A Mini Pupdate…A Teaser Of What’s To Come

So, admittedly, for the past four (WOW, 4) months I have neglected to nurture this little blog.  Though, I have done so for good reason.  There’s been A LOT going on in this little thing called life, and in most every spare moment we’ve been focused on family and a particular bucket 😉

With that said…here’s the mini pupdate with what Beauford’s been up to!  This is just a taste, kind of like a wedding cake sampling, the full cake’s going to be pretty grand.

 

 

 

 

A Cruel Twist…When Canine Cancer Strikes The Same Family Twice

Sadie 9

Our family won the dog rescue lottery.   We really truly did.  Some 6 years ago, after my father lost his Shepherd/Collie Theo to cancer, we welcomed Sadie into our lives.  She is an absolute delight.  Since day one she’s been pretty much perfect, other than her knack for middle of the street pavement pooping; which is not very ladylike at all.    She came to us a middle-aged black Labrador/hound with a full grey beard, and crossed eyes.   Sadie is sweet, charming, and incredibly affectionate.

Sadie 14

After Theo passed away, and my father was ready to welcome a new canine into his home and heart, the search began for a dog that would fit our family perfectly.   Given that Beauford is incredibly submissive, we had to be careful not to bring a dog that was too alpha into the family.  We wanted Beauford to remain comfortable, and still be in charge in his home, since this new dog was going to be spending a great deal of time here.

Initially, my father had his heart set on another black and tan, younger male dog.   I tried to be the voice of reason and insisted that he look at both male and female dogs, that were middle-aged, and expand his parameters when it came to looks and breed.   There are so many dogs that are in need of great homes; so, I didn’t fear finding the right one.   He or she was out there.  It was only a matter of time before we met.

Sadie 3

When we found out about Sadie my dad jumped at the chance to meet her.  He was very enthusiastic and encouraged by what we’d heard.  He knew well before I did, that she was it.  Sadie had been dropped at Brampton Animal Services by her former “mother”.  Apparently their family was in the midst of a divorce and she was suffering the consequences.  They had adopted her 7 years prior from the same shelter, and returned her with nothing but a bag of dog food.   Though there was a promise of veterinary records, they never appeared.

The sad fact was that given that Sadie was a middle-aged, black dog, with a full grey beard, she might not be very adoptable.  Kelly, who was working at Animal Services at the time, saw Sadie’s character and wasn’t about to let her spend another moment in that shelter.  You see Sadie was indeed the perfect rescue dog.  She knew all her commands, was in great shape, and was just so incredibly loving.   Kelly took her home to foster her and was absolutely committed to finding our girl the perfect home.   Kelly and Sadie stayed together for several weeks, living in Kelly’s downtown condo and to this very day those two ladies share such a special bond.   Kelly always gets the signature “Sadie hug” every time she sees her.  Sadie 6

Dad met Sadie first.  It was love at first sight.  For both of them.  I was a bit more anxious (admittedly).  I had a dog with special needs and wanted to be certain she was the right fit for Beauford.   Her lack of veterinary records made me nervous; so, I called Kelly, discussed my concerns and she definitely put my mind at ease.

The moment I met Sadie I melted.  She is an absolute gem, just a gem.  She was obviously a snuggle bug, and incredibly patient.  So, sweet and ALWAYS smiling.  I found her crossed eyes to be very charming and was surprised that my father hadn’t mentioned them.  After we’d had her for two weeks he called and said “Did you know Sadie was cross-eyed?”  I laughed and laughed that he hadn’t noticed.  Despite her crossed-eyes Sadie can catch a ball like a professional ball player.  She loves to play ball.  She loves to fetch.

Sadie and Beauford were fast friends.  Admittedly Beauford went through a bit of a jealous phase, but Sadie was content to let him be in charge.  She just wanted love.  After being abandoned by the only family she knew, it took a while for Sadie to reach that level of comfort where she knew she was going to be ours forever.  Three months after she joined our family she started playing with stuffies.  But whenever Beauford was a bit of a jerk and demanded it back she’d drop it.

Sadie 11

The two of them walked together and played together.  They are two peas in a pod, the very best of friends and were meant to be companion dogs.  And now, they both have cancer.   As we began this journey with Beauford we were aware of lump on Sadie’s leg.   We were told to monitor it, and as it grew bigger it was clear we needed to biopsy it.  In the back of my mind I was worried.  Sadie had some episodes recently where she didn’t feel like eating. And knowing what I know about the symptoms of cancer (reduced appetite etc.) I had a nagging feeling.   Though Sadie (and ironically Beauford) have struggled with pancreatitis in the past I couldn’t shake the thought there might be something more.  But I also didn’t want to project my worries about Beauford onto Sadie.

Sadie 4

When my father called to tell me the biopsy results, I sadly wasn’t surprised.  Sadie too has cancer.  Beauford and Sadie are canine cancer companions.  This is news we didn’t need,  two dogs with cancer is no picnic, but we aren’t thinking negatively.  Sadie, much like Beauford, looks great and feels pretty decent.

As we wait for her tissue biopsy results, we have added an additional seat on the spoil the canine train.  Both these dogs are now getting extra store trips, delicious bones, special treats, and a whole lot of love.

The picture below was taken at last years Smiling Blue Skies Walk to End Canine Cancer.  We can’t wait to get this years picture of these together, smiling and loving all the attention they get because they are a really, really good-looking pair.

Sadie 12

 

 

 

It’s 4 a.m., Beauford’s Sick, and We’re Out Of Coconut Oil

It’s 3:45 a.m., and I’ve been awake for a wee bit nursing a dog that’s just not feeling well.   I sleep very lightly; but lately, since all this started, I don’t sleep very well at all.   I’m exhausted; therefore, I should be able sleep, but it evades me.  And tonight is one of the reasons why.

Beauford got up early this morning, and as soon as I heard his claws click on the floor I knew something wasn’t right.  I got up to check on him and his tail did not wag when I pet him.  A sure sign that something was amiss.  I wondered, at first, whether if having some knuckle bone today was going to be mean there would be another poo-pa-looza in the backyard, but one good look at him told me otherwise.

I brought him downstairs, and as we went to walk in the yard he hesitated, then vomited. It’s tough to know whether this is because of the (now uncertain) cancer, or the fact that if he goes too many hours without eating overnight he seems to get sick to his stomach.   So, here I am at 3:53 a.m., waiting for scrambled eggs (that I just made) to cool so that I can feed him, see if he has any appetite, cross my fingers and hope he doesn’t vomit again.

At the moment things seem so vicious.   And by things, I mean life.  I got some news a couple of days ago (that isn’t mine to share publicly just yet) and it was an unbelievable cruel twist.  Another kick to the gut that’s already taken quite the gut-kicking of late.

As I made eggs just now I had a moment where I needed to breath deeply, and not crumble. We are out of coconut oil.  Not a big deal; right?   Well, it isn’t, but it oddly symbolized something else.   It was representative of the fact that I am absolutely in “this” alone. I was supposed to go to Costco on the weekend to get more, but Beauford’s bad night Friday meant that didn’t happen.  That set off a particular chain of events, and now this particular Costco connection is gone.  I no longer have my partner to give me a hug when I so desperately need one.  I have memories, lots of fantastic memories, but I don’t have him.

What I most certainly do have are some family and friends who have been seriously supportive.   Though, I am incredibly grateful for that, having that one you love hug you feels different.   It’s a different kind of comfort.  Most everyone knows that, so I doubt anyone will fault me for feeling the way I do.  Thus, I’ve lost a lot over these past few days and I must admit I haven’t handled it very well.  Poorly, in fact.  I give myself a failing grade for keeping my sh*t together.

As I have mourned the total loss of my relationship, and more so the vacant space in my life where someone who became a best friend once stood,  it’s been beyond words hard.   I’ve had a difficult time just letting go.  I realize now that’s because I’ve lost someone I love  all while facing the impending loss of the one being in my life that loves me unconditionally, Beauford.   It’s been damn near impossible to move on when my instinct right now is to grip on and fight for those I love.

So, here we sit.  Beauford snuggled up next to me on the couch and we wait.  We wait for the eggs to cool and to see if this is the cancer-barfs or the empty-stomach barfs…

 

When Making Memories Gets Messy

A friend of mine posted a really cute how-to video, and the end result was a lovely framed picture of her dog’s paw.  It looked pretty easy, something even I could manage.

I should be clear, I am about as crafty as a bankrupt craft shop!  So, I knew this seemingly simple project wouldn’t end without a glitch or two.  All I needed was matte paper, non-toxic paint, a co-operative dog, and a little bit of patience.

I decided today was the perfect day for the project.  Beauford had to gone to daycare (they were testing the fire alarms today, and he’s petrified of that putrid sound; so, there is no way he was staying here for that)  and I knew he’d be tired from all the exciting fun!

So, on my way home today I stopped at the Dollar Store picked up a sketch pad (the paper has to be Matte finish, not glossy), Winners for a few picture frames, and the toy store for some non toxic finger paint.    The entire project cost about $20, with the most expensive thing being the frames.

Once the monkey had finished his dinner, and had a sufficient rest, I got the paint and paper out.  I was excited to get started.   I dipped Beauford’s paw into the paint and attempted the first print.  DISASTER.  Knowing the first print might come out globby I tried again, and again, and again.  Beauford was over it by press number 3!

I had to get a few more prints since I wanted to make four good ones.  I had dozens of bads and needed to get a few more…I dipped his paw for what was to be the final set of attempts, got 2 presses out of it and he took off.  Let’s be clear, even with getting additional tips and tricks, my apartment carpet now looks like this:

Carpet smears

I have never laughed so hard.   It was sweet revenge.  Beauford trotted all over the carpet in various places leaving smears and smudges everywhere.  He was quite proud of his art work, wagging his tail the entire time.

The carpet is now a Beaucasso or a Beau-Ray.   I tried to clean the it, but now it’s just smears of black paint everywhere.  Oh well.   Making memories can be messy.

Beauford's print

Overall, the end results are not half bad.   There are a few special people, including myself, that are getting Beauford’s pawiture.   They’re a little trinket to be treasured for all time.

“In Retrospect”. This Has Now Become A Very Uncertain Journey

Beauford has never been a typical case.   Since he’s been a puppy he’s always been a bit of a medical enigma.  He’s been diagnosed and misdiagnosed, and if I had a dollar for every time I heard “we’re not quite sure”, or “I don’t know what to tell you” after a medical procedure or blood test I’d be rich!!!

I was told when he was 6 months by a bright minded specialist that there was something wrong with him, but they couldn’t pinpoint what, and that he likely wouldn’t make it passed age 1.  I refused to believe that, instead walked out of that downtown specialty clinic committed to giving Beauford the best life.   Though I am not perfect, and I have made mistakes, I have certainly tried to live up to that promise.  Now, he’s six and I find myself feeling the same was I did as when he was six months.

I write this with the understanding that the news from yesterday is still fresh, shrouded in uncertainty, and not having fully processed everything.   It’s now believed that Beauford does not have a mass on his adrenal gland as first thought, and there is some variability in his diagnosis.

When Beauford was first “diagnosed” the radiologist saw on the ultrasound what he believed to be a tumor near Beauford’s kidney.  The prognosis he shared with our family veterinarian was not good.  He had seen this before, and didn’t believe anything could be done to save him.  Second and third opinions were sought as to what, if anything could be done, for Beauford.

In the emotional hours following Beauford’s diagnosis I remember very distinctly standing in Pet Valu getting the call saying that all hope might not be lost.  Apparently the VEC in Toronto and the OVC in Guelph believed something could be done.  There was mention of an MRI, CT Scan, repeat diagnostics.   VEC said their plan was to do an MRI , Guelph said their plan was to do a CT Scan.

Given that Beauford had an extensive medical history in Guelph, was comfortable there in their care, that it has a remarkable canine cancer centre, and was most reasonable in terms of cost, I chose to go to Guelph.

After Beauford’s CT scan I was told that they believed him to have an adrenal mass that was either the AP or AC tumor.  I was also told that Beauford’s adrenal gland did not light up in the way they had anticipated (not shocking, it’s Beauford) and because the mass was too high risk to biopsy, the best diagnostic tool to find the type of beast was surgery.

I went with my gut, and decided against the surgery.   Instead we did the – for lack of a better term  – fancy urine test to see if this was an AP mass.  I opted out of surgery. We got the results of that test back and it didn’t appear to be a blood pressure tumor.  So, that was “excellent news”.  Instead it was decided to test for Cushings, and the oncology team was now more comfortable with my choice to monitor the mass by way of ultrasound to track its growth.   I made that choice against surgery because I believed it was the absolute best choice for Beauford.  I have never been more thankful that I did.

Beauford OVC

Beauford had his one month follow up yesterday.  As we traveled to Guelph I was nervous, but hopeful we’d hear that the mass was the same size, and there was no sign of it spreading or threatening surrounding organs.  We stopped at Ren’s Pet Depot on the way and he displayed epic poor manners when out of sheer excitement he knocked over an entire urn like display of gigantic beef sticks.  He was the very definition of a bull in a china shop and I was the jerk owner that found it amusing since it was great to see him have his second real enthusiastic burst of energy this week.

After speaking to the student in oncology, I was advised that he might have to be mildly sedated for the ultrasound.  I hoped he’d be able to get through it without it, since he has never required it in the past, and I remember all too well how hard it is for Beauford to metabolize and process sedation.   Unfortunately, Beauford had to be sedated as he was uncomfortable during the procedure.

When we came to pick him up I was told that he might require a second ultrasound, and there was some talk of a biopsy.   This ultrasound was clearer than the previous CT scan, and there was some doubt, or perhaps some clarity, offered by what they found yesterday.  I was confused since I’d be told a biopsy wasn’t possible because the risk of complications was too high.

I met with oncologist, and I was told that the ultrasound image yesterday was indeed actually clearer than that seen from the CT scan.  According to yesterday’s imaging, it does not appear that Beauford has a mass on the adrenal gland.  And what they believed was a mass causing the surrounding lymph node to swell, is now thought to be a very swollen lymph gland.

I am obviously frustrated, upset, confused, and have tons of questions.  Questions that unfortunately there are no concise answers for.  I was told that “in retrospect” an MRI would have been a better diagnostic tool.

So, what does all this mean?  Here’s the thing, I don’t know.  There was some discussion that it could be three things…

  1.  That this particular lymphatic gland has always been enlarged that way — NOT LIKELY though since he has had ultrasounds in the past and it wasn’t ever seen before.
  2. Beauford has some kind of infection, though it’s uncertain what it could be.  Nothing has showed up in his extensive bloodwork, or other diagnostics that would give them any tip off as to what it could be.
  3. This enlarged lymph node is a cancerous lesion.   There may or may not be other cancerous lesions elsewhere at the moment.   Thus, we’d now be dealing with a different kind of cancer altogether, lymphoma.

 

The biopsy that was briefly discussed in the waiting room, was discussed further in the exam room.  It would still be high risk because the node is still close to the vessel, and Beauford would require further, deeper sedation, to ensure they would be able to get a good sample of the node.

Beauford was in the room the entire time with us (and Roosty) and he was struggling from the side effects of the sedation.  He was whimpering, crying, panting, unsteady on his feet, anxious, and at one point his back legs just gave out suddenly and he stumbled into the cabinetry. His tail was stuffed so far between his legs, and his eyes were tired.   This guy, was not my smiling golden guy.  My heart hurt and his eyes said it all.  He was over it, and so am I.

So, now what?  We have no definitive diagnosis.   We are facing an uncertain beast.    I have listened to my gut from day one.  I have had Beauford’s best interests in my head, and in my heart, every single step of the way.   Trusting myself, trusting my bond with Beauford, and listening to my gut has not led me astray thus far; so, I will continue to do that.

Last night was terrible.  I slept for an hour.  Beauford came home and was resistant to eating, remained slightly unsteady on his feet, and  unless he could feel me next to him he would whimper and cry.  I sat next to him on the wood floor for hours.  I should have done creative mattress movement (my bed is too high for him to get in and out of in that state safely), but I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and figured sitting with him, his head on my leg was just as good as anything.

This morning at 6:00 a.m., my smiling golden guy woke up!   The side effects from the sedative finally wore off, and despite my absolute exhaustion we were at Pet Valu this morning so Beauford could get a new bone to chew.  And this time, I let him bring it home. He’s already decided that it’s acceptable to proudly display his treat and bring gross bone in the bed.  Yeah, cancer or no cancer gross beef bone in my bed isn’t happening!   So, we had a little discussion about that today.

As for the future, at this moment it’s been decided that Beauford will not be returning for further diagnostics, or follow up until July at which time he is scheduled have an ultrasound of his entire abdomen, not just his adrenal gland.

The sad reality is that if this lesion is lymphatic cancer, it will undoubtedly spread, and unfortunately the ugly face of cancer will begin to appear by way of reduced appetite, vomiting, gastrointestinal issues, increased lethargy, and coughing.  Lymphoma though “treatable” is not curable.

There is absolutely nothing pleasant about that.  Not a single damn thing.

So, do I need to go back next month have Beauford sedated to see if it’s spread?   No.   Beauford seems to struggle greatly with the side effects of sedation.   Given that he is uncomfortable during ultrasounds to have many would become unpleasant for him, and would mean too many nights like last night.   To me, (and to him I’m sure) the short term pain doesn’t provide long term gain.   Three months seems to be a fair compromise; so, I don’t need to go back monthly to check.  If this is lymphoma without a doubt in time we will know.

What I need to do, and what I am absolutely committed to, is doing what  have been doing since “diagnosis day” and that is making each and every day special.

Beauford glasses

 

 

A Weekend I Won’t Ever Forget

These days, it seems, it’s all about making memories, treasuring the little things, and finding joy in simple pleasures.

Beauford expo 1.jpg

Though I had always thought that it was meant-to-be for Beauford to be a therapy dog, I was truly inspired to make it happen when I heard about Smiley who does great work for St. John Ambulance.

Smiley is a 14 year old, completely blind, Golden Retriever, that has a remarkable history.   He has overcome so much, and has found the best forever family that love him beyond words.   A single glance at his pictures and you fall instantly in love.

When I heard that Smiley was going to make an appearance at the Canadian Pet Expo over Easter weekend I reached out to his owner, Joanne George, on Instagram.  I really hoped we’d be able to get these two golden guys, each with special needs, together for a photograph sitting side-by-side in all their golden glory.   A plan was made and Beauford and Smiley were going to meet.   This is a picture I knew I’d treasure, and meeting Smiley was on Beauford’s bucket list.

I have never taken Beauford to such an event before.  I was a bit nervous because he is very submissive and isn’t the bravest of souls.   I didn’t want him to feel overwhelmed or frightened of any dogs that might be there.   It’s a large event, with dogs, cats, reptiles and birds, and I worried, especially now, that it might be too much for him.   I knew I needed to go with the perfect person, someone who we both love and trust, who’d keep us calm and exudes excellent energy…and that was Beauford’s dad.

I told Beauford where were spending the night Thursday, and my goodness did he ever whine while he waited for his dad to arrive to pick us up.  His belongings were packed by the door, and as we sat and waited he groaned and moaned until I gave in and headed downstairs to wait for his chariot to arrive.  Of course, he went running to him and was pleased as punch to be in the back of his dad’s Jeep.    He was so excited to be at his downtown abode, and checked it out for new sniffs.   Of course on Friday morning he snuck into the bed (again) for a quick snuggle.  It’s not allowed, but when your dad folds like a cheap suit…

That morning we mapped out where Smiley’s booth was, and headed out to the Expo.  As we pulled into the parking lot I was still a bit uncertain…what was I doing?  There were excited dogs hopping out of cars all around us.  Their energy abound, tails wagging and it was like a tongue out Tuesday on a Friday!   I looked at Beauford in the backseat and thought, let’s do this.   We got the tickets for free — thank you to Hanna at Pet Valu for that — and drove all the way out to Mississauga, there was no turning back now!

Beauford’s enthusiasm was instant.   Though he had no clue where he was going, he led the way to the event hall where it was being held.   Once we finally got in, Beauford was a bit overwhelmed at first, but having his dad there gave him a confidence boost, one that I know for certain he wouldn’t have had if it was just me!

We headed to Smiley’s booth, and the two golden guys met.   They definitely liked each other.   Tails were certainly wagging!  Pictures were taken, and Beauford decided it was the perfect place to lay down and have a rest.  Smiley and Beauford

As Beauford laid there, relishing in all the attention he was getting, someone asked if he was Smiley.  I had to laugh, I said, nope, he’s just lazy!   Once he got a bunch of belly rubs from strangers that were there to meet Smiley, we got him up and headed to check out the rest of the event.  Beauford picked a bag of treats (beef lungs) and we took in a dog agility show.  After about  an hour, Beauford was tired and ready to hit the road.   He spent the afternoon napping, and then we headed home.

Beauford Expo 2

Saturday we enjoyed a visit to the store, his Auntie Katie stopped by to say hello and for a little walk in the sunshine, and we capped off the day with a visit from his buddy, Theo.  Theo is a dog that stole my heart the instant I met him.  I can’t say enough good things about him.  He is a special, special, soul, and I adore him as though he’s my own.  Theo is remarkable with Beauford; he lets Beau be the alpha male he’s always dreamed of being.

Beauford Theo.jpg

Beauford was SO excited to have Theo and his Auntie Kat visit.   He was play barking, and growling as they played tug.  He was doing his circle spins and smiling from ear-to-ear (dogs DO smile!).   There was some toy carnage, and the carpet was covered in fluff.  Beauford was so excited to have company, and definitely showed his Auntie Kat how much he loved having them here!  They played, and played, and played.  Then his tank ran out of gas, and the sound of Beauford conking out on the floor was pretty comical.

Though these events lasted only hours, they made memories that I will never forget. Memories that I will cherish and that I will forever be grateful for.    Thursday evening, and Friday were GREAT.  Beauford so enjoys being in his dad’s company.  He really loved spending that much time with him, doing something so fun!  I am so glad I set my fears aside, and took him to the show.   Saturday was the cap to a perfect long weekend.   Seeing Beauford play so happily, and enthusiastically, with Theo brought me so much joy.

I am so thankful to everyone that made this weekend so special…

 

A New Definition of Excellent

Beauford 1

 

Beauford’s (pricey) urinalysis results came in last week, and the oncologist used the word “excellent” to describe the outcome.   For a moment I was confused, what could be excellent about cancer?

His tumor, the beast, did not appear to be the AP kind, but rather the AC kind.  Though there was no guarantee that this test was 100% accurate, it seemed that the worry of the tumor invading the surrounding vessel had been reduced.  It does not appear that this is a blood pressure tumor.   Lessened are the risk of collapse, the risk of sudden blood pressure changes, and the risk of this tumor causing Beauford to have a sudden and painful passing as the beast invades the surrounding vessel.  All good news, excellent in fact.

The news came with a twist, Beauford needed to be tested for Cushings Disease.   This tumor could be a Cushings tumor.  Dr. Safi went on to explain that 50% of Cushings tumors are benign, and 50% are malignant.  I immediately asked whether Beauford’s tumor could in any way NOT be a cancerous mass.  Was it possible my dog didn’t have cancer after all, but rather a different disease altogether?

Though she didn’t leave me with no hope, she reminded me that on the CT scan there did appear to be some swelling of the surrounding lymph nodes, and in all likelihood this tumor is malignant.   I sat back for a second, on the phone, attempting to process the information being relayed.

It was suggested I get Beauford tested for Cushings as soon as I was able.   If this tumor was a Cushings tumor we’d need to address it quickly, and get him on the right course of medications.  Since this journey started I have done my best not to be Dr. Google (though it’s good to inform yourself, it’s dangerous to over-Google, over-think, and convince yourself something is a fact, when it’s probably fiction).   Thus, I don’t know much about Cushings other than it causes excessive thirst and excessive urination.    Cushings is not a fun disease, not for the dog and not for the family.  Dogs often have regular accidents in the home, and it’s stressful for all involved.

Beauford had been panting more, and drinking more recently, sometimes peeing more, but he also has been eating more, and with his dyspepsia that isn’t anything too unusual.  I began to ask myself though, was I under estimating the increase, not paying enough attention to the panting?  The only way to know was to book the test,stop the wonder, and get the answers as quickly as I could.

The test was a three-fold test.   I was told it was key to keep Beauford’s stress to a minimum for the duration of the eight hour day.   After consulting with my vet, and my father, we came up with a creative way to get this test done.  Beauford would arrive at the clinic on Monday at 9:00 a.m.  They would do the first blood draw, give him the steroid injection and we would take him back home.  All of the blood draws and the injection would be done in an exam room, with me there able to comfort him.

After the first blood draw we hopped back in the car and drove home with strict instructions to return in exactly four hours for his second blood draw.  Time was of the essence and it was crucial that the four hour and eight hour draws be done exactly on time or we’d screw up the whole test.   Instead of spending the duration of the day at the clinic Beauford got to spend the entire day at home, and have his own personal chauffeur (my dad) to and from the vet.   This ensured that his stress was kept to an absolute minimum, and that I was there for each and every test.

It was a coordinated effort, and a plan designed to ensure that Beauford was comfortable, and happy for the entire day.  And at the end of it all Beauford went to Pet Valu and chewed his knuckle bone.   He was in excellent spirits.  All of the back and forth was worth it, just to see that smile.

My favourite moment of the day was popping Beauford on the scale and seeing that he has gained 7 of the 13 pounds back that he’d lost.  I also quite thoroughly enjoyed the vet’s suggestion that Beauford, indeed, is going to surprise us all.   He is having much too much fun enjoying treats, extra meals, special visits, and all this love.   She said he looks amazing, his eyes are bright and he seems so happy.   Her comments confirmed what I already know in my heart, Beauford’s got his own timeline, he’s in charge, and he will light up our lives with love for as long as he’s able.

The results came in much faster than I’d thought.   Beauford does not have Cushings Disease.   This is excellent news, since having both Cushings and Cancer would have been crummy. Having cancer is crappy enough, we need not have double the disease.

I have yet to speak to oncology in Guelph about the findings, but my understanding is with the confirmation that he is Cushings free, that tiny glimmer of hope that this tumor isn’t cancerous is all but gone.

So, we soldier on.   We accept all news that isn’t wretched as indeed “Excellent” and forge ahead with our commitment to make each day special.

 

 

 

Finding My Way Back To Gratitude

 

 

Beauford Gratitude

A treasured friend of mine sent me an A.A. Milne quote recently.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Always remember you are Braver than you Believe, Stronger than you Seem, Smarter than you Think and Loved more than you know.”

Thank you, Katie.  Thank you for being a friend (kind of like the Golden Girls, but different), thank you for being the calm that surrounds the storm, for being an ear, for being thoughtful, and for just being you.   I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found such a great friendship.

Undoubtedly it’s been an emotional few months, a time where I’ve slept even less than I usually do (and I am a TERRIBLE sleeper), and things seem to hit me more, hurt me more, than they usually would.  I feel a bit like bruised fruit; I’m still sweet, but I feel like I’m covered in blemishes or little dents that show just how much I’ve been jostled lately.

The thing about bruised fruit is, it might not be the most beautiful, but when it’s picked and handled with care, once you slice it open you’ll find that you can cut around the bruised bits and it’s still pretty great.    But not everyone chooses the bruised fruit.   And eventually, if it’s not chosen, that fruit just rots.  It loses all its sweetness and just gets pitched.

When you’re feeling like bruised fruit, you can’t always wait for someone to choose you.   You have to choose yourself.  You have to open yourself up, expose all the bruises, and then find love for yourself and ALL your good bits.

Lately I have found myself feeling very bruised, not quite good enough, disappointed, and down.   I can appreciate that I am absolutely entitled to feel the way I do.  In fact, in times like this you have to let yourself feel, BUT then you have to allow yourself to heal.   Only I haven’t been all that good at the healing.

Beauford’s diagnosis rocked my very core.  He is what saved my life and gave me a purpose. He was always my reason to get up, and get out every single day, even the wretched ones.   He has given me laughter, and unconditional love.  The idea of waking up and him not being here has forced me to face a fear I haven’t felt in years.   Thus, the other things going on in my life have hit me harder, and definitely hurt me more.   My mind has wandered and I’ve worried.

Admittedly, I have fallen victim to feeling a bit too sorry for myself, my situation.   While sifting through veterinary journal articles, and replaying conversations with specialists in my head, I felt overwhelmed.   When compounded with all that I’ve been dealing with outside of the vet stuff, I started to wallow and be swallowed by so much emotion.  And wallowing helps no one, not me and especially not Beauford.

Someone I love deeply reminded me recently that I can do better, I can be better.  Though tough to hear, sometimes you need that boost, that reminder, of what you’re truly capable of.  I’ve been too bogged down.  I’ve been allowing myself to feel, but haven’t done enough to heal.  Somehow I forgot that I am the creator of my own happiness.

I have such a tremendous amount to be grateful for, so many people (friends and strangers alike) have been so incredibly generous, selfless, thoughtful, and kind.   I’ve been on the receiving end of so much support, from near and far, and it has given me the boost I needed to keep going.   Where I’ve gone wrong is allowing the things I don’t have, to matter more than what I do.

I am taking stock of all the little things, investing in friendships with people that are healthy, letting go of those that are not, devoting time to making each day special, and forging ahead in my plans to build a legacy for Beauford.

I am committed to giving back, creating my own happiness, and living each day grounded by gratitude.

 

 

 

Just Who Is This Golden Guy Named Beauford

Beauford puppy shot

Like his mother, people often mispronounce Beauford’s name.  The irony of this never gets old. Pronounced BO-FORD, he’s named after Carter Beauford, the drummer for the Dave Matthews Band.  Much like Carter’s, Beauford’s smile will light you right up, and make you feel love.

When someone that doesn’t know Beau asks about him, I say his personality is a fine blend of some of the most cherished characters in the childhood favourite, Winnie The Pooh. Much like Pooh, he loves to have a full belly and he’d get his head stuck in a honey pot for just one more drop.

He is a retriever that loves his snacks, treats, and meals.   When you say ‘Do you want..?’ his ears immediately perk up, and he looks at you as if to say YUP, before you’ve even finished the sentence.  Like Pooh, when he wakes up in the morning I have no doubt he’s thinking “what’s for breakfast?”  And he even used be chubby, like Pooh, and with his recent increase in treats he is getting his chubby butt back!   There has been many a day where I’ve walked behind him and watched that bum wiggle and I say look at that bum…he responds by looking back, smiling and wagging his tail even more.  I’m telling you, this dog is proud of the junk in his trunk.

Beauford can definitely channel his inner Eeryore when it’s time to leave somewhere he loves, like the store, and he’s not quite ready.  He has the ‘It’s raining on my head’ look down pat.  He will lower his eyes, shrug down, tuck his head in chest, and really milk the moment.

He has the nervousness and uncertainty of Piglet.  Beauford is definitely shy when it comes to meeting dogs he doesn’t know.  He often stops, and waits to make sure they are friend, not foe, before proceeding to say hello.   He’s incredibly submissive and if a squirrel looked threatening he would no doubt submit to it too.  He doesn’t have a mean spirited bone in his body and is very much a follower or other pooches, always willing to follow the kind alpha’s lead.

And though he doesn’t have Tigger’s all the time BOUNCE, he has these bursts of energy and happiness that come right out of nowhere.   He’s also definitely a detective.  On a recent playdate at his best buddy Dexter’s he kept (suspiciously) leaving the room.  I knew he was up to something, and after a few moments I checked on him.  He had managed to sniff out and find a bag with some old treats in the bottom of it!!   He was persistent in his efforts, and wasn’t about to give up until he got that bag open and those treats were crunching in his mouth.

Beauford is “the dog that lies down”.  Since the day he came home, first position on a ‘walk’ was lying on the pavement.  People have stopped, cars, and buses (yes, a city bus) have pulled over their drivers asking if he’s okay.  When he gets the attention he knows will come with this ‘method’, he lifts up his back leg expecting an inner thigh rub.   He won’t stop there, he will shamelessly roll over in the middle of the pavement, on his back, legs up in the air with a giant smile, daring you to pass without petting his belly.  He’s my traffic stopper, and his attention seeking behaviour is charming and often hysterical.

He’s also been known to just ‘pick people’ when we’re walking.  He walks right up to them and sits quietly or nudges them a little.  Anyone he’s ever picked has gone on to share that they’re going through a hard time (be it recently diagnosed with an illness, suffered a loss, or is just generally having a crummy day).  He gives them unconditional love, and the boost they need to keep going.  He’s been known to stop when a young baby or child is crying, always wanting to check if they’re okay.  If there’s comfort that needs providing, he’s always willing to provide it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told how lucky I am to have such a sweet soul.

His gift for finding those that need comfort and insisting upon giving it is how he ended up at local residence for children, and young adults, doing the job that he was born to do, therapy dog. He LOVED working.  He was enthusiastic, showed an incredible level of patience and caring when spending time with these children. Watching the babies giggle, and children smile as he rolled over asking for rubs or sat next them in their wheelchairs smiling while being petted are moments that are forever etched in heart.

Not at all dominant, Beauford`s many kitty sisters have always been in charge.  He recently spent the night at a neighbour’s place, and when I asked how the evening went I was told that he whined only once.  When I asked why, I was told that Maya, the resident cat had decided to sleep on his blanket.  He wanted to sleep there, but would never just tell her to get off.  Instead he woke Matt up by whining to get him to shoo her off.

When Tinsley, the kitten, came home after my Maddie cat had passed he was in awe of this tiny creature.  But she quickly taught him his place on the totem and wouldn’t walk past her unless she gave him permission.  He is so sweet allowing his feline siblings to groom him, but will do the gross dog thing and when they`re done he will sniff, and attempt to lick their bottoms.  It`s quite possibly the grossest thing that Beauford does, but he can’t help but love some kitty bum.

Beauford is as smart as he is stubborn.  He learns tricks quickly, though when it comes to ‘circle’ he will only spin in one direction.  If he wants to go left, because we always go left, getting him to turn right can be challenging.  I have often wondered how ridiculous I look trying to reason with this dog in the middle of the street.

Given that I have to hand feed him his meals (he eats his meatballs like a seal — sitting in front of me, swallowing them whole) I taught him how to tap his paws.  He’s always tapping in anticipation for each meal, eager to fill his belly with home cooked food.   At the end of his meals he is allowed to lick his bowl out.  I can’t tell you how many times I wonder how he manages to get the glass more gleaming than it looks when it’s washed.  He gets every morsel of food, as to him it’s good to the last drop.

On days when I cook, he’s always ‘helping’ READ:  lying in my tiny kitchen so I have to step over him.  But when the time comes to clean up he is the most excellent spoon rinser ever! He also makes sure I don’t have to wash out the yogurt or cottage cheese containers.  He will lick those so they’re absolutely polished.

Beauford has a fun side.  You see it when the elevator opens and he runs down the hall to the door, smiling with his tail wagging waiting for you to let him in.  If it’s my dad that’s taken him out he will barrel through the front door and run into the living room looking for a treat.

He’s a dog that doesn’t bark, unless he wants something or his ball is under the furniture out of reach.   If someone knocks on the door and I am not in a room where I can hear it I’d have no idea.   Beauford simply picks up a toy and walks to the door waiting.  He never lets me know that anybody is even there.

From the moment he came home he has loved to sleep in the bathroom.  As he grew he continued to wedge himself between the tub and toilet.  Anytime I shower, since he was just a wee thing, he’s had a snooze in the bathroom.   There isn’t enough floor space in there for both of us in the morning, but somehow we make it work.

Toilet antics

Not a big snuggler, we have a quick night-night cuddle right before bed, but he often sleeps on the 3-seater couch that quickly became his that I had to move to the bedroom. Though when we do share the bed, I am often surprised by my own flexibility when I wake up in a cirque style pose because he’s decided to sprawl out and snooze.   My spot seems to be wedged between the mattress and the wall on those evenings!  One of his sweetest sleep sounds is when he stretches and groans, like he’s saying , oh that feels good! And mornings aren’t mornings without our morning snuggle, but once he gives you ‘The Beauford’ you know he’s done.

Beauford loves when we have company.   Somehow he seems to know, despite the fact the ring is the same, when someone has buzzed up to let me know they’re here.  He goes and waits by the door with his tail wagging to see who might be arriving.   Though he truly does have good manners, you know he loves you when he climbs up on the chair for a cuddle and kiss (he sometimes will stand up on you and give you kisses — not allowed, but it’s how you know you’re definitely one of his favourites).

He’s also quite good at making himself comfortable in other peoples’ homes.  If there is a resident dog, that’s a buddy of his, he will check out their toy bins.  And if there’s only a baby or cat he’ll check out their loot too.  He knows he’s loved, and he knows he’s cute, and he knows that so long as he turns on the charm, and has decent manners, no one will give him too hard of a time.

He adores my best friend Kitty (Katherine), and she loves him.   One of his puppy moments that I wont ever forget is him coming quite close to peeing in her very expensive pink sparkly shoes.   She was SO excited to see him, and him her, that he started to tinkle.  Oh…those puppy days.  I taught him when he was young how to behave in the local stores, and he’s grown up to love shopping.  He has his few favourites where he insists on stopping in just to check out what’s new and to say hello.

It’s not all smiles and I’d be remiss not to mention his health challenges.  Beauford has handled everything with dignity and grace.  He is patient and cooperative, and he is strong.   People are shocked to learn of his high needs, and special restrictions.   On days he has gastric seizures he hides his symptoms so well almost no one knows he’s having them.  He always puts on the bravest of brave faces when he’s out on those days, eager to distract himself from his health failings.  At home with me whenever he feels crummy, he seeks out my comfort and support.  He will cuddle a bit more, and gets what I call mummy-itis, where he doesn’t want me to go far.   We have an incredible bond because of all he’s been though, and those that know us know we’re joined at the hip.

Beauford is an old sweet soul, wise beyond his years, and will capture your heart within moments of meeting him.  Not a day goes by that I don’t consider myself lucky that I am his mom.  As we continue on this golden journey, I wanted to give you all a chance to get to know him better, see him through my eyes, and know just how incredibly special this dog is.

 

Something You Never Want To Prepare For, But Should

Beauford toys.jpg

There have been many nights since Beauford’s diagnosis that I find myself unable to sleep. After  what I can only call ‘the collapse’ on diagnosis day I have tried my very best not to cry in front of him.  I have choked back tears, cried in the shower, or quietly wept while he slept.

I’ve listened to him breathe, snore, and my most favourite – taking in the sights and sounds while he dreams.  The paws shaking, tail wagging, and little woofs he lets out as he dreams are things that are now permanently etched in my memory.

I’ve never been a great sleeper, actually I am a downright rotten one.   It seems that as I lay down to sleep my mind wanders, and takes me on journeys that sometimes I have no interest in taking.  My mind was polluted with thoughts of how can I possibly pack up all this things?  The thought of that, akin to being poisoned by grief.  I thought about all his guys, his beds, his bowls, his special ties, and bow ties, his leashes, bandannas, costumes, coats,  collars, shampoos, coat conditioners, brushes,  and all the other things I’ve acquired over his 6 years to make his life the best it possibly could be.

My home is Beauford.  You walk in my door and he’s everywhere; he has his hooks (shaped like dog bums) and his cubby (filled with all his things).  A dog lives here.  There’s no denying it.  As you enter the living room there’s toy bins that quite honest vomit stuffed animals, balls, bones and tug toys.

Thinking about packing that all away is absolutely agonizing.   The more I thought about it, the deeper I felt myself drowning in grief and he is not even gone yet.  Here’s the thing when you’re facing a loss, any loss, you don’t want to think about these things, and you do your very best not to.   But it’s difficult. You’re only human, and it’s so hard to not think about the stabbing pain that’s to come.

But in these many, many, lost hours of sleep I’ve realized there are things you HAVE TO push into the back of your mind, because if you think about them too much the grief will cripple you, leaving you unable to make new memories, and you’ll fail in making each day special.

The one thing I have allowed myself to do, and I would encourage everyone to take a moment to do this, is plan what you can for the day that you have to say your final goodbye.  I have loved and lost before, and I know that on that very last day it’s a whirlwind of emotion.  There are things that you might forget, things you wish you didn’t.

I have selected Beauford’s final things.  Without question he will be privately cremated, and his ashes will rest in an urn I have selected, with a paw print to accompany it.  The instructions, along with my credit card number, have been placed in an envelope for safe keeping.  I have picked the blanket he will be wrapped in, and I have picked a few of his favorite guys and an entire bag of his favourite treats that will forever rest with him.

All these decisions were made as I listened  to him breathe, snore, and woof in his sleep.   I chose a guy given to him by my father, by his best friend Dexter, and one that has become his security blanket from me.   All of these guys are his favourites, and it gives me great comfort to know that something from everyone he loves will be with him forever.

I wanted to be certain that on Beauford’s last day, whenever that is (hopefully not for a LONG time), that my mind wasn’t bogged down by choices, and I could truly just love him right to his very last breath without fear of forgetting.