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, 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 d├ętente 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!