Not Yet

Two weeks ago my dog Buster became unable to jump on the couch. Buster lives on the couch so I found this development mildly worrisome. At nine years old he has some arthritis and is not a limber as he still thinks he is. Then a few days later his back legs gave out and he almost tumbled down the steep stairway leading up to my apartment. If I hadn’t been behind him to break his fall he’d have been a dead duck. I called the vet and made an appointment for the next day.

The next morning, however, Buster was walking in tight left circles and falling down every few feet. And, when I got to the vet, the hammer of every dog owner’s fear came crashing down.

“There’s something neurological going on,” the vet said after taking one look at him.

My vision tunneled and I felt like I was going to faint. I plopped into a chair and started breathing heavy. I knew what was going on, I was having a stress reaction. I thought that Buster was going to die.

Looking concerned for me, the vet, who is a really sweet man, said, “Let me take Buster in the back and examine him”. My nervous pacing wore a trench into the linoleum floor. Then the vet came back with more bad news.

“Buster had a seizure while I was checking him out,” he said. “He needs to see a neurologist right away.” I was handed an address and my dog. “Go now,” the vet said, looking brokenhearted. “And good luck.” I wasn’t even charged for the visit, but the look of sympathy on the vet’s face alarmed me. It was the look doctors have when when they know things are going very bad.

I got into my car, secured Buster and made a beeline for the highway. I had no idea where the specialist hospital was and, to be honest, my brainpower had been reduced by 50 percent. I really shouldn’t have been driving. Luckily I had OnStar to feed me the directions. Of course, being rush hour, the roads were jammed. My anxiety was so high a bottle of Xanax wouldn’t have put a dent in it. Then I realized I had to get my shit together, pronto. I managed to relax myself, more for Buster’s sake than mine, and made it to the hospital. Then I got more bad news.

“Brain tumor, meningitis, or a hole in the spinal cord,” the neuro vet said. “These can all cause the symptoms we’re seeing. We’ll have to admit him and do an MRI.” So Buster was whisked away and the receptionist told me I had to put down a mighty big deposit. MRIs are very expensive. I slapped down my Amex card without a second thought.

There wasn’t much to do after that. The docs had to stabilize Buster and the tests couldn’t be run until the next day. My girlfriend joined me and, before we left, one of the techs brought Buster out to say goodbye. His tail wagged when he saw me, but I could see he was frightened. That broke my heart.

Being an idiot, when I got home I Googled “dog” and “brain tumor” and discovered that Buster’s symptoms hit very one of that condition’s diagnostic indicators. What would I do if that were the case? Take him home to live out his last days? I didn’t want to see him suffer or deteriorate. I did not want to take my dog home to die. It was then I realized I might be faced with a terrible decision. I didn’t know what to do. “This will kill me,” I said to my girlfriend. “He’s too young. It’s not his time. It’s all too fast. If I have to put him down this will just kill me. “ It wouldn’t have of course, but that’s how I felt at the time.

So I lost it, utterly and completely.  I haven’t cried so hard in years and, if my girlfriend weren’t with me, it would have been exponentially worse. After the storm of emotion left me drained I went to bed and, amazingly, fell asleep. That was the only mercy that terrible Thursday.

My girlfriend stayed home from work the next day as we waited for the tests to be run. To be honest, the financial hit I was taking was unnerving me too. I am lucky to have resources I can draw on to cover the costs, not every one does. Years ago I took out pet insurance to guard against this very kind of disaster. When I got Buster I was a broke waiter, but I never wanted to have to put him down because of lack of funds. Some people have to and I understand that, but not me. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

When I called my ex to tell her the bad news, she cried too. But when she got herself together she said. “I feel so bad for you! Buster’s your baby.” And she’s right. For the past nine years, Buster has been sort of my child. I know that make me sounds like one of those crazy dog people you see on TV, but I guess that’s what I am. Some people might tell me that my response to all this is way out of proportion. Having a sick dog is not like having a sick child, but what you feel is what you feel.

By five o’clock on Friday I was almost out of my mind. Then the doctor called. No tumor. No meningitis or spinal cord holes. The MRI revealed that Buster has two messed up vertebrae compressing his spinal cord. That’s what was causing the problems. While surgery was an option, the doctor counseled trying to handle the situation medically. Buster was put on steroids and stayed in the hospital for four days in case he had another seizure. There were none. The docs have no idea what caused it. It could have been brought on by stress but I was so happy I didn’t have a terrible decision to make. So my girlfriend and I went to the movies and saw The Artist. It was a great film. By the way, I missed my 25th high school reunion that night. I was too spent for public appearances.

Monday came and I went to the hospital to get my dog. Before I could even see him I had to pay the bill in full. Ouch. Then, as we went over the discharge instructions, the doctor told me to give Buster a tapering dose of steroids for three weeks and put him on strict cage rest for at least a month.  I knew that would suck because Buster is used to having the run of the house. He also didn’t look a hell of a lot better than when I dropped him off, but I told the vet if Buster came back 75 percent I’d be happy. Now I had to settle in for the long haul.

My Dad had open-heart surgery a month ago. In a funny way, getting your chest cracked open, your heart stopped and restarted and your valves sewn up is the easy part. Dad came though it like a trooper but recovery, it turns out, is really the hard part. Your moods swing, you can’t drive or have to ride in the back seat like a kid and you’re basically housebound, totally dependent on others to help you live.  You have doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists poking and prodding you and mundane things like showering or taking a piss become Herculean efforts. Dad’s doing fine, thank God, but now I’m facing a similar situation with Buster. After care for a dog is a bitch.

Cage rest sucks, but it has to be done. Because of the steroids, Buster is eating and drinking more, so he’s peeing and pooping more – usually when we have to sleep. I can’t tell you how many times my girlfriend and I have carried Buster out at three, five and six in the morning. Our sleep cycles are trashed. My mother said it’s good training to have a baby. If Buster hears us moving around in the apartment, he cries and whinnys until someone comes to hold him. But we can’t do that every time. It’s not good for him. Since he’s also used to sleeping in our bed, when he see’s our Boston Terrier snuggling under the covers while watching from the cage, oh man, it’s bad. The Boston is still trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Two weeks later, I’m happy to report, Buster is back to eighty percent. Some lameness is still in his left hind leg, so he still falls down from time to time. He’s not out of the woods yet, when he’s off the steroids we’ll have to watch him carefully, but we’ll do everything to keep him from an operation. The vet even suggested acupuncture and I just might try it. Buster is a Japanese Chin, so, in a strange way, it’s part of his heritage.

But no matter what happens, we’ll have to change the way we handle Buster. He’ll always wobble and will have to be carried up and down stairs for the rest of his life. And since he loves to jump onto the couch and bed, an activity that must be minimized, my girlfriend and I will get some do-hickeys  to help him get to his favorite places more easily. When we’re not around, he’ll have to be in a cage. There’s a bit of mourning associated with that because Buster won’t be the dog he once was. But when I remind myself how crazy I was at the thought of losing him, that puts it all into perspective.

Now it’s Monday night and as I write this, Buster is lying next to me on the couch. I give him some one on one time every night so he doesn’t feel like he’s being punished. The funny thing about dogs is that they really don’t know when they’re handicapped. They think everything is just going along swimmingly so Buster doesn’t know what the fuss is about. Dogs are simple creatures. They just want to be loved and to love you.

The past weeks have reminded me that everything and everybody gets old. At some point we all will be unable to do the things we’ve done before. We have to accept that, one-day, we will lose the people (And pets) we love the most. One person told me, “I’ll never buy another dog. When my last one died, I was devastated. I never want to go through that again.” I can sure understand that, but I know that when Buster goes to his reward I’ll get another dog. Dogs give you far more than you give them, and they are worth the pain when you lose them. The same thing could be said about love. You will always lose it, either though death or life’s cruel turns, but that should never stop you from seeking it. A life bereft of love is a cold and dark existence. And from all the support I received, especially from my girlfriend, I know Buster and I are loved. That’s a great feeling.

Buster is now snoozing, happy to be in his favorite place in the world, next to me. As he whimpers softly, chasing squirrels in his dreams, I stroke his silky fur and smile. Not yet old boy.

Not yet.


Comments

Not Yet — 62 Comments

  1. This was so beautiful, and I am so glad that Buster is on the road to recovery. Please give him some pets and cuddles from me and my furry housemates. <3

  2. So glad that Buster is ok! I have a Chin too and I don’t know what I would do if anything every happened to her. They’re the best dogs :-)

  3. Why did I always imagine Buster as a beagle?!

    I went through something very similar with one of my cats. In her case, we never discovered what caused the symptoms. They could have been brought on by seizure, tumor, stroke, etc…but they cleared up in a matter of weeks with steroid therapy, just like Buster. No spinal damage, either. You are right – the after care is the worst. She was also on crate rest. We had to help her use the litter box. During the night, she would often pee and vomit all over herself. It was heartbreaking. However, she is now also back to about 85% of what she was, albeit a little slower.

    I’m so glad that Buster pulled through and that you have some time left with him. He’s a good buddy to you, and you to him.

  4. Dude, man. Oh boy.

    This is an interesting story given all the other Valentine’s hoopla. I’ve been reading your blog for years and have your first book. As a dog owner myself, this was a rough read. Thanks for writing this today.

    My favorite sentiment: Dogs give you far more than you give them, and they are worth the pain when you lose them. The same thing could be said about love. You will always lose it, either though death or life’s cruel turns, but that should never stop you from seeking it. A life bereft of love is a cold and dark existence. And from all the support I received, especially from my girlfriend, I know Buster and I are loved. That’s a great feeling.

  5. I know how you feel – don’t be embarrassed about your feelings for a pet, anyone who’s had one will understand!

    Really glad to hear Buster’s doing well, he’s been a large part of your blog so I feel like I know him. Give him some attention from me.

  6. Ugh. Thankful he is doing better! You made me cry…I know a handful of people who had to put pets down last week, and I’m still getting over putting my 18-year old kitty down three months ago today. It sucks losing them. I’m glad you got some more time, Waiter and Buster.

  7. steve, get buster to a chiropractor that works on dogs NOW… i had a very similar problem with one of my girls who is a dachshund mix and 13 years old and the results were spectacular! she even can get up on the bed and couch again, which by the way, allows me to sleep at night again.

  8. Why did I always imagine Buster as a beagle?!

    Sadly, my family had to put down our 17-year old beagle in a similar circumstance a couple months ago. He had the equivalent of a major grand mal seizure, essentially a canine stroke. He already had poor mobility and bad vision and hearing before that, but for 12 hours he was disoriented (sometimes he recognized us, sometimes not), almost completely blind and deaf, and therefore frightened. He recovered most of his remaining vision and hearing and remembered who we were, but the vet said all of his existing problems were going to get worse fast, so it was time to make the call between extending his life or easing his pain. This vet had been one who had known him and enjoyed his visits for several years, so we took her word. It was hard, but we chose to let him go before he became unrecognizable to us (and vice versa).

    The one benefit we had is that the vet came to the house, so that he could pass in comfortable surroundings with his favorite humans. Most emotionally painful thing I’ve ever had to go through, bar none. I’m sobbing right now typing this out.

  9. I lost my dog quite suddenly early this year from a major illness and when you initially said Buster came out to say goodbye I almost broke down.

    I’m thrilled you have your dog back, even if he’ll never be 100%. Non-dog owners can’t know what it is like.

    That said, google “Dog steps” and you’ll find a little mini staircase you can use to put by the sofa so he can get up with you (or wherever else he has to be). That might help in some areas.

    Good luck.

  10. As a fellow dog lover, with an old dog (14 years) I hear ya and I’ve still got tears in my eyes for all those lovely dogs that just don’t last as long as us.

  11. It might sound crazy… okay, it will sound crazy… but when this happened to my dog, the vet recommended a chiropractic adjustment. spinal compression? Just go in for a pull, and a realignment, and badda bing.

    And Waiter, it was magic. 100%. But make sure you find someone who does pets or kids – they’re more used to the much smaller amounts of tension.

  12. I’ve been reading for so long but haven’t commented in years…but oh. Oh. Oh. This post is beautiful. As an animal lover who’s dealt with sick pets and making those choices, my heart was set at ease when I learned Buster is home and with you. Oh, what a beautiful post about love.

  13. All I want to do right now is hug you, then give Buster a bunch of bacon. THIS is the absolute worst part of having an animal companion: making “THAT” decision. I’m so glad you’ve got more time, and I hope that time stretches into healthy, happy years.

    Hugs to you, to Buster, and to the amazing gal you’ve got in your life (because you and Buster both deserve to have someone amazing)

  14. In one terrible hour a few years ago, three things happened: a freak storm toppled a tree onto our house, nearly a half-million houses in our area lost power, and our beloved dog suddenly became so horribly ill that we had to make The Decision. It was awful. We were without power for almost 4 days in the middle of a blistering hot Texas summer. While we sat with our grief, we had to cope with the aftermath of what a very sick dog leaves behind, unable to clean until electricity was restored.

    She was the sweetest being that ever came into our lives. The horror of her final hours made the grief paralyzing for too long. Though a new dog hasn’t found its way into our home, we know that it is possible. There seems to be a dog shaped hole right in the middle of our hearts.

  15. I love my dog more then most people. I mean I would walk through the fiery flames of hell for her. You are not a weird pet person, you just love you dog.

  16. For some reason, I always imagined Buster as a Boxer. Huh.

    I’m SO GLAD he’s ok! I’d just finished reading something sad, and I kinda teared up a little. We’ve had to put one dog to sleep (it was my mom’s dog, but I was there in the last hours, it was sudden), and I get all misty-eyed just thinking about either of my dogs not being around anymore.

    I’m so glad I caught your foreshadowing, or I might have lost it.

  17. As a child I wept over the loss of a couple of our dogs. As an adult I doubt I would do so over the two we have now – but grief is grief and I can understand your pain.
    Nice to see that there’s still some life in the old dog yet! ;-)
    Thanks for the new posts.

  18. The same thing happened to my parents dog last year (about a week before my sisters wedding)

    She had the surgery ($$$$) and has made a full recovery. Everey day I’m grateful Mum and Dad had the resources to keep her with us

    the next day I went and got insurance for my two girls.

    Get Well Soon Buster

  19. I know how you feel, man. My dog had the exact same symptoms a few months ago. After tests, the docs said it was a vertebrae. It turned out to be both a vertebrae and Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis, and she passed away.

    It’s a difficult thing for a person to go through, and I’m so glad that your news was better than mine. Enjoy your time with Buster, even at 3,5, and 6 AM :)

  20. Some 8 years ago, one of our cats started walking in tight circles. His MRI revealed a tumor in his skull. We went the holistic route, but the cancer still got the best of him. I’m so glad you and Buster don’t have to suffer in the same horrible way.

    We did learn one valuable lesson from our experience with Linc – buy pet insurance.

  21. Not yet, you bet. You are not crazy to love Buster like a child. Any pet owner knows better.

    This would have been a tough ordeal. I am glad you have gone through the worst and better days lie ahead of you all.

  22. You could check out a pet chiropractor. Yes, I know it sounds woo-woo, but it works.

    Having said that, I’m glad that you and Buster have more time together. I had a cat that had the same symptoms, but we didn’t have such a good outcome. Her first owner smoked in the house so much, I believe she gave the kitty cancer, manifesting in a nasal tumor that caused neurological issues. =( RIP Peep.

  23. My pet bassethound, also called Buster, also was ill. I swore I’d never spend over a thousand bucks on him, but at the vet when they started quoting prices, through tear-filled eyes, I said do whatever it takes. Here is a link for doggy steps. I’d recommend both a two step for the couch and a three step for the bed.

    http://pet-supplies.drsfostersmith.com/search?af=type%3Aproduct&view=grid&w=dog%20steps&visitorID=&cartcount=0&wishcount=0&subtotal=0.00&division=

  24. Enjoy every moment you have with him. Keep him with you for as long as he can enjoy life. When he can’t, he won’t understand. Then you’ll do what you have to do — and what’s best for him.

    I don’t take it lightly. The wife and I kept a cat with kidney problems alive for three years with semi-daily shots of fluid into the back of his neck from an IV bag. You think that was fun? Nu uh. But between times he enjoyed life, and we kept it up until something else got him.

    And when they’re gone, remember them. We do. I think that counts for something, somewhere.

    And when they’re gone, remember them.

  25. A similar thing has just happened to me, but it was my cat, Charlie, that was ill. Although Charlie is a cat he eats like horse after two days of barely eating and spending the entire time in a small box he likes to sit in sometimes we took him to the vets. To get Charlie in his cat box is usually a challenge and he ‘cries’ all the way there. On this day he didn’t make a sound. The vet saw him and gave him a once over and after the examination Charlie made a long, moaning wounded sound, one i’ve have never heard an animal make and he was admitted immediately. They did a number of blood tests and found that he was anemic, so anemic in fact that he shouldn’t be alive; a normal red blood count for a cat is between 30% and 40% and Charlie’s was 8%. They immediately gave him a blood transfusion and kept him in for a week. In the meantime, the other test results had come back and the vet had discovered that he has been bitten by something that carried a parasite which attached itself to his red blood cells and when his immune system tried to attack this parasite it also killed the red blood cells. After the transfusion, Charlie’s blood count went up to 10% but three days later it went down to 8% and the vet found out that his immune system had gone haywire and now was attacking healthy blood cells. The only thing to do was to give Charlie another blood transfusion and put him on anti-immune drugs and steroids, which they did and Charlie was admitted in total for 11 days. A month later and Charlie is still on 20mg of Prednisolone a day and is likely to be on them for quite a while. The cost of the vets was £3000 ($4700) and luckily we had insurance so all we had to pay was £50. Had we not had insurance we would have found the money from somewhere. There is no way we were going to let Charlie down and let him die because we couldn’t afford to help him. Having insurance is what is being a responsible owner is I suppose, like scooping that poop.

  26. Steve, you probably know this already, but just in case: one of the geezer-supply catalogs I get sells a ramp to enable dogs to get from floor to bed once they can’t jump any more.

  27. I am so happy he is OK. I once had to help out my daughter with her cat and pay for the operation to save his life by removing a crushed back leg. That cat had no idea he was in any way handicapped! He had an odd gait and to see him run! Lord, it looked like his back end was going to rush past his front end. So glad Buster is doing better and has no idea what happened!

  28. Went through that with my dog several years ago; frightening drive to emergency vet who got him stabilized. He had a relapse a week or so later, but we had that additional week with him and it meant a lot.

  29. Oh boy do I ever feel for you. In 2006 (my senior year of college out of state), my dog of 16 years, Inky, had to be put down because she started having strokes that rendered her unable to walk or control her bodily functions. Since I was 1250 miles away I only got a very distraught call from my parents one morning out of the blue saying they were taking her in RIGHT THEN to be put down. As soon as I hung up the phone I broke down and sobbed harder than I ever had in my life (I was so very thankful I lived alone in an off-campus apartment that year). I’d had that dog since I was in Kindergarten and I didn’t get to say goodbye. I cried off and on for a solid week after that. Inky is now resting in a little sealed pet casket buried in our back yard with a small flower bed on top of her with a little engraved stone marker in the flowers. I’m glad you didn’t have to do that with Buster.

    I don’t think caring that much about the well being of your dog is weird or obsessive. I’ve always called my dog my “fur baby” because they’re not just pets, they are members of the family with personalities all their own and it’s painful when you lose them. I’m an illustrator for a living and one of my frequent commissions is for pet portraits… I make them look illustrated like a Disney-esque character because of my illustration style and I’ve had LOTS of people commission me to draw their dogs. Their kids? Not so much. The dog? absolutely. One of my regular clients is a woman who gets an illustrated Christmas card of her dog every year.

    Have you considered doggie chiropractic? I had vertebrae problems in my neck a few years ago (a remnant of art school workloads) that made my entire upper body feel like it was shot up with Novocaine. I couldn’t even hold a pen to write my name let alone draw anything… as an artist that is ABSOLUTE TERROR, let me tell you. I was healed with chiropractic. My chiro has done adjustments on her own dog when it was having some health problems and it worked.

    I’ve also heard of acupuncture for dogs like what your doc suggested and second that. I get acupuncture done on my right wrist all the time to alleviate the pain I get from working during my busy season (Sept-Dec for the holidays) and it works wonderfully with no pain at all because the needles are so small. I’d recommend acupuncture to ANYBODY having pain problems.

    I hope your little Buster continues to get better! We had to make adjustments to our house when Inky got arthritic and was almost blind and completely deaf. Fuzzy stair steps for the couch, a little ramp going out the back door, etc. There’s tons of great stuff out there for elderly dogs… even memory foam dog beds!

  30. So did the pet insurance cover the MRI and other costs? I’ve always wondered when it comes time to do these sorts of tests how far they are willing to pay before they refuse, or if you have to wait to get an approval first before treatment (which would have not been good in Buster’s case)

  31. I hope Buster continues to improve. He has always been a delightful dog to read about. Maybe your next book could be about this wonderful animal!

  32. Please join us at http://www.dodgerslist.com – many of us are dealing with crate rest issues as well. It’s a challenge. We compare stories and make suggestions, and provide support. These great people got us & our dog Nutmeg through 6 weeks of crate rest. We didn’t get much sleep, either!

    http://www.dodgerslist.com/literature/CrateRRP.htm

    Everyone, as for chiropractic, PLEASE be sure your dog does not have disc calcification, known as IVDD (intravertebral disc disease) first. It tends to run in dwarf breeds. Chiropractic could cause paralysis in a dog with this condition.

    Best wishes to you and Buster. Dogs make every day better, don’t they?

    -Colleen

  33. How bout posting a picture of Buster? Since you gave up your identity.. would you have a problem posting a picture of the two of you?

  34. I know exactly the feelings you are going through as me and my mom and stepdad are going through them as we speak. I haven’t been on this site in a very long time stumbled upon it just now. My mom has a 12 year old Basset Hound that she got my senior year of high school after my Bulldog passed @ the age of 13. Last wednesday Bo, our Basset, who is 75lbs fell to the floor crying. He ruptured a disk and is now paralyzed in his hind legs. We are having to make the decision to put him down. I now with 3 hours away and won’t be able to see my old buddy before he goes. I will desperately miss my friend. As I’m writing this my stepdad just called me to tell me that they just put him down. RIP Bo.

  35. So glad to hear Buster is doing well! Steroids are miracle drugs.
    As a vet student and (of course) pet lover, I completely understand what you’re going through. I’ve had to put three of my own dogs down in the last decade, and it’s always heart breaking. I often tear up when assisting in euthanasias as a tech.
    It’s refreshing to hear a story of such a responsible pet owner, though. I’ve had too many sad experiences with owners who can’t afford treatment, even if the pet has a good prognosis. Pet insurance can be great!
    Definitely speak with your vet before going to a canine chiropractor, but it could be a good idea.
    And to continue the theme, I always pictured Buster as a Maltese. Perhaps it’s all of those Maltese Falcon references…

  36. I‘ve been reading your blog since the beginning but this is my first post. I‘ve found myself almost crying reading this, going home from work, in a subway, a million miles away… crying for a dog i‘ve never meet or even seen. I don‘t know if it‘s because i‘ve come to know Buster from your stories or your wonderful writing but i had to use my all to not burst into tears, thankfuly, halfway through i remembered the title and realised the story must have a happy ending. How about a picture of the little rascal? I think many of your readers would love that!
    I will just play with my dog today, as soon as i get home.

  37. The only thing worse than losing a dog is not having had him in the first place; there is nothing that would make having that unconditional love not worth having. Dogs are the best!

  38. Hi,

    I just started reading your book in Audio, read by Scott Brick. I’m in N Ireland, and most of my local friends are in the catering business, and I enjoy my grub myself.

    I am Blind and can relate to your heart ache regarding Buster. My first Guide Dog is still alive, but at just over 13 the rational part of my mind knows she’s not going to be around for the next 5 years. She’s got dodgy back legs, but is on the best food money can buy, and my parents who adopted her after she retired spare no expense on their middle-class finances in keeping her in tip-top condition.

    I really just wanted to write and say myself, my wife to be and our two current Guides, Bliss and Orla wish you and Buster all the best.

    Regards,
    Barry.

  39. I’ve been reading this blog from the start, and I love it…but this was the first time I had to leave the computer mid-read to make sure I wouldn’t end up teary-eyed at work. I’m so glad this story had a happy ending. I know only too well how much it hurts to say goodbye to a member of the family that not only loves you, but loves you unconditionally and without any expectation. I read a few stories about the connection between man and dog a few weeks ago that really affected me, and linked to them from my blog. Here they are: http://www.healingpointtherapeutics.com/blog/2012/02/11/Everyone-Loves-A-Feelgood-Story.aspx
    Enjoy the read!

  40. So glad it wasn’t a brain tumor. When I first read the beginning I was sure that’s what it was. I have a 16 year old pointer mix. It is hard to see them get older and not be the dog they once were. I think it’s worth it though.They give so much loyalty to us without asking for much in return. Longtime reader, but have hardly ever commented. Give Buster a kiss for me.

  41. This just put me to tears at my desk at work. Just last night my lil’ guy was limping and he has a harder time jumping on the couch these days. He is also 9 years old. It’s amazing how much we can love an animal. They are a family member. They are there for the good times and bad, and no matter what, they will never turn their back on you. All dogs want is your love and acceptance. So glad to hear Buster is on the mend. I hope you get many more years of joy and love.

  42. Just the THOUGHT of my dog dying causes me to burst into tears….she saved my life. So glad Buster is still with you and recovering!!

  43. So happy for you and Buster. I spent a week giving our eldest Pedia-Lyte and strained baby food meat with a syringe for a week last year due to an air bubbles in her bowels. While we did not have to crate her, she got carried everywhere, outside for some air and up to bed at night. Crate rest is tough on everyone but you will get to the end and still have Buster by your side.

    Acupuncture is a great idea.

  44. I loved your book, but coming to your blog for the first time I find it far removed from waiter related topics. It seems to have evolved to a personal diary of your life. Is this fame and fortune influencing you. I am a server and expected to identify with some ” server ” related issues. I do not mean to be cruel but I am not one of those blog addicts, simply a server expecting server related talk on a server blog.

  45. I just found out that my corgi has developed degenerative arthritis at only 4 years of age. While she still has years ahead of her, it was a sobering moment to have to sit down and discuss quality and length of life with the vet. Everything has changed, from what she eats to building steps and ramps to help ease the impact of daily movement on her joints. It has taken everything in my power not to concentrate on the end but the miles we have yet to travel together.

    I haven’t been to your blog in months. On a whim, I decided to stop by and this was the first post I read. It was just what I needed. Thank you.

  46. I should have realized when my mother didn’t replace her last dog. My mother always had dogs, from before I can remember, I was so young.

    Mom’s been gone 6-1/2 years now. I didn’t see it coming, although I should have. I cry for her every day, and I miss every single dog she ever had.

  47. Steve! when I got here “Being an idiot, when I got home I Googled “dog” and “brain tumor”, I burst into tears.
    Everyone is right, the hardest thing about pets is when they get old &/or sick. I’m looking at my sweet girl dog right now (5 yo) & giving her kissses! So glad your news was good; speedy recovery to Buster. WOOF.

  48. I am so glad Buster’s going to be OK! It must have been terrible for you. Like many of the other posters, I’ve been through a similiar experience, in my case with the worst outcome. Your post made me cry not just for my late beloved dogs, but for Buster and for what you are going through. A lovely piece of writing as usual- it really touched me, and not just as a dog person. Best of luck to you and your doggies

  49. I’m so happy that your little dog is recovering. The little munchkins know exactly how to wrap themselves around our hearts, and having gone through a health scare with my cat a few years, I know how devastating it can be. My little mixed breed cat had one of her anal sacs explode (the “Great Ass-plotion” as I called it), and because it happened on a Sunday I had to take her to a pricey emergency clinic. It all worked out in the end (no pun intended), and I learned the myriad ways cats are able to spit out their medication.

    This might be an inappropriate forum to bring this up, but the situation with your purebred is alarmingly common. Almost all purebred dogs have health risks associated with their high degree of genetic relatedness. It makes me sad that humans celebrate cultural diversity in their fellow man, yet will only settle for genetic purity in their dogs. Would you have children with your cousin? Or worse, would you get your sister pregnant? This is exactly what happens with many dog breeders.

    In the wild animals are smart enough to avoid breeding with individuals from their own bloodline, as they are aware of the genetic risks. It’s unfortunate that human vanity causes people to seek out purebred animals instead of selecting their healthier mixed breed counterparts. Mixed breeds have loads of personality, and bring wonderful traits to the table.

    And no, it’s not lost on me that a number of royal families are dangerously inbred. That didn’t work out terribly well, and why would it be any different for dogs? I recommend reading some basic genetics, as they might do a better job of explaining the risks associated with purebred dogs. We all know that pugs and bulldogs often require surgery to ease their respiratory woes, so why not choose a dog that is truly unique? My two cents worth …

  50. That was the first post I’ve read on your blog as I was just wondering about across the internet, and I’m definately going to read your other posts! I’m only a 14 year old girl, but that was truly touching.

  51. I’m so glad Buster is okay! I’m an animal lover, too. I have 2 cats (we’re apartment dwellers in a smallish apartment atm- not much room to bring a dog in the mix YET ;) )and 2 sons, and I don’t think that loving your pets and referring to them as your babies is wrong at all. I have both, and I love both my children and my furchildren completely and with my whole heart. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for any of them. I find it odd that so many parents take issue with saying that your pet is akin to your child. Pets are just as dependent on your care as a human child. Even more so, once your human children reach a certain age. Love cannot be quantified. Just because you love your human children does not mean you can’t love your animal children in much the same way, and loving your animal children like you love your human children does not undermine your love for your human children, and it definitely does not take anything away from your human children. Does having a second child take away from the love you have for your first child? I think not. If anything, my kids are getting an early lesson in caring for another life. And I really think that having animals is great for small children. My older son is wonderful with animals, and my younger son, who is naturally very boisterous, has learned how to be gentle with those weaker than him. Our pets are very pampered and loved members of our family, and it has just been a win-win situation.

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