My Best Friend

I don’t believe a dog is owned, at least not by me.

The Girl is ready to go. She’s on overwatch for invaders, namely the neighborhood cats who enter the yard to tease her. She’ll tell me if they come into range and will be ready to go.

This dog is my best friend and constant companion. Young Son and I were talking about her just last night. There is so much that could be said about the impact of this dog on my life.

I tell people (probably too many times) that “we rescued each other.” Those who know me know the backstory of how she came to live with us. There is no doubt that she offered much comfort to Wife during her illness and treatment. There is no doubt she was, and is, there for me every day. We are there for each other.

Some people think dogs are property. Perhaps they are in the view of the law. But my understanding is much different now. They are not livestock or pets; they are partners. We work together as a team when we are out and about. I trust her implicitly. If she doesn’t like someone, neither do I. If she leads me away from something, there’s a reason.

In the same way I watch out for her. There are many dangers out there that she does not comprehend or foresee. There are things I know are dangerous that she does not. So I am also on overwatch for her.

We are a team. We are partners.

Sick Girl

The Girl was quite sick for a few days. At least she is home and recovering.

The Girl is home now and recovering. She had a rough couple of days, which required spending some time in hospital.

I noticed last Thursday that she seemed off. She didn’t eat her breakfast, which is not completely unusual, but relative rare. Then while I was in a meeting, she vomited some grass she had eaten. Again, that was not completely unusual, if relatively rare. (She is a grazer and usually just passes the grass.)

Friday she again acted oddly, not wanting her breakfast although we had a nice walk. I noticed that she didn’t seem interested in food or water as well. I worried over her much of the night and she asked to go out several times.

Saturday morning she seemed lethargic and uninterested in much. When offered a walk, we went part way (just a hundred yards or so) before she expelled a very watery stool. She refused water when I offered it, licking a little from my fingers but refusing to drink.

I called the vet and took her in to the urgent care clinic. He checked her over, found nothing obvious, and recommended supportive care and some testing.

I left her in his care. When he called later in the day, he reported that she had an ileus with a lot of inflammation and bloating. He would continue supportive care, hoping the hydration would reduce the inflammation and restore some of the function of her gastrointestinal tract. I could tell he was really concerned for her.

Sunday he called with news that there was some improvement, but that she was still not eating, lethargic, and not interested in water (of course not, with the hydration). That evening I called and he reported that she had eaten a little, the inflammation was down quite a lot, and there was no physical blockage.

Monday she was much improved, eating a little and happy. By the afternoon he indicated that supportive care was no longer needed and that she should come home. That made me very happy. So I retrieved the Girl and brought her home.

But I learned she was still very sick. I coaxed her into drinking water by adding a little juice from a can of chicken to it. I also convinced her to eat a little by adding some canned food to her kibbles (or rather, some kibbles to canned food) and adding a little chicken juice to that). She slept the rest of the day and much of Tuesday.

But Tuesday evening she asked for food and I noticed that she had taken water from her bowl. So I fed her (sweetening the kibbles again) and refilled her water bowl. Tuesday night she wanted to sleep with me again. But OMG was she noxious! Whatever was disturbing her system made some very nasty gas!

And then this morning she acted much better. She again asked for food and to go out. After I fed myself, she asked to go walk. So I took her out to Riverview Park for a walk. The park is still in rough condition, but it’s walkable. There is less risk of her picking up some toxin out there, at least in my opinion.

I think there is a good chance she picked up a toxin while we walked here in town. Perhaps one of the lawns was treated with pesticide or herbicide. Perhaps another animal was sick. But my suspicion is that she picked up something on our walks. Therefore, I’m going to be more careful with where we go and what she nibbles on.

A Rough Couple of Weeks

View from the waiting area outside the Carson Valley Vet Hospital.

It was a rough couple of weeks for the Girl (and of course for me was well). She healed quickly after her surgery. Yes, the mass was a soft tissue sarcoma, but it was low grade and the margins were clear. She has a 15-percent chance of recurrence. I’ll take it.

I made the image on the day we returned so her sutures could be removed. I can do it, but the clinic gets pissy about it if I do. [Heh…] Her wounds were healing nicely and we were released to normal activity again.

However, that afternoon she seemed sick. Her symptoms were coughing and gagging and she ate more grass than usual. I was concerned.

She was not better the next day, refused to go walk, didn’t want any food, and seemed really off. So I called the vet and we returned for the urgent-care clinic that evening (at 1600h).

The vet found nothing obviously wrong and gave me a plethora of diagnosis/treatment options. I elected to go with some supportive care, left the Girl there, and returned to pick her up later in the evening.

She seemed better that Friday (a week ago), so I thought we had passed the worst of it. However, over the weekend I noticed she still wasn’t acting normal. Something was just off.

I struggled with the decision to return to the vet for another visit. It was partly cost and partly the uncertainty that anything definitive would be determined. I hate spending money on medical care with a null outcome. (I have a long history of spending money on medical care with no outcome.) So I thought I’d wait until the weekend passed and see if her condition changed.

Monday came and she refused to walk again. We walked to the mailbox and back, then I drove us up to the old orphanage and we walked the site. She was not feeling well. She kept me up most of the night wanting to go out and just feeling miserable. But, early in the morning she vomited up a bone shard (that I had not seen her eat) about the size of a half-dollar coin.

I thought that might be the problem. So I decided to wait until after the 4th of July holiday to see if another vet call was required.

By Wednesday she was her usual self once again — pestering me to go walkies, asking for play, asking for treats, eating normally, and generally being the pain-in-the-ass that I love.

Her wounds are mostly healed. The rough patches of scar tissue receded. Her fur is growing back (what little of it there is), albeit slowly. She is back to telling me what I want, once again, like most of the women in my life.

It was a rough few weeks. It was horribly expensive, in terms of money, time, and energy. But my constant companion is healthy and happy again. Life is good.

NDEP

The Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, NDEP, is housed in this building. We walk past it many days.

On many mornings, we walk past the building that houses Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, among others. The structure is rather striking from the old state school property, where we meet other doggies and chase ground squirrels.

On our way home, particularly on warm days, The Girl puts on quite a show on the grass landscaping outside the building. Our antics brighten a lot of mornings for folks outside for a walk or a smoke. I hear them chuckle and see them smile at our interaction and her crazy love of the cool grass and shade.

This is a good thing. I like this part of the route quite a lot.

Healing Nicely

This is a happy, if somewhat impatient dog. She’s healing nicely, although she still looks a bit Frankenteinish.

A couple of mornings ago I opened the inside door to let in some morning sun. The Girl immediately gravitated toward the warmth. (She was putting some not-so-subtle pressure on me to go on walkies.) The pose demanded an image.

Although she still looks a bit Frankensteinish, her wounds are healing nicely and the sutures will be removed tomorrow. They don’t seem to bother her and she leaves them alone. She’s really very easy to care for, unlike me.

Healing

Ki Sleeping Peacefully, HealingFriday afternoon, the Girl and I were out in east Carson City near the Carson River looking for some geocaches. We found the one we were looking for near the Mexican Ditch, I signed the log, and then called her back to me to return to the CacheMobile. When she crossed the fence, she snagged the low wire that was on the ground and lacerated her lower right leg. I checked it and there were a couple small gashes, but not a lot of bleeding.

I checked them a couple more times over the weekend, then decided Sunday morning to call her vet. The wounds weren’t closing and I knew they’d take forever to heal without a suture or two. So, they worked us in.

When we arrived, the tech reviewed Ki’s records and suggested we go ahead and do her annual review. I mentioned her two skin cancers and that the vet indicated we should probably just do it all in one swoop so she would only be subjected to anesthesia once. After the office visit, the on-duty vet agreed and so I left her there.

I knew I’d be lost without her, but I had no idea just how anxious I would become. I did everything I could think of to distract myself, short of buying a bottle of whiskey and numbing. I wasn’t really productive Sunday afternoon, but I got part of the irrigation system working and started the process of taking care of my yard for the summer.

The vet called me about 2030. She was in recovery, doing fine, and I could either leave her overnight (without additional charge) or retrieve her. “I’ll be there at 2100,” I said.

I took her discharge instructions, got all the medications assembled, and then carried the poor baby out to the 4Runner. She was so groggy, unhappy, and felt poorly. I could tell all these things. I put her on her mat in the back seat after an abortive attempt to settle her in the front seat pan where she usually rides. The ride home was challenging, but I put on the overhead light and tilted the mirror so I could see her. We made it fine.

She didn’t want her bed on the floor; she wanted it on the sofa, where she usually has it. (I shut the bedroom door; she didn’t need to be jumping on and off the bed. Yes, my dog sleeps with me.) It’s an easy step up to the sofa for her, so I thought that would be fine. I also got my pillows and a blanket and prepared to sleep on the sofa with her.

She really wanted me close. She wanted the comfort and reinforcement that we derive from each other. I tell people all the time that we are both rescues. It’s true.

I really felt badly for her last night. She was so uncomfortable. I wondered whether I did the right thing by bringing her home instead of leaving her in the vet’s care. I guess I won’t ever know.

She groaned and whined most of the night. I felt her stirring in her sleep and could sense her discomfort. I slept off and on. It wasn’t my first time sleeping off and on with someone I love.

But, she woke more like herself this morning. She was stiff and sore, I could tell. But she was ready for breakfast and I opened a can of wet food, gave her some of it with her kibbles, and gave her the medications that will speed her healing.

We took a short walk at noon and she seemed better. I know that some modest exercise will be good for her. She slept off and on most of the afternoon. I spent much of my day on her, just sitting with her or being close. We are like that anyway.

We walked a mile this evening and she did well. I needed the walk and I think that the movement will help keep her skin stretched and supple. The vet took a lot of skin from her skin cancers.

So she’s healing. Her physical wounds will be healed in a couple of weeks. In the process of reflecting on her treatment and healing, I thought on my own. I realized that I’m still healing from Wife’s loss. I’m healing from the departure of a dear friend and my dog’s trainer. I don’t think I’ve begun healing from my change of employment status from employee to self-employed, yet, but it’s impending.

Healing is good. It takes time. It takes work and an investment of positive energy. I also think the being mindful of the need and the process is important. I am still learning, after all.