Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 2706

Dot is giving us quite a roller coaster ride. Yesterday evening and even early this morning we were feeding her with a syringe. She wouldn't even drink water. When she took her morning pills around 7 AM, I couldn't get her to eat anything. I was feeling discouraged, but we went ahead and took our morning walk anyway. Nothing seems to dissuade Dot from going on these walks. Dot went to sleep for a few hours when we returned. When she woke up, she went straight to her bowl in the kitchen and ate a full cup of kibble. When she finished eating, she went to her water bowl and drank quite a bit of water. I was amazed.

Dot had such difficulty eating this weekend that we were going to cancel tomorrow's appointment at the cancer center. There didn't seem to be much point in doing more tests if she'd given up eating. I was actually just about to call and cancel the appointment when Dot started eating again. This will be the second time that Dot has returned from the brink. What happened today was remarkably similar to what happened when she stopped eating a month ago.

I may have to revise my thinking. For a long time I've been convinced that Dot's extensive nerve damage was making it hard for her to swallow. I thought her throat was partially paralyzed. When we were feeding her with the syringe yesterday I noticed that her swallowing reflex was completely normal. As we slowly squirted the liquid down her throat, she swallowed it without any problem. When I watched her eating this morning, she seemed to be swallowing normally too.

We've known Dot was getting senile for a long time. Maybe her eating problem is all in her brain. Sometimes when she walks up to her food bowl I can almost imagine her thinking "what is this and why am I standing here." Perhaps when she gets really hungry, the rusty synapses in her brain make a connection and she remembers what eating is all about. I really have no idea what is going on, but I'm happy that Dot has continued eating normally for the rest of the day.

When she and Dash were sleeping this afternoon, I went to Central Market and got a few tasty things to encourage Dot to eat while she's taking her pills. Dot loves chicken tenders. She eagerly ate two chicken tenders while we were doing the pill routine this afternoon. We're going to continue giving her a syringe full of the Dogsure liquid supplement in the morning. She seems to like it and maybe this is what provided the catalyst to get her eating again.

It still seems like I spend my entire day feeding, walking, and worrying about these dogs. Dot has become a very high maintenance girl. Some days seem futile, but other days like today make everything Janet and I do seem worthwhile. Everyone says you will know when your dog is ready to cross over to the other side. Dot is not ready yet.

Rosco is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 2705

Dot didn't bounce back today. I tried everything I could think of, but she just wasn't interested in eating. Two day ago she was eating more than enough to sustain her. Now, we are right back to where we were a month ago. It all happened rather suddenly. Jeez. It doesn't seem like a month has passed since we initially became convinced that her body was shutting down. I was so proud of Dot's remarkable comeback. She was determined to beat the odds.

I'm worried again. If Dot can't eat, she doesn't have long. She was even having trouble drinking water today. For the first time, we used a syringe to make sure she was getting enough water and wasn't becoming dehydrated. We took her outside and used a large syringe to slowly squirt water down her throat. I was surprised at how well this worked. We had to give her the water slowly so she wouldn't choke on it, but she did swallow normally and seemed to appreciated the water.

Later in the day it occurred to me that we could use the same technique to make sure she got some food too. We still had a can of the Dogsure liquid supplement we bought the first time she stopped eating. She drank about a third of the can using the syringe and at least for a few moments, seemed to regain her interest in food. We were able to get her to eat a little bit of fresh salmon Janet went out and got for her this morning. Nothing else worked today. Dot wasn't eating ham, cheese, turkey, or the Ultramix stew.

Surprisingly, Dot still wanted her walks. The weather was cool after some severe storms last night and Dot was eager to go to the park. I didn't think she'd have the energy, since she wasn't eating, but she did surprisingly well. These short walks are very important to her.

Last night's thunderstorm woke everyone up except for Dot. She slept through the whole thing. Dash, on the other hand, was terrified. I finally got him to come under the covers with me and he calmed down a bit since he couldn't see the lightning anymore. He could still hear the thunder though. This was some of the loudest thunder I've ever heard. It sounded like mortar rounds landing next to the house. Dash curled up next to me and shivered and shook for the rest of the night.

We try not to leave Dot alone anymore. I went to the gym right after breakfast while Janet was doing some things around the house. When I returned, she left to do her errands. I was surprised to look up while I was on the hand bike today and realize I was the only person in the entire gym. I don't think this has ever happened before. It's a very large gym and there's always somebody there. Janet told me later that it was graduation weekend and that the old people who frequent this gym were probably watching their children or grandchildren graduate. Sounds plausible.

I hope Dot's appetite returns tomorrow. She's got to eat something. It would break my heart to have to put a dog down that wasn't ready to go. I'm not giving up on Dot yet. She came back from the brink once before and maybe she will again. When I walked Dot this evening I could see her determination. We'll give it everything we've got tomorrow.

Casey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Day 2704

There are good days and there are bad days. Dot had trouble eating again today. For some inexplicable reason, all the progress we'd made this week was gone. I could tell she was hungry, but when she attempted to chew something, it just fell out of her mouth. I really tried to interest her in food, but all she ate was a little broth from a can of the Ultramix chicken and potato stew, a few crackers, and the cheese I gave her with her pills. She wouldn't even eat the turkey slices today. This has happened before, but it is always discouraging. Maybe Dot's appetite will return when it's time for her evening pills in about an hour, but at this point it doesn't look hopeful.

When I wasn't trying to feed Dot, I ran my normal Saturday errands. I got a garden hose at Home Depot so I could wash my car again. I threw away the old hose last month after it developed a leak, but never got around to replacing it. I filled the car with gas. I must have really been out and about last week. I used four gallons of gas instead of the three I used the previous week. I've been buying bulk items like paper towels and laundry detergent at Sam's Club for many years. The items never change, but the prices have almost doubled in the past decade. I don't get it when people talk about how low inflation is. I'm not an economist, but when prices for almost everything you use have doubled, that's inflation to me.

I washed the car and did a little yard work while Dot was sleeping. It was so disheartening that I couldn't get Dot to eat today. I've gotten used to her appetite kicking in late in the day, but it just didn't happen. I always look for a rational explanation to everything, but sometimes there just isn't one. Advanced age has its own set of rules. If you're looking for logic and order, you probably won't find it in the aging process. Things just fall apart and not always in the ways you might expect.

Maybe Dot will wake up hungry and start eating again tomorrow morning. I hope so. I can't force feed her though. When she has no desire to eat for any length of time, I have to realize that she is telling me it is time to go. I'm going to remain optimistic though.  Dot is resting calmly now and doesn't appear to be in any distress. She took a nice walk today. I just need to keep her eating.

This is one of those days where midnight is rapidly approaching and I'm not even close to being ready for bed myself. I have a feeling that I have more to say, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Harley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Day 2703

It's even harder to tell what day it is now that I'm not going out to breakfast on Friday morning. I'll have to say that my pancakes were pretty good though. They were better than any restaurant pancakes. The only problem was that I had to reheat them in the microwave half a dozen times because every time I took a bite, Dot wanted to go outside.

Dot's new schedule is perplexing. She generally wakes up in a good mood. We take our early morning walk and sometimes she eats a little while Dash is eating his breakfast. By the time I give Dot her morning pills, Dash is usually taking a nap. After taking her pills, I try to feed Dot again, but usually she isn't hungry. She doesn't want to rest either. I might as well just skip breakfast because I'm constantly moving Dot around for the first hour or so after she takes her medication. She doesn't seems to be uncomfortable. She is just restless. We walk around a lot. I figure this is good exercise for her. Eventually she gets tired and goes into a deep sleep. She sleeps more soundly during this period of time than she does at night. By the time I wake her up for her afternoon pills her appetite has generally returned. She eats most of her food between 4 and 6 PM. Sometimes she'll eat more as the evening progresses. If I'm lucky, she'll take a nap when I'm writing the blog and then just when I'm getting ready for bed, she becomes active again.

This type of activity is not conducive to getting much done. It's not great for getting a lot of sleep either, because now there's an additional trip outside to pee every morning around 2 AM. We've learned to adapt to the incontinence, the mobility problems, and the eating difficulties. It makes you wonder what's going to happen next though.

After Dot went to sleep, I drove to Central Market and got some food for the weekend. They were having some kind of celebration of southern cooking, so there were all kinds of tasty new items in the Chef Prepared section. We seldom cook anymore, so something new in the deli section is always a treat. Tonight we had grilled shrimp and Andouille sausage over a bed of smoked grits and red onions. It would have taken hours to make something like this at home. Cooking is overrated.

Dot's changing moods throughout the day make me wonder how the pain pills actually work. I would think by giving her the medication every eight hours, that she would be pain free all the time. Maybe the pills don't really last eight hours though. Maybe it takes a long time for the medication to actually enter her bloodstream. I hope Dot's restless periods aren't just times where she is still in pain. This will be a question for the oncologist when we go back to the cancer center for a recheck next Tuesday. Cancer pain and neurological pain are very different. I'd like to learn more about what is actually happening when we give her these pills.

There are supposed to be thunderstorms tonight. I can see them on the radar West of Fort Worth. Let's hope the go to the North or South of us. I'm not in the mood for thunderstorms.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 2702

Dash's bloodwork came back today and his triglyceride levels were sky high. This wasn't just a little spike. The tests showed triglyceride levels that were ten times higher than they should be. Dash's vet wanted us to change his diet immediately. This should be interesting. Dash is picky about food already. I can see him turning up his nose at the special low fat diet.

Abnormally high triglyceride levels can mean a lot of things. Sometimes the levels are high if the blood test are done right after a meal. Other times they are an indicator of poor thyroid function, pancreatitis, or liver disease. Hopefully, we just tested Dash too soon after a meal. We'll have to test him again in a couple of weeks. He'll have to fast this time. That's always fun. Dash hates to miss a meal.

I wish Dot and Dash could eat the same thing. Life is complicated enough as it is. Now we have to feed Dot a high calorie, high fat diet and Dash needs to eat just the opposite. The triglyceride levels could have become elevated just from all the food Dash steals out of Dot's bowl. At any rate, we need to get this under control. One sick dog at a time is plenty.

Dot still isn't eating in the morning. This makes giving her morning set of pills quite a challenge. It always worries me when Dot refuses to eat. So far, her appetite always seems to return late in the day, but I'm sure there will come a day when Dot quits eating completely. I don't know why Dot has adopted this strange new schedule, but I'm trying to adapt to it. I never used to appreciate how consistant the dogs were about just about everything. They always ate at the same time, walked at the same time, and slept at the same time. Now any semblance of consistency is out the window. Every day is a new day.

I bought some audio gear online today. I could justify the purchase because the gear was on sale and I got a tremendous bargain. That wasn't the reason though. I bought the stuff because I was frustrated. I always buy gear when I'm frustrated. The gear doesn't necessarily make me take more photographs or write more songs, but I always hope it will. I remember when I used to spend almost every evening writing and recording songs. Those were good times. Maybe someday the urge to write and record will return. I want to be ready when it does.

This week has gone quickly. I almost forgot to take the trash out to the curb this evening. It didn't seem like Thursday. I won't be going out to breakfast in the morning. Like songwriting, that activity has been postponed until sometime in an indefinite future. I do have pancake mix though and there are sausages in the freezer. It's always easy for me to eat. I just wish it was equally easy for Dot.

Skippy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Day 2701

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with dog problems. Dash threw up again today. Good grief. The dog had a complete physical exam yesterday and passed with flying colors. I don't know why he's throwing up. I don't think the vets do either. He doesn't seem nauseous. His appetite is still good. He wasn't even eating grass this morning. He just walked to the back door like he needed to pee and threw up instead. Since he's still acting normal, I'm not going to give him a Cerenia pill tonight. We'll see what happens.

Dot's new routine now includes a trip outside at 2 AM. After she pees or wanders around for a while in the dark, she seems fine for the rest of the night. I'm not wild about this nocturnal schedule, but it beats peeing in her bed like she used to. I wish Dot would eat in the morning. It would make it a lot easier to take her morning pills. Again, although this situation isn't ideal, it's OK. Dot seems to regain her appetite late in the afternoon and by the time we all go to bed, she has usually eaten a reasonable amount.

I paid some bills and took them to the post office this afternoon. On the way home I picked up prescriptions for Dot and Dash at two different locations. Our kitchen looks like a pharmacy now. There is a big box of pills for Dot, another box for Dash, and a third box for me. Janet is the lucky one. She only has to take a single prescription. It's hard to keep track of all these pills. It seems like I'm renewing something almost every day.

I spent about an hour trying to remove the scratch on my car with polishing compound. It looks much better now, but I can still see the scratch. Door dings and small scratches are inevitable when you live in a large city, but they still irritate me. I want the car to be perfect. I feel the same way about guitars, cameras, and electronic equipment. Sometimes I think I spend more time cleaning things than actually using them.

One thing that isn't clean is the house. It rained again last night and every time I take Dot outside, she tracks mud in the living room. I need a third hand. I used to wipe the dog's paws before they came in the house on rainy days, but now I'm using both hands to hold Dot's special harness. I guess it doesn't really matter. The rugs get cleaned often enough anyway when Dot pees on them. We really need the landscape guy to hurry up and put the new grass in the back yard. Grass would cut down on the mud tracked in the house considerably.

Dot is still very weak and can't stand without assistance, but she appears stable now. She's eating. She's barking. She's pooping. I don't know how long she has left, but for now she's a happy dog.

Susie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Day 2700

Dash is doing pretty well for a dog about to celebrate his twelfth birthday. The vet didn't discover anything alarming during his annual exam. The lumps and bumps are just benign lipomas. The cloudiness in his eye is getting worse, but he can still see well. Blood pressure is OK. His heart murmur has not gotten worse. Just about the only surprise was a mild infection on the inside of his lip, which he got an antibiotic shot for. I think I got the bigger surprise. When we got home, I discovered that someone had scratched the paint on my car in the parking lot.

I was worried about leaving Dot alone during Dash's exam, but she did pretty well. She was awake when I left, but was still resting calmly when I returned. Dot is still eating, which is nothing short of remarkable. I'm still spending most of the day feeding Dot dozens of little meals, but she's finally getting the nutrition she needs. I had to get the prescription for Dot's pain medication renewed today. When her oncologist prescribed the powerful meds, I think she was convinced that Dot only had a few days left. She was really surprised when I called and told her that Dot was eating again and needed a refill. I'm sure that the new pain medication is partially responsible for the return of Dot's appetite. Maybe there is another explanation, but I think that it might have simply been too painful for Dot to eat.

I wish I could think of something that would actually make Dot stronger. Her rear legs have gotten even weaker and she is totally dependent on me for mobility now. The good news is that Dot trusts me completely and knows that I will be there when she needs me. The bad news is that Dot trusts me completely and knows that I will be there when she needs me. Now that she is feeling a little better, she is barking for me to come lift her up and take her somewhere every five minutes. Since she is a bit senile, we spend quite a bit of time just wandering around aimlessly. Aimless wandering counts as exercise though. Maybe it will help keep her muscle atrophy from becoming even worse.

I joined this website called Alignable as a favor to a friend who was already a member. I guess this place is kind of a LinkedIn alternative and is supposed to help get you business leads. I spent about five minutes setting up a profile and then promptly forgot about the site. Apparently, it didn't forget about me. Now I'm getting messages from old co-workers and suppliers saying "good to hear from you again" and asking me how my business is doing. I hate to tell them that business sucks, so I just reply that it was good to hear from them too. I wonder how all these people heard about this site before I did. It appears that everybody else is already there. At any rate, I'm not expecting much. I never got any business from LinkedIn and I probably won't from this place either. Real business leads still come from word of mouth referrals.

My fitness tracker sends me messages every morning telling me that I'm not getting enough sleep. Jeez. Tell me something that I don't already know. Feeding and tending to Dot's needs and writing the blog basically take up the entire day. When you add something extra like Dash's annual exam or a big website update, I'm automatically behind. Needless to say, I didn't get to take a nap with the dogs today. Maybe tomorrow will be less hectic.

When Dot's oncologist prescribed her new pain medication, she told me that a younger dog could never take these meds because it would eventually kill them. The oncologist wasn't worried about Dot because she genuinely thought she only had a few days left. The goal was just to make her final days pain free. Now that Dot is slowly and steadily improving, I'm wondering how long Dot can take these powerful pills before the side effects start to cancel out the benefits. Catch 22. There's always a catch to everything, isn't there.

Liberty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, May 15, 2017

Day 2699

Our complex routine is starting to feel normal now. We always get up early on weekdays. The dogs get their morning walks before anyone gets fed to reduce the risk of someone throwing up their breakfast. If Dash doesn't try to eat grass on his walk, he's usually OK for the day. When we get home again, Dash gets fed while I make the bed and get things ready to feed Dot. I wait until Janet has left for work and Dash has settled down for his morning nap before I try to feed Dot. It's much easier to get Dot to take her pills when everything is calm and quiet. Janet usually eats breakfast while I'm still asleep. I don't eat my own breakfast until everything else is done.

Dot is never hungry in the morning, but it is getting easier to give her the pills she needs. Three times a day, I wrap the pills in a small piece of her favorite cheese. Between each pill she gets piece of turkey, a small slice of cheese, or a bite of tasty canned dog food. She's grown to enjoy this ritual and doesn't fight me anymore when I open her mouth to pop a pill inside. Maybe the array of tasty treats I've prepared seems like tapas or dim sum to her. I hope so. I'm trying to make staying alive as enjoyable as possible.

Dot and Dash were both active this morning. I had a hard time fixing my smoothie. Dot must be feeling better because she's started barking again. She barks when she needs attention now. Sometimes she needs to go outside and pee. Other times she wants me to put a little food in her bowl. She'll bark if she's frustrated too. It keeps me busy. I finished my breakfast around 11 AM this morning. Considering that I'd actually gotten up at 6 AM, I should have just called my smoothie lunch.

I'm either going to get really good at caring for aging dogs or go stark raving mad. It could go either way. I'm still amazed at how much time it takes to feed a dog who has difficulty eating. It takes at least thirty minutes each time I give Dot her pills and there are numerous small meals throughout the day. Sometimes Dot will eat a few bites, want me to take her outside, and then come in and eat a few more bites. We'll repeat this sequence again and again. Patience and persistence are paying off though. Dot seems noticeably stronger now that she's eating again. She's not eating enough to gain any weight, but we're working on that.

Since there always a few hours during the day when both dogs are sleeping soundly, I thought this might be a good time to catch up on my own sleep as well. Why not? I only had one small website update to make today and I finished that job in less time than it took me to give Dot her morning pills. The way things stand right now, I've got plenty of time to sleep during the day. I took a nap with Dot and Dash this afternoon and I do feel more rested. I'm pretty sure I'll be doing this again.

I hope Dot is sleeping well when I take Dash for his annual exam tomorrow. There really isn't a good time to leave the house anymore, but I try to time things the best I can. Dash has problems too, so I've got lots of questions for the vet. I'd love to get this house running smoothly again. Keeping Dot well nourished and Dash as healthy as we can would be a good start.

Sadie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Day 2698 - Mother's Day

Mom died twenty seven years ago. She was a remarkable woman who had a much greater influence on her family than she imagined. Whatever shred of kindness or hope I have left probably came from her. From time to time I still wonder whether she would have approved of the person I've become.

I never saved family photos or childhood memories. My long term memory is abysmal. That's why I write things down. I wrote a story about Mom shortly after her death. I knew I would want to remember someday. Perhaps it means something that I never wrote anything when my Dad died thirteen years later.

In many ways Dot has occupied the role of Mother in our house for many years. She is territorial. Very protective. And she definitely made Dash a better dog. Right now, my memories of our years with Dot are much more vivid than my memories of Mom. I know these memories will fade too. All my memories fade. Maybe that is why I started this blog. It's mostly about life with Dot and Dash. I want to remember these times.

Janet still remembers all kinds of details about our first Dalmatian. I don't. I wrote an entire book about Spot because I wanted to remember those times too. These words are my memories. If I don't write it down, it probably means that I'd just as soon forget.

Dot is still eating very late at night. This is much better than not eating at all, but it gives her indigestion. There is usually a point about an hour after we all go to bed that Janet and I are both convinced that Dot is going to throw up. I take her outside and walk her around for a while. This seems to help and sometimes she pees again too. Eventually, she goes to sleep. I got up several times last night to take Dot outside. I didn't sleep well, but Dot didn't throw up. This new routine is OK on weekends because we can all sleep in late. It doesn't work so well on workdays though.

When both dogs eat their food and nobody throws up, I consider the day a success. Today was one of those days. Dot still won't eat in the morning, but I am becoming increasingly confident that she will eat at some point during the day. With Dash back to normal and Dot learning to eat again, I'm starting to feel that life doesn't have to be a perpetual crisis. I'm not going to get over confident though. Things can change rapidly when your dog is 120 in human years.

I had a good workout at the gym, but that's about as far as my motivation would take me. I really didn't accomplish much today. There are clean sheets on the bed. Dot got all her pills. And I managed to take a shower. That's about it. Maybe I'll be more productive tomorrow. It sure would help if both dogs decide to sleep all the way through the night. Fingers crossed.

Lady is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Day 2697

It's dog roulette at our house. Last night it was Dash who threw up. He seemed fine when we all went to bed, but around 3 AM I woke up to the unmistakable sound of a dog vomiting next to me on the bed. Please, not on the bed. I hastily got up and moved him. Even the carpet seemed like a better alternative at this point. We gave Dash a Pepsid, took him outside, and cleaned up the mess. Dot never even woke up during the entire episode.

Nausea and vomiting are unfortunate side effects of Dash's Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. It doesn't happen all that often, but we will probably have to deal with this for the rest of his life. Of course with Dash, there is always the possibility that he just ate some crap in the yard when we weren't looking. When dogs vomit, you have the option of doing nothing, giving them a Pepsid AC, or giving them a Cerenia pill or injection. It all depends on how severe the situation is. Dash seemed fine this morning. Tonight it may be Dot who throws up.

Dot was surprisingly strong today. She slept well and was eager to take a walk this morning. Walking Dot is starting to seem more like carrying a fifty pound bowling ball down the street, but she is still moving her legs and seems to enjoy the experience. In many ways it would be easier to walk Dot using the wheelchair than the Help 'Em Up Harness, but the wheels have their limitations. It takes two people to effectively get Dot in and out of the chair. Since one of us is usually walking Dash while the other walks Dot, this can be a problem. Also, it's hard getting the wheelchair down the gravel alley behind our house before we get to a smooth street. I wish the wheelchair was easier to use. As it stands, it is only practical a few days a week.

There was lots of laundry today, since the protective pads weren't positioned correctly when Dot decided to poop this morning. Dot doesn't give you much warning, so you have to be ready for an accident at any time. Luckily, our washer has a super hot "sanitize" setting. We use that setting a lot.

It would be nice if dog pee were a bug deterrent. Dot rarely makes it past the back door when I take her out to pee. I hose down the back porch several times a day. Maybe I'm imagining things, but there do seem to be fewer spiders on the porch this Spring. The spiders probably just arrive later in the Summer, but I'm still hoping that there are some beneficial effects from the dog pee.

For someone who depends on predictability, I think I'm doing pretty well dealing with a steady diet of surprises. Every day is different. Some days are scary. Today was kind of hopeful. Dot actually ate more than her two cup goal today. She's eating fewer of the exotic, rich foods we had to depend on last week and is gradually returning to her old diet. You wouldn't think a dog would rather eat kibble than sliced turkey and cheese, but that's our Dot. She really just wants to get back to the familiar routines she has known for her entire life.

When I filled the car up with gas this afternoon, I was surprised so see that I'd only used three gallons of gas all last week. It appears that I'm not getting out much these days. I'll try to go to the gym tomorrow. I still need to get out a little bit. I debated whether to give Dash another Pepsid tonight. He seems fine though, so we'll take a chance. I hate to over medicate just to make life more convenient.

Today was a good day. Dot seemed stronger and was in good spirits for most of the day. Dash seems to have made a full recovery. It would be nice if tomorrow was just like today.

Haley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, May 12, 2017

Day 2696

If you are a regular reader, you are probably wondering how long things are going to go on like this. Is Dot getting better? Is she getting worse? What is her quality of life? I wonder about these things too. When Dot is eating and has some energy, I am tremendously encouraged. When she shows no interest in getting up, I am discouraged. When something unexpected happens, like vomiting in the middle of the night, I am alarmed. All I can tell you is that Dot isn't ready to leave us yet. There's always a point in the day when she is determined to take our short, but very slow, walk to the edge of the park. There are moments when she still barks at Dash, as if to say "Remember I'm still the alpha dog around here." I never know when she is going to become hungry, but when she does I'll hold her up by her bowl as she slowly eats her dinner one kibble at a time.

Today was like most days this week. There were high points and low points. The Cerenia pills definitely helped her sleep. There was no nausea last night and Dot slept comfortably all night. When Dot sleeps comfortably, we all sleep comfortably. I got more sleep last night than I have all week.

This morning, Dot wasn't hungry, but she did have energy. Luckily the weather was cool and we were able to take a nice walk to the edge of the park and sit in the grass for twenty minutes. I'd like to say that things got better and better, but Dot didn't have much of an appetite today. I had difficulty getting her to eat until very late in the day. When she did eat something around sunset, it wasn't enough to make up for the food she missed earlier in the day.

Every day is like this. Some days mornings are good. Other days, afternoons are better. Dot doesn't eat much, but the food she is eating now is nutritious and good quality. We do our best to make sure Dot is well hydrated and not starving herself. There are many small meals throughout the day. Dot eats when she wants and sleeps when she wants. If she heads toward the back gate, I take her on a short walk. I don't know how long she has left, but the goal is just to keep her happy, out of pain, and as well nourished as we can during her remaining days. It's not an easy job, but I feel that it is well worth the considerable effort it takes.

I didn't end up cooking this morning after all. I just didn't have the energy. I got some pancakes in a take-out box at a nearby restaurant and came home again. There were so many dog things to do this morning that it was almost noon before I got around to actually eating the pancakes. This is definately a work in progress. I'm still having problems keeping Dash from getting jealous when I'm feeding Dot. It's best if I do this while Dash is sleeping in the bedroom, but it doesn't always work out that way. Things need things to be calm and quiet while Dot is eating. If Dash starts barking, or swoops in to steal her food, progress usually stops.

I try to make a big deal about feeding Dash too, so he feels special. This has been partially successful, but dogs are dogs and Dash just isn't able to resist the sight of me sitting on the floor with Dot, surrounded with little plates of turkey, cheese, and other tasty food. Usually, if I can get Dot interested in food with something really tasty, she will then want me to hold her up so she can eat her regular kibble from her bowl. I'm counting on this, because it is the regular food she eats that is keeping her nourished.

My phone has been giving me problems lately. Almost every day I get an error message saying "No SIM card installed." Of course, there really is a SIM card and the phone works normally again once I turn it off and on again. It's just irritating. Today I thought I'd take the SIM card out and clean it. Hey, I've already tried everything else. I never realized that the SIM card was so small. I almost lost it when I popped open the tray and the little card fell on the floor. The SIM card is probably dirtier now than it was before, but the phone still works.

We're not going to give Dot a Cerenia pill tonight to see whether the nausea returns. In many ways it would be easier to just keep giving her the pills, but this is not a medication designed for long term use. We need to know what is causing the vomiting too. It might not be nausea at all. I hope that everyone sleeps well tonight and that the weekend is peaceful. We all need to recharge our batteries.

Dodger is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Day 2695

I'm running on empty. Dot has become nocturnal. She sleeps during the day and becomes restless at night when I'm trying to sleep. I sleep on the floor with her now, so I'm nearby when she needs to get up. Last night she went outside three times in the middle of the night to pee. I guess this is better than peeing in her bed, but I sure am tired. Dot didn't throw up last night, so I guess the Cerenia pill helped. I should have given her a full dose instead of the half dose I usually give Dash. I could tell she still had an upset stomach, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the previous night. I"ll give her the full dose tonight and hopefully she'll sleep better.

When I woke up this morning Janet had already walked Dash and was almost ready for work. I didn't think I slept at all last night, but I must have dozed off, because I wasn't even aware of Janet and Dash leaving the house. Dot was sleeping soundly too. Finally. I delayed giving her morning pills so she could sleep longer and get some rest.

Dot worried me today. She was too tired to take her regular morning walk. Basically, she slept all day except when it was necessary to take her medications. Dot wouldn't even drink water this morning which was troubling. After one of her vets warned me about dehydration, I've become very conscious of how much water she drinks during the day. I thought I was going to have to learn how to use a syringe to hydrate Dot, but around 4 PM this afternoon, she woke up hungry and thirsty. I held her up by her water bowl for over fifteen minutes as she took tiny sips. Eventually, I saw the water level in the bowl go down a bit and I felt comfortable that she was getting enough water.

I never know what Dot is going to eat. The only thing I could get her to eat with her morning pills were thinly sliced pieces of turkey. I asked Janet to pick up more of this turkey on her way home from work because it seemed like our only remaining option. Dot slept soundly for most of the day. When I woke her up to take her afternoon pills, I was pleased to see that her appetite had returned. I was feeding Dash at the time and she went over to his bowl and started eating his food. Both dogs were eating out of the same bowl for a while, so I kind of lost track of how much food Dot actually consumed.

I'm going to have to do something about the bugs in our yard. When I'm holding Dot's harness and waiting for her to pee, it doesn't take long for the chiggers and mosquitoes to find me. I've already been bitten more times than I was all last summer. Chiggers are much worse than mosquitoes. The bites quickly become big red welts that take almost a week to subside. I'm still looking for that idyllic, imaginary place with no bugs, no snakes, and mild rain free weather.

My Friday morning breakfast outings are on hiatus for a while. Dot has simply become too frail to leave alone for any length of time. That's OK. I think I'll learn how to make pancakes and waffles again. I already can make a pretty decent omelette and my French Toast recipe is delicious. I'm in the mood for pancakes though. We'll see if I can make pancakes and sausages without making a huge mess in the kitchen.

If Dot doesn't sleep wall tonight, I'm going to have to become nocturnal myself. Sleeping during the day with the dogs never used to be an option, but work has gotten so slow lately that it probably doesn't matter when I sleep. The way I feel now, I might sleep for the entire weekend.

Dixie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Day 2694

I talked with two vets today. One was very pessimistic about Dot's future while the other was slightly optimistic. I guess the difference of opinion comes down to how you define "quality of life." If I'm happy for an hour each day, I'm good. I probably assume that Dot thinks the same way. How can you ever know for sure? I think that Dot is still happy because she seems to enjoy her short walks and barks whenever she needs attention. Maybe she's miserable though. She certainly can't do much in her diminished capacity.

I"m feeling uncertain today because we got off to a terrible start. After spending most of the day yesterday making sure that Dot got enough food, she ended up throwing up everything she ate around two in the morning. One vet told me that the symptoms Dot was exhibiting just before she threw up indicated that she was nauseous and suggested giving her a Cerenia pill before bedtime tonight. The other vet was worried that Dot's impaired swallowing was causing food to back up in her esophagus and she was regurgitating it before it ever reached her stomach.

It's all getting very complicated. Dot is supposed to be eating bland food like chicken and rice or low fat cottage cheese. These things don't appeal to her though and it's easier to get her to eat rich, strong smelling food containing things like duck or venison. The rich food is likely to cause an upset stomach and could lead to her throwing up again. After the phone calls I made today, it became apparent that it wasn't really OK to let Dot eat anything she wanted. Nobody answered my questions about how to convince her to eat things that don't appeal to her. It's hard enough to get her to eat anything at all. If she continues to throw up, dehydration becomes a real worry. I already worry that she's not getting enough water because she takes such tiny little sips.

I went out and bought some low fat cottage cheese this evening. We'll add that to the growing array of choices that Dot already has. I'm kind of at my wit's end. Every positive thing we do for Dot seems to be accompanied by negative side effects. I guess I should expect this. All medicine is this way. Just look at the commercials on TV from the pharmaceutical companies. The disclaimers about all the horrible things that can happen if you take their pills are often longer than the commercials themselves.

Dot still doesn't have much interest in eating until later in the day. This means that she'll probably go to bed again with a full belly. I hope she doesn't get indigestion. I've been trying to keep her active for a while so that the food she eats with her final set of pain pills actually gets out of her esophagus and into her stomach. I gave her a Cerenia pill too. With any luck, we'll all sleep a little better tonight.

This morning while I was walking Dash, I saw a Great Egret catch and eat a fish. Nature is cruel and beautiful. I watched in fascination as the Egret ate the fish, thinking that I'd sure hate to hand feed one of those birds.

Chief is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Day 2693

Today was rough. Dot wouldn't eat anything for most of the day. I tried everything we had, but she just wasn't interested. I could tell she was tired as soon as she woke up this morning. Dot's balance and coordination isn't great on a good day. On a bad day her legs are like jelly. I don't even know why Dot wanted a walk this morning because she could barely stand. Our girl is determined though, so we gave her a short walk in hopes that it might trigger her appetite. Walking Dot today with the Help 'Em Up Harness was like walking a bowling ball. She was mostly just dead weight.

As the day progressed I became increasingly worried that Dot was slipping away again. Mostly she just slept today, but I continued to try to feed her every time she looked alert and lifted her head. Dot was sleeping so soundly this afternoon that I thought it was pretty safe to go mow the grass. We've had so much rain recently that the grass is growing quickly. When I returned to the house, Dot hadn't moved an inch. She was still sleeping in exactly the same spot where I left her.

I was just about to give up on getting Dot to eat anything when she sat up in her bed around quarter till six this evening and gave me the look that told me it was time to go outside and pee. As soon as she peed, we came back inside and she went straight to her bowl in the kitchen. I was able to feed her almost a cup of dry kibble and some sliced turkey.

I wish I knew what it is that causes Dot to reject food. She can go from refusing to eat or drink anything at all to eating relatively normally in less than hour. I'm glad her appetite still kicks in occasionally, but she needs to eat a lot more. We're only halfway there on today's calorie quest and the day is almost over.

I guess today was a partial success. I just finished giving Dot her evening pain pills. Dash didn't throw up. The grass got mowed. Dot didn't eat nearly enough, but at least she ate something. I made an appointment for Dash to get his annual physical at the vet next week, but I have no idea whether I'll be able to keep it. Things keep changing day to day around here. A week from now seems like an eternity.

Life has gotten pretty basic. I wake up each morning with one goal: to keep Dot eating. She wants to eat, but her body isn't cooperating. My job is to help her overcame her difficulty in swallowing. When Dot is eating, she is happier and noticeably stronger. If she quits eating entirely, she doesn't have long.

We made it through another day. Tomorrow we start over and do it all again.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, May 8, 2017

Day 2692

I've never spent so much time focused on eating. It takes an entire day to feed Dot. She eats tiny amounts and then turns away. An hour or two later she'll eat a little more. I'll feed her whenever she shows any interest in food. Dash has become obsessed with Dot's food, but it makes him sick. Getting both dogs to eat is proving to be quite a challenge. Dot's appetite often returns while I'm eating breakfast or dinner, so my own meals are continually getting cold, or in the case of my morning smoothie, becoming warm. Dash is moody and often I have to trick him to eat. When he won't touch his breakfast, I transfer it to Dot's bowl. Oddly, this works sometimes, because Dash thinks he is stealing Dot's food.

Eating a relaxed meal used to be the favorite part of my day. Cleaning up poop during breakfast, or keeping a constant eye on Dash to make sure he doesn't wander off and vomit in the office has changed things though. There is nothing relaxing about mealtime. Typically, it has become one of the most stressful times of the day.

Dot must be feeling a little better, because she's starting to remember how much she hates taking pills. It's harder to get the pills down her throat, because she knows the routine. I try to find something she really likes to feed her after each pill, so she gets some positive reinforcement. You never know when she's going to be hungry, but amazingly she still has an appetite a couple of times a day. I really have to work on becoming more patient. Hand feeding a dog a couple of kibbles at a time can take forever.

It was a long day, but we're all still here. Dot has eaten about 3/4 of her daily quota and Dash finally ate his own food without throwing up. Hopefully, Dot will eat a little more when she takes her final set of pills at the end of the day. I never dreamed that eating could become so complicated. Often Dot will refuse to eat something she seemed to love the day before. We need to keep a wide variety of choices available for her. Today, she's back to eating dry food again. To reward her for taking her pills, I've been giving her little bits of sliced turkey today. Who knows if she'll like turkey tomorrow.

I need to rearrange the refrigerator. It is so full of options for Dot, that leftovers I need to eat myself often get misplaced.  I really need a shelf for each day of the week in the refrigerator. I would put the oldest food on the Monday shelf, so I would be sure to eat it first. I hate it when food goes bad simply because I've forgotten about it.

I wrote some friendly letters today to clients who have seemingly forgotten about me. If they don't reply to these messages, I will conclude that they actually have forgotten about me. I hope these folks aren't reading the blog and concluding that I'm too preoccupied to meet their deadlines. I still need the work. I never miss deadlines either.

I wish I had a better understanding of what is going on in Dot's body. She's not giving up, but these days have got to be tough on her. Her activity level changes from day to day. Last week I thought she was becoming nocturnal because she was still active when Janet and I were ready to go to bed. Today, she was active all morning and is sleeping soundly now. Some days I think she isn't going to eat at all, and then an hour later, she'll be hungry again. I think this is a learning experience for all of us.

Daisy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Day 2691

Dash threw up again today. I'm pretty sure that Dash's problem is that there are seven different brands of dog food in the house now and it's driving him nuts. He always tries to steal Dot's food unless I pen him in the back of the house while I'm feeding her. Dash has had a sensitive stomach for most of his life and he can't handle eating something different everyday. The rich canned food that Dot is eating now was not meant for dogs like Dash.

Feeding the dogs is complicated. The whole process works best if Dash eats before Dot even wakes up and I don't begin feeding Dot until Dash has gone back to the bedroom for his morning nap. This works great when all the stars are aligned perfectly, but on a normal day, things are fairly chaotic. Today Dash ended up eating a fair amount of Dot's food. I feel like I don't have enough hands anymore. It takes both hands to hold Dot's harness while she eats, poops, walks around the house, or basically does anything. Dash takes advantage of the situation whenever he can.

We gave Dash a Cerenia pill tonight and hope that it will take care of the situation for a while. He's got to go back to his special diet though. There just isn't any other alternative. I wish Dash understood how difficult it is to keep Dot with us a little longer. Dot is special to Dash too. When we first adopted Dash, he was scared of everything. Dot was the one who gave him confidence. You can't expect a dog to act differently though. He sees all the attention Dot is getting and all the exotic food she is allowed to eat. All he wants is to be treated the same way.

It's weird being the one to make all these decisions for the dogs. What is kind and caring for Dot would be unkind and irresponsible for Dash. As I try to keep life in balance for both dogs, I sometimes wonder how people with severely disabled kids keep it together. One of our neighbors has a boy who looks a bit like Steven Hawking. They have to do everything for him. How do they do it without going crazy? My problems are nothing compared to the problems that many people have. I think I've reached my limit though. So far, I'm doing pretty well, but I don't think I could handle much more.

Maybe we just don't know what we can handle until we try. I felt that I needed to up my game at the gym today. I can't really help the dogs if I'm always tired myself. My workout was more strenuous this afternoon and a doubled my free throw goal on the basketball court. The fitness band on my wrist told me that I did pretty well, but I still didn't really enjoy the exercise. All in all, I would have rather taken a nap.

While I was walking Dash this evening we happened to see the woman who gave us the can of food for Dot last Sunday. She was really pleased to hear that her food proved to be the key to getting Dot eating again. I still have no idea who this woman is.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Day 2690

The only time I go to the mall anymore is when I get a haircut. The place used to seem normal to me, but now it seems increasingly alien. The flowers are much more exotic than the ones I see at the park. The air is not only artificially cold, it is scented. Shoppers seem to dress better here than when they go to work. I don't get how this place works. The mall is usually packed with people, yet most of the high end stores are practically empty.

I've been going to the same stylist for many years.  I think she and I were the only people in the salon today who weren't covered with tattoos. All the young stylists had tattoos. Some of the ink was quite artistic, but a lot of the tattoos were messy and poorly thought out. One of my veterinarians has spent a lot of money trying to remove tattoos that she impulsively got when she was younger. I wonder if some of these people are going to feel the same way later in life. There's nothing wrong with tattoos, but I'm not comfortable wearing my feelings on my skin. My feelings about almost everything have changed radically over the years. Tattoos are far too permanent.

I feel better with a good haircut, but the trip to the mall certainly threw me off schedule. Dot wasn't eating well today. I spent more time than usual trying to make sure she got enough food. I don't know why her appetite and activity level changes from one day to the next, but it sure makes life complicated. I thought we'd finally found a healthy food that Dot really likes, but today she wanted to eat Dash's food when she finally became hungry. She didn't eat much. Absolutely nothing is predictable anymore.

I thought Dot was going to have a great day, because she slept well for the first time in ages. There were no middle of the night accidents last night and everybody got a good night's sleep. Oddly, even though she was well rested, Dot was very shaky on her feet this morning. She improved a bit as the day progressed, but today definitely wasn't as good as yesterday. I wish I knew why things ebb and flux like this, but I probably never will.

I hope Dot feels better tomorrow. I was really starting to feel good that her appetite and enthusiasm were returning. Today was a bit of a setback. We still ate and we still walked, but Dot was obviously feeling tired. Maybe a good night's sleep will help.

Patches is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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