A Year Searching For a Dog Part 2 – Introducing Agent Cooper

I picked up this small, cute, black terrier mutt that at the time I was calling Toto, since that’s the closest dog he looked like. His first night at the house was filled with energy and a lot of humping. Our dog Wicket was humping him waaaayyyy too much — I guess trying to show who was the king of the household. Then Toto kept trying to hump my arm. That night Toto was still somewhat of a man, as the next morning he was scheduled to be neutered at animal services.

Scruffy pound mutt looking at the pound from the outside.

Scruffy pound mutt looking at the pound from the outside.

 

That next morning I drove him back and he had to stay there for the day getting his surgery. I picked him up later that day after recovery and he was acting like nothing had happened. Later that night I did notice that I wasn’t getting humped…

This little fella and our dogs instantly got along with each other. Even Belmont, our old anti-social lady, was tolerating him. The other foster dogs and our dogs never got along like this, so we were super happy. He was also interested in hanging out with us and being close and snuggly, which for me is the main thing I am looking for in a dog now.

The next day, we were lounging on the couch and I started to notice that his head was spasming to the left and right. He didn’t have any control over this, and after each spasm he’d move to another position to try and get comfortable. I put a call into animal services to report this to see if I could get their vets to look into this. They were slammed, so I wasn’t getting a call back. Our vet said they’d see him even though I was just fostering him. I showed them a video of his spams and they couldn’t pinpoint it directly. They said that it was most likely something related to seizures. They told me to monitor his limbs, jaw, etc. for shaking to see if he has a seizure in the future.

I brought him home and within twenty minutes I noticed his bottom draw opening and closing rapidly. He also began peeing. I got him back in the car and back to the vet. They did some initial blood work and gave me seizure meds as well as emergency meds for bad attacks.

Waiting for the blood results :(

Waiting for the blood results 🙁

 

During the course of all this, we made up our minds to adopt this little guy. There was no way in hell I wasn’t adopting a dog that was sweet, friendly, cuddly, and suffering from something I’ve experienced. I wanted a seizure dog, and in a funny way, I got one. He just doesn’t detect them ;). Now he and I need a seizure dog! I felt that if he went back to animal services someone wouldn’t adopt him due to his condition. He didn’t need to run the risk of being put down, he needed care. So we went to animal services this very morning and adopted him, and gave him his official name, which we’d been thinking about over the past few days — Agent Cooper, or Cooper/Coop for short.

Cooper resting from all this transitional stress after getting adopted.

Cooper resting from all this transitional stress after getting adopted.

 

One last note, if you don’t know who Agent Cooper is from Twin Peaks, you are missing out on knowing one swell coffee-and-pie-loving guy. See a snippet of Coop in action with his positive attitude. That’s why our little guy is named after him.

A Year Searching For a Dog Part 1

Shortly after the GBM discovery last year, I was really interested in finding a support dog. If you’re a friend, you know how much I love dogs, so it didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted a support dog to help me out. It’s hard to find a seizure detection dog, but that was the kind that I was interested in because you know, it sucks when you have a seizure and you’re not prepared. I was also interested in one that was considered an emotional support animal. Until recently I was stuck in the house because I was unable to drive. You kinda go a little crazy with cabin fever.

So we started looking around at places that raised and trained support dogs. Alex put in calls and talked to folks, but received responses of a sort she wasn’t expecting. In the best cases, she was met with sympathetic people that tried to find a nice way of saying that they wouldn’t provide a dog to a person with a terminal condition. They’d throw in that there was a long waiting list (usually 1-5 years) , so hey, by the time my application would get reviewed, I’d be past this life and hanging with my much-loved family dog, Nickel. Then there were the places that just seemed irritated that we’d even request a support animal given that I was supposed to die soon. It seemed like they felt it was a selfish request. Seemed like they were saying, “Man, you’re as good as dead, so get the f$~* out of line so we can help someone that’s gonna be around a little longer.”

Given the unlikeliness that we would be able to get a trained support dog, we looked into what it would take to begin training one of our own. I ordered training videos, did a ton of research, and we located a great breeder of goldendoodle dogs in Ocala. Once the litter of pups was of age, we picked up our dog, but unfortunately we were the last in line for that litter. We named our dog P-nut. Be prepared for a cute attack.

P-nut the energy ball that could power a nation.

P-nut the energy ball that could power a nation.

 

There were two issues we experienced with our plan. 1] You know a pup is going to have a lot of energy, but P-nut seemed like he had an entire litter full of energy in him. During his training course at Petsmart for some of the basics, the teacher was surprised by the energy of this little ball of fur. Our other dogs kept getting super upset with him.  2] Over the time we were training him, I realized that my health was preventing me from putting in what I needed to. We ended up calling the breeder we got him from, and he was able to get him into a big family that lives on the beach. So he’s running crazy on some beach in Florida now.

We changed our expectations. We couldn’t get a pre-trained support dog, and we couldn’t train one ourselves. We started focusing on looking for a dog that would be more of an unofficial emotional support animal. Months after the failed teamup with P-nut, we decided to begin fostering so we could see determine if the new dog would get along with our other two pups and would be chill and friendly. We began fostering a dog named Rainy from Alachua Animal Services.

Rainy enjoying a nice getaway from animal services.

Rainy enjoying a nice getaway from animal services.

 

While we were fostering Rainy, we enjoyed how sweet she was. She was always just flopping on my feet or climbing up the dog stairs to our bed and flopping near me like she was a small dog. We were about to adopt her, but the day before we did, she snapped over bed turf and viciously attacked Wicket. She grabbed him by the throat and began thrashing. Alex and I were able to pry Rainy off Wicket, but it wasn’t easy. While he was a little bloody, Wicket’s cuts were not serious. We were so scared that night because for a short time we thought we were about to lose one of our best friends. We took Rainy back to animal services and provided good imagery of her along with an updated description detailing that, though she’s as sweet as peaches, she’d have to go to a house without other animals. It took months, but animal services let us know that an older couple finally adopted her.

Due to the scare, it took us a few more months until we felt comfortable fostering another dog. Before fostering again Alex put forth another wave of inquiries to support dog breeders and trainers to see if our chances would be better. They were not, and she heard the same lines as last year. Our next foster dog was a hound mix named Conga who we fostered from the Alachua Humane Society.

Conga the energetic houndmix that liked smaller dogs.

Conga the energetic hound mix that liked smaller dogs.

 

Conga was a people person who wanted to make sure she was doing the right thing. Over the time we were fostering her, whenever we’d say “un-uh” if she’d done something wrong, she’d instantly submit and roll over on her back. We’d always tell her not to worry so much. Like P-nut, though, she was a dog full of energy that she couldn’t release within my docile lifestyle. We knew she’d be happier in a more active family. I’m looking forward to hearing about her getting adopted. She’ll be adopted easily because she’s so obviously a cute and friendly dog.

We then went back to animal services to see if they had any smaller, calmer dogs that we could foster. There were three that had just come in that we were interested in fostering, but we had to wait for them to get their heartworm tests back before we could take one home. We got the call that a small mutt had gotten a clean heartworm test result and was ready to be picked up. I rushed on over and picked him up. I’ll let you know what happens in the next post.

The Beach, Belmont’s Surgery, the Job, and New Chemo

Wow, that’s a long title for this. That’s what I get for not posting recently. 1st and most importantly is a track to listen to while you’re reading (some summer synthwave). Not that it has anything to do with anything I’m writing.

The Beach


Last week we were able to finally push aside the things that were keeping us from getting out of town for a bit. We went on a family beach vacation down to New Smyrna. The condo that we stayed in was dog friendly, which meant the whole family was able to come along ^_^.  The only problem we had is that Volusia county doesn’t allow dogs on the beaches. You have to find a state park that allows dogs on the beach, which for us was New Smyrna Dunes. Seeing the dogs play in the water was my favorite part of vacation. Belmont got better at balancing on a boogie board. On our attempts to let her catch small waves, she was wagging. Wicket finally braved up and did some swimming around…I think he was trying to impress the other dogs on the beach.

 

Belmont learning how to balance so she can ride some waves next time.

Belmont learning how to balance so she can ride some waves next time.

 

Wicket swimming out to Alex. Much braver than his first time at the beach last year where he wouldn't swim at all.

Wicket swimming out to Alex. Much braver than his first time at the beach last year where he wouldn’t swim at all.

 

Belmont’s Surgery


Not too long ago, Alex noticed that Belmont had a lump on her side, and we recently had the vet look at her. It is a mast cell tumor and isn’t really anything to worry about too greatly. A few years ago she had one on her noggin, which we had surgically removed (the tumor, not her noggin). Her little mohawk remained intact. Tomorrow she goes in for surgery for this one. The doc already did blood work on her, gave her a good inspection, and said she was healthy enough for the anesthesia and surgery. I’m more nervous about the anesthesia than the surgery.

The Job


Since all this started with my health I have felt very strange about work. As soon as I got out of the hospital I was thinking about how I was slowing down things at work and how that was affecting my colleagues. I only stopped worrying  after family members told me that I needed to focus on working through my health issues. I followed their advice but have continued to have a sense of guilt about leaving the people at work, many of whom came to feel like family. I was never quite sure how things were going to pan out for me, and I wasn’t sure who at work expected me to come back and who expected me not to. It all felt very strange, especially when I was on pain killers. It was nice that the company held my position open to me, but my health issues (and frankly the amount of time I may have left) led us to decide I shouldn’t return to work. I’m hoping they find a great new employee that will help them out, and wish all my friends at work the best.

New Chemo


So I finished my radiation and chemo about a month ago. It took a couple of weeks to recover from the wave of symptoms that hits patients after their treatment stops. I met with my medical oncologist this week to go over my blood work and to talk about the next, and ongoing, course of treatment, which is monthly chemo. For five days a month I’ll be doing double dosage, and I just started this new wave last night. My biggest concern is that the monthly chemo will have a similar wave effect and cause me to feel bad for an additional week, or two, or three. The bottom line is that I hate this chemo shit but I’d absolutely love it to work and slow down the advance of the cancer.

Volunteering at the animal shelter

One thing I’ve always wanted to do was spend time volunteering at the animal shelter helping out the doggies in need of good homes. One of the first things I decided after my diagnoses, was that I wanted to use some of my available time  helping out the dogs in our county. The dogs in my life have brought me so much joy and happiness, I’ve always felt the need to help out dogs in need and to see that other folks get to make that special connection with their new best friends like I have.

Alex, my folks, and I all went through the volunteer orientation, and when I’m feeling good enough we’ve started to go walk some of the dogs that are in most need of some good photos. Here’s a sampling of some of the dogs we’ve photographed so far.

abigal
Abigal

angie1
Angie

dodger
Dodger

freddie
Freddie

gretchen
Gretchen

samson
Samson

DSC_0060cody2
Cody

DSC_0065matt
Matt

DSC_0072tanner
Tanner

DSC_0079olivia
Olivia

DSC_0082d3-petuna
Petuna