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2020 killed my dog.

July, R.I.P.

July beat cancer for the first time in 2016 after having her toe amputated. She beat it a second time when she had a portion of her ear removed in 2019. This past July, she had a mammary tumor removed. Three times seems to be the limit.

In late October, she got wobbly in the legs. We crossed our fingers that it was a spinal problem. She initially responded to treatment, but she took a turn for the worse about two weeks ago when she lost even the ability to stand with assistance. It was downhill from there.

So long as she was lucid and had an appetite, I felt it was my duty to support her however I could — I couldn't justify killing my dog simply because she had become inconvenient. But I realized late last night that we had probably reached the end of the line. (I'll save the gory details except to say that cancer can be a real bitch.) I had her euthanized this afternoon, and she died in my arms.

For the better part of the past decade, July had been my shadow. Her sister, Victoria, wanted to be near me; July *needed* to be near me. She followed me everywhere and complained to whoever would listen when she couldn't see me. I can't blame her. Who else was she going to get to take her for walkies or hand her a slice of pizza?

I already feel like I'm missing something when I walk into a room and don't hear the tappa-tappa of toenails trailing behind me. I keep looking for baby, and she's not there anymore and never will be again. That will take some getting used to.

Thanks to Kelley for bringing her into my life and thanks to Mom for being a substitute Walter when necessary over the years. Thanks to her vet, Jeff, for helping me keep her around as long as we did. (Fourteen years is a good, long life for a standard poodle!) And especially thanks to July for doing your best to make 2020 bearable for as long as you could.

In happier times

I loved my girls.

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Good news! July's back and legs are responding to treatment, and she's walking much better.

Bad news! July is now having seizures (two in the past three days).

I'll keep you posted.

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July's health problems continue. At least this time it's not cancer (we think).

She's been getting wobbly in the back legs for the past few months, a condition that we've been attributing to old age. (She's almost 15!) However, on Monday she abruptly lost the ability to coordinate her back feet, began dragging her back knuckles, and could no longer get up from a laying position. Or even a sitting position.

Her doctor agreed that this seemed abnormal and took x-rays. He ultimately diagnosed, and I quote, "likely intervertebral disc disease at L5-6, spondylosis at L7-S, mild hip dysplasia."

What did you have for dinner?
"Spondylosis"? Uh, yeah. I see that now.

She's now on a prescription of steroids, muscle relaxers, and spine massages every 8 hours, which she has responded to quite well. In fact, she's already learned her med schedule and asks for her pills on time. (She loves Pill Pockets™!)

The biggest difficulty of her condition comes from her continued refusal to let me out of her sight. This has always been the case. Despite her wobbly legs, she recently fell down the stairs rather than let me be out of her sight for a whole minute. (Could that be how she damaged her back? Silly poodle.)

So, for the foreseeable future, I'll be carrying her upstairs for food and meds, outside to do her business, and everywhere else I need to go, including into my bedroom when I work and sleep and into my bathroom to lie on the bathmat when I take a shower. She's such a diva.

Not that I'm really complaining. It could be worse, which probably isn't something I should say in 2020.

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Forest Lawn Memorial Park is just around the corner from my Dad's new house. It's been there since 1956, which means it was there when I was in high school. I must have passed it hundreds of times, but I'd never been in. Not until this week when the beautiful weather made a side trip necessary.

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful grave

I've never liked it. Oak Hill is the older cemetery closer to town. As previous posts on this blog prove, I like it fine. Forest Lawn, on the other hand, has always seemed to me more like a small, sterile golf course than a cemetery. Now that I've been in, I'll second my own first impression.

Fore

I've never been a believer that cemeteries should remain solemn and unused plots of ground. If you can't celebrate the lives of the dead, why remember them at all? Besides, a tiny metal plate with a stack of fake flowers is hardly how I'd want anyone to remember me.

Please Refrain From Loud Noises Or Activities That Disturb The Serenity Of The Park

The rules are posted by the entrance. The first one is no kids (living ones, I assume). The second is no recreational equipment (read: no fun). The third is no pets ("Leashed Or Unleashed": even fish are out). That sounds awfully exclusionary, but read to the bottom and you'll see that "Properly Attired Walkers And Joggers Are Welcome Except During Funeral Services." Thanks for that offer, but I think we'll keep on passing by.

Choose life

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What? I skipped a post again? Dammit.

In my defense, I've been busy these past few days. As you know, I've been supervising Dad's medications and dog-sitting Rambo and Scarlett (and trying to make July not jealous). Also, there have been issues with our commercial rental property, including an AC failure and an (unrelated) fallen tree that damaged the roof and destroyed the gutter over the back door that has a bad tendency to flood. Add to those that I have an end-of-July deadline on a coding project. And I helped one friend build some shelves and another fix her cable system. And my own ISP was down for most of Friday and Saturday. And I've been trying to find time to write more. And and and and.

But that's all just excuses.

On the up side, I did just recently discover that my phone takes great panoramic photos, a feature which I have been using exclusively to take photos of clouds.

Beautiful Clouds: Polution's one redeeming feature

So that's good. And that's enough.

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Sisters!

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By the time you read this, she will be out of surgery

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The National Safety Council says that the odds of an American dying from a fall are 1 in 114. That's about twice as likely as the chance of death from a gun assault (1 in 285) but five times more common than the chance of dying while going for a walk (1 in 556). The specific odds of dying from falling down the stairs is 1 in 1,662. Yesterday morning, I nearly became a statistic.

I woke up early to take July outside to go potty before the bad weather rolled in. I didn't bother to change shoes and wore my slippers in the dewy grass. Returning to the house, I wiped her wet feet but not mine. Then we both went back downstairs to return to bed. Thanks to my slippery slippers, one of us went faster than the other.

Spoiler alert: I didn't die. But I do have an uncomfortably twisted ankle and abrasions on my elbows. And I've certainly learned a valuable lesson. From now on, the dog can go potty in the rain.

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July health update: she had her two-week follow-up today, and Dr. Allen says she's doing great. Pneumonia 0, July 1! Good girl.

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July had to make an emergency trip to the vet today. Her breathing had been shallow since yesterday, and I thought it might have to do with a fall she had taken. (The old bones aren't they used to be.)

The doctor said that x-rays show "cloudiness" in her lungs. It may be the beginnings of pneumonia, so we're now on antibiotics just in case.

July escape plan: first learn to reach the door handle then we'll worry about that gas pedal.

I worry that the visit to the vet's office might be worse than the disease. She hates that place. It took two people to drag her back for her x-rays. That's pretty good for a twelve-year-old girl with no air in her lungs.

Get well soon, July!

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To be continued...

 

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