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An Awesome Pup and His Human

An American Bulldog's Story

An Awesome Pup and His Human

Chemo. Day One.

April 7th, 2018 · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

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Today at the (doggie) oncologist’s office, another (human) client came in after I, and checked in, sat down while I filled out paperwork. Then one of the clinic staff came over with a bath mat, offering Roscoe an alternative to the tile.

He lay down on the mat, wagging his tail while he looked at the other human client. After a few minutes, she said, “My stars. I can’t help it. You are just too darn adorable.” She got up, walked across the lobby, knealt down, gave Roscoe a big hug and then a couple minutes of belly rub, telling him what a happy and loved dog he is.

There are some really bad headlines in the world these days.  Then there are the headlines we walk through.  I’m guessing right now that for every painful thing that happens in a life, there are hundreds or thousands of blessings and miracles that happen as well.  I wonder how many of these things I have missed?  I’ve seen more than a few, but now that my mind is more like a dog’s, I see it everywhere. Cups runneth over all over the place. Blessings pour out of every unexpected place. Mr. Rogers was right:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

These people that show a little kindness out of the blue are my heroes, and I never noticed there are so many of you out there.  I knew you were out there, but never realized just how many.

Living gospels.

Roscoe is doing really well, considering how I thought he might be eight hours after his first round of chemo.  His appetite isn’t as voracious as it normally is, but he’s got appetite.  He’s even playing with Hazel tonight after a long day.  He walked a few hundred yards altogether, I’m sure.  When we got home, he had a little face-plant near the front door, but I’m thinking he caught the scent of a cat or possum, and stopped to take it in.

I’m happy with my vet’s choice of specialist.

I’m stoked to be comforting my friend.

I have no words for how I feel about his comfort to me.

He’s a gem.

Humans favor their dogs.


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Deep Breath. Keep Breathing.

April 5th, 2018 · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

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“What the Heck.  Let’s See How He Does.”

I went to see Roscoe again on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.  I figured he would be discharged, after almost three weeks at the clinic.  Buddy the vet was talking to me about Roscoe’s progress when he said, “…so how is next week looking for you?  You good with him being discharged Tuesday or Wednesday?”

I tried to hide my heart sinking.  I’d really been hoping Roscoe would come home today.  Yeah, there were still staples in.  Yeah, there were still stitches where the drains had been.  Yeah, he was still a little lacking in the endurance and strength departments.  But I was missing him.  I was becoming jealous that if he is only getting 3-6 months, the clinic staff is getting three weeks of that time.

I fought back my disappointment and frustration, though.  I wanted Buddy to be confident that I trust him.

“Well, I was kind of hoping he could come home today, but I’m okay with whatever you think is best.”  I continued scratching Roscoe behind the ear, as he grinned his ongoing smile of happiness, I’m sure mixed with a measure of anxiety.

I guess I couldn’t hide the look on my face too well, because Buddy quickly took another tack.  “Aw.  You know what?  What the hell.  Take him home and let’s see how he’ll do.  (qualification) We’ll need him back Monday to run some labs if we’re going to go forward with chemo, though.  If you can bring him back for labs, go ahead and see how he does for a night or two.”

And Then the Next Slap in the Face

I dropped Roscoe off at the clinic on Easter Sunday afternoon, after a really awesome 24 hours home.  The doc asked how it went.  I gave my report.  “Everything was good with mobility and with Hazel (my other dog).  However,” I continued, “…he’s panting a lot and licking at his right arm.  I think he’s over-exerting.  He’s got a lot of spunk and has been following me everywhere around the house.  I think he’s just moving around more at the house than he has been at the clinic.”

Doc said they would keep an eye on him and run labs first thing Monday, and have him ready for discharge Monday afternoon.

I got a phone call Monday morning.  “We are sending the labs and x-rays to the oncologist and an orthopedist.  (pause)  There is a shadow on the distal tip of the right ulna.  It’s not clear what it is.  It may just be a shadow.  It doesn’t have the same moth-eaten pattern that is characteristic of osteosarcoma, but we don’t know what to make of it.”

As my sister put it in an SMS reply:  “Shit.”

My heart sped up a bit.  I felt like vomiting.  I wanted to be angry at something, but had no target.  I wanted to be furious, but I didn’t know where to direct it.  I took a deep breath, and accepted that life is terminal for everything that lives.  I think a couple more tears escaped me.  That’s been kind of the norm for the last month or so.  Then, a moment of pause.

For now, I was deeply thankful to just have the chance at one more night with my buddy.  No doubt I felt betrayed that so many have gone through so much to be so hopeful; only for a shadow to show on an x-ray mere days after amputation.

“Whatever it is on the x-ray, I’m picking him up tonight,” I told the doc, “I need him home.”

He tried to reassure me, “Absolutely.  But don’t read more into this than I am saying.  Let’s hear what they think before we jump to conclusions.  It’s a shadow.  We are consulting them for their opinion.”

I was 25 miles away from the clinic when I got out of class.  There was still no follow-up from the clinic.  Anyone who knows Austin traffic knows that there is no easy way out of the city at rush hour, and while I live in the city, the clinic is in the suburbs .  I took a toll lane that I swore I would never use to get to a clinic I knew was going to be busy enough that I would have to wait for a few minutes.

Two vets came into the exam room before they brought Roscoe to me.  Both of them were smiling.

I like smiling vets.

“The shadow was only visible on one angle.  We re-shot it at a different angle and the bone appears normal.  Both the oncologist and ortho agree it’s just a positional shadow on a normal ulna.  We all recommend starting chemo this week, if possible, and if you still want to go that route.  CBC is optimal.  Chest and other views are clear,” one of them said.

I reminded myself that life itself is a fatal condition.

I was thankful, again, for one more night with Roscoe.  In a bigger way, I was thankful for a lot of things that I seem to normally take for granted.  It’s a small token, the things that a pup can teach us, a small but priceless token.

The first 48 hours in five weeks without a visit to a kennel or hospital.

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A Few Days Before Discharge

April 4th, 2018 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

March 27: Roscoe with his five year old rescued sister Hazel, a few days before discharge. A little better every day.

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Finally. We Get to See Each Other.

April 3rd, 2018 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Surgery was on a Wednesday.  The clinic wanted me to hold off on visiting on Thursday.  Again on Friday.

On Friday, Henry the surgical tech, told me, “He’s turning his nose at wet food.  What is something he doesn’t turn down?”

“Boiled eggs.  He’s a sucker for them,” I replied.

On Friday, Henry told me that, “Roscoe is doing really well.  He’s got a lot of bruising.  He is eating.  He is wagging his tail when I look at him.  He is getting ‘really talkative,’ (code for he’s starting to whine and get cabin fever).”

On Saturday, again a talk with Henry,  “We are working on getting him up and around, and it’s better every day.  Be patient.  One thing though.  He’s not eating well.  Even the eggs we got for him.  He’ll eat the yolk, but spits out the whites.”

I answered with all I could think…. “Uh…. ground beef, rinsed; with rice?  Or French fries.  Maybe boiled Chicken,” I said, “but I doubt you have any of those lying around.”

“That’s okay.  We’ll get something.  If he’s still not eating, we’ll call you,” he said.  And they did.  They went to a local grocery store to pick up things they thought he would eat.  There is a reason I’ve been going to this same vet for about 20 years, now.

Sunday, I got a call from the vet who originally saw Roscoe.  “I’d like for you to come in and see him whenever you can.  He is picky with his eating, and he’s too smart for us to give him his pills.  We got him a rotisserie chicken, and he ate a little, until we tried putting his meds in it.  Now he’s eating the chicken and spitting out the meds.  Once he realizes we’ve put meds in something, he won’t eat it again.  It is so bizarre.  Maybe he’ll eat for you?”

“Can I come tonight?” I asked, with the enthusiasm of a six-year old awaiting Christmas morning.

“Come on up.  We’re closed, but we’ll be here.”

Four days after surgery. Our first visit.

We spent an hour together.  Thirty minutes of the hour was spent spooning on the tile floor, after I noticed he was shivering a little.  I’m pretty sure we almost fell asleep.  I just knew it was only a matter of mere hours before he could come home….

He ate for me.  Then I tried slipping him some antibiotics and pain pills.  He looked at me like he was mafia, and I was the dumb schmuck that had tried to pull a fast one.

I understand Shakespeare’s words a little better, now that I’ve seen them in my dog’s eyes, “Et tu, Brute?

(Sorry, bud.  Just trying to help.)

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A man showing ‘baby’ pictures….

April 2nd, 2018 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Roscoe keeping Hazel warm. Because I can upload this, and it’s cool.

My 11-year-old niece, Alyson, drew me a picture of Roscoe when she heard that Roscoe was sick.

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