Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fun Times in 2015. No really, there were some!

While sometimes it feels like it, especially when paying her continuous vet bills, 2015 wasn't always about Holly's cancer. Tonight I took a look back at all the photos of us enjoying life, and it looks like we had some really fun times. Sure, sure...much of the early part of the year was surgery, recovery from surgery, radiation treatment, and then recovery from radiation. And I took a ride on many many emotional roller coasters. But throughout I also met some pretty wonderful people. I met Mary and her horse while Holly and I were living dual lives at WSU. I met Lara who's lovely dog Rudy ended up with the same cancer as Holly. I met Joyce who was looking for help in navigating the WSU waters after her own dogs cancer diagnosis. I met Kari who runs a foundation that raises money for canine cancer research.

And in between, we hiked, we rambled through the woods, I worked, my family visited, work kicked my butt, I went on 2 vacations...and now that we are at the end of 2015, I'm realizing that this year wasn't that bad of a year after all. I decided to pick just one photo from each month that represented the fun we had this year. Here's hoping 2016 will be even better.

We love snow!

Holly and I spent A LOT of time driving this month

Life pretty much revolved around Holly in March

"Snacking" on something gross on a hike

We spent tons of time running around the woods this spring

Pinkie and The Brain about to get into trouble on a hike

Trip to the Beartooth Mountains

Such a wonderful pair of hiking buddies

Autumn was busy, smokey and hot...but still oh so beautiful

Our other hiking buddies...Jubilee and Raj

Back to hiking in the fabulous snow

At home...see, we aren't always out hiking ;)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays

Happiest of Holidays from our clan to yours :)

Holly (10), Danee (7), Ursa (9) and Inca (15)

What do you mean stay?

Sherpa Holly

Sherpa Danee

Sherpa Ursa
Sherpa Inca

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Winter Solstice

Celebrate this beautiful season and the longer, and hopefully sunnier, days ahead. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December Snow Smackdown

Holly enjoyed a fierce smackdown with her bestest snow wrestling buddy Ruby. Strangely, they only play together in winter, and only when there is snow on the ground. Ruby is my "other" dog...she belongs to my neighbor and landlord, but I might as well be her second family for as often as she is over here visiting. It's awesome to see Holly enjoy'd never know she had 2 bum legs, is 10 yrs old and is on chemotherapy :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hairless Dogs Need Winter Coats

Okay, so technically Danee isn't a hairless dog. But she may as well be considering how much she loathes the cold weather. As a result, Danee has many winter coats...6 of them. I've a hard time finding coats that actually fit her AND allowed her to move freely while running through the woods. She is deep but narrow chested, with a long back and a wasp waist. Plus she has very thin hair on her chest and belly which makes her cold even when wearing a traditional horse-style coat. The result was that I ended up with several coats of varying styles that kinda fit, but not really, or in one case, it fits but it's simply not warm enough.

The coat is too tight in the chest and not warm enough

This one is plenty warm but doesn't cover her belly

This one was too large and she swam in it.

(Pinkie and The Brain) This coat fits well, but the belly band pops open when she runs through the woods.

This coat is too large on her for hiking in the woods

This one is very warm, but doesn't fit her chest impedes her forward leg movement while running.

A friend recently mentioned that Hurtta was discontinuing one of the winter coats and there were sales all over the place for them. I was going to forgo buying standard styles and just order her a custom dog coat, but I was curious so I looked up all the measurements and found that their size 12 might actually fit her.

Lo and behold, it FITS! I'm happy to have finally found her a coat that will keep her warm and stay on properly while she runs hell's bells though the woods on our winter hikes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Snow Day!

Today winter finally decided to arrive and give us some beautiful snow :) Holly and I enjoyed a wonderful hike along the creek together during the heaviest snowfall. Even though she spent the whole hike ripping around the woods off leash, she still enjoyed a good after-hike zoom around the yard. Today's snow was the perfect way to start my Thanksgiving week vacation :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Muckin' Around the Woods

The last few weeks have finally slowed down and, despite the rain and lack of daylight, I have found my way out of my work truck and back to the woods. With her bum knee, Holly can't hike for too long but we are enjoying every little moment we can find out there. She's also starting to show a lowered white blood cell count due to the oral chemo, so I have to be careful where I let her off leash. She's infamous for finding rotten deer legs in the woods and then refusing to give them up. She really can't afford to be making herself sick over rotten festering wild meat these days...or any day for that matter. When it comes to things she finds in the woods, her 'Leave It' has always been broken. Sigh.

Winter is finally starting to show itself...Danee's readily lets me know that it's "too cold for a walk" by refusing to leave the yard, especially if I haven't put a coat on her. Wussy dog ;)

All 4 critters went to the vet last week for their annual exam and blood work. Kitties liked the trip not at all. Poor kitties. It's hard to realistically prepare them for an hour plus drive to the vet. Kya is perfect, as is Danee. Kettle has low potassium and her blood work showed how traumatic the whole event was for her. Poor Kettle took a few days to recover from it all.

Holly still looks great. Her knee isn't really healing, but despite that it's quite stable and she only limps on it at night. So we're just going to continue with what we've been doing...shortened walks/hikes and on leash as often as is practical for her brain and happiness, NSAID's at night when she shows me she's sore, and acupuncture every 2-4 weeks. Her WBC is getting progressively lower, but it's not low enough to change her oral chemo drug regime yet. She is still doing wonderfully on the oral chemo...aside from the decreased WBC, which affects her outwardly not at all. And still no visible sign of the sarcoma tissue returning in that leg. However...she has been licking that leg recently, so something may be happening there that we just can't detect yet.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy 10th Birthday!

Celebrating a milestone today...Holly's 10th Birthday! The girl is still rocking it...4 months on metronomic chemotherapy and no sign of the cancer returning :) I am so very blessed she is still healthy, and still with me.

It stopped raining just long enough to get a picture of her and her cupcakes outside, and before she devoured half of them.

Happy Birthday my Girlie :)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Holly's Very Last Agility Trial

This weekend the dogs and I visited our agility family at a local trial. This was my first 2 days in a row off of work in almost 2.5 months...and my god did I need the break. We didn't stay at the trial for long...just a few hours in the afternoon on the first day. I went to socialize, I went to cheer everyone on, I went to lend a hand, I went to see some long lost friends, and I went to run Holly in her last course ever at an agility trial.

The run itself was nothing special...I only let her run an Intro Tunnelers course...but it was a bittersweet moment for me. She is currently healthy with no sign of her cancer since we started metronomic chemotherapy 3 months ago. But know that won't last. There aren't any agility trials until spring of next year, I don't have a lot of faith that Holly will still be with me then. So, I called it. She ran her retirement run among friends where I could shed a few tears over it.

We enjoyed the rest of the fall weekend at home cleaning up the yard before winter and getting in a short hike and some nice walks. The fall colors are gorgeous and the crisp weather is superb.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Every Day is a Gift

We've been busy this summer. Busy having fun and clearly not posting about it on the blog. Since I joined Facebook, I find it hard to update the blog. Facebook is easy...too post a quick photo or a quick story. Whereas, I have to find the time to sit in front of m y computer to post an update to the blog. So, not really an excuse for a lack of posts, more of just an explanation.

The last month has been a busy one. In late July Holly and I took a mini vacation and a road trip. A summer vacation is very unusual for me due to my job. But fun times with Holly while she is feeling good take precedence over everything this year, so I made a quick plan and took off.

I took Holly to Yellowstone Dog Sports in Red Lodge Montana for 2 days. What a super cool place! It's truly Dog World heaven. But we were not there for sports (although we did fit in 2 fun NADAC agility runs one evening), we were there to have Alanna Leach with Alanna Leach Pet Photography photograph Holly in a studio setting. I was in awe of the photos I had seen of hers earlier in the year and was able to plan a camping trip around having her take photos of Holly. She captured Holly's personality perfectly and I am so honored to have had this opportunity. The 4 photos below are my favorites...they are SO Holly :)

After our photo session was done, we took off to camp in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana and Wyoming. I have been wanting to go there for several years, but it's a very long drive (over 10 hours) just to get to the northern portion of the Beartooth Highway that I had kept putting it off. I'm glad we went :) The mountains, plateau and even the highway are absolutely stunning.

The road goes south from Red Lodge, Montana into Wyoming and winds it's way up to nearly 11,000 feet at the pass. We camped at about 9,500 feet at one of the several National Forest Campgrounds. Holly has never tent camped with me...having space issues, she was not a fan of my small backpacking tent so I never took her backpack camping. But since we were car camping, I bought a huge family sized summer tent and she was fine with it. In fact, she rocked car camping in a public campground like she'd been doing it all her life. She even made 2 friends...I got to chatting with two guys that were there for the fishing on our first day, and they stopped in several times a day to say hi, give Holly a cookie and a good scratch behind her ears. It was too cute. We stayed several nights and enjoyed exploring the area each day before taking off for home, going through the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park on the way.

It was an unforgettable trip and I am so happy I took the time to do it with Holly.

Unfortunately, the second I got home, work exploded and I spent a week working 12-15 hour days before my parents arrived for a 3 week visit. At the same time, the wildfires took off...we now have over 50 on our National Forest alone. It's been nuts. But we did fit in a few fun things when the smoke eased up for a day or two.

Currently our air quality is listed at Hazardous and more weather might bring in more fires. But we are currently safe and doing well.

I continue to be shocked with how well Holly is doing. She's on the metronomic chemotherapy and the minor side effects I saw in the beginning are gone. She's happy, bouncy and full of energy. The tumors in her leg have visibly disappeared and aside from buggering up her left knee, she seems pain free. This time with her is such a gift.