Friday, December 31, 2010

More Update

Squeaky wheel gets the grease...

Specialist called me twice so far this morning and managed to get the pathologist at Davis even though they are closed today. They are doing advanced testing on the sample as requested and that will take until early next week.

Maize is doing the same, oblivious to all of this...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Maize Update

No results yet from UC Davis -- probably won't be until next week.

In the meantime, met with my usual vet today to discuss my concerns about the diagnosis, the lack of follow-up by the specialist, and etc. He was a very good listener and agreed to explore the additional testing I want done (which I found recommended in the professional veterinary literature). Further, he agreed with my decision not to start Maize on steroids (prescribed by the specialist) in case the diagnosis is incorrect; if she needs chemo, it is not good to have her on steroids right now.

Here is the bottom line for now -- I took Maize to campus today because her 2011 goal is to have fun and do fun things, and she loves to visit people. Well, she was racing around in the snow, chased a squirrel, visited Aunt Heidi, and in all ways was happy and energetic and perfectly normal. She eats, begs, runs, plays, and in no way acts sick. This doesn't mean she doesn't have a bad diagnosis -- but it does mean it is okay to raise questions about it since the preliminary diagnosis just doesn't fit her clinical presentation.

We must be our dog's advocate, and think critically and ask questions. True professionals are interested in the truth and so they do not mind when one brings up pieces of the puzzle that do not seem to fit. When a professional of any kind is more invested in being right than being accurate -- well, time to make a fast change...

Although my usual vet did not get the right tissue when he biopsied Maize the first time, I am not at all annoyed about that -- he did his best, he is human, and it was a difficult mass as we have learned. What he does that keeps my business is he listens, he considers what I say, he disagrees with me when that reflects his position, and he seems to respect that I might actually have a good point or two.

When all is said and done, I am the one who has to live with the decisions that are made for Maize -- and so what matters is not what the vet thinks is right but what I think is right for Maize and for our family. Diagnosis determines treatment options -- I want to know that we had the best and most accurate information possible and therefore made the best treatment choice on Maize's behalf.

In other words, what I am doing now is preventative -- I am preventing regrets. I know I am facing heartache down the line -- but I want to face it knowing I did everything I could to make the best decisions possible for our beloved Mrs. Maize.

It is times like this when my naturally curious mind and my willingness to say what I think comes in very handy -- if you need an advocate, I am your person! However, I am booked right now -- but you can be your own advocate and not only that -- you should be because guess what? You deserve it -- just like Mrs. Maize does :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year in Review

This is a favorite time of year for me -- a time to reflect back on the year and plan for the next one. A new year brings hope while a finished one offers lessons and accomplishments.

My overarching goal for 2010 was Excellence -- I wanted to do things well -- and I believe that I achieved my goal. In my professional life, a promotion is chugging through the channels, I presented at an international conference, my courses were well-received, and I have exciting data to analyze/write about as well as a couple of future projects that are exciting. Most importantly though -- I love my job and I work in a most excellent environment with good people :)

This Blog is primarily about dogs and so let's look back on 2010 through that lens. First, I want to note that while it is about dogs, it isn't about dogs -- well it is but it isn't. You see, the dogs are so much more than dogs -- not that being a dog is a bad thing! My dogs are my friends, my family, my constant and loyal companions. They are not people replacements -- they are additions to my life and something special that people do not offer. People are also wonderful -- but so are dogs.

And my dogs are a way for me to pursue excellence in something that I love -- I love them and I love training/competing with them. The creativity required and intellectual challenges are interesting to me, and keep me thinking. And I appreciate the opportunity to be a good person when nobody else is watching -- only the dogs know that I value them and treat them kindly even when nobody else can see.

The titles we earn with our dogs reflect accomplishment but it is more than that -- it is about excellence, commitment, teamwork, respect, mindfulness, creativity, ethics, intelligence, and all kinds of other important qualities that I believe are essential components of a good life; training dogs lets me practice these things all the time. Training dogs is not the only way to practice these things -- but it is one of my ways.

And so a (dog) title is like a (book) title -- just a few words that reflect an entire volume.

In 2010 Maize lived and lived well!

In 2010 Halo earned her Utility Dog title and became a Top Producer of Working-titled Dogs -- yea for Halo!

In 2010 Cadi earned her Brace Draft Dog title (three times), her Companion Dog title, and the Versatile Companion Dog 1 (VCD1) title -- and agility legs; she was also the second highest scoring obedience dog at the National Specialty and the only dog to earn the Triathlete Award by qualifying in four different working events.

In 2010 Asia earned her TDX (Super Yea!), her Companion Dog title, and the BMDCA's Working Dog award.

In 2010 Zoey did not earn any titles but picked up ten championship points, cleared hips/elbows (YEA!), and has been Winner's Bitch seven out of the eight times she has been shown since June; she was Reserve the only time she did not win.

In 2010 Sydney earned her first title -- the Tracking Dog title.

There are no unimportant titles but I am particularly proud that in 2010 I earned advanced titles on three different dogs in three different venues -- specifically, Halo's UD, Asia's TDX, and Cadi's BDD; I believe these titles particularly reflect my 2010 goal of Excellence.

I do not dwell on what was not completed nor do I lower my sights as a result of not achieving all that I planned. Rather, I continue to aim high because aiming low risks hitting trees and Heidi Marie -- while aiming high is the only way to ever hit the stars. We can choose to be disappointed about what was undone -- or celebrate accomplishments and progress -- obviously I intend to celebrate :)

With the review of 2010 completed, it is time to look ahead -- and even though we will experience sorrow and loss in 2011 there is much to hope for and to dream about -- so stay tuned for 2011 goals...

What are your hopes and wishes for 2011? Imagining them is the first step in realizing them so turn on the Imagination Channel and start hoping and wishing :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I have decided that I do not agree with the initial diagnosis from biopsy #1 -- her symptoms are not consistent with the diagnosis. Maize is acting totally fine -- eating, playing, etc. So I am going to call the vet tomorrow and chat with him again about exactly what type of testing is being done on Maize's tissue - and request some advanced testing be done if it has not been done already (I have been doing some research this evening); I am also anxious to hear what UC Davis has to say.

Therefore, I am no longer upset/depressed -- I just do not think we have enough information yet and why be upset/depressed about what might happen and/or be true?! If we did that, we would sit in bed eating cookie dough and crying all the time because bad things are always possible...

Maize did not seem impressed when I announced to her that I was not giving up -- and that I thought the diagnosis was wrong. But I felt better :)

Big Downhill Plunge

Biopsy #1 is back: Oh Shit.

Biopsy #2 (UC Davis) should be back in 1-2 more days.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dog Days of Christmas


Tapestries of my dogs -- all six that are with us....

And their mom/grandma/great-grandma, Abra...

Cassie made me a journal with pictures/pages from the Blog...

Galen and Maize...

Tanner made a collage picture frame of Maize pictures -- how wonderful :)

Dear Husband ready for the Montana winter...

Hope your day is doggone good.

Merry Christmas

With Santa/Dear Husband/Montana Mountain Man/Willie Nelson wanna be up and ready to go, let the holiday begin...

Syd is so helpful with baking...

Maize and me! Love my new pink agility top! (and it sort of matches the apron Tanner made me years ago)

The deer volunteered to be part of a Nativity scene and Karma said she would be Baby Jesus but we could not get the dogs to agree to be Joseph and Mary because they all wanted to be Wise Men and ride/chase the deer/camels...

The unfortunately too common meaning of Christmas -- MINE!!!

Luckily, the Chief of the Fun Police is on duty!

Let's all have a "not-mine-but-yours" Christmas...

Happy Holidays to all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Maize

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Maize Update

The roller coaster ride continues -- this time with a downhill plunge...

The Specialist did not believe that the previous biopsies got into the place needed as it was a very difficult mass to biopsy. And so he did an ultrasound-guided punch biopsy -- two of them done and going to two different veterinary teaching hospital labs with "breed unknown" written on the forms. Bless her pea-picking-heart -- Maize is such a cooperative dog that it was done with just a local anesthesia and no sedation.

Maize also has a mass on her spleen :(

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maize Update

Saw the vet again -- Maize sees a Specialist tomorrow for an ultrasound/consultation.

Kaibab's House Rock Valley, Kaibab's Haviland Hall and Kaibab's Harvest Moon are all taken! YEA!

Frosted Berners and H Litter

Lots of snow fell here while I was gone for the three days, and yesterday we had freezing fog -- that made for some interesting pictures...

Frosted Zoey

Frosted Sydney

Sort of Frosted Halo

More Frosted Zoey

And Mac, Syd and Asia making sure to prune this shrub down to the ground...

Cadi will be bred during her next season, which could be as early as January but timing is better for us if she waits until February -- so we will just say she will be bred in February :) Montana Mac is definitely in contention for the honor of Puppy Daddy but we will not make a final decision until we gather more info on Cadi's first litter (hip/elbow x-rays are being done on them) and etc.

I always let people name their own puppies but I have three H Litter names I want used and so I throw them out now so that people waiting will consider whether they like one and want to claim it:

Kaibab's Haviland Hall: Building on the UC Berkeley campus that housed the School of Social Welfare -- I have three degrees from that School/building, my grandfather was a history professor at Berkeley and etc.

Kaibab's House Rock Valley: Located in northern Arizona near the Kaibab National Forest; Dear Husband's family had a ranch there and it is the valley that one goes through to get to the Vermillion Cliffs, where Kim and I were married (Kay/Sue -- it is the valley where we tracked with Riley and Maize)

Kaibab's Harvest Moon: Maize is Corn Moon so this is in honor of Maize

This H Litter name is kind of special so would only work for some people: Kaibab's Heintzberger or how about Kaibab's Heintzberner??? ;)

We certainly do not want to count our puppies before they are hatched but it is fun to think of names -- I already have my "I" Litter puppy named!

We will be having some of the family here for Christmas -- our first Christmas in Montana. I hope that your holiday plans are ones you are looking forward to -- but if not, just hang in there because it will be over soon. The holidays are not always happy so if you have a heavy heart this season, I send a hug and my support and a reminder that this is a temporary season...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Really BIG, LONG, SLOW Adventure!!!!

First things first, Maize is acting like a puppy -- go figure! Mass on shoulder may have to get a drain since it is not going away but she is feeling good :)

So, as I previously mentioned I went to Utah and collected fragile things and Dear Husband, and then we headed off for two days in Wendover, Nevada -- a tacky gambling town on the Utah/Nevada border that sent Kim a certificate for a free room and $200 in slot plays.

The room was quite nice and we took the $200 in slot plays and turned it into close to $100 in real money. Dear Husband played Craps -- his favorite -- and actually did well so the vacation was a money maker, which is highly unusual when gambling is involved :)

However, it turned out we used most of the luck for Kim's gambling and only had enough to get home safely, which is important but what a drive! It is under 600 miles and we left nice and early on clear roads -- but that didn't last too long and 13+ hours later we finally made it home.

We went up Highway 93, which is a stunningly lovely drive through Idaho. Unfortunately we had snow-packed roads for hundreds of SLOW miles. But we took pictures so here is a picture story of our long, slow adventure...

It was after Twin Falls that things fell apart on the roads -- apparently Idaho is also lacking in the snow plow/road clearing department (as is Montana). But we went though this lovely place...

I tried to explain to Dear Husband that the Hippie Era is over but I suspect he will soon want some tie-dyed tee shirts and Birkenstocks to go with his new emerging Willie Nelson look...

After a long time of white knuckle driving we arrived in a little town called Challis and had lunch/took a break to get my heart rate down, and then we headed back out towards Salmon. I prefer to do the driving and so Dear Husband said helpful things like, "you can go faster" and "this [snow packed road] is not really that bad" and when there was a sign that said, "watch for ice" he helpfully noted that the ice was buried under all the snow. In addition to providing this moral support, he took some pictures.

This is a picture of the road when it was GOOD!

In addition to lacking in road clearing equipment, Idaho is apparently also lacking in money for road safety features such as guard rails. Highway 93 winds along the Salmon River -- and I mean winds. While it is lovely to be so close to the river for miles and miles, it was also unnerving to be so close to the river for miles and miles with nary a guard rail in sight -- do they think that guard rails will ruin the scenic drive?! Exhibit A -- see the guard rails??!! Answer: NO.

The condition of the road and the close proximity of the river and absence of guard rails prompted Dear Husband and I to have a discussion about whether we should first remove clothes when we plunged into the river or if it was better to just try and get out. We concluded that if one could stand up in the river, it was best to just make a break for it -- but if one had to swim, one should strip quickly.

And suddenly -- for some unknown random reason -- a guard rail appeared for about 100 feet. Since the road goes along the river for miles and miles, I am not sure what that meant -- maybe that is all the guard rail they could afford?!

It would not be a trip through Idaho/Montana without wildlife attempting suicide at every opportunity -- luckily when one is driving seven miles per hour it is easy to stop. Here are Heidi Marie's Idaho cousins...

And a blurry bull elk!

But this is my favorite and I took it myself!! Reminiscent of Galen and the bears, Dear Husband was helpfully (frantically even) trying to call me back but when I am determined to get a good picture -- well, one has to be willing to sacrifice for art -- meet my new friend, Stinker...

And no, he did not spray me but still -- that was one stinking, long, slow, stressful trip home -- but entertaining now that it is over :)

Coming Soon -- H Litter plans!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Maize Update

Galen reports that Maize is better -- Dear Husband and I have been on a no kids/no dogs adventure to celebrate 12 years together and the end of our life-in-two-states since his residence will now be in Montana -- YEAH! So we appreciate that Maize did not require us to race home, although we were prepared to do so; we will be home tomorrow (Monday).

Maize will be going to the vet this week to see if we can get this figured out -- the mass in her shoulder is shrinking so why does she keep having these periods of not wanting to walk/limping???!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good Thoughts Needed

Arrived in Utah last night to pick up Dear Husband and the breakables from our house here -- Galen called me an hour ago and Maize doesn't want to move and won't eat -- she was fine at breakfast with a slight limp. Instructed him to give pain meds and monitor her. Vet is closed so she would have to go to the Pet Emergency -- not sure I want to do that because it is very important to me that unnecessary things not be done TO her. Once again, my need to know has to be balanced with what is best for her. I wish dogs could talk :(

Plan is to sit tight for an hour or two with Galen monitoring and us trying to reach Heidi in case Maize needs to be seen at the emergency clinic in Missoula.

This could be a very fast trip back to Montana...

Think good thoughts.

(update) She is doing a little better so we will continue to just give her pain meds and watch...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Life Lesson #524

Who among us doesn't enjoy the close company of the people and things we love? The hardest part of the past 2.5 years for me has been the separation and distance from people, places, and things that I have loved. While I love Montana and my new life, it has also been a time of chronic sorrow for what is not here and what is lost.

At least I have had the dogs -- they have attributes that many of us would do well to emulate. For example, you cannot beat their loyalty and devotion -- and they are too honest to play silly games. Their disappointments and anger never smolders with passive-aggressive rage -- they just handle things quickly, directly, and move on. Dogs live in the present, with the past only a dim reminder of what to seek and what to avoid -- and the future just doesn't even have a place -- it is all about today, right now.

Keeping those we love close to us is a lesson that Zoey embraces...

Cadi slipped up -- she was not as careful as she should have been with the beloved Mr. Wonderful, which she swiped from Sydney, who also wasn't paying attention. This allowed Mr. Wonderful to be nabbed by Zoey... It is not good to be inattentive with those who matter.

But Cadi learned her lesson and says it will not happen again...

A good lesson for all -- pay attention to those things and people you hope will stay close to you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Truth

The tapestry of life is made up of many threads that come together to create something bigger, richer, and more wonderful than any one thread could do. Indeed, it is only by being willing to become part of something bigger than ourselves that we create a masterpiece.

One family, many voices...

Sydney: Let him go!!! That is MY Mr. Wonderful -- not yours!!!!!! Stop it -- you are hurting him -- oh no -- he is asking for directions again! Stop!!!!!!
Cadi: Sydney -- he is not hurt and he is not asking for directions -- he wants me to take the remote control -- listen -- now he wants to cuddle tonight and since he is in my mouth I think that means he is mine!
Mr. Wonderful: Yes Dear.
Mr. Wonderful: I love you.
Mr. Wonderful: You have been on my mind all day -- that's why I bought you these flowers.

Meanwhile, Carlos/Ute broodingly watches from the loft, thinking, "first they steal me from sunny California, stuff me in a bag -- twice -- and transport me to this hellhole -- and then that traitor Galen makes good on his threat to have his associates cut off my balls if I did not hold still for the nail trimming. How was I to know he was so well connected?! What a sick ba$%^&!!"

Karma: Maize, you are my best friend ever -- and I mean it!!!
Maize: Karma -- you say that to all of us!
Karma: But I really mean it to you -- we are truly BFF's. Now, I have to tell you something that is a big secret -- its about Carlos or Ute -- whatever his weirdo name is. He is a sociopath!!!!!!!
Maize: You are being dramatic again -- he is kitten!
Karma: He is evil -- Chippy and I are calling in an Exorcist.
Maize: Chippy?! The one you tried to kill??
Karma: Like you are perfect?! Oh never mind -- you are -- anyway, Chippy and I are scared of him -- he is possessed by the devil!!!

Meanwhile, Mac is oblivious to the news that failure to hold still during nail trimming has unfortunate consequences...

And with Mr. Wonderful safe on the mantle again, Cadi and Sydney argue over a leash.

But Carlos/Ute, possessed by Evil Spirits and angry at the loss of body parts he believed were important and having overheard what Karma said to Maize, pounced on her in the hallway!! Demonic screams were heard and ... well, see for yourself:

Yes, significant pieces of the formerly fluffy Karma were strewn all over -- but Carlos/Ute/Satan, the little California GangBanger, is sporting a big gash where Karma was able to slice him open to release the demons within -- at least, that is her story. His story is that he seriously kicked Karma's ass. Galen's story is that it looks like one of the dogs gutted a stuffed toy and that maybe Carlos/Ute is not quite as innocent as previously thought...

Many stories make the truth.