Homes versus Bases

As for myself, I’ve mostly tried to remain active. I spent most of yesterday trying to be physically active. Took care of things I had been putting off that require effort rather than focus. I think it was that or go crackers. Today, I opted to go with something closer to my typical potato-style day after spending the morning outside. While it was nice to have no interruptions, I’d much rather have my family near. In Misty’s case, she tended to prefer the couch potato approach same as I do anyhow.

I’ve started cleaning and taking things down. Most of the dog proofing efforts were to keep Willow from getting stuck in places, or like the gate by the door were already becoming redundant as they all aged and learned better. Pretty much of the do what and when in my time at home is gone. My timing and pacing for things outside work has generally been set by my family, and before that it was family and television schedules. Willow drove a lot of that in her later years, and Corky and Misty often came along or added their own factors.

For the most part, I think my apartment has gone from being home to being a base of operations. My mom used to say that home is where you hang your hat. For me, I guess, home is where your family is. I think in time, I may start making larger changes around here. Not so much to change it from as they knew it, so much as to keep it from feeling like a tomb; my tomb rather than theirs. For now the focus is on deep cleaning and figuring out what normal may look like.

That reminds me, I really do need to get that photo frame setup. And I still need to build albums for both Willow and Misty, the way I did for Corky and Coco with the best pictures over the years. My plan for the photo frame was to set it up with a subset of my file server, to collect the better pictures. Then if it works well, replicate it across several others since suitable memory cards are cheap as hell now.

Misty had to follow our tribe

Yesterday, Misty went on to join the rest of our tribe. As feared, her kidneys didn’t register enough change to give any hope of improvement and she began to get weaker and weaker. She still had the wherewithal to cry and start fidgeting to get up to relieve herself, but needed to be held to avoid darting off and failing with what was left of her motor control. She was far weaker than the previous night and mostly tried to sleep.

With the kidneys shutting down, her waking experience was becoming one of extreme dizziness. I would describe her last night, like being chained to the teacup ride at Disney and not being allowed to get off. That’s really no way to live even if you might have a couple more days before things become painful instead of uncomfortable.

By the time the blood work was done, she was fairly close to a coma and the vet rated her quality of life at about 3/10. I think choosing to say goodbye while she was still conscious and not in too much pain was the best plan we could offer her.

Hopefully Corky, Willow, and Coco can lead Misty to where all the good treats are on the other side of the bridge. If there was ever anyone in our family who loved food more than me, it was you little sweat pea.

Tomorrow’s bloodwork should more or less determine what Misty’s remaining life span looks like. In the mean time my efforts have focused on trying to make her comfortable.

As for me. Well, I’m at that point where I have the wherewithal to vacuum while she’s at the vet. Then wonder why it didn’t pick up much and realize it was set to “Tools” instead of “Floors” mode the whole time ๐Ÿ˜….

Without Misty, Corky, or Willow around the level of quiet has been to where the cycling of the air conditioning and the creeks of the building trigger my alert responses. That instinct to go hunter-seeker in search of trouble, or how the hairs on my neck stand on edge shouting snap, duck, and roll. Things like that. After 12~13 years of Pumpkin’s air pump going, I rather learned to filter out ambient noises not directed at me fairly well. After 18 years of having a dog or four around, well, I’ve become trained to be sensitive to the presence of others. Misty tends to prefer the couch potato life like I do, but stirs as necessary and sometimes snores a bit. Corky took similarly but tended to be the watchdog coming along to investigate. Willow tended to get into antics and fidget around whenever she wasn’t out cold. Years back when Coco was alive she tended to take a mixture of keeping watch and vegetating in comfort, except she snored like a buzzsaw.

Whether my post Misty life ends up being days or months away, I think I’m going to have to develop the habit of getting out more when I’m not at work. That or my weekends are going to start looking like a Delia Deetz meme. In the meantime the most I can really do is hope and pray about the kidney readings tomorrow, and try to make her comfortable while I still can.


We spent last night in the animal equalvant of an emergency room. As best as the vet there can figure out from her blood work it’s from her kidneys. She also warned that a lot of times in senior dogs that seizures can be caused by a brain tumor. But Misty’s bloodwork is certainly alarming enough in terms of renal failure, anemia, and blood sugar. When we left for the ER, all she could really do was move her tongue and eyes. By the time we got the paperwork sorted, she could use her front legs enough to sprawl and by the time we go home, it seemed like she could use her front legs well enough to prop herself up but that was it.

She spent the night trying to lay down and even few minutes sitting up and trying to drag herself across the bed. By this morning she was at least able to stand and wobble about unsteadily, but needed help to drink a little bit of water. Still too nauseous to accept food.

While working on my major sleep deficits and the whole trying to function as a human being thing, Misty spent most of her day at our regular vet. They’re pushing fluids and antibiotics and hoping her renal function improves. Somewhat hamstrung in that the fluids they would use aren’t so safe with a heart murmur as advanced as hers, so they need to be slower and more cautious about it.

Tomorrow is likely to be a similar plan, assuming that the sweet pea is still alive. For now, she’s settled in for rest. When we got home it seemed like she felt like she must have fought from Normandy to Berlin in one long hard march. But after napping for a bit she decided to express her opinions on my blanket wrapping versus her buried under blankets approach, so I’m guessing that is a good sign.

I’m hoping that her kidneys respond and her motor function continues to improve, so that she can at least have some weeks or months of quality of life that doesn’t suck. As opposed to just a few days before it downhills. In my mother’s case, the road for kidney failure took her about 4 or 5 months from things getting bad (unable to walk) to getting fatal. I imagine that Misty will be lucky to make it that far. Here’s hoping for the best….

Passing thought: a man isn’t supposed to outlive his entire family unit. we’re supposed to die covering the retreat when it’s that dire.

Goodbye, Willow

About 12:45, Willow passed away with the vet’s assistance. Her internals were shutting down enough that I don’t anything the vet could do would have done much more than drag out the suffering a few hours, or at worst a few days.

Willow on my shoulder

She had stopped eating and drinking enough that she spent a few days on an IV, and seemed to perk up. Her blood work neither improved nor worsened, so I decided to at least try making it through the weekend. But in a few days started refusing dog food and spent her last couple nights on a diet of boiled chicken and rice. Last night, I think we got about 45 minutes of sleep as she would keep barking and refusing any food or water. This morning she refused her pill wrap with the arthritis meds, something she had previously accepted despite the eating issue. Willow basically spent the morning shifting between barking a few times and going back to sleep. By the time I decided to accelerate the trip to the vet instead of waiting for our appointment, I think her kidney’s were already starting to give out.

Before taking her to the vet, I decided to sit in the grass with her one last time. I think she still had enough awareness left to enjoy that sensation, but was so close to the edge that I was surprised she was still breathing when we made it to the vet. If I didn’t worry what pain she might wake up in, we might have just sat there until she passed.

Willow was by my side from when she was about 6 months old until her end, about 18 years later. I love you little monkey, and I hope when my own time comes that you’ll be waiting for me at the bridge. She was the best girl.

For some reason this just makes me remember an old post I read a zillion years ago, about you know your game is in trouble when X. In many cases, it was when some department came back asking are you sure the product is in 3D? — yeah, it was that long ago.

But the part that stuck was one quip, where people were standing around testing and noticed the face of Jesus Christ when looking at the wall textures. And no one had intentionally done it, it just kind of happened. Out of perhaps a few hundred posts (tweets wouldn’t exist for many years yet ๐Ÿ˜œ), that one was kind of hard to top.

Cooking for the first time in a good while, between waiting on the land lord to finally call a plumber and Willow’s tethering health; I opted for a two factor dinner plan.

For me, chicken tenderloins baked with a light dusting of garam masala, some green bean casserole that I’ve been meaning to make forever, and rice with soy sauce and onions. Not the best meal I’ve ever made, but it felt good to be able to cook again.

For the dogs, I boiled a portion of the chicken and set aside a few spoons of the rice. At first, I was worried that this might be a little bit bland compared to their diet of late. Needn’t have worried, save perhaps that they would dislike having to share ๐Ÿคฃ.

While Willow didn’t care much for having to wait on me to clean and re-order the kitchen interspersed with cooking tasks. She pretty much woofed it down. Misty basically cleared the dish by the time I turned around. So, I guess I can call that an effective plan.

How much coffee could a code monkey slurp, slurp, slurp?

Depends, how much coffee was there to guzzle, guzzle, guzzle?

Look, the coffee pot is dry! Oh shit, thereโ€™s an evil glean in his eye!

Quick, itโ€™s time to make some more coffee before the world ends.

โ€” my passing thoughts between cups