A Belated Congratulations and It’s About Time!


Yesterday was a bit better, I think.  I managed to get through most of the day without having too many thoughts about Princess and Jenna, which in reality means that instead of thinking of them every single moment of the day, I thought about them a bit less than that.  The memories have been slightly less painful, but they are still there and still painful none the less.

I think what remains to be the hardest part of the day is coming home.  Right now, that house is a toxic haven for memories for me.  The moment I see the house as I walk down the street, I begin to see the dogs on the balcony poking their heads through the railing, and hear their paws clicking against the wood deck as they bark and welcome me home from work.   And as I walk closer, they begin to fade, only to bring me back to the realization that they no longer exist -except in my memories and in my heart.

Yesterday, coming home was particularly difficult, because my wife had taken Haru to cheerleading practice, so I came home to in empty house.  As I opened the front door, the silence was deafening.  Usually, I would come home to the sound of the TV blaring in the background, or Haru talking or singing out loud, or to the sound of water running in the kitchen or bathroom, or …to the sound of the dogs clicking their paws on the wood floors of the hallway to see who just walked into the front door.   Instead, it was just lifelessness, darkness, and dead silence, and the memories started again, and I began to cry.

This weekend is going to be hell, because it will be one week after their passing, and I already know I am going to struggle with it.  Since its a long weekend for me (9 days off from work due to national holidays), I really wished we could just go somewhere far away from this house.  But since we didn’t plan anything because of Princess and Jenna’s illnesses, it would be too late to plan anything now.  I thought about going out to the summer house in Chiba, but that place would be equally painful for me because we spent so much time out there with the dogs.  So in essence, I would feel trapped and imprisoned in my own home with painful memories tormenting every moment that I am there.

I am very angry at myself because I haven’t been able function well in almost a week.  Aside from work, there seemed to be no purpose for doing anything.  I just wanted to sleep all day, and I feel really bad for feeling this way, and for neglecting Haru.  Haru, if you read this someday, I hope you forgive me for those days when you always saw me  sad and crying.  I shouldn’t let this sadness take over our lives , and I feel really really bad for not giving you more attention, and I promise to make it up to you when I feel better.

Despite the dogs leaving us, we had one really good thing that happened that unfortunately got overshadowed and nearly forgotten.  Haru finally FINALLY got chosen to join the advanced gymnastics class!  I couldn’t be more proud of her.  She actually participated in her first class as an advanced gymnast last Saturday (right before all of this happened).  She struggled with it at first because she had gone to her usual class earlier that morning, and was fairly tired by the afternoon.  But her new advanced gymnastics coach, which is the same coach she had when she first started out in her kindergarten gymnastics class said that she will do fine once she gets use to the new routines.

Haru will actually be starting advanced gymnastics regularly in November, once she has completed all of her cheerleading events which will take up most of her Saturdays in October.

So out of curiosity, we all wondered why it took the coaches so long to recognize that Haru was ready for the advanced class.  I thought that perhaps my wife and I were just being stupid parents for thinking that Haru was better than she really is.  Or perhaps the coaches just didn’t see any potential in Haru’s ability, and just thought it’d be best to keep her where she is, or eventually that she might even quit.  Or maybe it was because the coaches where just plain stupid and not paying any attention to the fact that Haru was clearly out performing everyone in her class including the much older senior level students.  Well, the answer is none of the above.

Apparently, the coaches did recognized Haru a long time ago, apparently back in her kindergarten days.  But the reason why she never got promoted to the advanced class was because of one misunderstood comment she made to her gym coach back when she was in kindergarten.

When Haru just started cheerleading a few years back, she use to be so proud of her cheerleading hair ribbon, that she use to wear it everywhere -even to gymnastics class.  When her coach asked her what the ribbon was for, Haru said that she is a cheerleader and that she was so busy with cheerleading that she had forgetten to take it off.  (which wasn’t true -she just wanted to wear it) Based on that one comment, her coach assumed that Haru would be way too busy to commit to being in advanced gymnastics and passed her up.  She assumed that Haru was doing cheerleading several times a week, when in reality it was (and still is -if you don’t count tumbling) only once a week, and in no way would interfere with her schedule if she joined the advanced class.

This all came into realization when Haru attended the nature camp last month with her gymnastics school.  My whole intention for Haru to attend that camp was not only to make new friends and have fun, but to also to be able communicate with the coaches in the hopes that they would recognized that she is a good gymnast -and IT WORKED!  While at camp, her once was, and soon to be again gym coach approached her and asked how her cheerleading career was going, and Haru responded okay.  Then the coach asked, are you still really busy? to which Haru replied, no….it’s only on Thursdays.  The coach probably assumed that Haru was a competition cheerleader who practices several times a week and do complicated cheer routines, hence her ability to do skills beyond what is taught in regular gymnastics class.  Thus, started a new dialog between us and the coaches and clarifying what Haru’s schedule is really like and how we wondered when Haru would ever move up into advanced gym.

The reason why the coaches what so concerned over Haru’s schedule is because her regular gym class was once a week and 50 minutes per session.  Once she moves up, this can go up to 3 times a week and 90 minutes per session.  If she moves up further to competition level courses, it can go up to 5 days a week and 3 hours per session.  By this point, Haru have to make a commitment and pretty much quit everything else she is doing (including cheerleading and tumbling), and I know she isn’t ready to do that.   But for advanced gymnastics, we both have time in our schedules to do it at least twice a week.  Three times a week will be more of a challenge, but we will cross that bridge when we get there. So at this point, we are just going to ease in the advanced class to test the waters.  If she enjoys it and is good at it, we will see about bumping it up to twice a week, and maybe even more if she wants to.

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The Most Important Thing in My Life


I promised yesterday that I would try to focus on Haru, and I am going to try to keep that promise, but in a more gradual sense.  I am still feeling an enormous sense of loss and loneliness, and I feel as if the only person who understands me and the profound sadness I feel, is me.  I am at best. a “functional” emotionless zombie at work.  One of my coworkers commented that I looked very fatigued, in which I gave very little or no reaction to, not because I was offended, but because I really didn’t know how I should react.  Right now, I feel as if I have to turn off all emotions while I am at work otherwise I will fall apart, which is never a good thing in a structured environment.

However, by doing this, I feel that my despair over the loss of my dogs are being too suppressed and they tend to build as if I were holding my breath, to the point where I erupt with sadness the moment I walk into the door at home.  I know Haru feels bad for me, but she’s not too sure what to do about it.  It’s totally understandable -I mean, how is a seven year old suppose to react to an adult who constantly cries, especially when it’s their own father.  She came into the bedroom last night and offered me ice cream, which I thought was kind, but I feel so weak in that I couldn’t even sit down and have ice cream with my own daughter.

I think my wife is getting sick of me.  I haven’t eaten much in days now.  Just maybe some bread and orange juice in the morning and that’s about it.  I’m afraid that if I go out to lunch that I will start to think about them again.  It’s best to just keep busy and keep my mind off of them as much as possible. so I would either work through lunch or sit on the bench in front of our office building for an hour and just space out until its time to go back to work.  My wife actually got angry with me last night for not wanting any dinner, but  I really didn’t feel like eating, and being in the living room is still too difficult. Even as I was sitting at the dinner table and Haru was spilling food all over the floor, I would think, it’s okay, Jenna will be by to lick it up, but of course that never happened, and I broke down and cried while my wife looked on with more anger.  I wish she were a little bit more understanding of my pain, rather than caring so much about the time she wasted preparing my dinner. I just wanted to do what I did the night before and just go to sleep so I didn’t have to think about anything anymore.

Last night, I heard noises again.  This time it wasn’t the sound of the dogs walking on the wood floors.  It was whimpering sounds, -the kind of sounds that Princess use to make when she wanted to go outside. I buried my head in pillows and just begged for it to please stop.  Why is my mind torturing me!  But after a while, I realized that the sound wasn’t my imagination; it was real.  So I got up and tried to figure out where it was coming from, but it was so intermittent, that I couldn’t pin point it.  It sounded as if it was coming from the hallway.  Maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me again.  Then it happened again, and it came from Haru’s room.

I went into Haru’s room to check on her to see if she was alright.  Her asthma seemed to be flaring up as she slept, because her breathing sounded rough.  It reminded me of Princess in her final days; her breathing was very rough too.  So naturally I was very worried.  I crawled into her bed with her and every once in a while she would make whimpering sounds in her sleep -the same sounds that I had been hearing all night.  I hugged her, and asked if she wanted to sleep in our bedroom (which she loved to do) but there was no response.  She just continued to sleep.

I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.  My thoughts shifted from the dogs to worrying about Haru.  She is the most important thing in my life, far more important than the dogs, and if anything were to happen to her, I couldn’t imagine being able to continue on.  Life wouldn’t be worth it anymore.  All I could think about was Haru’s breathing and whimpering in the next room, and how Princess did the same thing before she passed away.  So I stayed awake for most of the night making sure that she’d be alright, and walked back and forth to her room periodically to check up on her.

Having only slept a couple of hours or so, I woke up the next morning and immediately checked up on Haru again.  She was breathing much better, and wasn’t whimpering anymore.  I felt a great sense of relief, but then my mind shifted its attention back to the dogs.  But this time, I felt a bit better.  I think that realizing that the most important thing in life for me is Haru, and she is living and breathing and is right there with us.  I need to stop feeling so much misery because it wasn’t doing me any good, nor was it going to bring the dogs back.  I need focus on Haru and give her my full attention going forward, because she is who counts the most. This helped me to take a step closer to coming to terms with the loss of our dogs.  I am still very far from achieving acceptance, but I think I am finally on the road to it.

 

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Haunted by Memories


First of all, I need to apologize to Haru for completely hijacking your blog site.  I know this site is suppose to be dedicated to you, and not so much about me, but I really need a place to write about the sad events of the last couple of days to help me get over the pain.  Perhaps when you are older and hopefully read this, you’ll understand why your father was so sad after Princess and Jenna left us.  I promise that I will return to topic soon.

Yesterday started out okay.  I started the day off pretty confident that I would be stronger, and I refused to let my emotions get to me.  For the most part, I think I did pretty well.  I kept myself busy at work, which kept my mind off of the sadder things.  But at the same time, I barely remember anything I did yesterday.  It was as if my brain was completely on auto-pilot and just doing things without being aware that I was doing them.

I completely skipped lunch because I have had no appetite for days now, but I did go for a walk during my lunch break, which might have been a mistake because it made me think again.  It also reminded me that a part of me is still in denial.  As I was walking, I saw a little stand selling charcoal broiled sweet potatoes -Princess’s and Jenna’s favorite food.  I reached for my wallet while thinking,  I’ve got to buy some.  This will help Princess with her hypoglycemia.  But then, reality hit and I broke down and cried.

Everything has been reminding me of them, and when I say everything I mean absolutely EVERYTHING, even things and objects that has no relationship to the dogs.  For example, as I was doing my routine work yesterday, I would see dates and times on emails and think, Princess and Jenna were still alive then, or Princess and Jenna were doing this then, etc.  And since I work for a pet food company now, seeing pictures of pets and their owners around the office in some ways helps, but in other ways makes me feel even sadder.

But the worst place for me to be right now is at home.  Everything about that house reminds me of them and there is no escape from it.  Pictures in the hallway, the stairway, the living room, the empty water and food dishes in the kitchen, the stock of unused toilet sheets and dog treats are all constant reminders that they are no longer with us.  The living room is the worst.  It’s where we all spent most of out time together, especially the dogs.  The scratches on the hard wood floor where they use to chase each other around, the little memorial we created, the pictures, the painting of the dogs that my mom gave us, the old toys that Princess use to love to play with were in the living room.

As I came home from work  and entered the living room last night, Haru knew I had been crying.  Are you still sad?, she asked.  I just nodded my head because I knew if I tried to say anything I would start sobbing again, which I wound up doing anyway.  I laid on the living room floor for about 15 minutes and the more that I was there, the more difficult it became to be there, so I went up to the bedroom, where I had to pass several pictures of the dogs to get to bringing back even more memories.  I figured that the bedroom had the least reminders of the dogs, but I was wrong.

As I entered the bedroom, it was as if there was a movie playing right before my eyes.  I had an instant flashback of when I use to throw Princess’s favorite blue squeaky toy across the bedroom and play fetch with her, while Jenna would tackle her when she brought it back and try to take it away from her.  It was like I was being tortured with flashbacks -one after another of all of the times we had playing fetch in the bedroom, to the point where I had to just bury myself in a pile of blankets in the hopes that I would just fall asleep and not have to think anymore, so that I could be temporarily relieved from the pain of the memories.

20 minutes later, I was awoken by Haru telling me that dinner was ready, but I was not in the state of mind to where I could go into that living room again.  It was too much, too soon, so I skipped dinner and went back to sleep.

I was constantly awaken by what I thought were the sounds of the dogs walking on the  hard wood floors in the living room.  I knew that it wasn’t real and I kept saying STOP! STOP!  You’re not real!  Go away!  Stop torturing me!  But it kept persisting.  I felt, and still feel as if I may be losing my mind from all of this grief.   They’re just dogs!  Get over it already!  I kept saying to myself.

16 years is huge part of my life -almost 40% of our lives were spent with Princess and Jenna; 100% for Haru. And to have that suddenly gone, feels a like a huge hole.  I guess it’s only understandable that I feel the way I feel, but I have been wondering why my wife wasn’t feeling the same.  How is she functioning?  Is she over them already?  But then I realized that she has still been sleeping on the living room floor, and hasn’t slept in the bedroom since last Saturday night when Jenna passed away.  I guess this is the way she had been grieving.

This will probably be the last time I write about my thoughts (at least on this site.) I doubt Haru would want to go back and read about how her stupid father fell completely apart over two silly dogs.  So hopefully I will be able to return to topic the next time.

 

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OT: New Look


After nearly six years of the same old look, I have decided to freshen up the look of this site a bit.  Although the color scheme is pretty much the same, the coding is newer and incorporates some new technology that will allow me do some more things with this site.  But best off all, the banner changes every time a visitor refreshes the page, so essentially the page will look a bit different every time you come back.

Pretty cool stuff!

 

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OT: On the Quick Road to Recovery


A few months ago, our beloved West Highland White Terrier, Jenna fell ill will Cushing’s Syndrome, a debilitating disease that effects the hormone levels leading to weakness and lethargy.  In addition to her Cushing’s Syndrome, she suffered from a slip disc in her number 6 and 7 vertebrae  that had left nearly completely paralyzed for the last six months.  See the full story here for part 1 and here for part 2.

When we received the diagnosis, we had to make the very critical decision as to whether we would give Jenna a chance to recover from these disabilities, or put her down.  Often times, I would see dog owners carrying around their disabled dogs and think how selfish the owner was for putting their dog through so much.  People may think that our decision to give Jenna a change to live as being hypocritical, and perhaps it is.  But in Jenna’s case, she wasn’t in pain, she had a healthy appetite, and I truly believed that she’d probably recover to some degree.

Over the last six months after the diagnosis, Jenna had been making a steady but very slow recovery.  Her Cushing’s has been under control by medication, and she has gain more mobility, which seems to indicate that her slipped disc was healing too.  In addition to her meals, we have been giving her vitamins and glucosamine, a supplement that helps with joint mobility, which seems to be helping quit a bit.  She seemed to gaining sensation back in her hands again, because she began licking them again -something that she hadn’t done since she lost her ability to walk.  I also noticed that her hands and feet were warm again, whereas they had been ice cold since last September, which meant that blood circulation had been pretty poor, and was now getting better.

Last month, Jenna’s condition took a pretty dramatic change.  Up until last month, we had to hold Jenna up when she was eating or drinking out of her water dish.   When she was at her worst, she wasn’t even strong enough to hold her head high enough to eat or drink, and almost drowned in her water dish at one point.  But last month, we noticed that she had gained enough strength that she could sit up, it she was held up.  Then little by little, we experimented with seeing how long she could sit if we let her go.  At first, it started with just one or two seconds, then she would fall over onto her side.  We did this everyday when we fed her or gave her water.   And each time, the time she was able to sit up unassisted increased by a second or two.  Then it went from 10 seconds of unassisted sitting to 20 seconds…and so on and so forth until she was able to sit up on her own without any assistance for as long as she wanted.

This was HUGE progress.  It was almost like the day Haru learned to sit up on her own.  At the time, I honestly believed that this was the extent of Jenna’s road to recovery.  Being able to sit again was good.  The vet told us that the chances of her being able to even do that was very low, so it was nice to see that the vet was wrong.

Then, at the beginning of this month there was another dramatic change.  One night, I noticed that Jenna was wiggling her hands in feet while she was asleep.  She was probably dreaming of running or walking.   Although the  moments were quite small and subtle, they were undeniably there.  Additionally, I also notice that she began to lick her feet as well, which indicates that she is gaining sensation back in her hind legs.  As an experiment, I tried propping her on all fours to see if she could stand up.   But she almost immediately fell back onto her side.  Hmm…maybe I was wrong.   I didn’t give up though.   I ran to the kitchen to get Jenna’s water dish and filled it up with fresh water.   I placed it in front of her, and propped her up on all fours again.  I held her up as she drank out of her water dish.  I gradually  lightened my grip on her until she was standing on her own.   She was able to stand on her own for a good 20 seconds or so, while she drank her water.  Unfortunately, as soon as she finished drinking and realized she was standing, she fell over again.  I then realized that her inability to stand may  be kind of psychological.  I know that may sound ridiculous, but since she hadn’t stood up on her own in nearly six months, she probably has accepted that she can’t stand anymore.  The vet even confirmed this by saying that if she ever regains her ability to stand or walk physically, she would need to relearn how to do everything again, because she probably has forgotten.

So for the last week, Haruka, my wife, and I have been taking turns in rehabilitating Jenna, by teaching her how to stand and walk.  Over the course of a couple of days, she had gone from only being able to stand when she was eating or drinking, to being able to stand for extended periods of time without food or water in front of her.  Then one night when I returned home from work, I walked into the living room.  Haru and my wife were taking a bath so it was just the dogs there.  Princess was asleep on the sofa, and Jenna was oddly standing up on all fours in the middle of the living room by herself.  I figured that Haru had been doing her rehabilitation on Jenna and just left her standing  in the middle of the room, while she ran off to take a bath.  Poor dog.  I sat her down in a more comfortable position.

When Haru got out form her bath, I told her how Jenna was just standing in the middle of the living room, and she should have laid her down, because she might know how to lay down from a standing position without falling over.   Haru then said that Jenna was asleep in her bed when she went to take her bath.  Strange….could Jenna have stood up on her own?

Later that night, as my wife was fixing Princess’s and Jenna’s food, Jenna grew restless as she normally does when she knows her food is being prepared.  She would usually try to roll across the living room to a position to where she could get a better view of the kitchen.  But this time, she did something different.  This time she pushed herself up to what looked like someone trying to do pushups but having a hard time doing it, and managed to prop herself up to a standing position on her own.  We were all astonished.  She stood their for several minutes just watching until her food was finally delivered.  She was so overexcited, that she lunged forward as if she was going to walk, but immediately stumbled and fell over. Again, this was proof that she probably has the physical ability to walk, but doesn’t remember how to do it, and needs to relearn it.

Then, just last weekend, Jenna took her first steps in nearly six months.   We placed her on a non slip rubber yoga mat that Haru sometimes uses to practice her cheers and gymnastics.  The mat is about 2 meters long.   We placed a dog treat at one end of the mat, and propped Jenna up on all fours at the other end.  At first, she struggled.  She wasn’t even able get a quarter of the way down the 2 meter mat without literally falling on her face.  Then for some strange reason, she was able to walk backwards for quite a distance but could not walk forward anymore.

After several minutes of trying, Jenna was finally able to walk across the mat to her treat and eat it.  This was probably the hardest she ever had to work just to get a treat.  My next goal for her is to get her to walk a longer distance so that we can take her fore short walks.  But maybe that’s a quite a while ahead….who knows though.

A video of Haru’s rehabilitation session with Jenna:


Fast Tube by Casper

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OT:Southern California


For the last 2 weeks, I have been in Manhattan Beach, California on a business trip.  It’s been several years since I visited southern California, but its never been an area that I’m familiar with, so I can’t really tell what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.   Southern California is definitely a beautiful part of the country.  For the entire duration of my trip, the weather had been very nice.  Not too hot, and  constant 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit ..it was perfect weather.

However, not everything was blissful.  The hotel that my company put me in wasn’t too great.  Although the location was very good (walking distance from supermarkets, department stores and restaurants, and  not to mention only a 5 minute drive to work, which allowed me to sleep in pretty late every morning, the hotel itself really sucked.  It had more of a motel, motor lodge type of feel to it.

They initially put me on the lower floor of a two story unit.  The “guests” (more like a herd of elephants) upstairs where so horribly loud that it was very difficult getting to sleep every night.  The ceiling would thump and squeal for several hours every night because the person/people upstairs apparently had a hard time sitting still for more than 5 minutes at a time.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back came on the Friday night during my trip.  At about 3AM, I heard what started out as a knocking on my window.  Obviously this woke me up, but I figured that it was either the people upstairs again or the people next door.  But then the knocking gradually got louder and louder until it became banging.  We’re not talking bang! bang! bang!, please let me in.  More like BANG! BANG! BANG! I’M COMING IN!  This soon escalated into what sounded like an attempt to kick the door open.  Obviously terrified at this point, I called the front desk and told them that someone was trying to break into my room.  I  resisted the temptation to look out the window or open the door, because there was no telling what this person’s intentions were.

After a few minutes, the thrashing subsided, and I could hear some voices in the distance.  I couldn’t hear the conversation, but I assumed that it may have been the security guard or police speaking to the person who was trying to break into my room.  After several minutes of peace, I was so worked up by the this, and the adrenaline was coursing so much through my veins, that I couldn’t back to sleep.  I peeked out the window and saw that no one was there, but just to be safe, I grabbed a steak knife from the kitchen and put it in my back pocket.

I opened the front door and immediately noticed a plastic key card laying on the ground in front of the door.  I immediately checked my wallet to make sure that I had both of my key cards, and I did.   It immediately dawned on me that the person trying to break into my room probably dropped this key.  I picked it up and walked over to the front office, in the hopes that they could  shed some light on the situation, or at least put my mind at peace so I could get to sleep.

I gave the front desk agent the key and demanded that I get a room change.  He explained to me that one of the guests was very drunk and had mistaken my room for his on.  I was very upset by this and demanded that the change my room THAT DAY.  They agreed.

A few hours later, as I was having breakfast in the hotel lobby, a group of Hispanic kids several tables away were talking about their drunken tirade from the night before.  This immediately got my attention.  As the conversation progressed, I found the perpetrator that terrorized me several hours earlier.  He was probably in his late teens or early 20’s, and apparently very drunk and disorientated from having too much to drink.  I had the good mind to go over and tell him how he terrorized me during his tirade and embarrass him in front of his friends, but decided to let it be.  He was just a stupid kid who do what stupid kids do, so there would be no point in me telling me how dumb he is because its not going to change anything.

The hotel put me in a slightly quieter unit on the upper floor.  It was still noisy from the pool parties and the traffic from the streets, but it was an improvement.  But despite the crappy hotel experience, it was a pretty good trip.  Hopefully I can go back again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

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OT:Doggy Dilemma


It started around two weeks ago shortly after Haruka and my wife returned from their spring vacation to Yamaguchi.  The dogs has stayed home with me, because I had to take care of business at work, and couldn’t really go anywhere this year.

Princess, one of our beloved Westies, was sleeping on the living room floor as she normally does, while I was outside working on our wood deck.  As she got up to move to a different part of the room, apparently she lost her balance and fell.  Since our dogs are so small, there is no real danger of injuries if they fall over, but it was really strange that she even fell in the first place.  My wife witnessed the whole incident and immediately noticed that something was wrong with Princess.  She was disorientated, as if she didn’t know where she was, and she was twitching and convulsing.  Not quite understanding what was going on with her, my wife immediately took her outside in the hopes that some fresh air may revive her and help to get her orientation back.

They returned a few minutes later, and my wife called me in from the deck.  Princess was still very disorientated, and had trouble walking.  She would walk into furniture and other obstacles as  if she were blind.  When I waved my hand in from of her face, she did not respond; it was clear that she was unable to see me.  We placed her on the sofa, but she tried to jump off, probably because she was frighted from the the sudden loss of sight.  I tried to remain calm but I was really frightened for her.  I tried to keep her stationary on the sofa, and comforted her by petting her and ensuring her that we were nearby.  After a few minutes, she began to calm down.  She seemed to be regaining her orientation again, so I waved an object in front of her face again, and she was able to track it with her eyes again, so it looked as if she had regained her vision back.

After about 30 minutes, Princess seemed to be back to normal.  She was able to see, and walk straight.  She even got her appetite back.  Puzzled, I wasn’t too sure what to make of what just happened.  Prior to the brief but very scary incident, I was weatherproofing the deck with wood sealer, so I thought that maybe the fumes had made her sick.  For the rest of the day, she was perfectly normal, so I didn’t think too much of it after that.  But, that wasn’t the end of it.

Princess had gone a few days without incident.  Then, one night, my wife and I were up later than usual watching TV.  Both Princess and Jenna were in the living room sleeping as usual.  At about 1AM, we went upstairs to prepare for bed.  Princess and Jenna slept in their usual place out in the hallway in their doggy beds.  About an hour later, as I was falling asleep, I was awakened by noises coming from the hallway downstairs.  It sounded like one of the dogs was pacing back and forth down the hall.  I figured that one of them was having problems getting comfortable or perhaps something (like noise from the outside or maybe the light in the toilet -which has a motion sensor that turns on the light when it senses movement, had awakened them.  However, the pacing persisted for several minutes and it didn’t seem like it was going to let up.

Knowing that I would not be able to sleep until I knew what was happening, I went downstairs to investigate.  When I got to the downstairs hallway, I saw Princess at the end of the hallway pacing aimlessly.  After a few seconds, she finally noticed me,  and she walked up and started to whimper.   I immediately noticed that her face was wet, especially around her mouth.  She had been panting and drooling heavily.

I took her into the living room and immediately gave her fresh dish of water, but she refused to drink.  She just continued to whimper and crawled up onto my lap.  I petted her for few minutes to try to comfort her, and at that moment I realized that she probably had just had another incident.  I went upstairs and woke up my wife, because I wasn’t sure if Princess was going to be okay or not.  We both tried to comfort Princess, but she  continued to act confused and disorientated.  I don’t think she realized what time of day it was because she kept prompting us and Jenna (who was half asleep) to play.  We tried for several minutes to get her to go back to sleep, but she was very energetic and wanted to play.  We had no choice but to try to tire her out so she would sleep, so we took her for a fairly long walk at 2:30 in the morning.

We leashed up both Princess and Jenna and took them for a walk around the neighborhood.  Initially, it was just going to be a quick trot around the block, Princess was so abnormally hyper that she probably wouldn’t have gone to sleep had we returned home too early.  So we wound up taking a nearly 45 minute walk in the middle of the night.  Jenna was already clearly very tired and wanted  sleep, and so were we, but Princess probably could have gone on for several more minutes if we had let her.  But after a while, we decided that enough was enough and we returned home.  Princess was still in a playful mood, so we turned off every single light (including the motion sensing light in the toilet) and left the dogs to get to sleep on their own.  After a few minutes, Princess seemed to have tired out and eventually went to sleep.

The next morning, my wife and contemplated on whether or not to take her to the vet.  But we both agreed that all the vet would do is tell us that Princess is an aging dog, and that it could be any number of things.  So I did what anyone else would have done in the modern age of computers.  I Googled her symptoms (the wandering around in the middle of the night, wanting to play at odd hours, inexhaustible energy, sleeplessness etc.) and I came up with Canine Dementia.   Although the symptoms weren’t a perfect match, it seemed to be close to Princess’s behavior the previous night, so we started treating her ailment as being canine dementia.  The treatment is similar to that of human dementia, and that is to expose her to as much stimuli as possible.  Frequent walks, and exposure to other dogs, and as much attention we could possibly give her.  But it was the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

Over the next week, Princess had 2 more seizures -once in the middle of the day, and then again in the middle of the night a few days later.  And again, we had the challenge of trying to get her back to sleep again.  By now, I was really concerned.  This was definitely not canine dementia, nor anything associated with old age, or exposure to household chemicals.  I had spent several hours online at this point researching and narrowed it down to few possible illnesses: kidney or liver failure, a brain tumor, or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  I didn’t even want to believe that it could be a brain tumor, but the symptoms were uncomfortably very close to what she was experiencing.  If it was a brain tumor, there is no cure aside from surgery.  This would be very costly, because it would involve expensive CAT or MRI brain scans, then surgery in which there would be a high probability of death during the procedure because of her age.  kidney or liver failure would only be marginally better.  At least they can be treated with medication or maybe less invasive surgery.  Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) would in this case be the best case scenario.  The treatment requires no surgery or drugs.  It would be a matter of just changing what she eats,assuming that there are no other underlying problems.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the opportunity to test my theory. Shortly after I read the articles about the effects of hypoglycemia on dogs, Princess had another seizure.   This time it lasted about 20 minutes.  Although it lasted much longer than the previous seizures, it was less violent, and Princess seemed more coherent and less disorientated than the last few times.  We decided not to take chances this time, and to take her to the vet to get an expert analysis.  My wife had to take Haru to one of her events so we agreed to meet later at the vets office.  Princess slept for about an hour after her last seizure.  I still believed that my hypothesis was correct and that Princess was suffering from hypoglycemia, so I fed Princess some high GI (glucose index or foods with high complex sugar contents) foods.  I gave her some dog biscuits that were dipped in honey, which she loved, and a piece of banana.   I noticed that she seemed to recover really quick after that, and she immediately became more coherent and aware of her surroundings.  Before I loaded her into the car, I gave her another lick of honey (which is a quick fix for hypoglycemic animals and people.)

As expected, the vet gave the same dreadful talk about how Princess is an aging dog, and that her illness could one of many things -basically information I already knew, and got for free from surfing the internet.  Eventually, after condemning Princess to death, she suggested that she take a blood sample so that we could get a more definitive answer to what it may be (or what it isn’t) so that we don’t have to keep speculating.  So we agreed to a blood test, which in my mind was the best thing we took away from this visit to the vet.

The blood test came back as negative for, chemical poisoning, and liver and kidney failure, which was a relief.  Everything else was normal except for blood sugar level.   According to the vet, the blood sugar level should not be any lower than 60mg/dL; Princess was at 50mg/dL.  The vet said that 50mg/dL is pretty low, but would not be low enough to cause a seizure.  For a moment, I was discouraged and upset because I thought that would be conclusive evidence that all of these seizures were caused by her sugar levels.  But then, I remembered that prior to coming to the vet’s office, I had given Princess a dog biscuit and some honey -both very high in glucose (complex sugar) so her sugar level should have spiked before her blood test.  When I explained that to the vet, she agreed that the blood sugar level may have been low enough to have caused a seizure.  Although its still just a theory, I think its a storng one with good evidence behind it now.

As a precautionary measure, the vet prescribed some anti-seizure medication which we give to Princess twice a day.  This isn’t a miracle drug, and it takes long time for it to build up within the system for it to take effect, so we won’t be able to see the affects of it for weeks.  In the meantime, we have been feeding both Princess and Jenna three small high glucose meals in addition to their two regular meals every day.  We can already see a difference in the behavior in both dogs.  They sleep less, seem less fatigued, and much more energetic.  Although its only been four days, Princess has yet to have another seizure, and I feel pretty confident that she probably won’t (cross fingers).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OT: Dumb Dog!


Princess, our 13 year old West Highland White Terrier had fallen ill recently.  She had been shivering a lot which made me naturally think that she was cold, so I laid her on the sofa and covered her with a small blanket.  But after a while, she would kick off the blankets and start panting as if she were hot.  She also refused to eat anything even though I can tell that she was hungry.  Occasionally she would look to be in pain, but nothing too serious from what I can tell.  She did this about a  month ago as well, but she was back to normal within a couple of days, so I figured that she may have eaten something that she wasn’t suppose to eat, and it will eventually pass.

However, after about the third day, her condition didn’t look to be improving so we took her to the nearby vet.  We figured that we could take her to the vet in the morning,  the vet would just subscribe some stomach medication, and then we would be on our way to Haru’s gymnastics lesson by the afternoon.  However, that wasn’t the case.

Princess was given a series of blood tests, x-rays, and barium tests, but nothing really showed up at first.   The vet was looking for a foreign object like a small toy that she may have swallowed, but Princess never had the habit of chewing or swallowing inedible objects, so I already knew that the x-rays weren’t going to show anything.  The blood tests also initially came back negative (nothing abnormal).  So we were all pretty stumped.  A dog can’t fake being sick or intentionally go without eating  for three days, so it was quite obvious that something was bothering her.

We left Princess in the care of the vet for the day and returned later in the evening to get the full results of the blood test and barium test.  The blood test showed that she had some kind of infection somewhere in her body.  What this means is that she had some kind of internal injury that was trying to heal.  The barium test, which is a process of swallowing barium -a metallic solution that shows up on x-rays, showed that her digestive system was not working well.  The barium flowed past stomach and up to a certain point in her intestines, but then it would stop, as if something were blocking the passage.

The vet had told us that there was a hard object stuck in her intestines, but she wasn’t sure what it was, because it didn’t show up on the x-rays.  It was large enough to block digestion and the vet said that she can even feel the object in her stomach.  At first, the vet suggested that Princess get sedated so that the can stick a camera down her digestive track to get a better idea of what the object is.  However, since it was obvious that there was an object in her digestive track that shouldn’t be there, and given the fact that Princess had eaten and drank very little in the last three days, it would be better to just have the object surgically removed as soon as possible.

As we all came to the mutual agreement to  have Princess skip the camera exam and have her operated on immediately, the vet gave us a very grim speech about how it is very probable that since Princess had not eaten anything in a while and very weak from this, the there was a fair chance that she may not survive the surgery.  At that moment, the realization that Princess may die that night struck me hard.  When we took Princess to the vet earlier that morning, it never dawned on me that she may not be coming home with us.  I thought it would be a 30 minute visit at best, and the vet would tell us that she just had an upset stomach from eating something that Haru may have dropped on the floor while snacking.  But all of a sudden, the reality of losing my dog became very real, and it saddened me profoundly.

After the grim speech, the vet reminded us that this was serious surgery and could be a financial burden on us, and implied that some people tend to opt out and choose to euthanize instead.  For me, this was not an option of course.  I am all for euthanasia  when the pet is terminal and has very little or no chance of living a normal life again.  I see no point in letting a pet live in misery just for the sake of the owner’s own emotional benefit.  Of course, if this option was ever presented to me, it would be an extremely difficult choice to make.   I know that Princess isn’t going to live forever, and that there will be a time when we will really need to say our goodbyes, but it wasn’t going to be now.    Her condition was far from terminal and she has a very good chance of making a full recovery, and we were financially capable of paying for the surgery, so it was it was an easy decision to make.

After all of the grim talk by the vet, who obviously failed her exam on bed side manners, we said our goodbyes to Princess, which may have been the very last time we see her alive. I didn’t want to let  Haru know that Princess might not come home, and reassured her that she’ll be okay after her her surgery.   The 15 minute trip home seemed like a lifetime for me.  I was thinking of the very first day we brought Princess and Jenna home.  They were so tiny, barely 6 weeks old, yet extremely energetic.  They ate everything, got into everything, and always made a mess out of everything.  I thought about all of the trips we took, and regretted not being able to take them on more trips.  I thought about how careful we were to feed them only the right foods, and not to feed them junk or dog food to ensure that they would live a long an healthy life.  And to think that our efforts to keep them healthy may have been futile, because Princess swallowed some small toy or other foreign object made me mad at myself.

The vets (apparently there were multiple surgeons working on Princess) operated that night to remove this mystery object that was causing Princess’s ailment.  I kept thinking that it was one of the many toys that Haru leaves lying around, but it would be very out of character for Princess to pick up one of her toys and swallow it.  Then I thought maybe it was something I fed her.  Recently,  I got into the habit of giving both Princess and Jenna some of my popcorn on my Saturday movie nights.  They both LOVE popcorn, and often fight over it when I drop it on the floor.  They are so competitive, that it could have well been that Princess may have swallowed a piece without chewing it.  But popcorn is not only water soluble, it is very digestible, so I immediately dismissed this as the possible problem.

Later that night, we got a call from the vet.  It was pretty late at night so I was very nervous that something bad might have happened.  My wife answered the phone and spoke the vet about Princess’s condition.  During the course of the conversation, my wife’s tone must have shifted from surprised, happy, sad, concerned, and a whole spectrum of other emotions which made jumpy the whole time.  Judging by the tone, it could have been anything  And she was doing more listening than talking, I couldn’t tell if results were negative or positive.  Then at one point she said,  CORN?  loudly, at which point my heart sunk into my stomach.  I couldn’t believe it.  So it was the popcorn!  This is completely my fault!  I thought to myself as I felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt eating me.  If I hadn’t given her popcorn, she wouldn’t be in the hospital now having surgery.  She wouldn’t have suffered the pain she suffered the last three days.  She wouldn’t have had to have possibly life-threatening surgery.  I felt so bad, and at the moment, my thoughts shifted to Jenna who also pigged down popcorn.  Jenna’s digestive system tended to be less tolerant and somewhat weaker in situations like this.  Is she going to need surgery too?  And being the weaker of the two, would she survive the surgery?  But Jenna didn’t show any signs of pain or irregularity.  She had a strong appetite and seemed to be normal, which was a bit puzzling.  How could popcorn get stuck in Princess’s  guts, and yet have not affect on Jenna?

After she finished the call with the vet, my wife had explained to me that she (the vet) had found a corn-like object in her intestines, which had hardened and eventually ruptured her intestines and was becoming infected.  Her intestines were in the process of healing but the hardened corn was still stuck and causing blockage and needed to be removed.   The vets had removed the hardened corn and a small portion of her intestines where infection had set in.  Although it was too early to tell, Princess was doing well and was expected to make a full recovery.

The next morning, we all headed over the vet’s office. We even took Jenna with us, because this was the first time Jenna was left alone by herself for a long period of time.  I didn’t want her to feel that we were abandoning her.  After a short wait, they brought Princess out into the examining room.  She still looked groggy from the sedatives, but she definitely looked better.  She wasn’t squinting her eyes, panting, or shivering like she did before the surgery.  I was still feeling a bit guilty about having being the cause of her pain, but I felt a lot better knowing that she was going to be alright.  The vet brought out a little zip lock back with the object that had been blocking Princess’s intestines.   I imagined that the popcorn would look more like well ….a piece of popcorn, yellow but a bit more deteriorated and digested.   It looked nothing like corn or popcorn.  It was about the sized of quarter and black like a clump of mud.  It was a bit elongated and somewhat bumpy and thorny.  I was trying to figure out how this object could possibly be popcorn.  Was it many pieces of popcorn clumped together?  Apparently, my wife was thinking the same thing because she told the vet that the object doesn’t look like popcorn.  The vet explained that the blackened and thorny object was corn, not popcorn.  Apparently we had just assumed it was popcorn because that’s what I had been feeding her, but the vet never said it was popcorn.  She held object up and pointed to the pores where the the corn kernels would normally grow out of it.  My wife gave an immediate “oh my god!” look and explained that Princess had raided the trash bin several months ago, and a bag of eaten corn cobs went missing.  She assumed that one of the dogs had eaten them, but would be okay, since they didn’t get sick.   I immediately  felt a sense of vindication that I was not the cause of Princess’s ordeal, as I had never given her a corn cob.   It was her own doing!  Dumb dog raided the trash and now feeling the affects several months later.

The vet pulled out another zip lock back with another quarter-sized blackened object, except this one looked somewhat soft and mushy.  The vet explained that the object was a portion of Princess’s intestines that was damaged and had become infected.  The portion of intestine tried to heal itself but since the corn cob was still stuck, it had become infected.  The vets removed the damaged area and reattached the healthy areas.

Finally, the vet pulled out a digital camera from a drawer and showed us the pictures that were taken during the surgery.  The picture showed what looked like Princess’s entire digestive system partially pulled out of her abdomen and sprawled out on the operating table. It was much more than I needed to see.  I imagined that the surgery would be done with her insides still inside her body, but apparently they pull everything out which is incredible.  The vet explained that she inspected most of her digestive track to make sure that there were no other objects or blockages that may cause problems later.

Princess spent a couple of more days at the hospital recovering from the surgery.  The vet called us everyday  to give us progress reports.  The day after the surgery, Princess’s usual very hungry appetite returned and she slurped up all of her hospital food and begged for more.  When she came home, the first thing she did was look for food, which was a very good sign that she will recover fully.

 

 

 

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Need More Power!


The weather has  been pretty weird lately.  We had a pretty strong typhoon last week, and the news even reported that a tornado touched down in our area.  The winds were very strong, to the point where we had to close the steel shutters on our windows because there were hard objects starting to hit them.  Luckily nothing important broke.   One of the railing from our wooden deck came loose and broke in half, but it was no big deal.

Last week, I started doing the Atkins diet.  I’ m not horribly overweight or anything, but I did gain about 10 pounds in the last few months, which is not too big of a deal.  The main reason why I started this diet is so that I can lose the 10+ extra pounds so that I can do do some weight training.    I want to be able to get into better shape so that I can demonstrate how to do proper cartwheels and round offs to Haru.   Although there is no way I can do round off  in my present physical state, I can still do cartwheels.  However, I feel very heavy, slow, and off center when I do them, so I want trim down a bit and gain some strength in  my arms so that I can get it right.

The diet so far has been…well let’s just say its been difficult.  After seven days of being very faithful, and strictly eating less that 20 grams of carbohydrates per day as suggested by the program, I have lost a grand total of 3 lbs (as of yesterday morning).  When I checked my weight this morning, I had gained one pound back.  Of course, the one pound gain means nothing and could be just water weight.  I am trying hard not to let it discourage me, but admittedly it was very discouraging considering the amount of effort that I have been putting into this thing.

Last Saturday, I cooked myself a low carb breakfast.  I calculated it to about 2 grams of carbohydrates total.  By comparison, a proper breakfast should be about 50 to 75 grams of carbohydrates (cereal, bread or rice, milk, and some intake of sugar).  So there wasn’t much source of energy there.  Haru, as always, wanted what I was eating, so without realizing that there wasn’t enough carbs for her, I pretty much gave her what I was having (bacon, eggs, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and lettuce)…doesn’t sound too bad on the surface, but it’s hardly a power breakfast by any means, especially for a 4 year old who’s about to do a power hungry sport like gymnastics.

We took her to her gymnastics class earlier than usual so that she had some time to practice. I coaxed her into practicing  her rolls and cartwheels.  She wasn’t able to nail any of her landings and seemed to be easily distracted.  She wasn’t able to concentrated on what she was doing, and seemed to be very sluggish.  Right away, I realized that the low carb breakfast was affecting her performance.  I even spotted her yawning and rubbing her eyes during class which she never did before.  I wanted desperately to run out and buy a candy bar for her but her class had already started.

Aside from being bit sluggish and lacking focus throughout practice,  Haru  was able to finish practice without any problems.  She was still able to nail some of cartwheel although they looked to be a bit off balance.  From this experience and my experience from that week, I learned the what you eat is very important, and does affect your performance throughout the day.  Although I don’t need much carbs in my diet, Haru needs plenty, otherwise she runs like a car running out of gas.  Next Saturday, she’ll definitely will be getting an energy pack breakfast before practice to make sure she can concentrate and perform well.

 

 

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Incompetent Parenting


No pictures today.  I wanted to really dedicate and focus on a topic that has really been bothering me for a very VERY long time now.  So if you are looking for updates on Haru, or pictures or videos, move on, because there won’t be any this time.

click “Continue Reading” below for the rest of this post.

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