Pinche's Journey

Chapter 1 ~ Nov. 2003

Chapter 2 ~ Dec. 2003

Chapter 3 ~ Jan. 2004

Chapter 4 ~ Feb. 2004

Chapter 5 ~ Mar. 2004


Chapter 6 ~ April 2004

Chapter 7 ~ May 2004

Chapter 8 ~ June 2004

Chapter 9 ~ Mar. 2005



Chapter 5 ~ March 2004


March 2, 2004

Not afraid to bite back
An equal-opportunity barker
Doesn't have an intern
Would only tax cats
The only special interests in his life are milk bones
Bubba would be a great V.P.
Believes all campaign contributions should be edible
Canines don't lie - they may exaggerate, but they never lie
Reasons people should vote for Pinche on Super-Tuesday

If 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.

He's happy, all his bodily functions are working at full-force and he's looking doggy-decades younger.

Life is good!

Pinche's doctor called to check up on him today and upon hearing how well he's doing, recommended the staples be removed this Friday.

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.

Bubba's happy.

I'm happy.

Now, if I could only get Pinche on the ballot for tomorrow's election.....

March 10, 2004

Stapleless in SoCal

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.

Another update tomorrow....

March 13, 2004

Yes, yes and yes

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 are some of them and the answers:

What exactly is the treatment?

Five days a week for a month (20 sessions) Pinche will go in for about two hours. He will receive a light anesthesia -- enough to put him out but not the long-lasting kind -- and then will be given radiation for about 20 minutes.

Side Effects?

Pinche might be a little tired and his skin might get a little raw in the area where the radiation will enter
(something like a hot spot) but that should be it.

Probability of the radiation working?

About 75% or higher. Radiation is not a cure but combined with surgery can give a dog another 3 to 5 years of life. That would be more than Pinche's expected life span.

What will it cost?

The "ruff" estimate is between $2500 and $3500.
I honestly can't remember what the price difference depends on -- there was a lot of information I was trying to process and I probably blocked this part out.


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.

Hopefully, the radiation will give us that.

March 15, 2004

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.

C'est la vie....what's one more day on the journey?

March 18, 2004

Radiation - Day 1

The Roadmap to Peace

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.

We're off!

March 19, 2004

Radiation - Day 2

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.

Two down, eighteen more to go.

March 22, 2004

Radiation - Day 3

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)!

Ahhh, dogs -- don't you just love them?

March 23, 2004

Radiation - Day 4

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.

I 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.

March 25, 2004

Pinche's journey has ended


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.


March 26, 2004

The day after

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.

March 26th @ 11:00 pm


As Bubba searches the house for answers, I am preparing for tomorrow, the day that Pinche will be put to rest.

I have decided to bury him with the following:

His red collar and doggy identification tag

Every doggy needs his collar, even in heaven.
Plus, an angel may need it to pull Pinche back
when he tries to swipe someone else's milkbones.
His doggy id tag will help to guide him back home.

His ball

The red and blue ball that we used to play our
last game of fetch in the park that day,
so that he can play catch in heaven.
Soft enough for him to catch,
but big enough for him not to swallow
like he did that tennis ball once.

A spoon

A tablespoon from the kitchen set.
For whatever reason, Pinche began loving to be
spoon-fed. It was like a game to him.
When he wouldn't eat (which he would do on purpose) you would hear me say "Pinche, don't make me go get the spoon" which is exactly what he wanted me to do.
And I did it lovingly.

A 'white light' bandanna

Made and embroidered especially for him by
dog blog reader Liz in Canada.
He never had the chance to wear it in this life
but will proudly have it around his neck
as he crosses the Rainbow Bridge.

And last but not least....

Two Milkbones

Because one was never enough.

March 27, 2004

Pinche goes home

He looked beautiful.

At peace -- all curled up in what looked to be the perfect nap.

A perfect and final nap.

Pinche was buried today -- on a gorgeous Spring day with the warm California sun shining down on him.

The place --- the peaceful "Pet Haven" in Gardena. The final resting place for hundreds of God's creatures -- from rabbits to horses, snakes to monkeys, birds to fishes, and of course, doggies and kitty cats.

A park in which every grave marker is a tribute to the unconditional and everlasting love that was shared between a special pet and their human.

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 cried.

We laughed.

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.

Thank 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 eternity.

His spoon was placed under his paws..the milkbones by his face...the ball by his side and in the corner, a small stamp of Saint Charbel to help guide him to heaven.

Did I mention how beautiful he looked?

I thanked him for putting up such a fight -- I told him that I knew he didn't want to go but had been called and had to.

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?


March 28, 2004

Missing Pinche

It is a slow and steady ache.

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.

I miss Pinche.

March 29, 2004

120 Minutes
Time spent talking about Pinche on the radio today
Minus the commercials

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's hard.

It will be harder.

It is life.


March 30, 2004

"Hello Mommy, it's me.
I'll talk to you later.
Message left by a man on my cell phone voicemail
Four hours after Pinche died

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.

He's right.

Plus, Pinche would have called collect.

I smile.

But I do need a sign, I explain to Dan Dan in an incoherent sobbing kind of way -- the smile quickly gone.

"Please Pinche, send me a sign -- tell me you're ok."

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".

"How did you know that? Your eyes were closed,
you were almost asleep and we're in the dark anyway.
How could you tell there had been an outage?"

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.

"Is this the sign you wanted?"

"I don't know. I can't tell."

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.

"You have to take one.
No better yet, take two.
Pinche would have wanted you to."

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.

"Something's missing."

"Yeah, I will always feel like
Pinche is missing."

"No, Dan. Something is missing from
the entertainment center. Look.
Next to the VCR, there's a big space."

"You're right."

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.

"Is this it? Is this the sign?"

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.

Very tired.

March 31, 2004

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.

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.

continue to:
Chapter 6 ~ April 2004

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