Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Day 2715

Every time Dot has a good day, I expect the next day to be even better. It doesn't work that way though. The whole process seems completely random. When Dot is eating well, she seems like a normal dog with mobility problems. When she isn't eating, there is little I can do to interest her in food. When nothing works, I wait and try again later. It is not uncommon for Dot to refuse food and water until 4 PM and then eat an entire cup of kibble at 6 PM.

Today wasn't a great day. It was hot. There wasn't the additional stimulus of having plumbers around the house. Maybe Dot overexerted herself yesterday, because she didn't have much energy today. Our morning walk was shorter than usual and there was no evening walk at all. I always think there is a rational reason for everything, so it baffles me whenever a good day like yesterday is followed by a bad day like today. Was something out of sequence? Did I do something wrong? I really wish this journey was a little more predictable.

Dot finally ate a little when Janet came home from work, but there was no real enthusiasm. The only thing Dot really wanted to eat today was bacon. I like bacon as much as the next guy, but you can't live on the stuff. Dot ended up eating part of a steak sandwich that Janet brought home from work  and about half a cup of dry food that Dash used to eat. I'm beginning to think that Dot will eat anything she has never tried before. I'd totally forgotten that we still had the bag of food Dot decided to eat tonight. Dash has been off that particular diet for at least three months.

It seems almost impossible to get enough sleep. I don't finish the blog until almost midnight now. We always get up early so Janet can help with the dogs before she goes to work. In between, Dot usually gets me up several times during the night to go outside. That doesn't leave much time for shut eye. Napping during the day doesn't work very well either. When Dot is sleeping, Dash usually wants something, and when Dash is sleeping, Dot needs attention. Dot and Dash never seem to be on the same page anymore.

It's a blessing in a way that work is so slow. If I had a lot of deadlines, I don't know how I'd ever be able to do what I'm doing now. I still try to do a few work related things every day, even though it is largely pointless. Today I figured out how to restore the Favicon that had disappeared from the blog. It turned out that I'd added the Favicon years ago when Blogger didn't support such things. When Blogger added Favicon support, my custom code became invalid. I don't know why it took me two years to figure this out, but better later than never. I also downloaded several instruction manuals for equipment I used to use everyday. The original manuals are lost in the storage warehouse somewhere and the skill I once had operating this equipment seems to be lost as well. I can learn again. I like the fact that practically everything on my bookshelves is available in PDF form somewhere. It's much easier to do a search on Google than to acctually search for something in my office.

We've got one last chance to Dot to eat her quota of food today. It gets kind of dicey after 10 PM. On one hand, you want to make sure that Dot eats enough. On the other hand, if she eats too late at night, she'll throw up. We do the best we can, but we don't always succeed. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing back the other way tomorrow. Maybe I can find another plumbing problem that needs attention.

Amy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Day 2714

There were plumbers at the house today. The slow drains in the kitchen finally reached a point of no return and I had to do something about it. Plumbers and dogs aren't usually a good combination, but I was happy to have them over today. Dot hasn't paid much attention to strangers lately. She used to bark at the neighbors, people we encountered on our walks, and any and all service people. She's been pretty quiet lately, but somehow the sight of two plumbers in the house caused her protective instincts to kick into gear and she began her "stranger danger" bark. I haven't heard this bark in months.

The more Dot barked, the more she began to remember she was a dog again. I could tell she was enjoying herself. Maybe it was a jolt of adrenaline. Maybe it was some vivid old memories she managed to resurrect. I don't know. Something happened though. Protecting me from the plumbers stimulated her appetite and as soon as the plumbers left, she ate a full cup of her dry kibble. Later, she ate a grilled chicken breast while Janet was having dinner and then we took a nice walk. It was almost worth the $237 bill the plumbers left me with.

I thought snaking out the pipes would be an easy and inexpensive job. Unfortunately, nothing is easy at our house. It turned out that the problem wasn't in the main drain lines. The clog was in a hard to access line in the brick wall behind the kitchen sink. The plumbers has to remove the garbage disposal and several supply lines in order to reach the line they needed to clear. Everything works fine now, but the two plumbers were here almost three hours.

I wonder why there are always two plumbers now? One plumber used to be enough. The same thing happens with electricians and HVAC repairmen. There are always at least two people on any service call. I'm sure this is a big reason why most home repairs now cost twice as much. I wasn't going to quibble about the price though. I was delighted that the plumbers arrived so quickly. In a house where the washing machine is running constantly, I can't afford to have clogged drain lines.

I know there are people who think I'm not being realistic about Dot. They worry about her quality of life. I know life isn't what it used to be, but days like today make me realize that Dot still has the capacity to enjoy being the family dog. Yes, I know yesterday was a bad day, but that's how it goes. I saw this with my Dad as well toward the end. Things fade in and things fade out. You've got to give the memories a chance. There will be other bad days and sometime in the not too distant future, we will run out of time. All I know is that I'm not forcing Dot to stay with us. She wants to stay with us. At least for a while today, she was a very happy dog.

Ollie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, May 29, 2017

Day 2713 - Memorial Day

Last night I thought we were near the end. When I took Dot outside to pee one last time around midnight, she threw up and then almost immediately stumbled and fell to her side. I initially thought she might have had a stroke, but it was just a bad fall. I'll never know for sure, but I think it was our fault that she threw up. We were worried that she hadn't eaten enough yesterday, so we fed her some more of the Dogsure supplement just before bedtime. This was probably a mistake. Dot drank a fair amount of water after she took her evening pills. With the addition of the Dogsure, she probably had too much liquid in her stomach. What she threw up was mostly liquid anyway.

After this incident, Dot seemed weak, but slept peacefully for the rest of the night. It all seems so complicated. If Dot eats too little, she will starve. If she eats too much, or too late at night, she will throw up. Dot needs to stay hydrated, but she can't always drink from her water bowl normally. When she has trouble drinking, we will feed her water with a syringe. Sometimes this triggers a normal drinking response and she will go to her bowl afterwards and drink even more water. Too much water is probably better than too little water, but it would be nice to get this just right.

I'm always worried that Dot isn't eating enough. Today she eventually ate almost a cup of dry food, about six ounces of sliced turkey, half an Italian meatball, and two slices of bacon. No wonder she has an upset stomach at night sometimes. I'd probably have a stomach ache if I ate the same thing. Dot doesn't always eat the right things, but you really don't want to withhold food from a dog that isn't eating enough. If she's eating anything at all, it's a good thing.

Last night Dot seemed so weak that I though I might have to make the dreaded euthanasia appointment. Right now I feel that Dot has eaten enough today and am happy that she is resting calmly. Later this evening, who knows what I'll be thinking. The time between 11 PM and 2 AM is always the worst.

Since today was a holiday, I had time to run a few errands while Janet was at home with the dogs. I went to Home Depot and bought a heavier rope to hang rugs up to dry after I wash them. I used to throw these rugs in the dryer after we cleaned them, but the rubber backing really made a mess of things. I also went to the REI Memorial Day Sale. I didn't find anything I needed and walked away empty handed. Buying things is losing its allure. All I really want now is sleep.

I'm dreading giving Dot her evening pills. For the past three days everything has gone fine until about an hour after her evening meds. This is when she becomes restless and occasionally throws up. Dot takes exactly the same pills two other times during the day and there is no bad reaction at these times. I don't know what makes the evenings such a problem. We'll hope for the best tonight. Dot needs a good night's sleep and so do I.

Emmitt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day 2712

I've lost all sense of time. Dot was restless last night and I ended up walking her around and around in the back yard around 1 AM. I think she wanted a walk, but I'm not walking down the street with a crippled dog in the middle of the night in Dallas. Eventually Dot got tired and we all went to sleep. I don't know why she is always restless right around the time I want to go to bed. Dot is usually calm and peaceful after her first and second set of pills. After her third set of pills around 10 to 11 PM, she becomes active and restless. I don't think she is in pain. She is just restless for about two hours every night. Unfortunately those two hours are always after midnight.

I didn't bother going to the gym today. It was a gray, rainy day and I had plenty to keep me busy at home anyway. Getting Dot to eat has become an all day challenge. You can't force her to eat, so you have to take advantage of those brief moments when she is interested in food. I actually got her to eat something this morning which is a rarity these days. A little later in the day, I discovered that she wanted to eat my leftover bacon from breakfast. I hand fed her little pieces of bacon and since my hands smelled like bacon, I was able to put other food in my hands and she'd eat that too. Eventually, Dot ended up eating almost a full cup of dry kibble in between bites of bacon. In hope that this trick might work again tomorrow, we cooked up some more bacon so it would be ready if we needed it again.

I changed the sheets on the bed and washed a few rugs that got peed on today. My fitness tracker refused to sync with my phone this morning, so I looked for a solution on Google. As usual, there were other people who were having exactly the same problem and it only took about five minutes to find a fix. Since that reset went relatively smoothly, I decided to go ahead and update the system on my phone ad iPad. I also unclogged the large format printer for the first time in weeks. Electronic housekeeping seems to take more time than real housekeeping these days. There's always something that needs to be updated or fixed. Meanwhile in the real world, I still need to vacuum.

It was so humid today that I've already had to empty the dehumidifier bucket twice. I don't know how we lived so long without the dehumidifier. It's ugly and a bit noisy, but we don't have much of a problem with mold and mildew anymore. Now I need to find a solution for slow drains. It might be time to call Roto-Rooter again. All our drains seem slow.

I have a feeling that the house will remain a disaster as long as I'm dealing with Dot. It takes an enormous amount of time to make sure she's comfortable, is still getting a little bit of exercise, and is eating enough to keep from starving. I genuinely think this is what Dot wants, but I can't read a dog's mind. Although Dot is very weak and has a ton of serious problems, she certainly seems to want to stay with us for a while longer. 

Tomorrow is a holiday. It's a luxury to be able to sleep in two mornings in a row. The downside of this extra sleep is that Dot pees in her bed. We were prepared though. This morning, I removed the wet puppy training pad, cleaned her up a bit, and placed a fresh pad under her butt without even waking her up. Then I went back to bed.

Sam is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Day 2711

Dot has forgotten a lot, but she hasn't forgotten birthdays. We celebrated Dash's twelfth birthday this evening and Dot ate her birthday cupcake like a champ. I was surprised, since the Sprinkles doggie cupcake was larger than the things she can normally chew. Motivation is everything, I guess. Dot has always loved cake.

I wish she was equally motivated to eat her dinner. I couldn't get Dot to eat dry food at all today. So far, her somewhat eclectic menu has included three thin slices of turkey breast, a piece of cheddar cheese, and two crackers. This isn't enough.

At least Dot has been calm and peaceful today. There has been none of the anxiety we saw last night. We'll never really know what caused yesterday's problems, but I think she might have gotten a pill caught in her throat. Dot wasn't eating food when she took her evening pills, so she might not have swallowed them completely. When we took her outside and squirted some water down her throat with a syringe, the anxiety seemed to go away and we were all able to go to sleep.

The weather has been hot and humid all day. It's starting to feel like Summer. I'm dreading the warmer weather. Dot can't handle the heat and I can't handle the bugs. I've already started seeing an increase in the number of bugs hanging out on the back porch. Since I am unable to close the back door when I take Dot outside, many of these bugs get inside. Nighttime is the worst, since a lot of the flying insects are attracted to light. I keep several strategically placed flyswatters around the house now. I still think the bugs are winning though.

I wish there was some sort of breakthrough I could report. I know it's not going to happen. We will continue taking things one day at a time. There will be good days and bad days and then there will just be little good moments within the bad days. I have a feeling that Janet will be the one who decides when it is time. I'm not really good at evaluating quality of life. I've experienced little good moments within bad days for so long now that it just seems normal to me. I hope I am not fooling myself about Dot. I really think she enjoyed Dash's birthday party tonight. I could tell that she remembered all the other birthday celebrations and at least for a little while, she was happy. That's worth an extra day in my opinion.

Libby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Day 2710

This is a weird way to live. I usually wake up tired and disoriented. Usually, I've been up several times during the night with Dot and no matter what time it is, it always seems too early. Often, Janet has already walked Dash, because she needs to get to work. Neither of us wants to wake Dot while she is calm and resting.

Lately, Janet has already left for work by the time I get Dot up for her morning pills. She has no interest in food, but often wants a walk after she is fully awake. If she won't drink water, I take her outside and hydrate her with water from a large syringe before we go anywhere. Sometimes this initial drink of water will kick start her drinking response. Other times, she just looks at her water bowl like she doesn't know what it is.

Mornings are stressful. I don't want Dot to have a dry mouth while she takes her pills, so I've been taking her outside and feeding her some of the Dogsure liquid as I put each pill down her throat. This takes a long time. If this process takes too long, Dash starts barking and often destroys the calm environment I need to feed Dot. I try my best to get Dot to eat while Dash is sleeping, but he's got a keen sense of smell and always seems to know when there are tasty treats nearby. This is not what I want. Dash is getting fat and Dot keeps getting thinner.

For most of this week I haven't had much luck getting Dot to eat in the morning. I gave up again today and fixed my own breakfast after taking Dot back to her bed. I have to make sure all the food is put away before letting Dash out of the bedroom because he is on a special diet. Everything takes so long that it is usually around noon before I have finished my breakfast and put away all the dishes.

Every day I worry that Dot has finally run out of time. It doesn't seem right for a dog to refuse food during the day and only eat after sunset. Dot was still sleeping and hadn't eaten anything when Janet returned from work around 7 PM. I took Dash for a walk and was surprised to discover that Janet was able to hand feed Dot an entire cup of dry food while I was gone. She subsequently drank a lot of water and then proceeded to eat some more dry food from her bowl.

Once again, Dot had eaten enough to survive. In one brief spurt, she had managed to consume her entire two cup daily quota. This would be the last time Dot ate for the rest of the day. When it was time for her evening pills, she had already lost her appetite.

I didn't accomplish much today. I miss going out to the restaurant on Fridays, but my homemade pancakes and sausages were delicious. I picked up the prescription I forgot yesterday and got food for the weekend at Central Market. That was it. The dogs are wearing me out. At times it's really hard to know whether we're doing the right thing. We had some good moments today, but Dot is agitated now and seems uncomfortable. Maybe we waited too long.

Chief is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Day 2709

Today was just like yesterday. Dot wouldn't eat any breakfast and wasn't interested in food when she took her morning and afternoon pills. I used a syringe to feed her some of the Dogsure liquid supplement in the morning, but she didn't start eating on her own until almost 6 PM. She ate half a cup of her kibble, but not nearly enough for the day. I'm counting on her appetite returning one more time before we all go to bed.

I've discovered that Dot will only eat things that she is able to chew. If she tries to chew something and it falls out of her mouth, she won't touch it again. Unfortunately, this rules out a lot of tasty options. She really wanted to eat the flank steak today but it kept falling out of her mouth. I tried different sized pieces, but nothing worked. I think the reason she still prefers the dry kibble that has been her regular diet for years is that she can still chew the tiny pieces.

I've become obsessed with feeding Dot. I've got it in my head that if I fail, she will die. I know that Dot is very old and has lived long past her expiration date already, but that doesn't matter. I can tell she wants to keep going. Eating is one of life's fundamental pleasures. Dot has always loved to eat. I just wish I could find a more effective way to help her. My Dad enjoyed eating too. When Parkinson's Disease took away his ability to swallow, his doctors decided to use a feeding tube. The feeding tube was supposed to be temporary, but of course it wasn't. I think the doctors knew that it was never coming out. Looking back, I realize that Dad started to lose his will to live when that feeding tube was inserted. He would have rather have died choking on a juicy steak than have a nurse pump some tasteless goo into his stomach through a feeding tube every morning.

So how do I make Dot's last days pleasurable? She still gets her walks. We've taken care of the pain as well as we can. Eating is more complex. Dot definitely wants to eat. Unfortunately, the signals just aren't traveling reliably from her brain to her mouth. I'm really starting to believe that Dot does have some canine form of Alzheimer's Disease. Nothing else effectively explains what I am observing everyday.

I took a little nap while the dogs were sleeping this afternoon. When I woke up I realized that I should have gone to the pharmacy and picked up a prescription I'd run out of. Oh, well. I guess it won't kill me to skip a day. Even though life is very basic now, it is still hard to get everything done. I finally did climb up on the roof today and cleared away the standing water from our recent rain. I noticed a few new areas that need to be patched. I'll make another call to the roofer and maybe he'll be back out to the house by the Fourth of July.

I've started eating the food that Dot has rejected. I ate the salmon tonight for dinner. Maybe I'll eat the rest of the flank steak tomorrow. Dot's appetite finally did return about 10 PM when she decided that she wanted to eat Dash's food. Works for me. I have no idea what Dot will decide to eat tomorrow, but I do know that I'm going to have pancakes. Maybe she likes pancakes.

Ranger is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Day 2708

Each day is different. Sometimes Dot wakes up at 6 AM and is ready for a walk. Other times she doesn't kick into gear until after dinnertime. I can never figure out what to feed her. None of the things she ate yesterday interested her today. I couldn't get her to eat anything at all this morning. Dot wasn't even drinking water. This was alarming enough that I took her outside after making sure she'd taken her morning pills and fed her water through a syringe.

Things didn't improve when it was time to take her afternoon pills. Basically, I had to put each pill down her throat without any food, because she wasn't eating anything. The only thing I got her to eat was a small piece of banana bread. Certain smells trigger food memories and others don't. If Dot spits something out after chewing it for a while, she won't touch it again. It's almost as if the saliva from her mouth spoils the taste for her. We waste a lot of food this way.

I was thinking that Dot would have to survive on the Dogsure liquid supplement today when Janet came home from work with a new bag of sliced turkey breast. I think Janet planned on eating the turkey herself, but when she offered a piece to Dot, she snapped it up. Somehow the smell of this turkey jump started her brain and she started eating again. She ate most of the turkey in the bag and then proceeded to drink a lot of water. It was already 7 PM at this point. Once again Dot had come back from the brink.

Her legs seemed weaker than usual today, so we used the wheelchair for our evening walk. Some of our neighbors stopped us along the way and wanted to pet Dot. Everybody in the neighborhood knows Dot, but many people don't realize how fragile and weak she is until they see her in the chair. I've gotten so good at walking Dot using the Help 'Em Up Harness that it often looks like she is walking normally. Trust me, she isn't. On our way home this evening we were joined by a mom pushing her disabled son down the street in a wheelchair. We didn't say much, but I could tell by the way she looked at Dot that she understood what we were going through. Dealing with disability is difficult. I have tremendous admiration for parents who have to deal with a severely disabled child. I don't know where they get the strength.

When we returned from our short walk, Dot went to her bowl and ate some kibble. I felt relieved. We were good to go for another day. I wish each day wasn't a cliffhanger. Realistically, Dot can't go more than two days without eating food. There are many mornings when I think we have reached the end, but somehow Dot's always manages to rebound. I have to remember that a good day today isn't quite as good as a good day last month. We have been slowly sliding downhill for a long time.

Janet went back to the store and got some more sliced turkey breast in case she still has a taste for it tomorrow. Dot doesn't like salmon anymore, so I guess that's what I'll be having for dinner soon. Our refrigerator is rapidly filling up with things that Dot ate once but won't eat a second time.

We'll see how tomorrow goes. Since we got such a late start today, I have a feeling that I'll be taking Dot outside to pee in the middle of the night again.

Ziggy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Day 2707

Today was discouraging. Dot ate, but not nearly as well as she did yesterday. When we went to the cancer center we didn't even do the regular battery of cancer tests. Dot's oncologist agreed with us that cancer wasn't Dot's biggest problem now. It is her ability to keep eating that will determine how long she is able to stay with us.

The oncologist was very kind. She spent a lot of time talking with us about end of life issues and helped us understand the critical things we need to be looking at before we make a final decision. You'd think pain would be the most important issue, but Dot's pain medication is so effective that Dot is not in pain. The oncologist said that you have to be careful not to get over confident with a dog that is taking Dot's medications. The powerful meds could be masking some serious conditions that would otherwise be evident. We need to keep an eye on Dot's anemia. It is getting worse, but it is not critical. We need to make sure Dot is well hydrated. Even though she is drinking water, she might not be getting enough.

The doctors and nurses at the cancer center have been watching Dot's decline for at least a year now. Dot's oncologist thinks now that she has a form of canine Alzheimer's disease, along with her many other ailments. Alzheimer's would explain a lot. A lot of times Dot seems to forget the most basic things, including how to eat. Not all vets agree that dogs can get Alzheimer's disease, but many think they can. In fact, some researchers are studying dogs with cognitive problems to help understand how Alzheimer's works in humans.

The trip to the cancer center made Dot very tired, so we weren't planning on taking a walk today. I took a short nap right after dinner and much to my surprise Janet told me that she and Dot walked to the park and back while I was asleep. Dot is definitely determined. She didn't eat enough today, but at least she tried. We were able to add canned tuna and flank steak to the short list of things she likes this week. I hope she still likes the tuna tomorrow. It's actually pretty good for her. We now try to feed her some of the Dogsure liquid supplement using a syringe every day to help insure that she is still getting enough nutrition with her constantly changing diet.

I may have lost one of my last remaining clients. I learned that the company owner is planning to use one of his sons to do his marketing now. This has happened to me before. I think everybody's kid has gone into marketing. That's what they all seem to do these days. Sometimes I get hired back however when the parents discover that their kids aren't quite as sharp as they thought they were. We'll see what happens. I'm kind of at the stage where I don't really care.

The audio gear I ordered last week arrived this afternoon and I didn't even open the box. That's what kind of day it's been. I'm totally focused on Dot now. If she still wants to keep on going for a few more weeks, I'm going to try to make it happen for her.

Willie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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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
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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
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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
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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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