a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

One of my neighbor’s dogs passed away this morning. He was rushed to the ER in Reno Wednesday night and it turns out he had the same issue that Angelus died from. An “aggressive tumor” on his spleen that ruptured and bled out. The dog loses so much blood into their abdomen and too quickly to replenish. They gave him a blood transfusion and after he stabilized yesterday, they removed his spleen. But he was still critical. I just learned of it last night as they have been at the vet this whole time until they came home for some rest last night.

With Angelus, he had just had his annual physical, was 100% healthy and acting the crazy husky he always was. There was 1 instance of him waking up in the middle of the night with a yelp. It was about 2 weeks before he died. I woke up, looked for any injuries and he was fine. But he seemed off. Not terribly – but off. I took him to the vet and we thought maybe he tweaked his leg in the middle of the night or something because they couldn’t find a single thing wrong with him. I wonder if the tumor had a small tear then.

Later, my vet acknowledged that it could have been that. But 2 weeks for it to fully rupture with him acting normal would be pretty long so unlikely. But I will always wonder. And that I should have delved more into it. But I was in the middle of an office move and was so busy and tired – I figured he was fine. Like he always was. I will never forgive myself for that. Or anything else associated with that stupid office move.

But my vet (who knew Angelus since 8 weeks) said statistically, the dog would have more tumors. And if they make it through the spleen removal, then you have other decisions to make. And if Angelus would have been sick, confined to bed rest after surgeries or chemo or just plain not doing well – he would have hated that. I know that.

With Tucker, the dog next door, he was much younger than Angelus. And I feel so bad for his parents. They have a bit of a situation like I did – Angelus was the healthy 1 and Stormy was the one with health issues we were always worried about. They have an older dog who I know they have been worried about. So the shock that comes with this is what hurts even more.

I remember when they brought him home, after losing their oldest Golden. He was a good friend to Angelus and Storm but he has been an even better one to Smokey. Tucker and his older brother Jameis were some of Smokey’s first friends after I brought him home. He met them out in the back forest and instantly took to them. He *always* ran up to them as soon as he saw them. He could smell when they were abut to come outside if we were already out and would pull towards their door. Tucker, being a Golden, was a food hound. And he always ran to me first because he knew I had the cookies. But he was a sweet boy who was always just a giant wagging tail.

And the weird thing is the past 2 days Smokey has been pulling towards their house and whining even though they weren’t outside. It’s like he could sense something was wrong. I really never doubt animal senses anymore. They know a lot more than humans in some ways.

Rose Kennedy (NOT my favorite family but she certainly experienced loss) said something that in my opinion is 100% fact…

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

I know they are very sad today. I remember feeling numb. And sick. And there is simply nothing anyone can say to make you feel better in any way. Time is the only thing that helps. We lose our furry friends way too quickly.

Between our beloved fur-kids that die young, species being hunted to extinction and kids with cancer or other life-ending diseases but then pedophiles, rapists, terrorists and murders walking around hurting/killing others and people like Charles Manson STILL breathing on the government tit, what other proof do you need that life is simply not set up to be fair. Ever.

That seems very fitting. Angelus loved the snow. Even more than he loved chicken. And that was a lot :)

…I lost one of my best friends. He taught me that every day should be fun. That every day should have smiles. Rain, hail, snow (obviously) or shine. And if it doesn’t, you are doing it wrong.

One of my twitter friends, who I finally got to meet at Comic Con last year with his wife, made this video for me. And for Angelus. I put off watching it because I knew I would be a wreck. And while I’m bawling like a baby, I can’t believe how sweet and truly awesome, it is.

I still miss you buddy. Every day.

Handsome snow guy :)

Handsome snow guy :)

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: https://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:


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.


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…

One year ago today I lost one of my best friends.

It still makes me incredibly sad but at least I can look at his pictures or talk about him with a smile as I remember how much happiness he brought to my life. But today is a little rough. Or rrrruufffff as he would have said…


Angelus on deck

Angelus snow head

I miss you Angelus.

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. Very unusual for me.

Felt blah all day even though I got a boatload of work done. And wasn’t even hungry – also very unusual for me.

Then I realized the date. The 25th. I actually spent the day thinking it was 24th until I looked at my calendar. Ah.

I left for a 2.5 hour walk. I had to go to the post office so did that and then continued on to the coastal trail up to the HMB State beach and then back home. That was one of Angelus’ favorite walks because we could hit up the beach a couple times, lots of stuff to sniff, got to see (and bark at) the horses at the horse farm and best of all – no hills!

I lost him on March 25th. 7 months ago today. I still miss more than words can describe.

Doing some backlogged filing today since I’ve been in Tahoe so much lately. Had to make a new file for Shadow’s adoption. Then had to make room in my office filing drawer. Only thing I was able to move was Angelus’ file. Which made me sad all over again. Probably triggered today due to combination of neighbor stopping by today as I was loading Storm in the car to go to the beach and asking where Angelus and then receiving a letter from his insurance company officially cancelling his policy and alerting to me to a credit coming back to me. Yay. I’d give all my money to get him back healthy.

It was 3 months yesterday. I woke up out of sorts and it stuck with me all day. Still very sad. Every day still. But at least I don’t bust out in tears every day anymore. That’s got to be annoying for others.

Storm and I are trying to soldier through. I do think Storm is doing better. He seems like he is used to his new routine, if not his new adopted brother (at. all.)

But this year’s birthday season won’t be quite as festive for me. One of my closest friends won’t be there to celebrate with me.

Tomorrow it will be 2 months since I lost my big guy. I’m still not really any closer to being “over it” or much better.

I still think about him all the time, and think how unfair it is that he is missing out on more Mom time, Tahoe time, beach time. Our new house is on 5 acres which I basically wanted for him and Storm. He would have really loved to patrol his forest. He visited a few times during the remodel and had so much fun there and I was so excited to have the land for them.

I still cry almost every day. Although I don’t just break down and bawl every day or start tearing up when someone asks where he is so maybe that is getting “better”. But I still can’t look through his pictures. I still have his collar and tags in my purse from when we left the vet. It’s supposed to help to talk about it. But I still cry. Writing about it makes me cry a little less.

I still blame myself for not figuring it out. Maybe he did have more tumors or was riddled with cancer and maybe he would have not made it past a month or I would have had some horrible choice to make. But it all happened so quick and never got that far. And I’ll never know. And maybe that was better for him and me. He would have hated to be sick. His life was about having fun. And he would have been miserable sitting around. And having to make a choice regarding euthanasia was truly not something I could have handled. But I can’t stop thinking maybe he could have had his surgery and been OK. And here with us now.

He died from a hemoabdomen. A tumor on his spleen that ruptured and bled out. These tumors are likely due to hemangiosarcoma. According to the doctors and everything I read afterwards, there are no symptoms to watch for until it’s basically too late. All the doctors described it as the dog equivalent of a heart attack. You can be totally fine, no symptoms of anything, playing on the beach and bam. You get weak from the blood loss which is the first sign and unless it gets operated on right then, it’s probably too late.

They told me there was no way I would have ever known unless he got regular ultrasounds on his spleen and no one would ever do that unless their dog has had tumor issues in the past (like Storm has and does get ultrasounds.) His latest physical just 2 months prior showed once again he was perfectly healthy. His heart, ears, eyes, gums, all blood tests = perfect. No one could ever believe was 11 1/2 as he looked and acted so young. Even when they ran blood tests at the ER they were all perfect except that he was anemic due to the blood loss into his abdomen.

Best case scenario was they got in there and got the tumor and spleen out after stabilizing him. Then hope for finding no other tumors while they are in there. Apparently that is highly unlikely.

The ER doc and our regular vet said up to 85% of these cases end up being a super aggressive cancer (hemangiosarcoma) and that he would have 1-3 months at most and most of that recovering from his surgery. But that leaves at least a 15% chance that he would have been OK. Stormy wasn’t supposed to make it after his surgery and he’s here 1 1/2 years later still happily ah-rooing. So why not Angelus?

But they never got him stabilized. He started doing a little better after fluids and a blood transfusion but they said he was losing it too fast. And he just stopped breathing.

I know I am supposed to take some comfort that he did not suffer. Was not in pain. Played and had fun right up to his last few hours. And I am glad of that. He was the best dog in the world who brought so many people smiles and joy. He certainly deserved all the happiness and pain-free life he could have.

I took him to work pretty every day all of his life and there were some people who weren’t too happy with the idea of dogs in the workplace at first. But Angelus won them over. He was such a great ambassador for both his breed and dogs in general. So many people that met him at work (employees, guests, partners, etc.) would comment on how awesome the huskies were. How well behaved, sweet, etc. Everyone he met on walks or at the beach loved him.

Angelus only ever wanted to have fun. He was such a happy dog. But not in that slobbery lab kind of way. He was very chill. But could also be a spaz. His presence in my life was very calming. And I always had so much fun with him. Every day, every walk, all the time. Even when making me take him for a walk in the rain he would make me smile at his desire to sniff and want to see the world. He just wanted to walk and run and play on the beach and meet new buddies and walk and sniff and walk and pee on every tall stalk of grass he could find so every dog knew that Angelus was here.

He was never sick a day in his life which was why this was so sudden and painful. He had surgery for a torn ACL but never, ever sick. He was the one who was always there for me. When my mom died, when I had a miscarriage, when Stormy got sick and we almost lost him, when my little brother died. Angelus was the one always there to get me outside, get me out of my own head. And to just sit right next to me with his head on my feet while I cried.

I miss him staring at me when I wake up in the mornings saying with his eyes “get up!” Or sitting at my feet while I work. Or hanging out in the front yard staring out into the world waiting for his next adventure. Stormy and I still haven’t gone into the yard actually. Stormy is still sad, you can tell. He was with his brother every single day all of his life except the first 7.5 weeks.

Angelus taught me that the mornings are quiet, beautiful and awesome so sleeping in is for suckers.

He taught me to take every chance to get outside and enjoy it, even if it’s raining but especially if it’s snowing.

I miss him. And his handsome face and happy smile. And his presence. And hugging his big fluffiness.

I just miss him.

I tried looking through pictures of Angelus tonight and I still can’t. Not without crying. I miss him so much. His husky smile. And the smiles he brought me every day.

I try not to talk to people about it as people don’t want to deal with upset or sadness that isn’t their own. I understand this. Completely. Me = not emo. So I try and stay busy and make myself stay out of my head. But sometimes it’s just hard. I think it’s hardest when I’m tired. And ever since I lost him I just don’t sleep very well. The first week I took NyQuil every night to knock me out. Me = completely anti-drug. That’s healthy. So after 6 nights I said, that’s enough. Suck it up.  Got back on my B12. And a glass of wine in the evening some nights. But I still wake up many, many times during the night. So by evening time, I am simply tired. And then get sometimes get very sad.

People say you get over it. Things get better. Get a new dog. I actually don’t believe any of that. Maybe I’ll cry less. But when people’s kids die, do they just move on? Do they just have another kid to get over it? No.

Mother’s Day is Sunday. I lost my own mom a few years back. Lost my little brother in November 2010 who I was kind of a Mom too after we lost ours. And now Angelus. I don’t have human children. Angelus and Storm were/are my kids. And they got/get more love and attention from me than a lot of people’s human children. I’m a pretty darn good mom (unlike that pathetic psycho loser on the Time mag cover. Gah.)

I’m not sure how you get over this loss. Maybe you just get used to it. But you don’t get over it. You just don’t. I am not a Kennedy fan (fascinating family to read about however) but Rose Kennedy said:

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, (protecting its sanity), covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But, it is never gone.”

She would know.

No truer words.