Monday, 30 July 2007

Reflection

It's been a couple of days now, and whilst I can't say it's getting any easier, I think I'm starting to accept that life will never be the same again. Prince was my life - it's as simple as that. He was all I got up for in the morning, all I looked forward to, and everything I ever needed or wanted. He was my heart, soul and pulse - a heartbeat at my feet that was as essential to me as my own breath.

I miss phyically having him with me so much that I can't express the emotion. It goes beyond anything I've ever known. I've always put him first though, and I certainly wasn't going to prolong his discomfort so that I could postpone my collapse. I'll never have any regrets about that.

I went for a walk yesterday to a wooden bridge over a stream that we'd been to a few times. It's a very quiet place and I sat and talked to him for a while. It was the first time since he moved on that I really felt him with me and knew he was happy and undergoing a new adventure. Although I miss him more than I can ever describe, I know he'll always be with me in spirit and we'll continue to love and support each other. I think this is going to be my lifeline.

Despite their devastation, my family and friends have been fantastic. Fellow dog owners who've been reading this blog, but never met Prince and I, have been posting and sending the kindest messages. It's clear in all of them that they've been through similar times and come through the other side. Whilst heartbreaking, these messages have been a great comfort - a sincere thankyou, from both of us.

I hope nobody reading this, whose dog has been diagnosed with Lymphoma or cancer of another kind, is discouraged from trying chemotherapy. Whilst Prince didn't respond well to it, throughout the journey I've heard many positive stories of long, happy remissions. Please don't let our experience colour your view of the possible benefits.

I'm going to escape to France on Thursday for a few days. I'm not sure if it's the right things to do or not, and I may be home after a day if not. Prince would approve of the high-fat food and dog-friendliness of the place though......

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Journeyman

Prince was put to sleep earlier today. He'd had enough. He was so uncomfortable because of his cystitis that he couldn't lie down or sleep properly. He was terribly lame. He'd also started to get some unpleasant side effects from the Epirubicin that he had on Wednesday - he was depressed, and the most significant message of all - he wouldn't eat.

Yes, he could have been hospitalised and fed via a drip. He's been through enough though, and I knew he didn't want to go through any more.

I feel like my heart has been ripped from my body. I'm scared of life without him physically being here. But I know he'll always be with me on a higher level, and I get a huge amount of comfort from that.

Thanks for all your kind comments and support through all of this. I may well post some entries over the next few days, but I may not. I'm going to lick my wounds and hide away for a while.

Thanks everyone.

As A Young Boy....

Rollercoaster

Poor Prince has had a dreadful evening. I took him to my parents house, and he was utterly miserable throughout. Even when feeling below par he can usually muster some enthusiasm for the goings on in his Grandparents kitchen, but tonight he just felt too bad.

He's exhausted, uncomfortable, unhappy and dejected. I think he's had enough. I need to see how he is in the morning.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Entertain Me....

I think I'm boring Prince this morning. I'm clearly failing to meet expectations. He keeps looking at me expectantly, as though I'm going to pull a rabbit out of a hat, or don a straw boater and cane and do a little dance. I can't really take him for a long walk, or any of the other usual things I might do with him, so I'm a bit at a loss.

As you might have guessed, he seems quite bright in himself though. He's still hobbling around, and straining around the garden, but he seems quite keen to be entertained.

I've emailed the oncology team at the hospital to see what I should be doing regarding exercise, and also to ask if his lameness might be in any way related to the Epirubicin treatment or Lymphoma in general. They don't seem to encourage clients to email them with non-urgent questions which I find a little odd. I would have thought they field enough telephone calls to be glad to make use of email. I wouldn't be at all suprised if they ring me back rather than responding via email, as they've done this before. If you're interested in Princes 'medical team' you can see them here.

Sleepy Sausage

Well, our walk was conducted at a fairly brisk pace, all things considered. As I expected, he wasn't too lame whilst we were out, but he has been hobbling around on three legs since we got back. He's also been asleep virtually all night. I hope I didn't over-do it with him - he led the way and I let him dicate the pace throughout. We weren't out for long either, about forty minutes. Of course I'm now totally paranoid that I've worn him out and shouldn't have walked him at all. I must check with the hospital tomorrow as no mention was made about restricting exercise. I know that Epirubicin can cause anaemia, so wonder if this is why he's been so tired tonight? His membranes are a good colour though, so I doubt it.

Worrying would appear to be my prime occupation at the moment. I'm worried about him being tired, being lame, still having problems with cystitis and his Lymphoma generally. I'm sure he looks at me sometimes and thinks, "for goodness sake, I'm feeling fine - shut up and sit down!".

Despite being tired, he has been more comfortable today. I get the impression he's been more content, and his bladder has been far less sore than it has been. He's still in training for the garden pee-athon, but I'm hoping this will ease over the next few days.

I wish the weather was better and we could loaf around in the garden. He loves being outside and I think he gets a bit fed up with lying around the house. Who could blame him with me for company?! I've reached new levels of lunacy tonight by sitting with my watch and checking his heart rate. If I was Prince, I'd also be sleeping a lot - it must be a blissful break from Daddy!!

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Brighter Days

Not weather-wise of course, but Prince seems to be having a much better day today. I was awoken by him flashing his 'pearly-whites' at me, whilst lying upside down on the pillow. Breakfast was consumed, and the now familiar process of straining around the garden was completed, before we both went back to bed for an hour. Since then he's spent a lot of time on his back, some time chewing bones, we've had a period of food obsession and a short game of ball. I haven't been bullied yet today, but he did 'clamber aboard' last night to ensure that I wasn't getting ideas above my station.

He's pretty lame still with his arthritis, but his bladder does seem more comfortable today, even if he is still doing a lot of straining. All in all, he's a lot brighter than he has been for the past few days. All the kind comments we've had make a big difference - so thanks everyone.

We're going to go out for a short 'hobble' soon. Having said that, when he gets going his lameness does decrease quite a lot. I'll take it at his pace, whether that be a snails - or a hares!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Quality of Life....

I think the writer of the anonymous comment a couple of posts down has misunderstood me slightly. I've got no intention of taking any drastic action in response to Princes problems over the past few days. I just think it's important to acknowledge that his quality of life has been fairly poor as a consequence. I need to monitor this, because it would be easy to let things run on and on, telling myself and him that things will improve the following week, and then the week after that, and so on. The objective of the chemotherapy is to provide a good quality of life for the longest period possible and I won't allow him to suffer just so that I can selfishly have a canine 'teddy-bear' to take to bed at night. If I had to make a choice I'd rather have a shorter time with him feeling good than a longer period with him feeling anything less than OK.

Quality of life is about more than food. If it was feasible to feed him sausage after sausage all day I'm sure he would be very happy, but lots of other factors come into play. The ability to rest and sleep comfortably. The ability to exist without ongoing pain and discomfort. The ability to move around without pain. A general demeanor of contentedness, etc.... Over the past few days he would have failed all of these, and whilst I expect peaks and troughs I think you need to have a feel for where to draw the line. Now obviously, you have to give treatments a chance and therefore I wouldn't draw that line after two or three days, but two or three weeks is a very different matter when you're only looking at an average survival time of six months.

Ultimately, I'll know when Prince has had enough. It's my responsibility to make sure that he doesn't go through weeks of suffering and discomfort, and if that's inevitable, prevent him having to endure it. Only I can make that decision, and I hope it's a long time before I have to. When I do, I'll be fulfilling my final responsibility to him and must set aside any selfish agenda.

After that rather maudlin post, I should add that Prince has been in pretty good form since coming home from the hospital earlier and the only injections I'll be sanctioning in the forseeable future will be ones delivering chemo drugs!

Chemo Holiday


Princes white blood cell count was back up to a healthy level today, so he's had his Epirubicin chemotherapy. He's been much better since coming home, but has been really tired having had virtually no sleep last night and having been at the hospital all day. With his current need to sleep on his back, he's been taking advantage of being able to prop himself up against me and fall asleep with his legs in the air. This gives me ample opportunity to spoil him terribly and he gets some much needed sleep. A win - win situation for all!

He's still pretty lame, and of course has issues with his cystitis, but seems much happier today. Side effects from Epirubicin usually kick in a couple of days after treatment if they're going to occur, so I've got my fingers crossed that we won't have any problems.

Ultimately, I'm pleased with how he's doing today, and I think he is too. As an added bonus, because todays treatment is so strong, he won't get any chemotherapy next week so can have a week off from the hospital!

Daddy Rubbeesh

Having dropped Prince off at the hospital at the crack of dawn this morning, I am in seriously bad-books. He felt it was too early, dull and dreary to even contemplate going for a quick walk before we left, so he contented himself with glowering at me from the bed whilst I got ready.

I really don't blame him. After his experience on Monday, and then back again today, I'd be feeling a little po-faced to say the least.

His mood didn't lift at the hospital - he sat glumly on my knee, shaking, whilst we waited for the vet, and then proceeded to hide under the chair in the consulting room in the vain hope we wouldn't notice him. Spying through the window when I left, I did notice him trot off quite happily after he had realised that he'd been deserted.

Am I glad we followed the chemotherapy route? I'd have to say that thus far, with the exception of the first couple of weeks - no. I hope with all my heart that my view changes within the next couple of weeks, and of course I'm delighted to still have him with me - but not at any cost to him. The cystitis problem along with all the traumatic visits to the vet for unpleasant treatment are just tipping the balance at the moment. I hope things improve.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Fair to Middling......


....is probably a good assessment of Prince today. He seems more comfortable, having switched from his steroid, Prednisolone, to that old favourite, Metacam. This seems to be relieving the discomfort of his cystitis slightly. Being the adaptable little chap he is, he's taken to sleeping on his back at the moment, as I think this relieves it somewhat. The picture above highlights this! He's also been hobbling around a lot today, as his arthritis seems to have returned with avengence. The steroid had (as a good, if unintentional, consequence) been easing his lameness a lot. I hope that the Metacam helps in the longer term.

He's been quite happy in himself today, and has been out for a couple of short walks, along with his usual multiple visits to strain in the garden. I took him down to a local hotel this evening where a friend works, which he enjoyed. He's a very sociable type, and took his role of meeting and greeting guests very seriously. His 'Auntie Claire' also made a great fuss of him, which was particularly well received.

He's due to have his Epirubicin chemotherapy first thing in the morning, which is playing on my mind. It's the usual conundrum - half of me wants him to have it, as it's another step in managing this foul disease, but the other half is petrified of the possible side-effects. Epirubicin is probably the strongest drug he'll receive, and the side-effects can be fairly unpleasant in some cases. With all the other problems he's having at the moment I don't think I could stand to see him suffering with something else - I'd really have to ask whether I was doing the best thing for him in that case. On the plus side, he may have no side-effects, and the strength of the drug means that he would have next week off from chemo. Also, Epirubicin is a newer variant of Doxyrubicin - developed to have fewer side-effects. Trials and tribulations eh?!

Indignity

Prince has been to the hospital and endured several indignities entirely unsuited to a terrier of his stature. Soon after arrival he had a thermometer stuck up his bottom. This was followed a short while later by the vets finger. Then he had a tube inserted into 'willie-wisp' and had his bladder flushed out with a nasty smelling drug. Prince does not feel that this is a satisfactory way to spend the day, even if a politician would probably pay good money for such treatment.

Jokes apart, he hasn't had a good day at all, but hopefully things will improve over the next few days. I sincerely hope so, because my key concern about putting him through chemotherapy was that it would be an ongoing unpleasant experience, but was persuaded otherwise. Over the past few days, it has been unpleasant for him - and I won't let him feel bad indefinately, so I sincerely hope he improves soon. He's not miserable or anything like that, but he's not consistently happy - and that's my benchmark.

Oh well, he finally seems to have got himself comfortable on my bed upstairs, and is sleeping soundly. With a bit of luck, he'll wake up feeling better in the morning.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Uncomfortable Pooch

I'm being driven mad by Princes cystitis problem, so I can't imagine how it's making him feel. Having to watch him straining around the garden for twenty minutes at a time is not pleasant, and he clearly can't get comfortable generally either. He's really restless, shifting position over and over again almost as soon as he lies down. I can't imagine he's getting much 'proper' sleep with such torment either. The Cystaid tablets clearly aren't helping him, and it looks like he'll need another flush with DMSO on Wednesday.

I spoke to one of the oncology vets this morning and went through the list of things that aren't right. Through no fault of his, it wasn't much comfort. I'm taking him in later this afternoon so that they can check him over, but I don't get the impression that they'll actually be doing anything as such. I do want to take him in though, just for reassurance that he's generally OK. I couldn't hand on heart say that his quality of life is great at the moment, so I hope there's some improvement soon. The drug that caused the cystitis, Cyclophosphamide, won't be given to him again. I can't say this makes he or I feel much better though, as I have no idea how long we'll be dealing with the after-effects of it.

Genius

I know I've mentioned it before, but I've been reading further back through the Blogs From The Dogs site today. It has to be one of the funniest blogs I've ever read - the writing style and pictures are just hilarious. I'm particularly taken with 'boofing', which I think is a similar thing to Princes 'bullying', but I'm awaiting clarification on this. It's just the ticket to cheer you up on a miserable day!

Vintage Picture


I've been a bit lax in posting pictures recently, so I thought I'd post one of Prince taken nearly eight years ago - very soon after I got him. He's changed quite a lot over the years!

He's done quite well today, and has had a lot more energy than yesterday. I did call the hospital, predominantly because he's still having such problems going to the toilet. It's excruciating to see him straining around the garden for twenty minutes every time he needs a wee. The vet may need to see him tomorrow to flush his bladder out, but I'm going to call again in the morning to see what they think is best.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Rip Van Winkle

Prince is back home, but very tired again. I'm starting to run out of justifications for him being tired, although I'm sure I'll continue thinking of more to make myself feel better.

He was a bit tired on a few occasions last week, but he's done very little but sleep since I picked him up earlier today. If he's no more energetic tomorrow I'll have to ring the University, just for some advice as to whether I need to take any action at this stage. It's a strange one, ringing the emergency number on a Sunday, because in many ways it's not an emergency - as far as I'm aware there are no immediately life-threatening problems, but it is a rather worrying change after he'd been doing so well.

I wonder if there's a point at which the human brain can't compute any further worry? Perhaps there's a trigger point at which it shuts down and a small sign appears saying, "Sorry, closed due to unforseen circumstances"......

One plus point of all this is that Prince becomes incredibly cuddly and compliant when he's tired, so I've had the benefit of many 'soft cuddles' this evening!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Oxidised Wine

Clearly the wine I drank last night wasn't quite right. I have a slight headache this morning, and I can only assume that some oxidisation took place. I can't think of any other reason why I would feel below par.

I've spoken to my parents and Prince has been fine. They do think he's a little more subdued after his most recent treatment, which confirms what I was thinking, so I'll have to mention this on Wednesday. I wouldn't be suprised if it was related to his low white blood cell count, as even the most insignificant hint of an infection or virus will be hard work for his body to deal with at the moment. I'd give anything for him to be 100%.

Anyway, I'm going to head off and collect the 'bundle of joy'.....!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Daddy's Drunk....

.....well not terribly, but somewhat 'relaxed'! It was great to catch up with friends, and my parents have kept me up to date all night on how Prince is. He's fine - chewing, squirming, and thoroughly taking advantage of being the centre of attention.

I spent the afternoon getting saturated at a countryside event with friends and Clarissa Dickson Wright - who I think is a great campaigner for rural issues. The evening was spent at a local restaurant and involved much hilarity, questions about Prince, and booze.

I'm now pottering around the house, rehydrating, and looking forward to collecting the 'cherub' in the morning....

Sleep-Over

Prince is at my parents house for his 'sleep-over', as he seems quite well today. I'm sure that as I write he'll be staking his claim to the position of pack leader, and harrassing Grandma for another piece of chicken....

I'm going to get myself organised and head out to see my friends. With the mobile phone firmly seated in my pocket of course...!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Strange Day

It's been a very strange day. I spent much of it worrying about Prince, who seemed really tired all morning, and after a brief period of activity at lunchtime, all afternoon too. At times like this it's really difficult to keep things in perspective - we all have days when we don't feel great, or we're just tired, but when it comes to Prince I tend to assume that any sign of him being below par is critical. Especially as I can't ask him directly how he's feeling.

To compound the problem, I've been feeling pretty awful all day too. I've had a cold (bearing in mind I'm male, and therefore suffer more than most!) for over a week now, and the lack of sleep over the last month or so has left me absolutely exhausted. Somehow it seems a little trivial to complain about such things when Prince is going through such a battle.

Thankfully, Prince really bucked up late this afternoon, and we went out for a walk in the forest. To my enormous relief he seemed full of beans and proceeded to lead the way throughout the walk. On arrival home he settled down to chew bones, and enjoyed intermittent periods of intense bullying. All things considered, I think my worries were unnecessary.

I'm supposed to be taking Prince to my parents house to stay tomorrow afternoon and overnight, whilst I catch up with some friends and go out for dinner in the evening. Earlier today I was convinced that I wouldn't go, as Prince didn't seem too well, but now I'm thinking that he's OK. I think I'm getting a real feel for how human carers must feel - in many ways I'm looking forward to going out and resuming some level of normality, but on the other hand it feels really strange to be taking Prince to stay at my parents house. I'm worried that he won't be well, that he'll miss me, or something will happen and it'll be 'my fault'. Of course, this is entirely irrational and my parents are more than capable of looking after him and administering his drugs etc... He's stayed with them on many occasions and is always delighted to be there. So delighted that he usually requires a degree of 're-training' when he gets home, to remind him who really is boss.....

I'm going to see how he is in the morning, and make a decision then. He's always sleepy in the morning though, and always has been, so I'll try not to get paranoid! I wonder if women are any better than men at this caring malarkey?

More Blogs

A few weeks ago I couldn't find many blogs I liked at all - and now I can't stop coming across them.

The first is The Lurchers, a long-established blog by some very compassionate lurcher-lovers.

The second isn't particularly doggy, but I found a link to it from The Lurchers. It's called Dogga, which caught my eye, and it's written by a sound engineer with a great sense of humour. There are some great pictures from Glastonbury, and a pub with resident lambs.....

The final one (for now) is also written by Lurcher owners, and again features some great pictures. Check out Blogs from the Dogs.

I've got friends with Lurchers, but before I met them I'd never realised what great dogs they are. I'm a total convert now....

Domination

Steady on, not that sort of domination! Emma, who owns Molly, raised an interesting point in an email she sent earlier. It's also an issue I've discussed at length with friends - that of dominance in dogs.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that Prince spends a fair proportion of time 'bullying' me, clambering on top of me, sleeping on my bed, and doing lots of other things that dog trainers would be horrified by. Despite this, and his apparent dominant nature, I've had no problems with dominance over the eight years I've had him. I think a lot of it comes down to the attitude of the owner and the nature of the dog, and you can only really assess on a case by case basis. I'm certain there are enormous numbers of dogs out there that would take advantage immediately of any perceived 'weakness' in their owners, and show typical signs of negative dominancy like aggression. Prince seems to know the boundaries well, and it literally needs only a change in my body language whilst being 'bullied' for him to get of and stop immediately. I can take bones off him, remove his food halfway through him eating it, and do a plethora of other things that a truly dominant dog would react to.

Emma also seems to have a similar relationship with Molly. I'm fascinated by this, as it seems to fly in the face of 'traditional' wisdom. I wonder how many other people have a relationship with their dog that would appear to contradict perceived wisdom? Have you ever had problems with a dominant dog? Enquiring minds want to know.....

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Change of Plan

Prince is home and well, but unfortunately couldn't have his Epirubicin as planned. His white blood cell count is significantly lower than it should be, and as the Epirubicin has a strong effect on the bone marrow, which produces these cells, it would have been dangerous to give it to him today. It's likely that the Cyclophosamide, which has a similar effect, has subdued the production of white blood cells and they haven't quite recovered yet. The vet assures me that this isn't a cause for major concern, as he's generally doing well and his lymph nodes are virtually normal in size. It does make him very vulnerable to infection, as his immune system is depressed, so I need to be a little careful when it comes to other dogs and other sources of bacteria and viruses. This scuppers our plans of going terrier racing on Sunday!

To keep the battle going, he had Vincristine instead, which doesn't affect bone marrow, and will have the Epirubicin next week if his white blood cell numbers have increased to a safe level. His heart scan was good, and everything else seems fine.

True to form, he's been in good shape since getting home. I've been throughly 'duffed up' for leaving him all day, he's been out for a walk and had an over-sized dinner to make up for missing breakfast. Dinner was also huge to disguise to additonal tablets he needs - antibiotics as a safeguard against infection, and drugs to help his cystitis. Prince likes tablets - tablets are good.....

Scared Again

Prince is at the hospital for this weeks chemotherapy. Today is described by the clinician as 'a big day', as he's receiving Epirubicin, which is by far the most powerful and risky drug he'll receive. It can have serious effects on the heart, so he needs a heart scan first, as well as blood tests and his bladder flush. The list of possible side effects is extensive and frankly frightening. I'm going to stop Googling now, whilst I'm only scared as opposed to petrified.

On a positive note, I was speaking to a couple with their dog in the waiting room earlier. Their dog also has Lymphoma, and they were given the same six to twelve month average survival time estimate when he was first diagnosed. Eighteen months later he is still doing really well, and was barking at everyone who passed him in the waiting room!

Countdown

It's chemotherapy day tomorrow, and I'm determined not to worry about it. Much.

Alas, this means no breakfast for Prince and the shambolic sight of me chasing him around the garden with a tub to catch a urine sample. No wonder my neighbours give me a wide berth.....

Hey Good Looking.....

Prince has got his eyes on a virtual girlfriend. She's a very pretty Parson Jack Russell called Molly, who shares his love of rawhide bones and squeaky toys. He thinks it might be love, and I caught him trimming his eye-brow hair earlier, so I fear it may be serious.....

Molly's just started her own blog, which Prince and I recommend you have a look at, as long as any other male dogs keep their distance... Click here to have a look.

On the subject of doggy blogs, and my difficulty in finding good ones up until now, I found a couple the other day. The first is also on Molly's blog and is written by Beverley Cuddy, who edits Dogs Today magazine - have a look at Cold Wet Nose. The second is called Dog News, and as the name suggests concentrates on canine news stories. I think it's run by K9 magazine.

Mr Soft


Prince had a great time out walking with his Grandparents earlier. One of his favourite parts of the 'walk' was where my father picked him up and carried him around for ten minutes, followed by five minutes of being held like a baby, upside down. He's such a big softy.....! The picture above illustrates fairly well what a good time he had!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Bully-Boy


Prince is on top of the world again today, and has just spent a happy half hour bullying me in the sitting room. I've been jumped on, sat on, licked, and generally disrespected. I couldn't be more pleased!

We're just preparing to head out and meet my parents for a walk. It's mothers birthday today, so I'll have to be on my best behaviour. Prince, on the other hand......

Picture of the day is of Prince making himself very, very comfortable on my bed last night!

Monday, 16 July 2007

Sunbathing

Prince has just had the rare opportunity to do a little sunbathing in the garden. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long, but he enjoyed it regardless. He's done a lot of sleeping today, which I hope isn't a bad sign. I don't think it is - I've spent quite a lot of time at my desk, which is always his prompt to have a nap, and he did have a very exciting time last night.

His cystitis doesn't really seem to be clearing up, but it doesn't seem to be bothering him too much either, so perhaps I shouldn't complain. I'm currently going through the process of deciding where to walk this afternoon, which isn't usually difficult, but at the moment everywhere seems to be under two feet of mud, so the decision is a little more difficult. My parent are especially looking forward to taking him to the beach, so I do hope the weather improves soon....

Lazy Bones

...and that's just me! My apologies for not having written a post before now. I'd like to pretend I've had an awfully busy day, doing lots of important things to benefit the world and society in general. Unfortunately, I haven't. I've done some shopping, ironing, cheesecake-making, and a lot of cuddling of Prince. That's about it, apart from our visit to my parents house this evening.

Prince has had another good day, despite putting on his best dejected face whilst I tackled the domestic chores. He has an amazing 'po-face' at times, and never fails to impress me with how much expression he can put into it when I'm failing to meet his expectations.

He behaved much better at his 'Grandparents' house this evening, although he did of course get terribly hot and over-excited. This was compounded by the fact that my brother and his girlfriend were there, which gave him four people to entertain! He was tired when we get home, so after a half-hearted attempt to chew a bone, he promptly retired to bed.....

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Sunshine!

At last - we've had a sunny day! Just in the nick of time though, as I believe it's going to be foul again from tomorrow.

Weather observations aside, it's been a fairly uneventful day - hence the scarcity of posts. The 'little one' has been fine and ran me ragged on his afternoon walk. His plumbing problems still remain, but I suppose that as far as side-effects go, it could be a lot worse.

Prince was very pleased that his 'Uncle Damian' (my brother), made a surprise visit this afternoon. We sat in the garden as the weather was so nice, which mean't that Prince sat very quietly, enjoying the warmth. If you sit in the house, Prince will be buzzing around, wanting to chew bones and 'do things', but if you sit in the garden he's perfectly content to just lie down and watch the world go by....odd!

Chewathon

Princes Grandparents have been over to see him this evening, and he was overjoyed as ever. A bone nearly as big as him was selected, and chewed happily for the duration of their visit. Two smaller bones were chewed after they left. I've never known an older dog enjoy chewing quite so much! No wonder he's got the teeth of a four year old!

He's been fine all day, although our walk this afternoon was somewhat ruined by the dreadful weather. It's really driving me mad now - Prince and I should be enjoying warm, sunny walks at the moment, not ploughing through deep mud and being rained on constantly. I think I'm getting SAD in July - although it does feel like October. I do hope we get some decent weather over the next few months. I really want him to be enjoying fine weather and long walks - not dodging downfalls and walking out of necessity rather than fun......

Friday, 13 July 2007

Smothered...


I think Prince is thoroughly enjoying having me at his beck and call, twenty four hours a day. He has this amazing ability to divert you from whatever you were originally doing, just by casually lifting a front leg and 'offering up' his tummy for a scratch, or even just squirming appealingly. It never fails - he's irresistable.

He's still doing well, and didn't seem quite as desperate to get out to go to the toilet this morning - which I hope is a sign that his cystitis problems are clearing. I won't really know until we go out later though.

He had great fun on his walk yesterday afternoon, and we even managed to avoid getting rained on. He met lots of doggy friends, and galloped around with them cheerily. He only blotted his copy-book when trying to mount a labrador. He's always had a thing about labradors, and will try to mount them whether they be male, female or indifferent. Prince isn't entire - but he still likes to 'have a go' on any passing labrador that will submit! The shame, the shame.....

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Exhausted...

...and that's just me! Prince is doing well again today, but I'm absolutely tired out. I think the combination of early mornings, late nights, nightime garden vists and stress has done it. Oh well, I keep trying to grab an hour or two during the day, which is helping. I think I'm getting an indication of what it must be like to have a newborn baby!

The little chap is still struggling to fully empty his bladder, but doesn't seem to be letting it bother him too much. He was very keen on his walk this morning, and we're just debating where to go this afternoon - it's raining again, so our choices are less wide.

He's expecting 'Uncle David' to visit again this evening, but I can't get hold of him at the moment to confirm this. Failing this, his 'Grandparents' are on standby to come over. He has no shortage of people wanting to visit him, I on the other hand......

The Well's Run Dry.......

Prince greeted me enthusiatically when I went to pick him up from the hospital this afternoon, especially considering the additional treatment he had today. In order to treat his cystitis problem he had his bladder flushed out with a drug called Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO). The very idea makes my eyes water! However, I believe that the process was straightforward and Prince wasn't terribly concerned. Similarly, he was also very good when he received his Vincristine injection. Further confirmation that it's probably me that makes him nervous, rather than anything else!

He's been very bright since coming home, but our walk this evening was really frustrating. I'm assuming that, as a result of the cystitis, Prince has the sensation that his bladder is never quite empty. This results in a stop every ten yards or so to spend a good minute or so with his leg cocked, but no resulting wee. I found this really frustrating, but I'm sure Prince found it even more so. As you can imagine, progress was slow even though he was galloping along in-between pit-stops.

After a busy day, and probably a very stressful one, the little one has now retired to my bed. I changed the covers today, so I'm certain it won't meet with his approval and a substantial amount of grit will have been deposited on it by the time I get there.....

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Society

Since Prince was diagnosed I've begun to realise just how many kind people there are in the world.

I know that may sound a little odd, but we get so hung up on the news media - terrorism, murder, child abduction etc.... that I think it's sometimes easy to forget that the vast majority of people are extremely compassionate and intrinsically good. I've been guilty in the past of focussing on the negatives of the world, and the people behind them, but I think I'm developing a far more positive view at the moment.

From readers of this blog, forum posters, strangers out walking, friends and family, to my previous employers and landlord - all have been enormously kind and supportive. It really does help to confirm the fact that we actually live in a world inhabited by wonderful people. It's a shame that it takes an experience like this to reaffirm it. I'm certainly learning some valuable lessons though.....

Empty House

The little one's at the hospital again for his chemotherapy, so I'm kicking my heels around a very empty house. I'm immensely thankful that it's only for a short time though - a few weeks ago I thought the house might be empty for a very different reason.

He wasn't too bad in the waiting room today, and only did a bit of shaking. He wasn't too keen for me to leave him, but I did notice that when he thought I'd gone (but was really spying through the window in the door) he trotted off quite happily with the vet, tail in the air!

The Verdict

.....is that he's still doing pretty well. As soon as we reached the forest this afternoon he was off and running, with me jogging and panting behind him - as has become the norm over the past couple of weeks. Toilet trips are still an issue, but he's still got a healthy amount of energy and enthusiasm to match!

I popped into my local vets surgery this afternoon to pay the insurance excesses for his last vists (ugh!) before he was referred to the university. I had a quick chat with my usual vet and was pleased to hear that the university have been keeping them fully up to date with Princes treatment. This was a pleasant surprise, and makes sense in that if he ever needed to go there in an emergency, they would be fully aware of what medication and treatment he had been receiving at the university hospital. I'm really impressed with the professionalism of both parties - if only our NHS was as efficient! It was good to be able to let Ed (my local vet) know that Prince was doing well and he seemed pleased to get an update. I also, rather cheekily, walked out with a specimen pot for Princes urine sample in the morning!

Arrgghhh - the morning! As ever, I'm dreading taking Prince to the hospital. However, I'm beginning to wonder whether it's my demeanor that leads to Prince being extremely nervous in the waiting room. He always seems to trot off with the vet quite happily and without too much of a performance - I suspect I may not help matters by being the 'worried dad'!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The Jury's Out

I think Prince is still doing pretty well today, but he does seem a little more tired than he has done over the past couple of weeks. He's still quite jolly in himself, and enjoyed his morning walk earlier, so perhaps he's just a little tired after all the excitement of yesterday. I also have to bear in mind that he has had rather artificially increased levels of energy over the past couple of weeks, and as much as I might like to think of him as a puppy again, he is ten years old.

It's so easy to see him sleeping and immediately get great feelings of paranoia - thinking that he's not feeling very well, when he's actually just a little naturally tired.

The antibiotics don't seem to be having a great effect on his cystitis problems. He's still having some 'issues' going to the toilet, and his urine still clearly has blood in it. I suspect that he'll need to have his bladder flushed out when he goes into the hospital tomorrow for his next chemotherapy treatment.

I hope this is a minor 'blip' - the little chap doesn't deserve to have added complications. Plus, as it's chemo-day tomorrow, his bowl will be bare in the morning. I'll be in biiiiiiiiggg trouble, as I always am when sufficient quantities of food aren't forthcoming.....

Monday, 9 July 2007

Comments


My apologies to the chap who commented on the 'Family Stroll' post, but I had to delete it. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, it was in Portuguese and therefore wouldn't have been understood by most readers of this blog, and secondly, it seemed to bear no relevance to the post whatsoever and contained links to his T-shirt selling website.

I suspect therefore it was spam. If I'm wrong - I apologise.

Prince hates spam - he doesn't trust what's in it and isn't convinced that anything worth eating comes out of a tin......

Run, Rabbit, Run!

Prince has thoroughly enjoyed himself today. We met his 'Grandparents' to go for a walk at Tatton Park, which is one of his favourite places.

From the moment we arrived he was on top form, and led the pack throughout. The place was also teeming with rabbits, which is always a bonus as far as Prince is concerned. He chased them all over the place, but didn't manage to catch one - he's certain that they were unnaturally quick, and deeply unsporting in their tendency to disappear down holes. I don't mind him chasing rabbits at all - in my opinion, it's perfectly natural predation. In most cases he only catches those that have myxomotosis, so in effect he's relieving the inevitable suffering that such a foul disease causes.

He's been eating sausages and chewing bones this evening, so all in all he's had a very good day. He's still having problems with his cystitis / infection, but it doesn't seem to be bothering him other than when he's actually trying to have a wee, so he's generally very happy.

Family Stroll

Prince and I are just about to head out for a walk with his Grandparents. This is likely to mean more food than walking - so Prince is very much looking forward to it.

He's still having difficulties going to the toilet, but thankfully he doesn't seem to be letting it dampen his enthusiasm. Hopefully the antibiotics will start to have an effect soon.

In the meantime, a wet walk awaits!

Burning Desires

I think Princes 'plumbing' problems are getting him down a bit this evening. Strangely, whenever he goes in the garden he wanders around for ages doing 'mini-wees' - I assume because going to the toilet is uncomfortable. However, when we went out for a walk this evening he didn't seem to have any problems..... very odd.

He's still very happy in himself, and has been buzzing around all evening chewing bones and eyeing up the beef I cooked earlier, but I do think his rather unsatisfying trips to the garden are driving him mad. Let's hope the antibiotics do the trick over the next couple of days.....

RIP Benji

It was awful to see in the comments of a previous post that Benji, one of Princes virtual 'buddies', and a fellow Lymphoma sufferer, was put down this morning.

It must be a terrible time for his 'parents', and will undoubtedly leave a big whole in many peoples lives. I have no doubt he'll be keeping a close eye on them though, and his presence will always be felt. Prince & I, and I'm sure all other viewers, send much love at this very sad time.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

More Rain!


We were about to go out for a walk - maybe we'll leave it for a little while!

Rattling Dog

Prince went into the vets this morning, much to his disgust! I managed to acquire a urine sample before we went in by chasing him around the garden with the faithful tupperware box, and the vet tested this first. Although not visible, it did show signs of blood being present. Cyclophosphamide is known to cause haemohorragic cystitis in some cases, so this was the number one suspect, but there was also some evidence of bacteria which suggested it could be an infection. Under usual circumstances, the bladder would be flushed with a drug to ease the inflammation but this can cause more problems if it is an infection, so another sample was taken for more in-depth analysis. Whilst we wait for the results of this, Prince is on a course of antibiotics in addition to all his other drugs.

Prince now takes a total of 11 tablets a day, plus liquid medication! You can almost hear him rattle down the stairs.... He doesn't mind tablets though, as they're usually hidden in a piece of meat and therefore: more tablets = more meat. He's getting quite sneaky now though and I've caught him trying to spit one or two out.....

Anyway, other than his plumbing problems, he's still in pretty good shape so we must be grateful for that.

Peaks & Troughs

Oh dear, little Prince has had his first set-back. Hopefully not a serious one, but a problem none the less.

Those of a sensitive nature may want to look away now. When we got back from our walk this afternoon Prince went out in the garden to go to the toilet. I was watching him quite closely because he'd been a little 'loose' earlier and I wanted to check there were no problems in this area. As it was, he only wanted a wee, but seemed to be going about it in a slightly odd way. When he eventually achieved his objective it was fairly obvious, even from a distance, that his urine was fairly pink. A quick dab of 'willy-wisp' when he came back in confirmed that there was blood in his urine. This is something that the vet had warned me about as a possible side-effect of the Cyclophosphamide he had earlier in the week - it can sometimes cause inflammation of the bladder.

I rang the hospital emergency number and the duty vet thinks it's important to see him tomorrow, so that they can rule out an infection and treat the inflammation. This involves flushing his bladder out. So the poor little guy is going to need to miss his breakfast and suffer the fear of the hospital for the second time in a week. He really doesn't deserve this.

On a positive note, despite the discomfort when he goes to the toilet, it doesn't seem to have affected his generally bright demeanor. He's still bouncing around quite happily and chewing bones. I suppose that as side effects go, this would initially seem to be one of the less serious ones. I do hope so anyway.

So, another visit to the hospital is in store, prior to our planned visit on Wednesday. As ever, neither of us is looking forward to it, but I suppose we'll muddle through as ever!

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Strolling...

Prince is getting progressively more impatient to go out for his afternoon walk. He's an ungrateful b*gger at times - the reason he's having to wait is because the fresh minced beef that I'm cooking for his dinner isn't ready yet! I don't know.....

I've always cooked food for him though. I'm not a big fan of packaged food, whether it be for me or for him. I never trust what is put into commercial dog food, so have been cooking fresh meat of various types, and mountains of mashed carrots and squash, for as many years as I can remember. I usually mix this with a small amount of James Wellbeloved dry food for added vitamins etc.... Under the circumstances I can't really preach about the health benefits of this diet, but he's always done well on it and thoroughly enjoyed it....

Anyway, Prince will be pleased to know that the kitchen timer is beeping......

Friday, 6 July 2007

Lazy Days....

Prince has spent a lot of time loafing around this morning - sleeping, stretching and yawning. I don't think he's unnaturally tired, he's just idling the time away whilst I continue to number-crunch at the computer.

He had a very exciting night last night, as his Grandparents came over to see him again. Much wagging, chewing and crying for food was involved. I was quite impressed actually, as he managed to identify from a distance of about fifteen feet that there were some stale dog treats in a jacket thrown over the back of a chair. Maybe I can sustain both of us financially over the coming months by hiring him out for truffle hunting purposes, or drug searches?!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Tele-bone


Prince is doing well after his treatment yesterday. He's been bright and breezy all day, and felt it necessary to indulge in a comprehensive bullying of me earlier, to make his views on being starved earlier in the week very clear.

He was a little lame when we went on our morning walk, which I'm not too concerned about. He didn't have his Prednislone yesterday, because of everything else he was having, and I think this is the cause. He's had arthritis for years, but the Prednisolone he's been having as part of his chemotherapy has been helping it significantly as it's a steroid often prescribed separately for rheumatoid arthritis. He's had some this morning, so hopefully it will improve over the next day or two.

As you can from the picture, Prince likes to take advantage when I'm on the telephone, and encourage much spoiling. This is why any telephone conversation I have is punctuated with smooching sounds!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Brave Soldier

Prince is home, after being very brave at the hospital today! Todays drug of choice was Cyclophosphamide, which at this early stage he seems to be coping with well.

I wasn't in as much trouble as I thought I might have been when I went to collect him - when the vet brought him out I got a bit of a grin and a full body-wriggle (from Prince , not the vet!) which was a vast improvement on last week... He's been pretty well since coming home, and was absolutely ravenous after twenty four hours without food. He's now eaten a lot, chewed his way through two bones, bullied me extensively, chased a cat, and has now passed out. He did seem rather tired early in the evening, but I'm sure this is to be expected as I doubt he's had any sleep all day, yet a lot has been going on.

I'm exhausted too, after performing more domestic tasks than any self-respecting man in his early thirties should do in one day. Add to this the worry of Prince being in the hospital all day, and some creative number-crunching to try and figure out how I'm going to survive financially over the coming months, and it all equals extreme tiredness!

Deserted Pooch

Prince is at the hospital for his second chemotherapy treatment, and I'm at home trying to do the 101 domestic chores that he doesn't like me doing when he's here.

It was horrible leaving him again. Unlike last week, when he was too ill and tired to care where he was, he was terrified this morning. In some ways I'm pleased that he reacted 'normally', but I feel awful putting him in a position where he's so scared. First of all, he wouldn't get out of the car as he'd realised where he was, and then he sat in the reception area, shaking like a leaf. He did follow the vet quite happily into the consulting room but then proceeded to try and hide in the corner whilst she checked him over. I was pleased that he seemed to trot off with her quite happily when the time came for me to leave. I suspect that I'm going to be enemy number one again when I go to collect him this afternoon - I'll bet he wees on me rather than the water cooler this time!

Talking of bodily functions (nice!), that was another indignity that Prince had to suffer this morning, as well as having no food - Daddy, following him around the garden with a tupperware tub to collect a urine sample. He was somewhat bemused when I thrust it under him as soon as he cocked his leg!

Oh well, it's a small price to pay if he continues to feel as well as he has over the past week. He's receiving a different drug this time, so I hope he doesn't react badly to it. I'm told that most dogs tolerate it well, so fingers crossed.....

Starvation

Oh dear, I'm in terribly bad books tonight. Prince has to go to the hospital in the morning for his second treatment, which involves sedation and consequently being starved the night before. He thinks it's ridiculous and terribly cruel. Daddy's rubbish.

Actually, the poor chap hasn't had a good day overall. Not because of his Lymphoma, but because of a really nastly, poorly controlled dog. We went out for a walk this afternoon, and he was in great form - trotting ahead happily. I then heard a dog gasping along behind us, pulling its owner along on the end of the lead. I called Prince to me so that they could pass us and go in front. After passing us by about ten metres the owner took the dog of its lead and it immediately ran back to Prince, wagging its tail and looking generally friendly. However, before Prince even had a chance to exchange sniffs, it leapt straight on top of him and grabbed him by the throat. I have to admit to unleashing a volley of expletives, and was about to launch this dog into the air on the end of my boot when its owner dragged it off. Thankfully, having checked him over, Prince seemed none the worse for his ordeal and trotted off quite happily.

It really shook me up though. I've seen many 'diagreements' between dogs, but this was particularly spontaneous and vicious. I'm pleased that Prince is OK, and doesn't seem to have been hurt, but I can't help but think that it's the last thing he needed at the moment - he's going through enough. We didn't see any other dogs for the rest of the walk, but I hope it's not going to cause him to be nervous or defensive - he's always been great with other dogs and nothing but amiable.

The owner of the other dog sloped off whilst I was checking Prince over. I suspect that it was quite obvious that I was furious and not really in the mood for meaningless apologies....

Anyway, on arrival home I decided to bath Prince so that I could check him over thoroughly, and to remove the enormous amount of mud that he'd ended up covered in. Mission accomplished, he's now smelling very sweet, but feeling very sour.

To summarise Princes day, he was attacked, bathed, and then starved. My poor 'baby' - I think some spoiling is in order when I pick him up tomorrow......

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Productive Morning....


As you can see, Prince and I are having a productive morning......

Monday, 2 July 2007

Countdown

We're getting close to his second dose of chemotherapy now, and I'm getting scared again. He's done really well following the first treatment and I've been pleasantly suprised, but as the next one looms up all the original fears have come back. There's no reason why he shouldn't do just as well again, it's just me being paranoid. He's going in on Wednesday, so I'll try and forget about it until then. I'm not looking forward to having to starve him the night before though - the way his appetite is at the moment he may eat me alive!

Visitors


As you can see from the picture above, Prince was somewhat bored by our conversation earlier. It's probably a good thing that he had a nap, as he's been no less energetic on the whole today.

He's been for a good walk and paddle in the stream, played a major role in the preparation of dinner and chewed four rawhide bones this evening. Quite unusually for a dog of more mature years, he's always been obsessed with chewing bones, but over the past few days this has reached new heights. I suspect it's related to his extreme hunger - anything will do! On the plus side, he has the teeth of a four year old!

However, with my income having been slashed to virtually zero since leaving work to look after him, I'm not quite sure how long his four-a-day habit can be maintained. Looks like baked beans for me again......

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Love to Benji & Family

I was sorry to see the comment from Benji's 'parents' a couple of posts down - another dog recently diagnosed with Lymphoma. It must be doubly hard when treatment isn't an option. Prince and I, and I'm sure all readers of this blog, send lots of love and support to you. I'm sure he's had a wonderful fifteen years with you, and you'll do all you can to make him happy over the next few months.

I'm a great believer that the soul (or spirit) lives on concurrently, at many different levels. I find it quite comforting to know that when someone (dog, cat, human etc...) moves on from this physical level, they're always with us (and vice-versa) on a higher level. You just need to 'tune into their new frequency' to know they're around and be with them.

Mumbo-jumbo to some, but fact to me! I'm going to sign off now before I start sounding like a Maharishi Mahesh Yogi wannabe!

Hooliganism

Last night could not be described as an absolute success. Princes visit to his Grandparents was somewhat marred by the outrageous level of excitement and obsession with food demonstrated throughout. I should quickly add that this wasn't Princes fault, as the side-effects from his drugs are such that he can't really help it. However, it was an absolute pain.

Prince spent the whole evening rushing around the house, panting and sqeaking exciteably. My father compounded the situation throughout, by coo-ing, fussing and generally exacerbating the problem. Whilst my father adores Prince, and absolutely dotes on him, he has never really accepted the fact that he doesn't think like a human child. Of course, last night, my fathers actions were simply confirming to Prince that this rushing around and panting was clearly the right thing to do, as he received lots of attention and food to confirm it. Oh well, it was all done out of mis-placed kindness and love, and no harm was done, so we'll move on....

There are no signs today of Princes energy levels reducing significantly, although I do think he's slightly less manic. We're currently waiting for the arrival of his Aunty & Uncle, or my brother and his girlfriend as they would more correctly be called! Undoubtedly, much bone-chewing and galloping around in circles will be taking place when they arrive!