Send me away with the words of a love song

At the end of 2016 everyone was complaining about what a crap year it was.  Well, I’d take 2016 back in a heartbeat right now.

Two days ago I had to put Rita to sleep.  It was one of the five worst days of my life.  The day I lost my father.  The day I lost Xica.  The day I lost Beauregard and the day I lost Rita.

My life is not the same.  She was a huge personality that permeated everything that happened at the Farm.

Nine years and one week.  That’s how long Rita was in my life.  Slightly more if you count back to when I originally met her.  She was on my first rescue transport.  I picked up two dogs in Los Gatos and drove them to Vallejo.  Everybody told me I was going to fall in love with the big goofy red boy Hoss.  Didn’t happen.  The other dog was this dark red bitch.  She got into the front seat and pressed the top of her head into my chest and didn’t move for the entire trip.  I scratched under her chin and she did a little two step thing that she did her entire life, including for the neurologists at Davis.  On Thursday, the last day of her life, they brought her in and she pressed her head against my chest and I scratcher her chin.

I dropped Rita off back in December 2007 at the appointed location and handed her over to the woman who is now my friend to drive to Red Bluff, but Rita never left my mind.  Several weeks later when the flyer came out about her I called up the rescue and said “Don’t send out those flyers, I want that dog.”

January 2008 was a stormy January, just like this one.  I had to wait for the storm to clear to go get her.

Originally, I did not crate her.  And she tore up my shit.  Once.  Then she moved to a crate.  I remember the first thing she did was beat the crap out of Beauregard.  Here is my favorite picture of them together.

I always felt like that dog was the adult around here and the rest of us just got to live here.  She spanked every boy I ever brought through here.  And beat Little Sister bloody.

Little Sister did not understand who the big bitch of the household was.

Rita ran and ran and ran.  If the sun was out, she was in the yard patrolling for varmits.  All of the time.  The sun went down and Rita would come inside and assume her position on the dog couch and go to sleep.  Occasionally she would check on me but for the most part, she just kept an eye on me from a distance.  As she got older she would come to my chair at night and want to be pet, for hours.  She just wanted me.  She’d come up to me in the kitchen in the morning and lay her head along my leg and want her ears scratched.  She’d always jump up when I moved around in the morning and follow me where ever I went.  Her cold wet nose greeting me at my bedside for years.  She killed more varmits than any other dog I have ever owned including the execution of the rat that found it’s way all the way back to my office closet.  She was Rita the Assassin.

Years ago I asked God for my decisions regarding end of life with my dogs to always be clear.  The decision with Rita was crystal clear.  She was miserable and in incredible pain.  The only reason I would have taken her home from Davis was to make myself feel better.  There was no benefit to Rita.  I let her go at Davis and donated her body to research.

This is the last photo I took of Rita before I let her go.  This picture tells me I did the right thing.

She went out with the throttle full on just like she lived every day with me.  She was my little hot rod, my pretty little girl, my cholla bitch and my heart.  She had become a little stiff moving and back in September I took her to an acupuncturist.  That helped her some.  Her knees were blown years ago and we chose not to operate so the obvious diagnosis was arthritis.  The last week in December she was hunched over as if she might be bloated.  I rushed her in only to find that she was not bloated, but in some pain.  We put her on Rimadyl.  On January 4 I took her back to Encina Veterinary clinic.  I moved the dogs the Encina after Beauregard died.  My hope was that if I needed someone to look at a sick dog I could get them in because I was a client.  As it turned out that didn’t work.  Rita was urinarily and fecally incontinent.  They thought Rita had a urinary infection and gave her antibiotics.  She continued to deteriorate.

On Monday January 9th I called Encina three times trying to get to talk to the vet.  I tried to get an appointment for her and the first time they could get her in was Friday.  The vet finally said she thought I needed neuro.  I called to make an appointment with the neurologist and the first available was January 26th.  I told them I was pretty certain that without intervention my dog would not live that long.  The squeezed her into the schedule on January 19th.  On Tuesday morning she was worse.  I called the Canine Rehabilitation Center and they got her in within 90 minutes.  That vet did a more thorough examination than any of the other vets had done to date.  She said there was something neurologically wrong and I needed to get her in ASAP.  I opted for UC Davis.  She told me how to “back door” their system.  I called to get an appointment first and the first appointment they had was in February.  They said “Have your vet call and if we believe it’s an emergency we can take her on an emergency basis”.  CRC called and set it up within an hour.  UC Davis called back and said “Can you come now?”  It was Tuesday night and it was pouring rain with no let up in sight.  But my Dad wasn’t around any more to tell me how stupid it was to drive to Davis in that rainstorm so I said “Yes” and away we went.

It was my mother’s birthday so I stopped and bought her a birthday cake, dropped it off, said happy birthday to took off.  I had to buy new windshield wipers and a tank of gas in the deluge, but I did and we took off.  She had three board certified neurosurgeons examining her and a student.  I signed off on $7000 surgery bill to save that dog.  They did a complete neuro work up and determined that yes, there was a problem around her L5-S1 sacrum area.  They would hospitalize her and do more tests in the morning.

The morning brought a full spinal XRay which revealed a 6-8 centimeter mass on her spleen and something “bothersome” at the L5 juncture.  Did I want to do an MRI or an ultrasound with a needle biopsy.  I opted wisely for the latter.  As it turns out, I saved myself around $1500 by being right the first time.  No MRI was needed.  The needle biopsy determined she had osteosarcoma and the outlook was bleak.  They said she was in pain from the days testing and they would like to keep her over night and manage her pain intravenously.  I agreed.  She had not been eating for me and as it turns out a tech spent 30 minutes trying to get her to eat 1/2 can of dog food.  The next step was clear.

The thing about UC Davis is that it’s a teaching and research hospital.  I asked Travis the young student if letting her go was the correct thing to do.  He said “It would not be wrong”.  I asked him if there would be a benefit to donating her body to science.  He said there was a program and yes.  He brought in Rita and it was clear that she was done.  She buried her head in my lap and I just stroked her head.  He brought in a blanket for her to lay on.  I helped her down but she yelped in pain.  They let me spend about 30 minutes with her.  I don’t recall every crying this much over a dog.  Even Beauregard was not as painful as this.  She was with me longer than Beau.  And with Xica I was expecting it because of her age.  Rita just never really slowed down until that last week in December.  I laid on the floor with her.  Holding her, telling her what a great dog she had been and how much I loved her.  I told her to look for Beauregard when they gave her the pink juice.  And she died in my arms.

My life will never be the same because that dog came into my life.  I am broken right now.  It will get better in time, but it’s going to take some time.

But here I am in prison

I feel like a drunken Irish folk song is in order.

I certainly got punched in the gut today. Quite honestly, this one is as bad as Beauregard.


Norman and his legendary lick granulomas.  Everyone that met him had a solution for his lick granulomas.  Put this on it, do that, isn’t there something you can do?  Dr. Johnson said I would never solve them and I didn’t.  He died with two bloody hocks.  Bloody from his own incessant licking.

I had recently done some reading up on them.  I thought if I got a deal ahead I would take him to UC Davis to have the laser treatment, the only thing known to work, but that day never came.

Norman had been a little slow to get up for the last couple of weeks and had been giving me some crap about getting off the couch at night, going outside, getting in his crate.  Dinner was the only thing he got up for without giving me any crap.

I took him into the vet today.  He got to the scale and collapsed.  I was sure he was working it for his SAG card putting on the performance of his life, but in truth he held on as long as he could, and collapsed at the vet’s office.


The tumor was larger than his heart.  If you met Norman, you know that his heart was enormous.  That dog had the heart of a lion, but it was also a heart of gold.  And the tumor was bigger.  It pressed against his lung nearly collapsing the lung.  It pushed through his ribs making them look like an accident victim’s X-ray.  And his rib bones were compromised.  And like Beauregard, and Miss Cleo and Ike and Xica, there was nothing for me to do.  I asked how long he had and she said that she could load him up with pain meds and I could take him home for the night.  I wouldn’t do that to him.  I let him go.

Big man, you weren’t supposed to stay here.  You hated my brother until he found a package of turkey franks.  Then you sold you soul to him.  I loved you for that.  You took it upon yourself to protect me from all comers.  You were a good dog.  You always came to check on me.  And you were a bit of prankster.  You spilled coffee all over me yesterday.  I was pissed at you at the time.  Now I wish you would spill this beer on me.

Godspeed my handsome man, I am going to miss you.

I’ll think of you each step of my way

For weeks I have been battling nature with Miss Cleo.  Three weeks ago I took her in for the second time expecting to put her down.  She hadn’t eaten in three days and was shutting down.  The vet looked at her and said “I’ll do it if you want me to, but I don’t think she’s ready to go”.  OK.  So $326 later we had some Flagyl some anti-diarrhea medication and a few days, maybe a few weeks.  We got the weeks.  Last week she started not finishing her meals again.  I started adding fresh hamburger and she ate everything.  Then she wouldn’t eat the raw burger.  So I went and bought her liver wet food and duck wet food.  And she at that.  Once.  And then she wouldn’t eat the liver wet dog food.  And then I tried to spoon feed her and she wouldn’t take it.  She got weaker and weaker, but during the day she would go outside and drink water and whiz where she was supposed to.  At night she couldn’t make the night without whizzing in the house.  She was incontinent and I couldn’t let her in the back of the house.


Yesterday when I got up her head was slung over the side of her bed.  She had wet herself again and a big puddle of drool was under her face.  I fed the other dogs, and tried to get her to get up.  She stood.  And collapsed.  I grabbed the truck keys, locked up the other dogs, scooped her up and carried her to the truck.  At 5:30am they had to bring her into the vet hospital on a stretcher.  There was no pushback from the vet.  This vet had seen Miss Cleo the first time I considered letting her go.  That was months ago now.  “You are opting euthanasia at this point?”.  Yes.

I truly believe she was hanging on because my house was the best part of her life and she didn’t want to give up her good thing.  I wish I had known her when she was young and full of life, she was an amazing dog.

I told her to look for Ike, that she had been a great dog and I loved her.  Godspeed pretty girl.

Sweet lovely death, I am waiting for your breath

Right now, in my life, the shittiest thing I have to do is “make the call”.  So far I feel comfortable with the idea that I have consistently gotten it right.  Rayette was in kidney failure and deep distress.  I will never forget saying to the vet “I know what’s in it for you and I know what’s in it for me.  You haven’t explained to me what’s in it for the cat.”  He couldn’t and I went back to my normal vet the next day and let her go.  Broderick went flat on me, he was easy.  I was helping him out of his pain.  He was so far gone that they had to actually shoot the stuff into his heart, his veins had already collapsed.  I didn’t have to make the call on Xica, she took herself out of the game.  I don’t know if I could have done that one, so I always consider that her last gift to me.

Beauregard was brutal, but I told him on Sunday, just wait until I get home on Tuesday and then you can go.  He woke me up 3am Wednesday morning, it was time.  Toby’s feet had swollen up, she was shutting down from her cancer.  It was the right thing to do.  Cody collapsed and I had to carry him into the vet’s office to let him go.  Ike was a little tougher, but I had already made the decision to let him go for his deteriorating temperament issues.  I figured they were a byproduct of the pain from his Wobblers.  So he picked a fight with Norman and lost magnificently.  I think he would have let Norman kill him if I hadn’t intervened.

Miss Cleo.  This one is harder.  She has been deteriorating for about a week.  Today her breathing was labored and distressed.  It wasn’t getting better as the morning wore on.  I took her in, fully expecting to leave with a leash and a collar.  Which I did, the difference was the dog was still attached.  I don’t know if I got this one right so far, but I didn’t think it was her time yet.  I’m not going to spend a bunch of money doing tests on a 14 year old dog, but I went with a run of antibiotics.  If it’s pneumonia and I can fix it for the cost of antibiotics and give her a little more time, what’s the harm?  If it’s something worse, a tumor, DCM (no indication on that one), lung cancer…the antibiotics won’t make a difference and we’ll be right back to where we are today.  And I will have given this old dog a fair shot.  Again.

Your body won’t be injured but in your mind you’ll get scared

For the record, I have several rants brewing, so that’s going to be the theme for a while.

Bubba is a head case.  We all know that.  He’s my head case.  I love that dog but sometimes he can work your last nerve.  Like jumping on Norman and starting the brawl to end it all when Norman was down with an abscessed anal gland.  Really Bubba?  Extraordinarily dickish.

So I spent $275 taking him to an animal behaviorist.  In this particular case I would have been better off with a witch doctor.  The idiot I went to, first words out of her mouth were about his prong collar.  I knew the conversation and the appointment were doomed.  The next person that pops off at me about my prong collars is going to get punched in the face.  And then while they are laying on the ground, I’m putting my prong collar on them and proving to them that they are an ignorant pile of parrot droppings.  A prong collar properly used does not hurt the dog unless a situation arises where a stern correction is needed.  When might a stern correction be needed?  When my dog is fixin’ to swallow your Yorkie.  Do you want me to say “Now Bubba, it’s not nice to swallow the Yorkie?” or do you want me to jerk him out of his dog suit and save your Yorkie the trauma of being swallowed by a 75lb Doberman?  They are dogs, we cannot predict what they are going to do.  We do our best to train them and hope for the best.  Every now and then, NATURE get the best of them.  So all of you Jean Donaldson wannabe asshats, kindly STFU.

He’s Bubba.  He is not the bastion of good decision making.  He’s Bubba.  There’s a reason he got that name.  Does he mind?  Yeah about 90% of the time.  Do you want to take that chance on the street?  I don’t.  So kindly shut your pie holes all of you so very concerned think you know everything there is to know about dogs types.  You don’t know me and you don’t know Bubba.

Mental wounds still screaming, driving me insane

There is something very wrong with Norman.  I don’t know if the year long lick granuloma finally caught up with his system or it’s something else, but there is something wrong with that dog.

Yesterday he insisted on being under my desk all day, which is den like.  He can’t move properly either.  He’s whimpering when he moves certain ways and can’t really lay down without yelping.  He’s not a happy boy.   And I’m a little worried about him.

Last night in keeping with his desire to be in a den-like atmosphere, he went on the far side of the bed where there is a dog bed but not a lot of room.  I helped him get down there.  He cried on the way down but then was fine.  I had just gone to sleep when I heard him whimper and then it was on!  Bubba jumped him and it was a cage match in my bedroom.

Imagine waking out of a dead sleep to that.  This morning I have a bone crushing headache which I am sure is combination of stress and the fact that I had them both by the collars, one in each hand trying to pull them apart.  It seemed to last forever but it was probably only two or three minutes.  I pulled a belt out of the closet and beat them in the heads until they let go enough to shove Bubba into the master bath.

I got tagged on the right hand.  Normally that wouldn’t happen, I know to keep my hands out of there but I direct you to the part where I was asleep.  Somebody got my thumb and my wrist, neither too badly.  Norman has a through and through on his muzzle.  Bubba had him down on his back and was just going insane.  I can’t believe that’s Norman’s only serious cut but it is.  Bubba on the other hand looks like Jake LaMotta on a bad night.  He got his ass kicked.  By a dog he had down on his back.

Thankfully no one’s ear got filleted.  No one’s throat was punctured and no one lost an eye.  I felt them get my hand and dropped them both immediately so a band-aid and some neosporin will solve my injury.

Life will never be the same here.  The boys will never get to spend time together again.  Baby gates will be the rule again.  Norman has the ability to kill Bubba.  Thankfully he didn’t last night.

Both boys are OCD, that’s part of the problem.  I had an appointment for Norman to see a specialist next week in hopes of getting some Prozac or something similar to take the edge off of whatever it is that makes him lick his leg incessantly   As yesterday progressed it became apparent that there is something more wrong with that dog.  He’s definitely in distress this morning and I really don’t think it has as much to do with his muzzle as it does with whatever it was that weakened him yesterday and lead Bubba to sense that a brawl to end it all was a great idea at 10:30 last night.

Bubba was next to see the behavioralist.  I’ve been watching him slide down the abyss with his OCD.  There have been times that I’ve looked at him and just said “Bubba, move away from the crazy.”  I can see in his eyes when whatever it is that makes him suck his flank and run circles in the yard is torturing his little dog brain.  It has become time to address the crazy in Bubba.  It became a priority last night.

I stepped outside myself and felt so cold

Bon mots and cheap shots this morning.

And there is consequence to action.  Sometimes the asshole that starts the whole thing rolling doesn’t have to feel the pain, but here’s one that should have.  Yeah, we’re still working on the family pets shot by police theme.  It’s probably time for a category for that.

I’ve got a client who I have been trying to get into a home for six months.  Last night she said “What if we just move into one of the foreclosures and tell them we aren’t leaving so just sell us the house”.  Now that’s thinking outside of the box.

And don’t forget my ride.  I’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.


Eat the salted peanuts out the can

I have just plain been busy.  I need to work more jackassery back into my life.  Lucky for y’all there are plenty of things to piss me off.

What pisses me off the most?  Besides the teabaggers it would be cops shooting innocent dogs.  I’ve ranted on this one before, but it happened again.  This time in Austin, where it has actually happened several times before.  This one is particularly egregious.  Austin Police respond to a domestic violence call…and go to the wrong goddamn house.  Within 20 seconds of the officer arriving at the wrong house Cisco is dead.

The cop was looking for an hispanic male who had been fighting with a woman.  Mike Paxton is a redheaded white guy.  Officer Griffith’s commands to Mike are “Get your hands up” “Get your dog”.  That exchange took less than four seconds.  Mike was playing frisbee with his dog in the back yard.  He went around to his truck for some reason and Officer Griffith was there.  Griffith pulled his gun, ordered Mike to put his hands in the air.  Cisco followed Mike and ran up to the officer.  Mike was confused because he didn’t understand why the cop was there, why the cop had his gun pulled and with a gun pointed at him he didn’t move to get his dog.  That portion of the event happened in under 4 seconds.  It’s right here on the cops dashcam.  Cisco was a blue healer, not the most aggressive breed on the planet.  He died almost instantaneously.

I wonder why the cop pulled his gun in the first place.  Mike was unarmed.  He didn’t even have the frisbee in his hand.  This story is getting worldwide coverage.  My hope is that Cisco’s death can finally shine God’s flashlight down on the scourge of cops shooting innocent dogs.  God knows I’ve been beating this drum for years.  It hit home for me when Jax was shot and killed.  The officer in that case fired eight rounds at a dog that was recovering from back surgery and could only walk with an uncoordinated gait.

Another pet shot in Texas, this one a trained agility dog, because shoot first ask questions later seems to be how they do things down there.  Not to be outdone, the idiots in Camden New Jersey fired 33 rounds killing a pit bull puppy.    Apparently 32 just doesn’t do it for a pit bull.  Asshats.  Complete asshats.

And we gonna make you lose your mind

I’m sorry.

I lost control of everything.  That is all.

So here’s an update and some bon mots and cheap shots.  Ready.  Set.  Go.

Last we heard, my all time favorite rescue Prescott had a massive heart attack and dropped dead in his home.  Well it never ends there.

Back in the middle of March I was supposed to drive down to the Harris Ranch and meet a transport that had a Doberman from Bakersfield.  My job was to take this dog to Cottage Kennel here in Concord where another driver would come down, pick him up and take him up to the rescue in Red Bluff.   Yeah, that didn’t happen.

I got to Harris Ranch and the driver says “I know this isn’t a Doberman, what should we do?”  I’m looking at a ridiculously emaciated German Shorthaired Pointer.  Not everyone would recognize these dogs but Parker is a GSP and I saw Parker in this dog.  The other drive said “They were going to put him down today, I just took him.  I can’t keep him.  I will take him back and put him down if you want me to.”  The people who pay to board at Cottage are Doberman people, not GSP people.  I would be picking up the the tab myself.  And then he would just get three hots and a cot at the rescue which is packed with dogs, not a ton of love and sent to the bridge.

I’m looking at this severely emaciated creature.  At the very least I could give him a couple of decent meals before I sent him to the bridge.  So, yeah, I took him home.

He’d been a stray, but at the end of the day, he’s one of God’s creatures.  So I took the little tick infested piece of shit home.  Meet Sport.

Hey thanks for the ride lady!

He turned out to be a very nice little dog.  I talked to some friends and it so happened that a friend from Oregon who does medical fostering was in St. Helena last week.  She came by, checked him out and decided she could help him.  So no, I don’t have five dogs.  Sport is up in Oregon now.   By the time he left the ticks were gone, he was on antibiotics for a urinary infection and his dry crusty nose was wet and supple again.

Now I’m sure you’re all missing my rants on the GOP clown car.  But to me it was getting a little old.  The Brother got it right when he said you can’t tell the difference between the real headlines and the Onion any more.

Eric Fehrnstrom, which sounds a lot like fire storm probably walked out of that interview thinking “Did I say that out loud?”  Yeah, you did.  ROMNEY IS A FLIP FLOPPER!! SEEE!!!! EVEN HIS OWN GUY SAYS SO!

OK, you assholes.  If people didn’t evolve in their thinking, we would still have slavery.  Women would not vote.  Santorum himself has changed his positions with the wind.  So STFU.  It’s not flip flopping, it’s adapting to public sentiment which is how you get elected.  Santorum has done it.  Gingrich has done it.  Paul has done it.  They all do it.  And sit there and tell me that your thinking has never evolved on a single subject.  I thought not.

We need someone tough in the White House.  Someone who has the balls to take out the head of Al Quaida.  What?  Obama already did that?  OK, well we need someone who has the business sense to turn this economy around.  What?  Obama already did that?  OK, we need someone who will bring home our troops from Afghanistan!  What?  Obama already did that?  What the hell?

And now that I know what Jelly Belly is all about, Sport Beans are off my training rides.  That’s fine.  Clif makes products that work and an old high school friend married the owner.  I feel better about Shotbloks these days.

Speaking of riding, my AIDS/Lifecycle is coming up again.  I am woefully behind in fund raising.  And training.  I’ve finally started doing hill work on Mt. Diablo again.  And I did 3 Bears yesterday.  If you can throw a few ducats my way, that would really help.





God hears “amen” wherever we are

Every now and then, things get so sideways that you have no idea how you got here.

My phone rang last night but the ringer was off as I’d been in a networking event and it’s bad form to have your ringer on.  I missed a call I really hate that I missed.

Last night Prescott’s owner called.  I got the message this morning.  I thought “why is she calling at 10:30 at night…”  I listened to the message.  It went like this…”I’m so sorry to call you like this.  It’s Prescott.  He died.  He just died.  He was playing and then he died.”  I knew I missed my chance.  All I could have done is help her get his body to the vet last night, and maybe that would help me understand what happened.  But I didn’t get the chance.  He was gone as quickly as he came.  And with him, a piece of my heart.  His owner told me she would never be the same.  Neither will I.

That’s one of the last pictures I took of Prescott.  His mom had me and some other folks over for latkes and Christmas cookies.  Because that’s how we roll.

Prescott’s job was to be the calming influence for a horribly abused dog that his mom had adopted the previous year.  Her old male Charley had succumbed to cancer and she didn’t know who was going to be the guiding light for the horribly abused little girl dog.  Then Oakland called me about Prescott.

He was majestic.  I’ve never had a dog here that I didn’t want to neuter until Prescott got here.  I seriously considered getting him health tested, finishing him, re-test him and find him the perfect bitch.  No one caught the DCM.  It’s a hard one to catch.  There isn’t anything definitive unless it’s raging at the time of the test.  Or if the dog shows signs of illness.

Prescott was the only rescue that I let sleep in the bedroom.  The night I had him neutered he cried and cried and cried.  I assumed he was crying “My balls!  My balls!”.  I locked everyone else up in their crates and let Prescott sleep in the bedroom.  He slept like a baby.

He wasn’t here that long but just long enough to steal my heart.  That dog was a thief.

The lady who adopted him was older, she lived in Rossmoor and I always assumed that at some point she would have health issues and Prescott would come back to me.  He was a wonderful dog and I knew that I would make room for him because he was such a slice of awesome.

That day never came.  It evaporated last night.  She is understandably devastated and my heart is crushed.

Prescott, you burned bright.  I know you knew love.  You’re gone, and with you went a piece of my heart.  Godspeed little man.