Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Camera Bag For Christmas

The last thing I bought was a tank of gas on Wednesday. It’s Saturday now and the madness that has gripped some people still race through their veins. They must shop. It’s Christmas. The clock is ticking. They have to shop. The hopes and dreams of their loved ones depend on their sacrifice in the name of the Almighty Dollar. There are retail chains whose very lifeblood flows through the next four weeks of shopping. The country as a whole is either living or dying depending on the Shopping Season.

For Christmas at my mother’s house we draw names. Everyone buys and everyone receives one gift. Traditionally, it is something funny and fun. No one gets or gives anything that costs more than twenty-five dollars. Stunning isn’t it? What can you buy with that?

The high point of the gift giving at my mother’s house is the “Camera Bag Exchange”. Many years ago my father gave me a camera and went on a short soliloquy as to why a company would sell a camera but not supply a bag for it. My younger sister remembered this and so the next year she gave me a camera bag; it was a paper bag with “Camera Bag” written on it. It went over very well indeed. So the next year I bought one of those toy cameras for a few bucks and gave it back to her. She countered the next year with the bag and a camera given away with a magazine subscription. The next year I returned the bag to her with a very, very, very, cheap digital camera that held one photo.

This has gone on now for seven years and neither of us have put more than ten dollars a year into it.

Not only is this the high point of Christmas for my younger sister and myself, but everyone else is waiting to see who has it this year and who is getting what with it this year. It’s exciting for this sort of thing to happen because it’s pure fun. There are no moving parts. There is no warranty. Batteries not included. Just something she and I will do and we will remember it long after the other gifts have all been forgotten.

So, here’s the thing, and it’s really the only thing, are you trying to buy this sort of moment? If you put enough wrapping paper in a dumpster somewhere will someone you love be a better person for it? What’s the price on a family being together and being happy? Does there have to be some credit card company out there hitting their magic number on purchases before you and yours can rest easy?

It’s my turn this year to get the bag. It is the only gift I expect to receive that I am truly looking forward to getting. My older sister asked me yesterday, “Who has the bag?” and I told her I would have to check. I think we’ll conspire to keep it a secret and make people guess. That would be fun, too.

You could get a bag like that for free, you know. And furthermore, you couldn’t sell it on ebay for a dollar. Yet for the last seven years the “Bag Exchange” has been something we all have really enjoyed. It’s simple and it is funny.

Is your Christmas going to be like this?


Who told you it couldn’t be?


Take Care,

Mike

Sunday, November 17, 2013

State of Lucas




Lucas seems to have padded his way down the road to recovery without so much as looking back. The first few days were bad because his nose was still bleeding, he was still recovering from being anesthetized but most of all I think Lucas was in a state of shock from being away from home. The closest thing we humans can experience to compare to this is alien abduction. Lucas was in a strange place with nothing familiar there and they cut off part of his face. For four days he had to wonder where he was, where I was, and how long this was going to go on.

When I went to get Lucas he was still very stoned. They wanted to keep him one more day but all things medical looked good and Lucas was dying. He wasn’t eating, drinking, peeing or pooping. Lucas was shutting down. Whatever was happening to him wasn’t home and he didn’t want to live without it. I told work I was going to go get my dog and that was what I did.

The whole way back I had to keep Lucas out of my lap. As long as I kept on hand on his head Lucas seemed fine. But he had to have that contact. It wasn’t until we started down the driveway to the house he acted like he really knew where he was.

That was a week ago, Thursday. This Wednesday we are going to have the vet come here to take his stitches out. Lucas as recovered entirely from the Alien Abduction thing. Well, almost. He likes to sleep on top of me more than he used to and he has to lose weight anyway. He wants his nose close to my face when we sleep and I don’t mind, really.

That’s what’s missing from a lot of people’s lives these days, I think. We’ve created a world where connections are made with keyboards but not with faces. Lucas is scarred up pretty bad but I just want to be close to that face. I will admit it freely; I suffered terribly without him here with me. I love my mutts. I wonder how people go about their day to day lives without someone to love there.

When a close friend of mine told me I couldn’t save Lucas that I should let him live out his time in comfort until the pain became too great, I saw the practical wisdom in this thinking. But it lacked love. Love means being able to see past practicality and seeing a way to get things done doe someone because love demands it, love compels you do take that leap, love propels you through the arena of wisdom and logic and dollars and sense and love lifts you above it all so that nothing else matters to you.

Right now I face harder financial times that I ever dreamed possible but I cannot say that I care. My close friend came over and asked me how I was going to manage this and I asked her if she still thought she was right. The math was on her side but now she wavered; now she sat and saw before her the evidence at hand that there was something out there which defied her calculator and honestly I think it daunted her sense of being.

Could you? Would you? Have you? Would you do it again?

I feel more whole for the decision I made. I feel as if there was a trade I did not know I was making has been made, and I got the better end of the deal, by far. Now, I wonder if my friend had also at one time in her life had also made that decision and now saw that part of her soul had been traded away. I cannot say what she got in that bargain but I do know I want none of it.

Love. Lucas was going to allow himself to fade away and die without it. Some would have let him die for the lack of it. We’re all going to go in the end. Love is the only way to live. Anything less and you’re cowering in fear of the loss of something you are too afraid to lose to have.

Love,

Mike

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Margins of Victory



One of the first things someone told me about the surgery is that they had to get all of the cancerous cells. Not just a lot of them, but all of them, and there had to be a “clear margin” around the part they cut out of healthy cells which would mean all the cancer would be contained within.

One of the more depression and damning pieces of information that was in the original pathology report was “Margins are not evident” which meant they would have to cut deeper and wider to make sure the operation was a success.

That was the thing, really. There wasn’t any other. Either/or. No middle ground.

This was the text my local vet, who I think is a saint, sent me this morning: (italics mine)

“Got another fax this morning that is a referral summary. It says that we will receive the history pass tomorrow. I guess They sent it to me early by mistake. It says that the wide margins were achieved. It says in this case long-term survival is a strong possibility. They want to do a repeat CT scan in 3 to 4 months. Great news! See you on the 20th.”

I stared at the message for about five minutes. The UF vet called me and told me there is only a ten percent chance of reoccurrence. This was as good as we could have hoped for and more than I thought we would get.

Lucas will live. I get to keep my dog.

More on another day. I am going to spend some time with my dogs right now.

Thank you, thank you ever so much, everyone, for caring about us,

Mike

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran’s Day 2013




When I joined the Army had many preconceived notions as to what it would be like to speak with veterans of the war in Viet Nam.  Of course, once I actually spent some time with these men it was much more different than I thought it would be on several levels. The image I had been fed all my life of the strung out and jittery dead- end soldiers who lived with deep regret over that war was soon replaced with the reality of professional and dedicated men who went to do what they were ordered to do and did it as well as they could.

Some of what I heard might never be told because I am certain they did not want it to be repeated. Some people might not understand. There was a lot of fire and a lot of darkness and there were very long days and even longer nights. It was one of the longest and most futile wars we, as a country, visited upon our military men and women.

The last American general who truly understood the concept of war was Sherman. When the War Of Northern Aggression was declared against the Confederacy it was Sherman who warned Lincoln that the war would be a long war and it would take a standing army of at least nine hundred thousand men to win it. Lincoln’s military advisors laughed at Sherman and he was exiled away from the war. When it became clear those who thought the war would be over with few causalities and in a couple of months were terribly, horribly, wrong, Sherman was brought back.  The war dragged out for over four years. In the end, Sherman marched through Georgia and created a sixty mile wide path of death, destruction, and depravation.  Those who opposed him were killed. Those who submitted to him were beholding to him for their very lives.

This was, and it still is, the very essence of how to conquer a people using force.

In World War Two, Patton understood this very well but there were now rules in affect that would limit the amount of destruction that might be created. It was even worse in Korea and it was downright terrible in Nam. Our recent military actions in the Middle East were very little but American foreign policy with no thought into consequence and action without regard to cost.

To Lincoln, Sherman, Patton, and the men and women in uniform, war was personal. It was worn like a second skin. The heroics of our military personnel are clearly visible from a level that transcends ordinary human endeavor.  The scared blood that ran through the veins of the first man to fire a musket at the British pumps through the hearts of those who fight, kill, and die in Afghanistan. The blood was spilled in the jungles. And it has never been this blood that has failed us and it never will fail us.

The leaders who misuse our military and those who misunderstand history will be revealed in the future as stumbling, ignorant politicians whose inactions or actions led to death and desecration of those who serve.

This day, of all days, let us remember that those in sit in Washington do not reflect the values held by those who fight in uniform. Honor, courage, duty, and commitment to liberty are what these people think their lives are worth trading for.

Remember, on this day, and every day you are able to walk as a free person, that those who believe this, those who live it, and those you owe for it.

They are your true leaders for they have shown the way since that first musket was fired and they will lead until the last shot echoes into eternity.

Take Care,

Mike

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hocus! Pocus! The Tallokas!






I went to visit with friends last night and they feted me with a really good supper, a great wine, and a birthday cake. I was gone from the house for nearly six hours and I was slightly more than a little worried about Lucas while I was gone. On the upside, Lucas has shown signs of total emotional recovery. He’s his old self again, or at least 90% of it, and he’s beginning to push Sam back a bit. Sam’s insurrection is fading. He is no longer convinced that the top dog can be picked off easily now. Lillith is also showing signs that she might have taken advantage of Lucas’ weakness and he’s swatting at her with his paws. Everyone seems to realize Lucas’ mouth isn’t one hundred percent yet. The downside is that Thursday and Friday nights Lucas bled a lot out of his nose. The doctors warned me this would happen and Lucas bled all the way home from the hospital and I’ve washed his blanket and my sheets every day since he got back.

I am happy to report this morning that all was well when I returned last night. I needed to let go a little and see what would happen and everything was perfect when I returned from the party. The L Hounds, Lillith and Lucas, stormed up on the porch when I got home, snarling at one another playfully, and when I let them in Lucas reared up on his hind legs to greet me as he did before all this happened. I call that the Loki Leap. His energy level is returning in a big way and I can only hope his stitches heal before he starts running around playing with Lillith as hard as they do.

Last night I had a nightmare where there was an orange bolt of energy in the kitchen. It extended from the floor to the ceiling and made a crackling and popping noise. I woke up and could still see the light of it and still hear it but I realized the dogs hadn’t moved. The general rule of thumb in this house is this; if the dogs aren’t reacting it isn’t real. I waited for the smoke alarm to jick off and it didn’t. I couldn’t smell any smoke. The orange lightning bolt creature was the product of imagination and I went back to sleep fairly easily.

When we got up this morning not only was there no traces of our electric fiend but there was also no trace of blood. Lucas has totally stopped bleeding! I was told if he played too hard this would raise his blood pressure and make the bleeding worse but after six hours with Lillith the play seemed to help more than it hurt. I have always thought that sick people and dogs needed to exercise. There is very little convalescence in sloth.

So, here we are, five days after the operation and things look good. Lucas seems to be nearly normal emotionally and his body is healing. We get the pathology report back Tuesday and find out if this is over or if this is really over.

Take Care,

Mike

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9th, 1970




On November the 9th, 1970, I took a walk with a friend and we talked about what getting older meant. Mark was a year younger than I and we had both been waiting for this day for a while, even though we weren’t real sure what it all meant. We thought we had some sort of idea. I had finally turned ten years old. I had reached double digits in age. Mark and I thought that was one of the coolest things ever.

My life was lived on a timer. Because I was never a good student I was constantly on what my parents called “restriction” and that day they had decided to let me out of the house for an hour. I had an hour to talk about ten years. I remember the phase of the moon in the daylight being a half moon and I remember it was a clear and cold day.

Mark and I talked about the fact that we had memories that dug five years down into the past. Five years! That was half a lifetime. There was a difference between being a kid that was five and being a kid that was ten. We were so much older and knew so much more than those kids that were just starting out. And I was ten!

We walked around our neighborhood and I didn’t realize the next birthday I would be living somewhere else, in another house, in our hometown of Blakely Georgia. My parents would be divorced; something that was alien to us all. Mark and I wouldn’t be friends anymore. We were already drifting apart. His parents, in a response to desegregation, had sent him to a private school. This would be one of the last times he and I would walk this neighborhood in its present form and in less than five years it would be changed forever and it would keep changing.

The open field that we had walked that day is now a city park with a baseball field and all the trappings that go with it. There is a paved road on the other side that we once knew as a footpath through the woods. The dirt road that bordered the field is also paved. The City Pool, where we spent entire summers trying to grow gills is gone, totally destroyed, broken up and buried on site. The house where I once lived, right next to the pool, has been painted a garish yellow color. As we walked that day and imagined the future we never thought it would look the way that it does. Hell, the next year was something we couldn’t have anticipated and we didn’t.

I had no idea that in less than five more years I would start drinking and smoking. I would start smoking pot in four more years. The future was moving in fast and immediate. My father had given up on me two years earlier and in less than a year my mother would be gone. The family would be split up; my sisters would go live with my mother and I with my father, but we would all leave the house we grew up in. We would leave the place where Spud and Cookie was buried. We would take Spike and Smut with us when we went and they would both be dead in less than five years.

Mark and I agreed to try to remember as much as we could from that day. I am nearly certain I couldn’t go back to that spot and find where he had stood. Far too much has changed. There are more houses there now. There is more pavement. People lack the sense of village that we held back then when the whole neighborhood was community property and we kids wandered everywhere at will. Dogs were never on a leash. It was safe to play in the streets and there were no roads we couldn’t take our bikes. But the world was changing. I had turned ten years old.

We talked about what it would be like in another ten and that frightened us a bit. Ten years was a lifetime. How could we cope with being adults in ten years when we were so terribly far away from it at ten? We took a step back from the future because in South Georgia, children were taught that age meant maturity and until you reached a number you hadn’t reached another level of being. Adults were infallible and we sure as hell didn’t feel infallible. It was a false dichotomy that kept any of us from being truly prepared for life. Everything would be okay once you reached eighteen. Your ticket would be punched. You would receive wisdom. You would be transformed by magic. You would be an adult.

Birthdays were already meaning less to us and to our parents. The little kids got birthday presents and parties and we older kids were slowly but surely getting fewer toys and more clothes for birthdays. Gone were those gatherings where there would be ten children brought together and there would be screaming and yelling and a very good time as we all got jacked up on frosting and Kool-Aid. Mark and I talked about the good old days where we were much younger and much more free. There were beginning to be some stern warnings against acting like kids these days.

My time was up so I headed back home. There was a fire burning in the trash barrel in back of mark’s home and I remember smelling the acrid smoke on that day. Everyone burned their trash or at least part of it and we would be the last generation to do so. The sun began to go down and I knew I was late getting back. The wind was colder that day and I decided to run home. Adults never ran just for the hell of it and  wondered if any of them every stopped to think when it was the last time they ran, just for the hell of it, across the yard and just ran for the hell of it, because they could.


Take Care,

Mike

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Deep Breath

In just over twenty-four hours things have settled down considerably here in Hickory Head. Sam, for reasons that escape me completely, was aggressive as hell towards Lucas when he got back. But Lucas diminished is still more than a match for the elderly Sam. My biggest fear was Lucas would rip his stiches out and oh, yeah, kill Sam. Sam’s playbook has just one thing written on every line of his ways-to-react scenarios; aggression.

For those of you with anger issues please take notice that Sam was abused, horribly and systematically abused, when he was a little puppy. Now, twelve years later he still reacts the same way to anything that is different and new. If you find yourself being able to think back at your own life and see this in yourself…


Lillith has resumed the role of Little Angel and Pibble Princess. She tags along behind Lucas and doesn’t rush the door anymore. I’m going to take Lucas and put him in the truck as soon as he’s a little stronger and then we’ll get to train Miss Lillith on how not to react when the Loki Mutt isn’t around. I cannot have her going off the deep end when her Lucas is being moved around for whatever reason, even though I sure do hope that is over for a while. A very, very, long while.


While at the hospital one of the students who were looking after Lucas sat me down and discussed his weight with me. Lucas, at this very moment, tops in at nearly one hundred and twenty pounds, minus what he lost in the last few days, which seems to be three or four pounds. The veterinarian suggested to me that Lucas get down to, are you ready for this, seventy-five pounds. That’s right, Lucas has to lose forty –five pounds. I knew he was chubby but I didn’t think he was that bad off. It was more than a little embarrassing when the surgeon brought it up again later. They told me to give him half a can of wet food a day until he reaches his target weight.

Mostly, Lucas has slept since he’s been back. Yesterday he walked around very slowly with his head down and he kind of shuffled around when he went out. He would follow me but he didn’t go off on his own and I didn’t want him to either. But today he bounded out of the back door and looked around as if he was looking for a trespasser or a squirrel or something to chase. His energy level is still very low but there is a spring in the step of the Loki Mutt once again. His spirits are lifting on an hourly basis. I have my dog back.

Sam has spent today in retreat. He won’t go out with Lucas and I do not understand this because Lucas hasn’t acted with aggression towards Sam. When Lucas and Lillith has gone out Sam has hung back and not gone, and then waited until they were out for a few minutes before he went to the door. I am not sure at all what to make of this except it is very weird.

Lillith is in heaven. I have never seen a dog miss another like she missed Lucas and he seems to delight in being near her.

Tuesday we will get the pathology report back in and if the margins are good we’re reduced to fighting Lucas’ weight problem. I can take a deep breath.

Take Care,

Mike

A Gallon of Gas, A Bottle Of Water, and a Heart So True.

In every medical endeavor involving any species there are people who are there to herd the monies in the right direction. The cost of Lucas’ operation was going to be high. I went and got a first opinion from a vet I wound up not liking and that was expensive, too. But this isn’t about money or how much things cost. This is about the people within a system where there is money being exchanged. This is about small job and large hearts. This is about the journey not the destination.

A couple weeks ago, on my girlfriend’s birthday we went to a very nice restaurant. It was going to be our last night out for a very long time, we were sure of that, and it would certainly be our last night out at this level. At that point we only knew that I was going to take a pretty good hit in the check book but we decided to go out and for one night forget about what was to come.

The waiter’s name was Russ. He came and went with a sense of fluidity that only people who know people can accomplish. We seemed to realize this was a bittersweet night for us and he also knew his job. He knew the menu. He knew the wine and how to serve it. Russ was like a good friend who was hosting a party at his house and we were good friends he wanted to take care of in his house. We had a gift certificate that covered most of the bill but I left him a tip he’ll remember. Russ didn’t cook the food or make the wine, but he made the experience a little more special but being who he needed to be.

The woman who was explaining the finances at the Small Animal Hospital was named Bianca. She sat down with me and explained what it might cost and how I might be able to finance it all. She was very young, I thought, and while she was speaking to me about money Lucas was taken away from me, lead away through a door, and suddenly it was all very real. My dog was gone. I might never see him again.

But Bianca guided me through what was and what was going to be. I asked her about the tattoo on her wrist. ‘Without Fear” in Italian was written there in ink, never to be removed or to fade. I cannot say that seeing that made my mind up. I can tell you that inspiration is found in small and unlooked for places. Kindness and compassion are contagious. A young woman with a tattoo told me that in the end, I would be gutted financially. Realism is her job. How she delivered the news was another story altogether. This was more about Lucas than money to me and somehow, even though this is how Bianca makes her living, I felt like she wanted Lucas to live.

Someone sent me five dollars. They also sent me an apology for not sending more. After all, considering all things, what on earth could five dollars do for Lucas and myself? It’s a gallon of gas and a bottle of water. But I needed a gallon of gas and a bottle of water. More than that, I needed, desperately needed, to know that people cared. I had no idea how much I needed that until strangers, online and in person, began to show me they cared.

Does one hundred dollars mean someone cares more than five? No. In a sense, the person giving me five dollars is giving me more of what they can than someone handing me a hundred. The idea of caring about a dog that someone will never see in person is not alien to me. I care about Popeye and Violet. Ranger and Pepper, Houdini and Karma. These are all dogs I will never meet but in my own way, I love.

It never occurred to me so many people would love Lucas. I am awed. I am daunted. I am brought to a level of humanity I did not think existed in so many people. I have written thank you notes to everyone who has sent me anything. I got this back:


“The world is a funny place. Me I appreciate your writing and more importantly your love of your friends. Cheers mate! I wish I could do more and I wish Lucas the best. I know he has an awesome friend in you.”

I’ve gotten more mail like this than you can know.


Russ, Bianca, and the people who send five dollars aren’t going to change anything in a material sense. But they will change hearts. Compassion only comes in the large size. There are no small loves. There isn’t an act of kindness that is unnoticeable. None of this, not one cent, not one word, not one prayer, and not one smile will ever be forgotten.  Ever. Never.

I am in debt. I am deeply in debt. No, as I have told you, this isn’t about money, no, not at all. This is about being given love and empathy and kindness and being held up emotionally by people who I never knew I had touched with my writing.

I owe now. And in some way, each and every day of my life, every moment and every chance to give back, even if it is not to these people, I will offer myself to those who I can help.


Ultimately, this is the One Great Truth in all of this; Compassion. Love. Humanity. You don’t need money. You need to care. You need a heart. You need to reach out and no matter how small it may seem from your end, from over here, where it is needed, it is mighty.

I am so very much going to write down everyone’s name who has helped me. And in some way, in the name of those people, I am going to spread the goodness forever.

Lucas is alive. So many people have made this possible and have made my state of mind in this time steady and true.

This is a debt I will spend the rest of my life repaying and nothing could make me happier.

Take Care,

Mike

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lucas is Home.

The people at the University of Florida Small Animal hospital in Gainesville Florida are made entirely of the awesome. One of their students, a man named Sergio, called me two or three times a day while Lucas was with them and his updates were incredible. That said, it was still a long drive down there again. I got off at lunch today and started the two hour trip down to get Lucas.

Would he be awake, hysterical to see me, stoned, wounded, or what? A million questions wandered through my mind. Sergio told me Lucas was having problems urinating. What if those problems were permanent? What if Lucas took some damage while he was under and didn’t remember me? What if…?

The Small Animal Hospital is a very nice place. In and out people with dogs came and when while I waited and the dogs all came over to see me. Okay, I stood in the doorway, or close to it, like a Wal-Mart greeter for canines, “Hi welcome to the hospital would you like to be petted?” Most dogs will walk towards me when they see me. It’s a body language thing, I think, and I always smell like happy dogs.

There was no way for me to be ready for how Lucas was going to look. Everyone has always told me he was a handsome dog and I have always thought he was by far the most photogenic animal I have ever shared my life with but when they brought him to me I nearly cried. There is a large scar running down the center of his muzzle. The right side of his face is more or less caved in and his lip doesn’t totally cover his bottom teeth anymore because his top teeth aren’t there to hold it out. His nose looks pinched because of this. 





He walked up to me and licked me on my face and I held him.

My dog. I have my dog. My dog.

Sergio had to repeat most of what he said because I couldn’t stop looking at Lucas’ face. Oh damn. But the stitches come out in two weeks. He has three different kinds of meds. There’s still some blood coming out of his nose. And we do not know if they got it all yet. The surgeon came in and told me that most of his face will look more normal as it heals. “Did you get all the cancer and can he function?” Yes. “Thank you!” and that is all that needs to be said, really.

On the way home Lucas wanted to sit in my lap but settled for having his head on my hand or my knee. He wouldn’t be still unless we were touching in some way. One hundred and thirty-one miles to go and then I will have Lucas home again.

It’s an odd thing, time is. Two hours doesn’t seem like a very long time but when you have an injured dog you are dying to get home and the traffic is bad it all seems so hellish. I was afraid to speed, afraid to slow down, I was afraid he’s start bleeding, I was afraid he would stop breathing, and if I could just get him home…

Home. Why is it we think things will be better if we can just get home? Lucas is far better off in a hospital than he is here, isn’t he? But no. He stopped drinking and wouldn’t pee on a leash for Sergio, saint that the man is. Lucas wanted to go home, to Lillith, and to the place he knows every tree. He kept his head down and didn’t look up until we got to the driveway then he sat up and looked at me as if he was asking if finally, please, could I just go home?

Lillith raked the door with her paws and yelped. Lucas went to the door and stood there and waited for me to open it. The two were reunited, nose to nose, lick to lick, pack to pack. We went out in the yard and Lucas drank from the water bucket, peed three times, had two bowel movements and drank again. Home. Lucas was home. Lucas is home.



Lucas is home. He’s snoring softly on the floor as I write this. I haven’t been this lucid in weeks. I feel alive. I feel wonderful. I feel like…I’m home, too. There is still work to be done on Lucas, minor stuff, check-up stuff, but that will wait for another day. I have tomorrow off. Lucas and I are going to sleep late and then we’re going to go in the backyard and his little sister is going through some training. But Lucas is home. Home is where the mutt is.

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lucas: An Update



I got a call late yesterday and Lucas won’t come home today. Friday seems to be the day of choice right now and not all the problems are medical, I fear. Lucas is bleeding but not bad. He has some issues in not urinating when they walk him and they might have to put in a catheter. He’s never peed before on a leash so I understand that part. Lucas, I fear, just wants to go home. They say Friday. That’s a long time away for us all. The depression has got to be getting to him because it’s getting to the rest of us.

Sam is immune to missing most people and dogs except one woman and me, but he isn’t the same right now. Sam is more needy than ever even though he is getting more attention. Lillith came unglued when I took Lucas from her and she isn’t doing well at all. She seems to think if she acts up enough Lucas will return to make her behave. I’m constantly having to tell her to get down from pawing at the windows and doors. Lillith wants to go looking for Lucas and if I don’t get him back soon I’m afraid she might.

This is as good as it will get until we get Lucas back home. I feel tired all the time and I can’t write anymore. I can’t stand the idea of Lucas thinking he’s been abandoned or he’s being punished or whatever he’s thinking right now. He’s alone in a strange place with people he doesn’t know and no one is telling him the things he’s always been told. No matter how good they treat him there is no way he feels loved like he feels at home.

The people of this world have been good to me and Lucas, very good, much better than I could have ever hoped or dreamed and I am incredible grateful for each and every person who has contacted me in various ways during this time. The one bright spot in all of this is how people are responding to Lucas the Lumpy and I am truly appreciative.

But I just want my dog back at home with his pack right now.

Take Care,

Mike

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Loki Cut.

On the way down to Gainesville I kept wondering what I would do if they told me they would have to take off half of his face to save him and it would cost a billion dollars. Lucas acted nervous the whole way down. The departure had once again gone badly; Lillith damn near tore the back door down when I put Sam and herself out, and she realized I was taking Lucas. The love between those two is an unusually strong thing. I cannot say that I have witnessed anything like it before.

The way was long. The flash drive was loaded with classical music and very intentionally I had picked songs that were over ten minutes in length a piece. One hour could pass with just four or five tracks played out and the drive was over in just over two hours.

The UF small animal hospital is a great place. Everyone there seemed focused and friendly and they knew who Lucas was before he got there. Lucas didn’t like the place and liked even less the odd and rangy looking mutt that took a shot at him. But Lucas didn’t react at all he just backed up a bit and sneered at the mutt. For as little outside socialization he has had with strange dogs Lucas does very well.

It would seem that Lucas is now pushing close to one hundred and eighteen pounds and the vets I saw told me this was going to be a problem if I didn’t do something about it soon. To have cancer doctors talk diet with me was sobering. I really have to get some weight off that dog and soon. They took him in to be CT scanned and X-rayed so I went to see my old friend Tom.

I’ve never been to Tom’s farm, or met his border collie, Houdini, or his wife, and it was a great place to go to wait out the testing. Life in rural Florida is something most people miss because of the tourist traps and all, and most people do not realize that most of Florida is still a very simple and good place. It is disappearing very quickly though. The big Oaks are all being killed for strip malls and that is a terrible thing. Tom told me I would do the right thing and in this, I knew that whatever I did most people would agree with so it’s not like there would be a lot of people second guessing me. Except me.

At three...There was a room full of people at the meeting and the surgeon brought out a dog skull to better show me where the cuts would be made and how. There was a computer there with the CT scan on it and they walked me through where the tumor was and what it would take to remove it. They had a file full of computer photos that showed a dog that had been through the same type of surgery.

“How long will Lucas live if everything goes as well as it can?”

A dog that size might live four or five more years anyway. Who knows? Six would be the high end of it.

“What are the chances of reoccurrence?”

Low, if the surgery goes well but we really won’t know until it’s over and done with”

“And if the surgery fails?”

“There are other options but at that point it’s not good at all.

“So I try it and it could fail and I would still lose Lucas?”

Yes.

“What happens if I do nothing?”

The tumor grows at the rate it has been until it begins to kill him. Three to six months.

“Where are you from, doc?”

A little town outside London.

“You have many snakes there?”

No, we don’t what we have are quite pathetic, actually

“A year or so ago, Lucas charged a Cottonmouth and for his trouble he got bit. But that’s Lucas. All that mattered to him was to protect me and everyone else from the snake so in he charged like an idiot.”

Uh, okay.

“We go in. If it works it works. Lucas will die as he has lived. Let’s do it. “

Lucas goes under tomorrow. It’s going to cost more money than I can hope to gather up but I do not care.

I am going to save Lucas.  I do not care what it costs.

He would do it for me.


Take Care,

Mike