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Dear Shooter

Dear Shooter-

(aka Shooter Bug, Shooter-Rooter-Roo, Bugaboo, Boo-Boo)

 

Wow – has it really been a year? Some things have changed and some things remain the same. It’s still just three mini pups now – the perfect match just has not come along and that’s OK. Rosie, Frosty and Papi are happy with each other, but maybe someday they’ll get a new brother or sister. No new horse yet either as Caddie’s space is like yours and will require just the right candidate to fit in.

 

Just so you know – you are still missed so very much. Frosty has been called Shooter quite a bit the last couple of weeks so I have a feeling you’ve been checking in on us. Your Aunt Sandi will be visiting this week – her first visit since you’ve been gone and I’m sure you will miss getting to visit with her. Also the Boston Aunts will be here soon and I know they will notice how so many things are missing with you gone.

 

On a positive note – remembering you is one of my favorite things to do and all the memories are happy. As time goes by, we talk about you in happier voices and though I hope never to have to go though that again – your cancer journey taught us so much and allowed me to meet other very special tripawds and their parents along the way. Maybe a special tripawd is in the future for us since we know how perfect they are.

 

I want others to know that even though you’re never forgotten, the heartache and pain ease and the memories become special parts of our life that make us smile. Although we all have a different timeline and approach it in a different manner, it does get better and we all survive, but the scars from this loss are different from others that have gone before you. Maybe due to the fact that we had to fight the fight which makes the loss harder, but make that particular fur-baby just a bit more special than all others.

 

I hope you are having fun over the Bridge and I know you have made so many friends with those that have joined you since last year (I’m pretty sure Happy Hannah got you all wound up!!). Say “Hi” to Rover, Cowboy, Zeke, Marty, Cutter and CC. We miss every one of you.

IMG_NEW IMG_0001_NEW

These pictures were taken almost exactly a year before his surgery.

The Dance

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Love – Mom & Dad

Remembrance

Shooter's Scrapbook Page

Shooter’s Scrapbook Page

Who knew the journey we would go on starting just one year ago today. Our Shooter-Bug would have celebrated his one year ampuversary today, but fate had other ideas and instead it is his 5 month angelversary. It doesn’t seem possible, yet our lives have changed so much in those five months. Of course he is missed everyday and one of the other dogs get called Shooter at least once a week and even the horses on occasion. It is quieter as he was quite the chatter box and never learned what an inside voice was, but that was fine with us. Gone are the area rugs and the multitude of drugs on the kitchen counter. The elevated dish has been put aside (but kept in case it is needed again). We haven’t been to the Vet’s office since just after he died and I am dreading that first visit in February for annual check-ups – I can barely look at the clinic when we drive by. I sometimes feel guilty for being glad I no longer see my vet twice a week as I would do it again if I had to, but it is good to have a normal life back and less bills. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person and I’d like to think Shooter would understand. I’m pretty sure he didn’t like going either! It wasn’t the life of a Tripawd that was hard – that was the easy part after the first few days as Shooter became a champion Tripawd immediately, but the cancer sucked! We think of him in happier terms now. The stairs to the bed have been officially named “Shooter’s Stairs” and all the dogs now use them so they have become a permanent fixture. I pulled out one of his favorite food toys the other day (stick the kibbles in the ball and roll it around so the kibble falls out). He was a pro at that and would go so fast the other dogs would just follow along and pick up the pieces he missed and he picked up the knack of it in about 10 seconds. Not so much for everyone else – we had to keep rolling it for them! It really made me realize what a smart boy he was and how much the others relied on him.  We currently have no plans on bringing another dog into the mix unless our old friend “fate” intervenes. This is actually unusual for me as puppies always seem to help ease the pain of transition. I guess, in way too many words, I am saying that life has kept moving on and that warm spot in my heart that is “Shooter” is tucked away in a less painful place with more smiles than tears.

On his birthday I promised to share a poem I found and have included a scrap book page I did of Shooter about 10 years ago. The poem is for everyone, but especially for those of us that survived July, August and September together as way too many of our furry kids crossed over those three months. Thanks again, for the millionth time, for everyone at tripawds.com. You are all angels. And, yes, you will need Kleenex.

THE SPIRIT OF A DOG

I was standing on a hillside

In a field of blowing wheat,

And the spirit of a dog

Was lying at my feet.

 

He looked at me with kind dark eyes,

Ancient wisdom shining through.

In the essence of his being,

I saw the love there too.

 

His mind did lock upon my heart

As I stood there on that day,

And he told me of this story

About a place so far away.

 

As I stood upon that hillside

In a field of blowing wheat,

Ina twinkling of a second

His spirit left my feet.

 

His tale did put my heart at east,

All my fears did fade away

About what lay ahead of me

On another distant day.

 

“I live among God’s creatures now

In the heavens of your mind

So do not grieve for me, my friend

As I am with my kind.

 

My collar is a rainbow’s hue,

My leash is a shooting star.

My boundaries are the Milky Way

Where I sparkle from afar.

 

There are no pens or kennels here

For I am not confined,

But I’m free to roam God’s heavens

Among the Doggie kind.

 

I nap the day on a snowy cloud

Gentle breezes rocking me,

And dream the dreams of earthlings,

And how it used to be.

 

The trees are full of liver treats,

And tennis balls abound,

And milkbones line the walkways

Just waiting to be found.

 

There even is a ring set up,

The grass all lush and green;

And everyone who gaits around

Becomes the Best of Breed.

 

For we’re all winners in this place;

We have no faults, you see.

And God passes out those ribbons

To each one, even me.

 

I drink from waters laced with gold,

My world a beauty to behold;

And wise old dogs do form my pride

To amble at my very side.

 

At night I sleep in angel’s arms,

Her wings protecting me,

And moonbeams dance about us

As stardust falls on thee.

 

So when your life on earth is spent

And you stand at Heaven’s gate,

Have no fear of loneliness –

For here, you know. I wait.”

 

Thoughts

Today would have been Shooter’s 9th ampuversary, but fate had other plans and his journey ended earlier rather than later. We’ve become used to our new normal and the odds are less that we will call one of the other kids Shooter or actually call him as part of the regular “come’on” routine. My one horse is named Stroker and he still occasionally gets called Shooter as their names were often mixed up (kind of a “sounds like” thing). We are definitely getting better sleep as we no longer sleep with one eye open. No fights for the front seat space that belonged to Shooter – in fact when we took our first trip without him, no one offered to move to that spot and still haven’t. Must be out of respect. Rosie has lost her worried look and is going on with life. One of my favorite parts of coming to tripawds.com is when I get the surprise of Shooter’s picture coming up. Although there is still a feeling of sadness, it makes me smile instead of cry.

There are still the occasional tears and I think I’ve reached a bit of the anger stage. Maybe it’s because two people very close to me are fighting the crappy stuff and it is relentless. I also work with someone who lost their husband to cancer and she was my strongest support during this time. She has never made me feel like the grief I felt losing Shooter was any less than her’s was losing her husband and she understands that the fight against cancer in animals in no less important than the one for human beings. Hopefully studies in one will find a cure for the other.

From the link on the site I made Blurb book about Shooter for my husband’s Christmas present which will make a few tears flow that day. It is beautiful quality and was rather cathartic to make.

I have a poem that I wanted to share, but it is quite long and I have gotten a little long winded so I will save it for next month. Something to keep you all in anticipation!!

Last, but not least, I knew I couldn’t post something on the blog without including a picture for Sally :-). Here is Shooter’s little brother (Big Papi – GO RED SOX) with his favorite toy Lamb Chops (I know you older sorts remember Lamb Chops!).  Hugs to all of you and know that as time goes by the memories grow fonder and easier to think of.

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

Today would have been Shooter’s 14th birthday and was our short term goal for survival. He only missed it by 3 weeks, but it has been a long 3 weeks. It has gotten quieter in our house as he was a talker and had very vocal opinions about everything! Frosty can chase the ball with out being barked at and occasionally beat up :-). Papi can have room to lick the dishes when they are put down on the floor. Rosie can sit in the front seat of the truck when we go on trips. We have room on the bed. And not one bit of it feels right. But, we are going to focus on the positive – Shooter is pain free, running on four legs, with his favorite brother Cutter and loving on my Dad (his favorite person ever). What a great way to celebrate his birthday. In his honor, the Three Amigos agreed (OK…I forced them) to have their picture taken with Frosty wearing Shooter’s Super Hero Survivor cape from the Relay for Life, Rosie wearing his Tripawds bandanna and Papi, well Papi is just plain celebrating!!! Hey – his namesake and the Red Sox are going to the playoffs!!!

 

Birthday

 

I have been pondering a lot during these weeks wondering was kind of sage wisdom I can pass along to someone else that may read Shooter’s blog and came up with a few:

1. If you have a herding breed dog – please get them tested for the MDR1 Gene before allowing your vet to give any major drugs. Collies have the greatest chance for this gene, but Aussies and Mini Aussies have a 50% chance and others such as GSDs, Heelers, Sheep Dogs all have a chance. The test is cheap and done through Washington State University. For more information, you can Google it and get the whole list of breeds and drugs. This affected how Shooter’s first chemo drug (Vinblastine) was given as it is on the list.

2. If you have a dog that is highly allergic to things, please handle reactions quickly and don’t allow them to escalate. After learning more about Mast Cell Turmors, I honestly believe that Shooter developed them because he had severe reactions to spider bites and we had a vet that didn’t respond in an urgent matter and it took us over a week to bring the swelling down in his face and ears due to incorrect treatment. Aussies do not commonly get these types of tumors and if they do it is usually a dog with severe allergies.

3. That brings me to my 3rd thought – as so many on here have told me and many others. Be an advocate for your dog in whatever kind of treatment they are receiving be it for cancer or something else. Vets are wonderful people, but they are not always right and if they are a good vet they will listen to your concerns and act on them to make sure your dog or cat or horse or whatever receives the best care they can possibly get.  They can’t talk so you must.

4. Last, but definitely not least, enjoy every single minute with your furry kid. You just never know when that last lick, belly rub, snuggle, silliness, etc… is going to be the last one you have between you. Remember the good times and feel good for the fact that you provided them with the best home and family they could ever have. They were love and you were loved.

I’m sure there are lots of other things I’ve learned, but they are pretty common things that we all learned from coming to Tripawds and being supported in our journey no matter how it has ended.

Thanks to everyone here and thanks for letting me hang around and help out when I can.

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Shooter, Happy Birthday to you! We miss you!

Just a Baby

Just a Baby

 

August Sucks!!! First my once in a lifetime horse and now our beautiful boy and in between a generator and a truck required replacement. My self pity meter is at an all time high and a punching bag would be a great thing to have right now. In order to get off the whine wagon I decided to look through pictures of Shooter. It still hurts so, so much and although I smile at each one I cry too. Rosie is still looking for him and the others seem nervous whenever we leave the room. We will get through this, but that piece of our lives and hearts that was Shooter will remain missed and precious. The following poem was given to me by a friend when we lost Caddie and is called “My Grandest Foal”, but I replaced foal with dog and it still works:

I’ll lend your for a little while my grandest dog, He said, For you to love while he’s alive and mourn for when he’s dead.

It may one or twenty years, or days or months, you see. But, will you, till I take him back, take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief, You’ll have treasured memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return. But, there are lessons taught on earth I want this dog to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true. And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, with trust, I have selected you.

Now will you give him your total love? Nor think the labor vain, nor hate Me when I come to take him back again?

I know you’ll give him tenderness and love will bloom each day. And for the happiness you’ve known forever grateful stay.

But should I come and call for him much sooner than you’d planned, you’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and someday you’ll understand.

For though I’ll call him home to Me this promise to you I do make, for all the love and care you gave he’ll wait for you inside Heaven’s Gate.

Sweet and peaceful

Sweet and peaceful

With his best buddy, Cutter

With his best buddy, Cutter

 

He loved to be up high

He loved to be up high

 

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

 

Our beautiful boy

Our beautiful boy

 

With Dad

With Dad

 

With Mom

With Mom

 

Cutter, CC & Shooter are together again

Cutter, CC & Shooter are together again

 

Your light remains burning bright in our hearts. Love you Shooter!

Your light remains burning bright in our hearts. Love you Shooter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 6:15pm this evening and on his 7th ampuversary, Cutler’s Whiskey Shooter crossed over the Rainbow Bridge to be with his brothers and sister. He was such a brave boy and met every battle head on. The news is too fresh to say much more, but thank all of my tripawd family for all the support and love we have received during his journey.

 

Happy Sunday to all!

Can you believe it? It is my 6 month ampuversary. Who knew we would make it this far back on that cold January day when this all began. I am pretty much a happy tripawd except for the fact that I really think my Mom should feed me more. I’m pretty sure older dogs should get more food – I mean we have made it to old age!!!

Thankfully, nothing scary or unusual has occurred in the last month. I go to the vet tomorrow for my CBC and then, if all looks good, I will be getting my third chemo with Lomustine. They decided to wait 5 weeks this time because it drops my white blood count so low and 4 weeks didn’t seem to allow for my red blood count to recover much at all. I’ll be getting antibiotics again just as a precaution. Of course the important thing about this is that I’ll be getting a lot more CHEESE! My brothers and sister like this too because they get cheese along with me. This way they stay in debt to me :-).

I don’t seem to have quite the stamina I had prior to my problems in June, but Mom thinks it may be because I haven’t been getting my Immunity Plus so we will be going back on that this week. Yay – more treats!! Plus she is going to add an iron supplement to help with my red blood cells after treatment.

Here is a picture of me trying to look pitiful so I can get more food!! Until next month – Ciao Baby!!

Honestly Mom! Can you not see me wasting away right in front of your eyes?!?!?!

Honestly Mom! Can you not see me wasting away right in front of your eyes?!?!?!

We arrive at 5!

Today is my 5 month ampuversary!!!

Nothing new and exciting has been going on in my life and around here that is good news! The past month was pretty challenging for me. Since I had a MCT reappear on my amp site the docs decided my chemo regimen needed to change to I started with 4 lomustine pills plus a daily regiment of prednisone. My Mom has also added SAM-e (for liver function), Pepcid (for stomach) and Cosequin. All seemed to be going well when one week out from my first dose I kind of crashed. Turns out I had a bad infection and was severely anemic all at the same time. Sometimes a guy just can’t get a break! My Mom and Dad were crying and wondering if the journey was over, but Dr. White stepped in and gave me a penicillin shot and a B12 shot and after a day of sleeping I was on my way to recovery. She also put me on Cephalexon (sp?) twice a day.

Because my counts were so low, they decided to wait 4 weeks between doses instead of 3 so my 2nd dose was completed this Wednesday. Mom says she feels guilty feeding me cheese with poison in it :-(. I say, “It’s cheese – who cares!!!”. They are keeping me on the antibiotics to try and avert another crisis and also recommended an iron or B complex supplement to help with the rebuild of the red blood cells when it is needed.

Hope everyone has a great 4th of July!! I’ll be the dog hiding in the bathroom until this firework season is over!

Mom took a picture of me tonight, but we keep getting errors when we try to load it so you’ll just have to look at the old ones! Love ya all!!

 

Hard to believe, but today is my 4 month ampuversary! It’s been a bit of a bumpy road this month, but I’m feeling pretty good so far and still loving being with my family.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t have much of a celebration as today was my first dose of lomustine. Not quite the cake and ice cream I imagined! My Mom said she felt like the Evil Queen giving Snow the poison apple every time she handed me those chunks of Velveeta with the surprise in the middle. So far at 8 hours out I’ve had no noticeable side effects and I certainly hope I don’t. Throwing up is just not my favorite past time!

We had a great time for the 3-day weekend. I love staying in my horse trailer house. I get to look out the screen door and watch everything going on and there are all kinds of great smells with all the cows and horses around. I’m including a picture from the weekend. I’ve discovered that Mom’s flip flops make great pillows/security blankets!

Hoppy Day Everyone – talk at you soon!

Only the most sparkly flip flop will do for this dog!

Only the most sparkly flip flop will do for this dog!

Today my family and I went to the Bozeman Canine Classic and did the 1K walk. Mom and Dad keep saying we did the short one for me, but I really think it was for my Dad :-)! The first half was all uphill and I got a little tired along the way, but we stopped at the top and took a water break. Going down was pretty easy even though we had to keep moving out of the way for the people that were actually running (are they crazy or what?). They cheered when I got to the finish line and I even got my picture taken. Afterwards we got to lay in the grass and kick back and got some free treats at some of the vendors. Lots of people came over to pet us and we might even make it on the news!! I just hope they got my best side!

Today was the start of our new fight with this stupid stuff called Mast Cell Cancer as a new one has popped up on my amp site. It just never gives a guy a break, but I plan on giving it my best am looking up to my role models on the site that have survived this for quite a few years. I’m too tough to quit!!

Here are a few pics of me and my brothers and sister at the walk.

My Dad and us kids ready to go walk.

My Dad and us kids ready to go walk.

 

The original "four mini pups"-Frosty, Rosie, Big Papi and Shooter

The original “four mini pups”-Frosty, Rosie, Big Papi and Shooter

 

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