On Friday, February 15, my family and I lost our beloved, ten-year old English mastiff, Rose.
Rose loved Christmas, snow, presents, rawhide bones, stuffed toys, snacks, her mom's cooking, and going for a ride in the van.
She was the most beautiful dog I've ever seen. At over 200 pounds, she was also the biggest.
She was born with a crippled leg and had to have a lot of surgery on it and both elbows when she was a puppy. Arthritis showed up on her hip x-ray before she was a year old. No one thought she'd live long, but she did better than expected and lived ten- years, which is old for a mastiff. She had a happy and fulfilling life despite it all.
At the end, she had severe hip dysplasia, arthritis, and spondylolysis of the spine. She couldn't walk without us supporting her rear with a harness.
On February 8, our vet injected a regenerative substance called "ACell" into her hip joints. We hoped it would improve her quality of life and give her a little more time. It seemed to be helping a little, but we didn't have the opportunity to find out how successful it would have been. On February 14, she became violently ill, vomiting and heaving all night long.
I sat with her all night, holding her big paw, petting her, and telling her how much I loved her. I promised her that I wouldn't leave her and would be there for her through this, and I was with her to the end.
We got her to the vet's office as soon as it opened. Other than elevated liver enzymes, her blood, urine, and fecal tests were normal so he decided to x-ray her. We feared that she may have swallowed something. While she was in the x-ray room, my husband and I waited in the exam room. A short while later, the vet called for us to come back at once. He said that they'd had to stop the x-rays, because she "wasn't doing well."
She was lying on the x-ray table. I took one look at her and knew she was close to death. She appeared so frail and weak that it seemed as if part of her spirit had already left.
We moved her into the operating room—it took several people to move her as she was so big--where the vet tried to revive her with oxygen.
As we stood there waiting, watching, he said the x-rays were inconclusive, but her diaphragm looked abnormal. He believed that her diaphragm was weak, which was why she could no longer breathe well. This was due to her age, size, and the vomiting. He also thought it possible that she had a mass in her liver that was pressing against her abdominal organs, cutting off the blood supply and possibly causing torsion.
The only option would have been major surgery, which, given her age, condition, and other medical problems, wasn't feasible. We knew it was time to let her go and decided to euthanize her to relieve her suffering.
We held her as the vet injected the solution into an artery in her leg. She looked up at us once to make sure we were there, then she slipped into a peaceful sleep.
We loved her. She was like a daughter to us and she's greatly missed.
Announcements February 9, 2013ACell and Renal Failure
Rose had ACell injected into her hips yesterday. So far, she's doing fine, but we don't yet know if it helped. The first two days are rough, and we're having to transport her to the front yard via a blanket, then we get her on her feet with a special harness--it's not easy to lift and move a dog that weighs 200 pounds. We have do this several times a day and have for the past seven months. Sometimes I wonder how I do it. It's even physically demanding on my husband and son.
I will post more about the results as soon as I know anything as I hope it might help other dogs.
Unfortunately, there is something else wrong with her. A few days ago, she started vomiting occasionally, and now she's barely eating. Our vet did some blood work on Friday, and we'll find out the results at the first of the week.
There's no doubt in my mind that we're going to lose her soon.
It looks like we're going to lose Belle, our nine-year old mastiff, soon too. This has been quite a shock to us as Belle has always been healthy. We thought she'd make it at least to eleven, but she started having seizures last weekend. We took her to the vet, and he ran some tests. We learned yesterday that she has chronic renal failure. Her BUN and Creatinine were sky high. He put her on Hill's Science Diet, and I've spent the morning researching the disorder and diets. Other than the seizures and a bit of grogginess, she had no other symptoms of renal failure. She has continued to eat well. I hope and pray that we can get the disorder under control.
As Rose's symptoms are consistent with renal failure, I've put her on the renal diet too until we figure out what's going on with her. Luckily both dogs love Hill's Science Diet. I even got Rose, who has turned up her nose at everything else the past couple of days, to eat a few cups of it today.
Needless to say, this is a difficult time for me and my family. I hope the girls make it to spring. I'd love to take them somewhere beautiful where we can sit on the grass and enjoy the sunshine.
Announcements January 31, 2013Cats and Toasters
What a morning. I went downstairs to feed the pets and take the dogs out as usual and when I came back in, I found that my 5-month old kitten, Isabelle, had her left arm stuck in the toaster. It was deep down in there. Luckily, the toaster wasn't hot or plugged in. I managed to get her arm out, not an easy task, and she appears to be fine, but I haven't gotten over the shock--she probably hasn't either. In my house, the toaster is going to be stored away when not in use from here on.
I'd previously posted that we were considering giving Rose, who has severe hip dysplasia/arthritis, a treatment called "ACell." I've spoken to our vet, and he agreed to do the procedure. We're hoping and praying that it will give Rose more time and greater comfort. I will let you all know how she does.
I've posted some recent photos of Rose and Belle, my nine-year old mastiff, and Percy, my four-year old Doberman, here.
Announcements January 23, 2013Rose
My husband and I are going through a difficult time right now. We're trying to come to a decision about when to euthanize Rose, our ten-year old English mastiff, who is like a daughter to us.
Rose was born with crippled elbows and had to have a lot of surgery when she was a puppy. Both us and our vet thought she'd have a short lifespan. And my husband and I agreed back then, that when her legs got bad, we'd not let her suffer. But she has done amazingly well. She hasn't had an active life, but she has had a good life and has been healthy and happy. In her prime, she was over 240 pounds. Most large mastiffs like her only live to be about 6-8 years old. At ten, a giant dog is ancient. I attribute her longevity, in part, to the aspirin she was on most of her life for joint pain (We also have a nine-year old mastiff, Belle).
Now, she has severe hip dysplasia/arthritis and spondylosis of the spine. She has been on Rimadyl and Tramadol to control the pain for the past six months. We built a ramp out front for her to get down to the yard easier. And I made her a comfy dog bed out of a memory foam mattress to ease the pressure on her joints.
Over the past few days, she has had a sudden decline. Now, her mobility is so poor that it takes forever to get her outside. She's practically dragging her back legs each time, and, sometimes, her hips are so painful or weak that she won't crouch to urinate or defecate. Often, she falls, and we have to lift her. I've had two spinal disc injuries this year from lifting her.
We'd thought we had no choice but to get her euthanized and intended to do so this week, but couldn't bring ourselves to do it, because, other than her joint problems, Rose is perfectly healthy and is of sound mind. We believe she still enjoys life. She still eats well, drinks well, and enjoys her interaction with the family and her favorites things, such as snacks and chewing on her rawhide bones. We don't want to euthanize her too soon, but at the same time, we don't want to wait until she's yelping in pain. So we have been torn about what to do and this has taken an emotional toll on us.
As she's not a good candidate for surgery due to her size and age, we thought there were no other options. But I did some online research and found a product called ACell, which we're having our vet look into. It's injected into the joint and can bring about a regeneration of tissue. It can significantly reduce or eliminate arthritis symptoms. It sounds miraculous, too good to be true. But people on dog forums said that their old dog was up walking again within a couple of days after the first injection. So we'll see if this is an option for Rose.
We have a wonderful vet, Dr. Darnell of Green Hill Animal Hospital, who's open to new things, and if he thinks it's a viable option, we'll try it.
We've also increased her pain medication, and I got her a microwavable, wrap-around-the-waist heating pad, which I put on her hips and spine. I'd never thought of the heating pad, but someone mentioned it on a dog forum, and it seems to soothe her pain and bring her a little comfort. Other than that, we're pampering her and hoping that the ACell will, at the very least, give her a little more time. Even if it only gives her six more months, that would be a lot of time in the span of a canine's life.
If you're going through a similar ordeal, here's more information about ACell.
Please pray for Rose.
This is an older photo of Rose. She's considerably grayer now. I'll post a recent photo of her soon.
Announcements January 16, 2013Update
Wow! It has been so long since I posted. I closed my Facebook account yet again. This time, it's permanent. I need to focus on some important things in my life, like promoting my novel and Butterflywebgraphics.com. I'm also creating graphics for 3DMe, Inc., a global 3D photography company with offices in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, United Kingdom, United States, and Canada. Besides producing the first 3D camera, they have a fascinating product that allows photographers to produce 3D photos. Their technology is featured in many theme parks, oceanariums, and other attractions including photo retailing. So I'm trying to focus on creating a lot of content for them to use in their 3D software. They have a great product, and I'm proud to be a part of it.
I hope that my family and friends will continue to stay in touch with me via email. I'm always happy to hear from you.
I received many wonderful letters about my cat, Romeo. Readers said his story touched them. I still grieve for him, but I received a special blessing in September, something which I believe is a gift from God, and this gift is helping me accept the loss and heal.
Several feral cats live in the neighborhood, all relatives/descendants of Romeo from the days he was a stray. Alarmed at the rapdily growing number of cats in the neighborhood, my husband and I rounded up as many ferals as we could in September, all but two males, and got them spayed/neutered. Afterward, the cats recuperated in the basement.
While they were recovering, my husband and I built a cattery in the backyard where we intended to put the cats afterward, a place where they could be safe from traffic and other dangers.
One night when we were finishing up, we heard loud, piteous meowing coming from the alley. We investigated and found three abandoned kittens in an overgrown lot down the street. They were under three-weeks old. Apparently, they belonged to one of the feral cats we'd had spayed. The poor things hadn't nursed their mother for nearly three days. I took them home. Luckily, I still had some kitten formula mix from the two kittens I'd taken in early in the summer.
Two of the litter were black males, but I was shocked about the third, a brown tabby girl who looked much like Romeo. She even has his spotted belly. She's definitely his descendant, probably his granddaughter. This was a wonderful and precious gift to me, the greatest gift I'd received in a long time, just what my heart needed. I loved her from the moment I saw her. I named her Isabelle. She's nearly five-months old today. She's turning out to be a great pet, dedicated and loving, much like Romeo in spirit as well. As I type this, she's perched on the top of my chair back, where she usually is when I work at my computer.
I'm certain that an angel led us to these kittens. If we'd not found them then, they would have died. And it's amazing that we did as they were quite some distance from the house. I don't see how we could have possibly heard the meows. It was as if the sound had been magnified many times--spoken through a blow horn. I will always believe that Isabelle is heaven-sent, a gift to bring healing from the loss of Romeo. Of course, we kept the two males as well and love them too. We named them Jazz and Fuzz. What blessings they hold remains a mystery for now.
I'd mentioned the gifts that Romeo gave me in my previous message. Isabelle was his final gift to me, but I realize that he gave me another gift too. After great loss, I'd lost my faith in just about everything, but he renewed my faith in God. Every time, I look at Isabelle, I remember God's greatness and love. She's a miracle in my eyes, my living proof that God is there for us, knows our pain, and sees us through the darkness. If a person knows, and truly understands that, they can get through anything.
What a wonderful enlightenment to take into the new year.
Here's a photo of Isabelle when she was about 6-weeks old.
Many blessings to you and yours,
Announcements August 22, 2012Why I disappeared
Several friends have emailed me to ask why I "disappeared" and "what's going on?"
I'm grieving. Not only did two feral neighborhood kittens that I'd grown attached to die after being ran over, but also my beloved 8-year old cat, Romeo, passed away.
I loved him so much, and his sudden death was quite a shock. Since I'd taken in the huge, twenty-three pound stray, which was probably part Bengal, in 2007, he and I were inseparable. We shared a special bond. He followed me everywhere like a dog, slept at my feet, sat on the back of my chair when I worked at my computer, waited and watched at the front window for me and my husband to return every time we went out.
On Thursday morning, he'd seemed like his normal self. He mooched in the kitchen, ate half a can of cat food as usual, then snuggled up beside me on the couch for a nap. My husband and I went out that afternoon and when we returned that evening, Romeo was missing. My husband and I searched the house, the basement, the third floor, but there was no trace of him. We assumed he'd somehow gotten outside. On Friday, my family and I conducted several neighborhood searches. No luck.
Then, in the early hours of Saturday morning, I went downstairs to put the dogs out and found him lying on a mat beside the dogs in the living room. I have no idea where he'd been all that time. He was panting, wheezing, lethargic, and his eyes were dilated. He wouldn't eat or drink and was barely responsive. We rushed him to the vet. X-rays revealed that he had a large tumor, about the size of two baseballs, just below his bladder, and the cancer had spread to his lungs. The lung cancer is visible in his x-rays. It looks like blooming flowers. You can see the x-ray here. The x-ray showing the abdominal tumor is here. In addition, he was close to death from pneumonia.
We decided to put him to sleep that morning to relieve his suffering.
Afterward, I was in an odd state of shock, feeling as if I were somewhat disconnected from my body. I felt that sense of disconnection even when we took his body to the crematorium that afternoon. After we got home, I broke down, overcome with grief, certain that without him, life wasn't worth living. Even so, some part of me still didn't didn't want to accept that he was gone. Now I feel like there's a black void in my life. Every room of the house reminds me of him, but the worst place is the bedroom as I closely associate it with him. Every time I enter the room, my chest tightens until I can barely breathe. I've temporarily taken to sleeping on the couch. Still, I wake up in tears.
I keep going over the days before this happened, taking everything apart for critical examination. Though Romeo had a good life, was spoiled, pampered, guilt has gnawed at me. I ask myself what I could have done better and why I didn't notice he was so ill. But, oddly, before I found Romeo on Saturday, he'd never seemed sick--no lack of appetite, no weight loss, nothing to indicate that he was ill. Other than a little aloofness during the past few weeks, which I'd assumed stemmed from jealousy over the two feral kittens I took in, he was his normal self. A vet explained the absence of noticeable symptoms in an online article. He said that cats are genetically programmed to hide their pain. In the wild displaying sickness or weakness would mean certain death from predators. As a result, cats only reveal their pain when they're so ill that they can no longer hide it. I spoke to our vet about it today. "Often," he said, "they just don't act like they're sick."
Knowing this eases my guilt. And logically, I understand that there was nothing more I could have done as there's no cure for cancer. I have confidence that I made the right decision in putting him to sleep. I had a duty to him, and I fulfilled it. I didn't let him suffer.
Still, I'm lost without him--as if I've lost a part of my very soul. He saw me through some major milestones, was unequivocally my best friend. But even through grief, his memory has already become a blessing. I know that he had a special purpose in my life, was a divine gift to see me through a difficult time. Romeo always made things seem brighter no matter how bad life seemed. He also opened my heart, made me a better person. Now I have deeper love for all things and everyone, more compassion and forgiveness.
His absence has reminded me that love comes to us rarely in life. When it does, it should be cherished.
The two feral kittens I took in a few weeks ago give my heart some comfort. I believe they're a gift too, sent to ease my grief through this loss and to lend other unexpected blessings. And I pray that I develop a special bond with them. No other cat will replace Romeo, but each animal brings some special grace to our lives. And though my heart hurts from his loss, I know that loss is part of living, part of the bargain we make in allowing ourselves to love. But what would we be if we didn't love? We are not supposed to lock our love away in a drawer, but give it again and again. That's one of the gifts pets teach us.
My two feral kittens, Loki and Juliette, eleven-weeks old.
Announcements June 22, 2012Doing great!
I'm doing great following my cataract surgery. My vision is so much better that it seems like a miracle. Colors are more intense and vivid now. It's like looking at the world through the eyes of a child again.
I still need surgery on the other eye and will probably do so later in the summer.
Right now, there's so much I want to do. And I'm enjoying reading, writing, and creating more than I have in years.
After I've sufficiently healed, I intend to go back over Painter of Dreams one more time. I saw a misplaced question mark and comma recently when I looked it over. I may also trim the first chapter down and weed out a few adjectives. And then, during my "post-op" edit on Rose on My Pillow, I've developed a better-looking ebook format, which I want to apply to Painter, along with a table of contents. I've read a few ebooks, and I've found that a table of contents is helpful.
On top of everything else, I became a cat mother again. My husband found a tiny, abandoned kitten, about 4 weeks old, in the yard. Since it's so young, I'm having to feed it specialized kitten milk every few hours. It's so cute--fluffy and gray with big green eyes. I must try to get some photos of it.
Also, I intend to redesign this site soon and have been working toward that goal. BobetteBryan.com is semi-down. Some hackers got in yet again, and when I tried to reupload the files, the site no longer worked. Due to the numerous hacker attacks, I've decided not to put the ecard program back up but will continue with the full-page greetings. That too will take a major site redesign.
Announcements June 12, 2012Eye Surgery
Today I'm having cataract surgery at 11:30. I'm nervous but excited.
I'm legally blind in my left eye from a retinal detachment I had in the 1980s (They said it was long-standing, probably from an injury I received in childhood.). During the past few years, I started having trouble with the other eye, having to make text on my browser and in Word ultra large in order to see it...and it's still blurry and faded. For a while, my husband and I thought it was merely middle-age far-sightedness kicking in.
I tried some of those non-prescription reading glasses at the supermarket, but that didn't help. And my vision continued to worsen. Everything became foggy like looking through a cloud. It was bad by Christmas. I remember that I got frustrated with holiday shopping and cooking. By June, I could barely see out of the eye.
So I finally went in for an eye exam last week. The doctor was shocked at how fast the cataract had developed. He said he was surprised that I was functioning as well as I was as it was "advanced" so thick that he couldn't see into the eye. I function well as I'm used to being vision impaired. And luckily for me, I learned to type when I was a child. I started working with 3D graphics in 2005, and so I just kept doing what I was used to doing. But daily tasks had became difficult, especially editing.
What's more, I'm diabetic, and, due to the opacification of the lens, the doctor can't see into the eye to ascertain the condition of the retina--though the other eye looked fine--so immediate surgery is necessary.
He will remove the lens and put an artificial one in. Usually, they put a lens in which restores far vision, then give the patient a prescription for reading glasses. But I told him that near vision is more important to me as I'm a writer and artist. So he's going to put in a lens to restore my near vision. I'll have to have a prescription for glasses to improve my distant vision, but that's no big deal as I already wear glasses for that.
I also have a cataract in my left eye, but it's small.
I'm excited at the prospect of having the vision restored in the eye. I can't wait, which is why I'm up at 4 AM writing this post.
I will post as soon as I can to let my family and friends know how I'm doing.
Announcements May 10, 2012Painter of Dreams is available!
That's right. The novel is finally available. You can pick it up on Smashwords.
It will also be available at Amazon within the week. Yeah!
But you don't need a Kindle to read it. It's available in PDF and several other formats.
Here's the link:
Painter of Dreams