March 24, 2016

Oral Melanoma


A couple of days ago we got a call back from our oral surgeon with results from the extra tests to determine whether Piri's cancer is local or metastatic. Unfortunately it's metastatic, meaning it will or has already spread to other parts of his body, most like to his lymph nodes, glands near his neck and possibly his lungs. The growth in his mouth will grow back. And he will once again have trouble eating because of the discomfort to open and chew.  

A couple of days ago wasn't a very good day.

I went through a slew of jumbled emotions that went from a cool calm blue to a hot hot messy red.

I cried and was terribly terribly heartbroken and sad.

Then I was angry. Pissed off that he just can't catch a break. Kidney disease, heart issues and now metastatic cancer? Really? I was infuriated that while we are struggling with infertility, a terminal illness will now that away the constant joy that has helped us get through the roughest of rough days. We can't have a child but sure, throw another wrench at our lives and take away our dog, too. Thanks.

And then hopeful. Somehow he may be able to beat this. He has always been our comeback kid. 

Repeat. 

Yesterday was better but the tears still come. Today I'm just nervous. The unknowns scare me and put me on edge.

Our primary vet referred us to an oncologist and we were able to squeeze in an appointment before our Florida trip. It's on Monday. Hopefully after that meeting we will be able to find out what stage his cancer is, any treatment possibilities and his prognosis. 

Because Piri has renal disease, chemotherapy will be pretty hard for his kidneys. I am just really hoping there is some sort of treatment option for him to slow down the progress of his cancer. But our number one priority for when we choose a possible treatment option is to keep his quality of life in tact. I don't want him to suffer.

Maybe a silver lining in all this? Our vet did say that it looks like his cancer cells aren't dividing fast. Maybe a good news... but quite unfortunate that we need to settle for this type of news as good. 

I can't say bye. I can't lose him. I know to non-dog people, and possible dog people as well, I may sound a bit dramatic and crazy. That it's just part of the life cycle. But I just can't. Piri is more than a dog. More than family. He's helped me, helped us, through our most difficult times, and was a loyal loyal companion through all those lonely hard months. I always said, if Piri can live with us forever, I don't need have a baby. He means that much to me. It has always been the three of us and I can't bear the thought of us becoming a two. 

I know I'm thinking way too ahead here. That my mind should just focus on the now and continue to do what we've been doing with him -- love him, care for him, have fun with him. I am trying. But I'm scared. And nervous. And mad. And sad. 


March 21, 2016

Under the Magnolia Trees + a road trip


I hardly stop people and ask them to take pictures for us. But I just couldn't pass up taking a photo under this magnolia tree in all her (pre) spring glory. So I stopped a young woman and asked. And she took a couple of photos and stuck around until I checked to see if I liked them. 

Like? 

I love them. Thank you so much. 

It is probably one of my favorite pictures of the three of us to date. 

We're full on busy over here at Piri's Place. Lots of guests coming for Spring Break and so we've been busy picking up poop, playing with toys, tossing tennis balls, handing out treats and filling up the water bowls. After all our March guests leave we're going on a road trip to Florida.

We've been talking about a road trip for a while now -- Florida, out west, up north, anywhere, really, with Piri. I don't drive {I have a license but I'm a little scared when it comes to driving so I avoid it at all costs unless I absolutely have to} so I felt bad putting all the stress of driving long hours on Yangkyu. But this year, with Piri turning 17 and more health ailments that seem to pop up, it seemed like a good time to just do it. No more waiting, no more planning to actually plan the trip. Just book. And that's exactly what we did.

It seems a little crazy but we'll be driving straight to St. Augustine to spend a night there. We found a gorgeous inn right in the Historic District. I'm still researching what we can sightsee in the short time we're there but I hope there are some baked goods left at the Spanish Bakery & Cafe by the time we arrive. I have been reading all sorts of good things about that place.

Then early next morning we'll head straight to Key West. The hotels were a bit pricy but we found a good deal at one of the {many} dog friendly beach front hotels. 

We will have some time before we leave but starting this week I'm making up lists of things to do before we leave, things to buy, pack and also download. I mean podcasts and other radio show, songs. We'll need about 38+ hours of things to keep us awake and entertained. Any suggestions?

Have a wonderful week! 

March 19, 2016

17


Today Piri celebrated his 17th birthday with Izzy, Hank, Sydney and Summer, his guest dog friends.  

He slept most of the day but got up at 4 pm. Upon his waking up, we had a little celebration. And despite not having that much of an appetite, he finished half of his sweet potato and chicken birthday cake I made him. He also ate all his dinner -- K/D food mixed with a little bit of Weruva. He skipped his medicine this morning but ate it in the evening along with all his supplements. 

This all basically means that it was a fantastic day in terms of his appetite. 

We also gave him his Sub-Q fluids at home for the first time. We learned how to do it from Steven, possibly the awesomest vet tech ever, a few nights ago. Yangkyu did the poking while I squeezed the bag to get the fluid out faster. Since it was our first time doing it alone, we fumbled a little and had to poke him twice {and he yelped a little in pain and discomfort}, Piri was patient with us and we got all 300 ml of liquid inside him. It was nice to give it to him in the comfort of his bed instead of the scary vet's office, which he hates. 

We are incredibly lucky to be celebrating 17 years of his life. Thank you Piri for being so resilient and working through all the tough times. 

Happy happy happy birthday. 



March 18, 2016

Too early for Cherry Blossoms


We've been going to see the DC cherry blossoms during peak bloom every year but unfortunately this year we will miss it. The weather around here has been a little crazy - warm and cool and chilly and then warm again. Originally when peak bloom dates were forecasted I immediately blocked off dates on DogVacay so we can take the day off and head out, but the forecasts changed twice {peak bloom is now expected to be on the 23rd and 24th} and fall during dates when I already have dog guests booked. Ah well. There is always next year. 

We all headed out to DC anyway yesterday and beautiful magnolia trees greeted us. We're thankful to have seen a bit of pink while we were out there. While the Tidal Basin was empty of any blooms it was nice to walk around slowly without heavy foot traffic. It gets crazy crowded during viewing season. 

Afterwards we grabbed some lunch at a nearby food truck and then headed back home. Traffic free. Woot! 

Usually in the morning and all afternoon Piri is usually napping and so understandably he was a little tired but he did get to trot around, sniff and make his mark to let the other dogs know that "Piri was here." 





















March 15, 2016

A Girl and Her Dogs: Chanta + Douglas + Barbara

I feel this with every new profile we feature here -- there are some amazing storytellers out there and I'm glad we get to share them right in this space of ours.

Today, we're back with a new "A Girl and Her Dog" story and it features Chanta and her dogs who have probably the most creative and awesome names {and hashtags!} that I {and probably you} have ever heard.

You ready for this?

Meet Douglas Rubeus Percival and Barbara Hermione June! 

This trio hails from Seattle and their story is all about persistence, patience and love. It made me laugh and tear and nod in agreement at every sweet twist and turn throughout their wonderful journey together.

Dog folks and non-dog folks alike, I promise this is a story you will want to read and hold close to your heart. 

There is a dog for every person and a person for every dog. Chanta and her partner Adam have met their dogs and their dogs have really truly met their people. And their becoming a family came with the help of a former loyal companion. 

Here is all about Chanta and her dogs, Douglas and Barbara. 

The Girl: Chanta Chhay
The Dogs: Douglas Rubeus Percival and Barbara Hermione June. We identify Douglas as a lab/terrier mix and Barbara as a labradoodle. 
*Douglas is a lab/terrier mix according to the shelter but we thought at one point that he might be lab/pointing griffon so we sometimes say he's a "Griffindor".
We're also unsure of Barbara's breed. The owners who gave her up thought labradoodle (she was originally purchased off of Craigslist) and the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS) where she thought maybe mixed with a pointing griffon but her hair isn't very wiry at all.*
Chanta's favorite snack: Oh this is too hard! It depends on whether I'm at work or home and I often will snack on the same thing for weeks or months before moving on to something else. For example, at work (Wing Luke Museum) I am loving honey tangerines because it's easy to grab at the produce stands in the neighborhood. The salmon musubi from Uwajimaya is also terrific. At home, I love a good cheese and cracker plate with a fruit spread of some sort. And anything dark chocolate. 
Douglas and Barbara's favorite snack: Douglas is always following me into the kitchen (my own fault as I've given him several treats in the kitchen after a meal), especially when he hears a rustling of packages. He LOVES apples. If he hears me slicing an apple he'll come running and will sit at my side and wait. My partner recently discovered how much Douglas loves frozen peas too. 
Barbara ate everything in sight the first few weeks with us. I think it was just part of her adjusting to everything: new state; new home; new family. She wants everything Douglas eats except for rice. She loves to chew on hooves and bones and anything peanut buttery.
 From: Seattle, WA
Find them on Instagram: @oinkoinkfatty  (and their hashtags are #dougnbarb #barbaraourbeardedlady and #weeklydouglasportrait)
Their story:
Oh where to start? Not gonna lie, having two dogs is a lot of work. But they bring so much love and laughter with their very unique personalities and oftentimes neurotic behaviors that I wouldn't change a thing. My partner, Adam, may say otherwise! Seriously though, Douglas and Barbara are at the center of everything we do and make up the other half of our little family. We are coming up on Barbara's 1 yr adoptaversary in a few weeks. It's been a long journey and I'm happy to say that she and Douglas are perfectly cordial if not yet best friends. Our first dog helped us to better prepare for sharing our lives with these two unruly rascals!

A few years ago, we had just lost our 8 yr old rescued terrier mix #ToddAlbusFranklin to bone cancer. We were completely heartbroken. Our house felt empty and everywhere we looked there were reminders of Todd. I was uncertain how we would get through the loss of our first family member. I started looking at rescue sites and local shelters and knew we had to adopt another dog who needed a home. It felt like betrayal at first, and a bit selfish as we wanted another furry family member to help fill the void, but I'm so glad we persisted and met Douglas! 

I found him on Petfinder. He was listed as Rufus and was apparently a stray that the Pierce County Humane Society picked up. A couple was already meeting with Douglas when we arrived but we waited just in case it didn't work out. Twenty minutes later we were called in to talk to the vet before being introduced to Douglas. She shared his health history, which included epileptic seizures, and suggested that he needed strict rules and discipline due to his hyper activeness. I believe his paperwork said his manners were non existent. We met Douglas in a windowless room where he was busy rooting through a bin full of toys. He plopped right on Adam's lap and we knew he would come home with us. He adjusted within several weeks. He just needed a home. He needed to be with people. He needed his daily morning and evening walks and lots of swimming. He just needed a chance to be a dog. 

Douglas had several seizures his first year with us and they never ceased to be frightening. However, the seizures became less frequent and he hasn't had one since Barbara has been with us! I'm thankful that we didn't let the vet's warnings deter us from adopting him. His stubborn doofiness helped us through our grief. He brings so much joy, even to strangers, and makes everyone smile. We love him dearly and can't imagine life without him. 

While Douglas is wonderful with people, he's socially awkward with dogs. Male dogs always picked on him when we were at the park so we stopped going. Even though he's with Adam all day every day we wanted a pal for him. I found Barbara on Instagram - she was June then. She was in Utah and had several homes before arriving at the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS). Her owners were unable to cope with her high energy and high prey drive. We thought that these were manageable as we worked through the same behaviors with Todd. We drove down to Salt Lake City Friday morning with Douglas. The dogs met Saturday afternoon after an initial strong reaction Barbara. She spent the day and night with us in a hotel and we drove home Sunday morning! I know they shouldn't have been in such close quarters for a 13 hour drive but we got home with only minor incidents and a couple of "what are we doing?!" moments. 

The transition period of bringing in a new dog was at times frustrating as I so desperately wanted Douglas to be happy. She had snapped at him a few times so he was understandably cautious around her. In addition to their relationship, Barbara's high strung energy and aggressive behavior towards other dogs were added stress. Adam has been Barbara's primary walker and trainer - she's very much a daddy's girl - and she's improved leaps and bounds though it would be hard for strangers to tell. 

After 11 months together, Douglas and Barbara have become buddies though nowhere near what I hoped it would be. For now, they swim together. They hike together. They charge the door together when I get home. They nap together often. They play tug of war. They chew their bones together. We have a full house with these two and we love every minute of it. Well, maybe not every minute of it. 


Thank you Chanta and Douglas and Barbara!
You can see more of the life they share on Instagram at @oinkoinkfatty.

Photos via Chanta. 

March 10, 2016

A week of terrible news..


We found out today that the mass removed from Piri's mouth was indeed cancerous. They are running more tests to see if it is local to his mouth or has spread/can spread to other parts of his body. 

To say that we're devastated is an understatement. 

And to receive news like this after overcoming another terribly sad one yesterday is just too much for my heart. I don't think I can take much more. 

In the kitchen: Ponytail Kimchi


We made Ponytail Kimchi the other day. Well, no. Yangkyu made it. It turned out delicious. And he let me have a little taste by wrapping the long green tail around the radish and popping it in my mouth. That brought back all sort of childhood memories because that was really the best part about growing up and watching my mom make all types of kimchi. The part where she wraps a little piece into a bite sized one {making sure to take the extra sauce off because I couldn't eat spicy things, including kimchi, until college} and popped one in my mouth {all Korean moms do this btw. It's just part of the process of kimchi making, I think. Heh.}. She even made a "o" shape with her own mouth as I was opening my mouth as wide as I possibly could, anticipating that savory taste. Maybe motherly instinct on her part. 

Ponytail Kimchi is called Chonggak Kimchi in Korean. The type of radish or "mu" in Korean is called Chonggak mu. Chonggak means "bachelor."I read somewhere that this type of kimchi is called Chonggak kimchi because in the old days men used to wear their hair in long braids before they got married. The green stem of this radish resembles that and hence Chonggak Kimchi. 

I'm gonna have to ask my mom and pops if that's true. 

We used Maangchi's recipe. I won't rehash it here.

We already finished it and saved the extra sauce for when we make kimchi jjigae. That's going to taste amazing.


March 9, 2016

Chemical Pregnancy

If our first pregnancy was a successful one, we would've been celebrating her first birthday this month. I'd like to think that maybe she could've shared the same birth date as Piri. 

But instead of baby birthday celebrations, I'm going through my second miscarriage in as many years. 

Yesterday, after being three days late, I decided to test. Again. I already tested earlier and the pregnancy test came out negative. But I was late. Three days late. Which means I can test again, right? My mind always says no. Stop wasting expensive pregnancy tests, but my heart is the push over. It always tells me yes. Do it. You could be pregnant

And so I did. 

I glanced at the test and I cringed.

Negative.

I knew it. I knew it! 

I waited a few minutes before I could look at it again. I just sat that like a statue not really knowing what to think or feel. Then I decided to look at that cruel cruel truth one more time before trashing it. And then I saw it. A faint... a very very faint second line. I couldn't believe it. But I wanted to believe so badly. I took a picture and sent it to Yangkyu. 

When he came home we looked at it over and over again. We went online and looked at other pregnancy tests with lines to faint that you have to squint to really see. Oh my God. I think that really is a positive test. Yangkyu smiled but quickly put on a serious face because he didn't want to get our hopes up. I wanted to take another one last night but Yangkyu asked me to wait until the morning. 

Oh my patience. But hey.. we've been doing this for four years. What's waiting another night. 

And then the morning came and the test was negative. 

I spotted an hour later. 

Then bled a couple of hours after that. 

I had a chemical pregnancy. It's a fancy term for early miscarriage. 

I posted an article about coping with miscarriage on Facebook. It was a passive aggressive way of wondering if people would "catch on" and try to empathize. I was wondering if it would get as many attention as those who share birth announcements. 

I know. It sounds pretty dumb and sour. But... I can't help it. I'm in one hell of a rotten sour mood. 

I cried. I haven't done that in a while. 
Then I cried harder. Alone. 

I don't know why I share these stories online. But it helps me feel better. It helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me to think that maybe one person out there truly knows what I'm feeling. And that thought helps me get over all the other tasteless comments {although not all ill mannered} that come my way. 

I want to scream.

I want to really angry.

I just want to stop feeling this way.

March 7, 2016

I like this life with you // 005


"You can tell how smart people are by what they laugh at." 
 -- Tina Fey

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