What a year! I don't think any of us wil look back fondly on 2020. This has been an especially bad week in a bad year.
On Saturday of last week I learned that Blogger and I can't coexist happily and today I'll be blog shopping for a new home for our continuing saga.
On Sunday last week we suddenly lost telephone, television and internet service and due to the helpful service provider we remained cut off for four days.
Then there was Norma Jean. On the 25th, a week ago Friday, she went for her second chest xray to see if her bronchitis was improving. She had only coughed a couple times during the week, so I was hopeful. The doctor called me in to take a look at the pictures side by side. There was definite improvement but her lungs still weren't completely clear. Dr B said she was responding to the prednisone and wanted her to contine with a low dose every other day. He also took some blood and sent it to the lab.
On Monday when I checked with him on the blood results I was told they weren't back yet. That seemed strange as they usually only take 24 hours but in 2020 nothing is unusual.
I called in on Tuesday and was told that the doctor would call me back. That gave me a nervous feeling. After he closed the clinic, he called so we could talk uninterupted. He told me that there were abnormal cells in the blood so it was checked out by two different pathologists. They couldn't come up with a clear diagnosis, but it appears that Norma Jean has lymphocytic leukemia.
Since she isn't showing any signs of feeling ill and she seems to be responding to steroids, we have started her on another course of doxycycline along with her prednisone. On Thursday she'll have another blood test to compare with the last one. If she is the same or shows improvement, we'll probably increase her prednisone. If she is worse, we'll have another long talk about options. I made it clear that due to her age we won't be taking any drastic measures. We won't do biopsies or chemotherapy. Our mission is to keep her happy and commmfortable until she lets us know it's time to say goodbye.
No, 2020 is not going down as one of my favorite years.
Last Friday Norma Jean started he meds for bronchitis. She responded almost immediately and she didn't cough all weekend. Then on Tuesday she woke up coughing. It continued thru the day and she had a very bad night, so I called Dr B first thing Wednesday morning. He said to bring her right in and leave her. He'd do a chest xray and set an appointment for the afternoon to pick her up and go over the results.
I paced all morning with thoughts of Monty running thru my head. Finally it was time to go get her. Dr B called me into the office to take a look at the xrays. He said there was good news and a little less good news.
The good news was that her lungs are clear. There are no tumors or masses and her heart looks great for her age. The bad new is something that looked like little threads running around outside her lungs. He says they are tiny little extensions of her airways that don't belong there. They can be caused by a couple of different conditions.
First is chronic bronchitis caused by seasonal allergies. The airways have become inflamed. The other is necrosis or scarring of the airways caused by age and inflammation. Neither of us want to do invasive testing on Norma Jean due to her age so we're going to treat her with a tapering dose of prednisone for one month. At the end of that time we'll do another xray and compare the two.
If there is improvement in the airways we'll assume that her condition is from her allergies and we'll treat seasonally. If the airways remain the same, we'll assume the condition is from necrosis. Dr B assured me that the condition is treatable and she can live comfortably with it. He also said that from the looks of her internal organs she may have a lot more life left.
So that's where we are. She's not coughing very much today but the prednisone is making her ravenous and she's begging both Rob and me for snacks. This may be a tough month living with a dog that's convinced she's starving.
Since many of us are still spending most of our time at home these days, how about spending some of it with a new book? I was sent an advanced copy of 'As The Stars Fall' by Steve N Lee. I read it over the weekend and I enjoyed it.
Have you ever thought about how our dogs look at us and the world around them and try to figure out what it all means? They must really wonder at some of the things they see us doing. Mr Lee has obviously given this a good deal of thought for this book. The whole book is written from the perspective of the dog, Kai.
Kai starts life as an abandoned puppy living on the city streets. He learns a lot about human behavior from just trying to survive. He's one of the lucky ones because he's rescued by a little girl and becomes part of a loving family/pack.
Kai's experiences will have you laughing and crying. I especially loved the part where he gets a Christmas present. He tears off the paper wrapping and tosses out the stuff inside and has a great time playing with his new box, even sleeping with it, until it finally disintegrates. It reminds me of my dogs enjoying the paper wrapping more than the gift.
But life doesn't always go the way we hope and that's true for both people and dogs. We all know how deeply a dog can love and this book shows us the deep, never ending love between Kai and his girl, Mia.
As The Stars Fall is being published today and is available at the following stores:
Language can be a real barrier to understanding. I once went on a date with a Frenchman. He spoke about two words of English and I spoke about two words of French. We wisely took a translator along with us to dinner. The Frenchman and I never went out again but the translator and I had a lovely relationship. Oh well, that's a story for another day. The purpose of this post is to discuss the language barrier between us and our dogs.
Having had dogs all my life, I think I do a pretty good job of understanding dog but my dogs have all been better at understanding my language. We sometimes even have to spell a word so that our sleeping pooches don't hear and get overly excited. I've found that the phrase "Do you want?" always gets their attention. They've learned that the phrase is usually followed by something good, such as treat, ride, to go out, etc.
Learning to understand each other is vitally important. The top reason that dogs are turned into shelters is house training problems. Most think the dog has a problem learning where to pee and how to communicate the fact that they need to pee. I think it's just the opposite. The human has a problem learning how to understand what the dog is saying to them.
Just as with humans, not all dogs speak the same dialect. We have to be adaptable and learn from them. My dog Libby told me she needed to go outside by bringing me her leash. That's pretty direct and understandable.
Bentley rang sleighbells hanging from the doorknob. It was easy to understand.
Monty was adorable. He had suffered terrible physical abuse before we
adopted him and he didn't like to bother anyone. He would touch me
gently with his paw and when he had my attention he would pull his lips
back in a silly sheepish grin. He was saying "excuse me, if it isn't
too much trouble I really need to go outside for a minute."
Morgan barked at me. She'd plop herself in front of me and bark. Unfortunately, this was her method of addressing any need she had, so when the barking started, we'd play a game of 20 questions. Do you have to go out? Do you want a drink of water? Do you want a cookie? Are you hungry? Did you lose your toy? Is someone in your bed? When I hit the right question the barking would stop and she'd wag her tail and get very excited. I'm sure she thought I was terribly stupid.
Tsar, in typical Tsar fashion would leave the room, then poke his head around the doorway as if to ask if I was ready yet. It was subtle.
Samba would put her face about six inches in front of me and stare deeply into my eyes. We would read each others thoughts.
Fudge was much less subtle. He'd hit me, either with his big fat paw or worse with his enormous heavy head. It was impossible to miss his meaning.
Tess would race back and forth between me and the door as fast as she
could go. Tess usually waited till the last possible minute to tell me
so if she started running, so did I.
Sky would pick up his ball and bring it to me. Fairly obvious.
Noah would go to the window and look out, then come and nudge me. Also fairly obvious.
Sebastian would come lick my hand, then put his head in my lap. He was such a gentle boy.
Mackey picks up her squeaky toy and stands at the top of the stairs squeaking.
Norma Jean dances. She gets in front of us and shifts her weight from one foot to the other and hops around. It's hard to miss.
They each have their own way of telling us what they need. The
question is, are we smart enough to understand what they're saying? How
do your dogs let you know when it's time to go out?
About ten days ago Norma Jean had a little cough. It sounded like a tickle in her throat and only happened a couple times a day. I took notice but didn't panic.
As the days went by the cough happened a little more frequently and sounded like she was trying to clear her throat. I started paying closer attention.
Then about three days ago the cough became persistent. It happened more frequently, lasted longer and seemed to bother her more. Time to panic!
My thoughts went back to the days when Monty had a little cough that grew worse. When we took him to the vet, a chest xray showed lung cancer and he died shortly after. I couldn't get that experience out of my mind whenever Norma Jean coughed.
I made a vet appointment for next Monday but yesterday morning Nora Jean was coughing constantly. I was worried about making it thru the weekend so I called and they saw us yesterday afternoon.
Norma Jean walked nicely into the building with her nurse. I settled down for a long wait but they reappeared pretty quickly. Dr B knew I was thinking about Monty and said the first thing he did was listen to her lungs. They sounded OK. She has no fever and she's eating and drinking normally. He listened to her cough and checked out her throat. Without a chest xray he can't be positive but he feels pretty strongly that she has bronchitis caused by her seasonal allergies. She's also been chewing on her front feet, another sign of her allergies.
He sent her home with an antibiotic, some Temiril-P which is an antihistamine steroid combo and some antihistamine foam for her feet. After her first dose she only coughed a couple times and didn't lick her feet at all. This morning she has coughed a little but is mostly sleeping quietly.
It looks like Dr B was right and we're on track to fixing this problem. If it doesn't work in the next few days, we'll do that chest xray. Keep your paws crossed that it's bronchitis and that it responds to the meds.