April 6, 2016

Breath in. Breath out.



It's been a while. 

We are just coming back from our long trip to St. Augustine and Key West, Florida. We got back late last night and today we spent most of the day resting and filling up our refrigerator and going through loads of laundry. Yangkyu went right back to work, but thankfully he got to work from home {it at least freed him from the stress of commuting}. 

I had actually brought my lap top on our trip because I had planned on blogging. I had so many things happening - so many emotional roller coaster rides, up, down, all around - and when this happens I just need to write it out. It helps me get calm. But of course I didn't. Well, no. I couldn't. There was just no time. Or energy. 

The last time I wrote, I was furious about Piri's cancer diagnosis and we still hadn't gone to the oncologist. Well, we did. That following Monday. Well, I didn't because I had guest dogs. I have been sticking to my 24 hour supervision policy quite literally since starting Piri's Place, but we couldn't get an appointment when I had no guest dogs and so we had to do it on Monday.

During a meet and greet, this client said that I can let her dogs inside their crate if I needed to leave the house for a few hours but I assured her that wouldn't be necessary. I was literally eating my own words when I was stuck with a Monday morning appointment (Monday evening was when they were leaving).

I had messaged her apologizing and asking if it was ok to leave them for a few hours because of my unique situation but I didn't hear back from her and so Yangkyu went with Piri and I was able to call in and hear everything the doctor had to say and ask lots of questions too. I cried a whole lot during that 1 hour meeting.

Piri's cancer is bad. It's invasive and aggressive. It's fast forming. We can expect the growth in his mouth to come back within 4-6 weeks. X-rays and further tests didn't show any tumors in his lungs or blood vessels, which is a good sign. His cancer hasn't metastasized. Yet. It will eventually though. 

We went over goals and a treatment plan - he got the melanoma vaccine and also chemotherapy. 

The melanoma vaccine is given four times every two weeks and then 6 month booster shots. Do you know how much it is to give those shots? $660. Each. I almost fainted when I heard the price. Yangkyu hates living with debt. It's his mission to pay off all our credit cards fully each month {although we do have some lingering balance}. But man. This cancer treatment will definitely put a dent in his mission. But he says "for Piri it's ok." When he says this I cry and smile at the same time. Only he can get me to cry and smile at the same time.

Chemotherapy for dogs comes in a pill format. Piri gets Palladia. 15 mg for the first week (a very low dosage), which should be given on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then 20 mg the next week, again on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Piri took his first dosage after coming back from the oncologist. He took it with a piece of ham. We went out for a car ride and did a little shopping at our local pet store. He didn't look lethargic, he ate and had a good night. 

Then Tuesday morning he had diarrhea. Energy level was still good though.

Wednesday we went on our road trip. He still ate his meals but vomited a little on the way down and had diarrhea again. We made an emergency stop somewhere in North Carolina and I called the oncologist. I hadn't given him Piri his second dosage but the oncologist said to stop giving him the chemo pills. Apparently I overlooked the instructions on the bottle -- stop dosage if there is GI upset or lack of appetite and call the oncologist. 

Damn. How did I overlook that?

In St. Augustine, Piri was still good. But then he just started going downhill as soon as we got to Key West. He stopped eating and continued to have diarrhea and vomiting. The oncologist prescribed more medicine to help stimulate his appetite, control his diarrhea and nausea. It began to work and he started to feel better. I updated the oncologist with the good news. Yesterday they called and said they wanted to try chemo with Piri again with the supporting meds.

It was a little hard to say yes only because I don't think I can bear to see him get so weak again. Chemo also did a number to his stomach and appetite. I just wasn't sure if this was the right thing to do. But how can I just give up and not try? What if it does work this time around? I am finding myself asking these types of unanswerable questions nonstop. 

And so we started again. He got his second dosage a few hours ago. He is now soundly asleep. We'll need to wake him up soon so he can get his sub-q fluids. This is a whole other story for another time. 

Taking care of Piri and kicking his cancer in the butt is my main focus now. It's been highly stressful and highly emotional. I have cried an ocean. Probably 2. At times I don't think I am prepared for this.. which brings me to another unfortunate event that happened during Spring Break. 

I actually wasn't going to mention anything about this incident and after a day I had completely cooled down and let it go. But when it happened I was furious and pissed for the entire day. I could not stop talking about it. And I couldn't believe I was letting it get to me this way. 

Perhaps I still shouldn't write it because it may come off as unprofessional but after my Key West experience, I am done with people who think they can mistreat us and say rude and hurtful things and think it's ok. I am sick of just silently carrying on, looking at the brighter things and thanking the good people. All that stuff, yes. Let's do. But I also need to do a little shaming. 

Long story short -- I had a client over spring break whose dogs had accidents in the house and were prone to marking and having excitement pee. I say in my profile that all dogs must be house trained because we don't like having accidents {Yangkyu more so than me}. I get that some dogs still do {because they are scared of thunderstorms and end up peeing out of nervousness or they don't have an appetite in a new environment and will not eat and then throw up yellow bile} and that's ok. We have also taken in dogs who may be prone to marking or have accidents on a case by case basis and when we do take them, I watch them very closely and I am at times limited in my mobility, which is fine. It's not stressful for me and very doable but not all the time {hence the case by case selection}. 

I realized that I wouldn't be able to do this once Piri goes into treatment for his cancer. He may have his good days and bad days. And on those bad days, I need to also be there for him. I explained this to my client in my last update to her. When the lady first reached out to me she said she went on travel regularly and so I definitely didn't want to pull the rug from under her should she book with me again and I am not around and she doesn't have a back up sitter. I just don't like putting people in situations where they need to scramble, so I like to give a heads up for people to plan ahead and have back up plans. 

She seemed satisfied with my previous updates but she didn't reply to my last one. Which is ok too. I don't expect replies on the updates I send.

Then the next day when she came to pick up her dogs she was so off putting, cold and rude. She was nitpicking at things - indirectly accusing me that I had too many dogs in my house and that I was hiding them upstairs, that I was not attentive to them or her dogs. I was just so confused at the sudden change in her demeanor and so I asked her if I did something to upset her and she basically said I was using Piri's cancer as an excuse to not want to look after her dogs again. She said other dog savvy people are ok with dogs having accidents in the house. 

Um. What?

I was stunned.

Wow. Really?

So you think I would use my dog's cancer as an excuse because I don't want to care for your dogs? What kind of heartless person are you...?

is what I was really thinking, but I apologized {too many times} and I kept trying to explain to her my uncertain future as Piri and I go into cancer treatment and that I won't be able to care for all three of her dogs who are accident prone and also care for mine who may also have accidents and may just need more attention than usual {or not - I just won't know}. But she kept cutting me off.

She was rude and disrespectful. Said hurtful things. She even wiped her dogs' paws {which she didn't do after picking them up for daycare previously} with wipes and proceeded to discard them on our driveway. She did said "oh I'll pick that up later" but I was just so completely disgusted with her that I said forget about it.

I kept a pleading demeanor though because I was desperate for her to understand and that I only wanted to give her time to find a back up if I wasn't around all the time during her regular travels but she was rude till the end and clearly not listening. She even said "you are still active on DogVacay." I told her I just decreased the number of dogs I take from 4 to 3 just a day ago. The reservations I did take before Piri's diagnosis I will still keep but my calendar does look busy for May and June as it says "1 spot open" because I had just lowered my maximum guest stay number. I couldn't even explain this to her because she again cut me off and was just spewing a lot of nonsense back at me. 

After she left, I got pissed. The more I thought about what this lady did got me so furious.

How dare she? 

I was angry with myself as well. Why was I so nice to her? Why did I try so hard to make her understand? Why did I keep apologizing to her? I should've just told her to get out of my house. She said "this is the last time we are coming here." I said "I'm sorry" but I should've scoffed and said "No. You seem to be mistaken. You are never welcome here again."

I was kicking myself because I didn't want her to think that I was trying to be nice because I was afraid she would give me a bad review. Or that I really wanted her business. Frankly, I don't do DogVacay to make money. It's funny, because when I had holiday bookings when I first started, I was giving away free nights because, hey! It's the holidays! And then I went and looked at other profiles and people had holiday rates - much higher than they originally charge. Wow. I felt really dumb.

I did up my price. Twice. I started out at $30 and then $35. Now I charge $40. Only because I spend a lot of time and money cleaning and making sure that my house is nice and clean for our guest dogs. I invested in a lot of thing - comfy dog beds, blankets, a good vacuum cleaner. I wash them before and after stays, along with dog toys, sofa covers, etc. I was finding out that I was spending more to maintain than I was making and so I raised my price. Plus, everything I was doing for my clients and the guest dogs - the edited pictures and detailed updates and the 24 hour supervision - I thought $40 was still a pretty darn good deal. Go to a commercial boarding place and you'll be looking to pay $60+ without the personalized messages and pictures and intimate 24 supervision in a private home. 

Anyway, I didn't want or need to keep her business. I wasn't afraid of her leaving a bad review and I was prepared to use my social media channels to respond back if she did write a nasty review. I was fully prepared to let her know that she isn't the only one who would get to do the reviewing.

The thing is, if I did a really terrible job, if I was rude to her and she was not satisfied with what I did then I totally get it. I deserve all her frustration and criticism. But not this. No. I felt it was a misunderstanding but she was just so set on not wanting to listen and hear me out. 

This was the first nasty encounter I had as a DogVacay host but it was quickly followed by wonderfully amazing guests, which made me realize once again that there are more good people out there than bad.

You would think that our streak of bad energy with people would end here, right? 

I have one more story to tell before I say good night. 

I was going to mention this as a stand alone post, and I may still so  I'll keep this one short. 

In terms of people friendliness, Key West was the absolute worst for us. It got to the point where I thought someone was playing a cruel joke. We just couldn't believe the blatant rudeness of service workers and also fellow vacationers. We did meet some wonderful people - mostly at the dog park and also on the streets {who just happen to be dog owners} but the rude people just unfortunately overshadowed the good. 

Just a highlight -- a kid literally said fuck you to us when we ran over his fish bait container which he put in the middle of the road that we couldn't see and then proceeded to give us the hand to say "it's fine, it's fine - go ahead." I couldn't let this one go and I demanded an apology which he gave but totally didn't even mean. He was rude and obnoxious till the end. This was the breaking point for me. I just couldn't wait to leave Key West afterwards.

Other times it was mainly service workers who neglected us but were attentive to other customers who came after us - they let rude people cut in line, made me wait and then when they were finally ready to help they ended up making me wait more and helped another person who just came. I mean it just got pretty ridiculous. 

You know, something similar happened at one place. Some elderly lady decided to cut in line and ask about an order she had already placed and said she wanted to pay now. The girl working there said ok and looked at me and mouthed sorry. It felt like she really meant it. Then she had a bunch of orders that came out that she needed to get out. So I waited more. But then she quickly stopped and then finally took my order.

This doesn't get me angry.

I actually could've waited more if it gives her more time to get the orders out and clear the queue. And letting the old lady cut in front? That's fine too. I bet she deals with a zillion more of those kinds of incidents and she apologized and meant it. I am ok with this. But the condescending ones. Oh. There was one too many. 

And Key West wasn't as dog friendly as it was made out to be. Dogs are not allowed on any of the beaches. They do have a dog beach but it's tiny and dirty. There were again some places that welcomed dogs {and welcome meaning not just having a filthy dog bowl in a restaurant and saying they welcome dogs}, but in the end we just didn't get that "dog friendly" vibe or the people friendly vibe either. We would never go back nor would we recommend it to others unfortunately.

Oy, it's almost 11 pm. Past my bed time. (ha!)

I just had a lot of things going on. A lot of things I wanted to get off my chest. A lot of things I just needed to write down.

It was a long long post. Thank you for reading. 

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