August 20, 2017

White Dog helped figure out the work around for the fact that Trixie is being hospiced in the kitchen and takes up a big, beautiful girl amount of space. We have moved Trix around into the living room and the bedroom but she seems most comfortable in her "usual" spot in front of the kitchen sink so we have set up folded blankets for her to lie upon and with water just a turn of the head away, but in doing so we lose use of the only counter space we have in our 1940's vintage kitchen.

It made cooking weeklong meals for the White Dog Army a bit of a challenge...but not insurmountable. We ARE the White Dog Army, after all (I was reminded).

Zsofia was on chef's assistance duty.
"Good, momma. Now lets mix in the carrots!"


August 19, 2017

White Dog closed her eyes in bliss as she took another bite of the samosas Scooby sent as a literal doggie box from his Santa Fe birthday party. Plus Steve and I returned bearing rabbit treats. It was treat heaven.

"Is there anything better?" she asked the White Dog Army.

"Only this," Nilla replied nodding over to Trixie, who had finished her treats and was already napping under swamp cooler breezes.


August 18, 2017

White Dog made an executive decision. "No pups are going with momma and dad tomorrow," she said. "Including me. We cannot risk bringing some germ home to Yo."

Tomorrow we are going to a fundraising event at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter hosted by a friend in honor of his dog's birthday. The White Dog Army was invited to come along.

When Yo did his blood work earlier in the week, Dr. Julia was concerned about his white blood cell count. I also mentioned to her that my boy was starting to develop the leg tremors and jaw clicking that are side effects of prednisone use. We discussed the dilemma of cutting back the pred to stop the effects vs reducing the control it offered in keeping the red blood cell count up.

We decided then since it was early in the week we would cut the dosage with the caveat that we would do blood work again before the weekend. If it stayed the same, we would continue the reduced dose...if his number dropped we would jump back to where he had been. Almost immediately Yo's eating became less robust and he was a bit more sluggish than he had been.

"And I want to think about his antibiotic," our beloved vet said. "I think I want to switch because the wbc is too high but I want to consider our options."

Early this morning Steve and YoYoMa went to give blood for the test. Sure, enough his hematocrit number was slightly down...and his white cells were even higher than they had been.

"Back up to the full pred dose," Dr. Julia ordered. "And we are going back to doxycycline. I suspect that we are going to have to rotate through the antibiotics across time. That one will work for a while and then we will have to change. Call me on Monday and let me know his eating and energy are back and we will do another blood check on Tuesday or Wednesday."

It was the news of the increased white blood cell count that prompted White Dog's decision. "We can't but our brother in danger," she explained to the others. "Shelters are full of all kinds of things, as most of you know. Yo's body is already fighting so hard. Better safe than sorry."

Did I mention I love my pack for their concern for each other. There was nothing but instant agreement and positive woofs of protecting their own.

August 17, 2017

White Dog led Steve into the room. He was carrying Benson.  I reached up and he placed my errant boy into my arms. I wrapped my arms around him.

"Sweet boy," I said to him, "you scared the bejesus out of momma. I am glad you are safely inside."

This afternoon Benson was napping at the other end of the hallway in the bedroom as I worked. I could see him lying just inside the door. Later he disappeared from view but I assumed that as he often does that he had shifted to lie at the foot of the bed by the dog door.

At treat time when he did not join the White Dogs, I got a bit concerned (call it momma spidey sense). I went looking for him. He was not to be found. I peeked out of the patio door and did not see him in the yard so I went to check the kitchen and front sun porch where YoYoMa slept. Not there.

I went out to the back deck and stood looking. THERE he was, far back against the end of the yard pacing against the wall through the bamboo. "Benson!" I called but got no response.  I could tell by his pace that he was not ignoring me but rather, confused. I called again and then sent Zsofia out to him. She woofed in his face but he did not stop his pacing.

He was too far out in the yard for me to totter out after him and it was late afternoon, the hottest time of day in Albuquerque. Fortunately Steve was due home in a bit over an hour.

Benson has been showing signs of dementia...of getting "lost" in familiar places...of being timid. But he always has managed to find his way inside...til now.

When Steve arrived, he went out directly and returned with my prodigal son. I held his hot body in my arms and let him drink his fill from my water glass. "Ben, you are dehydrated! You cannot wander outside without drinking. In fact I would rather you did not wander at all. I was so worried."

I sheltered him in my lap against my chest and he sighed softly as he listened to my heartbeat. I stroked his furs and kissed the top of his head. I felt him relax and then give himself over to an exhausted sleep as I sat unmoving so as not to disturb his calm.

August 16, 2017

White Dog stepped back and let Sachi walk up Steve's body to stand on Steve's chest and say, "Hurry up, Dad! We barely have time for a quick game of 'Find Me' with your flashlight before the sun rises and we can sing a song of birthday greetings."

Then WD, along with all of the other White Dogs (including a very wobbly Trixie), surrounded Steve to start his special day with a blizzard of love.

"Come now," WD told everyone including Steve, "This part of your birthday celebration was meant for just us and dad. Let's let momma continue her rest. You know she will be crabby if we make her wake up at 5am." The group spirited Steve out of the bedroom but Benson remained to settle in beside me on the floor.

I heard all of them briefly before pulling the covers up and dozing off.

I woke to the smell of bacon sizzling and Opal hurtling through the room. On her way back in, she paused to say, "Come on! We are making birthday pancakes WITH bacon! BLUEBERRY pancakes!"

And so the day went. The White Dog Army had planned a day of simple pleasures that centered around being together and sharing little delicious moments of cuddling, working out in the yard, noshing.

True to her word, White Dog had put together a fabulous meal to substitute for the original plan that had been sidetracked. And there was a joyful buzz as we all pitched in to communally prepare the feast that included a favorites cheese plate to munch on while cauliflower roasted and the gorgonzola parsley potato cakes were fried up. Beautiful petite lamb chops rested in a rub of Indian-based spices waiting for a quick pan frying in butter and olive oil.

The freezer already held the strawberry ice cream cake that YoYoMa and Zsofia had chosen and which Nilla had helped frost with thick whipped cream. Stormer was amazingly delicate as he garnished the top with fresh berries.

There was gentle ambient music and not much talking as the meal ended; we all just basked in the glow of a day spent honoring, celebrating, and sharing the life of the guy who works so hard on our behalf and enriches us so.

At bedtime, each pup took a special moment to lick a hand, nudge a knee, or in some way personally acknowledge the importance of Steve in his or her life...and to say "I hope I have many many more opportunities to be part of sharing your birthday celebration in years to come."


August 15, 2017

White Dog pretended to be asleep until she heard the van zoom off, taking Steve to work. Then she gathered the White Dog Army around her.

No one even asked the reason. EVERY pup knew tomorrow is Steve's birthday and they were ready to get the planning seriously underway. Steve has the day off and the WDA plans to not waste a single minute.

WD had already given thought to the celebration feast but was thwarted by an email yesterday telling us that a crucial ingredient specially ordered just for the meal, would be delayed and would not arrive until Friday. "Dog poop!" she exclaimed! "Now we have to put together an entirely new menu." I reminded her that it would allow us to have TWO special meals, but she reminded me that our switch had to be done based on ingredients at hand since grocery shopping had already been done...and the need to go again would alert Steve.

There was LOTS of nosing open cupboards and standing with heads in the refrigerators. Zsofia was the only one tall enough to look at options in the chest freezer since Trixie still has limited mobility and can only supervise.

YoYoMa and Opal worked on the music track. Stormer and Sachi wrote out a schedule of activities for the day. Nilla and Bella and Pearl made decorations, including new snooter art. Benson worked with WD and me to wrap gifts.

By the end of the day, well before Steve's return home the White Dog Army was ready for tomorrow's Big Day. Zsofia had to pounce on her brother, Sachi, in a wrestling move to keep him from blurting out the plan when Steve walked in. "Zip it!" she hissed and luckily, for once, his eyes opened wide and he nodded that he "got it." He has only needed reminding three times tonight.

White Dog has come up with an alternative feast that will be every bit as tempting and satisfying as the original plan...AND we will have another chance to celebrate over the weekend. My girl is a resourceful planner...plus she knows EVERYONE loves lamb chops.


August 14, 2017

White Dog had nothing to say. She was buried deep in the closet space that is her bedroom suite in the office. It was storming...loudly thundering, ripping the sky with plasma flashes and throwing rain forcefully against the windows.

No pup was at ease or appreciating the much needed moisture. We gathered in the bedroom to give Benson his subq fluids and discovered that someone had channeled nervous energy into chewing a hole in the corner of Bella's sleep mat...Nothing that can't easily be mended but a clear sign that the force of the storm was rattling confidence and making someone(s) edgy.

"It is all right," I reassured the White Dogs. Steve closed the blinds tightly. "We are all safe and dry. When Benson is done getting his treatment we will have treats just like always. Come close and it will be fine."
Sachi is next to Steve, Zso is in her crate next to the foot of the bed, Opal is with her, Nilla is at Steve's legs, and Benson is on the bed awaiting his therapy pressed tightly to my hip.


August 13, 2017

White Dog watched Trixie struggling. "Poor girl, her body is certainly not her friend today."

For sometime now Trix's mobility has been declining. The arthritis in her back end, coupled by muscle wasting from her cancer and meds cause her to wobble when she walks. She stands incredibly bowlegged. It seems the only time she is truly comfortable is lying on her side stretched out.

Our big, beautiful girl is on all kinds of support supplements and we just began a round of Adequan in the hopes of seeing some improvement, but as her vet said, "after a certain point all we can do is hope to slow down what is happening."

The past two days have been tough ones for Trixie; her long legs fail her when she first tries to stand and i can tell by the scrapes along her leg that she is falling outside. Steve found and dressed her in the helper harness we had for Quinn...it is a padded "jacket" that has a handle to grab on the back so we can help her rise and steady herself.

She seems to have short bursts of "good" mobility; enough to hear her in the bathroom drinking out of the toilet but not always long enough to return her to the kitchen where she can play innocent.

There has been no loss of appetite or cognition. She is the chowhound we know and love and is ornery when Steve tries to help...just like normal. And certainly she gives no sign that she is ready to leave the Army.

But this hopefully, temporary downturn, causes concern. She is a BIG girl. Not easily hoisted into the arms to be carried in and out. And she is heavy (55lbs) which makes lifting her to her feet difficult for this momma who is herself wobbly.

I look into that face and know somehow we will figure it out and Trixie seems to agree. White Dog, of course, is certain. "Come on, momma! Remember we are The White Dog Army. NEVER under-estimate us."

August 12, 2017

White Dog looked over and laughed. "A Dog and His Boy."


August 11, 2017

White Dog heard Pearl's sharp bark and then gentle whimpering; she left my side to check out what was happening.

She did not return right away but Pearl quieted down so I called to Steve who I thought was in the kitchen. "Any idea what was upsetting Pearl?"

He came to the door of the office, with a cloth and the window cleaner in his hand. "Yep. She is mad at me," he replied. "I have destroyed the snooter art that covered the Watching Window to the point that you could not even see out of it any more."
"Did you explain that now she has a clean 'slate' upon which to make new art?" He shook his head. "She says now what was there is gone forever...lost."

"White Dog is consoling her now by explaining the idea of organic art and its ephemeral nature and how THAT kind of art is truly very special because it is immediate and fleeting and becomes part of the viewer's soul and memories."

I called Pearl into the office. "Here you go, Maestra," I said as I handed her a cookie. "For your incredible efforts."

And suddenly all was fine.