My Cera Bear with the pretty eyes   2 comments

I just cannot believe I am writing this post.

About 6 weeks after learning that our fuzzy baby boy, Baxter, had an inoperable tumor and was heading towards the Rainbow Bridge I noticed that my fuzzy girl Cera had some cloudiness in her left eye. The pupils also seemed abnormally large.

I looked it up online but nothing told me that it was anything to be overly concerned about.

(Cera as a puppy… the green stuffed animal is Monkey Man… her first toy ever and the love of her life, he’s in his fourth incarnation right now)

We took her into the vet that weekend. At first he thought he saw a tumor in the eye. My heart stopped. I just stood there stroking her trying to imagine losing both of them so close together. I just kept telling God, “Please let it be something else because I just can’t do this.”

Well he answered my prayer. It was not a tumor but a luxated lens caused by trauma or Glaucoma. The lens in her eye was disconnected and askew. The other eye did not look great either. And time was of the essense.

We got into the veterinarian ophamologist and he found that she did have Glaucoma. He said that she had already lost sight in her left eye do to the pressure from the Glaucoma causing the lens luxation. The right eye would do the same if we didn’t act. He started talking about drops and I had hope, because drops can’t be too expensive.

But the drops are a band-aid. Even with the drops she will lose her vision in 6-12 months. The only thing that can save her vision is laser inner eye surgery. It is not done locally, we would have to travel to Ft. Myers to have it done and it costs $3,500.

Besides that the pressure will continue to build in the left eye. If we do nothing the pressure will continue to build and her eye to bulge. Will be as if she has a permanent migraine. As someone who has migraines I could not let any living creature suffer that. There is a shot we can give her that will help. It has two drawbacks. The first is that over time it will cause her eye to shrink and that will cause pain and mean we need to have the eye removed. Since she is only six he said he didn’t really recommend this. The other is to remove her eye…. that is 950 dollars. Or we can remove the eye and have a prosthetic which is 1250.

So it boils down to we can let her go blind, which will cost us roughly $2,000. Or we can save her sight which will cost us $4,500 dollars.

To say we don’t have it would be an understatement. It is killing me to say that. It kills both of us to think it.

We are trying to find ways to get the money.

 Our first Christmas …. all of us (Cera was born on the same day we had our first date… we joke she is as old as us)

To anyone reading this Steve will mow your lawn, hook up your surround sound system, fix computer issues, or do manual labor to earn money for this. On my part my birthday is in a month… what I want is for my dog to be able to see. Please do not give me gifts… donate to Cera. If I can watch your child for a few hours, come over and do your dishes, tutor your children, or sew anything that I make I will do so for a donation.

Basically if you need something done and you’re willing to pay someone else to do it…. ask us! We will do it!

(you can see the difference between happy Cera and sad Cera here)
To our the families who have adopted our rescues:

I feel terrible even saying this but I have to.

When we started rescuing and fostering we did it because it was the right thing and because we could. We rarely received compensation and if we did it never covered what it cost to rescue, feed, train and vet any of the dogs.

If you appreciate what we did, and what we want to continue to do, please consider helping. I feel wrong asking but I would do just about anything, even beg for money, to help Cera.

Cera is the reason we started rescuing. The first rescue that we organized, which saved 24 dogs and 4 cats was because I saw the picture of a little girl dog who looked so much like Cera I could not let her die. When I called to adopt her I found out there were 10 other dogs in danger and it avalanched from there. It literally is because of Cera that there are over 50 dogs out there who have been rescued or fostered by our family.

Cera has put up with a lot in all of that. She has allowed new dogs to chew on her toys, to share her bed, her home, her food and with most difficulty her mama and daddy.

If each of our rescued dogs families donated 25 dollars we would have a good portion of what we need. If each of my Facebook friends gave $5 her surgery would be paid for.

That last fact amazes me because I know times are tough and I know that to a lot of people she is “just a dog”… but who can’t spare $5? And if you can’t… I understand. But please pass this around to others.

She is not just a dog. She is a beautiful soul who is family. She IS family and I feel so much like a failure. If I had taken her into the vet sooner some of this might have been avoided. I am trying not to beat myself up for it, but it’s true.

It was suggested to me that her quality of life would be compromised and I should just put her to sleep. She is six years old. She LOVES life… she loves us. She has already struggled with life and it’s not her time to go. (for those of you who don’t know Cera was born with holes in her brain. Probably due to exposure to distemper while in utero. When she came to us she bobbled and shook as if she had Parkinsons. There was so much she could not do. After some water therapy she improved and gets along better… but struggles. She cannot jump on furniture or move quickly and her back legs give out on her often). She loves to go for walks, to swim, to play, she loves any type of attention and love. She loves to stand with her face in the wind, close her eyes and “talk to God”…. I don’t know how else to describe it but she looks as if she’s listening to His answers when she does this.

 (you can see the difference in her left eye and right eye here… this is after her first drop dosage that gave her iris back again)

I’ve been told that dogs do alright being blind. But she lives in a house with one small child and we’d like to have at least one more. I worry about her stepping on a baby… about a baby stepping on her. About her living in fear of a toddler grabbing her unawares… and how will she react to all of this.

Even if you believe she is “just a dog” do this for me. Do this out of compassion. Do this because you couldn’t do something else small. Share her story, her link, give $5 or more and help me or her….
I cannot do anything to save Baxter but I am going to do everything I can for Cera because I can. I will not go down without a fight.

Please help us help her!


Posted August 9, 2012 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Health/Exercise, Pets

Family Traditions   4 comments

I wanted to write about some of our family’s unique traditions but in the meantime I was wondering what are YOUR family traditions?

I love a good tradition… I love the familiarity of knowing what will happen on Christmas Eve or my birthday evening. My family was big on traditions and I want to incorporate them into our family life as well as create our own.

Since I’m looking to create some of our own I’d love to steal hear what some of yours are. So here are some of the ones we had growing up so that you can steal enjoy hearing them.

– We did the advent calendar every Sunday leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve we would light the last candle and sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus.

– During the holiday season a little empty manager would appear and my brother and I were to put a piece of straw in the manager every time we did something kind or loving or that Jesus would approve of. It was a nice reminder that the season was about more than gifts and glitz. I remember my brother doing something nice for me and telling him excitedly, “You should go put a piece of straw in!” It was the honor system and not punitive, we were never told to take any out. On Christmas Eve we would put a little figure of baby Jesus in the manger after singing Happy Birthday and we’d also sing Away in a Manger. The kinder we were the softer his bed.

– Of course we left cookies and milk out for Santa and we always got a letter back from him the next day. We also left an apple or carrot for Rudolph 😉

-On Christmas Eve we were allowed to open ONE gift… that my mom picked. That was inevitably new pajamas or slipper or something adorable like that.

– Every year my grandfather or father would need to run to the store to get milk and then Santa would call to tell us he was on his way and to hurry to bed. I always felt so bad that Dad or Poppop missed that call …. 😉

– My father would always read Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve… to this day I have the entire poem memorized.

— We had Santa “peepers” owl shaped binoculars and right before bed we would go out and look for Santa’s sleigh and/or Rudolph’s nose. Inevitably one of us would “spot” him and this would be my parents queue to rush us off to bed before he arrived.

-We had to have our letter for Santa that said what we wanted for Christmas ready by the weekend after Thanksgiving, so he had time to make everything. We’d lay it in the fireplace before bed and in the morning it would be gone!!!!

-Christmas morning we were not allowed to get up until the sun was up, this rule was implemented as my brother and I got up progressively earlier. But we were allowed to hang out in each others room…. I would always keep the gifts I got for him in my room so when he’d sneak in I’d have something for him.

-My mom would freeze maraschino cherries and sprite into ice cubes on Christmas and Easter… some were red and some were green. It was the most awesome thing ever!

– Of course we dyed our Easter eggs….can’t think of anything beyond the usual for Easter. We were allowed a few minutes to check out our baskets before church and allowed to hunt for an egg or two for breakfast. When we got home we got to do our Easter Egg hunt for the real eggs. After lunch we did a Nana and Poppop search for the little plastic eggs full of goodies.

-When we were sick we had a special sick blanket and sick cup. Mom would make us a bed on the couch or on the floor of her room and would always make whatever we wanted for lunch.

– On our birthdays we always got to pick the restaurant, within reason, that we went to for family dinner. This became a HUGE decision that resulted from weeks of conferencing together… especially because my brothers birthday and mine are 10 days apart.

– We got to select ANYTHING we wanted our birthday cake to be and mom would attempt it. This resulted in my brother issuing some pretty crazy challenges for her.

-On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we either made breakfast in bed for them (and they pretended it was good) or we took them to McDonalds (which they pretended was good as well).

-On Mother’s Day my mother and Nana got an orchid corsage to wear. All the ladies got them for Easter.

– We always took our photo in the same spot in front of the fireplace for the first day of school and any other big event.

– If we saw my mom or dad shopping for a gift and asked what they were getting they would tell us “Kitten britches” or “Kitten mittens”… that when when an overexcited 4 year old would blurt out “Daddy I know what Mommy got you for your birthday!” It was funny rather than ruining the surprise.

-On random days my mom or dad would show up to school to eat lunch with us, or take us to lunch. Either way it made me feel special.

-On random days my mom would leave a card or note in my lunch box 🙂

-On New Years Eve my parents would make pillow beds on the floor of the living room for us and we’d watch family movies of the previous year until it was time to watch Dick Clark… if we didn’t make it to midnight and fell asleep… no biggie, we were already in “bed.”

-Tuesday night was No TV night and Family Game Night.

-In the summer we tried to have picnics once a week.

-On vacations my brother and I would take turns buying each other gifts or souvenirs. We rarely bought ourselves anything but always got what we wanted 😉

-My mom always made our Halloween costumes…

(This was both my brothers favorite and my favorite costumes ever… Tiger and the Princess)

Oh man… I am just sure I am forgetting some things….
Oh well, my mother reads my blog so I’m sure she’ll remind me.

There are also some things I remember my parents, particularly my Dad, always saying…. not quite traditions but they stuck.

-When we’d leave for vacation, finally, after finding the last bag, remembering to turn out the lights etc he’d always say “We’re off like a herd of turtles”

-When driving he’d tell us whoever saw a cow first owed him $10…. If you’ve ever driven through Florida you realize this was a clever way to keep us hunched over and quiet with our eyes covered for a while. We never did pay him….

-Eventually as we got older and cleverer we would say they weren’t cows they were short necked giraffes or long legged pigs or what not.

-When we got in the mountain and inevitably saw sings that say “Watch for Falling Rock” my father would tell us the story of Princess Falling Rock. How she ran way from home to be with her one true love and her father was still looking for her to this day, thus the signs.

Did it work?   Leave a comment

I am sure you all have been anxiously awaiting my post concerning the week long leg slimming exercises. Did they work? Did I keep up with them? Am I still walking? That sort of thing….

The answers in summary are maybe, sorta and yes!

I’m delayed because we had our most awesome birthday weekend for Steve, followed by the Fourth of July….. lots of Daddy time, trip to Orlando and other coolness. I may do a post about it since it was pretty much the “cool thing” for LA and me for the week unless I do something else in the next few days.

So the exercises…. I definitely felt that the first two were the most effective of the bunch. There were a few in there that didn’t make me “feel the burn” or anything. I was very concerned that I would be sore doing them daily but there was only minimal soreness.

I really tried to keep up with them daily.

Thursday I rocked!

Friday I did all but one set and I did them right before having some girls over for Book Club…. dedication.

Saturday I woke up battling a migraine so I did all of them except the floor exercises but I felt like they put a strain on my neck/back a bit.

Sunday…. I did them all!

Monday…. I had a super productive morning so the universe had to compensate and send another migraine my way so I didn’t do anything 😦

Tuesday …. I did only the standing ones, because I was afraid of the migraine returning.

Wednesday I did them all.

Thursday…. I did nothing.

Friday (I added an extra day in there because I was a slacker) and I did the standing ones again.

I really felt like the standing ones did the most for me…. but also for some reasons the floor work ones made me feel like they were inviting pain. This is nothing new. I have read in every migraine book and pamphlet that exercising is supposed to help migraines. Some even say if you feel one coming on to go for a walk. But, besides the occasional walk, it seems to be the opposite for me. I don’t know if it’s my body’s self defense mechanism as it fights exercise or if I’m totally doing it wrong. But it’s true… not an excuse. And it is especially true of anything involving “floor work”…. this is explains why I have less than spectacular abs. Or at least why I’m offering up that I have less than spectacular abs.
Also LA tends to think I’ma jungle gym whenever I lay on the floor to exercise.

I did pretty good watching what I ate. Resisted the ice cream and had fruit instead.


My weight stayed the same… went up a pound or two actually (or could be that I’d just eaten, I don’t remember).

When I started I measured my thighs and they were 20 inches and 22 inches in different locations. When I remeasured after a week they were 21 inches in both locations. So I’m not sure if this counts as a success….. hmmmmmmmm

BUT WAIT!!!! Then I read a blurb in Parents Magazine that says:

Danish scientists found that women with skinny thighs had a higher risk of heart disease and premature death than those with meatier ones.

At this point I’m thinking… ok so there is a benefit to my chunky thighs! Yes!!!!
I continue reading….

A circumference of 24.4 inches was most protective.

Not gonna lie… my first thought was “Yes! Danish scientists think I have slender thighs.”

I reveled in that for a minute before I realized, “Danish scientists also think I’m going to die prematurely! Yikes!”

But in all seriousness I am still on a somewhat fitness kick. I’ve looked into Paleo diet, but I’m not sure I can forego bread. I am working on a new exercise plan and I will be posting about it here too…..
Still need nagging! 😉

For me… and my legs   3 comments

I’m going to try one of those exercise programs that promises results in so many days.

I’ve been pinning exercise and health things like crazy lately. I think my subconscious believes that if I pin it than it will be effective. Sadly that is not the case or I would surely be the worlds most sought after bikini model 😉

Overall I should also give a note on my fitness. I used to do some dancing in high school and through my twenties I was in fairly good shape. Not super strong but ok with cardio and pretty flexible. When I was pregnant I dropped 20 pounds in my first trimester. I wasn’t sick, I just didn’t feel like eating a lot and weight just dropped off. I started gaining it back towards the end of the second trimester. The day before LA was born I was 9 pounds over my start weight.

The night she was born Steve suggested I get on the scale out of curiosity. I was about 10 pounds under my start weight. When I went in for my two week check up I was 20 pounds below my start weight…. only five pounds over my dream goal weight. Things weren’t exactly falling where they should but I figured I could tone up and I was in good shape. I had heard from everyone that nursing made you lose weight… so I was confidant.

However in the 21 months since LA was born I have gained the weight back and am back at my start weight. This wouldn’t be such a huge deal except things still are not exactly where they should be still AND I have the weight back.

So I’ve been making an effort to watch what I eat and up my activity. This little experiment goes perfectly with that.

The first I thought I’d try is this one from Girl Lookit that promises slimmer thighs in 7 days. I chose it because my three biggest issue areas are my inner thighs, my upper arms and a tie between muffin top and my tush. A note on my butt…. I always had a pretty great butt, not to be all conceited. I never looked at it much but I got compliments so I chose to believe them.

After LA was born I was checking myself out in the mirror (as we all do, even if we haven’t just had a baby) and I noticed my butt was gone.  Vanished! I figured I was being crazy because how would your butt disappear from giving birth. But sure enough a few days later both my mom and my husband commented that it was gone…. they made this comment on my birthday btw. It’s a good thing I love them. And at the time I was confidant it would come back. I think it’s come back, but not quite the same. So I’ll probably try one of these exercise routines for that area at some point as well.

Today I did my first day of the thigh exercises… I am not gonna lie. I’m out of shape. I did most of them pretty well but #2 really killed me. My plies were not nearly as low for the second half as the first.

My only issue thus far is that I wish there were pictures. I was pretty sure I was doing some of the exercises incorrectly. I’m going to try to look them up to see if I can find something with pictures. I also wish it was more clear. It says 7 days to slimmer thighs but it doesn’t say you should do this every day or not. I’m going to assume that is the intent.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Anyone want to join me? Start today or tomorrow and let me know if you get results in 7 days. I measured my thighs this morning so I’m curious to see what happens!

PS I did some searching and found that iVillage has a link to the exercises with pictures. I was definitely doing some wrong… looks like the other is a blogger that just took the ideas 🙂

His First Coffee Mug   Leave a comment

So the week before last I took LA to a paint your own pottery location to create a mug for Steve for Father’s Day. Conveniently this also counted as my “something cool and unusual” for her because of my resolution (in case you were keeping track).

I figure he will get lots of crafts and probably lots of mugs but this will be his first.

When we first walked in I immediately panicked a bit inside because there were SO many breakable things in the ceramics store… go figure!

Of course, she immediately wanted to run around and play. This was SO not happening.

She helped me pick out a mug and the lady brought us our paint and we went to town. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like… good thing I’m flexible because it ended up looking totally different.

LA was happy to paint and switched from color to color. She saw me painting the bottom inside of the mug (which I was trying to do as prep for her to have a base to color on… this did not work) so she tried to do the same. The inside of his mug may even be more decorated than the outside.

She concentrated really hard on her artwork.

At one point though she saw some ceramic painted pumpkins. The child is obsessed with apples so naturally she assumed they were apples and had a mini meltdown because I am mean and would not let her have them.

(oh yeah, we aren’t perfect… we have tantrums because mama won’t let us eat ceramic pumpkins disguised as apples)

Thankfully a nice lady who works there saved the day by providing a cookie… crisis averted.

Her favorite part of the project was when I painted her hands and she got to do hand prints on the mug.

A very successful project for Daddy. He liked it.

By the way, I really wanted to post this earlier because I think it’s such a great idea for something to do with really little ones for gifts. But since my husband reads my blog I couldn’t risk it 😉

Also, for this past week I did keep my resolution for us both. Steve had a conference in Miami and we tagged along. For me I got to take a nap by the pool when LA did and enjoy room service. LA and I got to have nearly two days of just us, no distractions, no cleaning and no work. She also got to be the center of attention every time a hotel worker came around… seriously she was the belle of the ball so to speak and she loved it. I think she got totally used to the pampering even though we were only there two nights!
I got used to it… I’ve officially decided that we should be rich. I like room service and pool boys who bring me cool drinks and amazing views.

AND we made French Bread today from scratch… so this counts for LA because she got to make a bit of a mess (although she cried when she couldn’t get dough off her hands) and it counts for me because I am a bread a holic (although I cried a bit when she got dough in her hair and I couldn’t get it out!).
PS I am not seeking help for my addiction, it is too delicious.

For the Dads   1 comment

When I was pregnant with LA Steve was a very attentive father to be. He anxiously awaited word that I was craving something  and quickly delivered whatever “sounded good” to me.  I actually felt bad that I didn’t crave more… he was ready to spring into action.

He is not a reader but it made me love him all the more to see him lying on the gurney reading the Baby Book for Dads as he awaited his back procedure.

Every night he would talk to my belly and play games with Zygie (as we called LA when she was “on the inside”)… in the morning he’d wake her up to say goodbye before work- shining flashlights, tapping what we figured was her bottom. She would always turn to whichever side he was on and  press her hands against his mouth. (Side note- when she was born she immedately took her little hands and put them to his mouth just like she’d done before… so amazing).

In other words, he was a great, very involved dad. He even joked that I was “hogging” the baby.

We did everything as a team that we could. He even went to the breastfeeding classes with me. We read, together, the progress reports for our baby. He wanted to know all that I was going through. When she was born he was right there… I felt like I couldn’t have done it without him. He was even going to “catch” her if she hadn’t, in his words, “shot out like a torpedo.”

I am not sure how to put it into words but I felt like even though it’s a painful, messy business we women have the better end of the deal because we get to have the full experience.

I remember thinking that sometimes it must be very hard to be a dad. As involved as Steve was he could not experience all that I felt. Everything was through me. We did the best we could… he was right there every step of the way but he didn’t get to lay awake at night feeling our child turn inside. And after she was born he had to go back to work while I spent my days with her. He would always remind me to have the camera ready for first steps or words. At night he’d remind her that she should wait to do those things for when he was home.

Not sure how men would feel about that sentiment.

Some would probably vehemently disagree and some might agree, at least a bit. It’s gotta be tough to be the dad.

So this article that recently came out was great. It talks about how many fathers feel they receive mixed messages. They are encouraged to attend everything but they feel in the way. More men actually get post partum depression than women, which is fascinating. Father’s have it tough too!

No matter how much a child loves their father 9 times out of 10 a child will call for mama when they are hurt, tired or sad. While Steve was there doing everything he could LA still wanted me 75% of the time when she was under a year old. Mostly because I have the “magic boobies” (as they are called in our family) and because I was the one home with her all day. I kept thinking that must be hard for dads because they love them just as much as mama does.

I have loved seeing their relationship change as LA grows. She has to show him everything. I love watching her drag my huge husband around the house to show him her block tower. I love even more watching them build something on the floor or seeing him help her color. She loves her Daddy. He is the first person she looks for in the morning and when he’s already gone to work she walks around looking for him, as if he’s hiding.

When I was pregnant I gave a little talk to the health class at the high school where I taught. In one of the classes I said something like, “When my husband and I found out we were pregnant..” about that time some punk boy snickered and said something like, “Like He’s pregnant too.”

Usually when people say something stupid like that I’m pretty quick with a snarky comment. In this case words left me, I will blame pregnant brain. What I wish I had said to him was:

Yes… when WE found out we were pregnant. We… as in both of us. Because while only I am carrying the child we are both going to be parents. Because he is a real man and intends to be a real father his life will change too when this baby arrives. And because he is a good man he is just as involved in the preparation for this baby’s arrival. If you grow up to have half of his integrity someday you will understand that any man can make a baby but it takes a true, quality man to become a father. So yes, WE found out that we were pregnant.

Sometimes the kid gets called a punka– in the little speech in my head, but that wouldn’t have happened in real life.

Being a dad is a tough job. And many of the fathers in our generation have taken on even more. They are committed to helping in the house and being a more involved parent than many dads of yesterday.  They are staying home and raising children, either while mama works or on their own. They are setting aside their dignity and being silly with their children. They are working so hard … and sometimes I think Dad’s get a bit overlooked because Mama is just so glamorous 😉

So this weekend celebrate all the good dads. All the daddies who dance and sing silly songs with their daughters. The dads who build castles and racetracks on the floor. The dads who lead their sons into being quality fathers themselves someday. The dads who show their daughter what they should expect someday from their own husbands.

I know in our house we will be doing all we can to make our special daddy know how very loved he is.

Love at first sight

I think this is my all time favorite photo of him with her. The look on his face makes me fall in love with him all over again every time.


And, by the way, this commercial makes me both laugh and tear up every time. I look forward to the day I see Steve dancing with LA like this… but I promise not to post the video 🙂

Posted June 16, 2012 by etainl in Celebrations and Milestones, Culture, my cool husband

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A Very Bad Day   5 comments

This past Monday I blithely walked into a new vets office with my boy Baxter. I expected to be told that he needed to have his teeth cleaned or even maybe one or two pulled. Worst case scenario in my mind was that he had an abscess or something affecting his jaw.

Baxter Barker
This is the picture that won him cutest rescue dog 😉



However I left in tears with the news that we would not have Baxter much longer.

I feel like I should tell you all about Baxter but that will have to wait for another time as I’m already nearly in tears just writing about what is going on. He deserves his story to be told.

We knew he had bad teeth so when he started doing a weird tremble with his jaw we were concerned. When we adopted him the vet told us the best guess on his age was between 5 and 7, we gave him the benefit of the doubt and said he was 5, but we just don’t know. On top of that he was not properly cared for before us (BU). When he came to us he was dying of heartworm and had to go through painful arsenic treatment to get a clean bill of health. His teeth were the icing on the neglected cake… they were broken, worn down and grey.

When we first adopted him we did what we could and tried to buy him teeth cleaning toys (which he had no idea how to play with) and to brush his teeth which he hated.

Just before LA was born we had both Baxter and his “sister”, Cera, at the vet for full check ups. We asked about a swelling behind his right eye and a bulge there. They told us it could be anything from an eye tumor to an infection, if it was an infection it would go away. They advised us to take him to his regular vet.

A month or two later Steve took him in. Our vet said his eye had been scratched and gotten infected. She gave us an ointment and an oral antibiotic and that was it. It cleared up but the swelling behind the eye itself was still there.

6 months ago I took him to the vet again because his eye seemed to be having problems controlling the “inner lid” and the swelling behind the eye was still there. Again they gave me ointments. I asked about the swelling and they just shrugged it off as part of his age.

But the jaw thing was new. Unique to the past month or so I would say. Besides his lower jaw tremble he was occasionally yelping when he yawned and his appetite was lower. We weren’t sure if that was part of the problem as he has always been a notoriously picky eater.

In short, I suspected teeth problems. Our regular vet gave me an estimate over the phone of 450 dollars, more if there was more involved. So I called another local vet I had heard good things about. The woman spent a lot of time on the phone with me and gave me an estimate of 199 dollars. So I made him an appointment for Monday.

Baxter was afraid in the office. He always seems certain I’m going to leave him behind and stays glued to me.

The vet took us back and began his exam. It took him 30 second to inspect his teeth and look down his throat. He immediately said, “There’s a tumor.”

He showed me. It was huge… the far back right roof of his mouth. It extends nearly past the halfway point of his throat. He then inspected his head and showed me the swelling that I have been concerned about the past few years behind his eye…. it is the tumor that has grown out from there.

The tremor in his jaw is the tumor either making it uncomfortable to close his mouth or the tumor effecting his jaw closing.

My brain really struggled as to what this would mean. I asked the obvious, “Can it be removed?” And saw the answer in his eyes even as my brain told me it couldn’t. Because it is on the rof of his mouth and through his skull they would have to remove most of his mouth, eye, eye socket. The vet didn’t say it was impossible, just very invasive. I can’t even imagine how he would ever eat or what would be left of his jaw if we tried to do that.

He explained gently that we would have to start with a biopsy, which because of location would have to be done while he was under anesthetic (which is increasingly dangerous for dogs as they age). Then they could decide how to proceed. Chemotherapy would be the only other real option.

I knew I did not want to put him through pain, sickness and endless vet visits for just a few weeks or months. I knew that if his time was limited I did not want it to involve all of that. The vet agreed and said that there was only a slim chance that it would cure him, mostly just buy very limited time. He agreed that if he was his dog he would take him home, buy his favorite foods, pamper him and wait until the pain was bad.

Took this as we were leaving the vet

By this time I was struggling to speak. I asked a few more questions I’m sure. He explained that it appeared to be a slow growing tumor. I could tell that behind my grief there was anger at the two vets who never looked in his throat. Three visits in two years! Why was this not noticed if it was slow growing?

I struggled to ask him if it had been caught earlier could we have done more? He said it was hard to tell but most likely not. This made me feel a bit better (although now I’ve done internet research and there are several sites that say the opposite. I wonder if he was just trying to save my previous vet from an angry phone call or visit. Which still may happen, but first I have to get to the place where I could talk about it without crying.)

He said he would prescribe pain medicine and we would take it from there. I asked when he’d need it. He said when he was rubbing his mouth, eating less or yelping when yawning. I said that he was already doing that on occasion. The vets eyes told me this was not good news.

I asked if this was hurting him… he answered that it was hard to say. It probably would eventually but at this point it may just be making his jaw uncomfortable.

Then he sent me home.

I called Steve and could barely get out the words. My mother told me not to pick up LA until I’d pulled myself together. I really tried but as soon as Steve got home I dissolved into tears.

My wonderful husband had stopped at the store and gotten the ingredients to make natural dog food. We used to make homemade but when LA was about 6 months we tried other things because it was too much for me to feed two 65 pound dogs twice a day and keep up. He said that he’d help take over it but both dogs seemed healthier on it and maybe the natural food would help slow the growth of the tumor (there are lots of studies that regular kibble is contributing to cancer in dogs). And at the very least he loved it, so that made it worth it.

Steve and I both struggled with our emotions all evening. We didn’t want to frighten LA. It is both a blessing and a curse that she doesn’t understand this yet. A blessing because she doesn’t understand the concept of death and a curse because one day her best friend will just be gone.

And that is something I am struggling with… besides being my baby boy he is LA’s best friend. They cuddle watching TV. She feeds him her food. She lounges all over him and showers him with kisses. He sleeps by her crib. She feels she must say good night to both dogs every night but Baxter is her best friend.

While I’m relieved I don’t have to have that talk about death yet with her really. One day he just won’t be here for her and she won’t really understand why. I thought we would have him to an age where she could remember him… at least a bit.

And my other girl, Cera. To her he is her best friend, brother, partner, everything. They are a set. On dark nights she doesn’t want to go outside without him. I do not know how she will react to his “disappearance.”

We tried to have conversations (mostly over IM because it was a little less emotional) about how we want to proceed. We decided that we are willing to pay whatever fee to a vet to come to the house when the time comes, because he is so afraid of the office we don’t want his last moments there. We agreed that we should try to process this as quickly as we can and then focus on the fact that we do still have him and we can make his last time as lovely and comfortable as we can. We are having pictures taken of Baxter with LA and we hope to get a family picture as well with us all. We will up walks to his favorite bush/tree so he can mark it. More car rides. But when we got to the point of discussing burial we couldn’t get any further.

Steve is afraid of me having false hope because two friends have told me of tumors that mysteriously disappeared. One friend was giving her dog an anti cancer natural diet that is very close to what we were already planning on feeding him. So we are tweaking his food to match the cancer diet. I’ve read of herbs that slow the growth and sometimes even help shrink. I’m trying not to have false hope, but I can try.

Steve feels he can already see him getting worse… I think it’s just because we are more aware of the problem. Last night I tried to give him a pupperoni stick he was asking for. His jaw was too weak to bite down and take it. I hate to hold it for him as he gnawed off pieces using his back teeth. I cannot even tell you how this broke my heart.

We are a sad set of parents trying to pull it together for the kids, the human one and the fuzzy ones too.

I just pray we have months and months rather than weeks and weeks. We are hoping he makes it to the fall because Baxter truly loves to go camping in the fall and we are planning a trip to Ft. DeSoto just for him as the weather cools. I just hope he will be there.

Posted June 10, 2012 by etainl in Life, Pets