Why did I pick NOW to become a blogger?

A few days ago I was given a diagnosis that rocked my world. I'm a 10-year old Corgi living in Portland, Oregon. I am reasonably healthy, except for that abdominal surgery I had last summer. Ok - I don't know WHY I ate that piece of wire but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

In the middle of March, I was told by the folks at the Veterinary Cancer Referral Service that I have K9 lymphoma. I was gobsmacked! My mom immediately tried to find out everything she could and, while there were many sad stories, there really wasn't much else to go on. There are "support groups" but my mom's not much of a joiner when it comes to those things.

What we decided to do was chronicle this journey so that others can follow along. Those who have their own dogs fighting cancer - lymphoma and other forms. Those lucky enough to have a Corgi. Those just SO abysmally bored they have no better way to waste their time.

So we'll see how this works. Be well - The Barney Dog

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NEW DAY, NEW DOMICILE, NEW DOCTOR, NEW DRAMA


  This file was originally labeled “September blog.” What is it they say about the road to hell? It’s been months since I last blogged and do I have tales to tell!


  In early September of 2012, we spent 4 LONG days in a motorcar to be transported to some sort of alternate universe.  Oregon was very rainy much of the year, not unlike much of the UK.  Despite our proximity to downtown Portland, our homestead included rolling hills (ok – ONE rolling hill), an abundance of trees, vast acreage (ok – perhaps closer to 2 acres) and a variety of wildlife. Our enjoyable surroundings allowed us to frolic in what was an almost bucolic setting. That mountain lion scare last summer was a bit unnerving, especially since our Aunt Heidi was house sitting and slept out on the back deck with us the night before the reported sightings but I digress.

For Queen & country
Fred claims the hot tub
  Here, I now have 2 types of water in my very own backyard. There is crystal clear, clean water in a very large bowl (big enough to swim in and it even has a waterfall) and another murkier large puddle further down the hill with different sorts of animals swimming in it. I discovered this body of water had not been claimed or named so I very quickly claimed it for Queen and country and named it “Lake Barney.” Fred, of course, took umbrage at this and claimed the smaller, circular body of clean water and named it (after his expected spelling challenge) after himself as well. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

NOT my fault
  Toward the beginning of the summer, after very little discussion and with absolutely no input from any of the four-legged or feathered members of this happy family, it was decided that we relocate to a place called Florida. Our home for the past seven years was sold, admittedly at a very good price, and the long, arduous process of moving one’s homestead began. Some tears were shed as we all recalled holidays and celebrations with so many friends, birthdays and quite moments in front of the fireplace. Belongings were carefully packed away as my mom kept muttering to herself, “no state income tax…no state income tax…” Unfortunately, we all discovered much too late that Fred had been having a clandestine, under-the-bed relationship with many a missing Sharpie. 
 
  For reasons that still remain a mystery, it was decided that all four canines would drive cross-country in the Range Rover dubbed Sir Nigel. Douglas Macaw-thur, the only member of our family born with the ability TO fly, would get there by plane. Go figure! My dreams of stopping in Aspen for a quick hike and seeing the world’s largest ball of twine in Darwin, Minnesota, were dashed when dad announced we would be making the trip in four days. It was a rather ambitious goal but 3,068 miles seemed more than doable to dad. He's very good at goal-setting and is purely data driven. And up until the moment my mom was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her foot, all seemed on schedule. 
 
  At the outset of our adventure, my mom drugged my siblings with benadryl and or my old acepromazine pills to make them fall asleep on the first day of our cross-country trek. She might have actually taken something stronger herself. I'm not sure. It was uneventful save for Nigel’s cooling system that kept reporting its concerns via the dashboard console. (We dumped the “Sir” as it was deemed an undeserved title at this point.) “A minor issue,” our dad assured one and all as we tucked in for the night at the lovely yet affordable La Quinta Inn in the garden spot of Layton, Utah. 

Mountainous Utah
  On the second day, we abandoned the Nigel in a place called Cheyenne, WY, at the airport because he kept misbehaving. Nigel’s cooling system had deteriorated to the point where we were forced to stop every 200 miles and dump two gallons of water in. This didn’t necessarily sound life threatening until my mom announced the coolant reservoir only held four gallons. We then found ourselves in a luxurious rental SUV for the remainder of the trip. Throughout the day, we all marveled at the huge open spaces. The miles and miles of nothing but the occasional fence, a rumbling train, and gas stations with an array delectable gourmet offerings including boiled peanuts and Slim Jims. 
 
We COULD have moved here
 My mom later confessed to me that, due to the obsessive almost maniacal drive to stick to the schedule, she had often thought, whilst looking out at the tens of thousands of acres of land, what if? What if she just hit dad over the head with a blunt object and dragged his body just out beyond the range where passing vehicles would see it? Perhaps the majestic hawks and eagles soaring in lazy circles overhead would destroy any possibility of ID’ing the carrion and she would never be blamed…but I digress. 

  The third day, my dad thought it was a good idea to order sushi from a Chinese restaurant in Nashville as we checked in for a miserably rainy night at yet another La Quinta. (A word to the wise: if you find that you are forced to stay at a La Quinta in Nashville, DO NOT pick the one close to the airport. Descriptives such as “a pit,” “a dump,” “a hellhole” were all thrown about interchangeably. You can see from the looks on our faces, we were all a tad road weary. I personally have no complaints. Yuki and I got to sleep on mom’s bed. I believe Tomo and Fred were still under the influence of controlled substances.) Fortunately for one and all of us, the sushi from a land locked state was not an issue.
     
 And the last day, we arrived at the strange, new world. Four days, 3,068 miles. My mom said it reminded her of a movie she once saw.  
 

Quite dashing, I'd say
  I have met my new oncologist, Dr. Kari Miller. She’s tall and thin. One might say statuesque. Sometimes, my mom mentions wanting to tie her down and force feed her. Dr. Miller is at the Veterinary Healthcare Associates in Winter Haven. It is a bit of a drive to get there; almost ninety minutes if traffic cooperates. The good thing, however, is that good friends of my mom’s LIVE there! Uncle Bill and Aunt Norma. Aunt Norma has a VAST collection of extraordinary textiles. My mom drops me off for my chemo sessions and she goes to visit with Bill and Norma. I believe they are working on some sort of a museum exhibit. I’m not sure but my mom seems very excited about the possibilities. I spent some time with them on one of my trips but it was a rather warm day and I didn’t feel much like running around in the large lot they provided exclusively for me. The heat and humidity did wreak havoc on our coats so my dad made spa appointments for Fred and I. We received a blueberry facial and I have yet to understand what precisely that did.



Where's hair & make-up?
  I am now on a substitute drug for doxorubicin. It’s called mitoxantrone.  Doxorubicin does more harm than good to one's heart after a while so they switched me over. Mitoxantrone is often called a “rescue” drug because it is used as a last resort so to switch me over now is a bit of a gamble but IF the lymphoma returns, I can still have a few more doses of doxo. It’s a challenging roll of the dice, this cancer stuff. My mom often worries if she’s doing the right thing. If she’s doing it for me or for her. Her good friend, Karen, recently said goodbye to her lovely companion, Troi. Karen said it was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. For me? Right now I’m feeling well. One might say feisty from time to time. My mom often quips that I should at least ACT sick so she can justify the funds she is contributing to my medical care. I cooperate by sleeping in, moving slowly when called, occasionally barely lifting my head when dinner is served. But frankly, it’s all an act. “Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." 

  While my mom managed to avoid the usual histrionics associated with presidential elections on this round, she is rather concerned about the inability of our new home state to accurately count the numbers of votes cast. This seems a rather elementary undertaking but it has apparently made our new home state a punch line for late night TV and the brunt of international ridicule. I'd venture a bet the the elections officials simply ran out of fingers and toes. It’s moot at this point so I believe they have just stopped counting. Brilliant! It’s just a useless vote; why bother counting it? Regardless, I am helping my mom unpack and we are trying to get things back in order. I, obviously, get the lower book shelves.
Douggie's paradise found
  The grass here leaves much to be desired. It is called St. Augustine grass and it is rather wiry and stiff. Tomo absolutely refuses to walk on it at all.  There are two small concrete steps leading on to the lawn and Tomo refuses to move from the steps. I suppose she’ll get used to it eventually but it’s difficult for someone her age. Douggie, on the other hand, seems to have adjusted quite nicely. She enjoys spending time out on the patio in the HUGE screened-in enclosure. It's almost as if she's finally found her home. We have a fence now that is supposed to keep the alligators at bay along with the black bears which, we have been told, are vegetarians. I’m not sure what that means. Someone also told my mom that the fence will keep armadillos out as well. It appears we are living in a zoo.

  Keep calm and Corgi on!  Til next time! 


 






Tuesday, August 21, 2012

CHEMO REVISITED WITH OLYMPIC MERRIMENT & MOVING ADVENTURES


  While many may whine that the Olympics are quite overblown and an essentially boring parade of spoiled and coddled children, I must confess I was champing at the bit due to the fact that the summer Olympics were held in London. I may be Welsh but when it comes to these things, there is still a bit of national pride when it comes to the UK. My excitement was rewarded with the introduction of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth. 
  It was quite exciting to see some of my Corgi relatives at the palace and to watch HRH the Queen actually jump out of a helicopter. I dare say it was THE BEST PART of the opening ceremonies.  My mom thought that 007 gentleman was relatively easy on the eyes, too, but frankly I don’t see it. I must say, HRH the Queen can be quite the cheeky old broad. I mean no disrespect and I can say this because, in a way, we ARE related, you see.
Air vents rule
  It has been a tad on the warm side here at home in Oregon. It hit over 37 degrees Celsius on a few days (over 100 for you Yanks).  When we lived in Arizona, 100 degrees was very common but in Arizona, Snottsdale to be specific, everyone has air conditioning. This is not the case in Oregon. Warnings were repeatedly given so that people would NOT leave their dogs in an automobile for even the briefest moment. It proves to be a deadly mistake more than one might imagine. Some of my chemotherapy drugs have a tendency to make me pant. Not particularly attractive, I know, but it can’t be helped. My mom was very concerned and asked Dr. Freeman about it. Dr. Freeman calmed her fears and I simply spent every waking (and sleeping) moment on the air conditioning vents.  It’s quite refreshing actually. I recommend it for all my readers.  Note the patchwork shaved legs with dark splotchy markings. This is a quite common reaction to the chemo treatments. Some may find it appalling but I have been approached by several old school punk rock bands to go on tour with them as the only punk Corgi known to man. They are attractive offers and I do have an agent working on them as we...type.
Bolting for the door
  Truth be told, I was rather apprehensive on this second go around at chemo. Last year, I found all the people at the Veterinary CancerReferral Center and Dove Lewis to be a lovely lot. They are still quite lovely but I must admit to making a run for the door on my early visit. I know what to expect on these weekly treks and I know these sessions are the only reason I am here today to update my faithful followers. Vincristine, cytoxan, adriamycin, flagyl, prednisone and I have reached a détente.  I won’t run again, I promise. They will keep me alive.  In addition, my mom fills me with fish oil, Chinese mushroom extracts, something called Onco Support, ground turkey and rice (from time to time) and probiotics. I’m not sure which of these are actually working, if any, but since I prefer to stick around a bit longer, I’ll not complain and the ground turkey concoction isn't all that bad. 
Riley - livin' LARGE
  I did meet a rather large fellow patient last week. His name is Ripley. He is a Blockhead Mastiff (some call them Bull Mastiffs) and he is only 4-years old. His head seriously resembles an overinflated basketball and, this might be a slight exaggeration, but he IS the size of a Volkswagon. I honestly think he probably weighs more than his tiny owner.  He was impressively well behaved. He didn’t even flinch when I lunged at him. (I just have to do that sometimes.) My mom said he probably poops bigger than I am and I should have minded my manners. DO please keep Ripley in your thoughts, however, as the chemo doesn’t seem to be working for him as it does for me.
The other Yuki in the White House
  I would be remiss if I did not include this little historical tidbit in today’s blog. My life here would also become unbearable due to Yuki’s constant - and I mean CONSTANT - prodding.  Apparently, there was a rather important gentleman named LBJ who also had a dog named Yuki. The other Yuki was also a rescue, found at a gas station. The other Yuki befriended world leaders, diplomats, and many other VIP’s. Our Yuki thinks she can do the same. “It’s good to have goals,” I tell her. I don’t think I’m giving her false hope or encouraging her to dream too big. You never know. My mom has met and worked for a few of those types and they may come to visit unexpectedly. You never know.
video
  Preparations are well underway for our upcoming move to a state called Florida on the first of September. It is allegedly very warm and humid and we will be surrounded by something called alligators. I know my mom wears Crocs regularly but I think this may be different.
  There is a lot of “measuring” going on. I’m not exactly sure what this means but when they mention it, this annoying yellow snake shows up. As the defender of our domain, I must attack.  I know this snake to be very dangerous because my moms keeps warning me that it will slice my tongue if I don’t get away!
  Everyone had to undergo heart worm tests and we will be taking another medication because there is something called mosquitoes where we are going. I’m not quite sure why but my mom wanted to see how one of our kennels would fit on the roof of the truck. I certainly hope she doesn’t expect to transport one of us up there! No one – and I mean NO ONE – with any heart would ever strap a dog they loved to the roof of a moving vehicle. At least I don’t think so.
Your Corgi on benedryl
  So we hit the road again on September 1st. I’ve heard it is the start of the Labor Day weekend and most of the rest of the country will also be on the road that day. My mom keeps explaining to people that she didn’t do the “logistics” on this trip; that my dad is “helping.” I’m not sure what that means but I DO know he asked the veterinarian about doggie xanax for us. The veterinarian suggested something called benedryl first and it seems to work very well on Fred and Yuki. I think she may be planning to keep the xanax to herself.

video

  To prepare for our cross-country trek, I am once again trying to train Yuki to understand how a leash is to be utilized and respected. If she doesn't pay a whit of attention to me, I can't imagine that she'd succumb to the respectful requests of my mom. What she doesn't seem to grasp is the simple notion that once on a leash, you are tethered and common sense dictates a certain decorum. It is a matter of mutual respect. But don't mind me. The Queen of Soul can explain it much more eloquently than I. 

So be well. Keep calm and Corgi on!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

OUT OF REMISSION, BACK INTO THE FRAY!


 Bless me readers, for I have been remiss…again. It has been a month and a half since my last blog post. Normally one might think of the old adage “no news is good news.” That isn’t the case with me. Well, not completely.
Canine lymph node diagram
  On Friday, June 29, my mom found an “abnormal” lymph node. It’s amazing that she found it; it was hardly enlarged. My mom gropes me every morning. She pretends she’s just petting me or giving me a massage but she lingers with her fingers around all my lymph nodes. For the uninitiated, here is a handy diagram to help you find your canine’s lymph nodes. (Excuse the inferior breed pictured but I couldn’t find a diagram featuring a Corgi.) 
 Dr. Freeman at the Veterinary Cancer Referral Center was rather impressed that my mom found it at all. My dad said he couldn’t feel anything and that it was probably just part of my jaw. He was obviously in denial.
 As fate would have it, that Friday was the day before my parents were going to a place called Mexico to go scuba diving again. I’m not sure what that is, precisely, but they do it rather frequently. My mom and I immediately went over to see Dr. Freeman and she confirmed what we most feared: after 14 months, I am out of remission. I started chemotherapy again that same day; the Wisconsin Protocol again. 
 With my parents out of the country, my Aunt Heidi was kind enough to take care of us.  Aunt Heidi always gives us treats.  “Good” treats, healthy treats. She also doesn’t seem to mind following me around with gloves and the pooper scooper since handling “chemotherapy waste” is quite the challenge.  Should my siblings step in my doggie diamonds and then lick their paws (as we all do), it could make them very ill. Heidi was extraordinarily diligent. One might say obsessed.
 Heidi also brought me back to Dr. Freeman the following Friday since my parents were still away. We are certainly very lucky indeed to have someone as caring as Aunt Heidi to watch over us. I was panting for a few days, due in some small measure to the prednisone but more likely due to the higher temperatures.
 While my lymph nodes are back to a “normal” size, we have yet to hear the magic word “remission.”  We are keeping our digits crossed, however, and I am getting the occasional ground turkey with rice dinners. Scrumptious!
Godspeed, Ollie.
RIP dear Draco aka Chewbacca.
 My return to Dove Lewis was not without heartache, however. I learned that Lucy, another Corgi patient, never went into remission and is no longer with us. Her dad must be awfully sad. And Ollie, the pit bull/Basset mix I blogged about months ago, is also gone. And Draco...Fair winds and following seas to you. Good canines, one and all! 
 I did make a new friend, though, Archie. He is a 10 1/2 year old Golden Retriever also going through his second round of chemo. Archie’s dad was very affectionate with me and shared a word of encouragement with my mom. Chemo parents tend to do that when dropping us off for our weekly appointments. It seems to calm them somewhat. And we get treats.
 In the mean time, we will soon be moving to a place called Florida. I suppose that could be considered good news. Heidi immediately put my mom on notice that she will be “suing for custody” (I believe that’s what she said) because she doesn’t want us to go.
 My parents went to Florida to find a house last week and Heidi came to stay with us again. She let us all sleep out on the deck one night with her. She’s always letting us do fun things. And her husband, Mikal, came for a long visit, too. They are quite wonderful people, if I do say so and I will miss them terribly.
Evil triumphs when good dogs do nothing.
  As a family, Yuki, Tomo, Fred and I were also swept up in an unfortunate political cause last month. Once again, the Irish behaved rather badly when they decided to murder a pit bull mix purely because of his breed This poor lad did absolutely nothing wrong yet the Belfast City Council deemed him dangerous because of the way he looked.  Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson said, "Destroying a dog that had no history of aggression is folly and shames society.”  We agreed.  What they did was unspeakably cruel and unforgivable. Thousands of people protested and many offered to re-home Lennox to no avail. 
  Unfortunately, many cities in the United States also have bans and something called legislation that allows people to kill certain dogs seemingly because of a whim, a wild hair. It is called Breed Specific Legislation and makes no sense at all. It is pure rubbish and we had to take a stand!
 So we will be leaving Oregon soon. By the end of next month, I believe. I am looking at it as an opportunity to reinvent myself. I could start training to be a reindeer or start an events’ promotion company to celebrate holidays in style. My mom is frantically looking for a veterinary oncologist down there as good as Dr. Freeman. That might be a tough call because she is quite caring and is very good at what she does.  I’m sure these details will all be worked out in due time.
  I'll be watching the Olympics as much of the rest of the world will and I’ll post my keenly observant commentary in a more timely fashion. I understand that one of the Presidential candidates has a relative in the Olympics. They must be beaming with pride. I wonder what sport it is? Can’t wait to see!
  Til next time, be well. Keep calm and carry on!


 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A DIAMOND JUBILEE FOR THE AGES…AND OTHER MORE RELEVANT UPDATES


 Leave it to the British to confuse people for no reason. Normally, a “diamond jubilee” is a celebration to mark a 75th anniversary. Except for monarchs, then a “diamond jubilee” is only the 60th anniversary. Why? Because they’re the British and they CAN do it. It would be as if Americans decided football is actually a sport played with helmets and all sorts of unnecessary padding. Ok. Bad analogy. As a Welshman, I often find these Brit idiosyncrasies maddening and even if her royal highness loves Welsh Corgis, I cannot in all honesty understand such confusing contradictions. That said, celebrations were held all over England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland earlier this month. 
Dorgis I say! WHY?
 One disturbing thing I learned about the queen – she had her Corgis bred with dachsunds and called the little mutants “Dorgis.” Why would one intentionally do this? It most certainly would alter our sleek, regal lines and diminish our mental capacity along with potentially impairing our superior herding skills. One needs but to look at Yuki and wonder where the Corgi went, with her square, block head and those ears that don’t know how to stand. How on earth could this be a good idea? Disturbing is all I have to say. 

 So if you must know, I am doing fine. I was limping a bit so my Mom IMMEDIATELY made an appointment with Dr. Freeman at the Cancer Referral Center. I suppose she was worried. After all, two of her friends bid farewell to their furried friends thanks to K9 cancers. Doodlebug Duds’ model/muse extraordinaire, Lukas, is no longer in pain.  
Bailey - we'll miss you.
 And my Mom’s high school friend “lost” his beloved friend, Bailey. (“Lost” is just such a silly description more apt to be used when referencing a sock, keys for the flat or cheater glasses. Certainly NOT one of us.)  Matt very poignantly wrote: “I remember how you fought long and hard through bitter winter, I am sad that you were old and sick. Just a common dog some would say, but I know only how fine and loyal you have been. Just an animal maybe, but to me a noble spirit worthy of this song of grief I now sing. You go on to greener pastures... we all die too soon.” While Bailey and I never had the pleasure of meeting, he seemed a loyal friend and a good companion. A rather natty chap, quite handsome in a chapeau and scarf. 
video 
 But I digress. Back to my limp. I have come to discover that playing with the youngster can have its drawbacks. After all, I celebrated my 11th birthday last month. We have developed a new romp-around-the-paddock protocol, one that forces Yuki to run AWAY from us older folk, instead of chasing us but it DOES have its drawbacks. I am trying to teach this young pup to heel but the concept hasn’t quite sunk in. A pulled muscle here. A bit of heavy breathing there. Don’t be critical! What do you suspect you could do at the age of 77? A marathon? Do an Ironman?
  I have also been trying my paw at pilates. Unfortunately, they don’t make reformers in Corgi size and this one is just TOO long to do me any good. The sled is nicely padded, however, and I’ll figure out what limited exercises I can do any day now.  
  And Yuki! What we do without a monthly visit to Dove Lewis? This time (again) it was Yuki. She managed to chew apart and ingest a piece of a rubber toy that was just the perfect size and shape to get stuck in her small intestine. Very cork-like in dimensions, substance and purpose. I suppose I should hold my tongue. My Mom just reminded me that I actually managed to eat a piece of wire that went through my stomach wall and irritated my spleen. Eating wire seemed like a good idea at the time. But, when faced with another rather stunning veterinary emergency bill, my parents seemed assuaged by the fact that these unfortunate incidents could be compared to paying for college educations and since they had no two-legged children, they could expend their limited funds on our medical maladies; not ivy league educations after their wayward offspring graduate and decide they need to “find themselves” and wander off to live in a ashram in Kansas City. It’s a somewhat convoluted rationale but it works swimmingly for us. Yuki didn’t really need the cone of shame but I couldn’t help but notice how much Yuki resembled a petunia while wearing one and wanted to share.
 So enjoy the start of your summer vacations. June 20th is the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s also the longest day of the year. I’m hoping some semblance of summer will arrive and stick around in Oregon soon. It rained yet again today. The herb garden is getting there. The irises, peonies and tulips were stunning but are now brown, mere wilted memories of the beauty they once held. Oh, I’m waxing all T.S. Eliot now so off I must go to watch the telly. I don’t think Dogs In The City is on this evening but it is fast becoming my favorite after Hell’s Kitchen. We look like ANGELS compared to those recalcitrant, spoiled mutts! 
 It has come to my attention that these two BRILLIANT videos are not able to be viewed on some "smart" phones and iPads. I sincerely apologize. If any of my faithful followers know how to rectify this inexplicable injustice, kindly email me at thebarneydog@gmail.com.

For those who CAN view the video below - Sing us out, now! Come now! You can do it! 
video







Saturday, March 24, 2012

April is NOT the cruelest month. March is.

  The first quarter of this year has certainly flown by in a flash. I used to count my days measured in pills and needles, meals kept down, and healthy bowel movements. The weekly trek to have my legs shaved and pricked DID get me a solo ride in the car but sometimes made me sluggish. Now? All is good. Days stretch into weeks and into months. All is good.
 
  A few days ago, I marked a rather nasty anniversary: March 13. The day I was diagnosed with lymphoma. Two days later, I started my chemotherapy journey. SO much else has changed in this short year. Where to start?

THIS is what you do in bed!
  My dad stopped flying to California every week (THAT was disruptive!). My mom introduced our newest sibling into the mix (even MORE disruptive).  We’ve reached a détente of sorts, though Yuki still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of what being “on the bed” means. To those of us in the know, it means get up there, lie down, be quiet and stay cool. To Yuki, it’s more of a “WOW! LOOK! I’m on the BED! WOOOOWWW! LOOK! LOOK! Can’t we PLAY? Fix the blanket. Fix the blanket. Fix the blanket…Oh! What's THIS...” She's worse than that "I smell bacon" dog. Mom and I have been getting wind burns with her tail going into hyper-drive. We’re all hopeful she’ll pick it up sooner rather than later.


   I DID have a nasty little scare last December.  It was a bump on my chest. We IMMEDIATELY went to Dr. Freeman at the Veterinary Cancer Referral Center. Mom and Dad sat impatiently while they did a fine needle aspirate. Again. That was how Dr. Freeman originally diagnosed the lymphoma so they weren’t really looking forward to the results. Personally, I was having a great time roaming the back hallways. I hadn’t been back to Dove Lewis in a while. I missed my friends so it was nice visiting with them. Oh? The little bump? A lipoma. Not lymphoma, though “lymphoma” is what my mom heard and her heart skipped a beat. Turns out my mom has a lipoma, too, and it’s not that big a deal. Hers is on her shoulder. Probably a result of those decades of that brief case strap. 

 
  I also managed to mangle a nail. Ordinarily, that’s also no big deal but Corgi’s nails DO have to be trimmed more than regularly. Mine especially. Fred’s nails also grow at a ridiculous rate. When you start to hear them clicking on the hard wood floors, we know we’ll be herded into the car for the groomer. The nice young lady who does our nails at Muttley Crew lives with a Corgi. She said that my nails are a tad brittle; possibly a result of the chemo. One of the back ones split in half. It was bleeding and it didn’t hurt all that much but, if I understand this correctly, once damaged in that way, it could potentially become infected. All that mucking around in the back yard, you see.  So off we went to see what needed to be done. Simple enough; some anti-bacterial cream and an unfortunately unattractive boot on my foot for a few days and I was good as new! 
Fred celebrates in style!
  Fred also managed to cause a bit of a scare and we’re still not quite sure of precisely what it WAS but it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. He had…gastrointestinal issues. Bluntly – bloody stool. More blood than stool, bloody fool. Nigel, the Range Rover, could probably find his own way to the vet on autopilot since we’ve been there SO many times in the past year. Between Yuki and her ibuprophen episode (a potentially lethal drug to us) and Fred and his “issue,” I thought I heard my parents talking about refinancing the house to pay for our medical bills. I know health care is becoming more of a problem in this country, especially as baby boomers continue to age. They keep talking about it on CNN. Oh - and then last week I had a tapeworm event. Who KNOWS where I picked them up but they’re also merrily on their way now. And Fred bounced back in time to celebrate St. Pat’s Day in his usual way: donning headgear. Fred LOVES headgear.
The Regal Tomodachi
   The only one of us who never seems to have any issues is our older sibling, Tomodachi. She’s 11 years old. Tomo was a rescue from “the pound” in Phoenix. Some inexcusably cruel people left her in their apartment when they moved out. Just abandoned her! Poor Tomo, then named Star (a ridiculous name if you ask me) barked for three days and finally the landlord showed up after neighbors complained. And there was Star in a locked apartment with a few dead plants. She was still a puppy and she wasn’t even tall enough to drink out of the toilet so she had had no water at all. 
 Legend has it that right after Star was brought in to the pound and given the flea bath dip, she sat shaking and very afraid, dripping in chemicals in a strange place with strange animals and strange smells and strange noises all around. My mom saw her and announced: “That’s our dog.” I guess my dad, who was looking for a yellow lab, really didn’t have much say in the matter.  They decided her name was to be Tomodachi, which means “friend” in Japanese because she really needed a friend. It took her a while to understand that no one was ever going to hurt her again. She cringed and hid behind and under things whenever she could. Supposedly, canine socialization occurs in the first 6 months of our lives. If we’re not socialized properly, there MAY be problems. So if Tomo was beaten and abused for the first 6 months of her life (all evidence pointed in that direction), she had to UNlearn all that she had been subjected to during those critical socialization phase and RElearn that people were okay.  She can be pretty stubborn at times but all in all, I think she turned out just dandy.
Yuki waiting for Doug to play!
  Yuki? Well, Yuki is still trying to be a puppy. She was also subjected to some rather abusive treatment in her formative months. She was tethered to a tree with a chain that weighed more than she did. No food or water from what her second rescuer could tell. I will never understand why people choose to acquire a dog and then treat it …well…like an object instead of a living, intelligent, sentient being. Perhaps, with some breeds, the “intelligent” descriptive might not be entirely accurate but we still deserve a modicum of respect. Yuki thinks she will eventually convince Douglas Macaw-thur to play with her. What she has yet to discover is that Douggie can slice her nose off without warning. I fear another trip to the doctor in the near future.
  Here in the Pacific Northwest, March came in like a lion and appears to be going out like a particularly badly behaved porcine relative. It is still unseasonably cold and bouts of snow do come and go. To those not familiar with Portland’s response to a scintilla of frozen precipitation: shut all schools down.  The wet, heavy snow forces our backyard bamboo garden into a series of tunnels. There are what my mom calls “tummy towels” at every door. Because of our shorter stature, our undercarriage does get wet as we romp around the paddock and the towels tend to this temporary inconvenience. But on days like these, it’s better to curl up on the couch and catch up on one’s reading. Yuki has YET to get through "Inside A Dog." She's a slow reader.
  We anticipate a bright, sunny spring, followed by a brighter, sunnier summer. My dad is contemplating going back to work, whatever that means. It’s what he likes to do, apparently. My mom thinks that for most men, their job is their life. For most women, their job gets in the way of what they want to do with their life. I wouldn’t know. My job is to run the fence perimeter everyday, ensuring a secure border. My job is to make sure that the animals I see on the TV don’t get loose in our house. (Animal Planet shows are especially disconcerting.) My job is to make people smile because that’s what Corgi’s seem to do best. So have a smile on us today! We’ll chat again soon!