Saturday, March 28, 2020

What Happened....

It may be Saturday, but the events of this past Wednesday are still fresh in my mind.  I'll start by saying that I'd noticed changes in Rhett over the last several weeks. Of course it had me very concerned, and so I was keeping a very close eye on him.
Wednesday began with what could have best been described as a perfect day for Rhett. As I was leaving to run errands, Rhett, who loved a car ride, stood at the door and wanted to go along. It was a cold rainy day, so on a whim, I decided to take him and Max with me. I occasionally rolled down the middle windows so Rhett could stick his nose out and smell the air. He didn't do that so much, but he seemed happy to be along for the ride.

Before going home, I made a last stop at "Chick Fil A" to get a quick lunch that I shared with Max and Rhett. Just as we were finishing, Rhett who had been laying in between the seats, started gagging, and when he put his head way back, I saw his tongue and gums were pale -- He wasn't breathing. I quickly got out and pulled him from in between the seats and I laid him flat, got his airway open, and did an equivalent of CPR, by blowing into his nose and shaking him - And I can't be sure, but I'm pretty sure I was yelling and begging him to not go.... Time seemed to be standing still, and so when I saw Rhett blink and take a breath, I just started crying. Max was sitting on the backseat, shaking and when I started cheering for Rhett, we both felt a huge sense of relief.

A blur of phone calls and within minutes we were sitting in the parking lot of a nearby vet. Because of the virus, I had to wait outside while a vet I'd never met, but I knew by reputation, assessed Rhett, and took x-rays. Those x-rays showed an enlarged heart, (a possible tumor) and a mass on his spleen. Several phone calls with the vet and the what ifs followed. But in the end, as devastating as it was to hear, there was nothing that could be done - This was all made harder because from outside, I could hear Rhett barking inside. The vet, who was showing us nothing but kindness and patience, of course allowed me to take Rhett and spend time with him.

I'd been told that what happened earlier, could and probably would occur again. Or, that Rhett could pass away on his own, in his sleep, or without me there. This all weighed so heavy on my heart and mind. I knew that what the vet was telling me was the explanation for all that I'd seen happening with Rhett the last few weeks.

That feeling of total helplessness that I'd had in the parking lot of Chick Fil A was still so fresh in my mind. Of course I didn't want any of that to happen again. What if I could not revive Rhett again? What if I wasn't there? None of this would be fair to Rhett. Along with having a big personality, he was also truly a dog that had a great deal of dignity. I felt strongly that his life should be one that ended that way. Not one filled with panic or chaos.

So, as I sat on the floor, next to a snoring Rhett, in the early evening of Wednesday March 25th, he left this life with all the dignity and peace that he deserved. And of course, breaking my heart, and taking a piece of it with him, but leaving so much more behind.

Our candle has been lit since Wednesday to both honor and remember Rhett and to help him find his way on his journey. However, I have a feeling that Rhett has been able to find his way to that on his own. Thinking that, somehow lifts my spirit.

Finally, as is our tradition, giving Rhett his color for the Rainbow. I've thought about that over the last few days. Not long after Rhett came to us, I bought him a new collar. I found what I thought was the perfect one for him -- A tie-dyed/multi-colored one that I thought said something about him.

With so many colors to consider, yellow has been a color I've seen all over the last couple of days. It's  practically everywhere right now.
And so, I have decided that Rhett's color is yellow. Yellow is the third color from the top in a rainbow. Yellow is vibrant in itself, and it represents the color of the sun, full of energy.
It also represents brightness and happiness.
~A carpet of yellow flowers along the tow-path near the Potomac~
And now, it represents my beloved Rhett.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Sad Farewell to Rhett

While the world is practicing social distancing, yesterday, my precious and beloved Rhett was sent to the Rainbow Bridge.

I will tell the story of the unexpected events that took Rhett from us in my next post. Today, I just want to post a small tribute to a dog whose big personality eclipsed Todd's, but only in the way that a Golden Retriever can.
~Rhett, on the day we met in September 2017~
Despite having several homes before he came to us, Rhett's spirit and spark never dimmed. He was confident, affectionate, happy, mischievous, and those were just a few of his qualities. And of course I can't forget to mention that he was also very photogenic, independent and he could be pretty stubborn at times.
I loved Rhett's "intense" expressions that he had when he wanted something.
Of course I always let him have his way - How could I not?
I fell in love with Rhett the first day I met him in September of 2017. There was something so familiar and comfortable about him. All the dogs liked him right away as well. His easy going nature made it obvious that he thought that life was a fun adventure, and he was always ready for what came next.
This may go a long way in explaining why he was such a good escape artist. I will never forget on our first day together, how I turned around several times after thinking I'd confined him, only to see him standing behind me with the other dogs. Or the time he managed to get out of the breakroom at the office where I work, and was halfway down the steps before I caught up to him. His eagerness for a fun game, more times than I can count, had a way of making me forget my troubles.
I will always treasure the 908 days we had Rhett in our lives. Through the heartache, the tears, and the swollen eyes from crying, losing him at this moment feels unbearable. I am going to miss having Rhett as part of my life. Walks won't be the same. Rides in the car won't be as much fun.  Mealtimes will be quieter.  Life will be quieter. And I know it goes without saying that despite how I'm feeling, without a doubt, I would do it all over again. To be loved and love a dog like Rhett was a priceless gift.

Thank you, Rhett for finding your way to us and being a “once-in-a-lifetime” and to us, a perfect dog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Plenty of Time!

The doctor that I work for has decided to close the office until at least April 1st. My co-workers and I knew the day may be coming. In an office full of germaphobes, we supported it coming sooner, rather than later. The patients that I spoke to about rescheduling their appointments understood. However, there is always one who doesn't, and *he* is insisting on being seen for treatment that he has put off for a couple of years. So, I'm working on Friday to assist the doctor.
~A dental photo of Todd!~
So, with my new found time off, I will admit to having grandioso plans of things that I could do while I'm at home. In fact, one of my co-workers and I have made a bet to see which one of us will get that one task done that we have put off doing (because we didn't want to do it) before the office is scheduled to reopen on April first. The loser has to buy lunch. The job I keep putting off?  Just look at the photo below. This kitchen cabinet has been a thorn in my side for months. I've been shoving things into it to the point where I just about cannot get the doors to close. It's the cabinet that I keep all the dog medications and dry and canned good in.  Believe it or not, I do know most of what is in there. But I have to admit that there is also no telling what's hiding in the back or under something that I've forgotten about. Which is why it really needs be organized. 
But it's after 2 o'clock, and I've not even had lunch yet. I'll think about doing that or another task tomorrow... Yeah, tomorrow .... There's plenty of time ... Right now, I need to go see what Todd is barking at.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Maya Arrives at Golden Pines!

As I mentioned in my last post, on Saturday, we welcomed to our household, Maya, a Chocolate Lab, who will be 15 years old in May.
Maya was given to Lab Rescue by her owner, whose life circumstances changed and she was unable to continue to care for Maya and her counterpart, a 14 year old Golden Retriever. (For several reasons, the Golden did not come into the rescue with her).
After 4 days, Maya has settled in pretty well and is adjusting to her new life and routine. We still have a few things that we need to show and try to teach her; like how to get back inside the house, and where the water bowls are. Maya is deaf, so it may take a little time. But I'm sure that together we'll figure it all out.
Maya is a gentle and old soul. She's not interacting much with us or her new packmates. But I am hopeful that will change as she gets to know us and finds her place in the household.
However, in true Lab form, she's all about anything that has to do with food or mealtime - a good appetite is a good sign!
~I love Maya's smile!~

Welcome to Golden Pines, Maya! 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Week in Picture Review

The start of yet another week. Today started daylight savings time, but it still begs the question with the time change, is spring really around the corner?  How I'd hoped for at least one good snowfall this winter.  But there's still time, right?

Okay, enough of my dreaming.  Here's a day-by-day-picture review of our week.

Monday....Again.... really? Rhett's face says it perfectly!
Tuesday.... I voted.
Tuesday was also the day that outdoor kitty, Gino was let into the house by our dog-walker, and she didn't put him back outside when she left. When Carl and my brother got home an unopened bag of flour had gotten knocked off a shelf (that the dogs couldn't reach) and it was everywhere - That part was thanks to the dogs.  Of course, Gino (outdoor kitty) was blamed for it and not allowed back inside.
But I realized the next day, that it wasn't Gino that knocked the bag of flour off a shelf, that was Sophie's annoying siamese cat, Tiggy. And, I realized that only because Tiggy returned to the scene of the crime and was sitting on that same shelf. I couldn't help but think that it was a whole scene reminiscent of Lady and the Tramp when the Siamese cats, Si and Am got poor Lady into trouble for their mischief.
Finally it was Wednesday... My last day of commuting to work.... Rhett loves being a co-pilot!
Rhett's expression says how I feel about being home for 4 days!
Thursday.... Chip met our Holistic Vet. He did really well, and was so relaxed that he took a nap as we discussed a palliative option that I didn't know about.  More about that if I decide to go forward. Until that decision is made, we've started Chip on a couple of Chinese herbs to try and slow the progression of the cancer.
Friday....This gave me a grin.
And hold on.... When we got to Saturday, we welcomed a new girl, a Chocolate Lab, named Maya.  I'll tell you about her in my next post.
So here we are on Sunday..... A great day for Todd and his new ball to spend some time outside together.
I've looked for weeks for a ball that I thought he couldn't chew up. The ones I've bought for him for the last few years held up really well, but they are no longer made. I've looked all through the online stores to try and find one and can't.
 So, I hope this new one will be Scottie tough!
Because he really does seem to like it.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Chip and My Promise to Him

Since Thursday I've been trying to find the words for this post. But they just won't come. I've wanted to tell the story of the last few weeks with Chip. But the uncertainty and trepidation that I've had about him has consumed me and I just haven't been able to.

It began a couple of weeks ago when Chip started limping and holding up his back leg.  He'd slipped a couple of times and when he got up, he was favoring his knee. But after a day or so he'd be fine. But now, his limp wasn't going away. I just knew he'd torn his ACL, (anterior cruciate ligament) and would need knee surgery. I decided last week to confine Chip.  I thought that in making him rest that maybe if it was a partial tear, his knee would improve, and maybe we would be able to avoid the surgery.
Well, Chip didn't get any better. And, having to wait three days for an appointment with Mobile Vet didn't change that. When we arrived for our appointment, Mobile Vet said without even examining Chip, that he thought that it was a torn ACL. But when he did the exam, that changed.

A single x-ray was taken and that was all Mobile Vet said he needed because he could see right away what was causing Chip to limp. And before Mobile Vet could say it, I said, "it's bone cancer, isn't it?"  He nodded his head and said that it was. It was my worst fear realized, and it was one I'd thought of, but I kept it deep inside, and didn't allow myself to even consider or say it until that moment. It was a crushing blow.....
Mobile Vet and I discussed every. single. option. for treatment and I have considered each one. Years ago, the first senior Golden we had, had bone cancer, so I know from that experience, and from others experiences, that it is a very painful cancer. So taking everything about Chip into consideration, it has taken 2 days and a lot of tears to feel comfortable about the path to take with him.
Chip will not be having surgery to remove his leg and do chemo, which is the traditional treatment.  Instead I have made an appointment with Holistic Vet for this coming week. My hope is that she has some tricks up her sleeve that will slow down the cancer, and give us and Chip more quality time. And most importantly and what is paramount is to keep Chip as pain free as we can.
Managing his pain is not a challenge at the moment, however, it will be one in the days to come. But I've made Chip a promise that we'll do our best to make his last days ones that are free from pain. And this promise is one I fully intend to keep.