dogs, memories, obits

A year without Zane…

We had kind of a scary day yesterday. Our dog, Arran, didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He had a tragic look on his face, seemed to have trouble jumping, and when I touched his back, he yelped in pain. Arran is ten or eleven years old. He’s always been very healthy, but he’s not getting any younger. We also had a rather active weekend. He got walks and went with us to our visit to a winery on Friday night, as well as a day trip to Kallstadt, which is where Donald Trump’s grandparents were from.

Bill was worried enough about Arran yesterday that he took him to Tierklinik Hofheim, which is a really high speed veterinary facility near us. Our former vet down near Stuttgart told me, back when I was struggling with our other dog, Zane, that Tierklinik Hofheim is one of the best veterinary hospitals in Germany. I used to worry about how I would get Zane there, if he needed their services. It’s a good three hour drive from where we used to live. Now, we only live about twenty minutes from Hofheim, and about a year ago, Bill took Zane there and got the devastating confirmation that he had canine lymphoma.

We had hoped for one last month with Zane, but he was gone a week after our regular vet told us she suspected the disease. August 31, 2019 was a sunny, hot day. We found Zane that morning, exhausted and curiously bloated. It turned out he was bleeding internally from a ruptured tumor in his spleen. By noon, we had said goodbye to him. It was very sad for Bill and me, but as dog deaths go, particularly from cancer, it wasn’t as horrible as it could have been. Zane had a good last week. He was able to eat, bask in the sunshine, and even take a couple of walks.

We have now lost three dogs to canine cancer. Zane’s death, while certainly not easy, was much kinder than the deaths of his three predecessors. Our first rescue died of a very rare mycobacterial infection that required special testing by the Virginia Department of Health. Our second had prostate cancer. Our third, wonderful MacGregor, died of a spinal tumor. All three of those dogs endured excruciating pain that was barely touched by pain medications before we helped them to the Rainbow Bridge. I did not get the sense that Zane suffered pain as much as he did exhaustion and discomfort.

It was a terrible shock to lose Zane so quickly after finding out how sick he was. Zane was always a very special dog to me. I’ve loved every dog we’ve had, but Zane and I had an incredible bond. He was like a ray of sunshine most days… always friendly, mostly laid back, often hilarious, and happy almost all the time. He loved to play games and had a comical side to him. He also loved to snuggle, especially in my lap, and he loved running and playing, even though he was kind of fragile and needed a lot of veterinary care over his almost eleven year lifespan.

This is all Zane.

I usually get a new dog about a month after losing one, but this time, it’s taken a lot longer for a lot of reasons. We tried to adopt a new dog a few months ago, but he escaped before he managed to come into our home. I knew he was doomed as I watched him run away. We live close to two Autobahns, and the new dog, who was from Sardinia and apparently not very socialized, didn’t know us. Sure enough, he was killed before twenty-four hours had passed.

Bill and I are now expecting to bring a new dog into our home in about a month. The new dog is from Kosovo and, for now, is known as Noizy. I’m not sure if we will change his name. I don’t always change my dogs’ names when I get them. It depends on how fitting they are to their personalities. I have heard that Noizy isn’t actually very loud, either. Anyway… I expect Noizy will also be special because all dogs are in some way. I have yet to regret adopting a dog. Even the one we tried to adopt in March ended up doing something positive.

First off, the lady who runs the Tierpension where we board our dogs when we take trips thought of Bill and me when a German family “dumped” an elderly cocker spaniel named Maxl. Maxl’s human “dad” had died, and his “mom” was unable to take care of him. Family members brought him to the Tierpension and asked the staff to help them rehome him. Maxl had some health issues that were neglected, plus he’s about twelve years old. A couple tried to take him, but Maxl was too “stinky” and, for whatever reason, they decided not to take him to a vet but, instead, brought him back to the Tierpension.

Since Bill and I had already committed to taking in Noizy and I know that Noizy will probably cause angst for Arran, we declined to take Maxl. However, I did share Maxl’s information in one of several Facebook groups I joined because of the dog that escaped. I had been wanting to spread the word and ended up staying in the groups. A group member in the Pets of Wiesbaden group decided she could take in Maxl, and within a couple of days, he was in his new home. If not for the dog who got away, I probably never would have joined that Facebook group because my experiences with Facebook groups in Stuttgart had kind of soured me on them– especially the ones affiliated with the U.S. military.

And secondly, there’s Noizy, who’s about two years old and was found wandering the streets of Kosovo when he was a small puppy. He’s missing most of his tail and part of an ear. His rescuer thinks maybe some kids mutilated him. I haven’t met Noizy in person yet, but I’ve seen many pictures and videos. I have a feeling we’re going to get along fine, although Arran may not be too happy to have to share us with a new friend.

As for Arran… he seems somewhat better today. We are going to take him to the vet. He’s due for a checkup anyway, and we’re going to update some vaccines that we stopped giving after he had a mast cell tumor. Zane also had mast cell cancer and that was probably what led to the lymphoma, but Zane’s mast cell cancer was much worse and more active than Arran’s was. Arran just had one lone tiny tumor that was low grade. That was five years ago, and he’s not had another since. Zane, on the other hand, had lots of lumps and some systemic involvement. He held on for three years until lymphoma took him– lymphoma often strikes dogs who have had mast cell tumors. It’s not recommended to give vaccines to dogs who have had mast cell cancer, although we have kept giving the rabies vaccine because it’s the law. Since both dogs had mast cell tumors, we stopped most vaccines for both of them. Arran hasn’t had another tumor, so he’s probably alright to get boosters now.

I still think about Zane every day. The house has seemed kind of empty with just one dog around, although it’s also been peaceful and Arran has kind of morphed into a better behaved dog. But Arran is mostly Bill’s dog. Bill is Arran’s favorite person, even though Arran does his best to pay attention to both of us. All you have to do is look at the many photos I’ve posted of Arran and his habit of worshipping Bill every day. I don’t need to be worshipped… neither does Bill… but it would be nice to have a dog of my own to snuggle while Arran basks in his love for his “daddy”.

Hopefully, Noizy will like me as much as Zane did.

Anyway… for those who are curious, here are a couple of videos I made to remember Zane. They show his progression from adorable “teenaged” pup, who was originally named Einstein and fresh from Atlanta Beagle Rescue, to venerable old man living in Germany and acting like a brilliant canine ambassador. We were very privileged to know him and have him in our lives from December 13, 2009 until August 31, 2019. Sometimes, it even feels like he’s still hanging around.


God forbid I say that out loud…

Today’s post is a bona-fide rant. And no, I’m not “mad”. I’m irritated and annoyed, as usual. This is just a vent.

This morning, I read a very depressing (to me) article about how to train children to wear face masks. The tips were in The New York Times, and they were accompanied by pictures of adults trying to coax little kids into tolerating masks at school. Even though I don’t have children, and thus, have no skin in the game, I read the article and looked at the pictures. Then, against my better judgment, I left a comment on the Facebook page for the New York Times. I wrote “How depressing.”

It is depressing to me that small children have to worry about coronavirus at a time when they should be free to explore their environments, interact with their peers, and learn lots of new things using all of their senses. It is depressing to me that many very young children are going to be taught to fear germs before they even know how to count or recite the alphabet. Some of them will still lose friends and loved ones to the virus even though they wear masks, wash their hands, and eschew playdates. To me, that’s sad, even if I understand why children are being forced to “mask up” and can’t freely go play with their pals on the swings.

But God forbid I should mention that out loud. I knew that when I posted, and sure enough, along comes a busybody to remind me of what’s “important”, because we all need a member of the thought police to slap us upside the head and remind us of how “wrong” our opinions are…

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. We have to remind ourselves of the doom and gloom that is happening daily right now, thanks to COVID-19. Thank GOD for masks. They will save us all. And thank God for the lady who set me straight. Thanks, I needed that. /sarcasm

If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s some all-knower who can’t simply let people make a statement without adding some obnoxious one-upping, thought policing, virtue-signaling comment of their own. And it’s not just the issue of masks that get this treatment, either.

For example, today happens to be the one year anniversary that we learned that our sweet, loving, amazing dog, Zane, had lymphoma. I remember how I felt one year ago, when Bill took Zane to our local vet because I had felt swellings where his lymph nodes were under his jaw. I hoped it was an infection, but knew deep down that it was cancer. And Bill brought Zane home to tell me the news. I knew that Zane would be dead very soon. I commented on Facebook that I was very upset and my life “sucked”.

Sure enough, I got lots of responses from people telling me that my life doesn’t suck. One person argued with me about my statement. Another person told me to “buck up”. Still another said I should “get a grip”. After a few comments such as those, I posted this:

This was my admittedly snippy response. That was a legitimately AWFUL weekend.

I seem to remember that the evening that we learned about Zane’s cancer, we also spent responding to a truly ridiculous letter from our former landlady’s lawyer. Precious time that we could have spent with Zane was spent with Bill writing in German that, “no”, we didn’t steal a refrigerator from the ex landlady and we can prove it. And “no”, Americans don’t routinely clog up toilets with toilet paper. Hers was the only toilet I’ve used in my 48 years of shitting that has ever routinely clogged up, and I have taken dumps in MANY countries. It is sad that we had to spend an evening on that bullshit instead of enjoying sweet Zane’s company. But God forbid I say that out loud, either.

One week after I posted the above status, Bill and I drove Zane to the vet for the last time. Sometime during the night, he started bleeding internally. I don’t know for certain, but I think he had tumors in his spleen that had ruptured. When we awoke on August 31st of last year, Zane looked like he had grown teats. They were full of blood. I do take comfort that his last week was relatively pleasant, as cancer deaths go. He spent the week enjoying the outside, agreeable temperatures, sunshine, eating what he wanted, and being with his people. But losing him hurt me a lot. I still think of him every day. This is the first time I’ve lost a dog and not replaced him soon afterwards. Some of you will remember that a few months ago, we did try to give a new dog a home as the COVID crisis was beginning. Our attempt to take in a dog ended in senseless tragedy. Guess I should “buck up”, though, because things aren’t so bad.

Dealing with COVID-19, a year after losing Zane, is depressing for different reasons. The world has changed so much in such a short span of time. I think people want and need to talk about it. Many aspects of the pandemic world are, indeed, very depressing. But if you dare mention it out loud, you run the risk of some asshole reminding you of what’s “really important” (in their minds). If you acknowledge that small children wearing face masks is abnormal, you have to brace yourself for an upbraiding by self-important twits who have to contradict you. You know what? Fuck those people. I have about had my fill of dealing with them.

I have a feeling the one person who “laughed” at my comment to the busybody did so because he’s also sick of dealing with this type of person who can’t just let people just express a thought without correcting them. Honestly, I think people like the woman who retorted to me are the reason we have people like Trump in charge. Most folks don’t want to be lectured to or told what is “right” by holier-than-thou people. And, as much as I now identify as more of a liberal type, I also understand that sometimes preachy liberal types are “insufferable” and tiresome. I can understand why that makes a loudmouthed cretin like Donald Trump seem refreshing to certain people.

I remember sometime last year, I wanted to issue a complaint to USAA about their two-factor authentication system. I would have done so privately, but was unable to find an email where I could send my feedback. So I posted my comment on their Facebook page. Sure enough, someone had to come along and contradict me. She couldn’t just let a fellow customer voice a valid complaint. She had to discount my comment by praising USAA, and reprimanding me for daring to make it in the first place, even though I’m a paying customer, too, and have a right to voice my concerns.

I know people don’t like complainers, but there has to be room for criticism in every situation. Nay-sayers provide information about what could be improved about something. Take the face masks, for instance. Lots of people are just fine with them. They happily strap them on before they do anything, from shopping to having sex. Some are even expressing delight in how they can make them fashionable and how the masks might help them avoid getting sick as they also hide their resting bitch faces. They actually enjoy smelling their own breath. They probably enjoy the smell of their own farts, too. And you know what? That’s fine and dandy for them.

But there are other people who have legitimate issues with wearing face masks. For instance, there are people who have trouble wearing them because they wear hearing aids and the ear loops on most masks knock the hearing aids out of their ears. Some people feel claustrophobic or super anxious when they wear them. Some people need to be able to read lips and can’t because of the masks. Some people make their living or just really enjoy playing woodwind instruments or singing. And some people literally lack ears! I’ve actually known a couple of people in that situation. One was a guy whose ears were deformed due to years of wrestling and being grabbed by his ears. Another was a man who’d lost part of his ears at war. Yes, there are masks available that tie in the back, but in the case of the war veteran, that was also problematic because he also had arthritis in his hands.

These people have needs that should be considered. They don’t need to be shut up by self-righteous dipshits who can’t simply let people have their say without a virtue-signaling, “one size fits all” rebuttal. People have a right to point out why masks are problematic for some folks and should strictly be a TEMPORARY measure. If no one complains, what incentive do we have to make things better for everyone— not just the cheerful, super responsible, self-righteous types who revere the masks?

It’s not normal, natural, or fun for most children to be forced to wear face masks. Really young children are just starting out in the world, learning how to socialize and communicate with other people. I do think it’s depressing that they have to be “trained” to wear a mask, which will hinder their ability to communicate, instead of being allowed to interact with others the way generations of people before them have been allowed to. I can make that statement without failing to realize why the masks are currently necessary and needing a fucking lecture from some stranger about how people are getting sick and dying of COVID-19. DUH. I’ve gotten the news. It’s on EVERY channel.

I can also make a statement about being really upset about my dog dying and my life temporarily sucking without some twit reminding me of how good I have it (especially since most of the people making those comments have NO IDEA what my life is actually like– they can only make assumptions).

People need to let people say their piece without contradicting them with their own virtue-signaling bullshit. Although to be fair, there’s a reason why I rarely bother posting comments on newspaper articles. It’s mainly because I hate dealing with people like the woman who corrected me this morning with her parental wisdom. Thanks, lady. You sure set me straight. I learned something new from you and am suitably chastened. Now run along, pick out your favorite mask for today, and let me go back to being my cranky self.

dogs, obits

Goodbye, sweet Zane…

The past week has been a mixture of sad, surreal, and sublime. A week ago, we found out our dog Zane probably had lymphoma. I wasn’t too surprised when I heard the news. I had noticed slightly swollen lymph nodes under his jaw and feared as much. But then, everything I read about lymphoma in dogs led me to believe that the nodes would be much larger than they were. I looked at Zane’s teeth and thought maybe it was a dental problem. One side felt larger than the other. I asked Bill to take him to the vet, hoping the swollen nodes were something minor, but kind of knowing deep down that they wouldn’t be.

The vet had told us to take him to a local high speed practice where they could confirm what was wrong with him. Maybe chemo would be an option. Bill was only able to arrange an oncology appointment for September 20th. I knew he’d be long dead by then when Zane couldn’t open his eyes on Monday night. Bill took him to the high speed vet, which also has an emergency department. The vet aspirated Zane’s lymph nodes and it was clear that he had lymphoma. We started him on Prednisolone, and he got a few good days. I got a lot of pictures of Zane this past week, knowing that they’d be the last ones I’ll have of him. Even yesterday, I got a beautiful shot of Zane enjoying the sunshine in the backyard. We even managed to take a couple of walks this week. He went his full route on Thursday.

Yesterday, I could see that he was getting more and more exhausted. He still wanted to eat his favorite treats, but he spent all day lying on his side, sleeping. This morning, it became clear that it was time to let him go. He was trying to stand up and had managed to raise his haunches, but was too exhausted to get up the rest of the way. I also noticed a puddle of urine by the fireplace. Zane had kindly done it on the tiles instead of the floor, but it was the first time he had had an accident like that in many years. I looked at Bill and said, “Today’s the day.”

We took him to the vet at 11:45am and by noon, he was on the table, licking some liverwurst paste. The vet, Dr. Glenn, was very kind and compassionate as she drew his blood. She could see that his belly was full of blood. She said she thought maybe his spleen had ruptured, and that it was good that we brought him in today. It’s unlikely he would have survived the night.

Zane went quickly and peacefully. Bill held onto him as the drug took effect, feeling his heart’s last beats. Bill always does this when we lose our dogs. I stroked Zane’s head and told him to go see MacGregor at the Rainbow Bridge. We told the vet about Zane after he had passed, how we adopted him from Atlanta Beagle Rescue after we lost our dog, Flea. He was the very best. He was the most wonderful, loving, kooky beagle ever, who always tried so hard to be good. I will never, ever forget him.

My sweet beagle is gone…

I’ve made a video to remember the best parts of the past ten years with Zane. Every dog we’ve had has been wonderful, but I think Zane will go down as one of the most special canine angels to ever grace my life with his presence. It was a joy and a privilege to rescue Zane… and I think he returned the favor one hundred fold. When I’ve had more time to process this, I’ll write more about how much he mattered to me and how much I’m going to miss him. For now, I’ll just say I’m glad the suffering is over for him, but it will be awhile before my heart heals.


Head cheese…

Zane deteriorated a bit yesterday, so Bill took him to the emergency vet. Earlier in the day, he tried to make an appointment with their oncology department, but nothing is open until September 20th. He made the appointment, but I don’t think Zane will still be with us at that time. This disease is moving very quickly. Two days ago, he looked more or less normal. But by yesterday afternoon, his lymph nodes had swollen to the point at which he could barely open his eyes. He spent most of the day lying on his side, not seeming to be in pain, but just very exhausted. Still, when Bill got home, he managed to come downstairs to greet him.

The emergency vet aspirated Zane’s lymph nodes and showed Bill the cancer, which at this point, he really didn’t need to do. It looks like he’s at least stage four. We aren’t looking for any miracles. We just want him to be comfortable for whatever time he has left. So the vet gave Zane a shot of prednisone, and by the time dinner was ready, he was loudly begging for chicken after not having really eaten all day.

He could barely open his eyes last night, but he still begged for chicken. The vet thinks it’s because of his swollen lymph nodes. Hopefully, the prednisone will give him some temporary relief.

Then this morning, he didn’t want his usual homemade chicken food (which he normally likes), but when Bill opened up a can of German head cheese, he was all over it. He got his prednisone in the head cheese this morning.

I don’t like to give dogs prednisone, because there are nasty side effects. It makes them very hungry and thirsty and they have to pee incessantly. The nice thing about our current house is that we have a fenced yard, so Zane can go out at will. When our last dog, MacGregor, was sick and on prednisone in 2012, we had to take him outside on a leash. Actually, we had to carry him, because he couldn’t walk very well. Zane is still mobile. He’s just very, very lethargic.

I think we’ll probably say goodbye to him in a few days. It will shatter my heart. Seeing him like this breaks my heart. He’s an absolute angel of a dog– the sweetest, gentlest, friendliest, and most loving dog ever. We named him after Zane Lamprey, the comedian, because he has sort of a wiseacre personality. But besides being comical, Zane is also just a lovely creature. I would love to have his personality. He always tries to be good, even when he “punks” Arran to get him out of his favorite napping spots. He never causes trouble, or, at least he never did once he got past the destructive puppy phase. And he’s just a delightful dog. I am really going to miss him with all of my heart.

Just two days ago, Zane took a walk around the neighborhood and rolled in a field. He was eating well until Saturday. It’s astonishing to see cancer go to town like this, although in some ways, I think the speed is a kindness. Our two dogs prior to Zane both had cancer and it took longer and was a lot more painful for both of them.

Flea, Zane’s predecessor, had prostate cancer that took his life four months after diagnosis. It was pretty awful to watch the destruction at the end, although Flea was a real fighter. He hadn’t wanted to die, even when it was clear that it was best. MacGregor didn’t fight death, but his cancer was excruciating because it was a very aggressive spinal tumor that was invading his spinal column. It took an MRI to discover it, and it was nasty.

I have yet to hear Zane yelp in pain, the way I did with both Flea and MacGregor. He just sleeps and occasionally goes out to pee. Yesterday, he made his way around the house in different corners, finally venturing out to the backyard and its sunshine. As cancer deaths go, this doesn’t seem too bad. We won’t let it get much worse. I will not keep him alive for myself. I’m grateful that he’s been able to eat, sleep, and exercise up until the bitter end. I’m happy that I can still pet him, kiss him, and love on him without causing him extreme pain. With both Flea and MacGregor, we were denied that comfort at the end.

So… we’ll see what the prednisone does. I don’t expect much from it. If it perks him up for a few days, that’s a good thing. But if it doesn’t help, we’re prepared to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge, where he can see his old friend/bagel daddy MacGregor. I know the Rainbow Bridge is a figment of imagination, but it comforts me to imagine it… and every single dog I’ve lost has communicated to me in dreams to let me know they’re okay. Maybe it’s just my mind protecting me, but it makes me feel better. And when we’re ready, there will be room for another dog who needs a home.


Awful weekend…

I won’t go too much into it because some of what made it so awful is private. But aside from the private business that made the weekend suck, we learned that our dog, Zane, likely has lymphoma. Bill took him to the vet and told her about his history with mast cell cancer. Many dogs who have had mast cell disease go on to have lymphoma. The symptoms match, too. He has swollen lymph nodes, drinks a lot of water, and is very lethargic.

Bill is going to try to get him an appointment at the nearby veterinary speciality clinic so they can do more testing, but I’m pretty sure the vet is correct in her diagnosis and we won’t have him for much longer. Even if we tried chemo, which might be too onerous and expensive, especially considering that he’s almost 11 years old, the cancer would eventually come back if he went into remission. I am more inclined to keep him comfortable. Maybe try prednisone.

Zane is a very special dog. We got him in December 2009, when he was about a year old, a few months after we moved to Atlanta from Stuttgart. We had just lost our beagle, Flea, a month prior. He’d had prostate cancer, which was pure hell for all of us. I saw Zane on Atlanta Beagle Rescue’s page and something about him spoke to me. I turned out to be right. Zane has been my best buddy for almost ten years.

Zane as a baby in Georgia. He was so cute. This was taken the day we got him in December 2009.

From the beginning, Zane was a sweet, affectionate, funny dog. He was originally named Einstein; his owner had bought him at Petland and found he was “too expensive” (although really, I think he was just too much for her to take care of– he was in the middle of his teen phase when we got him, chewing up everything). It took about six months before Zane became a good canine citizen, but he turned out to be a wonderful dog and devoted friend. His only vice was that when he was younger, he liked to sneak out of the house and force us to chase him. But although that habit scared the shit out of me, he would always stay in sight and eventually let us catch him. It’s been awhile since his last escape.

Aside from his occasional escapes and wild goose chases, he’s mostly a perfect gentleman and tries so hard to be good. It’s breaking my heart that he’s sick, but even in sickness, he’s noble and aristocratic. I adore him. When he was a puppy, he had a hilariously adorable habit of jumping straight up in the air whenever he was startled. He lost that habit as he matured, but it was so cute that it spawned his nickname, “Zaneykins”. Yes… I know, it’s a stupid, cutesy pet name, but it seems to fit, even today.

So all weekend, I’ve been worrying about Zane. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain right now, but he’s clearly exhausted. I fear he doesn’t have much time, especially if it is lymphoma. Even with treatment, lymphoma is pretty deadly if it isn’t caught early. Our other dog, Arran, has been right by my side all weekend, because he knows I’m upset.

Yesterday… when Zane had a moment of clarity.

So… I’m trying to stay calm, attentive, and loving to Zane. We’ll see what the vet says, but I am preparing myself for what seems inevitable. Soon, we’ll probably be a family of three. I know this is the way of things… but I am truly heartbroken about it. And I’m also angry about the private business I can’t yet discuss. I’ll just say that I think it’s a shame that some people are much more interested in money than they are other people… and will harass and stoop to ridiculously low levels of dishonesty and character assassination to get other people’s money.

But… this too will pass.