JMT Day 11 and 12 – June 11 and 12, 2012 – VVR Part 1 – The Staff!

Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) – Two Full Zero Days!

VVR on Facebook

7900 (+/- 0) – 0.0 miles

Free Maps Online – Day 11 and 12 – Map 10

Photos Open to the Public on Facebook

Let me just say, I love VVR. We ate a ton of good food. We drank many a fine beer from the incredible selection of fine beer there. And we met so many fantastic folks.

I developed deeper connections with more of the staff than I did with most of the other hikers – probably because the staff is there every day, Jake and I were there for at least part of 4 days, and most hikers were there for a day or a day and a half. These are my VVR peeps! (I don’t think I missed anyone, but if I did – Big Sorry!)

Marie, Olive, Kevin, Jim, Vicky, Gary, Randy, Rene, John, Robert, Mark, Joe, Roy – and the 4 leggers, Feather, Emma, and Stella.

Marie helped us get settled-in, took care of our many requests with a smile, and we had some nice chats about life and school. One of the amazing parts of her brain allows her to remember everyone’s name, trail name, nickname, and who is with who. Marie gave me a little notebook that I used the rest of the trip and to which I have referred often while writing this. I fall at least a little bit in love with almost every waitress. You give me a super cute one named Marie and it is Game Over. From my previous super-cute-waitress-Marie-love-experience, I was already playing some tracks from Harvest Moon in my head when Jake leaned over at breakfast one morning and sang quietly, “I used to order just watch her float across the floor.” Jake and I both had a big Marie Crush, and I would imagine many hikers leave there in a similar state. We could not find Marie to say goodbye to before leaving for the ferry and were sad about that until we saw her come running down to the lake (cue the music!) to give us farewell wishes and hugs!

Olive is a unique and wonderful lady that I enjoyed both sparring and actually talking with. We talked about life, school, travel, books, dogs, people, and many other things. There are tons of fantastic Olive moments and I will put one or two down here to give the flavor. One day, many non-hiking folks showed up around lunch time. There was a table of college-age looking guys near our customary spot at the outdoor bar. Olive came out, looked at us, and said (rather loudly) “I am so tired of pretending to be nice to people!” I think that put those dudes on their best behavior. One of our greatest and most public sparring sessions was at breakfast one morning. The room was not full, but there were at least 6 other folks eating breakfast at the time, and Olive started talking about how gross milk is. We went back and forth a bit, with me taking the side that milk is natural and no weirder than pretty much anything else about eating. Olive maintained that it is different and gross and weird because it is special food made for babies. Out of the blue she changed tactics and asked, “Would you drink a woman’s breast milk? Would you drink Marie’s breast milk?” In a rare fit of self-control, I kept the first two or three things I thought of in my head and only responded with a smile, “You are just sweetening the pot here Olive.” The room responded with joyous and approving laughter. Olive made one final attempt to regain her footing by approaching a distinguished looking hiker and trying to recruit him to her side. Grey Wolf was smiling and shrugged saying, “I agree with everything he just said.” Oh man, we had fun. Good Times. Olive and I have stayed in touch and i look forward to our next chance to visit one another!

Kevin is a wonderful Chef and a great guy. He cooked us many fine meals and seemed to enjoy the challenge/variety of cooking for vegetarians. He busted out his cookbooks and capped our great string of meals with some fantastic fried eggplant! I don’t usually enjoy eggplant, fried or otherwise, but this was super. He and I spent part of several evenings talking about cooking and travel and life. Before we left, Kevin realized that we were going to tell everyone we met how awesome VVR is, how awesome the food is, and that there were quite a few #6 breakfasts in his future. Kevin rode over on the ferry with us on our way out on the last day.

Jim, Vicky, and I talked about VVR, hiking, dogs, the VVR website and marketing, as well as other lighter stuff. They were both gracious and welcoming and maintain such a friendly vibe at their place.

Gary and I talked for a long time every evening sitting around the fire and covered a ton of topics.

Randy and I talked about skateboarding, growing up, mentoring kids, and hiking.

I got to spend less time talking with the others, but enjoyed the time I did share with Robert, Rene, Mark, John, Joe and Roy. I did get to watch John training Mark on the ferry and he seemed like a good and patient teacher. One day I heard Marie saying that she wished there was a way she could open the sliding glass door with her foot as she came outside with many plates of food in her arms. I thought that i was the only on that heard her. But, within an hour, Joe was there with some cut-to-fit angle iron and affixed it to the door and now she can open it with her foot! These are all great folks dedicated to doing a good job and helping each other. It was a joy to witness.

Feather is a lover and will accept love from anyone. I got some nice dog time in with her.

Emma seemed more selective than Feather, unless you wanted to throw her ball. We played ball for about an hour one day.

Stella is more discerning. I got to pet her a few times, but did not make it into her inner circle.

Stay Tuned for VVR Part 2 – The Hikers!

Lucas has moved on.

After some great recovery and improvement, Lucas took a sudden downturn this week.

March 22nd Hike 1
March 22nd Hike 1

He was scheduled for a full blood workup Monday, March 26th, so he had to fast after dinner Sunday night. This kind of testing requires an initial blood draw, then a second after one hour, and a third after another hour.

When we got home from the last round he was famished. He was funny to watch Monday morning before the appointment. He kept going back and forth between me and Jake and all the places where food and treats live – “Surely I have indicated my interest in eating!?”

So he ate a big bowl of food and a little yogurt Monday evening.

March 22nd Hike 2
March 22nd Hike 2

Tuesday morning, he did not touch his breakfast. He did eat a few treats throughout the day. He was happy and smiley at the park and around the house. But Tuesday evening, he was not interested in dinner, neither his dry food nor the yogurt. And throughout the day he was trembling. These were not like seizures, just a constant mild shaking, like when you are too cold. I did get a call in to the vet and the Doc called me back and said that I should just keep an eye on it but not to worry too much unless he did go into a full seizure, and we could reevaluate once the blood work results came in.

Wednesday morning he also did not eat breakfast. He did still eat some treats, but he was not interested in “food”. He seemed otherwise fine throughout the day, but when he was again uninterested in his dinner, I decided to cook him an egg. He ate one scrambled egg and seemed excited and pleased about it, so I cooked him a second egg. This one I put on top of his dry food and he ate that egg and some of the kibble. There was almost zero shaking on Wednesday. But a few hours after the eggs, he threw  it all back up.

Thursday morning he was fine at the park, but would not eat again when we got home. This time, he would not even eat treats. He was getting listless. After I finished cleaning the house and we did a second trip to the park, he did a few things he does not usually do. He went into the backyard by himself – kinda just looking around, then he came back inside and went into every area of the house then just laid down in Jake’s room. It did feel to me even then that he was trying to find Jake to say goodbye.

He threw up again that afternoon. Jake and I spent a lot of time just laying on the floor hugging him. The tremors came back. I busted out the big guns, Chicken Tenders, which are nothing but dried chicken breast. He ate the first one quickly and seemed excited so I fed him chicken tenders until he was not interested anymore. I slept in the living room on the floor with him until about 3 or 4 AM. He vomited twice during the night. He was not moving very well. When I moved to my bed, he followed me in and went to sleep beside my bed – something he does not do very often anymore.

This morning, Friday March 20th, we went to the park and he would not get out of the car. I picked him up and set him down on his feet on the pavement and he walked on in to the park, drank some water, and walked just a little bit. He was really not moving well  at this point. As we moved towards the exit, he stopped and laid down. I had to carry him to the car. When we got back to the house, again he would not get out of the car.

I came inside and got Jake up and told him what was going on and that I was going to the vet, but that he might want to go sit in the car with Lucas for a few minutes, because I was not sure that we were both coming back.

They sat together a minute while I grabbed a few things in case we were there all day. I headed to the vet and Jake met us there about 15 minutes later.

I left Lucas in the car and went in to see if/when someone could see us. They got our vet to come in earlier than he was scheduled, and set up a room in the back that would give me the shortest distance to carry Lucas. When i got back out to the car, there was more vomit. I did have to carry him in, but he stood up a few minutes then laid back down. Jake arrived, the vet came in and we talked for a while, then I asked the vet just to leave us alone to think and talk a bit.

I had told Jake back at the house that I thought this might be it, and that I wanted to hear some options from the vet, but that I did not think I was going to do anything like a few days of IV fluids with Lucas stuck in a cage at the vet. I did not want that to be what his last days were like.

The vet had said that we would not be able to know too much until we did some blood work, and took some x-rays, and maybe did a few other tests depending on those findings. I asked him what kinds of treatments would there be. Without having done the tests first, obviously he could not say for sure, but certainly two to three days of fluids and some medications via IV to get him nourished and stop the vomiting. Again, he could not say for sure until looking more, but from the symptoms and the feel of the belly, he was leaning towards tumors.

Jake and I spent some time alone with Lucas again – just holding him and rubbing him and talking with him. After a while, we decided that it was time to let go. Two techs came to take him in the back to get a catheter put in, then return him to the room with us where the doc would give the final shot. Lucas did not want to get up, so the techs carried him on the comforter I had brought in from the car for him to lay on.

He passed easy and seemed relieved. Very similar to when Guthrey passed, as soon as he could feel the effects he turned his head to me and nuzzled my face.

Reunited in the clearing at the end of the path
Reunited in the clearing at the end of the path

I might say more on this later, for now I just wanted folks to know.

A La Carte

I may actually get back to some more regular posting. Things are beginning to mellow out a bit on Bumblebee so i will have more time to both collect and share my thoughts. And, i will have more time to get into a few projects.

Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 1
Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 1

Today is the 28th day on the new meds for Lucas and things are really going well. He is drinking a normal amount of water again, he has been doing more running in the park, and he has tried to engage a few dogs in play. He is still an old guy, but he is getting some increased mobility. I don’t know if that is due to getting off of the Phenobarbital, a positive side effect of the new meds, or just the result of feeling better in general. But he is beginning to do some of his old dances and i expect to see him do his happy little skip thing any day now.

Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 2
Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 2

His appetite is also more normal now. He doesn’t seem to have that extreme craving for food that he has had most of the past year as a result of chemical imbalances due to the Cushings. I just switched him to dry food without yogurt in the mornings, and a bowl of yogurt without dry food in the evenings. His digestion has settled back down and his routine is much more like it was a year ago than the roller coaster ride of the past 4 months or so.

Snowy Dog Park
Snowy Dog Park

I will keep the Lucas updates coming, but now for something else – FOOD!

View of Mingus Mountain from the park
View of Mingus Mountain from the park

I love to cook and have made a ton of food since i came out to AZ, but i have primarily made the same three to four dishes over and over. With some of the hardships behind us – i can focus on some new recipes and varying our menu. So i plan to have some more cooking tales for you. Dovetailed with the cooking tales – shopping tales. My favorite place out here has to be the local Safeway. I always leave that place with a big smile and a story or two. The vegetable section is pretty good, but we did just get our very own Trader Joe’s which should be able to supplement any ingredient holes that Safeway cannot fill.

Friday's Breakfast
Jalapeño cheese grits, black beans with veggies and spices, crunchy tortillas and O.J.

Some of these i already have good recipes for and some still need some research:

Sushi – i have some skill with this using Nori, but want to try my hand at going Nori-free.

Egg Drop Soup – good suggestions for adjustments in the comments!

Hot and Sour Soup – also here

StirFry variants with noodles instead of rice

Fried Rice variants

And an awesome Thai style peanut butter noodles and veggies fry-up my man Raven turned me on to a few years back

Saturday's Stir Fry Prep
Mung bean sprouts, broccoli, radishes, purple cabbage, cubed and fried tofu, baby bells, green bell pepper, grated ginger, chinese snow peas, carrots, red onion, celery, garlic and spices
All together
All together
The Big Salad
The Big Salad

Stay Tuned…

Greetings from Bumblebee!

Hello there interwebz. Back from the void to fill all six of you in on the happenings!

Lucas and I are in Arizona again and having a pleasant time. The last time we were out here, I was not in the best spot and needed some help and my friend Jake said, “come on out man – I got room.”  This time ol’ Jake called up and asked if I could come back out and help him, so I did.

The main concern I had was finding a decent vet for Lucas, and Jake did some great advance work on that front. I took Lucas in to meet the new team, our East Coast vet sent over all the records and lab work and stuff, and we had a long talk and took a bunch of blood. Lucas was fine on the trip out, and was happy to see Jake and remembered many of the places we used to go. But, he started having some “accidents”. I don’t mind the clean-up, I just feel bad for the guy. He had maybe 4 between mid-October and mid-January. Then he had 4 in as many weeks.

Luc's favorite spot in the house
Luc's favorite spot in the house

This team recommended a three pronged approach for Lucas.

1) We are phasing him off of the Phenobarbital. He has been on that since May of 2004 and started on it to control seizures. But he has not had a seizure in a very long time, and his dosage is super low. If there are issues, we can start him back on it.

2) We started him on Trilostane to combat the Cushings’ disease directly. My intricate knowledge of both the disease and the treatment is that this drug is gonna get all up in there and put the flim flam on the sally.

3) We started him on Soloxine as a supplement for his thyroid.

Luc's second favorite spot in the house
Luc's second favorite spot in the house

Monday, 2/20, we started the new meds and cut his phenobarb in half. Next week we cut the pheno in half again, and then stop it. It is hard to say too much after just one week, but these are the results so far:

His appetite is still good.

He is drinking less water (the bowl is not even empty when I get up to take him out at 5:30 AM) and peeing less often and in smaller quantities.

He has not been hyperactive or lethargic (both possible side effects?!?), but he has gone on two hikes of about 3 miles each and one other longer than usual walk.

When you are too tired for rawhide...
When you are too tired for rawhide...

We are hopeful that he will continue to show some further signs of improvement. But, since he did not seem to be in pain, just being able to get through life without peeing on himself will be a huge improvement in his quality of life.

That’s it for now. Howdy from PV.

Windy day at the park
Windy day at the park

Mash

Round the horn update:

Lucas in Coat 1
Lucas in Coat 1

Lucas is doing very well. He is much better than he was in October. I don’t know if it is medical, or if he just likes being the only dog in my world at his advanced age. He is walking 1-3 miles a day now. He is only going out to pee every 3-4 hours now instead of every two. He has only gotten me up in the middle of the night to go out twice in November-December as opposed to at least twice a week in October. He lets me sleep until 7 some days instead of getting me up at 4 or 5. On advice from a pet store lady i am adding yogurt to his meals which is encouraging more licking and slower eating. With the slower eating, he gets less air in his stomach and is MUCH less gassy than he was before i started doing this.

Lucas in Coat 2
Lucas in Coat 2

He is running a little bit some days. He did kill a groundhog on Nov 15th which made him very happy. Mom gave him the turkey heart on Thanksgiving and he was ultra excited. That day he humped Tippit, one of the active dogs in our neighborhood, whom he usually ignores. And Tippit’s mom lent us this fleece doggy coat which he uses on the cold days.

Lucasnote
Lucas note

He is even getting along with the new Vice President of Cleanliness my mom hired.

Toys for Tots Mixer
Toys for Tots Mixer

I re-connected with an old golfing acquaintance to do some networking and planning. He turned me on to this group, and i have been going to a few events and committee meetings to do some personal and professional networking. A few of us showed up to do same day registration for an Arthritis Foundation Charity run – which was hectic and fun! I am gathering info from the local church community to open some new volunteer opportunities for the group with local soup kitchens.

Vance is doing well. He has had no recurrence of whatever weird infection attacked his hand a while back. 14 months after his heart surgery he is doing great. He is back at the gym regularly doing cardio and pumping the old iron.

Pappy is doing OK. It can be hard to gauge his mood sometimes, but his general health has been good, and the numbers related to his diabetes have been consistently in the good zone. It is still difficult-impossible to get him to go out and walk, but we can still trick him into it with Shopping! I take him to Lowes or Wal-Mart and he drives the cart and i drag us back and forth from one side of the store to the other. We have also started going to the huge pet store together because we can take Lucas in there too. Lucas likes to shop for new treats and Pappy likes to look at the fish.

Mom is looking forward to the end of the semester and a little break and some Holiday Cheer. We already had this semester’s piano party at the house for her kids, and she has had a few concerts recently and a few more are on deck. That lady is made of energy!

What’s in my Ears and Eyes lately?

The Pretty Things – S.F. SorrowOne great song from the album

and The Floaters – Float On – You gotta see the moves

Reading The Song of Ice and Fire Series (where Game of Thrones came from) e-book editions via the kindle app on my computer and iPhone. Started Book Three last night and i dig it. Really great Maps!

Watching Legend of The Seeker on the Netflix. It is not too bad. I am interested to check out at least one of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books upon which the TV series is based. I love fantasy books. I read all the classics and then got into the Dragonlance series and Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. Somehow i never picked up Goodkind and another contemporary Robert Jordan and his popular Wheel of Time series. I may have check that out too.

That is the short version. I hope you folks are all doing well and staying warm!

Interlude

I got a call from my sister this morning and an email from a friend this afternoon that helped me recognize an update was in order.

Vance has been discharged from the hospital. I brought him home Monday night. His hand is much better. There is still some pain and stiffness, and he will be on IV antibiotics for one to two more weeks and pills for a week after that – but he is home.

We will never know exactly what caused the odd giant hand syndrome exactly. What they can tell us is that this was most likely a cutaneous infection (something hanging out on his hand) that was introduced into the tissues by the puncture of a splinter.

Big V’s words of wisdom for us all: Hand Sanitizer – frequently!

Lucas is also doing well. He actually seems to be a little better now than he was a month or so ago. He is drinking a little less, has less urgent needs to go out, and is sleeping through the night (or at least until 4 or 5) every night. His hair has not grown back very much, but he did not seem cold in our recent snowstorm. He went on a long walk with my mom yesterday and almost caught two groundhogs. His mobility is still limited, but he is rolling in the grass some and trying to wiggle down the hills on his back. There has even been some limited running.

I put the Saturn on the list of Craig yesterday and had 8 hits inside 5 hours. At least 5 of those folks have had multiple follow-ups and intend to come and see the car. Three made appointments, though one has failed to show. It does not beat my record 6 hours from post-to-sold that i did with my last Explorer in AZ, but it is decent progress. Fingers crossed.

Sending out an Om Namasivaya to all my pals who can’t sleep and/or are overloaded with the stress. I did not make it through my recent time of extreme trial gracefully, but i did make it through.

Many moments in Buffy helped me out as well as two memorable quotes from Coach Eric Taylor:

1) Champions don’t complain. Champions don’t give up. You’re not Champions until you’ve earned it. – Wind Sprints S1 Ep3

2) We are all vulnerable and we will all at some point in our lives – fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts – that what we have is special. That it can be taken from us. And that when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls…It is these times, it is this pain that allows us to look inside ourselves. Pilot S1 Ep 1

Silence Like A Knife

Howdy. Time for some general housekeeping and updates.

Lucas and I are back in PA. He is doing very well, maybe even better than he was a month ago. He is drinking a little less water, and has not been getting me up in the middle of the night more than twice a week. Instead of every two hours, he seems to only need to go out every three hours or so now.

My dad and I finally decided to throw in the towel on my Saturn, and I am now rockin’ out in what one of my friends calls “the nerd car”. Yep. I am stylin’ in a 2008 Prius and lovin’ it. I have cleaned and emptied the Saturn, taken some nice photos, and will be throwin’ that up onto the list of Craig hopefully tonight. It still has a few issues (throttle body and wiring harness) but it runs, the body/frame/interior are in super shape. It has a rebuilt tranny still under warranty, and a new engine still under warranty.

I had a lot of things on my mind and weighing on my being for my last few weeks in NOVA. Under the strain, I went the less productive route of worry and wallow instead of ACTION. Some of that was out of my control, but I did let some things slide. I have gotten out from under most of that weight. I am at least down to mostly only having to deal with my issues and not the issues of others.

I did a ton of writing during that time, but it is not stuff that I can share. I tell you only to say that while I have been silent, I have still been writing. I have not yet finished the conclusion of the tech piece, but I will begin releasing it anyway. The software has been released. Many of you probably already have it and are playing with it. But the set-up, and some of the forecasts on potential future issues may still be interesting to some of you.

The last day I felt able to do personal writing before being overwhelmed by outside forces, instead of writing the tech post conclusion, I started a piece on Epistemology. I love this topic. I have been fascinated by it long before I even knew what it was called, and every bit of study I have done relates in some way back to this topic.

My short-term blog goal is to finish the tech blog conclusion first, and then keep working  on the Epistemology blog as the pre-written tech material posts over the next few days. I cannot project a schedule for you on that as it is a huge topic. My final paper on this back in 1998 was 16 pages, and I barely scratched the surface. I have yet to get my arms around how to bite off small chunks for you here. But it will be good exercise.

Some of the current “other factors” – Vance is back in the hospital, my grandpa is here with us, and my mom is headed out of town. Vance came back from his 45th high school reunion with a severely swollen thumb and pain creeping down his wrist and arm. He was admitted to the hospital Tuesday morning. Nothing showed up on the x-ray or the MRI. After 13 hours or so on an IV, the swelling is reduced and the pain is receding. Nothing indicates a need for surgical intervention, but he will stay in the hospital for at least one more day, maybe more, on the IV until it seems safe to switch him back to antibiotic pills and outpatient care.

Not to make it all about me, but this does put a lot on my plate. Diabetic Pappy needs meds morning and night, blood sugar checks twice a day, shots three times a day, and a meal or snack every 2-3 waking hours. Ol’ Lucas has to walk at least every three waking hours. I need to visit with my pop in the hospital to chat and and bring him stuff. Then there is the acquisition and preparation of food, the cleansing of garments and linens, and everything else. I do not say this to complain. I am happy to help and glad that I happened to be here when such a need arose. But, it does limit my time for the writing.

Oh – and I need to throw my request out to the world for more work.

I have a wide range of experience and a broad skill set, am free to travel again in a few days, and would be happy to come house/pet sit for you while you travel for the holidays – or fix/clean your house for you while you are gone – or just about anything else. Let me know!

I do have some new-ish plans for full-time employment, but i am going to spend the holiday season preparing for that, seeing what happens with Lucas, and hopefully making some pocket money with other temp gigs.

Oh – one Halloween note. Halloween has not been very important to me since i was a lad, but it does mark one milestone for me. I can’t remember exactly when i became a vegetarian, but i know it was in the Fall of 1993. I remember eating meat that summer, living in a school bus with my bud in the mountains outside Lewiston, PA. I remember still eating meat for a while after that summer and cooking bacon for my girlfriend that i mostly lived with back in Richmond. But i know i stopped before we broke up, and she dumped me and threw me out on Halloween 1993. So, Happy 18 meat-free years to me!

Thanksgiving 2008 - Prescott Valley, AZ
Thanksgiving 2008 - Prescott Valley, AZ

Hope you all are well!

No easy way to say it…

Lucas is dying, sooner than later. Near as we can figure it, he turns 16 this November. He has been on phenobarbital to control seizures since April of 2004. He had has first seizure the night Guthrey “moved on to the clearing at the end of the path”. (Thanks to Stephen King for the image and the phrase.) Jake and I were asleep with Lucas in the bed that Guthrey died on and were awoken by the tremors.

My Desktop Wallpaper while in India
My Desktop Wallpaper while in India

We do a blood test every 6 months to monitor the level of phenobarbital in his blood, and to track the effect on his liver. His liver numbers have been higher than a “normal” dog, but within expected parameters for his situation. The blood work we did on Sept 29 showed a marked increase, from about 600 six months ago to over 1,000 now.

Lucas in RVA 2010
Lucas in RVA 2010

We did some further tests and he has Chushings disease. This takes many forms and has many symptoms. In Lucas’ case, he has had a severe and rapid decrease in his activity levels over the past 6 months. His belly looks a little swollen or distended. His hair is not growing back very well. Since 2006, I have either cut his hair, or had it cut two or three times between April and September, and he always grows a nice thick coat back before the frosts, cold, and snow return. This year I cut his hair only once, in late April or early May, and his hair is still only about ¼ – ½ inch long over most of his body.

Bonding time in NOVA - 2011
Bonding time in NOVA - 2011

The disease manifests in one of two areas (or both); a problem in the brain that tells the adrenal glands to produce too much of something, or a problem with the gland itself or the liver (we are passing beyond the scope of my understanding at this point). You determine which area is the culprit by doing an ultrasound of the belly. If you find something, then you know you need to do abdominal surgery and probably remove a bad mass and part of the liver. If you do not see anything abnormal on the ultrasound, you use a kind of Chemotherapy pill and hope it selectively kills the correct bad cells.

Atop "Little Sluice" in the Northern Appalachian Range
Atop "Little Sluice" in the Northern Appalachian Range

Otherwise healthy dogs can be treated and live for up to about 4 years. The treatments are not easy and do carry significant risks on their own. We have decided not to pursue either of these options for Lucas. Even if the surgery itself were successful in dealing with the problem, there is a large risk that a dog his age would die on the table, or not come back after being under anesthesia for a few hours. I don’t think that the odds of him surviving the recovery period of serious abdominal surgery are very high either, and feel that this route would only decrease his quality of life. And we are not putting him through Chemotherapy at his age, and given his current happy temperament.

Cooling down at the top of Crabtree Falls
Cooling down at the top of Crabtree Falls

Another thing that you tend to check when a dog has the symptoms Lucas exhibits is the thyroid. We took blood for that test as well, but the results for the Cushings test came back first. When the thyroid test comes back it could be that he also has a problem there.

At "The Priest" shelter on the AT
At "The Priest" shelter on the AT

All that said, he is doing pretty good. He does not seem to be in pain. He enjoys his life. He doesn’t walk as far as he used to. I have not seen him run for a few months (though he will jog when it strikes him, or when he smells groundhogs) and he can’t do that little happy skip thing he does when he is excited to see someone – but all of that could also just be age. He can still jump in and out of the car mostly unassisted.

Jake and Lucas and Guthrey at the Chimbo 2000-ish.
Jake and Lucas and Guthrey at the Chimbo 2000-ish.

We plan to continue to shower him with love, do what we can to make this phase of his life as comfortable as can be, and look for his signal when he is ready to move on and play with Guthrey in the clearing and wait there for me and Jake. I am trying to stay happy and positive around Lucas and wait until later to do my grieving.

J,Big G, and L at the Chimbo.
J,Big G, and L at the Chimbo.

I do not have any understanding of the timeline involved here, though I am in contact with my vet to try and get a picture of what to look for – this is all still pretty new. Chusings is degenerative and tends to lead to organ failure. My awesome vet, Dr. Bill, told me yesterday that he has looked at each month we get with Lucas as a gift for several years now. When we leave the office after every 6 month check-up, he has not really expected to see us make it to the next one. That makes it extra difficult for him to try and read the tea leaves to say when Lucas will be ready to move on.

One of our walks in Millersville PA
One of our walks in Millersville PA

Lucas has many nicknames and my favorite, aside from “Fluffy Pants”, was coined by a child with a beautiful mind. Kelly’s daughter called me “sleepover guy” after Lucas and I visited with them for a few weeks in the summer of 2009. “Sleepover Dog” and I do plan to do some traveling between now and the end of the holiday season and I hope that he gets to see all his favorite folks. We have to go back to Richmond and let him see his birthplace and his first indoor home and all his friends there. That will be a short visit near October 21stas we pass through on the way to VA Beach for a little more construction work at Kristen Menefee Runberg’s place.

Our only dispute - that dog loves the cold and the snow.
Our only dispute - that dog loves the cold and the snow.

Where we go from there depends on where I can get the next paying gig. (More on that soon but in a separate post – offers welcome!)

Mason District Park 2007
Mason District Park 2007

I have tried to contact all his favorite bipeds by phone, but this is hard for me and I am sure that I missed some of you. Please don’t take offense if you did not get the call – I do what I can manage.

Chillin'
Chillin'

Lucas touched a lot of lives and brought love and joy to each one. I just thought you folks should know.

My boy
My boy

In Between Posts

I swear, i was having such a good day.

This is not the start of the tech series, just more filler. I have not abandoned that project, but even for me, sometimes life has other plans for how we get to spend our time.

The first 9-10 pages are solid, the next 2-3 are close, and i need to do some more on the conclusion. I could have begun releasing it on schedule, but i don’t like to do that – release some before the whole is finished. What if something in the conclusion needs some more supporting evidence? Or if i decide that the beginning is too tedious (even for my writing style) which it probably is, and decide to trim some fat?

Lucas and i are back in PA to handle some life admin. It was a good day knocking down the chores, for a while.

There we are on our quick walk around the block. I have the headphones in because i am not in the mood to chat with random folks today. I had another really upsetting encounter with one of my neighbors just being kind of a general “bitca” and it made me mad. I had even put the leash on Lucas to avoid this kind of thing. But these people don’t feel that they need much of an excuse i guess. I was not at all polite, but remained semi-calm and completely non-violent, so that’s a plus.

I need a little something both angrier and more triumphant (i am starting with Nazi Mind Reader and then just lettin’ it play through – you gotta make your own call – warning – RPG’s MC is unafraid of the big-boy words).

I would love to renew my driver’s license online, but there is no security on the PA DMV website. (Hackers have fun!) So there may be a money order in my future and the security of the US mail. Given that i can’t do it online, i may go in to get a new pic as well since i have about 40 pounds less hair these days. Actually kinda surprised that was not a requirement.

I still can’t find some of the physical records i left up here as everything has been moved around. I need to find those receipts, or pay $535 bucks i don’t have (that i have already paid once) to the IRS by the 22nd.

I am not so sure that yesterday was the right time to re-quit smoking after all. No, it is going to be OK – deep breaths, count to 5 million…

Quick Update

The Tech series is coming along nicely. I am through all the back story and working on the capabilities of new tech and how to use them and the view to “the future”. I expect to finish it this weekend and begin releasing an episode a day on Monday, maybe sooner if i have enough time to write and edit. If you ever wonder what tech guys do, or why they think that watching videos of conferences and reading articles should qualify as paid work time, or what the heck a CIO/CTO does – you are about to find out!

The dogs are all doing well. The training continues and with few set backs, everyone is developing nicely. Last night we had another successful three dog romp on the beach and a leash free walk home for all three boys. They did super.

We have a slight delay on the Man Box Vocal booth project, but nothing can defeat the unified force of The Schmied and the Fro.

Lucas and I are preparing for a quick trip to PA to see my folks, acquire some fall appropriate clothing, collect my golf clubs to help me get in shape for a tournament on the 26th, and handle some life admin stuff like driver’s license renewal and fun letters from the IRS.

I hope you all are well and enjoy the break in the rain today!

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