a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

It’s now been over a week. Like that’s some great amount of time.

Still just as sad. Still cry. Got a few chores done today. One of them was not getting out of my pajamas.

Hot tub service guy came today and asked where Smokey was. Great. I love starting to cry in front of people who not my close friends.

Still living in a fog really. This loss was the loss of a presence that was in my life all day, every day for almost 8 years. Every single waking moment reminds me that presence is gone.

Last Saturday at this time, my life changed for the worse. Smokey had his seizure. On 1 hand, I cannot even believe it’s already been a week. But then on the other, it feels like so long since I’ve seen him.

Weekends will suck for awhile – I don’t have the stock market to focus on. And doing anything else will remind me that Smokey is not here.

Yesterday I picked him up from the vet. Tried to keep it together but I did not. Got McDonald’s, watched some Big Bang Theory and then The Eternals. Tried to keep my brain on other things because I knew if I thought about the box I brought home, I would lose it again. And I did – right before going to bed.

Going to bed is hard – I always skooshed him goodnight as he sighed like “again mom?” Asked him if he needed peepee before sleepies. Skooshed him again. Then he always got up and checked to see if I was in bed. Then he’d go back to sleep.

But waking up is just as hard because he came in and woke me up every morning. And I skooshed him then. And asked him what walk he wanted to do and we got up, got ready and were out of the house. Now I just wake up. I’ve changed out of my pajamas 2x this week.

Helen goes home tomorrow and then I will truly be alone in the house. I am not looking forward to that.

Spent yesterday afternoon cleaning up – put Christmas tree away in garage, re-orged some holiday bins, got distracted by beanie babies, and moved the dog beds from living room to garage which is what I needed distraction from.

I have wanted to throw away the 2 old beds (they were the buds’ so more than a decade old) but every new bed I bought for Smokey, he preferred the old ones. So – they stayed. I took the smaller one apart to throw away first. Then in the middle of the night I wondered if I should do that. It made me sad. It’s where he did most of his sleeping and I miss seeing it, seeing him on it. Need to think on it.

The vet called as well. Said Smokey made his way back to them and was ready for pick up. I do not want to do this. But I know I have to. And I want him home. Even though I know it’s not “him”, it still is. He should be home. Helen is here till Sunday so I should go do this while she is here so that I do not wallow in my sadness right after which I would do if I picked him up alone.

I still have Smokey’s bed in my bedroom. He did like that bed too. I need to move it (it is huge) but I do not think I can do that yet. Don’t really have any place to store it anyway.

And then my neighbor texted me to let me know that the Chewy order that I called and cancelled a few days ago was delivered after all – great. And instead of bringing it to my front door or porch, Fed-Ex left it at the top of our easement in the snow. He offered to bring it down but then never did or respond so at around 11pm I walked up there to grab it. Mostly so the bears were not tempted by the many bags of treats that were inside. So now that’s in my entryway. Cool.

My living room is so bare without the 2 giant dog beds in it. It basically makes me sad every time I look at it. That’s fun. But then looking outside at the snow makes me sad too. And still feel semi-nauseous pretty much all of the time. Need to stay distracted with projects, chit-chatting with H, crypto (stocks suck hard right now) and bingeing crap on TV. Because when left with quiet time, it’s just too much sad.

Still not doing so well. Trying to stay busy, not give myself too much quiet time to think about loss. Stare at stocks, crypto, trade Star Wars cards, put away Christmas stuff (which always makes me sad anyway).

Still haven’t been able to put away any dog stuff. But seeing it every day makes me sad too. No win situation.

Helen is still here and that has made things a lot easier. Probably saved my sanity. I’m not alone here. But I know when she leaves, and I wake up in an empty house, or go out and come back to an empty house, or look around and see no one, I will hit a wall.

It took about 6 months for me to look at Angelus’ pictures and not cry. And I still had Stormy with me. After losing Storm, I’d watch Shadow frequently. And went down to the bay area regularly. But I do remember the sadness of coming home to an empty house.

Now? I’m not sure what I’ll do. The market is garbage so pretty tough to keep my mind focused on that. I do have a ton of chores and projects I want done, and that will help I guess, but that won’t fix having no buddy to hug goodnight. Or having a wet nose wake me up every AM. Or having a constant presence in my life who always wanted to know where I was, or take me on long walks or just come over to make sure I was OK.

Just alone now.

I had a feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that 2022 would suck. Even worse than 2021. It’s kind of why I was not too excited for Christmas. Because then it was the end of the year. And 9 days in, I was right.

I am heartbroken right now. Truly feeling lost. I appreciate all of the kind words about how people loved Smokey but it makes me cry non-stop so I need a bit of time before responding to anything on social media or texts. A couple of neighbors came by to offer condolences – Smokey was well known and loved here. And that was very hard. People want to know what happened – he was always so active, healthy, full of life. And now he is gone.


Smokey has been doing fantastic. Unbelievable really. He had a liver scare back in October and the vet was honestly concerned he would not recover at his age.  Not only did he recover – all of his blood values went back to completely normal ranges which they said was actually a miracle (and probably would not happen) for a dog his age and where they were. He truly was a wonder. 


On Saturday, we went for our AM walk like normal, ate our walk treats like normal – he was visibly 100% fine. Then about an hour after we got home, he collapsed into the snow on the deck.  I got him inside and laid him on his bed – he was sitting up and panting heavily (likely stress) but could not and did not want to move.  This was not Smokey behavior. Then he laid down and was shaking/twitching.  I got him to the vet – got a neighbor to help me carry him to the car which is also not Smokey-allowed behavior.  Also, he gets car sick – which is why I always let him ride in the backseat so he had the windows – and I think the ride there with him laying in the back made him nauseous – he tried to sit up but could not move his legs well enough to get them in the position to sit up and was crying. I also get motion sick so I understand this feeling.


At the vet they ran all of his bloodwork – which came back perfect (which they were also amazed at from his liver scare). No fever. His eye reactions were fine (not old dog syndrome which he had before), but his leg reactions were not – his right front did not react and he did not care when the doctor handled his feet and toes (this was very much not Smokey behavior – he hated his feet touched, especially by anyone but me.) We gave him some anti-nausea meds to see if that feeling was making things seem worse. And fluids.  


To know Smokey – anytime we went to the vet – his first mission was to get the heck out of there.  And he was just lying there, not even trying to get up. This worried them and me. They love him there, and know his desire to get the heck out. He peed himself which he has never, ever done.  Even when he was sick from this liver stuff, or when he hurt his paw years ago, he did not care – he had to potty – he was going outside.  He loved outside.


The vet said that without an MRI or more advanced imaging (not available locally), there was no way to tell for sure but all symptoms and behavior pointed to a stroke/brain clot or possibly brain tumor. Either would need drives down to Davis (Smokey hated long drives or being in the car long) for the advanced facility and he was stressed anytime I was not with him. I asked if after getting any diagnosis like that, would there be any type of quality of life solution to this. I was not getting him brain surgery at his age nor would I start him on chemo at his age. Both vets at the clinic said no. Other than home care such as making sure he was fed via syringe, trying to get him to walk for potty or managing pee pads, etc.


So I took him home in the hopes he would feel more comfortable at home, and maybe after a full night sleep, he would show me signs of trying to get up, move around, some fight, Anything that gave me hope that he could be happy. Because he had now gone 8 hours without showing any interest in even moving. 


Smokey’s true joy in life was being outside (with me). And hiking in the snow (with me). And sleeping the snow when we had it on the deck (as long as he could see me).  I left my deck door open for him to go in/out all the time – even during blizzards because if I ever closed the door – he instantly wanted to go out there.


I slept on the couch and watched him all night.  He never once even tried to move, I hoped he would try to get up in an attempt to go out to his snow on the deck. He did not.  He didn’t even move his position. When I’d pet him, he’d open his eyes but that’s it.  He peed on his bed while laying down a couple more times and when I would move his lower body/back legs to change out towels and pee pads, he didn’t even care. I didn’t know if it meant he couldn’t move them at all, or just didn’t want to.  Either way – I knew it was not good. 


He didn’t want string cheese (a favorite treat) or even water. 


Then on Sunday AM, he started shaking uncontrollably. He tried moving his front paws a little to maneuver himself in a new position but really couldn’t and was in clear distress. I helped him to try and get his upper body into a more sitting position and he just collapsed in my lap where I held him. Smokey was not a lap dog.  He had only crawled into my lap 1 time and that was after his dog sitter lost him and he was lost in the woods for 3 days and I found him. So him crawling into my lap and arms showed me how bad he was feeling. At this point it was more than 24 hours with him not moving on his own, or showing any interest in moving, eating, drinking or anything. 


He had to pee again (I think this is why tried to move) and his shaking/shivering slowed a little but never stopped. I had to face the fact that this was not a recoverable situation. There was not a magic pill, or procedure that would allow him to run in the snow again. or even move himself to go outside and sit in his snow & enjoy the fresh air and some kind of life. If he had showed me any signs of sitting up, eating or drinking anything, or any interest in anything, I would moved the world for him. But I would not allow him to suffer like this.  We made an agreement when he got sick with his liver stuff (for 2 days he was very sick) that I would do anything for him, but if he needed to go, he should not worry about me. And to let me know. And I asked the universe a long time ago to never let him suffer or be sick for a long time. If it was his time, he should be allowed to be having a great life until the very last minute. No long sicknesses, no long-term pain. 


The vet came over and Smokey went in my arms with me reminding him of all the times he had fun in the snow, chased bears away from him momma, played with his friends and had his favorite treats.


I am heartbroken. Smokey was literally the reason I woke up every morning. He came in and woke me up every single day to tell me it was time to get up (crack of dawn.) Our AM hike was our favorite part of the day.  I am currently feeling lost. I planned everything in my life around him and our routine. My friends and neighbors knew inviting me to anything, meant inviting him. And they all loved him. Smokey was loved by so many. But none more than me. I am thankful for having him in my life. But I am currently feeling very lost. And sad.


I am glad to know he was so loved. The best ambassador for dogs, wolves, creatures of any kind. I hope he knew how much I loved him.  I told him many times every day. Showed him by any walks he wanted in whatever weather there was.  If he wanted to go – we went.  And if he wanted to sit outside in the blizzard – have at it. 


I never ever wanted to make this decision again in my life, but I felt allowing him to just lay there, not really knowing the extent of his suffering as he could not tell me, but could show me he was not normal Smokey, not happy or feeling well and was miserable, was not fair to him. It would only be allowing me to not make that decision which would break my heart.  And if he declined further and faster throughout the day or the next day that was not fair to him. 


I know he lived a long life for a big dog.  I was hoping we’d make it to 16+.  He was either turning 14 or 15 this spring based on the paperwork I had from his rescue. I know he had a full life.  I’m glad more of it was with me and here than whatever he went through before he was in the rescue where I adopted him from. I hope I made him forget all of that.

In so many of my pictures of him, he is smiling and I hope he truly was that happy. I think he was.
It hurts me (and angry at the universe) thinking he was perfectly fine on our walk and then an hour later our lives were made worse forever. And I wish I could go back to that walk and let him have all the extra treats. But then I think, maybe that was the universe doing what I asked – no long suffering or sickness. I don’t know. 

But I do know that my days will not be filled with his smiles. He was always there. Next to me. And now he is not. My life feels very, very alone right now.

Another round of sub-q fluids and a fresh blood panel today. Vet called and said liver values are improving. Not perfect – but at 14 – probably won’t be. She was very happy with the results. Improved vastly from 1 week ago when he was so sick. This makes me happy. It does.

But I no longer get that sense of pure relief from a good vet call. Because I know at this point in his life, a good day is a good day. And that’s all we can expect.

To be clear – he is actually doing great. His appetite is back, he always wants to drag me all over the Tahoe National Forest, he looks fantastic. But I know his liver values will only improve so much. Same with his kidneys. His heart – the vet said his heart was strong. Yes it is. But you cannot turn back time.

No more vet visits for the week. She said next week for a re-check. This is good. This week will be about cold AM walks. And no off-routine bs.

This past week has been HOT. Grossly hot for us. I would be angry, upset and miserable IF I once again chose not to get A/C installed after the previous summer of a little bit more heat than the last. But I did not. I was finally smart.

Smokey has traditionally always hung out/slept outside on the deck after dinner when it is even slightly warm. Because it’s cooler outside once the sun moves off the deck. But when it’s 95 during the day, and “cools off” to 80 – whatever. Gross.

But I have been running the A/C and he is lounging inside. Happy. Cool. Comfortable. He has been eating much more and normally. This makes me very happy. Every summer for the last 5-6 years, he eats way less in the summer because he is so warm and uncomfortable.

I dumped the hot tub so as not to use the electricity for no good reason. Channel that power to the A/C and keep me and my boy comfy and happy.

I’ve also been sleeping well which is an added bonus. lol

Home project I’ve wanted done for like…8 years is done today! Shades in my “Half Moon” windows at the front of the house. There are a few hours of every day for a few months out of the year when the sun BURNS into the house and now I will BLOCK IT OUT! So happy.

But this meant the installers were here for about 90 minutes = guys, ladders, drilling. Smokey was NOT happy. He stayed next to me and kept an eye on them. They were 2 very polite young men and loved both Star Wars and dogs so I think he figured out it was OK. LoL. But even though he didn’t try to eat anyone, the stress of these types of things takes a toll. And he he gets older, I think it’s a bigger toll.

I took him out fir a walk as soon as they left to go see his friends and we saw 3 of them and he liked that. But he still followed me around the house until I finally took a shower and sat down. He’s such a goof. But he is who he is. That will not change. That old dogs, new tricks thing. It’s a real thing. He’s now having a nice treat while I have a glass of bubbly – bottle was opened from over the weekend – not letting that go to waste!

I wish he didn’t stress so much. After days with serious changes in routine, he needs a night of me just sitting here with him. So I will catch up on Bad Batch, watch crypto go up and down…and up and down…and let him settle back into his calm state.

I always loved Easter as a kid. Not just because of candy – I loved the colors, Easter egg hunts, the bunny, family meals together with a little less stress than Christmas I guess? Scalloped potatoes and deviled eggs. Mmmm. Also, probably where my love of pastels came from lol.

Did not grow up with Easter as a religious holiday. I do recall Easter at my grandparents, church in the AM, egg hunt in their yard and a lot of food! But the religious part was not a part of my life really. But respect for those that do. And have a supreme annoyance for people that curse on or around Easter. Like…I want to throat punch you.

This year Easter was odd though. Didn’t do anything with anyone. Sent Easter baskets out because who doesn’t love Easter baskets? I guess they were enjoyed but didn’t back on Easter. No Easter greetings from anyone except my neighbors. Thank goodness for good neighbors.

Was nice to have a 3-day weekend though. Considering I am “retired” from work, you’d think I’d have 7-day weekends but I trade daily so I like to stress myself out…clearly. But this was a nice brain break. Did a TON of spring cleaning. Although not as much as I wanted (as my TODO list would attest) since Smokey would just follow me around and I wanted him to relax. But did get a lot done.

But I tried to do most in/around the first floor so Smokey would not follow me too much. He wants to do these long walks – which makes me happy. But then I think he gets very tired. Or hot. Likely both. Plus he has not eaten for 2 days. He has eaten his treats – just not his regular food. I know it has warmed up all of a sudden this week from a high of low 40s to 60s. And his body does not regulate heat well (me either pal.) I have this this same stress for the past few years at this same time. But as he gets older, I stress more. Sadly, our winter is done. It’s supposed to a be a touch cooler this week – in the low 50s instead of 60s. But seriously FU MOTHER NATURE. There are already fires in So Cal. In April. FUCK YOU. FUK U. FU. I will curse you. This is BS.

Anyway, I made him 3 chicken breasts tonight thinking he’d eat a little but he gobbled them all up! ALL of it. OK. That made me happy. So we will see tomorrow if he wants more fresh chicken, or his fresh food or what.

Tomorrow starts a new week. And really month and quarter. I might start trading a lot less to spend with Smokey and diddle around with my house projects. We will see.

Did another 2+ hour walk this AM with Smokey. We go as far as we used to but now a bit slower so more time outside. But I think that is totally OK as he loves being outside. As long as we are not hot. As the sun rises earlier, we will get out earlier but the sun bakes us both.

I dd a lot of work today so was sitting on computer for a chunk of time – like a normal Friday vs a “holiday”. But every time I get up to do chores, etc Smokey gets up too so his naps get interrupted.

Took him to the beach around 3pm for his afternoon walk since it’s too warm this week for neighborhood walks. I hate spring and summer. Hate.

He had fun. We met some other buddies, sniffed lots of stuff, peed on lots of stuff (well..he did lol.) But you could tell he was tired. I cut it shorter than usual. Since we’ve been home he ate 1 treat, but not his normal evening treat “routine”and he ignored his dinner. He does this when hot and/or tired. Completely normal. But I also know he is getting older by the day. He did act this exact same way last year, and the year before, when we switched from winter to spring weather – he just gets hot fast. I do too so I understand. But he can’t take off his winter coat.

He’s sleeping now. Snoring actually :) Senior dogs need more sleep. But they also need their walks, their routine, less stress and things to stimulate them mentally. I think we do a good job on all of those. But I cannot stop checking on him every few minutes to make sure he is all A-OK.

It’s not fair they don’t live longer.