a99kitten’s Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

One year ago, 8/2/13, I lost my buddy Stormy. Stormn. Stormn Norman. Hoth Stormtrooper.

I still miss him every day. I still think about him every day. He was my little guy with the biggest heart. He could be a little punk, but loved people. And loved attention. And loved his momma. And people loved him. He brought joy to a lot more than just me. And I know that.

But I do still miss him (and his brother) every single day. And some days are sad. But I cannot help but smile every time I look at his little face :)

Storm

Storm

Monster in cute puppy clothing...the day Angelus picked him :)

Monster in cute puppy clothing…the day Angelus picked him :)

Storm and Angelus on bed

When I was at San Diego Comic-Con this July, I was on the look out for some new, interesting Chewbacca art. He’s actually not the easiest character to portray correctly. I was never able to find anything that I loved (well…Chewbacca wise I mean.) On the last day I made it over to the Chuck Jones Gallery….as evidenced by this purchase: http://a99kitten.com/?p=10450

While there, I also bought another piece. It caught my eye as soon as I walked in but I had been so involved in my purchase of Bad Girls that it took me a while to get over to it. It was not Chewbacca, and I typically don’t collect Leia art, but this piece definitely caught my eye:

FullLeia

It is a good sized piece – 36″ x 24″ on canvas. It’s an artist proof (#3 of 10) and extremely cool in real life :) I’m typically not into the modern or art deco look honestly, but the colors of this just grabbed me. I love the various silvers and greys with white and black (I think another reason I will always have a husky.) My color scheme at home is all browns. Deep, rich browns in various tones. So she doesn’t really fit in but it’ll work. I have a HUGE bus stop poster of Jango Fett framed from Attack of the Clones (all blues and silvers) so they will work together. As I was discussing this piece with the gallery rep, I asked if the artist had done any Chewbacca art. He said not that he was aware of but he could contact the artist. I had actually JUST missed him that day. Darn! And it turned out he left the gallery and went over to the Acme Archives booth inside SDCC. Doh!

Anyway, turns out that no, he had not any done Chewbacca art but that he always wanted to if it was the right feel. Chewie is hard because a lot of artists portray him too cartoony or goofy. I like the fierce Chewie. So we discussed him doing a commission just for me! He would have to get OK by LucasFilm once he did the piece but I was pretty excited!

On a conference call to discuss ideas for the piece, the artist (Mike) asked why I loved Chewbacca so much. That’s easy – because he was Han’s best friend. And protector. Who was big and strong and scared most people but he was a marshmallow inside…to his people. Just like Angelus and Storm were for me. Angelus even sounded like Chewbacca when he talked. And Chewie’s sounds were inspired by George Lucas’ malamute Indiana (who looks a lot like Angelus) so it was a perfect mix. Plus we live in Tahoe and the snow and I always called it Hoth when I’d take the buds out in the snow.

Mike loved the story and it turns out he and his wife are big dog lovers. So he appreciated my love of my buds. And how it translated to my love of all things Chewbacca. So I sent him a bunch of pics of the buds as well as my favorites of Chewie so he could get a sense of how I liked them. He obviously would be keeping it in his own style (art deco-ey, modern. See his site linked below) but incorporating the Chewie, Angelus and Storm in the snow.

The finished work arrived (yes, LucasFilm signed off on it!) and I just got it back from the framers. I. Love. It. He captured the expressions of Angelus and Storm perfectly. Like….perfectly. Plus having an original piece of art commissioned just for me is pretty darn nifty. The fact that it incorporates my beloved friends who are no longer with me along with one of my favorite fictional characters brings together 2 things that I have spent a lot of time in my life enjoying.

I look at this all the time and smile. The buds brought me smiles every day while they were with me, so it’s only natural they keep doing it.

Pic

Mike Kungl: http://www.mkungl.com/2/index.php There are **easily** a handful that I would love to hang in my house.

It’s been a month since Stormy left me. Hard to believe it’s been a month already really. I still get sad and regularly think, for just that split millisecond, that I hear him moving around.

But when I start to feel sad, I try to remind myself that most people didn’t expect him to make it much past 8 once he was diagnosed with Cushings or past 9 when his 2nd liver tumor (and 2nd surgery) was diagnosed as cancerous. But instead he not only survived those things, he got to go to the beach, play in the snow, have fun, eat freshly made cheeseburger, make and play with friends, and bring everyone who met him smiles every day until he was 11.

When he could no longer stand on his own (late June), I knew our time was limited. I’d help him up and use one of those slings but then he didn’t want that after awhile. But he was still a happy guy every day. He loved to sit on the deck and watch chipmunks and birds. He loved his regular ear rubs, still ahrooed for his breakfast and loved his cheeseburger and cookies. I told him that I wanted him to stay as long as he wanted, but if he started feeling sick or in pain, he had to tell me.

On August 2nd he did tell me. But I do know that he was happy up until then. And I have to remember that is what counts: all of the time that I got to spend with him. I was lucky to have been able to bring my guys to work every day all of their lives, take them to the beach or snow every day, and then work from home and spend the extra time taking care of Storm when he needed it.

I miss my boys. I spent more time with them every day for 12 years than I did anyone else in my life. It’s hard to have that gone. They made me smile every single day. They were the best friends you could ever ask for. If you are lucky enough to have a critter in your life, make sure you hug and love them every day. They deserve it and don’t stay with us long enough.

Stormy puppy with Angelus

Storm and Angelus on bed

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

I hope you are running with Angelus chasing chipmunks.

I will miss you forever Storm.

Storm

Storm

Stormin!

Stormin!

Today is Storm’s birthday!!! He is 11!

When he was 8, he was diagnosed with Cushings Disease and a lot of the info you find online about the illness says they survive 1-2 years at most.

And then when he was 9, he had 2 tumors removed (several months apart.) 1st one was determined to be benign but then the 2nd cancerous. People said don’t do the 2nd surgery, it’s just prolonging his illness, he won’t make it, the cancer will just come right back, blah blah. But that was by people that don’t know the guy well enough. Who had no faith in his awesomeness. His doctors and I knew better.

He is getting older and not as active or crazy as he used to be. But he still enjoys watching and sniffing for critters (just not trying to catch them and tear out their squeakers anymore), resting in a pile of snow and ahrooing for his breakfast :)

He is a superduper Hoth Stormtrooper (as confirmed by the AKC!) And he says “never count me out!”

Happy Birthday little buddy :)

Debating taking his birthday breakfast outside on the deck...

Debating taking his birthday breakfast outside on the deck…

Monster in cute puppy clothing...the day Angelus picked him :)

Monster in cute puppy clothing…the day Angelus picked him :)

Just got back from Stormy’s 6 month ultrasound check. After he had 2 surgeries in two months to remove 2 tumors from his liver (and almost half his liver), 1 of which UC Davis said was benign but the University of Colorado said was a “well-defined carcinoma”, we were getting them monthly. Then after 6 months, every 2 months and then after last November, we moved it to a 6-month check. We took him off the chemo regimen he was on last July. So I was pretty stressed about this one. Especially after losing Angelus. But happy to report he is still tumor free :) Checked all of his innards. I go in with him so he has less stress so I got to see it all too. Apparently his innards are perfect even though it looks like black and white squigglies to me :)

At his last oncologist visit, all of the doctors and nurses came to see him as they couldn’t believe how great he was doing. And now all of the techs and a couple of the docs at his regular vet came over to see him. Our doctor said everyone likes to see the success stories.

Stormy has been through a lot. And he keeps going because he has a big heart and a lot of happiness still left to give :) I think tonight might be the first true reason to have a glass of bubbly to celebrate something in the past month. Maybe I will. But right now I am letting myself relax a bit. Woke up at 3am stressed and unable to sleep so it’s nice to feel some of the stress leaving my body….

Stormy had a bunch of ground turkey with melted cheese, a yummy cookie, went to Squaw and met a bunch of other doggies and hung out on the deck at his new house and old/current house. I hope a good 10th birthday!

Considering all he has been through over the past 1.5 years, he is still our miracle puppy. I stress every day for him, but also am thankful he is here and healthy.

I think he still misses Angelus a lot every day. You can tell. But hopefully a little less sad. Like his momma.

Monster the day Angelus picked him

Today on our afternoon husky walk, I let the buds off-leash on the low tide beach to play with a couple of dogs. They were running around and chasing – including Storm! As the woman whose dogs I thought they were walked closer, I recognized her as the Mom of 2 border collies who I used to see pretty much every morning at the beach. Both of her dogs died awhile ago but I would still her on her walks. So when I saw her with these dogs, I thought she got some new pals. Turns out these 2 weren’t her dogs, but a guy on the beach on his phone and she was just petting the dogs.

The woman approached me a bit cautiously and I thought “you don’t recognize us??” We had talked quite a lot after her dogs died and also after Storm got sick. She got closer and had this huge smile on her face. Turns out she recognized me and Angelus but for a little bit thought I got another grey and white husky because she didn’t recognize Storm, but was nervous and sad to ask. She could not believe how good he looked and how fluffy he was again, and running around playing!

I updated her on Storm and then Storm took off after the other 2 dogs so I had to chase him down. When I got back, she was talking to a woman with a border collie puppy (squeeee – puppy!) and had already told her Storm’s story. She and her husband were fawning over the huskies and saying how remarkable Storm’s story was. Not exactly sure what was told to them but that was nice. Although the huskies could care less about the attention. They are funny guys.

They continued on their walk and this woman (CarolAnn like in Poltergeist – I remember that one even though I’m typically horrible with the human’s names) started saying her good byes. Turns out she came down to the beach because today was the anniversary of her dogs deaths. One was 3 years ago today and the other 2 years ago today. Eerie. She said she wanted to come down to one of their favorite walks to connect with them again. And she was going to go home and watch a few short videos she had of them. Yikes. That made me sad. Sad for her. Sad for the eventuality of loss.

But then she smiled super big again and said that seeing Storm so healthy and happy again made her heart full and very happy for us. She walked away with tears in her eyes but a smile on her face.

Good boy Stormy :)

Storm got his ultrasound/liver check-up today. I am always a stress basket before he gets it. As we were in the waiting room, he was entertaining the other patients’ humans and staff with his howling. Cuts the tension in a doctor’s waiting room, that’s for sure :)

The nurse said they would likely have to shave his belly which made me sad. He finally got all of his fur back and had a GREAT time in the snow and I didn’t want him to have a cold, naked belly again right before winter :(

But turns out they didn’t have to! His oncologist said they just spread his fur apart and got the jelly on his skin and checked in 3 spots around the liver as well as straight on. And he is ALL CLEAR! No tumors, no nodules, no dark spots – nothing. YAY! The doc was in back telling all of the other doctors and nurses to come up and see Storm as she couldn’t believe how awesome he looked and how fast his fur came in.

I guess one of the doctor’s saw us at Mavericks and had told Storm’s doctor that he looked great WITH fur. She said she didn’t actually recognize that it was Storm until she saw Angelus with him and recognized him first. Our doctor said she was excited to see him coming in today but had no idea it would be with this much fur!

We spent about 10 minutes as doctors and nurses came up front to ooh and aah over Storm which he didn’t mind at all :) And we don’t have to go back for another check-up until February!

My little Stormtrooper :)

Took Stormy to the vet today. It was for a blood test after his last visit where he tested slightly anemic. He’s slightly anemic because he isn’t eating well. And he’s probably not eating so well because his medication was upsetting his tummy. Sigh.

So after I ran a little “test” myself (stopped all medication for 2 full days) and seeing Storm much happier and eating and then once back on his medicine going back to not eating as much, I talked to his doctor today. Was actually just a tech appointment today for a blood test but hung out and waited for the doc who wanted to see us. After waiitng there for awhile and then being moved into a private room so “the doctor can speak to you”, you get very stressed. And let’s just say that sitting in the waiting room comparing cancer meds with other doggie and kitty moms kinda sucks and creates stress.

But really she just wanted my details on what was going on with Stormy. She also said let’s let his tummy heal. No medication except his Cushing’s meds, which he has been taking without incident for a couple years, and some OTC Pepcid AC.

I was supposed to give him one of chemo meds tonight. But the doc agreed and we are stopping them for now. Good news is that he gobbled most of his dinner tonight! And then came over to me when I was eating dinner and wanted some of mine! Which he hasn’t done in a long while. So I got some cheese and doled it out to the boys. Angelus of course always wants more people food so he was pretty happy :)

And for the first time in a about a month, I feel a bit less stressed about Storm, his eating and his meds and feel like my “no medicine for 48 hours” test might have been what we needed. Weird how stress actually can physically manifest itself. Actually feel a bit less “tight” or “wound up” tonight.

So paws crossed. But the Stormy puppy needs to be happy. And eating. :)