 4-6" tall so it's harder to see what's underneath, and for some odd reason I decided to leave the area over a different route than I usually take. And all of a sudden as we stepped into the street, Rem came up lame. I picked up his foot and it was covered with blood. Sliced almost all the way through one entire pad and also into the ankle going up to the pad higher on the foot (I don't know what that's called). Soooo--it was off for an emergency visit again. Now he had a bunch of stitches in his foot and a bandage that's supposed to stay on for 10 days (fat chance!) and right at the moment he doesn't want to walk on it at all. AND antibiotics.

He was limping on it after the vet's, but after almost 4 hours now, maybe it's become more painful, too. I am such a dork for going into an unfamiliar area there. I didn't even think about the glass; I was just enjoying Remington enjoying himself.

Other than that--he's still got diarrhea, presumably from the cytoxan (although they're doing a fecal test just to be sure because of lessened immunity)--but he was feeling & acting & looking just wonderful despite that. So things are looking good for him to handle the chemo well, and perhaps that means there's a bit of a longer-term hope...

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Rem OK so far on Cytoxan

Remington's got some diarrhea again, but otherwise seems to be fine so far on Cytoxan. Still has appetite and energy; he was a bit more huggy today, but I think that's because he's BORED and we haven't been anywhere interested (read: agility) in weeks.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

On to More Chemicals

Today Remington's white blood cell count is finally high enough to move on to the first application of Cytoxan, which is the 2nd drug in his chemo protocol. Gave it to him at dinnertime. Now we wait and see whether there are any side effects.

Monday, November 18, 2002

The Good, The Bad, and--

Good: Happy and Active: If possible, he's been even more playful than 2 days ago. Friday night, Saturday, yesterday, and today, he's rarin' to go. I'm beginning to realize how sick he still was between the Episode in August and the Near Catastrophe two weeks ago (already!). Yesterday, actually, I couldn't keep him off the agility equipment in the yard! He was jumping jumps and taking Aframes and doing the weaves *really* fast (which has been an ongoing challenge for us) without me asking--he's begging me to stop doing it with all those other annoying creatures that share our house and do agility with HIM because he's a Studly Agility Dog. (Bad acronym, but what can you do?)

We all attended a couple of workshops on Saturday, mostly making me work my body and brain for a change, but Remington got to be a clicker-training Demo Dog. The instructor needed a dog who was already trained to touch his nose to a target. I volunteered immediately because Rem used to be really good at it, but then realized that I hadn't practiced that in so long with Mr. Remington that he might be rusty. I need not have feared--anything involving a clicker and food becomes indelibly engraved on his brain. The target came out, and he went right for it.

So we got to demonstrate how bad timing on the trainer's part (clicking late instead of when the dog's nose touches the target) and screw up your dog in fewer than a dozen clicks. It's pretty interesting to see.

Not as good: Blood counts: Rem's white blood cell counts are still low, 12 days after the first dose of chemo. This means we still can't do the second chemical still (was supposed to be a week after the first). On the up side, the vet says that this means the chemo is being very effective in his body.

He's also down to 51 pounds. That's probably because he's been on rice and cottage cheese for almost 2 weeks, transitioning over the last week to canned canine cancer diet, and he hasn't gotten quite enough calories based on my guesses for rice/cc portions. On the up side of *that*, vet said he looks hale & hearty and asked whether he had gained weight! So I was right, this *is* a good weight for him.

I've started a separate page of links and static info on the cancer.

Friday, November 15, 2002

And Da Man Keeps on Playing

Remington is SO playful yesterday and today! I actually don't know how long it's been since I've seen him so eager to play. He played with a box in the yard. He played with a Big Blue Thing in the yard (looks a lot like a Tika Toy--except blue--). He picked up an old tennis ball handle in the kitchen and played a little tug of war & chase with that. He accepted a squeaky toy and led me and my sister on merry chases around and around the coffee table and the kitchen and the hallway, and actually chewed on it a bit. Don't know whether he's feeling so much better that he can hardly get over it or what.

I dread the bad thing--like Amber became suddenly very playful the day before she died in the night. I'll probably be dreading that for months. Or years. The way Rem was milking us for attention tonight, you *could* see him doing this for ages and ages. I can only hope.

Rem He Da Man

I'm adding photos to the proper places now--In addition to the gratuitous photos of Jake and Tika shown here (Tika playing with her Tika Toy; Jake pretending his toe isn't injured), check these dates: Nov 14, 13, 11, 10, 9, 7.

Remington is doing great the last 24 hours. Last night he proved that the first round of chemo did nothin' to his nose, as he did the Find game (junk food hidden in the other room and he has to sniff it out) with great delight & accuracy. Then he played tug-o-war a bit with a Furry Thing and then lay down and nursed on it for about half an hour--first time since he's been home (and that's his way of saying all's right with the world).

Today I believe he's back to his completely normal active self. Checking the trees for those S-words, telling the funny noise out front that he's here and on the job, following me around the house instead of waiting in one room for me to come back. When I dashed briefly out to the store and back, he gave me a big Singing welcome--also his way of saying he is One Happy Man.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Tika Doing Good

Tika did pretty good in class yesterday and also last night when some friends' 3-yr-old came to visit.

Contacts: In class, she's doing contacts almost credibly. We're running the dogs over obstacles before & after the Aframe and dogwalk now. Tika's pretty fast but the dogwalk is a bit sloppy--I suspect because she's been running unsupervised across the dogwalk in my back yard and bailing off early on her own. Rachel suggests that I block off the ramps, which I've now forgotten to do 2 days running.

Jumping: She and I are still very green at running and jumping and handling. I feel so incompetent! She'll get it--it's just that I'm so used to dogs who steer pretty easily and who are old experienced hands (feet?) at the agility stuff.

Weaves: She did great weave pole entries and really fast weaves in class. She skipped one pole once--the second pole--because she hit them so fast she couldn't make it back into the 2nd pole after the 1st. She hesitated for a nanosecond, realizing she'd missed it, but we just went on, which is the right thing to do. Wahoo!

Tika on tableTable: She's really good at running onto the table & stopping while I run on. We're just starting to add the "down" to it. She loves being on the table, with Rachel's guidelines about playing with the dog on the table. In fact, she often takes her toy and just leaps onto the table herself to play with me--probably likes being closer to my level, plus I always play with her there!

Walking on leash: Well--A couple of weeks ago I was starting to think that never ever ever would she be able to walk nicely on a leash. I had even gone back to having a bag full of junk food and giving her a treat every time she was in the right position or turned back towards me without tugging on the leash first. Did that for about 3 days again and as soon as I'd run out of goodies, it was back to Wham Wham Wham on the leash. Then all of a sudden about 4? days ago--maybe a week? (sorry, the last 10 days have been a little fuzzy)--she started walking nicely on my *right* side again. It's as though there's a doggie Jekyll/Hyde thing going--left side she's the Leash Maniac, right side she's Miss Manners herself. I've taken to walking with Rem on my left and Jake on my right, too, and that seems to reinforce things for some reason. (Vs Tika on the left & Rem/Jake on the right.) I don't know whether this will last--seems that we went through this once before, too, and it only lasted a couple of weeks. But there does seem to be a glimmer of hope.

Small child: The 3-yr-old daughter of friends came to visit last night for a couple of hours with her parents. She was a little shy of the wild front-hall dogs at first, but Tika (although a dervish with her parents) was very gentle with her and even sat down briefly while she was next to the little girl! She never does that for *me*! After the little girl saw me telling Tika to Sit a couple of times, she tried it--and Tika actually sat for her most of the time! The gal follwed her around most of the evening, petting her gently, and Tika occasionally licked her face or hands, and didn't try to run away, and was a very good, sweet, patient, gentle dog. A side of her I almost never see! She would've been great in a family with kids.

Of course, Rem was the same way the few times he got to interact with kids--I remember him leading a couple of toddlers on a chase around the lawn, never moving very fast, just fast enough for them to almost catch him and then speeding up a little, all the time with a big grin on his face--and that was when he had a half acre yard and an entire house to hide in if he'd wanted to.

White Blood Count Still Low

Rem's second blood test this morning still showed that his white blood cell count is low. So instead of chemo, they're putting him on 4 days of antibiotics and checking again on Monday.

I didn't actually talk to the vet, so I didn't ask whether the antibiotics are supposed to fix the white blood cell count or just protect him against secondary infections while his blood gets its act together.

He still looks & acts pretty healthy, though, although I think he's still slightly more subdued than Complete Normal Dog.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

White Blood Cell Count Low

Just heard from the vet: Rem's white blood cell count is "a little low," so he can't get his next dose of chemo today after all. Have to take him back in tomorrow for a recount.

Surgery + 1 Week

[Rem shaved]Rem went in for his first checkup and blood test. Everyone said how great he looks and acts. Vet says his incisions healed beautifully. They removed the few stitches and took his t-shirt off. He's ecstatic about that! Almost couldn't hold still with joy and enthusiasm for half an hour after that.

X-rays show absolutely no fluid in the chest, which is also wonderful. He's eating well (in both senses--enthusiastically and from a gourmet selection) and is just like the Most Wonderful Obi-Rem Kenobi beast again.

Still supposed to be on "Normal/lower key than usual" activity. This means no agility, no running off-leash in the park. But I'm thinking that if he wants to run across the yard to chase an S-word, that'll be fine. Not like at the old house, where doing so entailed a 100-yard sprint to the back fence.

I'm happy. Vet's happy. Rem's happy.

He's also down to 51 pounds from his more-usual 55. Since half his torso is shaved, I can see where his rib cage is more easily--and I think he actually looks really good at this weight!

Just waiting for his blood test results this afternoon (looking for white blood cell count) to give him his next round of chemo tablets.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

It's Morning. The Usual.

A friend says: "it seems Rem's trick to get baby food, human food, having the house remodeled to his particular tastes (moving the doggie door), and having a maid (or would you be a butler?) to do his bidding (holding his rear as he goes down the stairs) is working! It was all a giant ruse!"

Rem certainly has been living high off the hog (or on the hog? or what do hogs have to do with this anyway?), but now that he's feeling better he's being a pest again--pulling on the leash, fighting me after he comes back in at 3:30 in the morning after asking to go out and coming back in with muddy feet and I want to rinse them off (you know I've NEVER cleaned his feet off before in ALL the 8 1/2 years he's been living with me) and as a result spilling the water all over me & the floor, ya know, stuff like that.

But he is pretty cute none-the-less. And although he has often been known as the Dark Overlord of Finchester House, with his Evil Minion dogs doing the barking & muddy paw things for him, he's really a pretty good boy most of the time.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Some Good News Amidst the Fog

Biopsy results on the nodule they took from Rem's pericardium show that it's merely "inflammation." This is good. This means all the little nodules on the paricardium aren't tumors. Unforunately the big, main tumor on his heart is still a tumor. But this also could mean that the tumor appears so large because its tissue or the tissue around it is inflamed.

Rem was pretty close to being himself today. Also that's good. And he was delighted with his rice/cottage cheese/baby food chicken meal this evening! (for the diarrhea)

Doctor gave me tons of med's to deal with various stuff. I'll probably identify all the assorted chemical agents sometime soon. Not tonight, I don't think.

T-Shirt Redux/Doggie Door/Bathroom Habits

This morning, during the getting-up ritual, Remington finally rolled onto his back and did the Upsidedown Dog (could be a new dance craze--or a good name for a rock band), which shows he's feelin' good.

Rem tshirt 2T-shirt--maybe I didn't say, because people are asking--it's just a temporary cover for the incisions in his chest after removing the bandages. I'll call the vet this morning to find out when it can come off. I'm hoping it's today. So is Rem.

When Rem came home, I moved the doggie door from its usual place on the raised deck (I'm in a trilevel house) down to the office, which is at ground level and also is where his favorite bed resides. Figured it would be easier for a stiff/sore/tired dog (and, last couple of days, t-shirt-victimized dog) to go in & out. Dogs mostly figured it out, but Jake & Tika always go up to check the deck door before coming back down to where it's currently located. Tika's not thrilled because she likes to lie out on the deck and survey the terrain for invaders, but she doesn't want to do that if she's cut off from her backup support.

Rem scarfed his dinner last night with no hesitation. Another good sign.

(Now for the bathroom habits. Mostly for my own reminder.) Rem has been doing #2 only once a day so far, which is way out of whack. And it's diarrhea big time. Today he finally went outside first thing in the morning to empty his bowels instead of waiting until the middle of the day, then, having done a fine job, retired to his bed for a well-earned rest. I'm not sure what's causing the soft stool--vet didn't sound on friday like they expected it, but I'm thinkin' it can't be that uncommon with chemo drugs and such. Something else to ask about--

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Remington Third Morning at Home

Rem does not like wearing the t-shirt. His bod just isn't shaped right for it. I started to make up a song about it:
He's a real t-shirt man,
Working on his t-shirt tan,
Griping all his t-shirt gripes to nobody.

Rem fat neckI know, I know--keep my day job. Anyway, the neck pulls down on him so all the loose skin around his neck bulges out the top of the t-shirt and gives him a real fat-neck look. Plus it kind of pulls on his upper legs, and he can't stand going down stairs in it. I left him on the bed upstairs as usual--no sign of him wanting to come downstairs--but some time later heard very faint whines. When I investigated, he was sitting on the bed, looking at the chair-stair I rigged for him, not wanting to make even that 6" step down with the t-shirt on.

I got him off the bed, then it required several engraved invitations to get him down the 3/4 stairway to the main floor, and then he stood at the top of the 1/4 stairway leading to the office where his bed is, looking really annoyed. I had to put my hands on him and half lift/half push him to the first step, and he finally went down. Going up is no problem for some reason.

But this morning he's operating with his ears at their usual half-up, half-down, sometimes fully alert, stages instead of the flat-against-the-head the-universe-hates-me-I'm-really-worried look he's been wearing all week.

Photo alert: I have been taking photos of the poor abused dog but I don't have a digital camera so we have to wait til I get the film developed for them to appear on these pages. They'll be coming, though--

Backfilling Diary with Old Emails

I'm using old emails to fill in some blank spaces. I'll mark those with "Backfill: date_inserted".

Saturday, November 09, 2002

All's Quiet on the Finchester Front

Remington and I went for a second walk in the afternoon. He's really been drooping around but perked up enormously for the walk and looked just like his old self. Again, he didn't want to eat the second half of his breakfast until we had done some tricks for junk food, then he scarfed it down.

He's too much of a thinking and worrying dog--the more I can make things seem like a normal routine, the happier he'll be.

A couple more positive things: This morning when we first woke up, he *almost* started to roll onto his back and do the happy-upside-down-dog-wriggle thing, but I think he suddenly realized he still had all those bandages and things and stopped. But he was thinking it. And this evening before dinnertime, I got him to play with one of his favorite special toys--a cardboard box--in the backyard. Not for a long time, and not running around like crazy, but very happily. And then, after that, it was OK for him to go inside and sit down in the proper place to await his supper bowl (which he hasn't done since he came home Thursday). Then he scarfed down his dinner with no second thoughts.

I'm going to have to pursue the special cancer diet that Steph has had such great success with Sparky with. That probably means no more Rollover-like substances for the Mr. Rem in the near future. I'll talk about it with my vet.

I'm feeling tired but a little more relaxed--we've made it through this crisis. And my sister & her main squeeze came by to escort me out for a steak dinner & fed me some more (of her) birthday cake, so that was nice. Guess I can head for bed.

Second Full Day at Home

Rem stayed in bed (that's *my* bed) until 9:30 this morning, when I decided it was time for a w-a-l-k. Again, he was eager for the walk. We went a little farther than yesterday. Again, he wanted more and, again, I'm trying for him not to overdo it.

He didn't want to eat breakfast. That's usually his third favorite part of the day (behind walks and doing fun stuff (tricks, agility) for junk food). I even got it moist, because I haven't seen him drinking much and he hardly did any #1 this morning after 12 hours abed. But the vet said he has to have food with his antibiotics or it *will* make him ill. He was enthused about the chicken & noodles baby food I whipped out, and I sneaked a few pieces of regular food in with it, some of which he ate. But after half a jar of the C&N, maybe a dozen pieces of food & some of the water from the bowl, he quit again.

rem shirt 1I tried again about 10 minutes later--nuthin'. Then it dawned on me that he usually has his meal after doing *something*, such as agility practice or tricks or play-time. So I asked him to do some tricks for junk food. He perked way up, did them pretty enthusiastically (although the right/left turns were a bit slow), and then chomped down half a bowl of regular food when I offered it.


I got to take off the huge bandages around his chest and abdomen today. Replaced them with a t-shirt per vet's instructions. I got 2 t-shirts from the High Sierra Summer Classic agility trial in August, and I had no idea what I was going to do with the 2nd one. Now I know. (big grin)

Friday, November 08, 2002

Foot Swollen/Darned Bandage

After I got back from a client meeting, maybe 3:30 this afternoon, I knelt to scritch Rem's chest, all covered with bandages as it was. Thinking about bandages, I scritched his foot with the bandage around the wrist from the IV--and realized with a shock that the foot was swollen to almost twice its size. I can't believe how unobservant I am, even when I'm looking for problems. Dang bandage was too tight! It came off right then. I wonder how much of his stiff-looking walk & unsteadiness is due to the swollen and probably numb foot?

First Full Day at Home

This morning, Rem hardly even moved his head when I got up. He just lay there on the bed. Didn't look like he was in pain (although now I don't know that I'd know what that looked like), just watching, not moving. I and the other 2 beasts went up and downstairs a couple of times, and then while I was talking to the housemate, he sat up on the bed. When I looked into the bedroom, he was sitting awkwardly as though trying to get up the energy and mental capacity to leap off the bed. Which is high. For which I rigged a stairway for him. '

I guided him down the stairway (from bed to chair to suitcase to floor) and he walked very gingerly and stiff-legged to the top of the stairs, then halted and just looked at me as I went down. With some encouragement, he finally started down, a bit faltering, and about 2/3 down stumbled against the wall. I guided him down the rest of the way.

He didn't really want to go outside--it was raining--and I tried off and on for a couple of hours, even with an umbrella, and he had no interest. Would walk stiffly & reluctantly to the door, look out, turn on a dime and go back in. Rest of the time he just lay in one place, not moving, not even scratching or lifting his head or anything--just lying there.

Then about 9:00, he suddenly sat up, stretched a bit, started fidgeting around. Still didn't want to go out in the back yard to go potty. Finally I realized--it was time for a W-A-L-K and, by yiminy, come high water or post-op fatigue, he's a man of habit and we were going to go on that walk! I went upstairs to get dressed, and he followed--a bit stiffly, but more enthusiastically, with wagging tail. Just collapsed on the bed, not moving, while I dressed, but then enthusiastically (in a pathetic, sore sort of way) followed me downstairs again amid the gyrating mass of less-operated-on dogs.

I took him for a quick walk around the court--his pace picked up and he even trotted a bit although I tried to walk more sedately--and he didn't want to go inside when we got back to the house. He apparently hung out in the hallway while I took the other 2 for a bit longer walk. Then he ate most of his breakfast.

Then the rest of the day he mostly lay around like a slug and moved like he was stiff & a bit painful the rest of the day.

You can tell what activity he lives for!

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Remington Comes Home Early

I went over to sit with Rem (just got back), and they told me that the chest tube he'd had after the surgery had come out early and that that was good news. Rem was more alert & actually had the wherewithal to stand up & wag his tail when I arrived. Then he sat for about half an hour with a fixed stare, like he didn't want to look at me or anything else & for fear that i'd disappear--I scritched him for a while & finally he was willing to lie down again. Then he snoozed with his paw & chin on my lap for about 45 minutes.

When I was about to leave, I asked about plans for taking him home tonight, and when they checked with the doctor, he said I could just take him home now. Rem & I said "Yes! Way yes!" (Well, I did--Rem just kind of got a little shine in his eyes when they put a leash on & took him out of the crate.)

They said he's doing *very* well and that my hardest problem for the next week will probably be to keep him from running & jumping to avoid putting strain on his heart until the chems have had a chance to maybe reduce the nasty tumor demon a bit.

rem bandagesAt home, after a really big drink, he went straight to his bed and lay down, but he kept his eyes wide open for about 10 minutes like he was trying to absorb actually being home again. Now he's snoozing.

He's got a huge ol' bandage wrapped around his chest and abdomen and slung like a harness around the front of his body. There's actually almost nothing underneath--small incisions from the scope etc. for the thoracoscopy--but all the rest is to keep it in place, because it was sliding around before. Bright yellow! Same color on his wrist where the IV went in. Same color around his neck, keeping the pain-killer patches in place. Poor pathetic thing.

That's all-- we go back in a week to get his blood tested & for some other chemo treatment.

ELF Rambles on Feelings

Backfill: 11/10/02 I gather that this kind of thing is so aggressive that, if it was having an effect on Remington back at West Valley (late Aug), it probably wouldn't have made any difference in treatment or rate of success if we *had* pursued it back then. Ya know, it just seemed to me (and the vet) to be a brief illness, although inexplicable.

Whole thing sure explains why he's been getting in maybe one really fast run per day & then wimping out the last couple months. Nothing to do with jump heights or NADAC! But it is interesting that the fastest he'd been running was all this summer at those NADAC & CPE trials--maybe it hadn't hit him yet, or maybe it was him having brief times of feeling really good & going all out while he wasn't feeling cruddy.

I do wonder how long this has plagued him--hard to believe it's been a few years, even though he's had the slow/fast issue off & on it seems like forever. Vet seemed to think that because they think it's the fast-growing type it's probably been only a couple/few months. But we'll never know.

I am morphing among being numb, being wobbly with stress and lack of sleep, being abjectly miserable, and being hopeful with stories of some dogs who've done very well with chemo despite dire prognoses.

I can hardly wait til Rem is home again. I hope this evening. I've washed his bedding and fluffed up his bed (although half the time he prefers sleeping on the floor next to my desk). Interesting thing--he's got this pain-killer skin patches (man, he's shaved all over odd places on his body! Good thing he's not a long-haired or dark-haired dog or he'd look REALLY weird!) and apparently they're a controlled substance and dangerous if ingested--say, if they fall off or are pulled off & one of the other dogs chews on them. So I think they're going to instruct me that he can't be around other animals while he's wearing the patches. This will be challenging. I'm figuring I'll bring the xpen inside & set up a spot for Rem, but I don't know whethr to set it up by my desk (a long way away from the heater vent, which he often likes lying in front of) or over where his bed is, near the heater vent...

I'm having trouble really concentrating on & enjoying my other 2 beasties at the moment, which isn't fair to them, either.

You know, I always was a wimp when it came to my own misery. I'm trying to concentrate on work to make some progress on my client's stuff--since we've worked so hard to *get* a client & they've been few & far between!--but it's really really hard. Some of it is my fatigue--when I start digging into that work, my head starts nodding & I droop--but when I go off to do something else, I wake up OK, and usually start fretting about Rem again.

I'm going over & over all the things I had imagined that Rem & I would do someday & I never got around to. Finding him a place to do a lot more swimming, now that I discovered last year--or 2 years ago?--how much he loves swimming. Now not sure whether his heart could take it, and anyway winter's coming up so everything's going to be *cold*. Thought we'd go back to obedience when he was ready to retire from agility. Now I'm not sure, even if he's feeling good, whether that's something I want to spend time or money on. Thought we'd go backpacking together someday. Thought someday he'd translate those lovely in-class/at-home contacts to the agility course & finish his MAD.

Most frustrating--when I finally got around to buying myself a video camera last year, I wanted to film Remington doing all of his hundreds of tricks--and I never really worked on it, 'cause I figured I had years ahead of us. In fact, I was thinking about it again after we got back from Madera, thinking that maybe if he was slowing down for agility, now would be the time to do the filming before he got too old & slow. But I STILL didn't do it. Of course my hope & expectation is that he will get back to being the same ol' Rem most of the time in between treatments, or I wouldn't be doing this. But there's the risk that he won't, and I think I'd hate myself for missing doing that film more than anything. Weird, the things you think about.

I guess 9 years old isn't as bad as some folks whose dogs've been much younger--Maia comes to mind, and Jeri's dog, some others--but I've been spoiled by my other dogs' longevity & by lack of disease or problems before and I just don't think of his time as being up.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Remington Post-Op

Remington came through his operation this morning very well. On the down side, with the scope up inside to cut the window in his pericardium, they could also take a good gander at the mass in/around his heart, which is even bigger and more invasive than it looked via ultrasound; in addition, there are growths on the pericardium itself. They were able to grab some tissue from one of those and will biopsy it to see whether it gives us any new information.

They also gave him his first dose of chemotherapy early this afternoon.

I went down to sit with him for a while around 2:30, and he was pretty zoned out--in addition to recovering from anesthesia from the operation, plus the chems, he had painkiller skin patches and injected painkiller to handle the gap before the patches become fully effective.

I went back for a long time around dinner and sat with him again. Vet tech came by to see whether I wanted to take him for a walk, which surprised me because he had opened his eyes but hadn't even lifted his head when I arrived & just lay there quietly while I scritched him. So I said, "Remington, do you want to go for a walk?" and he *shot* to his feet, which was pretty pathetic because he didn't have his land legs yet, and the tech and I had to hold onto him to steady him and keep him from leaping cross-legged out of the crate while she detached his IV.

But he walked fine, if a little unsteadily, around the parking lot--even insisted on climbing on & walking along the curb, the tech & I hunched over him, hands ready to support him as he lurched from side to side not quite falling off the curb--kinda like in a cartoon where the character is somehow naively on a tightrope or precipice edge and almost tipping over with every step but somehow ending up in the right foothold every time. Well--his love of walking on curbs & other narrow elevated places is one of the reasons I suspected he'd love agility when i first heard about it.

I believe the plan is still for him to come home tomorrow night.

At this point I won't have much else to report for a while, probably--we're waiting to see how he reacts to the chems, to being home, to recovering from the operation; waiting for biopsy results; waiting a few days & doing a white blood cell count, etc.

Got a call from one of the vet techs late this evening saying that he was resting even more comfortably & doing well. They really like him down there--so mellow & friendly & well-behaved on a leash & in the crate & during his treatments (and boy I got to see some interesting behavior among the other dogs there while I've been sitting there the last couple of days!).

That's all for tonight. I'll go back to snuggling Jake & Tika.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Thank Goodness for Friends

I crawled into bed early because I was so tired, but shortly thereafter the dogs went into a frenzy, telling me there was someone at the door. No one ever visits unexpectedly in the evening, so I thought it was maybe my housemate forgetting her key. Turns out it was my sister and her main squeeze bearing the birthday cake I'd been craving since the other evening. *She* usually turns in early, but they came half an hour out of their way to bring me comfort food and companionship in my hours of despair and misery. It helped immensely.

Now if only I can find a way to eat more comfort food while having a large part of my daily/weekly/monthly exercise yanked out from under me and yet not gain all that weight back--
Backfill: 11/10/02 Remington's going in for an operation tomorrow a.m. and won't be home until Thursday evening at the earliest. I can't really take him to the trial--checked with the vet & she thought it was a bad idea--and I don't want to leave him home alone (and not sure who I'd get to babysit for a couple of days for a sick dog), so I'm scratching him and Tika from their runs and I'm staying home.

Remington the Bad News

Just got back from the vet. Remington is sleeping next to me at the moment but will be going back in the a.m. for an operation.

Hope I get all the terminology right--I'm a bit zonked from lack of sleep.

The short story is that there is a large mass of tissue around and in the right atrium of his heart--hemangiosarcoma--which is a blood-fed, rapidly growing aggressive tumor. Can't be 100% positive because apparently if you cut into one of these, e.g. for a bioposy, patient will bleed to death. However, there apparently isn't much else that it could be.

As it grows and/or is disturbed, it tends to bleed into the sack around the heart. Eventually it ruptures or pressure on the heart causes cardiac failure. Untreated, best estimate for survival is maybe a month.

Operation tomorrow--thoracoscopy, where they use slight incisions and a scope on a rope (my terminology)--will cut a window in the sack, which will be left open to allow the fluids to drain continuously into his chest, where they should be reabsorbed by the body.

We'll start chemotherapy at the same time.

Best guess at prognosis with this double-pronged treatment is 5-6 months of survival, but a good portion of that should be at a decent quality of life and activity.

Read the excruciating medical details if you're interested.

Jake foot update/Remington Suddenly Sick

This hasn't been a good month for my dogs.

Jake foot updateJake has been resting--sort of--and he doesnt seem to be bothered by his foot at the moment. Plan is supposed to be 2 weeks of no intense activity (monitored/on leash/in crate) although after 2 days of that I went nuts, so now I just try to keep an eye on him & keep him subdued but he still has free run of the yard; followed by 4 weeks of gradually increasing activity to get back to full level if the foot continues to be pain-free.

He's on glucosamine & that's all at the moment.

Remington became very ill last night. Something like what we saw down at West Valley 2 months ago--no energy or enthusiasm, refusing food, severely dehydrated. He seemed fine in the morning on our walk, although we didn't do anything really active, and he wolfed down his breakfast.

Around 5:00, though, before dinnertime he was quite listless. No interest in practicing agility or even doing tricks, his favorite. Refused regular dinner, took a couple of treats reluctantly, but slurped down the half a jar of babyfood I offered. As the evening progressed, though, he refused all food and drink, and he would stand hunched over, sometimes just standing in the middle of the patio for 15 or 20 minutes at a time looking miserable, sometimes right against my feet (as you might know, he's not a real snuggly dog usually) and standing up, lying down, standing up, lying down, turning around--and when he did lie down for a few minutes at a time, he just whined under his breath with every breath--and he's such a stoic about pain & discomfort, I knew he had to be hurting real bad. His gums looked like he was working on being dehydrated again, as he was in August.

I finally took him in to the emergency room. They gave him fluids and ran some tests. Ruled out gopher poison (which I was afraid he'd encountered while digging yesterday--I don't know what previous owners might have left in the ground). Signs of internal bleeding, though; temperature very low, heart enlarged & probably fluid filled with maybe some unusual mass, heartbeat very rapid, severely dehydrated.

Cardiologist/oncologist have him now. Lots of fluid around his heart, which they're going to drain a little to try to reduce his rapid heartbeat & relieve some of his discomfort from lack of blood/oxygen. Ultrasound this a.m. seems to show a foreign mass on his heart. They're waiting now for the radiologist to come in and do another ultrasound to confirm, and they're going to do various tests on fluids & certain tissues to determine what's going on.

If the doctors' suspicions are confirmed by these additional views & tests, Remington probably has a tumor on or next to his heart, which can probably be relieved for some number of months by chemotherapy but which almost undoubtedly can't be operated on with any better results or removed in any way. Worst case, vet thinks, is maybe he's got only a few months left.

I might be jumping the gun by sending this message now--maybe all the tests will show something benign and easily treated--but emergency room vet & today's vets so far have been anything but encouraging.

Sooooo Remington will not be in class this week and I'm pretty sure I'll be pulling him from the trial this weekend.

So far Tika remains healthy. Jake & she seem worried & subdued this morning, though, with Remington having vanished from the scene.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Update on Jake's toe

Just got back from Dr. Rausch, who x-rayed Jake's foot & says it's not broken. He referred me back to my regular vet, whom I do like a lot, for follow-up treatment.

Xray shows a bit of a bone spur and thickening of the tissue, some of which he thinks is scar tissue. Bone spur can be as a result of an injury, such as a dislocation or serious sprain, or just regular arthritis--and it would take at least a couple of months for it to grow, so whatever this is, the original injury didn't take place just 2 weeks ago, although he might have aggravated it somehow 2 weeks ago. (And, yes, that was ALLLL one sentence!)

He suggests at least 5-6 weeks of no heavy-duty running or jumping (so, Jim/Nancy, no class for Jake probably the rest of the year :-((((( )

Gwen & others who've had to keep their active dogs inactive--I dunno how I'm going to get through this! At the moment he's got free run of the back yard, which he just demonstrated to me moments after we got home from the vet--and a squirrel appeared just as I opened the back door--involves some quantity of extremely intense running and jumping. (No yelp this time, thank goodness.) I'll have to discuss with my vet whether I need to keep him crated & on leash. Sigh.

Dr. Rausch suggests discussing with my doctor various nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, glucosamine & such, and acupuncture. He interprets the result as essentially arthritis, which might be career-ending and might be something that recedes and allows Jake to do whatever he wants to do with no (or minimal) pain. I will have to decide what to do about competition when/if the toe feels better and stops hurting at least once or 2x a day, which it currently does.

There don't appear to be surgical solutions. Dr. R. says that if this were a young, active, competing racing greyhound, that amputation of the toe would be a reasonable choice to prevent ongoing & unnecessary pain & that would slow the dog down. But neither of us think that's a good choice in this situation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Jake Can't Run at Bay Team Trial

I still don't know what the problem with Jake's foot is--can't get in to get an x-ray and see Dr. Rousch until next Tuesday, but it's been a week and a half and it's not better, so I have a feeling we're not going to be better enough to run at the Bay Team trial.

Monday, October 21, 2002

NADAC trials in November & Jake's foot

And now....

Jake's foot is definitely not better. I suspect that means it's not going to be better by our NADAC trial. I can't imagine that a toe joint that's as enlarged as his is (feels hard, not swollen, but I dunno) is going to get better in less than 3 weeks.

Any hope i had that it was maybe arthritis that maybe he's been able to ignore for a while & will continue to ignore especially now that he's been taking rymadil (sp?) for a week vaporized this morning when I wasn't thinking about it much and he dropped a toy as I was walking in the yard & I kicked it & he ran for it, whined sharply, and came up limping again.

Now i have to decide whether I'll really enjoy going to NADAC trials being able to run only Remington (and Tika in jumpers & tunnelers--she's not going to be ready for contacts for November trials, for sure). And especially since now we're so close to Jake's O-NATCh and I was thinking that the odds are good we could finish it with the Bay Team & Elk Grove NADACs. I think I'll be grouchy about the whole thing if I go.

I'll go for sure to the Bay Team trial. But now I have to decide about the Elk Grove trial. Closing date is Oct 31st--I can't get in to see Dr. Rousch until NEXT tuesday, so I won't have any firm diagnosis until then (assuming that we get one even then). At least that's in time--barely, maybe--to get an entry into Starfleet if it looks possible.

The lady I talked to at Dr. R's said that, if the toe is broken, he'll probably be in a splint with minimal activity for 6-8 weeks.

You know, it's one thing to see your dog gradually get slower & older & stiffer, but to have a dog who seems to be getting better & faster every month to suddenly have something wrong with him that's sidelining him, maybe forever (what if it *is* horrid arthritis or really bad calcification from some other reason?), it's a little jarring.

Just moaning as usual... I sent in Jake's entry for bay team with a note that I might have to pull him. I guess I ought to just do that now. :-((((((((

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Tika In Class/At Placerville

Wow--what a great day we had in class today! She was *on* and doing great!

Aframe & dogwalk: She was wonderful. We're still pretty much at the stage where I place her up high on the obstacle and then i stand still & say "touch" and she goes to the end & touches, two feet on & two off. She did great. Didn't swing her butt off to either side, which we'd been having problems with for a while. Have been working on getting her to sit into the end rather than stand, and she did pretty danged good at that on the Aframe. She's excited about getting onto the obstacle & doing it at a reasonable speed. Did discover that if I make her *wait* at a position on the obstacle and move off to the side and say "touch," she's not too sure about that. So I need to go back a couple of steps and make sure she understands that that means move on down. Rachel just started to introduce us to fading the target--suggested we wait another week before doing it, but Tika reacted well in class to once-there/once-not-there.

Teeter: We're starting on a low table & running to the end, two on/two off. Did very nice, fairly fast. Rachel introduced us last time to something that Susan Garrett does, which is to immediately go into wild play mode with the dog after they do the contact (all obstacles, actually), which is what makes them want to drive & slide into the contacts. I think I can see Tika speeding up already after a week of that.

Weaves: Wow! She skipped one pole only once, and she made her entrances both from a full-speed u-turn from a tunnel and going full speed over 2 jumps beforehand. And she's doing them *fast*! She looks like she's kind of crashing through them rather than doing them smoothly & effortlessly, but at last I didn't have to say "really, she does them faster at home!" Whatta girl!

Jumping/tunnel sequences: I'm still having a little trouble with the last jump of a serpentine, but she stayed with me the whole time in each sequence and was fast & didn't turn off or get confused & she carried out fairly well when I remembered to hold my body right for a long-enough time,and she was *fast* and handled both front crosses & back crosses! It's like we've jumped a whole level since last week--I dunno what's gotten into us. (I *have* been practicing doing more jumping sequences & carrying out here at home because I know that's where the problems are--but I didn't think I'd been doing *that* many. :-) )

Staying at the start line: She was perfect all through class! Class is where she usually *doesn't* stay at the start line, so I was very pleased.

I didn't realize that Rachel saw our run this weekend at Placerville--I was sorta hoping that she wouldn't see us in case we screwed up, but now I'm kinda glad that she did, because she said we did good except for the place I knew where she didn't carry out, over the end of a pinwheel, & Rachel says that's 'cause I didn't hold my position long enough. (Oh, yeah, and there was the not-staying-at-the-startline thing, but Rachel had the same problem with Fable. :-) )

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Tika--Aside from Agility--

The pulling on the leash is a killer. I can usually walk around an agility trial with her without a lot of tussle--unless she gets it into her head that one of the other dogs is especially fascinating. But Walkies time in the morning is such a blood-pressure raiser every day. Who do I walk first, for how long, what do I work on with her--it's supposed to be a relaxing, stress-free physical activity for me. Hard to believe it's been going on for 9 months and I haven't made all that much progress.

BUT I know she's better in so many areas. She still barks more than I'd like, but I *think* she generally barks less & shuts up more quickly when she does bark.

She has recently started this new thing--makes me nervous because she's so quiet for so long--she just lies out on the grass, watching the back yard go by, waiting for somethng exciting to happen. So I get worried, because in the past, long periods of quiet from the Merle Girl meant trouble. I mean, she doesn't always lie there--she gets up to check out gophers, and squirrels, and apples, and stray branches that are threatening national security--but she's doing it all so quietly!

I was going to say that she almost never barks at night any more, then she woke me up barking fiercely at something--twice--at 4:00 this morning. Yawn.

She now has figured out pretty much that when I tell her to get off the bed or to move, she has to do so, and that usually it just means an adjustment, not a banishment from the bed, so I don't have to fight her most of the time and hardly ever even have to move her physically.

Argh, we had a nasty surprise Saturday night at Placerville. At midnight, sound asleep in my tent, I was woken groggily from a deep sleep by a dog barking ferociously outside who sounded a lot like--Tika! Somehow she had worked the tent door open and gone out. Then apparently Holly Bourne has been out of her trailer for some reason, and Tika had decided that she looked like a threat and had gone into that full watchdog backside down, frontside stiff, full frontal barking thing, keeping Holly out of her trailer. It might have been funny if it wasn't so scary, actually.

She didn't come when I called her, but she at least stopped barking at Holly and moved off into the darkness somewhere. When I finally grabbed some shoes and a jacket and some junk food, she continued to not come when I called, moving further & further off among the dark crating area. Finally she heard the rustle of the goodie bag opening and closing and came right over. At least she's learned what that means!

I never know what to do then--don't want to yell at her for not coming, but I'm not sure whether lavish praise is the right thing, either.

But I was sure more careful about making sure the tent zippers were shoved inside the security tab. I have no good way of locking them, but I think I'll be OK if i'm careful.

I do have remember to clip her cabana crate closed, because she's figured out how to unzip that. Jeez, I hate smart dogs.

We keep working on the recalls and on not leaving the yard except on a leash at my side. She hasn't escaped recently, but I don't think she's a safe bet yet to let out in the front yard off leash. I see improvement all the time, though, no matter how slow. She's more like my old husky, who wanted to go explore, and less like Remington, who really was a homebody (although he'd go out of the yard occasionally to see what was on the other side of the driveway, he always wanted to come back quickly). Even Jake prefers sticking around & has shown no reall interest in exploring.

She's got "Left" and "right" commands almost down (turning in circles only), which is pretty exciting. I'll have to double-check my notes from Rachel's session at Camp on what to do next.

Anyway--that's the update on your baby girl, since I haven't written anything in a while & haven't seen you, either. Think I'll go take a nap.

Tika Runs at Placerville; Training Updates

Tika's jumpers run was kinda fun this last weekend, and a little frustrating, too. She didn't stay at the start line--I was trying to lead out beyond the 2nd jump, and I was 5 steps away from my spot when someone yelled "she's up!" and I turned and there was a gray bolt of lightning aimed straight at me, sharp brown eyes focused on me. That's the first time *that's* happened. Back to practicing sit/stay/release combos...

I called her off of the wrong #3 obstacle but I was still in the wrong position and when I tried to turn her, she took the wrong obstacle after all for the big E. But at least it gave me a moment to get into position. ;-) Then we ran the rest of the course with only a couple of rough hitches. Got wild applause from the large crowd watching. She was definitely among the faster dogs, although this is USDAA so there were some great dogs, and most much smoother than our run, at least of the ones I saw. I loved the way she stayed focused on me, although we need to get some of that focus onto the next obstacle (that's still where our rough spots come--not carrying well to the next jump).

Her weaves are getting SOOOO good. She's the first of my dogs where I'll really have to *move* to keep up with her going through the weaves. I think she's actually slowed down some now that she's working independently all the time--I'm wondering whether I should jsut occasionally hold her tab lead while she goes through to keep up her confidence. Hmm. I've been working on getting her to get the weave entrance after going full speed over a couple of preceding obstacles and from different angles. Getting better all the time...

Tika got the idea about staying on the table very quickly; now I need to combine the down with the jumping onto the table, and I think we'll have a pretty good table pretty quickly. IF I practice, that is--

Still a lonnnng way to go on contacts. I'm just not really practicing them much. I just don't see now how I'm ever going to get a novice title on her by Feb. 15. There aren't any competitions in December or January, even assuming we're ready by then! And the way Rem & Jake went this weekend (this is the 3rd agility event in just over a year where I've pulled jake because of a minor injury), I don't know whether it's practical to expect to do them at Camp again. Arrrrrgh

But she's going to be SUCH a blast to run! Fred Brattain was quite excited about seeing her run, for what that's worth.

Jake's Sore Foot

Just an update for those who might have seen Jake limping before I carried him off the gambler's course Saturday morning.

At the moment, his foot is in a big ol' bandage, which quite disgusts him. Looks like a white boxing glove. His outside toe on his right foot is swollen and painful. Vet thinks it could be a soft tissue injury about as much as it could be a hairline fracture or chip--doesn't think it's a real break in the bone. He offered to x-ray, but I worry about the anesthesia, especially for a dog who'll be 11 in 2 weeks, so I decided to keep giving it a rest for a week or 2 and see how it feels when we take the wrap off on Sunday.

So Jake won't be running at Madera. And he won't be in class this week or next.

Remington Not Moving As Fast Lately
I waffled about scratching entirely, since Remington hasn't been running his best at USDAA trials. But Becky Harsted kindly said she'd be willing to move Rem down to Performance, so I can see whether it's really the 26" height that slows him down--he's been running so FAST so CONSISTENTLY at NADAC and CPE trials, that I'm beginning to grudgingly think that the 6" difference is really a big difference for him in competition.

I'm not sure whether this means I'm giving up on ever earning those 2 standard legs Rem needs for his MAD. A PD III just doesn't have the same cachet as a MAD, and it's so infuriating that he's got so many of all of his games legs but can't get the standard ones... But if he's really much happier & more comfortable running the lower heights, maybe it's just time. After all, he's over 9 now, himself, and I thought he wasn't really showing it, but...

Monday, September 23, 2002

Title Updates for the boys

Jake has earned his superior gamblers title (S-EGC).
He now needs only 60 standard-leg points for his O-NATCH! We'd be getting there faster if he wasn't popping dogwalks left and right.

I finally went thru the ASCA certificates and figured out where both dogs are now--

Rem is RS-E,GS-E,JS-E
Jake is also RS-E,GS-E,JS-E

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Tika's Second Competition

Backfill: 11/10/02 Wow, she hauls butt! We didn't do as well at Turlock as we did at West Valley--she did one of the things I had expected before, which is to go past a couple or 3 jumps and one tunnel. On the other hand, I *know* I got cocky & didn't handle every obstacle as carefully as I did down in L.A. I didn't turn her around to go back & take the ones she missed--no point, I'd rather have her learn to run & have fun--so she probably might have been a second or so slower to go thru instead of past a tunnel & over instead of past a couple of jumps.

BUT she was almost 2 secs faster than the fastest Level 1 or 2 dog on that course--and her rate was 5.75 yps! Holy cow. Yikes.

I guess this is why I want a dog with this much energy and drive. MAN, that's fun.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Remington's Tests OK--Mostly

Took Rem back to the vet's today for a follow-up. He's been feeling & acting fine. His weight was down somewhere between 2.5 and 5 lbs from 2 weeks ago (depending on which scale they used--smaller amount was on the same scale he was weighed on then), though, which is a little odd, as he's been less active but eating the same amount of stuff--I think. Just occurs to me, maybe because I'm not doing as much with him, he's not getting as much Rollover? But, still, that's a LOT of weight in a very short period of time. He didn't have that much diarrhea or for all that long, and that was 2 weeks ago. So I'm teaching him to stand on the bathroom scales & am upping his food 10% for a couple of weeks to see what happens.

His blood test came back with everything back in the normal range except one liver test, which is slightly more moderately elevated than before. But the corresponding double-check test is completely normal. I dunno.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Remington Feels Great

Well, Remington is bored out of his head. Showed that by emptying the bag of Pacific Cookie Factory cookies that John Olsen so kindly brought me from Santa Cruz and which were stashed in the middle of the dining table while we were at WorldCon. He's definitely going to class tonight. Still has half-diarrhea, though. Will take him in Monday for a repeat blood test. Meanwhile, he's excited and eager to be doing stuff. Doesn't look tired or sick at all.

Remington's Mystery Illness

Backfill: 11/10/02 Remington is acting fine this week--totally bored--but I have to take him back in for another blood test. His red blood cell count was low (30, when normal is 40-60, I think), so he's anemic--but we don't know why. With a count that low, vet says that he can very easily exhaust himself 'cause he won't get enough oxygen through his system, but it's not dangerously low (that would be 20...).

Thing is, he also had pretty enthusiastic diarrhea & loss of appetite along with it for a few days, which is *not* a result of anemia, so we might have more than one problem or we might have multiple symptoms of something not diagnosed yet.

But I am bringing him to class tonight, since he wants DESPERATELY to do something! Bored dogs are a real challenge--

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Tika does weaves.

We hardly practiced anything for a week; Thursday I mostly spent packing for our L.A. trip and finishing up some work stuff; Friday we traveled; Sat and Sun we were in City of Industry for the agility trial; Mon I was pretty much wiped out from my cold and in bed. Tuesday when I tried sending Tika through the weaves, she did them without skipping any!

So I did a couple with the tab lead (she seems more confident and faster with light pressure against her collar), then more on her own. Between Tue evening and Wed morning, she did about 9 for 10 all correct all by herself. What a difference from a week ago! Maybe she just needed a rest.

Today in class Rachel showed us how to use a clicker and 2 angled weave poles to teach the dog to go over a jump and make the weave entries. Tika did great; progressed up to 4 straight-on weaves, and Rachel used us as the demo team to show how & when to click and treat.

Today's lesson was Click for the action; Reward for position. So click when the dog hits the weave entry, then give the treat further along the weave path, not in front of you or out to the side, so the dog continues the motion you want.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Remington Feeling Better/Addisons Negative/Tika's First Run Ever

Doctor called a little while ago; Remington definitely does not have Addison's disease. That's good. But we still have to figure out why he's anemic and/or monitor it to see whether it's a transient thing or getting worse.

From a friend: Hope you (and Rem) are feeling better today!

We both are, some. I had the energy to try a little agility with the kids before dinner today. Remington had been hanging around looking bored for several hours, instead of simply curled up sleeping like he did all weekend & all day yesterday. (Actually I did, mostly, too.) So we did a couple of Aframes (which he went down very slowly and gingerly, so I'm not sure what's going on there) and ran a couple of jumps, which he looked good on. He's anemic, though, and we don't know why. So now we're in a monitoring stage, and we'll retest his blood next week unless he gets worse again in the meantime.

Still, with the cough and all, he's not going to class tomorrow night, which will probably make him absolutely nuts if he *is* feeling better.

Tika's run: BTW, I forgot to say THANKS so much for taping Tika's run! You're right, it looks pretty darned good. Actually it goes by so fast that it's done almost before it's started! I liked your comments on the tape, especially about how calm i looked. (Didn't feel it! Probably like you felt with Bump on your novice courses--)

So what's wrong with Remington?

Blood tests show low red-cell count, low sodium (although vet says that could've come with his dehydration), one liver-enzyme test that's out of the normal range but a corresponding one that says he's OK so he's not worried about that, and a high-normal potassium (I think normal is 36-56 and Rem is 52). Lots of things could cause any of these. But apparently anemia, low sodium, and high potassium are signs of Addison's disease, which can be ugly and can crash a dog pretty hard & abruptly. So I took him back in this morning to get another test (yikes--these $ are adding up quickly) to try to rule that out. Apparently also some dogs with Addison's also have the upset stomach and diarrhea and dehydration, so that would also account for those symptoms, although I get the impression that the latter usually comes before the former, which didn't seem to be the case here.

Fret fret fret. Guess I just have to wait to hear from the vet this evening. I already called Power Paws to let them know that Rem wouldn't be in class tomorrow night, either because he's got bronchitis or is sick in some other way or both or whatever.

You know, he was slower in class last Wednesday than he had been for a while. Not horribly slow, but not the wild puppy abandon that he's been showing recently in class. So maybe he's been developing whatever it is for several days.

Actually it's odd, because Wed. night was also the night I left class early because my throat felt weird and I was having trouble catching my breath even after using the inhaler, and I was SO tired. Then the next day I woke up with a scratchy throat, which was sore by Thursday night. I wonder whether we both have the same thing at the same time? Not sure how that could happen. I wonder whether I should go get tested to see whether my red-cell count is down again, too, like it was last year when my back was so bad?

Monday, August 26, 2002

After West Valley--Me Sick/Remington Sick

Backfill: 11/10/02 Well, I'm glad I'm not trying to compete today, because my nose runneth over and my head appendages are so stuffed they're likely to explode. Bleah. Definitely the next stage of this cold that's been going thru stages all weekend.

Just got back from the Vet. Karey, you said you thought Rem was acting like he had a cold; Debbie, you noticed the horking like Rem was choking on something. Horking is a bit worse today. Vet says the coughing/horking sounds like bronchitis. Also, Rem is a bit dehydrated (I know he was drinking over the weekend, but not sure about most of today), and he did refuse dinner last night and had diarrhea this morning, so not sure whether that's consistent with bronchitis.

But no temperature, nothing seems sore, nothing else wrong that the vet can tell. Doing blood tests, though, which we'll have back tomorrow a.m. Vet said the same thing that Karey did, which is that he doesn't look sore, he just looks like he feels absolutely miserable.

If it is viral bronchitis, it's probably been contagious the last couple of days and odds are good that one of my other dogs--or dogs sharing hotel room, drinking water, and car--might come down with it in the next 2-3 weeks.

SOOOO I'll be so depressed if our fun weekend ends up with me getting you sick & Rem getting your dog sick! Ar--

And I have to keep my fingers crossed, too; our next trial isn't for 3 weeks, but if either of my other dogs starts making that nasty horking coughing sound, vet says I better keep them home.