Bitter Sweet Memories

I thought I was getting better; healing from the loss of my sweet Obi. Each day seems a little easier. There are still small, sad reminders. My evening routine of giving my Obi food and water has been replaced with watering Obi’s tree…the tree we planted in his memory. But oh how I wish I was tending to him and not a tree. With his illness he would often get up at night to go out. I still wake up at 3 am, expecting him to be there and ready to go out.  There are countless other triggers that bring on sadness, but I am slowly learning to deal with them while replacing the sadness with good memories.

Then something so sweet, so beautiful takes place that the hurt is unleashed once again and the tears flow freely. Yesterday was one such day. I came home from work, no longer feeling the urge to cry when Obi doesn’t greet me at the door, as my daughter’s cat, has so lovingly volunteered to fill that void. She has been so loving and sweet, but I still feel the sadness.  I found the mail on the counter as I normally do, and what appeared to be two cards were on top. First I open a beautiful card from one of my best friends, Lori. She actually took the time to buy and send it while on her family vacation.  I could feel the tears building in my eyes, but I was still alright and touched by her thoughtfulness. I love you Lori. Thank you.

Then I opened the other card. This one was from my vet and his staff. Such beautiful words were written by everyone in the office, and because we frequented the vet so often these last few months, I knew they were sincere. They had gotten to know me pretty well, and they loved my Obi. I couldn’t hold back the tears and started to cry, and once again I relived his final moments in my head. But then I noticed something on the card. A paw print. At first it seemed like it was a part of the card and I didn’t think much of it. Then I noticed how it wasn’t centered, it was imperfect and smudged, and there was a small smudge from ink elsewhere on the card. Could it be? It is! IT’S MY OBI’S PAW PRINT! Now I was crying hard. Paws once so large for such a cute little puppy, but we were blessed that he would ultimately fill them.  Once he even sliced one of his paws open, our first of a few major vet visits.  So many times I heard those paws dancing through the house out of pure happiness. So many nights I lay in bed massaging those paws, sometimes tickling him and he would pull away. So many happy memories. Now so many tears. Such a beautiful gesture from the most caring veterinary clinic I have ever been to. It’s not my baby, and it cannot replace him, but I will treasure this card for eternity, for it bears a part of him that I will never see or touch again. Such a precious memento.

I will always love you Obi. 💕🐾

Think Before You Judge or React

As my daughter Virginia pointed out, have you ever noticed how detached from humanity people become in certain situations like when they are online while sitting behind a computer, or sitting behind the wheel of a car?  It amazes me how in both situations people will 1) gain a lot of confidence to say what they wouldn’t possibly say in person to someone (even things they shouldn’t say), 2) become quite righteous, 3) are quick to point fingers, 4) will never admit to being wrong, 5) are extremely judgmental…and the list goes on and on.  I’d like to share two.

The Dog in the Hot Car – Now I am a SERIOUS dog lover.  In fact I love dogs more than people.  I won’t bother to justify my love for dogs here, for those who know me already understand.  I am also against taking a dog anywhere in a car during hot summer months, IF you can avoid it.  Sometime this cannot be avoided – 1) going to the vet, 2) traveling long distances when your dog is going with you, or 3) transporting a rescue dog.  I am sure you may be able to come up with a few more scenarios, but for the sake of time, we will stick with these.  

Today I saw a Facebook post where a person came across a car in a grocery store parking lot with a dog in it; the window was down.  This good Samaritan called the cops, and the cops said it was legal as long as the window was down,  and I will repeat, it was down.  It also sounded as if this person came out of the store rather quickly, although no time frame was given on the post.  Of course the comments were flying off  the page condemning this lowest of the low person for torturing this dog in a hot car and how they needes to sit in a hot car hours on end to see what it’s like. Now at first, I too, was like WTH?!  But the law protected this person since the windows were down.  Why?  Then I had to ask myself some hard questions…Why was this person traveling with the dog?  Were they on their way to the vet?  Was this the dog’s last car ride ever (something I sadly experienced all too recently)?  Or even better yet, did this person live locally and were just running to the store (a serious no no if you ask me), or were they traveling a long distance with the dog and they had no choice but to stop?  Maybe it was a rescue dog they were transporting and they had to stop to get the dog water.  The scenarios could be endless here, and the fact of the matter is that no one truly knows.  I took a closer look at the picture. The car had a temp tag and a license plate frame that was NOT local. So obviously this person wasn’t just running to the store and carelessly taking the dog for a ride.  They also had the windows down, knowing that the dog was going to be hot.  So did anyone take any of these details into consideration?  Of course not.  Would you?  But then again, they were sitting at their computer making their judgments and accusations far separated from what was really happened.  Everyone insisted this bystander should have broken the cars windows….why?  They were already down!!  I feel for the poor dog.  I also feel for the person who finds himself in a desperate situation.  Again I reiterate I’m against dogs in hot cars; however I have traveled long distances with my pooch and it cannot be avoided 100%. So I couldn’t help but add a little logic to the situation.  Now I am being condemned for actually thinking.  Oh the irony.

There was another situation on Facebook where I was once also called racist because I pointed out some history of slavery that didn’t corresponded with a white liberal woman’s view of the subject.  This so-called history major could not fathom there being white Irish slaves or black African tribes who sold off other tribal members into slavery.  This also made me laugh since one of my very best friends is black.  I just wanted people to stop jumping on band wagons and to start doing some true research before passing judgment.  No such luck.  In this day and age of internet righteousness, some people will never research or admit they could possibly be wrong.  I had to simply back out of the conversation and ask her to just block me so I didn’t have to deal with her ignorance any longer.  Unfortunately for me, that white liberal crowd had already passed their judgement on me.  Lucky for me I truly don’t care.

Road Rage –  Another scenario that plays out all to often that shows how people become disconnected from humanity when they are isolated (this time when they are in their car) is road rage.  I can easily get mad at people when I’m driving, and while I may call them names to myself, I don’t publicly react or show any reaction, because I know that I do not fully know what has taken place.  For one, I have made my own stupid driving mistakes of cutting someone off that was in my blind spot and I didn’t see, or turning in front of an oncoming car during a moment of bad decision-making on my part.  But so many people are extremely quick to react.  People will chase other cars down in retaliation, whether it be to get them back or even start an altercation.

Back in December, my then 16-year-old daughter and I were in a scary situation.  I turned out of our neighborhood onto a slightly busier country road.  When I turned on the road, there were no other cars.  By the time I was approaching the end of the road, there was a pickup truck just feet from my back bumper.  I had a long busy day moving into our new home, and I was tired, so I was probably going slower than the speed limit.  I was also approaching a stop sign, so there was no reason for me to speed up.  Instead I tapped my brakes just to get them to back off.  When I stopped at the stop sign to turn right, the truck attempted to go around me to turn right in front of me.  Oncoming traffic made him stop.  Once I turned, he turned and started to pass me, but while he was still beside me, he attempted to come over and run me off the road.  I had to brake…HARD.  Once he came over, maintaining his speed, I resumed my speed.  He then slammed HARD on his brakes.  I had to brake so hard I narrowly missed him by inches, and a car behind me narrowly missed me.  My daughter and I were terrified at this man’s erratic behavior.  I instantly called the police.  He repeated slamming on his brakes again then took off at a high rate of speed.  I think I got the license plate correct, but I was so shaken I wasn’t 100% sure.  When he was about 100 yards in front of me, I saw his reverse lights come on.  He was backing towards me.  I am sure I sounded panicked to the police department, but I couldn’t help it.  Before I got too close, he drove forward again and slightly turned off at the next road. I think he was going to wait for me to pass then get behind me again, but there was another car behind me that got in his way, and he just took off. I never saw that truck again, but you can believe I have been on the watch for it ever since.  I do have a concealed carry permit, but I have never in my life felt that I needed to carry a gun.  That night made me think twice.  What if he had gotten out of his truck?  What would he have done to me and my daughter?  Did he think we could possibly have been a real threat to him?  I just wanted him to back off my tail end before he hit us.

Another more recent incident happened with my teen daughter.  I went out of town and she ended up in severe pain requiring medical treatment.  Her boyfriend was rushing her to the doctor while she was on the phone with the doctor and he accidentally cut another man off.  There was no ill will intended. He was simply a teenage boy panicking because he didn’t know what to do or where he was going.  It just so happened they ended up at a traffic light next to this man.  The man started yelling at my daughter and her boyfriend, stating that his kid was in the car and if they had hit him he would have killed them.  Seriously?  If they had hit the car, it would have been a minor fender bender and his kid would have been fine.  I know, because my children have been in car accidents as passengers.  They turned out just fine.  Guess what, most people do.  So a front fender is worth two lives?  Here’s another shocker…cars are repairable, replaceable and won’t be in your life forever anyway.  Now the life of a person…tell me how they compare.  What this man didn’t know…didn’t care to know, was that these were two scared kids… and at that moment my daughter was in severe enough pain that she ended up going to the emergency room.  For reasons such as this, whenever a person cuts me off I try to keep it in perspective…what is happening in their life?  Did they just lose a loved one?  Do they have an emergency?  Or maybe they just didn’t see me…we all have blind spots.

You may not like my take on these situations, you may come up with your excuses to support people similar to the ones I’ve describe.  You may also come up with excuses for your own reactions in these instances, but before you react, or before you even comment on this post, ask yourself some hard questions.  People want to view the world as black and white, but it’s not. I know I’m not usually a logical thinker, so I know it can be hard to think critically sometimes.  But try some critical thinking.  Try to think of what the bigger picture may be.  Then think about how this world would be if everyone did just that.  Imagine that.

 

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By Kris Heaton Posted in World

The Hard Hits

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It is so very hard to believe that at this very moment one week ago, I was saying goodbye to my beautiful Obi.  It has been a very difficult week for me emotionally. There are still many people who don’t understand.  I can’t blame them.  After all, to them he was just a dog.  But you see, he wasn’t just a dog to me.  He was a major part of my life.  For 9 years he was my morning routine, my evening routine, my snuggle buddy.  He loved me like no other creature could, and I loved him just as much in return.  An unconditional love.  Love like that is truly rare.

The first day was excruciating.  The second day unbearable.  By the third day, I had talked about it to so many people so much and it started to get a little easier to deal with.  Over the course of the week, the pain has lightened, but it hasn’t been without its moments of hard hits.

  • The silence each and every time I walk through the door.
  • Getting up in the morning to let Obi outside, only to realize I don’t have to get up.
  • Turning to feed him my leftovers, only to realize he’s not there.
  • Wanting to ask for a doggie bag so I can take my leftovers home to him.
  • The habit of returning home from a long day to ask if anyone has given Obi his medicine.
  • Shutting my bedroom door, and briefly thinking I better leave it open so he can get in…but he won’t be coming in.
  • Realizing, that even when I’m feeling ok, my daughter has had her share of moments and we break down in tears together.

There were many more moments that brought me to tears throughout the week.  I am quite thankful for the many people in my life who let me cry when the moment would hit me out of the blue.  I did receive a new source of affection, however.  My daughter’s cat, Baya, who didn’t want me to love on her very much before, has stepped in to help fill a void.  One day when I walked in from work to a silent house, I was about to break down crying, and she ran to me and provided me with some much-needed affection.  Aware of my morning routines to let Obi out while getting my coffee, she now runs to the backdoor as I make my coffee, and she and I go outside together.  We repeat the same thing in the evening.  She has started showing me a great deal of affection whenever I am sitting still.  She has even kneaded my head as I lay in bed.  I believe she knows my grief, and I am pretty sure she knows her love is greatly appreciated right now. God has truly provided humans with a gift…the gift of animals.  Only they truly have a pure and unconditional love void of any expectations or judgement.  He knew what he was doing when he offered us pets.  Sadly there are many people who won’t ever know that feeling.  Perhaps they are lucky in some way, because their hearts won’t be torn to shreds when they lose that love.  I, however, believe they are missing out on the greatest gift life has given us….unconditional love.

I will love you forever Obi. I know you are with me, but I look forward to the day I can hold you again.

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The Pain Lingers…

Grieving is a tremendously hard process.  I know the stages of grief – I took many psychology classes.  But does that help a person through it?  Nope.  I also know bringing the subject up again and again will only spark beautiful comments from people who care, and those comments will bring me to a waterfall of tears once again.  But still, I write.  I have to write.  I have found that writing is my therapy.  It’s my way to say, “Hey I Love You”.  It’s my way to say I’m hurting more than I ever dreamed.  It’s my way to keep from breaking down, even though I will anyway.  But it is what I feel I have to do for me.  My baby.  My pup.  My love.  My Obi is gone.

As if the trip to the vet yesterday wasn’t hard enough, the pain continues.

First it was arriving home.  Before even getting out of the car, I had to take his dog bowl (the one that held all those ice cubes just hours before) and his leash out of the car with me.  One of the girls already had his collar.  Just the act of picking it up off the floor sent me into another round of tears.  I sat in the heat of the car for a while, not feeling the temperature at all.  But it’s what came next that was even harder.

Whenever I would walk in the door, my baby would be right there to greet me with his “dancing feet”, claws tapping on the floor, spinning circles.  The biggest sign of affection one could ever experience.  As he got sicker and sicker, his “dancing feet” quieted down, but he never failed to greet me at the door.  If I managed to sneak in without him knowing, it would only be a matter of seconds before he would come running down the stairs in anything but a graceful manner.  He was simply the most loving, most adorable creature I have ever had in my life.  And yesterday…yesterday I walked in that door to silence.  I now believe that the most heartbreaking sound anyone could ever hear is complete silence.

When I learned of his illness, I made myself a promise that I would plant a tree in his honor when he left us.  So we went out and bought a tree.  When I returned home, there was that dreadful silence yet again.  I tried to be productive, so I went into the office and sat on the floor to take a measurement of a picture frame I was working on, but it only reminded me that he would normally follow me and be laying on the floor beside me.  I just rolled over onto my back and lay there sobbing yet again.  Can a person ever run out of tears?

Everything I did the rest of the day reminded me of him.  Why do I feel like I am obsessing?  The tears would dry up for a little while.  Then something would spark them all over again.  I was almost relieved when it was time for bed.  I was exhausted.  I needed to sleep.  But sleep would be difficult.  My love was no longer in bed with me.  The weight of him at my feet was gone.  I didn’t have to shift my legs around his body to get comfortable.  There was only emptiness.

I slept for a little while, and I vaguely remember dreaming of him.  Oh how I wish I could remember that dream.  Instead what I remember are the dreams that took place in the hours that followed. Hours of on-again, off-again sleep.  These dreams were filled with animals of all sorts, but none of them were him.  I would pet an animal here or there, and I would say, but it’s not Obi.  Where is Obi?  And I kept looking for him in those dreams.  But he was gone.

Three a.m. came.  It was very normal for Obi to wake me around 3 a.m. to go outside.  I still woke up.  I lay there in the silence.  Eventually I think I slept.  Unfortunately I was met with more restless dreams.  I almost looked forward to morning.  But the morning held its own challenges. You see, my morning routine for years has been to wake up, let Obi out, feed him and then have some coffee.  More recently it included actually cooking breakfast for my baby.  Today was drastically different.  My alarm went off, and again I just lay there.  I didn’t have to get out of bed for 30 more minutes.  I didn’t have to go downstairs to care for any other living soul.  The only thing that would require me to get up would be to make myself some coffee.  So I did.

As I made my coffee, Virginia’s kitty, Baya, stood by the back door.  She knew Obi’s routine.  In her brief few months with us, she learned it and she joined us each morning.  Today she sat at the back door.  Waiting?  I don’t know, so I picked her up and took her outside for a minute.  And just for a moment, a very brief moment, I could imagine Obi standing there beside us looking out across the yard.  I wanted to say, come on Obi when I turned to go back inside.  I think I just may have. Maybe he was there beside me.  I hope so.

Now it’s back to work.  A slight distraction from the reality that is heartbreaking.  But only slight.  For I can’t help but reflect on some of the other times I have written about him here.  Funny times, silly times, even gross times.  But all gloriously wonderful times I would take back in a heartbeat (even the gross ones) just to have him by my side.

I am sure one day I will have another pup.  I can only hope and pray he/she will be as wonderful as my Obi was.  They will have some big paws to fill, but I don’t think they will ever be able to fill this hole in my heart.  There is only one Obi, and he waits for me on the other side. Only then will my heart be complete once again.

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The Hardest Day of My Life

One thing about the human body truly amazes me….it’s ability to produce an endless amount of tears.  Just when you think you couldn’t possibly cry any more, you do.  That’s been the last 24 hours for me. The only way I know how to let it out, other than crying, is writing. Welcome to the hardest day of my life.

It’s Sunday night, July 9, 2017. It has been a long hard day with lots of tears.  As the CHF and DCM has taken its toll on my beloved Obi, he has slowly withered into skin and bones.  When he refused his dog food, I started cooking for him. When he refused that food, I bought fast food burgers for him. Now he refuses all forms of food. He he hasn’t fully  eaten since Wednesday (July 5th). He took his last bite of food (just a bite of hamburger) on Thursday.  By Friday he refused to drink his water. The only thing I can get him to accept at all is ice cubes.

My Obi has always been such an affectionate dog, especially with me. He used to cuddle with me by laying all 100 lbs of him right on top on me, his head on my chest.  Now he doesn’t want to snuggle with me at all. He will lay in bed with me, but he doesn’t want to be close.  He is still a “leaner”, and he loves to follow me and be as close to me as possible, but when he leans now, he doesn’t want me to put my hands on him. He just looks at me. His eyes are pleading for me to let him go.  I’ve known for some time; I just didn’t want to accept it. But now, as he turns his nose away from steak, staring sadly into my eyes, I can no longer deny that I must make the hardest decision of my life.

There is nothing else I can do now but cry. And I cried. You know the kind of cry that gets ugly and you find it difficult to say any words that can be comprehended…yeah that was me today.  When I was through I had dinner…hoping my boy would want just one bite of table scraps (he didn’t)…made some plans for the morning, and sent a email to my boss to let her know the news and why I wouldn’t be in on Monday.  Then I gave my precious Obi the one and only thing that seems to make him happy right now, a bowl full of ice cubes.

I choked back a new batch of tears as I told my boy that I am now OK with letting him go. I know he isn’t really leaving me in spirit, only on flesh.  That still doesn’t make this any easier.

Now it’s time for bed and Obi seems as anxious for morning as I am. Although I am sure he may be looking forward to it more than I.  He has already fallen asleep. His breathing is no longer gurgly…of course he hasn’t been drinking any water so that would explain the lack of water on his lungs. However, his breathing is heavy. It’s the kind of breathing you hear when someone is constantly out of breath.  I want so badly to snuggle with him one last time, but I don’t want him to leave the bed, so I let him decide when he wants to move closer.  I hope I can sleep.

6:00 am Monday morning. I tossed and turned so much last night. Even Obi seemed restless. At one point I even woke myself up crying. I know I was crying in a dream, but the emotions bled out of my dream and into reality and it woke me up. Even though I don’t have to be on a schedule today, I set an alarm to get up early. Now I’m rethinking that as I lay here wishing for more sleep with a headache pounding away.

My best friend just sent me a blog he wrote about me and Obi (See here.)  I read it and cried my eyes out. This time Obi was there. He came up and put his head on me as I lie here in bed. I have wanted this “snuggle” for days. I finally have one last hug from my baby. Now he seems to want me to get up.

I reluctantly get up and get some coffee. This would normally be my routine breakfast time with Obi; which late included cooking cheeseburgers for him. But not today. He no longer will eat anything, except ice cubes. So I sit here drinking my coffee while he seems happy eating a bowl full of ice cubes. I love my silly, sad dog.

Obi grows anxious so I hop in the shower to get ready. As always, my silly dog follows me everywhere. But I won’t shut him out.  At this point I think I’ve made myself sick. I don’t feel so well.


As I finish my shower I see him shaking uncontrollably. I throw some clothes on and he lies down on the floor. Omg is he going to make it to the vet even? I start to panic. I ask him if he wants to go for a ride and he jumps up; suddenly better. Silly sad dog. My heart is on a roller coaster ride.  My oldest starts to chastise me for waiting so long to do this. She has always been the one who acts more like the mom here. I start crying again, begging her not to do this to me. She understands and stops. The vet opens in 15 minutes, then I can call them. I need more coffee. I need aspirin for my headache. I wish Obi would cuddle with me.

It’s 7:20. This wait is killing me. He’s pleading me to go.

7:30. I call the vet. They will take us at 8:00. I’m crying again.

I brought a bowl of ice for Obi to enjoy in the car. He enjoys some of it before laying down on the back seat. I can hear that he is quietly whimpering.

We pass by cemeteries. A reminder that I’m not the only one who has ever lost a precious part of me. It sure feels like it though.

We brought the cat so she could say goodbye and understand why he won’t be home any longer. She provides comic relief on the car ride.  Perhaps she’s already mourning too.

We stopped at a new dog park by the dam. Of course there is one close to us now. Why wasn’t this here before, when I used to bring him walking with me here? There is one dog here. He greets her. He sticks his nose in the water a few times, but he never drinks. We are here only 10 minutes and he walks towards the gate. He’s ready. It’s 8:00. We are late for the vet. But then the vet’s office calls. He won’t be in until 8:30. We are no longer late. We hop back in the car and Obi continues eating his ice. I feel nauseous.

The universe is with me. Lightning Crashes by Live plays on the radio. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about reincarnation. Now we are all crying. A more fitting song couldn’t have played.  It’s funny how the universe works.

8:23 – We are arriving at the vet. My heart literally hurts and I feel a pain in my chest.  My lungs feel tight and it’s hard to breathe. The cat is panting too. I think we both have anxiety. I know it’s psychosomatic. The song in the radio now – I’ll Be There for You by Bon Jovi, another fitting song. I reluctantly walk into the vet office.

As we are taken to a room, I’m given a form to sign. The second I put the pen to the paper, I could no longer see my own signature through my tears as they flow harder. They are going to sedate him. We will then be with him as long as we want. When we are ready, we have a button to push, alerting the vet to come in to euthanize.

8:30 – He’s been sedated. It’s tough on all of us. He’s letting us all love on him.

8:42 – He’s fighting sleep.  He’s down but his eyes remain open. His breathing is very heavy.

8:49 – He is asleep. No one wants to push the button.

8:53 – The button is pushed – I couldn’t do it. The vet comes in and shaves his leg. I keep the hair. He is injected. I keep my hand over his heart.

8:55 – I feel his heart stop. My baby is gone. For a very brief second, everything is calm and I’m ok.  But it is very brief.  Tears flow again

8:58 – There are still dramatic and very deep breaths coming from him. The vet told us this would happen, but he is already gone and it is the body’s normal reaction. It’s hard to watch.  More than that, it is ripping my heart out.

9:00 – I think we have witnessed the final deep breath.  We say our final goodbyes. There isn’t a dry eye at the vet office as we walk out.

This is undoubtedly the hardest day of my life.

Thank you for being a part of my life. I will miss you and love you forever my Obi Dobie.

Related Posts:

Facing the Inevitable

Day by Day

Pet Insurance – Such a Scam

Anticipating the End

 

Appreciation

Appreciation. It’s a funny thing. Some people live their whole lives feeling appreciated by those they love. Walking around beaming with pride from their very soul as if the very rays of the sun are coming from within. They know that their presence matters to someone, and that mere feeling pushes them from day to day with an exuberance to top their last.  Then some people live their whole life just wanting an ounce of appreciation from one truly pivotal person in their life. Whether it’s an abused spouse trying their damnedest to make their significant other show just a hint of happiness for having them in their life, or whether it be a silently ignored child just fighting for an ounce of affection from a parent who doesn’t seem to notice or care that they exist.


The universe itself thrives on appreciation. Those who live life with a thankful heart live life to the fullest. The more they appreciate what the universe has to offer, the more it wants to offer to them. People are very much the same. The more they feel appreciated, the more they want to do. Decades ago when divorce was less rampant, what kept families happy? Why did a man continue happily slaving at an endless job every day of his life? What kept a woman happily putting every meal on the table for her family? The key word here is “happy”. Those who happily did it most likely felt appreciated for these monotonous and mundane efforts.

Appreciation. Whether you look at it in extremes or in minute instances. It can make or break a person. Lack of appreciation can turn a heart cold. It causes divorces. It makes good employees leave good jobs. It can create tyrants. Or it can create a silent and deadly depression as it makes one’s soul slowly wither away. There is an endless array of circumstances that can befall a person when they feel unappreciated. Sure it may vary based on circumstances, but the fact of the matter remains.. we all seek to be appreciated in some form or another.


We may not all care about the amount of appreciation we receive. We may not all care if it comes from every aspect of our life. But I am pretty certain everyone has at least one key component in their life where a little appreciation means everything to them. A parent wanting their ever demanding kids to realize all the sacrifices they’ve made. A young child, wanting a parent to appreciate a drawing they worked so hard on. A star athlete wanting to feel valued by a respected coach. The best employee wanting to know the boss recognizes their efforts. A stay-at-home mom who lives life day-to-day with little adult interaction while her husband entertains late into the evening. Most don’t actively do things seeking appreciation, but they do notice when there is a lack thereof.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing to feel appreciated. A feeling that says, “Hey I see you.” “I acknowledge your efforts.” “I understand you.” Or “I am thankful for you.” A little appreciation can go a long way. It can make one’s efforts push beyond all expectations. But a lack of appreciation can go a long way too, as it can push a person down into the deep recesses of humanity. It’s the story often told in movies of triumph. It’s the story often told in movies of despair. It’s the unmentioned catalyst in both. But if you step back and focus on it, you’ll see its presence or lack thereof. You just may come to understand what it means to receive or show appreciation.


Appreciation. It’s very much like a smile; show a little and you may just change someone’s day…a server, a clerk, a stranger helping you on the street. But don’t stop just there, for we all tend to show more appreciation to those whose paths we will never cross again than we do for the very people right in front of us day-to-day. Don’t forget those who support you, whose very lives intertwine with yours. Those may be the very souls who need it the most from you. The people we become complacent with having in our lives. How quickly we grow to expect so much from them.  Make sure they know they are appreciated. Don’t take them for granted. For no matter how much you love them, people get tired eventually. Even if they stick it out, life offers no guarantees.  As the old saying goes: take time to stop and smell the roses. This too has always be just a little reminder about appreciation.

 

Facing the Inevitable

Amazingly it has been six months since my Obi was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).  Since then we have had our share of good days and bad days, ups and downs and quite a bit of stress.  Back when all of this began, my baby had already started turning away from his dry dog food, so I had to start watering it down.  By March, he would no longer eat that, so I started buying canned dog food and mixing it.  When he started turning away from the canned/dry mixture, I went on to straight canned dog food.  By May he wouldn’t eat canned dog food either. I then tried purchasing the refrigerated tube of dog food that is offered in some stores.  He liked it for about three days.  Then he went on a hunger strike for about a week.  I watched him get skinnier and skinnier and was afraid to go on vacation at the beginning of June.

My mom came to our house to stay with him during our vacation.  “Grannie” somehow managed to get him to eat again and helped him put some weight back on. Her trick?  Lots of leftovers.  That was more than alright by me, as I had already tried giving him some here and there as well.  I would do anything that would keep Obi eating.  Unfortunately, that didn’t last long  About a week after she left, he quit eating most of the things I gave him.  So I started to cook for my dog. I found a crock pot chicken recipe that was very simple, and he loved it!  The pot of food lasted almost a week and he ate it all.  For some reason, the second pot didn’t come out quite the same.  He knew it too, as he would nibble at it, but wouldn’t eat all of his meals.  Now we are on the third pot, and he won’t touch it at all.  We had steak one night for dinner and of course he loved that.  The next night we had hamburgers and hotdogs.  He ate the hamburger, but wouldn’t touch the hot dogs.  The next night, he turned his nose up at the hamburger.  He didn’t eat anything that night.  That brings us to last night.  My daughter made soup, and we had french bread with it.  The only thing I could find in my house that he would eat was that french bread.  Once I discovered he would eat it, I dipped it in his crock pot dog food broth to provide some substance, and that worked.  Unfortunately once the bread was gone, he wouldn’t touch anything else.  I don’t know from one day to the next what he will eat or even if he will eat, but strangely enough, there is one thing he has eaten all week with me…watermelon.  While he turned away hotdogs and hamburgers, he was more than happy to share my watermelon.  Silly dog.

But as comical as I find his taste for watermelon, it hasn’t detracted from the fact that my dog is starving himself.  Due to his salix (water pills), he was drinking a lot of water before, but even that has subsided this week.  On a good note, his lungs do not sound as “liquid” since he hasn’t been drinking, but don’t let that fool you. His nose is showing he is becoming more and more dehydrated each day.  His energy is gone.  He is still as lovable with me as ever, but he also seems so very sad.  We spent a day laying in the grass last Sunday, and I would have sworn at that time that was going to be his final day. I am happy to say it wasn’t, but that day is coming, too quickly.


As if the universe wanted to send me a message, I received an article on my news homepage yesterday regarding euthanasia for dogs. I was able to read it objectively until I got to the part about what to do with their remains.  Then I almost lost it.  My baby will be gone…very, very soon.

I belong to a Facebook group dedicated to Doberman DCM.  After reading the euthanasia article, I took a chance and posted: “I am curious as to how many DCM families made the decision to euthanize instead of letting nature take its course. If so, at what point did you decide it would be best to do it? The idea breaks my heart, but I don’t know how much pain my baby is actually in.” I received so much feedback, most of it very supportive, but most of it heartbreaking.  Many responses included signs that my baby is already showing.  Many indicated it would be better for me to euthanize so he could die comfortably instead of risking a very painful death (which some had gone through with their dobies).  Now I am at a crossroads.  My heart continues to break.  I have a tough decision to make.  I don’t think I’m strong enough to make it.  Hell I can’t even handle thinking about it.  I don’t want to be the reason my dog dies, but I don’t want to be the reason he dies in pain either.  I need more time!  Sadly, time offers no guarantees.

So now I am crying as I am reluctantly planning a “fun last day” for my baby. I haven’t picked a date yet, because that would mean it’s final.  I’m not ready for it to be final.  But if you see me and I don’t seem cheery, if you call me and I don’t want to talk, if I turn down any invitation, or if I just seem quiet and far away while I’m in your presence, even though I may or may not have a smile on my face, please, please, please understand it’s because my heart is being ripped away from my very soul.  Maybe it will be renewed one day, but for now…well for now it’s just what it is.


Related posts:  Anticipating the End, Pet Insurance; Such a Scam  and Day by Day

Day by Day

Back in January, my Obi was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  (See Anticipating the End.)  Since then, it has been a struggle to keep up with the cost of heart medicines for my adorable baby. (See Pet Insurance…)  But how can you put a price on keeping a loved one in your life – even if it is a furry loved one??  All costs aside, my baby seemed to be doing very well, and no one would ever suspect he was sick.  So as any logical person struggling with the excessive cost would, I began to question the need for the medicines he was on.  First I researched three of the four.  This is what I found through my internet searches (and you may want to skip over this part if you aren’t researching for your own dog’s health):

Benazepril is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Lowering high blood pressure helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems. Benazepril is an ACE inhibitor and works by relaxing blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily.  This medication may also be used to treat heart failure or to help protect the kidneys from harm due to diabetes.

ACE Inhibitors – Indications

Severe heart disease is generally associated with activation of the reninangiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS), which promotes fluid retention, vasoconstriction, and myocardial and vascular remodeling. Use of ACE inhibitors in dogs with CHF is associated with improved quality of life and survival; however, data in support of this statement are less robust for dogs with DCM than for dogs with DMVD. When diuretics such as furosemide are administered, the reduction of plasma volume further stimulates RAAS activity and coadministration with an ACE inhibitor is generally recommended.

Administration

There are a variety of ACE inhibitors available, including enalapril, benazepril, ramapril, and lisinopril (Table). Differences are relatively minor, mainly involving route of metabolism/excretion and lipophilicity. From a clinical standpoint, many cardiologists consider them to be interchangeable. In the United States, the two most commonly used ACE inhibitors are enalapril and benazepril; both are associated with clinical benefit in dogs with signs of heart failure.

Considerations

In dogs with DMVD, the use of ACE inhibitors in those without clinical signs remains controversial. Two well-designed studies offer slightly different perspectives: One study in Cavalier King Charles spaniels with mild–moderate DMVD clearly indicated that enalapril did not delay onset of CHF. Another study involving dogs of many different breeds and more advanced DMVD also failed to show benefit with respect to the study’s primary endpoint; however, analysis of several secondary endpoints suggested that dogs that received enalapril avoided heart failure longer than dogs that did not.  In my opinion, if ACE inhibitors delay heart failure in dogs with DMVD that show no clinical signs, the effect is inconsistent from individual to individual, relatively small, and unlikely to dramatically change progression of disease. In dogs with severe heart enlargement and at high risk for CHF, I prefer to use an ACE inhibitor in tandem with low-dose diuretic therapy (furosemide, 1 mg/kg Q 24 H), as this more likely reduces plasma volume, intracardiac pressure, and risk of CHF than using an ACE inhibitor alone.

In human patients with asymptomatic DCM, early use of ACE inhibitors is widely recommended. In veterinary medicine, large-scale trials are lacking; however, a small study indicated that ACE inhibitors delayed onset of heart failure in Doberman pinschers with DCM. Thus, in dogs with DCM, I recommend use of ACE inhibitors prior to onset of clinical signs.

Monitoring

Adverse effects of ACE inhibitor treatment are relatively rare, but clinically significant renal dysfunction can occur. Less commonly, systemic hypotension or electrolyte imbalances are encountered. Renal function should be evaluated both before and after initiation of ACE inhibitors and at 3- to 6-month intervals thereafter.

Sotalol is used to treat a serious (possibly life-threatening) type of fast heartbeat called sustained ventricular tachycardia. It is also used to treat certain fast/irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation/flutter) in patients with severe symptoms such as weakness and shortness of breath. Sotalol helps to lessen these symptoms. It slows the heart rate and helps the heart to beat more normally and regularly. This medication is both a beta blocker and an anti-arrhythmic.

Beta-Blockers – Indications

Sympathetic tone is chronically elevated in dogs with DMVD and DCM and is thought to contribute to disease progression. In humans, plasma norepinephrine is a powerful predictor of morbidity and mortality. However, routine use of beta-blockers in veterinary medicine is hindered by lack of well-controlled clinical trials and risk for adverse events when initiating therapy, especially in dogs with advanced disease. In humans, beta-blockade is recommended in virtually all instances of reduced contractility, such as occurs in DCM. Thus, administration of beta-blockers is advocated by many cardiologists in dogs with DCM.

Adminstration

Because of the risk for acute slowing of heart rate and decreases in contractility, treatment with beta-blockers must be performed with caution. Typically, the dose is up-titrated over 4 to 6 weeks with close monitoring of heart rate, respiratory effort, and blood pressure. Titration is best tolerated in dogs with relatively early DCM.

Considerations

In dogs with DMVD, the use of beta-blockers is controversial and no consensus recommendations can be made.

Monitoring

Practitioners who use beta-blockers must be prepared to monitor dogs closely and to deal with acute decompensation should it occur. Consultation with a cardiologist is recommended.

Vetmedin (pimobendan) is used in the management of heart failure in dogs, most commonly caused by myxomatous mitral valve disease (also previously known as endocardiosis), or dilated cardiomyopathy. Research has shown that as a monotherapy, pimobendan increases survival time and improves quality of life in canine patients with congestive heart failure secondary to mitral valve disease when compared with benazepril, an angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.[2] However, in clinical practice, it is often used in conjunction with an ACE inhibitor like enalapril or benazepril.

Indications
Both DMVD and DCM are associated with progressive loss of myocardial contractility. Poor contractility is much easier to detect in dogs with DCM as opposed to DMVD, where the presence of a large degree of mitral regurgitation often confounds routine echocardiographic evaluation of contractility.

Pimobendan is a positive inotrope and increases contractility through a mechanism different from that of traditional inotropes such as digoxin—the advantage of which is increased contractility without significant increases in myocardial oxygen demand. Pimobendan also relaxes vascular smooth muscle and elicits modest arterial vasodilation; this dual “inodilating” action is unique. Pimobendan improves survival and quality of life in dogs with DMVD, and very likely does the same in dogs with DCM.

Administration
The recommended dose is 0.5 mg/kg per day, divided into 2 doses that do not necessarily need to be equal.

Considerations
The benefits of pimobendan have been substantiated in dogs showing clinical signs associated with heart disease due to DMVD and DCM; treatment with this agent is recommended only if clinical signs are evident. Thus, in the majority of instances, pimobendan is prescribed only if and when dogs experience congestive heart failure and its attendant clinical manifestations (eg, cough, dyspnea, tachypnea).

Less commonly, dogs with exercise intolerance or syncope are also candidates for treatment. Currently, no evidence exists for the use of pimobendan in dogs with DMVD or DCM prior to the onset of clinical signs.

Monitoring
Pimobendan is generally well tolerated in dogs and no specific monitoring recommendations accompany its use.

The fourth medicine (Salix), I did not bother researching, because I already knew this one was desperately needed to help keep fluid from building up in his lungs.  As you can guess, I was researching the others to see if I could drop any of them from the mix to save some money.  After reading about them, I concluded (and it’s possible I was wrong), that three of the four were taken by humans, but the fourth (Vetmedin aka Pimbendan) was not.  This pill just happened to be the most expensive at $110 for a 25 day supply from my vet.  I thought I would try to go without and see how he reacted.


At first, Obi seemed fine without the Vetmedin, but within a day or two I started to get paranoid about going without.  Therefore, I went online and found it cheaper ($88 a month).  I submitted an online order.  Since this is a prescription medicine, the company indicated they would require a prescription from the vet and would attempt to get it.  I waited.  Two days later (on a Saturday) I started to get worried, so when Obi ran out of his salix and I had to call the vet for a refill, I asked about the prescription. The company had not sent the vet a request.  I figured I would give them until Monday.

Sunday morning, during our normal routine, I was up bright and early (6:30 am – way too early for a weekend if you ask me) and gave Obi his medicine.  Since I was awake, I started to make my coffee.  Behind me I heard a thud.  I turned around and my precious baby was lying flat on his side staring wide-eyed at me. I ran over to him and tried to help him up.  He couldn’t move.  I watched for signs of a seizure.  He did not shake at all, just laid there as if he were paralyzed.  I started to panic.  I thought this was it.  I woke the kids up, because I was afraid this would be their last chance to say goodbye.  We spent the next hour laying on the floor with him.  All we could do was give him love.  Then he slowly started to get up and I asked him if he needed to go out.  He did.  He moved slowly, but as the day progressed, he worked his way back to being somewhat “normal”.  He was slower than his normal spunky self, and I could hear the fluid in his lungs, but he seemed to be OK.  A trip to the vet in the morning would be priority.


On Monday, he went to the vet and got an injection to drain the fluid from his lungs.  We also got a new supply of his vetmedin since the online company never followed-through to obtain a prescription from the vet.  That evening he was back to his spunky self.  It was settled, he would stay on all four medicines for the remainder of his life.  Happy as I was that he was doing better, I faced a new dilemma.  I have a vacation coming in a week.  A “kid vacation” if you will…the last one we will have before Virginia graduates high school and goes off to college.  I originally thought to board the dog with the vet so that I knew he would receive good care; but now I didn’t want to leave him.  Even though the staff at the vet’s office loves Obi, and even with the amount of attention they would give him, I knew there would be periods of time that he would spend in a kennel, alone.  I don’t want him to feel abandoned.  And if this happens to be his time, I don’t want to chance him dying “alone”.  I didn’t want to cancel this trip either.

I spoke with my mom (who lives a few states away), and she agreed to take him.  As fabulous as this is, and yes it is an awesome deal for both Obi and myself, it still worries me.  At the vet, he would have been dropped off the day we left, and picked up the day we returned.  Since my mom lives a few states away, I am now taking him to be with her a week prior to our trip.  That’s a week I won’t have with my baby.  I know, silly right?  But unless you have a fur baby that you deeply love, you cannot imagine how hard it is to leave your baby, especially when they are deathly ill.  Still, I have no other choice, and this is the best one.

So, we are now taking it day by day.  I listen each night as his breathing grows more “liquid” and labored.  I listen to him cough to try to eliminate it from his lungs.  My baby is slowly drowning and I feel helpless that there is nothing that can be done to reverse it all.  When I leave for work each day, I kiss him goodbye and hope when I return at the end of the day he will still be at the door to greet me when I get home.  Day by day.  That is all I can do.  That and love him with everything I have.

Pet Insurance – Such a Scam

As you may know, my precious little Obi has been suffering from CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).  I wrote about his symptoms back in February, and detailed how this came about in my blog entitled Anticipating the End.  I am happy to say as of right now, he is doing quite well.  I am very thankful that for the most part, even at 9 years old, he acts like a puppy, and you would never know he has a medical problem.

At the time this started, I was thankful that I had purchased Nationwide Pet Insurance through my employer.  After all, it seemed to be useful a few years back when we had a tumor removed from his leg, after which he proceeded to open his stitches up twice over a holiday weekend, forcing us to the vet multiple times.  The tumor turned out to be benign by the way.  After that incident, there were a few times that I contemplated the need for paying the high cost of having this insurance.  After all, premiums of $76.08 per month add up to a whopping $912.96 for a year!  And it seems that I am never reimbursed an amount equal to what I have paid in premiums – or even equal to my complete vet expenses!  In all actually, it seems that more times than not, my claims were denied for some frivolous reason.  So I started to think about cancelling this insurance just a month prior to learning of Obi’s CHF, but for some reason, I did not.  And, as I said, when I learned he had CHF, knowing that he would have to go through several expensive tests and possible future treatments, I was relieved that I still had the insurance.  But then the insurance hassles began.

From the initial onset of his disease, I was very prompt in submitting my insurance claims for reimbursement.  Nationwide Pet Insurance, however, has been anything but prompt in the processing of my claims.  In most cases, they are quick to deny.  Below I am going to share with you how ridiculous having pet insurance is, in the hopes of saving anyone else the trouble of taking on this monthly bill.  Instead, it would be much more cost-effective to just put money aside every month for possible vet expenses; a better alternative to throwing your hard-earned money away to this company.

Included  Charge  Amount Reimbursed  Reimbursement Pending
12/14/2016 Vet visit – Annual vaccinations, Skin test for hair loss (initial CHF problem??)  $                   196.96  $            51.50
12/29/2016 12/14 visit denied due to lack of diagnosis
12/30/2017 12/14 claim resubmitted claim with diagnosis
1/11/2017 12/14 claim denied again – waiting for diagnosis
1/12/2017 Diagnosis for 12/14 claim submitted again
1/25/2017 Vet visit – Radiographs Series & Interpretation, Salix Injection, Salix Tablets, Benazepril Tablets, Vetmedin Pill  $                    325.17
1/31/2017 12/14 claim denied stating “behavior modification”
1/31/2017 Phone call arguing 12/14 claim and the fact that my dog does not have a behavioral problem, he has a heart problem – they want a new diagnosis
2/1/2017 Resubmitted 12/14 claim with new diagnosis of dilated Cardiomyopathy
2/1/2017 Vet visit – ultrasound of Obi’s heart  $                  260.00  Denied
2/2/2017 Received letter requesting Vet Records
2/3/2017 Requested update on status of 12/14 claim – no response
2/3/2017 Unable to read vet records – 1/25 claim denied again
2/3/2017 Requested update on status of 1/25 claim
2/8/2017 Resubmitted 12/14 claim with new diagnosis again
2/21/2017 Vet records sent a second time  for 1/25 visit
2/24/2017 Refill of Medication  $                   145.62  Denied
2/28/2017 Letter denying ultrasound from 2/1
3/3/2017 Received letter stating only part of 12/14 claim will be reimbursed  $             128.57
3/3/2017 Received letter stating only part of 1/25 visit will be reimbursed for Cardiomyopathy, but won’t cover CHF  $             275.00
 $                  927.75  $          51.50  $            403.57
 Expenses since 12/16  Reimbursed  Pending

As you can see, No matter how much my vet bills will amount to, having these ridiculous caps on each disease or illness, I will never recoup the cost of my yearly premiums ($912.96).  So take a tip from me, don’t buy pet insurance, at least not from Nationwide (although I don’t expect any other company would be any better!).  Save that money instead! If you are lucky, you will never need it, and if you do, you just may come out ahead paying cash to the vet instead of paying it to an insurance company that won’t reimburse!

 

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