Sunday, December 30, 2012

back on the grid for a short time.....

We holed up in a deep valley last night at North Plains, OR. The campground was called Horning Hideaway or something like that. They have a bunch of frisbee golf courses so Getty played them yesterday. Since we had no cell service, I amused myself with the dogs. Short walks but the cold was too cold and the girls wanted back in the trailer. I finally did the winter cleaning, got the last of the Klamath Fall dirt out and the trailer is mostly clean. I have been wanting to do this at home but something always come up and I never finish it.  I have it about 90% done and that will suffice for the time being.  Amazing enough I did find my missing barn boots. Imagine that! As well as a bazillion or so, ties it seems.
Tess's has bone cancer in her right front leg. We discovered it a few weeks ago when she was lame. A visit to the specialist and x-ray confirmed what I had thought. The cancer is eating away the right leg radius and there is a huge chunk gone. It will spread, probably to her lungs next. The tumor on top of the cancer is getting bigger and is quite large. We had a biopsy done.
We had several choices. One was to remove her leg, do chemo and radiation and realize the cancer would return but with a vengeance. The time bought would be a month to three months or so. She also has the congestive heart failure, pulmonary hypertension and kidney disease. We didn't know if her heart would take the stress as when she was getting the x-rays, she was totally stressing out and her heart was giving her issues. If we did go this route, she is already on borrowed time due to the heart issues and she would have to suffer in pain with the loss of her leg, for what? Maybe a month more and get chemo and rad? Not an option. The other option was to have her a great quality of life in the next month or so. We would monitor her daily, give her tramadol for the pain and when she was ready, let her go. Some of the markers wold be loss of  appetite, not using the leg or not wanting to do anything. We can pretty much read/understand Tess so we will be ready when she is ready.
So now, it's all about quality of life for her. It's hard to see the one you love, slowly die. But we are over the initial shock of it and living daily for her. Of course, when the "day is here" we both will be total wrecks. But now, we live each day to the fullest. She still is on her special kidney diet, daily pills and herbs and treats. Short walks and lots of love.
Santa was generous to her at Christmas and she got a ton of tons and bags of treats. Based on the amount of bags of treats, it is at least two months worth.  Each night she gets her treat ball so she has to work for her treat. That is one of the markers we are using, if she doesn't want her treat ball, then it is time. So far, she is the fastest one to empty her treat ball. She also got a new star treat dispenser in which she managed to figure it out and open all the compartments in record time.
Tess has been our child.  We never had children and I asked God for a child so he sent us Tess. He had a sense of humor! She has been our child who showed us a new way of life, the farm, trialing, raising livestock, getting back to earth and relaxing and smelling the roses. She took care of me when I had my heart surgery and when I slipped into a black abyss, felt no pain and was crossing over, she dug her paws and teeth into my arm and pulled me back. She was my nurse and never left my side. When I would wake up in pain, she was standing over me, licking my face until I quit crying, then laid next to me and comforted me. She was my rock during my recovery. The day she took off and didn't come back right away was the day that I knew I was going to make it.
She was the dog that got me to be the handler that I am today. Many times I would over command her or give her the wrong command and she wold pick/chose the commands that were needed and win. Sometimes if i gave an especially bad command, she would stop and look at me as if to say "Dumb ass" and then go on. I would apologize and the other trialers would laugh.
She is my right hand on the farm. She knew what to do and all I had to do was shut my mouth and open/shut the gate. She is the official greeter and puppy raiser. She is always looking for a handout.
So, we know her time is near as her pain is getting worse. She is on one tramadol, about every 5 hours, up from the 1/2 she was getting twice a day, a couple of weeks ago. Her eyes are still bright and her spirit is still good.
We decided to go on a "last harrah" camping trip with Tess. We also took Nan and the other dogs got farmed out. Nan will not listen to anyone else but me, so she got to go also.  We loaded up the trailer, and headed down to Oregon. First night was in North Plains and the second night is in Estacada.  We have been taking short walks with Tess and also playing fetch. She is good for about five minutes then her leg hurts. We carry her when she is in pain or needs up/down anywhere.
She is getting some treats as well. She has figured out that she doesn't need to do her tricks anymore for treats but just sit and look cute.  Right now, she is on the bed, her head hovering over my shoulder as I type. She is the one who inspires me to write the dog stories.
We know her time is limited and making the best out of the short time we have. We love her like nothing else and she has been a huge part of our heart. Life won't be the same when she is gone and life has never been the same since she came into our lives over 14 years ago.
It's hard to write this but they say time will heal all wounds. It's going to be a long time for this hurt to heal. They give so much and expect so little. She has given us everything and the one thing we can give back to her is a peaceful ending.
We love our Tess and she is our heart dog. She is the child we asked for and are truly blessed to have her.
Love your dogs as they are here way too short of a time frame. And they teach us to love and live in that short timeframe.


Janet said...

Diane, I am so sorry that you are facing this intensely painful loss. Every day with our beloved companions is a gift, even if it only becomes so starkly clear near the end. Peace, Janet

BCxFour said...

My heart goes out to you all through this time. Cherish every moment...Dear sweet Tess could not have found better parents.

Hillcrest Border Collies said...


I am so sorry that you have to come to this with Tess. Our heart dogs are the hardest to think about saying goodbye to.
I am thinking of you and Tess and know she loves being with her momma.

Hillcrest Border Collies said...


I am so sorry that you have to come to this with Tess. Our heart dogs are the hardest to think about saying goodbye to.
I am thinking of you and Tess and know she loves being with her momma.

Mary Ann said...

I'm so sorry. I lost my heart a few years ago. Remember she will love you always and remain with you always. Mary Ann

Jim Kling said...

So much sympathy for you, Diane. I hope you take some comfort in the fact that you gave her such a good life.

Luisa said...

Oh, Diane, I'm so sorry to read this news about Tess! The two of you have been so blessed to have each other. You and all your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Give Tess a pat for me --