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Archive for the ‘Biscuit’ Category

This is probably more of a tweet or a facebook status than a “post,” but this is where I am when I’m thinking it, so I’ll say it here.

I dream of Biscuit a lot. And I miss him terribly. On PMSing days, I ruminate that he was the only one in the family (or on earth, or whatever), who REALLY loved me. When I dream of him (which I love to do), I can feel his fur, and his warmth. Very real. The only good thing that has come of this is, I sleep better. Biscuit was always in bed before me, and I would slide in between him and Jif (Jif under the covers, Biscuit on top), like sliding into an envelope. I would position my body however I needed to, to avoid disturbing Biscuit. Often, this left me considerably contorted. I did not realize how much so until I started waking up without stiff neck, hips, etc., from the awkward positions I slept in. And until I realized that I wasn’t waking up a few times a night trying to adjust my position within the envelope. (Dogs make people do crazy things.)

I don’t like being a person in a house without a dog. I will always be a person, I imagine, and always live in some sort of a dwelling (God willing), so the only thing that can make the situation better is to get a dog.

I go on PetFinder.com several times a week, for long periods of time. (Would a pit bull really be a bad idea? There are so many of them on there.) This has been my modus operandi when getting a “new” dog after the passing of an “old” dog: when the day comes that I feel wholly, the feeling that “I want a dog,” as opposed to “I want Biscuit,” then it will be the right time.

Not there yet. I’m still very much in the “I want Biscuit” place.

Well, hell, this would not have fit into a tweet or a status at all.

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When the decision to help Biscuit die had been made, we had to talk specifics with the vet’s people. A very gentle, soft-spoken woman named Heather, presented the options to me over the phone. I asked for the prices of each option. I was somewhat in a fog of grief, so I had to ask her to repeat several things. The gist of it all was, Biscuit’s body could be returned to us for burial (no charge, except for the injection); he could be cremated individually and returned to us in a basic urn, or in a decorative urn of our choosing ($200 plus injection and urn cost); or he could be cremated along with all the other animals who had recently died, and nothing would be returned to us ($90 plus injection). After going over the prices, Heather added, “I know your bill is already huge, with the last week of day hospital, so I imagine you want to keep costs down…”

“Well, yes,” I answered, on autopilot, while mulling our options. We had once buried another dog in the yard of our old house. We had been told then that it was illegal to do so in our area, and this was a source of anxiety for a very young LG. I thought aloud that cremation would be better. I mentally dismissed, though apparently did not state, that I did not want Biscuit lumped in with all the other deceased pets.

So Heather continued trying to help me with arrangements. “OK, then, we’ll have $90 for the euthanasia; we’ll do the cremation; the mass is an additional $90…”

The mass? We would, I was certain, say a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing as we buried Biscuit’s ashes in the yard, but we had no intention of having a mass for him. $90? For a priest . . . mass cards . . . ? Just when I was mentally finalizing the funeral arrangements, Heather throws in this monkey wrench. I went through an elaborate inner process, trying to find a compartment for this new mass information. I finally decided that I needed to respond something like, “Thank you for thinking of that [clearly, Heather is Roman Catholic, and apparently assumed that we are as well; she is only trying to be sensitive and attentive to our spiritual needs], but we are Presbyterian [Biscuit has received communion (and by “received,” I mean stolen, and by “communion,” I mean bread) on at least two occasions], so we really won’t need a mass, we’ll take care of our own service.”

I opened my mouth to make this rather odd reply, but instead, out came, “Wait, what?”

Turns out, “the mass” meant “mass cremation,” as in, with all the other pets. That’s not what we wanted. Even though we were already dipping into all the $ we had, and some we didn’t, for his care, we wanted him cremated alone. I told Heather this, and that we’d take the basic container, nothing fancy, and we’d bring him home to bury him.

So that’s the story of how Biscuit was almost converted at the end of his life. We were greatly surprised that the “basic container” which I imagined as a plastic margarine tub, is actually a lovely wooden box with an intricate floral carving on the top. It is now on a bookshelf. I don’t know when or if we’ll bury it. Presbyterian.

RIPBiscuit

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wannabee 1

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. — Agnes Sligh Turnbull

James 1:17

Many of you have heard this, but I’m aware many have not. Two weeks ago this past Friday, Biscuit, the VBD, died. With Jif there, our vet administered an injection. Biscuit had developed a digestive problem that made him unable to digest food — any food at all — for over a week. Three good vets tried to diagnose and treat the problem, but they were unsuccessful. He spent the last week of his life, days at the vet, getting IV fluids, and nights at home with us.

On the night before we finally made the decision, LG took him outside to see if he’d play fetch. He did. He ran all over the yard, sniffing out, then returning, his toys. We were elated. For a moment, it looked as though he could recover. I ran in and called the vet, who had raised the possibility of euthanasia, to give her the good news, and tell her that it ain’t over yet.

As I watched longer, it became clear to me what I was seeing. Years ago, one of Jif’s cousins, a heavy smoker in his 40s, lay comatose and dying in a hospital bed. Even as he lay dying, he repeatedly, mechanically raised two fingers to his lips, then extended his arm outward; back to his lips, outward. Smoking was such a part of him, his body wasn’t going to stop going through the motions until it . . . stopped. I won’t say that Biscuit’s fetching was that mechanical — truly, it wasn’t, because I believe he did feel joy in the play, and I know LG and I felt joy, playing with him — but it was so much a part of him that he wouldn’t stop as long as there was breath in his body.

I called the vet back and told her, “I think he would play fetch until he fell over, into a coma.” She agreed. We tried force feeding for one more day, and then made the painful decision to help the VBD do what he had, on some level, already decided to do. On the evening he was to go to the vet for the last time, my back was “out” and I couldn’t walk upright. After LG and I kissed his snoot and told him how much we love him, Jif took him.

There’s another hole in my heart. I don’t equate dogs and humans. Truly, I don’t. But losing my Mom and my dog in the course of a year . . . the two losses are not as dissimilar as I might have predicted they’d be. Perhaps partly because I rarely saw my Mom; in many ways, with the insulin injections and the blindness, our lives revolved around Biscuit’s needs. There is not one speck of complaint in the previous sentence, btw. He more than deserved any TLC he got from us, and then some.

There is more to say. About how they tried to give my Protestant dog a Catholic sendoff, about how people can be so insensitive when commenting on the loss of a pet, and about how grateful I am for the love and support…I’ll save those for the next installment. This is enough for now.

I think most of the posts mentioning or showing Biscuit are categorized under his name, if you want to know more about him. (Thanks to Shawkey for the quote here.)

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inconsolableI think Biscuit approves of the new portrait. It’s a print I’ve had my eye on
here at Ballard Designs. When I got a coupon the other day, I thought I’d go for it. It tickles me as much as I thought it would — it really does look like the VBD.

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PICT1040

We were moving some stuff around in the family room and vacuuming tonight. This ottoman is out of its usual place and blocking Biscuit’s path into the kitchen. He first bumped into it (remember, he’s blind), then decided it was a spiffy new resting spot put there for him. He’s been like this, back feet on the floor, front half chillin’ on the ottoman, for nearly an hour now.

Indicentally, this is the same dog who, when he was let out into the backyard to pee late last night, returned to the house with a whole loaf of French bread. I have no idea.

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OK, let’s see if I remember how to do this. It actually took me a few tries to get to this “new post” page. Quite rusty, I am.

I suppose the biggest news that’s happened in our lives since my Mom’s death is that Biscuit, the VBD, has lost his sight. I couldn’t help but think of this post, from a couple of years ago, when I’d so admired the neighbor’s blind dog. Well, got me one now.

Silver Bay 2009Biscuit

He bumped into the furniture a couple of times on a Thursday, and by that Sunday he could see nothing at all. It is related to the diabetes that was diagnosed as my mother was dying. Biscuit almost died at the same time. Such a time.

When I am not busy rising above circumstances, I blame myself mightily for Biscuit’s condition. By the time his diabetes was diagnosed, it was quite severe. I can’t help but think that we missed signs. During my mother’s final weeks, I was entirely preoccupied. The truth is, I didn’t know dogs could get diabetes. And even if I had known that, I don’t know that I would have put the “signs” together and guessed correctly.

But in hindsight, when the doctor asked us questions, there were signs. Had he been really thirsty? There were those few days in late April when we remarked on how much he was drinking. I thought that was good; water is good for us. Good for you, bad guy, for drinking lots of water. Then there was that time when he peed on our bed in the morning when he woke up. That was just bizarre. And we commented, gosh how bizarre. But we didn’t think, “We must get him to the doctor!” We just didn’t think that.

If we’d recognized the signs, we may have gotten him started on treatment in time to delay or even prevent, the blindness. Or maybe not. The vet says there is no way of knowing this. And he says that if they had gotten Biscuit’s insulin regulated correctly when he was first diagnosed, his sight may have been saved. But it’s a difficult thing to do. Lots of money and many attempts later, they still don’t have the right dosage. I have to schedule another day for him to spend there, getting tested periodically throughout the day. A glucose curve test, they call it.

It hurts my heart, and I do feel guilt, when I see him run into things; and especially when he’s wagging his little stump tail, thinking he’s looking at me, when he’s not quite.

The bright sides: He’s not depressed. They say some dogs get that way. He’s a trouper. He can still play fetch — his very favorite thing in life, after stealing food. LG found a ball that makes a sound, even after it lands and rolls, and he will fetch it for hours. He can “map” our house or another, with amazing speed and accuracy. He still has the occasional collision with the errant object, but for the most part, he gets around well.

We took him on vacation with us, to Lake George, last week. Our pastor and her family invited us to stay with them at the old house where they’ve vacationed for many years. He pretty much took charge of the place. I cannot express how thankful I was (am) that she and her family welcomed him and then thoroughly enjoyed him. He was massaged and patted and played with more there than he ever is at home. He was one happy camper. Or vacationer.

Silver Bay 2009 Porch

And as for the rest of the vacation, it was … splendid. I sat on the porch a lot. And then I sat on that other porch, some. I watched spiders, for a long time. And I noticed all the different greens in a single fern. I did these things, and I sipped coffee and read, and put ointment in my dog’s eyes and other medicine in his ears, all from a rocker on the porch. And these are precisely the activities that my soul had needed, but didn’t know to ask for.

(btw, I understand the Today Show is live from Lake George this coming Monday. Watch and you’ll see how it would be good for what ails ya.)

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I recently sent out an email to some IRL friends with the subject line, “because I didn’t have quite enough on my plate.”

My pastor wrote back that she hoped I’d be able to feel not so much that my plate was full, but that my cup runneth over.

My Mom remains in the hospital. She is not going to get better. At least not on this planet. She is no longer eating, and her kidneys are failing. It may be hours, it may be days. I don’t think weeks are likely, but who knows?

I am attempting to help plan a funeral from 500 miles away. My crazy drug addict brother telephones regularly to curse at me and blame me for anything he can think of — the fact that my mother won’t eat, is in pain — whatever doesn’t sit well with him is somehow my fault. He routinely makes threats against me and my family. Yes, I have been in touch with law enforcement.

On Friday I took Biscuit to the vet. He’d lost a little weight, and his appetite wasn’t good, but mostly, I just had a feeling something wasn’t quite right with him. On Saturday, I learned that he was suffering from advanced diabetes, with dangerously high blood sugar levels. He was admitted to the emergency animal hospital where they would regulate his blood sugar, then send him home, after teaching us to give him twice daily insulin injections. They said he’d be there 24-48 hours.

Three days and over three thousand dollars later, Biscuit’s blood sugar is still as dangerously high. The decisions we must make regarding him are not unlike the decisions we had to make regarding my mother. What, and for how long, do we treat? With my mother, we did not consider money. Very sadly, with Biscuit, we must. The expense so far has hit us very hard. We’d put that behind us quickly, if it had helped him. But it didn’t. We are waiting to hear from his regular vet now, just what might be possible, or reasonable.

I do continue to struggle with WTF Disease/lyme. I am much improved; and still somewhat disabled by it. I remain in treatment, with monthly tests and doctor visits.

A couple of people have said that things can’t get worse. Oh, yes they can. I never think that, because I know very well there are worse things that could happen. Still, this is plenty bad. In many ways, my cup runneth over, it’s true. But it’s also true that right now, my plate is full.

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