Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sneak peak of Bellona and Becks

Just one of the many awesome shots of Bellona and Beckett. If only the hubby and I were as photogenic!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In the spirit of Halloween

Last year's Maximus pumpkin. It was so hard to carve, but now in hindsight, all too perfect.

ps- Becks was a scuba diver.

pps- you can get your cool dog stencils here

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The case for pet insurance

Maximus was one in a million and as a result, we spent close to that on his care. I know not everyone could have afforded him this care, but with pet insurance (and care credit), you can eliminate some of the pressure of decisions made based on cost. For some couples, pet insurance keeps the marriage happy as one usually has a higher limit than the other for care. My husband was not a fan of the large vet bills, but he knew when he married me that when it came to care of those I love money is no object provided quality of life is there. If you ever have a few dollars to spare, In Memory of Magic is an organization that is always in need to donations to help provide care for companion animals when their caretakers are financially challenged. This link for a now defunct group has many similar links to help cover costs of medical care for animals and owners in need.

This is not a complete list, but rather the really big ticket items we spent on Maximus in his 8+ years. This does not include the multitude of regular visits, follow ups, or trips for assistance in inducing vomitting to prevent foreign body obstructions. I would happily spend all of this and more for any dog in our care.

* TPLO #1 - $3,500 (at board certified surgeon)

* TPLO #2 - $3,500 (at board certified surgeon)

* Foreign Body Surgery #1 - $3,500 (at emergency vet)

Foreign Body Surgery #2 - $3,500 (at emergency vet)

Foreign Body Surgery #3 - $1,300 (at regular vet and less invasive than prior)

MRI, euthanasia, and private cremation- $3,200 (at neurologist)

* items we did not have insurance for at the time

Total- $18,500

With our Pets Best Insurance, 80% approx. of his recent medical bills were covered. I am thankful to them for not excluding my senior nor dropping us after his repeated foreign body surgeries. If you have ever considered pet insurance, be sure to look around and look for what is included and what is not in each policy. I can personally vouch for Pets Best and am so happy I never once had to consider if we could afford to treat Maximus, because Maximus was priceless. Unfortunately, his nine lives ran out and no amount of money could have changed this outcome.

All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again...

Just need a place to put it out there

Maximus has been gone for 13 days. 13 days worth of thoughts and questions need to come out.

I have tried my best not to Google but when I did, I think my theory has some weight. Given Maximus' serious uptake of ingesting non-food items in this past calendar year I have to wonder/think his brain lesions had something to do with this. There is research out there supporting this. And a part of me wonders that if we had thought of this sooner, could we have had a few more great days with him? When I pressed for answers for his increasing pica, it always came back to me needing more preventions because some dogs were just like this. I felt like a crappy pet owner this past year with our multiple foreign body surgeries and trips to the e-vet. I was *this* close to ordering him a scary muzzle to wear at home. The tape measure I bought to take the measurements of his head sits unopened on my kitchen counter. I don't know what to do with it now. So it sits there reminding me that I miss my dog.

More than missing him, I feel robbed. While Max was technically classified as a senior, he didn't act it and he didn't show any signs of slowing down. I always thought Bellona would be the first to break my heart. I had no time to prepare for my dog to die and the hole it would leave in my heart. I didn't get the opportunity to take him home and spoil him rotten one last time. It's not fair and it hurts. Especially when earlier this week I forgot and went to wake Max for one last potty break before bed before remembering he's gone...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Banana Popsicles

Tillie, we hope dog heaven is full of banana popsicles. Maximus never had one, so please introduce them to him. You can check out his class Sock Eating 101 though something tells me your tastes are more refined.

Today one more angel gains her wings

Please visit Tille on her blog here and send your condolences.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Holiday Bellona

Bellona sporting the bow she wore to our holiday photos this year and working it for a cookie.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Here come the holidays

On Sunday, we are taking our annual photos for our holiday cards. It is really sinking in that Maximus is no longer with us. It sucks. We go all out for our holiday cards thanks to my friends who are pro photographers and donate all of their sitting fees for holiday cards to a local women's shelter. Not to mention it's our once a year chance to have a family photo taken. Being a hobby photographer, I'm never in photos of our home life. Sadly, I think there are maybe only a handful of pics of me with my Max as a result.

I've been thinking of some way to still mention Max without being too weepy for the general public. I think I've come up with a brilliant solution. I am going to use one of my photographs of him and make custom stamps with his cute goofy mug. You can do this here.

Another great way to spread the message of animal rescue is by purchasing Zazzle's holiday stamps in conjunction with the HSUS here. I love the Patrick McDonnell "Mutts" comic strip ones the best.

Last year we incoporated the importance of rescue on the back of our cards stating under the family pic with the beasts that 7-8 million animals are put to sleep every year for lack of a place to call home. Maximus and Bellona encourage you to adopt, don't shop, for your fur-ever best friend. When I have a captive audience, why not share my passion?

So, does anyone else go all out in including their pets in their holiday cards?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In happier times

It's been 1 week today. I am trying my best not to wallow in my sadness for fear it could swallow me whole. I am trying hard to remember the happy times, the times when Max was simply being Max instead of the box of ashes I picked up on Saturday.

Maximus loved the sun tan ledge in the pool. He could not swim, in fact he sunk like a stone, but he jumped into this shallow water even when we didn't want him to. He loved to kick up the water, bite at it, and chase any reflections the sunlight made on the bottom of the pool. He developed a habit of trying to dig to China which I encouraged because it helped file down his front nails. I know he looks fierce in the top photo, but I was having fun with my camera and action shots while Beckett and daddy shot a water gun across the pool to an excited Maximus. I'm so thankful it's fall and we won't be using the pool anymore this year. It just wouldn't be right to be in it and not have Max there to play with.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Bellona isn't quite sure of her new life these days and I can't blame her. She was always alpha even though she is 8 months younger. Without him to keep an eye on, she seems a little lost without him. My lone wolf has certainly been seeking more affection and the extra cuddles are helping us all heal.

My dogs are/were/will always be spoiled. So in a fit of guilt last night I ordered her the water fountain I had been eyeing, a new cover for the bed that was once Max's, and spent a lot of time brushing her teeth last night. Somehow these were all little things on my to do / to purchase list that kept getting bumped by other more important priorities. But now, those trivial things seem much much larger to me. Frankly, I'm petrified my time with her is limited. Her dad passed away of unknown causes at 9. I can't take any day for granted.

Bellona enjoyed destroying a stuffie last night as well. We never allowed them in the house because the risk of ingestion and surgery was simply too great with Max the goat around. Ironically, I grabbed a frog totally forgetting the rubber frog Max once ate and then birthed out whole if you know what I mean. When my friends pointed this out, I had to laugh. It was probably the first time I laughed and had a happy memory. I guess that's progress however fleeting those moments are right now.

Bellona also played with her Nina Ottoson toy. Too bad she's too smart to get as much mental stimulation out of it as I'd like, but she had fun. I hope these little moments help her feel normal again. If you have lost a dog, how did you other dog grieve? What did you do to help ease their unspoken pain?

Friday, October 8, 2010

A boy and his dog

Our morning conversation:

Becks- HA! Look mom, Max's toy in his bowl (placed there recently to slow down his eating and inhaling of food which was increasing due to the unknown brain lesions)
Me- Yep, that's his. Silly dog. (choking back tears)

Becks bounces ball across the tile floor.

Becks- Max can hear that.
Me- That's right he can (openly crying). You know, you can tell him you love him out loud any time you want. He will always be able to hear you.

If only every child was blessed with a Max, what a happy place this earth would be.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What it was like...

We took Becks with us to visit Max. When they walked Max into the room, it was clear to me he was already gone. There were no wags of the tail, no barks demanding to go home, and no kisses to be had. Becks in his very limited understanding of the situation said goodbye to Max not really understanding the meaning despite me explaining that Max was sick, was going to die, and was not going to be coming home. I know that a lot of information for a 3 ½ year old and some parents would make up some happy fluffy story about heaven, but I wanted Beckett to know the truth. With a little prompting, Beckett gave Max a hug (something typically forbidden in our home) and told Max that he loved him super big. Tommy then took Becks to school and I sat with my four legged boy and tried my best to tell him how much we loved him and that we would let him go.

Max was coughing and hacking quite a bit from the kibble they had found in his throat. He panted non stop. His eyes were red and haggard. With every stroke of his body, his legs shook and hair flew everywhere. As I sat with him on the floor, it took a long time of petting him to get him to rest his head on my lap to rest. Somewhere in the middle of all that awfulness, he kissed away my tears. We sat like that for a long time and it was peaceful. When Tommy came back, he brought Bellona. I didn’t want her to wonder where her brother had gone… she had already been skipping meals without him around. He had no energy to greet her and I saw the fear in her eyes- she wanted out of there and fast.

When it was time, we walked Maximus outside into the sunshine. I brought from home his blanket and a pillow. Tommy and Bellona sat at the edge of the blanket; she had her back to us either avoiding the situation or on guard. We spooned in the sunshine and told him what a good boy he was. He wore no collar, and no leash. I offered him his PB kong and he refused. We also had his favorite toy, the one we played fetch with nightly, beside us. At one point, a small dog was walked outside by the staff and Max made no effort to say hello. That right there felt like someone turning the knife inside of us. To know Max is to know the mere sight of a small dog elicited from his an insane amount of whining with excitement.

It was time to say our final goodbyes. Maximus left this world with his head cradled in my arms, my arms tightly around his neck, and every inch of my body pressed tightly to his. I stroked his velvet ear and told him over and over again as he was sedated I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. And then he was gone.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Goodbye Maximus

Maximus, you were one in a million. Which is a good thing because who else could afford to keep up with your antics or vet bills? And really, of all the ways to leave me, you had to choose this over a pair of my tasty underwear or toddler socks? It figures, normal just wasn’t your style you silly goat.

I was blessed to be your mom. You were always the sunshine to my rainy clouds. I was never one for frat boys until I met you. Sweet, silly, goofy you. I have as many wrinkles on my face from worrying about you as I do laugh lines. Swimming next summer just won’t be the same without you jumping in and making waves and trying to dog to China.

You were such a challenge and I’m sure many a person wondered why we kept you or paid those vet bills, and that makes me sad. I would go to the ends of the earth for you and back a million times over. You were worth and more. After all, if I didn’t have you, how would I have ever known I had it in me to be a mom? You were the best training wheels ever. Thanks for letting me make so many mistakes and never holding a grudge against me. I’ll lock that special gift of yours and keep it in my heart forever.

Thank you for being such a good boy and being the BEST dog a little boy could ever have. Sure, you snapped at him a few times, but he totally deserved it… I’ve got your back. Becks is going to really miss you. You know, you were his favorite and rightfully so. The spot next to the chair during story time is going to be sacred ground. I pray his memories of you never fade. And if they do I have pictures and plenty of tales to tell.

I already miss your velvet ears, your cold snout, your wrinkly forehead, and that perfect little patch of brindle that told me just where to pat your booty. The house is going to be very quiet without your snoring, the sound of you chasing after your toys, and your demand barking which never annoyed me because it always reminded me to spend some one on one time with you and take a break from whatever not so important life task I was in the middle of.

And now I will do the kindest thing I can do and let you go even if it means shattering my own heart into a million pieces. I know I can do this for you because as usual, you will make me dig deep to find the strength I didn’t know I had.

We love you Maximus, always and forever, ad infinitum.

Maximus Lee
Loved without measure…
January 24, 2002 – October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Max is having a MRI

He is knuckling on front legs

Can't stand, but has some strength in back legs

Still has deep pain, but is slow to retract on front legs

No poking or prodding in physical exam elicits a pain reaction from him

Dr. concerned with my mentioning his relatively new habit of wandering the house to get water and such at night; I thought old age she thinks maybe a brain tumor as a potential cause.

He was sent off for an MRI. I won't know results until very late tonight, possibly early tomorrow as they only work 8-5. He will be cared for at night by the same emergency docs that have come to know and love him as they share the same space.

MRI's are very expensive. Like $2,500.

Surgery could cost upwards of $5,000 and lasts anywhere from 2-3 hours.

If it's a tumor, we will let him go. I refuse to torture him for our sake with surgery and radiation to buy time.

So, more worrying, crying, and regretting all the things I wish I had just one more day to do with him. I'm just thankful we have insurance because without it, I think we would have to let him go. Just thinking about it makes me want to vomit.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Need good thoughts

Mr. Maximus, my million dollar baby, is severely injured. Something has happened to his cervical spine and he cannot walk well right now. He is at out vet for care- mainly steroids and rest. Tomorrow we take him to the neurologist because he is getting worse instead of better which means surgery might be our only option. Even then, the odds of surgery are somewhat scary. If it's not surgery, it's the big E. I am not prepared.

I can't eat.
I can't sleep.
I can't stop crying.

But the world will not stop for my crisis, so I must complete homework assignments due tonight, and take an exam for school. I have to be a mom and try to not fall apart in front of Becks. I will have to explain to my boy why his dog isn't here. I have to find a way to cope and I really just want to sit in a very dark room, in a very tight small, and wallow in my sadness.

Please think of Max.

Please hug your babies for me.

And please take pictures of them. I am realizing I haven't taken a photo of him in weeks and I may never forgive myself for that.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pity Party

The no kill shelter held a Pity Party last night for our adoptable bullies. I had the easiest most laid back dog ever, Zara, a one of a kind American Bulldog and Cattle Dog mix. I'm not used to having an easy dog on the other end of the leash and let me tell you, I could get used to it and fast! She is going to make a wonderful companion. She's ridiculously soft, nevers jumps, loves to get kisses, loves all dogs of all sizes, and walks well on a leash. To think her time was almost up before the shelter pulled her...

We also had a very special dog among us. This is Mel, saved from the Vick bust. Mel is still a work in progress, but look how far he has come! This poor guy was a bait dog. You can read about him here.

And here are some other pics from the party!

I don't want to kill your happy puppy buzz, so I'll tell you the what kind of person brings their unaltered male bullies to a rescue event story later.

Happy Friday!