Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 2684

Dot bought herself another day. She was very reluctant to get up this morning and didn't want to eat. When I did get her up and took her outside to pee, she headed straight for the back gate. She wanted a walk. I continue to be amazed at the tenaciousness of this dog. We thought maybe a short walk would stimulate her appetite, so we slowly headed toward the park. Dot smelled the flowers, lay in the grass, and enjoyed herself, but she still wouldn't eat when we got home.

On the way home a lady we often see while walking the dogs stopped me and asked about Dot. She recommended some food that she said her dog loved after he got cancer. I thanked her for the suggestion and then continued on our way home. We were almost back to the house when I saw the lady running to catch up with us. She had a can in her hand.  She stuck the can in my jacket pocket and urged me to try it. I thanked her again, but was kind of baffled. We were well beyond canned dog food solutions.

I was finally able to get Dot interested in some small pieces of sliced ham I had in the refrigerator. This was enough so she could take her morning pain pills, but it wasn't nearly enough to keep her nourished. Usually she goes back to sleep after she eats, but she seemed restless this morning. I thought she needed to pee, but she just kept wandering around in the yard. Keep in mind that she's not really wandering around on her own. I'm holding her up using the harness. After an hour of restless behavior, she threw up.  Although Dot went back to sleep and rested peacefully after this, I was very worried. Dot had probably thrown up the pain pills we had given her earlier in the morning, along with whatever nutrition she'd had in the past 12 hours.

While Dot was sleeping, Janet and I wondered if this was the day. I called the vet again and asked about making an appointment later in the evening. I didn't confirm anything though, because Dot has always snapped back late in the day. On Friday she regained her appetite around 3 PM. Yesterday it was 4 PM. Today she seemed tired and listless until almost 6 PM. Since Dot didn't seem interested in cheese or the sliced ham she had eaten this morning, we opened the can the lady had given me this morning. Castor and Pollux Natural Ultramix the can said. Dot loved it. She was able to swallow the bits of chicken and turkey, and lapped up the chicken broth when I put it in a small saucer in front of her. It took about an hour to hand feed her this mix, but she ended up eating almost three quarters of the can. This was great news, especially since the Ultramix stew is much healthier for her than the cheese, Fritos, and lunch meat we've been experimenting with for the past several days.

So far Dot has not thrown up her tasty meal. She took her second round of pain pills and even wanted an evening walk. I'm really glad that last night's rain brought some much cooler weather with it. Temperatures were in the 40's early this morning. Dot loves cold weather and she really enjoyed her two short walks.

Dot has a strong heart so she probably won't die in her sleep. She has a strong spirit, so she probably won't give up or go quietly. She's still dying though. It's up to us to decide when the time is right. If Dot wants one more walk and is able to eat enough to stay nourished, I'm delighted to give her an extra day. I'd love to give her an extra week.                  

Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 2683

Long goodbyes are the worst. Dot sleeps a little longer every day and eats a little less. She still has her moments though, and during those moments you've really got to admire her courage and tenacity. We had a hard time getting her to eat this morning. We let her sleep as long as she wanted, but when she finally woke up, she was still lethargic. I took Dash on a morning walk, thinking that Dot would be back asleep when we returned. When we were on our way home, who did I see coming toward me? It was Janet and Dot. Dot didn't want to eat, but she definitely did want a walk.

I'm amazed at how important these walks are to Dot. She can barely move, but she is still determined to make it to the edge of the park whenever she has the energy. We all sat in the grass for a while and then slowly made our way home. By the time I finished giving Dot her pills, she was exhausted and went back to sleep. A friend asked yesterday why I continue to give Dot her meds when she is obviously near the end. These are pain pills. Terminal cancer can be quite painful and our goal at this point is to keep Dot comfortable during the time she has left. A lot of the regular pills have been discontinued.

While Dot was sleeping I had my usual worries about whether she was dead. She sleeps so soundly and breathes so slowly that it's hard to tell sometimes. Yesterday, she snapped back to life and ate quite a bit of food around 3 PM. Today, she didn't wake up until 4 PM. Luckily she decided to eat again. She never did eat much this morning. Today she dined on cheese. Our refrigerator is filled with things Dot ate once and then refused to eat again. She won't eat the chicken now. She doesn't eat the hamburger either. Today she eagerly ate some new peanut butter dog treats we got for her. She wouldn't eat the treats we got yesterday though. Oddly, she still eats a little of her regular dog food at some point during the day.

This evening was a nightmare. Strong thunderstorms rolled through the area after dinner and the thunder frightened both dogs. Dash knocked over a bunch of stuff trying to climb into a closet and Dot started barking and decided that she needed to go outside in the rain and pee. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to pee and we repeated this process over and over again. The rain eventually stopped, but Dot still needs to pee.

Janet was gone this evening, so the two storm phobic dogs ended up taking priority over the blog. I still think I'll get finished before midnight though. Everybody is starting to calm down and it looks like Dot is going to make it another day.

Parker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 2682

I was so convinced this morning that Dot was telling me it was time that I called the vet and made an appointment to have her euthanized this evening. She didn't want to get up. She wouldn't eat or drink water. And her eyes had lost their sparkle. It looked like her body was shutting down.

I sat with her and cried for quite a while. About 2 PM she raised her head and gave me the look that said she needed to pee. I took her outside and then tried again to see if she would eat. Her response was tentative at first and then something in her brain kicked into gear. I was able to hand feed her almost a cup of her regular food and over a dozen of her favorite treats. I helped her up and she drank some water and then wanted to go outside again. Dot was back.

An anonymous blog reader suggested that I try seeing if Dot would drink Dogsure. I'd never heard of this product, but I went out and bought a few cans. The product was the canine equivalent of Ensure for humans. I was a little skeptical at first, especially since abandoning solid food and trying to live totally on Ensure contributed to my Dad's death. At this point I had little to lose though. I did a Google search and the product seemed to get great reviews from people who had tried it. Much to my surprise, Dot seemed to like the Dogsure and was able to drink it. More importantly, when I moistened her regular food with the Dogsure and fed it to her by hand, she was able to eat more of that too. I have no idea who sent me this tip, but Dot and I both thank you.

Needless to say, I canceled the appointment to euthanize Dot this evening. She managed to eat a little more when Janet came home from work this evening and is resting calmly now. I have no illusions. Dot's body is shutting down and I have no way to stop it. She is amazingly tenacious though and doesn't want to go. It was almost as if she heard me talking to the vet this morning and was telling me "don't count me out yet." I really hope she didn't hear me talking to the pet cemetery, because I had to do that today as well.

If you need to have your dog cremated, most of your options are far, far away. Maybe it is a city ordnance or something, but when the time comes I will need to drive fifty to seventy five miles to find a pet crematorium. I called the place that had helped us with Spot, Petey, and Greta and discovered that things had changed. The guy who had been so kind to us had retired due to health problems and two of the facilities three burners were out of operation. The lady who ran the place now said she would be happy to refrigerate Dot until they could get their crematorium operational again. I thanked her for the offer and began looking elsewhere.

I absolutely hate to do this sort of thing but it has to be done. A lot of people just leave their dog with the vet and return two weeks later to pick up a cedar box. That doesn't seem right to me. I have always stayed with my dogs until the very end. I have even carried them to the furnace and placed them in the oven myself. A nice lady I talk to today said that new OSHA requirements wouldn't allow me to do this anymore. One way or another, I'll still stay with Dot until the very end. I think she deserves that.

Today was full of ups and downs. Dot is clearly losing her battle to stay with us. She had a moment this afternoon where she proved she was definitely back in the game, but she had a lot of difficulty taking her evening meds. I have to put the pills down her throat now one at a time. I'm afraid to do this if she is not eating anything. She needs to keep swallowing for a little while to make sure the pill doesn't get stuck in her throat. I'm really glad I bought the Dogsure liquid. She drank a little between each pill and it saved the day.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 2681

There's nothing kind or convenient about death. I went to bed last night trying to prepare myself for the inevitable, but Dot woke up this morning with other ideas. She wanted a walk. Dot seemed in surprisingly good spirits for a dog that is losing weight at an alarming rate and has extreme difficulty eating. We let Dot rest instead of trying to get her up this morning. Janet walked Dash before she left for work and I stayed behind to watch over Dot. It wasn't long before she raised her head and gave me the sign that she needed to pee. After taking her outside I sat on the floor with her and tried to feed her tiny pieces of boiled chicken and cheeseburger. Eventually she managed to eat one third of a chicken breast and about a quarter of a cheeseburger without the bun. I had to pen Dash in the back of the house because it was driving him wild to see me hand feeding Dot the cheeseburger.

Dot seemed tired after what seemed like a monumental effort to keep from starving. She was hungry. When Dot went back to sleep, I ate my own breakfast. Before I finished, I heard her barking. She still wanted a walk. We made our way ever so slowly to the park and spent about twenty minutes sitting in the grass. Dot was alert and enjoyed the windy day and the surprisingly cool weather.

It's so sad that Dot really wants to continue, but her body won't let her. She doesn't have long, but she definitely wasn't ready to go today. How can you put a dog down who is eager to go on a walk? I worry that she isn't getting enough nutrition. The list of things she will try to eat keeps getting smaller. This morning she was willing to eat the burger and boiled chicken. This afternoon, she had no interest in meat. The only thing she would eat for the rest of the day were her favorite dog treats and a small amount of kibble.

I can't hide Dot's pills in anything now. She chews thing for so long that the pills inevitably fall out of whatever we've hidden them in and as soon as she bites into one, the bad taste stops her from eating anything else. Dot hates people messing with her mouth and even when she was healthy, she resisted being pilled. Unfortunately, that's the only way to get a pill down her now. I try to open her mouth and put the pill down her throat as quickly as I can and then follow it with something tasty to keep her chewing and swallowing. I know I'm going to get bit pretty soon.

A vet I've known for decades called me this evening to offer some moral support. The call mean a lot. There's not much more that doctors can do for Dot at this point, but I appreciated another opinion about how to handle these final days. We talked about the many dogs we have known and loved over the years and how hard it is to say goodbye. I felt a little better knowing that her clinic was nearby and that they would be expecting me if I had to call this weekend.

I wonder if this morning's walk was Dot's last? She didn't feel like walking this evening. We did finally manage to get Dot to take her evening meds, but it was a struggle. I have no idea what to expect tomorrow.

Bowser is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 2680

It's time to begin saying goodbye. Dot may have a day or she may have a week, but she doesn't have long. It's so sad. The new pain pills we started giving Dot really do work. She woke up with more energy than I've seen in weeks. She actually got up by herself several times today and began walking around the house on her own. The problem is that she can't swallow. The paralysis that has been affecting her legs for months seems to have spread to her neck. If Dot can't swallow, she can't eat. The swallowing difficulty didn't happen overnight, but within the past several days it has become quite alarming.

I spent most of the day trying to get Dot to eat. I was able to hand feed her a small amount of boiled chicken breast this morning, but she wasn't interested in her kibble and can no longer swallow cheese or peanut butter. Dot is still hungry. She definitely hasn't lost her appetite. She will chew things but they just fall out of her mouth. Getting her to take her meds is almost impossible. She doesn't want you anywhere near her mouth and tries to bite you if you attempt to open the mouth and put a pill down her throat. Even the vet wasn't able to pill her yesterday.

This leaves us with very few options. After spending over an hour trying to get her to eat a tiny amount of boiled chicken breast, I gave up and let her sleep. Less than two hours later she threw up everything she had eaten in the past twelve hours. I couldn't figure out how she had thrown up so much, because she is still having normal bowel movements. Food is still passing through her digestive system. After several calls to her oncologist and her regular vet, we decided to give her an injection of Cerenia in an attempt to stabilize her and stop the vomiting.

Everyone agreed that if Dot continued to reject food and vomited up what she did eat, she wouldn't last very long. She couldn't take the Cerenia in pill form, so we drove her to the vet for a shot. The nurse was very nice. She came out to the car when we arrived and gave her the shot. We didn't even have to take Dot out of the car.

As the day progressed, Dot got a little better. She hasn't thrown up anymore and although I wasn't able to get her to take her afternoon meds, we did have a little success at dinner. The thing that saved the day was a leftover cheeseburger that Janet brought home from an office lunch. We had more success hiding her pills in the juicy cheese burger than anything else we've tried so far. After dinner tonight I went to the store and bought some ground beef to make hamburgers with and some American cheese slices in an attempt to duplicate the burger that Janet brought home from work.

Dot was able to take her evening meds with our hastily made cheeseburgers, but this is not a long term solution. Despite spending most of the day trying to feed her, she only held down less than half of what she usually eats. Dot has some of the best vets on the planet and none of them could offer me a solution. We may have run out of options. If Dot's throat is becoming paralyzed, we will need to make a decision quickly.

Dot is calm and resting peacefully now. She made it through the day. We'll see how she does in the morning.

Brady is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 2679

I was so optimistic yesterday and today it's the exact opposite. Dot had an extensive evaluation at the cancer center this morning and the prognosis was not encouraging. In addition to all her other problems, Dot now has anemia. The oncologist gave her a Vitamin B12 shot, but this is just a temporary solution. The combination of Dot's decreasing appetite, her difficulty swallowing, the ongoing nerve damage, the cancer in her liver, and now the anemia made the oncologist conclude that Dot's body is starting to shut down. She was very worried that Dot was losing her appetite. When I asked how long Dot could maintain a reasonable quality of life, I was told that she probably has two to three months at best.

I kept asking about the cancer, but the oncologist stopped me at one point and said "Dot is a very, very old dog. She's dying of old age." It's hard to deal with the fact that every beginning has an end. Dot has been my constant companion for so long that it's hard to imagine a time when she's no longer there. After much discussion, we all decided that the best thing we could do now was keep Dot free from pain. The oncologist thought that pain might be causing Dot to lose her appetite, because her vital signs and blood chemistry were still basically good. We're putting her on a stronger and much more effective pain medication that is intended for end of life care. Extended use of this medication can cause liver damage, but her liver is quite damaged already. If she's comfortable she might start eating normally again and if she's eating normally a lot of things will improve.

The one bright spot in a rather dismal day was that I discovered a way to get Dot to take her pills. I bought some Velveeta cheese on the recommendation of Dot's physical therapy vet and she loves it. I had no problem getting her to take her meds today. I did have a problem finding the Velveeta cheese at the grocery store. I kept looking in the refrigerated section where all the other cheese was displayed. No Velveeta there. I finally found a big stack of yellow Velveeta boxes sitting on an unrefrigerated shelf next to the chips and dips.

For some reason the Velveeta cheese brings back distant memories of the days when I lived on Ramen noodles and beer. I don't think this stuff is even really cheese, but don't tell that to Dot and Dash. They love the stuff. Actually, it's not that bad. I ate some myself while I was giving the dogs their meds this afternoon and it made me hungry for queso and chips. I may need to go buy a can of Ro*Tel tomatoes.

I walked Dot with her wheelchair again this evening. She walks really well using the device, but it's a little difficult navigating the gravel alley behind our house until we get to a smoothly paved road. Although the wheelchair protects Dot from falling, it is not a magic bullet. Dot still gets tired because she's still moving four very weak legs. We walk slow and I let her stop whenever she feels like it. All in all, the wheelchair is a big plus. I just hope she stays strong enough to continue using it.

I have no big plans for tomorrow. After back to back vet appointments, we could all use a little rest. I did manage to retrieve my jacket today, although I probably won't wear it again until Fall. Summer is definitely on the way.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 2678

Dot got her wheels today. We really didn't know what to expect. Some dogs are baffled by these contraptions and others start walking almost immediately. Dot was a natural. It only took her a few minutes to discover that the wheelchair provided some much needed stability and allowed her to walk without struggling to stay upright. For the first time in months, she seemed to relax.

The key to success with a doggie wheelchair is making sure you've got the height adjusted properly. You want all four of the dogs paws to touch the ground and encourage a natural stride. If the chair is too high, the dogs can't get any tactile feedback from the pavement and probably won't walk at all. If the chair is too low, it won't provide the necessary support, placing too much weight on the legs. If you get the chair adjusted just right, the injured dog will feel like it is walking normally, without the burden of supporting its own weight.

I was pleased with how quickly Dot seemed to adapt to walking with wheels. It probably helps that we've been helping her walk with the Help 'Em Up Harness for over a year now. She's used to having some sort of assistance. Dot knows she can't walk on her own anymore and seems to appreciate anything that will help her keep moving. The vet said that most dogs take a lot longer to adjust to walking with wheels. Dot seemed to get the hang of things in a matter on minutes. Maybe she's not as senile as we think she is.

Sadly, I think I'm the senile one in the family. I took my jacket off at the vet because it was hot in the exam room and then promptly forgot about it. I didn't even think about the jacket until about three in the afternoon when I looked in a mirror and realized that I'd put my shirt on inside out this morning. I'd been wearing it inside out all day and didn't even notice. Damn. Now, I've got to drive all the way downtown again to retrieve the jacket and it's not even jacket weather anymore.

I was pleasantly surprised today to get a letter from the State of Texas saying that I was eligible to renew my driver's license online. This was great news, because nothing is worse than standing in line at the DMV, except maybe being called for jury duty. I renewed my license immediately, just in case the state decided to change their mind later. I wish I could renew my passport online. I think you need a new photo every time you renew your passport, so I'll need to take care of this chore in person. Oddly, the driver's license folks don't seem to care how old their photo is. My photo is out of date already. Lord knows how different I'll look five years from now.

My morning smoothie tastes normal again. I still have no idea what caused things to go terribly wrong last week. The ingredients I use are always the same. One of life's many mysteries, I guess. Another mystery is why Dot has trouble swallowing her pills in the morning, but does just fine in the evening. I'm determined to solved the mystery of the bug bite on my leg that refuses to heal, so I finally made a doctor's appointment. The vet suggested trying Velveeta cheese to get Dot to take her pills. I wonder what the doctor will suggest for me. I bet it's a pill.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 2677

Yesterday was a fluke. The rare burst of energy Dot experienced appears to have vanished. She woke up shaky this morning and had trouble standing. She had difficulty swallowing her pills again. And an hour after finishing her breakfast, she threw up. Dot didn't seem to be in pain, but she did seem tired. The only remedy I could think of was a day of rest.

While Dot rested, I worked. The rug she threw up on needed to be cleaned. The sheets needed to be changed. And I really needed to get up on the roof and inspect the recent repairs. There was a lot of standing water to remove, but for the most part, the new patches have held up well. The crew missed two spots, but that wasn't surprising. They always miss something. I cleaned everything up and made a mental note to call the roofers again. I still think it would have been more effective to re-coat the entire roof with the new material, instead of coming out again and again to make patches. Eventually they will have re-coated the entire roof anyway.

By the time I got to the gym, I was already tired. I tried my best to keep my heart rate up and did end up burning a few more calories. I think one of the reasons my workout seems to be deteriorating is that I'm getting better on the basketball court. It use to take me forever to sink my self imposed quota of free throws and now I can make my shots fairly quickly. You'd think I'd just stay on the court longer, but I always do everything exactly the same. Once I've finished a routine that hasn't changed in several years, I'm out of there and on my way home. Things would probably be different if I actually enjoyed going to the gym.

It was an absolutely beautiful day today with clear blue skies and a nice breeze. It's too bad Dot wasn't feeling better. She loves this type of weather. Dash got a nice walk today and since Dot did perk up a bit as the day progressed, I took her out for a very short walk around sunset. I should have gone out and looked at the stars tonight because the sky was as clear as its been in months. Evenings are a fixed point in time though. I always have the blog to write. I feel compelled to never skip a day, and if a choice needs to be made, the blog always comes first.

Tomorrow morning, Dot comes first. We have an appointment to take her downtown to the physical therapy vet to get her evaluated and hopefully fitted for a doggie wheelchair. I think the plan is to try both two wheel and four wheel varieties. I'm not sure how Dot will respond to either. Some dogs know what to do immediately when fitted with wheels and others just stand there. There is definitely a learning curve with these things. Spot had a wheelchair towards the end of his life and he was always tipping it over by trying to walk up and over curbs. It helps if you have a dog who likes to walk in a straight line.

I wonder how long the allergy season will last this year? My nose is running. My eyes are watering. And I've completely used up my little bottle of Visine. I'll have to run down to CVS and get a new bottle tomorrow because I can't stand rubbing my eyes all day.

I sure hope I have some good news to report tomorrow about Dot's wheelchair. She loves to be outside, but just can't stand up very well. Maybe a set of wheels will help.

Wyatt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 2676

I was unlocking the back door and getting ready to take Dot outside this morning when much to my surprise I see her walking toward me. She had gotten up all by herself and was headed toward the door on her own. I was amazed. She hasn't done this for months. It was as if she was telling us "don't count me out yet." Her surprising show of strength continued for most of the day. Dot ate all her food today and had two good walks.

Dash was in good spirits as well. I think the dogs liked the cooler weather. The weather was a surprise as well. A cold front rolled in overnight and the temperature was in the low 50's when we woke up. The severe weather the bank teller was warning me about yesterday finally arrived late last night, but all we got was a lot of rain. Luckily, the hail storms and tornado warnings were to the North of us.

I spent most of the day doing mindless chores, but I did find time to take a camera down to the lake without the dogs. Cool overcast days are perfect photography weather. I was hoping to capture a Great Blue Heron or some Great Egrets, but they were nowhere to be found today. I did see a mother Wood Duck with three little ducklings, so my excursion wasn't entirely in vain. There are an abundance of animals in the park, but I don't see as many when I walk Dash these days. He's not as adventurous as he used to be, so we seldom venture off one well worn path. I've given up trying to get Dash to do something new. He is very stubborn.

I noticed today that the camera I am using now was only saving images at 180 DPI. I did a Google search to learn how to change the setting to 300 DPI like I was used to and discovered that dots per inch was no longer considered a meaningful number. For the most part, camera manufacturers had just abandoned it, just like depth of field scales and aperture rings on the lens. None of this makes sense to me. What if you wanted to print a picture straight from your camera without processing it in Photoshop? Wouldn't it would be handy to have a 300 DPI image then? Nope. I was wrong about that as well. Evidently modern printers automatically scale the image to the paper size you have selected and all of the processing I've learned to do over the years is no longer necessary. It's weird to feel so out of date. It's even weirder to still like the old way of doing things better.

We've had a lot of rain lately and I hope that the new patches on the roof are doing well. I haven't even been up to check on them yet. I haven't done a lot of things that I used to do routinely because I seem to be perpetually tired. Janet seems to feel the same way. When the chores are finished and the dogs have been taken care of, we fall asleep instantly.

It's too wet to mow the grass and too muddy to spend much effort cleaning the house. I guess I'll just go to the gym tomorrow. Maybe I need a personal trainer or at least a class or two. I walk constantly and am very active when I go to the gym, but I'm still losing muscle mass. I've gone from feeling pleased that I could still wear the same sizes I wore in college to being slightly alarmed. I definitely don't want to wind up like Dot. It's harder to build muscle as you age, but it is not impossible. I used to blame muscle atrophy on the statin drugs I was taking, but it's entirely possible that I'm just not working out hard enough.

I hope Dot has another good day tomorrow. There is really no explanation for the burst of energy she had today. A good day is a gift. I can't think of anything we did differently today, but it sure would be nice if our luck continues tomorrow.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 2675

I stayed home and made French Toast this morning. As expected, Dot remained active after her morning walk. She needed to go outside twice while I was fixing breakfast and then just as I thought things were settling down, she pooped and made a big mess as she struggled to get up. I took everything off the stove, got some wet rages to clean her up, and fitted her with the spare harness we have for occasions like this. After I got everything cleaned up and started a new load of laundry, I warmed up my breakfast in the microwave and finished my meal. Basically, it was just a normal morning.

The good news is that Dash seems back to normal. His appetite has returned and he didn't seem nauseous at all. By 10:30, both dogs were ready for a nap. I made sure they were sleeping soundly and then ran my morning errands. While I was at the bank, a teller asked me if I was trying to get everything done before it started to rain. "It's going to rain," I asked? She told me that there was a severe weather warning and that there was going to be hail in the afternoon.

Since I avoid rain at all costs, I hurried to get everything done before the bad weather started. I picked up dinner at Central Market and swung by the vet to get Dash's blood pressure medication on the way home. It really didn't look like bad weather was on the way to me, so I checked the weather radar as soon as I got home. The only storm clouds I saw were in Oklahoma. I wonder where the bank teller got her information? She seemed convinced that something bad was about to happen.

The only bad thing that happened today was that the automated garbage truck driver crushed my can again and failed to empty all the trash. There were still two bags in the bottom of the badly dented can when I went to retrieve it. I hope we haven't lost our good driver. For the past three months we've had a very good driver who knew how to operate the high tech truck properly. Now we're back to square one. I hope today's driver was just a temporary replacement. From the looks of things he made a mess of the entire street. After making sure the dogs were still asleep, I took the abandoned trash bags to a dumpster. I'll have to ask the city for a new can again too. I wish the sanitation department could master these new trucks they've got. It shouldn't be that hard to get the trash in the truck.

Dot slept for a long time today. She didn't wake up until mid-afternoon, but after that, she kept me busy for the rest of the day. Dot was eager to walk this afternoon, even though she can barely move. I really hope we are successful at fitting her for a wheelchair next week. Her rear legs have been weak for a long time, but now she is starting to lose muscle coordination. If I don't hold her up properly using the harness, her rear legs start to drag. It's amazing that she still wants to walk, because it seems so difficult.

It's been a long day, but at least we made it through another week. Next week is going to be busy. Dot has a major cancer recheck and we've got a lot of questions for the oncologist. Hopefully Dot will have a new wheelchair next week as well. At least we will test her to see if she would benefit from wheels. If I have time, I'm going to replace the hard drive on my office computer with a higher capacity drive. I'm out of space. I found a place that offers same day service on drive upgrades. I'm sure I can go a day without a computer these days. That's all in the future though. All I'm worried about tomorrow is making sure Dash holds down his dinner and Dot can swallow her pills.

Joe is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 2674

Good grief. Now Dash is throwing up. When I walked into the office early this morning and noticed last night's dinner on the floor, my first response was "which dog did this." It became obvious very quickly who the culprit was. As soon as we took Dash outside to pee, he threw up again on the porch. Unfortunately one of the symptoms associated with Old Dog Vestibular Disease is nausea or vomiting. When Dash had his Vestibular seizures back in February, I had hoped that he would make a full recovery. He still may, but his doctor warned me that sometimes symptoms could last for months.

I called Dash's oncologist to see what to do next and he prescribed an anti nausea medication. We're not supposed to use the medication unless he throws up again. At least we have a plan now. I feel better knowing what caused the vomiting and what to do when it happens again. Hopefully, we can keep this controlled. We have dozens of easily washable rugs throughout the house, but Dash inevitably heads straight for the carpet when he has an upset stomach. The pills are expensive too. Basically, every time Dash vomits it costs $20.

Dealing with two sick dogs at the same time can be nerve racking. If one dog is pooping in the bedroom while the other is vomiting in the kitchen, who do you deal with first? I usually have to stay with Dot, since she can't walk on her own, but I've got to keep an eye on Dash as well. I have to leave the back door open when I take Dot outside to pee, and often Dash will follow behind if he has an upset stomach and start eating grass. Eating grass is a sure fire way to start vomiting again. I waited until both dogs were sleeping soundly before I drove up to the cancer center to pick up Dash's meds. If the dogs are awake, all bets are off.

I didn't feed Dash much today and made sure he had a very bland diet. So far, he has held everything down. It's a bigger deal when Dash vomits than it is with most dogs. He takes phenobarbital to control epileptic seizures and it is important that he gets the proper dose every single day. If he throws up one of his pills, you have to skip a day and risk a seizure, because you definitely don't want to overdose a dog with phenobarbital. I probably know enough about pills now to pass a pharmacy exam. I never dreamed that keeping your dog healthy could become so complicated.

I doubt that I'll be able to go out for breakfast tomorrow. Dot's schedule seems to have changed. She is very restless early in the morning now. It frustrates her that she can't walk on her own. On most days she doesn't settle down and go back to sleep until almost 11 AM. I guess I could go out to lunch, but I never eat lunch anymore. We'll see what happens tomorrow. If the day is anything like today, it will be a three ring circus.

If burnout starts to seem completely normal, have you transcended burnout, or have you just entered your own private Twilight Zone? I really don't know. I haven't traveled down this road before.

Wilson is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Day 2673

Dot threw up again last night and still seemed to be having trouble swallowing her pills this morning. Things are changing and I'm still trying to figure out how to adapt. Since putting her meds inside a small ball of canned dog food doesn't seems to work anymore, we're going to try cheese. Dot has always loved cheese. If cheese doesn't work, we can always try to boil a chicken breast and then cube the meat into small pieces we can use to hide a pill. One way or another, Dot still needs to take her meds.

I don't remember aging being quite as stressful with our other dogs. Maybe it was though. I tend to blot out things I don't want to remember. Spot lived to be fourteen. Like Dot, he lived through major spinal surgery and intestinal cancer. The surgery was successful, but cancer detection methods weren't as good back then and the cancer returned. Petey died suddenly of kidney failure and Greta never made it out of the hospital after a cancerous lobe of her liver was removed. Dot has lived longer than any dog we've ever had, but I doubt she'll make it to her next birthday. It's really sad to see this chapter of her life and mine coming to a close.

Occasionally, I'll look at old movies of Dot and Dash running and jumping over things. They were both very athletic and loved the dog park. Those years seem so long ago. Life has become so much smaller. Lately, we just try to make it through the day. Success is a day where Dot is able to hold down her food and enjoy a very short assisted walk to the end of our street. I've gotten so used to dealing with her incontinence that it just seems normal now. I can almost read Dot's mind by now. A glance tells me when she is in pain or when she needs to pee. We have become very close. I know she wants to continue. I just don't know how long she can.

Since there weren't any writing or website jobs today, I decided to get caught up on my bookkeeping. It's sobering to compare this year's billing to earlier years. Truthfully, there isn't much left of the business anymore. I just can't bring myself to formally close it. When friends of mine have found themselves in a similar situation, some of them have turned to teaching. I taught as an adjunct professor years ago, but couldn't imagine doing it anymore. I've become far too reclusive.

I wonder sometimes if Dash will be our last dog. Caring for two aging cancer survivors has been more tiring than I ever imagined. My Dad had a little Dachshund who was his constant companion until the day he died. Little dogs are easier to take care of though and tend to live longer. Dalmatians are extremely active dogs and deserve to be with an equally active person. I don't know if I have the energy for another Dalmatian, but I could never imagine having anything else.

I never made it up on the roof today. I never got my bone density scan either. Dot was restless. I was slow. It's amazing we made it through the day at all. I'm hoping that we both get a burst of renewed energy tomorrow.

Marley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 2672

Sometimes I wonder what I'd do if I didn't have dogs to take care of. I'd probably be making plans to view the solar eclipse this August. Maybe I'd try to reconnect with NASA and get myself invited to a few space launches again. I might go back to school and take some classes, although that is increasingly doubtful. Universities have become very strange. There's a good chance I might do nothing at all. My Dad had all sorts of plans for his retirement, but his health gradually declined and he ended up spending most of his time watching college basketball on a small TV in his living room. You never know what the future has in store for you. I see little point in making elaborate plans. I do have dogs to take care of. For the moment, this seems to be as valid a way to spend my days as anything else I could think of.

Today was a big improvement over yesterday. The skies have cleared and my rugs are drying out again. I think I have figured out why my breakfast smoothie tastes weird. The bananas aren't ripe. Dot didn't make a major mess in the house today, although the day isn't over yet. I even managed to get quite a bit of work done and all my client's websites are up to date.

I had to pick up some new city tags for Dash today. I wonder why it took me four years to realize that city pet registration was free for senior citizens. I guess I don't like to think of myself as a senior citizen. In my own mind, I'm still a nineteen year old with a rapidly failing mind and body. There's probably a lot of other free stuff I could take advantage of if I looked. I probably won't. I'm not the kind of guy who's looking for a free dessert at Luby's or half price matinee movie tickets. Let me know if anybody has senior citizen pricing on guitars or Ferrari's though. I might be interested.

Dot is having trouble taking her pills now. This is not good. We've been putting her pills inside a small ball of wet dog food, but in the past several days she's started spitting it out. For some reason, Dot is having trouble with soft foods now. First it was banana slices and now it's the "meatball" we make for her to take her meds. I'm going to have to figure out a better way to make sure she takes her pills. Oddly, Dot is still able to eat dry food just fine if the pieces are small. I never thought she'd lose the ability to chew soft things like bananas, but the aging process is full of mysteries.

I paid a bunch of bills today and took them to the post office. I'm probably never going to switch to online payments. I don't really need to go to the bank and post office anymore. There are apps on my phone that would let me bypass these errands. I guess I just like the ritual. Going to the post office gets me out of the house for a little while. I can see if there's anything new in the neighborhood while listening to NPR on the radio for a few minutes. These small outings and my Friday breakfast keep things in balance.

If the weather stays nice, I'll go up on the roof tomorrow and see whether the new patches survived the rain. I probably should go get that bone density scan at the doctor's office, but I hate sitting in the waiting room, so maybe I'll wait a while. I hope Dot has a good day. That's really all that matters.

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, April 17, 2017

Day 2671

What a miserable day. There were thunderstorms and heavy rain all day long. Dash refused to go outside and pee, becoming more and more frustrated as the day progressed. Dot had no problem going out in the rain. I don't even think she knew it was raining most of the time. We went out over and over again, getting soaking wet each time. Even though she had ample time to pee outside, Dot still chose to pee inside. It was one of those days. I sure wish I'd remembered to bring the rugs that were drying on the clothesline back inside last night, because now they are all wet again. Neither dog would relax today. They didn't like the rain and they seemed irritated at me for not making it stop.

I hope the new roof patches had time to cure properly. In theory, everything should be fine since they had at least three days to dry before today's rain, but things do not always go as planned. Once it rained less than twenty four hours after the roofers arrived and the coating they applied just dissolved and washed away. Roofers are always trying to convince me how great these new high tech coatings are on a flat roof, but I still think the original tar and gravel roof I had when I bought the house was better.

Something was strange with my breakfast smoothie this morning. I used exactly the same ingredients as I always do, but the beverage tasted very different. Did I get a bad banana? Is the Vitamix broken and not blending properly? I don't have a clue. Some people might not have even noticed the change in flavor, but inconsistency is a red flag to me. I may not notice many things in life, but I am very aware of inconsistencies. You'd think I'd be used to random changes by now, but I'm not. If I find something I like, I want it to stay the same forever.

I had a ton of errands to run today, but I didn't do any of them. Rainy days are basically a three ring circus around here. I always have to leave the back door open when I take Dot outside. Both of my hands are occupied holding Dot up, and if I stop to close the door, she'll fall over. Inevitably, Dash will wander outside just far enough to get his paws muddy and then go back inside again before I have a chance to clean him up. The entire day was like this. Dash wouldn't actually go out in the yard and pee. He would just stand in a puddle at the edge of the porch.

Since both dogs are scared of thunder and lightning, I ended up spending hours sitting with them in a corner trying to keep them calm. I wonder if they make me nervous or I make them nervous. I could care less about the thunder, but I fret about the power going out or a tree falling on the roof. Whenever there's a thunderstorm I always realize that I have failed to charge all my devices. The phones and tablets are charged now, but it probably doesn't matter. I think the weather is supposed to be nice for the rest of the week.

Maybe some sense of normalcy will return tomorrow. I hope so. I've had enough of this rain. There are websites I need to update. I've got to pick up some meds for Dash. There's a stack of bills that need to be paid. I need to get a bone density scan. I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten. I forget a lot these days. We'll start with the important stuff. If I can get Dot to pee without making a huge mess, I'm ready for anything.

Bella is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day 2670 - Easter

It hasn't seemed like Easter for a long time. When I was young, I remember Easter baskets and going to sunrise services in our pajamas. We could get away with pajamas because the service was held at a drive-in theater. We stayed in the car and listened though one of those speakers that clamped to your window. I think the choir and the preacher were up on the roof of the concession stand. Since the service was outside, we actually did see the sun rise.

That was a long, long time ago. Now, what I remember most about Easter are the hordes of people that descend on the park for egg hunts and family picnics. I never realized that Easter picnics are a big deal, but apparently they are. Easter is the busiest day of the year in the park. I kind of dread walking Dash on this day because there are tons of loose dogs and copious amounts of candy and chocolates strewn in the grass. We did OK today until some kid flew a drone right over our head and it scared Dash. That was the end of the walk for us. Dash turned around and immediately set a course for home.

My gym is closed on holidays, so I got my exercise cleaning the house. Vacuuming has replaced mowing the grass as the chore I hate the most. It has become almost impossible to keep things clean with all the traction rugs we've spread everywhere for Dot. Some of the rugs are thin, so they get sucked up and jam the vacuum. Others are porous, so dirt gets under them. You've almost got to clean the house twice. The rugs need to be cleaned and then they need to be pulled up so you can clean under them as well. The Dyson Animal does pretty well with pet hair, but it sure is heavy. I'm always tripping over the cord as well. I think going to the gym would have been a lot easier.

I caught the end of the tribute to the Bee Gees on TV this evening. Barry Gibb can still sing. Jeez, the guy has to be over 70 now. I'm amazed at how well the music of my generation has held up over the years. I still think we had the best music growing up. Many of the greats have died over the years, but the Rolling Stones are still performing. Paul McCartney is still performing. And Barry Gibb can still hit the high notes.

Janet cooked a fabulous Easter dinner tonight. Elaborate meals are a rarity now. We are both old and tired and generally it just isn't worth the trouble. Mostly we just eat take-out these days. It was a treat to sit down and enjoy a really nice home cooked meal. It was kind of like getting an Easter basket when I was a kid. Even the dogs were well behaved this evening. I immediately forgot the aches and pains of vacuuming.

Although Dot continues to get weaker, she had a surprisingly good walk this evening. It probably helped that I waited until sunset when the weather was cooler. We'll see how tomorrow goes. We don't even try to make it to the back door anymore. I just put some puppy training pads next to her bed and let her pee there as soon as I get her up in the morning. Things keep changing and I continue to improvise in an effort to make the best of things.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Day 2669

I found out this morning that the guy who played lead guitar in my old band is dead. I was going to wish him Happy Birthday on Facebook and when I went to his page I discovered that he had passed away last September. I'm so out of touch these days that this isn't the first time this has happened. I'm kind of wary about wishing someone my age Happy Birthday now without checking to make sure they're alive first. I'm not sure about the etiquette of these things, but it seems disrespectful to send a Facebook greeting to a dead person. Although it's a little late now to pay my respects, I was really sorry to learn about my old friend. He was a good guy. The years I spent playing in a band with him were some of the best.

I cut myself again today and didn't even notice until hours later. This is the second time I've done this recently. I have a feeling that I'm scraping my arms on branches in the yard when I'm holding Dot up when I take her outside to pee. I have to really concentrate when I'm walking her around like a marionette. I used to be able to just walk behind Dot, holding up her rear end as she walked. Now, her front legs are starting to become weak as well, so I need to provide support for both the front and rear. It's kind of awkward and hard on the back, so I have to be careful that I don't trip. It's not really surprising at all that I don't notice when I've bumped into a tree.

Blueberries are back. There was a big supply today, but they had doubled in price. I wonder sometimes how stores keep a steady supply of seasonal items. These berries probably came from South America instead of California or Mexico. Somewhere there's a guy who's job it is to source berries from all over the world, so people like me can enjoy them in their smoothie all year long. I'm always impressed that things like this work so smoothly. Maybe I'm not as much of an isolationist as I think I am. I enjoy having access to fresh fruit all year long. I routinely buy coffee from Ethiopia and Sumatra. And I'm continually amazed that you can get good sushi in Dallas.

The indestructible pants I bought at REI last year are already falling apart. I'm disappointed, but Janet tells me that you're not supposed to wear the same pair of pants every day. The knees of these pants tore first, which isn't surprising since I spend half my day on my knees cleaning up poop, or trying to get Dot back in an upright position. If lifting weights is supposed to build muscle, I don't understand why I'm still having trouble with muscle atrophy. After two years of lifting a fifty pound dog, I should look like the incredible hulk by now. Sadly, my muscle mass hasn't increased at all and all I've done is tear up both shoulders.

It looks like we got a bumper crop of wildflowers this year. The fields and meadows around our house are in full bloom now. I'm seeing new varieties almost everyday. Some flowers only bloom for a few days and others stick around for months. Some bloom very early in the morning and disappear by midday. It's fascinating to watch this pageant of color unfold. I spotted some Lazy Daisies this morning. I wonder who names these things.

I'm going to have to be careful when I walk the dogs in the park tomorrow. Every year, hundreds of families have their Easter Egg hunts here. Nobody seems to hide real eggs anymore. They hide plastic eggs filled with candy and chocolate. The kids never seem to find all the eggs, but the dogs do.  Since chocolate is poisonous to dogs, I definitely don't want Dot and Dash to go snooping around in the grass for stuff the kids left behind. It's amazing how much litter appears every Easter. Nobody even tries to pick up their mess.

It's been a long day. Two rugs and a blanket got soiled, but it could have been a lot worse. Dot is tired now and so am I. Hopefully we'll get some decent sleep before we start all over again tomorrow.

Krissy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 14, 2017

Day 2668

Dot wouldn't settle down this morning, so I skipped going out to breakfast. I don't know what has changed, but she is more active now after we return from our morning walk. It's a good thing I stayed home, because she needed to go outside to pee twice while I was sitting in the kitchen eating my frozen toaster waffle. I walked her around half a dozen times before she finally settled down around 10 AM.

While I was waiting for Dot to go back to sleep, there was a knock on the door. The roofers had arrived. I wasn't expecting the roofers at all today. Truthfully, I wasn't even expecting them this month, so it was somewhat of a happy accident that I decided to stay home this morning. I went up on the roof with the crew to show them where the damaged areas were. There was still water on the roof, but the guys said they would blow it away with a leaf blower before they made their repairs. I would have picked a sunny day to come out, but beggars can't be choosers. I was glad they were here.

The repairs only took a couple of hours and then the roofers were gone again. I was a little worried that it would rain this afternoon before the patched areas had completely dried, but the skies cleared and the temperature got warmer as the day progressed. I think the patches will have plenty of time to cure properly and maybe I won't have to worry about leaks again for the rest of the Summer.

Dash has started throwing up again. This has happened periodically for years. I take him to the vet and they can never find anything wrong. They either tell me to give him a Pepcid, or if he vomits more than once they prescribe some Cerenia. Usually this takes care of the problem. I used to think that Dash had just eaten something bad in the park, but this has been going on so long that I now suspect that there is something else involved. Intermittent problems like this are very hard to diagnose. I'll talk to Dash's oncologist the next time we go in for a check up, but I think he just suggested taking a Pepcid too.

Since Dot has switched her nap time to the afternoon, I waited until she was asleep to go to the store and pick up something for dinner. On my way to Central Market I stopped by my doctor's office to ask why I was no longer receiving reminders to come in for lab work. I used to get lab work done every three months, but the nurse I talked to today told me that Medicare will now only cover once set of labs per year. Did I really ever need the extra blood tests when the doctor was able to bill them out? I'll never really know. Maybe once a year is enough, but I'd have a blood test every week if I could. Frequent tests allow you to chart the results and see if a change in diet or meds is making a difference. Once a year isn't really enough. An annual test will warn you if something really alarming is happening, but it doesn't let you monitor subtle changes. The neighborhood health food store used to offer low cost blood tests several times a year. The tests only cost $25 and I would always take advantage of them. It was really disappointing when one of the guys administering these tests unexpectedly died of a heart attack and the testing service was discontinued. The fact that these $25 tests went to the same lab as the $400 tests my own doctor gave me told me everything I needed to know about the health care system. As soon as insurance gets involved, things suddenly get very expensive.

The dogs are both quiet now. Nobody is pooping or throwing up. I hope it stays that way. Whenever Dot and Dash are having problems at the same time, I realize that one high maintenance dog is really all I can handle. I'm glad the roofers finally made good on their promise. That's one more thing I can cross off my list. Now, I just need to get the landscapers to come out and take care of the back yard.

Flash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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