Archive for November, 2010

Product Review: Livescribe Echo Pen

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

PayPal gave attendees a Livescribe Echo pen with 4G of memory at their X Innovate 2010 conference. It's a damn cool item, and I recorded a video to tell everybody about the features.


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Measuring Dog Years

Friday, November 5th, 2010

In the wake of the passing of my dog, I had a session with my therapist yesterday. I talked about how hard the decision was, and how some people seemed to feel that I hadn't waited long enough to choose euthanasia.

The dog had been unwell and unhappy for 2-3 months. She had no diagnosis and no course of treatment, which meant no hope for improvement. The only thing the vet could say for sure was that her kidneys were slowing down. While the dog still had a spark of life to her, I couldn't stand watching her decline. I thought about her problems, and asked myself how I would feel if I had those every day for 2-3 months. I'd be miserable after a DAY with the symptoms she had.

The therapist pointed out something I hadn't considered. For those of you struggling with the pet end-of-life decision, I hope this will help you. The therapist reminded me that 2 dog months is a human year. So imagine having those health problems for a YEAR. Well, when you put it that way…

I also think I was "lucky" to know my dog as well as I did. I work from home, so I could watch her all day. I knew every symptom and wart, and I could tell if anything were 1 millimetre worse. If I judged her health and pain by the "big greeting" I might get if I come home after being at work all day, I wouldn't have seen the reality of what she seemed to struggle with all day. I can imagine someone who is not home all day thinking this animal was pretty fine, and letting this go on for months or years.

Some of my friends made it sound like it was too soon. She had a spark of life. She was still eating. She could get up and move around. She wasn't crying all day. Personally, I think if I saw an animal not eating, not moving, with no life, I would say it was too far gone. I could never bear to look at my beloved kid, and see palpable pain. Don't listen to people who say you have to wait until your dog looks a lot like death. If you are looking to keep an animal from suffering, an animal that close to death has probably been suffering a while.

Thanks to Facebook friends who came out and said yes, they've had to do this, and their main regret was waiting too long. It's a very hard decision. No time seems like the right time to end a pet's life. I don't struggle with the decision anymore, but I struggle with her loss.

It's full-day one without her. I miss her. The house is so quiet, and how alone I am seems really obvious. I keep wanting to sing to her, or ask her to clean my plate. I know it'll get better with time. For those of you struggling with this decision, I hope some of my difficult decision will help you.


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Rita Levitt, 12 Dec 1997 – 4 Nov 2010

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

That picture of her is at age 2 months. That's one of her shoes, her very first and fave toy ("Little Stuffed Puppy"), and her collar and tag. I am not keeping a body or ashes.

The vet was fantastic, my friend Margery was an amazing rock and support, and Mickey the cat came too. He's now sitting at home in the spot she laid in in the last two days. His tail is down.

I will love her and miss her forever. I am grateful to her for every moment we had. She changed my life for the better every day. For As Was fans, she will live on forever as the cartoon character on the website. :)


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My Dog, Rita

Monday, November 1st, 2010

I know I said it would be personal radio silence, but I'm dealing with something really tough, and my blog pals have really been there for me over the years. Thanks, blog pals…

I'm having a really hard day. I am getting closer to the decision to have to put my dog down. I can't stop crying. It's difficult, and no choice feels fantastic.

Rita is nearly 13 years old, and I've had her since she's 7 weeks old. She is the Jack Russell in pictures with me. Heck, she's even a cartoon mascot on the As Was website (and will always be, if up to me!). She's been the only consistent element in my life, and certainly nicer than the guys I dated. :)

She's a freaking genius with a great command of language, and a real sense of humour. She thinks she is a cat, and loves cats. She hates dogs, and will attack dogs, so I've spent 12+ years apologising to neighbours. This is from 2007, and no, I didn't train her to do this. She was doing it, so I gave it a name. She learned the name.

In 2008, Rita started having pee accidents, mostly in the kitchen. I figured she just wasn't getting used to the new house, or still hated the guy I was living with. She was slightly better in 2009, and I didn't see other symptoms, so I didn't think much of it. But a few months ago (from when I'm writing this), the pee thing got out of control when she started having pee accidents in her sleep. This lead to a bunch of vet visits, including an emergency one my house sitter had to do while I was on a business trip.

What has unfolded since has been a bunch of health problems, all unrelated, and some that have nothing to do with pee or kidneys. I'm also seeing cognitive issues as well as balance issues… in the smartest, sturdiest little hunting dog ever… it's just not like her. Our vet is out of good ideas. His two most recent ideas were 1) to run every test for every disease, just to rule every disease out, and 2) send her for a catscan because maybe all the seemingly unrelated problems could be a brain issue. He ran urine and blood tests, and they only showed that her kidneys are slowing down. No disease or infection (yet). Some of the tests he wants to run are $300 each, let alone what any treatment might cost.

I decided after he told me that that whatever are her last months should not be full of tests, meds, poking, prodding, treatments, or surgeries. I just want her to be happy and feel as good as she can. I'm not sure how good she feels. She looks pretty unhappy most of the day with some sparky moments. She goes from sleeping to me rushing her outside to pee before she pees inside back to sleeping. On my last trip, my house sitter told me she was thinking of setting an alarm every 2 hours (at night) so she can wake up and take the dog outside (so she doesn't pee in the apartment). I feel like I spend a lot of my day looking for a mess, wondering if there is a mess, smelling a mess, cleaning a mess, and trying to avoid a mess.

The next thing in my life is a big move (stressful) and some changes to my career. I work from home now, so I've been able to do the 24-hr care cycle. I think it would be worse if I were gone all day (and she's home, scared, going in the apartment), and it's likely that my career changes will have me gone a lot. We've been sitting next to each other all day, every day since February 1998. She falls apart when I'm not there (which is why I have a house sitter that stays overnight rather than just a dog walker when I'm gone). So I don't think my next move is NOT going to go well for a weak and sick dog who gets depressed when I'm not there.

I thought about giving her to some friends who love her, but that made no sense. It doesn't seem right to give someone a sick and elderly pet who needs nearly 24-hr care, and is only going to have increased problems and vet bills. That's not really a companion. If they made dog assisted living, that would be the right place for her!

Even though she still has a bit of a spark, I'm thinking the quality of life isn't there. It's now a 24-hr cycle of care between the pee, and unfortunately also throwing up and diarrhea… a lot of that IN my apartment, even with me taking her out every 2 hours. :( I'm patient, and I'm not mad at her. I know this is the best she can do right now. But with the vet having no clue, and there being no treatment other than stabbing at catscans, I think it may be her time.

I plan to give her the best few weeks ever. I got her a burger at Carl's Jr today. :) I just want her to be happy, and seeing her decline has been beyond heartbreaking. I have no idea how much discomfort or pain she's in, and I know I do not want to see the day when I can read palpable pain on her face. I wouldn't be able to handle that… I don't think I could deal with the idea that I kept my dog alive to the point where she's in agony. It's hard enough to see her with all the symptoms she has now, physical and cognitive. I'm not sure I could bear to see her get worse… hence the decision I'm coming to.

I also have 2 cats. Mickey grew up with Rita, and he's now 11 years old. Eve is nearly 10 years old, and I got her in January 2010. So I'm not alone, but that doesn't make this easier. It just means I'll have to do through this at least 2 more times… and it's agonising. I'm barely making it through my day. One of my best friends has human hospice training, and is really helping me out. She's making the call I can't make right now.

Thanks to anybody who writes in with support. Everybody else can keep his or her lack of support to himself or herself.


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