Sunday, April 16, 2017

Miss M's Not-Bucket List: Part I

When we first found out that Miss M was sick, we started thinking of all of the things that she still needed to do with the time left.
But, as we were thinking of things, we realized that there is so much that she has already done.
She has already stayed in fancy hotels, started her own dog group, starred in a pitbull calendar, and spent nearly every weekend exploring and experiencing Chicago.

There were only 2 things that we had been putting off that I would feel terrible about if we didn't have her anymore.
Number one: Getting family photos that include all of us. 
When Miss M was first diagnosed, we thought that this would be her last weekend with us, so we really wanted to make sure to get the photos.
We talked to Sparenga Photography who had also photographed us with the pups for their Unexpected Pitbull Calendar photoshoot that we wrote about here. 
It turns out, the day we had scheduled there was a huge snowstorm.
Actually this was only 1 of 2 days that it snowed this entire winter in Chicago (which is so hard to believe!). 
We didn't think we had much time left with Miss M, so we didn't want to reschedule.
We thought it would be tricky doing a cold-weather shoot with Baby K, but he actually likes being outside even in the cold.

We want Baby K to grow up having known the pups, and having the photos to prove it.
Stay tuned for the only other bucket-list item we had for Miss M!

The update!
It may look pretty, but there is a seedy underside of Chicago snow.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pooches: Living with a Dog who has Cancer

Miss M heads to chemo in her lucky hat!
For the past few months, our life has been turned around when our very own Miss M suddenly became ill and we learned that she had a tumor on her heart. Everyone has been so supportive with her GoFundMe and well wishes on her Facebook page, and we've finally had time to process and give an update on how it's really been going:

On Being Lucky
I was always that person--constantly creating scenarios and scanning the pups for any mysterious lumps and bumps and thinking the worst. Little did I realize, that cancer isn't just the lumps and bumps we find, but it can also be growing internally.
Miss M's illness definitely snuck up on us. She had absolutely no symptoms until one day she just collapsed.
We could have lost her that day, but we do realize we've been lucky enough to have more time.

The Fear
Seeing Miss M so sick was scary. And this type of cancer is scary.
My biggest fear is that she could have another incident where the blood vessel bursts and she would be alone or we wouldn't be able to get her to the vet in time.
In the beginning, I was afraid to leave her alone. We also had to figure out the logistics of always having the car available to take her (which having one car and given the location and hours that I work, plus having Baby K to transport, has been trickier than expected).
Our cardiologist also told us that untreated, there was a higher likelihood of having a blood vessel burst and she wouldn't be able to do some of the things she loves best--like going on walks and meeting people--because it would be too exciting and it would put strain on her heart.
The cardiologist also told us the chemo would shrink and harden the tumor which would allow her to continue doing the things she enjoys.

What Happens with Chemo 
Miss M traveling to chemo in style
We wanted to maintain the quality of her life, and even though this was a tough year we thought we would always regret at least not trying, so we decided to go through with the chemo.
It turns out dogs respond really well to chemotherapy.
Miss M really hasn't had many side effects, and she has already completed her 5 sessions.
She would go to the oncologist every 3 weeks and she loved seeing people and getting attention. She comes back completely like herself, except the 3rd or 4th day after treatment she would be lethargic. And gassy...for some reason.
She didn't have a lot of nausea. She would typically throw up one time per cycle, but she's also a pup who throws up from eating ice-cream.
They told us dogs typically don't experience a lot of hair loss, and she was fine through her 4 treatments. It was just this last few weeks where the hair on her neck has started thinning. I think it's because she normally sheds all her hair at this time, but with the chemo overall hair regrowth has been a bit slower. I think it's also really noticeable because it's the white fur so you can see her pink skin underneath.
Otherwise, she is basically herself.

Why She Really Isn't Feeling Well
For awhile, Miss M actually has been sick, but it was completely unrelated to her cancer diagnosis.
It seems she was having some back pain.
I only found this out when I was home alone with Miss M and Baby K; she started panting and having trouble walking. I immediately thought the tumor on her heart had ruptured, and I sprang into superhero-mode carrying my 65 lb dog into the car, and Baby K, and driving back to the emergency vet.
After a 2 hour wait with a tired and hungry baby, we were told she had a severe pain in her back which caused her to have a fever.
I think it even goes all the way back here. They weren't sure what caused it, but they were thinking it could arthritis related. We've been making sure to monitor her, and keep her from overexerting herself. We've also had to shorten most of our walks.

What's Next
Miss M just went in to re-do all of her tests to see how everything has been going. It turns out, the tumor is now so small that they could barely even see it!
She will be moving on to a different type of chemo which is an oral pill she will take at home. We are supposed to go back every other month to do the full body testing.
While this is good news, we do know that it is not a complete cure. But, it does buy us more time.
While we are so lucky that things are going well for her, the hardest part has been when we make plans for the future. Just the other week we were talking about ideas for Halloween costumes for the pups to coordinate with Baby K, and we had to stop and think about whether there would actually be a next year.
And for now, we're enjoying everything together this year.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more updates.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Pooches: On the Evolution of Dog Bathing

We have spent years perfecting our dog baths.
It all began as an episode of the coyote and roadrunner between me and Miss M
Which later turned into an efficient multi-dog cleaning operation.
While we thought we had things down, what we didn't count on were some of the changes we needed to make as the pups have gotten older.
While it used to be enough to train the pups to jump into the bathtub, we want to be careful of the pups' joints as they age.
So they have graduated to the shower.
It's easier for them to step in, it already has the shower head attachment, and with the high walls they can't escape.
We put a scouring pad on the drain to collect all the hair, and it's actually easier than our former set-up.
Anyone else have tips for dog bathing?

How it started.
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and updates beyond the blog.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Daily Walk: What We've Been up To

Some people might have thought that Baby K led to the less frequent posting of our blog.
But was this.
So what were the pups up to during that time when we weren't posting?

We've been outside eating tacos.
This is the photo of the pups before they realized they wouldn't be getting any of the tacos.
We cheered on the Cubs.
All of us.
We went to lots of street festivals.
And Shakespeare in the Park. Even though Mr. B was not part of the play this year.
Though here they are with one of the actors who came out to meet them because they were so attentive for the performance.
We taught Baby K about Family Walks.
Even in the cold weather.
The pups moved out of the bathtub and started taking showers.
We continued to cheer on the marathoners.
And slept a lot.

Some people have asked if Miss M will have a bucket list. We've been trying to think of things she would still want to do, but really...from staying in hotels to touring on a boat to going to professional sports games to touring Chicago and riding in cabs to starting her own walking group to doing things like this a couple of times a year, the pups have lived a full and fulfilling life.

There are just 2 things we wanted to make sure we did, and we'll share those soon.

Thank you again to everyone for supporting Miss M and contributing to her GoFundMe. We're almost there! It has also been so nice to hear all of the kind words and stories about how Miss M and Mr B have been a part of your lives.
The doctors are recommending an additional radiation blast on top of her chemo as well as some retesting at her next appointment. With the emergency, diagnosis, and treatment, we've already spent a small car payment!
Stay tuned to our Facebook page with a more updates.

And this one.
One More.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pooches: When Your Pup Loves Your Baby Too Much

We wrote a bit what our pups thought when we brought home Baby K, but since then things have evolved.
Baby K has grown and become more interactive.
And the pups have welcomed him into their squad.
The only problem is that Mr. B is starting to take things too far.
He always wants to be in Baby K's room.
The funny thing is, this actually used to be the pups' room, they just never wanted to be in it.
We even tried to lure them with this amazing bed, but they were still reluctant to go in.
Now that Baby K is in there, we can't keep Mr. B out.
The main problem is that Baby K will be sleeping when Mr B bursts in.
So he's no longer sleeping.
We had a silence band over the door latch so Mr. B was able to burst through the door. And as if that wasn't enough, he would start to shake where his tail became a drum against the crib.
And once we decided to take the band off of the latch so the door actually closes, Mr. B started using his head as a battering ram against the door because he wanted to go in and lay with Baby K and his things so badly.
Miss M doesn't have the same drive to be in Baby K's room, but she does her part in helping wake him up.
She likes to follow me everywhere. Including up and down the stairs, and back and forth in front of Baby K's door.
Which given her extra long toes, always sounds like she's tap-dancing.
Anyone else have a pup who loves their baby too much?

But he tries so hard!
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and updates beyond the blog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pooches: Where Miss M Determines the Meaning of Her Life

Thank you so much to everyone for your outreach, kind words and support for Miss. M!
--For those who asked, the complete details of her sickness and her GoFundMe can be found here.

Since our last post, Miss M has been doing very well.
She started her first round of chemotherapy and is still very much herself.
Perhaps too much herself.
Now that we know Miss M's time with us might be limited, we've all been putting great thought into what we want to do with this time.
Except for Miss M who has always known what the meaning of her life is.
And it is about food.
Just eating food.
At all times.
We've been happy to help her out with this one. Our first order of business when she came home from the Emergency Vet was to fulfill her lifetime wish of being able to raid the fridge.
Which she soon tricked us into letting her do every day.
For a couple of times each day.
And now it has just become expected that she will get to eat extra food, and treats at all times.
Miss M's food-getting face
I think this might just be the happiest I've ever seen her!

She is still acting like herself with a lot of energy, (and dancing!) and it's hard to believe that she is even sick.
We've been working hard--and again, thank you everyone so, so much for your support!--to get her treatments so she can continue to be happy, and healthy and have a strong quality of life. She's going back for another round of chemo tomorrow.

This is herself.
And this one.
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and updates beyond the blog.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pooches: Some News

We've always loved having this space to share our stories of the pooches and to hear that so many people love them as much as we do.

This is still hard for us to process, but over the holiday weekend, Miss M became suddenly seriously ill. After a stint at the emergency hospital, we received some devastating news that it appears she has a tumor...on her heart.

Which is all so shocking since up to this point she has been routinely going on daily 4 mile jaunts.
Dancing in leaves:
And participating in hijinks with Mr. B:
The good news is that the mass is small and has not spread to any other part of her body. 
She is also still energetic and acting completely like herself. 
Our main goal for her at this time is for her to have a positive quality of life and to be able to continue doing things that she enjoys. 
While there is no cure, we spoke to a Cardiologist and Oncologist who are both optimistic that treatment can help decrease ruptures and the spread of cancer and it will extend and increase the quality of her life.
We still have so many stories to share and we will be keeping updates, so stay tuned.
Update: Thank you to everyone for your support and kind words. While we weren't sure how to proceed, some friends have set up a GoFundMe to help defray the costs of her treatment.

The happiest.
Or here.
My favorite.
More weird.
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and updates beyond the blog.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pooches: Miss M is Sneaky

You know all of those photos we have of the pups sleeping together cosily in the same bed?
There is a bit of behind-the-scenes that you may not have realized.
So something that looks like this:
Really started out like this:
Miss M has a way of finding any bit of space and squeezing in to make it look like she was always there.
Like this sweet scene of them sharing a pillow cheek to jowl:
 Is really a photo that started out with this solo pillow user:
What seems like tandem laying:
Started like this. Notice Miss M in action and Mr B's pained expression.

Remember where it all started?
Or her plan here. (I forgot how hilarious this one was!)
Beauty sleep!
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.
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