Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Day 3401

Weather reports can be frustrating. Ever since I woke up this morning I've been waiting for the monster storm with baseball sized hail that was headed our way. Janet changed her plans and stayed home because her previous car was damaged during a hailstorm. I took my morning walk in a slow drizzle because I was convinced that the weather was going to get worse as the day progressed. The rain never arrived. Actually, the sun is shining right now. Go figure.

There is still rain in the forecast. Now it is supposed to arrive around midnight. We'll see what happens. Texas weather is often totally unpredictable. I just hope that the storm moves through town and is well to the East by morning. We need to pick up Dash at the cancer center early tomorrow morning and drive him to our cremation appointment. I definitely don't want to do this during a hailstorm.

It's been easier than I thought to keep taking 10,000 steps a day. There's always plenty of time to walk when there's nothing else to do. I don't think there's any danger of turning into Forest Gump or anything, but I might start taking much longer daily walks. Why not? Walking alone in the woods is a great way to collect your thoughts. There are people who think I need to find a hobby. Actually, daydreaming is a pretty good hobby.

More of my art sold at auction this weekend. These secondary auctions aren't nearly as exciting as the  big ones in New York last Fall, but at least things are selling. So far, I've only had one piece that didn't get any bids at all. I've replaced most of the art that used to hang on our walls with pictures of the dogs. These pictures make me happier anyway. It's been a long time since I was an avid art collector. I'd rather look at pictures of Spot, Petey, Greta, Dot and Dash.

When we were cleaning today we found a humongous pile of dead ants under the microwave. I wonder how many years it took for that pile to accumulate? When the house settled, it left a small crack near a window frame in the kitchen. Ants came through this hole every Spring. I always sprayed, but apparently the ants were tough. Most of them kept going until they reached the microwave.

One of Dash's vets sent us a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers. They smell wonderful and remind me that we always used to keep fresh flower in the house. That didn't last for long. As we both got busier with work, the flowers would often be dead for weeks before we even noticed. I think Spot ate some flowers too. That episode put an end to the flowers. It just became too much trouble to keep track of which plants were safe for dogs and which were dangerous. With Dalmatians it's better to assume that everything is unsafe unless the dogs are being supervised.

Now that I'm getting more sleep, I thought that my resting heart rate would go down. Surprisingly, the opposite has happened. Fitbit is full of mysteries. It tells you just enough to get you wondering, but not enough to do anything really useful. I probably was just as healthy before I started counting my steps.

Bella is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Day 3400

I like round numbers. 3400 seems reasonably close to 3500 and 3500 makes 4000 seem possible. I still don't know if I can reach my goal of writing something every evening for 5000 consecutive days, but I haven't given up yet. The thing that keeps me going is that I really don't know what is going to happen in the future. Anything could happen. Maybe the future will be worth reading about. I certainly hope something interesting occurs in the days ahead. Right now there isn't much of a story line. The blog has always been the story of two special dogs. Now that Dot and Dash are gone, so has a lot of my reasons for blogging.

We'll see what happens. Right now, I'm just trying to clean up the house. I took another load to the storage warehouse today. With Dash's support system gone, the house is stating to look bigger. I kind of miss the dog beds and kiddie gates, but there's far too much clutter around here already. It's time to restore some order to the place.

Janet brought an old computer home and wanted me to remove the hard drive so she could donate it. Nobody really wants old computers, but we've found a place that will take them. This was one of those Apple computers that looks like half of a bowling ball with a screen on a swinging chrome arm protruding from the top. I thought it would be easy to remove the hard drive, but apparently Apple didn't think this was a good idea. I had to disassemble the entire machine to access the cleverly hidden drive. It's a good thing I had a complete set of Torx screwdrivers. You couldn't even open the case with regular screwdrivers. Eventually, I finished the task, but I'm still wondering if it was worth the effort.

I got a voice message from the crematorium saying that they were unable to meet our request for a Saturday cremation. WTF? Dash's cremation is scheduled for Thursday morning. When I called to find out what was going on, the receptionist apologized immediately and told me she has been trying to reach someone else named John and had called me by mistake. "I'm so sorry," she said. "We'll see you tomorrow morning." "Tomorrow is Wednesday," I told her. "Our appointment is for Thursday morning." "Oh, I'm so sorry," she told me again. "I don't know why I even said that. Your appointment is definitely scheduled for Thursday." Somewhat reassured, I hung up the phone and continued my housecleaning.

I'm continuing my efforts to keep walking. Walking without a dog is just exercise, but at least Mr. Fitbit is happy. Somehow I've convinced myself that I need to take at least ten thousand steps a day. Ten thousand steps is easy with a dog. It's a little harder when you're just wandering around the house.

This is going to take a while. Dogs of ours have gone to the Rainbow Bridge before, but there was always another dog waiting to greet us when we returned to pick up the pieces. This is the first time there have been no dogs in the house for a very long time. It's awfully quiet around here.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, April 15, 2019

Day 3399

Watching Notre Dame burn left me with an uneasy feeling that civilization itself was coming to an end. Paris has always been my favorite city. Every time I've been there, it seemed to represent what a great civilization could become. The place was magic. I'm not sure I'd feel the same way if I returned today. Terrorist attacks, civil unrest, squalid homeless camps, and this horrendous fire have changed the place. I don't know if the fire was caused by simple carelessness or malicious intent, but it shouldn't have happened. We can do better. This building was constructed during the Middle Ages. It survived the French Revolution and two World Wars. The cathedral was a vibrant and important part of European life long before the United States even existed. The fact that it burned today just seems like a bad omen to me.

I've always loved great cathedrals. Janet and I have climbed to the top of St. Peter's and looked out over the Roman skyline. We've stood in awe in front of Gaudi's Sagrada Família in Barcelona. We visited Salisbury Cathedral on our way to Stonehenge. Once, my German hosts took me on a special private tour of The Cathedral of Saint Lorenz at the end of a business trip to Nuremberg. These places were all amazing to me, but probably Notre Dame was the best of them all. It was very sad to see it burn today.

This morning I made arrangements for Dash's funeral. It isn't really a funeral I guess. Just a private cremation. It will seem like a funeral to us. We will spend some time with Dash in a quiet room with candles and say our final goodbyes. The staff will make a paw print and we will wrap him in his favorite blanket. Then I will carry him to the crematory and we will leave. All this ceremony may seem silly to some, but it brings us closure. We have done this for all our dogs. There are five little cedar boxes on our coffee table. Soon there will be six.

I took a walk by myself this morning. I followed one of the trails the dogs used to love when they were young and active. Jeez. We used to walk a long way. I was winded by the time I returned home. Dot and Dash's decline has been so slow and gradual that I never really realized that our walks were getting shorter and shorter. I forget sometimes that I have been walking dogs in this park for thirty years. I know every inch of this place. We are lucky to live near the largest urban lake in the country. Our park is larger than Central Park in New York. It is very pretty. If you were a dog, this is definitely where you would want to live.

I took some more of Dash's things to the storage warehouse this afternoon. The warehouse is getting full again. Sometimes the whole idea of downsizing seems futile. There are always things you want to keep. I have things of my Dad's that I will never use but it seems disrespectful to throw them away. It's easy to throw away an old computer. It's much harder to throw away dog blankets. You should never throw away your dog's collar. We've accumulated a huge collection of dog collars.

I'm still not used to getting enough sleep. It almost seems unnatural.

Krissy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Day 3398

Dash had a lot more friends than I realized. I was overwhelmed as condolences poured in from around the world yesterday. Thanks to all of you for sharing our story for all these years and finding a place in your heart for a very special dog. Newcomers to the blog may not realize that I've been writing about dogs for a very long time. Years ago I used to be a contributing editor for a strange little magazine called The Dalmatian Quarterly. This was back in the day when people still read things printed on paper and odd publications like this could survive and thrive. The Dalmatian Quarterly is long gone, but my interest in dogs continued. I included a few dog stories in a book I wrote called The Road to Nowhere. People liked these stories, so I wrote a book about our first Dalmatian called Wag. After Spot passed away, I wrote another book about our next Dalmatian called Petey's Place. By the time Dot and Dash became part of our lives, I had discovered blogging and the rest is history.

It's still hard to get used to a world without dogs. When I came home from the gym this afternoon, I immediately went to the bedroom to check on Dash. Checking on Dash has become such an integral part of my life in recent years that it took a second or two to realize he wasn't there. His support system was definitely still in place. There were throw rugs to help him walk in every room. Puppy training pads were everywhere because you never knew when Dash would need to poop. All my pants and most of my jackets still have poop bags in the pockets. There were lots of kiddie gates to create safe spaces for Dash when I had to be away. There were an enormous amount of dog blankets and at least three dog beds in different parts of the house. You can't have too many dog blankets.

It's going to take a long time to make the house presentable again. I took the rugs back to the storage warehouse this afternoon. We may need them again someday. It's a lot more likely that another old Dalmatian will need them first. Friends gave us rugs when Dot's legs began to fail and we'll probably give these rugs to someone else. The gates will get used again too. Gates can be helpful with older dogs, but they are absolutely essential with puppies.

Eventually, all the blankets will be washed and put away. There will be one blanket that goes with Dash as he takes his final trip with us in the car a few days from now. We always wrap our dogs in their favorite blanket and drive them to be cremated ourselves. We make a paw print in clay, clip a tiny amount of fur to keep, and then gently carry our friend to the crematory. I will place Dash in the oven myself. Not everyone does it this way, but it just seems right. If you start your journey together, you should end your journey together. I will need to makes the arrangements tomorrow morning. We will go to the same place where we took Dot. They were extremely kind to us.

It was weird to experience uninterrupted sleep again. I didn't wake up once last night. I didn't even get up to go to the bathroom. It's been a long time since that happened. When I woke up around 6:30 AM I felt rested. There was no point in getting up early though. The only reason I ever got up early was to walk Dash before it became too hot. I guess I'm going to need to continue walking in the park to take pictures for the blog. I still need a new picture every day. It's going to seem strange walking without a dog though. It feels like I've been walking dogs forever.

Thanks again for thinking about us yesterday. It means a lot.

Flash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Day 3397

We lost Dash today. He passed away around 11 AM this morning. We knew Dash was sick when we took him to the vet this morning, but we fully expected him to come home with us. We were even slightly optimistic because we had finally been able to get him to drink water and eat a little food yesterday evening. It wasn't meant to be. When the lab results came back this morning, it was clear that Dash was suffering from kidney failure. The vet told us that they could put him on IV fluids for several days and possibly clear some of the toxins from his system. The real danger was excessive levels of phosphorus in his blood. Even if the toxins could be removed, the problem would return because Dash's kidneys weren't operating properly. Even after IV therapy, Dash still might not eat and probably would be very uncomfortable.

Kidney failure explained a lot of things. Lethargy, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, urinary incontinence, bad breath, and ulcers in the mouth can all be early signs of kidney failure. Dash had all of these symptoms. Increasing Dash's pain medication wouldn't help at all, since the Rimadyl he's been taking is hard on the liver and kidneys to begin with. We had to make a very hard choice today. We could leave him in the ICU for four days, fill him with IV fluids, and if we were lucky, get to spend a few more days or weeks with him. Our vet, a gifted oncologist who helped Dash survive cancer, didn't think he could survive more than a month no matter what we did. Our other choice was to say goodby today.

We never wanted any of our dogs to suffer. In the best of worlds, they all would have died peacefully in their sleep. That never happened. I have so many vivid memories of dying dogs that it's hard to remember all the good times. There were definitely lots of good times. Dot and Dash were both amazingly good dogs. We were lucky to have both of them. Dash was very tired after his exam. I took him outside one last time in the rain to smell things and then we returned to the clinic to say our goodbyes. He lay quietly on a warm blanket in the exam room when we returned and I could tell he was exhausted. As he went to sleep with his head in my lap, the vet prepared to administer the Propofol that would relax and sedate Dash and then the Barbiturates used to stop his heart. Dash was very peaceful as he made his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. He yawned once as the Propofol began to sedate him and just like that, he was gone.

It was very strange to come home to a quiet and empty house. We've shared our home with a Dalmatian for over 32 years. Living with dogs has become a way of life. Living with a sick dogs becomes a way of life too. It's been almost five years since Dot first became sick. There have been a lot up ups and downs along the way, but I wouldn't change a thing even though some days have been extremely hard. I really think we did the best we possible could for all our dogs and they definitely returned the favor. I just wish that dogs lived longer. They capture your heart and then they're gone.

I don't think we will realize for months just how much life has changed. We are both getting older and have our own medical problems. Dash might be our last dog. It's way too early to make that decision now, but we do need to rest and recuperate. It's been a long four years. Rest in peace Dash. I hope you knew that you were dearly loved.

Dash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 12, 2019

Day 3396

Today was tough. Dash refused to eat or drink today. Not eating is bad enough, but not drinking is even worse. Dogs that refuse to drink water can have kidney disease among other things. I've always worried about renal failure, but I think one of the symptoms for that is drinking too much water. At any rate, refusing to drink water definitely isn't normal.

 I called Dash's vet at the cancer center and he said that if we couldn't get Dash to drink water by later this evening, we should take him to an emergency vet and put him on IV fluids overnight. With so many serious problems already, we definitely don't want to let Dash become dehydrated. I was just about ready to make an appointment with the emergency vet, when we tried one more time to get Dash to drink. This time it worked. Dash drank a lot of water from his bathroom water bowl and then about thirty minutes later he drank some more from the kitchen water bowl. Crisis averted.

We're still going to take him to the vet tomorrow morning to check his blood work and make sure his kidneys aren't starting to fail. We aren't out of the woods yet, but he's had enough water so that I don't think we need to put him on IV fluids tonight. Eating is still a problem. Dash refused to eat anything for most of the day. He wouldn't even take his pills. After we got him to drink water this evening, he finally was able to eat a small ground beef patty and some bread. That's not much for an entire day, but at least it's a start. We'll try the appetite enhancer the vet prescribed tonight.

Janet was home today so I was able to keep my haircut appointment. The only time slot that was available was later in the day, so I ended up driving home during rush hour. I try to avoid this time of day at all costs because the traffic is horrendous. It certainly wasn't this bad when we moved to Dallas. How are people able to put up with this day after day? I'm surprised that road rage isn't worse than it is. It's been decades since I've had to deal with any type of commute. Working out of your house spoils you. I don't think I could handle commuting anymore.

While I was out this afternoon I renewed some prescriptions for Dash. This was being optimistic, since at the time, Dash still hadn't taken any of his daily meds. Luckily, we were able to give Dash his evening pills about an hour ago. I think today was the first time we've had to skip some of his meds entirely, but it couldn't be helped. This morning we weren't sure he was going to make it through the day.

I look more presentable after a haircut, but I don't feel any better. Today has been stressful. Hopefully, we can get some answers when we go to the cancer center tomorrow morning. Something is definitely wrong. Dash's periodontal disease might make his mouth hurt too much to eat normally. Maybe he has kidney disease. This is not uncommon with older Dalmatians. Maybe his cancer has returned. It could be almost anything at this point. A dog needs to eat and drink though. When they stop eating, it's all over. If we can get this problem resolved, we can work on the other things later.

Nellie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Day 3395

Every year around this time I get an e-mail from GoDaddy asking me to confirm the contact settings for a domain that isn't mine. Every year, I try to call GoDaddy to find out what is going on. I can never connect with customer service because I don't have the correct customer ID or PIN number. "I'm sorry, we can't authenticate your records," an automated voice says and then the line hangs up. I want to tell somebody that of course I don't have the right customer ID because I'm not a customer. The utter futility of dealing with automated customer support systems says everything you need to know about the world we live in today. Good luck if you want to call someone and ask a simple question. It's almost impossible. I'll probably get the same stupid e-mail next year.

I was sad to hear that the little Israeli lunar probe crashed on landing today. It almost made it. The main engine cut out just a few hundred feet above the lunar surface. I was hoping that this inexpensive, privately funded spacecraft would make it. The moon, or anywhere else for that matter, shouldn't be the exclusive purview of big governments.

I was also disappointed that Julian Assange was arrested. Assange should be viewed as a hero instead on an enemy. Everything he has revealed on Wikileaks has turned out to be true. Governments, including our own, shouldn't be able to hide under a cloak of secrecy when they are doing something wrong. There are no good guys in Washington. They all claim secrecy is vital for national security when the truth would damage them. On the other hand, they clamor for "full disclosure" when they think the truth would damage their opponents. It's disgusting.

At least there was some good news today. The second falcon heavy launch was a resounding success. The satellite went into orbit and all three of the booster stages landed successfully so they can be used again. Elon Musk has been able to do something that has so far eluded every government space agency in the world. We need a lot more people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs and a lot fewer folks  like we've got in congress right now.

Dash continues to be a mystery. I don't understand how he can continue to walk in the park when he can barely stand up at home. The contrast is astonishing. He needs assistance on his walks, but his legs move properly and when he is moving he can support his own weight. Even when he can barely stand up in the mornings, he still tries to head for the back gate. These walks seem really important to him.

I wish the walks weren't so exhausting. As soon as we return home Dash's legs turn to jelly. He immediately goes to sleep. It is often hours before he moves again. We were able to get him to eat some chicken and even some Hills ID yesterday so the diarrhea has subsided. If he gets really hungry, he'll eat, but he just doesn't have much of an appetite. I've seen all these signs before. Dash is slowly shutting down. I don't know how much time he has, but he has made it clear that he's not ready to go quite yet. We'll do our best to keep him comfortable and happy for as long as we can.

I finally made an appointment to get a haircut tomorrow. If Dash does well in the morning, maybe I'll go out for breakfast too. Who knows at this point. I can kind of relate to Dash's loss of appetite. The reasons are different but I've lost interest in food too. In case you're interested, today's watch used to belong to Alice Cooper.

Tyson is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Day 3394

I wish we could get Dash eating normally again. All the changes we've had to make to keep him eating are causing havoc with his digestive system. We had more diarrhea last night. Solid poop is easy to clean up. Diarrhea is a mess. We had to take Dash outside in the middle of the night and hose him off. There was a lot of laundry to do as well.

I'm pretty sure that if we could get Dash back on track with his chicken, rice, and vegetable stew his digestive problems would go away. He won't touch the stuff anymore. We can't use Metronidazole to clear up the diarrhea either. He seems to have a bad reaction to the stuff. In the past, these digestive problems have been temporary. I'm still hoping that we can get back to normal soon.

Maybe normal doesn't even exist anymore. Walks aren't normal anymore. Dash seems confused and gets lost more often. I can sense when he's becoming tired before he does, but it can be very difficult to get him turned around. Dash may have dementia, but he's just as stubborn as he always was. The rubber boots are wearing out faster because Dash is dragging his right rear leg more. We are walking slower too. Despite all these difficulties, Dash still insists on these daily walks. They are the one thing he still seems to enjoy.

I picked up prescriptions for Dash and myself today. My co-pay has gone up because my pharmacy isn't on my provider's preferred list anymore. This is such a nuisance. I like my pharmacy and they know my history well. I don't really want to change. You've got to wonder what is going on behind the scenes to try to force customers to go to certain pharmacies? Truthfully, I probably wouldn't want to know. The same drug should cost the same everywhere. Sadly, we're not even close to uniform drug prices. Dash's prescription are always much easier to deal with than mine.

What an amazing time we live in. First we get pictures of Pluto and today we see a black hole for the first time. I read several articles about how scientists imaged the back hole. It all sounded incredibly complex to me. Surprisingly, the black hole looked very much like the ones you see in science fiction movies. It's a big week in space. Tomorrow Israel will try to land a spacecraft on the moon and Space X will try to launch its monster Falcon Heavy rocket for the second time. Things are moving fast. Maybe I might live to see humans land on Mars after all.

The week is moving swiftly. I still need to get a haircut. I need to pick up something to eat for dinner tomorrow too. The refrigerator is looking empty. Scratch that. Actually, the refrigerator is full, but it's all things for Dash to eat. Hopefully, he'll find something he likes.

Apollo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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