The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Thinking

Since even before Lucy died I’ve been trying to figure out when is a good time to adopt another dog. Now that our house is empty, it’s even more on my mind. I really don’t like not having an animal in the house, but I also don’t want to rush into anything.

I’ve had my eye on a small pekingese with a rescue organization. She’s had a rough life, which makes me want to give her a really loving home. But I worry that she’s not a cat, and she’s not a big dog like Lu, and that somehow we just won’t connect with her.

I had zero plans of adopting a golden retriever puppy this summer and yet, an ad popped up for a litter on a local website I frequent. With golden’s it can be hard to find puppies with a good pedigree and good health. This litter had both, plus they are blondies. It seemed kind of like a sign? Like Lucy pointing me towards this. And yet a puppy, that’s a lotta lotta.

I reached out to a few people I trust and got some excellent advice. In the end though, it’s something we have to figure out on our own. Right now, I’m leaning towards no to the puppy. Delaney is running a fever right now and even dealing with that feels like a lot at this moment. I’m hoping we can meet the small dog, but I also know if we meet her, the girls will want to come home with her. Perhaps we’ll end up waiting there too.

Any advice internets?

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Thank you and some grace

Thank you to everyone who has left a comment, called, texted, emailed, said a prayer, or thought of us over the last few days. I’m not in a place where I can respond right now, just reading them at times is difficult, but please know your support means everything. Truly.

The people I’ve told in person about Lucy have expressed their sorrow, then asked “So how are the girls taking it?” with the look on their face saying they must be crying buckets yes? My very honest answer has been “Actually, they’ve been complete assholes.”

When Maddy died Delaney cried, she slept with her collar, she had nightmares and had to sleep with me, it hit her very hard. Caden too, just not as deeply. But Lucy? All they can talk about is the new dog they want us to adopt. I am broken, and Caden is yelling at me because she wants me to buy her yet one more thing and is pissed that I won’t. I can’t even.

We have had several heart to hearts about thinking of others, respecting someone else’s sadness, and remembering Lucy before we move on. I think I finally got through to them yesterday. When I picked them up Caden asked how I was feeling and if I missed Lucy. Amy and Matt came over for dinner (saviors!) and the girls didn’t mention a new puppy a single time.

I’m going to give them some grace and allow that maybe, this grief was more than they could manage and they didn’t know how to process it. Lord knows, that’s the case for me. And so we talked about how it was okay to miss Lu, and it was okay to cry about that, and that it was okay to be sad. I’d rather they be sad and cry with me, then act like she had never been there. Please don’t ever forget Lu. She was the best, she deserves more than that. I think those words are finally sinking in with them, and hopefully the rest of our week will go much better.

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Lucy, the end

my lucy

Oh man. This post is hard to write. I completely jinxed myself when I said that Lucy was recovering and doing well. She spent Friday at the vet and was noticeably both better and worse. Her incision wasn’t bleeding anymore, but she was refusing food and was having serious difficulty walking or putting any weight on her back legs.

I spent all of Friday evening just sitting next to her, trying to let her relax and get some rest. She ate a little, enough to take her medicine, but was refusing most food. Saturday morning I got up early and tried the food again. No go. She was clearly in pain, she couldn’t walk at all, and with her refusal to eat, all the signs were there. We already had an appointment at the vet, so I called ahead and told them her condition.

For some reason, I sent a text out to a few family members to tell them we were taking Lucy in. I knew we needed prayers and support for the morning, and my parents ended up driving in to be with us at the appointment. My mom and I were with Lucy until the end, and I made sure her final moments were of me telling her I loved her. She is running through fields, jumping off docks, and chasing tennis balls that she can actually see now. While I am beside myself with grief that she’s gone, I am also so happy that she is finally not in pain.

I have tried to keep it together in front of the girls, but when I’m alone, I have cried so hard I hyperventilated. To lose my sidekick, my ever present partner in crime, is something I cannot comprehend right now. When I come home tonight and her smiling face doesn’t greet me at the top of the stairs, well, I can’t even think about that now.

Lucy was such a social dog. I always laughed that an introvert like me had two extroverted daughters, and extroverted dog and an extroverted cat. She was never more happy than when she was around a bunch of people. She loved those two years when we had a nanny, and she had company in the house all the time. I remember a few months ago when we were painting the walls grey. We were in the dining room which is small anyway, and she plopped down in the worst possible spot. She was *right* in the way. My dad said “Lucy! Get out!” and I laughed. I told him you can’t say that to her, that she would leave but come right back. He laughed, but we all watched as she dutifully got up and walked out of the dining room, through the living room, into the kitchen and right back into the dining room where she lay down in the exact same spot.

God help the next dog we get, she has some big shoes to fill.

Lucy, I know you know, but I should never have done that surgery. I thought it might give you some pain free final months, but all it did was push you over the edge. I’m sorry. Forever sorry. I love you to Pluto and back baby girl.

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Update

Lucy went into surgery at 9:30 yesterday, I got a call at 10:05 from the vet. They had made the incision, but the tumor was entangled with the muscle. She described it as dark, with a blood supply and nerves tangled in it. To remove it would mean removing the muscle, more than Lucy could handle at this age. She recommended closing her back up and I agreed.

It was a long day at work.

After work I picked up the girls then picked up Lucy. She was weak but walking on her own. I will give myself credit for doing all of my crying by myself, and holding it together completely at the vet. I even asked all the questions I wanted to ask.

Here’s what we know. Lucy’s blood work is completely normal and since they didn’t remove anything, her recovery should be much easier.

And what we don’t know? We have no idea if the tumor is cancer. Googling got my lots of cancer websites though, so I’m assuming it is, although wouldn’t her blood work reflect that? Shaving the area where the tumor is has made it very obvious just how large the tumor is. Considering the fact that it’s growing, I can only imagine it is just a matter of time before she has little use of that leg. What decisions we make beyond that are unknown.

More than anything I just hope that we can recognize when enough is enough for her.

Sorry, I didn’t plan on posting more than a few sentence update on Lu, but I’m emotionally drained from the day and she is consuming all my thoughts.

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Lucy, again

afterlight

A month or so ago I took Lucy into the vet. I thought she had an ear infection, but I also wondered if something else was wrong. She just wasn’t herself. They looked her over and concluded she did have an ear infection, but that it was also time to remove the tumor on her back leg. It’s been there for a while and we’ve been keeping an eye on it, but it’s now impeding her mobility and making her more than a little miserable.

The tumor is right by (under?) the muscle of her back leg. It affects her strength, which affects her ability to squat or get up when she’s laying down. It’s grown significantly in the last few months, and is now very noticeable when you’re looking at her.

We briefly debated even doing the surgery considering her age, but the agreement was that the benefits to her quality of life outweighed the risks. So this morning we dropped her off to have the surgery. We’ve done this before. She had another large fatty tumor removed in 2013. This tumor isn’t as big, but will likely be as involved of a recovery. I’ll work from home on Thursday, and will try to make it a short day in the office on Friday.

If you’re the praying sort, we really need the surgeon to be able to remove as much of the tumor as possible. We don’t have a good idea of where the tumor is exactly, and I’m hoping it isn’t tangled up in muscle or arteries.

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Lucy and her meds

Lucy has been taking her prozac for a little over seven weeks now, so I thought I would update on how things are going.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. Why did I ask for Lucy, a dog, to be put on prozac? Because she’s an incredibly anxious dog, and that has only gotten worse with age, and with Madison dying. She licks her paw to the point that it bleeds, she paces, she constantly follows me around the house. It was clear that it was interfering with her daily life, and I wanted to do what I could to make her day to day better.

She’s on 20mg of fluoxetine daily. I think our vets are a little on the naive side about this drug. There was no discussion of starting doses, or what possible side effects to look for. They simply gave me a two month prescription and sent me on my way. We were lucky in that I’m a researcher by nature, and Lucy didn’t have any adverse reactions.

My research indicated that adverse reactions would show quickly, but that the prozac wouldn’t really affect her anxiety for 6-8 weeks. Early on I looked for a decreased appetite and a lack of energy. She displayed neither of those. She also wasn’t licking her paw like she used to, but she was recovering from her surgery, so I’m not sure how much that played into things.

Two weeks ago we were watching tv and Lucy was laying on the floor quietly looking at us. I turned to Delaney and said “What’s wrong with Lu? She’s just staring at us.” That’s when I realized, she’s relaxed! Her anxiety was lowered and she could just sit and chill. It was working. She hasn’t licked her paw once since we started it either. That is huge for her!

Easter weekend we were at my aunt’s house and my parent’s house and she definitely needed to be close to me both days. I had hoped she would crash somewhere in a corner and sleep, but no luck, so not all of her anxiety is gone. On a daily basis though, it is much more manageable.

The only downside I’ve noticed is that her core body temperature seems to be a little higher. She’s always been a hot dog, but she seems to be even hotter now. The other night the house was at 63 when we were going to bed and she was panting. Yesterday when I picked her up from the groomer I saw a cooling bed for dogs. I will definitely pick that up before summertime for her, it will be essential this year.

At this point she’ll stay on this long term until the downsides are greater than the upsides.

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Not Healing Well

photo (5)

Lucy has her follow up appointment this morning. Her surgery was over two weeks ago, so by this time everything should be healed up nicely. Should. There are still two stitches remaining, but the wound from the tumor is not healing well. I’ve kept a sock on her foot, and twice I’ve thought things were healing, but then the sock is off for five minutes and everything is opened back up again. I finally got smart and bought some self adhesive gauze wraps. But, she hated those more than the sock, and chewed them off in the middle of the night.

At this point, I’m hoping to only get yelled at mildly by the vet. Maybe I’ll just get the side eye? There’s no way they’ll be happy. We’re doing the best we can though. She doesn’t tolerate the e-collar, what else can I do?

eta: We did not get yelled at! And we even got my favorite vet. New skin is growing, so she’s happy. I need to keep things wrapped up for at least another week, and we go back in two weeks. If we can get even just a few more days of solid healing without Lucy licking it back open, we’ll be good. Yeah!

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Not how I wanted to start my week

Yesterday morning I could hear Lucy licking her paw, which couldn’t mean anything good. I looked at it and realized she had gotten out at least three of the stitches, only two remained. We hauled her to the vet after the girls got off the bus and sure enough, they wanted to put her under anesthesia to suture things up again. OF COURSE THEY DID.

I like my vet, but they want to do every surgery, every everything. Yes the wound is open, but put her under? Really? Delaney only needed topical lidocaine for her stitches! After getting lectured for not making her wear her e-collar, I flat out told her no. She got an injectable antibiotic shot ($109!!) and we were on our way. Lucy will now be wearing a sock over her foot for the foreseeable future.

As I’m paying, I asked the girls to walk Lucy over and get a basket so we could get her more canned food. Caden got wrapped up in the middle of things and almost tripped, and then Lucy decided to say hello to all the people. The vet tech ladies thought it was all hilarious. Welcome to my circus.

On the way to the food we passed the cats and yikes, there was a very pretty kitty in there that looked like a grey/white version of Madison. I snapped her picture just in case I change my mind about getting another cat. The card said she likes to cuddle…

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The State of Lucy

lucy

After Lucy got sick last year, her health has gone slowly but steadily downhill. Her arthritis got worse, and the heat from the summer about did her in. She’s 13 now, which for a golden retriever is old. Even though we’re at the vet fairly frequently, I’m never super sure how she’s doing.

After Madison died, her anxiety ratcheted up about 10 notches. The day we took Madison in she was a ball of nerves, pacing constantly and not leaving my side. She knew something was wrong. After, she just wasn’t herself. I even told my mom I thought she would go downhill quickly because she just seemed so lost without Maddy. (Maddy was the alpha in our house, which given the size of the two of them is hilarious, but so it went.)

Right now she takes Rimadyl (advil for dogs) twice a day, and glucosamine and prozac in the morning. I have a lot of anxiety about how much pain she’s in. She’s a dog, so it’s her nature to not show pain. My only real tell is if she lays on her side and snores while she sleeps. Then I know she’s relaxed. But, if she lays on her belly, I always wonder.

As far as the prozac goes, I won’t know if it’s helping her anxiety for another month or so. I’m praying it does, because she needs a break there. We’ve also been taking her for short walks, which also seems to help. A little exercise goes a long way for her.

On top of everything else, I had her groomed in February and the groomer found a bump/tumor on her paw. I watched it for about a week, then took her in to have it checked out. It’s hairless and hard, so of course they thought cancer immediately. We had a sample checked, but of course it was inconclusive, trending more towards cancer. The doctor wanted it removed, but I said why? If it is cancer, I’m not doing chemo. Beyond that, why put her through a surgery at her age? But, the vet said that removing the tumor would likely remove all of the cancer, and could give her a few more years.

A few more years? Never in my wildest dreams did I think she would even make it through the summer. I’ve been living like she could die any day. Yes we cherish her and love her, but I’m also a complete stressball 99% of the time because I can’t imagine going through all of that again so soon. I realized that I needed to change my attitude, and believe that she does have a few more years with us. Not only would it take some of the stress off of me, but I feel like I’ll stop treating her like an invalid.

And so, we are going with our new outlook. The surgery is scheduled for the Monday of spring break. It will be traumatic for her, so at least we’ll be home with her for the week. After that, I’m hoping for a summer of walks and plenty of swimming.

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Sunset Silhouette

sunset 2

I love sunset pictures, especially silhouettes. I’ve played around with them a few times this summer when we’re at the lake. I often have an idea in my head of the shot I want, but with sunsets you have such a limited time plus mosquitoes are out, that I usually fire off a few and then call it good. This time I played around a little.

I didn’t do as much tweaking with this image as I did with the next. I did crop out a bunch of dock/boats on the left edge, which really helped. I love the oranges, and I love how close the girls are standing here. I feel like it really captures their friendship.

sunset

After I got a few of just the girls, we threw Lucy into the mix. She was not a willing participant! But Delaney held onto her collar and I clicked as fast as I could. I’m probably a little too close to them here, but I love this picture of the three of them. I made the sky a little more purple and brightened things up a bit to try something different. Overall, I think I like the editing on the first picture better.

I think over Labor Day weekend I’ll try to get one of Lucy running along the shore, just her. I’ll have a few nights and with some treats, I should be able to get that right? Oh! Or maybe the girls chasing her? A little action.

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