Monday, December 4, 2017

In Memorium: Faith

Today we lost Faith, who was suffering from cancer. Those of you who have tracked this blog may remember her from some of the very earliest posts. Perhaps including the photos from the day we picked her up from Food Lady's farm on March 13, 2011, including a particularly spectacular photo of my son Alex wallowing in the mud. Incredibly friendly, stone deaf, eager to please, soft like a bunny, great with kids, and as with so many Border Collies, capable of having her way in most situations. A great fan of television, especially when the show featured dogs or horses.

Also, an uncanny ability to place nose prints on the inside of my front windshield, no matter what vehicle I might happen to be driving.

It'll be obvious from the photo at left that Faith and Darcy did not got along. In truth, the entire "let's take the dogs for a walk" thing that eventually convinced Darcy to marry me was Faith's idea. She liked Callie (Darcy's Golden Retriever) from the first, liked walks, and well, if I was a little slow to catch on she wasn't above managing the outcome for everyone by encouraging Callie to walk a bit faster.

Well, that and Darcy was willing to let her on the couch and put up with her breath...

Always one to share a dog bed with a fellow traveller, Faith is shown here with Tater, the two of them obviously feeling remorse for stealing Callie's bed in our living room. Callie, though a bit non-plussed, never really seemed to mind. If anything, she's become resigned to it, as Boston has continued the tradition of stealing her bed. Not to be out-done, Callie has decided to express her enthusiastic approval by routinely taking Boston's toys whenever we leave his crate door open, gathering them for safekeeping in the master bedroom (where Boston is not yet permitted). Callie has totally mastered the passive aggressive habits required to be a perfect Pacific Northwest dog.

Faith played a key roll in civilizing Boston, seen here at just a few months. She is explaining the rules of the yard to him. Don't dig up the drain field. Stay in the yard. Stay in the damned yard. Stay in the doG damned yard...

Boston, you may be assured, listened respectfully and proceeded to give this advice all of the respect that his puppy pea brain thought it deserved by attempting to hump her. Faith, having learned her lesson from Trevor, proceeded to sit and give him her best "Yeah, like you really know what that's all about" look. Boston is seen here modeling a Buttonsmith dog vest, which may have given him an inflated view of his role in the scheme of things.

Of late, Faith has enjoyed a career as one of the Buttonsmith shop dogs, along with Boston, Callie, and Islay. Here they are attempting to pose for a photo. Faith seemed to enjoy her modeling job that day, introducing Buttonsmith's custom dog collars.

This sadly leaves us at two dogs: Callie and Boston. It has been a rough few months.

Rest in peace, Faith.

Friday, September 29, 2017

In Memorium: Tater

This post is long overdue...

In late September, we made the decision to put Tater to rest. He was declining, increasingly unable to process where he was and what was going on, and exhibiting signs that his anxiety was increasingly overwhelming.

Tater’s decline was long-term and slowly progressive, but during the month leading up to his death he has declined more quickly. In the last two weeks he had obvious trouble breathing at night. He sustained injuries several years ago from a dog attack that partially compromised his vision and hearing on his right side; it was expected that the neurological damage would eventually lead to more severe hearing and vision loss, but the timing was uncertain.

Over the last year that decline has been obvious. Toward the end, Tater was increasingly unable to maintain situational awareness. He couldn’t tell who was present or departing a room, and sometimes lost track of who was nearby. This caused him great distress. In the final month, it also became evident that Tater could no longer reliably get up or lie down in any comfortable fashion, and that trying to do so was causing him significant pain. Border Collies are famously stoic; for the pain to be evident it had to be pretty bad.

While there was no imminently fatal disease (as has been the case with our previous dogs), Darcy and I made the difficult decision that Tater should not be forced to live his life in a state of constant distress, disorientation, pain, and confusion.

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.