Saturday, December 29, 2007

Home Again!

And very happy my little dog-family are still all here. Herbie found it tiring to be surrounded by lots of other people, and put himself to bed as soon as we got back. Holly, on the other hand, sniffed round the house, then went to the front door, as if to say "OK, you can take me back to the party now".

One of my brothers, who only sees her every 3 or 4 months, couldn't believe how sociable she's become. When she first came to me, all humans were dubious, except me (because I fed her). Slowly, she's come to accept other people, and now she ricochets off them like a skate-boarder off a ramp. We're still working on the "Humans are NOT launch-pads" command.

It's been a long year, but it was the year I found Graham's article in Dogs Today, the same week Herbie was diagnosed with lymphoma. Unfortunately, by the time the article appeared, Prince had gone to the bridge, but I was comforted to read about someone else's experience - I felt less alone. Since then, I've also found Fiona with Yogi's journey and this week, Emily, with Maggie (and the guide-dogs in training!) In the time Herbie's had lymphoma (first lumps appeared in April, but he was being treated for auto-immune disease until September), there have been two dogs I've known of, Daisy the boxer, and Peatie McSweetie the greyhound, who passed on within a few days of diagnosis, before they were able to start chemo. I've been very lucky, and I am so grateful for every day that there are fresh muddy footprints on my duvet cover.

I'm not making New Year's Resolutions this year, but I am making New Year wishes, for myself and for everyone else going through this: Stay lucky!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We've Eaten the Reindeer...

... and if we don't get our presents soon, we'll start in on Santa...

It's been another dark, foggy day, and the hounds are getting restless. They've piled all their bones and blankies into a heap, while planning their next move. I'm about to pack the car, so we can go to my Dad's for Christmas (only a couple of miles down the road, so not a big trip!)
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mind You Get My Good Side...

Herbie won't let me take photos of the side with no whiskers. His left side still has whiskers, but he gets grumpy when I follow him round with a camera. It's also Chemo Week 16, and last week's dose really knocked him for six. His blood test today shows that everything looks fine, but he's definitely weaker. I'm hoping that next week's Christmas goose (old Scandinavian tradition) will perk him up!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jack Frost...

... has stolen Herbie's whiskers - but only half of them! OK, I know it's the doxorubicin really, but I woke up this morning to find a couple of long black spikey whiskers on the duvet cover. I looked at Herb more closely, and the whiskers on the right side of his face have gone AWOL overnight.

I don't know why, I was expecting the hair loss to be more gradual. I know dogs don't lose hair anything like as much as humans do during chemo, but I somehow thought it would be more evenly spread. I'll see if I can get a picture of Half-Whiskered Herbie, but there's so little light today - hard frost and grey grey grey.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Vaccine One Day?

In this week's Dog World, in the breed notes for Rhodesian Ridgebacks, there was mention of a vaccine being developed for lymphoma at Penn State University - I found details of the clinical trials here:

I don't normally read the dog weeklies, that are all about show dogs, but a neighbour, who used to show labradors, mentioned the article, so I bought a copy. Apparently the dog who first trialled the vaccine has been cancer-free for three years now. I hope the trials are successful, and that the vaccine becomes available over here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chemo Week 15

The third dose of doxorubicin, and another visit to Mr. Lowe in Knaresborough. Herbie was un-nerved by it all, in part because another dog was protesting in the background the whole time. She was in for an operation, and not happy. I stayed with Herbie while he fought the anaesthetic, then waited until he was done. He's always very groggy, and keen to get back in the car.

While the results aren't as good as I'd hoped, the nodes aren't getting worse, and the popliteal nodes are down. The vet thinks that as long as the drugs are keeping the cancer in check, and he's not reacting badly to the drugs, it's worth continuing, so we're due back at the beginning of January.

When we got home, crisis! Herbie seemed to have dislocated a toe on his left back foot, and suddenly the nail was 90 degrees north of where it normally is, and his whole foot was splayed because a middle toe was lying sideways. I rang my usual vets, we rushed round, and as he jumped out of the car, he yelped. He'd relocated his own toe, he didn't want any more vets, thank you. I marched him in anyway, and the vet on duty said yeah, that happens sometimes, keep an eye on him in case.

Herbie's still coming round. It takes him all day to get over these treatments, and he's often a bit fragile the day after. I'm beginning to feel that way myself...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Random Weekend Musings

When you tag people, there's always people you miss - in this case Ritinrider, with her blog about scholarships (see, this is why I have dogs, I can afford training classes), and Erika the Wordsmith, who manages to write despite the efforts of the cutest toddler ever (and if he could be guaranteed to stay that size for ever, I would consider adding one to the menagerie!)

Here in the Northlands, we have managed to snatch a dry walk in between the rain and snow showers.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tagged twice in one week

Well, tough, folks, you're only getting the one set of facts. Tagging may be a fun game to play, but there are limits! The man responsible for all these shenanigans lives here:

Rules:Link to the tagger and post these rules on your blog. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1) I grew up in Bahrain, where we had street dogs, who lived partly in a nearby palm grove, partly in the shade of our garden wall. They all looked to be part saluki, but my favourite, Sandy, had a curled-over tail like a basenji. They got all our left-overs.

2) I used to work in a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye called Murder and Mayhem (and felt right at home!)

3) I've written to my MP a couple of times now about greyhound welfare, and it's a real thrill to get a thick envelope back with the House of Commons logo on it (OK, know that sounds weird).

4) Recently packed in a job in local government - once thought it was a good idea, but then I worked for this one council...

5) I adopted Herbie from Sister Lilley, who appears in the James Herriot books as Sister Rose -she's in her 90s now, and has been adopting dogs out for the last 60 years or more.

As for passing the tagging on, I was going to select some blogs at random by pressing the "next Blog" button, but the first one, although all in Spanish, had a picture of a lady with no clothes who appeared to have lost her contact lens, she was crawling across the floor looking for it, and that's when I thought the Naked People Who've Lost Things blog probably wasn't a good one to link to, so instead, it's the Dog Virgin, Nancy (and family), YM, KaylyRed and Nigel and Sola. Sorry guys, but it's a dog-tag-dog world out there...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chemo Week 14

Phew. Made it past the 13-week unlucky stage. Herbie is feeling much better as we scale the steroids down, to the point of naughtiness. We don't have many house rules, but one of them is: No Bones Upstairs. All dog-food remains downstairs.

Herbie smuggled a bone past me and into his bed in my bedroom. Holly's only ever tried it the once, and was caught straight away, clonking it up the stairs. Herbie got away with it for some time, until I realised the funny noise I could hear was Herbie grinding a bone down.

I can't be cross with him, in fact I'm rather pleased he's feeling well enough to misbehave. On the larger doses of steroids, he stops being a dog and starts being an ornament that needs feeding. He just lies in a little heap all day and doesn't want walks or attention. Now he's being pesky, and it's a huge relief.