For an unknown period of time, I may not be available for consultations. You can contact me, but I can make no guarantees that the situation will allow me to help right now.
My boy Ryder’s hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the spleen) has progressed to a much more critical level. He had a bleed on Tuesday 9/15, and since then my world has been all about supporting him through the recovery from this incident. As of today, Saturday the 19th, he’s more stable but still weak, and we are working on trying to help him find his appetite again. I’m in close contact with his vet, and doing everything I can to bring him through the crisis.
Please think good thoughts for Ryder. He’s such a sweet and special boy. A true gentle soul.
First, the mundane: As of 12/26/15, all “normal” operations will resume, with one minor exception. New clients will still have to be referred by a current client whose account is up to date (I must be able to verify this referral). Other than that, I am able to pretty much function as normal (well, as normal as I’ve ever been, anyway).
As of January 1st, my rates will be changing. The base rate will be $45/half hour minimum, and the per-minute rate will then be $1.50.
In addition, my resolution here on in is to be much more diligent about billing past accounts, and firm (this means rock-solid) on my policy to place overdue accounts on “pre-pay only status”. This information is reflected on my Important Info Page. Please read it before scheduling an appointment, thank you.
Now For The Interesting News
Through sorrow comes peace. I have had another painful and heart-breaking loss in my life. On December 13th, my dear friend, Lin, passed away. Lin battled a horrific cancer for three years, never giving in to it. Eventually, however, her body grew frail and could no longer contain her strong spirit. I will miss her presence in my life terribly. Lin was a force of good for so many. She was always the first person to step up to the plate when anyone (dog or human) in the Saluki community had a need. Lin and I worked on many charity auctions together, strove together to raise support for Saluki health research, and were part of the initial discussion committee which led to the formation of STOLA — the Saluki Tree of Life Alliance, Inc (our breed’s national rescue group).
I was asked if I would bring her 8 year old Saluki, Ryder, into my home and family. Of course, I was honored and blessed to do so. On Wednesday the 16th, Joe and I drove halfway to Ontario to meet friends Janice and Sandy (Lin’s sister in law, who flew all the way from Wales to Ontario to care for her and the dogs), who were taking the east-bound run to deliver Ryder to us.
He is doing well, though it’s very obvious that he misses his mum. I miss her, too. We’ll be okay, we are bonding and sharing and supporting one another.
I have lost the dog of my heart. Ryder has lost his heart-human and the only mum he has ever known. Two lost souls are come together, to help one another to heal. I have no doubt that our angels, Lin and Kai, have arranged this journey for us.
Welcome, Ryder, good boy. You are loved.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016.
To say, “I am lost”, does not come even close to the heart-felt pain and grief that I am feeling right now. I thought it only fair, however, to explain the, “indefinitely unavailable” notice now appearing on the website. Right now, in this moment in time, I cannot even imagine that I will ever again be able to open my heart to another animal; I fear that if I try, the animal I am attempting to help will drown in my grief. It would be cruel and unfair, though, to be honest, I don’t really think I would be able to connect at all. At this moment, it feels like that could never change. I know, however, that change happens, things evolve, and it is wrong to ever say “never”. I will leave this, therefore, as, “one day at a time”, and simply ask for your prayers.
I do not ask for advice — in fact, I ask that those with any advice refrain from offering it. If I do find I will need it in the future, I will ask. Until then, anything at all that makes me doubt even one iota of the decision I have had to make will only hurt me greatly. I do not want to be forever tortured with doubts. Send healing thoughts, positive energy, prayers for comfort, and they will be gratefully accepted. Yes, I do know the urge to advise others, offer cures and treatments, and share experiences, comes from a place of kindness. However, at this moment, too much kindness can easily cross the fragile barrier into unintentional cruelty.
Why am I hurting so deeply over the inevitable loss of Kai, which his vets say will happen only weeks from now? I guess to those who love their animal family members, that is mostly obvious. For me, it goes deeper. Many people say that they “would not be here if not for their animals”. For me, however, that is not just a sentimental metaphor, or even a deeply ingrained feeling. It is a literal truth. When I lay hospitalized, in agony, with my body eating the flesh of my leg, being threatened with amputation, for two months in 2008, Kai’s strength saw me through. His daddy would call so I could hear him call me, “MomMom!” (yes, he says it verbally). It motivated me to keep going, keep fighting, and not give in to the urge to reach out and crank the morphine drip to “overdose”. Once home, there was well over a year of horrific pain, and Kai’s strength still saw me through. Often, the only comfort that would reach through the pain was the feel of him, on the bed (even though the doctors said “no”), the warmth of his body sending healing and love through the bandages. I am weak, fragile, I break at the slightest touch today — but I am still here. That is, in a large part, thanks to Kai.
I cannot imagine, no matter how hard I try, being here without him by my side.
I can keep writing words, but this video says much more than I could ever type. It was taken several months into my ordeal.
(For some reason, WordPress would not import the video directly, so the link should open in a new tab if you click it.)
For the full story of this past month, I will paste, below, an edited version of an email I sent to a list comprised of his family members (who have all become my own family members, thanks to him). This was sent last evening, a few hours after we brought Kai home from the veterinary specialists hospital. Today, he is very tired, still a bit weak. I have to wait a while still to offer food, because he had stress-induced (according to the vet) bloody diarrhea at the hospital. I hold out hope that he will eat some lunch for me. Right now, all he wants to do is sleep.
My heart and soul wrap around his breeder, my dear friend, Amy Charles, who is hurting almost as much as I am right now. It was not long ago that she lost Kai’s precious brother Zayn to cancer, so this is a double heartbreak for her.
It all just happened so fast, a massive whirlwind storm that still has me thinking that I’m going to wake up and find it was all a horrible dream.
He’s home now, and finally relaxing, because he managed to get up onto my bed (with Joe and I supporting him). It’s his comfort zone, and he is hanging out with Devon there while I check in.
I guess I’ll type the story out here, for family, and then save it in case others wish to know.
Kai was fabulous on his 13th birthday in July. Young, vibrant, chasing squirrels, playing with toys, every bit of Kai that we all know and love. He continued that way until August 2nd.
That day, he had an … episode. It came out of the blue. He was dizzy, falling over, projectile vomiting, lost his bladder and bowels. I thought I was losing him. Then, in trying to help him up the stairs, as he was desperate to get back into the house, I went to lift his weight, and my spine pretty much exploded. Jess and Chris (her husband) wound up tending to the still very ill and distressed Kai, whom I thought was dying, while the ambulance hauled me away. CT-scan revealed a fractured L3 vertebra; I’m still in a brace. Thank you, prednisone.
Amy and Chris Klein held my hand via text message, with Amy calling the house to support Devon and Jess as they cared for Kai. They managed to get him inside, where he gradually settled down. Over the next several days, he began to recover. His appetite was off for a while, but within a week, he was pretty much back to normal. Our worst fears were easing, and his vet (whom he saw the next morning — of course, this all happened on a Sunday) was fairly sure we were dealing with a vestibular disease attack.
Then, around the 12th or 13th, he started “reverse sneezing”. I know that’s usually nothing, normally an allergic thing, and he has had allergy issues (on and off) over the years. We’d had a heavy rain after a dry spell, and I was also sneezing with my ears plugged up from the mold spores that were sent flying through the air. But, I cleared up, and Kai didn’t. He got worse.
When it became obvious he was actually having trouble breathing through his nose (the reverse sneezing became a “snort and snore” type noise, which comes and goes, but is happening more and more frequently), I opened his mouth to take a look and saw a lump in the center of his soft palate.
I called his vet. She was out of town, so I didn’t get in to see her till Monday. God, that was only yesterday, wasn’t it? It seems like years ago….
She felt the lump, said it felt like a mass, and set us up with specialists about an hour north of here. That was today.
The vet there took a look, and didn’t like what he saw. Went through the possibilities, options, but none of them were really hopeful. We chose to CT-scan and x-ray, excise the mass, biopsy, and decide on Kai’s care depending on what the biopsy found. However, we never got past the CT-scan/x-ray part. The vet called before Joe and I had even gotten back home.
The mass we could see and feel was the tip of an iceberg. He has a huge tumor filling the area above his soft palate, and infiltrating into the nasal cavity. To surgically remove it would mean taking the entire soft palate and having to rebuild it over two or three further surgeries. His quality of life would be miserable while this was going on, and then the most likely results of the biopsy (needle biopsy, which they did take) would be a melanoma — which the CT-scan images strongly indicated. They don’t respond well to radiation or chemo, and prognosis would be “a couple of months”.
The second option was to send him home with steroids, and try to get him more comfortable. We would only have him for a matter of weeks, but it would give us time to say good bye, and he would be content and at home.
The third was to put him down while he was still under anesthesia.
We went with option two.
Kai only has a couple of weeks, and we are determined to make them the best we can for him. He’ll be on prednisone as of Thursday. They want me to wait to start it, because he had some bloody diarrhea while coming out of anesthesia this afternoon — they’re fairly sure it was stress induced. I sure do hope that’s all it is. The CT-scan and x-rays show no brain or lung involvement, and his lymph nodes are not swollen anywhere, so the cancer seems to still be localized to the head.
Once he’s at the point that it’s obvious he’s suffering, his own life-long vet will help us release him.
I am simply crushed. This dog has been my strength for thirteen years, and I have gone through so much that I know I would not have survived without him. I’m not sure I can survive without him.
He’s half of who I am.
I will be losing my boy. The vets hold no hope. After it is all over, I will still be facing enormous credit card debt, I have, in stock, a box of first edition copies of THE CORPSE THAT WASN’T THERE, my first Junior Handler Mystery. I am going to be offering them for sale, autographed, for $10 each plus shipping (which will probably come to around $6 for flat rate, per book, within the U.S.) I am hoping to sell as many copies as possible, and am not shy to ask that you consider purchasing a copy to help me pay down this debt. You may email me if you’re interested, and I will send a PayPal invoice. I will probably posting more information on the website and Facebook about this once I’m able to count copies and do definite research on shipping costs. This seems so unimportant, so insignificant, but I know that it will have to be faced once I feel strong enough to face it.
Update: I am completely overwhelmed with love and gratitude so big my heart is bursting. Two very dear friends, George and Janice, have set up a GoFundMe page to help me pay down the credit card debt incurred by vet bills. The page is located here, if you would like to take a look: http://gofund.me/g837h6fc.
Update #2: In three days time, generous souls donated enough money on the GoFundMe page to cover Kai’s medical bills. The goal has been reached and the fund is no longer accepting donations. Both his surgeon’s bill and his regular vet bills are taken care of. I cannot find the words to thank everyone for their kindness, their love, and their giving spirits. It means more to me and my family than I could ever express. Tears of gratitude flow freely.