About twenty-four hours ago, I sent Bill an email letting him know that Arran managed to jump up on our new “tall” mattress. I had just put a new mattress topper on the bed, making it taller than usual. Realizing that Arran, our sweet rescue beagle, who had been battling lymphoma for the past six months, would have trouble navigating the new height, I ordered him some steps from Amazon. They haven’t arrived yet, but Arran won’t be able to use them. We lost him this morning.
Last night, after I showed Bill the new lighting I got for our bedroom and my office, we had a very ordinary dinner. Arran begged for some of our burgers and fries. Then he crawled under the table and fell asleep. When he got up awhile later, he was very dazed and moved slowly, as if he’d had some kind of stroke. Arran had experienced some “seizure like” spells in the past. He always got over them very quickly. This time was different, as he wasn’t snapping out of the dazed state he was in. We took him upstairs to bed, and he slept mostly peacefully, with a few panting episodes. Bill spent most of the night being nudged to the edge of the mattress.
This morning, Arran didn’t wake up super early, like he’s been doing since he started his chemo. When I went in to see if he was okay, he gave me a weary look. I immediately realized that the downward spiral I had been anticipating was well in progress. I told Bill I thought Arran might need his help getting off the bed. Bill coaxed him, not wanting to pick him up, because he had a large tumor on his side that was hurting him. He finally jumped off the bed and slowly went downstairs and outside, where he took a long whiz and had some diarrhea. Then he moved very slowly back into the house and turned circles for about forty-five minutes, before he finally relaxed and laid down on his dog bed.
Bill and I had the talk we’ve been dreading… First there was the pragmatic. We have to go out of town next week, and the hotel where we’re going couldn’t accommodate Arran. As of today, the reservation is non-refundable. I didn’t like the idea of boarding Arran, since he had come to hate being boarded. I also didn’t want the staff at pension to have to deal with Arran’s sickness.
Then there was the obvious. He was at least 14 years old, and he’d been enduring chemo treatments since October. You can see from my posts that he did extremely well and fought very hard. And up until the bitter end of his life, he was very much enjoying being with us. He’d even started being nicer to Noyzi. But death is part of life… and I did not want Arran to suffer any more than he had to. He had developed another tumor on his belly, and the lymph node under his jaw had gotten bigger.
And finally, we just realized that he was very, very tired… and there was nothing we could do to make him better. Anything the vet might do today would only prolong what we all knew was coming. So we called her and brought Arran in… I had to carry him into the office, although he managed to walk out of the house on his own. He didn’t protest when I put him in or took him out of the car, and he was very patient as the vet took a look at him and agreed that it was time to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge.
Still, even up to the very end, he was fighting. The vet gave him anesthetic and remarked that he was a very strong dog. It took a long time for him to get sleepy, and like his fierce predecessor Flea (RIP 2009), he took some time leaving us. He did NOT want to die. Or maybe, he just didn’t want to leave Bill, who was his very favorite person. We stayed with him until he was on his way to see Zane… Zane died in the very same room on August 31, 2019.
We thanked our wonderful vet, who really did her very best for Arran. And then I gave him a teary kiss on the top of his head and said, “Goodbye…” Somehow it seems especially fitting that our unique and amazing dog Arran, named after a gorgeous island in Scotland after we lost his predecessor, MacGregor, should die on St. Patrick’s Day…
Below are some photos from our ten fantastic years together… This dog, born of humble origins, and meant to be a hunting dog in North Carolina, got to move to Germany and visited France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He loved every minute of being Bill’s very best friend… besides me, of course.
I think Arran has already given us a sign that he’s okay. As we were driving down the road to our house, R.E.M.’s song, “Shiny, Happy People” came on the radio. Yes, it’s kind of a sarcastic take on Utopia, but somehow, it kind of fits. If you knew Arran, you could easily understand why.
We’re going to miss him so much. There’s already a massive hole in our hearts… and our home.
I don’t want to write a super long post today. Bill got home last night, and we have today to enjoy before he has to leave again tomorrow afternoon. He’ll be gone until Wednesday of next week, so this part of his “TDY” (temporary duty yonder) will be shorter. I’m grateful for that, because I always miss Bill when he’s gone, and because we still worry about Arran’s cancer suddenly going south.
Arran, by the way, is still doing well, except for the peach sized tumor that has formed on his left side. We’re going to Stuttgart for a few days in a couple of weeks to see our dentist. Hopefully, Arran can hang on through that time, or if he can’t hang on, he will go south at a time when Bill is here. As of right now, though, he’s still pretty vibrant. He wants to eat, take walks, snuggle with Bill, and sleep in our bed.
So… on with today’s topic. This week, the world learned that there’s a new prince and princess in our midst. That’s right– Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have announced that their daughter, Lilibet Diana, was christened. And she’s now going to be known as Princess Lilibet. Likewise, her older brother, Archie, will be known as Prince Archie.
In spite of the recent strife between Harry and his British royal family, the Palace has confirmed the change in status. In fact, as I write this post, I’m looking at the official Web site for the British Royal Family, and the change has already been made.
What was my initial reaction to this news? Well, to be honest, I kind of groaned. I understand that as the grandchildren of King Charles III, Archie and Lili are entitled to be known as “prince” and “princess”. However, for the past several years, the whole world has heard endless griping from Harry and Meghan about how damaging and racist the royals are.
Harry has written a tell all book about his upbringing, with many shocking details about what it was like to be Prince Harry. Meghan has said that she felt “suicidal” when she was in the thick of royal duties for a short time. So why would they want to visit the burden of royal titles on their two young children? Especially when in the United States, those titles don’t amount to much of anything. There is no monarchy in the United States. Of course, a lot of us Americans enjoy watching the royals…
To be very plain, I think this move was calculated as Meghan desperately tries to stay relevant somehow. I’ve mentioned many times before that she makes my N chimes ring… and while I won’t say definitively that she’s a narcissist, I do recognize the signs and symptoms. I don’t think Harry is a narcissist. I think he’s being influenced by his wife. I also suspect that their story won’t have a very happy ending. But I could be wrong. We’ll see.
In any case, I hope the royal titles don’t result in Archie and Lili being bullied by their American contemporaries. Kids just want to belong, and fit in with their friends. Royal titles make sense to certain adults, but I suspect kids won’t be so impressed. I don’t know how factual the depiction of King Charles’s time at Gordonstoun School was on The Crown, but I do remember the show depicting him as being severely bullied because he was a prince.
Some people think it’s time to abolish the monarchy anyway. It’s certainly a controversial idea, as Brits love tradition. I just find it puzzling that after all of the complaining Harry and Meghan have done about Harry’s family, they want to include their children in what they’ve repeatedly claimed is such a toxic entity. It kind of reminds me of how Ex had nothing but horrible things to say about Bill, yet still wanted to be part of his family. Very dysfunctional.
I suspect the timing of this announcement, which was on International Women’s Day (March 8), is very deliberate. As we all know, Harry and Meghan were recently brutally roasted on South Park. Comedian Chris Rock has also had a go at them on his Netflix special. King Charles III also evicted the couple from Frogmore Cottage, where they haven’t lived in years, anyway.
The couple is not particularly well liked in the United Kingdom, and I suspect they are quickly losing their appeal in the United States. Adopting royal titles on behalf of their children seems pretty tacky and tone deaf to me, even if the titles are the children’s birthrights. Seems to me it would be better to wait until the children are grown, and allow them to choose for themselves if they would like to be saddled with the burdens of royal life.
I guess it doesn’t surprise me that Harry and Meghan are now kind of backpedaling about their condemnation of the British Royal Family. Charles is about to have his coronation in May, so that also makes this announcement also rather strategic. Naming the children as prince and princess keeps the couple in the news…
Anyway, they aren’t my kids, and aside from it being in the news, it has no bearing on my life. I won’t lose any sleep over it. I just think it kind of goes against Harry’s and Meghan’s narrative… it kind of smacks of desperation and hypocrisy. I fear the children could ultimately suffer for it… or worse, they could make other people suffer as they grow up with royal titles that set them apart in a country where the titles are mostly meaningless.
Also… it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Lili eventually adopts her grandmother’s name and starts going by Diana. Her mother, after all, goes by her middle name. Meghan’s first name is actually Rachel. I can totally see it. And I bet it wouldn’t be Lili’s idea, either. But we’ll see what happens… Maybe someday, this couple will no longer be in the news. One can only hope.
Regarding today’s featured photo… Did you know that you can buy fake pregnancy tests on Amazon.de that always come up positive? This is supposed to be a “practical joke”… Seems like they could be used for more nefarious purposes, too…
“Well, howdy there, Internet people…” to quote Beau of the Fifth Column. I hope you had a pleasant President’s Day. I was really struggling with writer’s block yesterday, so after I posted about our delightful Sunday dinner at a German castle, I reposted a couple of articles from 2018. I thought I might come back and write something new later, but Bill and I ended up hanging out with sweet Arran. Arran has lymphoma and has been on chemo since October. The chemo is no longer working quite as well as it was, and I fear we will have to say goodbye to him before much longer.
I dread saying goodbye to Arran. He’s been part of our lives since January 2013, and he’s an incredible dog. Losing him is going to hurt a lot. But, on the other hand, I look forward to not having to worry about canine cancer so much for awhile. We do still have Noyzi, but he’s still fairly young. I also want to go on vacation, and that’s harder to do when your dog is getting chemo. I guess the main thing I feel, though, is that this is part of life. Prolonging the inevitable isn’t productive in the long run.
Aside from hanging out with Bill at home, which we probably wouldn’t have been doing if not for Arran’s cancer, we had a fairly uneventful holiday weekend. I noticed a lot of scuttlebutt about pregnancy rumors. There’s talk that Meghan Markle might be pregnant with her third child. Some people never believed that she was ever pregnant with Prince Harry’s children, Archie and Lilibet, let alone with another baby now. There’s an especially icky rumor that Meghan “lacks the necessary parts” to have babies. I’m not sure I believe that. But then, it’s not really my business.
Lots of people on H.G. Tudor’s channel are commenting about this “news”. I do remember Harry had said that he would only be fathering two children, due to his concerns about the environment. People are commenting on everything from Harry’s claim that he only wanted two children, Meghan’s “real” age, and how she might actually be older than 41 (sister Samantha has said Meghan is, in fact, 41), to claims that Meghan had a hysterectomy years ago, supposedly due to her having had multiple abortions.
I don’t know how true any of that is… Actually, even though I am not a fan of Meghan’s, I find the constant speculation about whether or not she still has all of her female parts, fertility (or lack thereof), real parentage of her children, and her “actual age” kind of disgusting. I think that kind of mean-spirited speculation only gives credence to the Harkles’ claims that people are being “evil” to them. It’s probably best to just ignore them… give them what they claim they want– PRIVACY.
But, of course, the Harkles won’t go away, and we keep seeing them in the news. I will admit to being part of the problem, since I read Harry’s book and reviewed it on this blog. I also read and reviewed Tom Bower’s book about Meghan and Harry. They are kind of fascinating, in a trainwreck sort of way. I don’t know if Meghan is pregnant. I don’t actually care that much. What I think is interesting is the commentary about why the rumor may be circulating– perhaps even at Meghan’s hands.
H.G. Tudor’s commentary regarding the narcissistic uses of pregnancy is especially interesting to me. Because, as he rightly points out, Meghan being pregnant right now would be fortuitous timing, as King Charles III is about to be coronated. A potential new Sussex could possibly make the adults in the British Royal Family more interested in reconciliation with Harry and Meghan.
Personally, I think Meghan and Harry went too far with the British Royal Family and are desperate to maintain ties. Talk of gestating a baby, real or imagined, is one way to do that. It could also explain why Meghan hasn’t been out and about so much lately.
Well, I suppose time will tell. People on H.G. Tudor’s channel are already saying that Meghan will eventually have a “mythcarriage”. Clever turn of words that is… and I suppose it’s pretty plausible. It would garner attention and public sympathy, too. But maybe she won’t. Maybe she really is pregnant. While it’s not as common for women in their 40s to get pregnant, it does happen. Sometimes, it even happens by accident. But, as I’ve never been pregnant myself, I don’t really know.
Moving on… I would like to write about another attention seeking woman who is currently being buzzed about in the Duggar Family News Facebook group. I’m writing about Jill Rodrigues. Now… I don’t actually write very often about the Rodrigues family, even though I recently got a nasty comment from someone who claimed I was condescending and hateful to Jill and David Rodrigues’s pregnant daughter, Kaylee. For the record, I mostly try not to be hateful– especially to or about people with whom I don’t have any personal dealings. I will admit, though, that I am human. Sometimes, the snark does slip in on occasion. And folks, when it comes to Jill Rodrigues, it’s kind of easy to be snarky.
Jill Rodrigues was reportedly born on November 3, 1978. That means she’s 44 years old. She has 13 children, with her husband, David. David was born on May 29, 1972, meaning he and I are the same age. I know that one’s 40s and 50s is not the prime time to be making babies, but modern medicine is miraculous.
Jill’s eldest child, Nurie, is married to Anna Duggar’s brother, Nathan, and together, they have two very young sons. Jill’s daughter, Kaylee, is also married and currently pregnant. Jill recently announced that her son, Timothy, is now in a “courtship” with Heidi Coverett. This is a lot of exciting news for the “Rodlets”, as they are sometimes called by fundie snarkers. Perhaps Jill was feeling a bit left out, as she posted this announcement on her Instagram, and it was shared in the Duggar group (I am not on Instagram myself, so I didn’t find this on my own).
I have taken the liberty of editing out the children’s faces in these photos…
Alas, it was not to be, and hopes and dreams are cruelly dashed as Jill announces a miscarriage of her 14th child…
Ahem… If Jill Rodrigues really was pregnant and has suffered a miscarriage, then I am truly sorry for her loss. I would not wish that on any woman, regardless of what I might think about them. And, to be honest, I don’t think about Jill very often, but I do see her get posted about a lot due to some of the places I frequent on the Internet. I don’t agree with the way she behaves. A lot of her behaviors set off my cluster B chimes, just as Meghan Markle’s do. But if she was pregnant and had a miscarriage, that is legitimately sad news for her.
It’s kind of interesting that this announcement came up as Jill was sharing other big news about her children. I know that when it comes to narcissistic types, sometimes it’s hard to let other people have the spotlight. Pregnancy can be very validating to a vain type of narcissist. Being fertile signifies youth, which might also mean a person is still sexually alluring and attractive.
I don’t find Jill sexually alluring. I’m not attracted to women, and I probably wouldn’t go for her even if I was, because she wears tons of makeup, is a fundie Christian, and sells Plexus. But, I do realize that biologically speaking, heterosexual men are naturally attracted to women who can still reproduce. So, claiming to be pregnant at age 44 could be a stab at trying to stay youthful and attractive.
Again, maybe she really was pregnant. I don’t know if she was, nor do I even really care, on a personal note. I just find attention seeking, narcissistic behavior very interesting.
On another note, many people in the Duggar group were commenting on how the little child in the photo is holding on to Jill’s pee stick with both hands. Will the child’s hands be washed after the photo op? One would hope so. Adding to the intrigue are the messages that were supposedly written by Jill’s already born children, comforting her after her loss. This message was connected to the above photos of the very small grandchildren holding Jill’s pregnancy test and announcing that they are going to get a new aunt or uncle.
Many people in the Duggar Facebook group speculate that, in fact, Jill wrote those “messages” supposedly given to her by her children. Again, I don’t know if she did or not, but even if the kids did write them, posting it on her busy social media pages, for strangers to see, does seem to be a very needy ploy for attention. I also know, from the posters in the Duggar group, that Jill doesn’t like it when people question her sincerity. She has a habit of blocking people who are “negative”.
I’m certainly not in the position of knowing whether the pregnancy claims regarding either of these 40-ish women are true or not. I know that some women can get pregnant naturally after age 40, but it’s not necessarily easy or particularly common to do so. I think the ones who get pregnant in their 40s probably had medical help of some sort. But that’s not the kind of thing that most people want to talk about openly.
Pregnancy can be a great way to stir up attention and buzz, though, especially when the mom is “older”. It’s kind of an old trick. I saw it somewhat often when I used to hang out in a certain online “pink” site for second wives and stepmoms. Certain women would announce that they would soon be hearing the “pitter patter” of little feet, only to announce a miscarriage later. Then they would “drink up” all of the attention from other women who were kind and sympathetic to their pain. I suppose if you think about it, the need for attention on that level is kind of sad and… painful. Especially for women who are of a certain age. 😉
Recently, I have been dealing with a little mid life crisis myself. Sometimes I do think about the fact that I don’t have children… and instead, I have dogs, who get cancer and die. :'( But, on the bright side, I don’t have to send them to college or get them fitted for braces. And dogs are an ever flowing fountain of love, loyalty, and regard toward those who bring them into their families and take good care of them. I have never regretted a single dog adoption… except for one, and that was an exceptional case. That dog never actually made it into our house, either.
I guess, if I feel anything sad about aging, it’s that I feel like I haven’t amounted to much and have disappointed other people. But that’s probably a futile and pointless thought, since when it comes down to it, most people are pretty fixated on themselves. So, at this point, it probably doesn’t matter too much. At least I managed to marry well, right? 😉
Anyway, if Jill Rodrigues is recovering from a miscarriage, I wish her all the best. And if Meghan Markle is pregnant, I wish her a happy and healthy pregnancy. If these two ladies are just trying to gin up attention, sympathy, and buzz, though, then I wish for them to find good mental health help. That kind of behavior is truly pathetic, and it has far reaching consequences for innocent people.
I wasn’t going to share the featured photo, until I realized that it was dated December 24, 2021, which was a week before Betty White died… Eerie! I’d say that kind of sums up a lot of 2022.
Wow… here we are again at Friday! And it’s the very last Friday of 2022, too. Every year, I’m left amazed anew, when I realize how quickly time passes. The older I get, the faster it seems to go. As I’m sitting here thinking about what I would like to write about today, I decided to look at what I wrote about last year. I see that on December 30, 2021, I wrote one of my most popular blog posts– one I wrote about a 2008 French documentary titled America’s Broken Dream. For some reason, a lot of people have hit that post since I wrote it a year ago. I’ve even gotten some comments from people who aren’t regular readers. A couple of people also asked me to update the post with new information, which I haven’t really done.
I don’t really have any insider information about the documentary, or the people who were featured in it, including Amber and Daniel Carter, a young couple with two small children who seemed to be climbing out of poverty when Daniel got arrested for killing his neighbor. When I wrote that post, I was just inspired by my immediate thoughts, after randomly stumbling on the documentary while messing around on YouTube. A lot of people are still intrigued by America’s Broken Dream, but I’ve pretty much moved on, for now. I will keep allowing comments until the comments close automatically, but I don’t have anything to add at this point. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll be compelled to read more about Amber and Daniel Carter, and find out more about what became of them. They definitely have a story, and people are very interested. But, as I’ve unfortunately discovered, sometimes writing about true crime can lead to unpleasant interactions with people. I’d like to minimize those, if I can.
In August of this year, I decided to disable the Facebook page I used to run for this blog. I had been wanting to do it for awhile, but held off because I knew some readers used it to follow me. It also provided a way for people to contact me privately. I had some concerns about the page, though, because it was so public and difficult to monitor. I thought about circumventing that problem by converting the page into a group, but decided I didn’t want to do that, either. I already run two Facebook groups and I’ve mostly found the experience to be rather thankless and unsatisfying. If I’m honest, I think I’d like to discontinue my wine group, because half the time, it leads to drama and negative interactions with strangers who don’t appreciate what I do. The page was less work to administrate, but it was also a lot less secure. I knew the former tenant from our last home was watching it clandestinely, as a way of monitoring my activities. I don’t worry about her anymore, as the issue that prompted her to surveil me is now resolved… and also, I discovered that, for some reason, she decided to end her life.
So the former tenant stopped being an issue of concern… but then in August, I got a very irate private message from a family member of a true crime victim I had originally written about in 2014. The post was based on newspaper articles from several papers, and comments from a family member who messaged me when I originally wrote about it, in 2014. The irate correspondent apparently saw the repost and didn’t notice the original date of the article, which had been up for YEARS, and actually got little traffic. This person decided to send me a nastygram through the Facebook page, complete with legal threats. For the record, I was not at all worried about her threats. I use Statcounter, which allows me to see how long someone spends on my blog. I could see (and I documented) that she spent about two minutes, missed a lot of details, and was apparently unaware of a number of logistical issues that would have made her legal threats pretty hard to carry out. And if she was really that upset about the content of that post, she would have noticed and contacted me much sooner than eight years after I wrote it.
Nevertheless, even though I was pretty pissed off by her message and did not have to comply with her demands, I decided that the blog post she was upset about wasn’t that important, as no one but her and her associates were even reading it. So I’ve made it private, for now. I also blocked her on Facebook. Then I dismantled the Facebook page for this blog, because I’m not here to take abuse from random people who are upset by my opinions and just want to send me offensive comments privately. My mental health matters too, people. I am a real person, and I deserve to be addressed with basic respect, like anyone does. I will happily hear complaints from people, but I expect to be approached with civility. Those who can’t do that are not welcome here, and will be banned.
Recently, I revisited the post I wrote about that incident. It occurred to me that the poster must have also tried to find the now defunct “contact form page”, which I also disabled for similar reasons. I only got one or two rude responses on that page, but I found that the contact page was problematic because people were leaving comments on posts without identifying them. There were times when I literally didn’t know what they were writing about. If they had simply responded to the post in question, it would have been more useful to everyone.
The irate woman who wrote to me a few months ago had hastily identified which post had gotten her so rattled (after eight years of it being online… REALLY?). She must have been looking for the contact form, found my explanatory post about why I no longer have one, and found the Facebook page instead. Well, she can take a bow, because her abusive rant caused me to permanently ax the Facebook page, too. I can’t say I miss it, or the weird messages it used to attract from everyone from unhinged anti-vaxxers to obnoxious Trump supporters. I would always see them right after I woke up, which is not a pleasant way to start the day. Now, if you want to address something I’ve written, you can do it publicly, so everyone can see your comments and share in the response.
Like I said, I’m not here to take abuse from random people. I have a right to express my opinions, as long as they aren’t defamatory, malicious, or deliberately presenting false information as the truth. And this is my space– which I pay for– so I will run it the way I wish. I think of my blog space in the same way most of you would govern your own homes. You wouldn’t put up with abuse from a guest in your home. I don’t put up with it on my blog. This person also wrote, with evident disgust, that I just do this “for the money”, which really made me laugh. I don’t make money from doing this. I have made some ad revenue, but it’s not even enough to pay for the subscription to WordPress. So, if anyone ever does want to try to sue me to get some of the “big bucks” I supposedly make from sharing my opinions, they’re gonna be disappointed on MANY levels. Below is what I’ve made on WordPress so far… since I started hosting ads in July 2021.
True crime posts do generate a lot of interest, though. I find crime interesting to write about, as they usually involve ordinary people who do extraordinary things. When I use the word “extraordinary”, I mean “out of the ordinary” or “unusual”. I’m not using that word in the normally positive way. Sometimes, I notice people repeatedly hitting posts I’ve written about, and it’s a little creepy. Lately, I’ve noticed my posts about Frederick West Greene are getting a lot of hits. I’m glad I don’t live in the United States– for many reasons, really, but especially because it creeps me out that he’s no longer in prison (as far as I know).
My post about Betty White and misattributing quotes to her was also a big winner this year. I had written about her in late December 2021, not knowing that she would die on New Year’s Eve. A few days later, I wrote a post about how people were “honoring” her by sharing a funny comment that she never made. That post consistently gets hits and the odd share, although no one has commented on it yet. I think it’s one of my better ones, even though I’ve gotten some shit from people for having issues with misattributed quotes, too. One guy got so angry about a post I wrote that he blocked me on Facebook and complained to all his friends, who later hit the post repeatedly and generated some AdShare pennies. Thanks, guys.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a blogger, it’s that people aren’t always going to like what you do. But if all I ever did was write things about hearts and flowers, this blog would be very boring, both for me as a writer, and for you as a reader. Besides, that’s just really not me. I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of person. I think if I were that kind of person, I would probably be a lot more miserable than I actually am. Because it wouldn’t be natural for me to be so cheery and positive. It’s not in my DNA. Seriously… read some of my posts, and you know I come from a long line of the miserable… but talented. We’ve got lots of funny, talented, artistic people in my family. Lots of attractive people, too. Too bad I didn’t get the gene for being thin and athletic. SIGH.
2022 has been interesting. I would say it hasn’t been as bad as last year. At least most of the stupid pandemic restrictions went away, although I haven’t been traveling more or even going out much, hence my low earnings on the travel blog. That’s mostly because of our dog, Arran, who has cancer and will likely be leaving us sometime in the new year. I am trying to prepare for his exit, because I know it will hurt. But I also know that once he’s gone, there will be new opportunities… for travel, for making new human friends (which often happens when one adopts a pet), for new canine teachers, and for new overall wisdom. Death is just something that simply happens to everyone, at some point. It hurts, but it’s a necessary part of life. Arran has taught us a lot, and continues to teach us everyday. I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned from him was reiterated yesterday, when Bill came home from work. You can see, he taught Noyzi, too… And I think he’ll tell us when he’s done teaching and ready to move on to the next place in the universe.
Well, it’s probably time I finished this post and got on with the day. Got to practice guitar, walk the dogs, and work on reading my next book, so I can review it for the interested. Maybe I’ll even record another song. An old high school friend heard a Pat Benatar cover I did the other day… a B.B. King from her one “blues” album, True Love, which she released in 1991. It hasn’t gotten many hits yet, but she said I have a knack for the blues. I believe her, because she was originally a music major at my alma mater before she transferred out and became a therapist. She’s right. I do have a knack for singing the blues… both literally, and in this blog. So I guess 2023 will bring more of the same. I hope a few of you will stay tuned for that. Maybe I’ll make more big bucks from blogging in 2023.
ETA: I forgot to mention, just a couple of weeks ago, I got the most hits I’ve ever gotten in one day when someone on Reddit shared a true crime post I wrote in November 2020 about Jessica Wiseman. It wasn’t even a particularly newsy post, but I probably made $5 because about four thousand people hit it in one day. I grew up near where Wiseman and her boyfriend murdered her parents. She was a juvenile, so she only spent a few years in juvenile hall. Her boyfriend, who was older, but apparently the less guilty of the pair, wound up being executed. I remembered the case and wrote about it, and it got noticed… which is especially notable to me, because it’s definitely not my best work. 😉
The featured photo is of Arran and Bill, just a few days ago… As you can see, they love each other very much. Arran is glad to be here with his favorite person. I’m glad we can afford to treat his cancer and keep him comfortable for a little while longer. And I’m grateful that living in Germany allows this outcome for us.
A month ago, I wrote a post about our decision to treat our dog, Arran, for B-cell lymphoma. I was inspired to write that post after reading an article in the Washington Post about the cost of treating major diseases in pets. The article in the WaPo was written by Kim Kavin, whose dog, Blue, was diagnosed with cancer. She decided to pull out all the stops to treat Blue, and it cost a lot of money. Blue initially responded to the treatment, but then suffered a relapse when the cancer came roaring back with a vengeance. Kavin’s piece ran in the paper, and lots of people had negative opinions about it. I felt badly that she was getting so many brutal comments, so I wrote my own post about our decision to treat Arran.
At this writing, Arran has had six chemo treatments. If we hadn’t done these treatments, I feel pretty sure he would have died by now. When we started the chemotherapy on October 13th, he was starting to get sick. He wasn’t eating much, and looked very sad. He spent a lot of time sleeping, and could barely manage a short walk around the block. Now, he eats, sleeps, takes walks, jumps on the furniture, and tears things up. The chemotherapy hasn’t made him feel sick. The only thing I’ve noticed is that he sleeps a bit after he gets Vincristine and/or Endoxan. But he doesn’t have diarrhea or issues with vomiting. He hasn’t lost his fur. He doesn’t even have to take medication every day. And you’d never know he has cancer.
What has his treatment cost us so far? So far, we’ve paid for six weeks of treatment, which consists of weekly IV pushes of Vinistrine, a chemo drug. He takes two Endoxan pills per week– on Thursdays and Saturdays. Every other day, he takes three 5 milligram tablets of Prednisolone. This regime will continue for another two weeks, and then it will change to one that is less extreme. Total cost here in Germany? Still less than 1000 euros. And he feels much better with a great quality of life, while we’ve been able to enjoy his company for a little bit longer. I think he’ll make it to his tenth anniversary with us. That’s all we could have ever hoped for.
A couple of days ago, The Atlantic ran a story titled “How Much Would You Pay to Save Your Cat’s Life?”, by Sarah Zhang. The story was about the veterinary hospitals in the United States that give cats kidney transplants to save their lives. Their owners shell out $15,000 for the surgery, which involves using a donor cat’s kidney, implanting it in an often elderly cat. Many times, the owners end up adopting the donor cats, too, as they are typically young and healthy and in need of a home. As it is for most humans, cats can get by just fine with one kidney. In one case, the prospective donor got adopted anyway, when the cat that needed a kidney passed from heart failure before the surgery could be done.
It was noted in the article that kidney transplants are the only transplant surgeries available to cats. The donors are not killed. Apparently, transplants are not yet available for dogs, because “the canine immune system is unusually reactive, leading to kidney rejection.”
Zhang wrote about a 16 year old cat named Strawberry who got a new kidney. Strawberry’s owner did not want to be identified, as she feared backlash from people about the cost. The surgery alone costs $15,000, but with travel, follow-up care, and other costs, it can end up being twice as expensive. And Strawberry’s owner didn’t want to deal with a bunch of negativity about her choice to spend that money. Zhang writes that she interviewed a dozen cat owners who had opted for the surgery and also wanted to remain anonymous. One person quipped, “I wouldn’t think of saying to somebody, ‘Wow, that’s an expensive car,’ But people seem pretty free to say, ‘Wow, you spent a lot of money on a cat.’ ”
I remember the very negative and judgmental comments on Kavin’s article in the Washington Post. I expected to see similar comments on The Atlantic’s article. Much to my surprise and delight, The Atlantic’s readers seem to be a lot more open-minded. Or, at least they aren’t as full of judgmental bile about what people will spend their money on, as well as the mistaken belief that cancer treatment is always unpleasant and leads to sickness, as it often does in humans. And one person wrote a very astute comment, which I think really highlights why people tend to have strong reactions to other people’s choices to treat illnesses like cancer in their pets. Facebook user Isaac Suárez wrote:
The issue is not “is a cat’s life worth saving.” A cat is a companion, to be loved and cared for. There is no shame in wanting to preserve this bond and prevent unnecessary suffering.
Rather, the judgement comes from the fact that some have $15k to burn on pet care while the vast majority of people don’t. I know many people who’d happily pay the price to help a friend; I know very few who have the money to do so.
Sadly, a cat with kidney failure is just one of innumerable occasions where the stark class divide of our country manifests. Instead of talking about “are cats worth the price” we should be asking “why is the price so high” and “why do some people have the freedom to make this choice when the vast majority don’t?” As with many topics covered by Atlantic, the question is misframed and a valuable opportunity to address a visceral and important issue is sidestepped.
Another Facebook user liked Isaac’s comment, and responded thusly:
Brilliant and eloquent response! Its heartbreaking that so many must choose to have their beloved pet euthanized because the treatment cannot be afforded or people take on a hideous amount if debt in order to save their pet. Either way, there is a great deal of needless pain.
I also really related to Isaac’s comment, especially as an American who lives in a country where healthcare and veterinary treatments are much more reasonably priced than they are in the United States. If Bill and I were living in the United States, Arran’s treatment would no doubt cost a whole lot more. It would probably be undertaken at a high speed referral center, rather than at our local vet’s office. And we would be paying much more for his medications, as well as every single thing that would be done for him. We love Arran very much, but we’re practical people. He’s already an old guy. I can’t see us spending many thousands of dollars to keep him going. But in Germany, we can easily afford the treatment, and it makes him feel better. So he gets this comfort care at the end of his life, which will allow him more time with us, and give the vet more valuable experience treating lymphoma. It’s a win-win.
Many Americans resent how some people can afford to provide such advanced care for a pet, while human beings are going without care because they can’t afford it. And yet, so many people continue to vote for the same leaders, who do nothing about this problem. The United States is among the richest countries in the world, yet so many Americans lack the ability to pay for their own healthcare, let alone that of their pet’s. But a lot of us would never bat an eye at buying the latest iPad or tennis shoes. We don’t roll our eyes when a neighbor takes a trip to Hawaii or buys a Tesla. A pet can give a family intangible things that an iPad or a Tesla never can. Why should anyone be ashamed to spend money on their best friends? And why should anyone feel the need to judge someone negatively for making that choice? It’s not as if that person who can afford the advanced veterinary treatment for their dog or cat is going to be paying for their neighbor’s treatment.
I am probably not one of those people who would opt for a kitty kidney transplant, especially on a cat who is 16 years old. But now that I’ve experienced giving a dog chemo, I might opt to do it again for another dog… if I think the dog is well enough to be treated and wants to fight. I would probably pay a fair amount for that option, even if I’m living in the United States, where it will undoubtedly cost a lot more. Here in Germany, it’s a no brainer to give chemo a chance, although not all dogs respond the way Arran has. The response depends a lot on the animal and the type of disease. In Arran’s case, he is resilient, and he has a type of lymphoma that responds to treatment. We have the money. Why not treat it? What makes it any different than treating him for heartworms or diabetes or any other disease that people don’t think twice about treating in their pets? And if someone else has the ability and the desire to pay for advanced treatment for their cat, who am I to judge them? I’m not involved in the aftermath of that decision, and it’s really none of my business.
Anyway… I found Sarah Zhang’s article thought provoking on many levels, especially since we’re dealing with a pet who has cancer now. Arran is our fourth dog to get cancer, but he’s the first one we’ve been able to do anything for… and it really does feel good to do something. I can see, every day, that Arran is glad to be here. No, it’s not fun for him to get intravenous medications every week, but that’s only for about a half an hour. In a couple of weeks, he’ll be getting the IV meds less frequently. We’ll see how long he can make it before it’s time to let him go. I’m just glad we have the luxury of being able to prepare for the end, and enjoying every minute with our beloved Arran. If we weren’t in Germany, I’m not sure we’d have that. This shouldn’t be something that other people judge us negatively for doing, simply because our healthcare system is so fucked up and prices for humans and animals needing medical care are so ridiculously high. It seems to me that Americans ought to be demanding lower healthcare costs. I know that’s the way I’m going to be voting from now on.
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