Monday, April 27, 2015

It's a lot quieter here...

It's been real quiet over the last couple weeks since Alfie has gone. His toys are still sitting in his box and I've not had the heart to pack them up yet. I got his ashes from the vet on the following Monday I had him put down. They have a beautiful little wooden box with a gold plate with his name engraved on it. I put it on a shelf with two of his favorite toys by the box.

In other news, there will be two more Scooby-Doo 'You Choose' books from Capstone (Books 11 & 12) that I'll be working on soon! 

The last two weeks I've been cleaning out old emails and updating my contacts as well as cleaning the studio out of older stuff. Life changes fast it seems over the past two years as I contacted Dalmatian Press and they are no longer the same as they were. I knew something was up when I got back the bounced emails I sent to say "Hi". After I made some calls I learned they split off from Anderson Press and are under the Bendon umbrella now. I knew several people that were there who are now gone and off to new adventures. Most people wouldn't know the changes as their product still looks the same on the store shelves and most don't know the behind the scenes of it of it like the creatives would. I did work for Dalmatian Press for 10 years from 2002-2012 which is a long time in itself. Things certainly don't stay the same forever.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

ALFIE (2003-2015)

Alfie is no longer with us.

He was 12 years old.

He was put down at around 9pm on Monday night, April 6th, at the vet. This was the worst Easter holiday ever. As this was going on, I had swelling above my right knee that kept me from walking normally. I woke up with it on Thursday and I'm not sure how I got it but it must have been from some leg strain. So when I could I kept ice on it. This didn't help the situation.

For about a week and a half, Alfie had been 'off' in ways. He would eat and have a blow out, but then he was still drinking water to fight off dehydration. I got concerned as there was nothing to clean up in the backyard as it was all watery. He was still playful and wanted to walk. He wouldn't touch the normal dog food and he wanted people food. He got boiled chicken each day with his special diet food (as he developed irritable bowel disease during the summer of 2013). Last Sunday for dinner he had some beef instead. He gobbled it down only to throw it back up later with most of it undigested. That was the start of when he went downhill. 

Over the week he wouldn't really eat and what he did eat he would go and blow it out every morning. On some occasions it was pure water and you'd have to clean him off when he came back inside. He would eat if you hand fed him the good stuff like chicken but he wouldn't touch the kibble dog food. I worried about this as he's only 4.2 pounds and he felt like skin and bones from his whole ordeal during August of 2013. I figured that he has to eat and he was also taking a half of an appetite stimulant every morning as well. That didn't work anymore. He was supposed to get a full pill for the day, half in the AM and half in the PM. The problem was then that he was up in the middle of the night chowing down so I just gave him the half a pill for the last year and a half. 

On Good Friday, the 3rd, I went to the vet to get some more stimulant pills and a box of his other pills to keep his liver healthy. I came back home and gave him a second half of the stimulant in the afternoon. He still didn't eat. He would go over and smell it and then take a drink of water and walk away. He would go off and pull a bone out of his toy chest and chew on that but that wasn't nutritional.

Late Friday night, I was in bed reading with my foot up on some pillows and was half asleep. Alfie was on my stomach sleeping and suddenly he slipped off my stomach and started moving wildly which freaked me out. I thought he was having a dream. I grabbed him and petted him and he was then ok. I didn't know it at this time but he had an small seizure. He seemed fine and wasn't scared. He was fine the rest of the night till about 7am Saturday and he then got up and was disoriented and peed on my bed. I got him outside and he went again and then sat in the hallway watching me take the sheets off and change the bed stuff as he then went into the other room and threw up some of the chicken he had from the previous night. Some pieces were undigested. After it was all cleaned up and I got back with him into bed he was fine though I stayed awake now fearing the worst.

Naturally it was a holiday weekend, and most vets are out and let staff deal with people who come in. When he had another blow out on Saturday morning around 11am I called his vet and luckily she was in and if I could get him there by 1:30pm she could see him. I got him up there and they did a blood test on him. Looking at the results of his levels when he had his ultrasound in August 2013, you could see that most had elevated over the last year and a half, which wasn't good. The vet thought he also might have had some inflammation or something that she felt on his lower abdomen but she wasn't sure. She said she would know more if he got another ultrasound but I didn't think that would help much. She gave him an antibiotic injection that might help him and he got some fluids. The vet wasn't optimistic. The vet said that she would be there all day Monday and to let her know what we wanted to do.

I brought him home and he was feeling better. He ate some chicken and he had a couple Frosted Flakes as they were sweet. Any food in him was good. He still didn't touch the kibble diet food though. He ate well the rest of the day with no blow outs. He drank his water a lot though. We spent most of the day laying on my bed as I had my leg up on pillows with ice on my knee.

He got up and went outside. As with the last few mornings, he looked shaky getting up on the bed and it would take him a bit to get situated. As I didn't want him to pee on the bed again I carried him downstairs and outside so he could go. He just tinkled and came in. He wasn't really playful and didn't want to walk. We would go out front on his lease and he would just sit on the sidewalk in the sun. He just stood there and looked around. I knew at this point that it wasn't going to end well. He seemed listless the rest of the day and would go into his bed and look out occasionally to see what was going on. He spent time with me as I sat and kept my leg elevated. He seemed content.

He went out earlier in the morning to go and came back in and everything was fine. He went back to sleep again and was fine till around 11am. He got up and I saw him stagger a bit as he seemed shaky. I picked him up and carried him downstairs and put him out. I thought he could go out the door and down the two steps as he did earlier with no problem. He went out the door and after the second step and he went into the mat face first and rolled on his back. I freaked out. As I went out the door, he got himself right up and try to walk to the side where the grass was. His back legs didn't seem to be working in unison like they should and looked like he was drunk. He got to the grass and peed and then took a few steps and almost fell again. I caught him though and walked with him. He just wasn't stable on his legs. This was not good. He looked out of it. 

I came back in and called the vet as I knew it was time to have him put down. They were busy and said to call back again at 7:30 pm to get some quiet time there so they could do it. At this point, my mother was upset and she knew it was over for him as well. We took turns looking over him and holding him. It was going to be a looooonnngg day.

Thankfully, it was a beautiful warm day and I spent most of the whole day with Alfie either by his side or he was sitting in my arm. I snapped some photos of him sitting in the sun. He would sit on his hind legs and not move as I think he wasn't too sure of his own legs. It was uncomfortable for him to lay completely on the ground for while as he was more skin and bones than padding so I got a folded towel outside and he laid on that. He sat there for an hour. Took him back inside and he ate some liverwurst and some ham and he loved it. He ate a lot of it and he was content. He took another long drink and we went back outside to sit in the sun.

During the afternoon I held him in front of me as I tried to kill time on the computer. My knee was also feeling a bit better as well. Sometimes he would try to walk and I'd let him as I be right there and he walked fine. Then in the late afternoon, we walked again and his legs would give out on him. It was just sad. I caught him every time but it just wasn't good. He did poop again but it was loose. He had a hard time standing so I had to hold him as I wiped him. I think he knew he wasn't right either. I got some nice photos of him outside on the front lawn right before his little front legs started giving out. I picked him up and just held him most of the time.

Then, around 5:30pm, my mother and I gave him some more ham which he loved. She held him for a bit after that to give my arm a rest. It was 5:50pm when she asked him if he was thirsty and she put him down slowly in front of his water dish when you could see his back legs strained out in weird directions and then he freaked out. She picked him up and held him as he violently thrashed in her arms. She was like "I can't handle this" and was ready to cry. I grabbed him from her arms and got him down on the kitchen rug as fast as I could (I, of course, landed hard on my good knee and you could hear it hit the tile). Alfie was twisting and turning in a full seizure and all I could do was contain him and try to stop him from banging his head on the hard floor. Thankfully we were on a rug by the door. As this went on, my mother called the vet and they said there was nothing you can really do when they have a seizure except try to calm them down. The seizure lasted about 2 minutes. It was one of the most horrible things I ever saw. His neck was twisting like a corkscrew and he would twist and flop like a water out of water on a dock. His face was utter terror and his tongue was out. I got him calmed down and he sat on the rug for a few minutes and I picked him up again. He seemed fine but he was shaking. He stopped shaking about 15 minutes later. We have a popular vet so they were still busy and told us they would call us when it good to bring him up. The good part of all this is that I was there right then. I had a doctor's appointment that I cancelled in the morning so Alfie would have had his seizure about five minutes after I walked out the door.

So now we babied the dog and when he tried to get up he would fall over or trip. We just sat him on a bed and petted him telling him it would be all right. My mother picked him up and was holding him again and he started to freak out when I left the room or his sight. In his panic he started having another small seizure. Mother held him tight and you could see his legs outstretched and tense as she held him secure. He was safe but scared. He came out of it faster this time as this one wasn't that bad. You had to keep his mind calm. Thankfully my mother was there and she was going with me to the vet as I couldn't drive to the Vet's place in West Chester and hold him. If he had a seizure while I was driving... Yikes!

The vet called at 7:40pm and said to bring him. We got in my car and left. The ride was good (about 40 minutes away) and he didn't panic. We got to the vet and there were still people there but they were leaving. We had to wait 25 minutes or so to see the vet as she had a long day of people coming in after the holiday. Alfie was looking alert when we got there. He didn't panic or shake. When we mentioned the seizures to the vet she said it was time as "you don't want to handle that." Plus, with him not being able to walk correctly or go to the bathroom without having a blow out it wasn't fair to him. He would just waste away and he didn't deserve that. 

We took his collar off and then said goodbye to him as the vet held him. I kissed him and told him he was a good boy. He seemed calm as they left the room. I didn't want to be there to see her give him the needle. I don't think I could handle that as it was hard enough.

I decided to pay the paid the bill then and I'll be getting his ashes as well.

I got in the car, sat, and just cried. 

I felt better knowing he was now chasing bunnies and squirrels and in no pain. 

I'm still heartbroken writing this and I took a photo of his toy chest today when I got up as it's the first thing I see by my door. Everything is in the same position as he left it.

All in all, Monday was a beautiful warm day in the sun and we spent it together.

He had a great life, had lots of toys, two walks a day, and ate better than some people in third world countries. I remember the day I got him and was at the breeder's home, with my mother who was the instigator for getting a new dog, and he was the one out of all the others that saw me and never left my side that day. I knew he was the one that would be coming home with me. He had such a beautiful face and I'm glad that I took as many photos and some video of him over the years to look at. He had ten and a half great years and only had the issues in the summer of 2013 and then he was basically fine for the next year and half though he couldn't just eat what he wanted to so that was the biggest downside for him. So really, he only two bad months out of 12 full years. I'd take those odds.

He was loved and will be missed.