Saturday, December 7, 2013

Happy Birthday My Son

Today my boy would have been 6.
It is still incredibly difficult to deal with the fact that he is gone and not coming back. It just so happens that today is the Middleburg Christmas Parade - an event that he loved to participate in. I will go and walk with all the Pyrs in his memory but it will not be the same. I understand that most people do not get my grief and so I have withdrawn and refrain from talking about him except for with a few close friends.

He was so amazing and loving that I wanted to do something in his honor and so I started a non-profit organization with one of his biggest supporters, my friend Gina. Its premise is to help people facing tough decisions about their companion animals by providing support and assisting with major medical costs through donations.

The website is at Companion Bridge and was created to provide a loving and supportive community for people to connect, share and assist one another on behalf of their animals. If you get a moment please check it out and if you can donate a little that would be great. It is my wish that it grow to help everyone that ever needs it even after I am long gone.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed sharing in Tonka's Journey and that we perhaps made you smile or helped you in some way.
Peace and Love Always

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ebb and Flow... The Journey here on earth ends

AP here:
I have spent a great deal of my life in the water, waiting on waves or wind and they have their own rhythm, their own beat that they march to and it is known as -ebb and flow.
Then ebb is not so fun, peaceful but not so fun, but when wind or water is flowing and you stand up and ride it is an incredible feeling. Happiness!

life on land also follows the same
The situation that Tonka and I are in seems to exaggerate these downs and ups, the ebb and flow. The bad moments, the labored breathing, the nosebleeds and the eye that is being pushed slowly sideways these are the things that suck the tide back and make for a not so enjoyable day.
When things are good though and he is surrounded by his peeps, or enjoying his breakfast, or just loving the cooler weather sleeping on the porch with me, this is the flow. Happiness!

It was my wish that Tonka would get to the bridge in a very peaceful manner, not in a crisis and not when he was stressed. I had made plans to have him pass at the house and my gut kept telling me it was time. The problem was everyone stopping by to see him commented on how great he looked and he was doing and I second guessed my gut. I started to think we had a little more time and his last day was such a great day that I actually called in and refilled his prescriptions.

Tonka's last day was a truly great day, he and I slept outside on the porch from about 4am on and then "watched" the sun come up. I was home for the day and so I got to spend time with him. He had a good breakfast, a buffalo bully stick and some cheese.
I'm up
Back to sleep on Porch with Mom

Back up for Breakfast

Can I have a scone?

No Scone then I'm going back to bed

I like Buffalo

Chomp, Chomp
Caitlin and Noodle came by and that is always a fun time. Tonka and I love Caitlin dearly, she has been such an enormous help during the past year and is a truly amazing person.

I like to drag Caitlin around the yard

It's my buddy Noodle

Love the Noodle
 Noodle is a such a good dog and he and Tonka had fun sniffing and playing with the brick puzzle.

Noddle and I took a nap
I said goodbye to Caitlin

After Caitlin and Noodle left I ran down the road to meet his Aunt Gina. She had picked up a Chinese herbal medicine for me that was supposed to help his nosebleeds. On the way back I also picked up a new refill of his piroxicam. He was doing so well and was so happy it seemed like we were going to have a little more time.

When I got back it looked like a storm was rolling in. Tonka and I love storms so we headed for the porch. 
Mom and I hung on the porch waiting for the storm

Still waiting

No Storm- I'm going to nap
It turned out to be a dud and blew over so when CM got home we took a little walk/roll down the street and back. We ran into some neighbors who of course fussed over him and told him what a good boy and an awesome dog he is so he was very full of himself when we wheeled back into the house.
No storm so took a little walk with AP and CM
He had a good dinner and took all his meds and finished off his nightly frozen PB Kong.

Peanut Butter Kong Time

This is the last picture of my boy.
After his Kong he settled into sleep and in a little bit I stood up to move to the floor to give him some love and noticed the spot of blood under his nose. I lifted his head to reposition the towel and see how bad it was,  he sat up and it just started pouring. CM and I went into full nosebleed stop mode with extra towels, paper towels, tissues and epinephrine but he kept sneezing.. the more he sneezed the worse it got until it was running out both sides and his mouth. The epi was not working, nothing was working so I bundled his head in a towel and while CM got the truck in position I got him belly walked out of the house and around the front. I got the ramp in place and I got him up in the truck and off we headed to the ER. Poor Cathy had to stay behind to clean up what looked like something out of a horror movie. I called his Uncle Mike to let him know where we were heading and I made a quick phone call to the ER to tell them I was coming. Tracy answered and I and I told her I would need help as I didn't have his wheels. At the first red light I send out a request for prayers although somewhere in my head I knew what was coming. At the next few stops I sent some texts to his support peeps to give them a heads up.
When I pulled in the circle at the ER and blew the horn they all came running with the gurney - I got him up and down the ramp and he was still bleeding everywhere. I helped lift him to the gurney and they rushed him in the back. Dr. Fleury who is a great Dr. and wonderful person came out while I was still putting the truck back together. She said something to the fact that she had looked at all his records and that she knew that we were nearing the end of things. She wanted to know if we should just let him go or try to stop the bleeding. I told her to try because this was not how I wanted him to leave I really wanted him at home and not in a crisis.
I parked the truck and entered the lobby where they told me I could wait in a room or not it was up to me. I wanted to be where I could see the ER doors open so I chose the lobby. Tracy gave me a bunch of wipes to clean off the blood that was all over my legs, arms and hands and then I waited. I did not have to wait long Dr. Fleury came out and explained it was a massive bleed and they had given him a sedative to drop his blood pressure and had gotten it slowed with strips soaked in epinephrine stuffed in his nose. The only thing that would stop it was an embolization procedure but that it would only keep re-occurring. The option was to leave him for the night get him stable and bring him home to let him pass at home on the porch or just let him pass over now.
It was with a very heavy heart and some anger that I decided to let him go. THIS WAS NOT WHAT I WANTED FOR HIM.I wanted him home at peace not in a crisis, not suffering in any way.

They put us in a private room and I tried to clean some of the blood off of his big beautiful face. His Aunt Gina sent a text that she was on the way so I lay there and sang to him. He was sedated so I am not sure how much he heard or knew about what was going on. He did pick his head up when she arrived but was not very responsive. I called CM and told her what was happening and since he was so out of it we decided she would finish cleaning the disaster area as she had already talked to him when he was coherent at home waiting for me to get the truck ramp out and together.
Gina and I spent some time with him and then Dr. Fleury came in and we let him go. I laid my head on his heart so I could listen to it beating until it beat no more. My beautiful, beautiful boy with the sweet smile and the heart of gold was gone. On Friday the 13th of September 2013 at 11:30pm the Journey of Tonka ended here on earth and I am sure a new one started for him at the bridge and when we meet again he can tell me all about it.

At this juncture I feel as if the flow is completely gone  there is only the endless pull as if the life has been sucked out of me. I know in time this will lessen but for now I am empty and alone in this.
Thank you for all your kind words, your thoughts, your gifts and your prayers. He was an amazing soul and I thank you for your love and support of him through the years.
Much Love

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tonka and Pam Puppy Up!

AP here:
Tonka and I have a couple of FB friends that are really awesome people working hard for a great cause. The cause is canine cancer which is now something that has struck Tonka twice and will be what eventually ends our journey. The fact of the matter is that cancer is becoming more and more prevalent in not only humans but also our companion animals and we need to find out why.
Luke Robinson is at the forefront of this cause and has been since cancer took his beloved dog Malcolm in 2006. In 2008 he and his two Great Pyrenees Hudson and Murphy traveled from town to town from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts on a journey of 2000 miles. The trip became the 2 dogs 2000 miles walk to raise awareness and try to find an end to this horrible disease. Tonka and I followed him on that walk through Twitter and sent a tweet or two his way from @Tonka_Dog.
Recently I had a phone conversation with Luke about my boy Tonka and his tumor, unfortunately Luke has become quite an expert on canine nasal tumors. Not long after their legendary walk his boy Murphy was taken away from us all too soon by one. The thing about Luke that resonates immediately is how much he truly cares about life and how passionate he is about stopping this insidious disease from taking it away so quickly. His passion has fueled the 2 Million Dogs 2 Miles organization whose tag line is -  cancer. touches. everyone.
The premise is simple, get 2 million dogs to walk in a series of smaller events across the US.
These walks are known as the PuppyUp! walks and are spread out all across the country. My friend Pamela Pyle is doing the Texoma walk in November in honor of Tonka and Swee'Pea. You can find out more about the walk here and help her out on her personal donation page here.

Help my Friend Pam Please

Monday, September 9, 2013

...and in the darkness

there is some light....
AP here:
Tonight Tonka and I walked Nala to the corner like we have done so many times before and on the return journey Mr. Pat pulled over and came to say hi. Mr. Pat is a friend from our morning walks, way down by the pool. We have not seen him in a long time since we do not do the long walks anymore but we used to pass his house everyday at the same time he was coming out to go to work. He and Tonk had always shared a morning hello.
Mr. Pat's neighbor from across the street saw his truck pulled over and stopped to see if everything was OK. He also knows Tonka so the two of them gave him some ear scratches and some head pats. I got the horrible honor of telling them the latest news about how our time is short.
I sort of fell apart a bit tonight - its very hard to keep up the happy face and voice all the time. When we got home I got in the shower so I could cry without upsetting Tonka. The evening seemed kind of dark and I got my pajamas on and figured I would sit outside and get my thoughts together but then the doorbell rang. I answered it thinking it was Tonka's Aunt Patty or one of his peeps coming by to say hi. I was surprised to find one of the young ladies from the neighborhood standing there with 2 PetSmart cards she received for her birthday. She explained that and her mom have watched Tonka grow up from a puppy and she wanted him to have the cards. It was the sweetest gesture and I was a bit dumbfounded for a minute. I had her come in to say hi to Tonka and then we walked out to talk to her mom. What an amazing young lady and what a selfless act. My mind teetered with the decision to tell her mom what was the latest with Tonka and I decided I should as I didn't want them to all of a sudden not see him anymore and wonder.

Mia (sp) if you ever read this please know that you did more than just donate some cards tonight you created a bright spot in what was otherwise a dark evening.
Thank you so very much and I wish you all the best. If you ever need anything please don't hesitate to stop by.
Alice and Tonka

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time is not on our side....

AP here:
Almost every morning I sit on the porch and watch the sun rise. It is Tonka's favorite place to be, lying on his two big comfy beds pushed together and sniffing the breezes and "listening to the sounds of the day starting up. I drink a cup, or three of coffee and talk to him and he eventually settles and goes back to sleep for a bit. It is our quiet time together. There was even a time when nights were cooler he and I would sleep out there (the beds are big enough for two). He is a great snuggler and an great hugger, he likes to hold you or touch you with his paw.
The thing with knowing that we are on limited time is that it makes these routine moments become bittersweet. Everything becomes a "is this the last time" in your head and knocks the breath out of you for a moment. I try to not get upset around him and keep everything fun and exciting with my tone but I wonder if he hears the catch in my throat sometimes. Ordinary routine things become decisions based on guessing how much time is left, how much food to buy, should I really order a 100 count box of pee pads? You are probably thinking just do the normal and don't think that way but believe me you cant help it, you don't want to but logically its how your brain processes it or at least mine does. I can tell it to shut up but it doesn't work, trust me I tell it to shut up about a lot of things daily.
I am a big believer in the fact that memories are  all we really own in this world. I find that I am having a conversation with myself  everyday to remember everything about him - to never forget. His smell, the way his fur feels, the way his head looks bigger when he is just slightly wet from the rain or after a bath, the way his eyebrows dance up and down when he is thinking... a million little nuances that are the Tonka dog these are things I need to keep and hold tight.

It's hard to imagine a day without him in it. How can I go a day without his goofy grin, his giant paw grabbing me to keep petting or playing with him, his eyes that even blind always hold so much expression. As I have said before he is my heart and I will be lost without him. So I go about our day and try to take as many pictures as possible and post them on social media keeping it light but there are moments that are anything but. I scream a lot in the truck on the way to and from work about how unfair this is but it doesn't change anything. I sleep with him and listen mostly, not really sleeping for some sound or sign to let me know he is in distress. I watch him and gauge his willingness to eat or partake in his normal activities to see if I can tell it is time because yes the reality is this cancer will force me to call the end of the journey. Last night was not a good night, he has started with nosebleeds. I can feel the heavy hand of time pushing us towards nothingness. Time is the enemy and it is one that you just cant fight.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The last day of therapy...

AP here:
For about a year and a half now Tonka and I have gotten in the truck every Tuesday morning and made our way to Bestgate Rd. in Annapolis. There we would spend an hour with two of the smartest and nicest people, Diana Huey and Chris Fritsch. These two ladies have been his rehab specialists every step of the way with his neurological issues doing cold laser and nerve glides with him and putting his rib back in place when it would pop out. They have never given up on him and researched and brainstormed all the way till now trying to figure out and help him walk again.
We would pull in the parking lot and I would back up the truck in a strategic space that allowed the back end to dip down just a bit to make getting him up and down the ramp easier. There was a space of time where he could not help me at all. Those days he wore his help em up harness and I would pull right up to the door and Diana would come out and help me lift him and carry him in.
Everyone there has always made him feel so comfortable and loved (kinda like Norm from Cheers). The other specialty staffs were always giving him treats and hugs and he loved rolling through the lobby to "see" everyone. This Tuesday started out no different as Chris and Diana came out to the truck to help get him up and into his wheels and we headed in for therapy.
Happy Boy!

I'm not sure what made me make the decision but I told them going in that this would be his last session. I think in the back of my mind I know the time is really getting short and I want all his "lasts" to be happy ones.

That is killing me you know "the lasts" -everything I do suddenly has a time-stamp on it as something we will never do again.

So the word went around the facility and Dr. Roa (who is an amazing surgeon and an equally amazing person) popped in on the therapy session to say goodbye. He chatted with Tonka for awhile and scratched his ears and his chin and I know Tonka appreciated it as much as I did.

When therapy was done we rolled out the door and his friends were there to say goodbye.

Lots of Love
Gloria and Sonia  had gotten together and come up with the idea to make me something special and so Sonia's mom made the most awesome Tonka hat for me.
Tonka Hat

Such an awesome gift....

Aunt Gina gave him some words of advice

Diana, Chris and his Aunt Gina walked us out to the car and helped get him in the truck. It was so strange and very sad to be leaving a place that has been such a big part of our lives for the past two years. Even though the reasons for being there have always been medical in nature its always been a happy and safe place for us.

On the way home I decided that perhaps we needed some breakfast so I stopped and got us a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.                                                              

I love bacon...
Nap time
Once home it was time for a nap. It's hard work and very tiring being so spoiled!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Puppy Plunge 2013

AP here:
Tonka and I attended the Puppy Plunge this year in Annapolis at Camp Letts. We hung out with Tonka's friend Ollie Lollie Stanford and his humans at the Veterinary Housecall Service booth.

On the Way

I'm here

I hung out with my buddy Ollie

I stopped to see the ladies at the Petsmart booth
 There were lots of booths to roll around and visit and "see" people to get treats from. Since we got there early it wasn't very crowded at the little beach and Tonka got to get his feet wet with the help of his friend Hannah.

My friend Hannah and I got in the water

Ollie was chillin

I took a break with my fan
Ollie took a break with some ice water

There were lots of people and puppies
 Later in the day Caitlin came with Noodle and we hung out a bit.
My friend Noodle showed up with a turtle costume

I love Noodle he is a happy boy

This little guy had big ears

Telia and I had a chat
 As the day wound down Ollie and I were tired and ready to go home.
Ollie was ready to go

AP packed everything up

I was asleep before we left the parking lot

Home and time to unpack
It was a really fun day....

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Such a Sensitive Boy...

AP here:
After 3 days of being on Piroxicam Tonka was doing so well that I could manage to push aside the doom and gloom that's been sitting in my head since the MRI report. Then of course reality smacked me once again. Tonka woke up Thursday morning and promptly threw up. Now Tonka is a very sensitive boy when it comes to meds but he hardly ever throws up (usually the other end is the problem). The Piroxicam is a very powerful anti-inflammatory and we are trying to protect his stomach with pepcid AC and Prilosec everyday but Thursday that did not seem to be working. His prescribed dose for his weight is 15mg and we started him at 10 to stay on the safe side.

He was still perky and while I was cleaning up took off into the yard to do some excavating.

I was hoping that the tumor had just caused some drainage that had soured his stomach but when I got home that afternoon he had thrown up again. I tried to push the recurring thought of the chemo experience and 25 hours in the ER out of my head. I withheld the medicine that night and Friday started him on a bland diet and broke his feeding into smaller meals including adding one at 2:30am. with the goal of keeping something in his stomach. That seemed to do the trick and he has been fine so far.

Saturday was a BIG day as we had scheduled a play date with all his neighborhood friends including some we had not seen in months. We wheeled all the way to the park and I took the stroller to push him home in.

Up and Ready
Out the Gate
Strolling to the Field

Shania and SweetPea Showed Up

Nala Arrived
Duke, Henry and Delilah Came In


All my friends were there and they all ran and played for a bit and then hung out.


Delilah and Jake


Hanging with my Peeps
Delilah and Henry

Nala, Duke and Shania

Hanging Out

In the Shade
Ms. May and I had a Chat

Sonia Giving Pepe some Advice
Group Photo
AJ helped push me home

Wagon Train Ho!!
He was one tired pup when we got home and fell fast a sleep dreaming of his friends and how much fun he had. It was just like old times!