Help feed shelter dogs!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Twas the day before Christmas
and all I can see
are images of Bubbe
spread out before me.

The stockings are hung
by the stairway with care
but his little stocking
is no longer there.

I miss his sweet face
and his loving eyes
especially in the kitchen
when I was baking a pie.

Waldo the basset
is my biggest fan,
but now on this day
I think of the Old Man.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! I'll be back on the blog after January 1, 2008.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


All, I am very sad to tell you about the passing of sweet, handsome Fritz yesterday. Here he is being snuggled by his mom Suzanne. She had discovered the blog and had written to me last week about his diagnosis of canine lymphoma three months ago. Unfortunately, Suzanne is now walking the path that many of us have already traveled.

Fritz left this earth yesterday to join his canine brother Buzz, who passed away last February. They are now happily playing at the Rainbow Bridge, waiting for their mom.

Please send your good thoughts and well wishes to Suzanne during this terrible time. Fritz, we wish you peace and a continued journey free from pain and cancer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

PetScreen outreach

So as I wrote in a previous post, I recently learned of a company called Petscreen that offers blood test to detect canine lymphoma. After signing up for their mailing list, here is the email that was sent to me:

Dear Linda

I hope this email finds you and your pets in good health. Thank you for your recent registration with Petscreen. I have now sent details of our services to your vet and if you wish to have your dog screened for lymphoma then please feel free to make an appointment from next week and take them along to the vet. If you have any questions, or would like further information, then please feel free to contact me on the number listed below, alternatively you can email me at this address.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Kind regards


Renu Tuli

Operations Manager

I think it is interesting that their outreach strategy is to send information to people's vets one at a time. Considering the thousands of vets in the US, that could take a long while before any and all vets know about it. I also wonder about the cost of the test. As we all know, canine diagnostics can get very expensive for even in-house procedures.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

To Suzanne

This post is to Suzanne. I just wrote you back privately about Fritz but since I have a unique (i.e., weird) domain name, sometimes my replies end up in a SPAM folder. If you didn't get my reply, please let me know.

Petscreen / healthy cookies?

I can’t believe another week has flown by! Yay, Friday! Work has been absolutely insane and I feel like I can’t get a grip on the fact that it’s (a) winter and (b) the holiday season. I now understand why old people are always talking about how time flies and how life “used to be…”

Anyway, I have both a question and a piece of info. Folks in the UK like Graham and Lesley may have already heard of Petscreen, a company based in Nottingham. The company has developed a screening test for canine lymphoma. I don't know many details about it since I am still reading through their web site. As far as I know, Petscreen is not very well known or available in the US. Has anyone outside of the UK heard of this screening? If so, have you done it? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts/experience.

Also, I am on the hunt for a healthy dog cookie recipe. I have found countless dog cookie recipes on the web, but would like a recipe that has been tried and tested by someone I know. Upon reading the labels on dog treats, I am appalled at the number of ingredients that I can't pronounce. Right now, I feed Waldo the dried chicken breast treats or the natural dog treats from my local pet store. The cookies have less than 10 ingredients and all are naturally occurring. If you have a dog cookie that you can share, please leave a comment as well! Perhaps we can have our own version of a canine cookie swap.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

New daycare / Prozac nation

Waldo completed his first full day at Gibson Kennels. He did really well and tons of doggy fun. Prior to his arrival, I had received several printed handouts from Gibson that covered everything from basic info (pickup and dropoff times) to the daily schedule(play from 9am to 12pm, nap from 12-2pm and then more play until dark) and other FAQs. I have been impressed so far regarding their written communication. They also made sure I had a copy of the policy, which I thought was great attention to detail. The cost compared Dogma is the same (about $20 per day).

When I arrived to pick him up, I got another printed handout about "how to care for sore paws" with first aids tips. The daycare yard is mulched with stone so sometimes dogs with sensitive paws come home after their first day of playing with sore feet. Again, nice touch.

As for the second part of the title of this post, I now have my first official pet that has been put on Prozac. No, not Waldo. Peanut... the neurotic cat. I won't go into the details since this blog is supposed to be about doggy stuff, but let's just say that she is quite manic. The vet suggested a few weeks of Prozac to help with her transition. We'll see how that goes....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Busy busy busy!

Sorry to have been away from the blogosphere. It seems like forever but it's only been about 2 weeks. In the meantime, I am way behind in my reading of my favorite blogs as well as updating my own.

Speaking of updates, there are plenty. I started the new job in Boston and am thankful it is part-time. There was an accident on the highway the other morning and it took me nearly 2 hours to get to work! I've been working from home for 5 years so I am a bit "soft" when it comes to dealing with rush hour traffic. In the meantime, I am still keeping up with my full-time job as a freelance magazine writer and am up to my eyeballs in work. A blessing and a curse, as they say.

As for the animals, Peanut the cat is settling in nicely. Waldo wants nothing more than to play with her, and she wants nothing more than to try and rip his face off. All in all, there is order in the animal kingdom.

Peanut is the typical cat. Here she is loving up her cardboard scratcher (all the better to sharpen her claws so she can swipe at Waldo!)

He is thoroughly confused by her cat-like ways; such is the case here where he can't figure out why she is sitting in this box. Note the look of annoyance in her eyes as she waits for him to leave.

And here is a cute but totally gratuitous photo of Waldo watching a dog show. I wonder what he was thinking...?

Oh, and Waldo passed his interview at his new daycare place. His first day there is tomorrow. They do not use bark collars and will put a dog in time out if he gets too riled up. I spoke with the daycare manager about how they deal with the dogs throughout the day, and this place seems to be more aligned to how I like to communicate and how I like to discipline. They will certainly call and/or let me know at pickup if there was anything out of the ordinary.

Sorry for the short update. More to come....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Three months today

It's been three months since Watson's passing. I look forward and see the holiday season.... and imagine Watson standing in the kitchen waiting for a taste of whatever is cooking. He was so patient when he wanted something. He would sit and watch me intently, waiting for any kind of signal that I was going to give him a bite of food or the lick from a spoon headed for the kitchen sink. Eating was his absolute favorite activity.

I look back and it seems like yesterday that we were bringing him to the vet's office for the last time. He rode in the car so well. He would just settle down in the back of our SUV, lying on top of the folded-down back seats. It seems like the memories from his last day are right over my shoulder. If I turn around fast enough, I can catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye.

Now when I hear paws on the tile floor, it's Waldo.... who brings me much joy and entertainment, but has yet to fill that space in my heart that was occupied by Watson's companionship.

For all who have experienced the loss of a good friend (canine or otherwise), I wish you peace and comfort as we begin the holiday season.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Interesting Link from Lesley

Lesley just left this story link in the comments section and I wanted to elevate it as a full post.
"Welsh Assembly To Ban Electric Shock Collars For Dogs"

I will post more later, but for now I am in the crush of deadlines, extra work because next week is a holiday, Peanut the new cat and a stress headache that makes my noggin feel like a bowling ball.

We can't all have as much fun at work as Graham does.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Waldo gets a sister!

We are picking up Waldo's new sister today! Peanut, a three-year-old girl cat, is joining our household this afternoon. Waldo has already snacked on her cat litter (good thing it's all natural, right?), so it should be an interesting weekend.

I'll be off the blog for a few days but will post about Peanuts arrival next week.

Perspective Watch - I'm glad I live on high ground, and not here... or here....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blah-g entry

I have a few things to write about today and I couldn't think of a proper title. So today is the generic blog entry.

First, the neck update: The infection has cleared up, the scabs are gone and we have fur (woo hooo!) I have loosened his collar enough that it sits below the bald spot but I have to be careful as it can still slip over his pinhead. There is a bit of baby fur coming in, so hopefully it will continue to fill out and I can leave his collar on full-time again.

We were recommended to another daycare/boarding facility by a co-worker of Rich's. The place is in Grafton, MA; it's a bit more out of the way. I did ask how they discipline the dogs. They don't use bark collars; they spray with water or a hose, do time-outs or just ignore them and let them bark until they have a headache. I like that they do training there as well. Waldo likes his trainer, but some reinforcement while at daycare or while boarded will do some extra good. He needs his kennel cough shot first, so we won't have our intake interview for about 2 weeks. Of course, I will post about the visit when it happens.

Through this whole neck thing, I have gotten emails and posts about how my perspective is screwed up; how I shouldn't be sweating "small stuff". That is a matter of opinion, for sure. What's small to you may not be small to me. Of course, there are always larger issues that take precedence and priority over "stupid" things like the use of a bark collar on a dog. To this end, I have added a Perspective Watch that I will include at the end of each post. Yes, there are bigger issues... but give me the freedom and right to focus on whatever issues I deem important in my daily life.

By the way, the Tuffie toy is also still holding its own. We are at two and half days and counting. I am impressed. The stuffing is all out and now there are 2 holes in it, but the stitching is holding together. Waldo has extracted 2 of the 4 squeakers so far but he is having problems with the last 2. So far, I feel like the $12 was worth every penny!

Oh, and when did Winter happen? I am sitting here typing and the gentle voice from the local NPR station just pleasantly announced that there is a chance of snow showers on Friday. Blech!

Perspective watch - At least I was not born with 8 limbs nor am I paying $8 for gallon of gas
(Sorry to blog readers in the UK. I don't mean that as a dig. I don't see how you guys manage with those gas prices though!)

Monday, November 5, 2007

the myth of the indestructible dog toy

Besides the hard rubber and nylon chew toys like the Kong or the Nylabone, I've always thought that fluffy, fuzzy or squeaky dog toys labeled "indestructible" were a joke. A clever marketing scheme to get us to buy endless amounts of chew toys, only to have them ripped to shreds in a matter of minutes right before our very eyes.

I've had dogs most of my life, but Waldo is second only to a crazy beagle my mom had when I was in college in expertise in ripping apart dog toys. He is adept at finding the absolute weakest point in a chew toy and working on that one spot to eviscerate it. He will attack the toy like it is his sole mission in life to disassemble it in record time. Have you ever seen those scenes in movies where the highly-trained military officer can dismantle a gun in seconds while blindfolded? Yeah, that's Waldo with a new chew toy, except that he's not blindfolded.... nor does he have thumbs. =)

I had to run to Home Depot this afternoon and stopped by Petco on my way there to get him a new toy. I found a chew toy called Tuffie's, the world's "tuff"est soft dog toy. Well, okay... I have tried almost everything else in the chew toy aisle so why not. I have spent $12 on worse causes.

The toy has 4 layers of material and 7 rows of stitching (woo hoo!). The label even says "Tired of paying $$$ for dog toys only to have them destroyed in minutes?" YES! Of course! Here I am getting sucked into marketing writing again.... ironic considering I do that for a living. "No matter," I think to myself. "This one will be different. The label says so!"

The Tuffie has 4 fabric layers (600D nylon, PVC, another layer of 600D nylon and then the soft fleece outer layer) and each squeaker is sewn into it's own compartment. The fabric also has a repeating cross-stitch to keep the layers intact. Yippee.... I have high hopes that this one will last the night!

It's been two and a half hours since I gave Waldo the Tuffie and this is what I have to report: he's breached all 4 layers, yanked out about 5 handfuls of white batting, and has managed to remove and destroy one of the 4? 5? squeakers sewn into the toy. Here he is on his favorite rug in the kitchen, working his way to the next squeaker.

I do give this toy props in that it took him hours and not minutes to rip it. I think he will have it fully eviscerated by tomorrow.

Anyone have other experiences with tough chew toys that last longer than 5 minutes? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Somehow I am the bad guy?

To the anonymous commenters, I think there has been a misunderstanding. Please take a look at this photo of Waldo's neck, taken this morning. This is a direct result from a bark collar used on him. His neck is bald, irritated and also got infected. How can you look at this and tell me that I can't be upset?

ADDED NOTE: For the record, I have never used the word "abuse" in any of my posts. Abuse is a serious word that I would not use lightly. Please be clear that I am not accusing Dogma of abuse. My point seems to have been lost in the flurry of comments.

This situation is a result of poor communication and my inexperience with doggy boarding. This injury happened to him when he was there from Friday to Sunday, over a weekend and not when he was there for daycare during the day. I had asked about his food for the weekend but because I did not know that boarding/daycare places use bark collars, I did not know to ask. On the flip side, I was never told about this practice either.

I would like this discussion to be constructive. People should know to ask about these things. And if they are okay with it, then great! I am not a fan of those collars and yes, he is in obedience classes to help control his barking. He's been in obedience classes since we adopted him! But bassets are stubborn and he is a slow learner. =)

Anyway, someone please tell me how to prevent this from happening again. Is there a cream or a supplement he should be taking to help his skin from reacting this way? Are there other places like Melisa's recommendation of PetSmart Petshotel that will just let them bark to their hearts content?? What are the questions that need to be asked when boarding your dog?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Neck Update

The vet prescribed a tube of Tritop ointment and some chlorhexiderm solution for Waldo's neck. The wound has progressed into a skin infection so these meds should help keep it clean and microbal-free. My vet says that the fur *should* grow back... I just hope he doesn't have a bald spot there forever. It's in the general area of where a collar would sit, so having bare skin there will be uncomfortable for him.

The Tritop is to be used for the next 5-7 days. Hopefully he will heal up in that time and we can get back to normal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

no words

I received a call back from Tracy at Dogma about 30 minutes ago. I almost have no words to describe how angry, frustrated and stupid I feel right now. She returned my call and immediately volunteered the fact that they had put a bark (shock) collar on Waldo when he was boarded there last weekend. Before she knew how upset I was, she continued on to say that sometimes a dog will have an allergic reaction to the collar and will scratch at that area.

I am angry because he has been going there since the summer and not once did they ever tell me that (1) his barking was a problem, and (2) that they use bark collars. She immediately said that I had signed the contract saying I understood they have to control barking but I don't remember reading anything about shock collars. I'm sure there is come legalese language that absolves them of all responsibility for anything anyway.

All she had to do was call me while he was boarded there and ask if that method was okay with me (it's not). She even said that she didn't want to take him out of group play since he plays so well with the other dogs... so of course the only other option is to put a shock collar on him?? No. If I had been asked and given a choice, he would have just sat in a kennel until he calmed down and stopped barking.

I am frustrated because I am trying so hard to make positive, healthy changes for him yet I royally screw up and leave him in the hands of people who hurt him.

I feel stupid because I should have read, re-read and sent a copy of that contract to an attorney!! I know that last part would have been overkill... but....

Before I signed him up at Dogma, I toured the facility and asked questions about how they care for dogs. I saw where the dogs play, saw the food they are fed, saw the place where they sleep. Now I know to ask how they are reprimanded. I never even thought to ask about shock collars because I don't use them and just didn't think. On top of my due diligence, I was recommended to this place by a colleague who was a former vet tech who also brings her dog there.

I thought I had done my homework.... but Waldo still ended up being hurt.

I offered to email her the photos of his neck but they do not list an email address on their web site. She just kept saying she was sorry and that they are not in the business of hurting dogs.

He will not go back there again. And I will let everyone I know who will want to listen to me that they use shock collars......

How do you feel about this?? Leave a comment and let me know. Better yet, write Dogma a letter and let them know how you feel:
154 Riverlin St.
Millbury, MA 01527

You're right...

Okay, so I just called Dogma, the doggy day care place , and left a message. Lori's comment on the previous post about Waldo's neck just pushed me to call. Everyone keeps telling me to say something so I am. Hopefully they will at least call me back and tell me if they did indeed tie him up or use a bark collar on him. Either way, they should have called me. When I picked him up on Sunday, 10/21, all they said was the he had a good time and would sleep well that night (presumably from the tiredness of playing all day).

Today his neck is still red but many of the scabs have fallen off (see photo). The skin underneath is nice and pink, so hopefully the fur will grow back soon. Here is today's picture.

I am also emailing my colleague who recommended this place to me to let her know what has happened. I'm also sending the photos so she can see for herself. She has an American Pit Bull, so maybe her much sturdier dog doesn't have these problems at Dogma.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yay, Sunday!

Sunday.... it's my favorite day of the week. And what a great Sunday it was yesterday. The Red Sox won the World Series and I can finally get to bed on time again.

Saturday night we went to the Tragically Hip show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. The Orpheum is a very old, run down but sort of cool theater. The seats may be small and uncomfortable, but the bands who play there really do put on a good show. I brought my sad, pocket-sized little Sony digital camera and tried to take some photos. Most were too blurry and dark, but here's one happy accident that actually is a pretty cool picture.

Waldo was in his pen for about 8 hours while we were gone. He does really well in his portable x-pen. I had never thought of putting him in a portable pen until we saw on in use at our local pet store. I like that it can be made into different shapes and sizes, depending on where we are and what we are doing with it. It folds nearly flat for transport too.

Waldo's neck update is that his wound is healing, although it looks worse now than at the beginning of the week. The scabs are slowly coming off but also taking his fur with it. The skin that is showing looks healthy, so I hope his fur grows back quickly. For now, we are calling him "Bald Neck". Really though, it looks worse than it actually is... I'll keep an eye on it and, if it doesn't look better in a week or so, I'll bring him by the vet to have a closer look.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good Book, Sleepy Puppy, Meet George

I have been enthralled by Barbara Kingsolver's new book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" for the past week or so. The book was released in May 2007, but I only read about it recently and picked up a copy at our local library. The book is part memoir and part information guide and tells the story of how her family decided to grow all of their food and/or buy locally for an entire year. That means no hothouse-grown strawberries in December and no South American asparagus in February.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through the book now; so far, so good. The author lives on a 100 acre farm, which makes life easier when it comes to growing all you need to feed a family of four for a year. I've been gardening on a small scale for about 3 years now, and I still have so much to learn. Much like what we're trying to do with Waldo, we've also been cleansing ourselves of pesticide-ridden, commercially grown fruits and vegetables. We have several great family-owned farmstands around us that operate from April/June to October, but I haven't quite figured out what to do for the winter months. I'm not sure if I can handle eating a mealy, tasteless tomato from the supermarket again.

Speaking of winter, I just put in a heating pad for Waldo's bed. The pad was originally used for the Old Man and his aching bones. I figure that Waldo would enjoy it as well. What do you think?? Is that a sleepy puppy or what?

And finally, what has been big news around our house has nothing to do with dogs or dogs with cancer. I'd like you to meet George, our new MINI Cooper S. We picked him up last night and had fun driving him back home. Rich is super excited about it since he chose all of the accoutrements, so I suspect that I'll be allowed to drive it in a few months. =)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Vermont weekend

What a weekend! We took off on Friday for a long weekend up north. The fall foliage is amazing this time of year, and it so happened that Friday was also our 5th wedding anniversary. Waldo was dropped off at the kennel and we were on the road early towards the Burlington, VT area of the world.

There were a few must-have stops on our trip; the first being Simon Pearce for lunch and some window shopping. There is nothing like a bowl of their cheddar soup! And their glass blowing is truly an art... someday I hope to have a set of their drinking glasses. Once I win the lottery, that is....

Over the weekend, we also visited my personal mecca known as Gardener's Supply Company. They have anything and everything to please the gardener's soul. I was especially happy about their outlet store. A new shovel is great but even better when it's on sale!

On the way back on Sunday, we were stuck in horrendous traffic and were late picking Waldo up from the kennel. We had to pay a late charge or otherwise pick him up in the morning. I was adamant that he not stay another night and paid the $20 fee. He was happy to see us and seemed tired when we got home. I immediately threw him in the bath since he had spent the past 3 days rolling around with other dogs in the pond mud (and he smelled like it).

It was after I got his fur wet that I noticed some injuries to his neck. His mid-to-upper neck was swollen (below the jaw, above the collar line) and there were scabbed-over markings on his neck. (See photo.) It didn't hurt him to touch that area but it looked suspect. My gut says that they tied him up and he was pulling and straining against his collar. I chose this kennel (which is also his daycare place) on a recommendation from a fellow dog owner; I liked the fact that the dog could roam around in fenced areas. There should be no reason to tie him to anything, especially since they have a dozen or so crates for the misbehaving dogs.

There have been times that he has returned from a day at daycare with some injuries that were inflicted by other dogs. A bitten ear or a scratch on his back. I know they can't watch all dogs all the time, so I didn't say anything. These marks look more significant, but I am debating as to whether to say anything. I've pretty much made up my mind that we won't go back there, so I don't know what use it would be to cause a fuss. They would, of course, deny any wrongdoing and I, as the departing customer, would have no use for whatever discount they might offer.

After his bath, Waldo did his usual mildly damp, mad dash around the house. He runs from room to room like his tail is on fire, occasionally stopping to wipe one side of his head on the nearest throw rug.
I had purchased some Neptune's Harvest fertilizer at Gardener's Supply and had prepared my watering can to give my plants one more feeding before winter. Before I knew it, Waldo had snuck his long snout into my watering can and was drinking from it. Yikes! What happens when a dog drinks fish emulsion fertilizer? It's organic... and he is still alive 24 hours later. Should I worry??

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Two months and two days

It has been exactly two months and two days since Watson passed away. How time flies. Lesley, if you still read this blog, I have to tell you that you were right. Time passes and at some point you say to yourself "I feel better". His illness and death seem so far away at this moment. At some point I've stopped looking behind me and have moved forward.... just a little bit though, as I still miss the sound of his paws on the tile floor, and I still look for his sweet face staring from the landing at the top of the stairs when I go up for bed.

I started letting Waldo sleep upstairs with us. He's in Watson's old spot, right next to my side of the bed. The choice was either to let him come up or to put the bed away. I couldn't really stand to wake up and see the empty bed anymore. I have pretty much sniffed Watson's smell right out of it anyway.

I do still sleep with Watson's collar next to my pillow. Morbid, perhaps, but I will often fall asleep with it in my hands and thinking of the Old Man. I say a little prayer for him and tell him once again that I hope he knows we loved him, and that we tried to do right by him.... There is so much I know now about canine lymphoma that I didn't know before... I'm ready for the "next time" but my heart is still heavy that I had to learn it all at Watson's expense. I'm sorry, Bubbe, we tried.....

Apples = cyanide poisoning?

My niece and I went apple picking over the weekend and brought home a huge bag of apples to share. Of course, Waldo was intensely curious about the bag too. On Monday, he managed to steal an apple and played with it/ate it over the course of an hour or so. I thought "oh, how cute!" when I noticed that he ate it from the bottom-up (core and all).

Well, not so cute as I have since learned that the seeds in apples are not good for dogs. The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides that break down as cyanide when digested. Not good. I can't seem to find any information on the levels of toxicity, but I can only assume that he will be okay since he is still alive and kicking two days later. Now I feel foolish for thinking that it was cute and at least the apple would give him more fiber in his diet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sponge Bob and a hot dog

This weekend was more activity that I've had in a long time. I had my niece Lauren and my friend Melanie over at the house for the weekend. Waldo was beside himself and was so happy to have the company. He is still is unsure of new people or even people he hasn't seen in a while, but once he warms up to them then he's fine.

Lauren brought her Sponge Bob Squarepants shirt so I thought I would put Waldo's shirt on him as well. He can't quite figure out the clothing thing yet. I don't dress him up too often so when I do, he tries to rip it off with his teeth. Either that, or he trots around and pleads for help from anyone but me.

But seriously, how cute are they??

Speaking of dressing the dog, Waldo's Halloween costume came in the mail yesterday. Some of you may remember the poll I posted to take votes on what he should be for Halloween. I bought the chicken costume in a size medium, but the head was too big and the body was too small. Waldo is quite stout, so he tends to wear a size large. However, he has a bit of a pin head that needs a size small. Instead of the chicken, we have opted for this lovely vintage designer hot dog costume that simply has 2 Velcro straps around his mid-section. Fashionista in the making!

Web site

I just read about the web site that works with 120+ shelters in the US that destroy dogs. The MSNBC article states: "How much time the dogs get before death varies from state to state. In New York City, for instance, a stray dog must be kept a minimum of three days, while a shelter has the legal right to immediately destroy an animal that is abandoned there by its owner. About 4 million dogs are put to death each year in the United States, by injection or gas."

I'm not sure how I feel about the countdown clock though. But it strikes me as very sad that some of us do whatever we can to keep our dogs alive, yet 4 million of them are put to death every year because they can't find a home. Shameful.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What I love about dogs, part deux

Lost dog walks 7 miles to find his home

IRWIN, Pa. --Bailey didn't need MapQuest or a navigation system to find his way back to his North Huntingdon home. Instead, the 10-year-old bichon frise dog used his nose.

Bailey was lost late last month when his owner took him to Darragh, where he was cutting wood for his sister. The 15-pound dog disappeared.

Three days later, Bailey showed up on his own front porch, whining from hunger and with a few scratches.

Since his trek, Bailey has become something of a star, getting phone calls and cards from around the country, a few gift baskets and even a free grooming at the Cutie Petutie dog salon in Westmoreland County.
Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

What I love about dogs...

We had to get up at the ungodly hour of 3:30am to get Rich to the airport for a 6am flight this morning. Why 6am flights even exist is beyond me. I can see how it was easier to fly that early when it didn't take 2 years to get through security lines at the airport! One of the many things I love about dogs is that they are so absolutely *happy* to see you no matter what time it is. Waldo's kennel is right off the kitchen, so he can hear everything that's going on. I let him out to give him a snack, and Mr. Wigglybutt Waldo was doing his happy dance around the kitchen. He had no clue that it was the middle of the night, still dark out and not really time to get up for the day. I put him back in his kennel before we left and he happily sat there and watched us walk out the door.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


File this one under: are you an idiot? Waldo and I were just out for our (leashed) walk. There is a pleasant loop from my house to our quaint downtown that is about 1.5 miles. We had reached the downtown area when Waldo saw his arch-nemesis - a delivery guy rolling a handtruck down the sidewalk. (As an aside, Waldo spent the first 6 months of his life in a cage at a pet store. We got him as a rescue at 8 months, so he was really behind in terms of socialization and exposure to life in general. Objects on wheels still scare the piss out of him.)

Anyway, he was already nerved up about the guy and it was all I could do to keep him walking. We pass the guy when no sooner do I hear "oh, baby! hello! come here, baby!" coming from the opposite side of Main St. It was emanating from a woman who was waving her arms and smiling. I honestly didn't think she was talking to me/us so I kept walking.... so she screamed louder. Yes, she was talking to us. She was trying to call Waldo across a busy street. She was trying to call my dog to run across a traffic-laden street!

Hello!??!? Is your brain on?? I was so mad. So then she waits for traffic to pass and trots after us. Then she literally stands in front of us and tells me that she has a few dogs of her own but that they weren't afraid of traffic. Uh, duh. Is it because you make them play chicken in the street?

I'm sure she was trying to be friendly (we do live in a small town) but COME ON. If I didn't have a tight hold on his leash, he might be a hood ornament right now.

Monday, October 8, 2007

8 Hours in NYC

I can tell I am getting old.... I had to take a business trip to NYC on Friday: out the door at 6:30am to catch the train, back home at 10:30pm. It was a long day but I felt pretty good throughout. That is, until I woke up on Saturday feeling like I was hung over and/or hit by a bus. I didn't feel like myself again until several naps later.

Waldo was packed off to daycare on Friday and had a fantastic time. Sometimes I don't know why we bother to feed him quality food since he eats anything he can get his snout on. He came back from daycare covered head to toe in pond mud (his daycare place has a fantastic man-made pond with filtered water). I found mud caked in his ears and his teeth, and Rich said there was mud caked up, in and on his nose (among other places) when he picked him up.

Yesterday we went for our first off-lead walk in quite some time. Here's a photo of Waldo (the small speck in back) near an old well near the trail. It is usually full, but the summer has been so dry here that the well was empty.

He did well on the walk and his recall has improved since the spring. I stopped taking him off-lead when the warm weather hit since our favorite trail is also shared with horses. Horses + warm weather = more riders and more horse poo (Waldo's favorite yummy treat) Thankfully he seems to have broken the habit of eating as much horse poo as possible before I yell at him to stop. Yesterday, he merely wanted to stand in it at every opportunity. =) Ahhhh, kids.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cleaner cleaners

I've always had quite a sensitive sense of smell, something that Rich calls my "dog nose". Because of my olfactory condition, I avoid anything that is heavily perfumed/scented. I don't wear perfume or buy air fresheners, etc. I do use scented candles but only in open spaces. I can't sit next to one without getting a headache.

Watson's illness really got me thinking about the environment within our house. Our cat, Crusty, died a month a half before him with a double-whammy of lung cancer and renal failure (like I said, it's been a tough couple of months). The vet said it was probably environmental exposure for Crusty. We adopted her when she was 10, so she could have lived most of her life with smokers, for example. Same with Watson; the cause of his lymphoma will always be a question for me. He was also around 9 or 10 years old when we adopted him, so who knows that he was exposed to before then.

I've always prided myself on a clean house and the way I achieved that was any number of commercial, over-the-counter cleaning sprays, solvents and liquids (all unscented, so I thought I was doing my environmental best). My recent mission has been to discard many of the cleaners I have always used - Windex, Pine-Sol, Fantastik - in favor of more natural and less toxic cleaners. My new favorite is method's window wash, with ingredients of rice alcohol, naturally derived surfactant, biodegradable solvent, fragrance oil blend (mint), color and purified water.

Winter is coming and now is the time of year that I tend to wash the windows, take out the screens, etc. I took a look at the Windex bottle and discovered that it doesn't list ingredients. A look on their web site says that "multiple household cleaning challenges require powerful multi-surface cleaners" -- how's that for marketing brain wash?? The web site also doesn't list what's actually in Windex, except to note the powerful cleaning effect of Ammonia-D(r).

So, what is Ammonia-D? A quick Google search led me nowhere except I noticed that alot of other people also were asking the same question. Is it ammonia with a bunch of other chemicals mixed in? If so, then what other chemicals? Further digging and I found the Material Safety Data Sheet for Windex. See page 3 of the MSDS sheet for Windex regarding toxicity and rats and rabbits. Blech. Out goes the Windex, never to be bought again.

I feel good that hopefully this is one less toxin that Waldo will have to breathe in. Pollutants tend to settle toward the floor, so I need to be conscious of that since he's only about 6 inches from the ground. I also found this article called "An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality" from the EPA that was interesting. It says, in part, that "Studies have found that levels of several organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. During and for several hours immediately after certain activities, such as paint stripping, levels may be 1,000 times background outdoor levels." Yuck. Open a window.

If all this talk has led you to want a drink, I also found that there is a "Windex shot" made of vodka, triple sec, and blue Crua├žao for color. Uh....Yum?

Funny how the memories come...

I was just reading Graham's blog and his recent post triggered a memory in my lizard brain. He wrote about being on a plane for a business trip and related that the last time he flew was shortly after Prince died. The relationship between the two events triggered an emotional response... and suddenly as I was reading, I had a flash to the week that Rich was on a trip and Watson was not eating.

It was 10pm and I had run out of ideas on how to get him to eat. I had literally tried everything in the kitchen cabinets. I grabbed my keys and headed out to the nearest market (which is a Super Wal-Mart, but don't get me started on how much I hate Wal-Marts in general). I remember walking up and down the aisles, grabbing anything I thought he would like - beef liver, chicken breasts, baby food, bacon, Slim-Jims, people crackers, yogurt, frozen dinners - ANYTHING. I felt so desperate and irate at the same time.

Watson was also having serious bouts of diarrhea then, so I couldn't leave him for longer than 30 minutes or so. That trip through the store was like that game show, where they give you and cart and say "go, you have 5 minutes to gather up all you can carry"!

I realized that I have not stepped foot in that store since Watson died. I am not a Wal-Mart shopper anyway (I drive farther down the road to go to a real market) but it occurs to me that I should go back. If anything, I need to confront the emotions that wait there for me.

There are other things that I have not done - either subconsciously or consciously - since Watson passed. Watson and I used to walk the loop at a cemetery down the street everyday, sometimes twice a day. I've taken Waldo down there once, and it was recently, but it was still too soon. I wasn't ready to walk the same steps with a different dog, so Waldo and I usually walk in the other direction.

As I had previously written, I've done my best to put my memories under lock and key in my head. It's the only way I can get through each day. I'm ready to find joy again but I can't do that without opening up and sifting through my emotions first.

When my mom died in 2002, it took me 2 years before I could sit still again. If I sat still long enough, my mind would wander back to her. So the things I enjoyed doing while seated, knitting or reading a book, came to a complete halt. It wasn't until I dealt with my feelings that I could return to my normal activities.

But I am still so mad... and sad, and hurt.... I am so angry that cancer has once again touched my life and taken away someone I loved. I am utterly pissed that Watson is gone. I rage at the unfairness that some people float through life without ever feeling an ounce of loss. But I can't go there just yet... there is work to do, errands to run, etc., etc., etc..... so for now, I push it back.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Finding pet people

Ever since I started to blog, I've been surprised by the types of people who are "insane pet people" like me. I added the blog link to my business web site and to my email signature a while ago, and am always pleasantly surprised at the response. I wasn't sure if that was the right move as I always try to be the consummate freelance professional, and you never know what people think about silly dog blogs.

After Watson passed, I seriously wondered if I was going to continue the blog anyway. He was gone, so what was there to write about. My interest in canine cancer continues, as will the blog. I even registered a URL that also points to this blog (, so someday I will learn how to move the Blogger pages onto that domain. That will have to happen in my free time... whenever that will be.

As you know, I started feeding Waldo a raw diet in August, shortly after Watson passed. I was dismayed to hear about the recent Bravo raw food recall ( I suppose considering that it is raw meat, there will be recalls like these. Dry kibble is so over-processed that even the germs are processed out along with the vitamins and nutrients. I am still feeding him Nature's Variety, but have switched
to the patty form factor rather than the medallions. The patties are a tad cheaper and they fit into my freezer a bit easier. I can fit 36 days of patties (3 rolls) into the same footprint as 2 bags of medallions (96 medallions, or 11 days of food).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A "Jug" at the Dog Park

So, Waldo and I found the dog park. Ironically, it's located in a town I lived in about 7 years ago. Back then, the town wasn't dog-friendly at all. And now they have this lovely fenced-in park specifically for dogs. Fantastic.

Interesting, though, the people and dogs you meet at a dog park at Noon on a Thursday. I was hoping to meet others who are young, hip-ish and who also work from home. No such luck. I hung out with Grandpa Greg and his beagle/basset mix Rudy. They were about to leave when we showed up. Apparently Greg and Rudy hung out for about 30 minutes by themselves before we arrived.

Coming in after us was Rosco, a "Jug". A Jug? Yes, apparently he is a Jack Russell mixed with a Pug. Curious. I had heard of Labradoodles (Labs mixed with Poodles) and Puggles (Pugs with Beagles) but never a Jug! He was cute, small (about 15-20 pounds, tops) and was a very fast runner.

It got me thinking though, about the notion of designer breeds. Apparently Pugs are often bred with other kinds that have a longer muzzle so as to avoid the breathing problems that purebred Pugs experience. But what complications are also being bred into the lines? Are these breeders accredited? How exactly does that work?

No offense to anyone reading this who has a designer breed. I, for one, have always been fond of rescue dogs and if I am going to write a check to buy a dog, I would rather that money go towards a rescue organization than a private breeder. Watson was a beagle/basset mix and I always thought that unholy union happened by accident. What makes a Puggle or a Jug not a "mutt"? Anyone know?


For some reason, I woke up this morning very angry. I must have been dreaming about Watson because I woke up and fully expected him to be in his bed. His bed is right where he left it, next to our bed upstairs. It's one of those things that I am not ready to put away yet, nor let Waldo start sleeping in it. When I woke up and returned to reality, I just got very angry. Perhaps the dream was stirred up by my thinking of him again while completing the Name Game yesterday. In all honesty, I have done my best to NOT think about him very much. That is my way of coping with his absence. He's tucked away in the back of my brain and thoughts of him pop to the front every once in a while, but for the most part I have it under control.

I am angry for several reasons. Angry that he died the way he did. Angry that he had to suffer at all. Angry at cancer. Angry at having lost our cat and my Watson within a month and a half of one another.

I need to go for a walk, I think, before my anger spills over into work. Maybe this is why I am fit to work from home(?) I have an article I need to finish up today and no interviews scheduled. Thank goodness. I get snippy with people when I am upset. No need to take it out on a stranger.

I read online about a fenced-in dog park about 20 miles from here. I had never heard of it and am thinking of bringing Waldo there today. I had planned to go this afternoon but I may go sooner. I need some happy doggy playtime.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Name Game (for real this time)

Okay, I wrote a week ago that I was tagged by Graham, Prince and Tilly to do the Name Game. Shame on me that it's been a week and I am only now sitting down to write it all out. (Again, procrastinating!)

Here are the rules:
* Players must list one fact, word, or tidbit that is somehow relevant to their life for each letter of your first or middle name.
* When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your first or middle name game facts, word, or tidbit.
* At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your name to tag.
* Don't forget to leave a comment telling them that they have been tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay, so I will use Watson's name since that has been the practice thus far. The only problem I have encountered with the name game is that I don't know that many bloggers so this game will have to cross over into the email world. (Or are there any bloggers who read this and want to volunteer??)

Here it goes:

W is for walking on a leash. When Watson first came to us, he didn't know how to walk on a leash. He'd get really confused and would often get tangled up in it by trying to step over it. It took a few months but once he got the hang of it, he was a pro.

A is for "Are you going to eat that?" I swear that this was the phrase running through his mind every time we walked out of the kitchen with anything in hand. He'd sit and stare... and stare... and stare at us, almost willing the food to fly out of our hands and into his mouth.

T is for tough guy. He had no teeth and couldn't open his mouth wider than an inch, but if another dog was getting on his nerves, he would always try to nip them. We thought it was funny that he never realized his impediments and always tried to show his tough side.

S is for sleeping! There were days when I literally would have to drag him out of bed to go for a walk. If left alone, he would sleep for as many hours as possible - without waking for a drink or a bathroom break.

O is for opening the bathroom door with his face. This is one of his habits that I miss very much. Whenever I went into the bathroom and tried to close the door, he would often shove his face in the way. He never actually wanted to come in, but just wanted to make sure I wasn't leaving. (No, there is no door to the outside from our bathroom so I am not sure what he was thinking.) If I successfully got the door closed before he could open it with his face, he would try anyway. I'd be in there listening to him bonk his head a few times trying to get the door open.

N is for nose. He was both a beagle and a basset. Need I say more?!?!?!

Photo book

I've been gathering all my digital photos of Watson since his passing. I'd haphazardly stored them in folders all over my computer. Appropriately, I have a folder called "photo dump" where I just download all photos to one spot. I've gone through and now found every single photo and video I have of him. As I found some favorites and rediscovered others, I've been putting in multiple orders for prints to Shutterfly.

I'm procrastinating with my pile of work so I just started putting together his photo book with the photos I have already received. I picked up a small 4"x6" album on a recent shopping trip; small enough to put in my bag and carry it around with me. I've been struck a few times of wanting to see his face, but was usually out and about at the time. I do keep some wallet-sized photos with me, but that wasn't good enough.

I've shared most of my favorite photos on this site, but wanted to post a few more. Here are two that were snapped near the end of his life. The first is him trying to take toy away from Waldo as he slept; the second is his reflection in an old mirror I have propped in my office. I have plans to refinish the mirror and, in the meantime, it's hanging out in my office.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Book: Remembering Ruby

If you happen to be traveling around the Blogosphere, please go visit Melisa. She's written a book called "Remembering Ruby: For Families Living Beyond the Loss of a Pet" where you can conveniently purchase your copy on


I know there was one more day to vote on Waldo's Halloween costume, but I ended it early. The chicken has won! Technically, it is a rooster costume. I found one at Target and couldn't resist buying it. I have not dressed him up in it yet since Rich is away this week. Canine costume humiliation is best shared, I think. When Waldo does finally don the rooster duds, I will try to take photos before he rips it to shreds.

On another note, I went for a job interview today for a part-time news producer position at I do enjoy working from my home office but sometimes feel I am missing out on a few things; namely (1) human interaction, and (2) exposure to new technology. Their offices are about an hour away by car but I think it will be worth the time and aggravation of commuting again. It is part-time "per diem", meaning sometimes there will be shifts and other times not. That is fine by me since my magazine deadlines are all planned in advance and I can juggle around the work during busy times. Thank goodness for this "global economy" where everyone works 24/7! =)

Taking this position may mean that Waldo gets to spend more time at daycare. He will love it since he has a basset hound girlfriend named Joad. Joad outweighs him by about 10-15 pounds and is a tri-color basset. When they are together, he does nothing but chase her around all day. Thankfully, he comes back home too tired to lift his head!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Money Talk

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while (no, not the Name Game, but I am working on that too!). This post is about money…. The dreaded talk of how to pay for all the love and are we provide our pets.

I hate to say it, but I would have spent any amount of money on Watson's care. Irrational and totally emotional? Yes. But in the heat of the moment and when faced with the option of more quality of life, absolutely, I would have remortgaged our house if that needed to happen. He was my son (in lieu of a real human one, anyway). However, that emotional surge is exactly opposite of how you are supposed to handle money. Over and over again I have read on various forums and boards just how many treatment options there are out there for cancer dogs. Only a few times has someone actually written the group about finances or even shown a hint of financial strain. It's almost like it's too taboo to even mention that, although you love your dog with all your heart, you just don't have the money for the best treatment.

Let's face it: we are not made of money. I, for one, am not a trust fund baby, but luckily I have a good job and tend to save my pennies. Watson was extremely ill for one month.... yes, he was sick before then but we just didn't know. But just in that 30 days, we spent thousands of dollars between diagnostic exams, vet and onco visits, medicines, extra special foods to get him to eat, the ER visit to Tufts Medical...... the list goes on and on..... I can't imagine the cost had he lived longer! Does that sound cold? I hope not, because I would have paid it.

My point is this: it is okay to talk about money and about canine cancer treatments at the same time. We like to think we are noble people who are caring for creatures who cannot speak for themselves; that money is no object. Well, money is often a huge obstacle, especially for households that are already financially strained. We may think it is too crass or below-board to talk about expenses. Should a dog's care have a price tag? Maybe, if it means you can't feed yourself or can't pay your bills because of the dog's cancer treatment. That does not make you a bad person in any light. But there are programs out there that can help ease the impact of financing canine cancer treatments. (These are just a few that I know of.... if there are more, please let me know and I will post them!!)

CareCredit *– CareCredit is a credit card issued by GE Money Bank. You apply for it as you would any other credit card. The program offers you a chance to finance your vet costs of $300+ from 3-12 months interest free. Terms are available for longer than 12 months at a certain interest rate (I think 7.9% but am not sure. Rates change all the time.) Here's how it works: Check with your vet to make sure they accept CareCredit (not every vet does). Let's say the total vet bill is $1,200 (low for a cancer dog!) and you decide to use your CareCredit card to finance it for 12 months. You will soon get your statement in the mail with that charge on it and have 12 months to pay it off interest free.

Here's the 2 "catches" with using CareCredit:
(1) They do not dictate how much you pay per month. Using our example, it makes sense to pay $100/month for 12 months. However, your statement will show something like $30 for a minimum payment. You only have to pay the minimum to keep your account in good standing, but it won't pay off the balance in one year.
(2) If you miss a payment or send in a late payment, your interest free terms change to something ridiculous like 28.9%!!! If you are not good with paying your bills on time, then CareCredit may not be a good choice.

Pet insurance - Pet owners in the US have been slow to adopt the practice of pet insurance. I think other countries like the UK are a bit more advanced in this respect. After experiencing the endless vet visits, meds and treatments for Watson (and the ensuing bills), I decided to sign Waldo up for VPI Pet Insurance* with the additional routine care rider. Total cost was around $230 for the year and it covers illness, accidents and some routine care. They also cover cancer treatments.

Canine Cancer Awareness* - This site offers information as well as a downloadable application for financial assitance. The site has helped many pets and their owners with expensive chemo and other cancer treatments. You can also visit their online store to buy items that help support their mission. Watson was added to their Rainbow Bridge poster last month.

HELP-A-PET* - Help-A-Pet is a nonprofit organization with a single purpose: to provide financial assistance nationwide for the medical care of pets whose owners are unable to afford the expense. According to their site, they help the physically and mentally challenged individuals, senior citizens, and children of the working poor.

There are also numerous state-specific and breed-specific non-profits who can provide financial assistance. There are too many to list, but can easily be found via Google.

Bottom line: treating your dog for cancer is not the path to financial ruin! There is help out there......

*DISCLAIMER: I do not in any way endorse these programs. This information is presented for informational purposes. I do not stand to gain in any way by directing people towards these web site links.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Candle lighting

As I had written before in a previous post, Pam from the Canine Cancer Yahoo Group just held a candle lighting ceremony in her garden. This is a photo from that night (posted by Pam). Over 300 candles burning in the night - one for each of our kids who has passed on from cancer.
UPDATE/NOTE: I did not attend the candle lighting ceremony. Sorry if I implied that I did. Pam lives in another state and I only know her through the Yahoo group. I saw this photo in her AOL album and thought it was a great photo to share with my blog readers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Name Game

I've been tagged by Graham, Prince and Tilly to do the "Name Game". The
rules are:
* Players must list one fact, word, or tidbit that is somehow relevant
to their life for each letter of your first or middle name.
* When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your
first or middle name game facts, word, or tidbit.
* At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your
name to tag.
* Don't forget to leave a comment telling them that they have been
tagged, and to read your blog.
I wanted to mention it because I was actually tagged last week but haven't
gotten around to doing it. I am thinking I will use Watson's name for the
Name Game, but first I must wade through the pile of work on desk this

Monday, September 17, 2007

one month

It's been one month since Watson passed. The date was actually yesterday, the 16th, but I wasn't in front of the computer at all. We went to the Big E, the New England equivalent to a state fair, so I was quite distracted by fried food, airbrushed clothing and other oddities. It wasn't until I got home later in the evening that I realized the date.

Four weeks. It seems like forever and yesterday that it all happened. Truly, I am still haunted by the look on his face as he lay on the table. It was a mix of concern for me (like "why are you crying?") and a curiosity as to why he was lying on his own bed at the vet's office. He never took his eyes off of me, even as the vet administered the shot. A blessing and curse, that look was. I see it in my mind all the time.

His ashes are still in the wooden box he arrived in from the vet. I have every intention of finding his ashes a new, nicer-looking home, but just haven't had the courage to start the process yet. I miss him.... my Old Man. Waldo keeps me busy but he can't replace my Watson.

On Saturday, Pam from the Canine Cancer board held a candle-lighting ceremony in her garden for all the dogs that have passed on. She burns heir name on a stake and places it in Sierra's Garden, named for her own canine angel. To date, she has over 300 stakes. too many.. She asked everyone to also light two candles and place them outside that night. One for the living who continue to fight and one for the angels who have passed on. I did my part and lit my candles so, as Pam wrote in her post, the ones who have passed on can look down and see all the people who miss and love them around the world.

Ah, and here the tears come again...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Interesting article from Associated Press

Sep 9, 7:35 AM EDT

Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors

AP National Writer

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies."

But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.

More here:

Feeding Raw, part 2

So it's been a few weeks since we started Waldo on the transition to a raw diet. I'm still mixing in some Canidae brand kibble (*gasp* a no-no if you listen to hardcore holistic folks) because I can't quite reconcile giving him just the raw medallions. It reminds me too much like the Atkins Diet for dogs. I understand the explanation that dogs descended from wolves who ate only meat, etc, etc... but I still can't fully wrap my head around it. In any organism, carbs feed muscle and brain activity, as well as provide the energy needed by fast-growing cells like stomach lining and bone marrow.

Many of the cancer parents switched their dogs onto a raw diet or to Innova EVO immediately upon diagnosis. Actually, many vets and oncos say switch to the Innova since introducing raw to a compromised immune system would be too dangerous. I feel like it is dangerous (to a lesser degree in a healthy dog) after reading the pros and cons of the raw diet. The dog food manufacturers, of course, boil down the pros and cons to small bullet points. But there can be harsh effects to the human body after a long-term, high protein diet like danger to the kidneys, calcium loss and nutritional deficiencies.

I'm also torn because I'd like to believe that a dog's nutrition can equal a long and healthy life.... then again, our friend's 12 year old Shepherd eats cheapo Beneful (at $11 for 40+ pounds of kibble) and has no health problems. Meanwhile, the raw diet can get expensive in a hurry. Let's do some quick math. A 48 medallion bag costs about $13 USD. Waldo eats about 9-10 medallions a day for a 30-ish pound dog, so that costs us about $2.70 a day/$18.90 a week. Over the course of a year, that is almost $1,000 just to feed him!

Also, handling raw meat on a daily basis is getting on my nerves. As I had posted when Watson was ill, we hardly ever have meat in the house so handling his raw food is still foreign to me. I'm not sure I like it. Overall, I haven't seen any immediate ill effects from feeding raw but I also haven't seen any obvious improvements. I may continue down this path for a few more weeks to see how he does.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Poll

Speaking of odd things in catalogs, there is a new poll up on the blog. Here's the accompanying photo of the two costumes I like for Waldo. Please vote on which one you prefer - pumpkin or chicken!

Platypus Egg

I was cleaning the house over the weekend and found a few of Watson's toy eggs. Way back when, I saw the funniest stuffed animal in the Drs. Foster and Smith catalog of a stuffed platypus that came with it's own squeaky eggs.

I don't have an issue with the concept, per se. The animal arrives separately from its eggs, which are attached in a plastic bag. You, the owner with opposable thumbs, are supposed to stuff the squeaky eggs into the animal and your dog has fun digging them out. A chicken or a duck, I understand. But a platypus??? Apparently they also lay eggs. Who knew?

Anyway, with Watson's jaw impingement, he took to the eggs more than the stuffed platypus (which now graces Rich's office at work). So on rainy days when he didn't want to go for a walk, we would toss the egg(s) down the hallway for him to retrieve. For the longest time, Watson wouldn't play (seemed like he didn't know how) but over time, he came to love "playing egg".

I'm not quite sure what to do with them now. Waldo will surely eviscerate them the second he gets them in his mouth. Perhaps I will save them for when he matures a bit and calms down... and I can play egg again and think of the Old Man.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Amazing Mali

I have some good news to report.... Mali, the beautiful wonder dog (see photo), has gone 1,000 days since she was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma (HSA). Yes, you read it correctly ONE THOUSAND DAYS. She and her mom, Ilene, have gone through hell and back. Mali is from New Orleans, and her family lost three cat siblings and their entire home during the Katrina flood.

Mali's mom wrote in her email to me: "Strangely through all of this, Mali has been a constant source of strength for me. When we lost our home and our 3 cats to the Katrina Flood, she was and still is the reason I got through it. Her battle kept me occupied, and likewise dealing with that flood mess got my mind off the bad and on to the good that we share.It's always strange what life deals us...but we are still here!"

When Watson was ill, Ilene and Mali were a constant source of information and tips on how to deal with cancer. Their support and first-hand knowledge were invaluable, and Ilene is on the board everyday dispensing advice and inspiration to everyone.

Here's to knowing that life can be really crappy sometimes, but that every once in a while, there is something wonderful that reminds us why we fight on. Today's wonderful is named Mali.

Warrior Musashi is now an Angel

I am sad to note that Musashi, a Belgian Malinois from the Canine Cancer board, passed away on September 1st. Sashi was ill around the same time as Watson, and his mom Yukie and I traded emails and posts about hospital visits and ways to get our boys to eat.
Yukie and her husband Brendan were with him when he passed. As many of us already know, our dogs will tell us when it is time. Sashi's parents loved him enough to see the signs and to help him on his way.
The photo here was sent from his mom, who wanted us to see him in healthier times. I do love his innocent gaze after he had apparently emptied the trash can all over the floor. Rest in peace, Sashi. You fought the good fight.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Crying over pizza

I was making a pizza for dinner tonight and one thought brought me to tears. Pizza was Watson's favorite food, especially Digiorno Four Cheese. He would sit and wait forever for just one small piece of this crust. He didn't have that kind of reaction to any other food.....

On the morning of the day he passed away, it occurred to me that I should probably try to get him to eat using one of these... but we didn't have one in the freezer so my thought was to cobble together a faux pizza from bread, sauce and cheese. Lord knows I had tried everything else..... I never got to do it though, and have not thought about pizza since that day. Tonight's dinner was merely an entree of convenience. Sad that pizza can make me cry.... but I can't help but wonder if I had not gotten distracted, if that would have been one thing he would have eaten...? I guess I won't ever know the answer, huh.

Took a break...

I took a few days off from the computer to enjoy the long, holiday weekend. I actually missed blogging, which is weird since I had never really blogged before Watson got sick...

I've been thinking about the Old Man every time I sit still, so I have been doing my best to stay busy. Sometimes when I am doing a routine activity, like doing the dishes at the kitchen sink, I try to imagine what it was like to have Watson standing in his usual spot right next to me. Almost like if I can think of him clearly enough, I can will him to be there. So far, that trick hasn't worked so well. Upon re-reading what I just wrote, it sounds a bit like the novel "Pet Cemetery" but I hope you know what I mean.

Any activity in the kitchen (aka "the food room") would bring Watson trotting from wherever he was sleeping. He was always so neurotic about eating that it bordered on comedy. If the treat were especially smelly, he would chomp first and ask questions later. It is an odd contrast with Baby Waldo, who first inspects whatever you are offering and then has to think about it before he accepts. Meanwhile, Watson would have swallowed your fingertips and gone for the rest of your hand....

But I have been missing the Old Man especially in the morning. I used to wake up and look at him, first thing. I never noticed that I did that until he was no longer there. It was just part of my waking. I'd look over to see if he was in his bed (yes, of course he was), and then I would wake him first by putting my hand near his nose. His nose would take a few quick sniffs and then he would open his sleep eyes. I'd always rouse him out of bed with ear rubs. I miss those ear rubs..... and the way he would groan - partly because he was not a morning dog and partly because he loved the ear rubs.

Lesley had left a comment a while back that time will work its natural course; that a few weeks on, I could perhaps look back and say "I feel better". I'm not sure if that's true yet.... I do look back at the several weeks he and I were getting up to go outside (because of the prednisone) and I don't know how we did it. We were both exhausted... I cried alot and could barely get any work done. So with some time and distance, that part of the sickness seems like I am looking at it through a fog. Like it was someone else doing all those desperate things to save his life and I was just a casual observer... it feels a little like an out-of-body experience. But even thinking about that time makes the anxiety and desperation lodge in my throat like a sour apple. That too feels distant, but definitely there.

I've also taken a few days off from reading/participating in the Canine Cancer Yahoo group. During that short time, several dogs have passed on.... It still scares me that so many dogs have cancer. They are like the amphibians of our environment - when our world is polluted, they are the first to show the effects of it. What can we do to make it right??

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Forgot to mention

In all this talk of urns and ashes, I forgot to mention one thing…. I thought I heard him again.  This morning, in waking…. I was in between waking and sleep when I thought I heard his snouty, snorty sneeze.  Just once.  Waldo sleeps downstairs and Rich is away, so I was definitely the only person in the room.  The TV was tuned to CNN with the volume on low.  I know, I know… sounds crazy… but it made me think of the mornings when I would lie in bed and listen to him in his….  He loved his big, plushy bed (“the Cadillac”) and, upon waking, would roll around in it and do his snorty, moaning dog thing.  I used to love that sound.  I’m glad I could hear it again, even if it was only in my head.  Hopefully I don’t sound like a crazy person, but if I do…. Oh well, call the men in white, I suppose.




Home Again

Watson is home again. I picked up his ashes at the vet's office around 5pm yesterday. I was holding myself together just fine until Carol, one of the vet techs, came around the desk to hand me the bag and gave me a hug. Carol just kept saying "no more bags for you" since she was also the person who gave us our cat's ashes barely two months ago.

I couldn't open the bag or look at its contents until I got home. I had 40 minutes of rush-hour traffic to contend with, and I hate trying to cry and drive at the same time. I swear I must be part German since I refrain from eating, drinking, talking on the phone or doing anything else but drive when I am driving.

Watson was packaged in quite a small, plain, wooden box, varnished to a medium brown with gold clasps and hinges. It is actually the same type of box that our 15 pound cat was returned in, so I found it funny that they managed to stuff a dog over twice the size into it too. It came with a nice card and a certificate of private cremation.

Although he passed on 8/16, he was not cremated until 8/23. I try not to think about his body hanging out in someone's fridge for a week... perhaps I am trending towards gallows humor, but it strikes me both as funny and a little morbid. But if I don't laugh, then I'll cry so the saying goes.

I'd like to do something special with his ashes, starting with finding him a better container in which to rest. I know nothing about urns or where/how to shop for one. Where do you even begin? Can any nice container double as an urn? Are there rules for such a thing??

Whatever he ends up in, I would like to do something special to commemorate him. There is an artist by the name of Sandi Carter Brown who displays her work at the local pet store. I met her over the weekend during the store's anniversary party. She does fantastic work based on photos of your pet..... My original idea was to have her paint his likeness on the container, but I would prefer to find one of higher quality first.

It's been 2 weeks to the day since Watson passed. That fact, plus the arrival of his ashes, has put me back into emotional shock. I have no idea how I feel about all of it. I feel like crying, but am so tired of the tears. I'm just missing my Old Man.....

Here's another one of my favorite photos of him... it's from our first Xmas together back in 2005. At this point, he'd been with us for almost a year. We were in the middle of opening our gifts when I slapped a bow on his head and Rich took a picture of it. You can see just how happy Watson was with the whole affair.