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Good bye, Little Black Dog

Friday, June 27, 2014

Okay, so she was 55 pounds of "little" but still my Little Black Dog.

In May 2000, I stopped by Animal Ark on my way home from working downtown. It had been on impulse; we already had a loveable golden retriever (Tasha) who was 6 months old. However, we knew from her interacting with other dogs, our Tasha would benefit from a companion dog.

So I stopped by Animal Ark on a whim. There were seven puppies, barely 6 weeks old, whose mother had been killed by a car. Yes, I'm a sucker for sob stories so I ended up kneeling by the pen and playing with all the puppies. One of them, a runty little female, crawled up and into my purse. I didn't have the heart to put her back in the pen, so I called J and explained the situation. His response, "You can bring home one. One." (We were living in a two-bedroom townhouse with somewhat strict pet restrictions).

I brought home the one who crawled into my purse.

Tasha was delighted as she bounced around, wanting to play with the little puppy (who was basically the size of her head) but also so careful so that she didn't step on the newcomer. It took a few days, but J and I finally decided on the name Kira, because for being a little pup, she definitely had a Big Dog Attitude.

That's how we ended up with our Star Trek dogs.

As the dogs grew up together, we realized that Tasha was J's dog and Kira was Tasha's dog. Tasha and Kira were close, playing together and Kira would only play tug when Tasha had a toy. Kira didn't ignore us; she was quite the snuggler but when she wanted to be. She could be fiercely independent (hence the name) but also protective of us. She was a black lab/Shepard mix, weighed 65 pounds at her heaviest, and had that Big Dog German Shepard bark. Sure, she sometimes barked at the strangest things: the woodpile in the back of the apartment complex that just appeared one day, the sofa put on the curb for the trash collectors to haul away, the plant in the back addition which had always been there but for whatever reason she had to bark at it.

She was pretty fearless except for getting a bath, which she detested. Imagine the fun of wrestling a 60 pound dog up the stairs to the bathroom so I could wash her down her because she challenged a skunk in the backyard and got sprayed.

She loved going for car rides and walks.

When Tasha died from cancer, Kira was depressed for months. She moped around the house, had no interest in any toys or chews (the lack of interest in toys was nothing new, but turning her nose up at rawhide treats was definitely new). When J's sister would visit and bring her dogs. Kira would immediately perk up and make these whiny sounds when she saw the two other golden retrievers (one was Tasha's mom and the other from a litter after Tasha). But once she realized that those two gold dogs were not *her* Gold Dog, she was sad again. The week that we dog-sat for J's sister made us realize it was time to get another dog to keep Kira company, because despite those dogs not being *her* dog, Kira perked up considerably.

Enter Candace, our crazy brindle dog whom we rescued as a 6-7 month old Yellow Lab/Shepard mix (or so we thought. It turns out that Candace is actually Doberman-*something* ...probably Shepard). The first few days, Kira was Queen of the House until Candace realized that she was taller than Kira and could jump over the dog with ease.

It was a different dynamic than before, but one that they settled into. Candace would be Alpha Dog until she pushed Kira a little too far. Then Kira would let out that Big Dog Bark and Candace would hide under the sofa table.

Kira's health was a mixed bag as a puppy and then as a senior. When we first got her, Kira struggled with a bad case of worms. It took three treatments for them to finally pass (and, ew, it was something straight out of a horror movie). She had six toes on one hind paw and five on the other. The 'extra' toes were dew claws that weren't normal for a Shepard/lab. Our first vet, whom we adored and are still sad that he retired, recommended that the extra toes be removed for fear of them catching on something. So when Kira was spayed, the extra toes were removed.

In her middle years, her health was fine, but about four years ago, she developed arthritis (originally diagnosed as hip dysplasia but corrected when we saw the New Vet) and had some incontinence issues. So she got her meds daily and things were okay. She still climbed the stairs, jumped into bed, and slept on the couch.

About a year ago, she stopped getting into the bed because she wasn't strong enough to make the leap. Six months ago, she stopped getting on any furniture, opting for her puppy bed in the living room. For the most part, she stopped going up the stairs so it was always a surprise when I got up in the morning to see my little black dog sleeping on her puppy bed in our bedroom.

About a year ago, Kira developed an inoperable splenic tumor. It grew slowly until about six months ago, when it eventually badly distended her belly. We knew three months ago we were close to the end because Kira was visibly slowing down and her potty issues increased. Stairs were a huge issue.

We also began feeding her chicken and rice, which she dearly loved. I'm convinced once we started the new diet, the Grim Reaper would stop by our house and Kira would give the Reaper "The Paw" because she was getting "chick'n'rice" instead of dry cereal. Basically, "Eff you, Death. I'm not ready."

Before I left for San Fran, I noticed her hind leg being a little swollen. Nine days later, it was visibly puffy and Kira didn't put much weight on it. Throughout the past two weeks that I've been home, Kira struggled to stand up. She stayed by the backdoor so she didn't have to walk too far to go outside. We had to coax her to her puppy bed in the family room. When she urinated outside, she couldn't raise herself up afterwards and often lost her footing and ended up laying in her urine.

J called me yesterday after Kira's legs went out from under her in the hallway. She piddled where she fell and J said it took twenty minutes of him coaxing for her to move to a new spot. She then stayed in the same new spot for nearly three hours, uninterested in moving. J called me, worried.

I came home early from work.

I took one look and I knew.

It's the hardest thing, deciding when "it's time." Kira trusted us. She loved us. I didn't want to end her life early, but there's a point when you have to realize what *we* want isn't what is best for the dog. Maybe she could have 'lasted' a few more days, maybe even a week or two.

Her belly was horridly swollen from the tumor. Three days ago, she began urinating on the concrete porch instead of the grass which I think was because the concrete was level whereas our grass is just a pocked mess of green. The hind leg was swollen as well, her paw to the point that her claws were almost not visible.

The moment I put her leash on, she got up. She struggled, stepped sideways, but she perked up and was ready to go for a ride.

Of course. Because my dog was stubborn as hell.

At the vet, Kira insisted on walking around as if there was nothing wrong. Tasha had done the same thing, as if saying to us, "I don't know why I'm here. I'm fine. Let's go home. It's dinner time."

But it was time. As hard as it is to admit it, it was time. I can doubt my decision, dwell on 'why didn't I let her pass on her own terms?' or I can accept that no time would have been a good time.

Kira wasn't the same happy, Princess of Her Yard dog. We have a tree in the backyard that is close to the neighbor's fence. Because our house is on a hill, sitting at the tree and looking out gives a clear view of the street between the houses. It was Kira's favorite spot. During the Spring, she would refuse to come inside, preferring to lay beneath the tree and survey her yard. She didn't do that once in the past four months.

It was the right decision, as difficult as it was. J is devastated as am I.

I will miss my Little Black Dog. At least she's reunited with Tasha and playing together in Dog Heaven.

Kira aka
Little Black Dog, Bestest Black Dog Evah!, Black Dog of Death, Kira-Dog, Kira-san, Miss Kir-Kir
(March 2000 - May 23, 2014)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WARRIORGIRL121 7/11/2014 1:56AM

    I'm so sorry emoticon for your loss. I understand... I lost my baby girl Missy last December and still haven't gotten over her. In fact, your baby reminds me of Missy. In fact I adopted my Miss in 2000 as well. Hugs to you and hubby.

Comment edited on: 7/11/2014 1:56:50 AM

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KOFFEENUT 6/28/2014 11:49AM

    I am so sorry for your loss! It takes a lot of courage to let them go; even though it is best for them not to be in pain anymore, it's still so hard for us. Thank you for sharing with us what a special dog Kira was.

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GAYLLYNNE 6/28/2014 2:52AM

    What a lovely tribute to your precious pup. I have been through the same thing, and while never easy, deep down, we know we did the right thing. You dog is probably now, over the rainbow bridge, maybe playing with mine. {{{{hugs}}}

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So it's been a while

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stress. Stress. Travel. Stress. Stress. Travel.

Oh, Kira Dog is far more sick than we thought. We knew it was bad, but the splenic tumor has swollen her belly to the point where she lost her appetite for dog food. She's 14 years old. Our vet said, "Make her happy." So that's what we're doing.

The pup gets poached chicken, plain cooked rice, and grated carrots for her meals.

You know, she eats healthier than I do...

At first, Miss Candace was jealous that Miss Kira gets yummy food while she's stuck with dog cereal. That was before she discovered that in her own bowl, I mixed in a tablespoon of rice, two small chunks of chicken and grated carrot to her dry food.

We don't know how long she has. It's heartbreaking but she's stubborn as all get out. She's not in any pain that we can tell and she's pretty spry for having arthritis and a tumor the size of a nerf football in her. She can't go on walks but she wants to. We take her a few houses down before turning around and heading back.

So it's been a while. But I'm looking at my eating habits, the weight I gained back, and the need to get it back into gear again.

It's okay to fall off, as long as you try to get back on... right?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_MOBII_ 4/15/2014 12:28PM

    Sorry to hear about your pup!
I am glad to see that you are picking yourself up after falling off and you are long as you keep trying!

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Falling off, getting back on

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So it's been over a year since I last updated. At the time, I had lost 20 pounds. I gained 12 back. I don't know what happened, besides stress and a loss of focus. Oh, and how easy it was to slip back into my old habits.

The stupidest excuse was that my iPhone Spark app got messed up, deleted. I refused to pay the $5 (since I believe when I originally downloaded it, it was free) to get it back on my phone. I still have it on my iPad... but an excuse is an excuse.

Speaking of excuses, J bought me a FitBit last Christmas and I wear it daily. I synced it to Spark and... wow. It helped mess me up instead of inspiring me. Because FitBit counts activity different than SP, so suddenly I have all these exercise minutes for basically doing nothing.

I've gained weight back. I know I can't keep doing this. I know I can lose the weight. I know how. I just have to remind myself that it's okay to lose the weight, that it's okay to make a different meal. J is still out of work (5 years now) and we're getting by. But the emotional toll is huge and I'm tired.

Rambling post, but I'm going to try to get back on track.


Accepting that compliment

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I haven't advertised that I'm changing my lifestyle to a healthy one. One of the reasons is that my department consists of three guys and me. It's not like I'm going to talk about it. As for the rest of my coworkers, I don't really chat with them. With the travel required plus my own securities, I am quiet in what I do.

However ...

A coworker whom I have a great rapport with but travels extensively was in the office the other day.

He looks right at me and says loudly, "Sweetheart, you look great. You've lost some weight, eh?"

I blush. I stammer. I finally say, "Yeah."

Because I've shed 20 pounds and no one else in the office has noticed. Oh, a few have seen me bringing my lunch more frequently (almost every day) and commented. But no one has said, "Wow, you've lost some weight." Then again, I see them daily.

I know that I have trouble accepting success. I have trouble accepting compliments. That goes to the whole "insecure thing." Before, I would have taken that positive compliment as permission to splurge.

This time, I didn't.

This time, I looked in the mirror and acknowledged that I look better and I feel better.

I'm a work in progress.

But I'm worth it.

And maybe someday, I'll be able to accept that "you look great!" comment without feeling self-conscious.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WARRIORGIRL121 11/24/2012 10:44PM

    You are worth it! I had to also learn to just say "Thank You" when people would notice my weight loss and compliment me on it. Just keep practicing in the mirror saying, "Thank you!" emoticon

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BIGPAWSUP 9/21/2012 10:53AM

    That compliment is well earned! Feel good about it even if you are still a bit shy about receiving them. I don't do well with them either, but it does feel so good.


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_MOBII_ 9/20/2012 11:34PM

    When you get a compliment, just know that you earned it with all that hard work!

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Oh, you've totally done this... (or maybe not...)

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The lunch of awesomeness (okay, the one within my self-prescribed limits for the day) remains in the fridge. I was going to eat it, promise, but then I began assembling it.

Roast chicken. My allotted, my mustard aoili. My high fiber wrap with a whole tomato and a white peach for dessert.

I took one bite and ... oh. I SO could not eat this.

I know we all have days like this, when our carefully packed whatever turns into a thing of scorn.

If not, I envy you. Feel lucky.

For me, it was the ongoing semi-theme of "You can't be successful eating out" that spurred a trip to Aladdin's Eatery for a taste of Mediterranean flavors. Oh, there were so many things I could have indulged in.

I didn't. I also didn't order the salad. Instead, it was the tuna shwarma with no dressing. I got the flavors with the reduced fat. Was it the "best choice" ... for me, yes. For others, not so much. But I adapted my dinner choices to fit in with my lunch choice and, well ...

Yes, I was still over calories for the day but it was satisfying and I know that THIS is a restaurant I can work into my daily routine.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_MOBII_ 9/5/2012 9:58PM

    First of all...I would SO eat at any place called Aladin's! Haha!

And second, I totally know what you mean when your throat closes off and refuses to eat the same old stuff! When that happens, I know its time for a change up.

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ADARKARA 9/5/2012 7:56AM

    I looooove shawarma! Good on you for making good choices =)

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FATBASTICH 9/5/2012 6:44AM

    It's good you found a reasonable alternative.

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LULUBELLE65 9/5/2012 5:23AM

    I totally do this! I bring lunch to school and then decide I cannot face another day of hard boiled eggs, salad and an apple. Luckily, my school has improved its lunch choices this year, and there are at least two or three items a day that I can work into my eating plan and not go completely off track.

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CRAZY_KAT_1984 9/4/2012 10:49PM

    I have done this so many times! Not just at work, but also at home...I've found that I have to work a lot of variety into my diet or this is what happens emoticon
Good for you, though, making the healthiest choice you could! emoticon

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CHERIONE 9/4/2012 10:37PM

    Mama said there'd be days like this! You made good choices anyway. Good for you! emoticon

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TIMOTHYNOHE 9/4/2012 10:36PM

    So you learned something good ... an eat out place that can work for you. And you satisfied that something you needed. ANd it's only one day, not everyday.

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BIGPAWSUP 9/4/2012 10:35PM

    That's great!


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