FAPQ: Frequently Asked Pet Questions

We're coming up on the year anniversary of The Worst Week Ever, when we lost both Ceiba and Max in hideous, rapid-fire succession. So it's been interesting that over the past couple weeks I've fielded an unusually high number of emails with questions about the new pets. Specifically, how/when/why-type questions about our decision(s) to adopt them, from readers who are either dealing with a recent loss (or double whammy like ours, I'm so sorry Jen, 21017 can suck it), or are considering adopting themselves and want some honest real-talk about the process. And while answering these emails, I've probably written like, enough words to fill four blog posts about it. So...let's re-purpose some shit! FAPQ #1: How did you know you were ready to adopt a new dog? I dunno. I kind of didn't? The boys brought up the possibility of a new dog almost immediately after we broke the news about Ceiba's cancer to them. Jason was like, "That's a good idea." I was like, "Slow your damn rolls, you monsters, she's not even dead yet." And then I spent the next few days mourning deeply for that dog, the one that wasn't even dead yet. The appointment to... Read more →

Memories & Memoriums

I found this in the back of the refrigerator today. Okay, that's kind of a fib. I've known it's been there for awhile. Probably since the day after Max died. I just...couldn't deal with it, so it slowly got pushed further and further back. Out of sight, out of mind. After he was gone, I hastily dumped out the litter and scrubbed the evidence of his final decline out of the carpets in our bedroom. I boxed up his unopened food for the shelter and added Puppy and a tuft of his fur to the memory box we'd prepared for Ceiba. But this stupid, half-empty can of food? Hey man, it's a process. Don't rush me. Yesterday I created two separate GoFundMe campaigns to raise a little money for the two animal rescues we adopted from -- Tara's House and Kitties & Pitties. A couple Facebook friends had suggested something like that after Ceiba died, or asked where I'd like donations be made in her name. I remember thinking that was a good idea, but much like the can of cat food, couldn't really deal with actually doing anything about it at the time. The Maximillian Thunderdome Memorial Fund The... Read more →

"And How Are the Boys Doing?"

I've been asked that question a lot lately. Overall, I think the boys are coping with the double-whammy loss pretty well, albeit each in their own way, at their own pace. Noah -- who remembers the loss of his grandfather the most vividly -- is probably doing the "best," although that's really not the right word. He's the most pragmatic and accepting, it's pretty matter-of-fact to him now. As I already wrote when we broke the news about Ceiba, he very literally experienced every distinct stage of grief right there at the dinner table, one right after the other. After that, he was "okay," more or less. He understood why we had to put her down and would patiently explain it to his brothers ("she's sick and going to die anyway, it's our job as her people to make sure it's not painful"). He sought Ceiba out for extra love and attention during her last days, but was also very focused on the exciting possibility of a new dog. His rapid-fire approach to grief certainly came in handy with Max, as we had less than zero time to adequately prepare the boys for what was happening. They'd known he'd been... Read more →

Ashes & Ashes

I had a dream last night that Max showed up back at the house. The healthy, heavier Max of days gone by, just back wandering around like oh hey what did I miss? Part of my brain attempted to argue with the dream logic (or lack thereof), flashing back to memories of his actual passing and removal from the house, arguing with a random sea of strangers who also just happened to be there (because okay) that no, he died, he definitely absolutely died...yet eventually another part of my brain overruled my objections and decided that no, this is real! Let's accept it! It was all a big mistake! Let's be happy! Max is back Max is back Max is baaaaack! And then I woke up, and remembered that the vet called yesterday to tell me that Maximillian's ashes had been delivered. I picked Ceiba's up last week after Beau's first vet visit. Which: Okay, that's a lot to take in and unpack right there. I held it together pretty well until I got home and proceeded to full-on ugly cry over the tiny little box with the velvet bag inside and the labeled plastic bag inside of that and... Read more →

Good Times, Bad Times

We put Max down just a few hours after I published Friday's post. It was a horrible, scrambling-type decision, but Max was no longer declining by the day. He was fading by the hour. The at-home vet squeezed us into her already fully-booked day and said she'd be there as soon as possible. Jason spent a quiet hour one-on-one with Max saying goodbye (Max was always extra-ultra-special to him), then loaded the kids and Beau up in the car and drove them to a playground. Unlike our final pleasant days with Ceiba, the boys had almost zero notice or time to process this loss. They knew Max was sick and probably wouldn't be around much longer, but it was awful to tell them that "not much longer" was basically boiling down to "15 minutes, please give him a kiss and then put on your shoes." I was the only one holding him when he passed. I sobbed into his head, handed his tiny shell over to the vet, and then sat alone in the house until all my boys came home, completely numb with shock and grief. Ceiba at least had a "HEY STOP THAT" reaction to the initial sedative... Read more →

Bat Dog 2.0 (and some no good very bad news)

So this is Beau. He is a three-year-old super-mutt, technically declared a mix of Miniature Schnauzer and Yorkshire Terrier, but definitely has some wire-haired Dachshund in him as well. Possibly some Jack Russell or other assorted terrier breeds. Also, Ewok. We don't know that much about his background. He was surrendered to a rural-ish shelter by an owner who could no longer care for him, but volunteered that he came from a home with multiple kids, cats and dogs and got along well with all of them. No evidence of abuse, but he was underweight, lacking vet records, and was shaky on both house and leash training. A local rescue group took him in a few weeks ago and he's absolutely flourished in foster care. Healthy, well-socialized, and cute as all hell. He knows a pretty good number of commands (sit, stay, come, drop it, get down, no, etc.) so he had some training, once upon a time. The rescue's best guess is that he had owners with the best of intentions who simply got overwhelmed with too many animals. (Beau wasn't their only surrender.) Beau is his original name...his foster mom tried calling him something different but he wouldn't... Read more →

Diagnosis: Waffles

Introducing Ceiba, the bat-eared medical mystery dog! (WHO IS 2 TIRED 4 UR MEME-Y CAPTION BULLSHIT RIGHT NAO.) Just got off the phone with the vet, and thanks to the urinalysis and bloodwork, we have a nice long list of things Ceiba most definitely does NOT have: 1) A UTI 2) Bladder or kidney stones 3) Kidney disease 4) Liver failure 5) Diabetes (the normal kind) Which leaves us with the remaining three possibilities: 1) Diabetes Insipidus 2) Cushing's Disease 3) Asshole dog syndrome We're going to test for the diabetes first (which is also known as "water diabetes" but so far I prefer option three, DIABEEEEEETUS INSIDIOUS), which requires me to collect a urine sample from her three mornings in a row. This is...okay. I'm not 100% sure how to go about that. Yesterday she just peed on the floor like a good little asshole and I sucked some up with an old medicine dropper, but this morning she just went ahead and peed on her bed inside her crate. (Like a dog who is NOT being as asshole, but obviously struggling, thus my insistence that we keep testing for things. I've spent over 11 years with this dog... Read more →

Pet Updates & Things That Are Not Poop

I am happy to report that this guy: Is doing really pretty darn well. He LOVES his new (gross, smelly, blobby-looking) food. We've already gone through an entire pallet of it. No weight gain yet, but no more loss, and I don't know. He's moving better. Bit more energy and sass. And he looks fluffier. Is fluffiness a medical indicator of improvement? If so, then SO FLUFFY. Fluid injections, not so much. Still working on that. Poop and constipation issues are still not 100% improved either, in spite of loading his (vile, putrid, rotting-fish-scented) food with pumpkin and Miralax. I thought we'd had a...ahem...significant breakthrough the other day... But no. Add "GEODE OR POOP?" to the long list of questions I never expected to ponder in my life. Unfortunately, before I sat down to write this I was back at the vet with Ceiba, and am now waiting on HER blood work. I guess the pets are just so jazzed to finally have a plotline here on the blog that they're inventing ways to keep it going. Since a COLLAPSING TRACHEA apparently isn't exciting enough, Ceiba is either having some metabolic issues of her own or just being a very,... Read more →

Tales of Cats, Dogs & Candy Monsters

Okay! Back to our regularly scheduled programming, where curse words are allowed and no discounts are offered. So Max. It's his kidneys. Not exactly a shock, but the...good? semi-good? not-horrifically-bad?...news is that his numbers currently point to only "moderate" kidney failure, meaning not any sort of imminent death sentence, and it's worth trying some diet and low-level interventions. We picked up some prescription low-protein food at the vet (and donated nearly all of the cans and kibble we had on hand to the vet's pet shelter charity pile), and will be injecting him with fluids about three times a week. I was worried he'd reject the special food and we'd end up mixing it with something else, thus reducing the effects, but the minute I opened a can and smelled how totally freaking gross it is, I knew it wouldn't be a problem. Anything that smells like rotten fish and dog farts is Max's jam, and he's already devoured several full cans of it. He even let me mix in some fresh pumpkin for further de-constipating efforts, which he's never, ever done before. THAT'S how pungently disgusting this food is. He's only had one fluid injection, and I know it's... Read more →

Pet Sounds, Part 2

And now, after spending close to $500 at the vet yesterday, some breaking news: My pets? THEY OLD. Okay, I don't have the results of Max's bloodwork yet, so I don't yet know SPECIFICALLY what old-man-cat affliction he's suffering from, not that any of the choices are all that hot. Maybe thyroid, maybe kidneys, and maybe, as the vet seemed to be leaning towards after his exam: OLD CAT IS OLD. ALSO HELLA CONSTIPATED. So, okay then. Once the results are in (tomorrow a.m.), we'll map out some kind of plan to make him as comfortable as possible. Hyperthroidism would be the most medically manageable (provided I can figure out a way to get him to swallow a pill without too much sturm und drang), kidney disease would be mostly palliative, and either way I'm hoping the vet has some better ideas to tackle the constipation because we have already tried ALL THE THINGS and this cat continues to shit out tiny little rocks all over the house, preferably on the dark brown carpet of the master bedroom, for maximum camouflage and Amy-stepping-on-poop occurrences. (Hmm. I feel kind of bad writing about poor old Max's poop on the Internet. Despite... Read more →