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Welcome home, Daddy!

Last night, at about 7:45 PM, Bill came home from his latest trip to Bavaria. Arran was on the bed, sound asleep, when Bill got in. He didn’t hear Bill come through the door, so he was genuinely surprised and delighted when Bill popped his head around the door and said hello. Noyzi had heard Bill and was parked on the rug next to the bed, eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Below is a quick video I made of the homecoming. We are treasuring these precious moments, as we know that soon, they will be part of the past.

Arran and Noyzi were as happy as I was to have Bill at home again. We all slept so well last night.

It does my heart good to see how happy Noyzi is to see Bill, too. These dogs give and receive so much love. It’s an honor to have them in our lives, even when they make messes or their farts smell like poop… 😉 We don’t regret giving chemo to Arran, though, because it’s given us precious time and more wonderful memories. It would have been nice if the chemo had worked for a long period of time than it has, but that would have probably meant that Arran would have gotten cancer at a younger age. I certainly don’t wish for that. We are happy with and grateful for the extra four months he’s gotten to spend with us so far.

Last night, we had a serious talk about what to do about Arran. I think we both feel that this bout of cancer is his method of exiting the mortal coil. So I think it’s unlikely that we’ll change what we’re doing in order to squeeze out more time. It will really hurt when the time comes to say goodbye, but it also means that eventually, we can offer a home to another dog who needs one. And that dog, just like all of the others we’ve had in our lives, will teach us and, hopefully, love us the way all of our dogs have.

Incidentally, I slept until 8:00 AM today, something I rarely do anymore. I definitely feel better.

Even with cancer, Arran is a beautiful dog with a gorgeous soul… and Noyzi has learned a lot from his “old man”.

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Arran update…

Arran went in for another Vincristine chemo treatment yesterday. I think we might be at week #16, but I’m not positive. I told the vet about his swollen lymph nodes, which have gotten bigger since I first noticed their enlarged sizes on Saturday. She looked dismayed and we made plans to come in after a week, rather than in two weeks. When we got home, there was a small traffic jam in our cul-de-sac. Our neighbor’s daughter had left her car running next to her parking spot. The car and a trash can prevented me from getting to our house. Someone else was behind me, too.

I put Arran in the house, then came out to move the car to the driveway, only to be confronted by our neighbor, who was trying to park her car in the spot next to ours. I finally just turned the car around and parked in front of the house. Maybe I’ll move the car later today, while no one is home.

Aside from the larger lymph nodes, Arran has mostly been his usual, bright, colorful, spotted self. He happily took a walk yesterday and woke me at 3:00 AM for his breakfast. Then, he wanted his dinner twelve hours later. He got it at 4:00 PM, as that was an hour before our appointment. He wolfed it down.

All was fine after the chemo, until sometime around 9:00, when I suddenly smelled the familiar stench of dog shit. It was a rather messy pile he’d left for me in the living room. This isn’t actually that unusual for Arran. He’s never been 100 percent perfect at housetraining, in spite of my best efforts to teach him the right way.

I cleaned up the mess and went back upstairs to chat with Bill. At about 11:30 PM, Arran woke me up with a concerned look on his face. He was trembling a bit. I asked him if he wanted to go out. He eagerly jumped off the bed and ran downstairs. I let him go outside and he immediately pooped again. Then, he acted like he still needed to go, but nothing was coming out. He ran back inside and tried to go again in the living room. I shooed him outside, where he tried a couple more times for a moment. Finally, the compulsion seemed to have passed. We went back to bed.

Of course, by that point, I was freaked out and wide awake. I was wondering if I’d need to load Arran into the car and take him to the Tierklinik Hofheim, a high speed veterinary facility nearby that we’ve used a few times over the past four years. The funny thing is, when we still lived near Stuttgart and our dog, Zane, was the one with health issues, our vet down there suggested the Tierklinik Hofheim as one of the best vet hospitals in Germany. At that time, it was over two hours away by car. Now, it’s maybe 20 minutes away.

I don’t really know exactly how to get to the Tierklinik Hofheim, because Bill always takes the dogs there without me. And although the car has a GPS, I never use it. I don’t even know how I’d turn it on. I do know kind of where it is, and I have an excellent knack for finding things. But that doesn’t mean I want to go hunting for it in the middle of the night during an emergency. Looking at their Web site, I see that face masks are now optional at the Tierklinik Hofheim. The same isn’t true at our regular vet’s office.

I laid next to Arran and stroked him. He sighed and relaxed, and soon he was sleeping peacefully. It took me a bit longer to drop off, so I read more of my latest book before finally falling asleep.

I woke up at about 4:15 AM. Arran woke up a few minutes later, and was keen to eat breakfast. I fed him and Noyzi, then went back to bed to try to sleep a bit more. I ended up dry heaving, for some reason. I didn’t drink a lot of alcohol last night. I suspect it was an attack of GERD, which tends to strike when I don’t eat right, drink too much, and experience stress. I have to admit, it was pretty stressful dealing with Arran last night.

At about 6:30 AM, I finally turned on Alexa Thunderstorm, which worked surprisingly well… I dozed for about an hour before I finally got up to make some coffee. I probably would have actually slept, if Arran hadn’t repeatedly been licking his asshole.

He’s now lying in my office, just like he usually does when I’m writing… Noyzi has started doing that, too. At least I’ll always have a doggy buddy when I blog.

The vet said she would look to see if there were other drugs we could try, how expensive they would be, and how onerous administering them would be. I told her that we are not in a hurry to lose Arran, but we’re also not expecting miracles. Zane had lymphoma, too. We know how this will end.

But, amazingly enough, Arran still seems very interested in living. His eyes are bright; his ears perk up; and he’s still got his indomitable personality. The vet tested his blood yesterday, and aside from having slightly low platelets, the results weren’t too alarming. He got a dose of Endoxan this morning, which seems to make him sleepy.

Arran is a very special dog, and we don’t want to lose him. I know we will, and it likely won’t be too much longer. He needs to stick around until tomorrow, when Bill comes home.

My computer is in a death spiral and won’t play music without hanging up repeatedly. Since I make music on my computer, this is a fireable offense. It also freezes up randomly, even after I quit unnecessary processes and dump large files. I ordered a new computer a couple of days ago. Hopefully, very soon, I’ll have my snazzy new machine.

He’s still such a scrapper.

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Arran’s chemo treatment #7…

Last week, Bill kindly volunteered to take Arran in for his chemo treatment. This week, as our appointment was in the morning, it was my turn to take him in. It was cold and wet yesterday, as is pretty common in Germany this time of year, although it’s not as cold here as it tended to get in Jettingen. Anyway, because it was chilly, I decided to wait until after chemo to take the dogs for a walk.

I was surprised when I got to the vet clinic and was invited to sit in the waiting room, especially since there were a couple of people in there. Up until very recently, only one person was allowed to be in there at a time. That meant sitting outside or in the car. But anyway, there were a few of us waiting, all of us masked, of course. I’m sure this is no longer a thing in the United States, at least not at veterinary clinics. Here in Germany, masking is still required at any healthcare facility, to include those that serve pets.

While I was waiting for the vet, a vet tech carried some lady’s dog into the waiting room. She was wearing low rise jeans. I don’t understand this trend, since most people seem to underestimate the sizes of their butts. The tech put the dog on the floor, and in doing so, caused her shirt to ride up, while her pants rode down. I got a view of about two inches of plumber crack… a half moon, if you will. I tried not to react, but again… I don’t understand this particular fashion trend.

The vet called for Arran, and because he was being balky about going into the exam room, the same vet tech picked him up. Arran squawked a protest. She put him on the scale, which revealed that he’s gained a little weight, mainly because he wants to eat all the time, and it’s hard not to give in to his demands. The vet said he doesn’t need to gain weight, but she’d rather him be eating than not, and lymphoma causes patients to go off their food. In early October, Arran kind of quit eating and lost weight. That is definitely NOT a problem now.

Probably because of his crying, the vet did a thorough check to see if his lymph nodes had enlarged. Then she listened to his lungs. I waited to hear bad news, but she didn’t have any. She drew blood, and much to my surprise, Arran didn’t protest at all. After dosing him with his first IV push of Vincristine, we were invited to sit in the same infusion room where Arran got his first chemo treatment in October. Arran usually lies down immediately, but yesterday, he was curious and was sniffing around outside of the door. He didn’t lie down on the bed until it was time for his third push of medication.

The vet told me that Arran’s red blood cell count is still low, but not any lower than it was on previous visits. She invited me to wait for the rest of the blood test results, which would be ready in about ten minutes, or she could call Bill. I decided to wait, since I didn’t have any other pressing business to attend to, and I know sometimes the vet plays phone tag with Bill.

The office was really busy yesterday, and people were coming in and out. One lady who was holding a plastic cage, had what appeared to be a guinea pig. She seemed charmed by Arran, and asked me if he’s a beagle. I answered that he is, although obviously he’s not all beagle. He has a pretty healthy dash of coonhound in him, which is where he gets his spots and cuddly personality. He also has some setter in him, which makes him pretty good at birding.

I am convinced that the hunter who bred Arran’s parents was trying to make the perfect hunting dog. Arran, however, did not make the cut, and wound up surrendered to a veterinarian in North Carolina, who gave him up to Triangle Beagle Rescue. There, he went through a few foster homes, and was adopted and returned by his first family.

It always amazes me when dogs end up with miracles… Arran is perfect for our family, even though he can be cranky and stubborn, and he does things like crap on the floor and raid our pantry if we don’t thoroughly “beagle proof” the house (especially since he’s been on Prednisolone). In spite of that, we’re about to celebrate ten years with him, should he make it to January 12… and it’s plain to see how much he adores us– especially Bill. It’s tough to see him with cancer, but he’s such a fighter, and once we go home from the vet, he’s living his best life.

I’ve noticed that Germans seem fascinated by beagles. When we came here the first time, back in 2007, we had two different beagles with us. At that time, it didn’t seem like there were many beagles here. People would stare when our dogs would bay. Nowadays, it seems like beagles are much more popular in Germany, but they are usually bigger and stockier than my American beagle rescues have been. Of course, Noyzi has no beagle in him at all, and it’s been fascinating to see how he’s different than my hounds have been.

The vet later told us that Arran had a couple of slightly elevated liver and kidney values, but they are expected because of the medications he’s on. We’d love for him to have more red blood cells, but for now, he’s able to live with what he has. And once we got the results, Arran practically sashayed out of the vet’s office and back to our car. He knows which one is ours. I do have to help him get in now, but he can get out on his own, and once we were in the house, he ran around like a puppy, hoping for a cookie or two. He got a walk instead.

I’ve been doing an abbreviated walk route lately, mainly due to the weather and my own laziness. At one point of our normal route, there’s a narrow “Weg”, with dense bushes on either side. We were about a third of the way down the weg, when we encountered a woman with her dog. She stared at us, giving me a clue that she didn’t think the path was big enough for the five of us, so we turned and went back the way we came.

A couple of minutes later, we ran into another woman with what appeared to be a border collie. That dog was lunging and barking, as she repeatedly screamed “Nein!” I crossed to the other side of the street as we passed the lady and her agitated pooch. Finally, as we approached home, our next door neighbor appeared with her labrador, Tommi, who jumped into the back of her station wagon. Noyzi LOVES Tommi, so he jumped out of the car and they started to play. Our neighbor had carrots, so I correctly assumed she was going to go see her horse. I miss having a horse, but not on cold, foggy, wet days…

I do believe that if Noyzi and Tommi had a big backyard to play in, they would wear each other out!

Arran is hanging in there… and Noyzi has definitely developed a love of YouTube. Especially when I watch dog shows. He was enchanted by the Purina National Dog Show, where we managed to catch the toy dog division. I think Noyzi is pretty fancy for a street dog. He’s definitely well behaved and stealthy!

So ends another week of canine chemo treatment for our dear, brave, saucy Arran. He’s amazing.

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Canine chemo treatment number four…

Yesterday started out sunny and pleasant, but later became overcast and a little depressing. I took the dogs for a walk, noticing that some kind of event was going on at the local church. A lot of people were dressed in black. I wondered if maybe there was a funeral going on, even though our town has a cemetery with a chapel.

It was Thursday, which meant that Arran had a chemo appointment in the afternoon. It was his fourth. Arran has been doing surprisingly well with the lymphoma treatments. He willingly scarfs down his medications, mainly because he’s always hungry due to the steroids, and because I wrap the pills in yummy things like chicken, peanut butter, or beef.

Arran and I got the vet’s office early and met a couple of local ladies who thought he was adorable. They asked me many questions, and we were hampered by our masks and our mutually terrible German/English skills. That is, they spoke perfect German and limited English, and I speak perfect English, and very limited German. But I did manage to tell them a little about Arran, and one of the ladies told me about her dog, who is 12 years old and was evidently at home.

My dog was totally eating up the attention, trembling a little either due to nerves, or the slightly chilly weather… or maybe both. He willingly went to the ladies, and enjoyed being the center of attention as they called him “Schatzi” and petted him. He’s still such a gorgeous dog, with a beautiful, lush, thick, glossy coat. But he’s also clearly an elderly gent.

For a moment, I wondered if I should tell them why we were there, but then realized that people can be judgmental about dogs getting cancer treatments, especially when they’re as old as Arran obviously is.

I will admit that Arran did look a little sad and scared at the vet’s office, and maybe some folks might think it’s wrong for him to be subjected to cancer treatments. What other people don’t see, though, is the way Arran is the rest of the time, when he’s not at the vet’s office. They wouldn’t have seen him jumping excitedly when I held up the dog “seatbelt” before we left the house, or dancing around for his food, or on his morning walk, when he wanted to go the long way… They wouldn’t have seen him giving me sweet beagle kisses at the table, or snuggling with Bill. Obviously, Arran isn’t sorry to be alive.

In the end, I decided to keep my mouth shut. It wasn’t their business, anyway…

Before long, the vet called us into her office in Haus B, where we had the conversation about Arran’s slimmer physique. She drew some blood, then inserted the catheter and gave him his first dose. Then, we went back to a chair where she had set up a bed for Arran. He laid down and, just like a champ, took the next two IV push infusions. Half an hour later, we were done. Arran was happy to get into the car and go home, where he enjoyed his evening rations and a nap before his favorite person came home from work.

In the past few weeks, Arran has lost a couple of kilos, which he could easily afford to do. He gained a lot of weight during the lockdowns and was, at one point, up to about 19 kilos. Now he’s getting back to his fighting weight, but I think we’re going to either get him regular food, or feed him more of his senior food. Last week, he weighed 17.6 kilos– down from 17.8 the week prior, and yesterday, he was 17.2 kilos.

The vet asked if he was eating. I said, “Yes! He constantly wants to eat. Should I feed him more?” She said no, that he’s not too skinny yet. I guess the disease and the treatments are making him use more calories. That, and he’s moving more, because he’s not so lethargic.

Arran is still not obviously suffering from the treatments. Yes, he wants to eat all the time, but that was also true before he got sick. The one change is that now he’s more insistent, and he gets us up in the middle of the night because he’s hungry. This morning, he woke us at 2:30am. He wanted some of our breakfast a little later, too. Now, he’s gone back to bed, as I listen to a classic jazz song and wonder if I should try to record it.

I love fall. I like to savor these cozy days. Especially since I know that our time with sweet Arran is growing shorter. But I can’t say that I’m sorry we’re giving him this extra time. I think he’s grateful for this time, because he’s still engaged with life. I don’t regret treating him. I know that if we hadn’t done this, by now he would already be a memory.

Below are a few photos of Arran taken during her chemo treatment… This represents about a half an hour of his week. The rest of the time, he’s decidedly more cheerful and cute, as he appears in the last photo, sitting on the bench of our table. Two weeks ago, he couldn’t jump up there by himself. Now, he can jump up there, and on our bed, where he’s gone back to sleeping.

He’s not done fighting yet. So we’re going to help him for as long as he wants to fight.

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