A little information about my home

I’ve been thinking lately, about my life and the things I’ve done and seen over the years.  I wish I could have met my mom and dad sooner so we could have had more time together.  They adopted me when I was about 7 ½ years old, I’m 11 ½ now.  I was in foster care in an Aussie Rescue group in Payson, AZ, for almost six months.  At the time, Taz and Joey were still living with mom and dad, but Taz was getting old and not feeling too well.  Mom and Dad were concerned about Joey and how he would feel when Taz crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  They wanted someone to help him during that time, so they went looking and found me.

It was actually a friend, Heidi, who told mom about Aussie and Friends Rescue, and even found me on their website.  Heidi told mom about me and that she should check out the site and look for my bio.  Mom did and I guess my photo hooked her big time.  Lucky for me as I didn’t know how much longer I was going to have to stay in foster care.  As an older dog that could have been a long time.

Well, my foster parents brought me down to mom and dad’s house for a visit to see how I would get along with Taz, Joey, Dante, Othello, and Maya.  We hit it off right away.  I liked Taz and Joey and they liked me.  While I was visiting, Joey and I settled down in the kitchen, next to each other as if we had been friends forever.  The cats, well they looked at me from a distance, but I really wasn’t too interested in them.

My foster parents spent a few hours with mom; dad was away for the weekend so I didn’t meet him until later.  After a while everyone decided that I was a good fit and mom made a donation to the Rescue and my foster parents left.  I was a little scared when they left, you see they had taken care of me for six months and were all I knew.  This was a new place, with new friends.  I sat near the front door for a few hours after they left, wondering if they were coming back.

Mom tried to tell me that it would be OK, and that this was my new home; but it was Joey who really helped me to not be afraid.  He sat next to me near the front door and told me all the neat things I was going to experience.  He talked about the great food, playing outside on the property, rides in the truck, and about the cats and how they were fun too.  He told me about all the love I would have while I was living here.  He said that was the best part. 

After a few days, I started to settle in to my new home.  Joey was right about everything, but especially about the love.  That’s a photo of me and Joey shortly after I settled in my new home.  He always took the time to talk to me and make me feel welcome.  I miss him.

Eventually Taz crossed the Rainbow Bridge and Joey was a little sad, but we had each other.  It was actually Dante, my new cat brother, who appeared to be devastated by Taz’s passing.  You see, Taz would clean Dante’s ears and all around his head.  Dante apparently enjoyed this tremendously and would seek out Taz for a daily cleaning, sometimes several times each day.  After a few months, I stepped in and started to clean Dante’s ears, and most of his head. 

Joey crossed the Rainbow Bridge about eight months after Taz and I was very sad.  For a few days, I hung my head low and there was sadness in my eyes.  Mom tried to cheer me up with lots of love, as always, and started taking me with her on short trips and errands around town.  We started spending more time together and I started to enjoy life again.  We’ve visited the dog park and I get to go camping now.  I still miss Taz and Joey but I understand why they had to leave.  I know one day I’ll have to leave as well.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, my cat brother Othello crossed the Rainbow Bridge in April of 2016.  So now it’s just me, Dante, and Maya.  We’re all doing just fine and still enjoying all the love in our household.  Dante comes to me for ear cleaning several times a day.  I like doing that for him.  I hope he will have someone after I’m gone who will step in and clean his ears.  When the time is right, I’m sure mom and dad will open their hearts to another fur-baby in need.  There is so much love in this house I don’t see how they could avoid doing so.

Advertisements

An Interesting Few Days

Well, I’ve had a few interesting days.  While I expected I may experience a few side effects, I was not expecting what happened to me post-IV chemo on Day 8.

Actually, it started during the night.  I had to go out and poop, really bad, so I woke up dad.  He took me out about 4 AM.  I pooped a few times but still did not feel too well.

Mom got up about 6:30 AM but I was too tired to get up and follow her into the bathroom as I typically do each morning.  Once she went into the kitchen I got up and went in there with her.  I had to poop again so she took me outside.  I was feeling really tired and weak and didn’t want to walk back in too quickly.  I could barely take a couple steps and then had to stop and rest.

When I came back inside I didn’t want to eat, nor did I want to drink any water, so mom was rightfully concerned.  She cancelled her clients for the day and took me outside again when I asked to go.  I had really bad diarrhea and mom had to clean my backside when we got back inside the house.  I was really sorry and tried to tell her, but she said to not worry about it and that she would take care of everything.

She called my oncologist in Scottsdale.  Who would have thought that I’d have an oncologist?  I also have a cardiologist and a board-certified surgeon.  I have more doctors than my mom has.  Anyway, after talking with the oncologist she said I had to go to Kachina Animal Hospital.

I arrived at Kachina at about 11 AM.  They took me in the back immediately and gave me an anti-nausea shot.  They also inserted an IV port in my front left leg and started me on IV fluids.  Apparently, I had a really high temperature, 105.  Also, the results from my blood tests showed that my white blood cell count was precipitously low.  They also put some antibiotics in the IV.  My mom was not able to come in the back with me and I didn’t want to go without her.  It was tough, but once I was all set up I realized they were going to take really good care of me and I tried to settle down.

I ended up staying in the hospital all day.  Mom came to get me about 5:30 PM and I was discharged shortly after she arrived.  I was so happy to see her.  I was already feeling better now that she was there and especially when she told me we were going home.  Dr. Lynn came in to talk about all that had been done to me while I was there as well as what to watch for overnight.  I was confident my mom could handle it, she’s really attentive.  We made an appointment for the next day at 8:30 AM so they could check my temperature and see how I did overnight.  Mom took home some antibiotics for me to start taking in the morning.

When I got home I went straight for my water dish; I was really thirsty.  I ate a little bit too.  Mom got some Trufood envelopes from her best friend and that’s what I ate.  Mom said I could only have one envelope at first, to see how my stomach did since I hadn’t had anything to eat all day.  I held it down and felt pretty good so mom gave me another envelope of Trufood about an hour later.  I drank more water a few more times.  Mom stayed up with me until about 10:30 PM when we went out for our last walk. 

I knew I was low on energy because when mom went out to photograph the sunset, I decided to stay inside.  Typically, I go out on the front porch with her and then walk around out front while she photographs the sunset.  She does that as often as possible, as long as there are clouds in the west and the colors show up.  We have some beautiful sunsets out here in N. AZ.  I decided to use one of her panoramic shots for this post.  I hope you like it.

I slept through the night, only getting up twice to reposition myself.  I got up about 7 AM with mom and we went outside.  I felt a lot better and was moving OK, not too fast but at least I was now able to walk continuously.  I ate a little dry food mixed with Trufood and took my meds.  When we went back to Kachina Animal Hospital I was happy to discover that my temperature was normal.  Since I was eating and drinking Dr. Lynn said I didn’t have to stay.  YIPPEE, I got to go home with mom!

I ate a little at lunchtime and then again at dinnertime.  I’m still sleeping a lot and moving slow, but that’s because my white blood cell count is still really low.  Mom asked about that but there is nothing we can do to raise that count.  I just have to ride it out.  Mom is making sure I have plenty of good food and she’s spacing it out throughout the day.

I’ve improved over the past few days and am almost back to my regular energy level.  I’m still a little picky about what, and how much, I eat, but mom is being exceptionally patient with me as we work through this stage.  At least now we have an idea what to expect the next time, just hoping it won’t hit me as hard.  Mom will talk with my oncologist so I can have my next IV chemo dose adjusted since it appears the first one may have been too strong.  Oh well, that’s life, always an adjustment.

Mom’s absolute favorite poem is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.  The last stanza of the poem is as follows:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

So together, mom and I will be traveling this road, the road less traveled.

Pooh Bear

I mentioned in a previous post that mom calls me her Pooh Bear.

My mom likes Winnie the Pooh.  I know she’s all grown up, and my mom, and that Winnie the Pooh is sort of a children’s character, but she said Winnie the Pooh has a lot of redeeming qualities and quite a bit of wisdom for a bear.

So, I’m going to use a few of mom’s favorite quotes from Winnie the Pooh as I talk about us.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

Mom has a big heart, she has to because of all the fur-babies that have passed through her heart over the years.  I’m one of many who have shared a space in mom’s (and dad’s) heart.  I remember my dog brothers, Taz and Joey, they both crossed the rainbow bridge already.  I also remember my cat brother, Othello, who crossed the bridge last year in April.  Mom tells me about all the fur babies I never got to meet and talks about how much fun they were and how much she loved them.  She always reminds me that she loves me too, and that I will always be in her heart.  I like that.

“How do you spell love” asked piglet.  “You don’t spell it, you feel it.” replied Pooh.

At night when I climb on the couch and lie on mom’s lap, I feel her love for me.  I feel it in the way she slowly and gently strokes my fur, around my eyes and my ears, and down my neck.  I hear it as she whispers in my ear that she loves her Pooh Bear.  I feel it when she sits next to me on the floor and I roll up against her leg, or when we wrestle and rough-house with one of my blankets.

I hope she feels my love as well, in my quiet, rhythmic breathing, the heaviness of my head on her lap as I fall asleep, safe and comfortable.  I try to look at her with love in my eyes, and I hope she recognizes it.  I think she does because she squats down, takes my head in her hands, looks into my eyes and tells me she loves me.  I like that.

“If there is ever a tomorrow that we are not together, there is one thing you should always remember.  You are braver that you believe, stronger that you seem, and smarter than you think.  But the most important thing is: even if we’re apart, I will always be with you in the heart.”

During these moments with my mom I try my best to hold them deep in my heart.  I am doing my best to store them in my memory; I hope she is doing the same, I think she is.

Because, I know, one day we will have to part.  She will stay and I will continue on to a bridge, crossing over.  And, all I will have are these memories and like Pooh, I will keep her in my heart as I’m sure she will keep me in hers.

But for now, we are still together, and I do my best, every day, to tell her that I love her, just as she tells me every day.  I like that.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

My First IV Chemo Treatment

Hi everyone – well, I had my first IV chemo treatment on Tuesday, Feb 7, at the Scottsdale Oncology Office.  My appointment was for 3:30 PM as that was the only time they had when mom made the appointment two weeks ago.  At least we got in.

Mom got a call from the Oncology Office on Monday, Feb 6, advising that I do NOT have the MDR blood marker.  You remember, that was the blood marker that was going to determine whether I could have IV chemo or have to stay on the daily chemo pills.  Since it is not present in my blood, we got the green light for the IV chemo treatment.

Since we’re in N. AZ and the office is in Scottsdale, mom likes to leave about 2 hours before the actual appointment.  You never know what type of traffic you’re going to experience.  Mom would rather be early than late.  I like that as well as it gives me time to go for a walk with mom and stretch my legs after a long drive.  We actually arrived in Scottsdale about 2:30 PM so mom headed to Whole Foods to get something to eat for herself.  I think she had a chicken Caesar wrap, I got some of the end of the tortilla wrap.  That was my treat for the day.  She already let me know that we would not be stopping for ice cream as she was not sure how my system would react to this first IV treatment and she didn’t want me getting sick on the way home. 

We arrived in the office about 3:00 PM and mom got us checked in.  I posted a photo of the board that greets all the patients.  It has everyone’s name on it and I found my name “Bear” – it’s near the center/bottom.  If you look a little to the left and slightly above, you’ll see the name “Pooh Bear” – that’s mom’s nickname for me, she calls me her Pooh Bear.  I’m not sure if that’s me, or if there’s another client by that name.  I’ll have to ask the next time we’re in the office.   

We first met with one of the vet techs who explained everything to us.  I ended up having to go in the back without mom.  She asked if she could go back with me but they explained that it was a small area and that she could not be there while I was getting my chemo.  She had to wait out front.  I know she was worried, but they took really good care of me.  I was examined next and then had blood drawn just to check to be sure the chemo pills I was taking worked well with my system. 

Next I was hooked up to an IV line.  It wasn’t too bad.  I was a little anxious and moved a few times, but not too much.  There was someone with me all the time.  I actually had a couple of small treats while I was back there.  They were good and I was happy to have them.  It only took about 30 minutes for the blood draw and the IV drip, then I was heading back into an exam room where mom was waiting for me.

Dr. Venable came in and told mom all about the possible side effects, some of which include nausea that may include vomiting (YUK) as well as diarrhea.  She said that she was going to send home some meds for those side effects, just in case.  Dr. Venable said the side effects, if they were going to occur, would happen 2-5 days after this treatment.  She also mentioned that most patients don’t really have those side effects. 

When I got back in the truck I was really thirsty so I drank a bit of water.  I laid down for the ride home and tried to take a nap, but I was really excited about getting home.  I had my dinner when I got home and ate like I typically do.  I really like my food.

The next day was OK, I didn’t have any bad reaction to the treatment.  I was a little tired and didn’t feel quite like myself, but overall I was OK.  On Thursday things were still going OK, no reaction yet.

Friday, 6:30 am, I threw up.  I tried to hold it back, and I left the bedroom where mom and dad were still sleeping.  I got into the kitchen and looked for someplace that wouldn’t be too bad.  I ended up throwing up a little on a plastic mat that is under the water dispenser.  I didn’t want to get it on the floor.

Mom was up like a shot.  I don’t think she sleeps all that well now.  When she gets up in the night to use the bathroom she comes and checks on me.  On Friday morning, she was by my side in a flash letting me know it was OK and that she would take care of me.

I took an anti-nausea pill that morning.  I really didn’t want to eat so I went back to sleep.  About an hour later I ate a little, but my stomach was still a little upset and food just did not appeal to me.  I actually slept most of the day, I think the meds may have made me drowsy.  I ate some of my dinner, then went to sleep again.

I felt a little better on Saturday and ate a little more breakfast, but not everything.  I slept a bit as well but ate most of my dinner.  Hope I feel better as the days go on.  I don’t have another IV chemo treatment until February 28th, and I think I’ll be OK in a few days.  The oncologist said if I had any side effects from the IV treatment they would occur 2-5 days afterward.  Friday was day three, so I guess I’m right on schedule. 

Mom said she would take care of me, so I’m doing well.

Lots to talk about

Hey everyone,

I didn’t think I’d be posting this much so soon, but I’ve got so much on my mind I’ve just got to get it down in print.  I must admit, this whole blog-thing is very cathartic.  I didn’t realize it at first, but a dog like me has quite a bit to say and having a rather captive audience makes it even easier to express myself.  I’m going to try not to make these posts too long, and boring.  I know we all lead very busy lives and not everyone has time to sit and read the mussing of a dog.  However, I do hope you have a little fun and perhaps laugh a little at what I have to say.  After all, I am a dog, and we tend to do (and say) some silly things every now and then.

Well, the past week has been full of activity.  I went to see the cardiologist for an ultrasound of my heart to see what, if anything, may be going on in that area.  We needed to be sure my cancer had not traveled to my heart, yet.  The cardiologist is in the same office and my oncologist, which is nice so we don’t have to travel to different places for my treatments and exams. 

I had my grooming appointment at my Animal Hospital.  They gave me a nice bath and trimmed my nails.  I got a really good brushing as well.  I like to look, and smell, my best.  I actually enjoy visiting my Vet’s office, most of the time.  That’s where I have my laser treatments for my knees and hips.  Mom keeps up on those, every other week, so I’m still able to run around and play, both outside and inside the house.

I’ve taken to playing inside with one of my blankets.  That’s the photo you see at the top.  Mom throws it over me, covering my head and then I start to twist and turn and toss my head.  I grab that blanket and shake it, over and over again.  We play tug of war with it sometimes but mom is careful that I don’t rip it.  Sometimes, when she puts it over my head I just stand there, perfectly still.  I’m waiting for her to reach out and touch me.  When she does I go into full-on play mode.  We toss, turn, and wrestle on the living room floor.  It’s a lot of fun.  I really love when mom plays with me.  She seems happy during these times too, and I know that it’s just as important for her as it is for me.

My next trip is Tuesday.  I have an appointment with my oncologist.  Mom was instructed to stop my chemo pills this past Thursday as I need what they call a ‘wash-out’ period in preparation for the start of IV chemo treatment.  That is, if my blood work comes back without that MDR marker.  I don’t know what the IV chemo treatment will be like or what the possible side effects may be.  I’m a little scared, but my mom will be with me the whole time so that’s comforting.  I hope she does OK with it too.

It’s a complicated process, navigating this cancer thing.  There’s so much to monitor, so much to treat, and so much to take in and understand.  My mom is really good at that.  She’s started a journal about my health, the cancer, my treatments, and how I’m doing each day.  She keeps copious notes which helps her make the best decisions for me and our future together.

Cardiologist Visit – Ultrasound

Well, I had my cardiologist appointment today.  They did an ultrasound of my heart to see how well it is working, how strong it is, whether there is any fluid buildup in the pericardium, and whether there are any growths/tumors present.

I passed with flying colors!  My mom was really happy with the news.  So was I.  The cardiologist said my heart is strong and working just fine.  There is no fluid buildup and he could detect no mass anywhere in my heart muscle.

YIPPEE!

It was really great to finally get some good news.  Of course, I still have cancer, but now it is most likely isolated in my abdomen.  Still not good, but I am taking my chemo pills every day and we hope that will slow down the growth and spread of the cancer cells.  If you remember from a previous post, I told you that my liver tested negative for cancer, so that’s good.

While I was getting my ultrasound today, mom walked over to the oncology office to check on the blood results.  Remember, we’re waiting to see if I have the MDR blood markers or not.  They told mom that the results were not back yet.  So, I guess we still have to wait a few days to hear about those results.

As promised, mom stopped for ice cream on the way home.  I got a quick pee break then a scoop of vanilla ice cream from Baskin Robbins!  Our friend Sarah mentioned that ice cream really helps in these types of situations, and boy was she right.  I really enjoyed my ice cream. 

Mom made sure I didn’t eat it too fast so I didn’t get an ice cream headache.  I’m not sure what that is, but mom said it can be painful even though it doesn’t last long.  There were a couple people around while I was eating my ice cream and they mentioned, jokingly, to mom how spoiled I seemed to be.  Mom let them know this was my reward for being a good boy at the doctor’s office.

So today was a good day.  Now I’m looking forward to a grooming on Thursday. 

A little background

6h0a4362

Hi again, Bear here with a little more information about me.

As you may have read in my first blog entry, I’m an Australian Shepherd living in Arizona.  I live in Northern AZ, so I get to experience all four seasons.  With the thick coat I have I’m not sure I could handle the heat of Phoenix.  YUK!  My mom doesn’t like the heat either so this is a great place for us to live.

The photo I selected today is from 2015 when we had some snow.  I like to play in the snow, but we haven’t had much this winter.  We’ve had quite a bit of rain where I live, while some of the higher elevations have had snow.  When it rains and I go out for my breaks I have to be towel-dried when I come inside.  I like that, it’s fun to play with the towel while mom tries to dry my fur.  I make a game of it and mom plays along.  It’s fun.  Once inside I tend to spend the next 30 minutes cleaning my paws.  I do not like dirty paws.

Mom mentioned that she was going to set up a grooming appointment for me as soon as the weather cleared up a little.  I have to agree with her, no need getting a bath if it’s going to continue to rain.  I enjoy the groomer and I like looking my best.  I made sure that the photo I posted on my initial blog post was one of my best.  I had recently been groomed and was feeling particularly good about my appearance.

Turns out she made that appointment for Thursday, February 2, at my regular Vet/Animal Hospital.  I think she’s a little fearful about leaving me at PetSmart for four hours, which is where I typically have my salon appointments.  I tried to tell her I’d be just fine, but I think she feels better that I’ll be close to medical assistance should something happen.  Moms!  They are always worrying.  No wonder they are prematurely grey.  (Sorry mom, I still think you’re beautiful with all that grey hair)

I started my chemo this past week.  I’m on what the vet-oncologist calls a ‘metronomic’ dose of chemo pills.  I get one pill every morning wrapped in my favorite – PILL POCKET!  I’ll take this medication for a couple weeks then have another blood test (YUK) to see how I’m doing.  As an Aussie (yeah, that’s how we say it) my breed is sometimes prone to a blood marker (MDR) that has an adverse reaction to IV chemo.  I had my blood drawn when I was at the oncologist for my initial consultation and they sent it off for a test.  Can you believe they have to send my blood all the way to the state of Washington as that’s where the lab work is done?

Once the results come back, my mom will determine the best course of treatment for me.  If I don’t have that blood marker, I will start IV chemo.  That will happen once every three weeks, for a 15-week course of treatment.  After that I go back on the daily pills I’m currently taking as maintenance.

If I do have that blood marker present, then I just stay on these pills.

The oncologist said that there is a slight chance I may get an upset stomach from the pills.  So far, so good.  I have not thrown-up and my stomach feels OK.  I like to eat and I love my food, so that’s a good thing.  Who wants to eat all that good food only to throw it up later?

I think we’ll settle in to a nice routine soon and everything will be just fine.  That’s what I keep trying to tell my mom, she still cries sometimes and I do my best to comfort her.  I know she doesn’t want me to see her upset but I’m pretty tuned in to her feelings.  I feel everything she feels.  For the most part I think she understands me, but she’s got to come to that point on her own.  I have faith that she will, she’s my mom and the absolute best in the world.

Talk to you soon!