Saturday, June 29, 2013

A quick update.  Miller has a mass that seems to be growing in his thyroid area.  We are pretty sure it is cancer.  Bloodwork came back that all of his organs were functioning and x-rays showed no lesions or indication that it has spread to other areas.  Lymph nodes on palpation all seem normal.  So we are super puzzled.  Such a fast growing mass like this should surely be cancer yet all signs point to something else.  He has been running a fever as high as 104.  We have gotten it down to 102.5 today using antibiotics.  His appetite has gotten worse so we are using steriods to combat the lack of appetite and the inflammation.  It is a shot in the dark.  We are probably still going to arrive at the same answer in the end.  He seems to not be in pain but dang this dog is stoic.  He is very tolerant of me shoving pills down his throat.  Still drinking and peeing, just not much poop but that is to be expected with the lack of eating.  I will not prolong any suffering but it seems he isn't suffering or else he is hiding it very well.  He was super perky this morning and spent quite a while on the deck sunning.  I hate not knowing what to do.  We are taking a very conservative approach, keep him comfortable and see what we can do to fight the infection. I don't want any more invasive procedures.  We did a needle biopsy a few days ago and that showed us nothing so why keep trying.  I am sure it wasn't fun for him at all even though he let them do anything they wanted.  He really has been a trooper through all of this.  His back end seems to be getting weaker but I hope that is just a product of not eating.  I am hoping tonight we can find something he likes.  So far we haven't found anything consistent.  One night he ate some animal crackers.  One night he ate some vienna sausages and last night he licked some baby food.  Going to do what is right but I don't think it is time yet.  Harley has been laying with him alot.  Harley was miller's puppy so they are pretty tight, plus they are the old men of the house.  TO be continued.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Old man miller

I sit here, dreading writing this but knowing i need to.  Something is wrong with Miller.  He turned 14 this year and about two days ago, stopped eating.  We have been trying various foods and some he will eat but most he won't.  Dog food is out.  Baby food is a sometimes and we have gotten him to eat a piece of cheese pizza, some spaghetti, some vienna sausauges and the juice and some cheese slices.  That is it.  So I am trying to choke down all of these thoughts.  He had a clean check up this spring when he went in so this has snuck up on us.  We left for vacation two saturdays ago and left him as his favorite place in the whole world, alice's farm for a little over a week.  This is where we have done agility for years and he seemed happy when we dropped him off and left and when we came back to pick him up.  He would not have liked all the travel and hubub of going to TN for over a week.  I am very glad we boarded him, even if it was an outside run. He got tons of walks, a pool, lots of fresh water and food.  I know he was very well taken care of.  This just happened.  He has been slowing down for a while but it has been gradual.  Here recently he hasn't been able to jump in the van and the last few days, he won't even attempt the stairs to the bedroom upstairs.  It's weird, I was just talking to someone about how well he had aged and how I was super surprised at how well he was doing for a 14 year old.  Now this.  I have been randomly crying all day.  Wished I could have gotten him in to the vet sooner but got him in as soon as I could.  He doesn't seem to be in any pain.  His hind end seems to be betraying him but he is still going out to the yard and doing his business without assistance.  I have already decided no extreme measures, just comfort and care till the end.  I am hoping this isn't the end but I fear that it might be.  To be continued.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

13 this year

Here is a typical shot of miller and what he does mostly these days.  He took retirement a lot better than I thought he would.  He is of course taken over for miss berry in the grumpy department/fun police although I catch him playing with stella some.  He loves to sun out in the yard and will hang out while i train.  He even tried to do some 22 inch jumps the other day when I was working deuce and of course cleared them with little effort.  I am sure if I was made of money I could continue to show him in preferred or veterans and he would love it but right now my focus is on deuce.  I try to take miller with me anytime I am just heading out around town or if the weather is good for him to hang out in the car while we do errands in manhattan.  Will usually stop and get him a big bone to chew on while we shop.  He does seem a bit stiff sometimes but other than that, no other old dog symptoms other than sleeping a lot.  I still can't believe he will be 13 this year.  OF course this is a guess because he was a rescue so he could be older.  I know of all the dogs, he will love the baby the most so I am excited for him to have his own little boy.  I wish he wasn't so old because he would be the perfect dog for a kid to learn agility with.  He is so honest:)  His hearing is getting pretty bad or at least his selectiveness is getting pretty bad.  I pretty much can't trust him off lead anymore and when we were staying at a friend's house while our house was being remodeled, he took a little hike on his own at like 5 in the morning when I trustingly let him out for his morning pee. Naughty red dog!  We still love his big mouth and hope that this birthday this year will bring many, many more.

We did have one incident that kind of scared me this week.  I feel that there is a shift in power going on in the house.  For years, berry was the top dog and then miller kind of silently slid in there with her.  Even when she got older and the other dogs still humored her, Miller stood by her side and enforced the rules.  When berry left us, he continued in his silent top dog way.  He wasn't in your face the way berry was, he was more just a look or a curl of the lip from across the room and the other dogs got it.  Now he is becoming a little more bossy, a little more fun police in your face.  The other day I had the dogs out in the yard playing fetch the football and he was doing his usual lay in the middle of the yard, chew on a bone routine.  He isn't a fetcher or a player so he normally just watches.  Well, I try to keep the dogs away from him because they become so focused on the game that they will literally run over him and I let them get a little too close.  He jumped up and grabbed at Harley. Usually harley will just ignore him but harley was not happy and went back at him.  It was a quick fight, a lot of talk and no action but it scared the hell out of me.  Harley is usually so submissive as he is clearly at the bottom of our pack but this time he lashed out.   I saw hair flying so i yelled loudly (it did freak me out) and they cut it out.  No injuries but it still scared me pretty bad because for once, Harley had the upper hand.  He was clearly in control of the fight and wasn't taking any shit off of miller.  This has happened another time in the house and it just scares me to see the power shift, even though it is inevitable.  i really didn't think harley would take over but he is the next oldest being 9 this year.  I figure when stella gets a little older, she will be the queen bee.  I hate seeing my pups get older but I guess this is part of doggy ownership.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

cone head

I am wondering if miller's old dog bump has been bothering him more than I really knew. Since it has been removed, he has been acting a little differently, almost more pep in his step. Unfortunately, we have pretty much had to keep the cone on for almost a week and a half as every time you take it off, he goes to mad licking the leg. The bottom part of the incision, where the staples actually stayed in, has healed all up, but the top part where the staples came out or should I say he pulled them out, is still a little bit open and red. Last night was probably the first night that he left it alone when the cone was off so i let him sleep without it and I also left it off today while I am at work. I hope this wasn't a bad decision. Tony removed the remaining staples this weekend while I was gone to the show and did an excellent job. He has now removed stitches and staples from our dogs quite successfully. Miller is shedding yet again and he is dropping hair like you wouldn't believe. This is the third time this year he has full out shed. Berry did that too as she got older so must be an older dog thing. Need to take both him and Deuce to Dr. G for adjustments. Money has been a little tight with hubby not working but now he is back at work for at least a year so I can start going back to splurging on the dogs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the old dog bump

Miller had an old dog bump, has had it for at least a year if not more. Thursday before the trial, he started licking and chewing on it. By friday it had become irritated and bigger but didn't seem to affect his gait or jumping. Called my vet on saturday as he couldn't seem to leave it alone. I just wanted it taken off as it was still relatively small. Now mind you, I had the original bump looked at when it popped up, but my vet said it was nothing, to leave it alone until it grew. This was of course based on an aspirate of the bump. I took his advice and left it alone. Tony dropped miller off yesterday to have it removed and miller had issues coming out of ansthesia, something that I always worry about, esepcially with old dogs, so he had to stay overnight. This is the very reason why when berry got sick that we never did x-rays because I didn't want to have to even think about the possibility of surgery. Anyway, my vet sent the bump off to be biopsied and I just don't even want to know what it is. I really wished he had asked me before he sent it. I just don't want to know. I do not want to put miller through any treatments that might possibly make him feel worse or prolong his life if the quality of life isn't there. I feel like such a bitch by saying this but I just want him to live his life out happy and not in pain, not drugged up feeling the side affects of the drugs. He has had a great 10 years with me and I will not put him through treatments that will make him feel worse or not himself. Keeping my finger's crossed that it is nothing and that we can just go on our merry way of agility dog retirement. This is for sure the part of dog ownership that I hate the most.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The perfect dog walk

I entered this weekend with alot of emotion. I knew this probably would be miller's last runs and I wanted them to be good and for him to have fun. I still had a small hope that we could get that last P3 gamblers Q and also finish up his P3 standard title. I have long since given up on super Qs because the lack of P22 in our area, and was glad I did because there were 2 of us there all weekend. Anyway, I had entered him in two classes a day and figured he would have a good time since it was on turf. Of course a day before we were scheduled to leave, he started licking his leg and a little old dog bump as i call it began to get irritated and bigger. I was worried, but it didn't seem to affect his running or jumping. I tried to keep him from licking because it seemed more just irritated than anything. He is an obssesive licker of legs anyway and always has been. I think he gets that from me, I am an obssesive finger nail chewer so he has to have the same flaw since he is my kid LOL! We thought for a while that he might have food allergies but the chinese med vet said it was just his element that made him do obssesive things like that. Surprisingly, he has never had any hot spots or lick granulomas with his obssesion.

We had gamblers and standard on saturday and gamblers was first. Miller has NEVER been a distance dog so I didn't have big hopes we would get it and it was a tough, tough gamble. The part about the run that bothered me wasn't that we didn't get the gamble, but he wasn't running like his normal self. He was ducking behind me, refusing jumps and just being overall weird. I was super worried and almost pulled him, but we stretched him out and massaged him and couldn't find anything wrong. I decided to go ahead and run him in standard and if that run was not good, I would pull him from the rest of the weekend. Of course, he ran like normal in standard, got a Q and a first and had a beautiful dog walk. I could tell he was a little slower but I am getting faster due to all of the running I do now and I think running baby-d also skews my perception of how fast miller runs. That finished up his P3 standard title so I was really happy, but more than that, he seemed back to normal. Sunday I had entered him in three runs accidently, snooker, standard and gamblers. Snooker would have been a good run with the 7 being a serpentine a, b, and c and the ones were all close by. He knocked the first bar in the first 7 so I knew we were toast as far as any hopes of a super Q (plus the fact that there were only two of us total in P22) so we just had a good time and ran. He missed his weave pole entrance in the closing which was the 6 but I didn't care. He ran and had fun and that was what mattered. We had gamblers next and it was a very doable gamble, jump, jump, teeter, jump. The problem was the dog walk was the 5 and I didn't want to chance him not getting it and us loosing time and points. I had that happen previously where we did two dog walks and he didn't get either and then he got the gamble but didn't have enough opening points. I also wanted to stay away from weaves just in case he was sore. So my option was two a-frames and tunnels and jumps. I had a good plan and he for once let me lead out (we have lost our lead out since I have been running with to get speed). We were in perfect position going into the gamble, but for whatever reason, he just refused the second jump and came in and barked at me. Typical miller man so we didn't get that last gamblers q we needed. I was bummed because that was our last chance. I don't think it is fair to him to not play in akc, not go to class and then expect him to jump 22 in USDAA in the fall. I have already pulled his summer entries from AKC and just plan on doing veterans in USDAA. Anyway, was a little emotional and had to go out and be a baby and cry. Mom wanted to come with me but I just needed some alone time with my mill man. Came back in after a brief few tears and someone said something to me about it just being a stupid title and I lost it. Yes, I was bummed about not getting the title, I am human and I am competitive, but I am most bummed about this being possibly our last time in the ring. He has given me so much, so much more than I could have ever asked for or expected of a dog that started out HATING agility. I really am going to miss running him:( Got it back together and cooled down and decided to go ahead and run him in standard one last time. He laid down a beautiful run with the PERFECT dog walk. What a way to end his career! After so many years of having a crappy dog walk contact, thanks to me and that being the sole reason why it took us so long to get a MACH and he gives me the most beautiful two on two off you have ever seen. I decided that was the run, the one to end it on. Did he Q, no, but he ran like I know he can run and we ended with lots of cookies, a massage and lots of butt rubs and cookies from his friends. He was wagging his nub and wiggling for everyone. I like ending on a good note. He will still go with us and I still hope to run him some in veterans at 16 inch in USDAA.

Thanks miller man for 7 years of agility giving it your all, making me laugh, making me cry, and making me a better handler. I love you and always will:) No one can bark as loud as you, can wiggle as hard as you, or can run an a-frame like you can. Still think it is funny that you ended your career with the perfect dog walk:)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

retirement, the dreaded decision

Okay so those of you who follow my miller blog know that I have been really wrestling with this decision. I had previously had miller to an animal communicator and we talked about what his signal would be when he was ready. As silly as it may sounds, he told me that when he doesn't pull me to the ring, that means he is done. Well, this weekend at USASA nationals, miller did not pull me to the ring at all and when we would get back to the room, he would zonk out cold and not stir until the morning. I had him checked out to make sure he was okay by dr. connie and she couldn't find anything physically wrong. So i think he was trying to tell me it was time. He Q'd in one run every day, even getting an excellent FAST send that I never in a million years would have thought he could have gotten but I felt like he was running because I wanted him to, not because he wanted to. When I would let him out of his crate he would just look at me with a little gleam in his eye but not his normal jump out, wiggle, and bark at me. I went ahead and pulled his entry from the July show and am leaving his USDAA june show entry in. Maybe we can get that last gambler's Q we need for his P3 title and then he can just do veterans now and again. I am not starting over in novice in AKC, unless I could find a junior handler to take him, so he will probably retire from that venue altogether.

Last night I was working deuce and miller had come with. I like to let him just run around while we work as he likes to hunt and forage. I put the jumps down to 16 and had him come over and do what deuce and I were working on and he loved it. I still think it is time though. I have decided to do tracking with him to keep his mind busy and keep us doing stuff together. We will probably never compete but just getting to interact since he isn't a cuddly, loving, in you face dog will be alot for him. i wish he was more like my other dogs, more toy driven, liked to do certain other things like obedience or rally, but agility is his thing. I love this big red dog with all my heart and soul and i want what is best for him. To go from a dog dumped at the shelter, one day away from being put to sleep, to a MACH and various other top titles USDAA, NADAC, AKC, and ASCA agility is amazing. To go from a dog that I had to drag out of his crate just to get him to go potty to a dog with so much confidence is wonderful. I owe it to him to give him the best rest of his life I can. He has given me so much joy, so many friends and so many memories as well as so much heart ache, so much frustration, and so much worry. He has been a great first agility dog even though I had berry and did some before he came along. He has taken me to 5 nationals (USDAA and AKC) and taught me the mental game and how to handle (and soemtimes how not to handle). I hope we can ease into retirment and he can be happy being retired. Would love to find a junior handler to maybe do some nadac with him or maybe even akc preferred but if not, oh well, he can just lay on his dog bed and go out to the farm when i work deuce and hunt and forage. I love you my big red Miller man!!!!!!