Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Call from Tufts this morning

Tufts University just called and thanked me for the samples we sent of
Alex's tissue. I told Kristin about our fundraiser and story. She was
very nice and thankful.
I feel good about what we have done and are doing. They need more
information to help our friends.
Please consider sending tissue samples to Tufts if you suspect cancer.
Information can be found on the ABTC Health webpage, found one click
away from our own
It only cost $83 at my vet. We are hoping to find a way to put these
shirt funds into reimbursing owners for this service. ♡

Total Belgian party will break out for breakfast!

The details that Kate Stevenson and I have been playing with all night
are fixed and ready. Not much reason to hold off any longer.

Ok, maybe one more sneak preview :)

Pat, in memory of Alex and all the Belgians he will play with tomorrow

Are you ready to welcome these guys into your heart?

The tougher question is, "Are we ever ready to lose them?"
Our Belgian Health needs YOU!

Wanna name these guys? Tommy Terv and Lyle Laeken?
You can do better!

Belgian #3 - the youngest leads the team!

Watch for details in the coming hours!!

Pat Heisler
In memory of Alex, thank you for helping us help our Belgians!
photos property of PH and Belgian Health.

Belgians are coming! part 2!

Are you ready for the next big thing?

Sneak preview attached, of the biggest fundraiser (yet) for 2013!!

Watch for details in the coming hours!!

In memory of Alex, thank you for helping us help our Belgians!

 photos property of PH and Belgian Health.

Rolling into Belgian Land for February!!

Are you ready for the next big thing?

Sneak preview attached, of the biggest fundraiser (yet) for 2013!!

Watch for details in the coming days!!

Pat Heisler

  Thanks to Sandy Stealey for what is to come!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Picked up Alex's remains today

I picked up Alex's cremation remains today.
Brooke Cole was with me and the folks at Park Hills were wonderful as always!
Unexpectedly, they made a clay pawprint of Alex's paw, baked it for me and put his name into it.
Thank you, Norma!   So very kind.

Since this is partly about feelings and partly about "what is," this is how the bill broke down:
Digital Radiography  $75.00
Cremation     $145.00
Euthanasia w/pre-sedation      $65.00
Necropsy (for Tufts)      $83.00

I am thankful the team at Park Hills Animal Hospital was there for both of us.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Thank you Dr. Collette and team for sending this in for Alex

Dr. C called today, after preparing the samples to send to Tufts.
The cancer was greatly spread through out the stomach and there was a perforation the size of a nickel in the stomach wall.  He is still amazed at how Alex was able to walk in to the office on Friday.
Alex was a strong Belgian with a strong heart.

Stomach Cancer Study

Enrollment Instructions
Tufts Harrington Oncology Program
Blood: 6ml of blood in an EDTA tube. Completed participant information form below
Please FedEx the samples:
Please call us for a FedEx account numberUse Standard overnightWrite "Please refrigerate upon arrival" on the box.Please Address to: Kristin Simon, BS
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
200 Westboro Road
FHSA Room 215
North Grafton, MA
Phone: 508-887-4422
If samples are taken on a Friday: please refrigerate blood. Ship out on Monday. 
-----------------------------Return Below Portion with Shipment------------
 Owner Information Name: 
Mailing Address:
Phone: Email:
Dog Information Call Name: Date of Birth:
Registered Name: Breed:
AKC (or Other) Registration #:
Please attach pedigree if available Sex: Male Male Neutered Female Female Spayed Affected participants: (Please include biopsy report if available)
Date of Diagnosis ______________ Biopsy Diagnosis ______________
Biopsy Location ________________ Other Disease ________________
Please Acknowledge and Sign: I give Dr. Elizabeth McNiel and her direct collaborators permission to use this sample for research purposes. I understand that any pedigree information or data specific to my dog will be kept confidential and any publications resulting from these studies will not include any information that will make it possible to identify a subject. In addition, I understand that I will not receive individual results regarding my dog as a result of these studies.
Signature: Date:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Alex, March 8, 2004 ~ January 18, 2013

Alex would have only been nine in March. 

This blog has been about his life and I have tried not to make it about mine (too much). 
We shared experiences great and small.  Alex brought me great friends.  I love each and every one of you. Know that he did. All I had to do was say one of your names and he would look eagerly to the appropriate direction.

It is strange being home alone. (Don't tell the cat I said that! He is trying his furry best.)  Alex has only spent a handful of nights not here or with our neighbors. One night in the animal hospital when he was six months old and one week with Sue Young when I had surgery for my broken ankle.  Neither prepared me for what this would be like. 

I was awake much of last night. When I did sleep, it was on the couch. This cannot go on for long. Obviously!

Brooke and I are heading out for an adventure to Jungle Jim's Eastgate today. I told her we would need a photo of both of us, to prove to later years that I did not mope on my birthday, but pushed out and about. Alex would be proud. He was the bounce back kid, the rubber dog, never down, rarely out.

Just got back to this and realized I had never published. We had our trip to Jungle Jim's, picked up neighbor Finn from Pet Suites and am now home, just finishing sushi.  All in all, a good distraction, but not enough. 

Sleep well, my friend.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Alex joins his friends

This is a photo I took several years ago of my Carlos, Alex and Gregor the deerhound, December 2005. 
They are now all running together again. 

After Alex and I walked today, I gave him a bath to wash the urine out of his coat where he had been laying. While I was sitting on the floor, brushing and drying, some bright yellow urine dripped on my leg. Lightbulbs came on and I realized that while he had not actually peed in a couple of days, he was slow leaking the entire time.  I had thought he was just wetting the bed, but all of a sudden, I was just as sure I had been wrong. I called the vet back and we went over right away. I thought perhaps there was a blockage preventing him from going.  For the first time since this whole thing started, I felt a sense of urgency, like I could and should do something sooner rather than later - and that it might have some (even short term) effect. 

Alex weighed in at 63 lbs.  Wasn't that long ago he was 52.7. I knew there was no way that was good, with his bones still showing alarmingly. Dr. Collette felt his abdomen and said he felt distended. They took x-rays in the back room. Dr C came out and took me back to look. "Not good," he said quietly.  Alex's stomach was filled with blood.  He said he was surprised he had looked/acted so good when we came in, seeing this blood now. 

There was only one decision to make and time was no longer on our side. We all kissed Alex good-bye and held him, letting him go on his way to join his old friends. 
I did have them send the blood and samples to Tufts. It is all I can do for the next Tervuren and their people. Maybe someday.

Thank you, ♡

Mailman alert!

 Alex had to go out and watch the mailman just now, to be sure he left stuff in the right place?  He barked at him, then went to the top of the hill to watch out.  Got the blood moving! :)

  Warming up out there. 37 now, going up to 40?

  He has not eaten much today.  Lots of samples on the floor, ready for him to chow down. He did help me eat sausage this morning.  Whatever works.

We did walk a bit after this photo, and saw Matt (mailman) on Summit.  We did not know that would be Alex's last walk at the time. I am not at all sure how he kept going.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I find myself writing more frequently, now more than ever in Alex's short life.
Maybe because changes are coming faster and faster.  Alex ate about half of what I left him this morning, between chicken/rice, kibble (none of that) and Ensure.  He was not excited when I gave him fresh chicken/rice after our walk at 5. He makes an effort to pee on our walks, but shoots air, I think.  We did walk again when I got home from work. He is still ready to go, although we set at a leisurely pace.

I have washed all his bedding and mine tonight. He has been outside twice since our walk, at his request. Still, he is again wet from laying on his side, fresh urine. The second time he came in (it is dark and not enough light to see anything outside) there was evidence of throwing up at least bile.

I offered him cottage cheese, which he has been enjoying thoroughly this week. He looked at me like I was crazy! Why would I give him that???  Finally, I had a brainstorm and gave him a plate with a teaspoon of blue cheese dressing spread on it. Ahhh, finally something he would get up for! He licked the plate clean and said thank you! :)

Alex had a Cerenia this morning and a prednisone. I was hoping this would help. Does not seem to have improved his day by much.

I am off tomorrow, so we will have the day. To walk, go shopping for his favorite things - whatever they are at the moment - and spend the day together. Should be over 40 degrees and sunny, so a good day to wander together or take a nap. :)

Alex ate boiled chicken last night, with vigor!
It was not enough to actually give him a bowel movement this morning. We walked slowly around the block, but only a squirt or two.  Ok, dog folk will understand. The rest of you shouldn't be reading this. :)

I have chicken and rice left for him, along with another bowl of Ensure. Not sure what he will feel like eating today... he has not shown the slightest interest so far. I gave him Cerenia before we walked, hopefully it will kick in soon.

Alex also wet the bed last bed. Yes, he is just not getting up in past couple of days. Too tired or does not feel it? I am not sure.

He is resting in his crate now. I don't close the door - don't even put him there. Since he started feeling sick, he just goes in sometimes. This is a new habit, he never went into the crate just to "hang" before. Carlos (my last dog) always did. Perhaps there is some comfort there in the small space while I am gone.

See you tonight Alex! And on webcam later when you move to the pillow or couch. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Alex was pretty perky when I got home today. He must have enjoyed the extra company of Nancy's cleaning visit. Nancy said she had to bribe him to come back inside when she was done. :)
He ate well, still never finished the mackerel from this morning. Guess he just doesn't like that.  :(

Good eater tonight!

out to work today -

Today, I must go to the office.
Alex will sleep, leaving him egg and mackerel for breakfast.  Not my choice, but the Kit is circling.

Nancy will come to clean this afternoon, then Loraine across the street will be sure he is in and comfy when she leaves.  I have left some Ensure and kids meals for them to give Alex. It is a guessing game what he will be hungry for - and when.

I would leave, but right now he is sitting on the back hill. Just sitting.  It is 27 degrees outside and I want to be sure he is in before I leave, but don't want to rush him. If it were warmer and 4 months ago, I would have let him stay out until Nancy got here. Not so much anymore...

I called Libbye last night to ask if incontinence would be part of this process. I had "found" some areas not quite dry.  Then I remembered I had given him a butt washing. Of course he was wet. She still said yes.  This morning, he was waiting for me to finish dressing and laying on the sheets I had stripped from the bed. There were wet spots when he got up. Confirmed, he is leaking a bit.

I think he is done with his survey. Almost.  Woops, he saw me, here he comes. :)

Off I go!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Alex and I are working from home today (TGI-Monday's!).

Went out to Kroger for Pepsi this morning. A girl needs her caffeine to do her best. :)

Alex's days of levitation - rock wall and in/out of SUV are over. He goes up and into the car because he is excited to go. But when we get home, he hesitates. Does not want me to lift him down, but he is so tentative and must be encouraged.

Making some corned beef hash and eggs for lunch. Alex will get a chance to try that egg.  Fingers crossed.  He had some baby-food chicken wieners and Ensure for breakfast. That took three or more sessions to finish.  Been napping since.

The Cerenia is keeping him from throwing up, but I am not sure his stomach is completely calm, based on his appetite.

I can report that his head is down and he is diving! into that bowl of egg, hidden in a little taste of hash, covered with the wash from the Ensure bottle. I know, sounds iffy to us, but he is loving it!    All gone!  :)

I am putting Bach's Rescue Remedy and Mimulus into the water. I figure it cannot hurt, and it makes me feel better.  The cat seems to like it, too.

Still giving generic Prilosec in the afternoon to alleviate the bowel disease. Night time throwing up seems to have stopped.

Special note for today... Alex had diarrhea on our walk, which later necessitated a "butt-bath."  He is very compliant on baths, jumps (slowly today) onto the shelf in the shower and places himself at as close to the right height as possible, while keeping his face out of the spray.  We cleaned up, then we trimmed, as it will probably get worse before it gets better. I should have done it the other way around.  I don't have a blower, per se, so did not want to get him more wet than necessary.

We came down to eat after, me thinking of the various goodies I have bought for him. Today was mackerel.  He loved the juice -  and the sour cream for his evening Prilosec. Has not done so much with the actual mackerel, but Kit is eyeing it greedily. I gave Kit a dish of juice to make him happy. Juice is usually all he really wants.  After half hour or so, Alex has eaten about half (quarter cup) of the mackerel.  Resting now. I think he will get back into it, so added more water. He does seem to be slurping smelly/water/juice pretty well.

9pm. Alex's bowl was finally emptied. :)  So glad he is eating, even if it takes longer...........................................................

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Slow day, I worked, Alex slept

I am on duty this weekend, so signed on the computer from 7:30 - 4 both Saturday and Sunday. Alex and I were up about 7, but both of us moving slowly.

Alex is not overly hungry today, even walking away from his favorite yogurt. I added a prednisone today, hoping to improve his appetite and attitude, but it didn't do a lot. We did take two walks around the neighborhood. Nice and easy. Balmy day, over 60! Not your normal January!

Our gas fireplace upgrade (to direct vent) is complete. I asked Alex to stand in front for a photo - ok, I asked him to lay down, but he was not feeling it. His eyes look miserable here, so I clicked and released  quickly.

He has a new appreciation for dairy - yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese. I am guessing that may be half his intake these days.  He has been holding food down since starting the cerenia. Glad to show he showed a little weight gain when we visited the vet office this week.

On one of our walks today, we saw a mailman in the neighborhood. Not our regular one, but he knows us.  Alex was "ears up" and checking to be sure if it was Matt. I guess he figured not worth screaming at him if it was not his arch enemy.  He likely does not realize all the special things Matt brings to him!

Best of the new year to anyone reading this.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Warming up in Cincinnati

Off today, just walked around the block with Alex.
Glad the rain quit! Quite nice out now!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Dark outside, movies inside, we all share the couch

Good Appetite this afternoon

Alex ate a good lunch of kibble and cottage cheese today. First clean plate I have seen in a while.
I am sure the kibble (Nature's Recipe) is rougher on his stomach than it should be, but glad he is getting the nourishment.

He has stumbled a couple of times today. I trimmed his pads yesterday, thinking it was from too much hair, sliding.  Will have to watch for that.

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Dog Cancer Diet, recommended to me by Deb Eldredge

So many thoughts

Does Alex look wistful to you?
So many thoughts go through my head lately. While driving, sleeping, trying to sleep.

It is just over two months since I first took Alex to the vet, afraid for the answers, but sure we needed to know. Once diagnosed with gastric carcinoma and inflamed bowel disease, he stayed pretty much the same. Just rested longer and deeper. Still screamed at the mailman, bounced at the back door when going out, wrestled daily with the cat, dove into the collar if a walk was mentioned. He was eating well, only throwing up every 4 days or so, easy to forget, ignore, dream that he would stay a long time - like I always thought he would.

I held off on extra mediations as long as I could. Starting with only generic Prilosec and Pepto. When he started vomiting two times a day, we added the cerenia, as needed.

Just in the last 4-5 days, this has changed. He does not want to eat -  even that "great canned stuff!"  He walks away from the bowl and lets the cat nibble.  This is heartbreaking for a dog that always ate with gusto and was a charter member of the clean plate club. I made a couple batches of what I am calling Alex-stew. Ground turkey, mashed carrots, rice, and such. He does not want that anymore, either. Funny, I put down dry kibble that he has not had 6 weeks and he dug right in, for a minute.

I talked to Dr. Collette at Park Hills Animal Hospital and Dr. Libbye Miller, among others. We started the cerenia daily and I made a trip to Kroger for baby food, more cottage cheese, sour cream and such to tempt him.  He dives in, but does not stay long. Wanders off or just lays down and sleeps.  Like an old person who forgets what he was doing.

Alex is still ready to go, if only I will say the word. He loves to say hi to the neighborhood and ride in the car. He jumps up slowly, no longer levitating like he used to.  Oddly, he is uncertain about jumping out of the suv now - more like what I would associate with sight or depth perception than stomach distress. Soon, I will be lifting him down. Sadly, that will not be an issue, as he continues to lose weight.

He is resting now at my feet, having eaten a little bit of sweet potato baby food. The floor looks like some old lady's floor with 20 cats, little bowls of bits all over. I only give a taste, then let him eat as he will.  Hours later, I clean up what is left before we go to bed. The fridge has several open cans, waiting for another try.

I decided to add this to Alex's blog for two reasons:  it is part of his story, so needs to be here and I could not find an expectation of what would happen anyplace else. I do not have the courage to ask any of the vets or surgeons what the prognosis is for Alex. I often cannot talk about it at all. But I do need to share somehow. Maybe this will help someone else.

As Alex continues to get all my attention, I want to thank the wonderful Tervuren folks that have helped me over recent weeks.  We have many wonderful veterinarians that gladly give of their time, talents and compassion to help me and Alex.  Dr. Libbye Miller, Dr. Cathy Greenfield and Dr. Deb Eldredge.

As Alex and I explore the rest of his days, hold your own close. Share a moment and build a life with them. God bless.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Jan 2, wake up to urping

I woke up at 2am-ish, to Alex padding downstairs to throw up. Again at 5 or 6.
This makes two days with twice in the early morning hours. Rest of daytime seems to be ok.

I fed him the canned Halo this morning. I think he nosed it, but then he left the rest for Kit. Not usual for him to let Kit get into his bowl while he is a dog's length away. The last couple days, he has taken at least two "sittings" to eat one cup of food.  I hope he is ok while I am at work today. Thankful for webcam.

He sleeps all day, so that is a good thing.