The News No One Wants to Get

I’ve been dreading writing this post. I took Snowy back to the vet on Jan. 30 to get her stitches out and to re-check her UTI, which I had a sneaking suspicion had come back. Well, the recurrence of the UTI ended up being the least significant news we were about to get.

The unofficial meeter and greeter of the waiting room.

The unofficial meeter and greeter of the waiting room.

Snowy almost definitely has cancer.

"Cancer? Tell that vet I feel fine!!"

“Cancer? Tell that vet I feel fine!!”

She has tumors in her bladder and while the vet will not 100% commit to the diagnosis of cancer, she has explained to me that almost every instance of tumors in a bladder is cancer. In essence, she is treating this as cancer until we find out otherwise. For a change, I’m not being pessimistic here – our vet feels quite strongly that we’re dealing with cancer and based on her seriousness in relaying the results to me, it’s apparent she’s quite concerned.

Snowy was only concerned with the noises outside the exam room door.

Snowy was only concerned with the noises outside the exam room door.

The one piece of good news we had was that Snowy’s chest xrays on Friday were clear, meaning the cancer has not spread to her chest (the first place cancer usually spreads, or so I was told).

Next week, Snowy will go to the same surgeon who operated on Lucy to get the tumors removed. After the tumors are biopsied, we will determine the next step if it is confirmed she does indeed have cancer. If Snowy has cancer, there may be no way to permanently “cure” her; radiation pills may simply prolong her life, not cure her of cancer. But I’m hoping that’s a worst-case scenario and we can do more than prolong her life.

"You are NOT putting that cone back on me!"

“You are NOT putting that cone back on me!”

There are too many unknowns to go into a lot of detail about what-ifs and her life post-operation, including adoption. Honestly, while I’m dreading another surgery, next Friday and the subsequent biopsy results cannot come quickly enough.

This is going to be a costly surgery (several thousand dollars) and so I’m going to make a shameless plug that S.N.O.R.T. will gladly accept any donations towards Snowy’s surgery. You can donate via Paypal and make a notation that your donation is for Snowy.

Off to snuggle with my girls.

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What I Want to Remember

I write a lot about problems, stories and events surrounding my dog(s) and it’s fun to look back every once in a while and read about what we did on a certain day or what it was like to travel with Lucy as a puppy, etc.

Baby Lucy

Baby Lucy

However, one thing I noticed after Cindy (Nellie) was adopted was how much I didn’t write about. What I mean is I forgot to write about the things made Cindy, well, Cindy. I wrote all about her vet visits, health problems and how sweet she was but I didn’t really capture the small details during her time with us. As someone who loves writing, that makes me upset at myself as my goal of writing should be to capture the real essence of something, in this case a dog.

For example, one of the things I remember most is how when she was lying down, she’d exhale so hard her cheeks would puff out. Or how she’d practically sit on a person’s feet so they would pet her.

Paws crossed like a lady.

Paws crossed like a lady.

But sadly a lot of the specific details don’t go much beyond that. So before Snowy leaves us, I wanted to document for myself what it is about Snowy that makes her unique; the small details I don’t want to forget about after she’s gone:

– Snowy’s nubbin. Most bulldogs’ tails don’t wag because they don’t really have tails. Lucy just wiggles her entire butt. Snowy’s little nubbin, though, shakes and shakes and shakes! Sometimes all you have to do is just talk to her and her nubbin starts going.

– She’s not really a snuggler in the same way Cindy was. Don’t get me wrong, she must be near a human at all times but if we’re on the couch, she’s content to just lay with you, not on you. She’ll certainly let you snuggle her and occasionally she’ll rest her head on my lap but mostly she just wants someone near her.

Chillin'

Chillin’

– Her hoppy dance. She is just so freaking happy when someone comes home that she hops around on her back legs. It starts with a big head bob/swing to get her momentum going and then she just hops and hops all over the place.

– Her version of “play.” Snowy doesn’t really get, or care to get, the whole idea of fetch or tug of war. She’d rather grab a chew toy and run up onto the couch with it and then repeat that process over and over until pretty much all the toys are up on the couch.

Hoarder

Hoarder

– Mealtime. Her food bowl NEVER winds up where it started. Sometimes it only moves a matter of feet, sometimes it winds up in a different room!

– Her belches. They could rival the belch of any human in both volume and length. And smell. And they happen after every single meal, without fail.

– Her love of the outdoors. Minus when it’s so cold outside it’s dangerous, she loves being outside and loves going for walks. However, when she decides she’s done with her business, she sprints to our front door to wait for us to let her in. She has some serious speed.

Yay, people and grass under my paws!

“Yay, people to pet me and grass under my paws!”

– Her ability to sleep sitting up. I know it’s common for dogs to look like they’re dozing while sitting up, but Snowy is the master of it. She’ll sleep sitting up and snore while she’s at it, no less. A true master.

– Her distaste for healthy treats. Lucy will gobble down carrots, bananas, green beans, etc. Snowy curls up her lips the minute a healthy treat approaches her mouth and if I happen to get it actually in her mouth, it gets spit right back out.

– How sweet she is. There is not a mean bone in her body even though, after all she’s been through, she has every right to be a cranky, angry dog.

"I know, I'm pretty darn perfect."

“I know, I’m pretty darn perfect.”

Obviously we’ll miss her beyond belief but I know she will thrive in her forever home because that’s the kind of dog she is!

Checking In

Not much terribly exciting going on around here. Quite frankly it’s been too cold to do much of anything. Snowy has taken to literally galloping up to the front door when she’s done with her business. The unfortunate part is she still has to wait for Lucy to do her business and Lucy seems far less inclined to do her business quickly than does Snowy.

Because we’ve been more or less cooped up inside, the dogs spend most of their time doing this:

IMG_0998

And this:

One of my favorite pictures ever.

One of my favorite pictures ever.

Lucy may take her time outside but has made it clear she’s still not overly thrilled about the cold.

It's really not THAT cold in our apartment.

It’s really not THAT cold in our apartment.

I’m soaking all the cuteness in, though, as I think Snowy is very close to being adopted. It took three tries for Cindy to finally find her forever home so I’m not counting my chickens yet, but I’m very encouraged (and selfishly, very depressed!) with the applicant I spoke to. Snowy has her post-op follow-up Thursday night and as I expect the appointment to go well, there shouldn’t be anything in the way of her adoption.

Except for the fact that we don’t want to let her go!

A 50-pound lapdog with no intention of moving

A 50-pound lapdog with no intention of moving

But we will obviously let her go because she deserves a perfect forever home and that’s what she’s going to get!

Soaking It All In

It won’t be that much longer until we’re back to a family of three as Snowy is officially up for adoption.

I am absolutely dreading when her adoption becomes final, purely for selfish reasons. I adore her! However, I also know she is going to make an absolutely fabulous pet for the right family. She is one of the sweetest, quirkiest bullies I’ve ever met – second maybe only to Lucy. She is fun, active, sweet, funny and without a doubt one resilient, stubborn girl.

As with Cindy, I’m very nervous about how Lucy will handle Snowy’s departure. I know she is going to miss her tons. While they don’t really play together, they’ve spent just about every day of the last 4 1/2 months together.

I think I'll be doing a lot of this when Snowy leaves.

I think I’ll be doing a lot of this when Snowy leaves.

Lucy is used to going out with another dog, walking with another dog and sharing the couch with another dog. Of course Lucy will rebound eventually and things will remain pretty normal around here when Snowy leaves – work, lunch break, work, bum time, sleep.

I honestly do not know how much longer we’ll have Snowy but I imagine it would be until at least next Thursday as she has a follow-up at my vet here to get her sutures out and examine the surgery sites.

And how is the patient doing? Absolutely great!

One set of stitches.

One set of stitches.

Besides the semi-unsightly stitches beneath both eyes, you would never know she had surgery less than a week ago. Her tummy stitches look fabulous and her energy is back to where it was before surgery. She hops around the apartment and goes outside with no issues although I try my best to limit her running, which isn’t easy! We keep the cone on her when she’s alone but when we’re home with her, we keep it off and she doesn’t touch her stitches at all.

All in all, she’s an exemplary patient and healing very well, making us one step closer to her being 100% ready to leave us. 😦

A Long but Successful Day

This morning at 6 a.m., Snowy and I left our apartment and made the 90-minute drive to State College so she could have her entropian and spay surgeries.

Listening to all the sounds outside the room.

Listening to all the sounds outside the room.

We arrived, got Snowy checked in and met with the surgeon.

She inspected every. single. corner of the room.

She inspected every. single. corner of the room.

He said he would do both surgeries but opted not to do the distichia (small little fuzzy hairs on her upper eye lids). His office does not have the laser technology needed to permanently eliminate those hairs; if he plucked them out, they’d just grow back again so it would have been pointless.

Naked and ready for surgery!

Naked and ready for surgery!

And just like that, they took her back and I was making the 90-minute drive back home.

Less than two hours after I got home the vet’s office called and said Snowy was out of surgery, everything was successful and I could pick her up anytime around 4. So at 2:30, I hopped back in the car and made the 90-minute drive to pick her up.

Let me tell you, she was not happy with me. When they tried to walk her out to the lobby she simply laid/squatted down and refused to move. Nothing I could do would make her move; she literally would not walk a single step. So, the vet tech had to carry her out to my car. So embarrassing.

Conehead.

Conehead.

When we got home I noticed that her right eye incision was bleeding. I couldn’t tell if she’d popped a stitch so I called my vet here and they said they’d take a look at her. Fortunately she didn’t pop a stitch but she is still bleeding which makes me nervous, but if all the stitches are in place then the bleeding has to stop at some point!

She is now on five different medications (three for her eyes, one for pain and an antibiotic to clear up her UTI). Phew! Right now she’s doing the whole “head bob/sleeping sitting up” bit but I’m hoping she’ll give and finally lie down and crash until it’s time for one last potty break tonight.

Some Updates

First and foremost, Snowy is scheduled for surgery this Thursday. S.N.O.R.T. found a vet in State College who can do Snowy’s surgeries and had an opening for this Thursday – talk about a quick turnaround!

I’ve never been to this surgeon before but he has worked on at least one other S.N.O.R.T. dog and comes highly recommended. We’re hoping that Snowy will be able to get both eye surgeries (entropian and distichia if needed) as well as her spay. As with any dog but especially bulldogs, most surgeons don’t commit to definitively doing all surgeries at one time. It really depends on how well a dog tolerates anesthesia and with short nosed dogs like bullies, anesthesia is always tricky. Lucy had four surgeries done at once (cherry eye surgery, nares surgery, elongated soft palette surgery and spay surgery) so let’s hope Snowy has similar success!

A cone-headed Lucy recovering from surgeries

A cone-headed Lucy recovering from surgeries

I’ll be dropping Snowy off (and meeting with the surgeon) very early Thursday morning. I did not speak to the surgeon when I scheduled the surgeries but the receptionist said they usually aim to have the dogs return home the day of surgery so I’m crossing my fingers I can pick Snowy up on Thursday afternoon/evening.

Obviously I’m a nervous wreck so I already can’t wait to pick her up hopefully on Thursday!

I think she'll be doing a lot of this for a few days after surgery.

I think she’ll be doing a lot of this for a few days after surgery.

On a similar note, I just received an email from Cindy’s (now Nellie) forever mom who said that Nellie was successfully spayed early last week. I knew she was scheduled for the surgery so I was very glad to get the email saying it had been a success. It apparently wasn’t an easy surgery as she had lots and lots of scarring from all the C-sections she had, but she’s trooper; she’d have to be to endure what she did and still be with us today!

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet with me last spring.

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet.

And finally, we may have turned a corner on housetraining Snowy. I don’t know if it’s because I very (very) firmly yelled at her last week when she made a mess or whether it’s because her UTI is under control or because the anti-anxiety diffuser I bought is working, but she has been accident-free for five of the last six days. Yes, I did just jinx it but I do think this is the longest she’s gone without any form of accident, day or night. The timing couldn’t be better, either, as she’ll be ready for adoption in the very near future.

Our newly housetrained dog??

Our newly housetrained dog??

And on that note, excuse me while I sob into my pillow.

Why I Volunteer

I’m not sure I ever really talked about why I started volunteering with S.N.O.R.T. – besides loving dogs, obviously. It’s clear from various posts over the past year that I do volunteer (two foster dogs are evidence of that!) but I tend to focus more on the dogs than my volunteer experience.

Let me backtrack a bit. I moved to Central Pennsylvania in August of 2010 to take a job as the Director of Athletic Communications for a Division III school with 23 varsity sports. I had (have) one, 10-month assistant. When I moved out here, my apartment wasn’t ready, I was forced into two different temporary housing situations and I was basically thrown into the start of fall sports, which included one huge source of stress for me – football season.

Now, things got easier and Marty and I started hanging out roughly six months after I got here. But it was still lonely. I did not have a lot of close friends here; all of my friends were either back at my previous job or where I grew up in New Jersey. I desperately wanted a dog but our apartment had a no-dogs policy.

Finally I convinced Marty that we should seriously look into moving into a dog-friendly apartment and start contacting English bulldog breeders (my mind was set on getting a bullie!). So we did just that.

Baby Lucy!

Baby Lucy!

We brought Lucy home in May of 2012 and like I always say, she was the best gift I ever could have gotten for myself! It sounds self-centered to look at it that way, I suppose, but she really has been the best addition to our home.

Unfortunately loneliness was (and still is!) an issue. Athletic jobs are very transient; I’ve already had three jobs at three different schools in just seven-plus years of working! Friends in an athletic department that you make one year are likely gone the next. So, six months after getting Lucy, I figured volunteering might help ease some of the loneliness.

When I reached out to S.N.O.R.T. in the fall of 2012, I initially said I was interested in volunteering with transports, website writing and more but that we weren’t going to foster at the moment. Our apartment isn’t huge and Lucy was still only eight or nine months old.

Omar LOVED her flying squirrel toy

Helping to transport Omar, who LOVED her flying squirrel toy

But then I got an email about a female English bulldog who was being freed from a puppy mill in Lancaster, Pa. – really not all that far from where I live. I immediately forwarded the email to Marty and while I acted as if I were half-serious, I really did want to foster this unknown dog. Fortunately Marty agreed to foster; I’m still not sure if he really wanted to, but he let me go ahead with the process anyway.

We got a quick home visit and approval to foster and home came Cindy (now Nellie).

Sweet Cindy.

Sweet Cindy.

Cindy’s foster period lasted over six months and was emotionally draining. We absolutely loved her and if money hadn’t been an issue likely would have kept her. She was a complete and total sweetheart who was physically broken down but so full of love!

After Cindy moved on to her forever home, we agreed no more fostering through at least the fall season. It is our busiest time with a lot of long days, long weekends and a lot of travel. But then I got a phone call from S.N.O.R.T. looking for a new foster home for Snowy and of course I said yes.

A happy Snowy.

A happy Snowy.

Snowy is already a long-term foster as she’s been with us for roughly four months and still has to undergo eye surgery and her spay surgery. She will be just as hard to let go as Cindy was and let me tell you, it’s hard. Especially when you’ve had a dog for months and months.

Like Cindy, I’d love to keep Snowy but money remains an issue. Now, I’m sure we could keep her and we wouldn’t lose our home or starve, but there are things like savings accounts, retirement funds and emergency funds that need contributions more than we need a second dog. So in a few months we’ll go through the process of finding her home and like last time, I’ll be an emotional wreck for a few days (ok, weeks).

But this volunteering stuff has eased some of my loneliness and made me happier. Sure it’s really, really hard to let the foster dogs go, but for however long I have them, our foster dogs make me very happy and satisfied.

Me and Snowy

Me and Snowy

So there’s the story of how and why I began volunteering. A better experience that I could have wished for.

Why I Got a Dog(s)

Despite living with my Marty, I got a dog because I wanted someone to talk to. Joking. Sort of. But not really.

By having a dog, I have a permanent sounding board who at least pretends to listen to me while I blab away. Anyone who knows me well knows I can talk and talk and talk (just ask my parents), but Marty doesn’t hold the same love of conversation that I do. So I got Lucy. 🙂

Seriously, I got Lucy (and now foster dogs) for a lot more reasons than that, but I do find myself talking the dogs pretty much all day. Which officially makes me a crazy dog lady.

Begrudgingly listening to me talk while I work out.

Begrudgingly listening to me talk while I work out.

I’m not 100% nuts; I’m fully aware they have less than zero idea of what I’m saying but it makes me feel less lonely when Marty’s not home.

That being said, the dogs are certainly traitors. They’ll pretend to be paying attention to me but the minute Marty comes downstairs, this happens:

Family portrait. Minus ME.

Family portrait. Minus ME.

Oh well. At least they like Marty and as long as they at least pretend to still like me, I’ll survive.

Welcoming in the New Year…

…with something less than a bang.

Still recovering from our holiday travels.

Still recovering from our holiday travels.

Marty and I got back to Pennsylvania on Dec. 29 and all of us (dogs most especially!) spent the next few days doing pretty much nothing! After spending no more than two full days at any one place for a full week, we were all more than ready to be bums.

Already laying claim to MY new blanket.

Already laying claim to MY new blanket.

Perfecting her "bum" status.

Perfecting her “bum” status.

On New Year’s Eve we rallied to visit a friend’s house for a few hours but didn’t make it until midnight. In fact, I was home and in bed by 11:30 or so. Practically an all-nighter for this old lady! We left Snowy alone for just the third time in well over a week and came home to a clean house, meaning I wasn’t spending the last minutes of 2013 cleaning up crap. Literally.

And with the New Year comes resolutions. Since this is a bulldog blog, I’ll limit myself to just dog-related resolutions in this space:

1. Find Snowy her perfect forever home
2. Budget money so we can juggle Lucy, her constant vet visits and any other potential future fosters
3. Continue to work on my patience when it comes to Lucy and her stubbornness
4. Take the dog(s) for at least six walks a week; we all need to watch our weight and Lucy always has energy to burn off!

The dogs’ resolutions? Eat more, sleep more and play more. They’re working on the sleep part as I type this!

Happy New Year!