Halloween was always Pugsley's favorite time of year. He loved dressing up in costumes and entertaining the neighborhood children Trick or Treaters.
My all time favorite Pugsley costume was his Freddie Mercury, circa 1994. <3
I pulled out an old sweater from the closet today and was delighted to find Pugsley hairs gently woven into the fabric from the wear of life and of time.
It made me feel good all over, like he is still here with me watching over everything that transpires and inspires.
I Love when that happens.
It was a whole year since I moved into my new house before I went back to the old house to dig up all of my special plants so I could transplant them to the pug farm gardens.
I was most concerned about losing Pugsley's magic yellow rose bush. It was the first one I planted in my new garden and I was a little worried about how it would survive after a year of neglect and new soil. It was springtime when I planted it and I wasn't even sure I had gotten all the right roots because it was so dormant and tiny and frail.
Then, sometime in May, Angelo's daddy had bought me an Easter lily and planted it for me when I wasn't around. He also wanted to surprise me by weeding the garden.
It wasn't until a couple of weeks later I was walking by looking at where he put the new plants that I realized he had unknowingly pulled out the almost non existent rose bush, thinking it was a weed.
When I realized what had happened I called in a panic and asked him to retrace all of his steps; where he pulled up the weeds that day, weeks earlier and more important, where he had discarded them...
Turns out he threw a huge pile of weeds in my wheelbarrow and carted them out deep into the woods over the fence behind my 3 acres of property. Luckily he happened to remember seeing an old deer skull near the pile of weeds where he had dumped them.
That evening at dusk, I ventured off into the woods in search of the white tattered deer skull and by chance or by sheer persistence... I was able to locate it.
Lying just a few feet away from the white skull was a pile of shriveled up, dried, and by all accounts seemingly dead weeds. They were mostly all brown, no green remained.
Despite the ticks crawling on my bare legs, the poison ivy that I had to sift through, and the bed of worms and compost I navigated around with my bare hands - I sorted and separated each individual twig and branch, anything that resembled what I thought may have been a remnant of an unrecognizable rose bush.
It took hours and then days. I had to go back to the same spot a second time because I couldn't find it at first. This time I brought him with me. I shuttered to think of what it would it do to the future of our relationship if my magic rose bush perished at his hands. Surely it would be cursed, doomed forever.
I think he sensed it to and became just as determined as me. So we pressed on until near dark one night..and then finally after a long process of elimination and the different types of dead stalks and branches that we knew it could not have been, we were left with one tiny brown stray root that to anyone else may have looked like a twig with a few white sprigs at the bottom.
But there was something about the curve at the tip of the brown stalk that reminded me of the miracle rose bush branch which ran through the "body" of the pug ice sculpture formation that magically appeared that Christmas Eve night in 2008.
And though there was a doubt in my mind and I knew it was a long shot that this was even it, and even a longer shot that after all of this if it was by some miracle "it" - would the plant be able to come back from the dead?
I took the sad but curious battered branch back to my garden and planted it with a lot of love and care. I went as far as saying a little prayer and placing a few strands of Pugsley's fur that I had saved in the soil near the root ball.
For months since then I walked by my garden every night and looked at the tiny brown stray stem, just barely poking up from the ground and with each day that passed and I didn't see it turning green or showing any signs of life....I got kind of worried but still held onto the hope that that was it, and somehow it would live.
It may sound silly to the lot of you but that rose bush meant more to me than almost anything in the world. It was one of my most prized possessions, it was magic, and proof, it was a miracle, and I wasn't going to lose it without a fight.
As early as last week the brown limp stem looked dead and I kept having to prop it up, positioning the soil around it gingerly just to keep it from toppling over.
I went out of town for the last few days - a retreat to the ocean to take my mind off of the anniversary of losing my best friend. And then came the heavy rains - and when I did finally return home I was in too much of a hurry to get into the house dry, to even glance over at the garden on my way by.
But tonight when I walked up the footpath to my back door, I happened to glance down at the garden, at the spot in between Pugsley's pawprint memorial stone and my rusty pug crossing sign - lo and behold, there it was! And it almost brought tears to my eyes....again.
Against all odds, it survived.
Not only did it survive, but on the 3 year anniversary of Pugsley's passing, it bloomed.
A hearty, leafy green stalk with a perfect yellow rose sprouted up alongside the still remaining brown curly stem.
And just like that, all is right with the world again.
Everyday, we make hundreds of decisions, that's the beauty of this country.
What to wear, what to drive, where to live, what to eat, who we spend our time with, what store to shop at...etc. etc.
And without ever knowing it, even the smallest choice we make on any given day, can set the course of our lives on a completely different path.
In September 1994 I made an impetuous decision to take home this 6 pound little bundle of pug love without really knowing anything of the breed or what I was getting into.
Little did I realize that what followed would be the greatest love story of my life.
Today is 3 years since my sweet Pugsley had to leave me. Still not a day goes by that I don't think about him and pine for him. That will never change. And I wouldn't want it to.
But instead of being sad this year, I decided to be THANKFUL.
There is an old saying that was one I repeated to myself over and over like a mantra after he passed and in a simple way, it really helped me through the grief process.
It went something like, "Do not cry because he is gone, smile because he was here."
So I've learned to do just that over the years.
I can honestly say everything good that I have in my life right now is a direct result of him. Of that fateful decision I made 17 years ago which changed everything.
And though he isn't physically here, his spirit is, and it's stronger than ever.
Dedicated to Pugsley aka Sausage, the Pug of Pugs....with much love and respect.
Gone but never forgotten.
I've been thinking about Plummy a lot lately.
I mean I think about her and my other deceased pugs (Pugsley and Norman) everyday anyway, but Plummy I've been ruminating about more than usual.
I am just now able to look back at some of her pictures without getting too sad and I remembered this one taken on an unusually balmy November afternoon when she was nearing the end and the Dr.'s actually told me I should put her down.
So I took her out to some of my favorite nature spots and we just had quiet time to think and "be"....it was right after our nature outing that she turned a corner and rallied to stay with me. I think she realized that I wasn't quite ready to let her go...and she wasn't ready to leave me either.
After that outing she miraculously began eating on her own again and seemed very peaceful and spry. She stayed strong for 2 more months after this (right up until the end) and it was the most beautiful, calm, compassionate, and loving 2 months I believe of her life, and probably of my life too.
Looking back at this photo now with a different perspective it reminds me of the blog header I had conceived of years before, after Pugsley passed and I imagined him somewhere in another universe wandering around looking for me, and while I was glad he was free from the cancer and the pain... and I had raised him up in mind and heart, walking on water even...it always made me a little sad to think of him lost and alone. Maybe because that's how I was feeling without him and as his mama, I wanted to protect him and didn't want him to ever feel that kind of ache.
But now I look at the two pictures side by side and I can see what was really going on that day; I was preparing Plummy for her next journey and I think I may have even told her that she needed to go be with her pug brother and keep him company for a while, until we could all be together again one day.
It's funny, I can see so clearly now that my mind and my heart had unknowingly created this scenerio and the universe and everything in it here and in the hereafter, followed my lead.
I can see it now in the reflection of the water and the reflection of our hearts, something about the rueful colors of the November sky, the time of day, and the uneven hills rolling up behind.. Just her and I, communicating with no words but feeling exactly in our souls what was in that moment and what was to be, beyond.... It is simply too divine to not be true.
And then I knew from somewhere deep inside that no matter what, none of us would ever really be alone.
And nothing could ever come between our bond, not even death.
It fills me with a great sense of peace, and knowing, and pride.
My sweet Sausage would have been 17 years old today! There isn't a day that goes by that I still don't think about him and miss him and pine for him, look for his image in the clouds, a 4 leaf clover in the grass, his magical rose bush in my garden, long to be reunited with him again someday on some other plane where there are no such thing as goodbyes.. He is the reason for so many good things that have come to me in my life. I truly carry him in my heart, always.
I dedicate this song to him.
I finally dreamt about Pugsley last night, yay!! That never happens.
I was walking him around the house in my arms holding his chubby sausage body close to my chest and clutching my hand around his right arm which he always had extended out. And I was kissing the sides of his silky cheeks. Heaven.
This was after some dognappers at my ex bf's house had absconded him and took him out for pizza without my permission. When he got back I was so worried about what they had exposed him to, but he seemed fine.
The best part was just holding him in my arms once again.
It was very real and I didn't want to wake up.
My nugget. RIP. ♥
I thought of you today, but that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.
I think of you in silence, I often speak your name.
All I have are memories, and pictures in a frame.
If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane,
I would walk right up to Heaven and bring you back again.
Sounds of laughter shades of earth
Are ringing through my open mind
Inciting and Inviting me
Limitless undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe
The Sausage Circa 1994
My all time favorite costume was his very first one 15 years ago when I dressed him up as Freddie Mercury in a leather biker outfit.
I am sure he's wearing a dashing costume somewhere up at that great big gig in the sky!
Ode to the Sausage on Halloween!
Memories become sunsets in every dog barking on the side streets of America.
Memories are where we lay them, in the tracks of our mind.
Oh, you know how I love.
You know how I love.
It could be no more temporary than stars in the sky
One night this past winter I was feeling kind of lost, wondering exactly what it would take to make me happy again:
a new job, a new dog, a new relationship, one more night with an old friend?
I stood outside gazing up at the sky, imagining each star was a long lost friend from my past.
The kind of friends you'd stay up with all night, falling deep into talk as if no time had elapsed.
As I counseled each star, I wondered what they would do if they were me:
Move to a new town and start over, finally settle down and raise a family?
Take care of others instead of themselves,
go out every night and get wasted to make it dissolve?
Hit the gym, let it go,
play guitar, ski in the snow.
start their own business, fall in love, become newly arisen,
pretend everything is alright, even if it isn't.
But one star shone brighter than all the rest
And I asked this one who knew me best
Just then off in the distance I heard a dog barking intently, sounding eerily similar to his voice
His barking was persistent, it echoed with choice
I stood there listening; sure he was trying to give me a sign.
And then the stars gave way to sunrise
And the sunrise turned into sunset, and the sun sank into the moon
And suddenly I understood it was the same way with old friends who left too soon
The stars would always be there to guide us like memories of distant friends who had to part,
Who we no longer carry in our arms, but forever in our hearts.
I still feel him in my heart; if it's possible, even more
I swear it beats differently now than it did before.
I still see him in the pucker of her smile and another dog's eyes
a run on the grass, a walk down the street, a familiar car ride.
Hot breath panting, places that were ours,
full moons, campfires, coming home and of course, the stars.
Driving down roads we used to travel,
That corner of the couch he would always unravel.
Snuggling in our silly little nest of smells; him, curled up behind by knees.
snorted sighs that cued me to sleep,
Movies we'd watch, sentences I write,
rescue dogs I help, poor old seniors in their winter of life.
Visions of him merrily rolling on his back
on billowy down comforters and in the thick green grass,
Pink belly fur writhing back and forth to scratch an itch,
my hand always obliging with a generous scritch.
His silky head and velvety ears,
corn chip paws, discerning tail, and regal airs,
His facial expressions and extra skin rolls spilling over,
his uneven gait trotting horse like through fields full of clover.
His gray muzzled smirks, nervous yawns, and contented stretches,
our playtime of tricks and treats, chases, and fetches.
His unique personality, the way he'd make demands
And our own muted language I'd come to understand.
He still exists everywhere despite the absence of breath
in the miracle of life and the finality of death.
One year later, one year today,
But the missing never really goes away
It took me a while but I found a picture of Pugsley standing in a similar pose as the ice sculpture that appeared in my garden on Christmas Eve, so I could compare them side by side.
The picture on the left was taken about 2 weeks before he crossed over to the other side.....Wow. I am still blown away by this...and feeling totally blessed.
Of all the things I love about Pugsley I think the thing I miss the most is kissing him on that soft spot of his cheek, on the side of his face, just below his floppy ear where the sweet fragrance of pug smell was at its strongest.
What I wouldn't give to be able to nuzzle him there and take a deep breath in, just one more time..
It's been 5 months and I still think about him and miss him everyday. I know now that it will never go away. It is something I'll carry with me forever.
Here he is around this time last year, playing with his little toy PUgg boot. Boy do I miss him.
Have I got a Christmas story for you today. So miraculous, you might not even believe but I've captured the proof on camera and video.
You can call me crazy for this one. It won't be the first time and I know it won't be the last. But it's just too wild and random to keep to myself... and as you must realize by now it is not my primary concern what the general population's viewpoints are on my sanity, or I wouldn't have been blogging my crazy tales for the last 5 years.
Let me further preface by stating that I am not really nuts. The people who have known me for years know that these freakish oddities only happen to me. Or maybe they know that I am oddly freakish enough to see these things that others might not be able to see.
And by the way, that is why they love me. It's all part of my charm.
Now before I get into it -- Know this: I swear to you I did not in anyway, shape or form have anything to do with the divine creation I am about to share with you. It just magically appeared like a crystal apparition on a cold December night...on Festivus no less.
So I am walking up my walkway at dusk and I notice in my garden standing directly to the right side of my pug crossing sign.... there is an ice sculpture that has naturally formed in the shape of (this is where you think I'm nuts) a pug!
I mean it doesn't look EXACTLY like a pug but you cannot deny that it has what looks like a pug dog's head, back, four legs, and a tail that actually curls! Click on the picture to view the close up details and you'll see what I mean.
The bizarre ice formation even stands the same height as Pugsley stood at the withers..... and the fact that it formed right next to my pug crossing statue.....staring directly at it, is kind of a big freaky coincidence. Wouldn't you say?
Now -- if the random act of a pug shaped ice sculpture spontaneously forming overnight in my garden isn't weird enough, let me tell you the rest of what makes this story so incredible.
If you look closely, you can see the formation was created by the ice freezing over my only yellow rose bush. It's weird the way the thorn branch runs through the "body" of the formation, like a spinal cord or central line supporting the entire structure and ending in a tail that curls upward.
But even weirder is the fact that it has formed in the garden where the Sausage and I planted the yellow rose bush together, I remember the day. In fact I even have a picture of us in the very spot where the ice formation now stands. These were our most happy times.
Do you have the chills yet? Cause I do....
To further elaborate on this odd tale let me tell you what makes it even more poignant: I remember finding it really odd last month that one yellow rose from the bush which hadn't bloomed all summer, was suddenly large and in full bloom on Thanksgiving.
If you look closely at the picture above -- where it looks like green eyes in the ice, those are actually rose bush leaves that are still alive in late December. And if you look at the glob of formation on top of the head (which I'm seeing as angel's halo btw) you can actually see new rose buds encased in the ice. Very odd deciduous behavior for a perennial in the Northeast. These should be dormant by now, not sprouting new rose buds. It's 18 degrees here in the daytime and below 0 at night!
And you know what? It doesn't even end there...
I can't finish the story without telling you the kicker of all kickers. Yellow roses were one of the Sausages favorite flowers. Believe it or not, he was a dog that liked to smell flowers, I kid you not. Every week I would do my grocery shopping and bring him home a bouquet of fresh flowers just because he liked to walk by the vase, stop, and take a few moments out to smell them. Haha, I used to laugh about it and call him Ferdinand the Bull. And on his last birthday this summer, I bought him what else....a dozen yellow roses. They were the last flowers I got him.
I know the story is getting unbelievable but I can totally prove it. Click the Youtube video here and watch the first 25 seconds. He is smelling his yellow birthday roses:
Update: Christmas eve morning - I went outside this morning to look at the ice sculpture again and see how the form has changed because it's raining here and the temps are warming. I wanted to see it again before it melts. I took a picture at a different angle this time, directly at what looks like his head. I almost started crying because now I can see his face....I see eyes, ears, a muzzle, and the green leaf in the center of the figure's face is his pug nose with the line running down to his mouth. From this angle, I can see his legs and tail curled up behind him.
Can you see it?
Remember this figure is absolutely 100% untouched by me. I did not go out to my garden and make a pug snowman or manipulate it into anything. It's a totally natural occurance.
Most spooky of all it's not just the leaves anymore, I can actually see his right eyeball and ear on the side of his head. It's ghostly but clear as day. This is what the formation looks like right now. It's him...I can see him in there.
Now the way I see it, there are one of three possiblities to explain the strange phenomenon:
1.) I have finally lost it.
2.) Edward Scissorhands has been hanging out in my garden late, late at night creating random dog ice sculptures just to mess with me.
3.) It's a sign from the Sausage letting me know that he is still around and though in a different form, he's still very much a part of my life; on Christmas day and everyday.
I choose to believe the latter.
4 months today, can't believe how much I still miss my Sausage.
Actually, yes I can :(
It's 3 months today since he's been gone
When he left, I looked up at the clock and the time was 11:11
Today hurts more for some reason
I still eat. I still love. I still pray.
I still laugh out loud, party with friends, romp with other dogs and play with fluffy kittens.
I still cry.
I am still being gentle with myself
I give what I can and take little in return
And yes Life goes on, but not the same.
I miss my dog
I don't want a new one
I want him
And sometimes I just wish someone would hold me
Especially late at night when it's harder to forget that he isn't there
The truth is that I am still heartbroken and sick to my stomach about it.
I am angry that I still have not dreamt of him. Not one dream in 3 months. Why?
Angry that I am filled with disturbing dreams instead, nightmares of things that have nothing to do with this sweet loss or the memories I want to explore. It's not fair.
I long to see him again in my mind where it's vivid and real, where I can look at his sweet face and sausage body, where I can touch and feel and listen to his ET noises. Where we can be together again, even if it's only in dream land.
I am still writing about it because it still hurts and I need to get it out, I don't believe in holding things inside. It's not healthy. Just because I'm showing my pain doesn't mean I'm falling apart. It doesn't mean I should run out and get a new dog. It doesn't mean that I should be over it by now. It really doesn't mean anything other than what it is; the expression of a feeling in a moment of time.
Like a great man once said: People think that pain is something to be ashamed of, like it makes them somehow weaker to show. I believe pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain, but they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a designer handbag or a BlackBerry.
We feel our strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how we carry it. How we act on it. The confronting of it that forces us to grow. We should stand up for our right to feel our pain, not have to defend it.
People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. But how can they begin to deal with Love if they're afraid to feel?
It's not about being deep, it's about being honest and getting real.
Some things will never change
I still cry when King Kong dies, and Old Yeller, and ET
Then I cry happy tears when he wakes up and phones home.
And then I cry some more when he says goodbye to Elliot and heads off to his space ship at the end.
But I've been doing that since I was 10
Only now it means more.
I've been working on installing a new version of my photoblog so I'm going through all of my old photos and I came across this picture. Awww. It's one of my favorite Halloween photos of the Sausage, playing with a pumpkin twice his size :) He was spunky like that.
And, because I keep hearing it on the radio..... and it always makes me think of him -- I am dedicating this song to the Sausage today:
and happier Halloweens.
A friendly reader sent this to me. It's the 5 stages of the grieving process when a loved one dies. I am glad he sent it, just reading this makes me feel more normal. I assume the process is the same regardless of whether the loss was that of a human or a pet. I think it's all relative to how much your heart was attached to the departed.
Based on this I am currently hovering somewhere between the anger and reflection phase.
A lot of folks have written to me about their losses and my heart goes out to them. I am posting this to benefit others who are struggling to get to the other side as well.
5 Stages of Grief
1. SHOCK & DENIAL
You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
2. PAIN & GUILT
As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.
You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
3. ANGER & BARGAINING
Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.
You may experience volatile reactions -- whenever one's identity and social order face the possibility of destruction, there is a natural tendency to feel angry, frustrated, helpless, and/or hurt. The volatile reactions of terror, hatred, resentment, and jealousy are often experienced as emotional manifestations of these feelings.
4. DESPAIR, REFLECTION, LONELINESS
Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.
During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
5. REORGANIZATION, ACCEPTANCE
As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.
The stages are prefaced with the affirmation that it is healthier to accept these stages and recognize them for what they are rather than to fight them off or to ignore them.
I guess that makes me feel better. As does having a place to vent about it all and friendly ears to listen. Thanks everyone.
I remember the first night I brought him home. He'd never slept in a bed before let alone with humans. He scurried around hyper and overly satiated panting hot puppy breath that reeked like an odd combination of mother's milk and a hint of skunk.
He circled the bed looking for a spot to stake his claim. He rounded the whole of the bed 20 times before he finally found a position that suited him, on my pillow. He circled three more times and plopped himself down on my head. Then he let out a big sigh and a kick....I sighed back and we no sooner drifted off into a gentle slumber.
This became our ritual night after night. Year after year. Sleep after sleep. One of us would be restless waiting for sleep to come until one would let out a sigh, like a cue or hypnosis. Then the other would sigh. And sleep. It never failed.
In the bedroom, he always ended up somewhere different than where he started. If he started out on the bed he would make his way to the floor or to the dog bed that lay to my right. If he started on the floor, he'd make his way back to the bed. I never knew why. If he started out at the foot of the bed at night, by early morning he'd use his head like a bull to burrow under the sheets and get closer. Sometimes we'd sleep back to back, our breath rising and falling in unison. Sometimes he'd let me fall asleep cupping his belly or holding his paw in my hand. Always my nose would rest close to his head where I could breathe in the sweet smell of waxy pug ear, which I found to be the most intoxicating fragrance in the world.
And as perfect as our silly little world together was, deep down I always knew that the only problem with loving something so much was how much more it was going to hurt one day when we had to say goodbye.
I don't know what you can call it what I've been feeling lately other than just that. Sadness of course. Missing, to be expected. Pining for the Sausage, probably will be for the rest of my life. Feeling certain that he took a big part of me with him when he went.
The only thing I can compare it to is that moment in the morning when the alarm goes off and you're startled into two different worlds for a few seconds. Your body is part of the waking world but your mind is still dangling in the space of half subconscious. Rarely do these do ever get to intersect. But lately I feel like I've been lingering in that place....only my alarm never goes off and the intersection of worlds is lasting for weeks instead of seconds.
It's a place where sleep is replaced with the tracing out of ironic metaphors where I stop long enough to wonder what it would be like to not feel as though there was nothing more I still needed to say. I want to know why it is that the closest we feel to someone is in the moment when we realize it's over and we're saying our goodbyes. Saying all the things we never said.
I want to not feel anything for a while. I want to force myself to feel everything so that eventually I will feel nothing at all. I want my finger tips to be raw from eating too much edamame. I want to not miss the way Pugsley used to herd me to the bed. I want sleep to return to me. I want to not be out of work in this shitty economy. I want my hair blown out at the salon so it feels silky and smooth when I run my fingers through it. I want a pedicure with a hot stone massage. I want to lotion my feet and layer on warm socks fresh from the dryer. I want to not be sad about all the things we never got the chance to do together. I want to cut the bread crusts off all of my sandwiches and only eat the middles. I want everyone to stop growing old. I want to stay in sweats and watch Little House on the Prairie all day long.
It's a place a lot emptier now than it was before. A place where it's finally okay to exhale and not have to be strong for a while. It's a place of honesty and recollection. A place where if I close my eyes tightly enough I can still feel a kick in my ribs and the sweet smell of puppy breath and pug ear.
I've got it, bad.
So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue sky's from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
Droplets of water trickled out of the faucet falling ominously onto the porcelain cracked tub. It sounded like the click clacking of your toenails on tiled floor as you meandered about the house in your early morning saunter, anxious for a new day. Deliberate but passive, just like me. Lazy stretch and sausage yawns. For a minute it felt like you were still here. A dream.
For reasons I can't explain the house still carries your smell, stronger than before. The rooms embody the essence of you. It holds on, lingering intently.
A mouse in the rafters rustling creaky wood boards, scurrying above. Rain that falls like a funeral dirge, wind that blows early autumn leaves. Neighbor dogs barking. Dark shadows cast on the carpet where we said our goodbyes. New hardwood floors that smell like ice cream upon entering the house. A lone oak tree that stands taller than the rest. Acorns and pine cones burning blue embers in a romantic flame. Tanned skin and white cotton in a warm embrace. Sharp needled puppy teeth, babies breath and chubby skin rolls. A song on the radio, a plaque hanging on the wall that reads "The high point of my day is that moment when I get home to be with my dog." My mind playing tricks on me.
The wee hours of morning tossing and turning. Missing the snores that lulled me to sleep, a blonde pawed kick in the ribs with a sigh that let me know I ought not to be so restless. Twitching whiskers, nostrils flaring in and out with the rise and fall of pink belly fur, involuntary leg jerks and soft whimpers escaping into the night. It's quiet now, they've all stopped asking. Haunting images I won't reveal. It's ours, like this empty silence that taunts me.
If you were here you'd give me that look -- with ears laid back against the sides of your velvety head, the curl of your tail unwinding with concern. A puckered snout gray muzzle, with a silly snaggletoothed smirk over black lipped gums and all would be forgotten.
I miss my dog.
Today marks exactly one month since the Sausage has gone.
I can't believe how long it has been already in some ways but in other ways it seems like a whole lot longer.
I am not pointing this out to be a drag or to keep drudging up sadness but I feel that it needs to be acknowledged at this mark, on this day.
Not that every day doesn't bring thoughts and memories of my boy and how much I miss him every time I walk into my back door. Every time I go to bed at night. Every time I laugh or cry. Every time something good or bad happens that I want to share with him.
A couple sad things happened today; first I found out that Facebook has a new application called Dogbook and it made me wish I could create an account for him.
A few hours later I received an email from a company that sells all natural Bully Sticks. The subject line read "Free Dog Treats for Pugsley", which they wanted to send us in exchange for an organic search blog entry. We would have been SO all over that.
A neighbor stopped and asked, "Where is Pugsley, we haven't seen him in a few weeks?" and after I told him his first comment was, "Halloween won't be the same this year."
No it won't because Pugsley was the rock star of the block for the last 10 years delighting children (and adults) by dressing up in costumes and helping to give out candy to all the trick or treaters. It was his favorite day of the year. More so than Christmas even. Halloween will be rough this year, I will probably have to vacate the premises.
More reminders that the past has gone and life must go on in new and different ways, more sad thoughts and memories which must quickly be replaced with good ones. I guess that's the way I've been dealing with things, reminding myself that for every bad there is a greater good.
For the Sausage I am glad that he doesn't have to endure anymore ugly surgeries with stitches, staples, and drains. I am glad that his little belly is no longer bloated to the point of discomfort. I am glad that the tumors can no longer multiply and ravage his precious body. There is nothing more the cancer can do to him now. He is free.
For me, I guess you can gather by the new header that he is forever immortalized in my heart and mind as the supreme being that he was, is, and always will be. I am thankful that I have managed to stay strong and not fall apart through all of this. That I have actually emerged somehow stronger, better than I was before. Because of him I am free.
That is all.
Just wanted to send a shout out to the enchanting Diane over at Pandora's Parlor for creating this beautiful whimsical banner that we are calling, "Pug Angel". We Love Diane.
This is sort of how I imagine the Sausage floating around up there with flying cherubs and billowy sheer cloth in muted shades of blues and whites. I also see him playing in a green field with other dogs and running around with children, Sitting quietly by the older folk's sides...begging for sweet treats and belly rubs from the Saints, visiting with family and friends who've gone before. And because he's so cool, I bet he is up there hanging out with Jim Morrision too.
I picked up his ashes today, and placed them in the urn I had made special from Birch wood. On the front is a slab of black marble and engraved with my favorite photo and a line from Led Zeppelin's "Thank You". Burial was not an option because I'll be moving soon and want to make sure wherever I go, he will always be with me.
On the lid reads the following poem:
Do not weep for me when I no longer dwell
among the wonders of the earth; for my larger
self is free, and my soul rejoices on the other
side of pain...on the other side of darkness.
Do not weep for me, for I am a ray of sunshine
that touches your skin, a tropical breeze
upon your face, the hush of joy within your heart
and the innocence of babes in mother's arms.
I am the hope in a darkened night. And, in your
hour of need, I will be there to comfort you.
I will share your tears, your joys, your fears,
your disappointments and your triumphs.
Do not weep for me, for I am cradled
in the arms of God. I walk with the angels,
and hear the music beyond the stars.
Do not weep for me, for I am within you;
I am peace, love, and a soft wind that caresses
the flowers. I am the calm that follows a
raging storm. I am an autumn's leaf that floats
among the garden of God, and I am pure
white snow that softly falls upon your hand.
Do not weep for me, for I shall never die,
as long as you remember me...
with a smile and a sigh.
I also stashed a number of his things that I've collected over the years. Teeth, claws that fell off, whiskers, and fur.
Someday it will all be buried with me. Until then I think I've chosen a nice resting place for my special friend. I am glad to have him home.
Life is strange without the Sausage in it. I miss him like I would miss my head if it were no longer attached to my neck.
It's all the little day to day reminders that he is no longer here. It's waking up and not taking him outside as I have every morning for the last 14 years. It's passing by his empty food and water bowls knowing that I don't have to fill them. It's looking at his empty bed and knowing I'll never see him laying in it. It's being out and knowing wherever I am that I don't have to be home at a certain time. It's looking at a box full of toys that he will never play with again. It's coming out of the shower to not find him there waiting to lick my legs. It's cooking in the kitchen and not having him poke his head in the pantry or trot around at my feet waiting for a crumb to fall. It's going to sleep at night without tucking him in and kissing good night. It's lying on the couch and not having his warm body to tuck my feet under. It's walking in the door and not having his happy face greet me. It's not hearing the squeaks of his toys, the snorts of his nose, the grunts from his chest, the woofs, the barks, the growls, and the pants. It's walking down the pet aisle at the grocery store and choking back tears. It's missing the touch of his fur and the smell of his face. It's catching myself doing things that I no longer have to do; like keeping food up high so it's out of his reach, leaving the bathroom door open so he can come in, and not throwing my underwear on the floor because I know he's going to steal them. It's having to refer to him in terms of "was", not "is".
The house is empty. But my heart is full.
It's full of sweet memories of times gone by that I would not trade for all the riches in the world. It's full of comfort in the choices I've made that I now know were the right ones to make. It's full of gratefulness to friends far and near. It's full of blessings for prayers that were heard, questions that were answered, and pain that was spared. It's full of determination to honor his memory with happiness, not sadness. It's full of thankfulness for a wonderful life lived with no regrets. It's full of faith that someday we will be together again. It's full of the belief that I now have a special pug angel watching over me.
How can I feel bad when such a beautiful life was lived to its fullest and his spirit is free? It's a selfish kind of sadness. Not sad for him, but sad for me.
Let's try this again. Here is the slideshow as it was intended....which should now contain audio and video files depending on what browser you are using and if you have Powerpoint.
At some point I'll upload to Youtube for larger viewing.
Friends, it is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell you Pugsley has passed on. He went about 11:13 this morning. He was in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by his toys and people who loved him. I was holding him in my arms when he took his last breath. I want everyone to know he did not suffer at all and he had the most incredible dignity up until the end. When he was ready it happened very fast. It was a very peaceful end. In a final act of bravery and love, he went on his own which no one saw coming, not even his dr. We believe the Sausage was trying to make it easier for me so I didn't have to be the one.
In the end Sausage did things as he has always done; in his own way, at his own time, on his own terms.
That is all I can say for now. My heart hurts. I need to go into seclusion for a while. I will post again when I am able.
Thank you again for all your prayers and well wishes. I believe they were all heard and we were truly blessed right up until the end.
Please light a candle tonight for my baby to help shine his way to the bridge, where my Nana and Papa and other family pets will be waiting for him.
I opened up the pull out couch and made a special fort with propped pillows and your favorite toys. A library of all your favorite movies that we've watched together 100 hundred times; like the Lion King and Milo and Otis. But you weren't interested in them like you used to be and you didn't want to stay on the bed with me. You wanted to hide underneath where it's dark and cool. This morning I lay on the floor with you just to be near. I held your paw in my hand, placed my head near your head and I rested my cheek on your legs. I took deep breathes in and I smelled your smells as if I was smelling them for the last time. I want to make a mental recording of all the things I will miss so much; your velvety ears and their sweet stinky odor, the soft tuft of fur on top of your head, your funny face and big brown eyes, and the smell of your Frito feet which I might miss most of all. I looked you in those eyes, holding your paw and took another deep breath in. I said that you don't need to be so brave, that its okay to let me know when you're tired and you just want to go to sleep with sweet memories of the life I made for you. It was a beautiful life and I can see you holding onto it now. But I no longer know if you're holding on for you or for me. It's two years to the day when all this began. You've been so strong for so very long.... holding on longer than anyone thought you would, including me. It's okay if you're getting sleepy now, you don't have to be so brave for mama. I lay down on the floor and held your paw in my right hand caressing your head with my left. And I told you that I'll be okay without you because I'll have so many memories of our happy times and because your spirit will live on inside of me forever, making me a better person because of you. I told you that you have to show me if it hurts. You have to let me know when it's time because there aren't any clear answers. One minute you're hiding under furniture and the next you're squeaking toys and barking at me for food. I laid down on the floor with your paw in my hand and I cried, asking you to show me a sign. Then you got up and ate some chicken.
The mast cells are taking over. After an ultrasound today we found large masses in his liver and spleen. We are not just dealing with external tumors causing blockages now. What's going on inside his poor little body seems to be far worse and more aggressive. His belly is tight and distended. He is uncomfortable but not in pain. I am on alert for any signs of that changing. I am afraid it won't be long.
Please keep my darling Sausage in your prayers..
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? The Sausage has been having issues with holding his bladder since I upped his prednisone dosage to help with the inflammation of his tumors. The side effect of course is increased thirst, water intake and urination. But wouldn't you know, for a dog whose been peeing outside on grass for the last 14 years, he has totally taken to his wee wee pads like a champ and hits them square on every time.
He is such a good boy...minding his manners through all of this.
The other side effect of prednisone is extreme HUNGER. He is hungry and preoccupied with food all the time. When I had "the talk" with the doctor I asked if at this point I can just give him whatever he wants. The answer was a resounding yes. "Let him live it up," he said.
One Christmas many years ago when I mistakenly left a cup of Baileys Irish Cream sitting on the coffee table within pug nose reach, I came into the room to find a drunken euphoric pug. Any time since when I've cracked open a bottle, the smell drives him wild. He remembers the smell and the taste and goes absolutely crazy for it. I think it may be his favorite thing on the planet.
So now we have a new nightly routine that consists of a little bowl of vanilla ice cream (his other favorite) topped off with a teaspoon or so of Bailey's. Oh the joy it gives the little smush just warms my heart all up inside.
Needless to say he still loves life, maybe more now than ever. This is a good thing.....but I have a sick feeling it will also be bad. I mean, most dogs let you know when they've had enough. They stop eating, stop playing toys, stop walking, stop enjoying life and that's how you know when it's time. The answer is clear. I am afraid this isn't going to be the case here. Especially now that there is Irish whiskey and filet mignon involved.
Quality of life is not an issue, at least not now. The issue, without getting too graphic and to spare his dignity, is multiple tumors growing in a place that when big enough (and they are growing at a very rapid rate) will interfere with normal bodily functions. I can't let it get to that point or there would be suffering and toxicity involved. And I won't have that. Not at all.
We are looking then at a mechanical issue. One that I have no control over and need to be proactive about. The downside is that I am afraid he will still be loving his day to day life, and that will make what I have to do all the harder.
People have questioned me over the years about why I blog and put it all out there.
First they would need to understand that I don't put all that much out. I have a filter in my head that screens out anything that might offend, come across the wrong way, and hurt me in the long run or someone else that I care about before I hit publish on every entry. That leaves about 5% of my life that I actually write about here and the other 95% that I keep to myself or only share with a close circle of friends.
I can also assure you it's not all about being narcissistic as we bloggers can tend to be. And it's not about trying to fill some void of something that is missing. It's more about wanting to capture moments in time, to have a voice and an interactive sense of community with an external support system that becomes evident in the outpouring of compassion and understanding that I receive on a daily basis. Things that people in your own inner circle may not be able to relate to, but someone in South Africa can. Someone beautiful and colorful who you'd not get the chance to meet otherwise.
It's about getting an email from a reader in Sandusky Ohio telling you that they are dealing with the same exact thing, how much your words have resonated with them, and how they are looking to you to draw guidance and strength with the same grace and honesty when it's their time to go through it. Or maybe its a comment from someone who has already gone through it and they are the ones giving you the strength and advice.
That is why.
You'll have to forgive me for not making every post about the sad things that go on, understanding that I can't drag myself through that sea of emotions every day (when it is already my reality) and that sometimes the blog serves as an escape from it all. Free therapy if you will.
Bad things happen but life still has to be lived and enjoyed as best we can....or we all might go a little insane......If the Sausage could talk, I am sure he would be the first to tell you that. He tells me every time I look at that sweet face and can see his great lust for life in the twinkle of those big brown eyes..I try to take my cues from him.
I appreciate all of the emails and comments, the prayers, support and kindness. Forgive me if I am unable to respond to them all, but know that it is appreciated. More than I can ever express or do justice to, in words on a blog.
One day it feels real, the next it does not....
I think the doctors may be FOS. Either that or de Nile is not just a river in Egypt. That Sausage is still acting happy, zippy and spry. He doesn't act sick at all these days, even though they've told me he really is. In fact I haven't seen him act this good since before his last surgery.
Tonight he surprised me...we were watching that new reality show, Greatest American Dog. Best reality show ever by the way. And out of nowhere he goes bursting off the couch and flying at the TV, where he proceeded to plant himself and watch the entire program. Barking, twisting and turning at the television. It startled me in a happy way because I thought he was mostly blind, but apparently he can still see, or his eyesight has miraculously been restored. I'm not sure which. But he followed each dog contestant and the entire plot of the show, stopping to chew his bully stick on the commercials.
While I can't deny that the tumors are growing at a rapid rate and will before long interfere with things, to look at him everyday you would never know it. They change shape and size daily too which is also like a bit of a mental roller coaster.
Anyway after my last post I wanted you to know he is still a happy boy and loving life..I guess that's the most important thing.
I feel the weight of a cinder block pressing on my chest and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I'm afraid of being alone. I'm afraid that my life won't be as colorful as I'd always imagined it to be. And that everything will turn to drab shades of black and gray when you're no longer in it. I'm afraid I'll miss you so much that I won't be able to breathe or peel myself out of bed.
I'm afraid everything I say will come out wrong because nobody understands our bond or what you truly meant to me.
I'm afraid the loss will surpass anything I've ever felt and I may not be equipped to handle it.
I'm afraid I may not be strong enough to stay happy and upbeat around you in your final days because I know that's what you need and deserve. I'm afraid to let you see me cry. I'm afraid if I start I may never stop.
The doctor very firmly but gently said, "Lori, I'm sorry. You need to prepare yourself" as he used words like "inoperable" and "day to day". But how do you prepare to lose your best friend? I cried as he hugged me and softly muttered, "there's no charge for today" and let us slip out the back door so nobody could see or feel the weight of sadness.
The Sausage turned 14 today....
The Sausage celebrated in a special way...
The Sausage got yellow roses that he loves to smell...
The Sausage got kisses on his pug nose and forehead as well..
The Sausage had birthday cake made from peanut butter and carob...
The Sausage is a wee bit grayer this year but still has the face of a cherub..
The Sausage ate frosty paws ice cream and got happy birthday phone calls too...
The Sausage opened presents and played with toys old and new
The Sausage enjoyed a birthday bully stick
The Sausage stopped chewing it and decided to lick
The Sausage got ogled from tail to muzzle
The Sausage got his mama's heart and many special nuzzles...
Happy Birthday Sausage!
I am pleased to report the Sausage has been feeling a lot better, even perky. His tail is curled up again. Around mid week I caught him with a can of peanuts in his mouth when I entered the room. He had the lid dangling from his lip just as he was ready to dive into them. This was a good sign. Followed by more of his normal puggy behavior like barking at me to feed him, playing toys and generally being the demanding pug that he is.
The only thing that is different is he seems to have lost eyesight in his left eye. From what I have no clue. And I'm not going to subject him to a bunch of tests and crap to figure it out.. He is a tiny bit wobbly and gets a little nervous when he can't find me, but he's learning to compensate with his right eye and he's getting along fine.. If that is the worst thing to deal with after all this, I'll take it. I'm just happy to have him enjoying life again. The way he should be.
A happy weekend to all.
There were more complications after my last entry. Increased swelling, continued bleeding, fever, trembling, coughing, and general weakness. I had him at the vet every day last week. He finally turned a corner Friday night and has been doing better, seems to be stable now though still not back to his normal pugnacious self. That's okay, I'll take him as he is right now [chewing on a bully stick at my feet]. The drain is still leaking blood but nothing like it was. Red blood cell counts are back up and the fever is gone, coughing is less. This one really took a lot of him [and me]. The recovery time has been longer than I anticipated and of course I didn't foresee any of these problems. Would I have done it all over again if I knew? Hard to say. I can't really let myself go there mentally. We just have to keep pressing forward and loving life for as long as it is lovable. I am aware that someday soon we will have to say the big goodbye. But I definitely did not want it to end like this.
Thanks for all the care and support. It really has meant a lot to the Sausage and I.
Lori and Pugsley
Wow.... they say cats have 9 lives but I think Pugsley has like 20....
I am happy to report I have my Sausage home with me and it looks like he is out of the woods. That is what they tell me anyway. I am still cautious but will say he has his normal pug look about him again. And his blood counts are back up. Phew, wasn't sure there for a while if he would make it, but true to form Sausage has remained strong and stoic through it all. I love him so much.
His vitals are good and his appetite is back to gangbusters. His gums are pink again (they were pale white before). He just needed that extra blood to feel better. They gave him the equivalent to half a pint of human blood. Thank you Lucy!
My main issue with him right now is the swelling. Poor Sausage is in swell hell and has a hematoma about the size of a softball on his chest where the big lump was removed. It caused all sorts of swelling in the surrounding areas too. They assure me it looks a lot worse than it actually feels for him. I came close to freaking out when I saw him this morning and it was even bigger then like the size of a grapefruit.
They told me to apply hot compresses every 2 hours to help reduce the swelling, so that's what I've been doing. He is also on a diuretic which makes him have to pee every hour but also releases some of the fluids.
Four different doctors told me this was the right thing to do and I felt like in my gut it was too. Apparently because the lumpectomy had been performed on the same lymph node before there was a lot of scar tissue in there and a bunch of nerves all wrapped around what they described as a bunch of little grape like nodes instead of one big one. The margins are poorly differentiated by multiple surgeries and it's not as clean, more room for error. He can't have it operated on again if it grows back.
There is no looking back now, only forward. I'm so relieved he is feeling better even though he looks like he has been through a war zone. One thing is for sure he is a survivor. I told you it wasn't his time...
I must warn you the following pictures are graphic, thats why I'm only posting a link to the pictures not putting them out on the main blog page. Please don't click on them if you have a weak stomach.
If you can handle it, this is what Sausage looks like after having 7 tumors removed, collapsing from becoming anemic post surgery.... and only 24 hours after his blood transfusion. All things considered I say he is looking spry.
On a lighter note here is the strong boy enjoying his warm Turkish towel compresses which I am about to give him another round of. He loves them, they must feel really good on his sore spots.
Please everyone go home and hug your pugs tonight [or your other 4 legged friends]. Hold them tight and tell them what precious gifts they are. I know I will.
They ran blood work which showed Pugsley is anemic. He didn't collapse from a seizure or the edema after all; the poor little guy lost too much blood from his drain, post surgery. He became very weak and wasn't getting enough oxygen from those red blood cells.. I need to find out if they cut into an artery or something during his lumpectomy...there was a lot of blood...when I woke up on Sunday and glanced down at my bed sheets where he had been laying, it looked like Charles Manson was at my house. I ran him to the vet Sunday AM and they told me it was normal, not to worry. I knew it wasn't normal. I knew I was right to worry. Damn it, why do we doubt our own instincts in moments of emotional disruption? I guess emotions are powerful enough to skew clarity..
He is having a blood transfusion courtesy of a nice boxer whose name is escaping me at the moment..
When I went to see him at the vet I stuck my head in his cage to give him a kiss and wish him luck. He turned his cheek the other way, totally snubbing me [for not taking him home I presume]. It warmed my heart and gave me hope that he has not lost his stubborn little puggy ways.
The Sausage continues to fight, on his terms. That is a good sign.
I'll know more tomorrow, please keep the prayers coming!
There have been some complications after the surgery and Sausage is in intensive care. Overnight last night, he developed a huge edema under his neck in the throat area, swelling that traveled up to his neck from where they removed the lymph node on his chest. His breathing was labored. This morning as I was on my way to take him to the vet to have it looked at, he started walking funny crossing his two front legs, head going down to the side and his back legs were kicking. I think he was having a seizure. He was in respiratory distress. My vet doesn't think it was a seizure. He suspects he collapsed from not getting enough air. I'm not sure; it looked like a seizure to me. If it was a seizure that would have more to do with the cancer battle inside of his body, than the swelling on the outside. He is in intensive care being given some medications to decrease the swelling, and they are monitoring him to check for any signs of seizures.
I hope I made the right decision. At this moment I am second guessing myself. Please say some prayers for my Sausage.
Pugsley went in for his surgery at 7:00 this morning by 9:00 the Dr called to tell me he did great and is already awake. He didn't even need a tube or gas, just IV injectable because his heart rate, breathing and everything was rock solid the whole way through. He is so strong and brave! They removed the big tumor and some small ones while he was under. He may come home looking a little funny from all the places he was shaved and stitched but as long as he is happy, I don't care how he looks.
Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful emails and comments.
Given that I haven't slept in a couple days, I am going to lay down now too....
I am waiting on my fourth opinion about what to do with Pugsley....
He has an enlarged malignant lymph node that has actually regrown in the same spot where it was surgically removed 6 months ago. Remember this was back in December when they told me he would most likely not live to see the summer. Before that the first oncologist in summer 2006 said he wouldn't live to see summer 2007.
Well, to give you an update his quality of life heading into summer 2008, it has been and still is off the charts these days. Seriously, when I say it's better than mine I am not exaggerating. He has a great zest for life. He loves his food and toys and lives for treats. He goes on weekend adventures with me and everyone who sees him says how great he looks and acts. He is still a very happy, spunky boy. He dashes around the house like a lightening bolt@! And by the looks of him and knowing what a fighter and lover of life he is, seems far from giving into this wicked disease.
BUT all things considered and him being the superpug that he is, the reality is he does have this mast cell cancer raging through his body. Every 6 months it seems to crop up. In addition to the enlarged lymph node on his chest he has 2 other skin tumors that I noticed last week, one on his inner hind leg and one on his back. And as I was at the vet this afternoon checking him all over I noticed quite a few more. All over. They are spreading on his head, side, stomach, back inner thigh........oh help me to know what to do.
These don't concern me as much as the big lymph node one though that changes size day to day ranging from a golf ball to tennis ball in size. The fact that they are all cropping up at once again is alarming. He has also been licking a lot which makes me think the mast cell histamine is causing an allergic reaction and could be seeping into his blood stream. Tonight I came out and asked the doctor to tell me if this is the beginning of the end. He responded with a very somber but firm, "Yes."
The big unknown is when will the end come and will my choices help it be a better ending one way or the other?
I am very torn about what to do. I know I said no more surgeries as a treatment for cancer but now it's about keeping him comfortable and extending his quality of life for as long as possible. I don't think that is being selfish or just trying to keep him here for me either. If he was not having fun at all or gave the slightest indication that he's getting tired, there would be no question. Instead he is just the opposite. He's enjoying life now more than ever! So I think I owe it to him if it means he can have both quality and quantity for a little while longer.
Just a little while longer. It's not his time.
If I do nothing, this mass is going to continue to grow at a very rapid rate until one day he opens it or it eventually explodes on its own, releasing toxic amounts of histamine and heparin in his little body sending him into anaphylactic shock.
I don't want that for him...
My other option is to have it surgically removed like we did the last time maybe giving him another 6 months of this life that he loves so much...if we are lucky.
Given that he is acting so incredibly zippy and spry my gut tells me he can handle the surgery and it won't affect his quality of life for more than one day as he is recovering. And 6 months on a dog's watch is like 6 years to us.
I don't know what to do but I am leaning towards having at least the big one removed. At least this was my thinking before doing a full body scan and finding 7 tumors from head to tail. Would I remove those too while he is under? I don't want him all cut up like a Frankenstein. Even though he wouldn't notice or care. Dogs have no sense of vanity or ego, it would be me feeling guilty at the looks of him. That shouldn't factor into my decision though..
One of the doctors recommended surgery; But that was without knowing recent facts about the multiple tumors. The other Dr. has a call into the 3rd Dr., Pathologist / Oncologist who performed the last round of biopsies to see what makes the most sense for Pugsley at this stage (Stage IV) and what will give him the greatest chance for quality and quantity, or should we just focus on one and not the other at this point.
I am waiting on the 4th doctor to call me back, The naturalist to give me his weigh in. Other than the enlarged lymph node and multiple skin tumors he has no signs of systemic involvement at this point. His appetite is gigantic, his stools look normal; there is no vomiting, no lethargy, no signs of stomach pain or ulceration. He does have some weight loss and they explained that is because those fucking cancer cells are gobbling up his nutrients which now makes sense why he is so incredibly hungry all the time despite eating 4 times a day with plenty of treats of in between.. I thought it was the prednisone and maybe it is partially but its the damn cancer stealing his food supply so it can keep growing and spreading like the parasite that it is. He did have a slightly elevated temperature tonight and the big tumor is hot to the touch...
No matter what I do the cancer will eventually win. It will travel to his liver, spleen, or heart or enter his bloodstream in toxic masses. But which way is worse? Which way is better? I just want to do whats best for him and I'm frustrated because I don't know the answer to those questions. I was hoping the Dr.'s could give me the answer but the ones I've spoken with so far don't even seem sure in this case.
They haven't encountered a dog who has survived 22 months with a Grade II / III on surgical removals and herbs alone. Also, they don't know Pugsley like I do. He is a total fighter and he will stick it out as long as I let him.
What would you do?
So as not to be outdone on the cuteness scale, here is little snippet of the Sausage chewing happily on a bully stick.
Pugsley says thanks for all the well wishes. He had a good weekend and is feeling better.
When I woke up and looked at Pugsley's sweet face all I could see was a big red patch streaming down the left side of his neck. It was all bloody. I rushed him up to the vet and we gathered he somehow in the middle of the night scratched or dug open one of his tumors. It must really have been bothering him. Poor Sausage. I didn't know. He hides these things from me. In an attempt to be brave, I think.
I had to leave him there for an emergency surgery because it was wide open and the histamine in the mast cell tumors spread like wild fire from the slightest touch causing the cancer to spread to surrounding tissues which causes additional tumors. That's how these new tumors formed, after the last round were removed they all started bubbling up. It's a vicious cycle we are in now.
We were resigned to no more surgeries as a treatment for the cancer due to the later staging of it already traveling to the lymph nodes. But now we find ourselves back in surgery just to maintain a quality of life. I hated to do it but there was no other choice to make. Everything else is currently great with his life quality. Shit it's better than mine.
While he was under they also removed a rapidly growing tumor from his right ear before it ends up blocking his hearing and it's only a matter of time before he starts digging away at that one because it bothers him. ****sigh****
The thing that kills me is he is such a cool dog. He takes it all in stride. That Sausage is amazingly strong and he just keeps bouncing back every time I count him down. His will to press on (and to eat) still seems stronger than the cancer. He is like the Lance Armstrong of Pugs. He is my hero.
Though it does scare me how fast things seem to be recurring and they usually multiply after any sort of disturbance. If I'm being honest, it feels like we are on borrowed time.
Now if you will please excuse me while I go bust out into a Bette Middler song...
Sausage went for a vet check up on Saturday and there was no blood found in his stool sample. That was a relief. I was shocked when they weighed him on the scale and I could not believe my eyes to see he has actually lost weight. I assumed the way he's been getting into EVERYTHING he would be up to 27 lbs but he is a meek little 21 lbs, his lowest weight as an adult. I talked to the vet about it and told him how ravenously hungry pugs has been He said as long as he is not gaining weight (due to the cancer) and given the stage he is in, I might as well increase his food intake by 25%. That means he gets an extra meal a day plus many goodies in between. Can't tell you how happy the Sausage is about this. Of course....it still isn't enough! I started his extra meal tonight with some Easter turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies, and gravy.
This was after I was fool enough to leave my Baileys Irish Cream on the coffee table while I was cooking and in I came from the kitchen to find he had lapped some up and knocked over my glass in the process. As a result he was drunk for most of the day. It was also after he tried to steal my chocolate Easter bunny and after he opened his own Easter basket full of stuffed toys and bully sticks.
The good news is his Baileys buzz might have helped softened the blow when he met the baby for the first time and discovered he wasn't the whole cheese. He was very inquisitive and interested and careful, a little bit jealous and a little bit sad when I held the little guy.
He is sleeping it off now.
We are having a snow day today here in the northeast! Pugsley is helping me shovel every hour on the hour to keep up with it..... Well, he is not so much helping per say as he is looking cute in his sweater and making yellow snow in my paths :) That is his contribution.
Lots of people have been asking for Sausage updates by email, by phone, even people at work inquire on a regular basis how he is doing. It's always nice to hear. I thank them for asking and deliver my canned response,"It's day by day. Today was a good day!" There have been a lot more of those good days than bad days...
I guess I haven't put much out there on the blog because
I've learned been humbled by the times when I brag about how great he is doing even carrying on complaining about how spoiled he's become in all of this because in the moment that's how it feels. And that's usually how I write, in the moment. That's probably hard to see from where you sit and read because as we all know things can change just as quickly in the next moment after I hit the publish button. So I've become what you might call a bit superstitious or cautious. When people ask now I am no longer overly confident or flippant.
Likewise, there have also been times when it felt like things just couldn't possibly get any worse and in the heat of those sleep deprived, sad, overwhelming moments the only thing I could really do is reach for my keyboard and spew out the raw painful emotions that I felt at the time. And then I just come across as an out of control lunatic, when in fact it is also just a small piece of time when I'm in the thick of it. It passes and things get better the next day and the next and the next. But you don't want to come back and say so because you are afraid to jinx it all over again...
So I guess you could say on the blog and in every day life I've had to adopt a "prepare for the worst and hope for the best" attitude.
That's how I've had to approach the whole thing, very middle of the road and even keeled. Not optimistic, not pessimistic, just living in the moment day by day. One step at a time. It's the only honest way I can be realistic, be prepared, be alert, and remain positive ....which of course are all of the things I need to be for my little compadre. And let's face it, for myself.
On a positive note, there have not been anymore painful episodes since the last surgery. Knowing that all the surgeries are behind us now and that he doesn't have to endure anymore is comforting in an odd way. This allows his quality of life right now to be off the charts. Less downtime means more uptime to focus on the important things like more spoiling, more bully sticks, and more trips to the Barkery for homemade doggy treats.
All of that said there are definite signs of systemic involvement. There is the large volume and frequent bowel movements. There are the side effects of the Prednisone which have been rough going. A constant feeling of hunger despite feeding 3x a day and increased thirst and need for urination. There are a lot more accidents in the house which we know cannot be helped. We have had to resort to wee wee pad training for the times when he can't make it outside which is tough because he has never had to use them before. He is confused by these. Up to this point he could hold it for 12 hours if need be and would just stand at the door when he needed to go out. Now it's more like every 2-4 hours. When I first laid the pads down he thought they were blankets I put down for him to lay on. Twice he peed half on and half off so I know he had the right idea anyway and tried. Now he kind of ignores them altogether and steps over them to get to where he's going....but we're still working on this.
As for me it's been difficult to leave him and go to work everyday but I'm fortunate to have help so he doesn't have to be alone the whole time. I've been laying low on weekends for the most part. I try to not be gone anymore than 4-6 hour clips or I start to feel guilty. But the larger part of it is the sense that our time together is fleeting and I just don't want to miss anything. My heart is with him right now and it feels out of place anywhere else. When I do go out its something quick and low key like visiting friends and family, lunch, dinner, or a workout at the gym. Friends have been coming by to visit and he LOVES this most of all. Attention! His second favorite thing after food...
In general I am trying to not think too far down the road. To live in the moment and enjoy the present. My mantra continues to be... each day is a gift, each day is a blessing. It's a survival skill or coping mechanism when you really get down to it. The funny thing is I am also learning that it's a pretty good way to live. In fact it may be one of the most important life lessons I will ever learn. And I have a 25 pound sausage to thank for it.
So the Prednisone is making Pugsley RAVENOUSLY hungry. I mean he cannot be stopped. I feed him first thing in the morning before I feed myself and first thing when I come home because he is in such a hurry to eat.
He comes in from his morning constitutional walks and before I can get to the food bag he is barking at me and actually trembling. Sometimes I hear his little teeth chattering he wants to eat so badly. I feed him and as soon as he finishes eating he comes running back over to me begging for more. Like what I gave him wasn't enough. Then I sit down to eat my meal and he is almost on my lap begging for some of my food shaking and trembling. I should mention he only shakes when he eats.
He acts like he is STARVING only I know he isn'. But he thinks he is. He thinks I am holding out on him and not feeding him as much as he needs. He looks at me with big sad eyes like I am ignoring his needs and making him go hungry. I hate it.
Tonight he started eating a paper bag and this morning he stuck his head in the pantry and started pulling out plastic forks and knives one by one from a cardboard box because there was one small kernel of kibble at the bottom of the box. Several times now I've caught him trying to eat the arms and legs off of his stuffed toys and he picks off the little pieces of his ribbed nylabones too. I won't even get into the things he is eating outside.
The vet told me Prednisone would increase his appetite but this seems excessive. He's on a very small dosage, only one 5 mg pill a day.
His waking hours are spent begging for food. It's sad. And hard for me because I want to give him whatever he wants at this point, within reason. But if I fed him every time he wants to eat now, he would be a 60 pound pug and I need to be careful because it is not good for dogs with cancer to be overweight. It can cause heart and breathing issues and other complications.
I think I'll try breaking up his meals to 3 smaller meals and staggering them throughout the day instead of one feeding in the am and one in the pm. I'm hoping the extra meal will help him feel fuller.....but I don't know. At this point his appetite is OUT OF CONTROL. My brother has a beagle in stage 4 right now and she has no appetite at all. She has to be fed with a baby bottle and sometimes she won't even take that. I guess I am fortunate that we're not in that boat. That would be sad too. If the meal staggering doesn't work, maybe I'll call the vet and see if we can cut his 5mg a day down to 2.5. He is taking the prednisone to try to keep the tumor inflammation under control. The deal was I would give him the steroids only if they were a small enough dosage to accomplish that without any ill side effects. Maybe his meds just need to be adjusted. Poor Sausage!
Has anyone else had this experience with prednisone?
But a lot of you have been asking for updates and it's easier to say it one time than numerous times. I'll start with the good news first.
The Sausage doesn't know he is sick. Right now he is acting like a happy go lucky boy. Playing toys, begging for treats, eating with a voracious appetite, enjoying his home and family and resting comfortably when he sleeps. He is still acting very spry, zippy, and mischievous..Strong, stoic and stubborn. The very qualities that make me love him all the more.
The not so good news is that the pathology reports confirmed the cancer has spread to his lymph nodes. It's definitely on the move and there are signs. Multiple tumors in a very short period of time. I just found a new one in his ear the other day. He's going to the bathroom more than normal, probably 5-7 times a day. Although it looks normal, the frequency and volume has increased which makes me think there may be some sort of intestinal involvement. He's lost a few pounds even though he is eating plenty.
There will be no more surgeries. There is nothing left to be done but give him his pills (v. small doses of prednisone and benedryl) and along with his herbal medicines keep him comfortable and happy. That is the goal.
When I asked the Dr. the "how long" can be expected at this stage (multiple tumors with lymph node involvement) he said he's seen cases go as quickly as 4 weeks and some very rare cases for one year but anything past 6 months is unlikely.
That's where we are...
One of my friends knowing how attached I am said, "You must be beside yourself".
But I'm not really. This may be the calm before the storm but I feel mentally strong and realistic. I am hyper focused on being aware, being in the moment, and being positive because I know he feeds off of my energy and that's one of the best things I can do for him right now. It's as if in helping him be strong, it's also helping me be strong.
I know exactly what he needs and somehow that makes the process easier for me. Actually, that's my biggest comfort in all of this...that ever since he was 13 weeks old I have always known how to do right by him and I've always done what's best. Now more than ever I'm relying on those instincts to help guide us through this chapter. They are the only things I can really trust and rely on right now aside from great friends and family who have all been here.
The truth is I've always known this time would come and I'd have to dig deep to find the strength to shepherd him through. It is my responsibility, my honor.... and I wouldn't have it any other way. Now that it's begun.... in a very odd and unexpected way it feels like a natural part of the process, of the journey I've been fortunate enough to share for the past 14 years.
Of course I say all of this now but I know there lies a day or days ahead when I'll be inconsolable and bereft. But I'm not going there now....there's no time or room for that kind of thinking.
It was almost two years ago that he got the first round of MCT and the prognosis back then was pretty grim. It was what they called "guarded". Up until this past surgery he's gone about his life in great health and happiness with his holistic treatments and natural modalities. It's also a comfort knowing whatever happens now he has already beaten the odds and any additional time that he is happy and comfy is a great gift.
Now I can see my gentle old pal starting to wind down in the winter of his life, and it hurts like hell. But we're making the most of every day in every way....and today he is a happy boy.
Pugsley rounded a corner by Sunday and started to feel more like his old self. The drain was removed, finally. Today he played toys and enjoyed a bully stick.
He's resting comfortably...
Even taken to stealing half of the couch...
Things have calmed down. For now.
2008 will be about fighting back, gently and making the best of things. I have no resolutions to make this year. Just wishing for health, healing, and love. Not just for us but for everyone in our lives, including you.
Thank you so much for all the emails and comments. For rallying behind us with your kind words of support and care. It's truly appreciated, more than you know or I can say.
Happy New Year
It all happened so fast, I didn't know they would find an enlarged lymph node mid-surgery and tell me it has to be removed causing such an invasive procedure. I was prepared for another skin tumor to be removed from his limb not a big chunk taken from his body. I'm exhausted even though I haven't left the house in days save for making trips to and from the animal hospital. Switching on and off between the bedroom and the living room couch or floor. Where ever he's more comfortable. I'm not sure how you can be comfortable with both legs stitched up and a drain and swelling.
My jaw hurts from clenching. I can't smoke or drink with bronchitis so I convince myself that I need some Vicodin after an hour of chipping away the ice on my walkway yesterday caused a pinched nerve in my neck. I had to do it so he doesn't slip and fall. I'm pulling out unused drugs from last year to medicate now. It was a rough day and night. Cleaning dressings and propping blankets. Sleeping when he sleeps in between every 8 hours of Tramadol. It's hard for him to sleep with both legs sewn and there's the plastic drain and swelling. He sleeps in ½ hour increments then wakes up trembling. I hold him and tell him it will be okay. Mama's here.
But that makes him cry and when he cries, I cry.
One commenter said I should let go, now. But that's so very wrong. Now is when I hold on tighter than ever, bracing for a bumpy ride. It may last 2 weeks or 2 years. This is just a rough patch; we'll get through it and then ride this thing out together like good Christian soldiers but not like this. No more cutting, no more drains, no more pain from surgeries. I want him to be at peace. Suffering is not acceptable at any stage of the game.
12:01 AM. I lay there waiting for sleep to find me. Stewing and hurting for my little friend, hurting for myself truth be known. Tossing and turning. A Black berry sits on my night stand and I wait for the familiar vibration. I've come to love the sound of it fluttering against porous wood, the same way I imagine a junkie loves hearing the sound of their fingernails tap tapping against a vial. A simple text message to say he cares, but it never comes. I hate that even if he did it will only hurt more because he'll never tell me what I want to hear. I can't believe I'm going through this alone with no emotional support. I hate that I care and he doesn't. I hate that at 2:00AM I'm accepting less than what I'm worth and mostly I hate how my mind wanders for even a minute from what matters. But it's desperate times and in my minds requisite for distraction I resist all urges to pick up the phone and call or text. I do not. Because I hate that boys are so cold and girls are so needy. And if he cared he would do it on his own. Another loss. I've grown accustom to them. But it doesn't make it hurt any less.
7:00AM. I feel him stirring. He sits next to me trembling. I hate when he trembles and why is he still trembling after 2 days? I think he has a fever. Lights on, check both incisions, check drain. See huge bubble in the center of his chest has formed overnight. Scary. Looks like a large pocket of fluid has collected near the drain site. Maybe it's not draining and this is why he's in pain. I don't know how much more I can take.
45 more minutes until the vet opens. I hold him in my arms until then and I get him to eat but his spits out his pain pill. Crafty even when under duress.
7:53AM. I call the animal hospital.
Concerned, "Its Lori _____, Pugsley has some swelling in his chest and he's still in pain. I want to bring him in first thing this morning."
On Hold [his regular doctor is off today so I have to settle for a different one]
"The Dr. said he can see you at 10:15."
Concern turns to agitation, "I don't want to wait 2 hours, he's in pain and has a big bubble in his chest.
"Hold on please"
"Okay he'll see you if you can be here at 8:00 sharp."
Luckily I live only 1 minute away from the vet.
"I'll be there in 5 minutes"
I carry Pugsley without disturbing either incision or drain and somehow maneuver him through 3 doors and three parking lots of black ice and manage to open three doors myself while holding him strategically in my arms.
"Okay, let's see what we've got going on with Pugsley," the Dr. says,
I undo the makeshift dressing that I have constructed over the top portion of his body which has already been hand washed 3 times to keep the areas clean. Unfortunately it's a pink toddler onesie that I found tucked in the back of my closet meant for my God daughter. I'd cut it up to protect the sutures and drains from getting infected and to keep him from interfering with them. It was either that or the cone.
It occurs to me that this is so much worse than the beanie baby episode of 2002.
I show him the big bubble in Pugs' chest.
"Ah, this isn't swelling from the drain fluid this is edema."
"Edema??? What's edema, is it bad?"
[I've heard the word on episodes of ER and Grey's Anatomy but don't know what it means]
Once he convinced me that it's just normal post surgical swelling, I asked him to take his temperature.
It's 103.8. I knew he had a fever.
"It's probably from the swelling; I'll inject him with an anti inflammatory."
He was also injected with an anti-biotic in case the fever is due to infection and they gave him a shot of morphine for the pain.
I don't think I would have put him through this surgery if I knew how awful it would be. He's not bouncing back quickly like all the others.
The vet isn't overly concerned about the fever or swelling. In fact he makes me feel like I'm over reacting. I wish his regular doctor was here. He indulges my over reacting and I'll take any emotional support I can get right now.
In the parking lot he manages to have a runny bowel movement but his legs hurt too much to lift and pee. He hobbles back to the car as if to say; "take me home I've had enough."
In the yard he goes again, diarrhea. He struggles to get it all out, even whimpering while trying. It breaks my heart all up inside. I love him so much it hurts. I think there's a reason why I don't have children. I don't think I could handle it because I would love them too much like this and my heart would cave in from too much loving.
9:15AM I prop up blankets in the bed and make him a fort hoping we can sleep for a few hours more and that he'll feel better when he wakes up. Truthfully, hoping I'll feel better too. We need some good news.
The drugs have kicked in and his body is totally limp. He's doubled in weight. It slides effortlessly from the position I've put him into a side lay, he's almost asleep. My weary head hits the pillow ready for relief. Almost there...
Suddenly Pugsley jumps up and violently starts scratching with his back paw onto his neck, near the sutures. Upon inspection I see there's a big lump there. It's red, swollen, and hot to the touch. Damnit if he isn't having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic they injected him with.
He's just like his mama and that makes me want to cry some more. This may be the thing that pushes me right over the edge. The straw that broke the camels back.
10:01AM - call the vet back
"Its Lori ______, Puglsey is scratching at his neck and there's a big red lump. He's panting heavy and breathing weird. I can't tell if it's from the morphine or an allergic reaction to the injection he just had."
"The doctor said he can see you at 11:30."
Irritated "I'm afraid he may be going into anaphylactic shock, I can't wait until 11:30. Please ask him if I can give him a Benadryl with all these other medicines."
"The doctor really wants you to bring him up"
"I'll be right there"
Three parking lots of black ice, three doors to open with a now limp pug in my arms. His normal 25 pounds now feels like 50.
The vet tech comes out to talk to me
"Okay, we'd like to leave Pugsley here and monitor him for the day"
[I quickly realize what's going on here. They must think I'm the crazy dog lady whose going to keep calling throughout the day and they don't want to deal with me]
They were ready to take him from me....
Fuck that. I'm not having him sit in some metal cage trembling and alone all day just because they don't want me to call when there's a problem.
Annoyed "Wait, I don't know if I want to leave him here, I just want to see the doctor and find out if he's having an allergic reaction"
"Okay, well you'll have to wait until he's between patients."
Other pet owners in the waiting room look sad. I can see it on their face; he looks like he's been through a war, a Franken pug. I feel like a bad mommy for putting him through this. Their kindness touches me but makes me more blue. He can't stand or sit up with all the drugs so he looks especially sad and pathetic but still oh so cute, dapper, and stoic. I used to be one of those other patients in the waiting room feeling sorry for the older dogs with problems. And now it's us. It makes me feel old and alone.
The doctor comes out and asks me to bring Pugsley in ahead of all the others appointments.
I point to the new lump on his neck.
"That was there before"
I showed him the swelling in his neck
"I injected him in the back."
He made me feel like I was over reacting again. And maybe I was. I am sleep deprived and emotionally spent after all.
"I was afraid he was having an allergic reaction because he was itching like mad and its red here, see..."
I pointed to it and he answered with a pacifying "It's better to be safe then sorry, it's okay I know he's your baby."
I wonder if they read my blog. At this point I'm paranoid and clearly delusional but anything is possible...
"Give him a Benadryl when you get home just to be safe. It might help him sleep too which would be a good thing."
"Yes it would, I need him to sleep. I need to sleep."
The one good thing is they took his temperature again and this time it was down to 101.3
I'm thankful for little blessings now.
11:30 back at home. We hit the bed again, back into the mountainous fort of pillows, pug propped with no sea legs all wobbly and stoned. My eyes hurt from being open too long. He slips into a comfort zone and my head hits the pillow......but morphine makes him cry.
Wed. night P called to check in on us.
"Lor, how did Pugsley make out with his surgery?"
"The tumor removal went fine but they found an enlarged lymph node in his chest the size of a golf ball. I have no idea how I missed it or how long it's been there.."
"What does it mean?"
"They had to take it off too while he was under, it most likely means the cancer has spread beyond the skin. We wait for the pathology to see if the lymph node contained mast cells and then we'll have to make some decisions."
"Oh Honey, I'm sorry, how is he doing now?
"He's uncomfortable, he's got stitches and staples in both legs and a drain that's oozing blood on one side that has to stay in for 4 days....I don't think I can do this anymore."
"Ok just breathe, and remember that God never gives us more than we can handle at once."
"I might need to have another talk with the big guy then. I think he's under the impression that I'm much stronger than I actually am."
The last two were totally different in shape, color, and texture. They were red and raised, protruding outside of the skin. So it came as a surprise to find this new tumor in the same spot as the first one; hard, colorless, and hiding underneath the skin almost undetectable had it not been for the way the light on a certain angle of hitting him made the cusp of his fur seem raised by casting an odd shadow. I don't like how it keeps coming back in the same place. I feared it might be inoperable this time because there wasn't a lot of skin left to work with after they had removed so much the first round aggressively pursuing clean margins.Cutting right down to the bone. I wasn't sure there would be enough skin to suture. But fortunately, there was. I wasn't sure my thirteen year old boy could handle another surgery. But thankfully, he did. His strength to press on and will to overcome never ceases to amaze me. Someday when I grow up, I want to be just like my dog.
Pugsley is home resting comfortably now from his third bout with cancer. Thanks to my friends for your caring and support during a very trying time.
Remember how I said I wasn't going to humiliate Pugsley this year with a silly Halloween costume? Well...... I lied. Hee Hee
Thought I'd check out the new PictoBrowser Flickr widget and what better way than to show you the many faces of Pugsley. Nothing like a little Sausage to kick off Monday.
It was one year ago the Dr's told me Pugsley had Grade 3 MCT cancer, the worst kind possible. Some of them gave him 6 months to a year at best. The news was pretty grim late last summer before I had all the facts. Before I sought second opinions and had his labs retested and learned that 3 out of the 4 pathologists that regraded him categorized it as a Grade 2 instead of a Grade 3. It was before I read and researched and sought third opinions and decided to go the holistic route with treatment. I'm so glad I did. Not only was his quality of life not compromised, it has improved immensely. He's never been happier or more spoiled, or greedy.
People often ask how he's doing and I'm always hesitant to say he's doing great because I don't want to jinx anything, I don't want the bubble to burst. It's why I don't blog about it too often. But what I will say is he's already beaten the odds of those initial doctor's and by looking at him every day it's becoming clear to me that he doesn't intend to slow down anytime soon. Not when there's so many more toys and treats to be had...
I check him regularly for any new lumps on the skin and we'll deal with those as they occur. There's only been one so far that was successfully removed with clean margins. My thinking is if we can keep those yucky mast cells contained to the outer surface, then we can hopefully get them in time before they spread to the inside.
There is this mysterious cough he has from time to time, but I can't say that it's related to the cancer and could well be a normal narrowing of the esophagus that occurs with age in the breed. There is some enlarged lymph nodes near the surgical site that make me worry when I look at them. They look nothing like the "bad lumps", I'm told they are most likely fatty tumors and not in an area where we'd want to risk cutting them out.
Aside from that He's a happy seemingly healthy boy. There is no sign that there's anything going on internally. He eats with the greatest gusto ever and his stools are perfectly normal in color and consistency.
I don't know what the eastern doctors put in those herbs but he's never been so spunky and vivacious in all of his thirteen years. I'm wishing I had put him on this regimen years ago. In truth, our biggest challenge has been trying to get Pugsley to remember his age and the fact that he's not quite as spry as he used to be.
From his perspective I don't think he realizes that he's old. He thinks he's still living in his prime and can do whatever he wants. He blisters through the house like a tornado, dashes up the stairs and still gets overly exuberant when company comes over and when he sees an animal on TV. In short he doesn't know his own strength and this usually results in him falling from going too fast or twisting and turning something out of joint. Trying to keep him calm and act his age has been the biggest challenge. Oh Sausage!
I get emails from people whose dogs were just diagnosed with MCT and they ask me for advice. I'm careful with how I give it because I'm no medical professional nor do I pretend to be. I stress that every case is different; you have to look at age, health, and tolerance to things and always weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks. I always tell people to seek second and third opinions, find out all the options available and then listen to their hearts to know how to do what's best for their little friends. As for our own experience, I strongly advise anyone going through it to look into holistic care.
The herbal treatments are intense doses of antioxidants and immune boosting regimen designed to change the way his body chemistry granulates cells and responds to histamine. Instead of poisoning the system to fight the cancer, they work to fix the cells and control the cancer. I want to believe it is doing just that. Keeping it all under control.
Doesn't Sausage look handsome in his red ribbon?
Poor Sausage is having a rough day. After work and a doctor's appointment of my own I came home late to find he is not his normal zippy self. He's sort of lamed up, not wanting to even climb one level of stairs. He's looking up at me with the "I want to be carried" look that he doesn't give too often due to his strong willed independent streak. His little sausage body looks a bit twisted and his back is arched up. It could be his neck or back or stomach, I'm not sure which. I'm leaning towards back or neck because he did eat two meals today. He does have a history of back/neck pain so I'm hoping it's just a recurring case of that which normally resolves itself after some pills and rest. He moans whenever he moves and when he sits still he just looks kinda depressed. I gave him ½ of a Tramadol (in the opiate family) and he's chin resting quietly at my feet now. I'm sure he would appreciate any good pug vibes you can send his way.
I've come to the conclusion that there aren't nearly enough pug pictures on my blog. So, I've decided that at least once a week I will post a new Sausage picture here. Duh! Don't know why I didn't think of that before. One can never get too much Sausage, afterall.
Speaking of Sausage, someone recently asked me how I came up with that nickname. I think the following picture of a sleeping Sausage says it all.
Sausage got a boo boo last night. He went running up his dog ramp at warp speed excited to get a treat but he lost his balance, causing the nail on his right toe to get caught on the wood, bending it sideways and outward. Next thing I know, there is blood all over my comforter and he's limping around...but still begging for his treat. Luckily it didn't seem to cause him any pain. I gave him some benedryl to make him sleep so he wouldn't walk around on it. This morning I whisked him up to the vet where they just clipped the long part of the inverted nail, hoping it will grow out enough until the crooked part will fall off. Right now the crooked nail is too attached to his actual toe and he would need to be sedated to have it surgically removed. It was a freak accident, really. **Sigh** While there, they put Sausage on the scale and I was shocked to see he weighs a whopping 27.5 pounds!! Up 4 pounds from his previously svelte 23.3 lb weigh in. Needless to say, someone has to go on a diet.....and they aren't going to like it.
Thirteen years ago I took you home...
Your black masked face filled my dreams at night even though you were sleeping right next to me. You weren't a Sausage back then, you were a Swirvy Wirvy, a Boo Boo, and a Willy Boy.
We've been through it all together, you and me. Like the days I needed a reason to get out of bed, and you gave me one. You didn't care when I was sick or sad, what I look like in the morning or where we lived, even the tiniest little one bedroom apartment when times were tough...as long as we were together.
Your strong pug spirit has kept you going over the years through illnesses and surgeries and things that other dogs might not have survived. And you keep on surviving and fighting, like the little champ that you are and in case you didn't know, it's helped keep me going too..
Today, your black face has turned to gray, but you're still just as handsome to me. You're once tiny body has grown into a plump, cobby pot-bellied pug frame, complete with drumsticks and a double curled tail, just like a pug should be. Perfection.
Now you're a Butterball, a Sausage, a Nugget and I don't even get mad when you pee on my floor or do things out of spite. And it doesn't bother me when people tease me for being too attached or spoiling you too much, or for putting you first all of these years..because what they don't realize is that in the littlest of ways, you've given me the biggest gifts.
You're 13 today and I love you more now than I even did then...
Happy Birthday Pugsley.
It's been a harrowing 48 hours....yesterday morning I took Sausage to the vet with the evidential dismembered toy in hand certain they would tell me he'd have to have the stuffed toy surgically removed from his stomach. Not a great thing to put an elderly respiratory challenged pug with cancer through an intense invasive open stomach procedure. I mean really, the pug is tough but how much more can he take? I was sure that was where we were going. "You can't just leave it in there" the vet said, "He could die."
They took a static X-ray in the morning and then a series of Barium X-rays throughout the day. They basically make him drink this chalky white dye and then check his films every hour to detect any type of blockages in the GI tracts and bowels, colon, etc. to make sure everything is passing through. Miraculously, everything traveled through his system exactly the way it's supposed to. I took him back this morning for a final X-ray which would have shown any pieces of the toy soaked in the dye. Nothing.
They warned me when I took him home that sometimes the barium helps push things out. Sure enough as soon as I got him home, he started crapping runny pieces of white chalky diarrhea mixed with stringy fabric pieces from the toy some of which got stuck on the way out and needed "assistance" being pulled out. Yea that's right...I did what I had to do. With nothing between my fingers and his crap but a couple leaves...
Now all is forgiven because I ask you, how could I be mad at a sausage with face like that? I think he is saying, "I didn't mean it mama".
The Sausage reign of terror Spring ’07 continues….while he has coincidentally not had any more “accidents” in the house since I strapped the pink belly band on and took his photo….. I think I figured out why he’s been vomiting every day. I made the discovery that at some point in the last week or two when I wasn’t looking he decided to dismember one of his toys. Presumably ripping off its arm and chewing out the neck stuffing. Now, since I have not found the missing limb nor have I seen it come up or out of him, I can only assume it is stuck somewhere in his stomach at the moment......definitely explains the vomiting. What it doesn’t explain is how I’m going to handle it if he has to have a third intestinal blockage surgery…Bad Sausage. Bad.
Since I took this picture (last night) there is now a second limb missing from the toy that I thought I threw out in the garbage. I think he has two arms in his stomach now...
I don't mind telling you that Pugsley has been a naughty boy lately. It may be a direct result of all the extra spoiling since the cancer diagnosis. I don’t know but the more I give him the more he wants. And if he doesn’t get it, he misbehaves in protest. He’s been getting into the garbage, barking at me while I eat, crapping on the floor and then eating the evidence to try to hide it. He’s really out of control. The latest is he’s been having “accidents” in the house.
The first time or two I felt really bad for him… like he’s almost 13 now and his bladder must be starting to go. I may have even shed a little tear over the thought. But then I started thinking about it some more. The two times he peed on my carpet were within an hour or two after he had been outside and on weekends we stay in bed for 12 hours straight and he never once jumps off the bed or whines to go out. In fact most mornings I have to wake him up…So how can it possibly be an incontinence issue?
No, I don’t buy it. It has to be something he has in his head that he wants but isn’t getting. He peed once when I was in the shower, I came out and stepped in a puddle. Then yesterday I was in the gym for an hour and when I came out, there was another puddle on my rug. Maybe he's bored or ticked off that I’m doing other things and not tending to him for my every waking moment. It’s not the first time he has displayed this kind of Spite and Malice. It’s like when he does it, he’s saying, “piss on you lady”.
Clearly, he is just trying to dominate me.
Ah, but what this crafty little Sausage didn’t know is that I’ve been holding onto a secret weapon that was given to me by one of my Pug Rescue friends….something made specifically for male dogs who have “marking issues”, Something that I never thought I would have to use on Pugsley. The dreaded Belly Band. It’s kind of like a Depends for dogs….a doggie diaper if you will.
Now because Sausage has been so naughty, I don’t have a problem putting his picture here despite the humiliated look on his face. As soon as I strapped it on, his ears laid back and his tail uncurled in utter disbelief and disgust. At least it’s not too girly looking a fabric. I mean there are soccer balls and baseballs on it. Right?
The idea here is twofold. One it’s supposed to discourage “markers” because they know if they try to pee on something it’s not going anywhere but into the band. Two, for dogs who do have real bladder issues (which I don’t believe he has) it keeps your rugs and pugs clean.
I don’t think I have to tell you that he hates it. So now whenever I leave the room and he is out of sight, I put it on him so he can’t pee. Right now I’m using it as a humiliation tactic. The same way a mother would tell her un-potty trained child that he can’t sleep over his friend’s house until he stops wetting the bed. So far it’s working because the belly band has been dry each and every time I’ve taken it off.... which further proves my point, he's playing some kind of control game to push my buttons and test me...
Why are all the males in my life such alphas?
San Francisco was a blast, but it's good to be home.
Sausage missed his mama! He promptly pinned me down and smothered me with stinky wet puggy kisses!
This morning I awoke to a warm pug paw pressed against the side of my cheek. He smelled like a giant corn chip. It got there when I moved just a little to change position causing him to let out an ornery sigh and kick his pug foot in protest, landing it square on the side of my face. I liked it there. I breathed in deep and savored the moment. I know it's a morbid thought but all I could do is lay there and imagine how I'll ever be able to stand it when I don't have a warm sausage body and smelly pug feet to wake to.
Did you know the only way a shark can survive is to keep moving forward? He can never stop swimming or the weight of his body will cause him to sink to the bottom of the sea. Breathing becoming impaired, he will suffocate and die.
If my glass was half empty I would tell you that the new lump is another Mast cell tumor, and that pessimistically speaking, it must mean the cancer is still on the move traveling through my little friend's body doing its harm to all his delicious pug parts that I so adore. I'd tell you they warned me that just because his blood work looks normal and he acts fine, it doesn't mean the cancer hasn't gone to his liver or spleen and that he could act perfectly normal up 'til the day that it ruptures in a big bloody mess and there will be nothing left to do.
If my glass was half full I'd tell you that while the cancer is back, it hasn't gotten any worse as far as grading goes and that the margins are once again clean around the latest cankered area. I'd tell you that the Sausage isn't any different today than he was yesterday. He's still a happy go lucky boy, spry and zippy. Loving life just the way I want him to. He's still loving his marrow bones, bully sticks, and meal times with the all the vim and vigor of a pup. If I was an eternal optimist, I'd tell you that I read "the Secret" and just by pure positive thinking I will his cancer into remission and that he'll never leave me.
But I'm neither a pessimist or an optimist, I'm a realist. And the reality is this morning I got the call from the vet, telling me what I already knew. But it didn't make it any easier to digest. The new lump is MCT, grade 2 just like the other one. The good news is that it hasn't gotten any worse. The bad news is that it hasn't gotten any better, depending on how you look at that and process the information. If I'm a realist I would tell you all of the above good and bad, because it is what it is and now I have to try to muster some happy vibes for my boy because it's not good for him to see me down. Life as he loves it, still has to go on despite the discouraging news.
I still have to get up and go to work everyday. I have to go away on business trips, meet my friends for drinks and lunch, go out to dinner and movies. I still have to go to the gym and workout. I have to go on rescuing other pugs and helping the ones that I can. I have to write about other things. I still have to go to the salon and get polished and coiffed. Life has to go on like normal even though all my heart wants to do is stay home with Pugsley and enjoy every precious corn chip moment we have together. Basically, I have to be the shark.
One of my fellow pug rescue volunteers lost her pug this weekend due to a sudden onset of seizures and subsequent brain swelling. He died in her arms at only 3 years old. It was terribly sad and I'm sure the whole family is devastated. I realize how fortunate I've been to have 12 + wonderful years with my special boy. I know how lucky I am that he's such a little fighter. I believe that his greed for toys and treats and his lust for life and attention and the silly things he enjoys like watching T.V and making pug forts on the couch is what keeps him going and what keeps him strong. It's like he knows if he wakes up after surgery there will surely be something soft and squeaky waiting. He will surely be even more loved than he already is, if that's even possible. That sausage is all heart.
The vet told me that proper protocol for Pugsley's situation is to have the new lump removed now, while he's strong and healthy enough. Get it while it's small and hopefully stop it in its tracks. Surgery is scheduled for tommorow morning. Please send the Sausage some good thoughts and prayers, karma, mojo, or whatever it is you believe in...
Hmmm, based on the title of this post, I bet you thought this would be the entry where I announce to the world that I am "with child". Sorry. That day is not today...though I did interview a potential donor the other night....
Well, it's been 9 months since Pugsley had the mast cell tumor on his left elbow and I took him to the vet for a cancer check-up this weekend. I asked the Dr. to run a full panel of blood work, check stool, and look him over for new lumps. I was thrilled when they told me his blood work was perfect. No signs of anything wrong at all. The Dr. told me he has a very strong heart, he's at the perfect weight, highly exuberant for a senior boy and that he looks very solid, spry, and terrific. All wonderful news!
Wouldn't you know it -- later that night while rubbing his chest, I noticed a little red bump on his left side, not far from where the MCT was removed in August. Oh, the fucking cruelty of it all....jazz me up, then crash me down. At first I thought it may be a raised bump from the needle where they took blood, but they drew from his right side that was shaved. Upon closer inspection I could see that it's a hard red cellulous looking lump about the size of a pea that appears to be the exact same growth pattern as the MCT. I'm certain that's what it is, a new lump that is most likely the beginning of a very small cancerous growth.
What to do.....what to do...
I had already made up my mind if he had internal cancer or something that spread in a difficult place on the body, that I would not have him cut open for any invasive surgery at this stage. I'm still firm on that. But in this case since it's externally protruding out of the skin and is pretty small.....so small that I almost didn't notice it and the vet didn't feel it during the exam, and knowing that early detection and removal is key....my gut tells me to go ahead and have it removed before it has a chance to get bigger and spread like the other one did.
On the other hand, putting an older dog under anesthesia carries its own set of risks. And not to mention, hasn't Sausage been through enough? But then if I do nothing at all, I live with the daily guilt of not battling it while he's strong. Not stopping the fucking cancer dead in its tracks, again. Instead it will be staring at me everyday, taunting me, mocking me as if to say, "Remove me, Remove me before I destroy your little friend!"
It's times like this I wish I had the comfort of a big hairy chest to burrow myself into at the end of a weary night. The kind that not even a silky pug or turkey baster could provide...
More to come...
A coworker inquired, "Do you have a Valentine?
"Of Course I have a Valentine...he has four legs and a curly tail, a gray beard and offensively bad breath that I suspect he gets from eating his own crap.....and you know what? He's the classiest guy I've ever known."
One month into 2007 and I'm in a bit of denial about a couple things. It's hard to believe Pugsley is going to be 13 in five more months. Seems like just the other day I took the precocious pug home and fell head over paws. Hard to believe it's been 5 months since he was diagnosed with the big "C". He's really been through a lot over the years, this pug of mine. He's survived Lhymes disease, allergic reactions to rabies shots and other medications, two intestinal obstruction surgeries, one eye surgery, an attack from another dog, 5 lump removals, luxating patella, numerous anesthetizations that I was afraid he wouldn't wake up from and so far mast cell tumor, grade 3 or maybe grade 2.
I don't understand people who "give up on their dogs". People who have had a dog as part of their family for years and years and then they go through some sort of life change and decide that the dog no longer fits into their lifestyle. They move or marry someone who isn't a "dog person" they have babies and become afraid that the dog will hurt the child or maybe they don't even give the dog a chance and ship him off to go live with someone else without ever knowing how he might react because it will be less stressful of a situation for them if he just leaves. I know because I see it happen all the time working in rescue. Here's a novel idea - how about you don't take an apartment if they don't allow dogs. How about you don't get involved with someone if they would ask you to get rid of your pet, or maybe if you plan on having babies at some point in the near future and don't think you'll be up for raising a human and an animal in the same house, you think twice about getting a dog in the first place. Or how about you spend some time working with a dog trainer to learn how the dogs and children can coexist in harmony? And then there are those people who decide they can't afford or aren't willing to pay for their dogs medical bills and just give them away, or worse, abandon.
I think it comes down to there must be two different types of people in the world. There are people who think of their pets as part of the family and people who think of their pets as pets. I don't get those people who can treat their dogs as disposable when they no longer fit into their life. I've spent tens of thousands of dollars on Pugsley's vet bills over the years. I've emptied my bank accounts and maxed out my credit cards on more than one occasion. When you get a dog you make a commitment, you become responsible for a life that is totally dependent on you. I've given up jobs and sacrificed relationships that would require relocation because Pugsley isn't a "city" dog and I've sat home on weekends foregoing a social life so he wouldn't have to be alone. I guess my brain and heart can't comprehend how anyone could throw away time with their dog because it is so precious to me as I stand facing 13 years with my trusted compadre and all I can feel is that I need another 13 years with him and how unfair it is that I can't have more.
I found two new lumps on the Sausage. They're just behind the armpit of the same leg that had the cancer which they told me was likely to come back at some point. I don't like the location of them or the way they wiggle around when my fingers glide over to check for growth every couple of days. The lumps are close to his heart and I've decided that I just can't and won't keep cutting him open every time there is a new lump. Unless of course it's a protruding lump on the outside of his body and wouldn't be so invasive to remove.
The reality is that dogs get lumps, especially older dogs. He's had numerous fatty tumors removed that turned out to be nothing. That's what I'm hoping these are, nothing but benign growths that come with age and fat. I give him his holistic medicines faithfully, everyday three times a day. His powders and drops and his "Magic Mushrooms" which are a special mast cell formula made from mushroom extract. I have to believe they are working to battle any bad cells that keep trying to attack. I know people who have dogs on holistic meds that have had the same lumps for years and the dogs keep going happy and carefree.
I always remember what my grandfather told me too, when he was losing his battle to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. When it came back the second time and he swore that it grew back because they cut him open. His theory was that once the air hits the cancer cells, it causes them to multiply throughout the body. He swears that his lymphoma spread as a direct result of his second surgery. Who knows if his theory was correct, he said a lot of weird things towards the end while taking those cancer drugs that messed with his mind. Like that little green men were trying to attack him and he subsequently strangled his Dr. with a stethoscope one night. Or like the time he told me that my grandmother's father was a Russian Jew, which would make me part Jewish and we're Catholic. The point is, it was my Papa and whatever he said has remained deeply embedded into my memory.
I look at Pugsley now and think about his (our) journey and I know that he's had a great ride. I know he's getting up there and I can't have him with me forever. It hurts to know that, but of course I do know. I know that he's been happy and peaceful and spoiled even more so than ever these last couple months. That's why I can't see subjecting him to another surgery, another anesthesia, another round of recovery and fear and worry. I don't think I want to know if the lumps are the cancer growing back. I want him to continue living and enjoying his days stress and pain free. Whatever happens I want it to be natural, not under the cold glare of fluorescent hospital lights and stainless steel operating tables. At this stage, I think it would be selfish of me to do that to him. I feel like the Sausage and I have more time, but I do sense that it is fleeting.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
In no particular order, here are 100 things that I Love about Pugsley:
1. His pug smell
2. Velvety soft black ears
3. His greed
4. How clever and calculating he is
5. Double curled tail. Perfection
6. Big brownish blue eyes
7. When he’s happy, he smiles and smirks
8. When he’s sick or sad, his tail uncurls
9. When he tries to play coy
10. What a ham he is
11. The way he plops down on my pillow and sighs before falling asleep
12. His pug nose, not too flat not too protruding, just right.
13. Gray whiskers
15. Chicken legs in the front
16. Drumsticks in the back
17. Butterball belly
18. How stubborn he is
19. How smart he is
20. The way he communicates with certain “looks”
21. The way he cocks his head while listening to me intently
22. He will do anything for food.
23. The way he lets me know when he wants to come under the covers, by head butting them until I lift blankets to let him under.
24. The way he poses for pictures
25. He watches TV.
26. His peaceful little pug snores
27. The tan roll folds of skin on his hind legs when they are bent
28. How he pines for me when I’m away
29. How he snubs me when I come home
30. He’s such a little trooper
31. He’s a clown
32. He makes me laugh
33. He tests my boyfriends
34. He lets me know when he wants a belly rub
35. He sits quietly by my side when I am sad or sick
36. He sleeps as late as I want and doesn’t wake me up on weekends
37. He does tricks for treats
38. The way he struts in public, like he is showing off.
39. His regal and stoic personality
40. The way he waits to be carried to bed at night, like a king to his throne
41. His curious nature
42. Forces himself to stay awake so he doesn’t miss anything
43. He loves the holidays and company
44. How he reminds me if I forget to give him his vitamin in the morning
45. He tells me when he has to go out
46. He embodies the official pug motto, “Multum in Parvo” Latin for “A lot of dog in a small space”
47. Cheek moles
48. Gray eyebrows
49. When he’s sick he wants me to baby him
50. When he’s fine he wants to be independent
51. How he falls asleep when I play his music box toy to the tune Beautiful Dreamer.
52. The way he flies down the stairs, on 3 legs with his ass up in the air
53. When he gets excited he does Pugtona laps around the house/yard
54. He loves to smell flowers
55. He chases airplanes and birds in the yard
56. He begs for treats at the drive through
57. He pug pouts when he doesn’t get his way
58. His feet smell like Fritos
59. The way he sleeps with his head on a toy, like a pillow
60. He thinks he is human
61. How he uses my t shirts as security blankets
62. He tries to catch bugs
63. His husky little bark voice
64. How he hops in the snow
65. He unwraps presents
66. How excited he gets after he has a bath
67. He helps me work in the garden
68. He loves to snuggle on dreary days
69. Silky Pug rolls on his back
70. His crooked bottom teeth
71. How he growls when I get too close to a new toy
72. His master and commando personality
73. The way he sighs when he is annoyed with me
74. When he plays hide and seek with me
75. The way his legs and face twitch when he’s in a deep sleep
76. His nervous yawn
77. The way he has to twirl 10 times before he can poop
78. The way he clumsily lifts his leg when he pees and almost falls over in the morning when he is still sleepy.
79. His monkey face
80. The apricot colored highlights in his fur
81. How he acts sweet and lovey after he’s been a naughty boy
82. When he yawns in my face like he is ignoring me.
83. The silver strip on his back like a silverback gorilla
84. He understands and responds to his many nicknames
85. His snorts and snortle noises
86. How excited he gets at mealtime, wagging not only his tail but the entire lower half of his body
87. He barks at himself in the mirror
88. He loves burrowing in clean blankets fresh from the dryer
89. Loves Going for car rides
90. His large vocabulary
91. He likes to be the whole cheese
92. He adapts well to change
93. He’s good for the vets and technicians
94. He is very exuberant and full of energy
95. He takes all of his herbs and pills like a good boy
96. He gives me a kiss before I leave for work in the morning
97. How he let’s out one or two little whimpers when I come home
98. He trots around at my side like my shadow
99. He’s a really good judge of character, he warms right up to great people (like SL) and his ears go back and he’s aloof to sketchy people.
100. He lets me dress him up in costumes.
It’s been 2 months since Pugsley was diagnosed with cancer. In some ways it feels like it never happened. Life goes on despite the unknown. I’m hesitant to talk about how great I think he’s doing because there just isn’t enough wood to knock on. But he does appear to be a healthy, happy boy these days. What more can I ask for? We’ve settled back into a nice little routine of normalcy and my focus has remained very clear and steadfast: Treat every day as a gift. Stay positive. Keep faith. Be vigilant about his holistic regimen and care. Spoil him rotten.
Our plan seems to be working out well for now. I am most surprised at myself for not falling apart because I love him so much. There is this line from one of my favorite movies American Beauty, “Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.” That’s how I feel when I look at Pugsley. When he is sleeping so peacefully or lying on his back looking up at me with his big googly eyes. In my silly little world, he is beauty. He is Love.
We had a pretty low key Halloween this year. Pugsley did his favorite thing, sat at the door and greeted the trick or treaters in his candy corn bandana. I took his pictures and handed out candy. I ate a box of Jujy Fruit.
As I was starting to say…..the second opinion doctor phoned just as I was about to hop a train into the city. This was the call from the oncologist who as a first step, had his team of laboratory specialists retest Pugsley’s biopsy results because his initial review indicated inconsistencies with a Grade 3 diagnosis, which is the worst kind of Mast cell tumor.
Remember I said it would be a miracle if it came back as a Grade 2 because they might not even recommend chemo for a 2. And even though I had already made up my mind against chemo for Sausage, of course it would still be better if it wasn’t even a decision I had to make.
I prayed, you prayed, I rub my grandmothers rosaries on Pugsley’s pink belly before bed and I go to church to light candles on my way home from work. Saint Francis of Assisi knows us well. The doctor also reported the ultrasound and radiograph results. He actually used the word “remarkable” to describe how good and clean Pugsley’s stomach and chest area look.
Out of four pathologists, three of them consider it a Grade 2 MCT. In the end, I realize it’s all a numbers game, 2’s or 3’s or varying degrees of aggressiveness of the grades. It’s not a dramatic difference, but the prognosis for a 2 is better than a 3. Another piece of good news.
The important thing is that the Sausage is happy and more vibrant and exuberant than I have seen him in months. He is tolerating all of his herbal medications, capsules, and powders. He hops around the living room like a bunny at mealtime waiting, sometimes tripping me to get to his feeding station before me in great anticipation of his special organic baby food and fresh veggies mixed with his new potions. He prances and struts down the road with his paws pointed upward, trotting in a royal gait like a show dog performing at Westminster. He thinks he’s the shit. And he is.
OMG, that little Sausage is so cute! Cuter than ever. Lately, his thing is that he has to be touching me at all times. Even when he snoozes on the couch he has to have his legs and paws wrapped around my feet. I think it’s a security thing. If only everyday could be a lazy Sunday with pug paws all tangled up in mama feet.
It’s funny how I wasn’t totally 100% against chemo for Pugsley until I actually met with the chemo Dr. who was trying to “sell” it to me. Only in talking to him did I become 150% certain that I would not pursue this option.
I’m happy to announce we have found a much better alternative for Pugsley and have already begun treatment! I went for a 3rd opinion tonight, to the holistic Dr. who is probably the best in his field. He was the complete antithesis of the cancer specialist I met with 2 nights ago. He was kind, patient, calm, reassuring, wise, and powerfully knowledgeable. His waiting room was a Zen garden with trickling water, colored rocks and a big Buddha statue in the center. There were Eastern tapestries hanging on the wall and I found it remarkable the way Pugsley responded to him vs. how he responded to the other Dr. He was chipper with the holistic Dr. curious and lively, his tail was up in a tight double curl. With the other guy he was guarded, his ears were back and his tailed was unwound. I take my cues from Pugsley.
He took a lot of time to talk to me and explain his experiences with treating MCT. He gave me some wonderful case studies of dogs he’s helped live for many years beyond what anyone ever thought they would. He reminded me to breathe and not waste my time worrying over when it will happen or if it will happen. Whether his time is one week or 3 more years, but to focus on every new day I have with him and treat it like a gift. Hmmm, where have heard THAT before? I think I wrote the same thing here. We were gelling.
He told me that I should take my cues from Pugsley, he pointed to him and said, "look, he isn’t worried." And he wasn’t. He reminded me that Pugsley is here to teach me a great life lesson. He gently explained the best thing I can do for Pugsley is to love him and be positive around him. I can do many things to help him, but no one is immortal. The key to all healing is love. He is a great, great man who helped Pugsley once before -- two years ago when he wasn’t a candidate for neck surgery. Instead he cured him with Acupuncture. Pugsley's neck pain has been in remission for close to 3 years. I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it myself. So of course he was one of the first people I called when I learned of the cancer.
Acupuncture isn’t the modality of treatment for cancer though. He prescribed a small arsenal of herbs and supplements that will work together to boost his immune system and over a period of 8 weeks or so, begin to change the way his body chemistry does things like granulate cells and respond to histamine.
I joked with the Dr. when I pointed out that maybe these herbs have a good chance of working in Pugsley because Pugs are from China....he made me laugh in exchange, "Maybe Pugsley will start barking in Chinese!"
We will start with these and work closely together to modify or add more as necessary. Because Pugsley has a sensitive stomach we are easing these into him one by one. In addition his diet will change a little too, something I know he will be happy about. Things that he loves to eat like baby food, green beans and carrots. I am finally beginning to feel like we are on the right path now. Let the healing begin.
I was supposed to go see the Holistic Veterinarian tonight but he needed to reschedule for tomorrow evening instead. Last night I went to see the Veterinary Oncologist for a second opinion. Remember my regular vet told me he wouldn’t recommend chemo or radiation on Pugsley because of the type of cancer and location and age. I was almost relieved when he told me that because it was not a decision I wanted to have to make.
I have been waiting until Pugsley healed from his back to back surgeries before scheduling the consultations. Even though I had already sort of made up my mind that I wouldn’t put Pugsley though chemo, I felt it wise to speak to the cancer specialist to investigate what all of the options are. He gave me the complete opposite advice as my regular vet. Of course he did, this is his specialty field and he was quick to debunk all of the cancer myths in dogs. Quick to disregard all of the advice I’ve received from other pet owners who put their dogs through painful grueling rounds of chemo treatments only to lose them shortly thereafter making their last couple months sickly and miserable and something they still to this day, regret. He was visibly “annoyed” with me when I mentioned that I heard this or read that. He likened alternative holistic treatments to “placebo effect” and “Venus flytrap therapy”. I did not care for his “my way is the only way” attitude but I digressed because after all, I was not there for his delivery of information, I was there for the facts and the medical options.
I asked all the hard questions about the Grade 3 and I didn’t like all of the answers. Particularly did not like the life expectancy both with and without chemo. I won’t lie to you, both are bleak. So bleak that I don’t care to darken the pages of my blog with the statistics. I heard him out about the chemo treatments and what they involve in terms of side effects. He was insistent that only a small percentage of dogs that have chemo experience any bad side effects that make them ill. I had to hear him out even though I didn't like it because he is highly accredited in this particular field. He answered all of my questions and sent me home with a stack of literature that describes it all in detail. I read it tonight and what I saw was that a lot of the literature he handed me contradicts some of the things he said.
In the literature it reads:
“Although no chemotherapy drugs appear to be highly effective against these tumors, several studies suggest that cyclophosphamide, vinblastine and prednisone may prolog life in some dogs. Chemotherapy can be beneficial in treating metastasis since it is a systemic treatment.”
What does that mean exactly? It means that for Grade 3 MCT that has spread into the organs like the stomach, liver, and spleen, he would recommend chemo in 90% of those cases as the best treatment option.
Also in the literature it elaborates about the side effects. Remember he told me most dogs never experience any bad side effects. But his papers said something different. It said:
Anti cancer drugs affect cells which are actively dividing and spreading, therefore normal tissues that have a high rate of growth like bone marrow, GI tract, skin and hair follicles also become targets of the toxic side effects. As a result during chemo it is “expected” that dogs would get low red and white blood cell count, Inability to fight off other illness, decreased platelets, diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores, and hair loss. He told me Pugsley could go completely bald. He would need to constantly be monitored for urine and stool output, behavioral changes, recording of body temperature, and signs of infection. His rectal temperature could go too high and I’d have to give him ice baths right away. If that didn’t bring his fever down, I’d have to rush him to an emergency animal hospital which is 1.5 hours away from me.
Aside from the “expected” side effects, there are warnings of effects to be on the lookout for: elevated temperature, labored breathing, severe depression, pale or jaundiced gums or eye membranes, redness, swelling, or other signs of infection, repeated bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting, tremors or convulsions, difficult or bloody urination.
In addition to the side effects he would likely have to endure, I would have to leave my house at 6:00am to drive him to the place in New York where they administer the chemo, intravenously. They would put him in a board with a factory like line up of all the other sick dogs where he would have to stay and wait to receive the IV drip that lasts for 20 minutes while a nurse stays with him. They inform you that damage to the leg will occur if some of the IV drug accidentally leaks outside of the vein. Then he has to be monitored closely for the next 4 hours and I could go pick him up after work and drive back home in a 15 hour round trip. He would need a minimum of 5 treatments over the course of 3.5 months. He would also have to be checked for a full line of blood stains, Xrays, ultrasound, endoscopy, and other scans every 2 months.
When the consultation ended, I remained in the room to gather my stuff and my thoughts. I could hear him in the next room on speakerphone with the owner of a dog patient. He was asking how many times that day the dog had vomited and how much of his food he was able to keep down. The owner sounded defeated and distraught. She said he had been vomiting all day and was not able to keep food down.
I think I knew in that moment and even before I went there that I would not want any of this for Pugsley. Driving home from New York and looking in my rearview mirror to see his sweet little sausage body stretched out with his chin resting up against my backseat – my heart gave me the answer I have been searching for all along. Whatever time Pugsley has left, I refuse to make it sick or miserable time for him. I refuse to allow him to spend it hooked up to invasive scary medical equipment In kennels all day while I’m stressing about him at work. I refuse to do anything intentionally that would poison him or deter him from the food that he loves to eat and the toys that he loves to play with. Knowing how he feeds and reacts off of my energies and mood, I would never be able to stay positive or strong for him if I was spending my days worrying and watching him deteriorate before my eyes for months to a time. They don’t know Pugsley the way I do. He would pick up on my sorrow, become weak and withdrawn, and he would give up the fight, I know he would.
Maybe my heart and gut would be telling me something different if he were 5 or even 8 years old. But I feel strongly that I have given Pugsley an awesome 12 ½ years, he has never wanted for anything or had even one desire or need that has gone unmet or unattended to. How could I possibly in good consciousness change that now and make the winter of his life a period that he wouldn’t enjoy? Even if there was only a 2% chance that any ONE of those bad side effects could occur, I couldn’t. I won’t. The Sausage only needs to know happiness for as long as I am blessed to be with him.
There was one small hitch to the meeting with the oncologist. One glimmer of hope. One more reason to hang on baited breath another 2 nail biting weeks for results. The oncologist is taking the biopsy slides and blood stains and specimens and having his own expert pathologists re-review the results to confirm if they agree with the initial Grade 3 diagnosis. He did not want to in anyway get my hopes up but he did mention that he sees some things that are inconsistent with a Grade 3 diagnosis. There is a small chance they could come back and reclassify his MCT as a Grade 2 or something that has a better prognosis. If that was the case, they might not even recommend chemo because it might not be not be as bad as the first pathologists had reported. It would be a miracle. I am praying for that miracle.
How was everybody’s long holiday weekend? Mine is not over just yet, I took an extra day off to recharge my batteries. I spent some much needed time among family and friends, got my ass back into the gym, and took the sausage to Petco where I let him pick out a new toy and some bully sticks. He picked out a stuffed candy corn toy for Halloween. I’ve uploaded the pictures into Flickr, which you can only see if you are using the new skin.
I wanted to make sure the good news didn't get lost in yesterday's emotional rollercoaster post. So let me repeat. The second biopsy results came back CLEAN. The margins were completely clean. YAY!! This was another big hurdle we had to get through. Nothing to get cocky about, but definately another big positive in all of this. And I'm happy to report, the sausage is just as spry as ever and he's healing up nicely. Only 3 more days until stitches come out. Won't be long now.
Here is what the sausage has had to wear outside every day 3 times a day since last Thursday. Note the plastic IV bag tied around his back boot. And the Rocky sweatshirt he wears to keep his wound dry and dirt free. I call it his Rocky sweathshirt because he is a little fighter.
Cancer by its literal, non-pathological definition is a very ugly word:
can-cer pronunciation [ kan-ser]
–noun, genitive: A pernicious, spreading evil: Any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively.
It’s taken me a while to be able to say the word out loud. It’s one thing to write it on my pet insurance claim form and on my blog where even though it ultimately gets published in a public forum for everyone to see, during the actual process it’s an intimate exchange between myself and my laptop and I don’t think much beyond that when I’m writing. But actually speaking the words has been more of a challenge.
The first week I couldn’t say it without tears welling or voice shaking. It’s not a word I ever associated with Pugsley other than the one thing I’ve feared for the last 12 years and his astrological sign. Twelve years ago Pugsley came into my life as a gift from my boyfriend. He was trying to cheer me up after my Grandfather had just passed away from a long suffering battle with cancer, and I was devastated. Pugsley somehow made it all better. He turned my sorrow into song with the first curl of his tail, plopping of his head down on my pillow, and snort/sigh combo in my ear.
Now suddenly it’s something he has, something that has me all torn up inside. Something that is real, something bringing back memories of the past and worries for the future. Something that is always in the back and forefront of my mind. Suddenly it affects everything that I do or don’t do. Everywhere that I go and don’t go. Suddenly I find myself judging people in my life for how they have responded or not responded, knowing that in my world, Pugsley is a member of my family and my best friend and that essentially, my life has just capsized. I know it’s not fair because it’s my fucking pain to feel, nobody else’s. But neither is it fair that Pugsley is sick. So fuck it.
I didn’t have a chance to process the news because every day after the second surgery there were complications and set backs that delayed his healing. The stitches popped open, then the staples, then the worry of another anesthesia, another bandage that wouldn’t stay on, another sleepless night, another day of people asking me to say the word that I wasn’t able to say. And the last set of stitches and bandages that can’t get wet or dirty for the next 10 days and it’s rained for the last 6. So every time he goes out to pee he has to wear his hooded doggy sweatshirt and a plastic IV bag tied around his boot that he wears so he doesn’t reopen the wound. And the fact that he can’t jump or be out of sight or go upstairs or gnaw on his bandage and I have to drug him every 6 hours with benedryl to keep him calm enough that he can heal. It’s been quiet now for several days and the news has had a chance to marinate.
I’m still sick to my stomach and have to force down food. My clothes are looser and I’m walking around with my heart on my sleeve. I’ve moved passed denial and onto guilt. I torture myself with all consuming philospophical, medical, and spiritual thoughts. Is it because I smoked in the house when he was younger or because I changed his dog food? Is it because I have sinned and I sometimes forget to pray when things are going well, and then when things get bad again, I ask for favors? Big miracle favors like, please don’t let the cancer come back. How can I expect my prayers will be answered when I’m a hypocrite and a sinner and I judge? Am I being punished for something I did or didn’t do? I’m already heading into the pissed off phase because cancer isn’t fucking fair.
Somewhere between the guilt and anger phases I started to be able to say the word aloud. Cancer. And now I feel like it's all that I say. And not because I want to. I’ve learned more about cancer in the last two weeks than I ever wanted to know. But I also know the best thing I can do is to obtain all the knowledge I can and learn all of the different options so that I can make the best decisions for Pugsley.
For MCT, there are 3 different grades and 4 different stages. Pugsley is a grade 3, stage 0.
Grade 3 is the most aggressive grade and stage 0 means there is only one tumor in the skin that was completely removed with no lymph node involvement. He is at the worst grade and the best stage. Biopsy results from the second surgery were the best possible news. The margins were completely clean and there is no sign that it has spread beyond his leg. For now, it seems to be contained. That is not however to say that one or two of those cancer cells couldn’t have gotten through to the lymph node, and we may not see it for a couple months or a couple years, or we may never see it again. But the odds are, we will. Fucking cancer.
Pugsley doesn’t know he’s sick. He is acting like his normal zippy, greedy, spry, demanding self. Disgruntled only that he is being restricted from his normal activities. That’s the beauty and innocence of dogs. They don’t have to deal with the mental anguish or worry that we humans do. That’s my job. To check him daily for new lumps, wait impatiently for monthly blood test results, and watch for signs that it has gone systemic.
So now it hangs over my head like a black cloud and I realize this is what everybody who has a loved one with cancer must go through. The journey of emotions from shock and sadness to acceptance to living life on a daily basis with the fear and unknown and the statistics spinning in your head like a hamster on a wheel, and the many prayers and your faith that you hope will make their case the exception that will beat the odds. Aside from that, all you can really do is enjoy life together, and treat every day that they aren’t sick as a blessing and the gift that it is.
I picked Pug up from the vet after work. He was very heavily sedated in a deep foggy haze that lasted hours after I brought him home. He wasn’t even able to lift his leg on his favorite bush. For the first time in years, he had to do a squat pee. It was very humiliating for him and sad because he is a boy and proud to be a leg lifter.. They re-sutured his leg with a double layer of stitches on the inside and the outside this time. They also put on a new bandage that is supposed to remain on until at least Monday. I was given strict instructions that If it gets wet or falls off before then, I have to take him back to get rebandaged. He’s on a 10 day round of Clavamox and is restricted from using stairs, steppers, or jumping of any kind. I’m not sure he could do any of that with this latest body wrap anway. Right now he can barely walk. He is reminding me of Puffy from There’s Something About Mary. The dog in the full body cast that they left on top of the car and drove away. That scene always pissed me off. They think he was ripping his sutures by scratching at it with his hind leg. I disagreed because I’ve never seen him do it. But since he is crafty as the day is long, they put a cushy boot on his back leg just in case.
The new green bandage cost $51.50 and it’s already starting to unravel. I think whoever the genius is that can invent a medical bandage to stay on silky pug rolls and sausage bodies will stand to make a small fortune.
I worried about Pugsley all day today and then I got mad at myself for not being more positive about the whole thing. I came home from work, burst through the door in anticipation of seeing the little sausage and I think I dropped to the floor when I saw that his sutures and staples had popped out at some point during the day and his surgery wound was hanging wide open, skin flapping, and I could see near down to his muscle with blood oozing out. I quick called the vet but it was 6:00 and they were gone. The answering service said a different vet was covering for emergencies so I called him. He called me back and told me to try putting Neosporin on it and to put Pugsley in one of my trimmed up old t shirts. He told me if I met him at his office he’d have to charge me $150.00 for an emergency visit. I told him I’d try the t-shirt thing. I tried it and it didn’t work, then it seemed like the gaping wound was getting bigger and bloodier. I paged the Dr. back and asked him if we could come down. The problem as he sees it is they had to take so much skin from his little chicken leg to remove the cancer that there isn’t a whole lot of skin left to hold the sutures. We agreed the best thing to do was have the Doctor bandage him up so it would hold together overnight until I can bring Pugsley back to his regular vet tomorrow morning wherein he will most likely have to be anesthetized again and have a full brocade of double sutures and staples to hold him together. I feel so badly for the little guy, it will be his 6th trip to the vet in 2 weeks and he will probably have to stay again for at least a couple hours. I sat Pugsley down tonight and told him if we’re gonna beat this cancer thing together with positive healing powers and energies then he has to give his mama a break, at least for one night. My nerves are shot.
Take a good look at Pugsley’s $150.00 bandage that he will only wear for the next 10 hours. It has about 5 layers of gauze, tape, and a sticky blue wrapping coat on top. He is sealed up like a mummy. I don’t think he will be sausaging his way out of this contraption tonight.
They also irrigated the wound, gave him some antibiotics, 25 mg of benedryl and asked me if I wanted him to be sedated. I said no thanks, but can you sedate me instead?
The sausage had a big day today. He had me home from work to ogle and dote on him as he recovers from his surgery. Now it’s all about him regaining his strength and spirit so he can kick that nasty old cancers ass!
He’s been very hard to keep calm and quiet because he just doesn’t behave like a 12 year old dog. Inside he still feels like he’s 6. The original post surgery bandage fell off after an hour of being home because he was so ansty all night. As a result of his exuberant personality, it was a challenge to try to keep him from climbing stairs and jumping on the couch. Each time he did, I would cringe fearing he would rip his stitches. Sure enough about mid day I looked down and noticed blood oozing out of his stitches. I went to gently pat it with a Kleenex and upon closer inspection, I noticed one of actual sutures had come undone and flap of the wound was hanging open. It hurt me to even look at it.
By now, I’m on a first name basis with the vets office. I went straight to voicemail when I called. The message said they were in a staff meeting. Argh. I decided to just go up there since it’s only a 2 mile drive from my house. I had trouble getting Pugsley in and out of the car. He’s become very leery of the car rides seeing as the last 3 times he was actually in the car, he ended up staying for surgeries. Poor Sausage.
As soon as I walked in the Dr. came out, “Pugsley popped his stitches!” I blurted out and I plopped him right down on the exam table. Next thing I know the Dr. was telling me to hold onto Pugsley and was coming at us with a tool that looked like a glue gun. Before I could blink he took Pugsleys leg and put 3 staples into it while I held him. He let out a little whimper with each staple but he was very stoic and brave. I think he was just glad that he wasn’t staying this time…
Then it was back home where I attempted to create a makeshift bandage sling using one of my old tube socks.
I think I might have missed out on the Florence Nightingale gene. The sock bandage stayed on his leg for all of 15 minutes. Meanwhile he was all wound up and kept trying to jump on and off the couch.
Little did I know, a few towns over, Pugsley’s Grandpappy was building him a new doggy ramp so he could go up the stepper instead of jumping up and hurting himself. Grandpappy brought his staple gun and tools and I helped him lay carpet down on the steps for good pug traction. Awww, I Love my Daddy. With only $8.50 worth of lumber and a lot of love he was able to save the day.
Pugsley pleased his Grandpappy by immediately going up his stepper and taking an afternoon snooze. He’s been using it ever since.
For a night cap, the sausage enjoyed chewing on a spiral beef tendon while sprawling out on his new throw pillow.
It’s been a long day.
I’ll start with the good news.
1) The blood tests showed no signs of the cancer having spread into his blood. They ran the test twice to make sure.
2) The second lump they removed was just a fatty tissue lump, nothing to be concerned about.
3) They say that dogs with this type of cancer have the best prognosis when the cancer is on a limb. I’m considering Pugsley’s upper elbow a limb, wouldn’t you?
All in all I guess it's the best possible prognosis for the worst possible diagnosis.
For the first 24 hours I was overcome with shock and sadness, every time I looked at him I was thinking morbid thoughts like how unfair it is that I don’t have long to look into his beautiful eyes, pet his velvety ears, or smell his delicious pug smells. It’s excruciating. Missy put it best -- it feels like my heart is being ripped out.
I’m not living in a fantasy world. I know the day has to come, I have always known that. But I didn’t want it to be like this, not with some invasive disease ravaging his precious little body right before my eyes.
All I could do is cry for the first day. Deep sobbing cries that started in the diaphragm and worked their way up through the torso, doubling me over as I was gasping for air, trying to catch my breath feeling the lump in my throat build more emotional pressure and eventually pushing up and up until it all starts pouring out of my eyes like faucets. What else could I do but throw my body on top of him and hold on tightly like I never wanted to let go? All the while thinking, why is this happening to my best friend in the whole world? The one living breathing creature who has never let me down. It’s so not fair. The poor little sausage didn’t know what to do so he licked my tears very gingerly.
By Sunday morning Pugsley became deeply depressed and all he would do is lay there and pout. He wouldn’t get off the couch. He became what I was feeling, very somber and sorrowful. He didn’t know I was crying for him. He didn’t know he was sick, he thought there was something wrong with me. I quickly realized that I had to shape up. I didn’t want him going into his surgery feeling down and out. I had to try to make him spunky and chipper again.
The minute I started faking happiness by squeaking toys and making playful pug voices, chasing him around the coffee table and playing hide and seek with toys, he perked right up and I slowly coaxed him out of his funk. That’s when I realized, no matter what happens next, I can’t live my life that way, in constant state of sadness and despair waiting for it to happen, because I only want his life to be happy and stress free.
The bad news is the grade 3 cancer is the most likely to recur and spread. Statistics show the typical dog that has this type of cancer and is treated with only surgery and no chemo/radiation or a combination of both, has an average lifespan of 6 months.
But there is nothing average or typical about Pugsley. There never has been. And I don’t believe he will leave me until I’ve made peace with it. Until he knows in his big beating pug heart that I will be okay without him.
I have made up my mind that I will do what I feel is best for him, not for me. That means I will not put him through any un natural treatments that will effect his quality of life. I’d do anything for that little sausage. Anything. If there is a pill that doesn’t make him sick or holistic treatments I need to investigate, I will spare no expense. But right now it’s all about making him as happy and comfortable as he can be.
I’ve taken the day off today to care for Pugsley after his surgery. He was so drugged up last night he didn’t sleep until 3:00am. He just sort of rocked back and forth in a morphine stupor. Today he woke up feeling better, I have to put warm compresses on his side every couple hours where lump # 2 was removed so it doesn’t fill up with fluid and require a drain. His appetite is strong and he’s begging for chew sticks. All good signs.
Thank you for the outpouring of love, letters, calls, stopping by, prayers, advice and kindness. It is true what they say in times like this you know who your friends are, you know who cares. It puts everything else into perspective too and you realize how the big dramas of yesterday have suddenly become so insignificant today.
It was the worst possible news. News I have feared, news I have dreaded. News that still seems like it isn’t possible. It’s hard for me to even type out the words because once I write them and click publish, then it's real and I don't want it to be real. But it is. My beloved Pugsley has Mast Cell cancer, grade 3. The worst kind. The aggressive dangerous kind that is most likely to recur and metastasize.
The biopsy of the lump showed that the bad cells extended beyond the margins of the area that was removed. The treatment for this type of thing is to perform an agressive surgery to have a larger piece of the area removed even taking off healthy skin to make sure they get all the possible bad cells that could have spread.
Upon further examination we also found a suspicious lump on his side that they will also want to remove.
The best possible chance to keep this thing from spreading after the surgeries would be chemo or radiation. I hear Chemo is a lot of pain and stress and side effects to medicine that can make it feel worse than the actual disease. I don’t want to do that to him. I also hear it’s not that effective against Mast Cell tumors, so I could put him through all of that and it wouldn’t work anyway. It sounds like I'll have some hard decisions to make.
The vet did do an X-ray to check if anything could be seen internally and it didn't show anything abnormal. They are running a panel of blood work and will do a "Buffy coat smear" which might show if the cells have entered the blood stream. If that is the case, it would be very bad and they would most likely recommend not doing surgery at all because it would be too advanced. If the tests are clear, they will proceed with surgery on Monday and hope for the best possible outcome.
They are calling the prognosis "guarded".
The hardest part is trying to keep my spirits up for Pugsley. We are so bonded that he picks up on my every mood and emotion and they effect him. I’ve been crying a lot and he’s been licking my tears. I'm trying not to freak him out so he doesn't get sad and nervous. I have to try to be strong for him, and I will. I want his remaining time with me to be happy and as stress free as possible. I have to hope the phone doesn’t ring today with even worse news on the blood test results. After that, it’s one day at a time and as many bully sticks as his little heart desires.
Please send some prayers and good thoughts for Pugsley.
I’ll post another update when I know more..
I just got Pugsley home from his lumpectomy surgery. He was given the canine equivalent to laughing gas. Now he’s walking around stoned in a daze bumping into things, bowlegged. I try not to laugh at him or laugh at all. He sailed through the surgery but we aren’t quite out of the woods yet, it’s ten more days for biopsy results and the pain and agony of not knowing. This is old hat for us, surgery number eight to be exact when you count the neuter, intestinal blockage surgeries, entropion surgery, and the other lump removals. But it never makes it any easier.
There is always the danger of putting any dog under anesthesia, but it’s particularly more worrisome for pugs and other brachecephalic breeds due to their challenged respiratory system and short snouts. It’s an additional danger to put a senior dog under. I didn’t intend to have to drop Pugsley off for a surgery Saturday morning. The veterinarian told me 2 months earlier if the lump starts bothering Pugsley or turns red and starts to bleed, I can bring him back and they can probably just take it off in the office while I wait. That was before this thing took on a life of its own becoming a sizable entity of large, ugly, and scabby.
At 9:30am we were sitting in the waiting room, Pugsley was shaking and quivering in a full body tremble. The other pet owners were coming over to us at the sad display, “Awwwwww, what’s wrong with him is he sick or scared?” “No he’s just scared, he’s been here before and knows bad things happen when I leave him here.” They wanted to pet him and whisper sweet nothings he looked so scared. I continued to console, telling him that he wouldn’t have to stay this time. But I was wrong. The vet called us in and immediately agreed the growth has to come off. He offered to do the surgery then and there because “it’s me”. Yes, I have earned frequent flyer miles and special privileges at the animal clinic. Before I knew it the Dr. was whisking him away after I had been assuaging Pugsley that I wouldn’t leave him there. I only had time enough to grab his gray muzzle squishing a gaggle of wrinkles together with my thumb and forefinger into a soft pucker, giving him a quick smooch on the lips. He gave me a cold hard frightened look that said it all, “Liar.” The vet told me I could come back at 5:00 to pick him up.
Seven hours, he was only out of the house for seven hours and I didn’t know what to do with myself. It felt like one of my limbs had been cut off. It still smelled like him, I still felt his presence but he wasn’t there like a shadow at my feet following my every move not wanting to miss a thing due to his quizzical nature that I so adore. It was weird. That look he gave me kept flashing into my head along with the worse case scenarios. What if they give him too much gas? What if his heart gives out on the table and this is the surgery that does him in? What if they use a tube and it damages his trachea after I made it clear he’s only to receive the Isoflorene gas which is much easier tolerated and less intrusive. What if the lump comes off and they realize it’s not just a fatty old age tumor, what if it’s the big C? It just happened to Tammy and Norman. Could we be next? I’m not ready for any of that.
I busied myself with things to do around the house, cleaning so he’d have a neat space to come home to, building him a little fort of comforts. I broke out a new throw quilt and tucked it into the white leather couch with an assortment of miscellaneous toys hand selected by me and propped up on the blanket where I knew upon coming home sore and disoriented, he would have a special nest to rest his chin. I chose carefully from the overflowing box of stuffed animals. His rat, ugly toy, flutter bug, and a stick in case he got the urge to chew.
Back in the waiting room at 5:00 sharp and it was silent. The office was closed and everyone went home save for the lone receptionist and animal caretaker who stayed just to care for Pugsley. I started talking with her asking how he did. As soon as he heard my voice, I could hear him whimpering from the back room and then they brought him out, the poor little sausage. Shaved in two different places so you could see his pinkish skin in places where its usually tan. He proceeded to snub me for the next 10 minutes, letting out painful little whimpers that I sense were more about emotional pain that physical pain.
Here is the part that always astounds me. Every time Pugsley goes through something like this and I write him off as old and frail and not able to handle it, he shocks me. I get him home and he’s been a ball of fire! He jumps he leaps and bounds upstairs, he twists and turns at the dogs on television and I worry that he will rip his stitches out. He begs for food and special treats that he thinks he has earned from the turmoil he’s had to endure. He doesn’t see the surgeries or sickness as a reason to be mopey or depressed, he sees them as a reason to get special treats and lavish human attention. He doesn’t sleep even though his ailing body wants to, he fights it for as long as possible because he doesn’t want to miss a thing. Not a move that I might make without him, not a crumb that might drop on the floor and he could scarf up. He’s a fighter that’s what he is, spurred along by his exorbitant greed and lust for life. He is a very saucy, feisty, resilient pug! He bounces back from every little curveball that life seems to throw him. He has this strong commanding spirit that powers him through things that should wipe him out. It’s Sunday night and he’s finally asleep, legs twitching uncontrollably in a deep slumber. I try to lay still like a mummy because I know the minute I move my big toe, he will jump up and run to his food bowl, expecting to be served.
I’m getting kind of concerned. Two months ago I had Pugsley at the vet and asked the Doc to look at this little lump on his upper left front leg. The vet said he was sure it was nothing, not too deep and that he could probably lop it off during a routine office visit if it started to bother him . Now I’m noticing though that its growing bigger and redder and uglier by the day.
It’s such a worry with these senior loves. They are so sweet and cuddly and sleepy all the time and unfortunately always prone to these old age lumps and bumps that give me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think I’ll have to take him back in for a second look. Maybe they can lance it off right there with a local anesthetic. Wish Pugsley luck!
Pugsley told me it wasn't fair that I got to do a Lori quiz and he didn't get one. So today, lets see how well you know the pug. Take a long look into those deep soulful eyes and then take the Pugsley Quiz.
He's a Yankee Doodle Boy!
Right after I took this picture last night, I left the room for 2 minutes and came back to find Pugsley had stolen my bag of Chinese food and broken into the pint of Pork Fried Rice I’d left on the coffee table. He ate ¾ of it by the time I got back. Now of course I am spending my 4th of July freaking out because onions are poisonous to dogs. Bad Sausage. Bad.
Pugsley had his annual check up at the vet this morning. It was all good news.
1) He didn’t need shots because the rabies and distemper now last for 3 years and he just had them in 2005.
2) The lump on his leg that I found and didn’t tell anyone about but have secretly been worrying over turned out to just be an age wart, doesn’t even need to be removed.
3) His heart and lungs are still going strong.
4) His fecal exam, Lymes check and heartworm were all negativo.
5) He got his nails trimmed and anal sacs emptied at a complimentary no charge!
6) His teeth look good and don’t need to be cleaned.
7) Now that I have pet insurance, I can submit a claim for the bill and wait for a check in the mail. Giddy up! We just received his insurance card the other day..
There was one minor thing, he weighs 26.5 pounds which is too big for him, so he does need to go on a diet. The sausage is not too happy about this development.
Now I'm off to a weekend of catching up with old friends, hanging with the fam on Sunday, then I'm in the city for work on Monday. Have a nice weekend and Happy Fathers Day to all the Dad's out there!
Pugsley has a new nickname. From henceforth he shall be referred to as..... my little Fig Newton.
Doesn’t he look like a Fig Newton?
Pugsley is so delicious and yummy that I think of him in terms of food. He has these juicy ham hocks and chicken legs in the front and drumsticks in the back. And his little pink belly and curly tail reminds me of a piglet so I like to call him Puglet. I won't even get into his freakishly human expressive face that sometimes makes me forget he is canine. At the end of each night he sits and waits for me to pick him up off the couch and carry him into the bedroom like a king to his throne, and I oblige. In fact it’s my favorite part of the day. And when we wake in the morning and I lean over for a kiss, he smells like a giant corn chip and it always starts my day out with a smile. I could eat him up I Love him so. My Pork Chop, My Butter Ball, My Sausage.. it's pure organic Love. What I imagine a mother must feel for her child.
Just when I think I can't love him anymore, he will flash me a look or do something so silly or way too brilliant and tricky for a dog mind to conceive and I am putty in his paws all over again. I'll study his face and graying whiskers recalling vividly how he looked so long ago and I can't believe its been almost 12 years and how sad but sweet it is in the winter of his life. After everything we've been through, still together. Forget about cloning and cord storing and stem cells -- they need to invent a pill or something to make dog’s live longer lives. I will never have enough time with him. Never.
Easter is a special day for us. It's the day 4 years ago that I almost lost him. When he had the mini beanie baby stuck in his small intestine and nothing could go in or come out except vomit, a lot of vomit. Green septic bile vomit that was pouring out of his nose the poor baby was so sick and backed up. Fucking vets didn't know jack, treating him for Pancreatic disease and stomach infections for a year misdiagnosing until he was hours away from death on Easter Sunday 2002 with nary a VMD in sight.
It was the one year in all of my mortal earthly existence that I didn't watch the Ten Commandments from start to finish. I was too busy trying to keep Pugsley alive. That meant staying up with him all night whispering calm, soothing words so he wouldn’t give up. I still believe that made all the difference and why he's here with me today. It meant holding his IV bag and adjusting the needle every time he moved so the drip could get into his veins and keep him from dehydrating and going into shock which he probably wouldn't have come out of. It meant trying to get him to sleep while he was in so much pain that his entire body was trembling and praying to Jesus Christ on the day of his resurrection that Pugsley would wake the next morning. And he did. It was a miracle that he did.
This Easter after all the wedding hoopla, I'm looking forward to a quiet evening on the couch with a puggy and his mama. With Charleton Heston, Yul Brenner, and Anne Baxter, the way it ought to be. It’s our own little celebration of being healthy and content, the crosses we bear, the struggles and plagues we’ve survived and all that has passed over. So let it be written. So let it be done.
A Very Happy Easter and Passover to all our friends.
It's amazing I'm able to get any writing done the way he likes to sprawl himself all over me...
So I was sick all weekend, down for the count with some nasty stomach ailment wondering if I got the bird flu from my turkey. I’m guessing not since I’m the only one who got sick. My best guess is the non pasturized Apple Cider that I drank way too much of. Basically I just hung out on the couch with my heating pad watching the Good Times marathon on TV Land. I managed to get about 90% of my Christmas shopping done online. Turns out being stuck home sick was actually very productive for me. Got to Love the internet. In between shopping and trips to the Loo, I also rearranged my small living room to make enough space for my Christmas tree that will soon be arriving. I am thinking a Blue Spruce this year.
Another holiday tradition is when I go through Pugsley’s overflowing toy box and collect all the toys that he never plays with. I take them to the local Animal Shelter for the homeless dogs who don’t have any toys of their own. It also makes room for all the new toys the spoiled pug will get. Well, he spent the better part of the weekend pouting next to his "less full" toy box, flashing me dirty looks. He then proceeded to pull out every single toy from his basket taking inventory, letting me know he was neither pleased nor amused. He made me feel guilty. Like the Grinch who stole Pug-mas. Even though he hasn’t touched them in over a year. Oh, he’s very greedy. He also had bad gas from all the turnip and turkey that he ate.
Pugsley likes to play dress up too!
Keep Reading » » »
« « « Finished Reading
Baby, you are perfect for me. You don't care if I sleep until 10:00 am on the weekends, you don’t think I am being lazy or wasting the day. You’re happy just to be curled up into me like a spoon feeling the warmth of our bodies mesh and breathe in unison. I don’t even mind when you snore or when you blow your bad breath on me. Because the truth is, I would rather be in bed with you than anywhere else, in our little nest of love and smells. Your scent and my scent mixed together makes the most wonderful smell in the world. Would that I could bottle it up into a fragrance spray, carry it with me and wear it throughout the day when we have to be apart. So I can always have your scent on me…my comfort, my home. You are my True North because my Love for you is constant as the Northern star. Nothing and nobody will ever replace the spot you have wiggled and woven deep into my being.
Love of my life, you've captured me, enraptured me, stolen my heart. Turned me into a lovesick helpless fool whenever I am around you speaking in different tones and made up languages. You are so handsome and dignified with your pepper gray hair and gallant stride. You are one I could never tire of. You are the one I want to meet on the other side and be restored to eternal youth with. Your dark eyes are so full of soul and longing for me that they penetrate my core in your every sweet glance and gentle kiss. In all the ways you Love me and need me. You are the perfect male. You make me laugh out loud, lick away my salty tears, you give me enough space so you don’t smother me. But when you need me you gently nudge to let me know you’re vulnerable too. I gladly oblige with a sweet muzzle on your chest and a soft caress on your belly. I kiss your feet before you fall asleep because I Love the way they smell. The way you seem so at peace when I whisper your name.
Keep Reading » » »
You had me at Woof.
« « « Finished Reading
So yea, it's been a crappy week so far for reasons I won't launch into here and bore you to death with. Instead of Belly aching about it I am moving forward and focusing on what's really important anyway and what makes me happy. My Boy.
Last night I came home after a rather vile day and Pugsley did something so unbelievably funny that it just snapped me right out of my funk. He actually made me drop to my knees and laugh out loud. Then in bed last night he snuggled up so close to me, my right arm was extended out to his side as I spooned him, he did something extraordinary. Something he has never done in the 11 years we have been together. He curled up his right paw and he very gingerly placed it onto my open palm. I gently closed it and we held hands/paws until I fell asleep. That was all I needed.
Hmmmm, why can't I find a guy who knows just as silently and instinctively what I need and when I need it? The same way that Pugsley seems to know..
On a related note, I caved and finally broke down and bought a new Blog camera. What can I say I am as addicted to pictures as I am words. One guess what my first subject was?
Keep Reading » » »
Click the Image to make it bigger
« « « Finished Reading
Pugsley was really gross last night. The poor little fellow is having some digestive issues. I got a call at work from his Nanny informing me that he was hunched over in stomach pain all day with really bad gas and had been eating a lot of grass. Dogs do this when their stomachs are upset to try to add roughage to their diet. He gets gastritis attacks like a lot of older pugs do. I come home and his gas was so potent I almost started dry heaving. I take him outside and he eliminates, it’s half formed and half runny. A solid piece was left hanging, it was stuck there and he couldn’t squeeze it out on his own. I had no choice but to grab a leaf and pull it out of his ass. I looked and there was some grass poking out, so I had to remove that too! About an hour later, he pukes, green bile on my carpet and he started licking it. I got the resolve out and cleaned up the mess. About 15 minutes later and he puked again. This time a giant gob of green stuff came out in a pile and before I could sprint for the paper towels and Resolve carpet cleaner again, he started eating it!!! He Swallowed. By 9:00 pm he was curled up in a little ball at the foot of my bed looking very sorrowful. It’s not easy being a pug.
On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your fur
And Golden starlight in your eyes so Blue!
That is why, all the girls in town
Follow you, all around!
Just like me, they long to be Close to You!!!
Keep Reading » » »
That's one of the songs I always sing to Pugsley, especially on his birthday....Since I share all of my other embarrasing life moments here, you might as well know that about me too. So there it is, I sing the Carpenters and other cheesy love songs to my dog.
So this morning my mom commented how she can’t believe Pugsley is 11 years old and asked if his personality has changed much from when he was a puppy. I replied, “Not really, he’s still stubborn, ornery, demanding, and sweet when he wants to be!" and then it hit me "OMG, I just described myself!!” “Yes, you did!!” she agreed with a chuckle. And she ought to know....
It's true, he is a chip off the old block. I could easily launch into a humorous Blog about how dog’s personalities mirror their people, but I’ll save that for another time. Today, it’s about Pugsley, my best bud on his 11th Birthday!! Here’s how the day unfolded..
Unfortunately Pugsley wasn't feeling too well after an incident on Saturday. I left a new pack of chewing gum on the coffee table, stepped out of the room for 5 minutes and came back only to find the pug had unwrapped it and was chewing away at my gum (I was half expecting him to start blowing bubbles because he's just about crafty enough to do it). Good thing it was sugarfree. He managed to get a couple pieces as well as the aluminum wrap. He's going through some sort of phase where he's into unwrapping my things. Needless to say his stomach was not in the best shape for his B.day today. Between that and the heat and humidity, it was a good day to just be lazy and skulk around indoors. Still, he managed to have fun opening and playing with his new toys, taking some power naps in between and he's been getting plenty of BR's all day long. For dinner he had some of his favorite baby food, Turkey with veggies mixed with some of his regular food and I gave him a couple tastes of my grilled beef tenderloin. Now we are both belly up on the couch laying foot to paw. I Love my crazy Pug :)
Playing with his new stuffed Iguana
Unwrapping a nylabone for healthy pug gums
Every boy should have a football....which after tackling for a couple minutes he proceeded to use as a pillow :)
Happy Birthday Pugsley!!
« « « Finished Reading
So I come home from work exhausted with bad cramps but I still manage to get in a 1/2 hour on the treadmill. Sometimes it helps. Pugsley HATES it when I workout because I'm not paying attention to him. It's suspiciously quiet in the other room and suddenly I just know he is up to no good....So I step into the bathroom and find THIS!
See what I mean about him pushing my buttons, he can be VERY Spiteful. Luckily none of them were used!!!
There is an old saying that goes "Pugs are living proof that God has a sense of humor" I think it must be true....
In order to really understand my connection with Pugsley, we have to go back to the year 1994. We had just lost my beloved grandfather after a long-suffering battle with cancer. It was the first time anyone I loved had passed on. Although wonderful family and friends surrounded me, I was terribly sad and feeling very much alone in the world. I didn't know it at the time, but according to his AKC papers, Pugsley was born in McCook, Nebraska on the very same day that my Papa passed.
Keep Reading » » »
About 2 months later, I was at the mall on a random Sunday when purchasing a puppy was the last thing on my mind. That was until I meandered into the pet store to check out the puppies as I had numerous times before. As my eyes scanned the 20 or so cages encased behind a plexiglass wall, I took note of all the sad, sickly looking dogs who seemed to have not an ounce of hope or spirit left in their fragile little bodies. I was already in a deeply saddened state and decided I could take no more of the despair in their sweet little eyes and began making my way out of the pet store. On my way out, my eyes scanned one more time on the shiny rows of what seemed like metal jail cells. My eyes happened upon this one regal little soul who seemed to stand out from all the others.
The sign on the cage said Male Pug - Apricot/Fawn - 9 weeks old - $699.00. Back then pugs were not as popular or fashionable a breed as they are today, I had never seen one before and was immediately struck by his cuteness, but there was something more to him than just cuteness. While all the other animals lay sickly, dull, and lifeless, this one little 8-pound pug sat up tall and proud. He was very curious and looking all around. His ears were perked up and he had a look on his face that seemed to say, "I don't belong here, please take me home."
The clerk saw me admiring the male pug and asked if I would like to hold him. Next thing I know, I am in a little sitting room with him and we are playing a game where he unties my shoelaces, I tie them back up, and he unties them again. He must have done this about 10 times while he continued to lay on all his pug charms and wiles. He seemed to know that I was putty in his paws, and I seemed to know that we belonged together and could not bare to let him stay in that place one more day.
At the time, I was living in a townhouse with Mike, my then boyfriend. I informed him that I was taking male pug home that night and he tried to talk me out of it. He pointed out that we weren’t prepared for a puppy, knew nothing about the pug breed, and did not know if the landlord would even allow us to have a dog in our condo. I never would have imagined I could have gotten so attached to little boy pug in about 30 minutes time. I was listening to Mike cautiously discourage any rash decisions, I was really trying to hear him out when suddenly I got very emotional (not like me at all) and my eyes welled up in tears, choking them back in a very shaky voice I said, “ But. I. Need. To. Have. This. Dog." Never having seen me like this before in 3 years, Mike knew I was serious. He comforted me and we began to form a plan.
It was a Sunday evening around 5:00 pm; the mall was closing at 9:00. We lived 45 minutes away and would have to travel there to get the number of the landlord to call and ask him if having a dog was okay. I left a deposit on Pugsley so nobody else could buy him while we were gone. I went over to Barnes and Noble and headed straight for the Pet section. Pulled out a book on Pug health, care, behavior, sat and read the important parts cover to cover. Everything I read was telling me a Pug was the perfect breed of dog for me.
Pugs are lap dogs; they are small but sturdy, lovable but stubborn, even-tempered, exhibiting stability, playfulness, great charm, dignity, and an outgoing, loving disposition. They require minimal exercise and grooming. Holy cow, this dog was MADE for me!! We made the long trek back up north to the condo and ransacked drawers and filing cabinets searching for a copy of the lease with the landlord’s phone number, we found it! I had Mike call and ask ASAP, I couldn’t bare the suspense! I sat on the floor with my eyes squinted and head in my hands preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. It was one of those conversations you hear only one side of and have no idea what’s going on! “Uh huh, Mmm Hmm, ok.” Finally I heard Mike say,” Well that’s great news because she really has her heart set on this dog!!!” No sooner did he hang up the phone and we were back in the car driving 45 minutes South, again.
By the time we got there the mall would be closing in about ½ an hour. I rifled through the pet store picking up everything I would need for Pugsley. Collar, leash, dog food, squeak toys, chew bones, brush, puppy shampoo, film for the camera to document every cute puppy thing that was about to take place! Then the moment I had waited for came when they brought him out and placed him in my arms. I melted and I think he knew he was going home. As much as Mike was trying to play tough guy, he was totally smitten too insisting that he carry Pugsley out of the mall, children stopping along the way to pet and ogle him. He also insisted that I drive home while Pugsley sat on his lap. I resisted at first but in the end was glad I drove because it turns out that was the one and only time Pugs ever peed on anyone. He he he!!
We got him home that night and fashioned a makeshift dog house by taking a huge cardboard box, cutting out a doorway and filling it up with blankets and toys for him to sleep there.
Within three minutes of us being in bed, we heard the most gut-wrenching, blood curdling howling and whimpering you could ever imagine coming from the living room. Plan B:, we took the box and Pugsley upstairs in the bedroom and put it on the floor next to my side of the bed. Lights were off and spine tingling howls started up again. Plan C: I turned on the lights, moved the box closer to me, put an alarm clock in the box with him thinking the ticking would remind him of his mother’s heartbeat. Two minutes later I heard a ruckus, turned on the lights and all I could see was a little pug head bobbing up and down in and out of the box as he was jumping and scratching, trying to make it up to the bed. I admired his determination. I finally caved, grabbed onto the little monster and let him. He circled around the bed a couple times making his way up to my head. He plopped down on my pillow totally exhausted; we both let out a big sigh, and slept cheek to cheek all night. He hasn’t spent one night off the bed since.
They say when one life ends, another one begins. Some people reading this may not believe that or understand how I could compare the life of a human to the life of an animal. But I see it as a soul-life, when one soul moves on, another one moves in. Maybe it is a Pug-thing; I have read many stories and spoken to other pug owners who also hold their funny little friends in such high regard as members of their family. Pugs, after all were bred with the sole purpose of providing companionship and amusement to ancient royal families. I'm not really sure, I only know the joy that he has brought into my life.
Also, Pugsley has turned out to be the perfect dog for me. He sleeps as late as I want to sleep, needs minimal exercise, and his personality matches mine almost frighteningly. We are both fiercely loyal and disturbingly stubborn. He is a clown that makes me laugh everyday. He sits quietly by my side when I am sick. He licks my tears away when I cry. He has seen me through all the good times, holidays, bad times, break-ups, moves, life-changes, illnesses, and deaths in my family over the last ten years.
He is my best buddy and acts more human than most people I know. For this, I feel that he deserves to have the best life and most love that I can give him. Now that I’m involved in Pug Rescue work, I understand the reality of pet store dogs coming from puppy mills and breeding farms. I’ve learned first hand about the stacks and stacks of puppies they have stuck in overcrowded, freezing cold, or overheated warehouses all over the country just waiting to be sold at the very same type of pet stores where I bought Pugsley. The dogs that make it into the pet shops are the lucky ones. When people ask me if I rescued Pugsley, I always say, “Yes, I rescued him from the mall.” Knowing now where he came from, that’s how I feel, but I really feel like we rescued each other. The rest as they say is history.
****I have uploaded some of Pugsley's puppy pictures in his Gallery and will be adding more soon****
« « « Finished Reading
If you can STAND to because they are so CUTE you just want to wake them up and give them kisses and scritches all over!!!
Some of you may not know this about me but I paint.
Pugsley inspired this one I like to call Valentine Pug.
Keep Reading » » »
A Poem for Pugsley
Puggy puggy, with your big brown eyes
Gazing up at me like floating saucers
In the calm blue night
Curly tail wagging
Doing circles of excitement
Just to see me when I come home
Sweet and affectionate
Loyal and loving
Chin resting on my leg
Acting playful to cheer me up
After a long, hard day
We’ve been through a lot together,
You and me
Puggy pouts, Puggy pouts
Why do you look so sad?
Wrinkles furrowing your soft full brow
I give you everything in the world
And you still want more
I find that endearing
One of your many charms
I’d do anything to protect you
to Keep you from harm
You’re everything I wished for
In a little companion of my own
I still can remember
the day I brought you home
Now that you’re of an older age
and your black mask has turned to gray
You’re even more beautiful to me
More handsome and wise
Like an ancient pug-sage
Bigger in size
I’m glad to take you through
Your golden years
and don’t ever want to lose you
It's one of my biggest fears
I know that will be my darkest day
So I long to tell you now
the joy you give me
Is here to stay
You don’t get around
As well as you used to
You go slower up the stairs
I can see it’s an effort
When you lay down at night
To rest your aging bones
And in the morning when you wake
I can tell it hurts
And my insides ache
Our once long walks
Are now little spurts..
You still enjoy the car rides
Still like to play hard
Just not as long as we used to
We don’t go very far
Now I see you struggling
to try and stay awake
Because you don't want to miss anything
That curious nature,
I so adore
But you need more naps now
I love to watch you sleep and
Listen to you snore
It brings me peace
I wonder what you dream
I hope it’s that you’re happy
And you’re thinking of me
Even with a fever of 103
I shovel you trenches deep in the snow
Just so you're comfortable
And have somewhere to "go"
When It’s cold outside, I wrap you
In a blanket and stroke your velvety ears
Give you belly rubs and wipe away
Your brown-stained tears
Each night when I tuck you in
I make sure you have a toy
Where you like to lay your head
as I kiss you goodnight and whisper,
"You’re such a good boy..”
I wake in the wee hours
to feel your warm little body
Curled up behind my knees
My favorite smell in the world
Those stinky Fritos feet
And now you're hearing
Doesn't work so well
When I come home sometimes
You only hear me if I yell
Your gait is more wobbly
From the pain shooting up your spine
But in my eyes, you still look like a puppy
And you’ll always be mine.
« « « Finished Reading
Or in a Darling new Fleece Coat Compliments of the lovely Robyn over at Bark Avenue who makes these adorable and cozy pug-coats by hand. The detail is exceptional with a little snowflake button on the collar and a slit in the back for the harness loop to go through. Made just for pugs and other barrel-chested breeds. Pugsley likes the velcro closure because it slips right on over his head. This should keep him warm and toasty this winter:
My Handsome Pug Model
Yes, Pugsley really does have his own Fire Hydrant in the backyard
Button and Stitching Detail
My True Love gave to me
A Puggie and his Christmas Tree
Keep Reading » » »
So....this is where I start posting cute Holiday pics of Pugsley :) More to come..
Pugsley and his pal Yukon Cornelius
"Lookie what he can do!"
« « « Finished Reading
I received a package of Dog Christmas toys today from jbpet.com and decided Pugsley needed to have one a little early. Here he is playing with his new toy.
Keep Reading » » »
When I came home from work tonite, I was so happy to see my Puggy feeling better! I'm glad to report he is laying down again which means the terrible neck pain is back in remission :)
Keep Reading » » »
Enjoying his new Christmas Pillow fit for a King
Acupuncture Endorphins have kicked in
« « « Finished Reading
Last night was a grueling drive of 3 hours round trip in the dark when my eyes were already fried from staring at my computer for the 8 hours before. At times I really didn't think I could do it. I kept wanting to pull over on the side of the road and close my eyes for just 10 minutes, But it had to be done so I pressed on. Pugsley had a new Dr. this time and he was very restless. Because he was spasming so badly the needles kept popping out of his neck and back but he tolerated it like the little trooper he is.
Keep Reading » » »
We got home and crashed, slept like we haven't slept in years, THANK GOD we slept! The dreaded alarm sounded way too soon, and I woke up to find that we had been spooning in our sleep and the first smell of the morning was Pugsley's Fritos feet, which reminded me that somehow everything was ok with the world again if only for the moment.
When I took Pugsley for his walk this morning, he was still walking very slowly and hobbling around, back arched up, still in pain, and he didn't want to stay outside walking so we came right back in. I kissed him and had to leave for work. I felt bad leaving but I reminded him that he needed his rest to get better and that Mama needed to go to work to earn money to keep him swaddled in toys and treats, not to mention the vet bills, Oh the vet bills.
I sit at my desk and watch for glimpses of him on Pugcam1. He looks like he doesn't want to lay down again. sigh.
« « « Finished Reading
In between the hangovers, and horses, and halloween (oh my) I managed to whip up mom's favorite meal for Sunday dinner. Roast Beef with mashed potatoes, gravy, and all the fixin's...mmmm and then the candy, Oh! the sweet candy...
Pugsley sits on the Front Stoop waiting to greet trick or treaters
Keep Reading » » »
Britney one day, Scary Ring Girl the next with Puggy Goblin
Here is Pugsley in his Glow-in-the-Dark Skeleton Shirt
They came in droves
Look how Spooky we are...
« « « Finished Reading
Pugsley likes to use his Purple Froggy as a pillow
He alternates between using other toys as pillows too
Another Vampire tick found it's way to Pugsley's neck tonite.
Keep Reading » » »
I am so NOT a mean person even though sometimes I wish I could be when the situation calls for it but I especially have a big heart for animals. I absolutely hate it when any kind of animal, bird, or even bug gets hurt. I am the girl who cries when a squirrel runs out in the road and gets hit by a car, it will ruin my entire day. I will wallow about how overpopulation and land development is forcing all of the wildlife out of their homes and into the streets.
I don’t believe in killing any living things, or even in breaking branches off of trees, I don’t think we should upset the delicate balance of nature or the natural order of things. I don’t even kill spiders in my house because I see the value in them. I understand that they have a purpose and it’s good to have them around to kill other insects that could bite me or Pugsley.
There is one particular insect however; that I draw the line at, I’m talking about Ticks. These little vampires that in these parts can cause the debilitating Lymes Disease, which Pugsley had once before and became very sick from. I don’t think these bloodsuckers have ANY purpose whatsoever other than to be nasty little parasitic predators…
Keep Reading » » »
So, after the Pug Party this weekend, Pugsley was totally wiped out…we were kicking back on the couch and I noticed a big bump over his left eyelid and upon further inspection I saw that it was a tick sucking the blood right out of his little head! Now, Pugsley has never been one to let me do things to him, especially things that involve me touching his face or his feet. Because it’s just Pugsley and me now, nobody to help hold him down anymore, it can be quite a challenge performing these emergency medical operations myself…. So, after about 20 minutes of struggling to pull out the tick with my fingers and Pugsley squirming around like a slippery little sausage and I was so frustrated that I had worked up a sweat and he was stressed out from trying to fight me off…I decided I needed to get serious.
I got him up on the couch and used the weight of my body to press him up against the backing while I wrapped my left arm around his burly little chest to block his paws from pushing my hands out of the way. Armed with tweezers in Right hand, I managed to push away his fur from the bump and for as much as I hate killing any living thing, I did take great pleasure in ripping out this blood sucking tick from Pugsleys eyelid in one swift, triumphant pluck! It wasn't easy holding a wriggling pug down with one hand and tweezing with the other, while trying to make sure I didn’t poke his eyeball or hurt his neck or the unstable disc in is back, but I did it and OUT came the dreaded tick engorged with my pugs blood. His little tick legs were still thrashing when I pulled him out, I held the tick up to Pugsley’s nose to let him sniff it, gave him a treat, then we flushed that nasty tick down the bowl without one bit of remorse.
« « « Finished Reading
Every October my Church has the annual Blessing of the Animals. Pugsley was sprinkled with Holy water and prayed over.
"Pugsley may you be blessed in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May you and Lori enjoy life together and find joy with the God who created you."
Here is Pugsley waiting to be blessed by the Franciscan Friars
Here we are with the Friars after Pugsley received his blessing
Pugsley has been feeling a lot better! His staples and stitches will come out in another couple of days. I decided to stay home this weekend and relax with my puglet. We rented Lord of the Rings Return of the King and Puggy is so glad I'll be hanging home with him tonite. I'm happy I got my new juicy couture pink sweats and found matching sandals on sale for $10.00 today!! It's the little things in life you know?
Well, I'm happy to report that Pugsley has been doing a lot better. Today I noticed his belly is not as red and bruised. He had some regular bursts of energy and even played with his toys a little! He doesn't want to be alone at all (more than normal)and he has been very, very sleepy. But the more he sleeps, the stronger he gets...Here is my spoiled puglet resting comfortably in his bed with some of his favorite toys that he likes to use for pillows;-)
Here is Pugsley's Frankenstein belly 3 days after his surgery staples and all!! My poor baby, it hurts me to look at his stomach but he's taking it all in stride. I think it hurts me more than it hurts him.
I picked Pugsley up at 6:00pm and he is looking and acting better than I imagined. He ate some baby food, which is the only thing he can have for the next 5 days and now he is pretty much wiped out. We are going to bed early tonite as we are both totally exhausted. I'll be posting pics here to keep track of his recovery and for all of his many fans to see how he is coming along. Pugsley says thanks to everyone who has been so nice to keep him in your thoughts and prayers, they worked!!
Here is Pugsley back home on Day 1. I don't know about you, but I think he is contemplating whether that pile of cat poopie with the acorn in it was really worth all of this. Then again, he didn't learn his lesson after the beanie baby incident....
I went to visit Pugsley at the animal hospital yesterday afternoon. They said he was doing well physically but seems to be a bit depressed. He did manage to eat some baby food for me during our visit but he looked very forlorn sitting in his cage with that big frankenstein cut on his little pink belly, looking up at me with his big hazy globular eyes like, "why can't I come home with you mama?". It was hard to leave him there but I brought one of his favorite toys that he likes to use for a pillow when he sleeps. If all goes well, I should be able to pick him up after work tonite..fingers and paws crossed...
I can't even believe this is happening again!!!2 years ago, Pugsley and I both barely survived the Beanie Baby Incident where he had eaten a small beanie baby toy that got lodged in his small intestine and ruptured so he had to have emergency surgery. So, for the last couple weeks Pugsley hasn't been himself, not eating on schedule, stomach crampy, etc. and the last couple days he started with the vomitting. This morning the vomitting got worse so I ran him up to the vet. I had an appt an hour away so I left him there while they ran blood tests, and did a series of barrium xrays. I picked him up at 4:30 and took him home
Keep Reading » » »
The plan was to bring him back in the morning to do another xray and see if the barrium (dye that shows on films) had traveled or if not, it may be another blockage...BUT, no sooner did I get him home and I noticed he was acting the same way he did with the beanie baby. He would keep looking at his hind end like trying to tell me something was in there. And he kept kicking his legs back like he was trying to loosen something up. I paged the vet and told him what I thought. He reassured me it was ok to wait to morning b/c Pugsleys vitals were stable but he said I could page him at any hour of the night and he would meet me at the office. Luckily we both live only 5 minutes away. Pugsley started trembling really bad on his left side and just then the vet called back and said he took another look at the film and had the same feeling I had. So I met him at the office at 6:00pm and he did another xray. The barrium hadn't moved and my boy was in a lot of pain so we decided he should do emergency surgery then and there. The whole thing was surreal and seemed like a bad dream. About a 1/2 hour later the vet tech came out and said the Dr. pulled out an ACORN the size of a quarter that was lodged in Pugsleys small intestine!! Unbelievable...
I waited until he woke up from the anestheisa and they let me go back to see him. He was shaking a lot which is normal for coming out of anethesia and it was just awful to see him like that, but they had built him a nice fort with blankets and pillows and my put my t-shirt under his head so he could have my smell close to him. I'm still in shock that this happened again. Mom said it must have been when she walked him and he ate the cat poop, he ate it so quickly to be mischievous before she could stop him that he must have swallowed dirt and the acorn too. That was about 3 weeks ago when it all started. Here we thought he was having gastritis episode. They said I could go there tommorow afternoon and visit him, and maybe he can come home Monday morning if all goes well. Now I have my Dad and my Pugsley both recovering from surgeries and in a lot of pain. I'm lighting another candle tonite for both of them. Please send some good thoughts and prayers for Pugsley and Dad. I'm totally exhausted but I'll post an update soon....
Here it is, they said it cracked on the way out.
« « « Finished Reading
I went to my fourth acupuncture treatment yesterday. They are using electrical stimulators on me now. I wasn't quite sure at first what to make of it but I haven't had any bad painful episodes since I've been going. Plus I get a lot of attention and treats for being brave.
I'm most interested in smelling the grass outside of the doctors office. I could spend hours just smelling that grass, all the different dog smells are like heaven to me.
Mama uploaded some pictures of my session - just a small disclaimer that if you are squeemish, proceed with caution and keep in mind, I like it, I really like it....makes me feel goooooooood! As evident from the smirk on my face.
Saturday was my best Birthday ever (Click Birthday Link to see pics) filled with all my favorite things, toys and treats and quality time with Momma! First I went upstairs and opened presents (my favorite thing to do and something I'm very good at!). Later Momma made me some homeade Pug Crunchie treats in the shape of fire hydrants (another one of my favorites) while I watched and of course I had to sample some while they were still fresh out of the oven and warm , yum! After opening more presents I was a little pooped and needed a power nap, then I woke up while Momma was cleaning in the other room I thought I would be a little naughty so I put my paws up on the coffee table while she wasn't looking and I stole the bag filled with Pug Crunchies! I ate about 3 of them before Momma heard the plastic wrapper noise and came running in to stop me! After a day of overindulgence and the Frosty Paws ice cream cup I got for dessert, I ended up with a belly ache like the kids on Halloween get, but it was so worth it! My favorite toy I got was a blue octopus that has squeakers in every tentacle, it's soft and I use it as a pillow when I go to sleep.
The weather held up nicely this weekend and I did a lot of my favorite things – a trip to the salon, Shopping at Trader Joes, and Gardening. Saturday was my brothers birthday and he couldn’t leave his house because his dogs were sick so, me being the loyal sister that I am, packed up some food and movies, and headed over for a visit. We actually ended up watching the Concert for New York, which was done soon after 9/11 – it was pretty intense to go back to that time not so long ago when everyone was so rife with emotion and patriotism. The performances were amazing and we had our own little birthday party turned into something of a remembrance celebration. Sunday I attempted to go for a nature walk at my favorite spot, White Memorial Conservation Center, which is about 20 minutes from my house. My plan was to walk or run the wooden boardwalk that spans a couple miles through the marshes and swampland, abundant with wildlife and lush natural scenery…I was looking forward to seeing the turtles mating season again like last year. But, wouldn’t you know it when I got to the entrance of the center, police and fire trucks had blocked off the roads to and from for some big Road Race that was going on. I heard on the loud speakers driving by there were runners from Kenya and other far off places who had come here to run. I quickly shifted into plan B mode and stopped off at the nursery on the way home. Picked up some Echinacea coneflowers, ornamental grass, delphiniums, and Yarrow. Much to Pugsley’s delight I came home and he worked in the garden with me until we retired for an early evening of lounging and ended with the season premier of Six Feet Under which was ever so brilliant and intense. I couldn’t help be a little glad that they got rid of Lisa, I always thought Nate and Brenda were meant to be together like a sick and twisted version of Ross and Rachel or Carrie and Big only more real and less fluff, Got to Love Alan Ball!
Today was an awesome day, it started out like all others I was depressed and feeling the old seperation anxiety when momma left me to go to work this morning, but I could tell something was different this time. There was a flurry of activity in the house, last minute things they were getting ready. I found out late morning when the Nanny put me in her car and took me for a looong ride. We got to the destination place and it was Momma's work! I got to sniff all new nooks and crannies and then meet about 30 different people as they ooogled over how cute I am and pet me. But that wasn't even the best of it, they took me on another drive to a new Doggy Dr. who I'd never seen before.
I've been hearing his name mentioned for the last couple weeks, Dr. Schoen. I know Momma has read one of his books called "Kindred Spirits". I was leery and a bit apprehensive at first but as soon as he laid his healing hands on me and started massaging my neck, I knew it would be okay. He asked them a lot of questions about my medical history and sorted through my extensive records and Xrays. Within 15 minutes we had some good news, there was no nerve damage in my back, neck, or spine. Many of the Pugs that Dr. Schoen sees already have damaged nerves and can't walk...and he is able to help those poor puggies through his Holistic, Eastern-based medicine. Being that I descend from China, I am totally down with that and felt like we are finally on the right track.
After discussing my treatment options, they settled on dry and aqua acupuncture regimen, I liked this Dr. and had a good feeling about him. Before I knew it, he was sticking little pins in my head, neck, back, legs, Momma started laughing and said I looked liked Hellraiser. When he was finished he said that I would be asleep in five minutes. Momma LOL'ed and uttered a very smarmy "yeah right, we'll see". No sooner than I suddenly felt very calm and peaceful... within 4 minutes he was right, I was down on my belly and my eyes drew very heavy, so heavy I couldn't keep them open. I was in the "Zone". Momma was flashing the Nanny amazed looks and Nanny gave her 2 thumbs up as they both breathed a sigh of relief, this means I am a "strong responder". This was hopeful news for all of us.
After they took the needles out, Dr. Schoen gave me an 80% chance of recovery from my chronic pain through his acupuncture, herbal therapies, and other natural rememdies. Momma was thrilled to see the difference in me after only one treatment. So now I get to go once a week for the next 8 weeks and then once a month for maintenance. As we were leaving I saw Momma purchase a couple of squeaky toys but I was sooo relaxed that I wasn't really too interested in playing with them. Dr. Schoen also gave momma a copy of his Book, "Love, Miracles, and Animal Healing" he autographed it personally to Lori and Pugsley With Love and Miracles..........................