Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nothing Is Happening Here

SUMMARY: Here we are. Yes. [Twiddles thumbs.]

There is a USDAA trial this weekend and it's within my limit of 2 hours from home, but we are not going. Part of my program to cut back on agility and reclaim my Real Life, which I can barely even remember preagility, it was so long ago. I am doing more hiking. I like it. I am doing crossword puzzle tourneys. Well--one, anyway. I liked it. I am even thinking about doing some yardwork this weekend. After all, I've been in this house 9 years this month and it's probably about time.

I will be home to celebrate my dad's birthday with the family. How weird is that, that I should be not at agility on a family celebration day?

Around me, the world is full of happiness and light, darkness and sorrow.

Just before the last trial, Knack the Border Collie, a really nice, fast Border Collie, who had been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma--same thing that killed Remington--crossed the rainbow bridge. Knack was not that old. Maybe Remington's age, but I think younger? (Rem was 9 and a half.)

Radar the Rodent Pointer, who was in our class many years ago, suddenly became really ill last week. He went to the vet and they discovered a huge hemangiosarcoma tumor on his spleen, which ruptured catastrophically while he was at the animal hospital. Just like that, Radar is gone. He was 12 and a half, but the day before, he was a healthy and active dog.

Last week, Tika's Nationals DAM team teammate from last year, Apache the Terv, had found himself a totally awesome team, because among other reasons I am not going to Nationals this year. His Human Dad didn't really want to go last year, but I twisted his arm and they went and had a great time and Apache did so well that if we had all done that well, we'd have been in the finals. This year he had a team to make that happen.

A few days ago, Apache suddenly became really ill. He went to the vet and they discovered a huge hemangiosarcoma tumor on his spleen, which had ruptured but not quite catastrophically but has metastasized into other organs. I visited him Wednesday night and his Human Dad and I talked a lot about everything related to losing dogs and getting dogs and life with dogs and disappointments and successes, and we ate ribs and I took a bag of freeze-dried liver treats and fed most of them to Apache.

They are not going to the Nationals. Apache is ten and a half and was still running great Masters USDAA agility at 26".

We are all hugging our dogs tighter and tighter every day. I cannot lie that it is a downer, especially because it so strongly brings back Remington's illness.

But, OK, all is not despair. Apache's and Tika's classmate, Luka, is off in Austria at the FCI World Championships, with two other very local dogs, the amazing Bay Team border collie Icon and the steady-under-fire sheltie Wave. And our instructor is the coach and it's very exciting to have so many people we know out there.

Tika and Boost are healthy and happy. They both ran well in class this week. They are running well in the yard, but we're still doing a lot of simple things just to have fun, mostly running from one tunnel to the next and over some jumps in between. Because we don't have another trial until, oh, say, NEXT weekend.

The lawn is growing in a spurt of autumn enthusiasm. The local fresh fruit at the grocery seems particularly wonderful right now--nectarines, pears, strawberries. Yum. Eating lots of it.

I am going now to hug my nonhuggy dogs again and go to bed with them alongside.

We are here, with not much to report about our own lives.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Very Sad News

SUMMARY: Focus, Geri Fernandez' world team dog, died today.

We just got notice from the world team coach that Focus dropped dead on the agility practice field this morning. They said that he went from alive to gone, in half a second, no sign of life.

Focus, last year's (?) national AKC champion, is one of only four dogs on the U.S. Large Dog World Team (through AKC). World championships start Sept 18.

Focus, an amazing Border Collie, was slightly older than Boost is now. I can't imagine Geri's heartbreak in so many ways.

This is the third Border Collie around here in the last year or so who is gone just like that. A younger dog, out for a hike and swim, dropped dead on the spot. Another friend's older border collie bounded out to the start line, staggered, and collapsed.

In the last case, they found a ruptured tumor on the spleen, likely hemangiosarcoma, same thing that took Remington (and so many other dogs I've mentioned, including Knack, another agility friend's border collie, just last week). I've heard so many stories about dogs with hemangiosarcoma literally dropping dead with no warning. But I don't know that we'll know what causes all of these sudden deaths.

I knew Geri and Focus only slightly, as they're from SoCal. They came up and practiced in our class just a couple of weeks ago. None-the-less, once again I'm gut-punched by another sudden loss.

Here's a video of their amazing collection of runs at the AKC nationals last year. [Sorry for the repost, those who already got this via email.]

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Tragic Loss

SUMMARY: R.I.P. Risk Scannell.

Our achievements and defeats over the last two days pale in comparison to this: That a friend's Border Collie went to the start line friday night eagerly playing tug as usual, basically took two steps and collapsed, and three hours later died at the emergency clinic. Necropsy showed a ruptured tumor on his spleen. The friend didn't say whether they specified the type of tumor, but the symptoms and manifestation are completely typical of hemangiosarcoma, which took my Remington.

They reminded us to hug our dogs and appreciate them, because you just never know what the next moment might hold.

I just sent a response--
I did hug my dogs several times today, thinking about Risk. I so carefully felt the textures of their coats under my hands and the weight and warmth of their bodies next to me. Tika wasn't thrilled about that and took the opportunity to squeeze loose and go run ferociously at a passing dog to ameliorate her the humiliation, reminding me that dogs bring things to our lives in so many ways, so often not what one might want or expect.

Risk was just 8 and a half, only four months older than Tika, and one Steeplechase away from his Gold ADCH (something that Tika will never achieve)--one which he might well have gotten today, as he has become a steady and reliable competitor. And he was a beautiful dog, too. I mourn his passing, but can only just imagine what his human family is going through.

I was lucky enough to have some photos of him from last July, when my dogs and theirs played in the field after a day of agility.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another Remington Story

SUMMARY: Remington's cancer info on the web finds a long-lost twin

I just got email from another person who lost her dog to hemangiosarcoma, but the twist on this story is that the dog could almost be Rem's long-lost sister. Seeing the photos were jarring--for both of us--but bring back warm if bittersweet memories anyway.

(The quality of my photos also reminds me that I know a lot more about scanning & editing photos for the web now than I did 4 years ago. Maybe someday I'll redo them-- or not--)

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Ghost of Hemangiosarcoma

Really, I'm going to bed any time now. Earlier today (noon PST, to be exact), I was going to post something, but got this message:

Go figure. We seem to be back now, whatever time they think it is.

So—hemangiosarcoma. That was Remington's fatality. I'm thinking about it again because my housemate asked me (in response to something I said) about missing Remington, and the tears just came, even three years later. Then earlier today I got another random email from my web site's info about hemangiosarcoma, someone else's dog diagnosed and agonizing over what to do. Then later today, my friend whose dog went through hemangiosarcoma at the same time that Remington did wrote to me, not about that, but it was already on my mind. Then this evening, another editor on Wikipedia it turns out lost a dog not long ago, very abruptly, to the killer ("What happened to Sophie Marie").

Anyway, I started thinking about all those dogs out there and all their owners in shock, despair, and grief. And out of all of this, one tiny thing for me, that with all of Remington's information posted on the web, I get email after email from people, like me, bursting with the agony of their own story, wanting to share it, wanting confirmation that they're doing the right thing, whatever that thing might be, and finding some small comfort in Remington's story or some small tidbit of information to help them come to a decision they're comfortable with, or finding another voice in the wilderness who has gone through the same thing that they're enduring or have endured. My thoughts go out to all of them, and although I don't intend to provide a depressing experience, I do want to share some of those people who have reached out to Remington in their times of need or contemplation:
  • Feb 25, 2003: Tess, agility dog, 10; sudden illness, tumor on heart, put to sleep the same day.

  • March 1, 2003: Black Lab, 9 1/2, tumor on spleen diagnosed 2 months ago, gradually getting worse and worse.

  • March 3, 2003: Sydney, breed not specified, tumor removed from elbow, wondering what to do next.

  • March 17, 2003: Maggie, 9; ill, just deciding to try chemo even though prognosis is poor. March 31, Maggie not tolerating chemo well, tumor as large as the heart itself, thinking the end is close.

  • April 7, 2003: Alex, sheltie, 12; sudden coughing fits, tumor on heart, decided not to treat and wait for the right time.

  • May 9, 2003: Cedar, 11, and Zack, 10, golden retrievers, one died last month after 4 months on chemo, one 6 years ago 2 weeks after diagnosis.

  • July 1, 2003: Stacy, cocker spaniel, 13; kidney removed with h. tumor; struggling with what to do next.

  • Sept. 20, 2003: Kai, Boykin spaniel, large tumor on spleen, waiting for surgery and final diagnosis.

  • Jan 15, 2004: Puppy, Lab mix, 8 yrs old, sudden drastic illness, ruptured spleen tumor, put to sleep the same day.

  • Feb 28, 2004: Jose, Bichon, 15; subcutaneous h. removed; waiting for further test results.

  • Jan 11, 2005: Chamois, Golden Retriever, 11; whole story very similar to Rem's and just lost him a month ago.

  • Jan 20, 2005: Sunshine, Golden Retriever, older than 9; just found huge tumor on heart, nearest vet 3 hours away; diagnosis not confirmed h. but indications all match, agonizing over what to do next. Feb 7, decided not to treat, dog passed away at home.

  • April 7, 2005: Spencer, German Shep/Dobie mix, just diagnosed; shocked and looking for information

  • June 7, 2005: Max, Labrador; diagnosed Friday after sudden seizures; put to sleep Monday after reading Rem's site and reassured that being with him at the end was the right thing.

  • June 19, 2005: Sadie Rottweiler/Akita mix, 12; mass on spleen, putting to sleep tomorrow.

  • June 19, 2005: Buddy, Terrier, 14; healthy one day and then sick the next; just had splenectomy but not doing chemo. July 27, seemed to have recovered fine, then suddenly very ill and just had him put to sleep.

  • Aug 9, 2005: Akira, 8, just diagnosed but no symptoms; have decided to let him live it out without surgery or chemo, looking for info that'll help determine when the time has come.

  • Aug 12, 2005: Eddy, female yellow lab, 9; just had splenectomy and starting chemo.

  • Dec 6, 2005: Dog had h. 2 years ago, did surgery & chemo & put to sleep then. After reading Rem's site, reassured that she had done the right thing.

  • Jan. 26, 2006: 10-yr-old, sudden illness, surgery which found tumor on kidney, agonizing over what to do.

All these dogs, so loved. And, as always, all I can think to say is that the fact that they were so loved speaks well of the lives they had. There are so many other dogs out there whose people don't care, or wouldn't notice--or who don't have people. How lucky they all were to live in a place where they were cared for and spoiled in their last days and given a peacful ending with ones they loved.

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