Coffee heat rising

Corgi: The Saga Continues!

Well…this is pretty amazing. I’ll tellya…even though I hoped for SOMETHING good, I sure wouldn’t have expected this.

  • Cassie the Corgi, after about 40 hours off the UTI meds, is almost 100% back to her old doggy self. I’d put her at about 95% improved.
  • The cough is gone. As in GONE gone, not “gone under most circumstances.”
  • The UTI (urinary tract infection) cleared up within three days after I started giving her the doxycycline.
  • Within 24 hours of quitting the doxycycline, the malign side effects began to fade. And 36 hours later: unnoticeable by the human.
  • The labored breathing: absent. She’s breathing normally: no straining, no hyperventilating, no apparent pain. (Difficulty breathing is a side effect of doxycycline in dogs.)
  • The corgi bark: BACK IN BUSINESS. Never thought the sound of a yapping dog could be music to one’s ears… But yea verily: not only is she barking as usual, she is not plunging into a coughing fit every time she has a yip to yap.
  • Stoned lethargy: pretty much gone.
  • Suspected pain: well hidden, if not disappeared.
  • Interest in Life, the Universe, and All That: very close to normal.

Does she have adrenal cancer? Could be. Couldn’t we all? This is an elderly dog. When you get to be an elderly anything, you do not deny the possibility that something will carry you away. Any day now. And we are not afraid of that, because we know nothing lasts forever and that does not scare us.

That notwithstanding, one bears in mind that 50% of mysterious growths on the mammalian renal gland are benign. So: it could be nothing. If it’s “something,” then that is not surprising and because we are not surprised, we can cope.

So I have a call in to 2ndOvet — second opinion vet, the one who does not altogether buy the Valley fever theory and who said the dog needed to be treated for a urinary tract infection when 1stOvet claimed the test results said otherwise, yes the very 2ndOvet who begged to differ by remarking that the UTI lab numbers came back as high as they can get.

Virtually every drug I’ve given this dog has made the dog sick, including a drug for something that was real (i.e., the observable, testable, provable UTI). Let us recall all that I and many others have had to say about the pernicious influence of Big Pharma on the practice of medicine, and consider the fact that said influence extends to veterinary practice. And then let us consider the effect of inflicting two or three drugs on the pooch.

Of interest, isn’t it?

Begins to make Christian Science (yea verily, the faith of my — very long-lived — ancestors) look almost sane.


So. Cassie did not, after all, get driven to the vet’s office to be dispatched to her Maker this morning. As things stand, as of 12:28 in the afternoon of Monday, October 29, it does not appear that she will make any such journey. Indeed, it looks a great deal like she will be helping to stuff small children with candy from the neighbor’s driveway, come the day after tomorrow.

Happy (Amazing!) Hallowe’en!
Dia de los Muertos!

Doggy Update

Cassie lives.

I’d put an exclamation point after that, except that she doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about that development.

When I got home from choir around 12:30, she was…uhm…ambulatory. She looked a little perkier. She’d lost the Tragic expression… Now she has the “This Is All Your Goddamn Fault” expression. No kidding: she’s giving me a Look that would curl your toes.

On the other hand, at least “All Your Fault” is better than “Go Dig My Grave.”

So…okay. She’s still alive. She’s still lethargic. But she is moving around to a degree, which is better than she was doing before. Clearly she’s not well. But she seems possibly, perhaps slightly LESS not well than she was some hours ago.

We shall see what happens as the effects of the doxycycline and the Benadryl wear off — if they wear off.

So I have to go sing at Compline this evening, and before then the dogs and I are climbing onto the bed for a little nap, since the human cannot be accused of having collected much sleep last night. Cassie will get fed again before the human exits and will NOT be dosed with any drugs. That will give us 24 hours without dope. If we’re no less miserable then than we are now, the human will take that as a moderately good sign. Then, if we live through the night, it will be interesting to see what state (if any) she’s in tomorrow morning, after 36 drug-free hours…

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments, emails, and phone calls! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Corgi LIVES…

Cassie the Corgi started to fall sick about the first of September. Migawd! It’s the 18th of October now…that poor little dog has been ailing for over a month and a half!

However…it looks like she may be on the mend. That is, if you assume that whatever is growing on her adrenal gland is benign.

Since it won’t do her or me any good to know what exactly that is — because of course I can’t afford thousands of dollars on surgery and cancer therapy for a 12-year-old dog — we are throwing the dice and betting on the come: that the thing is one of the 50% of such growths that are harmless.

She’s acting like that now. She finally has recovered from whatever ailed her and the horrific drugs that made her even sicker than the ailment did. Her cough is about gone except for when she drinks water…but she’s always choked on water, long as she’s been living here at the Funny Farm.

And this evening, for the first time in all these weeks, she’s been up for a beloved doggy-walk!

We didn’t try to go far — about a third of a mile, maybe — and she was looking a little tired by the time we got back. But it made her and Ruby the Corgi Pup very, very happy.

She’ll have to work back up to the traditional mile-long speed-walk. It may be that she’s a little too old for a fast stroll, but I’m pretty sure she’ll eventually get to where she can at least amble through our usual circuit.

Will she live a lot longer? In human years, I’d bet not. She is, after all, an elderly dog. At 12, a medium-sized dog has supposedly aged as much as a human ages in 69 years. But we don’t know she’s only 12. That’s what the Humane Society said was her age. But too often the staff at rescue shelters just make a guess at a dog’s age. When she came to live at the Funny Farm, she certainly didn’t act any younger than two. She could have been three. Ruby is around four, and I’d say she behaves very much like Cassie did ten years ago.

So…if Cassie was three then, she’s 13 now. If she was four then, she’s a very elderly 14 now. It’s hard to tell with a corgi: they’re vigorous, sturdy dogs, and Cassie was born before the breed was “noticed,” so is not overbred. If we cast our imagination to the outside border of this speculation and allow that she could even be 14, that would give her a human age of 78.

I’ll be happy if she lives another year or so and does so without undue suffering. And at the rate she’s going now…I don’t think that’s outside the realm of reason.

Doggy Doom?

So we’re told this afternoon’s abdominal ultrasound of Cassie the Corgi shows a large tumor on an adrenal gland. So that comes under the heading of “the last act.” The vet proposes that we not put her to sleep just now, since she seems to be doing fairly well — except for the cough (which she started with), all the other symptoms (which I still believe to be induced by the Valley fever drug and the prednisone) are going away. He says these symptoms will come and go, and he thinks she’ll last about three months, at the most.

I remain skeptical. Why? Because…

a) Cough and wheezing are NOT symptoms of adrenal gland tumors.
b) The symptoms she’s had that could be explained by an adrenal tumor also are classic side effects of fluconozale and of prednisone.

So what do we have here? The following potential symptoms for adrenal cancer:

  • Excessive water intake (polydipsia) Cassie: yes. But it’s also a prednisone side effect
  • Increased urine output (polyuria) Cassie: yes. What goes in must come out.
  • Increased appetite and food intake (polyphagia; affected dogs are often ravenous): Cassie: Yes: she lost two pounds in the coughing episode, so I’ve been feeding her more.
  • Weight gain, frequently to the point of obesity: Cassie: no
  • Abdominal enlargement (pendulous, distended abdomen; “pot-bellied” appearance) Cassie: no
  • Hair loss (alopecia; usually patchy and symmetrical on both sides of the body): Cassie: no
  • Darkening of skin (hyperpigmentation): Cassie: unknown
  • Excessive panting; often when lying down and appearing to be resting quietly: Cassie: yes
  • Skin bruising: Cassie: unknown
  • Clitoral enlargement in females (clitoral hypertrophy) Cassie: unknown
  • Testicular enlargement in males (testicular hypertrophy) Cassie: n/a
  • Loss of normal reproductive cycling in females (anestrus) Cassie: n/a
  • Infertility (males and females) Cassie: n/a
  • Weakness: Cassie: possibly
  • Lethargy, listlessness Cassie: no more than usual
  • Exercise intolerance Cassie: unknown
  • Muscle atrophy Cassie: no
  • Thin, fragile skin that tears easily Cassie: no
  • Poor coat condition Cassie: no
  • Lack of coordination (ataxia) Cassie: no
  • Neurological signs (circling, aimless wandering, pacing, bumping into walls or furniture, falling down for no apparent reason) Cassie: no
  • Poor wound healing Cassie: no

That’s pretty ambiguous. Yes, she does have some of the signs. But she also doesn’t have a lot of the signs. Some of the signs can be explained by whatever sickness caused the coughing, which was severe (and is now, finally, gone). Some of them can explained by her age, which is rather advanced. Two can be explained by the effect of the prednisone.

There are two types of adrenal tumors in dogs: functional and nonfunctional. This squib is a little clearer. A functional tumor is a malignancy, but a nonfunctional one is not. Apparently there’s really no well to tell without $urgery. Nonfunctional tumors need no treatment. If the thing is “functional” and it hasn’t metastasized, you can operate and get from 16 months to 3 years of extra life. I’ve already spent almost a thousand bucks on this. Looked at the bank account and almost fainted when I saw the balance. At this rate I’m going to run out of money for living expenses LONG before the end of the year that this year’s RMD covers. I’ll have to get a job. And at this age: fat chance!

So I’m going to try to get a second opinion, as a kind of last-ditch thing. Because, to tell the truth, after my Adventures in Medical Science I’ve learned to always get a second opinion every time some doctor (or vet) delivers a dire opinion. But I don’t hold out much hope. She is old. And obviously the vet saw something on her adrenals. Whatever it is, it ain’t likely to be good for her.

Gets worse, if that’s possible


Dammit, I just dropped the external backup drive on the floor. Presumably broke it, because every time you drop anything electronic on the floor, you break it. The other external drive doesn’t work, either. It broke a long time ago.  As nothing, though…

What’s really broken — that matters — is the dog. And my budget.

Today I took Cassie to my son’s vet, who’s only about 10 minutes away (well…when every route going in that direction isn’t dug up and blocked to one [1] lane, which is not the case today…) to find out about the “abnormal” results of her recent urinalysis.

Is there a reason why we have to make such a fuckin’ drama of this stuff?

Oh yeah, sure there is: it’s called a rea$on.

They now want to do another urine analysis, in which they propose to culture the bacteria they found in her urine. Uh huh. And was there a reason we didn’t do this on the first try?

They propose, all told, to charge me almost $700 for the various tests and treatments they foresee.

Understand: I just paid MarvelVet $500 for treatment that has done nothing to help the dog.

Twelve hundred dollars is the sum total of my monthly income. Well, that’s not true: Social Security amounts to about $1211 a month. So this is more than just grocery money. This is more than half of what I have to pay all of a month’s bills. And that’s without repairing the car and replacing the tires after the fender-bender incurred in driving home from the last visit to this vet.

This is just crazy.

One thing is sure: here in our lovely 21st-century dystopia, if you are retired, you cannot afford to own a pet. In the near future, I’ll have to have this dog put to sleep. And that will be it in the doggy department for me: I simply will not be able to have another dog or cat around the house. Because I can’t afford it.

Ruby will still be here, but I’d probably better find another home for her while I can — while she’s still healthy and some naive dummy wants her. Because if I can’t afford Cassie, obviously I can’t afford Ruby, either.

Sooo exhausted. Haven’t slept more than a few consecutive minutes in the past month.

Tried to take a nap this afternoon. If I don’t put the dogs on the bed, they lobby — by whacking the bed and trying to climb up — until I capitulate and lift them up here. Trying to wiggle out of Ruby’s way (she being in full pester mode), I found myself in another cold, wet puddle.

Yesterday I ran FIVE LOADS through the washer, plus had to clean the washer out with the shop vac and then unclog the shop vac. Now the washer is laboring away with another entire set of bedding including a blanket. Literally, I ran the goddamn washing machine until 10 o’clock last night.

Well. Today’s mound doesn’t include the bed pad…this time she managed to pee on the piddle pads that protect the under-bedding. Hope I managed to get all those out of the wad of cloth I hauled out of the garage.

I just can NOT keep on doing this.

Meanwhile, two new jobs came in. When exactly am I supposed to find the time and the physical strength to edit these things, given that it’s impossible to sleep and the dog is so sick she has to be schlepped to a vet every second day and the car is wrecked and the stove is broken and the roof needs to be repaired and…holy shit. To say nothing of the fact that the country is going to Hell in a handcart.

The car is still running. I haven’t had time to get to Costco to find out how much it will cost to replace the tires. Whatever it is, though, between that and the vet bills, I can’t get the pool replastered this fall. Haven’t called the pool guy yet to let him know that deal is going to be off. The brushed metal things that I thought were some sort of fancy wheel covers are…not. They’re the wheels themselves. God DAMN it. So that means I need to buy a whole new wheel for the right front whateveritis on the damned car. God only knows what that will cost.

Still can’t find my credit-card holder with my AMEX card in it. I’m now beginning to suspect, against my better angels, that the locksmith guy must have lifted it. Really: that is the only explanation. I’ve searched all over the house.

There are a limited number of places that I could or would have set it down. We were near the front door when he handed me his bill. I signed it and handed him the credit card, which he put in his Square. He would have handed it back to me, I would have put it back in the case, and I would have — could have — done one of only two things:

  • I would’ve put the case back in my jeans pocket, where it resides whenever it’s not in its accustomed home; or
  • I would’ve set it down on the lamp table next to the sofa, the only flat place available.

Since it’s not in either place…well…

That day I was wearing the only pair of white jeans I own.  I’ve checked the pockets repeatedly: the thing is not in the jeans, not in the laundry bag, not in any other pair of pants, not on the table, not in the table’s drawer, not on the other table near the door.

Am I mistaken? Were we in the dining room or kitchen when this transaction occurred? In that case I would have put the card in my jeans pocket (no…) or on the dining room table or on the kitchen counter.

It’s not in any of those places.

Did I do the responsible thing and carry it back to the office and put it where it belongs, in a small purse hanging from a hook on the wall in that room?


Did I take it back to the office and drop it on my desk or the file cabinet?


Did for some unimaginable reason I put it in the car, in the consoles or on the passenger seat?


Did I leave it on the kitchen counter or dining room table?


And that’s about it. There really are no other places that I would, by the wildest stretch of the imagination, have carelessly placed it.

Soooo…. Reluctantly, I’ve just about arrived at the conclusion that it was stolen. We were chatting merrily and I was distracted by our conversation. If I’d set it on the sofa table, he could easily have lifted it while I was entertained by a dog or by my own mouth going.

Well, if that’s the case, it was more trouble than it was worth for our Nimrod. That card is now canceled. The Social Security number printed on my SS card was blacked out. And as we have seen, the new number on the new Medicare card doesn’t work. I need to contact Medicare and ask them to send me a new card, but frankly, that bureaucratic runaround is more than I can cope with just now. Fortunately, I made several extra copies of the damn thing. Whether they’ll want to cut a new card with a new number, I do not know.

While Cassie was locked up at the vet’s, I took Ruby for a walk, all by her little self. You know, I think that’s probably the first time this little dog has ever been on a doggy walk without the Boss Dog.

Dog interactions are weird. Maybe human interactions are, too…we’re just not aware of it, being humans. She was like a different dog! No dragging, no wackiness…just trotted right along as though she knew how to heel. Which…she doesn’t. 😉



Eight Dogs and a Bird

Make that eleven dogs: add in Cassie, Ruby, and Charley.

This morning I needed to make a Walmart run fairly early in the day, so as to buy another package of giant pee pads with which to protect my floors from Cassie’s incontinence. In fact, she’s getting a lot better. But not having to mop up great Salton Seas of urine and then disinfect the lake beds made such a difference in the human’s misery quotient that I determined not to run out of the things.

Charley, who’s visiting while M’hijito junkets in Colorado, also tends to defile the floor…but not with pee…

Leaving them here unobserved so soon after feeding time was ill advised. So I did something even more ill advised: decided to leave the back door hanging open while I was out, so they could come and go as nature called.

It was, after all, pouring rain. Not likely any burglars would be working in that deluge. If they were, they would earn whatever they stole. 😀

So yeah. No burglars came visiting, but another intruder moved in: a hummingbird flew in the back door. Once in the house, he flew up into the kitchen skylight, where he became hopelessly, despairingly confused. He could see the sky through the cloudy glass, and of course, being a bird he figured that WAS the sky. But being a bird, he could neither figure out why he couldn’t get through it nor figure out that he needed to go DOWN, not up, to get out of his trap.

This is the second time such a thing happened. Last time, some years ago, I called Liberty Wildlife. The volunteer I reached this morning was dubious. In the pouring rain, all their distressed-critter rescuers were hunkered down, and believe me: NONE of them wanted to venture into the downpour.  Quite reasonably so.

He asked me to call back after 11, when a different volunteer would be on duty and more folks might be available to call on.


So I called several other rescue organizations, some of which could not be reached at all, some of which had endless yakathon/ear-splitting Muzak phone trees (how i HATE those things!) that were so discouraging that after five or ten minutes I’d hang up, some of which just didn’t answer at all.  Game and Fish greeted me with the familiar electronic run-around. Called the Fire Department’s non-emergency line. They suggested Game and Fish. I said I thought not. So they suggested the Humane Society. The Humane Society’s aggravating yakathon said they’d answer the phone in about ten minutes and then blasted an even MORE infuriating loud fake music at me. I couldn’t turn the sound down on the phone-set low enough to make it less distracting or less infuriating. Finally I realized that the Humane Society is less than ten minutes away from me. So jumped in the car and drove up there, where I found a roomful of live human beings. They suggested Game and Fish. 😀

Back at the Funny Farm, I called Liberty Wildlife again. The new wrangler on duty said they really weren’t supposed to rescue birds that weren’t large enough to harm a person.

Heh. Do you suppose I could persuade them that the hummer was trying to poke my eyes out with its long spear-like bill?

She agreed to call some volunteers, having identified the person she thought was closest to the Funny Farm. But she wasn’t sure she could round him up.

So that was pretty discouraging. I figured I’d just have to wait until the little bird became exhausted and dehydrated enough to fall to the floor, at which point it would die.

But no! Not too much later, along comes a phone call from a man who says he’ll be right over!He lives in the mid-town area, and seemed not to be fazed at the prospect of driving through the rain to rescue a hummingbird from a strange woman’s house.

LOL! Liberty Wildlife has come through!

He arrives at the door. Cassie, Ruby, and Charley, all three of ’em, fly into an ecstasy of Dog Joy upon greeting the guy. They clearly think this is the single best human they have ever seen on this planet, bar none. He introduces himself as Chris. The dogs apparently interpret that as “Christ”: they are now in full-out worship mode.

Chris says he loves dogs. He and his wife have eight of them, several of which are rescues. I say I found Cassie at the dog pound, where she’d been relegated because she barks. He agreed that barking was surely a unique trait for a dog…

I’ve already hauled the ladder in and wiped it dry. Takes Chris about thirty seconds to snab the hummer in one of those nets you use to lift fish out of water. I make a mental note to get one of those next time I’m near the sporting goods store. Bird delivered to the Great Outdoors, it takes off like a feathered rocket, chirping furiously.

So that was good. Sent them a little donation as a token of appreciation.

That and the fact that Cassie is getting much, much better were the only decent things that happened today, a true, certifiable Day from Hell.