Happy birthday Toni!

Wednesday I took Toni to a new vet, at a different veterinary practice, to get a second opinion about her congestive heart failure.  If you are going to get such a serious diagnosis, that will go with her through life, it seems necessary to get a second opinion. Here’s what, for me, came out of that meeting:

  1. Our current vet is doing all the right things, including giving all the right four meds.
  2. It doesn’t need to be a real expensive process, unless you go to a cardiologist for a second opinion.  That will cost a lot of money and almost certainly gain nothing.  The meds will be expensive.
  3. She’s not going to get better – you need to just keep her comfortable and happy.  This sounded suspicious.
  4. She will probably live another 1-3 years.  Sometimes a dog will live longer, but it’s not common.  I really knew this was bogus.  We don’t want to condemn a person to 1/2/3 years to live (although doctors do it) – why do it with a dog?
  5. The vet had all kinds impressive scientific-sounding things to say, but I mostly couldn’t understand him.kitchen carpet

Thursday, yesterday, we had our previously scheduled follow up with our vet.  Here’s what came out of that meeting with a very impressive vet filling in for our regular person:

  1. “I don’t think we are doing everything right: we’ve got her on eye drops for glaucoma and I think that was mis-diagnosed.  If you take her off of those, there’s one less hassle and a little less money.”  Big sigh of relief.  I’ve been finding it impossible to get those drops in her eyes and mostly quit already.
  2. “You are paying a lot to compound this one med in liquid form.  A pill would be a lot cheaper.  Can you get a pill down her?”  “Before we started her on this exact steroid medicine, she was such a picky eater that there was no reliable way to get a pill down. Now she eats like a hound.”
  3. “You described that over the last three days she actually did get better.  What’s different? Is there a change in her diet?  Is she getting less salt?” “In fact, yes, so many people have told me she needs less salt that in the last few days I’ve been reducing the salty foods.”  “OK, let’s keep it up – maybe she can get better.”
  4. “I wish that other doctor had not told you that 1-3 years business.  Lots of dogs live a long time with congestive heart failure.  We don’t know how long she’s going to last.”  This jibes with what lots of people have told me – that their dog lived a long time with heart disease.
  5. This vet, like our regular person, went out of her way to explain everything to me – and mostly I could understand her.  cookie

Today is Toni’s 10th birthday.  It has felt very festive.  For dinner she had beef eye of round from the Earth Fare deli – probably too salty, but a treat on a special day.  It’s her fourth day of being more perky – she seemed to have a happy day. She may not have another ten years in her, but who knows how many?  If she’s happy and well-loved, that may not only increase her quality of life in the present, but also give her more of a future.



A close friend said to me the other day, “When you were a cashier at Earth Fare supermarket those last four years, you did so much more than sell groceries.  You were always looking for ways to affirm your customer.  You were really a blessing for them.  Why would it be a surprise that your pet sitting should go way beyond what people think of in that work?”

I recognize that I do more, that I want to offer more.  I send a text message with a new photo every time I look in on a pet.  Because I’m a writer, these text messages have some significant content.  I shine a positive light on the pet – point out their beauty.  IMG_0140

IMG_20180821_104310574.jpgIMG_20180822_090958602.jpgWhen this is a regular customer or they give me a big job, I write a commissioned poem about their pet.  These commissioned poems retail for $100 and totally are a blessing on the animal – and the person’s relationship with the animal.

I love the house – take good care of it, bless it.

I bless the family – want for them to have enchanted relationships with their pets, want for them to have a happy household.  At Earth Fare, I was never content with swiping groceries.  A recent pet sitting customer said she wanted me for the job partly because she remembered having special conversations with me at Earth Fare.

I am grateful to have this work: to spend time with beautiful animals, in a beautiful house, for beautiful families.

Dogs Took Over the Internet. Our Souls Are at Stake.

It used to be that the cat was the big beast online. But lately, dogs are taking over.
In the first episode of the new season of her video series, “Internetting,” Amanda Hess investigates an adorable existential crisis for web culture.

Dogs are order. Cats are chaos. Dogs are loyal and compliant. Cats are … not. Why has the internet suddenly switched its allegiance? Episode 1 of our video series.

This 4 1/2 video from the New York Times is very funny  – and maybe even insightful.Internetting

Toni ESAMy little Toni is more resilient today – more her old self, handling many different situations with poise. On our first three errands, she just plopped herself down on the floor, patiently waiting for me to complete my business – no restlessness, no hard breathing. But after our third errand, when we got in the car she did start to hyperventilate. And i thought, “When I was planning this outing all of these errands seemed kind of urgent, but you know what? These last three errands could just as well be done another day – or maybe one a day over three days.”

She’s my little canary in the coal mine, letting me know when the situation is moving into a toxic zone – probably for me in addition to her.

For Buddy

It feels a little creepy, when my current dog is so sick, to post this poem that I wrote five years ago when my Buddy was dying.  But, I think, not really creepy.  It’s just about mortality, about impermanence.  Everything dies.  Everyone we love will eventually go away from us – by their death or ours or something else.  My very wise friend Arayah said after Toni’s heart disease diagnosis, “Toni will be with you exactly as long as she is meant to be with you – not one day more or less.”

When my Buddy was dying, my friend Johanna – a big fan of my poetry, said to me on the phone, “Write Buddy a poem – and read it to him right before you put him down tonight.”  It knew it was the best advice I could have gotten.  That afternoon I carried Buddy out to our back deck for us to sit in the glorious warm late-fall sunshine.  I sat next to him and very easily wrote the poem.  I read out loud to him and I – who had not yet found my way into my tears about his dying – cried like a baby.  It was healing.  I hope it is helpful to you.IMG_0140

For Buddy

Once you were afraid of me – and all men
When I stepped on your paw, you ran away –
You thought I was trying to hurt you
Now I am your safe space
You trust me
You have taught me about trust
You have taught me so many things

You have shown me what it’s like
To come totally awake to the night
To smell, hear, and sense it all
Like there is no tomorrow
Like there is nothing else
Just this night – here, now

You have shown me what it’s like to be content
This moment, this place, this life

You have shown me what it’s like to have no regrets
No second-guessing
Wishing we had done something different

I can’t take away your cancer
I can’t extend your life
I can’t keep you here with me
I can commit to you, before you go
Out of gratitude for all you have given me
Over all these years
That I will redouble my efforts
To sense the night
To be content
To have no regrets
And that sometimes
When I feel the night
Am content or
Have no regrets
I will think of you
And I will smile

My first donation!

About two hours ago I decided to start sending out my Go Send Me funds request now, even without my Rover.com registration complete.  An hour later I got my first donation!  And from my best man friend in Asheville, Tom Kilby.  I was at Earth Fare – where I still, for another week, am on the payroll and where he works.  He bopped me on the head, as he is prone to do, with a ten dollar bill – a first for that.  He said “Hey, I’m not going to do Pay Pal and I don’t use checks – here, this is for your fund.”  Wow, what a shot in the arm!  I got my first donation even before I sent out the request!  And from this person who is so special to me.  This is really good ju-ju…or luck…or divine blessing. Tom and Amanda

My mind went crazy.  I’ve gotta create a spreadsheet to keep track of the donations.  What was the perk for a $10 donation?  I’ve gotta look that up and send it off to him right away.  Actually, I mostly need to breathe and trust.  Exactly the right amount of money is going to come in at just the right time.  If it’s not enough to pay for my liability insurance, things will work out.  If it’s more, that would be awesome.

No Rover.com yet

One of the things that has been holding me back from sending out the blog post with my “Go Send Me” funds request is that I wanted to have my Rover.com profile and registration complete – providing all of you and other potential customers a cross-section of my customer comments/testimonials.  But I can’t complete that registration until I have my insurance and bonding in place – and I can’t pay the $360 for the insurance until I get some income from this appeal. It’s the rock and a hard place thing.

This afternoon it got clear to me that the time is right to send out that beautiful letter, without the Rover registration – and hopefully in the short term score the money for the insurance, my top funding priority right now.  You can always go into Rover a few days from now to see my completed profile.  It’s exciting that I am going to let the horse out of the barn – or something like that. Amanda and Katie

In an hour Toni and I go to our vet and two hours after that my dear friend Amanda comes over to picnic in our stunning 13th floor Roof Garden.  She and I have not managed to find a time to talk since before my stroke, much less Toni’s health crises – and I may even get interested in the recent events of her life.  That sounds really, really good actually.