Dear Opossum From Last Night,
It’s been 23 hours since my family and I witnessed your demise. It’s been 23 hours since I’ve been able to look at my best friend, even though he’s in the same room as me. For that amount of time, I’ve hated my dog for what he did to you. Suddenly, I don’t hate him anymore. Instead, I pity you. You see, I finally took the time to notice some things. Those things really don’t work in your favor.
Last night, you met my best friend Bowser. I know that the whole “opossum” thing is to play dead and sometimes, that is what you should do and it can work to your benefit. However, last night, what you should have done was fall over and… laugh. You should have reached out your cute little hand and pointed your finger at Bowser and just laughed hysterically. I know you heard him coming. He’s so fat that the deck shakes when he walks on it. He’s detached the stairs nearly completely off the deck simply by bounding his fat ass up and down them for all these years. The act alone of just heaving his lard butt off of the couch and walking to the door is enough to cause him to have labored breathing and wheezing that could rival that of any asthmatic or Biggest Loser competitor. His 15-year-old body creaks and cracks and sometimes, it sounds like his toothpick legs will snap. How did you not hear him?
He’s the slowest creature ever. Sometimes, I want to strap him to the back of a turtle so he can get back to the house before it’s been long enough that I need to wax my upper lip. Standing at the door and calling him is a nightmare. It takes 10 minutes for him to make it from the tree to the stairs and to be honest, that’s about three feet. in that amount of time you could have called a taxi, went to the bar and had enough to drink that you would have ended up making some poor decisions. Instead of doing that, you what? Oh, yes. You waited around long enough for lard ass to make it from the deck to wherever it was that he found you. How did you not have enough time to get away?
Just how did he find you? The dog can’t see worth a damn. If he could, surely he would be able to catch one of the 15 pieces of steak that we throw at him. He just watches and waits for them to hit him in the eye and then fall to the floor. Once they are there, the doofus can’t find them. He’ll be standing on top of a piece and looking at us like we teased him. You blend in with the night! You dummy! Were you standing out there with flares, directing him like air traffic control?
Once he got to you, what happened? I still can’t figure out that part. I mean, I know that you ended up in his mouth, but how? He has the reflexes of an old lady with a walker. Hell the old lady may be faster. Did you introduce yourself and shake hands? The only thing I can figure is that you had to have been suicidal. Sure, it’s completely plausible that you pulled a piece of lattice from the deck and you took your own furry life with it. Bowser just carried you in the house in an attempt to save you. I’m going with that. It makes more sense than to believe that my elderly, obese, slow, cancer-ridden dog killed you with his one snaggle-tooth. I’ve seen meth addicts with more teeth than this dog. Not possible for him to kill you. He’s never killed anything but a cheeseburger.
You ruined my night, you damn opossum. I had just cleared three boys from the bathroom and I finally was going to end my week long bout with constipation. Just as I thought my day was improving, I heard my kids screaming in fear. I assumed a mass murderer had broken in and he had gutted Larry in front of them. Before I could get off the toilet and grab the baseball bat I keep behind the door, Paris burst into the bathroom screaming, “Bowser has a possum, Bowser has a possum!”. I barely had time to cover my pooter before he saw me. Thanks for traumatizing my already dramatic middle child.
I walked out of the bathroom in stealth mode, fearful that this invader was alive and pissed off. I was ready to push the kids down and run if I had to. Survival of the fittest, or in my case, the smartest. As I crept around the corner and used Paris as a shield, I found you there in my dog’s mouth as he lay on his dog bed in the living room. He looked like he does every time he plays with a toy. He just held you in his mouth as blood dripped all over everywhere. If I weren’t still constipated, I would have likely shit myself.
Larry was a super hero and he got Bowser to finally put you down long enough that he could use the dust pan to put you gently in the trash bag. Of course, I wasn’t in there. I had already ran from the room in hysterics, crying like a 13-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert.
I haven’t been able to forget what happened. Last night, I dreamed that you crawled up the stairs and snuck into my room and stabbed me and Larry while we slept. All day, I’ve been mad at Bowser and I’ve mourned your death.
While ago, I got to thinking. It changed everything. Now, I want to thank you. You see, I’ve been asking myself just how long Bowser will be able to fight the cancer and old age. I found a new mass on him last week and I’ve been too scared to make an appointment at the vet. You showed me that my old dog still has some fight left in him. While I’m sad that your life ended, I am forever thankful that you showed The Bowz what it was like to feel young again. You also gave me hope.
Forever your crappy friend,
Working in animal rescue, every day of my life I hear a billion reasons why someone wants to re-home their animal and I have at least 2 people A DAY that ask me to help them find a home for their pet. It got me to thinking… how would my own dog stack up with these homeless mutts? And so, here are the top reasons I’ve heard for re-homing a pet and what I have went through with my very own pooch of 13 years.
1. I had a new baby.
You had a new baby? Let’s hope it’s more forgiving, patient and understanding than you are! Okay, that was mean. Let me rephrase that. I’m glad you had a child. Do you know how much joy a pet can bring to your kids life? Did you know that children who are raised in homes with pets actually have less allergies? Sadly, once someone contacts me I really can’t talk them out of finding their pet a new place to live. If you had any idea how many pets are homeless for this one reason, maybe you would think things over.
When Bowser came into my life, I had a toddler. While Bowz was great with him, I did wonder how things would be when I brought a new little person into the house. It wasn’t different because I had a Pit Bull, it was just different because I was bringing an attention-sucking monster in to our home. It had just been Bowser and Levi for 8 years and I did worry, don’t get me wrong. By being cautious and extremely careful once little Paris came home from the hospital, I felt better about the situation. By making myself more knowledgeable and by not setting Bowser up to fail, I gave him time to adjust. I remember the very first moment when everything relaxed completely. Paris was a few months old and he was sitting in the middle of the living room floor in his ExerSaucer, bouncing around and playing with his little plastic keys. I saw Paris jump and knock his keys off on the floor and he started to cry. Before I could even react, Bowser was there, leaning down to pick up the keys. He put them in his mouth, looked over at Paris and then gently laid them on the top of the ExerSaucer and walked away. It was in those few seconds that I learned that my kids had an angel on Earth who walked on four legs and who smelled horrible after a rain storm.
2. My dog goes to the bathroom in the house.
Uh huh, and so do you, right?
While Bowser hasn’t ever been one to have accidents in the house, on the few times that he has, they’ve been doozies. One day, Bowser got into the trash and dug out a ziplock baggie full of pulled Pork. Since no one was home to let him out, Bowser went into the kitchen by the patio door and he proceeded to make a huge, runny pile of doodie right there. Smelly diarrhea is bad enough but how about you add the BIG factor here… the dog just happened to poo directly into the vent, which was cranked up on heat. Add a few hours and I’m sure you can imagine what my house smelled like when I got home. Not only did I have to deal with the smell but I also had to reach my arm down into the vent and pull everything out of it. Have you ever washed crap out of a vent?
3. My dog won’t stay in the backyard, he always runs away.
Dogs are smart and if they know they have a moron for an owner, they will continue to run away.
His mom was a moron. That damn dog ran away for the first 12 years of his life. The last time he ran away was on the night of my birthday party two years ago. No matter what I did, Bowser would get out and roam the neighborhood. Fences, tie-outs, supervision, none of it really mattered. Harry Houdini was reincarnated in the form of a mangy brown dog named Bowser. The worst Bowser runaway happened after I had Bristol in 2005. We were living in Oklahoma and because Bristol was in intensive care, I refused to leave his side. I had friends taking care of Bowser but while I was gone, Bowser decided to run away. My mom found him incarcerated at the city pound where the caretaker’s were scared to death of him. I guess it was that whole “Pit Bull” thing. Maybe even more ridiculous was the fact that I was as worried about my stupid four-legged kid as I was about my little human child.
4. I have to move.
Are you moving to Alaska or just down the street?
Since I’ve had Bowser, I’ve lived in 5 different places in 2 different states. Bowser has lived in both Oklahoma and Missouri. During all of these times, I’ve never once thought about leaving him behind. The reason? No matter where I go, it would never be “home” without my Buckaroonie. With him, my family and my life are complete. Of course it would have been easy to find him a home but then, where would I have been without him?
5. I’m getting a divorce.
Really? Good for you!! Spouses are the devil!
Bowser and I went through a divorce and thankfully, I got custody. It’s a good thing because had I lost this dog, it would have definitely been my demise! I’d be writing this blog from my prison cell while doing time for killing my ex. Sure, divorces suck and your finances take a big hit. But, why would any girl in her right mind part ways with the one male who always has time to cuddle, who always leaves the toilet seat down and who willingly listens to her bitch and moan and never complains? Sure, his farts can clear a room but at least he can’t say, “Oh, the dog did it.” or “Pull my finger.”.
6. My dog tears up the furniture.
Good, consider him your interior decorator because your couch was sooo last season anyway.
I cannot count the number of throw pillows that this dog has destroyed in his lifetime. Within a month of buying our new couch a few years ago, Bowser ripped a 6-inch gash in the seat cushion. Because I’m too lazy and cheap to fix it, I throw a torn (thanks, Bowser) couch pillow over the hole. His greatest achievements in mischievousness? He once jumped through a closed window and survived. Yes, completely through it. That was a fun thing to come home to. But, the one moment that always come to mind is the time that my friend Chad babysat Bowser while Larry and I were out-of-town for a race. Before we left, I told Chad to make sure that he didn’t leave Bowser alone because he had really bad separation anxiety and he was a wee bit nuts. I told my friend about Bowser’s psychotic days (to be described later). When Larry and I got home the next morning, we went to our bedroom to go to bed but the door wouldn’t open. Once we finally got the door open, we found that in our absence, Bowser ate the door frame, chewed a large hole in the carpet, he ate our blanket and sheets, he ripped open our down-filled pillows so feathers floated around the room, he chewed a hole through our mattress and the little bastard even climbed in our closet and ripped clothes off of the hangers. Yup, so your dog leaves hair on the couch… I’ll trade ya! My friend’s face was priceless when I got to say, “I told you so!”.
7. My dog is aggressive towards other dogs.
Aggressive? Like how?
While Bowser initially had other dogs around and in his life, as he aged he became an “only child”. Sadly, “only child” syndrome actually turned to “the dog is freakin’ nuts” syndrome. As Bowser ages, he gets more and more nasty. He will actually go out of his way to piss on the neighbor’s dogs when they walk up to the fence. One day, he gave the neighbor’s white Pomeranian a golden shower while she watched in disgust. After that, I didn’t really have to worry about the neighbor’s kid playing with my kids. Lol. Bowser had his worst moment of real aggression when we were at Larry’s parents shop. We didn’t know that Max (Larry’s English Mastiff brother) was there. Bowser saw him and attacked. To this day, Larry still points out the scar that he has from breaking up that dog fight. I’m sure you can imagine what a fight would be like between a scroungy Pittie and a 200-pound (or close to it) Mastiff. That dog-fight still has Max and Bowser all riled up when they smell the other one on our clothes. And hey, it’s only been like 4 years!
8. My dog acts weird.
As weird as you?
There is no limit to the weirdness of this dog. For those of you who don’t know, I found Bowser at a truck stop after I had recently lost a baby. Because of that profound loss, Bowser became my baby. I carried him around, he went everywhere I went, we shared suckers and ice cream cones and he lived “the life”. Unfortunately, I also made him batshit crazy. He had horrendous separation anxiety (I mean, he did jump through a CLOSED window) and he ate weird things. One Christmas, he ate all the glass balls off of the bottom of the Christmas tree. I woke up one morning and they were gone. After a trip to the vet, I knew for sure that my dog was smuggling them in his belly. Surprisingly, he lived through that, unscathed. After a few incidents of “batshit crazy”, I went to the vet and I asked him for help. That old Oklahoman said, “That dog is beyond help. You’d be doing him a great favor by putting him to sleep.”. I asked him what I could do besides that and he wrote me a prescription for Prozac. For 3 years of his life, Bowser popped Prozac like they were tic-tacs.
9. My dog throws up everywhere.
Stop forcing him to watch Project Runway!
You have no idea what puke “everywhere” is until you’ve lived with my dog. If you’ve made it through the blog to this question, you already know that my dog does a lot of things that he shouldn’t. He ate glass Christmas ornaments!! But, he also ate everything else that wasn’t nailed down. After another trip to the vet, Bowser was put on a medication that the astronauts use in space for nausea. I don’t remember the name of it now because it was like 10 years ago but I do remember that it wasn’t cheap, at all. When your dog barfs enough that he’s on spaceman meds, come whine to me then.
10. My dog gets into the trash.
What dog doesn’t?
Some dogs like bones, meat, carrots and treats. My dog likes paper plates, McDonald’s wrappers and tampons. As Bowser has aged, this phenomenon has become out of control. What once rarely ever happened, is now an everyday occurrence. If I don’t go all “white trash” and put my trash can on the kitchen counter before I leave for work, the dog will have the can over before I can pull out of the driveway. If I don’t remember to shut the bathroom door, I get to come home to my teenage son’s look of complete disgust over the sight of a mostly eaten tampon laying in the living room floor. (try explaining that one to your 8-year-old son) My dog is the “john” and our trash is the cheap whore that taunts, tempts and teases him. He doesn’t want to be bad but give him the right opportunity to screw up and he will. Just like a male.
11. My dog is sick and I can’t afford the medical bills.
There’s something called “resources“, check them out! For more info, check out the tab Animal Rescue/Pet Related Info at the top of my blog.
Vet bills suck, no question. But don’t we owe it to our pals to help them? I can think of a ton of times in Bowser’s life where vet expenses got to be too much. In his lifetime thus far, he’s had prolonged prescriptions for Prozac and nausea medication, he nearly died from pneumonia after a boarding stay while I was on vacation, he had a testicle burst and he had emergency surgery for testicular cancer, his bladder filled with stones so bad once that they had to go in and actually take his bladder out and scrape it and now, Bowser has cancer and some other “unknown” medical condition. Since March, I’ve spent a few thousand dollars on vet exams, x-rays, prescriptions and over-the-counter meds. Since March! It’s a huge burden and financially it’s excruciating but I owe this dog a debt that could never be repaid. The least I can do is try to save his life, like he’s saved mine. The important thing for you to know is that there are resources out there to help you in your pets time of need. If you’re in the Kansas City area, check out the Animal Rescue tab at the top of my blog.
12. I got a new dog and my old dog doesn’t get along with it.
Yes, this is actually a common excuse.
Don’t get a new dog. I learned this myself a few years ago when I was fostering a Pit bull puppy. Bowser is an only child and he doesn’t want to share his toys or couch with a “dog”. So, I won’t make him! He was here first.
13. My dog won’t stay out of the litter box.
All dogs eat cat poop.
I can sum this one up really quickly. If you think that your dog’s appetite for kitty bi-product is horrendous, imagine being me. One day, I saw Bowser getting into the cat litter box. When I got onto him, he tried to yank his head out of the box but the lid caught on the top of his head. When Bowser lifted up, the top came off the box and it fell to the floor. Never one to disappoint, Bowser didn’t end the embarrassment for himself there. He then looked up at me with a grin and that’s when I noticed the piece of cat poop lodged in the gap where he was missing a bottom tooth. When your dog smiles at you with turd dentures, you can talk to me about the terror of poop eating dogs.
13 reasons, I had 13 reasons to re-home Bowser and you know what? None of them are legitimate enough for me. Over the course of 13 years together, I can easily think of 13 things that I hear all the time that definitely pertain to my dog. Yet, still I go home every night and open my door to find a couch covered in dog hair, torn couch cushions on the floor, clumps of toy stuffing all over the place and once a month, a stray tampon here and there. If it weren’t for those little things, my life would be so boring. Yes, dogs can be a huge pain in the ass but the thought of life without them is just too painful to bear.
It’s been exactly one month since my best pal was diagnosed with oral melanoma. So, what’s happened since then? We’ve had our ups and downs but since I haven’t updated in a while, I thought I would let you know what’s been happening.
Bowser finished up his dose of meds and he’s been completely off of them for a few weeks. For the most part, my old dog is back to normal except for when it comes to eating and keeping it down normally. Unfortunately, we are still stuck in a “piece by piece” food delivery but thankfully, I’m chock full of hillbilly ingenuity. Instead of feeding Bowser one piece of dog food at a time, I’ve found that the “bird method” actually works. At my wit’s end one day, I tossed a handful of dog food on the floor (imagine you’re feeding birds). Bowser went around to each piece and he kept it down… and that has been how he’s eaten ever since. In the morning and evening I will throw him small handfuls of food. Yes, it’s messy and incredibly annoying, but it works.
We still have our “bad days” but thankfully, those are not happening as much now. Most of the time, Bowz is bounding through the house and he’s happy. It’s funny but it seems like all of this turned around after “Bowser Day”. Maybe it was my way of handling his sickness but who knows, all I care about is that things are better. I’m still filled with fear every day when I go home and I still worry non-stop but I guess it’s a different kind of worry. I don’t feel like he’s going to fall over dead at any given moment.
Our lives have changed since April 1st when we got the diagnoses. My relationship with Bowser has definitely changed drastically. Since I’ve been babying him so much, he now doesn’t want to go outside without me. When I let him out the door, he will turn around and look over his shoulder to see if I’m behind him. When he hears the refrigerator door open, he runs to it because he thinks that he’s going to get a piece of turkey (because that’s how I gave him his meds). When a cabinet door opens, he thinks I’m getting out pills which equals turkey. And the hilarious thing is that when he hears a pill bottle now, he goes running wherever it is. My dog has become a druggie. But hey, whatever works. Bowser sleeps in bed with us many nights, which he didn’t get to do before. I guess you could say that all of this has brought Bowser and I even closer than we were before. It’s pretty nice.
Last week, I arrived home to find Bowser didn’t want to get up to greet me. I was worried until I walked around the corner and saw the mess that was waiting for me. Bowser had gotten into the empty trash can and eaten the trash bag and he also got into my bag of pet food samples and helped himself to 3 bags of dog and cat food. Yup, we’re starving him. I mean, he’s getting an entire cup more than he used to but we’re still depriving him of food so much that he has to break into closed packages. So my new chore is to get a baby-lock so the damn dog can’t get into the cabinet. Next thing I know he’s going to be opening the fridge.
We’re still hanging in there and holding on for dear life. Regardless of what tomorrow brings, it can never EVER take away what we have today.
Estimate: An approximate calculation or judgment of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something.
I beg to differ on that definition. Instead, I think it should read:
Estimate: I’m going to tell you this much lower number so that after you are convinced and committed, I can then rape you with the real cost.
Okay, so I’m being a bit ridiculous but had I known how much yesterday’s Barium study would cost me, I would have said “no”. My reasoning? When I talked to Bowser’s vet on Friday, he estimated $150-$200 for x-rays to check for a blockage. I wanted to try the x-rays because the alternative would be for Bowser to be back under anesthesia for another surgical procedure (the scope and biopsy of the esophagus). Given his age, that he just had surgery a few weeks ago and his current weak condition, the vet and I didn’t think that the scope was the best idea. So, $150-$200 sounded like a reasonable quote and something that I could do to try to figure out what was happening with my best bud. When I showed up at the vets to pay the bill, I about shit my pants when they told me the bill was nearly $400. WTF? It doubled? I did talk to the vet prior to paying the bill and he told me that when we talked on the phone, he forgot about the charge to mix up and administer the Barium, that he did an additional x-ray and that Bowser’s meds added more charges. Damn. Had I known it would have been that much, I would have really re-thought the scope. At least then we would have gotten more definitive information. Needless to say, I got in trouble when Larry got home because he thought that I got taken advantage of.
So, now on to the results… the x-rays showed no obvious obstructions in Bowser’s esophagus. While that is good news, it’s also frustrating because we still don’t know why Bowz can’t eat without regurgitating. The vet took 4 films; two before administering the Barium, one immediately after the Barium and one a short time later. Barium is a chalky substance that is used as a contrast medium in x-rays. Not only does it allow hollow structures to be imaged but it also can detect any blockages that may be present. The Barium did hang up a little in one spot of the esophagus but not enough that it concerned the vet. On viewing the last film, you can see all the Barium made it to Bowser’s stomach.
Now what? Well, we are no closure to really knowing what’s happening with Bowser. While we don’t see obvious obstructions on the x-ray, we have to keep in mind that cancer rarely will show on one. We are now trying to treat him as if he has a bacterial infection in his stomach. Bowser will continue taking the Prednisone and he’s had 3 other medications added. I swear the dog is taking as many medications as I do! Bowz is now down to 1 dose of Prednisone a day. Added to that is Cerenia (a nausea medication) once a day, Amoxicillin twice a day and Metronidazole twice a day.
Bowser is holding steady, even though on Saturday, I thought he would die. After Bowz ate on Saturday, he started to regurgitate so I let him outside. He went into the yard and started getting sick and just about the time I got to him, he walked off and then kind of collapsed on the ground. I ran to him and fell down beside him and began to stroke his fur as I bawled like an infant. As the sun set behind us, we laid there in the grass for nearly 30 minutes before we could both pull ourselves together enough to go back in. I spent much of that night crying but I promised Bowser that I would do better the next day.
On Sunday, I kept my promise and Larry and I dedicated the day to Bowser. While I knew that I wasn’t promised tomorrow with my best friend, I knew that I had that day and I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste it. On Sunday we did all of Bowser’s favorite things and the day was about him and him alone. Bowser went “bye-bye” in the car, he laid in the grass in town, he ate ice cream at Baskin Robbins, he got to wee-wee on a fire hydrant, work on a race car, pretend to drive a semi and most of all, he got to be Bowser. Sunday there were no tears shed, no regrets felt and no love lost. We lived in the moment for all 86,400 seconds of the day and no matter what happens, that can never be taken from us.
It’s not much of a life you’re living
It’s not just something you take, it’s given
Round and around and around and around we go
Ohhh now tell me now tell me now tell me now you know
Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can’t live without you
It takes me all the way
I want you to stay
-Lyrics from “Stay” by Rihanna
When I compare my life to a song by a battered and abused pop star, I know I’m in trouble. For the past few weeks, any time this song has come on the radio, it’s struck a nerve, a painful and excruciating nerve. I’ve always been addicted to music and while a beat is catchy, it’s the words that always get to me. This particular song hasn’t come on without leaving me with tears. A sad love song that I dedicate to my damn dog. Pathetic? Possibly.
What I thought was a sign that things were getting better has again turned into that throbbing emotion called sadness. Our “good days” were short-lived, only two if I want to be exact. It’s amazing how 48 hours of positivity can disappear so quickly and so completely, almost like it never existed at all. Was I imagining it all along?
Bowser is back to regurgitating whatever he eats and he’s tired, so very tired. His eyes say he’s miserable yet his heart still remains full of love and the need to console me, his best friend. His eyes bore into my soul and it feels like my heart is being ripped out. I can’t breathe and I can’t see through the stupid tears. It’s just a damn dog.
While the signs of Bowser’s failing health may be insignificant to some, they radiate to my very core. Walking in the door and seeing his toy box is still full and that he hasn’t touched any of them since I picked them up last night, hell… I may as well walk in and find him dead on the floor. No matter how sick he’s ever been, he’s still had to have his toys out and by his side. Even when he doesn’t feel up to playing, he’ll still lay his head on his furry little animals. To see them sitting neatly in his toy box, slobber free, it knocks the wind out of me. Even the cat knows something is up. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen her walk over to Bowser and lick the end of his nose. Then she stands and looks at him a moment before she walks away. I wonder if the cat will mourn when the damn dog is gone?
I talked to the vet tonight and he’s really concerned and he wants me to bring Bowser in and drop him off for a day of x-rays. His words, “I don’t know that there is much else that I can do.” replay over and over in my head. I asked him to explain this, to make me understand how we can go from a seemingly normal life to this, all within a few weeks. He told me that he doesn’t know and that it’s “definitely interesting”. I asked him again about the scope of Bowser’s esophagus and if he thought that it was a good idea given Bowser’s age, current condition and the fact that he had surgery a few weeks ago. The vet said, “It’s not good but I don’t know that we can do anything else.” The signs still point to the probability that the cancer has spread to his esophagus, which will eventually, close up completely. There’s a slim chance that these latest symptoms are unrelated to the cancer but then what?
So again I plea with the forces that be… please let him stay. I just want him to stay with me… I’m not ready to say “good-bye” to the damn dog, my best damn friend.