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


  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!