This blog is dedicated to the life and times of an extraordinary dog named Guinness.
All of you who knew Guinness know that I've always told him he has Puppy Powers. Despite losing his right hind leg to bone cancer (osteosarcoma) early this year, Guinness continued to be his same good-natured, food-loving, gentle, yet silly self right to the end. It was during this time his Puppy Powers turned into Pirate Puppy Powers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chewbacca and other stories

I have all these funny memories of Guinness I have wanted to share, but I just really, really miss the guy, so it's been hard to wade through all the emotion and sit down and make myself think and write about Guinness. But I think I'm finally at a point where I can.

You may have heard many references to all of the crazy things he ate or chewed up over the years, and those of you that knew him, know that he was definitely a champion in that department. The first time he ate something odd started not even a week after I brought him home, when he was about 10 weeks old or so. He was playing outside, and when he came back in he suddenly got really sick. I called our vet at the time, and while on the phone, Guinness proceeded to cough up several clumps of very sharp, pointy, dried needles from one of those pine type shrubs. I told this to the vet, and was put on alert for various signs indicating he needed to be rushed in on an emergency basis, and what to give him in the meantime to help. Luckily, nothing happened and he was fine. It just reinforced his belief he could eat ANYTHING!

Not long after, it was this type of behavior that prompted Brett to make the declaration that the only reason Guinness had a body was to support the existence of his mouth and jaws....he had shown his true colors, we didn't have a puppy, we had an Ingesting Machine!

From there Guinness moved on to bigger and better things. He never was one to chew up a shoe, instead, opting for bigger and better delicacies such as, oh, say, a love seat!! Or, perhaps an entire webbed collar, minus the metal hardware (that was a fun go round, involving me finding the buckle to his collar and wondering where the rest of it was, and my sister Adrienne, weeks later, subsequently coming to visit and declaring "what IS that thing over there?" My reply: "Oh, that's where that was!" It had been living in Guinness' stomach for no less than three weeks before being regurgitated on the living room floor!)

Another top story, and this was probably his biggest, grandest display ever (a work of art almost), this past New Year's Eve, Brett and I and the girls were at our friends' house for the evening. We came home around 2am (the kids were overjoyed to get to stay up that late) and we were all beat. I had just washed all of our bedding that day in preparation of a long night, and being able to come home to some fresh sheets and plopping into bed. Upon arrival, the first thing we noticed was that Guinness had opened the cupboards (again, it was his newest trick). He had selected a can of black beans, or maybe they were pinto, I can't remember, and had crushed it, yes, CRUSHED, with his jaws, and had flattened it into a pancake and had eaten all of the beans out of it.

If that wasn't good enough, when I went to the bedroom, I was greeted by a scene that looked probably not that far off from a murder scene. I was really freaked out. On the floor and on our bed was this red stuff, and the sheets were shredded. I really was afraid of what it was, but luckily after seeing the bean massacre, I had a hunch. Guinness had found a plastic jar of tomato sauce and chewed that open, too. He obviously brought it up on the bed and probably clawed at it to hold it down while he, yes, ate a whole large size jar of tomato sauce. I almost took a photo, because it was quite the site to behold, but Brett was really disturbed by the thought of preserving that for posterity (it really was a pretty unnerving sight). So, instead of going to bed, we were scrambling to find more bedding.

Other things Guinness has eaten, attempted to eat, or otherwise shredded over the years:

  • Numerous canned goods (he perfected the can crush method, so we had to move our canned goods to a higher location)
  • Entire loaves of bread
  • Entire and partial rolls of paper towels
  • Toilet Paper
  • Kleenex
  • Half a 25 lb bag of dried dog food (big belly ache and vet call for that one)
  • 30-some birthday candles (overnight vet visit after raiding the garbage and coming close to needing emergency surgery, but it ended with a call from the vets after about 12 hours at the clinic. Vets: "We were just about to suggest surgery since we can't figure out what the mass we're seeing in his stomach is but he just passed a bunch of what looks like candles!" Me: "Oh yeah, we just had a birthday party for my friend Jen, there were over 30 of them!")
  • Pan of brownies (surrounded by shattered glass, as he had jumped up and knocked the glass pan down to get to them...this is a story unto itself, and one I'm hoping my brother -in-law will write up for us, since he was the one at the house and discovered it when Guinness did it...I was off at the pediatrician's office with Mia, then less than a year old for an emergency, it was an intense 2 hours but all ended well.)
  • No less than, say, 20 tv remotes (I started buying replacements in 2's knowing he'd find them!)
  • Baby gates (if they got in the way of him getting to the kitchen cupboard, he'd gnaw or claw it off the wall)
  • Stuffed animals, nun puppets, carrot stuffed animals and stuffed animal eyeballs galore!The kids lived in fear, and eventually we had to put them all up.
  • Work gloves. I don't think Brett ever had a pair that wasn't found, stolen, and chewed up.
  • Giant sticks (logs practically sometimes!), we have a photo of him dragging an 8-10 foot branch that had fallen in my mom's yard once.
That's just off the top of my head. We called him a Wookie because of the uncanny wookie call he made when people would come to the door, pretty fitting, since he chewed things so much that calling him Chewbacca wasn't out of order either! I'll return at some point, with more, but I would like to add, if you have any memories of things Guinness did (food related or otherwise) or any thoughts at all, please don't be afraid to post up. I'd love to read anything you have to say!

Until then...

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Pirate Pup - Guinness' Records

I wanted to make this post because leaving this blog hanging on the previous one makes me really sad. I wanted to be able to think past it, and reflect a little bit on what made Guinness so...Guinness.

His name, which chosen for, obviously, the stout of the same name, ended up being appropriate for another reason. He, in my opinion lived up to the name Guinness in the sense of records . . . I called them Guinness' Records. First and foremost, besides being a very large and powerful animal, Guinness had to have been one of the most gentle, if not the gentlest dogs I have ever met, and I am almost certain anyone who has met him will agree. In his 10 years he was witnessed to have growled only one time, and it wasn't even a growl but a little grunt of protest when a then 2 year old (my nephew) tried to sit on his back years ago. Kincaid loved Guinness so much I think he wanted to engulf him.

But he was also nuts! It was the mix of his sweet nature added to a completely bonkers personality (which is what drove to me to call him a Puppy, and never a dog to the very last) that made him who he was.

In my opinion, he won other "Guinness' Records" for: the most times causing an owner to have to call the vets for eating strange items, food or otherwise; amount of creative tricks learned in a short amount of time (I had to stop because I ran out of ideas eventually); the amount of surgeries he had to go through due to aliments and/or self inflicted injury; for his resilience and his ability to deal with various health issues with such acceptance; and above all else, his capacity for absolute love of every single human or animal that he met (including other dogs he occasionally encountered that clearly wanted to eat him for lunch).

At the moment I'm trying to draw on and learn from his record ability to accept situations with grace, strength and determination. It is this that is making me able to deal with his loss a little easier so that I can move forward and focus on all the love and enjoyment that came from having him be part of our lives.

That's all for right now, but I think tomorrow I'd like to start posting up some of the really silly things Guinness has done over the years, there are so many stories, I would love to use this place to put it down in words so it's not forgotten. Perhaps I'll touch on each of the Guinness' Records in a series of posts.

And, I'll leave this on a silly note with an early photo of him, taken a few days after he came home with me, wrestling with a visiting puppy friend. If you take a look at his expression, you'll get a tiny glimpse of the whirling dervish he was!

(Guinness and wrestling buddy, July 1999)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The hardest yet

Well, as usual, I'm finding myself posting something completely unexpected. Last night, after a great day, we suddenly found ourselves in a position of having to say good bye to the one and only Guinness.

If you are in shock, know that we are in the deepest moments of shock as well. It's hard posting right now, but I wanted to let everyone know. All I can say is he woke up yesterday acting well, as evidenced by my previous post. I took the kids out and was gone from about 4 to about 8, and Brett got home around 6. He was acting totally normal, including bringing us another stuffed animal on our arrival, eating dinner just fine, going outside and trolling around as has become the norm once again. But by 10 or so, when I was going to let him out one more time, I found him lying in his usual spot behind his chair, a wicker rocking chair, but when I asked if he wanted out, all he could do was lift his head and lay back down. I knew immediately something was critically wrong. Brett came over to help me, and we knew we had to call for help. Suffice to say after a couple phone calls with Tom diagnosing over the phone, consulting with Wendy, and Wendy rushing home so Tom could get to us, we found that we were in a really tough spot fast with Guinness. I don't have the strength to post up any details right now, but I will say that after facing the (very few) options we had, at about 11:40 last night Brett and I were by Guinness' side with Tom in our living room as he was put to sleep.

I know you will most likely want to know why, so as fast as I can get it out, the anemia caused by the chemotherapy and the cancer, finally was stronger than the prednisone that was keeping it a bay. We were stuck in a rock and a hard place, where Guinness couldn't be kept on a high dose of predinsone without him suffering from damage to his body, but without it, he wasn't able to

The only thing that keeps me going right now is knowing that his last day was a really good one. I shared my breakfast with him upstairs in the office here, so happy he was still wanting to make the trip upstairs still. He brought us stuffed animals (even chewed the eyeballs out), and was feeling, at least outwardly, good enough to have a normal day. He was Guinness right up until the very end.

I have to say, after it was all over last night I immediately thought about how hard it was going to be to break it to everyone, my family, all of you. It made me really sad, but it also helped me immensely knowing that, once again, I have so many of you to share the sadness, and also the happiness that Guinness has brought.

Finally, the photo I posted yesterday now takes on one of those poignantly sad twists when I recall one of my first photos of Mia and Guinness. The image keeps reappearing in my mind, and I thought it would be nice to post it here to show how much of a gentle guy and kind spirit Guinness has always been.

I will leave you with these two photos of Guinness with Mia and Jaina for now, and I will post again when I have my wits about me a bit more. Thank you all of you for being there for me though the most difficult part of Guinness' life.

Guinness with Jaina and Mia, Summer 2003

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Pirate Pup...YAARR!

I am so happy to be able to say that Guinness is still doing incredibly well. We've had several people stop by in the past week or so remark how good he looks right now. Guinness is back to his old tricks, going outside with his hackles up, charging at the neighbors and barking, getting into cupboards again (yay for chewed up water bottles!), ringing his bell to go outside (a trick he learned as a pup, very handy), and just getting into general mischief. He's also been greeting people at the door with shoe in mouth, yodeling like a wookie. It makes my heart sing.

I've also done research on the natural remedies suggested to me by Dr. Tom and will be adding artemisinin, vascustatin and Imm-kine to his repertoire. It will replace the prednisone, which is almost phased out. Eventually he will only be on gabapentin to help maintain any pain in his existing hip joint (he has mild dysplasia), pepcid to counteract any stomach upset by medications, and the holistic support mentioned above.

I can't even put into words how happy it makes me to see him turn around and suddenly be himself again. I'm also happy that we made it this far, with a successful surgery, 3 rounds of chemotherapy and now a more natural approach on the horizon, with only a few scary, yet in the end negotiable, set backs along the way. I will still continue to update, probably more once we embark on the introduction of the artemisinin et. al. I'm going to add one at a time to make sure he can tolerate them, and if there is any side effects I'll have a better grasp on where it's coming from.

More soon!

(photo, Mia and Guinness, bird watching, a big habit in our household)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Checking In

This past Friday I brought the cats in for a check up, and while there got to talking about Guinness and how he is doing, and how to continue his support. Given that he has been acting like he feels well, considering all that he has been through, I talked to Dr. Tom about what it would mean to discontinue chemotherapy. After me many questions and Dr. Tom taking time out to answer everything I asked, I have made the decision to cease the treatments , and hope that the three rounds he was given, plus the dietary change we made a while ago (Guinness is now being fed a high protein, low grain diet with the addition of some supplements and freshly cooked meat, we've all but eliminated commercial dry dog food which has a high grain content), with the addition of some alternative therapies that he has used with another patient to seemingly good result, will keep Guinness in good health.

At this point I am further researching a few alternative supplements to his treatment repertoire. As he is being weened off the prednisone, which also served as a method to inhibit tumor growth as well as helping to try to keep his white blood cell count in check, we are going to add artemisinin into his medicinal arsenal, as well as possibly two others, including vascustatin and Imm-kine, both of which I am researching. We are in essence going to employ some of the items on an alternative cancer treatment for dogs with osteosarcoma, called the Navy Protocol, which Dr. Tom has had some experience with another patient. I will be looking further into that as well.

Besides that we'll be monitoring his levels via blood samples and also occasional chest x-rays to spot check his lungs, and of course anything else (that hopefully doesn't arise).

It was nice to see Guinness get all upset and actually trot off to get a stuffed animal to bring to the cats when he saw them put into the carrier on their way out the door to the clinic, something he's always done. The cats weren't too thrilled about the whole thing, but I was!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Iron will, and a loss

Today's will be another fast post, sorry, I almost want to erase all that I was faced with and pondering not long ago, and just post that today still finds Guinness doing well. To say he's got an iron will and ability to forge ahead is an understatement. He's now getting him self up unassisted most of the time, stopped needing the "suitcase handle" harness I had to put on to help him down the back stairs, and we have all noticed how much more perky and alert he's been. His expressive ears are moving about all the time in response to our voices and activity going on, something I didn't even consciously know he does until it came back.

So, back up the roller coaster, hoping it continues. For now his chest xray and ultrasound have been postponed, which is great news to think we've overcome a big low.

On a sad note, we lost another one of our furry friends last night, Zelda, our fancy rat, one of two sisters we adopted a few years ago. It was a melancholy night for us all, as losing a pet of any size is not easy. I had suspected something was going on, as she had developed a tumor under her front paw very recently and I was watching it carefully. But I've been down that road with my old friend rat, Clover, who I had in college. I had actually had surgery done on her to try to help her, as she had a tumor as well, which is not uncommon for pet rats. She made it through surgery but ended up not pulling out of anesthesia. Unfortunately for those tiny pets (and their owners), there is not a lot you can do for them medically. As it was pointed out with Zelda's sister Aryll by Dr. Tom when she was ill, there are no known dosages for them. They are so tiny it's almost impossible to measure out medicines, you can't do blood draws because you can't take enough blood from them to give any kind of result, and obviously as I learned with Clover, anesthesia is a very difficult thing with them.

But, regardless, it is still a loss and very sad, although the lessons in loving and caring for another living thing has been such a wonderful experience for the kids. We will miss the good times with Zelda, just as we do her sister, Aryll, very much.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Catching up on the past 12 days

I have found that the hardest days we have are also the hardest to put into words, and I find myself avoiding it. I want to report good things to everyone, but alas, it's not always the way it is. I've also realized that after a really good start with Guinness and his treatments, I got a little spoiled since he handled it so well in the begining. I started to think that, hey, this is going to be a breeze! So, when things started turning rough, it was a big shock even though I had tried to prepare myself for a long hard road when he was first diagnosed.

I'm going to have to save all the details of what has happened in the past 12 days for tomorrow, as I'm my brain is starting to shut down, but I will say that in the past 6 days Guinness has gone from being very weak and me being so worried about him, to all of a sudden watching him starting to perk back up once again. As of yesterday he has started barking at cars going by and at our neighbors dog once again, it's pretty funny to be jumping for joy at a dog barking loudly. He's also started greeting us at the door with shoes once again, asking to come upstairs with us, and getting himself up much more without me standing over him to help him out.

Sorry for such a discombobulated post, I've got a lot of information and things to try to get into words so they make sense, but at least for the moment you know that while things have been really tough, I've been feeling much more relieved at Guinness' improvement in the past few days. I think I've learned by now that this is a big pendulum that goes back and forth, I just hope it keeps going this way for much longer.