Friday, January 26, 2024

A running dog forever


  Over the past couple years, I have thought about where to spread Charly’s ashes after she dies.  Now that we are in a house, the backyard presents as a viable option.  But what if we move?  I don’t know why, but I wouldn’t want her to be resting in a place where I could no longer visit.  At the moment, this matters to me.  So, I have kept thinking.

During the holiday break, our family went to a nearby track to run.  We brought Charly so that after my shorter distance I could take her for a walk.  There are stairs down to the track, so instead, Charly and I took a grassy woodsy path overlooking the runners.  My spouse and daughter continued to put some miles in.  Charly spotted them immediately – I didn’t realize her eyes were still that good!  Raised a runner, her heart told her to join in, but her body only allowed her to pace back and forth watching excitedly between two excellent vantage points.  With her tail wagging, she watched her family approach the near side, then when they were out of sight, she trekked about 50 metres up to the other spot to see them from afar.  She and I hurried back and forth between those two views at least eight or nine times.  It was the next best thing to running with her again – I didn’t realize how much I missed that!

 

One of the vantage points was underneath a large evergreen tree with grass and little daisies (the kind she likes to munch).  On the last lap, Charly laid down in the grass watching our runners stop and walk for a while.  And I knew that this spot is where she should be in any after life that she has…amongst the runners outdoors in a quiet place.  A place she helped me find.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Lumps and bumps - part two

 


Last spring, I noticed a small growth hidden in Charly’s fur.  It was in front her left ear above her cheekbone and measured three to four millimetres in diameter.  It looked a little different than her cysts – it had rough dark skin and resembled a mole.  I didn’t panic (yet).  The growth didn’t seem to bother her.  Then, a few days later, I thought it seemed bigger…was I imagining it?  And a day or two after that, it looked bigger again.  I was sureit had grown – the fur no longer hid it from sight.  I called the vet and scheduled an appointment.  The morning of the appointment, the growth was noticeably bigger from the night before – it was almost two centimetres in diameter and looked as if it could burst.  Charly was drooling.  I called the vet to let them know that she may need urgent surgery.  She did.  That growth was removed and tests revealed it had abnormal cells.

Charly’s was very sluggish post-op.  And, unlike all other recoveries from surgery, Charly’s appetite was slow to return.  The placement of the sutures made it uncomfortable for her to eat properly.  I fed her by hand for a couple days.  The size of the growth meant a large incision and cutting, and the skin on that side was “tucked”.  In spite of the loose skin on her face, her jowl on the left is higher than the right.  I suspect some nerves were damaged because for a couple months when she stared at me, only her right eye blinked normally.  The left eye closed when she slept, but it did not close in unison with the right eye.  Sometimes I would manually blink her left eye for her.  

 

Eventually Charly’s eating returned to normal, but now she is a very messy eater.  Her eyes are blinking together almost always.  My checks of her bumps and lumps occur very regularly.  And the feeling of anguish when I stare at her lopsided face is fleeting when I consider how lucky we are.


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Friday, January 12, 2024

Lumps and bumps – part one [Warning: Graphic description]

 


One morning many years ago, I went to deep-clean my daughter’s room while she was away at camp.  As I entered, I saw red smears on the walls…more in the hallway as I exited…and some sort of bloody hamburger-like substance in some smears and on the floor.  I called out to my spouse – was he injured?  No.  But Charly was.  A larger-than-we-thought cyst on her back between her shoulder blades had popped and the contents were still oozing.  At that time she was still napping under the bed, so it is possible a scrape precipitated the burst.

As Charly aged, she had developed lumps and bumps.  The vet tested samples from the first few.  All were negative for cancer or other disease.  They were fatty globules or cysts.  We had a large one removed early on.  But, they just kept developing over time to the point where now you can’t help but feel some when you pet Charly…some very tiny ones on the surface, others bigger and under the skin.  It would be almost impossible to remove them all, and now Charly recovers poorly and slowly from anaesthetic.

 

We took her to the vet for that burst cyst, and the remainder of it was removed as well as another prominent one on the side of her torso.  My daughter returned from camp to see Charly resembling Franken-dog…a large shaved square with black rough stitches on her side, and a smaller area on her upper back.  Charly recovered well and her fur grew back quickly.  This was the largest popped cyst we have experienced, but it wouldn’t be the last urgent surgery for aberrant growths.

 

Join OldDogBlog next week for part two of “Lumps and bumps”!

Friday, January 5, 2024

The fourth princess

When Charly’s personality began changing with age, she became very different in communicating with my spouse and me.  At times, she completely lost her manners.  My main concern was how she would now relate with my daughter.  Would she be aggressive or grouchy?  Would she bark, growl, or nip at her?  

 

Before I gave birth, I knew Charly loved kids…but what about my kid?  Charly was/is very attached to me.  I wanted to trust her with my new human treasure.  But, I didn’t.  So, at first, Charly was not allowed to touch the baby.  She could be close, she could sniff, she could be on the bed at my feet while the baby was on the bed, or on the ottoman while the baby was in my arms in the rocking chair…an easy kick away.  But here was nocontact.  Then, after about four months, a warm moment presented itself, and they touched.  Of course my daughter was over the moon.  So was Charly, but she also showed constraint.  She gently cleaned my daughter’s bare toes, feet and legs.  And, I let her.  I let her adopt that baby as her own.  

 

A couple years later, my toddler sat on the kitchen floor with Charly while I cooked and said, “Mumma, look!”  Soft sticky two-year-old fingers lifted her jowl and strummed her white fangs like an xylophone, and Charly did not bat an eye.  She allowed a pinkie finger to explore her nostril…resigned to the role of warm-blooded stuffed animal in that moment.  She cuddled in the play tent in which only princesses were allowed.  Charly has been mother, friend, fierce defender, and patient listener to early-reader-books.  For a couple years, my daughter called Charly her dog-sister when our friends were having second babies, but we were not.  They are reliably and unconditionally lovely to each other.  And in spite of my initial wariness about her changing personality, Charly remains loving and tender with my daughter.  Young dog or old dog, with our little girl, Charly has the manners of a princess.

Practically perfect…even at Hallowe’en

Let’s ponder OldDogBlogs “Practically perfect” from March 13, 2024 and “Brazen” from December 8, 2023.   Essentially, let’s just add them to...