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Everyone say hello to Mom's new dog.

Meet Audrey

Audrey is an 8 week old Havanese parti-colored puppy. She already likes to chew and nap. If she grows to enjoy a glass of wine, she and Mom will be best friends forever.

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Word on the street (or at least the word via the AJC) is that the Seiler family, owners of UGA's beloved Uga mascots, is looking to inject some fresh DNA into the winnowed Uga bloodline. Future Ugas should be smaller and look more like the bulldogs of yesteryear. Good for them. Our mascots have been getting far too heavy, and the breed has serious health issues that need to be addressed if it's going to survive into the 22nd century.

There are some other Bulldogs that could use some new blood, too. Greyson Lambert has officially been named as starting quarterback in today's season opener versus North Carolina. Coach Smart has been hinting at this heavily for months now, so it comes as no surprise. It's a shame that Smart hasn't learned from history.

Lambert, as all Bulldog faithful recall, was not spectacular last year. In fact, I blame Mark Richt's firing on his decision to waste a year on the arms of Lambert, Bauta, and Ramsey in anticipation of incoming wunderkind Jacob Eason. Richt learned the hard way that high expectations plus lackluster performance are a fast track to a pink slip.

Eason, Smart says, isn't ready to start yet. He's playing it safe, putting in the proven commodity. Lambert is experienced. If he wins, no big deal. He's also terrible. If he loses, no big deal. That's the kind of selfish coaching decision you like to see: no matter what happens in the game, coach can't lose. Yet another indication of just how much we've lost by ash-canning Richt.

Sink or swim, there's no time like the present to learn how to play the game. If Eason is as great as they've been saying, let's get him some game experience that counts at the start of the season when losses mean the least. When Bulldogs need new blood, procrastination isn't an option.

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My mother has had Chewie put down.

This is actually only the second time I've ever mentioned Chewie on this blog. I never really liked the little jerk. Yes, he had a rough early few years. His life was much improved when my Mom rescued him. However, he never became what I would call an affectionate or an obedient dog. But Mom still liked him. She's put up with me for all these years, so I guess she must have developed some fondness for stubborn assholes. Go figure.

In recent months, Chewie developed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the dog equivalent of Alzheimer's. He walked in circles, got stuck under furniture, and stood by his full dog dish barking for food. Even for Chewie, he was becoming higher maintenance than usual, to the point that Mom could no longer meet his needs.

So that's the second dog we've lost in 2016. (The third if we count Dad's puppy, Tyr, who died in March.) We're running out.

Three little puppies living in a zoo

Cancer found one and then there were two

Two little puppies sitting in the sun

One lost his marbles and then there was one

One little puppy left all alone

Watch yourself, July. It's dangerous out there.

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I had a poodle cartoon scheduled to run today, but sometimes life interferes with your plans. Victoria died at 5:25 AM. Her overtaxed heart gave out.

Victoria, R.I.P.

On Monday, April 25, Victoria collapsed at the end of her daily walk, so I took her in to see her vet the next day. He heard a "crackle" in her lungs, and given that I had noticed an occasional cough over the weekend, he prescribed a regimen of amoxicillin antibiotics. The next day, when her blood work came back from the lab showing a deficiency of thyroid hormone, we started her on levothyroxine treatment. But things only got worse.

The following Saturday, Victoria woke me up with a heavy, rapid breathing. Not exactly panting, but close. I took her back to the vet to see what could be the matter. He thought the likely culprit was the amoxicillin. It's rough on the stomach and common allergic responses include heavy breathing. Over the next few days, she didn't improve, so I stopped that treatment. When she still didn't get better, I stopped the levothyroxine, too. (It can have similar side effects.) Neither of these actions helped her.

She always had a big heart

By now, Victoria had no appetite and very little energy. So the vet called for radiographs of her heart and lungs on Tuesday, May 10 to see if he could find something we were missing. He did.

Her heart was abnormally enlarged and her lungs were filled with fluid. This was bad. Very bad. There were two possibilities: either the heart was causing damage to the lungs, or the lungs were causing damage to the heart. He scheduled an echocardiagram for the next day to figure out which possibility was the one hurting her. It turned out to be possibility three: a tumor.

Heart Based Tumor would be a great band name

Victoria had surgery to remove a mammary tumor last June. They just cut it out. That wasn't an option here. Honestly, neither was much of anything else. The tumor was aggressive and had already done a lot of damage. The fluid in her lungs wasn't actually in her lungs: it was serum that had leaked from her blood vessels into her thoracic cavity because of the bad pressure the tumor had created. Her whole circulatory and respiratory system was breaking down fast. Chemotherapy was the only treatment option for the tumor, and given the type of tumor and damage already done to her body, even that wasn't really an option. So I did the only thing I could do: I took my dog home to die.

I was told to expect that she wouldn't survive two weeks, so I tried to make her last days special. I gave her a haircut because she typically appreciated that sort of personal attention. (She lay still, but I know she loved to be touched.) I took her for a ride in the Jeep to pick up her favorite food, pepperoni pizza crust. (She refused to eat it, but I could tell that she enjoyed the smell.) And at night, I let her have the best spot in the bed: mine.

She didn't get to live out those two weeks. Sixteen days after her initial collapse and not even 16 hours after her ultimate diagnosis, she passed away beside me on the floor. She'd gotten up at 4:40 AM struggling to breathe. I lay down with her until long after her heart finally gave out. She took my heart with her when she left. I loved that dog.

Goodnight, my queen

Thank you, Kelley, for finding her. Thank you, Mom, for giving her to me. Thank you, Jeff, for trying to save her life. Thank you, July, for being so patient with your Sister until the end. Thank you, Victoria, for brightening my life for the past 7 years.

The poodle comic scheduled to run in today's space will be seen tomorrow.

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Last year, Mom replaced the chain link fence around the driveway with a cedar fence. It looked good, but I just couldn't live with its natural wood finish. I just had to paint it white. (Relax, Tom Sawyer. No one whitewashes anymore.)

It took a lot longer than I would have thought (rough-hewn cedar swallows paint by the gallon), but I have to say I'm very satisfied with the finished product.

Tom Swayer would be appalled: I did it myself

I must admit, something about a white picket fence says "American Dream" to me. If this is what Trump's wall looks like, I think I'll be okay with it.

(And so will July.)

I can put Baby in a corner

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The people who work at the veterinarian's office now recognize me on sight. Sometimes you don't want to go where everybody knows your name.

Earlier this week during our daily walk, Victoria got weak and collapsed. I took her to the vet. Her blood work came back indicating that her thyroid had stopped functioning. The vet considered that good news. He was worried that it was her heart. Whew!

The last vet visit was for July's meibomian adenoma (er, a benign cyst on her eyelid), so I guess it was Victoria's turn. I would prefer it if they could go a month without needing medical care. I want them to be happy and healthy, but I didn't really think the day would come where I was spending more each day on my pet's health than my own, especially considering that Obamacare means I'm now paying $300/month for the peace of mind knowing that if I have to go to the emergency room, it will only cost me only thousands instead of ten thousands.

(I'm this close to voting for the next asshole who promises me that he'll cancel Obamacare because he wants to give bigger tax breaks to Wall Street banks. Stones and Walters only have so much blood.)

Anyway. Victoria is now on a course of antibiotics and thyroid medication, which, while expensive, are cheaper than heart surgery. We'll check back with the vet next month to see how things are going. So long as the vet will still take my credit card, Victoria doesn't have anything to worry about.

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My father has two new puppies, sister and brother litter mates! They're so young, they don't even have names yet.

She looks like Bandit from Johnny Quest

I think we're going to need a paternity test

Dad says they're supposed to be Great Pyrenees, but the breed standard requires that Great Pyrenees be pretty much all white. It looks to me like they are some mix of GP and something else. Whatever their genetic heritage, they are 100% adorable.

They make a cute couple

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You may recall that on Thanksgiving, I stepped on and broke July's toenail. That led to emergency surgery the following week to remove the nail. I challenged Christmas to bring me something worse. Me and my big mouth.

Following surgery, July's toe hasn't healed well. It has swollen to roughly the size of a pinball. When the doctor tells you that the best case scenario is a "very bad infection," you know you've got trouble.

So far, she's seen two different vets and been given three different antibiotics. A cutting from the original surgery has been sent to the lab for a biopsy in case there is an underlying tumor. The results of that test and her response to the antibiotics will determine whether she needs another surgery to remove more of the toe. Whether any of that happens before 2016 is still kind of up in the air. Victoria's biopsy this summer took 2 weeks, and that was when no one was on holiday.

Vet bills for the past 30 days come to $672 and counting. I've spent all my holiday money on July, and I can't even say she's enjoying it. On the up-side, there's more room in your stocking for goodies after you start cutting your toes off.

Congratulations, Christmas, for rising to the challenge I set for you. You're on deck, New Year's. Bring it on.

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I was notified over Christmas dinner that Uga IX, aka Russ, died this week at the age of 11. What can you say to that? I settled for "Please pass the deviled eggs."

Why was it that whenever Mark Richt had a bad year, an Uga died? In 2009, Uga VII died after losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, and Florida. After the 2010 season, which Georgia finished 6-7, Uga VIII died of cancer. Despite wining nine games (with a bowl game still to go), 2015 was so disappointing, we said goodbye to both Richt and Uga IX.

(To be clear, Richt is still alive. At least I think he still is. No one said otherwise during dinner.)

Let's hope this tragic trend ends with Kirby Smart. May Uga X's reign be long and fruitful.

I'll have more to say about old dogs on Monday. In the meantime, I'm going to Florida. If it's going to be 80 degrees in December, I might as well be at the beach.

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On Wednesday, while working in the kitchen to prepare for Thanskgiving — Mom's out of town and somehow I became responsible for feeding Those She Left Behind — I accidentally stepped on July's paw. As ususal, she was laying in the middle of the kitchen floor, and I didn't see her. It's proving a costly oversight.

She limped throughout the evening Wednesday and resolutely kept the paw away from me. I assumed at the time that I'd simply stepped on her paw. An inspection on Thursday revealed that I'd actualy stepped on the claw, breaking it at the pad. Yee-ouch.

You know you've got a good vet when he takes time out of his Thanksgiving Day vacation to respond to your desperate texts for treatment advice. He was in South Carolina for the holiday, but he told me how to treat it until the clinic reopened for business on Saturday. Those two days felt like an eternity.

This morning, the vet that I saw (my vet still being out of town) told me that the break was as bad as I'd feared. July was prescribed a proactive course of antibiotics to begin immediately and has been scheduled for surgery to remove the nail and the dead tissue around it on Monday.

So that's latest holiday horror story: I stepped on my child's foot and broke it. You're up next, Christmas. Hit me with your best shot.

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