Chapter 5 ~ March 2004
it weren't for the funky haircut and all the staple/stitches
that make him look like a Bionic-Dog, you would never know
that Pinche has been so sick.
Tomorrow I will be talking to the radiologist to discuss when Mr. Pinche should start his treatment.
Radiation -- hopefully the last step on his journey thru ill-health.
if I could only get Pinche on the ballot for tomorrow's
As I write this a snoring ninety-two pound ball of fur lies at my feet -- ahhh, ain't life good?
Pinche is well....Pinche!
And that's a good thing.
He had his staples removed this week and is now basically back to being himself -- a happy and healthy neurotically-weird-but-lovable dog.
Of course, he's still not out of the woods...yet.
Tomorrow Mr. Pinche will meet with Dr. Ayl, who I hope will be his radiologist.
I say 'hope' because there is the possibility that Pinche will need a "special" kind of radiation which I am told is only available at UC Davis (Northern California -- about 350+ miles away) or in Colorado (even further away!) --- not a good thing.
That of course would present me with a whole new set of problems -- logistical and financial -- not to mention emotional.
But for now, I remain hopeful that my boy will be treated only blocks from home.
On a personal note, the furniture blockades have gone down; there is no longer a patchwork quilt of every sheet and blanket I own on the floor to protect an already stained carpet; it has stopped raining; the elections are over; the media seminar I produced is a thing of the past and slowly life has returned to almost normal.
Please take a moment to think a good thought for Pinche...may the radiation treatment be possible and may it be done here in LA.
We all know how your thoughts and prayers have brought him this far -- please don't stop now.
Yes, the radiation can be done in Los Angeles (literally blocks from our doghouse).
And yes, there is a high percentage that it will prevent those nasty little cells from turning into even nastier big cells and tumors.
And yes, we are preparing ourselves for a very long month of daily radiation treatments.
Pretty good, auh?
I had to change Pinche's appointment from Thursday to Friday so it was only yesterday that we met with Dr. Ayl, Pinche's radiologist.
As usual, Pinche was thrilled at the idea of a car ride -- jumped right in without even lifting a paw to wave good-bye to Bubba who stayed behind.
But once inside the car he was strangely quiet -- no hanging out the window this time. He just laid down in the back seat and put his head on the center console in between the seats -- he looked sad, like he knew he was on the way to another doctors visit.
The "look" prompted me to snap a picture of him with my camera/cell phone -- not the best quality but I've posted it on the photo page because it captures the essence of all the poor pooch has been thru.
That quiet reflective time was brief though -- Pinche became his normal talkative self the minute he got there, barking away -- I don't think he knew this was a veterinary center since we hadn't been there before.
Dr. Ayl commented over and over on how good Pinche looked -- calling him a "happy" dog and that's what he was. His tail was a wagging, his mouth was a moving and again, if it wasn't for the funky shaved look and the scars you would never know he'd been so sick.
We discussed the radiation and as hard as I tried to make mental notes of all the medical terms, they were out one ear almost as soon as they were spoken/heard. It's hard to remember everything!
I had about a million questions...here are some of them and the answers:
Pinche's first appointment is Monday.
The next month will be difficult, for both Pinche and me, but with a little help it should be doable -- I work two jobs -- one in the morning and another in the afternoon, six days a week -- so my schedule is very tight.
The hospital has graciously agreed to take Pinche in at the same time everyday and will let him stay there until Dan-Dan can pick him up for me.
It will sort of be like dropping him off at doggy day-care and then arranging for him to be picked up "after-school".
It is all part of the journey we are on and of course, the good part is that we are all still here to talk, write and bark about it.
Going back and reading some of my previous entries it is amazing that we have gotten this far.
And as I told Dr. Ayl again yesterday, all I want is for Pinche to be able to live out his last doggy years in peace and good health.
the radiation will give us that.
Pinche was supposed to have had his first session of radiation this afternoon but the machine has broken down and won't be ready to go until tomorrow.
la vie....what's one more day on the journey?
The roadmap has been drawn out in nice and neat little blue lines that crisscross Pinche's right side.
They are the lines that doctors will follow in order to shock and awe those cancer cells into oblivion.
They are the lines that I hope and pray will lead to peace -- which in this case means good health for Pinche.
They are the lines that come at a great price -- financial, physical and spiritual -- but if followed correctly and according to plan will lead to a greater, healthier world for one old dog.
So far, so good.
Because my schedule was changed this week I haven't been able to take Pinche in myself for his radiation but Dan Dan, Pinche's guardian angel, has stepped in as all around "doggy-driver and general baby-sitter" which has saved the week as usual.
Dan reports that Pinche has been his usual vocal self in the waiting room -- talking to anything and anyone. As all the other doggies patiently wait their turn, Pinche tries as loud as he can to liven things up by barking away.
Makes you wonder what he's trying to tell the other pooches -- personally I think it's the sponge story but who knows.
About 30 minutes after going in, a much different Pinche emerges.
Dan describes him as looking like a "drunken sailor" since he's still under the effects of the anesthesia.
Yesterday, I heard he walked out only to promptly plop himself down in the middle of the waiting room refusing to go any further -- leaving the other dogs to wonder what kind of a bar they have behind door number one.
After a small rest, a few growls and a whole lot of coaxing Pinche was persuaded to take his drunken stupor somewhere else and left.
A quick nap at home and he was back to being himself.
down, eighteen more to go.
Thank goodness for short-term memory loss!
I was afraid that after two consecutive days of going to radiation last week and getting knocked out, Pinche would be hesitant to return today.
He was as happy as could be and walked right in to treatment with the nurse without as much as a glance back at his worried mother (me)!
dogs -- don't you just love them?
Another good day -- all is well in Pinche's world.
He is eating like a piggy, drinking like a fishy and pooing like a -- well, like a big animal.
So far, there are no visible signs of the radiation which is a good thing.
haven't mentioned how much all of this is costing yet
because I am still hoping the final bill might somehow be
brought down -- it is more than what I originally thought it
would be -- but if the bill stays the way it is, oh well --
it too is part of this difficult journey.
Pinche died today at 10:56 a.m.
I knew that someday I would have to write these words but I thought it would be later rather than sooner.
Doctors don't know the exact cause of his death but did detect a little fluid in both his heart and abdomen, which lead them to believe he may have had a tumor on or near his heart.
It was very unexpected and happened very fast.
He will be buried on Saturday -- with my other dogs at a pet cemetery here in Southern California.
My heart is broken as I can imagine many of yours are too -- because I know that in a way Pinche was everybody's dog.
The subject of our prayers and hopes; living proof of our faith and love for our pets and just one big four-footed miracle pup.
Thank you for your kindness, prayers, gifts and emails. They have made such a huge impact on my life.
Thank you to the doctors, nurses, support staff and everyone who fought so hard to save his life.
Thank you Dan-Dan for loving him so much.
There is more that I want to share about what happened between yesterday and today but for now, I just can't.
Pinche died today...and so did a part of me.
I am sad.
I am mad.
And I just don't understand.
Why, why, why?
Why after going thru so much, after so many miracles --- why did he have to go like this?
He was happy, he really was.
It might have been easier to let him go had he been tired, in pain or simply lost the will to live but that was not the case.
He didn't want to go. He fought so hard to stay alive yesterday -- oh how he fought.
And that's why I don't understand.
We had so many things left to do -- so many things to write about.
On Wednesday, as I drove him to radiation, I told him that on Saturday I would take him to the park.
And tomorrow I will -- but it will be to bury him.
The last thing I told him when he left to the hospital was "It's going to be ok. It's going to be okay, boy."
And it wasn't.
Two last promises and I couldn't keep either of them.
As Bubba searches the house for answers, I am preparing for tomorrow, the day that Pinche will be put to rest.
have decided to bury him with the following:
He looked beautiful.
At peace -- all curled up in what looked to be the perfect nap.
perfect and final nap.
Pinche had been given a bath, his hair combed out and had a sweet scent of something that smelled baby fresh.
The "roadmap to peace" -- the blue markings for the radiation -- still visible on his side. It is a roadmap that he will now follow to heaven with the angels.
Dan-Dan, Pinche's guardian angel on earth was there (of course) as was Maria Isabel, my roommate for the last five years. Cyndey-Sue, another close friend came too.
We shared "Pinche" stories -- and oh, there were many.
We cried some more.
His red collar and identification tag were put around his neck, along with the beautiful blue embroidered scarf that was sent to him from Canada.
you dogblog reader Liz for making it -- he didn't have a
chance to wear it in life but will wear it now for all
I mention how beautiful he looked?
I reminded him of how loved he was and that one day, we would all be together again -- including his best buddy Bubba. I told him it would take awhile; to be patient.
I prayed, I cried and I said goodbye.
I didn't want to but I had to.
Did I tell you how good he looked?
His right ear was perked up, just like it always was in real life.
Real life -- that was when all was well and there was hope. A long time ago or was it just two days ago?
Back to his ear.
I was glad to see it standing at attention. The ear that never missed the opening of a can, refrigerator door or food wrapper.
The ear that heard what it wanted to and disregarded the rest.
The ear in which today I whispered "I love you, Pinche. I always will."
It was a good ear.
It is a good ear.
Then it was time...dang clock, it's always ticking isn't it?
Or maybe it isn't and that's why we're here at a pet cemetery on such a beautiful day.
Much too beautiful to have to say goodbye.
Did I say how beautiful and at peace he looked?
The coffin was closed -- forever sealing in time a chapter of my life.
Pinche's goodies by his side, he was wheeled out and "laid to rest" as it's called.
A pink rose from our garden thrown in for good measure -- a little beauty to separate him from what went on top.
A shovel of dirt thrown in by each of us -- a parting gesture to our dear departed friend.
Dust to dust...ashes to ashes.
More roses laid on top and a bouquet made from some beautiful spring flowers sent today by his doctors and nurses.
He was special, wasn't he?
A walk around the park to show Dan, Maria Isabel and Cyndey-Sue what a wonderful place this is....for almost an hour we read the markers, saw the pictures and felt the love.
A flower left on the resting place of my other babies -- Joia and Bambi, Loli and Pepe. Gone but never forgotten.
Then one more goodbye. An "Our Father" said aloud....another goodbye.
Did I say how beautiful he looked?
It is the heaviness that weighs you down, the tears that cloud your vision and the thoughts that crowd your mind.
It is a continuous loop that plays in your head -- going round and round: "Would have. Could have. Should have".
Only to be followed by a never-answered chorus of "why? why? why?"
It is the sudden irrelevance of everything and the incredible importance of nothing.
Little things mean so much and big things, absolutely nothing.
It is seeing clearly while blinded by the pain.
It is trying to awake from a nightmare only to realize you aren't asleep.
It is the slow passing of a clock that is ticking way too fast.
It is normal -- it is not.
It's grieving at it's crudest, at it's worst.
I miss my boy.
I miss having hope.
As some of you know, I host a talk-radio show on a Spanish-language network that is broadcast nationally.
Today, it was all about Pinche.
Two hours of talk radio spent on the lessons I learned from my dog.
While tomorrow will be another day, talking about anything else right now seems pretty irrelevant.
Callers shared their stories of how certain pets changed their lives, etc...
Mostly though, it was me doing the talking, something I don't usually do. But things were different today, I had a lot to say -- I could have filled an entire day of programming with what I have in my heart and head.
On another note, as you can see I have decided to keep updating the dog blog.
While Pinche's life may be over, his story isn't.
Death, and the grieving that comes with it, is part of the journey -- the unfortunate side to loving a pet.
It is the part I obviously had hoped to put off for a long time but since things didn't go exactly as planned, now everyday I will write about what life is like "PP" - Post-Pinche.
Many of you have suggested I turn the dog blog into a book; others that I start some type of foundation to help people and their pets.
I have always dreamt of starting an organization to benefit animals. The dream was always contingent on winning the lottery but now I think it can be done, even if on a small scale.
The ideas are all good.
For now though, I must work my way thru this incredible pain -- the grief of losing not only a loved one but all the hope that I had for a happier and healthier tomorrow for one old dog.
I must focus my energy on spoiling another old boy named Bubba who too grieves for his longtime companion and friend.
There is much I still want to tell you about what happened last week -- the last day, the last hours.
I had wanted to keep this in chronological order but life lately has been happening way out of order, so the story will be too -- at least for a while.
It will be harder.
It is life.
I am a big believer in "signs".
Not the signs you see on the freeway, although those are helpful, but the ones that are subtle indicators of something much deeper.
That said, I also believe that when desperation is running high and sadness clouds your good sense, you often see things that simply aren't there.
Or are they?
I don't often get wrong numbers -- almost never on my cell phone -- so when I heard the message, I admit it made me think twice.
Could it be? No, it couldn't. Or could it?
A sign from up above, maybe? Reassurance that one day we will all meet again?
Dan Dan reminds me Pinche doesn't have a telephone calling card.
Plus, Pinche would have called collect.
I do need a sign, I explain to Dan Dan in an incoherent
sobbing kind of way -- the smile quickly gone.
That night we had a power outage.
Just like I don't get wrong numbers, I don't have power outages either.
No really, I don't.
I live smack-dab in the middle of the city and even though this is California and we have been left in the dark many a time before, it rarely if ever happens here.
I was having trouble sleeping -- hysteria will do that to you -- and Dan Dan was staying here so I wouldn't be alone.
He was sitting on the bed and I was tucked in, almost asleep -- sort of between here and there -- when I literally heard the energy being sucked out of the air and felt the lights go out, even though they were already turned off in my room.
I must have jumped three feet up -- startling poor Dan Dan as I screamed, "the lights have gone out".
I felt it -- the energy being sucked out of the room, out of the house -- just like it had been sucked out of me when Pinche died.
At Pinche's funeral on Saturday, my friend Cyndey-Sue, who owns four (or more) cats, jokingly said it was now time for me to adopt a cat -- one of hers.
We laughed. It was a joke. That was it.
Back at home later that afternoon, I was again in tears -- Dan Dan's shoulder the chosen one to cry on.
All I could do was ask "why?", as I sat in the family room facing the entertainment center.
When Dan walked over to the empty space he found a picture frame -- one that had been sitting there earlier -- knocked down.
It was a picture of me holding a black cat that I owned in Mexico City when I lived there; "Dominga", which unfortunately had to stay in Mexico.
The frame was broken.
I could also tell you about walking face first into the sliding glass door the other day, something that Mr. Pinche would have done and actually did many times.
Then there's the green light I swear I think I woke up to in the middle of the night -- the one that only lit a certain part of my room.
They are both signs aren't they?
Signs that I am tired.
I came home this afternoon to find a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers in front of my door.
A loving and considerate gesture from the doctors and staff at Animal Speciality Group -- Pinche's "home away from home" during the last few months.
Thank you for the flowers and for doing everything you could to save him.
The flowers stand next to the ones Dr. Ayl and his staff sent, as well as the ones from my friends Coco and Claudia.
As I wrote earlier, death makes so many things seem irrelevant while serving to cast light on what really matters.
Love and friendship, kindness and good will. Respect.
A note of sympathy; a kind word; a hug; a simple "I'm sorry" or "I'm here".
The emails from people around the world who grieve the loss of an old dog they never met but somehow grew to love.
It all means so much when everything else has temporaily lost it's meaning.
I miss him.
I miss him so much.
Chapter 6 ~ April 2004