Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Moment of Levity

Katie and Emily were sitting at the dining room table discussing "Iron Man 3":

Katie:  I always get Robert Downey Jr and Martin Luther King Jr mixed up.

Emily:  Umm.....HOW can you mix them up?  They are nothing alike!

Katie:  Well, their names are similar.

Emily:  Not really...

Katie:  Martin Luther King Jr was the one with the peanuts, right?

Emily:  That was George Washington Carver!

Katie: Oh. Which one was Martin Luther King Jr?

Emily: He fought for black rights, he was assassinated...

Katie: He was assassinated??

Emily: Yes, Katie!

Katie:  Well, sorry.  I'm only studying ancient history about Jesus, like, five billion years ago.

Emily:  Jesus was only two thousand years ago!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... 

Pity Ham

Now that we are back home with the dogs, we have started the slow process of watching Rigger go down by degrees.

It's so odd that one day he was mostly fine and walking around and the next day he was unable to walk and so terribly sick.  We knew this time was coming, I just thought it would be different somehow.

He doesn't want to eat much.  Foods that he loved before have no interest for him now.  And there were very few foods that he didn't love.  He spit out an onion once.  And once at the vet when he was younger, he refused an organic dog treat.  I think that's about it for his list of "no" foods.

Now he will eat only ham and chicken, and even then he refuses those about half the time.  He doesn't want dog food, even the canned kind, which was usually enough to make him knock Ringo over trying to get to it.  We tried to give him Pediasure for the vitamins, he wouldn't even try it.  He doesn't want his doggie treats.  He even refused chocolate.

We've been putting his medicines in food, it's the easiest way to get him to take them.  But now when he doesn't want anything, it's harder to get him to take his pills.  Luckily the pills he is on right now are so small we can just poke them in his mouth and he can't find them to get them out before they dissolve.

Since ham is one of the two things he will eat now, I bought a giant ham at the store and we've been carving off chunks to give him.  I was standing there last night feeding him ham when Katie said, "Mama, Ringo is standing right behind you!  You need to give him some ham too!"

Guiltily, I turned around and offered him some ham.  I should have called him to come have some ham, but I'm so focused on getting Rigger to eat something that it didn't occur to me to include Ringo.

I held a piece of ham out to him and he sniffed it, then turned away.

The girls laughed hysterically at that, "He doesn't want your PITY HAM!"

Sunday, October 19, 2014

On The Way Home

All the way back to Illinois, Rigger just lay in the back of the van.  He didn't want to stand up and stick his head out of the window.

Occasionally, he would lift his head up and poke it up between the girls to let us know he was okay.

Ringo, on the other hand, perched like a mountain goat between the girls.  

Nothing like a dog butt in your face to make a trip more entertaining.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


We're losing our Rigger.

He's been having trouble for a while with his leg.  It's been swelling and the vet has had him on antibiotics and has tried a laser treatment to help with his circulation.  Each thing we tried would help for a bit but then the swelling would come back.  He's been having more and more trouble standing up and sitting down.

Then Sunday morning around 2:30, Katie heard Rigger whining.  She got up to see what he wanted and found him collapsed partway up the staircase.  She called for me and Kerry and we ran to try to help him.  There was some blood on the stairs and I was worried that he had injured himself somewhere but we couldn't see a wound.  Rigger was unable to move, he was just lying partially on the stairs gasping and moaning.

We were all sitting with him trying to pet him and talk to him to keep him calm.  I really felt that he wouldn't survive very long and expected him to stop breathing any moment.  In a frenzy of needing to do something, I ran to get some Clorox 2 to clean the blood off the carpet and came across what I thought was a giant brown puddle.  Then I flipped the lights on.

It wasn't brown, it was red.  And there was a lot of it.

He had apparently vomited up nothing but blood.  More than I had ever seen.

I threw a bath towel over it to soak it up (the towel didn't even cover the whole spread) just as Katie came through to get some water for Rigger.  I was heading back to Rigger when I heard a giant THUMP from the kitchen.  I ran back in there and found Katie on the floor.  At first I thought she had collapsed in tears over the imminent demise of Rigger but she looked up at me very calmly and said, "My legs just stopped working."

What to do???  Stay with the collapsed daughter, or go to the collapsed dog?

I checked to make sure Katie wasn't injured, just woozy from seeing all the blood, and then I headed back to Rigger.

We all gathered around him, petting him and talking to him, waiting for the end.

After an hour, Kerry and I started to think maybe he wasn't going die right away.  We'd already been to the vet twice a week for a month and no good had come of it.  It was a holiday so if we took him in for emergency vet care, we were looking at a few thousand dollars most likely and frankly, we no longer trust the vets here to tell us the truth, not do unnecessary tests and procedures, and just take the simplest route to help our big dog.

"Go pack," we told the girls.  "Fast as you can.  Take clothes for two to three days, pajamas, underwear, don't forget your toothbrushes and grab some schoolbooks."

We took turns sitting with Rigger and packing.  He was remarkably calm for a pooch who couldn't move and had to feel horrible.  We couldn't get him to eat or drink at all.

Kerry spread a tarp in the back of the van and we loaded up everything we could and managed to get Rigger to his feet.  He was able to walk to the van but we had to bodily lift him into the van where he promptly collapsed.  Ringo joined him in the back of the van and we pulled out at 4:30 a.m. heading to see Kerry's father, the best veterinarian on the planet.

Going from Illinois to Georgia is an eleven hour drive and it's not pleasant under good circumstances.  When you're doing it on a minimum of sleep in a quite stressful situation, it's nearly unbearable.  We stopped to let the dogs used the bathroom every few hours but Rigger only managed to get out at the second stop and then he collapsed again before we could get him back in the van.  Emily and I were trying to hold him up while Kerry pulled the van closer to us and Emily said to me, "We're going to have to put him down when we get there, aren't we?"

"I don't know, but it looks likely," I told her quietly.

Ringo was very sweet to Rigger on the trip.  He normally ignores Rigger and avoids him at all costs.  This time he lay down next to Rigger and even put his paw over Rigger's paw for a while.

We were about halfway there when we were able to get hold of our family and let them know we were on our way.  We finally arrived - exhausted, tired, and grungy.

Rigger was immediately taken to x-ray where we finally got an answer and it wasn't good news.

He has tumors all through his chest.

Kerry's father gave us some medicines that should help him feel better for bit, but there really isn't a lot we can do.  We just want to keep him comfortable and have a little extra time to love on him and spoil him.

He's our baby.