What better way to celebrate the love we share for our companion friends. Currently in draft. Feel free to offer your submission of extraordinary tales or achievements on our contact page
Drop us a line and tell us about your incredible tale for possible inclusion into the Greatest Canines Publication.
~ February 2022 ~ By now no longer a secret, have decided to germinate those efforts on a larger scale in an effort to contribute. While running for a County Board seat may not have the largest impact, however, running for a house or senate seat, where the laws have the most impact, will have to be seen. Baby steps. Nothing changes without change itself. Yes, Greatest Canines is coming, however, the focus now is getting through the primaries and then, hopefully, General Election. No secret, in a Farm Ag State such as Illinois, has already been met with resistance. The general assumption being that the "fringe" prefer that chickens are allowed to vote and cows be allowed to drive cars. Perhaps a consensus is we start with general empathy and compassion?
~ December 2021 ~ Greatest Canines has become a rabbit hole, much more difficult than anticipated. Many life changes making writing difficult. Non-fiction requiring accountability and accuracy makes fact-checking, interviews, and research all about the writing process. Merry Christmas all.
~ April 2021 ~ Greatest Canines. Still undecided about title. Pepper by my side, fireplace, light snowfall, coffee. Does it get any better? Back to editing and chapter rewrites, omissions, and corrections. Invite sent out to readers and subscribers for possible book inclusion. 2021 Publishing looks promising.
~ December 2020 ~ Book Pause and Time For Healing.
Dog comes home on Christmas Day after Cancer diagnosis and 15% chance of survival.
When a mass was discovered on our Pet Labrador Retriever, Pepper, it was suggested he would not survive overnight and euthanasia would be the most humane gesture. This, two weeks before Christmas day. Refusing euthanasia as an option, Pepper would receive additional medications and come back home by our choice rather than the alternative.
His condition deteriorating by the hour and not expected to survive the night, we showered him with attention and began searching for burial arrangements.
Hanging on until the next morning, we refused in letting Pepper go ultimately taking him in for a second and then third opinion while arguing against euthanasia. The subsequent veterinarian visits led us down a rabbit hole of ultrasounds, multiple blood samples being drawn, x-rays, liver biopsy, and repeated exploratory testing to determine the cause of his illness. After two days of additional testing, it was determined that Pepper's gallbladder may have ruptured. Rushed to the emergency, fluids were then drawn determining that caustic bile had leaked into his abdomen exposing his other vital organs from his perforated gallbladder.
Once again, abstaining from euthanasia, we were given two choices; Immediately perform a costly and invasive emergency abdominal exploratory surgery or monitor Pepper overnight on intravenous fluids. Opting for surgery, I argued, we already knew he was dying and despite any amount of medications or fluids being pumped into him, he would not survive the night.
Unable to be by Pepper's side during the entire ordeal due to COVID, we waited in our car outside of what is considered the Mayo Clinic of Veterinarian Care facilities where Pepper would undergo emergency surgical removal of his gallbladder and flushing of his body cavity of the caustic bile. Upon surgically exposing his abdomen came confirmation that his gallbladder had, in fact, ruptured. Under optimum conditions, dogs on average are given a 50-50 chance of survival during this type of invasive surgery. Due to Pepper's advanced age and prolonged and untreated ruptured gallbladder exposing his other vital organs, his estimated chances of survival were grim. One surgeon suggesting survival at only 15%, while other doctors suspected he would not even survive the surgery, nevermind the crucial 72 hours post-operation.
His prognosis bleak, we waited for the bad news while praying for the best. Hours would pass with no news being good news until two hours after surgery we were notified that he had survived one of the most advanced cases of abdominal septic infections the hospital had seen and that the next 72 hours would be critical for his survival.
Post-surgery, Pepper would lay on life support in intensive care with four tubes, both intravenously and catheters running from his body in all directions. Due to COVID, and prohibited from visiting, we would Face-Time with Pepper while in ICU over the phone monitoring his progress. Watching his lifeless body via video over the phone was heart wrenching. His blood test would reveal an abnormally high white blood cell count, liver enzyme levels that were fifty times higher than normal, and body temperature that continued to plummet. Over the next few hours survival seemed unlikely.
Back at home, depleted, we prayed and lit candles. The very next morning, the anticipated call would instead offer us a slight chance of hope informing us that Pepper had become the miracle dog of the ICU. Slowly, his blood sample readings began to stabilize and liver enzymes leveled. More time would pass as they fed him intravenously and pumped him with medications. Day two after surgery and extremely weak, Pepper would take his first brief walk and progressively beat the odds to the disbelief of hospital staff.
Day three, Christmas Day, 72 hours after the invasive surgery, it was announced Pepper could be released and come home for what would be our best Christmas together. He had survived those most crucial hours despite the odds and what his surgeon, after performing countless similar operations, suggested was the most severe case of septic invading infection from a ruptured gallbladder he had ever witnessed. In truth, Pepper was not supposed to be alive.
Patiently, we waited in our car until the hospital double doors opened until Pepper slowly walked out making his appearance. His smile slight, and his walk wavering, however, his unmistakable antenna tail would wag profusely upon our greeting. Unable to contain our excitement, we lifted him inside the car into the same bed that he had arrived only days earlier and were handed a multitude of medications, instructions and documents. With that, to hell with COVID and social distancing, I hugged the nurse and thanked her and the remarkable staff for saving Pepper's life on Christmas Day.
As suggested by many; why even waste your time or staggering amounts of money on a mere dog already in his advanced senior years? On the very first visit, I sat there in the parking lot on a cold frigid December evening, humbly, surrounded by dozens of cars filled with various walks of people, their dogs, and cats; each waiting their turn. Insistently on their phones, many crying, we all held pilgrimage for promising news. Once again, I was reminded of how our pets have become embedded in our lives, their happiness, well being, and unconditional love they give in return.
Pepper is home now, going on 96 hours post-surgery. He takes 10 different medications every few hours, while each hour and day, his prognosis for survival remains promising. Unable to climb the stairs, I refuse leaving him alone each night, instead, camping out on the couch next to his bed. "A miracle" as described by his nurses and doctors.
No cancer was ever found despite that first x-ray prognosis and flippant suggested euthanasia. It doesn't matter, even with a 15% chance of survival, it offered me hope. Yes, yes, yes, to the skeptics, I understand because of his age, he may only survive a little while longer. However, the alternative would have been a lifetime of self-scrutiny and obsessiveness over the life I would have willingly chosen in taking with the minimalist of effort on a whim. Did I merely buy time for what is already an older dog on borrowed time? Contrary, I would like to think I will find peace in knowing I did all I could to save another being, which happened to be a dog and most importantly, my best friend. Be damned 2020 and COVID, but what a wonderful Christmas present for certain.
I can only hope that one day as we do now, looking back in wonder the absurdity of woman's suffrage and the atrocity of slavery. With certainty conviction, we will recognize the disparity and unethical treatment of animals and the commodity we have created of them despite their right to life.
~ November 2020 ~ Time for reflection and celebration. Pepper turned 12 today. I recall holding him in the palm of my hands only a few short years ago on our first hike. The snow soo deep and snowflakes as large as coins swirling around us. Soo cold that I had to place him inside my coat with his head sticking out. I will never forget.
~ August 2020 ~ Greatest Canines in History. Title change? Slowly taking shape while at the same time overwhelmed with the history of our close friends and their achievements. From the Romans who held them close much the same as we do currently, to their indigenious migration from the Grey Wolf taking some 18,000 years by estimation. From those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, to those who have made us laugh and cry on the big screen. Dogs have become an everyday part of our lives as much as brushing our teeth, wathing TV, and breathing.
~ July 2020 ~ Chapter compilation, drastic editing changes. What took countless sandglass measurments of time to inscribe is merely discarded with an impression of one keyboard stroke. COVID frustrations, one would think would provide opportune time to immerse oneself in writing. Perhaps deadline and urgency offer the best repose? Ironic. Carry on.
~ June 2020 ~ In all fairness, only from a human account are we allowed to fully admire in awe and grasp those tales of canines having achieved inexplicable measures of achievement. From those accounts, it would set course from the origin our relationship of the bond we share to this day. However, one is left to wonder of all the wondrous miracles never recorded between man and his best friend since the inception of their unlikely connection more so than any other species. Before television and the eye of the camera and after genetic divergence, some 30,000 years ago during the last glacial period when ice sheets were at their greatest covering most of North America and many parts of the world. And shortly after, during speciation when divergent evolution would separate dog from wolf as we have come to learn and the first known case of domestication.
~ January 2020 ~ Does it ever get any easier? Writing that is. In today's world of instant messaging, phones, emails and holding a full time job, writing as a passion can easily become secondary to all the distractions. Finding any quiet time means waking at 3am before each day unfolds, avoiding the distractions and "time grabbers." Days morph into weeks while only a couple of pages may have been written. And terrible one's at that. Dare go back and revisit those musings what suddenly has become incoherent ramblings only to be rewritten. Time and again.
Much easier to relate a story from memory such as it were with Never Left Behind than having to check and recheck research via records, sources, phone calls, and interviews. Grief, doubt, hesitation and procrastination plague any writing attempts. Pen becomes dolent and pages remain stark white.
Finding your story, your pause as it were, takes time. Slowly a sentence bleeds into paragraph form and finally, paragraph into page, and page to chapter. And then another. Never perfect, yet perhaps acceptable. Is that not everything we undertake in life? Never a master yet always an apprentice.
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