Thursday, 28 February 2008

I wanted to say a huge collective Thank You to all of you for you lovely messages and kindness for us at this time. It reallly does mean so much to both of us. Your support really has been invaluable over the last few months. It has really kept us going when things seemed so black.
Yogi has left a massive gap in our lives and the pain is very raw. But like you have all said, in time he will be remembered with smiles and not sadness. I expect that for you Graham, Lesley and Linda, it will have brought back the awful memories of your losses of Prince and Watson, and for you Handh, it will worry you deeply for Herbie. For that I am so sorry. But I was so touched that you thought to post his picture on your own blogs and mark his passing in such a special way.

We are going to Norfolk for a couple of days to lick our wounds. I don't think it will do any of us including Larry much good to stay in the house just now.

Elizabeth, you are so right, heaven DOES have a new angel. How I wish that angel was here with me.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Journey's end.

This is the most heartbreaking post I have ever had to write. Earlier today we had to say goodbye to Yogi. The glands in his neck swelled so much that they were preventing him from eating. One side of his face was completely hard and disfigured. This happened overnight. I can't describe the pain of making this final decision for him and then seeing it through. But I guess that you just know when the time is right to let him go.

John and Allyson were superb with him (and us) and were there to help him on his way. The last thing he did was kiss our tears away.

He fought it so hard. When I think about how he was when he was first diagnosed, we thought that he wouldn't last the week. But he did fantastically and his courage shone through even when ours was failing. Brave little dog.

Right now I feel as if my heart has been ripped from my body. Words seem so inadequate. All I can say is that I feel I have lost my best friend, companion and yes, my baby.

I know that there are a number of you who read this, that will be heartbroken too. But maybe without all the love, support and good wishes he wouldn't have gone on as long as he did. Thank you.

I believe that he will go on to somewhere better but also in some way still be with us in spirit.

Run free Little Bear, thank you for sharing your life with us.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Fuming with anger !

I have just taken Larry out for his evening stroll and yet again, completely unprovoked he has been attacked by a dog flying out of someone's house while he was on his lead!!! This is the 5th time in just over a year that one of my dogs has been attacked in this way. I cannot believe he absolute stupidity of some people when it comes to dog care. This time fortunately he was not hurt, just very traumatised. The dog is question was a Jack Russell, he managed to grab hold of Larry round the neck and just hang on. The owner came rushing out and pulled the dog off but poor Larry was scared witless. Lots of fur missing but no broken skin thankfully. Last year Larry was very badly mauled by a Dalmatian and I have been bitten trying to protect Yogi. I have had enough. Time to think about moving I feel.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Birthday boys.

Today is a very special day. It's Yogi's 7th un-official birthday (he is probably about 9 years old) and Rich's official xxth birthday. Happy Birthday guys!! 7 years ago today on holiday in Shropshire with Max, we decided to return early (about 6am!) and go and look for a playmate for him. We had recently said goodbye to Spook a very old greyhound x who had been with us for just over a year. His was a very sad story, he was left at the RSPCA when his owner died and the family didn't want him any longer. So at a very old age virtually blind and very deaf the poor thing had to start again. What a character he was too! Fate led us to a rehoming kennel nearby where a very grumpy man told us they were shut and would not open until later. So we just waited.....Eventually they agreed to let us see the dogs. Horrible. I couldn't really go in and look round as it was too distressing. The kennels were miserable, damp, dark and cold. The first kennel on the left was Yogi or Bracken as they called him. Since I really could go no further we asked to take him out. All he had to do (in my book) was to get on with Max. He did if you can judge "getting on" by a five minute walk. So then it was the interview. On learning our circumstances i.e. we were both working, the more amiable woman said that Yogi was completely unsuitable. He was picked up as a stray, they had unsuccessfully rehomed him twice. He couldn't settle with either owner (one was even a vet), he had separation anxiety, chased cats, not housetrained and all sorts of other issues apparently. But as he sat there quietly with his body pressed against my leg I would have begged them to let us take him. Eventually she agreed. In a way, I think she was glad to see the back of him. Strangely, he came complete with tight green harness attached to his body. I wondered about that and then wondered no more when I finally managed to remove it. Obviously once it was on there was no way anyone was going to get it off. I still wonder how they ever got it on! He appeared to have never had a lead on or been for a walk in his entire life. He was like an unguided exocet! His separation anxiety was quite incredible, he would rugby tackle legs if anyone was about to leave and bounce and wee as soon as anyone came back. Relatively easy to cure though. Over the years he has calmed down through patience, expert advice and routine. How I wish people would give dogs a chance before giving up on them.
I am so grateful that he chose to live with us. I believe that dogs choose their owners and not the other way around. He is a wonderful dog with a beautiful nature and the best companion anyone could wish for.
Happy Birthday my Little Bear.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Bittersweet Days

Well, Yogi did get to Norfolk but sadly couldn't stay. We had to bring him home late on Saturday night because he seemed to be uncomfortable and was unable to control his bladder. Ken and Shirley, Rich's Mum and Dad were absolutely FANTASTIC about it and said that it was no problem at all. But we were distressed about it all the same and I would imagine that Yogi picked up on our distress. He is also struggling to poo. He does, but it's a big effort and I think that it is causing him some discomfort. The thing is, on a walk he looks completely normal. Not as much energy as he used to have but he can do 7 or 8 miles and run and play with the best of them. It's just that when he is not walking it is so apparent that he's not at all well. In many ways I wish that it was more clear cut.

Anyway, he is happier at home and the cool tiled floors help him I think.

Today I took him to see John. He has agreed that we should cut down on the steroids as with Yogi getting up every 2 hours he is not getting enough rest. There is a very fine line between the quality and quantity of his life. Now we just need to go for quality. He also examined his tummy which is a bit sore when pressed. This is due to his internal glands pressing on his intestines which in turn make it difficult for him to poo.

BUT he did have a superb day on Saturday by the sea and on Sunday on a walk at home. So here are some pictures. These are on a walk from Holme Next the Sea to Old Hunstanton, a beatiful walk following the beach nearly all the way. Of course, once at Hunstanton there was a brief interlude at the pub....

On Sunday we walked along the Nene way, the weather was superb and the ground was nice and crisp from the frost. Yogi hasn't been swimming since November, there seems no point in curtailing his favourite activities any longer so once again it was fantastic to see him throw himself into the lake after a stick or his pink ball.

Yogi was a little exuberant while jumping up for a stick, he misjudged his leap and this is the result of his teeth connecting with my arm (through 2 fleeces). By the way, he is NOT a biter or harmful in any way. But it does go to show the damage that can be done unintentionally by dogs teeth....I call it a little love bite from a big bear :o)

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Feeling brighter....

Well, it seems like the little man is feeling better so (hopefully) he will go to the ball (or Norfolk) this weekend.
He doesn't seem to be so uncomfortable as he was with his weeing. As far as I can tell, there has been no blood in it. He seems generally bouncy and keen to live life to the fullest. Along with his humungous appetite, he wants to play and doesn't appear to be quite as clingy as he has been. That is a relief as when those soulful eyes just look at me, I'm lost - literally.
The steroids are making him drink loads and we have had a few accidents overnight and during the day even with mum coming round just about every hour or two. Now though I think that's due to steroids rather than the cystitis. Just have to get the visit timing right and it will be better.
His glands don't seem to be much bigger either, so all in all we feel a bit better too.
Looking forward to getting away again and having some fun on the beach with the boys.
Monday was probably the worst day of all, I had to organise his cremation in case the worst came to the worst. Truly, truly horrible. I hope we can forget about that for a long time to come.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Yogi's day out

On Sunday we wanted to do something special for Yogi. There is a walk in Hertfordshire (where we used to live) that is probably one of my favourite walks of all time. So although he has done this walk many times before, it is still special to everyone. We have walked it for over 20 years with various dogs. It changes through the seasons but always has a kind of "good atmoshphere" about it. Although it can't be described as local any more, it is still worth the 80 odd mile round trip. The walk is around Ayot St Lawrence, home of the playwright George Bernard Shaw. It's about 7 miles long and takes in water meadows, woods, fields, a church, a village and personal points of interest such as "the face of the moon" (lumpy bumpy bridleway) leading to "Hunters Bridge" (filmed for scenes in Band of Brothers) and "bat alley" (walk at dusk, throw pebbles in the air and watch the bats divebomb them) and of course the pub :o).
The first time we walked it, we were fairly novice walkers. We thought it would be good to get a book of local walks. These tend to be pretty vague to say the least, but if you follow them in daylight you should just about find your way around. The first time we did this walk was a beautiful summers evening. We took a wrong turn about a third of the way around but eventually found our way to the Brocket Arms, the local. After a few pints too many and not realising that evening was drawing in we wandered off onto what seemed like "the face of the moon" in the dark and trying to follow a well used bridleway, well, that's what it felt like....The only way we could read the book was by Rich's lighter which selfishly ran out after about 30 mins. I had pictures of waiting for daylight huddled up in the woods with just Monty to keep warm :o) Eventually we found our way back though. I think all in all the walk took about 7 hours, was the middle of the night before we reached civilisation :o).
Yesterday the weather was like a perfect spring day, we started off pretty early and took time to enjoy all the different landscapes and views. Then settled in the pub for a while :o) Dogs had crisps, we had Abbot ale and very nice it was too. The proprietor of the pub is Toby Wingfield Digby who has been a very genial host over the last couple of decades. When we had sociable dogs, they were welcomed by the massive fireplace to chat to the locals. Now it's the garden, but still as welcoming. Yogi had a great day I so hope he has many more.

.....and then came the beers :o)

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Here he is looking gorgeous as ever....

No more chemo

Sadly it's the end of the line as far as chemo goes. This week Yogi had his chemo as usual on Monday, his glands were still up and I think were larger than last week. He has also started getting enlarged glands elswhere in his body. On Tuesday he started to look slightly uncomfortable where wee'ing is concerned. As the week wore on, it got worse, to the point where he is unable to control his bladder at all. He has been staying at Mum's during the day so that he can be let out whenever he needs to. Yesterday we took him to see John who confirmed our worst fears that chemo was no longer working and it was actually having side effects. The endoxana has caused cystitis and was making him very uncomfortable. Prince had this too and I know that it tore Graham apart watching him try to wee and be unable to. I think that we knew this was the news we were going to receive and it was heartbreaking. For now he is going to stay on Pred to make him feel well.
He is still bright in himself so all we can do is make whatever time he has left as happy as possible. He had a fantastic time in Norfolk so he is going back there next weekend providing he is well enough.
Mum is doing brilliantly. I don't know what I would have done without her to be able to look after Yogi this week. She has bounced back after the op so much better than I thought she would. She has another in a few weeks.
This weekend we are going to walk and walk and walk. Yogi loves getting out and about and that is what we all need - to feel we are doing exactly what he wants.

Friday, 1 February 2008

By the seaside......

Since we all need a break, the seaside is the ultimate place to relax. So we have encroached on the in-laws for a couple of days. For some reason they seem delighted :o) Their cat has been consigned to the bedroom and we have invaded their space with all our paraphernalia but all is well and we feel VERY welcome. So armed with a glass of wine and some snacks we are planning a lengthy walk for tomorrow. "Take in the coast" is my only demand (Yogi and Larry love the sea ) and I hope that the weather holds reasonably well so it can be enjoyed by all.
We are staying near Norfolk by the way. Can't wait to smell that salty air tomorrow.