Sunday, January 31, 2016

In Memorium: Trinity, Faithful Guardian

Trinity at the vet
Two weeks ago she was fine. Last week her breathing started to suggest a constricted airway. Three days ago she started to become lethargic. Two nights ago I realized that all of her lymph nodes were dramatically enlarged. Took her to the vet yesterday, and the diagnosis was lymphatic cancer. X-rays showed significant involvement in the lungs as well. Last night, she refused to eat and wanted nothing more than to lie down quietly. Overnight she was unable to maintain control of bodily functions.

My initial thought was to wait for the feedback from the radiologist and the cytology report. Lymphatic cancer can often be held at bay for a while. At my request, my vet put her on an immunosuppressant dose of Prednisone while we waited for the reports. It's a very fast-acting drug (relatively speaking). By this morning, after one dose, she ate, though not with her usual enthusiasm (Dyson has nothing on this girl). But prednisone creates a deceptive appearance of recovery; what's actually happening is that the immune system is suppressed leaving the cancer to proceed. And even on the prednisone she continued to be lethargic and unenthusiastic about her usual interests, including the cat. Given the involvement of the lungs and the sheer size of the lymph nodes, I didn't feel that the prognosis was good. Perhaps more importantly, Trinity made it clear that she could not comprehend why her body would not work as expected, that she was confused, and afraid, and wanted to be at peace.

This afternoon, after a long conversation with my son Alex (who is holding her in the photo), we took her to the vet to say goodbye.

R.I.P. Trinity to cancer, age six. Willful friend. Faithful guardian. Majestic, gentle companion.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Negotiating for Sheep

The power of Faith. Maybe there is a doG.
In the last two weeks, three different people have met Faith, and decided within minutes that they wanted to take her home. I swear that dog needs an OKCupid page. I mean, who can resist this sort of thing (right).

As dog divas go, Faith is pretty cool. She has a remarkable ability to get humans eating out of her paws. Fur and all. And she is perfectly willing to inform you that no, you really aren't done giving her scritchles.

Since the world is all about her, Faith decided that a bidding war is in order. She told one suitor - well, she signed, and I translated; you all know how this works - that if the suitor would get her a sheep, Faith would happily move in with her. The suitor's apartment, it should be noted, is around 300 square feet, so I thought this was pretty hardcore of Faith. I helpfully offered her (the suitor) some help.

Since I was traveling down to California as this came up, I offered to bring back a sheep. You know: one of those famous California surfing sheep. There are a bunch grazing over at Stanford; given the local mountain lion population it's unlikely anyone would miss one. "Please, don't", she said. Yeesh. I mean, it's not like it's that hard to keep a sheep in a small apartment, right? When I got to the airport in San Francisco on the way back, I texted her claiming that I had forgotten the sheep at the Stanford barn.  "Thank God", she said. Somewhere in the process, as I was having fun shearing this story for all it was worth, somebody pointed out that if I tried to bring a sheep back I might get stuck at TSA. Frankly, I thought it more likely that the sheep would get stuck by TSA, but let's not go there.

Then there was the question of what to name the sheep. And of course, there's really only one name for a sheep that is going to be the focus of the kind of overwhelming publicity that patterpatter is likely to bring her. But you're going to have to wait for it. "Oh no," I can just hear you saying, "this is really going to hurt."

There was also a discussion about sheep needing grass to graze on. I said that California produces lots of grass and I could bring some of that back too. Garberville isn't that far north of San Francisco, and I had some time to kill, so why not? Strangely enough, Faith's suitor (who works in a respectable professional field) wasn't interested in California grass. I guess the folks in Garberville need a better advertising slogan or something.

It's frustrating when people won't take your carefully thought out, wildly inappropriate gifts, isn't it? And for pesky practical reasons, too. When this happens, there's really only one thing to do: get creative.

And it turns out that biologists have been working for years to come up with a kind of sheep that is specifically engineered for small apartments and won't eat your carpets.

Folks, meet Dolly.

Don't tell Faith, though. A sheep in a small apartment is doable. But a Border Collie?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday House Guest

Trinity likes to ride shotgun.
This is Trinity, our house guest for the holidays. She seemed very disappointed to learn that she is not a Border Collie. She thought it was some sort of club you could join to make play dates. Kind of a dog version of those dating services for two-foots, perhaps. Faith says she can be an honorary Border Collie this week if she behaves. Faith has also graciously loaned her the title of "Miss Underfoot" for the week.

Trinity's current people are going through a family emergency, so Trinity and her sister Roxy (below, not staying with us) are looking for a new home. Trinity will be staying with us through the holidays. Yes, I do have a nine year old child and I'm not a complete idiot, but it's still possible that her people will manage to find a pair placement for her and he sister. Roxy is a little more assertive than Trinity. Nothing out of line for the breed, but after what happened to Tater earlier in the year I wasn't willing to take a chance hosting her for the holidays.

Faith and Tater have decided they like Trinity, though there have been some language barrier issues. Trinity only speaks German, and Faith and Tater only speak English and Faith's special sign language. Faith has been watching out-takes of Sergeant Schultz to try to pick up the language, but she doesn't have much of an ear for accents, and Trinity isn't buying it. Trinity likes to play, and has decided she wants to play with Faith, who couldn't care less and (as we all know) can be totally deaf to things that don't interest her. And for that matter, things that do. Thankfully she has Tater to act as her hearing ear dog.

Trinity's attempts to play with Faith have escalated from an initial, happy, "Let's play", to bowing and barking, to "What's wrong with you, you idiot Border Collie? Play, dammit!". Faith, true to her breed, is very much of the "get a job, slacker" school, and is responding by nipping Trinity mildly to tell her to behave when Trinity is too insistent. Trinity gets this "I really don't get it" look that would be hilarious if Faith's response weren't so obviously turning her poor puppy brain into confused mush. Eventually it will occur to Trinity to try playing with Tater. She may have more success there. And, you know, I may break down and find a tennis ball at some point. She's really a very good girl, and I'd like her to have a good time while she's here.

Food, glorious food!
Trinity likes all of the usual things that Rottweilers like to do. Like lay on the bed (above). Note that the allegedly lazy Rottweiler is paying close attention, while the jaded Border Collies know that there's no upside for them in mere photos. Especially when it's just me taking the pics and not Food Lady.

Trinity also likes to eat. Though since she arrived with a pretty unhappy tummy I kept her off food and served her metronidazole for the first 24 hours to let her guts straighten themselves out. This is her starting to make up for lost meals. Obviously she will need a bigger bowl if she is here for any length of time. Eating is something Rottweilers are really good at. In vast quantities. It's part of what makes them so solid.

What's that Faith?  No, Faith, "solid", not "stolid". No, Faith, Rottweilers are not useless, no matter what Food Lady may have told you. Food Lady just suffers from agility obsession. Well, that and owning Dexter "real men don't do weave poles" Morgan. I bet Trinity could do that first weave pole (Pbbbt! ☺), though we'd have to see about the rest of them. Think of it this way, Faith: when you're done herding all of the sheep, dogs, small children, and household trinkets together, who's going to hold their leashes for you? Do you want to pull the cart to the market in Rottweil? That's a pretty heavy cart.

What? Oh. You want to drive the cart? So Trinity can pull it and that's OK with you? Oh, good. Can we get back to the story now? Yes, I promise the next story will be all about you, Faith, because, you know, it's really all about you. See? There. Problem solved.

What's that, Tater? You want to know why Snickers the cat used to call Trevor and Morgan the "big stoopid" and the "really big stoopid"? Well he is a cat, you know, and Morgan did keep trying to make friends with him, and you know how cats don't like to associate with "that sort". Can we get back to things Trinity likes now?

So finally, we get to the thing that Rottweilers like more than anything else, which is eating - err, I mean snuggling - children. As you can see, Faith is keeping an eye on things to make sure that Trinity doesn't go too far and exceed her daily protein requirement.

Actually, this part has been really good. Alex is a hugger, and 35 lb Faith tends to feel embraced and enveloped when 84 lb Alex attempts to give her a bear hug. Hang on...

No, Faith, I don't know why it's called a bear hug. No, I wouldn't hug a bear either. Well, because I'm more of a mountain lion hugger kind of guy. But only really little mountain lions. Yes, Faith, I'll always be glad to hug you, but could you please go find a toothbrush? Yes, Tater, I'll hug you too.

Trinity is pretty stolid. Err, I mean solid (dammit, Fatih, now you have me doing it), so she actually appreciates the hugs that make Faith kind of uncomfortable. She seems to have decided that the Border Collies will settle down eventually (ha!) and she should just wait them out while she plays with Alex and me.

Welcome, Trinity.

For those who may be interested in Trinity's half-sister Roxy (left), drop me your email address and I'll put you in touch with the owners. They are trying to place Roxy and Trinity as a pair if possible.