2016, The year I can’t wait to see end.

Warning:  This post is pretty much venting on my part.  The picture I chose has nothing to do with anything I said, but it was just too cute not to include!

On the minute chance that anyone noticed, yes, I did take down my rambling post from a few days ago. Note to self… Do not engage in blogging when utterly exhausted. 

Anyway, yes, it’s true.  I really cannot wait for this year to be over. With the U.S. election finally being over, I expect I’m not the only one.

Really America, what happened there?  Why on earth would you put that man in the White House?  These are of course rhetorical questions that I don’t expect, or want, anyone to answer.  What I do know is that some of my American friends and family are justifiably worried, especially those in the LGTB community.  And I’m worried for them.

Aside from the rambling post I left up briefly, it has been nearly a year since I’ve posted anything.  My plans for this blog haven’t gone as originally planned.  Part of the reason for that is the same reason I don’t blog under my name…real life drama that follows me online.

Speaking of which, on what world is it okay to attack your child’s chosen spouse every single damn time you talk to your offspring?  You don’t have to like or approve of your children’s choice in spouses, but you sure as hell can show some basic courtesy.

In other news, my world has been turned upside down this year…

In late February, we lost the last of our senior furbabies.  Aries has turned 15 about 6 weeks before we had to say goodbye.  His kidney disease, a common condition in older cats, progressed faster than expected.

Understand that until the day we had to euthanize Aries, I had never lived a single day of my entire existence – and I’m in the latter half of my 40s – without having at least one cat.  

This is a huge paradigm shift in my world and frankly, I hate it.  I’ve already had my life shrunk that of a hermit where the internet is my only regular connection to the outside world.  The single biggest factor that has seen me through so very much, especially through a lifetime of health issues, has been my pets. And now they are all gone.

We talk about getting another kitten or cat, insured of course, but for reasons I won’t bother going into, I doubt it will ever actually happen.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading.

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Trouble in Threes

So a couple days after my last post about sick furballs and stress, it would seem the third member of our elderly furry trio, was feeling a bit left out.  I swear, this time he managed this out of sheer jealousy at all the money not spent on him!

Aries, the rotund, bratty middle child who was doing just fine, waddles up to me one morning a few days after my last post about the other two, and stares at me.  Two inches from my face with his big eyes wide open.  Sort of.

His right eye is a little weepy, but nothing too odd.  No icky goo leaking out, it’s just a bit damp.  No biggie, he could have just irritated it with his paw or a dust bunny.  I reach up with a tissue and then I notice something odd.

The eyeball itself has morphed into a lizard type eyeball, while the left side is perfectly feline.  What the…???

Okay, he might be named after an ancient, mythical god of war – and like most gods, does have a petty, vindictive streak (no offense to my religiously inclined friends) – but as for being actually being physically tough and stoic…

Oh sure, he struts around the house all proud and manly.  And has the most ferocious sounding fights with the neighbour cat…with the glass door firmly closed between them.  The hiding from loud noises?  That’s just him performing tactical retreats to plot his next move.  Tormenting his furry siblings…all in good fun.

And he has dealt with some very traumatic injuries.  After all, there was that time a couple of years ago when I visciously mangled a front paw pad while trimming his nails.  It only took bright daylight and a flashlight to reveal the deep gash I had cut into him when he wiggled.  Why it broke at least one layer of skin, possibly even two!  And it was a long cut too…3 to 4 millimeters!  The only reason it didn’t bleed – not even a single drop – was through a sheer force of will on his part.

Obviously, I was never forgiven for this heinous crime, so off we go to the groomers every 4 to 6 weeks now.

But I digress.

Now that we’ve established what brave and ferocious warrior Aries Cat is, imagine my alarm upon realizing that he was now transforming into an entirely different species!  Or at least has one eyeball looking distinctly un-cat like.

And not a whimper out of him.  That should have been my first, no, make that second clue.  The first had been the night before when he was exceptionally needy and cranky all at the same time.  Even for him. Sigh.

Several phone calls to the vet’s office and 24 hours later, we’re back in there with Lizard Cat in tow.  See, cats have this 3rd inner eyelid that normally only comes out and stays out, in response to illness, injury or the trauma (to the body) of being treated for one or the other.  This condition is called Horner’s Syndrome.  Yeah, I didn’t know about this one either.  And my pets have a long history of developing uncommon health issues.

But the good doctor could find no evidence of injury or illness, was very stumped, knew we had just spent a fortune for the other two.  She didn’t want to order tests because if her suspicion about it being Horner’s was right; there being no actual test and the treatment, if needed, being the same in most cases.

Off we went with instructions of what to watch for.  Still worried and sucking up apologizing for the kennel, car ride, thermometer in the butt and manhandling by strangers, we worshipped him even more than usual for the next couple days.

He lapped it up like a sponge and about two days later, suddenly started acting as though the eye hurt.  There was no sign of physical distress whatsoever until then.  Aries is always very clear when he feels any level of pain or discomfort.  But this time we’re not sure as the pain seems to come and go…depending on the audience factor.

Sigh, more call’s to the vet.  She is just as puzzled as I rattle off anything that night possibly, even by the most tenuous of threads, be related.  Finally, at my request, she prescribes non-steroidal, anti-imflammatory drops that won’t hurt him, but will help if he’s actually in pain.  A week and $200 later, his lordship’s eye returned to normal.

We still don’t know if it actually was Horner’s Syndrome, or a boo boo.  But I would not be at all surprised to find out it was self-inflicted.

Sigh.

Oh, on the upside, they gave him a complimentary toe clipping.  Ha!  Bet that wasn’t part of his plan!

I’m still here… Furbabies & Stress

This is a post to let my wonderful new WordPress friends, that I haven’t abandoned my blog, or stopped reading all theirs.

The last six weeks or so have been very…challenging, let’s say, in my world.

You see, I’ve had to deal with a couple of depressing and slightly scary medical appointments. Finances have been much like playing a game of Russian roulette. And two of our three senior furbabies have been taking up most of my limited energy, as well as depleting our funds at an insane rate.

We have one kitty, a black and white tuxedo & Siamese mix, who turns 20 years old this coming Mother’s Day. She is in the final stages of renal failure, scrawny as hell these days, and has very recently had two suspected mini-strokes.

I really thought when I took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago, that she would not be coming home again. But tiny though she is, Sheera is one tough little lady! The vet was actually shocked both about how good she does look (for her age), and how well her latest test results came out. Apparently, she rarely sees cats this old that are looking, or doing, so good!

I trust my vet’s office and their team of doctor’s implicitly, so it was with a huge sigh of relief to hear this one tell that no, the time to say goodbye had definitely not come. Yes, the tests results show that Sheera’s kidneys have gotten worse, but that was no surprise. The other test results though, were amazingly good ones!  That was a surprise, and very pleasant one at that!

We’ve had Sheera on prescription renal formula wet food for years, since she was diagnosed at 16 during a routine geriatric check-up. Last fall, pain meds were added for arthritis. And now, new a two new meds have been added, along with real tuna mixed into her wet food, have been added to increase her appetite.

And I think it’s working… She’s eating more than she has in a long time, and I think she may even have put on an ounce or two!

And then there’s our nearly 13 year old black Lab, Keiko. She has been on pain meds for well over a year now, to help with her arthritis. Unfortunately, we ran out at them at same time we had to bring Sheera in (unplanned emergency visit), and it had been over the one year mark since she (Keiko) had seen a doctor. As Keiko’s meds are by prescription, out vet’s office can not legally renew them after the year mark is up.

In January of 2013, Keiko had dual surgery to remove a few large benign lumps that had gotten so big they were getting in her way and causing discomfort. She also had an abscessed tooth removed, have a couple of holes sewn shut from surrounding teeth we didn’t know she had lost, and the rest cleaned.

That was Keiko’s fourth surgery, the first when she was spayed, the 2nd at a year old when she literally ate her bed (!)and the third when she was five and had a cancerous lump removed from her haunch. Imagine my panic when the benign, age related lumps started visibly showing several years later!

(We had also lost our previous lab to an aggressive form of cancer that we fought for two years. So I do tend to freak-out when I find lumps on any of our furballs.)

Keiko’s check-up went fairy well…but the doctor did find a large, previously unknown, lump hiding in her groin area. Given that she has several known internal and external known-to-be benign cysts – some slow-growing, others not so slow-growing – her age, general state of health and how badly she emotionally coped with her last surgery, the vet advised us to just watch it.

It’s the same vet that did her surgery and fell completely in love with her!  We are going to assume – at the her advice – that the new discovered lump is benign like all the others, given the above info and other factors I won’t go into here.

So basically, overall, Keiko’s check-up went well. But it was yet another reminder that as Labs go, she’s getting quite old. Her and Sheera both. I know we won’t have either too much longer. Despite having already out-lived two estimated timelines, Sheera’s time might be as little as a few months. Possibly less and possibly more, but I know her state of health can turn on a dime.  For that matter, so could Keiko’s.

This is, of course to be expected given their advanced years, but it’s still very upsetting and depressing. ūüė¶

Between the costs of the vet visits, tests, prescription food for both animals – Keiko has been on prescription food for years due to skin allergies – and four different prescriptions in total for both of them, plus a months worth of flea meds for all three animals…all at the same time, has put an enormous financial strain on us.

Especially since hubby has only been working again for a couple of months, after three months of no income for him at all. (Yeah, beginning of last December, completely out of the blue, he was laid-off. That’s the 2nd Xmas in a row it’s happened.)

I should point out, in all due fairness to our wonderful veterinarian practice, that they have been exceedingly kind and generous with us.  We’ve been with them 15 years now and they have allowed us to put no less than three expensive dog and cat surgeries on a payment system.  As our bill is already quite high due to repeated and unexpected loss of income in the last two years, ergo we have not been able to finish (yet) paying off the dog’s last surgery.

The doctors and staff truly love animals and will do everything in their power to assist pet parents in providing the best possible care for every animal they see.  Even if  it means referring you somewhere else, and they are pretty great about free phone advice.  They also do not push expensive meds if cheaper, as effective one are available in pharmacies or elsewhere.

Oh, and the third senior furbaby I mentioned? His name is Aries, and he’s a chubby, bratty, 14 year old, black and white tuxedo and also a Siamese mix. We’ve recently put him on the same wet food as Sheera and switched their kibble to the same formula in dry. Pricey, but we are hoping it helps to keep his kidneys in good shape for a long time to come!

Anyway, as you might guess, the stress of all this has been overwhelming me and blogging fell by the wayside.

But I haven’t quit and hope to get back into a writing groove soon!

Cheers!

My Dog, The Teacher

Please, FEEL FREE TO REBLOG THIS POST.  My hope is that it will find its way around the internet, and perhaps change a few minds about what a gift and priviledge it is to have pets in our lives.  And also the importance of  upholding our end of the bargain by providing love, guidance, non-violent training, good food & shelter, and medical care.  All I ask is that you credit the text of this post as being my work.  Not the graphic though; I was unable to track down the source of it.

10 Canine CommandmentsA friend of mine recently posted this on Facebook.

This poignant message immediately brought up feelings of pain, shame and guilt that I will never fully recover from.  Nor do I want to. The lesson it brought home to me at the young age of 18, is one I will never forget and will always be grateful for.

When I was about 5 or 6, a friend of my parents brought home a large breed mix puppy that I strongly bonded with. She was beautiful, highly intelligent and fiercely loyal.  Unfortunately, her human family should never have been allowed to have her in the first place.

The husband was a large, abusive man who taught their son to treat children, women and animals with zero respect, ruling through fear and intimidation.   Their son grew to be as equally large and physically powerful as his father, and learned his father’s lessons all too well.

But I digress; the point is that when I was 12, after years of waiting, hoping and begging, this wonderful dog finally joined our family. She immediately laid claim to me, and I to her.  From that point forward, we were inseparable.

She took her duties quite seriously; always watching over me, comforting me when I cried, protecting me when I needed it, and helping me in countless other ways to navigate those perilous teen years.   The lessons she taught me about love, forgiveness, acceptance and loyalty, are endless.

As dog mothers go, I couldn’t have had a better one.

By the time I was 18, my dear friend was old and her health was failing fast. Age had reared its head a few years before as our walks became shorter and slower.  White hairs began to populate her fur in previously solid black areas.  With her typical grace and dignity, she accepted having to wait more and more on the sidelines as I grew into a young adult.

But those last few months, when it was apparent that her time was nearly up, I started to avoid coming home. Oh, I had plenty of seemingly valid excuses.  I worked two jobs, went to school, had a newly established social life that needed attending to, and even had familial responsibilities that most of my peers did not.  But the sad truth is, all of it amounted to nothing more than a bag of excuses.

Looking back, I could have arranged more time with her, if I had really tried.  But I did not.  Instead, I wasted that most precious of times that I should have spent with her, repaying her for all the many gifts she had given me.

Finally my mother confronted me and said the time had come – either I deal with it, or she would. ¬†So I spent one last night sitting up with her, sobbing and apologizing as she laid her big head on my lap. ¬†As was her custom, I was covered in sloppy kisses, quiet forgiveness and gentle love…

We didn’t have much money; most of mine went to into the household.  But again, that was an excuse I can’t forgive myself for, ending as it did with my having to take her to the SPCA to face those final moments alone.  Scared and confused.

If I had chosen to give up a few nights out with friends, I could probably have managed to take her to vet one last time.  I could have been with her with her the whole time.  Now that the reality of my selfish choice to spend the little money I could have put away for this moment, had come back to bite me. Hard.

I will never forget our final parting… ¬†The staff member now holding her leash, was forced to stop at the door to the back area. ¬†My dog, my friend, my protector…my teacher really, had simply refused to keep walking.

She stopped, looked back over her shoulder at me and stared for a long moment…

I will never know if she was telling me it was all okay, that she understood, or if it was a look of hurt betrayal.  I know what it felt like though. Since that terrible day, I made a promise.  Even if it meant starving, not a single one of my animal companions would ever again have to face death alone.  And I’ve kept that promise.  I am the last face they see before drifting off to sleep.  My hand is the last touch they feel.