Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update on Hamlet

I'm here at work and just wanted to post an update to let you all know that I heard from Dr. Taylor a little while ago that Hamlet did very well during his procedure today!  He didn't have to be put under anesthesia, but instead a local-anesthetic was used to put in two drains.  Hamlet is resting comfortably and I can pick him up on my way home this evening.  The drains will remain in place for about 5 days and were 'tacked in' to help them stay in place.  I'm hopeful we are going to be taking 'this exit' and remain on the road to recovery with no more detours!

Many thanks for your continued good thoughts,  prayers and for cheering Hamlet on!  I remain humbled and grateful to all of you for your friendship and concern. 

I hope you're having an enjoyable day!  It's rainy and a little chilly in Virginia today, but somehow it feels like the sun is shining. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not Yet Over the Hurdles

I wasn't going to post anything today because I'm starting to feel like a broken record, and I know that some of you are no doubt tired of hearing about Hamlet.  I really do apologize for that.  But he's consuming my life right now, and I so hope you understand.  

I am really encouraged by how Hamlet is doing overall.  He has a great appetite, he's up and around some, and I think that he's generally feeling pretty good.  There are even a few tail-wags.  The area where the surgery is of course very tender and bruised.  

The only thing is, is that the drain that was put in came out this morning.  I took him to the vet to have them take a look.  My vets feels that it needs to be put back in because he has some fluid around his elbow.  This means another surgery to which I reluctantly agreed.  My vet doesn't work on Tuesday so another vet that I don't particularly like will be doing the procedure--How I feel about 'Dr. Taylor' has nothing to do with his capability, we just don't click.  That aside, my biggest hope is that the swelling will have gone down by morning and he won't need to have the drain put back in.  And if he has to have surgery again, it'll be quick and easy and Hamlet won't have any more hurdles to get over.  

I hope you'll keep those prayers, positive thoughts, good karma, and anything else that you can think of coming for Hamlet.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good Signs

As I was getting dinner ready for the dogs in the kitchen, Hamlet appeared.  I guess he didn't want his dinner in bed after all--He stood and ate all of his dinner of chicken, rice and a little bit of kibble--A good sign!  You can also see that he's also putting weight on the front leg, which is a good sign that he hasn't lost use of it. I am hopeful we are headed in the right direction. 
**By his elbow what you see sticking out is a drain that will be in for a few days.

No Place Like Home for Hamlet

This morning I picked up a very woozy and drugged-up Hamlet.  Right now he's not really able to stand on his own, and I'm hoping this will pass in a day or so.  Until then, it's lots of rest and medication.  I'm glad that its worked out that I'm off of work on Monday and will be able to stay home with him.  The past 4 days have been really busy, and I look forward to having a day to relax, read blogs and take care of 'the patient.' 

Many thanks for your continued prayers, good karma and healing energy you're sending Hamlet's way!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hamlet Clears One Hurdle

Once again I'd like to thank-you for your remembering Hamlet today and keeping him in your thoughts and prayers. I heard from the surgeon a little while ago that Hamlet has come through the surgery and was resting. He said it went as well as could be expected, and he had removed as much of the infected tissue and tumor as he could. Hamlet still has a few hurdles to get over, but I'm hopeful that we have cleared the biggest one with the surgery. I'm to call in the morning because he may be able to come home. 

As I mentioned earlier today, I met a friend for lunch whose dog was also having surgery. (Bella did just fine too!)  We met at a place in Purcellville called "Magnolias at the Mill."  The mill was built in 1905. It served in the production of pasture seed for the Contee Adam Seed Company, and was operated by the same family for three generations. In the middle of the last century, Loudoun County Dairy Business was booming and the mill filled the need for grass seed. During the second World War, much of the Virginia Orchard Grass seed produced here was shipped to Europe as packing for artillery shells and armaments. 'Magnolias' was also a flour mill in the 1940s.  It's a lovely place that still retains the original woodwork and equipment for the decor.  Lunch was delicious (a roasted pumpkin bisque to warm me up and flank-steak caesar salad) and the company of a good friend was enjoyable too.      

Afterwards I stopped by "Southern States" and once again admired the chicken houses...I still think I need chickens.  But I think (or rather I know) I need to get Hamlet home and back on his feet first. 

THANK YOU all again for your kindness, support and your friendship; it has provided so much comfort!   I hope you're having an enjoyable weekend!!     

Positive Thoughts for Hamlet

I dropped Hamlet off this morning for his surgery.  I'm feeling a sense of calm this morning, but am (of course) nervous and worried.  I know that there are many of you who are keeping him in your prayers today, and I so appreciate it!  

I'd planned on just staying home with my cell phone attached to me today.  But I received a call just as I was getting home from a friend whose dog is having knee surgery today at the same place, by the same surgeon.  We have decided that we both could use some company and are meeting for lunch.  She was on the board of directors of the rescue when I first became involved and was the one who talked me into taking our boy Josh to foster.  It'll be good to see her. 

I'll post an update when I hear from the surgeon.  Many many thanks for your thoughts and prayers for Hamlet!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Road to a Friends House

Yesterday I packed up an entire Thanksgiving dinner and took it to our good friend Sidney in Lancaster Pennsylvania.  Other than work later this evening, she had no plans for the holiday.  I just think that Thanksgiving is meant to be shared with someone.  I wasn't going to tell Sid I was coming, but decided that I would tell her as I was getting ready to leave. It was good to see her, and we enjoyed our meal together. 
I gave Sid the leftovers and I drove the 2+ hours back home.  The road to a friends home is never long...It was a nice day. 
This evening we're having dinner with some friends we've known for about 10 years.  They are always so kind and include us in one of their holiday celebrations. 

The picture below is of Rudi doing what she has done nearly every day for the 7 years we've had her; enjoying the cats food. 
Whatever you are doing, if you celebrate Thanksgiving or not,
hope you're enjoying your day too!!  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winding Down on Wednesday!

The last several days have been a bit hectic.  But all the rush is behind me, and I can focus on what's in front, which is Thanksgiving and about a week of vacation!

I took Hamlet to see the surgeon last evening.  Before I tell you what was decided, I want to say how very much I appreciate all of you who have taken a moment to send your best wishes for Hamlet and share your thoughts and experiences.  It really does help to have them.  This has been a very difficult time trying to decide the direction to take.  Hamlet has been through so much.  Right now he enjoys a pretty good quality of life.  He's got a good appetite, his energy level and attitude are good too. The only difference is that he's uncomfortable.  The tumor is huge--Bigger than both my hands put together...Dr. Walker (surgeon) agrees that it looks worse than it did originally.  The open area of the tumor is about the width of my index finger and getting bigger; it's red and angry with infection...I would post a picture, but you understand...But if you're curious and would like to see it, let me know...

Having said that, we have the option of course of doing nothing.  The tumor will continue to grow, and eventually Hamlet will probably lose use of his leg.  There's not enough skin to heal over the open area, it'll remain open and get worse.  Antibiotics aren't effective because the blood supply is very limited to the tumor (that's why it's not getting better).  The risk of doing surgery is that it may not work--We have known that all along.  We take the chance that de-bulking the tumor (not removing the whole thing, only part of it) may leave us with all the same problems and more as doing nothing.  But then again, if it works, it buys Hamlet some more time.  I think that 'luck' has been on Hamlet's side.  It was a rough recovery last time, but I feel like I owe it to him to at least try.  He'll have surgery on Saturday.     

The rest of the dogs are doing well.  I find great comfort in their company.  This morning the house is filled with the smell of bread baking and a turkey breast that I cooked overnight in the crockpot.  It's part of a Thanksgiving meal that I'm taking to a good friend today.  There is a peaceful feeling as a few of the dogs, including Hamlet are snoozing nearby.  A couple of the other dogs are in the kitchen hoping that the Food-Fairy will come and magically give them a bite of something.  The silence of the morning is broken by the sound of CarrieAnne and Sam barking at something in the darkness.  I always wonder what they see? 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What to do about Hamlet

I'm home from the vet with Hamlet.  Parked on our road when I drove past were a couple of cars with several people looking at the adjoining property--At least I guess that's what they were doing.  For some strange reason, known only to our dogs, we discovered purely by chance that the words "chop-chop" always send them running to the far side of the yard barking--So, when I let the dogs into the backyard, I said those words and off they went running to bark at the people--It just made sense to do it.  One couple had a dog with them, so 'maybe' they wouldn't be so bad to have as neighbors.

The news for Hamlet continues to not be good.  The vet feels that the infection is worse and the antibiotics aren't working.  As I've mentioned, I can't tell because I look at it everyday.  I had thought that it was improving but in my heart I knew that it wasn't.  The option of surgery came up again.  Dr. DeSantis (my vet) thinks that surgery to 'debulk' the tumor, removing the area of infection may be an option to consider.  Then we would use IV and oral antibiotics to get rid of any lingering infection.  The only thing I've discussed with the surgeon was removing the entire tumor.  There are some risks.  One being the loss of the use of his leg.  Another is that there may not be enough tissue to close up the wound.  Dr. DeSantis said that even though surgery was 'not really' an option we may not have a choice but make it one.  There are so many things to consider in doing this.  The last surgery took so much out of Hamlet because of his age (about 13-14).  Another is that the infection could be so deep within the tissue that surgery and antibiotics may not even make a difference and could make everything worse for him. This is why I'll have to talk to the surgeon again and see what he thinks about a less invasive surgery.  It'll also take about 5 days to get the results back from the latest culture that we took of the wound which may give us a whole other picture.  For some reason the quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet came to mind today, "that it should come to this!". But I don't see that "this" may have other choices--Unless someone else has a suggestion? 

Today is our 29th wedding anniversary.  We were planning to go out to lunch and enjoy the day. Carl and I both don't feel much like celebrating, but think that getting out for a drive may do wonders to clear our heads and get a good perspective on everything.   

I do hope you're having an enjoyable day!  It's really a lovely day here in Virginia with warm temps and sunshine.  This kind of weather always has a way of lifting the soul!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Week of Highs and Lows

I really look forward to Thursday's when the week finally slows down.  I can catch up on my blog-reading and things around the house. 

Hamlet has had his highs and lows this week.  The high came when I thought that the tumor had started to heal.  But a low came when we were gone, he lost the shoe he now wears to keep him from being able to scratch himself, which he did.  I think the more he scratched, the more it bothered him and the more he couldn't leave it alone. He's really gouged the tumor and it bled for a long time. I almost thought I was going to have to take him in. But it did stop and today it does look a little better.  I'm hopeful that it'll be okay, but I just don't know.

There has been no contact from Fred's realtor about our buying additional property.  I do think they're going to see if they can sell the entire 10 acres and not break up the parcel; I guess I don't blame them.  The easement was finished on Monday evening.  Let the selling traffic begin...I can't wait...

Another issue with my sister threw me into a tail-spin last evening.  I'll spare you the family drama and just say that I picked myself up, and was reminded of the kindness of friends both that I've met, and those who come to me from cyber-space.

The dogs always have a way of providing a much needed lift.  We enjoyed a walk, and Sheba and Rudi shared a stick.  It was good to be outside enjoying the fresh fall air and I felt better about everything.   
The day stayed on course when the mailman drove into our driveway while we were outside.  I wished I'd been able to take a picture as the dogs mobbed his truck!  He stopped mid way up the drive, leaned out of the truck and handed me a package. 

I was excited to see that it was from our friend Sugar the Golden Retriever and her Mom   I have been admiring the tasty and healthy treats that they bake up and was so excited by a gift of them for our crew. 
We did a couple of rounds of treats because they're healthy after all--Carl said they smelled so good that he wanted to try one--The dogs LOVED them, and I did too because they were baked with love and given in kindness!

Thank-you Sugar and Sugar's Mom!  We so appreciate your thinking of us, and sharing these wonderful treats!!  You can find out more about them by going to their blogSugar and her Chef-Mom are on a little Thanksgiving break for now, but you can still stop by their blog and take a look around.  

Finally, I will end this post with this picture that I took of  'my boys' Tanner (left) and Hamlet while they were waiting on their treats.  I so love the look on their sweet white faces. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quiet on the Home-Front

I really want to thank everyone for your kind thoughts and support as we navigate the maze of trying to purchase additional property and in doing what we can for Hamlet.
Despite the appearance of the "for sale" sign today announcing the availability of the property around us, I'm going to try and be optimistic rather than pessimistic.
I think Charlie tried to be optimistic when I accidentally locked him out on the front porch this morning.
Hamlet did seem a little better today, although he's sleeping quite a bit. He did want to go out with us this afternoon, but opted to sit in the garage while the other dogs played frisbee.  
Overall, it was a nice quiet day. 
  I hope your day was an enjoyable one too!  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hope for Hamlet and a Better Tomorrow

If you're looking for a 'feel good moment' from me, I'm sorry you but you won't get it from this post--Although maybe you will from this picture of CarrieAnne taken today.  But I'm sitting here discouraged and a bit depressed about the day.  As you know from my previous post I took Hamlet to the vet.  The news was not good.  The tumor is feeling warm to the touch.  Because of the infection the vet said we can't use steroids because they can suppress the immune system that he needs to fight the infection.  We discussed doing surgery again...She wanted to talk to the surgeon who did the surgery.  She called him and he happened to be working today and he asked us to come over and he would see us.  He and I discussed everything.  The tumor is totally wrapped around the tendons in Hamlet's shoulder.  Dr. Walker told me that the only thing that he felt could be done would be to remove Hamlet's leg, which he did not recommend because he thought it would be very difficult for a dog Hamlet's age.  So, in a nutshell, nothing can be done.  I was in tears and I left forgetting to pay the bill.  (I called them back and was told it was 'no charge').  I called my vet and returned to the office to pick up 2 antibiotics.  I feel like Hamlet has been given a band-aid fix for a gaping wound.  But I know I need to be hopeful and optimistic--I know those feelings will come, but right now it's difficult.

When I arrived home there was a large truck full of gravel and a Bob-Cat sitting in our driveway.   My heart sank just a little lower as I realized that they were probably there to put gravel on the grassy access to the 10 acres in back of us. I got out of my van and asked the man what they were doing--He confirmed what I already knew, but told me that they were making an access on the OTHER side of the property and not at the top of our driveway--He asked if it was okay to use our driveway this one time.  He told me that Fred had asked them to not use our driveway any more than needed.  Of course I agreed.  It was the only good news of the day.  I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

Just as I finished my post, I looked up as the moon appeared--It didn't stay around long, but I was so taken by how beautiful it was, an omen perhaps? 

Our Zoning and a Saturday Snippet

I'm so glad that the weekend has finally arrived! The week started out with a neighboring dental office enjoying a catered lunch that was meant for the office I work in--I'll end the story there and just say they felt it shouldn't be an issue, since "we" didn't pay for it...And the week ended with a visit to the Loudoun County Office of Land and Development to find out the zoning for Fred's property. (See the post, Paradise Lost) This then sent me traipsing the halls of the county court house (pictured) to see the plat information.  The good news is, is that the zoning (AR-1) only allows 1 house to be built on each lot.  So, the most we would see would be a total of 3 houses built.  The property in back of us that we are interested in, according to the plat information is accessed via, our driveway.  This is what we thought.  But if we're able to purchase 2-3 acres, it would include the access that would be changed.  We did hear from Fred's realtor yesterday and he wanted to know how much we were willing to pay for 2 or 3 acres, if Fred would do it. Our realtor told him we hadn't discussed that and did Fred just want to name a price?  She told them she didn't want to divide the 10 acre price because it was unlikely the 2 or 3 acres would be a buildable lot so it would have less value.  I guess this is why we have a realtor because the amount we were thinking was the price divided into the cost of the 10 acres and a little more...I wish I knew where all this was going to end up...

Today I do know where I'll end up.  The vets office.  Hamlet continues to be a concern.  The tumor as you know is very large, and became sore from Hamlet scratching it.  He continues to wear a tee-shirt, but is now sporting a shoe on his back left foot to keep from further aggravating it and a 'soft-lamp-shade' or e-collar to keep him from licking it--He looks like he's dressed for Halloween...I'm sure you understand why I'd rather not post a picture of him...But I'm going to ask about steroids today to see if that will help in reducing the size and providing some relief.  I know that there are side effects to taking this step, but something has to be done.

I'm also worried about Wendy.  I noticed on Tuesday she has somehow broken a lower tooth that looks like it may be becoming infected.  It was actually her that had an appointment this morning to see the vet.  But I had to change that because Hamlet needs to be seen a 'little' more than she does, and unfortunately they didn't have enough time to see both of them.  She doesn't seem to be in any pain or discomfort, but I feel just awful having to make her wait. 

Whatever your Saturday brings, I hope you're having an enjoyable day! I look forward to reading your blogs later this afternoon! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friend or Foe?

You all know that in the midst of all our dogs, we have a cat named CC who is about 9 years old.  We found her when she was about 6 months old in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  She has grown up with the dogs, and as a result, she has become a very dog-savvy cat!  All of the dogs are respectful of her and consider her part of the pack--Except our boy Sam...He is relentless at times chasing and harassing her.  Sam has never hurt CC and I know she can take care of herself--CC has not been declawed and has scratched Sam's nose more than once--Nevertheless, because of her size compared to Sam's, he has gotten into trouble more times than I can count because of he just can't seem to leave her alone.  But even our scolding doesn't stop him, when Sam sees her, he usually chases her.  With that said, last night I saw something that makes me think it all may be nothing more than a game between them...What do you think?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paradise Lost?

As you know for many years I craved being in the country, out of town. I didn't want to have neighbors. I no longer wanted to live in a crowded subdivision with people in front of us, in back of us, and on the side of us. I no longer wanted anyone watching to make sure we followed 'the rules' of cleaning up after our dogs and noticing how many we had.  For ten years this was how we lived and it was okay.  But I longed for solitude and privacy. We got that when we moved to where we are now. The house we live in was not what I dreamed of, but the property is.  For three years we've enjoyed the privacy, peace and quiet of the country. We've enjoyed walking the dogs on the 30 acres of open fields that surround our property. But in the last couple of weeks, we've noticed some changes.

It all started the morning I had the encounter with the bow-hunters. Later that morning a truck that I didn't recognize pulled into our driveway. It was Fred, who owns the land around us. I guess it was an omen because of course I wondered what his appearance after 3 years meant. Added to that last week I noticed fluorescent tapes on the trees marking property lines.  I'll keep this part of the story brief and just say that my fears were confirmed, Fred is selling the property that surrounds us.

If you stand on the road facing our house to the right of our driveway is 20 acres of Fred's land.  Directly in back of our property at the top of our driveway is a second parcel of 10 acres that he owns which is partially cleared. Our house is situated in the back of our property, very close to the 10 acre property line which is wooded.  Of course my worry is that someone will buy the 10 acres and clear all the trees. I asked our realtor (who is also a long-time friend) inquire about the property and they're asking a whopping $225,000 for the 10 acres. (Actually, it's a reasonable price for property in this area). Needless to say, we can't afford that. But yesterday I had our realtor, MaryEllen inquire if they would be willing to sell us 2-3 acres of those woods, (pictured below) creating a buffer between us and any new neighbors. It would be wonderful to have this part of the property so that for me and of course the dogs, our paradise would not be lost.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good Dreams and Memories

At 2 a.m. this morning, groggy Americans turned their clocks back one hour, marking the end of Daylight Saving Time.  So I've no idea if it was 3 or 4 o'clock when I was awakened by a constant thumping noise.  When I got up to see what it was, I saw that it was Hamlet having a very active dream.  As I stood there watching his legs move and his tail wag, I remembered something I heard several years ago that says "that when you see a rescued dog dreaming, it's because he finally has good memories."  In a few days we will celebrate having Hamlet for a year.  I hope he has good memories of this past year together.  I know I do.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Just a Thought...

I read somewhere this week that 
"sometimes in life it's just about the moment." 
 For some reason, this really struck a cord within me.  And, as I considered this thought and looked around, I could see that sometimes it really is just about an instant where time stands still
 and there is pure joy in that single moment. 
I hope you 'enjoy the moments' of your weekend! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Crime Wave at Golden Pines!!

In late August I told you about how "Highway Robbery" was taking place in my county. Well, as the sun rose this morning it was evident that this crime has been replaced with another. This criminal has struck twice in the last couple of nights in the western part of Loudoun County Virginia and is leaving devastation to those who are unfortunate enough to be in his path. Nothing is immune to this criminals cold and merciless brutality. Although he is difficult to see as he commits his crime, if you are brave, you can listen carefully in the cold of night and hear the echo of his contemptuous laugh at the feeble attempts of protection. While some of these attempts to slow his rampage and killing spree will be successful, unfortunately he cannot be stopped. If you were prepared and managed to escape him one night, I promise you he will be back on a night that you are careless and your defenses are down.

You may indeed know this criminal whose first name is Jack. Below is a sketch artist's rendition of him followed by pictures of the crimes he committed right here on my road!  But be warned Jack can and does have many faces--He also has many weaknesses but his partner in crime and mentor known as Hard Freeze will be coming and is much more brutal--Then comes the 'Godfather," Old Man Winter! 
Here are some pictures of the devastation found in Jack's wake this morning...The poor and innocent honeysuckle.  
Even this 'unknown' was not spared.
Jack showed no mercy to the already dead leaves...
There was no place for the Teasel to hide. 
Jack's spree didn't end with the defenseless plants.  
His wrath was felt in the fields both high... 
and low.  There was nothing that could be done to stop him. 
Jack struck every where.   
All I can do is warn you and wish you 'good luck' in keeping Jack Frost at bay for as long as possible--I hope you are more successful than we were!