Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Holly 11/01/2005 - 11/26/2019

On November 26, 2019, my beautiful Holly died.

She beat cancer. Twice. She defied all the odds set against her. And so, she got old. Until June this year, Holly was doing wonderfully...not just managing on 3 legs, but actually thriving. We hiked, we played, and yes, she was old, but she never let getting older slow her down much. 

Then she started having bouts of severe anxiety coupled with entirely sleepless nights. It wasn't until September that I finally came to see that she had dementia...canine cognitive disorder. Most dogs, and people, with dementia can still live good quality lives, unless it comes with anxiety, fear and confusion. Sadly, that's the form Holly's took. By early November, I could no longer manage her symptoms nor keep her safe from herself. The bad days came more often than the good days, and her bad days were so horrid, for us both, and she was so fraught with anxiety and fear. Ultimately, I had to let her go.

It was so hard to stop choosing life for her. We went through so much together, and at every turn I always gambled on life and we always won. And I guess, even with this choice, we still won. Cancer didn't take her. Arthritis didn't cripple her. She didn't have a tragic accident. Instead, she got old. And isn't that what I wanted for her all these years? To experience life, to reach the end as an old dog instead of a young one?

It hurts. It will always hurt. But we had quite a ride together. I have no regrets, and if I could, I'd choose to do it all over again with her. I'll miss you, and remember you, forever Bub ❤

Before Holly died, my sister bought me a Wisdom Panel Breed DNA test. I got the results back in October, but I decided to wait til Christmas to look at them; to have a little piece of her with me, even though she is no longer here. I've never known her parentage, other than her previous owners told me that Holly's momma looked like a border collie; they saw her momma at the animal shelter that they adopted her from. Looks are a funny turns out Holly didnt have an ounce of border collie in her at all.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Winter is Coming

Actually, winter is already here. I love fresh snow coupled with sunshine. It refreshes my soul.

Holly is almost 12 weeks post-amputation and really doing well. Last night she played with a tennis ball for the first time since spring...running around like a wild woman, trying to get me to chase her around the yard 💕

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween

I all her 13 years, I have never dressed Holly up for Halloween. But since this is likely her last one, and bucket list ideas are as much for me as they are for her (and this one was definitely all about me!), I figured why not?! LOL, with all the cookies she got, she didn't protest much.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Autumn Love

We are finally doing well after treating Holly for a gastric ulcer. All of her meds post surgery and then chemo took a toll on Holly's tummy. But she's on the mend, finally eating  (without me begging), and enjoying daily romps in our woods.

I love Autumn. Crisp air. Brisk temperatures. The smell of the woods. ❤

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

One done

We celebrated the completion of one of four chemo treatments with a beautiful walk in the woods. They were not too happy at being pulled of their chipmunk hunting to get their photo taken 😄 If Holly handles chemo well then we'll do another treatment in 3 weeks. If not, then no more chemo and osteosarcoma will do whatever it's going to do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Doing Well

Pre amputation, Holly had always enjoyed her acupuncture treatments and chiro adjustments. Today, almost 4 weeks post surgery, she's still loving her "Spa Day" at the vet ❤

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Being a Tripod

It's been 2 weeks since Holly's front leg was amputated, and shes rocking it! Not bad for a nearly 13 year old dog.

Three weeks ago Holly came up acutely lame on that leg. X-rays revealed she had a bone lesion that had fractured. Tests later revealed that it was a radiation-induced osteosarcoma at the location she received radiation to cure her cancer nearly 4 years ago. Holly wasn't supposed to live nearly 4 years past being diagnosed with myxosarcoma. So as a result of living beyond statistical expectations, the radiation caused more cancer.

That said, I don't regret any thing we did to cure her cancer nearly 4 years ago. But now I have to decide whether I'm going to do chemo treatments for the osteosarcoma. If I don't, she might have four to six months before the osteosarcoma metastasizes to her lungs or her heart. If I do, she may have up to a year and a half. But remember, she is as of next month 13 years old. She has arthritis throughout her body, and her knees are terrible. So what exactly do I want for the quality of her life from here forward? Do I want her to live another year and a half and feel the ravages of being three-legged with lots of arthritis, perhaps leaving her totally crippled and in pain her last months of life? Or, allow her to live a shorter but more mobile and independent life, a little bit more pain free? I don't know the answer yet. What I do know is that she's healing well, she's comfortable, and she's quite mobile. I have some time to decide. In the meantime we're enjoying every moment of life during this beautiful fall weather that we have.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Becoming a Tripod

This post is for me. A marker. A milestone. The beginning of the end. On Monday we discovered that Holly has cancer again, likely radiation induced osteosarcoma but possibly myxosarcoma again. Either way, her front leg bone is degrading, fractured, and causing her pain. It will never heal. On Friday, Holly joins the world of tripod dogs. If it's myxosarcoma, this will be a curative treatment. If its osteosarcoma, it will be palliative. I hope for the former.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Terrierist

The fearless squirrel hunter emerges from winter, ready to ignore every recall on her endless quest for small, squeaky rodents. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Cancer Survivor

Two years, and counting <3

Monday, February 6, 2017

Epic Snow

This weekend we got dumped on. The official weekend snow total for Libby this was 32". Being at the base of the Cabinet Mtns I got a little more than that...somewhere between 36-40" in just 2 days. It took me around 16hrs over 3 days to get all the snow moved that needed moving...all by hand. Ouch.

My fenced in back yard. Can you see my 4-foot high fenceline? Yeah, neither can I

A peek at the deep snow on my neighbors garage roof.

I got lucky. My 10-yr old snow shovel didn't break until the very end of today. I was also lucky that I bought the very last 2 shovels that our little town store had.

The snow is so deep that in un-shoveled or un-plowed areas it's belly button deep. I'll be working hard this week to walk down my snowshoe paths so the dogs can get around somewhere besides the driveways and roads. It's been decades since this area has had so much snow delivered all at once.

My shoulders are exhausted from so much shoveling over the last 3 days. I admit it was lovely to shovel in the bright beautiful sunshine today. But of course, now that I'm snuggled in for the night with a cup of hot tea, it just started snowing again.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Winter in Montana...

...means snow. And LOTS of it!

Winter started early last year and has kept right on trucking with cold and snow. I love it! I really hate when we get constant freeze-thaw events that melts our snow and creates a ton of ice. I love to snowshoe and Holly loves the cold weather...

Poor Danee just wants to pack her bags and head south for winter. She hasn't found anything fun about being outside while the temperatures have refused to budge above 10 degrees for the last month...or having to actually go outside to pee when it's -15 degrees.

I'm gonna just stay right here the rest of the winter.

I've tried everything to keep her as warm as possible this winter, including buying her an awesome snowsuit from Hurtta. She wears it, but she hates it because it means it's cold...and she's outside ;)

My sister and her 2 dogs came up to celebrate the Winter Solstice and Christmas Holiday. All the pups enjoyed ripping open paper Christmas always, the paper was far more fun for them than the gifts inside ;)

Waiting to for the paper ripping to begin

Inspecting the loot

Inca destroying the wrapping paper

And even though we limited gifts to no more than 2 per dog, the wrapping paper carnage and toy pile was impressive.

I didn't get to check out a new Fire Tower on the Kootenai National Forest rental system, so instead I rented a former FS Ranger Station cabin in the community of Yaak, Montana. We had it for 3 days, it was super cold and snowed about 1.5 feet, in addition to the snow that was already there. The cabin has no electric or running water, but it has a propane fireplace, wall lanterns, fridge and stove, so it was plenty comfy and warm.

My sister bought a sled for her nearly 16-yr old 3-legged dog Inca, so that she could join in on all walks and hikes this winter. I dare say she loved it :) How cute is she!

2016 was good to us, and despite Holly's bum knee, she's enjoying life and winter with gusto. What more could I ask for? I hope 2017 is just as kind.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Canine Fitness Workshop

Catching up a bit...

In early November, my vet clinic, Calm Animal Care, brought Jennifer Hill, a certified canine physical therapist (and also Holly's personal PT), to Kila, Montana to give us a 2-day workshop on Canine Core Conditioning. She also recently became a Fit Paws master trainer and brought some cool equipment and awesome instruction on conditioning our 4-legged athletes. 

Even though I have done a lot with Jen in the past with Holly (rehabbing her after each of her injuries), I learned quite a bit at the workshop...particularly how I allow Danee to "cheat" at certain things and be sloppy, which isn't helpful in actually conditioning her.

I got a lot of ideas on what to work on at home that's beneficial to core conditioning and how to modify certain exercises with things we already have a home to make the fun things we do with our dogs easier on them...such as paddleboarding...

While I don't own those blue donuts, I do have other things I can place a car-ramp on, or a step bench, to work on paddleboarding exercises over the winter.

Danee and I had fun...she really loves doing these kinds of things and is always excited to see the balance equipment come out :)

Holly came too and was able to do a few things while Danee rested between exercises. Jen was able to give me some modified exercises with Holly to avoid stressing her bad knees. She particularly loved the stretching and massage session we did...

We have a lot we can play with inside when winters sub-zero temperatures and deep snow keep us from playing and exercising outside for very long.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful and grateful for ever so many things...but most especially for these two goofballs. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy 11th Birthday Holly!

You've gone through a lot in the last 2 years Holly...there were times I didn't think you'd make it to 10, much less 11 years old. And not only are you still are thriving <3 Happy 11th Birthday Girlie!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016


I never made it in to work the other day. Work was quiet that morning, so I made a quick decision to take a short morning hike with the dogs and be in to work by 10am. Uh...the dogs had other plans.

On our way up one of our favorite trails, the dogs bolted to go check out their favorite woodrat nest...or so I thought. After not hearing their bells jingling for about 30 seconds I called them back. Nothing. I wasn't worried...that wood rat nest is a hard thing to pull them off of. So I kept walking and suddenly I hear Holly bark. Shit! Holly only barks at wildlife she's trying to catch...and catch it she did.
I gave Danee her emergency recall and out she bolted from the woods COVERED in yellow skunk oil...seriously, her whole face was yellow! I quickly leashed her up while doing this interesting little dance to keep her from rubbing her face on my pants.

Then called Holly...who's the harder one to call off wildlife...but out of the woods pops the skunk, right in front of me. It takes a few hopping steps towards me that said "You want a piece of this too?!". No, I DID NOT and I ran up trail away from it. I see Holly behind the skunk, and being the obsessively idiot dog I know her to be, stays on the skunk. She was COVERED in skunk spray...seriously, almost dripping! The poor skunk, having used up all it's emergency maneuvers, it was now out of spray. But Holly wasn't going to be detered like any NORMAL dog...oh no...she was pissed and was going to kill that skunk for daring to spray her like that.

After barking in it's face for the thousandth time, the skunk made a move to run and Holly went in for the grab. But the skunk grabbed too...Holly now has it by the side of the neck, and the skunk has her by the face! I dragged poor Danee into the woods with me...all the while she's trying to stay back and get the hell away from that skunk. The 4 of us danced around the woods for what seemed like minutes until I was finally able to grab Holly by her harness. I wasn't reaching in there to get bitten too, so I had to give her a kick in the head to get her to drop the skunk.

Fortunately for the skunk, I don't think Holly had a good hold as it ran off pretty quickly. I hope it survived okay.

If we were closer to home I would have made the dogs walk home. But alas, we were not, so I had to load up 2 nasty dogs into my poor car. An hour later, after doing a quick cleaning of their faces and checking on Holly's wounds, we were off to the vet for a rabies booster, antibiotics and some eye goo for Danee. I don't think I need to tell you that the vet didn't actually let us into the building...we smelled really bad.

Holly's wounds weren't too bad, just a bite on her muzzle and some scratches under both eyes. She's lucky the poor skunk didn't scratch her eyes up. I wasn't sure if Danee had any contact with the skunk, but we found some recent scratches under her chin so she got treated the same as Holly; both received a rabies booster and antibiotics. Holly's face was pretty swollen, complete with roman nose and fat lips. That was 3 days ago and she's already looking much much better.

Three days and 3 bathes later, and we're not smelling much better...neither is my car.

Danee learned a valuable lesson...don't follow Holly, and stay away from those skunks. I'd like to say that Holly learned something valuable too...but I'm guessing the only thing Holly learned was that if she's gonna get the chance to kill the skunk for daring to spray her, she'll just need to be faster. Sigh.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Summer 2016

It's been a GREAT summer! Holly wore her stifle brace religiously for nearly 3 months and it helped her knee heal more than I could have hoped for. Of course, it was sooooo boring looking being solid black, so I had to give it some "bling".


Holly turned a corner with her knee sometime in July. About then is when the stifle brace became more of a hindrance than a help...she started to refuse the bend the knee and was moving in it oddly. So she went brace-free. At that point the knee was stable, but the leg was still very weak. It's taken several months of building muscle, but she's back running like the wild dingo she wants to be. She can hike almost 4 miles on not-to-difficult terrain, as long as she spends most of that time on leash to help her stay at an even pace. Off leash she can run through the woods for about 45 minutes without getting sore. As anticipated, she has developed arthritis and we know the meniscus is damaged, but she doesn't let that bother her...her evening drug regime seems to keep the worst of the discomfort at bay. As each day passes, she is less and less sore and stiff in the evenings, so hopefully that will continue for the rest of the year.

I'm thrilled that the stifle brace helped as well as it did. I would have had the knee surgically repaired if that had been an option for her (she has thrombocytopenia and cannot have surgery), but this really was the next best option. She's now sound, pretty strong and's allowed us to insert a lot of fun into our summer.

Next month Holly will turn 11...ELEVEN! Every day is an absolute gift with this girl.

Huckleberry Eatin'