Posts tagged ‘beagle’

life without sadie

on sunday, february 20, 2011, my husband and i put our sweet old beagle to sleep. we were blessed to be able to have our vet come to our house, so sadie passed away in the comfort of her own living room, surrounded by her family: myself, jason, and our other dog, molly.

poor sadie was 14 (give or take a few years; we never knew because she was a rescue) and had lived through a lot of crappy medical issues. in chronological order: chronic urinary tract infections–that had to be managed over the course of her life with expensive prescription food and antibiotics when she got stressed out—she must’ve had at least 40 over her little lifetime; she had a malignant mammary tumor that required two surgeries; she had cataracts; rocky mountain spotted fever; she was basically deaf and blind; she had a stroke that preceded a year of canine dementia, aka pacing all night long and getting stuck under chairs and in cabinets; a malignant melanoma on her eyelid; and old lady bumps that weren’t healing. and—oh yeah—she had been incontinent for about 5 years. most recently, she was going to the bathroom inside right in front of us, meaning we couldn’t walk safely through our house without checking for bombs and puddles. she was taking a very strong opiate paint killer twice a day and she was maxed out on prednisone. in other words, we were out of reasonable interventions.

when she started having trouble lying down, sometimes whimpering in pain or confusion, we decided it was time. as anyone who’s ever contemplated euthanasia will know, this was not a decision we came to easily. for anyone who’s struggling with an older dog, i highly recommend the book good old dog: expert advice for keeping your aging dog happy, healthy, and comfortable, edited by nicholas dodman with lawrence lindner, written with input from faculty of the vet school at tufts university. the advice we got from the book helped us eke out three more months with our little lady.

you don’t always get to choose when, where, and how your dog will go, but we knew things were headed downhill, so we were able to give sadie a great last weekend. lots of chicken–something she normally couldn’t have–pancakes for breakfast, and lots and lots of treats.

the letters that follow are my way of dealing with what has surprised me as a heartbreaking loss. i really thought i was more psychologically prepared, as we had already started to grieve her loss before we made our end of life decision. but as it turns out, all the crying in the world couldn’t save me from even more crying. my eyes have never been so puffy and raw.

life without sadie, day 0

life without sadie, day 1

life without sadie, day 2

life without sadie, day 3

life without sadie, day 4

life without sadie, day 5

February 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm 2 comments

how to make the most of your vacation

first, let me say that you can’t make the most of any vacation without spending quality time with your family, preferably a whole bunch of them.  I don’t think it’s fair to apply these rules to a tropical paradise or anywhere with a hot tub.  if your vacation involves a spa, a quiet retreat, or a plan, it doesn’t count.  read no further.

family funtimes

  1. begin the trip by driving 8 to 10 hours in the car with an incontinent old dog.  this should really set the stage for future enjoyment.  if she poops more than once–inside the car, of course, hopefully just after you’ve started your trip or anytime after you’ve tried to get her to go to the bathroom at some little strip of grass next to a starbuck’s–give yourself extra points.  don’t have what you need to clean up?  have to travel with that smell?  more points.
  2. arrive, greet family, and immediately fall asleep from total exhaustion.  yay!  the gang’s all here!
  3. the next day, spend at least 4 hours trying to come up with a plan for the day.  if everyone agrees on where to go, you lose.  if everyone wants to do something different but everyone must do the same thing, you win!  make sure that when you are finally ready to go, everyone has to eat lunch, go to the bathroom, and can’t decide who should drive.  bonus points if it’s now too late in the day to do much of anything.
  4. be sure to get injured early on in your trip, ideally on the first day, and if at all possible, accidentally and by your husband.  make sure this happens inside a crowded minivan and sounds totally improbable.  that way, when you do finally seek medical attention, you’ll be sure to enjoy all the questions from concerned nurses about whether or not you’re safe.
  5. continue with your plans for the day, because why should you stop for injuries?  just take an ibuprofen, suck it up–tears are for sissies–and borrow some drugs from family members.  bonus points for going to a popular tourist area where people stare at your tear-streaked face and you unsuccessfully try to look happy.  oh, those are going to be some great pictures.  did I not tell you to travel with familial paparazzi?  my bad.

    that's me, in the green, trying to look like I'm having a good time. seriously, I'm trying to smile. unsuccessfully.

  6. lose a hubcap.  if you’re on a very busy street at night in the rain, all the better.
  7. remember that dog that you brought with you?  kennel her.  old dogs love chaotic new environments.  and you love shelling out cash.  win, win!  bonus points for kenneling her neurotic canine companion with the old dog just so she has something familiar to be with.  double the pleasure, double the cost!
  8. take an overnight trip to stay with someone you’ve never met.  come on, it’ll be fun.  oh cool, she has an amazing house.  oh poo, it’s hard to enjoy it when you’re injured.  well good, we wouldn’t want you to have too much fun.
  9. did we say overnight trip?  sorry you only packed one change of clothes, we’re staying for two nights.  learn to read minds and you’ll avoid this kind of issue in the future.  bonus points if you turn your underwear inside out or go commando on the last day.
  10. be sure to have some kind of dietary issue that prevents you from eating, oh I don’t know, wheat or something, so that there’s not much for you to eat.  not a problem since you injured your jaw, but be sure to get really hungry and have low blood sugar so that you can…
  11. totally lose it.  publicly.  in front of the whole family and that nice new lady you just met.  at whose house you’re staying.  you want to make a good first impression, don’t you?
  12. it’s always nice to include a trip to the ER in any vacation.  don’t miss out on this one!
  13. spend $18 for parking.  spend $50 on your copay.  I know, it’s cheap.  ideally you’d pay much more.
  14. walk out without a clear understanding of your problem.  be told to rest your jaw for 48-72 hours.  that means no talking and only liquids.  sure it reduces the pain, but it also makes for a fun vacation.
  15. fight with your brand new insurance company.  oh, did I not mention this occurs over the new year holiday?  whoops.  bonus points if your trip includes a weekend, when you can’t actually speak to anyone anyway.
  16. pick up your dogs from the kennel and shell out another $240.  you don’t like having money anyway.  I mean, what are you, a member of the bourgeoisie? pfffft.
  17. get the sensation from the stinky puddle of urine on your old dog’s bed and blanket that she is coming down with yet another urinary tract infection.
  18. try to get seen for a mandated follow-up to your ER appointment by your primary care doctor and be told by the snippy-but-in-a-perky-I’m-being-helpful-sort-of-way receptionist that the first available appointment is 5 months away.  continue to question her as to the possibility of being seen in a timely manner, and get an appointment a week away.  with dr. frankenstein.  it’s pronounced dr. franken-steen.  and no, I’m not kidding.  resist the urge to laugh and reference mel brooks movies.  she won’t get it anyway.
  19. spend sleepless nights taking your old dog out every two hours so she can strain out little teeny piddles of stinky pee.  bonus points if it’s cold out.
  20. return home, feeling the need for a vacation from your vacation.
    1. continue to fight the labyrinthian “health”-care/insurance system.  complain to your insurance company about not being seen in a timely manner and be shocked that they agree with you.  they file an expedited grievance, only to decide that your claim is not “that urgent” being that it’s not a matter of life-and-death, only a matter of pain and happiness.  take the damn vicodin and shut the hell up.  you don’t need to function, just stop calling the nice doctors and insurance people and bothering them with your silly little complaint.  don’t call us, we’ll call you.
    2. get your old dog in to see her doctor, same day, and shell out $80 for her antibiotics to cure her UTI.  remember, we’re trying to turn this inexpensive trip to see family into an epic, long-lasting, cash-wasting extravaganza.  they’ll sing songs of it years from now.
    3. actually convince your insurance company to switch you back to your old insurance company once you berate them, once again, with your tale of woe.  get to see your old doctor.  get an appointment for a specialist in 20 days.
    4. learn to get really creative with soft food.

the upside of our vacation is that we found that hubcap, amazingly, days later.  oh, and we did get to spend time with family and friends.  there was a little time for me to visit my favorite berkeley haunts, in-between the ER visit and sleepless nights with our old beagle.  a successful vacation, no?

I had the best of intentions of maintaining blog posts and sending you great pictures from the road, but after about 24 hours, that hope dissolved into a puddle of tears.  maybe next time.

January 12, 2011 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

a little science for you…

for your edification, i present to you the mangled finger graph.  part of a little experiment i like to call “not-so-still-life with beagle”.  it’s not as bad as it looks, but my sweet little beagle did bite me pretty hard on my right index finger while i was trying to give her a medicine that is very good for her.  my finger isn’t horribly mangled, but it is bruised and hurts a lot when i try to, say, use it.  the tape reminds me not to before the pain can remind me that i have short term memory problems.

that’s the least of my woes, however.  having an injured finger limits the amount of crafting i can do, so i’m not sure what’s on tap for today.  i’m not even doing a very good job with all this typing.  if i didn’t concentrate, my post would look like this:

rigt idex figer does’t work so well toda.

for those of you who have working right index fingers, that reads: my right index finger doesn’t work so well today.

sigh.  i guess from my dog’s point of view, i have 10 fingers, so what’s one less?  i mean, i have opposable thumbs, right?!

February 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm 2 comments

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