Coffee heat rising

Lo! A Dog Emerges!

Well, lookee here! Suddenly I have a whole new dog!

Don’t know how Cassie was doing it, but she had the pup completely buffaloed. That would explain why Ruby took up residence under the toilet and, most of the time, refused to come out.

Ruby has decided it may be safe now to come out. And lo and behold! She’s turning into a dog. She’s no longer a stuffed animal into which you occasionally pour food.

One of the neighborhood kids lost a small rubber ball, which somehow made its way over the back wall. Ruby has been interested in it for awhile, but a) has had no clue what to do with a ball and b) the thing is too hard and heavy for her to maneuver even if she did know what to do with it.

Well. While I was running around town this morning, I picked up some tennis balls at the Fry’s.

It took her all of about 10 or 15 minutes to figure out what to do with one of them. Before long she was running after it and then fetching it back to me. Now she’s carried it out into the backyard.

Her vocabulary has exploded: She now knows where’s the ball??? and THERE it is! and Git it git it git it! and bring that ball and GOOOD bring that ball!

What a dawg!

I think she is going to become a Whole New Dog. By yesterday morning — before I went on the ball-search expedition — I’d noticed she was changing. She never used to sit on the doggy blanket beside my chair in the family room. Before, if I picked her up, brought her in there, and set her on the blanket, she’d get up and trot back to the toilet nest. But Tuesday evening she parked herself right at my side.

Yesterday I washed all the dog blankets and all the doggy bathroom-rug mats — started this project to get the sick-dog stink out of some of them, and then realized that washing out the Cassie perfume must help convince Ruby that Ruby can be Ruby now. Picked up an $8 bathroom rug, because a few of the remnants are past the age of laundering, and then put the re-usable ones into the washer. Ran them through two or three times with detergent and baking soda, in hopes of deodorizing them, though I’m sure that’s not 100% to the canine nose.

You know intellectually that dogs are strange. But sometimes they do amaze you.

In the aftermath of Cassie

Ruby, it appears, has noticed that Cassie has been gone for a long time. Does she suspect her pal — her packmate, her foster mother — is never coming back? Does she care?

Well, not speaking doggish, I don’t know whether she cares. I’d guess she probably notices.

But y’know, dogs are creatures of ego. By and large, the Self comes first,  unless an Other is aggressively in one’s face. And I am not very much in anyone’s face.

So far Ruby the Corgi seems unfazed. People claim that dogs grieve, but I have rarely found that to be the case, except possibly when M’hijito has gone out of town and left Charley here: when he’s not been playing with the corgis or scarfing down food, that dog will sit on the living-room floor near near the front door. When I had to put Walt the Greyhound down, I came home and sat on the floor — the very same floor — and wept for 15 minutes. Anna, a preternaturally empathetic and intelligent dog, came over and sat beside me. Little imagination would require a human to jump to the conclusion — probably a wrong conclusion — that she understood what was up and was mourning with me. But…shortly we got up and went about our business, dog and human.

Dogs seem to get over whatever mourning they do rather quickly.

Connie the Big-Rig Trucker was here for an hour or so. Ruby was thrilled to have her and climbed on the sofa to be sure she was never lonely. She wouldn’t think of climbing on the sofa when it’s just me! {sob!} 😀

When Connie left, Ruby went back to her nest under the toilet. But she decided to come out when I called her and suggested she might like to get back on the bed, which is a great deal warmer and softer than the tile bathroom floor.

The morning walk fell far short of a mile, because Ruby decided (well…and so did I) that we should go south instead of into the Richistans. This is a pleasant neighborhood but it requires traversing two cul-de-sacs and backtracking 2½ blocks to fabricate a full mile-long route. And about the time we got down to Feeder Street East/West I realized I’d forgotten to bring the poop bags. So we needed to move right along and get back to the Funny Farm quickly, before Her Dogship defiled one of the neighbor’s yards in full view of the occupant.

At the corner of Feeder East/West and Dowdy Money Lane stands Cassie’s favorite locale for defiling. This is a sprawling late mid-century modern ranch house that spreads out on a large corner lot. It has a bank of wide ceiling-to-floor picture windows along the front wall of the living room. In this house dwells a hound: a large white, tan, and black pointer. The hound keeps an eye on the world through said windows, and whenever it becomes aware of another dog, it springs into action, madly patrolling and craving to lunge through the barrier and pounce the canine intruder. Thus, said dog alerts its owner to the presence of incoming nuisances.

Cassie just loved that dog. Because…she loved to hunker down and take a dump right in front of it while it barked frantically! 😀 This meant she was often dumping in front of the owner, who of course quickly came to recognize the perps. This, to the human mind, was not very desirable, so I used to try to pass that house on the other side of the street, to avoid the persistent annoying performance.

LOL! At any rate, we did alert the pointer, but Ruby was more interested in trotting along than in making whatever statement Cassie used to make. Nevertheless, I cut the stroll fairly short because I didn’t want to leave any mounds on a neighbor’s yard. Figured to go out again this afternoon, only armed for bear (scat).

But…this afternoon it’s cold out there and raining and the wind is blowing. Not very inviting doggy-walk weather. So we’re re-ensconced atop the bed, with the heating pad again on the human’s back, spavined by days of lifting, carrying, and setting down a nearly inert 25-pound dog.

Check this out:

Zion Corgis is the breeder who produced Ruby. Is that not the cutest little gem you ever saw?

Problem is, she has a chronic, genetically mediated eye problem: dry eye. This will have to be expensively treated for the rest of her life. Looks like Lindsay is trying to get someone to take her on for ostensibly free. But it’s not exactly a give-away: she wants to be reimbursed for some of the medical bills she’s racked up on this pup, and…well…lemme tellya about extracting those prescription eyedrops every three or four months:

You can’t get that stuff from just any ordinary vet (which would be pricey enough). No. You have to go to a veterinary eye specialist, where you will be charged through the schnozzola for every refill.

This was the case when Anna the GerShep developed pannus in her old age. The eye vet announced that he had to re-examine the dog every time he dispensed permission to buy another expensive vial of eye meds. So chances are that $54 per prescription is just for the eyedrops…

😀 So what you’re really looking at there is the cutest walking vet bill you’ve ever seen.

M’hijito thinks I should speak up and try to get her. But if a retiree can’t afford an ordinary healthy dog (two thousand bucks? seriously? 😀 😀 😀 ), she sure can’t afford one that comes with a congenital eye problem requiring a specialist’s care.

Oh well. If one wants a walking vet bill, there’s always a fine German shepherd to be had:

Au Revoir, Little Cassie

It was time. It was definitely time.

Today my sick little dog was no better and indeed seemed worse than ever before. For the past several days, she not only hasn’t been able to walk more than a couple of steps, most of the time she couldn’t stand up at all. If you picked her up and set her on her feet, her legs would collapse beneath her. So the decision was made to assist her off this mortal coil. The vet’s staff set today as The Day and 3:40 p.m. as The Hour.

Meanwhile, some time back I’d volunteered to drive some friends out to Sun City to visit a fellow choir member who recently received a diagnosis that is not actually dire but is indeed damn scary. As I was trying to figure how I was going to get out there, go to lunch, herd up my passengers, deliver them back to the church, and return to the Funny Farm in time to snatch up the dog and fly across the city to the vet’s office, one of our dauntless leaders suggested someone else could help drive and I should drive out there in my car, park at the restaurant, and take off at a timely moment.

This worked well.

Back at the house, Cassie was about the same as she was when I left a few hours earlier: inert. Immobile. But still breathing. She’d been in a daze for the past five days, apparently confused about where she is and why she’s here…when she’s conscious enough to consider such cosmic questions. She’d been experiencing violent seizures, mostly focused in the hind hips and legs. By yesterday they were so drastic they would make her yelp, apparently in pain. I thought of them as convulsions, and when I described them to the vet this afternoon saying I didn’t know whether to call them spasms or convulsions, she said “convulsion” was the right term.

So I shovel her into the car and schlep her across the city to the veterinarian’s office. Carried her through the door and was ushered into an examination room, where we laid her on a thick folded-up blanket on the table.

The poor little dog was so sick and so stunned that she literally did not move. That is not an exaggeration: when laid down, she did not move again. It’s possible that she was unconscious.

The vet was shocked: “This is not what I expected to happen,” she said.

Yeah. Well, none of us did.

I said if she had any ideas that might help, I’d be happy to try them. She agreed, after examining the dog, that it was time to put her to sleep. She did not think the problem was Cushing’s: she said this was not what Cushing’s looks like. But she said when a dog just lays inert like that — “lateral,” as she put it — it’s a bad sign.

I’ve had several dogs and cats euthanized, but have never watched the process. Emotionally, that has seemed way beyond the pale. The owner’s presence now being all the rage, though, I felt pressured to be there. And it was interesting.

First, it was interesting because it was a great deal less traumatic for the dog than I imagined. Nontraumatic in the case of a dog that seems almost comatose to begin with, at any rate. First the vet tranquilized her with a drug that took about 15 minutes to take effect. Still Cassie didn’t close her eyes, which made me suspect that she was barely conscious — if conscious at all — when I brought her in. Then the vet injected a few cc’s of a pink liquid, which seemed to cause no outward reaction in the dog. Within minutes — seconds, really — it stopped the breathing and the heartbeat. And the dog was gone: apparently with no suffering at all.

Dogs, it develops, often die with their eyes open. She never blinked from the time I carried her into the office to the time she shuffled off this mortal coil. And that, too, led me to suspect that she was as close to unconscious as she could get without being in a coma. Today for the first time she turned down food: she surely was as nigh unto death as she was going to get without actually dying.

So this was a mercy for her and for me.

Second item of interest: the vet remained curious as to what had really happened to the dog. I refrained from saying I thought her colleague on the other side of the city, over in the Arcadia district, had fucked up by misdiagnosing her with Valley Fever — which she did not then have and never did have — and then putting her on fluconazole while she was being dosed with prednisone. Vet palpitated the corpse and did find a large mass on the left side, near the kidneys and adrenals.

In dogs, about half of adrenal tumors (which are common) are benign, leaving half to be malignant. I suggested that we simply lost the draw, and that she actually had cancer. She thought that was very likely. And indeed, the symptoms of adrenal gland malignancy are very similar to those Cassie evinced over the past 4½ months.

That’s right. This has gone on for four and a half months.

During that time, about all I’ve done is care for and clean up after the little dog.

Afternoon was shading into evening and the sky was threatening rain by the time I rolled into the garage.

Flew in the house, grabbed Ruby’s harness, collar, and leash, and she and I shot out of the house. In the past 4½ months, Ruby (and I) have had two full-length doggy-walks — maybe three at the outside. Trying to sneak her out of the house without upsetting Cassie was more than I could cope with on top of all the other happenings. So we waited.

After a fast mile, we shot back in the house. I fed the new Queen of the Universe and then threw all the serapes that protect my bedding from dog hair into the washer. Had to run them through on hot twice to get out the parfum de sick dog. Plucked the nine pee pads from the floor and threw them in the trash. Pulled the pee pads that underlay the serapes off the bed. Found more pee pads discarded in various trash cans. Dragged these out to the trash. Decided against cleaning the floor this evening: too damn tired. Also, it’s going to rain and so it will take longer than one would like for the floors to dry. Found a can of black bean soup: dinner, accompanied by a bourbon & water.

Talked to friends on the phone; emailed friends; talked to son on phone. Threw the dog-bed blankets in the washer and then the dryer.

And now am dead exhausted.

My beautiful little dog. One of the two finest dogs I’ve ever had.

On the Road to Heaven’s Gate

Cassie the Corgi is on her way out of this world, I’m afraid.

Day before yesterday she started having serious trouble walking. The air of confusion, which has lurked for awhile, became more distinct, as though familiar places looked strange and she had no idea where she was.

Now today she can’t walk or stand at all.

Plus she’s having the kind of palsies she developed of late, while she’s asleep: I’d call them convulsions or maybe spasms. Now they’re happening during the daytime hours, and they seem to either scare her or hurt her. When I take her outside and set her down, she looks utterly befuddled…peers around with an expression that says, clear as day, “What is this place and what am I supposed to be doing here?”

Interestingly, it occurred to me that she acts sort of like a person who’s had a stroke might act, under some circumstances. Look up “can a dog a have a stroke” and discover ischemic strokes are incident on Cushing’s disease…which of course is exactly what ails her.

She’s now completely incontinent…leaked all over the pee pad I put down over her mat in the bathroom, her favorite nesting place. While reclining by the dinner table, she managed to deposit a couple of fine turds under the dining room buffet. That was quite a trick.

As soon as Cassie passes on to her furry fathers, I will have to disinfect all the flooring in the house. She’s peed and shat all over every room in the house, and no amount of spot-cleaning changes the fact that the entire dwelling stinks to high heaven. To fix that, I’ll need to mop all the floors with Clorox and then open every window and door to air it out for several hours.

Ruby should not be exposed to the fumes. So I’ll need to schlep her down to my son’s house and leave her there for five or six hours while the place airs out. It’s a little chilly to leave her in the yard all day, and if it keeps raining she can’t be left out there anyway.


Cassie was born in 2006, if you believe what the Humane Society said. That would make her around 12 or 13 years old, depending on what month she arrived. So that puts her right at the median life span for corgis, which is 12.6 years. So she’s had a pretty good life.

Ruby is already showing signs of taking over as Queen of the Universe. Ruby came along in 2014. That would make her about 5 years old, the prime of her doggy life. So if she lives to be 12, she’ll be around for another 7 years…until I’m 80 or 81 years old.

Thinking about whether to get another dog…and I think probably not. In the first place, Ruby will expand to fill all available space. And in the second, I’m already too old to be on my hands and knees five or six times a day cleaning up after a sick old dog at the end of its life — at 80, I will be way too old for that. So I guess, no: no more dogs.

Which is sad. It’s hard to conceive of living without the company of a dog. But what the hell: maybe I won’t live that long. 😉


Come Saturday Mornin’…

Another week has blown past. The older you get, the faster time passes…remember when you were a little kid and an hour seemed like an eternity? Yeah…now it doesn’t even make it up to five seconds.

Finally managed to finish and post this week’s chapter of Ella’s Story. Slowing the post schedule for each bookoid — Ella, If You’d Asked Me, and The Complete Writer — from three a week to one a week was a good idea. That seems obvious in retrospect. But Asked and Writer are already written. And really, if I would get off the dime I could (in theory) write a chapter a week for Ella’s Story.

It’s just that, well…I’m not about to get off the dime. Too many distractions beckon, not the least of which is the doggy drama. One could say it’s not that I have too much to do but that I overly enjoy doing too little.

Right this minute, for example, the dryer buzzes angrily. Yesterday Cassie waddled over to the dog bed parked under the computer desk, dragged herself onto it, and…yeah. Squatted right there and pooped all over it. So much for writing. Get up, drag out the bed, clean up the mess, see that the dog is in a bad way, carry the dog outside to do its business, pick her up, carry her back inside…on and on it goes. Instead of doing this — right this minute — I should be dragging out the garbage, picking up the dog shit out of the back yard (again), cleaning the dog shit off my shoe from where I stepped in it this morning, taking down the leaking hummingbird feeder and power-washing the flagstone beneath it before the day gets warm enough to awaken the Ondt Queen’s hordes, drafting a kind of “g’day” email to send out to my missing clientele, returning to LinkedIn and rebuilding a presence there, starting to work more seriously on Drugging of America, putting a load of actual laundry in the washer, sneaking out with Ruby to squeeze in a mile’s walk, checking the pool chemicals, applying a coat of silicone lubricant to the rubber gasket on the pool’s pump basket, calling my friends to see how they’re settling into their new abode, downloading and entering data into Excel for the tax accountant…

Ugh! There’s the hangup: I hate hate HATE the job of entering day after day of income and expense data into a complicated spreadsheet. So, the chore becomes one of entering month after month of data… And, that, having been put off in a monthly fit of aversion, is going to take several long days of drudging away. I don’t want to do that, so…I don’t do anything. Because really, that should be the first priority (January being more than at hand…), and so of course I can’t do anything else before doing that. Can I?


I fail to see the point of recording every single goddamn transaction. Why can’t we enter tax-related transactions only? Income: sure. Medical-related expenses: yeah. Business expenses: of course. Property tax, state tax, and car registration: yep. Capital improvements on the house: yes. But come ON: every trip to Costco, Walmart, and Safeway? Every bottle of olive oil, loaf of bread, package of dog food? Seriously? Why is that necessary?

Obviously, for the business “tax-related” would mean every single transaction. But for the personal stuff, what is the point of entering dozens and even hundreds of transactions that are irrelevant for tax purposes? If all I recorded were income, medical and insurance expenses, charitable contributions, tax payments, capital improvements, investment income & expenses…wouldn’t that be quite enough? I mean, for godsake…we know what net worth is, and we know what net income/expense balance is: all we have to do is enter the bank balance at the beginning of the year, the bank balance at the end of the year, and figure the difference. Quickbooks downloads bank transactions and preserves them, in a clumsy way. Fidelity provides reports for all IRA and non-IRA investments. So…why are we doing this?

Add to the list of things to do today: Ask accountant why are we doing this.

Ruby just peed all over one of Cassie’s pee mats. Suspicions confirmed. Because Cassie has come un-house-trained, now Ruby figures she can forget that “outside” rubbish, too.

Cassie fell into a disturbing relapse yesterday. On her best days, she’s far from well. On a bad day? Well: disturbing.

She started having difficulty walking. The past few days, her chassis has just kind of given out: her hind legs either collapse or, on the slippery tiles, slide out from under her. Yesterday she was very weak, and by evening clearly was in pain. I dosed her with half a Benadryl and a baby aspirin at night, and by this morning she seems better.

Sometimes she becomes confused. A few minutes ago I found her standing in the office with her nose sticking into the bookcase. She seemed not to know how to disengage herself from this pose. More and more often, too, she goes outside, she looks around…and she appears mystified. Her expression and body language seem to say What is this place? Where am I and how did I get here?

So…that’s depressing. Yesterday I thought it was “Time,” but knowing she may spring back to at least a marginally acceptable state discourages me from whisking her off to the vet to be put down. And yea verily: this morning she’s not well, but she’s not in those desperate straits, either. Far as the human eye can discern.

I discovered that closing the doors to two of the bedrooms cuts down considerably on the excreta pick-up. Why? That is unclear. But without the freezer/crafts room floor and the spare bedroom floor to use as outposts of the doggy loo, they’re both more inclined to arf at the door when the mood beckons.

But Cassie really needs to be physically guided outside and reminded to do her business about once an hour. Sometimes, if she’s feeling feeble, this entails picking her up, carrying her out the door, toting her to the peeing ground, setting her down, and then picking her up and carrying her back inside. Besides the obvious joy entailed, this poses yet another problem:

SDXB is determined to get me to go on a day trip to Castle Hot Springs with him. So enthused is he about this expedition that he has engineered an entire party with his present girlfriend and one of his other ex-girlfriends., which he expects me to join. He now has this scheduled for early February.

The problem is…if Cassie doesn’t accommodate his plan by shuffling off this mortal coil before then, there’s no way I can go with them.

I can’t leave her with my son: he has a job. (Remember those?) I can’t leave her outdoors all day: for one thing, she’s always been an indoor dog, and for another, even if she were accustomed to spending hours out of doors, it’s too cold now for that.

So…uhm… I really don’t quite know what to say… “Sure, I’ll come along if my dog is dead by then”?


Doggy Miracle?

Cassie the Corgi, who (thanks to an unholy combination of fluconazole and prednisone) has been pounding at Death’s Door for the past three months, has apparently decided they won’t have her in those precincts and so has given up. She’s still pretty feeble, but over the past three days she’s experienced a kind of Resurgence. She’s almost sprung back to normal.

Or…staggered back.

Noticed that when she did not sleep well — which was most of the time — she seemed much worse the following day. For awhile there, most nights she struggled to breathe and occasionally enjoyed seizures violent enough to alarm Ruby the Corgi Pup and, most certainly, the Human.

Along about the second week of October, it occurred to me to drug her with Benadryl to see if that would help her to sleep. Yes, I know: highly problematic. But I figured if it killed her, it wouldn’t much matter because she was about to die anyway.

On three separate occasions, I felt pretty certain that she was about to die. On a couple of days, I had to leave and couldn’t get out of it, and thought very likely she would be gone by the time I got back. And more recently there was a fourth occasion when I doubted she would see the next day’s dawn.

The Benadryl, oddly enough, did seem to help. Her breathing got somewhat easier. Though she might have a spell during the night, it wasn’t terrifying to the onlooker. And it (or something) did seem to stop the seizures. She certainly wasn’t well. But at least she wasn’t keeping me and her roommate awake all night with her miseries.

Now, over the past few days, she’s suddenly taken a turn for the much better. On December 9, both dogs and the human were sick. I rated Cassie’s condition as a “4” on a scale of 1 to 10.

The following day, she was up to about an 8 by 6 a.m., and as the day progressed she rose to a 9.  She’s had a couple days of 9s, but regresses on the 9th after a bad night. Still, by 10 a.m. on the 12th she seemed to be back up to the level of about a 9. A-n-n-d…she’s stayed there for the past while.

Seeing that she was no longer suffering distress at night, I tried easing her off the Benadryl. This seems not to have caused any harm, and indeed may be contributing to her recovery. Dogs, like humans, are knocked for a loop by Benadryl.

Can’t say she’s back to normal. She certainly isn’t. But she’s a lot better than she was.

She still looks and acts like an OLD dog.

But… She was looking and acting pretty grizzled before the present horror show descended upon her. She is, after all, at least 12 years old. She may be significantly older than that. All we know is that 10 years ago the Humane Society claimed she was 2 years old…and if you’ve ever watched an animal rescue worker, you know how those estimates are arrived at.

Uhhhhhhh….mmmmm…. Thisyere dawg is about two years old. I reckon…

So…she could be 11 years old. She could be 15 years old. And if she’s either of those…well…looking and acting like an old dog is entirely within reason.

I wondered if iatrogenic renal dysfunction might pass on its own, if the dog were allowed to rest and recuperate long enough. Nothing that I could find anywhere indicated that might be the case, except for an occasional mention that negative side effects of Prednisone would pass after the drug was stopped. But Prednisone alone was not the problem. The problem was interaction of Prednisone and inappropriately prescribed fluconazole in the presence of an unrecognized adrenal tumor, whose malignancy or nonmalignancy remains to this day unknown. Whether the victim of this combination of circumstances could throw off the effects unaided: also unknown. Possibly even a question that has never been asked.

She still wears the Tragic Expression most of the time, though occasionally she perks up enough to look almost like her old self. More significantly, though, she’s stopped shitting and pissing all over the floors. I haven’t had to clean up a puddle or a pile in the past three days. And that does feel like some kind of miracle.

Cassie the Corgi
The Queen of the Galaxy