Facing Death

Charlie's grave

Charlie’s grave

Prince Charles Sundiata Kibushi’s struggles are over. He was born August 18, 2005 and left this world April 23, 2013. He was a happy little guy and I feel my life has been greatly enriched by having him as my little buddy since July 2006.

May he rest in peace

May he rest in peace

Life is about living and hopefully along that journey we learn to love our lives. We can enrich our lives in so many different ways, especially now as we exist in this technological advanced age. We may be surprised where our life lessons lie and we will only learn from them if we open our minds, hearts and eyes.
Last night I held my brave little teacher as he took his last breath. I dreaded that day and still find it very hard not to tear up when I think about him and the great loss in my life now that he has passed on.
One lesson that has imprinted in my heart and mind is that I am capable of great love and therefore must be strong enough to endure great loss. He may have been ‘just a dog’, as I was recently told, but within his loving nature I found more of myself and saw myself reach new heights of loving kindness. My life isn’t about me or what makes me happy, my life is about what can I do for others and how can I lighten their load.
I have memory obstacles to overcome as I file past hurts into the ‘It Really Doesn’t Matter’ category and blinders to create so that I can filter out the human interaction and emotional crap that only clouds my ability to love another.
In conclusion, Thank you, Charlie, for being a part of our lives. The simple love and joy of loving us that was who you were will not be forgotten. Good night, my little buddy. I’ll see you on the other side.
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Losing my little buddy has been dificult. This letter from his Doctor is a wonderful tripbute to how special he was.
->
Joan,

I am so sorry to hear of Charlie passing. We knew that it was inevitable
but nonetheless, it was quite a shock to me when I read it and all the air
went out of me.

I never think of our companions as “just dogs.” They are so much more than
that! As you said, they teach us until they leave us. They show us how to
love unconditionally, they show us the meaning of patience and of course,
they allow us to see that we can become better people. And in the very end,
they are never afraid and their final message to us not to be scared and
that we are loved. This goes to show how selfless and how simply wonderful
they are.

Charlie was truly the nicest Basenji I have ever met in my life. Obviously
it’s my business to know dogs but I can honestly say that I have never met
another Basenji as trusting or sweet as him. And also to his credit was how
well behaved when he was here-the day of his procedure I had both my
anesthesia technician as well as my Medicine technicians comment on what a
great dog he was. I know he is resting in doggie heaven now or wherever
good dogs go to wait for their families.

Charlie was so very lucky to be a part of your family and you did
everything you could for him.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Sincerely,
Jenny Cho
<-
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Thank you, Dr. Cho, for your kind words as they have meant a lot to us.
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I fear that the mass is now growing into his nasal cavity on both sides.

my little guy needs to be propped up to sleep.

my little guy needs to be propped up to sleep.

Ruby knows things are not well - she stays by his side

Ruby knows things are not well – she stays by his side

The bumps on Charlie's face & head are getting larger

The bumps on Charlie’s face & head are getting larger

Ruby & Charlie napping 4-6-13

Ruby & Charlie napping 4-6-13

Resting on the couch with mom, not having a very good day on 3/23/13

Resting on the couch with mom, not having a very good day on 3/23/13

Charlie's balance is still good as he perches on the back of the couch to catch some rays this morning 3-16-13

Charlie’s balance is still good as he perches on the back of the couch to catch some rays this morning, 3-16-13

Charlie & Ruby sunbathing on a MN winter's day.

Charlie & Ruby sunbathing on a MN winter’s day on 3-13-13

Charlie nesting on mom's bed

Charlie nesting on mom’s bed 3/8//13


Charlie checking out the birds in the tree outside

Charlie checking out the birds in the tree outside 3/8/13

3-1-13, Friday afternoon nap

3-1-13, Friday afternoon nap

Looks like I lost my chair to the kidlettes, again.  Ruby is going to really miss her companion.

Looks like I lost my chair to the kidlettes, again. Ruby is going to really miss her companion.

Charlie & Ruby catchin some rays on the stairs 2-27-13

Charlie & Ruby catchin some rays on the stairs 2-27-13

Charlie & Ruby soaking up some rays. (2-26-13)

Charlie & Ruby soaking up some rays. (2-26-13)

Last night, 2-25-13, was not a good night for Charlie. He seems to be having issues breathing last night and into today.

Last night, 2-25-13, was not a good night for Charlie. He seems to be having issues breathing last night and into today.

Nap time in the sunshine after rambunctious play time!

Nap time in the sunshine after rambunctious play time!

Charlie & Ruby sharing the couch with Vera. 2-24-13 a.m.

Charlie & Ruby sharing the couch with Vera. 2-24-13 a.m.

A little bit of mutilation occurred in our living room on 2-21-13

A little bit of mutilation occurred in our living room on 2-21-13


Charlie - feeling pretty well, 02-21-13

Charlie – feeling pretty well, 02-21-13

Charlie 2-20-13

Charlie 2-20-13

Guarding mommy as she writes.

Guarding mommy as she writes.

Unbeknown to us our dear Charlie (tri-colored Basenji) has been suffering from a quickly growing mass inside his nasal cavity. We had taken him to our local Vet who prescribed antibiotics thinking it may be some kind of infection. It was not easy to tell what was going on with Charlie as he is such an easy going fabulous disposition dog. When it became obvious that the antibiotics weren’t working Charlies was referred to the U of M Small Animal Hospital for a further diagnosis. The Doctor from the U gave us a preliminary diagnosis of cancer, “The CT revealed an infiltrating soft tissue mass in his right nasal sinuses and extending through the nasal septum and into the left sinus. His lymph nodes in this area were mildly enlarged. Also seen were areas of bone lysis in his sinuses and maxilla (upper jaw). We then took biopsies of his sinuses for histopathologic identification.” We await the conformation.

As a self-professed ‘Crazy Dog Lady’ this new event in our lives has hit me like a ton of bricks. I am faced with decisions I never dreamed I would ever have to face let alone decide what to do. My life’s reality is now one with new colors, emotions and horrendous heart-break. We, as a family, decided to put Charlie on a cancer drug and to make his life as comfortable as possible for as long as is right – and let the tears flow.

My mother, of blessed memory, completed her circle of life 12 years ago. Lung cancer took her from us. I mention her as we are again faced with a diagnosis and very limited time left to enjoy the ones we love so dearly. Some people may criticize me for comparing my mother, who was a human being, to Charlie, who is a dog. Yes, they are two different species, but they were/are a life. Both represent/ed a living force that knew/know no boundaries of love that their brain can comprehend. The heartache I feel does not limit it self because Charlie is a canine. I love with all my heart and therefor feel the pain that accompanies a loss with all my heart.

I’m hoping that as I think about this new reality, and write things down, that I can better understand how to deal with and accept a loss. Charlie will not be the last pet that will complete his circle of life before me nor will my mother be the last human being that will die before me. I love and therefore I cry.

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Home from a day at the U and the diagnosis of cancer

Home from a day at the U and the diagnosis of cancer

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TV night with Mom & Dad. Can you tell who’s more interested in the popcorn than the other? He’s so bright and alert tonight.
rub n chuck 2-3-12

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As we continue on our journey we discover treasures along the way. Even if the trial is narrow or steep at times I try very hard not to pass up moments of beauty or pure joy.chuckie 2-6-12Charlie 02/06/13

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53 Responses to Facing Death

  1. Sarah says:

    I feel your pain friend for sharing a very dear part of your life. I lost my father of blessed memory and coming up on his Yartzheit next week. Exactly 4 months to the day, my dear furry friend of 15 1/2 years passed at home due to old age. I knew within hours that his time had come, and he passed on his favorite pillow while I stroked him. It was hard Mikki, doubly hard that I was still mourning my father. The pain is the same, we love and then our heart is broken from loss. I knew my dog’s health was declining quickly, his time nearing as each passing day, and I chose to make him comfortable with every means possible to allow him to have a quality life. The dreaded decision that I may have to use a Vet’s means to end his life was always in the back of my mind. Just previous a year, my dog’s best furry buddy was also 15 and his suffering was such that we had to make that decision. The circle of life sometimes makes no sense, the pain so immense, the tears flow hard, and always left with questions. I do know though, he never left. My father is still nearby, and so is my dog. It’s not just a thought, therefore I believe, it’s a sense, they really are nearby. The tears still flow, my heart still aches for all of them, for you, for the difficult time you are facing. I’m with you in spirit Mikki, and if anytime you want to talk, you know how to find me.

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  2. Sandi says:

    I don’t believe our heart can tell the difference between love of a human and the love of a dog. I have lost three dogs as they passed on to a new life. It was so very traumatic for me. Love him as long as you can. Then remember this RAINBOW BRIDGE poem. It did not totally comfort me, but it helped.

    Here is the site: http://www.three-little-pitties.com/rainbow-bridge-poem.html

    “I’d tried to stay awake all night to be with her. I could see in her eyes she was ready to leave and I knew a vet couldn’t save her either. I thought about the Rainbow Bridge Poem.

    I didn’t have to tell her I loved her. She knew. I told her anyway.

    At 4:00am I fell asleep with my hand on her paw.

    The funny thing about death is it’s something we all have to do. I don’t fear it for myself and I actually wanted her to go so she could relax. No more struggles to stay by my side. I wanted that for her.

    And then the minute I opened my eyes and knew she was gone, I wanted her back. I knew that was a selfish thought but my heart hurt so badly.”

    RAINBOW BRIDGE

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our pets are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; Her eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your dog, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    ~Author Unknown

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  3. Thank you, Sarah and Sandi. The compassion in your posts is so heart warming and very welcome.
    Yesterday into last night there were less nose bleeds that were due to samples having been taken during his CT/exam on Friday. Dr. Cho said they should diminish, which they did. I do believe Charlie is not in pain, but this morning it seems like he’s having more difficulty breathing.
    Ruby is not herself lately but I do believe she is feeling ALL the stress we are feeling AND she knows something is wrong with her Charlie.
    We shall see what today brings and what tools we use to get through it.

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  4. Today was a really good day for both the dogs. Charlie had very few bloody noses and wanted to and DID play several times today. I need to look upon this as him growing old very fast instead of at the normal rate and know that these good days may end sooner than what I would expect. He does get winded a lot easier and it seems to be an effort for him to catch his breath after heavy play running around the house.
    Ruby was not so distant today and actually got rather aggressive during play. It was nice to see her interact on her normal level instead of being kinder to Charlie. I can tell she knows something is not right.

    I was doing quiet well today dealing with our impending loss until our local Vet called to check on Charlie. Conversing with him brought me back into the reality of the inevitable – Charlie going downhill physically and me/us having to decide when he has crossed over from just not feeling very well to not feeling well at all. I hope my eyes stay clear and focused on Charlie and how he’s doing and that I don’t put on the ‘selfish’ glasses and only see what I want to see.
    I know there are many life lessons to be learned from this situation, but to be honest with myself, I really do not want to have to participate in this lesson at all. I hope I can find a good balance between hope and reality and experience all the love that is left to receive from such a special dog that I don’t have a stack of regrets when it’s over.

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  5. Last night was a good night, not only for Charlie, but for me also. I was able to get over 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep which means Charlie didn’t wake up having difficulty breathing. It’s been nearly 2 months since either of us has slept well, last night was wonderful.
    His right eye is still weeping a bit and he had a bright red bloody nose when he sneezed this morning, the seems to not want to stop. However, he does appear to be feeling better today.
    I have read about and heard others talk about cancer. My knowledge is rather limited. My mother was able to communicate how she was feeling and if she had pain anywhere, Charlie’s verbal talents are limited and his good nature makes it a bit difficult for me to know if he’s hurting or not. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and given 3 days to live, she stayed on with us for 2 weeks. I saw her feel better, then worse, then better again. I was aware that the cancer was continuing to grow faster at times than other times and that she was doing the best she could. I try to remember this as I provide care for Charlie as he lives with, and battles cancer as only he can.
    We adopted Charlie from a gal who was not living a life that provided Charlie with the attention and love that we could. His life with us has been one of Doggie School, Agility Classes, Visiting Elder Care Living Facilitie,attending Family Gatheringss and travels with us.
    His personality, and special type of assertiveness, has developed over the years. He is our Protector. His way of protecting is to be by your side and love you. He guards the grandbabies by staying next to them and watching over them. The last time the boys stayed the night Charlie stayed near the baby every time he wasn’t in my arms. At one point the baby started to fuss and since it was feeding time I put him in his bouncy seat and went into the kitchen to fix a bottle for him. Charlie sat next to him as soon as I got up. When the baby started to cry Charlie came into the kitchen and hit me in the leg with his paw then went back and sat next to the baby. Since I didn’t follow Charlie right away he came back into the kitchen and hit me again.By that time the bottle was ready and I followed him to the baby, that’s when he settled down. That’s the kind of dog our Charlie is and that’s one of the reasons this is so hard for me – knowing my time to enjoy his good nature and unending love is limited.
    We shall see what today brings. The Vet seemed to have no hope, I can understand this. As a Medical professional he probably sees a lot of situations such as this and the outcome may always be the same. If he were to build up false hope he would not be doing his job.
    But, as a dog mom I need all the hope I can find and I need to package it with knowledge of what is really happening then bundle it with the an understanding of Charlie’s situation or I may miss out on some very special times with My Charlie. Tthere’s no going back.
    Writing about this is helping as it’s allowing me to think about and notice all the little things that otherwise may just past by. I’m hoping to allow what I learn from this to further meld me into the person I am destined to become. I just wish the tears would stop.

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  6. Kathy F. says:

    Mikki here’s the story I told you about…it has sure helped me through this journey with Elly May…I think you will agree with Shane.
    Belker
    There was a wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

    As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt Shane could learn something from the experience.

    The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion.

    We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

    Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

    Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.

    He said, “Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody and being nice, right?” The four-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

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  7. Sarah says:

    Out of the mouths of babes. So young yet such an old soul. It’s said that children remember more of previous lives and as we age, we begin to forget. Like you Mikki, I did agility with my little dog, took him to the retirement home and did trick shows, he was forever by my side. The last year, I was up every 2 hours taking him out, and I was exhausted, feeling guilty for being angry at being woken up so much, his kidney’s were in failure, but he lived longer than expected and even at his last breath he struggled to hang on and stay with me. He didn’t want to leave, that’s why I’m convinced he has stuck around, he knows I still need him. One thing I do with all my animals when they’re not well is hold my hands on them and focus my energy at the source of where I believe their illness is, visualizing repair taking place sending healing energy vibrations throughout their bodies, like meditation, focusing the energy through the hands. Some people think that’s nonsense, but so far my animals improve along with common sense care. Does it really work? Who knows, I like to think so, but at the very least, it makes me feel like I’m doing something for them, and I know they can feel my energy in them, because sometimes they get up and leave, I’m guessing it’s too much for them. Some people call it prayer, others call it visualization, light workers the Japanese call it ‘Reiki’, whatever one wants to call it, if we can send out negative thoughts and vibrations out into the world, it makes sense we can send out positive and bring healing. The way I see it, as long as something is still alive and breathing, there IS hope.

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  8. Thank you Kathy and Sarah. Your verbal hugs are welcome and a wonderful addition to my day.
    I received a call from Dr. Cho from the U. I am impressed that she connected with our Charlie the way she did and I truly do believe that we are receiving the best care and advice she can give us. The support we are receiving from family, friends and Vets is so helpful in helping us make the right choices along this very difficult journey.

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  9. Things were not as wonderful last night as they had been the two previous nights. Charlie had issues breathing and I was so tired that I didn’t wake up and help him until his snoring had gotten really loud. He seems alright now (almost 2 pm) and seems to be breathing rather well.
    I have a pot of home made chicken soup on the stove that we all need since we’re over-tired, over-stressed and it is the flu season. The dogs get chicken broth in their dry food, tonight they’ll have something special instead- home made soup.
    A close friend has been providing hospice care for their precious dog and they are now at the end of their journey. I pray for peace and strength as your journey nears it’s end. We see great value in another life and find it easy to love completely. With that love comes pain as our paths separate. May Ellie end this journey in peace and begin her new journey remembering how much she was loved.

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  10. Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss
    http://www.pet-loss.net/

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  11. Today (Friday 2-8-12) we went to the local Vet for a blood test to see if Charlie’s kidneys are handling the cancer drug well. The pharmacy at the U called me this afternoon to refill his prescription, so I guess that things are going well (enough).
    Charlie had quite a few nose bleeds yesterday and didn’t sleep very well last night. He seems to be doing better today and has had just a few nose bleeds so far today. When you look at him you would never know he’s dealing with major health issues. He’s bright alert and very willing to participate in whatever Ruby deems necessary, even if it means chasing the barn cats in the snow outside.

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  12. Yesterday afternoon was not a fabulous day for Charlie, but it couldn’t be compared to his worst. Unfortunately, his breathing issues continued into the night. He didn’t have gasping issues, just difficulty breathing on a somewhat regular basis. He’s sleeping now with his head propped up on Ruby’s back and doing well. Poor guy. He looked at me last night with those sweet eyes as though he was waiting for me to make it all better. When some relief came he closed his eyes again and went back to sleep. Two-legged or four-legged it breaks your heart when you can’t make it all better for your loved ones.
    I am not a nurse by profession for a reason. It is very hard for me to see someone, or an animal, in need of help and I can’t just make it all better and therefore make everyone happy.
    We shall see what today brings.

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  13. (Now, a note to my human children: I don’t love you any less than I love my dogs. I would do the same, and more, for you if it was needed. Please understand this.)

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  14. Monday morning February 11, 2013.
    Yesterday was a rather easy day. Charlie slept rather well the previous night only waking 3 times even with one of the wake ups lasting almost an hour. He seemed to be a bit tired yesterday and had several thin mucous brighter red nose discharges. He did play with Ruby and us a few times. He went outside and ‘explored’ twice with the second time being shorted, I do believe that was due to the wind and the blowing snow.
    Last night he woke twice. He had more mucous discharges last night and into this morning, they have been a darker red a little thicker, less in volume and not lasting as long.
    Ruby was a real pill this morning. She kept pestering and bugging Charlie until he got up and ran around the house chasing her. I then opened the door for them to go out. They ran around outside for a few minutes then came back in a settled down. Charlies was not winded when he came back in. His right eyes seems to be clearer than it has been and he seems to be breathing well, no wheezing or gasping.
    We shall see what today brings!

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  15. It is now 1 pm February 12, 2013. Yesterday proved to be a fabulous for Charlie and me. He seemed to have had a relaxed day with small nose bleeds that were a bit darker in color. I’m not sure if a darker red color in a chronic nose bleed is a good thing or not, but it was different than what had be happening. Charlie played with Ruby and us several times and didn’t seem to get as winded as quickly. He ate dinner as usual, this is one area that has not been affected by his illness. Last night he woke three times with breathing issues with one of those times being more intense than the other two.
    Charlie woke up this morning bright and full of bounce in his step. He ate breakfast fine and ran around outside with Ruby afterward. He’s been lying in the sunshine watching us through the picture window as we slid down the front hill on sleds. You can hear him ‘breathing’ slightly where this didn’t occur before. He seems to not be uncomfortable or in any type of distress outside of his breathing issues at night. I’m in hopes that he can stay pain free for as long as possible.
    Thank you, again, to all of you who have shared your prayers, hopes and encouragement with us as we travel down this new road.

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  16. Tuesday 2-12-13 9pm –
    Lots of bloody noses for Charlie today, thin, non-mucussy brighter red blood, he seems to be okay though. Not a lot of blood but frequent. He and Ruby both had tubbies tonight, they both feel so nice now. We’ll see what tonight brings.

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  17. Yesterday afternoon (2-13-13) was filled with fun as two dogs ran amuck through the house. Charlie was feeling well enough to chase Ruby and then bite her when she was cornered. Ruby, who has not been herself lately, was lively and invited Charlie’s shenanigans to continue. As we got into the evening Charlie played nonstop for about an hour as he brought all kinds of toys to the party then shook them about. My two dogs were back to ‘normal’.
    Then bed time rolled around. Charlie and I slept from around 10:30 to 11:20, that’s when the difficulty breathing started and it stayed an issue till around 4:30. I didn’t get back to sleep until around 5:30 – what a night.
    Charlie was more subdued today and spent most of the day either lying in the sun or on the couch. I don’t know how this cancer grows or changes. I’m not sure what exactly is going on in his sweet little head. I try to remain focused on his well being and disposition so that we can avoid any long term situation that is painful for him. Our goal is for a good life that is free of pain for as long as G-d sees fit. I’m still not sure what lesson is in this for me/us, I’m sure it will become obvious when the time is right. In the meantime I hope while trying to remain realistic as I don’t want to become to self focused or side tracked and miss out on any of the quality time that is left.

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  18. Yesterday (2-14-13) from morning into the evening Charlie had bright red bloody nose, but no quite a nose bleed. I only saw one drop from a nose bleed and that was (thank goodness) outside. I spent most of my day cleaning in the house and shoveling snow outside. I didn’t spend a lot of time near Charlie, but from what I did observe he was doing relatively well. He did have a bit of play in him last night but nothing like the night before. Last night lasted about fifteen minutes than it was time to sit and watch the goings on of the house.
    Last night I got about two hours sleep before hubby and the dogs migrated to bed. Charlie did have difficulty for several hours breathing. I did the things I usually do such as lifting his head and holding it up so he can breathe and laying him on his right side, but nothing seemed to ease his problem. Between helping him and then listening to the hubby snore while Charlie slept last night has left me tired and really crabby. I quit watching the clock after four-thirty rolled around.
    Unfortunately, as the rest of the world continues on at it’s regular pace I have errands to run and appointments to keep. Charlie has had his vitamin and anti-nose bleed medicine this morning. He’s still interested in his food and can get down right silly as he waits for me to put his bowl down, as he did this morning. I’ve arranged for a somewhat dog/baby sitter to check on him and am in hopes all will be well while I’m doing what needs to be done.

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  19. Update on Charlie:
    Last night, 2-18-13, Charlie slept better with only one hour-ish breathing episode around 01:30. The night before he (we) were up for about three hours because he was having issues breathing.
    Yesterday he wanted to play and would bring us toys to start the party (video posted on Facebook). He was a bit slower in his running around the house and you could hear his labored breathing more.
    His nose bleeds have become fewer and farther between and more of a darker red mucus than fresher looking blood, still only from the right nostril. The white of his right eye is more noticeable on a more regular basis. I don’t know if that means the mass in his head is filling/moving more into left side therefore relieving some pressure from the right side or if he’s just doing better for now.
    Today he seems a bit slow with life in general, but it is very cold out and they are enjoying the sun shining through the windows by sunbathing in the sunny spots on the floor.
    He ate all of his breakfast and ate his cookie for going potty just fine.
    We shall see what the day brings.

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  20. Kathy F. says:

    I’ve decided that when I come back, I want to come back as one of your dogs. I would take that rather than any other life form. Charlie could not be in a better place, you can take comfort in that for sure. Amazing how dogs don’t have the sense of “I can’t do that” for what ever reason we as humans can make up. Dogs will give 100% or more all of the time. You can trust that he will let you know when the time comes, that fact brought me a lot of comfort too.

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  21. Thank you, Kathy! Knowing you adds tremendous value to your statement, I am honored your feel that way about me.

    Update on Charlie:
    Yesterday Charlie seemed a bit slower but was still very interested in his food and playing with Ruby and us. Those two took off chasing a cat during one winter potty break and I had to go find them.
    However, he did have quite a few nose bleeds that were less mucus, but still darker red. He had issues breathing several times yesterday later in the afternoon and into the evening culminating in one that must have scared him. He had trouble breathing and nothing I did seemed to help. I picked him up, helped him lay on his other side, messaged his head and neck and nothing seemed to help him.His heart was racing and his eyes looked scared. I picked him up and held him close in a more upright position which seemed to help him, he then fell asleep in my arms. (photo above in original post ‘Charlie 2-20-13’).
    I don’t know what our time frame is with this situation. I try to pay attention to the details so that I don’t miss any joy he gives us or when he needs help. So far it’s one day at a time along with one tear at a time.

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  22. Vinecia says:

    Your poor baby – I can relate as we just had to put our pug Willie down just less than a month ago. Thinking of your family. Take care.

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    • Dear Vinecia,
      I just realized that I never went back and posted my reply to your reply when you mentioned that you guys had recently had to have Willie put down. I was tired and forgot to do what I had intended to do.
      I appreciate that you took the time to share your difficult situation with us. Knowing you from our connection years ago I don’t believe it was easy for you, but you did what was best for your canine family member.
      Thank you, again, for caring enough to share.
      Sincerely,
      mikki

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  23. Update 2-22-13:
    Well . . . . yesterday and last night prooved to be ‘good’ as the new diffinition of good goes for me. Charlie was ‘full-of-it’ to the point that toys were gutted, Ruby was chased a bit and a mad dash to the barn was participated in by both dogs. He was alert and so much fun to watch! (photos posted above)
    Yesterday evening he had one episode of difficulty breathing that seemed to be reduced when I held him more upright and again around 2 am. He slept well the rest of the night and is snoozing just fine now. We shall see what today brings (I’m hopeful)

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  24. So far today has prooved to be another good day. Stuffed animals were gutted and dismembered along with a bit of running and playing. They’re both asleep on my lap as I type.

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  25. Today, 02-23-13, has been yet another good day for Charlie. He woke this morning appearing rested, played several times today, ate well and hasn’t been noticed having any breathing issues or bloddy noses. He’s a silly sweet little boy and these days have been a wonderful blessing for all of us.

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  26. 02-24-13 a.m. – Charlie appears to be doing better the last few days and sleeping better at night. The last photo added above shows how alert and well he looks. My heart is happy.

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  27. Kathy F. says:

    Wow, that’s good news! I’m so glad you are able to be home with them now. That’s how it worked out when my horse had advanced EPM, so much easier than having to go to work everyday and worry what they are going through at home.

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  28. Last night, 2/25-26/13, was not a real good night for Charlie. He woke up several times having issues breathing. We moved him around, took him out, put him on his right side and placed a pillow under his shoulders so that he was on an angle, but nothing seemed to help him. Finally, holding him upright against my should helped him.
    Somebody (dog, that is) threw up on my bed sometime between midnight-ish and 10 a.m. It looked like it was only a bile stain, no dark spots of chunks of any kind. So, I did some laundry today.
    We sat on the couch with him up against my shoulder several times today until he finally fell into a deeper sleep on the couch in the sunshine, with Ruby (see photo above).
    It will soon be din-din time, we’ll see where he’s at then.

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  29. 02-27-13 a.m. Yesterday was not a really good day for Charlie. There were a lot of issues where he had difficulty breathing and they lasted longer, 10 to 15 minutes even with human intervention.
    Last night was a rather resless night. He had several breathing issues and was taken out twice. I did notice last night that both eyes were weeping a bit instead of just the right eye.
    At no time has he appear to be in pain. He has continued to play and is eager for his food when its feeding time. Right now he and ‘The Queen of the House’ are on the steps soaking up some sunshine. We shall see what today brings.

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  30. Last night, 2-27-13, was not a good night. Things started out slow yesterday melding into a rather good evening.
    Charlie seemed to be feeling quite well as he rambunctiously played with Ruby. When play time was over we all settled into my chair, Charlie fell alseep. When he woke up he had a bloody nose that appeared to be a blood clot letting loose that developed into darker red bloody mucus. It didn’t not appear to be a fresh nose bleed as it wasn’t running or brighter red.
    Charlie didnt sleep the best last night and has been asleep pretty much the whole day with only a few times having dificulty breathing. He’s had several light nose bleeds that were more darker blood than mucus but nothing that was continual.

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  31. Personal Lesson number umpteenmillion learned last night. I’ve not had the opertunity to sleep uninterupted through the night since right around Thanksgiving 2012. Jeff has helped with Charlie at night and has been a big help during some rough times for Charlie when Jeff’s not had to go to work the next day, but I’ve reached a point where I am tired, very tired. Last night at one point I actually felt anger over having to get up with Charlie, again, Allbeit for only a few seconds, however, those feelings popped up and that is not good.
    The Lesson: Charlie is not destined for a physical life for that much longer. I can’t waste any of my energy getting angry over something he and I have no control over. I must make the best of this situation for his sake, and mine. Look past the here & now and see what may be our future. Do my part to make the possible future the best that my participation allows for.
    Yesterday was an midiocre day for Charlie and a draggin butt day for me. One would thik with me being this tired I would sleep through some of Charlie’s less traumatic issues and wake up for the more serious ones – not happening, I’m awke for every one of them. Last night was a busy night for us. Charlie couldn’t breath well so I’d move him around, then re-arrange him again or pick him up and hold him, then take him out. The poor little guy is tired and has been sleeping quite well on the couch all morning. Why can’t he sleep this well at night????
    Now that laundry is almost done, the dishes done and the bed made I’m going to move the dogs over and take up most of the couch so I can catch up on some much needed sleep.
    Life in general is not on hold or going forward at a slower pace to accomodate Charlie’s illness and my lack of sleep. I must focus on observing opportunities and seizing them, even if it’s as simple as a nap.

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  32. I haven’t posted any updates in a week since there really hasn’t been much change.
    Charlie is doing better, to a point. He still has issues breathing at night. The suffocating sounds usually don’t start until after he has settled into bed and has relaxed fully. Sometimes they go on for hours other times about fifteen minutes, you just don’t know. We either put him on his right side or have to hold him upright until his breathing is back to normal and he falls back asleep.
    He is more alert during the day and has been very playful. He engages us in play by being silly in front of us or bringing a toy to us so we can throw it for him. He and Ruby have been very interested in chasing the pheasants from the yard when they go out, even in chest deep snow.
    His waste has been a good color with no odd odor and no signs of blood. He has had very few nose bleeds, and there is very limited mucus anymore.
    There has been more white visible in his right eye all week, but that eye does weep more than it did before.
    He has a more consistent cold wet nose than the dry warm nose that had become regular. His appetite is still good, and he is still very interested in receiving his dog treats for payment for tricks.
    We are now in the ‘Life back to somewhat normal’ phase and seeing what each day will bring.
    I want to personally thank each and everyone of you who have posted replies on this blog and/or emailed us. We truly appreciate hearing from you and knowing that you wish Chalie, and us, the best. It helps us knowing we’re not alone during such a trying time. I will continue with weekly updates unless things change one way or the other, then it will be daily again.
    Sincerely,
    mikki

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  33. Charlie had an exceptional evening of play tonight. He played like he hasn’t played in months. He ran around the house at full speed and shook his toys quite roughly. Now he’s napping on the couch next to me with Ruby by his side without having any trouble breathing.
    I don’t know if a change in his diet has anything to do with it or not or if he just had a really good afternoon/evening.
    This is what he gets. About 1/3 cup of a half&half mix of NaturalLife Lamaderm & Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice in the morning and evening. He did receive raw hamburger and less dry dog food. He’s receiving twice daily Fish oil, coconut oil, cinnamon, his anti-nose bleed herbal med, raw honey, turmeric. I have now added cumin to that list. His gets his cancer med in the morning and a LifeVantage Canine Health vitamin in the evening.
    I spend a lot of time with Charlie and have the opportunity to watch him. I’m hoping that I do notice even the subtle changes so that we, as a family, can provide him with the best quality of life possible. I’m so thankful when he has a good day and night. It makes all our efforts worth is and rewarding.

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  34. Chuckie and I had a good night last night! We both slept through the night, well, with only 2 wake ups.
    We finally made it to bed by 10:30 pm. He started having breathing issues and woke me at 11:30. I moved him so that he was on his right side, and we all went back to sleep. Sometime after that the dogs bolted out of bed, I’m thankful Basenjis don’t bark! Chuckie came back to bed, I tucked him in and the next thing I knew it was 6 a.m.!

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  35. Last night was a somewhat sleepless night for both Chuckie and me. It seems to hold true that after he’s had a really good day/night the next 12-36 hours usually include some type of difficulty breathing for him, which in-turn means lack of sleep for me.
    Today he seems to be doing well, not really well or sort-of well but somewhere in the middle. He’s cuddle in his bed next to my chair as I attempt to get some writing done (last/bottom photo posted above). Gotta just love his sweet little heart as he keeps on going through all this. I’m thankful he really has no clue what’s happening to him other than can’t breath from time to time. We just hold him, hug him and love him and work our way through another day.

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  36. Thank you for sharing this, Mikki, it helps me to understand what you are going thru. It’s getting me to face something to – my cousin got me a little kitten for christmas, but i couldn’t accept it – i think i was afraid, between all the stories i see on facebook about animals being lost/killed, and then your stories about Charlie – i’m not sure how well i could deal with a loss like that after all the other losses. But now i live a well insulated, and increasingly lonely, life – i’ve always been a loner – but you know there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.

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  37. I understand what you’re saying, and as I understand it there is a fine line between love and pain. Without one you can not truly understand the other.
    I would like very much for Charlie to be well, which is evident by my efforts to make him comfortable and to take care of him. But, seeing how that is not something I can ‘snap my fingers and make happen’ I do what I can when it’s needed. I would do the same for any family member, or a true friend if it was within my realm of possibilities. In return I get a part of my life filled with unparalleled love that would not exist without this animal/person in my life. I don’t live my life for only pleasurable things, live my life to feel complete as a human and as a wife/mother/grandmother to be needed. I have said good bye to several dogs, cats and horses. I have reached an age where I have had to say good bye to family members, friends and aquaintances. When I think about each and everyone I can recall interactions that, some even over the years, have helped me become the person I am today and their memories will continue to nurture my unfolding as I become the person I am destined to be. I have cried so very hard over the loss of several people and pets, some to the point of being sick, but the thought of a life uncolored by their existence running parallel to mine in this universe is something I that I could not imagine. So, for me a pet I will always have. I treasure cold wet noses touching me to get my attention, happiness exploding through crazy runs through the house and the warmth of a furry body next to mine as I cuddle on the couch with a good book.
    Each of us has our own life to live that really should not be modeled after another persons. So, if being pet-less is a life you choose I pray it is what is best for you. But, if you do decide that your life may be enhanced by including a pet I pray you choose wisely and adopt a pet whose temperament and social habits fit well with yours for when that combination is met there is no limit to the joy that can be found within.

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  38. Charlie seems to be having more breathing issues at night. Instead of sounding like he has fluid in his airway it now sounds like it’s thicker, more like syrup (mucus), however it does seem like he can catch his breath a little easier and sometimes even a little quicker. I’m guessing on all this as I don’t time anything and I’m usually fast asleep when they start so I’m not really sure what precedes each and every episode.
    He is still interested in his food, although I think changing to raw hamburger really peaked his interest in ‘din-din time’. He seems to really enjoy play time and has even started shaking his toys harder than he had been. He does get winded easily. You can hear him breathing hard after running, but he’s doing well to recover as quickly as he does having only his left nasal passage available for use.
    Decline and progress have slowed way down. We seem to be existing at a moderate pace with what has became average for ups and downs.
    We shall see what today brings and hope for a tomorrow.

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  39. Kathy F. says:

    Day by day is all you can do, I wish I would have taken more pics of Elly. Glad to see you are doing that, and getting some really great shots too! Even though we have Izak now, Buck is still missing Elly I think. He is not the same dog he was before she got very sick and rejected him. I pay a lot more attention to him now and he loves to be massaged. He is closer to me now more than ever. Ruby will be lost for awhile and it will be difficult for you to watch, you will have each other and that bond will grow stronger. Hang in there, you are doing all you can and much more than most would even think of doing.

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  40. Chuckie gave me a bit of a scare this afternoon. He had trouble breathing several times last night, and it seemed to continue into today. It got so bad this afternoon that I had to hold him and messaged his chest and neck, he soon fell asleep. As he slept in my arms blood from his nose wept out onto my shirt and I could tell he was having a hard time breathing.
    Now he’s chasing Ruby.
    I never know how he’s gonna be or what’s gonna happen.

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  41. Charlie’s not having a really good day today. Yesterday afternoon he started having issues and nose bleeds. He had a concerned look about him, not my happy-go-lucky little guy.
    Last night he slept relatively well, we only got up 3 times.
    Today he’s been having a lot issues breathing and there’s no visual energy to do anything. He took his medicine this morning and ate fine.
    We’ll see what today brings.
    Post Script:
    Ruby ‘thought’ she heard something outside and started doing her ‘Ruby Thing’ by running around the house. Charlie got up and checked things out with her. He still seems to be floating between sick Charlie and Good ‘ol Charlie.

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  42. Unfortunately, it seems as though Charlie is having more difficulty breathing and you can hear wheezing at times. He is rather slow today not really wanting to do much. He ate breakfast fine and begged for Dad’s turkey sausages, but not a lot of zip to him today.
    We continue to hope for the best.
    And, yes, Cindy, you’re correct: watching someone you love dearly decline physically is not easy. It rips at one’s inner being and shreds it into fragments. The feeling of helplessness is horrible. I hate not being able to make it all better for him.

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  43. Recently Charlie has been having some bloody mucus, or just really thick bloody discharge from his right nostril. It’s not a lot but there for a while there was nothing coming out of his right nostril. He seemed to be doing quite well physically at that time and was quite playful.
    Now he seems to have slowed down a bit as he’s not quite so playful and not always ready to run after Ruby. Earlier today I noticed a raised area on the top part of his nose slightly off to the right a little way down from his eye. When I pushed on it slightly he started to sneeze.
    I know he’s really on borrowed time but it really hurts to think that we have that trip to the vet ahead of us where three of us will leave but only two will return. I wish it didn’t hurt so much but I know that with great love there is always a possibility of great loss.
    So, another day down, unknown how many left to go.

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  44. It’s been awhile since I have posted an update simply because Charlie seems to be doing rather well. He and Ruby are very active at times during the day and evenings, and he sleep through the night, well 5 to 6 hours at a time. He’s still the bright and cheery little guy he’s always been.
    He eats his breakfast & dinner with no hesitation. He’s getting raw hamburger and coconut oil only now. He is taking his cancer meds in the am and his herbal remedy am & pm along with turmeric, cumin, cinnamon & raw honey. He takes his meds with peanut butter – we found out he does not like the ‘natural’ style, just plain ‘ol creamy Jiff.
    I made chicken broth for the dogs by poaching a chicken so there is nothing other than chicken and water in it. They get that occasionally when I notice they are not drinking much water during the day.

    Over the last week there has been a bump develop on the right side of Charlie’s nose right below his eye.He seems to be breathing fine with very little discharge from his right nostril anymore. However as the bump has gotten bigger his right eye has been weeping more. I did notice a somewhat foul smell from his nose last night but nothing this morning. We have looked in his mouth for any issues on the roof of his mouth, and nothing is noticeable.
    He is sleeping rather well at night with less issues waking up gasping than he had previously. His urine is the same color yellow that it has been. He is not constipated, and his waste does not look like there is blood in the urine or stools.
    We’ve had a few scares over the last few weeks when he’s had occasional issues breathing, but those have become fewer and father between. We’re still living one day at a time with him hoping for the best, but bracing for the inevitable.

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  45. Kathy F. says:

    That would be so cool if he would beat this entirely!!!! Just like Medical Doctors, Vets are not always right and don’t know much about natural cures. He’s already beat the time they allotted him. Thanks to his perserverence(sp?) and loving family!

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  46. Vicki Carlson says:

    I have noticed on animals that when something smells awful that seems to be when infection is discharging, a good thing. Maybe all the bad can just get eliminated through time.

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  47. I have not posted recently as it is becoming more difficult to accept the changes in Charlie. His breathing is becoming more labored, and the bumps on his face are growing rather quickly now. He still does not appear to be ‘in pain’ as we know pain, but he has slowed down quite a bit and rests more often during the day. He still plays and runs around outside, is interested in his food and treats and ‘beats feet’ to the down stairs to greet whomever comes in. Jeff is now tasked with the job of fashioning a coffin for him as we really don’t know how much longer he will be with us.

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  48. Kathy F. says:

    If only people were blessed with the perseverance of animals. Makes you wonder if they contemplate death at all doesn’t it? They do grieve the losses of their friends, but do they think of it at all previous to that? I think we have only touched the surface of what they do know. If we knew more we would be forced to treat all of them better…and that would be a good thing. When I was a kid on the farm my mom would tell me animals don’t feel pain like we do. With the experience I know have I think she was wrong, that was a widespread tale spun to absolve people of their abuse. What if all animals were as bright and devoted as our dogs when given a chance to be? It would sure change the face of agribusiness!

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  49. Kathy F. says:

    Charlie is proving to be one tough little man! He’s lucky to be in such a good place. I know how hard it is to watch them decline and feel helpless, but you have really given him your all, if you hadn’t I don’t think you would still have him. Your all in my thoughts.

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  50. Monday night and Tuesday were rather ‘good’ for Charlie. I even took him and Ruby to the mail box and brought the trash can up (about 1/4 mile round trip). He did fine and was a good boy when I had to put him in the utility sink to wash his feetsees off. Last night he was up a few times and today he napped most of the day.
    We had been wondering if one day this week would be his last, but he’s perked up, again. He seems to have a few not-so-good days and then he perks up. He is persistently getting slower, and the bumps on his face/head are bigger. They’ve recently merged and now are one big long bump. He has been sneezing a lot more lately with an occasional ‘blow out’ of bright red bloody mucus.
    I watch for his interest in food, play time and his alertness to noises around the house and yard. So far the only one that is waning is his interest in playing. I think that is because the bumps on his face have gotten big enough that they hurt when he gets hit or bumped on the face and Ruby plays rough. They both take off running a few times a day when they go out to potty. It’s fun to watch a Basenji’s curled tail stick straight out behind him because he’s running so fast. So far we’re still doing our thing and making it another day. I try to spend as much time with him as I can and as he needs me, but also try to keep up on things that need to be done and the things I want to do.
    Thank you, again, to all who have expressed/shared their support for Charlie and us. I truly appreciate your posts and messages.

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  51. Pingback: Connecting With Mourning | mikkiroderick

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