Friday, June 30, 2006

Gone Fishin'

Well, folks, we're off to Quebec tomorrow morning for six days, leaving Sparkey and Tina in the care of wonderful people who will look after their every creature comfort and need. We feel certain that Sparkey will not be leaving us while we're out of town, but we've also told him explicitly that his time to pass is his own and he can go when he's ready to do so, even if that means going while we're out of town. The dog-sitter knows what to do in that eventuality, and the vet is standing by. Hmmm.

We bless our dogs and our home and leave them in good conscience. May these next days also bless you, dear Readers, until we meet again.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pre-Vacation Jitters

We're leaving on Saturday for a six-day trip to Quebec with Mary's Texan parents who will be in Montreal for a convention. We honestly never expected Sparkey to be around in July, especially taking into consideration the poor prognosis he received when hospitalized on Easter Sunday with acute renal failure.

Nonetheless, we're going away, leaving the dogs in the care of a very trusted dog-sitter with whom the dogs are quite comfortable. My brother---who is already comfy with the IV process---will actually pass through town on Saturday and do his avuncular duty for one night. A friend who is also a nurse will assist said dog-sitter in becoming comfortable with the nightly IV treatment and will be on-call as needed. Two other nurse friends will also be available.

In terms of a potential for Sparkey's death while we're away, we understand that animals and people will sometimes wait to die until their loved ones are not around, and it would not be a great surprise if Sparkey also chose such a manner of exit. However, my intuition says that he will be around for the summer and perhaps leave us in the autumn as the leaves turn the color of his orange coat. Who knows? At any rate, if he should meet his maker while we're out of town, his body will be taken by the vet and stored in anticipation of our return.

Neighbors keep remarking how good the old guy looks, despite the skinny skinny waist, bony hips, and scraping back paws with ataxic gait. As one neighbor said yesterday, he still has a bounce to his step and a flop to his ears.

Here's to more bounce and flop!


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In the morning....

When I woke up this rainy morning, both dogs were sleeping back to back, separated by a red pillow. Some of you may not know this, but Tina has REM Behavior Disorder, which causes her to act out her dreams and howl like a banshee as she thrashes all about (you have to see it to believe it!). It's no small miracle that Sparkey and she slept side by side for even a few hours.

The old guy is so tolerant of his freaky sister.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mama to the rescue

Earlier in the week, the dogs and I had a lovely little late afternoon walk to the pond where the dogs took what used to be their daily dip, that is, until Sparkey got too weak to make it every day :( On the way back, Sparkey put on the brakes and would not budge. I thought it was because of his usual stubbornness and was pleased to see his enthusiasm for staying outside, so when i gently tugged and pleaded for him to move along, he adamantly refused. Then I saw that poor old Bob's back paws were raw and bleeding. Poor baby had scraped the tops of his back paws from dragging them along instead of lifting them all the way. You see, he doesn't have the leg strength and his legs are too atrophied to move well for him, so they kind of drag on the up-step. This results in little sores that look like dog stigmata and keep getting reopened, but never this badly before.

So, I sprang into action and tied Sparka-dee-dog to a tree. Leaving him under the shade of the tree and verbal reassurance of my return, Tina and I then sprinted off to pick-up the Bob with the car. I hope he knew the plan and sent rescue images to him so he wouldn't worry, but before I got home, I heard a few loud Sparkey-in-distress barks. I left Tina in the house for simplicity's sake and drove off to the rescue. I honked the horn as I approached Sparkey, but of course, because of his partial deafness, he looked for the sound to come from another direction. Then he turned and saw mommy! I opened my arms outstretched to him just as I did the day we first met and walked toward him. He gleefully came to me, happy ears riding back, and we kissed. Then I took off the leash and he made a bee-line to the open door of the car where he contemplated being able to get in, but found he had to wait for my assistance. I think he felt true relief and joy after being plopped into the familiar car, riding along with his female alpha dog, the scents in the breeze making his muzzle examine the air. Oh, what a dog, and a dog's dog at that! I love you, Sparkey!


Down Time with Dogs

The other day, I had the great need to be home on the middle of the work week. Not only was my throat on fire and my lungs distressed, I was exhausted from a major event at work the day before, so this gal needed some time to do a whole lotta nothin' between the sheets. Guess who joined me (but next to, not under, the sheets?) That's right, Tina and the boy (or Sparkey and the girl)...Ahhh what a relaxing time we had, I got the chance to once again be student from these canine creature teachers and relearn how to relax, nap, breathe, and snooze! It was simply divine. Even though I was physically ill, I was so happy just to lay around with them. That's dog co-piloting at its best there, sir. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz:0


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Health Update

A few emails from friends have inquired if Sparkey is OK, even though they had read this blog. This perhaps means that we have not really given a recent health update other than to say "the boy's OK". Well, the boy's OK, and by that I mean that he is receiving his IV every night with little complaint, taking his two medications wrapped in a lunchmeat burrito twice a day, and eating fairly admirable amounts of freshly barbecued chicken and beef mixed with white rice and Kibbles 'n' Bits. He drinks water like a fiend and pants alot in this hot weather, but what dog doesn't do that?

Walks are slow, and mostly around our very shady and sweet block. I keep him off-leash but watch him closely as he can't hear or necessarily see cars coming. Walks are always---and I mean always---punctuated by concentrated grass eating, Sparkey apparently in his "salad days". Unlike when he was younger, he doesn't seem to eat grass in order to induce vomiting (think "Canine Ipecac"). Rather, he seems to enjoy the tender new blades, especially after a few days of rain. Perhaps he knows intuitively that it's good for the ol' kidneys?

Speaking of kidneys, we need to call our vet and request some bloodwork, namely kidney function and thyroid levels, so we know where we stand metabolically. Other than that, we are on doggie auto-pilot and hoping that Sparkey can enjoy the summer with as little discomfort as possible. We will watch like hawks for hot spots on his skin, a sure source of distress, infection and itchiness, potentially much worse now that he can't scratch as well with his hind legs.

So, in terms of health, he's steady as he goes. Any changes will be promptly posted here.

Dog is my co-pilot.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Still Here.....

We went on our first overnight trip this weekend since Sparkey became ill on in April, and he made it through the weekend without incident. I gave him his IV fluids on Saturday morning, then again on Sunday when we returned home at 6pm, and tonight we will resume our regularly scheduled bedtime IV session.

Based upon the prognosis given by the animal hospital and by our own vet, we truly did not expect Spark to make it until summer. Due to his impaired kidney function, we'll need to keep a close eye on his hydration status and be sure not to expose him to excessive heat or walks during the hottest times of day.

We have had a trip to Canada with Mary's parents planned for the first week of July for a number of months, and again never expected Bob to be around until then. At this rate, it seems that he certainly will be (barring unforeseen circumstances) and we have a reliable and loving dog-sitter ready to spend the week here. This kind gentleman is also expressing complete willingess to administer the IV fluids in our absence, precluding our need to also hire a visiting nurse during our absence. He will be amply compensated for such dedication and service.

The magic of Sparkey's life continues and we can only be thankful for this apparently extended time. It seems our movie contains scenes which we never expected to reach the screen of life, but here we are, and there's plenty of film left......


Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Our lives simply revolve around our dogs these days. In thirteen years of dog-human relations, we've never sent our dogs to a kennel, always arranging for house/dog-sitters to stay with the spoiled pups whenever we've left town, even for up to a month at a time.

With Sparkey's current illness, hiring our friend David to visit and walk the dogs daily while we're at work is an absolute necessity, and he spends extra time giving them love, affection, treats, and company. David leaves us a note every day. To wit:

"Hello there. I gave Sparkey his pills. Yessiree. We had a nice stroll and they both POOPED. The they had some chicken nuggets which were very popular (Sparkey always gets the lion's share). Now I'm scratching Tina's neck. She's my little fuddlebum. OK then. I'll be back tomorrow, rain or shine. See you----D."

As you can imagine, having such living and individualized attention for our pups while we're far away is a little piece of heavenly relief. This weekend, with a graduation party in New Jersey planned months in advance, we've been at a loss to find dog care. Our usual suspects are unavailable and we were contemplating taking the dogs on the long drive and staying in a nice pet-friendly hotel as we've done in the past. But luckily it's David the Dog-Sitter Extraordinaire to the rescue and we can rest in the knowledge that he will spend Saturday night partying at home with Sparkey and Tina. We'll be sure to supply them all with lots of chicken nuggets and BBQ chicken with white rice.

Life's good in Dogville. Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Today's Photos

Here's some shots of a sleepy guy on this cloudy Sunday morning. We're amazed and pleased that he just keeps on keeping on. The Spark's appetite is good (as long as I barbecue chicken!), he's taking his meds, going for walks, and the nightly IV continues with little protest.

Yesterday, we took him to a nearby field where we brushed him down, removing enormous amounts of fur. This fur, which generally coats the interior of our house, was left in piles dotting the field, blowing in the wind, and hopefully becoming part and parcel of some lucky nearby birds' nest.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Am I, Chopped Liver?

Here's Tina with some new friends to disembowel.

As sick as Sparkey may be, the girl needs love, too. Maybe more than ever.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

The I.V. League

Tonight, during the ritual of giving Sparkey his IV fluids, Mary dubbed us "The I.V. League". Here's a photo of yours truly compressing a 1000 cc bag of Lactated Ringers in my fist to exert as much pressure as possible and keep the fluid flowing at the quickest possible rate. Since we're not going into a vein, I can run it as fast as I can make it go. With an 18-gauge needle, I can infuse 500 cc's in about 10 minutes if I squeeze the bag continuously. (Notice that I have my legs over Sparkey's front legs to keep him prone.)

---Keith, with kudos to Mary for the title

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Uh-Oh, Dookie Boy

Sleepy boy is really the cutest boy. Why, even today as our friends arrived and were expressing their delight to see how well Bob is doing, I noticed a little brown thing on the floor that looked like a piece of poop. And poop it was. Our guests brought their little dog along so we all thought he was the culprit, but when we turned around, we saw a big pile of poop right by the front door that hadnt been there more than a quick minute. And it was too big to be their little doggie's. Besides, the pooper himself was standing right by it looking at us with such a sweet smile, as if to say, "Someting wrong here, mon?" We quickly got to cleaning as it stank the place right up. Good thing our thoughtful guests brought such lovely, fragrant flowers to grace our home with. Their timing could not have been better.

After our lovely brunch, i brought my friend upstairs to give her a dress, and her little doggie followed along. Then he takes a big leak right on the carpet. Oops! So i scrub that up and they apologise and all is well.

Later, our new and badly needed fridge arrives which means the old fridge has to be moved and whatever has been living under there for the past 20 years will be ours to deal with, including a heap o' mouse poop from our winter mouse guests. More scrub-a-dub-a-dubbin'!

Moral of the story is, don't forget to knock on wood when you are raving about the health improvement of someone you love who aint been well.

Hope of the story is that Bob's poop accident isn't the beginning of a new level of his demise. The doctor said old dogs will be incontinent and not even know it. That sure is what appeared to happen this morning...wish us well, dearies.

---the poop patrol
a la mary