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Life with a tri-pug

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Life with a tri-pug

A Decade Ago

September 7th, 2016 · 9 Comments · Uncategorized

10 years ago today I was waiting for the call from the surgeon to let me know that Maggie was alright.  A week earlier my vet had looked at the lump in Mag’s knee and said the word…amputation.

Referrals, consultations, second opinions. Surgeons and oncologists.  Input from family and friends.  “It’s just a dog”, “It costs how much?!?”, “I wouldn’t do that to my dog”.  Aspirations of tumor and lymph nodes, abdominal ultrasounds, bone marrow biopsy.  Surgery? Radiation? Chemotherapy?

One of my clearest memories from the weeks after Maggie’s amputation was sitting on my back deck watching Mag.  She was miserable and I was sure I had made a big mistake.  There was on one for me to talk to (Jerry had is amputation a couple months after Mag) and the feelings of fear and uncertainty were almost unbearable.

Mag beat the odds, really she blew them away.  Her 6 to 9 month prognosis was a distant memory when I finally ran across Tripawds three years after her surgery.  I found an entire community of people who had gone through, or were going through what I had with Maggie.  So many heartbreaking stories of battles lost, but just as many stories of strength, hope and resiliency.

I remember a conversation in the forums once about people feeling guilty because their pups beat the odds when so many did not.  I never felt guilty about Mag, but thankful and grateful.  I didn’t feel like I owed anything because of Mag’s longevity, but I felt like I needed to honor her- after all that stubborn little pug taught me so much about dealing with adversity and how to find something good in every bad situation.  Lessons that I have used over and over in the years since she crossed the Bridge in 2010.

Whenever I read a post from a new member that says they are scared and worried because their dog is struggling after amputation I flash back to that September afternoon in 2006 when I was so scared, so sure I had made a mistake.  I would have given almost anything to have someone to calm my fears, to assure me things would work out, to teach me how to Be. More.Dog.

So I’m still here, because of Maggie and the lessons she taught me.  And because I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this alone.

 

 

 

 

 

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One Year Later

June 2nd, 2011 · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

Somehow a year has passed since I had to let Tri-Pug Maggie go, I can’t believe it. Sometimes it seems like so long ago, and at other times it seems like just yesterday she was sitting on my lap.

It has been a tough year for family and friends- illnesses and injuries in two, three and four leggers.  But here we are, everyone healed up, or healing, the only loss was Maggie.

But I don’t want to spend this post on the bad stuff.  I chronicled Maggie’s health issues in the forums.  I wrote about our good-bye the day I let her go.  While I have shed my share of tears since last June, I can say that most of the time now I remember her with smiles and laughter, and I enjoy telling people about her and how she beat cancer (at least the first one).

I wanted to share a few of the things that made her so special to me, that made her my heart dog, my soul mate.

Maggie was NOT what I would call the ‘Boy Scout’ type of dog, you know- strong, brave and loyal.  She was as obstinate a pug as I have ever met.  She did not do things to please me, she did not do things because I praised her.  I laugh when dog trainers say praise works as a reward… obviously they have never tried to train a pug!!  She was very demonstrative- especially when she was unhappy with me.  She would sit with her back to me to show me she was unhappy, and if I tried to pet her she would duck away from my hand.  When I traded in my truck and bought a small SUV I wouldn’t let her  ride in the front seat anymore. She had always ridden in the from seat of the truck, usually standing and leaning against the seat with her front paws on the armrest on the door.  But by then I had two pugs and I needed more room, and room for at least one passenger.  I always had the back seats down so the pugs had the whole back.  When I wouldn’t let Mag get in the front seat anymore she was mad for a month!  She would sit in the back of the SUV with her back to me and pout.

Maggie was not at all adaptable, she didn’t like changes to her routine (see previous paragraph).  She didn’t like it when we moved to a new house.  She hated the mud room with the linoleum floor, she refused to walk on it.  Because she was not adaptable I was really worried when we did the amputation.  I was afraid she would have a hard time adapting, and I was right.  She took a couple of months to act like she wasn’t mad all the time.  Mag had her amp about 2 months before our founder and CFO Jerry so Tripawds was not here to help us.

She also had always spun in a circle before she would poop.  I think that was one of the hardest things to watch after her amp- watching her try to spin and fall down.  She would sit there and look at me with a pitiful, woe is me look on her face and I felt so bad.  She didn’t poop for 5 or 6 days after her surgery.  Conventional wisdom says that is because of the pain meds, but I know it was because without the centrifugal force from the spin nothing would come out.  Luckily she kept her right back leg, and liked to spin to the right- so on about day 6 she figured out the spin and poop!

And then there was the stroller.  I had tried to tow her around in a wagon when she was younger but she hated it and would always jump out.  I got a stroller for her after her amp because I knew she needed to get out, but I wasn’t sure how far she would be able to go.  I was sure it would be weeks or months of trauma trying to get her to tolerate it.  But she took to it right away! She rode with sort of an entitled look on her face, if she could have waved her paw she would have looked just like the Queen in a parade.

And there were those odd things about her… how she would diligently walk around puddles on the path leading to the creek, then wade in up to her chest!

 

Or how she would act like she would take on horses or cows, but was terrified when she got a leaf stuck to her paw.

I loved how she would let me hold her like a baby- she would put her chin on my shoulder.  Or sit on my left arm and just get the lay of the land.  It was much easier to do this after she lost her leg- less bulk in the back end!

I adopted Obie last July, another black pug, and I  have Mag’s little sis Tani,  so I still have two black pugs.  A year later I still sometimes call the pair of them ‘the girls’.  Actually lots of people do it- my dad does, friends at the park, even the vet techs sometimes say it.  Maggie and Tani were called ‘the girls’ for 9 years, so it’s a hard habit to break.  Besides, Obie isn’t the most manly of pugs…

I was really proud of her when she finally adapted to being a Tri-Pug.  I was surprised when she beat mast cell cancer.  And I was so inspired by how she just kept going those final 3 months.

Maggie made it to her 11th birthday too.  11 isn’t really old for a pug, but given that I didn’t expect her to make it much farther than her 8th birthday I feel fortunate that we had so much time together.

I have the tangible things- the blanket she slept with almost every night of the 11 years she lived with me, the loop from her harness on my key-chain, the Tripawd Power bandanna she wore, the Mag Tag hanging on my bedroom wall, her leash and collar hanging in the closet with the fairie wings.

And there are little reminders everywhere- the tooth marks on my cell phone case from our last weekend together, the toys still in the toy box, and I swear some of the black pug fur that swirls through my life must be hers!

But the knowledge and insights I gained from our time together is what I treasure most, I wrote about it last October.  I will steal from myself because I can’t think of a better way to say it:

So today, four months after saying good bye, I say thank you to Maggie.  Because our 4.5 year cancer battle taught me to ‘be more dog’.  Because our  last three months together showed me that there can be quality when life is not perfect.   Because I am stronger, more optimistic, and more able to cope with adversity than at anytime in my life.

Because I  have found a reason for our journey together.

 

I miss you Spud.

 

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Meeting New Friends

February 13th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

The Nor Cal Tripawds crew finally got together again on Saturday February 12th at the dog park in Mill Valley California.  It was a spectacular day- clear, sunny and unseasonably warm.   It has been several months since we have been able to meet up, and this time we got to welcome two new tripawds.  Well, actually they are not new tripawds, just new to us.  We welcomed Sam and Bailey with official Tripawds Rule bandannas!

Sam has been living as a tripawd and beating OSA for more than 37 MONTHS!!  Diane met Sam and his dad Keith in a dog park and sent him back to Tripawds.  Here is Sam:

We also met Bailey and his pack- Trish and John?- sorry I’m good with dog names- don’t always remember the two leggers!.  In my defense I went to a human B-day party after the Tripawd meet up and met a bunch of new people… of course I don’t remember their names either.  But I digress, here is Bailey who had his amp last July (I think):

Shelby the PP was there with her attendants and Cemil and mom came too.  I was there with the quads Tani and Obie.  Obie is still really shy, and stays pretty much glued to my ankle.  Tani greeted all the humans, and made sure that the treats were distributed fairly.

This is as close as we got to a tripawd group photo. You can just see Shelby behind the maid on the left, Cemil in the middle, Sam behind Cemil, and Bailey is on the upper right:

Shelby was at her Petit Princes self, greeting everyone and stealing the occasional tennis ball.

Cemil wandered all around the park, meeting all the people he could.  The rest of us stay pretty close to our meeting spot.

The group, including Tani:

But where is Cemil?  There he is- waaaay across the park:

Poor guy wore himself out wandering around.  But he still attracted fans:

Here are the new guys saying hello to each other:

Obie didn’t show up in the group photos because he is always right next to me.  He went to sleep in my lap after awhile. Being really shy takes a lot out of a guy:

Can’t wait for next month!!

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Moving Forward

October 2nd, 2010 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Today marks four months since Maggie passed.  The odd thing is that I didn’t even think about it until I was writing a post to another person who is grieving the recent passing of their dog.  I take that as a sign that I am moving forward.  I still think of Mag everyday, it’s impossible not to when I look at Tani and Obie, but now it seems to be with smiles.  While I miss Mag, and always will in some ways, I now have enough distance to enjoy my memories, not mourn them.

Taking on a four year old rescue pug has been a new and mostly enjoyable challenge.  Watching Obie learn to trust me, and come out of his shell a little has been very rewarding.  And learning more about Tani, first as an only pug, and now as a big sister has been fun too.  It is amazing how much she looks like Maggie to me now.  I guess that is in comparison to Obie, who looks really different than either of the girls, at least to me.  Yes they are both black, and many people when they see them say ‘oh, twins!’, but they are more different from each other than Mag and Tani were.

And this summer I have found myself surrounded by cancer.  I lost Mag to cancer on June 2nd.  Two weeks later one of my closest friends was diagnosed with brain cancer.  A month after that a close family member was diagnosed with lung cancer.  That same week I found out another friend was fighting lymphoma.  It was surreal to say the least.  I was beginning to fear talking to anyone else- I really couldn’t handle anymore bad news.

But once the initial shock wore off  I have been able to approach all of this with confidence and optimism.  The things we talk about everyday here- how stats are just stats, how you stay positive- those are the things I am saying to my friends and family.  I feel sure that the treatments will work, and after some not so fun months everyone will be getting back to their normal lives.  Why?  Because that is what I learned is the best way to deal with cancer.  You stay positive until there is a real reason not to be.  We can not know what will happen in the future, we will live each day to the fullest because it is all we can control.

So today, four months after saying good bye, I say thank you to Maggie.  Because our 4.5 year cancer battle taught me to ‘be more dog’.  Because our  last three months together showed me that there can be quality when life is not perfect.   Because I am stronger, more optimistic, and more able to cope with adversity than at anytime in my life.

Because I  have found a reason for our journey together.

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The Mag Tag

September 3rd, 2010 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Here we are, 3 months without Maggie, and they have at times been very difficult months for me.  Not because she is gone, but because life sometimes just deals you and your family and friends some tough cards.  I miss her every day- but I have been fortunate enough to find a way to apply the lessons that Mag and her two cancer journeys have taught me.  Is there a reason that bad things happen in our lives?  I don’t know that I can answer that, but what I do believe strongly is that you have to learn from all the experiences in your life- and often the hardest experiences teach the most profound lessons.

And so we continue, and find reasons to celebrate in our lives.  Obie has been with us almost two months.  His eye injury is healing, and he is starting to come out of his shell.  Tani is doing well, a bit more energetic since she dropped a little weight, and she is accepting and sometimes even showing interest in her new little brother.

I have finally framed and hung up the ‘Mag Tag’, along with a few things that are reminders of good times.  I originally painted it last March on the set of ‘Rent’, a show that I was helping to build.  You can read the original forum post here for the back story.  After the show ended my buddy cut it out when they were striking the set and saved it for me.  I got a picture of Mag with it which is the picture you see in the header here at Tripawds.com.  And now it hangs in my bedroom, a daily reminder to ‘be more dog’!

Here is what the tag looked like on the set:

This is Mag with the tag:

And this is the tag as it appears now in my bedroom:

The trim is from Mag’s last harness, the brass plate on the lower right has her name, etc.  The star on the lower left is from the angel wings that our pal Caira Sue’s dad gave Maggie last January.  The charm on the right is a three paw charm with Mag’s name on the back.

Here is a close up of the charm:

And of course Mag’s Tripawds bandana, which she wore to the Monthly NorCal Tripawd meetups since she got it last November at our first meet up.  I have taken her bandana to each of the meetups I have attended since Maggie passed.

And here are Tani (left) and Obie with the Mag Tag today:

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Dog Heaven

June 30th, 2010 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

I got a package in the mail today from Maggie’s Oncology Vet Hospital,  called Bay Area Veterinary Specialists or BAVS.  Mag had her amp surgery there and our Oncologist is there, Dr. Cecile Siedlecki.

I opened the package and found this book:

It is a book written to help children understand and cope with the loss of a dog. It is simply written with colorful illustrations.

When I opened the front cover I found this:

I took Mag to BAVS in March right after our regular vet diagnosed the melanoma tumor in her mouth.  We sat with  Cecile for close to a hour  discussing options and deciding on what, if any treatment to pursue.  Cecile has always been open and honest with me about Maggie’s cancers and treatments.  She was completely supportive of my decision not to aggressively treat the melanoma at that point in Maggie’s life.  After we were done talking Cecile took Mag in the back because she wanted to try and get a picture of the tumor in Mag’s mouth.  I thought that it was a little strange since we were not going to treat the cancer.   I now know that she wanted to get a picture of Mag for this book.  At that point we both knew that it was Mag’s last visit there.

In the book God makes biscuits for the dogs, and because he has a sense of humor he makes them in funny shapes.  He makes kitty-cat biscuits and squirrel biscuits and ham-sandwich biscuits.  My favorite are Ice-cream biscuits.

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The Pug Girls

June 23rd, 2010 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

Today Tani turns 10, the first birthday she will celebrate without her big sister.  We reached the end of the Pug Girls era when I  let Mag go 3 weeks ago today.

On Maggie’s 11th birthday in March I started a post with pictures of Mag’s puppy hood called ‘Maggie- the early years‘  which took us right up to the point just before Tani came to live with us.  That was supposed to be my next post- “Who said I needed a little sister?”  It was John Lennon who said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

So now, three month later, I am posting a few pictures of the Pug Girls.

When Tani first came to live with us Maggie HATED her.  Whenever Tani touched her, even if just barley, Maggie would move away from her. Mag had been an only pug for her first two years, and I think in hindsight she was perfectly happy with that arrangement.  It was me, doing that silly human projection thing, thinking Mag was lonely.  After awhile Mag warmed up to Tani and the two kept each other company and they had lots of adventures together.

While the Girls always looked different to me, many could not tell them apart, especially when they were younger and both still very black.  Later on so many people didn’t notice that Mag was a tri-pug  that when I introduced them I stopped saying Mag was the three legged one and instead said she was the one with the gray face.

The girls being very pug like in 2001, Mag on left:

Romping at the lake in 2001, Mag on left:

Playing with sticks in my parent’s backyard 2001, Mag on left:

Frisbee! Mag on left (again):

In the pool in my back yard,  Mag on right:

Sharing a nap in 2002, Tani on top:

At the beach 2002, Mag in front:

The pug sleep train 2003, Tani in front:

At the beach in 2004, Tani in front:

Napping on the back of my parent’s couch 2004, Mag on right:

Sun drugged in my back yard 2004, Tani on right:

Sharing Mag’s stroller 2006, Mag on right:

Pug’s favorite past time 2007, Mag on right:

At the park 2007, Mag in front:

Barney, Mag and Tani at the park, 2010:

And here is one of the pug girls logos, the basis of the ‘ Mag Tag’:

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Learning Tani

June 16th, 2010 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

This is Maggie’s little sister Tani:

Tani is almost 10 years old, and is missing her big sister.

We said good bye to Maggie two weeks ago and marked the occasion with a trip to the vet.  Just routine stuff, we got a little behind on Tani’s vaccinations over the past three months.

I am trying to decide how Tani is doing.  She has never in her life been an only dog for this long, her previous mark for being alone was six days.  For some parts of the day she seems fine, for some I am not so sure.  She is still very clingy most of the time, always right by me.  Then sometimes I don’t see her and after looking I find her laying somewhere where neither of them used to lay. Sometimes she looks sad to me, but that is probably me projecting my silly human emotions on her.

She tends to be very poky on walks- I told her the other day that she was slower than a three legged pug… but I’m not sure if she is missing Mag, sore, or just bored. Tani has her own host of medical issues, including arthritis in her back, epilepsy caused by hydrocephalus, inflammatory bowel disease, and the normal suite of pug stuff, including eye issues.  She actually does really well, if you didn’t know her history you would never suspect she has all these problems.  She is a happy girl who loves her squeaker toys and food.

Lots of thoughs and emotions over the past two weeks.  I really want to get them written, but when I sit down here my fingers don’t work so well.

So for now here are a couple of pictures from what turned out to be our last weekend together.

Sharing a stick at the park.

In the truck, ready to go home.

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Normal

June 8th, 2010 · 13 Comments · Uncategorized

Periodically over the years during one dog crisis or another I found myself wishing that things would just get back to normal.  But what is normal?

It wasn’t until the morning after I let Maggie go that I realized how involved and time consuming our normal had become.  That morning it took me just 10 min to give Tani her pill and eye meds and feed her breakfast. Over the past three months Maggie’s breakfast routine had evolved into 30 min or more.  Getting pills in her, figuring out what she might eat on her own, syringe feeding her and cleaning her up.  And that was just breakfast, dinner was the same routine, and there were the sub-Q fluids every other day also.

Normal is really relative.  I had gotten so used to the marathon of meds and feeding that it became our norm.  I even had the alarm set 15 min earlier so I wouldn’t be too late for work.

When I think about it the state of normal is constantly changing for us. I have, after all, been owned by pugs for eleven years.  Here are some random thoughts about our ever evolving definition of normal.

When you have a pug it is normal if:

Your dogs go to the eye doctor more often than you do.

You have more business cards in your wallet for vets than your own doctors.

When you have a cancer or otherwise sick dog it is normal if:

There are more than 10 kinds of dog food, baby food, meat, and cheese in your refrigerator- all for the dog.

There are more meds and supplements for your dog than for you.

You do a load of wash per day when you are single and have no kids.

You cook more for your dog than you do for yourself.

You have to wear an apron when you feed your dog.

When you call the vets office you don’t have to give your name, they recognize your voice.

You track the amount of food you get into your dog by the teaspoon.

Part of the back room decor is a pole rigged to hang the bag of lactated ringers.

You shop in the incontinence aisle of the drug store before you turn 50.

All of your furniture makes crinkle sounds when you sit on it because it is lined with incontinence pads.

When you have a Tripawd it is normal if:

You don’t have just one throw rug as an accent piece on your hard floors; they are covered with a mish mash of rugs.

You have a stroller in the garage.

You ask for a discount at the groomer because there are only 12 nails to trim.

You can discuss the pros and cons of the Ruff Wear harness vs. the Help ‘em Up Harness vs. the AST Get A Grip Harness.

You consider ice cream the answer to all good news.

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Missing Maggie

June 7th, 2010 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Now I have decided that a separate page is not the place to post about missing Maggie, I will do it here on her main page.  Here is what I wrote a couple of days ago:

I let Maggie go three days ago on Wednesday June 2, 2010.  I have been thinking about updating her blog and our signature in the forums, but I’m not up to it yet.

I thought I would start a new page in our blog to detail this new part of my life’s journey without Maggie.  I don’t know how long I will post on this page, but I wanted a separate place to talk about losing my companion of 11 years and how Tani and I are adapting.

When I got home with Tani on Wednesday night the house seemed quiet.  It was an odd feeling because it was never that noisy with both of the girls around.  I guess I was just feeling the void left by Maggie’s departure.  I immediately got rid of all of the bad stuff related to the last couple of months- I cleaned up the meds, got rid of the last bag of sub-Q fluids, and put away all the incontinence pads and rags I had strategically placed in all the rooms of the house.  I left her bowl, beds, and blankets out.  All of the toys remain too, Tani is the one who plays with most of them anyway.

Friday evening I took Tani for our first walk alone together since Maggie was recovering from her amp.  We ran into a couple of people we know at the park- well we know their dogs, I don’t know most of humans names.  One of them looked at me walking only with Tani and she said “oh no”, and gave me a hug.  Some things don’t need too many words.  She lost her long time companion in March to lymphoma and is now trying to get used to her new young dog.

I know I did the right thing by Maggie on Wednesday, but that knowledge does not make it any easier or less sad.  All that will fix this is time.

Here are a couple of pictures I took last weekend.  The quality is not great because I used my cell phone.

This is Maggie at the park on Sunday, May 30th:

Actually the grass is in focus, I guess I need more practice with the camera.

This is a picture of Maggie with the Mag Tag from the set of RENT.

I helped build the set at the local College and the designer let me put this up.  Read the story in the original forum post.

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